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Archive for the ‘rape/sexual abuse’ Category

You must see these photos.

Homicide. Suicide by hanging. A great deal of drinking, mainly of whiskey, mainly by men. Blood pooled on the floor. Chairs overturned. Many weapons: guns and knives and ropes. Burned Cabin, where a burned skeleton is barely visible, Dark Bathroom, which contains a dead woman in a bathtub beside an empty liquor bottle, and Unpapered Bedroom, in a boarding house where an unknown woman has been found dead.

In Frances Glessner Lee’s dioramas, the world is harsh and dark and dangerous to women. “The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death,” her series of nineteen models from the fifties, are all crime scenes. Glessner Lee built the dioramas, she said, “to convict the guilty, clear the innocent, and find the truth in a nutshell.”

From “Death and feminism in a nutshell” by Nicole Cooley in the Paris Review. 

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This goes in some interesting and very unexpected directions… breastfeeding, single parenting and the gendered expectations of sacrifice and care work.

From “Selma Blair: I’ll lose everything, I’ll go to court, I’ll be on the right side of history” by Sophie Heawood in The Guardian. 

“I was about 34. And I thought, maybe that’s right, I’ve never loved somebody unconditionally – I’ve been in love, I’ve been in lust, I’ve been crazy about someone, but I’ve never really still… no. It rang true.” This was after her two-year marriage to Frank Zappa’s son Ahmet had ended. “And then my son had some health issues and he really needed the breast milk, so that really was my job. I thought: ‘Aaaah, I guess I can die now, I got him through that!’ But I depleted myself, too, and I’m still recovering. I still have to remind myself that my own body needs healthier fats than fried food.”

She recently bought the film rights to a novel she loved, The Lost by Sarah Beth Durst, which is about a woman who has been caring for her sick mother for years, but one day just gets in her car and drives, only to end up in a mysterious town where nothing grows and everything has been lost and discarded from elsewhere. “It was so simple, but also metaphysical and magic. It really lifted a veil in my mind. There are so many women to play, so much room for them.” So she wrote the proposal and is now pitching it, with her as producer and possibly as the lead. She has no other work lined up “and it feels like my only salvation. I had to do this.”

But then she started talking to men in meetings about it. “They just sit like lumps, going: ‘I don’t want to like this character because she left her mother.’ Well, one, she left her mother for a drive, and two, you can’t like a woman who’s broken her back to take care of other people her whole life? You’re not gonna follow this heroine?

“Once I had my child, I realised how unfair life has been for women. When you deal with potential custody issues, which we ended up not having, but you look into it and realise this is all geared towards men now, and the court systems usually loathe single mothers. I thought, I do not have this fight in me, I don’t know how to deal with this. We’re too powerful, so we dim our shine to get through stuff. I didn’t even realise until people started speaking up how really kind of… furious… we should be allowed to be.”

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There’s a reckoning taking place now, we’re told. Female anger is at last finding its mark and its moment. I hope this is my primitive anger-shame speaking, or jadedness, or simple exhaustion – but I can’t trust it. The speed of the avalanche, its force, feels too dangerous. It feels like a runaway train that’s going to crash off the rails, and soon. My own cheering at the sight of the bastards going down feels too much like the delinquent ecstasy of a classroom run amok, and beneath this lurks the fear that when the frenzy’s over, that will be that. And then we’ll all cop it worse than before.

Is the woman who was too afraid to read my book rejoicing as she watches retribution raining down on affluent men across the western world? Is this cathartic, curative, for her? I hope so. I hope the pain is flooding away from her spirit like a fast-running tide. But I wonder.

This is a wonderful piece from Charlotte Wood in The Guardian, “We’re told female anger is having its moment. But I can’t trust it”.

