Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Of Dogs And Men

It occurs to me that I like dudes the way I like dogs: they're cute and make me laugh, but at the end of the day they smell kind of gross and just need too damn much attention. Also there's always that thing in the back of my mind where I'm afraid they might bite my arm off.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

The Pearl-Handled Ladies' Revolver

The title refers to the stereotypical idea of the sort of gun a "lady" carries in her purse. Which of course is a bag that snaps shut at the top and is carried on the wrist via a short handle, and also contains her powder compact and her "pin money." More visuals: she is attired in a smart suit of pastel material, is discreetly made up (pink or coral lipstick, never red), pumps and hose, her hair is perfectly coiffed, and she wears white gloves and a hat when out of doors. And of course she is white.

Do you get this picture? I swear this is the figure conservatives envision when they talk about how women should all be trained to carry guns to "defend themselves in case of attack." Okay, maybe the NASCAR contingent sees a blue-jeans-clad beauty (who is also slender, young, athletic, and wears her hair long and loose... and of course she's white) with a shotgun slung over her shoulder. But anyway.

This argument, that the proper way to prevent rape is to arm all women, is just so cute. It implies that using a gun ain't no thing, that shooting another human being ain't no thing, that you should just be able to "do it" the way people have to put on clothes to go outside. "It's that simple!" chortle the dudes, half of whom have never picked up a gun in their lives. "If women want to be equal they should do what we do, carry a gun!" crow the males, one-quarter of whom couldn't hit the side of a barn door with a cannon.

There are so many flaws to that argument, I'm tempted to just sweep them all away with "you're all idiots." But that wouldn't be helpful, would it. I'm here to help. Let's review some things. First of all, let's look at the idea of wounding/killing another human being. That's what "shoot your rapist" means. Of course, I believe all rapists should be shot. Gosh that might mean we'd be rather short of men... trying to see the downside of that... trying... Sorry, sorry, got caught up in a "moment." Anyway, look. There's a reason we put army recruits through horrible, dehumanizing training. Despite the best efforts of our society human beings aren't "natural born killers" -- they need to be conditioned. I'll just mention I'm not going to argue with idiots who think otherwise: in this case the "you're all idiots" generalization will apply. Anyway, people can't just kill "just like that" and especially women, who are conditioned in this society to be quiet, yielding, submissive, and to put up with men's shit at all times.

But I know what this game is. I know. It goes like this: men don't want to take responsibility for controlling their penises, as usual anything to do with emotions is fobbed off on women. This is how a rapist can say a helpless woman who was nowhere near strong enough to make him do anything "made him" attack her by merely existing in a female form. Women are given the responsibility of controlling the emotional responses of everyone on earth, while men go on their merry way saying "Nope, not me." This is how they get away with shit, and women have let them do that because being told you can control men with superpower mind controls is a kind of power. Even if it's not a real one.

Telling women they need to carry a gun is another way of giving us this false power. It's actually just another responsibility. Because now we not only have to take time out of our lives to make sure we don't look "provocative" in our dress or manner, we also have to make sure we add yet another thing to the already heavy bag of stuff we carry (and we need it all: the phone to call the police who won't get there in time, the mace to enrage our attacker so he beats us half to death, the money to assuage his rage just a bit, maybe...) -- this time a gun, which will also cost a pretty penny (a decent handgun costs hundreds of dollars; look it the fuck up -- and then there are bullets, which also are not cheap) -- we have to go to gun classes to learn how to shoot the thing, we have to pay for a license, and then we have to maybe one day shoot a person, or maybe we'll just get overpowered and have our gun taken away and be shot to death. And added to all this will be the idea that if we don't do all this crap, it will be OUR FAULT, the way it is now OUR FAULT, the way it's always OUR FAULT, that we got attacked.

