Jun 072020
 

“Loud and Proud”, aired 1 May 2005 IMDB

The L Word was a night-time soap about a group of lesbian and bisexual women in West Hollywood, with multiple continuing storylines. 

“Loud and Proud” is centered on Pride Weekend in LA. In the previous season, Jenny arrived in West Hollywood and began exploring her sexuality, which caused some complications with her boyfriend. Jenny broke up with him and joined the other characters.

The cold-open shows two women having a BDSM session, in the red-on-black color scheme we will see repeatedly in this episode. The bottom is cuffed to a St. Andrew’s cross. There’s no nudity, and only a couple of light impacts with a flogger. 

The top says, “I’m going to give you a minute to think about how badly you want me to fuck you.”

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Apr 072020
 

Romance is a 1999 French drama film, written and directed by Catherine Breillat. 

[Unless noted otherwise, all quotations are from the subtitles.]

Breillat is notorious for explicitly showing sexual acts in her films, as well as her unsentimental view of heterosexual relations. Sex between men and women is always a conflict in Breillat’s films, though who is winning isn’t always clear. 

The protagonist is Marie (Caroline Ducey), a young woman who lives with her boyfriend Paul (Sagamore Stévenin), a model. In the first scene, Marie watches from a distance as Paul is posed as a matador in a photoshoot with another female model. The photographer instructs Paul and the model in performing proper masculinity and femininity.

Marie (Caroline Ducey) tries to arouse Paul (Sagamore Stévenin)

They return to their apartment, where their clothes and the furnishings are all white and off-white. Instead of innocence, it suggests sterility and emptiness. Paul rejects Marie’s sexual advances again, in a reversal of the usual gender roles. 

Paul’s passive-aggressive head game is that if he completely eliminates sexual desire in himself, he gains the upper hand in his relationship with Marie. Having her dance on the end of his string is more interesting to him than actually fucking her. 

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Jun 162019
 

Peter Samuel Cook was a serial rapist who attacked women in their homes in Cambridge, England, between October 1974 and April 1975. He was known in the press as the “Cambridge Rapist”.

Cook’s crimes were peculiarly theatrical. Today, we are still grappling with the idea that most rapes are committed by people the victim knew. Cook fit the stereotypical view of a rapist at the time, a socially marginal figure who broke into homes and assaulted strangers. Reportedly, if he didn’t find a victim, he would write taunting messages on their bathroom mirrors.

What’s significant for this discussion is that he wore a black leather hood with the word “RAPIST” literally written across the forehead. What puzzled me was, why and how did Cook get a leather mask? An ordinary cloth or wool ski mask or balaclava would have sufficed to conceal his identity.

Black leather hood of the “Cambridge Rapist”
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Nov 142016
 

William looks at displays of white hats and black hats

White hat or black hat?

HBO’s Westworld TV series postulates a fantasy world where guests interact with non-human “hosts” in a simulated Wild West setting. The narrative, much like the previously discussed Dollhouse, explores the issue of what happens when people are removed from their usual social restrictions and are able to act on their fantasies and desires.

(Note: spoilers ahead)

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May 062013
 

Baatz, Simon. For the Thrill of It: Leopold, Loeb, and the Murder that Shocked Chicago. HarperCollins, 2008 Amazon

I wish there were more case studies to examine in this field. It’s rare to find a documented sadomasochistic relationship in the pre-modern era; I shudder to think how easily the Munby-Cullwick papers could have been lost. Sometimes one must make do with what one can find. In this case, there’s the case of Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb who probably would have been remembered as eccentrics if they hadn’t kidnapped and murdered a teenage boy, basically just to prove they could.

After their capture for the murder, the two men were thoroughly examined by physicians, neurologists and psychiatrists, who couldn’t agree on a diagnosis. Eventually they were found competent to stand trial. Their examinations and testimonies revealed both had vivid fantasy lives.

