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. 

Friday, June 1, 2018

ICYMI: Brandi Carlile Performs on Ellen Show

It's always good to see our presidents* on stage together, isn't it? What a nice way to kick off Pride Month.

In other news, I've been watching The Real L Word, which originally premiered in 2010. I have so many thoughts, some of which I may even share at some point, because it's only the most breaking pop culture news here in Fannie's Room. I guess for now, I'll just observe, with zero judgment, that some sort of tiny dog appears in approximately 87% of scenes in Season One.

Talk about stuff if you want!

*In some parallel universe far far away, wherein they lead together by consensus, and Tig Notaro is Chief of Dry Observational Humor and they all meet Wanda Sykes and Kate McKinnon at Lezzies for lunch once a week. How do I find the wormhole to get to there?

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Roseanne, Sarah Silverman, and the Trump-Supporter Anthropology Series

Over at Shakesville, I wrote about the post-2016 election trend of pundits and media figures, such as Sarah Silverman and Roseanne, "playing anthropologist" as they interpret Trump supporters to (I guess) everyone who isn't one.

Check it out!

Recap: Supergirl 3.11 "Fort Rozz"

The big mission this episode is that Supergirl needs to go back to Fort Rozz to talk to a prisoner who might know how to defeat Reign. The problem is, Supergirl threw Fort Rozz into outer space and, while the DEO was able to track it down, it's currently orbiting a blue star.

Supergirl doesn't have powers near blue stars. Oh, and blue stars are also fatal to those with Y chromosomes. So, because Supergirl has no hero friends who are women, she apparently has to assemble a team for this mission that's comprised of people who are, in some way, either anti-heroes and/or Supergirl's arch-nemeses.

For instance, she taps Livewire, who is currently working at a diner and refers to Reign as a "G.L.O.W. reject" and Mon-El as "cosplay" (LOL):

There's also Psi, who I like as a character, but we're now looking at a trio of three thin blond white women. That is to say, this episode was a missed opportunity to add some diversity.

Oh wait, nevermind, a brunette, Imra, also joined Supergirl at Fort Rozz:

Anyway, once they arrive at Fort Rozz, it's hit by a solar flare, meaning they're hurtling toward the sun and they lose contact with the DEO. Meanwhile, Reign hops in a space pod and shows up at Fort Rozz, as well.

Supergirl finds the prisoner she wanted to talk to and gets some information about Reign, but Reign then kills the prisoner. Livewire and Psi defend Supergirl, who is powerless, from Reign while Imra tries to steer the ship away from the sun. Livewire dies in the process, because the CW DC-verse seems to hate nasty women (along with, in general, women over 40). Psi then does the mind-meld thingy on Reign, and Reign flees Fort Rozz. So, everyone (minus Livewire) gets home safely.

At the DEO, Winn and Brainy worked together on all the tech aspects of the mission and I'm just going to put it out there that Brainy is obviously into Winn but is as-of-yet unaccustomed to Earthling queer male mating rituals. Or, maybe Winn is into Brainy but he doesn't know he's queer yet. Either way, I can ship this. No, I definitely ship this.

In Alex news, she babysits Ruby while Sam is off unwittingly being Reign. In fact, when Sam and Alex interact, you can kind of see them as potential love interests. Aside from Sam's whole villain secret identity, that is.

Oh, and the new information about Reign is that there are these beings called Worldkillers who are sort of like sleeper Cylons, waiting to awaken wreak vengeance on the world.

Deep Thought of the Week: This was a decent episode. I like the concept of the all-female team while the men had to stay back and wring their hands about the dangerous mission the women were on. Also, I get that cross-overs are probably expensive and logistically challenging, but this episode would have been a fun one for White Canary, Batgirl,and/or Hawkgirl to join (among others such as, dare I suggest, Wonder Woman).

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

Friday, May 25, 2018

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Takes Effect

The EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) takes effect today. As a result, you may be served notices when you use certain websites today, including Fannie's Room, regarding cookies used and data collected, in compliance with European Union laws.

In case you are not automatically served those notices, Google's disclosures can be found here: Google Privacy Policy and How Google Uses Information from Sites or Apps That Use Our Services. And Disqus' disclosures can be found here: Update on Privacy and GDPR Compliance.

This blog is hosted on Google/Blogger and has a third-party commenting system provided by Disqus. Fannie's Room is a strictly non-commercial blog and I do not sell or knowingly share user information with other third parties.

The Commenting and Privacy Policy for Fannie's Room can be found here.

