Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Look Ma! A Positive Post About Comics!

I am only cautiously optimistic about the possibilities of a Veronica Mars comic and Avalon High manga (despite any squeeing you may have heard).

I do, however, have a lot of faith that a graphic novel for Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series will be quite good.

(hat tip to The Ladies of Lallybroch, whose boards I will lurk from time time in order to find spoilers.)

Why?

- She's a good writer.* She knows how to create believable and intriguing characters and how to pace a story to perfection - and usually does so.

- The part of the draft that's been posted looks well done.

- She's also writing her own characters, not someone else's, so there should be no problems of them acting out of character.

- She's not new to comics. Long before she became a bestselling author, Professor Diana Gabaldon picked up some extra cash writing comics for the Walt Disney company for a couple of years. She's also grew up reading them - although apparently not superhero comics. (you'll have to scroll to the bottom for the relevant info). She may not be the next Gail Simone, but she's hardly another Jodi Picoult.

Of course, I also have tons of questions, most of which have no answers yet, since it's still in the "not quite a done deal yet" stages. (What artist will they pick? If she's talking to her current publisher, does this mean it will be published under Random House's graphic novel imprint? How do they plan on marketing it?)

I'm not terribly nervous that the project will be shelved, however, considering how much money her books make and the general expansion of the graphic novel market in recent years.



*Yes, I had problems with her latest Jaime and Claire novel too, but she's still a good author.

Speaking of Twisting Feminist Arguments

Has anyone actually said that they think this cover is offensive?



I've seen people complain about it, with the complaints mostly centering around the fact that Black Canary is dressed up for the wedding but Green Arrow apparently can't be bothered. And that, combined with her carrying him like a potato sack, it suggests the stupid but pervasive idea that women are desperate for marriage but men are desperate to avoid it. Plus, a few people have also found the suction cup arrow to be "wha?" worthy.

(It is, but it also undermines the overall message about Green Arrow not wanting to get married, as does the expression on his face. Together, they make the cover say more than it appears to at first glance, which is why this cover has also gotten a certain amount of praise as well.)

I've yet to hear anyone call it offensive, though. Or any synonym of offensive.



Now, at least one person has implied that this cover is offensive.



She never actually said "offensive" but she did call it - in combination with a lot of other stuff - "a slap in the face" so although I don't think offensive is the best word, it's not an unfair representation of her words either.

For the record, I mostly agree. Although, again, offensive is not necessarily the word I'd use.

Generally, it seems as thoough the people critiquing the covers and the story line summaries are being much less vehement in their disapproval than the people that are accusing other people of overreacting.

It looks like some people are looking to create a controversy, and it doesn't seem to be the people annoyed by DC turning Black Canary into Bridezilla. To my biased eyes, those people mostly seem to be doing what people with blogs tend to do: bitch about their pet peeves. It's the people tossing around words like "cover controversy!" and "offended!" that seem determined to tar and feather someone.

Mostly, though, it looks as though people are simply once again reacting to stereotypes of feminist arguments rather than the actual arguments. If you read through the comments in the first link, you'll see people describing the complaint more clearly than the original poster did. Which gets something more along the lines of "oh, ok - that makes sense" from the original poster. Which makes me wonder where in the world she got her original assertion.

The fact that this is once again another feminist doing it only makes the cries of "don't complain about stuff that isn't actually sexist!" all the more stupid. One of the biggest reasons why feminism has such a bad name is because of misrepresentations of feminist arguments. Silencing our actual arguments in the name of not being controversial does nothing to fix this. In fact, there's a great deal of evidence that clearly stating our arguments wins more people over than retreat does. Not letting misrepresentations slide is much more likely than anything else to turn "I'm not a feminist, but..."s into feminists and make the extremes of feminism seem less controversial to other feminists.

Of course,most important thing to remember in the midst of all this debate is that a bachelorette party where the guests are wearing significantly less than the guy who pops out of the cake has got to be one of the stupidest ideas ever to be put on the cover of anything.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Gatekeepers

Every so often someone makes the argument that we shouldn't give so much attention to the little things that bugs us/that aren't obviously sexist/that may not be sexist because it lessens our credibility when the really important stuff happens.

For example:

BONUS: Something Comics Fans Should Never Do Again

React to any expression of female sexuality on a comic book cover as something that inherently denegrates the character's integrity or the character's ability to be perceived as an "ass-kicker". This is dangerous because it makes complaints about legitimately sexist garbage like the MJ statue and HFH #13 more likely to be ignored.


I say "Bullshit."

