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Archive for the ‘rape/sexual abuse’ Category

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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“In life there is no real safety except for self-belief.” – Madonna.

This quote really resonates for me and is the core theme in a piece of writing I just submitted. But the whole speech from Madonna is worth hearing here.

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Quick hi from me to say I will be reading an extract from my article in defence of sexting, that appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald, on ABC’s Radio National on Monday Wednesday morning.

Hear my voice, trying to speak slower.

UPDATE: Here it is – me on Radio National defending sexting. 

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The sext needs defending. I believe this, as a mother, as they say for bonus authority in op-eds. I say it as someone practicing monogamy in the suburbs, with kids and bills and jobs and housework; as someone who will be talking later today to her partner about fixing the dishwasher, about whose turn it is to pay for the groceries.

If there is something in the domestic environment that, between you, makes your heart skip, your breath pull tight? Seize it.

From here. 

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