books and reading · pop culture

What I’m Reading and Thinking About This Week

These are the things I’ve been reading and thinking about this week.  Without further ado, let’s jump right in.

TV’s Rape Problem is Bigger Than Game of Thrones (Salon)

After last Sunday’s Game of Thrones aired, there was a lot of discussion about the rape (make no mistake, guys, that was a rape) that occurred at Joffrey’s wake when Jaime raped his sister Cersei.  The fact that it’s been changed from the original scene isn’t the point anymore.  I’ve tweeted about it a lot and I did a round-up of some of the best think pieces about it on the internet, but this piece at Salon (originally posted at The Daily Dot) gets at the larger issue:

Another major problem with the rise of rape on television is its inclusion as a explain-all for complicated female characters. At Entertainment Weekly, Karen Valby recently urged television writers to put a stop to this practice, imploring them, “Here’s something else to imagine: the idea that there are stories to tell about the sources of a woman’s anger, her ambition and fear, her brokenness and resolve, that don’t involve pinning her under some man’s heaving chest.”

So it feels a little pervasive, but perhaps my biggest issue is that it’s representative of lazy and insensitive writing.  It feeds into rape culture, and when show runners try to rape-splain it, it gets even worse.  More insulting, and more tone deaf.

It’s not that rape can’t ever be used to advance plot. But rape should never be used just to advance plot. Rape informs every part of a survivor’s life, but it also isn’t the only thing that informs their life. Rape should never be easy. It should never be a show’s quick fix for the writers’ bigger story problems. Rape should be treated with the same severity, thoughtfulness, and urgency on television that we’ve just started to treat it with in real life.

Ben Brantley is Asking For It (Daisy Egan)

In the same vein of rape culture, this internet gem was almost missed by me.  A little background: perpetual creeper and giant diaper baby James Franco threw what can only be called an instagram hissy fit over a NYT review of the Broadway play he’s currently starring in.  In his tantrum, he referred to reviewer Ben Brantley as “a little bitch.”  Which, whatever.  But what’s interesting is this piece by Daisy Egan, which is well worth your time.  In it, she takes issue with Brantley’s comments about the role played by Leighton Meester, and she is brilliant:

In his review of Of Mice And Men in Wednesday, April 16th’s edition of The New York Times, Ben Brantley says Curley’s wife, portrayed by Leighton Meister, “provides no evidence” of being either “slatternly” or “provocative” which, “[G]iven the grim events that eventually befall her character… may have been a conscious choice. We don’t want to be left thinking, ‘Well, she was asking for it.'”

That’s the background.  Here’s the takeaway:

When we talk about a “culture of rape” in this country, we are referring to a culture in which, “She was asking for it” is a common, acceptable defense for criminal behavior.  The only time a woman is “asking for it” is when she is literally asking for it.  As in, “Let’s have sex”, or, “Will you have sex with me”, or, “I’d like to have sex with you”, or some variation thereof, either explicitly or implicitly with another consenting adult with whom sexual contact has been mutually agreed to by both parties.  “Rape culture” is a culture in which an educated, prolific theater critic would assume that anyone would ever think “she was asking for it”.

Now go read the rest of it.  I’ll wait.

Greg Rucka on the Gatekeepers of Women in Geek Culture (The MarySue)

I’m not fully enmeshed in geek culture, but I dabble a bit.  And lately I’ve been tracking the female experience in geek culture, because there have been some awesome, vocal girls on the internet talking about their experiences as gamers or at conventions.  Let me tell you, it can be really hard to be female and active in various aspects of geek culture.  So when I came across this piece at The Mary Sue, I found it fascinating, insightful, and ultimately hopeful.

Greg Rucka is a father and a geek, and he recently came across some misogynistic piece of garbage who was wearing a T-shirt that said “I like fangirls howI like my coffee: I hate coffee.”  Rucka had some thoughts on this kind of thinking:

Fake geek girl? This is still a thing? Rape threats because a woman has the temerity to point out flaws in a grievously flawed cover? Bullshit arguments about inclusiveness being overdone, overrated, that we don’t need it?

So, yeah, this is directed at the guys, and you know who you are. Odds are you’re the ones who’d never read this in the first place, but that’s not going to stop me. You, yes, you. Come here. Listen.

What in the name of everlovingfuck is the matter with you? Are you simply stupid? Are you just ignorant? Are you broken? Newsflash: you are owed NOTHING. Not a thing. Not a goddamn thing. This fandom, that fandom, guess what? It doesn’t belong to you.

You don’t own it. You partake in it. It’s called community.

You want something to be your thing, make a club, build a tree-fort, and do us a favor. Don’t come down.

The whole post is sort of brilliant and amazing, but that part stood out to me.   I don’t have anything incredibly new to say about it, but I just really liked this post.

What got you reading and thinking this week?

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