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May 06 2009

Spinster aunt perceives flaw in PBS documentary

Mourning dove

The mournfulness of the mourning dove is exceptionally heartwarming. Spinster HQ is lousy with’em at the moment. They go “The end is near, near, near.”

Last night’s Frontline documentary on human sex trafficking — “Sex Slaves,” originally broadcast in 2005 — clawed at every cranny of the obstreperal lobe. Definitely not heartwarming.

I’ll skip the basics, assuming that the advanced blamer is acquainted with the mechanics of human trafficking, because I wish to register a complaint. Well, several complaints. Actually, it’s one large complaint upon which a few dangling dingleberry complaints depend.

The large complaint is that the film is itself sexploitational. It is without question voyeuristic, and at times it borders on actual pornography. And why shouldn’t it? Porn has been normalized into a legitimate art form.

Naturally, people who watch PBS believe themselves to be above that sort of thing, but they still need a reason to watch a show about women’s oppression. They might come away with a few useless “facts,” but these must be delivered from within a framework of entertainment. And entertainment, in 2009, is sex and melodrama. Thus, the “Sex Slaves” teaser:

“An undercover journey deep into the world of sex trafficking, following one man determined to rescue his wife — kidnapped and sold into the global sex trade.”

A murder of spinster aunts could charter a yacht, order a vat of guac and a barrel of margs, and ruminate on the Lido Deck all day long, but we’d never come up with a more formulaical Chivalric plot than that. Are you kidding me? Evil villains, a damsel in distress whose virtue is at stake, and a gallant champion who literally rescues her? Oh, and the damsel is 4 months pregnant. Add sentimental fetus-anxiety bonus points.

A kind of grainy prurience attends nearly every sequence of footage. The B-roll street scenes are shot according to a familiar sexploitation formula: the self-consciously verité-esque camera singles out a pair of comely hips encased in sexy jeans, lingers lustily, and finally pans up to reveal the whole woman as a hottie. Meanwhile, the authoritative male voiceover — the disembodied Voice of God — masks this sleazy voyeurism with academic gravitas. When he describes Ukraine as Eastern Europe’s ground zero for “beautiful women,” and the visual is a taut young Ukrainian midriff, it is meant to be accepted as scientific fact. After all, although the qualitative differences between the two are few, this is a documentary, not an episode of “Law & Order: Mutilated Women Unit.” But the greasy ease with which the documentarist’s camera violates women who are just walking down the street minding their own beeswax is an invocation of the global accords governing fair use of women: all females are de facto sex objects, and hot girls — shots of women who aren’t Beauty2K-compliant didn’t make the final cut — are vulnerable sex slaves waiting to happen.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: DudeAmerica just can’t resist hot young prostituted Russians!

Sure, the producers are against human trafficking. Who isn’t? But can we please have a film about it that doesn’t parrot asinine patriarchal narratives about helpless damsels and male valor, that doesn’t itself exploit the very women whose exploitation it purports to abhor, that does more than just hint at some vague notion of women’s “poverty” as the reason for human trafficking? The rapists who abuse all the women in this film, where are they? Where’s the outrage over the notion that “the sex trade” is a “multi-billion dollar industry,” not because Ukrainian women are poor, but because the world is full of assholes who will pay to rape them? Just once I’d like to see somebody — anybody — point out that “the sex trade,” i.e. rape slavery, is not a consequence of women’s desperation and a few unscrupulous pimps. It is the consequence of a social order based on the fetishization of dominance.

59 comments

1 ping

  1. ambivalent academic

    Dear Twisty,

    I generally come here for the blaming, but I love the recent heartwarming takeover by nature pixxx. Particularly rotting corpses with flies. I’m not being sarcastic. Your photos are wonderful. I fancy myself a bit of an amateur naturalist (and photographer), but your grasp of bug taxonomy (and skill at framing rotting corpses with flies) puts me to shame. Beautiful. And heartwarming. Thanks.

  2. Twisty

    @ambivalent academic (notice how my recent foray into Twitter has produced a sudden conversance in the patois):

    It’s all done with mirrors.

  3. Antoinette Niebieszczanski

    Buttloads of mourning doves hang out Chez Niebieszczanski pretty much year ’round. They like munching dried corn scattered out on the patio.

    I declined to watch that documentary on the basis that it would’ve murdered sleep for me last night. The fact that this industry is so multi-billionicious both scares me and makes me want to play “The Flight of the Bumblebee” on the forehead of the next fella I pass with a hammer.

