Friday, April 20, 2018

When Fascism Comes To the USA

Madeline Albright is pulling no punches in her new book, Fascism: A Warning:
"Why, per Freedom House, is democracy now 'under assault and in retreat'? Why are many people in positions of power seeking to undermine public confidence in elections, the courts, the media, and - on the fundamental question of earth's future - science? Why have such dangerous splits been allowed to develop between rich and poor, urban and rural, those with a higher education and those without? Why has the United States - at least temporarily - abdicated its leadership in world affairs? And why, this far into the twenty-first century, are we once again talking about Fascism?

One reason, frankly, is Donald Trump. If we think of fascism as a wound from the past that had almost healed, putting Trump in the White House was like ripping off the bandage and picking at the scab."
Do you ever notice that marginalized people - women, people of color, LGBTs - tend to talk about Donald Trump much, much differently than do cishet white guys?

I do.

While some prominent white male pundits and politicians will, say, speculate about how this or that white guy woulda won the 2016 election or gaslighting us about the threat Trump and his fans pose, many women/marginalized people seem to see things differently.

In what is perhaps the most direct such call from a sitting member of Congress, for instance, US Representative Maxine Waters regularly heralds Trump's impeachment, on Twitter. Women are, and should be, leading the anti-Trump resistance as, for far too long, our perspectives, humanity, and potential have been stifled in favor of building white-male-discourse-only bubbles of mediocrity, terror, and segregation.

The way Albright seems to see it is that Donald Trump's electoral college win signals both decline and danger.

Maybe there's a simple truth as to why so many cishet white men "don't see" the threat Trump poses. An easy explanation is that when women/people of color/LGBTs are marginalized, they benefit. That structure, in fact, has been the historical status quo from which they've reaped massive rewards in this country.

I think that it is no accident that fascism is coming to the USA just at the very moment we arrived, almost, at a very meaningful precipice for women.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Mediocre White Man Is Mediocre At WaPo

The fact that Richard Cohen's absurd piece defending white men from being reversely discriminated against was written by himself, a grown-ass man, and published in The Washington Post and not, instead, written by an adolescent for his high school paper tells us pretty much everything we need to know about how real and widespread discrimination against white men is in the real world.

Here are some telling quotes from the piece itself. He acknowledges that discrimination against women/people of color is (was?) a very real and widespread thing:
  • "Let me concede right at the top that it was always better to be white in America than black. Let me further stipulate that in the workplace, it has usually been better to be a man than a woman."
  • "My first real job was with the New York office of a national insurance company. Sexual harassment was a problem, for sure."
  • "Our office was exclusively white and not by accident. When I asked my boss why we had no black employees, he told me directly that it was his policy not to hire any."
  • "When I went into journalism, it was mostly a guy’s thing. It was rare for a woman to be a foreign correspondent, rarer still for one to cover a war. My career surely benefited from that. There are women around today who I am glad I didn’t have to compete against when I was starting out."
Here, Cohen acknowledges that his own career benefited precisely because he didn't have to compete against women/people of color, who were widely and very blatantly excluded from his profession.

Yet, watch and observe this display of Peak White Man:
"Once I was passed over for a newsroom position I very much wanted. 'We needed a woman,' an editor told me. I said nothing, although I seethed. In short order, I was made a columnist, so I didn’t even get a chance to cry. But the instant rush of utter unfairness lingers. The woman chosen was qualified, but her qualification had nothing to do with her sex. I was told she was just a needed statistic.

The way women have been treated in the workplace is wrong — everything from pay disparity to sexual harassment to outright discrimination. But the past does not obliterate the solemn obligation to treat people as individuals, not primarily as members of a sex or race. Fairness demands it. Democracy requires it."
One time, Cohen wanted a job, a qualified woman got it instead, and then he got a different job he wanted anyway, and still.... he seethed with anger at the injustice to himself. 

Cohen talks a big game at the end, uttering platitudes about fairness and the "solemn obligation" to treat everyone as individuals, and yet what, if anything, has he ever done about discrimination against women/people of color in his career except benefit from it?

And yet, just think. If Cohen had had to compete against women/people of color since the very start of his career, we all might have been spared this cold-diarrhea analysis in favor of something much, much more embiggening to the public discourse.


Friday, April 13, 2018

Wonderslash Friday

Who has seen Professor Marston and the Wonder Women, about William Moulton Marston (who created Wonder Woman), Elizabeth Marston, and Olive Byrne?

While the three lived together in real life, and were portrayed in the movie as being in a polyamorous relationship that included Elizabeth and Olive being romantic partners, the true nature of their relationship has been contested. Nevertheless, because few portrayals of poly relationships exist in TV and film, I was able to enjoy the movie, even with the caveat in the back of my mind that what I was seeing might be fictional.

Also, for whatever reason, the Bill Marston character wasn't annoying to me. Maybe because he was played by a guy who's openly gay in real life. Go figure.

 Enjoy today's fan vid, featuring the trio.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

A Personal Twitter Update

I've deleted Twitter from my phone.

I may install it again, but my main goal in deleting it was to at least temporarily prevent myself from compulsively checking it, while observing any change in my attitude, perceptions of the news, and my own mental state.

So far, it's been highly liberating (even though, yes, I do check it via computer).

As I mentioned last week, news happens very fast on Twitter, along with lightning-fast "takes" and misinformation. Twitter largely, for me, has become something of a time suck in which I observe a steady stream of people reacting (which I guess is the point), but the reactions themselves are often strongly-negative while also being somehow incredibly-fleeting.

It's not all bad. But, in the immediate aftermath of the 2016 election, I wrote that people on social media, especially Twitter, seemed to have been having different experiences and perceptions of Election 2016 than people who were not. We now know, of course, that some of the skewing of perception and the shit-stirring was intentionally cultivated by Russian agents and Cambridge Analytica, among others.

"Today on Twitter, the President said" is just a thing that we read and hear and see over and over and over again because it is also now completely normalized within the mainstream media that Donald Trump recklessly and incompetently broadcasts his democracy-destroying utterances and warmongering provocations via his Goebbels-Schnauze, while the press largely seems to be very impressed that he speaks so "directly" to the citizenry of the world, unlike that deceptive she-bot who ran against him.

I also find that I am not always remembering some of the outrages from months ago, not because they are not horrible, but because they are so, so many. So much that I sometimes think, my god, how can we ever dig ourselves out of this? Can this ever become unbroken?

To maintain my hope, I cannot have these thoughts be the first and last that I reach for at my nightstand.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

A Reminder: (Mis)Information Spreads Fast

Melissa Jeltsen at Huffington Post has written a piece about the prosecution of Noor Salman, the widow of Pulse nightclub shooter Omar Mateen. In it, she notes, "Every mass tragedy begets a frantic search for answers, for a common understanding of what happened, for a narrative, and the 2016 Pulse massacre was no different."

This happens very, very fast on Twitter, in particular.

People first learn of an event, then they immediately begin crafting a narrative based on initial news reports that are not always accurate, and then the narratives start going viral. Information and misinformation spreads much more quickly than investigations occur offline. Narratives get even more complicated when the situation involves victims and perpetrators who are all members of different marginalized groups.

I'm thinking most recently of the tragedy of the Hart family, all of whom are believed to be dead after their car was found crashed off the Pacific Coast Highway, and in which the Twitter consensus seems to be that two women hatched a Thelma & Louise conspiracy to murder their family, even though - as just one of several other possible explanations - one of them could also be a victim of spousal abuse and/or murder.

