Category Archives: Undead sexist cliches

Bret Easton Ellis has a hissy fit (plus a few other links)

So Art Tavana, a writer for LA Weekly, wrote about singer Sky Ferreira, acknowledging her talent but focusing on her sex appeal  (“When Ferreira snaps back her faux-blond hair in a music video, or does a Michael Jackson finger snap (her grandmother used to be MJ’s hair stylist), or when she takes off her big sunglasses and stares seductively into the camera, curling her candy-red lips like an English punk rocker, it never looks unnatural.”) which he discusses in much greater detail than her music. This generated some deserved flak, Teen Vogue for instance pointing that saying a woman as “pimped-out” implies she’s a prostitute.Bret Easton Ellis (the Less Than Zero author) decided he wasn’t putting up with that shit.

In a rant for the Independent he unloads on “little snowflake justice warriors” such as the Teen Vogue writer who had the temerity to criticize this “innocuous” piece: “the little snowflakes got so pissed off and were just sooo unbelievably offended by this piece, that they had to denounce it. Oh, little snowflakes, when did you all become grandmothers and society matrons, clutching your pearls in horror at someone who has an opinion about something, a way of expressing themselves that’s not the mirror image of yours, you snivelling little weak-ass narcissists? The high moral tone from social justice warriors is always out of scale with what they are indignant about. When did this hideous and probably nerve-wracking way of living begin transforming you into the authoritarian language police, with your strict set of little rules and manufactured outrage, demanding apologies from every sandwich or salad you didn’t like?” After all, what’s wrong with Tavana objectifying Ferreira? He admitted he was doing it, so that should all be hunky-dory, right?

As noted at the (not direct) link, Ellis does not seem to grasp that the definition of narcissist is not “disagrees with someone’s opinions.” Nor does he notice that he’s heavily into projection, delivering the kind of over-the-top response that he accuses Tavara’s critics of delivering, and condemning them for not being the mirror-image of his opinion. And I’m sure he doesn’t notice Teen Vogue made more sense, explaining why they took issue with the Tavara piece and not simply throwing invective at the target of their ire.

And no, admitting you’re objectifying someone does not excuse objectifying someone. I can’t think why it should. And given how often women of ability get reduced to their looks (or their status as a mother) it’s not unreasonable to object.

In other news:

•So if a creditor or debt collector wins a judgment against you, they can legally have the county sheriff auction off your assets. When one woman sued a debt collector over its practices, the company had the sheriff auction off her lawsuit as if it were an asset, bought it and then shut the lawsuit down. As noted at the link, if they win on appeal, this would be a get-out-of-jail free card for a lot of debt collectors.

•AT&T and Comcast are unsurprisingly fighting a Nashville legal change that would make it easier for Google Fiber to string cables across town.

•Aetna is dropping out of multiple Obamacare exchanges. Like a number of insurers it’s complaining there are too many sick people using the exchange, which is hurting profits. Which is, of course the paradox of insurance: they make better profits if people don’t use the service. Aetna has also said it can’t afford to stay on the exchange because the government is fighting a merger with Humana.

•Rudy Giulani wants you to know there were no Islamic terror attacks in the US before Obama. I’m sure the next time he wants to burnish his credentials as the 9/11 Mayor, he’ll switch back.

•Despite the complaints from Trump voters about trade deals and competition from immigrants, most of them haven’t suffered because of those things.

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Assorted political links, none of which makes me happy

Slate reports that USA Gymnastics ignored reports of abusive coaches for years.

•Back during the Cold War, the military buried a lot of toxic waste at one Greenland site under the ice. Now global warming is releasing it.

•Jessica Valent has received rape-threat tweets against her five-year-old child. Columbia Journalism Review looks at how Twitter handles these problems.

This link about the Heritage Foundation issuing new warnings about Iran The Ultimate Threat shows how some right-wingers refuse to let go of a designated enemy. Sure, we just negotiated a deal with Iran forestalling them building nuclear weapons (which they may not have planned to do), but the deal will expire in ten years! What if they go nuclear then, huh? What if they send Hezbollah terrorist cells to attack the US!

