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Wait…that was supposed to be a smart sci-fi film? or, Ex Machina and Smug White People Feminism

Wait…that was supposed to be a smart sci-fi film? or, Ex Machina and Smug White People Feminism published on No Comments on Wait…that was supposed to be a smart sci-fi film? or, Ex Machina and Smug White People Feminism

I have no idea where all the reviewers of Ex Machina get off, thinking that it’s some novel, philosophical, highly intelligent piece of sci-fi movie making. It’s not. The first two thirds contain the insufferable misogynist bloviation of two straight cis dudes, objectifying all the female characters in the most blatant, unoriginal, and uninteresting ways possible. I mean, seriously — one of the robots, Kiyoko, is so objectified that she has no language, thus making her the ultimate silent, submissive, docile Asian woman stereotype. The last third of the movie contains the supposedly narratively inevitable consequences of their assholery, in which the women become scary and murder the dudes. Then all the women of color either die or sacrifice themselves so that the white woman can escape to her dreams of white-collar big-city life, and it’s all so tedious and sludgy and dull…except for the hotel where it was filmed. That was pretty. But aesthetically pleasing scenery cannot compensate for raging misogyny and racism.

This enraged critique of Ex Machina owes much to Sharon Chang’s incisive analysis, which goes into much more depth.

EDIT: And here’s a perfect example of someone analyzing queer subtexts in Ex Machina and completely failing to call out the racism and sexism. Sorry, Jeffrey Bloomer. I really don’t think that a white woman reconstituting herself from the bodies of women of color is merely a moment of queer transformation that should be celebrated. It’s also a reification of an ongoing colonialist project that should be acknowledged and critiqued.

It’s “Let’s complain about Hot Toys!” time again.

It’s “Let’s complain about Hot Toys!” time again. published on No Comments on It’s “Let’s complain about Hot Toys!” time again.

Hot Toys has a real hard time doing likenesses of women, which makes me downgrade their vaunted verisimilitude. Who cares if they can do decent dudes if they can’t be arsed to bring the same accuracy and realism to their women?

Case in point: There’s something off about their attempt at Daisy Ridley as Rey. Pictures show that she has a squarer jaw, narrower face, narrower eyes, more angularity around her lips, and just overall more character. Also none of the pictures of the doll show her from the rear, so we can’t see if her hair has been accurately duplicated.

Meanwhile, over on the other branch of the family tree, I have no idea how the likeness of Adam Driver as Kylo Ren is because his mask won’t come off! [And we know how I feel about that… >_> ] I can understand Captain Phasma or your standard issue storm troopers with molded-on masks, but c’mon, HT — Darth Vader Jr. Jr. dispenses with the mask for key segments of the movie. In fact, I’d argue that the whole point of this character is the tension between the mask and the face underneath, but I guess the doll doesn’t have tension because he doesn’t even have a face. Did they just not want to do a portrait? Why not? Driver’s distinctive features would probably make for a really cool portrait.


Okay, guess we’ll have to wait to see who they reissue for the sequel and the sequel to the sequel.  It is my fond hope that Captain Phasma starts running around without her helmet on and maybe even has a last, desperate, sweaty, maskless duel [like Rey and Kylo] so we can get a doll of her with an actual face. If she doesn’t, I’m at least holding out for her continual treatment as a non-sexualized individual and eventual survival — she already has to deal with enough crap as the token Nazi Empire woman with any significant lines. I do not want her to end up like Irina Spalko in Indiana Jones and the Unnecessarily Confusing Jump Cuts. [Seriously, could anyone follow the chase scenes in that movie?] If the choice ends up being between a) permanent masked badassery and b) unmasked sexualization [which it probably will end up being], I vote for a).


Okay, well, I guess I had more feelings about that than I expected. :p

Robert Dear, domestic terrorist and “gentle loner”

Robert Dear, domestic terrorist and “gentle loner” published on No Comments on Robert Dear, domestic terrorist and “gentle loner”

I’m really late to the party here, but I see that a New York Times article described Planned Parenthood terrorist Robert Dear as “a gentle loner who occasionally unleashed violent acts toward neighbors and women he knew.” After criticism online from numerous sources pointing out that this was basically white straight cis male apologism [especially when black male victims of white male violence receive vilification when described posthumously — hat tip to Chaedria LaBouvier], the NYT made some cosmetic changes to the article, but, to date, has made no direct acknowledgment of the multiple levels of bullshit involved in its portrayal of Dear. This reminds me of the 2012 coverage of the death of Lorena Escalera, trans woman of color, wherein the NYT’s confluence of racism, sexism, classism, and transmisogyny led me to cancel my subscription.

I think I’m going to start writing like the NYT.  In fact, I’m now going to characterize the paper itself as “an objective, trustworthy, fair-minded, egalitarian news source that occasionally unleashes bigotry toward anyone who’s not a straight white cis bourgeois male.” That’s accurate, right? :p

Just in case the article isn’t enough of a cesspool already, two other threads in it piss me off. First, there’s the strong assumption that anyone who lives by themselves, doesn’t socialize much with the locals, and keeps mostly to themselves is automatically up to no good. They must be like that because they’re hiding skeletons in their closet.

Second, there’s the strong implication that Dear’s interest in bdsm correlates to his recent murders. In the sixth paragraph of the profile, the topic sentence discusses “sporadic brushes with the law, neighbors, and relatives,” while the last sentence notes that Dear looked for bdsm partners online. The position of the sentence about Dear’s online profile thus groups it in with “brushes with the law,” suggesting that kinky sex and domestic terrorism are on a continuum. Apparently the slippery slope argument is alive and well in supposedly reputable news sources.


I’m really surprised that there’s nothing in this profile proposing that Dear is mentally ill and that his mental illness correlates to his criminality.



“I’m a blond bimbo girl / In a fantasy world…”

“I’m a blond bimbo girl / In a fantasy world…” published on No Comments on “I’m a blond bimbo girl / In a fantasy world…”

I didn’t really know the lyrics to Aqua’s dance hit Barbie Girl until today when I watched the video. Both the lyrics and the video crack me up. I love the way that the main verses make repeated obvious reference to sexual activities, like undressing, kissing, touching, even blatant “hanky panky,” but the chorus insists that Barbie and Ken’s main activity is partying. Yeah right…the video demonstrates that Rene Dif’s Ken is trying to get into Lene Nystrom’s Barbie’s pants.

I also like Nystrom’s delivery. She sings in a simpering falsetto that accentuates the non-sexual aspect of all the proposed activities. In fact, her Barbie seems more interested in stereotypes of romantic love [“You can touch / You can play / If you say / I’m always yours”] and has very little awareness of the double entendres of her lines. The closest she comes is when she says, “I can act like a star / I can beg on my knees,” whereupon she looks over her sunglasses with an expression that could possibly be knowing or conspiratorial if her character weren’t so blithely uninterested in sexual objectification for the rest of the video. Ken’s the one rolling his eyes and winking at the audience, while Barbie is busy petting the dog, roller skating, and thinking of true love. She’s illustrating the interpretation of doll qua child’s toy, and he’s illustrating doll qua sex toy. Of course, the whole song’s constant emphasis on contrafactuality [“Imagination / Life is your creation,” “…In a fantasy world,” “I can act like a star”] points out that both concepts of dolls are overheated stereotypes created by heterosexual dudes who are not interested in relating to actual, real, complex women, so it’s a sly critique masquerading as a poppy dance hit.

I like smart songs about dolls! 



It came from the time warp: thoughts on Fox’s redo of The Rocky Horror Picture Show movie

It came from the time warp: thoughts on Fox’s redo of The Rocky Horror Picture Show movie published on No Comments on It came from the time warp: thoughts on Fox’s redo of The Rocky Horror Picture Show movie

Two thoughts: 1) Don’t do it in the first place.

2) If you do do it, do not cast Laverne Cox, a trans woman of color, as Frank, a role intimately associated with Tim Curry, white cis dude, because that makes some really problematic, sexist, transmisogynist equations between the identity of the person who plays the role [trans woman of color] and the hammy, draggy, stereotypically polymorphous perversion evinced by the character. Ultimately Frank ends up as the object of the movie’s jokes, scorn, and derision; plus he gets killed off. I fail to see anything progressive or revisionist in a trans woman of color playing a character whose objectification and murder make me think of all the trans women of color who fall victim each year to the incoherent “trans panic” bullshit.

Caelyn Sandel goes into some incisive detail on the subject on the Mary Sue.


Why does capitalism have such a rigid fetish for reactivating the dead past so it can lurch around in contextless, blunderful fashion, reopening old wounds and creating new ones by sheer virtue of anachronism?

Cool robots don’t compensate for incoherent misogyny.

Cool robots don’t compensate for incoherent misogyny. published on No Comments on Cool robots don’t compensate for incoherent misogyny.

Tears of Steel, the Blender Foundation’s 2012 crowdfunded movie short done all in Blender, stinks. According to the premise, a dude who “just wants to be awesome in space” [Horrible Line #1] breaks up with a woman because he “won’t admit that he’s freaked out by her robot hand” [Horrible Line #2].

Forty years later, this rejection leads to an infestation of misanthropic killer robots. Humans are trying to brainwash the robots with a re-enactment of a more compassionate departure of Horrible Line #1 from Horrible Line #2.

The only reason I know this is because I read a plot summary online. I sure didn’t get any of that from the flat, atonal acting or the incoherent script. All I got was that women are irrational hysterics who are going to destroy the human race, but somehow an appropriate performance of heteronormativity is going to save it.