Ocean Friday

Hi y'all, given the political times in which we've found ourselves, I'm looking forward to Ocean's 8 as a top pop culture event of 2018. 

The entire cast looks amazing, but of course I'm particularly excited about seeing Cate Blanchett and Sarah Paulson on screen again.


What are you reading, watching, playing, doing, and/or looking forward to?

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Recap: Supergirl 3.10 "Legion of Super Heroes"

Last we saw Supergirl, she had just gotten her ass kicked by Reign.

So, now the DEO has her in a medically-induced coma while she heals. In her own mind, she's also "trapped" in her apartment building and once she figures out how to leave, she will emerge from the coma. A new character, Brainy, visits Supergirl in her mind and tries to help her. Brainy is a really smart cyborg who I would describe as looking like a tall Smurf/Oompa Loompa hybrid.

Meanwhile, Reign is still on the loose. And, she has declared war on.... criminals.

Wait what? Isn't that sort of what Supergirl and the DEO do?

I guess Reign's type of vigilantism is bad because she takes it too far, but it will be interesting to see ow the show explores what "taking it too far entails," especially in the context of how, and to what extent, Reign's vigilantism might differ from the DEO and Supergirl's. When discussing Reign, Alex notes that Reign hasn't just declared war on criminals, she has declared war on "the entire justice system." Yet, doesn't the DEO lock up some aliens without due process? Haven't they killed before, as well? Didn't Alex kill Astra?

At the DEO, Mon-El, Imra, and Brainy vaguely allude to the fact that they came to Earth on some sort of mission. They note that the Earth experiences a catastrophic event in the future in which all of our history and culture are wiped out. Hilariously, Imra says that therefore when Mon-El arrived, he taught them "everything" they know, including Aristotle, Shakespeare, and Bon Jovi. LOLOLOL.

Sure. I guess we're supposed to just believe that this guy who spent approximately 2 seconds on Earth, much of it being a fuck-up, taught these brilliant future folks the classics from Earth's. Puh-lease. The Mon-El storyline is starting to get a tad Avatar-ish for my taste (ie, "white guy goes native and becomes a great leader").

An actual funny moment occurs later when J'onn is forced to shape-shift to pretend to be Kara again, tis time in order to fool Lena, who believes Kara is sick at home with a cold. During this interaction, Lena tells J'onn-Kara that she and James kissed and J'onn-Kara finds the entire conversation completely awkward. LOL.

While Supergirl is in a coma, the DEO tries to entrap Reign. They bait her by pretending to rob a bank and, when she shows up, they throw some kryptonite at her. Yet, she's resistant to it and she gets away. She then goes to a prison and starts attacking the prisoners.

Mon-El, Imra, and Brainy join the DEO in going after her and, as Brainy flies the spaceship, I like that the controls are a throwback to Flight of the Navigator. Hmm, must have been another relic of pop culture that Mon-El taught him.

Back in her coma, Supergirl sees her Kara Danvers glasses/disguise and decides to come out of the coma. She flies in and helps fight Reign, but Reign gets away. But, at least Supergirl is back to normal again.

In conclusion, James and Lena kiss again, and I just can't.

Deep Thought of the Week: I guess Mon-El, Imra, and Brainy are part of a "Legion of Super Heroes"? Like, they even have matching costumes and glow rings. Perhaps this is supposed to impress me, but it doesn't. I don't mind a few rag-tag minor heroes she might have as allies or friends, akin to Oliver Queen's various gangs. I'll keep an open mind about where this "Legion" plotline is going, because to be fair I don't know that yet. But, the show is called Supergirl. I become less and less comfortable with plotlines that look like they're using a show that centers a woman to set up a male character for his own show one day.

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

Friday, May 18, 2018

Umbrella Friday

I admit, watching lip sync battles is one of my distracting pleasures in life.

Now, I can't say I've ever had a particular interest in Tom Holland, but damn, he looks good in drag and has some impressive dance moves to boot.

In the clip below, the best part begins around minute 2:15, but before that, Zendaya also does a good Bruno Mars impression. And yes, I'm an old, so I had to look up who Zendaya was.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

The Precedent of Donald Trump's Rigged Election

Yesterday, The New York Times ran an article about the FBI's investigation of the Trump campaign's ties to Russia, codenamed Crossfire Hurricane.

It's worth a read, but what's striking to me is just how destructive Donald's pre-election claims about Clinton purportedly "rigging the election" were and continue to be, particularly to our democracy.

