The problem is subtlety. The problem is “how far we’ve come.” The problem is enlightenment. The problem is a society that congratulates itself on the freedom and equality all face when compared to how it was, when compared to where it is elsewhere. This is the problem.
The problem is that Candy Crowley and Poppy Harlow did not even think about the implications of their words because on the face of things, without 20/20 criticism, there seemed to be no issue with their words. It seemed to be the natural way to frame the story, given that the victim is protected and anonymous.
The problem is using the advancements we have made as a culture (as in, allowing rape victims to remain anonymous) to facilitate a step backward in the name of ease. CNN focused on the “only” angle of the story they were given, they maybe didn’t have the money or the staff to flesh out the story in a way that would have caused an emotional response in the audience without falling to the “these poor boys’ lives are ruined” line as the boys break down into tears about their ruined lives. Their own lives that they ruined. Not like the girl’s life thatthey also ruined. The problem is that how dare people like me assume her life was ruined? We don’t know her. You have a friend who has a friend who didn’t consent to something like that and they don’t even think about it. The problem is you thinking I’m ruining her (anonymous) life by “drawing it out.”
So, where’s the line? Where’s the line between protecting victims and letting them move on, and calling for the rational and equal treatment of women as a set of human beings? Are they on separate sides of the equation? The problem is, as much as you are reading this blog right now, there are millions of people who watched CNN and since there was nothing blatantly, glaringly wrong with their coverage, some of these people don’t really think about it at all. Some process it peripherally, and the words, the scenes, they sink in unconsciously. They permeate, if even for a short time, our view of the matter. The problem is many viewers of that coverage were not outraged, and as such, ingested those messages as legitimate, tossing them aside into the abyss of thousands of other messages received that day. The problem is those messages stick around because of their quietness, of their unobtrusive nature.
The problem is subtlety.
In a society which congratulates itself on how far it has come, on how much obvious recognition we (spokenly, if not in action) give these problems, the problem is that a news organization thinks there are any acceptable reasons to sympathize with someone who raped someone else. The problem is deeper even than that. It’s that the news organizations didn’t think at all.
The problem is that our resting point as a society still doesn’t question these innate assumptions about rape victims, oppressed peoples and women. It doesn’t question them because it thinks we’ve overcome them. And if you’re above something, you don’t have to think about it anymore. It’s not you. It’s not what you are doing or what you think. Only it is.
The problem is we think we’ve solved a problem when we haven’t.
And the polarization that occurs out of that includes people arguing that we should “lighten up,” or “enjoy entertainment for what it’s worth.”
The problem is the people who say that think they are not effected by the messages. The problem is they are not effected bythose messages.
They are effected by a layering process that starts when we’re just old enough to take in our immediate world around us, where dominant ideologies persist, no longer through force, or through blatant acts of coercion but through a more modern, more subtle, more intricate path to our brains.
The problem is we can never attack this modern sexism because we never think about it. Because we think we’re more sophisticated than that. It doesn’t apply to us.
“I can watch a scary movie, mom, it won’t scare me. I know better.”
The problem is this isn’t a scary fucking movie. This is real life.