Wednesday, September 20, 2017

The GOP Base in One Sentence

Musician Kid Rock is apparently contemplating a Senate run as a Republican.

Via PinkNews, here's pretty much the perfect encapsulation of the GOP base right now:
 "Polling has shown [Kid Rock] has massive support among the GOP base, despite his lack of experience or policy knowledge or stated political agenda."
Importantly, Kid is willing to publicly act like a bigot by, for instance, expressing his transphobic thoughts, as detailed in the PinkNews article.

All that matters to many people is that Kid Rock is "politically incorrect." That is the only relevant qualification a candidate need have, at least if he's a white guy. That he's otherwise completely unqualified doesn't matter. Lock her up, etc.

What a cool party, Republicans. And, to be quite frank, any person on the left still gaslighting us about the bigotry the GOP stokes can fuck off forever.

Have a nice day!


Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Why I Listen To Hillary

Over at Shakesville, I shared my thoughts on some of the gross reactions to Hillary Clinton's book and why I choose to listen to her rather than demand that she go away forever.

Check it out:
"Almost a year ago, I wrote about how I think often about the silence demanded of marginalized people so that other people don't have to feel badly about being bigots. I still think about it, and most specifically about all the heavy lifting that silence does in service of false and one-sided political narratives, particularly the narrative that has developed since the 2016 election: In the wake of one of the most brutally misogynistic, racist, and xenophobic campaigns in recent history, Hillary Clinton needs to blame herself entirely for the loss,before walking into the woods to live at Grey Garden the rest of her life.

Meanwhile, Amazon currently carries no less than two dozen books that have already, less than a year later, been published about the 2016 election. The vast majority of these are written by men. Do we think these books thoroughly detail the events of the 2016 election? What are the odds that these men have keen insight into the nuances of misogyny, racism, and xenophobia that those across the political spectrum employed to help deliver Trump's win? Are these voices truly the only perspectives needed to shed light on what happened?"
Head on over to Shakesville to read the whole thing!

Monday, September 18, 2017

Have a Seat, Gentlemen

It's apparently not enough to see multitudes of dude-authored pieces in the mainstream media that are various iterations of how History's Greatest Monster Hillary Clinton Has Some Nerve, Writing a Book. doesn't She Know She Needs To Sit Down, Shut Up, and Let The Men Make the Narratives?

The other day, I logged into my Goodreads to update my status to currently reading That Book. To find a book, I ran this search: "What Happened, Hillary Clinton." These were the results:



Misogyny is when any random jagoff can publish his take on "what happened," but it's deemed horribly out of line when the person with perhaps the most insight into what actually happened does so.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Quote of the Day: Ta-Nehisi Coates

Ta-Nehisi Coates, in "Donald Trump is the First White President," is worth reading in full, but here's a snippet. After noting that Donald Trump won every class-based group of whites, he writes:
"The focus on one subsector of Trump voters—the white working class—is puzzling, given the breadth of his white coalition. Indeed, there is a kind of theater at work in which Trump’s presidency is pawned off as a product of the white working class as opposed to a product of an entire whiteness that includes the very authors doing the pawning. The motive is clear: escapism. To accept that the bloody heirloom remains potent even now, some five decades after Martin Luther King Jr. was gunned down on a Memphis balcony—even after a black president; indeed, strengthened by the fact of that black president—is to accept that racism remains, as it has since 1776, at the heart of this country’s political life. The idea of acceptance frustrates the left. The left would much rather have a discussion about class struggles, which might entice the white working masses, instead of about the racist struggles that those same masses have historically been the agents and beneficiaries of."
Of course, the focus on the white working class - particularly men - is not puzzling at all.

White men dominate the media narratives across the political spectrum. The white male media elite were largely enamored, entertained, and/or fascinated by the rise of the two angry white male populists who ran in the 2016 election. Many of these men, in the wake of their complicity, now demand that we ditch identity politics, stop listening to Hillary Clinton, and/or stop saying accurate things about Bernie Sanders because Trump is the "true" enemy.

We were close, in 2016.

We know how scared so many men were because of how they are acting now, desperate to stay at the center of all things.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Friday Fun: Wonder Woman

I realize I haven't posted about Xena in months or the new Wonder Woman movie at all, which I think knocks me back a few notches on the Kinsey scale.

