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Straight white cis dude writes sexist, racist, classist, ageist jeremaid.

Straight white cis dude writes sexist, racist, classist, ageist jeremaid. published on No Comments on Straight white cis dude writes sexist, racist, classist, ageist jeremaid.

“Do teens read seriously anymore?” asks the title of David Denby’s New Yorker screed. Of course not! answers the author, blaming “most of all, screens (TV, Internet, games, texting, Instagramming).” “Screens” have killed teens’ interest in self-development through “serious” reading, turning them into superficial shlubs with no attention span. I’m dying to know how Denby deduced this, since he’s so out of touch with the under-21 set that he refers to them as “teen-agers.” Why should anyone listen to this irrelevant person?

I also can’t help but notice that Denby’s idea of “serious reading” is gendered, racialized, and classed. He cites “Shakespeare, Mary Shelley, Poe, Hawthorne, Twain, Stevenson, Orwell, Vonnegut” as exemplars of the genres that today’s “teen-agers” putatively avoid. Elsewhere in his word vomit, J.D. Salinger, Charlotte Bronte, Kurt Vonnegut, Ray Bradbury, Joseph Heller, and Allen Ginsburg appear as sadly neglected greats. “Wilde, Nabokov, Updike, Vidal” also garner mentions as “sophisticated” author-critics of the 20th century.

Of these 18 authors, all are from the United States or Great Britain, and 16 are white cis dudes, 2 white cis women. There are 2 gay dudes [whoop de fucking doo] and 0 queer women. There are no non-honkies or people of color. All of this “literature” issues from the privileged socioeconomic classes. By contrast, the fantasy, dystopian, vampire romance, and graphic novel genres that he shits on feature a much larger representation of women and/or POC and/or various socioeconomic classes and/or national origins. And Denby hates it.

Shorter Denby: “Waaaaah, my straight cis white dude privilege is being threatened!”

Oh shut up and go hang out with Simon Doonan, another rich old cis white dude master of ageist, sexist, racist vituperation.

Hat tip to Katy Waldman for her criticism of Denby’s crap on Slate.

“9 Fascinating Facts About Transitioning From Male to Female”

“9 Fascinating Facts About Transitioning From Male to Female” published on No Comments on “9 Fascinating Facts About Transitioning From Male to Female”

Great! I’m fascinated already! Tell me more, MSN.

“Bruce Jenner introduced the world to Caitlyn, the Olympian’s female identity, on the new cover of Vanity Fair on Monday…”

If I had one of those buzzers that I could hit whenever someone said something wrong, I’d be leaning on it right here. Let me fix that for you, MSN.

“Caitlyn Jenner, Olympic decathlete, TV star, and person famous for being famous, appeared on the cover on Monday’s Vanity Fair.”

The authors of this article apparently felt so curious about gender transitions that they [pick one]:

a) talked to a variety of trans women who have considered and effected a variety of transitions, including social, occupational, legal, and medical

or b) interviewed a straight, white, rich, cis male plastic surgeon about jaw reduction, tracheal shaves, lip injections, hairline repositioning, and other procedures often known collectively as “facial feminization surgery.”

If you guessed b), you’re right! Yes! No trans persons were consulted in the creation of this article. Despite being nominally about trans people, this article is actually an entirely trans-free zone. This makes it easier, I guess, for clueless cis people to satisfy their prurient curiosity without having to do anything uncomfortable like hearing from trans women themselves.

MSN’s complete inability to talk to some actual people actually involved in actual transitions leads to painfully clueless claims like the following:

“Every transgender person’s journey is different. However, facial feminization surgery is typically one of the first considerations for someone looking to make a change.”

Really? That’s news to me. Because I thought that your average trans person in the U.S., who, according to an overview report by LGBT Movement Advancement Project, overwhelmingly experiences discrimination in public places, employment, housing, and education — and who’s also at disproportionate risk for poverty, homelessness, violence, suicide, and murder — is just trying to, you know,¬†get through the day in one piece. But no — apparently your average U.S. trans person, once she decides to do some physical transitions, is saying to herself, “Okay, I’d better move $50K out of my rainy day fund to pay for a series of delicate and invasive operations from which it will require months of rest and recuperation. Let me check my calendar — okay, I’ve got the next year free — let’s do this!”

Oh FFS, MSN! [And FFS does not = Facial Feminization Surgery. :p ]

 

 

“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.

This entry was originally posted at http://modernwizard.dreamwidth.org/1693818.html. You can comment here, but I’d prefer it if you’d comment on my DW using OpenID.

