Dexter is entering its final season and that means soon we’ll have to say goodbye to TV’s favorite serial killer. The show is such a hit because its plot is unique. Instead of recycling the standard detective-chases-bad guy trope, the show’s writers gave us the righteous anti-hero Dexter, a serial killer who only kills other serial killers and evildoers who deserve to die.
I played a lot of MASH as a child and adolescent. MASH, if you’re not familiar, is a game in which you draw a swirl on a piece of paper and from that, extrapolate your entire adult existence. It decides important things for you, like where you’ll live (Mansion, Apartment, Shack, House), what kind of car you’ll have, and who you’ll marry. In the version I played with my female friends, we included not just options for people (dudes) we’d marry, but also where the wedding would be, and how many bridesmaids we would have (everyone in the game always had to be chosen as bridesmaids, in order to avoid strife and awkwardness.)
Now that I have begun to take notice of this trend, it makes me tile-scrubbingly angry. Why is it that in television commercials for cleaning products, women are still doing all the work? We’re still the only ones trailing our fingers ruefully over dusty tabletops, fretting over grass stains on soccer uniforms, and grimacing through smudged windows. Just once, I’d like to turn on the TV and see a man drying his hands complacently on a dishtowel after washing a sink full of dishes. Am I dreaming too big here?
I might not remember what it felt like learning that I had passed my black belt test, but I do remember the first time my instructor asked me whether I had the ‘hots’ for another student.
I told him I didn’t want to discuss it. So he put me in a headlock so that I couldn’t breathe and told me that good Tae Kwon Do students always do what “teacher” says. When he released me, I said, “Yes, sir.”
I was twelve years old.
I was a good student.
My story is rarely told but depressingly common. Studies of female athletes indicate appallingly high rates of bullying, sexual harassment, and physical, sexual, and psychological abuse at the hands of (usually male) coaches. The problem starts in local pick-up leagues and reaches its grimy hands into elite international competition. Some studies even suggest that the higher one climbs in the sports world, the worse the problems get.
In August of 2008, I became pregnant with what I thought would be my second child. A few weeks later, I lay on a table in a darkened room in my OB-GYN’s office while a sympathetic ultrasound technician shook her head sadly and said, “I’m sorry, but I can’t find a heartbeat.” A few hours after that, I was in an operating room having a D&C, having chosen, on the very good advice of my doctor, to get it over with sooner rather than later. A few months later I peed on a stick and saw two pink lines, and my miscarriage was largely forgotten.
I cried in the shower this morning, same as yesterday, and the day before. I’m hurt. Badly bruised by your words. I know your words weren’t intended to wound me, but they did.
Some people find it difficult to understand why immigration reform would be considered a feminist issue, but feminism and other human rights efforts are not mutually exclusive. Feminism is about fighting against inequality, exploitation, violence and ignorance, and the fight for one marginalized group is not so different from another. Thus, feminists should come out in support for immigration reform.
My father is an odd fellow, one not reflected in most Father’s Day cards. He rarely watches sports, would never buy a sports car, hates golf due to working as a caddy in his teens, and doesn’t wear ties. While he loves his tools and is constantly reconstructing our family home, it’s not because of any need to display masculinity. He does it because he worships my mother and wants her to have anything he can create. It’s a bit of selflessness that is rarely reflected in mainstream media, and appreciated or expected of men – especially towards their partners and the world around them.
1) Don’t say anything at all.
Too often we are led to believe that work must be something separate from pleasure: that we are to do what we love on the side, in our spare time; that pleasure is an extra-curricular activity, a hobby, a side gig. As if only a privileged few are supposed to do work that is fulfilling and passion-driven. As if pleasure is a luxury, not a necessity.
Know: these are lies.
[Trigger warning for domestic violence]
These good people, these people whom, albeit in different industries and capacities, are each individually working to make the future a better place than the present, do nothing. They, of relative privilege, watch the aforementioned horror unfold. Some are stunned. Some don’t notice. Some shake their heads. It’s a shame, they think. It’s fucked up, they think. It makes my blood boil, they think. But they do nothing. They hold their girlfriends tighter. They back their friends away from the scene. They try to break their stares. They go get more drinks. These are good people. But they do nothing. They are silent.
A few try. Three university age young women try. They do as their friends tell them. Go get security, they say. But security does nothing. This is between a husband and a wife, they say. Please go back inside, they say. The young women beg their friends and the bar security to do something. They do nothing. Get away from the car, they say. There is nothing you can do, they say. You’re going to get hurt, they say. You’re being irrational, they say. It’s not our fight, they say.
If there had been laws to protect me from his actions—laws that forbade the use of deception and manipulation to lure someone into dangerous and unwanted sexual situations—perhaps this wouldn’t have happened to me. At the very least, if it had happened, I would have had some legal recourse. As it stands, there is no prosecutorial action I can take regarding his loathsome behavior in the state of Virginia—and I’m not sure I could take such action anywhere else, either. But we can’t let the subtlety of this issue of consent confuse us from recognizing it as the violation it most certainly is. If someone were to ask William*, even now, if I would have consented to sex with him had I known the truth, his answer would be an unequivocal, “No.” He knew it then, just as he knows it now: He was having sex with me against my will.
People lie all the time. There is no law against it. But lying becomes criminal when it is used to coerce others into sexual acts. “Why is deception tolerated in the context of sex? What protection does society provide to a person’s sexual integrity…? It is time to remove deception from the realm of sexual interaction in American society. Its tolerance promotes an unseemly status quo in our social fabric that denigrates the most intimate of relationships” (Decker and Baroni, 2012, p. 1167-1168).