This statement is dangerously close to filling a bingo square by alluding to the "but what are you doing about x,y,z?/it's just comics!" argument. A sentiment that is dismissive of feminist theory and how the status quo is maintained: all the little things that seem inconsequential often help create the foundation for the bigger things. Do I really need to remind anyone that comics itself is considered by many to be one of those "little things?"

As I've argued before, it's exactly because our visual definitions of male and female vulnerability/strength are so different that someone - several people - felt as though the Heroes for Hire cover would be be appropriate. Whether or not you think the wedding story line is just good fun or not, there is a parallel between the Black Canary cover and the Heroes for Hire cover. Both show normally competent women looking vulnerable and they do so by playing to stereotypes. That one is a joke while the other is not* does not mean that there is not room to question the reasoning behind doing either cover - or story line.

To argue that one should only complain about the "legitimately sexist garbage" raises the question of who decides what is "legitimately sexist garbage." When this sentiment is paired with the argument that false complaints damage feminists' reputation, the implication is that our "male default" society - not women or feminists themselves - has the final say in what is worthy of discussion. Simply arguing that someone is wasting space with their argument, or saying that you think that they shouldn't say or do something, is not in and of itself an attempt to silence feminist or female voices. But when it's combined with the suggestion that we should not make that argument because we must defer to the prejudices of the culture we are critiquing, it comes dangerously close to doing so.

The assumption that people will be turned off of "legitimate" complaints because the same people are making "non-legitimate" complaints is another example of having a different standard for a non-privileged group than for privileged groups. People demonstrate quite often that they are capable of understanding that disagreement on one issue does not always mean disagreement on every issue.

There is also the sexist implication that men are less capable of doing this than women - at least when it comes to sexism.** If I recall correctly, the first few men mocking the original complaint are not exactly known for being virulently anti-feminist. I seriously doubt complaints such as these dramatically alter how they view feminism. I think that men are quite capable of figuring out what is sexist and what isn't, and so disagreements among feminists (or between feminists and "I'm not a feminist, but..."s) are hardly going to befuddle them in a manner similar to when sitcom husbands are faced with housework.

How does this fit with my agreement with Kalinara's statement that:

A man telling a woman what she should or should not find sexist is proving he doesn't understand the meaning of the word.


Note how Kalinara phrased her declaration. It's not so much about men not having a right to an opinion on what it sexist, it's about a man - or anyone, really - telling a woman that she should have a particular opinion. Lynxara's argument bugs me because she*** isn't just saying that pervyficgirl is wrong, she's saying that she should only talk about things that Lynxara thinks are sexist. Lynxara may believe that the Black Canary wedding story line and covers are merely an "expression of female sexuality" but pervyficgirl obviously does not. (And however mockworthy her name may or may not be, one can hardly accuse her of being anti-sex.) There's a fine distinction between arguing with or dismissing a complaint, and claiming to speak for everyone or being the voice of authority. It's certainly extra levels of stupidity when the topic is sexism and it's men that are doing it, but it isn't a good argument when anyone does it.

This leaves us with just one remotely valid argument, which is that such complaints often support feminist stereotypes. Well, yes, they can, but they only do because it's anti-feminists who often have the floor. They only do so because schools and the media tend to teach parodies of feminism, not actual feminism; it's not that simply being exposed to these arguments make people think that all of feminism is bunk, but that this is often the only feminism they see. Not voicing these concerns will not mean that people won't see feminism this way, it will simply mean that other arguments will be taken out of context instead.

Arguing that this means we should concede ground for reasons of strategy ignores the fact that the best defense is a good offense. One could just as well argue that a wider number of complainants and longer list of demands strikes more fear into the hearts of our enemies, and that having such a long list is often a better bargaining strategy than only making the demands nearest and dearest to your heart.

No, the better argument is to encourage people to write clearly and carefully when they write about the more nuanced feminist complaints, not to ask them not to make such complaints at all.

*******

*I actually think it's quite likely that the HfH was meant to be a parody of sorts, at least when it comes to the artist's intent, but the general consensus seems to be that it is not. Which just goes to show how unimportant intent really is.

**The other assumption is that non-feminists (male and female) will view such criticism differently than feminists will. This is true, and may be an argument for being more careful when making more controversial arguments, but it's not a valid argument for not making them at all.

***So it occurred to me part way through writing this that I assumed lynxara to be a woman, when I have no idea if lynxara is a he or a she. Since it doesn't really change the point of my argument, just whether or not lynxara's statement pisses me off or really pisses me off, I'm leaving my silly assumptions in as an example of this.

Friday, June 22, 2007

I'm Sure the Problem Lies With My Illogical Brain

* Nebraska Revised Statutes
Section 27-403
Rule 403. Exclusion of relevant evidence; reasons.