If Transparent is “the fall’s only great new show…”

If Transparent is “the fall’s only great new show…” published on No Comments on If Transparent is “the fall’s only great new show…”

…why the hell does it have Jeffrey Tambor playing Maura, the main character, instead of, you know, an actual trans woman? >:( Go AWAY, Jeffrey Tambor.

This entry was originally posted at http://modernwizard.dreamwidth.org/1687022.html. You can comment here, but I’d prefer it if you’d comment on my DW using OpenID.

How not to write, part seven zillion and two in an infinitely extensible series

How not to write, part seven zillion and two in an infinitely extensible series published on No Comments on How not to write, part seven zillion and two in an infinitely extensible series

Today we’re examining The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Real Magic by Emily Croy Barker. I picked this up because it looked to be in a similar vein as Deborah Harkness’ All Souls Trilogy, a silly but agreeably diverting series with occasional intelligent grace notes. In fact, Harkness endorsed Barker’s debut novel as "a marvelous plot [with] clever dialogue [and] complex characters…a perfect escape from humdrum reality." I mentally translated this as "fun, shallow escapism" and settled in for some entertainment.

I have not been entertained. Instead, Barker has been providing object lessons in how not to write, here presented for your delectation in no particular order:

1) Spend a significant portion of the book having the protagonist raped and brainwashed, and then forget about it. Nora, a 30-year-old unhappy grad student in English literature, somehow accidentally pierces from this world into the realm of Ye Olde Standarde Faeries: that is, supernatural assholes who appear like beautiful humans but really look disgusting and who enjoy kidnapping humans and messing with their minds. The first 80 pages of the novel detail her transformation into a thoughtless automaton, coerced into a muzzy-headed state of permanent compliance. She is essentially drugged, threatened, gaslighted, forcibly married to Raclin, a draconic fairy prince, raped by Raclin, beaten by Raclin and, finally, terrorized by Raclin’s mom Ilissa until she miscarries. By this point, the reader just wants the torture to end, but no such luck. Aruendiel, a human, male magician, rescues Nora, and we still have about four-fifths of the book left to go.

The remainder of the book, however, doesn’t adequately address the aftermath of Nora’s ordeal. Barker discusses Nora’s physical healing from Raclin’s assault, as well as the disconcerting experience of having a huge amount of fairy glamour lifted from her. We also get a little bit of ambivalence from Nora about having a miscarriage, but that’s about it. We don’t, for example, see Nora angry or ashamed at her seduction, regretful that she has left behind the lap of luxury for a hardscrabble life with Aruendiel, proud that she managed to get out or even frightened that the fairies might come after her. She does not appear to have been emotionally affected by her torture at all. For God’s sake, she shows more impassioned feeling in her discussion with Aruendiel of his language’s sexist deployment of gendered conjugations and declensions than she does about her repeated mental and physical violation at the hands of the fairies.

2) Fail to establish credible antagonists. Of course, the fairies do indeed come after Nora once Aruendiel rescues her; Raclin, in the form of a dragon, chases her on a few separate occasions, but is thwarted when Aruendiel a) pop-flies him into the stratosphere, b) leaves him with a much larger and very pissy lake monster and c) turns him into a rock. Aruendiel’s casual [and silly — seriously, pop-flying him into the stratosphere?] dispatches of Raclin make the prince seem less like a truly threatening abuser and more like an annoying bug. Because Nora and Aruendiel always repulse the fairies, the fairies fail come across as creakingly obvious devices with which to move the plot [such as there is] forward.

3) Use ableist and racist stereotypes in place of character development. In the ableism department, Aruendiel represents one of the most tedious types, the Aloof And Commanding Cripple With A Broken Body, But A Restless Mind, Whose Rudeness And Grimness May Be Excused By His Secret Tragic Past [But It Wasn’t His Fault]. In Aruendiel’s case, he killed his wife because [somehow] he thought this would free her from an enchantment that Ilissa had put on her. Then he was fighting in some war with Ilissa, and he fell out of the sky, broke lots of bones and died, but his friends brought him back to life. He does not, however, think that he was worth reviving. Why are the Tragic Cripples always so whiny and self-pitying?