Jeltsen continues, regarding the Pulse shooting:
"A Muslim woman who by her family’s account was beaten by Mateen, Salman might have been a sympathetic figure in a different context. But I think now of Bob Kunst’s sign. A longtime human rights activist, Kunst was protesting outside the federal courthouse, just two miles from the nightclub where the tragedy occurred, as Salman’s trial began. 'FRY’ HER,' his sign read, 'TILL SHE HAS NO ‘PULSE.'  It didn’t seem to occur to many people that Noor Salman might have been a victim of Mateen, too.
Salman’s trial cast doubt on everything we thought we knew about Mateen. There was no evidence he was a closeted gay man, no evidence that he was ever on Grindr. He looked at porn involving older women, but investigators who scoured Mateen’s electronic devices couldn’t find any internet history related to homosexuality. (There were daily, obsessive searches about ISIS, however.) Mateen had extramarital affairs with women, two of whom testified during the trial about his duplicitous ways.
Mateen may very well have been homophobic. He supported ISIS, after all, and his father, an FBI informant currently under criminal investigation, told NBC that his son once got angry after seeing two men kissing. But whatever his personal feelings, the overwhelming evidence suggests his attack was not motivated by it.

As far as investigators could tell, Mateen had never been to Pulse before, whether as a patron or to case the nightclub. Even prosecutors acknowledged in their closing statement that Pulse was not his original target; it was the Disney Springs shopping and entertainment complex. They presented evidence demonstrating that Mateen chose Pulse randomly less than an hour before the attack. It is not clear he even knew it was a gay bar. A security guard recalled Mateen asking where all the women were, apparently in earnest, in the minutes before he began his slaughter."
I want to be clear that I see queer people's terror (including my own) in response to the Pulse shooting as entirely legitimate. All narratives aside, the facts at hand in the immediate aftermath were that Mateen did indeed slaughter people at a gay bar, and living in a society that constantly tells you that you are less than for being queer, this type of tragedy is horrifying and seems very obviously targeted at you.

Yet, Jeltsen documents the swift carelessness with which mainstream media outlets began linking Salman to the crime (Sample New York Post headline: "She could have saved them all"). Here, how might have implicit and explicit biases against Muslims informed the widely-believed narrative that Mateen and his wife were co-conspirators in a targeted hate crime against gays?

How many people have been misinformed about a myriad of facts in the two years since the tragedy occurred? How many people will ever have their perceptions or knowledge of this tragedy corrected?

Friday, March 30, 2018

SuperCorp Friday

I know I'm behind on the Supergirl recaps, mostly because I'm behind on watching the show itself.

However, that's no reason I can't be entertained by fake movie trailers featuring Kara/Lena. I may have mentioned before that fake movie trailers, particularly fake Imagine Me & You trailers, are one of my favorite genres of fan video.

But also, imagine, if you will, an entire universe of only queer movies. For instance, Beauty and the Beast, featuring Lena and Red Kryptonite Kara:

I also encountered fake trailers for SuperCorp versions of Star Wars, 50 Shades of Grey, and (of course) Imagine Me & You. I would 100% watch all of these movies.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Comedians In Cars Being Rich Assholes

I might have mentioned once or twice that I'm one of approximately 17 people in the multiverse who never got into the show Seinfeld, or Jerry Seinfeld in general, despite giving it a good try.

That's why this article, panning Seinfeld's Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee, is so thoroughly satisfying to me. I've never watched this particular show (see above), but it sounds horrible:
"It’s not hard to understand why the show exists, but a slightly harder question to answer is why it fucking sucks shit. I will admit it is nicely shot. The rest of it feels more like the exercise of a man who spent his life obsessing over fancy cars and needed an excuse to write off his expensive hobby.
...Here, we’re presented with a man who looks like the Seinfeld we [sic] know and love, but his foibles are no longer our own. Perhaps it’s a side effect of the Trump era, but a significant percentage of us are not exactly in the mood these days to watch the grabass exploits of a monied narcissist."
I often see, as in this piece, the suggestion that Seinfeld's character in Seinfeld was a "humble everyman," but that characterization never resonated with me. In fact, his persona in Comedians In Cars seems pretty on point with how I've always seen the guy.

Anyway, the correction at the end of the piece is somehow just perfect:
"Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated Jerry owned a Porsche on Seinfeld."
Somebody both knew and needed this bit of fake Seinfeld news corrected.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Facebook Users and Informed Consent

This op-ed is a week old, but over at The New York Times, Zeynep Tufekci wrote about Facebook surveillance in general and with respect to the 2016 election. 

In it, she makes an important point about, while user profiling and surveillance are part of Facebook's business model, it's likely that most users do not give informed consent to everything the company does:
"Facebook doesn’t just record every click and 'like' on the site. It also collects browsing histories. It also purchases 'external' data like financial information about users (though European nations have some regulations that block some of this). Facebook recently announced its intent to merge 'offline' data — things you do in the physical world, such as making purchases in a brick-and-mortar store — with its vast online databases.

Facebook even creates 'shadow profiles' of nonusers. That is, even if you are not on Facebook, the company may well have compiled a profile of you, inferred from data provided by your friends or from other data. This is an involuntary dossier from which you cannot opt out in the United States.
.....Let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that you had explicitly consented to turn over your Facebook data to another company. Do you keep up with the latest academic research on computational inference? Did you know that algorithms now do a pretty good job of inferring a person’s personality traits, sexual orientation, political views, mental health status, substance abuse history and more just from his or her Facebook 'likes' — and that there are new applications of this data being discovered every day?
Given this confusing and rapidly changing state of affairs about what the data may reveal and how it may be used, consent to ongoing and extensive data collection can be neither fully informed nor truly consensual — especially since it is practically irrevocable."
Most Facebook users know that the company generates revenue by selling ads, many likely sense that these ads are targeted to them. But, it's likely that most users don't know the extent of it. See, for instance, this Twitter thread.

As I've noted before, we should be terrified if Mark Zuckerberg actually does choose to run for office, particularly given the number of human profiles, including profiles of people who don't even use Facebook, his company has seemingly amassed.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Conservatives Respond to Gun Violence Activism

If you're active on Facebook and Twitter, you might be seeing some posts about a campaign called "Walk Up Not Out."

Here's some background, via an article about it:
"Walk Up Not Out proponents say students should try harder to reach out with friendliness and compassion to their more solitary peers. By moving out of their comfort zones and helping their peers feel more welcome, the theory goes, students could potentially head off angry impulses or an outbreak of violence."
This article further notes that the campaign is being promoted by conservatives and others against gun control, which corresponds with my experience.

Let me tell you.

As a national movement against gun violence takes shape, the following responses have been f-a-s-c-i-n-a-t-i-n-g to watch:

(a) I've seen a correlation between people who support Trump and people who support Walk Up Not Out.

While I support an authentic anti-bullying program, I believe folks have lost moral authority on the matter of bullying if they've supported a predatory, serial social media bully for president and have largely reveled in "libtard snowflake tears" since the 2016 election.

Yet, even for those Walk-Uppers who aren't themselves bullies, the entire premise of the campaign itself is both a false dichotomy and a gross victim blaming. We can advocate for love and respect in our schools while also advocating for peaceful protests and gun control.

(b) Some anti-gun-control folks seem to loathe the kids leading the March for Our Lives movement. But also, so do many anti-choicers (and there seems to be a lot of overlap within these categories).

Rod Dreher, for instance, the anti-choice conservative Christian who regularly rages against the scourge of "transgenders" and political correctness in society, calls David Hogg "a disgusting little creep" whose harsh rhetoric supposedly ruined Dreher's chance of ever supporting the March for Our Lives movement.

In a later post, Dreher mocks Hogg for not having a completely-detailed policy proposal on the table.

