Friday, September 30, 2016

Felix Friday

Confession: Felix is one of my favorite characters on Orphan Black. (My favorite being Cosima, obvs, followed closely by Helena).

ANYWAY, I adore Felix because, rather than falling into the Sassy Gay Male Friend trope, he is a loyal brother sestra to Sarah and the clones.  Unlike some (*cough* Will and Grace *cough* Modern Family) gay male characters, Felix gets to be a somewhat-femme guy who also gets to have actual sex with other men.

He is also an artiste who makes art wearing assless chaps (or maybe it's an apron, I can't tell, I should probably have another look) and on a more general note he brings dark humor to a show that is, oftentimes, quite dark.

But most of all, what I like about guys like Felix is the total lack of fragile, posturing masculinity.

He is who he is and he has zero fucks to give if the Erma Gerds (he he) of the world would pass out on their fainting couches if they knew a man was making art on the wall of his loft whilst wearing an assless chap/apron. He invests his fucks to give in caring about his sestras and a little girl who is special to him. That is, his chosen family.

Felix has priorities.

Also, a belated congrats to Tatiana Maslany's Emmy win for her work in Orphan Black! So well-deserved.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

A Jessica Jones Ship


The Mary Sue is dead to me.

Okay okay, I'm KIDDING.

In the above-linked piece, it is argued that Jessica and Trish should not have a past, present, or future romance in Jessica Jones. Teresa Jusino writes:
How much of the interest in Jessica and Trish being a couple is a genuine desire for ["LGBTQIA"] representation, and how much of it is people wanting to bring their fan fiction to life and watch two women kiss at the expense of a different type of very important relationship? Why can’t women just be really good friends, indeed? Does every single couple that care for each other deeply need to be shipped? Do Sherlock and Watson need to develop sexual feelings for each other? Is romantic love the only kind of love that’s valid on television?
First things first, I agree with sentiment that it is important to portray non-romantic forms of love as valid and important in TV/film. That was the premise, in fact, of my previous Friendship Friday post about some of my favorite female (platonic) friendship pairings.

I would go further, though, and argue that romantic love is indeed not the only kind of love that's valid on television, particularly for women in relation to other women.  It seems, in fact, that women are often portrayed as love interests for men, rivals, or platonic friends.

So, while I wouldn't demand that "every single couple" that cares for each be written into canon as a romantic rather than platonic relationship, I would be deeply uncomfortable with begrudging fans for engaging in the act of shipping that couple as a romance.

Of course Sherlock and Watson don't need to develop sexual feelings for each other.  Has that ever been the argument, anyway? (Or, maybe it has been? Not my ship).  Rather, given the TV/film industry's lackluster representation of same-sex romantic couples, I think we have room to acknowledge both the importance of platonic love while also giving fans space, through shipping and the creation/consumption of fanworks, to depart from platonic representations that appeal to them as well.

We may not own copyrights and canons, but interpretations are ours.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Well That Seems Reasonable

[Content note: Misogyny, trans bigotry].

Rod Dreher, who we already know for his deplorable opinion of trans people, is now taking issue with a college that... provides free tampons and pads in university restrooms.(*)

Do you ever get the feeling that some cis white men think that if they don't need something, then nobody should have access to it?

Attribute it to what you will, but what a massive empathy gap.

That goes for abortion. Menstrual supplies. Safe spaces where his views aren't welcome. Content notes preceding content he doesn't understand or care about. Birth control. Gender affirmation surgery.  All of these, many a cisgender white male conservative sees as decadent wickedness that have no place in their preferred utopian enclave. Motto: I don't need it, nobody should have it! Even if others getting it in no way impacts my life!

Can you imagine what it would be to be a woman and/or LGBT person in this Benedict Option-esque society?

What an incoherent logic system.

Imagine: to simultaneously favor forced birth while opposing and mocking the provision of supplies one needs as a result of having a reproductive cycle.

