Monday, October 31, 2016

I Voted

I voted for Hillary Clinton over the weekend!

In down-ballot news, in previous elections I have often voted for Green Party candidates for state and local positions. Not this year. Democrats all the way.  I'll think long and hard about ever supporting Greens again, in fact.

I've been pretty clear about my disappointment with the way Jill Stein has been running her campaign. She's promoted many of the same "Crooked Hillary" talking points Donald Trump parrots, doesn't seem to understand the political realities on which our governmental system operates, and is too much of an anti-identity-politics Cool Girl to really make gender, and her gender specifically, an issue in her campaign.

I finally unfollowed her on Twitter when I saw that she Tweeted a screen shot of hacked/leaked Clinton campaign emails and using it against her. I won't re-post it here for what should be obvious reasons.

I will say that I'm deeply uncomfortable with the way that Clinton's non-public emails are so cavalierly shared, read, and promoted, even among progressives. For one, who among us would look stellar if our communications not meant for public consumption were shared for all to read? Have we all not expressed anger, impatience, or other strong emotions at some point? Has Saint Jill Stein always been a paragon of civility and progressivism in each and every one of her emails?  Is Gary Johnson even more ignorant in his communications?  Has Bernie Sanders ever been unkind?  And, well, if Donald Trump says what he says in public, can you i-m-a-g-i-n-e what he says in private?

In fairness, perhaps all candidates should release their own emails and those of their staffers.

Secondly, and related, those who have been part of the email-sharing bonanza would do well to remember that whatever tactics they condone for political purposes can and probably will one day be used against them, too, one day.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Open Thread Friday

Erma Gerd, readers, some people have been finding Fannie's Room by searching for "Hillary Clinton femslash." I realize I am now contributing to this issue by writing a post with that very phrase, but I can't even with that.

In The Dark Tower news (spoiler alert), the saga of Stephen King killing his darlings continues. With respect to Jake, what really got me balling (on a plane, yeah!) was poor little Oy's grief. Why why whyyyyy?

I continue find King's insertion of himself, as the author, intriguing. I suppose a stunt like that could come off as gimmicky, but textually his point seems to be that it's his ka to write The Dark Tower series, he had been neglecting finishing it for too long, and it wasn't until, perhaps, his near-fatal accident that he was inspired to complete it (that being said, I still wish nothing but the best for GRRM).

It's been interesting to read On Writing, King's non-fiction book about writing, in the midst of The Dark Tower VII. King seems to be of the belief that at a certain point, characters sort of take on a life of their own and it is the scribe's job to record what unfolds. In The Dark Tower VII, Roland confronts King, demanding that he continue to write so that their worlds will continue. But, before they part ways, King also tells Roland, "I didn't make your ka any more than I made Gan or the world, and we both know it. Put your foolishness behind you - and your grief - and do as you'd have me do. Finish the job!" The implication is that the inspiration is two-way, rather than one-way, with writers being inspired by the characters they have created.


Talk about this, or other stuff!

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Working For Free


Those of you who are artists and writers will probably appreciate this:

"Illustrations of the People Who Want You to Work For Free"

My accompanying thoughts:

If a commercial website/blog is being run or started, I'm of the opinion that payment for writers, designers, and artists who provide content and other labor to that site ought to be built into the business model, and not seen as something that might happen eventually one day if the website Really Takes Off.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Recap Wednesday: Supergirl 1.3 "Fight or Flight"

This episode picks up with Cat Grant getting her first interview with Supergirl. The interview is conducted with Cat wearing a robe thingy and Supergirl sort of floating around her on a hilltop. I guess it sounds weirder than it actually is, all things considered? ANYway, Supergirl has many skills, but interviewing is not one of them. She accidentally reveals that she is Superman’s cousin. Cat Grant being Cat Grant reveals that to the public.

We then meet this week’s villain. He’s some angry, shirtless guy in what looks like a junkyard (Life Lesson #1: Avoid old warehouses, chemical plants, and junkyards). This guy sees an image of Supergirl on his mud-splattered TV screen and seems perturbed that Supergirl and Superman are cousins. (THANKS A LOT CAT!)

Meanwhile at the DEO, the female agent I’ve come to think of as “Alex’s Ex” lets the gang know there’s a pileup on the highway.

"I'm still processing things, Alex."

I'm not sure why exactly I think they're exes. The sleek-yet-functional uniforms? The down-to-business demeanor that is obviously a veneer for deeper, more complicated feelings? The fact that I'm in favor of queering all the things? Let's just go with it, okay.

But back to the pile-up. Supergirl takes off to go help and immediately rescues a bus driver. Yay! The junkyard villain guy shows up, however, and says he has some sort of vendetta against Superman that he's going to take out on Supergirl. So, he and Supergirl fight a little bit and then he flies away (because um?).  Him leaving the fight allows Supergirl to go back to the DEO, find out who he is, and learn what his specific strengths and weaknesses are. Which, is lucky.

(Life Lesson #2: If you are a villain, definitely spend less time delivering wise-ass monologues and more time kicking the superhero's ass.)

In Cat Grant news, she's writing an article, herself, about Supergirl, instead of handing off the menial task of writing to someone else. She's also throwing a party to launch the article, which Kara is helping plan. I relay this segment because it contains another bit of advice. At one point, Kara interrupts Cat's writing process to ask about what appetizers she should order for the party.  Life Lesson #3: Never interrupt a writer who is on a deadline to discuss trivialities:

Grrrr Argh
At the DEO, Hank tells Supergirl that the villain guy's name is Reactron, he's obsessed with Superman, and he's a human, which means he "falls outside of the DEO's jurisdiction." Womp womp. Such a stickler, that Hank. I guess it's no big that there's this rando guy stalking around. Luckily, Supergirl has other allies. It turns out Winn has built a lair at CatCo to help with superhero operations. Translated into Buffy, this would be the equivalent of the Sunnydale High School Library, minus Giles (also, maybe Winn is more Willow than Xander? Or, a conglomeration of the two?)

