Friday, November 17, 2017

Quote of the Day: The Male Bumbler

Lili Loofbourow writes about of rape culture's gender scripts that allow men to play stupid about both their own misbehavior and other men's:
"There's a reason for this plague of know-nothings: The bumbler's perpetual amazement exonerates him. Incompetence is less damaging than malice. And men — particularly powerful men — use that loophole like corporations use off-shore accounts. The bumbler takes one of our culture's most muscular myths — that men are clueless — and weaponizes it into an alibi.

Allow me to make a controversial proposition: Men are every bit as sneaky and calculating and venomous as women are widely suspected to be. And the bumbler — the very figure that shelters them from this ugly truth — is the best and hardest proof.

Breaking that alibi means dissecting that myth. The line on men has been that they're the only gender qualified to hold important jobs and too incompetent to be responsible for their conduct. Men are great but transparent, the story goes: What you see is what you get. They lack guile."
Remember this the next time you see a man, any man, express his "shock and disappointment" about another man's misbehavior.

Given the ubiquity of sexual assault and harassment, any man who expresses shock is lying, extremely stupid, or incredibly imperceptive.

I also agree that many men are quite calculating. I've known them, worked with them, and been harassed by them. I believe that, in particular, sexual predators fit this mold. Relatedly, I don't trust Louis CK's apology. 

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Recap: Supergirl 3.4 "The Faithful"

So, in this episode, we see a flashback of the Supergirl pilot, in which Kara saves a plane from crashing. Apparently, during the past two years, one of the men who was on the flight has been creating a Supergirl-centered cult.

Kara finds a pamphlet for the cult, attends a meeting, and learns that it's comprised of people who she has saved. They basically go up to a podium and tell their stories and pray to the Kypton sun, Rao. I mean, why not, really?

Later that night, Kara and Lena host an alpha queer women's night, with Alex, Maggie, and Sam, the new CatCo CEO who may or may not also be a superhero, in attendance.

[Pulls up chair, watches intently]


So, I've been feeling all season like bad things are headed down the Sanvers highway, so alas. Let's enjoy it while we can. The kids convo once against happens. So, like, yeah, we get it. It's over. It was cute while it lasted.

Moving along, during the evening, one of the cultists sets a building on fire, hoping that Supergirl will save him. She does, thus giving him the religious experience he was seeking. You know, I've never really thought about the superhero dilemma of people deliberately putting themselves in harms way just to have a superhero encounter, but yep, that would definitely happen in real life.

The next day, Kara goes to interview the cult leader and he tells her that he knows she's Supergirl (because apparently he's the only person with basic observational skills in National City). Creepily, he also refers to her as "God." She tells him to disband the cult, but he won't.

When she leaves, he goes into a backroom of the Sea Org or whatever and talks to a pod thingy that he has. There is also torn tissue paper covering the walls, which is how we know it's a cult headquarters.

Turns out the pod is a bomb, and the cult has brought it to a full-capacity stadium. Where was security on that? ANYway, the cult's idea is that Supergirl will save all the people in the stadium, thereby turning them into cult members. Unfortunately, the pod has kryptonite in it, which puts a damper on Supergirl's ability to get rid of the bomb.

Once the cult members see Supergirl's weakness, they ditch the cult. Because they are completely faithless and tacky. So much for faith, peons.

Nevertheless, Supergirl uses her laser vision to create a big hole to push the bomb into, thereby saving everyone. The cult leader guy then goes to prison (the Supergirl timeline is weird, like SVU weird, where criminal process happens without delay). I don't know if the cult leader will turn up again in later episodes, but he remains creepy either way.

Later that day, or maybe another day (see above re: the timeline), the alpha queer women's club goes to Sam's little girl's play, and this aborableness is happening. OMG, a buncha little Supergirls:

During the performance, Alex gets perturbed (WHICH OF COURSE SHE DOES BECAUSE SHE WANTS KIDS). She runs out of the performance and, when Kara follows her, she tells Kara that she wants kids.

Then, because Supergirl often ends on a final, cliffhanger scene, we see that Sam goes into the upside-down or something.

Deep Thought of the Week: I'm actually okay with how I think Sanvers is going to end. My bar is pretty low and mostly consists of "don't wantonly kill the queers," so a couple breaking up because they disagree about having kids is fine. I'm also pretty sure Alex could get a new girlfriend STAT, anyway. Although I really do like Maggie, there are other law enforcement officials in the sea. Olivia Benson, Dana Scully, Misty Knight, Jane Rizolli...

[Note: In November 2017, CW/Supergirl Executive Producer Andrew Kreisberg was suspended after allegations of sexual harassment.]

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

CW Executive Producer Accused of Sexual Harassment

In case you're not aware, Andrew Kreisberg, an executive producer for Supergirl, among other DC Comics shows, has been suspended after allegations that he has engaged in a pattern of sexually harassing colleagues. Kreisberg has denied it, although 19 sources have contributed to the allegations.

In light of this news, I have weighed the decision about continuing the Supergirl recaps here in Fannie's Room.

My site is 100% non-commercial and ad-free, so I have no financial stake in the recaps one way or the other. My intent with the recaps is primarily to provide entertainment to fans of the show, given that mainstream fan spaces are not always welcoming to feminist/minority/female/queer fans. Nonetheless, while my site is relatively small, the recaps also provide some small measure of free publicity for the show.

For now, I will continue the recaps.

In this case, Kreisberg has been removed from the workplace, pending an investigation. I support this action, as the allegations against him are deeply disturbing, particularly given his involvement in a show, about female empowerment.

In addition, Supergirl in particular has multiple female actors/actors of color working on it, as well as a representation of queer love. These representations are meaningful to many fans, fans who might also enjoy these recaps. I am wary of penalizing innocent parties because of the alleged misbehavior of a relatively powerful white man, particularly those might have been victimized by this person (although I also don't begrudge those who engage in consumer protests).

I will also say this: I believe the allegations. Kreisberg admits to engaging in at least some of the behavior the allegations outline - such as commenting on women's appearances and giving hugs/kisses - but refers to his actions as "not sexualized." Whatever he means by that, what seems clear is that, at best, he misunderstands the role that power plays when coupled with those types of comments and actions.

While disturbing, the allegations are also not shocking to me.  They are, sadly, all too believable. As I've written before, it's hard to enjoy pop culture and be a feminist. The rape culture mentality of writers, showrunners, and producers consistently seeps through, onto our screens. So much so that I am constantly left wondering what the people I watch on screen, and those who contribute to a production off-screen, have endured for their careers and, in turn, our entertainment.

As such, I will continue to monitor reports about the investigation, as well as its outcome. I will end the recaps if I believe it's warranted. To those reading, please feel free to post updates about this matter in related blogposts and/or email me directly.

I also plan on adding a link to this post on every Supergirl recap here.

Related, multiple actors affiliated with CW shows have issued statements, including:
Supergirl lead Melissa Benoist, on Twitter.
Arrow actor Emily Bett Rickards, on Twitter. 
Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow actor Caity Lotz, on Twitter.
Supergirl actor David Ramsey, on Twitter.
Arrow lead Stephen Amell, on Facebook.
Supergirl actor Chris Wood, on Twitter

Observation: Men often get the best, most glorified leading roles in the superhero genre. I want to see more of them speak out on this issue.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Rape Culture Rigs the System Against Women

I have a piece up at Shakesville today. Here's a snip:
"It's said that not all superheroes wear capes. But, know this as well: Not all villains wear masks. Rape culture doesn't require them to. Sexual predators in the workplace, particularly the higher up they are, are often brazen and enabled by other, complicit powers-that-be.

