Monday, April 29, 2019

Arya Stark!

I've been enjoying Game of Thrones, especially the past couple of seasons. In my opinion, it seems that the show creators have become more disciplined over the years, particularly as they've abandoned their tendency of depicting rape on-screen gratuitously.

Last night's episode "The Long Night" was a delight, particularly the ending in which Arya was the one to kill the Night King. I think many people were probably expecting Jon to do so. That probably would have been my bet - for, isn't that the story we're so often told? But then, when it was Arya, I immediately thought, Of course. Who else would it have been?

Also, did you catch that the dagger-switch move she used to kill the Night King was a move she had practiced while sparring Brienne previously?

And then, Arya with the Night King:

I like this small throwback to Arya's time with Brienne. It's meaningful that multiple female warriors exist in the universe of Game of Thrones and that neither Arya nor Brienne are Smurfettes existing in a cast of varied male character archetypes.

Talk about this, or other stuff? Any predictions for how the rest of the show will play out? What's YaraAsha up to?

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Maybe It's Mostly Just Misogyny

In her book of observations about the political climate of the US in the 1960s, Slouching Toward Bethlehem: Essays, Joan Didion talks of meeting one young leftist:
"He was born twenty-six years ago in Brooklyn, moved as a child to Los Angeles, dorpped out of UCLA his sophomore year to organize for the Retail Clerks, and now, as General Secretary of the Communist Party USA (Marxist-Leninist), a splinter group of Stalinist-Maoists who divide their energies between Watts and Harlem, he is rigidly committed to an immutable complex of doctrine, including the notions that the traditional American Communist Party is a 'revisionist bourgeois clique,' that the Progressive Labor Party, the Trotskyites, and 'the revisionist clique headed by Gus Hall' prove themselves opportunistic bourgeois lackeys by making their peace appeal not to the 'workers' but to the liberal imperialists; and that H. Rap Brown is the tool, if not the conscious agent, of the ruling imperial class."
The above particular essay came to mind yesterday, when I saw Jacobin predictably making its case against Elizabeth Warren, in favor of Bernie Sanders.
I'm sure the "fact" that Warren is a "Brandeisian" and Sanders is a "Debsian" matters to some people, but I'm more sure that the fact that Bernie is a white guy matters more, and to more people.
And, while members of Bernie's very online leftist fan club will think this makes me snobby to say,  the conversation in the Twitter thread is a good reminder that the way many of the folks at Jacobin talk about politicians is probably not the way most Americans talk about politicians or decide who to vote for.

Of course, acknowledging that I'm correct would require acknowledging that a large part of Bernie's appeal is not that he's tapping into the latent socialist desires of the masses, but that he taps into white male grievance at establishment institutions, identity politics, political correctness, and women's expanding political power as represented by Hillary Clinton, who he seems to have never stopped running against since 2015.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Deep Thought of the Day

Yes, I'm ignoring a really big fucking elephant in the room that is the Mueller Report, but I don't know what else to say, really, other than that I'm sick to death of "I have to get the first, hottest take even before I read the entire report" being the norm among professional journalists. Yesterday, NPR was having reporters fumble through the report live, on-air pointing out bits and pieces they thought were maybe, perhaps, possibly important?

We don't need a fucking hot take - don't we get enough of that from Twitter? - and certainly not from public radio that is supposed to be better than the rest. We need facts and accountability. We need an honest narrative of what happened.

Talk about stuff, or whatever. Like, at what point do we just quit our jobs, buy a VW bus, and cross-country road trip it before the Oh-pocalypse?

Woo. I'm delirious.

If you're Hillary Clinton right now, how are you not just drinking vodka out of the cat dish all day long?

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Kavanaugh Fallout, 2020, and Converting Rightwing Women

Irin Carmon has a piece at The Cut about the findings from a recent PeeryUndem report on public opinions about Brett Kavanaugh.

From the report, some of the key findings were that 57% of voters believe Kavanaugh lied under oath about his teenage years, 49% view him unfavorably, and only one-third believe he would be impartial in cases involving sexual harassment or assault. In addition, 16% more voters believe Christine Blasey Ford than believe Kavanaugh.  73% of voters do not want the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade, and 74% believe Kavanaugh would vote to do so.

