Category Archives: Politics

Undead sexist fictional cliches: nothing’s worse for a woman than losing her looks (#SFWApro)

wonderwoman221This Wonder Woman story (cover by Ernie Chan, all rights with current holder) is a textbook example of one fictional cliche, that the most horrible punishment for a woman is to lose her looks.

Here Diana is overseeing a diplomatic conference for female politicians which turns out to be an exclusive resort because the owner has access to some miracle face cream and all the women want some.  This is actually a scheme by Diana’s old foe Dr. Cyber, who’s secretly plotting to destroy the women’s faces (why should they look good when she doesn’t?) and then decides to transplant her arch-enemy’s face onto her own, regaining her beauty.

Wanting revenge for a disability or handicap is of course an old disability cliche, and it’s worse than usual as used here. Even though male characters sometimes get the “I am scarfaced, I must hate” treatment, the emphasis society puts on women’s looks makes it very sexist. It reinforces the idea that the most important thing about women is their looks; feminists, for example, can’t be taken seriously because they’re ugly, frumpy and don’t shave their legs.

I suppose you could argue that precisely because of that social pressure, women would be scared about losing their looks, but in most cases I see, it seems less about social pressure and more about Well Of Course It’s The Worst Thing That Could Happen. In the classic-Trek episode And the Children Shall Lead, for instance, Uhura’s worst fear is becoming old and ugly rather than, say, failing the Enterprise; Chekhov, by contrast, is shown struggling to steer the ship to safety through a tunnel of death. In the 1970s Dr. Strange TV movie, the demon bad guy punishes his henchwoman, Morgan leFay (Jessica Walters) by aging her rather than, say, eternal torment in hellfire. Without looks, it’s implied, these women have nothing.

It’s particularly annoying with Cyber, who was a world-class crimelord when she first encountered Diana. It’s not as if she relied on her looks to gain power; most people didn’t even know she was a woman. It’s hard to imagine a story where after Spider-Man smashes his crime syndicate, the Kingpin is ultimately pissed because Spider-Man scarred his face or made him put on weight (even though Fisk has been shown as sensitive about growing up fat). The Silver Age origin where Luthor hates Superman because Supes made him bald is routinely mocked (even though that distorts the original story). Make a woman ugly though? Of course she wants revenge!

Writer Marty Pasko gives Cyber another motivation this issue, but it doesn’t help. A flashback reveals that when she first locked horns with Diana, Cyber was in love; when the man overheard Cyber ordering Diana Prince killed, he walked out in horror at her ruthlessness. So Diana not only cost Cyber her face, she cost her a boyfriend!!! It doesn’t help that as drawn here, Cyber’s delivering the kill order right in front of the guy, which makes her look like an idiot (as he apparently didn’t know at the time what a deadly woman she was).

The story is, unfortunately a mass of undead sexist cliches.

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Republicans and white supremacy, plus other political links

I’ve already written about the delusion liberals created Trump. Astonishingly instead of admitting I’ve conclusively settled the question, some conservatives keep insisting we did (because we failed to be nice to conservative white people—admittedly an argument I’ve heard on the left too). By contrast, Avik Roy looks at how the GOP has been siding with resentful whites for years and ignoring minority issues (“If you’re a white gun owner, I get it: you’re legitimately concerned that Hillary Clinton will appoint a liberal to the Supreme Court and gut the Second Amendment. But if you’re a black gun owner, you’re legitimately concerned that a President Donald Trump will put your life in danger, because Trump will be inclined to side with cops in every dispute between them and you.”). And as Digby points out, many right-wingers think the black gun owner has it coming (see here too). Although FAIR catches multiple media reports that show Donald Trump is really like some foreign person, not American at all.

Plus we get Megan McArdle arguing that Democrats are just as extreme as Trump on immigration, only in a different way.

•Speaking of race, North Carolina legislatures specifically cited black early voting as a reason to cut back early voting, one of the things which led to a court striking down my state’s new voter-ID laws (the court also found that the emphasis on using a driver’s license was because a lot of black voters don’t have one).

•I’ve written before about the bullshit claim that prosecuting rape is an attack on men. Now some accused college rapists (and some who’ve been cleared by the school) are trying to make it legal, charging that rape investigations discriminate against men, which is illegal. One Vassar student, for example, claims that the fact more men get charged with sexual assault shows a clear bias in the system.

•Trump’s son has weighed on on what he and his father would think if Malinka Trump were sexually harassed: She should a)get a new job and b)she’s so strong it wouldn’t happen.

Mindless ranting from “men going their own way.”

•Comcast argues that an FCC proposal making it harder for Internet and cable providers to use customers’ private data is bad for customers

•As I’ve mentioned before, the sovereign citizens movement, which rejects federal authority, has been tied to more murders than Black Lives Matter, but without drawing the same outrage. David Neiwert looks at the body count.

