08 April 2011

More Links

Gah, you guys. I will be honest here: I am starting to get burned out. Following politics? Hella depressing. Every day people are doing things I don't agree with. All the time! Which is fine, I'm used to that, but in forty years when I don't have any medicare I am going to be pretty pissed off!

Anyway. You know, I was watching Rachel Maddow the other day, and she was talking some more about the union stripping stuff that's going on in Wisconsin, -- which is depressing on its own, and I haven't even gotten to their election yet -- and the stuff she's saying is sounding like a conspiracy theory. The idea that Republicans are trying to basically cut out Democrats' major sources of funding, I mean. And I have faith in Maddow! I think she's smart! I see what she's saying! But I also realized, if I were a moderate, I would mark her as a radical and consider it a conspiracy theory. Maybe not Glenn Beck level, but still. And I just was not sure what to do with those thoughts. Except realize that I am burned out.

But stuff keeps happening anyway, so what can I do?

I guess the U.S. government finally agreeing to something like budget is a good thing. And if it's still for Senate vote, Planned Parenthood might keep their funding, which is good. But my cynicism is getting to me -- the Democrats never seem to hold their ground very long, and I wonder what concessions they made. (I might be more hopeful if I hadn't seen posts like this and this earlier in the week.) (The Onion has their own take, of course. I laughed.)

And while I'm on the topic of budget, I must take a second and point you towards Gin & Tacos's satire of the whole tying-teachers'-wages-to-student-performance proposal, that is seriously being made by people, because ... I don't even know.

This doesn't look like a big deal -- FCC what? ISP neutrality who? -- until you remember that it means that Comcast can basically stop me watching Hulu and Netflix Instant. Not to product-place here, but I am not going to lie, I love me some Netflix Instant. They have all of the classic episodes of The X-Files! Also, it is wrong and I'm pretty sure not what Adam Smith meant by a free-market economy. (The more I think about it, the more I'm convinced I'd just live a happier life if I ignored absolutely everything the House of Representatives does.)

It wouldn't solve all my problems, though. Thinking about abortion and then falling down while pregnant is totally a crime, here in my country. This is so beyond off to me that I'm sure there must be something in the story I'm missing. Biased reporting, right? It has to be. I have to be missing something. (Google is apparently missing it too; the first three pages of search results for that story are all either the same article I read, or other articles by liberal bloggers basically saying "You've got to be fucking kidding me.")

Oh, riiiiight. Stuff like this is why I knew I couldn't trust the Daily Mail.

New video blog from Feminist Frequency in the misogynist tropes series. This time they tackle Women in Refrigerators (that is, women who are tortured and/or killed gratuitously or primarily to inspire growth in the male hero).

The same sex couples fighting Prop 8 in court have filed their brief explaining why the people who put it on the ballot should not have the legal right to defend it in court. (Courts will not hear arguments until early September; it's still legal nuances at this point.)

YMMV on this, but SocImages has an interesting post up about an artist who paints the "deconstruction of indulgence," that is, women eating sweets and junk food which are supposed to be private, guilty pleasures. It ends up making quite a statement, I think, although I'm not entirely confident in my opinion on art. (NSFW)

Sady from Tiger Beatdown wrote a piece about Phyllis Schafly -- female enemy of feminism -- that I found quite insightful. I don't get her, and I doubt I ever will, but the piece at least helped contextualize why, without falling into some of the more obvious traps.

Diana Wynne Jones died this week. I am full of sadface about that; some of her books are among my favorites. Other authors also remember her fondly.

And, since stuff is depressing, check out a little baby red panda. Cute!

05 April 2011

A Swing and a Miss

Okay, I was kind of eagerly anticipating ABC's new show, Body of Proof, ever since last fall (when I thought it was going to debut). I love me some procedural cop shows, I love me some shows with lady leads, I love me some Jeri Ryan and Sonja Sohn (both in supporting roles), and I can certainly get behind Dana Delaney. So this had a bunch of elements that make me happy, -- really, all it was missing was some cute boys. Well, that was the theory.

