Friday, December 10, 2010

F is for Fucking (Dedicated to Julian Assange)

Don't worry, this isn't really about fucking. Not in the sense that you would probably imagine from the title. It's about relationships, more specifically, but it didn't feel right to use that word, or to use the word love or the word obsession, even though those are both important to the meditation. Because fucking, really, is a kind of locus, or a black hole toward which obsessions, preoccupations, love, and, I will argue, politics and violence are drawn, often against their own best intentions. Fucking is the line drawn on the side of the cargo ship, beyond which the water cannot safely rise. Fucking is when things change shape and undo themselves, the sociopolitical Fahrenheit 451. When you are dominated you are 'fucked.'

A few hours before I wrote this, some of my classmates were fucking in the library a few steps from my front door. They were there because they felt that the UK government was fucking them by raising tuition fees. Or perhaps they were there on behalf of those poorer kids who were being more fucked by the fee increase, or maybe they were just there to fuck, and couldn't have cared less about the cause. Or maybe the cause was fucking those who have fucked you, even though the person you're really fucking is the Nigerian or Caribbean immigrant who has to pick up your used condoms and convince herself that things here in the UK, despite these asshole kids, are still better than they are back home.

A major locus of fucking is college. This is the place where, to paraphrase one blog comment I read last night, one can fuck for four years with little to no punishment for mistakes. At Hapachatee College, nestled in a nice little college town, not too far from metropolitan cities but not too close to be cozy, this was usually the case. There were the 'town bicycles,' girls who smiled too hard in facebook pictures, whose pictures I would reproduce here in this blog if it wasn't libelous. Facebook is a good way to begin to describe them because they were as far as you could get from the girls who deleted their Facebook accounts because it's 'so fake' or because they broke up with their boyfriends. The hard-smiling girls were smiling too hard because they were too drunk to do much else. Their alliterative names and attractions to the entertainment industry added to their visibility, but most notable was their utter lack of self-respect. Even if a penis had never caught a glimpse inside them, almost everyone would still call them sluts. Many of these people would do this because they were convinced that they weren't being sexist, seeing the men who fucked them in the same light. Yet there was a way in which people became addicted to talking about these girls, Melanie Mellintons and Kate McFaddens, because it always brought a roll of the eyes and a laugh, or a grimace.

Notably, the guys who fucked them were often able to keep some anonymity, and rarely overlapped with the other group of the sexually stigmatized, the rapists. Every year the school, bolstered by its newly-created SAFE (Stop Assault For Ever) Center, would quietly place restraining orders on three to five male students who were accused of rape, and every year a few of them were expelled from the school. The SAFE Center also hosted regular survivors' meetings.

Perhaps the greatest problem with the issue of rape at Hapachatee was that it was never publicly discussed. In private, men of all stripes would make jokes about it, especially amused by the idea of one man raping another. The virginal Halo nerds would say 'U GOT RAPED LOLOLOL!!!' when they won a LAN game, and the hypermasculine, protein-shake chugging football players would sometimes say, with questionable irony, that rape is not a crime but human nature, or the nature of the animal which is inherent in the human, which reminds us, after all, that we are just animals who bury our dead.

Very few of these mysterious mentionings of rape made it to the ears of women. They were intended to be heard only by men, because you never knew, among a given group of women, who was the SAFE Center stalwart. There was usually at least one, and if you pissed her off, she would rape you in the ears to correct centuries of violence against women. If you dated one, good luck.

The truth was that everyone agreed that rape was wrong, even the football players. Every man was afraid, on a certain level, 1) that he would rape someone and 2) that he would be accused of rape for other reasons. I genuinely believe that, unlike men in most of the world, most Hapachatee men would rather be raped by another man than accused of rape. At least one of these things could be walked off. Being accused of rape was the worst possible thing that could happen to your reputation and your career as a student.

Among the black students, there was some discussion of the historical context of rape, in relation to an incident where one kid, James Carter, was accused of rape on a school trip to New York. The story goes that James had met an insecure, quiet, mousy white girl on the trip, got drunk with her at a party, made out with her in the parking lot, and followed her back to her room. At this point, according to the girl's roommate, the couple kicked the roommate out so that they could have sex. Of course, at this point in time knowledge puts on a mask, or becomes completely invisible, because there are only two people who know the truth, and it's entirely possible that one or both have deceived themselves about the course of events. According to her, James forced himself on her after she changed her mind about having sex; according to him, he decided that he didn't want to have sex and she, hurt and angry, accused him of rape when they returned to campus.