Although relevant, evidence may be excluded if its probative value is substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice, confusion of the issues, or misleading the jury, or by considerations of undue delay, waste of time, or needless presentation of cumulative evidence.

Source:
Laws 1975, LB 279, 13


(emphasis mine, hat tip to Marcella)

I'm still trying to figure out how "rape" and "victim" are not only "unfairly prejudicial" - or at least more so than being able to say that "they had sex" - but are "unfairly prejudicial" to such an extent that they override any and all concerns about the language used during the trial being "misleading" or causing "confusion."

What's in a Name?

Some people have been arguing that it makes sense for a judge to disallow "rape" "sexual assault" "sexual assault kit" and "victim" from a rape trial because using these terms presumes guilt.

First of all, I was under the impression that the prosecution is presuming guilt (based on the evidence they've gathered) - that would be the point of the trial, after all.

Secondly, it may be different in other states, but as far as I know my state allows prosecuting attorneys to use the legal definition of the crimes that they are accusing the defendant of. See the previous sentence and "rights of the accused" as to why.

Third, banning "rape" and "sexual assault" from witness testimony is not the same as requiring that attempted murder victims use words like "kill" or the like instead of word "murder"- which doubles as a legal term. This is because "rape" does not have as many synonyms as "murder" does. The judge has effectively banned about the only two terms that are used by laypersons to describe the crime in question. And the latter is mostly by used only by laypeople if they write for newspapers or if the assault is something less than rape.

Furthermore, said persons may want to look up the legal definition of "rape" in the state in question before they focus on "rape" as a legal term. It's not. The legal term is "sexual assault." (hat tip Kristen)

Fourth, if legal meaning of "sexual assault" (or "rape" if that were the case) prevails above all else despite the profound lack of clarity that will result in the victim and the prosecutors not being able to use this term, then the legal meaning of "victim" should prevail as well. The state in question defines "victim" (at least as it pertains to sexual assault) to be

the person alleging to have been sexually assaulted


Yes, "alleged" is included in legal definition of "victim" in the state in question. I rather think it's quite likely that this is the prevailing legal definition of the term.

While I can see the logic behind arguing that terms like "victim" and using the legal definitions of crimes to mean something nonlegal can be confusing for jurors and might prejudice them, I hardly think that it does so to a greater extent than banning both "rape" and "sexual assault" - while simultaneously allowing for "sex" and "sexual intercourse" (which presume consent) to be allowed.

Amanda, Jill, Bean, and Shakesville have more. (Shakesville is down, I will add when they come back up.)

update

Since that particular argument also seems to boil down to "such things are standard" - can get a special "wha?" As in, "then why the need for special orders?"

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Things You Should Know

Since I don't do enough useful stuff with this silly bog of mine:

Eastern Michigan University

Eastern Michigan University

Eastern Michigan University

Eastern Michigan University

Eastern Michigan University

Eastern Michigan University

Eastern Michigan University

Eastern Michigan University

Because, Eastern Michigan University, knowing is half the battle.

(idea stolen from Auguste, who has more to say on the subject)

(hat tip to Melissa as well.)

So, It's Official

On the internet nobody cares if you are a 70 year-old Chinese immigrant, or a 22 year-old Harvard student, or a stay-at home blogger dad...


Does this mean that "Where are all the women bloggers?" won't be making the rounds anymore?

Thursday, June 14, 2007

And People Look Down On Me For Not Reading This Shit

“We found that how people use chargers is very different,” she said. “For her, she wants it to be instantly understandable.”

from a NYT article on women and technology. (via Shrub)

Yeah, because all the guys I know are looking for any excuse to do more work.



Oh, wait, was she instead implying that women are stupid?

/sarcasm

Since the paragraph immediately preceding this little gem was:

....the $20 Easy Charger, is aimed at women, who usually end up managing the household’s batteries....Large light-emitting-diode readouts spell out what the countertop charger is doing at every phase of the charging cycle. Focus-group testing indicated that men were turned off by the Easy Charger, especially in how its readouts appeared to tell them what they thought they already knew, said Mandy Iswarienko, the brand manger for rechargeable products.


Not only would that appear that she was indeed implying that women are stupid*, but it also looks as though she may be right.

Or it would, if it wasn't for the little bit that Marriott (the author of the article) managed to mention without bothering to note that it had any significance.

Let's read that first line again.

...the $20 Easy Charger, is aimed at women, who usually end up managing the household’s batteries.