  4. Shopstewardess

    Twisty, you have as ever hit the nail squarely on the head. Here is the IMDB plot summary for the 1979 film Ashanti, starring Michael Caine.

    “Dr. Anansa Linderby is kidnapped in a medical mission in Africa by a slave trader. From this moment, her husband will do anything to recover her and to punish the bad guys, but that will be not an easy task.” (NB I have removed an ellipsis at the end, in order to comply with the blog rules.)

    I can’t remember whether or not she was pregnant, but very probably.

  5. Hattie

    You are, as usual, 100% right, Twisty.

  6. Theener

    I would like to note that only through your influence, Twisty, did I spy this documentary and say to myself, “I bet this is another piece of crap documentary that does nothing more than pornify women while making excuses and/or not mentioning the rape culture that exploits them and them laments that we may never solve the problem.” The title of the piece was also a clue. Gotta make is sexxay, you know, so the consumers will care.

    I am not exactly heartened to hear that I was correct. Though I salute you for sitting through the hot mess.

  7. rubysecret

    Nice. Our outrage about sex trafficking isn’t valid until we can frame it around the husband/father who needs to rescue/reclaim the woman that should belong only to him. Belonging wholly to herself is not an option.

    And it isn’t confined just to prostitution. It goes all the way from the dudes trolling for “Asian” females on craigslist to the dad “giving away” his daughter at the altar. It’s all trafficking.

  8. Peridot

    And this aside from the fact that they didn’t even touch on the reasons why trafficking is “needed” in the first place: to meet a demand for rape. I’ve written about this documentary too and you’ve linked to it before: http://peridotash.wordpress.com/2007/10/08/meeting-the-demand-for-rape/ What bothered me most about this, and documentaries about prostitution/trafficking in general, is the total lack of curiosity on the parts of the filmmakers about the market these “products” are serving. I remember watching this and asking myself: “Who are these men that go to these brothels KNOWING the women don’t want to be there?” Of course, the film doesn’t answer that question, which to me is far more interesting, but obviously requires more investigation (work) on the parts of the reporters, not to mention having to take on the unpopular position that many men really do see prostitutes so they can power trip and rape. Much easier to make it into a damsel-in-distress story and be done with it, as you say.

  9. Kit

    Makes sense since the real story about prostitution is about how it affects men. They can do another drama based on ‘Of Human Bondage’ to further prove the point.

  10. Stingray

    Frontline. They’re on the tool list.
    Don’t think I missed that ‘wine cup’ in the nature banner. Heart-warming.

  11. Citizen Jane

    Are there any feminist documentaries on this subject or ones like it? Or perhaps semi-fictional movies?

    I’ve seen two movies on the subject so far: Taken and Lilja 4-Ever. Lilja 4-Ever could be called feminist. It was pretty good at raising awareness and highlighting why these kinds of things happen, but I definitely still had some complaints about it. I don’t even want to get started on the things wrong with Taken.

  12. SargassoSea

    Kit – Having just put down “Of Human Bondage”, I find your comment very amusing. Ah, oui, many a man has blamed a prostituted woman for the ruination of his life and praised his funsexylady as his saviour.
    -
    I can’t watch TV anymore – especially Frontline.

  13. Apostate

    Oh lord, they did NOT suggest Ukrainian women are particularly or specially beautiful! How do they imagine fetishization happens if not through stupid statements like these? I’ve heard the same thing asserted for every Asian country and many Middle Eastern countries. It’s so asinine and it again reframes the question of prostitution around the glamor of beauty and desire, as if either one has much to do with the reality of prostituted women’s lives. Youth and poverty are the main pointers to victimization and exploitation, not beauty.

  14. Pantsuit Sally

    I’ve pretty much given up all hope that any documentary about prostitution on mainstream television will actually provide some enlightening information. They always turn out to be just an opportunity to broadcast lots of wanking material under the guise of concern.

    I was on a treadmill at the gym recently and there was an expose on “high-end escorts” on the TV directly in front of me. I don’t remember what it was called, but the word “dirty” was in the title. The show featured very little discussion with the actual prostituted women and lots of screenshots of online brothel “inventories”. It’s no surprise that within five minutes of the program starting, every single treadmill around me with even a halfway decent viewing angle of that TV was being used by a dude. They rushed right over when they saw all those images of lingerie-clad or nude women with pixelated nipples flashing all over the screen.

