Thursday, December 6, 2018

Biden, Bernie, and Russia

In the purported feminist revival we're in, I continue to contemplate what it means that Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders lead polls among Democrats of possible 2020 presidential candidates, with newcomer (to the national stage) Beto O'Rourke now coming in right behind them in third place.

Biden has done very poorly in previous presidential campaigns (1998 and 2008), but I think his recent popularity is due largely to name recognition, the effect of riding President Obama's coattails as Democrats continue to mourn the end of that presidency, and the fact that the Overton Window of what an acceptable candidate is has shifted quite far in the age of Trump.  White men who merely quietly rape people and then half-ass apologize, as opposed to brag about it, are practically thrown ticker tape parades these days.

Bernie and Beto, like Biden, have a lot of name recognition right now, with Bernie losing to Hillary in 2016 and Beto losing a high-profile Senate race in Texas to the magnificently-unlikeable Ted Cruz.

What winners!

Plus, even those on the left side of the political spectrum can be racist and sexist. For many people who are not, they will support a white man simply because they are resigned to thinking that a woman/person of color cannot ever win because "everyone else" is still too racist and sexist to vote for anyone but a white man.

But, aside from these factors, I'm troubled by Biden because, as Melissa notes in an article about Biden's cocky comments about his qualification to be president, he "was vice-president while a foreign adversary stole our fucking election."  For that reason alone, his national security credibility is, or should be, severely lacking.

With respect to Bernie, we know that Russia gave his campaign an assist against Hillary Clinton. Are they going to do so again,this time against other Democrat candidates, while getting further assists from his most hard-core, rabid online supporters?

The mainstream media should make it extremely awkward, to say the least, if Bernie and Biden in particular fail to address the integrity of our elections during their campaigns (assuming they both run).

And, given both men's relatively popularity, it seems that more Democrats need to fully understand that the Mueller investigation is less about removing Trump because he's a terrible person (which he is) and more because he and/or his campaign agents likely conspired with a foreign government to undermine our political system.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Just When I Think I Can't Get More Gay

The Guardian has to go and highlight the Literary Review's bad erotic writing shortlist. Funnily enough, the shortlist is entirely comprised of male writers and wow.

[content note: sexual assault]

I know writers are, usually, in theory writing from fictional characters' perspective but it's also hard not to think these snippets are at least somewhat of a glimpse into the writers' headspace about male-female sexual relations, particularly the dude who wrote about the dude who was doing what sounds like raping a woman in her sleep while he simultaneously feared being "completely emptied out" by her "sex" and the dude who wrote about the woman who became, from her perspective (which is the best part), "an empty vessel for what feels like disembodied consciousness" while having sex with a man.

That's .... a lot to unpack.

Anyway, if you read the article, "I cannot caution you strongly enough" that you might come across phrases like "pleasure cave."

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Social Justice Writing and the Decline of Blogging

I'm not going to link to the article I'm referencing today, but I miss the heyday of blogging.

Twitter is much more popular now than blogging and I sometimes wonder how that platform has changed people's conception of what social justice writing is or should be. I think many people do Twitter threads well, in terms of fleshing out thoughts in ways more similar to longform.

Twitter has increased the character count and has made it easier for users to thread their Tweets into a continuous "longform" piece if they wish. Although, I find using that feature to be much clunkier with my usual writing process where I move words and sentences around, compared to the Blogger interface that is essentially a giant text field. For instance, I wrote about this topic on Twitter this morning as well (ironically?) - the piece for Blogger was going to be exactly the same, but even as I copy-pasted the Twitter thread to Blogger, I realized right away that it read choppily and I had additional thoughts to insert.

Anyway, on Twitter, I also see a lot of social justice "dunking" where the aim is to humiliate someone for being so "self-evidently" wrong that it doesn't warrant explanation. I've had run-ins with some serious assholes, as I've sometimes written about here where it's been clear folks were using me as a prop to score cool points to their followings.

Not that this kind of thing didn't happen during the blogging years of the aughts. I remember a lot of blog wars and much of the bully behavior and profile is similar. But, engaging with people on Twitter, particularly in a "dunk" context, gets not worth it fast. Unlike with comment moderation at a website, any fucken rando can chime in to the convo. And, even if you block assholes, you know their comment is still "there" on Twitter, for other people to engage with and view.

Or, you see a bunch of people vehemently agreeing with the dunk, but no one really explains.... why.  This phenomenon probably happens more on Twitter than on blogging platforms, because it more coincides with what Twitter was for. It was designed for the hot, short opinion.

Dunking has its role, I suppose, perhaps mostly if/when users are building solidarity around someone else being wrong/stupid/bad.

But, its purpose and impact on audiences compared to analysis is quite different. With respect to the article in question that I read yesterday, it was a longform piece that read like the author thought social justice writing should be a series of "dunks" and social justice lingo with almost zero analysis.

Part of this, too, might be attributable to a lot of gender studies/social justice writing in academia being inaccessible to many lay audiences - physically, financially, and/or linguistically. For instance, I read a recent journal article, and had to do so 5 times before *I think* I understood it.

