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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Gossip Girl & R-A-P-E


by Tracee Sioux

I tuned into Gossip Girl to see what it was about.

The new definition of glamorous includes editing of a rape scene and an act of consensual (yet inappropriate drunken sex) with the intent to blur the distinction. The viewer was asked to be not only confused, but aroused, by the violent attack of a girl, as the producer took slices of the rape scene and slices of the consensual sex and flashed them back and forth rapidly with a strobe effect. Flash of hand on bare leg, leaving the viewer to wonder is it a rapists hand or a lover's hand? It's presented in such a way as to make rape seem provocative. Does she really mean No or does she mean Yes, after all she's obviously not a virgin.

Unfortunately in real life the girl is not this confused when she is attacked. Here's the difference, in one situation she's saying NO and in the other situation she's saying YES.

The rapist in the scene is a high school boy who suffers no consequences and is not confused about his actions. He knows he will get away with it, considers it a fun and exciting game and proceeds to seek out and attempt to rape a freshman. Is that a freshman? I like freshmen, they're so "fresh," goes the dialogue. The portrayal of her rape is that she obviously deserves such treatment because she's foolish enough to go to a party with the cool kids and wear a pretty dress, shouldn't she know better? The only way she gets out of the situation is by emergency texting her brother who saves the day.

How do all the other high school girls react? Isn't this great gossip?

Is this the new standard of normal? I kept hoping I was confused, but really there was nothing mysterious about the message:

"Rape of high school girls is HOT! Even for other girls and the rape-victim herself."

The "new" CWTV has gone from innocent sweet Gilmore Girls into depraved child pornography genre in one season. If this is accepted as the new normal by the consumer there are wide-range consequences for the sexualization of girls. Dating violence is a real problem, in that 1 in 5 girls are victims of it, and I believe producers of this show are intentionally perpetuating the problem because it's getting them off.

Are we asked to believe that this is a reflection of reality? And if this is reality why are they asking us to be aroused by it instead of outraged and disgusted by it?

As a consumer, a user-of and advocate of free speech, the mother of a girl and a female myself, I encourage all advertisers to withdraw themselves from supporting the intentional blurring of rape/consent boundaries on Gossip Girl. Violence against women and rape of girls can not become mainstream entertainment. This is not in the best interest of girls. This is not in the best interest of boys who date girls. This is in the best interests of Nambla and pedophiles and sex offenders. This is in the best interest of pornographers who like to photograph the violation of girls and encourage the consumption of girls as pure entertainment. But, there is no way in which this kind of mysogynistic violence for entertainment purposes can be construed as in any girls' best interest.

Rape is rape and it's never fun for it's victim. It's never funny and no one should be confused by the glamorous presentation of it on Gossip Girl.

6 comments:

Jonna said...

That is so disturbing, I hadn't heard of such a show. I can't believe someone has the gall to try to pass that off as entertainment!

j.lowe said...

Just found your blog from The Space Between My Peers Fabulous Festival post on workplace fashion. I do like your blog, it is interesting and thought-provoking. :)

I do, however, want to respectfully disagree with your post. I recently watched the Pilot episode of Gossip Girl the other day, and I actually came away feeling quite differently from you. In the scene in which the freshman in question, Jenny, first enters the party, she is not the only girl wearing a pretty dress: every girl attending the party is wearing a semi-formal, pretty dress. By your logic, if it was only because Jenny was wearing a pretty dress, then every girl at that party should have been a target. However, this is not the case: the rapist in question, Chuck, goes for Jenny because she's a Freshman, and as a Freshman, she is "fresh" and naive: she doesn't know better than to stay away from someone like Chuck.

You could, of course, argue that, well, it's only at this party, where all the girls are dressed in skimpy dresses, that they need to watch out - therefore it's still the skimpy dress that endangers them and puts them at fault. Why should a girl have to be on the lookout? However, I don't think that that's what Gossip Girl was trying to depict. Earlier, Chuck attempts to rape one of the main characters, Serena, while she is dressed more conservatively in street clothes. Serena comes off as a smart girl, and even she must deal with this. I believe that in both cases, what the potential victim was wearing was not the issue - it was Chuck and his motives (and, speaking more broadly, men and their motives) that was the problem. In both cases, I was rooting for the girls to fight Chuck off, which I believe the directors wanted us to feel. In both cases, Chuck does not succeed in attempting to rape the girls; in fact, he gets beat up both times. One of his best friends denounces him. True, he does not face legal consequences for his actions, but we don't know that he won't in future episodes.

