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If you ever want to weep for the fate of humanity…

If you ever want to weep for the fate of humanity… published on No Comments on If you ever want to weep for the fate of humanity…

…go watch I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change, a so-called musical comedy revue, the music for which we can blame on Joe DiPietro and the script on Jimmy Roberts. Wikipedia says that this is the second-longest running off Broadway musical, which makes me respond with the same exclamation that I had after reading Best Loved Poems of the American People: “Wow, the American people have no taste.”

I Love You is basically a laundry list of all the stereotypes associated with modern heteronormative relationships, from dating, to marriage, to having kids, to growing old, all expressed in their most formulaic banalities, set to pointless, unoriginal arrangements that add nothing to the story, such as it is. The reliance on a variety of sketches, united by theme, rather than compelling, engaging characters, shows up the tedious, threadbare nature of the cliches at play. I’m not sure why it’s called a comedy, as it highlights the self-loathing, desperation, and barely concealed hostility that motivate the modern heteronormative narrative. Hah hah. Real funny.


P.S. I have to say, though, that I did like the part that went something like this:


“Did you put the boys to bed?”


“How’d you do it so fast?”

“Told ’em we were going to Disney World.”


“You bribed them with promises of Disney World?!”


“I couldn’t help it — they were throwing the goldfish at each other. –I figure we’ll just wait a few months, then tell ’em it burned down.”

Sexually active teenage girls are repulsive; Abenaki Indians are disposable; and “sex changes” are humiliating punishment: lessons from The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant

Sexually active teenage girls are repulsive; Abenaki Indians are disposable; and “sex changes” are humiliating punishment: lessons from The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant published on No Comments on Sexually active teenage girls are repulsive; Abenaki Indians are disposable; and “sex changes” are humiliating punishment: lessons from The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant

Please note that this discussion of Joanna Wiebe’s Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant contains critical examination of huge spoilers. Don’t read further if you want to maintain the mystery. Read further if you want detail on how this otherwise promising debut fails disappointingly.Continue reading Sexually active teenage girls are repulsive; Abenaki Indians are disposable; and “sex changes” are humiliating punishment: lessons from The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant

Cards Against Humanity and the insidious trap of hipster prejudice

Cards Against Humanity and the insidious trap of hipster prejudice published on 1 Comment on Cards Against Humanity and the insidious trap of hipster prejudice

For those of you not up on the latest hip party game for people in their 20s and 30s, let me introduce you to Cards Against Humanity. Essentially a group form of multiple choice Mad Libs, this game features a bunch of black cards, which contain sentences with key nouns left out, and a bunch of white cards, which contain nouns or noun phrases. Each player draws a hand of 10 white cards, and then everyone gets a chance to read a black card aloud. After a card is read, players choose from their hand the white card that they think best completes the sentence. These cards are distributed to the reader anonymously. The reader reads the selections aloud and selects the one they like best. The player whose white card is chosen wins the black card. All players draw another white card to keep their hand up to 10, and the role of reading black cards passes to the next player.

In concept, Cards Against Humanity is the sort of game I love. There’s no competition and no real winning or losing. The game emphasizes creativity and amusement instead of points and strategy. It’s the type of game that grows exponentially more hilarious with more and more players, and it sparks very interesting side conversations when people ask or joke about each other’s choices.

In practice, however, I find Cards Against Humanity very problematic in terms of content and framing. The black cards, with their framing sentences, feature mostly topical references familiar to people in their 20s and 30s. Examples include: "What does Prince insist on being included in his dressing room?" and "What does Obama do to unwind?" Fine, no big deal.

