Feminism in Star Wars: Rey Vs. Princess Leia

The new Star Wars film has a woman with a gun shooting people and committing other acts of violence. She also has various other skills. This has been described as feminist by some, in contrast to Princess Leia. If people want more characters (or worse, people) like Rey, then I’m afraid feminism still has a lot to accomplish.

If you praise Rey for her skills and ‘strength’, you’re probably uncomfortable with a female character being a human. This new obsession with resilience, with a power fantasy also leaked itself into discussions around Mad Max. I don’t know which is worse. A power fantasy about violence, or a fantasy about being weak and defined by how a man feels about you.

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Your average Fallout protagonist

Rey has no unique line of dialogue, no reactions that are specific to her that define her personality. Han Solo is a sarcastic, gritty smuggler. Chewbacca is his partner who growls and says whatever is on his mind. Finn is a moral hero who’s too afraid to be a hero. Kylo Ren is an angry teenager dying for a little bit of power. BB-8 is a childish, more energetic version of R2-D2.

What makes Rey unique?

People praised Rey for being strong, for being skilled and ‘surviving on her own’. If you played a Fallout game, you know that’s not much of an achievement. A character survives on a wasteland because the author wrote it so. A character can fix a spaceship because the author put skill points into that area.

Characters are not defined by skills. They are defined by their personalities, their desires and needs and flaws and inner conflicts. These are the qualities that drive stories. If skills were enough, then my Amazon in Diablo II would have been one of the best female characters ever.

The skills of the Amazon don’t move the story of Diablo. Why the Amazon would go chasing after Diablo could be an obsession with morality, or revenge, or desire for glory. Each of these traits would lead to a drastically different story with different themes.

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From one fantasy to the next, we still struggle to draw women as human beings

A hero concerned more with glory would interact differently with characters. They would boast and they would only take missions that will grant them fame. A hero that seeks revenge will have tunnel vision, won’t bother about anything but killing Diablo. In all of these stories the Amazon still has the skills. She can still throw javelins, yet they’re so different.

Princess Leia is more of a human than Rey. She might be a damsel in distress, but that’s her initial role. It’s not her personality. Throughout the film we learn who she is by how she speaks. She’s confident in her position of power. She’s so used to it she speaks to everyone in a bossy way. As soon as she’s rescued she takes command of the gang. Notice how, before they reach Leia they’re a bunch of weird buffons.

Rey doesn’t affect her surroundings like this. I often forgot she even existed. I cannot remember a scene that her personality contributed anything to. There is a bit of ‘tough girl’ persona going on, but it’s not well-developed. Rey screams here and there for Finn to stop holding her hand. Instead of sounding strong, she sounds like a grumpy tsundere. It’s shocking she also didn’t call him ‘baka’.

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Looks feminine, relies on a guy and still has more personality

The tough girl persona can work, of course. Furiosa was a cliche, but the creators (kind of) knew what makes the cliche work. Everything in her appearance pointed to a hero so rugged they have no existence outside of posing with shotguns. She has a distinct look that fits her archetype. Rey’s archetype is more vague. She’s tough, but not in a unique manner. Furiosa was tough in an 80’s action way. She’s inspired by Schwarznegger and Sylvester Stallone – the desexualized human who exists to kill people because it’s fun. Of course, they did tack the whole redemption thing but I already addressed Fury Road‘s failure at feminism.

It’s weird how Western cinema still struggles with female characters. You don’t have to explore anime too much to find diverse casts. Just look to Neon Genesis Evangelion or Attack on Titan. Even shows that rely on sexiness and fanservice, like Freezing, still have a cast that’s as diverse as their design. What’s better is that all of these characters can be developed without hiding their femininity. The characters of Freezing don’t need a tough exterior to fight the Novas.

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Leia isn’t satisfied with just getting rescued – she reacts.

The request for more women who ‘kick ass’ (basically, are violent) is odd. The obsession with power also makes me question whether these people even understand how fiction works. Fiction isn’t a fantasy to escape from reality to. Fiction, like any other art form, brings us closer to reality. It’s supposed to connect to it in some way. It can be anything from exploring pure visual beauty or themes of life and death. A character that is a wish fulfillment is boring.

I wonder how long it will take until this trend will die. Trends come and go, anyway. We now have an obsession with toughness and grimdarkness. We used to have an obsession with escapist brightness. Someday we’ll look at it all and laugh at how stupid we are.

