Category Archives: Undead sexist cliches

Undead sexist cliches: Women who orbit men (#SFWApro)

So I was thinking about the movie Paycheck some more and then I also started thinking of this post about strong female characters by my friend and fellow writer Elizabeth Berger.

Liz’s post is about the need to have female characters who are more than just strong and heroic, they need flaws and distinctive personality traits (I’ve written my own thoughts about female protagonists here). But Paycheck reminded me of another problem with supposedly strong fictional women: for all their strength and ability (whatever their talents may be), a lot of them are just there to fall in love with the hero.

Uma Thurman’s biologist in the movie is presumably brilliant (CEO of Evil Aaron Eckhart is the kind of villain who hires the best), and the climax proves she can handle herself in a fight. But personality wise, the only drive or goal she has is to be in love with Ben Affleck. They knew each other, fell for each other, but his mind has been wiped of the past three years’ memory so he’s lost to her.

This is, of course, hardly a new idea. It’s a variation on the Bechdel Test—does the movie have more than two women? Do they talk about anything but their boyfriends?—does the heroine have a life that doesn’t orbit around the male lead? Does she have career goals that disappear as soon as she falls in love? Is she only there to love the hero and prove he’s a real man? Or to inspire him and motivate him by getting brutally murdered (known as “fridging” from one example back in the 1990s Green Lantern series)?

It’s not a lot to ask, but a lot of writing fails the test anyway.

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Filed under Movies, Undead sexist cliches, Writing

Let’s talk politics!

First off, here we have a handful of right-wingers who are attempting to milk Gamergate for whatever notoriety they can get out of it.

Echidne and Jill Filipovic look at claims that more American men are raped than women, based on the number of prison rapes. As the two posts point out, this takes a lot of statistical fudging, such as ignoring that “prisoners are raped” is not the same as “men are raped” (it happens to women too).

And I think it’s telling that the issue is not framed as prison rape but as men raped—i.e., men have it worse than women so stop all that blathering about rape. This is not a novel approach: men’s rights activist Warren Farrell devoted a chapter of one of his books to all the things that happen to men that are just as bad as getting raped (getting fired is like getting raped! Getting c-word teased is as traumatic as rape! [I have been fired and I have been teased—which I quite enjoyed—and I think Farrell's full of it]). The point is not to fix the problem of prison rape but just to shut feminists up.

•A National Review writer is unsurprisingly shocked that the issue is “are people who refuse blacks or Latinos service racist?” (not a direct quote) rather than “how can the government tell me who I can or cannot serve?” Except as LGM points out, the norm under English common law and later American was that anyone who offers food or a bed for the night couldn’t refuse a legitimate customer. So the idea of turning people away was an aberration.

•George Will asks why the Democrats think anyone might take away women’s right to use birth control when it’s been legal for decades. As Digby points out at the link, so has abortion—and he has plenty of Repub quotes to show they don’t like birth control much either.

•Government prosecutors not only seized the assets of one Las Vegas gambler, they did it under a secret court seal so there was no public record, and even the victim didn’t know anything about the case.

•The Convention Against Torture bans countries from using torture, even outside their borders. Obama may come out against that part as W did before him. And as detailed here, our government is already violating other provisions: not providing redress for torture victims, keeping information and names of torturers classified, refusing to cooperate with foreign investigations.

•Current federal law bans “disparate impact” in housing: if there’s a pattern where blacks or Latinos don’t get loans to buy homes in Town X, that’s illegal even if the people redlining don’t specifically admit to discrimination. A Supreme Court case may gut that rule.

•Remember how the Gremlins in the movie Gremlins turned evil? One South Carolina Republican says that’s what will happen with gay marriage.

•White people riot in New Hampshire, some throwing cans at cops. Some people notice the difference in the police response to Michael Brown.

•LGM looks at right-wing enthusiasm for suffering and how it builds character. Why don’t we have more Americans like the the cannibals of the Donner Party (yes, William Bennett did express great admiration for them, also for the suicidal military mess called the charge of the Light Brigade)? This post discusses other conservatives who think a happy, thriving economy and easy living are bad, bad, bad.

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Filed under Politics, Undead sexist cliches

New And column out

A look at the way some forced-birthers see miscarriages as equally suspicious to a woman standing over her child’s body with a gun. I mean, sure, she says she didn’t kill the child, but hmm …

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Filed under Nonfiction, Politics, Undead sexist cliches, Writing

Sex and Sexism Links

In South Carolina, one man shot and killed a teenager in the mistaken belief he was shooting at the female bullies who’d threatened his daughter. He got off using Stand Your Ground.  However when a woman stabs her abusive boyfriend in self-defense, state prosecutors object that this is a total distortion of the Stand Your Ground principle and shouldn’t be allowed.