(emphasis mine)

So, let me get this straight, men don't need all those 'readouts [that appear] to tell them what they thought they already knew" - but it's women who manage the apparently tricky task of managing household batteries?

(ps - how do the men think they know what phase of the cycle the charger is in without a readout - psychic energy?)

Here's the charger in question, by the way.



Note how the "readouts" are vastly different from half the chargers I've ever used, what with the words "done" and "charging" printed right on the two light covers and everything, rather than a changing picture of a battery. That's just....revolutionary!

In all seriousness, I do think it's a pretty smart design choice, but I fail to see how printing words on the little lights suddenly means that the charger is "spell[ing] out" what phase it's in. Except in the literal sense of actually using letters, of course, but I don't think "spell it out" was meant literally in this case.

Although mostly I'm still gawping at the idea that they spell out "every phase of the cycle." There's two "phases" - "charging" and "not charging." It's not, um, like a dishwasher or a washer/dryer, which actually do have several phases.

For comparison, here's the "guy" charger, the Dock and Go:



So, they did technically "spell it out" in the sense that the "guy" charger has just a light, no words. Presumably the light changes color and/or blinks. Which means that "spell it out" really means "you don't need to know some special code to figure out if it's done or not." (The phone chargers at work do this, and I can never remember what is supposed to mean what. Except that red means that nothing is working.)

So really, it's not that guys like stuff to be hard, it's that 1) the guys they tested like to pretend stuff is harder than it is and 2) the women they tested were less likely to be familiar with the semi-standard flashing light code that many chargers use.

Which reminds me of the time I wanted to recently smack some sense into a co-worker...but that's a story for another day. Or the next post anyway.

In any case, this is pretty typical for the article.

“If a man brings home a big whooper of a television, the woman is going to say, ‘That’s stupid; it’s too big for the wall,’ ” he said.

Mr. Brady said that men and women tended to have radically different approaches to televisions in the home. “Men want the TV to dominate the room,” he said “Women look more at the TV to not be the centerpiece of the room, but more of an accent piece.”


Um, maybe it's just me, but I think my Dad's and my brother's big screen TVs are stupid because the are too big for the room in the sense that the rooms they are in are not big enough to let you sit far enough away to be comfortable, not that they visually dominate the room. (And I have excellent peripheral vision. And I love architecture.)

That, plus the fact that they are way too high a quality for a lot of my older DVD box sets, which end up looking supremely crappy on them. (Yes, I'm talking about you, Buffy Season 1.) It's like the time the whole family went to go see Fantasia 2000 at an IMAX theatre (yes, I'm serious. and yes, you can stop laughing now.) I could totally see the pixels on all the computer animation. Bigger is not always better.

The combo TV-DVD players, which usually cost $800 to $1,000, are equipped with auto wake, permitting users to turn the television on by simply slipping a DVD into it. Knowing that one does not have to fumble with a multi-button remote control becomes a subtle signal to buy.


Plus there's that little bit about not having to go searching for the magically disappearing remote just to watch a damn movie. Now if only they'd stop being idiots and go back to putting all the basic buttons onto the actual TV/DVD player as well as the remote, I'd be so much happier.

“Women are busier than men,” she said. “I don’t love technology enough to sit down and spend two hours with a manual like it’s some great puzzle. Men get great gratification out of that. I’d rather read a book.”


Again, you think maybe it's not so much the men liking it more, but the men being less likely to be stuck doing it when it is no longer fun? Seeing as how it's "women, who usually end up managing the household batteries" and "women [who] are busier than men" and all.

But alas, how quickly we forget the humorous anecdotes of Dad going not so quietly ballistic late into the night on Christmas Eve - when his tinkering is made less fun by the practicalities of actually having to get shit done.

*possibly the writer was, but that drivel sounded like it came straight from some idiotic marketing/PR press release.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The Really Scary Part?

This is not the only one of it's kind out there.

How about this:



please note that the decay has managed to touch neither superheroine's breasts. trying to look sexy, my ass.

Or this:



Sadly, it seems to be a trend (and no, I don't mean the zombie bit.)

I've said it before and I'll say it again:

Violence against women as a punch line is so overused that even misogynist comedians should take a break from it for no other reason than on account of it being excessively amatureish.

Showing women who are maimed or had violence done to them as sexy is so pervasive in our culture and so fundamentally disturbing given real life stats that, no matter how good-natured the intent, it's pretty much never a good idea.

Plus, it tends to make the whole irony of a sexy zombie not so ironic after all.

Buffy 1.1

You're like a textbook with arms.


I just started re-watching Buffy. Because I'm pathetic like that. And I figured that as long as I found interesting things to talk about, I'd talk about it.

