Tag Archive: Rape


It´s International Woman´s day! Usually for this day I would do a list of articles concerning Women´s rights and liberations across the world, but this year comes a decision to change things up a bit. Instead I will list a few feminist books and stories that are more than worth checking out. In order to explain what, in this list, is meant by a feminist read I´ll make a short explanation: it is a story that has three dimensional female characters and either deals with the subject of female liberation or deals with the subject of female oppression. Let´s get started.

Quick Note!: Most of these books can be triggering due to dealing with rape and violence.

1.“Changes: A love story” by Ama Ata Aidoo: This is a classic work of African literature, and for no small reason. The book takes place in the 1990´s Accra, Ghana, where the independent Esi decides to divorce her husband due to having endured a rape at his hands. After that she falls in love with a Muslim man named Ali, which leads her to question whether or not she should become his second wife. “Changes” was published in 1993 and was one of the first African books that dealt with women trying to balance home life with work as well as the stigma of being an independent woman. But it also openly deals with marital rape and its aftermath, which even to this day is still a taboo subject in much of literature and culture (including western). Esi´s struggles against expectations are shown in a complex light; while she is determined to keep her job and independence she finds herself still inclined to forgo her autonomy to please Ali and others. The book is honest and human. As the saying goes, the personal is highly political, especially for Esi.

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2.“Purge” by Sofi Oksanen; This novel takes place in both modern times free Estonia and the Estonia of WWII, when it was under Russian occupation. The story is about an old woman meeting a young woman; Aliide Truu, a woman who was rape and sexually tortured by KGB agents in her youth, and Oksana – a youth who has escaped from the hands of traffickers. Oksanen delves deftly, but horrifically, into a story of two forms of sexual violence; that of politically motivated rape and that of modern day sexual slavery. The novel is heavily disturbing, but the characters, especially Aliide, are wonderfully complex and the illustration of female oppression is powerfully exposed. It´s best to not say too much, since the plot´s enigmatic structure makes it a book best to read blindly.

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3.”The Ribbon Maiden”: This fairy tale, which originates from the Chinese ethnic minority of the Miao, is about a woman who people proclaim as the maker and creator of the most beautiful sowing and ribbons found in the land. The emperor, wanting this skill only to himself, has The ribbon maiden kidnapped and held against her will unless she makes him a continuous supply of the elegant ribbons. She submits to the emperors demands, but due to her great talents she is able to make the emperors bondage of her backfire on him. The tale is laden with female power – from the Ribbon Maidens wish to return home so she can reunite with her female friends, to her refusing to submit to the bully emperor. It is impossible not to cheer on this woman as her many gifts, and powerful sowing, defeats her captors and manifests her freedom in the face of oppressions both political and ideological. A really, really cool fairy tale.

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Miao woman wearing traditional clothing

4.“Blood and Guts in High School” by Kathy Acker: The most absurd and weird novel on this list tells the story of a woman who endures emotional abuse, trafficking and abandonment. The writing is surrealistic and the story is told in a nonsensical order, with Ms. Acker´s own NSFW yet creative drawings. The prose is a surging gush of rage and aggression, delivering a punk-themed punch to the capitalist patriarchy. Beautifully random.

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page from “Blood and Guts in high school”

5. “Ladies Coupé” by Anita Nair: This book is formed of an assorted set of narratives focused on diverse women of Today´s India. A woman aboard a train contemplates if she should run off with a younger man she´s in love with or stay with her conservative family instead. Finding herself in the company of a group of women during her trip she asks for advice. What follows are a myriad of tales of life and struggle – the serene joy of learning to swim, of getting the last wondrous laugh against a bully husband, and the lonely tragedy of being impregnated via rape. The tone continuously pivots from the lighthearted to the cruel throughout the entirety of the narrative, with both the epic and minute of characterizations. Despite some stories being tragic, the novel leaves a clear hope in the end, depicting a happier life just around the corner.

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6.“From a crooked rib” by Nuruddin Farah: This novel takes place in 1980´s Somalia, where a nineteen year old girl runs away from home to escape an arrange marriage, only to find herself having to marry other, equally unpleasant men, in order to survive. Beyond all hope, and needing both men to ensure her social and monetary survival, she navigates a precipice to keep secret her twin marriages from both men (she hasn´t legally divorced either one of them). Farah illustrates the economic and political challenges facing women in Somalia and minutely exposes how the social mores, and legal system is biased against women (and laying bare double standards applied to men, as opposed to women, when it comes to marriage and relationships). While the heroines husbands both indulge openly and continuously in second wives and many lovers, the protagonist finds herself mercilessly slut-shamed, tormented and ostracized by the community for falling outside of the hallow prescripts of monogamy. “From a crooked rib” was Farah´s debut novel, but you would never guess that.

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7.“The Butcher´s Wife” by Li Ang: Based on real events, this story is about a Taiwanese woman, Lin Shi, who after taking years of absolutely ruthless abuse kills her husband in self defense. The story begins when the protagonist’s parents, fearing Lin Shi’s youthful behavior as signs of uncontrollable and uncontainable sexuality, marry her off to a local butcher, who it turns out is fond of making Lin Shi scream in agony. He abuses her both physically and sexually, and when she starts to defend herself he starves her. One of the toughest books I´ve ever read, but none the less this novel remains gripping and spellbinding. The novel not only showcases abuse, but critiques neighbors and family members that enable abuse through ignorance and acceptance, as well as showing a side of the local Buddhist religion which is not a flattering depiction to say the least. Thought-provoking yet brutal.

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8.“The House on Mango Street” by Sandra Cisneros: The story of a Mexican-American family is told in a series of drabbles in this short book. Through the narration of the adolescent Esperanza these petite deft drabbles explore poverty, culture, sexual assault and hope. The stories are like extended poems, with heartbreaking scene after heartbreaking scene. From Esperanza witnessing her father grief stricken by her grandmother’s death to Esperanza being sexually attacked by racist white boys, the novel makes a depressing, memorable quick read.

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9.“The House of Bernarda Alba” by Federico Garcia Lorca: This was not only an unusual play for it´s time for its open brutal criticism of Spanish honor culture, but is also remarkable by even today´s standards in being a play with a all female cast with no speaking roles for men, as well as dealing with female sexual frustration. The play is about a classist, narrow minded mother who rules over her five daughters with an Iron fist, never allowing them to socialize with others in the town or marry. This leads to a major conflict when a young man arrives and three of the same sisters are smitten with him. Things become especially disturbing when the youngest daughter is implied to be pregnant without being engaged. The sisters play off each other perfectly, and the deep seated melancholy and sense of being trapped in being an “honorable woman” echoes through the story with great strength.

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10. “Woman at Point Zero” by Nawal El-Sadaawi: the angriest and fiercest work in this list by fair, El-Sadaawi´s classic novel tells the story of a woman on death row that has killed her pimp. The woman details her life from girlhood to the point where she ended up in prison, describing her ordeal with female genital mutilation, male betrayal and violence. Through the course of the novel the protagonist makes abundantly clear how she has come to be so angry and uncompromising with the world she lives in, where, beginning with her birth as a woman, she was set up for pain. The woman´s narration bursts with a fire at the face and fact of an unjust world. It is provocative and unapologetic, an instant masterpiece.

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Ms. Nawal El-Sadaawi

That´s a few recommendations. What feminist novels, short stories/ fairy tales or graphic novels do you readers recommend? Comment done below and A Happy International Women´s Day to all sisters, Cis to Trans, out there!

(Before we get started, I will like to say that this is not a spoiler free post. It should also be noted that it can be triggering for some readers as well, due to discussions of rape.)

Dan Harmon, the creator of the genius sitcom “Community”, has just recently along with Justin Roiland created a brand new animation that blends science fiction with black comedy. It follows the chaotic adventures of Rick, an alcoholic rough-personated scientist and his grandson Morty, a timid boy who semi-willingly goes along the madcap dimensional adventures instigated by his grandfather. The storylines are filled with gore, death and tragedy. The humor is quite dark, and the stories don´t always have happy endings. It is in the same mode storytelling as a slew of cartoons meant for adult audiences such as “Drawn Together” and “South Park”. However, when one looks beyond the gore filled scenes, one can see that “Rick and Morty” is a show that explores deeper themes as well. For instance, “Rick and Morty” is one of the few television shows that depict rape culture properly, without buying into myths of victim-blaming or simplifying ideas about who is a rape victim or who can be a predator.

