Wonderful fights between narcissism and worthlessness

I watched an Action Movie (Dredd)

I have been listening to La Roux hardcore since watching the trailer for Dredd, and listening to the trailer to listen to the song cemented this film in my head. I originally only wanted to see Dredd to see if it passed the Beichdel Test (video from Feminist Frequency here on the Test) because, from the trailer, it looked like a pretty typical action movie with cop elements, so seeing THAT be one of the hallowed few to pass the Beichdel Test would have filled me with endless glee. I also still identify as an action movie fan even though the genre seems to be eschewing closer to its dumb and sexist roots lately (big names in the genre: Expendables, Transformers) rather than develop or break new ground despite the example and success set by Inception and, to a certain extent, The Hunger Games.


The rookie Anderson (Olivia Thirlby) is one of two primary on-screen women as her and superior officer and judge Dredd (Karl Urban) mow through groups of thug dudes on their way to judge Ma-Ma (Lena Headey) [I AM THE BACK OF A DVD CASE], head of a drug ring / gang that controls a 200-story apartment building. I’d summarize the plot more, but really, the plot’s a macguffin to get to action and character interaction, which are both pretty great (more on the action in a bit). Dredd’s mentoring the rookie Anderson, they go to the apartment tower because of three murders, they bust in on a lil drug den and take a lackey who could give up the whole drug ring, so Ma-Ma takes control of security and the whole tower and tells the denizens to bring the judges to her. Cue the survival and eventual vengeance-on-Ma-Ma mission while also keeping the lackey with them. Watching the trailer, I saw the rookie was a woman, I saw the head villain was a woman, and I saw a shitton of mindless violence, and I giggled at the thought that this movie, looking every bit as action as the Expendables, could pass the Beichdel test with flying colors.

The film solidly fails the Beichdel test though. Anderson speaks to three women in the course of the film. The first is a superior officer the judges report to at the beginning of the film, but it is to give her assessment of Dredd, a man, and also to reveal Anderson’s a psychic. The second is a random apartment-dweller who Anderson either knew before being recruited as an orphaned child to Judge training or mindread for a name just to get a foot in the door, but the woman, while helping them, makes it clear she’s doing it because she’s worried her husband will run afoul of the judges. Iffy. The third is a corrupt woman judge who is hunting the rookie. It’s about 5 seconds long and one-sided; the corrupted judge tells Anderson to put her gun down because she’s backup, Anderson psychics that it’s bullshit, and she murders the corrupt judge. I guess maaaybe this could count as a pass? But it’s not really a qualifier.

What surprised me most was, despite failing the Beichdel Test, this movie was actually fairly progressive in its depictions of women as well as race, the first despite Anderson and Ma-Ma being the Smurfette of most scenes and only being in the same room twice (the second time being the final confrontation where Anderson gets hit in a shootout with the last remaining thugs and stays down anyways). Dredd has the same problem most films do where racial diversity means black people, and the main three characters are white, but the screen is shared pretty evenly between both races. There are black judges, the superior officer who interviews Anderson at the start of the film is black, the character who tells Dredd and Anderson about Ma-Ma and her gang running the apartment bloc (which has an ethnically diverse resident group) is black, as well as the lackey who the judges apprehend and who they keep as they navigate the building. The gang members who get mowed down as action fodder are also a pretty even mix. It makes the world feel as though black people are included as much as the white people and don’t just fill a niche or act as a minority.

Being that most characters that aren’t part of a crowd are being shot, there are only two women who get much characterization: Anderson and Ma-Ma. Ma-Ma, as the head of her gang, is genuinely great, especially given the action genre. The only tropes she falls into are non-gendered and character-based: we know nothing except that she’s the head of the gang, brutal, ruthless, and wants to control the city through the use of the drugs she produces. Usually this blank slate character is male, so having a woman is a progressive casting choice alone, but Dredd also avoids feminizing the role, which I appreciated immensely. Lena Headey plays the role straight and wonderfully; Ma-Ma doesn’t rule with sexuality, but with an iron fist. She punches one guy in the face for his failure, orders her gang around in a way that lets us know she cares shit-all about them save her number two (who is a man who she is in no way sexual with yay), and runs a knife up her tech expert’s stomach to “motivate him” to do better during one scene. She’s every bit the bosses of other groups of bad guys in other action movies, and it works in a weirdly feminist way.

Anderson is a bit more complicated, but also handled very well by the film. Anderson does fall into some tropes, but they’re identifiable as rookie tropes and come off as such. Her interactions with Dredd fall into the rookie-ranking relationship, which has Dredd mostly quizzing her on deserved sentences and growing throughout the course of the film to see her as ready for duty. She has to deal with the ramifications of actually killing people in the field, and when they kill their first group of be-gunned thugs, Dredd leaves it to her to kill the one left alive and coughing out blood, trying to beg for his life. It affects her, more so when they get help from the apartment-dweller who just wants to ensure her husband’s safety and, looking at mantle pictures, Anderson sees the husband is the man she executed. This could have skewed to death and the horror of war affecting her as a woman, but it sticks to non-gendered impacts and trends. She is visibly shaken by the horror of her actions and Dredd’s seeming flippance towards them (they’ve been judged, no wrong done!), but it’s subtle. She never breaks down in tears, and by the end of the film she’s both ready to confront Ma-Ma, not withering or traumatized into inaction, but also ready to voluntarily quit being a judge afterwards, having realized the horrors of violent conflict and wanton death may be too much to bear given they happen to very real humans.

The one troubling scene sexism-wise is between Anderson and the lackey the judges cart around for half the movie. Dredd begins to interrogate him, which equals beating the shit out of him, when Anderson tells Dredd to stop and steps in to do it psychically. Her and the lackey end up in his mind, which is visually them in a darkened room where images flit across the screen as he thinks of things. Of course, he thinks of fucking her to try and shock her (which she isn’t shocked by, although he has some other shocking thought we don’t see that gets to her a bit later), but while the film makes it clear Anderson’s in control and it’s all mental, visually it plays out; Anderson unzips her judge’s uniform exposing a bit of side boob and then it cuts to her naked back, as well as showing full-body sex with creative use of shadows to cover up genitals (although that may have been a body double, it was good shadow use). Further on in Dredd, the lackey gets free and takes Anderson hostage by overpowering her, taking her to Ma-Ma and then being put in charge of killing her. When she was taken hostage my heart sank, but to the movie’s credit, it’s both playing the rookie-ranking trope that a lot of films use for male stars and then goes on to completely subvert it. Anderson lets the lackey threaten her with her judge’s gun, which then flashes “Incorrect I.D.” and blows his hand off. She then makes her own escape, beating the shit physically out of some goons and killing a corrupt judge before rescuing Dredd from a shootout with the other corrupt judges after he ran out of bullets and got shot. It makes the use of damsel in distress, however temporary, justified while leaving out most of the baggage that comes with the trope.

