exactly that

Posts tagged ‘violence against women’

No Good Deed (Part I)…

 

Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy Summers, a pale woman with blonde hair. She looks on with the beginning of a smile, as if a great weight has been lifted. A pale brunette woman (Eliza Dushku as Faith) is blurred in the background.

Final image from "Chosen", Season 7 and Series Finale

It happens to be that one of the thing that I adore about the shows Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel is that they have a knack for spinning out the long-lasting effects of the consequences of the actions of their characters. While Buffy certainly gets much credit for, if perhaps at some points too much, and Angel is not exactly drowning in, feminist messages, I think that the theme of visiting upon the importance of understanding that all actions, even actions taken under with the best of intentions, have long abiding consequences is an important one for anyone interested in social justice to understand. These consequences might not always be what we imagined or envisioned when we set out upon our mission, and they may not always be shiny, happy, results.

 

The concept that “No good deed goes unpunished” is certainly not lost on Whedon, or, it seems, any of the many writers who helped to bring these stories into fruition. We start as early as “Prophecy Girl” in S1 of Buffy, where Buffy herself, knowing full well that her prophesied fate was to meet the Master and die, embraced that destiny full on to avoid allowing anyone she had come to care about to have to go in for her. As noble as that was, the end result was an upset in the lineage of Slayers, awakening Kendra, a second Slayer, and changing the flow of the distribution of power. As Faith says at the end of S7, they were never meant to exist together in time, and perhaps that is why the dynamics between Faith and Buffy were always in a constant state of upheaval, even though in the end they were able to pull together and discover that they were able to work as a team after all.

In a similar vein, and following with the theme of “Buffy dies a lot”, bringing Buffy back from the dead in the beginning of S6 certainly had the best of intentions. After knowing one person who went to a hell dimension in a sacrifice to save the world (albeit, unwillingly), it wasn’t a far stretch for Willow to imagine that Buffy was in a similar predicament after her own sacrifice in “The Gift” at the end of S5. In an intended noble gesture, Buffy’s friends fiddle with dark powers they didn’t fully understand, wrenching Buffy back from what we later learn is Paradise where she was at peace. What they accomplish is the creation of a malevolent spirit who must destroy her to remain in the world, and, as we find out, awakening Buffy right where they left her — in her coffin under ground. Buffy as to dig herself out to a loud and harsh world where she thinks she is indeed in a hell dimension. Finally, in S7 we find out that this one act, intended to rescue a warrior from an untimely and unnatural death weakened the Slayer line enough to allow The First to act out and attempt to wipe it from time.

When Buffy and Willow, along with Faith and all the other Potentials decide to awaken all Slayer Potentials in order to give enough power to the Potentials in order to fight The First, they succeed in stopping it from succeeding. The idea is that the power of The Slayer should be shared, not doled out to one girl in each generation simply because a group of men generations ago were too weak to fight and resorted to horribly violating a girl. For a moment I am reminded that the violation of young women by men is about power, and in my mind, the power of a Slayer, in this series is intended, however well it is delivered, is about taking that power back. The speech Buffy gives in “Chosen” still makes me cry each time I watch it, because it has a lot of not-just-television relevance to it. But that act of incredible power, while allowing them to Save The World (again) had the consequence of giving Slayer powers to people who, due to circumstances beyond their control, were not capable of handling them, such as Dana.

Dana, we meet mid-season in S5 of Angel in “Damaged”, a very disturbing episode that I have written about before and should re-visit. She has been heavily abused by a serial killer as a child. This, in addition to the dreams and visions that potential Slayer experience throughout their lives, are presumed to have made her “insane”. When her Slayer potential is awakened by Willow’s spell, power that, arguably, she probably would never have received otherwise, she breaks out of the mental hospital where she is, and is unable to control her powers because of the way her mind is coping with that abuse. This episode is one of the most difficult for me to watch. But all the same, Buffy and Willow probably never envisioned a Slayer who was not ready to handle the powers given to her. I am not sure how I feel about the exploitation of an abused women with a disability to make this point. I strongly feel that Steven S. DeKnight and Drew Goddard could have perhaps found a better way to get this message across than continuing on with the Crazy Brunette meme, or perpetuating more harmful stereotypes about mental illness. But here it is, Dana, and this story of a woman who must now be forcibly sedated for her own good because of what Buffy and Willow did.

Tomorrow I hope to continue this discussion by analyzing instances on Angel where the consequences of their well-intentioned decisions went awry, but feel free to have at it in comments. I may be laggy in approving or responding to individual comments.

 

Liar

Anthony Stewart Head, as Rupert Giles, a pale British man in a suit, holding a syringe in front of his bespectacled face.One episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer that perhaps has the hardest tug on the cockles of where my heart used to be, gentle readers, is Season 3’s “Helpless”. Perhaps I am just all maudlin right now, but there is a nice knapsack full of emotions which I think are worth exploring.

One of the most important principles I hold dear is honesty. It is the guiding principle of our home. It is certainly something I expect, though have often found myself not receiving from, my family members. I have fought to always provide it, even though frequently in my younger life the ability to lie convincingly became a survival skill. Funny how the things that help you often hurt you later in life.

Often times I have found myself on the wanting end of withheld information “for my own good”. You know, that tidbit that isn’t slid to you so that you weren’t distracted from exams or to ensure that you wouldn’t come running to the bedside of a sick relative. It is a fairly regular happenstance that someone will slip up and mention when Uncle So-and So was under anesthesia and had an allergic reaction to it casually in conversation when nattering on about something else that keeps me feeling good about being far from home.

I hate having information withheld from me. I hate it more when it is from people I love.

Even worse, are the times I know something is wrong. I can feel it. Everyone I know seems to be on eggshells. Papa seems tired more so than usual and hasn’t picked up The Kid for a hug today. The air crackle with fear as thick as morning fog on Whitefish Bay. Nothing is wrong and the pancakes are burned, but suddenly my grandfather comes home with a report of a heart that has been beating completely backwards in his chest for over seventy years and needs “corrective” surgery. And I didn’t know he had a surgery at all. No one wanted me to worry or distract me from my life. I suppose I should be grateful that none of these things has ever threatened my life directly, but it did threaten my chances of knowing that I might lose people who meant a great deal in forming me into the person I have become today.