Morty (right) and Rick (left)

Morty (right) and Rick (left)

The pilot of “Rick and Morty” show cast the series as filled with dark humor that joked about death, violence and trauma. The plots consisted of Rick dragging his fourteen year old grandson to all sorts of terrible dimensions, much to the rest families dismay. Mortys family consists of the dimwitted, insecure but goodhearted Jerry (his father) who Rick loves to belittle. Beth, Morty´s veterinarian mum and Ricks daughter. And Summer, Morty´s sister who wants to join in on her brothers and grandfathers misbegotten adventures. Rick and Morty’s travels are often dangerous, violent places that are filled with all sorts of peculiar creatures. The main selling point was its bleak sense of humor; however as the first season progressed it increased it´s serious world building and in the process was able to actually say some important things about violence.

In the first seasons fifth episode, “Meeseks and Destroy”, Morty asks Rick to allow him to decide what kind of adventure to have, since up until then, Rick had been the one who called all the shots. They make a deal that if Morty is able to handle the adventure he picks he will be allowed to choose every fifth adventure. They travel to a world that resembles the generic fantasy scenario, where Morty decides to help a poverty stricken village. In a reference to “Jack and the bean stock”, Morty and Rick climb up a bean stock and accidentally get the first giant they encounter killed. After being released from murder charges for the accidental Giant-slaughter, Rick and Morty end up at a tavern in the groundside village where things take a dark turn. Frustrated Rick goes off to gamble and Morty goes to use the restroom. There he meets a soft-spoken jellybean-shaped man who offers advice to Morty, which Morty initially appreciates. Suddenly, the benignly, supportive Jellybeanman begins getting uncomfortable close to Morty. The encounter proceeds into an uncomfortable scene where the Jellybeanman attempts to rape Morty, accusing Morty, all the while, of being a “tease”. Morty fights the Jellybeanman off, and, after the encounter, walks back out to meet Rick.

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The scene is played straight; it is not used for black comedy in the slightest. This is not only remarkable because the show itself tends to poke fun at dark subjects, but also because rape jokes in today’s television shows while full of such references to sexual assault rarely show the trauma which “Rick and Morty” conveys in this brief scene. Shows such as “Two broke girls” and “Robot Chicken” tend to use rape as a throw away punch line and shock value. Casual jokes are made at both female and male survivors dispense. The problem, particularly with rape jokes, is that they tend to minimalize the violence of rape, and tend to more often fall into common victim-blaming, misogynistic language (or homophobic, if the joke is about male rape). The problem with such jokes are that they take a huge global issue (one in three women and one in six men have experienced sexual violence world wide) and treat it without any caution or seriousness. But in “Rick and Morty” the attempted rape of Morty is treated seriously; the writers cleverly decide to let the scene be gritty.

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“Rick and Morty”, having the Jellybeanman accuse Morty of being a tease, underline the continued instance in media of making victim-blaming jokes and the writers highlight how rapists themselves use victim-blaming to further their abuse.

After escaping the restroom assault of the Jellybeanman Morty silently tells Rick he wants to go home. Rick sees the Jellybean man leave the restroom and figures out what happens. Then an incredible piece of writing takes place; Rick doesn´t pressure Morty into telling him what happened. He doesn´t blame Morty in any way. He does what many survivors have claimed is the best thing to do; he doesn´t say anything, but let´s Morty know that he´s there for him. Rick shows Morty the cash he´s won gambling and tells Morty they can end thier adventure and giving Rick praise for the choice of adventure. Having Rick not pressure or blame Morty is incredible and a good moral to send: give abuse survivors space but also make sure they know you´re there for them. The episode however does give into some fantasies; in the end of the episode, when Rick and Morty are leaving the world, Rick quickly shoots (and kills) the jellybeanman, unbeknown to the already departed Morty.

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The show also dwells into deconstructing rape culture myths. In episode six, “Ricks Potion #9”, Morty is shown pining after his crush, Jessica. He´s gloomy for not having a date to the schools dance, and is obsessed with the idea of Jessica. Utterly love struck the boy turns to Rick for help. His grandfather tries to ignore Morty, but after Morty has a protracted outburst about how he always helps Rick and never gets anything back, Rick gives in and hands his nephew a potion made from animals DNAs that will make Jessica fall forever in love with Morty, wanting to mate with Morty for life. While the potion is a success, it turns out its success spreads through bodily fluids and therefore becomes an epidemic due to flu season.

Jessica after the drug kicks in

Jessica after the drug kicks in

Everyone at Morty´s school dance becomes infected and aggressively falls into a deep love/lust with Morty. Students and teachers alike start to fight over Morty, creating a fairly funny scenario. Rick turns up to help Morty via one of Ricks favorite mode of transport, his spaceships. While the whole world becomes more and more infected, Rick desperately tries out different potions to find a cure. Unfortunately this just leads to everybody on earth turning into horrible looking monsters.

When Morty starts to complain that Rick is being irresponsible, Rick then says to Morty: “All I wanted was for you to hand me a screwdriver! But instead you had me buckle down and…make you a…roofie…juice serum, so you can roofie that poor girl at your school. Are you kidding me, Morty?! You’re really gonna try to take the high road on this one? Y’know your-you’re a little creep, Morty! Your-you’re just a little creepy creep person!”. This speech brilliantly points out the ethical problems with love potions, and points out the predatory nature of Morty’s request. (Though our western society has come to give some acknowledgement to the horrid problem of drugging and raping; as the Finnish-Swede journalist Johanna Koljonen has said: “The problem then lies in that we then believe that only nasty, horrible men could do such things. The reality is that even so-called sweet, nice boys and men could be rapists”.)

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Having instigated a drugging for assaultive, forced physicality Morty shows us the everyman and sympathetic protagonist, the nice guy, attempting sexual violence while denying, with the common thoughts of our society, what it is. This critique of the offensive action, and its insidious ideological justification, is a brave, important move for a television show. When asked why they rape, a lot of men express the opinion that they felt entitled. Morty, in his weakness, felt entitled as well. He may be a “nice boy”, but he has bought into societies misogynistic views and therefore did something horrible. Morty of course admits to Rick that he was wrong, which happens less in real life, but the fact that a show actually depicted a common mental state that any man (the “Privileged Person”) could have and then points out how this mentality devastates the women and girls (and actually the entire society, which this action comes to destroy) is straight out fantastic to see. This sense of entitlement of a “Privileged Person” for the “lesser person” of the “Oppressed Body” is a problem, and it should be more often addressed in these ways.

The show is also a great example of understanding that anyone could be a victim to sexual violence. Mortys dad, Jerry, gets held at gun point by a woman in the season finale. She tries to force him to have sex, but is rescued by Beth at the last minute. Beth even calls the woman “a rapist”. When Beth says she couldn´t have guessed from the woman’s looks that she was a rapist, Jerry angrily points out that it´s nonsense to assume you can tell such things from ones looks. It is true; looks are deceiving, and the sad truth is that rape culture is deeply ingrained within our society. This means that while men are taught that they may be entitled to a woman´s body, women are taught that men are always eager for sex. Therefore anyone, regardless of gender or race or age, can be a rapist. Both Jerry, Morty and Jessica were nearly raped in the show; and the perpetrators were both male and female. “Rick and Morty” is clear in its message that rape is rape.
Rape is often an shoddily used tool for drama or a lazy source of comedy on television, but “Rick and Morty” is able to avoid most of the insensitive tropes foisted upon us by the pop media.

Jerry held at gunpoint

Jerry held at gunpoint

“Rick and Morty” is careful with this subject, showing a full understanding that when discussing sexual violence it is important to respect the sufferer of the assault and consider the personhood of the survivor in our interactions with them.

Lastly, while bringing the subject up, it is about time that we as a culture actually talk about the culture that creates predators and gives them a set of rationalizations for their brutality , instead of minimizing them and stripping them of their justifications of violence .

Awareness Ribbon for sexual violence

Awareness Ribbon for sexual violence

Hello readers, I´m in New York right now! And just finished one major course at the university, with another course coming to an end (meaning lots and lots of time consumed by studying for the exam). So since I have quite little time, I would like to just briefly recommend some films, Tv series and Graphic novels. During this month I can say that a post on the Adult swim television series “Rick and Morty” will be posted soon enough, and a discussion about a “My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic” episode is due this month as well. So stay tuned, and check out some of the stuff mentioned below.

