Category Archives: Undead sexist cliches

All things considered, not a bad week (#SFWApro)

Before Wednesday’s root canal, I’d been guessing how I’d handle the rest of the day: would I feel up for writing? Or just huddle on the couch watching movies with the dogs (Trixie’s a huge fan of classic Italian neorealist cinema)? As it turned out I felt surprisingly good (as I said this morning, Dr. Robinson knows her stuff), but I decided to kick back and do nothing anyway.

Despite which it was a fairly productive week. I finished going over Southern Discomfort, breaking everything down chapter by chapter. Now hopefully I can start to rebuild it — not that it’s a shambles, but there is, unsurprisingly, much improvement needed. We’ll see if the breakdown helps.

I also finished rereading my old steampunk novel Questionable Minds. Other than a few minor changes it looks in great shape. Now I have to start thinking about the self-publishing thing seriously — well, and double-check to see if there are any new publishing houses that have cropped up.

I got my next Screen Rant in (actors who don’t get along with their families).  And I did some research for an older story, Oh, the Places You’ll Go! that needs heavy work. As it deals with maps, I hope reading about them will trigger some ideas.

No short story work, though, and no work on Undead Sexist Cliches. But I did finally make it to the new after-writers’ group bar and hang out. It’s really not that far to go, I’m happy to say.

To celebrate getting through the root canal, here’s footage from an old Crest commercial showing the Cavity Creeps attacking Toothpolis. Commercial here, all rights to image remain with current holder.

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Filed under Nonfiction, Personal, Screen Rant, Short Stories, Southern Discomfort, Time management and goals, Undead sexist cliches, Writing

Assorted links, some of which relate to President Shit-Gibbon.

If the system is rigged in ways that benefit the upper middle classes and higher, is the solution helping the poor compete better? At the link, Rachel Cohen argues no — true, we can’t fit more than one-fifth of America in the top 20 percent, but we can see the bottom 80 percent have adequate food, medical care, etc. LGM adds that it will take active government intervention to balance the scales.

•Russia has tried intervening in US elections before. But this is the first time they’ve done it for the candidate they considered the dangerous, unstable one.

•The Secret Service has to protect Trump Tower, but Trump is charging them higher rent than they can afford. Makes me sympathize with the theory that Trump wants to stick in office because he can make so much damn money as president.

•Trump speculated about launching his own news network or website if he lost the election. He won, but that’s pretty much what he’s doing.

•Remember Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk who refused to validate gay marriages? Her legal fees are $224,000 and the taxpayers are on the hook for it. Her lawyer explains it’s the state’s fault for not letting her refuse.

•The NRA used to whip people up about Clintonbama Coming For Your Guns! Now they’re just whipping people up — perhaps because their sponsors in the gun industry like it when people rush out to buy.

•Kansas Governor Sam Brownback has been nominated as the US religious freedom ambassador. He’s not a fan of religious freedom.

•Trump may not be tight with the Republican Party, but he’s still a Republican conservative. The Republicans would rather forget that. But they’re still supporting him. After all, if a crazy idiot can get them a Birther as federal judge, what’s not to like?

•Likewise, as the anti-Semites start crawling from the woodwork, I wouldn’t bet on Republicans objecting to their support.

•A lawsuit charges that Fox News concoted the Seth Rich — Murdered! story with White House help. Likewise NW Florida Senator Matt Gaetz wrote an amendment for a bill based on material taken from an alt.right conspiracy website. But trying to write political paranoia about the Clintons into law will only help him with voters back in my old stomping grounds, much like his bid to abolish the EPA. However Trump is not necessarily more politically paranoid or conspiracy-theorist than the typical Republican.

•Trump seems determined to break our nuclear agreement with Iran.

•One of the points of White Flight was that the end of segregation was the birth of right-wing opposition to state schools or government spending on just about anything that might benefit blacks. But conservatives hate hearing that.

•Turns out some people are convinced black Americans get to attend college free.

•Jared Kushner’s insights into our efforts to bring peace to the Middle East: we haven’t succeeded. That’s some impressive smartitude, guy.

•The right-wing war on abortion is doing damage to women’s health that won’t be easy to fix.

•According to Fox News’ Brian Kilmeade, Trump’s newest cabinet picks show he’s a man’s man. It’s meant as a compliment.

•Let’s end on a cheerful note: Martin Skrelli, the pharma executive who hikes the price of lifesaving drugs has been found guilty of securities fraud.

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Filed under Politics, Undead sexist cliches

A clash of memes: fake geek girls, SJWs and milkshakes!

So about three years ago I blogged about DC editor Janelle Asselin. She’d posted some very sensible criticisms of a Teen Titans cover and as a result, got rape threats online. Wouldn’t you know, misogynists have managed to top that one? Last week Marvel editor Heather Antos posted something even more innocuous, a photo of herself and some female coworkers having milkshakes. And once again sexists and misogynists freaked out.

Those women are just social justice warriors! Their heinous feminazi political agenda and all the propaganda they put into comics is what’s killing Marvel sales!

Those women are just fake geek girls (for some discussion of that meme, see this linkpost)!

How come Marvel employs so many women?

Look how stupid they are!

Plus the occasional rape threat.

All of this based on … absolutely nothing. A group of young women having milkshakes does not automatically code as SJW (besides, I think fighting for social justice is awesome) or fake geek (what, real geeks don’t like milkshakes?). And I’m pretty sure nobody bothered to research any of the women in the photo to get the facts down before tweeting. The hate tweeters are flinging around memes without any thought, or possibly knowledge, of what they mean, much the way “communist” and “Marxist” have been flung around for much of my life. “Fake geek girl” is simply a reflex shot at a woman involved in comics. As the Mary Sue points out, the real issue is that these women are visible, online and in comics, and their presence is what’s infuriating the misogynists (something I wrote about here).

Which brought me back to the book White Flight by Kevin Kruse. One of the things that struck me reading it was how obsessed Atlanta whites were with having what we’d now call safe spaces. The problem being they wanted the entire city as a safe space, somewhere they could walk around without seeing or encountering black people (what the whites defined as “freedom of association.”). If blacks could use the city parks, then whites considered those parks had been taken away from them. Ditto schools. Or shopping. Or moving into white neighborhoods.

Same with gays. No, no, X is perfectly fine with queers, it’s just that they insist on going around in public holding hands or putting photos of their same-sex spouse on their desk at work. That’s shoving it in his face! Why can he have a nice civil space where nobody brings this stuff up (because of course opposite sex people never talk about relationships at work or engage in PDAs). An LGM post touches on this topic.

And likewise women. Spaces like politics, and geekdom and comics and the Internet are meant to be male only. Okay, photos of chicks with big boobs are cool, but not real women having opinions, or shoving it in your face how many chicks work at Marvel, which clearly proves Marvel sucks because we already know geeks can’t write comics. Driving them offline is just the best way to keep them from polluting our precious bodily fluids!

Sexist insults are never a logical response to feminism. They’re even less of a response to women just being there.

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Filed under Comics, Politics, Undead sexist cliches

One of those God Says Ha weeks (#SFWApro)

Not in a drastic way like where the car blows up or the a.c. runs down. Just in little ways.

The project for Leaf wrapped up this week, but that did consume some time. Plus as usual, Screen Rant, this one concerning people who got their powers from Captain America’s super-soldier process, like the Captain America of the 1950s (seen above grappling with Steve Rogers, art by Sal Buscema, all rights remain with current holder). It was pretty much done by Wednesday, but then I got a call from GoBankingRates, another website I do stuff for. Short article, $125. I said yes. That took up a few hours Thursday (the information was easy to gather, but fitting it to their format is tougher).

And then late Thursday my Screen Rant editor emailed to ask if I knew anything about the Golden Age Captain Marvel (seen below with the Marvel Family and the wizard Shazam; art by C.C. Beck, all rights remain with current holder). They just announced this week that the Shazam film is the next DC movie to start filming, so SR wanted a story ready by end of day today. That consumed some of yesterday evening and all of today. Though it may not go up tomorrow, if it looks like there’s bigger news coming up that would make for more page views.

Plus I have another GoBanking article due Monday. But after that I’ll be free to focus on fiction the rest of the week. That will be fun.

So outside of the various articles I did this week, I submitted a book proposal (superstitiously I’ll keep mum about it until I know if it’s a go or not) and I finished reading Backlash for my Undead Sexist Cliches book, as I mentioned yesterday.

I had several house and paperwork tasks to do this week, but most of them didn’t get done. Among other things the transition to a new insurer is gumming up getting some prescription refills; I need some records for TYG to file some of the paperwork; but I did get a couple of stuck drawers in the living room unstuck, so yay (didn’t do it myself. Contractor took care of it).

Oh, and I sold a couple more copies of Sex for Dinner, Death for Breakfast. Kind of cool.

But now it’s all done. I plan a relaxing weekend. Have fun, y’all.



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Filed under Nonfiction, Personal, Screen Rant, Sex for Dinner, Death for Breakfast, Time management and goals, Undead sexist cliches, Writing

Flashback to Backlash: Susan Faludi plus 25 years (#SFWApro)

So as part of my research for rethinking Undead Sexist Cliches: the Book, I reread Susan Faludi’s 1991 book BACKLASH: The Undeclared War on American Women (cover design Janet Perr, all rights remain with current holder). Depressingly it isn’t at all dated.

Faludi’s thesis is simple: every time women have made big steps toward equality in America (19th century suffragettes, 20th century getting the right to vote, etc.), a backlash has risen to put them back into their place. While some of this is an organized effort by the right-wing to undo the gains since the hallowed age of the 1950s (this was before conservatives started openly pining for the Victorian age instead), Faludi is clear the backlash isn’t an organized movement, it’s a lot of people acting independently but with a shared agenda.

  • Fashion designers and makeup kings push for girly girl looks that require new wardrobes and expensive makeup.
  • Corporations push back against hiring women.
  • Movies put emphasis on Woman As Girlfriend/Mother/Homemaker over independent women.
  • Newspapers, TV news and magazines run endless stories about how the career woman is miserable, or lonely, or doomed to spinsterhood, or burning out, and longing for the good old days when she’d get married and stay home (there are comparatively few stories about men worrying about marriage or burning out or longing to find a woman who can keep them).
  • Feminists are invariably to blame for giving women the idea they can “have it all” (you know, family and career, how unreasonable) which is what makes women miserable, rather than the realization how sexist the system, and some individuals are.
  • Rape and abuse are still not taken seriously.

So we end up with an American landscape that portrays feminism and working mothers, etc., very negatively, plus practical restrictions: tougher abortion laws, opposition to hiring women (let alone affirmative action), and a lack of support for victims of rape or sexual harassment. Sound familiar? It’s been 25 years and the backlash is still ongoing.

If anything, it’s gotten worse in some ways. Faludi wrote before Rush Limbaugh and other right-wing radio heads were fouling the airwaves with talk of evil feminazis and poor, oppressed men folk. The potential horrors of online death threats and Twitter harassment didn’t even exist. Despite twelve years of Reagan and Bush I, we didn’t have anything as nightmarishly sexist as the Trump administration.

If there’s any comfort, it’s that while feminists are frequently at cross-purposes (another Faludi article), they haven’t thrown in the towel either. Which is not to make light of the situation. Increasing restrictions on abortion, lack of support for rape victims and opposition to birth control all make it harder for women to build an independent life.

The chapter on abortion was a real eye-opener for me. I’ve written before about how the rights of the fetus outweigh the rights of the aquarium that carries them. I didn’t realize how far back this had been going, though. Faludi provides plenty of examples of women who in the eyes of authorities did pregnancy wrong:

  • A woman lost custody of her infant for not eating healthy enough during pregnancy (there was no sign of actual harm to the baby)
  • Another woman lost custody for taking Valium during pregnancy.
  • One woman lost her baby because she’d had sex with her abusive husband, hadn’t gotten to the hospital fast enough and hadn’t done what her doctor told her.
  • A teenager was locked up because she “lacked motivation” to get good prenatal care.

And yet they wonder why the birth rate is declining.

A running theme in some of the debate is that abortion cuts out the father’s right to decide about his child. Which is still an issue for some right-wingers.

As far as giving me inspiration for Undead Sexist Cliches, Backlash definitely encourages me to write. I’m not sure it answers what bothers me about my first draft. And it does set a very high standard for contributing to the debate.

I’ll let you know when I figure it out.


Filed under Politics, Reading, Undead sexist cliches

Today, in Republicans making women more miserable (#SFWApro)

Candice Jackson is the new acting secretary for civil rights under Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. And she’s a rape apologist who believes 90 percent of campus rape cases are drunken hookups, thinks that sexual harassment laws ignore how hard it is to define harassment (it’s soooo hard to tell if an advance is unwanted, amiright?), and (surprise!) that liberals shouldn’t place so much emphasis on looking out for women and people of color. And (again, surprise!) supported the women who accused Bill Clinton of rape and harassment but thinks the women who accuse Trump are lying.

She’ll fit in at Education. DeVos herself seems very concerned that Obama’s policies on how colleges report sexual harassment are unfair to the accused. Which is not bad per se, but worrying about the accused frequently veers into rape apologism. As witness she’s meeting with people who fret about the supposed epidemic of false rape accusations (I bet George Will is thrilled), and ignores that Obama wasn’t trying to persecute men, just force colleges to do better.

Over in Arkansas, State Rep. and Christian Taliban Kim Hammer has sponsored a bill about disposing of fetal remains post-abortion, which would have to be done with the father’s agreement. Which would potentially require rape victims to notify their rapist about the abortion and possibly allow the rapist to block the abortion. Hammer says of course that’s not how it will work, and he doesn’t want it to work that way, but I notice he’s not trying to clarify the language. And he is very, very anti-abortion, so I think he’s lying. Or parsing finely — sure he’d be fine with a real rape victim getting an exemption, but some slut who’s just making it up? Nah (I should note this is a guess and not based on Hammer’s statements).

The ACLU is suing to stop the bill. I wish them luck.

Oh, and back at the federal level the Trump administration is unsurprisingly big on funding abstinence education and not contraception. And the latest incarnation of Trumpcare is still awful for women’s health, among other abominations (for example, the Senate version once again protects Congress and its staff from any penalties for pre-existing conditions). Sen. Ted Cruz is partly responsible for the new draft, and Cruz, as you may remember, thinks as long as men can buy condoms, women’s birth control is totally taken care of.

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Filed under Politics, Undead sexist cliches

Strong female characters (again) (#SFWApro)

In a June post on Deviant Dolls (hat tip to Magical Words), Steve Wetherell vents that he’s “bored of strong female characters.” As he sees it, “the Strong Female Character is a damned yawn fest and I’m sick of it” — just as much a stereotype as the Love Interest or the Mother. People talk about turning the cliche on its head by making the tough hero a woman, but that’s been done so often it’s now a cliche itself. There have been so many strong warrior women, they’re boring.

And a cliché that doesn’t make sense: if Gamora in Guardians of the Galaxy is so badass, why isn’t she the team leader? If Hermione is so much smarter and better at magic than Harry, why isn’t she the hero? More to the point, because these characters are so awesome, invincible and flawless, they’re boring, just like men would be.  What we need, Wetherell concludes, are more female protagonists like John McClane or Peter Quill, someone who sweats, gets beaten down, shows fear. Less awesome, more human. He ends wondering if Wonder Woman will prove the exception (cover by Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, all rights to current holder).

First off, it’s certainly fair to argue Hermione could have been the hero. The Chosen One turning out to be the white male is an old complaint, and a valid one — as one critic put it, why is Neo better suited to be The One in The Matrix rather than Trinity or Morpheus? Hermione certainly qualifies to be the hero, but I’d disagree completely with Wetherell that she’s boring. As Sarah Gailey points out on Tor, Hermione has her own story. She’s not just competent, she’s an overachieving nerd obsessed with studying to the point of being comical — what school stories in my youth called “a swot.” While she fights alongside Harry she’s not just his support person/sidekick. And she’s hardly written as a flawless character: that she wants to liberate the house elves is presented as comical foolishness on her part (I don’t think it is, but that’s how it comes across).

And while I don’t doubt Wetherell would like more human male protagonists too, the fact is he’s written about female characters. This kind of argument always seems to be about female characters, and how they shouldn’t be too damn awesome.

I think having a variety of female characters is great. Tech nerds like Caitlin and Felicity on the CW shows. Cat Grant, Lena and Kara on Supergirl, none of whom I think are stereotypes. Bo on Lost Girl and Xena on Xena, both of whom have dark pasts that overshadow their present.The casts of Lumberjanes and Princeless. But I can’t see that Female Badass is such an overwhelmingly overused type it needs to be retired (and I doubt I will ever see as many calls for retiring Male Badass). And I don’t have a problem with Gamora being the straight man (so to speak) on the team.

If a Strong Female Character is boring, the problem’s the writing or acting, not that she’s strong. Wai Lin in Tomorrow Never Dies is every bit as kick-ass, and not particularly vulnerable or flawed. Played by Michelle Yeoh, she’s awesome.

I agree it would be a shame if every female character were a tough, no-nonsense action hero. But I see no reason not to have them in the mix.

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Filed under Undead sexist cliches, Wonder Woman, Writing