Thank you to everyone who replied respectfully and thoughtfully to the last post, "Let's have a chat about rape culture and our media". I was nervous when posting that because, well, not only is it a touchy subject and I generally find my views to be quite extreme, but I was also very concerned that I would have a slew of anonymous comments bashing me and celebrating rape culture. None of this happened and I was extremely appreciative of everyone's supportive comments, as well as those who maybe questioned how I approach things. I'm always trying to be more aware of how I address certain issues (I'm really brash about 98% of the time, which I'm trying to work on), so I appreciate comments that provoked me to think again about how I take up certain issues.
I wanted to take some time to address some of the questions asked and maybe expand into the topic a bit more. And yes, I will be posting my final essay about Twin Peaks after I've received my grade back.
First, I try to be more and more careful about how I address gender in regards to rape or rape culture. Victims are not all female, and rapists are not all male. To suggest anything else would be ignorant.
Meli brought up the interesting point which I've seen circulating about the tactic that is commonly used (I used it) about addressing victims in relation to someone else (e.g. it could be your mother, your sister, your brother, etc.). A new wave is pointing out how counterintuitive this is. While the feminist movement promotes women as being independent and more than a wife or daughter, when addressing the issue of rape, relational connections are mentioned more than not. Generally this tactic is used in hopes of empathy. But when you really think about it, that's silly. No one should have to be relational. They're human and that makes them equal to everyone else, regardless of whose son, daughter, husband, wife, girlfriend, boyfriend, etc. they are.
Lexi also brought up a good point about the photo I shared in the original post. I was a bit nervous about using that photo because it is quite direct and says something huge - "Don't tell your daughter not to go out, tell your son to behave properly". This sign was in protest of the recent gang rape (and death) of a young university student in India and the law enforcement who said that it was the victim's fault. A dominant ideology of rape culture is that if a woman (or man, though rape culture scarcely recognizes that) is raped, it is their fault. This sign was clearly in response to this victim blaming that is so prevalent in rape culture (that a man rapes, a girl is raped, and it's her own fault). If anything, I'd believe that these girls are protesting the utter stupidity of how rape is viewed in our global culture. The above signs also protest how awful rape culture is. (For more photos of the protest, try checking out The Guardian or Oregon Live)
If we want to have an honest discussion of rape (not rape culture), we have to understand that not only women get raped, not only men do the raping, and no fault lies with the victim. It is absolutely true that we live in a society that (predominantly) teaches women not to get raped. If I am told one more time to take a women's self defense class, I will lose it. Teaching respect and fighting against rape is not a gender issue. Men and women should be taught the same thing and this inequality is the root of gender oppression and, thus, of rape and assault. Currently, men are taught differently from women, and women differently from men. And a lot of this 'teaching' lies within our media.
I also appreciated the photo that Lexi sent a link to. I've seen this, or something similar to this, circulated throughout my Facebook. Obviously quite thought provoking and, I think, one of the many ideologies of rape culture, though maybe one that many people are blind to. As a girl, I've never looked at it that way, but all men (who are not rape celebrationists) should absolutely be offended by that ideology. I think that largely goes hand in hand with the speech by Andrea Dworkin which I shared an excerpt from, I want a 24-hour truce in which there is no rape. Protesting rape is not a gender issue (as we've seen in India), teaching against rape is not a gender issue. Rape largely exists because of gender oppression, but that doesn't mean that protesting or teaching should be left to the oppressed gender(s).
Abby asked if I still liked pin up girls. Yes. As a general rule, there is nothing wrong with expressing your sexuality. Women are sexual beings. Men are sexual beings. Sex is part of nature and there's nothing wrong with that. In fact, sexuality is quite beautiful. However, the damaging part of women in media being presented as sexual is that this is the only representation. Men are presented as multi-dimensional and their sexuality is scarcely an issue, as long as their getting some. However, with women, even when presented in power positions, nothing else really matters as long as they're sexual. And it's made even more confusing for women because they're supposed to be very sexual, but also very virginal. That paradigm really does not exist for men as it does for women. But, I still love pin ups, and I've done pin up modeling before. It's fun and it's freeing, so I like that. My 2013 planner is all Gil Elvgren pin ups. I like them because they're pretty ridiculous half the time, but they're also these really beautiful women who don't fit into beauty standards of today (necessarily). However, I wish that these pin ups existed along with media representations of women as powerful, strong, in control, and not primarily sexual.