•A judge says Uber’s contract clause requiring customers go to arbitration instead of suing doesn’t stop customers suing.

•Alabama regulators want craft brewers to keep track of the data (name, address, phone) of anyone buying beer from them.

•Muslim passengers claim they were removed from plane flights because the flight attendants were uncomfortable. For example one passenger said Allah!

•I’m not surprised that Asatru followers (worshippers of the Norse gods), like other religions are prone to argue the gods support their politics.

•Surveillance technology, a popular American export. And apparently it may even be possible to track us digitally by our walking.

•A Georgia resident who filmed up a woman’s skirt without her knowledge can’t be convicted under state privacy laws.

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Filed under Politics, Undead sexist cliches

Do spoilers violate copyright? And other copywright/trademark links (#SFWApro)

AMC argues that if one fan group goes ahead and releases a big spoiler for The Walking Dead, it violates copyright.

•The Navy allegedly broke copyright by installing a German company’s software on hundreds of computers without paying for it.

•Park City residents are concerned about a local resort’s proposal to trademark the name “Park City” — even though the resort denies it, what if it someday decides to ban other businesses from using the name?

•If Amazon loses the right to stream a video, even a video you’ve bought might disappear.

•A record company sued Vimeo, claiming Vimeo employees saw copyrighted music content on the site and did nothing. A judge has ruled that even if the employees watched the video, that doesn’t mean they could or should recognize the music so the plaintiffs lose.

•Google argues that by restricting search results to exclude “torrent” or “piracy”-named sites, it reduces digital piracy.

•The creator of the Iron Man theme song from the 1960s ‘toon will get his day in court: his suit charging Sony and Ghostface Killah violated his copyright on the song is moving forward.

•The Electronic Freedom Foundation is suing to challenge the legal restrictions on circumventing DRM protections that block copying DVDs and such. The gist of the lawsuit, if I’m following correctly, is that the law unfairly and irrationally restricts copyings that would qualify as fair use.

•Some recording artists aren’t happy versions of their songs were used at the Republican National Convention, but it’s legal.

•Some years back, photographer Carol Highsmith donated thousands of photographs to the Library of Congress to be freely used by the public. According to a lawsuit filed by Highsmith, Getty (one of those pay-for-photo-use websites, which offers some of her photos to customers) allegedly threatened legal action against her for using her own photos without their permission. And Zuma Press is also suing, saying Getty has posted 47,000 images it had no right to.

•McDonalds has been accused of ripping off someone’s animation work.

•In the same vein: what to do if a magazine or website swipes your work, altering it just enough to avoid copyright infringement.

•Stephen Colbert discovered recently that his on-screen personality is the intellectual property of Comedy Network. His response: create the character’s twin brother for a new gig.

•Whole Foods wanted to patent the slogan “world’s healthiest grocery store” but the Patent Office says it won’t fly.

•Proposed changes to copyright law would, for example, require that once a website receives a takedown order for alleged copyright infringement, it would have to see to it nobody reposts the material. Internet Archive says bad idea.

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This column is huuuge! Trump and convention-related links.

Given Trump’s enthusiasm for punishing and intimidating his critics and opponents — like getting a security analyst fired for correctly predicting one Trump casino would flop — President Trump’s Justice Department could be a scary thing. However a legal blogger argues the best bet is for principled attorneys (and other members of the bureaucracy) to stand their ground.

•So is Trump’s talk about not protecting the Baltic states from Russia related to his financial ties to Russia’s wealthy and well-connected? As someone who thinks our constant worries about Russia are a leftover of the Cold War, it’s annoying Trump can even make peace with Russia look bad.

•So after Bill Clinton preaches Hilary’s virtues to the DNC, the right-wing punditry reacts by asking who could possibly want to hear stories about her? As noted at the link, if Clinton hadn’t said anything, they’d be discussing how that just proves their marriage is a sham.

•Bill O’Reilly protests Michelle Obama’s reference to slaves building the White House: they were well-treated slaves, dammit!

•Julian Assange of Wikileaks argues that Trump is preferable to Clinton because Trump is unpredictable. Scott Lemieux points out at the link that Trump’s quite predictable and not in a good way.

•Trump encourages Russia to hack the Democrats emails. I look forward to the huge right-wing outcry over a US presidential candidate colluding with a foreign power …oh, who am I kidding?

•Considering the GOP has been hitting the racial dog-whistles for years, I find the idea Trump is a radical break from party tradition dubious; as countless critics have said, he’s just more open about it. Likewise, while saying gays should be safe from Islamic terrorism is better than some conservatives, it’s hardly redirecting the party (whose platform calls for overturning the Obergefell gay marriage decision) towards inclusion.

•” “the only thing left was running for President. If he could run for emperor of the world, he would.”—Tony Schwartz, ghostwriter of Trump’s The Art of the Deal, in an interview.