In the racism department, one of the most interesting characters unfortunately ends up being the most exoticized. Hirizjahkinis, Aruendiel’s friend, is the only female magician in a book where the main culture’s characters think of female magicians as highly improbable, if not impossible. Hirizjahkinis skirts the sexist restrictions of Aruendiel’s society by being a foreigner from some hot, jungle-covered, southerly place [lazy Africa equivalent] with a tradition of female witches. Physically, she is dark-skinned — the only non-white character in the entire book [a fact noted by the white characters] — with her black hair in cornrows. When Nora first meets her, Hirizjahkinis is so exotic and foreign that she wears both a kimono-like robe and a leopard skin over her shoulders. Yes, folks, a leopard skin: the stereotypical sign of a comic-book "jungle girl" or "savage!" Oh yeah, and she’s bisexual — the only non-hetero person in the entire book [also noted by the characters]. Even though she is warm, friendly, patient, competent, unflappable, sexy, badass and clearly the most lively and engaging character in the whole book, Hirizjahkinis suffers from intersectional objectification because, for some reason, Barker thought it acceptable to turn her into an egregious token, the embodiment of all that is different from the straight, white majority in the book.

4) Focus on a vacuous protagonist. I have no idea why Harkness thinks that this book involves "complex characters." They are the least complex I have come across in a long time. The protagonist Nora has no personality whatsoever, and the structure of the book, in which events happen to Nora through no agency of her own, certainly doesn’t help matters. Nora is stalled in her dissertation by her advisor, dumped by her boyfriend, accidentally sucked into another world, abducted and raped by fairies, rescued and healed by Aruendiel, etc., etc., etc., shuttling from one event to another like a pinball being smacked by paddles of plot. It is possible to write a fascinating story about a protagonist who experiences dramatic changes in her life that are outside her control, but this is not that story. Said hypothetical fascinating story requires a protagonist with an interesting inner life whose interpretation of events offers counterpoint and/or insight into the whole structure of the plot. Nora, who apparently has no phenomenological experience whatsoever [see her lack of reaction to her rape], is not that protagonist.

Barker does Nora no favors on the development front by depriving her of a history. Sure, she’s got an ex-boyfriend and a female friend, but we quickly breeze past these people so that Nora may be brainwashed and raped by the fairies. Quick summaries of Nora’s relationship with her ex or an explanation of her friend’s personality provide no revealing details about Nora as a person.

And what about Nora’s family?  Heck, it’s not until two-thirds of the way through the book, when she visits her 10-year-old sister through a two-way scrying spell, that we see that her sister has a shrine to their dead brother and that it now includes a photo of presumed-dead Nora as well. Why didn’t we hear about her little sister and dead brother earlier? Why does Barker pass up a chance to forge significant relationships and thus a bit of individuality for her main character? Why does she withhold such important information about Nora’s dead brother until practically the end of the book, when the reader is so stultified by the pointless plotlessness that they have no energy left to give a shit? The poignant conversation between Nora and her sister, who thinks she might be a ghost, contains more emotional heft than all the pages before it, but apparently leaves no lasting effect. In conclusion, Nora, a character apparently impervious to the effects of life, bores the poop out of me.

4) Tell the wrong story. Barker spends most of her time on a) Nora’s torture in fairyland, b) Nora’s physical recovery from her assault, during which she does a large amount of chores with Aruendiel’s housekeeper, c) Nora’s failed attempts to learn magic and d) her increasing, inexplicable infatuation with Aruendiel. To this, Barker tosses in interminable discussions of human/fairy politics that never seem to impinge upon the plot, scads of silly made-up names ["Hirgus Ext" being a typical example] with no logic behind them [she seems to think that telling the name of everything constitutes convincing worldcraft] and Nora’s continual frustration over the sexism in Aruendiel’s society. If there’s a plot or anything of consequence going on in there, I missed it in the wash of extraneous details.

Meanwhile, there’s a much more interesting thread running through the story: that of the conjunction between magic and death, fairyland and the afterlife. Nora enters fairyland through an abandoned cemetery, and it’s mentioned that she has always liked old graveyards [a fact that’s never enlarged upon]. When she determines how much time has passed in the magic world, she figures that her family must think that she is dead. In her adventures with Aruendiel, she encourages him to bring back to life a young girl. Her interest in life and death takes on new significance when she converses with her little sister and sees herself in the same category as her dead brother: enshrined in absence. Nora has a cautious, curious, mournful relationship with death, which is probably the only interesting thing about her.

Aruendiel does his own dance with death. As a magician, he has used magic enough so that his life has been extended to a few centuries, time enough to see generations of friends and family grow old and die. He has killed a bunch of people, including his own wife, which seems to affect him less than his own death and revivification. Part of him kind of wishes his friends had just let him stay dead, but part of him clearly wishes to keep on living. 

I’d like to hear that story — the tale of how two people so personally invested in death navigate the trials of life — but no. Instead we get the housekeeper teaching Nora how to chop up apples. I stayed up way too late last night, reading this book, waiting for something to happen, but nothing ever did.