It’s the white noun cards, though, that drive me up the wall. If they contained only generically amusing phrases such as "murder most foul," "inappropriate yodeling" and "licking things to claim them as your own," I wouldn’t object. But no, those cards are a distinct minority. The white cards focus heavily on topics apparently considered taboo or difficult to discuss by the white, straight, cis, male, bourgeois creator, including people of color ["brown people," "the hard-working Mexican"], people with disabilities ["amputees," "Stephen Hawking talking dirty," "a robust Mongoloid," "a spastic nerd," "the profoundly handicapped"], queer people ["the gays," "praying the gay away"], fat people ["feeding Rosie O’Donnell," "the morbidly obese," "home video of Oprah sobbing into a Lean Cuisine"], gender-nonconforming people ["passable transvestites"], genocide ["inappropriately timed Holocaust jokes," "helplessly giggling at the mention of Hutus and Tutsis"], Muslims ["Allah [praise be unto him!]," "72 virgins"], poor people ["poor people," "homeless people"], old people ["Grandma," "hospice care"], child abuse ["child abuse"], rape ["surprise sex"], paraphilias ["German dungeon porn"] and crap ["fiery poops"]. I could go on, but then I’d be quoting the entire suite of white cards.

Cards Against Humanity glancingly acknowledges the problematic structure of its game by billing its audience as "horrible people." "It’s as despicable and awkward as you and your friends," crows the main page of the game’s Web site. Of course, below this description are various cool publications and people praising the game, so clearly the game’s creators see being "despicable and awkward" as a coveted, desirable status. They quote condemnations from the Chicago Tribune ["absurd"], The Economist ["unforgivable"] and NPR ["bad"] in contrast with praise from INC ["hilarious"] and Boing Boing ["funny"]. Thus they associate criticism with old-fashioned, conservative, humorless media outlets full of old people and appreciation with the young, hip, cool crowd. To be "despicable and awkward," then, is ultimately to be cool. 

What does Cards Against Humanity’s concept of coolness — that is, their idea of rebranded despicability qua awesomeness — entail? Basically it means laughing at anyone who’s not a straight, white, cis, bourgeois, hipster dude [like the creator]. Don’t try to tell me that, because the game has white cards like "white privilege," it actually critiques those who are discomfited by the concept. No, it doesn’t, not when the majority of cards make marginalized people who lack privilege into punchline after punchline after punchline.

If you’re still not convinced, let me break it down to you with a single example: the white card that has the phrase "passable transvestites." There is so much wrong with this card that it’s hard to know where to start. Well, to begin with, clearly someone thought this phrase worthy of inclusion into the deck of white cards, meaning that someone perceived it as shocking, racy, funny and potentially ridiculous. So what’s shocking, racy and entertaining about "passable transvestites?" Yeah, a gender nonconforming person who goes out in public en femme so that they avoid being clocked always makes me laugh. The stats on trans and other gender nonconforming people being harassed, assaulted and killed provide comic relief every time I read them. The outdated language on this white card — the vexed concept of "passable," coupled with the no-longer-used, clinical-sounding "transvestite" — signals that the game’s creators are hung up on old-fashioned binaries of gender presentation, the transgression of which they find hilarious and pathetic, instead of a matter of life and death.

I can make the same points about Cards Against Humanity’s treatment of people with disabilities, the prejudice against whom can be summed up in a single white card: "Stephen Hawking talking dirty." Yup, yup, of course, people who are neuroatypical, emotionally atypical and physically atypical to the extent that society doesn’t really know how to accommodate them — they’re comedy gold! I mean, really — can you imagine a man with paralysis talking dirty? First of all, he’d be doing it with the help of his computer, which is inherently hilarious, you know, because he can’t really talk. Second of all, it would imply that he, despite being unable to move parts of his body, has active sexual desires and interests, which is a shock, because no paralyzed person has ever had sexual interests and agency before — ever! They’re just…like… wheelchair-bound automatons. Yeah, "the profoundly handicapped" are a gas all right. Yet again, Cards Against Humanity’s decision to employee the passe and offensive term "handicapped" shows that they’re not interested in mocking prejudice, but in perpetuating it.

EDIT: As rosettanettle points out in a comment on my LJ crosspost, the creator of Cards Against Humanity expressed regret for the "passable transvestites" white card, which is now no longer included in decks. This does not, however, negate any of my points. If anything, it reinforces them, since the creator’s expression of "regret," which came only because he was called on his transphobia, comes across as less a regret of treasuring bigoted tenets and more a regret at getting caught. I also suspect his theatrical Tumblr photoset of him lighting the card on fire of being a self-aggrandizing performance so that he may be showered with praise about what an enlightened ally he is. Why do straight, cis, white, middle-class dudes think they deserve extra special plaudits for meeting minimum standards of decency? "Despicable," indeed.