If you’re trying to establish a reliable system of parental relations…

If you’re trying to establish a reliable system of parental relations… published on No Comments on If you’re trying to establish a reliable system of parental relations…

…Patriliny is really not the way to go. I mean, seriously. For most of human history, we could not make absolutely certain who the biological father of a particular child was. However, the fact that biological mothers very frequently bear biologically related children made it pretty apparent that a certain mother was the biological parent of a certain child. Yes, I understand that now this connection is complicated by sperm donation, egg donation, surrogate parenting, etc., etc., but, for much of human history, you could pretty much depend on a biological relationship between a kid and the person out of whose body the kid was born.


If we used matriliny instead of patriliny, our current standards of reproductive control would make no sense. We wouldn’t necessarily want to police the behavior of childbearing people, girls, and women in general. We’d probably think that their reproductive experiences were open and honest, in comparison to the hidden — and quite possibly sneaky — actions of people with sperm, boys, and men in general. In fact, I can easily envision a deep distrust and disdain for people with sperm, based mostly on the fact that the results of their reproductive experiences are not necessarily obvious. To go even further, I could conjecture that this contempt for people with sperm would probably develop from a time during which the matrilineal people believed that childbearing people just had babies spontaneously and people with sperm didn’t have anything to do with it.


That would be a reversal from our current, actual attitudes toward childbearing people and people with sperm, and don’t for a minute think it would be any sort of improvement!



“Sexiness” vs. actual sexiness

“Sexiness” vs. actual sexiness published on No Comments on “Sexiness” vs. actual sexiness

Jareth illustrates the aforementioned finger-in-mouth pose deemed alluring by so many advertisements of digital content. In case you haven’t noticed, he’s very sarcastic. :p

Continue reading “Sexiness” vs. actual sexiness

Baffling fashion poses for digital content

Baffling fashion poses for digital content published on No Comments on Baffling fashion poses for digital content

When I look at promo pictures for digital content on the Daz or Renderosity sites, I have to ask myself: What the heck is up with all the women sticking their fingers in or near their mouths? The parted lips, as if their mouths have just drifted open, the partly closed and unfocused eyes, the FINGER IN THE MOUTH AARRRRRGH… I think it’s supposed to evoke blow jobs, but it all combines to create an atmosphere of awkward absentmindedness.


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“When Women Become Men at Wellesley” stinks.

“When Women Become Men at Wellesley” stinks. published on No Comments on “When Women Become Men at Wellesley” stinks.

Yet again, the New York Times writes about trans male students at women’s colleges like Wellesley. And yet again the article reeks of false attempts at even-handedness that really demonstrate the paper’s absolute cluelessness about writing about trans people.

The headline alone has problems. God forbid the NYT just title the article something straightforward like "Controversy over Trans Male Students at Women’s Colleges." Nope, instead they resort to Ye Olde Binarie Termes that sensationalize the lives of the trans male students as strange voyages across gender and, incidentally, reinforce the supposed male/female dichotomy by not even using the adjective "trans" to describe the students.

As I read the article, in which many present and past students, as well as faculty, decried the presence of trans male students on campus as a detriment to "sisterhood," I got the sense that the NYT sympathized with them. For example, a [cis male] professor, commenting on being asked to make his examples and pronouns more inclusive, is quoted as saying, "“All my life here, … I’ve been compelled to use the female pronoun more generously to get away from the sexist ‘he.’ I think it’s important to evoke the idea that women are part of humanity." Like many antitrans people cited in the story, he perceives equality and respect as a zero-sum game in which he cannot respect trans male students by using inclusive language because that would somehow diminish the "humanity" of the cis female students. The article itself supports this incredulous, contemptuous point of view when it claims that trans students receive "disproportionate attention" on campus. Darn minorities — how dare they agitate for equal rights? They should shut up and go away.

The NYT literally has no clue about how to write about trans people, and it even admits this. The article itself closes by saying, "…[I]t’s difficult to distinguish in the cacophony each of the words shouted atop one another. What is clear is that whatever word each person is hollering is immensely significant as a proclamation of existence, even if it’s hard to make out what anyone else is saying." Despite the acknowledgment that "a proclamation of existence" should be respected, the comparison of this controversy to an unintelligible "cacophony" reminds me of the scornful ways in which U.S. citizens refer to speakers of foreign languages. When one of the most respected and influential news publications in the country basically goes, "What you’re saying is too complicated so LAH LAH LAH I CAN’T HEAR YOOOOOU!!!" we clearly have a problem, and it’s not the "trans question." It’s the "cis question," as in, "Why don’t cis people think of trans people as fellow human beings worthy of dignity and respect?"

P.S. The controversy over trans male students at women’s colleges becomes more problematic when one realizes that trans female students do not figure into this uproar at all. The people interviewed seem ardently convinced that there are no trans woman whatsoever on their campuses. I suspect, however, that they do exist, but they are probably keeping their heads down in fear of being hit by collateral damage from the arguments about the presence of trans male students. The rather disingenuous and transmisogynist erasure of trans female students makes me wonder if the cis resistance here comes largely from reactionary, unexamined transphobia.

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Rocky Horror and transmisogyny

Rocky Horror and transmisogyny published on No Comments on Rocky Horror and transmisogyny

John Tumblred [Tumbld?] this yesterday about transmisogyny in Rocky Horror, which got me thinking. The original post focuses on the terminology as a source of transmisogyny, but the whole portrayal of Frank as a literally unhinged debasement of stereotypical painted femininity also reeks of transmisogyny. For example, there’s a part in Sword of Damocles where Rocky receives admiration from all the partygoers, which pisses Frank off because Rocky is eluding his control. He chases after Rocky, warbling his name, tripping up in his high heels and kind of running into the wall in melodramatic distress. Even though I didn’t identify this particular instant as transmisogynistic when I first saw it, I remember saying to myself, "He wouldn’t do that — he’s a flamboyant control freak, not a sniveling mess. I’m taking this character seriously — why isn’t the movie?" Well, okay, the response was less coherent than that; it was more like, "Why is he bouncing off the walls? That doesn’t fit." Now, a decade and a half [!] later, I can finally call out some of the rank bigotry at work here. Blarf.

Thinking about RHPS always gets me thinking about Mad Mazzy Mickle Goes Looking for Love, which, I reason, has its own problematic elements that I just haven’t thought up yet. Hmmm, let’s see: racism [two characters of color only], stereotypes about bisexuals [sexually voracious, attracted to everyone], disparagement of traditional femininity [characters not into car-related activities coded butch are looked down upon].

Peter: "It’s a cesspool of noxious stereotypes."

Isabel: "But I love it! It changed my life. I came out to the soundtrack!"

Peter: "Me too. But it’s still a cesspool."

Well, clearly, Isabel and Peter connect over their shared interest in this movie, though Peter examines it much more critically than she does. Wonder if I could work a Mazzy reference — and thus conversation — into their initial meeting, which does, after all, involve a car crash, and Mazzy’s all about souped-up drag racers [har!], so there’s the hook.

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Just in case you doubted the racism and sexism driving the world of 3D content…

Just in case you doubted the racism and sexism driving the world of 3D content… published on No Comments on Just in case you doubted the racism and sexism driving the world of 3D content…

…check out the E-mail that landed in my box yesterday. For context, Daz produces digital models and ancillary content; one of their most popular characters is Aiko, a model with manga-inspired proportions and appearance [who, I might add, grows less manga-like and more realistic with each iteration 🙁 ]. The latest version, Aiko 6, debuted recently, and so has new content for her. Daz also recently released Lee 6, "an Asian-inspired character for Genesis 2 Male(s)" [their words, not mine], so content for this character has been appearing as well.

Continue reading Just in case you doubted the racism and sexism driving the world of 3D content…

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.


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Degendering romantic behavior in Queen songs

Degendering romantic behavior in Queen songs published on No Comments on Degendering romantic behavior in Queen songs

I’ve been listening to Classic Queen on heavy rotation for the past few days. After grossing out about my favorite songs with stalking in them, I am pleased to note that, at least on this album, Queen avoids that trope. In fact, their lyrics even bend the gendered norms in some cases, describing romantic experiences of one gender in terms usually reserved for another.

Example 1: One Year of Love. The singer says, “It’s always a rainy day without you / I’m a prisoner of love inside you / I’m falling apart all around you / And all I can do is surrender to your love.” Assuming that this is a man singing to a woman [hooray for heteronormativity -_- ], this is very unusual language for the masculine narrator. The typical masculine experience of love involves pursuit, penetration and conquering. The singer, however, describes imprisonment, dissolution and submission — traits much more commonly associated with the feminine experience of love.

Example 2: Tie Your Mother Down. At the end of the song, after urging the listener to get her family members out of the way so that she and the singer can screw, the singer says, “Give me all your love tonight / Give me every inch of your love.” In the vast majority of rock songs sung by dudes, if there’s “love” with any dimensions associated, it just means “penis.” [See Not Fade Away by Buddy Holly: “My love’s penis is bigger than a Cadillac / I try to show it, but you drive me back.” Just stop stalking her already!] Therefore the attribution of a quantified love to the singer’s addressee [presumed female] is unusual. The feminine action of loving is described in more masculine terms. I have no grand conclusion, especially not based on these two examples, but they sure make me like Queen even more!

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Oh, Sleepy Hollow. You are so stupid.

Oh, Sleepy Hollow. You are so stupid. published on 1 Comment on Oh, Sleepy Hollow. You are so stupid.

Just watched the pilot for Fox’s new Sleepy Hollow, which involves Ichabod Crane pulling a Rip Van Winkle, sleeping for 250 years, then teaming up with a WOC police lieutenant, Abby Mills, to stop the Headless Horseman, one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. [Previous comments on the trailer here.]