The film “Martha Marcy May Marlene” is an excellent character study as well as a psychological thriller. It tells the story of a young girl who struggles with reuniting with her sister after escaping a cult. It´s directed by Sean Durkin and stars Elizabeth Olson, who does an excellent job depicting the complexities of being brainwashed, as well as how painful it can be in the battle of freeing oneself from the oppressions of authoritarian control. John Hawkes (known mostly by his roles in “Deadwood” and “Winter´s Bone”) is shockingly creepy as the cults charismatic leader. “Martha Marcy May Marlene” is also a riveting depiction of systematic sexual abuse and oppression of women. The cult has extremely old fashioned views on gender, and therefore rape is used as a form of getting the newly recruited women to submit. Martha, the films protagonist, not only undergoes such abuse herself but is also shown drugging another girl during such rituals. It´s disturbing, but unfortunately feels like an honest account of how different forms of groups and societies control women. The film easily passes the Bechdel test, and has a heart-breaking depiction of Martha´s relationship to her sister. Martha´s sister tries to understand and support her, but it´s a difficult situation. Few films have such an honest depiction of family: showing events of the interpersonal which even the most loving family members are not able to control nor come to grips with. It´s an unsettling, moving and tragic watch, and it´s a guarantee that once you´ve seen the film you´ll never forget it.

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“The Snows of Kilimanjaro” is a 2011 French film that has nearly nothing to do with Ernest Hemingway. Despite the name being a little misleading, this film is a thought-provoking, political piece that is neither simplistic nor preachy. Directed by Robert Guédiguian, the film spins the tale of an elderly couple who are life-long Marxists and who, once they find themselves the victims of a robbery, are forced to question not only their ideologies but also themselves. The film unravels the robber’s story, the thief’s mother, the aforementioned couple and the couple’s children – with all of the characters attempting to come to terms with their feelings, thoughts, and views on the situation. The director cleverly gives each character reasonable arguments. The thief points out that despite the couples avowed Marxism, they still exist in the sphere of the privileged due to their class and that what they may consider fair is not always fair for someone else. The robber’s mother (who has abandoned all of her three children, forcing the thief to become the sole provider for his two underage brothers) points out that it was her boyfriends (the robber and his brothers have two different fathers) who pressured her into having children and then promptly abandoned her after the children were born. The film also attempts to convey how little acts of kindness can at times solve huge problems. A smart film well worth watching!

Original french poster

Original french poster

“Daddy´s Girl” by Debbie Drechler is a very nauseating, but powerful graphic memoir. When Ms. Drechler was a child, she was reputably molested by her father. This would later reflect in her relationships in college, where she undergoes a rape and isolation from her peers. The comic is short, but honest in its brutality and melancholy. Dreschler shows the many layers and forms of abuse, and how they intertwine with each other. It is filled with gut wrenching scenes such as when Debbie wonders if she is a horrible person, since god allows her father to molest her and if her mother is so distant to her due to her father’s abuse. Even more unsettlingly, the comics end is left open, making the reading experience even more a disturbing endeavor. It´s fairly harsh, but definitely worth the read.

Scene from "Daddy´s girl"

Scene from “Daddy´s girl”

This recommendation is no doubt cliché, and therefore I´ll keep this extra short. I was first not sure whether I should or shouldn’t watch “Breaking Bad”, but finally caved in and have loved every minute of watching the first four seasons (fifth season still unseen). It follows a chemistry teacher named Walter White, who in order to pay for his cancer treatments takes up with his former student Jesse to cook Crystal Meth. The writing is tight, the acting superb and the comedic moments (bloody) hilarious. One of the best acting performances was done by Giancarlo Esposito, who plays the drug kingpin and Walters temporary boss Gustavo “Gus” Fring. Gus´ calm and collected demeanor is eerie yet fascinating, and as he switches between playing nice to ruthlessly violence one is reminded of such works as “American Psycho”. Gus has also an interesting back-story and motivations, which the show did an excellent job building up. “Breaking Bad” has also done one of the funniest bottle episodes, where Walt obsesses over killing a fly. Great series!

Walter and Jesse

Walter and Jesse

That’s about it for now. Happy Watching and reading!

Over at the YouTube Channel “Screenjunkies” there was a lively discussion about film adaptations, regarding a panel discussion of what were the most and least well made adaptations of comic genre and, its close companion, the Graphic novel*. The video panel discussion ended with a question to the viewers regarding what comic/graphic novel they would most like to see get adapted to film. After pondering this question for a while, I came to the conclusion that only naming a few would not be fair, since, within the entire history of Alternative Comics, some truly remarkable stories have been told, and, in their breathtaking and compelling sweep of ideas and vision, would lend themselves well to a big screen incarnation.

1.“Shortcomings” by Adrian Tomine: A cynical look on race, Tomine’s masterpiece centers on the unsympathetic Ben. His girlfriend Miko accuses him often of being ashamed of his Japanese heritage, which she in returned is extremely proud of. She also accuses him of having an obsession with white women, which Ben laughs at. However, once Miko decides to leave for New York for a couple of months, Ben decides to replace Miko with a white woman (proving Miko´s discomfort to be accurate). When all does not go as planned, Ben flies to New York to meet Miko and becomes obsessively jealous when it turns out Miko is dating someone else.

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“Shortcomings” is about flawed people engulfed in a racist society, mixing character study with harsh social commentary. Ben in his hypocrisy claims he does not want to be a victim, but simultaneously has become so unlikeable and hypocritical because of the white supremacist emasculation of Asian men. Miko has her own prejudices as well, but ultimately finds empowerment in her pride. The comic also addresses race fetishazation, and explores the myth of White normativety as desirable. A film adaption that would also include the comic’s social commentary would be a brave move, but no doubt an ultimately enjoyable film.

Cover of "Shortcomings"

Cover of “Shortcomings”

2. “X-Day 1&2” by Setona Mizushiro: This manga is famous among those who like their manga and anime more close to “real life”. The plot centers around three students and one teacher who due to personal difficulties, decide, via an internet chat room, to blow up the school they attend and work at. The biology teacher, using the pseudonym “Jangalian”, due to being stalked by the principals daughter; is engulfed in a sense of powerless exasperated by the unending claims of the school’s principal that Jangalian has slept with his out of control daughter (he hasn´t). The school principle continually foists the blame for her behavior on the victimized Jangalian. Mr. Money, a male student, has an abusive mother. 11, a former popular athlete, is entrapped in the insecurity that other women continually strip her of boyfriends and friends, and Polaris is crippled by shyness unless she wears gothic Lolita clothes, which the school prohibits.

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While the beginning of this Manga feels like it will be a dark terror story, the four start to reach out to each other and common bound circumventing the planning the attack through friendship. Mizushiro doesn´t shy away from depicting youth sexuality and loneliness, and boldly illustrates four lost souls who find solace in each other. The characters captivate and possess you, making the reader cheer for the melancholic protagonists to overcome their situations. With protagonists like these, this adaption could very well become a classic Anime movie.

Read left to right, dear folks!

Pages from “X-Day 1”. Read left to right, dear folks!

3. “Tuuli ja Mursky” (“Wind and the Storm”) by Tiitu Takalo – In a time where every woman is in one way or another affected by the misogyny of rape culture, it seems like an appropriate moment for an adaptation of a Graphic novel which addresses every aspect of that said culture. The comic centers around a group of young feminists who discover the fact that one of their members, Miira, has been raped at a party. Miira doesn´t want to report the horrid incident of abuse to the police, but still wishes her rapist to be exposed. Her friends do what they can by putting up posters, talking to people who had attended the party, and so on; but after being constantly shut down and silenced in their quest for justice, the young women grow angry and begin to consider more lethal means.

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The comic discusses repressions and prejudices victims of sexual abuse face, and the rampant misconceptions people have of the rapist and the culture that empowers their acts of violence. The boy who perpetuates the abuse to Miira in this tale, is an unquestioned friend and wildly known to be a pleasant fellow resonating the plot of the story with one of the most popular misconceptions about rapist/sexual abusers as a repulsive persona, mean-spirited and outside of society. Holding strong with the truth of rapists in a rape culture this comic confronts us with the reality of the nice fellow simultaneously hiding the most abusive of tendencies.
Miira had passed out at the party and the collection of friends find that many of the people involved in their inquiry try to convince the group that the incident was Miira fault, ignoring the fact that her abuser intentionally choose to extremely violate both her body and trust.