Most of all it hurts when the people who lied to you are the people you trusted with the deepest parts of you.

“Helpless” sets us up for another fun year of celebrating Buffy’s natality (here’s a hint: they always turn out exactly as planned and no one ever dies *nod nod*). Buffy is excitedly discussing with anyone who will listen about the ice show her absent father takes her to every year. He must be more absent than I have come to expect, because I don’t remember him taking her to ice shows the last two years. Wev.

Any time she becomes excited about something it seems that Buffy becomes determined to redouble her Slayer Training efforts, and she begins studying the various uses of crystals and gems with their respective properties. Part of what I love about the show is the special relationship between Buffy and Giles, the one that proves that the influence of a father (not that it is necessary) can come from a place not of blood, but of love and intention and devotion. Through his work and commitment, Buffy has come to trust Giles, possibly more than any single person we see her interact with ever, with her life. When her father fails to come through, Buffy even tries to convince him that Ice Shows aren’t as cartoon-y as everyone thins they are, hoping to get him to take the hint. (If someone were free, they’d take their daughter, or student, or their Slayer…)

Over several scenes, we see that Buffy is a little off her game. To put it in Buffy’s terms, her game has left the country. She comes to Giles, scared, asking for help in figuring out why the thing she which she always thought she wanted to happen is now happening. But even she knows that this is something for concern, because Buffy puts her life in harm’s way every day, and her powers have become a lifeline. When Giles tap dances around this, when he skirts the issue, when he seems less concerned than Buffy, who verges on tears whenever she chances her voice to talk about it, we wonder how Giles can be so calm. We know he loves Buffy like his own kin.

Which is why when she is told to meditate upon a specific crystal during her studies, and we see Giles pull out a syringe to inject Buffy with some mysterious fluid while she is entranced in the flaw deep within, it is alarming indeed. Logical conclusions made through TeeVee magic tell us that he is the cause of this mojo that has afflicted Buffy. We, the viewer are let in on the deed that Giles has committed as we watch Buff struggle with what has been not only done to her, but withheld from her as well. Giles has been intentionally aloof, and now we know why.

The scenes at the Sunnydale Arms show us that, once again, our beloved Watchers’ Council is back in the action inflicting archaic testing and rites upon Buffy when they have spent most of her life “watching” from afar. When a slayer reaches her 18th birthday she is to be tested on her abilities without her…um, abilities, and they seem to feel that the best way to do this is to trick her, without giving her any clue what is happening to her. Sending a scared woman into a boarded up house with a supercharged vampire, in this case one who was turned as a patient from a psychiatric facility, and I am sure I don’t need to go into the deep issues packed up in Whedon’s decision to go that route (how it feeds a stereotype of how people with mental illness are all dangerous, how it exotifies mental hospitals and the people in them who are quite possibly and very likely not dangerous at all) so I am not going to, is rather messed up. Giving her any hint of the test before her invalidates it. And it has been done this way for centuries, so it must be the right way, nevermind, you, that it is rare for a slayer to reach her 18th birthday.

But Giles not only knew, he did this to her. And we watched with wide eyes as Buffy’s trust and autonomy were violated.

Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy, a pale woman in a lavendar shirt and denim ovealls with blonde hair. She is in a dark room with plaster walls, covered in tiny Poloroid photos.Predictably, because this is television, like a good plot voucher, the vampire breaks free and kills one of his attendants, changing the rules up and eventually kidnapping Buffy’s mother, giving Giles the opportunity to slink out from between his rock and hard place. As honorable as it is that Giles finally fessed up to his actions, it was only after the colloquial shit hit the fan that he came clean, inciting Buffy’s ire, breaking her heart (If you touch me, I will kill you…), and imbuing her with enough righteous indignation to realize the talents she still possessed. Lest ye misunderstand: Buffy’s anger is what drove her, not Giles’ actions. Through no good deed of Giles did Buffy realize that she was still resourceful, but I believe through her own desperate inner searching. In fact, it is only after, in an odd moment of kindness, Cordelia has driven Buffy home and she realizes that her mother is gone, that she rises to the occasion.

I tell you, ex-con vamps must have a lot of cash to blow on Poloroids.

Long Episode Synopsis is Long.

Apart from the glaring truth that lying hurts and liars kind of suck (even though we all do it and we try not to), there are serious issues with violation of autonomy here, which might even me a more important rule to me than honesty, but really they are inextricably linked in many ways. The person who knows Buffy better than anyone in the whole world should have known what a clear violation of their relationship that was, how invaded her person would break that trust. In fact, he did know, and instead of fighting against protocol that he knew was wrong, he did it anyway. He allowed people detached from Buffy’s life to make calls and enforce rules upon her body, and then insist that he lie about it to her. Then, they wanted his aid in luring her into direct danger.

In the end Buffy learns the Important Lesson that she was meant to learn in that her powers are not everything and that she is clever and resourceful beyond her supernatural abilities, but, is it any wonder that Buffy’s mistrust of the Council is so vehement? And while her relationship with Giles does manage to mend, I am of a mind that it has more to do with TeeVee magic than actual good writing of the mind of a young woman whose whole world was violated to such a degree.

Pop Culture Good Idea/Bad Idea: Denna, Violent Portrayals of Sex and the Mord-Sith in Terry Goodkind’s Universe Part I

Jessica Marais as "Denna" the Mord-Sith, and Craig Horner as Richard Cypher, the Seeker in <em>Legend of the Seeker</em>. Richard is shackled and hanging from the ceiling with no shirt, sweat and blood all over him, as Denna, clad in blood-red leather and a single blonde braid holds a thin rod up against him as she leans close with a threatening look on her face. She is torturing him.Buckle on your roller skates, peeps, because this post has been a long time coming. I have watched lots of clips. I have found lots of pictures. I have been talking to people more informed than me. I have been WAITING to write this post.

I preface it with a strong trigger warning for descriptions of violence, sexually hinted violence, spoilers, and very wordy rants.

