pktechgirlbackup: (pktechgirl)
Ginger Snaps is an extended werewolves:puberty/sexuality metaphor. I'm usually annoyed by overt metaphors, but in this case I think it worked, it part because it was so full of context. The relationship between the two leads is wonderfully nuanced right at the outset,* to the point I think you could base a more talky movie on it all by itself. So when menstruation/werewolfization changes it, it actually means something.

Recently I've talked a lot about how comedy can be used to breech people's defensiveness on sensitive topics to get them to hear points of view they otherwise wouldn't. Ginger Snaps does something... similar? opposite? Basically, I can see myself taking someone who was well meaning but clueless and obstinate** and telling them "you remember how Bridget felt when werewolfism led her sister to push her way? Yeah, puberty can do that all on its own, and it feels exactly like that."

Scare wise, it's okay but not astonishing. It started me and scared my hilariously easy to terrify boyfriend. Most of the actors are great, although one of the two leads is either mediocre or has too strong a theater influence. It is not a great sign that I thought this movie came out 15 years before it actually did. And yet, it did some really difficult, important things that very few movies even attempt, and it did them really well. And its mediocrities hew very close to genre standards. So I'm going to say it's definitely worth watching but I hope that 50 years from now it's interesting as an example of where our culture was at the time, rather than a classic.

*It's also got some brilliant examples of how girls use sexuality/fear of sexuality to police each other, which you do not see very often.

**Again, when obstinance costs you your well-meaning card is a tricky subject.
pktechgirlbackup: (pktechgirl)
Long, long ago, a blogger I liked posted about the prison healthcare system. It's atrocious everyone in the USA, but especially in her state of California. CA has tried to save money by using private prisons, which were handling prisoner health care horribly (although it's not clear to me how it compared to state-run prisons). She had a longstanding fascination with libertarianism, and asked "Libertarian readers, I think private prisons are a thing you support, and I think they're doing really horrible things here. What is your stance? What health care do you think prisoners should have, and how should we get it to them?" As I remember it, she was talking less about responses to obvious, acute things like stabbing, and more about things that were fuzzy and chronic.

My response? "I think the biggest contribution we could make to inmate health is to stop putting them in rape factories. Until we've dealt with the prison rape problem, worrying about cancer treatment is misplaced." Which, I will admit, sounds dangerously close to "you can't have feelings about men violating your clearly stated boundaries while female circumcision is practiced". But I don't think it's the same, and not just because we're actually talking about the same people and institutions in my example. What I wanted to convey was that the institutional rot in prisons was deep, and leading to worse outcomes than prisoners dying of cancer, and removing the rot would require a complete rethinking of how prisons work. This would probably incidentally help with the health care issue too. Libertarianism has a lot to say about whether jail is ever justified, and if so for what crimes, and how do we determine that, but by the time someone is in prison? Consumer choice is by definition absent, and libertarianism is irrelevant.

That was how I felt reading Emily Yoffe's widely disparaged piece on alcohol and sexual assault First, I wanted to punch her for acting like she was a lone brave voice fighting against a feminist conspiracy to leave women ignorant of gender-specific dangers.* Then I wanted to punch her for conflating "drunk but functional woman consents to acts she wouldn't have while sober" and "alcohol renders woman incapable of physically preventing an assault." Then I wanted to punch her for saying it was her daughter's "responsibility" to prevent her own rape but merely "advantageous" for her imaginary son to avoid being accused of rape. But after I got the punching out my system, I realized I was punching at ants. Yoffe is looking at the intersection of two different systemic rots and concluding the symptoms are the problem.

The first is rape culture- the fact that a man can get a reputation for "if you're drunk and he's around, you have sex with him" and still get invited to parties. The solution to this is enthusiastic consent culture, which involves less teaching teenagers "drunk people can't say yes" and more "sex with someone who genuinely wants it is amazing, settle for nothing less, and don't tolerate people who do." This won't work on people for whom predation and violation are the point, but if Yoffe thought they were the major problem she would have written a very different article. Solving the interaction of rape culture and binge drinking by ending binge drinking still leaves rape culture in tact.

The other is why college students are binge drinking at all. What are they getting out of it? It doesn't look like fun to me even if it was a rape preventative. She briefly touches on it, but her best solution is "more friday classes", which makes me think she has not fully considered the issue. One possibility is that binge drinking is a vulnerability ritual- in which case, warning women of the dangers is about as effective as warning teenage boys driving fast is dangerous. If that is the case, we need to ask why a ritual type generally performed privately with a trusted few is being done in public with strangers. The answer could be gendered (in that women are pressured to place trust in men who haven't earned it), but I suspect there's a large gender neutral component that has serious implications for the state of our social fabric.

