The Least Sexy Sex Between Superheroes

I have so many thoughts on the whole DC comics mess, because I believe it’s been the most awesome conversation of at least the latter half of the month. But I am still a little stuck on Catwoman. Not just on her gravity defying boob or her bizarre choice in undergarments (I mean, seriously, they are smart enough to give her practical shoes but not to give her a sports bra?), but this picture in particular, which is supposed to be her and Batman… you know… doing it.

Now, it’s not just that the longer I stare at this the more I’m convinced that her vagina is even with his taint (and yes, people, I am pondering Batman’s taint. That’s what the world has come to. Ponderations of Batman’s taint. You know whose taint you never think about? The Joker’s. And I for one appreciate that.), it’s that her pants are on. People, look at Batman’s body language (and I’m sorry, please try to stop thinking about his taint). His hands are down by his side. His knees are bent. She is on his lap, touching him, but seated so his boner is between them not actually in contact with her.

This–right here–isn’t sex. She has her pants on. It’s a lap dance.

Now, I know that we adults all the imagine that, after the lap-dance portion of the evening, they actually had sex. Perhaps Batman was even allowed to touch her.

But what the artist is portraying is something that, I think, is supposed to read sexy, but instead reads pretty sad. Everyone is, presumably, riled up but no one is enjoying themselves. It’s so very weirdly chaste.  There’s no sex in the Champagne Room and, for as graphic as it seems at first glance, there’s no sex on the rooftop.

Do the people at DC get that this isn’t a “mature” depiction of sex but a really adolescent one? No one takes their pants off. The man doesn’t touch the woman. He doesn’t address her pleasure. He barely addresses his own?

I don’t know. It’s weird. I hope there’s not a lot of young guys out there thinking “Oh, man, I want to be with a woman like Batman was with Cat woman!” when Batman doesn’t touch her and she’s not driven to even move her pants out of the way.

You deserve more, young straight men of America, than a woman who rubs her clothed crotch against you and calls it good.

Young straight women of America, I would tell you that you deserve more than a guy who whips out his hard-on and then puts his hands by his side and fundamentally leaves you alone with his penis, but I think we both know that you didn’t make it that far in this comic book.


This story could not be more bullshitty, at every level, from calling a transgender woman a “cross-dresser” to misrepresenting her gender and so on. But I’ve been thinking about this story since I read it this morning. Often, when transgender women who are working as prostitutes are killed, there’s a kind of “gay panic” defense–“I didn’t know ‘he’ was really a dude and when I find out I freaked out and shot ‘him.'” And it works, because the “gay panic” defense still works.

But I’ve been thinking instead about the “accidental rapist,” the guy who didn’t realize the woman he was raping felt he was raping her. As you’ll recall, they’ve now done a bunch of studies that show that the accidental rapists does indeed know that what he’s doing is rape, because he has a string of victims he uses the same m.o. on and will continue to use that same m.o. to get the type of sex he desires, which is sex in which the person he is with’s opinions about whether she wants to have sex don’t count, unless he’s stopped. The whole “I didn’t know” ploy is about making non-rapist men sympathetic and defensive of the rapist by making it seem like there are circumstances in which the non-rapist man could be mistakenly having non-consensual sex. It plays on men’s empathy.

I’m starting to think this “I had to shoot the cross-dressing prostitute” argument is actually more similar to the accidental rapist. It’s easy for men who don’t frequent prostitutes to imagine a scenario in which they might be “tricked” into picking up the “wrong” kind of woman. But let’s think about how likely this actually is. Transgender women working as prostitutes know that they are at an increased risk of violence from johns (to put it mildly), especially transgender women who’ve not fully physically transitioned. Are they regularly getting into cars or going to houses of johns or hotel rooms without everyone knowing what the situation is? Just from a safety perspective, it seems unlikely. Plus, men who buy sex, you know, buy sex. There’s a reason they’re said to “frequent” prostitutes. I’m sure there are occasionally miscommunications, but not as frequently as transgender prostitutes get assaulted or killed.

