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62 Responses

  1. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable October 16, 2011 at 8:42 pm |

    Like. Thank you.

  2. EG
    EG October 16, 2011 at 9:52 pm |

    It’s a problem: Johnny Depp is dead to me, not only due to this, but due to his defense of Roman Polanski; Robert Downey Jr. is dead to me, due to his defense of Mel Gibson; I wonder who’s next.

    Maybe I should start a Celebrity Death-to-me Pool.

  3. EG
    EG October 16, 2011 at 9:53 pm |

    (Mel Gibson has obviously been dead to me for quite some time, which causes a lot of internal conflict when I feel the urge to watch Road Warrior or Beyond Thunderdome.)

  4. 4catlady
    4catlady October 16, 2011 at 10:27 pm |

    I couldn’t agree more. Good commentary.

  5. claire
    claire October 16, 2011 at 11:13 pm |

    just typical over-priveleged types appropriating language to make headlines

  6. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve October 16, 2011 at 11:19 pm |

    I feel one element of paparazzi behavior is getting ignored here. I”m talking about what is commonly know as the ‘upskirt’ shot. I have heard stories of cameramen lying on the floor to get a shot of a min-skirted celeb getting out of a car.
    I don’t consider this ‘rape’ but it is a gross sexual violation.

  7. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve October 16, 2011 at 11:26 pm |

    EG:
    It’s a problem: Johnny Depp is dead to me, not only due to this, but due to his defense of Roman Polanski; Robert Downey Jr. is dead to me, due to his defense of Mel Gibson; I wonder who’s next.

    Maybe I should start a Celebrity Death-to-me Pool.

    I hate everything about Mel Gibson, from his stupid movies, to his stupid religion, and his stupid Nazi father.

    However, having heard those answer phone messages to his ex, I am convinced he is genuinely mentally ill, and therefore, while I still hate Mel Gibson even when he’s sober and sane.
    I try to give people the benefit of the doubt and when people like Jodie Foster and Robert Downey Jr. ‘defend’ Mel Gibson, they are not defending anything he did or said, just trying to help him get over the dual illnesses of alcoholism and what seems to be a severe paranoid disorder, in the hope that with treatment, he can change.

  8. Avida Quesada
    Avida Quesada October 16, 2011 at 11:28 pm |

    Totally agree.
    The problem is that this is not a particular case. Calling something rape is quite common. It’s for effect and manipulation of the people’s response.

    This includes full rape apologists to some feminists (like the infamous Newton rape manual).

    In this sense I believe we should focus in education: Rape is a destructive crime that has is base on the dismissal of the basic human rights of women.

    Basically is a destructive hate crime.

    Love,

    Avida

  9. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve October 16, 2011 at 11:29 pm |

    EG:
    It’s a problem: Johnny Depp is dead to me, not only due to this, but due to his defense of Roman Polanski; Robert Downey Jr. is dead to me, due to his defense of Mel Gibson; I wonder who’s next.

    Whoopi

  10. EG
    EG October 16, 2011 at 11:48 pm |

    Fat Steve: I hate everything about Mel Gibson, from his stupid movies, to his stupid religion, and his stupid Nazi father.

    However, having heard those answer phone messages to his ex, I am convinced he is genuinely mentally ill, and therefore, while I still hate Mel Gibson even when he’s sober and sane.
    I try to give people the benefit of the doubt and when people like Jodie Foster and Robert Downey Jr. ‘defend’ Mel Gibson, they are not defending anything he did or said, just trying to help him get over the dual illnesses of alcoholism and what seems to be a severe paranoid disorder, in the hope that with treatment, he can change.

    Honestly, I don’t really care whether or not he changes. I’ve known lots of mentally ill people, and none of them threatened rape or beat their wives. The only mentally ill people I’ve known who threw around racist, anti-semitic epithets were actually so very incapacitated by their illnesses that they were unable to take care of themselves without significant assistance (not the Hollywood personal assistant kind, either). Being a violent misogynist racist anti-semitic asshole is not a mental illness, and I’m not convinced there’s anything else to indicate that he is mentally ill (aside from the mental illness that constitutes alcohol addiction, and I’m not OK with saying “Oh, that’s not him, that’s the alcohol.” Because the man tried to revive the passion play, the single most violently anti-semitic genre in European history. Because he follows a religion that rejects Vatican 2, and thus continues to blame the Jews for the crucifixion (which has always pissed me off, because, hey, assholes–crucifixion was a Roman practice, ordered by Romans, carried about by Romans, why don’t you try blaming, oh, I don’t know, the Romans for a change?). Because he has always treated women like shit, drunk or sober. The alcohol may unlock the chains on his mouth, but it didn’t put that shit in there to begin with.

  11. EG
    EG October 16, 2011 at 11:52 pm |

    More to the point, if RDJr. wants to help that asshole get through his alcoholism, feel free, but right around the time he starts publicly proclaiming that Gibson deserves forgiveness, he is…dead to me.

