Nancy Upton: The Next BIG Pain in American Apparel’s Sexist Ass

Have you been living under a rock, or something?  No?  Well, then you’ve surely heard about American Apparel vs. Nancy Upton.  On the off-chance that you haven’t, here’s a brief rundown of what happened:

American Apparel, in “celebration” (?) of its inclusion of XL sizes for omg gross fat people launched a contest for fat ladies to have the chance to get a trip to L.A. and be the face of AA’s newest, grossest line of clothing that maybe might save their company (the ship tries to stay afloat on the backs of whales, AMIRITE???).  While the contest is concluded, the language is forever preserved on Jezebel, which includes such awesome and totally non-patronizing or demeaning language, like:

Calling curvy ladies everywhere! Our best-selling Disco Pant (and around 10 other sexy styles) are now available in size XL, for those of us who need a little extra wiggle room where it counts. We’re looking for fresh faces (and curvaceous bods) to fill these babies out. If you think you’ve got what it takes to be the next XLent model, send us photos of you and your junk to back it up.

OH MY GOD!  Cutesy puns to disguise the fact that they’re looking for fatty-fats???  Referring to bodies like mine as “junk”????  How could you NOT fall in love with this contest omg wtf!!???!!!1@!!*

In response to the contest, Nancy Upton, a student and awesome lady, decided she was going to make a big fat mockery of this big fat contest, and took a bunch of pictures of herself stuffing her face and bathing in ranch dressing.  She was very vocal about the fact that she was parodying the contest.

And then, guess what happened?  SHE WON!  She won, and then American Apparel sent her a super condescending email that basically said, “Know what, bitch?  YOU DON’T WIN!!”  Which actually seems like a perfect ending to all of this – Nancy had stated that if she was offered the job, she would turn it down anyway.

And that’s what happened.  The fat and feminist blogosphere got solidly behind Nancy and is appropriately outraged where applicable.  But in my opinion, there still remains a lot to unpack about this whole thing.

Autumn of The Beheld points to a very important issue regarding Upton’s photos – namely, that Upton’s satire really, really looks like the real thing.  The only thing distinguishing Upton’s photo set from any number of other plus size fashion shoots in which models are posed with food is that she explicitly tells us that what she’s doing is a farce.

Crystal Renn poses with meat and spaghetti in a shoot for French Vogue

via The Beheld

Says Autumn:

These provocative photos beg questions larger than I’m qualified to tackle: How much does the creator’s intent matter in art? If you have to know the background in order to spot the subversion, can it be effective? If the goal is to raise awareness of an issue and the only people who get the joke are already informed, have you succeeded in your goal?

While that’s a pretty big question fit for anyone who gets a boner for critical analysis (like me!), I think the results of the contest are pretty conclusive.  Oh, if only we could poll everyone who voted for Upton and ask them whether they thought it was a joke or not!  If everyone did, in fact, get that the photos were meant as a commentary (or even if they had just heard about it), it seems like a vote for Nancy Upton was really a referendum on the contest, and on American Apparel itself.

The language in the contest was objectionable, of course.  As April Flores, the one who was informed that fat women are “not [American Apparel’s] demographic,” points out, even the title of the contest – “The Next BIG Thing” – objectifies women by calling the “things.”  The cattle-call nature of the contest, allowing visitors to rate women – all of it is dehumanizing and offensive, and those who voted for Nancy Upton were also agreeing with what she said about the contest – that American Apparel “was co-opting the mantra of plus-size empowerment and glazing it with its unmistakable brand of female objectification.”

Additionally, Upton (among many, many others) has been pretty vocal about American Apparel’s horrible corporate culture, including its discriminatory hiring practices and the litany of sexual harassment allegations leveled against CEO Dov Charney.  I’d guess, then, that a vote for Upton was also a vote against the company’s sexist culture.

And that is what American Apparel failed to recognize when it distributed the same condescending email sent to Upton to several news outlets.  Iris Alonzo, the author of the email, clearly had no problem wagging the proverbial finger:

It’s a shame that your project attempts to discredit the positive intentions of our challenge based on your personal distaste for our use of light-hearted language, and that “bootylicous” was too much for you to handle. While we may be a bit TOO inspired by Beyoncé, and do have a tendency to occasionally go pun-crazy, we try not to take ourselves too seriously around here. I wonder if you had taken just a moment to imagine that this campaign could actually be well intentioned, and that my team and I are not out to offend and insult women, would you have still behaved in the same way, mocking the confident and excited participants who put themselves out there?