    And would you believe it, not one word about male privilege in the entire hour? Nope, just lots of pornified Horatio Alger, pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps crap about women who started out giving $25 favors on the street corner and worked their way up to big city, state governor servicing madame with a little elbow grease and a can-do attitude.

  15. Rainbow Girl

    I therefore move that all film and print media be affixed with Twisty subtitles and/or amended with Rainbow Red Pen.

  16. Ayla

    Are all Fronline docus to be viewed with a suspicious eye? I haven’t seen the one in question, but I have seen their (very, very long) AIDS docu and a few others relating to various political events and such and thought they were pretty good.

  17. wiggles

    I think I saw this one. There’s a woman who reels the younger women in with false promises of some kind of regular job, right? And the doc spends a lot of time focusing on her, so as to let you the viewer know that women are their own worst enemies and that you should never trust women.
    It won’t surprise anybody that not much time at all is spent on the men who buy the rape slaves from this woman or on the men who rent the slaves out, thus financing and perpetuating the whole endeavor. It’s another matter of the invisible rapist.

  18. ambivalent academic

    “Who are these men that go to these brothels KNOWING the women don’t want to be there?”

    Do they know that the women don’t want to be there? They ought to be able to deduce this (from the fact that they must exchange money for sex – if the women wanted it, wouldn’t it they do it for free?), but I suspect that the sorts of people who will pay money for sex have constructed a delusion that allows them to believe that the women in these brothels have chosen to be there of their own free will. How can they believe this? Because it is convenient for them. Humans have a remarkable capacity for completely obscuring reality when it is convenient to do so. So much so that they no longer recognize the delusion at all. This does not let the men who are creating a demand for this off the hook. They should know better but have willfully convinced themselves otherwise. But how do you change the opinions delusions of the willfully ignorant? In my experience this is an epically difficult if not impossible task. IBTP

  19. yttik

    I was recently stuck watching cold case files or some such horrendous show about dozens of murdered women. One thing that really gets me is the indoctrination that women are victims, weak, vulnerable. It’s true that it really is open season on women, but all these shows never tell you about the ones who fought back and won. It’s like a secret. You have to Google your fingers to the bone just to find a woman in the news who managed to fight back successfully. I have a 72 yr old neighbor who whacked a would be rapist upside the head with a block of cheese and managed to cold cock him on her kitchen tile. When the police arrived she was promptly put in handcuffs because they assumed she was the primary aggressor. It was an outrageous thing to do to her, this guy was a total stranger who broke into her home, but she wears it with pride. She’s absolutely delighted to have been viewed as the more dangerous one.

    Twisty mentioned “helpless damsels and male valor.” I find that to be one of the cruelest aspects of the patriarchy. The women I know are not helpless damsels waiting for a rescue that never comes. And as my neighbor learned, when the calvary eventually does show up, they generally view you as the criminal anyway.

  20. AntiLoquax

    It’s not just speculation. Trafficked women are appealing to the many millions of their consumers precisely because the women don’t want to be there. Men will pay more for them. It increases their rape-value. This is the proof that this is about power fetishization, not just desire for sex.

  21. liberality

    Men are trained to be all about aggression and dominance. Therefore, it is no surprise when that is how the majority of them act. That is why we are looking at the end of the Earth–and all life on the planet. Unless we women start and win a revolution that is how it will all end. Greed and aggression in men = polluting, raping, and killing this Earth. Of course all this is so obvious and IBTP.

  22. Pinko Punko

    I am afraid TF needs to be busted on something she Twitted:

    “Words I’ve misused all my life dept: “Capitol” = edifice in DC only, not all state capitals, or “The Nose Job Capital of the World.” Yeesh.”

    Capitol with a capital C is the building in DC. Lower-case capitol is a building where a legislature meets, such as a State capitol. A State Capitol can also be capitalized because it is a proper noun, i.e. the Texas State Capitol in Austin. A capital city is the location of the govt. such as a Federal one or a State one, so sadly, you’ve likely been using the word correctly, although you’ve thrown the world a curve with a faulty definition. Also, I’ve just blown up the possibility of being on Twitter- more than 139 characters!

    #ibtp

  23. orlando

    And if a woman has been prostituted because her husband or father sold her? I guess no one wants to hear that story.

  24. Sabayon

    “A murder of spinster aunts could charter a yacht, order a vat of guac and a barrel of margs, and ruminate on the Lido Deck all day long, but we’d never come up with a more formulaical Chivalric plot than that.”

