And while it’s people’s choice whether they feel comfortable paying to see Louis CK, his unannounced appearances at the Comedy Cellar have been controversial. Surprise sets from big names are a standard part of the stand-up club scene, but if you’ve gone out for a chill night of comedy, there’s a big difference between wincing at a bad-taste bit, and having to pick between sitting through an entire set by a self-confessed abuser or getting yourself out of there.
But there’s a third option: Klaire Randall found herself in the front row at a surprise CK set at the Cellar, and after realising leaving was going to make a scene, sat uncomfortably through the first few minutes – before becoming a hero and a legend.
“I was giving him the finger as he walked up, but I don’t think he noticed. I just knew in my heart that I couldn’t sit there and be complacent throughout this set and also that I couldn’t laugh about it. Where we were seated made it very hard to leave. We felt stuck. … His jokes started out like “my life is hard now, I had a bad year, feel bad for me.” There was nothing like “hey I ruined my own life by masturbating in front of women.’
“Ten minutes or so in there was a little bit of a break, and he walked over toward the piano near where I was sitting to look at his notes. And in that moment I just yelled “get your dick out.’
“I wasn’t thinking at the time that it would become news, I wasn’t trying to make him mad or get laughs from the audience, I just knew that I could not sit in that room and let him think he had an uninterrupted stage.
“He looked shell-shocked. He looked directly at me, full eye contact and said ‘WHAT!?’ I repeat myself like, “get your fucking dick out.’
Randall says a Cellar staff member immediately came over and asked her and her boyfriend to leave – and they were more than happy to at that point.
Let’s be clear: heckling comedians is incredibly rude. It’s one of the worst breaches of comedy club etiquette you can commit.
In fact, heckling is rude enough to get you kicked out of the Comedy Cellar – but if you repeatedly masturbate in front of your professional colleagues, you’re welcome to stop by whenever you want.
Saxon Mullins Is My New Hero, And Her 4 Corners Episode Was So Powerful It Could Change Sexual Consent Laws
Thanks to the bravery of survivor Saxon Mullins, serious questions are being raised about what consent really means in the NSW legal system.
There’s a lot to be horrified by in last night’s incredible 4 Corners.
The ABC’s in-depth current affairs program took a close look at one of NSW’s most high-profile rape cases after a year-long investigation: the story of how in 2013, an 18-year-old girl from the Central Coast who’d never had sex ended her first ever night out in Sydney’s Kings Cross having allegedly non-consensual anal sex in an alley with a guy who’d promised to take her to the club’s VIP room.
“You know, there wasn’t any request – it was a demand … From someone I had never met before. In a dark alleyway. Alone. And I was scared,” she said on the program.
The guy, Luke Lazarus, who is the son of the nightclub’s then owner, was initially convicted of sexual assault and sentenced to five years in prison – but he served less than a year, and was released and his conviction changed to not guilty after a judge determined that the teenager didn’t consent, but how was he supposed to know that?
The thing is, you are supposed to know. You’re supposed to be 100% sure that the person you’re having sex with really, really wants to be having sex with you. This is pretty basic stuff. It’s called enthusiastic consent.
Because if the person is only so-so about the idea of sex with you, why would you want to have sex with them?
However, the law isn’t exactly clear on this, and that benefited Lazarus – a guy who, if we’re to believe his side of the story, innocently believed a drunk 18-year-old virgin was totally cool with having anal sex on her hands and knees in a gravel-strewn alleyway behind a nightclub at 4am with a guy she just met five minutes earlier.
That’s the best possible interpretation of his actions and mindset.
“Whether or not she consented is but one matter. Whether or not the accused knew that she was not consenting is another matter,” the judge in the second trial said.
(That judge was found to have erred in her judgment in a subsequent appeal, but Lazarus was not put through a third trial as it wouldn’t have been “fair” to him. Right.)
Last night’s program saw the girl, whose identity was of course protected during the years of legal proceedings, shed her protective anonymity in order to go on Four Corners, tell her story and advocate for enthusiastic consent.
Her name is Saxon Mullins, and she’s my new hero.
This morning saw a stunningly compassionate response to the report coming from the NSW attorney-general, who announced that he would be asking the Law Reform Commission to review the way the question of consent is approached and interpreted in sexual assault trials.
“[Mullins was] humiliated in an alleyway at the age of 18, she’s had to tell her traumatic story in court, she’s had to face two trials, two appeals, and still, no final outcome,” Mark Speakman said this morning. “What this shows is that there’s a real question about whether our law in New South Wales is clear enough, is certain enough, is fair enough.”
The NSW government welcomes input from the public – so if you have something to say about the review and reform, including any experiences of your own, you can make a submission to the review before June 29 here.