 

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That the agents of destruction have been women simply telling their stories in public is nothing less than delicious. Women were gossiping, complaining, name-calling, and suddenly the world was listening. (In fact, historians have written extensively on the importance of gossip and its venues, such as coffeehouses, in fomenting previous revolutions.) Each tale that came tumbling out was more sordid than the last: infinite variations on the theme of sexual scumminess. The revelations weren’t exactly new, but the frame had shifted: the handsy boss, the lewd entreaties, the casting couch, were no longer going to be business as usual. Every revolution has its weapons of choice—once it was muskets and guillotines, this time around it’s “sharing” and media exposure. It wasn’t heads that were rolling, it was careers: contracts yanked, deals canceled, agents quitting, e-mail accounts shuttered. Career death is hardly nothing—it’s the modern equivalent of losing everything. (When the Times recently compiled the names of twenty-four prominent men accused of sexual harassment, it did rather bring to mind the spectacle of heads on a pike in a public square. The name conspicuously absent, unfortunately, was our groper-in-chief Donald Trump, who’s thus far managed to slither away from the variety of sexual charges lodged against him.)

About those chopped-down potentates and lords: many of them, one couldn’t help but notice, were not the most attractive specimens on the block: bulbous, jowly men; fat men who told women they needed to lose weight; ugly men drawn to industries organized around female appearance. Men with weird hair. Is it wrong of me to bring this up? We do, after all, move through the world as embodied creatures. I wondered what it felt like, if you’re such a guy, one who’s managed to accrue some significant portion of power in the world but you’re still you—coercing sex out of underlings. When you look in the mirror, is it a great white hunter you see staring back, with women as your game of choice? Sure you’ve won, you’re on top, but isn’t every win a tiny jab of confirmation about your a priori loathsomeness? If sexual domination assuages something for certain men, is it because somewhere inside lives a puny threatened runt, and extracting sexual compliance is some form of recompense? One woman, who’d fought off the advances of a naked, pleading film producer, recalled that he thereupon broke into tears and said she’d “rejected him because he was fat.”

The mantra lately heard across the land is that sexual harassment isn’t about sex, it’s about power. I wonder if this underthinks the situation: Is the man who won’t stop talking about sex a man convinced of his power, or one who’s desperate to impress you with his prowess? Failing to notice the precariousness of power encourages compliance, especially among the women targeted. If recent events tell us anything, it’s that power is a social agreement, not a stable entity. The despots had power because they did things that were socially valued and profitable, but the terms of the agreement can shift abruptly.

This is a great read! “Kick against the pricks” by Laura Kipnis in The New York Review of Books. 

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This documentary film, Hotel Coolgardie, looks amazing and somewhat terrifying.

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When we say vagina, we’re collectively ignoring the visual aspect of female anatomy, the clitoris and the labia, with language. The vagina is the way that guys who have sex with girls come. Since Kinsey’s 1953 landmark book Sexual Behavior in the Human Female, we’ve known that most women need direct clitoral stimulation (by a hand, a mouth, or some other object) to have an orgasm. And yet, how many times do we still see, in movies or television, the depiction of a woman’s orgasm as a result of cock-penetration alone? That we call the female gentials “the vagina” speaks volumes about the politics of sex. “Vagina” keeps the focus on straight male pleasure.

Dr. Mithu Sanyal, author of VULVA, a cultural history of the vulva, believes ideas about the body are marshaled through words. “Language is connected to our perception of the world. What we can’t name, we can’t talk about, and ultimately, can’t think about,” she writes. Clinical psychologist Dr. Harriet Lerner calls this phenomenon of disregarding the clitoris and the labia “psychic genital mutilation.” According to her, “Language can be as powerful and swift as the surgeon’s knife. What is not named does not exist.”

Always.

From “Stop calling it a vagina” by Mary Katherine Tramontana in Vice. 

Been Team Vulva for a long time around here.

 

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My friend, Mary-Rose MacColl’s memoir about motherhood, For a Girl has just been published and you really must read it.

If you read any of the reviews about this book you’ll know that it covers experiences of sexual abuse and adoption. Because of this, there’s a tendency to reduce this book in any discussion to a very well marked trail through victimhood. But MacColl’s book, like all her writing, is filled with nuance. There are no typical victims, one’s survival past trauma is not victimhood. It is life, being lived.

And this book is about joyful, puzzling absurdity, about unexpected tenderness, about loss at its most profound, and the line between forgivable and unforgivable flaws in the people we love. It’s about the jarring experience of being thoroughly misrepresented until one day, through the rebirth of motherhood, you find yourself flooded with a sense of self-discovery.

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