(I promise this will end with an upbeat video clip. Until then, bear with me.)

Police arrested a man today who allegedly strangled the life out of Annie Le.

“Police said it was a case of workplace violence, but didn’t elaborate.”

Annie Le was a smart 24-year-old woman who stood 4’11″ and weighed 90 pounds and was, by all accounts, a good person, a good friend, a graduate student with a bright future ahead of her.

Raymond Clark III is a 24-year-old lab technician with a history of controlling behavior towards women that went back as far as high school and sent emails to Le criticizing her behavior.

I’m not going to apologize for saying the following: to call this murder an incident of workplace violence is a fucking disgrace.

This is not about issues in the workplace, and calling it that masks the real problem here.

We, as a society, have not dealt with our members who cannot control their outrage that young, pretty women with bright futures ahead of them threaten their supremely screwed-up notions of masculinity.

Annie Le didn’t get killed because she didn’t take care of mice properly. She got killed because an (allegedly) emotionally-stunted man couldn’t handle working for or with a woman smarter than he was, even though she seemed to be really nice about it.

But it shouldn’t have mattered if she was a complete raving harpy. She was a smart, pretty woman with a bright future who was murdered precisely because she was a smart, pretty woman with a bright future ahead of her.

That’s really fucked up.

It’s insulting to cast this as workplace violence. Doing so obscures an issue that we, as a civil society, have chosen not to deal with.

And now, for The Kanye Incident (latest version).

Kanye acts like a jackass, frequently. Even the President knows this.

But here’s what’s really going on within all this outrage about him taking a big ‘ol dump all over Taylor Swift’s moment in the bright shiny spotlight of MTV.

We see an angry, older, bigger man (and I’m not even going to bring race into this, although one easily could) take away a young, pretty, successful woman’s chance to enjoy the results of her hard work.

Taylor Swift — who yes, is young and was scared and probably lives in a world where this sort of thing doesn’t happen, which I’m sorry to say is not the real world — should think about the following next time some asshole like Kanye tries to stomp on her:

“I have sold 10 million records. I have sold 20 million singles. I am a successful artist and a brand and a role model. And I will open my mouth and say that, out loud, right now.”

And I’m not blaming the victim here, because she’s young and scared and works in an industry that sexualizes women for their agency or for their lack of agency.

But you know what? We allow this to continue. We allow young, bright, pretty women to be stomped all over, physically and metaphorically, simply because they are young, bright, pretty women.

I’m not saying “we” as in women. I’m saying “we” as in all thinking, productive members of a civil society. Male, female and in between.

We allow a few assholes to define a debate we’re not even having. And we allow a few assholes to look at 52 fucking percent of the population as people who should be controlled. Who should not use the brains God gave them simply because He also gave them a uterus.

We talk about Mad Men like it’s some kind of social commentary on How We Know Better Now instead of Gee, Doesn’t That Look Good. We call the really screwed-up, nastily stereotypical thugs on The Sopranos masterful characters that Really Say Something About The Human Condition.

Both shows racked up awards by the handfuls. So has Kanye.

Which means we’re all guilty. Collectively. Because we can’t have a productive debate about this when we personalize it, and that’s what ends up happening.

This is not about me and who I am, what I do or do not do. This is not about you, who you are, and what you do or do not do.

This is about the basic human right of HALF THIS SOCIETY to live their lives without fear. To lead productive, successful lives as they see fit without question.

And now I will leave you with something I think is a really wicked little piece of social satire:

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7 Responses to “In which there is speculation about the murder of Annie Le, a discussion of Kanye and quite a bit of profanity.”

  1. the3rd says:

    The entire incident with Annie Le has really been bothering me over the last few days. I just can’t fathom how anyone can even think of doing something like that. I am probably in the minority here… but it is cases like this where I think they need to reinstate the electric chair. Not only do I think this kid should be sentenced to death, I think he should suffer. Many will argue that life in prison is worse, but I don’t agree. Life is a privilege, and after taking away someone else’s life like that… he doesn’t deserve to keep his own. R.I.P. Annie Le.

    Moving on to your comments about Kanye West/Taylor Swift. I agree with some of the points you make, but I do not agree that Taylor Swift should have done this:

    “I have sold 10 million records. I have sold 20 million singles. I am a successful artist and a brand and a role model. And I will open my mouth and say that, out loud, right now.”

    Yes, these are true statements – but if she were to say something like that, it would ruin her reputation. Her big thing is: “I’m not a big deal. At all.” She is not arrogant in the slightest, and saying something like that will not sit nicely with many people. I think she handled the situation well… she didn’t let it affect her when Beyonce called her back to the stage… she acted very maturely. Basically, it just comes down to Kanye West being an a**h*le… That’s how he is and that’s how he’ll always be. I checked on Twitter, and many people had her back… fans and celebrities alike.

