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.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Days Like These: Thoughts on a Year of Cruelty

On this day, the apocaversery, I have shared my reflections on the past year of living with the 2016 election results. With the news coming at us fast and seemingly 24/7, I tried to parce out what I believe to be a major theme of the Trump Era, along with some observations about how we continue to move forward given our current political realities.

Read it over at Shakesville!

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Recap: Supergirl 3.3 "Far From the Tree"

So, last episode we saw that Alex wants kids and Maggie doesn't, an issue they apparently hadn't discussed before getting engaged. Whooooooops. Nevertheless, we see them this episode planning their wedding shower. What could go wrong?

During dinner with Alex and Eliza, Maggie also reveals that her dad disowned her after she was outed at school when she was 14. Later, Alex suggests that Maggie invite her family to their shower, but Maggie declines. (Oh dear, please don't "surprise" Maggie by inviting her family). Phew, it turns out that when Alex falls asleep, Maggie calls her dad and invites him.

Now, the last time a TV lesbian invited her no-good dad to her wedding was Shane on The L Word and we all know how that turned out. The no-good dad convinced Shane to leave beautiful, wonderful Carmen at the altar because infidelity apparently runs in their family or whatever. Please don't let us down here, TV lesbians.

Meanwhile, J'onn receives a message from M'gann to come to Mars. Supergirl goes with him, in J'onn's sweet shape-shifting ride:

Get in losers, we're going to Mars.
This shot looks like they're on a date at a drive-in theater together, but they're not, actually, and that would be weird. The car turns into a spaceship, which can travel to Mars in about 3 seconds flat.

When Supergirl and J'onn arrive on Mars, M'gann reveals that another Green Martian is alive, Jonn's father. Apparently, they need his help to find some staff thingy before the White Martians find it and kill the resistance. J'onn finds his father, but his father doesn't believe it's really him, so he won't help them find the staff thingy.

So, this episode is an angsty father one, it seems.

Alex's dad shows up for the shower and has an overall uncomfortable demeanor, which makes me anxious. Now, I've tried hard to avoid #Sanvers spoilers, but I've had a bad feeling about the couple ever sine it was revealed they are in conflict about having kids. Yet, I also haven't seen Internet freaking out about anyone dying or breaking up, so.

Anyway, at the shower, Maggie's dad storms out upon seeing Alex and Maggie kiss. When Maggie goes after him, he explains that he immigrated to the US and worked hard his whole life to earn the respect of white people. He therefore sees Maggie's lesbianism as throwing all that hard-earned respect away. Poor Maggie.

Later, Maggie and Alex have "the kids" conversation. Maggie says she doesn't want kids, again, and Alex says she feels the same way, but you can sorta tell she's lying. Yikes. Alex, I love ya, but nothing good comes from lying about "the kids" conversations.

Back on Mars, Supergirl gives J'onn's dad an inspiring speech, encouraging him to trust that it's really J'onn. And, it works. J'onn and his dad use their Green Martian psychic powers to share a memory:

The memory they share is of J'onn's cute little Green Martian daughters. J'onn's dad then tells them all where the staff thingy is, they retrieve it, and then J'onn and Supergirl bring the staff (and J'onn's dad) to Earth. And there we have it, the gang has lost a dad and gained a dad.

In conclusion, boo, no Lena this episode.

Deep Thought of the Week: Supergirl rolling into a fight driving an old-timey, shapeshifting car whilst listening to "Baby One More Time" by Britney Spears is the superhero scene I didn't know I needed in my life.

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

Monday, November 6, 2017

The #MeToo Backlash Is Coming

I tweeted some thoughts about the impending certain-to-come backlash to the "recent revelations*" that lots of men, left and right, are sexual predators, harassers, and rapists.**

To summarize, while we currently have momentum, we also need to prepare ourselves for the male-dominated mainstream media to begin pushing back harder against these revelations with new, adapted silencing mechanisms.

We will see the usual smatterings of concerned people suggesting that while the recent revelations have been "shocking" and "necessary," hasn't it all "gone too far"? Men will write pieces with detached airs of presumed reason about all the womanly hysteria. Anti-feminist women will be paid to write think pieces confirming that yes yes, the women have gone cray-cray, thus liberating rape culture enablers from charges of misogyny.

This backlash will come, and likely very soon.

See, for instance, the following take. Apparently, women have two, and only two, options for living in society with men: (a) be assaulted and shut up about it or (b) don niqabs:

The most extreme misogynists will begin testing the backlash waters first. It's less that they create misogyny and rape culture and more that they quite easily tap into what is already pre-existing in society. Other men - "good men" - will then feel comfortable writing the aforementioned "objective" "devil's advocate" pieces wherein the misogyny is more subtle and coded.

*Recent revelations deserve scare quotes, since many of these revelations were apparently "open secrets."

