Right now is the perfect time to shine a spotlight on the forgotten crimes perpetrated in Hollywood, and Patricia Douglas deserves to be avenged.[TW: This essay contains discussion of sexual violence] Ten years ago, Girl 27 went to Sundance. The film should have made a bigger splash than it did, but I suppose it makes perfect sense that it didn't garner as much recognition as it deserved, given its subject. Girl 27 is a documentary that tracks the forgotten story of Patricia Douglas, a film extra and dancer who was raped at an MGM studio stag party thrown by Louis B. Mayer in May of 1937. She was lured there under the false pretenses of a casting call. With 120 young women and girls in total, she was listed as number 27 on the "call sheet." David Stenn uses his quaint film to deliver an account of the entire story in gruesome detail, an extension of his exposé written for Vanity Fair in 2003. There were four separate police departments represented at the party that night — the LAPD, the State Police, Culver City Police, and MGM’s own private police and watchmen. None of them filed a report about the rape. When Patricia bravely took her story public with a lawsuit, the other young women and girls who worked as extras in the industry were given a questionnaire about her with questions like, “Have you ever seen Patricia Douglas intoxicated, before or after the party?” They were asked to “state in detail what you know about Patricia Douglas’ past reputation for morality.” The Pinkertons surveilled her and the doctor who first examined her was asked to create false records to show that she'd previously contracted a venereal disease. All of this was done in an effort to paint her as a drunken, loose woman. Patricia's lawsuit (seemingly the first known federal rape case) was dismissed by the court after collecting dust for three years for “lack of prosecution.” Her lawyer had failed to appear in federal court on any occasion. He went on to become elected as District Attorney of LA County, and David Stenn suspects that it was thanks to the support of MGM. Patricia's own mother—appointed her Guardian ad Litem—was paid off by MGM and let the case die. [caption id="attachment_48575" align="alignnone" width="220"] David Ross in L.A. for a grand-jury inquiry, June 16, 1937.
From the Herald Examiner Collection/Los Angeles Public Library/Corbis[/caption] Metro Goldwyn Mayer was home to the brightest Hollywood stars at the time. Louis B. Mayer was the highest paid man in the nation and the biggest name in the film industry. Patricia never stood a chance against the most powerful Hollywood executives at the most powerful movie studio on the planet. What happened to her was almost completely wiped from the record. Her rapist, David Ross, was never served, arrested, or charged. But Patricia did inspire a young singer, Eloise Spann, to come forward about her rape by an MGM executive. Her case was mishandled in the same way and she never received any justice. She stopped singing, became depressed, and died by suicide many years later. Peggy Montgomery worked as a film extra during the same time as Patricia and Eloise. In Girl 27, she speaks of how she was sexually harassed on the casting couch and of the culture of misogyny rampant throughout the industry. Men using their powerful positions to coerce, pressure, manipulate, and force young women and girls into uncomfortable sexual situations was common, expected, and even encouraged. “At sixteen, I went to work for MGM, and I considered it was a windfall. There was an air, a constant air of being pursued. All the men tended to try to break women down. These were very aggressive men. Twice, I was asked to go to be interviewed, and the guy got up and said, ‘Well, let's see your legs,’ and you'd pull up your skirt and he’d say, ‘Turn around, Honey. Pull it up higher.’ And then he'd say, ‘Let's see how you feel, ‘ and then he'd walk around the desk and grab you. You couldn't go to the Citizen's News and say, ‘You know, Mister So-and-so did this to me at MGM.’ No way! Because the studios owned Hollywood. I mean, this is no exaggeration. It was one of a laws I learned very early on. Even the adults were afraid. Everybody seemed to be afraid of something. Except the men that were pursuing girls, you know. That was the one thing that nobody seemed to have any compunction about.” [caption id="attachment_48576" align="alignnone" width="220"] Patricia Douglas identifies her attacker, David Ross, from a stack of photographs.
From the Herald Examiner Collection/Los Angeles Public Library/Corbis[/caption] Patricia's devastating account was only brought to light when David Stenn was researching his Jean Harlow biography, Bombshell: The Life and Death of Jean Harlow (1993). The same week that Harlow died in 1937, the story of Patricia Douglas hit the papers, but after that, it disappeared. Girl 27 and David's investment in her experience allowed Patricia to truly be heard and believed for the first time, more than sixty-five years after she was raped. She describes how she was lured to the party, how she was literally forced to drink a mixture of champagne and scotch by two men there, how she was attacked and violated by David Ross in a field behind the barn where the party was held, how she had been a virgin before that night. For the rest of her life, Patricia struggled with physical and emotional intimacy. She experienced insomnia, depression, agoraphobia, and isolation.