"There has to be a superhero handbook on the interweb somewhere."
They learn that this Reactron shoots bursts of nuclear energy and he's incredibly powerful. So powerful, in fact, that James suggests Supergirl call Superman for backup. Supergirl nips that suggestion in the bud.

Reactron ends up abducting Max Lord, who is a genius and runs a tech company blah blah blah (if you ask me, Max Lord is the supremely-punchable Gaius Baltar of Supergirl). It turns out Reactron is a former nuclear power plant worker who was exposed to radiation during a meltdown that Superman wasn't able to prevent. (Well la dee da. Sometimes the superhero can't save everyone, geeez.) Anyway, Reactron wears a suit that keeps him alive and he needs Max's help to fix it.

Alex, despite Hank's insistence that the DEO not help with this villain, goes rogue for the day (which, seems fine?) and helps figure out that Reactron is hiding in the junkyard. Supergirl shows up, frees Max, and almost gets killed by Reactron. Superman actually has to come in and save her. It turns out that James had called Superman in for backup anyway, which Supergirl gets pissed about.

At this point, you might be wondering, "What happened to all that Stronger Together talk, hmmm?" And yes, Supergirl is thus far willing to accept help from her human friends, but mostly sees it as a sign of weakness to accept help from Superman. But can you blame her? Maybe she doesn't want to be seen as riding on Superman's coattails, okay? SO BACK OFF!

Now, where were we.

Oh yes, Hank then finds out that Alex is helping Supergirl with Reactron. He takes it surprisingly well. Perhaps, that's because he's harboring a secret of his own.  He appears to be a Cylon infiltrator. Or an alien. Or something. I don't know:

Hank WTF
Meanwhile, Kara is at the CatCo party, dancing with Winn. She really has no clue that he's in love with her, so I feel awkward for them. James cuts in and some non-subtle eye-gazing ensues. Then, Reactron shows up. Luckily, Alex and Hank at the DEO have just figured out how to defeat him. They buzz(?) Supergirl (is there an earpiece? an implant? telepathy?) and relay the instructions to her, and she defeats him. The point is that Supergirl was, in the end, able to defeat Reactron, which is something Superman was unable to do.

At the end of the episode, Kara meets *dun dun dun* James's on-off girlfriend, Lucy Lane (played by Jenna Dewan Tatum). Kara is like, "It's so nice to meet you" in that fake way people do, but her face is like:

And, it's an understandable reaction, to be honest. I like to think Kara is feeling sexually confused because of Lucy, rather than jealous of her, but I do realize one doesn't always get what one wants in a TV show.

Deep Thought of the Week: I can suspend my disbelief about a lot, including: (a) Effectively disguising oneself with glasses, just glasses; (b) Being a secret superhero and deciding not to win eleventy-million Olympic gold medals (have Ledecky and kryptonite ever been in the same room together, by the way?); and (c) Wearing your hair down when you fight but tied back in a ponytail when you work in an office. *shrug*

But where. For the love. Of all that is holy. Does she hide that fracking cape in her clothes all day when she’s working at CatCo? If I wear the wrong pair of underwear it ruins my day. And that is all, goodbye.

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

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

That Michael Moore Movie

As fawningly described by Richard Brody in The New Yorker:
Moore’s prime argument for Hillary is an argument from character. The first good thing that he can say about Hillary Clinton is that she likes him. He refers to the chapter “My Forbidden Love for Hillary” from his 1996 book “Downsize This!” and describes the White House dinner to which he was invited as a result—in particular, dwelling on the frank and surprisingly specific enthusiasm that Bill Clinton expressed for Moore’s work and the even greater show of enthusiasm with which Hillary followed it. The apparent element of vanity actually plays exactly in the opposite direction—what Moore’s doing here, deftly, is endowing Hillary with longstanding progressive bona fides, bringing her alongside him to share in his fan base. (emphasis added)
Oh god.

Okay, three things:

1)  I likely will not watch the movie. Why? I don't seem to be its target audience. I already like Hillary. I already think she is progressive. Why? Because I've listened to her and am informed about her. And, more to the point, I don't need a man to vouch for her in order for me to trust her.

2) Note "the first good thing" Michael Moore can say about Hillary Clinton: She likes him.


And how does Richard Brody frame this "good thing" about Hillary Clinton? Well, I'll say this. Leave it to the male gaze to frame Michael Moore liking Hillary Clinton because she's ostensibly a Michael Moore fangirl as "deft" filmmaking rather than Trump-like narcissism.

3) But, if that wasn't clear enough for you, welcome to the *jazz hands* Michael Moore Show:

"Ur welcome."

Sure bro. If you say so.
In case there was any uncertainty as to why many feminists distrust leftier-than-thou "progressive" political figures in the US of the Sanders/Stein/brocialist vein, here is a clue. This attempted narrative that Michael Moore has uniquely "lit a fire" under people to take the US presidential election seriously erases the women, especially women of color, who comprise Hillary's base, who are and have been her most enthusiastic supporters, and who have trusted and backed her even when Moore was supporting Bernie Sanders over her. 

Many of us have always been taking this race seriously, viewing Trump not through the lens of abstraction or entertainment, but as a genuine threat to democracy, bodily autonomy, and human dignity.