The Mord-Sith in the Sword of Truth series are some of my favorite characters. They are at the same time antithetical and thematic of the philosophical bullshit that gets caked on to the poor horse that Mr. Goodkind can’t leave alone, but I can’t help but love several of them.

From gruesome beginnings that have me asking some serious questions about why someone has fantasies about torturing children (because this is NOT the only example I can come up with of him describing the torture of children) come the Mord-Sith. Stolen from villages as young D’Haran children, the soldiers of D’Hara choose the sweetest, most lovely and wonderful girls with the kindest hearts and pluck them from their families. Many of them, such as Cara, a woman who you, should you venture into either the books or the television show, become intimately familiar with, learn young the importance of not hesitating when faced with life and death decisions. Failing to thrown a knife as a young girl cost Cara her life. Literally. These girls are beaten and tortured with a weapon called an Agiel — a thin leather rod imbued with magic that makes it feel as if thunder and lightning are charging through you — until they are “broken”. They watch, helpless, as their mothers are tortured to death before them, to break them a second time. Then, they are tortured until they choose to torture and kill their own fathers; they are broken the third and final time. They are trained to endure great pain, possibly at the hands of the Lord Rahl if he chooses, by hand, Agiel, or in his bed if he chooses. The Agiel, the weapon they use causes that same pain to whomever wields it, so long as it was used to train them. They must learn to tolerate the same pain they inflict in order to use it. The Mord-Sith will finally claim their Agiel by killing their trainer. Or at least that is how Denna got hers. She was the best of them all. The most cruel. The most talented.

Tabrett Bethell as Cara, a Mord-Sith, a blonde, pale woman, administering the "breath of life" to an obscured person. The breath is depicted her as a bright spark. In the book series it is actually mouth to mouth.The Mord-Sith were created as a weapon against magic by ancient Wizards. They are non-“gifted” people (gifted being those born with magic. See my post on “giftedness” here at FWD/forward) who are able to trap magic if it used against them, then turn the user’s own magic against them, bringing great pain. They control the person and their magic until they choose to release that person. In the mean time, the Mord-Sith can make the person whom they control beg for death while inflicting upon them the most incredible horrors of pain imaginable. They are able to beat, brutalize a person, with their fists, the Agiel, or by depriving them of sleep. But death can not even claim them, because the Mord-Sith know how to give “the breath of life”, which seems to be mouth to mouth, in order to draw out the torture.

But if that wasn’t enough, Goodkind seems to have added an element of sexual edge. The Mord-Sith, first of all being the most beautiful girls in D’Hara (most of them being perfectly blonde and blue-eyed, because “pure” D’Harans are always blonde with blue eyes), many of them are repeatedly raped by Darken Rahl, or anyone whom he chooses to lend them out to as a favor. In turn, they are depicted as lashing out their torture in a way that makes it a sex act for them. Their charges are pets, and they engage in what seems to be what Goodkind imagines is the relationship in a BDSM setting.

I am no expert on such things. But I am told, thanks to lovely friends that I have, that this type of depiction is so far from the truth of what an actual BDSM setting is that it is almost laughable. Almost, if it wasn’t damaging to the trusting, caring setting that a positive BDSM relationship can be. I strongly object to the way these portrayals seem to be laid out in pop-culture. The relationship between Mord-Sith and her charge doesn’t seem to do anything to change that.

In the Sword of Truth series, as well as Legend of the Seeker, Richard Cypher is captured by Denna because he tries to use the Sword against her. She, of course, captures the magic and takes him away to be trained. In the show, we see a very tense and Made for TV sexually titillating episode where we are subjected to the beating of, the jabbing with the Agiel, the slow licking of blood off of Richard’s bruised and sweaty face. I’ve spent years watching fantasy television, such Buffy, Angel, Charmed, and my dad watch Xena back before I was extremely interested. I found the episode “Denna” extremely difficult to watch. Denna even killed Richard once just to bring him back to life and beat him more.

Denna, wiping blood from Richard's chin with a red-leather clad glove.One-third of Wizard’s First Rule is a detailed description of the torture that Richard endured for a length of time. The descriptions were graphic, like watching some kind of torture porn that I wasn’t used to, only it wasn’t like reading Kushiel’s Dart, where the protagonist is usually willing, or even if she isn’t, Jacqueline Carey has an idea of what Sadism and Masochism are about — about the trust and the safety involved. Here, it is exploited for the sake of demonstrating the evil intent of the Rahl’s who inflicted the sexual torture upon these women, driving them to be what they are, and in turn driving them to actually enjoy inflicting it upon Richard.

Of course, Denna comes to love Richard, because he is a rare person, so special that the women in the world that is constructed fall around him. But we will visit that shortly. He rose above all of that, compartmentalized his mind and eventually loved Denna enough to kill her, enabling his escape. But before this, she took him as her mate. She enjoyed the fruits of that decision at her demand with her Agiel in her teeth, and in whatever ways she saw fit. Richard never had any idea what was going to happen to him. There was no way to form trust.

I find it interesting, the creation of these characters, these women, whose lives were stolen from the, and destroyed by angry abuse, violent and sexually based at times. It turned them into brutal fighters who are not to be underestimated, which we will see in part two, when I talk about how they are awesome. It is only scratching the surface of what I believe demonstrates Goodkind’s raging contempt for women in general. All of this stuff he beats into is Not A Fantasy Series about how everyone has a right to their life, but it is definitely obvious that some lives are definitely meant to be in the service of others. (We’ll get to that in the future too!) The Mord-Sith gives me great internal conflict, giving me some of my favorite characters (I’m Lord Rahl’s favorite…) who are reasonably developed, but who are simultaneously exemplifying everything that is wrong with depictions of sexual violence, violence against women, and the way women are portrayed in pop-culture mediums.

