Thursday, October 25, 2012

Context. Context is important.

For anyone who's read my reviews of Fifty Shades of Grey and its sequels, you know that I, at one point, took a rather hard lined stance against certain victims of domestic violence, and that my few statements regarding their intellect and strength were quite controversial for some people. I've been called a misogynist for furthering the misconception that abused women are stupid. I've had women and men lash out at me because of a few off-the-cuff comments that they chose to take out-of-context and spin into something they were never meant to be.

You would think this would all be over. That my reviews would have faded into relative obscurity by now and that no one would be paying attention. After all, I actually went on hiatus from Goodreads (and this blog...and reading!) in order to get away from some of the misunderstandings. I was flat-out tired of arguing my points with people who simply did not want to listen. I was tired of defending my position in regards to a DUMB-AS-SHIT book that glorifies abuse and shines a spotlight of veneration on a very stupid woman. Most of all, I was tired of being bashed for a rant that I, in all honesty, never expected more than a few people to read.

I'm back to using Goodreads again, after having finally caught up with all the neglected messages and comments of the last few months, and I thought that after all this time, I would be able to relax and move on from the controversy that is Fifty Shades of Get Over It.

Alas, it was not to be.

About 20 minutes ago, I received this in my Goodreads inbox.


I was Googl-ing for this amazing review of Twilight that satirizes the whole book (haven't read it though) into a hilarious not-even-a-full-page summary. Weirdly, your review of Fifty Shades of Shit (Grey? Whatever) (which I've also not read BTW) was one of the search results. While I didn't make it quite to the end of the review --because I have less (external) context to work with for this book(I've only seen a poster for the book in the subway once and have since avoided everything associated with it)-- I thought the review was very quirky and funny!

I'm sending a message about the review instead of 'liking' it or posting a comment because I found a thread running throughout the review troublesome: victim-bashing. So I contemplated just moving on but thought better of it and thought it's better to be thought obnoxious than apathetic. Also, lot of us say/do things (like "don't be such a girl" as an insult, grow some balls (implying women cannot be naturally courageous, etc) that have become so commonplace because our society has been trans-historically sexist and because we've heard our role models/friends/family use and don't realize how insidiously dangerous it is to perpetuate such sexist, sometimes misogynistic, stereotypes. Sometimes, just sometimes, when I point it out to people, they wonder --like I did when I was learned it-- how subconscious the whole thing is and are happy to be aware of it. So here goes: unless you actually believe it's a rape victim/survivor's fault for getting raped (which seems highly unlikely based on your review of the male abusive lead), bashing victims of domestic violence and holding them responsible, even if partly, for what their partners do is.. at the very least, counterproductive. Let's please hold the perpetrators responsible, not the victims.

And with irresponsible books and other media giving us messages all the time that a man being bad/rude/controlling/violent is sexy, romantic and something to fantasize about, it's a small wonder that some of us realize/learn-by-experience how convoluted these messages are, not the other way around. Things we learn culturally, cumulative in nature, are the hardest things to not internalize. Hardest to un-learn too. So, IMHO, the victims should be cut some slack and helped with empathy as opposed to excluded as idiotic or weak.

Thanks for reading!"

The most I can say for this message is at least the sender was respectful. But like I said, I am tired. Of this. Shit.

My response:

Oh, the traps of misunderstanding.

A lot of people have misconstrued my comments regarding weak and idiotic women, seizing onto the misguided assumption that I presume all victims of domestic violence are weak and stupid. This is hardly the case, and I really wanted to leave the wording and put a disclaimer, but my word count went over, so I had to settle for changing my wording from "idiotic and weak" to "misguided" because, honestly, I'm sick to death of arguing this.

Never, not once did I say abused women are idiots. My statement, in its context, was meant to convey my contempt for women who are dumb enough to remain in an abusive relationship because they wholeheartedly believe in stories like Fifty Shades. They believe they can change someone. Does that encompass ALL victims of abuse? Hardly. But since the world is seen in the very limiting shades of black and white, I've been called a misogynist for claiming abuse victims are idiots (which is hilarious considering my own sister, a victim of domestic violence herself, never once thought I was calling her an idiot).

As far as holding the perpetrators, not the victims, responsible, I agree with you. To a point. When a woman has ample chance to leave her abuser, but doesn't, she then takes on at least SOME responsibility for her situation.

So there you have it. I do not believe all abused women are idiots, I do not blame women for being the victims of domestic violence. I just simply have no tolerance (and very little sympathy) for women who can leave, but don't.

If I continually walked out into traffic, I would have only myself to blame for continually being hurt.