Category Archives: 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

The hive of scum and villainy gets more wretched

Starting with our new Supreme Court Justice, Neil Gorsuch. It seems Arkansas allows a woman who conceives via artificial insemination to list herself and her spouse as birth parents — unless the spouse is another woman. The Supremes said bad Arkansas, but Gorsuch not only dissented, he lied and said Arkansas did allow the spouse to be listed. This is probably a bad omen for an upcoming wedding-cake case.

•Trump’s new voter-suppression — oh, sorry, election integrity commission — is stuffed with people who are short on integrity, long on racism

•Chief Justice John Roberts, meanwhile (and the majority of the court) think tax money going to a church is just fine.

•Then we have the scummy hive of the NRA. All through the Obama years they drummed up gun sales by warning OBAMA WILL TAKE YOUR GUNS!!!! Now they’re going on full-on political paranoid — liberals control the media, the schools, they’re lying and making our glorious leader look bad! Buy guns to stop them! As noted at the link, if this were Black Lives Matter, the right would be screeching about how it’s an incitement to race war. Of course, screeching about how liberals/black presidents/immigrants are destroying America is standard NRA ranting.

•As for making our president look bad, President Shit-Gibbon’s doing a great job of that. And again. The Texas Republican who doesn’t think he has any X chromosomes ain’t doing much good for the Republican image either. And the rest of the party’s just as bad.

•Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow drums up millions in donations to line his pocket — er, I’m sorry, to fight against things like Obamacare allowing Planned Parenthood to have abortion-referral offices in schools (no, it didn’t). Slacktivist adds some perspective (which doesn’t make Sekulow look better).

•The TSA may start demanding you pull out your reading material when you fly. As the ACLU says, even though we have the right to read anything we want, the TSA might disagree. Or we could simply be embarrassed to have our books in plain view.

•Oklahoma passes a bill that makes abortion a felony.

•Transunion mistakenly listed a number of people as suspected terrorists or drug traffickers on credit reports.

•Slacktivist looks at how Christian nationalism and white nationalism overlap.

•Right-winger Jonah Goldberg insists there’s no proof that taking away people’s insurance with Trumpcare would lead to deaths. We can’t know being able to access medical care makes people live longer (yes, it does)! And besides (says the writer who equates liberals to Nazis) saying so is just soooo mean. I’m sure they’ll say the same if the Repubs go ahead with Trump’s latest proposal — repeal but don’t replace.

•The Shit-Gibbon tweeted recently about how he turned away an unfriendly journalist (female, of course) bleeding from a facelift. At the link, Michelle Goldberg looks at how Trump’s misogyny keeps bubbling out. Media Matters points out it’s par for the course (hat tip to Echidne).  I wonder if this is why an acquaintance of mine posted about how he loves Trump for “speaking his mind” when he tweets. I’m willing to bet he didn’t applaud Ana Navarro for speaking hers about Trump. Or the Twitter responses to his facelift crack (“Every time someone says the president is a child or a toddler all I can think of is I’ve never met a child who’s this much of a dick.”).

Alex Pareene makes an important point: While Trump is a horrible president, his bad policies and judicial appointments are no different from any other Republican. W appointed incompetents. W gutted state-level regulations (while mouthing ritual reverence for State’s Rights). Anyone who beat Trump for the nomination would have favored killing the AHCA, slashing taxes on millionaires and destroying the EPA. It’s a Republican hive of scum and villainy — in fact that’s kind of redundant, isn’t it?

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Social butterfly me (#SFWApro)

Last weekend was surprisingly social.

Usually I don’t interact with people beyond librarians and salesclerks. But Saturday a friend from the writer’s group had a birthday party, so I went and even got TYG to go along. It was enjoyable, including meeting some writing professionals from outside our group (his sister and her partner).

Sunday, writer Allegra had one of her work days where we’re all invited over to her place, bring food, eat. I haven’t made it in a while, but this time, success! I brought a fig muffin recipe I’ve been meaning to try for a while; very tasty, but a bit dry.

We spent about ninety minutes sitting around, eating and chatting. Then we got to work, intermixed with more chatting. While I don’t usually like working weekends, I got a solid three hours of work done. In between I petted Allegra’s greyhound.

