Sunday, December 23, 2018

Christmas Movies, A Ranking

5. Gremlins. As a kid, it was good to learn the importance of following arbitrary, nonsensical* bullshit rules that prevented something terrible from happening. (*Can we talk about "Don't feed them after midninght?" What always bothered me was, exactly how long after midnight do you have to wait to feed them? Technically, even breakfast is "after midnight" and yet that seemed to be an acceptable feeding time.

4. The Holiday, except minus Jack Black and Jude Law, and Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz's characters fall in love.

3. The first half of Home Alone, up until the bell tolls and the torture porn begins.

2. Scrooged, starring Bill Murray and Karen Allen. I think about A Christmas Carol a lot throughout my life and, particularly, the moments that are, or seem to be, turning points in a person's life.

1. Carol, starring Cate Blanchett  and Rooney Mara. Need I say more?

Although I watch them almost every holiday season, I wouldn't place A Christmas Story, National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, or Love Actually in my top five list.

A Christmas Story is cute in some ways, for what it is, but also annoying in that it widely seems to be viewed as a universal Christmas story when it hardly is. Regarding Christmas Vacation, Clark Griswold is an unlikeable man with an anger management problem who forces his concept of the "ideal" family experiences, such as vacations and holidays, onto his family instead of consulting them about what they actually want. He'd also cheat on his wife in a hot second if he could get away with it.

I used to like Love Actually a lot until I realized it was primarily about men's boners and straight people. And, it's super shitty to "romantically" tell your best friend's spouse that you're in love with them.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Rest In Peace, Penny

Actor and director Penny Marshall has died, at age 75.

In addition to starring in Laverne & Shirley, she directed a number of classic films, including one of my all-time faves, A League of Their Own.  As I tweeted yesterday, I first saw the movie at a slumber party circa 1993. We liked it so much, we immediately rewound the VHS tape and rewatched it.

For me, and I suspect the other girls at the party, it was the first time I remember a film entirely about girls and women. While baseball flick The Sandlot was released around the same time as League, and is probably also considered a classic by many, the ultimate insult that the boys in Sandlot hurled at each other was to play ball "like a girl." At the time, I laughed along with the movie theater audience at that crack, most likely internalizing the misogyny in the "joke" even though I was a girl athlete myself. I was better than most of the boys in my neighborhood ballgames and thought, somehow, that made me an Exceptional Girl, even as I learned over the years, repeatedly, that it didn't mean that at all and, in some cases, only made boys and men hate me more.

A League of Their Own, on the other hand, centered the women ballplayers, portraying their detractors ("girls can't play ball") and scolds ("A lady reveals nothing!") as ridiculous, inviting us to empathize with the athletes. The film takes them seriously as athletes, at least as seriously as they take themselves as athletes, and over the course of that first season shows people across the country doing so, as well.

I have always wished Marshall could have portrayed queer relationships in the movie, as these most certainly existed in reality among some of the women, but I understand why she didn't or felt that she couldn't, even in the early 1990s. (Although, it's obvious that Mae and Doris were together).

I will be forever grateful to Penny Marshall for her gifts to the TV/film industry, most especially for A League of Their Own.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

A Journey of Artistic Comrades

Over at Shakesville, I wrote about #MeToo and the shitty responses men so often offer when they're accused:
"It's always a strange thing when men use rape culture tropes within their shitty #MeToo responses, but the notion that an abuser and a target are equally-witting conspirators in the target's debasement has long been one of rape culture's most enduring deceptions. When a response uses a trope, nonetheless, it at least demonstrates which crowd the accused is playing to - those who don't question the trope.

But here's a fun fact you won't see in any famous man's sorry-not-sorry-if-anyone-was-hurt letter:

Rape culture exists, in part, to grant ugly, powerful old dudes sexual access to young attractive people under the lie that such men are hot, sexually-desirable studs, rather than just possessive of some financial, physical, emotional, professional, and/or cultural power over their targets. And, a target's accommodation to this reality the man perceives as willingness (unless they're of the type that gets off on the unwillingness, which many are), when it's really just a need to exist within the parameters of whatever rape culture shithole the man has power."
Read the whole thing!

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Biden, Bernie, and Russia

In the purported feminist revival we're in, I continue to contemplate what it means that Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders lead polls among Democrats of possible 2020 presidential candidates, with newcomer (to the national stage) Beto O'Rourke now coming in right behind them in third place.

Biden has done very poorly in previous presidential campaigns (1998 and 2008), but I think his recent popularity is due largely to name recognition, the effect of riding President Obama's coattails as Democrats continue to mourn the end of that presidency, and the fact that the Overton Window of what an acceptable candidate is has shifted quite far in the age of Trump.  White men who merely quietly rape people and then half-ass apologize, as opposed to brag about it, are practically thrown ticker tape parades these days.

Bernie and Beto, like Biden, have a lot of name recognition right now, with Bernie losing to Hillary in 2016 and Beto losing a high-profile Senate race in Texas to the magnificently-unlikeable Ted Cruz.

What winners!

Plus, even those on the left side of the political spectrum can be racist and sexist. For many people who are not, they will support a white man simply because they are resigned to thinking that a woman/person of color cannot ever win because "everyone else" is still too racist and sexist to vote for anyone but a white man.

But, aside from these factors, I'm troubled by Biden because, as Melissa notes in an article about Biden's cocky comments about his qualification to be president, he "was vice-president while a foreign adversary stole our fucking election."  For that reason alone, his national security credibility is, or should be, severely lacking.

With respect to Bernie, we know that Russia gave his campaign an assist against Hillary Clinton. Are they going to do so again,this time against other Democrat candidates, while getting further assists from his most hard-core, rabid online supporters?

The mainstream media should make it extremely awkward, to say the least, if Bernie and Biden in particular fail to address the integrity of our elections during their campaigns (assuming they both run).

And, given both men's relatively popularity, it seems that more Democrats need to fully understand that the Mueller investigation is less about removing Trump because he's a terrible person (which he is) and more because he and/or his campaign agents likely conspired with a foreign government to undermine our political system.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Just When I Think I Can't Get More Gay

The Guardian has to go and highlight the Literary Review's bad erotic writing shortlist. Funnily enough, the shortlist is entirely comprised of male writers and wow.

[content note: sexual assault]

I know writers are, usually, in theory writing from fictional characters' perspective but it's also hard not to think these snippets are at least somewhat of a glimpse into the writers' headspace about male-female sexual relations, particularly the dude who wrote about the dude who was doing what sounds like raping a woman in her sleep while he simultaneously feared being "completely emptied out" by her "sex" and the dude who wrote about the woman who became, from her perspective (which is the best part), "an empty vessel for what feels like disembodied consciousness" while having sex with a man.

That's .... a lot to unpack.

Anyway, if you read the article, "I cannot caution you strongly enough" that you might come across phrases like "pleasure cave."

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Social Justice Writing and the Decline of Blogging

I'm not going to link to the article I'm referencing today, but I miss the heyday of blogging.

Twitter is much more popular now than blogging and I sometimes wonder how that platform has changed people's conception of what social justice writing is or should be. I think many people do Twitter threads well, in terms of fleshing out thoughts in ways more similar to longform.

Twitter has increased the character count and has made it easier for users to thread their Tweets into a continuous "longform" piece if they wish. Although, I find using that feature to be much clunkier with my usual writing process where I move words and sentences around, compared to the Blogger interface that is essentially a giant text field. For instance, I wrote about this topic on Twitter this morning as well (ironically?) - the piece for Blogger was going to be exactly the same, but even as I copy-pasted the Twitter thread to Blogger, I realized right away that it read choppily and I had additional thoughts to insert.

