Sunday, December 31, 2017

A 2017 Fan Video Send-Off

Why yes, I do want the last post of the year to be a fan video set to the tune of "Fight Song."


Friday, December 29, 2017

The 2017 Roundup

Welp, 2017 was a year, wasn't it?

I usually do an annual roundup post around the New Year, but I expressed a lot of my thoughts already, in relation to the Apocaversery, over at Shakesville.

There, I outlined what I see as three important tasks for the resistance, going forward: acknowledging that many people in the US are motivated by bigotry, which is as to be expected, given that bigotry was built into our political system from the get-go; we must support candidates who understand and can speak to both economic and "identity politics" grievances; and we must resist the normalization of Trump's, and the Republican Party's, ongoing cruelties and danger to democracy.

To my first point, I've begun a personal project of reading at least one biography, in order, of every US president, as well as biographies of those adjacent to the president such as their wives and the people they enslaved.  It's slow going, mostly because I'm also reading other books in-between, but stay tuned and I'll post any insights I have as I make further progress. (I'm about to begin James Monroe).

In terms of my writing, 2017 was the most prolific year I've had since 2012. I wouldn't say I've had more free time to write, but rather, I've carved out time in my life to write due to ongoing political and current events.

The top five Fannie's Room posts during 2017, in terms of page views, were:
These number do not include my pieces published over at Shakesville, which has a higher readership than this ol' blog-a-roo.

Looking toward 2018, I continue to believe that we are living in a moment of profound feminist resurgence that is also coupled with a harsh Republican-led backlash - though I hasten to add that this backlash has collaborators across the political spectrum. Indeed, a large barrier to a leftist "revolution," at least as envisioned by many of Bernie Sanders' vocal superfans, continues to be that shitty white people, particularly men, think they're at the vanguard of radical progress when, in reality, their opinions on women are as establishment rape culture as they come.

But, more to come. Onward to 2018. The only way out is through, my friends.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Quote of the Day - Hard Times Are Coming

I've been on an Ursula LeGuin kick lately.

This one's via her latest collection of essays, Words Are My Matter:
"Hard times are coming, when we'll be wanting the voices of writers who can see alternatives to how we live now, can see through our fear-stricken society and its obsessive technologies to other ways of being, and even imagine real grounds for hope. We'll need writers who can remember freedom - poets, visionaries - realists of a larger reality."
She wrote those particular words in 2014. Prophetic.

(If you're curious, I liked Words Are My Matter, on the whole. In it, she includes many of her previous reviews of other works of science fiction. She is a generous reviewer. I also wish she would have included more of her reviews of books written by women. She had a lot of praise to give to male writers, and I think they get a lot of that elsewhere that women don't).

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Thoughts on Didion and Grief

I've been thinking a lot about it means to grieve as a non-believer.

I find it unfortunate that so many Christians, in our culture that is dominated by Christians, seem to care more about whether or not they have to bake cakes for gay people, and so forth, than connecting with others, even queers, around these shared human experiences. (That being said, there is more to Christianity that I am unable to believe in or connect with than these anti-LGBT interpretations).

Joan Didion, in The Year of Magical Thinking, called grief, "the relentless succession of moments during which we will confront the experience of meaninglessness itself." That seems about right.

Didion ends the book with no apparent resolution of her grief at the death of her husband John. Instead, the book simply finishes:
"I think about swimming with [John] into the cave at Portuguese Bend, about the swell of the clear water, the way it changed, the swiftness and power it gained as it narrowed through the rocks at the base of the point. The tide had to be just right. We had to be in the water at the very moment the tide was right. We could only have done this a half dozen times at most during the two years we lived there but it is what I remember. Each time we did it I was afraid of missing the swell, hanging back, timing it wrong. John never was. You had to feel the swell change. You had to go with the change. He told me that. No eye is on the sparrow but he did tell me that."
Is the lesson that, in the absence of belief in a supreme deity, we non-believers go forward by going with the changes, even the horrible ones, without expectation of someone/something coming along and fixing it all for us, in the end?  Is it that, we find meaning in our lives through the indents we make on other people's lives and that they, in turn, make on ours?

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Recap: Supergirl 3.8 "Crisis on Earth-X, Part I"

Prepare yourselves.

First of all, here is Earth-X.

That's all we know at first. Things have seem to gone horribly awry in another dimension. Second of all, here is Sara Lance, catching an arrow mid-flight:

Preliminaries out of the way, and as you might know, "Crisis on Earth" is a four-part crossover with Supergirl, Arrow, Legends of Tomorrow, and The Flash. To get everyone together, the shows use Barry and Iris's (The Flash) upcoming wedding. Accordingly, Kara and Alex pop over to Central City for the event.

Ahem. The first Alex/Sara Lance encounter occurs at the bar, during the rehearsal dinner. As they drink scotch together (as one does), Alex immediately tells Sarah that she has recently called off her engagement. Sara perks up when she finds out Alex's ex is a woman. (We all know where this is going).

During a speech at the rehearsal dinner, and this is not germane to the plot in any way, Felicity Smoak and Kara stand next to each other and I still can't get over how much they look alike. I mean:

More to the point, we're halfway into the episode and we still don't know what's going on with the Nazi Earth. And, that's fine with me. I don't need Nazis in my pop culture. What I do need more of is this, our second encounter with Alex and Sara Lance:

Boom shakalaka.

The next morning, Alex stumbles out of (Sara's) bed and goes to the wedding hungover. She tries to hide her late night shenanigans from Kara, but fails miserably.

At the wedding itself, things start nicely. Kara sings a lovely song as Iris walks down the aisle. But then, a Nazi Supergirl shows up, ruining everything. Well, it looks like Supergirl under there. I suppose for all we know it could be Kellyanne Conway or Ann Coulter.

This Nazi Supergirl thing brings an army of Nazis, including what seems to be a Nazi version of Oliver/Arrow. So, do all the heroes have Nazi doppelgangers on Earth-X? Yikes.

Anyway, the superhero/meta-human gang kick into gear and start defending the wedding guests. Not to brag but the queer women make a good Nazi-punching team:

Not a lot is resolved at the end of this episode. The heroes have one of the Nazis in a holding cell, but they the head Nazis are still at large. Dammit, now I have to watch the remaining three episodes in this series, don't I? OH OKAY FINE.

Deep Thought of the Week: So, this episode included a bunch of spoilers (to me) for the other shows, which I'm not caught up on yet. Barry and Iris getting married being a big one. But also, Caitlin Snow lets herself be Killer Frost? And, Martin doesn't want to be Firestorm anymore?

Note: CW/Supergirl Executive Producer Andrew Kreisberg has been fired after a sexual harassment investigation.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

You Are Doing Emotional and Human Labor For Your Fave Social Media Sites

[Content note: Internet abuse/harassment]

Alexis Madrigal at The Atlantic ran a piece on a recent conference at UCLA on the topic of content moderation on the Internet.

I recommend reading it in its entirety, but here are a few important takeaways that correspond with observations on this topic I've made over the years.

First, content moderation is labor. Many people who run websites know this from experience, even if they don't consciously articulate it as such. It's also labor that is not (yet) able to be done well by automation because a lot of abuse can be very context-driven.

Secondly, that this labor is done by humans means that the people doing it are regularly exposed to content that is traumatic. Per Madrigal's piece, "reviewing violent, sexual, and disturbing content for a living takes a serious psychological toll on the people who do it." A consistent theme in pieces I've read on this topic is that those who do this work for many years often develop PTSD-like symptoms.