This is not to say Moore has not had an impact, but man oh man. There is a saying women sometimes hear when people feel that we've gotten too uppity and it usually goes something like "get over yourself." I suggest that it might apply to Moore in this case, even though men are of course given far greater latitude than women to self-promote and exaggerate their influence, competence, and skills.

So, before we let him re-write history (before it's even been written I might add - are we all getting a leeeetle bit ahead of ourselves here with the Election 2016 post-mortems?), I'd like to give credit to some of the writers, public figures, and people in the TV/film industry who I think have been pretty darn impactful in terms of lighting fires under the populace (not a comprehensive list, so add to it if you will):

Shonda Rhimes, Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders (...eventually, via his endorsement), Cecile Richards, Kerry Washington, Khizr Khan, Hillary Clinton's social media and Twitter team who have been on point all year, The Washington Post's Election 2016 Fact Checker, Melissa McEwan/Peter Daou and colleagues at Shareblue, the dozens of editors of major newspapers across the US who have officially endorsed Clinton, Lindy West, the Broad City gals, Ellen DeGeneres, Sarah Silverman, Kate McKinnon, and even whoever made that Shaquille O'Neal shimmy gif.

I mean how do you even end this list or sufficiently quantify it, really?

There are indeed so many people, too many people to name here, perhaps, but it's a start. The larger point is that I won't stand by while late-to-the-party Michael Moore writes his own Great Man Narrative about his own critical role in securing victory for our first female President.

Friday, October 21, 2016

WayHaught Open Thread Friday

In reading news, I've picked back up Stephen King's The Dark Tower VII: The Dark Tower, apparently just in time for (MAJOR SPOILER ALERT, highlight the following text if you dare) the death of Eddie Dean. Why????  It is true, sai readers, I am known to cry at movies, TV, and books. Don't let my harsh blogging persona fool you, but I was recently a person on a train crying at a book, say sorry.

What are people reading, writing, watching, playing, eating, and/or drinking? Palaver as you will.

And, speaking of gunslingers, who is watching Wynonna Earp?  It has an actual same-sex maintext relationship, if you can believe it, between (spoiler alert?) Waverly and Officer Haught (pronounced "hot" because of course). Speaking of which. Erma Gerd, do you want to watch the absolute cheesiest fan video ever in the history of fan videos? (I do). 

This is the stuff that makes Internet great, folks. 

And remember, in just three Fridays, Election 2016 will be history! Huzzah! Take care of yourselves. Say thankya and so say we all.


Thursday, October 20, 2016

Internet Harassers Reduce Value of Twitter

Here's an interesting story via CNBC (note: video autoplays at link. Ugh, WHY?).

Software company Salesforce was apparently in talks to acquire Twitter. However, its stock fell during these talks as investors expressed concerns about the platform:
"Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff ruled out a bid for Twitter in part from concern about the social platform's reputation for handling online abuse and trolls, according to CNBC's Jim Cramer on Monday.
'What's happened is, a lot of the bidders are looking at people with lots of followers and seeing the hatred,' Cramer said on 'Squawk on the Street.'
He continued, 'Twitter says listen, we have a filter. I mean the filter filters out a very small amount of the haters, and I know that the haters reduce the value of the company.'

Last week, a Financial Times report said that Benioff had ruled out a bid for Twitter, after weeks of speculation that the company could indeed acquire the company.

Salesforce confirmed Benioff's comments to CNBC and declined to comment further. Twitter shares fell as much as 8 percent following the report."
We hear a lot from Internet harassers who believe they have a "free speech right" to harass with impunity on the tech and social media platforms they use. We don't hear as much about how their harassment leads to tangible financial loss for these platforms. I suspect that will change.

Sadly, financial loss is what will likely induce companies to better address harassment. The "mere" fact that people are being harassed isn't a compelling enough reason for many companies to develop more effective solutions for harassment.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Recap Wednesday: Supergirl 1.2 "Stronger Together"

(Did you notice the title of this episode? Did you? Did YOU? *koff* You did.)

This episode opens with the DEO running tests on Supergirl’s powers, mostly by shooting missiles at her while she flies. Confession: I will never not wish I could fly when watching a Superman or Supergirl show. That would be my superpower wish 100%. Also, This is not a drill: Alex is walking around in DEO agent gear looking like she owns the place, AND she is acting super proud of her sister, which is cute. I now realize how rare it is to see women acting proud of other women on TV. Which I guess is also sad. But, back to Alex:

Her sister just broke the sound barrier, sir
The point here is that Supergirl is impatient with all of this testing and is pretty confident that she’s ready for the field. She's a HERO dammit, just like Superman!

On cue, Winn calls Supergirl and lets her know that a big fire is happening at the harbor. When she gets there, one of the firefighters tells her that the fire is about to spread to a nearby ship, which is full of oil. He then rather snottily says, “What are you waiting for? Superman would have blown it out by now.” Oh man, fightin’ words.

She immediately begins using her ice breath on it, which is what she thinks Superman would have done, but that makes the fire worse (there is a lesson there, I think). Supergirl then decides to move the ship away from the fire. She does this by flying in front of the ship and ….pulling it away from the dock? (About fifty dudes watch her and you can tell they're thinking, "ACTUALLY, wouldn’t pushing it be easier?") Anyway, she succeeds in pulling the ship away from the dock, but in doing so, splits the ship apart, causing an oil spill. Whooops.

Supergirl (as Kara) then goes to work at CatCo, because all of those shenanigans apparently happened before 9 am. And, we know the exact time because Supergirl's super-hearing picks up Cat Grant muttering to herself in the elevator, "Drunk at 9 am. That's the last time I have breakfast with Ruth Bader Ginsburg." And now, I officially love Cat Grant.

