Friday, September 15, 2006

really chicago tribune, really?

what a gross, manipulative, racist, ridiculous statement in the first place. and then they made it a headline (Chicago Tribune, Sept 12):

"U.S. in 'struggle for civilization'"
"Bush says nation's safety depends on victory in Iraq"

Way to make the colonial racist ideology (civilized/uncivilized needing saving, inferior cultures/races, inherently violent peoples... without discussing the U.S. actions and violence people might be reacting to) really painfully obvious. And also to continue manipulating people's emotions and linking September 11th to Iraq, which has been discredited sooo many times even in the mainstream media... but apparently the Tribune missed that...

Tuesday, September 12, 2006


your supervisor at your new job, who isn't that old and in fact you think is/looks on the young side for such a supervisor, is being really nice and offering to let you borrow her music. shes showing you what she has, and says, blah blah blah "old lady music." also keep in mind that you are trying to not appear ridiculously young or unprofessional, as you feel, in this job.

correct response: that's ok, i like a lot of different kinds of music!
incorrect response: that's ok, i listen to my mom's music all the time! (to which your supervisor sorrowfully responds, oh, wow, i guess i am old enough to be your mom)

guess which one I chose?

Rape in fiction. and non fiction also.

Theangryblackwoman recently had a good post about fucked up uses of rape in fiction and tv/movies. It made me think about some stuff I've been discussing (and sometimes arguing about) lately with some friends and my mom. She brought up some great points (I suggest you go check it out), including:

"...I am tired of seeing rape on my TV and in my fiction because it’s never addressed, it’s used, and used badly, and used for all the wrong reasons. Because it’s used and abused by writers and filmmakers and media people we run the risk of trivializing rape. Or, worse, seeing it as something slightly arousing...That point comes when it stops being about helping, informing, or supporting women and becomes more about how many people they can shock and how many ratings points that will generate. And that is really disgusting..."

"In other media, particularly in SF/F media, rape is thrown in as a plot point, or for a bit of easy characterization. As I said above, if you see a character raping someone, that is usually an indication that the character is meant to be evil. It’s quick and easy for the creator to do this. I wonder if they even consider the implications of it?

Another way creators use rape is to show that a character (99% of the time a female one) is ’strong’. She may have been raped, but that didn’t reduce her to a snivelling mess, oh no! She got angry! She got strong! She got even! Thus passively putting down any woman who was actually raped and did not react in that way. This is also quick characterization, and it’s just as cheap and lazy as ‘he’s a rapist so we know he’s the bad guy’.

The problem with this use of rape in fiction and media is twofold. It’s cheap and lazy, as I said, and it’s also using rape instead of addressing it. When we see rape in media, we see it used as a way for men to exert their power over women, or used as a way to tell us something about a character, or used to drive a plot in a certain direction, or used to highlight vulnerability, depravity, and power struggles FOR ENTERTAINMENT ."

She also brings up the idea of "eternal rapeability" of female characters, that they are always rapeable, and that this is a stupid shortcut for character development to show how feminine or innocent or good these characters are.

Here are the comments I left about the post - I'm just going to paste 'em in for the sake of sleeping because I have to go to work in less than 6 hours. Here it is:

I like your point that in addition to it being a lazy and abusive characterization technique it is “also using rape instead of addressing it.”

One day I sat down with my sister while she was watching Law & Order Special Victims Unit, which is basically all about women who have been brutally raped and/or killed. It really pissed me off. It was very gratuitous, and the entertainment/plot of the show was centered around rape - what the hell? It also bothered me because it seemed to reinscribe women as helpless victims, again and again and again. And also white women as delicate, innocent, pure victims of violence that everyone should be enraged or mourning over. Like we are powerless and should never walk around at night or talk to strangers. This also helps reinforce the power of men as saviors/protectors/avengers, which is messed up, and police/violent state power as the solution. So you need the violent state power, that is what protects rather than threatens people, and that it should be embraced and thanked rather than questioned.

Another offender: the movie El Leyton, used a rape like it was a normal sex scene - meant to be titillating and passed off as acceptable and that the women actually wanted it.

Another thing that irks me about almost all portrayals of rape, fictional and nonfictional, is the emphasis on huge scary violent stranger rapes. People touched on this (comments 7-9), but it distorts the idea of rape into only such an event rather than focusing on acquaintance rapes (it’s estimated that 80% know their attacker). This is really harmful for a lot of reasons: -inhibits discussions of effective prevention strategies
-prevents discussions of harmful versions of masculinity and our rape culture
-gives everyone a “not me” attitude (both those at risk of perpetrating and being violated)
-makes survivors feel like they haven’t actually been raped, or it’s their fault, or that they can’t talk about it because it will give their friend/acquaintance/loved one a demonized Rapist reputation
-limits mobility & independence of women/people read as women at night
-encourages car culture (rather than walking, public transit)
-encourages/allows racialized and racist fantasies of men of color attackers among many white women (and family/friends), with a lot of help from the news media. This kind of racism can be particularly difficult for people to recognize or challenge because there is this ultimate (hysterical) justification of rape, so therefore nothing, even racist and inaccurate ideas, can be challenged

P.S. I really need to become more concise, look how long just that comment was!

