5 Amazing Scenes Where Pop Culture Got Consent Right

brad-pitt-shirtless-in-cowboy-hat-holding-hair-dryer-thelma-louise

Pop culture often promotes some lousy ideas about consent. Persistence and not taking no for an answer are portrayed as romantic; rape and sexual assault are excused because the victim “wanted it“; lying and manipulating people into bed, and having sex with people too drunk to consent, are offered as light, prime-time humor; rape victims stay friends and lovers with their rapists, with rape being trivialized and even denied.

But pop culture does have its moments. Whether it’s because the creators were thinking consciously about consent or simply had good values, here are five times pop culture got consent right. (Spoilers for Steven Universe, Thelma and Louise, Frozen, The Philadelphia Story, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.)

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Thus begins my latest piece for AlterNet, 5 Amazing Scenes Where Pop Culture Got Consent Right. To read more, read the rest of the piece. Enjoy! (Please note: AlterNet changed the title, and the title they gave it is somewhat misleading: not all the scenes are sex scenes, and not all of them are exactly right.)

5 Amazing Scenes Where Pop Culture Got Consent Right
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A Reason to Vote for Clinton: Reproductive Rights

Hillary Clinton

I’d been working on a piece about reasons to vote for Clinton, but it was becoming huge and unmanageable. So I’m breaking it down into bite-sized morsels.

Here’s a reason to vote for Clinton: reproductive rights. Clinton isn’t just more pro-choice than Trump. She’s more pro-choice than any major-party Presidential nominee in decades. She’s pushing to stop Republicans from defunding Planned Parenthood. She’s said she wants Planned Parenthood to get more funding. She understands the role that income and poverty play in this issue, saying that “low-income women deserve health care” and “a right without the opportunity to exercise it isn’t a right.” Very importantly, she’s pushing for repeal of the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits federal funding for abortions — something she did without being prompted, and something no other major-party Presidential nominee has done since the amendment was enacted.

And she hasn’t been shy about any of this. Her record on reproductive rights has been well-established for years, it’s full-throated, and it’s front and center in her campaign. Planned Parenthood Action Fund President Cecile Richards even spoke at the Democratic National Convention. (Here’s a run-down of Clinton’s positions and record on reproductive rights.) Continue reading “A Reason to Vote for Clinton: Reproductive Rights”

A Reason to Vote for Clinton: Reproductive Rights

Hillary Clinton Nominated

Hillary Clinton

This has been a difficult primary, with inspiring things and shitty things on both sides. But I’m going to take a moment and be weepy and proud at the historic nomination of Hillary Clinton, the first woman to be nominated as a major party Presidential candidate.

(Hillary haters: please, don’t post it here. There’s plenty of other places, and there will be lots of other times. Thanks.)

Hillary Clinton Nominated

10 Pop Culture Characters Who Stayed Friends or Lovers With Their Rapists

Vivien Leigh as Scarlett O Hara in Gone with the Wind

“Well, sure, he raped her. But it’s not a big deal. Rape, shmape. All friendships and relationships have their ups and downs. They can still be friends, or get married. Heck, maybe the rape could be the start of a beautiful love story.”

Does this sound like an absurdist attempt at ghoulish humor? It’s not. This trope is all over pop culture, and has been for decades. In some stories, rapes happen while characters are friends, lovers, or married, and the relationship goes on as if little or nothing happened. In others, rapes are the beginning of a happy relationship.

Here are 10 characters in pop culture who voluntarily stayed friends, lovers, colleagues, or spouses with the people who raped or tried to rape them.

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Thus begins my latest piece for AlterNet, 10 Pop Culture Characters Who Stayed Friends or Lovers With Their Rapists. To read more, read the rest of the piece.

10 Pop Culture Characters Who Stayed Friends or Lovers With Their Rapists

“I’m Not Being Sexist Or Racist! You’re Defining The Word Wrong!”

dictionary photo

Content note: sexism, racism, other systems of oppression, gaslighting, passing use of racist and sexist language

Tl;dr: Rejecting the definitions of sexism and racism don’t make them disappear.

