Posted by: Dan | November 4, 2015

Lest We Forget

In Palestine, the people are rising.  What choice do they have?  How much do we expect them to take?

Israeli snipers have been targeting children.  Little ones, unarmed, defenseless against some of the most professional soldiers in all of history.  There are videos of these shootings online.  One shows a boy shot through by multiple bullets.  There is nothing exceptional about this video.  There are many others like it.  But this boy, in this video, is shot through by the bullets of a sniper.  He is alone and bleeding out on a sidewalk. Nobody stops to care for him.  Not the civilian or the officers who are present.  The settler filming it all on his phone yells, “Die! Die, you motherfucker, die! Die, you faggot, die! Die, you son of a bitch!” and he makes sure to yell in both Hebrew and Arabic so that the boy understands him.

The boy, Ahmed Manasra, calls for help but no one helps him.  As he cries out, you can hear his lungs filling with blood.

That boy survived.  Other children — Muhammad al-Kasbeh, Laith al-Khalidi, Muhammad al-Masri, two others who are unnamed, not to mention 18 month old Ali Saad Dawabsheh, who was burned to death in his home by Israeli settlers — did not survive.  They are never coming back again.  They are dead. And the parents who lost them, the siblings who survived them, the aunts and uncles and cousins and friends and neighbours and partners, and all the people who wept and threw stones at tanks and concrete barriers — what choice do they have?  How much do we expect them to take?

DUMA,WEST BANK - JULY 31: Surrounded by her relatives the body of the 18 month old baby Ali Saad-Dawabsheh is carried during her funeral on July 31, 2015 in the Palestinian village of Duma, West Bank. A house fire in the Palestinian village of Duma, West Bank, suspected to have been set by Jewish extremists, killed an 18-month-old Palestinian child, injuring both the parents and four year old son. (Photo by Oren Ziv/Getty Images)

The body of the 18 month old baby Ali Saad-Dawabsheh is carried during her funeral on July 31, 2015 in the Palestinian village of Duma, West Bank.

The Israeli Prime Minister responded to all of this by saying that Palestinians were actually to blame for the Holocaust.  Germany responded to this by clarifying that Germany was actually to blame.


Yesterday, Charlie asked me if there are any special calendar days or holidays in November.  I told him that Remembrance Day is happening on November 11th.  He asked me what Remembrance Day is.  I told him that it is a day when we are supposed to remember that war is a terrible, terrible thing.  We remember this, I explained, with the hope that the memory will be strong enough that it will stop us from going to war and bring us peace.  Charlie asked me if there are still wars happening.  I told him that there are.  He asked me what happens in war.  I said that people kill and hurt other people with guns and bombs and usually a lot of people suffer and die so that a few people can get really rich.  “Do they use swords, too?” he asked me.  “They do,” I said.

He paused for awhile and then he asked me if babies get killed in wars.  I said that even babies die in wars.  He paused again and asked me if kids die in wars, too.  “Yes, kids die, too,” I replied.

He paused again and then he said, “I wish there was no more war.  And no more dying.


Meanwhile, in this colonized territory where my people have settled, we recently elected an new Prime Minister.  He is the most recent great white hope for those who still feel the need to hope in politicians.  “Anything but Harper,” was the rallying cry for voters across this nation during the campaign, and the Conservatives were voted out, the Liberals were voted in, and we got a Trudeau.

Trudeau the First, it should be remembered, was responsible for bringing forward the White Paper in 1969, a genocidal piece of policy that aimed to eradicate these occupied territories of their original inhabitants, along with the help of a young Jean Chrétien (who also later became a Liberal Prime Minister of Canada).  Here’s another fun fact about Trudeau the First and Chrétien – they both physically assaulted people who were protesting the violence of their reigns.

Is it any wonder, then, that Trudeau the Second has an unblemished record of unconditional support for Israel?  Pundits have remarked that, although T2’s tone may shift, his actions will be the same.

(Meanwhile, that supposed bastion of the “true Left” in Canada, the New Democratic Party, prevented all of its candidates from speaking in favour of the Palestinians or against Israel, and enforced a firmly pro-Israel stance upon its members as well.  This after they already decided they weren’t democratic socialists anymore and purged the Party literature of any reference to socialism.)

