চোখ

Standard

Vultures Crossing

রিন টিন টিন টিন রিন টিন টিন

তিব্বতের গুম্ফায়ে ঘুস গ্যায়া চিন

তাকে দিন তাকে দিন তাকে দিন

কাকে দিমু কাকে দিমু কাকে দিমু

বাজারেতে বড় দাম , ইতিহাসে হিমু

তেরে তাক তেরে তাক তেরে তাক

আর্ট অফ লিভিং! তহবিল ফাঁক

রামদেব দেখিয়ে যান হনুমানের লাফ

কাশ্মীর শান্ত, সব মুসলিম সাফ

চাক বুম চাক বুম চাক বুম

চার বোতল ভদকা, লাগবে যে ধুম

আজাদি মাঙ্গলে কিন্তু হয়ে যাবে গুম

তো ধরো তান ধরো তান ধরো তান

হাসতে ভুলো নাকো, হয়ও না হয়রান

চোখ বুজে খবর শোনো – সব দোষ পাকিস্তান।

View original post

On Rape Culture and Brock Turner , Or, Rape Does Not Take Place in a Vacuum

Standard

https://mic.com/articles/145898/in-response-to-brock-turner-the-porn-site-x-hamster-is-cracking-down-on-rape?utm_source=policymicFB&utm_medium=main&utm_campaign=social#.rePqTej6q

I haven’t so far written about the Stanford rape case, or about Brock Turner, but he has been mentioned over and over in heated discussions I have had with people concerning the case. I have also been voraciously reading up every new report on the case, because I cannot believe what in my opinion is a gross miscarriage of justice, that is, the sentencing of Brock Turner to a period of six months (not six months, actually, since he is due for release in September) for a crime of this magnitude. It is incredible to me that with the overwhelming amount of evidence against him, and what he has done to another person, there are many who harbour sympathy for this very promising swimmer- a fact none of us have been allowed to forget with his defense stressing it over and over again. There are several things to be noted here, and of prime importance among them is that rape needs to be treated like other forms of violence. Yes, sexual violence works differently, but it is an assertion of power no less than murder is. What facilitates someone like Brock Turner to rape an unconscious woman- and presumably send pictures of her breasts to a group of friends- is a nexus of power relations. It is his wealth, gender and race, and therefore privilege that produces the kind of male entitlement that could prompt someone into thinking his “20 minutes of action” could even be termed that. Case in point:

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/king-brock-turner-cory-batey-show-race-affects-sentencing-article-1.2664945

It is this intersectionality that deserves focus in this case. And since Brock Turner is a product of his immediate society, it is not for one to discount the power of rape culture. Misogyny and casual sexism abound in all forms of media we encounter, and to ignore them is to refuse to acknowledge their role in the shaping of our culture, and culture as such shapes our reality. Which is why I think it is a very positive step if porn site xHamster is shutting down availability of videos that carry the tag “non consensual”- a term that in itself is a problem, since it implies that non consensual sex is anything but rape. I do not believe in the argument that says porn does not give ideas to rapists and pedophiles, or that rapists and pedophiles do not need to take directions from pornography (an argument used also by Alan Moore in his defense of rape in Lost Girls). This argument is reductive and literalises the very idea of rape culture. Rape culture runs far deeper than pornography giving directions for rape; the very idea that women can be treated as sexual objects is perpetuated every day by things like this. It is but one step from this (is it even a step?) to the friendly, nice guy next door who does not hesitate to make a rape joke, and when I do not find it funny, tells me to “lighten up” because he is only making a joke, not actually raping someone, a statement which I suppose must fill me with immense gratitude. Male entitlement is reinforced every day with advertisements, tv shows, serials, films, books, and almost every bit of media we see around us in a world where information flows by the second. Which is why I think it is a sign of great positivity that at least with this case, pornography- an industry which is surprisingly progressive and not as misogynist as one presumes, as demonstrated by at least the immediate reaction to James Deen’s being accused of sexual assault- at least is responding to the harmful effect of rape culture, and this is something that should be celebrated, albeit with tentativeness.

