The conversation about Steve Ward’s stupidity is continuing — thank Gawd.
But all the talk brings up a few points I’d like to clarify.
1) I was really enjoying Tough Love up to this point. Ward (and the shows producers) seemed to be operating from the old BDSM mantra, “Safe, sane & consensual,” something pretty rare in reality television.
Most remarkably seemed to be the “consensual” part, in which scripted tricks were not played on either the female participants nor their male “possibilities.” (You might be able to debate the use of physically using electronic shocks to modify the women’s behaviors, but it’s not like these were stun-guns or something. It was no worse than having Ward or another coach standing beside them going, “Bup-bup-bup!” when they did something dumb.)
Overall — and up until the misuse of “rape” (both in diagnosis and as a fear-mongering tool) — I’ve been appreciative of the combination of tact & honest bluntness in confronting the women’s baggage — both the emotional issues & the bad habits. So it pains me to see the show go so low.
2) I’m not condoning Arian’s actions. I understand them; but I do worry for her. (A number of the other women on the show too.)
But there is a clear distinction between Arian’s self-hurtful behaviors and the predatory act of rape performed by another. She, and women like her, need to be held responsible for their own actions — but not the actions of others. In this case, Arian needs to be aware of what she is doing, how her perception of the effectiveness of her defense mechanism as inaccurate and is in fact detrimental to herself and her objective of finding a good relationship. She needs to see this in order to change her behaviors — in order to bring her the happiness she both deserves and seeks.
This is what Ward was trying to do/say. And it would have been a great lesson for all those watching too. He started well, but… *shudder*
This would have been one of those educational & self-help moments; a lesson for all of us at home, young & old who need to learn it, or at least understand it. But…
3) What about the other side? When comments are left at VH1’s blog about this “educational moment”, they go something like this one by Kaya:
To all of you who are so upset with Steve, let me ask you this: is this what you will teach your daughters? That it’s okay to get drunk, dress suggestively, act in a sexually agressive manner and take home anybody you like, and nothing will ever happen to them? Many rapists are predators, just like child molestors. A child molestor will seek out a victime when he or she is most vulnerable and least able to resist. So will a rapistt; in this case, a drunk woman eager to be alone with him. Sure, the rapist is at fault, but that doesn’t make the woman less raped, beaten, emotionally scarred, dead, etc….
If you aren’t teaching your daughters how to protect themselves, you shouldn’t be a parent.
Ignoring my desire to nit-pick some of your comments on the behaviors of rapists, let me say that I agree totally that parents should teach their daughters how to protect themselves. And when, for whatever reason, they haven’t learned such things — or have adopted bad or unsafe habits — they need to be reeducated. See all of the above.
This brings up the post I linked to in my original Ward/rape post (read it; I link for a reason, yo). I too wish the world wasn’t the way it is, but it is and we need to safeguard our daughters, our girls, our women. But what are we teaching our sons, our boys, our men? (Incidentally, that same blogger — the author of the main author here at Kitsch Slapped — has a post about talking to her son about such things.)
In all this talk about rape, where’s the part about parents teaching their sons?
Kaya’s statements completely ignore the lessons here about teaching young men that rape & other abuse is not to be tolerated. Like Ward’s original statement and those of the other show participants, such language of omission isn’t an accident. They are excusing bad male behaviors, placing the blame for “enticing” upon Arian’s shoulders — and all women’s shoulders — when the blame clearly belongs to men who commit rape, assaults, and abuse of any sort.
This sort of complacent language dismisses male responsibility & diminishes the crime. It complicates how we as a society react to charges of assault & rape. It’s why Ward said what he did, why the other women agreed with him, and why the comments at VH1 have been so stupid. It perpetuates the myths, blames the victims, and places other women in danger with misinformation. All things I’ve already spoken of, so I’ll stop now. For now.
4) Because I have a lot of friends who are sex workers * (escorts, phone sex operators, erotica authors, strippers, etc.), I also feel I need to clarify my statements about Arian, her stripping, and my thoughts on what I see regarding a history of her past abuse.
This is the toughest part of the post, actually, because what I’m about to discuss is a stereotype as old as the oldest profession. And incredibly hurtful too. So, let me say for the record that abuse & sex work do not go hand in hand.
Like any segment of society, especially female segments, abuse is a part of the demographic — but abuse is not an identifying characteristic. It should not be assumed to be a part of any sex worker’s history.
Unfortunately for sex workers who wish stories that reinforce such stereotypes would just go away, Arian, the sex worker, exhibits a hyper sexuality that moves past a self-described “bad girl” let alone a content within her own skin, sex positive person.
The true tell-tale signs for me, just in this last episode, were her approval seeking glances at her fellow house mates when she sat in the “hot seat,” her upping the loud & raunchy display & talk when she found no support, and her lashing out in pain like a wounded animal when the rape word hit the fan. (As I said before, she was looking for a reason to leave and explode — but watch closely, she’s got more pain than fire in her eyes at that point.)
In past episodes, we’ve seen her both use her sexuality to garner attention and react dramatically when it’s been of no help to her. Most obvious in her dealings with Ward himself, when she feels she not only has no control but no value to Ward.
I can’t speak for sex workers everywhere, but none of the sex workers I know behave like Arian has on the show.
And so it is this set of behaviors I speak of when I say I believe Arian has been abused; these are the behaviors which are dangerous. Her employment as stripper or sex worker has nothing to do with it.
There. I think I covered every thing I intended to.
Oh, except for the fact that I still urge you to contact Steve via his matchmaking service’s site, Master Matchmakers, and VH1 to demand an apology.
* Don’t act so shocked that I know and cavort with sex workers. They are damn fine people.
If you are “just surprised to hear this because I never mentioned them before”, well, I also don’t identify my computer programming friends. I also don’t identify my gay friends, my black friends, my white traditional straight vanilla mom friends, etc. How horrible would I be if I identified them as such for no reason? I only mention such identifiers when I feel it is relevant.
UPDATE See how the story unfolds:
Mommy, Make The Bad Man Stop
Enough Is Enough
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