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Posts Tagged ‘sexual assault’

I recently saw the movie “Precious,” and I am currently reading (almost finished!) “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” by Steig Larsson. You might be asking, how can there possibly be a connection between the two? “Precious” is about a pregant Harlem teenager who experiences severe abuse and who eventually finds a place for herself in a supportive educational environment. “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” is a Swedish murder mystery involving rape and domestic abuse (I can’t really say more, or I’ll ruin the mystery). The similarity between the two is that both of the works were created by men. (Although the book Push, on which Precious was based, is written by a woman, the director of the film is a man). Both works are also trying to provide some sort of critique/insight into the violence and sexual assault that many women have to deal with on a regular basis.  Although I appreciate the work that both of these works are doing to educate people about domestic violence and sexual assault, I wonder about the ways in which male critiques of this nature differ from female critiques.

In both “Precious” and “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” the scenes of violence and sexual abuse hit the viewer/reader hard over the head. The descriptions and images are shocking, raw, and exceptionally brutal. Of course, this type of violence is shocking, raw, and exceptionally brutal. But, I wonder if sometimes directors and authors purposely play up the violence and play-down the emotional effects of the abuse in order to get more viewers or readers. I wonder if this focus on the physical, visceral violence is more of a male trait, whereas sometimes I feel that in works created by female authors more time is given to the victim’s emotions and psychological responses. Unfortunately, in both “Precious” and “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” I feel like I ended up paying more attention to the abuser rather than the abusee. This troubles me, because I don’t think it does much to actually empower the exact women the creators are trying to call attention to. Instead, in some ways I feel like both Precious and the female characters in “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” seem even more like victims, and less like the strong, brave women they really are.

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Okay, so 2009 is not over yet, but I’m pretty sure that there is no movie set to come out in the next 3 months that will disgust me more than “I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell.” I saw a preview for this movie recently, and I had no idea what to think. Was it a comedy, a horror film, a stupid response to “The Hangover”? I didn’t spend much time thinking about it, assuming that it would be released and disappear unnoticed, until I read this article.

Tucker Max thinks that “all women are whores” and that “fat girls aren’t real people” — and those are some of his family-friendlier observations. So why do so many women love him?

If you’re not 19 and don’t regularly scan the best-seller list, you may need an introduction to the Max oeuvre. Max, a hedonistic folk hero to his fans, got his start in 2002 when, egged on by a friend, he started a blog detailing what he calls his “life as a self-involved, drunken womanizer.” The site now gets more than a million unique visitors every month. It has spawned a book, “I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell” — more than 100 weeks on the New York Times best-seller list — and his exploits have been adapted for the big screen in a movie opening this week.

Max and his growing audience share an unabashed focus on three basic adolescent obsessions: bodily functions, drinking toxic amounts of booze and “scoring.” The women in his stories are insulted, tricked, coerced, traded and discarded. One conquest is vomited on and videotaped without her consent.

 

The homepage on Tucker Max’s own website reads:

My name is Tucker Max, and I am an asshole.

I get excessively drunk at inappropriate times, disregard social norms, indulge every whim, ignore the consequences of my actions, mock idiots and posers, sleep with more women than is safe or reasonable, and just generally act like a raging dickhead.

But, I do contribute to humanity in one very important way. I share my adventures with the world.

Apparently, and to my utter disbelief, women LOVE Tucker Max. Is there any woman out there who can coherently explain this love to me? Jaclyn Friedman, at The Washington Post, that we shouldn’t be too surprised because “[w]e’ve already, after all, replaced the fiercely independent vampire slayer Buffy with the helpless vampire lover Bella. The cult of Tucker Max is just a photo negative of the “Twilight” phenomenon: Both cultures view women as irresistible objects that tempt men into doing dangerous, uncontrollable things.” This is certainly true. This new vampire craze seems to suggest that women love the idea of seducing and being objectified by powerful men.

More disturbing than this, however, is that Max is apparently extremely popular on college campuses, where rape and sexual assault continue to be a problem. Max seems to be doing everything to subvert the message that women should be empowered to take control of their own sexuality and not become sexual objects for men to use and abuse.

Meanwhile, Friedman’s stories about what women do to gain Max’s attention (see excerpt below) remind me of the novel “Geek Love” by Katherine Dunn, which is a fabulous novel that in part contains an excellent commentary on the dangers of extreme and obssessive fan-dom of an idol who takes pleasure in others’ pain.

Another female fan sought out Max, slept with him, and then tattooed an explicit sentence commemorating the event just below her hip bone, thus earning the Holy Grail of any Maxite: an original Tucker Max blog entry featuring her.

 

Just in case all of this hasn’t disturbed/disgusted you enough, here’s a nice post from the FAQs on his webpage about why he’s not sexist/misogynistic:

 

This always confuses me. For fucks sake, I originally put up a page dedicated to getting a date; how is that sexist? How in hell does that imply I hate women? I hate a lot of things, (stupid people and Duke basketball, for instance) but nowhere on that list is women. I LOVE women. Now, do I treat some women like shit? Yes, sometimes, but I treat EVERYONE like shit, not just women. Sexism is treating one sex differently from the other(s). I treat people as individuals.

Don’t misunderstand, there are times when women just annoy the shit out of me. Of course, I am sure I annoy them also. It’s part of the curse of having a high sexual dimorphism within a species: the differences cause friction. And let me be clear about this: I do not believe that women’s studies is a legitimate academic discipline. Of course, I don’t think many of the majors available are legitimate academic disciplines (see e.g. “Marxist studies,” or “Recreation.”). And I obviously believe that there are natural, inherent differences between the sexes, differences that go beyond the purely reproductive, and that examination of those differences is fertile ground for humor. If you are one of those who reject the idea of inborn differences between the sexes and claim that all differences are socially constructed, I can offer you nothing but a biology primer and my sympathies, because you are stupid.

Oh how I would love to put him in a room with bell hooks or Gloria Steinem or even better, Catharine MacKinnon, and watch them tear him apart.

I will certainly be encouraging everyone I know to boycott this movie and to spread awareness about Tucker Max’s dangerous message. I hope you will do the same.

For more of the feminist response to Tucker Max click here and here.

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