A Letter from Morehouse SafeSpace President Marcus Lee UPDATED

by Marcus Lee

Thank you for writing this poignant blog about your experience. I’m the President of Morehouse SafeSpace—Morehouse’s Alliance for Gender and Sexual Diversities—and these issues are ones we grapple with frequently.

Our situation is a complex and peculiar one. I’m proud to say that many of us (students & alum) have committed to loving ourselves/each other regardless of—and in some instances because of—our differences. Moreover, there are many faculty and staff members—including the President of the college, the Office of Student Life, several professors, etc.—that embrace us. However, Morehouse’s curricula, institutional policies and procedures do not reflect this embrace. There are no Black queer studies courses, gender and sexual orientation are absent from our employment nondiscrimination policy, we have a dress code that outlaws wearing ‘female attire,’ we have an inactive diversity committee, and the list continues. So, I don’t think the football team’s reactions are inherent to them specifically. Instead, they are a product of a grooming process—that begins in the world, and is buttressed or goes uninterrupted at Morehouse—that’s checkered with heteronormativity and silence; inclusive spaces are forged here in spite of, not because of, the culture of the college.

To be sure, Morehouse will respond to this issue—many of us (students and alum) have reached out to the President and the VP of Student Affairs and they’ve responded with disappointment and noted that the football team will be engaging in dialogue about this soon. And, when asked about an institutional commitment to diversity, the VP noted that it’s also coming soon.

I hope this is true. Issues like these cannot and should not be dealt with discreetly. This is a systemic issue that permeates campus no matter how friendly and encouraging a few administrative folks are toward us. In short, I implore anyone who is concerned to ask, not what will happen with the football team particularly, but what will be installed to permanently mitigate homophobia on campus. That’s the key.

Thanks again,

Marcus Lee

EDITED TO ADD:

So many folks have reached out about the “Dear White People” blog and I’m so thankful for your support. I haven’t been able to offer detailed responses to folks asking about our needs because I’m still a student with A LOT of work to do, applications to complete, etc. But, I wanted to write a short post advising folks on what support for us looks like in this moment.

Things that don’t help:

- [Erroneously] saying that Morehouse is a school full of girls (which is somehow supposed to elucidate the irony of the situation; but, in reality only implies that there is something wrong with being a “girl” [gay] and reinforces homophobia.)

- Opportunistically reaching out to us to be flown down for a panel, a meeting, etc. without actually having any real concern about or knowledge of Morehouse’s history with diversity–i.e. our setbacks and triumphs.

- Castigating the actions of the football team without asking questions about what Morehouse is or is not doing institutionally to interrupt homophobia [thereby, allowing for the possibility that the football team may be used as a scapegoat to avoid dealing with institutional issues].

- Suggesting that homophobia among those men–some of whom are my friends–was inevitable [thereby, perpetuating the myth of Black “super-homophobia” (as opposed to white “gentle-homophobia”?)]

Things that do help:

- Reaching out to the Dean of Social Sciences and Humanities and asking her how many of the several open positions in the social science departments will be filled by scholars who study sexuality and gender–more specifically, scholars who label their work “Black/Queer/Feminist” [be sure that the word “Black” is included somewhere in that label.]

- Reach out to the President of the college and the VP of Student Affairs to ask which campus-wide programs are happening in order to mitigate homophobia.

- Ask the VP who is on the Diversity Committee, how often they meet, and what they have done for the campus

- Reach out to the Provost of the college to ask which part of the general education curriculum includes a necessary, thoroughgoing engagement with Black/Queer/Feminist work. Then, ask which texts are being read.

- Ask when the LGBT diversity competence training happens on campus and how many faculty and staff members show up.

- Reach out to General Counsel and ask how long it will take for gender identity and sexual orientation to be added to the employment non discrimination policy and the student non-discrimination policy.

- Reach out to the President and ask that the “Appropriate Attire Policy” be abolished.

- And the list continues.

I hope this helps!

How the Morehouse Football Team ruined Dear White People and proved its point

dear white people

Response from Morehouse SafeSpace president here.

As a filmmaker, intersectional scholar, and a huge fan and supporter of the original trailer and campaign for “Dear White People,” I was ecstatic to be able to go see the film here in Columbia, SC.  The film itself didn’t disappoint.  Clearly influenced by Wes Anderson in cinematography, but wholly unique in tone, it was a brilliantly funny, biting, and moving film.  The acting, the directing, the cinematography were all superb, even before you take into account the origin story and budget of the film.  The experience of seeing the film, however, was incredibly unpleasant.  Spoilers ahead.

Just as the trailers were ending and the movie starting, a hundred people started pouring into the theater.  This was the Morehouse College Football Team, here in Columbia to play Benedict College tomorrow.  Morehouse is an all-male historically black college in Atlanta not too far from my own undergraduate institution of Emory.  It is the alma mater of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  As the movie started, I was excited that this many people were in the theater to see the movie.  It was a short-lived excitement.

There are three main plots in “Dear White People,” and one of them focuses on a black gay kid named Lionel, played by “Everybody Hates Chris” star Tyler James Williams, who doesn’t fit in with any group — not with gay kids, not with white kids, and not with black kids, who have historically treated him with homophobia and cruelty.  His story is about the toxic effect of homophobia in the black community.  In addition to the heterosexual romances involving all the other characters, there is also a budding romance between Lionel and another man.  The initial hints at this romance did not win the Morehouse College Football Team’s approval.  They started saying homophobic things every time Lionel was onscreen.  When Lionel had a same-sex kiss, the team went into a frenzy — everyone turned on their phones and said they weren’t looking, they started yelling, “What kind of movie is this?”  Several of them walked out, others started yelling at anyone on their team for looking at the screen when the kiss happened, “Man, you looked at that, I saw you!”  “What is this gay shit?”  “Some of y’all didn’t turn your heads away!”

It was nauseating.  But it got worse.

Lionel has a major heroic moment toward the end of the film in which he breaks up a racist party being held by an entitled white jerk, who is, more or less, the antagonist of the film, and who verbally and sexually harassed Lionel over his sexuality throughout the film.  The racist white guy tackles Lionel and pins him down.  In retaliation, Lionel kisses him (this freaked out the audience again), but the racist white guy responds by punching Lionel repeatedly in the face.

They cheered.  This room full of black men who attend Dr. King’s alma mater.  They cheered for the racist white guy because the black man he was being allowed to beat without repercussion was a faggot.

When the beating stopped, the Morehouse player behind me said that the white guy should have kept hitting him because that’s what he got for being gay.

I want you to imagine yourself in a dark room with a hundred physically fit men rooting for a hate crime to be perpetrated against a gay man.  It was terrifying.  It was horrifying.  It was depressing.  Can you imagine what a kid on that team who was gay would have felt?

When the film was over, it was all the men of Morehouse could talk about.  Who hadn’t closed their eyes and looked away when there was gay kissing?  One player said of Tyler James Williams, “Man, I must’ve watched every episode of ‘Everybody Hates Chris’ back in the day.  Can’t believe he’d go out like that.  Shit kills me.”

