I can't lie, I fucking love Spike Lee.
Do the Right Thing might have been the most significant movie of my young adulthood.
All these years later, I can still quote the dialog, and I have written about it's influence on me here before.
I own the book with the script for God's sake (and I have three copies of the DVD - don't ask me how/why).
I don't just love DTRT
I love She's Gotta Have It and Mars, I love School Daze + Furious Styles.
I loved Malcolm X, Get on the Bus, Mo' Betta Blues, even Crooklyn.
I will take it farther, I loved Bamboozled, not many people can say that. I showed Bamboozled as part of a class I taught.
I am still very angry that Spike did not get to do the biopic about Jackie Roosevelt Robinson. That awful absurd nonsensical insult of a movie that everyone was so happy about would have been a billion times better with Spike.
So, now that you know the depths of my feelings for Spike, I am pretty gobsmacked over him right now.
So, Chi-Raq is Spike's new movie.
The premise, as I understand it, is that women throw a sex strike to stop black-on-black violence in Chicago (which has suffered more death by firearm than America has lost in Iraq, hence the name).
Some might say I am doing the typical commentator thing here because:
I have not yet seen Chi-Raq.
I am totally excited to see it, but that is not why I am mad at Spike.
Spike has been doing interview shows where he suggested shit like that women should sex strike to stop violence on college campuses.
It is 20% icky to suggest, as a male director, that fictional women COULD - on their own - decide to sex strike to stop violence in their own neighborhoods.
Even ickier is the same man suggesting real women should do it....and not to stop violence in general, to stop sexual violence.
A few quick reasons why, sexual violence is the opposite of consent, women not "consenting" to sex until sexual violence stops doesn't really have much effect on rapists.
Also, maybe the answer is in men, not women? More on that in a second.
This is where Chance the Rapper came in.
Chance the Rapper is one of the talented young hip-hop artists who are really breaking through in the last few years.
As you might know, Chance is from Chicago, and he pretty much thinks this is insanity, Chance sent out a series of tweets, my fave was:
"Also the idea that women abstaining from sex would stop murders is offensive and a slap in the face to any mother that lost a child here - 2:18 PM - 4 Dec 2015"
So, in honoring Chance's point, I am going to make my top reasons why Spike needs to cut this out.
Top 4 Reasons Spike Needs to Stop Talking About Sex Strikes
Reason 1: Men
Let me mention quickly before I get into this, I am privileged in many ways and everything I am about to type applies equally to me.
Here is the problem with privilege, once you have something, you don't want to give it back, and you will do almost anything to make it seem "normal."
If change is coming, most privileged people assume that they are "not part of the problem" because "they are moral and do nothing wrong" so change will happen to other folks, not to them.
And almost never do they want to be part of the solution, because they do not feel they are part of the problem/s.
Most people only think of privilege only in terms of racism, and it certainly exists there, but it is tied to inequalities in any area.
Everywhere structures of inequality operate, privilege operates.
Men enjoy all kinds of privilege over women, they are more likely to be hired, they are paid more, they are raised to see and treat women as weaker and gentler, the traditional family structure favors them, in many ways biology favors them in the areas of violence and manual labors.
And the end result has been sexual violence, lots and lots and lots of sexual violence.
I have rarely met any women who say they have not at least been threatened with sexual violence, almost every girl I had a long relationship with had experienced sexual violence, almost every friend I have ever had who was a woman told a story of sexual violence.
And it is not just anecdotal, look at any study or any statistic.
Millions are affected every year. Tens of millions - maybe 100's - have been victims during my lifetime.
But when men talk about it, it is usually about "those bad apples over there."
To hear men talk about it can feel almost like 100 guys somehow committed all that violence.
It is a much bigger problem, and we tend to forget our parts in it.
Forget is probably not accurate, I suspect we compartmentalize the bad things we do and pretend that they are aberrations.
So, anyway, most violence and certainly most violence against women is committed by men.
So why in the fuck would women be responsible for fixing that?
When you hear a man, concerned about violence, suggest women should fix it, that is privilege talking.
Only privilege would explain the blindness that thinks a women should fix the collective violence problems created by men.
Reason 2: Objectification
The idea that women should deny themselves sex, if sex is what they want, to change men seems odd and problematic.
But that is not the big problem here.
So what is the big problem? The whole concept of Spike's movie and sex strikes puts sex at the head (no pun intended) of what men care about women for.
In other words, because what is powerful about women is sex (objectification), women should deny men sex so they will change their evil ways.
Notice Spike didn't say women should deny men conversation.
What I am saying is this is just another example of a man making an object of a woman's MAGIC SEXUALITY to heal men.
Here is what someone (someone named Spike Lee) once said to a student group about attributing magical powers to oppressed bodies:
"During a master's tea with an audience of more than 200 students in the Calhoun College dining hall, Lee cited four recent films in which there is a "magical, mystical Negro" character: "The Family Man," "What Dreams May Come," "The Legend of Bagger Vance" and "The Green Mile." In the latter film, Lee noted, a black inmate cures a prison guard of disease simply by touching him; in "The Legend of Bagger Vance," a black man "with all these powers," teaches a young white male (played by actor Matt Damon), how to golf like a champion.
The film director, who frequently inspired the laughter of his audience as he peppered his talk with expletives, was unreserved in his criticism of this new characterization of blacks, posing to his audience the question: "How is it that black people have these powers but they use them for the benefit of white people?"
Noting that "The Legend of Bagger Vance" takes place in Depression-era Georgia, a time when lynching of blacks in the South was commonplace, Lee stated, incredulously, "Blacks are getting lynched left and right, and [Bagger Vance is] more concerned about improving Matt Damon's golf swing!"
This is what they call in the trades "irony."
How is it that women have these powers, but use them for the benefit of men Spike?
Reason 3: Fuck You Spike
Okay that may be a bit strong. Let me rephrase:
Spike, you are trying to do good here, you want Chicago healed.
But, if you are putting your "clever" in front of your "empathy" on this one, well then - F U - at least on this one issue.
No really, I love you man, but fuck yourself on this one.
As Chance the Rapper mentioned, the idea that murderers will stop killing people because women do a sex strike is pretty much insulting and far-fetched.
Even the person you have quoted to support your "idea" Liberian activist Leymah Gbowee said sex strikes were ineffective and only used for publicity.
Reason 4: To Brooklyn with Love
This has been killing me for years, and since it is my one chance to say this.
How the F can you be a Yankees fan?
You are "THE" Brooklyn Dodgers guy.
Dodgers fans can't be Yankee fans? I grew up in a Brooklyn Dodgers family, that is like a Michigan fan becoming an Ohio State fan.
I have been saying for decades you should be the ONLY one to direct any movie about JRR.
Yes, they moved, maybe you can't be a Dodgers fan anymore.
But the only acceptable answer is the M E T S Spike.
My guess you didn't want to endure the losing?
Anyway, stop talking about sex strikes,
I will go see Chi-Raq, and maybe it is awesome, but I still think the sex strikes thing is totally wrong.
And on that, I am out...That's the triple truth Ruth!
What did you think about Chi-Raq? What do you think about sex-strikes? I would love to hear your opinion, leave a comment! No seriously, leave a comment!