As a reminder, it as been approximately six weeks since a shooter killed 17 of Hogg's classmates. in light of that, he might be experiencing a fair amount of PTSD. I, for one, don't expect high schoolers, let alone those who have just experienced a major traumatic event, to have comprehensive policy proposals developed with respect to school shootings.

What I do find compelling, however, is the position, "I don't want to be murdered while going to school." That, I believe, is a pretty solid starting point for the conversation, particularly given that most previous attempts to even broach the conversation are met with "pleas" to "not politicize" the various shootings that have occurred in US history. It is the job of adults to work with youth to seriously address this issue. The youth are neither going to be our big saviors nor should they be 100% dismissed just because they're kids.

Unfortunately, we've been treated to a plethora of articles from the right, bleeding into the mainstream, wherein kids are absolutely loathed for, supposedly, being hyper-politically-correct snowflakes. It's hard not to view these grotesque attacks on the March for Our Lives youth as an extension of this larger attack on youth and, more generally, treating people with respect.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Students Lead Historic March Against Gun Violence

Two of the largest single-day protests in US history have occurred during Donald Trump's tenure. Today, over at Shakesville, I wrote about one of them - this past weekend's March for Our Lives, which was a massive student-led mobilization against gun violence.

Check it out!

Friday, March 23, 2018

Friday Fun

Me, last night: I'm going to write something serious for Friday.

(proceeds to search YouTube for Scooby-Doo Daphne/Velma femslash videos)

What are y'all entertained by these days?

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Cambridge Analytica Stirred the (Supposedly Non-Existent) Bigotries of White America

Over at Shakesville today, I wrote about the fixation the political class has about being outraged by Hillary Clinton not being kind enough to Trump voters:
"What is critical to understand is that the notion that Trump supporters are largely not bigots is a political fiction that is primarily perpetuated by influential white men in the media and political establishment as a perverse form of political correctness.

It is a political fiction because the data suggests that, actually, "racial attitudes towards blacks and immigration are the key factors associated with support for Trump." And, via The Washington Post:

[W]hite millennial Trump voters were likely to believe in something we call "white vulnerability" — the perception that whites, through no fault of their own, are losing ground to other groups. Second, racial resentment was the primary driver of white vulnerability — even when accounting for income, education level, or employment.
This political fiction of non-existent bigotry of white America fits squarely within the mainstream narrative of American Exceptionalism that has barely even begun to reckon with its historical treatment of non-white, non-male people both within and outside of its borders.

This political fiction is, like misogyny, a national vulnerability."
Read the whole thing!

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

What Is Cambridge Analytica's Impact On Mental Health?

Cambridge Analytica has been in the US mainstream media since at least 2015, such as in this Bloomberg piece that describes the company's activities on behalf of Republican candidates for political office.

The piece describes how the company predicts voters' psychological profiles based on their online activities and then, based on these profiles, helps candidates design micro-targeted ads aimed at those who fit these various profiles. For instance, here's a description of the company's activities circa 2014:
"[The John Bolton super-PAC] group had one objective—to convince voters to support Republican candidates based on national-security issues—and it served well to demonstrate a personality-driven theory of political persuasion. Bolton’s committee agreed to communicate over satellite-television systems like Dish and DirecTV, which, unlike broadcast and most cable systems, permitted ads to be assigned differently to specific subscribers, allowing Cambridge Analytica to fully exploit the benefit of its individual-level modeling.

The firm, which was paid $341,025 for its work, advised Bolton’s team on the design of six ads, thirty seconds each, with wildly different creative approaches. One ad, targeted at voters modeled to be conscientious and agreeable, was set to upbeat music and showed Bolton standing outdoors on a bright day, matter-of-factly addressing the need to 'leave a stronger, safer America for our children.'

In another, aimed at neurotics, the diplomat was invisible—replaced by storm clouds, foreigners burning American flags, and an admonition to 'vote like your life depends on it,' intoned by an disembodied narrator. 'That’s obviously something that’s quite emotive,' says Nix, 'as we’re really looking to drive an emotional reaction from an audience who would be inclined to give you one.'”
As more information comes to light about this company's activities, particularly in the 2016 election, something we must also consider is how the general population's mental health might be being impacted by this deliberate sort of triggering of people's personality types. I get the sense that many people are struggling, mentally, right now and these targeted ads seem designed to stoke the precise negative emotions many are experiencing.

To be sure, mental health is complicated and driven by many factors. Yet, the above snippet is just one of many tidbits that confirms for me that we're living a Black Mirror episode with no end in sight.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Shifting the Overton Window As Republican Strategy

Politico ran a telling profile of a little-known Republican mega-donor by the name of Richad Uihlein.

Uihlein is supporting the campaign of Jeanne Ives, who is challenging Illinois governor Bruce Rauner in the Republican primary today. Via Politico, here's an encapsulation of the kind of campaign Ives is running:
"Democrats and many Republicans in Illinois were horrified by the ad: a 60-second spot released by Gov. Bruce Rauner’s GOP primary challenger, Jeanne Ives, featuring a parade of politically incorrect takes on thorny cultural issues. A deep-voiced man portraying a transgender woman tells Rauner, 'Thank you for signing legislation that lets me use the girls bathroom.' Then a young woman thanks Rauner for 'making all Illinois families pay for my abortions.'”
Ives is unlikely to beat Rauner in the Republican primary, as every poll I've seen has shown Rauner with a substantial lead. Plus, Ives is a woman. White men generally seem to fare better in elections when they assume the Trumpian personality traits of anti-establishment, unqualified, and bigot.

What struck me about the article, instead, was this description of Uihlein's motives (emphasis added):
“'Here is a passionate social and economic conservative who is willing to spend a large sum of money wherever he can in hopes of moving the needle, knowing he’s going to lose a lot of bets,' said an Illinois Republican with knowledge of Uihlein’s political giving. 'He’s not measuring himself by wins and losses — he’s measuring himself by moving the debate.'”
The aim here seems to be to shift the Overton window ever further to the right, which has been a concern of mine since the beginning of the Trump era.

As tempting as some might find it to laud less-overtly bigoted Republicans as "moderate," we must remember that the Republican Party as a whole has offered no meaningful resistance to the Trump Administration or his actions to dismantle our political system.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Enough! National School Walkout Held Today

Earlier today, I attended a rally in support of the students participating in the National School Walkout. This protest is being held in schools across the US today, on the one month anniversary of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school in Florida.

Via the Women's March website:
"Women’s March Youth Empower is calling for a National School Walkout to protest Congress’ refusal to take action on the gun violence epidemic plaguing our schools and neighborhoods. Our elected officials must do more than tweet thoughts and prayers in response to this violence. Students and allies are organizing a National School Walkout to demand Congress pass legislation to keep us safe from gun violence at our schools, on our streets and in our homes and places of worship. We view this work as part of an ongoing and decades-long movement for gun violence prevention, in honor of all victims of gun violence ㅡ from James Brady to Trayvon Martin to the 17 people killed in Parkland."
Student organizers and the nonprofit organization Everytown For Gun Safety are also planning a march for later this month, on March 24th, in Washington, DC and across the US, called the March For Our Lives.

For many years, it's been hard for me not to feel helpless about gun violence in the United States. I want to feel hopeful, particularly in light of the recent waves of activism, but feeling hopeful sometimes just feels naive because so often, nothing ever changes with respect to gun violence.

Still, I choose to show up, if only to stand in solidarity with those who are in mourning, those who are fearful, those who are angry, and those who have more hope than I do.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Radio Wednesday: "The Joke" - Brandi Carlile

If you've been reading this here blog for awhile, it's no secret that our current political situation is distressing to me. I want to be optimistic, but some days it's hard. I am sustained largely by family, friends, working out, eating well, writing, caffeine, vodka, satisfyingly resonant political pieces, pop culture, and music.

