I shared a post on my facebook account recently that said “We’ve taught girls to romanticize nearly everything that a boy does. When I was younger I thought that it was cute that boys chased the girl even after she said no. I loved it when after the girl moved away from a kiss the guy would pull her back and force it on. I thought a guy saying, “I won’t take no for an answer” was passionate and romantic. We’re always teaching girls to romanticize abusive traits."
On my own facebook page I said that this was the reason I couldn’t watch more than about 10 minutes of the movie, the Notebook. This is one of the conversations that followed.
Other person: Why?
It's nice to think that the window, abundant with reality and living, that is shut down by Alzheimer's, can be opened very briefly in a single moment, before closing down forever? You don't know that the movie is actually about the quiet vulnerability (though a fantastical escape) of Alzheimer's do you?
It seems you have a cherry picked a bad example for the meme.
Karmilla Kamy Pillay-Siokos Like I said, I only watched the first 10 minutes or so. I couldn't stand the way he kept following her around and begging her to go out with him even though she said no quite clearly more than once. By the time her friends tricked her into spending time with him I'd already had enough. For me it just reinforced the mentality that "she was playing hard to get", thereby encouraging men and women to believe that hogwash about not taking no for an answer which is a very slippery slope. So to answer your question, no I didn't get far enough into the movie to understand that it was supposed to be about Alzheimer's. I was repelled too early on.
Other person: …just like the movie was not intended to be about reinforcing any type of 'mentality'. Sometimes we need to be cautious when cherry picking. wink emoticon
Karmilla Kamy Pillay-Siokos But this is precisely the point isn't it? That is the insidiousness of rape culture. This example perfectly illustrates the depth of our conditioning. The fact that someone who is as capable of critical thinking at the level that you are, is willing to so easily dismiss this as cherry picking, actually proves the prevalence of rape culture. It is a subliminal message. It is the constant reinforcement of the stereotype. It is precisely the fact that most people won't even notice that it even happened that shows how little we think about the way that men pursue women. It is cause to question our definitions of love and romance if we can so easily accept that his persistence in the face of her refusal is part of his charm. What is most disturbing for me is how few people have actually questioned this, compared to the vast majority who blindly accept it as a minor detail in a movie that it actually about other things. Let's just ignore the fact that she said no and he didn't listen because that's not the point of the movie. It's just a little detail that is quite irrelevant to the bigger issues
Other person: No, Karmilla Kamy Pillay-Siokos all it shows is that you cherry picked a correlation without a complete context and a disregard for those who may live with alzheimer's each day. It is exactly cherry picking like this that questions one's depth of credibility over time. You do such good work - don't ruin it with one uninsightful and incomplete cherry picked movie, by way of feminist mainstream propaganda around The Notebook. Why not select something that lacks a greater context by way of examples that perpetuate Rape Culture, like; Say Anything, Crazy Stupid Love, American Pie or Jane Eyre, most of Shakespeare and what about The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - since rape culture is definitely not just about women; there is a stack of revolting pop music to throw into the mix too. There are isolated incidences in the film that are pathological and manipulative which i am very aware of - but these are isolated incidences of pathology that require a context to comment on, i.e. the greater context of Alzheimer's and the debilitation of organic decay within the notion of romanticised fantasy narratives. Why didn't you rather choose the entire Fast and Furious series as a perfect example of rape culture? Or Beauty and the Beast even? Why a movie you watched for 10 minutes as a cherry picking
Karmilla Kamy Pillay-Siokos All of those movies are the typical examples. Anyone can see the problems with those types of movies. I agree completely that rape culture is not just about women. I was sharing my perspective and my experience of the movie. The reason that I only watched 10 minutes of it was that I personally could not bear to watch any further. The perfect examples are easy to pick on. That is why they are perfect examples. It is the less perfect examples that require deeper analysis. I am willing to accept that the fact that I couldn't bring myself to watch the entire movie does prevent me from seeing the context the way that you do. I am just not willing to force myself to endure the rest of it in order to try to find a justification for what I do see clearly at the outset as a perpetuation of rape culture.
That conversation already sums up my view on that particular movie and the role of media in perpetuating rape culture. What I want to point out further to that, is the deeper insidiousness of rape culture in the way that the conversation was handled.
I (who speak quite openly about how I was raped by somebody who assumed that I was playing hard to get when I said no) tried to explain why I was triggered by something specific in a movie. The response was that I missed the point of the movie. One of the things that stood out for me about that interaction was:
“You do such good work - don't ruin it with one uninsightful and incomplete cherry picked movie, by way of feminist mainstream propaganda around The Notebook.”
Really?! My good work can be ruined by sharing my experience of a part of a movie that triggered me? Are the survivors that I encounter every day and help along their healing journey suddenly now going to regress because I expressed an opinion that differs from yours?!
Throughout the conversation I kept reinforcing that it was MY opinion and yet it was dismissed as feminist mainstream propaganda, you know because we can’t really take that shit from the man hating lesbos seriously (Sarcasm alert for those of you who don’t know me well enough to recognize it).
It really does scare me when intelligent women are capable of reacting in this way. It is about so much more than the movie itself. It is about the ease with which she dismissed my opinion of the beginning of the movie and my experience of it. These types of comments about how the 10 minutes I watched were irrelevant because the movie was actually about bigger issues, are the problem with the way we deal with the issues faced by survivors every day. If I am saying that I couldn’t watch beyond a certain point in the movie, then the issues dealt with up until that point are the bigger issues FOR ME! This is why I was posting it on MY page. Even if I had posted it on the Slutwalk Johannesburg page or the S.T.A.R (Stand Together Against Rape) pages it would have still been speaking to rape activists/survivors who may have shared the same triggers. Does the intention of the author of the book make my experience of the movie any less valid? Does the fact that I couldn’t force myself to watch it to the end change my right to share that experience?
It is easy to talk about the obvious elements of rape culture. Most people are starting to accept that victim blaming is a problem. We are starting to talk about the need to change the nature of sex education in schools to include conversations about consent. These are all big important steps. Fifty years ago we didn’t talk about rape at all. Twenty years ago we were talking about stranger danger. Now we’re talking about rape by intimate partners and the rape of children.
The only way we’re going to keep moving forward is if enough of us are willing to not only see but also to speak about the things that are uncomfortable topics of conversation. Let’s keep that ball rolling. Let’s talk about why ten minutes of the Notebook matters as much as the other ninety minutes. When we’re talking about how many boys and girls will be raped by the time they’re eighteen, let’s also start talking about how many of them will become rapists and how to prevent that from happening as well.
For me, an important part of that conversation is about taking survivors more seriously. When a survivor says, “This is a trigger” – look at why it is a trigger instead of explaining how talking about the trigger detracts from the bigger issues.
As long as we deny or undermine the experiences of survivors, we perpetuate the idea that survivors should just get over it already, which reinforces the idea that rape is harmless. When we continue to accept the idea that ignoring repeated, clear rejection is romantic, we are teaching both rapists and victims that consent is irrelevant. This message does not only come from the old boys club. It is perpetuated by people who are willing to argue that the portrayal of this principle in isolated instances in a movie is okay if the movie is about bigger issues.
Let’s make it clear that it is not okay to disconnect the issue of consent from the idea of romance, regardless of the context. Let’s make it clear that we need to listen when people speak about their experiences. Maybe then we can get to a point where we not only help victims to survive but we also stop creating rapists. Maybe then we can create a world where the rare cases of stranger in the bushes rape are the only ones that exist.