By now you’ve probably heard that Stanford student Brock Allen Turner was sentenced to only 6 months in prison for raping an unconscious woman at a party. You’ve probably also heard his father shamelessly attempt to downplay Turner’s actions as “20 minutes of action”.
Hopefully, you’ve also read the letter written by the rape survivor. In it, she breaks down many of the myths around rape, myths Turner’s defence used to attack her testimony and represent Turner as some kind of victim instead. Her heartbreaking personal account has broken down the defences of almost everyone who has read it (except Turner and his father, it would seem). According to Buzzfeed, one of the main sites to release her letter, her words have “gone viral” in a way few conversations about sexual assault ever do.
And as the word has spread, almost everyone has gotten behind this brave woman. Her story has brought light to the problem of systemic injustices, like light penalties for many cases of sexual assault and disproportionate penalties based on racial or economic background.
More than anything her story has prompted a united public outrage. Every comment I have read expresses distain and anger towards Turner and sympathy for his victim. Even internet trolls who would normally find a reason to challenge the victim’s story (i.e. some members of the Men’s Rights Reddit page) admit that “outrage over this issue is legitimate” (although their comments inevitably lead back to criticizing feminism).
In some ways it’s encouraging to witness the attack on Brock Turner. It seems like we’re experiencing a massive shift in the way we talk about rape and sexual violence. As this story has unfolded we’ve seen few if any attempts to slut shame or victim blame in the media or public conversation.
As glad as I am that this conversation has come out in favour of the victim, I can’t help but wonder if the public condemnation of Turner actually signals for a yearning for justice, or if perhaps other factors are at play. I’ve been struggling with two questions in particular. Continue reading
Posted in crime, media, morality, news, politics, race, sex
Tagged 20 minutes of action, abusive, Anonymous, athlete, attitude, backlash, blood, Brave, Brock Turner, conversation shift, crowd, cultural shift, economic, father, hospital, hypocrisy, inequality, Judge Persky, justice, letter, media, Men, men's rights, mob, penalties, physical assault, prison, questions, racial, rape, representation, revenge, Sexual Assault, slut shame, stanford, Stanford rape, stanford rapist, survivor, systemic injustice, testimony, trauma, victim, victim blame, witnesses, woman, women
The culture war is a conversation.
While it is ultimately a conflict, more often than not this takes the form of ideas and criticism being slung back and forth across the trenches. To be heard is a minor success, but to be actually understood is victory.
Within this conversation it’s undoubtedly artists, especially those who have garnered celebrity status, who have the most powerful voices.
In 2014 the eponymous host of The Colbert Report featured a segment on his show about “The Ching-Chong Ding-Dong Foundation for Sensitivity to Orientals or Whatever”. Given his popularity it reached far and wide, and was eventually viewed by a Twitter activist who created the hashtag #CancelColbert in response.
As it was meant to call attention to and ridicule the outrageous fact that a national sports team is named after an ethnic slur the response was out of line. It was a classic case of [obvious] satire being taken the wrong way, but by inadvertently contributing to what has been dubbed “a fake year of outrage’ this person’s misstep resulted in others who campaign for better representation and the like being worse than silenced, which is to say, ignored.
Despite calling out from what is ostensibly the same side, the misstep of a single loud voice meant that others were unheard.
The exchange between artist and critic is rarely ever an even one, and only becomes more difficult given the sensitivity surrounding such personal creative endeavours.
Lena Dunham is the star and creator of HBO’s Girls, and received enough disapproval about the lack of diversity in a show set in New York City that she was asked about it by NPR. She responded that “[she takes] that criticism very seriously,” and that very same year had Donald Glover playing Hannah’s Black boyfriend on the show.
While the presence of Sandy on the dramedy was a beneficial one, with arguments between the two capturing the tension that can be present in interracial relationships [including such exchanges as: “I never thought about the fact that you were black once.” / “That’s insane. You should, because that’s what I am.”], Glover’s character faltered in that he was very much a response to criticism. Continue reading
Posted in art, celebrity, Comedy, communication, race, television, writing
Tagged #CancelColbert, activist, apology, art, asian, Asian-American, comedy, conversation, criticism, critics, Culture War, Ghost In The Shell, Girls, Kimmy Goes to a Play!, Kimono You Didn't, Lena Dunham, netflix, offence, outrage, race, racism, rape, Respectful Asian Portrayals in Entertainment, Scarlett Johannson, Tina Fey, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, voice, whitewashing, yellowface
Today, on International Women’s Day, I’ve been reminded of how grateful I should be. Maybe it’s because I’ve been flipping through images of women’s protests around the world. Maybe it’s because I’ve been watching sentimental videos that make me feel inspired (even if they are marketing ploys by Google). Either way, I can’t help but feel grateful.
By the time this post goes up around midnight tonight, it will no longer be International Women’s Day. Before then, I’d like to take a moment to be thankful, and highlight ways we can support other women in their fight to win these privileges too.
1. Freedom and Safety
When I get up in the morning, I do not feel afraid. My country is not at war. My physical safety is not threatened. Throughout history, this was not something most women could take for granted. In many countries around the world this is still something women cannot take for granted.
There are many organizations working to ensure women’s safety. There are a variety of organizations that are working to help women (and men and children) from areas like Syria that have been affected by war. Unfortunately, in unstable situations like these, rape and sexual violence become weapons of war. The Stop Rape Now website highlights a variety of organizations that work with victims of sexual assault and promote rape prevention education. Continue reading
Posted in feminism
Tagged #WomenYouShoulHaveHeardOf, able-bodied, access, afraid, aspire, Canadian, career, cis-gender, criticism, domestic violence, Education, Education for girls, employment, encourage, family, female, feminism, fight like a girl, freedom, Friends, gender, Girls, Hilary Clinton, inspire, International Women's Day, invest, job, Kiva, Malala fund, Malala Yousafzai, manhood, microloans, middle class, Niger, organization, physical, physical security, president, privilege, rape, Refugee, role models, safe, safety, sexual violence, spouse, succeed, threatened, Violence, vocational school, war, white, women, Women's Day, work
I struggle with the priorities on my Facebook feed.
Like many other millennials, I get a lot of my news from scrolling through Facebook. I try to follow as many different news sources as I can, hoping to hear information from a variety of perspectives. I’ve never deleted anyone simply because they have a different opinion, since I need to be reminded that my opinion is far from the only one.
That said, I live in a nation of privilege. From my home in Canada, I am more often than not bombarded by “First World Problems” that seem to pale in comparison to news from other some nations that splash across my screen, albeit much less often.
This week, the news bombarding my Facebook feed has been reports of Kesha’s case against Dr. Luke. According to Rolling Stone, “last week, a New York judge denied Kesha a court injunction that would have allowed her to record new music outside of her record label Sony Music and working with producer Dr. Luke.”
While this story initially seems like a simple case of an artist being forced to honour her contract, it is complicated by Kesha’s accusation that Dr. Luke sexually assaulted her early on in their professional relationship. Continue reading
Posted in feminism, media
Tagged #FreeKesha, abuse, acid attack, artist, backlash, celebrity, columbia, count injunction, court, Demi Lovato, Dr. Luke, engineers, false accusation, gender gap, Jian Ghomeshi, judge, Kelly Clarkson, Kesha, Lady Gaga, Lukasz Gottwald, music, musician, privilege, producer, Protest, rape, saudi arabia, Sexual Assault, Sony, Sri Lankan Maid, Steve Haruch, stoning