Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Vampire Diaries Season Three, Episode Seven: Ghost World

Once again, Mystic Falls had another founders celebration. This week they were celebrating Illumination Night.  Apparently, they lit lanterns to tell the town that it was safe to come out at night again, after they had entombed all of the vampires.  I am really sick and tired of the weekly celebrations of the former slave owners.  Of course, The Vampire Diaries creators don't see it that way, but this is the truth of the matter.  

It seems that when Bonnie sent Vicky back to the other side she opened up a door that allowed all of the ghosts that had unfinished business to walk the town.  Because Elena was thinking of Lexy, Stefan's friend he came back and because the tomb vampires had unfinished business with the founders they came back with the aim of killing the descendants.  Mason came back to find a weapon to kill Klaus in order to save Tyler.

Wrapped up in all of the ghost appearances, there was a lot of relationship angst.  It started with Jeremy and Anna holding hands and then quickly escalated him to kissing her.  When Elena walked in on the shared kiss, Jeremy begs her not to tell Bonnie, but Elena tells him that after they finish with the witch business that he is going to tell her himself.  Of course, keeping Bonnie in the dark does not last long, and Caroline tells her about the kiss.  

To break the curse, Bonnie needs to destroy the necklace and so Caroline heads over to Damon's house to search for it.  When she cannot find it, Caroline tells Jeremy that Anna must have it.  Anna denies taking it but but Caroline tells Jeremy to wake up and open his eyes.  Enter Elena to save the day.  Elena tells her Anna that Jeremy has whole life ahead of him and they she is holding him back.  Jeremy tells Elena that he loves Anna.  The guilt finally gets to Anna and she hands over the necklace.  She says that she only took it because she does not want to be alone any longer.  Jeremy tells her that just because she will loose her foothold that it doesn't mean that he will stop seeing and interacting with her and then he guesses that what she real wants is to find Pearl.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Traumatised Youth in Urban Fantasy

'tears' photo (c) 2009, fairuz othman - license:
What shocked us most about this trope, as we went through our Book Review Master list, was how common this trope was. Literally, we went down our master list and struggled to find series where this trope didn’t apply. No, seriously - nearly every last series we’ve read included this trope. It has become less of a trope and more of a requirement in the genre.

Ilona Andrews’ Kate Daniels series has Kate with a dead mother, a dead stepfather and a hard childhood training to be a killer

Jennifer Estep’s Elemental Assassin series has Gin was tortured and her parents were murdered as a child.

L A Banks’ Vampire Huntress series has Damali who lost her parents to vampires and demons when she was a baby

Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden series has Harry orphaned and then raised by an abusive (and evil) wizard.

Jeaniene Frost’s Night Huntress series has Kat’s mother raped by a vampire who then brought Kat up to loathe herself.

Charlaine Harris’s Southern Vampire series has Sookie as a sexually abused orphan

LJ Smith’s Vampire Diaries has Elena and Jeremy both as having recently lost their parents.

The very premise of the Secret Circle requires that all 6 witches have lost a parent - or two.

Kelley Armstong’s Otherworld series sets new records with unhappy childhoods - Elena lost her parents as a child and was traumatised watching them die then went through a series of foster homes when she was sexually abused. Clay was abused as a child and ran away. Jeremy’s father was abusive. Jaime’s father was dead and her mother was (and is) abusive.

Laurell K Hamilton smashes Kelly Armstrong’s record - Anita lost her mother, Jason had an abusive father, Stephen and Gregory had a sexually abusive father, Nathanial had an abusive father - and of course Meredith Gentry has been beaten, tortured and faced repeated attempted murders by her aunt and uncle and has an abusive mother. The majority of the characters have an abusive or tragic past.

Read more

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

This Week's Top Troll

I have not done one of these in quite sometime but this is not because the hateful trolls have gone away.  I have decided that publishing a small example of the comments that I have not allowed to be posted on the blog, would serve as a teaching moment for many.  Often those of us that deal with marginalized identities are told that we are being too sensitive, or that things aren't really all that bad anymore. The truth is, there is still much that needs to change.  The best way to deal with this kind of hate, is to expose it to the light of day and reveal it for the ugliness that it is.  