Anyway, on Twitter, I also see a lot of social justice "dunking" where the aim is to humiliate someone for being so "self-evidently" wrong that it doesn't warrant explanation. I've had run-ins with some serious assholes, as I've sometimes written about here where it's been clear folks were using me as a prop to score cool points to their followings.

Not that this kind of thing didn't happen during the blogging years of the aughts. I remember a lot of blog wars and much of the bully behavior and profile is similar. But, engaging with people on Twitter, particularly in a "dunk" context, gets not worth it fast. Unlike with comment moderation at a website, any fucken rando can chime in to the convo. And, even if you block assholes, you know their comment is still "there" on Twitter, for other people to engage with and view.

Or, you see a bunch of people vehemently agreeing with the dunk, but no one really explains.... why.  This phenomenon probably happens more on Twitter than on blogging platforms, because it more coincides with what Twitter was for. It was designed for the hot, short opinion.

Dunking has its role, I suppose, perhaps mostly if/when users are building solidarity around someone else being wrong/stupid/bad.

But, its purpose and impact on audiences compared to analysis is quite different. With respect to the article in question that I read yesterday, it was a longform piece that read like the author thought social justice writing should be a series of "dunks" and social justice lingo with almost zero analysis.

Part of this, too, might be attributable to a lot of gender studies/social justice writing in academia being inaccessible to many lay audiences - physically, financially, and/or linguistically. For instance, I read a recent journal article, and had to do so 5 times before *I think* I understood it.

It read as though it was written *for* other academics within the same bubble and sphere who already know the zillion other articles already written about the topic at hand, as well as the obscure terminology, rather than for the masses.

Nonetheless, the concepts within academic articles often flow onto Twitter and, like a modern version of the game "telephone," are often warped beyond what the author meant or intended.

So, people think they know what something means, but their understanding comes from a "dunk" or from someone else's (or their own) misreading. And concurrent with these dynamics are bots, deliberate ratfucking, and bad actors.

Despite the decline of blogging, I've also kept up my blog for more than a decade, for these (and other) reasons, including that I just get different things out of each platform.

UPDATE: Okay, the editor-in-chief of the article that inspired this post has publicly addressed the, um, problematic article. So, it's this.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Deep Thought on Aliens

The entire unit in the movie Aliens is queer. I don't make the rules, I just call it like I see it.

Ripley and the gang
Where do I start?

First, there's Ripley the badass and her sensible haircut,tiny jacket, and gray jumpsuit, obviously. Then, there's the buff woman in the red bandana and huge gun who is so butch she can only be described as homoerotically leaning into that dude wearing matching camo. On the other side of her, is the awkward dude in vest and flannel with his hands over his groin, for whatever reason.

All in all, these folks look like they could kick some alien ass and/or break into song and dance about it at any moment.

That's my deep thought today about a movie that's approximately three decades old.

I've now watched Prometheus, Alien: Covenant, Alien, and Aliens and, in addition to having some very disturbing dreams as of late, each movie thus far is a slight variation of someone in charge making a really bad decision to go to that fucken planet. Also, Cylons.

Friday, November 30, 2018

Conservative Bully Reads P0rn So You Don't Have To!

[Content note: transbigotry]

I see that Rod Dreher has continued his years-long hate-fixation with transgender people.

I won't link to it, but most recently he has reacted to Andrea Long Chu's New York Times op-ed about her experience as a transgender woman. I know Chu's op-ed has created debate within the trans community. For that reason, and others, I think trans voices should be centered and prioritized within that conversation.

Clearly, other people disagree, including Rod Dreher.

Dreher is not a trans person, a scientist, a doctor, or a mental health professional and for those reasons his musings should be given no weight.  Yet, with a confidence that belies his qualifications, he discounts the lived experiences of transgender people using the "expertise" of his "common sense" religious ideology and his platform as Professional Conservative Navel-Gazer to denigrate, misgender, and bully transgender children, teenagers, and adults all while trying to paint conservative Christians like himself as victims of a secular decadent society.

That's sort of his brand.

In his Chu blogpost, he histrionically posts update after update and that's all I'll address today. Now, he often posts updates to his articles as reader reactions come in. He particularly seems to like to either scold pro-LGBT commenters for being "uncreative" or mean to him or he wants to highlight some comment that he thinks is particularly witty (ie, it affirms his own biases/bigotry). My favorite of these are the "I'm a homosexual/Black person/feminist and I agree with ya, Rod!" genre of "private emails" he seems to receive with surprising, and not at all suspicious, regularity.

One update to the Chu piece, however, is a bit.... different. In it, he breathlessly reports how he discovered a paper Chu wrote about "sissy p0rn," gives his readers a content warning* about it, and - as though he's really taking one for the team -offers readers a summary, followed by yet another content warning.

Here he is (emphasis added):
"There are no images, but don’t click through to it and start reading unless you are prepared to go to an extremely dark place. I almost didn’t post this here, but after thinking about it, I concluded that it’s actually vitally important to know.
I’m going to summarize the paper for those who don’t want to read it. Again, I cannot caution you strongly enough about its content, and the pornographic images Chu describes in detail in the paper."
Here, I'm reminded of anti-LGBT voyeurs like Peter LaBarbera, of Americans For Truth [sic] About Homosexuality, who show up at LGBT events like Pride, Folsom Street Fair, and International Mr. Leather to document/"expose"/gawk at/whatever LGBT people for a conservative anti-LGBT audience. These armchair anthropologists start first from the premise that LGBT = bad/immoral/flawed/sinful/overly-sexual/aggressive and gather every bit of sociological "evidence" they think confirms that.

Yet, among other things, the praxis strikes me as counterproductive.

If someone weren't curious enough to go look into LGBT events or a certain type of p0rn on their own, wouldn't you sure as shit have your curiosity piqued after Dreher's impassioned, vehement description?   

You guys: this thing I found. You WON'T believe it. Don't look! Seriously, just don't. BUT, let me summarize it. I'm WARNING you, under no circumstances look into this yourselves. Why, I do declare: IT'S PORN AND ASSLESS CHAPS!


*As a note about the content warning Dreher offers his readers. He frequently uses various forms of content notes at his blog,usually with respect to content he links to that includes profanity or what he deems vulgarity. He also frequently mocks trigger warnings and other such "politically correct" content notes. Because he's very self-aware, obviously.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

I Was Just Saying

Queer women desperately need a holiday rom-com, especially because watching Love Actually becomes more and more insufferable every year now that Feminist Hivemind has collectively acknowledged that the movie is a creepy boner-centered flick masquerading as a deep, saccharine Statement About Love. (The "actually" in the title should have been the first tip-off, but alas).

Welp, via Hollywood Reporter:
 "Kristen Stewart is in talks to star in Temple Hill Entertainment and TriStar Pictures' Happiest Season, a same-sex romantic comedy from director Clea DuVall and writing partner Mary Holland, The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed.
Happiest Season portrays a young woman whose plan to propose to her girlfriend while at her family’s annual holiday party is upended when she discovers her partner hasn’t yet come out to her conservative parents."
This plot sounds slightly like the plot in Jenny's Wedding (movie review: never forget), but I have confidence that in Clea DuVall's hands, it will be oh-so-much better.

Related: Lady Love Actually

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Buckle Up, Bros

With an impending 2020 run on his horizon, Bernie Sanders is not going to receive the same delicate press treatment he received in 2016.