Cover for "Tuuli ja Myrsky"

Cover for “Tuuli ja Myrsky”

The novel also addresses how rape culture affects men. The male ally of the group talks about how men are also afraid of walking alone during the night but due to the extreme pressures of an overburdening Macho culture are not allowed to admit such a simple fact. He also subjects within the story, when confronted with the rapist and his actions, merely berates the rapist for his behavior, stating that the abusers actions makes all men look like would-be rapists and chews the rapist out for ignoring the sphere of pain the act caused in action and aftermath to the actual victim of the molestation.

Ms. Tiitu Takalo

Ms. Tiitu Takalo

This Graphic Novel is regrettably underrated and is an exciting story that subverts the Rape-Revenge genre, while also addressing the issue of sexual violence in an in depth and serious manor. The issues it discusses cannot be more relevant and urgent, and the comic, while it should become more of staple stock to the lovers of the Graphic Novel genre, would do superbly as a filmic work.

The posters, saying: "Warning! Rapist!"

The posters, saying: “Warning! Rapist!”

4. “My friend Dahmer” by Derf Backderf: This is a chilling graphic memoir that came out just couple years ago. The story focuses not on the author himself, but his former classmate, Jeffrey Dahmer. In a society which obsesses over serial killers and the atrocious crimes they commit, “My Friend Dahmer” shifts the focus from the gruesome killings to an investigation of a teenage Dahmer who pointlessly grows to adulthood to become a monster. Backderf, who had acquaintance with Dahmer, puts together his own memories as well as memories Dahmer gave in interviews, envisioning for us a lonely, weird teenager who already at a young age showed disturbing behavior. Despite the red flags that even a teenage Backderf recognized, the adults revolving around the teen Dahmer didn’t ever pick up on the deviant behaviors, neither did they interact with him to exasperate his deviations. We find a wildly out of control Dahmer, in an attempt to get rid of his fantasies of necrophilia and killing, turning to heavy drinking, and where Dahmer’s only laughter is found with students who through their clumsiness hurt themsleves and others. Yet no adult ever intervenes.

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The story is powerful in it´s message: the troubled child didn´t have to end up killing people. Backderf wisely says that while our sympathy for Dahmer must end when he started killing, it should be still be noted that he once was a troubled teenager who adults failed. In this extreme case, “My Friend Dafmer” makes a convincing case for social and psychological support for children and teenagers. Ignoring young ones with problems will not make the problem go away. It will only be a problem which will lead to more evils. In worse case scenarios, ignoring a child who is having difficulties may cost innocent lives; a truly unnecessary sacrifice.

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5. “Epileptic” by David B.: Here is another memoir which does not star the author. Instead the story concentrates on the plight of the struggles of David B’s epileptic brother and the labor of a family attempting to cope. It depicts a happy childhood until one day, Davids brother Jean-Christophe gets a seizure. This leads the family to seek hills and mountains for a cure and, as time goes on, makes a once cheerful child into a bitter, mean spirited youngster and a depressed adult. This graphic novel starts off with a child’s perspective, where imagination and stories run wild and, as it unfolds, turns towards the surrealistic, where we find David and Jean-Christophe entrenched and entrapped within a fantasy in order to merely communicate. Jean-Christophe is put through several trials, in which he often is met with ableism. When he has seizures, people stare and make insensitive comments, as if he is childishly acting up or merely play-acting for attention. Jean-Christophe, in his spiral of suffering, becomes isolated from his peers, and as a teenager, while in the simple act of befriending a small boy, finds himself instead being accused of child molestation. David notes how the stigma of his brothers struggle haunts him into his adult life, when he recounts a conversation with a girlfriend which ends with the ultimatum that if they have a child, he has to make sure his genes are perfectly healthy since she “does not want any of his families illnesses”.

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Image from “Epileptic”; illustrating the prejudices aimed at David´s Brother

The book is spell-binding and tragic in its depiction of family life and society, where everything always seems to go wrong. David´s depictions are cryptic, but also loving towards his unfortunate, impossible brother. A truly remarkable read, it would no doubt be a film that would give animators free hands to simultaneously make wild drawings while also clutching the viewers hearts.

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6. “Elfriede – en dystopi” (“Elfriede – a dystopia”) by Åsa Grennvall: Now here´s a graphic novel that would be a real challenge to adapt. “Elfriede”, unlike the other graphic novels on this list, does not tell a straight story. In fact this tale is entirely a character study. It follows a middle age woman named Elfriede, who is extremely cynical and bitter about the world. She takes us through her job where she condescendingly describes her boss (whom according to her shouldn´t be able to get his job done but somehow does), how she tries not to get involved when a female co-worker ask for comfort and advice regarding her physically abusive boyfriend (since Elfriede´s attempts to help her before only end up with the co-worker getting angry at Elfriede and going back to her boyfriend anyway), and how she hates her happy-go-lucky friend. She talks about her children, who she hopes don’t hate her as much as she hates her parents. Elfriede speaks frankly of how she is doing a countdown to her death and how she believes humanity is doomed due to it´s own ignorance. This story should fail, but due to Grennvalls gifted talents it is instead a work of genius in its unique concept and visualization. Elfriede’s life becomes fascinating in a tale where the reader is brought to understand Elfriede and dreadfully notices that Elfriede has legitimate points within the context of her life.

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Bitterness is a very uncommon theme in fiction, which is a shame because, if used well, can make for a uncomfortably interesting read and an fascinating exploration of what we are in an indifferent world. “Elfriede – a dystopia” is a good testament of the many alternatives of life and our emotional responses to it, and a film adaption would make an interesting addition to the animated exploration of the existential.

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7. “Smile” by Raina Telgemeler: Remember when you were a teenager who hated the way you looked? Well, then you should definitely read this graphic memoir “Smile”. This tale follows the struggles of the protagonist with her dental care, where, after an accident, her teeth need intensive management and repair. Raina feels painfully insecure about her reconstituted teeth, and her teeth become the focus of fear about being different from her fellow classmates. Raina faces a lot of peer pressure and frustration when growing up, while also feeling the pain of bracelets which engulf her teeth and expose her as different in the mere acts of smiling or talking.
This graphic novel is an honest memoir that shows Raina at times as unpleasant as the worst about her, but also as sweet and secure at the oddest of moments.

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The best parts in the memoir, though, are the details about her friends, who, instead of being a reserve of comfort and connectedness, belittle and seem to find joy in bossing her about in her new outsider state. Though it takes time, as Raina grows older within the story, she acquires the strength to say no to her friends and in her blossoming confidence is even able to find less toxic friends.

This memoir is funny and very relatable and speaks to the growing pains that ring so true to many young girls and women. Now, with Young Adult film adaptation’s so popular, this tale, with its insightful teenage explorations, would make perfect sense to adapt to the filmic media. As an extra bonus, Ms. Telgemer has recently published another graphic memoir titled “Sisters”, which I for one can´t wait to read!

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8. “Moomins: The policeofficer´s nephew” by Lars Jansson: Technically cheating since this is a comic strip, but this supposedly younger readers graphic tale would be an interesting and extremely brave adaptation. Over at Flavorwire this “storybook” is found listed this as one of the children´s books that deserve a re-boot, and indeed, while the cartoon show which was based on the books is good, it still lacks a lot of the more philosophical and political themes which the Moomin books are famous for. The comics, while not always as good, were at best as sharp as the original stories. Especially we can note this comic series springing from the originals, where the police officers nephew comes for a visit to Moomin valley and decides he suddenly wants to become a policeman himself. Unfortunately this leads to a slew of over-enthusiastic actions leading him to harangue and arrest the innocent populace of the tranquil valley. To thwart the worst of the Nephews actions his Uncle claims there is an illegal drug trade in Moominvalley, hoping this will distract him. Yet instead of diverting the authoritarian behavior of the nephew it only makes things worse.

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This comic is as bizarre as it is funny and takes enormous risks, inside of this genre, in making references to both marijuana, cocaine as well as opium. Naturally, this comic is a critique of the social ideal of the police officer having definitive, unquestioned power within all encounters and situations, and of the drug panic which our society reacts to blindly (and criminalizes). While it can be argued that perhaps this comic is not exactly for young children, it still could pass for young adults and adults. The comic isn’t afraid of poking fun at authority while keeping the Moomins pure hearted and kind towards the misguided nephew. It is a truly odd, fun read and would most likely stir debate and laughter as a film.

Not from the same story line, but still funny!

Not from the same story line, but still funny!

