Hello everybody!

I’ve been overwhelmed by the response I’ve been getting from everybody on here and the incredible amount of views! I’ve now been published, so unfortunately I’ll be spending more time on my more professional work.

Now I’m ready to bring that same response to other people. I would love to have some submissions on my blog.

Your work will be have the opportunity to be seen by over 100 hundred people a day (even better some days)

It doesn’t have to necessarily have to be short stories, it can be articles, poetry, whatever! Please email me, with an attachment of your work at alexsanders@hotmail.co.uk

I look forward to hearing from you!

“We Saw Your Boobs” Celebrates Rape On Film

Seth MacFarlane has made millions off being an immature man-child. In fact, it was the success of his particular brand of gross-out offensive humor (served with a smile, of course) that got him the Oscar gig in the first place.

So it came as little surprise, then, when base misogyny and racism dominated MacFarlane’s performance on Sunday. And while the musical opener “We Saw Your Boobs” has been called immature (true) and sexist (also true) — it wasn’t just a harmless roundup of spicy movie scenes. Four of the films MacFarlane crooned about featured nudity during or immediately following violent depictions of rape and sexual assault, stripped of their context and played for laughs. Scarlett Johansson found herself on the list because of a real-life violation: Her nude photos were stolen from her phone and leaked online.

Oh, your privacy was invaded and your breasts were splashed across the Internet against your will? That is hilarious!

So let’s talk about those “boob” scenes and see how “funny” they play in context.

“The Accused”

Strange that one of the earliest films to look at a pervasive culture of violence against women — from barroom rape to verbal harassment, victim blaming to police harassment — should be used by MacFarlane to get a snicker from the audience. The film is also loosely based on the real-life gang rape of Cheryl Araujo, who was brutally assaulted by four men in a Massachusetts bar while other patrons passively watched it happen. Apparently they didn’t think violence against women was that big of a deal, either.

It’s during flashbacks to this bar rape scene that we see Jodie Foster’s breasts — as they are ripped from inside her shirt and violently exposed to her assailants.

Here is what film critic Roger Ebert had to say about the film in his 1988 review:

“Verbal sexual harassment, whether crudely in a saloon back room or subtly in an everyday situation, is a form of violence — one that leaves no visible marks but can make its victims feel unable to move freely and casually in society. It is a form of imprisonment.”

Here is MacFarlane’s take in 2013: “We saw your boobs.”

“Boys Don’t Cry”

Yet another film based on a tragic true story that made its way into MacFarlane’s tune. This time, the target of the sexual assault was transman Brandon Teena, who was later fatally shot and stabbed by his assailants, Tom Nissen and John Lotter.

Do you know when we saw Hilary Swank’s “boobs” in “Boys Don’t Cry”? During a medical examination after Swank’s Teena had been brutally raped on the trunk of a car. It’s not sexy. A doctor examine’s Teena’s breasts — which are swollen and dark with bruising — while the character flinches in pain.

Swank’s portrayal of Teena brought the experiences — and the shocking violence committed against — transmen and women to mainstream audiences for the first time. But who cares about context? Certainly not MacFarlane, and certainly not his producers at the Oscars.

“Monster’s Ball”

Another critically acclaimed and deeply controversial film that audiences had a giggle at on Sunday. Halle Berry won an Oscar for her performance in “Monster’s Ball,” depicting a young black widow in a relationship with Billy Bob Thornton, an abusive, racist prison guard who also participated in the execution of her husband. The movie explores — uncomfortably and clumsily — race, poverty, codependence and human loneliness.

And yes, we also see Berry’s breasts in the film. Tim Wise of Racialicious wrote about the subtext of Berry and Thornton’s relationship — and their explicit sex scenes — back in 2010:

“Not only was it an aggressive scene in which the line between consent and resistance wasn’t clear at all, but it was, in the eyes of many people, a scene that triggered any number of real emotional memories of a whole history of white male aggression towards black women, and the sexualization of black women.”

“Monster”

“Monster” has long been a punch line for “getting ugly to win an Oscar” jokes, but MacFarlane broke with type to use the film — based on the true story of Aileen Wuornos, a former prostitute who was executed in Florida in 2002 for murdering six men — to talk about Charlize Theron’s breasts.

