Roman Polanski: Still a rapist

July 27, 2010 § 4 Comments

by MIRANDA

Yep, still.

Another woman, Edith Vogelhut, has come forward with allegations that Roman Polanski raped her. (The video interview and transcribed quotes are worth a look, albeit with an enormous trigger warning. The acts described are, obviously, vile.) She says the rape occured in 1974, three years before the rape of Samantha Geimer, to which Polanski admitted responsibility and for which he was convicted. And for which, if you’ll recall, he spent approximately zero seconds in prison. Vogelhut is the third woman to come forward, after Geimer and Charlotte Lewis.

Anyone want to wager how many asshat “artists” have already taken it upon themselves to defend Polanski on the grounds that his films are totes awesome? Or take a gander at just how much “justice” will be served, this time around?

Fuck.

As I wrote recently (in a comment on C. L. Minou’s excellent response to the Swiss government’s refusal to extradite Polanski to the United States): This Polanski shit continues to BLOW MY FUCKING MIND, and also not, because I guess I should know by now that basically the whole world thinks rape is okay.

Rape Culture Rears its Ugly Head (Again)

July 14, 2010 § 1 Comment

Trigger Warning.

Do you know what ruined my morning? What filled me with a blinding, seething rage? What made me really really sad?

This movie poster right here. The one for the I Spit On Your Grave remake.

Now I was almost tempted not to link to it or write this post so as not to give this piece of shit more publicity, but I couldn’t. Not only is this poster heinous, exploitative bullshit, but it also perfectly personifies the serious problem of rape culture in America.

I did some research and the film is about the brutal gang rape of a young woman, who manages to survive. She then goes on to exact revenge on all of her torturers. It was first released in 1978 to much controversy. It was originally entitled Day of the Woman and released under the guise of a female empowerment film, though apparently the way in which she “empowered” herself after the half-hour long, brutal, leaving-nothing-to-the-imagination rape scene, was to track down her rapists, seduce them (excuses for the actress to be naked again), and then torture and kill them in gruesome ways.

The most empowering thing I’ve ever heard.

Let’s get this straight. Let’s lay it out one more time. Rape is not a sexual act. Rape is not sex. Rape is not about sexuality or attraction. Rape is rape. Rape is about humiliating, degrading, and removing all power from the victim. I don’t care how you want to spin it, Cinetel Films in association with Anchor Bay Films or anyone else involved in the creation of and marketing of this film. This poster is about sex. This poster is about her ass and her bare back. So what if there’s encrusted blood and bruises covering her upper thighs and back from her TRAUMATIC RAPE? Look at that body!

This is reprehensible. This is sick. This goes beyond blurring the line between rape and sex–it smashes them together into one thing for your (the general public’s) enjoyment.

And the worst part of this whole thing? Countless people will see this poster and not blink an eye. Because these types of images are normal in our culture. Hell, they’re expected.

Update: Pajiba already has a brilliant takedown up. For more rage, click here.

Maureen Dowd…gets it right?

June 9, 2010 § Leave a comment

Oh, Maureen Dowd. I never quite know how to approach her writing. Occasionally she’s very smart and irreverent in the best way, and at those times her accomplishments as a successful, mainstream female journalist make me proud. More often, though, I accidentally read something she’s written (seriously, I never seek out this stuff) and think: What? Also: Why?

Like this: “Even as he grows arugula in the White House vegetable garden, Barack Obama never again wants to be seen as the hoity-toity guy fretting over the price of arugula at Whole Foods. That is why the president ends up sending mixed signals on food.” …By talking about the nutritional importance of fruits and veggies, and then sometimes eating a hamburger. Or something. Seriously, what? (Sweet Machine had an excellent takedown, which included the delightfully LOL-worthy line, “Seriously, why does ANYBODY mistake MoDo for a feminist, ever? Is it because she is a woman with a job?”)

Or this: “Al Gore is so feminized and diversified and ecologically correct that he’s practically lactating.” What. Can. This POSSIBLY Mean.

But — in true Dowd fashion — I digress.

The point is she had a fairly great piece up yesterday about a truly disgusting group of young men at Landon, “an elite private grade school and high school for boys in [a] wealthy Washington suburb.”

