Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Thoughts on Rape

A few high profile rapes have me thinking about how we deal with rape.

For one, pornstar James Deen was accused of rape via Twitter by his ex-girlfriend, porn actress Stoya. Several other porn actresses came out to share stories of being raped or almost raped by Deen, including on a Kink.com set. 

Some people came out with the defense that since Stoya is a porn actress, she can’t be raped. I think this is common in rape investigations - look into how promiscuous the woman is, as if her enjoying sex means that she can’t be raped. Saying someone who has sex for a living can’t be raped is like saying a boxer can’t be assaulted. There are set parameters in which a porn actor has sex. Consenting to be filmed fucking doesn’t mean you are consenting to all sex in the future. Ugh.

So there’s that. 

Then a guy in the UK got off on a rape charge by claiming he fell onto a sleeping (clothed) 18-year-old he took home from a nightclub and penetrated her. Which is physically impossible. And not a thing that happens. There are reasons why a man might be found innocent of rape, but when a woman accuses a man of rape, and there is evidence of his semen in her, and he admits to penetrating her, then which is more likely? That he raped her, or that he fell and the physically impossible happened? The fact that the jury wouldn’t believe the most likely situation and instead bought this cockamamie story is indicative of how desperate people are to not believe rape victims. 

Then there is the Jackie Fox case - she claims she was raped by their manager, in public, and none of her bandmates did anything to help her. Her bandmates, which includes Joan Jett, deny that it happened or that they knew about it. It is not hard to believe that the manager of the Runaways would rape them - I assumed he was at least psychologically abusing them. It’s a little more disconcerting that the other bandmates aren’t corroborating the story - is it because it was 40 years ago and they shut it out of their heads? or is Jackie’s memory of it flawed?  

Finally, I’ve been listening to Levianthan’s “Scar Sighted,” and read about how Jef Whitehead, who is Leviathan, was accused of raping and assaulting his ex-girlfriend. With a tattoo gun.He only ended up being convicted of assault, which he claims is bullshit, but all the metal blogs (and pitchfork) act like it is nbd and he probably didn’t do it because he elliptically denies it and didn’t get convicted. Black metal being black metal, even being a convicted neo nazi murderer isn’t enough to tarnish your image, so I guess raping a woman with a tattoo needle is small potatoes. Which is fucked, if you ask me. Just like it is fucked that R Kelly gets a pass for serially raping underage girls because he is rich enough and powerful enough to buy them off and they are poor and powerless enough to be coerced into silence. 

I'm embarrassed to admit I've been wary of assuming that a woman is always telling the truth when she accuses someone of rape. Maybe it is a psychological thing that we straight men feel like we’ve all done something kind of iffy, and wouldn’t want to be called out for it. Or maybe we all fear being railroaded with no way to protest our innocence. Women don’t lie about rape often, but it happens. I mean, people lie about having cancer. And there have been some high profile examples of false accusations. The Duke Lacrosse team, for one. Conor Oberst being accused of rape in the comments of a blog post. But even in the case of the virginia university student who apparently made up a story about being gang-raped at a frat, SOMETHING terrible happened to her, and there were multiple other stories of rapes on campus that the university has hushed up that were more quotidian and not salacious enough for the Rolling Stone reporter to pursue. Let me repeat that: there were a lot of other cases of rapes that got swept under the carpet that were too boring for the reporter to pursue, because rape is such a commonplace thing.

And not wanting to railroad people is a noble impulse, but then why are we railroading so many rape survivors into not being believed? Being falsely accused of making up a rape accusation is just as bad as being falsely accused of rape, if not worse. And while some small subset of people lie about being raped, the vast majority of rapists lie about being rapists. How many people have you heard admit they were rapists? Or to take another tack, how many people do you know that were falsely accused of rape? None, right? Or max, one, and it is most likely one of the five cases we all have heard of. Now how many women do you know who have been raped? Every single one of us knows several women who have been raped. I know of four, and that is just women who would talk about it with me, a guy. I'm sure there are many many others who don't want to discuss it with their guy friend. 