“I’m not being sexist or racist! My friend isn’t being sexist or racist! That person I admire isn’t being sexist or racist! Sexism and racism means being consciously, deliberately bigoted. It means consciously believing that women or people of color are inferior. I don’t care how the words are defined by the thousands of researchers who have been studying this for decades — I looked the words up in a dictionary, and that makes me an expert. So stop saying we did something sexist or racist unintentionally, that our stubborn refusal to listen to women and people of color is sexist or racist, or that there are systems of oppression we’re perpetuating and participating in. You’re only sexist or racist if you openly say you are!”

When we talk about sexism, racism, and other isms, we hear this stuff a lot. It’s been coming up a lot in the shitty defenses of TJ Kirk, a.k.a. the self-styled “Amazing Atheist” (see Martin Hughes’ extraordinary takedowns for context). There are lots of arguments against it: I could rattle off a bunch in my sleep. But there are times when I want to throw up my hands and say, “Fine.

“Let’s concede the terminology. For the sake of argument, let’s say the words ‘sexism,’ ‘racism,’ ‘classism,’ ‘ableism,’ etc., only mean conscious bigotry and oppression. And let’s give another name to that other stuff. Let’s give another name to unconscious bias, to systems of oppression, to the stubborn refusal to acknowledge them. Let’s give another name to people who deny that they’re sexist and call women cunts; to people who deny that they’re racists and call African-Americans lazy thugs. Let’s call it (goes to random nonsense word generator, hits ‘refresh’ until she finds a word she likes) grimprom. Strenaviction. Yurity, Ooo, ‘yurity.’ I like that.

“Can we now have a conversation about yurity? Continue reading ““I’m Not Being Sexist Or Racist! You’re Defining The Word Wrong!””

“I’m Not Being Sexist Or Racist! You’re Defining The Word Wrong!”

Sex-Positive Does Not Mean Anything Goes

plus sign on keyboard

Content note: sexually invasive behavior, sexual harassment and assault, denial and gaslighting of same

There’s a talk I give on atheism and sexuality, and in the part where I start to talk about secular sexual ethics, I often make a joke. I talk about religious sexual ethics, and I jokingly ask, “Without God, are we looking at a sybaritic free-for-all, uninhibited by any constraints?” I joke about how some people might be hoping the answer is Yes — and then I say that the obvious answer is No. Of course we have sexual ethics, and of course we want to have them. A sybaritic free-for-all can be an entertaining fantasy, but we wouldn’t want a sexual world with no ethics, where nobody cared who got hurt.

It seems that to some people, this obvious answer is not so obvious. So I’m going to spell it out here:

Sex-positivity does not mean treating the entire world as a sexual buffet. Continue reading “Sex-Positive Does Not Mean Anything Goes”

Sex-Positive Does Not Mean Anything Goes

Why We Publicize Accusations of Sexual Misconduct

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Content note: sexual harassment and assault, denial and gaslighting of same.

The dam is bursting.

In the last few days, several accusations of sexual misconduct on the part of Richard Carrier have been made public. Stephanie Zvan has collected and summarized the current ones to date; Skepticon has banned Carrier from their conference, “partly because of his repeated boundary-pushing behavior, including towards someone involved in Skepticon.”

I want to take a moment to talk about why we publicize these accusations. Tl;dr: We do it because we’re trying to make the community safer.

Those of us who talk about sexual harassment and assault, and other problems in the organized secular movement (and everywhere else, for that matter), are often accused of doing it for our own gain. We’re accused of doing it to increase traffic and boost our careers. And we’re accused of doing it to bring down people we don’t like. I’ve already addressed the first accusation: today, I want to speak to the second.

