Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Sign of the (NY) Times

A long standing, ever decomposing horse that some ultra-conservatives and their subsequent sheep like to drag out and beat senselessly is that the New York Times is a bastion for liberal thought control and bias, that all of their news slants left, and their info is skewed to control your mind and make you into an Obamadine™ Islamo-Zionist fascist, or Anti-Semitic socialist, or terrorist sympathising communist, or Benghazi distracting flutist, whatever the newest buzzword is for which they did not have the time to find the true meaning.

There is a kernel of truth in their rants; reality tends to have a liberal bias, so it may appear to someone with a penchant for fighting windmills that a news organisation leans left. Interracial relationships did not obliterate the world. They just gave us adorable mixed babies and Lenny Kravitz. The US will not be a sea of all mocha-hued denizens*, though. Cautions of gay marriage and lesbians raising children as a couple leading to the world devolving into Centaur/underage Minotaur orgies that will destroy the foundation of the Capitol turned out to be false, and nothing much has happened beyond more people realising that gay people are PEOPLE and like to do the same things straight people like to do. The Affordable Care Act did not bring about death panels and Ragnarok; it just brought about rudimentary health care.

However, I still would like to beg to differ with the trope that the Gray Lady is left-leaning. The news is the news. You can view whatever you like in that. The editorials, though, show a picture of a bunch of people that don’t know what the hell about which they’re talking.

A few weeks ago, during the predictable downturn of the immense coverage of the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson, Missouri, one John Eligon reminded everyone that the victim of the shooting was no angel, because he started writing and performing rap music and dabbled in drugs and alcohol. Why, even as a baby, he would try to climb over the security gate his mother put up! It’s like he was practising for when he’d inevitably have to escape a medium security prison! He was even accused of stealing an iPod!...that his mother bought him. It is not until near the middle of the article that you see that Mr. Brown was college bound, had a pretty big loving family network, and had absolutely NO JUVENILE CRIMINAL RECORD. All his post-natal crib jumping was for naught.

Clarence Thomasing: When you
Throw your fellow man
under the bus.
Mr. Eligon did not have to use the term “no angel” to describe Mr. Brown, because NO teenager is an angel. All his childhood indiscretions are things that nearly ALL stupid teenagers do, including dabbling in weed and alcohol. Even smart teenagers are stupid. It is the way of the teen. It's not a big deal. Also, since when did writing hip-hop denote a forewarning that crime is in one’s future? That is feeding into the racist stereotype that black music = criminal and carnal tendencies. It was not true of Jazz, it was not true of rock and roll, and it is not true of hip-hop. If it were, then we should all be scared of white teenagers, since they listen to and buy up more hip-hop music than anyone else. Furthermore, if you have to go back to when the victim was 2 to find “foreboding” criminal tendencies, then you are grasping at straws. The article particularly stung because there was a beautiful fluff piece about Darren Wilson, the officer who killed Mr. Brown, in the NYT the very same day. The biggest sting is that John Eligon is black. I don’t expect or want a black reporter to “hook a brother up” with an article about the situation, but to go full Clarence Thomas on him is ridiculous! He wrote a piece about a teen who did idiotic teen things, and said nothing about how EVERY teenager, black or white, does moronic things like steal loosies and sample liquor. Black teens just die for it though. His personal experiences should have made him a bit more conscious of the victim-blaming in which he participated.

Now this week, women were the target, specifically Shonda Rhimes. The designated editorial sniper was Alessandra Stanley, and her opening shot was the first sentence:

When Shonda Rhimes writes her autobiography, it should be called “How to Get Away With Being an Angry Black Woman.”

When the first sentence of an article makes you audibly say, “motherfucker”, you should probably put down the article and go play outside, but I also like to write and talk “S” about BS, so I read on.

Do NOT fux with the Hux.
Though the article does praise Ms. Rhimes for creating such memorable African-American female characters that are strong and take no shit, Ms. Stanley made sure she used her back hand in her praises by focusing much on the fact that they get angry, and their libidos are engorged. She then contrasted Rhimes’s take-no-guff natures to the “benign” Clair Huxtable. You remember “benign” Clair Huxtable, the successful lawyer and matriach who was an adamant feminist and did not have ANY problem putting any chauvinist who crossed her house’s threshold in his place? THAT “benign” Clair Huxtable.  Stanley then goes on to revel in how menacing Rhimes’s characters are, and her “new character”, Annalise Keating of “How to Get Away with Murder” is not as “classicly beautiful”, but “sexy in a menacing way”. The entire article looks like it was penned by the white woman that Oprah punched in “The Color Purple”.