*I really like that we meet someone besides Buffy first. Not only does it help with the world-building, but we also get see a female villain right off the bat. Which is cool. Especially since she isn't all smexed up. Yet, anyway. Darla does quickly become a bit smexed up, but in her first scene that's not really the case. For example, her little schoolgirl outfit is meant to make her look young and vulnerable and therefore contribute to the bait and switch. The fact that it plays to some people fetishes is a bonus, but not it's main purpose.

*Charisma Carpenter didn't even look young enough to play a teen in Ep 1. And I hate how this always sounds as though it's a complaint about her as an actress or how pretty she is. CC is gorgeous and a great actress. She also doesn't look old, she just doesn't look like a kid.

*This is obvious in part because Gellar and Hannigan are not only closer to their character ages, but they also still have a bit of the kid pudginess that teen girls often have. (For TV stars, in any case.) You look at them and can tell that they are very close, but aren't quite in adult bodies yet. It makes CC look even older than she would otherwise.

*Jesse is a Nice Guy (lite). And that's why he dies. He keep hitting on Cordelia for absolutely no reason other than that she's the hottest and most unattainable girl in school. Even blithering idiot Xander knows shallowness and meanness should be a turn-off. That's why Xander stumbles his way into being a nice guy.

*Lots and lots and lots of exposition. And apparently Watcher is a synonym for "Narrator."

*Angel comes off as creepy more than intriguing. And Gellar isn't really convincing when she says that he is annoying, but is supposed to mean something else. In fact, most of the dynamics are off. Interestingly, the most natural looking scenes are between Willow and either Xander or Buffy.

*Wow. Everyone is so very white. Now that I'm attached to all of them, I wouldn't want to lose any of the characters as I've come to know them. But still....

*I very much get the criticism that Buffy is still reinforcing harmful beauty standards, but I have to say that the show wouldn't have worked in the early days if Buffy hadn't been (TV's version of) a typical CA beauty. If she had looked like Kendra or Willow, we wouldn't have been surprised by many if the things Buffy did because the untypicalness of how she looked would have been a clue as to the untypicalness of her actions. That said, I think we are well past being surprised by a female action hero, and so that same excuse doesn't work elsewhere. (And yeah, some of us were well past it then too, but I'd say enough people weren't that it was justified.)

*Who the fuck wears a dress like that to a non big city club? And why in the world would Buffy choose pants and and an unflattering button-up shirt to wear to her first visit to the Bronze?

*Scenes in the caves: very cheesy. But the Master is kinda scary looking and the humor helps because it says "yes, we know it's cheesy looking. It's because our budget is small, not because we are stupid."

*I find it really interesting that they ended the episode with a Buffy in danger "to be continued." I'm sure that it was mostly because 45 minutes wasn't enough time for all the exposition and an actual plot, and it's best to end on a cliffhanger. But there's also something interesting about the fact that the show ends without us having not yet seen how powerful Buffy really is.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Thoughts on Childhood and Othering

Feministe guest blogger Roy has a post up ranting about people who say they hate children. His very good point is that making blanket statement about children themselves is othering and discriminating.

I wasn't terribly surprised to see this argument pop up in response:

My point is that childhood is a phase, not a permanent state. You cannot identify a permanent set of children and work to change their status, because they will not remain children. Children can’t be said to be discriminated against, because they aren’t permanent members of a group. Instead, they will inevitably leave that group and join the “other side.”


Pardon me while I digress for a bit.

Sophomore year of college the trustees hired a new President specifically to make financial changes. Needless to say we were not happy about a lot of them. One particular one was protested from the moment it was suggested. Candlelight vigils were held, letters were drafted and sent, etc. We were promised that this would not, in fact be one of the cuts.

Spring break comes around, and during that week - when everyone is off campus - that exact change was announced.

It's pretty typical of colleges to do this. I saw the same thing happen again at the University of Oregon when the President went back on his word and overturned a joint decision made by him and a committee of students and faculty. And he announced it during summer break. And they can get away with it because a significant percentage of the people they are screwing over changes about every four years.

Childhood, like being a college student, is a temporary stage, but the fact that children will one day be less powerless does not mean that they are not constantly screwed over the way college students are by their administrators. The temporariness of childhood is part of what makes abuse - both large and small - so heart-breakingly constant. It's certainly not a reason to fail to see a pattern in the abuse.

And the way our culture often treats children - especially once they've grown past the cute stage - is very much abuse.

My supervisor asked me just the other day if (in the near future when we have money for another person) I would consider dropping the children part of Youth specialist and concentrate just on teens.