Every anti-feminist backlash in the US has had its own version of the self-centered claim that feminists are motivated by the hatred of men. Yet, if the spate of recently-revealed "open secrets" has demonstrated anything, it's that it has always been the other way around.

That women are widely seen as not fully human like how men are fully human means that male reactions across the political spectrum often take a predictable turn: The other side does it too! Many men still view sexual harassment claims, not as wrongs inflicted on human beings who matter, but as ways to score points against political rivals, usually other men."
Read the whole thing.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Quote of the Day: Katha Pollitt

Katha Pollitt, writing about the apocaversery:
"But the main difference is that I hate people now. Well, not all people, of course. Just people who voted for Trump....
I know what you’re thinking: you are the problem, Katha, alienating Trump voters with your snobbish liberal elitism and addiction to 'identity politics.' Yes, I wanted them to have health care and child care and good schools and affordable college and real sex education and access to abortion and a much higher minimum wage. And yes, I wanted the wealthy to pay more taxes to provide for it all. Obviously, this offended the pride of the stalwart, mostly white citizens of Trumplandia, possibly because a good proportion of white people would rather not have something if black people get to have it, too. As for pussy-grabbing, sheesh! Men will be men, get over yourselves, ladies. None of that is 'identity politics,' though. It is just America.
Actually, Trump voters are not the only people I hate. I also hate Jill Stein voters and Gary Johnson voters and Bernie deadenders with their ridiculous delegates math and people with consciences so delicate they could not bring themselves to pull the lever for Hillary so they didn’t vote at all. I hate everyone who thought there was no 'real' difference between the candidates because Hillary was a neoliberal and a faux feminist and Trump was not so bad. I hate people who spent the whole election season bashing Hillary in books and articles and Facebook posts and tweets, and then painfully, reluctantly dragged themselves out to vote for her, as if their one little, last-minute ballot cancelled out all the discouraging and dissuading they’d spent six months inflicting on people. I especially hate everyone who thought that electing a reactionary monster would be okay because it would—or could, or might, who can tell?—bring on the revolution. Looking at you, Susan Sarandon and Slavoj Zizek! You are idiots and my heart seethes with wrath against you."
As politicians left, right, and center continue to chase, center, and cater to white male rage, they ignore the reality that many women are angry as hell. Politicians telling us that the concerns of white men are "bread and butter" compared to side issues will not appease this anger. It will do the opposite.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Friday Feeling - Not Ready To Make Nice

Remember back in 2003, when conservatives, country music fans, and pundits fell ass-over-heels onto their fainting couches when Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks said in public that she was ashamed that the George W. Bush was from Texas and criticized him for leading the nation to war?

"Not Ready to Make Nice," which the Dixie Chicks wrote about the incident, is one of my favorite Dixie Chicks songs.*

In subsequent interviews, Maines referenced her anger, which is evident in the lyrics:
I'm not ready to make nice
I'm not ready to back down
I'm still mad as hell and
I don't have time to go 'round and 'round and 'round
It's too late to make it right
I probably wouldn't if I could
'Cause I'm mad as hell

Can't bring myself to do what it is you think I should
We are living in a moment of profound feminist backlash and resurgence. The Republican Administration launches every conceivable attack on women's autonomy and dignity, while many women are mobilizing around our too-often overlooked pain, fear, and rage.

In 2003, Maines was right to criticize George W. Bush. I had participated in multiple protests of the Iraq War and remember feeling immensely frustrated that the American public had rallied around this man, particularly after he lost the popular vote. We have the benefit of hindsight now, and more of a consensus has developed that the Iraq War was immoral and unjustified.

Being in my early 20s at the time, 9/11 and the Iraq War are two of the major political touchstones of my life that had enormous influences on my political thinking. My journey to make sense of these events led me down a lot of paths, including skepticism, progressivism, leftism/liberalism, and feminism. (I also read a bunch of Ayn Rand books one summer but quickly rejected objectivism after finding the Aynsplaining in Atlas Shrugged to be overstated and tedious).

I suspect for many people, perhaps younger generations or those not previously politically-active, Trump's electoral college win will be a similar touchstone.

I, for one, am not ready to make nice. Have a watch/listen:

*Once while drinking, a friend convinced me to karaoke "Sin Wagon" with her. Whyyyyyyyyyy. It was a disaster of epic proportions.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

The Apocaversary and Everday Internet Cruelties

The apocaversery was yesterday, of course,but I also remember November 9, 2016 as horrible, sleep-deprived aftermath. I never really slept the night of Nov. 8, instead checking the returns and news updates every hour or, so the days sorta runs together until the nightmare realization of our new reality:
This past year has, in many ways been hellish, politically, as I wrote about yesterday.

But also, for me personally, in some ways. On top of the political shit, for several months of 2016 I was the primary caregiver for someone with terminal cancer that, yes, ended up being terminal.* "Grief, when it comes," says Joan Didion, "Is nothing like we expect it to be." That's about right. A week later, you can be okay. And then months later, suddenly, you're not. I feel parts of myself shifting, adapting to new realities while never really being okay with them.

And then, there are the ongoing, everyday cruelties of Internet culture.

I read a recent piece by James Bridle, "Something Is Wrong On the Internet." First, duh. Many, many things are wrong on Internet. But secondly, more specific to this piece, I'm still trying to wrap my head around it. Bridle describes humans and bots that create kids' content that is frightening and traumatizing to children. He ends:
"What concerns me is not just the violence being done to children here, although that concerns me deeply. What concerns me is that this is just one aspect of a kind of infrastructural violence being done to all of us, all of the time, and we’re still struggling to find a way to even talk about it, to describe its mechanisms and its actions and its effects. As I said at the beginning of this essay: this is being done by people and by things and by a combination of things and people. Responsibility for its outcomes is impossible to assign but the damage is very, very real indeed."
I think often, and have written about over the years, the everyday cruelties many (most? all?) social media and Internet users are exposed to on the various platforms we use.

As just one, ongoing example, during some of the worst times of my grief this past year, an Internet "leftist"/"socialist" who I blocked on Twitter periodically stalked, mocked, misrepresented, and sent leftbro harassment my way online for no reason other than that I don't sufficiently "feel the Bern."

Some of the cruelty we experience, we learn not to take personally. Other times, it all feels very creepy, obsessive, and personal, particularly if you're, like I am, a relatively low-profile blogger in the grand scheme of things.

A whole Internet culture has sprung up where a predominant thinking is that people are "weak" or "anti-free-speech" for using the few tools platforms give us to set boundaries, such as blocking and muting. But, we have to continue to push back on this narrative. The political climate is shit. On top of that, people have every right to block others on Twitter for any reason we want. First, because we have the right to set boundaries. And secondly, in light of everything else we navigate in our lives, we have a right to decide how much cruelty, bullshit, tediousness, or time-wasting bad faith foolery we want to absorb on these platforms.

We don't know the overall impact yet of our social media usage. What I do believe, more than ever, is that what happens on the Internet is real, actually, contrary to popular sociopathic thinking on this matter and can compound offline stressors in people's lives.

And yet, to end on a more upbeat note, not everything is terrible.

We march. We write. We make calls. We live. We resist. We build community. We love, even though we inhabit a cruel, cynical, too-cool-to-be-sincere Internet and political zeitgeist.

In these things, I still find hope.

As a wise woman once said, "I'm not giving up and neither should you."