As per usual, below you will find a list of comments that were not published.  Please be aware that a substantial trigger warning is in place, because many of the comments are homophobic, racist, transphobic, disableist and sexist.  Please choose the comment you find to be the most abhorrent and if you have the energy, please share why you chose it.
Seriously, slut-shaming? Racism?

Comedy without ism's would be better....wah wah wah....please shut the fuck up. Go do something worthwhile with your time instead of whining about how politically incorrect the world is and how much better you are than them for noticing it. Maybe if you had some more protein in your diet (read MEAT), you'd be less of a self-righteous bitch.


A REAL woman 
Yes, they are wrong to deem it racist. Whether it is offensive is another matter---a completely subjective one at that---but I do not think it is racist. The obvious meaning of the sign, which you butchered in your own analysis, is that women throughout the world are often treated as property with few rights, similarly to the way slaves were historically treated. The analogy is not as terrible as you make it out to be. So when the sign uses the word "nigger," it isn't doing so as a rebuke to people of color, but to show solidarity---in just the same way the event uses the word "slut" to show solidarity with women and their sexual choices.

Nothing in your comment, by the way, offers a reason as to why my own view is wrong. Instead, you attack my personal characteristics. You imply that I cannot be correct because I am privileged in some senses and because I am a man ("mansplain"). You then seem to imply that you must be correct because of your own characteristics, such as being a black, disabled female.

Your argument, however, is nothing more than a ad hominen. Instead of disputing my ideas or pointing out flaws in my argument, you simply attack irrelevant personal characteristics. If I say that the answer to 2 + 2 = 4, a feminist would no doubt say that I'm "mansplaining" and coming from a privileged perspective that ignores "other ways of knowing" in which 2 + 2 = 5, but that feminist would still be wrong. This tactic among feminists is incredibly silly and offensive, as you are explicitly engaging in the actions that you hate among men: namely, discounting women purely based on their gender.

For the record, I don't buy into the idea that women's, people of color's, and others' experiences are incommensurable to other people. I don't need to become a woman, or disabled, or another race to understand your perspective, and I find this unexamined axiom of feminist thought to be highly suspect. Taken to its extremes, because all individuals face many different variables that affect their privilege, including wealth, race, age, life experiences, luck, sexual orientation, and so on, that would entail that no individual can ever understand another individual's perspective, and surely that makes no sense. I could respond to you that you are "individual-splaining" at me, and that you can't understand things from my point of view as an x, y, z, ... individual.

If you disagree, that is fine, but I'd like to think it's for reasons and justifications other than my being a male.  

What about the racist comment about Justice being a white mans word? should we sue the author of this in civil court? how does that make white people feel? how does that make others feel? how is that no perpetuating hate and racism? Last time I checked, it was justice for all. How does this make American service men, soldiers, Marines, sailors, police and firemen and women feel? When they bleed, sweat and die for truth, justice and equality only to have someone way that its a white mans word? Do you really think that injustice doesn't happen to white people? Ive seen white people picked on openly at comedy clubs and tv, or beaten up for being white. Or told they couldnt walk the streets because they were white, or go to school because they were white. Ive also seen white people fight for equal rights of women, minorities, gays... What would Dr. King say? Why is it that white people cant say anything "racist" like "white pride" or use any derogatory words? Yet people can say white boy, wigger, red neck, honkey etc without anyone really taking notice or people getting fired for it. I cant count how many times Ive heard people say "gringo, wedo, or Guero" in the work place without being fired... Food for Thought

CoolFox on In 'How to Love' Lil' Wayne Gets "the Stipper Life' Wrong

 Oh man, I have never seen such an idiotic, biased review such as this one. First it is obviously a secular-based review, and that in itself makes your point invalid. Second, from the start of the review, it is obvious that you ALREADY have a disposition for the review, and it seems it struck you on a personal level, making your review shit, basically I mean, it can be secular, but you were biased to a point where the entire review was utterly stupid. No, you missed the point entirely. The point is not to tell women to not have abortions. It is also not telling women what not to do. But you think that people can just have sex without consequences, but that is definitely not true.

