This morning I was reading A Feast for Crows and came across a passage in which a strong female character expresses her anxiety at the constant threat of rape. I posted it on social media with the hashtag #YesAllWomen—not as a joke, really. I only meant to point out the passage’s relevance to the current cultural conversation, somewhat in appreciation of the way Martin was tuned into these issues a decade ago.
Rape as depicted in Game of Thrones is much more glaring and sensationalized than the more subtle (and therefore more challenging) elements of rape culture in our society, but I still found it interesting that this little piece of pop culture could flesh out a realistic-sounding experience—especially for a character as nonsexualized as Brienne. (I guess the fact that Brienne is so emphatically nonsexualized is problematic in its own way. But still.)
Anyway, I took the post down because I realized that even though it’s related to #YesAllWomen, it isn’t actually relevant. My post wasn’t meant to be snarky, but just by making the connection to something fictional, it undercuts the entire point of the movement. The point of #YesAllWomen is to open our minds to the reality we continually write off as fiction. Like #NotAllMen or Twitter trolls, the voice of a fictional character—one that lacks the real, exhausting experiences of everyday life—only serves to muddle the discussion. So, I’m sorry.
(I also probably should’ve considered the fact that Martin has deliberately crafted a world in which rape is a constant fear. Does such a world actually shed light on our own, or is it just as troubling that rape is used as a de facto bad-guy vice for our entertainment?)
(Also, I’m a man. That hashtag doesn’t belong to me.)
Earlier this year, I was on the radio describing incidents of street harassment. I mentioned that it happened to me more when I was younger, when I appeared more vulnerable, when these predators felt more comfortable trying to violate my body. A part of me felt confident, as if…
Here’s a heartbreaking #YesAllWomen story that hits close to home.
I spent much of my weekend following two particular stories on the Internet:
1. The way much of the Men’s Rights subreddit has tried to distance itself from Elliot Rodger’s worldview. In their trademark weird, twisted brand of cognitive dissonance, many said that he couldn’t possibly have been a misogynist—or rather, a men’s rights activist—because “four out of the six victims were men.”
2. The #YesAllWomen hashtag. I’ve just been reading tweets periodically, staying quiet as a listen, because I don’t really have any personal experiences that can add to the conversation. All I can do is listen and trust that I’m thinking about this issues in a positive way.
At any rate, this isn’t about me. Read Brittany’s post.
While I was reading it, I thought, “Was no one else on that train? What if I was?” and it made me sad to think what kinds of things I could resort to—or fail to resort to—as a bystander, just rolling my eyes at Reddit’s ignorant misogyny and peeking passively at Twitter hashtags, instead of an active ally. But that’s not really the point, is it?
After this weekend, I think I’m just a little more aware.
We are all artists with insecurities. If you’re Rob Reiner, don’t make Jurassic Park. Make The Princess Bride. Make When Harry Met Sally. Fuck it, make The Bucket List, who cares. Recognize what your faults are, even mope about it on camera if you want, then focus on your strengths and you just might create something couples watch on Valentine’s Day.