Settler Colonials of the world unite!  We have nothing to lose… because everything is already ours all the time.  The trees to cut down, the earth to tear up, the water to poison, the lives of others to use and use up as we see fit.  Or, as T2 said a few months ago, “we also take the opportunity to reaffirm our unwavering commitment to working with regional partners and allies to ensure a safe and secure state for the Jewish people.” Or, slightly paraphrased, he said, “Die! Die, you motherfucker, die! Die, you faggot, die! Die, you son of a bitch!”

Because, while Israeli snipers hunt Palestinian children for sport, to the great amusement of Israeli settlers, we’ve done the same with many others in the occupied territories we call Canada.  I’d tell you to go and ask the Beothuk about that, but we hunted them to extinction.  There are no more Beothuk.  But I’m sure there was a lot of general hilarity provided for the settlers here who watched them die.



I wasn’t sure what to say when Charlie asked me about war, and about wars killing babies and children.  I didn’t anticipate that conversation.  I didn’t even want to have it.  Why do children have to learn about the horrible things people do to other people?

But even as I was thinking about this, and about my wish that I didn’t have to teach my children these things, and about my wish that my children could be kept young and innocent and pure of heart forever and ever (Charlie wished this, too, after wishing for no more war and no more dying, he wished we would all have no more birthdays and stay the same age we are now forever – because, for some reason, he has concluded that people and things die when they turn 100 and so if we stay the same age we won’t die), I realized how privileged my family is.  I can choose to talk about war or not talk about war with my kids.  We stumbled onto the topic by accident.

Things are different for the children of those who have been violently colonized or born into any one of the multitude of hells we have created in this beautiful home we call earth.  This is as true for children who survived St. Anne’s Residential school, in what we call Fort Albany, Ontario, as it is for children who survived the Israeli shelling of a United Nations run school in Gaza.

And this is what I think sometimes.  Sometimes I think that Lefties in these occupied territories like to focus on Israel and how horrible Israel is (and it is horrible, it truly is), so that they can tell themselves a certain story about themselves.  Specifically, they focus on Israel in order to feel like they are not like Israelis.  How could they be like that?  And so they join in protests and write letters to their Member of Parliament, and post links on facebook… all while living as settlers in a land that continues to be colonized through a commitment to genocide by whatever means possible (and a shift in means should not cause us to think the genocide is somehow less violent or more acceptable).


The Beothuk, by the way, used to put red ochre on their skin and clothing and other objects.  They were some of the first people encountered by European settlers.  It is likely because of this, and not because of the actual colour of their skin, that Europeans began to call Indigenous peoples “redskins” which then also became a term associated with the bounties that were paid to those who hunted and killed Indigenous people.  Hence, you were paid for various animal skins — foxes, otters, wolves, etc. — but you were also paid for the number of red skins you brought in (which also helps to explain why the term is so offensive, since settlers tend to not take others at their word when they are told that something they say is offensive).  Hence, the Phips Declaration of 1755 reads as follows:

Whereas the Tribe of Penobscot Indians have repeatedly in a perfidious manner acted contrary to their Solemn Submission unto his Majesty long since mad and frequently renewed. I have therefore at the desire of the House of Representatives with the Advice of his Majesty’s Council thought fit to issue the Proclamation and to declare the Penobscot tribe of Indians to be Enemies, Rebells, and Traitors to his Majesty King George the Second.

And I do hereby require his Majesty’s Subjects of this Province to Embrace all opportunities of pursuing, captivating, killing and Destroying all and every of the aforesaid Indians.

And whereas the General Court of the Province have Voted that a bounty or Incouragement be granted and allowed to be paid out of the public Treasury to the Marching Forces that shall have been employed for the Defence of the Eastern and Western Frontiers from the first of the twenty-fifth of this Instant November — I have thought fit to publish the same and I do hereby Promis that there shall be paid out of the Province Treasury to all and any of the said Forces over and above their Bounty upon inlistment, their Wages and Subsistance the Premiums or Bounty following viz.

For every Male Penobscot Indian above the Age of twelve years that shall be taken within the Time aforesaid and brought to Boston Fifty Pounds.

For every Female Penobscot Indian taken and brought in as aforesaid and for Every Male Indian Prisoner under the age of twelve Years taken and brought in as aforesaid Twenty five Pounds.

For every Scalp of such Female Indian or Male Indian under the Age of twelve years that Shall be killed and brought in as Evidence of their being killed as aforesaid, Twenty pounds.

Given at the Council Chamber in Boston this third day of November 1755 and in the twenty ninth Year of the Reign of our Sovereign Lord George the second by the Grace of God of Great Britain France and Ireland King Defender of the Faith.

