Tuesday, April 22, 2008

One of these things is not like the others

A copy of my email to New York Magazine:

To the Editor:

I recently received the first issue of a new subscription to NY Mag (April 28, 2008). I was excited, given I use the website all the time. I opened the article on Gossip Girl with a little trepidation - another piece about how it really captures something truly zeitgeisty of the NYC / privileged teenaged lives, etc., etc. Instead, my concerns were focused on the diagram of the interwoven lives of the characters on Gossip Girl.

I get it, that you had to colour code the different types of relationships, but I am interested to know how long and hard you thought about the decision to categorise "attempted date rape" as the same type of thing (colour = purple) as "hooking up" or "losing one's virginity." You separated sex from dating-type relationships - hence blue for boyfriend/girlfriend, which is an interesting concept, too, that sex of the one night stand type is removed from the sex in a relationship. Date rape may be closer to the general sex continuum than stranger rape,* as it may result from what started as a romantic encounter, but it troubles me that it's so easily put alongside consensual sex, given repeated studies about the closer relationship between power and rape than sexual desire and rape.

Yours, a potential unsubscribee.

* [note that I use "may," because I'm not sure how I feel about this at all. Talking to a friend who watches the show regularly, she said that he was kissing forcefully and had to be fought off - so it was not as close to rape as the magazine makes out. But my point remains, I feel, and I'm not in any way justifying or excusing date rape. I think it's just as damaging and dreadful]

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