She’s supposed to be Wonder Woman but she’s not. Her name is Gal Gadot, she is problematic, and she should answer for these allegations.[TW- discussion of sexual assault and victim-blaming] Gal Gadot is on everyone’s radar right now, not just for her portrayal of Wonder Woman but for seeming to be a real life wonder woman due to her hardline stance against continuing to work with Brett Ratner, who has had sexual harassment allegations brought against him. All that is awesome but it seems extremely hypocritical that no one is taking her to task for her own victim blaming past. On Nov 14, an anonymous woman going by the name “Ima Survivor” published a Medium post that detailed how Gadot bullied and shamed her for being raped by a friend of theirs while modeling in Milan thirteen years ago. The post has been removed from Medium but a cached version can be read here. For those who have not read it yet, the first-person account is extremely graphic and details her rape and subsequent mental and emotional abuse by Gadot. The post made very few waves in the media cycle. Where it was shared, its authenticity was called into question immediately. How do we know this “woman” is telling the truth? Wasn’t she in the military? How do you know this even real? And the answer is, we don’t know if this is real. We don’t know if this account is any more true than the countless people who have recently stepped forward to speak up about the abuse and sexual misconduct they have suffered at the hands of Hollywood elites, some of whom are our faves.
Dubbing the sudden absence of predatory men as the categorical dimming of some bright, new era rings of a false equivalency for many marginalized viewers.If you have remained plugged into our daily Hollywood news cycle, it might seem as if each day brings a newly exposed sexual predator. While that may sound like hyperbole, the sentiment is actually not that inaccurate: since news of Harvey Weinstein's history of assault broke via major press in early October, dozens of celebrity abusers have been publicly identified by their victims. As an audience, our responses to the steady stream of stories have run the gamut – especially for those of us who have our own experiences with sexual abuse. Though some remain focused on the specific trauma (and to be clear, the well-being of the victims ought to be our collective priority), others have their sights set on the potential aftermath. What does all of this mean for Hollywood and the state of entertainment, in general? As we witness the rightful takedown of critically acclaimed men like Kevin Spacey and Louis C.K., many have wondered how this continued exposure of Hollywood's predatory culture will affect the entertainment landscape, especially within television. Recently, TV critic Ben Travers of IndieWire noted Hollywood's current purge as a mark of permanent change to, in his words, “the new golden age of television.” To his credit, Travers is careful not to cite the onslaught of shamed men as the end of premium entertainment, but rather a potential opportunity for a more inclusive industry. That specific hope echoes those of many BIPOC creators who have been working diligently against the very climate that has systemically boxed them out of opportunities.
It is 2017 and there is no excuse for any comics company to not be hiring Black women for any comic.Mainstream comics companies have a terrible track record when it comes to hiring Black women and other marginalized comic creators. Both Marvel and DC Comics recently announced comics for Storm and Black Lightning, but the only creators involved are Black men. When it comes to who should work on Black characters, comics companies need to hire more Black women. https://twitter.com/heyjenbartel/status/917846708553469954?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fnerdist.com%2Fstorm-x-men-marvel-comic-ta-nehisi-coates-jen-bartel%2F Up until now, Black women writers such as Roxanne Gay, Yona Harvey, and Nnedi Okorafor have worked on mainstream comics. Their prominent backgrounds as award-winning literary writers are similar to the writing backgrounds of Black Panther writers Ta-Nehisi Coates and Reginald Hudlin. While these Black male and female writers are talented, Marvel's decision to hire distinguished writers in the arts belies an unfair standard. In an interview for i09, iconic comic book writer Christopher Priest explained that the comic book industry has been polarizing for decades. According to him, comic book companies have white guys choosing people like them to work on comics so they could keep getting the same successful results. As a result, we mainly have the same old white guys popping up on newer titles and expect marginalized creators to have the same accolades they do. Of course, many Black comic creators do not have the same resources and opportunities as a white male. In fact, some of the most talented Black people working in comics are independent and self-published. Many have created webcomics that are available to read for free, using crowdfunding sites like Patreon to support their work. Crowdfunding is also used by small presses that publish Black comic creators, such as Peep Game Comix and Forward Comix. As a result of the synergy between Black comic creators, Black pop culture media, and Black comic creators, victories have been won. Nilah Magruder, a Black female comics writer and artist, won the Dwayne McDuffie comics award for her webcomic M.F.K. She also became the first Black woman to write for Marvel by writing A Year of Marvels: September Infinite Comic.
We deserve to be styled by those who take the time to understand our hair textures, and the cultural significance our hair has. From the moment I went Natural I knew that my hair wasn’t the right kind of “natural.”