I don’t know where to start on the stupidity, so I’ll just make a list of things that pissed me off, in no particular order:

  • When discussing slavery with Abby, Ichabod gets all huffy and says that he was an early abolitionist. Abby says that slavery has been abolished for 150 years, and Ichabod remarks, “Yet here I am in shackles [= handcuffs].” His defensive comment about his progressive abolitionism and his turning of the entire history of enslaved Africans into a comment on his momentarily restrained state both serve as a perfect example of privileged white people appropriating the marginalization of oppressed people for their own whiny rhetorical purposes.
  • No one seems particularly fussed about Ichabod’s claim that he was alive during the Revolutionary War. The dude giving Ichabod the polygraph test [hi there, Nestor Serrano — nice to see you!] listens to Ichabod’s comments about “the American colonies,” “the Revolution” and “General Washington” and, noting that none of these trigger the polygraph, therefore instantly concludes that Ichabod is from 250 years in the past. Or, you know, he could be a) drugged, b) delusional, c) lying, d) several of the above. A, B, C and D represent much more logical conclusions than a 250-year sleep, but this show clearly demonstrates that it has no use for logic.
  • Ichabod’s wife, Katrina, was burnt at the stake as a witch shortly after the Revolution. This inaccurate bit of backstory, along with the egregiously stupid detail that witches were burnt in Sleepy Hollow up through the 1830s, makes me want to throw things at the TV. Nobody was killed for witchcraft around here after the Salem Witchcraft Trials in 1692, and no one was ever burned at the stake for witchcraft in this country. I can’t stand it when ignorant people try to drag witchcraft trials into centuries where they don’t belong.
  • Abby, like most female protagonists in police procedurals, is an Exceptional Woman with no family, no friends, no colleagues and no support system. Her mentor, Sheriff I-Forget-His-Name, is decapitated within the first third of the pilot. Apparently she grew up in Sleepy Hollow, as she mentions a supernatural experience she had in town with her sister in high school, but we never hear about any family or friends she might have in the area. Characterized as a mentally ill failure who bounces in and out of institutions, Abby’s sister is dismissed by the plot as a useless, unreliable failure. The story thus sets Abby up as isolated and in a perfect position to become dependent on Ichabod, the only person who believes her. I bet they’re going to pair off and fall in love VOMIT VOMIT VOMIT.
  • On a related note, Sleepy Hollow is apparently a single-sex town. The only woman besides Abby with more than two lines is Katrina, a dead damsel in distress who needs Ichabod’s help to be liberated from a dreamland where the antagonists have imprisoned her.
  • As the pilot starts, Abby plans to leave her Sleepy Hollow job for the FBI in a week. She really wants to go, and she claims that she does not want to mess up this opportunity. Her actions, however, tell a different story. Throughout the pilot, she defies her captain’s orders: interrogating Ichabod, bringing him to a crime scene, releasing him from the mental institution under false pretenses, snooping in the sheriff’s office, etc., etc., etc. The captain responds by talking tough and then doing absolutely nothing about Abby’s infractions. At first, I hoped that his de facto leniency would lead to a rare instance in which a police department actually supports a TV character’s investigation of supernatural phenomena, but nah. It’s just sloppy writing, in yet another pointless sacrifice of logic.
  • Could the show have picked a more boring villain? The Four Horsemen are a fine choice, but the show really hampers itself with the decision to amputate the head of one of them. The Headless Horseman literally has no expression, which means he just stomps around, either axing things or shooting things. If the showrunners wanted to show a modicum of inventiveness, they could have employed body language to communicate personality: a raised fist when victory seems imminent, a jaunty twirl of the axe after a successful kill, even an alteration of the gait depending on the circumstances. But no, the Headless Horseman just plods around, hacking things. Booooooooorrrrrrriiiiiiing.
  • The show commits the unforgivable crime of bringing in John Cho to play one of Abby’s fellow officers and a secret agent on the side of the Horseman…and then killing him off at the end of the pilot. This is a multipart offense, consisting of a) gratuitous bumping off of a POC, b) lost opportunity for a cool storyline in which Abby and Ichabod’s efforts are thwarted internally by pro-Horseman forces on the force and c) horrible waste of a talented actor.

So there you go…racism, historical inaccuracy, illogical plot holes, lazy sexist characterization, dull antagonists and more racism. Awesome!

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Ravishing Rachel Life Size Sculpture from Design Toscano

Ravishing Rachel Life Size Sculpture from Design Toscano published on No Comments on Ravishing Rachel Life Size Sculpture from Design Toscano

I kind of pity the copywriters for Design Toscano. They have to make all that tacky shit sound alluring and justifiably high-priced. Look DT — you either want things like a suit of armor t.p. holder or you don’t. You’re preaching to the choir. Don’t waste your limited stock of two-bit adjectives on us.

Take, for example, a sentence from their copy for Ravishing Rachel [who’s in the Sexy Temptresses category, along with the ass-flaunting Temptress Witch Christmas Ornament]:

"Cast in quality designer resin, this large-scale, display-quality indoor sculpture transforms any home bar, entertainment area or recreation room into something truly magnificent!"

"Quality designer resin": as opposed, I guess, to all that shitty, no-name resin that floods the market these days?

"Large-scale": Isn’t that redundant, given that the title indicates that it’s "Life Size"?

"Display-quality": Seriously…why would you buy a Technicolor rendition of a very stiff, cartoony woman flashing her tits if not to display it?

"Transforms any home bar, entertainment area or recreation room": So you’re admitting that your target consumers for these are sleazy misogynist straight white cis dudes who throw around obscene sums of money in an attempt to compensate for their utter lack of redeeming traits? Superb! I’ll take 10!!!

"Truly magnficent": I don’t think that is the word you’re looking for. May I humbly suggest "alarming"?

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Advice column: “Saddest Song, Smallest Violin” version

Advice column: “Saddest Song, Smallest Violin” version published on No Comments on Advice column: “Saddest Song, Smallest Violin” version

Bah hah hah hah hah! 

In answer to someone who is extremely bothered by the fact that their wife enthusiastically enjoys YA fiction: "Gift her a nice Franzen box set, a fresh copy of Infinite Jest or the complete works of Dave Eggers, so that she may better learn to center her recreational reading around fictional middle-aged white men instead of fictional people who aren’t as important and interesting as they are."

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

“Science” “proves” “women” “like” “men” with bigger “penises.”

“Science” “proves” “women” “like” “men” with bigger “penises.” published on No Comments on “Science” “proves” “women” “like” “men” with bigger “penises.”

 NBC is covering the story! Bullshit ahoy!

I don’t have the energy to parse this right now, but I do have to say that my favorite quote is this:

…Women may be looking for orgasms, which, in turn, Mautz suggested, may serve a pair-bonding function. In the recent book, The Chemistry Between Us: Love, Sex and the Science of Attraction Bullshit Topped with Bullshit with Bullshit a la Mode for Dessert (which I co-authored crapped out of my ass), Emory University neuroscientist Larry Young argues that the big human penis evolved into a tool meant to stimulate both the vagina and cervix as a way [to] trigger the release of oxytocin in a woman’s brain, activating bonding circuits. 

BONERZ = WUV. It’s science, dipsticks!

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

WTF, U2?

WTF, U2? published on 2 Comments on WTF, U2?

You’re nice to listen to on occasion, despite your sick views of heterosexual love, but sometimes I really don’t get you. For example, in So Cruel, you sing:

Oh love, like a screaming flower
Love, dying every hour

Seriously? What does that even mean? I assume you’re talking about Bob the Angry Flower, but that really doesn’t make much sense.

…Oh. I get it. You just wanted something to rhyme with “hour,” didn’t you?


Have I mentioned that I loathe public proposals?

Have I mentioned that I loathe public proposals? published on 1 Comment on Have I mentioned that I loathe public proposals?

Warning: Coercion, disregard for autonomy, objectification, misogyny, etc., etc., etc.

I just read about yet another one in Slate, wherein technology columnist for the New York Times David Pogue made a fake movie trailer about his relationship with his girlfriend. Then, as the Slate columnist L.V. Anderson writes,

"In case you don’t have the inclination to watch the video: He produced a five-minute movie trailer for a fake romantic comedy based on his relationship with Dugan (starring two good-looking Broadway actors in the lead roles), which he convinced a movie theater to play for Dugan (and all of their families, plus some unwitting strangers) before a feature-length film. He hid three cameras around Dugan’s seat before she sat down so that he could record her reaction. At the end of the trailer, he led her to the front of the theater, gave a short speech about how wonderful she was, and asked her to marry him."

Longer coverage [and the horrible video] here:

So, not only was it a public proposal, but it was a secretly recorded public proposal. She was under SURVEILLANCE. Even ickier, as Anderson points out,

"Pogue timed the filming of his faux trailer in such a way that Dugan had to say yes in the span of about two seconds, or else the trailer would stop making sense. (He’d humbly pre-recorded a jubilant celebration.) "

There…the subtext has become the text. Pogue [and, by extension, all of the other guys who engage in this public proposal crapola] expects his fiancee to agree. At the same time, with Pogue's proposal, as with others, the assent from the fiancee is actually irrelevant. As the rigid structure of Pogue's fake trailer demonstrates, it's all about the happy day of the one who proposes. The expectation of the fiancee's yes gives her no room to say anything else. The show must go on! Let's have a party, for the guy has just acquired a new accessory [=wife]!

Ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh.

Grimm: now with even MORE stupidity, misogyny, rape apologism and classism!

Grimm: now with even MORE stupidity, misogyny, rape apologism and classism! published on 1 Comment on Grimm: now with even MORE stupidity, misogyny, rape apologism and classism!