Fifty pounds for the scalp of males older than 12.  For females and males under the age of 12 brought in as prisoners, 25 pounds.  For the scalps of females, or males under the age of 12, 20 pounds.  Here in the territories called Canada, it took until after the year 2000 for it to be clarified that government bounties for Indigenous scalps were no longer enforced.


I don’t know how I handled the conversation with Charlie.  I mentioned Remembrance Day and why it was founded — lest we forget and plunge the world into war again — but I didn’t tell him that the current way in which Remembrance Day is celebrated is a betrayal of this kind of memory.  Now we do not remember in order to avoid war.  Now, Remembrance Day has become a ritual of honouring those who fought and died and made the ultimate sacrifice in a world where war is inevitable and perpetual.  In fact, if there is one day of the year when you are not permitted to be anti-war, it is Remembrance Day.  Speak out again war, and you will be seen as blaspheming the sacrifices of those who gave their lives for what they thought was something like freedom for us all (but what, in actuality, was likely profit for a very few).


“Support our troops!” is often yelled at those who speak critically of war.  But I do support our troops.  Not just with my tax dollars but sentimentally as well.  I support them by thinking it is best if they all lay down their arms and go back to their families or friends or jobs or lovers or hobbies or mundane lives.  Better that than dying.  Better that than killing.

(Remember Shidane Arone? And remember that it was a Liberal government that tried to cover up that matter and then also tried to divert attention away from it and prevent the inquest from bringing any real reform?)

But I didn’t say any of this to Charlie.  He learned that there are wars and that they are terrible.  He learned that even babies and children die and suffer in wars.  That’s a lot to learn.  I don’t think he’s ready yet to learn that people don’t actually want a world without war.  To be honest, I don’t know that I’m ready to learn that either.  But I did.  And he will, too, eventually.


Charlie has a stuffed animal his mother gave to him.  It is a multicoloured unicorn named Wishful.  He snuggles with her at night.  Apparently the tag on her neck says that she grants wishes.  Beware of giving such things to children who can read.  The night after our conversation, he cuddled up around her and wished for no more war and no more dying.  The next morning, when he woke up, there was still war and dying.

He looked sad and perplexed.  Why didn’t Wishful grant his wishes?  Something was wrong and he wasn’t sure how to make it right.

I know the feeling.

We didn’t think they’d rise
And even if they did, we figured they’d understand
That we only voted strategically
—–Our hearts were elsewhere
———-I’d have voted Green if it wasn’t such a waste
—–But anyone but Harper sounded too good to pass up.
———-How can we be to blame
—————When we voted him out?

We didn’t think they’d rise
And even if they did, we figured they’d understand
After all, we drove a Prius
—–And bought organic, local-grown
———-Fruits and vegetables
—–And our hundred dollar sweaters
———-Were purchased through a fair trade arrangement
—————Between the store at the mall and a village in Thailand

We didn’t think they’d rise
And even if they did, we figured they’d understand
That although our tax dollars purchased bombs
—–We rather wished they’d didn’t
———-Plus there’s a peace sign on the bumper of our Prius
—–And although we funded the murder of entire villages in the Middle East
———-We sponsor a child in Mexico
—————Her picture is on the fridge next to the ice dispenser

We didn’t think they’d rise
And even if they did, we figured they’d understand
That although we’re middleclass settlers
—–We visited Occupy encampments
———-And dropped off socks at the shelter at Christmas
—–And we applauded idle no more
———-Even though we have no Indigneous friends
—————They just didn’t seem to be around

We didn’t think they’d rise
And even if they did, we figured they’d be merciful
Even though we were not
—–Because we wanted something different
———-And used gender neutral language
—–Because that wasn’t really us
———-We didn’t pull the triggers
—————Or fly the planes or give the orders

We didn’t think they’d rise
And even if they did, we figured they’d be merciful
Because surely there cannot be others as cruel as us
—–With no regard for the lives of children
———-Or the bodies of women and men
—–It’s not our fault they were downwind
———-Of Tar Sands or Chemical Valley
—————Or Free Trade agreements and Private Property

We didn’t think they’d rise
And even if they did, we figured they’d be merciful
Because our kids at least are innocent
—–Although theirs were too before we killed them
———-Or maimed them or took them away
—–But that’s not the point
———-We didn’t think they’d rise
—————We hardly thought of them at all

[What follows is the transcript of the material I tried to present at a conference called Streetlevel.  It’s a conference for people working in social services that are rooted in the Christian faith.  As you will see in what follows, I see this as an highly problematical endeavour.  However, given the audience and given my own background in textual criticism, especially in relation to the New Testament, I found it useful to use language, stories, and characters familiar to the audience in order to try and make some of my points.]

