Wonderful fights between narcissism and worthlessness

Man of Steel: Let Superman’s Dad tell you why Colonialism was Great

A MESSAGE FROM THE KRYPTONIAN EMPIRE: Watch Superman kill millions and hopefully you’ll feel better about the US and Iraq!

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Not Quite The Best Day For Progress

Today, two supreme court decisions came down supporting the equality of gay people in America: The striking down of key provisions in the Defense of Marriage Act, and the upholding of a lower court’s overturning of California’s Prop 8 that sought to ban same-sex marriage. I want to be happy about this. I really do. And while these steps are small, they ARE steps in the right direction that so easily (it seems) could have been in the wrong direction.

I want to take that little bit of happiness in the Supreme Court Rulings, but, no. This is a bad day. A horrible day. Let alone that there’s still no measure of mention of gender and sexuality outside of binaries, or mention of the poverty, homelessness, and other discrimination politics happening to TLGQBAIU people that are FAR more pressing for equality than equality under the law for marriage rights. Then again, my country did just overturn a Voting Rights Act so why the FUCK would we be more than a pinkie toe dipped into the ocean of progress we need to make happen.

Yeah, today? Today was a REALLY bad day. Here’s a little list of what went wrong:

[Content Note: Racism, Sexism, Fat-phobia, Repro rights restrictions, Kyriarchy’s Imperialism. I also have a lot of links to sources that can definitely be problematic but are minimally so here (Daily Show, Jezebel, etc.)]

  1. VRA overturned, ALONE, HOLY FUCK, and also Perry’s quick as shit push once that happened to suppress minority voters. It took him TWO HOURS. TWO HOURS for a white governor to gleefully push through voting restrictions that unfairly target minority voters, but, oh yeah Scalia, racism’s totes dead in the US: http://continueplease.tumblr.com/post/54059620409/sandandglass-they-couldnt-even-wait-for-2
  2. Basically everything about the discussion about Rachel Jeantel in the trial: http://jezebel.com/why-is-rachel-jeantel-being-treated-like-shes-the-one-602053791
  3. The Indian Child Welfare Act decision, so, thanks Supreme Court! Shoulda quit when ahead! http://fuckyeahcracker.tumblr.com/post/54047130860/tranqualizer-photo-dusten-brown-spending-time
  4. The Ohio House budget vote that included Planned Parenthood attacks and abortion restrictions that worked like most federal budget amendments in passing shit without rigorous debate: https://twitter.com/PPAOhio/status/350354069283545090
  5. Perry’s special session to try and force S.B.5 through and him being such an arrogant garbage pile about it
  6. What Perry said about Wendy Davis. To see Perry use her life history and story against her and women’s rights, her mother’s age and her age becoming a mother against her and women’s rights: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/27/rick-perry-wendy-davis_n_3510844.html
  7. RIck Perry
  8. That there are no kickstarters for cannons to fire Rick Perry into the Sun
  9. No but seriously FUCK OFF RICK PERRY: http://racismschool.tumblr.com/post/54047228336/the-louder-they-scream-the-more-we-know-that-we
  10. AND FUCK OFF RACISTS CONGREGATING AROUND THE ZIMMERMAN DEFENSE

I hope hope hope hope HOPE HOPE HOPE the legacy of Rick Perry is the masses of Texas progressives standing up to him. The 62% of people opposed to S.B. 5 and abortion restrictions. I hope his legacy is a legacy of defeat every step of the way from now on and NO ONE coming in to fill the garbage-void he leaves when pushed out of office. I hope he is a term used to describe the nation waking up to the reality of THE SOUTH not being one homogenous redneck stereotype, and rather being a state with some huge problems and some huge assholes, but how that’s not really that unique to Texas, and there’s a lot of great people too! Not just Austin and four people huddled in a basement in San Antonio reading HuffPo.

 

There was good today. No doubt. And hopefully there’ll be a lot more good to come. But there’s a huge hill to climb and today feels like we took a step up then got pushed down and back.

By Rick Perry.

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Intersectionality and the Failures of White Feminism

Made a storify of just one of the fucking metric ton of great conversations going on about society’s ills last night.

Yes it was the one I was involved in, doesn’t mean nothin’, okay, WHATEVER

http://sfy.co/dJ1M

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Kyriarchy-Cracking Content

So, I’ve fallen in love with two websites recently, where love means reading through their entire archive because everything is the purest, mind-expanding, kyriarchy-threatening, clarifying, most-excellent-metaphor using good

http://thesecretliberalagenda.com/ Website of @CromulentGamer who’s just as awesome on site as on Twitter. It’s top-class satire mixed with earnest posts, and it is ALL biting, witty commentary on culture. Stephen Colbert without the Transphobia and sexism!

And

http://makemeasammich.org/ That I want to link and quote from because HOLY SHIT it is so amazingly, “how in the fuck is this SO TRUE of EVERYWHERE, let alone ANYWHERE in our supposedly modern-era country” good. It’s as if feminism exploded (in a good way), finding and discussing every facet and issue of contemporary culture women struggle against

http://makemeasammich.org/2013/04/25/rules-for-touching-me/  By @SeeSidWrite “I’m writing this right now, and I’m getting angry all over again. You do not guilt other human beings into going beyond their comfort zones just because their comfort zones hurt your feelings. You are a grown-up. Fucking act like it.”

http://makemeasammich.org/2013/04/03/how-many-of-me-equals-one-man/ Also by Sid. And the entire crux and realization of the article, that if people in charge of problematic content for a videogame had known it was a man fighting against it and not a man speaking for two women the argument would have had more sway, more power, and more ears not deaf to it, is a punch to the fucking gut.

“How many women equal one man? Obviously more than two, but how many? Three? Five? How many female voices carry the same weight as one male voice?

How many of me do I need to be taken seriously?”

