Pete Campbell is a rapist. On Sunday night's episode, he met a young au pair living in his building and helped her out of a difficult situation with her employers. He propositioned her; she refused. Later that evening, undeterred, he knocked on her door, forced her to let him in to avoid a scene, followed her into her bedroom, closed the door, and kissed her, leading her towards the bed. Apparently, for some people, this wasn't clearly a rape. I'm here to tell them: it was.
Pete Campbell is a rapist. I've heard some people say that Mad Men is a show about nuance, shades of grey, and therefore Pete Campbell Cannot Be A Rapist. (As if there was no such thing as a rapist in serious, well-developed drama.) I think these people are doing a very superficial read of Mad Men. I don't think the writer or director of this episode was the least bit confused. The au pair is slightly afraid of Pete throughout. She doesn't want him in the apartment. She recoils when he kisses her. That she submits, ultimately, is irrelevant to the question of whether Pete rapes her. She didn't want to sleep with him; she made it clear; he didn't care. He wanted to have sex, and she was there, and she owed him, in his mind. So he raped her. End of story.
Pete Campbell is a rapist. What Mad Men is being subtle about, when it shows us an episode in which a character rapes someone for no reason better than boredom, is the fact rape doesn't just happen in alleys. It doesn't just come from total strangers who leap from bushes. It doesn't involve kicking and screaming and clawing his eyeballs out, because that would only get you in even more trouble.
For whatever inexplicable reason, I started watching Gossip Girl a few weeks ago. Tonight's episode featured Tyra Banks as an actress playing Josephine Baker in a movie. At some point during the episode, it was brought up that Baker was part of the underground Nazi resistance movement during WWII in France, which I did not know about (you can learn something from Gossip Girl, who knew?). Ergo, I give you this week's Adventures In Feministory: Josephine Baker.
The general consensus at the end of Parks and Recreation last season was that the show was a sometimes funny, sometimes not, could be better Office knockoff (which was itself a knockoff). Well, times have changed.
It's a new season for Parks and Recreation, and if you haven't been tuning in yet you are missing out on a giant feminist treat: Deputy Director Leslie Knope. Knope, played by Amy Poehler, has really found her feminist (and hilarious) stride this season, and it is awesome. Check out this clip from last week's episode, wherein Knope judged a local beauty pageant and tried, in vain, to champion a "not hot" candidate:
From the reader mailbag: Can you please talk about sex while you're on your period? Should I be offended if my boyfriend would rather not? Shouldn't he be willing to accept my body no matter which phase of the moon it is?
Well, this is one we've all dealt with many, many times, right?*
I think responses to menstrual blood vary widely. I personally have no problem getting busy during my period--throw down a towel to preserve the sheets, and I'm good to go. I was lucky that my first serious boyfriend was completely unfazed by my period, so I didn't get any negative messages about it early on. I've had a few guys say "No thanks, I'll wait," and I just took it in stride. Everyone should be able to say no to sex if there's something about it that makes them uncomfortable, including mensturation. While that was occasionally (sexually) frustrating, it wasn't a big deal. And plenty of men don't mind at all, especially since I use condoms pretty much 100% of the time, so it's not like he actually comes nto contact with the blood anyway.
Where I did have problems was on the very rare occasion I got an "Eww, gross!" response. Those men received the Feminist Lecture Series about how my vagina does not exist solely for their pleasure--it's part of my reproductive system, and if they couldn't handle that, they could get the fuck out.
Sister Spit: the Next Generation just started their Fall '09 tour! This year's tour features Ben McCoy, Kirya Traber, Sara Seinberg, Ariel Schrag, Beth Lisick, Rhiannon Argo, and of course, Sister Spit and RADAR founder Michelle Tea.
Other than Jon, by and large, I have never been much of a watcher of late-night TV. This is no doubt a function of my demographic. I'm too young - I grew up post-Carson. I'm also entirely too cynical to enjoy most celebrity interviews, because much of the time I'm thinking, "It's really bizarre that Kirsten Dunst is this inarticulate," or, "Why hasn't Jared Leto showered?" There are too many books in the world to read, too many blogs to surf, too much sleep to be gotten for me to watch these people night after night, even in the age of the DVR. And I've written in this space before about my suspicion that there isn't any grand standard of comedy anymore, and it seems to me like the non-Comedy-Central contingent of these shows still seem to harbour delusions on that score, of being the Great American Comedian, and so I just kind of tune them out.
So when this hullabaloo about David Letterman getting his pecker in his payroll started to kick up on Friday, readers, I yawned. Having spewed venom all week over Roman Polanski and his defenders (Pedro, why, why??!!!), I was worn out. Besides which, other than the extortion part, there seemed very little scandal in this scandal; the ladies involved were of age, and none appeared to be claiming coercion. I'm not wild about professional men viewing nubile young women in the workplace as their rightful spoils, but I've been in enough exhausting conversations with male friends about such situations ("why do you want to Stand In the Way of Love?") to know better than to spend much time arguing with them about it. I suppose Regina Lasko, Letterman's longtime girlfriend, feels somewhat differently about it, but I can't see how I or anyone else can be of use to her if we take to the soapbox to pontificate at length about just what a horndog she's married.
You know what I totally appreciate? Being called out when I am stupid! An exciting incidence of this occurred recently, on my Madonna post, where commenter Crys T notes:
OK, on this point, I get why you're happy to have Madonna around. But it would be nice to see more recognition on the part of Anglo-American feminists on Madonna's extensive history of cultural appropriation. It's not just that she now buys African children (though even I never thought she'd become that monstrous), it's a very long history of exploiting, offending and therefore harming people from cultures that don't have much of a voice in the English-speaking world.
Which is a darn solid point! In that post, I made reference to Madonna's history of cultural appropriation, and that it gave me "serious pause." And then I just kind of breezed on by it like it was no big thing! Because apparently that was the day that I decided to be gross and obviously privileged, SORRY. Madonna's appropriation of other cultures definitely deserves to be addressed and critiqued at length, in its own post. A post such as this one, right here!