Friday, January 29, 2016

Femslash Friday: Taystee/Poussey*

Poussey (Samira Wiley) and Taystee (Danielle Brooks), together, are legit everything on Orange is the New Black (OITNB).  

Now, realize what this means, for a lesbian to say about a show on which Ruby Rose is also a recurring cast member. Poussey is a butch lesbian, which as discussed last week, is super rare (and super hot) in TV/film. They are, together, funny, witty, and (mostly) sweet. At times, their relationship and their individual stories are completely and utterly heartbreaking. Like, Poussey watching Taystee leave prison, from the window.  My heart.

And, rather than either character playing Sassy Black BFF to a white protagonist, they get to be BFFS with each other!  Is there a Bechdel Test for race? Of course there is.

(Although, of course, we all know they're totes girlfriends):

Why Mackenzie, I do so love this ship.

*Couldn't resist. Sorry not sorry.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

A Conversation About X-Files Inequality, As Represented in Fanfic Format

So yeah, people who love Mulder may want to skip this one.

I recently had an actual man, one who admitted he had never seen X Files, suggest to me that David Duchovny is a bigger draw than Gillian Anderson, and that's why he was/should be paid more than her. This convo was in response to the recent Daily Beast article in which Anderson discussed being paid less than Duchovny.

What do you do about such an extreme instance of clueless mansplaining, really, except drink vodka straight from the dog bowl and start writing revisionist fanfic about it?


Scully: [entering Mulder's office at the FBI] Mulder, did you know you've been making twice my salary? [On his desk, she slams down an internal memo] This was just leaked to me by Jones.

Mulder: What? [kicks feet off desk, leans forward to look at memo]

Scully: Apparently, you've been paid twice my salary since we've been working together.

Mulder: [frowning] Who's Jones?

Scully: That woman, you know, in IT?

Mulder: Never heard of her. [Shrugs]

Scully: Come to think of it, I've never actually interacted with her, or any other woman here, either.  She just put this memo in my mailbox.

Mulder: ....Wonder if she's cute.

Scully: [rolls eyes] Do you have anything to say about this?

Mulder: Now, Scully. [putting up hands] You know I'm the biggest advocate for equality and civil rights-

Scully: I sense a "but" coming-

Mulder: But, have you considered that I might be more talented than you?

Scully: I have. And you're not.

Mulder: Well, did you try negotiating for higher pay, then?

Scully: I did. And I have equal pay now. But, I didn't know what you made until the leak. Seems kind of unfair, doesn't it?

Mulder: Scully, are you suggesting that the FBI willfully participated in a campaign of inequality against women?

Scully: Well. Yes.

Mulder: [laughs, shakes his head, pops some sunflower seeds into his mouth]

Scully: So, let's get this straight. There are extraterrestrial worms that can induce people to kill each other?

Mulder: [nods]

Scully: And glow-in-the-dark prehistoric mites which suck humans dry?

Mulder: That's right.

Scully: And you believe in pyrokinetics, telekinesis, and clairvoyance.

Mulder: Yes.

Scully: But believing me when I tell you I've experienced discrimination is too much of a stretch?

Mulder: The truth is out there, Scully. You just have to take an objective step back.

Scully: Well then. I suppose this is as good a time as any to let you know that today I requested and received a promotion into the Fringe Division. When my new partner, Agent Olivia Dunham, swings by to pick me up later, I'll introduce you on our way out.

Mulder:..... Is she cute?

Scully: Yes, actually. [winks, exits Mulder's office]


Anyway, in real life, I think my favorite part of interacting with my male acquaintance was his admission that he has literally zero, zilch, goose egg knowledge of the show in question. But still, still, he suggested, because it is a woman he was speaking to, that I had not considered the scenario from all possible, objective angles.

In any event, I assure you I responded to this guy with the utmost sincerity, civility, and reason in the moment, but because I'm speaking with you all, I'll just say this for now: fucking mansplainers.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

TV Series Signal Boost: Her Story

Are people watching Her Story? You should be watching Her Story.

You can watch the first 6 episodes (and hopefully more later!) here, on Youtube. It's a series that "looks inside the dating lives of trans & queer women as they navigate the intersections of desire & identity."

