Posted in Sociopolitical Commentary, Uncategorized

Unpopular Film Opinion

As I was attempting to shop for my boyfriend’s Christmas gift just a little bit ago, I was confronted with a series of shirts bearing faces, quotes, and imagery from a few of the films that are hailed as Great American Classics (insofar as they’re cornerstone films, not because they’re really old enough to be considered “Classic” in any way), like The Goonies, Sandlot, The Christmas Story, etc.

And just looking at the face of the one kid from Sandlot, you know, the one who pretends to drown so that he can kiss the oh-so-sexy lifeguard he has literally no chance with?, I was immediately hit with a very sudden clarity about that moment.

That, my friends, is an instance of sexual assault that is branded as this really cunning, really fantastic and hilarious move by some nerdy underdog kid. It is looked upon and remembered as some perfect plan of success, but has anybody thought about how absolutely horrible this plan actually was?

I don’t know what the lifeguard situation looks like out here in the Northeast, or in Boston more specifically (since that’s where I am now), but back home, all of the lifeguards were high school kids. It was just a summer job. They were our classmates and siblings, friends, applauded athletes, etc.

Try to imagine, if you will, being a lifeguard, whose job it is to, you know, guard lives, and seeing some kid drowning. It doesn’t matter who this kid is, whether you like him/her or not, what they’re like outside of the pool. Nothing matters except the fact that you are positioned to make sure nobody dies and now there is a human in your immediate vicinity who is on his/her way to doing just that. So, anxiously, you get up from your place and dive into the pool to rescue this at-risk human and now, back on the pavement, s/he isn’t breathing. Shit, you think, because you are 16, maybe 17, and you have never seen somebody die  before, let alone let somebody die, and it’s your job to make sure that this doesn’t happen. So you start doing life-saving motions for this person, attempt to get them to restart breathing, and no matter how calm you might appear to on-lookers, your heart is pounding and your gut is filled with dread because somebody’s child might die and it might be partially your fault. 

Now, assuming you’re still with me, imagine that this human who is raking your heart over the coals and making you sick with worry suddenly, and obviously without warning, starts sucking your fucking face off because HA HA HA YOU PUT YOUR MOUTH ON MINE IT WAS LIKE YOU WERE ASKING FOR IT.

Tell me it’s still funny.

Tell me it’s funny with a straight face, in all seriousness. Can you do it? I certainly hope not, because then you would be telling me that sexual assault—not to mention trivializing both your life and the job of a lifeguard—is funny, and it absolutely  isn’t.

The lifeguard is furious in this film, as she should be, and drags the kid out by his ear none too gently, but this isn’t enough. The fact that people still think it’s hilarious, cute, funny, clever, and/or harmless? That isn’t okay.

Some of you probably think I’m overreacting, that something like this doesn’t deserve so much passion when it’s been over for so long. But here’s the thing: Sexual harassment is not always violent. Even sexual assault is not always violent, although the nature of the word “assault” implies that it is.

Let me tell you something: As a person who has been on the wrong side of more than one situation, violent or not, a non-consentual sexual act is always an assault. Always. Whether or not you physically wound a woman is irrelevant, because she will carry a psychological wound with her for a very long time, if not the rest of her life, and that is assault.

So do not watch The Sandlot and this scene with this shitty little nerdy kid emotionally and then sexually assaulting a lifeguard and think that it is funny, that it is clever, that it is harmless. Watch this, and any other moment like it, with a seed of disgust, and open the conversation about internalized violence toward women.

Open a conversation about internalized patriarchal ownership over the bodies of women, because this child did not care about who this girl was, he did not care about how she might feel; all he cared about was owning a part of her body for however a brief period of time because, after all, she had nice tits. And every time you watch his actions and laugh, smile, or even allow his actions validity, you are contributing to the oppression of your female peers.

And that is not okay.

Posted in Sociopolitical Commentary

Cultural Response: Flags and Racism

This business with the Confederate flag is ridiculous, you guys. Not such that it’s finally being targeted as a symbol of racism and offense, but rather that, (1) it’s even still flying, and (2) that there’s such major pushback against its removal from our public spaces as a nation.

Ever since I was a little kid learning American history, the Confederate flag has represented a history fraught with racism and slavery, of intense violence and oppression. It has represented a faction of people who were so angry about losing the right to own people that they intended to form their own country wherein it couldn’t be disputed. The Confederate flag is the symbol of “rebellion” in its ugliest form, and yet, somehow, thousands of people in this nation seem to think that it’s perfectly okay for it to be flown, and with pride, at that.

