Tuesday, September 29, 2009


This week on facebook I've been having little discussions about the movement to "Free Roman Polanski". I feel like I want to scream each time I read someone's opinion that he should be freed. I'm sure all of you know the scenario, but in the interest of this opinion piece making a lick of sense, here's the dilly:

In 1977, Polanski, then aged 44, became embroiled in a scandal involving 13-year-old Samantha Gailey. It ultimately led to Polanski's guilty plea to the charge of unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor. According to Gailey, Polanski asked her mother if he could photograph her for the French edition of Vogue, which Polanski had been invited to guest-edit. Her mother allowed a private photo shoot. According to Gaily in a 2003 interview, "Everything was going fine; then he asked me to change, well, in front of him." She added, "It didn't feel right, and I didn't want to go back to the second shoot. Gaily later agreed to a second session, which took place on March 10, 1977 at the Mulholland area home of actor Jack Nicholson in Los Angeles. "We did photos with me drinking champagne," Gaily says. "Toward the end it got a little scary, and I realized he had other intentions and I knew I was not where I should be. I just didn't quite know how to get myself out of there." She recalled in a 2003 interview that she began to feel uncomfortable after he asked her to lie down on a bed, and how she attempted to resist. "I said, 'No, no. I don't want to go in there. No, I don't want to do this. No!', and then I didn't know what else to do," she stated, adding: "We were alone and I didn’t know what else would happen if I made a scene. So I was just scared, and after giving some resistance, I figured well, I guess I’ll get to come home after this". The victim testified that Polanski gave her a combination of champagne and quaalude sedatives, and "despite her protests, he performed oral sex, intercourse and sodomy on her".

Polanski was initially charged with rape by use of drugs, perversion, sodomy, lewd and lascivious act upon a child under 14, and furnishing a controlled substance (methaqualone) to a minor. These charges were dismissed under the terms of his plea bargain, and he pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of engaging in unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor. Under the terms of the plea agreement, the court ordered Polanski to report to a state prison for a 90-day psychiatric evaluation, but granted a stay of ninety days to allow him to complete his current project. Under the terms set by the court, he was permitted to travel abroad. Polanski returned to California and reported to Chino State Prison for the evaluation period, and was released after 42 days. All parties expected Polanski to get only probation at the subsequent sentencing hearing, but after an alleged conversation with LA Deputy District Attorney David Wells, the judge "suggested to Polanski's attorneys that he would send the director to prison and order him deported". In response to the threat of imprisonment — "court sources said the film director, imprisoned in Auschwitz by the Nazis during World War II, was repelled by the thought of possibly serving more time behind bars" — Polanski fled the United States.

So that's the basics of this story. Some say the details are "murky", but I think those details are pretty clear. I'm not sure what could be considered murky. Some suggest the plea bargain was faulty. If so, he should return to the country and appeal. Simple as that.

Why I am so angered by the "Free Polanski" movement is that I simply can't understand why he deserves freedom. Any way that you look at this case, Polanski is still a rapist. I've heard insane things in the media, "...it wasn't rape-rape," from Whoopi on the View comes to mind. I'm not sure exactly what "rape rape" is, but I'm pretty sure that drugging and boozing up a 13 year old - regardless of how mature she is, and then forcing yourself up in her is plain old rape. Even if she wanted it, and begged for it, because she was 13 and could not give consent, it is still rape. Polanski knew she was a child - after all, he had to convince her mother to allow her to model, so it is clear he knew she was a minor. Furthermore, he was photographing this known minor in the nude. But people seem to conveniently forget that part.

There seems to be an argument that because this was a "small" thing that he did, that he has already paid his dues for it. How is serving 45 days in psychiatric evaluation, then fleeing the country to go home to where you are comfortably allowed to travel and work for 30 years punishment? That is not punishment. That is running from punishment.

Polanski entered a plea of guilty. When you enter a plea of guilty you should accept the consequences of your actions, your punishment. If Polanski was innocent of the act, would he not have fought for his freedom in court? Rape is incredibly difficult to prove, so the victim in this case obviously had provided ample proof to the courts. This was even more true in the seventies than it is now. Polanski knew he was screwed, that is why he bargained.

The victim actually sued privately and won. She's gotten her financial settlement. She says she would like the case dropped, because she has moved on. That is all fine and good and I can understand that this is difficult for her. I have experience with why women don't want to go through the courts.