9. “Army of God” by David Axe and Tim Hamilton: This is journalism in the form of comics, similar to the work of Joe Sacco (author of the classic “Palestine”). A little while back there was a lot of controversy over the video “Kony 2012”. Most reactions and opinions were spontaneous, though heartfelt, but few really got to get a clear picture of the ideology and actions perpetuated by the Kony “movement” in the Congo. In this comic, two journalists give a short introduction to the Congo´s modern history, what exactly the “Lord Resistance Army” (Kony´s terrorist group) is, about the international movement to stop “LDR”, and most importantly tells the story of few of Kony´s victims. It would be a great documentary film if adapted, and a much needed one, since it is hard to get real, concrete facts and information about the horrors LDR have committed.

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10. Nearly the entire comic output of Nina Hemmingsson: Ms. Hemmingsson is a Swedish comic artist who has become famous for her short comics about a socially inept young woman. Her collected works include “I am your girlfriend now”, “My beautiful eyes” and “It´s hard to be Elvis in Uppsala”**. Her works are witty, dark and hilarious. Addressing gender stereotypes and norms, her work details in a personal and bizarre fashion telling of the tireless exploration of characters pushing against convention while continuing the battle of being themselves. In a film adaptation it would be a interesting experiment of following multiple story lines and situations, bursting with awesome social commentary.

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For example, the story “I dated a Buddhist”*** is a sharp, funny commentary of white westerners who practice a form of “Buddhism”, simultaneously watering it down and not being entirely understanding about the real roots of the faith (i.e. committing cultural appropriation), all the while using their “enlightened faith” to elevate themselves amongst their peers and depress-shame others who inadvertently find themselves in their company. Another story depicts a young girl getting on a buss after a riding lesson. The driver makes a comment about all girls loving horses to which the young girl responds to gently point out that boys can also like horses and horse riding. This insight gets the young girl shut down in the conversation as soon as she indicates the sexist assumptions and absurdity of the discussion.

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One of Hemmingssons strips……” The young man encourages the older woman to express herself, the woman conveys her frustration and suggests a sexual liasion between them. The man quickly notes that some self-censorship is still advised.”

A common core to the story arc of Hemingsson’s tales is the positioning of the weird and wondrous protagonist to reflect the conditions of real life in a melancholic yet hopeful way. In the end of the day, a film version of these kind of stories would be great. Who doesn´t need some laughter nowadays?
So there´s my list. What do you readers think? Any other comics/graphic novels/graphic memoirs you would like to see a film adaption of?

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*For anyone interested, the very best comic/graphic novel adaptations done to date are “Persepolis” and the television adaptation of “The Boondocks” (specifically season 1 and 2).

persepolis** My own translations.

*** My own translations.

Hello and Happy International Women´s Day! To celebrate, this blog will feature various articles and reports about Womens´s struggles for justice and equality, for respect and freedom. Enjoy and become aware!

Firstly, it is time for us as a society to not be friends with rapist.

Buzzfeed has a collection of animated depictions of society´s most beloved couples, where such characters as Marge Simpson and Wonderwoman are vitims of Domestic Abuse. Chilling and powerful. Serious Trigger Warning!

How US Politics contribute to the the epidemic portions of gendered violence in Mexico.

The Aftermatch of the Rwandan genocide, from the Rwandan´s womens perspective.

The horrific situation when millions of women worldwide are denied abortions.


The dangers women face when religious beliefs dominate hospitals.

One brave Afghan woman´s film about rape.

Two takes on Jared Leto´s role in “Dallas Buyers Club”.

What does the recent election in Honduras mean for the countires women?

A factsheet about the almost forgotten Comfort Women.

Amnesty Internationals campaign for Reproductive rights and justice.

Seeking justice for the thousands of murdered Indigenous Canadian women.

A factsheet of Chinese activist Cao Shunli.

Black women and the burden of HIV.

15 facts on sex, pregnancy and violence.

In Nepal, widespread gender discrimination has lead to a crisis in sexual and reproductive rights.

(In Swedish, use google translations). Poor women don´t get access to women´s clinics.

(In Swedish, use google tranlsation). Same situation in Burkina Faso.

(In Finnish, use google translation). Everyone must have the right to decide themselves what their genderidentification is.

Take Action! Sign this petition to prevent a new law in Mocambique which gives rapist the right to marry their victims instead of facing jail.

Take Action! Help a Guatemalan mother find justice for her daughter, who was brutally raped and killed.


In China, single motherhood and having children outside of weddinglock are the final taboo.

A crisis for women´s sexual rights in Poland.


In China, a activist protesting child rape was made homeless by the authorities.

India´s period problem.

How landgrabs in Kenya hurt the Sengwer women (an Indeginous people in Kenya).

There is still hope for Arab feminism!

The scars of the Iraq war lead to depression and drug abuse in Iraqi women.

Breaking the silence of Domestic abuse in the palestian communities.

Israel admitted to forced birth controll and sterilazation of Ethiopian women refugees.

Breaking the silence on violence against Indeginous women, adolescents and children.


Peru will reopen the cause of forced sterilizations, subjected to thousands of Indeginous women.

Top five issues which is killing of Native Americans.

A mother was charged with fellony since she heloed her daughter to get access to an illegal abortion pills online.


19 things women writers are sick of hearing.

Some articles on the Woody Allen controversy: An former lawyer who worked on many child molestian causes explains of how despite not being convicted, it doesn´t mean Allen isn´t guilty. Another piece shows the 1993 papers from the trial, showing he infact wasn´t found completely innocent. Vanity Fair spells out 10 facts about the cause. And finally, a piece on how bizarre it is that Mia Farrow is always accused of brainwashing and Woody Allen isn´t.

One-third of European women suffer from either sexual or physical abuse.

Take Care/ Maaretta

Hello everyone, here’s a short collection of articles that are worth reading!

Over at Ms. Blog, Elizabeth Kissling wrote about scientific research showing that our ideas about PMS are overblown.

Anita Little at the same blog wrote about the black-white gap in Breast cancer mortality.

At Feministing, Lori Adelman bravely stated that the iconic kissing sailor photo depicts sexual assault, not romance.

Zerlina Maxwell explained why Republicans need to shut up about rape forever.

Lori Adelman also wrote about Republicans problematic views on rape. (The article was written a couple weeks before the election.)

Update! Ms. Adelman has recently written about how the rape apologist Republican candidates did last night.

Lastly, over at the “The Guardian”, the journalist Adam Frost and designer Jim Kynvin studied all of the Man Booker Prize winners to see what the most likely winner will usually be. (Spoiler! The answer of course being: white, male, English, from somewhat wealthy families and writing about the past. Well, at least they are more diverse than the Nobel Prize for Literature).

“Pain, without love/ Pain, I can’t get enough pain/ I like it rough ‘Cause I’d rather feel pain than nothing, nothing at all” – Three Days Grace, “Pain”

(This review will not be spoiler free. This review also may be triggering for discussions of rape and violence.)

Hitomi Kanehara was a high school dropout and wrote her debut, “Snakes and Earrings”, when she was nineteen years old. It won the “Akutagawa Prize” (one of the most valued literary prizes in Japan) in 2003. One of the judges was the well-respected bestselling novelist Ryū Murakami. In a foreword he wrote for “Snakes and Earrings”, Mr. Murakami praised the novel for its perfect depiction of the angst and existential troubles one can suffer while being (as well as due to existing as one) a teenager. He speculated that one of the reasons why Ms. Kanehara succeeds in this so well would be because she wrote the novel when still a teenager herself.

Ms. Hitomi Kanehara

“Snakes and Earrings” starts with the nineteen-year old Lui meeting the punk-styled Ama and his split-tongue. Lui becomes immediately and extremely eager to get her tongue pierced, the first step in getting it split. She suddenly wishes to cover herself in tattoos and piercings, much to Ama’s surprise, since she’s a so-called “Barbiegirl”. When the two become a couple it turns out that Ama is a very sweet-natured and cuddly lover despite his “scary” looks. However he is violently overly protective of Lui and therefore beats a man to possible death after the man harassed Lui. Lui fiercely claims that she does not care much about Ama. She then tries her best to make sure Ama doesn’t get caught by the police, contradicting her many statements.

