Blake Lively, Gwyneth Paltrow and, yes, Beyoncé didn’t wake up like this. [The Cut]
I have a stalker.
I write that partly in jest, but I do have someone that has expressed an unwanted interest in me of late, despite no indications from me that I would be remotely interested in this person apart from being cordial when he asked me a work-related question, that could potentially turn into full blown stalking.
When I relayed this to a male friend, offhandedly saying that if I go raped in the near future he would be the most likely culprit, he initially expressed MRA-levels of outrage.
“It’s a bit unfair to automatically assume that this seemingly nice guy who probably just has a crush on you could be a rapist,” he offered.
This is not the first time I’ve received a similar response when bemoaning the unwanted male attention thrown my—and many other women’s—way.
“But what if a guy thinks you’re cute and just wants to come up and say hi and ask you out for a coffee?” one male friend asked.
There have been a few instances where that has happened, and when I’ve said thanks but no thanks, they’ve accepted that and let me go on my merry way. But we have to ask why men feel entitled to women’s bodies and time as they’re going about their business with no indication that they’re interested in being interrupted so some NiceGuy™ can air his feelings to you in the first place. Why is women’s privacy and right to be left alone less important than men’s? Patriarchal conditioning would be my best guess: boys and men are taught that they’re the gatekeepers of not only women’s bodies, but women’s happiness, too. Go out and get it/provide it, essentially.
Back to my friend who questioned my use of the stalker moniker. I agree that it is unfair to assume he’s going to rape me, but at some point, deep down, most women have to assume that all men are going to—or at the very least, can—rape them. Enter Schrodinger’s Rapist.
I’ve written about the fact that for the most part I personally don’t let fear prevent me from going out at night and, if it comes down to it, I won’t be afraid to tell my stalker where to go. But I also avoid certain areas where I know harassment is rife. Again, deep down, I know there’s always a chance I can be taken by surprise when my guard’s down because women can be harassed and raped and treated as second class citizens at any time or place.
And not only are women never truly physically safe, they’re not ideologically safe. Thankfully I’ve never been in the position to have to report a sexual assault to the police or take a sexual harassment claim further than nipping it in the bud in the first instance, but if I was, I’d surely be blamed for inciting it; abused all over again, as it were. I’m not trying to insinuate that my friend is a bad person for automatically jumping to my stalker’s defence, but even the fact that he didn’t believe my descriptions of his stalkerish ways illustrates that it takes a bit of convincing for a woman to have her claims believed.
As the husband of murdered Melbourne woman Jill Meagher, Tom Meagher, wrote for the White Ribbon blog, the myth of the rapist being a monster hiding in the bushes, as Meagher’s rapist and murderer Adrian Bayley was, blinds us to the fact that many rapes are carried out by people known to the victim. Partners, family members, friends, colleagues. So my deduction that my stalker could certainly become my rapist is not that far of a reach.
Related: The Harassed & the Harassed-Nots.
Elsewhere: [TheVine] Feeling Like a Stalker.
Taylor Swift and “Power Friending”. [Daily Life]
The rise of IDGAF feminism. [New Republic]
Further to yesterday’s post, “Is Robin Thicke the Male Equivalent of the Crazy Ex-Girlfriend?”:
“Pathetically wounded, his ‘clean’ (married, romantic) image tarnished by ‘dirty” rumors of infidelity, more than a little deluded and dangerous in his insistence that ‘no’ always means ‘maybe,’ that the lines between him and the women he wants are always ‘blurred’ no matter how clear and firm they seem to anyone else, he’s perfectly suited for the Celebrity Meltdown slot we usually reserve for women. We hate Thicke the way we hate girls: Based on vibe, on rumor, on what he feels and whether we want him to feel it. Thicke may go down in history as the first man ever to be stereotyped as a crazy ex-girlfriend.” [Global Comment]
Robin Thicke, along with Pharrell and T.I., came out with arguably 2013’s most controversial song, “Blurred Lines”, about this time last year.
Now the son of Growing Pains actor Alan Thicke is back with a whole new album about his estranged wife, Paula Patton, entitled simply, Paula.
Thicke was caught with his hand on a female fan’s bottom and allegedly followed this up by cheating on his high-school sweetheart Patton, with whom he’d been involved for 21 years and has a son. The unflappable Patton seemed to take the split in her stride, at least compared to Thicke, who’s taken to social media and radio waves in an attempt to win his former ladylove back.
The fact that his forthcoming album’s tracklist consists entirely of breakup-and-makeup songs is supposed to be romantic, but to the discerning eye, Thicke’s predation that was front and centre in “Blurred Lines” has come to the fore yet again.
Not only does his public begging read as more desperate than romantic, it publicly shames the other party who’s chosen to deal with the dissolution of their marriage in private.
But we all know Thicke’s favourite pastime is to “degrade a woman” and that’s exactly what he’s doing with this ill thought out album. For some perspective, the titular woman filed for divorce from Thicke in February this year, and the album’s first single, “Get Her Back” was released in May, giving Paula a lead-time of three months. And it has only been a year since Thicke’s previous album, Blurred Lines, featuring the rape anthem of the same name, came out.
The actual Marvin Gaye medleys that Thicke has become so well known—and taken to court—for and that make up Paula aren’t the worst in the world, but it’s when listeners pay mind to Thicke’s lyrics that the album really starts to run into trouble. The calypso rhythm of “You’re My Fantasy”, for example, can’t rescue it from this little ditty: “Your legs on my walls/Your body’s on my ceiling”; while Thicke makes reference to the cheating rumours on the Motown-y “Black Tar Cloud”, crooning “I thought everyone was gonna eat the chips/Turns out I’m the only one who double dipped”. (Thanks for that visual.) The mumbly “Forever Love” is luckily accompanied by a lyric video because Thicke’s enunciation is so poor it’s hard to sing along like the 14-year-old sung along in Patton’s ear to Stevie Wonder’s “Jungle Fever” upon their first meeting as teens in early ’90s Los Angeles.