This entry was originally posted at http://modernwizard.dreamwidth.org/1577869.html. You can comment here, but I’d prefer it if you’d comment on my DW using OpenID.

Fuck off, Bathroom Police!

Fuck off, Bathroom Police! published on No Comments on Fuck off, Bathroom Police!

Colorado’s civil rights division has determined that Coy Mathis, prohibited from using her school’s bathroom, has been unfairly discriminated against for being told to hold it all damn day just because she has a penis. She will now be able to take a shit on school premises again. Why we needed to go all the way up to the state judiciary to determine that taking a crap is an inalienable right is beyond me. But at least now the Bathroom Police Department in Colorado Springs, Colorado can fuck right the fuck off.

This entry was originally posted at http://modernwizard.dreamwidth.org/1536415.html. You can comment here, but I’d prefer it if you’d comment on my DW using OpenID.

Parents sue hospital over their son’s mutilation

Parents sue hospital over their son’s mutilation published on No Comments on Parents sue hospital over their son’s mutilation

A South Carolina couple is suing the state for performing unnecessary mutilative surgery on their son, who was born with ambiguous genitalia, operated on at the Medical University of South Carolina and assigned female. The Crawfords adopted him after this surgery and raised their son as a girl until last year, when he said he was actually a boy. 

NBC says:

The state lawsuit accuses the Medical University of South Carolina — where the surgery was performed — and Greenville Hospital — where the child was born — of negligence medical malpractice for not getting the patient’s informed consent before surgery and failing to warn of potential problems resulting from it. At 16 months old, the suit alleges, the child was too young to make such a decision, one that could have waited until years later.

That complaint accuses state Social Services officials of failing to protect the child from the consequences of the surgery. A federal lawsuit also accuses doctors and state officials of violating the child’s civil rights by performing the surgery without consent.

I applaud the Crawfords for resisting the medical industrial complex’s obsession with forcibly shoving everyone into M or F categories before the people being shoved into the categories can express any preference. It is indeed a violation of civil rights to alter people’s bodies like that without their consent. All parties being sued should indeed be held accountable for their assumptions that they can steamroll individual liberties for the sake of some stinkin’, rigid gender binary bullshit.

I’m also happy that the parents seem pretty cool with their son selecting a different gender presentation than the one assigned him at mutilation. They come across in the article as parents who really love their son and who want him to be happy. They want to protect him, but they know sadly that the world doesn’t see their son the way that he does and they do. i.e., the way he actually is.

Tagged "trans yay" for resistance to forcible gender reassignment, acceptance of personally chosen gender reassignment and generally cool kid and parents. Tagged "stupid cis people" for the medical establishment against which they are fighting.

This entry was originally posted at http://modernwizard.dreamwidth.org/1512570.html. You can comment here, but I’d prefer it if you’d comment on my DW using OpenID.

Stupid cis people strike again!

Stupid cis people strike again! published on No Comments on Stupid cis people strike again!

Reading a paper on operations that trans persons may choose to undergo as part of their bodily transitions…

Authors go on and on about "sex reassignment surgery." No, dipshits, it’s not "sex reassignment surgery." Frankly, I’m not entirely sure what the most accurate term is at this point, but it’s not that. I think the general term I’ve heard is "gender transition surgery," which encompasses a variety of procedures.

"Transexualism is a gender identification disorder…" A) Authors can’t even spell "transsexualism." B) Cissexism is a disorder in which people think that there are only two categories of people, "men" and "women," and that all people in each group must have bodies that look exactly the same.

Authors are obsessed with penetration, defining a neopenis as one that can successfully achieve penetration and a neovulva as one that can successfully be penetrated. They apparently think that the only type of sexual activity available is penis-into-vulva penetration.

ARRRGH!

This entry was originally posted at http://modernwizard.dreamwidth.org/1508236.html. You can comment here, but I’d prefer it if you’d comment on my DW using OpenID.

The “bathroom argument,” part n in an ongoing series

The “bathroom argument,” part n in an ongoing series published on No Comments on The “bathroom argument,” part n in an ongoing series

The parents of Coy Mathis, a Coloradan first-grader [with magenta hair?! how awesome is that?], have filed a discrimination suit with the state’s Civil Rights Division because the school district will no longer let her use the girls’ bathroom.

Why? Because they are obsessed with Coy’s penis.

A letter that the Mathis family received in December states:

"….I’m certain you can appreciate that, as Coy grows older and his [sic] male [sic] genitals develop along with the rest of his [sic] body, at least some parents and students are likely to become uncomfortable with his [sic] continued use of the girls’ restroom."