“How can I be healthy, when I’m already dead?”  Confronting the dominance of the medical model within social services, with an oppression-informed analysis


I will begin by recognizing that I am speaking while occupying land that Creator has gifted to the keeping of the Anishinaabe and shared with the Haudenosaunee and Lenape.  I lift my hands to these caretakers of the land and thank them for allowing people like me to live, work, play, and settle in their territories beside the Askunessippi and all across Turtle Island.  As a Settler, I benefit from the ongoing project of Settler colonialism as it plays out in the occupied territories named “Canada” on the maps we learned in school (maps that no longer show European colonies like Rhodesia, the Belgian Congo or Spanish Guinea, but which continue to show Canada).  In these territories, more than six hundred Indigenous nations have been the target of genocidal practices and policies from before independence up until the present day.  In all of this, the government of Canada, the Christian churches, the charities, and all the settlers and citizens of the nation, have been implicated.  Indeed, it is necessary to acknowledge from the beginning that as a white male settler of Christian European descent, I am a beneficiary of the genocidal process of colonization that has secured for me legal rights, access to wealth and education, and political and social status.  So, it is with a sense of my own liability and responsibility that I express my thanksgiving and lift my hands to the caretakers of the land I occupy. Chi-miigwetch.

In light of this history of genocide, so tightly woven together with the history of Christianity, it is often difficult to think or speak of God, and just as difficult to think about prayer.  However, I want to open with a prayer I learned from an elder in Vancouver’s downtown eastside.  After sharing some of his story of surviving in a Christian-run residential school, a student in a class I was helping to lead asked this elder what he now thought of God.  The student was doing what I have seen lots of Christians do – she was struggling to really hear this story of abuse, to see how it was intimately linked to Christianity, and to then respond in a manner that genuinely sought to enter into communion with the man sharing.  It seemed as though she was more upset by the idea that a person may have drifted away from the Christian God because of this experience (because she was convinced that Jesus Christ was not represented but misrepresented in residential schools and that the people who did such horrible things were not really Christians, even though they called themselves Christians). She was wanted to highlight the importance of maintaining a sense of one’s relationship with the Christian God.  She was, in other words, trying to be both sensitive and missional (these two characteristics will come up a lot in what follows).  In response to this line of questioning, the elder was very gracious.  He did not say too much but he did say that there was a prayer that he learned from one of his elders.  This was a prayer he could still pray.  It is one I can still pray, too, and I will pray it now:

Creator, may this day be good.

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Posted by: Dan | September 29, 2015

Things That Are Not Things That Are

plectostoma sciaphilum

This is the part about things

Looking back on myself now, I am amazed at the ease with which I spoke of some things. To speak of any thing at all (as if things are things-that-are) is increasingly an absurdity. But all this absurdity is pragmatic. Names are lies and violence and beyond any imaginable bounds of belief or justification, but we name everything (every thing, too, is a name – even if names are also not things-that-are) and so we are able to continue to maximize our efficiency in waking and sleeping and working and paying off credit card bills and taxes and fines and drug dealers (pharmacists?) and everyone else who takes the money for which we are trading our lives. Language may be ideology and fiction, but it works. And I may also be ideology and fiction but I work, too – pretty much everything is structured to ensure that I do. And if I don’t, don’t worry, there are employment resource centres and shelters and social workers to punish me (support me?) for as long as I’m unemployed and to try their damnedest to get me back to living in order to work for money as soon as possible.

Ten years from now, if this fiction that I lie about and name “my life” or “myself” is still being written (as if it is being written, as if it’s a text, as if there’s an author, as if it is, as if I am an I-that-am), I imagine I’ll look back at all of this and be amazed at the ease with which I spoke of it.

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Posted by: Dan | June 23, 2015

Reflections on Father’s Day


We were holding hands when we walked over the ridge of the dune and saw them. There were three of them. Bigger than newborns but still young enough to be with their mom (at first I wondered if they had been orphaned but a minute later I saw her – she was standing back amongst the trees and scrub and she had seen us long before we spotted her). There was nobody else on the beach and they were playing and jumping on each other. They were dashing towards the water and bouncing back, then dashing, then bouncing, then dashing, then bouncing – as though they had never seen water like this before and it thrilled them and filled them with wonder and joy and the kind of fear that is fun to feel – the kind that is exciting to face into, not the kind that seems bigger than we are.

