I Applaud Jia

For this post...


Since the appropriate response to any Jez post is personal anecdata, I shall give one:

A long time ago, there was a commenter on Jez. At the time I knew her across four or five forums. She was about 10 years older than me, which means she came of age in the 1970's. She was a well-regarded commenter, very grounded, very intelligent, very feminist. She was able to explain feminism from theory to practice in words everyone understood. Her day job was lawyer. And surprisingly, she wasn’t glued to any particular wave. She was able to ground rhetoric in the real life practicalities.


During the Polanski extradition business in the late 00's, I watched as she tried to explain that while he was most certainly a rapist, he wasn’t necessarily a pedophile given the culture of the time. And that in the case of rock stars and groupies, it’s understandable how sometimes the then teen groupies would laugh in the face of rape accusations when the situation was revisited as an adult.

And I watched her get ripped apart. More than I’ve seen anyone get torn apart on Jez forums, and we all know how vicious they can get.


Her point was not rape apologia, but to explain circumstances that were definitely a factor. That a young teen, faced with the certainty that she would “lose her virginity” at any time per the norms of the 70's, might take pains to have it go in a blaze of glory with status attached rather than under circumstances beyond her control. That she would determine the who and why, rather than being a complete victim to someone else’s whim.

And that on the other end, given that teens were considered appropriate sex partners in that culture, it was entirely possible that the act had nothing to with pedophilia. (Polanski - who most certainly was a rapist.) And that when faced with not only the willing but also the determined, and not having an understanding of power dynamics and the conversation about consent that hadn’t yet happened, they also weren’t necessarily a rapist. (Bowie.)


I haven’t seen that commenter since.

The conversation about consent is a very important one. I will argue till I’m blue in the face, not just for me but for younger generations. But it is a different time. Acknowledging that does not threaten the argument. It’s not invalidating anyone’s rape experience. It’s important to see how cultural norms affect it, and how the changes have come about. Stop attacking those from your own side who want to talk about it.


So I applaud Jia for even just trying to touch on the subject...with the exception of the last paragraph that was just words in nonsense format.

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