This is what's called foreshadowing, via NPR:

(Text of tweet from NPR Politics: "Bernie Sanders' new book, 'Where We Go From Here' is just what you might expect. His platforms are presented but not interrogated. There are stances, but few real questions and little self-reflection.")

From the NPR review of Bernie's new book:

"He also often accuses the media of not covering issues that they cover extensively, from climate change to healthcare to the Koch brothers — Sanders writes that the media has 'zero interest in what they stand for,' despite the amount of great reporting on their agenda from journalists such as Jane Mayer at The New Yorker.
His disdain, if more nuanced than Trump's, is hardly less self defeating, and at a certain point it begins to feel like what he is actually bothered by is the media's failure to cover his campaign as he would like it to be, rather than as it actually is."
When I first learned about Bernie Sanders, I had neutral-to-good first impressions of him.

The more I have learned about him over the years and have seen him in action, particularly his cantankerous asshole attitude during interviews, I have come to find him more and more unfathomably unlikeable. It's no wonder he's largely been an ineffective member of Congress with few allies in the decades he's been part of the political establishment of the US.

The way I see it, the fact that he was running as Not Hillary Clinton in a two-person race against Hillary Clinton in 2016 gave him a huge assist that he and his die-hard followers seem largely unaware of.  He won't have that in 2020. And that, coupled with the fact that he basically hasn't stopped running for president since 2014, the mainstream media - including liberal and progressive sources - will be more prone to actually vetting and criticizing him.

I don't see that working in his favor.

What's unfortunate is that, as his campaign tanks, he'll most likely wipe his ass on the drapes on the way out, helping to ensure that The Democratic Establishment fails simply because he wasn't chosen as its big savior.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

The Emailz, Lock Her Up, etc.

Well, well, well.

Donald Trump's daughter, Ivanka, has purportedly been using a personal email account to conduct government business.

Via the Chicago Tribune:

"Ivanka Trump sent hundreds of emails last year to White House aides, Cabinet officials and her assistants using a personal account, many of them in violation of federal records rules, according to people familiar with a White House examination of her correspondence.

White House ethics officials learned of Trump's repeated use of personal email when reviewing emails gathered last fall by five Cabinet agencies to respond to a public records lawsuit. That review revealed that throughout much of 2017, she often discussed or relayed official White House business using a private email account with a domain that she shares with her husband, Jared Kushner."

If you remember, and who doesn't, the mainstream media's sheer devotion to the topic of Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server during the course of government business far, far outweighed their coverage of her policy issues.

Yet, who else among Trump's administration has since been found to have used personal email for government business? His VP, Mike Pence, for one. As did at least six more of Trump's advisers. In terms of Republicans in general, Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, Marco Rubio, Chris Christie, Rick Perry, and Bobby Jindal also did.

And, it doesn't matter. It simply doesn't, because none of these people will experience the consequences or an iota of the media coverage and public shaming that Clinton experienced.

As I tweeted yesterday:
[Transcript of Tweet: It was never about the emails. It was always about finding any conceivable reason to collectively latch onto to stop a woman from becoming president.

And, it will happen again. "The emails" will simply morph into some other reason the woman "isn't qualified."]

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Is Facebook Worth It?

Today at Shakesville I wrote about the recent New York Times revelations on Facebook's behavior during and after the 2016 presidential election.

Specifically, NYT has reported that Facebook hired a PR firm to discredit those who criticized the company for allowing Cambridge Analytica to access (and then mis-use) Facebook users' personal information and that the company, which has existed since 2004, had no "policy on disinformation."

Given the diminishing public trust in Facebook, at what point will people begin to mass migrate from Facebook to other, more responsible, platforms?

Read the whole thing!

Friday, November 9, 2018

Riding the Blue Wave


As you no doubt know by now, Democrats will soon hold a majority in the House, somewhat ending one-party rule in the nation. I'm disappointed we didn't take the Senate as well, but that was always a long shot. Nonetheless, we had the largest gains in 40 years and I believe that's largely the result of the political labor, advocacy, and organizing of millions of marginalized people, primarily women.

Hilariously, religious freedom fighter Kim Davis, who refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples in contravention of a federal court order, lost her re-election bid for county clerk in Rowan County, Kentucky.

I will never not have schadenfreude when bigots lose.

Regarding Beto's loss in Texas to the unfathomably unlikeable and terrible Ted Cruz, this tweet sums up my thoughts pretty well:

When white men lose in politics, it seems like their loss is often framed as, in some way or another, actually a win. They're not automatically categorized as irredeemable losers who need to retreat from the public sphere forever. And yet, we still see regular media pieces demanding that Hillary Clinton Go Away.  There are regular think pieces on whether Nancy Pelosi should do the same, especially now that Democrats have won the House. And no such speculation for Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, even though Democrats lost seats in the Senate? Mitt Romney gets no heat for running for Senate in 2018 after his big loss to President Obama in 2012?  And what about Bernie Sanders, who lost to the candidate who lost to Donald Trump? We're all just fine with him boning up to run again in 2020?

ANYway, multiple election contests still have uncertain results. In Florida, it was initially being reported that Republican Ron DeSantis had won, but now it seems to be headed for a recount. In Georgia, Republican Brian Kemp is acting as though he's won, even though ballots remain uncounted, numerous irregularities were reported in the election, and Democrat Stacey Abrams has refused to concede. And, in Arizona, Democrat Kyrsten Sinema has taken the lead for a Senate seat over her Republican opponent.

What I continue to find disturbing are the mechanisms of our political system - such as the Senate and Electoral College - that grant conservative, rural white people disproportionate political power over a more-liberal, more-diverse majority. For instance, the states in which voters have the most voting power as determined by the number of federal elected officials per adult population are Wyoming, Nebraska, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Montana, and Delaware.

Given that the US Supreme Court majority very likely does not reflect the will of the majority on many important issues - such as economics, environmental issues, reproductive justice, and LGBT rights - the 2020 presidential election is going to be critical (I mean, in addition to the obvious critical necessity to remove Donald Trump and Republicans from executive power).   Two presidential elections in my lifetime have been decided by a conservative minority and the results for our nation have been largely disastrous, particularly with respect to George W. Bush's SCOTUS appointments and Iraq War and Donald Trump's.....*gestures wildly at everything*!

A successful 2020 Democrat candidate is going to have to be able to effectively withstand Trump/Russia/Wikileaks/social media hit jobs and carefully unite the smattering of coalitions who both form the anti-Trump resistance and have a lot of schisms with each other. Many of these schisms, after all, were leveraged for Trump's electoral college win and likely will be again.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

2018 Midterms

I feel confident that the dozens of people who read Fannie's Room regularly have voted in the 2018 midterms already, or are planning on doing so. But, if you're able to, please vote!

I cast my ballot early this year, for Democrats across the board. I'm feeling anxious. Democrats have a lot of momentum, but there are so many forces against us: Republicans' consistent appeal to bigotry to win elections, voter suppression, possible rigging and Republican collusion, a mainstream media that still seems inept (at best) in its coverage of our reality show "leader," and more.

Anyway, I did the meme:

Go Abrams! Go Beto! Go Gillum! Go Sharice!

Who are y'all voting and rooting for?

Friday, November 2, 2018

Look At All These Ladies Singing To Each Other

If you don't ship Glinda and Elphaba are you really even queer?

 Just kidding.  Talk about stuff, or not. It's Friday!

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

MAGA Dipshits Try to Comey the Midterms

I think one of many mistakes one can make when trying to pay women to fabricate sexual assault allegations against a powerful white man is to assume that even actual commitment of sexual assault would destroy the man's career.

