Today the Fantastic Beasts 3 trailer dropped, as did more transphobia from JK Rowling. (God, her PR people must despair of her.) But at the same time I saw this old tweet from 2020 go round, Marilyn Manson showing off some roses Rowling had sent him.
I saw lots of people comment with things like, “So? This was in 2020 before anyone knew he was an abuser.” But people did know to some extent, they had for years! His shows and music were full of misogyny, he was accused of harassment and racism in 2018, he started dating Evan Rachel Wood when she was 19 and he was 37… What could Rowling have possibly seen in him to want to extend a friendly hand, you know?
I mean…. This comes attached with every trigger warning imaginable, but Manson casually talked about sexually assaulting a woman in his own autobiography, which came out in 1998. I won’t go into detail for obvious reasons but he talked about setting her pubic hair on fire and digitally penetrating her, all while referring to her in the most disgusting and dehumanizing terms. It made me feel sick when I read it, physically sick.
How could Rowling not have known?! Yeah alright I’ll accept that maybe she didn’t think to look, but well- her twitter contains numerous posts fearmongering about trans people and yet there’s nothing there at all condemning the rapist she sent roses to.
Honestly, I had no clue. All I really knew about her was that she was in Rebel Without A Cause and that she died in a boating accident. So I clicked her name, and…
…I had no idea about that. Absolutely none. With Kirk Douglas’s death having happened yesterday now everyone is talking about it, and I’m glad. That being said I didn’t see a single mention of a rape case in any of his obituaries.
Woke up to the news that a judge considers the perpetrator of a filmed rape to be “deserving of leniency.” A teenager considered one of his female peers to be worth so little that not only did he assault her, he shared footage of the attack and captioned it “when your first time having sex was rape.”
Like. Okay. I don’t throw the word “psychopath” around lightly but this kid legitimately sounds like a psychopath. His victim might never be the same again, and what does the rapist get? Compliments from the judge, because oh his scores for college entry were very high!
It’s just like the Brock Turner case, an explosion of privilege and excuses, and it’s terrifying. Completely bloody terrifying.
Whenever I hear about teenage rapists it reminds me of something that happened in my home city. Still one of the worst rape cases I’ve ever heard about, and it happened in a place I’d walked around many times, still do in fact. (But never at night. Don’t think you’ll get many women going there at night now, really.) A person who’d just celebrated their 17th birthday walked into a park, raped a woman, beat her almost to death with a paving stone and left her. I’m calling him ‘a person’ because I don’t think he deserves the label of ‘man’. The woman survived only because someone came across her in the dark. She helped send him to prison.
That rapist’s name was Charlie Pearce. Let’s hope this “deserving of leniency” rapist gets named as well. Why can’t women walk through parks at night? Why can’t they go to parties?
“Personally, it has taken me 47 years to stop calling people who are mean to you ‘in love’ with you. It took a long time because I think that as little girls we are conditioned to believe that cruelty and love somehow have a connection and that is like the sort of era that we need to evolve out of.”
In case you’re wondering how CTM’s ‘ship woman’ story actually transpired in reality, Jenny Worth describes it like this (cut for disturbing content, though you can probably tell from the tags how this is gonna go:)
In the memoir it’s Chummy, not Trixie, who attends to the birth aboard the ship. There, Kirsten (referred to mostly as Kirsty in the book) tells Chummy that her father started prostituting her when she was fourteen, and he rapes her too. She doesn’t find anything horrifying about the situation, thinks the incest is perfectly normal, and loves her father for taking care of her even as she’s…fucking…raped by ten or twelve men a night. The baby is born and Chummy plans to go back later for the post-natal care (very important), but the harbourmaster tells the nuns the ship sailed away in the night, the captain obviously having twigged that medical professionals wouldn’t let “raped your daughter constantly since she was a teenager” go.
MIGHT have to face a prison sentence?!!?!
Anyway, out of all the horrible stories in CTM the memoir, that one sticks in my mind the most. These days surely, surely something would be done, but it wasn’t these days, so that poor woman just sailed out of history and might well have died.
I’m reminded of the time Paul Ryan once casually implied that rape was little more than another form of conception…and how, under the guise of “family values, Republicans pushed laws that gave convicted rapists visitation rights…
Republicans are evil. Period. You’re on the wrong side of literally everything if you support them, even conditionally.
