It's Been a Very Hard Day
The Abbreviated Backstory
For those of you who might not know, a new bar opened in our city last weekend. The Daquiri Factory is in the downtown area, and they have created a controversy that has now gone nationwide. I’m not directly involved in it, although, I am kind of on the periphery with supporting the protests against this bar and trying to educate people about the problem. I’ve also gotten a bit snarky from time to time (OK, a lot), with my favorite response being directly to the owner (on the bar’s Facebook page) that if nothing more comes out of this whole thing, I will stand proud that I was a part of helping him learn that there is no apostrophe in the plural from of daiquiri.
In a nutshell, they named a drink “Date Grape Koolaid,” and when told that it was insensitive to rape survivors and maybe they should change it, the owner came pretty much unhinged. Arguments have run the gamut from you people have no sense of humor to we never meant it to imply rape and you have a dirty mind for making that association to freedom of speech, mother f*ckers! Many people decided to see the bar’s tasteless-name brand of free speech and up it with their own protest-with-picket-signs-and-everything variety.
If you want the whole story, you can check out the many, many articles and news casts that are all over the web right now. Trust me, though, it’s ugly.
As for me, I’ve been getting to know some of the protesters online, as well as trying to give a little factual information to the bar’s supporters to help them see that maybe they should reconsider what they’re doing. It started with me saying things like “Hey, it’s not too cool to joke about rape” and escalated to the point where I responded to some guy’s complaint about us “whiney bitches” with links to stories with photos of rape victims with the suggestion that they could tell those ladies what they thought…except those ladies didn’t survive their attacks.
This…this is where my heart is breaking. I cannot believe the number of people who are supporting the Daquiri Factory. I cannot believe the absolutely vile and horrendous things they are saying in defense of it. Rape survivors are being openly mocked on the bar’s Facebook page. Hell, I was having a conversation with some folks on the protest page when two of the bar’s supporters (women, no less) showed up to let us know how fat, ugly, stupid, and sexless we all were. They called us whores, cocksuckers, and shared the opinion that we were so unattractive that we would have to use date rape drugs if we wanted to get any action. They also accused us of threatening them (we didn’t) and of being terrorists (um…nope).
These very same people keep telling us “It’s just a name! It’s just a drink! Why are you so upset?”
I’d like to say that I’m particularly proud of the fact that I cast myself as the comic relief in that conversation, and when they threatened to plaster pictures of us all over Facebook, I asked them to please pick ones from before I cut my bangs, as I was regretting my recent haircut decision. I posted some Kumbaya lyrics when the protesters were getting all lovey-dovey with each other. And when one of the “trolls” said we couldn’t possibly get laid without using roofies, I told her that might be true but that we’d never even joke about doing it because “THAT WOULD BE GROSS AND WRONG.”
I’m really trying to stay above the fray. I’m really trying not to sink into the mire and the muck. But, it’s hard. And when I am referred to as a “bully…” Well, anyone who knows me or reads this blog will suddenly have a clearer glimpse into how faulty these folks’ view of reality can be.
Where I’m Going with All This
Sure, this controversy started over a name, but for me (and I can’t truly speak for anyone else), it’s not about the name anymore. It’s not even about free speech. It’s about common decency.
Let’s say you’re walking down the street and you accidentally bump into a lady carrying some bags. Maybe you bump her kind of hard and she drops one of the bags on her foot before it spills on the ground. She says, “Ow.” Your general response would be to say something like, “Oh, I’m sorry. Are you OK?” At that point, you would quite possibly also pick up the things she dropped and hand the bag to her.
This situation, however, goes more like this:
This guy is zig-zagging down a crowded sidewalk and “accidentally” bumps into a lady carrying some bags. He bumps her kind of hard and she drops one of the bags on her foot before it spills on the ground. She says, “Ow.” The guy responds by knocking her down, telling her that her foot couldn’t possibly hurt, stealing her purse, and calling his friends up to come over and go through it to make fun of its contents. Oh, and while he’s at it, he’s going to insist to his friends that SHE bumped into him, and even though they all know he’s kind of a jerk, it’s a lot more fun to go along with his version of things.
That last part, though. I don’t know if that’s an accurate analogy because I cannot wrap my brain around what these people are thinking AT ALL. Sure, they have the right to free speech. They can totally make rape jokes all day long and half the night if they’d like. It is, as has been posted so very many times on the bar’s page, a free country.
Why would you want to say those things? Why, when a bunch of people came forward and said, “Hey, that’s really mean,” do these people feel like they should keep going and going and going? Why on this big, green earth would this be the battle that these folks decided was worth fighting? Why is there such a desire to defend the right to be horrible?
