Why Don’t We Talk About It?

I love Dave Chappelle. From his Def Jam poetry, to the always hilarious Chappelle’s Show. And, as always, through his comedy, Chappelle manages to cut right to an important social issue in the clip above. Although the joke is about how men don’t talk about rape because they are too “manly,” Chappelle’s comedy comes from a real place. In the U.S. we don’t talk about men getting raped. And in the U.S., more men are raped then women (thanks to the ever wonderful prison system we have here).

But why don’t we talk about men being raped? Why do men sometimes feel it makes them less of a man that they have been raped? And why did it take until this year, for the FBI to change the definition of rape to include men?

I do not have all the answers, but I do know that we need to talk about it more. We need to teach both boys and girls in school about sexual assault and bad touching. We need to talk about it, because the more we talk about it the less shameful or embarrassing it will seem.

And we also need to let men who have been victims of rape that their is help, and unlike Dave Chappelle said, there is a hotline men can call. It’s RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Hotline which is open 24/7, and the number is 1.800.656.HOPE

Further Reading:

Scott De Buitléir: Male Rape: The Resilient Taboo

Problem with Pronouns

I do not own this image. Found at http://www.flickr.com/photos/factoryjoe/

In my HONS201 class recently, we watched the film Southern Comfort. This is a 2001 documentary about Robert, and female to male transsexual, and his life living with ovarian cancer.  This film is beautiful, and deeply moving, and I recommend it to anyone interested in the trans community, health care or just human interactions and families.

In class, after we watched this film, I noticed something very interesting. Many of us, I’d say damn near all of us, were having trouble finding the proper pronouns to use. And this isn’t a problem located just in our classroom, many people apparently have this same problem (here is a Jezebel article about this issue). It is a difficult situation, and one I don’t think we are close to fully understanding or fix in the U.S, but it did make me aware of the pronouns I use, and I will attempt, from now on, to think more carefully before I choose my words.

In addition, I did find this very useful chart about gender neutral pronouns, to help people learn which words to use.

Oh My Darling Clementine

Copyright Telltale Games. I do not own this image.

I have already talked about AMC’s Walking Dead on my blog. But there is more to The Walking Dead fandom than watching the show. For starters, there is the series of graphic novels that the show is based on. But there is also The Walking Dead game, an episodic RPG/Point and Click game by Telltale Games. This is a great game, with anxiety producing game play, interesting graphics, and of course, zombie bashing. But the real reason I love this game, and the reason many, many people love this game, is the character of Clementine. (see the twitter hashtag, #forclementine.)

Although you play the game as a man named Lee, you meet Clementine (a young 8 year old girl) during the first minutes of the game. And seeing as she has recently lost her parents, you take her under your wing and quickly become her guardian. Clementine is smart, she is funny, she is sweet and most surprisingly, unlike other child sidekicks (see Short Round), she is not annoying. But more importantly, she acts as the embodiment of “moral code” in the game. As Jessica Lugo points out in her post “In Appreciation of The Walking Dead: Clementine,”
Clem makes you want to do better in the game. She makes you want to be a good person. And she makes you want to take care of her. In other words, she makes you a parent, and for me, that meant mother.

I am quite young, and have no children of my own as of yet, and so although I do not know quite what it is to be a mother, I do have a brother quite younger than myself who I had a big hand in raising. And Clementine makes me feel about her the way I feel about my brother (although obviously for a shorter, quicker amount of time and in a more virtual way). Playing The Walking Dead brings out my “motherly” instinct, and even though I am playing as Lee, because it is an RPG game, Lee becomes feminized, because I am playing him through my lens. It is a weird sensation, but one I enjoy immensely. Who would have thought a game about the zombie apocalypse would make me feel like a mom?

Further Reading:

Patrica Hernandez The Walking Dead’s Brave Little Girl Taught me How to Trust

Spread Beneath my Willow Tree

Please note: this is a draft, and part of the essay I am writing for HONS 201

Buffy the Vampire Slayer was a unique T.V. program in terms of the way sex, gender and sexuality were discussed. But there was one important relationship on the show that separated the show from all other programs on at the time.  That of the relationship between Willow and her girlfriend Tara, one of the first long-term lesbian relationships shown on prime time.  And although there are some who read Willow’s sexuality as incomplete (McAvan 4), there is no denying the love, passion and trust felt between Willow and Tara, and their relationship is probably the most solid one on the show. In terms of sexuality, the depiction of the relationship between Willow and Tara is slightly complex, because they are both witches. This allows their magic use to often be shown in replace of showing them as explicitly sexual. While this does heighten their emotional relationship, showing the two frequently bonded by their magic use, it ends up diminishing the role of sex in their relationship. Even scenes between the two in bed are “normalized,” and un-erotic, as the two are usually seen discussing their daily plans or activities (Jowett, 50-51). Problems aside however, Willow and Tara’s relationship was hugely popular with fans (Tabron, 2), and is still remembered today as a positive lesbian relationship on television, at a time when this was new and unusual.