*I don't share this news to oblige anyone to offer condolences. My point is more that it remains a remarkably stupid "socialist" praxis to bully progressives online. Some people don't "feel the Bern." Get over it. Bullying people for that is loser behavior.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Days Like These: Thoughts on a Year of Cruelty

On this day, the apocaversery, I have shared my reflections on the past year of living with the 2016 election results. With the news coming at us fast and seemingly 24/7, I tried to parce out what I believe to be a major theme of the Trump Era, along with some observations about how we continue to move forward given our current political realities.

Read it over at Shakesville!

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Recap: Supergirl 3.3 "Far From the Tree"

So, last episode we saw that Alex wants kids and Maggie doesn't, an issue they apparently hadn't discussed before getting engaged. Whooooooops. Nevertheless, we see them this episode planning their wedding shower. What could go wrong?

During dinner with Alex and Eliza, Maggie also reveals that her dad disowned her after she was outed at school when she was 14. Later, Alex suggests that Maggie invite her family to their shower, but Maggie declines. (Oh dear, please don't "surprise" Maggie by inviting her family). Phew, it turns out that when Alex falls asleep, Maggie calls her dad and invites him.

Now, the last time a TV lesbian invited her no-good dad to her wedding was Shane on The L Word and we all know how that turned out. The no-good dad convinced Shane to leave beautiful, wonderful Carmen at the altar because infidelity apparently runs in their family or whatever. Please don't let us down here, TV lesbians.

Meanwhile, J'onn receives a message from M'gann to come to Mars. Supergirl goes with him, in J'onn's sweet shape-shifting ride:

Get in losers, we're going to Mars.
This shot looks like they're on a date at a drive-in theater together, but they're not, actually, and that would be weird. The car turns into a spaceship, which can travel to Mars in about 3 seconds flat.

When Supergirl and J'onn arrive on Mars, M'gann reveals that another Green Martian is alive, Jonn's father. Apparently, they need his help to find some staff thingy before the White Martians find it and kill the resistance. J'onn finds his father, but his father doesn't believe it's really him, so he won't help them find the staff thingy.

So, this episode is an angsty father one, it seems.

Alex's dad shows up for the shower and has an overall uncomfortable demeanor, which makes me anxious. Now, I've tried hard to avoid #Sanvers spoilers, but I've had a bad feeling about the couple ever sine it was revealed they are in conflict about having kids. Yet, I also haven't seen Internet freaking out about anyone dying or breaking up, so.

Anyway, at the shower, Maggie's dad storms out upon seeing Alex and Maggie kiss. When Maggie goes after him, he explains that he immigrated to the US and worked hard his whole life to earn the respect of white people. He therefore sees Maggie's lesbianism as throwing all that hard-earned respect away. Poor Maggie.

Later, Maggie and Alex have "the kids" conversation. Maggie says she doesn't want kids, again, and Alex says she feels the same way, but you can sorta tell she's lying. Yikes. Alex, I love ya, but nothing good comes from lying about "the kids" conversations.

Back on Mars, Supergirl gives J'onn's dad an inspiring speech, encouraging him to trust that it's really J'onn. And, it works. J'onn and his dad use their Green Martian psychic powers to share a memory:

The memory they share is of J'onn's cute little Green Martian daughters. J'onn's dad then tells them all where the staff thingy is, they retrieve it, and then J'onn and Supergirl bring the staff (and J'onn's dad) to Earth. And there we have it, the gang has lost a dad and gained a dad.

In conclusion, boo, no Lena this episode.

Deep Thought of the Week: Supergirl rolling into a fight driving an old-timey, shapeshifting car whilst listening to "Baby One More Time" by Britney Spears is the superhero scene I didn't know I needed in my life.

 [Note: In November 2017, CW/Supergirl Executive Producer Andrew Kreisberg was suspended after allegations of sexual harassment.]

Monday, November 6, 2017

The #MeToo Backlash Is Coming

I tweeted some thoughts about the impending certain-to-come backlash to the "recent revelations*" that lots of men, left and right, are sexual predators, harassers, and rapists.**

To summarize, while we currently have momentum, we also need to prepare ourselves for the male-dominated mainstream media to begin pushing back harder against these revelations with new, adapted silencing mechanisms.

We will see the usual smatterings of concerned people suggesting that while the recent revelations have been "shocking" and "necessary," hasn't it all "gone too far"? Men will write pieces with detached airs of presumed reason about all the womanly hysteria. Anti-feminist women will be paid to write think pieces confirming that yes yes, the women have gone cray-cray, thus liberating rape culture enablers from charges of misogyny.

This backlash will come, and likely very soon.

See, for instance, the following take. Apparently, women have two, and only two, options for living in society with men: (a) be assaulted and shut up about it or (b) don niqabs:

The most extreme misogynists will begin testing the backlash waters first. It's less that they create misogyny and rape culture and more that they quite easily tap into what is already pre-existing in society. Other men - "good men" - will then feel comfortable writing the aforementioned "objective" "devil's advocate" pieces wherein the misogyny is more subtle and coded.

*Recent revelations deserve scare quotes, since many of these revelations were apparently "open secrets."

** "We told you so." - ancient feminist proverb.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Flashback Friday: Losing to Girls

Oh, you know, just re-posting this, from April 2016, for no particular reason.
Here are some fun narratives I'm picking up regarding the 2016 Democratic Primary:
"Bob Kerrey, a former Nebraska governor and senator who ran for the Democratic nomination in 1992 and who has endorsed Mrs. Clinton in the current race, said Mr. Sanders might be winning now if he had relentlessly pressured Mrs. Clinton since last fall over her closed-door speeches to Wall Street banks, her role in the finances of Clinton Foundation programs, and other vulnerabilities. Mr. Sanders did not raise the paid-speech issue, after long resistance, until late January."
  • Bernie is only losing because he wasn't even trying that hard anyway (especially in the states that he's lost):
Tad Devine, Sanders' strategist:: “Essentially, 97% of her delegate lead today comes from those eight states where [Sanders] did not compete.”
  • Bernie is only losing because "the establishment" has rigged the system against him:
I see this claim mostly at far left and far right websites (sometimes two peas in a tinfoil-hat-wearing pod), which I do not want to link to - although they can easily found by searching "Rigged Election 2016 Hillary." Although voter suppression is likely attributable to Republican-led legislatures, many hard core Bernie supporters believe that Hillary, who to them represents "the establishment," has a top secret "in" with voting officials in the state where she's won, thus resulting in unfair election wins for her.
  • Bernie isn't even losing, and even if hypothetically he were to lose the popular election, he'll still win at the convention:
Despite the fact that Clinton is leading the popular vote (and will likely win the popular vote nationwide), yesterday Sanders' campaign manager Jeff Weaver said he hopes and believes Sanders will come out of the Democratic Convention the nominee anyway.
Now, more than a year later, there's a lot of media hyperventilating about Donna Brazile's "admission" that the primary was "rigged" against Bernie, but if you actually read what she wrote, it's slim on details and big on sweeping accusations. The facts, at least as she presents them, are that Obama left the DNC in debt, Hillary for American and the Hillary Victory Fund resolved the debt, and the DNC and Hillary's campaign signed a Joint Fundraising Agreement whereby Hillary's campaign would control the party's finances and strategy. (This is also a good reminder that Bernie Sanders is an Independent, not a Democratic).

Okay. So, if you believe Hillary Clinton won 4 million more votes than Bernie Sanders primarily because she and/or the DNC "rigged" the contest, you would have to also believe:
  • That the impact of pro-Bernie/anti-Hillary Russian propaganda was nil, even though social media companies have just testified that Russian propaganda reached at least 125 million users.
  • That she exerted power over election officials in every state in which she won, even though each state controls their own primaries and the parties exert control over caucuses (which Bernie disproportionately won).
  • That a political and electoral system that was literally founded on excluding non-white, non-male persons from participating has no lingering, built-in "rigging" in favor of white men. 
One of the sadder aspects of all this is that Hillary is being further demonized and, instead of looking at Bernie's serious shortcomings as a candidate, he's being sanctified and a party is seeming to solidify around him and his crusty, white-male-centric worldview.