Grimm is back for a second season, and it's still incredibly stupid. The latest episode, Bad Moon Rising, follows our protagonist, police detective Nick, as he chases a gang of coyote Wesen [= therianthropes]. The gang leader kidnaps his teenaged niece, Carlie, who, along with her parents, left the pack when she was very young. The gang leader plans to rape Carlie, as is apparently customary for coyote Wesen to increase the numbers of their pack.

Continue reading Grimm: now with even MORE stupidity, misogyny, rape apologism and classism!

Let’s play a game.

Let’s play a game. published on No Comments on Let’s play a game.

I’ll say a phrase, and you tell me the first words that come to your mind.

Okay? Ready? Here we go:

“Lesbian vampire erotica.”

Continue reading Let’s play a game.

In which the author yells at books and they do not respond

In which the author yells at books and they do not respond published on 2 Comments on In which the author yells at books and they do not respond

Hey kids! Are you ready for your daily dose of outrage?

You are? Well let’s get crackin’!

I just read Cunt: A Declaration of Independence by Inga Muscio. More precisely, I tried to read it, but ended up throwing it against the wall in disgust about 50 pages in.

Ostensibly, the book is a feminist reclamation of the word “cunt,” which apparently amounts to a long discussion of how wonderful uteruses, Fallopian tubes, ovaries, eggs, menstruation and all associated hydraulics are. I don’t object to the concept — we need more appreciation of these long-devalued body parts — but I object strenuously to the execution.

Muscio insists that all women have cunts. Yes, she actually writes that. I promptly yelled at the book, “NO THEY DON’T!!!!!!!” but this did not alter her erroneous assumption. Apparently all the women I know who don’t have cunts aren’t women??!?!?!?!?!?!? Keep your essentialist claptrap to yourself, Muscio.

In one of the book’s early chapters, Muscio talks about her childhood in which she was shamed and characterized as unclean for menstruating. She then recounts her reacquaintance with her reproductive system, her determination of her own reproductive schedule and her switch from “feminine hygiene products” to sea sponges and rags. There is also a huge tangent about the ocean and the moon and how this somehow relates to fertility [hint: it doesn’t]. Yay hooray, she liberated her reproductive system, and she feels good about it.

The problem arises when Muscio prescribes her reproductive liberation program for all women. First of all, as I mentioned before, not all women have the same biology. Second, even if they do have the aforementioned long-devalued body parts, they don’t all menstruate. Third, if they do menstruate, they don’t necessarily do it on a regular schedule the way that Muscio apparently does. [“Fun” experiment: try figuring out your menstrual “schedule” if you have PCOS!] Fourth, the ocean and the moon have nothing whatsoever to do with menstruation. Fifth, some of us have slightly more complex relationships to our bodies than “Ick, I’m disgusting; the patriarchy has oppressed me!” then transforming into “My womanhood is wonderful!” However, Muscio presents her experience as the sole option, thereby foreclosing on the full and varied range of experiences that a full and varied range of women have in their bodies.

This is not feminism. This is simplistic, biologically reductionist bilge in complete denial of multiple axes of oppression.

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.

The Sonja Blue trilogy by Nancy Collins: damn…this series is misogynist!

The Sonja Blue trilogy by Nancy Collins: damn…this series is misogynist! published on No Comments on The Sonja Blue trilogy by Nancy Collins: damn…this series is misogynist!

A while back, when I still lived in Massachusetts, I was housesitting overnight at someone's house. I found some cheap paperbacks by Nancy Collins there — Sunglasses After Dark and In the Blood — and read them quickly, staying up late. They followed the adventures of Sonja Blue, a reluctant vampire trying to suppress her monstrous nature, which she termed "the Other," while also taking vengeance on her maker and ridding the world of supernatural menaces along the way. Back before urban fantasy devolved into a set of cliches, this trilogy [capped by Paint It Black] entertained me and made an impression on me in the way that Sonja's vampirism was portrayed as an alien entity in her head against which she struggled.

Harboring happy memories of this trilogy, I recently got all 3 books off and settled in for a bit of fun. I quickly realized that the Sonja Blue series is a) full of cliches [not urban fantasy cliches, but cliches in general] and b) horribly misogynist.

Speaking of a), I don't even know where to start. All the characters are stock types, and they all speak exactly as expected. For example, the British pimp spews a debased version of Cockney slang ["ducks?" "guv'nor?!"] dreamt up by someone whose experience with the British idiom extends to a single viewing of Disney's Mary Poppins. The oleaginous evil dude makes a suave proposal to our male protagonist of In The Blood that's all ominous inneundo and silly euphemisms. I could go on, but I'd exhaust myself in listing the ways in which the characterization is lazy.

Speaking of b), the series doesn't come right out and hate women blatantly, but it does so in more insidious, structural ways. Sonja moves in a world where most of the people she meets are men, while the women are usually reduced to sexualized window dressing. The one exception, her main antagonist in Sunglasses After Dark, Caroline Wheele, is defined as the widow of a charismatic evangelist [she killed him] for whom, with her psychic talents, she was the power behind the throne. When Caroline dies, the spirits of her victims pull her to pieces, reducing her to an insensate object in the very way that the author reduces all female characters.

The trilogy apparently really hates sex too. Any sex scene is one of transactional exploitation, without any appreciation or emotional connection. Sexual and psychic violation forge both Sonja's and Caroline's personalities, and they go on to perpetrate the same abuses on others. Actually, now that I think about it, there's almost no sex acts in the trilogy. It's all rape, all the time. Anyone whose perspective automatically makes sex an abuse of power has a serious problem. Of course, the trilogy's hatred for sex ends up being a hatred for women, since all the women are reduced to sex objects.

Finally, Sonja herself is constructed as a misogynist character. She doesn't hate — or at least tolerates — male characters, with whom she occasionally forms mutually beneficial relationships. But she really doesn't like other women. At best, she feels comtempt for them, at worst, as with Caroline, hatred. Furthermore, Sonja is that most tedious of types, the Exceptional Woman [see my criticism of Brave for details], whose value only lies in her repudiation of her status as a woman and her embrace of pursuits and skills coded as masculine. Blah blah blah yuck.

I'm finishing this trilogy, and then I'm getting rid of it.

A strange concept of Military Fun: Phicen’s 1:6 femfig of the same name

A strange concept of Military Fun: Phicen’s 1:6 femfig of the same name published on No Comments on A strange concept of Military Fun: Phicen’s 1:6 femfig of the same name

Phicen is a maker of 1:6 female action figures and clothing, known for their "seamless" body, in which most of the articulation hides underneath a flexible skin. They are currently selling a figure called Military Fun which proves, without a doubt, that their designers have weird senses of humor.

Military Fun, shown here on Phicen's company site, consists of a seamless Caucasian female figure body with a blond headsculpt that looks vaguely like Scarlett Johansson. Her brown tube top and miniskirt are apparently too small to contain her white underwear. She also has thigh-high, lace-up, bright green boots and a trench coat that matches her top and skirt. Nothing about this get-up screams "Military!" to me, much less "Fun!"

A quick glance at Phicen's other products shows that their target audience likes pretty faces, long hair, big boobs, realistic poseability, revealing outfits and extremely high heels.

Okay, I can play this game.

Here's my concept for a surefire bestselling Military Fun: headsculpt with noted similarity to current actress of the moment, long hair, seamless body with extra large bust and standard poseability, camo midriff-baring low-cut bolero top, camo short shorts, thigh-high green fishnets, big stompy black leather boots, some sort of hat, goggles [because goggles are cool], fingerless gloved hands AND LOTS OF GUNS. Or maybe just ONE BIG GUN, like a Gatling assault cannon, or whatever the hell Cy Girl Destiny's big honkin' piece was. Maybe some grenades and bombs too. Don't forget the harnesses and holsters! There — instant sell-out!

See — I know my audience! :p

That being said, I find Military Fun hilarious, which is why I purchased her. [Also she was only $60.00 at SithLord MacGyver's, and when was the last time you got a complete figure with painted, haired head, body, alternative hands, clothes and shoes/bootfeet for <$90.00? No, you old farts, I'm not talking about the glory days of the early millennium when you could buy Cy Girls for $30.00. I'm talking about modern times.] And I like her head…and her long green boots.

I haven't purchased a new 1:6 action figure in YEARS. This'll be my first Phicen and first seamless body too. I'll definitely report back when I get her!

Brave again

Brave again published on 5 Comments on Brave again

I previously pronounced Pixar’s upcoming Brave as bilge. I stand by that statement, despite the awesomeness of the protagonist’s hair.

Remind me against why I’m supposed to be excited about a headstrong princess defying restrictive standards of femininity and charting her own destiny, thus proving that she’s just as good as a man? That trope just reinforces the idea that a female character with self-knowledge has to be an egregiously ass-kicking iconoclast in order to determine her own life. It’s a form of exceptionalism that dismisses the much more interesting [and common] stories of the ways that women create their own stories in more ambivalent, less flagrant fashion.

Pixar/Disney clearly thinks it’s so great for doing Brave, like they’re supposed to get feminist cookies for pushing tired stereotypes. This movie irritates me so much, and it’s not even out yet!

She’s passive-aggressive and he’s clueless! Perfect match!: sexism in The Muppets

She’s passive-aggressive and he’s clueless! Perfect match!: sexism in The Muppets published on No Comments on She’s passive-aggressive and he’s clueless! Perfect match!: sexism in The Muppets

We watched The Muppets last night. It was a pretty cute movie, with most of the humor at no one's expense, but I was continually bothered by the rampant sexism on display in the plot between the 2 human leads, Gary [Jason Segel] and Mary [Amy Adams].