In short deal or no deal, regardless of what Iran’s policies are, we have to take them out. If we don’t and if they do go nuclear, we might not be able to “counter and contain” them — i.e. even if they’re not a threat, we might lose our ability to push them around or even invade and that’s a Bad Thing. And they’re an oppressive theocracy, which while true, is just as true of our good friend Saudi Arabia. Nor do I think Iran destabilizes the Middle East more than we did with the Iraq invasion—but as Heritage supported that, I doubt they’ll see that as a good comparison.

•Here’s a look at some of the corporate welfare programs costing the government billions (in both payouts and tax cuts). And according to some local governments, telecoms are charging low rates to business customers by slashing fees that fund 9-1-1 systems.

•As a former journalist, I’m disturbed that we still get national election coverage dwelling on things like what Trump eats: he enjoys fast food because he’s a busy guy and it’s yes, fast!

•When Trump started his campaign last year, he ignored Republican orthodoxy on economic issues (e.g., tax breaks for the rich, deregulation, private Social Security) and talked about boosting Social Security, a hugely popular idea with Trump voters. I am not surprised that in his recent policy proposals, he’s shifted back to classic Republicanism. After all, given how devoted his base is, he may figure he has nothing to lose.

•Not disturbing but I think it’s only fair to note that Trump did not evict a mother and baby from one of his rallies.

•As slacktivist points out, the KKK apparently thinks endorsing Trump won’t hurt his campaign (“They think they’re winning.”). And the far right John Birch Society is apparently moving back into the conservative mainstream (as noted at the link, their history includes accusing Eisenhower of being a Commie agent, seeing Communism behind the civil-rights movement and that the Muslim Brotherhood is just another front for the International Communist Conspiracy).

•The new right-wing craze for requiring parents bury or cremate aborted or miscarried fetuses could cost the parents $2,000 a fetus. Of course the government’s not going to pay! But one anti-abortion group has suggested abortion doctors get the bill.

•The Justice Department finds Baltimore’s Police Department is massively rotten. To give one example, a single black man was randomly stopped 30 times in four years without any charges being filed. He’s just one of many blacks —and it’s primarily blacks — who get stopped for no other reason than being there. In one case, with a federal investigator monitoring, one officer nevertheless told another to “make something up” so they could stop a guy.

•Trump’s claim that if he loses that’s proof the election was rigged is getting serious punditry coverage.

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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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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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White working-class voters, the Republican platform and other political links

The Daily Beast points out that white working-class voters who support Trump aren’t going to change any time soon. As noted in the article, for years Democrats have been trying to recapture those voters by going soft on say, race or religion or emphasizing how much better Dems are for the economy, but it doesn’t work because race is a major factor (and I’d add gender to that). This is actually a subset of an old argument that If Only X Would Realize How My Party Serves Their Interests They’d Switch. It never works.

•I almost have respect for Republicans never giving an inch no matter how unpopular their policies are. Except the policies they invoke are just vile: still anti-gay marriage, anti-abortion, anti-women in combat, plus new stuff like building the border wall. And while they condemn Isis, the drafters (at least at this point) have decided against condemning attacks on LBGT people (which ties in with my point this article). Echidne points out how much the Republican theocrats have in common with ISIS. Digby notices that Trump’s bigotry and warmongering are less objectionable to Paul Ryan than Clinton winning.

•Congress is getting closer to outlawing gag clauses that say you can’t write a negative review of a business. However the fast-tracking bill banning Vermont’s GMO-labeling rules has a lot of drawbacks.

•Penn State and its liability insurer are fighting in court over whether the insurer has to cover the college’s losses over the settlements paid out in the Jerry Sandusky abuse case. One thing that turned up in the documents: allegations of abuse going as far back as 1976. As someone says at the link, Penn State looks so bad, the insurance company is the good guy.

