Yes, I watch True Blood. Mr. Katje and I marathoned through several seasons and then got all caught up, and started catching episodes as they came out.
If you asked us why we’ve stuck with it we’d likely respond with “Stockholm Syndrome.” The show is like a trainwreck: awful, but you can’t tear your eyes away. At some point the only characters on the show we weren’t constantly wishing death upon were Lafayette, Eric, and Terry. (Other characters had their moments but these 3 were the only ones we consistently did not hate.)
All of the protagonists are stupid. The show is terribly written. They handle rape so awfully I should be surprised but sadly I am not. (Seriously, really really awful.)
And yet we keep coming back. We’re addicted to it, like one gets addicted to V.
So on that note, my thoughts on the first episode of the final (thank gods) season. There be spoilers and a lot of swearing ahead; mind yerself. (though if you haven’t seen it my thoughts might not make much sense, anyway.)
Trigger warning: description of rape, rape culture, misogyny, bullying, suicide
Something I didn’t really get into in my last post about Amanda Todd’s suicide is the misogyny, sexism, and clear and present rape culture apparent in the details of the case. I did originally write about it in my post, but decided I wanted to focus on suicide and not misogyny in that post, and that I could write a follow-up post later.
This is that follow-up post.
Most of the posts about Amanda attribute her suicide to bullying and tend to ignore the fact that it was more than bullying. It was sexual harassment. It was assault based on slut-shaming.
She was convinced to flash a guy on webcam. We don’t know if she was coerced or not, but it’s likely. Regardless, she regretted doing it.
Then she was stalked and harassed by a guy who had gotten a hold of a screenshot of that flash, who told her to “give him a show” or he’d distribute the picture to all her friends.
That’s rape culture.
The idea that men are entitled to women’s bodies, and that if they don’t get what they want they can force the issue — that’s rape culture. The idea that stalking and harassing a girl because she flashed someone once online is acceptable — that’s rape culture. The idea that she got what she deserved because she slept with someone who was involved with another person — that’s rape culture. The framing of the story by certain news agencies to moralize about how girls shouldn’t show their breasts on webcam because, oh, look what happens — that’s rape culture. The fact that no one is really talking about the misogyny, sexism, and slut-shaming present in her case — that’s rape culture. The comments on various sites by “trolls” — rape culture.
I picked up Thirteen Reasons Why recently because it was on my list of “to read” and it had received much critical acclaim. Also it was one of two books I’d brought with me while traveling (not including the two I read on mom’s Kindle). I figured it might be okay, at least.
Allow me to give you 13 reasons I dislike it. And by “dislike”, I mean “hate psychotically.”
[TRIGGER WARNING: RAPE AND ASSAULT]
1.Support of the “Well, she didn’t technically say ‘no’ so it’s not technically rape, right?” trope. The character who gets raped [I’m talking about Hannah; the other character who gets raped is tossed aside like a piece of garbage, her views never explored] is herself unsure if it was rape or no, which is very common because we all get taught that we’re dirty and naughty unless we shout no! in a loud voice — but we’re trained from an early age to never say no, because then the menfolk might get violent. That’s not what I have issue with; I have issue with the book itself seeming unsure regarding the conclusion. If the character who’d been raped could not unequivocally call it that, then another character who knew about it (there were three) should have been clear. Without that clarity it seems the author is saying he agrees that it’s “grey-area rape”. Anything short of enthusiastic consent is rape. Not saying no does not equal consent. The fact that the character was crying and clenching her teeth just to get through it should have alerted the others who knew about the situation that it was rape. Instead, we get vague hand-waving of “well maybe it was, maybe it wasn’t,” and this is wholly irresponsible of the author and holds up standards of misogyny and rape culture.
2. The structure of the book is highly manipulative. The reader is lead on a very deliberate route, leaving no leeway for interpretation. Asher has a conclusion that he wants you to reach and he makes sure you reach it. This leaves you feeling used and abused once the book is done.
3. Horrible characterization: there is no sympathy for Hannah Baker. She’s badly written. Hannah is portrayed as cold, calculating, selfish and childish. Suicidal people get portrayed as selfish all the time, so this is an old, tired, trope. Instead, you feel sympathy for Clay Jensen, who is a basically good guy [even thought he’s been raised steeped in patriarchal rape culture but that’s not really his fault and despite it he seems to turn out okay, at least] who is in love with Hannah. He had no idea how deeply disturbed she was, and feels she didn’t really give him a chance to help her. The added blow of giving him the tapes will give him guilt and anger towards her, which is unfair and childish: suicidal people usually don’t plan big manipulation games like this. We’re too lost in our own pain to even fucking care about how our deaths are going to affect others — and no, that’s not being selfish, that’s called having bodily autonomy. Also, if you can’t understand what it’s like to just want to die because you’re in so much pain, shut the fuck up about suicidal people being selfish. You have no idea.
How many times have you heard or seen the above sentiments, or ones similar to them? How many times have you uttered them, either because you truly believe they’re true or because you’ve internalized hatred of yourself, or both?
I’ve heard and seen these sentiments a lot. I wish I had a quarter for each time, because then I’d have enough quarters for several rolls of quarters, and then I’d use them to beat people. Namely misogynistic fatphobic rape apologists.
Which, by the way, the people who utter these sentiments are.
I get it if you’ve internalized the hatred of yourself. I do. I was there for a long time. But darlin, you’ve got to pull yourself out of that trench. Please believe me when I say that a) rape has nothing to do sex and everything to do with power and b) you are beautiful regardless. And please believe me when I say that continuing to utter those sentiments contributes to rape culture and fat hatred.
This is the insidious thing about oppression: we are trained to be complicit in our own degradation. From birth we are put into this culture that tells us these sentiments, these vicious lies, and parades them about as truth. And with so many years of this being drilled into our heads, it’s understandable we may believe these things about ourselves.
So we utter these same statements and make it easier for the oppressor to keep his great big boot on our faces. We have been well-trained to hate ourselves. We have been well-trained to hate others like ourselves, to question their every move.