It's the mindset of the men who think that men like themselves are human. Everyone else, an aberration. A supporting cast member to his important hero story. Except, like all privileged white men with unexamined privilege, when he finds out he's not the world's central hero, he believes he's its most important victim.

*I have not embedded a link to Dreher's blog, but rather to a different politics and culture blog whose authors have views that more align with my own. In light of the changes to AfterEllen, I've been thinking more about how many commercial Internet models reward hateful clickbait authors who are financially rewarded for drawing visitors to their site. It presents a dilemma, of course, as one (n=me) wants to counter such speech.

I'm going to try to minimize my complicity in directing traffic to such sites by (a) no longer directly linking to them (perhaps I'll do screenshots or something instead), and (b) not gratuitously calling attention to something unless I am also in some way countering it.  Any "share" of a deplorable opinion that doesn't also counter it or say it's awful is a promotion of it, which, I believe is partly responsible for our current Donald Trump situation. We must do more than use our social media networks to merely say, "Hey this person said this thing, oh no!"

Full disclaimer that I'm not perfect. I'm just trying to be more mindful to minimize my complicity in the Internet's toxic clickbait model.  /Welp this addendum was basically a whole entire other blog post, BYEEEE!

Friday, September 23, 2016

Friday ShieldSlash

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Who is watching this?

Now, it is true that troubled, angsty female characters (Skye) and nerdy female characters (Jemma) are like lesbian catnip (n = me).

But, to me, Agent Melinda May (Ming-Na Wen) is the true hero of Shield.  May (and it's always May, never her first name, Melinda) is the type of woman who certain people, like non-feminists, would call "a bitch." Her main "sin" being that she doesn't smile readily and certainly not on any man's (or hell, anyone's) command. And now, don't get me wrong, May is not perfect. She has a fair amount of angst. It's just more reserved (I'd say, "mature") than, say, Skye's external, obvious troubles.

Anyway, May is a pilot, she's mostly in control of things, and she's the best fighter on the team. In a just world, she would be the leader of SHIELD, and Coulson would be her second-in-command (ahem, if that).

On my best days, I like to think that I'm a "May."

In reality, I'm usually more likely a Skye-Jemma hybrid of nerdangst.  So, on that note, I'll revel in this fan vid. (Pairing: May/Bobbi; Although, that May v. May battle was epic)

Thursday, September 22, 2016

MTV Thursday

Just out of curiosity, how do the kids these days watch/find out about music videos?

I listen to new music mostly through different streaming services, but rarely do I seek out music videos. I grew up in the era of Music Television (MTV) where the station literally mostly played music videos in the early 1980s. (Hey, remember video jockey Kennedy? She's now a conservative Republitarian - that's my made-up word for Republican/Libertarian, or maybe other people say it too, whatever).

ANYway, my point today is that although I have heard the song numerous times, I did not realize that Rihanna's music video for "Te Amo" is.... kind of amazing. And by kind of, I mean a lot. And it's like 6 years old!

The important thing is that I am definitely here for it now. Oh yes. And by that I mean I've only watched it about eleventymillion times in the past week. Is it possible to become more gay when you're already really gay? Yes. I believe so.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Damn: Trish Bendix Writes AfterEllen Eulogy

AfterEllen, the popular lesbian and bisexual pop culture site, is shutting down. Or, at least, is going to be significantly changing. [NOTE: See update]

Editor in Chief Trish Bendix wrote a eulogy yesterday on tumblr, noting that the company that owns AfterEllen wouldn't let her post her piece at AfterEllen:
 "Here are the facts: Evolve Media purchased AfterEllen from Viacom two years ago. They gave us two fiscal years to become their LGBT property and profit in that space, and they found we are not as profitable as moms and fashion. And, yes, “they” are mainly white heterosexual men, which is important to note because not only is this the story for us, but for a lot of other properties—large-scale media outlets, lesbian bars out-priced by neighborhoods they helped establish, housing in queer meccas like Portland that is being turned into condos and AirBNBs. 
 At the very same time, queer women and culture is being celebrated on the Emmys, in the legalization of both mothers being included on their newborn’s birth certificate, and our namesake, Ellen DeGeneres, being one of the most well-known, well-liked and undeniably profitable television and lifestyle personalities of our generation.