The focus of the series is primarily on Violet (Jen Richards) and Paige (Angelica Ross). Violet is a trans woman who is coming to terms with her attraction to women, and in particular, her attraction to a lesbian reporter whom she has befriended.

I'm a fan of the presentation of the trans/cis female same-sex relationship because (a) such a portrayal is so rare in TV/film; (b) it doesn't shy away from acknowledging transphobia within lesbian/bisexual women's communities; (c) it explores why a trans woman might be hesitant to enter into such a relationship; and (c) did I mention Violet is completely adorable? She is. She is completely adorable. I would watch Game of Thrones with her all the Sundays.

Paige, meanwhile, is a heterosexual trans woman who is getting back into dating. She struggles with when/how to tell the man she's dating about her identity, and she's also an attorney for Lambda Legal. I love her character and, well, here's a good summation of her, below. In this clip, she confronts a transphobic lesbian, and it is kind of amazing (content note: transphobia):


Take my advice: binge-watch ASAP.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The seXism Files

Just another day in a woman who is equally or more competent than her male counterpart being offered half his pay.

Via The Daily Beast, Gillian Anderson makes some interesting revelations about her experience on The X Files:
"...[W]hile Scully asserted her authority at every turn, Anderson found herself fighting just to stand on (literal) equal ground with her male co-star. The studio initially required Anderson to stand a few feet behind her male partner on camera, careful never to step side-by-side with him. And it took three years before Anderson finally closed the wage gap between her pay and Duchovny’s, having become fed up with accepting less than 'equal pay for equal work.'
'I can only imagine that at the beginning, they wanted me to be the sidekick,' Anderson says of Fox’s curious no-equal-footing rule. 'Or that, somehow, maybe it was enough of a change just to see a woman having this kind of intellectual repartee with a man on camera, and surely the audience couldn’t deal with actually seeing them walk side by side!'”
Emphasis added because oh hail no what the ever-loving fuck?!

The Scully/Mulder dynamic worked because the two characters were, in many ways, complementary to one another. Duchovny, in my opinion, could not have carried X Files on his own - and, part and parcel of the show's popularity was the presence that Anderson in particular brought to Scully.

Scully was emphatically not, as her unequal pay would imply, Mulder's Little Helper.  Nor was Mulder by himself the main protagonist.

But then, it seems, the unequal pay shit just happened again, this time in relation to this year's reboot:
"The work Anderson put into securing equal pay back in the ’90s seemingly came undone when it came time to negotiate pay for this year’s event series. Once again, Anderson was being offered “half” of what they would pay Duchovny."
Reportedly, Anderson and Duchovny ended up taking home equal pay. But, still with respect to the offer, what do you even say, really?

I want to believe that Hollywood doesn't have a gender problem, but alas. In the year 20fucking16, it is well-established, at least among fandom, that Anderson/Scully is as much part of The X Files franchise as Duchovny/Mulder, and we still have studio execs who think they can get away with paying talented women less than their male counterparts - because they can often still get away with it.

Hollywood, get your fucking shit together.

And also, while you're at it, how about let Scully interact with other women sometimes. You know, since she basically interacted with three women ever over the course of 9 seasons.  #BechdelFail

Friday, January 22, 2016

It Is a Little-Known Fact

That, while Xena and Gabrielle are endgame, Aphrodite did have a bit of a crush on Gabrielle.

It is easy to miss this one over the course of 6 seasons, especially as some people could barely even admit the obvious Xena/Gabrielle relationship.  However, I did not miss it, and apparently neither did the fan who made the video below.

In fact, don't tell the warrior princess, but it's likely that an actual affair happened at some point between the Goddess of Love and the Queen of the Amazons (and how could it not, when you think about it?)

Just putting that out there:

Did you know that next month is Femslash February*?

(Here in Fannie's Room, every month is femslash month).

Will anyone be creating, consuming, or celebrating appropriately?

*How the fuck does tumblr even work?

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Transparent - Beyond the Supreme Court Test Plaintiffs

Are people watching Transparent?

