Monday, July 28, 2014

No, Your Beliefs Actually Are Quite Awful

I'm crying the world's largest puddle of misandry tears for Todd Akin, he of "legitimate rape" notoriety, and other people with reprehensible thoughts who think the Real Issue is that their reprehensible thoughts were just taken out of context and that, maybe just maybe, if they framed their thoughts better, they would be seen as less reprehensible.

I'm reminded of conversations with some anti-gay Christians who think that if we understood, just really understood, that people can hate the sin and love the sinner, then we'd understand that nothing about their religion is at all problematic toward gay people, so geeez, why are you gays being so unfair to Christians by calling them bigots?

According to recent statements by Akin, likewise, we're supposed to feel sorry for him because he's been made out to be the "villain of the whole world," a remarkably self-centered claim, that.  Like, a man's criticized for his reprehensible politics and his way of handling it is to claim he's basically the most hated man on Earth. 

What's he going to do next, start fake *ducking* whenever he says anything remotely controversial, just to pre-empt all those violent, unfair progressives and feminists who criticize him for no reason at all?

In the same interview in which he explains how he doesn't have awful views, people just willfully misrepresent him, this happens:
"Finally, Todd asked Akin if he believed there are any exceptional cases in which a woman should be allowed to have an abortion. 
Akin refused to directly answer the question, but did allow that cases in which a nonviable fetus threatens the life of the mother might constitute an “exception” that he could support. 
'I think that what doctors should do is try to save life,' he said. 'I believe that what you do is save the mother. Your objective is not to kill the child. If you’d call that an exception, then that would be an exception.'"
Like, he can barely, barely, no not even concede that a woman should be able to choose to save her own life if, and only if, the fetus she's carrying is non-viable. And, catering to the most extreme forced birther crowd he can barely, just barely, admit that he would maybe allow (because it's his decision, apparently) women to have that one teeny tiny "exception" with respect to our own ability to stay alive.

This is not a man who has been willfully misrepresented or who, from time to time, misspeaks and says stuff that doesn't actually represent his beliefs. This is a man who really does have reprehensible politics and beliefs about women's autonomy, value, and lives.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Friday's Deep Thought and Open Thread

I pretty much love the movie Pitch Perfect, even though it would have been a thousand times better if Beca and Chloe were girlfriends (NSFW?) in maintext rather than just subtext.

That's all.

Talk about stuff. Or don't! It's Friday!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Dude Writers Pissy About Newfangled Non-Male, Non-Straight Characters

Where many feminists rightly critique the media for producing content that excludes female characters or that excludes female audiences, some men of privilege critique the media for producing content that features female characters or that was created to appeal to audiences members who are people other than straight white men.

The latter instance, judging by some men's reactions to being de-centered,  is interpreted as an appalling attack on straight white men, morally equal to (and probably worse than) women being systemically excluded from representation. Because they are used to being the default protagonists of life, TV shows, movies, comic books, and video games, they snark, mock, and ridicule representations that do not center them, their life experiences, and their desires.

Lacking the desire or ability to understand what it's like to not be centered, they do not or cannot concede that people might have good motives for creating characters other than straight white men, or trying to appeal to audiences other than people like themselves. Such is their entitlement. What they have no need or desire for, they think everyone else in the world has no need or desire for.

As one of two recent examples, conservative author John C. Wright has a tantrum over Marvel making comic book character Thor a woman. In a post titled, grossly, "Thor Cropped of his Male Member," he bemoans, what else, but political correctness gone awry™:
"I have recovered my powers of speech and can comment further. Is Marvel Comics out of its collective ever-lovin’ mind? 
Do they not care if they lose 80% of their few remaining readers? 
Does Marvel actually think fangirls want to read about girls acting macho and kicking ass? 
And if you wanted to do a Norse Goddess ass-kicker superheroine, what in the name of Nastrond is wrong with Sif, or Valkyrie, or any other established Marvel Norse heroine? 
Is there anything wrong with either of these Nordic she-soldiers. 
Ah, but the point of Political Correctness is not to tell a story and make it good, but to take a good story and ruin it.

