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Posts Tagged ‘misogyny’

The tagline is "Every rose has its thorns." eheh heh heh?

So I just watched the movie Teeth. This is one rich film for a feminist. I highly recommend watching it. If you want to watch it before I give away the plot, I know you can find it for free at Surfthechannel… or you could, like, pay to watch it. Not like I did, but I’m all for that. SO now, DON’T READ FURTHER.

Okay, spoilers commence here. And, another warning: I’m gonna be talking about rape and sexual assault so, TRIGGER WARNING. This is how I saw the movie.

Teeth is the story of girl in high school who is a teenage advocate for The Promise Ring and boils in her repressed sexuality. She meets a guy at one of her speeches about the values of abstinence and immediately they hit it off–they have that special something. This girl lives at home with her mom, dad, and step-brother (?) who is basically the most misogynistic, horrible, sexual-assault-y dude ever. Her parents seem to be, like, the sweetest people everrr. So, after a particularly disgusting encounter with her brother which ends with him saying something like “you know who you’ve been saving yourself for, all this abstinence bullshit… you want me” the girl storms out of her house and decides that she’s gonna risk her “purity” and go out to the swimming hole with cute guy she met at the abstinence meeting. They dive into the water and (arguably) it’s adorable and romantic and I couldn’t help but want them to get some cause hey, they’re both just so darn conflicted and repressed. They kiss and feel guilty… kiss and feel guilty… then the girl swims further down the swimming hole into the cave where it’s rumored that kids “…you know” (subtext: have the sex). She climbs up onto a ledge in the cave where someone had already laid down a sleeping bag. Oh dear. Boy swims after her but she tells him not to come up there. He says “I’m freezing” in the water and climbs up anyway. They sit together and it’s still cute cause they don’t want to make moves but they can’t seem to help themselves and they get to kissing and touching and mounting. Then the girl stops them and says, “let’s go back down.” The guy says okay. BUT SUDDENLY. He mounts her again and starts pulling off his underwear saying things like “let me just try this” and then shouting at her, “I haven’t jerked off since Easter!” and she repeatedly says “NO! I’m SAYING NO!” It is horrifying transition from cutesy first love to a full-on THIS IS RAPE scene. After about a minute of wrestling and violence, the boy ultimately penetrates her. Then we hear a slicing kind of noise. The boy screams and, with difficulty, pulls himself free, gushing blood. A large portion of his penis drops to the rocky ground. He continues crying/screaming and jumps back into the water. This girl has teeth in her vagina (“vagina dentata”) that are apparently activated by non-consensual penetration.

So if that gives you an idea of what the movie is like… I’m gonna skip around through the rest of the things that I found interesting/disturbing/questionable about the movie.

Every male character besides the rather sweet papa turns out to just want to rape our protagonist. After the incident at the water hole, the girl goes to the gynecologist, who, after examining her, gives a furtive glance and seemingly decides that, since she’s never been to the gyno before, she won’t mind if he lubes up his hand and starts fisting her. She is severely uncomfortable, says so, and after a few thrusts, we hear the slicing noise. The gyno shrieks, four fingers fall to the floor, and as the girl escapes the room, the gyno starts screaming “VAGINA DENTATA! VAGINA DENTATA!” After this, the girl approaches another “nice guy” from school who proceeds to drug her and coerce into having sex, but she’s too drugged to feel threatened (thus, no castration this time). She has sex with him and they both smile and they both orgasm and it almost seems nice if it wasn’t that HE RAPED HER. She wakes up the next morning, has more sex with him, but, mid-thrusting, this guy answers his phone and he says “Hey. Yeah, doing it riiiight now. She’s right here.” He looks at her and says, “Say something.” She is disgusted, says, “no.” and asks him what’s going on. He tells her he made a bet with his friends over whether he could fuck her. After a few more words exchanged, he shrieks and, once again, a penis is severed. There is one more instance of this. Then an implied one in the end of the film. I will say that, from my point of view (and as far as I could see on other reviews of the movie), every person dismembered by the vagina dentata seemed to really “deserve” what they got–the penetrators were rendered utterly detestable.

I wonder about the “female empowerment” of the vagina dentata concept, when obviously any woman put in those situations in our world does not have this power over the penetrator. However, is the fear and discomfort that this film provokes in (reportedly) many penetrators an empowerment in some way? That maybe more people will think twice before they just compulsively penetrate?

I wonder about the genre of this movie and how it excuses certain plot points. For example, as a horror movie, I could say something like, “well, in most horror movies, women are disgustingly shallow characters and are nearly always humiliated in a graphically sexual/violent way, so it’s cool that this one is turning the tables.” And thus I justify the feminist goal of this movie. BUT this is a movie about the oft-ignored topic of rape, and the even more ignored topic of female defense against rape. Are women, as targets of the rapes portrayed, supposed to take heart in that there’s one story about a girl who has the magical power to exact justice on her rapist? What is valuable about this story to feminists and/or rape victims? Is this movie really made for these people? Or is this another kind of band-aid movie… a movie that makes everyone feel good about rape because, in this case, justice was served? I’m torn. I hated the rape scenes, but I learned, through the movie, to start feeling okay about them because I knew those fuckers were about to get their dicks handed to them.