Ama and Lui, from the cinematic adaption of “Snakes And Earrings”

However, despite Ama having a clear dark side, Lui is frustrated by his mild and loving care of her. Her longing for roughness and self-destruction are found in the sadistic tattoo artist Shida, who she starts an affair with. Shida constantly threatens Lui that he may end up killing her eventually. Shida makes it clear that he also would enjoy such an act very much. He’s also extremely violent towards Lui during sex. Kanehara uses those narrative sequences to describe Lui’s relationship to herself, her body and sexuality: exploring the thoughts which Lui has regarding what Shida will do to her, and playing these against musings about what other men have done to her during sex, some of which she strongly disliked. However it seems Lui wasn’t able to protest against these events. An eerie feeling is created that suggests Lui doesn’t ever get a say or control of the situation when having sex – in a way she’s always literally at the mercy of the men. But when with Shida, Lui becomes intoxicated with the possibility of her own annihilation.

This theme is continued in a scene where, while eating dinner with Ama and Shida at a restaurant, Lui wonders whether it will be Ama who will kill her (due to him finding out about her unfaithfulness) or Shida (who even at the restaurant whispers to her how much he longs to kill her). Lui states this as a matter of fact and as a curiously indifferent quiz question. Lui bathes herself in destruction and the threat of death is all a part of the new life of suffering.

Kanehara cleverly describes how Lui feels such disconnection from the society and life that she can`t care about herself nor keep herself safe in the midst of the acts of her own living . She longs for pain, since as she frankly states: “I need it to feel anything”. Lui isn’t close to her family and doesn’t seem to have any close friends (only one appears briefly in the novel and Lui doesn’t seem that close to her) and hates the only job she’s ever had. The job in question being to serve and host rich men who have “important business” meetings at the bar where she’s employed. The job is illustrated as a work place where young girls giggle and smile and act as cute as possible to please men, i.e. acting out a role usually expected from women in patriarchic societies. Lui states she is very good at this job. So good in fact that many men leave her their phone numbers. Lui then adds: “But it’s not me their interested in, it’s the role I play that their interested in”. In a following inner thought Lui comments on how most people mistake her for an orphan. This is a subtle hint that Lui as a person comes off as quit alone and separated from all in the world.

Lui, being unable to make meaningful connections and being forced to act cute by society, rebels destructively by just adapting another submissive and self-annihilating role. Society, being both empty and colorful, has driven Lui to seek the exact opposite. Yet due to the operations of the patriarchic world, even her rebellion can only lead to her being exploited.

Lui is not only self-destructive by staying in relationships where she may end up dying, but she’s also an alcoholic. Ama points out how Lui is basically dependent of alcohol, which she disregards with anger. Kanehara uses the addiction to drink, and the deadly spiral it creates, to depict Lui as a person consumed by nihilism. But this nihilism is founded on the deadly, but logical, reaction to society which gives her no choices or possibilities of action. Lui’s decisions are clearly not healthy. While her nihilism stops her from making better decisions in life, what alternative is possible in a life stripped of possibility?

Cover of the Finnish translation of “Snakes and Earrings”

“Snakes and Earrings” is a great portrayal of harsh numbness. However, in the novel, the presentation of bisexual men is more than a little troublesome. Shida, the sadistic tattoo artist, mentions early to Lui that he enjoys sleeping with men (when he’s about to sleep with Lui). That Shida is sexually disturbed is hinted at from his very first interaction with Lui when he states in a serious tone to her, during their first encounter, that he would like to stab Lui in the neck. His most disturbing traits are continually displayed in the novels narrative through the token of his bisexuality. Along with this troubling thread in the tale we find throughout the novel Kanehara has her characters, consistently position the act of the bisexual as peculiar, and moving, always, on the fringe of meaningless destruction. To explain furthermore, I’ll have to explain the turning point of the novel.

Cover of Swedish translation of “Snakes and Earrings”

Near the novels end, Ama goes missing. He is later found dead with clear signs of being brutally tortured before being killed. Lui’s reaction to this news is surprisingly emotional. She suffers depression and feels guilty over not getting to know Ama more (she worries that their last exchange of dialogue was so nonchalant). She stops eating entirely and only drinks. Lui, for a mere moment in the text, starts to care for something and engage with relations. However, she is quickly called in by the police who have discovered that Ama was raped before being killed. The Policemen start off asking Lui, before telling about their recent discovery, if Ama had any “bisexual tendencies”. Lui says she doubts it and that she is certain that Ama was completely heterosexual. A conclusion she makes since as she says: “his way of having sex was so normal that I was sometimes fairly bored”. A policeman then explains that they discovered that Ama was also raped before being murdered. This whole sequence boggles the mind on so many levels. Why did the policemen assume Ama was bisexual? They state that he was raped by another man, not having consensual sex with one. It is highly problematic that the policeman makes assumptions of a victim’s sexuality due to the crime committed towards them. A crime such as rape should never be seen as a reveal of sorts on the victim’s personality, besides that they have experienced something horrid. The way the policemen put it makes it sounds as if they would be trying to find out if Ama was somehow “asking for it” or somewhat responsible for getting raped (i.e. Victim Blaming). Portraying a situation like this wouldn’t be problematic if the author included a critical tone to the prose or had her protagonist question such mentality, but such protests, or even hints of disquiet about the direction of the conversation, are completely lacking in this scene. Also, by having the novel’s protagonist decide that Ama couldn’t possibly be bisexual since he’s way of having sex was too “normal”, Kanehara makes the implication that bisexuality is similar to having an appetite for “unusual” sex. Such viewpoints boggle the mind and we hope, and not find within the narrative, any alarm with this train of thought.

Lui then figures out that Shida was the one who raped, tortured and killed Ama. Lui however still decides to stay with Shida, this decision being her final act of nihilism. This is a great ending since it does demonstrate Lui’s complete lack of caring, feeling or belief for anything. However by making Shida, the most disturb person in the novel, into a complete monster and also the only non-heterosexual character in the novel, this twist ends up also sending the message that bisexual men, just by nature of being bisexual, are dangerous and predatory. This is a stereotype that has been detailed many times in fiction regarding the bisexual man, and one which also rears its ugly head regarding gay men as well. “Snakes and Earrings” therefore just repeats an old nasty caricature of the non-heterosexual men, and takes what should be a great and forceful ending and undermines it (not to mention makes this strong story have the taste of extremely non-progressive morality tale).

“Snakes and Earrings” is a very short, but disturbing and intense read. Despite its huge flaws, “Snakes and Earrings” is well worth checking out.

Many movies fail to portray women and men in an enlightened way, but few fail to do so in such a dishonest and outright depressingly hilarious way as “Snow White and The Huntsman”. The characters of Snow White, The Huntsman and the Evil Queen serves up a messy stew of old tired caricatures of the genders and asks us to savor it as feminist cuisine extraordinaire. In the midst of this muddle of narrative flavors the film serves up a few side dishes of antagonists so stupid that their fall is unquestionable and a mini-course of plot-related questions hanging unattended to.

The film begins with Snow Whites mother, presumably the only person who’s heard of feminism in this movie, wishing for a child who would be both beautiful and strong. She doesn’t specify the gender of the child, which means she has the same expectations for both boys and girls, which is amazing and refreshing to see. After Snow White’s birth, she constantly speaks of how her daughter’s beauty comes from her wonderful personality, being a great feminist mom by teaching her daughter that a woman should define herself by her personality, not her looks. Unfortunately the mother being too clever for this film dies quickly. Snow White’s father then heads off to a mysterious yet easily won battle, where he rescues a woman held captive by this incompetent foe. Snow White’s father finds this captured woman to be so beautifully bonerrific that he marries her the very next day, not even bothering to learn anything else about her except her name. So Snow White can then forget all about women’s worth coming from their personalities; her father leads the way!

On the wedding night, the newly-wedded queen Ravenna (Charlize Theorin) starts recounting her past to the visually enamored king. True to form of the relation of the sexes in this film, the king ignores her story and only focuses on trying to get to some action. Ravenna in her monologue verbalizes how men exploit women, only caring about their looks and abandoning them when they grow old – a conclusion she has come to from a hard life. A smart man would respond to this information, but the king just keeps on trying to get busy. He is then killed, and his ten year old daughter is at once locked away in a tower. Everyone below the queen and her brother are left to starve. Unintentionally the film posits the ignorant masculine role as the primary cause of the narrative action which is founded on a blatant ignoring of the suspicious and questionable personality of the rescued damsel, as the King seeks only to obtain the typical hot wife. Ravenna is supposed to be seen as bitter and unfairly angry towards the world, but judging by what has so far happened (and will continue to happen throughout the film) Ravenna’s beliefs seem to be completely accurate about the world and especially the men that run it.