We often ask why women waited so long to come forward with their accusations. And then when they step forward with their accusations, we scrutinize their every move and motive, we disbelieve them, and if they take it to trial, their rapist gets off on the most bullshit of pretexts.

Bill Cosby hired 700 lawyers to defend himself from his rape allegations. 700.

So for the new year I’m switching my setting from being skeptical about a rape accusations until I get better evidence the woman is telling the truth to assuming the woman is telling the truth until I get better evidence that I should be skeptical. I am going to try to take to task those people I encounter in my life who are accused of rape, even if it is uncomfortable and means going agains the status quo and making a stink. We do so much harm in the name of not creating a stink sometimes. And I am going to try to be a better ally to rape survivors. That’s my new year’s resolution. Also known as stop being a dick.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Favorite Metal Albums of 2015

I listened to a lot of metal this year, so much that I can actually make a top ten list of my favorite albums.

One thing I’ll admit - most of this is “hipster metal.” Very little of it is about satan, or just old fashioned workmanlike black metal. There’s no death metal or power metal. As with all my listening tastes, I tend to like stuff that pushes boundaries, that takes genres in different directions. I’m not dissing the meat-and-potatoes metal that a lot of people love, it’s just not what excites me. I also have little interest in music that is trying really hard to be EVIL, because that’s not my scene.

This is also a list of albums I actually listened to and loved, not ones I merely thought were worthy of praise.

So here they are in alphabetical order:

Windhand: Grief's Infernal Flower. I enjoyed moments of their 2013 album Soma, but it was a little too muddy and formless. They've tightened up here and cleaned up the sound. So heavy, so good.

Vhol: Deeper Than the Sky. This is like Motorhead meets 80s Metallica meets I don't even know. It's great. It sounds amazing, it is heavy, precise, energetic, and fun.

Vanum: S/T. Melodic black metal that combines just the right amount of melody and noise.

Panopticon, Autumn Eternal. Epic, yearning, and powerful.

Myrkur: M. Folky Scandanavian black metal with female vocals.

Liturgy: The Ark Work. A hot mess, but an amazing hot mess. Black metal meets avant garde classical meets electronica meets southern hip-hop. Also amazing live.

Elder, Lore. Groovy prog metal.

Deafheaven: New Bermuda. Emo-ass black metal about the pain of normalcy, friends dying of overdoses, and moving to the suburbs.

Bosse-de-Nage: All Fours. Loud, melodic mix of black metal and post-hardcore.

Bell Witch: Four Phantoms. Heavy, slow, and beautiful.

Saturday, December 05, 2015

All That Jazz

One thing I am grateful for in 2015 is that I discovered contemporary jazz. Kamasi Washington got me realizing that there is indeed great jazz music out there.

I also bought a copy of Miles Davis's Bitches Brew, and while I don't know if I like the album, I love the audacity of it. I was wondering why there weren't more albums in that vein, and then I came across some of Rob Mazurek's work. He's a cornetist who has worked with the Sao Paolo Underground, and also does a bunch of stuff with other groups. Last year he released Return the Tides: Ascension Suite and Holy Ghost. It is four songs of trippy, sprawling, psychedelic jazz that is a tribute to his mother's passing. It's heavy and really interesting.

This year, he released the double album Galactic Parables Vol. 1. It is in the vein of Sun Ra, two discs of intergalactic jazz. His music is often kind of abrasive, but it is really interesting. It pushes boundaries and goes for something big. I'm a fan.

Life Is Shit

It has been a month. Terrorists attacks and assorted other bullshit. Goddamn.

Some day the world brings you down, you know.


In more upbeat news, I read the Dhammapada recently, and two quotes really stuck out:

“Hatred does not cease by hatred, but only by love; this is the eternal rule."

"Conquer the angry one by not getting angry; conquer the wicked by goodness; conquer the stingy by generosity, and the liar by speaking the truth."

Life has always been shitty and hard. People have always had the capacity to be violent, shitty fuckwads. Our grandparents put up with shit we wouldn't believe. Their grandparents put up with stuff they wouldn't have believed. A hundred years ago women couldn't vote. 150 years ago blacks were slaves. It gets better, and we need to keep fighting to make it better, but it is never going to be perfect. 

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