Hello people! This is Charlie Brook, I’m the lady behind Her Me Out. Because just Her Me Out, I’ve got some stuff to say.
If you haven’t checked out some of my fun feminist analysis that I spew on HerMeOut.com feel free. But for now here we are hitting you with some podcast action! I’m excited to be rolling out my first episode of the Her Me Out podcast, which is going to be all about perpeturapetion.
So, first things first, what would that be? Perpeturapetion is a word I made up to mean the perpetuation of rape culture in the media. I’m sure we’re all familiar with this concept even if you’re not sure what I’m talking about. Basically, it’s moments in the media that make you think
...oh that wasn’t great for women…
It’s particularly something that we experience when we look back at old movies or television shows. Things that have not aged well. But it obviously continues to happen today, as we continue to kinda low-key hate women and what they symbolize in our culture.
Now these moments are really important because they inform how we understand the world today. It’s amazing that new media is being held accountable to higher standards of representation, in terms of both gender and race. But there’s a long way to go obviously, and the effects of media from the past doesn’t just disappear.
That’s how culture works. Moments from the media stick with us, they inform how we regard certain topics, what we think is acceptable, what language has been deemed as cool or uncool. All of this affects how people are seen and treated in the world and how we react in certain circumstances within our daily lives. And it absolutely has had an affect on our rape culture. Call it the metoo movement, rape culture, the patriarchy, we’re all talking about the same thing. This widespread, massively accepted culture of women as the lesser and thus the target of various societal injustices.
And this thing, this idea, this culture has always had a stronghold on the media, which in turn has affected what we consider appropriate in society. So what am I specifically talking about?
To give you a better idea, let’s go ahead and get into it!
On this podcast, I’m going to be going back and watching old favorites from the past, movies and shows we used to love or maybe used to hate, and see how much they fucked us up.
Today the movie choice is The Sweetest Thing. Which if you haven’t seen this recently or haven’t seen it all, that’s some weird ass shit.
This is a 2002 rom-com, which is kind of where perpeturapetion thrives by the way, and stars Cameron Diaz, Cristina Applegate, and Selma Blair, as three best friends that are out in the world doing the dating thing, not worried about finding love just wanting to play the game.
In some ways it sounds like the setup for a super fun, empowering good time, full of badass ladies that are in control of their own sexualities. But this is a mainstream movie from 2002, so instead we get a lot of confusing, mixed messaging about what a sexually powerful woman is, which is of course super fun to navigate when you’re 9 years old, which was my age when this was released.
First of all, within the opening sequence, we get our first hint of perpeturapetion when a bunch of guys are talking about how much they hate Cameron Diaz’s character for being emotionally unavailable to date them. This is all semi-fine by me until one of the guys mentions how much of a bitch she was for letting him buy her drinks all night and then not going home with him. And he pouts about “laying out all of the ground work for nothing”, I’m gonna play a clip, sidenote there’s a woman in the back of the shot making grunting noises as she tries to put something an a high-shelf, it’s not me doing strange workouts in the background.
I met Christina at a bar. Hot piece of ass. Totally hit it off all night long. We dance, I buy her drinks. At the end of the night, she just splits. I lay down all of that groundwork for nothing.
This isn’t a great start. It could possibly be that this is meant to be ironic, but like most of the movie it’s not clear what their cultural commentary is. So let’s pretend like it’s not: Nobody owes anybody their body or time when someone buys you drinks or dinner or what have you. That is not your payment, and a lot of times in hetereosexaul bar interactions men assume that buying a woman a drink and her accepting it means something more than a kind gesture between two humans.
This is because of a long history of women being wooed by men, men being the stereotypical money earners in the world and so being able to use this money to attract women, and also a culture of men kind of feeling entitled to women’s time and in many ways, their bodies too.
So when this guy says he had worked so hard to lay down all of that groundwork, he’s totally representing the idea that Cameron Diaz should be accepting his shady exchange rate of some drinks for sex. This is still pretty normal today. A lot of women are harassed in bars for not taking drinks from men or for taking them and then later not wanting to talk to the guy anymore, etc etc which in a lot of ways is kind of parallel to consent and how people should be able to recant their consent throughout any interaction and the other person should then be able to understand what’s happening and back off. But needless to say, it’s even quick moments like this that play a role in supporting this kind of cultural idea.
So no dude, stop laying your groundwork! Don’t get me wrong, free drinks are great, but my equality in the world… ya I think that’s a little bit better.