So a girl can’t use the girls’ bathroom because some people might be bothered [heaven forfend!] by the fact that her body differs from that of the majority of girls’.

Oooh! Oooh! I can play this game. We need to make separate bathrooms for every category of person whose body might conceivably bother someone else.

Okay, so we’ll have to separate bathrooms based on race, fat, disability, age, sickness and shoe size, at the very least.

Is that school district serious? Are they honestly arguing that putative future squeamish prejudice trumps a person’s immediate need to perform a basic human function?

The "bathroom argument": it’s bullshit!

This entry was originally posted at http://modernwizard.dreamwidth.org/1473057.html. You can comment here, but I’d prefer it if you’d comment on my DW using OpenID.

Dear Caitlin R. Kiernan…

Dear Caitlin R. Kiernan… published on No Comments on Dear Caitlin R. Kiernan…

Trans people are actual people, not Thematic Elements That Underscore the Protagonist's Ponderous Musings About Mutability. It's stupidly disingenuous of you to claim, through your protagonist, that you are not making the protagonist's trans girlfriend a Thematic Element when you end up explicitly making the girlfriend a Thematic Element a few hundred pages later. Kindly fuck off until you learn the secret to writing trans characters.

Hint: It's NOT A SECRET, and you, being a published author of some experience and renown, should know it already. Here's the hint: you write about a human being with the attribute of being trans, instead of writing about the concept of Transness that incidentally has the attribute of being human. You can do it with your queer cis female characters. Why can't you do it with your queer trans female character?

Do you care about trans people at all? [Do you even known any?] Or do you just think that writing "tr***y" makes you grittier, edgier and more shocking? I'm going with option C, given your colossal cluelessness.

I am so disappointed in you. I am never reading anything you write again, which is a pity because I liked The Red Tree.

You do realize that The Drowning Girl, catalyst of my ire, is nothing but a flaccid, digressive, anti-trans Red Tree wanna-be in need of ruthless editing, right?

Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson: offensive AND boring

Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson: offensive AND boring published on 1 Comment on Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson: offensive AND boring

Peter Pan was published in 1911 by the British author J.M. Barrie, based on a 1904 play called Peter and Wendy. It’s the story about three British kids, Wendy, John and Michael, who go to the Neverland of their imaginations. There they have adventures with pirates, mermaids, wild animals, lost boys and, of course, the boy who wouldn’t grow up: Peter Pan.

The concept of Peter Pan and the crude outlines of the story have exerted a fascination over US and British readers for more than a century. Thanks to Disney’s 1953 animated adaptation, most US fans have rather superficial ideas about Peter Pan, chiefly involving flying, fairy dust, pirates and maybe a crocodile. Naturally, the play and the novel are much messier and more interesting than our cliched ideas about them.

Having read Peter Pan many, many times, I could provide you with rants on everything from the authorial interruptions to the treatment of female characters, but right now I am focusing on the Indians. Yeah, there are Indians in Neverland. They are members of the Pickaninny tribe, referred to by that narrator as “red men,” and they scalp people. I am not making this up; Barrie specifically writes that the name of the Indians’ group is a racist term for African-American people. Furthermore, the Indians have silly nature-related names like “Great Big Little Panther.” They also talk like stereotypical Japanese people who can’t pronounce their Rs. In short, the Indians are a horrible farrago of Edwardian racist stereotypes, which kind of makes sense, if you figure that Neverland is populated by Wendy, Michael and John’s ideas of Indians gleaned from idealized and disparaging media they have consumed.

The only Indian in Peter Pan to develop something like an individual personality is Tiger Lily. Described as the trite Ice Maiden who “staves off the altar with a hatchet,” she is beautiful, imperious and aloof to all potential suitors. For some reason, though, she has a rather pathetic crush on Peter, declaring, “Me his velly nice friend.” [See what I mean about the stereotypical broken English?] Her major scene occurs when Smee and Starkey kidnap her, but untie her at Peter’s orders, as they think he is Captain Hook. Tiger Lily does the smart thing and immediately jumps off Smee and Starkey’s boat and swims away to freedom. Other than that, though, she’s a barely personalized bit of scenery.