“Shonda Rhimes is such a surprisingly smart nigger! She creates characters that are smart and sassy, just like my field hands! Look at them, acting all smart and scary to get their way! And the are not shy about their natural proclivity to fornication and rage! Shonda is not afraid to cast negresses who don’t look like my house maids. Her latest character is an old, dark-skinned doe! So brave is Shonda!”

Let’s get some things straight: First of all, Viola Davis is sexy as hell. Period. She is not “sexy for her age”, not “sexy for a dark skinned woman”. She is SEXY. Secondly, SHONDA RHIMES DID NOT CREATE HER CHARACTER. Peter Nowalk, a white man, created Annalise Keating. Ms. Rhimes is producing the show. Lastly, do NOT. DISS. Clair Huxtable. EVER.

This woman is HOT.
Many things happened in this interview that would have made me think the article was written by a 60-year old Tea Party “patriot” in a red state in the back woods or near a bayou. Bringing up the sexual nature is not a bad thing, but attributing it so much to black women, which has been a common thing done throughout the development of good ole’ American racism to make brown people seem more like uncontrollable animals than humans, is a VERY bad thing. The same is true of focusing so much on the “anger” that Ms. Rhimes and Mr. Nowalk’s characters have. Making a point of it as much as Ms. Stanley did furthers the less-than-human depiction of us. The tone-deafness of this article is so pungent and repugnant.

I am sure that many of you have heard of “Bitchy Resting Face”. It is an affliction of the face in women, where if they are not constantly looking as if Batman dropped them in a vat of Smilex, then they MUST be in a bad mood, and ready to rip the testicles off of the first purveyour of the Patriarchy they see. Well, before there was bitchy resting face, there was “Resting Angry Black Person Face”. There is no video for it**, but similar to BRF, RABPF is an affliction where, if a black person is not shucking, jiving, and singing “Hello Dolly” in a raspy voice, then he/she MUST be angry, and about to beat the hell out of the nearest white person in the vicinity. Many black women have the disadvantage of having both of BRF and RABPF, which in some conjure the image of them going up to the first white man they see and slashing his face with their prehensile tail spikes, which by the tone of the article, I can only assume Ms. Stanley thinks all black people have***. Though none of these scenarios are true, white men are scared of all these phenomena. Fortunately for white men, the only facial affliction from which they suffer is “Face”. All the focus on the raised ire of the women in Ms. Rhimes’s projects should make Sheryl Sandberg’s ears burn. These women are doing exactly when men in TV shows and films have been doing for years. Yet their anger is seen as them being aggressive and mean and scary, where men are just being men.

If I were Shonda Rhimes, I'd hit someone
with that award.
In a follow-up editorial written by another colleague, A letter from a black woman lawyer (CLAIR HUXTABLE!) emoted in very plain and eloquent language all that was wrong with Ms. Stanley’s article. Ms. Stanley’s initial response was to rebuff and blame Twitter for any backlash. The problem is that neither the lawyer nor I read Twitter, and Twitter didn’t create the trans-Atlantic slave trade, nor did it create feudalism and nickname it “share-cropping”, perpetuate Jim Crow, continue to hammer negative stereotypes into the American brain well into the 20th Century, create programs and blockades that inadvertently hinder lower ethnic classes, and then blame the ethnic classes for their shortfalls, even though there was very little they could do based on the established social and legal norms of the time. Twitter is just where you see the results of all that. Ms. Stanley later apologised for the first sentence...I guess that is a start, but the bulk of the disgust was in the meat of the piece. She did apologise for saying that Viola Davis is “less than classically beautiful”, but immediately followed it by saying that Viola Davis said that of herself in an interview. Ms. Stanley even provided links to other articles in which she used irreverent statements and titles, just to show you how she is! My favourite part of the follow-up was actually a correction at the end: “An earlier version of this post said that there is only one person of color on The Times's staff of [20] critics. There are two.” See? They have TWICE as many as they originally reported! Here’s a paraphrase of the follow-up:

“Hey, I’m sorry about writing such a bad sentence, but I was trying to be wacky! Like I said, Shondy is so smart and witty and articulate! This is all Twitter’s fault! By the way, when I said that the negress Viola Davis wasn’t traditionally pretty, I was just quoting her! She can say it; why can’t I??? Anyway, I’m really sorry. We only have on negro in our office, and he was sick that day. CORRECTION: I forgot about Clarissa! She has such a white name, I forgot that she’s black too!”

Let us get something straight: the stereotypical swill that has been stewing for years for people to catapult at us? IT’S OURS NOW. We own the word, “nigger” now and will use it as we see fit (hopefully not too much. it makes my skin crawl writing it). We can make the watermelon jokes. We can talk about angry black women. If one of us talks about our own perception of beauty, WE are the only ones who can reference it. Do you know why? Because slavery. You forfeit your rights to dragging out these ugly things and NOT getting called on it because of your ancestors’ indiscretions****, ESPECIALLY if your ancestors were Plymouth Rockers, and with a name like Stanley, it is VERY possible. Live with it. I am sure Ms. Stanley is a nice person, but her apologies suck.