But, leave it to rightwingers, misogynists, and other variations of anti-feminists to use false sexual assault allegations in the most cynical, projection-laden way imaginable. They constantly accuse women of wantonly lying about rape just for the fun of destroying men's careers (or of being paid to do so), but they jump at any opportunity to do exactly that. To such people, women's bodies aren't attached to human beings, we're just weapons for men to use to take down this, that, or the other political opponent.

A lot of it, too, is a perverted reversal. Women are regularly denied career opportunities for reasons far less severe than "committed sexual assault." We're too ambitious, too difficult, to devoted to our families, too emotional, too aggressive, too passive, too passive-aggressive, and, well you get the point, all-around too female.

What's funny-sad is that a lot of Russian trolls seem to understand US political nuance much better than the typical MAGA dumbass who is so used to his rightwing white-man bubble that he doesn't realize how irrational his thinking process, such as it is, is.

After all, despite many men's apparent hyper-reactive fear of being falsely smeared by conniving women, it's their man Donald Trump who helped normalize the reality that even an admitted sexual predator, like say one who has admitted on tape to grabbing women by the genitals without their consent, can rise to the very tippy-top in this nation. 

You don't get to be on Team Trump n' Kavanaugh and then act like you give a fuck about women. Ever.

This cynical use of false allegations isn't going to "prove" that Democrats "don't care about sexual assault" and therefore depress voter turnout in the 2018 midterms. Rather, it's going to remind a lot of women of how desperately vile Trump and his fanboy club of deplorables are.

And yes, "Comey" is a verb now.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

I Can't Stop Thinking About This

From The Wall Street Journal:
"No code is kept more under wraps at Walt Disney World and Disneyland than the call for a 'HEPA cleanup.' It means that, once again, a park guest has scattered the cremated ashes of a loved one somewhere in the park, and an ultrafine (or 'HEPA') vacuum cleaner is needed to suck them up.
Disney custodians say it happens about once a month."
I'm sure custodians at Disney encounter a lot of weird shit, but I'd think it would be at least somewhat traumatic to have to regularly and unexpectedly vacuum human remains during the course of one's job.

But, I also imagine it could be disturbing for the grieving to scatter their love one's ashes only to have them vacuumed up.

Anyway, it got me thinking, what other unusual places might people do this? State and national parks seems obvious, but I imagine some people probably surreptitiously leave ashes at sports arenas, stadiums, and fields. This probably happens much more than people realize, such as tourist attractions, favorite restaurants, and stores, right?

Oh, I'm being serious,by the way. I need actual ideas. I'm not saying this to elicit sympathy, but I have my mom's ashes and I don't know what to do with them as she didn't leave her wishes, and now enough time has passed that it's getting weird, so why not ask the Internet because what could go wrong?

Friday, October 26, 2018

Flashslash Friday

OH, well.

I guess this is the ship I never knew I needed in my life.  Woof!

Actors in TV shows I watch saying they ship their own characters with others of the same sex is the ultimate fan service (n=me).

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

TFW You Realize Trump Wants Bernie To Lead the Dems

Even though self-avowed socialists and lefitsts make important distinctions between themselves and, gasp!, liberals, you can count on conservatives not to.

In response to what it deems the "comeback of socialism," the White House Council on Economic Advisers has published a report warning of the dire harm that results when nations try to implement socialism (PDF).

Some of it is silly, and some of it is not (but that would be a much longer post to parse out).

What I primarily want to observe is the following.

During the 2016 election, Donald Trump promoted the narrative that Hillary Clinton rigged the election against both himself and Bernie Sanders, the man many credit for socialism's current popularity.

Bernie himself, and his campaign leadership, had problems conceding that he lost fair and square to Clinton. Partly as a result of this lingering belief that Bernie was "robbed" of a win, Bernie (and many people's support of him) never really went away the way it's demanded that certain other, ahem, election losers go away forever. In fact, Bernie is largely treated as a 2016 winner, for purportedly pushing the Democrats leftward.

It is true that in the aftermath of the 2016 election, some high-profile Democratic politicians have publicly expressed more left-wing positions, such as supporting Medicare For All. Moving left is not necessarily a bad thing, but some of it seems to have been done in a reflexive, follow-the-white-man way in which a lot of people are taking cues from either Trump or Bernie. The mainstream media, too, has dutifully conceded that Bernie is the leader of the left and that everyone he hasn't properly anointed as a true leftist is therefore a "centrist" or "moderate."

Aside from the particularities of broad socialist policies (For instance, what happens to reproductive and trans healthcare rights when Republicans control the government that controls "healthcare for all"? And when the fuck are we going to talk about childcare?), I think many of the what I call "online socialists" simply have no clue how socialism, and particularly rightwing caricatures of it, plays in much of rural white America. I grew up in rural America in the 1980s, in a town that was about 99% working-class white people.

The teachers at my public schools told us horror stories about what happened to people in communist regimes. "Communist" was used often as a synonym for fascist, liberal, n-word, and/or Democrat. Yet, many of the men were in labor unions. And, the women had low-paying service sector jobs where unionization either couldn't happen or unions in the area didn't give a shit about them. Yeah, there was potential for .... political education, I guess. But I remember zero socialists (or Democrats or Republicans) going there and trying to organize or educate (or learn from) people.

The truth is, in the US, a lot of white guys across the political spectrum seem to fetishize violent political revolution. I don't mean that in a "both side-ism" way.  I think it's far, far more prominent and worse on the right in the US, mostly because the US has been rigged for the racist, anti-woman far right since its founding. Indeed, even as they adopt hammer/sickle avatars and so forth, the Internet left-wing "revolutionaries" seem not to realize that an actual violent leftwing revolution would probably be squelched in the United States very, very quickly, as both the military and police force are more conservative than the general population.

My larger point today is that if the "online left," and even academia to an extent, spent a tenth of the time doing real-world outreach and education to the ordinary people(tm) they think are latent socialists as they did "dunking on libs," "ironically" being misogynistic rape culture racists, and having esoteric circle-the-wagons intra-left debates, I wouldn't feel so hopeless at the moment. (Because, unfortunately, toxic cishet white men often hog the best gigs, the leadership positions, and the large platforms via which they spew their versions of "socialism").

All that said, I'm not necessarily saying it's wrong for Democrats to move leftward. But that the debates we're about to see regarding socialism are going to be very, very stupid in the age of Twitter and Fox News, so Bernie and the Democrats who have kowtowed to him better have a fucking plan if they're leading this shitshow.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Trans People Exist, Elections Matter, and Identity Politics Are Here To Stay

I have a new piece up at Shakesville today about the Trump Administration's ongoing attack on transgender and non-binary people.

Here's a snippet:
"Republicans know they can get away with attacking trans people partly because they know that many people on the moderate-to-left side of the political spectrum, particularly cishet white men, will give them sufficient cover.

Remember the spate of articles right after the 2016 election, those high-and-mighty 'I told you so' taunts of marginalized people: You people had this coming for obsessing about identity politics!

I think about Mark Lilla's version of this genre often. His piece was called, 'The End of Identity Liberalism.'  Wishful thinking, there? It was also published at The New York Times. For sufficient balance to all those 'trans people are people' pieces, I suppose."
This national conversation must center the voices and perspectives of trans and non-binary individuals, and definitely not the voices of those whose prism for "identity politics" is that it's all a game.

Read the whole thing.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Supergirl Is Back!

I know there's a lot going on in the world but I, for one, am happy to be able to watch Supergirl zoom around National City again!

I have so many questions.

