I am also not picky about what I watch. I am always on the chase of a new show, a new character, a new reality. They provide me with the taste of a new person and introduce the possibility of a whole new show manifesting a novel facet of these uninteresting people’s existence. I am certain that if you start with one show, you will be able to connect it with all other reality shows. Vanderpump Rules leads to Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, Dr. 90210, the multitude of Paris Hilton creations, Dancing with the Stars, Millionaire Matchmaker, the Kardashian empire and there the feelers really begin to spread out. Creating a web of these connections looks like one of those hookup webs I was terrified of in college. The pleasure gained from following the course scripted out by my metaphorical feeder fetishists feels the same. And, of course, this coherentist web of reality strengthens our bonds with each show. I love Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, so I will love Vanderpump Rules. It is a perversion of that age-old saying, “any friend of yours is a friend of mine.” I have put my trust into them. But, like all good narcotized viewers, I have my favorites. I do not want my shows to seem too manicured. I want the illusion of the gritty day-to-day. Competition is for sporting events, not for my stories. The Real Housewives, Vanderpump Rules, Keeping Up with the Kardashians, the more alienating the women, the more likely I will love it. To my friends, I say I study the shows, absolving myself of the complicit nature of the viewer, distancing myself from narrative. But, I study reality television because I love it. The chicken came before the egg.
The experience of reality television leaves the viewer closer to the characters than in other narrative forms. These shows combine fantasy, fiction, alienation and reality in a way that makes it impossible for the viewer to disassociate. The characters are real humans; and, no matter how crafted their existence may seem, they elicit empathy. No matter how much we hate the characters, they are still in some way real. That which happens on the show affects their real lives. When the viewer exits the experience, this character cannot. The event temporally still exists within their personal histories. Unlike us though, they have the opportunity to re-film the event. If they didn’t like how they looked and reacted during their marriage proposal, like Kim Kardashian, the producers will allow them to reshoot and relive the experience for a limited time only. They have the opportunity to manicure their lives in a manner we mere mortals will never be able to access. So, when we watch the curated, infinitely manifold and yet concrete version of their lives in the shows, the impact is much more real. A child on Toddlers and Tiaras not only lives the horror during that one day, but a moment in their immaterial existence will be replayed on Netflix time and again. They decide, we observe, and therefore they are. The odds were always stacked against me. I never had a chance. I am really just trying to absolve myself of my own guilt here.
As a feminist, I believed I was somehow above these shows. I could view independent of the narrative. I felt somehow removed. I was not the standard viewer- I could not be affected by their portrayals. Sexism is in the interpretation. There is no such thing as sexism inherent in an object, so in my logic, being an anti-sexist viewer must mean I am more critical of the material and therefore be able to float above it, neutrally observing. This was not true. My trust in my analytic and critical ability was my tragic flaw. I was too comfortable. I was blindly led to the slaughter. On the surface, these shows seem to offer up a simple sexist portrayal of femininity. These insidious representations led me astray from the path of righteousness. Due to my self-determined knowledge of gender politics, I thought these shows could not touch my perceptions of gender, and in fact were just reinforcing my belief that there existed a group of women who need my help in their liberation. But these shows offer up moments of relatable humanity, collaborating with us and then in the next scene denying this collaboration and alienating us from femininity. Reality television stands in the way of accepting female agency and choice by demanding we associate femininity and housewifery with these alien apparitions. And, not only do we alienate this female identity, but we reinforce our own self-hatred and self-fear through the collaboration. The circular argument concerning whether to treat female choice, such as to be a stay at home mom, as a result of sexist socialization or an empowered decision is polarized and reinforced in the act of viewing. I watch and believe these women to be the result of a society of sexist expectations. These shows suggest femininity and the choice to be a stay-at-home mom are immediate grounds to remove an individual’s agency.