Ultimately I’m not sure the better handling of women in this film than most general films, let alone action ones, may have been intentionally breaking tropes against women as much as breaking action film tropes. The way Dredd handles violence was surreal and unique. The movie’s an almost by-the-books killfest with action, blood and gore everywhere, but the directing choices elevate the way Dredd uses and comments on violence. Some shots linger repeatedly, uncomfortably on dead bodies, and others present violent death as a fact of life for this civilization. The first five minutes of the film have Dredd chasing three suspects in a van through city streets. A random person is hit by the van and leaves a bloody crack in the windshield and then you see him tumbling viciously before Dredd nonchalantly drives around him. After crashing their van one guy escapes on foot and shoots a few people; next scene their blood is being cleaned up by a street sweeper while they remain dead on the ground. Dredd eventually corners the last suspect who’s taken a hostage, judges him, sentences death, and then shoots him in the mouth with an incendiary round that melts his face off brutally. The hostage looks like she’ll freak out, but then she doesn’t and thanks the judge. Dredd has this same sort of play with your expectations throughout. Anderson uses her psychic powers throughout the movie, so when one of the corrupt judges, believing she’ll either get to shoot first or Anderson will hesitate and she’ll still shoot first, tracks Anderson down, we know how the scene will play out, but we also have some expectations of how that will look. Mine was not, “The corrupt judge will confront Anderson in a hallway, say she’s backup, get psychic-sensed and then get a round of bullets to the chest all in the span of five seconds.”

But that’s why I enjoyed Dredd so fucking much! It genuinely surprised me, while also not disgusting me with the treatment of its characters. The terrific acting from the main cast helped, because there are plenty of comic book quips and dialogue that could have fallen flat, but in trying to break from action genre tropes, Dredd managed to surpass them and deliver an excellent, enjoyable, and somewhat progressive experience.

Uh…… 3 stars I guess?

Also, quick point: the visuals were top-fucking-notch. The drug at the center of the drug ring is a future-drug called Slo-Mo that slows time down to 1% normal passage, and visually in the film also saturates colors and applies a rainbow effect, like a shimmering bubble. It’s gorgeous, used amazingly throughout the film, and spectacularly in one scene where it quick-cuts between slow drug effect shots and quick realtime shots. Almost makes me wish I’d seen Dredd in 3D. This didn’t fit in the piece really, but shit was it ever great.

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Lance Mannion: Useless in Mitt World

I just read an interesting piece: http://lancemannion.typepad.com/lance_mannion/2012/06/useless-in-mitt-world.html. I wrote originally here (https://sublimebeeessry.wordpress.com/2012/09/13/mitt-romneys-smart-he-also-has-no-heart/) about my current idea for why Mitt can’t relate to human beings, and I still think his choking privilege is the main reason for that complete unstoppable disconnect that produces moment after smiling-during-a-press-conference-for-an-attack-on-America moment, but the above piece by Lance Mannion (Is that… CAN that name be real?) makes a persuasive case for an interesting idea: that many conservatives, specifically our would-be president Mitt, view our society and the people within it purely in economic terms:

What has happened is that the people running the economy and who see the the point of a society as serving the economy are measuring and valuing everything in economic terms, including people, whom they reductively assess as resources or costs, that is as things to be exploited or controlled.

Bad enough, spiritually and psychologically, feeling that you are of no more worth than a lump of coal or useful only for your ability to dig up a lump of coal.

Which prompts an interesting question:

What happens when they decide you are a cost?

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Oh Humanity and Forgiveness

I cannot think of how to start this article, so let me say, fuck Daniel Tosh. It’s the best way to start any article, really. But in all that came tumbling out across the Internet in response to his harassment of a heckler with a threatening rape comment, little came from Tosh himself, exemplified by his “apology.” In a single tweet, Tosh said: “all the out of context misquotes aside, i’d like to sincerely apologize j.mp/PJ8bNs” Which is saying three things:

      1. Your version of the story is not to be trusted, playing into cultural narratives about mistrusting the stories and voices of women, especially harassed women

      2. Here’s a link to said story, just so we’re clear who lacks context and misquoted me (along with the fact that followers of Tosh can now find it easily and also be brought up to speed on why the Internet’s yelling at him

      3. “I’d like to sincerely apologize”

i. I have problems with in general, but especially here as the lead to his “apology.” Before I show the least bit of a hint of remorse, let’s just make it clear you’re wrong. ii. can be problematic, but given that comedians have routinely sicced followers on people disagreeing with them, I don’t think Tosh had any explicit malicious intent, although the tweet does implicitly connect i. to the blog post he links. But my big huge mega problem is iii. Because using the word sincere as part of a two-word apology is just grossly misunderstanding what a sincere apology actually is. Infuriatingly gross misunderstanding.

So, earlier this week, I was blown away when I found this:

Ladies and gentlemen, during tonight’s Lantern Run, I made a terrible mistake with my language, one that I immediately recognized as hurtful, embarrassing, and just categorically inappropriate both personally and professionally. Giant Bomb has certainly been known to “work blue”, but that kind of language simply has no place on Giant Bomb–and, frankly, in the world at large–not now, not ever. I was shocked myself when it came tumbling out, and instantly felt like the worst piece of shit in the world. Context is meaningless, because that word comes with too much of its own hurtful baggage to ever possibly justify.

I want to be crystal clear here: I’m saying this not because of some corporate mandate or some fear for my job. I’m saying this because it’s important to me personally that I acknowledge the significance of what was said, and to own it. I feel miserable because that’s not me, and it’s horrifying to me to think that someone would take that awful outburst as some sort of implicit approval to use that word. That shit is just indefensible. As such, the archived version of the Final Lantern Run will be edited, though I wanted to make sure that this message got out there first, and that people know that this isn’t a cover-up.

All I can ask for now is forgiveness for my gaffe. If you can’t manage that, I understand, and hope that you can at least give me a chance to prove that I am better than what you saw of me in that deeply regrettable moment of frustration.

This. This is a true sincere apology (Note also he does not say I sincerely apologize even once, although he’d have earned using the word). In doing further research, the term he used was the homophobic f slur, reportedly randomly and not at anyone, but also reportedly he facially registered he’d done wrong and apologized on the spot, offering this further apology and explanation on the forums.

Knowing barely anything about Ryan Davis or GiantBomb.com, I may be lacking some key context, but this sincere apology really stands on its own. So often in calling out an incident it’s impossible to escape from calling out a person due to their actions. And I believe it is worthwhile in every instance to call out sexism, bigotry, homophobia and general shittiness. Those discussions are always worth having. At the same time, I believe human beings in general are fallible, capable of error, and capable of growth.

