Tuesday, October 31, 2017

The Russia Reversal: Misogyny Is a National Vulnerability

Today, over at Shakesville, I revisit the misogynistic coverage of the 2016 election and current affairs. Here's a snip:
"Misogyny is a national vulnerability and it was leveraged against our nation to our detriment. Donald Trump and Mike Pence have continued to lead a racist, misogynistic backlash to progress that proves to be profoundly stupid in that it will harm not only women/people of color, but many of the people who support these men.

Further, as more information is brought to light about Trump's possible collusion with Russian agents, it turns out that, whooooooops, Trump actually does have a "transparency saga" of epic proportions despite the benefit of the doubt so many pundits were willing to undeservedly grant him.

Going forward, a good thing to keep in mind is that those with the loudest and largest media platforms to cover these current events continue to be white men, many of whom are entertained by or actively complicit in the oppression of women."
Check out the whole thing!

Friday, October 27, 2017

American Horror Friday

Happy pre-Halloween!

Is anyone watching American Horror Story (AHS): Cult? Just so you know, I relate hard to seconds 4-6 of the trailer, wherein the Michigan Lesbian hears the winner of the 2016 election announced.

Over the years, AHS has been a mixed bag for me. I'll watch anything with Sarah Paulson or Jessica Lange in it but, and I feel old saying this, some of the brutal, bloody violence that is consistently portrayed feels both gratuitous and, worse, boring. But, I say this as someone who has always found psychological thrillers (think: Misery) scarier than gore.

Cult is still ongoing, of course, so I'll hold off on a final judgment.

Thus far, the plot feels like it's flirting with something close to a false equivalence. By assembling a group of angry, disgruntled, and unhappy people across the political spectrum drawn to the charismatic Kai, is the message here really going to end up being that rage, "on all sides," is The Real Danger?

I guess we'll see. What's certain is that Ally should definitely dump Ivy.

A Cyber-Trolling Trend

Via the Chicago Tribune, police in Des Plaines, Illinois are investigating allegations that a man there threatened to lynch Representative Frederica Wilson.
"By Monday, [the man's] Facebook page was no longer open to public comments. Many posts insulting liberals and supporting Trump remained, however, as well as several posts about Johnson. One, a meme, read, 'I really don’t mind being called a bigot, racist, close minded (sic), redneck, backwoods… heard them all by now and use (sic) to it… still better than being called a liberal.'”
The article ended with the man saying, “I don’t think a lot about what I write on Facebook.”

That's a trend I notice when I read about Internet bullies being confronted with their poor behavior. They write with no seeming concern with how their words or cruelty might impact others. Many trolls and harassers share the attitude that they personally should suffer no consequences for their online speech, that what happens on the Internet isn't real, and that their targets are stupid for taking Twitter/Facebook seriously.

It's important to remember, when engaging with Internet trolls and harassers, "they cognitively understand the emotional distress they cause through their trolling behaviour without empathising with their victim's emotional suffering."

They know that their targets feel pain as a result of cyber-harassment. They just don't care. While they may think about you -their target - quite a bit, they don't relate to your suffering, pain, or fear at all.

I wish more people understood this, particularly those who scold others for being "oversensitive" or whatever for setting boundaries on engaging with harassers.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

The "Redemption" of George W. Bush

Can we not?
Apparently, Dems now have a 51/42 favorable view of George W. Bush, and this favorability increases by age. That is, people who actually fucking lived through the Bush II years are more likely to have a favorable opinion of the man.

Back in November of 2016, I warned:
 "[R]emember that this normalization of Trump will make other Republicans who are no less deplorable, yet who are more subtle in their bigotries, seem normal, decent, and better by comparison.
Remember that they are not"
Remember two things as people on social media boast about the popularity of this or that white man:

The misogyny and racism leading to the rise of Trump have been deeply, profoundly stupid.

Coming in at a close second is the way so many people in the US will not only accept, but like, a white man - even if he's a dangerous incompetent bigot - as long as he can sufficiently perform "I'm just an ordinary guy."