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Oct 162012
 

Brian: What are you playing?
Tim: Tomb Raider 3.
Brian: She’s drowning.
Tim: Yeah.
Brian: Is that the point of the game?
Tim: Depends what mood you’re in really.
Brian: What sort of mood are you in then?
Tim: Well, I got a letter from my ex-girlfriend this morning, 3 months too late, explaining why she dumped me. It was full of ‘you’ll always be special’ and ‘I’ll always love you’ platitudes designed to make me feel better whilst simultaneously appeasing her deep seated sense of guilt for dumping me, running off with a slimy little city boy called Duane and destroying my faith in everything which is good and pure.
Brian: So it didn’t really work then.
Tim: No, it made me wanna drown things!
Spaced, episode “Battles”, series 1, episode 4

Videogames are a relatively new art form, but they are as deserving of discussion as any other. Likewise, videogames do say things about sexuality and gender, and in extreme cases this revolves around rape. Recently, the owners of the Tomb Raider franchise set off controversy when they said they would include a sexual assault in heroine Lara Croft’s background.Things get even dicier when you factor in the interactive nature of videogames, and giving players the opportunity to put their characters in sexual relationships, sometimes non-consensual ones.

Clarisse Thorn and Julian Dibbell have edited and published an  anthology (ebook and print) about this thorny area, titled Violation: Rape in Gaming.

Apr 092012
 

The theme of violence against women is front and centre in the Mad Men episode “Mystery Date”, and what leads into that phenomenon is a tangled web of fear, anger and desire.

The episode is haunted by the Richard Speck rape-murders in 1966, an incident which its own Gothic details: sexualized violence, women in danger, etc. The lone survivor of Speck’s massacre of student nurses escaped by hiding under a bed.

At the SCDP office, Joyce, a journalist friend of Peggy, brings in a sheet of photos of the Speck crime scene not fit for publication. Joyce describes the crime in melodramatic detail, as if imagining herself as the sole survivor and de facto hero of the narrative (Cf. the Final Girl of slasher filmes). Peggy and the other creatives are gruesomely fascinated and study the pictures. It’s new copywriter Michael Ginsburg who looks at the pictures but then denounces the others as “sickoes”, and says he wishes he hadn’t looked at them.

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Apr 052010
 

From Protein Wisdom via Racialicious comes this charming glimpse into the American political discourse:

Despite the poster’s disclaimers (“I made it a cartoon and not a photoshop and the “woman” is green. Deal, people.”), this image hits hard on one of the biggest hot buttons in the American unconscious: a black man raping a white woman. In this particular case, the scenario appears to be one of acquaintance rape. The setting appears to be the Statue of Liberty’s bedroom, and the Obama-caricature refers to “consent.” The implication seems to be seduction that became rape, that Obama is violating America by trickery and lies, but outright violence is the end result.

This goes into the tradition of war propaganda, harem fantasies based on the Greek-Turkish war, the Nazi-exploitation genre, les femmes tondues of post-WWII France, etc. : the analogy of political deviance with sexual deviance. In this case, Obama’s policies with interracial, black-male-on-white-female rape. Just because it happens a lot doesn’t mean it is a good part of political discourse.

Collective sexual fantasies accumulate around public figures, particularly political figures. Back in 2008, much was made of Obama’s youth, handsomeness and charisma, compared to McCain’s age and less telegenic personality. (Of course, even more was made about Sarah Palin’s body and sexuality, but that’s another post.)

Anyway, this cartoon goes right to the American hindbrain, the same tangled mass of race, gender and class that makes interracial porn so popular. I’d go so far to say that for every white person who gets his or her dander up about the thought of Obama symbolically raping the Statue of Liberty, there’s a white guy jacking off to the fantasy of some big black stud having rough sex with his wife. That’s the American collective anxiety, the same way that back in the 1820s Englishmen thought about Turks invading Greece.

As a side note, writing from Canada, I’m truly astonished at the vehemence of resistance to Obama’s policies, particularly universal healthcare, and to Obama as a person.