A former Myspace content moderator said, in Madrigal's piece:
“When I left Myspace, I didn’t shake hands for like three years because I figured out that people were disgusting. And I just could not touch people. Most normal people in the world are just fucking weirdos. I was disgusted by humanity when I left there. So many of my peers, same thing. We all left with horrible views of humanity.”
Catherine Buni and Soraya Chemaly writing at The Verge, and Adrian Chen at Wired, have also referenced this toll and the corresponding high rates of burnout among people who do content moderation for a living. For instance, via Chen's piece, a former YouTube moderator who was exposed videos that included animal torture, decapitations, and horrific traffic accidents, noted:
“Everybody hits the wall, generally between three and five months. You just think, ‘Holy shit, what am I spending my day doing? This is awful.’” 
If you read enough accounts of how content moderation happens (or doesn't) at large tech companies, and to my third point, you also begin to see a pattern: the creators of many user-generated content platform have historically put very little resources into content moderation before introducing new platforms to the public. This pattern corresponds, I believe, with the volumes that have already been written about the toxic culture of libertarian techbros who think their platforms will, or should be, entirely self-regulated among users.

Not helping matters, oftentimes the conversation gets simplified to an absurdly stupid level of, "On one side, we have people who believe in free speech. On the other, are people who can't handle tough conversations." This false dichotomous framing happens both within tech culture itself and mainstream media reporting on this topic. That much of this work is done by contractors, off-site and abroad, helps further invisibilize, at least to many commentators in the US, what this work actually entails.

Meanwhile, content moderators and users of these platforms are left floundering when, whooops, people end up using these platforms in ways that are far darker than anyone (ostensibly) anticipated. Madrigal's piece, for instance, describes a former Myspace content moderator recounting her experiences (emphasis added):
"Bowden described the early days of Myspace’s popularity when suddenly, the company was overwhelmed with inappropriate images, or at least images they thought might be inappropriate. It was hard to say what should be on the platform because there were no actual rules. Bowden helped create those rules and she held up a notebook to the crowd, which was where those guidelines were stored.

'I went flipping through it yesterday and there was a question of whether dental-floss-sized bikini straps really make you not nude. Is it okay if it is dental-floss-size or spaghetti strap? What exactly made you not nude? And what if it’s clear? We were coming up with these things on the fly in the middle of the night,' Bowden said. '[We were arguing] ‘Well, her butt is really bigger, so she shouldn’t be wearing that. So should we delete her but not the girl with the little butt?’ These were the decisions. It did feel like we were making it up as we were going along.'”
Consider more of the context in which a woman was developing moderation rules, on the fly, in a notebook: During its heyday in 2005, Myspace was the top social media site in the world and was bought for $580 million.

Which brings me to my final point.

When tech platforms don't put sufficient resources into content moderation, or if existing moderation rules and practices are arbitrary and ineffective, you - the users of these platforms - are doing the emotional and human labor of content moderation for these companies. For writers, content moderation and the psychological fallout of when it doesn't exist or is extremely flawed, becomes labor that is added to the work of writing when we publish or promote our work on platforms that are not well-moderated.

In a way it's ironic. Folks across the political spectrum can't stop talking about the abundance of purportedly-oversensitive "snowflakes" in society these days. And yet, I think it's reasonable to say that most Internet users are actually exposed to traumatic content somewhat regularly. We've also largely accepted exposure to this content as "normal," without having begun to really grapple with the effects of it as a society.

In a popular piece at Medium, James Bridle wrote recently of frightening videos posted on YouTube to scare children, ultimately saying:
"What concerns me is that this is just one aspect of a kind of infrastructural violence being done to all of us, all of the time, and we’re still struggling to find a way to even talk about it, to describe its mechanisms and its actions and its effects."
Bridle concludes that "responsibility is impossible to assign."

But, I'll go there: Libertarian techbro culture has long posited that user generated-content platforms would simply work themselves out as self-regulated communities. Yet, we see over and over again that these communities, in practice, privilege bullies and/or those who can, somehow, inure themselves to the worst effects of the toxic cultures embedded within them.

In my own experience, people on the Internet have been telling me to kill myself for as long as I've been writing online - so, for more than 10 years. This message has come, most often, in the form of Twitter replies and comments at my blog. Sure, I can block a Twitter user. But usually, when I report such Tweets to Twitter, I receive no reply or follow-up regarding whether that user is banned.

From a bigger picture standpoint, I don't know a single person who has been running a website or blog, particularly if they're women, who hasn't had repeated run-ins with traumatic content or targeted harassment.

I think often about the voices we've lost over the years, and there have been many, because of the toxic cultures that thrive on platforms where the performance of content moderation labor falls on us, as users and writers.These harms are not something people in my generation (Gen X, if you're curious) really grew up learning how to deal with, or that, in my experience, many mental health professionals are even equipped to understand. I think many people have simply adapted to living with at least a low-grade state of anxiety about what they might encounter today on the Internet, particularly if they do a large portion of work on the Internet as part of their jobs.

I deal with a lot of it by telling myself, "It's not real. It's not real. It's not real. If this person really knew me, they wouldn't say that."  That is a coping mechanism, sure. But, the people I know who have been doing this work for a long time have developed a variety of informal tools when platforms fail to put adequate resources into moderating content: gallows humor, desensitization, creating intentional communities not centered around the usual sociopathic norms of Internet culture, and so forth.

I don't offer a clear answer here other than a plea to shift our thinking, as users of the Internet. Twitter, Facebook, whatever "free" social media sites you use - these aren't really free. In many cases, you are performing labor for them that they, for whatever myriad reasons, have absconded. The impact that might be having on you is very, very real.

Monday, December 18, 2017

In Which I Search For Good Reasons To Repeal Net Neutrality

I've found it:The worst take on the FCC's decision to repeal net neutrality.

Over at The Week, Matthew Walther is celebrating the repeal (ie, his big win!).

First, he suggests that liberals are hysterically over-reacting about the FCC's decision. Yet, rather than delving into the harm, or lack thereof, of the repeal, he tells us that we're being dum-dums for caring about a boring issue:
"Having strong feelings about net neutrality — which essentially mandates that your internet service provider treats all internet traffic and data equally — is like getting upset over a public-access TV debate on the generic ballot or the proceedings of the House of Representatives Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, Oceans, and Insular Affairs."
Secondly, he's mad at the Internet for disrupting the economy, so therefore everyone must pay.
"In the last decade the internet has changed every aspect of our lives in ways that we have largely accepted without a moment's hesitation. As but one example: Was it a good thing — for people, commerce, or art — that Netflix destroyed the video store industry?"
Oh, and one more thing. It's a bit of a buried lede:
"I rather like that 'throttle,' a good old-fashioned strong verb that meant 'strangle or kill' before it was an engineering term, has become the word we use to refer to the practice of internet service providers hindering the transmission of pornographic videos, online shoot-em-up games, and HBO reruns. These are all things that deserve to be throttled. Throttle away."
Walther disapproves of people accessing certain content on the Internet, therefore he's glad Internet Service Providers might limit people's access to that particular content.

When we put it that way, the topic doesn't sound so boring anymore, does it? 

Whatever. Just don't touch my motherfucking Xena vids.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Brandi Friday

As just one instance of everything not being hopeless bullshit in the world, Brandi Carlile is coming out with a new album in February.

I watched this video of one of her new songs, "The Mother," and it hit me hard. Carlile and her wife had a baby in 2014. I'll just say that the lines below are relatable:

You were not an accident where no one thought it through
The world has stood against us, made us mean to fight for you
And when we chose your name we knew that you’d fight the power, too


What are y'all reading, watching, playing, or listening to?

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Boston Globe Details Harassment Complaints at LGBT Health Center

Via The Boston Globe:
"Fenway Community Health Center permitted a doctor accused of sexually harassing and bullying employees to continue working there for four years after the first serious complaint was filed in 2013, according to interviews with current and former employees and documents reviewed by the Globe."
The article goes on to report how the organization hired outside lawyers to investigate the allegations made against the doctor, with the CEO both ignoring the lawyers' recommendation to fire the doctor and failing to report the matter to the board of directors. Fenway, which is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, also is reported to have paid $75,000 to a male employee to settle related sexual harassment and bullying allegations.

