Category Archives: Undead sexist cliches

Political links unrelated to Trump? Amazing!

Prosecutors at the International Criminal Court believe the U.S. military has tortured at least 61 people in Afghanistan, with the CIA adding more victims on top of that. The incidents occurred during 2003-4, and would count as war crimes.

•So would Syrian and Russian attacks on civilians in Aleppo.

•JP Morgan is paying $264 million to settle charges it bought off government officials by hiring their friends and family.

•When iCloud is turned on, the iPhone sends all your call records to Apple.

•A bill currently sitting in Congress would ban the federal government from taking action against anyone who denies service to gays based on either religious belief of “moral conviction.” And apparently (judging from the text) would allow them to also deny service based on a belief/conviction that sex should be reserved for marriage. So apparently if someone wants to fire a woman for having sex before marriage, that would be a-okay.

•On the plus side, a bill banning gag clauses — contractual fine print that says you can’t criticize the company, even if your criticisms are true — has gone before Obama.

•Another case or right-wing terrorism. Here’s one from England.

•No, Hitler was not a vegetarian.

•Gringa of the Barrio looks at her family’s history of KKK membership.

•A new rule change gives the government lots more power to hack into people’s computers. The Senate tried unsuccessfully to block it.

•Right-wing preacher John Piper blames a miscarriage on the father’s interest in porn. Slacktivist says right-wing evangelicals can’t allow themselves to understand miscarriage. Because if you believe that a fetus is ensouled from the moment of conception, that means most of the people in the afterlife were never born.

•Chicago is suffering a massive shortage of health inspectors for restaurants.

•Baylor U athletic director Ian McCaw has been accused of covering up gang rape allegations involving the football team. Liberty University (a right-wing Christian flagship) doesn’t see that as an issue: they’ve hired him to “develop champions for Christ.”

•Remember Mike Pence’s rule in Ohio requiring aborted fetuses be buried or cremated? Now it’s Texas. And the Church of Satan is against it on the grounds burial decision are a religious matter. Meanwhile Utah pushes a bill that claims (with no scientific benefit) women can reverse the morning-after pill and stay pregnant.

•Alabama’s top officials are mired in scandal.

•The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has run into trouble over its legal structure (one commissioner, who can’t be summarily removed by the president). Some congressmen are coming out in support of the CFPB.

•The Associated Press says if reporters use the term alt-right, they should clarify it’s a euphemism for white supremacy.

Android malware has taken over more than 1 million Google accounts.

•Here’s a very SF idea: some local governments in China are giving people a “credit score” based on their lives — rules broken, neglecting parents, saying things online the government disagrees with.

•A right-winger claims that because the big fire in Tennessee only threatens red state areas, the media are ignoring it. He’s wrong.

•So Google fiber is coming to Nashville using the regular cable/phone poles. That required a city ordinance change, which led to Comcast suing to stop the change. The city is suing back.

•Dallas has a $3 million fund for incentivizing supermarkets that move into the city’s food deserts. It’s not helping.

•Product disparagement laws allow the food industry to sue if someone says bad things about their products. Olive oil, for example, is suing Dr. Oz.

•Wells Fargo customers can’t sue if the bank opened fake accounts in their name because their contracts impose binding arbitration instead. A new bill would change that.

•Fidel Castro is dead. His legacy of repressive laws lives on.

•An Asian-American author’s new book says no, the US did not become more tolerant of Asians because they’re a model minority.

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Filed under Politics, Undead sexist cliches

Almost two weeks since Trump day …

I’m not as wretched as I felt Nov. 9, but I still have bursts of Freak Out at the thought of what may be ahead. I’m particularly shaken by stories of petty spite like a man who punched a woman in the face for being upset about the election. Not that it’s the worst we’re going to see, but there’s something that unsettles me more than the big scary stuff at the national level. Though that’s bad too, like sexist, racist right-winger Steve Bannon as chief Trump strategist (Mother Jones has more). That shakes me too. As does the damage an all-Republican government will do to the environment.

•Kellyanne Conway of the Trump campaign says it’s Trump and Clinton’s responsibility to stop anti-Trump protests. No suggestion Trump should calm anyone, not that he would anyway.

•Jim Hines points out that if Trump supporters resent being called racist, there’s a simple way to prove they’re not: speak up about the racism.

•Scott Lemieux looks at how Trump’s racism rarely held the media’s attention. A Vox article says the media statistics confirm that. Hullabaloo looks at how false news reaches people via Facebook.

•It looks like some Trump voters were Obama voters. Jamelle Bouie says that doesn’t prove they weren’t racist — in 2008 and 2012 they didn’t receive a racist candidate.

•Roy Edroso watches right-wingers come around to supporting Trump. Case in point, Megan McArdle is calling on us to come together for the greater good and not demonize people who accept positions in the Trump administration (given he’s recruiting people like Bannon, I don’t think tarnishing good people is the big issue). Eliot Cohen, a conservative Never Trumper, says however that after encouraging conservatives to sign on with Trump if asked, he’s looked at Bannon and others in Trump’s circle and now says stay away.

•Another Edroso piece looks at the sea change in more detail — including that just as in 2000, some right-wingers are trying to rationalize that Trump really won the popular vote. Here are some examples, as right-wingers explain Bannon’s not so bad.

•Blaming “political correctness” for Trump is like blaming civil rights for Jim Crow.

•Is Paul Ryan really willing to destroy Medicare?

•A black blogger vents and explains why she needs to vent with other black people for a while.

•Amanda Marcotte looks at the white male anger of Trump supporters.

•The ever-repellent Federalist declares that white people will no longer submit to their black oppressors.

•Speaking of fake news sites (we’re now away from the electoral topic) one guy who created some to promote his phony health product must pay $30 million to his customers.

•Frustrated with Uber’s email customer service, a woman drives to their office — without much better luck.

•A TV station reports that Office Depot employees sometimes identify non-existent malware to sell customers on a virus-protection program.

•Charter/Time Warner insists that charging fees that it doesn’t include in the monthly price it promotes helps make bills easy to understand.


Filed under economics, Politics, Undead sexist cliches

I was going to write a happy post this morning

Because I had a really nice, relaxing weekend and I entered Monday full of energy. It would have been good to blog about.

But then the election happened. And no matter how bad I thought it was going to be Tuesday, it’s getting worse. And petting the puppies is losing its effectiveness as a stress-reliever. Because even though I’m a white male, America’s already suffering a wave of hate crimes (hat/tip LGM).

There’s an optimistic (sort-of) theory of the “extinction burst,” that this is the last gasp of the hate-filled right: “The old world order is SCREAMING right now. What I’m seeing tonight are the death throes of a system that cannot last. Whatever the outcome, remember that what happens at the federal level is not the end of the story. We can take charge in our communities, and we can continue to move in the right direction. Let ’em scream. The rest of us have work to do.”

I’d like to believe it. Certainly what we’re seeing is partly fueled by frustration that women, gays, non-whites are no longer as securely subordinate as they used to be. But I don’t think it’s going extinct. Rick Perlstein has pointed this has been the dream since the 1960s, that the old-school segregationists and haters would die off and things would improve. And it hasn’t happened. And still hasn’t — we’re “still the country that killed Emmett Till.” And now the anti-gays hope we’ll be the country that rolls back gay marriage.

It’s true, of course, that most voters didn’t go for Trump. For the second time in sixteen years, we picked the Democrat and the Electoral College gave us the Republican. The college was created partly so that slave states could use slaves to boost their electoral clout — in a straight vote, the South was too rural to match the north. The Founders also thought that the Electoral College could override the people if the people succumbed to a demagogue. Instead, as Charles Pierce says, the people picked the sane candidate, now the College will give us a demagogue.

Where’d it go wrong? A lot of people are crunching vote totals (what data we have) and figuring it out. A big part of it seems to be smaller minority turnout which means voter suppression worked, though that’s probably not the only factor. Certainly sexism played a huge role — too many people still weren’t willing to accept a woman president. And as Bouie noted, the appeal of white supremacy. Plus probably lots of factors, but those big ones are pretty horrible.

The next four years under a Republican congress/White House will be very ugly. And I’m not optimistic after that. Repubs are positioned to gerrymander the hell out of the next redistricting; the Electoral College benefits them; and they have lots of opportunity to suppress the minority vote (I will go out on a limb and say the federal government under Trump will not be interested in tackling the issue—except helping suppress). Any hope of stopping climate change is dead in the water. Trump’s got at least one Supreme Court judge to appoint and possibly more, which will enable Republicans to roll back god knows what. Obergefell, I’m guessing, Roe vs. Wade too, and that’s just for starters. Some judges believe there’s no legal authority for any government regulation of employer conduct, product safety, food safety … If they gut enough it will take a long time to rebuild.

On the personal level, I can see lots of ways this could wreak havoc on our personal finances. In the grand scheme of things that’s trivial (there are lots of people staring at much nastier situations) but it’s us, so I can’t hep but fret.

I’ll leave you with a link from Samantha Field pointing out it’s not like hate crimes and injustice weren’t here already: “We had a long road ahead of us already. It just got longer and rougher … we’ll fight like we always have and always will.” I recommend reading the whole thing. It’s not helping me right now, but I think it may later.

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Alan Moore tries taking it back: the Golliwog (#SFWApro)

The weirdest part of League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Black Dossier when I first read it was the Galley-Wag. A huge blackface figure who comes out of nowhere to save Allan and Mina, babbling insane gobbledygook—and did I mention the blackface? It turns out this was Moore’s attempt to redeem a character from 19th century fiction.


When I first saw Golliwogs in advertisements as a kid (they were in ads for Robinson’s Marmalade, IIRC), I had no idea they were blackface. I hadn’t been exposed to much racist iconography, I just assumed they were funny-looking figures (you can see an example above, taken from Herald Scotland, all rights to current holder). Yes, I was an ignorant kid in some ways.

The original Golliwog was a 19th century fictional creation by Florence Kate Upton. According to Moore, despite the blackface imagery, the character was a strong, positive one, not at all racist (I’ve heard arguments to the contrary, and no idea which is right). By putting the Golliwog in the book as one of the Blazing World’s agents, Moore thought he could redeem the character restoring him to his non-racist roots. Moore has been very unhappy with people who say he failed, eventually sinking to the time-honored cop-out that apparently it’s just not permissible for white people to write about black people. But I don’t think that’s the problem. Whatever Moore’s intent (and I’m sure it was as he says) and the merits of Upton’s original creation, I don’t think it works.d

In a sense it’s a variation of the name-dropping problem I mentioned yesterday: I never heard of the fictional golliawog, I have no reason to go “Oh, good, Moore has restored the original spirit of the character!” All I can go by is what I see, and what I see is this big, freaky blackface character. If the only way to understand what Moore’s doing is to go back and read a 19th century novel, or study the admittedly excellent annotations to LXG by Jess Nevins — well, sorry. Readers are entitled to judge the story by what’s on the page, and what’s on the page is just a golliwog. Other than looks he doesn’t conform to a racial stereotype, but he doesn’t really counter it either.

It’s not like this is a problem unique to Black Dossier or Moore. For instance when Grant Morrison temporarily turned super-hero Mary Marvel into a Dark version wearing spandex and butt floss, some of his fans argued this was not at all sexist — we should see her as an ironic meta-commentary on artists who draw women wearing spandex and butt floss. Even if that was Morrison’s intention (I don’t believe he made the claim himself) it failed: she was still a female character parading around in butt floss. Nothing meta about it. And as I’ve written before, there’s nothing meta about the Yellow Peril stereotypes in the original LXG series. If, as Comics Journal argues, Moore and O’Neil use all the rape and racist tropes to “dare their readers to parse the difference between mimesis and mockery,” I think they failed. The rapes and tropes look just like rapes and tropes, no mockery at all.

Even mockery doesn’t always help. M declaring James Bond a sexist, misogynist dinosaur in Goldeneye doesn’t make him any less sexist. Having Jonni Future (an America’s Best Comics character from a decade ago) comment about how ridiculous it is to have space adventures in a skimpy space suit that bares her ginormous cleavage doesn’t make her ironic or meta — she’s still a massively endowed woman wearing a body-baring costume.

To paraphrase film critics Siskel and Ebert, if something doesn’t work there’s no point to the creator explaining why he had to write it that way.

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Filed under Comics, Reading, Undead sexist cliches

A fact so dread, he faintly said, extinguishes all hope

Which is to say Trump won. The sexually harasser, inept businessman, bigot, the man willing to accept support from white supremacist, the borderline fascist, took the White House. None of that mattered as much to his supporters as their promise of a champion who would put the non-white, non-straight, non-male, non-Christian hordes supposedly oppressing them back in their place.

I knew that. I was under no delusion that this was a slam dunk until the votes were counted, but I (and most of the prognosticators) thought it was going Clinton. She had a better-run campaign.Better policies. Government experience. The Latino turnout was high.  Perhaps I’d finally see a woman take the top spot.

Nope. Why not? Was it white/straight/male/Christian resentment at steadily losing their privilege year after year? Did Repub voter suppression efforts play a role? Did the FBI talking breathlessly about non-existent scandals make a difference? Or the media going heavy on Crooked Hilary! stories and not covering policy? Were there a lot of people talking Clinton but secretly Trump? I’m sure we’ll see much analysis in the days to come.

So for the next four years, minimum, we have President Trump. Anti-immigrant. Pro-white dominance. Inept and incredibly corrupt. Despises women, the disabled, Latinos. Threatens to throw his political enemies in jail and make it easier to sue the press that criticizes him. With a majority Republican senate that can sign off on his every appointment.

The Supreme Court. The lower federal courts. The executive branch regulatory agencies—with the wrong people in key positions and guidance from the top, their focus or willingness to enforce the law can change radically. The military, whom he’s eager to use, except against Russia, whom we’re too tough on (funny, I remember when talk like that would have made him a suspect Commie).

A very conservative Congress that is probably salivating at stripping away as much of liberalism as possible. Even in the best circumstances, we’ll probably have Trump willing to sign whatever the Congress puts in front of him, if they do it with enough deference. Obamacare goes, I’m sure. And after it, as much of gay rights, women’s rights, trans rights, non-Christian rights as they can get away with. Even if Mike Pence gets to do most of the governing, I don’t think that right-to-life zealot is going to lead us to a shinier tomorrow.

