Sunday, March 24, 2013

Let's have a chat about rape culture and our media

In my last post I mentioned that I am writing my senior paper - for a class called Feminist Media Studies - about the extensive theme of rape culture which lies underneath all the avant-garde filmmaking and quirky dialogue of David Lynch's Twin Peaks. Nothing wrong with pointing out the much-obscured (and rejected) themes of certain media texts, right? Well, apparently there is. I received comments telling me that, "It must be fun being a pessimist and seeing misogyny everywhere you turn. Your statements make you sound like a sexist bitch." and that I'm apparently "bashing" a show and that my college isn't teaching me well. I have to admit I scoffed at these comments and felt sorry for each and every person who feels this way. It's sad that we live in a world where we can't even interrogate our media with an open mind - instead we just mindlessly accept it, and often, the rape and the misogyny that our everyday media exemplifies.

So, I thought, let's have a real talk about rape culture and our media. Because it exists. And if you're a rape culture denier or a rape culture celebrator, you better read this and get the fuck off your high horse and stop being a mindless drone of all the damaging parts of your culture that affect you, your mothers, your sisters, your daughters, your grandmothers, your fathers, your brothers, and every person in this society. It's time to rethink things, to interrogate our media with the hard questions, and to make a change. If questioning the praise for Twin Peaks makes me a "sexist bitch", then I'd really hate to think what that makes you.

And you know, actually, let's throw out all these words. Let's throw out bitch, let's throw out cunt and ho and dick and homo. Let's throw out fag and slut and pansy. Because not only does that make everyone sound like uneducated two year olds, but it also reinforces rape culture and the gender and sexuality bashing that goes with it. There's nothing wrong with being a girl, or a boy, or gay, or straight, or asexual, or pansexual, or between genders, or whatever you want to be. There's absolutely nothing wrong with it, so let's start off by stopping the hate. Stop putting other people down for these things. Calling someone a "sexist bitch" doesn't make you sound so educated, open minded, or progressive yourself. It makes you sound close minded, stuck in the past, and full of hate. Let's all have some credibility and be thoughtful with words, instead of perpetuating the rape culture that we should all be fighting against...because you know, it really does affect each and every one of us.

Women in India protesting certain ideologies of rape culture after the brutal rape and death of a university student last winter

The 2011 National Crime Victimization Survey reported 243,800 cases of rape or sexual assault in that year. That's almost 668 rapes a day, or nearly 28 every hour. The NCVS also suggests low numbers of reporting with only 54% of rapes or sexual assaults being reported to the authorities.

The National Violence Against Women Survey from 2000 found that women who were raped before the age of eighteen were twice as likely to report being raped as adults. Approximately one million women are stalked every year in the U.S. and 64% of women who reported being raped, assaulted, or stalked since age 18 were victimized by an intimate partner.

According to WOAR, one in three women will be sexually abused during their lifetime, and one in four women and one in six men will be sexually assaulted before the age of 18.

RAINN reports that someone is sexually assaulted every 2 minutes. And furthermore (possibly most shocking - or not - of all), 97% of rapists will never spend a day in jail.

So now, you may be thinking right now, "Gee, that's so sad and all, but I'm not a rapist." And you know, I'm really sick of hearing this. I'm not a rapist either, but you don't see me defending the media, the institutions, the politics that place rape in our culture. You don't see me doing that. And so, to quote Andrea Dworkin in her 1983 address, "I Want a Twenty-Four Hour Truce During Which There Is No Rape":
"The men's movement seems to stay stuck on two points. The first is that men don't really feel very good about themselves. How could you? The second is that men come to me or to other feminists and say: ' What you're saying about men isn't true. It isn't true of me. I don't feel that way. I'm opposed to all of this.' And I say: don't tell me. Tell the pornographers. Tell the pimps. Tells the warmakers. Tell the rape apologists and the rape celebrationists and the prorape idealogues. Tell the novelists who things that rape is wonderful. Tell Larry Flynt. Tell Hugh Hefner. There's no point in telling me. I'm only a woman. There's nothing I can do about it. These men presume to speak for you. They are in the public arena saying that they represent you. If they don't, then you had better let them know.