Fuck you, gun people. I have no intention of playing your game. I have no money for this shit -- the gun, the classes, the licenses, the ammo, ALL COST MONEY -- and furthermore I have no intention of taking any of MY VALUABLE TIME out of my day to learn to use a gun. You know, if guns are your thing, fine. They aren't mine. They don't interest me. I don't want to kill anyone (except maybe some of the smug Joes who push this shit). I pay taxes. Some of those taxes go towards laws and police. It's their job to protect me. Either do your jobs, or get the fuck out.

And men, your emotions and reactions to the world around you are not my problem. Control your penises. Teach your sons to control theirs. I'm not your mommy. No woman is -- even your mommy isn't supposed to run your life 24/7. Use some of that manly manhood and DO IT YOURSELF.

The people who really matter

Content warning: quotes the Daily Mail.

I had somehow missed this phrase of Richard Littlejohn's in his blustering polemic against Lucy Meadows, a transwoman teacher in the UK who died recently -- allegedly as a result of the press hounding of which Littlejohn's spew was a part. Anyway, the phrase was this:
"But has anyone stopped for a moment to think of the devastating effect all this is having on those who really matter?"
Oh man. "Those who really matter" are, of course, the Children™, a tool regularly pulled out in arguments by conservatives and liberals alike. By no means, however, are the needs of actual, real children considered -- such as the students of Ms. Meadows who now have to live with the fact that because they live in a society* where transphobia is rampant and whose media consider it no more than another ploy to get eyeballs and advertising dollars to mock and hound a transwoman to her death.

I hate, hate, hate the "what about the CHILDRENNNN???!!!" nonsense because not only do most adults who use it don't really believe the actual child matters -- it's only the adults' ideal of "childhood" they're concerned about, as well as the face-saving status game of being someone who Cares About The Kids -- as an argumentative tactic it's not about solving any problem, it's just about shutting up the opposition. Don't like someone's position on something? Trumpet "Well, YOU clearly DON'T CARE about the Children™!" Sit back in smug triumph as your opponent splutters, because in this setup the only response is "Do too!" and there is no way of not making that sound like a weak rejoinder according to the ways of Western-style debate.

The Children™ are used to shut people up, to let everyone know that the status quo will continue unchanged. It has nothing to do with real children.

Now let's move on to the other part of that phrase that is also a lie: "that REALLY matter." (Caps mine.) Oh I love it when white conservative Western males try to pretend they're sacrificing themselves for the little ones. "I don't really matter, I'm just a useless grown up, here, kill me and dine on my corpse, kids!" Does anyone believe for one minute that Richard Littlejohn, or anyone who pulls out this sobsister phrase, really believes it? "I don't matter! I'm just thinking about the kids!" the man sobs, then he presses "send," shuts off the computer, and goes to enjoy another childfree afternoon at the pub or golf course. I see you, Men Who Care About The Kids. I've got your number.

The idea that adults are just useless husks, their concerns to be considered secondary in favor of children, or infants, or in some circles, zygotes and fetuses, is horrible, but not because anyone who expresses it actually believes it, but because it's a pretty good technique for controlling the underclasses. Poor people who ask for help from their own rich society's government instead of starving quietly in their hovels "don't care about their children." Women who want control over their own bodies instead of being potential baby-making machines "hate children." Trans* people are "selfish" and "freaks" who will "traumatize" the "children" because they'll "confuse" them by living their own lives. As for the children, they'll learn the lesson that having to conform to someone else's idea of how you should live doesn't end when you become a grown-up.

*Even though this occurred in the UK, I consider that in instances like these "society" encompasses Western society, which of course includes that of my own country, the USA.

Friday, March 01, 2013

Why we should never forgive The Onion, ever

I have been thinking about something. I've been thinking about the Oscars. About this year's Oscars. See, I don't watch The Oscars or any other award show. I don't have television (I have a television, but I'm not hooked up to cable or network and I don't subscribe to any internet tv service, so except for the occasional glimpse via Youtube or some other website I don't watch television), and in any case I don't care about these displays of rich, powerful people mostly congratulating themselves for being rich, powerful, and upholding the status quo that keeps them that way.