Both Ms. Stanley and Mr. Eligon are conduits of the New York TImes that help chip away the idea that they are the Left’s personal Minitruth. It’s just a little bit disturbing that their work was on member of groups to which they belong. That said, even Winston Smith was more than happy to take his own bullet. Facts that are reported have a “left-leaning” bias for now is all. Editorials show what is goign through people’s heads, though. There is no such thing as a liberal mainstream media, except perhaps for MSNBC. The Gray Lady is DEFINITELY not the brains of the operation.


****There may be VERY LITTLE leeway given to you Ellis Islanders.I’ll check at the meeting.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Slut-Shaming Feminism: Bulls*** of the Spider-Woman

A very grave thing happened in the world of women’s issues in society. Is it the fact that Cee Lo Green pleaded no contest to drugging a woman who woke up naked next to him in her bed, and then gave an explanation of rape that parallelled Todd Akin’s? Is it that the vice president of the Arizona GOP suggested introducing legislation to force sterilizing poor women? Is it that the Equal Rights Bill was blocked again? Did Hobby Lobby go even further and require all female employees wear chastity belts? No. Even worse. Marvel let Milo Manara draw Spider-Woman. I hope your pearls are thoroughly clutched. 100+ years of advances in women’s rights and powers have been pushed back.

2004/2014. Clutch the pearls.
The issue that Time, CNN, MSNBC, io9, TheMarySue, Elle, even the Oatmeal, and many, many Twitterers had was that Jessica Drew was drawn in an overly sexual way. Her suit is not so much a suit as it is just body paint, since there is no fabric on earth that would hug the skin as tight as hers. The position in which she was crawling over the building is not only not possible (according to 3D modelling courtesy of TheMarySue), but also leaves her open for rear penetration, in her body painted suit. io9 posited that if it is inappropriate for Spider-MAN to be drawn in this position, then it is inappropriate for Spider-WOMAN to be drawn that way, and by an erotic/fantasy  artist, at that! This further turns women into nothing but sexual objects.

It has become apparent that the scribes of all these articles were born in 2005, because in 2004, Spider-Man was drawn in EXACTLY THE SAME POSITION. Spider-Man has been drawn in a myriad of different crouched and crawly positions, because his name is SPIDER-man, and he CRAWLS on WALLS. Why would Spider-Woman not be drawn in similar positions? Their names aren’t Arthritis-Man and StickJoint-Woman. Since around the time of Seth McFarlane’s run of drawing Spider-Man, the character has been much more flexible, so much to the point that he looks like he’s trying to clean himself like a cat. Spider-Woman was trained to fight by Hydra and AIM, and now it seems she can do many of the same things Spider-Man can do, so why would she not be in the same flexible positions?

Boris likes her in black
Complete with crotch shot
Clothing on superheroes has been mostly body paint after Jack Kirby retired. It is nearly industry standard for mainstream superhero books. They are all drawn like Adonis and Venus with the colourful body paint with the nipples and genitals blurred out. Just imagine Ken and Barbie dolls dipped in a vat of tie-dye. So the complaint that Spider-Woman’s clothes were impossibly tight would have to be extended to every superhero title, both male and female. Besides, in a universe where a person exposed to radioactive material becomes super strong and when I guy gets angry, he turns green and beats everything up, the dynamics of clothing drapery is your gripe? Really? The only thing that is valid that most articles say about the cover is that it is drawn/painted by a world famous erotic artist, Milo Manara. This is true, but Boris Vallejo, another erotic/fantasy artist, painted nearly the entire Marvel Universe in many action poses about 20 years ago. His style was very similar; all heroes and villains, male and female, were naked with painted-on clothes. No one batted an eye. These are fantasy characters. They and their clothes are not supposed to adhere to the traditional laws of physics.

Showing his crotch to
all those faces!
One can argue about whether the cover over-sexualised Ms. Drew. The artist’s long resume does help the argument. However, do you know who else sexualises superheroes? EVERYONE WHO READS COMIC BOOKS. Humans are sexual beasts in general. Exaggeration of the body parts that people finds sexy is a longstanding art tradition going back to the Stone Age. The over-inflated breasts and impossible abs and ridiculously long legs of heroes is partially objectifying the body, but also just what people do when they envision their larger-than-life heroes. I’m sure they like seeing the ridiculously ripped abs of a flexing Spider-Man or Silver Surfer as much as seeing the hyper tense back and hips of a  wall crawling Spider-Woman. All of the articles make the assumption that only dirty little boys read comics, and only dirty old men draw and write them. 47% of comic readers are female. This does not even account for the gay, bisexual, and transgendered readers. Elle, of all publications on the Kvetch-Fest™, really has no ground on which to stand based on morals or good taste since one of their editors thought that posing in blackface was a good idea, and the magazine regularly places a nearly nude woman on every cover. Glass houses, Elle. Glass houses.

