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6A - Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

6A - Wednesday, October 1, 2014 The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom

0

Symposium to
discuss sex studies

Reflecting on
Banned Boo ee

'Thinking Sex' to
honor scholar's
contributions to
the field
By COSMO PAPPAS
Daily Arts Writer
It's a common refrain in
philosophy that any analysis
worth its weight begins by
defining
its terms. ThirtyYears
Without that
preliminary 0 f Fifki
investigation, Sex'
it's hard
- some Thursday,
might argue October 2,
impossible 1 pm.to4 p.m.
or at least Hatcher
not very Graduate Library
worthwhile
- to reach Free
any further
understanding.
Gayle Rubin, a professor
of Women's Studies and
Anthropology here at the
University of Michigan, has
produced work acclaimed in
all corners of the sexuality
studies field for its well-
informed historical and
theoretical interrogation of
the dategories of gender and
sexuality, among various
other and related subjects.
Thursday, a symposium
entitled "Thirty Years of
'Thinking Sex,"' taking its
name from Rubin's landmark
1984 essay of the same name,
will gather Rubin and five
other scholars to celebrate and
reflect on her impact on the
field.
It doesn'tgetusveryfarto say
that humans are sexual beings:
first we, need 'definitions of
sex and sexuality. Dating the
beginnings of sexuality studies
as a discipline is complicated in
all sorts of ways, as the work of
scholars from disparate fields
and traditions - feminism
and psychoanalytic theory,

just to name two historically
uneasy bedfellows, but
medical pathology, history
and anthropology as well -
converged to form what is now
institutionally recognized
in numerous university
departments.
For instance, the Gender
and Sexuality Studies
concentration at Brown
University states that it
"encourages students to
examine the complex ways
that 'differences' are produced
culturally, politically, and
epistemologically: sexual and
gender differences in concert
with differences that are
fundamental to the categories
of 'race' and ethnicity,
nationality, class, religion, and
so forth."
Generally, however, one can
point to the 1970s and 1980s as
a time when scholarly output
came to articulate some of the
central problems of human
sexuality on the discursive
level and as it materially
intersects with other political,
social and historical forces.
"There are certain things
you can get at thinking about
gender, but it's not the only
lens through which to see the
world. I don't think there's
a single set of categories
that works for everything,"
Rubin said, describing what
motivated her as a scholar to
broaden the scope of inquiry
beyond the then-available
tools and categories of
feminism, the medical field
or "high theory," to use her
phrase.
"There wasn't much in
the way of social science
or hunranities scholarship
on sex. It was an area that
seemed to me very importan t,
but you had to look around to
find tools to get at it," Rubin
discussed further.
In this sense, Rubin's
scholarship was genuinely
formative in the study of
sexuality as an academic
discipline and is continually

relevant within the academic
world of sexuality studies and
without.
To give an example of
Rubin's enduring relevance,
in a recent article in
the Chronicle of Higher
Education, Laurie Essig,
a professor of Sociology.
and Gender, Sexuality
and Feminist Studies at
Middlebury College, cites
"Thinking Sex" in her
discussion of legislation
concerning sexual assault,
consent and the concessions
that some feminists have
made to the racist and sexist
criminal justice system in
the effort to stamp out sexual
violence.
The historical account of
sexual studies put forward
here is skeletal at best and
does no justice to the richness
of the field in all its concern
with real-world problems of
oppression and itscommitment
to a world free of gender- and
sexuality-based violences.
This is not to say, however,
that its function is purely
critical; Rubin herself sees her
work as part of the effort to
ensure the heritage of vibrant
communities whose histories
would otherwise be lost. In a
review of "Deviations: A Gayle
Rubin Reader" in the. Times
of Higher Education, Rubin is
cited as saying, "Queer life is
full of examples of fabulous
explosions that left little or no
detectable trace... (Those) who
fail to secure the transmission
of their histories are doomed
to forget them."
To hear a more extensive
and more illuminating
discussion of this exciting
area of scholarship, then,
all are invited to attend this
Thursday's symposium in
honor of Professor Rubin's
foundational contributions to
the study of sexuality. (And
after the event there will be
an afterparty at \aut\ bar,
featuring Professor Rubin as
DJ).