I don’t know if Morehouse College offers LGBT sensitivity training, but it should have someone come speak to the football team.  Even if you don’t approve of homosexuality, to come to a city as a football team, representing your college and your hometown, and to spit hate and vitriol in a room that includes other people, including LGBT people — it is not OK.  What kind of school sends out ambassadors of hate?  Can it be the same one that sent out Dr. King?  Hewing to the stereotype of black homophobia makes Morehouse and the black community weaker, and there are real victims.  Lionel may be fictional, but his treatment was not.  It’s a shame that “Dear White People”‘s message of acceptance didn’t reach everyone in the room.

EDITED TO ADD: Raynard Ware, a member of the Morehouse Football Team who was there last night offered this comment below, and I thought I should highlight it:

As a student and football player for the Maroon Tigers, I was disturb by the reaction of my teammates during certain scenes of the movie. The remarks and outbursts were upright embarrassing and prejudice. I am big on reputation and presentation. However, this is not a true reputation of our institution. We are sincerely apologetic that the loud embarrassing remarks were heard and not the intellectual discussion, which we also engaged in after the movie. Sorry to give off such a poor perception to the public eye, we ARE apologetic.

Thank you for bringing this to our attention, some of my teammates needed to know the perception they give to people.

Richard Dawkins on Date Rape vs Stranger Rape

Richard-Dawkins-slider-14Sometimes it’s hard to remember who you’re supposed to be allies with.  Richard Dawkins and Ophelia Benson released this lovely joint statement about harassment and, in a moment of severe not surprise, Dawkins proceeded to blow up Twitter by saying something he didn’t realize was quite as wrong-headed as it was.

It started with this tweet:

OK, that is perfectly logical.  Fair. Then it moved on to this example.

OK, well, this is an odd example, but considering Dawkin’s history of abuse and the probable difference he’s referring to, groping vs penetration, I can see what he’s saying here.  It’s probably a bit more subjective than that, but I see what he’s getting at: pedophilia plus violence is worse than pedophilia without violence. And then he went off the rails and Twitter exploded.

So the only way this analogy would work is if he removed date vs stranger and said rape without a knife is bad, rape with a knife is worse.  Except it’s clear that the knife thing is just a weird addendum and what he’s saying is that stranger rape is worse than date rape.

1. Responses to abuse are pretty subjective.  Different people respond differently to being harmed in different ways.  Maybe Dawkins is saying that he’d prefer to be date raped than being raped by a stranger.  But that, of course, is not what he’s saying.  He’s saying stranger rape is objectively worse.

This would be like me saying “Being stabbed in your left arm is bad.  Being stabbed in your right arm is worse.”  I will have said this for personal reasons — I am right-handed.  There are, however, a lot of people who are left-handed or ambidextrous to whom this statement would seem absurd.  Further, it’s making the assumption that the amount of damage inflicted in either case is the same.  But Dawkins is talking psychologically, not physically.

 

2. The main reason that this blew up in his face is that the majority of rapes are acquaintance rapes, so the majority of rape victims seeing this post see it as delegitimizing.  This is happening in a society that already says that date rapes don’t count the same way that stranger rapes do.  As it turns out, acquaintance rape is just a pre-meditated and intentional as acts of stranger rape.  Even if his assertion was true, it would be perpetuating the stigma that surrounds date rape survivors and paints them, inaccurately, as overreactors or people who changed their mind about sex.

 

3. What he is saying is FACTUALLY INCORRECT.  I cannot state this more clearly.  Dawkins is absolutely wrong on the fact in this case, assuming the psychological impact of the rape is what we care about.

Victims of acquaintance rape are as traumatized as victims of stranger rape. Specifically, they report equal (and high) levels of depression, anxiety, hostility, and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms…” (http://psycnet.apa.org/psycinfo/1997-08362-004) and victims of acquaintance rape are more likely to be unable to reconcile what happened with their beliefs in the world and to blame themselves. (Researching Sexual Violence Against Women edited by Martin D. Schwartz).

So, to be clear here, he’s claiming subjective feelings as fact, contributing to the deligitimization of the majority of rape victims, and not even operating with correct facts.  And doing so just because he did a bad job trying to explain what a syllogism is.  He could so easily fix this if he would just do a little research and listen to criticism and acknowledge he said something hurtful.  I have no reason to think he will do this, as he never has before.  It’s a shame, too, there’s just no reason for a man of his intellect and commitment to science to be so unwilling to examine facts and accept criticism of bad ideas.

Find me at CONvergence and SSA East

Ashley

Picture courtesy Amy Davis Roth

Hello all

I will be speaking at both CONvergence and SSA East, and I’m getting an awful lot of stage time! This is a preview for anyone interested.

CONvergence

You can start looking out for me at about 1pm Friday at CONvergence.

FRIDAY, July 4th

5pm Paranormal Romance vs Urban Fantasy

With the popularity of paranormal romance, has romance become a fixture in most urban fantasy to a degree? What about the combo of romance, action, and magic keeps drawing readers? What’s out there for readers who want less kissing and more butt-kicking? Panelists: Ashley F. Miller, Cetius d’Raven (mod), Emma Bull, Melissa Olson, Rory Ni Coileain

7pm Coming Out Atheist

Join us to discuss what it’s like to come out as an atheist in various parts of the country, with different religious backgrounds, and the intersection for many of us with coming out in other ways, such as in sexual orientation and gender identity. Panelists: Ashley F. Miller, Heina Dadabhoy, PZ Myers, Debbie Goddard, Brianne Bilyeu

SATURDAY, July 5th

11am Evolution of Disney Princesses

They started out helpless (Snow White), and now they’re shooting arrows. What changed, and why? Panelists: Ashley F. Miller, Kathryn Sullivan, Michelle Farley, Windy Bowlsby, Madeleine Rowe, Greg Guler

SUNDAY, July 6th

9:30am Skepchick and FreethoughtBlog Readings

In room 2201

11am Protofeminists in Shakespeare

Shakespeare portrayed several intelligent, independent, and self-aware women–Juliet, Lady Macbeth, Katharine, Beatrice, Viola, Rosalind. We’ll discuss the problematic and the remarkably (for the era) fleshed-out aspects of their representation. Panelists: Elizabeth Bear, Ashley F. Miller, Greg Weisman, Joseph Erickson, Alexandra Howes

12:30pm Loving Problematic Media

Social justice doesn’t have to ruin your fun! We’ll discuss ways to be a literate fan of problematic media, from reality TV to video games, recognizing (rather than rationalizing) its problems, and still finding ways to enjoy it without getting defensive. Panelists: Rebecca Watson, Ashley F. Miller, Emily Finke, Courtney Caldwell, Amanda Marcotte

I will be leaving for the airport as soon as there are no more people with questions for me after this panel.

 

 

SSAEast

I will be at SSAEast for the entire program, I’m speaking in one of the 45 minute slots in union.