Somewhere, there’s a disconnect. AfterEllen is just one of the homes lesbian, bisexual and queer women will have lost in the last decade. It was a refuge, a community, a virtual church for so many. I’m not sure that some people outside of us can really ever understand that.

Evolve has decided to keep the site and its archives alive for now, with a promise of periodically publishing freelance pieces in the future. I am not sure what that will look like, as Friday is also my last day, after 10 years of contributing writing and eventually coming on to work full time as a blog editor, then managing editor, and, for the last two years, as Editor in Chief."
With all of the usual disclaimers that I haven't agreed with all of the site's content or moderation practices, this space has been important for so many women during its 14 years in existence, including to me. Participating in The L Word forums circa 2004 were some of my first experiences interacting with an online community of queer women.  I even had a completely awkward (on my part) meetup with founder Sarah Warn when she was visiting the city in which I live, and which she probably 100% doesn't remember, LOL. But, I drank too much and we talked about my shitty ex, Desert Hearts, and how/why she created the site.

It's a bit unfathomable to me that the site will be changing or will no longer exist in its current incarnation.

Through its interviews with lesbian, bisexual, and trans (LBT) actors and those portraying them on TV/film and through its recaps, reviews, and different contests (like the AfterEllen Hot 100), I think the site has had an extremely important (and perhaps overlooked) impact in terms of letting the TV/film industry know both (a) that LBT women exist as a fanbase, and (b) we care A LOT about how we are represented in TV/film.

Without being privy to financial circumstances that Bendix refers to with the respect to the company that owns AfterEllen, my subjective opinion as a user is that the site declined significantly in terms of user experience, something I noticed mostly in the past couple of years. I'm not at all referring to the content of articles, but rather, to what seemed to be a greatly-increased commercial presence. When visiting, I always got the sense that first and foremost a company was behind the site wanting to make money off of users, and that sense was almost completely overwhelming when visiting.

I understand the importance of ads being necessary to generate revenue when one is running a commercial site. Yet, a visit to the site to read an article often entailed: seeing a banner ad, seeing ads on the sidebar, having ads on the sidebar with embedded videos that would automatically play, having a pop up ad with video show up once you clicked on an article, and having a pop-up ad play audio/video. Like I said, overwhelming. The ad content was overly-intrusive, made the site slow, and it distracted from the substantive content, so I know my visits to the site definitely decreased over the years.

But, I also think sites ought to pay writers, particularly if they are commercial sites. And, the revenue to do that has to come from somewhere.

With the shuttering of The Toast earlier this year (which I also find heartbreaking, and which also seems like it was done at least in part for financial reasons), the LBT and feminist blogospheres will have to continue to explore models of sustainability - models that pay people and in which the user/reader experience is not eroded. Readers seem to not like paid subscription models. Although, I know other sites (like Shakesville) use a donation model.

Personally, I would love to blog/write about LGBT pop culture and feminism on a full-time paying basis, but it's difficult to conceive of doing that in a way that would pay the bills. Hence, Fannie's Room, something I do in my free time. (YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR, SUCKERS!)  And, there's almost a Catch-22 component to it: if you work full time at a non-blogging job, you have less energy to write during your free time. If you work full-time at a blogging job, you probably have more trouble paying the bills.

I guess my point is that I don't have a simple answer. I'm sad to hear this news about AfterEllen. It seems like the end of an era, in some ways, and I hope we can find a way to collectively fill the void. What is after AfterEllen?