(note: an update on James Deen: https://mic.com/articles/133343/3-months-later-here-s-what-the-porn-industry-thinks-of-james-deen#.EHv34exdn )

Stop Letting This Go.

Standard

A brilliant article that reiterates a point I also loved about another a few days ago that talked about how most women tend to “de-escalate”; we make offences against us seem “OK” or alright because we are so used to them in the worlds we inhabits in different kinds of ways, some always worse than the others. This article by Jessica Valenti talks about the importance of speaking up about these instances, no matter how ugly they are or how uncomfortable they may be. Living in fear should never be the only option available.

http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2016/may/28/jessica-valenti-my-life-as-a-sex-object?CMP=share_btn_fb

Rant for the Day

Standard

The Game of Thrones fandom collectively (and since I am not as much a part of it as a lot of other people I know are, I shall not claim superior knowledge with regard to fan theories, plot details from the books or the show, or possible factions within the fandom, all of which have my due respect and my apology for this extremely long parenthesis) has managed to do what very few things have before- prompt me to post on this blog a rant the likes of which I only articulate primarily with my long-suffering flatmate. After the recent episode of Game of Thrones, Season 6, which admittedly broke my heart with its impressive inclusion of an almost rabidly morbid interest of mine- the vagaries and implications of time travel, or to put it the way I like best, wibbly wobbly timey wimey- I was also incredibly happy about the way Sansa’s character is beginning to shape up. As far as my reading of the show goes (with which a fellow ranter agrees), Sansa’s turning point came in Season five as Miranda threatened her while bathing her, and her response to some shoddily written threatening was something that left me chilled as she lay claim to her power as the (to her knowledge then) the most immediate heir to Winterfell. Even though this claim to power came from a place of primogeniture the show upholds as part of its being set in the kind of timeline that it is, I thought this was a good hint towards where her character would hopefully end up, and that would not be in a place where she becomes a tool or an instrument for men to lay claim to power, particularly through her body. In a show where women’s relationship to power is always fraught and nearly always related to their bodies and to narrow it down some more, to their reproductive function, I thought this was a move towards a slightly less cloudy stance on gender than usual.

To digress a little and expand on my point about the reproductive functions women’s bodies perform and are limited to on the show- I am speaking exclusively about the show since my knowledge is limited to that, and this is my highly subjective reading of it at most- I think I could illustrate this best with the first episode in this season. Like most other fans (particularly fans I knew who were women or who even had vaguely feminist sympathies, if that is the way one can put it) I did not like the last season very much with regard to how the women were being treated, a tendency that had been characterising the show from its inception, but which culminated with key moments in Season five such as Sansa’s rape- where the camera invisibilised her suffering quite literally by focusing on the pain and trauma her rape happened to cause an already beleagured male character(I’m sorry, but boohoo)- and Cersei’s Walk of Shame, where the makers seemed to take as much voyeuristic pleasure from the spectacle as did the townspeople who wanted only to violate the body of the queen in an effort to tear her down from a position of power, all the more jarring because Cersei had not been seen in the nude before this. This one scene sickened me, and when after watching it I was confronted with various people saying “she deserved it”, I was horrified and almost made up my mind to stop watching the show. This season and its first episode did not make me feel any better what with its surprise ending. It did not, for one thing, come as a surprise to me that Melisandre’s defeat had to be visualised in the particular way that it was. A spectacularly boring episode ending with the expected undressing by this character whom the show writers seem to have written in for this sole purpose was not a surprise at all, and the shock of the ending as the camera itself seemed to reel did not hold any power for me at all. The show in characterising Melisandre has always concentrated on her overpowering sexuality and for me the point this revolved around the most was when she uses this as her tool to “give birth” to a shadow. For a show where the (incredibly self righteous almost) powerful woman character is called the Mother of Dragons, this is clearly the ‘bad woman’ at this point, and for me, the first episode of Season 6 with its ending was only under writing this point about how Melisandre’s character does not fulfill a reproductive function that is demanded of her as a woman and chooses to seek power instead while still being limited to do so by her sexual function as a product of consumption on the show. The narrative at this point still revolves around her body, and the shock value of the moment is in the fact that it is the body of an old woman, a “hag” who is not aesthetically pleasing by the standard Carice Van Houten’s depiction follows, that is on camera, a body that cannot possibly be thought of as desirable or desiring(without being deviant, of course). This is why I had a problem with the memes that claimed this was an important revelation and said things like “Have fun objectifying Melisandre now”, since in my understanding the show did not in any way move away from its fetishisation of a woman’s body- using an old woman’s body as shock value or to indicate defeat for a beautiful woman is very contrived, and no better than the very misogynist scene in Kubrick’s The Shining where Nicholson is shocked to find himself embracing the tattoed body of an old woman and not the nubile young woman he thinks he sees in the bath tub. The young woman turning old while she looks at her body in the mirror  is a tired and decaying trope, and I wish the writers of the show would do better.