SUNDAY, July 13th

10:30am Feminism, Atheism, and Welcoming Women to Your Group

Salon and Jezebel: Honey Boo Boo and 8 reasons you should be ashamed of yourselves

Honey Boo Boo is a child, not a monsterAs you know, I spend a lot of my time with Honey Boo Boo because of my dissertation, and people often say disparaging things about the show and the weight of the family and other things.  And for the most part, I keep my cool, but occasionally, I read something that makes me incredibly angry.  I am loath to even link to this article, because it is so unfortunate, but here it is: “Honey Boo Boo is a monster: What reality TV did to the pint-size pageant queen” and the Jezebel uncritical repost: “Honey Boo Boo Has Turned Into a ‘Visibly Troubled’ Monster Child.”  (UPDATE: Since this article was posted, Salon has changed the headline to remove the world “monster.” Small victory!)

I am not, in general, a defender of Reality Television.  I find it fascinating, yes, but not always ethical.  That said, blaming ills of the world on Reality Television is ignoring the fact that the world created it in the first place.  Reality Television might reflect societal problems, but it’s very rarely the cause of them.  Unsafe workplaces, brutal contracts, and terrible pay, sure, but they don’t create societal wide poor education, poverty, or violence.

So when I see articles posted that use the word “monster” to describe a real little kid, I find it upsetting.  When those articles purport to be doing it because they care about the girl and come from sources that I generally find reasonable and feminist minded, I become slightly apoplectic.  Here are 8 reasons that the article on Salon, and Jezebel using it for hits without saying anything critical about it, were terrible.

1. Calling a little kid a monster is severely uncool.  Doing it in the headline to get hits is exploitative and uncool.

2. Calling a little kid a “monster” for having a temper tantrum because she doesn’t really like doing interviews on TV and for not wanting to give away her property is blowing things well out of proportion.

3. “The quick wit we’ve come to expect from Honey Boo Boo…” Have you ever even watched the show? The quick wit is from Mama June, Alana is just weird in a charming and amusing way.  Just because she’s in some of your favorite gifs, doesn’t mean she’s quick-witted.

4. Fallon intervening and trying to discipline Alana wasn’t ” Finally someone is addressing this child’s attitude,” it was shaming her in front of a live studio audience and assuming her mother was incapable of doing her job as a parent. Not your role, Mr. Fallon, and not something to be commended, Salon writer.

5. Wishing she had the chance to develop her creativity without television is ignoring the reality that the money and exposure and opportunities she’s been given from this show has meant far more opportunity to develop her creativity.

6. You have no reason to think that being on Reality Television has caused this in her.  She has been remarkably little changed from her first appearance on Toddlers & Tiaras to the second season of her own show.  Newsflash: Little kids can be bratty sometimes, and editors know when it’s amusing or not.  Your own article points to the fact that this is being edited, where on earth are you getting evidence that it is television’s fault?

7. Don’t you think publicly calling a child a monster in Salon is exactly the wrong thing to do if this article expresses your real feelings about her fate?  Do you really think that publicly shaming a little girl makes it look like you care how she is treated — because you’re treating her badly.  You don’t get a pass on that.

8. Finally, finally: Christy O’Shoney, I don’t think you’re a very nice person or a person who cares very much about Alana Thompson’s future. And Jezebel, you’re just as bad for uncritically repeating this article because you wanted hits.

I realize my blog is just a tiny corner of the internet, but if you’re decent people who actually care about this little girl you will 1. Change the title of your articles 2. Release an apology for being cruel to a child 3. Think twice before calling a child names in order to get hits.  Frankly, your behavior is far worse than anything Alana Thompson did on the set of Jimmy Fallon’s show.

Introduction to “Redneckaissance: Honey Boo Boo, Tumblr, and the Stereotype of Poor White Trash”

As you may have noticed I have been somewhat absent from these parts of late, because I have been working on my dissertation proposal for my study of Honey Boo Boo and Tumblr.  I have finally finished the proposal and will defend it next week, at which point I will hopefully be cleared to write the second half, which is the actual independent research.  I thought I would share with you the opening of the dissertation.  As you may have guessed, working more than full time and writing a dissertation leaves little time for blogging, but I thought I’d take advantage of my week of breathing room and the fact that I have actually written something.  Enjoy.

Mama June on a waterslide honey boo boo

“Who knew television audiences would be completely enthralled with a Southern family acting out every stereotype of “redneck” on Here Comes Honey Boo Boo…” – Alison F. Slade[1]

My first realization that Here Comes Honey Boo Boo had become a complex discursive phenomenon came with the appearance of an image from the show in my social media feeds.  In this animated image, June Shannon, the overweight matriarch of the show, careens down a water slide in her bathing suit with joy on her face.  This image became popular on Tumblr, with hundreds of reblogs, and spread elsewhere online.[2]  Most of the previous discourse I had encountered around the show was negative and focused on how “trashy” the show was, but, in my social media feeds, people praised the show for fat acceptance of “real” bodies and embraced June’s joy.  There were still negative comments about the show but they were complicated by people claiming identity with her around one of the same signifiers, her weight, that was used to mock her and call her “white trash.”

This study seeks to explore how online content creators engage with television stereotypes online.  Specifically, this study seeks to understand the ways in which online content that is created using a reality television show as source material supports, undermines, and interacts with the tropes of the white trash stereotype.  It also seeks to discover how online content creators participate in the construction of meaning using the show.

In particular, this study will examine a selection of Tumblr posts about Here Comes Honey Boo Boo for the ways in which online content creators uphold, undermine, and “play with” white trash stereotypes. The goal is to gain insight into online content creators’ participation in television culture and its use of the white trash stereotype as well as into how they use Tumblr to communicate. This research uses discourse analysis to examine the Tumblr content created with, around, and about the show Here Comes Honey Boo Boo.

In seeking to explore this phenomenon, the study addresses the following research questions: How do Tumblr users use Here Comes Honey Boo Boo in discourse explicitly and implicity about race, class, gender, sexuality, and geography?  What are these discourses?  How do these discourses adopt, negotiate, or resist common U.S. stereotypes of “white trash” and “rednecks?” How does the online audience’s role as a secondary content creator change meaning and discourse around and about the show?  Honey Boo Boo represents a unique intersection of poor, white, fat, southern, LGBT-allied, and female-dominated social actors, positioning the show along the power axes respectively of class, race, weight, geography, sexuality, and gender.  This dissertation attempts to understand Tumblr discourse about the show through the framework of intersectional theory. Intersectional theory assumes that social categories of race, class, and gender are intertwined and together constitute identity and describe power relationships. How do these axes of power interact in online discourse?  The study is an attempt to understand the online content creator’s role in creating meaning around a show that relies heavily on negative stereotypes.

Although Here Comes Honey Boo Boo debuted only two years ago, it has already been the subject of scholarly interest.  As a popular reality television show dependent on stereotypes of rural Southerners, it has offered scholars rich ground to explore those stereotypes.  Bevie Tyo examined the redneck stereotype within the show, doing a cultural value analysis of the problematic representation of the main characters and noting that the show was constructed to use those stereotypes for entertainment.[3]  Similarly, Ariel Miller did a quantitative content analysis of the show, alongside Duck Dynasty and Buckwild, to explore the construction of Southern identity on reality television and the frequency with which the shows used stereotypes.[4]  Unsurprisingly, these studies showed heavy reliance on negative stereotypes about “rednecks” and “white trash.”