This entry was originally posted at You can comment here, but I’d prefer it if you’d comment on my DW using OpenID.

Warehouse 13 closes with a lackluster season 5.

Warehouse 13 closes with a lackluster season 5. published on No Comments on Warehouse 13 closes with a lackluster season 5.

This truncated set of 6 eps provided no particular closure, no interesting character development and nothing particularly interesting. The overall flaccidity of the 6 eps just highlighted the show’s problematic aspects even more excruciatingly.

In no particular order, the problems were:

  • Steve. The show never did this character justice. He had great potential, especially as someone with the power of discerning whether people were telling the truth, but the show never really knew what to do with him. Without a tortured past full of secrets like the other agents [or at least not enough of the past for a multi-ep exploration], Steve had no grounding, no motivation, no hook. He also never really had anything to do except for to be Claudia’s best friend, to die, to be resurrected and to keep the home fires burning while everyone else ran away on adventures. He was a thoroughly dull and objectified damsel in distress type. I feel like the writers identified him by a cluster of traits — former ATF agent, Buddhist, gay, human lie detector — and just had him mention those identities occasionally in lieu of developing an actual personality.
  • While we’re on the subject again, let’s bring up homophobia, one of the show’s perennial failings. In 6.4, Savage Seduction, Claudia and Steve investigate a frat where the brothers are using an artifact to split themselves into two parts: studiers and partiers. Claudia and Steve’s quest started promisingly with Claudia grumbling about "kids these days" [even though she was the age of the students] and Steve’s revelation that he had been part of a nerd fraternity with "book group and holiday a cappella." Then Steve got a hold of the artifact and turned into two Steves, one of which was usual Steve and the other of which was a painfully swishy stereotype. Where did that come from? Steve had never shown any indication of harboring painfully swishy stereotypes. It could have been interesting if those were his long-buried fears about what he might have to be when he found out he was gay, but nah — the show just played swishy Steve for laughs. Claudia also made a passing remark that she liked swishy Steve "a little bit more" than usual Steve, which was indicative of the show’s whole treatment of Steve’s sexuality: it was only ever developed jokingly, with reference to stereotypes, even if Steve was bringing them up to say that he differed from them. The show could not take him as a gay guy seriously and invested way too much prurient energy into his sexuality.
  • Speaking of sexuality, the show also capitulated to cultural pressures of heteronormativity. After five seasons of him being annoyed at her exactitude and her being annoyed at his immaturity, Pete and Myka realized that they loved each other. Well, that was pretty obvious. But why did they have to end up as a romantic couple? They may have loved each other and worked well together, but they were not characterologically compatible, so why did the show hook them up? Boring, boring, boring.
  • Furthermore, racism featured prominently in Warehouse 13’s final season. It was like they crammed all the racism that they hadn’t gotten to into a single truncated set of 6 eps. There were the gratuitous "g***y" references with the fortune tellers in the Ren Faire ep. There was the trash heap of "fiery Latino" stereotypes in the telenovela ep. Then, in the last ep, Leena, who was bumped off for no reason at the end of season 4, was given a flashback scene in which she foresaw her own death in the Warehouse and then, when Mrs. Frederic said that she would try to prevent it, said to her, "But it’s okay." No, you stinkin’ show — do not try to retroactively sell me on the useless death of one of the show’s two main characters of color. I won’t buy it.


This entry was originally posted at You can comment here, but I’d prefer it if you’d comment on my DW using OpenID.

Humanoid plant seeks someone to heterosexualize with.

Humanoid plant seeks someone to heterosexualize with. published on No Comments on Humanoid plant seeks someone to heterosexualize with.

I hate it when beautiful animation and character design is ruined by a threadbare universalization of gender essentialism. Shame too because they’re exquisite human/plant hybrids. They’re not technically therianthropes because they’re not human/non-human animal hybrids, but I’m tagging them as such so I can find them again.