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Patriot, Racistriot

It’s really fucked how much this IRS-Tea party fiasco is showing of this country’s racism and political problems, thanks basically to government Republicans and Fox News.

It’s two completely different situations and there’s really no comparison to be made, BUT, it’s still infuriating knowing how many people (including those who wouldn’t fall into the above two categories) who are somehow livid that the IRS paid special attention to a stated anti-tax, anti-law group would likely turn RIGHT around and make the argument that we need to profile other people based on skin color and religion because of the (incorrect) notion that there’s “established history” and a very good reason for extra scrutiny (based on completely racist narratives!)

One of the tea party’s core tenants, as in, a belief that defines the organization and is shared by most if not all members, is not being taxed at all. Another is that breaking laws you don’t like is the just and right thing to do. It’s patriotic! Tea Partiers also routinely (and sickeningly fondly) talk about watering the tree of liberty with blood. So the IRS, a tax-collecting organization, paid extra attention to ensure that an explicitly anti-tax, anti-law-abiding group that talks enthusiastically about starting a bloody civil war actually paid taxes.

An extremist group of terrorists who were also Muslim perpetrated an attack (much as Timothy McVeigh did before them, when we did not in any way scrutinize white Christians. HMMMM). So a bunch of bigots took that as an excuse to scrutinize all dark-skinned Muslims (while falsely equivocating dark skin or accents as an indicator of the religion), perform hate crimes, legislate against freedoms, and start witch hunts both in communities and federally.

But, oh yeah, this is the IRS really trampling on everyone’s freedom here, and that other one is totes not racist and just safety or whatever. THIS SITUATION, YEP, NAILED IT, GOOD JOB PATRIOT

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Just In Case You Thought It Didn’t Matter

https://twitter.com/applecidermage/status/318586586927341568

From @applecidermage: “I got a weeklong probation on SA for talking about Chromie because I’m trying to overthrow Blizzard’s tyranny or something”

One of the VERY FEW remaining Something Awful threads I still read is this one: http://forums.somethingawful.com/showthread.php?threadid=3236098 because somehow, despite being a mock thread on SA, it sees a LOT of really great feminist discussion and breakdowns of privileged whining (and yes, just some great wtf gamer moments, like people comparing doing ten less fantasy murder digits to losing a child to a cruel unfeeling god). On a SA sub-forum that has literally banned discussion of anything feminist, it’s great, and consistently so. Every now and then someone will wander in and say “Who even gives a shit, it’s videogames.” or “Can we not have every post be about nice guys and sexists?” (I pray for that day where it’s hard to find ’em!) but on the whole? It is a readable and even thoroughly entertaining Something Awful thread!

Which is why the recent discussion of transgender and non-heteronormative character diversity in videogames in the thread had an element of heart-break (Post that starts the discussion: http://forums.somethingawful.com/showthread.php?threadid=3236098&userid=0&perpage=40&pagenumber=277#post413948287). It was prompted by Apple Cider Mage mentioning (and, until near the end, that’s basically all of her input) that Blizzard had stated a male-named and female-gnome-mortal-form dragon, Chronormu / Chromie, was entirely female in body and mind. There had been that tiny spark of fan speculation (even though, as is mentioned in the thread, given Blizzard’s track record it was 99% likely to be someone applying a male mortal form to a dragon woman or the reverse) of Chromie as a subtly transgendered character, but, with the clearing up of ambiguity, that got stamped out. There were three pages of discussion following.Then Apple Cider got probated:

I love that you try to turn the wowgamers.txt thread into your personal soapbox every fucking chance you get. What do we have this time? Oh, you’re rallying the troops to stand up against the Blizzard’s tyrannical retcon of turning a gender neutral dragon into a female. Holy fucking shit alert the presses. User loses posting privileges for 1 week. Kewpuh

This is the same glorious moderator who got feminist discussion banned from the Games subforum on SA. Nothing in the thread got that heated, or that personally vicious. And that’s why the thread and discussion were GREAT! Because it would have been worth it to power through seeing someone get emotional, and then get dismissive, shittily. But something about the greatest MRA in Games moderation swooping in after the fact to shit all over someone he hates for being a F-F-F-F-FEMINIST leaves a really shit taste in my intellectual-discussion-mouth.

The discussion that followed, that lead to Apple Cider’s probation? Actually still pretty great! It ends on a REALLY fucking down note (stop before effectual’s transphobic horrifying post, it’s right above Kewpuh halting all discussion). But even Wojtek, who initially comes off as a huge privilege-hole by asking why anyone would give a fuck about Chromie (other people who aren’t you, THIS ISN’T HARD) isn’t human garbage and goes on to have good, progressive-minded points (although he’s got some horrible points too). Cabbit is an all-star and makes the thread for the three pages following the link I posted a detailed and wonderful discussion of why it’s important to have minority characters in the media and also why the arguments against are usually bullshit. Choice Cabbit quotes:

  • “Because you can count the number of decent trans characters in gaming on zero hands, so it was nice for a brief moment to think that there might be one.”

             Wojtek posted:

Maybe take fictional half gnome half dragons less seriously instead of beacons of trans representation.

