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The light is red. I am standing on the corner. A cab stops, the driver opens his passenger (!) door— to show me his penis!

De-coded misogynist logic for the benefit of readers: “There’s a woman! I can make her uncomfortable!”

I almost forgot about this incident, until i remembered that I have a blog devoted to this sort of thing.

Bruno Deserves a Follow-up

October 19, 2007

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Its not always bad, news I guess; after this incident with a Dude otherwise known as Bruno, I stopped talking to him, returning his texts and emails. I also used the little discussed, but critical, feminist strategy of gossiping about him to our mutual friends. Happily, he called to apologize and also recognized what he did wrong:

Him: I felt like there was a work stoppage in our friendship

Me: There was, why do you think?

Him: I was worried I fucked up our friendship by hitting on you the other night. I’m sorry. I was really drunk.

Me: You may have been drunk, but that doesn’t explain the misogyny. Your behavior toward me totally changed after talked to you about Jonah; you ignored the things you know –things we had just discussed!–about my relationship with Jonah and my relationship with you. The most important thing about me was that I was a possibly sexually available woman. That sucked.

Him: You’re right. I’m sorry. This shit runs really deep, and I felt terrible. I’m just glad you’re not kicking me off the island yet.

Me: And after you left me on the curb after I wouldn’t go home with you, two guys followed me out of the bar and tried to get in the cab with me. The bouncer had to scrape them off the car. It really just put the nail in the coffin of the whole evening. Every man I knew or didn’t know transformed into hideous sexually-entitled robots.

Him: Ug. sorry. I’m really sorry.

Me: I guess you’re not off the island yet.

Him: I’m hanging out downtown on Friday, wanna come?

Me: I’ll call you Friday or Saturday. Goodnight!

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Oh, oh! Thinking girl has one too. I might also start collecting 1st person narratives of other peoples problems. That could be fun.

*Update to add* Anglea H records the inner thoughts of a woman to a Dude, any Dude, and all Dudes in “Dear Jerk.”

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Screen shot from SVU: Can you tell if she’s just been raped?

Or if she’s just had an orgasm?

Does it really matter?

This post inspired me to start writing about an enormous and complex subject which is central to the motivation behind this blog, but which I’ve so far avoided like a darkened street corner or wearing a pony tail: the way misogyny and misogynist baseline assumptions operate in family and love relationships.

The topic of ABW’s criticism of the use and abuse of rape as a plot element is interesting, and a pet peeve of mine; but to my true delight, the comments confirmed the specific irritant which never fails to make me peevish in this regard: Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. The whole rationale of SVU is that using rape as a plot point is titillating and ceaselessly interesting. Most episodes open with an alluring full-body pan of a sexy corpse, shots which always remind me of that unfortunate epispode of America’s Next Top Model …

This irritating element of the show is combined with the normal retrograde plot formula of all L&O spin-offs: take a “real life” situation and write it as though the exact opposite thing actually happened. For example,when in real life a non-resisting peace protester is murdered by a soldier in the Middle East, L&O will have an Iraq veteran who is murdered, as it turns out, by a spoiled peace protester with a history of planting bombs! Or, perhaps, in reality, a child is found in a closet, starved nearly to death by his foster parents who are in it for the money. In L&O world, after several twists and turns, we learn that a child, seemingly the victim of abuse by his parents, is in fact perpetrating a complex plot to profit financially from an underground ring of of “parent fights” where his poor innocent guardians–who have been hiding their devil-child’s adopted status all along– are forced to attack one-another in poorly lit basements in the inner city, far from their suburban home.

Ok, I made that up, but if you watch the show, you know it could work.

The result of these two factors in SVU is that you not only have a show that uses rape to titillate and thus confuses rape with sex, you also have plots which undermine the audience’s knowledge and assumptions about the banal realities of rape: you get numerous women who are lying about rape; some of them turn out to actually be rapists themselves! You have dozens of straight-A white good girls who were raped because they were really secretly slutty drugged-out prostitutes. You get lots of men, accused of rape, who turn out to be innocent. The real rapists are often serial psychopaths who sometimes get their hands on the show’s stable of tough lady-cops.

Law & Order SVU is a nearly perfect distillation of of the most reactionary possible attitudes toward women, passed off as mainstream or even progressive sensibility dealing with complex phenomena.

I noticed these flaws the first time I ever watched the show, yet I’ve seen probably hundreds of episodes. Some of these episodes caused me to have painful flashbacks to my own experiences with rape; other episodes turned me into an angry ranting bitch; most I just found useful and amusing as objects of dissection.

But it would have been better for me not to watch this show. Twelve amusing discussions are not worth one flashback, and the experiences of watching the show was unpleasant for what it revealed about the person I then loved most in the world. So why did I watch it?

That’s right, The Dude. The Main Dude, or at least The ex-Main Dude.

Its not like he forced me to watch this show; he didn’t care at all whether I watched it or not. But I watched because he watched it, and because I couldn’t look away. And even if I could have looked away, I didn’t want him to watch it without me–without, at some point, having to think about the reality of rape, rather than the glamorous glossy version.

When I criticized the show and complained about my little problem with SVU and flashbacks, the Dude helpfully suggested that I not watch the show. When I asked why he liked the show, he didn’t answer.

I still wish I knew. Or, more accurately, given that we both knew what he liked about it, I wish I knew why he couldn’t or wouldn’t see that as a problem or at least something worthy of discussion. I think, to him, my disapproval of SVU was an expression of different leisure interests; if he liked and I didn’t, well that was because we were healthily individuated. And he would have appreciated it if I didn’t always have to point out what was sexist about the show. Eventually, I didn’t.

