Friday, December 30, 2016

Femslash Friday: Women in Space

I dedicate the last Femslash Friday* of 2016 to the General herself.

A listing, in no particular order, of some of my other favorite fictional women in (or from) space:
  • Zoe - Firefly
  • The Android - Dark Matter
  • President Laura Roslin - Battlestar Galactica
  • Supergirl - Supergirl
  • Vice Admiral Janeway - Star Trek 
  • Dr. Ellie Arroway - Contact (or, as I call it: The Gaslighting of Ellie Arroway)
  • Tali'Zorah - Mass Effect
  • Number Eight / Sharon Valerii / Sharon Agathon - Battlestar Galactica
  • Dr. Ryan Stone - Gravity (or, as I call it: Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck)
  • Lt. Ellen Ripley - Alien series
  • Rey - Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Oh yeah, and Starbuck from Battlestar Galactica (I know I've repeated BSG multiple times here, but it's my favorite sci-fi series so deal with it!).  Enjoy today's fan vid, featuring her:

As I was thinking about this list, it still strikes me how few female characters there are in this genre, compared to male characters. And, most are white and straight.

Any additions?

*Pairing: None. Sometimes, I like to take a step back and just appreciate bad-assery all by itself.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Internet Civility Solution: Paying to Comment

On the Internet civility front, here's an interesting concept. Tablet magazine online allows reader comments, but requires users to pay to comment:

It seems people can't even view the comments without paying.

I really like this solution, particularly for a large site with a lot of readers, although I also recognize that it could put some conversations out of reach for those who are unable to pay. 

ALSO: Imagine being the kind of person who would pay a fee to be an Internet Jerk?  Idea: maybe I should start charging a troll tax - if people want to come here and troll or harass, they have to pay for my time?

(Nah. Still not worth it).

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Recap Wednesday: Supergirl 1.11 "Strange Visitor From Another Planet"

In this episode, we first meet Adam, a seemingly-random guy who flirts with Kara at a coffeeshop. He asks pesky questions about Cat Grant while Kara is oblivious to his flirting, as depicted in the scene below, starring Kara, Adam, Alex, and Alex's side-eye:

Not too long after this scene, we learn that Adam is Cat Grant's estranged son. He shows up at CatCo because he read a letter to him that Cat wrote. Cat had intended to throw the letter away, but Kara finished the letter and mailed it to Adam without Cat knowing. Oh.

Today's semi-villain (or whatever) is Senator Miranda Crane, who according to Cat "is a lightning rod for bigots, hippies, and aliens" (and that is the order in which Cat detests them). Crane is in town to lead an anti-alien rally and James is sent to cover it and hopefully obtain a quote that will "offend everyone." Hey, we all know that clickbait sells!

The rally is kind of awful. People are holding anti-alien, anti-Supergirl, and "return 2 sender" signs. At one point, Crane says, "Monsters are coming for your families" and it reminded me of, among other salient issues of the day, that fear-mongering, anti-gay National Organization for Marriage ad from 2009, "A Storm is Gathering."

But then, a White Martian actually does show up at the anti-alien rally and starts attacking people!

J'onn tells Alex that the White Martians were a species that committed genocide against his own species, the Green Martians, and killed his family (sob).  Alex and Hank/J'onn take Senator Crane to the DEO for her protection, but it turns out that the White Martian had shape-shifted into Senator Crane, so it's not really her. The real Senator Crane was taken to a lair and the White Martian escapes.

Later, Cat has dinner with Adam and it doesn't go so well. She is nervous and mostly talks about herself, so he angrily leaves. Kara vows to fix things between them, which seems like even further weird boss/subordinate dynamics, but I'm on board the Cat/Kara ship so what the hell do I know. Oh, speaking of which, Kara arranges a coffee date between herself, Cat, and Adam. Adam is clearly into Kara, so now my Supergirl subtextual-watching is just weird:

Awkward, party of three
In all seriousness, it does end up being a meaningful mother-son reconciliation moment, so I'm happy for them.

On the White Martian front, it abducts Alex and vows to release her in exchange for J'onn's life. We learn that J'onn is dealing with survivor's guilt and he resigns himself to dying so he can rejoin his family. Here is the awful, ugly-ass White Martian in the moment it gleefully thinks it's going to kill J'onn:

However, after saving the real Senator Crane, Supergirl swoops in (swooping, I feel like she's always swooping) to save the White Martian. Together, Supergirl and J'onn battle the White Martian, capture it, and put it in the DEO bad alien jail.

We later see Senator Crane revising her anti-alien stance in light of her experience with Supergirl and resulting realization that not all aliens are evil. Well, shit, imagine a politician doing that. Of course, in our world we would call a politician who does such a thing a "flip-flopper," so. That's that.

Deep Thought of the Week: Probably the most powerful relationships in Supergirl thus far have been between women: Alex/Kara as sisters, Cat/Kara as mentor/mentee, and Kara/Astra as niece/aunt. In this episode, though, we delve deeper into another key relationship, that of Hank/J'onn being a father figure to Kara and Alex.

Kara lost her father when her planet exploded and she was sent to Earth, and Alex lost her father when he supposedly died while on a DEO mission. After Alex and Kara save him, Hank/J'onn tells them that he had two daughters on his home planet. And, he implies that he sees Kara and Alex as his adoptive daughters, saying, "Any man would be proud to call you his daughters."

It's touching and, in typical fashion, right after saying this he acts gruff and embarrassed about such displays of sentimentality.

 [Note: In November 2017, CW/Supergirl Executive Producer Andrew Kreisberg was suspended after allegations of sexual harassment.]

Friday, December 23, 2016

Femslash Friday: Nomi/Amanita

Did you know Netflix will be airing a Sense8 holiday special, starting today? 


It's true that Sun is my favorite Sense8 character, but Nomi and Amanita together are one of my all-time favorite TV couples.

Enjoy today's fan vid (NSFW):

Unrelated Fun Fact: I once briefly met Lana Wachowski and, whilst hugging her, unintentionally got a strand of her pink hair stuck in my mouth. I make the best and most suave of impressions!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Recap Wednesday: Supergirl 1.10 Childish Things

Creeps gonna creep, ya'll. That is theme today.

The episode begins with us seeing a villain who has a talking doll in his prison cell (because um?), who escapes from prison by killing the guards with a yo-yo weapon, and whose name is ToyMan, so like I said, creeps gonna creep. (Also, you gotta love DC comic names. Formula: generic adjective + noun).

At CatCo, Cat is surreptitiously interviewing Lucy for a job. We learn that Lucy has a JD/MBA from Harvard and has been in the Army ever since. I'm not sure what happened with this Army gig, since she was in uniform like two days ago. From my understanding an armed forces job is not something one can just walk away from without a somewhat formal process, but hey, disbelief officially suspended here because I'm all for more Lucy in the show. Cat wants Lucy to be CatCo's General Counsel, and so say we all!

Later, some FBI agents come to CatCo and question Winn. It turns out his father is *dun dun dun* ToyMan. Of note, the lead FBI agent is played by Emma Caulfield, who played Anya in Buffy, whom I adore. It's kind of fitting, isn't it, that she'd be interacting with the Xander of Supergirl?

"I've got a theory, it could be bunnies."
We find out that what supposedly turned ToyMan into a sociopathic killer was that his business partner stole his toy designs and got rich off of them. Instead of going through the legal system, he killed five people with a bomb. Oh.