This entry was originally posted at You can comment here, but I’d prefer it if you’d comment on my DW using OpenID.

Are you kidding me?

Are you kidding me? published on No Comments on Are you kidding me?

[Thanks to Sparky at Racialicious.]

This “reverse discrimination” bullshit got funded?! WHY?

Re plot summary: SNORE. Also…saddest song, smallest violin.

P.S. I’ve started swearing in my LJ again. There’s too much bullshit in the world that needs calling out as such.

EDIT: Wow, it gets worse. First off, the author says that she wrote this bullshit because anti-gay bigots need to “to feel, through the love story of Chris and Carmen, the wrenching horror of being denied the person you love.” Yeah, somehow, reading about a persecuted straight couple will make anti-gay bigots more sympathetic to queers. Given that many anti-gay bigots believe that they are personally being persecuted right here and now by the “homosexual agenda,” I doubt that a book making queers the majority will promote empathy in said anti-gay bigots. They’d read it as a cautionary tale of what will happen to this civilization if we let those evil queers have their so-called “rights.” No, Preble, your book does not challenge anti-gay bigotry. It supports anti-gay bigotry.

Second of all, she thinks she’s some sort of fearless crusader with a message from “the Universe” to “[l]ive your truth.” Hey, Preble…your truth is that you’re full of heteronormative privilege. Also self-aggrandizing bullshit.

Third, she’s laboring under the misconception that her book is “LGBT fiction.” News flash for the clueless — in order to be classified as “LGBT fiction,” your book has to feature some lesbian and/or gay and/or bisexual and/or trans characters as sympathetically portrayed individuals whose experiences are worth sharing. You can’t just write a story  with some lesbian and/or gay and/or bi and/or trans characters who function not as characters, but as poorly wielded anvils to hammer home the Important Theme [tm] that Anti-Gay Bigotry Is Wrong. “LGBT” fiction requires valuing, promoting and centering various varieties of “LGBT” experiences, which Preble obviously can’t do.

Fourth and most disgustingly, Preble feeds us some argle-bargle about writing this book in support of her gay son. Jesus Christ, if she really wished to support her son, why didn’t she help to organize her local city’s Pride celebration, join PFLAG, staff the fundraising phones at a marriage equality organization [since that’s one of her pet causes]? At least do something directly related to queers. As mind-blowing as it may be to hear this, Preble, writing about straight people does not further the cause of queer civil rights. In fact, it just reinforces the broad societal assumption that the only stories worth telling are heteronormative ones. Get it? You’re not helping. Shut up; bug off, and stop colonizing my subgenre. We don’t want you here.

I can’t expect Preble to get it, though. Her brain is so stuffed with straight privilege that there’s no room for any critical thought. I mean, look — she apparently doesn’t think queers exist. She addresses her blog audience [and putative readership] as follows: “If the way you are, ie, attracted to people of the opposite sex, was criminalized, how would you feel?”

Three things, Preble: 1) You appear to be operating under the strange and old-fashioned notion that sexes have “opposites,” a concept that is both factually incorrect and incoherent. What do you even mean here?

2) I AIN’T STRAIGHT. I am not attracted to people of the “opposite” sex. Amazing, huh? Not everyone in the world is just like you.

3) It ain’t a conditional for me. The way I am is criminalized in some places, maybe not where I live, but elsewhere. Though I might have certain freedoms that people in more restricted places do not, we all suffer from the same societal biases. Don’t tell me and others like me that our lives are speculative fiction. You don’t get to dictate my reality.

Oh wait…I have a fourth thing. 4) I read your sample chapter of this book, and you can’t write for shit.

“Hubby says…no more!”: when your partner hates your dolls…I mean you

“Hubby says…no more!”: when your partner hates your dolls…I mean you published on 3 Comments on “Hubby says…no more!”: when your partner hates your dolls…I mean you

I'm active on 2 message boards for 1:6 figs. On one of them earlier this week, a heterosexual, married woman posted some pictures of her vampire dolls with an inexpensive Barbie subbing for one of the expensive vampire characters that she had not purchased, but wished to. She wrote, "Hubby says no more. At least until Christmas…" In other words, her husband told her that she can't buy any more figs till Xmas.