It’s not likely that the platonic ideal of enthusiastic consent – which boils down to “if it’s not a ‘F**k yes’, it’s a no”, and asks people to get verbal confirmation from any partner(s) that they’re definitely keen to have sex – will be enshrined in law.
However, reform might mean that the absence of affirmative consent means more in legal proceedings: that “they didn’t say no” isn’t as accessible a defence, that non-verbal fear or shock responses like freezing up or going limp are better taken into account, and that people in Lazarus’ position won’t be able to fall back on “How was I supposed to know she wasn’t into it?”
Because you are supposed to know whether the person you’re having sex with really wants to have sex – and what’s more, you’re supposed to care. So you check, and proceed accordingly. If you can’t manage that going forward, you don’t deserve to have sex with anyone at all.
If this story raises any issues for you, or you just need to talk to someone, you can call the national sexual assault, domestic and family violence helpline on 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732), Mensline on 1800 600 636, or Lifeline on 13 11 14. They’re all free and confidential, and available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The Handmaid's Tale Is As Grim As Game Of Thrones, But For Way Better Reasons
The Handmaid's Tale is hard to watch – but so are all your other favourite shows, and they're not nearly as useful or cathartic.
Depending on who your friends are, you might have seen a fair few posts crowding your feed in the last few days, along the lines of “Handmaid’s Tale… Oof.”
One of last year’s biggest TV successes just came roaring back – and by roaring, I mean pumping full-blast dystopian grimness straight into your face like a fire hose.
So why are we doing this to ourselves?
In the very first few minutes of the second season, we watch dozens of enslaved women face the prospect of their own imminent execution, pissing themselves and whimpering helplessly through leather muzzles. We watch families being shredded through a slow, deliberate thicket of bigoted bureaucratic cruelties, and a queer (white) man who’s been lynched, and the aftermath of massacres, and satisfaction and joy on the faces of people doing incredibly evil things.
What we see in The Handmaid’s Tale are not scenes of dystopian fantasy. They are the lived experience of plenty of women and families in the world right now and in living memory: people living under the rule of fundamentalists with guns, parents being torn away from their children in public places.
And everyone with a uterus, regardless what other privileges they have, knows they’re potentially at the mercy of a society where reproductive rights go to hell in such a spectacular way.
How good is reading the news every day in 2018?
Some people seem to be watching as much as a duty as for entertainment – like the men who want to better understand the ever-present hum of worry that your body will suddenly no longer be your own to control, and what that might look like overlaid on the fabric of their current realities.
Some are women who seem to just want to actively remind themselves not to get comfortable.
But also, there’s a perverse satisfaction in seeing the show draw a clear line between the relatively minor shifts to the status quo in the flashbacks and the nightmarish religious-fundamentalist dystopia where even white, educated, middle-class cis women aren’t safe from persecution.
Women are told so often that we’re making a big noise about nothing – we have not been believed when we report abuse or harassment, been shouted down with manipulated statistics when we point out pay gaps, and met with shrugs or mockery when we say something makes us uncomfortable. Women of colour, poor women, and queer and gender-diverse folks, of course, are listened to even less. (While it’s not great about casting or representing POCs, the show is careful to illustrate how the queer and POC characters it does have are instantly more on their guard in the flashbacks than the white, straight main character, June, is.)
And so there’s something satisfying about having a hit TV show that illustrates pointedly exactly how f**ked up the subjugation of women is; that shows, in beautifully rendered extremes, that oppression is just a question of degrees. How wide is the gap between being judged for not taking your husband’s name, and being given a man’s name instead of your own? Between being forced to get pregnant, and being forced to stay that way once you are?
It’s like the show is pointing to creeping restrictions on abortion, on Mike Pence saying he refuses to be alone with women, on the hoops women have to jump through to just be safe – and saying, “See? Do you see, now?”
Recommended viewing suggestion.
All that said: if the show wasn’t good, it’d just be traumatic feminist misery porn for middle-class white ladies. Women – most women, anyway – do not need to be convinced with thinly veiled allegories about religious politicians, or told endless stories about women and queer people suffering under patriarchy. There’s a metric tonne of that in the news, and our lives, every damn day.
But the viciousness is so beautifully, precisely calibrated that it resonates with everyone. The cinematography is gorgeous. Elisabeth Moss’ performance – often in scenes where she’s experiencing unbelievable levels of terror or emotional and physical pain and yet cannot scream – is one of the most detailed and compelling on any screen right now.
It’s a spy thriller, a domestic drama, and, as June wanders through the shell of an old newspaper office, as compelling a look at the end of a civilisation as The Walking Dead. It’s often devastating, but you can’t look away – and if you’re going to sit through death and misery, this is a lot more useful than Game Of Thrones, and probably still less miserable.