We held hands and we watched. What did we witness? Three children playing and rejoicing in the world into which they had been thrown. My children were much the same when they went to the beach. Only these children were a little older and they were playing and rejoicing in their own bodies and the strength that was growing within them. And they were all playing together – playing with each other just as much as they were playing with the water and the sand.

Eventually they caught our scent and they turned and bounded over the sand to join their mother, white tails high in the air, wagging back and forth like flags. They made it look effortless.

I wanted to kiss you at that moment.
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Posted by: Dan | June 13, 2015

Spectres of Paul: An Interview with Neil Elliott

[The following is an interview I conducted over a number of weeks with Neil Elliott. Neil is one of the New Testament scholars who most influenced my own trajectory (both within and then away from the Academy) and so it was a real delight for me to be able to have this exchange with him. It was refreshing to find a Pauline scholar who does not idolize or obsess about Paul and who hasn’t simply built a life around saying new or clever things about this or that passage or book or verb or theme. Neil’s concern, I believe, is not to study Paul for the sake of Paul or for the sake of study itself, but to engage Paul as one (amongst many) of the ways in which we can try to disarm the Death-dealers and contribute to that which is Life-giving and Life-affirming. I have a great deal of respect for this approach. Indeed, one could argue that this is one possible way of responding well to Malcolm X’s injunction (which is echoed by Taiaiake Alfred) that well-meaning white folks leave black (and Indigenous) communities alone — there is more than enough wisdom, strength and power within black and indigenous communities for them to care for themselves — and go and deal with the violence and of white people and white supremacy.

Many thanks, Neil, for your willingness to do this and for engaging in such a open manner. I hope what follows will be a source of encouragement to some of those who are haunted by Paul and Malcolm and Toussaint and Martin and Oscar and Dessalines, and who strive to, in turn, inhabit the nightmares of Nero and Obama and Harper and Boeing and Shell and Transcanada.]

(1) The 1994 publication of Liberating Paul: The Justice of God and the Politics of the Apostle seemed to be a definitive moment for (what I will refer to as) counter-imperial readings of Paul.
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Posted by: Dan | May 30, 2015

My People is the Enemy: Afterword

Thirteen hung and burned while hanging.  One for each apostle and a bonus one for the good Lord Jesus.

Thirteen hung and burned while hanging. One for each apostle and a bonus one for the good Lord Jesus.

I continue to think a lot about Haiti these days. In many ways, I think it is a microcosm of the best and worst of the world that came to be with the rise of capitalism. The history of oppression, of profits over people, of rapacious violence brought to bear upon human beings seeking little more than freedom and their own bit of land to cultivate, is absolutely appalling. The history of resistance to that oppression, the refusal to give in to Death — despite the extent and severity of the violence — the constant uprisings of Life, Life that will not be killed, Life that will not remain dead, is astounding.

Every now and then I try to talk about this with some of my sensitive bourgeois white friends, many of whom are Christians (as is Aristide, as were the French slave traders). I say things like, “The only successful slave revolt in history!” and “I wonder how all of this might provide insight into our own context!” What is the universal response I receive from these kind-hearted people? “Yeah, but what happened? Once they got free, didn’t the leaders just turn on their own people? Didn’t they just end up replicating similar power imbalances – isn’t there now a small percentage of elite, wealthy Haitians oppressing a large number of poor Haitians?  It didn’t really work, did it?”

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Posted by: Dan | April 3, 2015

My People is the Enemy

By the rivers of Babylon,
There we sat down and wept,
When we remembered Zion.
Upon the willows in the midst of it
We hung our harps.
For there our captors demanded of us songs,
And our tormentors mirth, saying,
“Sing us one of the songs of Zion.”

How can we sing the Lord’s song
In a foreign land?
If I forget you, O Jerusalem,
May my right hand forget her skill,
May my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth,
If I do not remember you,
If I do not exalt you, Jerusalem,
Above my chief joy.

Remember, O Lord, against the sons of Edom
The day of Jerusalem,
Who said, “Raze it, raze it,
To its very foundation.”
O daughter of Babylon, you devastated one,
How blessed will be the one who repays you
With the recompense with which you have repaid us.
How blessed will be the one who seizes and dashes your little ones
Against the rock.