But scholarship on the show has not exclusively focused on the negatives.  Scholars like Geoffrey Parkes and May Friedman have pushed back against a simplistic understanding of the show as merely exploitative of Southern stereotypes, suggesting instead that it also serves as a site of resistance.[5]  The show includes radical acceptance of fat bodies, female empowerment, and queer individuals in addition to the stereotypes about rednecks.  The show also offers resistance to issues of class expectations and, in that way, serves, at least partially, as a site of resistance against the Southern stereotypes it uses.[6]

Closer to this study’s interest, Andre Cavalcante has done a discourse analysis of the Facebook fan page of the show.[7]  Reality television and social media have been intertwined over the past decade. For example, reality television is dependent on social media for generating interest and in voting on competition shows, and social media frequently focuses on television as a source of conversation topic.  Social media has allowed audiences to interact much more closely with television while reality television has encouraged a sense of intimacy for audiences. These two phenomena have led to the creation of fascinating sites of discourse around reality shows.[8]  The tension between the resistance that Parkes and Freidman note and the dependency on exploitative stereotypes that Tyo and Miller observe is revealed in the attitudes and language used by the commenters on the Facebook page.[9]  Audiences use “the Thompson family and their show as reasons to debate the ‘proper’ and moral parameters of self, family, society and nation.”[10]

This intersection between stereotypes, power structures, identity formation, mass media, social media, reality television, and queer intersectional feminism is exactly where I want to situate my research. These studies help problematize the idea of representation issues in television, especially the relationship between what is presented on screen as the reality of the people’s lives and “actual reality,” and add to the body of feminist and critical television studies.  Cavalcante even extends this research into online social media spaces, where there has been less analysis of stereotypes, by locating his discourse analysis in the medium of Facebook. This study wishes to add to that scholarship by focusing on an area of social media that has been under-studied—Tumblr and the image macro—and that offers new insights into the stereotypes and resistance to cultural expectations while also offering insight into the cutting edge of online communications.



[1] Alison F. Slade, Amber J. Narro, and Burton P. Buchanan, eds., Reality Television: Oddities of Culture (Lexington Books, 2014), vii.

[2] “Chasingapril,” accessed May 12, 2014, http://aprilloveslies.tumblr.com/post/38232075183/http-whrt-it-rjyqn0; “Community Post: 25 Crazy Mama June GIFs,” BuzzFeed Community, October 2, 2012, http://www.buzzfeed.com/hyvesredactie/25-crazy-mama-june-gifs-7j5s.

[3] Bevie Tyo, “Coming to Appreciate the Redneck Stereotype: A Value Analysis of Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” (California Polytechnic State University, 2013), http://digitalcommons.calpoly.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1144&context=comssp.

[4] Ariel Miller, “The Construction of Southern Identity Through Reality TV: A Content Analysis of Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, Duck Dynasty and Buckwild,” Elon Journal of Undergraduate Research in Communications 4, no. 2 (2013), http://www.studentpulse.com/articles/824/4/the-construction-of-southern-identity-through-reality-tv-a-content-analysis-of-here-comes-honey-boo-boo-duck-dynasty-and-buckwild.

[5] May Friedman, “Here Comes a Lot of Judgment: Honey Boo Boo as a Site of Reclamation and Resistance,” The Journal of Popular Television 2, no. 1 (April 1, 2014): 77–95, doi:10.1386/jptv.2.1.77_1; Geoff Parkes, “He’s Gonna Be a Little Gay: Redneckognising the Queer American Family in Here Comes Honey Boo Boo,” in Proceedings of the 4th Annual International Popular Culture Association of Australia and New Zealand Conference (PopCAANZ 2013) (University of Southern Queensland, 2013), 138–46, http://eprints.usq.edu.au/23932/.

[6] Friedman, “Here Comes a Lot of Judgment.”

[7] Andre Cavalcante, “You Better ‘Redneckognize’!: Deploying the Discourses of Realness, Social Defiance, and Happiness to Defend Here Comes Honey Boo Boo on Facebook,” in Reality Television: Oddities of Culture, ed. Alison F. Slade, Amber J. Narro, and Burton P. Buchanan (Lexington Books, 2014).

[8] Beverley Skeggs and Helen Wood, “The Labour of Transformation and Circuits of Value ‘around’reality Television,” Continuum: Journal of Media & Cultural Studies 22, no. 4 (2008): 565.

[9] Cavalcante, “You Better ‘Redneckognize’!: Deploying the Discourses of Realness, Social Defiance, and Happiness to Defend Here Comes Honey Boo Boo on Facebook.”

[10] Ibid., 42.

I Get Racist and Sexist Hate Mail

donald sterlingIn case anyone thought that the amount of racist hate I was getting had died down since my last post about this, I am afraid I must dispel that notion.

For those catching up, Thanksgiving of 2012 my dad ceased contact with me because he found out I was dating a black guy.  Just under a year ago, I got DNA results from 23andme that said I was part Sub-Saharan African, which meant that my dad either was part black or had married my mother and she was part black, making his disowning of me more perfectly awful.  In February and March of 2014, my blog was linked to by a white supremacist website, so I shared that.

Here, then, are the kinds of messages I’ve been dealing with in response to old blog posts.  Some day, when I have free time, I think I’m going to analyze how many of these messages focus on me as a broodmare or sexual object.  I particularly like the one that accuses me of starting Atheism+, which I didn’t have anything to do with, and the one that suggests I got moist at discovering my Sub-Saharan DNA — is that meant to be a sexual comment?

 

This women ashley. Is now only good for someone to scoot their balls over her puckered lips. She is lost. No one will marry this worthless c*nt.

 

Ashley, your dad is right. You are a race-traitor. You’re gonna get beat up by your black boyfriend someday !

 

You disgust me. Your father cries his eyes out every day and you do not even understand why.

 

Your no hero, your an animal. Your father is a good man. My heart bleeds for him that he had such a worthless cu$t of a daughter.

 

Your hateful spiteful c*nt. Your shitting on thousands of years of your white ancestors.

 

He disowned her out of love. And he put himself at risk, and the outed him.

She is pure evil. Hateful and worthless POS. Set about destroying civilisation right down to her own ex familys DNA.

 

 Have all the sex with black men you want – nobody really cares. But if you think one nutcase Stormfront guy is a reason to start the ridiculous Stasi-esque organization that is Atheism+ then you’re a real quality fascist. All decent liberals hate fascists. You’re “damaged goods” because you’re a fascist, not because you had sex with a black man.

 

interracial mixers are the lowest of the low… you are a self loathing DEGENERATE… the HATE is all yours.

for anyone to suggest the only way to not be racist…is to condone or be willing to mix interracially IS HATE.

you dont want to be WHO you are, so you use racism to deflect from yourself. there is nothing more disgusting than a person with the kind of sense of worthlessness you must have in order to mix interracially. you couldnt denigrate yourself more if you tried.

 

you are the lowest a person can be.