  12. DonnaL
    DonnaL October 17, 2011 at 12:02 am |

    EG: Honestly, I don’t really care whether or not he changes.I’ve known lots of mentally ill people, and none of them threatened rape or beat their wives.The only mentally ill people I’ve known who threw around racist, anti-semitic epithets were actually so very incapacitated by their illnesses that they were unable to take care of themselves without significant assistance (not the Hollywood personal assistant kind, either).Being a violent misogynist racist anti-semitic asshole is not a mental illness, and I’m not convinced there’s anything else to indicate that he is mentally ill (aside from the mental illness that constitutes alcohol addiction, and I’m not OK with saying “Oh, that’s not him, that’s the alcohol.”Because the man tried to revive the passion play, the single most violently anti-semitic genre in European history.Because he follows a religion that rejects Vatican 2, and thus continues to blame the Jews for the crucifixion (which has always pissed me off, because, hey, assholes–crucifixion was a Roman practice, ordered by Romans, carried about by Romans, why don’t you try blaming, oh, I don’t know, the Romans for a change?).Because he has always treated women like shit, drunk or sober.The alcohol may unlock the chains on his mouth, but it didn’t put that shit in there to begin with.

    Thank you, EG. Yes to all of this; it’s exactly how I feel about Mel Gibson, and, in particular, that repulsive movie. (Except that I think the passion play may have a few rivals for the prize of most violently anti-Semitic genre in European history. The blood libel, for one.)

  13. EG
    EG October 17, 2011 at 12:33 am |

    Well, we are spoiled for choice.

    As an aside, when a friend of mine was younger, his parents took him on a drive through the US, and somewhere along the way, they stopped and watched an actual passion play being performed. It was horrifying in all the traditional ways, of course, but a contemporary take on anti-semitism was thrown in: a greedy, grasping, obviously Jewish doctor tried to convince, lure, coerce Mary into aborting the Jesus fetus. He volunteered this story after I mentioned that I’d always found the rhetoric of the anti-abortion movement to be far too close to the blood libel for my comfort, especially after the murder of Dr. Barnett Slepian.

    I can’t find any trace of such a thing on the internet, but if my friend was with his parents, this took place a while ago. I’ll try to get more details out of him.

  14. PeggyLuWho
    PeggyLuWho October 17, 2011 at 12:41 am |

    Thank you.

  15. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve October 17, 2011 at 12:41 am |

    EG: Honestly, I don’t really care whether or not he changes.I’ve known lots of mentally ill people, and none of them threatened rape or beat their wives.The only mentally ill people I’ve known who threw around racist, anti-semitic epithets were actually so very incapacitated by their illnesses that they were unable to take care of themselves without significant assistance (not the Hollywood personal assistant kind, either).Being a violent misogynist racist anti-semitic asshole is not a mental illness, and I’m not convinced there’s anything else to indicate that he is mentally ill (aside from the mental illness that constitutes alcohol addiction, and I’m not OK with saying “Oh, that’s not him, that’s the alcohol.”Because the man tried to revive the passion play, the single most violently anti-semitic genre in European history.Because he follows a religion that rejects Vatican 2, and thus continues to blame the Jews for the crucifixion (which has always pissed me off, because, hey, assholes–crucifixion was a Roman practice, ordered by Romans, carried about by Romans, why don’t you try blaming, oh, I don’t know, the Romans for a change?).Because he has always treated women like shit, drunk or sober.The alcohol may unlock the chains on his mouth, but it didn’t put that shit in there to begin with.

    It wasn’t the threats that made me think he was mentally ill. It was the manner of speech, the jumping from topic to topic, and most of all- the sheer paranoia.

    I can’t tell you that you should care if people change. But I do care if people change.

    My great grandparents were killed in the Holocaust though my grandmother, aunt and uncle escaped from Vienna to Amsterdam, then London and finally New York. I mention that to make the point that I consider Holocaust deniers to be accomplices after the fact to murder. In terms of morality, I put them ‘one notch below child molesters.’ Mel Gibson’s father is a Holocaust denier. Mel Gibson is an Anti-Semite. But this doesn’t change my view about that people want to help him. I can’t tell you that you should care if people change. But I do care if people change. Not only is it better have one less racist a-hole in the world but until they get

  16. karak
    karak October 17, 2011 at 3:35 am |

    More to the point, if RDJr. wants to help that asshole get through his alcoholism, feel free, but right around the time he starts publicly proclaiming that Gibson deserves forgiveness, he is…dead to me.

    Apparently at some point in the past, Gibson helped save RDJ’s career (and in doing so, probably his life and his marriage). I give RDJ ONE pass for returning the favor. ONE.

  17. Alice
    Alice October 17, 2011 at 5:19 am |

    I think a lot of people don’t know how to describe what they are actually feeling. I don’t approve of rape or variations like “mental rape” as a way of describing feeling like you’ve been violated in some way, especially not in such a public way. However, I wonder why so many people do that. Any suggestions?

  18. Q Grrl
    Q Grrl October 17, 2011 at 6:11 am |

    I dunno. Depp describes a scenario where he no longer has control over his physical boundaries, where his body is touched and manipulated by strangers who assume that his *fame* means that he has consented to their intrusion/abuse. Our society doesn’t give men a lot of leeway to talk about violations of their physical boundaries, so I’m a bit more lenient in this situation. I actually feel that it is a fairly apt analogy. Assault is assault.