Further reading: Keely’s series of posts on Strong Female Characters

TumblrInAction, Feminism and The Straw Men

Look, I love TumblrinAction. The things they post are hilarious. They’re so disconnected from reality and logic, so dying to protect their little worldview that they will lash at everything. I talked to religious people who stick to their dogma, but it’s never like this. The religious often have a sense of doubt and humility. They think, “God shows me X and Y. The rest isn’t up for me”. The posts on TumblrinAction are different.

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Check this picture. This person is sure he has to resort to fanfiction because gay people are so hard to find in literature. Now, of course there will be less gay people than straight ones in literature. There are less gay people overall. It’s how I can’t expect Jews to feature in a lot of books, because Jews are a worldwide minority (Actually, they do have a presence in literature for some reason but that’s a different discussion). I only have to Google ‘Gay Literature’ and I get a huge Wikipedia article that even links to a page about gay literature from Singapore.

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In this one, they rail against nature. You were born blonde? Too bad! You appropriate cultures and are a racist! It’s funny how quickly this degenerates into saying people are X because of what they were born with. Isn’t that how racism works?

As hilarious as that subreddit is, we need to remember this. No matter how good an idea is, it can still attract morons. We will still eat our favorite type of food just because it has the potential to attract flies.

TumblrinAction is useful in displaying what went wrong with social justice. As an idea, it’s not bad. There’s no reason why one group should have more power over another because of illegetimate reasons. There’s no need to discriminate people based on skin color or sex or body structure.

Social justice, at its best, makes us question assumptions about society. Racism and sexism are dogmatic. They do not encourage discussion. They promote the idea that individuals belong in a certain group and that determines their value. These are inherent traits that can’t change. These are not fluid categories that change, nor do they have scientific basis. Sex exists, but it’s not our only trait. Race is complete pseudoscience.

Social justice should make us these question these assumptions and categories. It should question the main narrative, offers a new one but make sure the new one is also open to criticism. If you criticize something but refuse to check the flaws in your alternative, you do not care about improving things anymore. You only care about gaining power.

It’s similar to the Left/Right axis. The purpose stops being improvement or solving problems and it become defeating some enemy. That’s what we see in a lot of social justice discussions today. They’re not really discussing specific issues, but just look for ways to push the narrative of victimhood. That’s why EverydayFeminism publishes an article about how focusing on female pleasure is misogynistic (because it might! Just might put pressure on her) or the article about “People say Islam is homophobic because of racism”, sweeping away any evidence.

Criticism of these people can easily degenerate into what they are. If the only social justice content you encounter is from TumblrinAction, you’ll become just another raving extremist. I haven’t seen it in the subreddit itself, but I’ve seen people react this way to the content that gets published there.

A guy on Facebook keeps ranting about feminists, how they are all full of hate and uses examples from crazies on Tumblr. The irony is, MRA’s rarely talk about raped-males and such issues in a way that’s not a weapon against feminism (Dear MRA’s: Male victims of rape aren’t weapons in your silly little war). He cheered for the removal of feminism from history lessons. Apparently, since feminists offended him now it’s okay to remove facts from history lessons. There was even a post which could be summed up as “You got raped because it’s your own fault”.

This is not a person who believes in equality and is frustrated with what feminism became. I’m not going to get on anyone’s ass just because they don’t label themselves feminists. I tackle ideas, not people. Still, this is an example of a person who doesn’t care about equality or anything. It’s about defeating the feminists, the so-called hateful bigots. Issues aren’t discussed. Rather, he posts rants about feminists or by feminists and use it as proof they’re out to get our precious fluids.

We must be wary of being too attached to our ideas. The purpose of our ideas is to be useful. If an idea isn’t true nor useful, it must be discarded no matter how much we love it. Ideas are supposed to serve us. We shouldn’t serve ideas. The question rises: Some people will stick to ideas that only benefit themselves and might harm others, no?

Of course, but this is a different discussion, of selfishness vs. community. Even if what drives you is pure selfishness, you still need to avoid getting attached to ideas. You might miss ideas that will benefit you more.

Schrodinger’s Rapist or: Stranger Danger 2: Electric Boogalo

There are all kinds of problems with Schrodinger’s Rapist. It’s fairly logical, but it only states obvious things that don’t further our understanding. It’s a nice-sounding buzzword, too. As far as trying to reveal greater truths about the existence of rape culture, it’s a failure. In order to reveal rape culture, you’ll have to reveal something. This is just Stranger Danger with a feminist paintjob.

I’m going to tackle it from various points.