But clearly, Iris and American Apparel weren’t able to grasp that Nancy wasn’t making fun of the other entrants, or taking the fun out of a totally superfun contest – she was directly calling out the company for its bogus practices (like that Charney apparently attends meetings in nothing but a cock sock), and the reason she won was that nobody likes American Apparel.

So like, rather than whining about how mean and uppity Nancy Upton is, I think American Apparel had better take a hard look at its corporate practices – and its CEO – and make some tough decisions – decisions like ousting Dov Charney and his erm… “unique” brand of sexism.  I mean, really – I don’t think the schilling of t-shirts requires the know-how of a sexist hipster douchebag.  I’m pretty sure the t-shirts sell themselves… maybe with the help of scared girls in tube socks.

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Introducing the Orange the Brave Lexicon

The finishing touches have been applied to the Lexicon, so I feel ready to reveal it to y’all.

I hope it helps everyone following along. I welcome all feedback and critique. While doing the lexicon I realized how little social justice presence there is on Wikipedia. I mean, look at this definition of butch and femme:

Butch and femme are LGBT terms describing respectively, masculine and feminine traits, behavior, style, expression, self-perception and so on. They are often used in the lesbian, bisexual and gay subcultures. A similar term, en femme, is also frequently used in the crossdressing community.

Butch and femme are sometimes used to describe the identities of each person in a lesbian relationship in terms that are analogous to a heterosexual relationship, with butch representing the traditionally male role and femme the traditional female role. Not all lesbian couples can be described accurately in these terms.

So please go to Wikipedia and help with righting these travesties. If you don’t know how to use Wikipedia I’ll be happy to help. I’ll either handhold you through the process of how to create your own account and make changes, or I’ll be happy to edit and add things based on your instruction. Just use the contact form and get in touch with me. This is open to everyone. If you know someone wants to contribute to Wikipedia and doesn’t know how (being too lazy or busy is valid too), send them my way.

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If You Need Accessibility, Just Ask

It was either s.e. smith on Twitter or Andrea on G+ that shared this link. I apologize I can’t remember which one.

The writer of the post was told on GoodReads that if they needed certain websites to be accessible due to a disability, then they should ask for it. Please read the entire post on DreamWidth.

I was recently treated to another round of “disabled people need to just ask for accommodations, then they’d be given them,” with the usual accompaniments of “you shouldn’t be so angry” and “you should be nicer.” (It was on Goodreads. Don’t ask. Really.)

So I figured, okay. I know this is bullshit from a lifetime of experience, but let’s gather some data.

What I did
I gave myself 7 days. Every time during that 7 days I ran into a particular kind of inaccessibility, I wrote to the owner/relevant authority and asked them to fix it. I aimed for short, factual, informative request letters.

The data on this was surprising. Though I guess it is only surprising to someone like me, who has privilege in this area.

The results
I grouped responses into categories:

1. Competent and positive: Something like, “we didn’t know, we’ll get on that.” I intended to also include things like, “I’m not qualified to handle this, let me pass you up the chain,” where the intention clearly is to get the problem solved, not make me go away. I also intended to count responses along the lines of, “we have to talk to our tech people about this, but we want to fix it and here’s a rough idea of how long it might take.” This ended up not being necessary.

Number of responses in this category: 0

2. The runaround: People who don’t know what I’m talking about and don’t care enough to find out, so you end up in an endless loop getting passed up and down the chain of command until someone finally just stops answering, or, for the bigger corporations, you get one of those, “your ticket has been closed, we hope you are satisfied,” emails.

Number of responses: 6 (23%)

3. Hostility: Some version of “we know it’s inaccessible, but we are not fixing it,” or “we didn’t know, and we’re not fixing it.” I include in this category any version of, “it would be too hard,” (universally incorrect) “not enough people need that,” or “our customers haven’t asked for that” (what am I, exactly?) There are legit technical reasons why certain access issues would be very difficult to fix, but I happen to know a fair amount about this, and most of what I’m talking about here are discrete, one-fix issues.