Related Throwback Thursday: In January 2009, I wrote a harsh farewell post to George W. Bush. I stand by most of it. But, oh what a sweet summer child I was here:
"In the post-9/11 world, by electing Barack Obama, I think in our own American way we've chosen to grow up a little."

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Recap: Supergirl 3.2 "Triggers"

So, Lena has bought CatCo and, in this episode, we learn that she's a hands-on owner who wants to be in the office on a daily basis. She also communicates directly with staff, calls staff meetings without telling managers, and roams around the office floor just talking to people.

James is, allegedly, the CEO (or whatever Cat's replacement is), and he's not happy about Lena's presence and how she's undermining his authority over his staff:

I can't say I blame him. She also scolds Kara for running in and out of the office all the time, which she does because she's Supergirl, of course. So, what I'm realizing is that I like Lena better when she's abstracted from the workplace. Or, maybe Kara just needs to come out to Lena already. As Supergirl, I mean.

Anyway, the villain of the week is a meta-human, Psi, who I suppose I would compare to Tamsin, the Valkyrie from Lost Girl. Psi has been robbing banks by using her superpower which, apparently, involves invoking people's phobias just by looking at them. (In Lost Girl, one of Tamsin's powers was to "cast doubt" on her enemies).

Psi invites Supergirl to join her on the dark side. Hmmm, evil Supergirl would be a fun plot twist, but sadly, our hero declines (for now?). So, Psi shoots a psychic mindbeam at Supergirl and causes her to feel claustrophobic, a fear Supergirl didn't know she ahd. They have another encounter, later, and Supergirl then begins remembering her journey from Krypton, in the tiny pod, completely alone after watching everyone she knew die. A bit later, she has a panic attack while in an elevator.

So, for perhaps the first time, we begin to see Supergirl truly deal with the psychological trauma of losing her family and entire planet. Yes, she was upset when Alex killed her aunt Astra in Season 1, but she also never lost her outwardly peppy persona.

Supergirl tells Winn about the phobia and panic attack, and then Alex walks in on them talking about it. When Supergirl leaves, this happens:

Oh, Winn.

Winn tells Alex what's going on. Alex then confronts Supergirl, leading to an important Danvers Sisters bonding moment.

In her final encounter with Psi, we then learn that Supergirl is also scared that Mon-El died in the pod she sent him away on. Alex gives her pep talk, though, and she's able to defeat Psi by head-butting her. LOL.

There's also this side plot about a single mom (and new L Corp CEO), Sam, who may or may not have superpowers. So, I guess we'll see where that goes. And, in Sanvers news, Alex makes a passing comment about them having kids one day, and Maggie says she could never see herself being a mom. Whooooops your engagement!

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

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Dispatches From the Queer Resistance (No. 4)

Hey everyone, I have a new post over at Shakesville, documenting the queer-related things we need to be aware of and resisting. Check it out:

Dispatches From the Queer Resistance (No. 4)

Friday, October 20, 2017

Bernie Backs Out of Women's Convention

What more can you do but look into the camera like Jim from The Office:

 "In seven days, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders role for the Women's Convention in Detroit went from a primary speaker to a panelist to not attending at all.

Sanders said he can’t attend the event because he’ll be in Puerto Rico to survey the devastating damage from Hurricane Maria, which hit the island about a month ago.

'I want to apologize to the organizers of the Women's Convention for not being able to attend your conference next Friday,' Sanders said in a statement. 'Given the emergency situation in Puerto Rico, I will be traveling there to visit with San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz and other officials to determine the best way forward to deal with the devastation the island is experiencing.'"

It's odd, right, that he has yet to comment on the controversy. A simple, "Women, I hear you, my presence at your convention is clearly a distraction. I'm going to respectfully bow out," would have gone far to let the women who were critical of his presence know that he listens to women who have concerns about his politics.

