Keep Your Douche to Yourself: An Analysis of Rape in Sausage Party

doucheBy Nan L. Elpers

In Sausage Party, when Douche realizes he’s been wounded and is leaking, he rapes and murders Juice Box, using his juice as fuel. Later in the movie, he tries to rape Brenda the hot-dog bun in an attempt to take revenge on her sausage boyfriend Frank, who accidentally pushed Douche out of the shopping cart, causing him to twist his handle. Analyzed through the perspective of feminist studies of men, the Douche’s assaults and motivation for rape reveal the dangers of hegemonic masculinity and the use of rape as a means to punish and assert authority. When Douche rapes Juice Box, he feminizes his victim in a way that reduces Juice Box to a state of female vulnerability. In “‘Guys are just homophobic’: Rethinking Adolescent Homophobia and Heterosexuality,” C.J. Pascoe explains that “the constraint and touching of female bodies gets translated as masculinity, embedding sexualized meanings in which heterosexual flirting is coded as female helplessness and male bodily dominance” (114). Though Juice Box is male, the scene likens him to a female rape victim in the way that Douche appears to be delivering cunnilingus while sucking out his insides. The graphic, sexually violent imagery emasculates Juice Box, allowing the rape scene to mirror a man-on-woman assault. Douche asserts his masculinity through this power structure, as dominance directly correlates to masculinity. And because Juice Box effectively stands in for a female victim, that masculinity is not compromised by any homosexual connotations of weakness or vulnerability.

It is important that Douche feminize Juice Box so that he prove himself more masculine.  In “Hegemonic Masculinity: Rethinking the Concept,” Raewyn Connell explains that “hegemonic masculinity was distinguished from other masculinities, especially subordinated masculinities” (256). Hegemonic masculinity describes those men at the top of the social food chain. This hierarchy necessitates the subordination of not only women, but other men as well.  The way that Douche emasculated Juice Box through rape made him, crudely, more like a woman.  In doing so, Douche both took power from Juice Box and amped his social status on the masculine ladder by forcibly putting yet another person beneath him. In the scene, Douche literally grows in size and strength as he sucks the life force from Juice Box, illustrating his rise to power.

Douche employs the age-old military technique of sexually violating a woman to punish her tribe.  In “’National Security’ and the Violation of Women,” Sylvanna Falcón asserts that “rapes occur because sexual assault is in the arsenal of military strategies; it is a weapon of war, used to dominate women and psychologically debilitate people viewed as the ‘enemy’” (228).  Although raping Brenda will do no physical harm to her boyfriend Frank, Douche understands that in debasing her he will cause Frank psychological harm.  In fact, Douche appears not to care about Brenda at all, against whom he holds no grudge other than for her tie to Frank, taking advantage of her status as Frank’s belonging.  Because we charge women with guarding their purity and in doing so maintaining a people or a couple’s morality, Douche’s rape of Brenda directly attacks Frank’s image and morale.


NOTE: This essay was written by a First-Year Experience (FYE) student in FG110 Introduction to Feminist & Gender Studies taught by Professor Heidi R. Lewis. FG110 teaches students how to examine power, inequality, and privilege along the lines of gender, sexuality, race, socioeconomic status, age, physicality, and other social, cultural, and political markers using multi-, inter-, and transdisciplinary approaches. Near the end of the block, the students visited a local theater to screen Sausage Party, and this essay was written in response.

Advertisements
Image

Dissens: Work on Masculinity, Feminism and Working with Perpetrators

By Beril Mese

Today we went a bit far outside of Berlin into the Eastern suburb of Marzahn to meet and talk with members of Dissens, an organization that works with boys to strengthen their gender identity and reflexivity through feminism. Bernard Könnecke told us about the “gender reflective” work they do and their purposes, while Katarzyna “Kasia” Wojnicka presented a summary of several larger projects they have worked in collaboration with other European countries.

Bernard told us he has worked with boys through the organization since the 1990s. He also thoroughly discussed the questions surrounding the connections between masculinity and feminism. The main ideas were represented to us in a triangle with three concepts: the privileges of being male in a patriarchal society, the disadvantages and costs men face—which is why they need feminism—and the diversity within males themselves regarding race, ethnicity, social hierarchy, sexuality, and other social markers. Dissens works with many theorists writing about masculinity and considers the differences between hegemonic masculinity and caring masculinity. “Caring masculinity” describes gendered behaviour that does not involve superiority, unlike hegemonic masculinity, which pushes men to prove themselves by asserting power over “others.” For Dissens, working with and empowering boys in conjunction with feminism is significant. They create male-only spaces in order to explore the complexities of identity and differences and to consider ways of incorporating true gender equality in their lives and personal perspectives.

Afterwards, Kasia told us about the Evaluation of European Perpetrator Programs project and Dissens’ cooperative research on the success of perpetrator-focused programs. She indicated that these programs are often mandatory for male perpetrators who were arrested; however, the project’s main concern is what happens afterwards. What I found interesting is that they do not consider women perpetrators a major issue, as the percentage is too small to be significant. I was intrigued by this policy because of my own research on women perpetrators and the roots of their violence in a course I took in Ireland about domestic and institutional abuse. I don’t think that the difference between genders on the “roots of violence” is that big of a gap. I also feel that excluding women from the culture of abuse and violence could perpetuate normative gender roles. However, I do understand their desire to be practical and work against the 95% majority group of the problem.

Dissens has also worked with and interviewed many experts who have written about masculinity, such as Michael Kimmel, Michael Messner, and Raewyn Connell. Kasia seemed unsure about how productive the outcomes of perpetrator programs are, but Dissens has helped to create a successful network within Europe that gathers information about these programs in order to share knowledge and exchange experiences and techniques.

The main questions that were raised during the discussion after their presentation surrounded the fact that they are a male-specific organization. Our group was interested in discussing the gender binary and whether the organization includes outreach to gender-queer or transgender people. Bernard told us about the gender queer specific work being done in Berlin, and when Heidi asked about men of colour and migrant/refugee men, we learned about organizations like HEROES (specifically for Turkish-German males) and Les Migras (which was also mentioned by Andrea Ottmer and other seminar leaders during our course).

In general, it was interesting to hear about work being done with the focus on men and masculinity. I wasn’t aware that gender reflective work with men and boys is prevalent across Europe, and, as Kasia mentioned, transnationally. I am hoping that the positive impact their research and work create can be spread around the world.

NOTE: The organization asked that we not take pictures during our seminar.

********************

BerilBeril Mese is starting her senior year at Colorado College this fall as a Music major. Her plan for life is to explore different cultures and its different aspects such as their music, social changes, and philosophies, etc. This means that she will be a very broke person.