It read as though it was written *for* other academics within the same bubble and sphere who already know the zillion other articles already written about the topic at hand, as well as the obscure terminology, rather than for the masses.

Nonetheless, the concepts within academic articles often flow onto Twitter and, like a modern version of the game "telephone," are often warped beyond what the author meant or intended.

So, people think they know what something means, but their understanding comes from a "dunk" or from someone else's (or their own) misreading. And concurrent with these dynamics are bots, deliberate ratfucking, and bad actors.

Despite the decline of blogging, I've also kept up my blog for more than a decade, for these (and other) reasons, including that I just get different things out of each platform.

UPDATE: Okay, the editor-in-chief of the article that inspired this post has publicly addressed the, um, problematic article. So, it's this.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Deep Thought on Aliens

The entire unit in the movie Aliens is queer. I don't make the rules, I just call it like I see it.

Ripley and the gang
Where do I start?

First, there's Ripley the badass and her sensible haircut,tiny jacket, and gray jumpsuit, obviously. Then, there's the buff woman in the red bandana and huge gun who is so butch she can only be described as homoerotically leaning into that dude wearing matching camo. On the other side of her, is the awkward dude in vest and flannel with his hands over his groin, for whatever reason.

All in all, these folks look like they could kick some alien ass and/or break into song and dance about it at any moment.

That's my deep thought today about a movie that's approximately three decades old.

I've now watched Prometheus, Alien: Covenant, Alien, and Aliens and, in addition to having some very disturbing dreams as of late, each movie thus far is a slight variation of someone in charge making a really bad decision to go to that fucken planet. Also, Cylons.

Friday, November 30, 2018

Conservative Bully Reads P0rn So You Don't Have To!

[Content note: transbigotry]

I see that Rod Dreher has continued his years-long hate-fixation with transgender people.

I won't link to it, but most recently he has reacted to Andrea Long Chu's New York Times op-ed about her experience as a transgender woman. I know Chu's op-ed has created debate within the trans community. For that reason, and others, I think trans voices should be centered and prioritized within that conversation.

Clearly, other people disagree, including Rod Dreher.

Dreher is not a trans person, a scientist, a doctor, or a mental health professional and for those reasons his musings should be given no weight.  Yet, with a confidence that belies his qualifications, he discounts the lived experiences of transgender people using the "expertise" of his "common sense" religious ideology and his platform as Professional Conservative Navel-Gazer to denigrate, misgender, and bully transgender children, teenagers, and adults all while trying to paint conservative Christians like himself as victims of a secular decadent society.

That's sort of his brand.

In his Chu blogpost, he histrionically posts update after update and that's all I'll address today. Now, he often posts updates to his articles as reader reactions come in. He particularly seems to like to either scold pro-LGBT commenters for being "uncreative" or mean to him or he wants to highlight some comment that he thinks is particularly witty (ie, it affirms his own biases/bigotry). My favorite of these are the "I'm a homosexual/Black person/feminist and I agree with ya, Rod!" genre of "private emails" he seems to receive with surprising, and not at all suspicious, regularity.

One update to the Chu piece, however, is a bit.... different. In it, he breathlessly reports how he discovered a paper Chu wrote about "sissy p0rn," gives his readers a content warning* about it, and - as though he's really taking one for the team -offers readers a summary, followed by yet another content warning.

Here he is (emphasis added):
"There are no images, but don’t click through to it and start reading unless you are prepared to go to an extremely dark place. I almost didn’t post this here, but after thinking about it, I concluded that it’s actually vitally important to know.
I’m going to summarize the paper for those who don’t want to read it. Again, I cannot caution you strongly enough about its content, and the pornographic images Chu describes in detail in the paper."
Here, I'm reminded of anti-LGBT voyeurs like Peter LaBarbera, of Americans For Truth [sic] About Homosexuality, who show up at LGBT events like Pride, Folsom Street Fair, and International Mr. Leather to document/"expose"/gawk at/whatever LGBT people for a conservative anti-LGBT audience. These armchair anthropologists start first from the premise that LGBT = bad/immoral/flawed/sinful/overly-sexual/aggressive and gather every bit of sociological "evidence" they think confirms that.

Yet, among other things, the praxis strikes me as counterproductive.

If someone weren't curious enough to go look into LGBT events or a certain type of p0rn on their own, wouldn't you sure as shit have your curiosity piqued after Dreher's impassioned, vehement description?   

You guys: this thing I found. You WON'T believe it. Don't look! Seriously, just don't. BUT, let me summarize it. I'm WARNING you, under no circumstances look into this yourselves. Why, I do declare: IT'S PORN AND ASSLESS CHAPS!


*As a note about the content warning Dreher offers his readers. He frequently uses various forms of content notes at his blog,usually with respect to content he links to that includes profanity or what he deems vulgarity. He also frequently mocks trigger warnings and other such "politically correct" content notes. Because he's very self-aware, obviously.