Teen Rape: Hilarious!

Another entry in my evidently ongoing “Rape is Hilarious” series, care of Timbuk2, hawker of hipster bags:

Note to Timbuk2: If a man “steals” a woman’s virginity, it’s called rape. Even if it is “prom night” or whatevthefuck an underage-looking girl in a tacky party dress is meant to represent.

Here’s the best part:

A post on the site NowPublic quotes a Timbuk2 representative as saying that the folks behind the ad considered “softening the copy to something like… ‘just like that guy who never called…’” but noted that “The powers that be didn’t think it packed the same punch… or was as funny.” And boy, it certainly would be a shame not to mine “stolen” virginity for all the laughs you can.

Oh, indeed. With comedy gold like “Look at the greasy bastard who raped a young girl and got away with it!” waiting in the wings, you don’t want to settle for anything less.

The company also says they were “happy to see that ad go out.” Yeah, I can see why. There’s a lot of which to be proud there, you disgusting wankstains. It’s just bloody genius to turn rape—oh, excuse me: stolen sex—into a punchline to sell your crappity little bags. If you were really smart, though, you’d have included a matching ball gag and free rufie with every purchase. Those fuckers would have flown off the shelves.

Aside from everything else that’s wrong with this ad, I’m also aggravated to see yet another image of a woman who was raped looking sad, isolated, and ashamed—because the last thing we fucking need is more imagery designed to suggest the singular model for women who were raped is weepy-shamed-destroyed-helpless, to which they’re forcibly conformed by judgment, mockery, threat, or simply the ludicrous expectation that rape victims should behave that way, not just right afterwards, but forever. The last thing we fucking need is support for the idea that women who were raped shouldn’t be sardonic, or defiant, or frank, lest they pique the ire of demented assholes who evidently love rape so much that they will go to extraordinary lengths to try to silence women who speak openly about its horrors.

The problem with shit like this: It’s one ad, and there are plenty of people who will look at this one ad and decide it’s defensible. Or that one ad. Or that other ad over there. Or this TV show. Or that movie. Or this radio program. Or that comedy bit. Or this rape joke. Or that rape joke. Or another rape joke over here. Or that guy saying he got “raped” by the IRS. Or that guy having sex with his date who drank too much and passed out. Or these guys who gang-raped an unconscious girl and blamed her for it.

It’s part of a rape culture from which it cannot be extricated. All of it contributes, all of it desensitizes, all of it enables, all of it is garbage. Dangerous, toxic garbage. We breathe it in like any other pollutant. And the inevitable result of letting it accumulate is the same as with any other poison—eventually, someone gets hurt.

218 Comments

Filed under 01_shakespeares_sister

218 responses to “Teen Rape: Hilarious!

  1. katecontinued

    Melissa, wonderful expose as usual. When you were a wee baby we used to send offensive ads, commercials and teevee images/scripts to MS magazine. The magazine featured all of these examples of sexist, outrageous crap on the back page. I felt it had an effect to shine this light. The backlash was poor corporate advertisers crying about the PC police.

    Today there is so much everywhere I look, I don’t know how to even edit.

  2. Melissa McEwan

    Today there is so much everywhere I look, I don’t know how to even edit.

    Tell me about it.

    One Saturday a couple of weeks ago, I decided I was going to keep track of all the rape references I heard and/or rape imagery I saw in a single day, and then write a post about it. I got to about 2:00, and I just broke down in tears at the sight of my list.

    And that was just specific to rape; if I’d tried to document all the misogynistic shit I saw, I’d have lost it by 9:00am.

    That’s why I always just have to laugh when misogynists accuse feminists of “looking for” things about which to be offended. 1. Misogyny is so fucking pervasive, no one has to look for it! 2. I can’t speak for anyone else, but if I actually spent my days actively paying attention to every example of misogyny around me, I would be a profoundly unhappy woman. Like, not just bitchy or grumpy, but paralyzingly depressed. I would guess that most women, even feminists, probably have to go out of their way to avoid consciously reacting to every bit of misogyny, or they would go quite insane.

    I write about the things I can’t not write about. If I wrote about all the things that bothered me, I’d never sleep.

  3. Marc

    I get the impression the tryst was consensual, but the woman feels bad about it later since the guy turned out to be a cad. Being a cad isn’t very nice, but isn’t up there with rape.

    Not saying Date Rape doesn’t occur, just that situations where a woman might use ‘stolen virginity’ might not strictly equate to rape; more like a ‘stolen kiss’.

    IMO, I have very strict touch issues, so I actually DO feel a stolen kiss equates to rape; I just don’t see that the rest of the world should agree with me.

  4. Melissa McEwan

    Um, Marc–the ad wasn’t written by “the woman.”

  5. bluestockingsrs

    No, not Timbuk2, too!

    Now I have to write an email.

    And buy a different bag. And backpack. And other messenger beg for law school.

    Bastards.

  6. Melissa McEwan

    the ad wasn’t written by “the woman”

    Just to expand on that thought: The ad wasn’t written from the woman’s perspective, so it’s not “her perception” that her virginity was stolen; it’s presented as objective fact. The “jerk who stole your virginity.”

    A “stolen kiss,” btw, typically refers to secret (and consensual) kisses, not kissing someone against his/her will. Which itself can be considered sexual assault, depending on the situation. It’s not a matter of what you or I think, or to what we equate it; it’s a matter of law.

    Also, FWIW, parroting the whole “she cried rape because she regretted it afterwards” thing is just tired.

  7. Melissa McEwan

    Bluestockingsrs–Here’s the contact info:

    customerservice@timbuk2.com or pr@timbuk2.com

    1-800-865-2513

  8. Susan

    Even if you take the rape angle out (and I won’t because I agree with you), I don’t even understand how this ad is supposed to convince someone to part with their money.

    Timbuk2: We think “Love” is some creepy guy who doesn’t stick around. Buy our bags because they’re just like that.

  9. Melissa McEwan

    Timbuk2: We think “Love” is some creepy guy who doesn’t stick around. Buy our bags because they’re just like that.

    LOL – Totally.

  10. bluestockingsrs

    Thanks, Melissa.

    Sigh. It just isn’t even funny. And there are so many pleasant fleeting ideas that would have appealed to the demographic.

    “Buy one of these bags before it is no longer on offer just like the commitment the guy you first had sex made to you.”

    Plus, it is really man-hating too. Like all men are out to “steal” sex from women, rather than obtaining it through, I don’t know, consent by all parties.

    eww, just ew.

  11. stekatz

    Not only that, their bags are obscenely overpriced and the staff at their Hayes Valley store in San Francisco are beyond arrogant.

    And this tasteless ad is just reason number 3 not to buy one of their bags. Even if you don’t see the rape undercurrents, this is just plain stupid. I also have issue with the assertion that stolen virginity is somehow a typical and to be expected rite of passage for young women. Like we’re all supposed to nod our heads and relate to this crap in some Sex in the City female bonding kind of way.

    Hipsters, blech! I’m tired of Hipsters! They can take their Timbuk2 bags and American Apparel shirts and stick it.

  12. SAP

    You know the sad part about this?

    An ad like this has to be approved on so many levels before it ever sees the light of day. Managers and vice-presidents, then the client’s representatives, as well as any respective legal minds – a whole cornucopia of people had this ad in front of them and didn’t even think twice before they signed off on it.

    I think that depresses me even more, now that I think about it.

  13. bluestockingsrs

    OK, email sent.

    Now I need the money to replace all three Timbuk2 bags I own.

    Bastards.

  14. Sartre

    I see this differently. The word “stole” is often used in colloquial expressions where it’s obviously not meant to be taken literally. “She stole my heart”. “The couple stole a kiss under the oak tree”. Lucinda Williams has a song called “Steal Your Love”. So I don’t believe the ad is implying rape. But I do agree that it is a tasteless and probably ineffective sales ad.

  15. Kathy Kattenburg

    “The guy who stole your virginity” is not analogous to “she stole my heart” or “stealing a kiss.”

    It’s very depressing that an ad like this — or whatever it might be, an article, a talk radio show, whatever — cannot be called for what it is, or for what it clearly implies, without people feeling the need to justify it somehow, or say that it really isn’t what it plainly is.

    And btw, my daughter is at her senior prom right now, as we type — and although I know who she’s with and I know she’s fine, the association of “prom” with “date rape” is not one I want to think about right now.

  16. Melissa McEwan

    I see this differently.

    Stealing a heart or stealing a kiss are considered consensual–and generally positive (romantic)–things. Stealing a woman’s virginity is in no way associated with either of those concepts, which seems wholly undebatable particularly when the woman in question is crying.

  17. Sartre

    Well, I wouldn’t rule out the possibility that in this fictitious situation the girl was raped. But, the message it sent to me was that the guy lied or otherwise mislead her about his feelings toward her, used her for sex and then didn’t call her or shortly thereafter dumped her. This is a common thing, especially in high school and early twenties. And in that situation, there is a good chance the girl would be crying because frankly, she was led to believe the guy cared for her when infact he was just using her for sex. So anyway, the ad didn’t say rape to me at all, but that’s me.

    One song that came to mind where the colloquial “steal” or “stole” was not positive nor romantic nor meant to be taken literally is Rod Stewart’s Maggie May.

    Wake up Maggie I think I got something to say to you
    It’s late September and I really should be back at school
    I know I keep you amused but I feel I’m being used
    Oh Maggie I couldn’t have tried any more
    You lured me away from home just to save you from being alone
    You stole my heart and that’s what really hurt

  18. Here’s some good news.

    I just Googled the term “rape artist” and it resulted in only 3,210 results.

    It has only been in recent history that this ridiculous term has faded from popular use.

    Most young people today have never heard the term. I recall reading it in the newspaper when I was growing up and I’m 46.

    But, here’s the bad news.

    http://rapeblog.actiondev.com/

    (Warning: The “blog” listed above is pornographic and highly offensive.)

  19. Melissa McEwan

    This is a common thing, especially in high school and early twenties.

    You know what else is a common thing, especially in high school and early twenties?

    Being raped.

    I find it fucking unbelievable that anyone would defend this ad. “Stealing” doesn’t mean coercion or trickery. It means taking without permission. And when you take sex from someone without her permission, that’s called rape.

  20. Mamasquab

    So the idea behind the ad is that “you” are now way too sophisticated to go out with a greaser who will take advantage of you, and besides, look at that truly ugly prom dress? Good to know it’s only the young, naive, bad-tast-in-clothes chicks who let themselves get raped.

    Bastards.

  21. Pingback: Rapist Bags! Hilarious! « Objectify This

  22. Sartre

    I did not defend the ad. I actually called it tasteless and ineffective. I am simply not defending your interpretation of it. Just like when Morrissey titles a song “You Have Killed Me”, yet he is still alive today. And within the song he says,
    As I live and breathe
    You have killed me
    You have killed me
    Yes, I walk around somehow
    But you have killed me
    You have killed me

    If taken literally, this is a contradiction. Yet we accept it because we know that we are not meant to take it literally. It is play on words. As I believe is this ad.

  23. Pingback: “She did this to herself.” at Pandagon

  24. Oh, Sartre, fuck off. There’s a large difference between metaphor in a song and reinforcing date rape with advertising devoted to recycling patriarchal horseshit as humor.

  25. Here’s what i believe is the “inspiration” for this disgusting ad.

    There is a specific genre of porn that depicts teenage girls being raped by grungy guys in cars.

    Often these videos have a “prom night” theme.

    The only real difference between the two ads shown above is the graphic images in the porn ad. Look at the image of the young woman being assaulted on the hood of the red car. It is very similar to the image of the man in the Timbuk2 ad.

    We’ve entered an era in which porn fantasies are merging with major ad campaigns!

    What kind of twisted freak came up with this ad concept? Is it difficult to imagine that he’s one of the men who watch “rape fantasy” porn?

  26. Fritz, you need a trigger warning, I think.

  27. katecontinued

    Fritz, beyond the twisted freak who came up with the ad idea . . .

    As SAP points out, so many people have to sign off on it. Wouldn’t you think that process would have short-circuited the twisted freak?

  28. Sartre

    Excuse me, are we not allowed to have a difference of opinion? Wow.

  29. Wouldn’t you think that process would have short-circuited the twisted freak?

    From my experience, many people are ignorant about such issues.

    Here’s an example. When I worked in the marketing department at Kinko’s Inc., everyone up to the V.P. signed off on Moby taping a music video (We are All Made of Stars) at our Hollywood Blvd. store.

    When I saw the video, I immediately recognized porn actor Ron Jeremy using one of our copy machines. No one else even knew who he was.

    My boss was stunned to learn that they’d agreed to let Moby tape a porn actor in what could clearly be recognized as a Kinko’s — get it “Kinko’s” sounds like “kinky.”

    Later, Moby said some unflattering things about the store in interviews. Apparently, there is an urban legend that strippers and porn stars hook up with rock musicians in that store while they’re making fliers.

  30. oddjob

    Sartre, you’ll sooner or later find that difference of opinion is accepted, but rape is a topic many posters & commenters here have very strong feelings about, so if you hold firmly to some opinions you’ll get blasted sooner or later.

    Just the nature of the audience.

    I rarely comment in rape discussions because of those feelings and also because, to my knowledge, I neither have personal experience nor have known someone personally (face to face) who was a rape victim. I realize there are many, many more women in America who have been raped in some way than most of us who have not been raped realize, but nonetheless to my knowledge I have no experience with this and so have nothing much to offer. I read the discussions because they educate me, but I have little to say.

  31. Sartre

    Thank you oddjob for your insight. I of course would never speak from a point of personal experience or expertise on the subject of rape, nor did I. If that were the subject at hand, I would read and not post. Instead this was about the article’s implications, so I voiced my opinion about that subject and said that to me the ad did not imply rape. This is poetic license, to use the phrase loosely because this ad aint poetry. It’s the same as when Nirvana literally exclaims, “Rape Me” yet Mr. Cobain did not really want to be raped. And it’s the same as when Morrissey said “You Have Killed Me” when he wasn’t really dead. The phrase “Stole my virginity” is of course not meant to be taken literally. It would make as much sense for a mother to be offended when someone uses the term “rob the cradle”. “…Wait a minute, are you advocating stealing babies from cradles???”. Of course not. Colloquialisms. IN MY HUMBLE OPINION.

  32. katecontinued

    You know what I would love to hear from the men of Shakesville? Share with us what you were taught (overtly or implied) by coaches, fathers, brother, friends, teachers, sisters?