 

this author is lowlife garbage… she absolutely is completely repulsive to the overwhelming majority of white men she will ever meet in her life. anyone…but any man or woman that does play into her mental illeness,

 

So why did your dad disown you? Because you completely messed up his genetic legacy. You put his genes at an evolutionary disadvantage by investing his genes in someone with low genetic stock value.

 

Black men and white women have the highest divorce rate in the country. Black men have the highest rate of HIV and STDs in the country. Black men are infamous for bailing on the woman after she gets pregnant. If he does that to you, and you’re a single mother with a black child, you will have zero value in the dating market. Good luck finding a decent man who will spend his hard-earned cash raising some other man’s black bastard child.

 

its not your belief systems…. its YOU. there is nothing more disgusting than you.

your “belief systems” simply point to the source of your own self hatred and willingness to have degraded yourself. now its just a matter of your living in denial, of just how truly disgusting you are.

its you.

 

Avoid this hideous turds blog site. Just an uber attention whore.

With emphasis on the word whore.

Right look, the reason i find it detestable what she is doing with her pet knee grow. Is this. Not only if she has offspring will she destroy her own family forever.

But also they will contaminate other White people.

 

When you have certain blue-eyed, blond haired types get all moist at the idea that they “are not 100% white” there is something deliciously ironic about racialists snapping back with celebrations of ‘white culture’.

A thorough analysis of Woody Allen’s letter in the NYTimes

dylan farrow and woody allenI wrote yesterday about why neutral was an illogical response to Dylan’s accusations, but today I’d like to spend some time with Allen’s response to the allegations.  For the tl;drs out there, the summary is this: Allen spends 2000 words trying to make Mia Farrow sound like a crazy bitch, presenting incomplete and false information, and showing disrespect to his children, especially Dylan.  For those who’d like a point-by-point breakdown, you are in luck.  (EDIT: Here are two excellent statement analyses of Dylan’s letter and Allen’s letter)

TWENTY-ONE years ago, when I first heard Mia Farrow had accused me of child molestation, I found the idea so ludicrous I didn’t give it a second thought.

In the first sentence there are two things that are a bit disturbing.  The first is that Mia Farrow never accused him of child molestation, Dylan Farrow did.  Mia did not even go to the police with it, she went to a pediatrician, who by law was required to contact the police.  Allen is immediately turning this into a narrative of how Mia Farrow is out to get him, rather than a narrative about Dylan Farrow, who should be the focus of his response.

The second thing that bothers me is that he was accused of molestation by a child he was already in therapy for inappropriate behavior towards and who he was not allowed to see alone.  If I was a person wrongly accused of sexual abuse of a child, especially one where there was already damning evidence around me, I would FREAK OUT, but certainly I would give it a second thought.  That he didn’t give it a second thought and that he is comfortable beginning his defense narrative with the fact that he didn’t give it a second thought says to me that he somehow thinks this sort of accusation is not abnormal and a blasé response is perfectly acceptable and normal.

We were involved in a terribly acrimonious breakup, with great enmity between us and a custody battle slowly gathering energy.

We’ve made it to the second sentence, where he continues to present misinformation and attempts to paint Mia Farrow as a stereotypical vindictive woman scorned.  They were involved in an acrimonious breakup, because he’d cheated on her with her daughter, the sister of his children.  But there was no custody battle until after the police were alerted to Dylan’s claims.  He filed suit for custody BECAUSE Dylan made a sexual abuse claim against him — until then, he’d agreed not to even try to get custody.  The suit was ruled to be frivolous and he was forced to pay all of Mia Farrow’s legal fees.  In my opinion, he filed for custody to cast doubt upon Mia Farrow’s role as a mother to divert attention away from Dylan’s claims.

The self-serving transparency of her malevolence seemed so obvious I didn’t even hire a lawyer to defend myself. It was my show business attorney who told me she was bringing the accusation to the police and I would need a criminal lawyer.

Again, Mia Farrow did not bring the accusations to the police, the doctor who she took Dylan to was required by law to go to the police.  Again, Allen is trying to pain Mia Farrow as an aggressor — even if she was, this is not an accurate accounting of events. He’s already told a great number of lies in an attempt to make Mia Farrow look bad.

I naïvely thought the accusation would be dismissed out of hand because of course, I hadn’t molested Dylan and any rational person would see the ploy for what it was. Common sense would prevail. After all, I was a 56-year-old man who had never before (or after) been accused of child molestation. I had been going out with Mia for 12 years and never in that time did she ever suggest to me anything resembling misconduct.

Again, Woody Allen was already in therapy for inappropriate behavior towards Dylan.  Allen was already not allowed to be alone with Dylan because of that behavior.  That’s why it was a big deal that people didn’t know where they were for 15 minutes that afternoon, he was already known to be not appropriate with the girl.  So yeah, she had, in fact, suggested things to him and to others about misconduct.  Lying again to paint Mia as a crazy bitch.

Now, suddenly, when I had driven up to her house in Connecticut one afternoon to visit the kids for a few hours, when I would be on my raging adversary’s home turf, with half a dozen people present, when I was in the blissful early stages of a happy new relationship with the woman I’d go on to marry — that I would pick this moment in time to embark on a career as a child molester should seem to the most skeptical mind highly unlikely. The sheer illogic of such a crazy scenario seemed to me dispositive.

The illogic of the scenario would make it a perfect time to perpetrate an attack, because it wouldn’t be believed.  Furthermore, child abusers and sexual misbehavior is not logical.  And again, his behavior up to this point was clearly grooming for molestation, he’d already embarked on his career long before the incident in the attic.

Notwithstanding, Mia insisted that I had abused Dylan and took her immediately to a doctor to be examined.

Dylan insisted she had been abused and the other people in the house at the time corroborated the story.  Mia, a concerned mother, took her daughter to a doctor to see if she was OK, not to the police to press charges.

Dylan told the doctor she had not been molested.  Mia then took Dylan out for ice cream, and when she came back with her the child had changed her story.

Dylan was uncomfortable telling a stranger about her “privates,” so the doctor asked them to come back another day, so she could become more comfortable with it.

The police began their investigation; a possible indictment hung in the balance. I very willingly took a lie-detector test and of course passed because I had nothing to hide. I asked Mia to take one and she wouldn’t.

The police asked Allen to take a polygraph and he refused — he took it for his own attorneys.  The Connecticut State Police refused to accept it as evidence.  Likewise, Mia Farrow was not asked by police to take a polygraph, only by Allen for his attorneys.  Of course she refused to take a test administered by people working for him.  Furthermore, polygraphs are notoriously unreliable.

Last week a woman named Stacey Nelkin, whom I had dated many years ago, came forward to the press to tell them that when Mia and I first had our custody battle 21 years ago, Mia had wanted her to testify that she had been underage when I was dating her, despite the fact this was untrue. Stacey refused. I include this anecdote so we all know what kind of character we are dealing with here. One can imagine in learning this why she wouldn’t take a lie-detector test.