I have to admit I was a little floored. I tend to feel like I'm drowning when I deal with the teens. I never liked being one, I never liked my peers when I was one, and I rarely feel like I understand them the way that I understand the younger children. And quite frankly the teens that come into the library drive me batshit insane on a regular basis.

But I've also noticed that most adults tend to treat teenagers as either oversized children or defective adults. Despite having been a teen at some point, there's often no respect or understanding for what they are going through, much praise less for their skills or compassion for their developmental limitations. We scorn teens for not yet being adults in a way that we rarely do with younger children.

The fact that todays teens will not be teens forever does not mean that teenagers are not among one of the most derided groups of people in modern society. Neither does it mean that their lack of power is not often used to abuse and neglect them.

It scares me and makes me very sad that I can considered to be a really good YA librarian just because I try to treat teens as people - and not defective adults or monstrous children.

Random Musings (when I should be asleep)

Why do so many people, during feminist arguments, bring up the idea that other people are going to "revoke their credentials" or some such nonsense?

Maybe it has something to do with the fact that such people are invariably arguing that other people are taking feminism too far or misapplying it. And therefore, while these other people are perhaps still in the feminist club, they're obviously no longer in the "rational people" club.

Which just screams projection to me.

****

Maybe it's because I identified as feminist from a relatively young age....

Or maybe it's because I've never actually had anyone say that I'm not one. Quite the opposite, in fact, it's generally when I'm doing what I feel are completely normal things that people decide to call me a feminist as if it's a dirty word....

Or maybe it's because I've had relatively few problems (I think) understanding the difference between judging people and judging actions......

....but it's just such a foreign concept to me.

Feminism isn't a club you join, it's something you believe in. And if it's something you believe in, then it's something you believe in. People can't decide for you if you do or not.*

They can argue about whether your actions are feminist. They can argue about whether or not you are a "good" feminist. They can argue about whether they agree with your definition of feminism. They can even argue about whether or not you really believe the things you say you believe. But they can't decide for you whether you believe them or not.

We can't kick you out of the club** because there is no fucking club in the first place.

It's your choice to be a feminist or not. It's your job to define what that means. And the fact the other feminists disagree with you about that definition doesn't mean anything other than the obvious fact that different people believe different things.

Acting otherwise is just the same as acting as if there'd no difference between calling an action sexist, and calling the person who did the action to be completely against feminism and all things moral and good.

********

*Which is part of why I've disagree with those who say men can't be feminists. When it comes to organized political movements, there's some validity to that argument. But I think that, in general, men can be feminists and define feminism. I just don't think that non-feminists can define feminism. And I don't think that we can completely define feminism for each other. So - guys who try to argue that feminists are misguided or are really hurting women, etc. are obviously full of shit, and guys that fuck up but keep trying are feminists - like us, while guys that don't really bother trying tend to be sexist assholes by default - on account of the patriarchy and all that.

**As always, there are huge exceptions. I very much understand women who are part of other non-privileged groups taking exception to American feminism as a political movement and choosing not to align themselves with us or feeling (sadly, often rightly) as though their voices are not seen as important. However, it's generally white, middle class women who act as if the choice to be a feminist or not is beyond their control. In my (admittedly limited) experience, the women who reject feminism in favor of more radical or more inclusive political movements tend to make it very clear that it was as much their choice as it was a reaction to the choices that others have made. And they also make it very clear that their rejection is not of the basic idea of feminism, but of a political movement that does not allow these ideas to apply equally to all women.

Because this is Important

(and I'm too tired to write a real post)

Melissa's had some great - but heart-wrenching - posts lately about rape and how it's normalized through humor. In her most recent post on the subject she responds in the comments to someone who makes the tired old argument that:

If I were wasted and walked down a city street with $100 bills sticking out all of my pockets, then got jumped you’d call me, at the least, irresponsible wouldn’t you?


Having responded to such arguments at face value before, without really examining how false the core of the argument is, I want to highlight the Melissa's fantastic reply, which boils down to:

Relying on the “guy getting mugged” comparison tells us two things, however. One: It shows how deeply ingrained the notion of women’s bodies as property is. Comparing a woman’s genitals to a $100 bill visibly dangling out of a man’s pocket is laughable in both practical and intrinsic ways, and yet the association was cited with not a hint of awareness at its patent absurdity. Two: It illustrates how far removed you are from the real threat of rape. Invoking a mugging is evidently the closest thing you can imagine to being forcibly subjected to an assault on one’s sex organs. That must be a lovely world in which to live.


I will be stealing that the next time I get into that argument with someone.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Huh? (with almost spoilers)

Now that I'm all caught up on my Buffy comics. I just have one question:











How did The First manifest as you-know-who?