  • “Because there’s exactly two settings to that switch: another straight white-skinned ‘normal’ NPC, or a shining beacon of LGBT inclusion that batters down the oppressive cis regime, and there’s absolutely no benefit to society to having otherwise regular, non-evil and/or outlandish bit characters who happen to be something other than ramrod straight and blithely Caucasian.
  • It’s not about needing representation or turning some random quest giver into a ~*role model*~. It’s about how playing video games and seeing absolutely nobody like you in a positive– or even neutral– capacity gets pretty fucked up after awhile, and makes you feel like you’re somewhere you don’t belong. It’s another thing in the pile that makes you feel like like an ‘other’. ”
  • “…why do you think being homosexual has to be any less subtle than being heterosexual? At any point in the story where orientation is relevant, just, you know, make it not straight. You’ve got a brash hero wooing ladies in a bar about his daring-do? Make ’em dudes. Or dudes and ladies. Somebody’s gotta rescue their lady love from a giant snarling monster? Hey, maybe the hero’s also a woman. I mean, in no way does any of this have to smack of stuff that needs to be kept ‘in the bedroom’. That’s just some weird thing that seems to come up when people think of anything not-heterosexual and their brain somehow goes to this place where it’s somehow more perverted than the absolute deluge of heterosexual relationships used as subplots in pretty much every form of fiction. Stuff that people just sort of gloss over because it’s so goddamn prevalent that it becomes white noise, unless it happens to stick to you that they’re all straight. You only have to exaggerate the hell out of it if you’re writing ‘a gay character’, i.e. a stereotype, instead of a character who happens to be gay. Edit: Ever see the movie ParaNorman? The absolute best example, ever, is in that movie.

There was even good discussion and fair points being raised about the change being the right one!

See, this?

penguinmambo posted:

“Protip: How people react to fan-ideas or canon of a character is way more interesting sometimes than the importance of said characters. Frankly whether you care about the trans angle or not, if you’re turning into a humanoid from that I’m pretty sure you can look like whatever you want; it should not be a big deal even from a lore perspective. But that wouldn’t be done because we know wowplayers would find it hilarious and point it out at every opportunity with terrible terrible dragqueen jokes. Hell, even vanilla shit like the Jaina & Thrall friendship with Blizz’s playful ambigousity is something the sperging playerbase couldn’t handle without a lot cringe-inducing tactless humor.“

That’s actually a GREAT point in opposition to including a transgender character. If I’m reading it right, namely, that the inclusion of a transgender character with this worse-than-the-bronze-age-at-acceptance playerbase would mean open transphobia in chat channels where there was none before. We can go off that and discuss that harm versus the need for ways to reduce transphobia and ignorance of transgender people, and how and if a transgender character could help.

This?

iostream.h posted:

Up until all this I’d have shrugged and nodded anytime someone mentioned trans/bi/whatever characters in a damn videogame.

AFTER all this I would prefer Blizzard and any other devs to just say ‘Absofuckinglutely not, it’s not worth the fucking headache to deal with you people’ and keep my magical pixel fairies as simple as possible.

I mean, godDAMN read the last couple of pages and put it into some context.

Then there was this, in response to Cabbit asking how it would sound if instead of “trans/bi/whatever (ugh)” it had been racial skin tones:

iostream.h posted:

             Cabbit posted:

How about this context– would you say this in public?

If people were arguing about the hue of a questgivers skin and trying to determine the devs intent as to their ethnicity absolutely.
I’m likely not as socially progressive as I should be but I’m pretty ok with where I’m at, but seriously, this shit is tiring. Call me a piece of conservative shit or whatever, call me a sexist (is that even right, considering the context?) but I give an entirely different level of giveadamn to a video game than I do to real life.

Seriously, this is all in respect to a dragon who’s transformed to a goblin who may or may not be trans-gendered.

Apple Cider posted:

I was just pointing out (calmly, I might add)

It just seems to some people are actually taking offense at this, and it confuses the hell out of me and I wish it would just go away so I can read more funny complaining instead of this.

Yeah, that’s god-awful disagreement that checks off enough boxes on the “I”m privilege” argument checklist to get a score of “Well if you don’t care, shouldn’t no one ever?”

“I’m likely not as socially progressive as I should be but I’m pretty ok with where I’m at…” WELL THAT’S JUST FUCKING GREAT, THANKS! I love how privilege 101 that statement is. “Um, guys? I don’t care about this, and I just want to read about silly wow players being overemotional about Thrall? Guys? I’m the most privileged one here? Why aren’t why doing everything I want to the exclusion and invisibility of minority groups? Um, why are we discussin’ BIBEOGAMS like media representations of people and facets of them have actual influence on how people are perceived and can lead to stereotyping OR understanding? Um um um”

The reason I continue to follow this thread is it is one of the only public spaces of communication besides Twitter and specific blog comment sections (read: not Kotaku) where there is actual good, idea-generating and thought-provoking discussion of videogames, the lessons they teach subtly and overtly, and the cancerous culture that’s clinging to them trying to keep healthy cells out, and all with a minimum of demeaning, threatening, or discriminatory shouting matches. All on a site that gets that wrong all the fucking time, usually about shit that in no way deserves that level of investment. The Kewpuh probation is a reminder of how weird it is that this thread exists where it does. And if I didn’t have such faith in the posters creating the discussion, I’d likely be worried about its future.

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The Face of Homophobia (Is luckily Painted Like a Clown)

[Trigger Warning: Homophobia]

Although it’s a comical shade of and reason for homophobia.

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-gay-marry-court-20130127,0,6421506.story What the fuck? What in the ever-loving fuck?

This article details the current argument by those fighting to repress anyone who IDs Not Straight (With the usual likeliness that in their eyes there are only two choices and two genders making those choices) as we come ever closer to seeing how the conservative justices will twist law to openly discriminate against entire groups of human beings based on their natural character. Basically, the main points this round for homophobes seem to be:

“Slut” Shaming and the need for marriage to discriminate against homosexual (and I’d assume all non-heterosexual) couples so unplanned babies will have a COMPLETELY FUNCTIONAL marriage forced on their parents?

Gays have ALL THE POWER because I can’t hurl slurs in public and that Starbucks Barista made fun of Republican senators saying bigoted shit that one time

In addition, Gays have TOO MUCH POWER because, seriously, we were able to discriminate against most other minorities who aren’t us for hundreds of years, and we, like, JUST recognized that non-10000%-heterosexuality was a thing! Can’t we oppress them a bit longer? This is all moving SO FAST to them being equal citizens

This all strikes me with the usual laugh melting into terror that SOPA and PIPA did. Except, where those were cases of a technologically inept legislative body bumbling a power grab with the worry of what happens when someone who knows how to use a search engine tries the same things, this is the latest in a long line of hate, if the first chance to hate in front of the Supreme Court. And this is the argument? I mean, there’s so obviously no fucking argument for treating any couple differently, whoever they are and however they express their love (save in instances of abuse and harm being done), but this is an argument that cannot hold sway with anyone but Glenn Beck and the arguer’s hungry cat whose mews he mistakes as supportive of bigotry.