Fanboys, I know, like looking at woman warriors that are leggy and busty and dress in skintight black leather."
Note the condescension, the cocksure certainty that he, a man, just knows what "fangirls" want from "girl" superheroes and "she-soldiers." Observe the lazy, self-centered use of the phrase political correctness to assume that Marvel made this decision solely to hurt people like him by destroying something he thought was cool!  Note the way he places himself as objective arbiter of what is and isn't a good story.

As a second recent example, conservative blogger Rod Dreher clutches his pearls about comic book character Archie (*spoiler alert if people even read Archie still*) dying in an anti-gay hate crime incident. Dreher mocks:
"Seriously, this happens today in the comic universe.... [quotes description of Archie's demise]
Nope, nothing overtly political here. Hey, since I was last in Riverdale, they’ve got teen lesbians, one of whom is a 'fierce Latina.'
Seems like everybody is gay in pop culture today."
I guess it's quaint-funny that Dreher thinks an incident like a hate crime, a character who's a fierce Latina lesbian, or a story being political are Totally Out There in comic book world.  Like, has he read a comic book, ever?  Or, does he only object to representations that don't jive with his seemingly ideal world of straight white guys staying at the center of all things and political content he disagrees with being marginalized? And, for that matter, does he live in the real world, you know, the one that actually consists of Latina lesbians?

And yes, the Archie plot might be heavy-handed which, it seems, is part of what Dreher is objecting to, but his commentary also shows some huffy pouting about gay people and allies being represented at all, in the media.

Dudes can accept a character being bitten by a radioactive spider and hence developing exaggerated super powers of spiders, characters from fairy tales somehow living under the radar in New York City, and thousands of comic book characters seemingly never aging throughout the years, but they draw the line at representations of a hate crime or a female Thor?

It's hard for me to think that something other than shitloads of unexamined privilege, entitlement, and self-centeredness can explain that.

Atlantic Writer: Women's Prison Show Should be More About Men

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The World's Most Expensive Puddle of Misandry Tears

[Content note: Misogyny]

Via David Futrelle, "men's rights" site A Voice For Men has issued a "commemorative coin," costing $58.88:

Screen Shot 2014-07-11 at Fri, [Jul 11], 14 6

It's not entirely clear what exactly is being depicted on this coin, but on the back is a quote by Robert F. Kennedy.

For future editions of this hot item, I would suggest more accurate quotes, such as those actually uttered by A Voice for Men's Founder Paul Elam.  Such as, hmmmm, let's see:
"And all the outraged PC demands to get huffy and point out how nothing justifies or excuses rape won’t change the fact that there are a lot of women who get pummeled and pumped because they are stupid (and often arrogant) enough to walk though life with the equivalent of a I’M A STUPID, CONNIVING BITCH – PLEASE RAPE ME neon sign glowing above their empty little narcissistic heads."
Or, I know:
"[O]ur current gender zeitgeist is one that has promoted and enabled such a degree of female narcissism and entitlement that it has now produced two generations of women that are for the most part, shallow, self-serving wastes of human existence—parasites—semi-human black holes that suck resources and goodwill out of men and squander them on the mindless pursuit of vanity."
Those inspiring quotes should certainly be commemorated and captured.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

"Well, he's young"

This "explanation" is sometimes offered to me as a reasonable justification for why some young men are oblivious to their privilege, are acting aggressively, and/or are being rude to women.

Once, when I was guest blogging at a conservative site, I gently took issue with one "fresh from undergrad" young man's, ahem, problematic behavior, and an older man associated with the site privately emailed me to request that I give the young guy a break because he's just a young guy, visibly upset by the encounter, and so forth.  (Men acting problematically often have very delicate feelings, you see, even as they mock feminists for being over-sensitive. Hence, the dance we often have to play with the word "problematic.")

Another time, I was on a project with a young guy, new to working, who was hyper-defensive about even the minutest of critiques and suggestions to his work. He strutted into the workplace both assuming he had lots to teach everyone else, especially the women, and believed that much of the work in his job description was "beneath" him. He was the Big Picture Guy, or so he thought.