“Get Her Back”, the earwormy lead single is arguably the album’s only redeeming one however its problematic video, featuring scrolling text messages that we’re to believe were sent between Thicke and Patton atop close-up shots of a fake-bloodied and allegedly crying Thicke being groped by masked women who look marginally like Patton before they plunge head-first into cavities of water, references intimate partner violence, like much of the album.
Thicke carried out a thick (so to speak) and fast social media campaign for Paula, including the hashtags #GetHerBack and #AskThicke, which ultimately backfired in a flurry of negative feminist press. Thicke even went so far as to engage in a cross-promotion with 1800-Flowers, for which the “Get Her Back” bouquet will set you back a cool $350—but it comes with a free digital download of Paula, so you’re actually saving money. But it would seem that many music consumers are holding on to their pennies this time around: just 530 fans in the UK and a dismal 54 in Australia forked out for Paula.
Thicke might not be a one-hit wonder (remember his 2002 debut, the equally as rapey as “Blurred Lines”, come to think of it, “When I Get You Alone”?), he proves that perhaps sex was the only thing that sold “Blurred Lines”.
The Hollywood that Thicke grew up in would have us believe that male persistence is the way to a girl’s heart: “the boy keeps trying to get the girl until she says yes,” writes Jessica Valenti for The Guardian. “You need to look no further than the outrageously popular Twilight series—books and movies—to know that the stalker-as-romantic lead looms large in our cultural imagination.” Real life headlines about intimate partner violence suggest that stalking is more deadly than romantic.
Further to that, Alyssa Rosenberg writes over at The Washington Post that “the simple fact of male persistence ought to be enough to bring a woman around to loving him”, while Clem Bastow asserted on Daily Life that Thicke’s quest to “Get Her Back” is “about the feelings of the man in question, not the woman he is searching for or seeking to reconcile with”.
But that’s Thicke’s pattern (pardon the pun); he’s crafting a pop cultural narrative where he’s the ultimate NiceGuy™ and if Patton continues to reject him she’s a cold-hearted bitch. And if Thicke was hoping for a deluge of sales to help him convince Patton to take him back, he’s sorely underestimated the public’s keen nose for desperation.
From The Fictional Woman by Tara Moss:
“Let’s talk about [selfies].
“These self-photographed images, existing as they do in an image-saturated culture, reflect some real aspect of people’s experiences. They are neither inherently empowering nor inherently disempowering. How can we pretend that beautiful young women in advertisements are just good old capitalism, that the publication of revealing paparazzi shots should be blamed on their beautiful, unsuspecting subjects, but selfies are morally dangerous because they sometimes reveal that young women (shock, horror) may try to look pretty or even hope to appear attractive? They are so self-absorbed! Narcissistic! So, we talk about what a big problem it is that women are taking photographs of themselves, without a middle man, and choosing to present those photographs publicly, for their own purposes, rather than the fact that images of women are used to sell everything from beer to automobiles to magazines.”
Can men please stop singing songs about women who don’t find themselves beautiful? (I explored the same topic here.) [Buzzfeed]
“What remains the same is that sex is made out to be a game, one in which men are competitors and women are prizes. Men are tasked with pleading, urging and coercing women into sex, or sexual behavior…
“Young women’s sexuality is so policed and constrained that they are often looking for excuses to be sexual — sometimes it’s drinking too much, sometimes it’s a silly contest. Anything for plausible slut-deniability.” [Salon]
Like Anna Gunn before her, Leighton Meester takes issue with the misogyny hurled at her character on the latest Broadway iteration of Of Mice & Men:
“The insults are thrown at Curley’s wife: bitch, tramp, tart. The further along in the production we go, the more I realise that the audience agrees. In rooting for our heroes—the everyman protagonists who scorn and demean the only woman—the audience finds themselves unquestioningly hating her, too. But why? … [I]n dissecting this piece for five months now, I’ve found that within the writing, there is both a lack of reason to truly hate this woman, and the inevitable and undeniable urge to do so…
“If this woman is purely a victim, why is she so hated? And if she is truly harmless, why is she so threatening? Without question, it was a commentary on the social climate at the time, which still surprisingly applies today. But if sexism is one of the featured themes, why not say it?” [HuffPo]
Naked women as props (NSFW). [Sociological Images]
The latest artists’ take on Disney princesses and social awareness features Cinderella, Ariel et al. as victims of domestic violence. [Daily Life]
Occupy protestor Cecily McMillan reports on the conditions inside Rikers Island Correctional Facility. And let me tell you, this ain’t no Orange is the New Black shit. [Jezebel]
There’s a difference between a feminist character and a character who’s a feminist. [Persephone Magazine]
Speaking of, Shonda Rhimes’ Grey’s Anatomy is more feminist than Scandal:
“… The attention and praise Rhimes has received for casting [Kerry] Washington as [Olivia] Pope has overshadowed the fact that what Rhimes got right with her female characters in Grey’s, she got wrong in Scandal…
“When it comes to their personal lives, the women in Scandal are insecure, vulnerable and reactive, while the ones in Grey’s are stronger, self-assured and reflective.” [In These Times]
The 74th Down Under Feminist Blog Carnival is up, and one of my pieces about Orange is the New Black is featured. Head on over to check it, and much more feminist writing from the Aussie interwebs, out. [Pondering Postfeminism]
In the wake of True Blood‘s final season, Katherine Murray discusses its troubling sexual politics. [Bitch Flicks]