This was all fun in itself. It also left me in much better shape to face the week. I think it was the combination of getting out and hanging with having so much time away from the pups, and from sitting in the living room. I wasn’t anywhere near as stressed about puppy care and personal space until it caught up with me again at the end of the week. Next week I’m giving myself a vacation so that will help.

I did another nine articles for the Leaf project (my favorite: “How to Become an Evangelist”) and another Screen Rant. And I finished the proposal for a new film book, though I’ll want to look at it once more next month before I mail it off.

Once again fiction got short shrift. I did put in some work on Trouble and Glass, shifting it forward to the 1950s. That really seems to have helped, but I won’t know for sure until I finish this draft.

I submitted one short story (Backstage With the Hypothetical Dead) and one query for a column.

I did a lot of research reading for the book version of Undead Sexist Cliches. After I read my first draft over, I felt it was missing something, but I’m not sure what. So possibly reading more on the subject will either help me see the problem, or convince me I’m just reinventing the wheel and give up. Stay tuned for the answer!

And once again I put in more than 35 hours. But once we can take the dogs to day care without worrying about canine flu, I’ll use some of it to take my dog free day and catch up on cleaning and similar duties. The house has gotten messy enough I’m actually looking forward to it.


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Filed under Nonfiction, Personal, The Dog Ate My Homework, Undead sexist cliches, Writing

Is it possible sexism played a role in the 2016 election? Hmm …

Hell, yes. Not the only factor, but certainly one of them.

I’ve been reading and seeing critiques of Clinton for years that focus on all her flaws as a woman. She’s not attractive. She makes men think of their nagging ex. Men instinctively shield their crotches when she comes near. She destroyed all those women her husband cheated on her with (I’m not sure how — apparently by sticking with him, she discredited them).

More than a few liberal bloggers have predicted that any woman who looks like a strong democratic contender for 2020 will get the same treatment. Kamala Harris. Elizabeth Warren. Or Nancy Pelosi. Matt Lewis at the Daily Beast comes right out and says the Democrats are doomed unless they remove Pelosi as their House leader. Not that he’s sexist or anything, he’s just a no-bullshit, not-afraid-to-be-un-PC guy who calls it like it is: “she’s a liberal woman of a certain age. Now it’s politically incorrect to admit this, but it seems that in much of the county, whether we’re talking Hillary or Pelosi, they come across as hectoring. What is more, this stereotype plays into policy concerns about the “nanny state,” etc. We can label this visceral dislike of them “sexist” if we want, but it seems to be that a lot of men and women alike are repelled by their style. To be sure, it is dangerous for me (as a dude) to note this, but it seems to be an observable phenomenon that liberals would do best not to ignore.”

Ooooh, can we label this dislike sexist? Yes, I think we can. Heck, what else could we call it? Lewis doesn’t suggest Pelosi’s doing a bad job (from most accounts she’s good at her gig), only that she alienates voters because she’s “hectoring.” Likewise Bret Stephens in writing about the Republican win in the Georgia special election suggests it’s because they wanted to deny Pelosi a victory.

Lewis is just a variation of an old argument, used for example to defend segregation in hiring (nobody will come to my store if I hire black staff. I’m not racist, just a businessman!). Or the argument that if Democrats just compromise on all that feminism stuff, to show “respect” for all the Trump/Bush/Reagan voters, they can win back Congress and the White House both. Only carefully phrased to make it sound like he’s stating unpleasant truths, not a sexist himself.

And setting aside that Stephens is just spouting clichés (Repubs are tired of Democratic contempt!) ignores that it’s not Pelosi per se that’s the issue. It could just as easily have been Clinton a couple of years back. Or Michelle Obama. Or Warren. It’s “liberals” and “Democrats” that they’re voting against — the specific face doesn’t matter. It doesn’t even have to be a woman — Bill Clinton and Obama took plenty of hate in their time in office. Removing Pelosi is not the answer, it would be part of the problem.

In other sexist notes:

•According to one juror on the Cosby trial, the question wasn’t guilt or innocence but that he’d suffered enough. Cosby himself is proposing to teach workshops on how not to be accused of rape. As noted at the link, it probably won’t include suggestions like “Don’t have sex with unconscious women.”

•A new Missouri bill would give employers the right to discriminate against women who have abortions or use birth control.

•Women being friends with men is traumatic for men.

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Filed under Politics, Undead sexist cliches