On the DEO front, Alex and Hank are working to break into Lord Technologies because they know Max is plotting against Supergirl.  There is a moment when Alex calls Max and we see that he has her named "Mata Hari" in his cell phone. Ew ew fucking EW.  I can't wait until this Alex/Max shit is over in Season 2.

ToyMan then asks Winn to meet him at an arcade, which Winn does while wearing an FBI bug. We see a lot of creepy shit going on there. It's devoid of people but there's a Tilt-A-Whirl running, the seats spinning emptily around. There's flashing lights. The talking doll is back, robotically asking into the void, "I. love. you. Do. you. love. me?" And, you know how sometimes when you watch a scary movie you're privy to a vantage point that the protagonist is not?  Yeah:

You in trouble, Winn.
While Winn talks to Daddy ToyMan, the FBI moves in. It turns out that Daddy ToyMan isn't actually there in the flesh. It's a holographic trick! (Isn't it always?!) Some toy elephants start spraying a poisonous gas out of their trunks. Supergirl swoops in, inhales the all the gas, and flies away, saving everyone!

[blah blah blah Alex/Max subtext in which he tries to literally spoon-feed Alex snail eggs that he boasts are $100/mouthful, soooooo, burn it down BURN IT ALL DOWN]

While Alex and Max are eating snail eggs, J'onn has shape-shifted into Max and broken into Lord Technologies. While there, he finds a comatose woman hooked up to a bunch of machines. Eeesh. Max is up to something indeed.

Supergirl, meanwhile, has tracked down ToyMan at his old toy factory, which apparently the FBI didn't think to do. When she arrives, this toy greets her, which is fine:

Stephen King reference noted.
Somehow, Supergirl almost immediately becomes trapped in a giant Jack-in-the-Box thingy, while small children's voices emanate from crates suspended in the air. Supergirl escapes, so it seems that the purpose of that scene was mostly to add some new visual and audio to our subconscious minds' ongoing political night terrors.

Winn later goes to Kara's house and reveals his great fear that one day he'll turn into a killer like his dad. He then tries to kiss Kara, is rebuffed, and then huffs out of her apartment, at which time he's captured by ToyMan. (This ToyMan dude is seriously everywhere at once!)

ToyMan then sends Winn to a toy convention to kill the former business partner who got rich from his toy idea. ToyMan has planted 10 bombs (when? how?) and will set them off if Winn doesn't kill the guy. Winn is unable to do the deed, but before the bombs go off, Supergirl flies in and makes a big ice barricade that shields all the convention-goers from the blasts. ToyMan is recaptured and imprisoned.

In a super-uncomfortable scene, Winn then tells Kara that he doesn't want to bottle up his feelings toward about her anymore because it might turn him into a killer. Which, you know, seems.... fine? (It doesn't seem fine)  I might kill people if I can't have you! No pressure though. So, that'll be an interesting bit of character development to .... watch pan out.

To end, we see some essential Danvers Sisters bonding, wherein Kara just chills in her Supergirl outfit, as one does, and dinner consists of exactly one bite each of pizza:

If you're not gonna eat the rest of that...
Oh. And the creepiest moment of all? It turns out that Max has secretly installed a surveillance camera and he's secretly watching the above scene between Alex and Kara, unbeknownst to them. So, it's full-on Mark-from-The-L-Word voyeurism. Creeps gonna..... yeah.

Deep Thought of the Week: My earliest, most-formative horror movie moment is "the clown doll scene from Poltergeist." So, the creepy-toy genre will probably always give me a bit of scared-shitless nostalgia. Speaking of which, and because it's the holiday season, I was reminded of one of my all-time favorite Lost Girl episodes, "Groundhog Fae."

The whole episode is worth watching. For one, it goes full-on toy-creep when Tamsin almost gets turned into candy (it's not as weird as it sounds?). But, it also references Krampus, the Bill Murray movie Groundhog Day, and includes this moment, in which Lauren Lewis' ice cream cone melts. Never forget!

 [Note: In November 2017, CW/Supergirl Executive Producer Andrew Kreisberg was suspended after allegations of sexual harassment.]

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Quote of the Day

The Feminist Wire's Statement on the Election is worth reading in its entirety. A snippet:
"The 2016 presidential election has deepened and revealed immense fissures in our social fabric along lines of race, gender, class, sexuality, citizenship status, and ability. Though the people voted for Hillary Rodham Clinton by a wide margin, the slave-state holdover Electoral College is poised to elect Donald J. Trump as President of the United States. Trump is an avowed and unapologetic racist, xenophobe, misogynist, and sexual predator whose campaign drew heavily upon vocal support from white nationalists while the Republican Party stood idly by. Indeed, their actions of recent years paved the way for a Trump presidency.

We recognize that our democracy has long been compromised by capitalism, neoliberalism, militarization, and special interests, and has been, since the founding of our nation, interwoven with white supremacy and imperialism. The U.S. is a nation of brutal-made-to-be-normalized violence. On this front, Trump’s election is nothing new. Nor are the fissures revealed by the election. What is new is Trump’s blatant disregard for democratic process, his unabashed white supremacy, his vocal misogyny, and his contempt for any semblance of human rights and social justice. He thus provides unrestrained authority and resources to violence of white supremacy and genocide."
This point is so important, I think: the election has deepened and revealed fissures in our social fabric (on the left and the right). It has not created them.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Internet Culture in the Trump Era

I have a new post up at Shakesville today, placing Donald Trump into a context of Internet harassment culture.

Check it out, here!

Friday, December 16, 2016

A Serious Post About the Memes of Production

Okay, I'll play.

I want to dedicate this post to a brocialist member of the Tone Police, "Your Woke Toddler," who toddled into my Twitter mentions yesterday to scold me for integrating pop culture references into political posts because such integration doesn't comport with his enlightened notions of proper political purity and serious discourse.

It is wrong of me, he instructed, to build a "geek brand" off of "real-world problems," which sounds to me like a cool leftist way to try to trivialize my (ad-free! non-revenue!) writing and shame me at the same time. Although, he has a point when you think about it. Can a person, let alone a woman, even cite geeky things and express serious political thoughts at the same time? PROBABLY NOT.

Behold, an observation: We are apparently to believe that re-tweeting dank leftist and anti-Hillary memes under the handle "Your Woke Toddler" is a Very Serious Contribution to the Political Discourse. (Why, it's almost as though frivolity in political discourse is not my scold's real complaint, but maybe, just maybe, something else! Is this a consistent complaint Toddler makes of all he encounters? PROBABLY NOT!)

Behold, another observation: We are to believe that one should never include a Game of Thrones reference in any post about politics because Game of Thrones has no message about politics from which we can or should draw analogies to current political realities. Apparently, that's just, like, the rules of leftism.

Nevermind that pop culture, art, geekdom, and science fiction are used by many people to cope with, draw comparisons to, and/or critique political oppression, and have long been used this way.  Literally who doesn't do this? Consider, for instance, the many women for whom The Handmaid's Tale serves as a precautionary tale about the dangers of the state controlling reproductive autonomy.  Better not mention that! Best to instead follow an Internet rando's rule on citing fiction in political work, or else you're just another unserious shillary corporatist neo-liberal imperialist!

And let me tell you! This little non-commercial, non-corporate independent geeky outfit I run here at Fannie's Room makes me millions of dollars! Millions! That's why when I'm not indulging pop culture cravings, my other favorite pastime is to dive into my vault of gold coins like Scrooge McDuck and do the backstroke.

I admit. I do this, even though there is suffering in the world.