So her husband issued her an ultimatum about what she can and can't do in pursuit of her interests, and she just accepted it. That's not an interaction between equals; that's an interaction between a superior [husband] and a subordinate [wife]. Where does her husband get off, thinking he can control his wife's interests? Why does she accept his control without complaint?

I know why. Her husband probably earns and controls most of the money in their marriage. I bet she's financially dependent on him. Both of them think of the money as all his because it mostly flows from his job, his inheritance, blah blah blah. Both of them also think that, because it's his money, he gets to dictate its distribution. Therefore, he graciously permits his wife to have interests that involve spending money…well, until the interests become too expensive, in his estimation, at which point he forbids the continuation of his wife's interests because she is taking something away from him. She should be sacrificing for his preferences and wellbeing instead! I mean, God forbid the two approach their relationship from a standpoint of equality, mutual respect and support, rather than a standpoint of sexist, transactional manipulation.

I see the same type of interactions play out on DOA, a forum for people who like Asian ball-jointed dolls. I've heard the following story several times: a young, heterosexual woman writes that her boyfriend feels a deep, shuddering repugnance towards BJDs, not infrequently to the point of forbidding his girlfriend to get any more of them. The poster, of course, feels deep distress and wonders what to do.

Answer: Cultivate relationships with people who respect you and your interests. If a family member, friend or partner tries to control your interests, they're trying to control you because they don't like you the way that you are. They're trying to control you, especially if you're a woman and your interlocutor is a man, because they've internalized the sexist societal dread of autonomous, equal women. They're scared of you. They probably even hate you. Do the world a favor, and surround yourself with people who believe in and practice love instead of fear.

Anyone who says, "No more dolls till Xmas!" instead of "Let's work on our financial goals together" and "You do what you want with your hobby money, as long as you're happy and not hurting anyone" will be kicked to the curb. Anyone who says, "The dolls or me!" as an ultimatum will promptly be dumped in favor of the dolls. That's because I respect myself, while the other person obviously does not.

Heteronormativity in authorial communications

Heteronormativity in authorial communications published on 4 Comments on Heteronormativity in authorial communications

As part of my job, I communicate with authors about the status of their manuscripts, including format correction letters, revision letters, resubmission letters, "Where is your overdue review?" letters, etc. The ways in which the authors address me are alternately frustrating and amusing.

I've had authors address me as "Dr. Allen," which is hilarious. They must assume that anyone involved in a medical journal is automatically a doctor. Well, the editor is a doctor, as are the associate editors and editorial board members, but not the editorial staff.

I've had authors address me as "Miss Allen," which is somewhat irritating, but kind of understandable. A lot of the authors are international, and their primary language may not have an equivalent of "Ms.," so they go with "Miss." Fine.

What really grates my cheese, though, is when authors address me as "Mrs. Allen." Apparently they assume that, just because I come across as a woman belonging to a certain cohort, I must be in a [hetero] marriage. They also assume that, even if I were married, I should be called "Mrs." Nope, it's "Ms." all the way, bucko.

I'm just waiting for when we get married, and someone calls up or sends mail to "Mrs. [My Spouse's Name]," like I'm completely subsumed into her identity. "That person does not exist. Goodbye."

While I'm on the subject, it's my name, mine mine mine, and I'm keeping it. Just as I don't change identity when I marry, so I don't change my name [or my honorific]. What a silly, misogynist, insulting assumption that I would.

Since I'm here, I should also tell you to call me either by the name I introduce myself as or the name prominently featured in my E-mail signature. Anyone who automatically calls me by some nickname available to those people who have my name will be glared at, corrected and dealt a swift kick in the butt [well, the last mentally at least].

I'm feeling a lot of outrage these days.

Paint It Black by Nancy Collins [Sonja Blue #3]: banal in its badness

Paint It Black by Nancy Collins [Sonja Blue #3]: banal in its badness published on No Comments on Paint It Black by Nancy Collins [Sonja Blue #3]: banal in its badness

Just finished the third book in the Sonja Blue trilogy, Paint It Black by Nancy Collins. Kinda funny how she took the title from a Rolling Stones song that was more original, memorable and deeply felt in a few verses than the entire Sonja Blue trilogy was in 3 books. Anyway, I think there was something in there about Sonja's consummation of her quest for vengeance against her vampire maker, but it was lost in an incredibly tedious string of rape, murder, murder by rape and rape by murder that was trying hard to pass for plot.