Of course, we don't want to wait on those issues to be solved to stop rape. It is entirely possible that the best choice for a woman is to curtail drinking she would otherwise enjoy because of the risk of rape. And she should be given accurate information to with which to weight that risk. But her drinking was never the cause of the issue.

*Because that's what feminism is known for. Seeing situations where women face more risks or penalties than men, and insisting everyone ignore it.
pktechgirlbackup: (pktechgirl)
Rape jokes are important to me. I guess that's because rape is a big, scary thing, and humor is how I deal with big scary things. It's also useful for engaging with people on the other side: while the failure mode of clever is asshole, successful jokes can get people to sympathize with points of view they would otherwise reject out of hand. It's not a substitute for a good argument, but it can overcome kneejerk resistance and get people to listen to arguments that they would otherwise refuse to listen to. For example, see Louis CK's brilliant "Of course, but maybe..." bit, where he cleverly builds up to getting the audience to acknowledge the parallels between acknowledged slavery, the Chinese railroad workers of the 1800s, and the iPad factory workers of today.

I love Louis CK so much.

Or take the concept of "rape culture". It takes a lot of words to explain and even then a lot of pretty good people* will respond with "but she needs to acknowledge her responsibility for the risks she took" or "but asking for consent kills the moment" and then everyone is frustrated because you think they're suborning rape and they think you're accusing them of being a rapist and you know they don't want to violate anyone's consent and getting angry won't help, but expecting women to not hurt men with their own feelings is PART of rape culture and...

Or you can say what cracked said:
"Rape culture" is the normalization of sexual violence against women, treating it like something that just happens and blaming or shaming the victims. You see it in the news: If you can replace "rape" with "rain" and the story still works, that's rape culture. Was the woman wearing too little? Out too late? Would she have been fine if she'd stayed at home reading a nice book on etiquette for ladies?
That is so fucking brilliant I am angry I read it because now I can't use it in my own act. It is not a perfect explanation of rape culture. It does not touch on male entitlement at all. It is not even particularly close to the finallyfeminism101 definition. And yet, I think that joke has done more for consent culture than the very dedicated efforts of many feminists.

In that spirit, I was going to try to make fun of Emily Yoffe's parade o' victim blaming, but it ended up just being the same criticisms in a sarcastic tone of voice. Making this shit funny is hard.

*Defining good is tricky. It is harder to believe the right thing when a wrong belief is culturally embedded. And yet, it is still a wrong thing, and acting on it still leads to wrong actions that the actors are responsible for.
pktechgirlbackup: (pktechgirl)
Long long ago, Penny Arcade made a comic that included the phrase "raped to sleep by dickwolves." I though the original comic was fine- not safe space appropriate, but not trivializing rape either. To the extent it was a cheap shock-laugh, that was sort of the point of the comic.

Lots of people weren't okay with the comic. Some of them were perfectly respectful about it. I've seen claims that others were not, although I haven't seen direct links to back this up. Penny Arcade responded with a strip that really definitely trivialized rape and dismissed all criticism of them as hysterical. Meanwhile, some of their supporters on twitter were threatening to rape their critics (no direct link for that either, but enjoy the #teamrape hashtag).

Penny Arcade responded with a Team Dickwolves t-shirt. I thought this was annoying when I first heard about it but just now put together that they essentially sold a shirt that said Team Rapist while their followers were threatening to rape people. I think that is the point where they lose the benefit of a doubt. Some time later they pulled the shirt.

3 years later, !Gabe was asked what he regretted most in his time running Pax, and he said something that could have been interpreted as "pulling the dickwolves shirt". Later he posted a clarification on his blog.
So let me start by saying I like the Dickwolves strip. I think it’s a strong comic and I still think the joke is funny. Would we make that strip today? Knowing what we know now and seeing how it hurt people, no. We wouldn’t. But at the time, it seemed pretty benign. With that said I absolutely regret everything we did after that comic. I regret the follow up strip, I regret making the merchandise, I regret pulling the merchandise and I regret being such an asshole on twitter to people who were upset. I don’t think any of those things were good ideas. If we had just stopped with the strip and moved on, the Dickwolf never would have become what it is today. Which is a joke at the expense of rape victims or a symbol of the dismissal of people who have suffered a sexual assault. the comic itself obviously points out the absurd morality of the average MMO where you are actually forced to help some people and ignore others in the same situation. Oddly enough, the first comic by itself is exactly the opposite of what this whole thing has turned into.

What I read from this is that !Gabe genuinely regrets hurting people, and also the tremendous amount of work doing so created for him. He does not understand why people are so upset about this and does not plan on any effort to dp so.