[UPDATE: An Emrah Kovacoglu, General Manager of TotallyHer Media, posted at AE today that the site isn't shutting down, but that Bendix has been fired as Editor, that people would still be able to access content, and that they hope to work with freelancers to generate new content. This claim aligns with what Bendix said in her tumblr.

In the comment threads, multiple current writers for the site have said that this information had not previously been shared with them, and that the editorial change was abrupt. The way TotallyHer has handled this situation has led to distrust within the community that AE would be now (mis)managed by straight men and eventually shut down when not profitable enough. I will certainly be monitoring developments.]

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Sarah Paulson Did Something Incredible

At the Emmys. Aside from winning one, I mean, which she did for her portrayal of Marcia Clark in The People v. O.J. Simpson.

She stood up in front of the world on a very large platform and apologized for a wrong that the media, and an unquestioning audience (herself included), had committed via its cheap portrayal of a woman once very prominently in the public eye.  She said:
"The responsibility of playing a real person is an enormous one. You want to get it right, not for you, but for them. The more I learned about the real Marcia Clark, not the two-dimensional cut-out I saw in the news, but the complicated, whip-smart, mother of two who woke up every day, put both feet on the floor and dedicated herself to writing an unconscionable wrong, the loss of two innocents, Ron Goldman and Nicole Brown, I had to recognize that I, along with the rest of the world, had been superficial and careless in my judgment. And I am glad to be able to stand here today in front of everyone and tell you I'm sorry."
I hope that this moment was validating for Marcia Clark (she attended the Emmys as Paulson's "plus one").

AND ALSO, I hope we may all be so lucky as to have someone in our lives who celebrates our successes the way Holland Taylor celebrates Sarah Paulson's:

Monday, September 19, 2016

Who Ya Gonna Call


[content note: online harassment]

Here's an interesting concept:
"Are you a female journalist who has been subject to online harassment and abuse? If so, this one’s for you. An organization dedicated to combating online harassment is seeking 100 women writers and journalists to participate in a social media monitoring program called the Pilot 100. The initiative follows on from a year-long study by the organization TrollBusters, which was founded by Michelle Ferrier, an associate professor at Ohio University’s E.W. Scripps School of Journalism.

TrollBusters—whose tagline is 'Online pest control for women writers'—has spent the past year studying instances of harassment reported by journalists through its website. The group also is developing tools to monitor harassment in real-time and providing assistance to targets of online abuse."
The TrollBusters site provides an incident response form, where users can report harassment received on Twitter (for either themselves or other users).  The response involves sending positive messages to the person under attack. 

In the midst of an online attack, it can be validating to receive positive, supporting messages.  It, of course, doesn't punish the attackers or take away their ability to continue to harass. But, I think such a response can be a helpful part of what, in order to be effective, will necessarily have to be a multi-faceted response to online harassment.

Other critical components would include (a) platforms developing better tools, human resources, and policies to manage harassment and (b) the criminal justice system adequately responding to harassment when threats and defamation are involved. In the absence of such components, we - users of the Internet - will have to continue managing this problem ourselves in more grassroots, creative ways.

For the past week, for instance, one user has taken an obsession to my blog. He first used a neo-nazi-esque handle and then later left an anti-gay slur directed toward another user. Like many a harasser, once banned, he claimed I just couldn't handle his impressive intellect and that I have nothing of substance to say. (But XENA posts tho!)

He began flitting from IP address to IP address, also changing his username in order to sockpuppet. After I required manual approval of comments, he continued to post comments (seen only to me) admitting to and taking pride in being part of the "alt-right." His admitted goal was to "frustrate" my readers and cause me to change my blogging/comment moderation behavior. (Side note; Has the rise of Trump emboldened this type of harasser? Many anti-LGBT and racist commenters I've interacted with pre-2016 often expressed a more.... subtle bigotry).

In final temper tantrum he called me a "loser" (hmm, sounds familiar) who can't "handle" "real world interactions." Now here, we must also understand that the online harasser is usually a miserable person. Imagine spending your free time deliberately trying to irritate people, rather than spending time with loved ones and doing things that are.... actually cool? Many online harassers have the aim of irritating others and then berating people for taking actions that stop the irritation.