Then there is the private world of misogyny: what you know about each other; what you say in private life; the exploitation that you see in the private sphere; the relationships called love, based on exploitation. It's not enough to find some traveling feminist on the road and go up to her and say: 'Gee, I hate it.' Say it to your friends who are doing it. And there are streets out there on which you can say these things loud and clear, so as to affect the actual institutions that maintain these abuses. You don't like pornography? I wish I could believe it's true. I will believe it when I see you on the streets. I will believe it when I see an organized political opposition. I will believe it when pimps go out of business because there are no more male consumers. You want to organize men. You don't have to search for issues. The issues are part of the fabric of your everyday life."
And so, you know, I'm not going to apologise for trying to make a change. I'm not going to say, "Gee, I'm sorry for picking apart our media, and maybe your favourite television show, you know I'm sorry for trying to find the roots of what places rape in our society and to tear them up. Gee, I'm sorry I want to end rape. I'm sorry I don't want little girls and little boys to be raped, or to grow up and do the raping. Gee, I'm real sorry I don't want any of that. I'm real sorry that I'm trying to make change, and in making that change, I'm real sorry that I won't defend your favourite programme."

If you really think that the reputation of a single television programme is more important than stopping 28 rapes an hour, then you've really got your head on backwards. You must not have a heart. You must not care for your mum, or your sisters and brothers, your neighbours, even your friends. You really must not care about them at all, because I promise you that there is rape in their lives and there is rape in your life, whether you want to admit it or not. And all these people are human and not a single one of them deserve rape, whether they're related to you, whether they live near you, whether they're just a random person you pass on the street - no one deserves to live in this terror and this rape.

And you know, you can say that our media doesn't cause rape. And I won't go as far as to say that it does. But what our media does do is put these ideas in our head of a reality. And sometimes those realities are fun or exciting, and sometimes we want to live in those realities, but what they almost always have in common is misogyny and rape culture. But we don't always catch on to just how damaging that is, and so we replicate these realities that our media put forth.

As Jackson Katz notes, "We're socializing boys to believe that being a man means being powerful and in control, being smarter than women or better than women or our needs get met first in relationships with women. That's not genetically pre-destined. That's learned behaviour."

And that's rape culture. That misogyny. That's telling people how to be, how to perform gender. It's telling people to rape, and others to be raped. And so why shouldn't we find that stuff in our media, and we shouldn't we rip it out and ask the big questions? Why should we let it slide by because maybe the way that it is filmed is surreal and avant-garde, or maybe the script is real witty, or maybe the characters are enjoyable. Why should we let that slide by as being revolutionary or "the best"?

And so, I really hope that everyone thinks about this before posting (anonymously or otherwise) on a 19 year-old's blog that she is a "sexist bitch" because she's trying to make a change. I really hope you think about this before you let yourself fall into the trap that media sets for you. Think about it, become educated about it, make a change about it.

I also highly recommend reading the article, "Why does America pretend it doesn't hate women?" and Shakesville's "Rape Culture 101". If you're further interested, check out Transforming a Rape Culture from your local library.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

God Save...

So, apparently this is the year when spring just wouldn't come. Also apparently, this is the coldest March since 1965. Terrific! I decided to take shelter inside the warmth of my own bedroom for some photos today.
I've been watching too many No Doubt music videos and all I want to do is wear crop tops and shout angrily at the camera about how I'm just a girl. Well, I've done half of that, at least, today! I was sent this beautiful, wondrous crop top from SwayChic earlier this month and have been so looking forward to showing it off. I thought we'd have some warmer weather for doing as such, but I guess not. For now, I will wear it around my room, wishing and hoping and praying for some warmer weather to come and start thawing the ground (and all the snow which lay atop). Minnesota really can be dreadful sometimes.
In the meantime, enjoy the photos/me making the same expression in every one and pick up your own crop top via SwayChic here. You know you want to. You know you should.
I've been working "really hard" on my senior paper today. It's all about the show Twin Peaks and how it was passed off (and still is) as some neat avant-garde drama, when it's really just the rape fantasy of some white man at the expense of everyone trying to make a change about the rape culture we live in. By the way, have people been keeping up with the Stubenville case? I. Am. So. Pissed. Off. about the backlash. Don't know what I'm talking about? Click. And then send me your feminist rants to help me propel my anger.
Oh, and then continue to soak up the beauty of this crop top. More to come soon, and hopefully some warmer weather and less rape culture! Thanks again to SwayChic - maybe my crop top will magically summon springtime to Minnesota.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