Works Cited:

Em McAvan. I Think I’m Kinda Gay”: Willow Rosenberg and the Absent/Present Bisexual in Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Judith L. Tabron. “Girl on Girl Politics: Willow/Tara and. New Approaches to Media Fandom.”

Buffy/Faith

Please Note: This post is a draft leading up to my final essay for HONS 201.

Slash fiction is a form of fan fiction written about to characters of the same sex, who, although hetero in the original text, have a homosexual relationship in this fan written literature. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, as a cult t.v. show, is host to numerous fan fictions and slash fictions. A very common pairing in slash fiction is Faith and Buffy. There is no denying that this relationship is supported by the subtext of the canon (see the above video).  But there is more to the Faith and Buffy slash fiction (called Fuffy for short) than just two, attractive young women having sex. Seeing as most of the Fuffy slash fiction (often called femeslash for two women in a relationship) is written and read by women (Isaksson 3), exploring this relationship is a way for them to expose the sides of Buffy and Faith sexually, that they saw as missing on the show. In Fuffy fan fiction, Buffy can be dominant sexually, she can break free of the patriarchal chains that control her in the canon, and instead explore BDSM guilt free with Faith. Similarly, Faith can be shown as caring, loving and soft, a side of her that is not shown on the show. By using subtext to create a viable relationship between Faith and Buffy, fans were able to make Faith and Buffy into well rounded, sexually free (without guilt or sin) characters, closer to being the feminist icons they are so often called. These fan fiction texts also break down the norms of both heteronormal and lesbian relationships by having Buffy and Faith engage in explicitly pornographic sex , while also experiencing a strong romantic bond (Isksson 4-5). This Faith and Buffy fan fiction shows that woman can be in a sexual relationship that is as pornographic as the ones typically applied to hetero relationships, and that the female fans of the show were looking for more from both Faith and Buffy, who as previously shown, were flawed by the rules of the canon.

Works Cited:

Malin Isaksson.”Buffy/Faith Adult Femslash: Queer Porn With a Plot.

A Novice Looks at Peacekeeping

You are a UN Humanitarian Aid worker who has recently been sent to Liberia to provide aid to women, men and children in surrounding IDP camps. Using the readings, notes from the guest lecture, and film, state what steps you think the UN must take to ensure the safety, health and well being of these communities. What information must be recorded and why? What services must be delivered, and how?

Photo credit to Marie Frechon. Found at http://www.fotopedia.com/items/flickr-3331239203

If I were a U.N worker, moving in to Libera to provide assistance at IDP camps for women, men and children, the first thing I would do would be to keep in mind that these people have already been through hell. They are living away from their homes, they have witnessed their friends and neighbors killed, they have lost family and the last thing they need are foreigners stepping on their toes. The most important thing, in my eyes, that I can do, is to give help when needed, and to back off when not.

I would also keep in mind that the people of Libera are made up of various religions. It is important to keep records of which people are which religion. For some, religion will play a very important part in their daily lives, it will impact what they can and cannot do, or what they can and cannot eat. It is important to be aware of these factors, and to make changes and accommodations whenever possible.

Similarly for Libera, I would keep in mind that I am there after the fact. I am not a savior, but a human being offering help to another. I would keep in mind the amazing work that the women of Libera did to stop the violence. I am not the answer or the solution, but a figurative worker bee, helping to fix and heal.

I would bring food. Water. Shelter. Comfort. Set up a trade in programs for weapons, goods in exchange for guns, to get people to willingly turn in their arms. I would patrol nightly, keeping an eye on women or children who are alone, and help them to try and locate family. I would remember I am not their to “give advice,” “educate,” or anything of the like. I am their to help people who have lost everything, and the biggest help I can give is to make their time in the camps as easy as possible. I would remember I am a peacekeeper, nothing more, nothing less.

Further Reading:

Video Blog: Women and War

A video made by myself, Mariam Chardiwall and Erica Krupa. Our video is about the impact of war on women, and why U.S. feminists should care about conflicts around the world.