Yes, I’m Still Pissed At Robin Thicke

In case you’ve forgotten…the rapey-ist song ever is still at the top of the charts. Oh, and the douche that sings it was recently pictured putting his hand so far up a girl’s dress, while being photographed with her, that it looked like a proctology exam–I don’t think he asked before he did that.

But Mr. Thicke can get away with anything. He can get away with demeaning women and tweeting about it. He can say this song is a “feminist movement in itself” (yeah he said that), he can man handle women, he can blow smoke in their faces, he can parade them around naked and no one says “boo” because women are objects. Women are to be treated as toys. Women are to be demeaned. Women are to be tortured. Women are made to be taken advantage of. Right? Because that is what we are saying when we turn up “Blurred Lines” and allow Robin Thicke to make millions by turning what rapist tell their victims into “catchy lyrics”.

On the left side of this photo are the lyrics to “Blurred Lines” on the right are photos of rape victims holding up the words their rapists said to them as they violated them. Nice work Mr. Thicke…great job people of America for putting this at #1 with a bullet.

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Fictional Portrayals Of Sexual Assault

Well YOU find a better image to go with this headline that’s neither upsetting nor NSFW.

I don’t exactly keep it a secret that I am an enthusiastic fan of strong female characters. Whether they’re high-powered businesswomen, vampires, mothers, superheroes, sorceresses, or commanding armadas of interstellar warships, I love these characters. I love identifying with them (the vast majority of my favorite fictional characters tend to be women) and watching their stories unfold.

Unfortunately, part of the grim reality of our world is sexual assault. It happens and, unfortunately, not everyone who commits sexual assault is immediately fed to sharks and/or set on fire (if I were running for office, changing that would be one of my campaign platforms, though).

Sometimes, to create drama, to help readers or viewers to sympathize with one character (or to detest another), or as a part of character development, storytellers will put a sexual assault (successful or otherwise) into a story. A character’s backstory may involve being a survivor of sexual assault, or having witnessed it (especially happening to a family member). Or, a sexual assault may happen during the course of a story.

There can be very good reasons for having this as an element of your plot—I understand that. But I think that it is completely valid and usually preferable to have a female character be in physical danger that is not inherently sexual.

There are a few rules that I would like for everyone to please, please follow if this happens in a story (whether it’s a book, a show, a film, a video game):

1) Sexual assault is not sexy. It should not be sexy. It should not be titillating in the least. No one, including a preteen for whom anything related to sex is potentially exciting, who follows your story should find anything about the scenario appealing.

2) Why is the sexual assault happening? I mean this from the perspective of character-driven storytelling (why does this person want to rape this other person?), but I also want to know how and why this serves the story. If it’s purpose is to provide motivation for a male character to rescue and/or avenge the female character, then please stop being an ass and maybe stop writing. That may sound like I am overreacting, but that kind of story in which female characters lack agency and seem to exist only to provide various types of motivations and goals for male characters is not only overdone—it is toxic.

3) I hate to even mention this one, but it needs to be mentioned—please look at what sorts of people are involved. If you are having, for example, a black man sexually assault a white woman (literally or symbolically—though the use of certain alien species or fantasy races to represent different human ethnicities is a rant for another day), you probably should not. That kind of scenario obtains a gut reaction from certain readers or viewers because it plays into some disgusting racist beliefs and fears.

Beyond those three rules, there are a few things to consider when you wonder if you should write that into your story:

1) It is almost inevitable that sexual assault survivors will be exposed to this story. If this is going to be a widely-consumed work (like a major motion picture), millions of survivors will be exposed to it. Trigger warnings exist online for a reason. Do you really want to do that to your readers? Even if you include the event in your story, there are ways of including a rape in a story that will be easier on certain readers.

2) Is this going to change the way that viewers see the character who is sexually assaulted? I do not mean readers or viewers who will victim-blame or see the survivor as “dirty;” those people can go jump into a volcano. But will readers, viewers, and even other characters see this character in a new way, possibly wanting to baby her, or seeing her as less powerful because they have also seen her in such a vulnerable state? Is that really something that you want?

It is important to note, however, that a storyteller who has a sexual assault, even one that is not handled as well as I would like for it to be, is not necessarily a bad person. At all, even.

In fact, have you guys seen Hansel And Gretel: Witch-Hunters? It’s not the best film in the world, but it’s a thrilling and goofy film with a lot of easy gore (some films are gore films and undesirable, but I did not once cringe or wince at the blood and guts in this film—it was pretty fun).

There’s an unsuccessful sexual assault during the film. It was completely unnecessary and decreased my enjoyment of the film.

But it was not a remotely titillating scene. It’s a really upsetting and violent one.

However, and I won’t spoil who or how, but the way that the sexual assault is interrupted is the best. And I honestly think that that was a big part of why the scene was written into the screenplay. Because we get to see a bunch of rapists get beaten up and killed in various ways, including one whose head just gets crushed.