Is it just me, or does Alex's hair keep getting gayer and gayer each season? Will Cat Grant ever come back to reunite with her one true soulmate, Supergirl?  What will Nicole Maines' new character be like? Will Winn and James tie the knot anytime soon? Will Mon-El stay away?

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

I am officially watching the entire Alien movie canon, because I've only seen bits and pieces here and there. I also recently got the Pandemic Legacy tabletop game and am looking forward to giving it a go. I usually give various Buffy episodes a re-watch around Halloween, but the older I get the younger the Scoobies also start to seem. This year, I'm opting for The Haunting of Hill House. YIKES.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Gilead of Republicans Stand By Their Man, Kavanaugh

I wrote about yesterday's Kavanaugh hearing over at Shakesville:
Notice how so much of his testimony was him recounting his top-dog academic, cultural, and legal experiences, as though we all take it as a given that a man of such stature couldn't possibly have done wrong and thus might experience consequences for shitty, frat-bro behavior. Notice how he blubbered about his sports buds, and his female mentees, and the Anonymous Woman Friend who purportedly texted him that he was "a good man," as though any of it rendered an attempted rape of a woman factually impossible.
Read the whole thing!

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Choirboy Kavanaugh and Rightwing Women

Whereas Donald Trump will thumb his nose at the left on the daily, performatively admitting to his fans on Twitter that he knows what despicable behavior he can get away with, Trump fan and National Organization for [Heterosexual] Marriage (NOM) president Brian Brown on the other hand treats the citizenry like credulous, cherubic nimrods.

Desperate and salivating to see Obergefell overturned, watch how Brown (in a 9/21/18 NOM blogpost, which I'm not linking to) describes Clarence Thomas, Donald Trump, and Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh (emphasis in original):
"...[R]ight on cue, came the dirty trick they are hoping will derail or at least delay Kavanaugh's confirmation, the infamous 'sexual assault' allegation against him from his time as a high school student!
This is so predictable. They did the same thing against Clarence Thomas when he was nominated to the Supreme Court decades ago. They tried to use this against President Trump in the 2016 presidential election. And now they are using it against a supremely qualified nominee, someone who is a devout believer in Jesus Christ, who devotes himself as a volunteer to the less fortunate, who dearly loves his wife and family and who has gone out of his way to promote and mentor young women who wish to pursue a career in the law."
It's a little hard to know where to start breaking this one down, isn't it?  First, there's the reality that Donald Trump admitted to sexual assault on tape, tape that is in the public record. Yet, Brown acts as though Democrats making a big deal about that is some sort of unfair bit of fake news. Then, there's the implication that a "devout believer in Jesus Christ" couldn't possibly be a sexual predator. That would be big news to the Catholic Church. And, I suppose it didn't cross the mono-manic Brown's mind that, perhaps, many sexual predators position themselves as mentors to young people because it gives them greater access to targets.

Yet, what I really want to highlight here is how the conservative pretense for giving a damn about women really falls away here. In Right Wing Women, one of Andrea Dworkin's observations was that conservative women choose conservative anti-feminism because they believe it offers them a safe harbor from the rape culture misogyny on the left (which, yes, exists). They - particularly white Christian women - give up equality in exchange for being protected by, and privileged within, white Christian patriarchy.

Of course, a lot of the "protection" is a sham. The reality for women is that men across the political spectrum can be abusive and we're all making choices within a flawed system rigged for elite men.

Yet, what's interesting in this political moment is the extent to which conservative elite men are now openly admitting to the sham. No serious person can in good faith believe Trump treats women well. And, far from being the saintly protector of women, Kavanaugh himself was part of a frat-bro culture that relished in the homosocial humiliation of women. Brown, too, completely throws women's, and victim's, rights under the bus in his zeal for his obsessive, anti-LGBT "one man, one woman" campaign.

Since the 2016 election, we in the US have been living within a new wave of both feminism and intense, overt misogyny. The way I see it, many women, even conservative white Christians, have the capacity to be reached either by feminist messaging or to retreat backwards in fear, internalizing the misogyny, lashing out at women (especially feminists), and seeking more protection from abusive, shitty men.

This dynamic underscores just one of the many reasons it's imperative that the left continue to seriously address allegations of sexual assault, abuse, and predation committed by those on the left. Not only is it the right thing to do, but we must offer women - all women - a better, safer experience than what they're getting on the right.

Monday, September 3, 2018

Monday Feeling

Gillian Anderson's new look:

That reminds me: "I'm not the waiter." 

Never forget.

Friday, August 31, 2018

This Interview Though!

This actual, real-life Cate Blanchett interview is something else. And by something else, I mean that it reads like real person Mary Sue fanfic as written by a queer woman and I am incredibly envious of the interviewer:
"'I thought we’d have a picnic,' Blanchett suggests, leading the way out of the front door and across the sun-bleached lawn down towards a small lake. In the centre of it is a tiny island, about 20 feet across, accessed by a wooden bridge. A table covered in a white cloth has been set up here in the shade of a tall pine-tree twined with last Christmas’ fairy lights. We sit down to homemade quiches and plates of ham and cheese, while Doug snuffles greedily at our feet. 'I never drink wine at lunchtime,' jokes Blanchett, pouring out glasses of iced rosé."
In the interview, Blanchett also refers to her "rage" at the "lazy incompetence of the men" responsible for Brexit.

I mean. Queer woman catnip right there. All of it.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Quote of the Day: White Evangelicals

Amy Walter has written of a Pew Research assessment of the 2016 electorate.

The first interesting finding is that Trump did worse among white women than what exit polls found. Exit polls suggested 52% voted for Trump, while the Pew data suggests 47%. That's still high, but the second notable point is that being evangelical is by far the strongest predictor of whether a white person supports Trump.

It remains odd to me that very few commentators on the left, when discussing Trump's support among white people, make note of this.

From Walter's piece:
"...Mike Podhorzer, AFL-CIO’s political director, suggests that if we want to have a better understanding of white, non-college educated voters, we need to stop lumping them into one, catch-all category. What really distinguishes a Trump-supporting white voter from one who doesn’t isn’t education or even gender, it's whether or not that voter is evangelical.

Using a data set from Public Religion Research Institute, Podhorzer broke out white voters by gender, education and whether they identified as evangelical. The gap between white voters who approve and disapprove of Trump by gender was 25 points. By education (college versus non-college) it was about the same at 26 percent. But the gap in perceptions of the president between white voters who are evangelical and those who aren’t was a whopping 60 percent!

This evangelical support gap transcends education and gender. For example, among white evangelicals, college-educated men and non-college educated men give Trump equally impressive job approval ratings (78 percent and 80 percent respectively). But, among white men who aren’t evangelical, the education gap is significant. Those without a college degree give Trump a 52 percent job approval rating, while just 40 percent of those with a college degree approve of the job he’s doing."
As I've written before, many evangelicals view Trump as a Christian Cultural Warrior are are quite willing to overlook his many flaws as long as he provides them with big culture war wins.

While some politicians, commentators, and advocates on the left operate as though white Trump voters can be swayed by promoting policies that might better their socioeconomic and health statuses, such as Medicare for All and free college, I'm not sure that's the case with many evangelicals - who have long been motivated by opposition to abortion, LGBT rights, and anything they and their leaders deem "political correctness gone too far."

I'd consider evidence, if presented, that the vast majority of conservative white evangelicals are latent socialists-in-waiting. But right now, I don't buy it.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Few To Benefit From Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program

Back in 2008, I wrote a quite critical rundown of the College Cost Reduction and Access Act of 2007 noting that, in a nutshell, it comes nowhere near addressing the astronomically rising costs of attending college.