I planned to watch the first three episodes and then toss some thought back. I made it through the first two, and then ten o'clock rolled around this evening, and I just could not do it. Maybe I'll catch up? On Hulu? If I'm bored?

Because -- look, I don't expect perfection from a pilot and the beginning of a season, but this show has some flaws that are killing it pretty dead (heh, yes, pun, whatever) for me. But they're really interesting flaws.

With as much Castle as I watch, I am really not allowed to say anything about unrealistic portrayals of cops on TV. Well, I'm allowed, but it looks kind of hypocritical. Still, when I found out Body of Proof was about a hotshot medical examiner, I sort of thought most of it would take place in the lab. You know, getting the proof? From the dead body? Like... the title? I was expecting a kind of grittier, fleshier Bones, really. Instead, Megan Hunt (ME extraordinaire) and her partner tag along on interrogations (which she messes up) and take time to snark at suspects. It's kind of disrespectful to its own premise -- were they worried that Bones is too science-y and boring? (It isn't.) Either the proof is in the body, or you have to gather evidence by being rude to suspects, but pick one, because there are a million procedural shows out there, they each have their own gimmick, and your gimmick being "we're sort of borrowing some other gimmicks but then kind of lightening them up and combining them so no one can sue us," doesn't actually work very well.

But a lady lead! That's good, right? Lots of ladies on this show. Jeri Ryan plays Megan's boss, the head of the something at the something place (don't look at me. She dresses nice and gets to tell Megan what to do). Sonja Sohn is one of the detectives with whom she works. There are assorted other ladies. Megan herself is actually that most elusive of beasts: the female maverick, whose lack of representation I lamented a few months ago on this very blog. So, this should be a win. And yet -- something is off. Megan isn't particularly funny, and she doesn't manage to have that sort of ascended audience quality. (You know -- House says the things you wish you could get away with saying, Castle says things that are kind of doofy in a familiar and genre-savvy way, you see in them someone you want to be.) Megan's just rude. She holds others in contempt for little discernible reason; she disregards the rules with little discernible benefit. They've tried to stick in bits of exposition to show her as the smartest doctor around, but she hasn't yet justified that characterization, and smugs her way through her scenes when simple politeness would get her better results. House seems to know how to behave but can't be bothered, and objects for ideological reasons; Hunt doesn't seem to notice that she's a jerk. (They've also saddled her with a load of stereotypes, including the dreaded She is a Bad Mother who Cannot Connect to Her Child -- there's a whole other analysis to be written about that.)

I don't know how much to blame the writers for this. I suspect they don't know what they're trying to do, the tone they're trying to set, the niche they're trying to fill. I also suspect that I don't cut Delaney the slack I might a male actor portraying a similar character. I'd like to think I'm not "like that," but I know better. I know I have culture whispering in my ear that it's all right for guys to be devil-may-care but a woman better have a damned good reason for not being nice. I have enough awareness to recognize the influence but not enough to see its quantity or overall effect. And I still suspect the writers are the same.

One thing, however, I can say with confidence. TV writers of the world, listen up. Yes, you UK ones too. As a former philosophy major, I am thrilled -- thrilled, I tell you -- to see the resurgence of Sherlock Holmes-ian logic on television. Love it. Standard form of: notice small detail, quickly deduce cause of small detail, make amazing pronouncement that turns out to be correct. As an entertaining tool, when well deployed, it can work beautifully. However. Please be aware that some people watching your shows have actually had a bit of training in logic (oh, Aristotle) and therefore, you need to think these things through carefully if you're going to go this route. Because your character just looks so much less brilliant if I can pick holes in their deduction, d'you see?

Happened at least once per episode in the two that I saw (minor spoiler) -- one of the victims has gun residue on her eyelids. Therefore, the killer shot her and then closed her eyes.

