Today’s guest blog (which includes discussion of rape and sexual assault), was written after something very odd happened. It happened just before Christmas, and thanks to a combination of anxiety and Christmas stress I wasn’t keen to delve too deeply into it at the time. But New Year is a time for Getting On With Stuff, and what better things to be Getting On With than calling out shitty companies who behave badly?
A company called Quite Delightful (who tweet under @QuiteBriefly on Twitter), got into something of a heated debate in December about James Deen. In case you’re not aware, many women have accused Deen of rape or sexual assault, and Deen has denied the allegations. The statements that Quite Delightful made showed what I think is a pretty callous attitude towards people who have been raped or sexually assaulted.
On a personal level, I obviously disagree with QD. On a boring professional level, I’m pretty surprised that this company was happy to alienate a whole bunch of sex writers, customers, and potential customers – not just dismissing them but tweeting in a way that all their followers could see, thus inviting others to come and tell us just how wrong we were. It bothers me because I have seen the company (which publishes an ‘erotic magazine by and for women’) recommended by a number of people I respect in the sex industry, and I figure there are probably quite a few of them who are unaware of the comments @QuiteBriefly made, because they have since deleted their tweets.
So many thanks to @sophable – a customer of theirs, who has kindly offered to explain why this left a very bad impression.
‘Quite Delightful’, James Deen and me
I don’t think I’ve ever seen a James Deen film. Nor one starring Stoya. I’ve taken an interest in the story in the same way that I do anything pertaining to feminism, women’s voices, rape culture and sex. All areas of deep interest to me as a right thinking human being. I am unceasingly dismayed at how pervasive rape culture is. Victim blaming is endemic: even the nicest people, the nicest women, do it without even knowing it. It’s fucking depressing. Some of my best friends…
For female porn industry workers to come forward and make claims of sexual assault and rape is particularly brave. In a world where what a women wears is deemed not just relevant but causative in terms of her assault by a man you have to have a shit load of guts to say that mid rough sex scene consent left the building and you were raped. I believe the women who have come forward to accuse James Deen. I believe them because I tend to believe women. I believe them because the numbers of actual assaults and rapes dwarf cases of false allegation to an enormous extent and so the numbers are with me. I believe them because misogyny, assault, casual sexism and male entitlement to female bodies are so commonplace as to be (horrifically) mundane.
But my believing them or not isn’t really the point. The point is that I do not expect the kind of misogyny that carelessly uses phrases such as ‘cry rape’ to reside in an organisation that purports to be for and by women.
I came across Quite Delightful earlier this year, based on a recommendation on Erika Lust (the feminist pornographer’s) site. Given that I am a feminist and obsessed with sex I am always pleased to find sources of non-exploitative, woman friendly dirty smut. I proceeded to purchase with gusto. It’s not cheap. Quite Delightful is less a magazine more a coffee table book sized quarterly. The filthiest thing about it is the quality of the paper and binding which is highest of high end. It definitely belongs more on the coffee table than in the bedroom (not that you can’t do it on a coffee table etc). It’s an aesthetic rather than erotic thing. Gorgeous arty pics of nude men and women and their various appendages are great to look at but not what get me going.
That said QD really is a beautiful thing and I was pleased to find another corner of the erotica world populated by women doing their thing with women for women. Excellent news all round. So seeing the QD twitter feed defending Deen until proven guilty in a court of law and using the phrase ‘cry rape’ was a bit of a jaw/floor moment. I expect it in some, even most quarters. I do not expect it from an organisation that makes its money claiming to be about female sexuality and woman friendly. At all.
Several voices including mine pointed out that not believing a woman unless she brings charges completely ignores the fact that the judicial system in this country and the states is at best useless to rape victims and at worst re-assaults them through the horrendous trial of victims’ lifestyles, that ensues. It’s a horrible truth that faced with pressing charges, the majority of victims choose not to because the law is an ass in this area.
(Additional note from GOTN: At no point has James Deen been put on ‘trial by social media.’ Twitter’s a pretty useful tool but as yet Twitter on its own has never sent anyone to jail: you don’t get arrested when an accusation hits a retweet threshold. What’s happened is women have come forward and made allegations. James Deen has denied them. He has not been imprisoned, arrested or punished by the state.
What has happened is that he’s lost a number of jobs. I think for very good reason: sexual consent is not just ‘important’ in the role of porn actor – it is a fundamental part of your job. Would you hire an accountant who’d been ten times accused of embezzlement?)
What’s more, when @QuiteBriefly said this:
They may not have been aware that fear of being ‘forced into court’ (or sued) is yet another fear for sexual assault victims who come forward. In fact, it’s one which became very real for some of Bill Cosby’s accusers.
How is it possible that a woman friendly company, within the arena of sex and erotica doesn’t understand the issue here? Impossible I would argue. And so how on earth can these tweets be justified? I’ve gone round and round this in my head: what on earth can have been going on?
It makes me want to chuck the issues of QD that I have in a drawer under my bed away. Not only because of an apparent attitude that believes a self confessed arrogant jerk over the queue of women risking their professional reputations to come forward, but using the kind of misogynist language that is the opposite of their self professed ‘woman friendly’ brand.
My overriding feeling is of disgust. Not at the erotica. At the misogyny and ignorance of the organisation that makes it.
(Note from GOTN: I’ve asked @QuiteBriefly if these are the opinions of the company or an individual. I asked again, and again, and again for them to respond. They haven’t. What’s more, after a chat with a couple of other sex bloggers about the company ‘Quite Delightful’, this isn’t the only area in which they’ve shown a total lack of awareness over social issues. If I were you I would not support them.)