Before they got caught last summer, the boys had planned an “opening day party,” complete with T-shirts, where the mission was to invite the drafted girls and, unbeknownst to them, score points by trying to rack up as many sexual encounters with the young women as possible.

…In The Washington Post, the sports columnist Sally Jenkins wrote about the swagger of young male athletes and the culture of silence that protects their thuggish locker-room behavior.

…Jean Erstling, Landon’s director of communications, said…that “Landon has an extensive ethics and character education program which includes as its key tenets respect and honesty. Civility toward women is definitely part of that education program.”

Time for a curriculum overhaul. Young men everywhere must be taught, beyond platitudes, that young women are not prey.

Wow! It is a surprising day when I concur with Maureen Dowd. But it has come! We are in agreement! On this one, at least.

Average people do not do terrible things of their own volition. I refuse to believe it! I am too much of an optimist. Because let me tell you something: If I believed, as our culture seems to, that men are rapacious beasts whose thirst for violence cannot be quelled, I would have given up on all of this so, so long ago. I would have given up on this blog, on daring to talk and write about sexual violence, on feminist organizing, on having the audacity to travel alone whenever and wherever I please. I would have given up on men, and I would have given up on my own freedom. But luckily, I haven’t. Because I believe that, in the majority of cases (though certainly not all), rape happens because of the intricate process of socialization that teaches boys that rape is okay, or at the very least, not a big deal. This process is part of the enormous and far-reaching tentacles of rape culture, the cultural meme that encourages and condones sexual violence against women.

Most men rape because of opportunity, because someone is vulnerable and because they’ve got an entire culture backing them up, because they haven’t been taught that it’s wrong, because they think — often correctly — that they can get away with it.

As Bernard Lefkowitz painstakingly documented in his book Our Guys, about the culture of a tight-knit New Jersey town that allowed the gang rape of a mentally retarded young woman — by her classmates and childhood friends – not only to happen, but also to be excused: “These Glen Ridge kids, they were pure gold, every mother’s dream, every father’s pride. They were not only Glen Ridge’s finest, but in their perfection they belonged to all of us.” These rapists were not anomalies. Far from it. Indeed, they were the perfect products of our misogynistic culture.

Sexual violence is not a stand-alone problem; it lies on a patriarchal continuum of all the tiny ways we wrong women, all the time, every day, at home, at work, on the street, in the doctor’s office, on the subway, in advertisements, in the classroom, in the courtroom, on the silver screen, all across the infinite internet. When the world treats women like shit, how can we expect our sons and brothers and classmates to learn that it’s not okay to treat women like shit?

Consider This

June 5, 2010 § Leave a comment

Just another reminder that only “yes” means yes, another reminder of the importance of enthusiastic consent.

Via PostSecret, “an ongoing community art project where people mail in their secrets anonymously on one side of a postcard.”

Here are some things you should know

May 19, 2010 § 1 Comment

Here are some values that I think are wonderful: Accountability. Respect. Honesty. Sex-positivity.

Here is a poster that I think is beautiful — literally gorgeous, literally having the power to bring tears to my eyes:

Here is an organization that is doing incredible work: Men Can Stop Rape.

Just, you know, FYI.

Rape Apologists, Celebrity Edition

May 18, 2010 § Leave a comment

You may be a great filmmaker Woody Allen, but you are also a rape apologist.

Bummer.

Are you fucking serious?

May 17, 2010 § 4 Comments

Trigger warning.

This is a real thing: a Facebook group that can be “liked” by users, entitled “That awkward silence during rape.” So that if someone you know finds rape hilarious, the statement “So-and-so likes that awkward silence during rape” will appear on your news feed.

REPORT THIS SHIT. Scroll to the bottom left corner of the page and REPORT THIS. TELL YOUR FRIENDS. REPORT THE FUCK OUT OF THIS ASTOUNDING BULLSHIT.

I repeat: what happens online matters. I repeat: rape is not a joke.

UPDATE: It looks like the original page has been dissolved. But I encourage you to report these similar groups: the awkward silence after the rape; It isn’t r.a.p.e…. It’s SURPRISE SEX. (:; to rape you. …The list goes on and on.

I am truly horrified.

My Rape Schedule

May 8, 2010 § 11 Comments

Last night I walked into the subway station and pulled out my wallet just as a train was pulling in. I scrambled to swipe my MetroCard and ran into the train as the doors were closing. Settling on a seat and tucking away my wallet, I slowly noticed that the car was empty except for me and a 35-ish-year-old man a few seat blocks over.