Number of responses: 7 (27%)

4. Silence: Complete nonresponsiveness, other than a form “we’ve received your letter” email in some cases, and often with the “we respond to every request within x days” language. (The length of time between my note and this post ranges from 11 to 18 days. I’ll update if any more trickle in).

Number of responses: 13 (50%)

That’s right. Not one positive response to the request and 50% of the people contacted didn’t respond. That is an awful high number and depressing to say the least. Some of the companies contacted included Nike.com, Google, Gmail, and even smaller businesses, such as their broker and health insurance company.

This is just not good enough, y’all. There has to be more work on the part of the privileged to include people in our whole community. When I first read this I thought maybe there was an organization that solicited websites to let volunteers go in and make the site more accessible. Then I realized people would probably freak out about having to let a stranger into their server and all that. I’m going to try and do some research into ways I could be helping out more, aside from just trying to make this blog as accessible as possible.

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Cosmoqueer: The Femme Issue

Shannon Barber (aka Weebeasty on Twitter) is to thank for bringing an awesome new zine into my life. It is called Cosmoqueer. The first issue is entitled The Femme Issue and it rocks. With essays written by Stacey, s.e. smith, art pieces by Lea, Charlie (Yes, the same one who guest posted here!), and Ayumi Moor, a Femme playlist, and other amazing things it is a must-read.

Cosmoqueer is available from zinelibrary.info in pdf form (AFAI can tell it is accessible).

As luck would have it, the second issue is set to come out in November. Submissions are welcomed and encouraged.

The next cosmoqueer zine is gonna be about Disney. I would love for y’all to submit some stuff. Fanart would be great, as would anything about Disney really. A story about you and Disney, a critical perspective of a certain movie, anything.
Deadline’s the end of October, latest.
You can message me about it here, here or at cosmoqueer@gmail.com.

I can’t wait to see what comes next!

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What is a Body Supposed to Look Like?

I just had an OMG moment when I was going through Google Reader.  I have OMG moments fairly often when I’m reading Sociological Images, but this article in particular really spoke to me, and this excerpt was especially enlightening:

Think about how rarely you actually see a new (near-)naked body that is not a model or the equivalent (actress etc).  With new sexual partners, perhaps.  And if you’re straight, this is (probably mostly) going to be the body of the other sex.  At the gym perhaps?  But you’re not supposed to look, so you probably don’t look closely.  I realized when I saw this video (it probably lasted all of two minutes), that I had never really seen women’s bodies outside of the mass media. I didn’t know what women’s bodies looked like.  And I had been comparing my body to that of actresses and models.  I realized that day that things about my body that I thought were horrible deformities were completely normal.  Even though the bodies in that video were all different, they were also very similar, and my body looked just like theirs in some cumulative way.  From that point on, I knew I wasn’t gross.  A simple lesson.  And so important, but a really hard one to encounter in a powerful way.

I guess I don’t want to get too personal, but as a woman who has sex with other women… well, you’d think I’d be smart enough to connect the dots and draw some conclusion about the fact that I have never been with a woman who had a body that you would see on the pages of a magazine.  Maybe – duh – that means that most women don’t look like that (not that I’ve slept with “most women,” but you know what I mean).  You know, it wasn’t even something I had considered – it had never even occurred to me to compare my partners’ bodies to the bodies we see in mainstream media, so why did I automatically assume that that was the standard to which my own body should be judged?  And furthermore, all of those diverse bodies that I’ve caressed, held, tasted, and teased – I’ve thought them all beautiful.

I don’t think it’s until someone gives you a set of diverse bodies to look at and points out to you that you’ve been judging yourself based on a body type that is atypical that it really hits home – even if you’re not heterosexual and have seen a lot of women in various states of undress.

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Being the Manic Pixie Dream Girl

I made an off-handed remark on my Tumblr one day about being the Manic Pixie Dream Girl. The Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope, abbreviated as MPDG from here on out, is a popular TV trope where the societally classified woman opens the heart of the societally classified man and teaches him how to love and live life to the fullest with no concern about her own happiness. Ever since I made that remark, though, I feel more and more like it is true.