Here’s to hoping the rest of the arguments heard are as flimsy as this one, leaving little wiggle room for anyone who wants to legislate hate.

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Not Getting Everything Exactly as You Want is WAY Worse than People Dying

I’ve had occasion at work to start reading the Sunday Comics again, and despite all of the strips that routinely bum me out by reminding me about gender stereotypes (or playing other people’s differences for the butt of a joke), I still enjoy reading comics. It’s a great way to see exactly that, even if what’s revealed may be abysmal. There are also comics that are genuinely enjoyable from week to week for me. Granted, I’m reading them four times a year on average, but I’m usually not clawing at my eyes reading Lio or Non Sequitor, and after learning of Garfield minus Garfield (http://garfieldminusgarfield.net/) that strips pretty enjoyable to imagine as Garfield-less.

Of course, there are strips on the other end of that spectrum, that I can usually count on disagreeing with at a moral level. The Pajama Diaries is one of these. Described as such:

The Pajama Diaries details the personal life of Jill Kaplan, a contemporary working mother trying to juggle it all—work life, family life and sex life (or lack thereof)—without completely losing her mind. Modern families everywhere identify with the spot-on humor and find much in common with cartoonist Terri Libenson’s realistic yet funny look at being a multi-tasking, working mother.

The Pajama Diaries seems to be the modern, softer side of bad comedian wife jokes. It sits steeped in stereotypes and gender roles. To its credit, it is a bit more progressive than something like The Family Circus or Dagwood (Is that that comic’s name? I’m not looking that shit up, so it is now) or even Beetle Bailey that harken back to an image of family life in the fifties, but given the Republican / country music mindset of a lot of media sources, The Pajama Diaries often reads like bitter medicine stuck into a cookie. It’s never THAT bad, but there are often bad messages or assumptions inherent to the strips or their jokes. One such was the TPD from last Sunday:

Image

I’m still trying to track down a wonderful piece by a homosexual person about Christians complaining of persecution, telling them how he understands how that feels, but how much worse off the persecution the discriminated and non-privileged face truly is. Basically along the lines of “You are made fun of for your beliefs. We are killed for being who we naturally are.” It was tremendously compelling, and pointed out a false equivalency that I believe is at the heart of “anti-PC” backlash. There’s a lot of ignorance fueling that particular fire too, but there’s also (usually) a sense from people complaining about MAH FREE SPEECHES that being told they can’t make X joke about Y group is as bad as Y group being discriminated against. This is how you get claims of “Reverse Racism,” of Feminists establishing Matriarchies to control men, and most of the claims on Fox News.

The TPD comic linked above is not up to that level, but it’s still a striking example of this trend of viewing privileged problems as on the level of the problems of the oppressed and discriminated just because they’re problems you are actually facing. The basic thrust of the comic is that our modern world is just so complicated. Why can’t we buy a normal goddamn cookie anymore? An angry, hack comedian could beat this premise to death in an angry voice and get lots of laughs.

But it also erases why these options are more and more present and the benefits thereof. Again, it’s this sortof soft offensiveness that won’t make you angry, or feel offended, but still have that core idea that is disturbing. The comic is from the point of view of a “normal” person, who is assumed to be privileged to have no food allergies. She just wants a cookie. Nothing wrong with that, right? And there isn’t, of course. But she can literally stop by any grocery store or gas station on the way home and nurse that bruised privileged sense of being displaced as A Person as the world around her grows to let people with food allergies enjoy a snack too. Not to mention how sever some food allergies can be, and that there’s a good chance this isn’t just letting someone enjoy a cookie without any pain or illness as the main character can anytime she chooses, but without facing potential death. The comic, in focusing on how hard this expanded world can be, forgets how much easier it is for people who now have a place in it.

If I come across as harsh in harping on The Pajama Diaries, I’m not. The ideas it takes for granted and that “Modern families everywhere identify with” are what I have a problem with, and TPD just happens to deliver them softly, with all the ability of any media source to bypass defenses and critical reading we usually have when presented with new ideas or arguments.

And I don’t remotely put this further problem on The Pajama Diaries, but this idea, that the modern world is so complicated (for the privileged) that ignores how much better off others are and how much less inconvenienced and threatened we are than were those who previously didn’t enjoy a more welcoming world, in other sources? Usually comes with a want of regress. Todd Glass has an amazing joke about the idea that the world used to be much better, and simpler.

“Used to be a fella’d hold a door open for a woman.”

“Yeah, and then he wouldn’t let her vote!”

There are a lot of people who want the world back to the way it was, and who treat the loss of their privileges (as certain Christians do with wanting their beliefs and pushes into government and culture to go back to being unquestioned) as equal to discrimination, oppression, and loss of rights. Comics like this one in TPD serve as a soft reinforcement of deeper-held and darker ideas. A way to reaffirm thoughts like, “The world today’s so complicated! SOmetimes I just want milk, ya know? NORMAL milk.” And this process happens for worse ideas, like “Yeah, man, the world’s so hard today. Gotta watch out that I don’t offend anybody! Hah, it’s so easy to do, too. People are SO sensitive! And why doesn’t anyone care when I get offended at being called a sexist for just making a joke? Jeese.”

Intersectionality is a hell of a thing, and the urge to treat loss of privilege or minor inconvenience as equivalent to the struggles and absent rights and place in society of the oppressed in an effort to keep things “simple” causes a lot of harm. No matter how soft and sweet the carrier of that idea can be.