Other than a sex scene with Wuornos’s fictionalized partner (played by Christina Ricci), the only time we see Theron’s breasts is in a quick shot in the bathroom, following a brutal rape at the hands of a john, in which she examines her badly beaten body. The “boobs” that MacFarlane sang an ode to are made up to appear badly swollen and red from the multiple times she was kicked in the stomach by her abuser. The nudity isn’t there for cheap thrills, it’s a snapshot of a terribly beaten body that should evoke horror — not giggles — from the viewer.

Scarlett Johansson

Johansson isn’t even on MacFarlane’s list for a film she made. Instead, she made her way into the song because of a real-life invasion of privacy, where her nude photos were stolen from her phone and leaked to the Internet. That is an actual, not fictional violation, and MacFarlane played it for laughs.

In an interview with Vogue magazine, Johansson made clear that there was nothing funny about it:

“It was others. I don’t want to be a victim and say, ‘Oh, well’ and just hide my head in shame. Somebody stole something from me… It’s sick. I don’t want people like that to slide.”

It is sick, and people shouldn’t let it slide. Much less resurrect it two years later before an audience of millions.

It’s not humorless to call MacFarlane and his producers out for what was a crass celebration of violence against women — both real and fictitious. It’s low, it’s violent and there is nothing funny about it. Even coming from the creator of “Family Guy” and “Ted.”

Black Feminism – Tyler Perry Style

Leave it to Tyler Perry, a man best known for playing Madea, a modern-day Mammy, to try to redefine black feminism for the mainstream.

Perry admits that he didn’t know much about Ntozake Shange’s choreopoemFor Colored Girls Who Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf, but that didn’t stop him from taking on this black feminist bible nevertheless.

First produced on Broadway in 1976, For Colored Girls was written by Shange during the height of both the black power and feminist movements. Shange’s play, much like the 1970s debuts of Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye and Alice Walker’s The Third Life of Grange Copeland, was a coming-of-age story that uniquely featured the point of view and political experiences of black women.

Breaking long-standing cultural silence on topics such as domestic violence, sexual abuse and abortion in the experimental form of a choreopoem that combined words with movement, Shange created what the New Yorker’s Hilton Als once described as a “firebomb of a poem. Through the ‘colored girls,’ the disenfranchised heard a voice they could recognize, one that combined the trickster spirit of Richard Pryor with a kind of mournful blues.”

But the play’s boldness was not simply in its diagnoses of black women’s blues but in its unwavering belief that black feminism was a viable remedy for those blues. Soyica Diggs Colbert, a scholar of African-American theater at Dartmouth College, says that the play’s ultimate message was always one of black freedom.

“Through dancing, singing and coming together,” Dr. Colbert notes, “or what the play describes as ‘a layin on of hands,’ the women developed rites that begin to repair the damage caused by domestic and sexual violence. No easy resolution, but a triumphant one nonetheless.”

In the hands of Perry, one of Hollywood’s most conservative black evangelical voices, Shange’s feminist message of gender equality, reproductive justice and sexual liberation has been seriously compromised.

Perry’s brand of female empowerment has always been more about his ability to tell black women’s stories (even, as in the case of Madea, when the women aren’t real) than, as Courtney Young writes for the Nation, “revolutionizing the marginalized way that black womanhood has been portrayed in popular culture.” By trafficking in old stereotypes of the asexual, black Mammy, as in Madea — or newer stereotypes like the castrating yet professionally ambitious black woman, like the character Jo (played by Janet Jackson) that he adds to For Colored Girls — Perry’s vision primarily reproduces rather than reduces negative representations of black women on-screen.

By contrast, Shange literally sought to diversify the representations of black women — thus the seven colored girls as narrator — as well as provide her audience with a certain brand of black feminism: cosmopolitan, sexual, collaborative and freeing. But Perry’s For Colored Girls rewrites many of Shange’s most powerful scenes, replacing sexual autonomy with moral approbation, substituting female resistance with victim blaming.

This dichotomy is especially acute in the film’s adaptation of the Lady in Yellow monologue. In the play, she delivers a lush monologue about her past experience of cruising, dancing and losing her virginity on graduation night. In the film, these same words are now recited by a teenage girl, Nyla (Tessa Thompson), whose bold act of sexual possession is eventually mocked by her mother, Alice (a new character introduced by Perry and played by Whoopi Goldberg).