    There is a radio commercial I hear all the time on Air America with the narrator talking about teaching his son to hit a ball, hit the books, hit the field (you get the idea). The narrator then says something like, “What do you tell your son not to hit? That is never okay to hit a woman . . .” Fine commercial.

    I am asking sincerely because I don’t know that in my almost sixty years have I ever heard much by men, for men, about men abusing women. Why?

    I am not attacking you, oddjob. Your comment merely tickled this stream of thoughts. Thanks

  33. oddjob

    No, I realize you aren’t attacking me, and that’s an excellent suggestion. I’m not sure I’m the best candidate for recollections because my dad was pretty quiet on sexual matters, but what I saw by example was that while it’s okay to be grumpy or surly (he often expressed his job frustrations at home, not necessarily in a contemptuous way, but he wasn’t especially patient with the three of us kids), it wasn’t okay to hit your wife. No matter how unhappy he got, he simply never did that.

    However, while he hasn’t ever told me very much, I know as a boy he was once molested by a strange man on a public bus, and I also have the impression he received rather vigorous corporal punishment when he was little. I don’t know if that qualifies as abuse or not, but I have suspected it, and so has my mom.

  34. christen

    Hmmm. The whole ad is just skanky. The dude is a dirty wife-t wearing dirtbag and the weepy chick is in a bad mightmarish Carrie promgown and Courtney Love brand smeared mascara. It’s trite and fake, and those bags are dreadful and over priced.
    You’re better off buying the fake D&G and Prada purses from the Merchant Marine guys who come to meet their gay college pals over on Castro Street. They would tell you that commercial is redundant, pointless, and insulting.
    As far as rape and its societal causes, yes. It all causes it, this world is a sad mirage where girls think they are safe and in control, but at any given moment, a civilized situation can degenerate to the lawless Wild West. Women should be in a posistion to defend themselves at all time. Any means necessary. :)

  35. Share with us what you were taught (overtly or implied) by coaches, fathers, brother, friends, teachers, sisters?

    Many boys are told never to hit a female. However, a good percentage of them see their fathers (or their mother’s boyfriends) hitting their mothers and sisters.

    They learn from example.

  36. stekatz

    No. You are not allowed to have a difference of opinion. Rape is horrible violent act committed mostly by men to mostly women. Nobody gets to have the opinion that it’s okay. Ever. Under any circumstances. You want the freedom to say what you want? Then go to that little booth at the airport and apologize for rapists and their porn industry fans all you want. Go peddle your philosophical “I’m just trying to be the rational, logical one here” crap somewhere else.

    Rape is not funny. Rape is not philosophical. Rape is not art. Rape is not advertisement fodder. Rape is not open for debate.

    Rape is a crime. Rape is a violent act.

    And “Just the nature of the audience?” WTF? You may as well say “just the nature of those crazy women who can’t take a joke.” Yes, just like those nutty Holocaust survivors who can’t take an innocent death camp joke.

    I am sick to death of having to justify being upset about rape when frankly I think it’s the only reaction any sane person could have about it. It’s those of you who want to discuss it the same way you’d discuss what to have for dinner whose sanity should be in question.

    Women who have been raped are rapidly losing patience with idiots on these types of forums who have never had such a horrid experience trying to speak with authority on the subject.

    I would bet this ad would trigger most if not all women who have been raped. That’s all the empirical evidence required that this ad is a piece of shit. Since you’re fond of quoting, I’ll give you one from Thelma & Louise. “When a woman’s crying like that, she’s not having any fun!”

  37. Here’s the problem with the “stole your heart” analogy:

    It’s a fucking metaphor. When someone says “he stole my heart”, we all know that he did not literally open up your chest and remove your cardiac muscle in any way, shape, or form.

    “Stole your virginity” is not a metaphor: it’s just a description we don’t use very often anymore (like calling intestinal gas “the vapors”–it still refers to the same physical condition even though we find the term “quaint” or “archaic”.) But “he stole my virginity” really means only one thing: he had sex with a virgin against her will.

    Note the difference between “stole my virginity” and the much, much more common description “lost my virginity”:
    “I lost my virginity” = “I had sex”
    “He stole my virginity” = “he made me have sex when I didn’t want to”

    Now, I will admit that it is entirely possible to use that phrase in an ironic or facetious way, and I can see it being funny in that context. (Something like “I was a pure young maid of 35 when my 18-year-old boyfriend stole my virginity.”) However, “the jerk who stole your virginity” doesn’t have any of that facetious feel to me.

  38. Sartre

    My friends and I literally had a gun pulled out on us one night when we pulled over to help a woman who was arguing with and getting hit by some guy on the street. The woman screamed for us to leave them alone. I’m sure she did this for our safety and so that her “man” wouldn’t go to jail. We took off and called the cops. It was all we could do. So, yes, I am definitely opposed to the abuse of women, children, men, cats, dogs, anyone.

  39. oddjob

    I agree that outrage is a sane reaction, and had no intention of implying otherwise.

  40. Sartre

    Nobody gets to have the opinion that it’s okay. Ever. Under any circumstances.
    WTF???????????
    Let’s at least debate about the same thing for efficiency’s sake! No one even remotely questioned whether rape is right or wrong. Communication breaks down when people aren’t even arguing about the same thing.

  41. Pingback: Rape Self-Defense Class

  42. stekatz

    No. Communication breaks down when one member of the debate invests his ego in winning. You just want to have a difference of opinion only for the sake of debate itself. If you’ve never had a personal experience with rape, and you’ve never personally known anyone who has been raped, why do you have such a vested interest in debating this topic? Seems to me it shouldn’t interest you in the slightest.

    What exactly would you like to communicate to rape victims about this ad? What would you like to offer to rape victims who feel triggered by this ad? What would you like to give women in general who must deal daily with references to violent sexuality? Does your insistence on debate and reason and efficiency and free speech in this thread serve the purpose of making those of us who deal with end result of sexual violence feel better about the ad? Or does it serve the purpose of making you the big shot who doesn’t fall for those yucky emotional reactions to things because you’re the calm, reasonable one?

    What’s your angle? Why are you here? I’m here because I hate rape and references to rape and violent sexual acts in all their forms. I’m here because I read daily about violent sexual acts. I’m here because I have a young daughter soon to be prom age. I’m here because I don’t believe any woman needs to have her sexuality stolen from her and then have it be a joke. I’m here because I’m sick to my stomach after reading about yet another gang rape committed by a sports team where justice will not be served. I’m here because I’ve also had to look at that god awful fashion ad where the woman is prone on the ground surrounded by half naked men.

    Rape is not just the act; it’s the culture. Until people realize that every image, every joke, every subltle suggestion, every veiled threat, every fantasy, every advertisement contributes to the horrific act itself, than it is rape we’re debating.

  43. PortlyDyke

    But, the message it sent to me was that the guy lied or otherwise mislead her about his feelings toward her, used her for sex and then didn’t call her or shortly thereafter dumped her. This is a common thing, especially in high school and early twenties. And in that situation, there is a good chance the girl would be crying because frankly, she was led to believe the guy cared for her when infact he was just using her for sex.

    Oh, well, that’s soooo much better — I guess I’ll buy their handbag now (except that I’m unremittingly butch and “tits on a bull” and all that stuff).

    My ‘puter is acting up, so this may post long after others have said the thing, but I would say to oddjob — I would bet you $5 million dollars that you do personally know — face-to-face — someone who has been raped. They probably just haven’t told you about it. It doesn’t generally come up in pleasant conversation.

    To me, whether the add is about date-rape or just men who “use women for sex” (ackk! gag!! Did I just say “just”?) — the ad demeans both men and women — overtly and directly. I would not buy one of their bags if I were the highest of high femmes.

  44. If you’ve never had a personal experience with rape, and you’ve never personally known anyone who has been raped, why do you have such a vested interest in debating this topic?

    My boyfriend was violently raped when he was a child. He was also forced to witness his sister being raped.

    He can’t talk about it without trembling.

    His account of what happened to him and his sister is so horrible it gave me nightmares.

    Shortly after he told me what had happened, I was watching The Family Guy and they had a bit about an old man trying to molest the paperboy. In the past, I would have laughed. But, I don’t think that kind of thing is funny anymore.

  45. Sartre

    Why would I not be concerned with rape? No, it has not happened to me and yes I two friends who have been victims of it. However, if I knew no victims of this terrible act I would still be concerned with it. I don’t think one should wait until she/he us a victim of a crime to be concerned about it. Why am I here? Do you mean on this website or this article? I’ve been here for a few months now and usually just read and rarely post anything at all except when a Morrissey topic or something that particularly impassions me comes up. I apologize if what I have said offended you or if I came across as cavalier about the subject, nothing could be further from the truth. I insist on reason and logic because I firmly believe they are the only things we can rely on to lead us to the truth! So again, I apologize if I offended you. Consider the subject dropped.

  46. oddjob

    I would bet you $5 million dollars that you do personally know — face-to-face — someone who has been raped. They probably just haven’t told you about it. It doesn’t generally come up in pleasant conversation.

    I wouldn’t take the bet. I tried to indicate (probably not well enough) I think you’re probably right.

  47. PortlyDyke

    Sartre: “I insist on reason and logic because I firmly believe they are the only things we can rely on to lead us to the truth!

    So, reason and logic me this, Jean-Paul (using only your own arguments and objections to Sis’ original post):

    A. An ad equates the disappearance of a man who, by your own admission, gives you the impression that he “used a woman for sex” as equal to the importance of the “soon-to-be-gone” handbag (in other words, it’s no big deal when someone “uses you for sex”.)

    B. The ad further states “we call it limited edition, you’ll call it love”. (IOW, when a man uses you for sex and then leaves you, that’s “love”.)

    Test Question #1: How do these advertising “connectives” convey the message that men using women for sex is so commonplace and natural that women should just think of it as casually as they would a handbag purchase?

    Test Question #2: How does this ad convey to men the message that women will weep pitifully, but eventually, they’ll just buy a handbag and get over the fact that you “stole their virginity” in the “colloquial sense”?

    Test Question #3: In 100 words or less, either support or refute this statement: This ad supports the concept that women are expendable and usable receptacles for male sexual activity.

    Your own namesake said:
    “Words are more treacherous and powerful than we think.”

  48. PortlyDyke

    Wow! No response from the “logical/reasonable” posters.

    I’m so suprised!

  49. PortlyDyke

    Damn — can’t edit posts –

    “surprised”

  50. oddjob

    Ok, now that I’m at a computer where I can see the ad, my only question is why anyone trying to sell a handbag to a lady/young lady/girl (whichever works best) would expect this ad to work? I’m sure I’m missing the point, but it’s so misogynistic! Whether it’s “rape” or not, I can’t see any message – overt or subvert – that doesn’t DELIBERATELY exploit fear and insecurity, all while affirming that young women are supposed to feel that way as if it’s the natural way of the world!

    It’s breathtakingly awful!

    If Shrub were an ad man of sufficient talent, this is exactly what he would think up!

  51. Time-Machine

    I…hate to get involved in this, but oh well. Here goes. (I am going to regret this)

    I don’t recall Sartre ever claiming that the ad was tasteful. I think he made it pretty clear he doesn’t like it. (I personally am horrified by it). While the word “just” was used, I don’t think he meant to imply that using a woman for sex is at all appropiate ever. That’s not how I read it.

    To me, all he was debating was whether the intention of the ad was to make a joke about rape, questionging possible interpretations of the phrase “stolen virginity”. Because while it is almost as evil, and certainly misogynistic, manipulating and using a woman for sex and rape are not the same thing. There is a difference. Namely, violence or force of some sort. Consenting to sex with some bastard who claims he loves you just to get into your pants and being drugged or violently forced into such activity is not the same.

    No one’s debating whether rape is right or wrong, as far as I can tell. No one is debating whether manipulative bastards are funny. As far as I can tell, everyone hates this ad. No one is trying to justify it. The only debate is whether the term “stolen virginity” implicitly means rape.

    And personally, I doubt that’s what the advertisers intended. It’s stupid that no one thought of it, and it should have never been made into an ad because it is offensive in either case, and if you have been raped that is probably the first thing you are going to think of upon seeing this ad.

    But if you haven’t been raped, it might not. I’m willing to bet the people who made this ad have never been raped, and didn’t take into consideration…well…anything, when making the ad.

    Which is why the ad is offensive as all-get-out.

  52. Time-Machine

    Wow! No response from the “logical/reasonable” posters.

    I’m so suprised!

    And PortlyDyke, you made a post at 11:30 at night (my time, don’t know what it is your time) and waited two hours in the middle of the night before claiming that people had given up because of your outwitting.

    It’s entirely possible that people just went to sleep. Or back to some other part of their lives. It’s the middle of night. The world is not sitting and waiting for you or anyone else to post something just so they can some up with a witty response. Give it more than two hours before declaring victory.

    Actually, don’t jump out and declare victory at all. If you really were victorious (and I think you made an excellent post, with beautiful and legitmate arguments that I couldn’t agree more with, and would really argue that it was a very victorious one) then it will speak for itself. You don’t have to declare it. Doing so just makes any intelligent observing you were able to accomplish look sophmoric. Don’t sell yourself out like that. You were made for better things, if your poat is any indication.

  53. Pingback: you are so good to me eggplant mike - ...

  54. A. An ad equates the disappearance of a man who, by your own admission, gives you the impression that he “used a woman for sex” as equal to the importance of the “soon-to-be-gone” handbag (in other words, it’s no big deal when someone “uses you for sex”.)

    Dyke, that’s what the ad is saying. Sartre didn’t write the ad, nor has he defended it on anything other than that, in his opinion, it isn’t about a rape.

  55. Annie

    Further, I don’t think Sartre is claiming that it is actually true that a guy “using a woman for sex” is “no big deal,” but rather that there exists a cultural . . . I don’t know what you would call it, a meme? An idea that such a thing will happen and is just part of life. And an idea that it’s actually a rite of passage for young women. Like what Stekatz wrote — women are supposed to shake their heads and bond over this in a “Sex and the City” kind of way. I know why he’s riling people up, but I really, really find it difficult to believe that this message hasn’t been pounded into your heads the way it’s been pounded into mine.

    From what I’ve read, Sartre isn’t saying, “This ad was a good idea!” He’s saying that the “bad boy leaving a nice girl” theme is a huge part of our culture, and even a huge part of what our culture thinks is romantic, Pretty-in-Pink and Love-Actually-style, and that it makes sense to think that this ad may have been inspired by that particular portion of our culture. And as others have said, that doesn’t mean the ad isn’t tasteless and misogynistic, it just means that it might be inspired by a slightly different element of a tasteless and misogynistic culture.