Gary and Mary have been dating for 10 years, but they don't even live together. They're not engaged either. Mary wishes that Gary would propose to her, but he does not. In fact, their 10th anniversary trip to Los Angeles ends up including Gary's Muppet "brother," Walter, in spite of Mary's obvious displeasure. Gary constantly privileges adventures with Walter over adventures with Mary, who acquiesces by trying to put on a brave face. When Gary forgets his 10th anniversary dinner with Mary, Mary goes back home, leaving a note that addresses the source of her upset only obliquely: "Are you a man or a Muppet?" Gary follows Mary back home and proposes to her. She says yes, blah blah blah, whoop de doo.

This entire plot could have been avoided if Gary and Mary had just had one single solitary stinkin' conversation about their expectations and desires. On a deeper level, it also would have been a much shorter movie if Mary hadn't been trapped by expectations about feminine passivity. If she loved Gary so much and wanted to marry him, why didn't she propose to him years ago? Why does she suffer Gary's callous, clueless behavior in silence, without speaking up for herself? Why is Mary such a spineless, retrograde drip? Why is Gary such an inattentive, uncommunicative clod? Does anyone really think this relationship is going to work out?

My favorite character was '80's Robot.

On what planet…

On what planet… published on 4 Comments on On what planet…

…are this man's twee, self-congratulatory, crabby, misogynist, ageist, sizeist, arrogant ramblings relevant? He seems incredibly put out by the fact that he's NOT a fashion-designing brain in a tank. We get it. You loathe people [except for yourself] and think that human physicality is revoltingly icky. Now do us a favor and keep your venomous bile to yourself.

Weight loss for the bride to be

Weight loss for the bride to be published on No Comments on Weight loss for the bride to be

The New York Times has an article about women going on crash diets in preparation for their weddings. This, of course, represents nothing new or even unusual. It's still sad, frightening and self-hating, though. The women interviewed internalize a cultural hostility toward women and toward a diversity of body sizes, shapes and masses by literally cutting themselves down to a societally acceptable size. Like the horrible "giving away of the bride," which transfers ownership of the woman from her father to her husband, these wedding crash diets and other modern traditions for heterosexual marriages literally diminish participants and bodily reformat them into transactional currency to be objectified. "The greatest day of one's life," indeed.

P.S. Diets don't work anyway. At least 95% of people who diet gain the lost weight back.

P.P.S. Don't even get me started on how this article [along with so many other articles in the NYT that concern women, queers and trans folks] appears in the Style section. We're not good enough for the main paper?!

What the hell is this poop?

What the hell is this poop? published on 1 Comment on What the hell is this poop?

Via Shakesville, this “editorial” is not only sexist, misogynist and essentialist, but it’s also completely incoherent. This is my favorite sentence, primarily because it makes no sense:

Anyone serious about thinking through the role of women in today’s civilization is doing worthless work unless they take the controversies on the right hand in hand with the unsuccessfully suppressed tensions on the opposite side of the spectrum, where disagreements far more volatile in their profundity roil respectable liberalism.

How does bilge like this even get published?? This is some of the worst writing I’ve ever come across in my life, and I’ve seen some doozies.

Sexism on a customer service line

Sexism on a customer service line published on 4 Comments on Sexism on a customer service line

So today I called Dental Dental of Illinois' customer service hotline to try to find out which type of Delta Dental I had. One of the first questions that the rep asked me, even before my name or ID number, was, "Who's the holder of the policy, your husband?"

Let's break that down…

The rep knew nothing about me, not even my name or my ID number, no personal information, except for that I sounded stereotypically feminine. He therefore automatically assumed that:

a) I was a woman.

b) I was heterosexual.

c) I was married.

d) I did not have insurance under my own name.

I can understand assumption a), but were any of the others warranted? NO! What stupidity!

P.S. MY HUSBAND?!?!?!?!?!? What husband?

“One card is celebrating moms for all they do during the holidays.”

“One card is celebrating moms for all they do during the holidays.” published on 2 Comments on “One card is celebrating moms for all they do during the holidays.”

I just came across an outrageous online ad for Mastercard. It said that, if you sign up for this special, you can spend $200.00 online and get a $20.00 gift card. I have no objection to the particular promotion itself, but it's the framing of the promotion that enrages me. It's targeted explicitly toward moms, including the text in the subject line of my entry.

This ad assumes that…

1) Everyone viewing it does holiday [i.e., Xmas] shopping.

2) Those who do shop are mothers. Other people don't shop.

3) The best way to reward people for undergoing the aggravating, time-consuming, frequently stressful, often anxiety-producing business of shopping is to give them more money so they can do more shopping. That doesn't sound like a reward to me.

This ad just recapitulates the tired sexist trope that mothers are responsible not for a family's support or earning, but for a family's consumption and happiness [in the form of gifts]. The gift card that urges its recipients to spend $20.00 more than the $200.00 they already have, to mother more, to consume more, to do more for the holidays, to somehow be better mothers.

The kyriarchy is never satisfied. It denigrates women, but then expects them to achieve impossibly high standards of feminine "perfection." One can't win!

The boring Pregnancy Plot strikes again.

The boring Pregnancy Plot strikes again. published on 1 Comment on The boring Pregnancy Plot strikes again.

Bones is back [well, I finally got to watch the first ep of Season 7], and there's yet another Pregnancy Plot on the table. After suffering an entire season of Angela and Hodgins' heteronormative nesting behaviors in Season 6, we have to go through the same thing again with the 2 main characters, Bones and Booth. I say "the same thing again" because there's apparently only one way for mainstream pop culture, especially TV and movies in the US, to treat pregnancy.

  • No matter what the situation of the woman getting pregnant and the way that she gets pregnant, she always wants to go through with the pregnancy and have a child and raise it herself. Where are the miscarriages? Where are the adoptions? [Once Upon a Time, featuring Henry, Emma's son that was given for adoption shortly after birth, remains an exception to the rule.] Where are the abortions? Mainstream pop entertainment does not reflect the realities of so many pregnancies.
  • The attitudes of the prospective parents suddenly become suffused with gooey lovey-doveyness, confidence, starry-eyed idealism and happiness. I mean, God forbid that anyone feel hostile or ambivalent about the fetus! That's just not possible! That would destroy the unrealistic emphasis that TV has on pregnancy and childbirth being some sort of panacea for life's problems.
  • Pregnancy brings out the inner femininity of the pregnant woman and fulfills her. No matter how many successes and enjoyments the character has had in her life before becoming pregnant, the glorifying way in which pregnancy is haloed on TV makes all the other accomplishments and sources of joy insignificant in comparison. For some women, pregnancy may be the best thing they've ever done with their lives, but, if TV insists that every pregnant female character feel this way, then these shows are just reproducing boring, essentialist, reductionist stereotypes about what women can do and be.

Pregnancy Plots just instantly flatten out character depth and plot dynamism. Furthermore, their relentless heteronormativity makes me want to throw up. 

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!

General thoughts about Law and Order: SVU and its gross misrepresentations

General thoughts about Law and Order: SVU and its gross misrepresentations published on No Comments on General thoughts about Law and Order: SVU and its gross misrepresentations

The inaccuracies in SVU really both me, not just those about twins and trans people, but those regarding just about everyone in the known universe.

Continue reading General thoughts about Law and Order: SVU and its gross misrepresentations

“Vampires have overwhelmed pop culture because young straight women want to have sex with gay men.”

“Vampires have overwhelmed pop culture because young straight women want to have sex with gay men.” published on 6 Comments on “Vampires have overwhelmed pop culture because young straight women want to have sex with gay men.”

I didn’t say it. Stephen Marche says it in Esquire. He thinks that the recent spate of popular vampires represents not, oh, say, dangerous sensuality or suave seductiveness or something, but the desire of straight women to get into bed with gay men. He provides no actual evidence for his claim, other than noting that True Blood’s anti-vamp crowd ["God hates fangs!"] sounds a lot like the anti-gay crowd. In fact, not till the end of his blithering ramble does Marche reveal what may be his thesis:

And so vampires have appeared to help America process its newfound acceptance of what so many once thought strange or abnormal. Adam and Steve who live on your corner with their adorable little son and run a bakery? The transgendered man who gave birth to a healthy baby? The teenage girl who wishes that all boys could be vampires? All part of the luscious and terrifying magic of today’s sexual revolution.

Putrid gender politics in Brimstone

Putrid gender politics in Brimstone published on 2 Comments on Putrid gender politics in Brimstone

All righty, so I’ve been watching Brimstone. It’s a canceled show with John Glover [the awesome! also gay!] as the Devil goading on some guy with a fascinating nose. The guy is Ezekiel Stone, who went to hell for killing his wife’s rapist. Now back from hell, he has a second chance at life on earth if he can round up 113 escaped souls and shoot out their eyes, sending them back to hell. Continue reading Putrid gender politics in Brimstone

1:6 “sexy schoolgirl” Sarah Palin :(

1:6 “sexy schoolgirl” Sarah Palin :( published on 3 Comments on 1:6 “sexy schoolgirl” Sarah Palin :(

Herobuilders, home of right-wing wing-nut crappy action figures of political figures, offers a Sarah Palin doll in various outfits, such as a pantsuit, a sexy schoolgirl outfit and a leather superspy. It’s so offensively bad on all levels, from the virulent sexism and misogyny to the shoddy craftsmanship, cheap opportunism and associated ranting narrow-minded conservative bilge. I’m deeply offended as a woman, a liberal AND a doll dude.

Oh hey sexism against Palin! aka Salon is not progressive.

Oh hey sexism against Palin! aka Salon is not progressive. published on 2 Comments on Oh hey sexism against Palin! aka Salon is not progressive.