I appreciated your point about how the confusing sequence of sex/rape scenes in the episode. It's true, I didn't think of it that way. Honestly, it's artistically a great scene, juxtaposing these physically similar but emotionally different scenes at once. To me, rather than trying to confuse the audience into mistaking rape for consensual sex, I felt that it was trying to highlight the difference. The emotions in either scenes were so different, and oftentimes, this difference in emotion is the only thing that distinguishes between consensual sex and rape. Like the scenes showed, just because there are bodies coming together doesn't mean that it's the same act.

You do bring up an interesting point that, all in all, this is what Gossip Girl shows. You're right, the fact that these scenes get shown on a glamorous-looking show does create the problem of glamorizing these sorts of crimes. However, again, I really don't feel that that's what Gossip Girl is about. Girls dish the dirt through cell phones and online journals and men rape young girls at parties all the time - and unfortunately, these girls don't always have an omniscient camera to report what happened. I think that Gossip Girl is about taking reality, satirizing it a bit (in how it portrays gossip in a technologically-steeped society), and showing, ultimately, a little bit of what life is really like today. That, I think, is what makes Gossip Girl such a compelling show to watch - it resonates with what people see and experience (but don't always admit) all the time. By putting it on TV, I feel that yes, it runs the risk of legitimizing problems, but more importantly, it brings these problems to the attention of a large audience so that these issues don't keep getting covered up and ignored.

Tracee said...

I appreciate your position and your comments j. lowe. I agree that a show like Gossip Girl has the potential to inform and touch on issues that effect teens.

Having watched several episodes I just don't think that's the intention. If it is, I think they are failing.

It's not me who thinks she deserved it for wanting to be pretty - that's how I think the producer's presented it with their foreshadowing.

Serena doesn't come off as smart, she comes off as a whore who slept with her best friend's boyfriend. "Whores deserve to be raped," that's what I think the message was.

It will be interesting to see where the show goes. But, knowing that teenagers often react to life by playing out what they see their television heroes do - so far I think Gossip Girl is going to cost us more than we want to pay.

Come back often and tell all your friends. There's a lot of these issues out there that we can discuss.

City Girl said...

I have to agree with J.Lowe - I don't get the same feeling that you do from the show. I do not think that the message they are sending is 'whores deserve to be raped' - Jenny the freshman is obviously not a whore, she is always innocent and quite naive, and in the scene where Chuck tries to rape her she IS struggling against him. I don't think viewers watching that scene will think "Wow, how glamorous!", but rather feel sorry for Jenny that she got into a situation that was difficult for her to get out of.

Besides, Dan punches Chuck and Serena yells at him for doing what he did, which shows that rape/harassment ISN'T ok.

Also, I don't think the show aims to educate or even inform viewers about issues such as rape. Its only aim, from what I can gather, is to entertain. And that it does, at least in my opinion.

alice said...

Im sorry to say that your comments have disappointed me.

'Gossip Girl' is a series of books which has been popular for many years with an older generation of teenagers. It has always touched on subjects that interest teenagers; fashion, sex, money, drink and drugs. All the characters in these stories drink, smoke and have sex (under age) as many teenagers do in many books, films and tv programmes. . This series does not advocate rape at all and it appears to me that you have entirely missed the point. Many people claim that both trainspotting and junk glamourise drugs to teens but they still do not go out and get heorine addictions because of this. No teenagers are going to start raping each other as a result of this programme, as most are intelligent enough to see it for what it is, a simple glamourisation of teenage life.

Its sad to see that once again teenagers are tagged with an idiot sign, yes they are sometimes easily influenced but dont you think that scenes such as these might help them to relate to the stronger and more moral characters?

Tracee said...

According to the APA Report on the Sexualization of Girls http://traceesioux.blogspot.com/2007/09/apa-reports-sexualization-of-girls.html this kind of "just entertainment" is directly related to the problem of dating violence. The US Justice Dept. reports that 1 in 5 girls experience dating violence in real life. http://traceesioux.blogspot.com/2007/09/dating-violence.html

The APA evidence suggests that television shows like Gossip Girl contribute to that.

That's what I mean by maybe we're paying too much for "entertainment."

Teen girls are not "stupid" but they (and the boys and authority figures) do blame themselves according to the statistics about dating violence. The APA says they blame themselves because of entertainment like Gossip Girl that blur the boundaries.

What if they're not wrong?