Sunday, June 03, 2007

It's Not All About You

(A recent discussion made me think of the story that this post begins with. I've shared it in comments before, but I decided it deserved it's own post, so here goes.)

One of the interesting things about going to college is the experience of having friends who are in Psych 101 do experiments on you. It's really fun to try and guess what they are really about, because of course they almost never tell you until they are done, because that would mess up the experiment.

First-year at college a few friends of mine read a story to me and some other friends of ours and told us that there would be a memory test at the end. The story was about a high school kid arguing with his English teacher about his grade. When the story was done we were asked all sorts of questions about what had happened. We only got one question wrong each, and it was the same question.

"Was the teacher a man or a woman?"

We all said "woman"....

....but the story never said.

Because, this being a liberal all-women's college, the experiment was not a memory test at all, but a lesson in internalized sexism.

We all do it. All of it. The sexism, the racism, the homophobia, you name it. If it exists, we pretty much all do it. It doesn't matter if we are male or female, gay or straight, rich or poor, black or white or any other color, we all do it. The only way to stop doing it is to recognize it and name it every time you see it. And even then, really, you never actually stop doing it, you just do it less.

We usually don't mean it. We usually don't see it. And we definitely usually don't mean to be unfair or cruel. But we all do it. And it usually is. Even if we don't see it. Especially when we don't see it.

So when you hear someone toss around terms like "male gaze", "the patriarchy," or "colonizing" or when someone says that something is sexist, racist, homophobic, classist, etc. remember that they may not talking about you any more or less than they are talking about themselves.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Drive-by Parenting - Special Bookstore Edition!

Now normally, I despise drive-by parenting. However, being no less of a hypocrite than everyone else, I am always ecstatic when I have an opportunity to engage in it and get away with it. (Except for the whole "kids being in danger" part that usually prompts it.)

I was meandering around in the bookstore the other night picking up massively huge piles of books that kids had left on the floor, on chairs, on the completely wrong display, in the so very obviously wrong section and from pretty much everywhere except a place where people would not accidentally step on it, when I heard some kid yelling something.

Now, kids yell all the time, so I automatically tuned it out. Until I realized that he was calling for someone. Since the kid looked to be about four and he'd been yelling for a good while already, this wasn't a good thing. So I stopped him and asked him if he was lost, was he looking for someone, was he with his parents....

Cute Kid: "Yeth. I'm looking for my thithter."

Me: (not his parents?) Your sister? What does she look like?

CK: (silence)

Me: How old is she?

CK: Six.

Me (SIX!!!!!! Fantastic, now I have missing parents and a missing kid and I can't do a Code Adam on the six-year old bc there is no way this kid is going to be able to give me a description. Shit.) How old are you?

CK: Five. I need my thithter.

Me: Well, why don't we go look for her ok? Let's look around the kid's section first , maybe you just missed her.

CK: (takes my hand) I already looked.

Me: Well, why don't we just look again. If we don't find her in here, we'll look around the rest of the store.

We found her just as we were about to leave the kid's section - she came walking back from having gone to the bathroom. On the other side of the store. Apparently alone.

Me: How old are you?

CK's Sister: Six.

CK: I told you that!

Me: Do you know where your parents are?

CKS: In here.

Me: Well, why don't we go find them.

So, I start walking around the store, a kid in each hand. We get about 15 feet from the kid's section when the kids turn around and I see this guy walking up all upset and confused. He tells me they're his kids. (Thankfully, it's usually really easy to tell if the people who say they are the parents are the parents bc of the way the kids act.)

I start to tell him that his kids were alone in the kid's section and that he needs to stay close to them and he cuts me off and says he was nearby.

I tell him that his son was yelling for his older sister for quite a while and he explains that he's partly deaf in one ear.

Me: All the more reason to keep them close to you.

I barely manage to not add "jackass" - partly cuz he looked so confused.

On that note, a few rules for parents, since with summer approaching, I predict that reminders will become necessary more frequently:

1) We are not a baby-sitting service.

2) If your kids do not behave, I will tell them to do so.

3) How nicely I ask them to do so will depend on their age. I will use my substitute voice on 12 year-olds that are doing things that preschoolers know are wrong.

4) I won't care that you are sitting right there.

5) Unless your kid is old enough to stay home alone, you had damn well better be sitting right there. And too distracted by your other children to have had a chance to tell the kid stepping on the books to stop doing so.