But, and gather closely because I'm going to let you in on a little secret, I do sometimes hear that faint whisper from 22-year-old me: "If..... if only I could seize control of the means of production." I would then make all the femslash. No wait, sorry. At such times, I wonder, "Could I too one day be a white person on social media who fetishizes violent communist revolution?" Was I a total sell-out this whole time for not spending months attacking Hillary Clinton, when I could have instead been tweeting the whitest, most violence-glorifying shit ever about Fidel Castro after he died?? But the Goldman Sachs speeeeeeeeeeches!

Dear readers, it's clear I've been put in my place.

Tyrion Lannister tells us that we should know what we are, and wear it like a shield, so it can never be used against us. And readers, I say to you, I have been smacked down from my high horse. I'm now the opposite of an uppity, shallow liberal feminist. I'm downity. Debbie Downity. I shall cope with political travesty only in serious ways, ways which are dictated to me by brocialist strangers on Twitter. I have seen the light of the wagging finger and I want nothing more than to please it (for, a bird landed on it, and I was mesmerized!).

From henceforth on it's nothing but academic analyses of Das Kapital, comrades! Down with shallow pop culture blogging!*

But first, this.

A last bit of "white feminist"** shit for brocialists to ridicule via that well-worn veneer of post-feminist enlightenment that masks their seething misogyny. I give you my version of the popular "Me in 2016" meme!

Me at the beginning of 2016:

Me at the end of 2016:

Me at the beginning of 2017:

But, in spite of brocialist dipshits, I do believe we mustn't forget the real enemy. To paraphrase Jessica Jones, Trump is the kind of person who gives people a bad name. But then again, so are lots of people.

As the walking-Deplorable-Comment-Section prepares to take office, I continue to contemplate resistance while steeling myself for the cruelty he has emboldened. As this cruelty is inflicted offline and on, I think about different strategies for addressing cyberbullies and will likely be experimenting with them in the coming year. As you can see. The mean people are winning because they count on nice people's civility and exploit it. When you do fight back, they see it as an unfair attack. When deplorables are blocked or banned, they think it makes them strong and us weak.

They're wrong.

I will defend myself, but unlike them I don't actively seek out people to harass. That's not because I have any great respect for them as Internet Deplorables, but because I respect the principle of presumptive civility more. You treat me well, I treat you well. You fuck with me, I defend myself and fight back. What I won't do is allow strangers to dictate to me how I can and cannot cope with this political reality, what tone of voice I use, or what sources I cite to articulate my points.

On that note, I am over the non-pragmatic left, many of whom effectively acted as propagandists for foreign operatives even if they didn't know it and won't now own that complicity. I have always been over the right, who have shown their hypocritical true colors as is typical. These political rifts didn't happen overnight in November, they've existed for a long time and were effectively exploited. I find myself searching for political allies, even in unlikely places, while I also search for that middle ground between pragmatism and idealism, self-defense and aggression. Perhaps there is no middle ground and we encompass them all.

A lesson from comic books is that these are the conditions that create anti-heroes. So says Jessica:
"They say everyone's born a hero. But if you let it, life will push you over the line until you're the villain. Problem is, you don't always know that you've crossed that line.
This is a dark moment in US history. I suspect posterity will be appalled at Trump and his fans - the obsession with "Hillary's emails" while they ignore Russian interference in the election, the misogynistic "lock her up" fantasies, the racist backlash against President Obama, the pussy-grabbing. I mean, where do you even stop the list?

In a dark way, the light that history will shine on the Trump depravity gives me hope. And also, there is always honor in defending ourselves if only because it communicates that we are worth defending.

So, on that note, how is everybody else doing?

*J/k, your regularly-scheduled fan-video Fridays will not be going away.
**White feminism is a thing that should be critiqued, but contrary to some leftist interpretations doesn't actually mean, "White feminists who aren't socialists are all shallow bitches who do nothing but worship Lena Dunham all day."

Thursday, December 15, 2016

The Brave War On Safe Spaces!

Since I see so much regular mocking of safe spaces, trigger warnings, and content notes, would it be helpful to the people for whom such things trigger their cruelty if I added content notes for the fact that some of my post have content notes?


But seriously, people have been mocking content notes and trigger warnings for years. If that's the metric they use to automatically dismiss a person, or their posts, it's their loss. If they have so few actual problems in their lives that content notes and trigger warnings are the hill they want to die on with respect to Internet dialogue, I guess that must be nice for them?

When I see someone mocking safe spaces, and the mechanisms people use to create them, I know I'm dealing with someone who resents other people setting boundaries. Alert Alert Alert! The hot take about them is: OMG liberals/progressives are so ridiculously over-sensitive. But really, imagine a person hating boundary-setting via a simple note at the top of a post so much that they take time out of their life - spending time with loved ones, reading a book, watching a good show - to be a jerk about this topic. (Also related: people who think it's a human rights violation to be blocked or unfriended on social media! The horror!)

It's really indicative, I think, of a larger cultural disdain for boundary-setting.

Have you noticed, for instance, that the mocking of safe spaces and trigger warnings is a favored taunt of the gloating Trump supporter?

As Trump is someone who had admitted on tape to grabbing women's genitals without their consent and ran a campaign promising to strike a blow against that great national threat/terror-of-terrors "political correctness," this War Against Safe Spaces is especially amped up right now.

I think about the dialogue in terms of this favored meme of Trump fans:

The moral equation these folks make is that white bigots having to be "ruled" by a black man is akin to women and people of color having to be "ruled" by a racist sexual predator.  The racists were in pain for 8 years, so now it's your turn! 

Sure, Trump may destroy the economy, re-align the US with Russia, stock his Cabinet with Goldman Sachs elites, send people to die in who knows how many wars, and make most of his fans' lives financially worse off, but hey, the important thing right now is that bigots get to gloat at Clinton supporters and cackle at [content note: ableist slur] "butthurt* libtard tears" for the next four years!

Isn't conquering political correctness via dank meme what's really important in life, once you stop to think about it? The bigots, oppressed by safe spaces, shall truly overcome!

*Why is the adjective often "butthurt" with these people?
**LOL at the meme: "no riots or tantrums." Isn't electing the supremely-unqualified Trump the ultimate in-your-face man-baby tantrum of all time?

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Recap Wednesday: Supergirl 1.9 "Blood Bonds"

This episode begins with Max Lord's company being attacked by Non (shrug, let it burn). Supergirl, Alex, and Hank swoop in to save the company, but Non gets away, taking Hank with him (Noooo, like I said, you should have let it burn!)

Supergirl and Alex then survey the damage to Lord Technologies while Max acts all pissy. He says to Alex, "I think the days of us partnering up are over, Agent Danvers," and walks out of the room. And to that I'm just like, "Yup, they are indeed." Also, I love the look Supergirl gives him in that moment. She is all of us:

Peace out, Gaius Baltar
At the DEO, the "Alex's Ex" agent (who I've just recently learned goes by Vasquez, just Vasquez) let's Supergirl and Alex know that, with Hank gone, emergency orders are in place and Alex is the acting Director of the DEO (Power Lesbian Achievement Unlocked). Astra is still in the DEO bad alien jail, so Supergirl questions her to try to find out where Non took Hank. Astra is still trying to get Supergirl to join her side and help save Earth from environmental destruction (or something?), but Supergirl declines. We then see a flashback where we find out that Supergirl's mother was a judge/dictator (or something? these distinctions no longer matter, do they?) and she was the one who sentenced Astra to Fort Rozz for environmental terrorism.

Okay so maybe I don't "know all the details" here, but the gist seems to be that both Supergirl and her mother chose loyalty to their principles over loyalty to their biological bonds with Astra. Plus, important side note: we also see that Supergirl's biological father is portrayed by Robert Gant (aka, Ben from Queer as Folk, awww).