Republicans need to be voted out and opposed at every possible step.
Fictional characters who shaped my life (not in any order): BrionyTallis
I think people are scared of Briony, y’know. She failed to grasp the notion that other people were as real as her, that was her big mistake, and we’ve all been there. She thought she was doing right, or at least not doing wrong, but she messed up badly and we’ve all been there. She lived in a society where a man can rape a teenage girl and suffer no negative repercussions at all, and…
…we’ve all been there.
Anyway. James McAvoy thinks she’s rotting in hell, which causes me to wonder where exactly Paul Marshall is in that case. And also to wonder what Luc Cornet would have thought of that, because Briony was a good nurse and she lied to him when he was dying, the good comforting kind of lie. Briony went on to marry another Frenchman, actually, her marriage didn’t make it into the movie but got one sentence (one sentence!) in the book. I wonder how much her husband knew. I bet he loved her anyway. I hope he did.
Briony’s telling of Robbie and Cecilia’s story was also the good comforting kind of lie, and one that casts her (or did she cast herself?) as the architect of their destruction – but it wasn’t all her fault. Most of it is Paul Marshall’s fault, although he seems to get a pass for reasons Benedict Cumberbatch himself would be very disappointed in. Briony accused the wrong man, yes, but Cecilia and Robbie themselves came close to doing the same (“I suppose we owe an apology to Able Seaman Hardman”) and she was a child, thirteen years old, not even old enough to understand what she saw in the library.
Briony could have been anyone; could have been me. One fuzzy memory, one fear, one moment of ego and it’s all over. She was so busy being the hero of her own story she forgot she was also the supporting character of someone else’s. Scary, isn’t it?
She’s eventually punished in what must be the worst way imaginable for her: she’s a writer, a storyteller, but the dementia she’s been diagnosed with will cause her to lose all her stories- all her memories will fade away, and slowly. She was punished disproportionate to her crime, I think. She had a massive god complex- that was what caused her to try and give the characters Cecilia and Robbie a happy ending, while she could do nothing for the real people- but she tried to atone for it. To people like Luc and Fiona (do you know, I actually ship Briony/Fiona a little) she was a good person. And she never forgave herself for what she did, not even in her retelling of events, where she could have twisted the truth and didn’t.
She was arrogant and selfish and in many ways she wasn’t brave, but I don’t think she’s in hell. Or she’d better bloody not be.
Censorship of sexuality, especially while simultaneously violence, particularly sexual violence, is left uncensored, and the harmful implication this juxtaposition has on our collective sexual wellness, is something I’ve written a lot about, like here and here. Hell, I’ve even written a book about it.
So when I found out there is a new “kid safe” search engine called Kiddle designed to block adult search returns for children, I feared it had sex-is-bad-and-violence-is-normal disaster written all over it. When I learned the results are handpicked by humans and not a computer broadly banning based on keywords, I was extra curious to see if I was still right. I was.
I typed in a bunch of different searches that a child might reasonably want or *need* to anonymously ask the Internet. Well, I’ll let you see the results for yourself:
My girlfriend hits me” is also a bad word.
Inquiries about vaginal discharge are, you guessed it, also bad words.
Related bad words: menstrual care, menstrual pads, menstruation, and uterus.
When avoiding a gay dating website in the search results is considered a higher priority of “safety” for children than their homelessness, and you recommend confronting their abusive parents, we have a tish bit of a problem.
If I was 12, typed this into a search engine, and instead of results got a “bad word” finger wagging, I would take the answer to the “is it ok to be bisexual” question as a big fat NO it’s not OK :(
But the human censors apparently allows kids to search for this one under their “kid safe” censorship policies.
So questions about puberty, health, identity, and seeking help for sexual abuse is not “safe”, but kids buying guns is. I feel like a broken record, so I’m going to let you all unpack it this time. Discuss:
why would a child need to know about oral sex?? it’s obvious most of these words can lead to some pretty heavy adult stuff and, emphasis on CHILD. like this isn’t even made for teenagers, it’s for kids. babbies. what kind of fucked up world are you living in where children under the age of eleven have romantic relationships and search google for information on their vagina?? are y’all mad???
