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Much has been said, and rightly so, about Katniss Everdeen and the way she challenges a lot of traditional narratives about girls. She carries a bow, she fights, she kills, she survives, she’s emotionally unavailable, she’d rather act than talk, and … did we mention she kills?
But one of the most unusual things about Katniss isn’t the way she defies typical gender roles for heroines, but the way Peeta, her arena partner and one of her two love interests, defies typical Hollywood versions of gender roles for boyfriends.
Consider the evidence: Peeta’s family runs a bakery. He can literally bake a cherry pie, as theold song says.
He is physically tough, but markedly less so than she is. He’s got a good firm spine, but he lacks her disconnected approach to killing. Over and over, she finds herself screaming “PEETA!”, not calling for help but going to help, and then running, because he’s gone and done some damn fool thing like gotten himself electrocuted.
Her larger mission — her war against the Capitol — often drifts out of focus behind her smaller, more immediate mission: saving Peeta. She lets others know that if it’s down to the two of them, he should be saved because of his goodness. She is unsurprised when she’s told she doesn’t deserve him.
He encourages her to talk about her feelings. He encourages her to share herself with others. He promises her, falsely but selflessly, that her indifference doesn’t hurt him and she owes him nothing. If she ever wants to come to her senses, come down from those fences, he’ll be there.
He’s better than she is, but softer. He’s less knowing than she is. He’s less cynical than she is. He’s just as tough and as brave as he can possibly be with the skill set he has, and she’s responsible for mopping up when that’s not enough. To fail to protect him is to betray her, because that may well be the only job she gives you.
She kisses him sometimes, but she keeps him on a need-to-know basis, and she decides what he needs to know.
He loves her as she is, while knowing he’ll never change her and parts of her will always be mysterious and out of reach.
Don’t get me wrong: In real life, we all know couples of all gender alignments who operate in this way and in lots of other ways, whether they’re male-female or two guys or two women or whatever; there’s absolutely nothing about baking, physical strength, or emotional accessibility that is inherently gendered in real life for real humans with any consistency. But the movies, or at least the big movies, are different. Going by the traditional Hollywood rules, make no mistake: Peeta is a Movie Girlfriend.
Peeta is Pepper Potts and Gwen Stacy, helping and helping and helping until the very end, when it’s time for the stakes, and the stakes are: NEEDS RESCUE. Peeta is Annie in Speed, who drives that bus like a champ right up until she winds up handcuffed to a pole covered with explosives. Peeta is Holly in Die Hard, who holds down the fort against the terrorists until John McClane can come and find her (and she can give back her maiden name).
In fact, you could argue that Katniss’ conflict between Peeta and Gale is effectively a choice between a traditional Movie Girlfriend and a traditional Movie Boyfriend. Gale, after all, is the one whose bed she winds up steadfastly sitting beside after she helps bind his wounds. Gale explains the revolution to her. She puts up a plan to run; Gale rebuffs it because he presumes himself to know better. Gale is jealous and brooding about his standing with her; Peeta is just sad and contemplative.
Gale works in the mines, not in a bakery. He’s a hunter. He grabs her and kisses her because he simply must. He’s taller. (Real talk: HE’S THOR’S BROTHER.)
There’s more to the unusual gender dynamics in these stories, in other words — particularly, I think, in the films — than the idea of a girl who fights. There’s also a rather delightful mishing and mashing of the ideas of what’s expected from young men in movies where everybody is running around shooting and bleeding. (via NPR)"
Between the BDSM tumblrites whining about how the bottom is obligated to speak up in order to prevent rape, and the people arguing that porn is all good fun and can be reblogged endlessly without further thought, it’s probably a damn good idea to get really hardcore about taking some goddamn ownership of your ability to sexually exploit people.
I remember a tumblr I user to follow that regularly posted nudes. One day, they posted an image of someone who looked very, very young. I would personally not have guessed her to be much older than 14. It was not overtly pornographic, but it most certainly was not an artistic nude, either. The people who ran the blog got some angry asks about that image, and dismissed it all with comments about how some grown women just look really young, okay, and someone submitted it to them and they clearly state that contributors should only submit images of people over 18, so they’re totally not responsible anyway, and that apparently included engaging in any critical thought before posting. I stopped following them after that, but it continues to bother me that I did not protest more.
I know the old, tired arguments - “women who look really young are sexual beings too, and we can’t deny them representation!” (I would argue that there’s still some fairly obvious differences between a grown woman who happens to have small breasts and narrow hips and someone in the early stages of puberty, but that’s beyond the point.) It’s laziness. If you cannot personally confirm that the person in the image is in fact an adult, what is so fucking hard about refusing to repost it? What is so fucking hard about accepting that, hey, I know a lot of ostensibly hilarious porn is created under exploitative conditions with the intent of humiliating the women involved, so if don’t know the background to a given image, I shouldn’t just shrug and hope that the people depicted don’t mind being used as a joke? What is so hard about accepting that your personal kink is not so sacred that you can’t let legitimate critique of how it enables rape and abuse go by without freaking out about how you’re being oppressed?
Rape culture has benefited enormously by appropriating concepts like body positivity and kink positivity and sex positivity and using them as way to shut down criticism. Every time I write something like this, I have to fight the urge to describe what a sex-loving, kinky girl I am, because I know that critiquing this shit will lead to attacks on my own sexuality. We are terrified of being mistaken for prudes, because to be a prude is to be judged as naive, backwards and broken, and is also viewed an invitation for sexual aggression. What is the major reason give for demonizing the entirety of second-wave feminism, after all? Those uptight old bitches hated sex! There’s a lot of critique of the second wave on Tumblr that includes throwaway references to transphobia in the movement, but this is seldom followed up with any nuanced critiques or understanding of transphobia today. Contrast that with the eagerness of many self-described feminists to assure us that they’re not ugly, hairy, lesbian misandrists who hate porn and sexy pictures. The first rule of internet feminism is to make sure no one besides certain right wing caricatures hates you.
Ending rape culture is not possible if we refuse to do things, or stop doing things, that may get us labeled as oversensitive, sex negative, or slut-shaming by people who have a vested interest in ignoring possible exploitation of others. This does not mean that one should engage in attacking or silencing sex workers or sexually active people; the goal is ultimately ensuring the safety of vulnerable parties. This may require you to feel uncomfortable about things you have uncritically accepted as sexually attractive. It may require you to stop supporting people and blogs that you otherwise like. It may require you to step back and question whether what you are doing is actually harmless fun and not abusive. It’s not fun. You’ll get a lot of shit for it. However, taking responsibility for resisting these little exploitations, even the ambiguous ones, is a huge part of fighting rape culture and restoring power to those who have been abused by it. There is no benefit in fighting for your right to passively consume the exploitation of others.
What do you call a man who is short, speaks in rhymes, and is able to spin straw into gold?
No really I’m not joking here, he’s coming for my firstborn in three days and I need to figure out his name.
Actually that’s a really good question because Rumpelstiltskin is one of those stories that turn up in many different parts of the world.
The name that I’m most familiar with is Tittelintuure, but we also have Grigrigredinmenufretin, Tremotino, Ootzly-Gootzly, Joaidane, Pancimanci, Cvilidreta, Daiku to Oniroku, Khlamushka and Ruidoquedito. [x] So which is the right one? Depends on where you are and where he’s from, I’d say.
Bras from times past are strange and sometimes slightly unsettling.
Accomplishment of the day: I changed the disgusting empty toilet freshener for a new fresh one.
(Don’t laugh, it really is a big deal! I had to touch the inside of the toilet. Bleurgh.)
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