Mr. Zor-El
At CatCo, Kara is super anxious because Cat knows she's Supergirl. Her goal for the day is to "act normal" so she can convince Cat she's just a regular person. LOL. Never an easy feat for Kara in general, so. Good luck, girl.

On the Hank front, Non has proposed a trade: Astra for Hank. Also, Lucy's father, General Lane, struts into the DEO and informs Alex that he has an executive order from the President to take charge. Blah. Talk about another "walking personification of white male privilege." He also tortures Astra, so I hate him even more now, and he refuses to trade Astra for Hank.

James then goes to Lord Technologies to gather some intel on what Max is up to. He's outside taking pictures when Max comes out and asks him to leave. James responds, "The media doesn't exist to make people like you feel comfortable, Max. Our job is to report the truth." Welp.

Unfortunately, James does some additional snooping and (a) we learn that Max is definitely up to something that involves harming aliens, and (b) Max catches James, puts him in restraints, and beats him up. (Ugh, just when I thought I couldn't dislike Max any more).

Face off
Later, the DEO obtains the coordinates of where Non is supposedly holding Hank. When the DEO gets there, it turns out to be a trick and there's actually a bomb. You know, I used to sometimes wonder what practical purpose Supergirl's cape served. Although I'm not an engineer, I doubt it serves an aerodynamic purpose. After the bomb exploded and Supergirl saved Alex from the blast, I understood it better:

Supergirl then decides to go rogue and defy General Lane's orders. She will trade Astra for Hank, the military orders be damned! Alex helps, because of course she does. Any Alex/Astra shippers in the house? This one's for you:

The trade works and they get Hank back (yay!). Back at the DEO, he reveals to Supergirl that he's actually J'onn J'onzz. Supergirl then convinced J'onn to help her trick Cat into thinking she, as Kara, is not Supergirl. While she's Kara, J'onn shapeshifts into Supergirl, and they both appear before Cat together. And nooo, I want Cat to know about Kara being Supergirl! But alas, the ruse works, apparently.

Deep Thought of the Week: Winn had a mini Xander "crayon-breaky" speech moment this episode that I guess deserves mentioning. Basically, Supergirl was on the verge of hunting down Max Lord after he had hurt James, but Winn stopped her, appealing to her basic humanity and positive moral values. There's a lot to say about the clip I share below, from Buffy, but I'll just leave it at this: Aren't we all Dark Willow now, a little bit?

[Note: In November 2017, CW/Supergirl Executive Producer Andrew Kreisberg was suspended after allegations of sexual harassment.]

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Monday, December 12, 2016

Waiting For His Coronation

So, Donald Trump lost the popular vote by close to 3 million votes, was according to the CIA aided in the election by Russian hackers and Wikileaks, and is planning to throw himself an Inauguration parade and event that advertises itself as "a seamless canvas of harmony, inclusion and democracy."  

Sometimes I wonder how my life might be different had I the gall and confidence of a deplorable, unqualified white man.

Friday, December 9, 2016

That Christina Hoff Sommers Washington Post Piece

Did you catch it?  As she is wont to do, she helpfully advises feminists that if they/we stop being hysterical, then maybe people would listen to us for once.

I'm not linking to her article, but I have some suggested improvements for it. Check out my full post, over at Shakesville.

Flashback Femslash Friday: San Junipero

Okay, this one is a quasi-flashback, I guess.

Has Feminist Internet already talked about the Black Mirror episode "San Junipero"? I'm sure pre-Nov. 8th I had some really deep thoughts about it, but now all I can think is how I want to figure out how to get plugged into San Junipero.

Now that we're in a Buffy-esque hellscape like in "Dopplegangland," the ultimate in escapism seems like one of three viable strategies for enduring the next four years.

(In case you're wondering, the other two options are "channel my inner Vampire Willow" and "stay, resist and fight." I suspect I will do a combo of all three, in reality.)

Anyway, have people watched Black Mirror yet? What do you think?

Talk about this or other stuff!

Thursday, December 8, 2016

On SEK and Academic Blogging

I only knew him as the blogger SEK from Lawyers, Guns, and Money, a blog at which I've long lurked/read, but Scott Eric Kaufman passed away in November.  My sincere condolences to his friends, family, and the readers who came to know him through his writing.

In his tribute post, Paul Campos, also at Lawyers, Guns, and Money, references one of SEK's pieces about blogging from nearly 10 years ago. Because I'm eternally interested in this topic, I thought I'd share it with you. In it, SEK, who had a PhD, writes:
"Over the past three years [blogging], I’ve learned what it’s like to write in a way most academics never have: namely, for an audience. If this seems like a simple point, that’s because it is. Nor is it one of those profoundly simple points, either: it’s straight simple. When a blogger sits down to slave on her dissertation, article, or book, she doesn’t turn her back on the public sphere. Because in the end, the public sphere is us.
I’m talking about the communities we currently have, only five years in the future, when we’re scattered around the country, unable to communicate face-to-face, but still connected, still intellectually intimate, because we’ll still regularly be engaged with each other’s thoughts. But I’m not only talking about us. There’s no reason our community needs to consist solely of people we knew in grad school. Why not write for people who don’t already how you think about everything? Why not force yourself to articulate your points in such a way that strangers could come to know your thought as intimately as your friends from grad school do?"
I have about 50 or so blogs in my Feedly. Some of these are written by academics, by which I suppose I mean people who are adjuncts or who have faculty appointments in higher education. Most, like me, are not.

The academic blogs I most enjoy tend to be those where the writers engage with their blog readerships. I say that while also realizing that some writers may be shy, may be too busy to engage, or there may be too many comments to respond to. I also wonder if, in some cases, there is an assumption that it's the role of the academic to lecture and the readers to listen, with the readers interacting only with each other. That is: an expectation of monologue rather than dialogue.

Whatever the case, I appreciate SEK's point: imagine more academics engaging with wider audiences in, outside of classrooms and academic journals. 

I'm currently re-reading Paulo Freire's Pedagogy of the Oppressed, which I first read circa 2004.  I'm not sure what Freire would have thought about the Internet being used for what he describes. But, in nearly 10 years of blogging I do see people coming together in dialogue to learn to name their oppressive lived experiences. At least, that is, they can do so when those with oppressor/dominator mentalities are excluded from the conversation.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Recap Wednesday: Supergirl 1.8 "Hostile Takeover"

Important episode beginning: Astra is back. Yessss! I can't help it, I like her. Partly because she's a nuanced villain, partly because you know she's the evil twin because of her stripe of white hair like in Gremlins, and partly because in my headcanon she's Alex's "bad girl secret lover."  

Anyway, Astra and her minions are trying to recruit Supergirl into whatever their master plan is, which I'm sure we'll find out about ASAP because what superhero-genre villain can ever keep their master plan a secret? Supergirl, being 100% puppy pureness, is not having any of Astra's nonsense, however.

She's baaack.
Meanwhile at Catco, Cat's emails have been hacked, putting her at risk of public humiliation. So, Cat asks Kara to go through all of her emails ever to flag anything that might be used against her. Of note, Cat also refers to Winn as "that handsome little hobbit who has more cardigans than [Kara does]." Tee-hee.

Anyway, the emails are largely benign, but still somewhat embarrassing since they also weren't meant for public consumption (welp). For instance, in one, she calls CatCo's board chair Dirk, "the walking personification of white male privilege." Which, I trust Cat's take on such matters.