Stacey Nelkin was a 17-year-old high school student and Woody Allen was decades older than her when they dated.  That is fairly disturbing as part of his pattern (his first wife was 16 when they married), I can understand why Mia wanted her to testify.  And again, the lie-detector test she refused to test was one that would be administered by Woody Allen’s defense team, not by the police.  So is Mia Farrow a crazy bitch, or just seeing a pattern of behavior from Allen and trying to get someone to testify to that effect and refusing to help Allen’s defense team?

Meanwhile the Connecticut police turned for help to a special investigative unit they relied on in such cases, the Child Sexual Abuse Clinic of the Yale-New Haven Hospital. This group of impartial, experienced men and women whom the district attorney looked to for guidance as to whether to prosecute, spent months doing a meticulous investigation, interviewing everyone concerned, and checking every piece of evidence. Finally they wrote their conclusion which I quote here: “It is our expert opinion that Dylan was not sexually abused by Mr. Allen. Further, we believe that Dylan’s statements on videotape and her statements to us during our evaluation do not refer to actual events that occurred to her on August 4th, 1992… In developing our opinion we considered three hypotheses to explain Dylan’s statements. First, that Dylan’s statements were true and that Mr. Allen had sexually abused her; second, that Dylan’s statements were not true but were made up by an emotionally vulnerable child who was caught up in a disturbed family and who was responding to the stresses in the family; and third, that Dylan was coached or influenced by her mother, Ms. Farrow. While we can conclude that Dylan was not sexually abused, we can not be definite about whether the second formulation by itself or the third formulation by itself is true. We believe that it is more likely that a combination of these two formulations best explains Dylan’s allegations of sexual abuse.”

Could it be any clearer? Mr. Allen did not abuse Dylan; most likely a vulnerable, stressed-out 7-year-old was coached by Mia Farrow. This conclusion disappointed a number of people. The district attorney was champing at the bit to prosecute a celebrity case, and Justice Elliott Wilk, the custody judge, wrote a very irresponsible opinion saying when it came to the molestation, “we will probably never know what occurred.”

But we did know because it had been determined and there was no equivocation about the fact that no abuse had taken place.

The investigators did a job that was so terrible that current child abuse experts decry it as a terrible injustice to Dylan and the custody judge dismissed it as not credible because they’d destroyed their notes and refused to testify.  That Allen’s only source is something that even the doctor of the report now agrees was a bad job says a lot about the quality of his argument.

Justice Wilk was quite rough on me and never approved of my relationship with Soon-Yi, Mia’s adopted daughter, who was then in her early 20s.

I hate, hate, hate the way that people interpret “adopted” as “not her real.” Soon-Yi is Mia’s daughter.  Soon-Yi is the sister of Allen’s children.  And it’s extremely weaselly to define her as in her early 20s, when she was 19 when the affair started.  Justice Wilk was justifiably squicked out by the fact that the man who had been Mia’s consort for 12 years and gone on family vacations for months at a time targeted an isolated girl nearly 40 years younger than him.  Let me quote from the opinion:

Mr. Allen’s deficiencies as a custodial parent are magnified by his affair with Soon-Yi.  As Ms. Farrow’s companion, he was a frequent visitor at Soon-Yi’s home.  He accompanied the Farrow-Previns on extended family vacations and he is the father of Soon-Yi’s siblings, moses, Dylan and Satchel.  The fact that Mr. Allen ignored Soon-Yi for ten years cannot change the nature of the family constellation and does not create a distance sufficient to convert their affair into a benign relationship between two consenting adults.

Mr. Allen admits that he never considered the consequences of his behavior with Soon-Yi.  Dr. Coates and Dr. Brodzinsky testified that Mr. Allen still fails to understand that what he did was wrong.  Having isolated Soon-Yi from her family, he left her with no visible support system.  He had no consideration for the consequences to her, to Ms. Farrow, to the Previn children for whom he cared little, or to his own children for whom he professes love.

Mr. Allen’s response to Dylan’s claim of sexual abuse was an attack upon Ms. Farrow, whose parenting ability and emotional stability he impugned without the support of any significant credible evidence.  His trial strategy has been to separate his children from their brothers and sisters; to turn the children against their mother; to divide adopted children from biological children; to incite the family against their household help; and to set household employees against each other.  His self-absorption, his lack of judgment, and his commitment to the continuation of his divisive assault, thereby impeding the healing of the injuries he has already caused, warrant a careful monitoring of his future contact with the children.

To which Allen says:

He thought of me as an older man exploiting a much younger woman, which outraged Mia as improper despite the fact she had dated a much older Frank Sinatra when she was 19.

Either Allen has terrible reading comprehension skills or still doesn’t understand why people are bothered by his relationship with the sister of his children.  Justice Wilk is not bothered by the fact that Allen was older than Soon-Yi, he is bothered by the fact that Allen seems to think it’s appropriate for a girl to grow up with a man who is her mother’s long term partner and the father of her siblings and for that girl to then be predated on by this adult father-figure while he is still in a relationship with her mother.  That Allen cannot grasp why people are horrified by this speaks to a disrespect for his children, a disrespect for adoption, and an extreme disrespect for cultural norms around behavior around those he was meant to protect, not to exploit.

Furthermore, he is again making it about Mia Farrow’s behavior, which is completely irrelevant to his own.

In fairness to Justice Wilk, the public felt the same dismay over Soon-Yi and myself, but despite what it looked like our feelings were authentic and we’ve been happily married for 16 years with two great kids, both adopted. (Incidentally, coming on the heels of the media circus and false accusations, Soon-Yi and I were extra carefully scrutinized by both the adoption agency and adoption courts, and everyone blessed our adoptions.)

Because there weren’t charges, of course he was allowed to adopt.  That’s an irrelevant piece of data.  Again, it is clear that he doesn’t understand the origin of the dismay.

Mia took custody of the children and we went our separate ways.

No.  Incorrect.  Mia had uninterrupted custody of the children and did not lose it to Allen’s spurious lawsuit.  Mia kept custody of the children.  And she did so because of a lengthy trial and opinion offered by a judge.  Allen was forced to pay Mia’s legal fees, over $1 million, because all of his suits were ridiculous. Again, he is trying to imply that Mia was doing something vindictive.

I was heartbroken. Moses was angry with me. Ronan I didn’t know well because Mia would never let me get close to him from the moment he was born and Dylan, whom I adored and was very close to and about whom Mia called my sister in a rage and said, “He took my daughter, now I’ll take his.” I never saw her again nor was I able to speak with her no matter how hard I tried. I still loved her deeply, and felt guilty that by falling in love with Soon-Yi I had put her in the position of being used as a pawn for revenge.

The custody suit reveals that Allen admitted to having no interest in the children or their lives, despite encouragement from Mia.  Again he is trying to make this about how Mia was upset that Allen, father of her children, was cheating on her with her daughter.  As though that response is irrational or necessitates Mia being vindictive rather than just extremely upset at grotesque behavior taking advantage of her child.

Soon-Yi and I made countless attempts to see Dylan but Mia blocked them all, spitefully knowing how much we both loved her but totally indifferent to the pain and damage she was causing the little girl merely to appease her own vindictiveness.