Brandi Carlile's latest album, By the Way, I Forgive You is a poignant work of art for this political moment. I was casually listening to the album in the car when I was struck by the lyrics to one of the stand-out songs, "The Joke":
You get discouraged, don't you, girl?
It's your brother's world for a while longer
We gotta dance with the devil on a river
To beat the stream
Call it living the dream, call it kicking the ladder
They come to kick dirt in your face
To call you weak and then displace you
After carrying your baby on your back across the desert
I saw your eyes behind your hair
And you're looking tired, but you don't look scared
The first two lines are almost certainly about the 2016 election and, as I was listening, I felt a sense of deep sadness, followed by a validation that I feel has largely been missing in mainstream punditry.

While the mainstream press has spent the last year and a half obsessing about Trump voters in general, and angry white men in particular, the meaning and impact of Hillary Clinton's loss to a misogynistic predator, for the girls living through this political moment has been explored much less. That is a failing, and it's one I think about often.

In my political writing, I think one of my biggest goals is to provide validation for posterity and anyone who may stumble across my posts, that we've been enduring some massive, fucked-up gaslighting about the pain many girls and women have experienced. Far too often, people like me are denigrated as "Hillary cultists" when the reality is that we simply, subversively refuse to hate women in a profoundly misogynistic society.

In the next verse, Carlile expresses an optimism that I don't always feel and that we, of course, are not assured.
Let 'em laugh while they can
Let 'em spin, let 'em scatter in the wind
I have been to the movies, I've seen how it ends
And the joke's on them
I will never stop hoping, at least.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

TV Corner: Everything Sucks! (and I Don't Care About McQuaid)

Over at Shakesville, I have shared a critique of Netflix original Everything Sucks!  

Specifically, I have strong opinions about male nerd intrusions during a specifically queer moment. Spoilers abound in the snippet below:

"Immediately after Kate and Emaline share their first kiss, the camera perspective widens and we see McQuaid storm into the auditorium. The camera then focuses on him watching the girls, while his face is fixed in agony over being confronted with the reality that Emaline is kissing someone else. After several seconds, he goes into the hallway, and we go with him, and he slumps back against a locker as if in visceral pain.

So, in what should be a triumphant moment for Kate, Emaline, and their respective self-discoveries, we are instead left watching a tangential heterosexual male nerd experience angst about what he has just watched the female characters do. We are implicitly invited to empathize with McQuaid.

It is a profoundly befuddling choice, although not surprising."
 Read the whole thing!

Friday, March 2, 2018

2018 Winter Olympics Roundup Friday

What kind of lesbian would I be if I didn't even mention the recent Winter Olympics in PyeongChang?

The truth is, I don't understand many of the Winter Games. As an athlete, how do you just get into skeleton, for instance? The name alone is horrifying, and then you go headfirst at (checks Google) 90 miles per hour? NOPE. I also think it might help people appreciate the difficulty of each sport if regular non-Olympians did a run-through before each event, just for context. Just spit-ballin'.

Welp, now that I've really built up my expertise, here are my esteemed thoughts on the Winter Games:

1. Figure Skating

Given the degree to which women are hated, it is inherently subversive to be a femme guy. This is especially true in the Trump-Pence era, which politically has a been a big win for toxic, macho "I have the biggest nuke" masculinity.

Enter Adam Rippon, openly-gay, feminine US Olympic figure skater.

Rippon first came to my attention when he criticized the White House's decision to let the anti-LGBT Mike Pence lead the US delegation at the Olympic opening ceremonies. He was then later reported to have denied Mike Pence's request to meet for conversation (which Mike Pence publicly denied). The son of the sitting US President then, via Twitter, attacked the US Olympian during the Olympic games.

Despite the distractions, Rippon went on to help the US team win a bronze medal. Here's a great clip, from 2017, of him singing and then doing a routine to "Diamonds." As one does:

2. Hockey

Congratulations to the US Women's Hockey team for winning the gold medal! They beat Canada in a 3-2 shootout. I don't regularly watch hockey, but go team! YAY!

3. Curling

I watched the South Korea vs. Japan curling game at a bar with friends. We* were all big fans of the Korean team and, in particular, their leader - who seems quite skilled and has cool glasses (and is cute, but that's tangential):

The South Korean team seemed to be underdogs at the Olympics as, in an interview, the coach alluded to difficulties in obtaining resources for curling in South Korea. However, they ended up winning the silver medal. Congratulations!

As a fun fact, the team members each gave themselves English nicknames that were breakfast foods. The more you know, folks!

(*n = me)

That's pretty much my rundown. I'm sure a lot of other meaningful and cool things happened.What else happened? What else are people watching, playing, reading, or doing?

Thursday, March 1, 2018

I Can't Stop Thinking About This

Someone privately explained to me that "big mo" might a sportsball reference to signify "big momentum," but as a sporty lesbian I'm here to say that momentum is not what immediately crosses my mind when I hear the word "mo."



Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Bernie's Kids Run For Office and It's Fine Because Bernie!

It would irritate me a lot less that Bernie Sanders' son and stepdaughter are running for office if Bernie fans and white male pundits wouldn't have spent the past two years telling Chelsea Clinton to go away, never run for office, and join her mother knitting socks in the woods as if wicked witches in a Grimm Fairy Tale.

It would also irritate me less if the Twitter presence of Levi Sanders', who is Bernie's son, wasn't the epitome of what's so profoundly offensive about the unfortunate phenomenon popularly known as Bernie-Bro-ism, the predominate features of which are the pretense that it's somehow progressive to take offense at the phrase "white privilege," to disparage Chelsea Clinton for being in a news article, and generally coddling the bigotries and misogyny of the (white, male) working class.

Levi is running for US House of Representatives for New Hampshire's 1st District (in which he doesn't live). His Twitter commentary has been garnering scrutiny since he announced his campaign, as Aphra Behn breaks it down, on Twitter:
His commentary is cringe-inducing, really.

In an interview with Vice, Levi has stated that he is running on a platform similar to his father's:
"'The basic difference is that I’m a vegetarian and he’s not,' Levi said of his father, adding that despite their policy similarities he would run his own campaign. Levi said he has talked to his dad about the race but declined to elaborate."
I don't have any particular investment in the New Hampshire race as ultimately it's up to the people who live in that district to decide who they want to represent them.

For me, as someone who has been critical of Bernie, the juxtaposition of Bernie with Levi is interesting in that it taps into my fears about what Bernie is possibly really like when he's uncensored and off camera. That Bernie Sanders has a history of dodging questions he doesn't want to address doesn't help my perception of him as hiding really problematic views.

Finally, as the mainstream media largely uncritically accepts that "the Bernie wing" of the US is far left and that "Clintonites" and Bernie critics are "centrists," Levi is a good example of how, on many issues, that's simply not the case.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

CPAC Crowd Boos Woman For Telling Truth

At last week's Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), conservative Mona Charen participated in a panel on the #MeToo movement. She wrote about the experience in a New York Times op-ed:
"...[T]his time, and particularly in front of this crowd, it felt far more urgent to point out of the hypocrisy of our side: How can conservative women hope to have any credibility on the subtext of sexual harassment or relations between the sexes when they excuse the behavior of President Trump? And how can we participate in any conversation about sexual ethics when the Republican president and the Republican Party backed a man credibly accused of child molestation for the United States Senate.

