Quick Hit: The Stupidity of Stupak

November 9, 2009

Note: I have no idea when I last posted, nor when I’ll get the chance to again. Turns out I haven’t abandoned you all after all.

It’s all over the feminist blogosphere, and until I get the chance to clear my head (read: the PTSD-induced reactions subside and I can feel safe leaving my house again), here are a couple of You Must Read takedowns of what I like to call the “Throw the (Poor! Middle Class!) Women (of Color)! Under The Bus” Amendment to the “Health Care Not-Really-For-All” Bill.

Pilgrim Soul @ The Pursuit of Harpyness: You Can Put Down Your Champagne Now (a quick overview)

Cynematic @ MOMocrats: The Stu-Pitts of Congress, and Women’s Healthcare From the Waist Up (in depth discussion, with estimated effects if the bill passes)

Meteor Blades @ DailyKOS: 64 Democrats on the Wrong Side of Stupak-Pitts (a list of all Dems who voted for the amendment; a list with demographics and website links is here.)

I’m cutting this off here, sans commentary, because I literally feel like my head is going to explode with rage because YET AGAIN women are the first to vote for Democrats and the last people Dems in office give a shit about.


Will the Voice Of Authority puh-leeeeeze change?

June 13, 2009

**Warning: some slight Doctor Who spoilers, up to the end of Season Three.**

It’s only taken about four years, but I’m finally catching up with Doctor Who. In (very) general terms, the newest iteration of the classic sci-fi series is really making me happy: fast-paced, witty dialogue cavorting along, effortlessly charming the viewer into following, especially in the David Tennant years. I’m now at the end of Season 3, and in spite of some minor details, I am actually quite pleased with the treatment of gender in the show. Both Rose and Martha are intelligent individuals with quite different personalities (not just a cookie-cutter “here’s your female companion”); both are a joy to watch, in spite of the occasionally typical infatuation story lines. Riffs on Captain Jack’s ‘pansexuality’ are entertaining, well-timed, and are treated at times with just enough gravity that the humor in it turns on humanity, rather than some caricature of homosexuality.

But seriously, people. Time Lords are supposed to be* the most intelligent beings in the multiverse, with impressive talents and access to advanced technology. So why is it, in all the possibilities in all the possible worlds, that ALL of the Time Lords are white men?

The easy answer is: we live in a society in which white + male is seen as the default. One could go so far as to say they are the only people who are consistently treated as full human beings. But seriously, O Writers of Science Fiction: How is it that in imagining myriad variety to existence, this old trope keeps popping up?

The Doctor is, in many ways, the embodiment of Male Privilege. He walks into situations with absolute confidence in his ability to fix it, even when he does not know how he’ll do it, or even what the situation is. He does not identify himself to the satisfaction of those who question his authority. He completely ignores many challenges to that authority. He speaks; everyone else (eventually) listens. In one episode, The Doctor must make himself human to escape his adversary, including suppressing all consciousness of ever being a Time Lord. His character is still the same embodiment of privilege, if in a slightly more day-dreaming, less self-confident package. His human persona is a professor at a boys’ school, a position of authority over lesser (in this case, younger) beings. His position has not changed much at all, even if his species has. All his behavior is, of course, treated as Right and Good, as though we silly humans should know our betters when we see them, and when we don’t, we’re chuckled at for the buffoons we are.

Members of the Time Lords’ species have the ability to regenerate their bodies when those bodies are damaged, and those bodies are ostensibly have completely different skeletons (“new teeth”) and muscular systems (“new voice”). Everything about each regenerated Time Lord is new, except his gender and skin color. If his entire body changes, why in the world wouldn’t his skin color change too? There is likely some theoretical* reason why biological sex (and, by extension, gender) is immutable in a Time Lord, but if The Doctor is going to be consistently male and functionally heterosexual (as evidenced by the constant line of female companions), then Time Lords are clearly not unilaterally asexual or non-gendered beings. Biological sex exists; gender presentation does too. So why lack the creativity to play around with those very basic human traits? Why insist on every Doctor (and Master, don’t forget!) being Male and White?

The good Doctor has only one regeneration left, if Wikipedia is to be believed. How about something slightly different for a change? The role requires a British actor; Britain isn’t just made up of the native Gauls and Norman French anymore. How about letting the next person to play The Doctor to be of Indian or Pakistani descent, or descended from immigrants from anywhere else in the world? How about letting the Doctor be a woman for once? The Voice of Authority is virtually always the old (white) man in western social reality. Why does some of our most creative fiction have to fixate on that too?

==x-posted at The Geek Side==
*Read: bullshit

Late term abortion provider shot to death in KS

May 31, 2009

Okay, folks, this is merely a preliminary to something I will blog more extensively on when I have slightly more material to work with.