  56. justicewalks

    A notorious rape apologist said, in defense of another rape apologist:

    Dyke, that’s [being used, not interacted with, mind, for someone else's stolen (was it for sale?) masturbatory and ejaculatory pleasure is no big deal, silly!] what the ad is saying. Sartre didn’t write the ad, nor has he defended it on anything other than that, in his opinion, it isn’t about a rape.

    This is exactly what all rape apologists since the beginning of time have said about all situations that have ever been called rape by people more intimately familiar with the circumstances. They simply deny that it’s rape, call it some variation of sex (rough, dirty, hard, casual, wild, drunken, what have you), and congratulate themselves on their logic.

    These sorts should know that you don’t actually have to say the word ‘rape’ to be an apologist for it. It’s similar to the way lynch mobs, and their friends and family who never questioned too stringently the whereabouts of their loved ones and dutifully washed the the white “sheets,” most assuredly had euphemisms for their little gatherings (settin’ uppity darkies straight, defending their honor, purifying the neighborhood, what have you). Those euphemisms don’t change the fact or the nature of the lynchings, though, regardless of how effective they might have been with the juries of that time.

    The popularity of a given opinion (such as the pro-rape/lynching perspective of many juries) is no indication that it is grounded in superior logic or morality. It just means it’s common.

  57. To katecontinued’s question about what fellows learned growing up, I respond at length as follows.

    I recall an incident in the 5th grade where a guy made a point of forcibly pulling down a girl’s pants to humiliate her. This shocked me; what shocked me more was when I related the matter to my father, who said it was no big deal. I am sad to say my respect for my father dropped that day, though my respect for him later increased on other issues.

    When I was 18, I was completely clueless about sexual violence. I had gone to an all-guys high school, did not date and had no sisters or female cousins with whom I was close. So when I heard about sexual violence, harassment and predation being pervasive, of course I thought it was all bullshit. It was not part of my known universe; my friends had not experienced it (actually wrong), my classmates had not experienced it in high school (wrong), my family had not suffered it (wrong) or committed it (wrong!). It was a Take Back the Night march when I was 19, spring 1988 that first radicalized me. And 89, 90, 91. You cannot unfry an egg and that egg got fried.

    I would later find out that one of my extremely close relatives had in fact routinely sexually abused another close relative over a period of years. I would name the relations but I don’t have permission from the survivor to do so. Dealing with the issues surrounding this family reality probably cost me honors in law school, as I spent far more emotional energy in 1993-94 dealing with this than with law school. The perpetrator is employed by George W. Bush as an airman, and yes he admitted it when confronted. Had I not had the education from the Take Back the Night marches and related matters, my response to this year would have been completely idiotic and dangerously destructive rather than merely profoundly dysfunctional.

    In addition, two of my female cousins (at least) were sexually abused by the boyfriends/fiances of their mothers. A multitude of classmates of mine at Princeton were dealing with this reality. Sorry to go on at such length – I could go on much longer – but if you are not part of the class of survivors of this daily mass outrage, i.e. all women, some more than others, or closely interacting with that class, you are likely to be clueless.

  58. edenz

    Actually, I think that the phrase “stolen virginity” does imply more than just “bastard manipulated woman for sex”. Generally the phrase I’ve heard is “lost virginity”. And I can see where “lost” could be used to describe the manipulative bastard scenario, since there was no violence or force. Thinking about actual phyical objects (car, camera), you can lose something by being inattentive or distracted. However, if something is stolen that implies that permission was NOT given and the object was taken in a criminal act. If this is translated back to the realm of sex, that implies rape.

    Note: I am in no way condoning the cultural memes around “lost virginity” or implying that the manipulative bastard isn’t the one that is at fault in that scenario.

  59. Annie

    justicewalks — I don’t think that Sartre was arguing that actually “stealing” someone’s virginity isn’t rape. I think he’s just trying to point out that there is a particular kind of movie/TV show/other media in which a (young) female character goes after a “bad boy” and is then disappointed when he doesn’t stick around. That’s pretty gross and icky in and of itself, but that idea (of saving yourself, of ‘boys will be boys’, even of blaming the victim) is pervasive in our culture, and I don’t think it’s out-of-bounds to imagine that maybe Timbuk2 was referring to this use of the phrase. Is it already problematic that this phrase exists? Yeah, I think so. I think Sartre thinks so too. He’s just saying that there’s more than one use of this phrase, even if both are sexist and tasteless.

  60. As a regular reader and a man, I’ll chime in here too.

    I am not in any way defending this ad when I say this: The honest truth is that rape is not the first thing that came to mind when I saw it — even under Liss’s title for this post. It’s stupid and vulgar and insulting right off the bat, but still rape did not seem explicit to me as a theme in the ad.

    Which is why I come here to read Melissa’s posts. Because she explained exactly why the ad was trading on that theme and using the vile crime of rape to sell high-priced shit. So, I had to reexamine my initial, milder reaction to the ad. And start thinking about the ease with which this stuff is disseminated and accepted — and all the other problems Liss keeps hammering away at.

    Re the discussion above on the semantics of saying “stolen”: I think an attempt was being made by Sartre to ask himself, why did this ad not immediately spell r-a-p-e to me? (The same question I was asking myself.) And he was groping for a reason. Again, this is not a defense of the ad. I find it kind of insulting to visit here and have an honest discussion fall into fingerpointing and name calling. Disagree, by all means, but stick to the point.

    Re the question about how young men are taught to treat women: My parents did this by example. I know my parents did not leave my education to chance, or pop culture.

    Which brings up my reaction to the ad: It seems bizarre to me that the attitudes displayed in the Timbuk2 ad are still current. That is, the type of crap I grew up with (woman drivers, secretary jokes and cartoons — the whole “men’s magazine mentality”). How does this stuff still obtain? I shouldn’t be surprised given the coarse culture that we have, yet I am.

    Melissa, I feel for you but keep at it. We need ya.

  61. Melissa McEwan

    Excuse me, are we not allowed to have a difference of opinion? Wow.

    Sartre, we are allowed to have a “difference of opinion,” but you’ve got to understand that if you espouse an opinion that people think is crap, they’re allowed to call it crap. Furthermore, I’ve no interest in further perpetuating the rightwing tactic of pretending that all “opinions” are equal; someone who has no firsthand experience, or even intimate secondhand experience, with sexual abuse, nor has any academic background in sex abuse, has no authority on the issue, just his/her own perceptions. Which are valid as personal perceptions. But to assert that you’re infusing this discussion with “reason and logic,” and to behave as if there’s nothing for you to learn here, when present in the discussion is at least one person who is not only a sexual abuse survivor but a cultural anthropologist with an emphasis in gender, is unmitigated, condescending horseshit.

    And is profoundly antithetical to the progressive “reality-based community,” I might add, which values both expertise and individual experience.

    You claim that you “insist on reason and logic because [you] firmly believe they are the only things we can rely on to lead us to the truth!” and yet how reasonable or logical is it to continue to insist the image does not represent rape despite rape victims and non-rape victims alike, women and men alike, having perceived rape in the image? Dismissing out of hand that the image is thusly at minimum suggestive of rape to a variety of people is neither reasonable nor logical, friend.

    It is, however, incredibly patronizing. As was your silly nod to the lyrics of “You Have Killed Me,” which is wholly irrelevant for a host of reasons, but let’s go for the most obvious, shall we? If there were a still image of Mozza posed like a murdered corpse, covered in faux kinfe wounds and spilled blood, with the contextless line “You Have Killed Me,” no one would be faulted if they presumed the song were about an actual murder. The whole point about this ad is the visual; continually talking about the disembodied phrase “stole your virginity” as separate and unrelated to the associated image is poor form. The phrase can only be disinctly identified as “figurative” when it is divorced from the image, which provides the literalism. Extricating the two is useful in no way, as the ad is a single piece.

  62. Melissa McEwan

    So, I had to reexamine my initial, milder reaction to the ad. And start thinking about the ease with which this stuff is disseminated and accepted — and all the other problems Liss keeps hammering away at.

    You have no idea how much I needed to hear that. Thanks, Kev.

  63. My family has a few good eggs in it, but for the most part, I was told growing up that women make babies, clean the house, and shut up about it. It was usually given to me with a dose of derisive humor, similar to that displayed in this ad. My father, holy hell, don’t get me started. Ugh.

    I was also raised by strong women, like my mom and my sister, which made me understand the completely idiocy of it all.

  64. TinaH

    I’m still flabbergasted that a bunch of corporate ad execs think that stolen virginity is a clever thing to link a bag to. As one whose virginity was stolen through the clever use of emotional manipulation, my first thought when thinking back on that night is immediately “Yes, I must go buy a new handbag!”

    Assholes.

  65. Well, first of all, thanks to Melissa for calling these unbelievable creeps out.

    I had a few reactions to this ad, none of them good. But first I’d like to respond to the excellent question about how young men are taught to treat women. My parents — I suspect like most parents — had to work probably harder than they should’ve against many themes in popular culture to educate me and my brother when we were kids about how you treat women. But they lead by example, and my father never struck out at my mother, and the same was true for the other men in my family and my life (that I saw or was exposed to as a kid). Leading by example used to be the best way to teach our children to respect not just women, but one another.

    I’m not sure that’s true anymore. I think that the voice of advertising is gaining an ever-louder voice in our society. And if this is what we’re articulating with that voice, we’re in trouble.

    Which leads me to the ad. Of course they’re talking about rape, and frankly I can’t believe that fact has been debated as much as it has in these comments. Now, I’m a marketing/PR guy, so I look at stuff like this with an eye more critical than most. I have to wonder aloud: just how, exactly, is this supposed to sell handbags, or whatever? More than half of the ad is “skeezy faux-tough guy and crying girl in bad dress.” He raped her. What now? She goes and buys one of these crap’s ass bags? And that… makes her… *feel better*? Is this, in the collective mind of this company, win-win-win? Company sells bag, girls gets bag, guy gets laid? I’m ashamed as hell to say it, but only an ad person would see this as perfectly logical (not me, though; I see it as perfectly fucked up).

    Melissa — anyone — help me. I thought I was good at what I do, but maybe I’m missing something here.

    Advertisers who sell us stuff in a normal way (even stuff that might not be that good for us or our planet) know *how* to advertise. Ads for pickup trucks use a guy with a gravelly tone for the voice over and appeal to our masculine side. “If I buy a truck, I’ll be a man!” Ads for fast food show people savoring bean burritos and french fries like it’s the last thing they’ll ever eat. “Holy crap, I’m hungry!” Ads that want to sell us the latest gadgets show off their coolest features to edgy rock music. “I need an iPod!”

    Now, these guys want to sell handbags, so they go with… a guy raping a girl? “Well, if I get raped, at least I know where to buy a handbag!” Good lord.

    Let me echo everyone who has said that this gross societal practice we seem to be participating in of glorifying, glamorizing rape is sick, twisted, wrong, evil and very likely a symptom of a genuinely unhealthy society (I am not the cultural anthropologist — just the ad man).

    This company is guilty of exploiting sexual violence against women to increase the bottom line first and foremost. Someone ought to figure out who orchestrated their ad campaign and they ought to be boycotted, or at least called out on it. Expose the wizard behind the curtain — an ad person’s kryptonite.

    Thanks for the good work, Melissa.

  66. Arkades

    When the very best interpretation of the ad might be that it involves a man seducing, and then immediately discarding, a young woman, leaving her clearly emotionally distraught… well, it’s pretty obvious something awful has happened.
    The ad is about a young man sexually exploiting a young woman.
    We can (and some of us have been, obviously) argue the point whether it was rape (her virginity was stolen in a very literal sense) or seduction-and-abandonment (the theft was figurative, along the same lines as ‘you stole my heart’). But that’s largely a question of how sexually exploitive we are meant to believe the man has been. That he has sexually exploited her, to whatever extent, and that she regrets it, are evident in any framing of the ad.
    Face it, when even the most charitable assessment of the advertiser’s intentions would be to conclude that the woman was tricked and used for sex rather than forced into it, the underlying message is very, very ugly. The idea that such a level of misogyny could be effectively used as humor, much less to actually sell a product aimed at women, is frankly appalling.

    Hang onto the bag, since you couldn’t hang onto him? No thanks. Especially since it’s not particularly clear why one would want either one, now that such a revolting mental association has been made.

  67. Arkades

    One more thought: the advertisers could have played out the same theme of loss in the ad on a much less offensive level had they gone with the phrase ‘stole your heart’ or ‘broke your heart’ rather than ‘stole your virginity’. The fact that they chose to be unambiguously sexual with the word choice clearly means we are supposed to envision the characters in the ad in a sexualized way. The sense of revulsion (and, one presumes, sympathy?) one is meant to feel for the young woman is entirely calculated. Which makes me even less inclined to give the advertisers any benefit-of-the-doubt regarding the line they’re crossing.

  68. Melissa McEwan

    One more thought: the advertisers could have played out the same theme of loss in the ad on a much less offensive level had they gone with the phrase ’stole your heart’ or ‘broke your heart’ rather than ’stole your virginity’. The fact that they chose to be unambiguously sexual with the word choice clearly means we are supposed to envision the characters in the ad in a sexualized way.

    Absolutely right. And, as Dorothy pointed out above, “stole your heart” is a metaphor. No one’s literal heart is literally stolen. “Stole your virginity” is not. In its best case scenario, it means someone who was cajoled into having sex, but, importantly, it is also a euphemism for rape, in which one’s literal virginity is literally stolen. In practical terms, it doesn’t really matter what Timbuk2′s intent was; the reality is that “stole your virginity” is in fact a euphemism for rape which they chose to use in one of their adverts.

    And it was a deliberate choice. Note the statement from the company in the blockquote, above: A post on the site NowPublic quotes a Timbuk2 representative as saying that the folks behind the ad considered “softening the copy to something like… ‘just like that guy who never called…’” but noted that “The powers that be didn’t think it packed the same punch… or was as funny.”

  69. Annie

    Arkades — Thank you for saying what I thought/hoped I was trying to say much, much more clearly than I could. I think that’s what I’m getting at: any ads making use of sexual exploitation are appalling, to us, but there are a lot of people out in the world, looking at (and responding to, and purchasing based on) ads, and not all of them are being critical or skeptical, and not all of them are especially intelligent. Some of these people are going to look at this ad and think “stole your virginity” = “raped you”, and that’s awful, while some of these people are going to think “stole your virginity” = “broke your heart,” and still manage to recognize that the ad is awful. I think these people are all on the same “side” of the issue.

