Links of Great Interest: Their names…

were not Caylee. Neither were the children described in this post.

Signal Boost: CeCe needs books!

Signal Boost: Cast your vote for Plant a Row!

Signal Boost: The Florida Great Pyr Rescue has some dogs available.

Signal Boost: Pablo Wapsi needs some help!


Queer youth beaten to death.

Is it bad that this makes me want to watch Pretty Little Liars?

Oh sweet merciful Jesus!!! SLAVE EARRINGS?

More on Libya.


We need to train more abortion providers.

Images of kids with some neat historical context.

From MC:

I know you guys already linked to the documentary “My big breasts and me”, but I think you haven’t linked to the MTV version “I don’t like my large breasts”:

While I prefer the first one, I found it very helpful that the second mentioned that there are stores with clothes for different cup sizes.

And for something else completely: Circumstance!

That movie? It looks AMAZING.

From Kim:

Hello, I came across these today, one is a forum topic asking male gamers who choose to play female characters to discuss why they do so, after the first few comments with the typical answer (staring at a girl’s ass is preferable to staring at a guy’s) it starts to get
really interesting:

“When playing as a male avatar, I almost always project myself through them. Even if I make a middle aged heavily scarred black man, I still project my own personality into them and it can be difficult to do especially evil things. I keep thinking “What would I do?”

But when playing as a female, I feel much more disconnected from my avatar, and feels as if she is her own character who makes her own decisions. In this case, it’s much easier for me to think “What would SHE do?” “

The second link is a brief article regarding relationships in games, it manages to quickly touch on objectification, fridge women, and
token female characters. I was quite impressed with how much Yahtzee managed to pack into this article considering how brief it is:

“There are the games that depict the commencement of a relationship, but this is rarely shown as anything other than an appropriate “reward” for the hero’s actions, which is just objectifying the love interest again. Rarely is time given to the compatibility of feelings between the two or to explore the feasibility of a partnership in the long term.”

Interesting link on geek girls and self objectification… not a lot of talk about race, tho.

What’s missing from “pro-feminist” hip hop? Swagger, apparently.

How to write about aboriginal Australia.

LGBT couples and Star Wars

And then it got weird.

I forgot to say this yesterday, but….

RIP Aaliyah.

More on rape and the military




  1. says

    I just made a donation to the Romona Moore legal fund on behalf of the site. I also asked that they let us know if there’s anything we can do to provide some publicity or anything.

    The NYPD aided and abetted a serial killer. People think that friend of Sherrice Iverson’s rapist/killer was horrible for not fulfilling a moral duty to prevent her death or at least report it. But the cops have both a legal and moral duty to investigate crimes, and look what they did. Assholes.

  2. Casey says

    The Good Men Project is such a failure boat. I had no idea that Drake was so pro-feminist since the only song of his I have on my iPod is about him not planning to call any of the girls he sweet-talks at mall meet-and-greets. Seems kinda like jerk-face behavior.

    Somebody in the comments section over there also thinks Kanye is sexist but pro-feminist. How does that work?

  3. says

    I had to stop reading the “not Caylee” article. How truly sickening. Best wishes for the family and I hope their lawsuit succeeds. It really says something about our society when the people supposed to protect all of us turn their backs on some of us.

    Casey: Somebody in the comments section over there also thinks Kanye is sexist but pro-feminist. How does that work?

    I’m not about to wade in there to check this theory, but I’ve found that many people think feminist = sexist against men. Using that definition, Kanye would be sexist against two sexes.

  4. Maria says

    Sylvia Sybil,

    They might think he doesn’t like “weak” or “bad” women — he’s pretty critical in his twitter feed about women who sleep around, women who have kids and expect child support from their partner, etc etc. He DOES appear to like and support “exceptional females” like Katy Perry (who he’s collaborated with and who I wrote about here: and Nicki Minaj (who he’s also colloborated with and who others have written on as well: )

  5. Casey says

    This is an aside but I’d also like to add that when I heard the phrase “pro-feminist hip-hop” I was expecting to read something about feminist women hip hop artists and some dork complaining that they’re not into macho posturing bullshit to be taken seriously.
    Instead I got a guy basically saying “because Drake doesn’t spew explicitly misogynist garbage like ‘I done raped the game young/you could call it statutory’ and ‘I stuck my dick inside this life until that bitch came'[/gives Kanye the side-eye] that makes him pro-feminist…and I still don’t like him ‘cuz he’s not enough into macho posturing bullshit.”

  6. The Other Anne says

    Those Casey links are just…I don’t even. I don’t know how anyone can feel protected by the police when there are so many horrifying stories about them and women civilians of any race, black men…it would be nice to, for once, go a single week without hearing a story like that.

    Also, as a kid I ADORED Jane Yolen! The Pit Dragon trilogy was my favorite, to the point where I emailed her to beg her to write a fourth and giving her an “idea” for it–which was, as you may imagine, really terrible since I was like nine. She responded very patiently, though.