I repeat myself, but misogyny is a national vulnerability. Until we reckon with that, it will always be so.


Update 1:

Update 2: And, Brazile's claims about the funding raising agreement were, to be blunt, not accurate. Via NBC, the agreement only pertained to the general election, not the primary.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Maxine Waters' Speech at the Women's Convention

Maxine Waters is a national treasure and I'm so glad she's a leader of the resistance.

In her speech at this past weekend's Women's Convention in Detroit, she called Donald Trump "the most dishonorable and despicable human being to ever serve in the office of the presidency."

I'm here for it and her speech is 100% worth watching in full.

Women's Marches Prove Historic 
We Walk Together: Thoughts on the Women's Convention 
Bernie Backs Out Of Women's Convention

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Russian Content on Social Media More Widespread Than Previously Reported

Almost a year ago, after the election, I wrote a post on Internet culture in the Trump era. In it, I observed (emphasis added):
"I don't believe any single cause explains the election results and it is not my intent today to suggest otherwise. It's more that, in a way, I find that many of the post-election analyses I've read seem quaint in what is assumed about the electorate in the Internet age. Although I joined Twitter in 2009 and used it sparsely then, I picked it back up about a year ago. What I saw as I followed Election 2016 is that news and narratives happen very fast on Twitter - and related, so does the cruelty.

As Twitter users would live-Tweet the debates, they would instantly begin creating hashtags and memes about memorable moments and quotes. It wouldn't be until the next day, and sometimes later, that traditional media would catch up, running a story about a popular hashtag or quote. I annoyed my wife many times when she'd try to relay a bit of news to me only for me to inform her that people on Twitter had that conversation, like, 36 hours ago. Which is practically a month in Twitter time.

I began to see that people active on social media, and Twitter especially, were having different experiences of Election 2016 than people who were not."
Over the past year, we have continued to learn more about why social media has been so heavily implicated in the results of the 2016 election. Most recently, via the Washington Post, it's being reported that Russian operatives not only used popular social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube to spread propaganda, but that these activities are much more widespread than these companies previously reported:
"Facebook has said Russia’s efforts to influence the election involved 470 accounts and pages that spent more than $100,000 on 3,000 ads that reached 10 millions users. But outside researchers have said for weeks that free posts almost certainly reached much larger audiences — a point that Facebook will concede in its testimony on Tuesday.

Facebook’s general counsel, Colin Stretch, plans to tell the Senate Judiciary Committee that between 2015 and 2017, a single Russian operation in St. Petersburg generated about 80,000 posts and that roughly 29 million people potentially saw that content in their news feeds.

Because those posts were also liked, shared and commented on by Facebook users, the company estimates that as many as 126 million people may have seen material in their news feeds that originated from Russian operatives, which was crafted to mimic American commentary on politics and social matters such as immigration, African American activism and the rising prominence of Muslims in the United States."
Relatedly, there are some rumors that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is considering a presidential run in 2020. Given Facebook's potential to influence voter opinions and spread propaganda behind the scenes, that rumor sends chills down my spine. (There's also the fact that he's unqualified, but it's been amply established that qualifications no longer matter in our democracy).

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

The Russia Reversal: Misogyny Is a National Vulnerability

Today, over at Shakesville, I revisit the misogynistic coverage of the 2016 election and current affairs. Here's a snip:
"Misogyny is a national vulnerability and it was leveraged against our nation to our detriment. Donald Trump and Mike Pence have continued to lead a racist, misogynistic backlash to progress that proves to be profoundly stupid in that it will harm not only women/people of color, but many of the people who support these men.

Further, as more information is brought to light about Trump's possible collusion with Russian agents, it turns out that, whooooooops, Trump actually does have a "transparency saga" of epic proportions despite the benefit of the doubt so many pundits were willing to undeservedly grant him.

Going forward, a good thing to keep in mind is that those with the loudest and largest media platforms to cover these current events continue to be white men, many of whom are entertained by or actively complicit in the oppression of women."
Check out the whole thing!

Friday, October 27, 2017

American Horror Friday

Happy pre-Halloween!

Is anyone watching American Horror Story (AHS): Cult? Just so you know, I relate hard to seconds 4-6 of the trailer, wherein the Michigan Lesbian hears the winner of the 2016 election announced.

Over the years, AHS has been a mixed bag for me. I'll watch anything with Sarah Paulson or Jessica Lange in it but, and I feel old saying this, some of the brutal, bloody violence that is consistently portrayed feels both gratuitous and, worse, boring. But, I say this as someone who has always found psychological thrillers (think: Misery) scarier than gore.

Cult is still ongoing, of course, so I'll hold off on a final judgment.

Thus far, the plot feels like it's flirting with something close to a false equivalence. By assembling a group of angry, disgruntled, and unhappy people across the political spectrum drawn to the charismatic Kai, is the message here really going to end up being that rage, "on all sides," is The Real Danger?

I guess we'll see. What's certain is that Ally should definitely dump Ivy.

A Cyber-Trolling Trend

Via the Chicago Tribune, police in Des Plaines, Illinois are investigating allegations that a man there threatened to lynch Representative Frederica Wilson.
"By Monday, [the man's] Facebook page was no longer open to public comments. Many posts insulting liberals and supporting Trump remained, however, as well as several posts about Johnson. One, a meme, read, 'I really don’t mind being called a bigot, racist, close minded (sic), redneck, backwoods… heard them all by now and use (sic) to it… still better than being called a liberal.'”
The article ended with the man saying, “I don’t think a lot about what I write on Facebook.”

That's a trend I notice when I read about Internet bullies being confronted with their poor behavior. They write with no seeming concern with how their words or cruelty might impact others. Many trolls and harassers share the attitude that they personally should suffer no consequences for their online speech, that what happens on the Internet isn't real, and that their targets are stupid for taking Twitter/Facebook seriously.

It's important to remember, when engaging with Internet trolls and harassers, "they cognitively understand the emotional distress they cause through their trolling behaviour without empathising with their victim's emotional suffering."

They know that their targets feel pain as a result of cyber-harassment. They just don't care. While they may think about you -their target - quite a bit, they don't relate to your suffering, pain, or fear at all.

I wish more people understood this, particularly those who scold others for being "oversensitive" or whatever for setting boundaries on engaging with harassers.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

The "Redemption" of George W. Bush

Can we not?
Apparently, Dems now have a 51/42 favorable view of George W. Bush, and this favorability increases by age. That is, people who actually fucking lived through the Bush II years are more likely to have a favorable opinion of the man.

Back in November of 2016, I warned:
 "[R]emember that this normalization of Trump will make other Republicans who are no less deplorable, yet who are more subtle in their bigotries, seem normal, decent, and better by comparison.
Remember that they are not"
Remember two things as people on social media boast about the popularity of this or that white man:

The misogyny and racism leading to the rise of Trump have been deeply, profoundly stupid.

Coming in at a close second is the way so many people in the US will not only accept, but like, a white man - even if he's a dangerous incompetent bigot - as long as he can sufficiently perform "I'm just an ordinary guy."

Related Throwback Thursday: In January 2009, I wrote a harsh farewell post to George W. Bush. I stand by most of it. But, oh what a sweet summer child I was here:
"In the post-9/11 world, by electing Barack Obama, I think in our own American way we've chosen to grow up a little."