•Pokemon Go collects all your Google data while you play.

•Right-wingers continue insisting that unlike liberals, only they understand the Real Americans.

•No, police don’t always have to gun down men with guns. An old post from Digby, but obviously pertinent.

•Megan McArdle’s theory on why it’s okay for the Republican Party to ignore voters and reject Trump: the system already allows for appointments without voter input (appointed, non-elected judges for instance) so picking the candidate regardless of voter input is perfectly reasonable. The difference between “setting rules that say certain positions are not subject to vote” and “changing the rules when the voters pick wrong” escapes her, presumably because it ruins her thesis.

•Kansas Governor Sam Brownback continues running the state even further into the ground. To the point even Kansas Republicans are angry.

•The financial struggles of American law schools.

•SLAPP lawsuits (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) are a tactic businesses use to intimidate the public: someone speaks up at city hall about a new development, the developer sues them for slander, restraint of trade, whatever. At the link, an overview of the legal issues and defenses involved. For one example, a nursing home SLAPPed a couple for sharing criticism of the home with the couple’s attorney.

•Sexism from politicians around the world. Putin makes full use of sexism in his own politics. And here’s some choice quotes from Trump.

Bigots celebrate Brexit. Though as noted at the link, they’d be just as bigoted and angry at foreigners if they’d lost.

•At LGM, Erik Loomis argues that even though videorecordings of police violence haven’t stopped it, they’re changing the response. Which is probably why North Carolina has now decreed that police body-cam footage is only available if the cops approve. More information on the NC law from CNN.

•Immigrant domestic workers in Oman often suffer imprisonment, abuse and wage theft.

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Undead Sexist Cliches: Slutty Girls Are Destroying Civilization (Again)

This was the first undead sexist cliche I ever wrote about, the belief that men only achieve things so they can get laid. As women in the modern age are giving it away without waiting for a man who can offer financial support, men have no reason to accomplish anything, so civilization is doomed. And so are women because no man will buy the cow if he can get the milk free.

Astonishingly, my exposing this as a bullshit cliche did not immediately prompt conservatives to give up and stop using it. Case in point,  Amy Otto of the Federalist who explains that easy sex and the availability of Internet porn give men no reason to do anything. Including the standard argument that women lose because they no longer control the rules of the game. Okay, not so standard because Otto’s babble includes “[Women] held a majority of the cards in sexual relationships and, facing a royal flush, decided to fold.” I’m not sure what she meant to say or if she’s just clueless about poker but folding against a royal flush is the best move you can make. Nothing beats a royal flush.

800px-Royal_flush(Credit for image to David Castor via wikimedia commons)

Equally illogical, she argues that the peak of creativity for inventors and engineers used to be in their twenties; now it’s people in their fifties and sixties. Evidence this is because young men are too busy partying and never get around to creating anything? None offered in the article she links to. Perhaps it’s that seniors currently have more time, or we have a larger crop of seniors than before, or young people are too busy coping with college debt to risk a product that may not pay off (as noted at the link most inventions don’t). Or (as suggested here), that with today’s tech, you need more money and expertise to advance on what’s already out there.

Otto goes on to claim that “Women used to set the cultural standards and parameters for intimate activity. Now often the guys wield more power over sex and the girls are working way too hard, way too soon, for no reciprocity.” That would explain why a hundred years ago women could take as many partners as they wanted while men who slept around were tarred as “tramps” and treated like dirt. Oh, wait, history was nothing like that. A male-dominated patriarchal system has always set the standards: pushing women to marry early (still held up as the ideal by multiple conservatives), restricting their options if they didn’t marry, hand-waving rape cases away.

Of course the Federalist is the magazine that told us Paul Ryan’s beard proves feminism has failed, and the popularity of Fifty Shades of Grey proves feminism has failed. I have a strange feeling their concern for women’s happiness is …. bullshit.

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