    Thank you for the links!

  7. says


    Right. I think this story should be a Spotlight On post.

    The Other Anne: I don’t know how anyone can feel protected by the police when there are so many horrifying stories about them and women civilians of any race, black men…

    On NPR today, someone with the LAPD was talking about some program they’re doing to help show kids in marginalized neighborhoods that the police are there for them (I think? didn’t hear it from the start). A caller – a black lady – said that she knew several young black men who were husbands, fathers, employed, and had never been in trouble with the law. Except, somehow in their teen years, they were pegged by LAPD cops as gang-bangers. The police have harassed them continuously ever since. The most recent incident occurred when one of them was having a barbecue in the front yard for his child’s birthday, and a cop stopped by and asked “how dare you” have a barbecue in the front yard. The man from LAPD said that either the men should make a complaint to the police – or the caller could. Or if they didn’t trust the police, to call the Inspector General (not sure who that is, I think they addressed it before I tuned in).

    Coming on top of the Romona Moore story, all I could think was: if you’re white, you really don’t live on the same planet as black Americans do. You hear about the horrible race crimes, but you don’t always hear the daily, less dramatic hassles that happen to people of different colors from you, or different classes, etc. Getting followed by security guards in shops. Getting pulled over for being in certain neighborhoods after dark.

  8. says

    Jennifer Kesler: and had never been in trouble with the law. Except, somehow in their teen years, they were pegged by LAPD cops as gang-bangers. The police have harassed them continuously ever since.

    When you say “in trouble with the law”, do you mean they’ve never committed a crime? Because I thought the phrase meant never in trouble with the police and it sounds like they have quite a few problems with the police.

    Of course, I come from a background that does not have the luxury of automatically assuming the cops are on the side of angels, so hearing that one is in trouble with the police does not have the same connotations of guilt to my mind that I’ve observed in others.

  9. Jaynie says

    Sylvia Sybil,
    I can’t speak for Jennifer Kesler, but as a middle class white person, I would definitely interpret the phrase “in trouble with the law” to mean “has done something criminal”. I think the difference in our interpretations pretty clearly demonstrates just who is being protected by the police.

    I couldn’t finish the first story in one go, though I did make myself wade through it in the end. That’s just…sick. And I don’t just mean the murderers.

  10. says

    Sylvia Sybil,

    “Trouble with the law” was the caller’s phrase. It’s my experience that most people, including those who have the least reason to trust police, use that phrase to mean “arrested/investigated/suspected.” This usage may indeed come from a privileged perspective, but I think the rather vague phrase has almost become like a euphemism or idiom for being investigated by police for specific crimes. That’s not the case in this instance: the police don’t seem to have any crime to connect these guys to, yet they’re just sure they’ve done, uh, something, or are going to do something, or something. The caller seemed to be implying these men had done not one thing to give the police that impression.

    Other than being black, of course, and maybe growing up in a particular neighborhood or something.

    A side note which might shed some light: there was a recent hunger strike in Cali prisons by men kept in SHUs (solitary housing units) in what they claim were inhumane conditions. You got into a SHU by having the contact info of a gang member in your address book, or being in ANY WAY AT ALL, according to the prison, associated with a gang member. The only way out of a SHU and back into the general population was to “renounce” the gang by ratting them out. Which is (a) really dangerous if you know anything worth talking about, since these gangs have gotten to prisoners before and (b) impossible if you don’t really know anything and only had that name via a friend of a friend of a girlfriend of an uncle. The paranoia level of the prisons came across as seriously bizarre. After the strike ended (by the prisoners being carted off and fed intravenously – they carried it on for WEEKS), the prisons said they MIGHT start requiring both gang affiliation AND actually doing something wrong before putting someone in the SHU. Meaning, if you have a gang affiliation AND stab someone in the cafeteria, you go to the SHU.

    So, is law enforcement in California in general so concerned about gangs that they might hassle anyone who’s ever so much as unwittingly given street directions to a gang member? My guess is these young men the caller was talking about had perhaps known some gang members as teens – in some neighborhoods and schools, I gather it’s difficult NOT to have any associations with gang members. But if that’s all the cops have – that and skin color – then we have a problem.

    And I think we do have a problem. I… am not prepared to discuss my reasons for saying this, as they’re vague and totally based on senses of things I can’t explain… but I think race relations in L.A. might be heading toward one of their infamous boiling points again. And I do think the establishment is a very big part of that problem.

  11. Ebb says

    That post about the Romona Moore Defense Fund…I hadn’t even heard about it until now. Thank you. I’m trying to get the word out on tumblr:

    I know, right? I was all excited about pro-women rappers out there and all I got was ‘NEEDS MORE SWAGGER’ out of it. And also, though Drake doesn’t do a lot of the mainstream stuff(not as much as others anyways) I don’t know how anyone could fix their fingers to even type that he’s ‘pro-feminist’. I could be missing something, however.