    Perhaps not, but I suggest we try anyhow. This calling as a spinster aunt is serious business and if I if it requires to eat guacamole and drink margaritas with the blametariat that is a sacrifice I am willing to make.

    @CitizenJane,

    A reasonably feminist (if short) documentary on sex work/ traffic can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TQydMMjbL5o
    Apparently in Sweden they prosecute Johns and pimps but leave actually try to help sex workers, in case you needed more evidence that Sweden is a wondrous magical place. Apparently they feel that paying women to rape them is wrong, but trying to survive is not wrong.

  25. TheBellWitch

    Pantsuit Sally: Dollars to doughnuts it was CNBC’s “Dirty Money: the business of high-end prostitution.” If you’re looking for a quick helping of disgust, google it. The show has its very own homepage, complete with HOTT pornified naked-lady-in-heels imagery. I had the misfortune of seeing the whole show, and it’s exactly what Twisty is talking about in her post, made worse by CNBC’s hyper-capitalistic bent. The whole thing basically boiled down to the reporter gaping and exclaiming, “It cost HOW MUCH??” The women might have been expensive jewelry or particularly snazzy cars for all CNBC cared.

  26. slythwolf

    Why is it that women’s oppression is only important when some specific dude’s property is at stake? Oh wait, I remember. If we were important for our own sake, that would mean we were human, and clearly that’s not the case.

    They go “The end is near, near, near.”

    Coo, do they? I never noticed. There are a lot of them around here, usually found sitting on nests they have built on telephone lines which have since blown into the middle of the street. Mourning doves are the official Michigan bird of peace, so naturally in one of the more recent elections a bunch of douchebags tried to get a law passed to be able to shoot them. I guess the other 57* things you can already shoot in Michigan weren’t enough.

    *This is an estimate.

  27. hellonhairylegs

    So documentaries about trafficked women encourage their exploitation (albeit implicitly)? *headdesk*

    This is why we need a revolution, because even if feminists somehow draw attentioned to violence against women it is pornified or turned into a violation of male pride. There are so many layers of misogyny that breaking through one is just playing into another.

  28. Irlandese

    Thank you, Twisty. I watched that show last night and was pissed off within 30 seconds; I just couldn’t quite put my finger on what pissed me off the most. It was the lurid titillation factor they were going for, not the real human suffering these women endure. It was, indeed, pornification.

  29. Lindsey

    @ambivalent academic: are they willfully ignorant or barely suppressing their hatred and desire to hurt women? They know it’s not socially acceptable to physically hurt the women in their homes and public places (though that doesn’t always stop them) so they pay to hurt rape slaves.

  30. soopermouse

    15 years ago it was “Romanian women”. I saw it happen to my highschool friends, to girls I worked with, to a lot of girls my age.
    The scenario went like this:

    white old businessman from western “civilised” country buys the small town’s only factory to close it down because it competes with his own product. Everybody gets fired.

    Someone comes along and offers these pretty girls a job as a “housekeepr” or “maid” in X western european country. What are they to do? take the offer, get put on the bus, and whnethey get to the destination they find out that the housekeeping job is in a brothel If they don’t comply they are imprisoned in squalor,beaten, raped and hurt until they agree to “serve” 50 to 100 men a day.

    So, while poverty does play a role in it, nobody asks who are these men? If the demand for paid for rape wasn’t there, the supply wouldn’t be there either, say my economics studies.

    Funny how that goes.

  31. Felicity

    I’m with ambivalent academic, but come from it from a different angle. I agree the men are ignorant in prostitution… if you’ve ever delved researching into that ‘world’ the men make themselves out to be the victims. They’re poor little victimised souls who just want a nice time raping somebody. And if the trafficked victim doesn’t smile and make them feel special they’ll make them feel guilty, telling the person imprisoning them.

    The girls in trafficking are definitely made out to be the ones who are doing something wrong with poor fragile men’s egos. They have standards to reach via ‘punternet’ and embarassing, disgusting reports. If the girl didn’t completely look like she was enjoying being raped, the client files a report against her. Thus it becomes clear this male ignorance and delusion is an attempt to make himself look less the monster. It’s no genuine delusion, it’s affected from insecurity and from hatred of females.