6) If you are not sitting right there, I will find you and tell you that your child needs watching. Even if they are fourteen. And do not argue with me about this one. My bosses will not fire me for making sure that your children are not destroying the store and/or are not kidnapped. They probably won't even care if I'm snippy with you when I tell you to do your damn job.

7) The children's section is not a playground. Do not let your children play tag or use the very unstable benches as launching pads. (Dancing on the stage, is however, permitted. Even if it's cuteness is directly disproportional to how aggravating everyone else has been that day.)

8) If you disobey these rules - even after I've explained them to you - I will kick you and your children out. The $3.99 you were going to spend on a Spider-Man 3 or Disney Princess paperback is worth losing if it means the company avoids a lawsuit from your kid cracking his or her head open.

Special note:

Your twelve year old is not in really in any danger of being carried off, so stop hovering. Older kids tend to kick up a fuss if people they don't know try to make them do stuff. So (except for semi-private places like the restrooms) your kid is just fine as long as you and he/she stay within earshot or within agreed upon areas.

Extra special note:

Your five -year old is in danger of being carried off, so keep him or her within your sight, not just within earshot. It's not statistically likely, but bad people who want to hurt kids know where to find kids - and our store is one of them. And until they are around seven or so, most (non-shy) kids will go along with any adult who seems friendly. Especially in public places with lots of strangers.

SQUEEE!!! (for real this time)

This is why I need to remember to read MangaBlog more often:

Meg Cabot’s magical Arthurian epic continues…manga style! TOKYOPOP, the leader of the Global Manga Revolution and HarperCollins Publishers, one of the top English-language publishers in the world, are pleased to announce the July 2007 release of Avalon High: Coronation #1: The Merlin Prophecy, the first installment of a three part manga sequel to Avalon High.


I haven't read Avalon High but I've read the first few Princess Diaries books and really liked them. Unlike in the movie, Mia's grandma is just so completely outrageous and stuffy and mean - and yet so obviously cares about her family. And Mia is still so very Mia. And Lilly is so very Lilly. And Michael doesn't mysteriously disappear after the first installment. They're just fantastic.

(and Ha! no wonder why I loved them, take a look at what's at the top of Meg's list of favorite romances.)

I'm not really liking the cover for the upcoming manga though.



Can someone tell me why all these books that, you know, use art to tell stories tend to have vastly lamer covers than the ones that don't? Don't the marketing people ever worry that people might say, I dunno, maybe: "I don't like the art on the cover, why would I pay money for the art inside?"

And can someone please tell me why so many people, when designing covers, think that they need to get all literal and/or try to tell half the story on the cover? Versus, oh, say just trying to catch people's interest and give them a taste of the themes and mood of the book?

There is a reason why the covers below are so very cool, after all, and it's not just because they are pretty.




I know that the cover designers are not the same people as the story artist. But I can't help but question how well the story inside is told when the cover art doesn't really do it's job.

And as I've stated before (I think in the comments on Kalinara's blog) this is especially important when it comes to graphic novels that are intended to expand the graphic novel reading audience.

Most people new to comics don't really understand how separate the inside and outside art are. Many would, in fact, be quite floored to realize how often even the illustrations on the cover are done by someone other than the story artist. Most non-comics reading people's experience with stories told with pictures is limited to children's picture books, and while it's obvious that cover designers are involved, it's also obvious that the story illustrator does the illustrations for the cover as well.

Quite frankly, that way of doing things makes more sense to me anyway. Cover illustrations aren't quite the same as the blurb. It makes sense to have a cover designer as well, but hiring an all new artist to do the cover illustrations strikes me as being more like the marketing people hiring someone to write a fake excerpt to put on the cover.

Not My Cute Bunnies and Happy Puppies Post

I told myself I was going to write about some of the comics I've read recently that I really liked, even if for no other reason than for Ragnell's sanity, but, like hippokrene, stupidity offends me.

But do you know what offends me more? That our culture has managed to link women with vulnerability, and violence against women with sex to such an extent that normally not stupid people are unable to tell the difference between this:

and this:
It makes me wonder if these same people cannot tell the difference between this:
and this:
How many times do I have to explain that it's not just that women always! = sex that offends me, it's also very much the fact that so large a portion of my peers finds the thought of me in pain to be sexually arousing and that this is considered normal! That's what disturbs and enrages me. That's what scares me.

It's really not the fact that (heterosexual) men like looking at sexy women that bugs me. It's really not even just the pervasiveness of it, nor even just the double standard that says that they are not for looking at. It's not these things alone that makes me look askance at the guys around me. It's also very much the fact that time and time again "regular" people prove that they can't tell the difference between "women = sex!" and "violence against women = sex!" that makes me wonder and worry.