“Make up a story…” Toni Morrison on writing

“Make up a story… For our sake and yours forget your name in the street; tell us what the world has been to you in the dark places and in the light. Don’t tell us what to believe, what to fear. Show us belief’s wide skirt and the stitch that unravels fear’s caul.”

―Toni Morrison, The Nobel Lecture In Literature, 1993

stories shouldn’t reinforce rape culture

sometimes storytellers ( writers, directors, actors, producers) make story decisions without really interrogating what they want to say or how it will be received (telling a single story and only scraping the surface). they are being reckless when they contrived a story situation like this:

girl falls for boy, boy is engaged but is in love with girl. boy and girl have an affair. boy’s fiancée, she luves in another city, arrives, girl gets angry because boy didn’t warn her. girl flirts with sleazy dude at party to make boy angry. boy is angry. girl leaves with sleazy dude to make boy jealous. then sleaze dude rapes (or tries to rape) girl. the end.

instead of exploring a story about the complexities of relationships and creating stories that challenge the audience to question their own flawed ideas about relationships. they lead the audiences into reinforcing problematic notions about why men rape, why people cheat, why girls deserve to get raped.

this is rape culture.

it says, girls that don’t say no loud enough; girls that change their minds or don’t fight off the rapist; girls that wear revealing clothing or are just too into themselves, too confident… it says that these girls deserve to be raped. it says they weren’t raped if they trusted ‘sleaze dude’ and went up to his room. it says it’s their fault.

this is rape culture.




post-script: this is sparked by a current story on generations. the story may not lead down he obvious way alluded to above but experience has shown the story is likely to and my gut is doing somersaults already.