Denna’s death, was violent, tragically sad if considered in context, and reminiscent of the way women would be scattered around Richard Cypher/Rahl in the remainder of the series: Fiercely strong because of their well-developed past. Fighters who have overcome many things that have shaped them into who they are. Flawed women who have been “awakened” by Richard and how awesomely fabulous he is, and now they throw themselves at his feel to serve and love him, or in Denna’s case, to wait patiently and nakedly while he comes to run her through with a white-hot sword. But he kisses her good-bye as well. Because only he can grant her forgiveness and compassion for what she was beaten into doing.

The complex situation surrounding the Mord-Sith is such an interesting thing to look at, and I know that there have been people champing to talk about it. I decided to break this into two parts, otherwise it was going to unwieldy. In the Part II I am going to talk about all the things I loved about the characters, how well they were developed, but also the flaws that were in how they were developed, and the obvious way they were handed off as attempts at female empowerment.

There is a ton to unpack, even in this one topic alone.

In the mean time, discuss away!

Yokota Teens Pull Childish Prank With Adult Consequenses

A green highway sign for interstate 25 pointing to exit 79, to Truth or Consequenses.A group of teenagers from Yokota Air Force Base, Japan, thought that a fun prank would be to pull a length of rope across a road, for whatever reason that some (not all) teenagers decide that things sound like good ideas. A Japanese woman on a motorcycle was “clotheslined” in the taut rope, and flung from her bike, cracked her skull and at one point fell into a coma. The teenagers stopped an oncoming car to call for help, provided the police with false names, and fled the scene.

The oldest teen is being tried as an adult in Japanese court. Part of the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) that allows U.S. Forces to bring their families to overseas stations with them allows host-nation authorities to exercise jurisdiction over crimes that happen in their country when appropriate. Curiously enough, the charges against the other three teens have all been dropped, and only the one teenager remains to take the blame for all of this.

The teenager has paid a “gomennasai,” which included a monetary payment, to the woman, and told her that he is really very sorry that his thoughtlessness caused her to crack her head open on the pavement. I am sure it came out of his own pocket. Though under Japanese law he was a minor, at 18, when he committed the crime, the Japanese family court passed the case to the criminal court. Given the nature of the crime, I fully support this decision, but I honestly think that in some capacity the other three teens should be standing with this teen, because the violence that they enacted upon this woman is inexcusable. She was in the hospital for 17 days and unable to work for two months. 200,000 Japanese yen (the equivalent of $2,200) doesn’t cover that.

Why does this one teenager stand alone? When I write and act in defense for teenagers to have for themselves the right to make decisions as autonomous people, that entails the responsibility to see through the consequences of those choices. It is a part of growing up. We have to learn from our mistakes because they shape us into the people we become. While I don’t think that a prison system is how you do that, I think that a punishment for a prank that resulted in the severe injury of a Japanese national woman is warranted.

Even when they make heinous mistakes.

I don’t really believe that they should throw the book at these teens and forget about them forever, but what they did was cruel. Each of them acted, and each of them should be punished accordingly.

Especially when this is a systemic problem.

There is a problem, ongoing, of violence enacted by servicemembers stationed overseas and even by their dependents towards the nationals of host countries, especially in Asia, and most notably recently in Japan. A part of me believes that part of what led these teens to believe they could just flee the scene was a disregard for a Japanese woman’s life. I don’t believe these things happen in a vacuum, and I have spent enough time living on and around a military base in Asia, that I have seen the way people interact with nationals.

The lone teen’s defense lawyer believes that his case should never have been handed up from family court. Because the teen never intended to hurt anyone, you see, this should have stayed in family court. Obviously, this is just a childish prank. The boy claims that they never meant to hurt anyone, that they thought that motorists would only turn around when they saw the rope. That the woman was injured so terribly must have been her own stupid fault for not being telepathic. Gosh, she’s lucky to be alive.

The prosecutors seem to have it right. They said in court that “they were focused on holding the teen accountable for his actions, not his intentions,” because at least someone remembers that intent is not always the most important thing.

That is a lesson worth remembering.

Photo Credit: einalem

Eclipse: I Had To Blog It Sooner Or Later

I put it off as long as I could… and then I rolled up to Fast Food Establishment after a swim one day to get a veggie burger and LOW AND BEHOLD I had to drink my unsweetened effing tea with THIS FACE staring at me.

FOR SERIOUS YOU GUIZE!

He is all up on my cup!

For the number of times that we eat fast food (it is certainly Not Many), I don’t feel that I deserve this.

So, Eclipse has had it coming a long time now and I just needed a PRECIPITATING EVENT! Take THAT, Stuffy Neurologist!

*ahem*

So, Eclipse. I heard some rumor of a movie coming out or something?

When we last left our Hero and Heroine… (I CAN’T EVEN TYPE THAT WITH A STRAIGHT FACE!) Bella had just come back from almost Not Dying in a great big Not Conflict at the hands of the Pope Connection The Volturi or some shit. Bella must either be turned into a vampire or killed, so sayeth the Volturi. Alice, Edward and Bella were all allowed to walk away with little more than a promise to make that happen some time in the near future. I did that once, when I gave birth. They let me leave the hospital once I promised I would poop sometime the next day. I didn’t really know that was going to happen… In all fairness, Alice touched one of the Big Bads and allowed him to see all of her sooper seekrit thoughts (OK, I fucking love Alice, but her power is used all too conveniently, and then has these way too convenient blocks). She has shown him a future that she ain’t sharin’ with no one and I guess no one ever told Alice that Secrets Don’t Make Friends, which is a lesson we teach The Kid…

*heh-hem*

So they bounce. They get home. Charlie’s rightfully pissed off cuz his kid went skating around the globe and left her pup out in the rain all forlorn. But Jacob got the last laugh, you see. In a jealous fit he brought their secret motorcycles and plopped them down on Charlie’s lawn and got Bella good and grounded. More grounded. I’m not sure.

I told you Secrets Don’t Make Friends.

So Eclipse picks up right where New Moon left off… sort of.