The piece discusses the disparate treatment of the FBI's investigation into Hillary Clinton's email server, in which James Comey announced the reopening of the case immediately prior to the 2016 election, compared to the FBI's silence over the fact that multiple Trump contacts were under investigation for ties to Russia at the time:
"[U]nderpinning both cases was one political calculation: that Mrs. Clinton would win and Mr. Trump would lose. Agents feared being seen as withholding information or going too easy on her. And they worried that any overt actions against Mr. Trump’s campaign would only reinforce his claims that the election was being rigged against him."
Donald Trump played the FBI, which so overreacted to Trump's claim that the system was rigged against him that they took action that had the effect of rigging the 2016 election for him.

"Mr. Comey has said he regrets his decision to chastise Mrs. Clinton as “extremely careless,” even as he announced that she should not be charged. But he stands by his decision to alert Congress, days before the election, that the F.B.I. was reopening the Clinton inquiry.

The result, though, is that Mr. Comey broke with both policy and tradition in Mrs. Clinton’s case, but hewed closely to the rules for Mr. Trump."
Chastise the qualified woman, play by the rules for the male authoritarian incompetent. Sounds about right.

I'll also add that, quite frankly, Trump largely played the political press who continually let him make a rather weighty claim about the legitimacy of our electoral process without challenging him on it much or demanding that he back it up. The press also did this, and continues to do so, with respect to the "rigging" claim of the Bernie Sanders camp, a claim which will likely reoccur in 2020 if Bernie runs in the Democratic primary and, in particular, if he loses again.

This is now standard operating procedure for our presidential elections. Candidates claim that the election is rigged against them even if it's not, and sometimes, but only sometimes, it's actually true. Like a man expressing fantasies of locking up his political opponent, the Overton window has shifted so much that it is no longer all that newsworthy for a candidate to fictitiously claim that an opponent has rigged an election and, in the process, undermine the electoral process itself and any result that he finds unfavorable.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Anti-LGBT Group Changes Tune on Role of Judiciary

Over at Shakesville, I have a piece up regarding the National Organization for Marriage's (NOM) apparent new strategy for overturning same-sex marriage.

After years of railing against the judiciary and "unelected judges" supposedly overturning "the will of the people," it seems they're now banking on a conservative replacing Anthony Kennedy on the US Supreme Court so that person can eventually help overturn Obergefell.

Head over to Shakesville to read the whole thing!

Thursday, May 10, 2018

A Note On Abusive "Feminist" Men

In reaction to the latest man on the left side of the political spectrum to be accused of abuse and misogyny, I shared some thoughts on Twitter last night:


A problem with abusive "feminist" men is that their existence often causes conservative women to perceive that conservative men, and thus conservative causes, are a better alternative to what feminists, and more broadly, the left are fighting for.

This observation should be included in any piece examining why women vote against their own interests as women. But, it's rarely offered as an explanation.

Misogyny and abuse exist along the political spectrum and are not limited to the right or conservatives. Many commentators and activists treat women as stupid dupes who can be "tricked" into being a member of a particular movement.

When, the truth is, we are all making choices in a flawed system that's rigged against us, within male-dominated movements where we're then expected to perform low-status, unpaid political and emotional labor centered around a charismatic man.

Friday, May 4, 2018

Femslash Friday: Birds of Prey

So, I'm a big dork and have been watching the old Birds of Prey TV show that lasted one season in 2002.

Has anyone watched this?

It's actually been entertaining and I wish there was more of it to watch. You just have to get past the early aughts special effects and hair/fashion choices. In fact, starring as it does three crime-fighting women, I think it's about ready for a reboot now that superhero shows are all the rage, yeah?

In the original, none of the main characters were overtly queer, but that could easily be remedied in a reboot. At the same time, the queer-baiting/subtext was pretty off-the-charts. A reasonable viewer could interpret Barbara (Oracle) and Helena (Huntress) as a couple, with Dinah being their adopted daughter.

Alternatively, Helena and Dr. Harleen Quinzel (Harley Quinn) were definitely an item.

Check out this over-the-top scene from the finale, featuring two 100% hetero women interacting with each other in a completely hetero fashion.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Area Man Terrorized By Obscure, Fake Manifesto; Promotes It On His Popular Website

Yesterday, at his blog, conservative Christian writer Rod Dreher posted a hyperventilating, novella-length piece about a document purporting to be a manifesto for helping pedophilia become socially-acceptable via using the same strategies that the LGBT community used.