During an episode of Real Housewives of Miami, aptly titled “Surrounded by Hot Water”, I realized I was not getting away with it anymore. Long and tearful conversations about the pains of infertility, silly pillow fights, relatable moments of drinking with the girls provided plentiful points of entry into the whirlwind world of the housewives. I couldn’t help but care when Karant’s father was hospitalized. Aware of the condition of reality television, Karant points out that “This is the real stuff.” And yes, in these real moments I related to the women. I was hooked lined and sinkered. But then came the alienation. I had just seen myself in them and there they were, riding around Bimini in a golf cart, grotesquely joking about 20 carat diamonds, screaming obscenities at one another, demanding that they are going to show their tits, no you should show your tits, okay they’d show their tits. I felt left behind. I felt like I was once again in my middle school’s gym locker room desperately trying to hide from the mean popular girls. Why didn’t I leave them there, alone in that clam shack in Bimini, making fun of the classless, objectifying themselves and alienating each other? Because of the collaboration sandwiches they made for me. During arguments, such as the clam shack debacle, the viewer is allowed to see disarmingly relatable moments, such as the women eating the unappetizing aphrodisiac conch pistle, while giggling and lightly teasing each other. Unlike the rest of the show, these few minutes are truly a delight to the senses. They are human. They are just like us. Even during the now-typical violent verbal arguments, the show cuts to these women, brightly lit and sober faced, rationally discussing how “Lea’s reached her limit,” and that she should “fight her own battle.” The arguments are contextualized to be relatable and usually end with either promise of a rematch or an overdramatic renewal of their vow of sisterhood (that are always followed by one of the women declaring the vow to be a farce.) They are human and I hate them. They are human and I relate to them. We are forced to be modest witnesses of the reality of femininity or at least the reality television of femininity.
anonymous asked: Yo, a Canadian court is forcing a woman who was sexually assaulted to remove her niqab in front of her rapist in order to testify that she was sexually assaulted. I’m not asking if this is racist this is more in the way of a PSA: Americans, we’re probably just as racist as you, if not more
For real, nothing more important than the rights of a rapist, right????
I found a sticky note with these dreams from over a year ago
-genderless witchcraft- killed girlfriend during non sexual moment.
-went to church- new young minister
coletti needed help with children- bus ride to a craft place for ccd.
-started to date *****
-I started to lactate in a dressing room- asked for mom’s help, she comes in then leaves.
-In Harvard yard watching some shakespeare interpretations keep walking by one skit done by the porcelian club- make eye contact with one of the guys constantly go to the bathroom- give a begrudging quote to vogue after the other girls I’m with say no.
Go into the bathroom- almost pee in the sink
-Supposed to go to the gym with Yuliya, we first go to a restaurant even though I don’t have my wallet. I look up at the wall, and above the menu there’s a photo of *****, I ask who knows him and this older man comes out. He takes credit for helping *****. we sit down and talk of him but also spivak, another name on the wall. He calls spivak a man. Yuliya flips out about leaving. We leave and pick up my wallet and the boys and two other women. We go to a hotel gym. They start to run, I can’t keep up. They finally make it into an elevator. I have no idea which floor the gym is on. The hotel is the same hotel as my prom. I leave, vowing that I’ll take a run.
***** dies, feel the need to contact everyone
-talked to honey bottle
-dancing with hannah- hannah is far away, saturday night fever soundtrack comes on and we approach each other slowly
Since the Steubenville verdict was read and the subsequent victim-blaming media coverage exploded, I have been asked by many friends and acquaintances whether or not I am happy. Inherent in this question is whether or not I am happy society has moved forward enough that a woman can get her just deserts in court. I nod quietly and change the subject as quickly as possible and here’s why. I am pissed. Foremost, I am pissed at the rapists. But, I am also pissed at the followers of this story, I am pissed at the news coverage, at the football team, at rape culture, but most of all, I am pissed how we are trying to absolve ourselves of guilt here, proving to ourselves that our society is evolved enough that we can put these monsters in jail. There have been comparisons to Abu Ghraib due to the photo evidence and the masochistic glee of the rapists, but the similarity does not end there. There is a joy in putting these men away, and I am fearful that nothing has changed. That, instead, these men will be treated as a few bad apples instead of representatives of our culture. This case is not the first famous rape case where the perpetrators were found guilty. We seem to have these sensationalist, almost fetishized stories every few years to quiet ourselves, show that we are doing something, putting these men away, making progress. We should not be congratulating ourselves on that. This cultural validation we purport to have is in the articles that house the images of the woman. The smudged face, her anonymity giving a new meaning to the term faceless victim. She has become a representative of the millions of women worldwide who are raped and who are never able speak. Yet, she did not ask for this and every time we see these photos and read those tweets we are participating in her assault. The assault was not just the rape, but also the virtual penetration, as the court called it, of her person and image and we continue to perpetrate it, reliving her night. We are fulfilling the rapists’ intentions, extending her humiliation and assault. We have sacrificed her for a news story and our own cultural validation. Our visual participation is in trade for the recognition that we live in a society where rape happens and self-congratulation that we can and have done something about it! It’s sad that we need those images.