I watched my fellow panelists' eyes widen. And then the booing began."
Charen shares that uttering this truth was freeing, in a way, even though she was dreading the reaction. By her account, it seems as though the women on this CPAC #MeToo panel were perhaps supposed to be there to bash liberal feminist hypocrisy, rather than to truthfully acknowledge and critique the conservative men who have actually raped, harassed, and molested women and children.

What I want to note in relation to this event is that Trump ran on a message that he was a courageous truth-teller in a world gone mad with truth-repressing political correctness. Yet, at CPAC, when confronted with the reality that the Republican Party, evangelical Christians, and conservatives now openly aid and abet the political careers of sexual predators, possibly one of the most Trump-friendly crowds to assemble in the US couldn't handle it.

I remain convinced, as ever, that the real aim of modern-day conservatism is: "truth, unless it's inconvenient to white male domination."

As always, "deplorables"  and "half" was probably too kind.

Related, and regarding Donald's recent claim that he would've run into Stoneman Douglas High School unarmed to stop the shooting:

Friday, February 23, 2018

A Guide To the Simpsons' Political Beliefs

For whatever reason,* I couldn't stop thinking about this last night:

I even had a dream where I detailed the political stances of every Simpsons family member and so now I'm going to subject you, dear readers, to it.
  • Marge doesn't follow politics closely, but as someone who does not like cruelty, she is most certainly not a Republican. She was weirded out by Jill Stein and Gary Johnson, and ended up voting for Hillary.
  • Homer, while sometimes a dipshit, is only an asshole sometimes and so therefore would not have supported Trump. He liked that Bernie Sanders, having gotten sucked into the anger. but he forgot to vote in either the primary or the general election because he was hungover and/or got distracted by a donut sale.
  • Bart is a future libertarian bro, mildly sociopathic, and probably the only Simpson who would have voted for Trump (in his school's mock election, because he's a kid).
  • Lisa would have shown up to the mock elections wearing a white pantsuit, ready to the pull the lever for Hillary, obvs.
  • Maggie is a baby. Babies can't vote, or flirt for that matter.
  • Patty (who is a lesbian) and her sister Selma would have voted for Hillary, obvs.  

Yes, no?

*For whatever reasons = I've been watching The Simpsons since the early 1990s, have multiple season DVD box sets, used to own and play multiple The Simpsons video games, and might even still own "The Simpsons Sing the Blues" compact disc.

See also: Former Simpsons animator Anna Maltese's commentary on this important topic.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Free, Unsolicited Advice to White Male Democratic* Politicians

Over at Shakesville today, I offer some advice to white male Democrats, as well as a reminder that it might be unwise for them to overlook our current revived feminist movement.

Here's a snippet:
Politicians, advocates, and pundits talk a lot of populism these days, but rarely do so in the context of ordinary, everyday women. To be blunt, populism is most commonly used in association with white male anger. As purported default human beings, it is often assumed that the white male life experience is the universal, with everyone else's being particular.

Yet, if we accept that women are people, we are better able to understand that today's revived feminist movement is very much also a populist movement. You might not immediately recognize it as such because an angry white man is not leading it and angry white men are not at the center of it.
 Read the whole thing!

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Wayback Wednesday

Can you still even believe this shit?

Not only did Hillary Clinton tell us during a televised debate that Russia was interfering in the 2016 election, but Donald Trump openly and publicly encouraged Russia to do so. And yet, for unknown mystery reasons, people still widely perceived Donald to be more trustworthy than Clinton.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Mueller Investigation Continues: Russians Indicted

The big news from last Friday is that the US Justice Department has charged 13 Russians and 3 companies in an indictment for conspiring to interfere in US electoral and political processes, including the 2016 election.

The full indictment can be read here, but here are some highlights of the charges:
  • One of the Defendants, the Internet Research Agency, registered as Russian corporation in 2013, occupied an office in St. Petersburg, Russia, and sought to conduct "information warfare against the United States of America" via false social media personas on social media platforms and the Internet.
  • The Defendants posed as U.S. persons on social media sites addressing "divisive U.S. political and social issues." These sites "reached significant numbers of Americans." For instance, one fake "Tennessee GOP" Twitter account obtained over 100,000 followers. And, I have a question about that right away: did the real Tennessee GOP not realize that someone had co-opted their Twitter presence? How does that happen?
  • Defendants and their co-conspirators used their fake personas to post content focusing on U.S. politics "and to 'use any opportunity to criticize Hillary and the rest (except Sanders and Trump - we support them).'" Now, with respect to that, I think it's somewhat obvious why Russia would favor Trump: he's incompetent and they possibly have compromising information on him. But, why would they have supported Bernie Sanders? Did they support him primarily to undermine Hillary? Did they believe that, had he won, he would have been a weak/ineffective leader? How much of Bernie's oft-discussed "stunning" primary run was attributable to Russian interference? The mainstream media needs to pursue these answers, particularly if Sanders is planning a 2020 run.
  • Defendants communicated with and distributed materials to "unwitting" members of the Trump Campaign.
  • Defendants, via their social media personas, began alleging voter fraud on the part of the Democratic Party. Here I'll note that Donald Trump repeatedly claimed that the 2016 election was being "rigged" against, or "stolen from," him. Bernie Sanders, for his part, has done little to disabuse the American public of the notion that the Democratic Primary was stolen from him, even though evidence to support that claim is lacking.
  • Some of the Defendants traveled to the U.S. to collect intelligence and meet with real U.S. persons.
  • After the election, the Defendants organized both pro- and anti-Trump political rallies. The aim with respect to these rallies seems to be to sow discord.
  • Defendants and their co-conspirators opened fraudulent bank and PayPal accounts to send money into and out of the United States to promote Internet Research Agency's operations and for enrichment.
In response, Donald Trump has stated on Twitter that that his campaign did nothing wrong.

Now, unless there's been a drastic change in legal procedure that I'm not aware of wherein Cadet Bone Spurs' Twitter denials automatically halt an investigation, Mueller's work will continue, for now.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Tales In Fauxbjectivity: "Indian Marauders" Edition

My grand experiment of reading at least one biography of every US president slogs along at number five, James Monroe.

For this one, I'm reading The Last Founding Father: James Monroe and a Nation's Call To Greatness, by Harlow Giles Unger.

Summary: Somebody save me from the uncritical fawning.

For instance, how can a thinking person take the following seriously, regarding the status of western expansion during the Revolutionary War (emphasis added):
"As primogeniture became the guiding principle of inheritance, thousands of disinherited Americans - usually younger sons of eastern farmers - stood poised to move west as soon as the American government cleared out Indian marauders and made the territory safe to inhabit and farm."
As far as I can tell, Unger uttered in complete earnestness this notion that Native Americans had somehow pre-stolen land that non-firstborn white men did not yet occupy but were nonetheless entitled to by virtue of their white male American-ness. It's so typically American: if white men create a system that disadvantages a proportion of other white men, but is still better than what they've arranged for white women and all people of color, we're supposed to sympathize with and relate first and foremost to the disadvantaged white men.

Add this one instance to the thousands of others in US history wherein white male Americans take from others what is not theirs to take. Multiply that by the thousands upon thousands of white male historians who uncritically repeat this entitlement-coddling perspective. Then, factor in those who teach this perspective and repeat it and share it and learn it and come to believe in it.

A very clear story of white male American entitlement takes shape.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Happy Galentines Day

This is just to pop in and provide a very important Xena update:
Love to all the dykes on Twitter right now unashamedly sharing what the show meant to them back in the day.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Quote of the Day: The Tone From the Top

Dahlia Lithwick on Rob Porter, White House staff secretary and the latest powerful man revealed to be an abuser:
"Taken together, all the grown-ups in the room protected, privileged, and covered for Rob Porter despite everything they knew about his pattern of abuse, because his career was important to them. Even well-educated, high-status, articulate white women who were lawfully married to Porter didn’t matter enough to be taken seriously. 

