witches were burning

April 2, 2020

The witch-burnings didn’t take place during the Dark Ages as we commonly suppose. They occurred between the fifteenth and eighteenth centuries – precisely during and following the Renaissance, that glorious period when, as we are taught, ‘men’s’ minds were being freed from bleakness and superstition. While Michelangelo was sculpting and Shakespeare writing, witches were burning. The whole secular ‘Enlightenment,’ in fact, the male professions of doctor, lawyer, judge, artist, all rose from the ashes of destroyed women’s culture. Renaissance men were celebrating naked female beauty in their art, while women’s bodies were being tortured and burned by the hundreds of thousands all around them.

Monica Sjöö & Barbara Mor
The Great Cosmic Mother

[“This trinket of sensation you feel now will be a delight compared to the onslaught of agony that awaits at our hands -“

Gary Tunnicliffe; Hellraiser : Revelations]

Damsels in distress have been a part of cinematic grammar since the medium’s invention, from Pearl White narrowly escaping certain death in the “Perils of Pauline” serials to the tried-and-true crowd-pleaser known as “woman in jep” (showbiz parlance for “woman in jeopardy”). But the genre took a radically darker turn in 1992, when the psycho-thriller “The Silence of the Lambs” won five Oscars, including best picture.

Suddenly a film in which the women-in-jep were being flayed alive — and the story’s wily, charismatic anti-hero was a cannibal, no less — left the confines of hoary melodrama or B-grade pulp and became respectable, glossed with the patina of awards-worthy seriousness. Soon, films from “Seven” and “Kiss the Girls” to “Sin City”…were upping the dubious ante on how gruesomely women could be raped, tortured, disfigured or otherwise degraded — with extra points if the victims were under 18.

Not only have the perils of Pauline become exponentially more perverted, pornographic and pervasive, they’ve become the lazy screenwriter’s go-to springboard to get the action underway…

Ann Hornaday
In movies, violence against women lets filmmakers indulge toxic fantasies
The Washington Post, 19th September 2014

Bent naked over a table, his wrists and ankles immobilized by leather straps, the man watches her slow approach. Encased in shiny black PVC she says, ‘You’ll never guess what I’m going to do to you…’

He makes a gargling sound behind that terrible ball gag.

She leans forward and whispers to him. His eyes widen in horror as the meaning of her words sinks in. His supplications are unintelligible; his safe word is this choked off imprecation of dribbled saliva.

‘You won’t enjoy it,’ she says, straightening. ‘But you will understand that I’m truly a dark-hearted bitch.’

Her laughter has the deceptive quality of crystal wind charms in a mild summer breeze.

He half-screams behind the gag when she begins. She is without mercy, unrelenting. His desire fades, becomes regret before the flashing darkness leaves him unconscious.

Outside the street is bright with afternoon sunlight.

creeping up on us

June 17, 2018

Leo Putz - Behind the Scenes

Something has happened. But how? Was it overnight, or has it been creeping up on us and we’ve only just noticed? It’s the girls, the young and pretty girls. They used to sing like sirens, like mermaids, all sweet and liquid, breezy melodies, wavy melodies, but now they’re shorn of melody, though their mouths open and close as before. Have their tongues been cut out? This is true as well of the cries of babies, the wailing at funerals, the screams that used to arise, especially at night, from the mad, from the tortured. It’s the same thing with the birds: flying as before, spreading out their feathers as before, heads thrown back, beaks gaping, but they’re mute. Mute, or muted? Who has been at work, with a great carpet of invisible snow that blots out sound? Listen: the leaves no longer rustle, the wind no longer sighs, our hearts no longer beat. They’ve fallen silent. Fallen, as if into the earth. Or is it we who have fallen? Perhaps it’s not the world that is soundless but we who are deaf. What membrane seals us off, from the music we used to dance to? Why can’t we hear?

Margaret Atwood
Something Has Happened – from The Tent