But she doesn't have to - she is not required to testify again because the plea has been entered. It is only sentencing that is outstanding. Furthermore, it is not the victim who is laying this charge, it is the state. There is a reason for this. Think of your average domestic abuse scenario. Does the wife have the ability after abuse and the clarity to know her abuser will likely attack again? Or will she likely make excuses for her abuser, to whom she is emotionally attached? If she is a victim of escalating violence, she can't be expected to think of this person with the neutrality the courts can. That is why they step in.

Now think of a very young woman who is brutally raped by a powerful celebrity. Imagine the scrutiny she would endure if leading this case. She might be tempted to drop it due to public pressure or hatred. The public notoriously not only supports but forgives violent celebrities (see Dre, Dr., Spector, Phil, Brown, James, Knievil, Evil, etc) and blames the victims. The courts must be left in charge so that justice for the victim - willing to participate or not - can be served. The purpose of this is that the justice system protects victims when no one else will. Regardless of if they can afford it. Regardless of how powerful the attacker is.

Some believe that Polanski is being treated unfairly - that because he is an artist we should allow him to do his life's work and not be forced to be responsible for his actions. I can't disagree more. There is no reason that any celebrity, no matter their stature, should be treated in a special or unique way. Some say he was 'framed' because he was arrested in Switzerland. Um, no, that's the law. Perhaps he should have studied that country's agreements with the US a little more closely before he travelled there if he is so hell bent on avoiding sentencing.

Some would say 45 days is enough. No, 45 days is NOT enough punishment for anally raping a 13 year old. Sorry to be graphic, but that's what happened. Some say the judge was an idiot. So he might have been. Well, he's dead. So that's a non issue, isn't it? A new judge can review the case and decide the sentence. It could be community service. It could be a slap on the wrist. The judge being an idiot is not the victim's fault, nor the proscecution's.

Let us not say that he should be forgiven because it has been thirty years.

If he had murdered a man 30 years ago, would we say he should be forgiven for that?
What about vehicular manslaughter, he ran over three small children? Or what if he beat a woman to within an inch of her life? Should those things be considered forgivable after thirty years?

If one feels that this crime should be forgiven after thirty years, I am left asking, why is raping a woman something that is so forgivable? Is it because there is the presumtion that somehow the victim is "asking for it", willing or wanted it? Is it because there is a dominant thought that somehow rape is actually sex? I have continually compared this crime to violence - domestic abuse for one, because rape is not sex. Rape is a violent and brutal act. The fact that the media is reporting this as a 'sex crime' suggests that the media would rather portray this as a man having consensual sex with a child (which is impossible) than portray it for what it is: a violent crime.

I could really rant on for days. I'm sorry if this is long winded and boring and you are all "too long, didn't read" but I can't believe celebrities are coming out in droves to say the man should be freed. I can't believe I see people - lots and lots of people supporting him.

I'm ashamed of them.

Read some grand jury testimony at The Smoking Gun.
Read a comprehensive list of reasons people are saying he should be freed and the correct rebuttals here.
Read Feministing's round up of articles on the topic.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Taco Party

Michael Ian Black makes me laugh, do you read his blog? It cracks my ass up every time.

Since I have no idea where I should know Michael Ian Black from, anything I tell you will be just from researching right now. If you care, you can figure that out. All I know is that his blog is hilarious, and he has a book out right now with essays from the blog. Not sure if I like reading them better or his performance better (I'm leaning towards reading them) but here he is doing a reading of one of the essays for Funny or Die:

"Maybe you like Olives on your tacos. Guess what fuckwad? I will have olives!"

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Bitch vs. Confident

A couple of things lately have brought this topic to mind.

Firstly, we've got Serena Williams "freaking out" at a judge at the US Tennis Open:

I'd like to contrast this "freak out" with your average, run-of-the-mill John McEnroe freak outs:

Now, how exactly did Serena deserve to lose the match and be forced to apologize publicly, while McEnroe is encouraged by the crowd and his sponsors, over time this behavior becoming his "signature"?

Next we've got Vogue Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour, branded as an Ice Queen Bitch. Is she really though? Or is she the Editor-in-Chief because she is decisive, demanding and dare I say it, masculine in her way of operating her office?

According to Salon, "she is, by all accounts, a tough, demanding boss, a person who expects nothing short of excellence from herself and others." This behavior, this expectation of work ethic and the demand for excellence is something typical and expected of male leaders, but less commonly expected or accepted with female leaders. According to Anna herself, "[she is] very decisive and [tries] to give very clear direction to the people [she is] working with," which seems completely reasonable. (Anna has been in the media a lot lately because she is promoting a documentary about the production of the September issue of Vogue.)