First of all, the language switch. This is the quote from Rebecca Watson with the sexes switched:

When you approach me in public, you are Schrödinger’s Rapist. You may or may not be a woman who would commit rape. I won’t know for sure unless you start sexually assaulting me. I can’t see inside your head, and I don’t know your intentions. If you expect me to trust you—to accept you at face value as a nice sort of girl—you are not only failing to respect my reasonable caution, you are being cavalier about my personal safety.

Dear women, you are Schrodinger’s False Rape Accuser, or Rapist, or Heartbreaker, or Run-Away-With-Child-er, or Mugger. I’m afraid, too.

What if made this a race issue? Schrodinger’s Black Mugger. Assuming black people commit more crimes (for whatever reason – class or genes or rap cred or because of biased reporting), wouldn’t it be reasonable to think a black person is Schrodinger’s Mugger until he proves otherwise?

Schrodinger’s Rapist is true, but its logic also encourages distrust of women. Even if you confine it to rape, males still get raped. Even if it happens less often, it does. Men being in power doesn’t matter. It’s not going to make the experience of a raped male any better.

Schrodinger’s Rapist is also an extension of Stranger Danger. Stranger Danger is an idea that should’ve been discarded long ago. People remember it when they want to ‘keep their children safe’ (=locked in the house with only a math textbook) and forget about it when complaining about how antisocial everyone is.

Stranger Danger is promotion of asocial behavior. Don’t talk to strangers. Don’t respond when they talk to you. They’re all out to get you. What people forget is that everyone is a stranger until you get to know them, including the parents. The baby simply didn’t have any control.

Strangers might hurt you. Asocial behavior is certain to hurt you. Isolation is a common factor when it comes to depression and depression is a common factor when it comes to suicide. Stranger Danger didn’t contribute anything.

Stranger Danger (Schrodinger’s Rapist) also fail because it’s not only strangers who hurt us. These strangers have probably been brainwashed with being asocial, too. It’s often people we are close to who hurt us the most. Rape occurs more often by familiar people rather than strangers.

That makes perfect sense. If you want to rape, it’s easier and safer to do it with someone you know, who trusts you. They will be less resistant at first. You already know how to interact with them and how to coerce them to having sex. You can guilt trip them later. If you’re the dominating person in a social group, they will less likely to accuse you.

The idea can cause more harm than good. It will make women fearful of strangers, but it can make them more lax with familiar people who are most likely to rape them. Where does the circle end though?

It also misses the point. By telling people not to act like rapists, you’re actually telling rapists how better to conceal themselves. A person with little regard to consent doesn’t need to be told how ‘not to act like a rapist’ but why rape is so wrong.

Acting like a rapist and raping are two different things. A person can have an aggressive, loud behavior. He can even care little for personal space and accidentally touch you, but it doesn’t mean he’s a rapist. It means he’s loud, obnoxious and doesn’t care much for personal space. It doesn’t mean he’s inconsiderate (or sadistic) enough so he will harass you.

The only surefire way to tell if someone is a rapist or a sexual harasser is when they actually do it. We should not teach people how not to act like a rapist. We don’t people not-acting like rapists, but we want them to not rape at all.

I also saw a claim that talking to people who are currently in the middle of something – reading a book, on the laptop, browsing Facebook on their phone is rude. I fail to see rudeness in initiating social interaction. It’s rude to keep pushing if a person tells you s/he’s busy, but it’s possible that this person is browsing Facebook because there’s nothing to do on the train.

You will get hurt less by telling a person who approached you to leave you alone then by not being approached to at all. Loneliness is more damaging than we think. The fact some people won’t leave you alone is rude, but is a different story.

(Here’s some Hypocrisy With Natalists moment: You think it’s rude when guys approach you while you’re reading a book, but think it’s fine to force people into existence? That kid you just forced into existence and wants to die suffers way, way more than you.)

If Schrodinger’s Rapist is supposed to make us understand better the fear women have of rape, it fails. It’s Stranger Danger in disguise. It’s actually worse than Stranger Danger. Its main message is that you can’t trust anyone. In some ways it’s true. Anyone can hurt you. The key word is ‘can’. It’s possible they will and it’s possible it won’t. There is one thing that’s guaranteed – loneliness, isolation and fear of communication will hurt you no matter what.

Women Have the Absolute Right to Have Sex

We’re at a bar. I might hate myself, but not that much. So I’m drinking a beer that resembles soda less than others – it was Guinness or Weinshtephen, can’t remember. I wasn’t that drunk. Anyway, a girl a (gay) friend of mine knows is there. The world “revealing” doesn’t describe well her clothing. Her whole back’s exposed. She flirts with every guy there. She dances with the bartenders and the waiters. She gets free shots. The lead singer of the band calls her by name and tell her to leave the poor guy next to her alone.