    What I’m worried about is a third group — those who interpret “stole your virginity” as equivalent to “broke your heart” and think that’s just fine and don’t think that it belongs in a category with sexual exploitation. There’s a reason why some commenters’ minds (including my own) jumped to the whole “bad boy ditches sweet naive girl — on prom night, no less!” storyline. It’s because we’re fed that storyline over and over again, uncritically, and some do a better job of not internalizing that message than others do. And while I agree that every woman, every man, every parent, every teacher, everybody, needs to be concerned about rape & sexual assault, those aren’t the only elements of our culture that thwart and pervert healthy sexual and social development for young women.

    I think this is maybe a different message of misyogyny and sexism, and I don’t think that someone pointing out that there are two different ways to approach problems like this (or even that there are two different underlying problems here) is necessarily saying that one or the other approach makes the end result “less bad.”

  70. justicewalks

    justicewalks — I don’t think that Sartre was arguing that actually “stealing” someone’s virginity isn’t rape.

    No, he was just saying that he didn’t think they actually meant ‘stealing,’ even though that’s the word they used.

    Now, why would you doubt the connotation of the word ‘stole’ in this situation, when you wouldn’t doubt it if they’d said, “Just like the jerk who stole your TV, these bags are only around for a short time.” Would we be sitting here debating whether or not the ad execs really intended for us to assume the TV was stolen, arguing that perhaps the teenaged girl pictured in tears simply gave him the TV and then regretted it.

    Searching around for excuses to misinterpret the word the ad execs deliberately chose (for what, aside from language translation issues, isn’t deliberate in advertising?) is searching around for a way to minimize the pro-rape implications of the ad.

  71. Yeah, “softening the copy,” sure. Whatever. I don’t buy that for even the tiniest fraction of a second. They’re ginning up controversy to raise their brand awareness. Beyond cynical and disgusting and gross and awful and really, if you think about it, not a little bit evil.

    Come on. No one’s going to look at that ad and say “Wow, ha! Funny! Stolen virginity, ha, yeah, funny guy, sad girl. Here today, gone tomorrow, wow, dangit, I *really* want one of those bags! I’d better get one!” No, the calculus does not add up. It’s apples and elephants. It’s not “punchy” and it’s not “funny,” it’s controversial and that’s their point. Which, when you add their twisted motive to the fact that they’ve blatantly exploited rape for marketing purposes, makes it all the worse.

  72. Melissa McEwan

    Annie, I understand what you’re saying, but as I said above, “stole your virginity” is in fact a euphemism for rape, even if you or others can additionally find other ways of construing it. Quite frankly, that there are so many people who read the term and don’t even consider that it’s a euphemism for rape proves my point about desensitization; it doesn’t contradict it.

    Secondly, another component of the ad is to suggest that an underage girl’s virginity was stolen by an adult man, not just “a bad boy.” Even the most charitable interpretation thusly leaves us with statutory rape.

    Finally, I just want to note that the “love ‘em and leave ‘em” interpretation is itself not separate from the rape culture, but informs the narrative in which women’s bodies are to be used at men’s pleasure, which is the very foundation on which the entire culture is built.

  73. oddjob

    What TinaH said! I don’t have her firsthand experience, but she said better now what I tried to say with my last comment last night.

    It just blows my mind………

  74. Annie

    justicewalks — I’m not trying to personally doubt the connotation of the word “steal,” I’m trying to point out that I’ve seen it used to mean what Sartre is taking it to mean dozens of times before. And I’m not saying that’s cool or okay or makes the ad dandy. I, like others here, have a big problem with the way society tries to minimize rape, and I think that the fact that I’ve heard this phrase used in this way before is a symptom of a problem, not an excuse for the problem. I’m not saying that “steal virginity” should mean something different than “steal a TV”, but that because more subtle forms of sexual exploitation are judged as acceptable by so many people, it effectively means something different (to at least a subset of viewers). I’m trying to say that rape and sexual assault isn’t the ONLY part of our society’s understanding of sexuality that is misrepresented by the media and by this ad in particular.

  75. oddjob

    “Well, if I get raped, at least I know where to buy a handbag!”

    And “I’ll call it LOVE“???????

    ?????????????????????????????????????

  76. Melissa McEwan

    when you add their twisted motive to the fact that they’ve blatantly exploited rape for marketing purposes, makes it all the worse

    Yes. And, beyond that, it’s even uglier. Consider that their current market is basically young, urban, liberal–in other words, the people most likely to respond negatively to the ad. So why do it?

    Not just brand awarenesss, but brand expansion. They want to appeal to those outside the young, urban, liberal market they’ve already secured–and they’ve calculated (quite correctly, no doubt) that a controversy at the center of which is the mockery of women and diminishment of sexual assault will appeal to a broader market.

  77. oddjob

    …or was as funny.”

    Don’t ya just love it? (NOT………….)

    How sick do you have to be to run a company selling high end women’s fashion accessories and then run an ad specifically as revolting as this because you think that degree of extremism in the message is more funny??????????

  78. There’s a great article in Slate today about Pond’s exclusively sponsoring the new Debra Messing/USA Network vehicle “The Starter Wife.”

    http://www.slate.com/id/2167188?nav=tap3

    As Doug Scott, executive director of branded content and entertainment for Ogilvy North America — in short, the head honcho ad man behind the idea — said, “We wanted to make sure [Debra Messing's character] would go through an evolution that would make her a Pond’s woman.”

    The evolution that the bag company is suggesting is deeply disturbing. “Be a victim — buy our bags.” Really, based on the ad itself and their comments after the fact (softening the copy wasn’t as funny, didn’t pack the same punch), how can you interpret it any differently?

    The question is, will this disgusting tactic work. Keep in mind, I’m an optimist, but I have a feeling they’ve too overtly crossed a line here, and it will backfire on them. Here’s hoping.

  79. No question that it’s a big ICK as an image goes, and that it certainly relies on an event that is somewhere on the rape/exploitive sex continuum for its meaning — on whatever literal or metaphorical level you want to take it. I’m certainly tired of seeing this sort of thing in ad campaigns, especially fashion-related ones. And yeah, they’re everywhere and I would explode if I stopped to pay attention to each of them. But I’m baffled by this one. I mean, the pitch seems to boil down to “Buy this bag – you’ll feel ripped off, used, and exploited, just like the first time it happened.”

  80. oddjob

    “… and you’ll call it love”???

    Excuse me, I have to go pick up my mind pieces now that my mind has blown yet again.

  81. justicewalks

    ’m not saying that “steal virginity” should mean something different than “steal a TV”, but that because more subtle forms of sexual exploitation are judged as acceptable by so many people, it effectively means something different (to at least a subset of viewers).

    Yes. That subset being rape apologists. Seeing rape and calling it something else (whether out of malice or because of your own fucked up perspective) is rape apology.

  82. Adam

    I’m a regular reader, but I don’t normally comment. I just wanted to chime in and say that every time I’ve heard the idiom “stole [my/your/her/(never his in my experience)] virginity” used, it’s been to imply a consensual sex act that the former virgin later regretted, typically because the other person turned out to be an ass. While I can see how someone (especially someone who had been raped) might read the phrase as indicating a rape, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to point out that that may not necessarily be the natural reading of the ad for most people.

    Now, having said that, of course the ad is tasteless and I can’t imagine who would buy a bag based on it.

  83. Annie

    Justicewalks — again, I think Adam is getting at what I’m trying to get at: that the phrase “steal virginity” might sound like it literally means “rape,” it has, for some subsets of a viewing audience, a cultural connotation that means something else entirely. Something that is still problematic, something that is not necessarily cool, something that is not necessarily funny, but is not apologizing for rape because it’s describing something else entirely (in albeit pretty inaccurate/confusing terminology).

  84. Melissa McEwan

    I can see how someone (especially someone who had been raped) might read the phrase as indicating a rape

    Love it. Usually we don’t get to the “your perspective is twisted and ergo wrong because you were raped” accusations until the comments are at least well into the triple digits. What a refreshingly early appearance. Nice to see you again, Hysteria Indictment.

    I don’t think it’s unreasonable to point out that that may not necessarily be the natural reading of the ad for most people.

    Okay, great. It’s not unreasonable. So fucking what? What purpose goes it serve to point out that a phrase which is in fact a euphemism for rape, in an ad which inarguably does suggest rape to a not insignificant number of people and certainly portrays statutory rape at minimum, might be given a different reading? Fine. Granted. Happy now?

    Probably not, since I don’t recall anyone ever denying in this thread that reading might exist, but instead pointing out that the people who are giving that reading are missing some cues that those of us well-versed in gender theory (and others) didn’t. I mean, look at the leap you make from “I’ve never heard the phrase used that way” to the conclusion “it may not necessarily be the natural reading of the ad for most people,” adding the caveat that perhaps rape victims are just too hysterical to view it with your calm objectivity.

    Consider me told, okay? I get it. I get that your role in this thread is to tell me that I’m wrong. The note has been taken.

    Here’s a note for you: My purpose was to point out how things like this are so pervasive that we treat them like they’re No Big Deal, and how there are subtle (and not so subtle) cues that reinforce a pro-rape narrative which lots of people ignore. So, thanks for proving my point.

  85. Nik E Poo

    So, thanks for proving my point.

    Liss: These fish heads and intestines STINK! I fucking hate having them on the boat.

    Crew member wearing clothes pin on nose: They don’t smell so bad, maybe you have an overly sensitive nose.

    Liss: I’ll bet, if I throw this in the water, sharks will come.

    CMWCPON: Naw. It really doesn’t smell. Besides, I don’t see any sharks around here.

    [Liss throws fish heads overboard]
    ….

  86. Melissa McEwan

    CHOMP.

  87. justicewalks

    Justicewalks — again, I think Adam is getting at what I’m trying to get at: that the phrase “steal virginity” might sound like it literally means “rape,” it has, for some subsets of a viewing audience, a cultural connotation that means something else entirely. Bold added.

    This is where you’re wrong. The cultural connotation of a man conning, gaming, scheming, tricking, or scamming a woman out of her virginity isn’t “something else entirely” from rape. It’s not like one is perfectly harmless and the other is criminally violent. They are both horrible things to have done to you, and if we didn’t live in this fucked up culture of ours, conning people out of their bodily autonomy (all while putting them in danger of STDs and/or pregnancy) might be as criminal as conning people out of their money. That it isn’t currently legally considered rape, doesn’t mean it’s not a great part of what makes our culture a rape culture, or that it’s not character-damning behavior on the part of the men who engage in such illicit trysts. It doesn’t even mean it’s not rape. It just means it isn’t legally so.

  88. Annie

    I really didn’t mean to contribute to offending anyone in this thread. I think I’ll try to clarify what I meant a final time, and then bow out, with my apologies.

    I see that “stealing [one's] virginity” is a euphemism for rape. I didn’t mean to imply otherwise, but merely to point out that it’s also used as a euphemism for something else and that is the context in which I, and others, have mostly heard it. I think that experience is legitimate: I have heard many, many people make this joke. I have seen this joke, in the context of “girls who have sex will always live to regret it, ha ha!”, time and time again. And that context is supported by the visuals in the ad, namely the idea of prom — this big pressure cooker in which girls are expected to behave in a certain way on this One Big Night and they’re damned if they do and damned if they don’t.

    Justicewalks, the “other situation” that I was referring to isn’t the story of gaming, scheming, conning, etc, that you mentioned, but simply the fact that some people are going to have sex with their prom date, fully believing that they’re going to get married and have kids with this person, and be disappointed. I was trying to refer to the sort of “sex will ruin your life” story that is told time and time again in movies aimed at people around my age. Things like “The Virgin Suicides,” in which a character makes a choice based on what she believes to be an emotional commitment that isn’t really there. This message is thrown at girls time and time again. I don’t think it’s healthy. And I think it’s yet ANOTHER thing that’s unhealthy. I don’t understand why thinking this particular message is bandied about too loosely, and is a joke that I have heard often enough to think it’s reasonable to wonder if this was the joke the Timbuk2 people had in mind, implies that I think rape should be minimized or is no big deal. All I’m saying is: it’s possible that there are two misogynistic jokes with the same punchline.

  89. nogo war

    just from a male perspective..missing from this discussion is the image as the “thief” being a person with long greasy hair…
    Most males in H.S./College/club circuit …tend to have really short hair..when rape occurs it is most likely from a person with the “clean-cut” image..
    To me the prom dress is the give away..the purpose of guys having booze available on prom night..is simple..get the date drunk..push how much you spent..she is “obligated” to pay you back..maybe the last..or only time to get laid in H.S..
    jist sayin’ that was the mindset a long time ago..
    of course the context of once virginity is gone it is gone..once this limited edition of whatever is gone it’s gone..the woman may not be able to get the circumstances of her first intercourse back..but this cool whatever..is the next best thing..

  90. “Sartre didn’t write the ad, nor has he defended it on anything other than that, in his opinion, it isn’t about a rape.”

    This is exactly what all rape apologists since the beginning of time have said about all situations that have ever been called rape by people more intimately familiar with the circumstances.

    Somebody has called Sartre giving his opinion “a rape”?

  91. Here’s a note for you: My purpose was to point out how things like this are so pervasive that we treat them like they’re No Big Deal, and how there are subtle (and not so subtle) cues that reinforce a pro-rape narrative which lots of people ignore. So, thanks for proving my point.

    As I’ve pointed out, there is an entire porn subculture based on rape fantasies — many involving a muscle car, a bad boy, and a girl sent home in a “torn prom dress.”

    You don’t have to search very hard to find hundreds of web sites dedicated to pedophiliac rape fantasies. You can even purchase a “prom queen” costume to act out this kind of scenario.

    While I was doing my research, I stumbled on a real story written by a young woman who was raped by her prom date. It is worth a look.

    http://www.lehigh.edu/~kas5/rapestory.htm

  92. Melissa McEwan

    when rape occurs it is most likely from a person with the “clean-cut” image..

    I can’t imagine on what basis this statement was made, but there’s no data of which I’m aware that would support it. In fact, I’m fairly certain there’s no reliable research on the preferred personal aesthetic of rapists.

  93. PortlyDyke

    Keep talking Melissa. It’s obvious that there is much education and awareness-raising that is needed. I will stand at your side and keep talking too.

    I want to point back to Melissa’s original post — which, to my mind, is about desensitization. To me, many of the responses here show me exactly how ads like these contribute directly to the “normalization” of rape, and how the very “ambiguity” (not) of the ad is part of that desensitizing process.