I'll also note that the student loan experience is personal for me, as well. I'm the first in my immediate family to have received a 4-year college degree and had zero financial assistance from my family in doing so. Almost two decades after attending college and grad school, I'm still making monthly payments on my student loans.

The College Cost Reduction and Access Act included a benefit for those who work in public service. To summarize, someone who makes monthly payments, while on the correct payment plan, for 10 years while working in full-time public service as defined by the US Department of Education, can have the balance of their federal loans forgiven.

In 2008, I noted:
"In addition, your loans must be what are called federal 'Direct Loans' held by the Department of Education. Private loans, which have higher interest rates than federal loans, are not eligible for forgiveness....

In addition, this provision does nothing to reward those who have already been working in public service. For people who, for instance, have been working at a nonprofit while paying down their loans for say the past 8 years, their years of public service for purposes of this loan forgiveness provision will still begin in 2007, just as a new graduate's will. Then after 120 payments beginning in 2007, any student loan debt that is remaining will be forgiven."
I knew then that it would be difficult for many people to remain eligible for this benefit. For one, public service salaries tend to be much lower than private sector salaries, which means if someone is working in the public sector with a huge student loan debt, it can be difficult to make ends meet or to meet other life milestones a person might also want to meet, such as buying a house and/or starting a family.

Also, as detailed in an important Mother Jones piece (worth reading in its entirety), many borrowers run into barriers with federal loan administrators, who often make mistakes, give conflicting information, and miscount payments, but are rarely held accountable. So that now, the current situation is as follows:
"October 2017 should have been a moment for celebration for those sunk by debt—it was the first time a cohort of PSLF participants, after 10 years of payments, could be forgiven. Yet of almost 900,000 people who have submitted at least one payment to the PSLF program and FedLoan since 2012, the Education Department expects fewer than 1,000 to be forgiven by the end of its fiscal year. The reasons for these astonishingly dismal statistics are myriad, but one fact is clear: A decade after McIlvaine and scores of others began paying into the program, many are only barely closer to their goal of being debt-free. And some are even more in debt than when they started."
Despite how difficult it already is for borrowers to benefit from the PSLF, the Trump Republican Administration wants to get rid of it.

As the Mother Jones piece details, Republican policy around tuition is grounded in a philosophy wherein college students have a "personal responsibility" to assume the risk of taking on massive debt for a college degree.

All in all, it's a real win for Jill Stein voters in the 2016 election. She trashed Donald Trump's opponent for months and promised the cancellation of student debt altogether, so now nobody's getting anything even remotely close to that!

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

No, You Don't Have To "Tolerate" Nazi "Free Speech"

Today at Shakesville, I have a piece up about "free speech" and the tolerance trap:
"What if all of your abstract adherence to 'anything goes' free speech for, and liberal 'tolerance' of, bigots isn't principled at all; it's just a reflection of your own comfort with a bigoted status quo and your discomfort with taking a stand against abusers?"
 Read the whole thing!

Monday, August 27, 2018

On McCain: Something To Ponder

As the mainstream media breathlessly falls ass-over-heels onto its fainting couch detailing all the real and imagined indignities Donald Trump inflicts upon the honor of John McCain.

I really have nothing else to say except to note that, while yes there's a lot of news these days, it will never not be sickening to see mass displays of ahistorical insta-memoriams of dead conservative white men.

The bar is. so. fucking. low.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Friday Feeling

Brandi Carlile wearing a fedora, vest, and bandana.

Discuss this or anything!

Thursday, August 16, 2018

For Women, Our "Peak" Isn't Determined By Men

I have a new piece up at Shakesville, regarding Netflix phenom Nanette and women's "peak." A snippet:

"Near the end of her comedy special, after recounting previous experiences of men assaulting her when she was younger, Gadsby declares, 'I am in my prime. Would you test your strength out on me?' She defines her peak and, consequently, it's determined by when she feels strong, not by the extent to which men are comfortable or turned on. Indeed, to the contrary, her entire routine as a comedian in her peak does, and should, make many men feel deeply uncomfortable."
Check out the whole thing!

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Homophobic, Male Supremacist Institution Also Predatory

[Content note: sexual assault]

This is deeply immoral. From the New York Times:
"Bishops and other leaders of the Roman Catholic Church in Pennsylvania covered up child sexual abuse by more than 300 priests over a period of 70 years, persuading victims not to report the abuse and police officers not to investigate it, according to a report issued by a grand jury on Tuesday.


The report catalogs horrific instances of abuse, including a priest who raped a young girl in the hospital after she had her tonsils out, and another priest who was allowed to stay in ministry after impregnating a 17-year-old girl, forging a signature on a marriage certificate and then divorcing the girl.

Despite some institutional reform, individual leaders of the church have largely escaped public accountability,' the grand jury wrote. 'Priests were raping little boys and girls, and the men of God who were responsible for them not only did nothing; they hid it all. For decades.'”
Given the depraved, shameless behavior of so many Catholic leaders, under what moral authority do the men in charge of the Catholic Church dare deny women and LGBT people our full humanity, bodily autonomy, and happiness in life?

To be clear, I see the Catholic Church's allowance of widespread predation as nothing less than the simple prioritization of male supremacy and institutional power over the well-being of human beings.

Don't worry though, I'm sure it's just a matter of time until Trump's Republican Administration proclaims that the Catholic Church has a right to practice its religious freedom to rape children.

Friday, August 10, 2018

"Debate Me, Coward"

I swear I will at some point get back to writing recaps and fan vids, but here I am just randomly sitting here on a Friday night thinking about that time Bernie Sanders, after he lost the 2016 Democratic Primary to Hillary Clinton, offered to debate her opponent, Donald Trump. The subtext, of course, was that Hillary was a weakling cowardly girl and that a man was needed to do a man's job of standing up to another man.

(Nevermind that Donald Trump declined Bernie's challenge. A man can decline such things and, rather than being widely viewed as a coward, he's just authoritatively setting a boundary).

That is my prelude to the apparent bafflement I'm seeing by some on "the left" that many Hillary supporters, particularly those who are not Bernie superfans, support Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

It shouldn't be baffling at all, really, but when have some segments of "the left" ever stooped so low as to try to understand a "Hillbot alt-centrist." GLEEP GLORP.

The first step to understanding this great mystery is to first and foremost understand that many Hillary supporters aren't, contrary to peculiar "leftist" definition, "centrists" at all. Many of us are progressive, intersectional feminists who support various incarnations of democratic socialism but find white-leftbro and cool girl Twitter "socialism" completely dysfunctional, toxic, and counter-productive.

"Centrist" has only come to mean "someone who doesn't believe Bernie Sanders is the one true lord and savior" in very recent years, and it would be great if we could revert back to a less idiosyncratic and more accurate definition of the word. The mainstream media, of course, is of little help in this regard, as they've widely and lazily ceded this definition.

The second step is to understand that many of us experienced Bernie Sanders, his campaign, and his supporters as playing into misogynistic tropes about female politicians for his own political campaign. That's not something I've see Ocasio-Cortez do. Rather, rightwingers and her opponents are actually going to use such tropes against her. And, they already are, in fact.

I hope that helps clarify the situation.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

More Thoughts on Playing the Woman Card

I have a new piece up over at Shakesville on the parallels between female trial attorneys and politicians, and what it means to "play the woman card." A snippet:

"The legitimate critiques of progressive female politicians also often serve as a gateway rationale for 'progressive' misogynists to hold female politicians to vastly higher standards than their male opponents and, ultimately, dismiss them from consideration altogether.

You know how it goes, I'd vote for a woman, just not that woman. 