As it is, Dr. George Tiller was shot to death in the lobby of a church today on his way to worship.

He was the only late-term abortion provider in the state of Kansas, and probably for a radius of a couple hundred miles. I understand that many women came from surrounding states for Dr. Tiller’s services, and that both Dr. Tiller and his clinic were persecuted for providing these health care services to women. They were taken to court numerous times, and Dr. Tiller was just cleared two months ago of the 19 misdemeanor charges most recently brought against him.

Dr. Tiller had been shot and injured once before for providing abortion services.

And yet, no one gets shot in the U.S. for refusing women birth control. No one.

RIP, Dr. Tiller. I hope there is someone as courageous as you to fill your shoes, for the sake of all women in the American Midwest.

WTF: Sexism in Advertising

April 20, 2009

Out of fracking Nowhere:


I fail to see what this has to do with the product sold. Oh, wait. STOPPING TRAFFIC. It is necessary to have an image of a woman in bondage gear showing her ass to the camera because THAT WUD SO STOP TRAFFIC THEIR TRAFFIC CONES GET IT?!!!

Don’t worry, guys: I hate you right back.

P.S. This was a Google ad on FAILblog.

ETA: This just in: Advertisers dig a chick with NO SPINE.


ETA2: Tennessee Guerilla Women has a post up just now on misogyny in car ads. Even if all men don’t hate you, the ones in advertising certainly do.

Quick Hit: Matthew Perry on Letterman

April 18, 2009

Or: Let’s see how many people we can Other with “humor” in under five minutes.

A lovely instance of White Librul Dood values — at least, what they’re willing to participate in on national television. For those of you who want to save your stomachs and not watch*, in the first four and a half minutes of the interview, Perry makes jokes** with a trifecta of punchlines: misogyny! racism! and homophobia! (Oh, my side, it hurts from laughing. Har, har.)

He starts out with this gem. It’s nearly the first thing he says.

Perry: She [Kudrow] doesn’t return my calls anymore, but there’s a certain section of road right by her house that if you park your car at the right time, you can see right into her window.

[audience laughs]

Letterman: Can you give the coordinates on that a little later?

Perry: Absolutely—during the break!

[uproarious laughter from audience]

Followed by this, a bit later in the interview:

Perry: I started to think, okay, [M. Night Shyamalan] really likes me… no no no not…

[laughter from audience]

Perry: … I actually didn’t mean it that way.


Perry: I realize, the whole time—it’s not M. Night Shyamalan. It’s just an Indian guy.

[uproarious laughter]

Letterman: [laughing a bit uncomfortably] Wow. I don’t know what to say about that.

I simply ADORE the fact that Letterman plays into the stalking schtick with good humor, chuckles at the homophobic comment, but looks “uncomfortable” at the racism. Oh my, we can’t be seen being politically incorrect, can we? Getting caught at racism, or being complicit with racism***, that’s a no-no. But don’t forget, it’s not a good Librul White Dood setup without some misogyny thrown in, because stalking is always good fun, and we have to assure folks that we are Not Teh Gay!!!1eleventy!

But what do I know about funny? I’m just a humorless feminist.

h/t (and a couple transcript sections stolen from) Shakesville

* Or, you know, when the video goes away from YouTube.
** They must be jokes. People were laughing. One must assume they were funny.
*** This is not the Oppression Olympics. I think it’s telling that, of all the bad things to do, racism is the only thing that Letterman looks (or sounds, when he’s off-camera) uncertain about. It’s more the reaction of a kid who doesn’t mind doing something naughty; he just doesn’t want to get caught.

Blogaround: The Transphobia Brouhaha

April 17, 2009

I’ve been reading a lot about the problems with blogging feminists and transphobia/transmisogyny lately, and while there is a post percolating in my head, I thought I’d catch you all up with what I’d encountered on the subject:

The Feministing/Feministe Boycott
[1] Men in Women’s Bathrooms: Is Your State Next?: the Focus on the Family transphobia post with errant comment thread on Feministing*
[2] By Any Other Name: transmisogyny post with errant comment thread at Feministe
[3] Bathroom panic, it’s totally feminist: Queen Emily’s response to errant comments on Feministing.
[4] Very Necessary: Voz Latina’s call for a boycott of Feministe/Feministing.
[5] It’s Always About The Cis Women: Lucy’s post about both Feministing and Feministe.
[6] On Cis Supremacy, Feminism and Feministe: Cara’s response to all of this on Feministe.

The Dust-Up at Bitch, Ph.D.
[1] Teabag Me: the original post at Bitch, Ph.D.
[2] Ann Coulter Really Is A —-**, People: the response at Bitch, Ph.D.