That approach is a key tool in the online abuser's toolbox. They poke and poke, seeing what they can get away with, and then when they find a boundary you don't let them transgress, they see the act of setting a boundary as weakness. With the exception, I guess, of establishing giant walls to keep out scary scary immigrants, the harasser sees the establishment of boundaries itself as proof that the boundary-maker is a loser.

Which brings me to the observation that the harasser's real issue is not that boundaries are established, but that he doesn't get to establish which boundaries for which people are allowed to exist.

That is the entitled mentality that solutions to online harassment will have to address through policy, technology, and human effort.

Every person who runs a forum will have to decide for themselves what conversations and content to allow. For me, when I run into what I call the "Aggrieved Abuser" (think: "You fag! Wait, how dare you ban me you weakling!") type of online harasser, I will often allow a comment or two to demonstrate that these are the deplorables* that many Internet users actually have to deal with. And then, if the person continues commenting, I will institute a ban to secondarily show that such viewpoints are not welcome here.

In this instance, I can take action to disallow certain content. However, the responses to online harassment will have to be tailored to account for the nuances and features of each platform.

It has been widely acknowledged, even in mainstream media sources, that online harassment is a problem. While a helpful first step, we also need more people thinking about how to tangibly address the issue. Kudos to TrollBusters for taking that next step.

*Deplorable as a noun is happening. Hillary has made it so.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Blog Commenting Note

I've temporarily changed the commenting settings so that comments have to be approved before they appear.

It's been Troll Week here in Fannie's Room. We have an avowed neo-nazi and alt-right shit-stain who's become a little obsessed.

I'll provide a status update if and when the policy changes, but in the meantime, anticipate a delay in me approving comments.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Just a Reminder

Feeling down? Anxious? Irritable?

Welp, you're in luck, because today you get to remember that the movie Carol exists in the world.  I mean, imagine if you will for just a moment being looked at the way Carol looks at Therese around 5:10. Imagine Carol asking you to move into her new apartment after being on-off again for like a hot second.


(Content note/promise: video contains NSFW parts)

I need a dry martini with an olive. Let's go to Lezzies STAT and get flung out of space.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Stranger Things, Redux

Now that I've finished watching Stranger Things, I thought I'd revisit my initial thoughts about the series.
  • I previously expressed disdain for Steve, the "Teenage Jerk Who Coerces Uncertain Female Virgin Into Sex." He is still that, but somewhat redeems himself by helping fight the monster from the Upside Down, I guess.
  • I also criticized the 80's tendency for films in the "boyhood pal" genre to portray boys being misogynistic. This topic is probably deserving of its own post, but there I was particularly reminiscing about cetain John Hughes movies that have whiffs of "nerdy guy engages in rape culture behavior but it's okay because he's a pathetic nerd" subtext to them. I was also thinking of The Sandlot, which technically is early '90s, but in which the worst insult EVAR was for boys to be told they played "like a girl."  
Anyway, Stranger Things' cadre of '80s boy pals eventually came to a grudging respect for, at least, one girl: who they called "El.". Although one primarily because he had a crush on her and the others primarily because she had supernatural powers and could kill them if they were assholes. Don't get me wrong. Eleven is a cool character. But I'm interested in her story, not the story of how a group of boys relate to her.
  • I noted previously that '80s bullies were such jerks. Yep, they were. It's nice that Steve helped with the monster and, due to his reformed personality, got the girl-prize Nancy in the end! 
  • Oh, yeah. I should have also mentioned that another '80s trope that can go to hell is female characters being treated as prizes for male characters, like the also-rapey Revenge of the Nerds series. Ideally, Nancy would focus on her studies for the rest of her high school career and not have a boyfriend. OR IN THE ALTERNATIVE, date neither Steve nor Jonathon but some other guy or gal. But actually guy, because it's the 1980s.
  • Eleven going Dark Willow was immensely satisfying. 
  • It was established in the comment sections of my previous post that the word "douchebag' might actually be historically accurate, since it was said in E.T.  Don't say you never learned anything from Fannie's Room!
  • Oh, Winona Ryder. Her character was totally gaslit, of course, and she was right the whole time. Because of course she was. It's the 1980s. And doesn't anyone know that the living ignore the strange and unusual, while she herself is.... strange and unusual?? The point is, when a 1980s Winona Ryder character says something, you better fucking open your trapper keeper and take notes.
  • WHAT ABOUT BARB??  If Stranger Things were truly an 80's series, Barb would have ditched the glasses, saddled up to the sewing machine to make herself a fancy prom dress, and ended up with Steve. But since this is really 2016, she apparently just died and barely anyone in her life noticed. Because that's how 2016 rolls. The toast can't never be bread again.
Discuss this, or other stuff!