Ravenna (Ms. Theron)

Snow White (Kristen Stewart) grows into a woman in a dark cell until one day the Queen figures out she needs the princess´ heart to become immortal. She dispatches her brother, Finn to escort Snow to her presence. Snow White, after praying because good people in this film are of the devoted Christian type and not of the nasty witch inclination, has found herself a nail (thank god for prayer!) which will become a handy weapon soon enough. Finn shows up and in a simplistic and indolent scene we find out that his most important character traits are his stupidity and the his sickening fondness for molestation. After opening Snow White’s cell Finn proceeds to leave the keys in the door, and the door wide open, and wastes no time to start groping the princess. Snow White asks why Finn has come. The following dialogue then makes it clear that Finn has been spying on Snow White while assuming she’s asleep, something that Snow has been aware of. This plotline is forgotten as soon as it’s mentioned and leaves one in confusion as to why it had to be in the film at all (besides the obvious reason to make us hate Finns character). Finn tells her not to be scared; the Queen only wants her heart, i.e. to brutally murder her and mutilate her body (That will calm Snow White down, alright!). Snow then strikes Finn with the nail and escapes the cell whilst locking Finn in (once again, thank god for prayer!). Since Finn blatantly laid out to Snow the Queens plans and leaves the key in the cell door lock unattended (with the door fully open as well) the results of Snow White’s successful escape was less than suspenseful. Finn literally set himself up to fail his task. A smarter person would learn from his mistakes, but Finns actions will continue throughout the film to be as laughable self-destructive. Finn is depicted as so dim that he cannot be viewed as a frightening character or as a believable one (which is obviously and notably sad as he is a horrific abuser!).

Snow White makes her way into the cursed woods and culminates in a scene of irksome and pointless hallucinations. We then are introduced to The Huntsman, who is so filled with stereotypical manliness that the first thing we see him do is get drunk and engaging in aimless, but man-producing, violence. These traits will be all that the character consists of, never really developing into anything but a thin stereotype. Finn appears outside the bar where the fights taken place and informs The Huntsman that the Queen demands his presence at the palace. The Huntsman gruffly replies, while sitting in a wooden bucket of water he was pushed into, “Can’t you see I’m taking a bath?” to which I reply: “Dear Writers: manliness is not the same as unfunny brainless macho-posturing and one-liners built around this behavior”. Finn drags our stereotype to the Queens palace, where the Queen promises to bring The Huntsman’s dead wife back to life (she has these MAGIC powers, see) if he in return will capture and bring Snow White to her.

All the while this is occurring we see an entirely male driven rebellion going on against the Queen simultaneously. An ENTIRELY male driven rebellion, since I guess women fighting would run the risk of the male warriors catching the girlie bacteria (basically cooties) from such close proximity outside of being only wives and mothers.

So The Huntsman now goes off to the woods and soon locates Snow White. The Huntsman however doesn’t want to hand Snow over until he gets his wife reanimated and presented to him, to which Finn, laughing wildly at our heroes naivety, tells our dimwitted hero that in reality Ravenna can’t bring back the dead, ending his nice little explanation with: “you idiot”. The Huntsman gets upset over this and proceeds to kill all the soldiers around him (he was sent with a battalion of helpers for his quest), however, for the sake of continuation of the tale, Finn gets away. Why does Finn tell The Huntsman he was being cheated while he was still in the midst of carrying out the bargain? Why is the vastly powerful and resourceful Ravenna ignorant of her brother’s inability to do anything according to plan? Why would she let Finn go along on the quest to capture Snow at all? Needless to say the supposed narrative will never answer these questions.

Snow White and The Huntsman flee into the woods, where they encounter an insanely aggressive troll which knocks out The Huntsman, but calms down after Snow White merely stands still and gazes (enchantingly??) at it. What are we to make of this passive gaze that brings the troll to heel? Naturally this can only be because women are so special, especially those who are beautiful! What necessity is there for the womanly and the lovely to do or say anything? Their mere divine and stunning existence solves any problem put before them. Oddly enough this doing nothing is shown as the empowerment of Snow White! Only non-action, the surface, is where women have power in this world.

Snow White (Ms. Stewart)

So after the wacky adventure of calming the troll Snow White and The Huntsman encounter a tribe of women with self-inflicted scars and mutilated faces. One of the women explains that the scars were made to ensure that Ravenna wouldn’t consider their beauty as a threat and therefore harass and persecute them. Ravenna is indeed killing women who she thinks are too pretty to live. But her idea of beauty must be outrageously narrow. The woman telling Snow about this plan, for instance is magnificently and stunningly beautiful despite her self-mutilations (which are barely visible, causing even more confusion for the viewer). The women of the village are tremendously lucky that Ravenna’s ideals of beauty are beyond logic.

We find that the tribe of women is actually not a tribe, and the women tell our heroes that their men are actually off at war while they stay at home. Once again the roles of men and women, mothers and fathers are inscribed on the surface of the story. Who does what role, and where all men and women should find themselves in society and in their own thoughts about themselves are very clearly laid out: Men are fighters, actors, and aggressors. Women are beauties, passive and motherly (except the queen, but she’ll get hers!).’

The dwarfs’ naturally show up now in the logic of the tale. Like all the characters of this film none of the dwarfs’ personalities are ever developed, but they do take the main characters to a magical forest where a spirit blesses Snow. Turns out she was born special. Brilliant – no need to bother developing our heroine’s personality when we can be given an explanation of having simply been born with good royalty genes! At this point I realized that the film just was a love letter to classist society and female passiveness.

Finn is eventually killed by The Huntsman in a fight but not before Finn gets to tell the audience that he raped The Huntsman’s wife as well as countless of other women. It is not surprising in the character of the films logic that Finn the idiot told this to the Huntsman which proceeds to motivate him more in his anger and the will to fight (and naturally win). The film shows an off-handedness to the horror of such a character trait placed onto Finn and it is used only to motivate the males in the action of the narrative. The subject of rape, a world-wide problem for women, is introduced in to this film so a man can be empowered. The consequences and traumas the victim of molestation has to go through are sidestepped (ignored as unimportant) and the only thing that is depicted as relevant for the movie’s plot logic is the male’s chance to be heroically active. This is a trope commonly seen in films (“Book of Eli”, “The Expendables”, “Spiderman” and “Gladiator” to name a few) and truth be told, it needs to end.

At this point Snow’s childhood friend William, who’s in the rebellious army, has reunited with her. They start bonding after some days spent together. When they get some time alone, Snow picks an apple from a tree. Before eating it, she kisses William on the lips and then bites the apple. Cue Snow White shaking and spasm out of control while William transforms, revealing themselves as a disguised Ravenna. Ravenna gets ready to cut out Snow’s heart and begins a monologue about her own vulnerabilities and weaknesses (which Snow White will naturally use to win later on). Snow goes into a coma, either from the curse or from the horror of kissing her technically only living parent and legal guardian. One can only ponder the childish fear and longing for the same gender kiss which seems to be on display here, and the simultaneous avoidance of it in the odd mechanics of this scene (woman kisses woman, but she is a man here so no problems. Except…).

The real William and The Huntsman now show up to fight the queen, who turns into a murder of crows and flies away. William tries to Kiss Snow, but she doesn’t wake up, probably because the kiss was planted on her bottom lip and chin, not on her lips. Aim a little higher next time, Will.

William

Comatose/dead Snow White is brought to the rebellions village and set on a bed of hay. While everyone is mourning, The Huntsman gets drunk again and goes to see Snow. Alone with her, he tells her about how his wife changed him from a brute to a good man, but her death turned him back into a violent and sluggish brute again. The myth of a good woman and the miraculous power it can have over the brutish and violent nature of man is now laid out in the mis-en-scene of the tale. Glad they could get this myth of the woman and the man in, even if it is just as a passing comment!

The Huntsman then decides to creepily kiss a dead woman (since every character in this movie seems to feel the need to molest Snow White in one way or another). After kissing the clearly deceased woman The Huntsman leaves and Snow White awakes. It is established that Snow is more interested in William then the Huntsman, so one wonders why Williams kiss didn’t work (assuming the curse works the same way in this films as it did in the original versions). But Williams kiss most likely didn’t work because William according to the primeval ideals of this film is a wimp for crying at times and The Huntsman is a real man for being an alcoholic and potentially dangerous ax-swinging rough guy. Of course his kiss will wake Snow White up! He’s the real man here!