Mad? I’d go so far as “furious”. Because they don’t necessarily have romantic relationships, but they sure as hell sometimes have abusive relationships. Why would a child need to know about oral sex? So they know it’s not “a special way daughters kiss their daddies to say they love them”.
And a fair number of people with vaginas start bleeding out of them before they turn 11. And want to know why. And aren’t getting told by the people who think they need to have a “safe” search engine.
You probably don’t know this woman: her name is Franca Viola. She was born in Alcamo, Sicily, in 1947, during a time where, see, things for women were deeply different.
This is her when she was 17.
She was 17 when, on the 26th of December, 1965, she was kidnapped by her former boyfriend, Filippo Melodia, the son of a local mobster, and a few of his friends: she had broken the engagement with him a couple of years prior, when she was 15 and he was 23, and he couldn’t accept it. He kept her segregated in a farmhouse for 8 days and raped her, before she was found and freed by the police.
At that time, the Italian law stood with her kidnapper and rapist, as it stated that if the rapist married his victim, then the crime was virtually erased, and, had the guilty part already been prosecuted and convicted, the trial and the sentence would cease. This kind of marriage was called “rehabilitating marriage,” as it was believed that the victim, and her family, had to fix the dishonour caused by the rape.
Incredible, isn’t it? Not really. In an area where families still used to hang the sheet dirty with blood to their balcony after the first wedding night to prove the virginity of the woman to the entire town, the law and the public opinion still expected women to marry their abusers to mantain their honour.
Franca refused to marry Melodia. Knowing that the entire town – and, later, the whole country – could turn its back at her, knowing that she was going to be mocked, frowned upon, and insulted, she denounced him. Her family, who, contrarily to many other families, stood with her and supported her choice, needed to be guarded at all times by a handful of policemen, having been threatened by Melodia and his family. Franca was assisted by a brilliant lawyer. The trial ended up being reported by Italy’s major newspapers, and Franca, the first woman – girl – to refuse rehabilitating marriage, quickly became an example of bravery for many, many other women.
In court, Melodia tried to turn the judge against her. He said she’d already hooked up with him when they were together. He tried to escape conviction.
He was convicted for kidnapping anyway, and justly. Eight years later, when he got out, he was shot dead by an unknown killer.
Despite earlier threats that she was dishonoured, and that she wasn’t going to find anyone willing to marry her, she married Giuseppe, a childhood friend, in 1968, who stated that he wasn’t afraid of any possible acts of revenge from Melodia. He allegedly said said, “I’d rather live ten years with you than a lifetime with another woman.” About her dad, who supported her every step, Franca recently said, “My father Bernardo came [to get me] unshaven, with a week’s old beard: I could not shave if you were not there, he said. What do you want to do, Franca? I will not marry him. All right, you put your hand, I will put one hundred. This sentence, he said. I just want you to be happy, nothing else. He took me home and he did the great effort, not me. It was him who put up with those who no longer greeted him, his friends gone. The shame, the dishonour. His head up high. He wanted only what was good for me.”
When he heard about her wedding, even Pope Paul VI asked to meet her to congratulate her.
Her trial was the final push to erase the law about rehabilitating marriage and honour killings, which also allowed “mitigating circumstances” if the killer had acted upon jealousy or to restore his honour (for instance, if a husband walked in on his wife cheating on him, and killed both her and her lover). But that didn’t happen until 1981.
Rape was finally considered a “crime against the person,” instead of a crime “against the morals”, only in 1996.
She still lives in Alcamo; she says that, sometimes, she still sees her kidnappers, and whilst she greets them, they lower her gaze in shame. Franca has never, not once, lowered her gaze, and that’s why she changed history.
This is just a tiny post to remember how small acts of courage can change history and change the shape of a nation – and as a woman, an Italian, a Sicilian woman, I want to thank Franca for saying ‘no’ and – perhaps by chance – changing the history of Italy.
Reblogging again for International Women’s Day, in celebration of the women who changed history.
This is Franca Viola today, an elegant and gentle woman, now grandmother of a little girl.
In 2014, on this day, she was honoured as Grande Ufficiale al merito della Repubblica italiana – Great official for merit of Italy – for her role in fighting the misoginyst mentality of those times, and contributed to re-think the approach towards rape and the role of women in Italian society.