DPirate: on Dear Slutwalk, Woman is NOT Nigger of the World

Stupidest non-issue I've read in a while. People can say nigger all they want. Your fucking political-correctness is psychopathic. 


Who Was Zurana Horton?

Zurana Horton was out front of a public school when a sniper opened fire.  With thinking she shield some of the children and is now dead.  She was pregnant at the time of her death with her thirteenth child.  It takes courage to risk yourself like that but Zurana didn't even hesitate.

I first read her name in the comment section of another post on this space and decided to google a search.  I came across an article on The Guardian, dealing with the attacks that are being aimed at this brave mother.

Jirka Väätäinen, Disney princesses, and "realistic"

SnowdropExplodes self-identifies as a straight-ish White MAAB tubby bitch, and (most days) uses male pronouns and identification.   His belief system is largely made up from communism, Christianity, and wisdom derived from science fiction TV and novels.   He's been kinky for as long as he can remember, but only spanks you (or lets you spank him) if you ask nicely.

Jirka Väätäinen is an art student at Bournemouth University, and Yahoo News service shows me that he has used photo manipulation to render versions of the Disney princesses as if they were "real life" women.   He's posted his images at a blog here.

This interested me a great deal, so I wanted to have a quick look at the original cartoon images, and JV's images, and see how realistic they look.   For initial reference, here's a "group shot" drawing that has several of the princesses featured in Väätäinen's work:

Let's start with Princess Jasmine:

This is Väätäinen's rendering of the princess.

Have a look at Disney's version here.

What differences can you spot?

There's one glaring difference, which is the difference between the drawing's waist size and the "real person" waist size. It was interesting that when I googled to find the Disney image, I found several cosplay practitioners displaying their Jasmine costumes proudly, and a few looked really very similar to the JV image (although some were obviously White). None of them looked remotely like the drawings.

Curiously, I couldn't find any images showing Princess Aurora (Sleeping Beauty) dressed the same way as she's shown in JV's image of her - I did see several children dressed in a version of the outfit, and that one "group shot" drawing of the princesses together displayed above, but no scenes from the movie, which surprised me.

One thing did surprise me about Väätäinen's Sleeping Beauty, which is that she's blonde.   From the famous telling of the story, the wish was for a daughter whose hair was "as black as ebony".   She's also got a longer torso than the drawing and, in her corset, actually looks less curvy than the drawing as a result. Although you'd have to argue that Sleeping Beauty the drawing is probably more realistic as a real person's proportions than Jasmine, she's still upholding an improbable (if not impossible) ideal.

Pocahontas, who's next on the sequence from Yahoo, is where we don't need a comparison piece from Disney to see that there's something... not quite possible about the body shape ideals that they display:

It looks as though her upper torso is becoming separated from her lower body!   Yahoo comments that it looks like she's "working some Barbie-like proportions", which really just goes to show how impossible it is.   Looking at the stills from the movie, you can see why JV has this problem.   The proportions of the drawing actually resemble those in the photo manipulation.

Not only is it a body shape and body ideal that is impossible to achieve naturally, it looks as though here, it's impossible to achieve unnaturally and make it look real.

When that's what our kids have to contend with, what chance have they got?

One thing that I found worthy of note, is that Pocahontas seems to be another one where it's grown-up cosplay more often than children.   One such image was very adult, ifyaknowwhatImean...

Yahoo next shows us Belle, from Beauty and the Beast.   Leaving aside the extremely dodgy relationship model that the story gives us, what about the images?