  19. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable October 17, 2011 at 6:59 am |

    True story – as a woman, people love putting their hands on me. Rub my shoulders, touch my arms at bars, etc. I’m told pregnant women constantly have strangers touching their bellies.

    Not an act of rape. Not comparable in any manner to being raped. If you think it is, you have not been raped.

  20. Norma
    Norma October 17, 2011 at 8:02 am |

    Q Grrl: I actually feel that it is a fairly apt analogy. Assault is assault.

    This comment is so callous it’s hard to deal with.

    So, what PrettyAmiable says.

  21. Jadey
    Jadey October 17, 2011 at 8:41 am |

    Q Grrl: I actually feel that it is a fairly apt analogy.

    It doesn’t need to be an analogy, though – it is harassment, first of all, it can escalate to sexual harassment in the case of things like the up-skirt shots someone mentioned above, and it can absolutely become assault (or even sexual assault) if it is involves unwanted physical contact (unwanted sexual touching is the definition of level 1 sexual assault in my country at least, although “rape” would be covered by levels 2 and 3 if we used that term legally). But there’s no need to use it metaphorically – that just creates more problems. There’s plenty of non-metaphorical, non-appropriative ways to describe and condemn what is happening in those experiences.

    If someone were to turn around and say, “That time I was swarmed by the media reminded me of past sexual assaults because of the violation of my personal space” or some other reference to personal experiences, though, I wouldn’t criticize that. It’s probably not likely that someone would be that open about their victimization history though.

  22. Jadey
    Jadey October 17, 2011 at 8:51 am |

    Ehh, I do have to say that I dislike the way that Sontag in the Depp article seems to dismiss how violating the experience of unconsensual photography can be because it’s not “physically possessing” the person and its only a “figurative violation” and a “weak expression of power”. It may not be a physical act of rape, but that doesn’t mean it couldn’t be traumatic. I hate having my picture taken – it makes me feel anxious and ill and I think I’d react very, very badly to being harassed in this manner. Not all harm is physical harm (which, hell, goes for victims of rape as well – the physical hurt is only one part of a shitstorm of crappiness, which is why it’s so problematic for us to police rapes that don’t fit the “stranger danger” stereotype). There’s a reason harassment motivates some people to suicide – you can destroy people without ever physically touching them.

  23. Alara Rogers
    Alara Rogers October 17, 2011 at 8:52 am |

    My brother has a comedy routine where he goes, “I been hearing a lot about how the Jews supposedly killed Jesus. And as an Italian, it offends me to hear about Jews takin’ credit for a good Italian hit.”

    Seriously, I’ve *never* comprehended the belief that the Jews killed Jesus. Since Jesus was a Jew, as was his mother, as were all his friends, as was practically everyone he met in the story except for the Good Samaritan and the Romans, it would be kind of like saying the Americans killed John F. Kennedy even if it were *true* that the Jews killed him — you can’t say “the Zoobles killed Bagooey” if Bagooey was a Zooble, it doesn’t make sense.

    But the fact that, in the text, it’s made clear that the *Romans* killed Jesus, and while he might have been set up by Jewish leadership and while in one of the Gospels the town square supposedly demonstrates overwhelming support for letting a common criminal go rather than releasing Jesus, neither of these change the fact that the Romans were actually the ones who executed him, and he was executed for a crime against the Romans — essentially, sedition and revolutionary activities. How can anyone read the Gospels and come away with the idea that the Jews killed Jesus?

    (I’m not even touching the fact that most of this shit was made up after the fact anyway and there’s no evidence of things like the ritual pardoning of a prisoner at Passover, etc. I’m just talking about Joe Ignorant Schmoe reading the text of the Gospels and taking them at face value; how do you get from *them* the idea that Jews killed Jesus?)

  24. Athenia
    Athenia October 17, 2011 at 9:01 am |

    It isn’t rape, but I do think there is a spectrum. They are exploiting your body without your consent. They think just because you exist in public that you body is their property.

    It isn’t rape, but it’s a part of rape culture.

  25. Athenia
    Athenia October 17, 2011 at 9:04 am |

    Also, no one is “lucky” because they haven’t been assaulted in a penetrative way. There are many types of assaults and I don’t think we should be qualify one over another.

  26. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve October 17, 2011 at 9:14 am |

    Athenia:
    Also, no one is “lucky” because they haven’t been assaulted in a penetrative way. There are many types of assaults and I don’t think we should be qualify one over another.

    That’s insane. Saturday night at a huge concert, I was stepping out of people’s way and accidentally assaulted a guy (elbow to the face.) You can’t accidentally rape someone. THERE IS NO EQUIVALENCE.

  27. Avida Quesada
    Avida Quesada October 17, 2011 at 9:27 am |

    Q Grrl: to men

    The fact that something is abusive don’t make it rape. I am not in the same page than Germaine Greer about rape. Even so I will never forget listening to a female USA soldier (she was tortured on Afghanistan or Iraq my mind fails me) telling the reporter that the rape was the lesser torture and that men got it worse.