But even more violently, under Perry’s disapproving directorial eye, Nyla is punished for her sexual curiosity. Her beautiful story of sexual awakening becomes merged with the original Lady in Blue’s tale of a pre-Roe v. Wade back-alley abortion. The end result is a moralizing sermon against black women’s promiscuity and sexual agency, and more subtly against choice itself.

All the pain, without black feminist pleasure.

One has to wonder what For Colored Girls would have looked like if directed by the African-American filmmaker Nzingha Stewart, who wrote the original screenplay, to which Perry later bought the rights. As her sleek black-and-white video forBilal’s “Soul Sista” and her thoughtful short film South Central indicate, Stewart had not only the chops to take on Shange’s gravitas but also her graceful rhythms and visual sensuality. But the fact remains that, for the most part, black women filmmakers do not have the requisite “money” or “trust” to tell their own stories (or those of other black women writers) in Hollywood.

Ultimately, Perry’s For Colored Girls could reach a larger audience than Shange could ever have imagined the stage and page versions reaching. Much like Lee Daniels’ award-winning film Precious, Perry’s version stands to usurp the original, not just in popularity but also in political message. Because of this, we need to celebrate Perry’s ability to pull out the brilliant and magical performances provided by actresses like Loretta DevineAnika Noni Rose and Phylicia Rashad and revel in his rare commitment to an all-black women’s ensemble.At the same time, we must remain hyper aware that Perry’s For Colored Girls does little to dispel the sexual stereotypes and victim blaming of black women in contemporary American politics and popular culture — especially of those women who have endured sexual assault, domestic violence, infertility and sexual transmitted infections. (Here, I should mention that Perry’s new homophobic plot twist — involving a closeted, bisexual, HIV-positive black man and his ostensibly emasculating wife — also works against the open and inclusive spirit of Shange’s brand of black feminism.)

But in the end, the durability of Shange’s play has as much to do with the genius of her prose as it does with the stubbornness of racism and sexism to shape the material conditions of black women’s lives. To his credit, Perry used 85 percent of Shange’s original poetry in his final script. So even cloaked in his melodramatic conservatism, the potency of her words can’t be fully lost.

As hip-hop feminist Joan Morgan, author of When Chickenheads Come Home to Roost, says, “Shange’s play will never become dated. Similar to any other great work, the themes of love, friendship, heartbreak, sexism and the negotiation of desire are timeless for black women. Shange, like Shakespeare, doesn’t go out of style for a reason.”

i want you
with all the cracks
and the stories
you’ve collected
and i want to
hear them all
and kiss you
just as i did
before i heard
them when you
were pure in
my eyes
but what is purity anyways?
some bullshit concept
made up to keep the guilt alive
you are not your past
you are the woman
who climbed those walls
and jumped over them
to where we met
we met at the other side

