Prosecutors Arrest Alleged Rape Victim to Make Her Cooperate in Their Case. They Made the Right Call.
It's an upsetting story that's burning up the feminist blogosphere: A woman in Cowlitz County, Washington, who was allegedly kidnapped by her ex-boyfriend and forced by him to perform oral sex on another man, has been subject to arrest and detainment by prosecutors who were worried she would keep missing meetings and basically destroy the case. According to the local paper:
The 43-year-old woman—the victim and prime witness in the case—has not been charged with any crime. She just wasn’t showing up for pre-trial meetings with prosecutors, despite promising to do so several times.
So earlier this month they obtained a judge’s order for a material witness warrant.
It’s a little-used procedure under state law that allows police to arrest a witness of a crime to ensure they show up for court. Chief Criminal Deputy James Smith said such warrants are rare and requested only “as a last resort.”
Why Is It So Hard for Men to Write About Sex?
Last week, Claire Dederer took a break from writing her memoir about her teenage sexual experiences in the 1980s to publish an essay about why the book has proven so difficult to write. “I get frightened every time I sit down to write about something I did, or had done to me,” she writes. “To be honest, my mother, still very much alive, assumes a ghostly, accusatory form and haunts my desk whenever I start to describe, say, giving a blow job to that creepy hippie Malcolm in the patchouli-smelling van in 1984.”
Dederer argues that her sexual writer’s block isn’t idiosyncratic. It's feminine. Writing about sex poses a particular challenge for female writers, she says, because their desire is hidden from view (less apparent than an erection), and their sexual experiences are often erased, either written through the lens of male lust or wrapped up in shame. On the inside, female desire “comes with an endless internal monologue—or maybe dialogue, or maybe babel,” she writes. Women’s “heads never stop whirring even as their bodies are otherwise occupied.” Their “desire is always guessing, often second-guessing.” But you wouldn't know any of that from the outside, because female sexuality has “so long been represented as a form of incitement to men that it’s hard for a woman to describe lust—even to say something as simple as ‘I like sex’—without sounding, without perhaps feeling, as though she’s fulfilling a male fantasy.” In short: “it’s easier to titillate, shock, and lie than to get at the messy truth about female desire.”
Paula Deen: Back in the Saddle
A standard American testimonial must have a happy ending. Once lost, the subject has to be found. The messy details have to be shoehorned into a tidy narrative arc that dips before soaring greatly. Failure—sometimes spectacular failure—is a necessary part of the story, otherwise what is there to climb back from? So it’s no surprise that on Sunday, Paula Deen, the celebrity chef who fell from grace after charges of racism, “staged a comeback,” as the newspapers put it, by telling a crowd of adoring fans: “I am not a quitter.”
While not mentioning the details of the accusations—that she said she wanted to stage a "true Southern plantation-style wedding" for her brother Bubba complete with a “bunch of little niggers” in antebellum costumes—Deen told the crowd at the South Beach Wine and Food Festival that if they hadn’t heard her apologize already she was going to do it again, right there while cooking chicken and dumplings. Whether or not Deen is sincere in her apology is between her and God. But what’s certainly true is that Deen is caught up in her own story of sweet redemption.
Virginia Lawmaker Calls Pregnant Women "Hosts"
Virginia Republicans just don't know how to avoid being wildly offensive. The latest in a long line of Virginia politicians offering weird and unsettling opinions regarding women is state Sen. Steve Martin. Perturbed that he got a generic Valentine's Day mailing from a pro-choice coalition that called on politicians to not restrict abortion or reduce access to contraception, Martin went on Facebook to cough up an immediate classic:
You can count on me to never get in the way of you "preventing an unintentional pregnancy." I'm not actually sure what that means, because if it's "unintentional" you must have been trying to prevent it. And, I don't expect to be in the room or will I do anything to prevent you from obtaining a contraceptive. However, once a child does exist in your womb, I'm not going to assume a right to kill it just because the child's host (some refer to them as mothers) doesn't want it.
The wording about pregnant women being "hosts," which confirms every worst suspicion that pro-choicers have about abortion opponents, is sure to grab all the headlines. The contraception language isn't a whole lot better, however. As is typical with many conservative men on this issue, there's a tendency to talk about contraception in distancing language that makes it sound like an outré sexual kink instead of a normal part of women's health care. Overall, women come across, in this passage, as foreign creatures whose behavior is both alien and somewhat disgusting and who only hold interest to Martin insofar as they are the "hosts" to embryonic life. On the one-to-10 scale of right-wing misogyny, I give this an 8.5: more stomach-turning than refusing to use the word vagina while trying to pass laws controlling it but still falling short of the gold standard, "legitimate rape."