    Now I agree that it is horrible that, as you said: “We allow young, bright, pretty women to be stomped all over, physically and metaphorically, simply because they are young, bright, pretty women.” I just don’t think arrogance is the answer (I know you didn’t directly say that, but that’s how I read into the Taylor Swift thing). I think that, whenever there is a hint of any of this male-domination type of garbage… surrounding people need to step in and stop it.

  2. Rita says:

    Dear the 3rd,

    I think it’s a little premature to talk about the electric chair since Raymond Clark III has only been arrested and not yet tried and convicted.

    Now for Taylor Swift and Kanye West:

    Expecting people to step in and stop bad behavior only reinforces the idea that sweet people need help protecting themselves. A little show of self-empowerment on her part would show her fan base that they can stand up for themselves and it’s a good thing. It’s not a show of arrogance to say, “Hey, buddy, I’m successful too, so don’t you even think for a second that it’s cool to try and walk all over me.” The definition of arrogance is undue pride or self-importance.

    If Taylor Swift had responded the way Twunked had suggested it wouldn’t have met that definition. I’m going to assume you’re not a woman, the 3rd, and tell you that from the time that we can talk, little girls are taught that being anything but completely modest is viewed as something like conceit and arrogance. By saying she should have stood there and allowed him to steal her moment because anything else would have been arrogant, you’re reinforcing the attitude that women (and Taylor Swift meets the definition of woman at 19 years old)have very defined roles to fill.

  3. the3rd says:

    Rita,

    The evidence points directly at him… he did it, and he will be tried and convicted. I apologize if my death penalty suggestion was a little premature to you, but I am outraged by the event and don’t think he deserves to keep his life after taking Annie Le’s.

    As for the sweet, innocent people… sometimes they do need protection. For example, it is in Taylor Swift’s nature to be a sweet, nice, innocent girl. She never would have dreamed of saying something like was suggested. It is these types of people that I think others need to step in and protect when stuff like this happens… and people did just that. Innocent people shouldn’t change who they are unless they want to. This goes for men and women alike… not all men are strong, they don’t always stand up for themselves.

    And what would you have done if that was your moment Kanye West was stealing? Taylor Swift was in shock, upset, and embarrassed. She wanted to get off the stage as quickly as possible to clear her head. This was the MTV awards… she probably felt out of place as it was – she’s used to being around the other nice (non-Kanye-like) people in country music. I just don’t think anyone should fault the way Taylor Swift reacted. It is horrible that Kanye West stole her moment… it is people like him that need to change. He was going to do what he did regardless of Taylor Swift’s personality… he probably didn’t know anything about her or how she would have reacted as it was. If people surrounding Taylor Swift didn’t step in and do anything… Kanye would probably be at it again. However, all the anger and disapproval of Kanye’s actions will likely stop him from doing something like this in the future (or at least we can hope).

    Basically what I’m saying is people shouldn’t change who they are unless they want to. For those types of people (the sweet, innocent ones), I think the strong men and women around them need to be there for support.

  4. Jo says:

    I have mixed feeling about the Taylor Swift and Kanye West issue. I agree that what he did was completely uncalled for and rude. Lets face it, that is kind of his M.O. I don’t know much about Kanye West, but it seems like every time I hear about him he is complaining about how “he didn’t get his” or some such variation. However, it also really bothers me that Taylor Swift reaction after the fact was so passive. I understand that at the moment that Kanye took the microphone from her she must have had 100 thing flying through her head. I wanted her to be able to come out and say “this guy was a real jackass.” I wanted her to be able to stand up for herself and demand respect.

  5. admin says:

    *blows whistle* Ok everyone, time out for a second. There are some interesting reactions here, but few to my original argument.

    Let me make a few points:

    1. This is not about what Taylor Swift should or should not have done, and I thought I made that clear in the original post. If you all want to discuss that, I will do a more thorough critical analysis of the incident and you can talk about it in comments there.

    2. This is not the space to discuss the death penalty. Go to someone else’s blog, and don’t libel anyone here.

    Thanks, and time in.

  6. [...] comments from my last post inspired me to think about this incident in another context. Here’s how I see [...]

  7. Alex H. says:

    Dang, those cheerleaders are hot. Wish I had one of those.

    Satire is a tricky thing. The above reaction was the reaction of some substantial portion of the audience who see no satire in Glee. Think about what it is to watch the show with tongues going nowhere near cheeks.

    Nothing new there. The creator of Archie Bunker wrote him as a racist, misogynistic buffoon, and found that a lot of people identified with him and watched the show because of it.

    In fact, as a formula for a hit show, it would be great if you could create this kind of dynamic: satire for those who see it and not for those that don’t. Heard an interview with Matt Judge about Beavis & Butthead–and how he never understood why people read it as an indicator of social decline.

    (If you are interested in this line of reasoning, it is stolen wholesale–including the Archie Bunker example–from a classic article by Fiske called “Television: Polysemy & Popularity.”)

    (And I am trying not to be amused that the Captcha I’m being offered on this page is “motel affairs.”)