The board chair and the CEO of Fenway have since resigned in the wake of these reports. The current senior management is comprised of 5 men and 1 woman.

Meanwhile, the doctor, who had previously resigned, has denied the allegations. Per the Globe:
"He said Fenway has a culture where people sometimes hug or have casual contact, and that his behavior was not outside the norm."
Of the many reports we're seeing of harassment in the workplace, notice that this argument is a consistent theme: this particular workplace just has a cool, sexually libertine milieu that is different than other, more buttoned-up, workplaces.

Yet, if the recent spate of allegations have shown us anything, it's that the workplaces in which powerful men do not regularly hug, kiss, and/or rub their dicks against their subordinates all in the name of "we just have a quirky culture like that" actually seem quite few and far between. That is, powerful men in the workplace seem to experience this norm "confusion" quite frequently about what is and isn't appropriate behavior, as they "struggle" to understand why people report them.

 The life lesson, as always, is to never mistake a sexual revolution for a feminist one.

*I use scare quotes for "confusion" and "struggle" because I think a lot of powerful people know exactly what they're doing and these aren't mix-ups at all. They actually "struggle" is not with understanding that their behavior is wrong, but that people would actually report them for it and that they might therefore experience negative consequences from it. Of course, another possibility is that some of them are complete sociopaths.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Recap: Supergirl 3.7 "Wake Up"

He's baaaaack.

Mon-El, I mean. Well, sort of. Supergirl, Winn, and J'onn find him in a ship that had been buried underground. He had been put in a pod, with a bunch of other beings, and he now has a beard and speaks "Saturnian."

A Mass Effect: Andromeda crossover? (j/k)

Anyway, somehow Mon-El is alive, even though all the lead in the atmosphere is supposed to be toxic to him. Hmmm, that's suspicious. Stay on guard, DEO people! Is it really him?

Meanwhile, J'onn's dad, who now lives at the DEO, is having some trouble adjusting to living on Earth. First, he asks Winn for permission to use the bathroom, because he hasn't gone in like three weeks. It's unclear if Martians only have to go every few weeks, or if J'onn's dad has been holding it this whole time? Either way, that sounds.... painful.

J'onn subsequently decides to spend a little time with his dad. They take a walk outside, drinking "brown water" (coffee) and watching people play a "duel of intellects" (chess), but J'onn is mostly distracted by his smart device. (Related: I like plots in which aliens/outsiders make observations about human phenomena.) Later, J'onn gets an apartment for he and his dad to live in together.

Also, the new character, Sam, finds out she's an alien. Apparently, her adoptive mother found her in a little spaceship, all alone, and then raised her. She also kept the spaceship in the garage, under a sheet, where no one could find it. I guess Sam never played in the garage when she was a kid.

She then takes a trip into the desert to find herself, and this structure appears before. It's her Fortress of Sanctuary:

There, she finds out that it's her destiny to destroy Earth, and she transforms into Reign. Well, okay then. That was unexpected. What about Ruby?? Oh no, is this character going in the direction of "ruthless villainess becomes human again via motherhood"?

Back on the Mon-El front, Kara catches him trying to steal a device from the DEO. So, she puts him in lockup.

The confusion here is that Mon-El has a history of being a liar, but there's a chance this person also isn't really him. In the cell, he doesn't really defend himself, which is annoying. But later, he convinces Winn to free him, so he can go back to the ship. Mon-El says people will get hurt if he doesn't get back to the ship. So, of course Winn lets him out, because Winn is the biggest pushover in the history of the DEO.

Supergirl follows them to the ship, and Mon-El finally explains that although, to Kara, he's been gone for 7 months, for him it's been 7 years. He's been living in the future on Earth. Also, one of the pod people wakes up and, whoooooooops, it's Mon-El's wife, Imra.

I'd like to say that Kara gives Imra a look that says, "Damn, even I'd like to date her," but mostly, Kara looks heartbroken. So, I'm sad for our hero.

Deep Thought of the Week: "Crisis on Earth," and most importantly featuring Agent Canary, is the next episode.


Note: CW/Supergirl Executive Producer Andrew Kreisberg has been fired after a sexual harassment investigation.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

A Place To Go Towards

An entire city can have any utopia it desires, on one condition. A neglected, malnourished child must sit alone in a dank basement, forever.

That is, of course, the premise of Ursula Le Guin's short story, "The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas."  In it, she writes of the citizens of Omelas:
"They all know [the child] is there, all the people of Omelas. Some of them have come to see it, others are content merely to know it is there. They all know that it has to be there. Some of them understand why, and some do not, but they all understand that their happiness, the beauty of their city, the tenderness of their friendships, the health of their children, the wisdom of their scholars, the skill of their makers, even the abundance of their harvest and the kindly weathers of their skies, depend wholly on this child's abominable misery."
If the child were ever to be comforted in any way, the utopia of Omelas would vanish. When first confronted with this reality, young people of the city feel troubled. Yet, over time, they become inured to, and begin to justify, the child's suffering. The child would never be happy anyway, they think, the child is too stupid.

Besides, the child's trauma enables the artistes of Omelas to make great art. And, they don't want to lose their art. More broadly, to ignore the child's suffering enables everyone else to have their ideal society.

Sometimes, however, people leave. Silently, one by one:
"They leave Omelas, they walk ahead into the darkness, and they do not come back. The place they go towards is a place even less imaginable to most of us than the city of happiness. I cannot describe it at all. It is possible that it does not exist. But they seem to know where they are going, the ones who walk away from Omelas."
Everybody in Omelas knows the horrible truth that one person's pain is powerful enough to prop up an entire society. It's part of the deal. Or, rather, it's part of the deal they have made with each other. The child in the basement had no say.

Le Guin says that those who walk away from Omelas walk "into the darkness." I've thought a lot about that line over the years. Why would they walk "into the darkness" when they're making a decision that ostensibly shows them taking an act of moral courage? Is the darkness the unknown of what a society might look like that didn't ask some people to suffer so that others could be happy? Or, is the darkness the (ostensible) chaos of a wilderness not ordered by human suffering?

I had long thought the story of Omelas to be about bravey. Yet, I see now that I was thinking about Omelas primarily from the perspective of what was lost to those who walked away.

Yet, I now see the story as one of complicity. Why didn't they take the child with them?

And, as Le Guin invites the reader, throughout the story, to imagine what our own utopias might look like, is she inviting us to interrogate the deals we strike in navigating our political lives? Whose lives do we allow to be stifled so that others might prosper?

Monday, December 11, 2017

Columbia Journalism Review on the 2016 Election Media Coverage

It's not just that the political narratives in the 2016 election that were most amplified were those written by prominent media men (including prominent harassers, predators, and rapists), it's that the mainstream media overwhelmingly covered Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server, as well as the Democratic National Committee and John Podesta hacks, far more than they covered her (or Trump's) policy positions.

I'm guessing for many readers, that is not a startling revelation. 

However, a recent Columbia Journalism Review article argues that this flawed coverage by the mainstream media, and professional journalists, had far more influence on the election than "fake news." I suspect that's probably correct, mostly given the reach of the mainstream media compared to "fake news," although I do think "fake news" helped tip the scales toward Trump.

Here's a snippet of the article, referring to just The New York Times' coverage from September 1, 2016 up to the election day, November 8, 2016 (emphasis added):
"Of the 150 front-page articles that discussed the campaign in some way, we classified slightly over half (80) as Campaign Miscellaneous. Slightly over a third (54) were Personal/Scandal, with 29 focused on Trump and 25 on Clinton. Finally, just over 10 percent (16) of articles discussed Policy, of which six had no details, four provided details on Trump’s policy only, one on Clinton’s policy only, and five made some comparison between the two candidates’ policies."
1% of front-page articles in The New York Times covered Hillary Clinton's policies.

