exactly that

Posts tagged ‘rape’

How To Dress Up Misogyny In Fantasy Fiction

Something that was marked in the “loved” side of the Love-Hate  relationship I have with Terry Goodkind’s Sword of Truth Series (which, I don’t care what he says, is a fantasy fiction series, so there. If you didn’t want to write fantasy, you should have picked a different genre, setting, concept, whatever, for your pedantic preaching… I mean, you had a dragon who could speak, and a chicken which was an incarnation of evil) was the variety of characters that showed up throughout the course of the twelve books. Incidentally, it is the longest series I have ever read, and I almost quit in the middle of Faith of the Fallen, regardless of the fact that my favorite character was developed in that particular book.

One strike in the “hate” column, were it possible for me to keep up with the number of things I hated, is the way that Goodkind took incredibly interesting women characters and wrote them into incredible tropes whose sole purpose was to serve the whims of the principle protagonist, who might be the most annoying man I have ever read written into (fantasy) fiction, ever. And I have read some Star Wars fiction, and all of the Twilight books.

I am not sure if it annoyed me more or less that these women characters were from most perspectives, well, awesome. I fell in love with them on most fronts. The first of many, Kahlan, was undoubtedly one of the most unusual characters I’ve ever met in fiction. She was a matriarch of sorts over all of the Midlands with a rare and incredible power.

As a Confessor she commanded respect from everyone who crossed her path, or that was how things were intended to be. Until, that is, she met and fell in love with Richard Cypher, who turned out to be *spoilerspoilerspoiler* the heir to the Rahl line. A woman who is used to having kings and queens bow to her ultimate and unquestionable authority suddenly has her reign usurped by her fiancée and doesn’t seem to mind because she can still rule by his side. Once they are married.

In my mind it was fun to have this woman placed in a position of ultimate power only to have her toppled by the parties of men. Another Queen, who happens to be Kahlan’s sister by a coincidence, is also dethroned, then brutally raped and beaten until she literally goes insane by a group of misogynistic marauding men working for the Ultimate Evil Socialist Baddie (I am not kidding). The women who run the Palace of the Prophets, a group of powerful sorceresses who train young wizards, have their palace usurped and destroyed out from under them. This theme did not go unnoticed. /digression

Kahlan’s father taught her everything he knew about war and survival, and as a result she knew how to train young soldiers who were outnumbered greatly and spent more time leading armies than Richard — who was prophesied to lead the final battle against the great Socialist Evil. But love conquers all, right? When Richard decides that he must throw out the laws of the old Midlands and unite them under D’Hara (even though it doesn’t work), Kahlan, flinching momentarily, does anything she can to support Richard. Goodkind even goes to great pains to show her failing when she goes against Richard’s advice — even though it doesn’t make sense given her educational background, her personality, or the strength of her character and her power. One of the most absurd aspects of the story is that some of the greatest power she wields can only be invoked on behalf of Richard. And that particular point is never fully explained. I will never be able to fully explain all the ways that I loved Kahlan so much, and was so disappointed and frustrated at the same time with how her character was written.

I don’t know, though, if it measures up to the way that I became righteously indignant in behalf of Nicci. When Nicci was first introduced, I wasn’t aware that I would ever see Nicci again since she seemed to be an aside character, one of those cardboard cutouts who serve as a momentary evil tool of the devil Keeper of the Underworld. Then I was remotely aware that she would turn up again — the whole “I’m going to kill Richard” thing gave it away — but didn’t imagine that she would develop to the point that I would find her the most amazing person in the series. Hands down.

But.

Nicci spent the last third of the series being a martyr for Richard’s needs. Worrying about Richard’s health. What was best for Richard. Sleepless weeks studying ancient tomes because Richard doesn’t know squat about his own abilities, and Nicci has more than enough for three wizards and five sorceresses. In spite of Richard knowing exactly jack about being a wizard he magically is able to pull miraculous theory out of his arse so he can save Nicci’s life. Save. Her. Life. Because the most contrived plot points meant to show that Richard can do anything no matter how many times these incredibly educated women attempt to teach him anything, he instantly proves them wrong in the most amazing ways.