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Recap: Supergirl 3.2 "Triggers"

So, Lena has bought CatCo and, in this episode, we learn that she's a hands-on owner who wants to be in the office on a daily basis. She also communicates directly with staff, calls staff meetings without telling managers, and roams around the office floor just talking to people.

James is, allegedly, the CEO (or whatever Cat's replacement is), and he's not happy about Lena's presence and how she's undermining his authority over his staff:

I can't say I blame him. She also scolds Kara for running in and out of the office all the time, which she does because she's Supergirl, of course. So, what I'm realizing is that I like Lena better when she's abstracted from the workplace. Or, maybe Kara just needs to come out to Lena already. As Supergirl, I mean.

Anyway, the villain of the week is a meta-human, Psi, who I suppose I would compare to Tamsin, the Valkyrie from Lost Girl. Psi has been robbing banks by using her superpower which, apparently, involves invoking people's phobias just by looking at them. (In Lost Girl, one of Tamsin's powers was to "cast doubt" on her enemies).

Psi invites Supergirl to join her on the dark side. Hmmm, evil Supergirl would be a fun plot twist, but sadly, our hero declines (for now?). So, Psi shoots a psychic mindbeam at Supergirl and causes her to feel claustrophobic, a fear Supergirl didn't know she ahd. They have another encounter, later, and Supergirl then begins remembering her journey from Krypton, in the tiny pod, completely alone after watching everyone she knew die. A bit later, she has a panic attack while in an elevator.

So, for perhaps the first time, we begin to see Supergirl truly deal with the psychological trauma of losing her family and entire planet. Yes, she was upset when Alex killed her aunt Astra in Season 1, but she also never lost her outwardly peppy persona.

Supergirl tells Winn about the phobia and panic attack, and then Alex walks in on them talking about it. When Supergirl leaves, this happens:

Oh, Winn.

Winn tells Alex what's going on. Alex then confronts Supergirl, leading to an important Danvers Sisters bonding moment.

In her final encounter with Psi, we then learn that Supergirl is also scared that Mon-El died in the pod she sent him away on. Alex gives her pep talk, though, and she's able to defeat Psi by head-butting her. LOL.

There's also this side plot about a single mom (and new L Corp CEO), Sam, who may or may not have superpowers. So, I guess we'll see where that goes. And, in Sanvers news, Alex makes a passing comment about them having kids one day, and Maggie says she could never see herself being a mom. Whooooops your engagement!

 [Note: In November 2017, CW/Supergirl Executive Producer Andrew Kreisberg was suspended after allegations of sexual harassment.]

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Dispatches From the Queer Resistance (No. 4)

Hey everyone, I have a new post over at Shakesville, documenting the queer-related things we need to be aware of and resisting. Check it out:

Dispatches From the Queer Resistance (No. 4)

Friday, October 20, 2017

Bernie Backs Out of Women's Convention

What more can you do but look into the camera like Jim from The Office:

 "In seven days, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders role for the Women's Convention in Detroit went from a primary speaker to a panelist to not attending at all.

Sanders said he can’t attend the event because he’ll be in Puerto Rico to survey the devastating damage from Hurricane Maria, which hit the island about a month ago.

'I want to apologize to the organizers of the Women's Convention for not being able to attend your conference next Friday,' Sanders said in a statement. 'Given the emergency situation in Puerto Rico, I will be traveling there to visit with San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz and other officials to determine the best way forward to deal with the devastation the island is experiencing.'"

It's odd, right, that he has yet to comment on the controversy. A simple, "Women, I hear you, my presence at your convention is clearly a distraction. I'm going to respectfully bow out," would have gone far to let the women who were critical of his presence know that he listens to women who have concerns about his politics.

Let's hope he's able to offer some tangible aid and support to those in Puerto Rico. If he does, and it's not just an awkward photo-op gimmick like when he went to "meet with" the Pope, I agree that going to Puerto Rico is probably a better use of his time than talking at women at the Women's Convention.

We Walk Together: Thoughts on the Women's Convention

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Isn't It So Much More Than In High Heels and Backwards?

Queer women love to drag The L Word's Jenny Schecter, but I still maintain that she's a far better character than people give her credit for. She has her flaws, but her feminist sensibilities are certainly more progressive than those of most of the other characters on the show.

I always viewed the Season 2 plot of the heterosexual man secretly installing a camera in Shane and Jenny's house, so he could spy on the women and film them having sex, to be an implicit critique of the heterosexual, white male gaze that the show had to implicitly cater to in order to have ever been produced in the first place.

Here is Jenny, confronting the predator, in an epic take-down:

Heterosexual men undoubtedly watched the show. Yet, did they fully understand it wasn't a documentary, or representative of the full breadth of queer women's culture? And thus, rather than them being voyeurs privy to "a lesbian world," did they get that this L Word-universe was at least partially created for them, too, in that the leading women were all primarily thin, femme, conventionally-attractive, and rarely outspokenly-feminist. Such women exist, to be sure, and I love them. But, these women are not fully representative of the spectrum of queer women who do exist, and who many queer women would have loved to have seen represented in a TV show about queer women.

The theme feels particularly meta these days, with woman after woman in Hollywood - including Mia Kirshner, who portrayed Jenny - revealing Harvey Weinstein to be a sexual predator.

Perhaps this is a statement of the obvious, but it's often hard to enjoy pop culture and be a feminist.

As I tweeted earlier this week, "It's almost like the fact that our national industry for storytelling being run by harassers and abettors has an impact on our culture." Themes of rape culture are weaved throughout our TV shows and movies. This too, is a statement of the obvious. But, I truly believe the representation of rape culture in TV/film is a reflection of the rape culture that has long been allowed to thrive within Hollywood -that "open secret" that Hollywood's most powerful people just let persist.

(Isn't West World, and its fantastical world built precisely for men to rape actor-robots, one of the biggest, most recent admissions of all? Remember: Show, don't tell!)

And now, more than ever, I'm left to wonder: what have the women I watch on screen had to endure to get there?

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Recap: Supergirl 3.1 "Girl of Steel"

After a, in my opinion, lackluster finale last season, Supergirl has returned. To recap, Supergirl and friends stopped a Daxamite invasion, Mon-El had to leave Earth, and Alex had proposed to Maggie.

First off, I'll say that it's good to have Supergirl back. I've been watching old episodes of Arrow and Flash in the "off-season," so it's good to be watching a superhero show with a woman in a leading role again.

Secondly, we learn that Supergirl is sad because Mon-El is gone. We know this because she does her job whilst not being 100% cheerful at all times.

But, on the upside, this:

That's right. In the alternate timeline in which I want to be living, Cat Grant is apparently the Press Secretary for President Wonder Woman and she's on the news telling the populace that Global Warming is a real thing in the real world and, oh hey, I bet there's also no Nazis in that motherfucking White House.

Sadly, some jerky guy (who Lena calls a "sentient ball of cheap cologne" he he) has announced that he's buying CatCo because he thinks they've become too biased. Cheap Cologne wants to have editorial control over what's published and also to defame Lena. We'll see about that.

Shortly thereafter, Kara quits her job as a reporter at Catco. James had been pressing her to do a story about Supergirl saving Earth from the Daxamites and it seems Kara's been too angsty to want to write it. Indeed, she goes to some dark places in this episode, acknowledging that she's not a human and saying that "Kara Danvers was a mistake." Yikes. Let's see if and how she can pull herself out from this darkness.

The foe of the week is some dude named Bloodsport. Shrug. He attacks the city during the unveiling of a statue of Supergirl. True to form, Supergirl saves the day. In fact, it seems that she's been Super-Supergirl since Mon-El has been gone, channeling all of her sadness/anger into crime-fighting.