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Hugo Schwyzer And Removal of Victims and the Less Privileged

[Trigger Warning: Discussion of rape culture and discrimination, links have trigger warnings when applicable]

I have spent tonight blurry thanks to cold # three of the 2012-2013 winter season (I keep wanting to say the third this year, but it’s not technically accurate and that IRKS ME) and reading a wonderful breakdown of the problem of Hugo Schwyzer’s place in certain circles of feminism from @graceishuman on Twitter (storify here). There are a lot of issues with Schwyzer’s past and current history of predatory behavior and caring more about his continued place in feminism than how his presence can be triggering to others (A good piece here by @graceishuman on that: http://arewomenhuman.me/2012/02/21/on-hugo-schwyzer-accountability-not-silencing-dissent/), but I’m focusing on one particular incident today.

I came across an article awhile ago (http://hugoboy.typepad.com/hugo_schwyzer/2006/06/its_early_on_a_.html), which has a lot of problems (even forgetting the proto-feminist Schwyzer’s addressing who can’t fully embrace feminism until it gets him laid as much as misogyny) but one point which stood out. Hugo compares being a feminist to entering a cold pool:

My students always hear me, for example, compare becoming a feminist to getting into a cold swimming pool: a few will find it easiest to just dive in, but most of us will climb down, step by step, shivering all the way, only gradually becoming comfortable. And none of us can fully immerse ourselves forever; we all have to keep a head above water in order to breathe. That image may not work for everyone, but it comes as close as any to describing my “slow and easy” approach to transformation.”

There’s a piercing followup that breaks down what feminism should mean for most here: http://www.reclusiveleftist.com/2006/06/16/hugo-responds-and-in-the-process-makes-things-worse/ (That links to the original article by Schwyzer he’s responding to above and also comments on the cold pool idea). I found this article the first time I heard about Schwyzer and his history of being a problematic person who is maleally.txt personified, while I was still trying to give him the benefit of the doubt (as I try to with anyone I don’t know I’m studying up on). It was presented as an incidence of harmful advice (which it is), but in a twisted sort of way, I found myself understanding the comparison.

Can’t overstate it enough at the outset even though I’m about to break down what I find to be true about the comparison: he gave the exact wrong message, to someone who he gave the token “Well sexism is wrong” to before trying to convince him, no, totally, feminism CAN get you laid dude. I can’t condone the message, and I’m not sure Hugo would agree with the interpretation I’m about to give. But I think it can be an apt metaphor, and I understood it in the context of becoming an ally.

I have wonderful friends who are beyond compare who I’ve discussed gender issues, racism, politics, religion, EVERYTHING with. Sometimes with disagreements, never with hate, and never with any really harmful ideas presented (things like “Well I just don’t like black people all that much”). Some don’t identify as feminists, and some have had problems with self-identified feminists, although I concede that most of my current awesome friends I can talk about anything with would identify as feminists. I also have some friends who I have a more complicated relationship with since Anita Sarkeesian and Daniel Tosh introduced me to the wonderful world of feminism and misogynists. They’re still friends, but there are topics that could go downhill quickly.

I also have one former friend who I was best man for at his wedding. And although reading that sentence still seems weird to me, he is a former friend. I haven’t told him that fact yet and am electing to avoid him instead, but in the wake of Tosh’s rape culture triumph, we had a conversation where he expressed a lot of harmful stuff, laughed at Tosh’s “ “ “joke” “ “ when I told it to him, and stated that he didn’t care about women (or issues that only affect women). I have a friend who is still a best friend, who I can have meaningful and critical conversation with, including about fat acceptance and feminism. We mostly talk online anymore, on Ventrillo, and when his friend Kurt gets on, my friend becomes a gamer.txt-comment-spewing machine. To the worst of it, too: using racial and homophobic slurs, both r-words thrown around, offensive lines of thought and commentary about the other teams they face (they play DOTA a LOT, which is part of it but not an excuse of the behavior). It’s actually fascinating how these are only issues when Kurt’s around. Maybe an isolated n-word otherwise, but it’s like a faucet. It’s something I want to bring up to him, and by the quality of his character, I feel I can, although it might get weird (and I know that wouldn’t be my fault). So we’re still friends. If I want my former friend to remain in my life, I’d have to suppress any comments about his misogynist jokes and “equal opportunity” sex comments, and I don’t want to suppress that; I want to be outspoken about that. So we’re no longer friends (and I really need to get around to telling him that and not blowing him off).

This is part of the reason I can understand the cold swimming pool metaphor. Staying online to talk with a friend while he freely uses slurs against (very likely) other white male gamers is uncomfortable for me. Getting into arguments with Men’s Rights Activists trying to give rape wiggle room and understanding, in a way I very much wouldn’t have before learning about feminism, why the language Republicans use about rape is trying to do the same angers and saddens me. Having my eyes opened to the patriarchy and the myriad lives it ruins has a lot of analogies. A cold swimming pool works; so does a cascading fountain, as once you start discovering intersectionality and rape culture you start seeing how even the most innocuous-seeming toy marketing rolls into the wrecking ball that is rape culture. The cold pool analogy works, in as much as there are two states: the more comfortable air and the less comfortable chilling water. Yes, technically, before I became a feminist and had heard all of the chilling stories about harassment, strict enforcement of gender roles, everyday sexism, and literal violence and silencing done every day to women, and men as well, by men, and by women too, I wasn’t bothered by it. Ignorance is bliss rings true in a gross, horrifying way for issues of systemic -ism.