During the last third of the series, Nicci is constantly being shoved to Richard as a love interest, with whom she has fallen in love but is trying to keep that feeling buried, and she goes to great pains to help him in whatever way he needs because of this. She makes herself a sacrifice to Richard, and in the end, she is fulfilled because Richard is happy, even if it almost kills her in the process. She takes on heroic acts of selflessness because it doesn’t matter if she dies so long as the thing that makes Richard happy and successful comes to fruition. These things just don’t add up to her character development.

The Mord-Sith, Cara, who is sworn to Richard’s side is one of the most feared women in all the Midlands, known for the legendary torture that turns her into a weapon for the Lord Rahl. After Richard becomes the great hero who sets all Mord-Sith free, Cara chooses to be his personal guard. Now, Cara is badass, even as the lore created by Goodkind — who has no problem describing the torture and abuse of women as a plot device to show how horrible a bad guy can be — is as fascinating to me as it is triggering and problematic. Tougher than iron spikes and determined to show you that no man can scare her let alone better her at anything, the thanks Cara gets for throwing her life in front of danger for Richard’s protection is Richard’s insistence that she needs to be “more feminine”. Somehow her lack of desire to swaddle babies and feed squirrels makes her less feminine, because there is obviously only one definition. Cara is the stereotype of “strong female character” in that she is supposed to be the “anti-female” or something, but she is witty and clever and endearing, but there is a never-ending side-story to make her into a better, softer woman.

The series is rife with graphic descriptions of violence against women. Rape and gory death drawn out in great detail. A serial killer who rapes and strangles prostitutes to ensure that everyone knows that they are less than human. A man who cuts off the nipples of women to control them with magic. Rape scene after rape scene described to ensure you know just how evil someone is. Women reduced to sex slaves by the “bad guy”. Combined with subtle message after little detail that ensures you know that gender roles are expected not only in the Midlands, D’Hara, and all of the New World, but in the heart of the philosophy that is being pounded by the beaten horse in this Randian-lite crap, the utter contempt that Terry Goodkind has for women shines through in what would have been an incredibly enjoyable series.

And I’ve only scratched the surface. I’d have to go, book by book, to get more in-depth.

It baffles me the way that someone can write incredible women with depth and amazing attributes and still demonstrate a full-on hatred for them with the stories and plots written out for them. The way their lives unfold and the arcs stretch on, at times, made me weep with anger. To this day I can’t figure out how I can hate a series so much and enjoy it at the same time.

Planning Ahead

Something that has been tumbling around in my head is the issue of repealing DADTObviously.

Repealing the legislation isn’t enough.  There is still the matter of dealing with the UCMJ.  The Uniform Code of Military Justice.  The UCMJ is what the Military uses to maintain its own law and order, if you will excuse the term.  The UCMJ has some very specific things to say about so-called “homosexual acts”, as some would call it, in Article 125.

(a) Any person subject to this chapter who engages in unnatural carnal copulation with another person of the same or opposite sex or with an animal is guilty of sodomy. Penetration, however slight, is sufficient
to complete the offense.

(b) Any person found guilty of sodomy shall by punished as a court-martial may direct.”

Elements.

(1) That the accused engaged in unnatural carnal copulation with a certain other person or with an animal. (Note: Add either or both of the following elements, if applicable)

(2) That the act was done with a child under the age of 16.

(3) That the act was done by force and without the consent of the other person.

Explanation.

It is unnatural carnal copulation for a person to take into that person’s mouth or anus the sexual organ of another person or of an animal; or to place that person’s sexual organ in the mouth or anus of another person or of an animal; or to have carnal copulation in any opening of the body, except the sexual parts, with another person; or to have carnal copulation with an animal.