News flash: it isn’t okay.

It has never been, and will never be okay.

This is akin to someone whose ancestry contains Nazi Germans flying a Nazi flag and going “No, no, no, it’s not racist! It’s just part of my heritage!”. That wouldn’t fly, would it? So why does the Confederate flag? It’s part of Southern identity? Why are you so proud of being the people who fought back against human rights? Why are you proud to imply that you still think you’re above black people by flying a flag that was designed to separate you from the people who finally woke up and said, “Guys, no, this isn’t cool.”?? I don’t understand, and I don’t think that I ever will.

Companies across the nation are removing media featuring the flag and banning its presence at events, et al, and people are screaming oppression and censorship. We all know that I’m anti-censorship, and have always been, but I don’t think that disallowing a racist symbol to be plastered across public spaces–proudly or otherwise–is really censorship. It’s a call to our black populations that we stand with you, not the people from a hundred years ago who considered you livestock. Why is that so bad?

I, for one, am glad that the subject is finally being tackled. In the upper Midwest, where I was raised, the only people who bought shit with a Confederate flag on it were the people we all considered “trailer trash”, and they were all racists. Every last one of them–at least of those I ever came into contact with. And every time I see a person with that flag on something, I immediately assume that they’re racist. Why else would they fly that flag? There are better ways to advertise your heritage, and there are better ways to advertise where you’re from. This flag is 100% unnecessary in modern American society, and I applaud the day that I never have to see another one in public again.

Like defamatory language, the Confederate flag is a barb in a still-healing wound for many Americans, including African Americans and any white person conscious enough to be embarrassed about how his/her ancestry treated others. Sure, slavery existed, and still exists, elsewhere in the world, and that’s bad. It’s terrible, as a matter of fact, and it definitely needs to come to a stop. No one human being is any better than any other, and until we can accept that and start acting like it, things aren’t really going to get better. The abolishing of this flag, however, is a damned good start.

Posted in Sociopolitical Commentary

Cultural Response: Bad Mansplaining

Last week a [really super-gorgeous] woman made a poignant and beautifully worded blog post about a shitty message that she received from a Tinder date. The man outlined that, although he found her to be a truly wonderful person–funny, charming, smart, witty, etc, all the things that we strive to be–and was undeniably attracted to her because she was kind of the perfect match… she was too fat for him. No, I’m serious, that’s what he told her. Not in quite so many words, but that’s the gist of it. Because she wasn’t thinner, he didn’t think that, when it came down to brass tax in the bedroom, he would be able to manage an erection.

Now, part two of this situation: Some guy on the UK version of DailyMail posted a piece about how it was hypocritical for her to shame this guy for having preferences on physical appearance when women do it, too. This is why I’m angry. This is entirely why I’m angry this evening.

This guy completely and entirely missed the point of this woman’s blog post. Either that, or he is completely disregarding her message in order to make his own point, which, on its own merit, away from this particular allegory, might be actually valid. (Okay, it’s fairly valid as a separate point, but his argument in and of itself isn’t on the chopping block here, it’s the fact that he mansplained her post, and didn’t even do it right.

It’s not about how pretty she is, or whether or not it’s okay to have preferences about physical appearance. Because she is totally fine with him having preferences. It’s human nature. We all have them. She’s even fine with him preferring thin women. What she did was call him out for sending her a shitty ass email that completely wrecked her self-esteem for a few minutes until she could get herself back in line. It has absolutely nothing to do with shaming his preferences, and all about the fact that he was a total dickwad about it. Nobody cares that each and every individual has feature types that they prefer, or features that they dislike, or whatever, because that’s how attraction works. That’s how humanity works. If we all liked the same thing we’d look like androids or something. I dunno, but it would make the world significantly less diverse and beautiful than it is now. I digress.

This guy is fucking butthurt about the fact that she called out some dude for his shitty email and decided that what she meant was that dudes can’t have physical preferences that don’t include her. That isn’t what she was saying at all, and that’s why it’s so fucking annoying to read that post because it’s all a bunch of bullshit, irrelevant mansplaining and it’s really, really beyond aggravating. It goes beyond annoying all the way into infuriating, as a matter of fact.