Personally, a large uninhibitor on my Tweeting and my writing is the idea that, if something is wrong, or offensive, or blinded by privilege, the best way to find that fact out is to say it. If I don’t catch it before saying it, chances are I’m not going to understand why it’s wrong, why my particular phrasing, or word choice, or timing, or conversation I’m injecting my opinion into make it the wrong thing to say. It doesn’t mean I never think before I speak, but if I’m thinking of holding something in and can’t quite say why (and can’t say it’ll hurt anyone), I should say it and let my wonderful audience (mostly for Twitter, but people read this too! =D) let me know exactly why what I said was pig-headed, offensive, privileged, or otherwise insensitive or incorrect.

This model relies on forgiveness and people not judging me for one statement but for all of my statements. Another example of the epidemic of celebrities saying shitty things was Joseph Gordon Levitt, in response to a press junket question about working with Emily Blunt in Looper, said, “She’s funny … and let’s face it, most pretty girls aren’t funny.” While my partner disagrees, moreso after that bullshit comment, I enjoy Joseph Gordon Levitt. I loved him in Third Rock From the Son, I thought he was great in the role he was in for The Dark Knight Rises, and I generally enjoy his screen time. Looper itself looks interesting in a “It will pass to the $1 theater” way, and he was also in an Autotune the News video. But none of that reveals anything about him as a person; the sexist statement does. So that’s all I really know about Joseph Gordon Levitt as a person. And it’s easy to assume further sexist views are held or that he’s actually a pretty nasty guy, NOTHING like his screen persona, or maybe he’s a “nice guy.” You know. The kind that hate women and view spending time with them as payment for the opportunity at the sex. But it’s harder to think of him as a generally decent person in a patriarchal society that’s always held this certain assumption, implanted and reinforced by said society, that is just now being challenged by other people. I truly believe Levitt held this sexist belief prior to stating it, but I know nothing of how flexible it or he is. How open would he be to people telling him WHY it’s such a wrong statement, why it upholds harmful gender narratives and can hold women back, especially costars like Emily Blunt?

There’s a flipside to that idea: how closed would he become as people scream at him, no matter how correct they are. For famous film star Joseph Gordon Levitt, I’m not too worried; the tools he’s acquired to face people telling him his movies suck and he should die, while misused when someone’s aggressively and angrily telling him something right for a change, will likely get him through without seeing one of the stars of the new Batman film withdrawing from society because the Internet was too mean. And I haven’t seen him making any tone arguments or references to blogs or anything of the sort, as Louie C.K. Did in his response on The Daily Show after Daniel Tosh’s incident. I saw one apology where Levitt indicates he meant what he said either to point out the cultural narratives about pretty women or to joke about those narratives, and where he apologizes more for not choosing the right words than for what he said, but, while problematic, it also worked to some degree. It pointed to a human who doesn’t have this all figured out, who might still be working through these issues, but also growing.

Online, personally, I often end up in disagreements with either Men’s Rights Activists or Anti-Choice, Pro-Life people. And the lesson I want to take away from the GiantBomb apology, the Tosh apology, and the Levitt apology is that humans are different. I so often try to empathize with other people, but I worry I’ve been too unforgiving with certain people I disagree with. That’s not to say there aren’t things that make forgiveness/empathy less and less achievable. Some people, when confronted with hurtful or -ist comments, double down, both supporting and furthering their harmful views. Some make the issue about them, and their feelings, and how much THEIR reputation is being hurt. Some anti-choice people call all pro-choice people murderers, and most Men’s Rights activists believe feminism is oppressing men and women are all whores. There are unforgivable comments, always. But I want to start approaching people I disagree with, even if I have reality on my side (see MRM), with less hatred, less mocking (I like sarcasm a bit too much I think), more tolerance and more willingness to listen to their views. I also still want to call out all incidences of sexism, bigotry, homophobia, transphobia, you name it. But I want to have some level of empathy and potential forgiveness for the people making low-grade horrible statements, the soft MRAs, the privileged people who say something offensive and truly don’t know why it was wrong to say. Sometimes the apologies make it easy; sometimes not. Sometimes, as with Tosh, there’s a history that makes it all too clear that their apology is a recognition that bad PR is forming and must be dispersed. When that history or knowledge of a person is lacking, however, I’m starting to see benefits in giving the benefit of doubt.

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Health Care and the Game of Politics

I hate Medicare being discussed as a policy point with no fucking hint that anyone talking about it- politicians, talking heads, news media- realizes human beings use Medicare to seek medical treatment for either a better quallity of life or to literaly stay living when otherwise they would die. I also love how often medical bills are discussed in non-life-threatening terms, as though the choice between treating yourself and having credit to participate in our economy again has no weight and is “just money,” but then again it’s a news culture that can reference the idea of welfare queens as though it’s a construct like postal worker. It’s all about Medicare as a bargaining chip for budgets or votes.

Also, Mitt Romney lying about it. Fuck you. Good luck getting elected! Then please balance the budget on the backs of the elderly, poor, and most enfeebled among us.

It reveals the heart of modern politics in the United States; politics being so removed from the idea of different groups presenting different plans for improving the lives of their countrymen that a presidential candidate can run on repealing a law about healthcare without having ANY replacement for it and get people to vote for him.

This American Life has a great two-part series on the United States’ health care system and how it got this way, and it detailed the failings by the three major groups in health care: doctors, insurers, and us, the patients. It ran during the height of the health care debate before legislation was passed, and the most fascinating part of it was that it’s not just doctors, or us, or health insurers, although there are individuals in each group to blame. It’s all of us as a collective. and there are trends that are happening from each corner to cause the spiraling costs of health care. The piece somehow made me weep for the death of the HMO, which worked wonders for controlling costs but at the expense of patients’ demanded care. A death that coincided with the rise of doctors forming groups to raise prices and compete with insurers’ control as representatives of patients. The series also covers how, often, people demand treatments they don’t really need, and how most people would agree both that other people could get tested less, and that they do not receive too much care. They cite a study that found 33% of all medical testing done in the United States is unnecessary, and also presented a moving story of a doctor standing up to a patient’s father that outlined why giving each patient extraordinary testing is best for everyone involved in any individual case (a trend the doctor bucks), while the rest of the podcast details how everyone getting what they want is the main problem, and, basically, everyone needs to sacrifice. The two pieces ultimately made it abundantly clear that what we needed to reform health care in our country was control and restraints. Mostly of moneyed interests, but also of the groups involved so that people can seek out medical treatments and a country doesn’t come crashing down.