    I suspect that few readers here would argue if I said that the subtle manipulations of words and images by MSM outlets such as Fox have been designed to “soften up” the population of the US to awful ideas such as torture, stolen elections, the “rape” of our constitution (yes, I’ve heard that phrase used), unlawful imprisonment, unwarranted wiretaps, etc..

    No, the MSM has not, perhaps, outright said “Torture is Good! Let’s Torture People!” GWB has not spoken these direct phrases, but I think most would agree that he has used ambiguous marketing phrases to nudge the country down that very slippery slope.

    Ads like these are not just “in bad taste” — they are dangerous. They condition us to accept a million little memes of degradation and abuse, and when we confront and expose them, there is the handy out of “Ha ha! Just kidding! Wow! Can’t you take a joke?!?”

    Which is Imus’ strategy, and A&O’s, and GWB’s “I know those weapons of mass destruction are around here somewhere!”

    Yuk, yuk. — No — YUCK! YUCK!!!!

    Here are just a few of the imbedded memes in the ad above:

    Women’s pain is silly. (Woman in goofy dress with tissue.)
    Women are idiots because they choose jerks. (I mean, just look at him! What was she thinking?)
    Men are disgusting, filthy jerks. (I mean, just look at him!)
    Men will use you for sex and disappear. That’s just how they are. That’s just how life is. And it’s no big deal. (Just like that jerk who stole your virginity. Yes, if you’re a woman, we know you’ll relate to this one, because if you’re a woman, some jerk probably stole your virginity. It’s commonplace — natural — no more important than buying a purse.)

    And on, and on, and on.

    “So what?” you might say — “I’m a smart person. I can see that this ad is in poor taste and unlikely to sell handbags.”

    The “so what” is this. Tolerating the transmission of these memes desensitizes you to more blatant memes.

    Change just one thing in this ad — substitute a black man for the white man, and you would all be screaming “racism!” (and you’d be right) — I’m just about dead certain on that one. You wouldn’t be saying: “Well, they don’t actually say that he raped her.” You would clearly see that it was implied, and that this supported a horrible racist stereotype — and I think that you would not want to give the tiniest opportunity for us to plummet down that slippery slope.

    If you love women — your wives, girlfriends, daughters, nieces, friends — educate yourself about misogyny. It’s sometimes hard to see it, because it is so prevalent that it has become a living atmosphere — like the very air that we breathe.

  94. Annie, I understand what you’re saying, but as I said above, “stole your virginity” is in fact a euphemism for rape, even if you or others can additionally find other ways of construing it.

    Melissa, I haven’t given my opinion because I’m not part of American culture and may have been missing something, but can you demonstrate that this is actually the case in common usage, rather than being used for tricking or manipulating a virgin into sex?

  95. just from a male perspective..missing from this discussion is the image as the “thief” being a person with long greasy hair…

    It isn’t missing from the discussion. I pointed out early on that this is part of the typical “prom rape” fantasy. The male is almost always a grungy “bad boy” — in a leather jacket and driving a muscle car.

    From what I can tell by searching around online, this has been a porn standard since the 1950s.

    You can tell quite a bit about men in a society by their porn.

    In Japan, their is a larger interest in fantasies involving young girls in school uniform.

  96. nogo war

    my point was that the hair style of men in say the past 5 years is overwhelmingly short..it is true my opinion is simply based on if the majority of men have short hair..the majority of rapes are probably by men with short hair..of course..maybe at the H.S. near you the majority of males have shoulder length hair..
    As a Substitute Teacher in Denver I can tell you that is not the case here..
    I am not saying that the length of hair has anything to do with rape..in fact my point was the opposite..the image implies that rapists are only men with long greasy hair..

  97. Annie

    Secondly, another component of the ad is to suggest that an underage girl’s virginity was stolen by an adult man, not just “a bad boy.” Even the most charitable interpretation thusly leaves us with statutory rape.

    That’s definitely something I didn’t notice or think about, and you’re right that it really changes the dynamic. I think I’m so used to having “people [roughly] my age” be played/modeled by people so clearly older than me that I mentally glossed over that portion.

    Finally, I just want to note that the “love ‘em and leave ‘em” interpretation is itself not separate from the rape culture, but informs the narrative in which women’s bodies are to be used at men’s pleasure, which is the very foundation on which the entire culture is built.

    No, I don’t think it’s separate at all, and that’s along the lines of what I was hoping to say: that there are many girls who may have direct experience with the “love ‘em and leave ‘em” stereotype, but not with rape or sexual assault, and I don’t think that this leaves them “less” damaged than the large number of their peers who have been violently, physically violated. I was unhappy with an interpretation that, to my reading, was minimizing the damage that could be done by the “less overtly” misogynistic messages that teenage girls are absolutely drowning in.

  98. an_taibhse

    I don’t really have anything staggeringly insightful to contribute, but: I am a woman who was date raped in high school, and who (being, perhaps, a bit of a hipster,) ordered a Timbuk2 bag online last December. As such, this add was delivered right into my email inbox. (With nary a content warning, natch.) I felt nauseous all day.

    So: this lurker thanks you, Melissa, for calling them out.

  99. can you demonstrate that this is actually the case in common usage, rather than being used for tricking or manipulating a virgin into sex

    I cannot see how “tricking or manipulating a virgin into sex” is not rape. And, no, no one said Sartre giving his opinion is “a rape”. It is however, rape apology. But we know where you’re coming from on that one.

  100. Melissa McEwan

    Melissa, I haven’t given my opinion because I’m not part of American culture and may have been missing something, but can you demonstrate that this is actually the case in common usage, rather than being used for tricking or manipulating a virgin into sex?

    I don’t believe I ever claimed it was an either-or scenario, so I’m not sure why you’d ask me to demonstrate it. I said: “stole your virginity” is in fact a euphemism for rape, even if you or others can additionally find other ways of construing it. The whole point I’m trying to make is that just because it may have other usages doesn’t undermine the fact that it is a recognized (as multiple people in this thread clearly agree) euphemism for rape.

    Nonetheless, if you do a search for “stole virginity” at Urban Dictionary, the results are a slew of definitions engaging the term, and most of them don’t suggest consensual sex gone emotionally awry, e.g.:

    ————–

    Requiett

    1. An intarnewb

    2. A kidney/liver/anal virginity thief

    3. A date rapist

    MidnightViscount: I DRUGGED YOU WITH GHB, RAPED YOU IN YOUR ANUS, STOLE YOUR KIDNEY AND HALF OF YOUR LIVER, THEN MADE OFF INTO THE NIGHT WHILE SINGING THE “GUMMY BEARS” THEME.

    ————–

    If I had to describe the most common usage of the term here, I would say it’s a way to reference rape in an alarmingly casual way, often as a “joke,” with approximately the same gravity as is typically applied to prison rape.

  101. oddjob

    rather than being used for tricking or manipulating a virgin into sex?

    I’m going to speculate that Melissa’s response will be something along the lines of how this is a false distinction.

    Am I “getting it”, Liss?

  102. Annie

    And, to be fair, I can’t identify any of the films/TV shows where I’ve heard “He stole my virginity” to mean, roughly, “If I knew then what I now know, I would have waited.” I felt that this usage was pervasive enough not to need supporting evidence, but it’s clear that there’s another use which is so widespread that people can’t imagine a person who wouldn’t immediately think of that usage. I’m not certain that I understand why I’ve heard it in one context but rarely in another, while others have heard it in that other context almost exclusively, but I’m sure there are reasons. And I imagine that part of the reason for this is our culture’s avoidance of thinking about/talking about rape like the real problem it is, so that you don’t run into these issues of language and minimization until you “have to.”

  103. Plus, there are literally THOUSANDS of porn DVDs that feature the rape of a prom queen.

    Here’s a sampling (edited):

    http://thumbsnap.com/images/5nqvic3k.jpg

    The first two are about the “gang bang” of the prom queen. “It’s payback time for the prom queen.” Obviously, if the scenario involves “payback” it involves force.

    The second two boast “Every girl is a teenager guaranteed.” These aren’t prom queens. But, the pageant winner scenario is similar. From the descriptions, the “plots” involve a judge seducing a contestant.

    I believe that this ad attempts to use a common pedophilia rape fantasy theme to titillate the reader. It is just a disgusting as the actual porn that inspired it.

  104. oddjob

    In a way, this discussion reminds me of one of the clues my mom & I have regarding my father’s possibly being a victim of child abuse.

    I lived with my parents for quite a while after I graduated from college, and during that time a large family with a remarried husband moved in across the street. After a couple of years of unavoidably hearing them all from across the street is was clear to my mom and I that the second wife was emotionally abusing her stepchildren. She had an ugly temper and it didn’t flare occasionally, it flared routinely. She never used foul language, but abuse is abuse, and I believe most people can figure out when they’re listening to the human verbal equivalent of giving the dog a good swift kick every time you’re irritated about anything.

    Once the topic of these neighbors came up briefly at dinner, and when my mom commented upon the abusive nature of the way she disciplined the children my dad politely offered that he didn’t really think it was abuse so much as that she was “strict”.

    “No, that’s abuse.” I replied with enough conviction in my voice that he didn’t say anything further.

    I now realize as I’m reading this thread I’m participating in another, longer & much more detailed, version of that conversation.

    The context is different. The subject is different, but the gist of the ideas being offered up for debate is not at all different.

  105. Melissa McEwan

    I’m going to speculate that Melissa’s response will be something along the lines of how this is a false distinction.

    Am I “getting it”, Liss?

    That’s a good point, too. Although I wouldn’t say it’s a false distinction–certainly there are both qualitative and quantitative differences to being tricked into sex and forced into sex–it is in the end perhaps an unnecessary distinction to make in this context, because the idea that tricking women into sex is acceptable or funny or wev is part and parcel of the foundation of the rape culture, as I mentioned above, which is that women’s bodies are to be used at men’s pleasure.

    I’m not certain that I understand why I’ve heard it in one context but rarely in another, while others have heard it in that other context almost exclusively, but I’m sure there are reasons.

    I would guess that part of it is generational/regional. It is my impression that the “gentler” usage referring to consensual sex gone bad is typical among older people and among those in exurban/rural regions, whereas the flippant euphemism for rape is typical among younger people and among those in suburban/urban regions. If I had to draw sketches, I’d place the former in the mouth of an older, exurban, Southern woman, and the latter in the mouth of a younger, urban, Northern man.

  106. oddjob

    Although I wouldn’t say it’s a false distinction–certainly there are both qualitative and quantitative differences to being tricked into sex and forced into sex–it is in the end perhaps an unnecessary distinction to make in this context, because the idea that tricking women into sex is acceptable or funny or wev is part and parcel of the foundation of the rape culture, as I mentioned above, which is that women’s bodies are to be used at men’s pleasure.

    They are the same in that in both instances the man is depriving the woman the opportunity to make a fully informed adult choice about participating. The nature of the difference is the difference between someone cheating you out of money and someone sticking a gun in your back and ordering you to hand over your wallet.

    One is more brutal, but both are theft.

  107. Melissa McEwan

    One is more brutal, but both are theft.

    Now that’s some serious getting it.

  108. Ha!

    I love this warning from Amanda on her related post:

    Warning: Supportive comments of men who abuse and harass women will be replaced with bunny videos and the commenter will be banned. I’m not in the mood to deal with people who hate half the human race for no good reason.

    http://pandagon.net/2007/05/30/she-did-this-to-herself/

  109. Satre:But, the message it sent to me was that the guy lied or otherwise mislead her about his feelings toward her, used her for sex and then didn’t call her or shortly thereafter dumped her. This is a common thing, especially in high school and early twenties.

    Maybe to you a reference to the jerk who stole your virginity isn’t rape, but to me and to many others who were introduced to sex through rape committed by a boyfriend, the phrase “stolen virginity” is very clear. Further, what you see as girls’ upset over being dumped is the spin most rapists put on their victims upset and anger over being raped.

    “She’s just mad at me cause I dumped her” is rape-denial bullshit and you are helping to spread that bullshit. That’s more than a difference of opinion.

  110. I cannot see how “tricking or manipulating a virgin into sex” is not rape.

    Buffy tVS. Her first human encounter.

  111. Don’t watch Buffy. I don’t see how a fictional plot line is going to change my opinion.

  112. Don’t watch Buffy. I don’t see how a fictional plot line is going to change my opinion.

    How about General Hospital in its 1980s heyday? Luke rapes Laura and then they fall in love and get married.

    “One cultural myth endorsed by soap opera is that of the reformed rake, whose appearance and appeal can be traced back to eighteenth-century fiction. Soap opera presents him as the rapist redeemed by the woman who loves him, not uncommonly the same woman he raped. The most famous redeemed rapist in soap opera is Luke Spencer on General Hospital, one half of the romantic supercouple Luke and Laura.

    “Luke raped Laura, but when he later married her, the series retroactively redefined her rape as “a choreographed seduction.” “Most viewers,” Deborah Rogers argues, “are oblivious of the fact that reinterpreting soap rapes and brutality as romance denies – if not legitimates and glorifies – male violence by reading it as love” (38). Both Luke’s heartthrob status in the 1980s and the record-breaking viewership of Luke and Laura’s wedding attest to the soap opera audience’s participation in this rape myth.”

    Source: http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0412/is_1_27/ai_55437790

  113. oddjob

    Ugh! I’d forgotten all about that, Fritz. I remember at the time I thought it disgusting.

  114. How about General Hospital in its 1980s heyday?

    Heh. When that decade ended, I was 7, Fritz. ;-P

  115. Heh. When that decade ended, I was 7, Fritz. ;-P

    Which only makes it more difficult to accept that so little has changed in almost 30 years.

  116. Sartre

    Sartre, we are allowed to have a “difference of opinion,” but you’ve got to understand that if you espouse an opinion that people think is crap, they’re allowed to call it crap.

    But the thing is, I wasn’t told my opinion was crap(I have been since and that’s fine). I was told to fuck off. Which is fine, I’m a big kid, I can handle being told to fuck off. I just think it would be a more pleasant environment, and more conducive to real conversation and expression of opinion, even if that opinion is a dissenting one if people didn’t have to fear being cursed at or belittled for their speaking their opinion.