I confess, I like Elizabethtown, Garden State and Sweet November. Hell, on the AV club’s list of 16 MPDG movies I like every one I’ve seen (except for maybe Autumn in New York; Geer and Ryder are not a match). These are women I always inspired to be. At 28, I feel like I am becoming them in a lot of ways and that makes me happy.

The trope is rather simple –which is likely the point –, though I’m not just about opening the hearts of societally classified men. I am this way because I like it, and also it has always been a way for me to survive and find worth in myself. My life has not been filled with happiness and light. My personality is not one that is favored in the mainstream. My abusers made it clear to me from infancy that I was worthless if I could not give to others. Being from a poor family that lived in a small town of 3,000, without transportation, and having dropped out of school with no prospects for college, created a life that was empty of most everything. I don’t/can’t work due to mental and physical health issues. I’ve experienced severe depression since before I can remember. My life has never been about making myself happy, reaching my own goals, aspiring to anything, because, frankly, there was no way in hell I could do anything. I’m sure there are folks who will read that and tell me what a liar I am. I’ll be regaled with stories about how they struggled through, made their own luck, turned their life around and I could too. While I’m overjoyed for them, I know my own life history and I’m secure in knowing I was fucked six ways to Sunday and not in a manner which is in any way rewarding, fun, or interesting.

I don’t claim my MPDG status to make a statement that this trope isn’t harmful, or that it doesn’t contribute to a system which portrays societally classified women only in their relationship to societally classified men. I speak out on this only to let folks know that I’m not perfect. Even as an activist I am not free from the systemic messages I receive from my culture. I am a product of what is around me, no doubt. That said, I am more than that too. So if you are a MPDG, or Single Woman Seeks Good Man, or Femme Fatale, or any other trope in entertainment and in a defining moment of realization this freaks you the fuck out (as it did me), please take a few breathes and know you are not alone.

Okay, so I’m having a bit of fun with using tropes. That fact remains is that as someone who tries to unpack all the bullshit the dominate social paradigm hands me, I often get squicked out when I realize just how much I’ve been incorporating the messages. I get depressed. I mope around. I question my existence. I become embarrassed and want to hide away from all my amazing, smart friends because surely they will see how much I am a part of the hegemony and will laugh at me behind my back (they won’t; that’s why they’re amazing). I spend hours dwelling on it. Every time Jezebel decries the trope, or NPR discusses it, or someone uses the definition from Nathan Rabin — “that bubbly, shallow cinematic creature that exists solely in the fevered imaginations of sensitive writer-directors to teach broodingly soulful young men to embrace life and its infinite mysteries and adventures.” — I cringe because it’s me they’re talking about. Really, though, it isn’t me. MPDG is part of me, but that is not all I am. It’s about the portrayal of societally classified women. It’s about the way kyriarchy portrays societally classified women. It isn’t me, I’m not a trope. I’m not bad or wrong or pandering to the mainstream if I embrace these aspects of myself.

Because if I really look, I can see being a MPDG for other people helps me to be a MPDG for myself. It helped me to navigate society and struggle and strive and pull myself up out of that nightmare of a life I had before I flew off to Portland, OR to marry my heteroromantic life partner. I’m sure some people would look at my life on paper and giggle, or accuse me of being a traitor and a liar. Maybe, even, someone I casually meet on OKCupid will publicly mock me for daring to exhibit such anti-feminist traits and then I’ll be held up as an example and people will be encourage to dismiss me and my whole being for the simple fact I identify as a MPDG. Afterall, it’s more than a hobby right? It’s a fundamental part of my personality and if they are turned off by that, then I either need to change that aspect or accept that I will be Tnternet-pwned.

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Are You a Proud Cryer?

On xoJane, Lesley Kinzel writes about the loss of her cat and crying in public. While we won’t inquire about her well-being (lest we assist in sending her into another spell), I thought it was an excellent opportunity to come forward as a crybaby.

As Lesley mentioned in her article, crying is such a loaded activity in our society. Even though I follow a lot of badass individuals through various social justice networks, which inevitably leads to a lot of overwhelming emotions, crying is rarely spoken about.

I am not immune either; when I see someone crying, even someone I know well, I invariably have a moment in which I freeze with astonishment and fear: There is crying happening! What do I do?