No. Maybe the killer shot her and then with his gun residue-y hand closed her eyes. Maybe, she pulled the trigger herself with her eyes closed. Maybe she had her eyes closed as she was killed and the gun residue got on her lids that way. Hell, maybe she was a witness (an eyes-closed witness) at an entirely different shooting earlier in the day. Maybe she was out hunting with her buddy and after firing, he touched her eyelids. Maybe there's something you don't know about her damn eyeshadow. Your deduction might be most likely, and I don't know enough about the spread pattern of gunpowder to say how plausible any of the others are. But it is not the only solution, and when your show focuses on "odd" and "baffling" cases, where things keep not adding up, you need to be a hell of a lot more careful.

(Drives me nuts when it shows up on Castle, too, which it does about once every few episodes. An egregious example: they were killed by the same gun, so they must have been killed by the same person! No. Guns are not attached to people's arms. Guns can be given to friends. Guns can be picked up off of victims. Guns can be stolen. Guns can be dumped, and picked up, by two unrelated people. It is likely that if they were connected and also killed by the same gun, they were killed by the same person. But it is not the only solution.)

Ahh, that particular brand of frustration that only comes from taking TV too seriously.

02 April 2011

Sexism and comedy-mmmm

Troll comments from a friend:
She's SO shit!!! What is the point??? ARRRGH female comedians just aren't funny! They're only nasal and sarcastic!!!
Tryggers, it's a sad fact that certain genders are more suited to certain professions than others. Case in point: you ever seen a female builder? Or a female firefighter? A male midwife? Nothing to do with sexism - just common sense. Stand-up comedy is much the same. men are just more suited to it. Female comedians tend to suck.
He may have said it in jest, but this is generally society's view on women in comedy, so how do we fight that? What do we say to people who we like and have a good friendship with who says this kind of thing, honestly or not? This did not get my Saturday off to a good start!

(not to mention the complete erasure of any comedians of colour, apart from (in the UK) Lenny Henry. White men are not so brilliant that no-one else can contribute. It's so fucking irritating.)

01 April 2011

Links Links Links

Seriously, I need a name for these end-of-week linky listy things. Suggestions welcome.

Much lighter than last week, for which I think we're all grateful.

So they're revamping the Wonder Woman franchise. Which might be a yay, right? Conceived in the 40s as a deliberately feminist superheroine! Amazon! Peace and justice and whatever! And ... the revamp is being done by David E. Kelley, so it's that peculiar brand of misogyny that disguises itself as feminism. (If you don't think it's feminist, maybe you're just not feminist enough, huh? No. No, that is not what's happening.) The Daily Beast has done a beautiful takedown of the pilot script.

TRIGGER WARNING. I'm not sure how reliable The Daily Mail is (I feel like it's the English version of Fox News. English posters?) but they have an article up about the virginity checks that women protesters in Egypt got when arrested. If that's true (and I can believe that it is) it is disgusting and infuriating. (Obviously.) (Without doing a lot of further research, the article presented the information fairly neutrally, and without obvious moments of victim blaming. It's bad that I consider that kind of a win.)

It's not especially feminist or current events related, or whatever, but if you spend time thinking about books (all of us here do!) you might check out Patricia C. Wrede's blog entry about themes in books and the divide between literary and genre fiction. (Full disclosure: I consider the hyper-thematic literary fiction almost universally obnoxious, and skew heavily toward genre in my own reading habits; that may be one of many reasons I love Wrede's books.) (Other reasons include the fact that her books are BOSS. Seriously. Dealing With Dragons is I think the only book I've ever read where I had to stop reading to laugh out loud for ten minutes and then resume. My own laughter was distracting me from the plot. In a good way. Anyway.)