Because yeah, culturally, there are still a lot of equality-type imbalances regarding what’s okay for women versus men. And they’re just as annoying and heartbreaking or saddening for us (women) as it is for them (men). It’s just… really unfortunate. But what’s more unfortunate is when people like this guy on DailyMail completely derail the discourse by misconstruing somebody’s argument or story with “BUT WOMEN DO IT TOO!!!” or “BUT NOT ALL OF US!!” Because yes, we know it’s not all of you, and yes, we know that we’re not perfect. We arent asking you to think we’re perfect. We’re asking you to listen to us and actually hear what we’re trying to say, and to respect us as non-sexual objects.

Posted in Sociopolitical Commentary

Cultural Responses: Pride Week

The United States has, for several years now, instituted a week, or a month, which is considered “Pride” period, during which persons of whatever group get to revel in their visibility–but that’s just the start. Pride [Period] means that the included individuals don’t have to be afraid to be themselves, don’t have to hide the reality of their personalities or interests, don’t have to pretend to be somebody that they’re not just simply for the satisfaction of those around them.

Do you know why nobody seems to give a shit if you’re straight? Do you know why there’s no Straight Pride Month/Week? Do you? Because I’m getting really sick of seeing all of these posts and pictures bitching about it.

Straight people don’t have a pride period because, at no point in human history, at no point anywhere throughout the vast expanse of civilizations, has being straight been taboo, been forbidden, been illegal and a jailing–or killing–offense. At no point in American history has anybody intrinsically hated you for being straight. At no point in global history has anybody murdered another human being for being heterosexual. (For copulating with the “wrong” individual, certainly, but not for their orientation.) Straight people don’t get a pride week because–and look closely, because this is the key–heterosexuality is normative.

HUZZAH! There you go. You don’t get a pride week because you aren’t a minority. Because you haven’t been marginalized, or told to go away and hide who you are and that you’re going to hell just simply because your affections happen to gravitate toward persons of the same gender. You don’t get a pride week because at no point in the entirety of human history have you needed one. Nobody cares if you’re proud to be straight because nobody’s marginalizing you for your sexuality, and because you have the freedom to move through life without people shunning you or being uncomfortable in your presence just because you exist.

Nobody thinks you’re lesser, or less exciting, for being straight. Nobody thinks you’re making the wrong decision or lying to yourself or wallowing in sin and in desperate need of salvation. Nobody wants you to just pray really hard to like genitalia that doesn’t look like yours. Nobody wants you to live a lie for the next eighty years of your existence just for their comfort. If you’re straight, you get the luxury of living a normal life, represented accurately in media of all sorts, catered to by events and legal situations, accepted by religious and/or family-oriented groups. You have the luxury of being automatically accepted for who you are, just simply for who you choose to love–and we’re leaving race out of this right now, because that’s entirely another ballgame.

So please, please stop posting “Why don’t I get a pride week??” statuses, because you just sound like that whiny kid at someone else’s birthday party who’s upset that someone else is getting all the presents. You can do better. Really.

Posted in Sociopolitical Commentary

Cultural Response: Rose by Any Other Name…

The picture to the left is of Ruby Rose, a devastatingly beautiful human being who has recently been discovered by the general populus via her role in the Netflix-original series, Orange is the New Black. She has a 5 minute video online in which she goes from one gender extreme–very, explicitly feminine–to the other–rather masculine indeed, including a strap-on (for the bulge effect, but probably for other reasons which I’m not about to go into at present, because that’s a subject for another day) and bound breasts, which has also resurfaced*, causing straight girls everywhere to suddenly “question” their sexuality, and this is causing one helluvan uproar for the queer community.

I’m going to weigh in, because this is what I do.

Now, there’s a point that I must make now, as it is key to this discussion, even though I don’t want this to be the focus of my post. It isn’t really something that I talk about, and not because I’m ashamed of it, but rather because I never really figured that it was really anybody’s business.

We’ve most of us been exposed to the model of sexuality which presents it as a spectrum, rather than a binary with only two options: straight | gay. We now have a whole range of terms to describe sexuality, what we like and are attracted to, and how we respond to those things in terms of physical/emotional desire. This isn’t a new idea, at least not for most of us. I fall somewhere into the space between straight and bisexual. I find myself statistically more interested in men than in women, but that does not, under any circumstance, invalidate my very real interest in women. I like each gender for very different, and very similar reasons. At the end of the day, I’m a sapiosexual (attracted to intelligence, and often flagrant displays thereof) and so, with that in place, much of the rest of the person ends up being supplementarily attractive, gender notwithstanding. Scratch that: gender included. Because gender does matter, just like their face and their laugh and the way they look at me when they think I’m not looking.

