Longform Links – 2008-05-08- Melissa Bruen, “Slumpbusting”, Language, Veganism

Seeking Avalon – Walk the Line

I was originally not going to comment on Melissa Bruen. Then I learned that there was backlash.


A young woman on a college campus walking back to her dorm is assaulted. She fights back. OTHER random men in the area then group assault her in retribution for her fighting off the first asswipe.

When I first read the story last night, the moment I read her taking more than one swing at the first guy I knew what had happened. You see there is a line women are supposed to walk without ever falling over. Comic bloggers and other fiction bloggers (women) talk about it all the time. We say “Madonna/Whore Complex” until those who aren’t getting it, just get sick of seeing it and tune it out. […]

During the first assault, Melissa Bruen was just a woman; faceless, without personality or autonomy of her own.. She was an ass to rub off on, an object that should just stand there and take it.

With the first swung blow of self defense she was MADONNA. She became a good girl who was suitably disgusted. The problem is, the MADONNA must be perfectly feminine and submissive while insisting that raw, unwanted sexuality not touch her. She must cajole and coax decent behavior for the sake of PURITY.

Women who’re trained in self-defense do so / can do so in order to give up having to play the MADONNA. Playing that role leaves you in the shower for hours trying to scrub away not just the touch of the invader, but something akin to self-hate, that you had to mollify an assaulter in order to survive. Survival is everything. It is the ONLY thing. But it can leave a film.

Melissa Bruen took a second swing and a third. She wanted this asswipe to know his advances were. not. welcome. And she fell, tumbling across the line to WHORE. The whore is not a good girl. She can be a virgin and she’s still not a good girl. Good girls know their place. Good girls don’t claim power. Good girls don’t say no and follow it up with pressure and physical hurt.

I realize this is Frank Miller logic, and you may think I’ve gone crazy. But please, try to hold on until the end. Cause I KNOW this. […]

Except for WoC. We know those rules at a pretty young age. Why? Well most of the time we never hit MADONNA. Jungle fever, and jigaboo and Jezebel and more; White Men are often convinced they have a fucking right to just reach out and touch us however they want. The days of slavery (and dominating colonialism) are gone, however, so they’ll put a polite fiction over it:

* You’re so exotic.

* I’ve never seen hair like that before

* You have the loveliest complexion

Bitch Blogs – Read It and Weep: Sports Edition

The Chicago White Sox haven’t been doing so hot, so they initiated a little “slumpbuster” that involved taking two female blow-up dolls and arranging them in the team clubhouse with baseball bats jammed into various orifices. Surrounding the dolls with players’ bats, the team also stuck a sign on one encouraging players and clubhouse visitors to “push.”

The stunt was vigorously defended by team manager Ozzie Guillen, whose version of the old I’m-sorry-if-anyone-was-offended copout was a masterpiece of douchebaggery. Some highlights, via the Chicago Sun-Times:

    “I’m sure it wasn’t done to disrespect anyone,” Guillen said Monday. “Everyone in the clubhouse, 100 percent of the people in the clubhouse, they are 18 years old and that’s a private thing. If the players do it in the dugout so everyone in the public could see it, or did it in the hotel lobby . . . we did it in the clubhouse. A lot of worse things happen in the clubhouse. I don’t really know why people are making it a big deal. If people got their feelings hurt because of that . . . they don’t really know much about baseball.”

Exactly! Of course! Really, what’s the harm here, ladies? It’s not like the blow-up dolls were in the lobby! And, as the always-sensitive Deadspin reminds us, there was a time when a true slumpbuster was defined as the ugliest woman a player could sleep with. So, you know, let’s listen to Guillen and count our blessings, shall we?

Coffee and Ink – Nice is Different from Good

Wear courtesy’s velvet gloves as often as you like. They do not disguise the steel fingers beneath, especially when they’re choking some of us to death. The RP community formerly known as Kristallnacht and the daily_deviant mods who decided to use “miscegenation” as a prompt clearly thought that their responses were polite because they were using “polite language.” This is sophistry. There is no polite way to tell someone you do not care about the genocide or oppression of their people. There is no polite way to make rape jokes. There is no polite way to use “gay” or “girl” as a synonym for “bad,” “weak,” or “ugly.” There is no polite way to blame a victim for their own harassment or abuse.

To riff off Stephen Sondheim: polite language is not good, it’s not right, it’s just nice. And when nice is prioritized over right or good, it’s just another form of oppression. It’s just another attempt by those in power to attempt to maintain the status quo.

Arguing that polite language in the face of offense is “more effective” is specious. People initially approached f/k/a Kristallnacht and theferrett with tactfully phrased objections, in some case approaching with an assumption and history of friendship. Politeness got nowhere. Outrage and group protest got somewhere. They didn’t necessarily change the minds of the offenders: defenders f/k/a Kristallnacht clearly don’t understand what’s wrong with calling someone a Nazi for protesting the trivialization of the Holocaust and theferrett is clearly nursing a sense of his grand utopian intentions having been foully misunderstood.

Vegans of Color – The Cult of Veganism; or Sit Down & Shut Up Little Brown Girl

The essence of this comment is that those of us concerned with anything else rather than the suffering of non-human animals are divisive, are weakening the vegan cause, are traitors. And we should just stop complaining & hew to the vegan party line.

It sounds remarkably like white feminists castigating women of color for calling out the racism of mainstream US feminism.

Instead of critiquing white male privilege within vegan circles, let’s go do some “real good,” right? Because heaven knows opposing racism & sexism, especially if we — gasp — critique other vegans, is a time-waster, a distraction from the REAL issues.

We’re being asked to identify as vegans over any other aspect of our identities & our lives. Again, the parallels with the feminist movement are just astounding. Women of color get punished for speaking up about racism in feminism. Vegans of color questioning whitecentric vegans also are penalized for such heretic thoughts. Color me surprised (pun intentional).


The very idea that one should ignore the impact of markers such as class, race, gender, sexual orientation, disability, etc. is completely repugnant. Clearly this viewpoint is steeped in deep, unthinking privilege. It is no secret that a lot of people of color, for instance, are put off animal rights issues because of racism & colonialism in the movement. Women are put off when they see veganism used to encourage women to hate their bodies.

About This Blog

Racialicious is a blog about the intersection of race and pop culture. Check out our daily updates on the latest celebrity gaffes, our no-holds-barred critique of questionable media representations, and of course, the inevitable Keanu Reeves John Cho newsflashes.

Latoya Peterson (DC) is the Owner and Editor (not the Founder!) of Racialicious, Arturo García (San Diego) is the Managing Editor, Andrea Plaid (NYC) is the Associate Editor. You can email us at team@racialicious.com.

The founders of Racialicious are Carmen Sognonvi and Jen Chau. They are no longer with the blog. Carmen now runs Urban Martial Arts with her husband and blogs about local business. Jen can still be found at Swirl or on her personal blog. Please do not send them emails here, they are no longer affiliated with this blog.

Comments on this blog are moderated. Please read our comment moderation policy.

Use the "for:racialicious" tag in del.icio.us to send us tips. See here for detailed instructions.

Interested in writing for us? Check out our submissions guidelines.

Follow Us on Twitter!

Support Racialicious

The Octavia Butler Book Club

The Octavia Butler Book Club
(Click the book for the latest conversation)

Recent Comments

Feminism for Real – Jessica, Latoya, Andrea

Feminism for Real

Yes Means Yes – Latoya

Yes Means Yes

Sex Ed and Youth – Jessica

Youth and Sexual Health


Online Media Legal Network

Recent Posts

Support Racialicious

Older Archives


Written by: