Category Archives: Undead sexist cliches

Undead sexist cliches: It’s not the looks, it’s the confidence

A post by Foz Meadows discusses how women on screen have to look fashionable even if their characters aren’t: “Their hair is long, because our cultural beauty standards privilege women with long hair, and invariably worn loose, kept in place with spray and sheer force of will; their clothes are expensive and form-fitting, because we’re meant to admire their aspirationally well-toned bodies, which we can’t do if they’re wearing loose things or layers; their shoes have high heels, because we consider that fashionable, even for women who spend all day on their feet; their makeup is immaculate, their nails are manicured, and to me, they look largely like alien creatures, because 90% of the time, there’s a disconnect between who their appearance says they are and what their character is meant to be.”

This got me thinking of another problem with the way women are written in movies (though largely unrelated to Meadows’ point)—the number of rom-coms where the sad, lonely protagonist who can’t get a date is someone strikingly attractive. For example, Janine Garofalo in The Truth About Cats and Dogs or Julia Roberts in the god-awful America’s Sweethearts.

Cats&dogssoundtrackIn both cases, the defense is that this isn’t a movie about looks, it’s a movie about insecurity, and even good-looking people can be insecure. While that is certainly true, I don’t buy it; it seems more a rationale for writing good-looking people (primarily women) into the Plain Jane role.

In Cats and Dogs, for instance (all rights to image with current holder), Garofalo plays a vet with a radio talk show. After handsome Ben Chaplin asks her out, sight unseen, Garofalo has a massive attack of insecurity—how could a hunk like that be interested in a schlub like her?—and decides to do the Cyrano thing, recruiting gorgeous buddy Uma Thurman to step in for her. Hilarity ensues.

I like the film, and Garofalo does a good job playing someone painfully shy, but then comes the scene where she asks Chaplin—who’s insisting he loves Thurman for her mind, not her looks—whether he’d still feel the same if Thurman looked like Garofalo. And this anguished look comes over Chaplin, who clearly doesn’t want to admit that no, he wouldn’t. Which seems to imply that yes, ultimately Garofalo, despite being drop-dead cute, isn’t attractive in this film’s universe. Otherwise the logical response would be “Why wouldn’t I be, you’re drop-dead cute” or at least “Well I prefer blondes, so no,” other than a vague hint that Garofalo doesn’t make the cut.

And of course, there’s the fact that she isn’t dating anyone else. Nobody tries to flirt with her, nobody hits on her, which can’t be explained by a lack of confidence—men do actually hit on attractive-but-shy women—but does fit with the implication she’s just too bland to get laid.

Likewise in America’s Sweethearts, Julia Roberts is supposedly too shy and awkward to find anyone because she’s a former fatty—OMG, she weighed seventy pounds more! And now that she’s shed that unbelievable megatonnage, she’s still to insecure to flirt or put the moves on anyone. But again, the movie accepts that nobody is going to make the first move, which even given she’s hanging out with her sister Catherine Zeta-Jones is hard to believe.

Nor is it easy to believe that a 70-pounds-heavier Roberts would be undatable. So they don’t stop with the weight, the film shows that back in the day, she’s actually frumpy—no sense of style, no idea how to dress to look good or hide her mammoth weight (all these references to her being super-heavy are meant to be sarcastic, just so you know). As one movie critic pointed out, it’s not just that she’s overweight it’s that anyone who lets herself get that repulsively obese obviously has no concept of personal appearance. Again it’s more about looks than about confidence.

So I cry bullshit.

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Separating the genders and other political links

Franklin Graham is shocked, shocked and appalled that Target is no longer separating children’s toys by gender because that’s the same as forcing us into unisex concentration camps or something. And Rachel Held Evans has a few questions for the gender essentialists freaking out about this.

•Paraguay denied a 10-year-old rape victim an abortion. At 10 years old, she had to have a C-section. But he insists he’s really looking out for the interests of the girl.

•IV fertilization clinics destroy lots of embryos, but they aren’t usually subject to the same restrictions as abortion (in fact this Christian news article counts that as a plus). Hmm, could it be because unlike abortion, right-wingers don’t feel that IV lets women have sex without consequences?

•You may have heard about the New York Times portrayal of Amazon as a cutthroat workplace, but if not, click on the link.

•Kristen McQueary of the Chicago Tribune talks about how Hurricane Katrina gave New Orleans a wonderful gift—destroying old buildings, forcing city hall to slash its budget for services, breaking up unions—and wishes the same is true of Chicago. But she’s in no way minimizing the tragedy of Katrina! Erik Loomis recoils.

•Comparisons between government violence in South American and rebel violence are frequently wrong because the crimes aren’t equal. And genocide is not a valid response to a revolution.

•Right-winger Erick Erickson has no problem saying our refusal to demonize Caitlyn Jenner is a cause of mass shootings. But when conservatives get angry at Erickson (for saying Trump is not an acceptable candidate), they’ve gone too far. And no candidate “whose base of support generates rage and hate” could ever take the White House … so I guess Erickson’s not voting Republican.

•A man allegedly murders his ex-girlfriend, her six kids and her husband because the kids weren’t respectful and didn’t honor their father.

•In Rotherham, UK, 1400 young girls were raped, gang-raped or pimped out over a sixteen year period while authorities largely ignored it. Echidne discusses the details, the speculations and the implications at the link.

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Corporations behaving badly (and other political links)

Two for-profit schools that allegedly distorted their career-placement rates and engaged in high-pressure sales tactics have to repay their students $2.3 million.

•A mortgage servicer must pay back $1.5 million in restitution for allegedly not honoring loan modifications arranged by previous servicers, among other misdeeds.

•As part of the Texas AG’s push to get Radio Shack to redeem its gift cards post-bankruptcy, the AG is arguing that Radio Shack sold the cards even when it knew it was going to file bankruptcy.

•Libertarians love to talk about privatization and how it easily beats government services. Here’s some privatization for you.

•Libertarians also discuss how if we just let corporations do anything they want, the free market will stop any abuses. Cynic that I am, I suspect even if Chrysler’s found guilty in this wrongful death case, it won’t be a big enough penalty to stop them doing it again.

•A number of employers try to turn employees into “independent contractors” to save on payroll taxes and workers comp. A new bill would try to limit that.

•AT&T has received a $100 million fine related to the company’s policies of throttling speed for unlimited-data users. The company is unsurprisingly outraged.

•In the wake of Camille Paglia’s blather about how Bill Cosby’s wife drove him to rape women, here’s a piece from 2010 by Amanda Marcotte discussing Paglia and other antifeminist women. And here’s a post of mine on the topic.

•Verizon would really, really like customers to give up their old landlines.

•Conservative magazine the National Review has a long history of showing more tolerance for Nazis than civil rights activists.

•National Review’s Jonah Goldberg pens a column explaining that Mike Huckabee saying Obama’s Iran deal was leading Jews to the gas ovens was obviously not comparing Obama to Hitler (“Hitler didn’t march Jews to the doors of the ovens, but into them.”). And in typically passive-aggressive style, Goldberg then weaves back to argue if Huckabee did compare Obama to Hitler that would be okay anyway.

•Here’s another NR column explaining that black men aren’t targeted by police, it’s just that they’re so much more criminal

•James Fallows looks at the pro- and anti- sides on the Iran deal and suggests that unlike the Iraq war, we give the Pro-peace side the benefit of the doubt.

•Do you want Windows 10 to share your passwords with your friends?

•Chris Christie believes in state’s rights, except when he doesn’t. As to the specific example—he’s promised to enforce federal marijuana laws in Colorado and other legalizing states—does he seriously think there’s that much pro-enforcement sentiment in the body politic?

•John Stewart has actually visited the Obama White House, Ergo, conspiracy!

•Even in the cases of prisoners murdered in the war on terror, there’s been no White House push for an investigation. But they’re not going to let a dangerous criminal like Edward Snowden run free.

•The dubious qualifications of a terrorism expert.

•Apaches ask about the GOP’s support for religious rights when it comes to selling Apache sacred ground?

•Why do men rather than women commit mass shootings?

•An appeals court says a pharmacy has to provide medicine to customers even if the pharmacy owner has a religious objection. I wouldn’t bet on this lasting if it makes it to the Supremes. Echidne touches on this and that unplanned pregnancies are way down among teens.

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Stupidity, thy name is Camille Paglia

Camille Paglia was for some unfathomable reason considered a cutting-edge cultural critic in the 1990s. I tried reading one of her books. I concluded she was an idiot. Like her bizarre assertion that homosexuality is the male’s way to escape women’s seductive power, and Nature doesn’t want men doing that so she created AIDS! Trust me, the original didn’t make sense either.

Then there was her claim that the Virginia Tech shooter back in 2007 could all be blamed on slutty girls who have sex without commitment yet still wouldn’t put out for the killer. No wonder he snapped! Despite which, she still puffs herself up as a pro-sex voice in contrast with all the ice-bitch anti-sex prudish feminists of America.

Her latest (not a direct link) is a Salon interview explaining that Bill Clinton having consensual sex with Monica Lewinsky (or anyone) is just as abusive and contemptible as Bill Cosby being a serial rapist. My god, he didn’t even take Lewinsky on a nice vacation, just had sex in the Oval Office! So the Cosby case going public creates serious problems for Hilary Clinton’s presidential bid because young women won’t tolerate her being married to a man whose consensual sex is really rape.

I did actually go to the piece and once again, it doesn’t make any better sense in the original. Nor does Paglia explaining that Cosby raping women is all the fault of his wife driving him away.

Maybe when I used the word “stupid” I was being too charitable.

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Filed under Politics, Undead sexist cliches

Men with guns and other links

We pay a lot of attention to whether mass shooters are black or Muslim—but as Slacktivist points out, we don’t attach any significance to them all being men. We hunted the mammoth makes a similar point.

•Cheap broadband? Competitive broadband choices? Don’t expect them any time soon.

•Microsoft is accepting requests to remove revenge porn.

•Stewart Parnell owned a peanut-butter company. He knowingly sold salmonella-tainted food and covered up the fact. Nine people died, hundreds were sickened. A life sentence seems fair.

•Military shootings: not just from Muslims.

•Although Neville Chamberlain is frequently condemned for not drawing a line in the sand against Germany, appeasement may have been a good call.

•Citibank must pay $700 million over what the government charges was deceptive marketing of credit protection services (as in offering a free trial that wasn’t free) or charging for services customers didn’t receive or weren’t eligible for.

•Some men’s rights activists speculate the government will tax them for remaining single. And to avoid the 40 percent tax, they’ll have to sleep with fat women, OMG! No, it didn’t make much sense.

•A new study claims that men are rougher on women gamers on multiplayer online games because of evolutionary psychology and the importance of status to finding a mate. Echidne finds some flaws in it. Comments are also good.

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End of June political links

Digby looks at right-wing extremism and finds (this is not news) that it’s a lot more lethal than the Islamic kind. Here she looks at some of the attacks that have fallen under the radar.

•A woman argues that yes, princess stories are feminist.

•Justice Clarence Thomas’ wife is a conservative activist. Does that give him a conflict of interest in some cases?

•The FCC chair says he doesn’t want the agency micro-managing broadband, just regulating it.

•Donald Trump says Mexican immigrants are criminals and rapists. But he adds it’s outrageous to imply there’s any racism in that remark.

•Even if housing discrimination isn’t intentional, people can sue over programs that have a discriminatory effect.

•After the violence of the 1960s and ’70s I was always amazed that years later pundits would pontificate about “What if terrorism ever comes to America?” Here’s an example of the terrorism that was already here.