an american family

So...yeah. I know it's been an unexcusably long time since I've updated but, I'm gonna try with an excuse anyways: it's midterms and the entire Twin Cities is densely covered with ice and horrible cold. Okay, well not at the moment. At this very moment, everything is slush and the sun is wonderful. But this is the first time it's been as such in a while. excuse is still viable.
Last week I mentioned getting a new pair of purple bell bottoms and the baddest-ass leather jacket in the world. Well, here are both! I'm been in some weird '70s mood lately. It might not help that I've been listening almost entirely to Cat Stevens and The Grateful Dead, but it certainly does not help any further that we watching a movie in class today called Cinema Verite which is all about the making of An American Family. I swear, take a reality TV class and that production will be brought up a million and two times. It's inevitable. And also really good.
So anyways, because of all this, I've wanted nothing but to lounge in bell bottoms for the past couple of weeks - at least. The bell bottoms are from one of my favourite local shops, Up Six, and the jacket is from one of my other favourite (but now closing!) shops, Go Vintage. I've been eyeing it for a while now and finally went for it. And got it 75% off because of the closing sale. Bittersweet.
So as I mentioned, besides the amount of ice in the driveway (seriously a danger zone! I nearly wiped out at least 5 times while taking these photos), I haven't been around much because of midterms. University is seriously kicking my butt this semester (I say that every semester, mind you). All I do is read, read, read, synthesise, synthesise, synthesise, discuss, discuss, discuss, repeat, repeat, repeat. It's dreadful and I always seem to forget that over breaks between semesters.
It's also been rough losing Mosey-Mo. It's weird not to have your everyday, closest companion around. I still go to say good morning to him every day before breakfast. And just today I was thinking about how I'd get home to find him soaking up the gorgeous sun on the back deck. It's tough. The adjustment is tough. Knowing that he will never, ever be back is tough. As a remedy for my loneliness and lack of an animal companion to talk to, my boyfriend said that he'd take me to get some fish over spring break. I know what you may be thinking - "But Chloe, silly little girl, a pet fish can never ever ever come close to a sweet, cuddly, soft pug pup like Moses!" And I know, I know.
But I'm seriously a dork for fish-y friends.
Anyways, I need to get going. Actually, I don't need to. I don't need to at all! I could stay here forever just writing my thoughts and sweet things to each and every one of you. However, my spring break starts NOW and I'm treating myself by playing The Sims 3. I only play The Sims for about 6 hours every year because I secretly don't actually like it, but I get it in my head that I do and it'll be a great way to chill out and forget "the real world." But then I get pissed off over how boring and repetitive it is and tend to sulk. So that's what I will be doing for the next hour or so.
So now I really am going. Sorry for the short(ish) post, but there's one more photo (a great shot of my ass, but you didn't hear that from me!) over at the Official Urban Tease Facebook Page. Stay sweet, my friends xx

Monday, March 4, 2013

all of us stars

Thank you everyone for your sweet words upon the death of my baby puppy Moses. It's been tough and it would be a lie if I said that I didn't spend most of Thursday/Friday/Saturday in tears and unable to breath from the pain of losing my best friend of nearly 10 years. I think it's impossible to put words to how much Momo meant to me and even after my last post about the little guy, I feel like I hardly did our relationship justice. On the brightside, my family has been really great about talking about our life with Moses and my boyfriend has barely left my side. I've been able to move on from being horribly sad and broken about the loss of my pup, to being able to look at photos of him and think of all the great times I've had with him since he was a puppy. I truly am lucky to have had such a great companion for the past 10 years.
These photos are actually from Wednesday. As I prepared this post, I couldn't help but realise that these are the last photos that I took where Moses was keeping an eye on me. Although he doesn't always appear in my blog photos, he always made sure that he went out with me when I took them. He'd sit on his tie out in the backyard and keep an eye on me. If it was raining hard or too cold (these past few months, he hadn't much fur left), then he'd insist that I left the door open so that he could sit inside and watch me. It was important for Moses to always keep an eye on me when he could. He was the sweetest, softest little guy in the world.
When I went out to take these photos before class on Wednesday, Moses sat inside the door and watched.
I bought these leggings from Romwe a few weeks ago. I always feel like I'm destroying the planet or something when I buy from Romwe, which is why it blows that they have totally cute and inexpensive leggings. Leggings are one of those things that I don't want to spend loads of money on, so I'm almost forced to buy from Romwe even though I'm sure their stuff is totally unethical and I should be supporting local businesses, etc. I'd been wanting some nebula-print leggings for a while and this new boyfriend of mine is obsessed with the galaxy, so I bought them, in part, for him. He's addicted to them and pretty much falls on the floor in ecstasy everytime I put them on. My boyfriend is also a total science and math geek.
On Wednesday night I got out of class early (because I had a midterm, ugh!), so I went over to the math building on campus to wait for boyfriend's math class to finish up. While sitting in the hallway "studying" for geology, a boy (who'd been previously wandering the hallway) came out and asked me what I was studying, etc. He then asked me to come "study" with his friend and him, physics and astronomy majors, respectively. I declined. Turns out, these boys were not studying at all, but rather playing Magic. Boyfriend sees them every night. I don't think I'd ever been so excited to be (attempted to be) picked up before in my life. If it wasn't for boyfriend, I probably would've gone with them. Ho hum. (If it wasn't for boyfriend, I'd never have even stepped foot inside the math building, mind you.)
In addition to my boy-catching nebula print leggings, I'm wearing a sweater from the Gap, my go-to Doc Martens, and a vest from Tunnel Vision. Oh, and jacket from UO.
I realise how unhappy I look in these photos - and just lately, in general. Taking care of Moses and seeing him in such decline the past month or two has really taken an emotional toll on me, not to mention all my schoolwork and my workwork. Luckily, all that stands between me & spring break is three midterms (two tests, one paper) and a quiz. Then I will have some time to relax and write my term papers. Yippee.
My friend Tyler and I went out shopping yesterday and managed to accidentally stumble upon some major sales. I definitely look forward to showing off some of those purchases including purple bell bottoms and the baddest ass leather jacket in the world. In the meantime, friends, take care and keep loving. xx

