I wasn't aware of this film, but no prodding was necessary once I discovered paralyzingly gorgeous Rosario Dawson had the starring role. Unfortunately, you can't even ogle a sumptuous non-white actress without White Supremacy intruding. And White Supremacy doesn't just encroach on Descent, it devours the entire film.
Appetizing Rosario Dawson is playing Maya - a shy, awkward college freshman, not well informed about the world. A victim. That's an excellent way to view her in this film. A Victim of White Supremacy. This is what can - and often does - happen to non-whites who have a minuscule understanding of the world, the System of White Supremacy.
descent: A coming down to a lower state or condition; fall, decline, sinking; progress downwards to that which is lower or subordinate.
This film depicts the descent of a non-white female as a result of sexual abuse from a White Supremacist. In fact, I feel this entire film demonstrates how people equate sexual dominance with power. But first...
I think Maya's parents are White. You hear Maya speaking with her mom on the phone, but you never see mommy and daddy. So I could be incorrect. But her voice sounds like she could be a White person. And later in the film, mother gripes about soaking in too many ultraviolet rays, which has left her a crispy red. Daddy ridicules his sun-roasted spouse by calling her Hiawatha. Again, I could be incorrect, but this sounds like stuff White people do.
Why is this important? It has been my observation that non-white people who have a White parent or two tend to be quite confused about the System of White Supremacy. I have spoke with a great many non-whites who have at least one White parent. Every one of them has said that their White parent has never done anything to help them understand or combat Racism. One non-white person even told me that her White mother refuses to discuss Racism. Non-white people in these situations also tend not to be suspicious of White people; their White parent becomes the reference point and symbol for all White people. This has disastrous ramifications for non-white people in an environment where White people are conditioned to devalue non-white life.
So when Maya meets the White man known as Jared, she's not thinking: this dude is probably Racist. I'm going to think and act as if he is. Jared is a smug jock who hounds Dawson from the first scene. He's a White guy, and he's crafty with language. Maya scarfs down his sugary words until she trusts the White man - you already know this is gonna' turn out bad.
And just like Hiawatha and the red people, Jared pumps a few glasses of fire water into Maya - legendary strategy of the White Supremacists. Not too long after - surprise - they've made there way to the bed . But Maya wants to stop at first base. The smooching was nice, but she wants to wait a while. Jared refuses. What ensues is almost five minutes of a White man desecrating Dawson's character in a blatant act of Maximum Racist Aggression. The film is most explicit about this being an act of White Supremacy above and beyond sexism or patriarchy. How can I say this with certainty? While Jared rapes Maya, he makes sure to remind us all that she is not White. She's a:
Nigger With An Attitude(NWA)
Nigger With An Attitude(NWA)
Five minutes of this, ladies and gentlemen. For Jared, this act is a reminder, a solidification of White Domination. While ravaging Maya he scolds her for looking down at him, having the audacity to think she was better then he - a White man.
Where do we go from here? Progress downwards to that which is lower or subordinate. Descent is an overwhelming illustration of Neely Fuller, Jr.'s contention that sexual abuse is one of the most destructive means of harming a person; the damage can be irreparable. Dawson's character loses the ability to relate to others in a constructive manner. Her contact with people is relegated to sexual acts with strangers while self medicating with alcohol and narcotics. The film gives no indication that she reported being raped or sought assistance in any way.
Maya's horror continues as she ends up being a teacher's assistant in the same class with her assailant, Jared. He's not the least bit concerned about his grade in the course or her revealing his crime to enforcement officials; the System of White Supremacy cultivates an obscene level of arrogance.
Now, I said this film depicts sexual dominance as power. This it not only demonstrated in Jared's rape of Maya, but throughout the movie. Maya meets a non-white male named Adrian (Marcus Patrick) after the White man's violation. Adrian - an effeminate name, don't you think? - is also suffering from his own pathologies as a Victim of Racism. He offers shelter and advice to Maya - in a victimized sort of way; he also introduces her to cocaine and other non-constructive habits. He attempts to assert his masculinity by bullying a White male; he demands that the White man smoke a cigarette from between his toes - quite emasculating.
Adrian and Maya conspire to exact vengeance on Jared. She bamboozles him into coming to her apartment. She's able to get him naked, blindfolded and shackled before he realizes things ain't quite right. She proceeds to sodomize him with a black object. She then calls for Adrian, who rapes Jared as Maya spectates.
Beyond the graphic and disturbing nature of this scene, nothing about this suggests a correction or improvement. At times the film gives the impression that Jared may be enjoying having a virile black male dominate him. [There's extensive evidence that a great many White men and women seek and relish submitting to a sexually dominant non-white partner. Malcolm X writes about this in his autobiography and this pops up in the HBO hit, True Blood.]
White people have abused and mistreated me for the duration of my existence. However, I would not derive an iota of satisfaction from sodomizing a White man - or woman. Especially If I had the option of being in bed with yummy Rosario Dawson. The film closes with a Adrian pumping away and Maya in tears - perhaps realizing that this isn't going to solve her problems or make her feel better.
White people have written books suggesting that homosexual behavior can be one way males respond to being abused or feeling powerless. Anthony Scacco's book, Male Rape, describes how incarcerated black males resort to homosexual behavior in response to being subjugated, impotent Victims of Racism (Yes, he talks about black male homosexual behavior being a response to Racism!).
Dr. Frances Cress Welsing reported that a Suspected Racist suggested that a black person who was traumatized from Racism, could have released his tension by having sex with a White person. I am not sure what - if anything - this does to Replace White Supremacy With Justice. Because it is suggested and some non-white people believe that these acts erode Racism, I can only conclude that they support and refine the System of White Domination. Especially given that a significant number of White people consistently promote non-whites having sex with White people as a solution, advancement; Sidney Poitier's Guess Who's Coming to Dinner is a brilliant illustration.
Adrian and Maya's supposed act of retribution does more to evidence their coming down to a lower state or condition; fall, decline. The non-white characters of Descent are not treated nor do they function in a humane manner. They function as Victims of and respondents to the System of White Supremacy. Their reactions merely perpetuate their less than human(e), subordinate status. Monsters and monstrosities.