And the possibility right-wing violence will uptick, while the right-wing government focuses on the scary Muslims as the real threat.

I wasn’t pleased when W. Bush one in 2000 but it wasn’t an obvious disaster. Without 9/11, it might not have been. With Trump, it’s pretty obvious going in.

And after four more years of voter suppression, voter fraud stories, judges more sympathetic to the right… I’m not looking forward to 2020. Especially when so many Americans voted Trump this time.

As a white male I’m less of a target for the seething mass of hate Trump’s stirring up. But the Republicans are lousy at running the economy for the benefit of everyone except the rich. That affects me. I have family and friends who are women and minorities. That affects me. And while it’s unclear at press time, it looks like we may get NC Governor McCrory of HB2 infamy back again, and that definitely affects me.

I will admit I’m never happy when Republicans win but the next presidential term looks to be exceptionally odious.

The second Black Dossier post goes up tomorrow



Filed under economics, Politics, Undead sexist cliches

Two And Columns out

By happenstance an older one that got delayed and the latest came out at the same time.

Trump and Masculinity looks at how Trump defines himself partly in relation to women. Specifically that beautiful women do his bidding, and he’s entitled to pronounced judgment on their hotness.

Insults and Women looks at Ann Coulter’s argument that if the media don’t object to her being called the “c word” obviously they’re only objecting to Trump’s use of the p-word (which Coulter pretends is the only issue in the Trump tape) because they’re in the tank for Clinton.

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Sexism and rape in fictions past. Parts may be triggering (#SFWApro)


Writing on AV Club, Jason Heller says he looked forward to rereading Piers Anthony’s Xanth books and was dismayed to discover they’re very sexist. Which got me thinking about the way I reacted to sexism and other isms in the books I read as a child and teenager.

A lot of stuff flew over my head. For example, I knew diddly squat about the “shuffling darkie” stereotype so when I read stories with that kind of racist caricature, I took it as just a low-comic character type and laughed as I read. Embarrassing now, a little.

Hitting me teens as second-wave feminism was blooming, I was much more aware of sexism than any other ism. But a lot of times I still couldn’t identify it as such, it just seemed wrong to me somehow. For example in Anthony’s A Spell for Chameleon (cover by Michael Whelan, all rights to current holder) protagonist Bink’s dream girl is a woman who cycles from being beautiful but stupid through average to ugly but smart. I’m not sure if I actually saw this as sexist—I liked the book so I didn’t want it to be sexist — but it definitely disturbed me (Heller has many more examples, but that was the one that stuck in my personal memory). Later in the series, the sexism got increasingly obvious, or I just got better at spotting it.

For an uglier example, consider Philip José Farmer’s Tarzan pastiche Lord Tyger. At one point Tyger is traveling with an obnoxious (i.e, she doesn’t put out) doctor, so one night he sticks a piece of raw meat in her intimate recesses and tells her she can either have the meat inside her, or his meat inside her (that was the bit I thought might be triggering). This is not presented as rape, just the superstud getting the upper hand of the bitchy chick who refuses to screw him. I’ve heard arguments the point is that a real Tarzan wouldn’t have human sexual ethics, but the tone isn’t “Tyger’s an amoral monster” — my impression was (and is) that we’re supposed to root for the jungle sex machine. Ditto the finish when the doctor wants to marry her rapist to monopolize his penis, but it’s obvious Tyger will continue screwing every available woman he can nail down.

I hated the book when I read it, but I’m pretty sure I didn’t think of the raw-meat scene as rape at the time. After all, he hadn’t used force to put his penis in her … but something about it screamed WRONG! I just couldn’t explain why.

Other books, in hindsight, felt wrong because the characters didn’t react properly. Like the protagonist of Bruce Jones Pride of the Fleet whose response to being turned into a kaijin by the guy she put in the friend zone is “darn it, I can’t wear my sexy outfits any more!” Or the first couple of John Norman Gor books where the women complain because the hero didn’t rape or enslave them when he could have. Or Black God’s Kiss in which CL Moore’s Jirel of Joiry melts for the man who’s conquered her kingdom, assaulted her and thrown her in a dungeon (I love the stories, but not that bit).

Some things, by contrast, slid by me without raising a ripple: there were a couple of rape jokes in various movies or plays that I laughed at even when I was in my twenties. I don’t recall being offended by all the rape in Coming of Age in Zamora until I reread it a few years ago.

I’m not sure there’s any larger lesson to be learned from this. Unless it’s that if a story makes you queasy for some reason, possibly it’s not just you being prudish or “politically correct.” And that even if we don’t see the problems in stories from our past, they may still be there.

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Filed under Reading, Undead sexist cliches