If you followed Clinton's campaign, read her website, listened to her speeches, and read What Happened, as I did, you would know that she had many policy positions. She had also prepared policy binders, ready to go, so she could get right to work had she won.

It's been a popular talking point for those across the political spectrum to say that Clinton had "no policies," or that all she offered was that she "wasn't Trump." That has always been inaccurate. Hillary Clinton had policies, the media just liked to talk about everything but those policies.

Where is the accountability and what would that even look like here?

Friday, December 8, 2017

Femslash Friday: Agent Canary

I know there's a lot of important and troubling stuff going on in the world right now, but I'd like to take a step back from all that and admit that I don't know the most logical way to watch the various DC show multi-episode crossovers.

There's one arc, but it spans across multiple shows? Whyyyyyyyy? (I know, to get us watching all the other shows, but still).

Are we really expected to keep up with the current seasons of Supergirl, Flash, Legends of Tomorrow, and Arrow simultaneously? That seems like it would be the best way for the multi-episode crossovers to make sense. But, I don't have cable, which means I would have to buy season passes for each show, which I'm really only willing to do for my top tier shows. In addition, if I have to stay current on all these shows, how would I have time for anything else in life? My free time is limited!

Now, another approach could be to stay current on Supergirl and, even though I'm not up to speed on the rest of the shows, watch only the related crossover episodes of the other shows. But, would I then be exposed to spoilers?

This is a predicament.


If you can believe it, this is a ship that I had not, until this crossover, considered. To be honest, I haven't even watched "Crisis on Earth" yet, because I'm two episodes behind on Supergirl! But, it's hard to avoid spoilers on Twitter. So, when I found out, I immediately began further investigations. All I can say is, yes please, this ship should be a whole entire TV series.

The "Crisis on Earth" Supergirl recap will be forthcoming. But, for now, enjoy today's Agent Canary fan vid (NSFW):

Thursday, December 7, 2017

The Bigot-Coddling Populism of Bernie

I would love to never write about Bernie Sanders again, but Bernie Sanders appears to be gearing up for a 2020 run or doing whatever it is he's doing at the rallies he continues to hold.

To me, one of his biggest flaws is that he doesn't appear to listen.

To me, it appears as though he has, for at least the past two years, been traveling the country speaking at people, over and over again, about what he thinks ails the nation.

It is now December 2017, and Bernie Sanders, the most progressive of progressives to ever progress, is still repeating the falsehood that "the vast majority of Trump supporters" are motivated more by economic anxiety than by bigotry, with an added dose of: "Trump said things that made sense."

To me, Bernie Sanders is engaging in some craven, pandering bullshit.

To me, living in 2017 has meant being in an important cultural moment in which those who previously have not been listened to are now being heard. I'm referring to, of course, those who speak out against rape culture and, more broadly, the abuse of power.

Bernie Sanders is a populist who is hoping to leverage the power of the people for his movement.

And yet, while I think he thinks he's speaking for the downtrodden, forgotten man who is oppressed by The Establishment, Bernie Sanders demonstrates to me primarily that populism in a nation that has been rigged for racists and misogynists from the get-go means that the coddling of racists and misogynists is usually required in order for a populist politician to be popular.

Bernie Sanders' populism is not premised upon listening to the diverse, lived experiences of the the many people of this nation. It is premised upon talking to the aggrieved white people who get upset when people point out their various bigotries. If Bernie's populism were more than a crusty socialist version of Trump's, he would heed the call of his critics to do a better job balancing the perspectives of those who enabled the rise of Trump with those who are now disproportionately harmed by the Trump regime. He would also stop gaslighting the people of this nation about the prevalence of bigotry in our nation.

Bernie Sanders wants to lead the revolution. But what, exactly, is he tapping into, here?

Per Bernie, in the Vice profile on him:
"[Trump] said he was going to take on the establishment, and he was going to provide healthcare to everybody. You know what, it's pretty much what I said."
There's your 2020 slogan.

I guess I'll leave it at that.

Throwback Thursday To When We Were Gaslit About Bigotry

The Nationalist's Delusion - by Adam Serwer

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Recap: Supergirl 3.6 "Midvale"

So, Kara takes Alex back home to Eliza, in Midvale. I think Kara's thinking is that being back home will help Alex heal. But, meanwhile, Kara continues to not really deal with her pain about Mon-El.

Also, I'm not sure where Midvale is exactly, but the Danvers house is pretty sweet:

While there, we get a flashback of Alex and Kara 10 years prior. First and foremost, they apparently have similar haircuts as they do now, which is so unrealistic, omg. (Just kidding, I totally have had the same haircut for like 20 years)

Also, the two girls used to be competitive with one another. We know this because  for some reason they are in the same history class, even though I believe Alex is supposed to be at least a few years older than Kara.

We also see Young Kara in gym class, kicking ass at the rope climb. Okay, is it just me or does climbing the rope in gym class only ever happen on TV shows? I have been a sporty person my entire life and have literally never done this. Related: Eliza and Dean Cain should have put Kara in all the sports. For real. College is expensive. She would have been a shoo-in for an athletic scholarship. Track? Volleyball? Football? Softball? All of the above?

Anyway, the point of the flashback is that Alex and Kara used to not get along. Or, more specifically, angsty Alex resented Kara's intrusion into her life and family. So, I guess we're going to see what changed that dynamic between them. I love episodes about the Danvers Sisters, in general, so buckle in.

It turns out that Young Kara used to be a big nerd in high school, and she had a best friend named Kenny Lee, also a nerd, who died. We then see Young Alex and Kara doing some investigating. They find Kenny's laptop and retrieve a bunch of files from it that could incriminate other people.

Young Kara then gets a visit from an FBI agent, who she at first mistakes for her mother. And, I'm confused. Does a new actor now play Kara's mom? Is this person Astra?  Oh wait, no, we find it's J'onn, who had shape-shifted into a Kara's mom look-alike. Whew. Okay then.

Young Kara tells this person that all she wants is to use her powers to help people. But, J'onn/FBI agent says that she has to promise not to use her powers. I still don't get why it's okay for Superman to use his powers, but not Kara. Is it because she's too young? Too female? I mean, even when Kara had become an adult, she was still expected to stifle her powers, so I'm guessing it's the latter.

HOWever, it turns out that the town sheriff is the bad guy and he captures Young Alex. In response, Kara decides to break the rules and use her powers. She saves Alex and, after that, they basically become BFFs.

And, that's pretty much the episode.

After the flashback, the Danvers Sisters reiterate that they're there for each other, because of course they are. Then they hop a car that is slightly reminiscent of the car from Thelma & Louise and, at this point, I hope this doesn't mean they're going to drive off a cliff in desperation and/or begin stumping for Jill Stein. For starters, they could take the week off of work, drive up the coast, and pick up Sara Lance and Lena Luthor.

El mayarah.

Deep Thought of the Week: I know this is Supergirl-adjacent, but one of my secret pleasures in pop culture is when Ray in Legends of Tomorrow gets stuck being tiny.

Note: CW/Supergirl Executive Producer Andrew Kreisberg has been fired after a sexual harassment investigation.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Dispatches From the Queer Resistance (No. 5)

Over at Shakesville, I have a roundup of recent queer/LGBT news, including the Masterpiece Cakeshop SCOTUS case, on which oral arguments are being heard today.

Check it out!