    As to the topic at hand. I always stated that what I said was just my opinion. It was just the way I saw the ad. I also constantly disqualified myself as any sort of expert or as a person who had experienced the horrific act of rape firsthand. Furthermore, I never discounted or made light of the way the ad might register in another person’s mind. Again, all I did was speak to what jumped out or didn’t jump out at me when I saw the ad. If someone is of the opinion that me not seeing rape in the ad makes me some sort of rape apologist(wow), misogynistic, sick fuck, that is fine. But I showed the ad to several people who also did not see rape. And, several commenters here did not immediately see rape in the ad. So if you want to say that we are all rape apologist(wow), misogynistic, sick fucks, then that is on you and your conscience. I believe the ad is tacky, tasteless and wholly demeaning to women. I simply did not see rape.

  117. I will give you some perspective, Jack.

    When I was in college, General Hospital was very very popular. Universities had to cancel many classes at 3:00 PM when the show aired. Students packed their common areas and student unions to watch the show.

    It was a nationwide phenomenon.

    Luke was the manager of a disco — with underworld connections.

    Laura was a 17-year-old school girl who began hanging out at the disco.

    One evening, Luke brutally raped Laura. The soap showed her anguish and self-loathing over having “allowed” herself to be raped. Her boyfriend (can’t remember his name) rejected her. She turned to alcohol. Typical soap opera melodrama.

    About a year later, Luke and Laura fell in love and got married. The wedding episode broke all daytime records for viewership. I don’t think the record has been broken.

  118. Nik E Poo

    I don’t see how a fictional plot line is going to change my opinion.

    What about the Holy Bible? Thats some powerful fiction mojo right there. And hey! there’s the whole part about God raping Mary … and everyone being overjoyed by it … what a blessing!

  119. Phoenician, if you don’t like being called a rape apologist — and I’ve seen you protest the label most stridently — perhaps you might consider finding one or two rape-related threads where you’re not saying ‘No wait it’s not that bad.’ Perhaps you don’t consider deceit to be a mode of coercion, but I do. oddjob, above, when he said that the distinction was between being conned and getting mugged, had it right. Either way, a crime has occurred, and the victim’s willingness at the time has no bearing on that.

  120. PortlyDyke

    So Sartre — I’m curious as to your opinion — if, as I had suggested, the man in the ad had been black, would you have considered that the ad implied rape at any level, however subtle?

  121. Melissa McEwan

    I just think it would be a more pleasant environment, and more conducive to real conversation and expression of opinion, even if that opinion is a dissenting one if people didn’t have to fear being cursed at or belittled for their speaking their opinion.

    You know what? You’re right. Except here’s the thing: These conversations are never civil, so short of someone making threats or being totally outrageous, I don’t really try to contain them.

    And, FWIW, Jack saying “Fuck off” was a lot less offensive to me than your having said “I insist on reason and logic because I firmly believe they are the only things we can rely on to lead us to the truth!” which suggested that everyone (including me) who had stated a different opinion than yours was unreasonable and illogical. Now whether you intended to or not, you were evoking the tired old horseshit that women who have been raped are hysterical, emotional, and incapable of approaching the topic rationally. And that will forever be hell and gone more offensive (and belittling) than “Fuck off.” Just something to consider.

    then that is on you and your conscience

    I’m fairly certain my conscience can take it.

  122. Adam

    Love it. Usually we don’t get to the “your perspective is twisted and ergo wrong because you were raped” accusations until the comments are at least well into the triple digits. What a refreshingly early appearance. Nice to see you again, Hysteria Indictment.

    I’m sorry, can you point out where I said your point of view was ‘twisted and ergo wrong’? My only point was that different people can and do read different connotations into the same text. I don’t read ‘rape’ into ‘stole your virginity’, because my personal experience is that I’ve only heard people use the phrase in contexts that do not imply rape, so the ‘rape’ frame isn’t activated in my mind and the ‘consensual sex and subsequent crisis of expectations’ frame is, but I find it perfectly understandable that others who have heard the phrase in other contexts might easily find the ‘rape’ frame activated in their minds, and I find it particularly likely that someone who actually has had personal experience of rape might find the ‘rape’ frame activated. That doesn’t mean anyone’s perspective is ‘twisted’ or ‘wrong’, it merely means that, again, different people read different connotations in the same text. (And I don’t mean to imply anything offensive by the phrase ‘read into’, btw. I can’t think of a better way to state the idea that the connotation a phrase suggests to us is a subjective or intrasubjective phenomenon.)

    Okay, great. It’s not unreasonable. So fucking what? What purpose goes it serve to point out that a phrase which is in fact a euphemism for rape, in an ad which inarguably does suggest rape to a not insignificant number of people and certainly portrays statutory rape at minimum, might be given a different reading? Fine. Granted. Happy now?

    My only purpose is to point out that your reading might not necessarily be the one that the producers intended or the majority of the intended consumers of the ad in question understand. To say that the phrase ‘is in fact a euphemism for rape’ implies that the only valid connotation one can read into the ad involves rape.

    Probably not, since I don’t recall anyone ever denying in this thread that reading might exist…

    “‘Stealing’ doesn’t mean coercion or trickery. It means taking without permission. And when you take sex from someone without her permission, that’s called rape.”

    What are you doing here, if not claiming that a reading involving consensual sex doesn’t exist or, at least, isn’t valid?

    …but instead pointing out that the people who are giving that reading are missing some cues that those of us well-versed in gender theory didn’t. I mean, look at the leap you make from “I’ve never heard the phrase used that way” to the conclusion “it may not necessarily be the natural reading of the ad for most people,”

    Perhaps I phrased my sentence poorly. You seem to be operating from the perspective that ‘rape’ is ,or should be, the obvious natural reading of the phrase ‘stole your virginity’ for everyone, or nearly everyone. I was observing (as has at least one other person here) that there is a not uncommon cultural context in which ‘stole your virginity’ does not, in fact, imply ‘rape’, but rather implies ‘consensual sex and subsequent crisis of expectations’. For me, and apparently for several others, the text and pictures in the ad evoked that particular context.

    …adding the caveat that perhaps rape victims are just too hysterical to view it with your calm objectivity.

    I think I already dealt with this. My claim is that a phrase like ‘stole your virginity’ has no objectively correct connotation, so it’s meaningless to say that I think rape victims aren’t capable of ‘calm objectivity’ in grasping connotations.

    Consider me told, okay? I get it. I get that your role in this thread is to tell me that I’m wrong. The note has been taken.

    I wasn’t actually intending to claim that you were wrong, I just wanted to argue that there are alternate valid interpretations of the ad.

    Here’s a note for you: My purpose was to point out how things like this are so pervasive that we treat them like they’re No Big Deal, and how there are subtle (and not so subtle) cues that reinforce a pro-rape narrative which lots of people ignore. So, thanks for proving my point.

    I’m not sure what point you think I’ve proved. Compared to actual rape, yes, I certainly think the scenario the ad implies to me is No Big Deal. That doesn’t mean I think it’s a peachy ad. For one thing, I find the idea that virginity is something to be stolen, in any context, to be a throwback to the idea that virginity is part of a woman’s value, which I find repulsive. I just disagree with the idea that the ad is inarguably intended to evoke the idea of rape.

  123. Sartre

    No, Dyke. I wouldn’t have, and I don’t see how race gets dragged into this issue.

  124. Sartre

    No Melissa, you’ve taken my words out of context. When I said the line “I insist on reason and logic because I firmly believe they are the only things we can rely on to lead us to the truth!”, I was answering stekatz’ question. Seemingly, she was offended by what she percieved was an air of cold reason and logic I approached the subject with, and accused me of not giving enough gravity to the emotions people experienced when viewing the ad. So, I apologized for coming across as cavalier and I responded exclusively to what she had said with my praise of logic or reason. That’s the context in which I stated the line aforementioned. So, it does not apply to the wider concept which we were all discussing.

  125. bluestockingsrs

    I wrote in my email to Timbuk2 that is troubled me that they would use the phrase “stole your virginity” as if a girl’s virginity is a property interest.

    As I was reading the comments in this thread I thought about how we learn property crimes in law school. Larceny is the taking and carrying away the property of another with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of use. Property crimes also include larceny by trick, by false pretenses, robbery and burglary.

    It is interesting to consider, though a woman’s sexual purity was “owned” by her father or husband at common law there is no rape by false pretenses (reinforced recently by the MA case), rape by trick (see MA case again). There is only rape that resembles robbery, because robbery involves the threat of force or actual force.

    I guess it should not surprise me at all that even when a women is considered property under the law she is still a less valuable piece of property than cash, real or personal property.

    Now I am even more depressed than I was before I realized I had to give up my Timbuk2 bags.

  126. PortlyDyke

    PortlyDyke: if, as I had suggested, the man in the ad had been black, would you have considered that the ad implied rape at any level, however subtle?

    Sartre: No, Dyke. I wouldn’t have, and I don’t see how race gets dragged into this issue

    Hmmm. Well, now I know more about how you think.

    Did you read my post about desensitization and slippery slopes?

    My point was not really about race, but I do believe that racism, sexism, and homophobia are intimately tied together, and frequently use the tools of demonization, minimization, and apologetics to support themselves.

    I guess we’re different that way. So, for now –

    That’s Ms. Dyke, to you.

  127. Melissa McEwan

    I’m sorry, can you point out where I said your point of view was ‘twisted and ergo wrong’?

    Sure. That would be the part where you felt compelled to point out there’s more than one way to see the ad, but rape victims probably just can’t see it that way because they were raped, then went on to assert: “Now, having said that, of course the ad is tasteless.” And if you don’t see how that comes across as having dismissively informed we silly girls with our little raped selves that we’re just hyperbolic, following by a patronizing acquiescence to the ad being merely tasteless, I really don’t know how to make clear to you that that is precisely how you came across.

    My only purpose is to point out that your reading might not necessarily be the one that the producers intended or the majority of the intended consumers of the ad in question understand.

    And I will repeat what I’ve now said several times: The intent of Timbuk2 doesn’t matter here anymore than, say, Opie & Anthony claiming they intended to be funny by running a bit about raping women to death matters. It also doesn’t matter if the majority of intended consumers of the ad would not read the ad the same way; the reason there is a need for rape awareness is because most people are completely desensitized to this stuff. Again, proving my point here.

    To say that the phrase ‘is in fact a euphemism for rape’ implies that the only valid connotation one can read into the ad involves rape.

    Um, no it doesn’t. It simply states a fact that, whether other usages exist or other connotations may be drawn, one undeniable usage is that it is a euphemism for rape.

    You seem to be operating from the perspective that ‘rape’ is ,or should be, the obvious natural reading of the phrase ’stole your virginity’ for everyone, or nearly everyone.

    No, I’m operating from the perspective that whether it is or isn’t, that reading is there and needs to be addressed. If you can wrap your head around the fact that the entire premise of my post is that people are so desensitized to rape imagery and language because of so much stuff like this ad, that they have become completely inured to…stuff like this ad, perhaps you’ll begin to see how unbelievably ironic this comment thread truly is.

    I feel like I’m saying the same thing over and over here, so I’m just going to wrap it up.

  128. Sartre

    Melissa,
    I agree it would a fruitless endeavour indeed to try and make sure no one was offended in your forums. I just think that if it was known that cursing or belittling someone for expressing a dissenting opinion was generally discouraged, it could only further to better this already great place by encouraging a wide array of expression, opinion and ideas. Without fear of the aforementioned.
    Yours,
    Me

  129. Sartre

    Ms Dyke. *Nod*

  130. oddjob

    Seemingly, she was offended by what she percieved was an air of cold reason and logic I approached the subject with

    Including the word “cold” immediately indicates you find her point of view inherently inferior to yours, not because it’s different, but because it’s sloppy.

    Considering I think it was pretty clear she was writing from a perspective of first-hand experience, I think that’s pretty condescending of you.

  131. Melissa McEwan

    I just think that if it was known that cursing or belittling someone for expressing a dissenting opinion was generally discouraged

    I think that is known. And I think further that threads on sexual assault tend to be the only place where things fall apart at the seams, and further still that it’s usually because of people who are telling me that I deserved a bullet in my head after serving my only purpose (being raped) or should consider myself lucky that someone raped me as I’m so hideously ugly. Women who blog about this stuff must constantly sustain comments that would make your eyes bleed.

    So you’re just going to have to forgive me if I can’t get my panties in a wad over one injudicious “fuck off.”

    The occasional intemperance has been hard earned.

  132. Don’t watch Buffy. I don’t see how a fictional plot line is going to change my opinion.

    Dude, we’re talking about an ad – two pictures and a stupid throwaway line. It’s a fictional plot-line. And yet people here are treating Teh Stupid as if it were, say, a 17 year old found unconscious in a frat house with her pants around her ankles.

    In this particular case, the Buffy “fictional plot line” manages to illustrate a sleazy case of manipulation quite well.

    Phoenician, if you don’t like being called a rape apologist — and I’ve seen you protest the label most stridently — perhaps you might consider finding one or two rape-related threads where you’re not saying ‘No wait it’s not that bad.’

    Naunce “it’s not that bad”. Sometimes it’s worse.

    The problem is that both here and on Pandagon, there’s a massive amount of groupthink on the topic. In retrospect, the thing I regret about the earlier “rape apologist” thread is not paying enough attention to the personal traumas that drive people to irrational stances and misinterpretation on the matter. Although I never get tired of yanking Pinocchio’s chain.

    But consider Amanda’s comments re the frat house rape discussion – the guys standing around watching it happen. IIRC from the book “Stumbling on Happiness”, the horrifying truth is that in many cases, expressed morality is contextual. “Everyone around me is happy with these guys fucking that girl, therefore it must be okay”.

    That’s horrifying. I’d like to think I’m one of the 15% who wouldn’t do this, no matter what. But that applies elsewhere, too. If there’s a case of groupthink leading to people venting their anger at a DA doing her job, or (as Sartre is opining in this case) groupthink leading to people interpreting a stupid, sleazy ad too far, then that groupthink should be pointed at. Even if it pisses off people.

    I’m an asshole – but a reasonable one (which is extremely useful for being a union delegate). I’m open to persuasian, but peer pressure and attempts at bullying won’t work. Persuade me the ad is about rape and not manipulation (and, Jack, watch the episodes if you don’t get the distinction).

  133. PortlyDyke

    Oh Sis — you are so completely rock-a-licious! I was going to just write a comment to Sartre that said:

    Put on your big-boy underwear and deal with it.

    Your patience and perseverance astound me. How do you do it, my dear?

  134. PortlyDyke

    That last line should have had a close italic. Bah, humbug to my html skills.

  135. I wrote in my email to Timbuk2 that is troubled me that they would use the phrase “stole your virginity” as if a girl’s virginity is a property interest.

    At least the ad has “progressed” as far as implying it’s the girl’s property stolen. Cf Purity Balls.

