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The Continued Insufferability of Amanda Marcotte

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by Brien Jackson

I don’t really know how to lead into this pointly subltely, so I’ll just put it down and go from there; Amanda Marcotte needs to take a break. A really long break. Yes she’s a good read every now and then, and can bring an interesting perspective to my daily reading, but more often than not, and with more impact, she’s just infuriatingly myopic. This is especially true anytime the topic is misogyny, which with Marcotte is more or less all the time.

Now let’s be honest, sexism is of course a problem in our society, as is racism, homophobia, Islamophobia, and a dozen other forms of bigotry. I’m not going to dispute that, and I don’t think that many people would. But given that it really is a legitimate problem, it just makes it all that more unusual that Marcotte is so routinely stretching to find things to chalk up to misogyny. Her post today about Roman Polanski is a fairly good example of that.

First, some background. Roman Polanski is an award winning director who hasn’t been in the United States since the mid 1970’s because he’s wanted for drugging and raping a 13 year old girl, something he’s admitted he did. So there’s really no ambiguity about his doubt, yet some people nevertheless wring their hands over the situation and try to defend Polanski. Naturally, this is proof to Marcotte that everyone is a misogynist and we all love rape:

When there’s so little doubt about guilt regarding other crimes, there’s rarely this sort of public hand-wringing about whether the guilty is really guilty, but we’re talking rape and we’re talking about our rape culture.  A rape culture is a funhouse mirror version of the anti-choice culture’s attitudes about abortion.  Anti-choicers want abortion to be illegal with the three exceptions being health, rape, and me.  Rape apologists, who still sadly dominate the discourse, think rape should basically be legal except for dark alleys, virgin daughters, and me.  Even though every single rape apologist claims to oppose rape, they find ways to claim that rape isn’t rape, even when the victim is 13, drugged, and pleading with you to stop as you rape her up the ass. 

Can Marcotte find anyone who, in a vacuum, would actually say that raping a 13 year old girl isn’t a horrible thing to do? Indeed, didn’t we just have a court case concerning the desire of some states to execute child rapists? Some way to “celebrate” raping kids.

On the other hand, let me offer a fairly non-controversial observation; Roman Polanski is a celebrity, and crimes involving celebrities always provoke strange and disproportionate reactions in people. The reasoning is likewise pretty simple; when someone you’ve admired (and we could go into the folly of admiring someone you don’t know, but that’s best left for later) does something terrible, our brains have trouble reconciling that, some more than others. Some people can simply change their opinions of the celebrity in question, but others can’t. The same thing happens when your kid commits a violent crime. Does anyone think the parents of accused murderers standing by their kids don’t think murdering people is extremely uncool? Of course they don’t, because that would be absurd. Rather, we understand that the parent’s relationship with and attachment to their child makes it hard for them to believe in their kid’s guilt, or creates a completely emotional reaction that over rides the “rational” response they would have if the same case involved someone other than their kid. Conversely, parents whose children are the victims of violent crime also tend to react in ways they liely wouldn’t to the same case if it involved someone else. Celebrity cases are really no different; when it’s someone you liked and/or admired, you have a hard time believing they could have done it, or otherwise need to rationalize it away to satisfy your emotional reactions. If you really don’t like the celebrity in question, you tend to be more inclined to believe they did it, support overly harsh sentences for them, etc. Marcotte herself provides more evidence to this later by citing the Chris Brown/Rihanna situation, which again involves celebrities.

Again, no one should trivialize real sexism, and certainly not rape, which is why Marcotte really needs to stop with this nonsense. Rather than doing anyone a favor, or helping to make her point, nonsense like this that drives past 5 or 6 much more obvious factors/answers to pin whatever she’s talking about on sexism both marginalize Marcotte as a writer on the issue, and hurt the cause of fighting against real sexism and other forms of bigotry. No one like being called a bigot, and no one likes people who toss the word around like Magic Johnson throwing dimes. Trying to apply it in a case where it so obviously is not a factor is just going to make everyone defensive, and create a resentment factor towards both the author and their cause.




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