Kara then actually overhears Dirk talking after a meeting and discovers that he's the one responsible for the hack. Winn then hacks into Dirk's files to find evidence of this, and thus slightly redeems himself from last week's nerd-rage meltdown.

At the DEO, we are privy to a Supergirl/Alex sparring session, which is always a nice addition to life in general. During it, Alex questions whether Supergirl has the capacity to kill Astra, her aunt, if needed. We then see a flasback to Krypton that offers insight into some Zor-El family dynamics. It seems that the Krypton was on the verge of environmental destruction. Astra had been a radical environmentalist (or something) and she and her husband Non killed a guard while trying to make a larger point about saving the planet.

Later, Astra and Supergirl have a combat encounter. At one point, Supergirl has the chance to kill her, but she's unwilling to (see above, re: puppy pureness). Instead, she hauls Astra to the DEO bad alien jail. While there, Astra tells Supergirl that she wants to save Earth from environmental destruction and that she wants help. Supergirl is super confused and angsty about all this, so Alex comforts her.

Sisters gotta hug.
Aside from Cat mentoring Kara, the Alex/Kara sister relationship is one of my favorites of the show, as they consistently have each others' backs. Is this rare, to have two women be consistently loyal to each other? This seems rare on TV. 

Later, while going through Cat's emails, it's discovered that Cat has a secret 24-year-old son, Adam, who she didn't raise. In order to shield Adam from media attention, Cat says she's going to resign from CatCo.

*insert my eternal screaming*

Before Cat can resign, James, Winn, and Lucy swoop in to save the day with proof that Dirk was behind the hacked emails, so Cat doesn't have to resign after all! Cat also tells Lucy, who is Lois Lane's sister, "Congratulations, you got the looks." Which, is probably fair, and also causes James to make this face:

Okay, but wait. On the hacked email front, I can suspend my disbelief about a lot, but I love the notion that Dirk would have laid out his master hacking plan while using his CatCo corporate email account and on his CatCo computer. Way to go, dipshit. But then again, what do you expect from "the walking personification of white male privilege"? Dudes think they can get away with anything. (And see what I mean about villains always blabbing about their evil schemes?)

At the DEO, Alex and Hank/J'onn interrogate Astra. I might be imagining some Astra/Alex subtextual eye contact and sexual tension. Perhaps, I might even be over-reacting in order to eradicate the thought of Alex and he-who-shall-not-be-named from my brain. Then again, I might not be.

Speaking of subtext, the episode ends with Cat confronting Supergirl, letting her know that she's on to her superhero secret identity (!!!!).  In my headcanon, this is also the point where Cat says, "And on top of knowing that you're Supergirl, I also know that you want me. I feel the same way. But, if we're going to date, you can no longer work for me, so I'm going to tap into my network of power lesbians to help you get a position with a media firm that doesn't directly compete with CatCo." (Or something, it's not like I've thought about it very much geeez).

Anyway, Cat points to the all the times Kara has come to her rescue and how, basically, Supergirl and Kara have never been in the same room together. Cat asks Kara to take off her glasses, which Kara does, and ... it's marvelous. Marvelous, I tell you.

"To me, you are perfect"

I found this scene reminiscent of the old Christopher Reeve movie Superman II, where Lois Lane confronted Clark Kent about possibly being Superman. She tested him by "falling" over a railing at Niagara Falls, and Clark saved her (albeit without using his powers) and then they made sweet sweet love in the hotel room. In Supergirl, I want for Cat to jump over the balcony, Kara to save her, and then for them to go back into Cat's room for a proper nightcap.

Is that too much to ask? I think not. Now good day to you. I SAID GOOD DAY.

Deep Thought of the Week: Okay, the plot of a jerky dude hacking into a competent female leader's emails to try to bring her down is too much for me to bear in my pop culture right now. SO my afterlude this week is to watch this Cat/Kara fan vid, set to the song "Titanium."

 [Note: In November 2017, CW/Supergirl Executive Producer Andrew Kreisberg was suspended after allegations of sexual harassment.]

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Quote of the Year: On Human Ugliness

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie gets it, a sample from her New Yorker piece:
"Now is the time to resist the slightest extension in the boundaries of what is right and just. Now is the time to speak up and to wear as a badge of honor the opprobrium of bigots. Now is the time to confront the weak core at the heart of America’s addiction to optimism; it allows too little room for resilience, and too much for fragility. Hazy visions of 'healing' and 'not becoming the hate we hate' sound dangerously like appeasement. The responsibility to forge unity belongs not to the denigrated but to the denigrators. The premise for empathy has to be equal humanity; it is an injustice to demand that the maligned identify with those who question their humanity."
She ends by noting that ugly ideas, gone unchallenged, start to "turn the color of normal."

Human cruelty has existed forever. But, I think about this quote, ugly ideas "turn[ing] the color of normal," and wonder how the Internet might have changed cruelty, or at least given us another avenue for the widespread expression of it.

[content note: ableism, bullying]

As an exercise in empathy (or something) a couple of weeks ago, I tried my hand at civil dialogue with a Trump supporter who was all over the place expressing glee that "Killary" was going to prison. Within minutes, without provocation, he began gloating about my "libtard tears."

I think of our soon-to-be Internet-Bully-In-Chief. I think of how cruelty and the expression of it on the Internet are perhaps enabled by (even well-intentioned) utterances of "don't feed the trolls."

And so the comments, full of human ugliness, sit there unchallenged, with other humans indifferent to it, hurt by it, enabled by it, accustomed to it, emboldened by it.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Dear The Left

[Content Note: Bigotry, Privilege]

First they came for the trans people, and we said, "America is sick and tired of hearing about liberals’ damn bathrooms."

Wait, no. That's not right, is it?

Do you have as many thoughts as I do about the various white-male-authored think pieces about how identity politics and political correctness have supposedly alienated "ordinary white people," causing Hillary Clinton to lose the 2016 election? Of course you do.

Welp, head on over to Shakesville to read the full piece.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Friday Crush: Cate Blanchett's Tribute

So, Cate Blanchett read a tribute to Amy Adams at the IFP Gotham Awards.

Take a brief moment today, if you will, and imagine Cate Blanchett, Cate Blanchett who is also a master in this profession, observing you at your job and then rendering such a compliment, below of which is only a snippet:
"I marvel at Amy's indefatigable curiosity, as a performer. It's the best listening/acting in the business by a country mile. And I don't know how she does it. But Amy appears sort of porous on the screen, not just inhabiting emotional states, but allow them to pull and unfold, a little like patches around her. It's almost as if she vibrates at a different intensity and wavelength for each performance, at a different wavelength from the rest of us. Without wobbling. And she can be so still, and contain so much, that it feels like she might just explode. She makes the ordinary extraordinary, with exquisite observation and detail. Her characters are profoundly accessible on screen, wide, wide open doors to allow the audience in, yet she has this uncanny parallel ability to realize people who hold a secret, and often from themselves, so they're full of mystery and magnetism."
Whoa. Flung out of space.

Meanwhile, I'm over here like, "I barely even know what to order for lunch."

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Election 2016 Fallout Part 9: On Resistance

Hi readers! I'm delighted to let you know that I have joined Shakesville as a new contributor.

(ps - I'll continue to write here in Fannie's Room, so don't worry the Xena posts aren't going anywhere!!)

Shakesville has been such an important resource both to my development as a progressive feminist over the years and during this past election. I'm so grateful to Melissa (and the contributor community) for welcoming me.