My first thought: I should switch cars at the next station.

My next thought: But he doesn’t look dangerous. (What makes someone look dangerous?)

And then: Even if he doesn’t look dangerous, I still shouldn’t be here alone. What a terrible idea. What if something happens?

And then, as we sat in peaceful silence from station to station, I came to the best realization of all: We could sit here, alone, for days and days, and he would not rape me if he is not a rapist.

Image from Shakesville.

What a fucking revolutionary idea!

See, women are told from birth that men can’t help themselves. They just can’t resist. Girls and women are supposed to control their appetites, their body odors, their excretions, their facial expressions, their words, their sexual cravings. Men and boys? Can do whatever the fuck they want. Guys who eat as much as they like, burp, sweat, use impolite phrasing, and have sex when and how they please are neither reprimanded nor socially punished; often, in fact, they are glorified. And men who rape? Are usually just “boys being boys.”

Here’s the thing: nothing makes rape happen except a rapist. Not being drunk, not wearing “slutty” clothes, not walking home alone, not leaving your drink momentarily out of sight, not being passed out, not agreeing to some sexual acts but not others, not retracting agreement in the moment. Men are capable of resisting these opportunities to rape, because rape is not about sex, it’s not about pleasure — it is about control.

The threat of violence is a universal experience for women and queer people. It binds us together. And the organization of our lives according to a rape schedule is not easy; it takes mental effort. And it starts early — I remember being concerned about sexual assault as early as 11 years old, and planning my route to the subway accordingly. Can you imagine what we might use that brainspace for? There are so many other beautiful, fascinating and lovely thoughts that might fill the space that we are forced to reserve for violence prevention. Men do not have to negotiate the constant threat of violence in the same way as women; their minds are unburdened by how to prevent attacks — and prove that such attacks were not their own fault.

It is not too much to ask men not to rape; indeed, it is insulting to insist that they are incapable of treating people with dignity and respect.

I refuse to accept a life planned around the threat of violence. I refuse to accept that I should tailor my comings and goings to a rape schedule. And I refuse to accept that rape is anything but a violent, cold-hearted, and inescapably deliberate act.

I’m keeping my seat.

Facebook Continues to be Fucked Up

December 26, 2009 § 2 Comments

Here’s a little gem that just popped up in my news feed, courtesy of a new application called Sex Jokes for iPhone:

An escaped convict, imprisoned for 1st degree murder, had spent 25 years of his life sentence in prison. While on the run, he broke into a house and tied up a young couple who had been sleeping in the bedroom. He tied the man to a chair on one side of the room and his wife on the bed. He got on the bed right over the woman, and it appeared he was kissing her neck. Suddenly he got up and left the room. As soon as possible the husband made his way across the room to his bride, his chair in tow, and whispered, “Honey, this guy hasn’t seen a woman in years. I saw him kissing on your neck and then he left in a hurry. Just cooperate and do anything he wants. If he wants to have sex with you, just go along with it and pretend you like it. Whatever you do don’t fight him or make him mad. Our lives depend on it! Be strong and I love you.” After spitting out the gag in her mouth, the half naked wife says: “Dear, I’m so relieved you feel that way. You’re right, he hasn’t seen a woman in years, but he wasn’t kissing my neck…He was whispering in my ear. He said he thinks you’re really cute and asked if we kept the Vaseline in the bathroom. Be strong and I love you, too.”

Who could have possibly thought that this “sex” (read: rape) joke was a good idea? Oh, that’s right, disgusting hatemongers.

This is what justice looks like?

November 30, 2009 § 1 Comment

Yeah, so. This is the Swiss chalet where Roman Polanski — an admitted, convicted, and escaped rapist — will be confined to house arrest after being released on bail.

From the LA Times:

A Swiss justice officials was quoted by AFP and Swiss news media as saying Polanski would be allowed to make unlimited phone calls and have full access to e-mail and the Internet. Although he cannot leave his house, he can invite friends over and throw parties at the tony chalet in the ski resort of Gstaad.

Hey Polanski, hope you can bear to stay inside your gorgeous, expensive house — while rape survivors and allies the world over gag at the apalling lack of justice your case has produced.

Via Shakesville.

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