Trigger warning: child sexual abuse, victim blaming/mockery.
Ryan Murphy is the worst.
Last night Glee did an episode where one of boys revealed he was molested when he was 11 by his 17 yr old, female babysitter. He told his trusted glee club mates and in return the older boys (seniors getting ready to graduate and go to college or the workforce) mocked him. They said he should have been glad to get the attention, that any boy would have been and something is wrong with him. They listed 80s movies where this was the goal. They were completely insensitive to his victimization and patriarchal in their socialization of this kid. It was disgusting, but not unrealistic since we know that’s how men are socialized to respond to the idea of unwanted sexual attention from a “hot” girl to a male in a patriarchal society such as ours… they are taught to think they should always want it and to respond favorably or something is wrong with them.
What was horrifying was the total lack of correction. There was no real admonition of their behavior. There was no resolution involving the young men who mocked him. There was no clear “these young men are wrong for saying these things and need to change their ways of thinking because sexual abuse is real regardless of gender and no, boys, you are not expected to like when someone touches you inappropriately or without your permission. Men can be victims of sexual abuse and often are. Your feelings are valid. Your victimhood is real. It doesn’t make you weak. It’s not funny. And if you’re struggling with dealing with it, there are resources”. (In fact, immediately after the rebuff from his friends and older models of maleness, the character was compelled to retract any acknowledged feelings of victimhood or displeasure with being molested by a young woman and pretend like he was just being ridiculous. They actually made him high five the seniors and say “I was lucky”.)
Instead, we were treated with another student (female) telling him in private that she too was molested, then subsequently bullied into silence. Then they all sang together. All of them. Including the young men who mocked him. That was it. They never apologized. They never realized their egregious error and dearth of compassion and/or tact. They just moved on and led some fun songs and we’ll never hear about it again… and we’ve just further normalized their reaction. We haven’t shown why it was wrong. We haven’t taken a stand against it.
And you’re telling me nobody in control over at Glee had the sense to say “this is wrong; we can’t send this message out to kids”?
Even in the little “if you’re being molested, you’re not alone. call this hotline” PSA at the end, the only two people involved were the two who played the molested characters. They didn’t even take that opportunity to bring in the two guys who played the laughing/mocking/dehumanizing older friends to say “this is not a laughing matter. this isn’t a joke. young boys are sexually abused at the rate of ____. It is very real and no you are not expected to like it. you are not wrong for feeling icky about it”. They never acknowledged that it was wrong to respond the way these young men did. They never allowed young men who had not been victimized to empathize with and support boys who had.
I would like to say I’m shocked at Glee, but I’m not…unfortunately. Glee has had about as much finesse as an SVU writer “not” writing about Chris Brown when it comes to social matters. They’re horrid and that’s nothing new. But I am shocked at the media’s reluctance or complete unwillingness to discuss the level of irresponsibility and general lack of foresight over there.
This is an excerpt from her essay in the Let’s Talk About Names series (I have one too) on Flyover Feminism and Are Women Human? The essay focuses on her experiences with people trying to pronounce her name, race, last name changes and feminism. I love this excerpt. I wrote about something similar recently, in my essay Black Women Do Not Have To Reject Any Mention Of Beauty To Be Womanist/Feminist.
Donating blood is a given (though you should plan to donate to replenish as the hospitals are currently reporting that they are well stocked, but will need more blood later when these stores are depleted)
So, let’s pull together a list for now and the future okay? Okay.
1. Red Cross
8. Boston Cares
Really valuable read for thinking about structural issues around power and labor between different groups of feminists in general, not just re: femfuture alone.
[NOTE: Some edits were made just after publishing. For the final draft, please visit diasporahypertext.com. Please take quotes from there.]
The “#FemFuture: Online Revolution” report was released this week. Organized by Courtney Martin and Vanessa Valenti, and funded in part by Barnard College, the report builds
“….on a 2012 convening where 21 writers, activists, and educators who work in the online feminist landscape came together to discuss their needs, desires, and hopes for the online feminist future. Here they provide a cogent explanation of the power of online organizing, the risks and challenges of the current state of the field, and some possible solutions for creating a more sustainable system.”
Critique of the report was immediate. Following the #FemFuture hashtag, bloggers, activists, educators, and organizers have taken the participants and the report to task for what appears to be U.S.-centric, mainstream, feminist elitism and historical erasure.
I have huge respect and love for a number of the #FemFuture participants. I’ve followed several of them–Brittney Cooper, Ileana Jiménez, Shelby Knox, Andrea Plaid, and Miriam Pérez–for some time and find their intervention online to be unique, refreshing, and necessary. I also find it fascinating that a group with so many perspectives on feminism and different levels of investment in what that word even means was able to gather for the purpose of crafting the report. I applaud Barnard College for supporting it; academic institutions need to take a larger role in supporting, dare I say, sustaining the work that is happening on the ground and online. Educators have a significant part to play in encouraging and supporting feminist thought so I’m not surprised to see so many involved.
I read the report and I appreciate the work that went into it but I wonder about mistakes that may have been made and ways we can move the conversation into a real #FemFuture. I find myself facing the report with, as Charlene Carruthers tweeted, “mixed feelings and mixed loyalties.”
My thoughts are varied but I’ll share a few here. I hope you’ll read it in full but if you need to jump around (or jump ahead and come back), you can follow the anchors: History and the Newness of Things, Uncompensated Labor x Unrequited Love, We Are All in This…Together?, Who Pays for (Online) Feminisms, and Dear Academic Feminists: A Coda on Privilege.
In case it isn’t clear, when I speak of “black feminists” I am using the term in its broadest, gender-neutral, inclusive of all sexualities, diasporic conception. For me, it is a term that describes more than individuals; it describes a set of practices and living in the world.
I also use the term “radical woman of color” as defined in This Bridge Called My Back: Writing by Radical Women of Color, edited by Cherrie Moragá and Gloria Anzaldua,to include non-white radical thinkers and activists in the United States and globally (some prefer the term “Global South” others “Third World”). “Radical woman of color” has been critiqued for the limits it places on gender expression and ways it may elide differences of nation, ethnicity, and race. I, too, am uncomfortable with the way the term circumscribes gender, but find the term useful as a coalition-builder. I also recognize many of the individuals I discuss (myself included) see themselves as radical wom-n of color. There is a longer discussion to be had here (terminology, movements, gender, new generations of rwoc) but for the purpose of this post, I use the acronym (rwoc) as a gender neutral alternative.
History and the Newness of Things
There is a dangerous ignorance in assuming #FemFuture is a first, a start, or new.