Feministing Year in Review: Miriam’s picks

Two of my favorite posts this year were letters from Feministing contributors to public figures.

Johnny Depp Vanity Fair coverMaya hit it out of the park with her snarky yet sincere letter to Johnny Depp, when he compared having to participate in photo shoots to rape:

Dear Johnny,

Big fan over here. Your incredible acting skills and magnetic sex appeal made me fall in love with every single one of your characters–even that lovable, dirty scoundrel Captain Jack Sparrow. So kudos to you!

But, no. Being photographed is not like being raped. At all. I have not been professionally photographed or raped before, but I feel pretty sure about this one. As a general rule, you should just steer clear of rape metaphors. Comparing things that are not rape–such as taxes or health care reform or, um, being photographed–to rape trivializes a crime that is too-often ignored and is just pretty insensitive to the many people who have experienced the unique awfulness of actual rape.

Besides the obvious fact that being photographed is not, actually, a violent crime against your body, this is not even an accurate rape metaphor. Rape is about the lack of consent. If you don’t want to be in a photoshoot, you don’t have to. You’re the highest-paid actor in Hollywood these days, Johnny! You could forgo the millions of dollars you get paid to do them and just stick to the quick snaps with adoring fans. Yes, many of those fans, like me, will miss the chance to pour over your sexy spreads, but we don’t want you to do something that feels so intrusive to you! Truly.

Early this year Chloe wrote a heartbreaking letter to Naomi Wolf for her treatment of the Assange sexual assault case, a feeling I know many of us can relate to:

My friend and colleague Lori wrote a few weeks ago about respectfully disagreeing with you when it comes to the allegations against Assange. Well, with all due respect, Ms. Wolf, I feel betrayed.

In 2004, you claimed that you had been the victim of an unwanted sexual advance. You came forward and told your story, and spoke about how it felt to be violated and then silenced. You no doubt gave a lot of other women the courage to come forward as well, courage they might not otherwise have found. You told us that our experiences mattered. The groping, the street harassment, the date rape, you told us it all mattered. You told us we had the right to speak up if we wanted to, and that we deserved to be taken seriously when we did.

Now, it seems, you’ve changed your mind. Now, it seems, you don’t think that women deserve to be taken seriously when they come forward. You joked about allegations of sexual violence and waved away claims of unwanted penetration. You told the world that these women don’t deserve to be taken seriously. You have engaged in the time-old practice of dividing women who experience sexual violence into two camps – those who count as “real” victims, and those who are ignored and silenced. It’s a practice you used to abhor, but now, you’ve taken it upon yourself to decide who gets to be a “real” sexual violence victim. To those of us who were emboldened by the stance you once held on sexual violence, your belief that any form of sexual violation is unacceptable, it’s a stinging slap in the face.

Lastly, I have to give kudos to Zerlina for her post on the slate of Republican Presidential candidates. She’s been following the race with impressive commitment, but this earnest but very true analysis of the candidates many sexist guffaws stood out. Sometimes snark is the only way to deal.

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