Every conversation with him was a battle in which his sole objective was to "win" everyone over to his viewpoint.  He had no capacity to understand that maybe, just maybe, he didn't automatically warrant an immediate CEO position. He didn't get why people didn't just do what he said, just because it was him saying the things.

"Well, he's young," some people would say.

But, the thing is, I know many young people, men and women alike, and not all of them are assholes.  Many of them are kind, aware, and humble. Many of them believe they have things to learn from other people - about work, about privilege, about other people's life experiences.

I do not deem "Well, he's young" to be a sufficient reason to explain away a young guy's assholery. When I hear it, I hear a phrase that enables young men to their entitlement to be fonts of unexamined privilege and illusory superiority.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Atlantic Writer: Women's Prison Show Should Be More About Men

[Content note: Discussions of violence, threats]

This story is probably old news in Internet Time, but did you all hear that, according to The Atlantic's Noah Berlatsky, a show that's based on a woman's memoir of being incarcerated in a women's prison is "irresponsible" for not including more male prisoners:
"Orange Is the New Black [OITNB] has been justly praised for its representation of groups who are often either marginalized or completely invisible in most mainstream media. The show has prominent, complex roles for black women, Latinas, lesbian and bisexual women, and perhaps the first major role for a trans woman played by a trans woman, the wonderful Laverne Cox. There remains, however, one important group that the show barely, and inadequately, represents. 
That group is men. 
This may seem like a silly complaint. "
May seem?

Look. Can't we have one show, one. fucking. show. in the entire world, that actually has a well-rounded ensemble cast of diverse women, in which male characters are not centered and dominant?  I mean, hell, Orange still has about a half dozen regular male characters who evoke varying levels of sympathy, which is more than we can say about how most male-centric shows and movies treat women.

I mean, I see so much wrong with Berlatsky's piece, it's hard to know where to start: Should Piper Kerman have written her memoir about a men's prison, just for the sake of talking about men more?  Like, a woman can't even tell her own story without a man barging in and telling her it's not enough about men?

Should we discuss Berlatsky's selective interpretation of the characters' adorable widdle criminal backgrounds or, ironically, his Deep Concern that the show is, in his opinion, condescending to women?

Should we talk about him taking issue with the male prisoner who's presented as a sexual predator, when in fact in real life, some male prisoners actually are sexual predators?

Or, how about his simplistic, bogus claim that the show presents female inmates as "innocent victims" and men as "super-predators" even though multiple female characters act in a predatory manner. Alex Vause, for instance, threatens to rape another female inmate and Piper almost beats another woman to death in Season 1.  I could easily rattle off more examples that would burst Berlatsky's subtext that claims the show is just one more gender propaganda piece about how men are violent and women aren't.

In fact, one might think that, in some ways, OITNB would be an anti-feminist/MRA's dream as it actually does depict female violence, an issue these men really want the world to know about. Although, they probably take big time issue with the fact that, in order to do so, the show has to also be about women. Oh, such a conundrum in the life of the anti-feminist/MRA!

Reading Berlatsky's article, well.... you know how someone can just rattle off their opinions in like 10 minutes (misandry! reverse sexism! feminists say all men are rapists!), but it takes much, much longer to do a decent job of deconstructing those opinions? Seriously rebutting all of his points would be like 3 hours of my life I would never get back.

So what I mostly want to say is: OITNB is about women, fucking deal with it.

Thankfully, most people in the comments rightly took issue with Berlatsky's piece, and did so quite well (see, for instance). He did not defend his points well, either, when he did reply to people's comments.

But, because Noah Berlatsky has his own column at The Atlantic, he got to dig down and defend himself further, introducing his readers to the concept of Mens' Rights in a separate article, with the aid of a male "scholar of gender studies" who he interviewed who claims to be especially critical and skeptical of the way many variants of feminism focus on, in his words, "females."

How nice for them.

Consider my post a meta-observation of some men's apparent discomfort with women writing narratives that de-center men from any and all conversations, TV shows, movies, books, articles, and courses of scholarship.

And also, given the extraordinary women writers and thinkers that I'm aware of who are capable of writing very well about gender, I find it contemptible that so many male dipshits continue to have paid writing gigs in major media outlets where they get to amplify their opinions about gender just for clicks and giggles.