Richard Carrier was a friend of mine, as well as a colleague. We weren’t close friends, but we had a good social relationship and a good professional relationship. He’s been to multiple parties at our house (a fact that now gives me the creeps: I hate the thought that I may have exposed my friends to his behavior). We worked together at Freethought Blogs for a long time; we collaborated; we promoted each others’ work. And he was a public advocate for feminism and social justice within organized atheism. I was extremely distressed when I started hearing these accusations, and at first I didn’t want to believe them. But I heard more than one accusation, and some of my own conversations with Carrier made me uneasy about his sexual ethics. That’s when I began distancing myself from him, personally and professionally.

I’m not publicizing accusations against him because I don’t like him. I stopped liking him because I started hearing these accusations.

I’m going to say that again, in large boldface capital letters, since it seems to be all too easily overlooked:

I’m not publicizing accusations against him because I don’t like him. I stopped liking him because I started hearing these accusations. Continue reading “Why We Publicize Accusations of Sexual Misconduct”

Why We Publicize Accusations of Sexual Misconduct

Politics and Tragedies

Flowers, candles, and posters at 18th and Castro in San Francisco, memorializing Orlando shootings. Photo by Greta Christina.
Flowers, candles, and posters at 18th and Castro in San Francisco, memorializing Orlando shootings. Photo by Greta Christina.

They tell us we shouldn’t politicize tragedies.

When a man sees two men kissing and responds by walking into a gay bar with an automatic weapon and murdering 50 people, we’re told we shouldn’t politicize the tragedy.

When a man writes a 107,000-word manifesto detailing how and why he despises women and wants to murder and terrorize us, and proceeds to murder six people and injure fourteen others, we’re told we shouldn’t politicize it.

When a man murders nine people in a Black church and later confesses that he did it to start a race war, we’re told we shouldn’t politicize it.

When a hurricane hits a major U.S. city, and thousands of mostly poor, mostly black people are abandoned for days; when the evacuation plan assumes everyone has a car; when the Federal government’s emergency management agency is run by an incompetent boob, in a deliberately created political climate that holds the very idea of government in contempt; when the aftermath is rife with real estate speculation and other grossly predatory profiteering — we’re told we shouldn’t politicize it.

I could give you examples all day.

So here’s the tl;dr, the punch line: We didn’t politicize these tragedies. They were already political. Continue reading “Politics and Tragedies”

Politics and Tragedies

Learning By Arguing

Person A: “This thing is sexist, racist, classist, ableist, etc. Here’s a detailed explanation of why.”
Person B: “No, it’s not. Reasons, typically not responding to the detailed explanation, or even seeming to have read it.”
Person A: “Sigh. Yes, it is. Once again — here’s the detailed explanation of why. Warning you that my patience is wearing thin.”
Person B: “Gee, you don’t have to get mad. I’m just trying to learn and understand.”

If people want to learn, why do they think arguing is the best way to do it?

See, here’s another way this conversation could go: Continue reading “Learning By Arguing”

Learning By Arguing

“When the topic of misogyny comes up”: Meme from The Way of the Heathen

When the topic of misogyny comes up, and people change the subject, it trivializes misogyny.

“When the topic of misogyny comes up, and people change the subject, it trivializes misogyny.”
-Greta Christina, The Way of the Heathen: Practicing Atheism in Everyday Life
(from Chapter 16, “Why ‘Yes, But’ Is the Wrong Response to Misogyny”)

(Image description: above text, juxtaposed next to image of woman’s closed mouth)

I’m making a series of memes/ inspirational poster thingies with my favorite quotes from my new book, The Way of the Heathen: Practicing Atheism in Everyday Life. Please feel free to share this on social media, or print it and hang it on your wall if you like. (The image above is pretty big: you can click on it to get a bigger size if you like.)

Way of the Heathen cover
The Way of the Heathen is available in ebook on Amazon/Kindle and on Smashwords for $7.99. The audiobook is at Audible. The print edition is at Amazon and Powell’s Books, and can be ordered or carried by pretty much any bookstore: it’s being wholesaled by Ingram, Baker & Taylor, IPG, and bookstores can buy it directly from the publisher, Pitchstone Publishing. Check it out, and tell your friends!

“When the topic of misogyny comes up”: Meme from The Way of the Heathen