The administration implemented their state-of-emergency rape policy. James was prohibiting from walking in the school courtyard when she might be there during the day. He was also forbidden to be in the same academic building at the same time as her, and they gave him a schedule of the places where he was 86'd, based on her class schedule and accommodations. The director of the SAFE Center maintains that these measures are necessary, in general, to ensure 'the woman's physical safety and to help her begin the arduous process of recovering from her emotional trauma.'

Although nobody had taken a demographic poll of the last several years, because the information was strictly confidential and relayed only by word of mouth, the black students wanted to pose the question of rape in relation to racism. Some of them wanted to ask if there was a racist motive in accused James of rape, as there had been for countless black men in the last hundred and fifty years who were lynched by white mobs 'protecting their women.' This is a difficult debate between the students, because it seems like no matter where you stand you're potentially betraying someone who has not been justly treated by the law. It mirrors the perversely stupid way of framing the most recent presidential election (Which do you like better-- a Black man or a woman?).

The real, undeniable kernel of this association, racial oppression and sexual assault, is the sexual assault of women, Amerindian, South Asian, African and otherwise, by those men who believed themselves to be white, and believed themselves to be 'enlightening' them in the most violently intimate way, injecting a little cream in the coffee, some lightness in the dark, and there is no irony in these metaphors, because it is metaphorically that rape is both justified and condemned. Metaphor is our only weapon when we know nothing, and we must admit that rape is something about which science can say nothing, only that a coitus happened, which proves nothing.

One of James' friends was one of the least likely people to be accused of rape. He was a curious phenomenon of a guy: broad-shouldered and chunky like a wildebeest, Irish or Scottish-looking, with blonde eyebrows, Gabe associated almost exclusively with the black students. He was sometimes called the token white guy. And, like all tokens, he was showered with praise by those who surrounded him: he was a mascot, really--big, lovable, and completely unthreatening. White people didn't really know who he was, but a few of them did attend the 'Night at the Apollo,' put on by the Black Student Union, at which he read a slam poem.

He knew, more than any other white kid, how important it was to look stylish. He had the careful combination of formal and informal that distinguishes 2008 chic: the luxurious brimmed hat, the scarf, the leather shoes, the designer jeans. He had a fade, and gave the crowd his best Kanye smile.

'This poem is called "Sweet Caramel,"' he grinned. The women tittered, looking up from their iPhones for a moment. He began to deliver the poem in that strange, patented poet's lilt, abbreviating his sentences at illogical moments in case anybody forgot that he was reading a poem.

'Did you know I had
A secret?

Did you know that once
I could not admit
to anyone
what I am about to admit
to you
at this very moment?

As a boy I could not let it be known
that the women I saw walk past my house
and the little girl I held hands with
made me feel a certain way because
well
because I am one skin color and she is another

you see
I know that a black woman
is a special breed
that there is nothing
i said nothing
no nothing in the godforsaken world
like a black woman!'

The crowd roared with approval. Small beads of sweat appeared in his cheek. He was now a Pentecostal preacher.

'Can you tell me
about the "typical black woman?"
You can't tell me about her, because she
does not
exist!
Black women come in all colors, in all shapes
their personalities are as different as the stars and also just
as
radiant!

and can't nobody tell me that a white woman is better
not smarter
not more loving
or more responsible
because ain't nothin in the world like a sista!

I may be white but I can see that!'

The standing ovation greeted Gabe with slaps on the back and kisses on the cheek. He won the poetry contest that night.

I didn't really make anything of it. I went back to my room and went to class the next day. Gabe didn't impress me, but I could see where he was coming from.

About a week later, I was talking to my friend Mike, who was also at the performance and had dropped out of school about a year earlier. There is nothing that Mike hates more than white people who try to act too 'familiar.' This is why he has said, on many occasions, that he despises Gabe and people like him.

Mike rants, and Mike says a lot of dismissive things. So when he started ranting about Gabe, I was listening with half an ear. But then he made a point which struck me.

'Everybody thinks Gabe is so great, Gabe is putting his ass on the line by saying he likes black women. But it's funny how he doesn't mention ONCE that this is how colonialism and slavery worked--by white men liking black women. They liked them so much that they forced them to do all the things that women usually do when they love someone. So basically he's a fucking retarded motherfucker.'

2 comments:

  1. I dunno if Alex fully explained the premise of this to you. We all write on a topic that is selected by one person every three days. This period's topic is Fate

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  2. so you didn't like the short story? tell me what you think tim

    ReplyDelete