Uncomfortable Subjects

WEEK EIGHT

BOOKS REMAINING:  41

CURRENT BOOK:  Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay

Many of Gay’s essays deal with rape and racism, both of which are personal to her for understandable reasons (she was gang-raped as a teenager and is black of Haitian descent).

While I don’t think those who commit rape necessarily always get off easy compared to their victims, considering Gay’s experience I won’t argue with her perspective.  Especially with the incident at Stanford in the not-so-distant news, as well as the many arguments people will make that certain factors bring in a gray area as far as consent (I personally don’t believe those arguments are valid and I agree with a pie chart I saw on Facebook not long ago indicating that the only cause of rape is rapists).  Not to minimize the impact of rape on its victims, but having been verbally and emotionally abused, it makes me wish those incredibly hurtful offenses were punishable by law as rape is.  One thing I will acknowledge that I don’t recall that Gay delves into, is that rape is often a he-said, she-said and is incredibly difficult to prosecute.  Recently there was a case on Investigation Discovery’s “Las Vegas Law” wherein the defendant in a sexual assault case hired a slick attorney and was acquitted, to the disappointment of the district attorney and the victim.  The victim has to be very brave to follow through and go to court where the details of the crime are analyzed and old wounds are re-opened.  It’s no wonder if many of them will accept a plea deal.

As far as racism, sure it may be unfair that the standards or norm of society come from white culture and differ from those of black culture.  While Gay opines that such a train of thought is misguided, I feel it is true that blacks who pursue education and are more conscious of their dress and behavior when they are in the larger community beyond their own, can gain more respect and rise above negative stereotypes.  It also has nothing to do with race — I would think less of a white or Hispanic man whose pants were hanging down on him to the point that his boxers were showing.  It almost sounds like Gay thinks blacks should have every right to not go to school and obtain gainful employment if they don’t want to — which doesn’t make sense!  Again, I’m going to think less of someone who is uneducated and/or who is content to accept entitlement, regardless of their skin color.  Employers certainly have every right to dictate standards of dress for their employees.  I can’t go into the law firm wearing a tank top or shorts or flip-flops, even though as far as I am concerned my culture is to be a beach bum.  Does Gay think that employers should have to allow black men to wear low, baggy trousers when it would make many patrons uncomfortable to see someone’s underwear and when certain things have simply always been protocol in a professional setting?  If you want to dress in certain ways among your family and friends or even walking down the street, so be it, as long as you are willing to accept that others are entitled to the judgments they might make.  But if you are going to assist me as a customer in a place of business, I feel it would be disrespectful to me, to see what you have on under your clothes.

Anyway, I enjoyed Gay’s essays even though I didn’t always agree with her, and I will likely see what else she has written.

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