Let's hope he's able to offer some tangible aid and support to those in Puerto Rico. If he does, and it's not just an awkward photo-op gimmick like when he went to "meet with" the Pope, I agree that going to Puerto Rico is probably a better use of his time than talking at women at the Women's Convention.

We Walk Together: Thoughts on the Women's Convention

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Isn't It So Much More Than In High Heels and Backwards?

Queer women love to drag The L Word's Jenny Schecter, but I still maintain that she's a far better character than people give her credit for. She has her flaws, but her feminist sensibilities are certainly more progressive than those of most of the other characters on the show.

I always viewed the Season 2 plot of the heterosexual man secretly installing a camera in Shane and Jenny's house, so he could spy on the women and film them having sex, to be an implicit critique of the heterosexual, white male gaze that the show had to implicitly cater to in order to have ever been produced in the first place.

Here is Jenny, confronting the predator, in an epic take-down:

Heterosexual men undoubtedly watched the show. Yet, did they fully understand it wasn't a documentary, or representative of the full breadth of queer women's culture? And thus, rather than them being voyeurs privy to "a lesbian world," did they get that this L Word-universe was at least partially created for them, too, in that the leading women were all primarily thin, femme, conventionally-attractive, and rarely outspokenly-feminist. Such women exist, to be sure, and I love them. But, these women are not fully representative of the spectrum of queer women who do exist, and who many queer women would have loved to have seen represented in a TV show about queer women.

The theme feels particularly meta these days, with woman after woman in Hollywood - including Mia Kirshner, who portrayed Jenny - revealing Harvey Weinstein to be a sexual predator.

Perhaps this is a statement of the obvious, but it's often hard to enjoy pop culture and be a feminist.

As I tweeted earlier this week, "It's almost like the fact that our national industry for storytelling being run by harassers and abettors has an impact on our culture." Themes of rape culture are weaved throughout our TV shows and movies. This too, is a statement of the obvious. But, I truly believe the representation of rape culture in TV/film is a reflection of the rape culture that has long been allowed to thrive within Hollywood -that "open secret" that Hollywood's most powerful people just let persist.

(Isn't West World, and its fantastical world built precisely for men to rape actor-robots, one of the biggest, most recent admissions of all? Remember: Show, don't tell!)

And now, more than ever, I'm left to wonder: what have the women I watch on screen had to endure to get there?

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Recap: Supergirl 3.1 "Girl of Steel"

After a, in my opinion, lackluster finale last season, Supergirl has returned. To recap, Supergirl and friends stopped a Daxamite invasion, Mon-El had to leave Earth, and Alex had proposed to Maggie.

First off, I'll say that it's good to have Supergirl back. I've been watching old episodes of Arrow and Flash in the "off-season," so it's good to be watching a superhero show with a woman in a leading role again.

Secondly, we learn that Supergirl is sad because Mon-El is gone. We know this because she does her job whilst not being 100% cheerful at all times.

But, on the upside, this:

That's right. In the alternate timeline in which I want to be living, Cat Grant is apparently the Press Secretary for President Wonder Woman and she's on the news telling the populace that Global Warming is a real thing in the real world and, oh hey, I bet there's also no Nazis in that motherfucking White House.

Sadly, some jerky guy (who Lena calls a "sentient ball of cheap cologne" he he) has announced that he's buying CatCo because he thinks they've become too biased. Cheap Cologne wants to have editorial control over what's published and also to defame Lena. We'll see about that.

Shortly thereafter, Kara quits her job as a reporter at Catco. James had been pressing her to do a story about Supergirl saving Earth from the Daxamites and it seems Kara's been too angsty to want to write it. Indeed, she goes to some dark places in this episode, acknowledging that she's not a human and saying that "Kara Danvers was a mistake." Yikes. Let's see if and how she can pull herself out from this darkness.

The foe of the week is some dude named Bloodsport. Shrug. He attacks the city during the unveiling of a statue of Supergirl. True to form, Supergirl saves the day. In fact, it seems that she's been Super-Supergirl since Mon-El has been gone, channeling all of her sadness/anger into crime-fighting.