Please stop asking why women don’t come forward. These women did. They believed that once the police, the FBI, the White House, and John Kelly knew what they knew, Porter would stop ascending in their ranks. They were wrong. 

Rob Porter’s father wrote eloquently about the presidency and 'a tone from the top.' The tone from the top of the Trump administration has unerringly been that women are to be cherished and protected right up until the moment they stop being docile and decorative, and then they are to be dismissed and humiliated. Rob Porter’s defenders knew everything they needed to know. They did nothing because he was visible to them and his accusers were nothing. But the tone comes from the top, and nobody should be even a bit surprised"
In case anyone has yet to connect the dots from the past year or so: Donald Trump is a misogynist who surrounds himself with other misogynists and he was supported by millions of Americans who are also misogynists who wanted to see a powerful woman humiliated when for daring to compete with a man for the same job.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Dispatches From the Queer Resistance (No. 6)

Over at Shakesville, I have written a roundup of recent queer-related news.   

Spoiler Alert: It turns out that Donald Trump and Mike Pence are not allies!

Check it out.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Russian Bots Still Influencing US Politics

If you're looking for an overview of how Russian bot activity is still ongoing, Molly McKew has written an important piece at Politco how bots, humans, and bot-human combos are gaming Twitter for purposes of changing political opinions and behavior.

That McKew's piece is written in the context of how bots have just recently massively amplified the pro-Trump #releasethememo hashtag on Twitter underscores that Russian agents continue to influence both US politics and the very narratives about Russia's influence on our politics.

Here are some key take-aways:

1) "Sleeper" bots are activated during particular political moments. Take bot account "KARYN" for instance:
"The KARYN account is an interesting example of how bots lay a groundwork of information architecture within social media. It was registered in 2012, tweeting only a handful of times between July 2012 and November 2013 (mostly against President Barack Obama and in favor of the GOP). Then the account goes dormant until June 2016—the period that was identified by former FBI Director James Comey as the beginning of the most intense phase of Russian operations to interfere in the U.S. elections."
2) Russian bots will follow legitimate pro-Trump Twitter users and then use a massive bot network to amplify the pro-Trump content produced by these legitimate users, with the goal of getting users with large followings (such as Laura Ingraham, who has over 2 million followers) to amplify and legitimize the messaging.

3) McKew refers to some bot accounts as "cyborg" accounts in that they are partially automated but actual humans are also organizing their behavior.

4) It is clear that at least some trending content is artificially popular because bots and human users are gaming Twitter.

5) The sort of activities that influenced the 2016 election are ongoing and political, security, and corporate leadership appear ill-equipped to handle it:
"A year after it should have become an indisputable fact that Russia launched a sophisticated, lucky, daring, aggressive campaign against the American public, we’re as exposed and vulnerable as we ever were—if not more so, because now so many tools we might have sharpened to aid us in this fight seem blunted and discarded by the very people who should be honing their edge. There is no leadership. No one is building awareness of how these automated influence campaigns are being used against us. Maybe everyone still thinks if they are the one to control it, then they win, and they’ll do it better, more ethically."
These activities will be ongoing for the US elections held in 2018 and 2020.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Femslash February: Mrs. Maisel

Okay, who is watching The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel?

It's 1958.

First, we have Midge, a femme comedienne - inherently subversive, already - full of charisma, raw talent, smarts, and curiosity about the art. Midge has a loser husband who (is it a spoiler alert if it happens right away in the pilot?) steals comedy routines for his own use and has an affair because he's insecure about his lack of talent.

For that reason alone, he barely warrants mentioning. Yet, the more important reason I don't give a hoot about "the husband" is that Midge has the best chemistry with her friend/comedy tutor/agent, a butch gal named (wait for it) Sue.

And honeys, if ever a lez there was:

I love her.

What I adore most of all about Sue is that I know approximately 37 actual queer and/or butch women who have Sue's exact persona (although only a few of them are actually named Sue).  

Look at the suspenders, pageboy hat, slacks with tucked-in shirt, and keys on a chain around her neck (definitely NOT a necklace, but what are they keys to? where do they fit? what do they open?). Notice the way she looks at Midge, whether they're drinking Schlitz together or Midge is on stage doing a routine. Observe Sue's dry humor, which she clearly uses to mask her discomfort about showing any feelings that might be construed as "affectionate" or "letting someone in." Is it self-preservation? This is the 1950s, after all. But, will Midge, one day, unlock the stony walls around Sue's heart?

We get a lot of Midge/Susie subtext. I like to think it's intentional and Amy Sherman-Palladino is somewhat making up for the lack of queer characters in Gilmore Girls. Although, it's also 2018, so throw us a real bone, eh?

I can see it now: Sue books Midge to perform at Lezzies, and afterwards they drink dry martinis with Carol, Terese, and Abby (who are now in a poly relationship, obvs).

Happy Femslash February, y'all!

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

State of the Union? War, Likely

If Trump remains in office for a full term, I think it is very likely that he will manufacture a war or crisis in order to bump up his approval ratings and pressure Congress to stop investigate his ties to Russia.

Via PBS:
"Trump spoke about creating a more united country during a lunch with a number of television news anchors. Trump said the United States has long been divided, including during the impeachment of former president Bill Clinton. Trump also said that Americans usually come together during times of suffering.

'I would love to be able to bring back our country into a great form of unity,' Trump said. 'Without a major event where people pull together, that’s hard to do. But I would like to do it without that major event because usually that major event is not a good thing.'"
Trump pays lip service to not wanting a "major event" to occur, but he is also a well-documented liar and thus not reliable narrator of his own beliefs or reality.

As I've noted before, Trump regularly tweets references to nuclear war with North Korea not just because he seems obsessed with holding the power to obliterate billions of human beings, but because he's also an abuser who enjoys keeping the people of the US and in other countries living in terror.

His more recent language about "major events" that might unify the nation is a similar sort of signal.

As I noted over at Shakesville, in August 2017:
"At least some of the lingering unrest about the electoral process [due to the US Supreme Court handing George W. Bush the presidency], from what I remember, seemed to be quelled after 9/11, when the American public rallied behind George W. Bush. Before the attacks, Bush's approval rating hovered in the mid-50s. In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, his approval ballooned to the high point of his two terms at 90%.

That is, 9/11 seems to have bolstered the legitimacy of George W. Bush's presidency, at least inasmuch as legitimacy is derived from the approval of the populace. Although, by the end of his second term he had become one of the most unpopular presidents in US history, in part because he squandered his legitimacy by leading the nation to war on the basis of lies.

A lesson from George W. Bush's presidency, then, is that a security crisis can confer legitimacy to a President who begins his term lacking it. And, the people will hunker down and rally behind an undeserving leader during a scary time, out of a sense of fear, loyalty, and nationalism. History shows that bad leaders will squander this trust, rather than accepting it with responsibility and grace.

For these reasons, my first point today is that we ought to be gravely concerned that the man who holds this office today is historically unpopular, obsessed with his popularity, and is widely seen as illegitimate.
It's coming.

As for Donald's State of the Union speech last night, I didn't watch the artifice. But, I'm sure I speak for everyone when I express my hope that the well-off white guys are still having lots of fun with all this.

Monday, January 29, 2018

"Breaking News": Donald's Not a Feminist

Less than a week after women led millions of people in massive protests against him, Donald Trump surprised absolutely no one by publicly acknowledging that he's not a feminist, in an interview with Pier Morgan.