One hundred years after Barrie published the original novel, Jodi Lynn Anderson decided to vomit forth her revisionist response entitled Tiger Lily. In this version, narrated by an observant but mostly uninvolved Tinker Bell, Tiger Lily is merely referred to as a “native,” a member of the Sky Eater tribe. A teenager, she lives with her adoptive father, the cross-dressing shaman Tik Tok, and excels at “masculine” pursuits and suppressing her emotions. She meets Peter Pan and falls in love with him, an experience that, of course, feminizes and gentles her. [I fucking hate that trope.] Her impending marriage to a cruel lout, as well as the arrival of Wendy, John and Michael, messes everything up. Angst ensues. As far as I can tell, this is a cheap attempt to capitalize on the paranormal romance subgenre by employing, for no discernible reason, the trappings of a previous author’s universe.

As soon as I heard about Anderson’s book, I began to cringe. Why is she so interested in rehabilitating stereotyped Indians? What makes her think she has the authority to tell Tiger Lily’s story? Why do we need yet another white author with no native connections treating the Indians of Peter Pan like shit? [I’m serious. In all sequels and adaptations of the story that I’ve read or read about, the Indians fare extremely poorly. Please check Debbie Reese’s “Peter Pan” and “Peter Pan in Scarlet” tags on American Indians in Children’s Literature for details. Reese is an author and activist tribally enrolled in Nambe Pueblo (New Mexico), and she knows what she’s talking about.] The answer to these three questions appears to be 1) no idea, 2) absolutely nothing and 3) we don’t. Yet Anderson forges ahead.

I decided to give Tiger Lily a chance, though. I was right – it is cringeworthy and terrible. The persistently clueless portrayal of the Sky Eaters combines with the talentless writing to create a literary disaster.

This book is so bad that I don’t even know where to begin. Let’s start, for want of a better place, with the subject of consistency. All of the “native” tribes of Neverland appear to be named after their location – the Bog Dwellers and the Cliff Dwellers, for example – except for Tiger Lily’s tribe, the Sky Eaters. Why aren’t they named after their location as the Forest Dwellers? What’s this irrelevant business about the sky and eating it? Here’s just one clue of many that Anderson hasn’t thought her world through.

The Sky Eaters behave like a loose collection of Native American stereotypes. They live in huts; they have a medicine man, Tik Tok, even though he is called a shaman, who heals people and works magic; they wear deerskin clothes; they have long black hair and high cheekbones; many of their names follow the stereotype of Literally Translated Natural Phenomenon; they worship many gods or spirits…argle bargle bargle. Despite this, they don’t seem to have any culture. Anderson will often add asides about the Sky Eaters’ marriage customs, religious beliefs or bathing habits, but we never see these things affecting the characters’ actions or the development of the plot. Tiger Lily’s little village, populated by the Loving Adoptive Dad, the Disabled Kid With a Crush on Her, the Teen Exemplar of Femininity, the Evil Suitor, the Evil Suitor’s Mom and Various Uncomprehending and Gossipy Tertiaries, could appear in any other setting without a problem. It’s a thoroughly generic story and a thoroughly generic setting, which Anderson only gestures at making specific. And, unfortunately, her idea of making the Sky Eaters specific involves tossing them into a pit of Indian stereotypes.

Even though I’m only halfway through, I’m dogged by the sense that Anderson is telling the wrong story. As I mentioned, the depiction of Tiger Lily and the other Sky Eaters is so vacuous as to deter sympathy, identification and investment in Tiger Lily’s experiences. Furthermore, Tiger Lily and Peter Pan have a tediously formulaic Forbidden and Doomed Love piece of crap going on, which is also boring. I’m much more interested in…well, basically anyone except them. For instance, what’s Tik Tok’s history? How does Pine Sap [Disabled Kid with a Crush on Tiger Lily] feel about being a sensitive, thoughtful butt of tribal jokes? What’s the relationship between Smee and Hook? Why does Tink have a crush on Peter? Where the hell are all the other faeries anyway? Where’s the magic?

Neverland holds such a grip on our imaginations because it’s a problematic, messy, dangerous, powerful place. Anderson commits a crime against fiction by sticking it somewhere in the Atlantic, leaching out the magic and populating it with racist and sexist cliches that wouldn’t grow up.

P.S. I just know that Pine Sap is going to die. The disabled character always bites it in this kind of ableist tripe.

Oklahoma judge goes off on irrelevant tangent

Oklahoma judge goes off on irrelevant tangent published on 1 Comment on Oklahoma judge goes off on irrelevant tangent

Oklahoma County District Judge Bill Graves has denied at least two women, Christie Harvey and¬†Angela Ingram, their requests to legally change their names. Why? Because he’s an anti-trans bigot. Jesus, DNA and “fraudulent purposes” also figure into his inane ruling, in some obscure way. To compound the cruel bullshit, The Oklahoman’s news site refers to Harvey and Ingram by their birth names and masculine pronouns.