Friday, December 1, 2017

Drunk Lesbian Friday

So, I just watched the Pitch Perfect 3 trailer and it looks like a superfluous hetero romance has, once again, been added.*

If anyone needs me for the next 3 years or so, I'll be interspersing my re-watches of Carol with the Drunk Lesbians Watch [insert queer women's movies] bits on YouTube. Looks like we were on the same page re: Jenny's Wedding (my review, here).

I'm ded:

Regarding the lack of chemistry between the two heterosexual actresses playing gay: "There's been more turtlenecks than kisses." LOL.

What are y'all reading, watching, doing, listening to, and/or playing lately?

*Don't get me wrong, I'm still going to watch PP3.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

CW Executive Producer Fired After Sexual Harassment Investigation

To follow-up on this post from a couple of weeks ago regarding the investigation and suspension of CW Executive Producer Andrew Kreisberg, Warner Bros Television Group has concluded the investigation and fired Kreisberg:
 "Kreisberg has been one of the top lieutenants of Greg Berlanti, architect of the CW DC universe, whose company Berlanti Prods. produces all series. Kreisberg had been hands-on involved in The Flash and Supergirl, serving as co-showrunner on both. Following his exit, Berlanti, co-creator/exec producer of the two series, will step in for him, assuming additional responsibilities on both The Flash, where he will work closely with executive producer/co-showrunner Todd Helbing, and Supergirl, where he will work closely with executive producers/co-showrunners Robert Rovner and Jessica Queller."
And, hey, here's a novel thought: put more women in charge, Hollywood (and everywhere, basically).

Commenting Issues

Hello dear readers!

I've received a few emails as of late that some people are unable to view comments. Apologies for the inconvenience, and here are some troubleshooting tips:
  • The commenting system I use here is DISQUS. This system is compatible with the browsers listed here. If you want to comment and find that DISQUS isn't loading for you, I would suggest opening a different browser and seeing if the comments will load.
  • Secondly, some browser plugins and extensions will prevent DISQUS from loading. For instance, I have a bunch of privacy plugins installed in one browser I use, and DISQUS never shows up for me in that browser. Disabling these plugins and extensions might allow you to view the comments (or, again, trying a different browser that doesn't have these plugins/extensions).
  • Another option is that you can follow particular sites that use DISQUS, by logging directly into your DISQUS account. If you go to the DISQUS site and login, you can comment on blogs that you follow, within the DISQUS site. Instructions here.
DISQUS is a free commenting system and it's worked pretty well since I've implemented it. It's better than other options I've used in the past, including Blogger's base commenting system, but from time to time issues like these arise.

Anyway, please feel free to email me if these issues persist. And, if anyone else has other tips please share!

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

On Matt Lauer: "But Her Emails" As Misogynistic Pretext

Here is Hillary Clinton, in an excerpt from What Happened:
"[Matt] Lauer promised the [Commander in Chief Forum] would be an opportunity to 'talk about national security and the complex global issues that face our nation.' That's exactly what I wanted. With Election Day just two months away, it was time to have a serious discussion about each candidate's qualifications to be President and how he or she would lead the country."
Clinton goes on to detail how she loves talking about foreign policy and looked forward to demonstrating that she was ready to be Commander in Chief, unlike Donald Trump, who was "dangerously unprepared."

Yet, when she took the stage with Lauer, who was moderating the one-on-one discussion, she describes how he interrupted her to talk about the media's favorite topic of the 2016 election:

"I've been around the block enough times to know that something bad was coming. Lauer had the look of someone proud of himself for having laid a clever trap.
'The word judgment has been used a lot around you, Secretary Clinton, over the last year and a half, and in particular concerning your use of your personal email and server to communicate while you were Secretary of State, Lauer said. 'You've said it's a mistake. You said you made not the best choice. You were communicating on highly sensitive topics. Why wasn't it more than a mistake? Why wasn't it disqualifying, if you want to be Commander In Chief?'"
This line of questioning comes in the context of the US media covering Clinton's "emails" for 600 straight days, even though the FBI found no criminal wrongdoing.

It also comes in the context of multiple senior staff members in the Trump Administration using a private email system, something that has been known for almost a year now with barely a blip on the media radar. It also comes in the context of the State Department remaining "dangerously understaffed" because Donald Trump doesn't seem to know or care about the importance of diplomatic positions to our national security.

In What Happened, Clinton describes the media's reckless pursuit of false equivalence between herself and Trump. Everyone knew that Trump would have difficulty answering even the most simple questions about national security or foreign policy. Yet, Matt Lauer and the mainstream media helped blur the important distinctions between the candidates by exaggerating the importance of "the emails."

So, there's the pursuit of false equivalence, but there's also the reality that, as I wrote back in March, our political narratives are disproportionately written by men, "who receive 62% of byline and other credits in print, Internet, TV, and wire news."

I didn't know it then, but something of a reckoning was headed our way.

As Melissa noted earlier today at Shakesville, Matt Lauer has just been fired after an allegation that he sexually harassed a colleague, in what may not have been an isolated event.  I strongly believe that the way men treat women reveals how they think about women specifically, and gender and power relations more broadly. These views, in turn, shape the way they speak and write to and about women.

That is to say, once again, misogyny is a national vulnerability. I believe this was on display, on all places, at the Commander In Chief Forum, where a man deigned to express concern about our national security while his treatment of Hillary Clinton on the public stage undermined it.

"But her emails" was always about misogyny.

Recap: Supergirl 3.5 "Damage"

Lena is back this episode (yeah!). She's central to this week's crisis, as it turns out that the lead bomb she built last season to get rid of the Daxamites has apparently poisoned a bunch of children in National City.

Before Supergirl okayed the detonation last season, Lena had thought the device was safe for humans. But, I'm not sure I understand how it would be. In fact, it strikes me that "lead poisoning" should have been a predictable outcome of detonating a lead bomb, but whadoIknow.

Anyway, a bunch of sick kids are now in the Luthor's namesake hospital, which makes it look like Lena caused the lead poisoning for profit. Ouch.

In response, Lena schedules a press conference to announce that she's stepping down from the L Word, I mean L Corp, and CatCo, pending the investigation. And, as Crooked Lena walks to the podium, the crowd chants "lock her up." Make National City Great Again!

Someone in the crowd then shoots at Lena, but hits James. He's okay, but this means that Lena goes into hiding at Sam's house. She's there, alone, drinking a bunch of wine, when Kara comes over. While alternating between an American and British(?) accent, Lena drunkenly tells Kara that being a bad person is in her DNA as a Luthor.

Someone somewhere is probably writing a way better Lena/Kara fanfic retelling of this scene right now in which Lena is confessing that she knows Kara is Supergirl (and that she's in love with Kara/Supergirl, obvs). I mean, I get that Lena's central conflict is that she feels like she'll never be able to be a good person because she's a Luthor. But, get over it, girl, you're a gazillionaire. And, can't just one person in the DC-verse be perceptive enough to know when their friends are superheroes? Can't everyone be queer? Is this too much to ask?

Speaking of which, as anticipated, Alex breaks up with Maggie because she wants kids and Maggie doesn't. But then they hook up one last time, just to make the breakup more complicated than it has to be, I guess. This breakup makes me sad, but it's also not close to my personal top 10 list* for worst queer moments in pop culture. To look on the bright side, at least Maxwell Lord is out of the picture.

On the lead poisoning front, Kara and Sam put their heads together and figure out that the lead poisoning actually came from a public pool. Lena was framed by that asshole whats-his-name dude who she stole CatCo from. Lena confronts the dude, it backfires, and she swiftly finds herself in a perilous situation. By perilous, I mean that she wakes up on an airplane full of chemicals, which is being flown on auto-pilot without other humans on board, sort of like a Supergirl/Airplane! mashup:

(Hey, remember how casually racist and misogynistic 80s movies were? Fun times).