I largely enjoyed Season 2, in particular.  I am also aware of, and sympathetic to, critiques within the trans community regarding the casting of cis male actor Jeffrey Tambor as Maura, a trans woman - and of trans stories in general not being told by trans people.

Perhaps to her credit, creator Jill Soloway has publicly discussed her hiring of trans actors, consultants, and at least one trans writer to help with the production of the show. Is that enough? I'd say that's not my call, as a cis person.

Today I want to highlight the less-frequently discussed character, Tammy (Melora Hardin).


Tammy is, to me, hot.  Like, HAF*.

*(I recently learned that's what the kids are saying for "hot as fuck." I also say fuck on this blog now on the regular, apparently.)

Lesbian and bisexual women's portrayal in TV and film is increasing, but butch women, butch queer women, being portrayed is still incredibly rare. It's as though queer women can be depicted, but they can't actually look like how many queer women actually look in real life.

Which, I guess is sort of an ongoing general rule for women in TV/film in general, yeah?

Men, I would argue moreso than women, can be fat, ugly, bald, frumpy, and old and still get acting roles - as they should! Women, however, have to constantly worry about their, in Amy Schumer's words, Last Fuckable Day - the day when the media decides that an actress is no longer believably "fuckable." So, like a woman reaches the age of 40 and from then on she's only fit for roles where she's, say, Tom Hanks' mom.

I would extend that further and note that even for women portraying queer characters, these characters often have to meet the standards of what's commonly thought of as the Hetero Male Gaze. Even The L Word, which was entirely about lesbian and bisexual women, showed approximately 3 butch women ever over the course of 5 seasons. (That might be an exaggeration. Was Shane butch? Debatable).

And, as a lesbian myself, I find many women appealing who do fall into those conventional beauty standards - but, my standards are also much broader.  I like women, like Tammy, who swagger.  I like women who give no fucks about whether men think they're nice, cool, or hot. I like women who are over 40 and are still portrayed as sexual beings. I find many women attractive who are, by media standards, fat (or who call themselves fat).

I like women are stereotypically feminine, androgynous, and yes, I like women who are butch.

So, back to Tammy. She is, in many ways, a mess. She's at times an asshole and, in Season 2, has a cringe-worthy public meltdown. (there, there, Tammy, there, there......sigh.....I'm sorry, what were we talking about?)

Oh yeah, but at the same time, isn't basically every character on Transparent a mess in their own unique way?

Some (ahem, Rod Dreher) who maybe have never seen the show, perhaps fantasize that Transparent is a propagandistic promotion of gender and sexual nonconformity that presents deviance as both desirable and superior than conventionality.

(which it is, obvs)

BUT, the power of Transparent, to me, is not that it depicts fantastical versions of people outside the norm. For one, it doesn't.  On the contrary, I feel drawn to the characters because they are imperfect, because they make bad decisions, and because they act jerky sometimes.  And, they're allowed to, even though they're queer, trans, and gender-nonconforming (and even if they have weird hairstyles - Season 2 Ali, what is going on?).

The show takes us beyond the point where queer characters must be pretty, gender conforming, and acceptably "safe" for a conservative, heterosexual audience (looking at you, Jenny's Wedding). We are invited to care about these characters despite their flaws. They are not the Supreme Court ideal handpicked, sainted, and prepped "test" plaintiffs for LGBT rights.

The show argues, instead, these people - we-  matter and are deserving of dignity, even if not immediately appealing to the mainstream. And that, I think, is progress.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Internet Arguing Tip o' the Day

Nothing good ever comes from arguments that include the words "coitus," "SJW," or "problematic."

These rank right up there with using "female" as a noun in signaling that it's time to go as far and as fast as you can away from the argument.

Regarding "coitus," I have only ever seen this word used on Internet in the midst of anti-LGBT bigots using it in debates about same-sex marriage. As in, "only a man and a female can have coitus, therefore only a man and a female can get married." Or some variation of that stellar argument which doesn't need to be re-hashed since the bigots lost that one.