To her credit, they were whiskey shots instead of vodka. The guy she was all over was also pretty big. Most girls I know prefer the skinny.

That’s going off-topic. The reaction to her from my friends is slut. There’s no depth to it. She’s a slut. She’s an idiot. She flirts with everyone and that’s disgusting. I’m supposed to not want to have sex with her because “the whole town was in her”. Gay man talks and jokes with her, but when we meet a few weeks later in someone’s house he talks about how stupid she is.

The exact same thing happened to me a year or two back. There was a time when every second or third week there was a house party. A certain girl came to most of them and she also flirted with everyone. She made out with a friend’s friend who came from overseas. Her outfit was meant to emphasize the shape of her body. My friends wanted her. They also went on and on, angrily, about how a slut she is.

What’s wrong with that?

I once got into a debate with some people on this topic. This is the main arguement. If it doesn’t make sense to you, it’s just a difference of personal experience.

The girl is passive and the guy is active. The girl works hard on her looks, but she’s not active in the interaction. The guy’s role is to flirt, to start conversation, to lead. He’s supposed to ‘get’ her. She’s supposed to not ‘give up’ easily. The harder the guy works, the more valueable she is. It also means that if you can get a hard to get girl, you’re therefore much more valueable. The girl is the reward.

There is so much wrong with this narrative that I’m not sure where to begin.

First off, if this narrative is true and that’s how it’s supposed to be, what is rape? After all, rape is when the guy ‘gets’ the girl, only his method is force. Since rape is awful and part of why it’s wrong is the lack of consent, it means we need consent in this narrative. However, this narrative doesn’t include it.

What actually happens in real life is not that the guy ‘gets’ the girl, but that the girl agrees to have sex, or go out for coffe, or to an Incubus live show. The girl is an actual active agent who does more than just look good. The girl also filters out the guys she doesn’t want, just as the guy filters the girls he won’t chase after.

There is no ‘hard to get’ because the girl is not something you get. Sex is not something you get. Sex is a shared activity that’s supposed to be fun for both sides, in the same way going out for drinks or to see a movie is. We may have a higher standard for sex. We will have sex with less people than people we go to watch movies with, but it’s supposed to be a shared activity. The girl also wants to enjoy this.

This narrative is also harsh on guys. It puts a death sentence on socially inept guys. If you’re not good at initiating conversations and flirting, you will never enjoy sex or the company of women. Now, I don’t mind that there may a lot of guys who will be forever alone. It’ll be right if it’s because they’re just not attractive, not because of a social mindset that views their behavior as wrong.

If a guy is forever alone because no girl was ever attracted to him, that’s okay. If he’s forever alone because he’s afraid to initiate, and girls who are attracted to him won’t talk to him because ‘it’s the guy’s job’ then it’s society that makes us against our will.

Another important thing that the narrative doesn’t touch is morality. Is there any moral reason not to have sex? Is having sex with a random person hurts anyone? I’m leaving off bad sex – rape, people who have sex just to cope with loneliness and the like. I’m talking about a situation with two people just want to have sex and there’s nothing hidden.

I don’t see how this hurts anybody. It could be I’m missing something. Until then, I will hold that just as it’s okay for a woman to meet me as friends, it’s okay for her to have sex with me as friends.

Sadly, I have this cached thought often. I see these girls and ‘slut’ comes to my mind. There’s a much stronger thought there, though. I love to see girls who flirt with every guy and aren’t afraid to show their sexuality. It’s not just because I’m socially inept and it’s good for me. I wish we could all be this social. I wish we could enjoy our sexuality without guilt. Sadly, even women thing it’s wrong for other women to have sex. I hope the future will be better.

Rape is Beautiful: Dismantling a Crazy Idea

A true test of intelligence is how well you can handle a crazy idea. Calling a statement ‘crazy’ or ‘stupid’ is easy, but the obviousness can make us think we already know why. Without basis, without understanding why a statement is stupid, it’s all just name-calling. If an idea is so obviously wrong, it will take minimal effort to point out the holes. It’s not necessary to go through the emotional turmoil

Rape is beautiful, according to Kurcaba

Actually, that title is a bait. His statement doesn’t say that rape, in and of itself is beautiful. Rather, he thinks that it’s beautiful that a child could come out of it. He thinks that pregnancy is some sort of silver lining.

I find rape to be one of the most terrible things you can do to another human being. Me and Kurcaba don’t really disagree here. You might be able to salvage a discussion over his usage of the word ‘awful’, but there’s no need to create targets when they’re here.