  12. Sue says

    While I laughed for a long time at the Gaddafi (Qaddafi?) and Condoleezza Rice article, I can’t help but wonder about how everyone’s framing the story. Every article I’ve seen frames it as if it’s just another one of those odd stories, just something to laugh about for the day, no big deal. Yet, I have a stinking suspicion that had she been a white woman, there would have been absolute OUTRAGE.

    Maybe I’m just paranoid. While it *is* an awkward situation, it really isn’t that big of a deal. 😕

  13. sbg says


    I once received a letter from a man I exchanged no more than five words with the whole time he lived where I worked, filled with all sorts of weird things like him hoping I enjoyed the clothes he left for me in his room, how much he missed seeing me and most especially my glasses, how he was but one member in my fandom, now from afar.

    It was … VERY disconcerting. Now times that a million and I’d imagine that’s how Condoleezza might feel. I think there’d still be an element of OMGWHATLOL to it if it were a prominent white woman, but yes, probably outrage as well.

  14. Casey says

    I appreciate Kim’s link to that “Why do you male gamers play as female characters?” thread but I just couldn’t wade through all the “HURR DURR DAT ASS” comments to get through anything of potential substance, especially when I stumbled across this comment only 2 or three pages in…

    I like to fantasize about women that I have something in common with. I know it’s sad, but I figure it’s better to use a video game character as a substitute until the real thing comes along than to sleep around with the various teen-age sluts in my immediate vicinity.

    aaaaaand I’m out. Sorry.

    I was also surprised at how good Yahtzee’s article was since his “bitter dumped guy” misogyny from his Sims review is what turned me off of ever watching him again then again that was like a year or two ago, maybe I should give him another shot.

  15. Robin says

    The fact that the Ramona Moore Legal Defense Fund needs to exist is disgraceful. The details behind it, and the situation in Cleveland, are just horrific. I’m having trouble even processing that these events happened, let alone the negligent behavior of the authorities. Thank you so much for telling us about it. I’m going to spread the word on my own social networks.

    Pretty Little Liars is one of my guilty pleasure shows. I’ve nicknamed it “Desperate High-Schoolers” because it’s so ridiculously melodramatic, but I can’t seem to stop watching because it’s so darn entertaining. The comment thread at AfterEllen makes a really good point, though. The group who got General Mills to pull their sponsorship from the show are only concerned with its positive portrayal of teenage lesbians. They completely overlook the fact that other characters have: committed murder, committed adultery, lied to police, engaged in statutory rape, broken doctor-patient confidentiality, engaged in stalking and harassment, and promoted underage drinking. ::facepalm:: Interestingly enough, a couple of the commenters wrote to CM and got a response indicating they’d actually pulled their ads because of the stalking and age-inappropriate relationships. That seems like a much better reason (to me anyway) for the parent company of Betty Crocker and Pilsbury. It sounds like the FFA is twisting GM’s decision to suit their own purposes.

  16. Casey says

    Treblaine: You girls need to form a ‘Girls Only’ clan.

    No political affiliation or social ideology (Silicone Sisters can fuck RIGHT off with their “what girls want”), just a place where girls don’t have to worry about guys treating them weirdly.

    This post really irritated me, mostly because a woman trying to start a “girls” only clan with no real “political affiliation” or “social ideology” is what caused the Starcraft 2 snafu in the first place (and who the hell are the Silicone Sisters?).

  17. SarahSyna says


    According to Google, Silicon Sisters (note the lack of an e) are the first female owned and run game studio in Canada. They apparently make tween and teen games. I have never heard of them.

  18. Casey says


    Oh I see! I googled the PROPERLY SPELLED Silicon Sisters and it sounds really cool…however, the only game I could find on there was a tarot card playing thing, which makes me think they only do stuff like dress-up games and whatnot (not that there’s anything WRONG with that but pretty much every girl-centric game site on the web is about dating or playing dress-up or cooking or horoscopes).

    And now that I know what SS really is, the undercurrent of oblivious misogyny in that post I quoted is quite unnerving.

  19. says

    Just read the LGBT Star Wars article. Bullshit there’s no queerness in Star Wars. They can have interspecies romance and even frickin’ twincest (yes, in Splinter of the Mind’s Eye Luke and Leia flirt openly) but gawd forbid two men get together. Whatever. 12yo me wanted to be a Jedi Knight despite no female Jedi, so she probably wouldn’t have changed her mind because there aren’t any queer Jedi. Maybe when they make the next trilogy for my children’s generation they’ll throw a few queers into the background like they did for women in the prequel trilogy.

  20. says

    Sylvia Sybil,

    I’d be shocked. It didn’t even occur to Lucas to do something other than a traditional 20th century American wedding in #2. He’s just not one for thinking outside the box.

