Tag Archives: rape culture

The Power of Twitter Showcased at the Oscars: #OscarsSoWhite, #YesAllWomen, and #AskHerMore

Twitter has changed the way news is reported. The Black Lives Matter movement has been particularly successful in raising awareness for cases of police brutality that generally would have been overlooked by mainstream news channels.

Arguably the second most important aspect of Twitter is its ability to connect celebrities to their fan base. With the prevalence of these two features, it’s hardly surprising that celebrities and celebrity events have become more politicized.

This year’s Academy Awards are a prime example of this overlap between the celebrity world and political struggles that have been highlighted via Twitter. Below, I’ve included a few notable examples of Twitter flexing its muscles at the Oscars

#OscarsSoWhite

I’m not going to dwell too much on the circumstances of the #OscarsSoWhite boycott, since Gordon and Evan have already thoroughly explained its context. However, I do want to talk a bit about how the controversy was handled by the Oscars host, Chris Rock.

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Overall, I thought Rock did a great job calling out the Academy without reducing his monologue to a humourless lecture. However, in his article for Salon, Arthur Chu points out that,

Acting like caring about day-to-day violence in the streets and the impact media and culture have on that violence are somehow mutually exclusive — a common, frustrating, tired argument anyone who talks about racism in media will inevitably see dozens of times in the comments section — ignores history.

It ignores the many, many arguments that have been made about how the excuses made for the deaths of Trayvon Martin and Mike Brown frequently come verbatim from untrue stereotypes out of TV and movies, how the only way Darren Wilson’s description of Brown as a “demon” who was “bulking up to get through the bullets” could possibly make sense to anyone is after a lifetime of media portrayals of the scary superhuman black man. It ignores Martin Luther King going out of his way to call Nichelle Nichols and tell her not to quit “Star Trek” because having a black woman on TV who wasn’t a domestic servant mattered. It ignores the ongoing civil rights protests around the Oscars back in the 1960s and ’70s, including Marlon Brando making history as the first and only best actor winner to boycott the ceremony, sending American Indian Movement activist Sacheen Littlefeather to accept the award in his place.

Similarly, several activists have since pointed out the one-dimensionality of calling for more black representation only to appeal to Asian-American stereotypes for a laugh. Continue reading

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The Problem With Cute

A few years ago I took a fantastic Political Science course at my local community college.

Unfortunately, Señor Chang did not go to my college.

Our professor wanted everyone to love Political Science as much as he did, so he gave us a lot of freedom on what we would write our major class papers on. That’s how I ended up writing a paper called “Advertising, the Gateway Porn: How Hypersexualization Undermines Cross-Gender Relationships.”

Last week I tried to use some of my research from that paper to cover a topic Gordon introduced in a previous post, how advertising can be just as damaging as pornography, but I quickly realized there was far too much information for just one post. That’s why today I’m going to continue with the topic of sexualization in advertising. Continue reading

Shame Day: Rick Ross and Rape Culture

First off, let me tell you that I like rap music. As I said in a previous post, I unabashedly love the King Fantastic Remix of “Drive It Like You Stole It.” On the other end of the spectrum, I also have a huge appreciation for artists like Macklemore who use the genre to tackle issues like drug abuse and homosexuality [while sounding good doing it].

I will also be one of the first to admit that rap music has also preached the messages of commercialism and misogyny, and that is not something I can get behind. Every now and then, however, a rap artist will push those boundaries enough for the media to get attention [and no, I don’t mean LL Cool J providing the bridge to that song about racism that’s kinda racist]. Continue reading

“Rape”: A Continuation

The second post I ever wrote on this blog was about the word “rape,” and since then it has not ceased to be an issue. A number of events have occurred in the past couple of months, and re-reading many of them this week has reminded me what a big deal it can be.

About a month ago stand-up comedian Daniel Tosh was doing a show when an audience member commented on the bit he was doing. He had been going on about how hilarious rape jokes were [his position: always], when the woman interrupted him by yelling “Actually, rape jokes are never funny!” She reports that Tosh responded with the words: “Wouldn’t it be funny if that girl got raped by like, 5 guys right now? Like right now?”

John Seavey, one of the writers on Mightygodking, wrote a response to what happened, titled “From the “How To Be A Decent Human Being” File….” In it he decried Tosh’s response to the woman, and basically lay down that freedom of speech or not, threatening someone sexually is not something you ever do.

I talked to Gordon about this yesterday, and not to turn this into another “Evan and Gordon Talk” post, but I had to add just a little of our conclusion to this one:

[after agreeing that probably no one in the audience actually took Tosh’s words “seriously.”]

EVAN: I mean, I guess we can both be on the level that to at least one member involved, Tosh, it was not a threat.

GORDON: Agreed. You also promised to crap in my bed. [I will not deny this -E.]

EVAN: Valid, but 1/5 of all Gordons don’t have their beds crapped in.

Similar to my first post on the word, there are those out there who believe that this is all a matter of sensitivity. Comedians like Louis C.K. have defended Tosh‘s right to free speech. Others on the internet have taken more creative avenues to back up the “rape joke” that was made [warning for language and content]:


The video, for those who don’t feel like or want to watch it, is a press conference with the character “F-ck Bot 5000.” He answers that rape jokes are off limits, while jokes about “9/11,” “dead babies,” and “making fun of autistic children” are perfectly acceptable. The point being, from what I can tell, that people are being overly sensitive about a particular buzzword, but letting these other topics slide completely.

Then, of course, there’s the whole “legitimate rape” thing. On August 19th Todd Akin, Republican nominee for the state of Missouri Todd, told KTVI-TV that “First of all, from what I understand from doctors [pregnancy from rape] is really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

Now I’m no Biology major, but I have friends who are, and none of them can back up his claims. His words have, of course, created quite the uproar on the internet. Jezebel compiled a very thorough “Official Guide to Legitimate Rape,” which compiles the ways in which the word and act have been portrayed in past years. I strongly recommend checking it out.

Finally, game designer James Desborough wrote a post this past June entitled “In Defence of Rape.” After admitting that the title is instigative at best, he, and this is a direct quote, states “Rape or attempted rape is a f-cking awesome plot element, one of many.”

Gordon and I talked about this one as well, and the issue is, at the heart of his argument, not wrong. The gist of what he’s saying is [and I quote Gordon] “Look, rape can be an effective and powerful storytelling element, so long as it isn’t trivialized.” And that’s not something I can disagree with.

What I can disagree with is his statement that “I’m not prepared to take spurious claims about ‘rape culture’ etc at face value without something substantive to back them up.” It’s one that he uses to defend his argument, lumping “rape culture” in with the “‘all men are bastards’ argument.” I don’t see what can be more substantive than the gigabytes of rape porn on the internet. I mean, it’s not like it’s hiding or anything. If some weirdo gets off on The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo then that’s one instance, but the people creating rape porn for a very large audience is not.

Rape is, as ever, a hotly debated issue. While we can always say that people are being too sensitive, the fact is that it is a very real, legitimate act that happens more than once a minute. It’s not something to be made light of, and especially not something to “jokingly threaten” someone with. It is also not something that can simply be thrown around in speech without strong knowledge of what’s being talked about.