I still weep for the loss of any sort of public option from Obama’s health care reform law. It quickly became evident it just didn’t have a chance in our current political climate. See: the debate afterwards being “Repeal it!” “No, don’t repeal it! Noooo!” instead of any debate about strengthening it to provide for Americans or ways to improve parts of the current legislation (like cost control measures)(perhaps with a public option to compete at set prices?) and why their current iterations fail. It’s insane that for-profit, private insurance companies get to lobby lawmakers who set their regulations. That insanity happens at all levels, but we’re talking health care currently, so that’s the insanity I’ll focus on. I think there can be a place for lobbying in a better government than America has, but someone representing a company would never get to talk to a senator. Ideally, campaign finance reform would be long since completed, and a separate research body would have been set up specifically to research issues before they come up for debate or to perform research on pressing issues before legislation is drafted (fuck, there’s some jobs! Thank me later Washington). Lobbyists could present their data, and then it would be checked for fact and slant (research-wise, by divining if any profits would come to a company if their proposed solution to an issue was implemented if it’s at all unclear from research alone) alongside general research. There is always expertise that comes with working in a field, and there will always be room for that expertise, but experts are always (for now) people, who can be self-interested or motivated to craft a story from selected facts, and politicians (for [hopefully] now) are often not public servants first and are easily led astray by moneyed interests from providing for the public good. Our healthcare law could only occur in this political climate, a climate where reaching out to insurance companies for their ideas on their place in healthcare can be a real thing that really happens, and that should be a national embarassment.

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The most haunting photo of the presidential campaign. Can this be the enduring image of this man who fancies himself president? Grinning after having discussed American deaths with no discussion of the historical context and ethnic deaths that have lead to them?

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Mitt Romney’s Smart. He Also Has No Heart

While facts are still being clarified and confusion cleared in the wake of the attack on the American embassy in Benghazi, Libya, what is clear is that American ambassador Christopher Stevens and three others were killed in the attack. Mitt Romney almost immediately responded, condemning Obama for apologizing to America’s enemies, even though Mitt was responding to a statement made by a not-Obama Cairo embassy member before the attack in Libya even occurred (more information here). In further statements this morning, Romney doubled down on the position, smirking in the middle of comments and leaving the podium smiling (photo posted above).

But this is Mitt Romney. Him leaving a podium grinning after discussing the deaths of Americans who are not millionaires is as representative an image as any of his presidential run. You don’t need to do anymore than set up jokes about Mitt Romney gaffes anymore. “Mitt Romney went to 7/11 today” and you’re good. We’ll all laugh. But this has never quite squared for me. Because Mitt Romney seems…. well, dumb. It’s that plain. It boggles the mind to try to comprehend how he couldn’t see how he comes across to anyone without a trust fund, who isn’t white, Mormon, staunchly Republican. So, something finally clicked today about Mitt Romney and why he seems incapable of making it through the day without showing all us plebes where his place is in the world (thereby alienating anyone not living on a diet of Fox News and Eastwood westerns).

His privilege.

SHOCKER, I know. But it’s almost 100% accurate to say that Mitt Romney could not be more privileged in America. And that almost? The one thing holding him back? Mormonism. Mitt Romney is a Christian by definition, and that holds some hefty privilege as a class. But there’s a reason he is played as a Christian and not a Mormon. The LDS is aware of how we perceive some of their more unorthodox practices. They’re aware of why those practices qualify as unorthodox. They know they need to shape their narrative as one of the least priviliged Christian groups. Catholics can (hopefully not for long) come out and advocate abstinence-only education in Africa and that condoms cause AIDs. Mormons have to deflect when it’s brought to light that they’re baptizing the dead of other religions. And that’s a protective tool, a valuable perspective.

Privileged people often make offensive statements because they don’t see these statements as offensive. That may seem rather DUH, but I think it’s important to realize what that means and what it says about privilege. Privilege is a powerful blind spot that can make you ignorant to a lot of lived experiences of others dissimilar from you. But for the privileged? Their lives probably occur to the same narrative as everyone else’s. We all have problems; that’s just life, right? And it likely seems such a fact of life when they say a statement that is inflammatory by ignoring the experiences of the less privileged, or dripping with the advantages that they are afforded. When a politician running for senate gives his views on how the female body can shut out the semen of rapists, he is likely giving a full account of his scientific knowledge that has been safely coddled away from reality by his privileges. When people react negatively, its likely legitimately confusing, because the statement now being analyzed by the world seemed like such a non-statement. That’s how it works for everyone, right?

When Mitt Romney says he loves firing people, well, of course. How would he begin to interface with the day to day struggles of middle to lower class workers? How would he understand what it’s like to lose a job to them? He understands losing employment, but he will never understand having limited savings, or having to job hunt with few credentials that still fit into a modern economy, with no friends waiting with job opportunities. He was most likely literally surprised to learn gay people have families. Like, actually surprised. It’s literally not part of his world.

For the longest time, I believed George W. Bush to literally be unintelligent. Now, in retrospect and with some personal growth, I view him to most likely be a political opportunist who seized on the persona of a “beer buddy.” But Mitt’s different. Mitt is so steeped in privilege I think he can’t help but keep making gaffes. I believe he’s likely trying his best to get elected president. To appeal to as many voters as he can, despite their race, their gender, or their political views. He’s likely trying his best to make himself the best candidate Romney he can (which I cannot underline enough is still vastly shitty because it’s playing the game of politics).

But. He so truly believes in these privileged narratives that it may be impossible for him to relate to most of the country. He will garner a number of Republican votes from people who hate him but hate Obama more. At the same time, he’ll lose a number of moderate and independent votes form people disillusioned or against Obama, but who can’t help but see that he only serves his upper upper class social strata, because he doesn’t understand well enough to interface with them and make it appear as though he cares about sub-millionaires. I continue to be baffled by how much support polls show for him, but today, I understand a great deal more about Mitt Romney himself, and why I feel such revulsion as he plays politics with the deaths of human beings that belong to the country he hopes to run. He is smart enough to know how to spin this into an attack against Obama but not empathetic enough to realize human beings who care for the lives of people who they don’t personally know will be turned off by rhetoric in the wake of a tragedy. In the land of Oz, Romney’s got the brain. He just doesn’t have the heart.

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Slavery in the Bible and What Defending It Says About Christianity

[Content note: Below, I discuss the immorality of Christianity. While I try to be careful about discussing the institution and not members thereof, it is a discussion of immoral actions advocated by the bible]

I want to start this post out by saying, below, unless otherwise stated, I’m talking about the institution and churches of Christianity and specific Christians who hold beliefs I’m discussing, not all individual human beings who are Christians and members of those churches. Christianity is immoral; most Christians are not. It’s why we have more than one Christian church, it’s why this is an issue, and the morality of people professing to certain beliefs are why there’s so much tumult and controversy. As I personally believe, Christians are better than the god of their Bible.

So. Slavery.

