Gone Girl

I saw the adaptation of Gone Girl last night, and thought it captured the book well. Gillian Flynn and Fincher did an excellent job bringing it to the screen. I loved the book. I thought it was a fantastic, dark satire of our culture’s image of gender roles and especially how the media views marriage and relationships vs. how they actually are. I feel it has to be viewed through that lens, the same way Silence of the Lambs is grand guignol and not realism. If you have not read the book, it depends on twists, so you may want to stop reading now.

gone-girl-missing-poster

Amy Dunne functions as a modern femme fatale, threatening men with something worse than death: a woman controlling their life.
She is a fascinating creation, an entitled psychopath. Part of me wants her to be as popular as Hannibal Lecter, so we can see prequels of just how messed up her childhood was, having her parents write books with the Improved Version of her! (The parents were perfect in the movie, those smiling shitbags.) It’s too bad Amy didn’t move on to another victim, like Linda Fiorentino in The Last Seduction, or Kathleen Turner in Body Heat, but she’s a different. She doesn’t inspire fear by punishing sexual desire with the death penalty, her weapon is worse: Life Without Parole. Or at least 18 years of it. The perfect night terror for cads.

That’s the great fear among Men’s Rights Advocates. That a woman, or “Crazy Bitch,” will poke holes in the condom and lock them down for paternity when all they wanted was a one-night stand. Their other bugaboo is the woman who cries rape during consensual sex. Amy does both of these: She fakes rape twice, and fakes pregnancy once (or twice, depending). This could be held against the story; are you saying women are like that? No, not any more than Thomas Harris was saying “men are cannibals, or want to wear your skin.” But it’s our nature to want a hero, and this story has none. Neither spouse was innocent; Nick is more sympathetic in the film than the book, though part of that is the nature of film and using a ubiquitous actor like Ben Affleck. And I am not a fan. He was well cast because it’s easy to see him as the puppy-faced douchebag that Nick most certainly is.

If the story is lacking, it is in identifying exactly what’s wrong with Nick, other than being a cheater. If I missed it, it’s my own myopia. He’s been raised to want to please women; he’s the typical Nice Guy who isn’t, and that may be all we need to know. He wants the Cool Girl (one of the best soliloquys of the novel and film) but she also wants the Good Guy. We never get a clear view of their marriage, though she does accuse him of putting a false version of himself forward, “the Best Nick,” the one he will now have to be for the rest of his life, or she’ll come up with an even more twisted punishment for him. I wish this was explored further, but it wouldn’t have been so taut a thriller if it had been. There are other books for that. I expected Nick to be more passive-aggressive. He has no friends except his sister; that is telling in itself, in the same way Amy’s lack of friends is a warning flag. (While it’s not always an issue, I’ve noticed that when someone only has friends of the opposite sex, there is often a good reason).

In the movie, Amy’s murder of Desi is much bloodier and I felt that was a bad choice. She’s dangerous enough without going Basic Instinct on us for shock. The ending was also drawn out a little too much for me, but other than that, the film hit every note the book did. The Nancy Grace-alike was incredible, and the story’s depiction of how the media plays on our perceptions, and expects a fantasy perfection of relationships and criminalizes the reality, was spot-on. Take for example when Mr. Affleck said that his relationship with Mrs. Garner was “work.” Relationships do take work, but we’re not allowed to say so. No no. We must only show effortless grace, like Amazing Amy.

 

Suing to Protect Rape Culture

I wrote an article about the Department of Justice’s investigation of the Missoula Prosecutor’s Office, where it found bias against victims of sexual assault, and the office’s response- suing the DOJ.

Suing to Protect Rape Culture

 

Everyday Sexism and Giant Space-Dicks

I started following @EverydaySexism on Twitter a month or so ago, and it has been an eye-opener. A morning coffee with a cockroach in it, reminding me how ill behaved some men are.(Not that women are saints. At PROTECT they’ll tell you no one knows what a predator looks like, and plenty of women use society’s view of them as natural nurturers as camouflage for predatory behavior.)

I’m also twitter friends with cosplayers, people who dress up at science fiction and comic book conventions. Some are women, and many of them get groped by let’s face it, there’s only one word, assholes who feel entitled to grab a stranger’s ass or feel the need to inform a women they’ve never met what he’d like to do with her.  And this is supposed to be taken in stride, because hey, who wouldn’t like to be called sexy, or beautiful, and isn’t that what it really means?

No, it doesn’t. It means you are there for my enjoyment, and you are less than a person.

To a lesser extent, we’ve seen more of this viewpoint in the recent SFWA debacle where two old dinosaurs waxed poetic about beautiful “lady editors,” and who looked great in a bikini, and then cried censorship when people complained. Then a writer seriously told these women to be “like Barbie,” and “maintain [their] quiet dignity as a woman should.” On what planet is that acceptable? SFWA President John Scalzi is taking the blame, but his brave martyrdom distracts us from men so entitled that they believe they are above criticism. “Lady editor” is the stupidest thing I’ve read in years. When I was a kid, women driving was rare enough that the term “lady driver” was still in use, and jokes about women driving badly were the norm. That was almost forty years ago. “Lady writer” sounds like something the idle rich do, to fritter away their time.
(Before you assume I’m commenting on hearsay, follow the links above, which will get you to the actual pages from the SFWA bulletin)

And the most common response to this vile behavior is to tell men “what if it was your sister/mother/daughter?”

How about some empathy? What if it was you?

You may not believe it, but I’ve had my ass grabbed at a convention. It was by a fellow who mistook me for what is known as a “bear.” I didn’t punch him out, as you might imagine. I was too shocked. I felt like I’d swallowed an ice cube. That initial, unbelievable invasion of my personal space and objectification was something utterly new and alien to me. I stammered some veiled threat and he waved me off and walked away.

There’s a reason the pop-culture male nightmare is to be locked in a cell with a horny guy named Bubba. Because deep down, we men know how it makes women feel. But we say “that’s how it is,” and expect them to tolerate it. 

Do I claim to  how women feel when groped, even if it’s at a Science Fiction convention? No, because that was an isolated incident for me. It has never happened again, not at bars in Chelsea, not at Burning Man as thousands of mostly naked people chanted in the desert around a techno wicker man. I don’t walk around dreading it, expecting it, waiting for it to happen because it happens so damn often.

I didn’t write this for sympathy or whatever. I can remember it, but the only effect it has on me is a desire to catch one of these assholes groping a female friend of mine, so I can find out if he can swallow his own fist.  As for “lady editors,” if science fiction writers can imagine unheard-of future civilizations, they can unshackle their brains from the ’60s when they were cocks of the walk, and start treating women as equals and not “lady writers,” who are so durn cute when they write their widdle stories and try to be like men! She thinks she’s a person, isn’t that adorable?

Really, fuck you guys. The best science fiction I’ve ever read was by women. Octavia Butler, Ursula K. LeGuin, and Alice Sheldon, who wrote under the pseudonym James Tiptree, Jr.

If you feel threatened by them enough to belittle them and tell them to get you some coffee, you can go eat a giant smelly space dick.