I may have said this before. My brain, were I to compare it to any appliance in my kitchen, is a bit of a crock pot. I tend to stew things for days before being really sure what I think about them. (This is especially ironic when compared to the way I tend to reflexively make judgments about everything. I snap to judgment and then rue it for days.) So in the past few weeks, I’ve been exposed to several things I’ve had to mull over. They aren’t things that have very much in common. The first is the Netflix series House of Cards. The second is Paula Deen’s cheerful racism. The third is rape.
I realize now that there is a common thread: News Media.
I haven’t been able to decide if I like House of Cards. There are a lot of brilliantly executed moments in the show, the acting is incredible, and the plot was pleasantly surprising. It seems like the kind of show I should like; it’s darkly cynical, hard to predict, and makes you think. So why don’t I like it? I think it may all boil down to the fact that I don’t like the way the reporters in the show are portrayed. No one cares about truth in the show. Everyone cares about getting a good break and beating the competition and keeping a razor sharp edge. But truth? Integrity? F*** that sh**, who has time? Gotta meet the deadline. Gotta break it first.
Which brings me to Paula Deen, I suppose. Almost all of my friends, even some of the most compassionate and racially sensitive, are angry that Paula Deen is being made a whipping girl for institutionalized racism in the South. ”She doesn’t deserve this,” people keep saying, “just because she said some crap 30 years ago that she regrets now.” First: If Mrs. Deen hadn’t willingly turned a blind eye to (and alternately propagated herself) institutionalized racism in the South, she couldn’t very well be made a whipping girl for it, could she? She was the CEO of a company that had racist and sexist policies. The CEO is held accountable, because everyone beneath them acts in their name. Her company had policies that punished employees for the color of their skin. Her family members, who managed HER establishments, abused their employees, exposed them to sexually explicit and abusive materials, mocked and insulted minority employees (including women) and behaved in a manner that is neither legal, prudent, or even understandable. Yes, Mrs. Deen should be punished for all of these things, if they are true. Yes, anyone with a few neurons firing in a normal manner who is in a position to distance themselves from her company is wise to do so- including the people who co-produce her shows and publish her materials. That doesn’t make her a whipping girl, that makes her accountable for her own freaking actions, as well she should be.
Which brings me to rape, naturally. Because people should be held accountable for their own actions. A friend of mine posted a story about how she had said no repeatedly to a guy, and he kept pressuring her, and she was drunk and exhausted and didn’t want to make him angry so she silently caved in. I’d like to point out that if a woman has said no multiple times and then mutely lets you have her way with her, that is rape.
And it makes me blindingly, searingly, furiously angry to realize that we live in a culture that calls that a determined, self-made man getting his way.
I’d like to take this moment to point out that I’m not sure if it is the heat wave making it 90 degrees in my living room despite the air conditioner running full bore, or just the fact that after 30 years of being nice I’m tired of being nice to people who are absolute bastards, but I’d like to take a moment and just scream a general F*** THIS SH** to the world at large.
F*** IT. WITH A RUSTY SPOON. THEN DOWSE IT IN KEROSENE AND CALL IT THE FOURTH OF JULY.
Because if you live in America you live in a country where there are scads of journalists ready to pick my friend apart and tell her how she could’ve avoided getting raped, and then blather on about how it’s so unfortunate that her rapist had a moment of flawed judgment which is totally excusable because of my friends rocking bosom. Which may have been overexposed. (It wasn’t.)
We live in a country where Paula Deen is pitied instead of being called to account, where the discussion is about poor rich white women having to watch their tongues instead of the beaten black sous chefs that provide them with wealth and are underpaid in return. We live in a world where a TV show about a politician f***ing his way to running the news is sadly believable, where no matter how dark and cynical Hollywood paints the story it doesn’t feel as dark and cynical as real life.
I’m effing tired of it.
So to my friend, I love you. I wish we lived in a world that defended you and others like you, because you deserve to be upheld and not torn down. To Paula Deen, your empire should fall. It was built on taking advantage of others, which is the worst kind of avarice and cowardice. And to the producers of House of Cards, eff you. I’ll watch the next season, though, because it’s still good television.
I just wish it didn’t feel so much like real life.