Interestingly, fewer people view Kavanaugh favorably or believe him compared to when his confirmation hearings ended.

The researchers speculated, "For many voters, we think the Kavanaugh hearings and confirmation likely activated and reinforced feelings around power and powerlessness," citing a drastic jump in the percentage of voters who believe men have more positions of power in society than women (65% in 2016 versus 87% in 2018).

At the same time, as Carmon notes in her piece, Republican men have largely regressed and now have more hostile sexist beliefs than even just two years ago. Just 45% of Republican men now view sexism as a problem, compared to 63% in 2017. Republican women, however, appear to have become less sexist, as society's sexism has become more obvious. 66% believe sexism is a problem, for instance.

These findings are interesting as they speak to both the feminist resurgence and backlash we're in right now. As the report notes, "the Kavanaugh and Ford events had negative and positive implications for the #MeToo movement." On the one hand, the hearings seem to have enhanced Republican men's sexism, but it has awakened many Republican women's concerns about gender-based justice and power disparities.

So, where do we go from here?

For one, it's likely that the confirmation of Kavanaugh has further eroded public's opinion, and thus legitimacy, of the Supreme Court. The researchers note that this theory is an open question at the moment, as Gallup has yet to update its polling data.

The obvious next step might be to apply this analysis to the 2020 elections, where white male Democratic candidates are currently polling better than any of the female candidates (and men of color). What are the messages there?

Well, it's early, for starters.

But two, Republican women can potentially be reached and converted. Probably much more so than Republican men. But, are any of the current "frontrunners" (scare quotes because it's early) capable of doing so?

In 1983, Andrea Dworkin wrote a book about rightwing women, noting that the primary failure of the male-dominated left to mobilize rightwing women was its failure to offer rightwing women a sufficiently-better alternative to what they were getting from their collaboration with men on the right. We can argue whether rightwing women were correct in their perception, or whether such women are just stupid bigoted dupes, but that many rightwing women do hold the perception that the left is hostile to women are the facts on the ground that the male-dominated left has never effectively grappled with. Although, just from my experience, many people on the left can't even handle arguing with progressive feminists without resorting to misogyny, so rightwing women don't really stand a chance.

I know the powers-that-be have been fetishizing the courting of working class white male (read: Republican male) votes since the 2016 election, but there seems to be much more potential opportunities to convert Republican women, as a result of #MeToo, and not just for the presidency, but for Congressional elections too.

Key ways to do so likely include candidates demonstrating that they take sexual harassment and assault seriously, speaking coherently about reproductive rights, and being cognizant of gender-based power differentials in society and politics.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Dispatches From the Queer Resistance #8 - A Pete Buttigieg Special

Welp, openly-gay mayor of South Bend, Indiana Pete Buttigieg has officially entered the 2020 presidential race.  Over at Shakesville, I share my thoughts about that, and other stuff, for another installment of Dispatches From the Queer Resistance.

Check it out!

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Wild and Perfect and then Nothing, Forever

Welp, a couple of weeks ago, I vowed to take a Twitter break for a week, but then Trump's Attorney General William Barr issued his summary of the Mueller Report and the mainstream media and important political commentators were widely like, "Oh, okay, thanks for the update. Time to move on and focus on the real issues facing the nation, I guess."

And, it turns out that Twitter can be useful to avoid being completely gaslit, even as Twitter is terrible in other ways, including the way it can contribute to gaslighting.


I have kept my vow to read poetry regularly, however.

Today's poem is brought to us by Mary Oliver, as I'm currently making my way through her New and Selected Poems, Volume One. Here's a snippet of "Peonies," although I invite you to read the whole thing, of course:

"Do you also hurry, half-dressed and barefoot, into the garden,
     and softly,
          and exclaiming of their dearness,
               fill your arms with white and pink flowers,

with their honeyed heaviness, their lush trembling,
     their eagerness
          to be wild and perfect for a moment, before they are
               nothing, forever?"

I guess it's the juxtaposition of the impermanent beauty of nature/life with existential dread that is really speaking to me about Oliver's poems at the moment.

Talk about stuff, or whatever.