Anyway... That these issues are being raised for scrutiny and debate is a positive step, I suppose, even if it feels like kicking over a rock. Exposing the depth and breadth of misogyny is the first step in eradicating it.
Twenty years ago I accompanied my ex and his children to Disneyland, and I hated almost every single minute of it. (To be fair to Walt and his "imagineers," my misery had less to do with the park and more to do with the relationship.) At one point, sobbing bitterly on a bench under the entrance banner that read "The Happiest Place on Earth," I looked up to see a small throng of Japanese tourists taking my picture. So at least the opportunity for an ironic picture was not lost.
Anxious to escape the heat and glare, I agreed to ride through "Pirates of the Caribbean" with eight year old Suzanne. "This is my favorite ride," Suzanne confided. "Except for this part..." she added sotto voce, as we bobbed into a tableau of drunk, lusty brigands seizing a struggling young maid with lecherous intent (ignoring the fat, blowsy blonde who was clearly disappointed not to be raped herself).
Suzanne closed her eyes tightly until we had passed through this scene. "I wish that part wasn't there," she reiterated. "Otherwise, it would be the perfect ride." I had to agree, but it took a child to remind me of what I had always known, yet had somehow learned not to see: Sexual assault isn't funny and it isn't fun. It's scary and degrading, and even a small girl knows that it could really happen to her if she is careless (or merely unlucky).
Rape culture means that there is no direction in which a little girl can gaze without being reminded of the vulnerability her sex imposes, not even on a kiddie ride.
Clearly, a number of people besides Suzanne and me didn't like watching animatronic pirates violating animatronic wenches, and these people weren't just humorless feminists, either: plenty of disgruntled dads complained too. Under considerable consumer pressure -- and much to the chagrin of certain guys-who-just-don't-get-it -- Disneyland and Disneyworld removed the "sexual slavery" element from the attraction a few years ago. So now Suzanne can take her own daughter on "the best ride ever," and neither will have to squeeze her eyes shut for any of it...
This week I've been following with dismay the abuse Twittered upon Lindy West following her televised debate with comedian Jim Norton. To be fair, Norton is not egging his fans on. He seems genuinely concerned about the issues that were raised -- even if he's not willing to concede (yet) that misogyny is bad for comedy. What is clear in his twitters is that he doesn't want to be a Bad Guy, but he doesn't want to be seen as "backing down" either. To which I would echo Ms. West in asking him, On which side of history to you wish to stand?
How anyone could deny the existence of "rape culture" in the wake of the comments left by scores of anonymous white doods... is beyond me. I mean really fellas: You deny "rape culture" exists by claiming some women are too ugly to rape? You disagree with someone, so you describe in some detail how you'd like to impale her on a spit? You don't want women to think you're rapists, so you conjure up images of the most grotesque and sadistic fantasy?