That said, this isn’t about me. This is to illustrate that I have authority to talk about sexuality from a perspective that is not cis-gendered straight woman. I have, at no point, claimed to “go gay” for any person. At no point have I had a sexual awakening over somebody. There was, of course, a tipping point, whereupon I was forced to realize that my interest in women wasn’t purely casual aesthetics–it wasn’t just that I thought they were pretty. I was actually legitimately, physically and emotionally attracted to women. It was a wake up call, and it forced me to reevaluate a number of things in my life, the way I looked at and felt about them, specifically. Last year, when I saw Ruby Rose’s gender transformation video titled “Break Free”, I was deeply moved, and (sorrynotsorry Mom) really turned on. I showed it to a few people and moved on with my life. Now, suddenly, it has resurfaced thanks to her role in OITNB, and people all over the country are losing their minds.

I’m going to say this now: At no point has any straight woman had a sexual awakening for Ruby Rose. What these women are experiencing is recognition of another human being’s (admittedly astounding) beauty, and they are misinterpreting it because current society has placed us in a very precarious situation wherein we immediately question everything we know about ourselves once we find someone of the same sex to be more than casually attractive.

For some, yes, perhaps this has been a wake up call, the sudden realization that, yes, my appreciation for my own gender is a little bit more than casual, like my tipping point as mentioned above–but for most of these straight girls? They’re just riding the current fashion. It’s the new thing to “go gay” for a hot celebrity. It’s a trend–and everybody wants to be in on the trend. But this isn’t how sexuality works. Sexuality isn’t really a choice. The choice is how we act on it–and even then, only to a certain degree.

Technically, this has been a little bit of a coming-out post for me, but that’s not the point of this. The point of this post is to remind you all that finding another person of your gender attractive isn’t enough to call yourself gay, or bisexual. It’s to point out that by saying so, by announcing that you’d make a conscious choice to “go gay” for X celebrity, you’re trivializing the struggle of every non-binary person around you, who has struggled for years with culture and their own self to be who they are without fear of antagonism (and there’s always fear of antagonism), by implying that every non-straight person made the choice to be not straight, made the choice to be attracted to whomever they’re attracted, made the choice to be different and berated for it. Nobody has made that choice. I don’t choose who I’m attracted to, nor do you, nor anybody else.

So please, do everybody a favor and stop “going gay” for celebrities. Because you aren’t, and you wouldn’t if it came down to brass tax. If that person were actually, physically naked in front of you, you wouldn’t know what to do with them. They would know exactly what to do with you. And that is the difference.

Posted in Sociopolitical Commentary

Cultural Response: Duggar Hell

If I see one more post defending Josh Duggar with the “let he who is without sin cast the first stone” argument I am going to scream.

First off, these posts are all such a screaming perpetuation of American rape culture that it’s horrifying. Sexual abuse/violence is a massively big deal which causes lifelong trauma and both internal and external struggle to live normally and have functional relationships with others, let alone their family. The fact that Josh molested his sisters–not just some girls in town or his church something (all situations which would be equally horrifying, for the record), but his sisters–just makes it worse for those girls because now there is a severe conflict of interest: how do you go about loving and trusting your brother–because he is your brother–while coping with the fact that he did this to you? Furthermore, that these girls were forced to live under the same roof while their family told them it didn’t matter and protected their abuser instead is more than just a suggestion of conceived male superiority. It’s a functioning example of blatant sexism.

Secondly, yeah, sure, God forgives all our sins, and theoretically even the most heinous of them, but have you all forgotten the part that demands that you repent first? Josh hasn’t repented, has only issued a very basic public apology and disappeared from view; that isn’t repentance.

Thirdly, just because God forgives him on a cosmic plane, regarding his eternal soul, doesn’t mean that the rest of us have to disregard his crime just because he’s done good things in the past. It doesn’t mean that the rest of us have to say “oh yeah, man, no problem, God forgives you” because that isn’t going to do anything for anybody.

The state of his eternal soul isn’t my business, nor have I any interest in it. I live on a physical plane on a physical planet with physical people and the laws we have instated to protect ourselves and each other. Josh committed a tremendous crime and deserves to go down for it. His sisters deserve validation of their trauma and the backing of an offended public.

No, I don’t know the Duggar family, but that’s completely irrelevant. No, I am not without sin, but that is equally irrelevant. What I am is a human adult who is capable of reasoning and compassion for victims of a crime committed by someone they should have been able to trust with every part of their lives. I hope that all members of this family and situation find peace with themselves and each other.