But since I do have internet, I can't avoid hearing things. And since I've been spending a lot of time on Twitter, I keep sort of in touch with what goes on in the fake "real world" of the newsertainment media and its fans. So I found out about 1) this year's "fun" final dropping of the mask that was the Oscar show as hosted by Seth MacFarlane, and 2) saw the Onion's tweet (re-tweeted by many before the Onion's staff could delete it) that called Quvenzhan√© Wallis, a nine-year-old African-American actress, the c-word as some sort of clumsy "ironic satire parody" of the misogynist racist something something you know what, intent doesn't matter. They said it, it was stupid, cruel, racist, misogynist, really fucking creepy when you come right down to it because treatment of women and girls and children of color as sexual objects is not a thing of the distant past here in the USA.

But anyway, the Onion issued an apology, and it was a very proper apology, and said all the right things, and was not at all the sort of passive-aggressive "I'm sorry YOU'RE offended" sort of thing I've become used to seeing issue from white-male-dominated organizations that are caught being dipshits. No really, it was a very proper apology, I'm not being sarcastic here. The question is what to do now. Should we forgive them and give them a second chance?

I say no.

Why should we. What do they do that is so important and vital. It's not like the Onion is the fucking Romans, bringing roads and running water to the provinces. They're a humor website. We can live without them.

I'd like to take a moment to go off on a tangent about the current attitude towards comedy, humor, that sort of thing, in American society. (And probably Canadian and British too, possibly Australian... I don't know, American is the only society I am qualified to speak upon.) Anyway, we have come to place much more importance on humor than that facet of human existence warrants. We used to rather admire people who were "serious" and look a bit down on jokesters, but that all changed some time ago and it snowballed until now that's all been reversed, and to be accused of having "no sense of humor" has become one of the ultimate social crimes, making you unworthy of human companionship. Personally, I think as the litany of crimes we as a country have committed in history grows longer the need to "laugh it all off" grows stronger. One day we won't be able to drown out the screams of the tortured... Anyway, whatever, I'm a misanthrope, I refuse to laugh at things that aren't funny just because everyone else is and oh dear they'll think I'm a humorless scold. Hell, I'll have t-shirts made: "Humorless Scold 2013 -- the Tour." Coming soon to a city near you.

Back to the main topic. Why should I forgive the Onion and give them a second chance, never mind any other whitecismale org that gets caught being shitty and has to grovel? Because I am sick of these people, and their certainty -- their entitlement -- to an "aw shucks I'm not mad at you any more" from the whole fucking world. I'm mad and I'm going to stay mad. This is why:

Women who are not "good girls" are not forgiven. They're called "sluts" and "whores."

Women who are "good girls" are not forgiven either. (Because they won't "put out" for men.)

Gay people are not forgiven. They are still horribly killed and called names and treated like pariahs and told they should just stop living that "lifestyle."

Trans* people are not forgiven. They're told that they are mentally ill, or scamming, and called names, and horribly killed, and treated like pariahs, and mocked in media, and their preferred gender is ignored, and they're told to "stop being that way."

Poor people are not forgiven. They're called parasites and losers, drains on society, their children potential criminals, looked down on, called names, jerked around by the government, patronized by institutions that are supposed to help them, treated like collateral damage in the "war on poverty," deluded into thinking they deserve to be poor because no one wears fucking boots with straps any more.

Sick people are not forgiven. They are called weak and commanded to "feel better" even when that isn't possible, except with the help of strong painkillers that are difficult to obtain because people who need drugs are not forgiven.

People with disabilities are not forgiven. Able people roll their eyes and sigh and complain that the new handicapped ramp ruins the front of the office building and that it's not fair that the closest parking spots are reserved for them.

Mentally ill people are not forgiven. They're called scary and weird and difficult and insert superstitious fear that someone from the Middle Ages would side-eye and locked up and drugged if lucky and jailed and abused if not.