If DADT is repealed, without Congress changing the UCMJ there is still the chance that all of these people who are now allowed to be free and open about themselves could still be punished under Article 125.  So, it comes as a great relief to find this in the Stars and Stripes online today:

A panel of legal scholars has suggested that Congress remove sodomy as a crime punishable under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, a recommendation that could boost efforts to end a ban on gays serving openly in the U.S. military.

The Commission on Military Justice recommended that Article 125, which deals with sodomy, be repealed, arguing that “most acts of consensual sodomy committed by consenting military personnel are not prosecuted, creating a perception that prosecution of this sexual behavior is arbitrary.”

I mean, yay!  Someone is thinking ahead on this.  It isn’t often that I have witnessed the Military being proactive rather than reactive to something (if you can call it this).

Plenty of heterosexual couples have violated this, let me assure you.  I would be interested to see the stats that back up the claim that the majority of people discharged under Article 125 are straight.

Since I first found this article on the Free Republic (OH MY EYES!), I am sure that Conservajerks are going to be all over this one.  So let’s address something, shall we?

OpponentsZOMG!  If we repeal Article 125 then the Military will think it is OK to have sex with children!!1!

Fact: 1) You can not have sex with children.  Children can not give consent.  The correct term for that is rape.  2) Raping children would still be illegal under UCMJ Article 120, which covers and defines, say it with me now, rape.

Now, I have a few issues with Article 120 all on its own.  It deserves to be addressed, but it covers the child rape issue pretty clearly.  Any person who has not attained the age of sixteen years.  Pretty clear.  It is already illegal to rape children.  So, saying that we need Article 125 to prevent this is pretty much intentionally obtuse.

OpponentsZOMG!  If Article 125 is repealed, then the rape in the Military problem will get worse, because it will be harder to punish!!1!ELEVENTY!

Fact:  Ummm.  No.  Again, Article 120 already covers this.  Rape is already illegal, and the Military is already taking massive steps to prove that it takes rape and sexual assault seriously, with more training than you can shake a stick at.  Also, there is a little thing that the UCMJ has called Article 134, otherwise known as the “catch all” clause, meaning if they don’t think they can bust your ass with something else, they sure as hell are going to get you with this one.

So, we can put to rest the thought that Article 125 is so badly needed that we can’t repeal it.  In order to make the repealing of DADT, to allow service members to serve out and open freely, without fear of being hurt, abused, or otherwise hazed in their working environments, often leading to suicide or physical and mental illness, often left untreated because the service member is discharged without benefits .  It needs to go (and, let’s be honest, it needed to go, like, 100 years ago.  Really.) and the sooner the better.

Now, who do we talk to about getting this done?

So…about that Jezebel thing…

Not that my opinion matters, me, sitting here on a low trafficked feminist minded blog, w/ my fake disease that I just need to buck up and get over (this will be explained in a mo’).

But, a while back I took Jezebel off of my blogroll.  Stopped reading them.  I stopped following links to their site b/c I couldn’t in good conscience give more traffic to their judgmental snark on shit they know nothing about.  The day I read the article where they proudly exclaimed that Fibromyalgia, and illnesses like it, were fake was the last proverbial straw for me.  That was the friendly part, too.  The comments exploded into an ableist marathon of harsh judgements and shaming.  Everything from FMS to depression were poked fun at, and anyone who spoke up or got in the way of their fun was heavily mocked.  Enough is enough.  I, and others like me, live daily w/ the actual people in our lives who are supposed to help us deal w/ our bodies and chronic conditions not believing us and not caring one rip about the quality of our lives.  We don’t need flip-floppy feminist wannabes appropriating feminist language when it’s convenient to tell us what is going on in our bodies and making us feel bad that we sometimes find comfort only in the form on a pain pill or new medication.  Our doctors do enough of that.