I just recently watched Matt Dillahunty debate Jay Lucas (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SGMrRxRcCOI), and while the debate was to be on whether God exists, they instead focused entirely on morality, with Mr. Lucas, a Christian preacher, debating all morality flows from God, and Mr. Dillahunty, an athiest activist and public speaker, debating that this is not the case and there is no reason to believe it is. While it’s hard to have a good-faith (harrrr) debate when you share two seperate  views of reality, it was a great and informative debate that was good-natured and engaging. The debate format left it too easy for points to remain unrebutted, but I’m not educated on debate formats so I can’t bash too hard.

And then slavery came up.

Around 1h:18m (just before that mark), as they are debating how to decide who is morally right in situations and how to decide on morality, as Lucas is debating the superiority of a creator’s moral decisions over a creation’s, Matt asks, “So a creator would be morally right in torturing somebody?” Lucas doesn’t answer and dodges the question, they discuss the concept of hell (with a surprising confirmation of the line of thought of God sending people to hell that Christians usually dodge in regards to whether Lucas believes Dillahunty is going to hell), and then near 1:19 Matt brings up the bible’s advocation of slavery (more information here). And thus begins the wonderful dance of Christian apologetics with specific regards to slavery. Dillahunty asks (basically) we think slavery is immoral; are we wrong? Lucas asks, “Is slavery immoral?” Yes. “How do you know?” He then agrees slavery is immoral but tries to argue that God doesn’t advocate slavery. He clarifies that the scripture does not advocate slavery; it regulates it (and the crowd goes a little wild). He argues ideals versus reality. Our world is fallen and touched by sin, and the old testament may regulate slavery, but someday it will be eradicated. Matt: “Why wouldn’t God come out against slavery?” Jay: “God says love your neighbor as you would love yourself.” (He also commands thou to shalt not kill someone) Jay: “God is patient, not wanting any to suffer. Some day, ALL of the things that have gone wrong in humanity including slavery will be eradicated.” And so on, and so on. The remaining half hour of the debate revolves around slavery.

If a white supremacist defended slavery based on any of his beliefs in the inferiority of blacks, the conversation would be over there.  He’d be shouted out.  We’d stop listening to a fucking thing he had to say.  We wouldn’t make room for him in our conversation, we wouldn’t just let him talk, we wouldn’t say, “Well, let him explain his views.”  When a white supremacist starts to justify his language on slavery, or the idea that it isn’t immoral, or just the way it was, or ANYTHING reducing the immorality of slavery, most rational people are done with him. It’s a mark of our progress on racial issues (although racism’s in no way dead).

On the flip side, when a Christian starts trying to quantify slavery, or saying God has bigger plans, or that it was just rules for people who had a different culture, stop. Just please stop that line of thinking when you realize you’re in it and expounding on it.  You can’t say God is this awesome being who morality and goodness flow from and then say he wouldn’t take a firm stand against owning people and subjugating their will and mental health to your own.

Do proponents of Southern Pride get a free pass in defending slavery? And in thinking about that instance, I’m reminded that even they don’t touch the slavery portion of The Civil War. They don’t try to explain away slavery, or couch it in other terms, or change the viewpoint on slavery, or say, “Yeah, okay, that was bad, BUT…” They’re smart enough to not even touch it and start talking about freedoms and ideals and disagreements that have NOTHING to do with owning people as property. And there are Christians who can’t even say they’re that evolved on this argument. At the point that you’re softening, or even defending, slavery, you should both not be able to view all of the Bible as the infallible word of God (and you should probably throw the whole shitty book out and find a better basis for your faith) and you should question if these beliefs, stemming from such a flawed source, aren’t flawed themselves.

[Content Note: My discussion of my belief (my specific belief that I hold) that Christianity is false, and why the Christian God is immoral]

And that’s not saying anything to the elephant in the room.  I personally don’t believe in the Christian God. I believe it’s just another religion, and that we have evidence of the evolution of certain oral traditions and previous religious archetypes that led into its stories. I believe Christianity co-opted Pagan religions, and that’s a show of the humans behind it and also attacks the idea that it exposes truth about the universe or supports the truth of a creator being.  I believe human beings are story tellers, and there’s a lot of use (a ton of it bad, even in the modern era) in the stories religion tells for humans. But say I’m wrong, and Christianity is correct, and God is the one true god and the Bible gives an accurate if incomplete image of him.  I think there’s enough evidence to say that we aren’t misunderstanding some grander plan or imperative, or just need that one more piece to understand the support of genocide, slavery, misogyny, special mention for ethnic cleansing, human sacrifice, and everything else the bible ranges from not condemning to outright advocating that no moral being could condone, or explain, or show you another side of, or argue for.  If this is the true nature of God, this God is worth opposing, and trying to take down on the merits of his nature, even in the face of annihilation.  God can’t be viewed as a moral being we should all fall in line with, although the Mob Boss analogy is always apt, and this view of a creator certainly just paints him as the biggest bully we could ever imagine to keep people in line.  If he was real and not a character in a book, there’s still a ton of problems and he is still an immoral being/entity.  I just believe he doesn’t exist, and the moral failings in Christianity are the long and storied history of the moral failings of certain human beings for 2,000 years that gets defended by people today, some with moral failings who want to keep this way of holding power over people, some who have ideas about their beliefs they hadn’t challenged and that are wrong (Butbutbut God’s great!) And we support it by our inaction and social rules, and we shouldn’t be afraid, EVER, to challenge those.  It should be easiest here, in the case of the Bible’s slavery language, to say, “Woah, wait. You support slavery? In any case?” Explaining it as God’s plan still supports slavery occuring, and not in the way that we accept suffering as a reality of life (which forces a whole other can of worms through the fabric of “God’s plan”), because the Bible never gives rules to how to handle children starving to death.

Not to blame anyone but those individual humans responsible for the continued evils of Christianity. When a Catholic priest molests a child, in any discussion of Christianity and what cues in it could have been helped lead to the priest’s actions, it’s so ultimately important to blame the pedophile who took those actions, however he justified them, and however they may have been supported by his holy book. I’m more concerned about the social cues surrounding this, in the same way I’m concerned about the societal support of rape that leads to rape culture but wouldn’t accuse most people who support rape culture of directly supporting acts of rape. And in discussing slavery, we have a specific example of the ills that religion can lead to.

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How to Train Your Dragon: Why I Loved Astrid Enough to Hate Where She’s Going

How to Train Your Dragon – Gift of the Night Fury


After a day of lazing around and watching Disney songs on Youtube ten times each, I found How to Train Your Dragon – Gift of the Night Fury. And it made me excited.  I still get excited when I think about the first movie, and I have a special heart flutter when I think about the sequel that’s been promised that doesn’t seem to have any reason to NOT be produced.  How to Train Your Dragon is tied (cop-out!) with Wall-E and Iron Giant  as my favorite animated feature, and its soundtrack is one of my absolute favorite works of music. I will still put the movie on and just listen to it as background noise. So it was fuckin’ grand to see this 20-minute animated short be so great.  Instead of terrible.