It's why I will always believe that Donald Trump was the candidate for many of the men who didn't care if people called him a misogynist. Bernie Sanders was the candidate for many of the men who did. Sometimes I wonder how much of The One True Revolution is built upon the reality that many misogynists who were anti-Trump simply needed, and found, in Bernie Sanders a candidate who wasn't the woman. But, when white men continue to dominate the narration of US politics, who within the mainstream media will tell you that?"
 Check out the whole thing.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

The Absurdity of Engaging Abusers Rationally

Particularly since the 2016 election, op-eds along the lines of "why we must be nice to bigots" have become something of a cottage industry.

Over at Everywhereist, Geraldine shares her account of what happened when she tried to engage her Internet abusers with civility and an open, questioning mind.

In short, it was sort of pointless.

The problem with Internet abusers, you see, is that they are abusive, a trait that often comes with it an unwillingness or inability to show empathy, and deliberate attempt to push buttons and cause pain. Remember, "Many 'trolls' understand that their targets might be feeling upset, sad, angry, or hurt - they just don't care," because the typical profile of an Internet abuser is that he (most often) rates high in psychopathy and sadism and low in empathy.

In my experience dealing with Internet abusers, they adapt their abuse to whatever method I use to engage them: If I ignore or block them, they frame me as a coward. If I directly engage them, they continue and often escalate the abuse, often roping in abusive allies. If I de-construct the nature of their abuse in a blogpost, they frame me as pathetic for writing a blogpost about their abuse. If I show anger, sadness, or fear, they mock me, obviously pleased at getting a reaction.

Geraldine ends her piece:

"There’s a lot of discussion about how we need to reach out and talk to people who disagree with us – how we need to extend an olive branch and find common ground – and that’s a lovely sentiment, but in order for that to work, the other party needs to be … well, not a raging asshole. Insisting that people continue to reach out to their abusers in hopes that they will change suggests that the abuse is somehow in the victim’s hands to control. This puts a ridiculously unfair onus on marginalized groups – in particular, women of color, who are the group most likely to be harassed online."

I note here with a fair amount of cynicism that some of the endless, daily acts of emotional labor that marginalized people engage in both keeps us safer in the world and continues to privilege the feelings of the privileged. It's part of what makes bigotry, and abuse (because they are hopelessly intertwined), so difficult to eradicate.

Think for a second when the last piece scolding you to be nicer to bigots came with it even the barest acknowledgement of the emotional toll that doing so might take on you, or ways to keep your self safe when navigating these conversations, or - hell - an admission that these scold-pieces themselves are, yes, quite absurd but necessary because, in the US, privileged people have a pervasive, infantile notion that if bigotry exists at all, it only exists in its most obvious-to-the-privileged manifestations: the KKK grand wizard, the Westboro Baptist Church, Ann Coulter, and so forth. 

In the US, most people are culturally trained to disregard the feelings, pain, and lived experiences of  those who are not male, not white, not cisgender, not Christian, and not heterosexual.  A refusal to coddle bigots and abusers is so uncomfortable for many people because it de-centers the privileged within the conversation.

At its core, refusing to coddle bigots and abusers sometimes isn't about convincing assholes to be nicer, it's to tell ourselves and everyone else that we fucking deserve better even if the asshole doesn't think so.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Here's Why Some People Can't Stand Bernie Sanders

Here's Bernie Sanders on July 26, 2018, talking about how the Democrats need a 50-state strategy:
"Sanders told me by phone from Washington, a few days after his Kansas stop, that a 50-state strategy is common sense.

'It is beyond comprehension, the degree to which the Democratic party nationally has essentially abdicated half of the states in this country to rightwing Republicans, including some of the poorest states in America, those in the south,' Sanders said. 'The reason I go to Kansas and many so-called red states is that I will do everything that I can to bring new people into the political process in states which are today conservative. I do not know how you turn those states around unless you go there and get people excited.'”
Yet, in March 2016, during the Democratic Primary, Bernie's campaign manager Jeff Weaver admitted to doing that very abdication:
"Jeff Weaver, Sanders’ campaign manager, said on the call that their campaign chose not to compete in eight of the 32 states that have held primaries or caucuses so far. Weaver identified Texas, Alabama, Virginia, Tennessee, Mississippi, Arkansas, Georgia and Louisiana as the states where they didn’t mount a challenge to Clinton, who swept all of the Southern contests; he said the Sanders campaign did not broadcast television advertisements in those eight states or have 'a big campaign presence.'
'Almost all of Secretary Clinton’s delegate lead come from states where she faced little or no competition,' said Tad Devine, Sanders’ senior campaign strategist. 'Her grasp now on the nomination is almost entirely on the basis of victories in states where Bernie Sanders did not compete.'”
Bernie Sanders is hypocrite who will take any and every opportunity to trash Democrats and act as though he alone is different because he cares about all the people that Democrats have ignored, forgotten, and abdicated, even if - in fact - he and his well-paid, internationally-connected consultants are as establishment, truth-spinning, and political as they come.

Bernie's narrative also, of course, erases the hard work that actual Democrats in red states do every day against almost insurmountable conservative and right-wing forces. Of course, this day-to-day, lower-profile, and unglamorous work is likely disproportionately done by women and people of color so it's entirely possible that Bernie doesn't know it's occurring or doesn't view it as political labor.

(Cross-posted at Shakesville)

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Quote of the Day

Hillary Clinton warned us, before the election, and was largely met with derision while Trump's "no puppet, no puppet" line was amplified and joked about.

Hillary Clinton was correct.

It is now July 2018, and Donald Trump continues to hold rallies for himself at which his supporters chant "lock her up," referring to Hillary Clinton, the woman who won the 2016 popular vote in spite of Putin's assist to his buddy Trump.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Whedon Gets Another Female-Centric Show

I know there's a lot going on in the world right now, politically speaking, but I also believe pop culture, and who produces it for the masses, is inherently political. Pop culture is often a reflection of larger political trends, creator biases, and power dynamics. It can also normalize and replicate them.

Netflix has granted Joss Whedon the opportunity to write, direct, executive produce, and showrun a new series about a group of Victorian women with unusual abilities.

Whedon, in my opinion, now occupies an awkward, at best, place within he sphere of feminist and woman-centered pop culture. For one, as Karen Osborne reminded folks on Twitter, Whedon's ex-wife has contended that he has used his power and influence to have affairs with women in the TV/film industry, including on shows which he has produced.

Two, he is still widely hailed as a feminist hero, largely for his work on Buffy. But, the role of white male leaders within feminist pop culture must always be, I believe, examined within a context in which systemic discrimination has stifled the potential of women since the industry's dawn.

Virginia Woolf, of course, wrote of Shakespear's Sister, the equally-brilliant sister of William who, because of opportunities denied to her, never shared her gift with the world. When we keep tapping into the same pool of talent, it's the world's loss. What stories, narratives, and characters' voices are we not hearing because white men so often hoard the best gigs for themselves?  And, while I won't say that all men should be excluded from telling stories about women, I will say I harbor a certain distrust of men who think it's their place to do so, knowing that so many women lack the same opportunity to tell these stories from our perspectives.

Three, and finally, I had forgotten that when he killed Tara off, it was the first episode in which Amber Benson was credited as a series regular. What an unbelievably jerkish and privileged way to treat queer fans of a believed show.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Vital Programming in the Trump Era

I have learned that the male point of view is so dearly under-represented nowadays that men need their own special "no women allowed" show, barftastically titled, "Real Men Watch Bravo" and hosted by Jerry O'Connell.