I should also mention that when I say Supergirl goes to work as "as Kara," that means she's wearing her "Kara" disguise of glasses and a ponytail. Which, seems fine.

Anyway, some douchey-seeming guy named Maxwell Lord is on a TV screen saying National City doesn’t need this second-rate Supergirl. And then, Cat Grant says they should name her #TerribleGirl instead. Sick burn, Cat. Sick burn. So, it's like the whole city is turning against her already! Cat also demands to her staff that they get her an interview with Supergirl by the end of the week or else. 

A bit later, we’re introduced to this week’s villain. This one is hanging around some sort of chemical plant and he has a gaping Jurassic Park maw of a mouth. (*shrug* I'm here for the feminism, flying, and subtext. Wait what?) 

Back at the DEO, Alex treats Supergirl to an impromptu self-defense lesson in a special room that the DEO built. The room emits kryptonite, which weakens Supergirl, which means Alex is kicking her ass. The lesson is that Supergirl doesn’t have great fighting skills yet. She mostly relies on being stronger than other people, which Alex tells her won’t always work in a fight, because she may fight people stronger than her one day. Supergirl leaves the DEO in a huff. But, as Hank notes, it's a lesson that could save her life one day. (He's right, you know).

Kara then sees that Cat has written an article critical of Supergirl. She notes that Superman made mistakes before and people weren’t so hard on him. Cat tells her that Supergirl needs to learn that a woman has to work twice as hard to be seen as half as good as a man. (She's right, you know).

Cat's comments inspire Kara to ask Winn and James for help, which they both quite eagerly agree to do.

"I'm in! I said it first"
We later see a montage of James and Winn monitoring police scanners and telling Supergirl where different crimes in the city are happening. I guess they have all left CatCo in the middle of the day to do this. Which, seems fine. The point is that Supergirl is getting experience doing small-ish acts of heroism and repairing her reputation. And, it works. Her reputation in the city improves. Like.... just in one day... or?

In this episode, we also learn that Kara's aunt is General Astra, head of Team Alien, and is not happy that her niece is working for Team Human. Alex, Hank, and the DEO go after the gaping-maw alien and Alex ends up being captured by Astra. It's fine, though, because Supergirl saves her. What's truly important to note is that, during an Alex/Astra interaction, we see the briefest moment in which Astra runs her finger along Alex’s jawline. And, I am all on board that ship.

Stronger together?
Anyway, James and Kara also have a moment. Kara says she’ll give Cat the interview as Supergirl. She doesn't want James to get fired for not being able to secure the interview for Cat. Kara reveals to him that on Krypton, accepting help from people was seen as an honor. AND, the “S” on her shirt actually stands for her family motto “el marayah," which when translated from Kryptonian to English means "Stronger Together." (All of my likes are officially converging, really. Is this how some straight dudes feel like all the time when their identities and politics are infused in pop culture? In other news, I recently found out that a former verbally-abusive coach from 15 years ago is a Trump supporter. So dislikes too can converge, apparently!)

The big overarching lesson for Kara here is that she realizes that while Superman has his own way of doing the superhero thing alone, her way is going to be to accept help from her friends and family because ultimately that makes her a better hero. Just because Superman is a hero, he doesn't set the superhero standard. (That would be Xena, obvs).

Then, the episode ends with Cat Grant getting her interview with Supergirl. For reference, here is what Cat Grant looks like when she looks at Supergirl:

"Hello, fellow heterosexual!"

Deep Thought of the Week: Like Jessica Jones, Supergirl thus far lacks an obvious white alpha male protagonist type of character, which is rare for the genre. And, it's not a character I miss. I grew up on the Christopher Reeve Superman movies and loved them. It's more that, by now, I think that type of character has been done. And, I think the powers that be in the industry easily become overly-infatuated with white alpha male characters, even when they're just side characters, so much so that they let them dominate every scene they're in.

Also, in Season 1 of Jessica Jones, the aggressive white male character was the arch-villain.  I know some fans took issue with that, saying all the white male characters were either villains, sex objects, or otherwise flawed. Sort of like how female characters, and people of color, have been portrayed since forever, but nevermind that I suppose. Maxwell Lord, introduced this episode, is Supergirl's first alpha/aggressive white man and seems more of a villain/anti-hero character thus far.

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

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The Cheese Stands Alone?

Hillary Clinton is too distant, says conservative man using his New York Times platform to pen an intimate, humanizing portrayal of an authoritarian predator.

I've seen even liberals approvingly cite David Brooks' recent column on Trump, cited above, but my summary is really the big take-away I get from it.

Brooks asks us repeatedly to imagine that we are Trump and how pathetic and sad that must be, and that, if/when Trump loses he'll be all alone in his isolated misery.


Let's take a step back.

Shortly after California's anti-gay Proposition 8 passed in 2008, a professional class of "marriage defenders" started increasingly framing themselves as a "civil" voice of opposition to marriage equality, in contrast to, say, Fred Phelps and his more obviously hateful clan. The role of these groups, such as National Organization for Marriage, seemed to be, in part, to convince courts, legislatures, and the populace that opposition to marriage equality was not rooted in bigotry but, rather, in a mere nicey-nice belief that all children deserved a mother and a father.

An expression of this purportedly non-bigoted belief can be found in the book What Is Marriage? Man and Woman: A Defense, by Robert George, Sherif Girgis, and Ryan Anderson. Sample: "Marriage is a comprehensive union of two sexually complementary persons who seal (consummate or complete) their relationship by the generative act."