    So :
    1. What they are experiencing is not as bad of rape. If it was they will put an stop to it: They have the money to live without working for the rest of thier lives. The can go and act as little theaters. It’s direct that they don’t understand the inferno that some women live on. (Marital rape as domestic violence)

    2. If someone get her face burned and deformed (like the acid attacks) That, for me, is far worse than rape, but still not rape.

    I am pointing this because I don’t believe that the poster is putting down what they live. Is just not rape (and in this case, nor as bad as rape)

    Love
    Avida

  28. EG
    EG October 17, 2011 at 10:03 am |

    The thing is, Fat Steve, if RDJr was saying something along the lines of “I realize that he is a raging anti-semite, what with the passion play and the Holocaust denial (Gibson has been asked repeatedly if he agrees with his father on this, and in response, says that his father is “a man of truth”; once he grudgingly admitted that during WW2, “some Jews were killed”) and the slurs and the creepy pre-Vatican 2 stuff, and I realize he said horrific things to his wife and attacked her, but I can’t forget how he helped me out when I was down, so I won’t desert him, and I am trying to get him the help he needs to put down the bottle and overcome his anti-semitism and inability to control rage,” that would be one thing.

    But neither RDJr. or Foster said that. What they said was “He couldn’t possibly have done those things” or “He’s a great guy and deserves forgiveness,” even though he’s never actually acknowledged that he’s done such egregiously disgusting things.

    So while I think it’s generous of you to read Gibson’s supporters as trying to help him change, I think it’s overly generous, because Gibson has not expressed any desire to change or admitted that he should change, and his supporters have not indicated that he should change either.

    I still don’t much care whether or not he changes; even his anti-semitism and misogyny are less disturbing to me than the fact that they don’t disturb his friends and colleagues and hasn’t been in any way shunned or condemned. I don’t care if individuals change; I care far more about how our society handles those individuals, because that tells me how acceptable they are to people in general.

    His manner of speech didn’t suggest mental illness to me; it did strongly suggest somebody with neither the ability nor the inclination to control anger.

  29. duck-billed placelot
    duck-billed placelot October 17, 2011 at 10:31 am |

    I think some commenters have made good points about how upskirt/nudity pictures are a form of assault (and most definitely an example of rape culture). I’d like to point out, however, that the end of the piece concerns me as well, the idea that because these people have not been raped, that their concerns are not valid. This feels analogous to the dismissals that many feminists hear when discussion problems of sexism in America, e.g. ‘Women in the Middle East can’t drive or show their faces and are in arranged marriages, so you lucky 1st world women should shut up.’ Celebrities are not (or shouldn’t be) required by dint of their fame and money to have pictures taken of their nude bodies or to happily agree to be surrounded by screaming people trying to scare them into reacting badly. While people taking pictures of your (clothed) body is not on the continuum of sexual assault, it is, you know, bad, intrusive, scary, can result in bad things. I feel more sympathetic to female use of the sexual assault continuum language due to the price on upskirt/nudity shots (which ARE on the sexual assault continuum).

  30. zuzu
    zuzu October 17, 2011 at 10:49 am |

    Q Grrl:
    I dunno.Depp describes a scenario where he no longer has control over his physical boundaries, where his body is touched and manipulated by strangers who assume that his *fame* means that he has consented to their intrusion/abuse.Our society doesn’t give men a lot of leeway to talk about violations of their physical boundaries, so I’m a bit more lenient in this situation.I actually feel that it is a fairly apt analogy.Assault is assault.

    He’s not talking about papparazzi, he’s talking about a scheduled photo shoot. Which he doesn’t have to do.

    Alara Rogers: Seriously, I’ve *never* comprehended the belief that the Jews killed Jesus. Since Jesus was a Jew, as was his mother, as were all his friends, as was practically everyone he met in the story except for the Good Samaritan and the Romans, it would be kind of like saying the Americans killed John F. Kennedy even if it were *true* that the Jews killed him — you can’t say “the Zoobles killed Bagooey” if Bagooey was a Zooble, it doesn’t make sense.

    It makes more sense when you remember that the gospels from which all this derives were written nearly a century after the events described, and under Roman rule. Also, that the people who decided which gospels were canonical were Romans.

  31. rain
    rain October 17, 2011 at 10:49 am |

    Q Grrl @ 18:

    Our society doesn’t give men a lot of leeway to talk about violations of their physical boundaries

    Don’t Touch My Junk!

  32. zuzu
    zuzu October 17, 2011 at 10:50 am |

    Alara Rogers: I’m just talking about Joe Ignorant Schmoe reading the text of the Gospels and taking them at face value; how do you get from *them* the idea that Jews killed Jesus?)

    Most people who “know” what’s in the Bible don’t actually read it.

  33. Andie
    Andie October 17, 2011 at 11:09 am |

    I could have been more on board with Depp’s statement if he had just said ‘assaulted’. I don’t think I’d be totally on board with it, but it would at least sit a little better.

  34. EG
    EG October 17, 2011 at 11:15 am |

    duck-billed placelot: Celebrities are not (or shouldn’t be) required by dint of their fame and money to have pictures taken of their nude bodies or to happily agree to be surrounded by screaming people trying to scare them into reacting badly.