When I say her behavior is 'masculine', I mean to say that she is not coddling her staff like children. She is not crying as she tells you what you did was wrong because she feels so guilty about mentioning it. I mean to say it seems that she is in control and makes no bones about it. You do not doubt her leadership at any time. It sounds as if working for Anna is like working for your typical male boss. It seems she is calm and consistent and demanding. Annoyingly masculine traits really. Honestly, sometimes it would be nice to see a male boss with some self-doubt.

Unfortunately I believe that women have obstacles in the way of their success that are their own fault. Yes, sexism and male dominance keep us out of high levels of corporate and political structures. Yes, the structure of society is not our fault per se, but there are things we definitely do to ourselves as a gender. At times we are our own harshest critics, and each others worst enemy.

Ladies are raised to be just that, ladies; people who don't say impolite things, are kind and generous and compassionate with people they are close to. It is only the 'tom boy' who is not expected to be that way - and tom boys are expected to "grow out of it" and become ladies eventually. Being kind and polite and compassionate - all good things in the right context, but are these things standing in the way of our ability to express how we really feel? Men are not encouraged to express their feelings publicly - but when they do, no one doubts the authenticity. When women do the same, the are branded as 'being emotional' - in fact we brand ourselves that way. Why do women so often feel that what they think or want is somehow less important than anyone else?

I doubt very much that Wintour got to her level of success by worrying about what people thought of her decisions and instructions. I doubt Serena got to her level of success by being polite and popular and ladylike. Does this mean these women are any less women, any less nurturing or compassionate? Absolutely not! These women have apparently found a way to balance who they are in life with who they should be in the workplace. They know the context in which to be polite, and the context in which to get shit done.

Professionalism. Confidence. Somehow these qualities are not encouraged in women. We're told to be confident, to have good self esteem, but are we encouraged when we show signs of it? Instead we are actually taught that it is somehow rude to express our opinion if it differs with someone else's, and that we should be nice to everyone. Worse still, women are the great at punishing each other for confident behavior. We are quick to dismiss a woman who is confident as a bitch, a whore, a meanie. In the office if you are professional, women call you the ice princess (seen it!). If you are confident in your opinions, people say you are a know-it-all (been there!).

Why can't we respect other women for their strength and confidence meanwhile applauding them for their ability to leave their personal lives and nurturing side at home?

I raise these questions with little in the way of answers other than to suggest that holding yourself back in the workplace in any way in order to protect the feelings of someone else is silly and you should stop that right now. Life and work are different things and not agreeing is ok - it isn't personal, it is professional. Being tough and decisive might not make you popular with other women, but it will make you feel better about yourself. Because being confident is a rolling train, once you get on it gets easier to do.

The Dalai Lama is a Feminist

"During his closing remarks at the International Freedom Award ceremony in the Peabody Grand Ballroom today, His Holiness the Dalai Lama called upon women to help create a more compassionate world.

“I call myself a feminist,” said the Dalai Lama. “Isn’t that what you call someone who fights for women’s rights?”

The audience erupted in laughter and applause. The Dalai Lama went to on say that women are more prone to compassion, since they have the responsibility of bearing children."


Friday, September 18, 2009


I saw this tee on a guy crossing the street recently. I love it on many, many levels.