Bella and Edward are back together and So! In! Love!, planning their future, only not planning the same future. They are filling out all the college applications, Bella planning on going as far away as possible, like, to Alaska to avoid the sun and make sure there is plenty of wildlife so she can soak in her new vampiness that she is planning on having and sticking to that vegetarian diet (there’s that word again!). Edward, however, keeps popping in with all of these great school applications for her, like Dartmouth, assuring her that she could easily get in (umm, my realism radar went off knowing the kind of portfolio you need for that kind of school, including attendance and extra curricular activities all of which Bella’s include 1) loving my Perfect White Marble Boyfriend 2) hallucinating about him when he is gone and 3) running off to another country to save his life when my death attempt didn’t work out. Not Ivy League last I checked.). He also seems to think that 1) Bella is going to easily give in to the idea of putting off aging past 18 for another year or two, since her priorities are so well on track as it is, and 2) that the Volturi are going to be reasoned with so easily for something like “Hey, Bella just needs to go to college as a human!”.

I am thinking it is No and No.

Also, if she agrees to marry him, he will make her a vampire, himself, at the moment of her choosing, no more fight (nooooo, that’s not manipulation!). Playing on Bella’s jumpiness about nuptials. Because he is still stringing this along, even though Bella has made her choice, even though the Volturi have said that it must be so or she must die, and even though Bella put it to Edward’s whole family for a vote, because it endangers their lives too. It was nigh unanimous, BTW, save Rosalie (who IS my favourite character, and will be discussed ad nauseam in a future post), and Rosalie has her reasons, and in the end, it isn’t really that she is against Bella at all, she is just all wistful and stuff b/c Bella has a functioning womb. Edward just doesn’t seem to give a flying fuck about what anyone except what Edward wants, despite who it is putting in danger. And this rightly pisses me off about Edward because we can clearly see that he is the only holdout here (except Jacob, but Jacob is also being selfish).

But, as it turns out, Charlie has granted Bella a great reprieve to this eternal grounding she received.

She has to spend more time with her friends, more specifically Jacob, because she is spending, in his opinion, too much time with Edward.

I need to take a pause here and describe this magical thing that happened between New Moon and Eclipse.

Jacob has taken a mystical transformation. Not just from boy to werewolf, but from Nice Guy ™ to Douche Bag®.

In New Moon, Jacob was a supportive friend, if not a little whiny like I expect boys of his age to be (and girls too, I am an equal opportunity former education major). He was there to be Bella’s friend when her world came crashing down, and sure, he had FEEEEEELIIINGS for her, and let that be slightly known, and we all saw that she exploited those feelings a little more than slightly to her own selfish ends. But they had a friendship nonetheless, and despite it seeming that Bella can’t go five days without her dude to lean on, Jacob was a good friend to her. But she was selfish about it, and used it to keep her thoughts away from Edward, and to fill the gap where he was gone.

In fact, just when Bella was about to “settle” and thought that life with Jacob was better than life with no boyfriend at all, that was when Alice came swooping in to knock the plot back to normal, AMIRITE?

Now, once Jacob starts speaking to her again, he mocks her friends, which, even if you hate vampires, you should have the decency to respect that the person you claim as your best friend considers some of them near family and not insult them every chance you get. He comes to her school to menace Edward (don’t worry, Eddiekins is not saved from my eyebrow arching), and it is almost as if it is more fun to taunt Edward than be a friend to Bella at this time.

The culmination of all of this douche-tasticness is when Jacob has Had Enough of Bella’s wishy-washiness (which isn’t even real, because at no point ever in the books could any critical reader ever think that Bella is going to really leave Edward and wind up with Jacob. Ever.) and FORCES HIMSELF ON HER. He kisses her even though she tells him no. Even though she tries to stop him, and then she just gives up and lets it happen, hoping it will be over soon because she knows she can not stop him.

Let me give you a lesson kids: This is sexual assault. Any time someone does anything of a sexual nature that you do not want, it is sexual assault. If you say no or do not consent to it, it is sexual assault. This scene in the book disturbed me to no end. And if you think for a moment that Bella’s giving up and allowing it to happen somehow implies consent, well, you are R-O-N-G. Many victims of assault and rape will tell you that they reached a point where they just stopped fighting and let it happen, knowing that their assailant HAD MORE POWER OVER THEM AND THEY COULD NOT STOP IT.

Then Bella punches him and pretty much breaks her wrist. This is all funny Ha Ha to Jacob, because he got his rocks.

Even better still, when they get to Bella’s house, and Charlie, and by Charlie I mean Chief of Police Swan hears the story, he pretty much congratulates Jacob on his accomplishment and they all have a hearty laugh at Bella’s expense.

Great writing there, Stephenie Meyer!

For anyone wondering why I waste my time reading and writing about this stuff, this is exactly why, because I need to be able to know that this is what is being passed off in YA Lit as romantic. This is what she has created as the basis for “Team Jacob”.

But before anyone thinks that I have given Edward a pass, his overprotective hovering is enough to make me choke. His pissing match over “If I ever get her back in any less condition than I left her in” blah blah blah… Bell is a thing… something that had best be pristine before he puts the sparklepeen in it.

He dismantles her truck to keep her from visiting her friends on the reservation. He persuades Charlie to allow he and Bella to fly to Florida to visit Renee (remember her? Bella has a mother!) instead of letting her know that Victoria (Ms. Not Appearing in the Last Novel) was sighted and that her life was potentially in danger (though Jacob would have told her this). Even when Bella convinces him that she should be safe on the reservation with her friends, she is handed over like a child in a custody drop off in a case of bad-boy ping-pong.

We always see this narrative of Bella being passes from one man’s arms to the other. Again, and again, and again.

It never seems to end even when the Epic Battle We Never See happens and the rest of the cast of the book is fighting for their lives. Now three books into the series, I wonder, why is this still exciting and romantic? Why do more people not see how sad and pathetic this is? I was ecstatic when another mom at swim lessons told me that she had discussed some of these same themes with her ten year-old, who is also a mature reader, because young girls should be thinking about how “Team Jacob” and “Team Edward” are not really healthy teams that have anyone’s best interest but their own in mind.

They see Bella as a porcelain doll to be kept neatly in a box and protected (and Edward actually kind of does that in the fourth book).

I have some more themes to discuss, but they need posts of their own, and this has gotten long. Consider this introductory.