Now that my digression about my problem with the constant fetishisation of women’s bodies and the narrative revolving around their function as baby making machines is done, I shall come to my point about the latest episode, The Door. When I began watching the episode with my friend, I was very pleasantly surprised by Sansa at the beginning of the episode. Sansa’s story arc in this season is one that has been giving me some hope, what with her confident declarations of family pride- verbal or sartorial- and her literal gathering of forces; I think she is shaping up to be a very powerful character. What stunned me at the beginning of this episode was Sansa’s confrontation with Littlefinger, one that has also been long in the offing. She pushes him into a corner, an impressive feat considering that this is Littlefinger, whose primary power stems from words and his ability to use them well, and she forces him to consider the ramifications of the life he condemned her to as Ramsay’s bride. Not only does she question his true loyalties, she also brutally talks about her bodily abuse by Ramsay, and this is the dialogue I want to concentrate on here:

S: What do you think he did?

L: I can’t begin to contemplate-

S: What do you think he did to me?

L: He beat you.

S: Yes, he enjoyed that, what else do you think he did?

After this exchange, Sansa goes on to make this statement: “I can still feel it. I don’t mean in my tender heart it still pains me so, I can still feel what he did in my body standing here right now.“For one of the first times after Jessica Jones, here was a woman on television talking about the consequences of physical, sexual abuse, down to the bodily memory it leaves one with. I have been on the receiving end of one such instance, and for me as well as every other account I have heard/ read about from men, women and others who have endured any form of sexual abuse, this is something that rang true for all of them- the bodily memory of this kind of abuse stays with one for a long time, if not for the entirety of a lifetime, and to heal enough to move beyond to a place where one can be secure with their body again is incredibly difficult and traumatic. Because of this, I thought it was a very positive step that the show was beginning to address this very crucial aspect of abuse, which I also consider essential in the making of Sansa as a character holding power in the near future. Imagine my disappointment when I realised that even this one instance of visibility for trauma caused by sexual abuse was immediately turned into the latest raging fan theory- that Sansa is carrying Ramsay’s child. Here is an article detailing the points connecting to this, for those interested:

‘Game of Thrones’ Theories: Is Sansa Stark Pregnant?