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Gossip Girl & R-A-P-E


by Tracee Sioux

I tuned into Gossip Girl to see what it was about.

The new definition of glamorous includes editing of a rape scene and an act of consensual (yet inappropriate drunken sex) with the intent to blur the distinction. The viewer was asked to be not only confused, but aroused, by the violent attack of a girl, as the producer took slices of the rape scene and slices of the consensual sex and flashed them back and forth rapidly with a strobe effect. Flash of hand on bare leg, leaving the viewer to wonder is it a rapists hand or a lover's hand? It's presented in such a way as to make rape seem provocative. Does she really mean No or does she mean Yes, after all she's obviously not a virgin.

Unfortunately in real life the girl is not this confused when she is attacked. Here's the difference, in one situation she's saying NO and in the other situation she's saying YES.

The rapist in the scene is a high school boy who suffers no consequences and is not confused about his actions. He knows he will get away with it, considers it a fun and exciting game and proceeds to seek out and attempt to rape a freshman. Is that a freshman? I like freshmen, they're so "fresh," goes the dialogue. The portrayal of her rape is that she obviously deserves such treatment because she's foolish enough to go to a party with the cool kids and wear a pretty dress, shouldn't she know better? The only way she gets out of the situation is by emergency texting her brother who saves the day.

How do all the other high school girls react? Isn't this great gossip?

Is this the new standard of normal? I kept hoping I was confused, but really there was nothing mysterious about the message:

"Rape of high school girls is HOT! Even for other girls and the rape-victim herself."

The "new" CWTV has gone from innocent sweet Gilmore Girls into depraved child pornography genre in one season. If this is accepted as the new normal by the consumer there are wide-range consequences for the sexualization of girls. Dating violence is a real problem, in that 1 in 5 girls are victims of it, and I believe producers of this show are intentionally perpetuating the problem because it's getting them off.

Are we asked to believe that this is a reflection of reality? And if this is reality why are they asking us to be aroused by it instead of outraged and disgusted by it?

As a consumer, a user-of and advocate of free speech, the mother of a girl and a female myself, I encourage all advertisers to withdraw themselves from supporting the intentional blurring of rape/consent boundaries on Gossip Girl. Violence against women and rape of girls can not become mainstream entertainment. This is not in the best interest of girls. This is not in the best interest of boys who date girls. This is in the best interests of Nambla and pedophiles and sex offenders. This is in the best interest of pornographers who like to photograph the violation of girls and encourage the consumption of girls as pure entertainment. But, there is no way in which this kind of mysogynistic violence for entertainment purposes can be construed as in any girls' best interest.

Rape is rape and it's never fun for it's victim. It's never funny and no one should be confused by the glamorous presentation of it on Gossip Girl.

6 comments:

Jonna said...

That is so disturbing, I hadn't heard of such a show. I can't believe someone has the gall to try to pass that off as entertainment!

j.lowe said...

Just found your blog from The Space Between My Peers Fabulous Festival post on workplace fashion. I do like your blog, it is interesting and thought-provoking. :)

I do, however, want to respectfully disagree with your post. I recently watched the Pilot episode of Gossip Girl the other day, and I actually came away feeling quite differently from you. In the scene in which the freshman in question, Jenny, first enters the party, she is not the only girl wearing a pretty dress: every girl attending the party is wearing a semi-formal, pretty dress. By your logic, if it was only because Jenny was wearing a pretty dress, then every girl at that party should have been a target. However, this is not the case: the rapist in question, Chuck, goes for Jenny because she's a Freshman, and as a Freshman, she is "fresh" and naive: she doesn't know better than to stay away from someone like Chuck.

You could, of course, argue that, well, it's only at this party, where all the girls are dressed in skimpy dresses, that they need to watch out - therefore it's still the skimpy dress that endangers them and puts them at fault. Why should a girl have to be on the lookout? However, I don't think that that's what Gossip Girl was trying to depict. Earlier, Chuck attempts to rape one of the main characters, Serena, while she is dressed more conservatively in street clothes. Serena comes off as a smart girl, and even she must deal with this. I believe that in both cases, what the potential victim was wearing was not the issue - it was Chuck and his motives (and, speaking more broadly, men and their motives) that was the problem. In both cases, I was rooting for the girls to fight Chuck off, which I believe the directors wanted us to feel. In both cases, Chuck does not succeed in attempting to rape the girls; in fact, he gets beat up both times. One of his best friends denounces him. True, he does not face legal consequences for his actions, but we don't know that he won't in future episodes.