There are a lot of words being thrown around, like “butthurt” and “feminazi.” There are a lot of questions being raised about people’s educational backgrounds and understanding of the rules of grammar. There are conversations happening about what the right to free speech is all about.
Why is it so important to these folks to make jokes about rape, to tell rape victims that they should shut up or get tougher or that they “probably weren’t” really raped anyway? Why is that what is important to this group of people?
I am so incredibly disillusioned right now. I am drowning in my realization that so many of the people walking the same streets as I am are apparently carrying around an incredible darkness within them. I’ve seen glimpses of it before, but this situation has allowed them to out themselves.
I am grieving for the knowledge I have gained through this experience.
It Goes Both Ways
I’d like to point out that repugnant behavior, while definitely a staple of the supporters of the Daquiri Factory, hasn’t been limited to that side of the controversy. I’ve seen people who claim to be supporting victims suggest that various friends of the bar patrons should be “graped” and so forth. I made a point to call that shit out, too, just so you know. Not only did I publicly say “shame on you,” and “you sound even creepier than the bar owner right now,” but I also sent the person a private message and explained my point of view.
For the most part, though, the protestors have been incredibly respectful. OK, OK, so we’ve continually made fun of the fact that people who go to the Daquiri Factory don’t seem to realize that “you’re” and “your” are different words. That said, it’s also been made incredibly clear that no one involved with our particular group is to use violence, damage property, or—generally speaking—be a twat.
The folks on the Daquiri Factory’s page are making fun of the folks on the boycott page because the boycotters have actually been trying to find job openings for the employees of the DF. There’s concern that maybe some of the employees feel stuck there because they need the job. There’s also the idea that if the place ends up being shut down, it’s pretty awful for those people who depended on the place to have no income.
The bar’s supporters continually refer to the protesters and boycotters as being “selfish,” of not thinking of anything but their own agenda, of having no cares but pushing political correctness. To me, the fact that there is a whole thread devoted to looking for jobs for the people caught in the crossfire tells me a lot about the character of those who oppose the bar.
Several people have suggested that the owner, Jamie Pendleton has orchestrated this whole thing from the beginning to make money. That he somehow knew he would create this big controversy and it would bring him all this cash. To that I say, "baloney." Read what this writes. My feelings are that he's an egomaniac who stumbled into this and is now milking it. Don't get me wrong, he'll take credit for it while it's working, and if and when it fails, he'll blame everyone else. (Seriously, this guy considers himself a victim and takes zero responsibility for any of his actions.)
I hesitate to say this, but I kind of feel like it's the elephant in the room...This guy shows nearly all of the classic behaviors of sociopathy. I certainly do not have a psychology degree, but if he was Brittany Spears, it seems likely the courts would have appointed him a guardian by now for his own financial protection.
The Light at the End of the Tunnel
To be honest, I really thought this whole thing was going to blow over. I didn’t even get involved in it for the first few days. I figured the guy would get some publicity but would change the name (because, c’mon, it’s a rape joke). I was really, really surprised when that didn’t happen. It wasn’t until I started seeing all the support he was getting that I realized this was a Really Big Deal. Like, this kind of is our lunch-counter sit-in. This is our bus boycott. This is our opportunity to make an actual change.
That’s why I said to stick with me to the end if you wanted to get to the Something Good. To be honest, I have been overwhelmed by this. I feel utterly defeated. I am a survivor of sexual assault as a child and date rape as an adult. I have PTSD as a result of my abuse, and you can bet your ass I’m all sorts of triggered by the constant stream of rape imagery, horrid comments, and such going through my Facebook feed this week. I’ve told myself repeatedly that I should just walk away for my own sake.
But, I’m choosing not to. Because you know what? There are probably thousands of people in the country (the world, as I have learned that this story is international) who never even knew what “rape culture” was before this happened. I’m not an idiot. I know that many of them who have learned the term in the last few days are finding ways to believe it doesn’t exist (one of the best so far is the constant reminders on the Daquiri Factory’s page that it’s not in the dictionary). However, there are a whole lot of people who now know that it does. And they will join the fight against it.
One of the saddest things I keep seeing is people saying, “If you want to stop date rape, then watch your drink closely, don’t walk alone, blah, blah, blah.” It’s ALL about how the woman (or sometimes man) should keep herself from getting raped. NONE of it is about teaching respect for others, to keep your hands off others, that only “yes” means “yes.”
So, I have cried a lot today. I have screamed and cursed and dreamed of moving away. I am disgusted that Jamie Pendleton is making money off of this. On the other hand, he is doing more to educate the country about the existence of rape culture than just about anyone right now. And that is Something Good.
If you're not sure what "rape culture" means, this is an excellent introduction.