“What I would like to do is to scream: and in that scream I would have the screams of the raped, and the sobs of the battered; and even worse, in the center of that scream I would have the deafening sound of women’s silence, that silence into which we are born because we are women and in which most of us die.”
1) Never trust a man who orders you oysters.
2) Do not drink.
3) Rule two is impossible.
4) So, only ever drink vodka sodas in front of a man
5) You don’t like vodka? You are no grandchild of mine.
6) Fine, only drink clear beverages.
7) At most two
8) Maybe three
9) Never eat pizza in front of him, even after marriage.
10) I assure you, there will be no mystery after that.
11) If he ever compliments your eyes, close them immediately and ask him what color they are.
12) If he doesn’t know the answer, he is only trying to sleep with you.
13) Proceed with caution.
14) If he buys you an expensive gift, reject it three times.
15) When you don’t reject it, you’ll seem like a poulet.
16) If you don’t reject it enough, he’ll think you owe him something.
17) When you do accept it, act like you’re doing him a favor.
That’s all I can remember right now- you’re welcome!
Daily effects of white privilege by Peggy McIntosh
1. I can if I wish arrange to be in the company of people of my race most of the time.
2. I can avoid spending time with people whom I was trained to mistrust and who have learned to mistrust my kind or me.
3. If I should need to move, I can be pretty sure of renting or purchasing housing in an area which I can afford and in which I would want to live.
4. I can be pretty sure that my neighbors in such a location will be neutral or pleasant to me.
5. I can go shopping alone most of the time, pretty well assured that I will not be followed or harassed.
6. I can turn on the television or open to the front page of the paper and see people of my race widely represented.
7. When I am told about our national heritage or about “civilization,” I am shown that people of my color made it what it is.
8. I can be sure that my children will be given curricular materials that testify to the existence of their race.
9. If I want to, I can be pretty sure of finding a publisher for this piece on white privilege.
10. I can be pretty sure of having my voice heard in a group in which I am the only member of my race.
11. I can be casual about whether or not to listen to another person’s voice in a group in which s/he is the only member of his/her race.
12. I can go into a music shop and count on finding the music of my race represented, into a supermarket and find the staple foods which fit with my cultural traditions, into a hairdresser’s shop and find someone who can cut my hair.
13. Whether I use checks, credit cards or cash, I can count on my skin color not to work against the appearance of financial reliability.
14. I can arrange to protect my children most of the time from people who might not like them.
15. I do not have to educate my children to be aware of systemic racism for their own daily physical protection.
16. I can be pretty sure that my children’s teachers and employers will tolerate them if they fit school and workplace norms; my chief worries about them do not concern others’ attitudes toward their race.
17. I can talk with my mouth full and not have people put this down to my color.
18. I can swear, or dress in second hand clothes, or not answer letters, without having people attribute these choices to the bad morals, the poverty or the illiteracy of my race.
19. I can speak in public to a powerful male group without putting my race on trial.
20. I can do well in a challenging situation without being called a credit to my race.
21. I am never asked to speak for all the people of my racial group.
22. I can remain oblivious of the language and customs of persons of color who constitute the world’s majority without feeling in my culture any penalty for such oblivion.
23. I can criticize our government and talk about how much I fear its policies and behavior without being seen as a cultural outsider.
24. I can be pretty sure that if I ask to talk to the “person in charge”, I will be facing a person of my race.
25. If a traffic cop pulls me over or if the IRS audits my tax return, I can be sure I haven’t been singled out because of my race.
26. I can easily buy posters, post-cards, picture books, greeting cards, dolls, toys and children’s magazines featuring people of my race.
27. I can go home from most meetings of organizations I belong to feeling somewhat tied in, rather than isolated, out-of-place, outnumbered, unheard, held at a distance or feared.
28. I can be pretty sure that an argument with a colleague of another race is more likely to jeopardize her/his chances for advancement than to jeopardize mine.
29. I can be pretty sure that if I argue for the promotion of a person of another race, or a program centering on race, this is not likely to cost me heavily within my present setting, even if my colleagues disagree with me.
