When the reality of the Covid-19 pandemic hit the U.S., I like millions of others, began to redesign the way I spend time. Battling daily doses of chilling news reports, I became more and more frightened as the days progressed. Over time, I found that it was getting harder and harder for me to sleep at night, so I did something I rarely do — I looked on my phone to see if I could find a movie to watch before bed as an escape from the sheer enormity of it all.
After scouring the options, I landed on Clue. I hadn’t seen it when it was in the theaters and most importantly, Clue was my absolute favorite board game as a young child. I loved the deductive process involved in trying to figure out who did it, where, and with what instrument.
Shortly into the movie, there is a scene where two unacquainted guests arrive at a mansion they’ve both been summoned to. After ringing the doorbell, the male in the couple puts his hands on the woman’s ass and grabs it. She gives him a distressed look but remains silent. The door is answered and the two enter the hallway as if nothing has happened. Several minutes later, there’s another scene in a dining room where a newly arrived guest is seated at the head of the table. A buxom maid with a very revealing cleavage enters and stands next to this new guest. Again, he grabs her ass and she startles, but says nothing. At that point I turn off the movie. My attempt at relaxation has been thwarted. I am angry and upset and sleep is elusive.
Several days later, a friend on a group call mentions the series Money Heist. Still desperate for something to lose myself in, I begin to watch it. Having lived in Spain for a year, I love that it’s filmed in Madrid and love hearing the Castilian Spanish. I quickly get hooked. Hooked, that is, until one of the main characters rapes a hostage in a scene that creates the illusion that the hostage is consenting, when in reality she is only seeking to save her life (a fact made explicit several episodes later). I am disgusted and traumatized by the scene and can no longer succumb to the lure of a fast-paced drama about an eccentric group of rebels robbing The Royal Mint of Spain.
I am sheltering in place, a fact that might suggest that I am free from the daily encounters with sexism that I experience in the workplace, on the streets, or while attempting to socialize at a bar, restaurant, or club. The truth is, I have to remain on guard at home too with each and every decision to let something enter into the private realm of my living room or bedroom. It’s exhausting, it’s demoralizing, and it’s hard to manage on top of the base line level of stress everyone is dealing with, some much more than others.
All this comes on the tail of Joe Biden being accused of sexual assault. I can’t completely take this in, but it has me feeling for the first time in my entire adult life that I may not vote. I hear my husband’s admonition, along with the voices of the commentators screaming, “you have to vote in 2020!” Yet I am sick of having to overlook blatant sexism and sexual assault – in a movie, in a television series, and in real life.
If am part of the resistance then my job is to say, “no, it’s not okay for you to harm us and then act like it didn’t happen.” My job is to resist the allure of escapism and stay awake in the game, even if it means I don’t get any sleep at all.
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