I have been trying to decide all week what I would write for my weekly post, it being my first content week, and this morning while subbing at a local high school, I stumbled across something that made me think, “Really?”
I know that this ages me, but I loved the movie Say Anything. And the moment when John Cusack stands out side the window, playing a love song for the female he loves, is one of my favorite parts. Then today, I saw a meme categorizing this moment as rape culture at its purest. Now, for those who haven’t seen the film, this scene occurs as an attempt to win back the love of his life who will soon be leaving the country for a type of study abroad trip.
This made me wonder…have I been wrong all these years? Does my endearment for this film constitute my silent acceptance of rape culture? That thought led me to a swirling, headache-inducing replay of movies, books, television shows…the whole time questioning whether or not they promote rape culture. This naturally lead me to the idea of fairy tales. I am not ashamed to admit that I was naive about fairy tales until I reached higher education. Of course, I never watched them–I just wasn’t interested in them as a child, and my son never showed an interest in them, so it was a non-issue. I took a course in fairy tales when my daughter was about two years old. After the course, I vowed that my little girl would never watch them. (I later retracted this ruling).
After having this mind debate for about an hour, I came to a conclusion: I need more opinions on this topic..hence, this post.
To me, rape culture is a constant in society. Rape exists. It happens, even in 2017, in outrageous numbers. We tell women to protect themselves, to be aware of their surroundings, to ever leave their drinks unattended, to make sure that they travel in groups when at clubs or parties, to be careful not to dress to provocatively, and, of course, as women, we try to protect ourselves. It is categorically unfair to expect women to be able to stop rapists by following those safety warnings.
But is it fair to tell my six year old that she cannot watch Beauty and the Beast because it portrays an abusive relationship? Should I stop watching Say Anything when I come across it on TV because it shows a teenage boy attempting to convince his girlfriend to reconsider their break up? Do we promote male dominance and abuse daily without knowing it?
I welcome all feedback and opinions on this subject.
After I published this last night, I was bothered by what I wrote. It has been nagging at me all night and morning, because I don’t think that I was clear in what my issue/question/concern is. Here is the problem. I see exactly why this image of John Cussack plays into the rape culture that is so prevalent in our society. It shows a man, standing outside his ex’s window, forcing confrontation, showing no respect for her decision, and refusing to take no for an answer. All of which is horrible. Yet, I never made that realization until yesterday. Beauty and the Beast, a best selling fairy tale, shows a woman, being held against her will, refused food and social inteation, until she submits to the will of the beast. Horrible. But I never saw that until Bardenhagen’s Fairy Tale course. Why?
Is the culture of male dominance so inherently and subliminally fed to us from childhood that I am just blind to it in everyday life? Obviously, I see it when it slaps me in the face, but why did I not see these other examples before. I believe myself to be an intelligent, analytical woman. How then, do I miss these things? How do I, as a woman, mother, teacher, scholar, do my part to fight rape culture when I am blind to it sometimes? This bothers me.