•A long, detailed look at the aggrieved mindset and supposed issues behind Gamergate (which I’ve written about before), which the author sees as stemming from the same resentments that fuel the Tea Party. Echidne adds some thoughts.

•California law now requires colleges dealing with rape/harassment accusations to use a standard of affirmative consent—someone has to give assent, even if it’s non-verbal. This freaks a lot of people out, but Jessica Valenti says it’s not going to make relationships that complicated. LGM looks at some legal issues. That blog also tackles another debate over consent.

I will say, contrary to Valenti, that it’s quite possible to think someone’s into you and interested in making love (or making out or whatever) when they’re not. I wasn’t very good at reading sexual signals at all (I can think of a few times in college they flew right over my head) and I suspect I’m not alone. But there’s no way that would have justified me jumping someone because I was sure they wanted it. Double-checking, getting a clear go signal, I think these are good things.

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Filed under Politics, Undead sexist cliches

Link post for good reasons

To wit, TYG and I went out to dinner on impulse, to one of our favorite restaurants in the area (Sage, vegetarian Persian cooking). Then I had to finish up work, and now I’m spent, so …
•The deficit is going down, but the deficit hawks who used to worry about it are still complaining because dammit, Obama hasn’t cut Social Security like he was supposed to!
•A new frontier in anti-abortion legislation: Tennessee (in response to judges who say abortion rights are protected by the Constitution) is considering a constitutional amendment that says absolutely nothing in the rest of the Constitution gives abortion rights any protection. Though of course, the legislators backing the amendment say that no, they wouldn’t try to ban abortion or anything …
•A sub-shop chain (Jimmy Johns) has a non-compete clause in its worker contracts that says they can never work for pretty much anyone who sells sandwiches if the restaurant competes with any Jimmy Johns anywhere.
•Helaine Olen (of Pound Foolish) traces the history of the myth that if we just stopped buying coffee at Starbucks in the mornings, we’d all be rich. The real problem, she says, is that the cost of things we have to have (gas, shelter, etc.) has gone up so much.
•Mitt Romney once promised that by the end of his presidential term, unemployment would be down to 6 percent. It didn’t take Obama that long.
•A couple of years ago, a U.S. Park Ranger tasered a man for walking his dog without a leash. The man sued in court and just won.
•NC Senate candidate Thom Tillis supported a resolution condemning slavery. This attracted flak from the right wing, apparently because they see it as the first step to paying reparations for slavery. So Tillis’ has an explanation: welfare is really reparations for slavery, so in condemning slavery he’s fighting the welfare state or something.

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Filed under economics, Politics, Undead sexist cliches

Oppression, tyranny and other fun stuff

A pastor insists Christianity is hideously oppressed by gay rights advocates, though he comes up short of any examples.
•Right-to-life advocates for most of my memory either insist they’re protecting women and avoid the discussion of criminal penalties. As conservatives continue to shift rightwards, right-wingers are starting to call for murder prosecutions.
•Twitter takes on the Justice Department over the network’s right to talk about what requests for information the government has made of Twitter (right now Twitter can’t even say No, We Haven’t Been Asked).
•Unsurprisingly, now that we have a military dictatorship again, the US government is very happy.
•A stock right-wing excuse for supporting military regimes is that if we let left-wingers takeover things will be even worse. Looking at Latin American history, a couple of bloggers say no and no again.
•Giving police a back-door key to get into iPhone and Android systems will make them more vulnerable to anyone else who tries hacking them.
•A look at how long the accused have to wait for a trial in Mississippi (though parts of New York City’s courts have the same problem, though I can’t find the link for it now).
•Back in 2008, nine people died from contaminated peanut butter. Three executives were charged with knowingly shipping the tainted food and they’ve been convicted on various charges.
•There’s a voter registration drive targeting blacks in Ferguson Missouri. Conservatives consider registering black people to vote is inappropriate.

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Filed under Politics, Undead sexist cliches

Game Changer

The Supreme Court’s decision not to review several cases striking down gay marriage bans makes gay weddings legal in five states (and will eventually affect several more, including North Carolina). Scott Lemieux argues it’s a very good outcome, as there’s no guarantee which way the court would have ruled.

Yes, I think Amazon workers should be paid while they’re standing in line for security checks.

•I’ve blogged about it before, but some male atheists are as sexist as any patriarchal right-wing Christian

•Norway decided not to bid on the Winter Olympics. Among the International Olympic Committee’s requirements for a bid were that Norway create separate lanes on any roads the IOC would use and keep all other drivers out of them.

•In 2012, Floridian Michael Dunn shot a teenager he said threatened to shoot him after Dunn complained about the rap music in the teen’s car. Dunn claimed self-defense and got a hung jury. Now he’s been retried and found guilty. In case you’re wondering, no other witnesses saw a gun and no gun was ever found.

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Filed under Politics, Undead sexist cliches