** "We told you so." - ancient feminist proverb.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Flashback Friday: Losing to Girls

Oh, you know, just re-posting this, from April 2016, for no particular reason.
Here are some fun narratives I'm picking up regarding the 2016 Democratic Primary:
"Bob Kerrey, a former Nebraska governor and senator who ran for the Democratic nomination in 1992 and who has endorsed Mrs. Clinton in the current race, said Mr. Sanders might be winning now if he had relentlessly pressured Mrs. Clinton since last fall over her closed-door speeches to Wall Street banks, her role in the finances of Clinton Foundation programs, and other vulnerabilities. Mr. Sanders did not raise the paid-speech issue, after long resistance, until late January."
  • Bernie is only losing because he wasn't even trying that hard anyway (especially in the states that he's lost):
Tad Devine, Sanders' strategist:: “Essentially, 97% of her delegate lead today comes from those eight states where [Sanders] did not compete.”
  • Bernie is only losing because "the establishment" has rigged the system against him:
I see this claim mostly at far left and far right websites (sometimes two peas in a tinfoil-hat-wearing pod), which I do not want to link to - although they can easily found by searching "Rigged Election 2016 Hillary." Although voter suppression is likely attributable to Republican-led legislatures, many hard core Bernie supporters believe that Hillary, who to them represents "the establishment," has a top secret "in" with voting officials in the state where she's won, thus resulting in unfair election wins for her.
  • Bernie isn't even losing, and even if hypothetically he were to lose the popular election, he'll still win at the convention:
Despite the fact that Clinton is leading the popular vote (and will likely win the popular vote nationwide), yesterday Sanders' campaign manager Jeff Weaver said he hopes and believes Sanders will come out of the Democratic Convention the nominee anyway.
Now, more than a year later, there's a lot of media hyperventilating about Donna Brazile's "admission" that the primary was "rigged" against Bernie, but if you actually read what she wrote, it's slim on details and big on sweeping accusations. The facts, at least as she presents them, are that Obama left the DNC in debt, Hillary for American and the Hillary Victory Fund resolved the debt, and the DNC and Hillary's campaign signed a Joint Fundraising Agreement whereby Hillary's campaign would control the party's finances and strategy. (This is also a good reminder that Bernie Sanders is an Independent, not a Democratic).

Okay. So, if you believe Hillary Clinton won 4 million more votes than Bernie Sanders primarily because she and/or the DNC "rigged" the contest, you would have to also believe:
  • That the impact of pro-Bernie/anti-Hillary Russian propaganda was nil, even though social media companies have just testified that Russian propaganda reached at least 125 million users.
  • That she exerted power over election officials in every state in which she won, even though each state controls their own primaries and the parties exert control over caucuses (which Bernie disproportionately won).
  • That a political and electoral system that was literally founded on excluding non-white, non-male persons from participating has no lingering, built-in "rigging" in favor of white men. 
One of the sadder aspects of all this is that Hillary is being further demonized and, instead of looking at Bernie's serious shortcomings as a candidate, he's being sanctified and a party is seeming to solidify around him and his crusty, white-male-centric worldview.

I repeat myself, but misogyny is a national vulnerability. Until we reckon with that, it will always be so.


Update 1:

Update 2: And, Brazile's claims about the funding raising agreement were, to be blunt, not accurate. Via NBC, the agreement only pertained to the general election, not the primary.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Maxine Waters' Speech at the Women's Convention

Maxine Waters is a national treasure and I'm so glad she's a leader of the resistance.

In her speech at this past weekend's Women's Convention in Detroit, she called Donald Trump "the most dishonorable and despicable human being to ever serve in the office of the presidency."

I'm here for it and her speech is 100% worth watching in full.

Women's Marches Prove Historic 
We Walk Together: Thoughts on the Women's Convention 
Bernie Backs Out Of Women's Convention

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Russian Content on Social Media More Widespread Than Previously Reported

Almost a year ago, after the election, I wrote a post on Internet culture in the Trump era. In it, I observed (emphasis added):
"I don't believe any single cause explains the election results and it is not my intent today to suggest otherwise. It's more that, in a way, I find that many of the post-election analyses I've read seem quaint in what is assumed about the electorate in the Internet age. Although I joined Twitter in 2009 and used it sparsely then, I picked it back up about a year ago. What I saw as I followed Election 2016 is that news and narratives happen very fast on Twitter - and related, so does the cruelty.

As Twitter users would live-Tweet the debates, they would instantly begin creating hashtags and memes about memorable moments and quotes. It wouldn't be until the next day, and sometimes later, that traditional media would catch up, running a story about a popular hashtag or quote. I annoyed my wife many times when she'd try to relay a bit of news to me only for me to inform her that people on Twitter had that conversation, like, 36 hours ago. Which is practically a month in Twitter time.

I began to see that people active on social media, and Twitter especially, were having different experiences of Election 2016 than people who were not."
Over the past year, we have continued to learn more about why social media has been so heavily implicated in the results of the 2016 election. Most recently, via the Washington Post, it's being reported that Russian operatives not only used popular social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube to spread propaganda, but that these activities are much more widespread than these companies previously reported:
"Facebook has said Russia’s efforts to influence the election involved 470 accounts and pages that spent more than $100,000 on 3,000 ads that reached 10 millions users. But outside researchers have said for weeks that free posts almost certainly reached much larger audiences — a point that Facebook will concede in its testimony on Tuesday.

Facebook’s general counsel, Colin Stretch, plans to tell the Senate Judiciary Committee that between 2015 and 2017, a single Russian operation in St. Petersburg generated about 80,000 posts and that roughly 29 million people potentially saw that content in their news feeds.

Because those posts were also liked, shared and commented on by Facebook users, the company estimates that as many as 126 million people may have seen material in their news feeds that originated from Russian operatives, which was crafted to mimic American commentary on politics and social matters such as immigration, African American activism and the rising prominence of Muslims in the United States."
Relatedly, there are some rumors that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is considering a presidential run in 2020. Given Facebook's potential to influence voter opinions and spread propaganda behind the scenes, that rumor sends chills down my spine. (There's also the fact that he's unqualified, but it's been amply established that qualifications no longer matter in our democracy).