I have discussed the racism in the series as a whole, but I need to discuss the racism in the relationship framing of Sam and Emily (and there is potential for a post on romantic relationships in YA Lit overall).

Also, I want to get a little more into the dynamics of Bella, the lack of “Team Bella“, and the place where the book actually passes the Bedchel test (I think, yes it does, briefly).

So, discuss. I will trash your favorite series more later. I may need to drag it off the shelf again, as apparently reading it three or so times eight months ago doesn’t have it fresh in my memory…

STOP STARING AT ME EDWARD!

Other “Twilight Saga” blogging…

Eclipse: I Had To Blog It Sooner Or Later

I put it off as long as I could… and then I rolled up to Fast Food Establishment after a swim one day to get a veggie burger and LOW AND BEHOLD I had to drink my unsweetened effing tea with THIS FACE staring at me.

FOR SERIOUS YOU GUIZE!

He is all up on my cup!

For the number of times that we eat fast food (it is certainly Not Many), I don’t feel that I deserve this.

So, Eclipse has had it coming a long time now and I just needed a PRECIPITATING EVENT! Take THAT, Stuffy Neurologist!

*ahem*

So, Eclipse. I heard some rumor of a movie coming out or something?

When we last left our Hero and Heroine… (I CAN’T EVEN TYPE THAT WITH A STRAIGHT FACE!) Bella had just come back from almost Not Dying in a great big Not Conflict at the hands of the Pope Connection The Volturi or some shit. Bella must either be turned into a vampire or killed, so sayeth the Volturi. Alice, Edward and Bella were all allowed to walk away with little more than a promise to make that happen some time in the near future. I did that once, when I gave birth. They let me leave the hospital once I promised I would poop sometime the next day. I didn’t really know that was going to happen… In all fairness, Alice touched one of the Big Bads and allowed him to see all of her sooper seekrit thoughts (OK, I fucking love Alice, but her power is used all too conveniently, and then has these way too convenient blocks). She has shown him a future that she ain’t sharin’ with no one and I guess no one ever told Alice that Secrets Don’t Make Friends, which is a lesson we teach The Kid…

*heh-hem*

So they bounce. They get home. Charlie’s rightfully pissed off cuz his kid went skating around the globe and left her pup out in the rain all forlorn. But Jacob got the last laugh, you see. In a jealous fit he brought their secret motorcycles and plopped them down on Charlie’s lawn and got Bella good and grounded. More grounded. I’m not sure.

I told you Secrets Don’t Make Friends.

So Eclipse picks up right where New Moon left off… sort of.

Bella and Edward are back together and So! In! Love!, planning their future, only not planning the same future. They are filling out all the college applications, Bella planning on going as far away as possible, like, to Alaska to avoid the sun and make sure there is plenty of wildlife so she can soak in her new vampiness that she is planning on having and sticking to that vegetarian diet (there’s that word again!). Edward, however, keeps popping in with all of these great school applications for her, like Dartmouth, assuring her that she could easily get in (umm, my realism radar went off knowing the kind of portfolio you need for that kind of school, including attendance and extra curricular activities all of which Bella’s include 1) loving my Perfect White Marble Boyfriend 2) hallucinating about him when he is gone and 3) running off to another country to save his life when my death attempt didn’t work out. Not Ivy League last I checked.). He also seems to think that 1) Bella is going to easily give in to the idea of putting off aging past 18 for another year or two, since her priorities are so well on track as it is, and 2) that the Volturi are going to be reasoned with so easily for something like “Hey, Bella just needs to go to college as a human!”.

I am thinking it is No and No.

Also, if she agrees to marry him, he will make her a vampire, himself, at the moment of her choosing, no more fight (nooooo, that’s not manipulation!). Playing on Bella’s jumpiness about nuptials. Because he is still stringing this along, even though Bella has made her choice, even though the Volturi have said that it must be so or she must die, and even though Bella put it to Edward’s whole family for a vote, because it endangers their lives too. It was nigh unanimous, BTW, save Rosalie (who IS my favourite character, and will be discussed ad nauseam in a future post), and Rosalie has her reasons, and in the end, it isn’t really that she is against Bella at all, she is just all wistful and stuff b/c Bella has a functioning womb. Edward just doesn’t seem to give a flying fuck about what anyone except what Edward wants, despite who it is putting in danger. And this rightly pisses me off about Edward because we can clearly see that he is the only holdout here (except Jacob, but Jacob is also being selfish).

But, as it turns out, Charlie has granted Bella a great reprieve to this eternal grounding she received.

She has to spend more time with her friends, more specifically Jacob, because she is spending, in his opinion, too much time with Edward.

I need to take a pause here and describe this magical thing that happened between New Moon and Eclipse.

Jacob has taken a mystical transformation. Not just from boy to werewolf, but from Nice Guy ™ to Douche Bag®.

In New Moon, Jacob was a supportive friend, if not a little whiny like I expect boys of his age to be (and girls too, I am an equal opportunity former education major). He was there to be Bella’s friend when her world came crashing down, and sure, he had FEEEEEELIIINGS for her, and let that be slightly known, and we all saw that she exploited those feelings a little more than slightly to her own selfish ends. But they had a friendship nonetheless, and despite it seeming that Bella can’t go five days without her dude to lean on, Jacob was a good friend to her. But she was selfish about it, and used it to keep her thoughts away from Edward, and to fill the gap where he was gone.

In fact, just when Bella was about to “settle” and thought that life with Jacob was better than life with no boyfriend at all, that was when Alice came swooping in to knock the plot back to normal, AMIRITE?

Now, once Jacob starts speaking to her again, he mocks her friends, which, even if you hate vampires, you should have the decency to respect that the person you claim as your best friend considers some of them near family and not insult them every chance you get. He comes to her school to menace Edward (don’t worry, Eddiekins is not saved from my eyebrow arching), and it is almost as if it is more fun to taunt Edward than be a friend to Bella at this time.