He and Soon-Yi shouldn’t have been making attempts to see Dylan, who was trying to recover from abuse, or at the very least, believing she was abused.  That he was so persistent in trying to see her rather than allowing her to heal is extremely disturbing.  The pain and damage was being caused by his inability to leave her alone.  Again, he is making it all about Mia.  As though he is not responsible for causing this by beginning an affair with his daughter’s sister.

Here I quote Moses Farrow, 14 at the time: “My mother drummed it into me to hate my father for tearing apart the family and sexually molesting my sister.” Moses is now 36 years old and a family therapist by profession. “Of course Woody did not molest my sister,” he said. “She loved him and looked forward to seeing him when he would visit. She never hid from him until our mother succeeded in creating the atmosphere of fear and hate towards him.” Dylan was 7, Ronan 4, and this was, according to Moses, the steady narrative year after year.

Moses offers the most credible witness here, and I see no reason to doubt his observations.  He could theoretically have ulterior motives, but there’s no reason to assume that.  The judge didn’t see things this way, nor do the other children.  That said, I can’t imagine how difficult it would be to be a teenager in a house where your father has run off with one sister, and another sister is claiming to have been sexually assaulted, and the mother is extremely upset by both of these.

This also presents the absurd idea that those who are sexually abused do not love their abusers.  That’s one of the most difficult parts of incest, in Dylan’s own words, she just thought it was a thing that fathers did with their daughters.  In fact, abusers often use this exact language to justify what they’ve done.  She might have only been 7, but she clearly enjoyed it and wanted to spend time with me, therefore my behavior wasn’t inappropriate.

And now we get to the only part of the piece that made me absolutely furious.

I pause here for a quick word on the Ronan situation. Is he my son or, as Mia suggests, Frank Sinatra’s? Granted, he looks a lot like Frank with the blue eyes and facial features, but if so what does this say? That all during the custody hearing Mia lied under oath and falsely represented Ronan as our son? Even if he is not Frank’s, the possibility she raises that he could be, indicates she was secretly intimate with him during our years. Not to mention all the money I paid for child support. Was I supporting Frank’s son? Again, I want to call attention to the integrity and honesty of a person who conducts her life like that.

This is completely inappropriate and reveals the depths to which Allen doesn’t understand fatherhood, biological and no-biological children, how family works, how to treat children, or basic human decency extended to children.  It doesn’t matter whose sperm created Ronan, Allen is Ronan’s father.  He raised him as his son.  That bond shouldn’t be made irrelevant because of biology — but as we know, he thinks biology makes it OK for him to sleep with his girlfriend’s child.

This is just a further attempt to discredit Mia, but now he’s throwing away his own son in doing so.  And unlike his discussion of Dylan, there’s no indication that he cares at all about Ronan or is sad that his son believes the accusation.  What is wrong with Allen that Ronan’s parentage would allow him to treat him as irrelevant and unimportant except insofar as he might be evidence that Mia is unreliable.  Would Allen really have removed child support for the child he and Mia decided to have together and he raised just because of Mia’s behavior?  Talk about punishing the wrong party.  WHO CARES IF YOU WERE SUPPORTING FRANK’S SON, HE’S YOUR SON TOO.  How immature, petty, and selfish is this man?

I can’t even begin to express how upsetting I find this.  How about the integrity and honesty and decency of Woody Allen?  How about treating your children as more than pawns in your game of destroying Mia?

NOW it’s 21 years later and Dylan has come forward with the accusations that the Yale experts investigated and found false. Plus a few little added creative flourishes that seem to have magically appeared during our 21-year estrangement.

“Creative flourishes” “magically appeared,” way to call her a liar — which he’ll follow up with removing any kind of self-determination from Dylan by saying she believes her own lies.  Is she confused or creative?  Her story hasn’t actually changed in 21 years.

Not that I doubt Dylan hasn’t come to believe she’s been molested, but if from the age of 7 a vulnerable child is taught by a strong mother to hate her father because he is a monster who abused her, is it so inconceivable that after many years of this indoctrination the image of me Mia wanted to establish had taken root? Is it any wonder the experts at Yale had picked up the maternal coaching aspect 21 years ago?

The complaints of improper behavior began when Dylan was a toddler, so she wasn’t taught this from the age of 7, it started well before that.  Again, it’s all Mia’s fault, Dylan, the young woman who is far older than Soon-Yi was when he decided she was adult enough to be his lover, is apparently not capable of knowing her own mind.  When Dylan speaks of what happened to her, she doesn’t use the language of monstrosity, she talks of a relationship with her father that she thought was normal.

Even the venue where the fabricated molestation was supposed to have taken place was poorly chosen but interesting. Mia chose the attic of her country house, a place she should have realized I’d never go to because it is a tiny, cramped, enclosed spot where one can hardly stand up and I’m a major claustrophobe. The one or two times she asked me to come in there to look at something, I did, but quickly had to run out. Undoubtedly the attic idea came to her from the Dory Previn song, “With My Daddy in the Attic.” It was on the same record as the song Dory Previn had written about Mia’s betraying their friendship by insidiously stealing her husband, André, “Beware of Young Girls.”

Mia didn’t introduce the idea of the attic, Dylan did.  And Woody’s story around the attic changed as it became clear that the police had evidence that he’d been in it.  At first he denied having gone in it at all, and then they found hair, so he said he’d peaked in, and then they found fingerprints, and so he said he’d gone in and left quickly.  The rest of this is just more nonsense intended to discredit Mia for her personal relationships and to cast doubt on her fitness as a mother and human being.

One must ask, did Dylan even write the letter or was it at least guided by her mother? Does the letter really benefit Dylan or does it simply advance her mother’s shabby agenda? That is to hurt me with a smear. There is even a lame attempt to do professional damage by trying to involve movie stars, which smells a lot more like Mia than Dylan.

Seriously, Allen thinks an independent woman in her late 20s, who has moved on with her life, is passing off her mother’s writing as her own?  Why?  Is this meant to make us think that Allen is incredible paranoid?  How committed is he to the idea that, if he says it enough, people will agree that this is not about Dylan, it’s about Mia Farrow?  To deny her bodily autonomy in her childhood is terrible, to go on denying her autonomy in thought and action as an adult continues to be terrible.

And what shabby agenda is it that he thinks is being undertaken.  It is a woman asking for people to care about what happened to her and believe her.  She didn’t call for a boycott.  There may have been “palpable bitchery,” as Stephen King so nauseatingly described it, but that’s anger, not a demand for a specific behavior against Allen.  As agendas go, it definitely appears to be an agenda of, “Please believe me.”  Hardly spiteful.

After all, if speaking out was really a necessity for Dylan, she had already spoken out months earlier in Vanity Fair.

Allen’s spoken out about this before, how does speaking out on something once make it nonsensical to speak out at further length in the future.  This is just ridiculousness on his part.

Here I quote Moses Farrow again: “Knowing that my mother often used us as pawns, I cannot trust anything that is said or written from anyone in the family.” Finally, does Mia herself really even believe I molested her daughter? Common sense must ask: Would a mother who thought her 7-year-old daughter was sexually abused by a molester (a pretty horrific crime), give consent for a film clip of her to be used to honor the molester at the Golden Globes?