Meanwhile, Alex and Maggie are in wedding-planning mode. Pause for a moment of appreciation of Alex Danvers:

Alex asks J'onn to walk her down the aisle and it's super cute. They both tear up and Alex says, "Don't cry. Because if you cry, I'm gonna cry, then everybody here's gonna know that we actually can cry." She also says she's wearing Kevlar and boots to the wedding. Oh, honey.

In SuperCorp news, Lena ends up buying CatCo so she, rather than Cheap Cologne, can have control over it. In response, Cheap Cologne storms into Lena's office in a menacing manner, because I guess he can just do that. Kara is there, too, and look how she puts herself between Lena and danger:

Kara then storms out of Lena's office, takes off her glasses, and then approximately 7 seconds later comes back as Supergirl, while of course neither Lena nor Cheap Cologne know Kara and Supergirl are one and the same (lol).

Later that night, a Shawn Colvin song is playing and Kara texts Lena that she'll go back to CatCo. Let me just zoom in and depixelate Lena's response:

Oh, Lena, just buy some Kevlar and boots already:

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

Monday, October 16, 2017

We Walk Together: Thoughts on the Women's Convention

I have a piece up over at Shakesville about how the recent outrage about Bernie Sanders speaking at the Women's Convention fits into the context of longstanding divides on the left.  Although, the lack of clear communication from the event organizers didn't help de-escalate the conversation.

Check it out!

Friday, October 13, 2017

What a Week, Huh?

To look on a bright side, season three of Supergirl premiered this week, so I guess I'll continue writing recaps so it's not all gloom n' doom around here.

I also continue to be highly entertained by humorous fan vids and will never get tired of watching some Kara Danvers/Lena Luthor flirting to the sweet 1980's sax in George Michael's "Careless Whisper" (see, e.g., the vid below at moment 1:09). That goes double for any fan vid featuring a Strong Female Character set to the tune of "I Need a Hero" (see, e.g., 3:18).

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Why Hasn't Hillary?

Over at Shakesville, I wrote a piece about the cacophony of absurd male demands that Hillary Clinton answer for Harvey Weinstein's behavior. A snippet:

"It has been revealed that a famous man is a sexual predator and yet why hasn't Hillary Clinton, a private citizen who has been widely told to retire to Grey Gardens and shut up forever, condemned him on-demand, whilst using the correct tone and words, after the appropriate time interval, and while donating money to charity in an amount and on terms precisely-determined by men, after the revelations were made public?"

Check out the whole thing!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Wayback Wednesday: Quiet

Joss Whedon. Harvey Weinstein. The Republican Administration's ongoing assaults on women's rights. Millions of Americans and a Republican Congress supporting and condoning an admitted sexual predator as head of state. The ongoing demands that Hillary Clinton shut up and/or say only precisely what other people want her to say. The dirtbag left mocking a rape survivor without apology (to her).

Lately, I've been thinking a lot about this song, "Quiet," which went viral during the Women's March the day after Trump's inauguration.

It's not a shocking revelation to say that times are tough.

People across the political spectrum often treat women's rights, and specifically violence against women, as a game in which they can make some larger "gotcha" against a political opponent.

What becomes frustrating is when the voices of progressive feminists who have long condemned rape culture in its varied manifestations - left, right, and center - continue to be ignored in these mainstream point-scoring narratives. Many men who do get it (or at least appear to publicly), often self-promote their own performances of "getting it," rather than promoting the women who have been making these observations for a very long time.

Yet, one of the most important things men can do as progressive allies is to refuse to participate in rape culture with other men. This refusal is often done in quiet, everyday acts: calling out shitty behavior of other men, not bonding with men over the subordination and abuse of women, and not participating in "locker room talk."

Also, listen to women. Rape culture places a lot of pressure on women to be quiet about our experiences within this system. If we're talking about our experiences with rape and gendered-abuse, be aware that doing so usually results in more negative consequences than positive for us.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Femslash Friday: Dana/Alice

Oh, The L Word. I wish I could quit you.