While perhaps sounding innocuous, it wasn't really one that most non-professional, non-paid, non-academic opponents of marriage equality would cite for opposing same-sex marriage. Rather, such "regular people" were more likely to express varying levels of disapproval of homosexuality or, what we often think of as, bigotry.  (Sample: Homosexuality is wrong and society shouldn't condone it by allowing gays to marry).

I have a long, 10+ year, history of engaging with anti-equality folks on Internet. And, it's my strong belief that the professional class of marriage defenders knew that their base was bigoted, leveraged this bigoted base in support of various anti-gay measures, and simultaneously acted outraged at all suggestions that their base was bigoted. (Sample: some writing I did at Family Scholars Blog awhile back on civility in the context of same-sex marriage debates).

With Supreme Court doctrine articulating that animus toward homosexuality could no longer be an acceptable basis for law, it was incumbent upon professional marriage defenders to gaslight LGB people about the very real bigotry we experience.  And, these marriage defense think-tankers often did so while pulling down six-figure salaries, book deals, and speaking gigs themselves.

You know what else they did? Convinced their poor- and middle-class bigots that same-sex marriage was going to doom the country.

Hmmm, we have marriage equality now so what happened to all that?

I think many people are realizing that same-sex marriage has had little, if any, tangible impact on the lives of most of its opponents, other than that people now live in a society that is more accepting of it. So what benefits, if any, did the marriage defense establishment tangibly provide for its base, in the long run?

So, coming back to the present.

In a similar vein, Republicans have long articulated deplorable beliefs in subtle, dog-whistle ways, knowing that their base has various bigotries. Racism. White supremacy. Anti-Muslim sentiment. Misogyny. Transphobia. The Republican establishment has leveraged these bigotries for their own benefit, giving cover to a base that holds more explicitly deplorable views, while also doing very little for this base. They've effectively stoked rage and, because they've done nothing to assuage it, have also created the conditions for anti-establishment sentiment. 

Republicans and conservatives now seek to distance themselves from Trump. As David Brooks does, they fantasize that Donald Trump is perhaps an uncommon, rogue, lone wolf not representative of the base they've long catered to.

Yet, he's exactly who Republicans have enabled to become the leader of their raging pack.

And, if/when he loses, the Republican establishment may abandon Trump to his incompetent, man-child misery.  It seems doubtful, however, that Trump's millions of supporters and fans will also do so.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Puppy Friday

It's official, Melissa Benoist (Supergirl) is adorable, as confirmed by her taking the Puppy Challenge.

Just replace the next presidential debate with this challenge, to be honest, and I think we could learn a lot.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Locker Room Talk: No Men or All Men?

[content note: misogyny, misandry]

It turns out I have further thoughts on the Trump Tapes.


1) Trump dismissed his sexual assault commentary as "locker room talk." That language is telling for many reasons, a key one of which is that he did not actually make his comments in a locker room. He made them at a workplace, about a female colleague. Treating a workplace "like a locker room" (as a a locker room is defined by Trump) is actually referred to as "creating a hostile work environment." And, it says a lot about a man's worldview when he thinks the workplace is his... locker room.

2) I appreciate the sentiments of various men on social media saying that men actually just talk about mundane things, or don't really talk about things at all, in locker rooms. Since Trump the Misandrist has asserted that men as a class sexually harass women in the way that he does, or at least boast about doing so with their bros, I think it is important for men who do not sexually harass women to say so.

However, as I alluded on Twitter, it is not helpful for men to suggest that such talk does not ever happen in locker rooms, either. The truth is likely somewhere in the middle. Some men talk a big sexual harassment/assault game with other men in locker rooms (and other "safe" sex-segregated spaces), enabled by men who laugh along or remain silent. Other men don't.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Recap Wednesday: Supergirl Episode 1.1 "Pilot"

(Note: Just assume all recaps contain spoilers for that episode)

So, Supergirl begins with us learning right away that Kara Zor-El is Superman’s cousin. When she was a teenager, she was shipped from Krypton to Earth in a pod (there's always a "pod" in this genre, isn't there?), with the intent that she protect him. That’s right. A mere girl sent to protect a boy. It’s too bad this Krypton they speak of exploded. Come to us, matriarchal overlords!

However, complications ensued and Kara didn't make it to Earth until 24 years later. By then Superman had grown up to be a hero without her.  So, she was taken in by the Danvers family, headed by previous superhero portrayers Helen Slater and Dean Cain! (Interjection to say that The Legend of Billie Jean starring Helen Slater was a *koff* formative film experience for me circa the late 1980s).

We also learn that the Danvers had a daughter, Alex. For some reason, here is our first glimpse of her, standing alone in an upstairs window looking forlorn:

Is this shot a nod to the "madwoman in the attic" trope of feminist critique? Is she grounded? Just sad? Am I overthinking this? Probably. But, my angst-dar is pinging with that one.

So, after this prelude, the show cuts to the intro of The Devil Wears Prada. Okay, it’s actually just present-day Kara, a 20-something woman, carrying a tray of coffee and running errands for her boss, Cat Grant, the most powerful woman in National City. Be afraid, MRAs, be very afraid!

The first friend we meet is WinnXander. His name is actually Winn, but we’re introduced to him as a nerdy (he runs some sort of website about aliens) guy who asks Kara out on a date (she declines). So, it’s established he has an unrequited crush on her. Hmmmm. My opinion of Winn is on hold.

After Winn, we meet the famous Cat Grant, strutting through the office of CatCo, the company she runs and in which Kara works. Is she History’s Greatest Monster because she’s on a business call and throws her coat at Kara without acknowledgement?  I'm not sure yet. But at least we are spared eleventymillion clips of further coat-throwing, unlike Prada.