Kurcaba’s view doesn’t stem from misogyny. It probably stems from a deep convinction of natalism. He views childbirth as something so positive that even if it’s caused by rape, it’s a good thing.

Sadly, this was only a line. I don’t know why exactly Kurcaba thinks that. Maybe he’s well-versed in natalist philosophy, or maybe he just takes it for granted. Either way, I disagree with him.

First off, you do not ‘give’ birth. You force it. The baby isn’t given the option of refusing. Even if he grows up, he doesn’t have the option of euthanasia – suicide is still viewed as irrational and something that must be prevented. If you value consent, then birth isn’t something you should value.

Then again, you have to exist first in order to consent. So let’s go from the position it’s okay to give birth, but is it always moral and good? Isn’t giving birth to a child when you can’t raise him, is basically throwing a child to suffering?

Even worse is when the child is the product of rape. The women is not necessarily ready to raise a child. She could be in a position in life that’s not friendly to children, like high school. Second, she will still suffer from the trauma. Third, the child will be a stronger reminder of the rapist.

It will hurt both the child and the woman. The woman will have extra work, on top of facing all the emotional baggage of being raped. The child will be with a mother who’s in a position very, very far from capable of raising a child.

There can always be exceptions, sure, but all signs point that a bith out of rape is a bad idea. It’s not a chance worth taking.

Manspreading

I told a friend that men spreading their legs on public transportation
became a recent feminist issue. He laughed. He wasn’t drunk, but you’d be
forgive for thinking he downed a pint or two of Maredsous. The silliness of
focusing on Manspreading is easy to point out. Still, tackling crazy idea is
a fun and challenging thing to do. No matter how crazy an idea is, an
emotional, “That’s so stupid!” reaction is never valid. Intelligence is
tested when you’re confronting stupidity.

I know this paragraph is full of implication that the Manspreading debate is
stupid, but bear with me.

In a previous post, I said that something becomes a feminist issue when it
targets women. Manspreading cannot be a feminist issue. No matter how many
people Manspread, it will target women specifically. It’s a rude behavior,
just like talking loudly with your friends or blasting unoriginal Death
Metal through your phone speakers (1). However, no one is targeted
specifically. A person who Manspreads will annoy a fellow man just as it
will annoy a woman.

Not only is Manspreading not a feminist issue, it’s a fairly misandrist
term.

It’s definitely a sexist term. Sexism is giving a different treatment based
on sex. You give men a special treatment by attributing this behavior
specifically to them in the word itself.

This is not the same case with rape. A lot of discussion about rape talk
about man-on-woman rape, which is valid because they tend to back it up with
statistics. It’s also valid to worry more about the persecution and violence
that’s targeting your group. However, the word itself isn’t sexist. You can
only know if the rape in discussion is commited only by men by context. The
word ‘Manspreading’ implies it’s a behavior that’s unique to men.

This would only be valid if Manspreading can only be done by males. Women
can also spread. There’s nothing preventing women from doing it, not even a
few funny looks. Some mentioned that women who get on public transportation
with plenty of shopping bags are also taking up space. Isn’t that a
stereotype, saying women are such shopaholics?

Sitting with your legs spread when the train is full is rude behavior.
Sitting with your legs spread when the train isn’t full is logical, because
why sit uncomfortably when no one’s there?

I’m not sure what to make of ‘it’s a sign of male dominance’. Let’s assume
it is. Let’s say that in a patriarchy, men will feel much more comfortable
taking up space. How exactly is focusing on that going to solve the problem?
It reads like a symptom, but not the disease itself.

As for the “Men Taking Up 2 Much Space” tumblr, it’s a very ugly blog that
should be named and shamed. There’s rude behavior and there’s immoral
behavior. People taking up too much space is annoying, but you feel the need
to shame these people, who doesn’t deserve to be shamed? Where do we draw
the line? Good friends have done to me things much worse than this. I did
things much worse than this. None of it was that bad.

Feminists should throw that debate in the trash bin. There enough serious
women’s issues. By focusing on petty things that are unrelated to your
cause, you end up being caricature of yourself.

Manspreading appeared on The Daily Show. It’s awful. It’s really awful. Stewart can’t see the absurdity of paying so much attention to just some rude behavior on public transportation. All it does is create a straw man and punch it. It doesn’t say anything, other than “These men are whining”. If you’re putting a lot of effort in making sure people don’t spread their legs, if this really bothers you, maybe you need a little self-criticism.

 

(1) It’s bad more because Death Metal is not a very good genre of music. If
you blast music I like, then it’s okay.