ANYway, the DEO catches Lena's mayday distress call and Supergirl swoops onto the plane. Despite previously having stopped a mega-ship the size of the Astrodome from leaving the Earth's atmosphere, Supergirl struggles to keep a small cargo plane aloft. Nevertheless, she succeeds in saving Lena. She then gives the asshole-whathisname a stern talking to, and L Corp develops an antidote for the sick kids. So, her name is cleared. (All of this happens in a matter of hours, I guess).

Then, in the final scene, we get another hint that Sam might be a meta-human or something. It turns out that she was actually shot at the press conference, as well. Her shirt has a hole in it, but she didn't get injured at all. Hmmmm.

Deep Thought of the Week: *The list, in no particular order and which may change on a daily basis:
  • Dana Fairbanks - 11 years later and still, queer women ask, whyyyyyy?
  • The end of Xena - see above.
  • Tara's death in Buffy - ditto. The early aughts were rough for queer women's icons.
  • Justin and Brian breaking up in Queer as Folk
  • Jenny's Wedding
  • All of the main characters in Transparent being supremely unlikeable and/or really bad people.
  • The ending of 95% of 1990s movies featuring queer female leads. 
  • The superfluous heterosexual relationships in Pitch Perfect and Bend It Like Beckham.
  • My idea for a Love, Actually queer reboot not existing yet.
  • The plot of Loving Annabelle, where a female student-teacher relationship is romanticized. 

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

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

The White Nationalism of Federalist No. 2

So, I've been re-reading The Federalist Papers. Here's a quote of the day for you, courtesy of John Jay in No. 2:
"It has often given me pleasure to observe that independent America was not composed of detached and distant territories, but that one connected, fertile, widespreading country was the portion of our western sons of liberty. Providence has in a particular manner blessed it with a variety of soils and productions, and watered it with innumerable streams, for the delight and accommodation of its inhabitants. A succession of navigable waters forms a kind of chain round its borders, as if to bind it together; while the most noble rivers in the world, running at convenient distances, present them with highways for the easy communication of friendly aids, and the mutual transportation and exchange of their various commodities.

With equal pleasure I have as often taken notice that Providence has been pleased to give this one connected country to one united people--a people descended from the same ancestors, speaking the same language, professing the same religion, attached to the same principles of government, very similar in their manners and customs, and who, by their joint counsels, arms, and efforts, fighting side by side throughout a long and bloody war, have nobly established general liberty and independence.

....To all general purposes we have uniformly been one people each individual citizen everywhere enjoying the same national rights, privileges, and protection."
Count the fictions. First: the notion that "Providence," rather than, say, violence and genocide, has granted "one united people" the "one connected, fertile, widespreading country" of "America."

Two: the notion that the conquerors were one "united people" at all, coming from "the same ancestors."

Three: the notion that the "people" and the "individual citizens" within this land were one and the same, all having same rights, privileges, and protections.

As we continue to resist the rising tide of emboldened white nationalists, Neo-Nazis, and misogynists in the US, we must not forget that white, Christian, male supremacist nationalism is embedded within some of the founding documents and structure of the American political-legal system, even as these documents also, paradoxically, reference higher principles.

These roots partially explain the basic entitlement that many white Christians, men especially, are operating from in the US, as well as why Donald Trump is not a conservative populist anomaly, but an inevitable one. 

The rot has been here from the beginning.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Susan Sarandon Is Still Speaking, I See

I mean, it's her right to speak, of course. It doesn't mean she deserves a platform or freedom from criticism.

And yet, here we are.

In The Guardian this weekend (via the Tweet below), we have a lot going on.

First, Sarandon shows us why she's a good example of how "leftwing intentions can have rightwing consequences" and of how someone can be "liberal/leftist but not feminist."

  • She says she's a "humanist" rather than a "feminist" because she doesn't want to alienate people who think feminists are "a load of strident bitches."
  • She's "flattered" that a prominent feminist, Katha Pollitt, has called her an "idiot." Like it's hugely brave or progressive to not give a shit what the hysterical, stupid feminists say.
  • She conflates sexual harassment with 1960s-1970s sexual liberation.
  • She echoes the talking point that Trump was elected primarily because of working class angst rather than a more nuanced understanding that many factors led to the outcome.
Secondly, during the interview, she plays an odd card regarding her political speech:
“I mean it’s very flattering to think that I, on my own, cost the election. That my little voice was the deciding factor.”
Well. Of course Sarandon "on her own" didn't cost the election. But, she has a larger platform than most people to influence political and current events. She currently has 569,000 Twitter followers, a number that is likely close to what she had during the 2016 election.

Before the election, Sarandon (who supported Bernie Sanders during the Democratic Primary) announced that she was supporting Green Party candidate Jill Stein in the general and said that Hillary Clinton would be a more dangerous president than Donald Trump.

It's difficult to assess the impact of any one event or statement on the election, but to call her voice "little" is incredibly disingenuous.

Third, the article references the current manner that "moderate" has, to some people, come to be conflated with "Hillary supporter" rather than a person's policy positions. While the journalist notes that Sarandon is attacked by "the left" these days, rather than the right, she later says that "the moderates" hate her. "Moderates" was used in the context of Sarandon calling her harassers "the Hillary people."

Too often, mainstream media journalists uncritically accept these creative new definitions of leftist, centrist, and moderate. Yet, to what extent can someone who echoes rape culture talking points actually be considered more progressive or "leftist" than someone who does not?

Four, on the harassment front, women across the political spectrum are attacked for their political beliefs. It's unfortunate that Sarandon is, as well, although I'm not surprised.

It's also unfortunate that Sarandon seems to believe that gender issues ought to be subordinate to so many More Important Causes, because we could use her support and her voice on this issue -for all women, not just those she deems sufficiently "leftist." Yet, like many liberal/left non-feminist ("humanist"?) women, they leave the heavy lifting on gender issues to be done by feminists, even if they have more resources and larger platform than we do.

On a final note, the Guardian journalist profiling Sarandon added a bit of admiration for the star:
"And yet I like Sarandon. It takes real courage to go against the mob. Her inconsistencies are a little wild, but in the age of social-media enforced conformity, I have never met anyone so uninterested in toeing the line."
Here I'm primarily curious as to how a person in the media can be on social media and believe there's such a thing as "social-media enforced conformity." Although, it's also curious that one can be informed about current events and still think it's a good idea to lionize people for being, what they deem as, politically-incorrect truth-tellers.

Have journalists learned nothing?

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Very Important Supergirl Update

You know how in my Supergirl recaps, I have a running joke that that Agent Vasquez is "Alex's Ex"?

Welp, this happened on Twitter. It's official, #DANSQUEZ is/was a thing:


Wednesday, November 22, 2017

L Word Revival Selects Showrunner

Welp, the long-awaited (n=me) The L Word revival seems a step closer to actually happening.

Via The Hollywood Reporter, Marja-Lewis Ryan has been selected as showrunner. In addition:
"The L Word creator Ilene Chaiken will also exec produce alongside Ryan and original series stars Jennifer Beals (Bette), Katherine Moennig (Shane) and Leisha Hailey (Alice)."
I know Ryan's work primarily from the movie The Four-Faced Liar, which she wrote and starred in.

I enjoyed Liar, so I'm looking forward to seeing the direction the L Word reboot goes. In the above article, Ryan acknowledges the diverse queer community, so I hope that portends a more diverse cast than the original show and a better handling of trans issues.

Question: Does anyone know where, in addition to Autostraddle, queer women congregate online to talk about pop culture now that AfterEllen is .... what it now is? When the original L Word aired, AfterEllen served as a hub of sorts for queer women to read recaps, interviews, and articles about the show, as well as talk about it in forums.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Right Wing Women, Revisited

In light of the reality that 53% of white women voted for a sexual predator for president in the 2016 election and the spate of revelations that many men across the political spectrum are also predators, I'm giving Andrea Dworkin's Right Wing Women another read.

