(Content Note: Transphobia; Transphobic Narratives)
The best scene in “Of Late I Think of Rosewood”, the premiere for the second half of Pretty Little Liars’ sixth season, takes place in a courtroom, where the Liars are being compelled to testify as to their mental state regarding Charlotte Dilaurentis, a.k.a. Cece Drake a.k.a. Red Coat a.k.a. A, in order to determine whether she should be set free. Charlotte’s sister has asked the Liars to live up to their name and testify that everything is hunky-dory, and because the Liars are all too used to dancing to Alison Dilaurentis’ tune, they agree. Aria even has prepared script and everything.
And then, Aria says no. Abandoning her prepared remarks, the littlest liar asserts that no, she is not okay, that the scars she obtained during Charlotte’s nine-month reign of terror are nowhere near fully healed, and that she does not feel safe. It’s quite possibly her best scene in the entire history of the show, and, in a world that consistently asks its underprivileged to Get Over It and forgive and forget transgressions enacted by more privileged peoples and institutions—a world in which women are consistently asked to forgive how the Patriarchy has arrayed things against them and to “act normal, bitch” because #NotAllMen—it can be considered a rather powerful, brave statement.
(Content Note: Misogyny, Slut-Shaming, Rape Culture)
So Tony Harris is an artist whom I usually had a lot of time for. He did a lot to make Starman what it was, and I tend to think that his art in general is fantastic. Unfortunately, it turns out that artistic skill and the ability to be a decent human being don’t always go together. Today, he posted this on his Facebook page.
(Content Note: Nice-guyism, Consent, Sexual Assault, Rape, Stalking)
I’ve mentioned that the newest, Nickelodeon produced Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series displayed several problematic elements when it came to April O’Neil and women in general. While some of my concerns have been ameliorated somewhat—namely, Ms. O’Neil has obtained a modicum of some much-needed focus—the show still feels like the product of people blissfully unaware of their male privilege and how it can manifest. One of the reasons why this is the case is the continued lack of women in the universe—April continues to be an exception in an exclusively male world. Another is the way they’ve turned Donatello into a Nice Guy™.
(Content Note: Rape and Rape Culture)
On episode 91 of their House to Astonish podcast, Paul O’Brien and Al Kennedy discuss the return to Amethyst to comics and her debut in Sword of Sorcery #0. The bulk of their review is spent discussing a scene in the protagonist Amy Winston stops the attempted gang rape of Beryl, an unpopular girl whom she’d met earlier that day, by three of their high school classmates. Kennedy, in particular, considered this scene as the low point in the issue, being utterly unnecessary, disruptive of the book’s general feel, and yet another example of comic book writers’ use of rape as a source of cheap drama.
To quote the Slacktiverse, I think it’s more complicated than that. While I am like Kennedy rather sick and tired of the way rape and sexual assault is usually presented in fiction–as something that doesn’t exist beyond the actual act, is often presented in an misinformative manner, and is at times fetishized–I’m not sure altogether sure that the scene shown here was an example of what he refers to.
[Content Note: Sexual objectification of women, rape, sexual assault, and rape culture]
So less than twenty-four hours after the Kotaku article detailing how Tomb Raider‘s executive producer wanted players to feel “protective” towards Lara in the newest reboot, Crystal Dynamics sent out a statement “clarifying” the situation.
Y’know, if this response had said something like “We were not aware of the implications of the scene in question, and since it was not our intention to do harm, we’ll work with the objectionable content to try to ameliorate harm in any way possible within the time available.” That at least would have demonstrated good faith. This, however? This is just vile.
Say we take them at their word and believe them when they say that they did not intend Lara’s climactic “kills for the first time” scene to involve sexual assault. There are hundreds of ways a scene like that could have gone, and had the scenario played out with a male character, you can bet your ass that it would have played out differently. And yet for some reason they go for the one invoking rape and all its implications despite explicitly not intending to do so?
Somehow I do not buy that.
Now, do the objections against the game’s narrative mean that no story ever should be allowed to deal with rape, as some people have (perhaps dishonestly) claimed? Not at all (although I generally feel that videogames in particular tend to be a bad medium for dealing with the topic sensitively). However, this is not the way to go about it at all–see here and here for good breakdowns of the reasons why this is the case–and people who believe that they can show a story’s hero get sexually assaulted and not deal with it are not the people who should be doing it.
Content Note: Rape, Objectification of Women, Fetishization of Helplessness
So there’s a new article on that new Tomb Raider game out—one that seems to confirm what some thought of the latest game in the series.
In the past, Lara Croft didn’t need protecting. She was a fearless daredevil, a crack shot in short shorts with enough attitude to scare off a pack of bloodthirsty gorillas.
But in the upcoming Tomb Raider reboot, things will be different. She hasn’t become that woman yet. And executive producer Ron Rosenberg says you’ll want to keep her safe.
“When people play Lara, they don’t really project themselves into the character,” Rosenberg told me at E3 last week when I asked if it was difficult to develop for a female protagonist.
“They’re more like ‘I want to protect her.’ There’s this sort of dynamic of ‘I’m going to this adventure with her and trying to protect her.'”
“She’s definitely the hero but— you’re kind of like her helper,” he said. “When you see her have to face these challenges, you start to root for her in a way that you might not root for a male character.”
I’ve never played any of the Tomb Raider games; everything I know about the series has been filtered through third parties, each with their own biases. Still, I understand that the first couple of games were actually quite good, which helped buffer up her sudden status as the PS1 era’s leading lady (if only by default), but that once the quality of her games dropped, it became harder to claim that she wasn’t a sex object first and a character second. So when it was announced that Lara would undergo through an extensive makeover for her latest incarnation, reducing her proportions to ones that did not imply tough times finding comfortable bras and which bring to mind the movie version of Katniss Everdeen, people who felt embarrassed for enjoying her games breathed a sigh of relief.
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So, apparently the case against Dominique Strauss-Khan, the former managing Director of the International Monetary Fund who was arrested and accused of raping a woman, is falling apart, due to lies and inaccuracies in the victim’s testimony. My first thought: “Dammit. The kind of people who believe rape victims are lying liars who lie about being raped to get men in trouble are going to have a field day with this.” These people are not the ones who need more ammo for their bullshit beliefs. And yet, here we are.
Although forensic tests found unambiguous evidence of a sexual encounter between Mr. Strauss-Kahn, a French politician, and the woman, prosecutors now do not believe much of what the accuser has told them about the circumstances or about herself.
Since her initial allegation on May 14, the accuser has repeatedly lied, one of the law enforcement officials said.