Now, I don’t usually pay attention to fashion on TV shows, but Cat is wearing a dress that is half black and half blue and all I can think about is that “Is the dress white and gold or black and blue?” meme. It’s clear that Ms. Grant is on Team Black/Blue, so that’s a point in her favor.

"Get me that piece of paper I had in my hand that one time."
And now I will stop talking about clothes because I am officially out of my league. The point about Cat is that she seems busy and assertive, which I guess translates to some as “bitchy.” My opinion of Cat is also on hold.

Next we meet James Olsen, a new hire at CatCo. James and Kara have prolonged eye contact suggestive of a future romantic storyline. While Kara is making eyes at him, however, James gets a little starry-eyed talking about his BFF Superman, whom he calls “everything you want him to be, and more.” At this point, I begin to question Kara’s superpowers because she has absolutely no ability to read subtext (it’s my only superpower). So, I hope…. no one gets hurt?

After work, Kara goes home and the next Scooby shows up: Alex Danvers, Kara’s foster sister (she was released from the attic phew!) Alex is wearing a power suit so we know she maybe has some sort of important job (and I swear I don’t usually notice fashion stuff although I realize I’m now unreliable on this point. But damn, sister Alex looks good in a suit). She’s about to get on a plane for some sort of business something-or-other and she’s also there to help Kara pick out an outfit for her blind date.

Later, Kara is on the blind date, which is going crappily, when the news runs a live report about how a plane that has just left National City is having engine trouble. Because I guess that would be on the news in real time? Kara realizes that Alex is on the plane, so she runs outside, sees the plane in the air (because of course she does), and flies to it, ultimately guiding it to a safe landing. People on the plane take pictures of her with their cell phones and she does an impressive power pose for them.

Afterwards, Kara is at home eating pizza and being adorkable by being excited at the news coverage of her heroism. Alex arrives and seems shell-shocked, upset, and ... to be honest, a smidge ungrateful. Is somebody jelly? Please don’t make two main female characters be rivals please.

The next morning, unable to contain her excitement, Kara decides to “come out” to Winn. Not “come out” in a lesbionic way. In fact, she explicitly says she’s not gay (so rest easy, hetero fans who need all heroes everywhere to be hetero). She reveals to Winn that she’s “her,” the woman who saved the plane. Winn is super excited about it, and it's cute. (Does that happen often, in TV, where men are portrayed as being thrilled about a woman's competence?).

After that, we meet the first villain of the show. His name is Botox or Buttocks. I can’t tell and it’s not important. This guy was responsible for the plane mishap and he also calls Kara “that female.” So we know right away he’s horrific. 

Winn then helps Kara make a superhero costume (+1 on the Winn scoreboard). The final product is good (Okay, it's time to confess: I'm joining Vogue's writing staff. Spoiler alert: not really). Anyway, the shirt is like under armor sporty material (lesbian approved), and no cleavage or midriff are showing. In short, it actually looks functional (except I'd recommend a ponytail rather than hair down for fighting, but alas):

Sensible shoes, too.
While she’s taking a flight around National City in her new duds, she’s shot down with some green dart thingies. Uh-oh, Kara is in peril for the first time! When she wakes up she’s strapped to a table. At this point, we meet Hank Henshaw and *dun dun dun* Agent Alex Danvers of the Initiative.  Okay, it’s actually the Department of Extranormal Operations (DEO), which is a secret government agency that protects Earth from hostiles. Aliens. I mean, aliens. (At this point, you should know that Buffy is one of my key pop culture reference points for TV Shows Featuring a Strong Female Lead). 

ANYway, Alex is the right-hand gal to DEO Director, Hank Henshaw. Hank tells Kara that when she arrived on Earth, her pod carried with her a bunch of villains from Fort Rozz, an alien prison. 

The next morning, Kara gets to work at CatCo to see that Cat has christened her “Supergirl" and that the name is trending on Twitter so now it's official. Kara storms into Cat’s office and insists that they name her Superwoman. Cat goes into this spiel about how she herself is “a girl” and that she’s also powerful, a boss, rich, hot, and smart and that if Kara sees “Supergirl” as “anything less than excellent” than Kara is the real problem. Hrmm.

Back at the DEO, Alex reveals that Fort Rozz prisoners are now going to come after Supergirl, because her mother is the one who imprisoned them. So, that’s the reason Alex wasn’t psyched about Kara becoming Supergirl. Supergirl suggests that maybe she should just go back to being a regular person then, but Alex convinces her that the world needs Supergirl now. Then, she shows Kara a hologram of Kara’s mom, who tells her to always be true to herself. (Which, just spittballin’ here, but was it cool to have hid this endearing hologram of Kara’s dead mom for years?)

Supergirl then fights Botox/Buttocks. For some reason, he has the Slayer Scythe and I’m not sure why. But that’s okay because Supergirl has heat vision, which in the superhero game of rock, paper, scissors wins.

This battle is Supergirl’s first big win over a villain, and she seems to get some confidence from it.

The next day, James reveals that he knows Kara is Supergirl. His BFF Superman had told him already, apparently. We also learn that Kara’s aunt is alive, evil, and on Earth. Family is complicated, ya’ll. Stay tuned.

Deep Thought of the Week: Regarding the name Supergirl, it was smart for the show to address the elephant in the room right away. I'm not 100% satisfied with the answer, but when I guess our new standard is having a viable presidential contender who brags about grabbing "pussies," calling her Supergirl rather than Superwoman is something I can live with in the grand scheme of things.  Pick your battles and all.