But none of that is me being awful, or the wonderful people I’ve met or things I’ve learned in the past year. It’s all a response to horrifying shit that I was ignorant and unaware of previously. A lot of people dread being around a conservative, racist, evangelical, etc. relative. Fox News’ viewer base is the literal bane of a ton of family holidays, turning those events into dreaded, painful experiences to try and efficiently get through with as little mental harm as is possible. People can feel literal nausea being around an awful family member. And that’s important to keep in perspective: It’s the family member who is awful, not the person who feels a knot in their stomach when that family member says the n word about Obama. That family member is the shitheel, to the point of discomforting the more progressive person; the more progressive person isn’t bad for acknowledging -isms and how attitudes manifest into actual harm for people being discriminated against (see: the war on women, fucking everything in the news basically).

There’s also a real darkness behind the idea of the cold pool analogy Schwyzer employs, especially the idea of needing to “come up for breath”: a recognition of the privilege that starts Hugo and other men outside of the pool, and a complete absence of the fact that women are drowning at the bottom and don’t get a choice to leave the pool. This leaves out what the disadvantaged minority (because this discussion could fit a lot of spaces, not just feminism) goes through and deals with and what discomfort and anger and negative emotion looks and feels like in their life. Schwyzer has this framing issue a lot, but it’s really offensive here. The pool analogy really is apt: it frames it entirely by the (relatively minor) discomforts of the person getting to make a choice and leaves no room for what the people being victimized feel, what they can do, and how they deal with these issues. While Schwyzer is deciding how much of his foot he’ll dip into calling out misogynists and maybe having an uncomfortable argument or callout, women are dealing with street harassment, personal safety in family and partner relationships, and the myriad psychological pressures of rape culture. And they don’t get to choose when or how much of it they deal with; it finds them.

Although I try not to be too down on myself, and 1000% not on others who are still ignorant, I occasionally feel embarrassed that I went so long, through five years of college and two years of somewhat heavy gaming, being ignorant of the growing problem women were facing online and the constant problems from pre-history they’d been facing offline. This personal analogy works on a bigger scale, too. There couldn’t be a more laughable idea than to think that before the Internet allowed mass communication and reporting there wasn’t sexism and misogyny and harassment going on. We were just ignorant of it culturally. Most ideas professed by someone opining that things were better “back in the day” can usually be related to a problem that was actually occurring, just behind closed doors. Now, the Internet has shone an unavoidable light on a light of things; part of that is being repulsed by repulsive behavior. Another is the opportunity to correct it.

I have many problems (and answers!) with men who need something out of feminism, as though ending oppression isn’t good enough. And there’s really no good word for the feeling of sobering melancholy that comes with seeing the kind of discussion that keeps popping up around Schwyzer and other issues that leaves the victim being addressed non-existent (I feel I’m guilty of it in this piece). But there are as many issues to work through in being a humane, non-discriminatory person and tackling the vast problems in human cultures as there are ways to stay ignorant of them. And that ignorance can be easier. That’s why it’s no excuse once you learn something’s going on, and why confronting is not just being a better person, but (hopefully) ending oppression, or at least knowing you didn’t shrink from the problem to leave the person dealing with shit to be overwhelmed. In feminist spaces, as a man, it’s trying my best to be indistinguishable from any woman who is a feminist and addressing another woman dealing with issues. There’s differences because I’m a man, and that’s part of my feminism, is recognizing I have the privileged position. It’s also recognizing that privilege is worth destroying, without me getting anything in return because I did nothing to get it in the first place, and that every privilege I have means a disadvantage for another group. It’s worth overthrowing so every person can live the same great life equally, and no person misses out so I can live comfortably ignorant while they struggle.

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A Love Story For The Ages. As In, For Ages, Men Have Been Controlling, Abusive Assholes

[Trigger Warning: brief mention of Twilight’s glossing over or support of abuse, pedophilia, no-exception abortion. In Twilight and this post, that exception is always the death of the mother and that particular exception alone]

* v READ THIS BLURB v *

I have come to Twilight through Rifftrax. Entertainment is subjective; it’s my opinion that the movies are awful to an objective level, but I’m enjoying them as a trainwreck, and if I was enjoying them as something I found genuinely compelling, I wouldn’t be so quick to defend how I came to watch the films.

However, for everything bad you’ve heard about the writing, the acting, blah blah, that pans out, everything you’ve heard about blatant metaphors and arguments for abstinence only, anti-any-abortion, Edward’s stalking and “accidental” beating because he’s just too vampire strong and the abusive qualities of Bella’s relationships with Edward and Jacob, and probably anything else you’ve heard about harmful ideas presented as great or presented uncritically is true. As an adult, I can notice it (the film does not treat the actual marriage of Edward and Bella as the “marriage” in the abstinence metaphor. Vampirism is “marriage”) and keep enjoying the spectacle and the level to which these movies should know they’re failing. That these movies are also enjoyed uncritically, and by a lot of teenagers, is disturbing, and worth actual commentary, and why I am quick to point out that I heard about these things and avoided the franchise until I saw the Rifftrax of the first movie. And… fuck, now I’ve seen all five films. God damnit.

* ^ READ THIS BLURB ^ *

The ridiculousity of not writing for a month for lack of inspiration to come write a Twilight retrospective is not lost on me. It’s why I knew I had to write it! I agree absolutely with my above disclaimer; there’s a lot to hate about Twilight (and the fanfic-turned-novel 50 Shades of Grey that’s apparently a direct copy, horrible moral lessons and all!) that is solid and not “You like WHAT thing I don’t like? Pssssshhhhhhhhhh.” But this is going to be a few silly paragraphs (spoiler: “paragraphs” is a goddam lie) about how ridiculous and turned up to 11 this movie franchise finale actually was. I’m assuming you have a working knowledge of the Twilight lore because if I start to try and summarize it and lay bare the “story” I will descend into insanity, at least to Breaking Dawn: PART 2 until we’re able to hire an intern to write seven more parts.