The Taste Of Salt

Aina watched the other humans crowd around the martyr’s table. They pressed close to Evan as if they wanted to touch him, kept watching him even when they spoke to each other. Of course no one did actually touch him; the sacrifice had to be pure. The demon was going to eat him, after all, and its servants, their masters, would never give it sullied meat.
The masters stood quietly lining the walls, dark robes and tall spears. Even now, after seventeen months of captivity, they looked to her almost like a cliché from bad television, but without the comforting distance of black and white, which might have hidden the bloodstains on their clothes. Aina could see their eyes move, quick and deadly, saw one tense as little Martha who really knew better leaned slightly too close to the martyr when she passed him rice. Aina was more cautious, would keep her distance when she served the bowl of steaming broth that was her offering.
Outside, the sun was setting, spilling through the window in dim red streams that left Evan looking burned and pale in its glow, and though they could not see it, the full moon was rising. He was going to be eaten, and he knew it. That he held the fear in at all rather than weeping, ate his final feast with mostly steady hands, made her think well of him, though he was mostly a stranger, and in the days before the demon, they had been far from friends. Aina hadn’t made many friends at all since she’d moved to the Isles, which felt pathetic when she was a three-year resident and barely knew her neighbors, but had ended up a blessing when crackling radio reports of homicidal cultists became radio silence and robed sorcerers conjuring death throughout their small town. After the demon came, the survivors were all friends, and none of them friends, allies in simple humanity, with plenty of trust but little room for affection.
She and Evan had had only one real conversation, a few weeks ago, after the old and the young were in bed. The adults were too, mostly, tired from chores and fear. She’d been sitting at the edge of the roof, contemplating the miracle of the human mind, that she could live utterly without hope or happiness and still feel no urge to jump.
“You either?” he’d asked, and that had startled her enough that she’d almost slipped. He’d caught her arm, quick and impersonal, the only time they’d ever touched, and released her just as quickly, murmured an apology as he settled beside her.
“I dream about it,” he said after a moment, staring down into the shadows, and she thought of her own dreams, of shattering into pieces and blowing away, letting violence and wind set her free. “It doesn’t look like much fun, though, does it?”
Her cousin had jumped after the first sacrifice, when his brother had been killed, and Aina had been set to cleaning up the remains. She hadn’t known Dano well, the age difference too great, but she hadn’t much enjoyed mopping up the mess of him, either, had managed not to throw up only because their masters were watching and she wouldn’t give them the satisfaction.
“Besides, they’d probably make Henry wash us off the pavement,” she said, and was pleased that her voice sounded absent rather than revolted. “You know he’s a vegetarian.”
Evan had snorted, and she’d smiled back, and for an instant it was almost like their old life, and she could imagine becoming friends with him, over the years, imagined babysitting for him and insulting his taste in sweaters and introducing her wife to him someday, if she got married. And then she remembered, with that faint cold shock that always came, and saw the sympathy and sickness in his face as he remembered too.
They had fallen silent, and he had left soon after; since then, they had only exchanged the words they traded with anyone, the latest news, quick discussions if they shared chores. She had not been the first to hear that he was the new martyr, had not been the one to tell him.
Now, standing and watching the others crowd around, she thought of that one hand gripping her arm, almost the only human contact she’d had since they were taken, of how brief it had been. She’d imagined, before, that when she married she would make her wife the bitingly sharp soup her parents used to make for her, seaweed and so much salt it tasted like diving into the ocean on a hot day. She’d made some now, because she would never make any for her true love, and she might as well try to do some good.
The broth perfectly made, she’d laced it very carefully with the cleaning fluids and poisons she’d been storing up slowly since she arrived. She had never quite admitted to herself that she was doing it, had never let herself think she might kill even someone condemned to death, never allowed herself to hope, but now she had enough to kill a man slowly, she thought, and she stirred it smoothly in with the salt and herbs she had taken from the kitchen as they prepared the martyr’s last feast.
It might kill the demon, eating someone already dying, that was the dream; at the least it would starve this day, this month, for want of a pure sacrifice. If it died, their masters would lose much of their magic, and though her people would still be slaves, they would be slaves with a faint but real chance at revolution. It felt like unnecessary cruelty making Evan taste bleach and rotting almonds, but this was the briniest soup ever tasted, and the salt would mask the poison.
She smiled as she set the bowl in front of him. That more than anything was her sign to him, and she saw the realization in his eyes, and something a little like hatred but maybe more like gratitude. He ate every spoonful with meticulous care, and thanked her for the food, and then went on to take food from every hand, protecting her, and when he stumbled as he rose she did not catch him.

You were on your way home when you died.

It was a car accident. Nothing particularly remarkable, but fatal nonetheless. You left behind a wife and two children. It was a painless death. The EMTs tried their best to save you, but to no avail. Your body was so utterly shattered you were better off, trust me.

And that’s when you met me.

“What… what happened?” You asked. “Where am I?”

“You died,” I said, matter-of-factly. No point in mincing words.

“There was a… a truck and it was skidding…”

“Yup,” I said.

“I… I died?”

“Yup. But don’t feel bad about it. Everyone dies,” I said.

You looked around. There was nothingness. Just you and me. “What is this place?” You asked. “Is this the afterlife?”

“More or less,” I said.

“Are you god?” You asked.

“Yup,” I replied. “I’m God.”

“My kids… my wife,” you said.

“What about them?”

“Will they be all right?”

“That’s what I like to see,” I said. “You just died and your main concern is for your family. That’s good stuff right there.”