30. If I declare there is a racial issue at hand, or there isn’t a racial issue at hand, my race will lend me more credibility for either position than a person of color will have.
31. I can choose to ignore developments in minority writing and minority activist programs, or disparage them, or learn from them, but in any case, I can find ways to be more or less protected from negative consequences of any of these choices.
32. My culture gives me little fear about ignoring the perspectives and powers of people of other races.
33. I am not made acutely aware that my shape, bearing or body odor will be taken as a reflection on my race.
34. I can worry about racism without being seen as self-interested or self-seeking.
35. I can take a job with an affirmative action employer without having my co-workers on the job suspect that I got it because of my race.
36. If my day, week or year is going badly, I need not ask of each negative episode or situation whether it had racial overtones.
37. I can be pretty sure of finding people who would be willing to talk with me and advise me about my next steps, professionally.
38. I can think over many options, social, political, imaginative or professional, without asking whether a person of my race would be accepted or allowed to do what I want to do.
39. I can be late to a meeting without having the lateness reflect on my race.
40. I can choose public accommodation without fearing that people of my race cannot get in or will be mistreated in the places I have chosen.
41. I can be sure that if I need legal or medical help, my race will not work against me.
42. I can arrange my activities so that I will never have to experience feelings of rejection owing to my race.
43. If I have low credibility as a leader I can be sure that my race is not the problem.
44. I can easily find academic courses and institutions which give attention only to people of my race.
45. I can expect figurative language and imagery in all of the arts to testify to experiences of my race.
46. I can chose blemish cover or bandages in “flesh” color and have them more or less match my skin.
47. I can travel alone or with my spouse without expecting embarrassment or hostility in those who deal with us.
48. I have no difficulty finding neighborhoods where people approve of our household.
49. My children are given texts and classes which implicitly support our kind of family unit and do not turn them against my choice of domestic partnership.
50. I will feel welcomed and “normal” in the usual walks of public life, institutional and social.
First having read the book of myths,
and loaded the camera,
and checked the edge of the knife-blade,
I put on
the body-armor of black rubber
the absurd flippers
the grave and awkward mask.
I am having to do this
not like Cousteau with his
aboard the sun-flooded schooner
but here alone.
There is a ladder.
The ladder is always there
close to the side of the schooner.
We know what it is for,
we who have used it.
it is a piece of maritime floss
some sundry equipment.
I go down.
Rung after rung and still
the oxygen immerses me
the blue light
the clear atoms
of our human air.
I go down.
My flippers cripple me,
I crawl like an insect down the ladder
and there is no one
to tell me when the ocean
First the air is blue and then
it is bluer and then green and then
black I am blacking out and yet
my mask is powerful
it pumps my blood with power
the sea is another story
the sea is not a question of power
I have to learn alone
to turn my body without force
in the deep element.
And now: it is easy to forget
what I came for
among so many who have always
swaying their crenellated fans
between the reefs
you breathe differently down here.
I came to explore the wreck.
The words are purposes.
The words are maps.
I came to see the damage that was done
and the treasures that prevail.
I stroke the beam of my lamp
slowly along the flank
of something more permanent
than fish or weed
the thing I came for:
the wreck and not the story of the wreck
the thing itself and not the myth
the drowned face always staring
toward the sun
the evidence of damage
worn by salt and sway into this threadbare beauty
the ribs of the disaster
curving their assertion
among the tentative haunters.
This is the place.
And I am here, the mermaid whose dark hair
streams black, the merman in his armored body.
We circle silently
about the wreck
we dive into the hold.
I am she: I am he
whose drowned face sleeps with open eyes
whose breasts still bear the stress
whose silver, copper, vermeil cargo lies
obscurely inside barrels
half-wedged and left to rot
we are the half-destroyed instruments
that once held to a course
the water-eaten log
the fouled compass
We are, I am, you are
by cowardice or courage
the one who find our way
back to this scene
carrying a knife, a camera
a book of myths
our names do not appear.
“I am writing such poems – allegorical – philosophical – poetical – ethical – synthetically arranged! I am in a fit of writing – could write all day & night – and long to live by myself for three months in a forest of chestnuts & cedars, in an hourly succession of poetical paragraphs & morphine draughts.”—Elizabeth Barrett Browning