By GRACE PROSNIEWSKI
Daily Literary Columnist
Another week, another
literary-based
campaign for my
fellow bibliophiles and I to rel-
ish in. Last week marked the
American Library Association's
annual Banned Books Week,
an event that brings together
librarians, teachers and read-
ers to celebrate the freedom
to read, and call attention to
censorship.
Banned Books Week started
in 1982 as a response to an
explosion of challenges to
books in schools and libraries.
And thus Banned Books Week
came to join the 1984 Detroit
Tigers, John Hughes movies
and the destruction of disco as
the only good things to come
out of the 80s.
And if you think that book
banning is a thing of the past,
think again. In 2013, most
states had reported challenges:
Texas, Oregon and North
Carolina led the way with over
ten challenges each. In fact,
Texas had 114 book challenges
in total. Oh Texas, do you ever
turn down?
So why do people continue
to try to ban books? Well if you
can tune out the shrill criesof
"Won't somebody think of the
children!" the answer is the
same as it's always been. People
use censorship as a way of
maintaining and asserting their
own moral and/or ideological
view by condemning any chal-
lenge or critique of their posi-
tion that could pose a threat.
Basically, when you control
books, you control informa-
tion. Bonus points if you read
that last line like Newman from
Seinfeld.
Sometimes the reasons
given for a challenge are comi-
cally bizarre, specifically on
the grounds of occultism.
Excuse me if I think it a bit
far-fetched that dark religious
orders are trying to lure chil-
dren into depravity with works
such as "A Wrinkle in Time,"
"The Giver" and, of course,
everybody's favorite subtly-
promoting-satanism poster boy,
"Harry Potter." Never mind
that "Harry Potter" inspired in
an entire generation a love of
reading, or that the essential

point of the entire series is that
good conquers evil, and love is
more powerful than hate. No,
any form of magic, regardless
of its contextual basis, equals
an affiliation with those pesky
satanists (#evangelicalthought-
process).
Then there are the challeng-
es that are so painfully ironic,
they too are almost laughable.
"Fahrenheit 451," an entire
novel dedicated to exposing the
problematic nature of censor-
ship of dissent and book burn-
ing, has been challenged for
obscenity and for a description
of a Bible being burned. It's
a metaphor, you potato with
eyes! Dystopian novels, such as
"1984" and "Brave New World,"
are, in general, great fodder for
banning, as their anti-author-
itarian themes blatantly ques-
tion the status quo.
Of course, there are the book
challenges that are also down
right baffling. "The Wizard
of Oz" has been challenged
throughout the last century for
numerous reasons, including
for depicting women in strong
leadership roles. Dorothy tries
to lean-in and she gets banned?
Even "Anne Frank: The Dairy
of a Young Girl" was challenged
for some sexually explicit
detail. So the heartbreaking
and yet inspiring true story of a
girl who hid from the Nazis for
two-years and still believed in
the innate goodness of people
is tossed out because of a few
lines about sexual anatomy?
Don't mind me, I'll just be
continually banging my head
against the wall.
Now the truly dangerous
book challenges are the ones
that seem almost understand-
able. "The Da Vinci Code,"
"Fifty Shades of Grey," "Twi-
light":Are they god-awful?
Yes, most emphatically, yes. Is
reading any one of them akin
to drowning in a cesspool of
poorly written prose and ter-
ribly problematic characters
and themes? Again, yes. But
do they deserve to be banned?
No, because, as Noam Chomsky
said, "If we don't believe in
freedom of expression for peo-
ple we despise, we don't believe
in it at all." You got lucky this
time, Meyer.
The three most common rea-
sons for a book tobe challenged