~ Psalm 137

Slaveholders have no rights more than any other thief or pirate. They have forfeited even the right to live, and if the slave should put every one of them to the sword tomorrow, who dare pronounce the penalty disproportionate to the crime?
~ Frederick Douglass

1. Concerning Goldfish

In 2004, Monza, Italy, made it illegal to keep goldfish in goldfish bowls. Giampietro Mosca, a Council Member there, stated that “A fish kept in a bowl has a distorted view of reality… and suffers because of this.” Rome followed a year later, noting both that the water in goldfish bowls is not properly oxygenated and that bowls can make fish go blind. Commenting on this decision a City Councillor, Monica Cirinna, stated: “The civilization of a city can be measured by this.”

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[What follows is a very personal and painful reflection about my own experience of being sexually assaulted.  Graphic details are included.  For a number of reasons, explored below, this was extremely difficult to write and to share.  If you know me, I expect it will also be extremely difficult to read.  You don’t have to read it.  If you do read it, please don’t feel obligated to comment on it — although you are also welcome to comment.  Please know that I’m okay (for the most part).  I’m a survivor.  Mostly, I have decided to go public with this for two reasons: (1) personally, I don’t like feeling afraid and I think secrecy facilitates fear and other misplaced feelings like shame, so, for me, this is a part of confronting my own fears; and (2) mainly, I hope that sharing the following will also help others who have experienced sexual violence and who don’t know how to feel or think about it and who have remained silent.  I hope that the following will be helpful to these people.  Perhaps it will help folks to negotiate their own confusion or their own sense of isolation.  Because of this, I hope that you will consider sharing or linking to this on your own social media as I think the more people this can reach, the more potential there is for it to help in the ways I hope it to help.]

This is the first part

It is difficult to know how or where to begin this reflection.  I have tried to write it several times already and ended up deleting each previous attempt at some point in the process.  I have taken breaks of days and months and years in between efforts. I did once manage to write a fair bit about all of this in another piece but I don’t feel that I can stand to go and read or rearrange what I wrote there.

They say that survivors sometimes tell and retell their stories as a part of the process of working through everything that happened… a part of “making peace with” or “moving on” or “healing” or “accepting” or whatever other terms people use so easily in order to speak about the unspeakable.


Sometimes I am triggered by events that go on around me or things I see or hear as life goes on – although I am never noticeably triggered, at least I don’t think I am, and I am far less frequently triggered than a good many other survivors I have known – and so to try (again) to sit and dwell in the memory of what was and what still is, to try (again) to put it into words, to try (again) to conceptualize it (to literally transform a trauma into a concept) is very difficult.  I tried recently, after I wrote my last post about representations of female sexual desire, because I realized I was walking around for days in a triggered state of increased anxiety while I was writing what I wrote. I got about four pages into my own personal reflection and then I stopped and deleted it and sat on my bed in the dark trying to suppress the feeling of nausea that was rising in my stomach and throat and the feelings of anxiety and panic that were building up in my chest and head.


Thinking about where to begin now, I almost wrote that this is a reflection about something that happened to me.  But I feel like that makes me too passive.  I was involved in what happened.  Things were done to me, but things were also done with me.

Is it still rape, if I let myself be raped?

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[The following contains triggers due to its explicit discussion of sexual violence as represented in various texts.]

[Belle de Jour] is possibly the best-known erotic film of modern times, perhaps the best.  That’s because it understands eroticism from the inside-out – understands how it exists not in sweat and skin but in imagination. ~ Roger Ebert

[I was] very exposed physically… I felt they showed more of me than they’d said they were going to… There were moments when I felt totally used.  I was very unhappy. ~ Catherine Deneuve, Séverine in Belle de Jour

This is wrong, but holy hell is it erotic. ~ Anastasia Steele in Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James

Introduction: Engaging Representations

In the following reflection, I want to try to carefully think about female sexual desire as it is represented in two remarkably similar texts: Luis Buñuel’s award-winning 1967 film, Belle de Jour (BDJ), and E. L. James’ best-selling novel, Fifty Shades of Grey (FSG).  I hope to be clear from the outset that what I am trying to think about are these representations of female sexual desire and not female sexual desire as it is experienced by any specific person. Consequently, the comments that follow are not at all intended to try and police female sexual desire as such – I do not think there is any basis whatsoever for me, a cis-gendered person who has gotten by just fine performing maleness, to say what it is or is not permissible for women (or others) to desire in sexual fantasies.  The topic I am considering here are these representations of female sexual desire, how they were communicated, and how they have been received.

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