I read the book initially in 2010, as I wrote about here. Given the passage of time, my own development, and political experiences that have transpired since 2010, I also want to see the extent to which I find that both the book and my thoughts on it stand up.

Feel free to join me, if you want. I'll write a post in 2018 and you can share any thoughts you have, as well.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Quote of the Day: The Male Bumbler

Lili Loofbourow writes about of rape culture's gender scripts that allow men to play stupid about both their own misbehavior and other men's:
"There's a reason for this plague of know-nothings: The bumbler's perpetual amazement exonerates him. Incompetence is less damaging than malice. And men — particularly powerful men — use that loophole like corporations use off-shore accounts. The bumbler takes one of our culture's most muscular myths — that men are clueless — and weaponizes it into an alibi.

Allow me to make a controversial proposition: Men are every bit as sneaky and calculating and venomous as women are widely suspected to be. And the bumbler — the very figure that shelters them from this ugly truth — is the best and hardest proof.

Breaking that alibi means dissecting that myth. The line on men has been that they're the only gender qualified to hold important jobs and too incompetent to be responsible for their conduct. Men are great but transparent, the story goes: What you see is what you get. They lack guile."
Remember this the next time you see a man, any man, express his "shock and disappointment" about another man's misbehavior.

Given the ubiquity of sexual assault and harassment, any man who expresses shock is lying, extremely stupid, or incredibly imperceptive.

I also agree that many men are quite calculating. I've known them, worked with them, and been harassed by them. I believe that, in particular, sexual predators fit this mold. Relatedly, I don't trust Louis CK's apology. 

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Recap: Supergirl 3.4 "The Faithful"

So, in this episode, we see a flashback of the Supergirl pilot, in which Kara saves a plane from crashing. Apparently, during the past two years, one of the men who was on the flight has been creating a Supergirl-centered cult.

Kara finds a pamphlet for the cult, attends a meeting, and learns that it's comprised of people who she has saved. They basically go up to a podium and tell their stories and pray to the Kypton sun, Rao. I mean, why not, really?

Later that night, Kara and Lena host an alpha queer women's night, with Alex, Maggie, and Sam, the new CatCo CEO who may or may not also be a superhero, in attendance.

[Pulls up chair, watches intently]


So, I've been feeling all season like bad things are headed down the Sanvers highway, so alas. Let's enjoy it while we can. The kids convo once against happens. So, like, yeah, we get it. It's over. It was cute while it lasted.

Moving along, during the evening, one of the cultists sets a building on fire, hoping that Supergirl will save him. She does, thus giving him the religious experience he was seeking. You know, I've never really thought about the superhero dilemma of people deliberately putting themselves in harms way just to have a superhero encounter, but yep, that would definitely happen in real life.

The next day, Kara goes to interview the cult leader and he tells her that he knows she's Supergirl (because apparently he's the only person with basic observational skills in National City). Creepily, he also refers to her as "God." She tells him to disband the cult, but he won't.

When she leaves, he goes into a backroom of the Sea Org or whatever and talks to a pod thingy that he has. There is also torn tissue paper covering the walls, which is how we know it's a cult headquarters.

Turns out the pod is a bomb, and the cult has brought it to a full-capacity stadium. Where was security on that? ANYway, the cult's idea is that Supergirl will save all the people in the stadium, thereby turning them into cult members. Unfortunately, the pod has kryptonite in it, which puts a damper on Supergirl's ability to get rid of the bomb.

Once the cult members see Supergirl's weakness, they ditch the cult. Because they are completely faithless and tacky. So much for faith, peons.

Nevertheless, Supergirl uses her laser vision to create a big hole to push the bomb into, thereby saving everyone. The cult leader guy then goes to prison (the Supergirl timeline is weird, like SVU weird, where criminal process happens without delay). I don't know if the cult leader will turn up again in later episodes, but he remains creepy either way.

Later that day, or maybe another day (see above re: the timeline), the alpha queer women's club goes to Sam's little girl's play, and this aborableness is happening. OMG, a buncha little Supergirls:

During the performance, Alex gets perturbed (WHICH OF COURSE SHE DOES BECAUSE SHE WANTS KIDS). She runs out of the performance and, when Kara follows her, she tells Kara that she wants kids.

Then, because Supergirl often ends on a final, cliffhanger scene, we see that Sam goes into the upside-down or something.

Deep Thought of the Week: I'm actually okay with how I think Sanvers is going to end. My bar is pretty low and mostly consists of "don't wantonly kill the queers," so a couple breaking up because they disagree about having kids is fine. I'm also pretty sure Alex could get a new girlfriend STAT, anyway. Although I really do like Maggie, there are other law enforcement officials in the sea. Olivia Benson, Dana Scully, Misty Knight, Jane Rizolli...

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

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

CW Executive Producer Accused of Sexual Harassment

In case you're not aware, Andrew Kreisberg, an executive producer for Supergirl, among other DC Comics shows, has been suspended after allegations that he has engaged in a pattern of sexually harassing colleagues. Kreisberg has denied it, although 19 sources have contributed to the allegations.

In light of this news, I have weighed the decision about continuing the Supergirl recaps here in Fannie's Room.

My site is 100% non-commercial and ad-free, so I have no financial stake in the recaps one way or the other. My intent with the recaps is primarily to provide entertainment to fans of the show, given that mainstream fan spaces are not always welcoming to feminist/minority/female/queer fans. Nonetheless, while my site is relatively small, the recaps also provide some small measure of free publicity for the show.

For now, I will continue the recaps.

In this case, Kreisberg has been removed from the workplace, pending an investigation. I support this action, as the allegations against him are deeply disturbing, particularly given his involvement in a show, about female empowerment.

In addition, Supergirl in particular has multiple female actors/actors of color working on it, as well as a representation of queer love. These representations are meaningful to many fans, fans who might also enjoy these recaps. I am wary of penalizing innocent parties because of the alleged misbehavior of a relatively powerful white man, particularly those might have been victimized by this person (although I also don't begrudge those who engage in consumer protests).

I will also say this: I believe the allegations. Kreisberg admits to engaging in at least some of the behavior the allegations outline - such as commenting on women's appearances and giving hugs/kisses - but refers to his actions as "not sexualized." Whatever he means by that, what seems clear is that, at best, he misunderstands the role that power plays when coupled with those types of comments and actions.

While disturbing, the allegations are also not shocking to me.  They are, sadly, all too believable. As I've written before, it's hard to enjoy pop culture and be a feminist. The rape culture mentality of writers, showrunners, and producers consistently seeps through, onto our screens. So much so that I am constantly left wondering what the people I watch on screen, and those who contribute to a production off-screen, have endured for their careers and, in turn, our entertainment.

As such, I will continue to monitor reports about the investigation, as well as its outcome. I will end the recaps if I believe it's warranted. To those reading, please feel free to post updates about this matter in related blogposts and/or email me directly.

I also plan on adding a link to this post on every Supergirl recap here.

Related, multiple actors affiliated with CW shows have issued statements, including:
Supergirl lead Melissa Benoist, on Twitter.
Arrow actor Emily Bett Rickards, on Twitter. 
Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow actor Caity Lotz, on Twitter.
Supergirl actor David Ramsey, on Twitter.
Arrow lead Stephen Amell, on Facebook.
Supergirl actor Chris Wood, on Twitter

Observation: Men often get the best, most glorified leading roles in the superhero genre. I want to see more of them speak out on this issue.

UPDATE: Andrew Kreisberg has now been fired after the sexual harassment investigation.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Rape Culture Rigs the System Against Women

I have a piece up at Shakesville today. Here's a snip:
"It's said that not all superheroes wear capes. But, know this as well: Not all villains wear masks. Rape culture doesn't require them to. Sexual predators in the workplace, particularly the higher up they are, are often brazen and enabled by other, complicit powers-that-be.