I think one of my top five favorite belief-suspensions about this show will forever be the notion that Dana Fairbanks, First of Her Name, was a professional tennis player. Here she is doing one of her workout regimens in her girlfriend's bedroom, straining to lift a 2.5-pound weight, you know, as a professional tennis player does:

I still love her, of course. Even though she shoulda never let that soup chef get away.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Man In Party Devoted to Regulating Evil Sneers at People Who Want to Regulate Evil

In response to the mass shooting in Las Vegas, Republican Matt Bevin, Governor of Kentucky, tweeted a scold:

This stance on "regulating evil" would be news to many of us, yes?

As I tweeted, I'm old enough to remember that trying to regulate (what it deems as) evil has long been the very core of Republican Party politics, whether via the regulation of sex, masturbation, sex toys, reproductive rights, birth control, same-sex marriage, homosexuality, non-missionary-position sex, uppity women, gender non-conformity, bathroom usage, non-Christian religious and spiritual beliefs, among other acts, beliefs, or persons deemed "evil" by its predominately-white Christian base.

That an actual sitting politician would sneer that people who live in terror of gun violence are political opportunists primarily demonstrates that the modern Republican Party is a hopeless death-cult of despair and cynicism.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

What Happened Book Club at Shakesville

Hey everyone, if you're reading What Happened, by Hillary Clinton, Melissa is running a chapter-by-chapter book club.

Check it out! 

Related: Why I Listen to Hillary

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Inept Corporate Reponse to Foreign Interference Threatens US Democracy

The New York Times, along with the Washington Post, have been extensively covering Russia's interference in the 2016 election.

Unfortunately, my overall sense of the situation is that many on the right and some on the anti-Clinton left are dismissive of the reports, mocking it as either "fake news" or "redbaiting." Yet, this type of foreign interference should concern us even if it's done in favor of our preferred candidates. As some ridicule the Russia coverage now, these same folks may not find it quite so humorous if and when it's used against, say, Bernie Sanders.

In fact, we would be wise to pay attention to reports that bot activity, and foreign interference via social media, continues. It's not just a "2016" thing or an "anti-Clinton" thing.

One of the tactics that has been uncovered since the 2016 election includes the Russian creation of imposter Twitter and Facebook accounts. Via the Times:
"On Twitter, as on Facebook, Russian fingerprints are on hundreds or thousands of fake accounts that regularly posted anti-Clinton messages. Many were automated Twitter accounts, called bots, that sometimes fired off identical messages seconds apart - and in the exact alphabetical order of their made-up names, according to the FireEye researchers.
... Clinton Watts, a former F.B.I. agent who has closely tracked Russian activity online, said that Twitter and Facebook suffered from a 'bot cancer eroding trust in their platforms.'  But he added that while Facebook 'has begun cutting out the tumors by deleting false accounts and fighting fake news,' Twitter has done little and as a result, 'bots have only spread since the election.'"
I have been writing for many years about the inept corporate response to abuse and harassment on social media platforms. Regardless of the "thought" that companies actually do put into the issue, the end-user experience often makes it appear as though the platform was created by libertarian tech-bros who prioritize "free speech" over users' experience to interact with others in authentic, civil, and non-abusive ways.

Twitter and Facebook in particular offer hokey, marginally-useful advice and tools that, say, allow us to "block" abusive users but that don't ever truly penalize abusive users for their sociopathic behavior. The criteria by which people actually are penalized, for instance by being put into temporary "Twitter time-outs," appear arbitrary or dependent upon who a case is reviewed by, who the user is, who the person reporting the instance is, and how much media attention the instance might have received.

Now we're learning on a near-daily basis that this ineptitude in policing the way people used their platforms likely played a role in the electoral college win of Donald Trump. Even as many of use these flawed platforms, how long will we let them abscond responsibility? What would the economic impact be of a boycott of 1 day or 1 week? What would it take to get these companies to take these issues more seriously?