Disappointingly, we don't get a full-body image from JV, so we can't compare proportions in that way. Google images mainly focuses on Belle in her yellow princess' gown, while JV has again chosen her more workday clothes as his model, so finding comparisons was harder. This was the best I could do, and to be fair, it doesn't look that bad for proportions - and JV's image is pretty close. SInce I've started commenting on this - the google image search this tim had a fair number of both children's versions and grown-ups, with some apparently falling into the "sexy" category that typifies US commercial women's Hallowe'en costumes (a trend that I was dismayed to notice this year has crossed the Atlantic).

Asexuals: The Invisible Cousin of the LGBTQ World

KJ is a 25 year old Texan currently residing in Seattle. She reads incessantly, runs intermittently, hikes less than she'd like and writes more papers than she dreamed was possible.  When she isn't goofing off by reading graphic novels or social justice blogs, she is in graduate school. 

 I’m asexual.

That means I do not experience sexual attraction.  In discussions about sexual minorities, asexuals are not usually talked about.  We’re the invisible cousin of the LGBTQ world.  Many people (I’m looking at you Dan Savage) like to claim we don’t exist, ignore us or make fun of us.  Many people wonder why we need to talk about being asexual.  But being ace (the slang term for asexual) is not easy in a hetero normative, sexual normative world.

For most of my life, I assumed I was heterosexual, even though I wasn’t sexually attracted to others. I thought, like many asexual people, that I was late bloomer or that I hadn’t met the right person.  However, as I kept getting older and older, I started to sense that I was not a late bloomer and that I might, just might, not ‘bloom’ at all.

It all came to a head when I took a sexuality class. As I heard, for the first time, real, open discussion of sexuality, it hit me like a ton of bricks:  I plain wasn’t interested. And most people had had sexual feelings way, way, before the age of 22.  I wasn’t going to ‘bloom.’  During the class, the professor mentioned asexuality.  As soon as I got home, I looked it up.

When I did that google search for ‘asexuality,’ the Asexuality Visibility and Education Network popped up.  AVEN is the hub for the asexual community; it is where confused people are welcomed with discussion and virtual cake (which, in the asexual community is an in-joke since for aces ‘cake is better than sex’).  It is where meet-ups are organized in cities across the globe.  It is where asexual can discuss activism, the coming out process and Doctor Who.  It is, in short, a refuge.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Why #teamambercole Matters and the Silence of White Women

'Power & Equality' photo (c) 2010, Steve Snodgrass - license:

Last week, I wrote about a 14 year old girl named Amber Cole, who became an internet sensation, after a video of her performing oral sex on a boy went viral.There can be no doubt that Cole's life will never be the same and we know that once something goes online, there is no way to stop it from circulating.  Every time someone views this video, Cole will be re-victimized. Thankfully, the boys involved in this incident have been arrested.

Amber only consented to performing oral sex to attempt to win back the affections of her ex-boyfriend, she most certainly did not consent to have the act filmed and released on the internet.  The boys used Cole. This tells me that Amber has a self esteem problem, and the last thing that you do when someone already has a negative self view, is to shame them into oblivion.

It would be one thing if Amber had consented within the framework of a reciprocal loving relationship, but that is not the case.  I don't really find her behaviour all that surprising, when society invests so much time teaching young Black girls that they are without value and not deserving of love.  When many heard about this incident or viewed the video, though it constituted child pornography, all they saw was a fast ass little girl and not a reflection of the way in which Black womanhood has been devalued.  Since the arrest of the boys involved, some have even gone as far as to claim that Amber should be charged with something herself, as though public shaming has not been more than enough punishment.  Amber even had to change her school, and that is only the first example of how this video will follow her through life.    

When I wrote about this last week, a commenter brought up the issue of lack of coverage of the incident in the feminist sphere. I know that as bloggers, we have limited resources and we have to make careful consideration over what we bring attention to, but the glaring silence about Amber Cole is painful.  Black women have spoken up in droves to claim #teamambercole, as a method of rejecting the slut shaming and the cyber bullying involved in this incident. The silence of our supposed White female activist allies speaks loudly.