    You know, I’m not at all sure that I agree. Being surrounded by screaming people trying to take your photograph is pretty much the go-to image of what it means to be a “celebrity,” and has been for decades. I can see that experiencing that would be stressful and unpleasant, but that is what “celebrity” means–it means fame, fame means lots and lots of people know who you are, and thus will react to your presence in exceptional ways, because you are an exceptional person, in their eyes.

    I agree that actors shouldn’t be required to endure such things, but it’s perfectly possible to be an actor without being a celebrity. Nor was this celebrity accidental; Kristin Stewart took the starring role in a series known for the fervent rabidity of its fans. Depp was living pretty low-key for a while…and then he decided he wanted to rake in the big Disney bucks. Stewart was quite young when she took the job, so OK, maybe she regrets it now–but she’s the one who apologized and rephrased. Depp was in a photo shoot to promote his movie. If you’re a movie star, doing photo shoots for promotion is, actually, part of your job. But if Depp hated it that much, he could have walked out of that room any time. God knows he used to do wilder things, back in the day, and it’s not like, if Disney withholds part of his payment in consequence, that he and his family won’t have enough millions to live on.

  35. Alex
    Alex October 17, 2011 at 11:20 am |

    I agree it’s a terrible analogy but I would not put Stewart and Depp in the same category on this one. She was 20, and talking about looking at photos of herself that were taken while being caught in huge swarms of paparazzos. He’s in his 40’s and talking about staged photo shoots and taking pictures with fans. She’s pretty young and obviously trying to come up with words to describe the invasion of privacy and harassment, but I feel like she’s got time to learn better words, to learn how the only thing that’s like rape is rape. Depp… I don’t know… He’s just being a douche.

  36. Esti
    Esti October 17, 2011 at 11:44 am |

    Johnny Depp apologized about 24 hours later: http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-31749_162-20116289-10391698.html

    Kristen Stewart did the same shortly after her comment: http://www.people.com/people/package/article/0,,20316279_20391187,00.html

    I agree that this is a terrible, offensive comparison, but I think it would be good to note that both of the people you mention did in fact respond to the criticism with timely and well-stated (no “I’m sorry you were offended”) apologies. (And Kristen Stewart has done a lot of work with groups like RAINN even before her comment, which doesn’t give her the license to say it but does suggest that she understands this issue and it was a thoughtless one-off remark, not evidence that she thinks rape isn’t a big deal.)

    They shouldn’t have needed other people to point out that this is a bad comparison, but we all say stupid things and if you spend as much time as they do talking to the press, some of those things are going to end up being published. The fact that they apologized gave them more points in my book than they lost for making the comment initially.

  37. djf
    djf October 17, 2011 at 12:31 pm |

    Just thinking out loud here, but is there anything to be said for the fact that both Stewart and Depp are describing their perspective of their own experiences? (“Well, you just feel like you’re being raped somehow” & “The photos are so… I feel like I’m looking at someone being raped.”)

    Can we distinguish between objectively comparing xyz to rape and describing your experience as “feeling like” rape? It still might not be okay but I feel like there’s a difference.

  38. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve October 17, 2011 at 1:06 pm |

    djf: Can we distinguish between objectively comparing xyz to rape and describing your experience as “feeling like” rape?

    OK, describing your experience as “feeling like” rape is completely shitty and objectively comparing xyz to rape is totally fucked up.

    Enough of a distinction for you?

  39. Athenia
    Athenia October 17, 2011 at 1:06 pm |

    Fat Steve: That’s insane. Saturday night at a huge concert, I was stepping out of people’s way and accidentally assaulted a guy (elbow to the face.) You can’t accidentally rape someone. THERE IS NO EQUIVALENCE.

    A family member touching your penis isn’t exactly the same thing either but it’s still assault.

  40. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable October 17, 2011 at 1:14 pm |

    FS @ 39, the only caveat I can see is if you actually experienced it, and there was an implicit [my] in there. i.e. “It felt like [my] assault.” That said, it requires outing yourself to not look like a jerk.

  41. Athenia
    Athenia October 17, 2011 at 1:18 pm |

    Caperton: I absolutely can’t get behind this. Rape, like I said, is a very specific action with very specific implications. It’s set apart from other kinds of assault because of its sexual nature and power differential. Assault is assault, but all assault isn’t rape. And Johnny Depp wasn’t even talking about the paparazzi–he was saying that magazine photo shoots are like being raped. He has consented to their intrusion because, well, he’s consented to it.

    When Kristen Stewart apologized for her remark, she said the word she should have used was “violated,” which seems like a perfectly applicable word. It just lacks the drama of “rape.”

    How?

    I suppose you could make an argument that being dismissive of what rape actually is also part of rape culture. But, like I mentioned earlier, I do feel any time your consent is disrespected as well as your body viewed as public property is a function of rape culture.

    It’s like that Marilyn Monroe statue in Chicago—-it doesn’t depict rape and taking pics of her underwear isn’t rape—-but thinking it is cute, harmless and normal is part of rape culture. Just like how some people think drunken women getting raped is natural and their fault.