  32. WindInHerTeeth

    The fact that there is never any focus on the perpetrators strictly in cases of rape and prostitution has really been shocking me in a whole new way lately. It is a form of Dark Ages mentality, not giving a face or personality to the perps ever, even in cases of outright kidnapping (or woman-napping), where you’ll be hard-pressed to come up with a way to blame the victim. (“Well, she was POOR, she was asking for it!”)

    For this reason, I have to say I can appreciate a certain angle of what Chris Hansen with Dateline does–using hidden cameras to show us these men’s faces, their behaviors, and all in their full glory. We, as the viewing public, get to see (and watch them be humiliated and busted) who these men are, what they look like, act like, and it takes that creepy dark power away from the Unknown Rapist Face. The patriarchy has handed out those masks for too long to all men for rape. I wish a documentarian would apply this to trafficking johns and pimps, and leave the poor trafficked kids and women alone already. Haven’t they gone through enough? Do they really want their horrible story told to the world with their face attached?

  33. CassieC

    @soopermouse

    you bring up a good point. The men who do the raping have to be discussed openly, AND the police in the countries to which these women are trafficked. Because it is all but impossible to get a prosecution of the brothel owners or a rehabilitation program for the trafficked women. If the women escape and make complaints, they get sent back to their original country with nothing, or they get given back to the brothels. The police are often collaborators of the traffickers.

    One movie that treated this topic a bit better, I thought, was “Eastern promises” with Viggo Mortensen. A central character is a dead sex slave, the “savior” is female, and Viggo’s character is shown knowingly raping one of the women as part of some sick proof of male bonding/dominance. And the whole point of the movie is that the guys who do this stuff look just like normal family guys on the outside, but are capable of being horrible monsters in other contexts.

  34. tinfoil hattie

    capitol = the building. It has an “o” as in “dome.”

    That’s how one of my teachers explained it, and it took.

    As for the Rapiarchy, I am so tired of living in it. I am so tired of being steeped in it. I am so tired of trying to fight it. The fight gets harder and the conditions get worse and worse.

    So I now come here for the solace – beautiful photos, discussions of maggots and death, descriptions of the Texas hill country. I too seek solace in nature, and there’s not much “nature” left in the DC area. It’s being stripped, tree by tree, to build more highway lanes, now that the big ugly houses are all standing empty.

    I love mourning doves. They’re beautiful, soothing, peaceful, zen-like birds. So of course men want to shoot them.

  35. Spiders

    Twisty and Twitter. Really?

  36. Fanny

    There is a good film with Andrea Dworkin that may or may not be called Pornography. Has anyone seen it? I remember it being very good on the topic of women in pornography (which is just one facet of trafficking) but I haven’t seen it for about six years now.

  37. Pantsuit Sally

    TheBellWitch: Yes! It was “Dirty Money”. The program kept showing footage of the reporter sitting down in front of a computer, googling escorts, and exclaiming, “It’s as easy as ordering a pizza!” when hundreds of results popped up. (Which makes me wonder, if it’s so easy to find these high-end prostitution rings, why do the police focus all their efforts on stings to catch poor teenagers offering their services for a song on Craigslist? It seems to me that those are the women who most likely did not “choose” prostitution, but who have to do it simply to survive or may have been forced into it at a young age. What good does it do to arrest them, lock them up for a few nights, and then release them back onto the streets with a criminal record?)

    The fetishization of eastern European women from formerly communist countries is sickening. I think it’s similar to the attitude toward Asian women- when men talk about how extraordinarily beautiful they are, it’s usually followed up with something about how they’re submissive, attentive, and they know how to treat a man, unlike those uppity American women, who seem to think they’re human beings or something. I’ve heard a lot of stories about mail order brides from eastern Europe who were beaten or killed by their husbands once they came to the U.S. and it turned out they didn’t live up to the assholes’ disgusting fantasies.

  38. soopermouse

    It always bewildered me that prostitution was considered a choice for a woman who had fallen into poverty but never for a male ( unless the male is gay, but there are other powerplays there).
    The fact that it is never REALLY a choice seemed to ellude a lot of people. And if I hear one more person sayign that “it is her choice to prostitute herself and thus the choice is valid” I am going to stab them repeatedly with a pair of scissors.

    There is no choice for the oppressed.

  39. Marilyn

    Love the nature stuff, Twisty. I’m a birder, too, and envy the great birding Texans have.

    Also love this post. I wonder if I might have your permission to post it on my site? Please let me know at ferdyonfilms@comcast.net.