Friday, March 1, 2013

Rest in peace, Moses.

I have a new what I wore post for the blog, but when I sat down to write it, I just couldn't. As you might recall, Moses has been sick since May, all of which came very suddenly. We spent a week with him at the emergency vet and eventually got him stabilised and doing better. We've had our ups and downs the past few months, but overall, our family has just been trying to appreciate our life with Moses and trying to make it as good as possible. In the past month or two, Mosey's health took a very sharp decline. He was skinny as a rail, hardly eating, and hardly able to walk.

I came home from school on Tuesday, now used to the fact that Moses wouldn't be at the door, wagging his tail excitedly and squealing with joy. On this day, he sat in his bed on the couch, thin and fragile, just shaking, shaking so hard. He was staring at me with such a look in his eyes. He was so scared, so uncomfortable, and just wanted to be in my arms. He looked like he just wanted me to hold him so that he didn't die alone. I ran over and held him, knowing that it wouldn't be much longer.

My mom called me from the vet when I got home from class on Thursday. They would put Moses to sleep right then, or bring him home and let me say good bye. I wanted to say good bye. I fell on the floor, sobbing. Although I'd been waiting for it for the past few months, I still couldn't believe that it would actually happen. I spent last night and this morning holding Moses, crying into his little head for one last time. He was so tired. He had given up and we all knew that it was time to go. He wanted to go. He passed away peacefully today at 12:36pm, surrounded by his family (and with his tongue hanging out - his trademark look). He was so tiny and so tired. It felt so right, but it hurt so much.

I got Moses when I was 10 after years of wanting a pug. He was perfect. So soft, with these huge paws, long, skinny legs, huge, floppy ears, and the biggest, softest, sweetest brown eyes I could ever imagine. It was autumn of that year when my grandmother, my best friend for the first 10 years of my life, passed away suddenly. I spent hours crying, and Moses just seemed to know that something was wrong. He'd come sit in my lap and nestle his head into my eyes to catch my tears. He was my best friend. When I was 16, I was in an abusive relationship. When I broke up with the boyfriend and told my friends about it, none would believe me and decided to take his side instead. Suddenly, I found myself friendless. And so, I'd spend all my time off with Moses. We'd sit in the kitchen together, just staring out the window. Or going on walks around the neighbourhood, where people would shout out of their car windows over how adorable my pug was. Moses and I made a cake every week and he'd listen to me read my schoolwork aloud to him. He was my best friend. My baby boy. And once again, when I cried, he knew what to do, and he made everything okay.

And so, rest in peace, Moses. Best friend, greatest companion. Loyal, loving, sweetest, cutest. Little brother, little baby, buddy to everyone. Able to make everyone smile, everyone laugh. Always hamming it up and inspiring so much joy. My light. My angel. My heart. My everything. I'll miss that big old tongue, those determined little paws. That warm, soft puppy smell. The sweet velvet ears and chubby little thighs. Big brown eyes. I'll miss those little sighs and all that sweetness. Thanks for the 10 great years. Nothing hurts like this, but we all knew it was time and it's a relief that the suffering is over. Goodbye, old friend, best companion, and sweetest boy. Moses. MoMo. Mosey. Mosers. Mo. Mose. Precious, sweet creature. I'll miss you forever.