  42. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve October 17, 2011 at 1:21 pm |

    Alara Rogers:
    My brother has a comedy routine where he goes, “I been hearing a lot about how the Jews supposedly killed Jesus. And as an Italian, it offends me to hear about Jews takin’ credit for a good Italian hit.”

    Seriously, I’ve *never* comprehended the belief that the Jews killed Jesus. Since Jesus was a Jew, as was his mother, as were all his friends, as was practically everyone he met in the story except for the Good Samaritan and the Romans, it would be kind of like saying the Americans killed John F. Kennedy even if it were *true* that the Jews killed him — you can’t say “the Zoobles killed Bagooey” if Bagooey was a Zooble, it doesn’t make sense.

    But the fact that, in the text, it’s made clear that the *Romans* killed Jesus, and while he might have been set up by Jewish leadership and while in one of the Gospels the town square supposedly demonstrates overwhelming support for letting a common criminal go rather than releasing Jesus, neither of these change the fact that the Romans were actually the ones who executed him, and he was executed for a crime against the Romans — essentially, sedition and revolutionary activities. How can anyone read the Gospels and come away with the idea that the Jews killed Jesus?

    (I’m not even touching the fact that most of this shit was made up after the fact anyway and there’s no evidence of things like the ritual pardoning of a prisoner at Passover, etc. I’m just talking about Joe Ignorant Schmoe reading the text of the Gospels and taking them at face value; how do you get from *them* the idea that Jews killed Jesus?)

    Wait a minute, are you trying to imply that racism isn’t logical???

    Next thing you’ll be telling us the Earth revolves around the sun.

  43. zuzu
    zuzu October 17, 2011 at 1:25 pm |

    Athenia: I suppose you could make an argument that being dismissive of what rape actually is also part of rape culture. But, like I mentioned earlier, I do feel any time your consent is disrespected as well as your body viewed as public property is a function of rape culture.

    And how does this square with Johnny Depp’s comments about a magazine photo shoot he could have either not agreed to in the first place or walked out of at any time?

  44. Athenia
    Athenia October 17, 2011 at 1:30 pm |

    Also, in Olivia Munn’s book “Suck it Wonder Woman” she talks about a sexy photo shoot where literally everything she would show and would not show was written down in her contract. However, did the photographer give a shit? No. He threw a huge fit because she wouldn’t show certain skin or wear a certain outfit. She had to call back up because she refused to do what he said.

    So did Johnny Depp consent to the photo shoot? Yes. Does that mean he is consenting to being disrespected? No. (Just like how a “dress” does not mean “yes.”)

  45. Athenia
    Athenia October 17, 2011 at 1:33 pm |

    And I just want to say—I do agree with you that people need to stop using rape as ‘general trama.’

  46. Cagey
    Cagey October 17, 2011 at 1:37 pm |

    You know, I’m not at all sure that I agree. Being surrounded by screaming people trying to take your photograph is pretty much the go-to image of what it means to be a “celebrity,” and has been for decades. I can see that experiencing that would be stressful and unpleasant, but that is what “celebrity” means–it means fame, fame means lots and lots of people know who you are, and thus will react to your presence in exceptional ways, because you are an exceptional person, in their eyes.

    The image also comes with creepy stalkers obsessing over you, with paparazzi following you everywhere you go if you don’t take pains to hide your identity and with people fabricating stories about you based on things they found while going through your garbage. So are violations of privacy and personal space okay because they are an expected part of being a very well-known actor? Because I’m not sure making millions and being very well-known makes it ok for random people to sift through your garbage and follow you around in public. That would upset most everyday people, so why someone who is famous is expected to grin and bear it doesn’t make much sense, assuming we’re holding things like invasion of privacy, stalking and harassment to be objectively wrong.

    With that out of the way, the use of the word rape to describe things has gotten out of hand, particular as it relates to young men, like within certain parts of gamer culture. It’s a way of describing how thoroughly you defeated someone in a game to say that you “raped” them, which is more than off-putting because it forces the person on the receiving end to feel like a victim of rape but also has the user actively taking on the role of the rapist in a complimentary way, diminishing the seriousness of the act.

  47. GinnyC
    GinnyC October 17, 2011 at 1:37 pm |

    I deliberated not commenting, but this is bothering me enough I will risk an argument. I feel like this discussion is too close to threating rape as the worst possible thing that can happen to a person, and acting as if there is a universal experience of being raped. To me, the problem with using rape as a metaphor is not just that it trivalizes rape but also because it completly erases the personal experences of survivors using a stereotypical description of what rape feels like. This description is in line with the Catholic etc idea that being raped is the worst most damaging thing that can happen to a woman and is something you can never get over or recover from.

  48. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve October 17, 2011 at 1:42 pm |

    A fellow Arsenal fan (and by ‘fellow’ I mean she’s a woman, but we’re both fans) wrote a really good piece on a similar theme a few months back.

    http://ladyarse.co.uk/2011/06/why-rape-is-not-an-acceptable-footballing-term/

  49. Donna L
    Donna L October 17, 2011 at 1:58 pm |

    Fat Steve: That’s insane. Saturday night at a huge concert, I was stepping out of people’s way and accidentally assaulted a guy (elbow to the face.) You can’t accidentally rape someone. THERE IS NO EQUIVALENCE.