Wednesday, September 14, 2016


James Poniewozik, writing in The New York Times, has some concerns about the plight of both real and fictional straight white men.

He writes:
"This fall, broadcast television will turn its attention to the battle of the straight white man to assert his masculinity in an increasingly alien world. And you won’t need to wait until the first presidential debate to see it.

The male protagonists of several new sitcoms are not as belligerent as the male protagonist of the election. (A possible exception: the one who wields a broadsword.) But they are besieged. At home and in the office, they find themselves struggling to prove that they matter in a world they no longer exclusively run." (emphasis added)
I see.

It's an admission of sorts that disaffected hetero white men aren't so much being oppressed, and more (and merely) that shows revolving around people other than them exist. And, I suppose when we have a lady also running for President it just begs an important question: Do straight white men even matter if they don't run everything?

I mean. Somebody has to be the courageous truth-teller who just comes out and asks it.

What does it mean to be a man when being a man used to automatically mean being superior to women?  If women are *shudder* equal to men, and queers are equal to straights, do straight men even .... exist at all anymore as a category when they have been defined for so long as opposites?

I mean, there just haven't been enough stories told throughout history and on screen about straight white men. Now is the time to demand more navel-gazing about what it means to be a man in society, what it means to be dominant, what it means to have oppressed other people.  You know, can we really blame the movers and shakers in Hollywood for thinking that even MOAR white male stories need to be told in the world?

Okay, okay.

I can't keep the sarcasm up.

Because, could any story be more .... boring than stories about men with unexamined privilege "examining" the new world order? Do or will actual straight white men even relate to these stories at all, or are will the stories be the same-old same-old sitcom "comedy gold" of "Men are irresponsible man-babies who must be kept in line by their nagging mommy-wives, but with a twist in that the mommy-wife is also the breadwinner"? Are shows about gender roles basically insulting to everyone?

Feel my judgment, fools who are greenlighting such projects. (moving GIF at link)

Anyway, director Lexi Alexander responded in a way that proves she's one of the best people in the TV/film industry to follow on Twitter:

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Today in Definitely-Not-Deplorable

"Republican vice presidential nominee Mike Pence spoke out against Hillary Clinton's description of half of Trump supporters as in 'the basket of deplorables.' 'They are not a basket of anything,' Pence said on Sept. 10. 'They are Americans and they deserve your respect.'"

He says, standing behind the podium of FRC Action, the legislative arm of anti-LGBT hate group Family Research Council, at whose Values Voters summit he spoke over the weekend, exactly three months after the deadliest terrorist attack against LGBT people in US history.

Election 2016 in a nutshell, folks.

"Both sides,""worse to call someone a bigot than to be one," etc.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Conservatives Try to Monopolize Values

So, Trump spoke at the definitely-not-deplorable Values Voter Summit this weekend, where he and various speakers like that definitely-not-deplorable Duck Dynasty guy and Kirk Cameron spoke for about a hundred-odd minutes ("and I do mean odd") about definitely-not-deplorable "bedrock" conservative values.