He said, "No, I wouldn't say I'm a feminist. I mean, I think that would be, maybe, going too far. I'm for women, I'm for men, I'm for everyone'."

Mind you, even if we were to believe that Trump had this sort of "I don't even see gender" mentality, and I don't think he does given that he's an admitted sexual predator, what that mentality means 99.9% of the time is that the person actually means is, "I don't even see sexism against women."

The other thing I want to note about this, in light of the upcoming State of the Union address to be given by this man, is what I noted on Twitter:

A man doesn't have to actually be for women's equality in order to be either a US President or perceived as "presidential" by the mainstream pundit class. In fact, given the number of misogynists and predators in the US, it's probably better for his chances of winning if he's not.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Quote of the Day: The Female Price of Male Pleasure

Lili Loufbourow at The Week has written a piece that masterfully taps into, I believe, the female anger that is revitalizing the women's movement.

In the piece, she posits that while critics of anti-rape advocates claim that we simply don't acknowledge male biology, predominate narratives about rape and male-female sex are actually driven by almost nothing but. Within this framework, women are trained to ignore our own pain and discomfort in service of male pleasure. Female pleasure and libido is rendered invisible, non-existent, and unimportant.

Loufbourow writes:
"Women have spent decades politely ignoring their own discomfort and pain to give men maximal pleasure. They've gamely pursued love and sexual fulfillment despite tearing and bleeding and other symptoms of "bad sex." They've worked in industries where their objectification and harassment was normalized, and chased love and sexual fulfillment despite painful conditions no one, especially not their doctors, took seriously. Meanwhile, the gender for whom bad sex sometimes means being a little bored during orgasm, the gender whose sexual needs the medical community rushes to fulfill, the gender that walks around in sartorial comfort, with an entire society ordered so as to maximize his aesthetic and sexual pleasure — that gender, reeling from the revelation that women don't always feel quite as good as they've been pressured to pretend they do, and would appreciate some checking in — is telling women they're hypersensitive and overreacting to discomfort? Men's biological realities are insufficiently appreciated?

I wish we lived in a world that encouraged women to attend to their bodies' pain signals instead of powering through like endurance champs. It would be grand if women (and men) were taught to consider a woman's pain abnormal; better still if we understood a woman's discomfort to be reason enough to cut a man's pleasure short."
Read the whole thing. Really.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Ursula Le Guin

With Dolores, and now Ursula Le Guin, that's the loss of two of my heroes in the same month.

Over the years, I've written a number of posts about Le Guin's work, beginning with my 2008 review of The Left Hand of Darkness. While it seems that many folks are familiar with that work, they are less familiar with her short story, "The Matter of Seggrei." In many ways, I find this latter short work the more interesting.

Rather than positing a genderless world, "Seggrei" envisions a world in which men possess the traits ascribed to them by gender essentialists - that men, by their nature, are brutes who only care about sex. Except, she flips it around so that what on our world is a "reason" for men's dominance becomes a liability. Women use this "truth" about men's nature to greatly restrict men's role in the world to sports and sexual servitude, while women run society.

Le Guin had a gift for both world-building and social commentary that seem to have been derived from her observations about some of the dominant narratives in our culture. Through reversals and slight changes from our world, her works inspire us to interrogate some of the"truths" we take as self-evident, particularly about gender, which is why her work has long resonated with me.

In her final collection of essays, Words Are My Matter, she wrote, prophetically:

"Hard times are coming, when we'll be wanting the voices of writers who can see alternatives to how we live now, can see through our fear-stricken society and its obsessive technologies to other ways of being, and even imagine real grounds for hope. We'll need writers who can remember freedom - poets, visionaries - realists of a larger reality."
In our current state of sociopathic, lie-idolizing, bot-saturated, cynical, abusive, too-cool-to-care discourse that dominates on social media, I relate hard to the path Le Guin suggests is our way out of this hellscape.

It's on us now.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Recap: Legends of Tomorrow 3.8 "Crisis on Earth-X, Part 4"

The final installment of the "Crisis on Earth" crossover begins with Stein being wounded pretty badly while opening the portal off of Earth-X. The heroes get him to the Wave Rider, hoping that Gideon can fix his wounds. (Side note: in my head, I always hear "Gilead" instead of "Gideon." Apocalypse Problems)

Because of their Firestorm connection, Stein's wounds also harm Jax, while Jax is essentially what's keeping Stein alive. Apparently, Stein's injuries are too severe for Gideon to fix and will eventually kill both Stein and Jax. Soooo, Stein has Jax give him a vial of solution that will separate their bond, so that Jax can live, while he himself dies.

As much as I have a problem with how Stein drugged Jax into joining the Legends, it's too bad that the show killed off one of its few (only?) older characters. The CW DC-verse, like many shows and movies in this genre, have few main characters over the age of 40, particularly woen. Eliza Danvers, in fact, is the only older "matriarch" character that comes to my mind, and she's just a recurring side character. Other older women are either dead (Barry, Iris, and Kara's moms) or both dead and evil (Kara's aunt Astra; Oliver's mom).

There are literally more irritating man-baby Wells characters than older women in all of the CW DC-verse shows combined.

(See also, shitty men run the media world.)

I beg of you, Hollywood: Please give us more older female heroes. We need more than General Organa.

Meanwhile, Miniature Ray saves Kara, before Doppelganger Wells can cut out her heart and give it to Doppelganger Kara. So, that's good, I guess. I'm not sure how Supergirl would have continued without its titular character, but you never know, maybe the powers-that-be are itching to make Supergirl entirely about Mon-El or whatever.

Also meanwhile, a Doppelganger Wave Rider and a bunch of Nazis are now terrorizing Earth-One. So, the heroes take to the streets to battle them whilst being led by a queer woman (just as it should be).

A buncha fighting then ensues, Felicity and Iris do some important geek stuff, Doppelganger Supergirl explodes, and Oliver kills his doppelganger. Yikes. But, after three episodes, the heroes have won (too easily? shrug). Many Nazis were punched. That's what matters.

Sadly, it's also time for Alex and Sara to say goodbye, although I don't see why it has to be that way. I feel like as Captain of the Wave Rider, Sara Lance could pop in and out of National City quite easily if they really wanted to make it work.

ANYway, Barry and Iris then get married in a low-key, impulsive ceremony officiated by Diggle, which gets interrupted by Felicity and Oliver also deciding to get married right then and there. LOL In conclusion, straight people are strange.

All in all, this was a good cross-over. I liked seeing the characters from different shows interact with each other and Nazis are particularly-relevant these days, so there's some satisfaction in watching them get their asses kicked by queers and allies.

Deep Thought of the Week: Whenever I hear the name Caitlin Snow, I always at first think they're talking about Caitlin Stark (because Jon Snow is Caitlin Stark's step-son). Crossover idea though: DC heroes take on the White Walkers?

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

Monday, January 22, 2018

Millions Protest Trump, Again

For the second straight year, millions of people in hundreds of cities around the world marched in protest of the Republican Trump Administration as part of the Women's March.

Major cities in the US reported six-figure crowd sizes, possibly eclipsing the turnout from last year's historic protests. I'm not surprised. As I wrote on the year anniversary of the 2016 election, Trump is both cruel and historically unpopular.

True to his delusional, gaslighting, and lying form, Trump himself got on Twitter and pretended that the marches were a celebration of him and his "successes":

Folks, if I ever found myself with nothing to live for, I would find it in me to live only so that when this piece of shit kills masses of people, there will at least be someone other than him to write history.

