This Is Very Upsetting
This Is Very Upsetting
I’m not a YouTube person by any stretch. I didn’t know who Tom Milson or Alex Day are. I don’t follow the artists at DFTBA Records. I’m far from being an expert on internet culture and fandoms. But when a friend sent me this (and this and this and this), and then I read Hank Green and John Green’s reactions, and I learned that this abusive behavior wasn’t just from one individual, I couldn’t help but share my thoughts. Because I was very, very upset. Pissed off. Annoyed. ANGRY.
1) Being creative or artistic doesn’t preclude you being an asshole or being criminal. It’s just your JOB. See: Woody Allen, Roman Polanski, Terry Richardson. If any of those dudes did what was alleged while working as janitors, would it make a difference? Making art, while we want to believe it’s all lofty and beyond reproach, is just a job like any other job. And you will find assholes, predators and criminals in any occupation.
2) Hank Green’s video, “Sex, Consent & Culture” is way too glib to be of much help when it comes to a) consent b) sexual abuse and its complicated cultural components. If you are not an authority on the matter, Hank, that’s understandable. But there are plenty of people who are authorities and can speak about these issues without deploying jokes or abstractions. Sit still and interview one of them in a video together, please. I’m glad Hank is ‘gathering resources’ but there is no reason rushing toward a topic where you can’t speak eloquently or with any kind of nuance (missiles? kitties? wtf?) is at all productive; in fact, I’d venture to say this approach is absolutely insulting and offensive, especially to survivors of rape and sexual assault. Summing up consent and sex in three minutes is a fool’s errand. Make it a series, with people who deeply understand these topics, and let them do the majority of the talking. Then maybe you’ll ‘change the world.’
3) Sex and romance and consent ARE incredibly complicated. That they could remain a ‘chase’ while still involving enthusiastic consent isn’t an impossibility for me. Sex is a negotiation like all the other millions of negotiations we enter into as humans. It just happens to be very high stakes and multi-faceted. Being flippant and simplistic doesn’t assist anyone in this matter. Talking about sex and romance and consent and sexual violence by using concrete examples and sharing our own personal stories, biases and limitations is what helps, not summing up the whole situation with a handful of trite generalizations.
4) When you tell me that ‘the girl was 15 and the guy was 22’ then I know all I need to know. He has acted wrongly. It doesn’t matter what she says or did or does. A 22-year-old guy who understands boundaries does not engage 15-year-old girls in anything sexual. Unfortunately, I think this world is probably full of 22-year-old guys who don’t understand boundaries or why this is wrong.
5) If you are uncomfortable talking about sex, sexuality, or sexual abuse and rape, please stop talking and find someone who isn’t. These discussions have been going on for a long, long time, with people who don’t blanch or flinch or make reductive, immature jokes about it. The YA community, in fact, is full of women who WANT to discuss such topics without minimizing them into t-shirt slogans.
6) #SVYALit. Thank you, Karen Jensen, for inviting me to be a part of the Sexual Violence in YA Literature project. If I have an agenda as a writer, it’s that I want to be honest and real about the complex world we live in.
7) The hypocrisy of guys who tout themselves as progressive, defenders of equality and gay rights and feminism, and then serve up the same old retrograde exploitative sexual behavior, makes me want to lay down and die. Though it has precedent: there were plenty of ‘liberal’ guys in the 60’s who were willing to march into tear gas for human rights but still expected the chicks to make rice and beans and fuck them without complaint after the demonstrations were over. I’m at the point where I’d rather just deal with some ignorant dude who has no idea what privilege, rape culture and patriarchy are; at least that person is being an honest asshole instead of a deliberately misleading and devious asshole.
8) I don’t need kitten videos or pictures of Norman Reedus to soothe me out of my anger. Those things don’t get to share the stage with this kind of harmful bullshit. And not being angered by such things might indicate I cease to have a pulse.
9) Thank you for listening. Really.