Ta-Nehisi Coates had this to say about white Southerners grappling with the Confederate flag:
If you accept that the Confederacy fought to preserve and expand slavery, then you might begin to understand how the descendants of the enslaved might regard symbols of that era. And you might also begin to understand that "offense" doesn't even begin to cover it. Reading Penthouse while having Christmas dinner with your grandmother is offensive. Donning the symbols of those who fought for right to sell Henry Brown's wife and child is immoral.

Nothing is changed by banishing the Confederate Flag out of a desire to be polite or inoffensive. The Confederate Flag should not die because black people have come to feel a certain way about their country, it should die when white people come to feel a certain way about themselves. It can't be for me. It has to be for you.

This is about how I feel about dickwolves. To the extent people who want a Team Dickwolves t-shirt exist, I want them to wear it so I know who they are. What I want from !Gabe is an understanding of why people found the comic and especially his follow up and really especially the Team Rapist T-shirt so hurtful and so scary. I don't think he gets that he's not the the victim in this situation
pktechgirlbackup: (Default)
First, read Arabella Flynn's post on Russel Brand's post-modern chivalry. She is better than this than I am. But I have things to say on this clip of him on Never Mind the Buzzcocks as well. For those who can't watch the video: Brand is on a team, seated between a singer almost certainly chosen primary for her looks, and another stand up comedian. The other comedian sexually assaults the girl (not exaggerating. He even refers to it as making love. Do you know what we call surprise love making with someone who hasn't consented? Rape). Brand does something really really interesting.

We talk a lot about how creepers get away with it because everyone involved would rather not acknowledge what is happening. Even when it gets called out in the moment, the emphasis afterwords is on smoothing it over. Brand acknowledges it and will not let it drop. He can do this in part because he's extremely funny and charismatic, but that's not the only reason. What he's doing is subtly different from white knighting. I'm not positive on this, but I think it's because he puts so much more emphasis on the man's behavior than the woman. He is not outraged by who the other comedian did this to, he's outraged that he did it at all.

The show host does accuse him of doing this solely to get into the woman's pants. From what I've seen of Russel Brand, I assume he would love to shag her, but I'm quite sure that's not why he's doing it, which is good, because I don't think it would work. If he challenged the man to a duel and ran him off, the strategy might work, but he is pursuing a path of making everyone involved very uncomfortable. If it were me, I would feel safer around Brand as long as the asshat was around, but it generates a bit of an ugh field. Also, he doesn't seem to be checking for her approval after doing things like calling the other man a rapist.

Lastly, I notice that Brand is being very physical with the asshat. A few months ago, there was a party. In attendance were a semi-close male friend of a mine and a guy with a history of creeping on me. I enlisted male friend ahead of time to help. Unfortunately for the purposes of this anecdote, we were never all at the party at the same time, but what my friend described to me sounds very much like what Brand did: getting really close and physical with the guy. The stated reason was so that he could slip between me and the creeper should it ever come up. Especially after seeing Brand do it, I have to admit this was a really good plan. Being cuddly and protective with me (which is something we frequently do) creates a warm and inviting environment for onlookers, including creepers. Invading the creeper's personal space puts him on the defensive and inhibits him from cuddling up to anyone else. (In Brand's case, he's also acting as a physical barrier).

Now, having decided I like Brand and hate the other guy, there is some questionable behavior on Brand's part I'm ignoring. I would be super uncomfortable with him putting his hands on my arms like that, but that's a particular pet peeve of mine. He's keeping his center of mass *very* far away from her, which he can pull off because he has scary long arms. His need to be the center of attention is not as charming when not being applied to shaming molesters. But I get the very strong feeling that if I told him to stop touching my arms, he would do stop and be mortified that he had done so. The other guy would take it as a challenge.
pktechgirlbackup: (Default)
I can't find it now, but previously I harshly criticized doctors office asking pro forma "are you being abused?" questions, for being insulting to those who weren't abused and ineffective for those who were. I have to take that back. Because abuse- sexual or physical- isn't just about the physical act, it's all the mental gymnastics you're put through and go through to make it seem normal. And any reminder that it's not normal is potentially useful.
pktechgirlbackup: (Default)
I've been very sick for days, and like I always do when I'm that sick for that long, I run out of emotional cope and old wounds reopen. So what do I decide to watch? A documentary about two women confronting the man who molested them as children.

The plan went not as badly as you might think. The metatheme of the movie isn't child molestation, it's the need to make things normal. But sexual abuse is only the worst of many things you can't make normal, and the damage done in trying... I can't say is worse than the initial assault because we'll never know, but it's certainly more insidious. It's also fascinating to watch them desperately try to force normal when it's not there, but then casually mention something really horribly not normal that they clearly think is.

I'm still running a fever so that's all I got right now.


pktechgirlbackup: (Default)

May 2014

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