Non-white people are not forgiven. Ever.

Especially African-Americans, because how dare they be there a permanent reminder that our country was built on slavery and the kidnapping and carting away of people from across the sea just to toil to their deaths to make white people rich. How very dare they. But worse, how very dare they try to be confident, and assured, and act like they're people on their own terms instead of on the terms of the descendants and look-alikes of the people who kidnapped their ancestors. That must be crushed!

All of these things that people are not forgiven for are 1) not things they have any control over (no, women don't have any control over whether they are seen as "good" or not and not that that matters, as I said, and so on), and 2) THINGS THAT ARE NOT WRONG. There's nothing wrong with being female, poor, gay, trans*, sick, non-white. But for some reason, we have to keep giving infinity chances to rich white dudes and their little schemes because they say "sorry" and give the puppy eyes and make a joke that isn't offensive, or else space and time will explode or something. Haha, thanks for the laugh, I accept your apology, you're still dead to me, enjoy space and time exploding your ass. No love, Andrea.

Test from new phone ap

This is a test. Trying out the Blogger Android ap.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Steampunk, People of Color, Imperialism: An Observation

In reading this (warning, you may have to increase your browser resolution due to the tiny, tiny font) I came across mention of the standard criticism of steampunk, which is that it glorified the British Victorian period and imperialism and is, therefore, a defunct genre that should be abandoned. But as the post linked above points out, lots of non-white, non-Western people who are no way inclined to glorify the British Empire (mainly because said Empire did untold damage to most of the non-white, non-Western people on Earth, damage the effects of which are felt to this day), are fans of steampunk. And with good reason: Europe isn't the only place where people were innovative and made mechanical things. There's no reason for there not to be, say, a Chinese civilization with steam-powered mechanisms in a fantasy novel. Or if it's the European dress and design of the era you are into, there's no reason for a "Victorian"-inspired civilization that didn't consist of white people throwing their weight around all over the world, but was... different. I mean, it's fantasy. Brass goggles, steam-powered airships, and corsets don't cause imperialism. Imperialists do.


Sigh. Why do I even think I can write? Now here's a story. That's what fantasy should be like. It's a bit Tanith Lee, a bit Dunsany, only better. (See what I mean by "can I even write" because clearly I can't.) Anyway, I need to do a post with links to good stories that I've found, this isn't the only one, but I've got them scattered all over my browser bookmarks.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Putting away childish things

I wish I could endorse this article about the "childish men and the women who love them" trope in media. I wish I could because of this passage:
It’s weird that we don’t have media where women are rewarded for developing the courage to walk out on disappointing, terminally-adolescent screw-ups. Movies about men prize taking risks, being resilient in the face of life wrinkles, learning new things about yourself, embracing and appreciating life, discovering adult values, stuff like that. Movies about women prize diplomacy, self-sacrifice, the dogged pursuit of love and kindness above all things, ‘turning into a butterfly,’ becoming more sexually liberated (because of men), being self-effacing and patient, basically stuff that makes her more conventionally appealing, less threatening or ugly, more marriageable.
That's a good paragraph, a yes yes YES moment and yes again, yet... it's missing the one element that is really irritating and makes the rest of the article a teeth-gritting chore for me to get through, and that is the way the author uses "like" throughout the rest of it. Like so:
But, like, I finally watched The Devil Wears Prada
And, like, I really believe the part of Girls where Hannah has low self esteem
Those are part of the same paragraph. Here's some more:
I have seen like nine million movies
The rise of the ‘manic pixie’ or ‘quirky girl’ in recent years is sort of like, the closest we can get to a subversion of this
And articles asking about the terminal adolescence of men, and like, how we embraced feminism and did everything required to be admirable self-actualized heroines and now what.
I understand that the author is using this Valley-speak signifier of air-headedness as an ironic tactic to illustrate how useless and stupid shit the crap coming out of Hollywood as regards women is, but it's still, like, really, like, annoying, and, like, pushes me away from full endorsement of this article as a commentary on sexism in the media. Perhaps we should just put the "sarcastic dumbing down" literary technique out to pasture. It is, at base, as childish as the attitudes writers using it mean to criticize, and plays in too much to our culture of adolescent snarking about serious things.