Dreher begins, "I want to share with you the most disturbing thing I have read in a very long time. You need to know about it." He then shares large excerpts from this "manifesto," which by the way was originally posted anonymously at 8chan, even adding his own annotations throughout, stressing the urgent direness of the situation:
"It’s actually a reasonable strategy document — 'reasonable' in the narrow and amoral sense of it makes sense as a strategy to get society to accept something totally evil. We know that this can work because it has worked with other sexual minorities."
"Other sexual minorities."

So, yeah. To anyone with even an ounce of skepticism, the document is an obvious, right-wing fabrication. Dreher himself half-acknowledges that in his original post, but then admits that he doesn't really want to look too deeply into the matter because that would be too dark:
"I am unwilling to do the kind of digging online in this darkness to nail down with certainty that this is an authentic document. I will only caution you that I have not seen it verified yet. Nevertheless, it is out there, and it most definitely has the air of plausibility."
There is a certain dipshitted deliciousness to watch a man who regularly mocks college students for being oversensitive snowflakes confess that he can't be bothered to ascertain the authenticity of a document that denigrates LGBT political gains by suggesting that gains for pedophiles logically follow.

His admitted ignorance about this text's authenticity, however, doesn't stop Dreher from treating this slippery slope "threat" as 100% real. In fact, as it becomes more and more clear to him, in real time, that the document is a fake, he only digs in further, stressing that "we" still need to be on guard anyways.

After people began commenting on his post, he added two updates.

In the first, he acknowledges that it might be a fake, but insists that "we" still ought to think about how "we" would respond to such a manifesto if it were real. In the second, he says he read it again and now doubts its authenticity. Even so, he insists that the very fact that some readers might think that this obscure fake manifesto was authentic, which he initially promoted on his website as authentic, "tells us something about the current cultural moment."

Indeed it does, good sir.

He then goes on to approvingly cite Ross Douthat's recent "redistribution of sex" garbage fire of a piece that was somehow published over at The New York Times, which is really the PERFECT on-brand capstone to Dreher's clusterfuck of manufactured outrage. 

Dreher also sees TERFs as allies now because they're all-aboard the anti-trans train, which is also PERFECT, obviously.


Wednesday, May 2, 2018

America Hates Honest Women

I  have a piece up at Shakesville about a common narrative thread I see in some recent news items - which is a specific hatred of women who "tell it like it is":
"All of this is to say that a woman may be legally free to accurately charge a man with rape, roast dishonest public officials, or have the temerity to warn her nation about ongoing threats to democracy, but when she does so, it's made abundantly clear to them — and all the women and little girls watching — that she shouldn't have."

Read the whole thing!

Recap: Supergirl 3.9 "Reign"

So, previously, we saw Mon-El return to Earth with a surprise +1 and learned that Sam is secretly a villain named Reign.

This episode starts on Christmas Eve morning with Sam waking up in her bed with no memory of her trip to the desert or of being Reign, sort of like she's been a sleeper Cylon for her entire life (and sort of still is until something or someone activates her).

Over at the DEO, Mon-El and Imra are telling the gang what the 31st century was like. Apparently, society was in constant conflict, but Mon-El came along and organized a group called the Legion. He explains that the group was inspired by Supergirl. Which.... LOLOLOLOLOL.

Perhaps we're supposed to think it's neat that Supergirl was this group's inspiration, but I just can't buy that Mon-El would have been mature or developed enough as a superhero to swoop into the 31st century with things to teach the future people. This plotline is like the Supergirl version of Avatar.

He also renders a convoluted story about how he and Imra end up on Earth - something about a wormhole, a broken ship, and whoops they ended up on Earth? Everyone just sort of goes with this explanation, but I'm skeptical. Anyway, Mon-El asks for help getting back to the 31st century, because I guess that's his home now, so I guess the good news is that he's eventually leaving with his new wife. BYE!

Later, Kara hosts a holiday party. During it, Sam and Kara notice James making eyes at Lena and they tell her to go for it. Lena (aptly) notes, "There's no chemistry!" but you just know they're probably going to kiss very soon anyway. Annnnnnd, later, someone tries to assassinate Lena, but thankfully she's with James and he saves her. Once they're back in Lena's office drinking scotch, they kiss.

In better news, Kara gets called away to go on a mission during the party and well well well, look who's back. Agent "Alex's Ex" Vasquez:

Reign has apparently burned a glyph into the ground and Vasquez has Supergirl check it out. It's a very old Kryptonian symbol. The glyph is on L Corp property, so Lena speculates that her nemesis Edge put it there to intimidate her. However, Kara visits a prisoner who shares obscure, ancient Kryptonian knowledge with her about the Worldkiller who is going to destroy Earth.