The culmination of all of this douche-tasticness is when Jacob has Had Enough of Bella’s wishy-washiness (which isn’t even real, because at no point ever in the books could any critical reader ever think that Bella is going to really leave Edward and wind up with Jacob. Ever.) and FORCES HIMSELF ON HER. He kisses her even though she tells him no. Even though she tries to stop him, and then she just gives up and lets it happen, hoping it will be over soon because she knows she can not stop him.

Let me give you a lesson kids: This is sexual assault. Any time someone does anything of a sexual nature that you do not want, it is sexual assault. If you say no or do not consent to it, it is sexual assault. This scene in the book disturbed me to no end. And if you think for a moment that Bella’s giving up and allowing it to happen somehow implies consent, well, you are R-O-N-G. Many victims of assault and rape will tell you that they reached a point where they just stopped fighting and let it happen, knowing that their assailant HAD MORE POWER OVER THEM AND THEY COULD NOT STOP IT.

Then Bella punches him and pretty much breaks her wrist. This is all funny Ha Ha to Jacob, because he got his rocks.

Even better still, when they get to Bella’s house, and Charlie, and by Charlie I mean Chief of Police Swan hears the story, he pretty much congratulates Jacob on his accomplishment and they all have a hearty laugh at Bella’s expense.

Great writing there, Stephenie Meyer!

For anyone wondering why I waste my time reading and writing about this stuff, this is exactly why, because I need to be able to know that this is what is being passed off in YA Lit as romantic. This is what she has created as the basis for “Team Jacob”.

But before anyone thinks that I have given Edward a pass, his overprotective hovering is enough to make me choke. His pissing match over “If I ever get her back in any less condition than I left her in” blah blah blah… Bell is a thing… something that had best be pristine before he puts the sparklepeen in it.

He dismantles her truck to keep her from visiting her friends on the reservation. He persuades Charlie to allow he and Bella to fly to Florida to visit Renee (remember her? Bella has a mother!) instead of letting her know that Victoria (Ms. Not Appearing in the Last Novel) was sighted and that her life was potentially in danger (though Jacob would have told her this). Even when Bella convinces him that she should be safe on the reservation with her friends, she is handed over like a child in a custody drop off in a case of bad-boy ping-pong.

We always see this narrative of Bella being passes from one man’s arms to the other. Again, and again, and again.

It never seems to end even when the Epic Battle We Never See happens and the rest of the cast of the book is fighting for their lives. Now three books into the series, I wonder, why is this still exciting and romantic? Why do more people not see how sad and pathetic this is? I was ecstatic when another mom at swim lessons told me that she had discussed some of these same themes with her ten year-old, who is also a mature reader, because young girls should be thinking about how “Team Jacob” and “Team Edward” are not really healthy teams that have anyone’s best interest but their own in mind.

They see Bella as a porcelain doll to be kept neatly in a box and protected (and Edward actually kind of does that in the fourth book).

I have some more themes to discuss, but they need posts of their own, and this has gotten long. Consider this introductory.

I have discussed the racism in the series as a whole, but I need to discuss the racism in the relationship framing of Sam and Emily (and there is potential for a post on romantic relationships in YA Lit overall).

Also, I want to get a little more into the dynamics of Bella, the lack of “Team Bella“, and the place where the book actually passes the Bedchel test (I think, yes it does, briefly).

So, discuss. I will trash your favorite series more later. I may need to drag it off the shelf again, as apparently reading it three or so times eight months ago doesn’t have it fresh in my memory…

STOP STARING AT ME EDWARD!

Other “Twilight Saga” blogging…

The One Where My Boundaries Were Also Violated…

Warning, this post if very rambly…

I went to a very whitewashed high school in the U.S.

My U.S. History teacher had a fucking shrine to Monticello in back of the room, and we learned about what a Great Guy Christopher Columbus was. He was seriously a hero.

We were taught that the Trail of Tears was a necessary means, and that the gov’t was Really Very Sorry for it.

Mad Ann Bailey was a Women’s History icon.

No one ever mentioned that my tribe was the only one to hold off the French oppression. In fact, most people have never heard of my tribe at all.

(You don’t “look Native”!)

I took the standard history I was fed.

I grew up scraping together pieces of my heritage because I only had parts of it to keep. I won’t rehash it because the people who know me know how difficult and personal it was to hold together and how fucking hard it is to assert my right to keep my non-white identity.

I can barely keep up w/ my own heritage and the emotional toll it takes on me, because discussions about race are extremely personal for me. Just because I don’t blog loudly and publicly about it doesn’t mean it doesn’t touch my life deeply on a daily basis. I don’t have to pass a litmus test to get cookies. I bake cookies if I want them.

So, I don’t think that I need to explain in great detail, that when I was enjoying an internet free day, while my partner, in my single computer home, was playing EVE Online and I was tucked into a great Space Opera novel (Spin, I recommend it), that shit went down that I was unaware of…

I didn’t check my email, my backends, or anything that day… in fact that email couldn’t have hit my inbox any more than an hour after that first angry comment went into the mod queue at FWD, which is a site that has a comments’ policy that clearly states that we have bloggers from four countries in several different time zones and that comments (all comments are in full mod all the time) can take up to several days to respond to or even approve. That first comment was given fifteen minutes time before the next came in, and then they rolled in again and again. On a website where the mods have disabilities and have to manage spoons that need to fuel their on and offline lives…

Then came the abusive — yes, abusive — comments asking if we didn’t have the spoons to deal with our racism… calling into question our disability status while many of us were sleeping or spending time with families or taking self care time. Something we have a right to do and that the internet has no right to take away from us. All within a couple of hours’ time… (but I hadn’t seen any of this yet) I would never dream of calling into question another person’s racial/ethnic or disability status when they have laid it out publicly so often…I would expect to get that shit called out quickly. That doesn’t fly in my playground…ain’t how we roll on my rez (OK, that is how they did roll on the rez, and maybe that is why I am so protective of people I love now, because calling that shit out is racist/ableist and I ain’t gonna do it)…