You looked at me with fascination. To you, I didn’t look like God. I just looked like some man. Or possibly a woman. Some vague authority figure, maybe. More of a grammar school teacher than the almighty.

“Don’t worry,” I said. “They’ll be fine. Your kids will remember you as perfect in every way. They didn’t have time to grow contempt for you. Your wife will cry on the outside, but will be secretly relieved. To be fair, your marriage was falling apart. If it’s any consolation, she’ll feel very guilty for feeling relieved.”

“Oh,” you said. “So what happens now? Do I go to heaven or hell or something?”

“Neither,” I said. “You’ll be reincarnated.”

“Ah,” you said. “So the Hindus were right,”

“All religions are right in their own way,” I said. “Walk with me.”

You followed along as we strode through the void. “Where are we going?”

“Nowhere in particular,” I said. “It’s just nice to walk while we talk.”

“So what’s the point, then?” You asked. “When I get reborn, I’ll just be a blank slate, right? A baby. So all my experiences and everything I did in this life won’t matter.”

“Not so!” I said. “You have within you all the knowledge and experiences of all your past lives. You just don’t remember them right now.”

I stopped walking and took you by the shoulders. “Your soul is more magnificent, beautiful, and gigantic than you can possibly imagine. A human mind can only contain a tiny fraction of what you are. It’s like sticking your finger in a glass of water to see if it’s hot or cold. You put a tiny part of yourself into the vessel, and when you bring it back out, you’ve gained all the experiences it had.

“You’ve been in a human for the last 48 years, so you haven’t stretched out yet and felt the rest of your immense consciousness. If we hung out here for long enough, you’d start remembering everything. But there’s no point to doing that between each life.”

“How many times have I been reincarnated, then?”

“Oh lots. Lots and lots. An in to lots of different lives.” I said. “This time around, you’ll be a Chinese peasant girl in 540 AD.”

“Wait, what?” You stammered. “You’re sending me back in time?”

“Well, I guess technically. Time, as you know it, only exists in your universe. Things are different where I come from.”

“Where you come from?” You said.

“Oh sure,” I explained “I come from somewhere. Somewhere else. And there are others like me. I know you’ll want to know what it’s like there, but honestly you wouldn’t understand.”

“Oh,” you said, a little let down. “But wait. If I get reincarnated to other places in time, I could have interacted with myself at some point.”

“Sure. Happens all the time. And with both lives only aware of their own lifespan you don’t even know it’s happening.”

“So what’s the point of it all?”

“Seriously?” I asked. “Seriously? You’re asking me for the meaning of life? Isn’t that a little stereotypical?”

“Well it’s a reasonable question,” you persisted.

I looked you in the eye. “The meaning of life, the reason I made this whole universe, is for you to mature.”

“You mean mankind? You want us to mature?”

“No, just you. I made this whole universe for you. With each new life you grow and mature and become a larger and greater intellect.”

“Just me? What about everyone else?”

“There is no one else,” I said. “In this universe, there’s just you and me.”

You stared blankly at me. “But all the people on earth…”

“All you. Different incarnations of you.”

“Wait. I’m everyone!?”

“Now you’re getting it,” I said, with a congratulatory slap on the back.

“I’m every human being who ever lived?”

“Or who will ever live, yes.”

“I’m Abraham Lincoln?”

“And you’re John Wilkes Booth, too,” I added.

“I’m Hitler?” You said, appalled.

“And you’re the millions he killed.”

“I’m Jesus?”

“And you’re everyone who followed him.”

You fell silent.

“Every time you victimized someone,” I said, “you were victimizing yourself. Every act of kindness you’ve done, you’ve done to yourself. Every happy and sad moment ever experienced by any human was, or will be, experienced by you.”

You thought for a long time.

“Why?” You asked me. “Why do all this?”

“Because someday, you will become like me. Because that’s what you are. You’re one of my kind. You’re my child.”

“Whoa,” you said, incredulous. “You mean I’m a god?”

“No. Not yet. You’re a fetus. You’re still growing. Once you’ve lived every human life throughout all time, you will have grown enough to be born.”

“So the whole universe,” you said, “it’s just…”

“An egg.” I answered. “Now it’s time for you to move on to your next life.”

And I sent you on your way.