For my first post there, I am starting with the final installment of my Election 2016 Fallout pieces. This one is on the topic of resistance. You can read the whole thing at Shakesville, but here's a snippet:
On resistance

In my eyes, the quest to defeat Trump and what he stands for has already begun. Inherent in this struggle is survival. As some in the media ask us to collectively fixate on the navels of angry white people, especially men, I think back to those early Trump rallies when the press would show security escorting anti-Trump protestors out. Trump would encourage violence against them and you could see it on the screen, his supporters cackling with glee in the background.  "I'd really like to punch that guy," Trump would boast, while thousands of white faces laughed at their hateful avatar.

The part of me concerned with self-preservation tells me that these people laughed because Trump was acting out their violent fantasies, particularly against the politically correct, over whom Trump's win has become a symbolic victory.

I do not expect that people entertained by Trump's calls to violence will now be nicer to us with Trump in charge. No. They knew exactly what Trump is. It was part of his appeal. "We know what we're getting," they'd say. "He tells it like it is. That's why we love him." And so, on that basis, here is what I believe, via Liel Leibovitz:
"You should treat people like adults, which means respecting them enough to demand that they understand the consequences of their actions. Explaining away or excusing the actions of others isn’t your job. Vienna in the first decades of the 20th century was a city inflamed with a desire to better understand the motives, hidden or otherwise, that move people to action. Freud and Kafka, Elias Canetti and Karl Kraus, Stefan Zweig and Franz Werfel—these were the eminences who crowded the same caf├ęs Siegfried and his musician friends most likely frequented. But while these beautiful minds struggled to understand the world around them, the world around them was consumed by simpler and more vicious appetites. Don’t waste any time, then, trying to understand: Then as now, many were amused by the demagogue and moved by his vile vision. Some have perfectly reasonable explanations for their decisions, while others have little to go on but incoherent rage. It doesn’t matter. Voters are all adults, and all have made their choices, and it is now you who must brace for impact. Whether you choose to forgive those, friends and strangers alike, who cast their votes so deplorably is a matter of personal choice, and none but the most imperious among us would advocate a categorical rejection of millions based on their electoral actions, no matter how irresponsible and dim. So while you make these personal calculations, remember that what matters now isn’t analysis: It’s survival."
Keep reading here.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Recap Wednesday: Supergirl 1.7 "Human for a Day"

Welp, true to its name, this episode begins with Supergirl having lost her powers due to the intense energy she spent fighting Red Tornado. Rest assured, she will gain her powers back once she absorbs sufficient radiation from the sun.

Humangirl promptly catches her first cold and then goes to CatCo with it. Two things: It's awful that so many workplaces have such shitty time-off policies that people often go to work sick and it's also awful being in workplaces being near people who have contagious colds/flu. Cat concurs, this is her upon hearing Kara's sniffles:

"You're sick? But that means we can't make out later."

Later, an earthquake strikes while Kara is walking down the street with James. Kara falls, "breaking her arm." Kara's "injury" results in James stripping off his shirt and making a sling for her. Scare quotes intended because it is in the realm of possibility that the arm thing was a ploy to get James to take his shirt off. Just kidding, her arm is probably broken. But still:

Kara and James make their way back to CatCo and, lo and behold, the world's second-most-egotistical man in the world, Max Lord, is on screen yammering about Supergirl being "the world's most unreliable hero" for not helping with the earthquake recovery. Here is my screenshot of him:
*fart noise*
Cat agrees with my analysis. Of particular note, she also calls Supergirl "my girl' not once but twice during this scene. She is also not having Max's public denigration of Supergirl. And, before she can take off her shirt, Cat Grant is on a mission to restore Supergirl's image.

Meanwhile, the DEO is on lockdown. An alien named Jem(?) got loose during the earthquake. Hank goes off with two other agents to try to track him down while Alex observes from a monitor. There is an encounter and some vague scuffling, but Alex loses visual with Hank. It's all very suspicious when he comes back minus the two other agents.

Alex is already suspicious of Hank because he hasn't been honest about serving in the DEO with her father. So, when Hank leaves again to track down Jem, she follows him against his orders. When she finds Hank, she pulls a gun on him and has him handcuff himself to the wall while she goes after Jem. And, you know I adore Alex, but I just want to put it out there that she could have maybe handled her distrust of Hank at a more opportune time. Like when there wasn't an awful mind-controlling alien on the loose:

This seems.... fine?
Anyway, Kara and James come across an injured man while walking around National City. Because she doesn't have her powers, she's unable to save him. She's devastated, and James tells her, "No hero can save everyone. But a hero never stops trying." And, I just want to add that I really have come to like James and I hope he and Clark Kent (or Lucy Lane, but probs Clark) can live happily ever after one day.

Kara and James then see some men break into a convenience store and start looting. Even though she still doesn't have her powers back, Kara changes into her Supergirl outfit to try to stop the crime. Her approach will be to use Reverse Imposter Syndrome, I guess? If you wear the superhero outfit and people think you're a superhero, you can get away with anything? (This is also called "privilege," maybe?)

Cat believes in her girl.
Simultaneously, Cat is giving a live on-air monologue intended to counter Max Lord's negativity. Her message is that while it's true that Supergirl hasn't been helping with the earthquake recovery, we should listen to Supergirl's call to "heed our better angels." Cat further says she has confidence that Supergirl will return when we need her most (sigh, if only) and until then we should work together. (sigh, Stronger.... Together). On screen, we see Supergirl talking down the robber, ultimately getting him to hand over his gun.

Here I'll add that someone should make an app of Cat Grant giving us wise, tough love, and uplifting speeches as we go about our daily lives, inspiring us to perform feats of courage.

Speaking of speeches, Winn has a Xander moment and gives Kara a pissy little lecture about how she'll never have a normal romantic life, so she shouldn't go after James. He had walked in on Kara and James hugging (literally just platonically hugging) and he had a nerd-rage meltdown about it. (Unduly harsh of me? Read THIS re: white male nerds in film.)

Moving on to more pleasant topics, Supergirl's powers come back and she starts saving people all over the city. Because that's what she does.

AND ALSO, we learn Hank's big secret. He reveals to Alex that he's not actually Hank Henshaw, but a Martian shape-shifter named J'onn J'onzz (it deserves bold text, because of the way he says it). The reveal is oh-so-dramatic and wonderful and I love him. He seems so proud of his real identity and I feel sad that he has to hide it.

J'onn J'onzz
Hank/J'onn had apparently made a promise to Alex's father, before he died, that he would watch over Alex. That's the reason he recruited her into the DEO (she gets to stay because she's a badass though). Love love love this plot twist.

Deep Thought of the Week: So, say you're Supergirl or Superman. You have extraordinary powers compared to everyone else. What exactly is the process like where you learn to regulate your strength? Are your first interactions with physical objects on Earth a Goldilocks Scenario where you're constantly breaking Baby Bear's stuff? And is it so annoying to your adoptive family?

How many people do you hurt? Do you always have x-ray vision or do you have to concentrate in a special way to use it? Do you tell people if you see tumors?  If you get road rage, do you "accidentally" laser people into piles of dust?

What I am saying is that I would watch the hell out of an episode of nothing but super-power mishaps happening.

 [Note: In November 2017, CW/Supergirl Executive Producer Andrew Kreisberg was suspended after allegations of sexual harassment.]

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Election 2016 Fallout Part 8: On Internet Culture and Privacy

(8) On Internet Culture and Privacy.

Today I consider how Trump's Electoral College win was a victory for the very worst of Internet Culture.