I appreciated your point about how the confusing sequence of sex/rape scenes in the episode. It's true, I didn't think of it that way. Honestly, it's artistically a great scene, juxtaposing these physically similar but emotionally different scenes at once. To me, rather than trying to confuse the audience into mistaking rape for consensual sex, I felt that it was trying to highlight the difference. The emotions in either scenes were so different, and oftentimes, this difference in emotion is the only thing that distinguishes between consensual sex and rape. Like the scenes showed, just because there are bodies coming together doesn't mean that it's the same act.

You do bring up an interesting point that, all in all, this is what Gossip Girl shows. You're right, the fact that these scenes get shown on a glamorous-looking show does create the problem of glamorizing these sorts of crimes. However, again, I really don't feel that that's what Gossip Girl is about. Girls dish the dirt through cell phones and online journals and men rape young girls at parties all the time - and unfortunately, these girls don't always have an omniscient camera to report what happened. I think that Gossip Girl is about taking reality, satirizing it a bit (in how it portrays gossip in a technologically-steeped society), and showing, ultimately, a little bit of what life is really like today. That, I think, is what makes Gossip Girl such a compelling show to watch - it resonates with what people see and experience (but don't always admit) all the time. By putting it on TV, I feel that yes, it runs the risk of legitimizing problems, but more importantly, it brings these problems to the attention of a large audience so that these issues don't keep getting covered up and ignored.

Tracee said...

I appreciate your position and your comments j. lowe. I agree that a show like Gossip Girl has the potential to inform and touch on issues that effect teens.

Having watched several episodes I just don't think that's the intention. If it is, I think they are failing.

It's not me who thinks she deserved it for wanting to be pretty - that's how I think the producer's presented it with their foreshadowing.

Serena doesn't come off as smart, she comes off as a whore who slept with her best friend's boyfriend. "Whores deserve to be raped," that's what I think the message was.

It will be interesting to see where the show goes. But, knowing that teenagers often react to life by playing out what they see their television heroes do - so far I think Gossip Girl is going to cost us more than we want to pay.

Come back often and tell all your friends. There's a lot of these issues out there that we can discuss.

City Girl said...

I have to agree with J.Lowe - I don't get the same feeling that you do from the show. I do not think that the message they are sending is 'whores deserve to be raped' - Jenny the freshman is obviously not a whore, she is always innocent and quite naive, and in the scene where Chuck tries to rape her she IS struggling against him. I don't think viewers watching that scene will think "Wow, how glamorous!", but rather feel sorry for Jenny that she got into a situation that was difficult for her to get out of.

Besides, Dan punches Chuck and Serena yells at him for doing what he did, which shows that rape/harassment ISN'T ok.

Also, I don't think the show aims to educate or even inform viewers about issues such as rape. Its only aim, from what I can gather, is to entertain. And that it does, at least in my opinion.

alice said...

Im sorry to say that your comments have disappointed me.

'Gossip Girl' is a series of books which has been popular for many years with an older generation of teenagers. It has always touched on subjects that interest teenagers; fashion, sex, money, drink and drugs. All the characters in these stories drink, smoke and have sex (under age) as many teenagers do in many books, films and tv programmes. . This series does not advocate rape at all and it appears to me that you have entirely missed the point. Many people claim that both trainspotting and junk glamourise drugs to teens but they still do not go out and get heorine addictions because of this. No teenagers are going to start raping each other as a result of this programme, as most are intelligent enough to see it for what it is, a simple glamourisation of teenage life.

Its sad to see that once again teenagers are tagged with an idiot sign, yes they are sometimes easily influenced but dont you think that scenes such as these might help them to relate to the stronger and more moral characters?

Tracee said...

According to the APA Report on the Sexualization of Girls http://traceesioux.blogspot.com/2007/09/apa-reports-sexualization-of-girls.html this kind of "just entertainment" is directly related to the problem of dating violence. The US Justice Dept. reports that 1 in 5 girls experience dating violence in real life. http://traceesioux.blogspot.com/2007/09/dating-violence.html

The APA evidence suggests that television shows like Gossip Girl contribute to that.

That's what I mean by maybe we're paying too much for "entertainment."

Teen girls are not "stupid" but they (and the boys and authority figures) do blame themselves according to the statistics about dating violence. The APA says they blame themselves because of entertainment like Gossip Girl that blur the boundaries.

What if they're not wrong?