Says Lesley in her article. Says me in mine. As much as I like to classify myself as badass, to strut around talking about how I would wield my anger and take no shit from no one, I have to say that I cry. A lot. My emotions overwhelm me and it is expressed through tears. I cry in sadness, anger, frustration, irritation, fear, embarrassment, etc., etc., etc. It was the source of continual “teasing” from family and friends. It was something that everyone couldn’t stop talking to me about and yet avoided like it was going out of style. For a long time, this was baffling to me. I could never talk about why I cried or work through my reaction, yet I couldn’t ever just cry without people needing to tell me I was doing so. As if I wasn’t aware.

So, yes, I am a cryer. I welcome that about myself now. Not because I think it makes me more in touch with my emotions than someone who doesn’t cry. No, that’s bullshit. I just recognize that’s how I need to respond to things and that doesn’t make me broken. It’s one of the thousands of things that society tells us is wrong. Since society is wrong about so many things it isn’t surprising to me that they’re wrong about this too.

I support talking more about crying; I think bringing that behavior out of the darkness is important. If I could just get people to treat me the same way they always do, despite the crying, then I feel like I could get a lot further. It’s like folks respond to my tears in a weird way and then blame me for manipulating them. It’s so frustrating. It is like telling me I’m blinking in a way that causes them to feel awkward or cave-in to my demands.

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I made a female dwarf and insisted that she have a beard, which I am then sure to RP. The DM tries to use revolving gender pronouns when talking/interacting with my character. I play with my 2 teenage (19 and 14) cisgender brother-in-laws.

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The Rape of Sookie Stackhouse (Redux)

Trigger warning for descriptions of fictional rape.  Spoiler warning… for spoilers.

Portrait of Anna Paquin, text over image reads, "What will become of me?"

via perezhilton.com

A few days ago, Eld and I had a Tumblr exchange about bad books we feel compelled to finish, even though they’re bad, which was precipitated by my stating that I found the most recent installment in the Sookie Stackhouse series of novels by Charlaine Harris to be unforgivably awful.  The book, Dead Reckoning, had no discernible plot, completely dropped the ball on what should have been a HUGE DEAL, and it just felt like it was unenthusiastic about slogging through yet another formula Southern Vampire book (it would be unfair to call it a mystery – there was little to no sleuthing).  This is how the books work: Sookie cleans her house, Sookie finds out there are even more supernatural creatures that we didn’t know about (seriously, as the books progress, it gets kind of ridiculous – vampires, shapeshifters, werewolves, werepanthers, fairies, demons, maenads, men who are not rapists – just kidding!  all men are rapists in the Sookie Stackhouse novels!), Sookie has violent sex after which she is obligated to ice her pussy, horribly gruesome violence porn in which at least ten minor characters are slaughtered and/or dismembered, the end.

And I can say “the end” because I finished reading it.  I finished reading it, even though it was horrible.  I finished reading all of them, even though they were horrible (though not so horrible as the latest one).  Part of the reason is that I have this sick compulsion to finish reading terrible books, and I am in fact more likely to finish a terrible book than I am to finish one that I’m legitimately enjoying (I mean, I finish the vast majority of books I read, but I can think of a few occasions where I put a good book down and just never picked it up again, and zero occasions in which I’ve put a bad book down).  And another reason that I’m hooked on these books is that I just cannot believe some of the horseshit that goes down in them.

A while ago, I had this other blog that kind of stalled out and was eventually deleted, but one of my projects there was to recap and analyze each of the Sookie Stackhouse books.  So I’m going to try to condense all of that down into one blog post about how rape-y these books are.  Because they’re super rape-y.

Unlike some feminist critics out there, I don’t have a problem with portrayals of rape.  I don’t necessarily believe that if an author writes about rape, ze is necessarily condoning it.  Vladimir Nabokov wrote about a pedophile – in the first person, no less! – and I really, really don’t think anyone would dare argue that Lolita gives child molestation the thumbs-up.  But the Sookie Stackhouse novels are not like that – not at all.  While I wouldn’t argue that they condone rape, they certainly engage in some pretty heinous rape apologism – and that’s what we’re going to delve into.