Meanwhile, Alex and Maggie are in wedding-planning mode. Pause for a moment of appreciation of Alex Danvers:

Alex asks J'onn to walk her down the aisle and it's super cute. They both tear up and Alex says, "Don't cry. Because if you cry, I'm gonna cry, then everybody here's gonna know that we actually can cry." She also says she's wearing Kevlar and boots to the wedding. Oh, honey.

In SuperCorp news, Lena ends up buying CatCo so she, rather than Cheap Cologne, can have control over it. In response, Cheap Cologne storms into Lena's office in a menacing manner, because I guess he can just do that. Kara is there, too, and look how she puts herself between Lena and danger:

Kara then storms out of Lena's office, takes off her glasses, and then approximately 7 seconds later comes back as Supergirl, while of course neither Lena nor Cheap Cologne know Kara and Supergirl are one and the same (lol).

Later that night, a Shawn Colvin song is playing and Kara texts Lena that she'll go back to CatCo. Let me just zoom in and depixelate Lena's response:

Oh, Lena, just buy some Kevlar and boots already:

[Note: In November 2017, CW/Supergirl Executive Producer Andrew Kreisberg was suspended after allegations of sexual harassment.]

Monday, October 16, 2017

We Walk Together: Thoughts on the Women's Convention

I have a piece up over at Shakesville about how the recent outrage about Bernie Sanders speaking at the Women's Convention fits into the context of longstanding divides on the left.  Although, the lack of clear communication from the event organizers didn't help de-escalate the conversation.

Check it out!

Friday, October 13, 2017

What a Week, Huh?

To look on a bright side, season three of Supergirl premiered this week, so I guess I'll continue writing recaps so it's not all gloom n' doom around here.

I also continue to be highly entertained by humorous fan vids and will never get tired of watching some Kara Danvers/Lena Luthor flirting to the sweet 1980's sax in George Michael's "Careless Whisper" (see, e.g., the vid below at moment 1:09). That goes double for any fan vid featuring a Strong Female Character set to the tune of "I Need a Hero" (see, e.g., 3:18).

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Why Hasn't Hillary?

Over at Shakesville, I wrote a piece about the cacophony of absurd male demands that Hillary Clinton answer for Harvey Weinstein's behavior. A snippet:

"It has been revealed that a famous man is a sexual predator and yet why hasn't Hillary Clinton, a private citizen who has been widely told to retire to Grey Gardens and shut up forever, condemned him on-demand, whilst using the correct tone and words, after the appropriate time interval, and while donating money to charity in an amount and on terms precisely-determined by men, after the revelations were made public?"

Check out the whole thing!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Wayback Wednesday: Quiet

Joss Whedon. Harvey Weinstein. The Republican Administration's ongoing assaults on women's rights. Millions of Americans and a Republican Congress supporting and condoning an admitted sexual predator as head of state. The ongoing demands that Hillary Clinton shut up and/or say only precisely what other people want her to say. The dirtbag left mocking a rape survivor without apology (to her).

Lately, I've been thinking a lot about this song, "Quiet," which went viral during the Women's March the day after Trump's inauguration.

It's not a shocking revelation to say that times are tough.

People across the political spectrum often treat women's rights, and specifically violence against women, as a game in which they can make some larger "gotcha" against a political opponent.

What becomes frustrating is when the voices of progressive feminists who have long condemned rape culture in its varied manifestations - left, right, and center - continue to be ignored in these mainstream point-scoring narratives. Many men who do get it (or at least appear to publicly), often self-promote their own performances of "getting it," rather than promoting the women who have been making these observations for a very long time.

Yet, one of the most important things men can do as progressive allies is to refuse to participate in rape culture with other men. This refusal is often done in quiet, everyday acts: calling out shitty behavior of other men, not bonding with men over the subordination and abuse of women, and not participating in "locker room talk."

Also, listen to women. Rape culture places a lot of pressure on women to be quiet about our experiences within this system. If we're talking about our experiences with rape and gendered-abuse, be aware that doing so usually results in more negative consequences than positive for us.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Femslash Friday: Dana/Alice

Oh, The L Word. I wish I could quit you.

I think one of my top five favorite belief-suspensions about this show will forever be the notion that Dana Fairbanks, First of Her Name, was a professional tennis player. Here she is doing one of her workout regimens in her girlfriend's bedroom, straining to lift a 2.5-pound weight, you know, as a professional tennis player does:

I still love her, of course. Even though she shoulda never let that soup chef get away.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Man In Party Devoted to Regulating Evil Sneers at People Who Want to Regulate Evil

In response to the mass shooting in Las Vegas, Republican Matt Bevin, Governor of Kentucky, tweeted a scold:

This stance on "regulating evil" would be news to many of us, yes?

As I tweeted, I'm old enough to remember that trying to regulate (what it deems as) evil has long been the very core of Republican Party politics, whether via the regulation of sex, masturbation, sex toys, reproductive rights, birth control, same-sex marriage, homosexuality, non-missionary-position sex, uppity women, gender non-conformity, bathroom usage, non-Christian religious and spiritual beliefs, among other acts, beliefs, or persons deemed "evil" by its predominately-white Christian base.

That an actual sitting politician would sneer that people who live in terror of gun violence are political opportunists primarily demonstrates that the modern Republican Party is a hopeless death-cult of despair and cynicism.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

What Happened Book Club at Shakesville

Hey everyone, if you're reading What Happened, by Hillary Clinton, Melissa is running a chapter-by-chapter book club.

Check it out! 

Related: Why I Listen to Hillary

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Inept Corporate Reponse to Foreign Interference Threatens US Democracy

The New York Times, along with the Washington Post, have been extensively covering Russia's interference in the 2016 election.

Unfortunately, my overall sense of the situation is that many on the right and some on the anti-Clinton left are dismissive of the reports, mocking it as either "fake news" or "redbaiting." Yet, this type of foreign interference should concern us even if it's done in favor of our preferred candidates. As some ridicule the Russia coverage now, these same folks may not find it quite so humorous if and when it's used against, say, Bernie Sanders.

In fact, we would be wise to pay attention to reports that bot activity, and foreign interference via social media, continues. It's not just a "2016" thing or an "anti-Clinton" thing.

One of the tactics that has been uncovered since the 2016 election includes the Russian creation of imposter Twitter and Facebook accounts. Via the Times:
"On Twitter, as on Facebook, Russian fingerprints are on hundreds or thousands of fake accounts that regularly posted anti-Clinton messages. Many were automated Twitter accounts, called bots, that sometimes fired off identical messages seconds apart - and in the exact alphabetical order of their made-up names, according to the FireEye researchers.
... Clinton Watts, a former F.B.I. agent who has closely tracked Russian activity online, said that Twitter and Facebook suffered from a 'bot cancer eroding trust in their platforms.'  But he added that while Facebook 'has begun cutting out the tumors by deleting false accounts and fighting fake news,' Twitter has done little and as a result, 'bots have only spread since the election.'"
I have been writing for many years about the inept corporate response to abuse and harassment on social media platforms. Regardless of the "thought" that companies actually do put into the issue, the end-user experience often makes it appear as though the platform was created by libertarian tech-bros who prioritize "free speech" over users' experience to interact with others in authentic, civil, and non-abusive ways.

Twitter and Facebook in particular offer hokey, marginally-useful advice and tools that, say, allow us to "block" abusive users but that don't ever truly penalize abusive users for their sociopathic behavior. The criteria by which people actually are penalized, for instance by being put into temporary "Twitter time-outs," appear arbitrary or dependent upon who a case is reviewed by, who the user is, who the person reporting the instance is, and how much media attention the instance might have received.