The short basically revolves around viking Christmas in the wake of the first movie’s events. It’s the first Notlookingupthelovablyweirdholidayname with dragons. Hiccup takes Toothless out for a flight, practicing new flying techniques where they separate and Hiccup lives Newton’s first law before reconnecting.  Everyone in Berk is jovial and excited for the festivities, until a wave of dragons flies overhead (which is a brilliant way of showing, not telling, that there are other non-Berk dragons out there) and every dragon in town save Toothless suddenly joins them. Hiccup literally runs into the cloud of dragons on the way home, losing his helmet in the process.  The teen group, unchanged from the first feature film, discusses the events on their own after a town hall about the sudden dragon dispatch and, after mulling over Ruffnut’s point about Toothless not being able to leave without Hiccup, he makes a new tail attachment that moves with Hiccup’s remaining tail-half. After presenting it to him, Toothless immediately takes off.  Fishlegs acts really weird until Toothless follows him and discovers he chained his dragon Meatlug up, and, getting excited, Meatlug breaks out and flies off with Hiccup on his face. The Hiccup-less teens find eggs (and that Meatlug was a female) and conclude the dragons left to give birth at the same time Hiccup lands on the breeding isle. Both groups also seperately discover that Gronkle eggs explode when they hatch, although the teen group finds this out after hiding the eggs as surprises in everyone’s home, destroying most of the town. Hiccup gets the dragons and fresh dragon babies back to town sans Toothless, who was missing, and it’s a time of superjoy viking Christmas again! Hiccup and Astrid have a brief moment where Astrid comforts him in light of not finding Toothless, but then Toothless returns mid-convo with Hiccup’s helmet! And spits it onto his head! The rest of the short’s plot wrapped up, Hiccup and Toothless have a touching scene where Toothless grabs the old saddle and tail attachment and pushes Hiccup to reattach the tail that needs his partner in place of the new, automatic one. Movie ends as they fly back out over the sea and Hiccup gives an ending narration.


And one of the best parts was the running time and how well the story fit. Before credits the movie ran at 21 minutes, and the story felt as though it fit comfortably, getting out everything it needed to say and develop while not having any filler or padding.  I will admit this is the second media I’ve seen in the Dragons universe, and, again despite the shortness of the feature, it felt like growth on the back of the first film, possibly in preparation for the sequel in 2014. It didn’t feel like the “How to Train Your Dragon CHRISTMAS SPECIAL!!!!!” It felt like a story in-universe that grows Hiccup and Toothless while also showing the new dynamic in Berk now that there are dragons.  I am bad at divining this sort of thing, but it also sounds like they retained 100% voice talent.  A lot of this is just beating straight-to-DVD Disney sequel qualities that seem to show up in a lot of those “films.” In a lot of ways, Gift of the Night Fury feels like it could have been 20 more minutes in the first movie, which I feel is a mark of success.  This feels like a bona fide sequel, albeit a short one that presumes you’ve watched the first movie or browsed a plot summary.  This feature does a lot right.

Before moving on to my main problem with this film and the first film (and another con), two more pros. This short shows Hiccup becoming a better dragon rider perfectly. At the outset, he jumps off Toothless’ back as Toothless flies under a rock arch and Hiccup “flies” over it, then reconnecting with Toothless. He cheers and says “Yes! Finally!”  Perfect example of how well this movie uses its runtime. Little bit of cool dragon riding, but also speaks to training they’ve been doing by showing us a moment of payoff and having Hiccup say two words, and shows that Hiccup is continuing to master dragon riding in a true sense of the word “master.” It’s a great example of showing, not telling, which this movie does right a lot, and also great, quick character development. Even though it isn’t set up in the movie, the just-before-final-scene scene with Toothless selecting his own tail is also wonderful show-don’t-tell and character development.  Hiccup is confused at first, stating Toothless now has a working tail before coming around to, “Oh, you want the one that makes us linked.” It’s not the resolution to a conflict between them, as it feels it could have been, but also works wonderfully as a relationship moment between Toothless and Hiccup.  This movie is great at setting up what’s been happening since movie 1, while also giving hints and opportunities of where we might be going as we go further.

I really, really love this movie franchise (well, these two pieces I’ve seen. IMDB is saying there’s a whole bunch of other shit in the works). However. There is one thread that bums me out way too much that is in both movies, and Gift of the Night Fury exacerbates it in a baaaad way. Astrid.  Which I hate, because for the first hour and change of How to Train Your Dragon, Astrid’s actually pretty great.  The whole group of teenagers save Hiccup rely on children’s films stereotypes, really.  The fighting siblings.  The over-confident jock trying to impress the girl.  The nerd.  What made Astrid great was that she wasn’t any stereotypically female stereotype. She was the young, headstrong fighter looking to prove her worth. She could have worked easily as a main protagonist, and follows in a long line of this archetype. She’s a bit brash, a bit overconfident, and too focused on success. And Hiccup, a worthless competitor before his miraculous turnaround suddenly overshadowing her, would have been perfect if predictable character growth. She learns to appreciate her own merits independent of gaining success, or learns to be a graceful first runner-up. It seemed to be following an archetype, but one usually reserved for the male protagonists of these stories, and while it was still Hiccup’s story, Astrid had a strong place in it. Then you get to Hiccup’s final test in dragon training, and she suddenly regresses into being Hiccup’s girlfriend. I’m going to pin it there, although this process starts the second she’s riding on Toothless’ back. After that, this is Hiccup’s show. Astrid gets to play an active role, but in Hiccup’s story. She’s prompting Hiccup, but she’s prompting him to make decisions without much input from her after the push to decide. She drives Hiccup over to his dragon so he/they can defeat the big bad, and then she needs saving herself! By Hiccup/Toothless. It still bums me out when Hiccup flies off valiantly to fight the Red Death and Astrid looks on, almost tearfully and says “Go.” Yech.

The main reason this disappoints me so much is because Astrid so uniquely is failed by characterization in a movie that, besides for Hiccup and Stoick, fails EVERY character in that category. Hiccup grows and finds strength in his unique qualities, and Stoick learns to appreciate his son for who he is, which is almost more a mirror to Hiccup’s growth than unique growth for Stoick, but I count it. But, save Astrid, none of the teenagers grow. The twins fight during the final fight scene, and apparently bond with a dragon whose heads argue, reinforcing their character flaw that, in a movie that grew the twins, would have been worked out a bit. Snotlout is unchanged, although he doesn’t get the girl, which leaves a few possibilities for sequels to explore (none explored here). And Fishlegs is actually a victim of one of the wonderful aspects of Berk imbued by the writers. In any other number of kids movies, both Hiccup and Fishlegs would be ostracized from the teen group for being brainy, but the movie doesn’t attack Fishlegs’ nerdy knowledge base about dragons or Hiccup’s scientific curiosity and ingenuity. Hiccup is seen as worthless because his plans and inventions often backfire and serve no practical use, not because he’s reading and creating in the first place. Likewise, Fishlegs is often shut down by the non-Astrid teens before Hiccup joins the group, but mostly because they’re just not interested personally in his stats. He’s still very much a part of the group from the getgo. So, he gets no arc, same as Gobber, who is a teacher, best friend, and comic relief as the movie needs him in those roles. So Astrid’s regression as a character, especially as the movie could have made her one of the few to grow, is just shitty shitty shitty. Not surprising, and not movie-ruining, but it makes that “Go.” always feel so low a point in the film.