are if it is sexually explicit,
contains offensive language or
is unsuited for the age group.
From our Puritan forefathers
to our loony lawmakers, Ameri-
cans love to lose their minds
over sex, namely by banning
works that even remotely touch
on the subject. And of course,
teenagers would never, ever
think about sex without direct
prodding from John Green,
that bespectacled scoundrel.
In fact, a book doesn't even
need to mention sex to get chal-
lenged for obscenity, as was the
case for "The Scarlet Letter."
Now look, I'm a pretty tolerant
person, but when someone goes
after Nathaniel Hawthorne,
well even I have my limits.
One of the most frequently
banned books is, I kid you not,
"Captain Underpants." Please,
if you ever feel the urge to
crusade against a children's
chapter book for its mention
of undergarments, go to your
mirror and take a long, hard
look at yourself. Even criti-
cally acclaimed works like Toni
Morrison's "The Bluest Eye"
and Alice Walker's "The Color
Purple" have been challenged
and subsequently banned for
offensive language.
The just-vague-enough claim
of a book being unsuited to age
group operates as both a catch-
all and a cop-out. It's the thing
a challenger claims when they,
don't have another leg to stand
on. What makes them quali-
fied to speak for an entire age
group they're not a part of and
realistically only have antidotal
information of said group to
draw from? Oh right, nothing.
If you don't want your chil-
dren exposed to certain themes
and thus certain books, fine. I
don't agree, but it's your life/
progeny. I'm not going to force
feed your children contro-
versial books in some sort of
Clockwork Orange-esque sce-
nario. But libraries and schools
aren't here to comfort your
ignorance. To deny someone
else a book based on your per-
sonal sensitivities is the height
of sanctimonious presumption.
In short, stop being atool, and
read banned books.
Prosniewski is never moving
to Texas. To stop being a tool,
e-mail gpros@umich.edu.

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Call: #734-418-4115
Email: dailydisplay@gmail.com
IELEASE DATE- Wednesday, October 1, 2014
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'The Equalizer'lures
you in, then disappoints

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Antoine Fuqua's
action film fizzles
out in the end
By MAYANK MATHUR
DailyArts Writer
Robert McCall lives alone
in a dimly lit apartment that is
stocked with the bare necessi-
ties needed for
a very ordi-
nary, working
class life. He The
gets up in the
morning, eats Equalizer
his breakfast, Rave20and
goes to work, Quatity16
comes back
home and Columbia
calls it a day
after going out
for dinner. The daily routine is
as constant, and as mundane,
is it sounds. He never says it,
but you can tell that it wasn't
always like this for McCall -
there's something about the
way he walks, talks and reacts
to his surroundings - clearly,
he's not really the ordinary cit-
izen he so wants to be.
This much is evident. Direc-
tor Antoine Fuqua ("White
House Down") doesn't waste
time in setting the premise
for his latest film, "The Equal-
izer", starring Denzel Wash-
ington ("Flight"). It's clear
that McCall is going to bring

the house down by flipping his
shit at some point in the movie;
the question is - is the sudden
switch going to be impact-
ful enough, and can it sustain
itself throughout the length of
the movie?
McCall is forced to spring
back into action when a newly
formed acquaintance of his,
child prostitute Teri (Chloe
Grace Moretz, "Carrie") is
abducted and beaten up by her
employers. He can't stand by, he
has to do something, because
"Yougottabewhoyouarein this
world, right?" So about a good
third of the way into the movie,
he finally does what you've
been waiting for him to do -
beat the crap out of five Russian
pimps in 19 seconds. The scene
is great, and the switch from
an unassuming working class
citizen to a trained agent who
executes with metronomic effi-
ciency, although predictable, is
wonderfully executed. McCall
starts a war with the Russian
mafia, and there's no turning
back.
What this film needs more
than anything is a worthy vil-
lain to battle against McCall.
Washington cuts an imposing
figure even when he's dressed
in bland attire and is convinc-
ing as both the good-guy and
the ruthless special agent. For
a brief period of time, Fuqua
makes it seem as if he's given
you a villain that can really give

McCall a tough time. Teddy
(standard assassin name) (Mar-
ton Csokas, "Noah") is the
hit man assigned to take out
McCall and he really seems like
he could go toe-to-toe with our
hero. Even as he makes his first
appearance, you can picture
an incredible hand-to-hand
combat scene between the two
where you honestly cannot tell
which way it might go. Howev-
er, there's a lot of foreplay and
no real action. Fuqua chooses
a very, very long buildup to the
climax scene and just doesn't
deliver when it matters. There's
a good bit of tension between
hero and villain, but that ten-
sion is never really let out in an
explosive manner. It just kind of
fizzles out, and then the movie
ends.
"The Equalizer" isn't a bad
film but any means, but it just
isn't a very good one either. The
film doesn't build on its solid,
albeit slow start, and that's
where it breaks down. Fuqua
commits the fatal flow of not
setting up the film to anything
worthy of the set up itself. It's
as if you've been waiting for a
really long time for your late
night/early morning meal at
Pizza House. You've had a
great night, you're ready for
some food but when it comes
in, you realize they forgot the
cheese. You really, really need-
ed that, and it sucks that you
didn't get it.

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