    Also, the fandom enjoyed (ha!) a hostile takeover by fundamentalist Christians intent on silencing ANY fanfic references to LGBT and atheism and whatever else offended them, and Lucas’ use of a faux-science virgin birth for Anakin suggests to me that he didn’t have any problem with the direction they chose to take.

  21. says

    Jennifer Kesler,

    These people don’t understand how fanfic works, apparently. In my own fanon, there have always been multitudes of female Jedi. That’s the whole point of fanfic, personalizing the universe and fixing what problems you see. Besides which – atheism? Really? The only religion in the actual movies is the Force, which is on the atheist side of deism. “Trust the non-sentient field of magic, oh yeah and a couple of ghosts” is pretty damn close. Actually, I take that back: “a-theism” = no god(s), which there aren’t, so de facto Star Wars is atheistic.

    Although now I am cracking up at the vision of Jesus Christ as Darth Vader.

  22. says

    Sylvia Sybil,

    Oh, no, they got how it worked. The problem was Lucas. Lucasfilm issued tons of Cease & Desist orders to fanfic authors from the 70s to the 90s, even when they clearly weren’t making money. I was on a GEnie board (anyone remember those?) where everyone was in character – some using film characters, others using their own originals – and we were all hanging out in the cantina, where no one was allowed to be evil or good (neutral territory). It was hilarious: characters were forming bands, for pete’s sake. And then GEnie for the C&D from Lucasfilm: it was okay, so long as we didn’t use original characters.

    Finally, the US Supreme Court ruled that as long as fanfic authors didn’t profit, and didn’t cause a loss to the creators, it was okay. Lucasfilm let up after that, but the forum I linked to in my last comment did not. They felt homosexuality was disrespectful to Lucas’ vision. It got kind of absurd after TPM came out, because some people assumed if it wasn’t weird for Padme to run a planet at age 13, then it couldn’t be too weird if she was having sex. So they’d write stories like this, thinking they were being very true to Lucas’ vision (and I can’t really argue with them!), and get in trouble with the forum owners. As for atheism, I wasn’t clear: I guess it was okay in fanfic, but if YOU said that you were an atheist, you could get banned from the forum. That eventually got better in the 2000s, after they apparently came to understand that destroying all of Christendom was actually not the only conceivable motive one might have for stating one’s atheistic stance.

    Sorry. I have a long, complicated relationship with SW and Lucas. It was love-hate for many years, and then the prequels came out and the love died.

  23. says

    Jennifer Kesler,

    Yeah, I hear you. Star Wars was a huge part of my childhood (I wasn’t around when they were first released, but they were some of the few pop culture films allowed past the homeschooling screen), but as an adult I see so many flaws. The only way I can keep loving it is to maintain a personal canon (where Leia has just as much right to be the last/first of the Jedi as Luke does) and keep that divorced from Lucas’ canon. Because there’s no way I could love Lucas’ vision.

  24. says

    Glad to see I’m not the only one who finds Lucas’s direction he took Star Wars in retrograde and weirdly conservative.

    Science fiction and fantasy, people! It doesn’t HAVE to resemble stereotypical-1950’s America!! Think outside the box!

    Jennifer Kesler,

    The virgin birth thing killed me. Really? Really?!? It would have been so much more powerful if Anakin’s father had died or left them. Or maybe if Anakin was the product of rape because HIS MOTHER WAS A SLAVE and so was Anakin and Lucas’s glossing over that fact just irked me. “Gee whiz, mister, I’m the cutest, happiest slave-moppet ever!” -Anakin

    Lucas has no idea about the harsh realities of slavery so his decision to make them slaves just smacked of “well, I need to give them the poorest most downtrodden backstory I can think of. BAM, slavery!”

    I could write a whole book on how Lucas flubbed the whole Anakin arc, though. Sweet Space Jesus, it was terrible. It’s like something I would have written in freshman year of high school.

  25. says

    Sylvia Sybil,

    Yep, I hear ya.

    JT: Or maybe if Anakin was the product of rape because HIS MOTHER WAS A SLAVE and so was Anakin and Lucas’s glossing over that fact just irked me.

    Yes, but you’ll notice in fiction other than historical, kids are NEVER born from rape. I was just thinking the other night, the “mom won’t tell me who my dad was” trope has been done a million times, and the only example where I can think of that it’s even hinted that maybe that’s because it was rape is in a 90s movie called “Secrets and Lies” where – when the mother finally convinces her daughter to stop asking – the mother gets this really traumatized look on her face for just a few seconds. It’s certainly not crystal clear what’s being implied, but that’s the first time I ever even saw room to interpret it that way. And COME ON, like that doesn’t happen? Even outside of slavery, that’s got to happen – I doubt it would even qualify as rare. Just “uncommon” would be my guess.