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

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

On Working With Women

It comes from Ruth Bader Ginsburg*, via the book Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, speaking on the importance of women entering professions in more than token numbers:
"Men need to learn, and they do when a women show in their midst in numbers, not as one-at-a-time curiosities. Men need the experience of working with women who demonstrate a wide range of personality characteristics, they need to become working friends with women."
One, it kills me that RBG was made to express regret over her critique of Donald Trump. Although, at the same time, her expression of regret was limited and reserved. She didn't so much say that the content of her remarks were wrong, just that someone in her position should not have made such remarks.

I won't comment on that propriety.

But, two, the intent of RBG's quote, above, is how working with a wide variety of oft-stereotyped people is a really important way to break down those stereotypes (although, of course, there are exceptions, where they'll view every behavior of a stereotyped group as confirming those stereotypes).

As a BONUS for today, I will note some ways I have learned to tell when a male leader isn't used to viewing women as intellectual and business peers, likely because he hasn't surrounded himself with many (or, any):
  • His commentary about women suggests that he views women as disposable if he deems them not fuckable. If you're a woman, you/we often know when this type of man dismisses us because the thought of engaging a woman as a peer doesn't really occur to him. The thought of losing to a woman in a business or work endeavor would be an unimaginable humiliation. That's Donald Trump-level misogyny.
  • But, there's also a type of man who, say, has a wife or daughter, so he feels uncomfortable thinking of them being treated disrespectfully. It's as though 100% of his context for the behavior known as "interacting with women" is limited to familial and sexual relationships, and so if he sees another man being sexist, he might say:

  • Another indication? Ask a man who he reads. An almost surefire sign that you're dealing with a man who doesn't view women as peers is if almost all of what he reads is written by men and he doesn't even realize it. 

[*Ugh. I drafted this post before news broke of RBG calling athletes' protests (of police violence) during the national anthem "dumb." I disagree with her there. And, I'm disappointed that she'd give such a lazy critique to the protests. She's a careful, master wordsmith on the bench and, if she truly disagrees with the protests, could render a more fair, intellectual argument than calling them "dumb." However, I also don't require feminists (or anyone) to have ideological purity in order for me to acknowledge if/when they have made important progressive contributions to society elsewhere.]

Monday, October 10, 2016

Very Important Updates

In no particular order:
  • This is not a drill. Sara Ramirez has come out as bisexual. Ramirez portrayed the bisexual Callie Torres on Grey's Anatomy for about 10 years. She is also a board member of the True Colors Fund, an LGBT homelessness organization. AND, she understands intersectionality (*faint*):
  • I have a lot of thoughts about the Trump Tapes. But, one of the most troubling aspects to me is that some of those scolding him on the right are missing the point when they seem more concerned about his word choice ("pussy") than about the on-the-job culture of sexual assault/harassment he created for, probably, decades.  
Like perhaps many of you, I'm sick of Trump. I hate that he's dominated new cycles for more than a year. He is a deplorable person with deplorable thoughts, "policies," and behaviors. And, I wonder what important stories we're not hearing because we have to continually react to this bumbling man-child.

At the same time, I see many feminists getting articles published and, importantly, shared all over the Internet, taking down Trump. Feminists are providing the mainstream with a language to talk about, and contemplate, someone who in many ways is the embodiment of everything many of us fight against.

I guess, to look on the bright side.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Friday Open Thread

Welp, we have arrived at another Friday.  For all those in the southeastern part of the US, I hope you are somewhere safe from Hurricane Matthew.

In other news, I've been watching Supergirl now that it's available on Netflix. Who else is watching this?  It's surprisingly good and feminist (my expectations for these things are always low). Anyway, I'm thinking of posting recaps of the show if that would be of interest to people, or I guess for my own amusement.

Should I? Should I not? Leave a comment and let me know OR if you're a shy lurker, vote in the poll on the left sidebar of the blog.

Perhaps because I've had a busy week and I'm slap-happy, but I can. not. stop. laughing at the Supergirl fan video below (NSFW: profanity):

Ermagherd, still laughing.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Quote of the Day

Via a pretty good Rolling State article on her, Kate McKinnon talks about portraying Hillary Clinton on SNL:
"Before performing that scene [with Clinton appearing on SNL], McKinnon had never met Clinton, and didn't know how the candidate would take her portrayal. 'Here's a person who's effecting change on a worldwide stage, and my job is doing voices,' she says of the encounter. 'Why are we in the same room? This doesn't seem right, but there we were.' Luckily, Clinton was more than game to play along. 'She was just so grand, but also so warm and sincere,' McKinnon says. 'And her timing was great.'"
On the possibility of electing Clinton, she also says,"How hard are we gonna cry? I could cry just thinking about how hard we're gonna cry when it happens."

So, she's funny, talented, and a Hillary supporter.


Wednesday, October 5, 2016

On Small Town White Rage

 [content note: violence, misogyny, racism]


(I literally just screamed this out loud)
Is there any ego more fragile than that of a white male bigot with unexamined privilege?

Via The Washington Post:
"When Frank Linkmeyer unveils his Aurora Farmers Fair parade float each year, his creation is never short on shock value.

This year, amid a controversy-filled presidential contest, Linkmeyer didn't disappoint.

He opted for a morbid execution scene showing Hillary Clinton strapped into an electric chair, flanked by the Grim Reaper, a pastor and a familiar-looking executioner: Republican presidential candidate Donald J. Trump."

So, what's up with so many men feeling comfortable about expressing their violent fantasies about Hillary Clinton? You know, I grew up in a small town similar to the one in this article and the palpable rage many small-town men have (although certainly not limited to small-towns) toward uppity women is something that quite strongly informed my feminist sensibilities.