First, we have the man's social media presence itself. He was (is) notorious for taking to Twitter at all hours to peck out insults, demeaning nicknames he's bestowed upon people, and counter-attacks to any real or perceived slight against his eggshell-thin ego.

About a year ago, The New York Times ran a profile of how Trump had "mastered" Twitter. Twitter was (is) the means by which he tapped into many people's basest, cruelest selves, as the Internet is wont to do. Through the expression of aggression, braggadocio, and misinformation, he constantly made (makes) headlines.

People who've been in contact with Trump suggest that he craves attention. And, a characteristic of retweets and Twitter trends is that they are attention, no matter whether people are agreeing or not (He grabs them by the what? Wait, now David Duke is applauding him? Wait, what happened at Hamilton?). In fact, it's almost better for Trump if something is "controversial." Clickbait, as we know, pays in Internetland (both financially, to the media that support it - and to Trump's hunger for attention). What seems to matter to Trump is that Trump never stops trending.

We have to develop better strategies for covering Trump in the Internet age.

His Twitter feed, especially during the election, was a constant stream of content for us to be outraged by, distracting from the previous outrage of five minutes ago, so nobody seemed to notice that he is never, ultimately, held accountable. We stay in a constant state of outrage, with no relief.

Trump is not one to apologize, even in that mealy-mouthed non-apology way that's so common for deplorables. In true "alpha" form, at least as the "manosphere" understands these things, he doesn't correct misstatements. He flounces from one outrage to the next, and the press (and his followers) follow him because everything's about his ego and displays of dominance.

That needs to stop. We, and people with platforms in the media especially, need to disrupt the outrage-outrage-outrage cycle.  I'm not sure how, but awareness seems to be a critical component here, because it seems many people are lacking even that.

Example strategy I use in blogging: From time to time, a Trump-like commenter will venture here to engage in outrage-outrage-outrage agendas of their own. One time many years ago, an anti-gay man was promoting at his own blog false anti-gay propaganda published by a hate group. He then began commenting here. So, I wrote a blog post (probably too earnestly, given who I was dealing with) addressing the falsehoods in the propaganda piece and invited him to address my commentary. He never did.

I then articulated a specific condition for him: If he wanted our conversations to continue at my blog, he had to first answer for his complicity in spreading anti-gay propaganda.  Instead of doing so, he kept trying to comment here, jumping from one outrageous anti-gay tirade to another, hoping I'd be so offended-distracted that I wouldn't notice he was violating a boundary I had set for him and hoping people wouldn't notice that he never answered for his role in spreading anti-gay propaganda. (I didn't ban him. When I set the boundary and he violated it, I would simply delete his comments that didn't address the propaganda. He eventually slunk away.)

Trump needs to be treated in a similar way, I think, however the fuck we do that to a President.

Who or what will be the voice that repeatedly says, "Wait, let's back up to this pussy-grabbing, shall we?" or "Please clarify this Muslim registry plan." A major media outlet or website should keep a tally of his lies and offenses, as well as what, if anything, he has done to apologize or atone for them. We cannot stay in this cycle of escalating, continual outrage.

Secondly, on the misinformation front, a Buzzfeed analysis showed that fake news generated more engagement on Facebook than did news from mainstream sources. And, look, I get it. We're in "anti-Establishment" times. People distrust the mainstream press, and often for legitimate reasons. When that happens, they turn to alternate sources, no matter their political beliefs. People get "had" by both conservative- and left-leaning articles.

Here are my strategies for dealing with this issue (which Facebook claims to be addressing): (a) If I notice someone posting fake news, I will let them know (sometimes with a link to Snopes, if available); (b) I check Snopes or Politifact; (c) I check other news sources by doing a "Google News" search for the topic at hand; and (d) if I'm reading what is clearly clickbait (and you can often tell from the title and/or content) I don't share it, because sharing monetizes it.  As Internet users, many of us can take active roles in confronting fake news and propaganda when we see it in our social networks.

Third, we saw the proliferation of white nationalist, racist, xenophobic, anti-feminist, and misogynistic online communities, serving as outlets for white male aggrievement regarding their perceived loss of status in a "PC world gone mad." Now commonly (euphemistically) called the "alt-right," Echidne (are you reading her? you should) documents the alternate set of "facts" under which denizens of these forums operate.

One of the alt-right's leaders, Steve Bannon, is a right-hand man to Trump. I will discuss this in a forthcoming post, but remember: many of these misogynistic white supremacists do not live the same reality as liberals and progressives and they are beholden to no rules of civility that are purported to exist in civil society. When they go low and we go high, they count on that and exploit it.

They harass and threaten women and minorities online. They "troll for the lulz." They largely aren't ashamed if they're called bigots, even if their "cuck" allies might be. They'll leave flaming piles of dog shit in your comment sections and, if you ban them, call you a liberal coward who "can't handle dissenting views."

These are also, likely, people who seem "normal" in their everyday lives. They wear the Internet like a white robe to spread hatred, intimidation, and threats of violence toward women and minorities. These are the people who are now even more emboldened. Be aware of who and what we're dealing with and give them your "empathy" with caution. Their goal is rarely, if ever, civil debate with us, even if they fake it at first. Most often, the goal is dominance posturing through harassment and intimidation.

But also know this: the weak point, like Trump's, are their delicate egos. In the way that Trump will pick Twitter fights with Rosie O'Donnell instead of domestic and international terrorists, know that "Social Justice Warriors" get under their thin skin like almost nothing else, precisely because we seek to marginalize their views as unacceptable in society.

Lastly, Wikileaks. In acts also cheered on and condoned by some on the left and right, we learned via hacked and shared non-public emails that Hillary Clinton likes The Good Wife and creme brulee. I hope that learning this information was worth the erosion of public/private boundaries.

Curiously, thousands of non-public Trump emails did not surface and were not posted. Which, seems fine. He seems like he'd have super good judgment about email security and also like he's really easy to work with, so I'm sure nothing embarrassing would have surfaced anyway.

On a serious note, going forward, I guess we will see for whom this standard for such invasions of privacy applies with Trump in charge. Perhaps the security of his private information will be safe. At least until he pisses off the wrong hacktivist.

Perhaps his seeming-ally Assange will provide a check on Trump's power, should he abuse it. That is, if we trust that Wikileaks is actually a non-partisan group. Which I don't.

What I think more likely is that it will primarily be Trump's political opponents and unempowered, marginalized folks who experience an increase in invasions of privacy.

AND ALSO, IS IT WEIRD THAT THE HACKED EMAILS AND WIKILEAKS INVOLVEMENT IN OUR ELECTION ARE NOT BIGGER STORIES?  The media wrote 50,000 articles a day about the security of Hillary Clinton's emails so I thought they were super interested in the topic of information security BUT I GUESS I WAS WRONG.

(See above, re: cycle of outrage)

Monday, November 28, 2016

Election 2016 Fallout Part 7: On the Non-Pragmatic Left

(7) On the "non-pragmatic" left.

First things first, this post was originally going to be about what I was calling "the far left." But, I'm not sure the people I'm talking about are actually more "left" or more progressive than Clinton supporters. Then, in light of the various rounds of "Hillary Clinton's pandering to identity politics lost her the election" think pieces, I was going to call them "the non-identity left," but of course that movement, too, is about identity, even if invisibly so (implicitly white, male, cis, hetero).