The first thing you need to know about the Sookie Stackhouse books is that the vampires are scary, and they have fangs (unlike some other vampire fiction we know).  They are ruthless, untrustworthy, passionate, and they fuck.  In fact, it’s observed many times throughout the course of the novels that blood and sex are deeply intertwined, and that for vampires, one rarely comes without the other.

The second thing you need to know… is a brief plot synopsis.  In the world of the Southern Vampire Mysteries, vampires have “come out of the coffin” after the invention of synthetic blood – which obviously means that they don’t need to prey on humans to sustain “life” (they don’t need to, which doesn’t mean that they don’t).  The first novel, Dead Until Dark, is set in the fictional Bon Temps, Louisiana, two years after vampires have made their existence known to the world.  This is where we meet Sookie Stackhouse, a waitress and telepath, who gets all gooey in the groin over the first vampire she meets.  His name is Bill Compton, and he just happens to live in the house across the cemetery.  AND THIS IS WHERE ALL OF THE TROUBLE BEGINS.

Right out of the gate it’s established that in these books, rape and sexual assault are the weapons of choice.  Whether she’s forced to watch sex acts against her will (on page 57, we’re introduced to a group of vampires considerably more frightening than Bill, and the way that threat is established is through a lot of heavy petting and one of them receiving fellatio while Sookie, too frightened to run away, watches), or the local detective is trying to bait her telepathy by imagining her fucking her brother (Dead Until Dark, 104), it seems that the best way to scare Sookie is to put her into extremely uncomfortable sexual situations.

And because it wouldn’t be good, trashy genre fiction without it, “forced seduction” and the threat thereof plays a large role in the steamy scenes as well.  Take, for example, this scene which occurs on page 101 in Dead Until Dark:

Oh boy, could he kiss.  We might have problems communicating on some levels, but this wasn’t one of them.  We had a great time for maybe five minutes.  I felt all the right things moving through my body in waves.  Despite the awkwardness of being in the front seat of a car, I managed to be comfortable, mostly because he was so strong and considerate.  I nipped his skin with my teeth.  He made a sound like a growl.

“Sookie!”  His voice was ragged.

I moved away from him, maybe half an inch.

“If you do that anymore, I’ll have you whether you want to be had or not,” he said, and I could tell he meant it.

“You don’t want to,” I said finally, trying not to make it a question.

Okay, here is where we have to draw some lines between real life, and the conventions of fiction.  In real life, if someone told me that they’d “have” me, whether I wanted it or not, I really, really doubt I’d find it sexy (unless it was something my partner and I had previously negotiated, of course) – in fact, I’d probably be scared shitless.  In this book, and in other literature – especially romances – we don’t read this situation as a rape threat because it’s been previously established that Sookie is game, and we know she is game because she is narrating, and we know what she is thinking.  We also know that Bill and Sookie would have been humping a long time ago were it not for some strategically placed barriers, like social taboos and miscommunications (because it’s not romantic if two people meet, decide they want to fuck, and then fuck – no, no, there has to be an obstacle).  There’s been a considerable amount of research and speculation as to why we’re okay with rape in genre fiction (here is one that I like in particular, and here’s another).

But see, that isn’t the big problem.  The big problem occurs in book three, when I guess someone decided that all of those rape threats were no good unless they were actually carried out.  At the end of book three, which is called Club Dead (I know), Sookie ends up rescuing a half-starved Bill from where he’s being held captive by the vampire king of Mississippi (I KNOW), and then some bitch locks her in a trunk with him, where he rapes her.

I mean, he really rapes her.  I KNOW!!!

Thankfully, Sookie terminates the relationship after that point (though they were honestly on the rocks before that), but remains reluctant to really place any blame on Bill for what happened.  It’s argued first that Bill, starving as he was, couldn’t help it or wasn’t aware that he was even doing it.  It’s then argued that the blame lies with the woman who pushed Sookie into the trunk, and this isn’t just Sookie trying to rationalize what happened – other characters also say it’s the woman’s fault (her name is Debbie Pelt, FWIW).  It isn’t even until book five or six that Sookie even calls what happened in the trunk a “rape.”  Bill is never held accountable for his actions (except that he loses Sookie as his girlfriend), and Sookie even becomes friendly with him again after a little time has passed.