From The Guardian (emphasis added):
"In a press release, the network described O’Connell as 'a walking encyclopedia of Bravo history', stating that the actor will appear 'alongside a panel of male celebrities, comics and tastemakers, discussing the buzziest Bravo moments'. The panelists, the release assures us, will be 'unapologetic Bravoholics' who will provide 'the male point of view pertaining to all things Bravo'.

In other words, Real Men Watch Bravo is meant to be a bit of meta-counter-programming, featuring men talking about Bravo’s TV shows in a presumably manly way. The question of why women will be excluded from the opportunity to provide commentary on Bravo’s programming went unaddressed in the press release."
With respect to the unaddressed question, I guess it's just one of life's enduring mysteries, the answer to which we'll never know.

But, I'll take a gander. With the article noting that two-thirds of Bravo viewers are women, is the idea that men are needed to come talk about these "feminine" TV shows and validate them with their authoritarian manly presences? Is the show really actually for women, so they can learn what "real men" think about their girly TV shows? Or, is ..... is the idea here really that male opinions don't already have super-sized influence on pop culture - even "feminine"-coded pop culture - and thus this show fills a vital gap in that respect?

Thursday, June 28, 2018

America the Broken: We Carry On

I don't have as much optimism and faith as President Obama does in our political system, given that it was designed, rigged, and established from the get-go as by and for white male supremacy.

I grieve, in advance, for what Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy's impending retirement means for the USA, the people in it, and the rest of the world. If you're scared and angry, I'm with you.

Three years ago, I sat in my office crying tears of joy that the US Supreme Court effectively legalized same-sex marriage nationwide. Now, of course, we know that rightwing groups like NOM are rarin' to have Obergefell overturned. Plus Roe, and more.

What does it mean that a historically-unpopular man who lost the 2016 popular vote, who is under investigation for colluding with a foreign entity in that election, has already picked not one but now two members of the nation's highest court that, in theory, is a check on executive power?

It means the legitimacy of our democracy and political system further erodes.

Previously, I've written:
"Donald Trump is the inevitable Republican politician for a rotten-to-the-core Republican Party that has condoned the use of any means necessary to win. To enact their regressive, cruel agenda, they have enabled a man to become President who is not only temperamentally-unsuited and unqualified for the office he holds, but whose very presence there is a daily, stark reminder of their contempt for both democracy and the people of this nation."
Republicans, operating by a different set of rules altogether, will win by any means they can with whatever power they can amass even if via foreign entities, while Democrats will wag their fingers at each other about opposing Republicans in an appropriately civil manner.

In 2017, Melissa McEwan aptly described the 2016 election as "a catastrophic failure to listen to women." When you think about it, that's actually a pretty good encapsulation of our nation's history, as well.  Women, and marginalized people, speak. And white men simply don't listen. Over and over and over again.

That doesn't strike me as very "civil," but that system of assumed white male superiority has long been the standard of "civility" in the USA.

I don't know what else to say that doesn't sound completely cynical or fatalistic. But, the way forward absolutely must involve (a) a clear understanding of the circumstances in which we've found ourselves and (b) a validation of our fears, anger, and anxieties.

Because, goddess knows, the maintsream media, still giving daily handjobs to Trump voters, isn't going to do either a or b very well.

That is to say, no one else is going to save us.

As a related point, achieving justice is never a "one and done" thing. Yes, I mourn for the legacy that the US Supreme Court and the Trump/Pence Republican Administration are going to leave for future generations. But, we also didn't start this dumpster fire. The system was broken and rigged when we got here. We are where we are because of the mistakes, struggles, terrors, misdeeds, and victories of previous generations.

As I tweeted not too long ago, simply waiting for the old bigots to "die out" or "the children to grow up and save us" isn't an actual strategy. Remember, rightwing Trump advisor Stephen Miller is just 32. Young white men aggrieved by feminists, women, people of color, and Muslims flock to alt-right and MRA message boards, with the worst of them shooting up public places.

The struggle for justice is a lifelong one in which every generation is going to have stay engaged. With hope, they will read about our struggles (from the perspectives of the marginalized) and learn from our mistakes and victories.

I'm not here to tell you everything's going to be okay. For many people, it won't be. But, I'll never stop trying.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Zero Fucks Friday

Between Hillary's "But my emails" tweet regarding James Comey's use of a private email account to conduct FBI business and Amy Poehler's responses to a recent interview I hereby declare today Zero Fucks Friday.

Zero fucks refers, of course,to an abiding disgust at the white heteropatriachy, not to a lack of concern about the shithole world it has created.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Dispatches From the Queer Resistance (No. 7)

Today, over at Shakesville, I have written a Pride Month edition of Dispatches From the Queer Resistance, a regular run-down of recent LGBT-related news.

Check it out!

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Today In Internet

Via Newsweek, this seems fine:
"Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) trained an artificial intelligence algorithm dubbed 'Norman' to become a psychopath by only exposing it to macabre Reddit images of gruesome deaths and violence, according to a new study."
After exposing the AI to violent images, the researchers then tested it with Rorscach inkblot tests:

"Among the Rorschach inkblots used to test the now-tainted AI, Norman said an image showed a man being 'shot dead,' while a standard AI looked at the same image and saw 'a close up of a vase with flowers.' In another, Norman said he saw a man being shot 'in front of his screaming wife,' while the AI not exposed to sordid, disturbing images saw 'a person holding an umbrella in the air.'"
...The MIT researchers in this study redacted the name of the specific subreddits used to train the AI. The researchers said the AI 'suffered from extended exposure to the darkest corners of Reddit' to illustrate 'the dangers of Artificial Intelligence gone wrong when biased data is used in machine learning algorithms.'"
Imagine what sadistic, sociopathic, and psychopathic web content is doing to actual human beings. What is the mental health impact, not just of violent web content, but of trolling, harassment, and microtargeting of Internet users?

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Recap: Supergirl 3.12 "For Good"

So, we begin with Alex putting Sam in an MRI machine (as one does) to see if she can figure out what's going on. Who caught Alex's reference to her past job "in Seattle"? (ha ha snort)

Alex doesn't see anything wrong with the scans. Then she gives Sam a pep talk about how she's not a burden to anyone and, in fact, would she like to get dinner sometime, just the two of them? Okay, I might have made that last part up. But a girl can hope, right?

Meanwhile, Lena and James are hanging out and they run into that douchey guy whose name I never remember. Sledge? Hedge? Whatever.

He says something snarky about "the liberal media" and then drives away in his car. It turns out the car is rigged with a bomb and he almost dies. Sledge storms into L Corp because I guess this major media company has zero security and accuses Lena of trying to kill him. Lena seems genuinely perplexed, even though they do actually hate each other. I dunno. I just don't care about this dude.

Like 3 minutes after Sledge leaves L Corp, an assistant comes into Lena's office with some coffee that no one ordered. Spoiler alert: it's actually poisonous coffee which, importantly, means that Kara has to quickly fly Lena to the DEO to get her to an antidote.

Interestingly, Kara actually flies "as Kara" rather than as Supergirl, which seems fine.

Kara and Little Grey then save Lena from the poison, and they all know that it was Sledge who was responsible for the poisonous coffee.

Lena's mum shows up, offers to kill Sledge, and mocks L Corp. Just part of my ongoing theory that the CW DC-verse hates mothers (Related: Women Over 40 Are Evil). Lena then enlists Kara's help in thwarting her mum's plans. She convinces Edge to confess to trying to kill her and, in return, she'll help save his life.

This plan works and the point of this episode is therefore that Lena is a Luthor who is a schemer but not evil.

Deep Thought of the Week: Supergirl flying with women.

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