* SPOILERS SPOILERS A LOT OF SPOILERS *

I have too many CAPS already and I love it. SO. I still feel dirty having paid to sit in a theater and watch a Twilight movie straight. I have watched all of them now (oh gods it’s setting in) but I watched the first four with Rifftrax commentary. Twilight movies really aren’t worth seeing or remotely entertaining until the Breaking Dawn two-parter, when the movies either stop giving any fucks or enough people are hired on who are in on the joke. Michael Sheen realizes how ridiculous it all is from the getgo, even though before BD he’s got 10 minutes of screen time. His character, King Evil Vampire McDracula, chews more scenery than Uma Thurman did in Batman and Robin (I feel I’m giving all these “films” way too much respect italicizing their titles) and his seizure-orgasm laugh in BDp2 basically lets the audience paying attention take a moment and say, “Oh, holy shit, he is the only character acting like he GETS THIS.” The movies throw plenty of quips out to fall on their faces, but mostly tries to play everything seriously, and that’s ridiculous enough on its own. This IS the romance of the century between a centenarian and a 17-year-old! Everything IS very important even though no one important ever dies or faces more than 12 seconds of adversity and there’s not enough total plot to carry one film, let alone five! Bella and Edward ARE love(love here being the kind from every simplistic fable we stop reading to kids at 3), but, oh, also Bella and Jake ARE love, except when they aren’t, which is always from day one, but it’s still REAL and INTENSE and Bella IS tortured! And not when she’s making throw-up faces at Edward, no, that IS love! And then Michael Sheen enters a VERY important elder vampire tribunal that is deciding if Bella should be killed or eaten or whatever, with cloaks and everything, and will not stop giggling, and basically plays Mitt Romney of the vampire world, and happily. He wants power ’cause power’s awesome, and so is evil, and so he’s Saturday morning cartoon evil while every other character tries to appear tortured while having the emotional range of a coma patient (which I blame entirely on directing while everyone else seems to blame it all on K-Stew). And that is why Arro is a better character than The Joker.

That’s already way too many words about Twilight, but let’s keep going: it’s ridiculous enough that this franchise, so obsessed with being the modern-day Shakespeare, is more on par with the depth of See Spot Run, but from the first Twilight movie, the amount of plot keeps steadily decreasing. Thinking back, I have to admit, the first film kindof starts out okay if simplistic. Bella moves to a new town, meets new people, and then meets THE boy (with Robert Pattison’s only showing of good acting in all of the movies somehow being used to appear as though the stomach flu JUST hit when he first sees Bella), there’s the completely obvious “He’s a vampire dummy” mystery, then vampire family, then RIVAL vampire family, and it’s sparse and uninteresting, but, plot and event progression. Then the movie just dwells for an hour culminating with a 2-minute vampire fight followed by PROM. Yep. So it’s so unaware it bleeds irony from the getgo, but there was kindof plot. Okay.

Movie 2 (fuck titles): Bella feels old at 18 because she isn’t immortal. Dwell on that for five minutes then drop it so Edward can suddenly dump Bella after she gets a papercut and some vampire gets a little too hungry. So she mopes then hangs out with Jacob, but one of the evil vampires from movie 1 is hunting her (and since Edward left she’s in actual danger)! That’s 80% of the second movie. That’s the “plot.” And it’s all a shallower rehash of movie 1 (Jacob has a vampire WEREWOLF secret. Bella is conflicted about her feelings for Edward Jacob Edward? Evil EVIL vampire!) Then 10 minutes of rushed plot with Edward suicide and the Volturi out of nowhere and marriage proposal. Or was that the end of the third one? Who knows. All this shit’s the same.

Movie 3: See above. Drop the Edward drama, drop the Volturi, have the same evil vampire build an army but ultimately have that be a 1-minute fight. Have less plot still somehow stretched over two hours and have the same Jacob drama as the last film despite the fact Bella’s engaged the entire time.

BDp1: Open with a wedding, with ten minutes where you’re convinced the filmmakers finally get it and are in on the joke. Everyone including the groom gives a toast, Billy Burke gruff dads the gruffiest dad moments of the franchise as he threatens to shoot his son-in-law, and Jacob is pissed that he still hasn’t caught on to plot points established by minute 6 of movie 2. Then have no plot for an hour and a half. They go on honeymoon; an hour later Bella throws up chicken that could easily have been undercooked but no whoops she knew she was actually morning sick. Then in the last twenty minutes have a whirlwind tour of CHILD NOT FETUS, BELLA SHOULD DIE FOR THE CHILD WHO IS A CHILD AND HER LIFE DOESN”T MATTER, Bella looking disturbingly emaciated but it’s just her CHILD NOT FETUS killing her, blood slurpies, Edward giving a C-section with his mouth, Jacob imprinting on an infant, Jacob imprinted on an infant, JACOB HAD UNCONTROLLABLE FEELINGS OF LOVE TOWARDS A LITERAL 10-MINUTE-OLD BABY, Bella dying, then back to life, and the second she opens her vampire eyes, movie over.

BDp2: Plot-wise? Bella’s a vampire. Then an actual all-out fight. Then SURPRISE (more below, I just, oh man, it’s the best and only good part of the entire series). Then movie over. There are basically two plot points to the finale of a five-part movie series. Which, again, I can’t believe that any major studio mega-blockbuster franchise could be THIS unaware, but I have to. But I have to admit, while BDp1 was interesting-ridiculous enough to maybe watch without Rifftrax or friends to mock with, BDp2 is actually chockful of unwitting comedy that it might be to the level of The Room. Even THAT… The Room didn’t take four installments of mind-numbing setup for such a great payoff, but given that I watched this franchise as Rifftrax presents: Twilight, the redemption of an actual society-setback-inducing movie series is just that much sweeter. The highlights as I was watching:

    • Most of what has been said about Kristen Stewart’s acting in these movies is true, although it ignores that every character is a one-dimensional monotone person-like automaton and K-Stew’s Bella is literally no different from anyone else. But at the outset, for the first 20 minutes? She acts. She acts giddy about being able to basically fly and fuck rocks up (she’s also the strongest as a newborn vampire and arm-wrestles the dumb jock stereotype vampire), then out of control with hunger (albeit it’s a complete 180 the second Edward mentions hunger that is dropped forever after one scene), then gets well-acted pissed at Jacob for imprinting on her daughter, and then gets pissed a second time, and then drops right back to the acting level of “I’m taking a nap.” It’s nice when it’s there and genuinely surprising, but it’s quick and fleeting

    • Seriously, Jacob “imprinting”: the movie introduces it as werewolf super dating, and nothing else. And then Jacob imprints on an infant. And then you vomit and have an extreme unease, as you should. And he gives no defense besides a weak “it’s not like that” because he can’t; the movie presents it in no other light than “super love” and just basically drops it as a concern until he’s 100% not just 90% onboard to fuck at the end of the movie. It’s literally worse than “I’m an 8,000 year old demon in a 12 year old anime girl” as presented because Twilight does the opposite: Reneesme ages super-quick, so she’ll be physically 25 when she’s mentally 3. HOLY FUCK. And it is just glossed over because despite being hilariously bad as movies Twilight is also morally reprehensible and tries to present so many awful moral ideas you’d think it ran Republican in November.

    • And the worst part? While it’d be such bullshit, he could have defused Bella’s anger immediately by saying “You love your dad. Would you fuck your dad?” He would be a lying pedophile not being addressed AT ALL by the movie still, but it’d be a sensible response from a total shit-mound

    • They get a house as a present, fuck in it (oh but Edward makes it out without bruises even though he’s now “weaker!”) and then just stay at the Cullen house that worked for every other movie. Was this product placement for Walmart’s entire furniture division?

    • Jacob eschewing the fact that pants are torn off during wolf transformations and magically reappear for four films to FINALLY get naked sensibly… in front of Billy Burke so he can gruff dad as he is literally presented with an 18-year-old getting naked in front of him and then immediately turning into a gigantic wolf. Billy Burke is now unable to have any form of healthy relationship sexually or otherwise

    • Above scene is set up to keep Bella from moving, but it makes no sense to do that except show what a complete selfish prick Jacob is. Bella tells Billy Burke, who knows she’s also different but not a werewolf but what the FUCK?, to not worry about that very legitimate question as to what his daughter is and if she’s safe, and he does, after feeling how cold she is but eh that’s not WEREWOLF weird, basically figures out she has a baby, not a niece, and then mentions none of it again. That includes two more scenes with Edward, Bella, and the wolf that got naked in front of him, with a suprise fishing trip that is an obvious ploy to get rid of him (by Bella and by the movie that is too lazy to use him for… uh… dr- draaaamatic tension?)

    • Every vampire recruited is an amazingly offensive stereotype. This is a major movie series; I understand (although lividly hate) why Christopher Nolan got to whitewash Bane and not get called on it, but HOW is Twilight able to set back US-Amazon relations so easily? And usurp the Lucky Charms Leprechaun as “Most stereotyped Irish character” three times over?

    • THE FIGHT. Is actually pretty great. Twilight never explains what the fuck with vampire superpowers, basically because how do you present the culmination of three 5-year-olds inventing superpowers as serious, but they work for the megafight given it’d just be vampire punching otherwise

    • FIGHT special mentions:

      • I fucking love Michael Sheen

      • Second mention for his evil/legitimate on-set absurdity recognition/climaxing mega-giggle. Best moment of the movie

      • The CGI reaches a new low with Carmichael’s head

      • Dakota Fanning plays the least emotional vampire in a sea of vampires who would show more emotion if they looked around when someone sneezed, but BDp2 does well with that by dropping it suddenly. That strategy does work though, both when she throws a vampire toddler into a fire with a smile and when she realizes her power is being blocked and she’s straight fucked and she loses it (which is genuine “oh shit” face and then running, but still, it’s good payoff)

      • Cameron Bright is now an adult and still playing hyper-creepy children basically

      • Never dig ANYWHERE in Washington state; lava is literally fifty feet underground

      • SURPRISE! IT WAS ALL A DREAM! They did it! They actually did it! It feels amazing to laugh so completely =D

      • I was laughing pretty regularly throughout the film, but I started getting shushed before THE FIGHT and throughout it by someone (although I wasn’t the only giggler, there were only 10 people max and I was leading) But the second the movie revealed “We let one thing happen in this 2-hour movie. Oh, whoops! Our bad! DREAM SEQUENCE” everybody lost it and I didn’t hear any shushes after that. It was bonus entertainment to hear someone no longer be able to carry the delusion of, “No, this is a GREAT movie! Five scenes of a child touching a face exactly the same way are great!”

    • Jacob literally jokes, “So, can I start calling you Dad?” and then Reneesme rounds a corner still very much an 8-year-old, IMMEDIATELY after a reference to JacobxRenessme, and I became legitimately disturbed thinking about what kind of person would laugh at that “joke”

    • Realizing that the entire franchise is built around a 120-year-old dating a 17-year-old and has been a moral shitheap housing pedophiles that needs burned since day one

    • By “practicing,” Bella gains the power of MOVIE MONTAGE. She then lays bare the cruel joke that is Twilight by pretty accurately summing up everything that happens in the entire franchise in under a minute (including having no moments from the third film, the Twilight movie that was lazy by Twilight standards). She then uses the power for the end credits, the end! Also Jacob is dating Reneesme The End! *bleurghl*

Holy shit that’s a lot of words about Twilight. I now feel clinically embarrassed and need to leave. I’m… I’m sorry. I’m so, so sorry.

 

 

(The Rifftrax are great, but I have seen every Twilight movie and know the three-sentence plot and that’s way too much to handle. Don’t see this movie and make sure anyone you know who enjoys it doesn’t vote for no-exception abortion)

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