I. Am. Furious.

I watch Button Poetry videos on YouTube because that’s as close to my city as I fear they’ll ever get. I watch people pour out their hearts and their secrets and the intimacy of their lives on a stage in front of people they don’t know, have never met, may never see again, and I am moved on a level that is deeper than superficial appreciation of an art form.

I watch Button Poetry videos on YouTube and sometimes I cry. Sometimes I get really angry—not at the readers, but at the material. I get angry that there’s a problem in the first place. I get angry that so many of my peers are assholes who refuse to accept responsibility for their actions or their beliefs, or accept the fact that their peers are assholes who create problems and instill fear in the hearts of others.

Last Friday, a boy in California murdered six people because he was angry that he wasn’t getting sexed by the pretty women in the sorority on his college campus even though he was convinced that he was everything a man should be, that he deserved their sexual attentions more than did the men who were actually receiving them. Because what kind of slut only has sex with the men she actually wants it from? What kind of slut tells a boy she doesn’t know “No, I don’t want to have sex with you”—whether she’s in a relationship or not? I mean, let’s be serious, here: it was totally their fault for not letting him wet his dick in their bodies, right?

Wrong.

Wrong on so goddamned many levels it would take too long to list them, but every single one of them boils down to the idea that women are not on this planet to lie down and let men fuck us. My body is not moving down the street for your viewing pleasure; my cleavage is not on display for your hands to ooze into and my skirt is not here for you to shove your camera into in hopes that my vagina will be visible.

This Rogers guy frequented forums on which men congregated and bashed feminists and objectified women, supported the idea that to be the ultimate Alpha Male you have to be violent and dominating. Forums like 4chan, where boards like /b/ are filled with threads of men sexually assaulting and violating sleeping or drunk women, fucking them without permission, putting their penises into mouths that didn’t say yes, ejaculating on faces and breasts and vaginas that were not offered for the activity. /b/ is filled with threads of men sympathizing with Rogers and further bashing feminism, where William Fucking Wheaton has white knighted the #YesAllMen hashtag to sympathize with men who feel that they are victimized by feminism, that they are being crushed under the boot of the march toward equal rights, as if having to ask women for permission is a punishment. /b/ is a cesspool in which my boyfriend likes to wander, examine scenery, have thoughts on comments, comment on thoughts–because here and there are harmless threads that actually provide valid amusement. /b/ is a horrible, awful place in which naked photos of women are shared like germs in daycares because she dumped the poster, because she cheated, because he felt that she had done him wrong. Men hiding behind computer screens dump photos in threads upon threads for the sake of someone else’s fap folder taking precedence over the sanctity of a body OP once worshipped.

And it makes me angry. It makes me angry and uncomfortable and frankly, vaguely frightened. I know that I am safe. I know that my boyfriend will never hurt me, and I know that I have the skills to take care of myself in the event of a sketchy situation. But that doesn’t mean that I am not officially half-terrified of house parties. That doesn’t mean that I am not infuriated that I have to be chaperoned on my trip to Wal-Mart at 3 in the morning for a new box of tampons because some guy might kidnap me from the parking lot just for the sake of achieving orgasm in a body that he doesn’t have to make say yes. It doesn’t mean that I am not fed up with guys who complain about being in the “Friend Zone” as if being a nice guy should automatically mean that I am obligated to fuck you. And it sure as hell does not mean that I am not ready to throatpunch the next guy who tells me that feminism has run its course, that men and women are already equal, and that people who complain about misogyny need to calm the fuck down.

I do not resort to violence. I have never bitchslapped a soul, nor have I ever punched somebody in the face. I do not believe in violence because I believe that there is a better way to solve problems. I believe that words have more power than any physical violence could. You can beat me until I am in the hospital for months, in need of reconstructive surgery and physical therapy for years, but you cannot beat me until I believe that my boyfriend’s gay mom will go to hell simply because she loves another woman. You cannot beat me until I believe that I am worth less than my boyfriend simply because I was born with a vagina, and you certainly cannot beat me until I budge on my stance on consent. And I don’t care what anyone says, men can be raped just as easily as women can, and it happens more often than people care to admit. Sexual violence is rampant in this nation, in our culture, and it has got to stop.

This is a conversation that needs to be had. This is something that we need to address, regardless of whatever religious zealots are telling our school administrations. There needs to be sex ed and it needs to be more comprehensive than “Don’t have sex.” Bodies need to be removed from taboo subjects; sex needs to stop being a taboo subject. How can we move forward if we keep holding ourselves back?

The only answer is: We can’t.