Now we're learning on a near-daily basis that this ineptitude in policing the way people used their platforms likely played a role in the electoral college win of Donald Trump. Even as many of use these flawed platforms, how long will we let them abscond responsibility? What would the economic impact be of a boycott of 1 day or 1 week? What would it take to get these companies to take these issues more seriously?

Friday, September 29, 2017

Flung Out of Space Friday

Hi, I'm Fannie. It's 2017 and my hobbies currently include having daily bouts of existential fear, calling and writing Congress, protesting, and watching Carol on Netflix, where it's now available for marathon-viewing.

If anyone needs me, I'll be at Lezzie's for the rest of the weekend. And by "the rest of the weekend," I mean the next 3.5 years.

I also wouldn't mind a prequel or sequel about Carol/Abby.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Establishment Republicans Lose in Alabama

Via the Washington Post, Roy Moore, has won the Republican primary in the Senate race to fill Jeff Session's seat, beating his Mitch McConnell-back opponent:
"Unable to match the [Republican-led] ad campaign against him, Moore was defended by a loose grouping of anti-establishment conservative activists, including Bannon, former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, 'Duck Dynasty' star Phil Robertson and conservative talk radio broadcasters including Laura Ingraham.

But in significant ways, his campaign differed from any other Senate effort in recent memory. On the stump, Moore made his belief in the supremacy of a Christian God over the Constitution the central rallying point of his campaign.....
In a 2002 legal opinion, he described homosexual conduct as 'an inherent evil,' and he has argued that the 2015 U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized same-sex marriage should not be considered the rule of law. He was suspended from Alabama’s court a second time for defying the higher court’s marriage decision, and he later decided to retire from the bench.

If elected to the Senate, Moore has promised to be a disruptive force who will directly challenge the leadership of McConnell."
Palin? The Duck Dynasty guy? Laura Ingraham? These people are the fringe of the fringe.

Sure, this election happened in Alabama, but it's becoming more and more clear that Republicans, after having stoked bigotry for decades to win elections, have lost control of the monster they've created.

Now, if only someone had warned us that so many of our fellow citizens might fall into a, how shall I say this, basket of deplorables.

Friday, September 22, 2017

#BiWeek Friday: Callie Torres

Fact: Callie Torres is the best Grey's Anatomy character in the history of the long-running show and also my fave bi character* of all time (and played by the fabulous bi-in-real-life Sara Ramirez).

Also, I just really wish things would have worked out between her and my favorite roller-shoe-wearing pediatrician. Speaking of which, please enjoy this Calzona fan vid.

*Other contestants in the running were Bo Dennis (Lost Girl), Kalinda Sharma (The Good Wife), Sara Lance (Arrow, Legends of Tomorrow), Number Three (Battlestar Galactica), Kara Danvers (Supergirl, in my headcanon anyway), Tara Thornton (True Blood), all of the male vampires in True Blood(??), 

Talk about this or other stuff!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

The GOP Base in One Sentence

Musician Kid Rock is apparently contemplating a Senate run as a Republican.

Via PinkNews, here's pretty much the perfect encapsulation of the GOP base right now:
 "Polling has shown [Kid Rock] has massive support among the GOP base, despite his lack of experience or policy knowledge or stated political agenda."
Importantly, Kid is willing to publicly act like a bigot by, for instance, expressing his transphobic thoughts, as detailed in the PinkNews article.

All that matters to many people is that Kid Rock is "politically incorrect." That is the only relevant qualification a candidate need have, at least if he's a white guy. That he's otherwise completely unqualified doesn't matter. Lock her up, etc.

What a cool party, Republicans. And, to be quite frank, any person on the left still gaslighting us about the bigotry the GOP stokes can fuck off forever.

Have a nice day!

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Why I Listen To Hillary

Over at Shakesville, I shared my thoughts on some of the gross reactions to Hillary Clinton's book and why I choose to listen to her rather than demand that she go away forever.

Check it out:
"Almost a year ago, I wrote about how I think often about the silence demanded of marginalized people so that other people don't have to feel badly about being bigots. I still think about it, and most specifically about all the heavy lifting that silence does in service of false and one-sided political narratives, particularly the narrative that has developed since the 2016 election: In the wake of one of the most brutally misogynistic, racist, and xenophobic campaigns in recent history, Hillary Clinton needs to blame herself entirely for the loss,before walking into the woods to live at Grey Garden the rest of her life.

Meanwhile, Amazon currently carries no less than two dozen books that have already, less than a year later, been published about the 2016 election. The vast majority of these are written by men. Do we think these books thoroughly detail the events of the 2016 election? What are the odds that these men have keen insight into the nuances of misogyny, racism, and xenophobia that those across the political spectrum employed to help deliver Trump's win? Are these voices truly the only perspectives needed to shed light on what happened?"
Head on over to Shakesville to read the whole thing!

Monday, September 18, 2017

Have a Seat, Gentlemen

It's apparently not enough to see multitudes of dude-authored pieces in the mainstream media that are various iterations of how History's Greatest Monster Hillary Clinton Has Some Nerve, Writing a Book. doesn't She Know She Needs To Sit Down, Shut Up, and Let The Men Make the Narratives.

The other day, I logged into my Goodreads to update my status to currently reading That Book. To find it, I ran this search: "What Happened, Hillary Clinton." These were the results:

Misogyny is when any random jagoff can publish his take on "what happened," but it's deemed horribly out of line when the person with perhaps the most insight into what actually happened does so.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Quote of the Day: Ta-Nehisi Coates

Ta-Nehisi Coates, in "Donald Trump is the First White President," is worth reading in full, but here's a snippet. After noting that Donald Trump won every class-based group of whites, he writes:
"The focus on one subsector of Trump voters—the white working class—is puzzling, given the breadth of his white coalition. Indeed, there is a kind of theater at work in which Trump’s presidency is pawned off as a product of the white working class as opposed to a product of an entire whiteness that includes the very authors doing the pawning. The motive is clear: escapism. To accept that the bloody heirloom remains potent even now, some five decades after Martin Luther King Jr. was gunned down on a Memphis balcony—even after a black president; indeed, strengthened by the fact of that black president—is to accept that racism remains, as it has since 1776, at the heart of this country’s political life. The idea of acceptance frustrates the left. The left would much rather have a discussion about class struggles, which might entice the white working masses, instead of about the racist struggles that those same masses have historically been the agents and beneficiaries of."
Of course, the focus on the white working class - particularly men - is not puzzling at all.

White men dominate the media narratives across the political spectrum. The white male media elite were largely enamored, entertained, and/or fascinated by the rise of the two angry white male populists who ran in the 2016 election. Many of these men, in the wake of their complicity, now demand that we ditch identity politics, stop listening to Hillary Clinton, and/or stop saying accurate things about Bernie Sanders because Trump is the "true" enemy.

We were close, in 2016.

We know how scared so many men were because of how they are acting now, desperate to stay at the center of all things.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Friday Fun: Wonder Woman

I realize I haven't posted about Xena in months or the new Wonder Woman movie at all, which I think knocks me back a few notches on the Kinsey scale.

Please enjoy this mashup of both:

But seriously, why would you ever leave the island of Amazons, though? There is no earthly reason to. Just fly the new babies in.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Hillary's Book: A Preview

Super looking forward to it:

Now, if I'm properly understanding the rules governing womanly discourse, it seems that some people are suggesting that Hillary's book, particularly because she mentions Bernie Sanders in something other than 100% glowing terms, is going to detract from The Real Fight, which is against Donald Trump.