Black women have spoken out repeatedly about the various ways in which our stories differ from that of White women and this often reduced to us just being angry.  When incidents like this happen and the response from White women is silence, it simply stands as further evidence that when they advocate for women's issues, what they really mean anything that effects them and not us.  If women truly mattered, the defense of Amber Cole, would not be left solely for Black women to undertake.

Toure Compares Herman Cain to Flava Flav

Toure often gets it wrong, but when he does occasionally get it right, it's always a home run.  He recently did a rant on Republican hopeful Herman Caine that expressed my thoughts on the man to a T.

When Same Sex Couples Kiss in Public

This is a guest post from Sparky, of Spark in Darkness.  Many of you are  familiar with him from Livejournal, as well as from his insightful and often hilarious commentary here. Each Tuesday, Womanist Musings will be featuring a post from Sparky.

Kissing, kissing, kissing, such a simple thing right? I mean, most couples do it and quite a few are quite willing to do it in public as well. Of course, we may roll our eyes over people who are outright tongue wrestling in the public street – but precious few of us complain about the odd peck. It's a very standard part of our view.

Well... except in same-sex couples. Then that can get you thrown out of pubs. It can get you kicked off planes. It can certainly get your head kicked in. A television programme with a same-sex kiss? Oh you're bound to get a gazillion complaints. How daaaare you. Even now there's yet another study on shoving our affection after the watershed to protect the delicate gazes of straight people.

I don't kiss Beloved outside the house. I want to, but I don't. It has become something hidden, something concealed. Something I have to restrict to behind close doors. In some ways, I have to treat kissing him as a sex act.

And the excuses we hear from those determined not to allow us this simplest act of affection.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Sesame Street Empowers Black Girls to Change the World

Does everyone remember the White father who created the Black muppet singing about how much she loved her natural hair for his daughter, after she said that she didn't like her hair?  Well, that cute little muppet is back, and this time she is empowering Black girls to believe that they can truly change the world.  For a bit that is under two minutes, I think it is really great, though I hesitate to completely endorse it, because there is no commentary about the ways in which they will have to work 10x as hard to have the simplest success.  I believe we need to empower our daughters, but doing so should also include a message of how race and gender will effect their lives.  They need to know not only what obstacles exist but why they exist. Telling them truth and raising them to be critically aware is how we empower, not through fairy tales, where dreaming is enough to lead to a happy ending.

Since we started this day on a positive note, I thought that we should end on one as well.

Once Again White Radical Feminists Miss the Point in the Mommyhood Debates

'Monique - 
Motherhood' photo (c) 2008, Barbara Olson - license:
I basically stay out of the mommy wars, though as a mother of two, I clearly have a vested interest.  I don't participate, because I know that the White women who banter back and forth are not capable of seeing things from a perspective other than their own -- and that just like far too many see the category of woman as monolithic, the same can be said of their views of the experience of mothering.

Twisty of I Blame the Patriarchy recently wrote a post that pissed me off to the point that I have decided to throw in my two cents. Let's examine an excerpt.
Yo, mothers, we really understand. Really, we do, because our fists are tired, too. The maddening antifeminist zeitgeist is exhausting us all. It’s just that we — and when I say we, I mean those blamers who see the nuclear family as an enormous obstacle to liberation — are desperate for women who are living the status quo to challenge the status quo. We are desperate for women to reject the specious narrative that within the nuclear family we have “choice,” when in fact the “choice” (regarding motherhood) is between doing one full-time job (stay home and raise kids) or two full-time jobs (do paid work and also raise kids).* We are desperate for women to stop buying into the patriarchy-sponsored message about women’s fulfillment — that is, the notion that you are a selfish blob of failure, or worse, that you are missing out on life’s greatest joy, if you don’t martyr yourself to home and family and totally subsume your identity in the process. We want women to reject marriage and the nuclear family. We want women to not have kids in the first place. But above all we want women who do have kids to realize that, despite our critique of the traditional feminine behaviors in which they are encouraged — by forces larger than feminism — to engage, we’re on their side, because ain’t they women? And ain’t we for the liberation of women? 