I’m starting to hate feel-good movies.

There is also the sort of subplot about abstinence education. This is perhaps the most intellectually stimulating part of the movie. Our protagonist goes to a school where the sex-ed teacher cannot even bear to say the word “vagina” and the school textbooks have huge stickers pasted over the anatomical drawings of vaginas. It is made very clear that this is a misogynist community. What is the value of having a rather campy horror movie with pretty clear implications that abstinence-only sex education is, at best, painfully ironic? Afterall, the protagonist starts out as a fairly confident spokesperson for The Promise Ring.

So, after this long-ass post, do y’all have any thoughts?

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I think I’ve found another influential form of bigotry in my history. Were y’all raised with To Kill A Mockingbird in your lives? I read that book when I was younger and saw the movie. It was one of the first books that challenged me to have morals. In case y’all aren’t familiar with it the basic premise of the story is that a disabled black man, Tom Robinson, is accused of rape by a lower class white woman, Mayella Ewell. The main character is Scout, the daughter of the white, middle class lawyer, Atticus finch, who defends the black man in court. Through the story we learn that the woman accusing is lying, pressured by her essentially evil father, Bob Ewell. The moral of the story is that Atticus is the best man ever for defending the poor black people that no one will defend from the awful poor white man.

In the same way that PETA uses sexism to promote vegetarianism, To Kill A Mockingbird uses victim-blaming and classism (and racism?) to combat racism. I have NEVER witnessed in my life a woman falsely accusing a man of sexual assault… it’s hard enough to prove it as it is, it’s not like our legal system works in victims’ favor in the first place… AND YET  my dad and so many people I know immediately jump to accusing a woman for her own rape. This movie, I am sure, planted that seed in many people’s minds.

In To Kill A Mockingbird I see the danger of bringing up “moral issues”. I saw myself loving this story for its narrative about a person who defends the underdog and attributing much of my early formed morals to it… and now I see how the Ewells, the bad guys, just happen to be working class, how Atticus fits the paternalistic white man saving the poor [racial minority] folk archetype told again and again (see Avatar, Pocahontas, Fern Gully…), how the accusation of rape happens to portrayed as something only an evil, conniving person could muster… And yet it’s still one of those movies put on a pedestal as one of “the greatest”.

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Sodini scares me.

A lot.

I read his blog. I read it weeks ago. It reminded me of a number of things: The Game, het-cissie boys at my school, and my high school livejournal acount. Strangely all the things connecting the things it reminded me of are connected by Vassar. Neil Strauss was a Vassar grad, the het-cissie boys at Vassar, and me at Vassar.

You don’t generally speak Vassar and Pittsburgh in the same breath (Unless you and a bunch of people are planning to move there in a year). They symbolize very different things. But that’s the thing about misogyny, it is everywhere. A Pittsburgh suburb and an elite East Coast former all women’s school full of the upper crusties are both full of it.

Sodini scares me because there is a Sodini in my head. That twinge of entitlement. That flash of being upset upon rejection. Those are signs that misogyny is still manifest despite a shit-ton of feminist theory. I feel like it’s lycanthropy. Even the most wellmeaning gynesexual cisman suffers from it. Suffers in the sense that a lycanthrope suffers from lycanthropy. Suffers mostly in the harm he causes others.

So I’m trying to kill the Sodini in my head. There just aren’t any silver bullets.

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First of all, hey everyone! I’m a new addition to the blog. 🙂 Aida, from Puerto Rico, rising junior at Brown, found this blog through Irene. Hopefully I’ll be contributing steadily. Anyway–I also wanted to let y’all know that I added two websites to the blogroll: Genderfork and Sociological Images. Now, for my first contribution–cross-posted from my personal blagh, found here.

In response to this (blog entry that just has an embedded video) and this:

The author here grosses me out.

That guy isn’t real. Somebody decided to make him up so they could write the “write fuck me on your chest and smile” line, claiming female = victim and that somehow, if only men would understand and be sensitive to this, it would be okay.

Most men aren’t anything like this guy, and for the rest of us the author has done nothing to improve our understanding of “what it’s like to be a woman.” If the author were listening, I’d respond: “Being a grownup means taking the fuck me sign off your chest and telling people ‘no’ or ‘piss off’ whenever necessary.”

Giving a reality check to a straw man, kind of annoying.

*

I see where the commenter is coming from, but I think it’s a *very* shallow reading of that clip. The message I got from this video/scene was different. Writing “fuck me” on his chest would be about drawing a parallel between the symbolic gesture and the reality of inhabiting a woman’s body–a body that is unfortunately read by some as “willing” just by virtue of being female. If the guy had actually gone out with the FUCK ME on his chest, it wouldn’t have been the same thing/feeling…but it wasn’t about him actually doing it. It was about showing the parallel between that and walking around with an INVISIBLE (yet oh so visible) marker of “oh yeah, sure, fuck me, that’s great, I really want it from you, thank you.”