So. Astrid. She ends the first film as Hiccup’s girlfriend, and there’s two brief moments of that in Gift of the Night Fury, but mostly she gets to breath as her own character, as leader de facto while Hiccup’s away. And, somehow, the movie manages to make her backslide even further away from being a compelling character. When the teens find the Gronkel eggs, it is her idea to disperse them as viking Christmas surprises, and when the eggs hatching destroys half the town, Stoick and everyone (including her!) comes down on her, putting her basically where Stoick started in the first film, even if it’s just for a minute then forgotten about as the plot moves forward. She is also determined to keep holiday cheer up between the dragons leaving and returning, and she does this by making Yak Nog. The feature plays it for laughs (because Yak Nog’s gross as shit, damn), and I’m worried I’m overreacting to things that aren’t there, but relegating Astrid to uplifting everyone’s emotions in the village, then having her primary plan for cheer (before Gronkel Eggstravaganza) being cooking-based… I guess I’d have rather seen her sleuthing, trying to discover why the dragons left and where they went. Or even just have the whole group do that, with her as part of the group. It’s ultimately the action between dragons leave and Hiccup gets carried away/ group finds eggs.  These are her primary story events, but her character here also seems less confident. When the eggs blow up, she’s panicked, at a loss for words when questioned by Stoick, and, for being taken by surprise as much as anyone else, seems like she’s blaming herself before Stoick ever does. It’s such an odd choice given that, again, this film only moves along the characterization of Hiccup and Toothless. Second-to-last scene develops Toothless as a character, so why the fuck does Astrid get to slide on backwards towards being useless without her man around? (I’m really worried about what her plot will be in How to Train Your Dragon 2)

The other huge con is the music. I’ve talked enough with Astrid-chat above, so I’ll make it quick: I still listen to the original OST. Gift of the Night Fury reuses it and has no new music as far as I could tell, which, honestly, I’d probably love if the film didn’t so horribly misuse the score. Familiar themes are dropped in haphazardly, quickly and jarringly and ending much the same. The choice of what to use where fails a lot too. Hiccup’s talking to Toothless for a second while not much is going on? Time to use the theme from the stick drawing scene in How to Train Your Dragon! It’s just so unbelievably bad for how well the rest of the film is done.

Given all of that, I love  Gift of the Night Fury as much as I still love How to Train Your Dragon. It feels like the same film in a great way. Same problems, same strengths, same opening and ending Hiccup narration. Same feelings. Save for the fucking score.

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So Did You Guys Know Penii Totally Aren’t Cool

to shove into people’s hands. Because at least one dude wasn’t aware.

[TW: Discussion of rape, rape culture, sexual assault]

Almost a full day on from the original blog post, it’s probably safe to say you’ve been inundated with news about the incident of a woman at a post-PAX party having her personal space and wishes violated that lead to direct sexual assault, with security shrugging the incident off. The initial blog post by the victim (http://www.explodedsoda.com/2012/09/boundaries-and-penis-incident.html?spref=tw) is very concise, and the author, Ky (@explodedsoda), has been the best person about everything, handling all facets of the assault, including reporting it to security and then to the Internet at large, with 20 tons of grace. Seriously, she is the best person.

But one detail that came to light post-posting was that Mojang, the company responsible for the event, had hired women to be at the event and engage with the men in attendance, to be fun and, as at least one report had it, “flirty.” Given the events we’re discussing and the culture that leads to them, I’m remiss to say they were hired to flirt until I can find something official on that, and I couldn’t with my level of Googling. But there were apparently women there hired to talk to men, which is problematic all on its own, but discussing that aspect now? Also problematic.

Ky has updated the blog post in the wake of Internet coverage to clarify that PAX had nothing to do with the event and that Mojang had nothing to do with the sexual assault, which I couldn’t agree with more (again, 20 tons), urging focus to remain on the criminal who assaulted her. It’s dramatically important to distinguish between blame and forces, and it just may not be the time to attack Mojang’s policy of hiring “Floor Babes.”

This seperation strikes me as a clone of the rape vs. rape culture seperation; people can support rape culture and still NEVER be in ANY WAY responsible for or DIRECTLY supporting of the act of rape. Rape culture supports rape, but anyone who laughs at a sexist TV ad or comedian, inadvertently or otherwise, is only supporting the culture and does not support the physical act of rape, so they do remain blameless when someone is raped by a rapist, even if they don’t care about rape culture (that would make them an asshole, not a rape supporter). This is a tremendously difficult issue to broach, because, in a way, drawing that distinction only draws it for blame and does leave a connection between rapists and ordinary people who support rape culture. But I think it’s vastly important to still say, someone who supports rape culture does not support rapists. And Mojang, in hiring women to be accessible for men’s pleasure and entertainment, supported a certain atmosphere at their event, but I agree with Ky that they remain blameless for the sexual assault. The only one to blame is the man who assaulted a woman. That’s it for me; it’s that simple.

Going forward, there is definitely a discussion to be had about the practice of hiring “Floor Babes” for events. There were literally women at an event being paid to interact with men in a fun way that, to many who are most at risk to see women as only exisitng for their sexual pleasure, will be seen as flirting. It helps assholes (not all men, assholes) to view ALL girls at the event as being there for them, not because they’re into videogames, or PAX, or the specific event, or having a good time with friends, or meeting new people non-sexually, and potentially not you. Always up for a conversation, and attention. BUT. That in no way makes Mojang or any of the women who take that job responsible in ANY WAY for what a man might do based on the narrative in his head, and it certainly doesn’t make Mojang or those women responsible for what happened to Ky. They have 0 culpability. I also worry that having this discussion now, while we are still discussing what occured, is harmful. I think it’s most important to discuss the safety of women at events, in gaming culture and elsewhere, and why it can’t be taken for granted as it can for men. From Ky’s post: “This is more common than people think and could happen to anyone you love, anywhere, anytime, in any community. A girl should be able to go and sit alone at a party and not be bothered, or go where they want and dress how they want and not be treated like that.”