Supergirl and Reign have an encounter. And by encounter, I mean that Supergirl gets her ass handed to her.

By the end of the episode, things seem really touch-and-go with Supergirl. Alex has to go into "Little Grey" doctor mode to save her and we know she's probably going to be okay, but this episode is a low point for her. 

Deep Thought of the Week:
So, I've noticed that Supergirl uses a a more somber logo after each episode's teaser this season. I'm not sure if that's supposed to indicate that this season is darker than previous seasons. If that is the intent, I'm not sure it matches the tone that I'm picking up from the episodes so far. Sure, Kara has been upset that Mon-El had to leave Earth and she's clearly upset that he returned with a new wife. And, while she's outmatched by Reign, she still has the love and support of Alex, Lena, J'onn, James, and Winn.

Kara's character development does not seem, at least yet, anywhere near the rock bottom of, say, Willow Rosenberg in "Wrecked," wherein Willow was addicted to magic (drugs), on the verge of ruining her best friendship, had put Dawn's life in danger, and had ruined her relationship with Tara.

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

Friday, April 27, 2018

A Supergirl Recap Update

Hi everyone, I realize I've slacked on the Supergirl recaps ever since the fabulous Earth-X crossover series extravaganza.

The truth is, I took a slight Supergirl break to watch season 2 of Jessica Jones and the entire Man in the High Castle series.

But also, Supergirl can never make me care about Mon-El, as much as it tries. I am that gay. (Happy belated Lesbian Visibility Day, by the way). And, I really want Kara and Lena to be girlfriends but that will clearly never happen, so I've been pouting about that for awhile, too. And, while I'm on a roll, why don't they just make Winn gay? He and James have better chemistry with each other than either of them does with any woman on the show.

In my opinion.

Nevertheless, I've been catching up on episodes, so expect to see the recaps continue shortly!

It's a tough job, I know.

I'm also contemplating starting Westworld recaps. For one, Evan Rachel Wood. Obviously. But two, wow, there's a lot to unpack with that show.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Quote of the Day

In a recent essay, Rebecca Solnit offers a reminder that, "[w]ho gets to be the subject of the story is an immensely political question," with popular narratives in the US usually granting that honor to white men. 

And, it's not just the privilege of being central subjects that they receive, it's an accompanying pity and compassion for their experiences, which are propped above everyone else's. For instance, Solnit continues:
"In the aftermath of the 2016 election, we were told that we needed to be nicer to the white working class, which reaffirmed the message that whiteness and the working class were the same thing and made the vast non-white working class invisible or inconsequential. We were told that Trump voters were the salt of the earth and the authentic sufferers, even though poorer people tended to vote for the other candidate. We were told that we had to be understanding of their choice to vote for a man who threatened to harm almost everyone who was not a white Christian man, because their feelings preempt everyone else’s survival. 'Some people think that the people who voted for Trump are racists and sexists and homophobes and deplorable folks,' Bernie Sanders reprimanded us, though studies showed that many were indeed often racists, sexists, and homophobes."
We see a lot of rage, anxiety, and blowback, across the political spectrum, when we demand a shift in perspective. It's evident that we came very close to something hugely unsettling for a lot of people invested in keeping white men centered, in 2016.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

An Inevitable American President

This one comes from Joseph Ellis' biography of Thomas Jefferson, American Sphinx. In this quote, Jefferson is writing a letter to his daughter Mary:
"You must apply yourself, Jefferson lectured, 'to play on the harpischord, to draw, to dance, to read and talk French and such things as will make you more worthy of the love of you friends..... Remember too as a constant charge not to go out without your bonnet because it will make you very ugly and then we should not love you so much.'"
Melissa McEwan has noted that Donald Trump is an inevitable Republican president, not an anomalous one.  And, as we read passages like the above that contain verbiage that is Trumpian in nature, Trump is in many ways an inevitable American president, as well.

As Ellis acknowledged, Jefferson himself embodied a central contradiction in that "he crafted the most inspiring egalitarian promise in modern history while living his entire life among two hundred slaves." The first five founding father presidents either owned slaves themselves and/or, while they were in office, condoned the practice by failing to end it, in addition to being heads of state of a nation that excluded women from political participation.

Barack Obama has probably been the most decent president of my lifetime. But, of course, the public largely demands that people of color and white women be exponentially more decent than the basest white man in order to hold public office.

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.