Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Reason Behind It All

Last night I had the most horrific nightmare.

Too many films and articles and stories of rape, sex trafficking and forced prostitution seem to have seeped into my subconscious which decided to put me through horrors in my sleep I've never experienced in waking life.

When I woke up it hit me rather hard (I'm still feeling a little bruised) that this is exactly why so many women put up with anti-feminist sledging and the hassles of being the so-called 'fun police.'

Because this is the stuff at the heart of it all. All our theorizing, all our whining and weary explanations of why rape jokes aren't funny and sexist advertising is offensive - this, THIS is why we bother.

Because every day, in every country women* go through unimaginable ordeals, the stuff of nightmares, fear and pain worse than anything even my subconscious can conjure up, and the only way to stop it is to continue to get angry, to continue to be the fun police and continue to explain to people why rape jokes AREN'T FUNNY.

I really just wanted to express my ardent love and admiration for all the women who persevere in this quest, despite the unpleasant side effects.

And in particular these women (and a few men), who remind me of this quest every day:

Sady Doyle
Cara Kulwicki
Les Feministes
Melissa McEwan and the Shakers
The Harpys
The Evil Slut Clique

Love, chlamydia and hobbit feet my dears, xx.

*Yes women. I know men are also victims of sex-related crimes but I'm a little bit tired of being politically correct about including them when as a whole they seem to remain frustratingly unsympathetic towards humanist ideals. The fact remains that women form the majority of the abused, and men form the majority of the abusers, for goodness sake accept it, and instead of arguing over the unfairness of generalizations, how 'bout you do something to change it.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

This Crazy Notion of Mine

I've had this notion for quite some time now, and its lately been compounded by two events; discovering (via The Curvature) this blog on disability and reading this post on life before and after the personal discovery of feminism.

This notion, is that learning about feminism makes you a better person.
It very quickly came to my attention when I delved into the madness that is the feminist blogging culture, that feminists overwhelming tend to also be gay rights activists, race equality activists and heavily into equality for the disabled. Maybe it seems logical to you that minority causes would stick together like this but I really don't think that's the only reason, or even the main one and this is why:

My first encounter with feminism was with a rage-filled sister, newly introduced to feminist theory and culture through her gender studies class, hers was a fiery, Sheila Jeffreys inspired baptism. She earnestly related to me her new found ideals, pouring hard-line feminist vitriol all over my utterly ideal-less slate. I was studying a science degree and the culture I had spent two years at university assimilating was generally focused on beer. I rebelled. It was too much, too different, too challenging. I couldn't wrap my head around ideas so different from my socially constructed world in which I cared a lot more about what high heels cost than whether or not they were a tool of THE PATRIACHY. And whatever the cause, I simply could not embrace the decision to admit that I was wrong. Wrong in my ignorance, wrong in my acceptance, wrong in my perpetuation of THE PATRIACHY. But my sister persevered, and, in not such a long space of time, I came to see things the way she did. And once our initial the-world-is-an-evil-manland-and-i-must-change-everything-now passion subsided into a calmer understanding, THE PATRIACHY became just The Patriachy and we began to apply more practical codes of living to our ideals.*

But I seem to have wandered down the path of nostalgia - my point was that, "I simply could not embrace the decision to admit that I was wrong. Wrong in my ignorance, wrong in my acceptance, wrong in my perpetuation..."

Now, whenever I am faced with a scenario of racism, able-ism or any other 'ism', and I begin to think to myself, 'they are exaggerating', or, 'yes but they're different', or, 'but I don't do that, because I am open-minded and awesome', I recall this rebellion and realize that I am behaving the same way non-feminists do when they are frustrating the hell out of me. They are refusing to listen, leaning back on what they know, what is easy and what keeps things in order. They don't want to feel guilty, and they don't want to look so hard at a society that treats them so well.

Neither do I
and that is why I have to push myself, have to always second guess my initial reaction to these scenarios, why I educate myself as much as possible, why I try so hard to trust the claims of injustice from other groups in the way that I wish men (and women) would trust mine. And god do I get tired of it.

(It doesn't just extend to minority causes either, I find many feminists also involved in environmental movements, animal rights efforts, criminal politics, general human rights... it's not a coincidence, each cause brings new insight and understanding to the next. I was convinced of vegetarianism via feminist theory, go figure.)

There are so many things to be open-minded about, my mind just isn't big enough, I tell you, it won't all fit. When you include the unfairness and the sickening persecution at the hands of sexists, racists, able-ists and fuckwits, its overwhelming, and working to avoid being part of any of those groups is hard. Working to try and convince others to avoid it is even harder; its damn near impossible and so devastatingly frustrating that I barely see the point at all. But I have to keep at it, because as tiring as it may be, ideals are like heroin, and once you try it, even if it fucks up your life, its awfully hard to stop.