    And SW was a kids’ movie, so I’d come closer to giving them a pass than fiction targeting older age groups. But a virgin birth? C’mon.

    My biggest beef with Anakin’s arc is that it’s psychologically impossible. He doesn’t have the right background for becoming an adult who has no empathy, but he sure does things that people with empathy couldn’t cope with, including… well, just think about the scenes in Bespin between him and Luke from his point of view. “Can I use this kid? Is he powerful enough, yet not powerful enough to overtake me? Can I get everything I want by using him? Yes, now how do I manipulate him into siding with me? Ah, this isn’t working, fuck it, I’ll slice his hand off and force him to side with me? …oh, damn.” That’s pretty fucking empathy-free. AND YET we’re supposed to believe that by the end of Jedi something has changed and he’s capable of giving a damn about his son. NO HE IS NOT. He kills Palpatine not to save Luke but because that’s what he’s been trying to get Luke to help him with for ages, and hey, Luke frying like a piece of bacon is just the distraction he needed. Then he puts on an act to get Luke’s sympathy, because what else can he do to survive? Then when he doesn’t, somehow in Lucas’ theology, he’s redeemed by all this? WTF?

    Uh-huh. And that’s not even touching on the third ep, which I never saw, but have heard about.

  26. Patrick McGraw says

    My basic issue with Anakin’s story arc is this: It makes sense within the context of the SW universe, where being corrupted by the Dark Side of the Force has a clear physical and psychological effect on people. But the story is TOLD in the same way many a non-fantasy story has been told about redeeming sociopaths and narcissists.

    By itself, I think Anakin Skywalker’s story holds together well. But in the context of the society in which the story is being told? It winds up reinforcing a lot of crap.

  27. The Other Anne says

    Jennifer Kesler,

    I can honestly offthe top of my head think of only one fiction with a child born from rape and she is one of my favorite characters ever. Onyesonwu from Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor.

    As for Star Wars, I hated the new trilogy, and I couldn’t keep watching the first update of the new one. I miss my old VHS tapes of the original ones without the added special effects and changed editing. Lucas gets no love from me. StarWars will always be a childhood love of mine but someone just needs to take back all of Lucas’s creative control.

  28. says

    Sounds like something I should check out.

    BTW, you can see restored versions of the original SW movies – before he added CGI and stupid screams and so on – via Netflix. They were extras in one of the new sets. The quality isn’t quite what I expected, compared to re-mastered DVDs of similarly aged stories, but they ARE the original versions. I re-watched SW and ESB recently and was unable to keep the prequel bullshit out of my head and hated them. I’m thinking I’ll try them again sometime, with a deliberate attempt to forget everything that came post-1983.

  29. says

    Raven from the Teen Titans comic books was born from rape, I think. The demon Trigon raped her mother. Of course, they didn’t do that in the kids’ cartoon version.
    (I totally give SW a pass with that too, I was basically just ranting. The rape aspect was just one of the many ways Anakin’s family’s slavery was glossed over. And, I’m the last person to advocate for more rape as womens’ backstories, but in this case it would have been believable.)

    Not only was Jedi’s “redemption” arc unbelievable, but his growth from childhood into complete monster was too, if we are to believe what we are shown. We have a happy, “golly gosh!” kid without a hint of darkness who becomes an emo teenager and all of a sudden he’s able to kill innocents and “turn”? It would have been so much better if the boy had been portrayed as very troubled to begin with, yet charismatic and talented enough to fool Obi-Wan and Yoda into thinking he was the second coming. Basically, a sociopath. But I think that was beyond Lucas’s writing ability.
    And I think his and Padme’s relationship should have turned abusive, forcing her to flee with the kids (and hello! It would have jived with Leia’s memories of her mom, der!) I think he should have ultimately caught Padme and killed her for daring to leave him. What is this death-by-childbirth crap?

  30. says

    Patrick McGraw,

    Well, I never bought the ending of ROTJ, not even when I was 10. I already had the life experience to tell me people don’t go from cynically using you like a tool to giving a damn whether you live or die just because you show them you’d rather die than turn out like them.

    For a long time I tried to buy that the Force made things work differently there, but there were problems with that view. (1) The Force just happens to make it work exactly like the Pope says it does? Um. (2) Yoda said “once you start down the dark path”, that’s it. I assumed that was based on a long history of nobody coming back from the dark side, and nothing (by 1983) indicated Anakin was so extraordinary that he could pull that off. (Besides, I think we’re supposed to think Luke redeemed him, and that would mean Luke was the really special Force badass.)

    If, in hindsight, the whole point was that Anakin was so very special that he COULD go to the dark side AND return, AND there was some reason this had to happen, it got lost in the vague murmurings about “imbalance in the Force” and how the chosen one was supposed to fix it. Also, the problem with that version of the story is it renders Luke nothing but a tool Anakin used to redeem himself… and then we are right back in sociopath territory.