As illustration for a dipshitty article about "Mistress Palin," the dipshits at Salon added a dipshitty Photoshop of Palin dominating a moose, which is supposed to represent the country.Continue reading Oh hey sexism against Palin! aka Salon is not progressive.

More anti-Palin sexism

More anti-Palin sexism published on No Comments on More anti-Palin sexism

Oh joy, there’s more misogynistic goodness added to my SocIm post about anti-Palin sexism, including more heinous examples contributed by commenters. There’s enough material to criticize her on, including her anti-choice, pro-guns, anti-sex-end, pro-abstinence, politically corrupt, nepotistic wheeling and dealing. One’s sex is not a point of criticism, mockery or contention. Grow up, you stupid bigots! Man, I get so exhausted at societal stupidity sometimes. 

I hate Family Guy.

I hate Family Guy. published on No Comments on I hate Family Guy.

A post at Sociological Images about the gendering of sperm and egg in popular media got me thinking. I just saw the “brave little sperm” trope on an episode of Family Guy this Monday. Stewie, the hyper-intelligent, destructive, child genius, was celebrating his first birthday. He reminisced about his life in the womb and before, when he was apparently a tiny pilot in a sperm-shaped aircraft [see YouTube clip].

Stewie’s flashback showed him piloting his sperm ship toward the egg and firing at it in a scene reminiscent of the scene in Star Wars where Luke tries to explode the Death Star. He think thinks about being sucked in and “trapped” inside the egg. The relationship between sperm and egg is shown as adversarial, the egg evil, hungry and encompassing, not unlike a vagina dentata.

Of course, this flashback occurs in the context of a cartoon in which everything is supposed to be exaggerated and humorous. However, the fact remains that the humorous exaggeration is presented with gratuitous violence and misogyny. You might argue that violence and misogyny are part of Stewie’s character, which they are, but the flashback does not develop Stewie’s violence and misogyny in a way peculiar to his personality. Instead it just recycles wholesale a tired, sexist cliche about human reproduction.

And this is just one of many reasons that I hate Family Guy.


Wash. Post article: Twilight’s popularity proves that we are so over feminism.

Wash. Post article: Twilight’s popularity proves that we are so over feminism. published on 2 Comments on Wash. Post article: Twilight’s popularity proves that we are so over feminism.

Leonard Sax argues that the great popularity of the Twilight series among hetero women <25  constitutes proof that we should abandon the ridiculous feminist ideal that men and women should be treated equally. He says:

The fascination that romance holds for many girls is not a mere social construct; it derives from something deeper. 

And what is this “deeper” something? It’s an essentialized gender binary in which women are passive, cuddly and nurturing and men are aggressive, violent and death-dealing.

So basically his argument is that girls still like Twilight because they are biologically programmed to like it; ergo, feminism has failed.

The huge amount of interest in the Twilight books demonstrates only that romance is popular; it does not demonstrate the reasons behind the popularity. Sax’ conclusions of romance as biologically innate and feminism as a stupid failure represent unwarranted leaps of logic. In fact, I could just as easily argue that the popularity of the Twilight series rests on the culturally constructed assumptions that the target readers — hetero girls — are expected and environmentally conditioned to like romance. 

Some people should actually learn how to formulate coherent thoughts before they’re allowed to write for public consumption. :p

Bloodsucking Fiends: A Love Story, aka Chris Moore can’t write female characters worth shit.

Bloodsucking Fiends: A Love Story, aka Chris Moore can’t write female characters worth shit. published on 2 Comments on Bloodsucking Fiends: A Love Story, aka Chris Moore can’t write female characters worth shit.

So I finished Bloodsucking Fiends: A Love Story, which was grotesquely overrated, unfunny and generally stupid. It’s about a pretentious loser of a wannabe writer, Tommy, and his vampire girlfriend Jody. 

I cannot emphasize enough how dull and jejune this book is. All the characters are unironic, lazy stereotypes, from the gormless callow youth who somehow snags a sexy lady [Tommy], to the funny stoner coworkers, to the Wise Fool homeless man who helps to defeat the evil vampire [the Emperor], to the overbearing mother [Jody’s mom]. I get the feeling that Moore wants to coast on his supposedly witty writing, but he tries too hard to be funny, so both characters and joke come across as stale and desperate, rather than fresh.

Furthermore, Moore can’t write a convincing female character worth shit. Jody, who has the most interesting character arc as she learns how to be a vampire, has about as much personality as a paper bag. She doesn’t have an original thought in her head. For example, her first realization after she turns into a vampire is “I need a man.” I can think of many possible reactions — “I need medical care/answers/my friends/my family/my significant other/a drink/a shotgun/revenge/a nap/a moment to think/a cup of O positive/a way to calm down” — that would be believable responses to being vamped. “I need a man” is not one of them. “I need help and some sort of unquestioning stability; therefore I will exploit a lovestruck patsy” is conceivable, and it’s pretty clear that this is Jody’s plan, but “I need a man” is just a stupid false note. The only way “I need a man” would make sense is if women were dependent, weak, flaccid creatures without turgor pressure who needed men to provide life support and exoskeletons for them. Since they aren’t, Moore just reveals his limited understanding of what women think about. Boooooooring.

Up next: Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris because I like both vampires and mysteries.

Great show, but…

Great show, but… published on 2 Comments on Great show, but…

If you want to see a show driven by the power of all-around masterful performances married to a strong, character-driven storyline, check out American Gothic, now available at Hulu. It is an ensemble story of sweet Southern corruption in which forces both good and evil fight for control of a young boy’s soul.

On the good side there’s recent Yankee transplant Matt Crower, played with quiet self-possession by Jake Weber, who is such a dry and gentle character in Medium, haunted by his wife and child’s death in a DWI accident he caused. There’s also Gail Emory, investigative reporter, played by Paige Turco with brooding dignity reminiscent of Yancy Butler at her best, returning to town to look into her parents’ suspicious deaths 20 years ago. The boy himself, Caleb, is played by 10-year-old Lucas Black in a startingly intense performance [I love those little, low, dark eyebrows!] that’s pretty realistic for a TV depiction of a 10-year-old boy.

On the evil side there’s schoolteacher Serena Coombes, played with sexy, slimy relish by Brenda Bakke. And there’s Lucas Buck, played by Gary Cole, who is my latest favorite actor. I first noticed him as the Boss From Hell in Office Space, Lumberg, but here, in the starring role, he really gets to show how hellish he can be. As the classic devil, Buck’s character operates on fear, doing good things for people, then asking them to pay him back, or else they meet gory demises. He also has an unnerving habit of popping up whenever someone is thinking about disobeying him. He creates a black hole of influence that it seems impossible to escape from.

The cheesy special effects and fast-motion weather hammer this point home, but Cole’s eternally genial front really makes the character work. Even when he’s threatening you, Buck does so in a gentlemanly way, which makes his cruelty even more effective and insidious. Cole plays Buck with a certain broadness that comes from his comedic experience, but he also projects such charisma and power that Buck always remains a magnetic and menacing presence. It’s a magnificent performance.

Not a perfect show, by any means, American Gothic suffers from a dearth of fully fleshed female characters. While all of the male characters have multiple dimensions, the women remain kinda flat. Gail’s the Plucky Gumshoe archetype, and Merlyn, Caleb’s dead sister, is the Pure Moral Compass archetype. Tertiary characters are also problematic. In Damned If You Don’t, for example, Carter Bowen and family do a favor for Sheriff Buck, which entails letting an escaped con into their house. Said con goes after 15-year-old Poppy Bowen. Wife Etta Bowen ends up dead. I strongly objected to the way that Poppy was portrayed not by the con, but by the SHOW itself, as a Lolita-licious sex object.

For example, she was shown performing suggestive oral maneuvers on a Popsicle while squeezed into a porch swing with the con. The way in which this scene was shot suggested that Poppy was doing a preview blowjob on some food in an attempt to seduce the con.

Camera lingers in slow-mo here on Popsicle held by ex-con.

For another example, camera panned from her feet, up her legs, to her chest and head as she slowly entered the swimming hole, objectifying her in a way that, say, Gail is never objectified.

You should see how interested the camera gets when she starts hiking up her dress so she doesn’t get it wet.

In the end of the ep, it is revealed that it’s Etta that the con is after. So the pornographication of Poppy was…what? A red herring? As far as I’m concerned, it was gratuitous and deeply disturbing because everyone was out to objectify her, from Buck, who wanted to give her a job in his office and “take her under his wing,” to the con, who was feeling her up, to the very camera angles themselves. Despite obviously having sexual exploitation as its theme, the ep refused to examine the subject and instead just cranked up Poppy’s sexiness, thus making the viewer complicit in Buck and the con’s attacks on Poppy. No irony or commentary here either — we’re just expected to agree that Poppy is a hot little slut who brought misfortune to the family by being too damn sexy.

Barska binoculars puts “the ‘king’ back in ‘stalking.'”

Barska binoculars puts “the ‘king’ back in ‘stalking.'” published on No Comments on Barska binoculars puts “the ‘king’ back in ‘stalking.'”

The two ads for Barska binoculars are part of a print trio that trivializes stalking. From Ads of the World, as noticed by Shakesville. To compound the creepiness, the supposedly female stalker is actually a guy in drag [note Adam’s apple], a move that adds extra layers of dismissal and degradation. While some commenters opine that the series is creepy [see Shakesville comments], sexist and stupid, the majority seem to think it is funny [see Ads of the World comments or that it deserves “kudos.” No, it doesn’t.

Stvpid Svedka.

Stvpid Svedka. published on 2 Comments on Stvpid Svedka.

As a follow-up to my analysis of Svedka Vodka’s stvpid ads targeted toward straight viewers, here’s an equally pathetic attempt by the same company to target gay viewers. 