I read Go Fug Yourself for a lot of reasons, too (some of them being that it is boss, and its writers are hilarious) but it's not exactly where I go to get my daily dose of feminism. Which is why posts like this (wherein they say: shut UP, Rolling Stone) put a huge smile on my face. It's like a surprise bit of caramel syrup in my coffee, or a reference to my hometown in the novel I'm reading. Word, ladies. Rolling Stone should shut up, and quit it with the non-edgy exploitative nudity on their covers.

 John Scalzi wrote a piece for FilmCritic about the dearth of female writers and directors in the sci-fi and fantasy genres. It was a little off-putting to me how neutrally (and almost conservatively) it comes across; he doesn't lambast anyone or offer up blame, he just sort of ... notices, without a lot of analysis. Interesting, though.

Bitch told me, and now I'm telling you: there's a new website all about birth control! Actually, I enjoyed poking around it (rimshot!). So. Don't say we here at FnBs never did nothin' for ya.

Feministing takes on some of the more insulting female TV Tropes in a new series of video blogs. The first one is an excellent analysis of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl. (I'm impressed with the job they do partly because feminism and TV tropes are two great tastes that ... you know the rest, and partly because their analysis is more than throwing up their hands and saying "GOD, the MPDG is so motherflipping ANNOYING," which is what I would have done.)

GRAPHIC SEXUAL CONTENT WARNING. So I forget which blog recommended this to me (Slog, maybe?) but that blog is awesome because I never would have found this on my own. There's an article up at Pluck wherein a guy describes how his understanding of women changed after he and his girlfriend started experimenting with penetrative sex. (Him on the penetrated end, that is.) If you don't mind the descriptions (he doesn't get too graphic, but he doesn't exactly leave things ambiguous, either) it's a fascinating read.

Sociological Images and SCOTUSblog have posts up about the massive lawsuit by female WalMart employees about the company's sexist policies. (The issue before the court is whether this suit is legitimate as a class action lawsuit or not.)

Oh, and Tomato Nation is having its annual contest this month. (It's not a skill contest. It's a let's-see-how-much-money-we-can-raise-for-charity contest.) Amazing, inspiring, and totally full of prizes you can win for donating. Go forth!

29 March 2011

The Separation of Looks and Character: Lessons Learned in Modern Fairy Tale Retellings

So yeah, let's just call last week a posting failure and move on.

So I've done several RNTNs about fairy tale retellings and YA feminist fantasy. I've been trying for days to figure out how to stick my latest thoughts into that format, but it won't work; these books are all about on par in quality (I'd give any of them four to four and a half stars out of five, say). Still, they beg me to compare them, as all three deal with the same themes through different approaches. Live well in the body you have, say these books, and know that it has nothing at all to do with your character. Such is the lesson learned by the heroines in Princess Ben, by Catherine Gilbert Murdock, Fairest, by Gail Carson Levine, and Fire, by Kristin Cashore. (Fairest and Fire are prequels/companions to previous RNTN faves Ella Enchanted and Graceling, respectively.) Spoilers are present; I've tried to keep them fairly mild, but I do quote from the endings of the books, since that's when the heroines express their new thinking to the reader. 

25 March 2011

Quick links

Firstly, this needs to be signed straight away.


Secondly, this is awesomesauce

22 March 2011

Late Links

Yeah, these should have gone up last week. That was not a good blogging week for me. Sorry. Here they are now, and stay tuned for an essay-post in the next 24 hours or so.

And now for something completely different. You've probably already seen this, as I'm late in the game on it, but for the three of you who haven't, check out Sandia Labs' Report. Setup: You want to bury nuclear waste in the desert. Complication: Nuclear waste takes ten thousand years to decay into something reasonably safe to go near. Problem: How do you tell our many-great grandchildren (or, who knows, lizards' many-great grandchildren) to stay the hell away from this particular valley? Can YOU think of any direct, distinct, immediate communication from 10,000 years ago?

Remember that scene in Back to the Future, when Marty caught George up in a tree trying to peer into Lorraine's window? There's an app for that. (Finally we can all relax. I know I'm never happy unless dudes are busy believing that they're entitled to see me naked.)