Alright, so she’s a spiteful, vindictive, crazy bitch, but she’s clearly not so vindictive that she’ll refuse to allow clips to be used by others in projects related to Allen, so therefore she is lying.  Got it.  Why wouldn’t she give consent for it to be used?  I don’t even begin to understand this logic?  And what does it have to do with anything?  Why is this about Mia, again?

Of course, I did not molest Dylan.

Finally, he actually denies the accusation.  I believe it’s perfectly possible that Allen believes this to be true, even if he did what Dylan accused him of.  He is clearly incapable of taking responsibility for any of his bad behavior or feeling bad about questionable sexual behavior.

I loved her…

Interesting use of the past tense.

…and hope one day she will grasp how she has been cheated out of having a loving father and exploited by a mother more interested in her own festering anger than her daughter’s well-being.

Way to make it about Mia again.  What an awesome dad you are, to not say anything about your daughter before twisting it to be about her mom.  Who is the vindictive one?  The person who cheated Dylan out of a loving father was Allen, the minute he decided to fuck her teenage sister.  Is Allen pathologically unable to accept responsibility for his behavior?

Being taught to hate your father and made to believe he molested you has already taken a psychological toll on this lovely young woman, and Soon-Yi and I are both hoping that one day she will understand who has really made her a victim and reconnect with us, as Moses has, in a loving, productive way.

It is incredibly unhealthy for him to demand that anyone in the family accept his and Soon-Yi relationship.  He violated the family trust in doing so.  Some people will be able to move on from it, but he is the one who betrayed the family and caused the psychological damage.  The fact that he will not own it is reprehensible.

No one wants to discourage abuse victims from speaking out, but one must bear in mind that sometimes there are people who are falsely accused and that is also a terribly destructive thing. (This piece will be my final word on this entire matter and no one will be responding on my behalf to any further comments on it by any party. Enough people have been hurt.)

This entire defense is basically “scorned bitches be crazy.”  If he didn’t do it, why isn’t he more vehemently addressing the charges himself?  Why isn’t he talking about how such behavior is morally repugnant to him?  Why is he blaming everything on Mia Farrow, when his own behavior was so very clearly inappropriate, even without taking into account the attic accusation?  Why isn’t he admitting to the possibility that, knowing his on the record history of inappropriate behavior with Dylan, that she misinterpreted something or came up with the story on her own when exposed to the idea that he was being sexually intimate with her big sister — why does it have to be Mia’s fault?

Because Allen’s entire strategy in light of the accusation has been to try to pain Mia as a terrible person.  It’s an incredibly effective tactic.  By starting a custody battle the minute he was accused, he managed to create enough doubt around the accusations that much of the public just sees it as he-said, she-said, fight for the kids, despite his known behavior.  The tragedy is that he will not make it about Dylan and her happiness and her needs, but only about his own selfish needs.  To him, this is about hurting Mia Farrow, protecting himself, and hurting his own children to accomplish that — not about helping his daughter.

Where’s his public letter reaching out to his children?  Where’s his apology for destroying their family?  None of that exists, because nothing is important to Woody Allen except Woody Allen.

Why neutral is not the logical position on Dylan Farrow’s allegations

dylan farrow and woody allenI have actually lost a lot of Facebook friends over the Woody Allen molestation story, because I side very firmly with Dylan.  I recently shared an article about how what you believe is based on your personal experiences – people who have been mistreated by those in power, especially sexually, tend to believe Dylan; people who have been in power and fear false accusations, tend to believe Woody or claim neutrality.

Michael Hawkins offered this dismissive response to the article:

I stopped reading after the article repeated the same illogic as your last one: Saying we don’t know what happened is not also saying Farrow is lying.  It’s saying we don’t know.  That’s it.  Claiming otherwise is the same as dismissing the importance of evidence, a dismissal of the scientific view of the world.  We don’t know if her claims are true.  We don’t know if Allen’s denials are true.  That’s it.

The question is not whether we know what happened – we cannot know what happened — it’s whether we believe the claims of the victim.  We spend a great deal of time believing things that we don’t know – even in science, we operate off of assumptions and tentative conclusions about the world to be able to test claims.  Oftentimes, “knowledge” just means the claim with the best evidence.  Demands of necessary neutrality in response to a claim of sexual abuse is hyperskepticism, not scientific skepticism.

Michael makes the claim that neutrality is the only logical position.  That would only be correct if we lived in a void, where the rest of the world didn’t exist around the claims being made.  In the same way, legal language is inappropriate when discussing how people who are not judge or jury are forming opinions.  The standard for conviction is necessarily far stricter than the standard for forming rational opinions.  Let us look at the world beyond the “he said, she said.”

Woody Allen has a history of not respecting sexual boundaries and taking advantage of massive power imbalances between himself and his sexual partners – his history with his son’s sister, the child of the mother of his children, is enough to show a complete contempt for appropriate age relationships and the incest taboo.  He also has made jokes about how he has no sexual boundaries and no one would be surprised to find him in bed with several 12-year-olds.

Dylan Farrow, on the other hand, has nothing to gain from sharing this information except the chance of being believed, something that is part of the healing process for abuse victims.  Importantly, belief is all she’s asking for – not remuneration, not penalties for Woody Allen, just that people believe her.  Believing her costs Woody Allen nothing, while not believing re-victimizes her.

There are witnesses on who’ve come forward on both sides.  Those who have eye-witness testimony of inappropriate behavior from Allen to Dylan, and those who claim that Woody would never do something like that and there wasn’t sufficient opportunity.  Eye-witness testimony is imperfect, but it’s significant that there are people besides Dylan who corroborate the story.  There was also an investigation, which was inconclusive.  They were willing to prosecute Allen, but declined because they didn’t want to put Dylan through it.  This speaks to an inability to rule out that it happened, if not evidence that it did.

But even if you think that those who witnessed things and felt the case was tryable should be held in equal weight to those who deny the possibility of abuse and felt Dylan was not being honest, neutrality is still not the appropriate position.  Statistically, false accusations of sexual abuse by children are very rare.  Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence – a rape is not extraordinary, a false accusation is.  Dylan Farrow is making a claim that should only be doubted if there is good evidence that she is lying.  No such evidence exists.  Neutrality is denying the reality of how common abuse is in the world in which we live and how rare false accusations are. The default position, outside of a legal context, is believing the victim.

Furthermore, claiming neutrality is a betrayal of the victim, even if you’re not calling her a liar.  Not believing her, even if you don’t think she’s necessarily lying, is hurting her and not hurting Allen.  From a cost/benefit analysis, extending the benefit of the doubt to Dylan is the most logical conclusion, as it offers the most benefit with the least cost.

I’ve found the response to Dylan’s letter revelatory.  There are many people in the world who value skepticism over humanism; being not wrong over being probably right; being neutral over being kind.  Kind not just to Dylan, but to the many survivors of abuse who are finding it hard to see the cruel treatment of a woman who is bravely coming forward with what happened to her, something many other survivors wish they had the ability to do.  Demanding neutrality from others, many of whom may be survivors of experiences they’ve not shared with you, is neither logical nor kind.