Is “rape culture” real?
If so, what’s created it?
On Wednesday, a New York Times article fingered an assailant making society stink: Looney Tunes cartoon character Pepé Le Pew.
CANCEL CULTURE: New York Times and Twitter Mods want to cancel Pepe le Pew for trying to have his way with a cat. I still want to hear his side of the story but unfortunately, he’s a cartoon skunk. pic.twitter.com/n6wbh4uJVa
— Price of Reason (@priceoreason) March 6, 2021
In “Six Seuss Books Bore a Bias,” columnist Charles M. Blow primarily writes of race:
As a child, I was led to believe that Blackness was inferior. And I was not alone.
The idea went deep:
The Black society into which I was born was riddled with these beliefs.
Call it a vague invalidation:
It wasn’t something that most if any would articulate in that way, let alone knowingly propagate. Rather, it was in the air, in the culture. We had been trained in it, bathed in it, acculturated to hate ourselves.
To hear Charles tell it, black kids were raised feeling rotten:
It happened for children in the most inconspicuous of ways: It was relayed through toys and dolls, cartoons and children’s shows, fairy tales and children’s books.
“At every turn, at every moment,” he explains,”I was being baptized in the narrative that everything white was right, good, noble and beautiful, and everything Black was the opposite.”
The contributor notes the first book he ever bought was “Job from the Bible.”
Do you remember the tormented character being Caucasian?
“Job was the whitest of white men in the book…”
Also white: “the white savior with white beard lounging on a cloud.”
Every representation of Christianity, he says, was white.
My great-uncle had a picture of a stringy-haired, blue-eyed white Jesus hanging over his bed.
Young Charles’s entertainment included reruns of Tarzan, “about a half-naked white man in the middle of an African jungle who conquers and tames it and outwits the Black people there, who are all portrayed as primitive, if not savage.”
And Our Gang’s Buckwheat “summoned all the stereotypes of the pickaninny.”
Delving further into the boob tube’s toxicity, what of Westerns? They “regularly depicted Native Americans as aggressive, bloodthirsty savages against whom valiant white men were forced to fight.”
Information everywhere was white, white, white — before he could even get to a mirror:
In the case of the American Negro, from the moment you are born every stick and stone, every face, is white. Since you have not yet seen a mirror, you suppose you are, too. It comes as a great shock around the age of 5, 6, or 7 to discover that the flag to which you have pledged allegiance, along with everybody else, has not pledged allegiance to you. It comes as a great shock to see Gary Cooper killing off the Indians, and although you are rooting for Gary Cooper, that the Indians are you.
Another culprit: Columbus Day, observed “by coloring pictures of a happy, smiling white man and his three boats, not knowing that Columbus was a brutal enslaver and slave trader and who wrote in 1500 of enslaved women and girls: ‘A hundred castellanoes are as easily obtained for a woman as for a farm, and it is very general and there are plenty of dealers who go about looking for girls: those from nine to ten are now in demand.’”
As an experiment roughly 30 years ago, Charles asked his 4- or 5-year-old nephew to pick those who were prettiest in his high school yearbook.
“Every face on which that little brown finger landed,” he laments, “was white.”
It underscores, he surmises, “that the things that we present children with, believing them innocent, can be highly corrosive and racially vicious.”
So how do we change things for the youngsters?
As it turns out, cancel culture can conjure an assist.
On February 26th, I covered the downfall of Dr. Seuss.
Townhall reports the Dr. Seuss Foundation will no longer publish six of the author’s works due to their inclusion of “offensive material.”
Following that, Ebay removed copies for sale.
🔥 Fahrenheit 450° Books almost burning.
Look at this from eBay pic.twitter.com/rqoIoeQ8bi
— Adam Townsend (@adamscrabble) March 4, 2021
(Still available: Mein Kampf)
Charles believes the book brouhaha was brilliant:
I cheered as some bemoaned another victim of so-called “cancel culture.”
Finally, amid those iconic components of childhood in need of a kick-out: a certain amorous animal.
Pepé Le Pew’s long been a lover on the small screen…
But Charles smells something wholly hateful.
“Some of the first cartoons I can remember,” he recalls, “included Pepé Le Pew, who normalized rape culture…”
To be sure, Charles isn’t the first to scathe the skunk.
In October 2019, The Christian Post sprayed the amorous animal:
Today…I found myself contemplating another disturbing expression of violence in Looney Tunes, in this case, the sexually aggressive stalking behavior of everybody’s favorite amorous skunk, Pepé Le Pew.
Pepé conforms to the familiar “stalking is love” trope in which the persistent would-be beau who refuses to take no for an answer is viewed favorably and is often rewarded for his persistence.
According to Julia Lipmann, the stalking tropes in romantic comedies can serve to normalize abusive and threatening behavior as part of romance. It isn’t a stretch to suppose that the attitudes which may bloom in one’s teens and twenties might be seeded in one’s childhood.
Typically, in these animated shorts, the cat that is desperate to flee Pepé is utterly terrified, her face contorted with abject horror. And yet, Pepé’s aggressive actions — the relentless pursuit and unwelcome groping/sexual assault — are played for laughs. This just isn’t funny.
Back to Charles, he thinks tykes’ entertainment is in for an overhaul.
“Racism must be exorcised from culture,” he asserts, “including, or maybe especially, from children’s culture. Teaching a child to hate or be ashamed of themselves is a sin against their innocence and a weight against their possibilities.”
And teaching them to rape? That’s arguably even worse.
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