  136. oddjob

    I guess it should not surprise me at all that even when a women is considered property under the law she is still a less valuable piece of property than cash, real or personal property.

    Now I am even more depressed than I was before I realized I had to give up my Timbuk2 bags.

    I can go you one better, although it’s linguistic.

    In the parent language to English – German. The gender of “girl” is feminine. The gender of “woman” is feminine.

    The gender of “maiden” is neuter………

    To put that another, blunter way, in the ancestral language the female of age who has not had sex is an “it”.

    The misogyny is deeply embedded.

  137. oddjob

    No, I said that wrongly. It’s not the female who has not had sex.

    It’s the female who has not married who is an “it”.

  138. bluestockingsrs

    Yeah, I love linguistic examples. It is why I am interested in deconstructing meaning in words and images, like Melissa and others are who frequent this blog.

  139. Adam

    Sure. That would be the part where you felt compelled to point out there’s more than one way to see the ad, but rape victims probably just can’t see it that way because they were raped…

    I think you’re putting words in my mouth. Where did I say that rape victims “just can’t see it that way”, or even that they, or anyone, should see it the same way that I do?

    Anyway, I don’t want to point by point the rest of your response because, like you, I don’t want to go around in circles. I do disagree with your comparison of this ad to the Opie & Anthony incident (which, btw, I found unequivocably offensive). O&A’s routine was inarguably about rape; there’s no context or mental frame in which a reasonable person would not understand them to be referring to rape. Whether or not they thought they were being funny is beside the point.

  140. Sartre

    Oh Sis — you are so completely rock-a-licious! I was going to just write a comment to Sartre that said:

    Put on your big-boy underwear and deal with it.

    Your patience and perseverance astound me. How do you do it, my dear?

    Why are we in the market of personal destruction? Apparently there is no trying to be civil. If I would have told any of the women here to “put on your big girl underwear and deal with it”, I would have been absolutely pummeled and vilified, as I rightly should have been. But there is a double-standard with the men…especially when he has a dissenting opinion. Don’t prop yourself up as a champion of equal rights and then spit in the concept’s face.

    And Melissa, it wasn’t just one “fuckoff”. You have people literally afraid to speak out, as is plain to see in this very article!

    Time-Machine
    May 31st, 2007 at 1:47 am
    I…hate to get involved in this, but oh well. Here goes. (I am going to regret this)

    I don’t recall Sartre ever claiming that the ad was tasteful. I think he made it pretty clear…

  141. Melissa McEwan

    groupthink leading to people interpreting a stupid, sleazy ad too far

    Explain to me, oh Great Wise One of Unassailable Objectivity, how it is I managed to write the post about the ad without the benefit of the dastardly groupthink plaguing this site?

    Is it possible, perhaps, that I drew on my education, my experience, and my own critical thinking skills? Is is possible that others here took on board what I’d said but came to independent conclusions, some of which agreed with me and some of which didn’t?

    Or is it simply your opinion that you came to your conclusion through reason and logic and the people who agree with me came to their conclusions by virtue of my magical witchy power of group hypnosis?

  142. bluestockingsrs

    …the people who agree with me came to their conclusions by virtue of my magical witchy power of group hypnosis?

    Oh, this is totally why I agree with you, Melissa.

    :wanders off singing an Eagles song:

  143. PortlyDyke

    Phoenician: “Persuade me the ad is about rape and not manipulation

    I’ll give it a try.

    The ad is about rape precisely because of the “groupthink” that you reference in your comment.

    This ad, and others like them, are precisely what gives men the idea that they can rape someone, and not only get away with it, but that it’s normal, and no big deal.

    Why? Because the ad says: “Just like that jerk who stole your virginity . . . ”

    It does not say “Just like that jerk that talked you into going all the way,” (which is bad enough, and would be, in my mind, manipulation). Ergo, it is NOT about manipulation — the word chosen directly infers a theft (which is a word for a crime).

    It does not say “Just like that jerk who dumped you”.

    It does not say “Just like that jerk who ripped your prom dress, but didn’t get to second base.”

    It says — JUST LIKE THAT JERK WHO STOLE YOUR VIRGINITY!

    The words chosen, and the images chosen ARE important. They convey a complex message. What makes it most offensive to me is that the ad is targeted toward women — so the message to women is: Jerk who steals your virginity = handbag soon to be unavailable.

    If you honestly believe that the marketing people who created this ad don’t know exactly who their target audience is, and haven’t thought about “how to reach them”, then I think you are incredibly naive.

    And, on the most logical and purely legal levels — the girl is clearly in a prom dress (do you dispute that?) — proms generally happen in high school (do you dispute that?)

    We do not know the age of the girl, but if she is under the age of 16, in most states, any sexual activity would be statutory rape at the least — rape — even if she “consented” — get that?. Criminal charges would differ depending on the age of the “jerk”.

    You say that this is a groupthink: “Everyone around me is happy with these guys fucking that girl, therefore it must be okay”. That’s horrifying. I’d like to think I’m one of the 15% who wouldn’t do this, no matter what.

    Yes, and where, Phoenician, do you think this particular groupthink comes from? I would put forth that it comes from the barely veiled subliminal messages of ads like this, from the willingness of human beings to minimize and apologize for the effects of ads like this, and from the collusion of rape apologists (both male and female) who can look at something like this and say: “Dude — it’s an ad – two pictures and a stupid throwaway line. It’s a fictional plot-line.”

    Does this persuade you?

  144. Melissa McEwan

    And Melissa, it wasn’t just one “fuckoff”. You have people literally afraid to speak out, as is plain to see in this very article!

    Time-Machine
    May 31st, 2007 at 1:47 am
    I…hate to get involved in this, but oh well. Here goes. (I am going to regret this)

    Actually, someone saying “I’m going to regret this” or “I’m going to get killed for saying this” or the like is a pretty standard disclaimer for people saying unpopular things in feminist forums. In threads where there has been not the remotest bit of ill will to that point, people say that. It’s a standard deflection tactic, rooted in the stereotype of feminists as inflexible, unyielding, and mean.

    I just read a great article about that recently, written by a feminist man who works with young people, about how the boys constantly hold up their hands when they’re about to say something controversial, as if the girls will hit them or something, and how weirdly backwards the dynamic is, but I can’t for the life of me remember where I read it.

    I was thinking it was Hugo Schwyzer, but couldn’t find it on his site…

    Anyway, the point is, there’s nothing stopping anyone from expressing an opinion here, aside from the fact that it may not be well-received.

  145. Ok, sorry for uttering the words of curse so as to soil thine ears, Sartre. For a Frenchman, you got some weird issues with cursing.

    And Phoenician, that’s cool that you get your ethics from Buffy. I don’t. So no thanks, I’ll pass on worrying about the so-called distinction between manipulation and rape, because I don’t think there is one. Manipulation is where date rape gains its power.

    And all this logic and reason stuff are crap without ethics being intertwined, and there is a degree of pathos to ethics that you all are negating. Strongly negating. In fact, maliciously ignoring.

  146. PortlyDyke

    Sartre –

    No, actually, if someone had told me to fuck off (which has actually happened to me more than once in my blog-comment experiences), and I had got all wah-wah about it and suggested to Melissa that she make this a more “pleasant” place for me, and someone had told me to put on my big-girl panties (something my partner says to me at least weekly), I would have put on my big-girl panties, and dealt with my shit.

    You might notice, earlier up the thread, that someone accused me of being “sophomoric” and “claiming a victory” (when all I had actually said, sarcastically, was that I was surprised). I did not defend myself, because I thought my words spoke for themselves, and that any person of intelligence would understand, as I did, that this person was expressing their take on what I had chosen to do.

    And yes, if you had said, to a rape survivor here, about their experience of rape: “Put on your big girl panties and deal with it” I would have been on you like white on rice. Because there is a big difference between having someone tell me to fuck off and being raped. I know. I’ve experienced both.

    Personally, I don’t believe that being told to put on my big girl panties is an act of “personal destruction”. Perhaps you’ve led a sheltered life.

  147. bluestockingsrs

    http://hugoboy.typepad.com/hugo_schwyzer/2006/05/ive_been_thinki.html

    there is that link you were looking for, Melissa. It is a great piece.

  148. Sartre

    In threads where there has been not the remotest bit of ill will to that point, people say that.

    I had already been told to fuck off for stating my opinion at that point.

    It’s a standard deflection tactic, rooted in the stereotype of feminists as inflexible, unyielding, and mean.

    Hmmm, yeah where would anyone ever get that crazy stereotype???

    Put on your big-boy underwear and deal with it.

  149. bluestockingsrs

    It’s a standard deflection tactic, rooted in the stereotype of feminists as inflexible, unyielding, and mean.

    Hmmm, yeah where would anyone ever get that crazy stereotype???

    It is interesting that every time something like this happens, eventually the true colors get shown.

    I have been called out by Melissa in comments, I have been told to fuck off because people didn’t like what I had written.

    But I have not concluded that my failure to communicate my ideas effectively or missing the point to the people reading my posts. I have instead concluded that it was my responsibility to read more, communicate better.

    Feminists are desperately struggling to make the misogyny that permeates everything in this culture visible –if it seems like no big deal, then as Melissa said previously, that is the point.

    I don’t know how to wake up someone who is pretending to be asleep.

  150. PortlyDyke

    For JackGoff — “sorry for uttering the words of curse so as to soil thine ears”

    LOL!

    Can I borrow that, Jack? My kids are always giving me shit (pardon my french) for my potty mouth.

  151. SAP

    kate,

    You know what I would love to hear from the men of Shakesville? Share with us what you were taught (overtly or implied) by coaches, fathers, brother, friends, teachers, sisters?

    I learned one main thing early in life: that if I ever put my hands on my sisters in anger, I would surely pay for it. No matter what they did to antagonize me, I wouldn’t be able to sit down for a week if I hit them.

    To this day, I would sooner open my wrists than strike a woman.

  152. Sartre

    Jack, you can keep your half-hearted, not really an apology-apology. Like I said I can take it. My own dear friends and I tell each other to “fuck off” and “go fuck yourself” along with a myriad of other profanities countless times during an outing. But it’s bigger than that. What that does is discount and belittle someone’s entire opinion with two simple words. Receiving such a harsh, unwarranted response will no doubt make the person and others who saw the harsh response reconsider posting a dissenting opinion about topics in the future. Basically it stifles and discourages dissenting opinion and/or thought. It encourages mindless regurgitation of the popular opinion and it succeeds in the potential enlightenment of no one. So, like I said, you can tell me to fuck off all day long, but you are not huring me. You are hurting the free expression of speech and thought with a weapon of fear.

  153. You are hurting the free expression of speech and thought with a weapon of fear.

    Was I pissed at the tiome sure? Do I regret it? No. Are you still posting? Yes. So, get over it.

  154. Was I pissed at the tiome sure?

    Should be “Was I pissed at the time? Sure.”

  155. Melissa McEwan

    there is that link you were looking for, Melissa

    Bless you, Bluestockingsrs!

  156. Melissa McEwan

    I had already been told to fuck off for stating my opinion at that point.

    I wasn’t talking about this thread, though, was I?

    Hmmm, yeah where would anyone ever get that crazy stereotype???

    Wow. I can’t even begin to express to you how disappointing it is that after I spent the entire day conversing with you respectfully, you just decided to smack me in the face with someone else’s words.

  157. bluestockingsrs

    My pleasure.

    Must keep the witch with power to hypnotize us all happy.

    :tee-hee:

  158. Melissa McEwan

    Must keep the witch with power to hypnotize us all happy.

    LOL! Extra tail of newt in your bowl of witchystew tonight, Blue.

  159. Can I borrow that, Jack?

    I’m not sure where I got it, but I’m definitely not its owner. Have at it. 8^D

  160. Sartre

    Oh, I’m over it, Jack. Yes, I am still posting. But who’s not posting because of what you said? We’ll never know, will we? And therein lies the problem.

    Melissa, you said feminists, I assume PortlyDyke is a feminist, so….

  161. katecontinued

    We have now been at this thread for more than 24 hours. I would like to thank you Shakers who addressed my mid-thread question to men. I think this needs more attention and push. If men stepped up to fight misogyny it might make a difference.

    That great piece you cited Melissa – men claiming feminists ‘bash’ men. Thanks bluestokingsr.

    I just don’t understand feeding the trolls. A closed mind that makes noises about logic, civility and rational thought – is a serious energy drain.

    I learned a good lesson. Never, ever mark that little box about email notification. Gah

  162. And well, upon reading that description of the Buffy character, I suppose one could make some argument that “manipulation” is a fluid definition, but I do not feel it, in any way, negates the impression that this ad exudes that the guy in question was a rapist who actively manipulated or forced the particular girl in to sexual contact, and I cannot see that as not rape. If you want to push me, I would consider putting up a false veneer and portraying a front to be a form of date rape. It’s a betrayal of trust, though it is somewhat of a passive manipulation. Either way, I do not get the same thing from this ad, and the mere fact that they considered alternate language, yet chose this specific language is indicative of where our culture is at in terms of condoning date rape, and rape in general.

    And that is more time that I should have ever given you.

  163. But who’s not posting because of what you said? We’ll never know, will we?

    You know, if it keeps even one rape apologist away, I have no real problem with that. Though I doubt little ole me is fierce enough to keep them away. Hell, some of them are still here. But you can act like the real problem here was a curse word and the damage to free speech it causes.

    I just can’t think of you as anything but disingenuous because of it, though. There is a phrase for this argument: concern trolling.

  164. Explain to me, oh Great Wise One of Unassailable Objectivity, how it is I managed to write the post about the ad without the benefit of the dastardly groupthink plaguing this site?

    Hmm.

    How about this – either you, or I when I get home and off a work computer, go to Google and look up the first 20 hits for “stole her virginity”, and then classify the links as either using it in the context of rape, in the context of sex other than rape, or in an unclassifiable context?

    I’ve already stated I’m not in a good position to judge usage in an American context – but I’ve asked you to demonstrate that your interpretation would be the default one.

    Do you think that test might give an indication?

    And as regards the groupthink, Melissa – wouldn’t you agree that the commentators on this blog (and Pandagon) are a self-selected sample, with the regulars almost certainly having a higher than normal awareness, horror and (and here you have my sympathy, for what it’s worth) experience of rape?

    Or is it simply your opinion that you came to your conclusion through reason and logic and the people who agree with me came to their conclusions by virtue of my magical witchy power of group hypnosis?

    My tapeworm told me.

    And Phoenician, that’s cool that you get your ethics from Buffy.

