Three hours into Thanksgiving and I have a two things to be thankful for:
Precious (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b5FYahzVU44) tells the story of a sixteen year old girl in the seventh grade and pregnant for the second time with her biological father's baby. She suffers from physical and emotional abuse by her mother, she is on welfare, and she cannot read above a second grade level. Clareece "Precious" Jones's story is based on the novel Push by Sapphire and is a fictional one - just like Victor Barrenechea's THE RAPE TUNNEL (http://www.artlurker.com/2009/09/the-rape-tunnel-by-sheila-zareno/), where Barrenechea, in his "apparent" stroke of art blogging genius, conceptualizes a criticism of modern art by using sexualized violence as his platform. In Barrenechea's fabricated exhibition, his fictional artist, Richard Whitehurst, intends to literally rape every person who walks down his rape tunnel: "I’m not necessarily concerned with the positive or negative effects of this project so long as there is some effect on people’s lives. I’ve merely set up a situation where there is potential to impact people in meaningful ways." Meaningful, huh?
As I said before, both stories are fictional - but I'm thankful for them nonetheless. Initially, I felt pure hatred in watching Precious and reading about THE RAPE TUNNEL. I felt like they were so awful and twisted that neither of them could reflect reality. But here's the thing - while these stories are fictional, there are millions of people with stories just like Precious and million more like Victor Barrenechea who think rape is a joke. We should feel angry about these realities - and even angrier that they exist together as one sick contradiction: the frequency of sexualized violence together with the humor and insensitivity of it!
Part of me takes ownership for this contradiction. Surely, I didn't make people think and behave this way. I cannot change the minds of people like Victor Barrenechea in one day, or even one lifetime - and I cannot change the lives of people like Precious in even several lifetimes. But I can take ownership of it because if I stopped pointing fingers at the abusers and the politicians and the bad role models who contribute to this reality, stopped alienating and marginalizing myself from all of the people whom I consider colluders of this reality; rather, I started listening to them, understanding them, and finally thinking with them as a whole rather than clashing as individual parts in a society bent on disagreement, maybe it could start the right dialogue to ending these violent trends and insensitivity.
This wasn't the bashing that I had hoped to do, but I guess I realized that I've been down the angry road before and what I thought would come out of it, didn't.
So today, I'm thankful for Precious and THE RAPE TUNNEL because, in a twisted way, they've helped me see a new future for ending sexualized violence and rape normalization. Go see them, and decide for yourself.