On to "SJW" - short for "Social Justice Warrior.*"  I guess this is the new-ish buzzword that conservatives use to smear progressives, and particularly anti-racists and feminists. "SJW" is essentially the new "politically correct."  What this means is that when I hear some jackass say something like "Jane is an SJW and therefore a symbol of everything wrong with the country today!" I hear "Jane cares about treating people with respect and therefore a symbol of everything wrong with the country today!"

Now, "problematic" is, I have to say, often used by progressives. And, I have been guilty of this one myself. I think the intent behind it is often to lessen the blow of using more accurate (yet harsh, scary?) labels like racist, sexist, or transphobic, so as to not alienate people one is conversing with.

In the context of progressive-progressive conversations, though, using the word "problematic" signals a lack of trust that the other person can receive a more accurate critique and, in that way, it comes off to me as patronizing.  And, yes, many people are not receptive to being called, or having their arguments called, sexist, racist, or transphobic - but part of having such conversations productively is knowing one's audience. I'd bet most people who will not react well to being called sexist will not react well to being called problematic, either, and they'll be doubly pissed off for being condescended to.

In the context of progressive-conservative conversations, using the word "problematic" will likely just get you made fun of.

*I think SJW is also a new version/variation of the older "Leftist Gender Warrior," which an anti-gay blogger called me in my early days of blogging!  Hence the Leftist Gender Warrior Chronicles which pop up here every now and again.



Friday, January 15, 2016

Femslash Friday: And I Think I'm Kinda Gay

I always loved Buffy episodes with Vampire Willow.  She was so badass, blunt, and ... licky.
Now, sure, you might be saying, "Fannie, Vampire Willow was evil."  And yes. Yes, that is true.  But to that I say, she couldn't help what she had become, cut her some slack!

And, I suppose if one was being honest, one might also say that Vampire Willow displays a fair amount of sexual confusion.  Not so much about her sexual orientation but more about the above business with her alternate universe self.

Relatedly, you might be thinking that, technically, "femslash" requires a pairing, hence the "slash." So some of you might be wondering who the related pairing is today. As in, Vampire Willow/Regular Willow, or ..... Vampire Willow/Glory (hmmmmm, let that one marinate).

Here I would suggest that the real question is not who would Vampire Willow be paired with, but who wouldn't be, really?

See also, this tribute fan video.

There may or may not come a day when I talk about serious things in Fannie's Room again.  I mean, it only took me 9 years of blogging to realize I don't have to engage with shitheads if I don't want to.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

We ARE the Weirdos

Remember the movie The Craft (1996), about 4 young women who pursue witchcraft for not entirely-benign purposes?

 About this film, I will just say it was instrumental in my coming out as a lesbian. It's not a particularly great movie, but if one embraces it for what it could have been, it can work? The ringleader of the group, Nancy (Fairuza Balk), always struck me as like a damaged, gothy power lesbian and I remember feeling both attracted to her while also knowing she would have been completely Bad News to date.


I also remember loving that "we are the weirds, mister" line, as corny as it might seem now.

Nancy gave zero fucks about what mere human men thought of her and her non-Christian spiritual practices. And, as coven leader, she refused to let herself and her friends be victims.

Sadly, this movie with so much potential veers into the patriarchal narrative of Powerful Woman Gets Too Greedy With Her Power, ultimately suggesting that women shouldn't have such power at all.  If the film gets a reboot, that should be fixed.

And there should be some overt lesbianism/bisexuality, too, obvs.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

I Respond To Old Comments

I was poking around the back-end of the ol' blog recently and saw that over the years, 81 unread comments going back to 2007 have somehow been sitting unread and unviewable (from the front-end) in the Blogger Comments here.

Whoooops! Um, sorry?

This issue mostly seems due to the DISQUS commenting system, which I use as a Blogger add-on, not properly loading at times or in certain browsers. When this happens, it sometimes makes Blogger Comments the default commenting interface temporarily so that when some people comment their comments aren't viewable to everyone else for whom DISQUS is working and properly loaded. As a result, some people's comments just linger in the aether acknowledged.

In fact, every so often when DISQUS is taking a long time to load, you can see the option to insert a Blogger Comment. It's like a glitch in the Matrix, except way less cool. I've noticed it for awhile now, but I mostly just try not to think about it.