I was mostly reading the book because I was curious to see how Sonja's adopted vampire/human hybrid daughter Lethe would turn out. When Lethe went into a cocoon, popped out as a teenager after a few weeks and raped her adoptive father [Sonja's partner], then flew around the world [without a plane], raping 24 other guys, with the goal of producing some sort of master race with super psychic powers, I was disgusted. I was disgusted by the complete vacuity of the whole enterprise and its venomously misanthropic, morally bankrupt imagination. It was bad because it was stupid and stupid because it was bad.

I swore an oath to myself that I wouldn't swear any more in my LJ, but I have to break that oath now because the Sonja Blue trilogy was the shittiest shit that ever shat. It's an offense to good writing, good plotting and good character development. It's an offense to all people of any sex and gender presentation, but especially women. It's an offense against anyone who believes in kindness, respect, humanity and fairness. It's an offense to originality and creativity.

I've concluded that it's not actually a trilogy. Instead, it's an actively destructive vortex of hostility. It's a testament to the sad depths of banal depravity of the human imagination. It's a diseased mutation of novels, a literary cancer born from kyriarchical nastiness. It's deeply revolting on every level — line by line, cliche by cliche, regurgitated theme by regurgitated theme — and potentially damaging. I live in the kyriarchy; I already experience multiple axes of oppression daily; I don't need the inhumane dicta of the kyriarchy concentrated and injected directly into my amygdala in the form of this trilogy.

If, for some bizarre reason, you want to read a series that hates you and enjoys doing so, I heartily recommend the Sonja Blue trilogy. You can have my copies. Take them, please. I would burn them in cleansing fire, only I don't think there's any place around here where I can do so without violating some sort of city ordinance. Barring that, I'll settle for tossing them in the Dumpster or recycling them in the vain hope that the pages might contribute usefully to society in their next life.

I don't just hate this trilogy. I reject it. I repudiate it. It represents all the vile oppressions against which I struggle every day. This trilogy is just one of my many enemies and oppressors.

I will not let it win.

Heteronormativity at the estate planner’s

Heteronormativity at the estate planner’s published on 2 Comments on Heteronormativity at the estate planner’s

My financial advisor has been bugging me to make a will, power of attorney, health care agent, all that sort of thing, so I finally got around to scheduling an initial consultation. At my sister's recommendation, I chose Clarke Demas and Baker, a Vermont-based law firm, and scheduled an appointment.

I received a PDF intake form for a single person, but wanted a Word document so I could make notes on it. When I received the Word intake form, I noticed that it was for married people, but I decided to use it anyway.

Then I looked closely at the married intake form. It was divided into 2 columns, one labeled "Husband" and the other labeled "Wife."

Outrage overcame me. [It does that a lot these days.] We've had marriage equality here in the state since 2009, but Clarke Demas and Baker apparently refuses to accept reality by simply changing their forms to read "Spouse 1" and "Spouse 2." They may have experience doing estate planning for same-sex couples, but their forms betray what they really think of us: we don't exist.

I refuse to patronize a law firm that thinks I don't exist. My business is going elsewhere, and I'm telling them why.

EDIT: I just explained to the legal assistant my cancellation and my reasons. I said that they should update their forms. She said, "I apologize; we do have a form for that."

Now I'm really glad I'm not using their services. My God, if the legal assistant can't even say the phrase "same-sex marriage" and if, for some reason, there's a separate form [separate but no doubt "equal!"] for same-sex spouses, the firm clearly devalues me and my ilk.

Heteronormativity at the dentist

Heteronormativity at the dentist published on 8 Comments on Heteronormativity at the dentist

Following up on my entry earlier this year about sexism on a customer service line, I present the following conversation, which happened between me and the dental hygienist this morning. I was actually finding the poking, scraping and drilling much less annoying than usual, thanks to the hygienist's sense of humor and skills. Then we started talking about mouthwash.