As a woman who watches the show and is considerably invested in it- if that is not apparent from the length of this rant- I find it deeply offensive and most of all just plain sad that this is the immediate recourse the entire fandom seems to have taken after a dialogue that had the kind of potential this one did for lending a voice to a victim of rape.I am myself not distanced from theorising about shows I watch, but I feel like this one theory reduces Sansa again to simply being a tool (note particularly how the above article ends detailing the absolute horror of Sansa carrying the child of a man who raped her, not horrifying because of the rape itself, but because of how universally hated this character is) and is nothing but insulting. This feeds into a tendency that I have lately noted in a lot of films and tv series primarily written/directed by men that deal with rape. A case in point if you will allow yet another digression) is Gaspar Noe’s Irreversible, where a woman is raped by a man (bafflingly, a homosexual,  but I shall not at this moment delve into the homophobia in this film) for almost an unflinching fifteen or twenty minutes. The film, which works through flashbacks, had its most interesting point for me in the fact that the men this woman happens to love and trust are no less misogynist in their understanding of women and their position in sexual relationships. For me, the movie fails in the last instance because it ends with an idyllic depiction of the woman being in a happy romantic relationship and being newly pregnant, literally seated in a park, as if to ram home how horrifying this rape was because look, she was going to have a baby, she had a life ahead of her! Rape is horrifying and an act of violation in any instance and unquestionably so- why is it that a child and a pregnancy needs to be involved in order to gain the sympathy of the audience for the character involved? I think the question the fandom at this point needs to ask itself is, has it become so desensitized to violence and particularly sexual violence against women on this show that an unborn child must needs be involved for it to even be horrifying any more? Oh,and of course, to get started on the pro-life and pro- choice debate this will bring up is even more sickening since no part of the fandom seems to even have considered that even though Sansa may be pregnant, she may also choose to not carry to term her pregnancy with a child of rape. Truly, Game of Thrones is beginning to write interesting “Strong Female Characters”.

 

 

About Stories

Standard

 

Fairy-tales have always been a weakness of mine, though to call it a weakness as such would belie the strength they have often had in influencing the way I think or the way I relate to the world around me. As a child who grew up in love with stories and in the lap of many of them, stories have been things I have often been inundated by and willingly so. Even though I found some of them lacking in some ways, I have always found some basic themes in fairy tales fascinating and will continue to do so for a while, I think; for me they function much in the way of myths, and fairy tales are myths in my opinion for a lot of people, even if they may not be defined as fairy tales as such. Having such an attachment to them, it is quite heartening to see that they are truly making leaps forward, leaps which I had thought were long in the offing. This post is prompted by them, and by this one-

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/may/25/good-night-stories-for-rebel-girls-is-dream-kickstarter-success?CMP=fb_gu

This gave me a lot of hope, and did brighten my day a bit, so I thought it deserved a share on the blog.

waves

Standard

There was this girl. Or maybe she still is,

I think she still is (the main thing is to get started)

And this girl, all she does is look for pieces. She

looks for pieces every  where, every place

She visits. (he did not understand- rhyme,

metre, pictures, things, words words words,

Coherence was not an option, only a space).

So this girl, this girl, she looks for them because there is (nothing)

This strange old machine in her head, what

A jigsaw would look like if it were a block of ideas

cut from the moon on the sea- did that mean any thing to anyone?-

maybe she meant that

it was a quilt. The quilt in her head was made of all her memories,

and the best parts of them, she kept them like stories, little

glowing moments, or dull ones, they played themselves

out as she chose them, and the girl kept

Going Back to them. (how does one start if going

Back is all that one can do? he turns

His face away.) narratives move in fits and starts,

Sometimes fitting, sometimes starting, some times not

Doing any of those things- (story is all about control, and

C o n t r o l- scattered in the mind, reason of this kind

Does not apply)- the girl picked. Every piece she found in all

The places would go into that strange machine that

Worked away all day; it churned things out when she wanted a fit-

Unfamiliarity and strangeness haunted her, and a fit seemed nice and

Comfortable, (lyricism can desert one, coming back to

haunt me in my dreams, the painful

Beauty of it would leave me gasping and choking and I would wake

as if from a nightmare though I had not thought

leaving walking away waking were actions I could perform, and)

So she kept searching for these pieces of days that

Fit cosily in the palm of her hand that she could hold on to and

Say this is mine this is mine all mine, and she loved

Living, or something of that kind, it would twist her insides with the burning

Squeezing jubilance of everything or even quiet (I

Do not know… I think i may have lost my thread a little, flickers stay still

So long, so little- he told me of a cloudy mirror)

sadness: she often invited sadness in so she could wrap herself up in it, the

waves of melancholy licking at her feet, slowly

slowly, the pieces helped with this on some days (this was

how I told all my stories)