•Some businesses have claimed that even filling out a “no our insurance does not cover birth control” form violates their faith as it will pave the way for employees to eventually get birth control. An appellate judge says baloney. He makes good sense, though if this hits the Supremes, I’m not betting on them agreeing. Speaking of which, Scott Lemieux of LGM argues that one of the primary reasons gay rights are doing better than reproductive rights is that Justice Arthur Kennedy supports one and not the other. Much good discussion at the link.

•Someone keeps pooping on the warehouse floor. The warehouse owner demands DNA samples to try and identify the source of the fecal matter. A court rules that violates laws on gathering and using genetic information.

•”I have no respect for your ancestors. As far as your ancestors are concerned, I shouldn’t be a law professor at Georgetown. I should be a slave. That’s why they fought that war. I don’t understand what it means to be proud of a legacy of terrorism and violence.”—Paul Butler, Georgetown Law.

•”What should a man do if he is regularly denied sex by his wife? Should he masturbate, visit brothels or should be commit adultery?”—Men’s rights blogger Amartya Talukdar on why it’s wrong to criminalize marital rape (as noted at the link yes, masturbating is actually a better solution than rape). The same writer is also a Holocaust denier.

•In a general rant about people who criticize the police, the head of the Kentucky police union explains it’s the critics who cause problems like Ferguson and they must pay!

•App-based companies such as Uber fight against having their contractors listed as employees. The app-based Instacart shopping services has officially declared its shoppers are company employees.

•Verizon once promised a city-wide FIOS network in New York by 2014. A city audit found it failed massively. Verizon disagrees.

•A VR designer compares his new system to IMAX in an interview. IMAX demands the website take down the interview.

•I’m quite cool with Rush Limbaugh losing audience. At this point, however, there are enough people following in his wake I’m not sure it will affect the political landscape at all.

•A medical-bill collector that allegedly violated federal law in its methods will have to cough up $5.4 million to consumers.

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Political links

New York resident Kalief Browder was accused of a minor theft and spent three years in Rikers without the case coming to trial. A look at the Brooklyn Courts where the right to a speedy trial doesn’t exist.

•Another lone wolf terrorist who isn’t a Muslim.

•Despite the governor’s veto, the state assembly has given magistrates the right to refuse to marry anyone if they have a religious objection. My previous take on this issue here.

•Human Rights Watch reports that Khmer Rouge killers have largely escaped punishment.

•Iowa says being drunk on your front steps is not public drunkenness, so it’s legal.

•A conservative writer is shocked that the proposed new AP History standards assert that, for example, natives struggled to maintain their independence against European colonial forces. Because that’s just leftist groupthink babble or something.

•An appeals court has decided against blocking net neutrality while the suits against it are in play.

•Nobel prize-winner Sir Tim Hunt mansplains women don’t belong in the lab because they cry too much and keep falling in love with the guys. Echidne discusses.

•I’ve mentioned before that liking a movie or book doesn’t mean you want to live like that. Try telling that to Kyle Smith, who insists men love Goodfellas because the characters live the perfect male fantasy. And that women hate it because they know women are irrelevant to the fantasy life except as eye candy, which is the way men want them. And if women had made Goodfellas it would be a disaster because it’d have to be all sensitive and you couldn’t have guys insulting each other or belittling their buddies.

This is a fairly familiar type of What Men Are Like argument. The writer invariably assumes all men are like him, therefore what he likes and dreams of is what all men desire. Except it’s not true that all men are like that (my two best friends are women—not even counting TYG—and I don’t see any appeal in an all-male space). And as for women being so supposedly super-sensitive—as the writer Natalie Angier says, were the people who believe that ever in high school?

•The Justice Department apparently polices the comments section on Reason magazine.

•Libertarians have talked for years of shipping enough true believers into a small state to take over the government. Apparently some men’s rights activists have a similar idea.

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