I asked for recommendations of alcohol-free mouthwash. I mentioned that "my fiancee" used mouthwash with alcohol, which I did not like because of its strong odor.

Hygienist: "What kind does he use?"

Me: "I don't know what SHE uses."

Conversation continued with recommendations.

So she automatically assumed that I was engaged to a guy because a) I look like a woman and b) the majority of marriages are between a man and a woman. However, given that spouses are not always 1 man + 1 woman, people should know better than to make that assumption, especially in Vermont, which is on the vanguard of marriage equality in the US. The definition of marriage has changed yet again, people. Get with the program!

P.S. My FIANCE?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!? What fiance?

P.P.S. Holy crap, the hygienist was not the only one behind the times. Just out of curiosity, I typed "define marriage" into Google.

Merriam Webster's online dictionary says:

"(1) the state of being united to a person of the opposite sex as husband or wife in a consensual and contractual relationship recognized by law (2) : the state of being united to a person of the same sex in a relationship like that of a traditional marriage"

FAILURE. Just say "the state of being united to a person as a husband or wife…blah blah blah." says something similar:

"1. a. the social institution under which a man and woman establish their decision to live as husband and wife by legal commitments, religious ceremonies, etc. Antonyms: separation.
b. a similar institution involving partners of the same gender: gay marriage. Antonyms: separation."

FAILURE. It's all the same institution.

Google's first dictionary result has the same problem:

"1. The formal union of a man and a woman, typically recognized by law, by which they become husband and wife
2. A similar long-term relationship between partners of the same sex"

THREE STRIKES AND YOU'RE OUT. It's not "a similar long-term relationship." It's the same thing!

Not until Wiktionary do we get a more accurate definition, talking about an exclusive union between two or more people. Subdefinitions clarify that, in some jurisdictions, marriage is defined as being between 1 man + 1 woman, while other jurisdictions allow 2 partners of any sex to marry. But the main thing is the exclusive union.

I actually like the Wikipedia entry the best, as it seems to capture the concept and purposes of marriage that have remained stable over time: "Marriage (also called matrimony or wedlock) is a social union or legal contract between people called spouses that creates kinship." Marriage is a grouping of people to create social units. Everything else varies. If you don't like that, you're on the losing side of history.

Crystallized while reading Postmortal

Crystallized while reading Postmortal published on No Comments on Crystallized while reading Postmortal

As much as I'm interested in the concept of the novel [a cure for aging and its effects on the world], I DO NOT CARE AT ALL about the adventures of the protagonist, a straight, cis, white, middle-class, able-bodied, US man with a societally acceptable body shape and a slag heap of unexamined privilege.

Seemingly THE ENTIRE WORLD revolves around the adventures of straight, cis, white, middle-class, able-bodied men with societally acceptable body shapes and slag heaps of unexamined privilege. They're tedious, boring, self-indulgent and overdone. Find a new narrative, people.

P.S. And if you're a straight etc. man whose protagonist happens to be a straight etc. man, you're suffering A FAILURE OF IMAGINATION. The world don't look like you no more. Get over yourself.

Investigating a person’s sex as part of my job!

Investigating a person’s sex as part of my job! published on 1 Comment on Investigating a person’s sex as part of my job!

I was in the very awkward position today of trying to find out the sex of a coauthor of an article for which I was sending a revision letter. I wanted to include in the letter that the doctor needed to update their financial disclosure and wanted to give instructions on how to do so.

I couldn't use third-person plural pronouns or "his/her" because the company objects to those uses. In order to avoid really awkward phrasing, I wanted to find out this person's sex so I could use the correct pronouns, and the person's name was not giving me any clues.

I eventually found information about the person's sex and completed the instructions with the correct pronouns. This situation highlighted for me the English language's need for a broadly accepted gender-neutral pronoun. Third-person plural pronouns are fine to me, if only conservative institutions would stop having grammatical fits about them.

Interestingly enough, I mostly avoid the subject of people's sex in my job because pretty much everyone we deal with is a doctor, so we just address them by that title.