You know, real intellectual firepower. Ker-pow!

Mostly what I want to say today is that the phrase "values voter" has long chapped my hide. It suggests that those who share the values of this summit hold values. Which, sure. They do. But, the implication is that those who do not hold these same values do not hold values at all.  After all, they are "values voters." Everyone else votes for.... other reasons.

When, no. We hold values. They just happen to be different ones.

In conversations with some conservatives, I've found that they often genuinely don't get that - which seems remarkably self-centered. It's as though, if a person doesn't believe the way the conservative believes, then that person can't possibly believe in anything at all! 

Anyway. The summit. Not many female-chattel speakers in the lineup, I noticed.

Like I always say. Where there's regular, good old-fashioned male-supremacist values, we'll also find some homophobia, transphobia, Christian supremacy, and thinly-veiled white supremacy, all brought to you by millionaires masquerading as aww shucks gee whiz folksy folk ordinary people.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Brittana Friday

So, I stopped watching Glee sometime around Season 4. I have no problem with late 20-somethings playing high school students. After all, I came of age when Gabrielle Carteris convincingly played a high school student at the age of 29 on 90210.

In all actuality, I am fine with TV shows that let their characters stay in high school (or college or their shitty job) indefinitely, like The Simpsons.  That environment is probably a big reason why the show works.  Yes, I'm basically saying I don't care if a character "grows" or "moves on with their life."  If a show is good how it is, it seems better to keep that going than to force characters into new environments that fuck with the magic.

BUT MOST IMPORTANTLY, can't we just enjoy Naya Rivera dancing in a white suit today? Post-Labor Day be damned!

In a hurry? Fast forward to 1:50. Thank me later.


I also realize that Heather Morris does some impressive dancing in this video, so props to that!  I literally never dance in my head like that when I go to the dentist.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Time Reports on Internet Harassment

Joel Stein at Time wrote a recent piece on Internet harassment. I'd like to highlight just a few points.

One, the title ("How Trolls Are Ruining the Internet"). I've mentioned this before, but I really hope we eventually move away from calling harassment "trolling." Trolling connotes harmless kids in basements "doing it for the lulz."  It seems to minimize what's actually happening.

Imagine, for instance, some rando walking up to you on the street, then following you around daily, and slinging insults at you all the while. Imagine that being described as "trolling" rather than the more apt: really fucking creepy harassment and stalking.

Two, and related, calling people "trolls" detracts from the reality that, no, this isn't some harmless kid (often) or cartoon doing the harassment, it's actual people - actual grown-ass adults - who are actually engaging in the harassment. From the article:
“'Trolls are portrayed as aberrational and antithetical to how normal people converse with each other. And that could not be further from the truth,'' says Whitney Phillips, a literature professor at Mercer University and the author of This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things: Mapping the Relationship Between Online Trolling and Mainstream Culture. 'These are mostly normal people who do things that seem fun at the time that have huge implications. You want to say this is the bad guys, but it’s a problem of us.'”
As for motivation, we get mixed messages. While some claim that they engage in harassment "for the lulz" or just because they can, others seem to see it as both empowering and a vital form of truth-telling. Those who "troll" also seem unhappy in their personal lives. Stein highlights a man named Jeffrey Marty:
"A 40-year-old dad and lawyer who lives outside Tampa, [Marty] says he has become addicted to the attention. 'I was totally ruined when I started this. My ex-wife and I had just separated. She decided to start a new, more exciting life without me,' he says. Then his best friend, who he used to do pranks with as a kid, killed himself. Now he’s got an illness that’s keeping him home. 
Marty says his trolling has been empowering. 'Let’s say I wrote a letter to the New York Times saying I didn’t like your article about Trump. They throw it in the shredder. On Twitter I communicate directly with the writers. It’s a breakdown of all the institutions.'"
It is said that "hurt people hurt people." I'm not going to go too deep into the psychology of this behavior, but it does seem like harassers often work out their shit (unfairly) on other people online.
Internet harassment is extremely dysfunctional and anti-social, yet we (users, harassers, platform companies, law enforcement, pundits) widely treat it as just a "cost" people have to "pay" if they want to use the Internet. Trolls gonna troll, if you can't handle it, don't use the Internet!

