Trigger warning: references to rape storyline.
Update: My apologies to Abigail Nussbaum for incorrectly attributing her article to Emily Nussbaum. The latter is quoted in the piece, hence my confusion, but she didn't write it.
OK, so. The post not everyone is going to be happy about.
To recap - and therefore re-spoil - last week's Newsroom episode included a storyline in which a college student responded to being sexually assaulted by setting up a website where other rape survivors could name their attackers since, you know, it's not like any other form of punishment is likely to be forthcoming.
This plot bothered an awful lot of people, because the only main character who passed comment on the idea was a) male and b) not a fan of the idea. And as I argued in my last post on this, the lack of a female male character here is indeed a genuine problem. My issue here is entirely with point b).
From the comments I've read (
This strikes me as a somewhat circular argument. Which is not to say I don't think Sorkin isn't a sexist (or, since sexism is simply impossible for a man to escape, let's say I think he's noticeably sexist and totally unwilling to examine that fact), or even that I think his characters don't have a tendency to be preachy. It's just that this approach doesn't strike me as the most useful one in this particular case.
For my money (and as I said last time, this is the money of straight white middle-class man, which is to say easily spent and hard to see as evidence of talent) the most useful framing for this storyline is that the idea of a name-and-shame website aimed at rapists is absolutely an idea we should discuss, and part of that discussion involves raising objections that can then be countered. The central premise of website like this is that it's worth bypassing due process in order to combat the toxic culture that says if a guy insists it wasn't rape we can just forget about it and head to the bar. And it seems to me that if you want to float this idea you don't do it by pretending it's immune to abuse, you do it by accepting it could be abused and they say so what? You say a man is afraid of being called a rapist, and a woman is afraid of being raped, and that this is a trolley problem with an actual body-count and where changing the tracks somehow seems to just make men's employment prospects a little harder.
Someone needs to ask the question so it can be answered. So it can be driven into the ground. Mary, I thought, drove it into the ground. Maybe I'm wrong in that. But even if I am, I'm right that we should discuss this stuff. Simply put: I'd rather run with the message than beat up the messenger. No matter how much of an embarrassment he keeps making of himself.