    I respect your take on it, I just can’t agree.

  31. Ara says

    Jennifer Kesler,

    I know there are probably a zillion problems with how they handle this dramatically, but Olivia on “Law and Order: Special Victims Unit” was born of rape, at least for the first however-many seasons until they decide to start complicating it.

  32. says

    I know there are probably a zillion problems with how they handle this dramatically, but Olivia on “Law and Order: Special Victims Unit” was born of rape, at least for the first however-many seasons until they decide to start complicating it.

    This is the first example that popped into my head, too. Olivia’s mother is an alcoholic and while drunk lets it slip that she never wanted a child, Olivia is the product of rape from a serial stranger rapist. Olivia tracks him down and learns he’s been paralyzed from the waist down, rendering him unable to rape again (?! You’d think a rape cop would know one doesn’t need a functioning penis to rape). Then she learns he has a son, also from rape. This half-brother is suspected of being a serial rapist, making Olivia all angsty about innate evil (switching back and forth between “having the genes of a rapist” and “somehow the stain of a violent conception can get into the soul”). Even for a show about rape, there is a metric shit-ton of rape in Olivia’s backstory. Especially since I hear she gets raped herself in prison in a later season.

    Other than that…well, The Iron Duke has multiple characters conceived during rape, all of them from the enslaved population. Only the biracial character gets any shit for it, and really it’s about her race not her conception.

    Other than that…any retelling of the King Arthur myths that are true to the original (Uther disguised himself as Ygraine’s husband because Ygraine wouldn’t commit adultery with him, and sires Arthur in the process). But a disturbing numbers of retellings don’t seem to realize that it is rape. *blech*

  33. Casey says

    Sylvia Sybil: Especially since I hear she gets raped herself in prison in a later season.

    ACTUALLY, she gets “Almost Raped ™” when going undercover in a women’s prison to investigate a rape by a corrections officer. He takes her down to the basement, roughs her up, handcuffs her to a door or something and ALMOST~!11one orally rapes her but then Fin busts in and she’s rescued.

    Does Carrie from the Stephen King novel count? Her mom said she was conceived when her father came home drunk one night and she hated herself for liking it or something…I think that maybe counts.

  34. says


    Almost Raped™! All the drama of rape-rape without any of the pesky side effects! Now you too can be a helpless damsel waiting for your male coworker to rescue you without enduring any of the lasting trauma that might mess up your Marriage ‘n’ Motherhood™! What, you don’t have any Marriage ‘n’ Motherhood™ yet? For a limited time only, get Almost Raped™ and we’ll throw in Marriage ‘n’ Motherhood™ for free! While supplies last.

  35. The Other Anne says

    This weeks links of great interest reminded me that Voldemort/Tom Riddle was born because his mother raped a man while she put him under a love potion or the curse for a year. And as I am looking forward to retracing the whole series soon, I am very interested in allthose links. I am looking forward to criticizing the series at the same time I enjoy it and am thinking of blogging my way through it.

  36. says


    Ah, I never heard that. That’s something.
    Sylvia Sybil,

    I didn’t know that about Arthur! Hmm, I’d forgotten for the moment that it was kind of source material for Star Wars, too. Hmmm.

    Casey: Her mom said she was conceived when her father came home drunk one night and she hated herself for liking it or something…I think that maybe counts.

    I’ve never read it, but King gets some of what it’s like to be a woman in this world. Given Dolores Claiborne, I wouldn’t be surprised if you’re right.

    Sylvia Sybil: All the drama of rape-rape without any of the pesky side effects!

    I’m actually working on an article about how attempted rape is not necessarily a bit less traumatic than what’s legally called “completed rape.” People seem to think there’s no psychological scarring unless you are penetrated in some fashion.

  37. Casey says

    Jennifer Kesler: People seem to think there’s no psychological scarring unless you are penetrated in some fashion.

    IIRC, after Olivia gets “Almost Raped(tm)” she starts experiencing PTSD and goes into therapy and “Rape Survivor’s Anonymous” meetings and generally beats herself up for having been so traumatized despite no “actual raping” taking place.

  38. says

    Jennifer Kesler,

    (In case I wasn’t clear, I was mocking TV’s messed up version of rape, not real rape.)

    That will be a good article to read. I’m a survivor of domestic violence and sexual assault, but not rape, and everybody up to and including a domestic violence clinic seems to think “no penis, no foul”. I can’t even begin to describe how helpless it feels to sit in a DV clinic and listen to a DV counselor tell me that since Asshole stopped halfway, I don’t really need their services.

  39. Maria says

    Re: characters born from rape:

    Octavia Butler’s Kindred’s main character is the descendent of an act of rape that defines the novel, as is the narrator of Gayl Jones’ Corregidora. The Conqueror’s Child features slave rape as well, and one of narrators is the product of slave rape. Raef is the product of slave rape in Cecelia Holland’s Varanger, and it’s heavily implied that Maria in the Great Maria is the product of rape as well. Jon Snow in GoT is *probably* the result of rape, as are Cersei’s children, and the children of that strange guy Robb Stark needs to ally himself with.