Which Is the Manliest Literary Magazine of Them All?
In 2012, 79.8 percent of the authors of books chosen for review in the New York Review of Books—and the critics tapped to review them—were men. “We certainly hope to publish more women writers,” editor Robert Silvers insisted last year. Now, Silvers has made good on his promise: In 2013, the review featured exactly one more woman than it did in 2012, bringing its percentage of male authors and reviewers down to 79.5 percent.
Every year, VIDA—an organization established in 2009 to assess the status of women in the literary arts—counts up the men and women who have been featured as authors and reviewers in major literary magazines, then bakes them into pie charts to offer a quick glimpse of the gender split. According to its 2013 VIDA count, released today, the New York Review of Books is the manliest journal around, but the London Review of Books and the New Republic are following close behind, tying at 78.5 percent male. McSweeney’s clocks in at 76.8 percent male, Harper's at 74 percent, and the Times Literary Supplement at 73 percent.
Scott Walker Ordered a Woman Fired Because She Modeled Thongs. Scott Walker Would Love Reddit.
Should sexy women get to be doctors? It appears that Wisconsin governor Scott Walker thinks not. Among the various revelations that have come out of a nascent political scandal regarding the misuse of government resources by Walker's staff when he was a county executive running for governor, one of the most petty has to be that Walker ordered the firing of a doctor at the Milwaukee County Behavioral Health Division because she once modeled underwear.
The order was discovered in the thousands of pages of emails recently released by the Wisconsin Court of Appeals. Walker's chief of staff at the time, Thomas Nardelli, emailed Walker to alert him to the supposedly scandalous revelation that this doctor, who Nardelli admits was checked out through "all professional channels to determine credentials," had "a checkered past." The evidence of the checkered past? She has "done some modeling work" that "isn't pornographic, but is quite suggestive," including modeling thong underwear.
Oh, You Think Tights Are Evil? You're Evil.
First BuzzFeed came for our leggings. Now they’re back for our tights. On Thursday staff writer Diana Bruk fabricated a list of 21 reasons tights are “the most evil form of clothing.” It is stuffed with lies and weird metaphysical claims about how tights constrict our souls along with our bodies. It details a completely imaginary progression of tights-wearing, whereby the tights first “terrorize your legs with itchiness,” then pinch your bladder, then suffocate your internal organs, then snag, then decimate your circulation, then—in the course of their removal—tear off shreds of your life force. I have no idea what kind of demonic stockings Bruk is dealing with, but clearly her piece belongs more in the genre of paranormal phenomena journalism than fashion writing. For the rest of us, wearing tights goes something like this:
No, Claire Underwood Is Not a Role Model
Conor Friedersdorf of the Atlantic is worried about the moral barometer of feminist writers, at least those who write about the Claire Underwood storyline on House of Cards. Citing a post by Tracie Egan Morrissey at Jezebel and my own here at Slate—both of which address the feminist themes teased out in the character's adventures—Friedersdorf worries that we are unaware that Claire is a bad person. He lists her various sins and crimes against other women: complicity with murder, getting a woman fired for no reason. And he concludes, "Women need Claire as a feminist ally like a fish needs a wood-chopper."
Smartest Kid Ever Sells Girl Scout Cookies Outside a Medical Marijuana Clinic
Danielle Lei of San Francisco is one smart kid. According to Mashable, the 13-year-old and her mom chose a diabolically brilliant spot to vend Girl Scout cookies: outside the green-painted walls of a medical marijuana clinic. Unsurprisingly, sales were, um, high—the resourceful Scout dispensed 117 cookie boxes in two hours, 37 more than she managed to sell outside a neighborhood Safeway grocery store the following day. The Green Cross signed on completely.
Barbie Pursues New Career as Internet Troll
Since Barbie first entered the workforce modeling her iconic black-and-white swimsuit in 1959, she’s gone on to pursue meaningful employment as a police officer, yoga instructor, dolphin trainer, football coach, paleontologist, paratrooper, surgeon, and Canadian Mountie. This week—after serving a brief tour of duty as a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model—Barbie set her unblinking eyes on a new career, using the misshapen discs that she calls hands to peck out an op-ed on the topic of modern feminism. “My bathing suit now hangs beside a Presidential power suit, Pastry Chef hat, and Astronaut gear in a wardrobe reflecting the more than 150 careers I’ve pursued to illustrate for girls that they can achieve anything for which they aim,” Barbie wrote in a piece that received prominent placement on the prestigious Barbie-related news outlet BarbieCollector.com. “And yet, I am still seen as just a pretty face. It’s simpler to keep me in a box—and since I am a doll—chances are that’s where I’ll stay.”