Anyway, some of these lost comments include, by year:
  • 2011 - Someone thanked me for linking to their work as a Quote of the Day and also let me know her name was Ragen (which I had mis-stated as Kate) - sorry, fixed!
  • 2011 - A commenter creatively named "Antifeminist" took issue with the phrase "mansplain" (from this post) and claimed that the word is a "tactic that fems have to use" because we have no real arguments. To that, my timely response would be, yes good sir, you have hit the nail on the head. If you peruse my blog archives, or use the Control-F feature of your keyboard, you will find that the word "mansplain" is the lorum ipsum filler text of Fannie's Room. (Oooh, + this)
  • 2012 - Scooter asked perhaps one of the most pressing questions ever to be asked at Fannie's Room in response to my review of the film Itty Bitty Titty Committee: "I was not consciously aware of this movie but just this weekend I wondered if there was an analogous 'teeny little dick committee' for boys?"  To that I say, I don't know, but there probably should be?
  • 2012 - sarahbee made a salient observation (when talking about words in general): "What is up with the word 'female' instead of 'woman' to herald oncoming douchebaggery?" I KNOW, RIGHT?!
Also in these lost comments were a slew of ads and promotional content, which I refuse to re-post on principle.

Anyway, this glitchy thing will probably keep randomly happening, just something to keep in mind in case you comment and it doesn't show up or no one replies.  You are not invisible. Your voice matters! (Except for Antifeminist. That guy seems like a real jerk).

Friday, January 8, 2016

Fair Warning and Femslash Friday

Here's my new standard response to, and image for, trolls here:

I am no longer too lazy to make my own gifs.  This seriously changes everything.

As a side note, you may recognize the above image from an episode of Xena, one of my favorites in fact (Season 4 "If the Shoe Fits," a re-telling of Cinderella).

Although, honestly, as I try to write right now, the gif keeps moving and is totally distracting, so I really don't have much more to say I guess other than here is a link to your courtesy Femslash Friday fan video - a tribute to Gabrielle's funny moments.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Today's Deep Thought - On "Game"

I have been reading some really awful manosphere "Game" blogs and it's become my entirely lay opinion that misogynistic men who buy into this pseudo-science are literally the only people who care about male "sociosexual hierarchy" rankings and that, in fact, their placement of other men on said hierarchy almost seems to function as a means to channel their possible repressed homosexual attractions.

I only say that because these men spend more time thinking about different men's "socio-sexual" attractiveness than does any woman. It's like a Miss America Pageant in which only men are contenders, audience, and judges but, like, way sadder because no one will just admit that's what it is.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Movie Review: Jenny's Wedding

I'm going to preface this review by noting that queer women have slim pickings when it comes to movies and TV shows to watch that depict us. So, even when I review queer movies that don't particularly speak to me, I don't want to seem ungrateful.  In fact, something I love to do almost as much as watching good queer cinema is write about bad queer cinema.

So, I think the two nicest things I can say about the film Jenny's Wedding are that (a) it seems earnest, and (b) it's about a family that reacts.... awkwardly to their female relative, Jenny, who reveals that she is a lesbian and marrying a woman.

The awkwardness is understandable. For, Jenny and her partner are perhaps the straightest characters to ever be lesbians.

I cringe saying that, really I do, because it's not like there's even a one right way to be a lesbian, you know?  But, I do think a key requirement should be physical attraction to women.

Exhibit A.  Observe the interaction below. In it, Jenny (Katherine Heigl) lets her partner (Alexis Bledel) know that she's going to come out to her family:


Up until the end of the scene, the interaction seems like the two women are roommates who are actually just roommates and not roommates in the closeted-lesbian sense of the word - so much so that I, who can read sapphic subtext into everything - wasn't even sure the two characters were in a relationship until the end.

For one, Rory Gilmore (I'm sorry, I can't think of her as anyone else) says she wants them to have another roommate to help with bills.  I thought that was the opening for Jenny to suggest that her girlfriend move in with them, you know, the one she's actually in love with.  And two, Jenny reveals that she wants to get married and have a family, which seems like it's both a surprise to Rory and also maybe a really awkward proposal? Or, maybe they had a wedding planned already, but up until that very moment, it seemed like Jenny was on the fence about it?

