Home' LOTL : Aug 13 Contents 25
lotl.com • Lesbians On The Loose Magazine
Politics | Opinion
whom are mothers. What made them think
that starring in a film made by a child rapist
In February, in the United States a group
called One Million Moms urged a boycott of
JC Penney after Ellen DeGeneres was signed
as its spokesperson. The group argued that
choosing an open lesbian as a spokesperson
sent the wrong message to children.
JC Penney stood behind DeGeneres, and
the ads featuring her debuted during the
Oscars telecast. Support for her ran nearly
10 to one on JCP’s Facebook page. It seems
that there were less than One Million Moms
supporting the boycott.
Nor was there a boycott or a protest
over the booking of Carnage at one of
Philadelphia’s most prestigious art theaters.
Was there not a single outraged feminist in
Philadelphia, a city of 5 million people?
Back when I was at university and both a
lesbian separatist and militant feminist, I was
involved in a protest against the film Snuff.
At the time, there was a lot of controversy
over the film, in which a woman is killed on
camera, allegedly for real.
It was winter when the film opened at a
major city theater. I was a member of a group
called Dyketactics, and we were out there in
the freezing cold, with our megaphone and
our chants, for hours. We closed the film
I remember the protest well, and my
outrage. Yet it was only a few years later that
I crossed a picket line outside a repertory
theatre showing Bernardo Bertolucci’s Last
Tango in Paris. The group Women Against
Violence Against Women was protesting the
forcible rape scene in the film. I remember
the discussion I had with a woman I knew
on the picket line. I argued for free speech
and artistic merit. She argued back at me
about the importance of not demeaning
women under the guise of art.
It’s complicated, this living by moral and
ethical rules in a politically charged cultural
lands cape. Carnage is, after all, written by
a woman. So why shouldn’t I choose to
support her work?
Yet why did Yasmina Reza let a child
rapist direct her work? Why did she give her
most prized possession to a man who had
assaulted a girl?
All these questions are germane to
our perception of what feminism really is
and what our responsibility as feminists
I was wrong to go to see Carnage. I realise
that, now. And Reza was wrong to let
Polanski film her work. And all four of the
actors in the film were wrong to appear in
it—especially Foster, who won an Oscar for
her portrayal in The Accused of a rape victim
who was dismissed as not really having been
If Polanski had gone to prison, served
his time, and then made films again—OK.
We should all believe in redemption. But
he didn’t. He continued to enjoy his lavish
international lifestyle and to receive many
awards. In 2002, he won the Oscar for
Best Director for The Pianist. He was kept
from receiving the award in person because
he would have been arrested—and his
supporters cited this as an example of his
We have one job as feminists, and that
is to support, nurture, protect and fight for
the lives of women and girls worldwide.
Feminism can’t be passive; it must be active.
As feminists, not only do we have to be
vigilant about how society is treating women
and girls, we have to be vigilant about how—
and if—we live our politics.
Rape is a crime against women and girls.
Supporting a rapist means saying rape is
OK. Or that it’s OK when it happens to
that woman or that girl, as long as it doesn’t
happen to us. It’s the proverbial slippery
slope. It’s what One Million Moms were
protesting—the slippery slope of letting
something that violates the standards of
decency, as they perceive it, be broadcast
repeatedly on TV. I get their point, even
though I disagree with it.
I realised as I left the theatre that I had
violated my own beliefs, and that in doing
so I hadn’t just let myself and a handful of
hard-core feminist friends down—I had
let down Samantha Geimer, the woman
Polanski raped, and any other woman or
girl he may have forced himself on since he
committed that crime, because he had never
been held accountable.
If Polanski had been the plumber down
the street from Geimer instead of a world-
renowned director, he would have gone to
prison, and no retinue of Hollywood’s elite
would have stood up for him. Part of our role
as feminists is to hold all men accountable
for their actions, not just the ones without
It was a small thing, my going to that film.
But as feminists we don’t have the luxury of
telling ourselves that this or that violation of
our ethics is OK because it’s something we
want to do.
Can we all be pure feminists? Probably
not. But pure feminism is a goal we all
should be striving to attain—I myself
included. Feminism is our only antidote
to the pandemic level of violence against
women and girls worldwide.
Too many people stood up for Roman
Polanski in 1977, instead of standing up for
Samantha Geimer. They did the same thing
in 2009. And regrettably, when I entered
that theatre on my birthday, within days
of the 35th anniversary of that rape, I was
doing it as well.
It isn’t easy, living our politics. But as
women, as lesbians, do we have another
choice? If we don’t stand up for ourselves,
Living Our Politics
As feminists, not
only do we have to
be vigilant about
how society is
and girls, we have
to be vigilant about
live our politics.
Links Archive July 2013 Sep 13 Navigation Previous Page Next Page