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Men’s Rights Movement Can’t Argue A New Reality Into Existence

I’ve always held the idea that politics would be an intellectual game to end all thought games, putting chess on the scale of watching ants try to find a rat carcass for three hours, if it just didn’t play out in reality with actual people’s lives and welfare. Knowing someone subverting the law to lower environmental regulations can kill children before birth takes any fun out of their mental accomplishments in figuring out those loopholes. And there’s always been that same perverse sort of fun yet horror in following political lies, because they’ve usually been half-lies based in perverting some sort truth, not out-and-out lying about reality. Mis-using a statistic, or framing a debate, not saying “We are the presidential ticket that will save Medicare from that evil socialist chair!” So it’s been (more than usually) depressing to watch RNC coverage as Republicans seem to be turning a corner into out and out lying. But they’re joining a pretty big group of truth deniers, (Transition!)including the Men’s Rights Movement.

Because that’s the state of things with Men’s Rights Activists exemplified by sites like http://www.the-niceguy.com/ who bravely take a stand against all (well, just most) women from The West: they hold that feminism, as an entire, unified movement, is not fighting for gender equality, to raise women up to stand equal with men and fight the institutionalized misogyny that holds women from being viewed as equals and sometimes as humans at all, but rather as a movement that already achieved all that and now hold MEN down and has instilled a matriarchy that oppresses men! And there’s basically no point in arguing hardline MRAs; they revel in violence towards women and an attitude that holds being called a creep as far more character destroying than actually raping a girl. But there’s also a softer side to the MRM, and these MRAs become poisoned by the hate well that is the greater movement. They’ll argue from logic, and ask that we all stay civil, and quote sources and want to talk facts, and still hold that most feminists are hateful, or evil, or shrill, or maybe a gendered critique of feminism, and that rape is actually overreported, and quote websites that are full of the hard-liners forgiving Anders Behring Breivik and gleefully calling women gendered slurs and insinuating child prostitutes were culpable for turning men horny that were good and pure.

Feminism is, of course, up for debate! Feminists can do wrong and be wrong, and have incorrect ideas. Feminism doesn’t get to be untouchable just because it’s attacking institutions in society and is automatically the underdog. But it’s important to remember that what a feminist says doesn’t automatically speak for EVERYONE ELSE that identifies as a feminist and mean they believe it. If you ever catch a MRA addressing something based in reality, it’ll be something someone said, or maybe a group, and then they’ll attribute it to all feminists. Although usually they’re attacking the mythical many-headed hydra that is the feminist bloc.

Attacking Feminism by attacking this Saturday Morning Cartoon Evil Organization you’re calling Feminism does affect the efforts of the actual feminist movement by painting it as evil, as having already succeeded so no need for further reforms, as actually having demolished the patriarchy, and also in its place having set up a matriarchy. But now we’re transitioning to your misogyny towards women; men are the truly disenfranchised gender, women hold all the power, feminist women run the governments and keep enacting laws making it harder for good, honest (lol) men to live their lives! It sets the experiences of women up as false, wrong, and counter to reality, and helps marginalize women and their experiences. It is misogyny.  There are people still who defend tribal society’s protection of women above men as women being in a position of power, and it holds a lot of depressing similarities and skipped-over realities to the situation today. So too with the assertion that there is no rape culture, but there is most definitely a false rape culture! It’s running counter to reality by saying that all the facets of reality surrounding reporting rape are actually false and their opposites are true. That rape is so easy to report and rape convictions are so easily sought and obtained that, rather than fight for women (and men’s!) voices to be heard when they report rape, to be supported and listened to and not dismissed out of hand and questioned and qualified, we need to fight AGAINST women and their ease of reporting that is ruining men’s lives!

One interesting spot of this can be seen in child custody laws. Here the Men’s Right’s Movement don’t stand completely counter to reality; in a general sense, women have the institutionalized priviledge compared to men. A mother’s choices are often respected more than a father’s for the care and parental raising of a child. The problem is when Men’s Rights Activists tie addressing this issue into a larger packet that attacks Feminism and the idea of the patriarchy, because Feminism addresses these issues too. Women have gained control not as women, but as mothers, and the idea of women as only mothers, only useful when being mothers, and only worth listening to when making decisions for the future of a child they bore is an idea born straight of the patriarchy. If we correct that, child custody no longer becomes all about a mother’s choice and can be reformed to be viewed as a decision between parents who are splitting and focus on their wishes, their involvement, and what is best for the child. But attacking feminism and their role in gender equality while maintaining the solution is to lessen mother’s rights leaves women behind in these discussions and helps leave women behind in society.

It shows a level of misogyny to come in to a conversation about an issue effecting women and argue that we need to think of the men too (which, again, leaves out the MRA who will insist women don’t have issues and have too much already and ALL the power) because it takes away from the conversation about the issue women are facing. It should always be welcome to have a voice that argues. “Hey, couldn’t agree more, this issue is a problem, but men also face this issue.” Rape is just such a subject; in fighting the view of rape victims as a subject of comedy, I want male rape victims to be viewed in the same sobering light. But it should never be welcome to have a voice arguing, “Well have you thought about how this issue affects men? HUH? Why are we even arguing women’s issues with this. The law’s on your side!”

Men’s Rights greatest crime is barging in to any conversation as though women have no issues, but it would be unfair to say that men face no issues. We will all always have problems. But men do have privilege, so to maintain that any man’s issue’s correction takes precedent over or is equal to any movement to destroy part of the patriarchy is a false equivalence. Men don’t face institutionalized oppression of their voices, their bodies, or their rights (No, I’m not characterizing child custody laws as oppression).


Also, there’s another issue that the MRM has with discussions around women’s issues: your exclusion from conversations doesn’t mean your rights and value are being forgotten. From http://www.avoiceformen.com/mens-rights/a-funny-thing-just-happened-to-the-mrm/ (fuck): “The Mens Movement stands in direct opposition to Gynocentric thinking, and is unapologetic in asserting men have intrinsic value as human beings.” When women fight to be heard and seen as human beings with intrinsic values, and you don’t hear calls for men to be viewed the same way, it’s not gender discrimination. Men have always had intrinsic human value (as long as they were white and not too poor!) Men never had to win the right to vote. That doesn’t mean they need an amendment to enshrine the right to vote in the constitution, because that is a right that was never dneied to them. Rights that do not specify a particular gender or race are not typically denied to men, so there’s never any need for a fight.  And to qualify that fuck, that quote was the third point in some potential planks for the MRM. Number one? “The Mens Movement stands in opposition to Identity Politics, Political Correctness, and other forms of ‘social engineering’. In short, the Mens Movement is basically a Rebellion against our ‘moral betters’.” Remember, if someone’s being “PC,” they’re just whining. Probably not even offended, just want attention. Stand up for your free speech!

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