  40. Twisty

    Marilyn, post away. My re-post policy can be found in the sidebar.

  41. Marie

    Love the blog, Ywisty! Unfortunately, you are right on as usual.

  42. manifestadestiny

    They turn a crime into a nature show, giving us all an outsider’s train on the victims and thereby dehumanizing them. They are further victimizing the enslaved by taking their cut.

    Your witty barbs do cleanse me of frustration, Twisty. Hearing your voice in this sea of degradation doth keep me sane. Also do I diggeth how you taketh no shit. I aspire to your heights of blaming. Until then, I continue to read the proud works of the blaming wavers and expand my aura of enlightenment.

  43. Marilyn

    Thanks, Twisty. It’s up.

  44. Liz

    So … spinster aunts are like crows? I had no idea.

  45. birkwearingblamer

    Remember the case in which the pretty Russian mail-order bride married the rich, old, white dude then murdered him? The media loved that one. The evil, scheming woman killing the poor unsuspecting man who only was searching for “love.” AUGHHH!!!!!

  46. Jezebella

    The mourning doves of Buttcrack, Mississippi have a terrible habit of walking around in the middle of the street. I think they’re trying to kill me by making me swerve into a phone pole.

  47. Lara

    Are there any feminist documentaries on this subject or ones like it? Or perhaps semi-fictional movies?

    Citizen Jane, there is a documentary called “Very Young Girls” by a feminist-minded woman. I haven’t seen it myself, and I am sure it has a few of its own flaws, but I doubt it’ll have that leering, exploitative, and voyeuristic feel that “Sex Slaves” or other male-made prostitution documentaries have.
    Also, there’s a documentary called “Born Into Brothels”. Here:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Born_into_Brothels

    The director and cinematographer, Zana Briski, is originally a photographer. I remember reading an interview once where Briski states that most documentaries or films about prostitution take on a male-centered, voyeuristic perspective, and that she wanted to break that trend as a female photographer/cinematographer communicating with these Calcutta prostitutes and their children.
    Soopermouse, if you stabbed all exploitation-loving misogyny-apologists with scissors you’d need many pairs of scissors and lots of kleenex.

  48. denelian

    yttik -

    i saw the coolest thing just today.
    i have been watching “Dollhouse”
    for those who don’t watch it, here is the basic plot.
    there is a corporation that has developed a technology that allows them to erase and store people’s personalties, and then create new ones and temporarily implant these new personalities (with skill sets – like the “spy” who has lots of martial arts, etc). the show essentially follows one of the branches of the corporation in LA, called (of course) The Dollhouse, and the efforts of one FBI agent (Paul Ballard, played by the guy who plays Helo on BSG) to find and expose the Dollhouse, so he can “rescue” a missing woman named Caroline.
    Except all the “Dolls” are *volunteers*. on the other hand, they are still essentially slaves for the 5 years that they are contracted for… and the show does a really damned good job of exploring the ethics involved in this sort of enterprise – the “Dolls” HAVE “volunteered”, but in every case we see of a person actually volunteering, there was an element of cohersion (i.e., volunteer and we will fix this big problem you have – like the grad student/researcher who accidently killed his lab partner while trying to commit industrial espionage for a new drug that they had discovered. the deal that was made there is that the guy turned over the formula for the new drug, became a “Doll” for 5 years, and the death of his lab partner would be found as an “accidental” death and his mother would recieve a “paycheck” for him every month while he was a Doll)

    i would really, *really*, *REALLY* love to find a good feminist discussion of this show (hint, Twisty, if you think you can watch it ;)

    but, yttik, i thought you would be especially interested by last night’s episode.
    there is a *crazy* Doll (they are about 50/50 male/female, BTW) named Alpha who escaped from the Dollhouse about a year ago – after going on a giant killing spree.
    turns out he was part of the *first* batch of Dolls, and the first batch was made up of prisoners, who got their sentences lowered to the 5 years they acted as Dolls.
    and the history of Alpha? he was in jail for kidnapping and attempted murder. why was he in jail and it only an ATTEMPTED murder?
    because (as the cast VERY DISTINCTLY points out MULTIPLE times) the WOMAN RESCUED HERSELF and helped the police FIND ALPHA!

    and, of course, the main Doll who is followed is Echo (played by the actress who played Faith in “Buffy” and Tru in “True Calling”, Eliza Dushku if i spelled it correctly) repeatedly kicks ass. so do all the *other* women. especially the head boss lady. (DeWitt)

    the show is very popular around here (Ohio State University) and it amuses the holy hell out of me to hear students a decade or more younger than me call women who do something exceptionally well an “Echo”. sometimes, it’s used in a derogatory way by a guy who is pissed that a woman beat him at something (what, you got a higher score, you think that you’re an Echo now?”) but mostly i am hearing “You rock, You’re an Echo” or “Keep being Echo!”

    woman saves herself. i think that’s my favorite storyline.