Friday, January 04, 2013

how to make your alternate medieval fantasy story both original and not shitty

Oh gosh yes, please stop rewriting Tolkien. Hell, Tolkien himself is a lot less hackneyed than his hordes of imitators; at least his main character was small, weak, and insignificant in comparison to all the royal humans and "high elves" and shit. (I seem to remember, though, reading a couple of these LOTR rehashes with hobbit knockoffs ("halflings" was apparently not copyrighted) and they fucking sucked, so yeah.)

Gray vs. Grey

Back in the ancient days of vinyl records, there were these people called "audiophiles" who used to obsess over details that most people (like me) couldn't even perceive: sound levels of "gold" recordings vs., um, non-gold ones, and so on. They had super-high-end stereo equipment and kept their vinyl LPs in archival protection, and etc. To be fair not all of these people had the actual musical taste of a piano bench (I'm thinking of this one guy who introduced me to his snazzy one-thousand-plus 1984 dollars stereo system, only to put on Eddie Money's "Take Me Home Tonight"), but still, audiophiles were people with either a level of perception above that of the average human, or else they were simply obsessive cranks, possibly both.

That's what Apple fans remind me of: those audiophiles with their specially-imported master pressings of some jazz concert or whatever. Case in point, this extremely detailed review of the iPad mini, which isn't really that much different from any obsessive review of any Mac product (or any other computer product, to be fair). There's just this one difference: when comparing the Mini with the Nexus 7, the author says going from the Nexus to the iPad is like "getting out of a Toyota and getting into a Lexus." And that made me laugh, because for one thing, Lexus is just Toyota's higher-end (read, "more expensive") luxury car brand -- I'd like to say it's specially set up to get more money out of rich assholes but that would be mean, so pretend I didn't just type that. The other thing is, the last three cars I've owned have been Toyotas, and I'm a fan -- and I've also been in a (new at the time) Lexus, and let's just say I wasn't impressed. I used to move my boss' Lexus for him at my old job in Miami (our parking lot was smaller than the amount of cars that needed to park in it), so I know what it's like to at least drive one around a parking lot. I mean, it was okay -- it was decently put together as far as I could tell. But a few years later I bought a new Toyota Echo and except for having cloth seats instead of (rather ugly mustard-colored) leather there wasn't any difference in the "feel" of the car. So it's just another of those fine details that I guess my blunt senses can't perceive.

And to tell you the truth, I don't much care for the "feel" of Apple products. Too glossy, or something. On the other hand, I've held a Nexus, and soon, one will be mine, oh yes -- come to Andrea.

Another reason to not see the Star Trek "reboot" movie

Apparently there's some icky baby-birthin' scene in it. Yeah, no, this female Star Trek fan doesn't do baby-birthin' scenes or any of that other "woman" shit women are supposed to like. Also someone throw Damon Lindelof off a bridge. Oh, sorry, was that unwomanly of me?

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Someday, Paywalls Are Going to Kill Blogging | Mother Jones

You know, Mr. Drum, you could do what I and millions of other bloggers do, and eschew the whole "professional for-pay blog on a professional Old Media publication's website" and just blog on some free site for the fun of it. But that's not really what Drum is grousing about here, is it? No, he's complaining about how "paywalls" are going to kill sweet gigs like the one he has at Mother Jones -- the above-mentioned paid blogging gig for a professional publication. And quite frankly doesn't that kind of blogging deserve to die?

Blog Name Change

I decided the previous name of this blog ("An Unimportant Woman") was still too self-aggrandizing. So now it is named after a small asteroid in the Main Belt.

Yep, that new blogging project is steaming right ahead.