Furthermore, the article reports that Ingram goes by Angela in her social circle. She also carries a purse and wears a bra. Well, I nearly fell over from shock when I heard those details. I mean…can you imagine someone’s friends calling her by her name?! And a purse? How odd! I’ve never even conceived of a modern white bourgeois woman in the US using one of those. And what about this “bra” thing? She must be conforming to the ubiquitous societal expectation that all women in the modern US should wear elasticated garments that restrain and support their breasts. Can you even imagine a woman in this culture doing things that most women in this culture do? Why would that even happen? I can barely wrap my brain around it. It makes no sense!

Wow, if the author of that article thinks that Ingram’s underwear is news, he is not only perpetuating the objectification and sexualization of trans women, but he’s also seriously underestimating his readers’ capacity for understanding and empathy.

Someone’s jealous…

Someone’s jealous… published on 2 Comments on Someone’s jealous…

On the off-topic section of the MWD board, a repainter of 1:6 figs asked why some people “hated” repaints. Most of the respondents replied that they loved repaints, naysayers be damned. The only truly negative comment came from one “Daniel Wickson” who wrote:

Lack of artistic talent translates into any medium even lil’ dollies At least yours aren’t yarn haired tr*****s.

I starred out the slur that he used for trans people. >:(

Given that my subtitle on that forum is “Transgender[izer]” and that LHF featured several characters with yarn hair, as well as trans characters [but no trans characters with yarn hair], I strongly suspect that the poster was referring to me and my dollies. ^_^

He’s just jealous ’cause he lacks my imagination.

Apparently we need to know Caster Semenya’s hormone levels STAT!

Apparently we need to know Caster Semenya’s hormone levels STAT! published on 3 Comments on Apparently we need to know Caster Semenya’s hormone levels STAT!

On Saturday, June Thomas wrote a Slate blog post speculating about why South African runner Caster Semenya did not win gold in the women's 800 meters. Could she have purposely not run her best? Who gives a flying fork?

Naturally, because the media is hung up on these things, any mention of Semenya must include reference to her humiliating debacle in 2009, when the International Association of Athletics Federations self-appointed gender police subjected her to intrusive testing and a temporary ban from competition because she was too awesome for them to handle. There's been all sorts of speculation about the results of the tests — OMG what does Caster Semenya have in her pants the world HAS to know?!?!?!!??! — but Semenya refuses to dignify this bull hooey with a direct response.

Thomas encourages Semenya to discuss the results of the IAAF's tests. While acknowledging that Semenya's physical and psychological abuse at the hands of the IAAF was "humiliating" and that the people who gossip are "nosey" [sic], Thomas seems to think that Semenya has only 2 options. First, she can hide forever. Second, she can tell the world in excruciating detail all about her hormonal levels, her reproductive organs, her external genitalia, et hoc genus omne.

I vote for option 3 — ignoring people like Thomas and the self-appointed gender police. Gender variant people like Semenya do not owe the gender homogenous masses anything. Gender variant people do not have publically available bodies that anyone can check out and see what's inside; they aren't library books! People are way too hung up on policing gender, and Semenya's public response to the IAAF's abuse would grant power and legitimacy to their invasive crapola. Jesus Christ, it's not that hard. Anyone who identifies as a woman should be allowed to compete as a woman against other women, and she should not have to drop trou every time she does something impressive.

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.

No! You can’t use that word!

No! You can’t use that word! published on 2 Comments on No! You can’t use that word!

Do you have body integrity identity disorder? Well, that’s neither here nor there, since I really don’t care about your BIID.

I do care, however, when you start calling yourselves “transabled” and organizing your whole identities around the supposition that your experiences are analogous to those of people who are trans or who have disabilities.

First of all, you don’t get to use the word “transabled.” By doing so, you appropriate the terminology of the trans rights movement and disability rights movement. You dismiss the lived experiences and struggles of trans and/or disabled people by using their vocabulary as your metaphor. You’re therefore objectifying and dehumanizing trans and/or disabled people. You’re perpetuating discrimination and prejudice against these populations. Go find your own terms.

Second of all, neither do you get to claim that your oppression is like that of trans and/or disabled people. When you are murdered for your state of being and society finds your killer[s] understandable, justifiable, sympathetic and symptomatic of an entire social program that dehumanizes people like you with the goal of eliminating them, then we might be able to talk. Otherwise, you need to understand that being different does not axiomatically entail being oppressed.

[Prompted by a similar takedown on Womanist Musings.]

S/He by Jesse Green: oh God, it’s so HARD being cis!