I'm not writing about Libya because in bad, horrible, stupid American citizen form, I am quite ignorant of the details of revolutions abroad. If you're likewise ignorant and want to catch up, Rachel Maddow has all the details. If you're not thinking about it either, for whatever reasons, then the money perspective may not have occurred to you. (I have no opinions on this topic. I am too ignorant. I offer only places where you can get info from people who know more than I do.)

Shock, surprise, Yes Means Yes has another awesome post up this week (it's like they do it on purpose). Thomas looks at studies into the supposed communication barrier that leads rapists to claim they didn't understand that the victim was refusing. All bullshit, you'll be shocked to hear.

From the department of "and how would you like it if somebody did that to you?" pro-choice protesters are picketing Christian-run crisis pregnancy centers. I certainly see the appeal emotionally although I'm not convinced it's the smartest long-term tactic.

People spending a lot of time protesting (specifically internet-commenting) stuff they hate is what's bothering Cruella this week. It takes quite a bit to get me to comment on a blog other then our own here; I can't remember the last time I did. (Maybe to enter a contest?) And I rarely read comments; too many of them raise my blood pressure unacceptably.

In another move sure to shock our readership (yes, both of you) -- Hollywood has cast the lead in the upcoming Hunger Games movie; she's thin, blonde, and pretty. So, one out of three in terms of sticking true to the book? I'm not a huge fan  of the book but I have no problem calling bullshit on their casting criteria.

Skin tone again -- this time in a Dove ad. Is it scarier if they meant to do that or if they didn't?

Did you know conservatives used to be for Planned Parenthood? Keeps the welfare queens in check, yo. (Nope, not making this up.)

Sarah Palin thinks the NEA is frivolous. Of course she does.

Those brave residents of Florida stand up against political correctness and insist that they'll keep blaming the victims if they goddamn want to. And they'll make it law, too.

And of course, this week's links would be incomplete without mention of how the GOP wants to turn the IRS into the morality police. Ahh, I love the smell of fermented Calvinism in the morning. (Also if you think about this for thirty fucking seconds it makes no fucking sense. GOD SHUT UP BOEHNER.) (via caudoviral)

Depressed yet? I am. Go look at a baby aardvark, that's the best I got.

18 March 2011

Can a man identify as a feminist?


I've not much to offer, as ever-it's Friday and Comic Relief! But I read this article and had a mixed reaction. I'm glad he's owning his own privilege, but...as a white person, I can't say that I'm antiracist because, like it or not, I benefit from white privilege every day. I benefit from other people's oppressions. And this man benefits from being a man, so really? Are you a feminist when every day you benefit from a misogynistic society?

Also..'feminists don't hate men. We looove men'. Um...it's NOT ABOUT THE MEN. Sometimes I DO hate men, as it's very tiresome being seen as nothing more than a walking uterus/sperm dump. This shouldn't prevent men from listening to me because occassionally I am angry.

I don't know, in many ways I do get what he's saying, but...blah.

16 March 2011

Ye Olde Dichotomy; Also Some Facts

It's one of those weeks when I don't have anything insightful to say. The stuff that I'm actually inspired to write about is too personal for me to put on the blog right now; regular politics and feminism-related stuff seems trivial when the big news stories are related to Japan's disasters (about which I have nothing new to add. Donate, if you are so moved! Don't be a dick, even if you are so moved!); I'm not in a place where I feel like sharing a book review or TV analysis.

But one of my rules was that I am not going to hold myself to such high standards that I never get anything written. So ... yeah, I didn't really come up with a contingency plan for when I'm actually uninspired.