The misogynist logic I’m trying to expose here is, I think, this: “Rape=your problem, bitch. Not mine.”

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Last night I paid $9 for a cab since it was almost 11 o’clock and I started thinking about the Grip Dude. Fucker. I want my $9 back.

Dudes of the Dead

October 11, 2007

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So, this experience, like some I’ll add, happened before this blog did, but recently. It must also be counted as part of the inspiration to take on this blogging experiment.

An activist friend, Bruno, calls and asks me out salsa dancing in his neighborhood; he’s bringing more friends, whom I know as good union guys with whom i can talk politics and bullshit. I don’t feel like leaving the house, but he is persistent and I want to want to feel like leaving my apartment. I want to feel like salsa dancing, so I decide that I do.

When I get there, it turns out that Eddie and Vincent are already drunk. Bruno is probably also already drunk, but it doesn’t show. As a result, Eddie and Vincent are no longer my friends, they’re Dudes who spend the evening hitting on me, leaning on me, and complimenting me in a fashion which is totally non-threatening but is boring as hell. When they leave, I’m relieved to be able to be left with Bruno and a chance to gossip about mutual friends and shoot our mouths off.

We gossip. I shoot my mouth off. I thank Bruno again for all the support during my break up and move; he repeats the theme of the evening so far, which is that I’m like his sister. I am his sister!

We go back inside for more drinks and dancing. Bruno pulls me in for some close dancing which isn’t up my alley at the moment; I sqirm back to the bar. It happens again. Bruno implies that he would, under the right circumstances, be willing to fuck me.

By the time we’re heading to the second bar, Bruno is taking every inappropriate opportunity to touch me, encourage me to drink, and encourage me to stay at his nearby apartment. Its clear that Bruno is, at this very moment, a Dude.

I’m heart-broken; I’m Shaun in the Winchester when he has to shoot his own mother. I rack my brains trying to figure out what I did or said that brought on the confusing changes in his demeanor; as far as I could see my behavior toward Bruno had changed not at all and I’d done not one thing to indicate to him that I was interested in spending the night with him. Why, then, the unholy transformation?

It hits me. The misogynistic logic which has ensnared Bruno’s poor brain is revealed to me in all its glory. Bruno thinks that because I had sex with our mutual friend Jonah, AND didnt expect Jonah to be my husband, AND didn’t care (and wanted to gossip about) Jonah’s other exploits in our social circle, that that meant that I was giving it away for free, and if it was free, why shouldn’t he get some?

This, of course, despite the fact that Bruno has a girlfriend I like and want to be friends with. And despite the basic fact that I am not in anyway attracted to Bruno and have never suggested otherwise. And despite the fact that my reaction thus far to his every move has been decidedly the opposite of encouraging.

When I decide not to dance with Dude in the next bar, a Mexican dance club, he locates another apparently willing participant. I’m left to chat at the bar with a new Dude with whom I share a significant language barrier. What I do understand is that he doesn’t hate white people, and in fact, might be willing to fuck one under the right circumstances. He seems to wonder if these, indeed are the, right circumstances. I excuse myself; he grabs my hand. I reclaim my hand. I make my way to the Dude I rolled in with.

I explain that it was time for me to go; he pouts, and suggested again that I could crash with him. He asked “Why are you leaving now?” I said “I’m leaving because I’m drunk and tired of being a girl. I would like to go back to my apartment where I am merely a cat owner.”

Peeved, Dude says “Ok, the car is on its way. You’ll be alright.” And heads back inside for more dancing, leaving me on the curb. As the car rolls up, the other Dude I just “met” at the bar appears, and tries to climb into the cab with me. Along with his friend. I say “goodnight, I am going home,”and attempt to slam the car door shut on his fingers, but this dissuades him not in the least. Eventually, the bouncer peels both Dudes off the car, and I speed off into the night.

I ride home, anxious and amused. The evening was a Dude-Zombie movie in which every man I encountered, regardless of their other characteristics and regardless of the nature of their prior relationship to me is transformed into identical Dude-Zombies ruled by sexist logic and intent on pursuing “sex” with me regardless of what I say, think or feel about it.

This, my friends, is the origin of the term Dude. Henceforth, on this blog, the Dude who is at any given moment making my life worse by forcing me to understand his hateful misogynistic worldview better than he does in order to interpret his actions and the world around me will always and forever be called Dude. In the future, they may be given hyphenated descriptors such as Professor-Dude, or Student-Dude, or Guy-the-liquor-store-Dude as a device in service to narrative clarity.

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I was late for a conference call and so moving quickly; I managed to catch the bus just as I got of the subway; one of those daily victories which convinces me that the world is not, in fact, out to get me.

Moving fast down the block, a nod here and there, a car whistles, girls are jumping rope. A guy calls out; “Can I get a cigarette?”

“I’m almost out; and I’m late!”

Dude, a giant roid-head twice my size saunters into my path. Holding his crotch. I cant wait.

Dude says, “Can I talk to you?”

“I’m sorry, I’m late for a phone call.”

Then, grabbing my wrist firmly, so I can’t keep walking, he says “Baby I got things to do too, but I’d rather talk to you. I’m a Blood, I got grip! Talk to me!”

I try to break his wrist hold on me and say “I don’t give a shit how much money you have, I don’t like men who touch me when I don’t want to be touched. Let go of my fucking hand.”

I break Dude’s grip and walk forward; he grabs my other wrist:

“Don’t go, talk to me! I got grip!”

“Let fucking go of my fucking hand. I told you I’m busy.”

From behind me, Dude’s friend says “Let her go.”

Dude, still holding my wrist, says “Don’t hug her? I want to hug her!”

“Let her go.”

He does. I go.

I’m pleased that I got more pissed than scared.