Friday, February 15, 2013

Problematic Motherhood on 'The Walking Dead'

Motherhood means life, so in some ways it is not surprising that a show where the dead rise and walk the earth, contains problematic treatment of motherhood. Despite all of the running, hiding and struggle to survive, motherhood has actually featured quite largely on The Walking Dead, the problem is that each instance in which motherhood has been an issue, it reveals not only the strong gender roles that The Walking Dead has enforced since the very first season, but an idealized form of motherhood.

The first mother we were introduced to was Lori.  She escaped the city with Carl and Shane (thank Gods he’s dead).  Lori’s main motivation was keeping Carl safe, when she wasn’t engaged in subsistence labour. It is Lori who sat down with Carl and forced him to continue his studies. It is Lori who tried hard to establish discipline and order in his life. Lori’s only real identity for the bulk of her appearance on the show was to nurture. The one time in which she chose to reject this limitation because of the impact that it would have on her life, she was shamed. If a woman can’t choose to have an abortion during a zombie apocalypse when food, and shelter are scarce, then when can she?  Her life essentially meant nothing if she was not fulfilling her role as a mother.  When she went to Hershel with her fears, she was given the “there there” treatment and sent on her way.  Even in the best of situations, labour can mean death but for a woman who had serious issues with her first pregnancy and now faced labour without any modern medical intervention, it was an absolute surety. In the end, Lori paid for her motherhood with her life.

Lori’s death did not however convince Rick to take on the nurturing role for his family. This duty was instead passed to Beth. Before taking on a role as primary caregiver to the newborn, Beth’s greatest claim to fame was lying down in her bed and giving up. Yes, in this day and age, The Walking Dead actually had a young woman take to her bed. With a child to care for, Beth is suddenly reinvigorated and taking an active interest in life again, she has even gone as far as to talk about how she always wanted to be a wife and mother. These are certainly admirable goals but the fact that she didn’t have other aspirations as well, speaks loudly about the role that women are expected to take on The Walking Dead. As young as Beth is, she is already being constructed as a mother type figure with no other discernible traits. Even Carl, who is several years younger than her is walking around with a gun and entrusted with protecting the prison. Though Judith is his sister, Carl’s involvement in her daily life is minimal at best. The only other caregiver we have seen look after Judith is Carol, despite the fact that Beth chose to claim Darryl as the reason for Judith’s survival and Rick chose to thank him for his contribution.  The efforts of both Beth and Carol have gone unrecognized.
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Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day: Save Your Relationship by Going to War

'Parade of M-4 (General Sherman) and M-3 (General Grant) tanks in training maneuvers, Ft. Knox, Ky. Note the lower design of the M-4, the larger gun in the turret and the two hatches in front of the turret  (LOC)' photo (c) 1939, The Library of Congress - license:

When two people live together, no matter how much you may love the person in question, there are always constant negotiations.  Some issues are easier to resolve than others, but there are always going to be minor irritations that come from sharing a space intimately with another person.  We all know about the couples who have been together for many years and seem annoyingly in-sync with each other.  You know exactly what I am talking about.  They are the couple that finish each other sentences and seem to be able to exchange a wealth of information with a simple look. On the outside, it seems like they have beaten the odds and have created a perfect partnership.

After being together with my partner for over twenty years, I know that many people have this impression of our relationship.  We still hold hands and show affection in public, but what no one knows is that as much as we love each other, we are at war.  Yes, I said war. The lines have been drawn, battle plans have been written and since this has been going for years, it would be fair to say that this is a war of attrition because neither of us has been able to declare victory.

Relationships wars can be exhausting and so at some point, you have to decide which battles you have no chance of winning and give up.  Years ago, I realised that his irresistible need to hold onto the television remote is something I would never be able to break. I had two choices:  bang my head against the wall and listen to copious whining every time I held it, or I could engage in what I call stealth control, which is to nag him until the end of the time, thus controlling our viewing habits without physical possession of the remote.  I wisely chose the nagging and saved myself an unbeatable battle, with the added bonus of adding a little irritation to his power display.

Dear White Ladies Are You Still Doubting Your Privilege?

Over the years, one of the conversations we have repeatedly engaged in is a discussion of White privilege and how it relates to White women.  Every time this subject comes up, there is a solid round of denial, coupled with reminders that White women face sexism, as though we are capable of forgetting this fact for one minute.  What many continually fail to comprehend, is that most people who are marginalized, also have a degree of privilege in at least one area.  Unless you are a Non- Western, disabled, gay, trans woman of colour, who is poor, baby you got privilege in abundance. To hear many so-called liberal White women tell it, that's not the case.

Below you will find some images from the recent Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition, which have a recurring theme. I'll give you three points if you can guess the privilege.

hmmm, is it me, or might this image be a touch problematic?  What about this one?

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Goodbye Papa Nazi

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.

Ding dong the pope is gone.

So, for the first time in 600 years, the Pope is resigning, rather suddenly.

However it is not a surprise. Benedict is a very old man and, by all reports, his health is in decline. Whether an excuse or the reason, it’s understandable.

