Monthly Archives: November 2012

Sometimes the only answer is misogyny

Two years ago, an eleven-year-old girl was gang-raped in Texas. The twenty—yes, twenty—men and boys who raped her ranged from middle-school-age to twenty-eight years old. Now, the lawyer for one of the rapists is likening the girl to a “spider” drawing “flies” into “her web.”

Oh?

You, if you are a sane, empathetic, reasonable human being, are probably wondering, “Wow, how could an adult look at the gang rape of an eleven-year-old girl and blame her for a horrible, violent encounter that will probably haunt her for the rest of her life?” You’re probably wondering how an eleven-year-old—just out of the fifth grade—could be held responsible for “seducing” twenty people into sexually assaulting her. You’re probably wondering if the lawyer ever had a daughter, or a sister, or even a mother. If you’re sane, you’re probably wondering why female victims of sexual assault are so often dissected, dehumanized and blamed for something that happens to 1 of every 6 women in the United States.

The answer is misogyny. Only a culture that harbors a deep-seated hatred for women and girls would look at this scenario and blame an eleven-year-old child for what happened to her, for what her society allowed to happen to her. The fact that some would look at this scenario and rather lay down the tired old mantel of “whore” than look honestly at what is happening to women in this country and in the world makes me tired.

Our culture hates women so much and is so uneasy about confronting the problem of rape that even eleven-year-old children are not exempt from being ostracized for the violence they have had to endure. Get me out of here. It might be time to start building my spaceship.

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American racists and denial

Like dirt, and mushrooms, and slugs, and other disgusting things, racism has been around for a long time. So long, in fact, that our culture is ingrained with it, our sensibilities steeped in it like foul, toxic tea. We’re so deeply entrenched in some things—the preference of blue eyes, light skin, and narrow noses; the hierarchy of language; the abhorrence of “ethnic”-sounding names—that sometimes we don’t notice how many of our likes, dislikes, and behaviors are symptoms of the absorption of white supremacist notions. But some things you know are racist, and any damn fool with half a brain knows they are racist. They’re….you know. Racist.

Like this fool.

According to this fine human specimen, driving around with a lynched effigy of President Obama behind his truck is not racist, “absolutely not.”

Oh yeah?

These are the kind of people I refuse to compromise with. You are a racist. Own it. Claim it. Wear it on your shirt. Get a tattoo. I don’t know a single American who isn’t aware of this country’s shameful history with lynching. Don’t play dumb. It’s not cute, nor is it convincing. Look at the picture I included with this post. This is our history. It’s been written about, taught, raged against, immortalized in film, drilled into our psyches.

Don’t pretend it isn’t there. Don’t say racism is dead. Racism is a zombie, rising from the grave, as long as cretins like you exist to keep ripping our hearts out with your teeth.

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Zombies, Hope, and the Easy Way Out

My fascination with zombie culture isn’t a morbid one. Zombie film and literature is exciting for its undead mandibles chewing through civilization, but it’s not the gore that keeps me entranced by what I call the Zombie Movement. The Walking Dead is appealing for what must be award-winning zombie make-up but that’s not what makes me turn to AMC every Sunday. It’s something else; something existential.

What fascinates me about zombie culture is the hypothetical after. I never get tired of different artists’ suppositions on what this world will look like, what our humanity will become, when something rocks our foundations and leaves us irrevocably changed. Because something will change us, and I am eternally interested in what it will be and how we will react to whatever it is.

Maybe I am just a misanthrope, and my curiosity about the After is a gruesome excitement for the end of human reign and the taking up of the torch by another supremacy; perhaps of a kingdom I like better—the reign of the platypus, perhaps, or the lemur. Maybe I like nature too much, because the idea of the Empire State Building covered in moss and vines excites me beyond all reason.

But maybe it’s because underneath all my cynicism is hope. I dread the idea that it would take a zombie apocalypse to bring out the good in us, but somewhere in the zombie fascination is the idea that if we could just start over, press the reset button, begin again, we could get things right. The zombies might eat more than flesh—they might eat capitalism, world war, colonialism.

But that’s the easy way out, isn’t it? We’d rather the undead eat all our problems than solve them ourselves? Typical. But it’s great as social theory.

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And she doesn’t even get to tap that ass

I saw Skyfall this weekend. All in all, I found it entertaining, exciting, and better than Quantum of Solace. But, like any person with an awareness for the institutions of patriarchy and racism, I found it difficult to turn off my brain.

Naomie Harris is Skyfall’s quasi-Bond Girl. “Quasi” because people will argue that she plays Eve Moneypenny, neither villain nor sexpot. She is pretty and smart and black.

And she shaves James Bond’s face.

Aside from Daniel Craig’s whiteness, did no one else think of The Color Purple during this scene? I did. Maybe being a Cultural Studies major in college ruined me—analyze everything; deconstruct everything; be wearied by everything—but the idea that a young, beautiful, intelligent agent is reduced to performing such a menial task, a servant’s duty, for her white male counterpart makes me bristle.

Even worse? I don’t even think she got to tap that ass. When Bond sleeps with the sex slave of the villain later in the movie, we know they got it on. It was blatant, another exhibit in the Bond Museum of Sexploits. But Miss Moneypenny? She just shaves his face and then, they tell us, helps him get dressed.

I get it, shaving a guy’s face in the context of an already absurdly over-the-top action movie can be construed as sexy. I guess? But at least let her get some booty. Why should the damsel-in-distress-exotic-white-woman have all the fun? Bond is not the only character with a libido. His desire is fulfilled by the exotic white woman, while Moneypenny’s is left unsatisfied. I bet if Moneypenny had known she’d be playing the chambermaid when she walked in Bond’s hotel room, she’d say Mr. Bond can shave his face his damn self.

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Internet Jungle

Approaching the Internet is like approaching a recently-domesticated tiger. Is it ever really tame? You had a good experience last time—but this doesn’t mean you won’t get mauled on your next visit. I remember the Internet from when I was a tourist; a far cry from the convert, the citizen, the card-carrier I am now. I was ten or eleven. My brother and I were old enough to type “sex” into the search engine (AskJeeves or something similarly phased-out) but young enough to still giggle at the contorted orgiastic renderings we came across. The pages were shittily built: shady message boards populated with excitedly prowling pedophiles—“a/s/l? oh you’re so mature for your age, come visit me in New York ;)”—and exuberant racists, stoked at the idea of real anonymity; the kind of anonymity even a white hood doesn’t provide.

Every now and then I still get glimpses of that version of the Internet. The comment threads on Fox News articles; YouTube trolls; posts on politicians’ Facebook pages. Donald Trump’s Twitter feed—not anonymous, but alike in its enthusiasm for all things vile and vapid. I wonder what everyone wonders: what did these people do with their bile before the Internet came along and gave them the microphone their cringing malice required?

As my first post on my (new) blog, I will begin with this: this is not a place for that side of the Internet. That side of the Internet can stay among its company of #racisthashtags and suicide encouragement on teenage girls’ Facebook walls. Stay over there. This may not always be a place for unicorns and Cresty smiles…but it will never be a place for ugliness.