That I could watch all day long.

And a lot of writers will put people who commit horrible acts into stories with the intention of destroying those people within the story. Sometimes it’s a little unsophisticated and juvenile, but unlike a rape depiction, a scene of revenge against a rapist is always a treat to read or watch.

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A Follow-Up: The Miami University Pro-Rape Flyer

Last fall, a flyer was posted in a male dorm bathroom at Miami University in Ohio. It had been made by an Freshman student who had already been creating havoc and destruction in the dormitory. The flyer contained disgusting tips on how to successfully rape a girl (and get away with it). It was quickly found by an R.A. and taken down. The R.A. was instructed to tell no one.

In case you can’t read the image, this is what it says:
Top Ten Ways to Get Away with Rape
1) Put drugs in the woman’s drink, that way she won’t remember you.
2) When you see a woman walking by herself, take advantage by the fact that she is alone.
3) Wear protection.
4) If a woman’s window is unlocked, sneak in and rape her to teach her not to do it again.
5) Sex with an unconscious body does count, so don’t back down if she’s sleeping.
6) Honesty is the best policy, if the girl says she doesn’t want to have sex tell her you are going to get her a drink, slip some roofies in it and you’ll have her in bed in no time.
7) Practice makes perfect, the more you rape, the better you get at it.
8) If you are afraid the girl will identify you, slit her throat.
9) Never take pictures with or give your number to the girl you rape.
10) RAPE RAPE RAPE, it’s college boys, live it up!!

Disgusting. He has either a sick sense of humor or is seriously sick.

The school tried tried to keep it quiet while considering punishment for the student. However, news of the event leaked out. The student body roared in disgust, at both the Freshman for posting this, and at the school for trying to keep the event quiet.

I was a student at Miami University when this occurred. I was in shock. Sure, sometimes email alerts went out about girls being attacked, and I even worked in junction with the Rape Crisis unit in town. This is known to be a very safe school in the middle of nowhere. There are no “bad” neighborhoods around campus that girls are afraid to be alone in.

Everyone was still surprised and appalled that someone would have the audacity to, well.. be such an asshole. I didn’t have a single class that week where we didn’t discuss the flyer.

The student pled guilty of disorderly conduct, presumably paid a fine of $100 or less, and is no longer a student at Miami.

I am a proud Alumni of this college. In 2012, Miami University was ranked third by US News in Undergraduate Teaching Methodology. Third, after Dartmouth and Princeton. This is a great academic education. I also met so many wonderful people and made so many wonderful memories at this college.

Not only am I disgusted that people like this exist, but I am also disgusted that this tarnishes my school. We already have to deal with the reputation of having educated Ben Rapelisberger. I mean, Roethlisberger.

The story made the Cincinnati news and many student organizations reacted to the event. The story circulated the internet and ended up here. As a reader at the time, I was tempted to leave a very long comment giving more information. Now you know. There are terrible people no matter where you go, including safe little college towns in the middle of nowhere. This is why I own a pink taser.

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Humanity, I Love You

After the horror of the Boston bombing I didn’t think I could ever believe that humanity was worth it. Really, I just don’t understand how blowing up innocents makes sense to anyone, but then all the stories of people opening their homes to those stranded came out. London had their marathon and they ran with American Flags and with signs that said, “Finish for Boston.” Syria, which has been ravaged by booms and genocides, took a moment to send condolences to Boston.
I saw window washers dress up as Spiderman, Captain America, Batman and the like to clean the windows of a children’s hospital. I was taken aback by how in the face of such tragedy I saw the best of humanity. Instead of breaking me—I was lifted up by the generosity and kindness of the human spirit.
Naturally, it didn’t last long. Bombs went off in Pakistan, earthquakes ruined cities, and a five-year old girl was raped in Indian. She’s not the first child raped, she’s not even the youngest child raped. But this five-year-old gets an article written about her because finally, finally something is going to be done about it.
Last week she was abducted and raped by a neighbor who kept her for three days and then left her for dead. India, like America, has a rape culture. They blame the women, they blame the victim…but how can you blame a five-year-old? What suggestive clothing was she wearing? How did she drink too much? How was her sexual history to blame for this?

The Guardian took aim at the Indian police force, “[O]fficers allegedly initially refused to investigate after the girl, from a working class family, disappeared while playing early in the evening outside her home. She was eventually found by neighbours. When the case was picked up by the local media, the parents were offered 2,000 rupees (£25) to drop the case, relatives of the victim have said.”
By the weekend hundreds of protesters were outside the police headquarters demand that the police chief, that wanted this dropped, be fired. India’s Home Minister has vowed that the officers on duty will be punished.
Once again, in darkness there is light. People will surprise you if you just let them. I don’t know why it takes horrible circumstances for people to take a stand—but maybe one day we’ll all realize that you don’t have to wait for something bad to do some good.

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