Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Oh, Jezebel.

Readers might know that most of us here at SAPAC are long-time fans of Feminist analysis, kitten videos, and pop culture all rolled into one fantastic package. Today, however, they've decided to post a fairly rape-friendly post by an "American guy in Paris freed from the idea of "consent." Yes, that is the title of the post.

It goes on to explain how the culture in Paris is one of violent, aggressive "come-ons" by men, including groping random women, forcibly kissing them, and getting them drunk to facilitate a "romantic moment." French women are supposed to laugh and accept this, and even feel flattered to be constantly "permanent sources of desire." Women are supposed to maneuver these attacks to "have the upper hand" in the situation. Excuse me for not catching this, but how the hell do women have the upper hand in a sexual attack?

He then goes on to discuss how women in America are so bound by ideas of consent-- "Here in America, our use of the word "consent" complicates the way we view the relation between sex and pleasure. "Consent" is a weighty term otherwise reserved for elevated, formal, even sanitized contexts. Using the term in regards to sex inherently ties a sexual choice to ethical and legal ones (and our unshakable Puritanism once again rears its modest head)."

I'm the first to agree that America is a Puritanical society, but this is ridiculous. Once again, women are positioned as the gatekeepers, and told that we have to be the ones to say yes or no to sex-- but not consent! No, sex isn't like that, you just make a decision with a sexual aggressor bearing down on you! Note to "American guy"-- this is sexual assault. Grabbing women on the street, kissing them without their permission-- these are both assault.

The very idea that Jezebel would post something like this disgusts me. It doesn't have an editor's name on the post, and the author, Edward Pasteck, doesn't have any other articles, and the only result for him on Google, other than the article in question, is a cached Facebook page without a photo and with only two friends. Judging by the comments on the article, it was up earlier today, which means it was taken down sometime between the posting of the article at 12:21 today and when I started writing this post at 1:30. I'm calling bullshit on this. Edward Pasteck doesn't exist, and it was somebody's idea of either a sick joke or "a way of sparking a conversation." Either way, I'm furious that one of the few spaces on the internet for women like me was invaded. I for one demand an apology from Jezebel for this, and I'll post an update when I find out what is going on.

The only direct word I got was utter dismissal, which, judging by the comments on the actual article and many other blogs, is pretty much par for the course with Jessica Coen. I admit I was a little ragey in my email, which almost certainly didn't help, but a lot of comments have been acknowledging the fact that Jezebel has gone downhill recently, and I agree. 

The "update" on their site says "Update/Editor's Note: "Edward Pasteck" is a pseudonym under which the author wants to continue writing (elsewhere). His views do not necessarily reflect the views of the site." Oh really? So you just tacitly support it? If you didn't, there would have been some analysis, a disclaimer, a trigger warning, ANYTHING. Instead, you gave him a platform from which to spew this garbage and then all you do is give that weak "note?" Thanks a lot. Shape up, guys.

--Briana S.



  2. I don't think the piece is a joke, just a way of ginning up page views with cheap controversy. And I'm sure that in the short term it works. But in the long term stunts like this are going to rob the site of whatever feminist cred it had.

    Anyway, I responded to the Jezebel piece in a sarcastic little post on my blog:

    I link back to your post in it. (And in case you didn't already know, your post is linked to on tiger beatdown.)

  3. At this point, the post is still on Jezebel. They did put a disclosure that the author is using a fake name.

  4. Totally agree with everything you said here but I wanted to specifically address your comment that they could have at least - AT LEAST - posted some kind of disclaimer or trigger warning.

    Seriously. I feel (felt) safe at Jezebel because it is one of the few places where I can openly talk about being raped and not get questions and criticism about reporting it or insinuations that it wasn't "really" rape.

    Now? Not so much. This post is such a total betrayal by Jezebel. It feels like finding out that your best friend slept with your boyfriend.

    I usually check in there several times a day yet today I've just had such a hard time going back.

  5. Here is another update:

  6. This pro-rape article, which I found through Tiger Beatdown, is something i NEVER expected to see on Jezebel.

    I can't believe it's still up on the site.

    As a feminist and someone who thinks America is still a pretty good place to be a woman, (having experienced other countries in depth) I still am appalled.

  7. I have been an avid jezebel reader for a couple of years now, and I was completely appalled by this article. Unless they issue a full apology and retract the post or at least give a response article explaining their disagreement with "Edward Pasteck" and why they posted it, I'm completely done with that site. In my search for a truly feminist blog, I found this post (through tiger beatdown) and I was very impressed. I look forward to reading more of your posts in the future, and I'm glad to see that there are many other feminist readers out there who responded negatively to the jezebel article.

  8. I've been reading Jezebel for years (no, really...since its inception almost) and I'm done with them. The quality of their posts has been pretty uneven, ranging from brilliant to boneheaded, but I've finally reached the point where I'm not going to support them any longer. No apology, a half-assed disclaimer at the end...ridiculous. They were lambasting college newspapers and websites that ran similar pieces only a few months ago--how hypocritical!

    I'm happy to give my page views to blogs that stand up to their professed vision.

  9. I'm just still in total shock that Jezebel has yet to come forward with a sincere apology. Clearly hundreds, if not thousands, of readers were deeply offended by this bullshit article. Keep speaking out against this, SAPAC, your words are inspirational and we need more TRUE feminist blogs.

  10. Frankly, I lost any respect for Jezebel after the whole "Daily Show" hatchet job which had more in common with TMZ than feminist critique (and I notice the author was rather "choosy", omitting entirely the segment the show had and has devoted in particular to sexism in media with Kristen Schaal) which they continued to drag out and self-congratulate the more attention (re: page views) it got. To me they then ceased to be about any kind of equality examination and were just another celebrity/politics blog, this one with the gimmick of "feminism".

    Still, that whole ugly affair aside, I'm shocked and horrified at that "article".
    You nailed it, Briana. Giving someone a platform for that garbage in an allegedly feminist place truly is just more evidence that Jezebel hasn't just jumped the shark, they've given the shark a megaphone to advocate for rape. There is apparently NOTHING they won't do for page-hits.

    -- Magdolene L.

    PS: Apologies for the horrible shark metaphor: this garbage has me nauseated and out of witticisms.