Needless to say, I won’t miss the nasty old bigot. He was a truly vile man, he supported some horrendously bigoted laws around the world, he has campaigned against any inclusion of female clergy in the church, been the very paragon of the anti-choice movement and is guilty of nothing short of genocide in his battles against the condom and contraception. His words about GBLT people have been so hateful that the insulting moniker of “Papa Nazi” applies –  not because of his forced membership of the Hitler Youth, but because his views on GBLT people were not very far divorced from those of the Nazis. And on every co0ntinent we can rely on Benedict rallying his bigoted minions to fight every right we have – from existence to non-discrimination, to marriage, to hate crime laws – the Catholics are there in hate and opposition.
The evil he has done by this man cannot be numbered, the pain he has caused cannot be expressed and he is one of the people in this world I loathe utterly and completely – without the slightest hesitation or guilt. This man has earned my loathing several times over.

Though he is nothing but a product of his church. One of my eternal annoyances is seeing people praise Jean Paul 2 while criticising Benedict. Benedict has done nothing Jean Paul didn’t do first and didn’t do longer. Benedict had the misfortune to become Pope in a very different time from Jean Paul. It is no longer the era when Sinead O’Connor was so roundly vilified for tearing up a picture of the Pope (and that woman is owed an apology).

Monday, February 11, 2013

The Walking Dead, Season Three, Episode Ten: Home

We open right where we left off at the break, with Darryl and Merle surrounded by the residents of Woodbury. Andrea tries to talk to Philip but he says that it is not up to him anymore and that the people have chosen.  Philip demands that Meryl and Darryl fight to the death as Andrea begs him not to do this.  Merle raises his hands and says he is going to have to do whatever he has to do, to prove his loyalty is to Woodbury, then starts to punch and kick Darryl.When Darryl asks if Merle believes they are going to be let go, Merle tells him to follow his lead.

From a distance Maggie shoots the walkers in the ring and the others begin to attack.  Pandemonium breaks out and the residents start running.  In the confusion the group slips away, as Philip walks through the dust almost without a care in the world.  As they make their escape, Merle tries to lead the way pointing out that everyone is at the area. Rick tells Merle that he is not going anywhere with them, but Merle replies that they haven't got time for this.  The group leaves through a partition without closing it, thus allowing a walker to enter Woodbury.

When they meet up with Michonne and Glenn, they are not impressed to see Merle. Michonne grabs her katana pointing out that Merle tried to kill her and Rick puts a gun to her.  Merle tells Darryl that it looks like he is going native. Merle tells them that Andrea has been sleeping with Philip and that they found Michonne in the woods with her. Darryl tries to tell Merle to shut up and when he doesn't Rick knocks Merle unconscious.

Back at the prison, Hershel is taking care of Tyrese's group with medical attention.  They are surprised to see a baby amongst them and at first assume that the child belongs to Beth. Sasha says that this is the first decent people that they have met. Tyrese admits that there used to be 25 of them until their camp was over run. Tyrese comments that he must be the first brother in history to break into prison and Axel says that this makes him the first White boy who didn't want to break out.  Hershel warns Tyrese that they have a large close knit group and that they shouldn't get to comfortable there as he walks away, Tyrese says, "please you can see what type of people we are."

Darryl begs for them to take Merle back to the prison and argues that Merle is blood. Darryl points out that Merle knows how Philip thinks. They look over at Michonne and declare her too unpredictable. The others make it clear that Darryl belongs but not Merle and finally he says, "no Merle no me." When Glenn brings up Carol, Darryl says that she will understand.  Darryl starts to walk away, and Rick stops and says, that there has to be another way, but Darryl's mind is made up. Rick tries again and reminds Darryl that they started something last night.  Darryl walks away with Merle after telling Rick to take care of everyone. The rest start to get into the car and Rick tells Michonne that they will patch her up and then she has to go.

Back at the prison Tyrese's group prepares to bury their dead when Alan says that it's a golden opportunity for them to take over the prison because all they see is Carl, a woman, a girl and a one legged old man. Alan points out that the place is secure.Tyrese tells him to show some decency but Alan says that this survival of the fittest and that they shouldn't wait around to be thrown out on their asses.  Axel and Beth brings out a shovel and offers to help and Tyrese quickly takes it stopping Alan from attacking.

The group is forced to stop to move a truck out of the way.  When Glen opens the door, a zombie pops out and Glen promptly stomps it death. Glenn is upset that Rick didn't kill the governor and starts to scream about what the governor did to Maggie. Rick says that Darryl was the priority. Glenn is not happy that after all the effort and risks and screams, "do you know what he did to her?" Glenn is not pleased that after everything they've been through that Darryl left with Merle.  Rick says that this is the hand that they have been dealt.

Back in Woodbury, Philip has apparently looked himself in his apartment.  People have lined up at the gate trying to leave but Philip's men have the exit blockaded and say that no one leaves. Andrea tries to tell everyone to calm down and then tells Martinez that he is making things worse by threatening the citizens.  When they hear screams, they take off running and discover walkers feeding on people in the town.  Philip walks over and shoots the man in the head who the walker was feeding on.

Back at the prison, Carl complains about how quiet it is and Carol points out that it is easy to forget how loud the world used to be.  She tells him that his mother was proud of him. Their conversation is interrupted by Rick and everyone returning home.  Rick tell Carol that they run into Merle and that Darryl chose to leave with him. Carol is visibly shocked and hurt by this news.
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Between Women Season One, Episode Two

As I mentioned earlier, I found a new webseries about Black lesbians living in Atlanta. This is a group that is largely ignored by the media.  Between Women is absolutely worth watching and since they are gearing up for the start of their second season, I thought we could watch the first together in preparation.  Please check it out and we will discuss the episode in the comment section.