The anti-Trump resistance is real, and it's being led by women, just as it should be. Today, I want to share two related observations about the revitalized women's movement:

One, much like the mainstream media largely missed the Trump-Russia story when it was happening in real time during the 2016 election, their coverage of the women's movement is largely inadequate. For instance, on the day after this year's Women's March, Nina Mast at Media Matters noted that "the major Sunday political talk shows were nearly silent on the historic protests, only briefly mentioning the topic across all five shows."

I posit that the mainstream media is largely overlooking this women-led movement in real time, precisely because it's led by women. Men still rule in the media world and they primarily view only other men as leaders of political movements. See also, their endless fascination with Trump voters and the assumption some have that Bernie Sanders is the leader of the resistance.

As I tweeted over the weekend (excuse the typo, ugh):

Secondly, Louisa, on Twitter, had a very good thread about the embedded misogyny that some activists show when mocking women protestors as suffering from a lack of coolness. From time to time, I see people sneering at "soccer moms in pink pussy hats." Like Louisa, I think that while some newer activists might have a lot to learn, we should be embracing the people who show up, are operating in good faith, and who are enthusiastic, rather than ridiculing them and tearing them down.

As a related point, I've seen some commentators say that it's "easy" to show up for a march and that anyone can do it. And, like I said on Twitter, I think that assumption should be interrogated. Protesting is political labor, and it's actually not easy for everyone.

All in all, I'm pleased that the Women's Marches had another huge turnout, even as it remains a tragedy that the marches are necessary at all. Onward, we continue resisting.

And don't forget to register to vote, if you haven't already.

Me, at Shakesville last year: Women's Marches Prove Historic

Friday, January 19, 2018

RIP Dolores

Songs by The Cranberries, like Alanis Morissette and Pearl Jam, always instantly take me back to high school.

As a queer kid growing up in Nowhere, Midwest and having few role models, I looked up to Dolores O'Riordan. Back then, I had no idea what her politics were on LGBT rights or what her sexual orientation even was. These were mostly pre-Internet days, after all. This might sound ridiculous if you have no insight into what my childhood was like, but, that she sang the political song "Zombie" at all, let alone the way she did, and had short platinum hair seemed queer enough for her to be a hero to me back then.

Here's one of my favorites, "When You're Gone."

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

On "Fragility" and Boundaries

I did a quick Twitter thread the other day on the notion that setting boundaries makes a person weak and means they are fragile.

Try setting even the most basic, simple boundary with a stranger. Say, block a shitty person on Twitter. Watch them create multiple accounts so they can come back at you and squeal at you how you setting a boundary "against" them is human rights violation of the first order.

The fact is, most tough-talking "politically incorrect" white guys would crumple if they had to spend even one day as a prominent feminist/person of color on Twitter.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

The Hell That Misogyny Has Wrought

Hey, have you heard somewhere from someone that the #MeToo movement has gone too far? Of course you have, because rape culture is terrible.

Welp, I'm here to tell you that those people are wrong. We haven't even begun.

I wrote about this over at Shakesville: The Hell That Misoygny Has Wrought

Monday, January 15, 2018

Quote of the Day: Believe Anyone Who Smells Gas

This one's from Jane Dykema, writing in general about the massive refusal to simply believe women:
"One night we had a thrilling summer storm, bright and crashing, wind and rain blowing into the house from every direction. I wanted to open all the doors and windows wider and run around, but it was better for the house, the wood, to close them tight. We hadn’t been in the house long, and it was the first time in this house we’d had to close all the windows. In the morning I smelled gas, strong, unmistakable. 'I smell gas,' I said to my husband. 'I don’t smell it,' he said. He had a friend come over. 'Why are you having a friend come over,' I asked, 'when it doesn’t matter if he can smell it or not, and none of us can fix it?' His friend didn’t smell it, either. I called the gas company. The gas company employee didn’t smell it, either. He waved his reader around and it blasted off in three places, substantial leaks behind the stove and in the basement. 'Always trust a woman’s nose,' the gas company employee said.

Yes, I thought, believe us.

Then, No, I thought, I’m not a fucking witch. Believe anyone who smells gas. If someone smells gas, believe them."
It's good advice.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Recap: The Flash 4.8 "Crisis On Earth-X, Part Three"

The saga of Agent Canary continues,with Part Three of the major DC crossover "Crisis on Earth-X" taking place in Season Four of the The Flash.

When we rejoin our heroes, most of them are in a concentration camp on Earth-X. They are also wearing collars that dampen their powers. It also turns out that Alt-Captain-Lance, Sara's dad, is a Nazi. He encounters Sara in the camp, notes that she has blond hair and blue eyes, and asks why she's there. She says she's bisexual and he gets disgusted, implying that he killed Alt-Sara for that reason.

The heroes at first try to escape using meaningful eye contact and discreet hand signals with each other, but Alt-Captain-Lance is on to them and he lines them up to execute them. Just when it appears they're going to die, Alt-Snart comes in with his cold gun and shoots the Nazis. It turns out Alt-Snart has a boyfriend, a hero called The Ray, who is imprisoned in the camp.

Alt-Snart takes them to some sort of queer resistance headquarters (my interpretation), and tells the heroes that there's a portal thingy back to Earth One, which is guarded by Nazis. It turns out that Alt-Winn is the General of the resistance. We know he's counter-culture because he has a scruffy beard and is wearing a quasi-military jacket and fingerless gloves. Anyway, he had been developing a plan to destroy the portal, which would prevent the heroes from returning home.

General Winn, however, refuses to help the heroes. Sara then calls him "Fingerless Gloves," which doesn't help the situation, and Alex talks to him privately, but even she's unable to convince him not to destroy the portal.

Alex is upset because Supergirl, meanwhile, is tenderizing under a red lamp on Earth One. Alt-Wells is prepping her for heart surgery, because apparently he can do heart transplants.

We get a solid Agent Canary scene this episode. I really like Alex as a character. I have always liked Sara too, but with the cast of Legends of Tomorrow being more ensemble than Supergirl, we've gotten fewer glimpses into Sara Lance's personality. In this episode, however, I think Sara and Alex work really well together, both being strong, yet thoughtful, people. Alex and Sara are both leaders in their own right, but there's no hokey power struggle between them. And, Sara seems to acknowledge Alex's ambivalence about where she's at, internally, with Maggie and gives her space.

In other queer news, Snart convinced his boyfriend to help him convince General Winn to let the heroes go through the portal thingy before he blows it up. More importantly, Snart, Snart's big fluffy coat, and Snart's boyfriend gay kiss:

How many homophobic-nerd-rager heads exploded at that?

Back on Earth One, Iris and Felicity are still basically the only ones in the group who haven't been captured. They're crawling around in some air vents at Star Labs, trying to come up with a plan. I can't help it, I really want them to be the ones to save the day.

Just as Alt-Wells starts the big "heart transplant," Iris and Felicity cut power, drop down from the vents, and punch some Nazis.

They make a valiant effort, but some sort of Alt-C-3PO robot captures them. And then, on Earth-X, while trying to escape to the portal with the other heroes, it appears that Stein gets shot and killed.

So, by the end of Part Three, the following dramas need to be resolved in the finale:
  • Will Alt-Wells do the heart transplant, killing Supergirl?
  • Will the other heroes be able to return home to Earth One?
  • What will happen to Earth-X? Will the queer resistance take over? 
  • What will happen to Iris and Felicity?
  • Will Stein live?
  • Will the Nazis destroy all the other worlds with their atomic bomb?
  • Will Felicity and Oliver break up, since Felicity turned down Oliver's marriage proposal?
  • Will Iris and Barry actually get married?
  • What will happen with Alex and Sara??

Deep Thought of the Day: This episode was super-queer. I'm not sure I thought I'd ever see something so queer in the CW/DC-verse. I like it.

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