The logic there, such as it is, seems to be part of the strange reasoning that suggests people - particularly vapid Hillary fans - are not able to multi-task when it comes to political grievances.

I'm here to say have no fear, Concerned Citizens. My capacity for anger about politics is boundless. I promise you that I can be angry at Bernie Sanders and still have a an exponentially more amount of anger at Donald Trump.

On the other hand, if the concern is that this book will divide the left even more, I would humbly offer that the uniting has to work in a way that is something other than uni-directional. There are real and longstanding divides on the left. They won't magically go away by telling Hillary Clinton and her fans to shut the fuck up. I offer, instead, that that narrative will actually make things worse.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Book Review: Divided We Stand (Marjorie Spruill)

In the wake of the 2016 election, I would add Marjorie Spruill's Divided We Stand: The Battle Over Women's Rights and Family Values that Polarizing American Politics to any list of recommended "how we got to here" books. That is to say, I don't think we can accurately understand why 53% of white women voted for Donald Trump without acknowledging the unique way the white-dominated, Christian conservative anti-feminist/"pro-family" movement in the United States is linked to the Republican Party.

Spruill centers her analysis of the feminist/anti-feminist divide around the years leading up to the National Women's Conference in 1977, laying out the case that this event, and the push for the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), mobilized both feminist and anti-feminist activists in ways that still ripple through today's political landscape and shape both major political parties.

On the feminist side, the book follows feminists active in the ERA movement and the Women's Conference, particularly Bella Abzug, Gloria Steinem, Betty Friedan, and Maxine Waters. A primary frustration of the feminists, was not just anti-feminist organizing to thwart their goals, but that the government's sponsorship of the Conference led those on both the left and the right to charge that the women's movement was "establishment" even though the reality was that women were poorly represented in nearly ever facet of what is considered "establishment."

Speaking of ripples, during the 2016 Democratic Primary, Bernie Sanders called Planned Parenthood and the pro-LGBT Human Rights Campaign part of the "establishment" that he was taking on, because they endorsed Hillary Clinton, over him. That, even as Republicans continue a ceaseless war on reproductive autonomy and LGBT rights. A lesson here is that while mainstream political analysis often fixates on battles between the left v. the right, in some ways, feminism fits awkwardly into this dichotomy. There are factions on on both ends of the political spectrum that consistently portray feminists, and to a lesser extent women in general, as both enormously powerful and not worth taking seriously. This is not a new phenomenon. Second-wave feminists have written extensively about it, but it seems each successive generation of feminists is destined to re-live the dynamic.

Nonetheless, an important outcome of the Conference was the adoption of a National Plan of Action on topics such as business, child care, employment, health insurance, criminal justice, and rape. It also mobilized the anti-feminist right.

On the anti-feminist right, much of the focus of the book is on the organizing, influence, and efforts of Phyllis Schlafly and, in particular, the way she was able to unite Protestants, Catholics, and Mormons against feminism by emphasizing their common beliefs about gender and family. Spruill writes:
"Religion was at the core of the anti-ERA movement. Though it was not as clear to observers in the 1970s as it was later to scholars, active participation in churches was the greatest common denominator among ERA opponents and a far greater indicator than class or levels of education."
The trifecta of moral and economic issues around which the anti-feminist movement rallied white Christian conservatives was abortion, the ERA, and homosexuality, all tinged with racism and white resentment toward the Women's Conference's deliberate inclusion of racial, ethnic, and economic diversity among its organizers and delegates.

Prior to her death in 2016, I'd been following Schlafly, and the more general "pro-family" movement, for the entirety of this blog's existence. So, 10 years. The seeming-obsession with gays and lesbians that's documented in this book was therefore not a surprise to me. At the same time, some of the pearl-clutching somehow reads as both quaint and obviously-bigoted. Sample:
  • Schlafly's response when conservatives weren't able to elect as many delegates to the convention as they wanted: "[The conservatives would have] done better but our women didn't want to leave their families for an entire weekend and spend it with a group of lesbians. They're very offensive to all of us."
  • "Conservatives claimed that a bus with New York plates was bringing in male homosexuals to pack the convention. The astonished driver, however, explained to the press that he was transporting swimmers to compete in a meet at the Brown University pool."
  • Another anti-feminist's description of the convention: "There were about 2,000 lesbians in attendance, wearing all kinds of lesbian T-shirts and signs such as: 'How dare you presume I am heterosexual?' 'Lesbians fight for our friends.' 'Anita sucks organs.' 'Warm Fuzzy Dykes.'" and so forth.
During the Convention, Schlafly led an anti-feminist counter-rally, consisting primarily of white Christians, male and female, denouncing the recommendations of feminists. Further, in some southern states, the KKK influenced the state meetings in which the delegates to the Convention were chosen and promised to be at the Convention to protect "their women" from the lesbians.

(Helpful Hint to White Supremacist Women: Don't worry, I find you very resistable).

As Spruill tells it, this counter-rally "signaled the advent of a unifiying movement that joined single-issue conservative campaigns related to abortion, the ERA, child care, education, and gay rights into a common defense of the traditional family." And, further, as Republicans saw how these issues could be leveraged for political gain, more moderate Republicans both watched in frustration as their party was hijacked by extremists while they also stood by and did nothing to stop it. A New Gingrich campaign staffer described the new Republican strategy of gaining southern voters:
"We went after every rural southern prejudice we could think of."
My two mild critiques of Spruill's book is that I believe she too-generously cedes the label "pro-family" to conservatives, throughout the book, perhaps wanting to appear neutral. Yet, as she documents, the "pro-family" right primarily worked to carve out a special status for white heteronormative married families, while opposing policies and government support that would help all other types of families.

Two, more information or context about the anti-feminists' motivations to vote against their interests as women would have been interesting. Spruill suggests that anti-feminist women were more than "pawns of men eager to legitimize their own opposition to feminism," but in my opinion doesn't truly explain how or why. (Andrea Dworkin, of course, wrote Right-Wing Women in part based on her experience with anti-feminists during this era, but it would be interesting to examin the extent to which Dworkin's analysis holds up today.)

Nonetheless, I see this book is a valuable contribution to understanding today's political climate.

Melissa McEwan has noted that Donald Trump is not an anomalous Republican politician, but an inevitable one that has exposed the rot at the core of a Republican Party that both shelters, condones, and tolerates bigotry. I have previously observed that with 81% of white Evangelical voters choosing Trump in the 2016 election, he is their Conservative Christian Cultural Warrior. The white women who voted for Trump are likely to be, primarily, the political descendants of Phyllis Schlafly. That is, the women of the right who oppose the moral trifecta of abortion, LGBT rights, and feminism.

Yet, with many election post-mortems focusing on the purported "economic anxiety" of whites who voted for Trump, and the mainstream media remaining fascinating by angry white male "populists," the Christian anti-feminist angle is largely lost. In the quest to trash Democrats and remake the party around angry white people, some on the left, and in particular the Sanders left, seem perplexed (at best) and ignorant (at worst) of the way Republicans have mobilized white Christian opposition to abortion, feminism, and LGBT rights for the past 40 years for political gain.

In the 1970s, Phyllis Schlafly's anti-feminism "liberated" male politicians from having to cater to feminist demands, because they saw that anti-feminist women were also opposing these demands. As Spruill tells it, Schlafly's last parting "gift" to feminists, before her death in 2016, was her endorsement of Donald Trump. Schlafly's endorsement sent a clear signal to the Christian right that one could be a "virtuous" woman and still support the abusive, misogynistic, racist, and unqualified sexual predator.

Democrats, we ignore this history at our peril.