A feminist revolt will improve the lives of all women, and all kids, too.

So, even as mothers need the support of the — whaddya call us? Non-mothers? — we need the support of the mothers, goddammit!

That’s right! We want the mothers to step up.

I know, I know, they’ve got a lot on their plate. But we need them. We need them to confirm the notion that the thankless, unpaid drudgery of nuclear motherhood is a product of the astonishing degree to which everyone hates women. We need them to affirm that the nuclear family system doesn’t work. We need them to cop to the fact that nuclear mothers are in an untenable position, often stuck between poverty and either some crap marriage or some crap job or, holy shit, both. We need them to affirm that, as an oppressed class, nothing they do is without political significance. And we especially need them — this one, ho boy, is the biggie — to quit defending nuclear motherhood, because when they defend nuclear motherhood, they are defending the primary method by which patriarchy replicates itself.
No readers, Twisty doesn't get a fucking thing, not one fucking thing about what it's like mother from the margins.  All she can see in this debate is working vs staying at home, and sticking it to the patriarchy.  Well wouldn't it be fucking nice if that were the only problems marginalized mothers have. It makes me want to hunt down some printing services, so that I can get flyers made to say, motherhood is not a fucking monolithic experience, stop essentializing us. 

The Walking Dead, Season Two, Episode Two: Guts

The episode begins with Lori talking about her marital problems with Rick. Right after that she admits that she loves him Shane -- who is not dead -- pulls up and tells her that Rick has been shot. Even then you can see Shane looking at them with a weird sort of desire.

The seen flashes back to Rick running with Carl after he has been shot. We learn that Otis shot a buck and it went straight through to Carl. Lori stops to look behind her when she hears the gunshot.  It worries her that Rick and Shane have not caught up. Darryl keeps them moving by telling them to stop worrying about Sophia and that she will be just fine, and that Shane and Lori are probably on the way. What I don't like about this is that they have set Darryl up to lead in the absence of Rick and Shane.  Why couldn't Andrea take the lead considering that she is such a strong character in the comics. Oh I get, Darryl a character made up for the show is a nature guy and therefore the natural leader. 

Back at the highway, T-Dog and Dale are still waiting for the crew to return.  When T-Dog shows him his arm, Dale discovers that it is infected and he needs antibiotics. Dale decides that they have scavenge the area again to and find some antibiotics. After a search, all T-Dog is able to find is a pack of cigarettes and some ibuprofen. Finally, with a look or resignation, T-Dog tells Dale that they were left behind because they are viewed as the weakest, and that he feels that his situation is precarious because he is a Black man. He tells Dale that there are two good ole boy sheriffs and a redneck that would cut off his own hand because he dropped a key. He believes that he is going to be the first to be lynched.  Dale tells hm that the sheriffs have saved their ass.  T-Dog responds by suggesting that  he and Dale  leave, because they are sitting there "like live bait," but when Dale checks his forehead, it's clear that he has a fever.

Read More

Jon Bon Jovi Opens a "Pay What you can Afford" Restaurant

I don't know about you, but I like to begin my work week on a positive note and this story about Jon Bon Jovi really fit the bill for me.  It seems that he has opened a restaurant in New Jersey where the patrons have the opportunity to pay the suggested price for their meal, donate extra to feed someone else, or work in the kitchen to pay for a meal for their family.  The meals this restaurants provides is nothing like you would expect.  All of the food is fresh and healthy, with vegetables being grown on the property. The food is gourmet and the atmosphere reflects this.  It is a restaurant in the truest sense of the word because patrons are seated and waited on.

Jon Bon Jovi Soul Kitchen from JBJ Soul Kitchen on Vimeo.