The other night I had the great misfortune to turn on my television and land smack dab in the middle of a scene from a movie entitled I Spit on Your Grave (1970). This was not a porn channel; this was some run-of-the-mill cable station playing a scene of a woman being gang raped in the mud of some southern bog hellhole. I was able to turn off the TV, but not my brain.
What the hell was that?
It turns out that the movie is one of three – count them, three films in the series. There was an original version from the 1970’s and then a 2010 remake, and then a sequel in 2013. I didn’t watch them mind you; I read the synopsis on IMDb. The best part? They’re billed as a sort of feminist revenge movie, because after escaping, the victims return with a vengeance to knock off their attackers, using methods equally as degrading.
What the hell?
It’s difficult to decide what is more upsetting: that these movies found financing, did well enough to support a sequel, or that there are people in the world who find this kind of fiction entertaining. Because that is what it is: a horrendous fiction imposed on us by some male scriptwriter whose assignment was to develop a script featuring a group of undereducated, unemployed greasy losers that humiliate and violate a successful woman, and then later after she’s lived in the forest like a wild animal, she can cut off their penises, cackling like some mad, broken soul. Wow folks, that’s feminism at work.
And we know this is fiction, because in the real world, when a woman tries to stand up against sexual harassment and brutality she is often, simply, murdered.
That is what happened to Tuğçe Albayrak, who died on Nov. 28 from injuries she received when she was attacked in the parking lot of a McDonald’s in western Germany. According to a story in The Guardian, she was hit with either a bat or a stone, fell backwards and hit her head on the ground. And why was she attacked? Because she had the audacity to intervene and help two teenage girls that were being harassed by a group of men – men who, later, sought her out and bashed her head in. I should really say boy: the police arrested an 18-year-old.
I’m no social scientist, but I can’t help but think this is not a coincidence. We have created a gigantic mass media machine that makes entertainment out of sexually exploiting and torturing women. Men write scripts that feature women being raped, male entertainers threaten to rape women who criticize them, and college-age athletes rape women on school campuses with impunity, as long as they score a touchdown in the next big game. This we know to be fact. The fiction, of course, is that women love it, that we ask for it, that we do something to bring it upon ourselves.
Really, on some days it feels like those of us who want to change things are just spitting in the wind…