    Technically, you can’t accidentally assault someone either. Intent is an element of assault.

    That said, broadening “rape” to encompass either Johnny Depp’s entirely voluntary experience or even the feelings of a celebrity overwhelmed by paparazzi is reprehensible. I don’t understand the impulse to appropriate that word for every such unwelcome act by another person. There are perfectly good words available to describe those experiences. If someone feels violated, they should say so. If they feel assaulted, they should say so. I’m sure there are times when the physical and psychological harm from an assault is equal to or greater than rape. But that doesn’t mean that it *is* rape, or should be described with that word, or even necessarily characterized as part of rape culture.

    On the other hand, sometimes the word is defined *too* narrowly, especially in criminal law. In New York, a cis man cannot be raped as a legal matter. “Rape” has to involve a vagina. (Instead, rape of a cis man is called “sexual assault” — same penalties, I believe, but not the same crime.) It is an open issue under New York law as to whether a post-GRS trans woman’s vagina counts as a “real” vagina and, therefore, whether it’s possible for her to be “raped.” I am told that there has been internal debate on the question of what the appropriate charge would be, within at least one county’s D.A.’s office — a debate conducted entirely among cis people, of course — and that nothing was decided. I very much hope never to be in a position where I find out the answer.

  50. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve October 17, 2011 at 2:16 pm |

    Donna L: In New York, a cis man cannot be raped as a legal matter.

    I remember when a female friend first told me this. My immediate thought was ‘oh, god, what’s she about to do to me?’

  51. Yonah
    Yonah October 17, 2011 at 3:56 pm |

    Alara Rogers:
    How can anyone read the Gospels and come away with the idea that the Jews killed Jesus?

    (I’m not even touching the fact that most of this shit was made up after the fact anyway and there’s no evidence of things like the ritual pardoning of a prisoner at Passover, etc. I’m just talking about Joe Ignorant Schmoe reading the text of the Gospels and taking them at face value; how do you get from *them* the idea that Jews killed Jesus?)

    He’d get it from Matthew 27:

    22 “What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called the Messiah?” Pilate asked.
    They all answered, “Crucify him!”
    23 “Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate.
    But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!”
    24 When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. “I am innocent of this man’s blood,” he said. “It is your responsibility!”
    25 All the people answered, “His blood is on us and on our children!”

    In John “the crowd” gets much more explicitly and repeatedly called “Jews”, who are further described in that book with these words from 8:44: “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him.”

  52. EG
    EG October 17, 2011 at 6:09 pm |

    The image also comes with creepy stalkers obsessing over you, with paparazzi following you everywhere you go if you don’t take pains to hide your identity and with people fabricating stories about you based on things they found while going through your garbage.

    That’s all true, but it is a perfectly well-known part of the deal, and very few people become that kind of celebrity by accident. Ever since the Beatles, it’s hardly a secret. I just don’t have a whole lot of sympathy. Non-celebrities get creepy stalkers all the time, and I suspect that non-celebrities are more likely to be attacked or even killed by their stalkers. So stalking is hardly a threat or violation that only celebrities have to cope with. The rest of it? Getting written up in tabloids, getting photographed while going about your daily business–yeah, that’s the business of being a celebrity. You are making big money off a persona you sell to millions of people. You don’t get to whine when the perfectly foreseeable consequences of that career choice come home to roost, i.e. other people want to make money off of it as well. Live by the publicity machine, die by the publicity machine.

  53. zuzu
    zuzu October 17, 2011 at 6:13 pm |

    Athenia:
    Also, in Olivia Munn’s book “Suck it Wonder Woman” she talks about a sexy photo shoot where literally everything she would show and would not show was written down in her contract. However, did the photographer give a shit? No. He threw a huge fit because she wouldn’t show certain skin or wear a certain outfit. She had to call back up because she refused to do what he said.

    So did Johnny Depp consent to the photo shoot? Yes. Does that mean he is consenting to being disrespected? No. (Just like how a “dress” does not mean “yes.”)

    His remedy is to walk out because they breached the contract they had with him. If someone like Olivia Munn has that level of specificity in her contract, you can be Johnny Depp has more.

    Photo shoots: still not rape.

  54. raya
    raya October 17, 2011 at 6:16 pm |

    I don’t care if Mel Gibson is paranoid, that’s not an excuse for being an asshole. I’m a paranoid schizophrenic. If someone ever caughts me saying or doing something racist, sexist, anti-semitic, or otherwise hurtful and oppressive, I’d sure as hell want to be called out on it and not be excused and belittled because I’m retarded. Kthx.

    GinnyC: I deliberated not commenting, but this is bothering me enough I will risk an argument. I feel like this discussion is too close to threating rape as the worst possible thing that can happen to a person, and acting as if there is a universal experience of being raped. To me, the problem with using rape as a metaphor is not just that it trivalizes rape but also because it completly erases the personal experences of survivors using a stereotypical description of what rape feels like. This description is in line with the Catholic etc idea that being raped is the worst most damaging thing that can happen to a woman and is something you can never get over or recover from.