Anyway, Stein proposes no solutions to the problem, just mostly adds to the growing discourse of people diagnosing a problem.  Although, he does briefly mention the new-ish (response) of flooding harassment targets with positive messaging (as folks did with respect to Leslie Jones).

(In case you're wondering, Time didn't host a comment section following the article, which seems to be standard for the publication).

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Another Men's Issue for MRAs to Solve*: Workplace Feedback!

Ugh, check out this lede, from Fortune:
"You might want to rethink the way you give feedback—particularly when it comes to women. 
A group of researchers led by Margarita Mayo, a professor of leadership at IE Business School in Madrid, found that women are far more sensitive to peer feedback than men are."
Gosh, it sounds like women are overly-delicate ninnies who simply can't handle honest, tough talk in the workplace.

Yet, things get interesting when we keep reading:
"The study involved 221 MBA students—169 men and 52 women—who were assigned to “learning teams” of five or six members. At the end of each trimester, the members of each team rated each other on leadership skills. Looking at the feedback over time, Mayo found that while all the students started off by rating themselves higher than they were rated by their peers, women adapted to their team members’ perceptions of them much more quickly than men did.

For example, if at the beginning of the experiment, a female MBA student gave herself a rating of ‘5’ on understanding the class materials, while her peers gave her a ‘3’, she would then become much more likely to give herself a lower rating—such as a 3.5 or a 4—than a male student would. (He would also lower his rating, but not by much—maybe a 4.5.)" (Emphasis added)
Oh. So then another possible lede for this same exact story could have been:
You might want to rethink giving feedback in the workplace - particularly when it comes to men. 
A group of researchers found that men are far less likely to internalize and adapt to peer feedback than women are. Other studies find that men are more likely than women to believe that they are more competent than they actually are and to believe that they are more competent than women. 
Peers and supervisors might want to brainstorm strategies for assisting male workers to become more humble and reality-based about their own competence level so as to not replicate destructive behavior patterns and gender dynamics that have been ongoing in workplaces for many years.
Wonder why that's not the story.  Seems like a pretty big one to me.

Stories like these fit into a larger context of anti-feminists whinging about the so-called feminization of workplaces and schools, as well as railing against "PC culture."  You can already pre-emptively hear Internet men saying that women just need to toughen up if they want to make it in the working world argle bargle. If women can't handle feedback, it's their own problem!  That the status quo of men being more likely than women to be incompetently over-confident likely (a) primarily benefits men, and (b) makes a workplace worse off doesn't seem to matter.

People will whine about all of the special treatment and accommodations in the workplace that women require.  That the feedback-giving process also needs to be changed based on how men receive feedback, since it seems they are less likely to.... receive it, is rendered invisible.

(*In reference to the title, I'm sure MRAs will be all over this! Workplaces should also adapt to men's unique needs and personalities, right?! ..... Oh. No? I mean, I'm sure there's an Internet feminist who needs harassing, so.)

Friday, September 2, 2016

What the Fresh Hell Did I Just Watch

Just Lucy Lawless in a show before she was famous.

This comedy .... or whatever, is actually kind of sad. Just like Elisabeth Shue mostly being used as a silent prop for the male actors in Back to the Future II, I just have to say: what a fuckin' waste.  But then again, I'm not particularly entertained by frat-like groups of dipshit dudes ambling about in bad wigs and shit-stained whitey-tighties, and who are mysteriously both dildo-brained and superior to women.

But maybe that's just me!

Gawd, the TV/film industry must be especially horrendous for up-and-coming women.