Whether they're whining about not being able to have racist mascots, being bitter about the fact that the local high school has girls sports now, or acting shocked and condescending when women engage them in debate on social media (but it's a man talking! don't you know he's automatically right?), many such men take it as a fundamental fact of life that they actually are superior, intellectually and physically, to all women and all people of color.

And, that assumption really isn't questioned in their daily lives because they encounter so little pushback on it.  I imagine that, for many men with this mentality, the prospect of our first female President is.... quite a blow to their supremacist ego, in a way that it was when President Obama was elected.

Nonetheless, during the primaries, we saw both the far left and the far right sort of fetishize "ordinary Americans" and "regular people," who were largely coded as white working class people, in contrast to "the establishment," "elites," and "low-information voters" (coded as, primarily, women of color).  When I read accounts like this parade, it's clear that the far (I guess what I think of as the "socialist"/Sanders/Stein) left has offered no workable plan for mobilizing a diverse working class in which racial and gender hostilities are a very real, visceral thing that women and people of color have to contend with

(And the far right.... doesn't even pretend to try. Trump argle bargles his way to, mostly, stoking rage and violent fantasies among his white working class supporters).

A common critique rendered of socialism, of course, is that it centers class with the expectation that members of the working class can/should somehow, magically mobilize together in spite of differing identities and lived experiences. Although, beyond telling us that various other bigotries are a construct of capitalism, it offers us little in the way of why, tangibly, "we" should find it appealing to mobilize with violent misogynistic fantasists other than .... that we're all part of a shitty system.

Is that shared bond enough? 

I don't think so.

When people took issue with the parade guy's float, here's what the dude who made it said:
"'It’s all in fun. Laughter is the best medicine in life and this country needs more laughter — and the people that are offended by it, I’m sorry. Don't come to the parade next time.'"
Some city officials expressed disappointment with the float. But then there's this guy, also part of the small-town America establishment (which is very much also its own bigoted thing):
"But at least one local official — at-large city councilman Patrick Schwing — said Aurora has nothing to apologize for and blamed the controversy on 'a lot of whining and crying.'
He said people 'can't walk down the street' anymore without offending someone. Schwing also dismissed the idea that the float might send the wrong message to children and minorities, before raising his voice and declaring: 'I'm not a racist!'

'Nobody hates blacks, and yet Obama is telling us we hate blacks because we're white, and it's bulls---,' he said.

'I don't see how there's any thing racist involved with the float,' he added. 'I didn't even see the the little black thing at the front that people are bitching about until afterwards. Nobody even noticed it.'"
A lot has been written this election seen about white working class angst.  Working class people have legitimate grievances, indeed, but many working class whites believe that their grievances are race-based. That is, that they are oppressed by being called racist. My intent here is not to claim that all white working class people are racist and sexist (I know many who are not). But, when the far left ignores what they call "identity politics" in favor of only class-based analyses, they doom their own movement and they fail to give white people adequate tools for having deeper, more nuanced understandings of race and white privilege.

These are some of the very real reasons many women and people of color, even working class ones, are hesitant to join a broader working class movement.  I hate to harp on Jill Stein because, irrelevant. But when Jill Stein constantly attacks Hillary Clinton on Twitter as being an establishment shill, she's attacking the person many of us see as one of the few politicians who understands these reasons.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

"I Can't Think Straight" Tuesday

I am the worst at titling blog posts, so please bear with me. For today, I want to celebrate the film that is I Can't Think Straight.

In this gem of a movie, which is a semi-autobiographical account of director Shamim Sarif's life, Christian Palestinian Tala falls in love with another woman, Leyla, who is a (100% adorable) British Indian Muslim woman. Tala is in the midst of planning her wedding (to a man). Leyla's family, meanwhile, is on her case about not being married or attending religious services often enough. So, the two have some cultural and familial stuff serving as barriers to a relationship (that are also, consequently, working in favor of building the tension).

 (Spoiler Alert) Now, I will say that this film is easily one of my top ten favorites featuring lesbian/bisexual women, and not just because it has a happy ending and nobody dies.  I put it in my top ten because, and I mean this in the best possible way, it has one of my favorite of favorite fanfic tropes: "accidental" but fortuitous bed sharing between two characters who have high sexual tension with one another.

Take, for instance, their first kiss.

In the scene below, Tala and Leyla are away on a trip together (because um?) and, on this trip, they are sharing exactly one room with exactly one bed (because um?).  Nevermind that Tala's family is super-rich and they could probably spring for a double. And nevermind that same-sex hetero adult pal bed-sharing has literally not happened in a movie since Planes, Trains, and Automobiles (disclaimer: unfounded claim).

What matters is that at one point, Tala is listening to music in a little robe and begins dancing.  Leyla, meanwhile, is "reading a book." Scare quotes entirely necessary, as you will see. Tala then beckons the shy Leyla to join her in the dancing. In their one room that has one bed that they are to later share. All of which is 100% heterosexual? (I don't know, is it? Help me out hetero ladies).

ANYWAY, Leyla rejects Tala's advance for a hot second with a half-hearted, "Oh, I have absolutely no sense of rhythm."  But then a millisecond later,  she is all of us: getting her ass in gear and dancing with Tala. Because listen ladies, brother sestras, and those who identify outside the binary, when Tala beckons you to dance, you fucking dance (but only if that's your thing, and in affirming, mutually consensual ways, of course).

See for yourselves (clip contains plot spoilers and is NSFW, probs):

LOL @ "But some of my best friends are Lebanese!"