    Cite, please, Jack. If you’re unable to distinguish between using a (well-known and accessible) piece of fiction as an example and getting your ethics from it, you have a reading problem.

  165. bluestockingsrs

    And as regards the groupthink, Melissa – wouldn’t you agree that the commentators on this blog (and Pandagon) are a self-selected sample, with the regulars almost certainly having a higher than normal awareness, horror and (and here you have my sympathy, for what it’s worth) experience of rape?

    No, I wouldn’t (though I am not Melissa).

    Perhaps you (and others that make such arguments of oversensitivity) simply aren’t AWARE enough, which it why it appears many others are hyperaware.

  166. And we come once again to the point in the thread where I say, “Gee, Phoenician in a Time of Romans, the person who says ‘I like to be contrarian for its own sake’ is typically a troll.” But you’re not a troll, are you? No, you’re special. You’re doing it because you see a dangerous level of groupthink on, oh, all threads where rape is a subject. It’s a public service.

    Perhaps you might consider “yanking Pinocchio’s chain” on topics where so very many people haven’t been so very badly damaged. Or you could just be an asshole in arenas where you’re being paid to. I’m sure your clients appreciate it. I don’t.

  167. “yanking Pinocchio’s chain”

    That’s his phrase for badgering someone who called him out on his horseshit before. After repeated citations, he still doesn’t think it is right to call him a rape apologist, so I’ve stopped worrying about “Cite please”. Doing so changes nothing for him. “Pinocchio” is what he calls another commenter at Pandagon and elsewhere in an effort to portray hir as a liar. Meh. As I said, no more time for failed purple dye merchants.

  168. But you’re not a troll, are you?

    Not at the moment, here. A troll wouldn’t make a suggestion such as:

    “How about this – either you, or I when I get home and off a work computer, go to Google and look up the first 20 hits for “stole her virginity”, and then classify the links as either using it in the context of rape, in the context of sex other than rape, or in an unclassifiable context?”

  169. Why should I, or anyone who isn’t you go to the trouble? If you’ll recall, no one’s saying that “stole your virginity” doesn’t have meanings that aren’t rape-related, though still creepy. We’re saying that one of the meanings, and not an obscure one, is rape. It’s repulsive that it’s treated as a joke, and worse that someone thought that it was a good way to sell handbags. You want to Google it and see what comes up? Knock yourself out. But it doesn’t have anything to do with the original post or any of the non-rape-apologist posts subsequent to it.

  170. Sartre

    After all this, the dissenters are labeled the rape apologists…the “bad guys”. This thread is officially insane. And depressing. I feel very wrong about having devoted such energy to what has resulted in such petty frivolousness. There are real bad guys out there. There are women being raped RIGHT NOW! I am going to donate to some type of rape prevention fund in order to balance out the energy I wasted here.

  171. Why should I, or anyone who isn’t you go to the trouble? If you’ll recall, no one’s saying that “stole your virginity” doesn’t have meanings that aren’t rape-related, though still creepy.

    Because that admission sorta undercuts Melissa’s original post. There’s a hell of a lot of things that can be construed as metaphors or euphemisms for rape, but of which to jump to that interpretation in the first instance destroys credibility.

    I don’t know what the most common use of the phrase is in the States; to me, it connotates sleazy manipulation, not rape, but I’m not in the target audience. I might engage in the Google exercise as a matter of curiosity if I have the patience to deal with dialup.

  172. I don’t see how it undercuts Melissa’s original post at all. That you think it does fails to surprise me. Do your own research.

  173. PortlyDyke

    From Wikipedia: ” A troll is someone who intentionally posts derogatory or otherwise inflammatory messages about sensitive topics in an established online community such as an online discussion forum to bait users into responding.”

    I truly, sincerely, and humbly apologize to all the earnest comment-makers on this thread, and to Sis, for feeding the trolls, or, through my lack of consciousness, acting as a troll myself.

    I acknowledge that I absolutely know that I have been guilty of troll feeding, and I promise to never do it again.

    It was my bad, my bad, and furthermore, it was my bad.

    I am re-reading my own posts to see where I might have been guilty of trollism my own self.

    *PortlyDyke — pulling on her big girl panties*

    I’d like to suggest a QOD — “What are the earmarks or identifiers (for you) of a post or comment that has gone from “genuine self-expression” to “flame-war” or “trolling” status?”

  174. PortlyDyke, don’t beat yourself up too much. We all feed trolls, and say trollish things once in a while. Why, I myself just tonight invited an earnest young gentleman to get ass cancer and die. And he called me ‘sir’ afterwards! I’m actually kinda proud of that.

    Shameful of me, I know.

  175. PortlyDyke

    Moira — ROTFLMAO! You “invited” him to get “ass cancer”?!? And he “sirred” you after that!?!

    Never underestimate the power of a timely comment. You salved my soul with much-needed laughter.

  176. Pingback: Enter the Jabberwock - Campfire of the Vanities

  177. Nik E Poo

    *PortlyDyke — pulling on her big girl panties*

    So, up until now, you’ve not been wearing panties? How very Britney of you!

    As for trolls. I find that the primary indicator is the non-engagement. Direct questions are a good way to “ping” trolls.

    [Nik E Poo] G4
    [Troll] miss.
    [Nik E Poo] hmmm … G6
    [Troll] miss.
    [Nik E Poo] Ok … A1 thru J10.
    [Troll] miss.
    [Nik E Poo] Ah ha!

  178. Ahem. I’m fair certain he meant that ‘sir’ all ironical-like, but I’ll take what I can get. Glad I could brighten your evening a little, Ms. Dyke.

  179. So, up until now, you’ve not been wearing panties? How very Britney of you!

    Hey, I’m not wearing panties! How very Britney of me, I know. 8^P

  180. PiatR

    I fail to see how Parker’s actions prove your point rather than otherwise. While I don’t get my ethics from Buffy any more than Jack Goff does (esp. when it comes to sex – ew!Spike anyone?), I rather thought Willow had the final word on the subject when she told Parker

    It’s all about the sex! You find a woman, drag her to your den, do whatever’s necessary just as long as you get the sex.

    And just in case anyone missed what she was implying, the anvil sized cavemen – complete with terrified women in tow – came rushing in right after. The point of it all being that the only difference between Parker and the cavemen is that Parker doesn’t have to resort to physical violence to get what he wants, emotional violence works just as well. So being the lazy, narcissistic ass he is, he takes the easy route.

    Inasmuch as the caveman looking guy with the pickup truck is less likely than Parker to manage to get what he wants while still limiting the damage to purely emotional violence, I’d say it’s pretty damn clear that rape is what’s implied. At the very least, Parker’s existence in BtVS lore hardly supports the idea that “stealing” sex from someone can ever be a non-violent action, and therefore his actions with Buffy are hardly a counter-argument to the interpretation that the ad is making a rape joke.

    And regarding the assertion that “stolen virginity” refers to recently deflowered virgins regretting their choices:

    Since the belief that recently deflowered virgins often regret their choices is frequently used to call rape victims liars – again, I fail to see the usefulness of bringing it up as a counter-argument to Melissa’s interpretation.

    And Sartre,

    While there is much that I could say in response to you, I think I’ll just limit it to the observation that ending this sentence

    I insist on reason and logic because I firmly believe they are the only things we can rely on to lead us to the truth!

    with an exclamation point kinda belies the whole point of the sentence. As does your use in other instances of ALL CAPS AND BOLD.

    If you actually believe that “reason and logic” are the only things that can lead us to the truth, why the constant shouting?

  181. Melissa McEwan

    I am going to donate to some type of rape prevention fund in order to balance out the energy I wasted here.

    I’ve got an even better suggestion for you, Sartre: Why don’t you go get personally involved in a rape prevention group, or volunteer at a shelter for absused women, or spend a couple of years working with survivors of sexual abuse.

    Then come back and see if you don’t find this thread a little less “insane.”

  182. Melissa McEwan

    How about this – either you, or I when I get home and off a work computer, go to Google and look up the first 20 hits for “stole her virginity”, and then classify the links as either using it in the context of rape, in the context of sex other than rape, or in an unclassifiable context?

    The problem with that is there’s a popular album called “Capitalism Stole My Virginity” which makes that endeavor pointless. But I did respond to your request regarding usage in this comment; I’m afraid that response is going to have to be sufficient for you.

  183. Melissa McEwan

    Melissa, you said feminists, I assume PortlyDyke is a feminist, so….

    ….So, because one feminist said something that by your reckoning fit a stereotype about feminists, it was fine to use it against/define me? And every other feminist?

    I trust I don’t need to spell out for you what’s wrong with that.

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  185. The point of it all being that the only difference between Parker and the cavemen is that Parker doesn’t have to resort to physical violence to get what he wants, emotional violence works just as well. So being the lazy, narcissistic ass he is, he takes the easy route.

    Two teeny tiny problems:

    i, Parker doesn’t resort to emotional violence to get the sex. The emotional violence comes afterwards, when he dumps her. Which is the way the ad parses to me on first glance.

    ii, “Emotional violence” is not a criterion for rape. Force or the threat of force are the criteria – “sex against a person’s will”. Playing with someone’s emotions to manipulate them into giving you what you want ranges from normal human interaction to pretty shitty behaviour, but it isn’t force. Otherwise salespeople would be charged with extortion and parents charged with child abuse.

    I said: “stole your virginity” is in fact a euphemism for rape, even if you or others can additionally find other ways of construing it.

    Mayhap – but it’s not the one that I thought was the obvious choice, or the most likely reading. There’s a difference between “additionally finding other ways” and choosing the most likely interpretation.

    Lessee – excluding the record album (which doesn’t show up in the first 20 anyhow), a link too huge to download, and a link needing a sign-in :

    Probably not associated with rape, AFAICT:
    http://www.starpulse.com/news/index.php/2007/03/27/randy_spelling_took_paris_hilton_s_virgi (depending on codes for statutory)

    http://www.omertasyndicate.com/bb/viewtopic.php?t=423&start=0&sid=ebd005be14febea60410620218539fa0 (inanimate object)
    http://www.sputnikmusic.com/forums/archive/index.php/t-494928.html
    http://www.ebay.ph/viItem?ItemId=320117663783 (although ambiguous)
    http://www.ebay.com.my/viItem?ItemId=230132143292 (same as previous)
    http://www.diskuspublishing.com/juliacharpentier.html

    http://search.barnesandnoble.com/booksearch/isbninquiry.asp?ean=9781400034710&crvAll=1&crvStart=1&displayonly=CRV&z=y (same as above)

    http://people.tribe.net/66ff5758-8747-4061-bef4-1dae86200f34 (ick)
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A15597-2005Feb10.html

    Probably associated with rape, AFAICT:
    http://www.samuraispirits.net/fan/fanfic/jubei1.html (really, really bad fanfic)
    http://homepage.mac.com/cparada/GML/Atreus.html (by our standards)
    http://sitenoise.com/wondering/2005/09/liars-club.html (although ambiguous)
    http://www.bhavsarsamaj.com/weddingtype.asp
    http://www.oprah.com/omagazine/200012/omag_200012_maya_b.jhtml;jsessionid=PTH5U1FHQFMG5LARAYGCFEQ
    http://www.topix.net/forum/education/edu-etc/TB2BC8N51ATKG2J31/p2 (bad poetic metaphor)
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tess (by our standards)

    So it runs around 2 to 1 against being used in the context of rape.

  186. Brian

    Carrying the “sex = rape” torch for Andrea Dworkin, are you?

    An equivalent gripe might be “women = perpetual victims”.

    It’s an ad. A tasteless ad, maybe, but an ad. Many fashion marketing campaigns are tasteless. I think it was written by a guy, and is meant to appeal to the women out there who still seek out the bad boys. It’s an age-old dance between the sexes: the art of seduction and the appeal of dangerous men. The ad simply highlights this fact of life. Whether you like it or not, women are an equal factor in this dance. Many just don’t want to admit it, because it would mean having to forego their helplessness.

    Real women don’t play that game. And it takes a man to point it out to the amen chorus of radical American feminists.

  187. Pingback: On the Fritz - Observations of Modern Life: Let's hear about this from parents of teenage girls

  188. Pingback: Rape is Hilarious: Put to Music Edition at Shakesville

  189. Pingback: WIMN’s Voices: A Group Blog on Women, Media, AND… » Blog Archive » To media, rape is hilarious (to me, not so much).

  190. Pingback: Rape is Hilarious - Upsize This

  191. Pingback: Blog of the Moderate Left » Blog Archive » The Ongoing Hilarity of Rape: Part Wev in an Infinitely Long Series

  192. Pingback: Feminism Friday: Rape Jokes Aren’t Funny « Finally, A Feminism 101 Blog

  193. Chris

    Pro feminazi whores, how is your membership in the KLU KLUK KLAN going?? Spread your GODDAMN LEGS, AND TAKE A BROOMSTICK, OR A COCK UP YOUR ASS, YOU CUNT WHORE BITCH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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  194. Father Time

    *headsmack*

    Have you seriously never heard the phrase ‘stole my virginity’. It doesn’t always imply rape. Actually it rarely implies rape.

    Also rape has more than one commonly used definition so a guy saying he was raped by the IRS could indeed be accurate.

  195. Pingback: Rape Culture 101 « Finally, A Feminism 101 Blog

  196. Pingback: Rape Culture 101 – A Comprehensive Guide « I Heart Lists

  197. Pingback: Rape Culture 101 – A Comprehensive Guide « Obama Says Do More

  198. Pingback: What is Rape Culture? « Dr. Kathleen Young: Treating Trauma in Chicago

  199. Uppity Feminist Bitch

    You articulate how I feel better than I ever could.
    If I had to pick someone to rule the world, your name would be first on the list.

  200. Pingback: Thoughts on “rape humor” and “rape culture.” « Stupid Evil Bastard

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  202. Pingback: Repost: What is Rape Culture? | Dr. Kathleen Young: Treating Trauma in Chicago

  203. Pingback: Repost: What is Rape Culture? (via Dr. Kathleen Young: Treating Trauma in Chicago) | Lilywhitewash's Blog

  204. Pingback: Is the Burning Man Community Pro Rape Culture? « Sfburnergrrrl's Blog

  205. The man

    My opinion about Shakesville could be summarized in this article:

    http://encyclopediadramatica.ch/Shakesville

  206. Pingback: A Fate Worse Than Death… « Caught in the Cogs

  207. Feminazis

    “Stealing a kiss” doesn’t mean “rape”.

    You keep using the word “rape”. I don’t think it means, what you think it means.

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