I hate Lifetime Xmas movies part deux!!!

I hate Lifetime Xmas movies part deux!!! published on No Comments on I hate Lifetime Xmas movies part deux!!!

Yesterday, I watched another Lifetime Xmas movie, The Road to Xmas, in which a woman is happily engaged to an Italian man. He’s preparing a surprise wedding for her in Aspen and, when one of her photography shoots is canceled, she decides to fly out early to surprise him. When her flight is canceled, she hitches a ride with a widower and his teenaged daughter. The woman [naturally :p ] falls in love with the widower, conveniently discovers her fiance’s infidelity and dumps the fiance for the widower.

For a Lifetime Xmas movie, The Road to Xmas was surprisingly tolerable. This is probably because the movie itself was a road-trip romance that happened to occur arround Xmas, rather than a film in which Xmas plays a starring role as the holiday of cliched and enforced happiness for all.

Because I could watch Road to Xmas without gagging on holiday cheer, its problematic elements stood out all the more strongly: 1) homophobia and 2) domestic violence.

You see…the photographer’s fiance wasn’t just having an affair with some random woman…he was sexing it up with the male wedding planner. After unbelievable excuses, the fiance protests that he really wanted the wedding between him and the photographer to work out, which makes him seem like not only a cheater, but a cheater deluded enough to think that a straight marriage would somehow keep both parties happy when one party is secretly gay. After an entirely heteronormative movie, two gay characters appear only to provide a devastating [yet convenient] end to the photographer and fiance’s relationship, thus reinforcing the idea that gay people are selfish homewreckers.

I also objected to the domestic violence at the end of the film. When she discovered that her fiance was gay, the photographer swung her fists at him, slapping him and pounding him in the chest. He said something like, “Please don’t hit me!” or “Why are you hitting me?” Her response was something like, “It’s the only thing I can think to do, and it feels good.” The photographer’s blows against her fiance were shown to be ineffectual and comic, but just make the assailant a man and the victim a woman to see how chilling this exchange truly is. Can you imagine a male character justifying violence against a female character by saying, “It feels good”? Most people would recognize such a situation as the abusive behavior it is. When the assailant is female, however, and the victim male, the situation is minimized, diminished and played for comic relief so that the violence seems more palatable, even acceptable and dismissable! Vomitorious.

I hate Lifetime Xmas movies.

I hate Lifetime Xmas movies. published on No Comments on I hate Lifetime Xmas movies.

They all contain female protagonists who are over the hill at my age >:( [Eve’s Xmas] and who learn the true, fulfilling value of heterosexual marriage through the intervention of unrealistic “meet cutes” [His and Hers Xmas] or Magical Wise Negro fairy godfathers. Vomit vomit vomit. They’re sort of fascinating in a stomach-churning sort of way.

Yark, what an anti-romantic, coercive gesture! The “surprise wedding”

Yark, what an anti-romantic, coercive gesture! The “surprise wedding” published on 3 Comments on Yark, what an anti-romantic, coercive gesture! The “surprise wedding”

Via Shakesville, I learned today about the “surprise wedding.” What is this wretched idea? Apparently, according to the Windsor Star, this man’s idea was to plan an entire wedding behind his fiancee’s back, with friends and family keeping her in the dark until the moment that he proposed, at which point he said that the wedding would occur within hours.

So let’s get this straight…

  • One partner willfully deprives the other of any input in planning a significant, life-changing event, assuming that he knows best for the both of them.
  • The depriving partner even brings the other partner’s whole social and familial circle into collusion, basically trapping them in a lie of omission.
  • Finally, as if this weren’t enough, the depriving partner sets up a highly public event at which the other partner may be embarrassed, shamed or coerced into submitting.

Such a series of events is not romantic and loving. By degrading and ignoring his partner’s agency and input, the depriving partner is saying, in so many words, that his plans matter more than hers, that he matters more than she does. No matter how many of her preferences he incorporates into the wedding, the mere fact that he set everything up without her consultation, basically leaving her only a slot in which to insert her “yes,” devalues his partner in general. It’s arguably abusive!

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