  40. The Other Anne says


    I went to tv tropes and found their article on it.

    There’s quite a few, and WAY too many of them are villains IMO. This trope is something I want to do more research on. Considering how so much of rape isn’t taken seriously IRL, it’s interesting (in that wtf sort of way) that being a child of rape would be seen as cause to become a villain or be super angsty. I would consider it justification to be angst, but when 11 and 13 year old girls are victim blamed I just can’t fathom why then a child produced by that in fiction is given more victimhood allowance than real people in the real world. I guess it’s one of those things where “real” rape is bad and in fiction we get to “know” if it’s rape or if a character is lying, but in reality too many people like to think of the default for women as lying about it with the man being the “victim.” which is obviously BS to anyone with any knowledge of rape and rape statistics but….

    I dunno. I’m hypothesizing. It’s also murky because not all on screen rape is viewed as rape by people. I had an awkward conversation with an old friend who didnt think Daeneries (sp?) was raped on her wedding night. I don’t really know how that can be anything but rape.

  41. says

    The Other Anne,

    I’ve had a couple of days to ponder my original comment and what prompted it. I’m finding that what specifically bothers me is the lack of adopted children of rape. When adopted kids set out to find their birth parents in fiction, they always find that Mommy had sex she shouldn’t have, the slut – usually it’s the much stigmatized teen pregnancy. It’s never that their mother was raped by anybody. And let’s face it: we are a society that only 20 or so years ago began to admit that date rape happens, that male relatives rape little girls in their homes, etc. I don’t have stats how often those situations lead to pregnancies, but it’s far from infrequent enough to warrant no mention in fiction at all. Girls impregnated by their own fathers make headlines every few years, and date rape’s probably far more common than that.

    But because these victims are invisible to us – erased by our unwillingness to see Nice Men as rapists, so much so that many rape victims don’t recognize themselves as such because they believe the myths – we don’t put them in our fiction. Nope – women who give up babies are either whores or Madonnas (literal virgin births), never victims of rape culture.

    The Other Anne: Considering how so much of rape isn’t taken seriously IRL, it’s interesting (in that wtf sort of way) that being a child of rape would be seen as cause to become a villain or be super angsty.

    This might be left over from the stereotype of The Bastard who’s usually either a villain or very angsty?

  42. says

    The thing that bothers me about fictional rape babies is that it’s never just a part of their life. As you say, The Other Anne, it’s always cause for great suffering or great evil or something. I have both friends and relatives who are the product of rape, and given the great numbers of rape in our society there must be plenty more in my life. And you know, I was there when one of my relatives learned. She scrunched up her face, said “Ew. I’m sorry, Mom,” assurances of love all around, and then the topic changed.

    Obviously some people will be more impacted by the revelation, and that’s valid – but not changing is also valid. That was your entire life ago. If your mother has recovered (or never shows you her pain), and you know that you are wanted and loved, why would every single person be screwed up by the knowledge?

  43. Ara says

    Sylvia Sybil,

    I wonder how much of that is connected to the “Grandma Got Hit by a Bus” principle. (This is seriously what my writing professor called it.) Basically, you don’t write about normal days and people; you write about unusual days and people: you don’t write about the day someone went out to the store to buy bread, you write about the day someone went out to the store to buy bread and got hit by a bus on the way.

    So if you write about rape, you write about the really screwed up ones that mucked up everybody’s life because “what point is there in including it if it isn’t going to be a big deal?” This could also be a misapplication of the second part of the Chekhov’s Gun principle, “don’t put the gun on the mantlepiece in act one unless you’re using it in act five”– if every mentioned facet of a character’s background has to either be useful or come back to bite them later, including rape means that it must therefore come up and be a big deal.

    Combine the two writing principles and it might explain a lot, especially given that rape is such a polarized subject these days that writers might not want to deal with the outcry about it if it was just a background detail. (Because I guarantee that some group of people, somewhere, would get really upset at the writers for “just tossing in a rape as a backstory for no good reason” if it was in there and didn’t dramatically alter the life of the character when they found out.)

    Not that this excuses them but it might explain the thought processes…

  44. says


    I understand what you’re saying, and maybe that even is the rationale behind the absence, but it’s an excuse not a reason. Look at the number of teen protagonists with married parents vs. divorce, for example. Sometimes it’s a story about divorce and how it turns the child’s life upside down, but sometimes it’s just a story about finding a magic sword where the teen has to ask Mom and Stepdad’s permission to save the world, not Dad’s. Even if the divorce is an integral part of the backstory (Buffy the Vampire Slayer – parents’ divorce provides impetus to move to new town. The Princess Diaries – parents’ divorce explains why she doesn’t learn about her royal ancestry until high school.) it’s still backstory.