Related to all the above
[1] Coordinating Body and Mind: Transphobia and Feminism: Miriam Heddy

Unrelated in theme, but good thoughts anyway
[1] The Art of the Apology

I have a few nebulous thoughts about all this, although I’m processing them (and checking my privilege several times over) before I get too long winded. I can, however, jot down a few things already:

  • Using misogynist language to insult anyone is never okay.
  • No one is perfectly feminist.
  • We live in a patriarchy, and it can poison all our interactions.

This post may be updated with new links, as I find them. I’ll note the last update of the post, thus:

Links last updated 7:03 EDT 4/17/2009.

*Which I apparently missed the first time. I have read the post but not slogged through the comments yet. Much work to be done before I can post on this.

** Yes, I censored this. It’s a triggering word for some folks. I’m still not 100% inured, myself.

Bullshit Femininity/Masculinity Part II: Of Kings and Princesses

April 14, 2009

No, this is not about any relatively new television series, although if I get to sit and watch it, I might have something to say.

This one is about baby clothing and gender stereotypes.

I was recently out buying baby clothes with my mom, as the sprog has grown prodigiously and no longer fits hir cousin’s hand-me-downs for spring/summer, and is running out of warm weather options just as it is approaching. We browsed a couple of department stores, searching for things that would 1) fit 2) look good on the sprog and 3) not be so gender-stereotyping they would send me screaming into the abyss.

Turns out baby departments are territory hostile to radical feminists. Sisters, take note.

It’s bad enough that clothes are 100% divided up into “boys” and “girls”, with very few items that could be mistaken one for the other: girls’ stuff is some combination of pink*, ruffley, lacy and/or floral; whereas boys’ stuff involves primary colors, sports, wild animals and/or heavy machinery. There are no lacy bits or extra frills on boys’ clothes: it’s as if one expected boys to use clothing, rather than just sit there and be pretty.

Apparently frogs are some sort of neutral ground, appearing on both “boyish” and “girly” outfits. We came home with a lot of frogs.

The one thing I Will Not Do, however, is turn the sprog into an advertisement, especially if the clothing item in question purports to speak for or describe the child wearing it. The only types of things I will allow on the sprog speak the truth about something other than what an infant might be or think, thus:loveme

or which might be objectively true of any baby, thus:

What pisses me off to no end are the ones that shout, to the world, that This Baby Is A Boy/Girl by way of gender stereotyping. Nothing like girding a child in “Future MVP” or “Future Chocoholic” to declare to the world that you buy into the hype, that, yes indeed, Boys/Girls are Like That.

Then there is, of course, “Daddy’s Little Girl”. “Mommy’s Little Boy” does show up, but also making an appearance is “Mommy’s Little Man“. Boys will eventually grow up into men; this is acknowledged. The only alternative for girls however, is to be…


This message is just fraught with misogyny and sexism: the princess stereotype is of a vapid, decorative, spoiled and vain woman; demanding and privileged and quite content to remain that way. Part of this may be class-based, but most of it is misogynist. The role of prince is often much more dignified, more serious than that of princess, and prince-as-hero usually has his own destiny to fulfill, instead of an evil stepmother to escape and a rescue-via-heroic-dude to find.

Believe it or not, there IS a shirt that approximates “Daddy’s Little Princess”, one “for boys”, that I didn’t know existed until I went shopping with my mom, and saw this:


“Now,” I can hear you** saying, “now that’s somewhat fair; daddy adores his daughter, mommy adores her son! It’s all equal! We have entered into post-feminism! Feminism is Dead! Long live Equality!”

Too bad the roles of Princess and King are so very different.

“But they’re both royalty,” you say, “that’s not unfair!”

The mere existence of “Mommy’s Little King” is enough to make my obstreporal lobe threaten to asplode, taking most of my patience with it. It’s like that commercial with the mom who is trapped by her child (son), tied up because “she’s the dragon”. A (male) child at play is shown as having power over the (female) parent.

Consider the parental roles involved in “Mommy’s Little King” and “Daddy’s Little Princess”:

  • The mother of the King is: the Queen Mother (a figurehead)
  • The father of a princess is: the King (a ruler)

A pretty telling power differential all ’round. My dangerously-escaping point: Kings are to be taken seriously, to be heeded, obeyed. Princesses are, by contrast, passive, decorative, and all the other (negative) things mentioned above. Kings are in a position of power. Princesses are not. Kings have subjects. Princesses have rescuers.

Nothing like starting the lessons at birth that our sons will be in command of their own lives, while our daughters must rely on other people’s sons*** and give up any hope of their own agency.

*It’s true that any baby could be high maintenance; babies are by definition high maintenance. I defy you to find a bib that says that that isn’t pink/purple/flowery/lacy, though, all of which is most definitely associated with “girl”.
** That is, if you’re a troll with a penchant for cheap florid prose.
*** You know: boyfriends, husbands, their own fathers.

Bullshit Femininity/Masculinity Series: [Part I] [Part II]