    That’s what I thought, too. Rape is not The Worst Thing Ever For Everyone (Except For Acid Attacks On Your Face… or something). I think I know at least one woman who I truly believe was more traumatised by being assaulted than I was when I was raped. I just don’t think it was the worst thing of all things that could ever happen to me. And it takes a lot of courage to say this out loud, because some people think if I’m not broken forever now because of it, it couldn’t really have been rape.

    So, it’s not okay to compare people making creepy pics of you without your consent to rape because rape is just the worst thing that could ever happen to anyone. It’s not okay because it’s just not comparable. Taking pictures does not equal raping someone. That’s not the definition of rape. It’s a word that describes a certain hate crime against (mostly) women, and it shouldn’t be used in any other way.

  55. raya
    raya October 17, 2011 at 6:46 pm |

    raya:

    So, it’s not okay to compare people making creepy pics of you without your consent to rape because rape is just the worst thing that could ever happen to anyone.

    Uh, that should have been a double negation… As in, the reason it’s not comparable is not because rape = worst thing ever for everone. My English kind of sucks.

  56. EG
    EG October 17, 2011 at 6:59 pm |

    I don’t think, though, that we have to think that rape is the worst thing that could ever happen to anybody in order to think that rape is much worse than an unpleasant photo shoot or being unexpectedly photographed by paparazzi.

  57. raya
    raya October 17, 2011 at 7:10 pm |

    EG: I don’t think, though, that we have to think that rape is the worst thing that could ever happen to anybody in order to think that rape is much worse than an unpleasant photo shoot or being unexpectedly photographed by paparazzi.

    Of course. I just think it makes a lot of people uncomfortable when the notion that rape is the worst thing that could ever happen to someone is constantly brought up in discussions like these.

  58. lyn
    lyn October 17, 2011 at 7:23 pm |

    With the rape is rape and nothing else is really comparable, I too worry that that participates in the idea that rape is a terrible terrible thing that exists in some island far away from other kinds of violations of bodily autonomy. But, this patriarchal logic exists alongside the really a bit contradictory logic that rape isn’t really a problem except for in very specific (and preferably hypothetical) circumstances and shouldn’t be taken seriously – which is I think the logic the OP is dealing with.

    Seriously, if patriarchal thought actually made any freaking sense, it’d be much easier to critique.

  59. EG
    EG October 17, 2011 at 9:39 pm |

    Absolutely, raya. It’s an excellent point–the idea that rape is “the fate worse than death” is a deeply patriarchal one, and one that we should not perpetuate. I see why it happens, because so much patriarchal rhetoric is about how it ain’t no big thing when some guy sticks his dick in you when you don’t want it (unless you’re white and he’s black, and he’s a total stranger, and he attacks you in broad daylight while you’re wearing a baggy turtleneck sweater and an ankle length skirt that doesn’t show any body curve, and he threatens you with a gun, and he beats you up, and there are several witnesses, and you don’t suffer from any mental illnesses, and you’ve never had a drink or tried any illegal drugs, in which case you are allowed, nay, encouraged to become suicidal, recovering only after turning to Christ for comfort).

    But it would be good for us to focus on the resilience of women who have been the targets of sexual violence as well as the way they have suffered, and to emphasize that women react in a variety of ways to sexual violence, just as we do to other trauma, and that no one reaction is “correct.”

    I do think that “rape” should not be used metaphorically for the same reason that “lynch” should not be used metaphorically, because they, with rare exceptions, denote hate crimes committed by members of dominant groups against members of subordinated/oppressed groups.

  60. Li
    Li October 18, 2011 at 5:57 am |

    Like GinnyC, I have mixed feelings about commenting here, and for similar reasons. Not because rape metaphors aren’t hugely problematic for a whole bunch of reasons, but because violations of consent exist on a fairly wide spectrum. I’ve run and/or participated in a large number of consent workshops with queer university students, and people having photos taken without their permission (note: not the same as a photoshoot, but defs paparazzi) is routinely raised within those workshops. It’s also something that is overwhelmingly raised by women and gender diverse people. Outside of the context of celebrities (and even within it) I think non-consensual photography is often really gendered and definitely a violation of boundaries that I think is indicative of a culture that fails to value consent and bodily autonomy. It’s not something I particularly really thought about until it kept coming up as an issue within my anti-sexual assault practice, but it’s there, and while it doesn’t make rape metaphors ok, it does inform how I see Kristen Stewart’s comment much more sympathetically than I do, for instance, the rape metaphors that pop up constantly within gamer culture.

  61. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. October 18, 2011 at 7:42 am |

    Esti: Johnny Depp apologized about 24 hours later: http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-31749_162-20116289-10391698.htmlKristen Stewart did the same shortly after her comment: http://www.people.com/people/package/article/0,,20316279_20391187,00.html

    I’m glad to hear they apologized. That’s something I wouldn’t have expected given how prevalent rape as metaphor is in western culture.

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