Then, Father’s Day was observed for us here on the base near where I live, even though we are currently living in the Republic of Korea, which I will point out is in the Eastern Hemisphere and in the same date and time zone as parts of Australia (you’ve heard of them, right? It’s another country, and continent), and we had plans to go out and spend some great family time together, after we finished up the grocery shopping. I made a list, and noted that the Kid is on school holiday, so I needed to incorporate home lunches for two into that, and was going to plan for home made bread which I remembered might be more fussy than my Korean oven would allow right now, with it’s temperature numbers missing, so I needed my Laser Gun (thanks s.e. for helping me choose!) thermometer, and decided that before I forgot I needed to really quickly close my Amazon cart…

I always leave my email open, but since we have multiple computer users Apple does this neat thing where we can have different screens running at once, and I used the “apple + left arrow” to scroll over to my screen to open a new tab and saw at the top of my inbox an angry email calling out myself and my fellow FWD blogger, Chally, for not addressing the issue of racism at FWD, since we were “POC”s and such…

That was the official moment that I learned what the fuck “Juneteenth” was. So, my ignorant ass had no idea that any internet crime had been committed. And suddenly I had to spend two hours derailing my family’s plans — because that is how OCD works — and had to catch up on WTF was going on. But our policy states that we have that long mod time to allow us to work on an international schedule and to make every attempt to contact the original poster… none of us can move unilaterally in this situation and I don’t know why the fuck this is still being explained b/c you all could read it if you were so inclined (which many of you are not or you would have)…

We have this in place to protect us from reacting too quickly and rashly to things, and it has been this way since the beginning…but I suppose it is less fun to read silly things like comment policies and intro posts than it is to run amok all over the internet w/ whatever information you believe is the truth and tear people’s lives apart — some of those people being people who have mental illnesses that are affected by this kind of abuse — there’s that word again — and create more page hits and fun bandwagons to endorse for yourselves…

Because I have read the posts, I firmly maintain that there was no fault at FWD. I think that Anna and s.e. didn’t need to apologize for shit — and I realize that this will be unpopular because everyone fell all over their damned selves to rally around the loudest person yelling — because the Helen Keller Blogswarm invitation was clearly an invitation to write about what was important to each of us, and about intersectional issues. The date wasn’t specifically chosen by FWD, but by a larger group celebrating a well known, international disability rights activist. If this meant that Juneteenth was important to you, then by all means, write about that. It would have been productive, and it would have been eye-opening instead of destructive. If I am accused of Tone here, fine. Accuse me of tone. But claiming that an invitation to write freely in any space in the internet about anything that you desire is erasure is disingenuous (so sorry you were caught doing some shit you shouldn’t have and this is how you reacted, but we didn’t deserve this kind of fucking abuse). At best, really. And more obviously a way to openly attack a group of vulnerable people by using the privilege of voice, platform, and popularity. Details are made up and twisted (comments closed specifically to shut down Black people? That is some incredible foresight to close comments on a personal blog months ago and to request the same permission weeks in advance!) and no one bothers to do the required reading before throwing a hat in the ring and trashing bloggers’ names.

But if I may: Making something All About You when it isn’t is awful. Someone I once respected taught me that. Once again, taking something that wasn’t specifically aimed at excluding an obscure U.S./North American holiday (but was intended to include it if any author wanted it to) and making it so, is selfish, so obviously a cry for page hits and fabricated drama, and once again centering a discussion that shoves people aside and silences voices that aren’t as popular or powerful as your own. Once again, this forcing of a race issue to be Black or White is erasing people who fall in between. Where is the outcry when Aboriginal/Islander/First Nation/Indigenous holidays get no attention? Where is this outrage when our people are misidentified or white hipsters appropriate our traditions? Sport’s teams our names as mascots? Where is the cry of racism when mixed ethnic people are labeled Black or White, and their identities erased? Where is the Day of Emancipation celebration for Indigenous people in the U.S.? (We don’t have one because we are not free.) Where is the freedom from oppression for PWD? (There is none!) These identities also intersect within my own body, both of those having extremely high instances of sexual assault that is ignored by law enforcement, placing bodies in situations where pay is cut/lower than livable, benefits are denied…the list goes on. And yet, instead of bullying anyone off the internet I was/am proud to be part of something that cherishes all voices and wasn’t working to hurt some in the name of my own singular, louder voice…

I am not going to ask permission for this one: I appreciate being tokenized about as much as I appreciate being erased. I have drafted and re-drafted an email response to that original email, before I gave up and realized that no response will suffice, especially after being publicly flogged for having the audacity to be offline with my family for days. I have a right to self-care and non-internet time. I have a right to value time with mine. No one can take that from me, as my body tried to take that from me, and as this abuse now tries to take more of it from me mentally, I will not stand for it as I now need pain pills to cope w/ the flares this added stress is causing.

It is equally racist to call me out because of my ethnic heritage and demand that I stand with you. Yes, “POC” can be racist too, and this action was racist. Expecting me to stand in solidarity (as baseless claims and hurtful half-truths were slung) based solely on my non-white status is a racist act. Telling a person to don white sheets is hateful abuse. Emailing me and expecting me to react instantly is a North American-centrist attitude, and expecting that I could/should respond while I was sleeping because you said so smacked of an attitude of colonization. Too many times am I erased because my color is not the right color, and finally, when it is convenient to you, I am expected to fall in line and fight, or be called a colluder. Fuck that.

I have a right to decide where I lay my loyalties, and I have decided that I stand with intersectionality, and with people who don’t need an Either/Or, because there isn’t a limit on pixels or tube space. We can have all of it. We can share the space and overlap our margins, and that is what I am striving for. No one gets to tell me how I use my spoons or what battles I fight. I resent being chided like a child, as if somehow I can’t understand my actions. I will not be colonized, not by White people nor by anyone who forces any label on me. Not with any form of guilt (I spent enough years as a Catholic TYVM). My people still live in poverty and in special places set aside for them. Slavery has not ended. I know racism, I don’t need a primer or a racesplainin’.

Oh, yeah? Closed comments? That was a lesson I learned from a very wise person indeed. You call it silencing? I call it self-fucking-preservation from your fucking abuse. I won’t take any more of your public floggings, and is sure as hell won’t happen in my fucking space. Anyone who comes here will know the dog damned truth.

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