Where Harris really fails is that she puts forth a situation – Sookie’s rape – and then refuses to really deal with it.  I’d never argue that an author can’t allow hir main character to be sexually assaulted – but if you’re going to have that happen, you must treat it with the gravity it deserves.  For example, don’t have another one of your characters say this to the woman who was raped a few hours after it happened:

“Had it occurred to you,” he said, after we’d rolled out of the city’s center, “that you tend to walk away when things between you and Bill become rocky?  Not that I mind, necessarily, since I would be glad for you two to sever your association.  But if this is a pattern you follow in your romantic attachments, I want to know now.” (Club Dead, 215)

Hey Sookie – this dude just raped you, and I feel like I should probably shame you a little bit for not sticking around to work it out with him, and I also want to know if it’s your wont to run away from your rapist, in case you and I get into a relationship with one another and I rape you.  I mean, running away from your rapist – is that a pattern?

And this is typical of the way this rape is treated moving forward in the series – and it’s something I was never able to forgive Harris for.  It’s one of the reasons, I imagine, that True Blood changed this scene up so that Bill simply drank from Sookie – almost to the point of killing her – and did not rape her.  Because when you allow one of your characters to get raped, you have to deal with it – you can’t treat it like he farted in bed or forgot to bring milk home, or even like he cheated.

It’s a real shame.  While these books are certainly not masterpieces, they are fairly progressive in their cavalier attitude toward homosexuality, bisexuality, and gender expression.  It’s just too bad that all of that got ruined when Harris refused to acknowledge that she allowed one of her characters to get raped.  I guess I’ve never forgiven her for it.

And yet… I’ll be reading the next one when it comes out – you can be sure of it.  And I’ll hate it all the way through.

_________________

PRINT SOURCES

Harris, Charlaine.  Dead Until Dark.  New York: Penguin, 2001.

Harris, Charlaine.  Club Dead.  New York: Penguin, 2003.

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Accessibility and Service Dogs

I had the pleasure of finding Andrea from The Manor of Mixed Blessings and she gave me a much needed kick in the ass. You see folks, I’ve been posting videos without captions and/or transcripts. I did search for these things before posting, and I tried to note whether or not a video had them; however, that just isn’t good enough. As Andrea said:

Unfortunately a lack of accessibility is pretty well endemic in progressive circles in general. It’s especially bad with what seems like a sudden proliferation of videos (thanks, youtube) some of them from really smart people — but ALL THE DAMN TIME you see people post the video and think they’ve done enough by saying “Gosh, I know there’s no transcript/description but this is REALLY IMPORTANT and maybe someone will do a transcript for us!” without thinking about how that sounds to people who can’t access the video.

Because what it sounds like is “This is really important but I don’t give a fuck about including you in the conversation about it because you don’t work just like I do. Putting any effort into including you in the conversation is totally beneath me because I care so little about you. If you’re REALLY LUCKY maybe someone who actually does give a damn about you will step up. Otherwise, piss off.”

So yes. I’ve been a jerk and I apologize. I went back and added transcripts for Jay Smooth’s video on the policy page, and there is a transcript for AthiaC’s video as well. I found a great community on DreamWidth that let’s people request transcripts (or just volunteer to do transcripts!) where I’ve requested the first episode of Virgie Tovar’s series to be transcribed. I’m going to be working on a transcription of Nicki Minja’s video too. In the future, I won’t be posting videos without a transcript.

Now, to finish this post off with a word of wisdom, Andrea shares with folks when it is a good time to pet service animals:

So what should you do when you see wonderful shoes a service dog and its handler? The answer is easy: ignore the dog. No matter how much you want to talk about the dog, touch the dog, ask the dog’s handler questions about the dog, tell the dog’s handler about your own dog — don’t. Treat the handler exactly like you are busy treating all the people in the world who do not have dogs with them. If you have a customer service job, or you actually need (not just want) to approach the dog handler, speak to the person, not the dog. Ignore the dog, no matter how hard it is for you. A service dog is not “just” a dog, to its handler it’s a trusted partner and a vital part of what its handler needs to get through the world. Remember too that service dog handlers deserve privacy about their medical issues just as much as everyone else, and asking “Why do you have the dog?” or “what does the dog do for you?” is exactly like asking “So, will you tell me about all your medical problems?” (i.e. none of your business).

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