Snow then finally takes some form of action and makes a motivational speech for the rebellious army. She says she knows now how to kill the queen (since Ravenna bizarrely decided to openly talk about those things to a still awake Snow White). It is quite surprising how level headed Snow seems to be directly after waking up from a poisoned induced coma. And considering that now she is aware of the forbidden kiss of her stepmother one would expect a bewildered Snow White to somewhat immediately enquire about the nature of such a kiss along the lines of: “Anybody know about the legality of this?”

At this point everyone marches off towards the Queen’s palace, with Snow comprising the single woman found this peculiar army, but we are naturally not concerned with this as we have already seen how she is special unlike all other females in this tale (Those royal genes again, and she is prettier than everybody else).

The dwarves sneak into the castle and proceed to incapacitate the guards of the castle and open the main gateway for the army. This grand and wonderous action by the dwarves is ignored by every character in the film (they are of “that” class after all) and they are never really given credit for this or thanked for it.

With men dying to the left and right in the heat of the ensuing battle Snow White dashes up to the Queens room. Snow initiates her complex and amazing battle moves, which seem to be composed of simply standing still and gazing at the queen (it did work on the troll, remember. But why Ravenna doesn’t just simply kill Snow while she passively stands and stares at her raises a bevy of questions about the competence of the queen here, clear, though it may be now that Ravenna’s sole purpose at this point is to lose as punishment for seeing the world correctly).

So Snow, the only protagonist woman we ever see to take action in this film, never actually takes action, while the men all do and with a force. William and The Huntsman are shown as fierce warriors, and there are many scenes to remind the viewers of that. The trailers and advertisements promised to portray Snow White as a fierce warrior and as Snow just stood there while the Queen attacks, the only tension that filled the theater at that moment was: “When will the promised warrior princess show up?” Snow however finally remembers her promise to everyone and does kill the queen in the last minute, but not before blurting out: “You can’t have my heart”. To which the bewildered viewers of the film silently replied: “Snow, please just let it go and don’t make things anymore uncomfortable then they already are”.

In a final scene, and as the people in this films world do not appear to crave any sort of equality, Snow White is crowned Queen. While this is the moment when the audience is supposed to cheer for Snow White, all one could wonder at this point was : “They’re going get the The Huntsman to an AA-meeting now, right?

This film is nothing but faux female empowerment. However Kristen Stewart’s acting skills have improved tremendously and many of the films scenes were entertaining due to how unintentionally funny they were. But if you decide not to see this film, I safely can promise you it is a wise decision.

Comedy can be a very powerful social tool. Through humor people can critique politics, point out hypocrisies in our cultures and people, or give us a means to observe the sociology of our beings. Satire is the most commonly known term for this form of comedy and many of the most famous “stand up” comedians tend to use this type of satirical humor. For example George Carlin, Bill Maher, Lewis Black, and Margaret Cho.

In the two videos, below, we can see the work of a couple brilliant comedians working with this satirical technique to confront important political and social issues in their comedic routines, and I will attempt to give a brief thought on what occurs within each of these satirical monologues.

Dave Chappelle is one of the most recognized African-American comedians in the US. He’s mostly known for the comedy sketch program “Chappelle’s Show”, which featured risqué humour as well as social commentary dressed in a mocking tone. He was also quite phenomenal while doing stand up. In this routine, he discusses how society views men who are victims of sexual violence.

Mr. Chappelle, definitively, hits the nail on the head in this routine. Men are expected to “man-up” after experiencing traumatic events, and are bizarrely anticipated to always be able to defend themselves. Men are constantly propelled to feeling shame if they don’t live up to these expectations. However, I don’t exactly agree with Mr. Chappelle that society is just super nice to female victims of sexual violence; there’s a lot of victim blaming there as well.

On an not-so-off note: regarding the topic of preventing sexual violence, check out these superb ads on the subject.

Maz Jobrani is a Iranian-born American comedian who is a part of the excellent comedy group “Axis of Evil”. In his unique satirical style, he critiques and explores subjects such as racism, Islamophobia, and on his own identity of being Iranian/American. Many of his routines excavate and evaluate Iranian, as well as American, politics. In the clip featured below, he talks about his of upbringing in the crux of “manhood”.

The monologue directly confronts the suppression of “weak” emotions that the male is “suppose” to suppress and ignore. Social norms operate often to curtail men in regard to entirely express emotions. Needless to say this suppression is not the greatest of ideas. It’s good that Mr. Jobrani satireizes such upbringing, but he does make an unfortunate implication in the very end. Pity, but still funny insight on the subject if one ignores the very last bit.

Hope these two clips gave you some good laughs, and raised some thoughts!

Joyce Carol Oates is perhaps USA: s most popular contemporary writer. She is also critically acclaimed and many of her fans are of the opinion that she should win the Nobel Prize for literature. Even if I am not a huge fan of Oates (despite her undeniable talent, I personally have a few of other women writers I think should win the Nobel Prize instead of Oates) she has written some extraordinary pieces of fiction. The novel “Blonde”, a fictional bibliography of the iconic actress Marilyn Monroe, is in my personal opinion a masterpiece and future classic. In it Oates demonstrated her talent for experimental writing. Oates has also shown a great talent in her novel, “Zombie”.

“Zombie” centers on Quentin P. As the novel begins, Quentin has been charged and is being prosecuted for sexual violence towards a minor. He is found guilty and is forced to enter both group and personal therapy. Quentin, despite his age, is supported financially by his parents and grandmother and he lives a solitary and confined life. Quentin P. becomes obsessed, after reading about lobotomy, with the notion of creating a sexual zombie for himself. He begins this horrific attempt with the obvious result of a slew of deaths meted out to the young men on which he tries his fanatical experiments.

The story is told completely from Quentin P.’s point of view and Oates convincingly plumbs the twisted portrait of a psychotic mind. Similar to the attempts made by Ian Banks in his novel “The Wasp Factory”, which portrayed a teenage sadist, and by Brett Easton Ellis in his most famous novel “American Psycho”, Oates uses a telling prose to navigate us through Quentin’s thoughts and feelings. The prose, as constructed by the irredeemable protagonist, is always grammatically challenged and resembles, at times, a child’s way of writing. Oates additionally lays out an “illustrative novel” of the disturbed mind by giving us a set of small, simple pictures that are supposed to be drawings made by Quentin. While both the language and imagery is childlike, the actions described by Quentin are chilling, sickening and unpleasantly graphic. Here Oates succeeds in commenting on how the mind of violent people may sometimes be: they are immature and outside the kin of the social and interactive. This is an interesting take on people who commit extreme acts of violence. What if they never learned empathy while growing up?

Oates doesn’t give the reader a straight explanation for Quentin P’s behavior and psyche. She shows Quentin as a master of manipulation, being able to gain sympathy from people even if he clearly doesn’t deserve it. He says things that don’t mean anything to him, but he knows will get him out of trouble. This cynical and remote characteristic of manipulation is shown as his most poignant and disturbing weapon from when he was a little boy attacking a playmate and not wanting to get into trouble with his parents for it, to the present day when he wants sympathy from the counselor in his group therapy. This tactic gives Quentin the possibility to do more and more terrible crimes and still feel he is distant to them. Oates hints that Quentin’s use of manipulation may be an explanation for how he can get away with his crimes, along with Quentin’s immaturity and lack of empathy being a reason for how he himself can carry out them.

Other possible reasons for Quentin’s actions and psyche described in the book are Quentin P’s repressed sexuality, loneliness and obsessive need for control. Quentin speaks of how his “Zombie” will think he (as friend, companion, master and creator) is the greatest of humans, will be ultimately committed to Quentin regardless and despite his actions, and will be totally subservient to his wishes and commands.

Theatrical production of "Zombie"

The fundamentally and major motivator to the psyche of Quentin is his father, who in a telling moment, relentlessly chastises the young Quentin for his deep “sickness” regarding his attachment to the pictures of muscular men and forces the traumatized Quentin to create a bonfire of this collection in the suburban family backyard. Quentin is show growing up, and obtaining the deep mental scars, in an environment and time (50’s and 60’s) where homosexuality is regarding by nearly all as the most disquieting and repellent of sins. Quentin, not being able to develop and explore his sexuality identity, must repress the normal explorations of his-self with the consequences and developments emerging as a disturbing, violent nature.

“Zombie” is a rough read. It is not for the squeamish. However I do recommend this novel. It has a difficult subject matter, yet deals with it both subtly and thought provokingly, while not giving way to simplistically “clear” answers or undemanding moral polarities.

Worth the read on each and every page.