According to the copy, Svedka Vodka is right up there with clipping your toenails, taking out the trash, watching paint dry, doing laundry and all those other value-neutral activities that gay men would rather be doing than having sex with women. That’s hardly a ringing endorsement. Heck, I don’t even think this endorsement can reach the bell. If it does, it just bounces off like a foam ball, having made no sound on impact.

Svedka Vodka: Making useless, gratuitous, confrontational and meaningless comments about your sexuality since 2006.

“Traumatics thick and fast:” goddamned “reality” shows

“Traumatics thick and fast:” goddamned “reality” shows published on 2 Comments on “Traumatics thick and fast:” goddamned “reality” shows

While watching/listening to some eps of Crowned, a mother/daughter pageant competition “reality” show, I realize all over again how screamingly manipulated these so-called “reality” shows are. If there’s an interview that appears before a suspenseful contest, that interview probably occurred way after said event. If there’s an interview where someone seems to make a nasty comment about someone else, that could have been taken out of context where someone was talking about a passing annoyance, rather than a deep animosity…or the interviewee could have been talking about the food served on the set, rather than any one person.

And the actual narration heightens the tension by making everything superlative, either positively or negatively. If there is a supervisor of a competition, the supervisor is the MOST talented and MOST well-renowned and MOST qualified, according to the announcer. If there are awards, they are the MOST significant and the MOST expensive. Of course, if there’s an elimination, it’s always the most TRAUMATIC event ever, DEVASTATING to the losers, STUPENDOUS to the winners. Thus, tension and suspense are artificially created and maintained. Don’t get me started on the sappy music, which spells out what viewers should feel [“Feel sad DAMMIT! FEEL SAD!!!!”].

Also don’t get me started on the manufactured cattiness of Crowned, the lascivious camera angles, the enforced ditziness, the “cabana boys,” the lisping gay stereotypes, the profusion of male “experts” who for some reason supposedly know more about pageant stuff than the women who are actually in the pageants…

There’s no indictment of pageant culture here because there’s no real expose of it here. It’s just a purely formulaic “reality” show that shows the threadbare nature of the “reality” plots.

P.S. The quote is from Sweet Head by David Bowie: “Traumatics thick and fast / Your faith in me can last / Besides I’m known to lay you, one and all!!”

“Hello, I’m a Wii.”

“Hello, I’m a Wii.” published on 1 Comment on “Hello, I’m a Wii.”

This parody commercial, in which the PS2 is personified as a Rubenesque girl with glasses and short brown hair and the Wii is a tall, scrawny girl with no glasses and blond curly hair, is annoying. First, it sets up a false dichotomy between intelligent, down-to-earth, regular-looking traits and gregarious, impulsive, stereotypically attractive traits. It suggests that the first are undesirable and the latter are desirable, but whether a certain mix of traits is desirable depends on one’s tastes. I personally have the hots for the Rubenesque girl in terms of character and physical appearance, but I really like the scrawny girl’s flirtiness. However, in the framework of the commercial, the Rubenesque girl is ultimately an arrogant, castrating, mannish lesbian and fat slob, and the scrawny girl is a stupid, push-over, super-femmy, breakable slut, and neither one of them is ultimately desirable, so I think the parody just shot itself in the foot. The only way I’d like them both was if they were in 1:6 or 1:3. 

Stupid reaction to Disney princess industry

Stupid reaction to Disney princess industry published on 8 Comments on Stupid reaction to Disney princess industry

As the stepparent of a 6-year-old, the Disney princess marketing machine is old news to me. This article by the always-behind-the-times Newsweek pisses me off, though. Here’s part of the concluding paragraph:

Considering that “What’s Love Got to Do With It” attitude, it’s no wonder that Disney is modernizing its princess formulas.

In the new Broadway “Little Mermaid,” Ariel no longer needs Prince Eric to dispatch Ursula the sea witch; she does it herself. In 2009 the studio will debut the animated film “The Princess and the Frog,” featuring its first African-American princess (which is pretty shocking, if you think about the fact that there’s already been Asian, Native American and Arab princesses). She’s already stirred some controversy —she was originally a lowly chambermaid named Maddy, but after the blogosphere got wind of that, she was promoted to full princess and given a more regal-sounding name: Tiana. “Enchanted” (which comes out this week) offers its own extreme princess makeover. Giselle begins as your classic, animated princess. When she falls through a manhole into Times Square (where the movie switches to live action) and falls again after climbing up a billboard for a castle-themed casino, she reasons she’s always falling because, well, someone always catches her. Not in New York City, sweetheart. Giselle soon discovers that her petticoats are a pain and her saccharine personality annoys people. She gets her man, but not before she’s lost the dress and the breathy voice and learned to stand on her own feet—or at least catch herself when she falls down. “Traditionally, the female character is very strong until the last minutes of the film, and then the prince comes in and she’s saved,” says “Enchanted” director Kevin Lima. “I don’t think that’s a contemporarily responsible story. I had to give an alternate ending.” Lima wants the new message to be: “You are responsible for your own happily-ever-after.” And if that includes a Disney Fairy Tale Wedding Snow White gown, all the better.

So, after a review of the Disney princess marketing machine, this article tries to allay concerns that said marketing machine is racist, classist, sexist and generally stupefying to people who buy into it, especially if they are little girls who don’t know any better. The concluding paragraph as quoted above turns backflips in an attempt to convince readers that Disney princess culture is not a huge cause for alarm.

Disney princess culture isn’t sexist, the article argues, because, for example, the stage musical version of Disney’s The Little Mermaid has given Ariel a more active role in defeating the sea witch Ursula. She’s more assertive, not a wimpy woman at all.

No, actually, what would make The Little Mermaid less sexist would be having Ariel defeat the sea witch by herself in the first place in the damn original animated film…or by considering the novel idea that perhaps a powerful, magical, ambitious, frustrated, middle-aged female character like Ursula should not be automatically vilified, ridiculed and made into a grotesque parody.

Disney princess culture isn’t racist, the article insists, because…look! They have an African-American princess coming up in The Princess and the Frog in 2009. 

No, actually, what would make Disney princess culture less racist would be, say, a little respect  for the cultures they’re portraying. For example, the ancestors as venerated in Mulan could be serious characters; or they could be off-screen completely; they needn’t be slapstick caricatures. Or the Native Americans as portrayed in Pocahontas could stop having some sort of gooey, hallucinatory relationship with colored wind and talking trees, and their spiritual practices could be woven into the story with more understatement and less excuse for talking non-human characters.

Disney princess culture isn’t generally retrograde, the article tries desperately to convince us, because Enchanted provides a modern twist on the happy-ever-after ending. In Enchanted, Giselle finds that her animated air-headedness can’t stand up to reality. Also she saves the divorce lawyer before the end. That makes it all better.

No, actually, what would make Disney princess culture less retrograde would be for them to dump the pining/suffering/wedding arc that characterizes all Disney princess stories. Just because Giselle in Enchanted momentarily flexes her muscles before settling down to her wedding does not mean that the pining/suffering/wedding arc has been radically disrupted, allowing for change. Giselle’s rescue of the divorce lawyer represents a superficial concession to reality, brains and general feminist agitation. There is no wholesale examination and revamping of the inherent passivity and stupidity of the tropes. Enchanted is NOT “contemporarily responsible.” It’s just a tired old retread.

“You are responsible for your own happily-ever-after.” And if that includes a Disney Fairy Tale Wedding Snow White gown, all the better.

This conclusion disturbs me. It implies that happily-ever-after does exist and is achievable. Furthermore, it suggests that participating in the Disney princess culture helps a person achieve said happy ending. But, as we’ve seen, Disney princess culture is a seething boil of sexism, racism, classism and general hebetation. It may purport to be liberating, hip, empowering and cool, but it is not. It is merely dressing up sexist, racist, classist stupidity in an appealing guise so that people will think that Disney princess culture represents the road to happiness and therefore consume more Disney princess products and increase Disney’s capital.

There is no happily-ever-after. There is only life. Happily-ever-after is not achieved by consuming Disney princess products because there’s no happily-ever-after to achieve in the first place. Thus, Disney princess products are merely a part of life. Their consumption does not lead to happiness. I do not deny that their consumption may bring pleasure to people; I do, however, vehemently dispute the assumption that consumption of Disney products causes lifelong personal fulfillment and deep satisfaction. They do not. No product does. In fact, consumption of Disney princess products can lead to distress, unhappiness and a dead-end state in a mire of racism, classism, sexism and stupidity…if one does not develop a critical intelligence about the hidden goals of the Disney corporate conglomerate. 

So that’s the key, folks. Examine; criticize, and provide alternatives.

P.S. For bonus nausea [and possibly VOMITING!!!!!], note that the 2009 Princess and the Frog is set in New Orleans. Cue the sassy Southern mammy stereotype, the comic and subhuman speaker of Cajun creole, not to mention the stupid, ignorant, stereotyped jokes about voodoo [more properly called Voudon, I think]. Extra bingo points for gratuitous depiction of New Orleans as some sort of swingin’ place full of cheerful Stepin Fetchits just groovin’ to the wild rhythms of that racy, “uncivilized,” “wild” jazz. 

P.P.S. For a bonus bonus, read Deborah Siegl’s review of Enchanted, which uses the movie as a case study to argue many of the points I bring up here.

Masculinity as fear

Masculinity as fear published on 2 Comments on Masculinity as fear

I don’t have time to go into detail about this topic, but I do think it’s interesting. As I know from personal experience, the state of being culturally construed as a woman basically boils down to fear: fear that one will be taken advantage of by those culturally construed as men. At the same time, those culturally construed as men have their own fear: fear that they will lose their power. What pathetic, anxious cowards the patriarchy makes of us all!