Then, there was the matter of the woman who, in a moment of confusion about something that happened b/t her and her partner wrote to a site, anonymously, seeking advice on dealing w/ what was a horribly poor judgement on her boyfriend at best, and incredibly painful rape at worst.  The ladies at Jezebel were quick to pick up that tidbit and run w/ it, and once again, the comments on the insensitive article ran wild, turning this woman’s experience into their own fodder, ripe w/ shaming at her refusal to call it rape and dump her boyfriend.  When the woman wrote them and asked them to print a few corrections, she was dealt w/ poorly to say the least, and her feelings on her own personal matter were quickly dismissed in the name of page hits and “sorry, we are done posting for today, so you will have to wait for your truth”.  Some of these same people also being staunch supporters of the term “gray rape”.  *shudders*

These are only a couple of examples of why I loathe the site, and only read it occasionally if insistently pointed to it and even then if there is no other link to get the same info.  Even the Red Queen warns me if she is linking to it.  They, while not claiming to be a feminist site, are back and forth, often using feminist wording to poke fun at feminist issues in a judgmental and most un-feminist way.  I can get my celebrity fluff at a better place.  They aren’t a feminist site, I get that, even though some of the bloggers self identify as such, as well as many commenters, and even though big feminist blogs link to them almost daily.

So you will understand how it pains me to defend them.  I would rather chew on glass.

But this?  This shit?  This is ridiculous.

Shaming a woman for not reporting her own rape at 17 is unforgivable.  Slut shaming, and otherwise blaming rape victims for their own rapes is equally unforgivable.  Bad form, Double X Magazine (and nice othering, BTW w/ the name.  Not every woman has double X chromosomes).  Not a great way to come out the gates.

Need we remind you that rape isn’t about sex.  It is about power.  Need we remind you that the only difference b/t a person who has been raped and person who hasn’t is the presence of a rapist.  Rape happens to women in short skirts, or women in baggy sweats.  It happens to women who have been drinking too much, and it happens to the most stone cold sober.  It happens if you are a Woman of Color, or white.  Rape happens to the cis-gendered and trans* alike.  Rape happens if you have been walking alone at night in unlit alleys, and it can happen in your own car, or your own home, by a stranger or by someone you have known for years.  The only factor they all have in common is the presence of a rapist.

So, before you go hanging neon signs over the splinters in the Jezebels’ eyes, and there are many to point out, perhaps you should take a look at the huge lumber mill in your own.  I stand alongside Jill, et al, who feel that this article was in poor taste.  I just stand in my own place, knowing that Jezebel won’t hesitate to shame others who aren’t in line w/ what they deem acceptable but also knowing that it doesn’t make them fodder for slut shaming and victim blaming.  Shaming and attacking women hurts women.  All women.

We all get enough of that from the Patriarchy, thank you very much.  We don’t need more women pissing in our own sandbox in the name of feminism.

PS: Ablism IS a feminist issue, fuck you very much.

ETA:  Somehow I managed to break the link to the Double X article when I originally published.  Oops.  My apologies for any confusion.

Um…hi, I think ur doin it wrong…

[Extreme trigger warning:  The following video makes a joke out of child rape and incest]

If you can not watch this video for whatever reason, Lauredhel has a transcript.  I am not a rape/incest survivor, and I had to switch to the transcript just a few seconds in.

Like Cara, who gets the h/t on this, said, what disturbs me the most is the portrayal of the victim.  I also think that were I a survivor this would only serve to enrage me.  I know what it is like to survive abuse and have people try to convince you that it either didn’t happen or that you should get over it, or try to act as if it wasn’t that bad to begin w/, and I can only begin to imagine that it is so much worse if you were a young child were raped by a family member.

If an emotional and triggering response is what the goal was w/ this Australian advert, then I think they did it.  I think if they are trying to bring serious attention to a serious issue then a flippant and supposedly ironic advert like this is so not the way to go.  It made me sick to my stomach just read it.  I have a hard time believing that anyone who is an actual adult survivor of childhood rape and incest had anything to do w/ this.  It feels callous and not well thought through.

I am also interested in thoughts on this.  As someone who is not a rape and incest survivor I don’t feel I can fully judge this video…but I really have to go w/ my gut and say that this isn’t really as effective as they think it will be.

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