*I may have stopped screaming at someone every time they say something sexist, but my rage has barely cooled in that area, I'm just better at controlling it.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Fame plus Time equals Amnesty

A friend of mine recently wrote (on facebook) about the Roman Polanski situation. In the briefest of terms the situation is this:

Roman Polanski (world renowned director) was charged and convicted of the rape of a 13yr old girl in the US in the 70's. He served 42 days before being fleeing the country prior to being sentenced. The defense presented the usual 'she consented' argument and Polanski pleaded guilty to statutory rape.

This friend, is generally very sympathetic to my feminist musings (and is also very intelligent and very pretty.) But this friend hesitates over the issue of consent, and the seriousness of statutory rape vs. rape. In particular she mentions -

The girl said at the time that she said "no" a few times, but other witnesses for Polanski indicate that she seemed willing and "all over him". I'm happy to assume she did say no but the fact is he was not convicted of rape so he cannot be sentenced as if he was. Furthermore it appears that he did believe she was of age, a belief encouraged by her mother.

She finds herself conflicted, as many do, over his responsibility in the crime and generally comes to the conclusion that he should receive a suspended sentence or probation. While I can definitely see how she has reached these conclusions, I whole-heartedly disagree with them.

In response:

First up, it's rape, regardless of consent etc., sex with a a minor is illegal, and minors, by law cannot consent to sex with an adult. Not knowing the age of the minor does not excuse you from the legal complications. All of this is without debate.

Second, in regards to consent - all of those things, that she was all over him, that she looked older, that her mother encouraged it, they are lines of defense tried and tested by men (and women) for decades and I'm sick of hearing them, if the circumstances of consent are shady, then the likelihood that she was not fully consenting is very high. If he was sticking his cock in her while she was hesitating about the situation but not kicking and screaming, she was not 'consenting' she was confused (and at 13 ,in the presence of a celebrity who she was in awe of - probably way out of her depth.)Consent is not the absence of vocal distress or physical resistance, it implies WILLINGNESS, not just a lack of objection. So it's rape, whether the issue of consent is less defined for you or not, it's still rape by law, at the very least, stat rape, which he was charged with and pleaded guilty to.

So what to do with him? I understand the fleeing, fuck, his life was about to be ruined, I'd have a shot at fleeing too (although how he thought he'd get away with it completely is beyond me.) I don't think it's necessary to further punish him for that, but then I don't really care either. It was 30 years ago? I don't care. 30 years ago he raped a 13 year old girl. Time doesn't make it go away, I don't think it should make a single bit of difference. The only deterrent I can see to forcing him to serve time is the calls from the girl that the whole thing be dropped. If anyone even remembers at this point - she's the one whose life has been fucked by this, not his. She's the victim and the one everyone is supposed to be trying to help, not the guy who abused her. Everyone deserves compassion, and he's not a serial rapist, nor does he seem particularly violent, but that doesn't change what he did - imagine if you or your 13yr old daughter was raped and the cunt that did it didn't have to serve time because, well, he was a pretty good guy generally and you know, it was all a mistake. Fuck off.

The only reason this is even an issue is because he's famous (and brilliant) - the same thing is happening with John MacKenzie currently (singer from The Mama's and Papa's who drugged and raped his daughter over a 10 year period) no-one wants to think badly of them because THEY are attached to their idea of these people as brilliant benevolent artists, they don't want to think badly of them because it makes them uncomfortable - how selfish is that? 'I'm sorry you were raped and abused, but look, I really like this song/film and I don't want to have to feel uncomfortable when I hear/see it, so we're just going to have to ignore your pain okay?'

Again, 13 yr old girl = VICTIM. Why is
there even discussion regarding Polanski as a person, it doesn't matter. It's blatant discrimination - you can be sure that if the rapist were black, Arab, poor or anything other than a white upper class male (or probably female) in an idealized industry there would be no discussion. Seriously, why is there even sympathy for Polanski? He raped a girl, where is the public sympathy for HER? At the very most he deserves compassion, but certainly not respect or public support.

So if we're looking at what's best for the victim - then maybe the charged should be dropped as that's what she seems to want? Perhaps. Or perhaps that sends completely the wrong message - do you really want to set precedent that says rape is sometimes okay, under the right circumstances? That says famous white men can get away with sex crimes? That says if you flee sentencing, time will erase your crime?

Maybe he's sorry, maybe he really is a great guy who made a mistake, maybe every circumstance
was in his favor, maybe he's tried to make amends. Is any or all of that worth the implications of letting him off?