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Good Body - review

Over the weekend I did blissfully next to nothing, other than sleeping and eating. It was grand. I also read a play called "The Good Body" by Eve Ensler, who you may have heard of because she wrote a little something called "The Vagina Monologues". (Which is, in my opinion, fully worthy of all the hype it recieves. If you have not read or seen it, you should.)
The play found a way to make me feel good about myself, if only in knowing that even Eve Ensler, famous feminist playwrite and activist, also has body image issues she just can't shake.
Unfortunately, I was hoping for something a little more powerful.
She explores the issue by travelling the world, and writing monologues as everyone from Helen Gurley Brown to an African villager.
Ensler suggests that most women in the world are more obsessed with their often distorted perception of one small part of their body than they are with any other aspect of their lives. For that matter, they are more fixated on that one body part than they are on world hunger, peace, or homelessness. They are more fixated on that one body part than they are on acheiving health, happiness or success. If they could have one wish, regardless of age, nationality, race, sex, economic class or social standing, it is to lose weight.
We fixate on our stomaches, our boobs, our legs, our noses. If we choose to mutilate ourselves and "fix" this perfectly functional body part to make it more how we'd imagine we'd like it to be, we then fixate on a new part of our bodies to dislike. We inundate ourselves with images of "good" bodies, and then punish ourselves for not looking like that, even though our concious minds are fully aware that those images are faked and 'shopped to look the way they do. Even the most radical feminist of us self-punishes this way. No wonder we aren't leading corporations and political parties as often as we should. We're too busy dieting.
In the preface Eve writes, "...when one out of three women in the world will be beaten or raped in her lifetime, why write a play about my stomach?" Eve then answers herself, "...because my stomach is one thing I feel I have control over, or maybe because I have hoped that my stomach is something I could get control over."
Control. Women are obsessed with control. Maybe it is because we have felt out of control for so many generations. A lack of choice makes you feel controlled. We are obsessed with controling our food. Our bodies. Eating disorders are the worst side of this, extreme dieting the middle of the road, diet soda the everyday. It is distorted that we believe we are in control by doing this. Then we wish for greater self-control. More discipline. If only.
We've been told we're equals, but perhaps because this isn't really true, and we don't have enough control over any other aspect of our lives, we obsess over the wrong things - things that don't need controlling. Our bodies are fine as they were made.
The play will help you to feel idiotic for wasting any of your precious mental resources on such a dalliance. It does it as well as the Beauty Myth, which is similar in message, though stronger in delivery.
It helps to comisserate with other women, to feel a part of something, to relate. Where the play falls flat is in the stereotypes - the "skinny bitch" makes a few to many appearances while the negative self talk gets tiring and a bit depressing. The author never resolves this and never finds a way out; "...here's what I think I've learned so far: In order to be good, I've got to be a smiling psychopath, deprived of pretzels, deeply involved with a Nazi trainer, fortunately numb from the botulinism, white vanilla fat sucked out with rods, and my pussy tightened."

Certainly cathartic, the play would be enjoyable to see in order to have the feelings of a shared experience. Standing alone, it is missing any reasonable solutions for overcoming the very problems it highlights.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Illustrator of the Month - September

This month's featured illustrator has her own very inspired and inspiring blog right here. It's called A Print A Day and the artist, Yasmine Surovec posts bunches of free downloadable prints all the time...well, almost daily as the title would suggest. It also contains all sorts of other inspiring goodies so it is worth checking out regularily. A Print A Day encourages the use of the posted free images in craft projects and sometimes even posts the results of reader's efforts! Good times.

A prolific artist who can produce a pile of great work, Surovec states that she started the blog as a way to challenge herself creatively by creating a surface print every day. Yasmine is an apparel and textile designer based in the San Francisco Bay area, as well as being the publisher, editor, designer, writer and illustrator of Parasol Magazine. She has 10+ years in the design, illustration, advertising & marketing industries. Parasol is a free, downloadable pdf magazine dedicated to promoting design + art + creative lifestyles and small business.

Lately she's been interested in Lace:

(as always, please click these lovelies to see in full size and detail)

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Ms. Piggy was always my favourite

Go Girl

Maybe if more women had these Women's washrooms would not be so disgusting.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Today's "I Want to Smash Something" Moment

Courtesy of parentdish.com:

"Style." "Interesting." "Music." "Flash." "Up and Down." "Go Round and Round."

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


I have written about Madonna here before so you know that I am a fan of what MTV has coined the "Dark Era" - "...a period that runs roughly from the release of The Immaculate Collection in 1990 to her disastrous appearance on "Late Night With David Letterman" in 1994. This was when she tackled the politics of sexuality head-on — whether it be with the "Justify My Love" video, or the "Sex" book, or the Erotica album — and got down and dirty (the "Deeper and Deeper" video, the "Body of Evidence" movie) and basically wasn't afraid of offending anyone ever."

I have to say I am happily amused by the new video for Celebration, directed by longtime Madonna collaborator Jonas Ã…kerlund. He also directed Madge's Music (which features a cameo by Ali G) as well as a tonne of other smutty, fun videos including Prodigy's Smack My Bitch Up (which was banned from MTV) and Lady Gaga's Paparazzi (which is worth a watch even if you hate the song). The video does not disappoint - crotch flashing, pussy touching, little Lola busting a serious move, even Madonna and her tweener-maybe-he's-gay-hilariously-named -boytoy Jesus getting steamy. A throwback if you will, to a racier time in her career. And the song is a four-on-the-floor club banger produced by Dj Paul Oakenfold, so you know it will be fun to shake your ass to.

To me it is easily the most exciting video Madge has released since the Dark Era.

PS/I really want those boots.