•Remember how Trump is supposed to be able to take it as well as dish it out? Now he’s whining about how mean the Democratic convention was to him.

•The North Carolina GOP (of course, it would be my state) blasts Tim Kaine for wearing a foreign flag on his lapel. But it’s actually a Blue Star flag signifying he has family in the military (the party did apologize).

•Scott Adams of Dilbert claims that by celebrating women, the DNC lowers men’s testosterone and makes them miserable, which they’ll blame on Clinton. Given his views on gender, including that banning rape is like banning lions eating zebras, I’m not that surprised (as We hunted the Mammoth puts it at the first link, he’s turning into a living Men’s Rights subreddit comment.


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A week of falling short (#SFWApro)

For the first time since I started rewriting Southern Discomfort, I fell short of my word-goals for the month, about 3,000 words. That’s not a disaster: I was shooting for 60,000 words after three months and I’m ahead of that, because of how much extra I turned in at the start.

The main obstacle is that as I move into the finish of the story, I’m finding a)I haven’t thought out the details as well as I thought; b)a lot of the details don’t work. I had to rewrite a couple of chapters this week, and the actual rewritten wordage would more than make up the difference if I were counting it (but I’m basing it on total length of the manuscript, not total words typed). This next stretch is obviously going to be tough, but I’m hopeful I’ll have the draft finished by the end of summer.

On the plus side, I rewrote A Famine Where Abundance Lies and I really think it’s progressing. I emailed TYG a copy so she can see where I’m off-base (or on) in my portrayal of the IT aspect. I also finally rewrote Oh the Places You’ll Go! again and I think it’s crossed the border from “a mess” to “needs a lot of work but there’s a story there.” The key was giving both the protagonists a kid so that both kids are working with the other mother and wondering “Damn, why can’t my mom be this awesome?” It’s a familiar trope and I’m not at all satisfied with the resolution, but I can tell it’s the right way to go. On the other hand I tried reworking It’s Never Jam Today and didn’t get anywhere. I’m not giving up—I know from experience early drafts are unworkable—but I’m not feeling positive about this one right now.

I decided to go ahead and begin a rewrite of Good Morning Starshine. I think much as I liked the previous draft, the rewrite may be difficult: like the early drafts of Southern Discomfort it may be a little light on plot in favor of witty banter. But for various reasons I think it fits the zeitgeist right now, which is rare for me, so I think I’ll forge ahead.

And I’m done with rewriting Impossible Takes a Little Longer. Now it’s just a matter of finding somewhere to submit (I have somewhere in mind, but I’d like to research their books first and see if mine is really a good fit).

Plus I submitted my latest And column, and it’s out. The topic is a recent blog post by George Lakoff arguing that Democrats can easily lure Trump voters to support Clinton instead.

As this is the last week of the month, I suspect I’m going to fall short on my July writing goals. However, I’m pleased with the work I did get done. And I once again had a really good weekend. I think the key is prioritizing fun stuff and fitting chores in around that, instead of vice versa. It’s particularly relaxing to set aside a big chunk of time for reading, which is hard to do during the week.

And when all else fails, there’s always Plushie and Trixie (and TYG, but she doesn’t like me posting photos of her).



Filed under Impossible Takes a Little Longer, Nonfiction, Personal, Politics, Southern Discomfort, Story Problems, Time management and goals, Writing

There’s never a shortage of material when I write about sexism.

Hilary Clinton is now the first woman nominated by one of the Big Two parties for president, which is awesome. But no, it hasn’t created a post-sexism world:

•Echidne looks at one argument for not voting Clinton: she’s ugly. Which is, of course, a ridiculous standard for judging a potential president (even if she wasn’t up against Trump, who is hardly studly), but of course, Clinton’s a woman, so for a lot of people it’s perfectly logical (because if feminists are ugly, obviously they can’t be right). And here we have actor Scott Baio endorsing Trump as someone who can “attack Hilary.”

•Mike Pence is Trump’s VP. His anti-abortion record includes banning insurance from paying for abortion costs; proposed a bill that would only allow federal funding to cover a rape-related abortion if the abortion was “forcible”; and recently signed a bill requiring all remains from abortions or miscarriages receive burial or cremation. And he’s generally a sexist, for example declaring Mulan shows why women shouldn’t serve in the military (because if women are around, men can’t control themselves).

•A Pakistani woman dissects the recent honor killing of celebrity Qandeel Baloch, honor killing in general and the hypocrisy underlying it.

•The Atlanta Journal-Constitution found hundreds of cases of physicians sexually harassing patients. Very few of them led to punishment from the state medical board, and the punishment was often ineffective (the doctor simply applies for a license in Florida or Alabama and starts over).

•The recent failed coup in Turkey seems to have sparked a surge of sexism.