    So why aren’t there more characters with rape explaining their absent parents instead of always death and divorce? Especially if they’re peasants or slaves or some other underclass historically used and abused?

    I think rape is a sacred cow. (Bear with me as I feel my way through this thought process.) “Rape” is socially constructed as the virgin walking home from church who’s grabbed and held at gunpoint by an unknown man of a minority race. Anything less than that, and we start demanding questions. Was she White? Was she straight? Was she rich? Was her skirt long enough, her neckline high enough? Did she actually say the word “no”, because crying and shaking your head doesn’t count? Well, there you have it, she’s not a rape survivor, she’s just a lying slut.

    So we already put rape on a pedestal like it’s expensive and rare and must in each case forever warp the lives of everyone around the survivor (especially her husband and/or father, charged with protecting her; their pain is ten times worse than hers, for hers is the pain of mere rape and theirs is the pain of utmost failure. *blech*). We fail to recognize that our normality is already rape-warped and expect rape to warp our lives further. (This trope leads people, including police officers, to dismiss the stories of survivors who don’t look traumatized enough to satisfy an arbitrary standard.)

    So if it shows up in fiction, maybe people do expect it be a Chekhov’s Gun. But that shouldn’t matter. Unless you’re writing about Utopia or an alien species, rape should be a part of your world. In historical or contemporary fiction, rape should be a normal part of your world. Maybe not a prominent part of your plot, but you as the author need to be aware of it and plan around it. Anything less is shitty worldbuilding.

    • Maria says

      I do want to point out that this isn’t the case in every genre of fiction. The banality of rape is pretty present in a lot of feminist/womanist black fiction (again, check out Toni Morrison, Octavia Butler, Zora Neale Hurston, etc), the fictionalized biographies of WOC produced during slavery (like in Clotel, the President’s Daughter), and black feminist biographical writing (thinking here of Maya Angelou’s stuff in particular). I mean, in The Bluest Eye, one of the main male character’s inability to protect his partner from rape (and his unwillingness to acknowledge his own rape) lead him to rape his daughter.

      The reason I’m bringing up these examples in particular is because when things like the Color Purple come out, and indict patriarchy in the continued physical and economic exploitation of black women, they get a lot of controversy for being angry, anti-(black) man films/books. They also get canonized as THE black book you have to include in your Diversity in American Lit class or whatever. I think this illustrates two things:

      1. Talking about rape as an everyday thing is DANGEROUS. Their Eyes Were Watching God got lost, Alice Walker got death threats, Toni Morrison as well, and the story told in Clotel (based on Jefferson’s treatment of Sally Hemings and her children) was widely disbelieved.

      2. If it IS considered a valuable story (Their Eyes Were Watching God, Beloved NOW, Color Purple NOW, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings NOW), they’re removed from a larger sociopolitical context… so even tho they don’t PUT rape on a pedestal, the rape they DESCRIBE is put on a pedestal.

      Anywho, here’s some links:

  45. Ikkin says

    Going back to Star Wars for a minute: wasn’t it hinted that Anakin Skywalker’s “virgin birth” was actually caused by the manipulations of a Sith Lord (Darth Plagueis, who was the predecessor to Darth Sidious/Palpatine)? Judging by Wookiepedia, the canonical explanation seems to have been left somewhat ambiguous, but I think one could make a fair argument that Anakin was a product of mystical Force-based rape (since it’s rather unlikely that his mother would have consented to have her body used in that way by a Sith Lord).

    It’s certainly not something that the canon likes to dwell on, though, considering the dearth of solid information.

  46. says


    Agreed. There is room for some very interesting interpretation in many elements of the SW trilogy. But like you said, the canon doesn’t dwell on a lot of that interesting stuff, and the obvious interpretations remain… well, obvious.

  47. says


    That’s a good point. I haven’t read any of the books you mention, but I’ve heard of them and my pop culture osmosis has them tagged as “inspirationals about extraordinary circumstances”. So while I am adding these to my TBR, I think you’re absolutely right about what the larger society is teaching about this genre.

  48. says

    Maria: 1. Talking about rape as an everyday thing is DANGEROUS. Their Eyes Were Watching God got lost, Alice Walker got death threats, Toni Morrison as well, and the story told in Clotel (based on Jefferson’s treatment of Sally Hemings and her children) was widely disbelieved.

    And I wonder if it would be more or less dangerous to talk about rape as an everyday thing among white middle classers. On the one hand, white men can brush off “demonizing” portrayals by women authors, because those portrayals don’t have the power to put a dent in white male privileges. On the other hand, white men are capable of creating a much bigger backlash than black men can, because of their relative power. But it’s going to be a quiet backlash: no outrage in the media, just quiet arrangements to have much bigger news overshadow the book’s promotion, etc.

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