Dianna Dragonetti’s Response to Janey Smith/Steven Trull’s “Fuck List”: The “Art” of Rape Culture

Dianna Dragonetti is so fucking brave. He’s younger than me, but I am constantly amazed at his strong spirit and often look to him as an example for how to best handle difficult situations. I stand with Dianna, one hundred percent.
– Alexandra Naughton

In November of 2013, Janey Smith (“alt lit” alias of Steven Trull) published his now-infamous “Fuck List”—subheading, “A List of Writers I Want to Fuck (Or Get Fucked By)”—on this very site. Though the post has since been removed (as of today), it has left its destructive impression. The fact that it was published at all is important and disturbing, especially granted that it gave way to the recently rescinded “We’re Fucked,” a book authored by Peter BD and published by Plain Wrap Press. Smith/Trull viewed this, writing in the preface of “We’re Fucked,” as his “Fuck List come to life.”

What was the purpose of this list but to indulge Smith/Trull’s own sense of toxic masculine entitlement? Regardless of any assertion that this was some kind of “joke” or “celebration,” as Plain Wrap’s sole statement of apology reads, the post was explicitly sexual in nature i.e. “A List of Writers I Want to Fuck (Or Get Fucked By).” Smith/Trull did not seek the consent of those whose names were included prior to publication, or inform anyone of their specific involvement. Smith/Trull mentions in the first paragraph of his preface to “We’re Fucked” that the list “got [him] laid right away.” Perhaps most obvious of all is the motivation Smith/Trull himself states was behind his “List,” namely, “the fact that [he] was intimately involved with one of the most important writers of the second half of the twentieth century,” Kathy Acker—Janey Smith/Steven Trull wrote this list to brag about his conquest. Further misogyny is evident in context: the post contained a number of images of women in pornographic poses, edited to obfuscate what was unpublishable (mostly male genitalia).

Janey Smith/Steven Trull considers the list a “celebration of writers and the people I love”—a “celebration,” as if his sexual interest in these 200+ people (myself included) is valuable, as if they should be honored to be someone he “Want[s] to Fuck.” The implication here is gratitude, reminiscent of a touchstone of rape culture, the idea that one harassed (namely women) should receive the projection as complimentary. He states he “didn’t want” his one-sided, sexually-charged announcement and story of alleged conquest “to be ignored,” suggesting that it is deserving of attention. This masturbatory superiority is furthered by the fact that the manuscript of “We’re Fucked” places these likenesses in imagined sexual encounters—entirely the fantasy of Peter BD and Janey Smith/Steven Trull—often attaching elements of their works and careers to graphic, belittling contexts.

The juxtaposition of the likenesses of prominent minority writers (Acker included)—many listed are female or trans/NB (such as myself)—with this presumptuous premise and out-of-context porn clips is demeaning and explicitly misogynistic. It is also crucial to note that a number of people on this list are outspoken victims of sexual abuse and violence (again, myself included). Due to the power structures of kyriarchy, female and trans bodies are coercively objectified and sexualized; it is difficult enough for these oppressed to find voice, let alone be taken seriously in a professional sense. That the book and list were made publicly available, potentially viewed by peers and colleagues, furthers the damage, reducing complex, talented artists to two-dimensional peep shows.

And yet, this can be accepted as “celebration,” justified as “art.” And yet, this can escalate to inspire a manuscript (Peter BD) that exemplifies its absurd extremity, hailed as “a good thing” (Chris Dankland) and “what I love about alt lit” (Jackson Nieuwland). This is but a testament to how easily abusive rhetoric—and palpable abuse, e.g. in the sexual harassment of “We’re Fucked”—is enabled, how Smith/Trull’s desire is allowed to trump even consent and dignity, how empowered a white cis heterosexual man is to violate.

steven-trull-janey-smith-terrible-person

As Janey Smith/Steven Trull writes in the preface to “We’re Fucked,” “If you are familiar with the names on the Fuck List, or even if you’re not, get ready because I am about to have my way with all of them.” This is not art, but a clear and deliberate example of rape culture, and it must not be tolerated.