S/He by Jesse Green: oh God, it’s so HARD being cis! published on 1 Comment on S/He by Jesse Green: oh God, it’s so HARD being cis!

New York magazine has a feature about families with trans children. The subhead summarizes the article's angle: "Parents of transgender children are faced with a difficult decision, and it’s one they have to make sooner than they ever imagined." In other words, when their child announces a trans identity, how do the parents respond? Do they give their child anti-puberty Lupron shots? Do they research surgery on secondary sex characteristics before 18? Do they support their child's social transition at school and elsewhere? Or do they hold back?

When you think about it, this is nothing new. Parents, children have been deviating from your expectations from the beginning of time!! This feature articulates an age-old tension that just happens to manifest around gender identity. In pretty much every case, the best resolution for this tension is for the parents to accept their children as they are, not as they wish their children to be. For our purposes, this means that parents of trans children should respect their children's trans identities and support them in their transitions to the extent that they are able [with the recognition that drugs and surgery are a) not for all, b) pants-wettingly expensive and c) of course not covered by our wonderful patchwork insurance options in this country].

Frankly, I don't care about this story. It's just another whine about how hard it is for cis people to accept trans people, with the added unequal power dynamics of the cis people being parents to the trans people, who are their kids.

Get over yourselves, cis people; you're on the losing side of history. Trans people have always existed and will continue to exist, and your hand-wringing will avail you nothing. Sit down; shut up, and accept it.

Out of perverse curiosity…

Out of perverse curiosity… published on No Comments on Out of perverse curiosity…

…I listened to a podcast of Dan Savage’s on which Ira Glass [of This American Life fame] was a guest, and oh my God…it was like a symphony of irritatingness. Two self-congratulatory, smug, recursive assholes thinking they’re the wittiest thing since [insert really witty thing here]. Dan Savage is quickly becoming a so-bad-it’s-good pleasure.

Reasons that Dan Savage is a shit.

Reasons that Dan Savage is a shit. published on No Comments on Reasons that Dan Savage is a shit.

Dan Savage, a gay male advice columnist who writes for the Seattle Stranger, has some cachet among liberals/Democrats/progressives as being queer-friendly, pro-kink and open-minded, but he still has lots of privilege as a thin, white, rich, cis, married, U.S. man. I’ve collected several criticisms of his advice which should make you think long and hard before calling this columnist helpful, progressive and open-minded. In no particular order…here they are…
Continue reading Reasons that Dan Savage is a shit.

A review of the first episode of Work It

A review of the first episode of Work It published on No Comments on A review of the first episode of Work It

Earlier I wrote about ABC's new sitcom Work It, in which two men impersonate women to get jobs at a sales company. I just caught the first episode of this dung heap on Hulu. I am here to report that I stand by my earlier comments about all the show's prejudices and to report that it was, besides being offensive on many levels, poorly written with unfunny jokes, unoriginal characters and lazy execution.

A few especially stupid and offensive moments stood out for me after my cursory viewing:

1. In an early conversation in a bar, the laid-off protagonist commiserates with his two laid-off friends, a mechanic and a shuttle driver. The shuttle driver describes the recession as a "mancession," insists that women are "taking over" and predicts that soon men will only be kept around as "sex slaves" if women continue asserting their dominance. This character is factually incorrect; there is no mancession; women are not taking over, and the joke about "sex slaves" makes light of sexual abuse and rape. While the shuttle driver clearly serves as the "stupid comic relief friend" archetype, no one corrects him or calls him out on his behavior, thus reinforcing the idea that his false interpretation of events is acceptable.

2. While I have detailed earlier how the entire show is transphobic, one especially transphobic moment caught my eye. In a flashback scene where the protagonist, now impersonating a woman, tells the mechanic "how he does it," a saleswoman is shown at a counter. She sees someone off-camera and screams and recoils. The camera then shows the protagonist with makeup all over his face [including lipstick on his teeth, blech], imploring the saleswoman, "Help me, please…help me!" The laugh track resounds.

Now is the saleswoman [and the laugh track] laughing at a generally bad application of makeup or a man in drag? It doesn't really matter because the show is mocking the protagonist, who dares to "look bad" in makeup. The show thus looks down on the protagonist's gender presentation in that scene, allowing the interpretation that the saleswoman shrieks because of the "incongruity" in a stereotypically masculine-presenting person wearing makeup, a stereotypically feminine accessory. The rigid implicit heteronormative bias of the saleswoman's shocked scream militates against anyone who dares to deviate from traditional stereotypical masc/fem gender presentations.

I really hate this show. It's bad, and it's offensive.

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 Alter.net. 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.

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