•According to Trump’s campaign chair, women’s big political issue is that their husband can’t cover their bills.

•Saudi Arabia requires every woman to have a male guardian who has to sign off on travel, getting a passport and countless other decisions. Even though the law no longer requires guardians must approve a woman getting a job, the law doesn’t stop businesses requiring a guardian’s OK, for instance.

•The recent charges against Roger Ailes as a sexual harasser have led to several people asking why Gretchen Carlson didn’t just quit her job at Fox News. At the link, Digby explains why women stay quiet. Or consider the DC Comics example: DC’s response to sexual harassment allegations against editor Eddie Berganza was to keep women out of the Superman offices when he was wroking there. And Megan McArdle discusses how easy it is for men to assume it doesn’t happen (much as I usually loathe McArdle, most of this piece was good).

Now, some more upbeat stuff.

•The Safe Bar program trains bartenders to prevent sexual assault.

•Designing cities with women’s needs in mind.

Newsweek recently ran an article on the founders of the IT industry, focusing entirely on men. Backchannel looks at the women they didn’t mention.

•Jim Hines looks at how we’d write about men if we wrote about them like women.

•And here’s a photo of Aaron Douglas’ oil painting Harriet Tubman from the North Carolina Museum of Art. Because how better to conclude than with a painting about an amazing woman? (photo is mine, please give credit if you use it).

harriet tubman

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Filed under Politics, Undead sexist cliches

Gay marriage and other political links

Slacktivist looks at a recent Christianity Today article insisting that refusing to serve gays is nothing like refusing to serve blacks 60 years ago—that was racism and hate, anti-gay stuff is about staying true to Biblical principles. Except, as noted at the link, segregationists were very clear that black and white were separated by God (Jerry Falwell, one of the landmark leaders of the religious right, got into politics because of integration. He was against it).

This ties in, at least in my eyes to the Christian Science Monitor’s series on the clash between Christian wedding vendors and gay couples. It includes quotes in various segments from Southern Baptist spokesperson Al Mohler and a spokesperson for the United Pentecostalist Church on the importance of religious freedom and not forcing people to compromise their beliefs. Even though I don’t agree with this, I don’t think is an unreasonable stance—but it sure is similar to the arguments made under Jim Crow and even today against desegregating (a friend of mine was warned by her pastor that dating across the color line was absolutely anti-Bible).

And while Mohler and other members of the SBC are quoted about rights and diversity, they don’t have any respect for either. Mohler (and the SBC) have opposed same-sex marriage, regardless of whether florists and bakers are forced to provide services; the SBC last I checked doesn’t support any rights for gays (to have sex, to serve, etc.). That doesn’t invalidate their support of the wedding vendors, but I think it’s important to remember the only religious freedom they’re fighting for is that of people who believe like them.

It’s particularly telling in the arguments that county clerks shouldn’t have to issue licenses if they personally don’t accept same-sex marriage due to “sincerely held religious beliefs” as in one proposed Mississippi bill. For the life of me I can’t see any excuse for refusing to do the duty your taxpayers are paying you for. And why single out same-sex marriage over all the other things people might object to (interracial, Catholic getting a second marriage, marriage outside your faith, atheist marriage)? As I’ve said elsewhere, religious freedom doesn’t guarantee your right to get out of anything you object to.

All that being said, death threats against businesses that refuse to provide wedding services are not an acceptable political tactic.

In other news:

•Police shoot a number of mentally ill people every year because they’re often the first responders called in to deal with the problem. Slacktivist looks at possible solutions. And in response to the Charles Kinsey shooting last week, slacktivist suggests police give mandatory first aid to anyone they shoot.

•Conservatives are shocked and appalled that anyone would make jokes about abortion on the pro-choice side.

•Some members of Congress are wondering about the impact of AirBnB and whether it squeezes out regular renters.

•I’ve blogged before about the news reports that most farm-to-table restaurateurs in Tampa are lying about their food. I’m not surprised this is common elsewhere.

•The CDC reports a growth in drug-resistant gonorrhea.

•Although Ohio is an open-carry state, protesters at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland will not be allowed to carry toy guns or umbrellas with sharp tips, just real guns.

•Shell-shocked anti-Trump Republicans begin reconciling themselves to the candidate. I particularly liked one suggestion that Republicans should back off calls for tax cuts for the rich, but only temporarily.

•There’s a push for Uber drivers to unionize. Sounds good to me. And despite it’s success, it’s currently bleeding money (one suggestion in comments at the first link is that they’re waiting until self-driving cars let them dispense with the human factor).

•Paul Ryan didn’t roll out his “Better Way” at a country club so (according to the Wall Street Journal) he must be serious about helping the poor. Think Progress mocks the people who think Ryan is a serious-policy guy.

•There’s dying for honor and then there’s honor killings in which someone else makes the call for you (and by “you” I mean women).

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