Okay so now we’re gonna go ahead and get right into the super cringey stuff by introducing the character of Roger Donahue, played by none other than a young Jason Bateman.
Hold on tight Jason cause I’m coming for ya.
So Jason Bateman’s character is the brother of our leading man, who is played by some guy who I expected to recognize but totally did not.
FYI his name is Thomas Jane, and he is still working if anyone was worried.
So Jason’s character is your typical horndog, the sexual predator in the club. Which is super clear the moment he comes on screen with two very drunk women who he is trying to coerce into coming to what I can only assume was a very lame party full of dudes convincing very drunk women to go home with them.
Are you ready for some full-blown perpeturapetion madness?? Here we go…
Dude where’ve you been? After hours party back at the hotel. These 2 pigs are good to go. Did I mention that we have the Freddie Mercury Suite?
[throwing up noises]
She puked on him!
Again, good she’s like a hose. Go help her. Or not.
Nooo young Jason Bateman nooooo.
Whenever rape cases come up where the woman was drunk and we’re not sure how to think about it, this needs to be apart of the conversation. And no, that is not me saying that it’s always rape, but it is me saying that this is the kind of media that we were seeing! It confirmed to men, that it was okay for them to get women really drunk so that they’re ready to “take it” as young Jason Bateman says. And for women, it reinforced that we should be okay with that kind of behavior because that’s just how men are.
And look, I know that we’re meant to see this character as kind of dog or jerk, but we’re also meant to see him as lovable, and funny, and cool. We’re not meant to hate this guy, we’re meant to think he’s the worst but also somehow be fine with his disgusting behavior. #rapeculture
Something that is interesting is that they have cameron diaz’s character get the attention of thomas jane’s character with a non-consensual ass grab. Like a lot of the movie, I feel like they were trying to give women some power in sex. But yah I mean obviously it isn’t great to pull that kind of stuff on either end.
Now let’s move onto the weirdest part of this movie, of which there were many, but this one is without a doubt the strangest: the musical proclamation that all of men’s pensis’s are too big to fit in here. Yes I’m talking about when the girls take over a restaurant with their song about how you should always tell men that their penises are too big - as if they need more validation of their masculinity.
Not only is this a bizarre occurrence in what was before a fairly standard early 2000s rom-com, it also illuminates a really weird part of our culture where women are taught, no matter the size, to be like slightly afraid (while also turned on) by a man’s penis as a way of validating his sexual abilities. It’s like it’s too big, but that’s why I want it.
This part of the movie, like a lot of the movie, seems like it’s trying to empower women through moments like this by giving them some sexual agency to talk about topics like this or be as raunchy as they want or maybe they’re even speaking about these topics ironically - but it really kind of just makes everything a bit more confusing.
So how was girth?
Average-ish. That’s good, so what’d you tell him?
What do you mean?
What do we always tell them no matter what?
Oh my god, you’re penis is so big!
Your penis is so thick…
Whether or not you’ve seen this movie, as a woman, the words I’m saying are probably not foreign. I mean I don’t think it’s a bad thing to want to praise your partner’s body for all of its glory but I think it’s safe to say that this is not the same thing. We’re creating unrealistic expectations for men and also teaching women that if it feels too big that that’s what you’re supposed to want.
I don’t know about you, but that’s not what I want. No. I’m good with the right size, none of that too big business.
Also a comic relief moment is when Cameron Diaz gets her eye-poked by some guy sticking his penis through the wall. Which is like, that’s casual sexual assault. But it’s 2002, so it’s funny!
The one thing that I will say about this movie is that they show a female orgasm on screen, coming from a man pleasuring only her. Which is really cool.
It is however a dream sequence, which is then followed by a few other unrealistic happenings including a calorie free ice cream bar. So that kinda implies that it’s not the norm or a realistic expectation. But it was a still a more positive choice than many made by this movie.
And that my friends is how the Sweetest Thing perpeturaped us!
With all of the movies that i review for this podcast, I’m also going to let you know if I think you should watch it yourself (again or for the first time) because guess what, we can still love the media that we know isn’t great. That’s part of the struggle! But we just have to be aware and be able to reflect and say yah it’s not great. Or at least that’s what I tell myself when I find myself still loving things that suck for women.
Remember if you’d like to read any fun feminist analysis written by, check it out at HerMeOut.com or subscribe to this podcast to hear more analysis about how the media has perpeturaped us all.
Until next time, remember - it’s a culture, people!