Abby also asked me about my response to Fifty Shades of Grey, BDSM, and porn. I honestly have not read Fifty Shades of Grey and I know little about it, except that it does contain BDSM. As far as my opinions of BDSM go, kink is okay. There's nothing wrong with being aroused by kink or wishing to participate in it. I personally wouldn't because of a prior history of abuse, but if both partners are willing and comfortable, what someone does in the privacy of their own bedroom is not my business. I think that mainstreaming BDSM in media can be extremely damaging. Moving beyond just pornography, BDSM is apparent in music videos, television shows, movies, etc. and this presents a norm of what is erotic, and that can be dangerous. Trying to present something as a 'norm' can be dangerous in general, but especially when it comes to sex. BDSM presents sex as violent and most media representations don't talk about, or even imply, consent. When consent is absent in the context of sex, that's when things become dangerous.
As far as pornography goes, I'm extremely wary of it. I'm wary of porn becoming mainstream - of pornification - and I'm wary of porn becoming more and more violent. Whenever sexuality is present as violent (or violence as sexy), I am concerned because that has huge implications.
I know that there was some hostility towards my comment about media reflecting reality. It is simply my opinion, and the opinion of many scholars, but I absolutely do believe that we accept our media as a reflection of reality, or a reality that we should strive to achieve. I know I posted a trailer for Dreamworlds 3, all about music videos and how we reflect those back into ourselves and our actions. If you didn't watch it, I absolutely advise you to check it out. It is shocking, and I should let you know that it could be a trigger.
I also wanted to share this quote by Jean Kilbourne about media and violence in her piece Can't buy my love: How advertising changes the way we think and feel: "Adverts don't directly cause violence ... but the violent images contribute to the state of terror. Turning a human being into a thing, an object, is almost always the first step towards justifying violence against that person...This step is already taken with women. The violence, the abuse, is partly the chilling but logical result of the objectification."
(p.s. watching her most recent movie, Killing Us Softly 4, can provide loads of enlightenment on media and its effects - I've seen it a few times I am still blown away.)
Our media does well to objectify women and present them as sexual objects, first and foremost. Or, even, in touching on the topic that Keit brought up, countries which ban pornography but still have a high rate of violence, there may be something in their media which contributes to this even without being explicit. It could also have to do with religion or other ideologies which are well rooted in their culture. I will not make the claim that media is the only contributor to violence or gender oppression - it's not. However, do you remember when women were completely edited out of Ikea catalogues in Saudi Arabia? Even simply making women (or any other 'minority' group) absent from media representations is damaging.
I'm not here to promote censorship. That is absolutely bad. But we have a media oligopoly of 6 companies (Comcast, NewsCorp, Disney, Viacom, Time Warner, & CBS) in charge of 90% of our media. Can't that be seen as censorship? The ideologies of those 6 companies is 90% of what we consume. I'm not saying that they are responsible for rape, but the media that these companies put forth are absolutely responsible for the culture of rape which we live in, and that culture fosters rape or ideas of rape in each and every individual.
I hope that I got to every question in one way or another. Again, I am so thankful for the outpouring of love, support, encouragement, and even questioning which I received. I'm sure that this will come up in the blog time and time again, and I hope that I can become more educated and less brash with every post. I'm not here to dictate to you or act like I'm on my high horse. I'm just extremely concerned and want to facilitate safe conversation about such an important topic. I'm still learning and I hope that everyone helps me to learn. We learn from each other as much as from our media, right?