The development of the actual same-sex relationship in this movie just seems lacking.  It's as though the lesbians exist primarily to help make the wacky, bigoted heterosexuals become better, more tolerant, people. And, in that sense, the film feels 5 years too late. With media offerings like Transparent, Lost Girl, and Carol, a movie that takes place today that is solely about bigots coming to terms with their feelings about their lesbian relative almost feels..... quaint.   Bigotry is still a real struggle for queer people, my complaint is that I don't think bigots deserve to be centered in movies or TV shows.

It is also a plot-line that explains the lack of emphasis, or de-centering if you will, of the relationship between Jenny and Rory. As an aficionado of on-screen kissing and chemistry between women, I found the relationship disappointing.  In the next clip, someone compiled all of the times Jenny and Rory were physical, and it clocks in at 31 seconds of screen time. I give you Exhibit B:

In the first kiss we see, I feel like I'm looking at two women who are very eager .... to stop kissing one another so they can get back to all of that platonic hugging. Nothing wrong with platonic hugging, but here it feels.... welllll, I don't know. I just don't want to watch two women kiss if it seems like they're not enjoying it that much. I want to pull Jenny aside and whisper, "Your girlfriend has a vagina that you might one day touch," because I think that might be a surprise to her?

In fact, in a funny way, I'm reminded of a Jenny Schecter moment from The L Word, Season 5 Episode 6, when she's directing the film-within-the-TV-show Lez Girls.  (Say what you will about Jenny Schecter, but Season 5 Schecter was often on. point).

In the episode, Schecter was coaching the two heterosexual actresses on how to portray two women having sex with one another.  They were awkward (yes, awkward is the operative word of this movie review!), giggly, and didn't really know what to do. So, Schecter tries to help, giving them some explicit direction, and ending with "Go for it!"  One of the straight actresses responds, "OH, you mean with my hand?" To which Schecter responds, "Yeah, unless you have some other apparati I don't know about."

For some reason, that scene came to mind during Jenny's Wedding.

Not only did Jenny and Rory lack chemistry, they seemed written to be profoundly unthreatening. Feminine. Thin. Both are conventionally gorgeous. Middle class. White.  And the final nail in the coffin proving that they are good people worthy of sympathy and acceptance is that both are social workers. Had they been welders or, say, hedge fund managers, on the other hand, you just can't guarantee audiences would sympathize, you know?

I'll end by noting that this is perhaps one of the few queer films where I almost didn't want the women to end up together.

Where Jenny is hurt by her family's bigotry, Rory is mostly .... mute and adorable. She has bangs, sad eyes, and practically zero lines. At one point, when Rory meets Jenny's family for the first time as "the lesbian lover," Jenny's dad makes an awkward comment to Jenny about how he can't figure out what the two women could possibly do in bed together, since they are both feminine.

Which (a) that's creepy for a parent to think about let alone say to their daughter. And (b) instead of deftly smoothing over that awkwardness or standing up for her girlfriend, Jenny instead yells out this zinger to Rory in front of fucking everyone: "Dad wants to know if one of us straps it on in bed!"

What in the actual hell?  Like, way to ensure that the entire family immediately begins picturing the two of you in bed, Jenny.

And also, queer women have had a lot of shitty conversations with parents, but this interaction has literally never happened ever in real life. (And I 100% realize I'm setting myself up for someone to chime in here and say, um actually....)

The point here is that lesbian/bisexual movies have a tendency to have bad endings where the two women don't end up together. Yet, in this movie, I was rooting against a wedding, because Rory seemed like a complete doormat.  And, many people do a lot for their partners, in terms of putting up with weird family dynamics. But here, for me, the shittiness reached peak Meet the Parents-level in which you just eventually want Rory to throw up her hands and say, "Fuck this. I'm out."

In my non-existent fanfic of this movie, Lorelai Gilmore would swoop in with a pint of Rocky Road, a tray of lattes, and advice for Rory on how to break up with Jenny and her weird, asshole family and go for someone who she could be awkward with, yet in a cute, non-toxic way.  Like Lane Kim or Willow Rosenberg.