Friday, September 08, 2006

el embarazo milagroso, or, get in my BELLY!

Starting, especially creating, things is usually overwhelming for me and I procrastinate. And then I don't do things that I wanted or needed to do. So I'm going to start with something that seems easier to write, a story about what happened today.

Today, I was wearing an outfit that shows my belly when it's been more than 3 seconds since I adjusted it (too big skirt + too small short-style shirt + big belly = lots of hiking up & down), probably inappropriate for my second day of work in an office. Oh well. Anyways, after waiting too long for the train, I get on, and am standing with about 15 other seat-less people in the car. A woman looked at me and quickly offered me her seat. I told her I was fine, but she was already standing up. So I sat down, thinking that my feet were tired and she probably was just positioning herself to get off the crowded train at the next stop. But she doesn't get off, several more stops go by, and as soon as another seat opens up she rushes for it. I think she thinks I'm pregnant. I'm young, my disproportionate belly is hanging out (and I think my pump was hidden), and why else would she be so insistent?
Then I start to think... on this crowded train, do I now have to play the part? Slash would it be fun to do so and mess with people? I start thinking about the conversations that would happen when somehow someone asks and I either lie and say that I am or come clean that I'm not, it's just a big belly and now I'm enjoying this seat, HA jokes on you. And I was thinking why I might want or not want to say that to someone, or tell this story in general. I would not be afraid to say it because I am embarassed that my belly was fat/round/disproportionate enough to be mistaken for a pregnancy. On good days, I actively like my shape. How it looks aesthetically/beautywise and the idea that I can take up space and mess with ingrained values of thinness and other related issues. On pretty bad days, I might not feel those ways, but I wouldn't feel actively embarassed either.

I would hesitate to say it to someone because I would be worried/mad about them feeling sorry for me, bad, or embarassed for the situation (or that I was trying to elicit that reaction and some pity or reassurance for it). This would imply that I was either making a negative comment about myself or trying to mitigate an insult that had been thrown at me. That I did not want to look pregnant or fat. This runs on the basic common assumption that looking fat = bad. That it's something to avoid. Even if you disagree with that assumption, it's hard to break out of it, or even to see that it is there, because its so a part of the way we think that it seems natural.

This might lead a compassionate listener to be uncomfortable if they thought I was telling a story that was painful to me or that I was being self-deprecating by assuming that someone thought I was pregnant. It might also lead them to deny that my belly looked pregnant as a consolation that the supposed insult was not accurate, so therefore not hurtful.

I wanted to avoid bringing up exclusive to certain people/classes theory, but this really makes me think of the Butler essay on speech and some other stuff we read in critical race theory. The idea that it can be useful/powerful to not automatically assume injury from phrases that have historically been hurtful. If you don't automatically take it as an insult, it gives you room to step back and question why it's harmful - like that assumption that fat=bad, and then possibly not take it as harmful. reclaim it. if you don't believe in the anti-fat idea that its based on, then it might not hurt if someone class you that. also, another related point that is that making this insult into a big deal puts emphasis on the harm this one individual is doing to another; the problem is a mean/rude person rather than a larger system of power and ideas in society that is the problem.

however... it's also really important to consider the current situation. and that it can be tiring or impossible to fight things and go against the grain all the time. one person can't just undo all the societal stuff because you want to, it still is in you and affects you. so, you might not always want to try to deal with rethinking all of these things that have a hurtful social meaning. the compassionate listener trying to make you feel better according to the rules/assumptions of the current social reality might be just want you want or need.

(and people that I talked to about this, I promise I'm not talking about you! or annoyed with at all! I was thinking about this before and also the way we're socialized I think its hard not to act in certain ways).

Either way, for some reason the idea is in my head and I shift my notebook so that it's not squashed against my body. I also became aware of carrying myself carefully walking off the train.

Enough rambling. I am way too long-winded. This is partly why I worry about blogging - maybe this is just stupid and unthoughtful self-centered stuff. I didn't go into class, gender, race, and sexuality assumptions that are a lot of the reasons that made this a more interesting/funny story to me because it's based on it being strange or funny that I would be pregnant.

I wanted to start this to encourage myself to think critially and write, or to keep thinking critically and practicing writing. I also want to get feedback from, dialogue with, but especially be challenged by friends and other people reading this. I think I'm wanting this partly because I had a lot of these things in school and I feel like I've had a lot less since I graduated. I want to keep doing it for my own sake, and to not lose sight of my politics/goals/ideals while having less directed time to think about it and possibly working in jobs not entirely in line with them.
I'll figure out more/write more later about what I want this blog to be. Actually, maybe I won't. Just writing would be better.