  49. felicity

    Eliza Dushku was in Wrong Turn and saved the guy as well as herself. She’s not really ‘submissive turned sexy warrior’ as in most where the female victim comes out on top. She’s just human in the role, herself.

  50. denelian

    yes, felicity, i remmeber that now, too.

    Eliza Dushku gets *all* the good roles!

  51. soopermouse

    Some 8 years ago, when I lived in Germany, I lived for a while in a flat on the top floor of a building whose ground and first floor was a brothel. Since my flat was the only one who had a bathtub, most of the girls ended up coming to me when they needed a bath – their rooms only had showers.
    I remember when one of them died of OD. Most of the others envied her.
    I KNOW from what I have seen there that no woman chooses prostitution out of free choice. There is no such thing. Only desperation, fear and in a lot of cases, pure force.

    I hate people.

    I also think a lot of people (males) are OK with prostitution because although they might not be using it, they want to know the choice to pay to rape someone is there for them, should they fancy it.

  52. Dicey Venison

    It is apparent that the underlying idea is that it is somehow “normal” for men to create a demand for the “pay-for-rape” culture of prostitution.
    And it’s the trafficked women’s fault for arriving at that situation.
    “Boys will be boys”.
    It’s sickening.
    But that’s why these men’s modus operandi is never investigated.
    It’s the default norm.
    I saw the film, “Lilja 4-Ever”, when it came out.
    It is really difficult to watch, especially during the scenes when Lilja is being raped, and the film depicts this from her point of view.
    What really astonishes me is the fact that universally, across all cultures on Earth, there is the concept that a woman is not her own sovereign person.
    Always, she must “belong” to a man, whether her father, brother, or husband.
    Her own person-hood is irrelevant.
    It is so deeply embedded in the human psyche that it goes on as though invisible.
    Thank you, Twisty and all of you contributors, for bringing to light this glaring flaw, and more—having the courage and intelligence to get to the root of it and work toward eradicating it.

  53. PandanCat

    Grarrr! This makes me think of the time I sent a letter into the newspaper — the Bangkok Post, no less. The Outlook section, one day, featured a story about a Thai academic/activist’s work on trafficked women in Germany. In the same edition, they published a letter from a whiny white boy about how The Man is always trying to stop people from enjoying little vices like alcohol, prostitutes and gambling. I sent them a furious but brief and well-written email linking the two. There wouldn’t be (as many?) trafficked Thai women in Germany if raping enslaved women was considered more than innocent fun!

    So what did I see in the letters to the editor page the next day? Whiny white boys carping about not getting their favorite cable stations in Chiang Mai. Heaven forbid that the Bangkok Post should publish a rant by the kind of emasculating feminist most whiny white boys here are trying to avoid.

    (Alas, I discovered that even my new town has a strip of brothels. Way out in the boonies, donchaknow, so that the religious people don’t have to acknowledge that it exists. For all of the above reasons, IBTP.)

  54. Twisty

    I should point out that “Sex Slaves” was co-produced by a woman.

  55. Absotively

    denelian – Sady at Tiger Beatdown wrote a great post on Dollhouse recently.

  56. denelian

    Absotively –
    that link appears to be broked… i am on the Tiger Beatdown (great site btw! thanks for pointing it out!) and i am sloshing though the posts, looking for this one.
    if you see this in the not-too-distant-future, though, could you try to link it again? there are many, many posts there, and while i would love to read *all* of them, i don’t have a lot of free time until after memorial day…
    thanks again!

  57. Shukriyya

    Here’s the link, denelian: http://tigerbeatdown.blogspot.com/2009/04/dollhouse-joss-whedon-and-strange-and.html

  58. denelian

    thank you!

  59. Felicity

    This is the best video about trafficking I’ve seen:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2009/dec/18/journey-emma-thompson

    Honestly, it’s not for the faint hearted.

  1. Ferdy on Films

    [...] article has been reproduced from I Blame the Patriarchy under a Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial [...]

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