I think my biggest issue with the Spider-Woman Kvetch-Fest is that it is directed at Marvel, who has done more in its books diversity-wise than DC. Thor is a woman. There’s a black Nick Fury, a Latina Ghost Rider, a black Spider-Man, a bunch of openly gay or bisexual X-Men, two of which are married, and a Pakistani Muslim American Ms. Marvel, and that is just in the last ten years! There will soon be ANOTHER Marvel movie with a black superhero as the title character. Black Widow will get her own film. Even Elektra got her own film...though we are still awaiting an apology for that and Daredevil.

Spidey in a weed patch
If you want to focus your nerd pop culture ire at any comic company, then why not DC? Where’s our Wonder Woman movie? Why to they keep mistreating Gail Simone, a writing GENIUS? Why did they think that a competition to depict Harley Quinn elaborately killing herself mostly nude was okay? Why is there an entire website dedicated to incredibly stupid things that DC has done? Why is there another site called “Women in Refrigerators”, named after the manner that a Green Lantern’s girlfriend was murdered, highlighting the many ways women are mistreated in comics (Mostly DC female fates)? All these were fine, but Spider-Woman climbing a building was not?

I think what we can take away from this non-troversy is: 

  1. There are many graver things that are detrimental to women's and men's welfare than how Spider-woman is drawn.
  2. People really should do their homework before complaining about something of which they know very little.
  3. Sex needs to stop being made such a taboo. Mostly everyone is going to do it, and it will be depicted subtly in everything. Responding negatively to it is more dangerous to society than just talking about it.
  4. People in Elle offices should not throw stones.
  5. Make mine Marvel.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

No, F*** You: Notes on the Misogysphere

Today was somewhat of a bad day. I’ve been looking forward to a new Gnarls Barkley album, but I learned that ½ of the group, Cee-Lo Green, thinks he can explain rape better than everyone else. He went on Twitter and explained that it’s not rape if a party is unconscious. He also compared unconscious sexual relations to if a person broke into a house; there may be broken glass, but where is the proof of the robbery? He also asserted that people who have been raped remember! Thank goodness he wasn’t a juror in the Steubenville, OH case. If someone broke into his house and fucked shit up while he was asleep, I wonder if he’d change his mind on consent. If you want to develop a raging angrection™, Buzzfeed made an article about it, even though Mr. Green’s Twitter account was deleted, and then re-created, sans the rage porn.

Why on earth did Cee-Lo feel the need to discuss sexual assault? Because he faced sexual assault charges stemming from a 2012 incident in which he slipped ecstasy in a woman’s drink, and she woke up in her bed next to him with no knowledge of how she got there next to him. He pled no contest to slipping the E, was able to skip out on any sexual assault charges, due to lack of evidence. However, the Tweets seem to tell you what happened. So to Cee-Lo Green and his lawyer, I’m pretty sure there are a lot of people saying, “Fuck you, and fuck her, too”.

In other news today, NPR ran a story on the “manosphere”. This is a group of male individuals who fight for “men’s rights” and see the advancement of women’s rights as a threat on their own. This movement precedes blogs, and gained much of a following thanks to Warren Ferrell, essentially the Nathan Bedford Forrest of the men’s rights movement. Again, you can read the NPR article if you like, but you might get an angrection™. Do NOT go to the comments section.

How are Cee-Lo and the manosphere related? Because both of them are #mansplaining their “plights”. The thoughts that Cee-Lo so eloquently tweeted are due to the manosphere. This is the globe from whence the Pick-Up ArtistsⓇ and Nice Guys™ oozed. Active participants in this movement would agree with Green: that unconsciousness is consent. They see the advancement in equality as a threat to their own rights. The only real threat is that they cannot treat women as less than and get away with it. The Manosphere is really the Misogysphere, and #mansplaining is just shorthand for #TheLast10000YearsOfWrittenHistory.

Green and Ferrell and the Misogysphere think that consent is a fluid, and affirmation is a threat. The only thing that consent can be is CONSENT. It is not difficult to gain, but these “men” are not man enough to get it. The Misogysphere is afraid of the concept of consent because they don’t know how to RESPECT. When someone tells you to “man up”, instead of devolving into the Misogysphere, take that as meaning “respect everyone”. Feminism and consent are only threats to men who are actually just adult boys.

...on the bright side, my birthday is tomorrow, and someone sent me a surprise gift: a sold-out Lego Exo-Suit kit, and it has a man AND a woman pilot! Boom.

Silver Linings.

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