A man walking naked with FUCK ME on his chest would be seen as abnormal, whereas a woman just walking around would not be. Violence against women is perpetrated because it’s, in a way, normalized. This is the narrative that we’ve been given; people assuming a naked man with FUCK ME scrawled on his chest wants and is ready for sex is not realistic, but people assuming a woman walking down the street wants and is ready for sex IS realistic. This whole scene is about the psychological impact; it’s about the female character trying to show this man how it feels by creating a “story” that APPROXIMATES that feeling. Taking that story to reality wouldn’t work, but THINKING about it and thinking about what it MEANS would certainly make an impact.

Woman is not inherently “victim,” but the truth is that in society, many times there is a strong correlation between the two. And if it’s not “victim,” it’s still the receiving end of violence, be it symbolic, physical, or both. And that being said…yeah–if only men could understand and be sensitive to the realities of living in a body marked as “female,” we would probably have less scenarios like this. A man would be way less likely to invade a woman’s privacy like what happened on The L Word if he understood how that shit felt. A man would be less likely to leer at a woman and think it’s okay to grab her ass if he understood how that felt. Obviously it would only be a start. Someone’s knowledge doesn’t predict what they will do with it.

But the thing is, there’s no real way to understand, FULLY understand, unless one has lived through it. Anything else is just an assumption, removed to a certain degree, or a sympathetic thought. No one can TRULY and wholly understand or “feel” what someone else is feeling. We have approximations, yes, and a “common language,” yes, but these are only approximations. Still, these approximations are valuable–very valuable. They’re the closest we have to the real thing, and they are important. And even if we can’t feel exactly what someone else has felt, there are probably huge overlaps, and we can sympathize and find solidarity.

Finally, the “…telling people ‘no’ or ‘piss off’ whenever necessary” comment? Telling people “no” or to “piss off” when necessary is a right (and sort of one’s duty to a certain extent), but to have that right respected? A totally different ballgame. Women usually don’t have the privilege of not having to worry that their “no” may not be respected or even taken seriously. Saying “no” doesn’t necessitate or equal a respect of that “no.” Just because a woman screams NO and fights back, does that mean a rapist will stop raping her? Just because we say NO, does that mean a mugger will suddenly return all our money and leave us alone? Just because a NO is necessary doesn’t mean it will WORK. There are various situations when saying NO just isn’t enough.

And sure, most men aren’t like the guy in the video, who will set up cameras all over your house…but that’s not the point. Most men aren’t rapists, or murderers, or robbers–but we still have to talk about those that are, and represent them in the media, and show that they exist. We still have to show that women are hurt, not to normalize that violence, but to show the realities of the world and that they are NOT ACCEPTABLE. We have to put these things in the forefront so people cannot ignore them, so people have to acknowledge them and get educated and DO something about it. The fact that a (presumably) Average Joe (whatever that is) cannot relate at all to this clip and feels that it provides NO insight into how it feels to be a woman is VERY distressing to me.

Addendum: By this post, I don’t mean to say that ALL women are a certain way or feel a certain way. No monolithic understandings of men and women apply. Kthx.

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i haven’t really formed my thoughts on this yet, but what do YOU think? women bullying women

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So last night Irene and I went to go see Ani DiFranco (which was super great especially the super cute/talented drummer) but unfortunately we found ourselves stuck listening to the opener, Hamell on Trial.

Hamell on Trial sang poorly, had mediocre guitar skills, but worse than that he was incredibly offensive. Literally everything that came out of his mouth was some sort of commentary on female genitalia, or his experience of sex, where let’s face it his descriptions projected women as simply objects rather than participants.

wash your mouth and bald head with soap, you creeper

wash your mouth and bald head with soap, you creeper

And yet the strange thing is that I think I was supposed to read Hamell on Trial as being uber cool and progressive for his crudeness. As if the fact that he says he loves to “lick pussy” shows that he’s a feminist. Or the fact that he has a 30 second song about Matthew Shepard means I’m not supposed to get all enraged about his demeaning heteronormative jokes about the fact that only the men in the audience know what he’s talking about when he talks about sex with his wife. I’m all for talking about sex more openly, for not feeling ashamed of our bodies. But it has to be done with respect. My body should not be the punchline of a joke, that’s not a part of my feminism.

I don’t understand how just because you have a guitar and talk about Obama makes it ok to demean me and my body? I don’t understand how talking about essentially pressuring your wife into having anal sex makes you hip and cool. And I certainly don’t understand how it makes you suitable for Righteous Babe Records or as an opener for Ani.

I don’t know who makes these decisions but if it is Ani, I hope next time she seriously reconsiders her choice in picking Hamell on Trial. Apparently he’s been opening for Ani for years and you’d think someone would let them know that that creeper is offending a lot of her audience.

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Something to chew on.

rap3

Hope Hilton did an interesting photography exhibit where she took pictures of women wearing graphic rap lyrics. I thought it was interesting. And disturbing.

Here are the rest: http://www.dospestaneos.com/hilton/raplyrics4.html

What do you think?

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