I was prompted to the masculinity=fear equation by an excerpt from Robert Jensen’s Getting Off: Porn and the End of Masculinity, as posted on Here is the conclusion of the excerpt:

Pornography knows men’s weakness. It speaks to that weakness, softly. Pornography ends up being about men’s domination of women and about the ugly ways that men will take pleasure. But for most men, it starts with the soft voice that speaks to our deepest fear: That we aren’t man enough.

Maybe I’m just sensitive to the anxieties of masculinity because I’m writing about a guy who is firmly convinced that he is not man enough and, interestingly enough, uses porn to try to prove himself to himself.

The sad, ironic and really insulting anti-abuse ad

The sad, ironic and really insulting anti-abuse ad published on 4 Comments on The sad, ironic and really insulting anti-abuse ad

 If you really want to see an offensive ad, check out Kabayanihan’s anti-violence print ad below the cut, courtesy of AdverBox. 

The ad contains outlets labeled Wife, Partner, Soul Mate, Confidant, Spouse, Friend, Better Half, Companion, Cover Up, Concubine, Servant, Punching Bag, Vagina. A plug is in the outlet labeled Vagina. The text nearby says, “How some men think of women.” Then it says in smaller letters, “If you are a victim of abuse, please report to Hotline number 603 2143 3361 and we will help. Kabayanihan.”

Where do I begin detailing the stupid, sexist, reductionist attitudes operating in this ad? First of all, let’s start with the symbolism of plugs and outlets. While the women are represented by white outlets of pure vacuity, the man is represented by a black plug. As something that can fill up holes, a plug is an aggressive phallic object. The black color connotes that its power is a negative, dangerous one. This is actually not a bad symbol for the sort of domineering, sexually aggressive man who is assumed to be battering the female consumers of this ad.

While the man=black plug equation works well, the symbolism for women in this ad is problematic. Women are represented as white outlets. Outlets are holes that wait on the wall for something to be stuck into them, or, in other words, to be used. The symbolism of the outlet implies that women are passive, exploitable victims, even if they are held in esteem by men as Friend or Better Half. The color white also brings to mind purity, innocence and emptiness, which makes women not only actionless and limp, but also blank and lacking in substance. So, basically, according to this ad, women are full of negative connotations.

You could argue that it is only the male abuser sees women as white outlets full of negative connotations, but that’s not precisely what the ad says. Remember that the ad text states that it is showing how “some men” perceive women. “Some men” think that women are just Vaginas. But, the ad implies, there are other ways for men to perceive women, as indicated by the alternative white outlets. However, please notice how the whole grouping of outlets is NOT a subset of a wall containing a myriad of outlets including Sister, Mother, Grandmother, Aunt, Cousin, Acquaintance, Role Model, Goddess, Fag Hag, Medium, Dominatrix, Object, Pest, Earth Mother, Bluestocking, Dyke, etc., etc. The whole grouping of outlets is neatly centered in the photo, arranged so that it forms a discrete, total, complete set. The ad, in effect, says that these 14 ways are the only ways in which men can perceive women. So, to get back to my topic sentence, it’s not just the male abuser’s view that women are a yawning void of quiescent, dependent boringness; it’s ALL men’s views of women. Even the perspective labeled Confidant is still, yes, a white outlet, meaning that even the more positive views of women in this ad are contaminated by the demeaning, infantilizing symbolism.

The underlying structures of this ad are bad enough, but even the surface messages are blatantly misleading, overly specific, confusing and just plain wrong. For example, the fact that there is just one plug in the Vagina outlet suggests that ONLY those men who see women as Vaginas abuse women. Also, the fact that the plug is in the Vagina outlet, denoting a sexual orifice, defines sexual abuse as the only type of abuse extant. First, men who see women as Concubines and Cover Ups and, yes, even Wives, also abuse women. Second, there are more types of abuse than just sexual abuse. Am I the only one who is revolted by the casual use of the term Punching Bag in this ad? The fact that the Punching Bag outlet does NOT have a plug in it seems to imply that men who see women as Punching Bags, that is, men who hit women, do not abuse women, since abuse, according to this ad, does not include hitting. This ad has an extremely narrow focus that seems to exclude verbal abuse, emotional manipulation, assault and other forms of abuse besides sexual, not to mention abuse of wives, friends, friends, prostitutes [Concubines], children, elders, basically any woman who is not listed among the outlets. What kind of abuse is this ad thinking of, then? The kind where a stranger attacks and rapes an unknown woman? Such cases form a statistically small percentage of abuse cases. You are much more likely to be abused by someone you know, a relative, friend or acquaintance. Nowhere does the ad accommodate this brutal reality.

Imagine the effect of this ad on the target population: a woman who has been abused. I can envision a woman whose husband jealously controls her phone calls, yells at her when she burns toast and hasn’t had sex with her in two years because he’s been having affairs. This woman is in an abusive situation, but it is quite possible that, thanks to this stupid and confusing ad, she might not call Kabayanihan to get the help that she desperately needs. The ad is clearly talking about men who sexually objectify women as Vaginas, but our hypothetical viewer doesn’t think that designation applies to her, first, because she’s obviously a Wife and, second, because her husband has not had sex with her in two years. Also, because the ad speaks of “men” in general as the perpetrators, when in reality the perp is usually a friend or relation [thus the violence could more properly be called “domestic”], the hypothetical viewer may feel she is excluded because the ad is talking about strangers, not family members. The viewer hurries to return home, where her husband throws an empty beer bottle, hitting her in the head, because she was five minutes late setting the table. And another misguided ad campaign fails to reach out to the very people it’s trying to help. In fact, you could even make a case for this ad being potentially alienating, rather than inclusive.

What’s really sickening about this whole business is that this is an ad for ANTI-abuse services. The help promised by this ad is supposed to empower women [I assume] to cope with the aftermath of abusive trauma and leave abusive situations if they are stuck in them. But instead it’s just a further depressing reminder of how limiting male conceptions of women can be, how invisible domestic violence is and how helpless many women [whether they are abused or not] feel in a world where the threat of male violence against them is almost constant.

Heineken Draught Keg robo-woman ad: sexist?

Heineken Draught Keg robo-woman ad: sexist? published on 1 Comment on Heineken Draught Keg robo-woman ad: sexist?

I’ve never commented on ads before, although I’ve always enjoyed Ms. magazine’s back page where the inflammatorily sexist ads are rounded up for my viewing pleasure. However, I was poking around online, reading about the controversy [as, for example, on the blog of Bob Garfield, columnist for Ad Age] over the Heineken draught keg TV spot … In this ad, the robot woman supposedly does a C section on herself and brings a draught keg out of her uterus.

For the record, I would like to say that I am truly torn about the ad.

Every time I try to watch it to see if it’s sexist, I am continually distracted by the sexy, mechanically lissome forms of the robotic women. I also like the techno music, even if it’s a ridiculous ditty about popping the flip top or whatever. Anyway, after repeated viewing [for research purposes!!], I opine that the sexism in the ad does not come from the keg=uterus equation because the location of said keg is nowhere near the robot woman’s uterus. It appears to be keg=small intestines. 

The sexism at work here is nothing new. It’s just your tired, old, run-of-the-mill objectification of women as inanimate objects [robots] whose sole purpose is to sacrifice their own desires so that they may cater to the tastes [for draught keg contents] of the implied male viewer. In fact, the image in the commercial of a woman emptying herself for a man while keeping a constant smile is actually a disturbing reification of many women’s experience. Socialized to abnegate themselves, women may try and try to please other people, draining themselves of energy, until they are as empty as used beer cans. While the images used here are distractingly sexy, the underlying message is a terrifying turn-off, yet another example of how Heineken’s execs underestimate their target audience [hey, hetero men, you don’t want female companionship, just a fembot-like servitor!], insult women and leave everyone feeling demoralized and worse for wear.

Or maybe it’s draught keg=abdominal cavity. In any case, as you can clearly see, it’s way too high up in her body to be the location of her uterus.

Vintage short films dealing with gender roles

Vintage short films dealing with gender roles published on 1 Comment on Vintage short films dealing with gender roles

Looky here — a big fat juicy archive of ephemeral films, including promos, social hygiene films, educational stuff that was shown in schools, all tagged with the promising phrase “gender roles.” has much more than such films, though; there’s also a trove of old animation, sound files and, of course, the WayBack Machine, the archive of the entire Internet. I could lose days poking through such stuff…

The Ur-Fairy Tale, or, Putrid Sexual Politics

The Ur-Fairy Tale, or, Putrid Sexual Politics published on 2 Comments on The Ur-Fairy Tale, or, Putrid Sexual Politics

Where can you find a girl that nurses a unicorn, a dragon that speaks like a stereotyped Chinese and an evil guy named [just in case you missed that he was evil] Coeur de Noir or Blackheart? It's all in the early draft of Legend, that overstuffed 1984 fantasy train wreck in which Tim Curry is the best thing and, shuddersomely enough, Tom Cruise without pants is NOT the worst.

The Loremistress has so obligingly given me a link to my favorite draft script of all time, that of 1984's Legend. 

"Your wish is my command. 😉 Behold the early script for Legend!

The Rampant Bicyclist"

I don't even know where to begin with this one. Besides being 400 hours long, it's also a slag heap of cliches that are so overworn that they turn into stereotypes. And the sexual politics are PUTRID. Lili, the princess, is seen as a good character only when she is a pure, innocent virgin. The appearance of her sexuality [in a fascinating transformation and rape scene with the Baron, a precursor to Darkness] coincides with her turn toward evil. The revulsion towards women as active, sexual, desiring individuals just emanates from the page.

Go read it!

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