I think the truth of the matter is that a small population of men like to have sex with transgender prostitutes in part because they know they can do whatever they want to those women and most people will sympathize. Beat her up? Not pay? Do things to which she hasn’t consented? Shoot her? Kill her? They have the easy “She tricked me” defense. And, in the case of the dead women, who’s around to dispute?

So, while I think it’s important to keep saying that, even if these men were “tricked,” it doesn’t justify violence. I think it’s also time to take a step back and ask ourselves if any trickery has actually happened or if this is in fact the kind of sex these men like–sex with someone who society sees as having so little value that you can do whatever you want to and with her and get away with it–and societal reinforcement of the lack of value of these women, in fact, a part of the thrill.

I think the whole “I was tricked” thing is not about the truth, but about making non-assaulting/non-killers sympathetic to the criminal instead of his victim.

I Wish It Were Bill Monroe’s 100th Birthday all the Time

So, by weird happenstance, I won tickets to the Bill Monroe birthday tribute last night at Vanderbilt. I guess it’s not weird. But it felt weird to me, because I don’t often win things. And by “often” I mean “ever.”

I couldn’t find anyone to go with me on such short notice, but I’m getting old in my old age, so I just went myself. And with my lone ticket? People, I sat in the center of the second row. I could see and study how Del McCoury’s guitar was aging, how the varnish on the bottom has rubbed away from years of sitting on his knee.

I was close enough to determine if bluegrass hair gives bluegrass players secret powers, but not discerning enough to tell.

The whole evening was great. I had heard Dale Ann Bradley before, but I have to tell you, seeing her live was a revelation. They ought to just go ahead and give her IBMA performer of the year every dang year she performs. If there is an IBMA performer of the year. Maybe they should make one just to give to her.

But she also reminds me of one of the reasons that I think bluegrass–even as it fights about what it wants to be–is still so damn subversive. I can’t think of another form of popular music (and please, correct me if I’m wrong) where a woman who looks like someone you would be unsurprised to find in your back yard drinking beers and singing songs with your dad who is just bursting with talent can have success. It’s a reminder that there are a shit-ton of talented folks out there–in all genres–that you’re being cheated out of by our ridiculous ideas about what a “star” has to look like.

Everyone was great. Don’t get me wrong. So, now that I’m going to gush about the Del McCoury band, I don’t want you to think it’s because the other guys weren’t awesome. Everyone was awesome. It was a whole evening full of people at the tops of their games having a shit-ton of fun. Of course it was awesome.

But I thought that I couldn’t like The Del McCoury Band any more than I do. I mean, I already think very highly of them. But last night blew me away. I’ll admit, there are things I want to see in a live band that tell me a band is good that don’t have anything to do with how they play. I want to see people who look like they’re having a good time together. I like to see people who are generous with guest performers. And I like to see that people are really thinking about their craft.

Now, I don’t know them from Adam. Maybe in real life, they’re all jerks who beat their wives and kids and hate each other. But on stage, they seem to be having a blast. Watching them with their guest performers was amazing. They subtly moved a mic for the one guy who needed it. And when Del was doing harmonies with someone, depending on how strong a singer they were, he’d position himself either closer or further from the mic. And people moved around on stage a lot to change the sound by who was standing next to whom (though in all fairness, everyone did this).

It was just one of those moments were I felt like I was watching a masterpiece of a band. If everyone else could be said to have brought their A-game, it was as if the Del McCoury Band was not even playing that game, but subtly inventing a new one.

But I should also mention that the Nashville Bluegrass Band was amazing and they had this dude from Blair playing with them so they had twin fiddles, which was awesome. But at one point, they had three fiddles on stage! I wanted them to keep adding. Just have a million fiddles. It would have been so awesome.

Anyway, I am a lucky girl, sometimes.