Being uninspired to me comes in two flavors. There is the level of "I don't really have anything to say that is interesting, or original," and that has to do with my own high standards, and my rules about writing that you shouldn't chatter on paper to no purpose because the internet has plenty of that already. Then there's the deeper level of "I just don't feel like giving anything of myself to other people right now," that sort of a protective, metaphorical fetal-position type feeling. When the first one is troubling me, that's something I need to find a way to work with, if I'm going to commit to writing on a deadline. With the second -- which is what I've got at the moment -- well, that's also something I'm going to need to get past, but it makes it harder to choose a topic when one is unassigned.

So. Here are some interesting trivial facts you may not know. They do not relate to any particular topic.

1. When Disney started marketing the princess line, they had to contend with the fact that Roy Disney (nephew of Walt) was dead against princesses from different stories interacting with one another in any way. That's why when princesses appear on the same product, they are never making eye contact with one another but always staring off into middle distance in different directions.

2. "To be or not to be: that is the question" is not a standard iambic pentameter line. Neither is "Now is the winter of our discontent" and neither is "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?" They're standard variations -- the first has a feminine ending, the latter two open with inverted feet -- that are used often, but they are not good examples of the base iambic pentameter style. If you need one (why would you?) go with "My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun."

3. There is no direct evidence for the existence of the Oort Cloud, a three-dimensional sphere of space junk that supposedly sits about 50,000 AUs from the sun. Scientists just decided that comets had to hang out somewhere when they were on the far reaches of their orbits. It's like Aristotle's logic about the Prime Mover, transposed to modern science.

4. It is constitutionally legal in the U.S. to sterilize the so-called mentally unfit. Buck v. Bell was never overturned. It is no longer common practice (or generally legal) on the state level; the Supreme Court will never get the chance to overturn it unless someone sues after having the procedure done, so it being illegal at the state level actually indirectly protects its official constitutionality.

5. In 1965, Yves Saint Laurent designed a knitted white wool wedding dress inspired by Russian nesting dolls. It sort of looks like a phallus crossed with a wedding cake.

That's all I got. Go forth, Google, and check my facts.

11 March 2011

Links & Leeks

All right. It's 5:30 on Friday afternoon and I've had one beer so far, which is in no way enough to take the edge off the week I've had. So here are your links for the week, and if they suck do me a favor and don't tell me about it for twenty-four hours.

Feministing notes that the Obama administration has rescinded the federal regulation commonly called the "Conscience Clause". This has been mentioned before (STILL need to do a proper post about it, but don't hold your breath, I've got eight million Deep Thoughts I feel the need to share and this is only one). I will go ahead and say "Yay!" because this is practically speaking, a great step for feminism and equal rights.

Keep up with the whole Prop 8 debate over at the SCOTUSblog. (Yeah, I'm just going to keep posting those updates until stuff stops happening about it.)

Sociological Images has an article about how video game characters' breasts have gotten bigger and bigger as the games go through new versions and get more popular. (I'm tempted to joke that this is a link that women and men will find interesting. But that would be insulting and sexist. I will say merely that it includes some telling images.)

Okay, Arizona, I admit that I'm not particularly in touch with your culture. But after the shooting of several weeks ago, your new gun legislation baffles me (and this Slog writer, apparently).

This blog/FAQ post by an abortion doctor is a must-read, in my opinion. It's candid, fascinating, and both thoughtful and thought-provoking. (It's over at The Hairpin; I'm not sure what the status is on this writer and whether she has her own blog.)

Yes Means Yes has done two great posts recently about the studies done on men and women's different responses to offers of casual sex. Full disclosure: I haven't read through these fully yet (see above re: the week I have had) but I feel pretty confident recommending anything posted on that blog; I don't always agree with everything but I'm always interested.

And, because I don't have the energy to link to some of this week's more depressing stories (oh, you want your day wrecked? Okay -- TRIGGER WARNING ON THE REST OF THIS PARAGRAPH AND THE LINK: you know the story that recently broke about the 11 year old gang rape victim? Guess what she's being called! Gin and Tacos calls it a failure of journalism; I call it misogyny.)

That's all I've got for now. What are you reading?