After more thought, the group I think I'm more accurately talking about is the non-pragmatic left. That is, people who do not seem to comprehend that in reality:
(a) people enter into positions of power while inheriting a set of circumstances that they usually are not responsible for creating - such as foreign entanglements, human rights crises, budget deficits -  but nonetheless must respond to; and
(b) being in a position of power necessarily means making some decisions that will hurt people and, yes, perhaps even lead to some people's deaths no matter what decision is ultimately made.
In the real world, one cannot simply say, "Wait, I don't like these circumstances or possible outcomes so I'm just going to go back to a previous save point and do things differently so I arrive at a different present set of circumstances so I can make a decision that corresponds with my political purity test."

Example from pop culture: In the re-imagined mini-series Battlestar Galactica, Laura Roslin is faced with an immediate moral dilemma soon after she is sworn in as President.  Various human survivors are floating around in spaceships after the Cylons launched a massive surprise attack. The Cylons have found the human fleet and could very well wipe them out with their superior technology. Only some of the human ships have technology that would allow them to flee, and the human military doesn't have the capacity to defend all of the human ships. Nor can the ships with better technology take on and support all the people from the older ships.

And so, Roslin is presented with the choice: Does she order all of the human ships to stay and fight together, possibly resulting in all of the remaining humans dying? Or, does she order the ships capable of leaving to do so, while leaving the other ships behind?

Neither option is "perfect." They both actually suck. People will die either way and people could also have valid critiques no matter which option is chosen. That's the tragedy inherent in the situation. There's no ideal outcome. When history gets re-told on the BSG equivalent of Fox News or US Uncut, Roslin could come out looking like a heartless monster either way (unless she were a white nationalist, then she'd be called "dapper." Ha ha, fuck you very much): "Reckless Roslin decides to stay, mass casualties ensue!" or "Cowardly Laura flees, innocents die!"

I think we must always render valid critiques of political leaders' choices when merited. But, I say that with the recognition that political leaders are oftentimes, in the real world, faced with "no good solution" problems.

With this recognition, it is evident to me how a long history of public service can, with framing, become a massive liability in our political climate. Anti-establishment sentiments run high, and I'm not sure this sentiment is particularly new or unique to our times. Perhaps every generation needs to see for itself that being "an outsider" (ha!) doesn't render leaders capable of contriving perfect solutions to problems that have no perfect solutions.

I'm not claiming Clinton should not ever be validly critiqued or that every situation she was in was as tragic as the one President Roslin experienced. (And, I'm realllllly not here to re-litigate all the Clinton conspiracies and grievances.) My larger points are that situations are usually more complicated than people give leaders credit for and the vast majority of us are operating from an information deficit about the full range of facts anyway.

And, in case this post sounds particularly harsh to people I might be naturally allied with otherwise, here too is a larger context.

During the past 18 months, I've probably blocked more Bernie Sanders supporters than Trump supporters on Twitter. I've been called a "Hillbot." A "shill." I was called "salty af" for critiquing Sanders' Pope-visit during the Democratic Primary. Because it's really cool how some on the far left can overlook how the Pope is the leader of one of the most sexist, anti-trans, anti-gay Establishments in the world, but could forgive Hillary Clinton for literally nothing.

I've had teenage Bernie fans practically cry in rage-disbelief at me, "But how could you support HER?" taking it for granted that Bernie is 100% a saint and Hillary is 100% corrupt. Many seemed ignorant of decades of unfair smears against her. I've been told I was condescending for expressing fear that third party voters would serve as spoilers this year, as in 2000, when I discussed my regrettable Ralph Nader vote.

Over the months, I had run-ins with people on the far left who wanted to see Trump defeated but who wouldn't support Hillary Clinton, the only person with a realistic chance to do so. I watched in disbelief as even some major feminist sites played the "both sides are just as bad" game or refused to take sides. Someone at a popular feminist site even took Clinton's win for granted, predicting that fifty years from now, "We’ll hang our heads and think, 'we were there when' we elected a candidate who killed thousands, and called her a feminist to boot."

Jill Stein and Susan Sarandon suggested that Clinton would actually be worse than Trump.

And.... here we fucking are.

Melissa Batchelor Warnke recently noted in the LA Times:
"I am deeply sorry that Hillary Clinton lost. The left made many mistakes; among them was not having the gall to stand up to the far left. The far left was so rigid in its orthodoxy that it repeatedly punished those trying to strategize about electing the Democratic candidate with self-serving accusations that those who disagreed with their tactics were racists, sexists or sellouts. We let the left of the left have its way.

And the far left wanted to be morally superior more than it wanted to stop Donald Trump."
She further writes that "lefty politics" have become a "claustrophobic minefield." And, it's hard for me to disagree, being in the blogging game for about 10 years.

For instance, I've seen this happen too many times to count: a popular feminist makes a mistake on Twitter or in pop culture or in a blogpost and, instead of just critiquing her, it's like BAM we have a half dozen lefty articles saying "ugh, aren't we all so done with her?" and then.... whether or not you're "done" with her becomes a lefty purity test/virtue pose.

I can't. I just fucking can't.

Forget having empathy or compassion for bigots and conservatives. We don't even have it for each other on the left, let alone for a flawed woman like Hillary Clinton who worked her fucking ass off her entire life and who had the temerity to run for President while not being a politically-pure snowflake. I don't even exonerate myself from this compassion-lacking group, because goddamn, this shit is hard and frustrating.

I mean, it pisses me right off that, heavens to Betsy, the thought of dirtying one's pristine hands by voting for a competent woman who who had made mistakes, over a garbage nightmare candidate gave some on the left too bad a case of the ickies. It's not just that some people couldn't privately vote for Clinton, they had to not vote for her and then virtue pose about it all over social media. Or, they wrote in Bernie. Voted 3rd Party. Didn't vote at all. Voted for a giant meteor strike to kill us all instead (ha ha, fuck you).

Like, if there was ever a time for the left to unite..... this was it, folks! But no.

Now, many of these same leftists seem to be largely horrified. They're "in shock." Some didn't actually vote for Clinton but now want the Electoral College to make Clinton President because ... ummmm?

It's also said that the perfect is the enemy of the good. I believe that, but by the gods you will never convince me that either Bernie Sanders or Jill Stein were ever "the perfect" in this conversation. And even if they had never made mistakes in their immaculate lives, had they become President they too would have been confronted with difficult choices and would then likely be lambasted by non-pragmatists for being "sell-outs," as well.

Politics is compromise, politics is compromise, politics is fucking hard-ass compromise.  We can and should debate all day about what should be compromised, but to ever get anything accomplished we have to compromise.

Non-pragmatists critique those of us who acknowledge the role of compromise in politics and vote for the "lesser evil." They decry what "lesser evilism politics" have wrought. What these people overlook is that every politician ever will always be "a lesser evil" because, NEWSFLASH, no human is perfect and, repeat after me, politics. is. compromise.

What I can say is that the non-pragmatic left will likely now get none of what they wanted instead of some of what they wanted. So, that was productive.

CORRECTION. They will get two things they wanted: a complete unwillingness to compromise and extremism. So, there's your fuckin' silver lining.

My preferred method of virtue posturing

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving and Blog Note

Hi all.

Blog readership is usually pretty light around Thanksgiving, so I'll resume the Election Fallout and Supergirl posts next Monday.

If you celebrate Thanksgiving, have a good one. If you're traveling, stay safe. And if you have to be around Trump-supporting family members, best wishes in navigating.... that.

For now, I am thankful that I found a Xena fan video set to Rihanna's "Te Amo."

By the way, has anyone ever counted how many hot tubs scenes are in the Xena series? I'm betting about 13. And also, I may or may not have watched the episode "Heart of Darkness," prominently featured in this vid, eleventymillion times.