Every anti-feminist backlash in the US has had its own version of the self-centered claim that feminists are motivated by the hatred of men. Yet, if the spate of recently-revealed "open secrets" has demonstrated anything, it's that it has always been the other way around.

That women are widely seen as not fully human like how men are fully human means that male reactions across the political spectrum often take a predictable turn: The other side does it too! Many men still view sexual harassment claims, not as wrongs inflicted on human beings who matter, but as ways to score points against political rivals, usually other men."
Read the whole thing.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Quote of the Day: Katha Pollitt

Katha Pollitt, writing about the apocaversery:
"But the main difference is that I hate people now. Well, not all people, of course. Just people who voted for Trump....
I know what you’re thinking: you are the problem, Katha, alienating Trump voters with your snobbish liberal elitism and addiction to 'identity politics.' Yes, I wanted them to have health care and child care and good schools and affordable college and real sex education and access to abortion and a much higher minimum wage. And yes, I wanted the wealthy to pay more taxes to provide for it all. Obviously, this offended the pride of the stalwart, mostly white citizens of Trumplandia, possibly because a good proportion of white people would rather not have something if black people get to have it, too. As for pussy-grabbing, sheesh! Men will be men, get over yourselves, ladies. None of that is 'identity politics,' though. It is just America.
Actually, Trump voters are not the only people I hate. I also hate Jill Stein voters and Gary Johnson voters and Bernie deadenders with their ridiculous delegates math and people with consciences so delicate they could not bring themselves to pull the lever for Hillary so they didn’t vote at all. I hate everyone who thought there was no 'real' difference between the candidates because Hillary was a neoliberal and a faux feminist and Trump was not so bad. I hate people who spent the whole election season bashing Hillary in books and articles and Facebook posts and tweets, and then painfully, reluctantly dragged themselves out to vote for her, as if their one little, last-minute ballot cancelled out all the discouraging and dissuading they’d spent six months inflicting on people. I especially hate everyone who thought that electing a reactionary monster would be okay because it would—or could, or might, who can tell?—bring on the revolution. Looking at you, Susan Sarandon and Slavoj Zizek! You are idiots and my heart seethes with wrath against you."
As politicians left, right, and center continue to chase, center, and cater to white male rage, they ignore the reality that many women are angry as hell. Politicians telling us that the concerns of white men are "bread and butter" compared to side issues will not appease this anger. It will do the opposite.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Friday Feeling - Not Ready To Make Nice

Remember back in 2003, when conservatives, country music fans, and pundits fell ass-over-heels onto their fainting couches when Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks said in public that she was ashamed that the George W. Bush was from Texas and criticized him for leading the nation to war?

"Not Ready to Make Nice," which the Dixie Chicks wrote about the incident, is one of my favorite Dixie Chicks songs.*

In subsequent interviews, Maines referenced her anger, which is evident in the lyrics:
I'm not ready to make nice
I'm not ready to back down
I'm still mad as hell and
I don't have time to go 'round and 'round and 'round
It's too late to make it right
I probably wouldn't if I could
'Cause I'm mad as hell

Can't bring myself to do what it is you think I should
We are living in a moment of profound feminist backlash and resurgence. The Republican Administration launches every conceivable attack on women's autonomy and dignity, while many women are mobilizing around our too-often overlooked pain, fear, and rage.

In 2003, Maines was right to criticize George W. Bush. I had participated in multiple protests of the Iraq War and remember feeling immensely frustrated that the American public had rallied around this man, particularly after he lost the popular vote. We have the benefit of hindsight now, and more of a consensus has developed that the Iraq War was immoral and unjustified.

Being in my early 20s at the time, 9/11 and the Iraq War are two of the major political touchstones of my life that had enormous influences on my political thinking. My journey to make sense of these events led me down a lot of paths, including skepticism, progressivism, leftism/liberalism, and feminism. (I also read a bunch of Ayn Rand books one summer but quickly rejected objectivism after finding the Aynsplaining in Atlas Shrugged to be overstated and tedious).

I suspect for many people, perhaps younger generations or those not previously politically-active, Trump's electoral college win will be a similar touchstone.

I, for one, am not ready to make nice. Have a watch/listen:

*Once while drinking, a friend convinced me to karaoke "Sin Wagon" with her. Whyyyyyyyyyy. It was a disaster of epic proportions.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

The Apocaversary and Everday Internet Cruelties

The apocaversery was yesterday, of course,but I also remember November 9, 2016 as horrible, sleep-deprived aftermath. I never really slept the night of Nov. 8, instead checking the returns and news updates every hour or, so the days sorta runs together until the nightmare realization of our new reality:
This past year has, in many ways been hellish, politically, as I wrote about yesterday.

But also, for me personally, in some ways. On top of the political shit, for several months of 2016 I was the primary caregiver for someone with terminal cancer that, yes, ended up being terminal.* "Grief, when it comes," says Joan Didion, "Is nothing like we expect it to be." That's about right. A week later, you can be okay. And then months later, suddenly, you're not. I feel parts of myself shifting, adapting to new realities while never really being okay with them.

And then, there are the ongoing, everyday cruelties of Internet culture.

I read a recent piece by James Bridle, "Something Is Wrong On the Internet." First, duh. Many, many things are wrong on Internet. But secondly, more specific to this piece, I'm still trying to wrap my head around it. Bridle describes humans and bots that create kids' content that is frightening and traumatizing to children. He ends:
"What concerns me is not just the violence being done to children here, although that concerns me deeply. What concerns me is that this is just one aspect of a kind of infrastructural violence being done to all of us, all of the time, and we’re still struggling to find a way to even talk about it, to describe its mechanisms and its actions and its effects. As I said at the beginning of this essay: this is being done by people and by things and by a combination of things and people. Responsibility for its outcomes is impossible to assign but the damage is very, very real indeed."
I think often, and have written about over the years, the everyday cruelties many (most? all?) social media and Internet users are exposed to on the various platforms we use.

As just one, ongoing example, during some of the worst times of my grief this past year, an Internet "leftist"/"socialist" who I blocked on Twitter periodically stalked, mocked, misrepresented, and sent leftbro harassment my way online for no reason other than that I don't sufficiently "feel the Bern."

Some of the cruelty we experience, we learn not to take personally. Other times, it all feels very creepy, obsessive, and personal, particularly if you're, like I am, a relatively low-profile blogger in the grand scheme of things.

A whole Internet culture has sprung up where a predominant thinking is that people are "weak" or "anti-free-speech" for using the few tools platforms give us to set boundaries, such as blocking and muting. But, we have to continue to push back on this narrative. The political climate is shit. On top of that, people have every right to block others on Twitter for any reason we want. First, because we have the right to set boundaries. And secondly, in light of everything else we navigate in our lives, we have a right to decide how much cruelty, bullshit, tediousness, or time-wasting bad faith foolery we want to absorb on these platforms.

We don't know the overall impact yet of our social media usage. What I do believe, more than ever, is that what happens on the Internet is real, actually, contrary to popular sociopathic thinking on this matter and can compound offline stressors in people's lives.

And yet, to end on a more upbeat note, not everything is terrible.

We march. We write. We make calls. We live. We resist. We build community. We love, even though we inhabit a cruel, cynical, too-cool-to-be-sincere Internet and political zeitgeist.

In these things, I still find hope.

As a wise woman once said, "I'm not giving up and neither should you."

*I don't share this news to oblige anyone to offer condolences. My point is more that it remains a remarkably stupid "socialist" praxis to bully progressives online. Some people don't "feel the Bern." Get over it. Bullying people for that is loser behavior.