Please enjoy this mashup of both:


But seriously, why would you ever leave the island of Amazons, though? There is no earthly reason to. Just fly the new babies in.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Hillary's Book: A Preview

Super looking forward to it:


Now, if I'm properly understanding the rules governing womanly discourse, it seems that some people are suggesting that Hillary's book, particularly because she mentions Bernie Sanders in something other than 100% glowing terms, is going to detract from The Real Fight, which is against Donald Trump.

The logic there, such as it is, seems to be part of the strange reasoning that suggests people - particularly vapid Hillary fans - are not able to multi-task when it comes to political grievances.

I'm here to say have no fear, Concerned Citizens. My capacity for anger about politics is boundless. I promise you that I can be angry at Bernie Sanders and still have a an exponentially more amount of anger at Donald Trump.

On the other hand, if the concern is that this book will divide the left even more, I would humbly offer that the uniting has to work in a way that is something other than uni-directional. There are real and longstanding divides on the left. They won't magically go away by telling Hillary Clinton and her fans to shut the fuck up. I offer, instead, that that narrative will actually make things worse.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Book Review: Divided We Stand (Marjorie Spruill)

In the wake of the 2016 election, I would add Marjorie Spruill's Divided We Stand: The Battle Over Women's Rights and Family Values that Polarizing American Politics to any list of recommended "how we got to here" books. That is to say, I don't think we can accurately understand why 53% of white women voted for Donald Trump without acknowledging the unique way the white-dominated, Christian conservative anti-feminist/"pro-family" movement in the United States is linked to the Republican Party.

Spruill centers her analysis of the feminist/anti-feminist divide around the years leading up to the National Women's Conference in 1977, laying out the case that this event, and the push for the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), mobilized both feminist and anti-feminist activists in ways that still ripple through today's political landscape and shape both major political parties.

On the feminist side, the book follows feminists active in the ERA movement and the Women's Conference, particularly Bella Abzug, Gloria Steinem, Betty Friedan, and Maxine Waters. A primary frustration of the feminists, was not just anti-feminist organizing to thwart their goals, but that the government's sponsorship of the Conference led those on both the left and the right to charge that the women's movement was "establishment" even though the reality was that women were poorly represented in nearly ever facet of what is considered "establishment."

Speaking of ripples, during the 2016 Democratic Primary, Bernie Sanders called Planned Parenthood and the pro-LGBT Human Rights Campaign part of the "establishment" that he was taking on, because they endorsed Hillary Clinton, over him. That, even as Republicans continue a ceaseless war on reproductive autonomy and LGBT rights. A lesson here is that while mainstream political analysis often fixates on battles between the left v. the right, in some ways, feminism fits awkwardly into this dichotomy. There are factions on on both ends of the political spectrum that consistently portray feminists, and to a lesser extent women in general, as both enormously powerful and not worth taking seriously. This is not a new phenomenon. Second-wave feminists have written extensively about it, but it seems each successive generation of feminists is destined to re-live the dynamic.

Nonetheless, an important outcome of the Conference was the adoption of a National Plan of Action on topics such as business, child care, employment, health insurance, criminal justice, and rape. It also mobilized the anti-feminist right.

On the anti-feminist right, much of the focus of the book is on the organizing, influence, and efforts of Phyllis Schlafly and, in particular, the way she was able to unite Protestants, Catholics, and Mormons against feminism by emphasizing their common beliefs about gender and family. Spruill writes:
"Religion was at the core of the anti-ERA movement. Though it was not as clear to observers in the 1970s as it was later to scholars, active participation in churches was the greatest common denominator among ERA opponents and a far greater indicator than class or levels of education."
The trifecta of moral and economic issues around which the anti-feminist movement rallied white Christian conservatives was abortion, the ERA, and homosexuality, all tinged with racism and white resentment toward the Women's Conference's deliberate inclusion of racial, ethnic, and economic diversity among its organizers and delegates.

Prior to her death in 2016, I'd been following Schlafly, and the more general "pro-family" movement, for the entirety of this blog's existence. So, 10 years. The seeming-obsession with gays and lesbians that's documented in this book was therefore not a surprise to me. At the same time, some of the pearl-clutching somehow reads as both quaint and obviously-bigoted. Sample:
  • Schlafly's response when conservatives weren't able to elect as many delegates to the convention as they wanted: "[The conservatives would have] done better but our women didn't want to leave their families for an entire weekend and spend it with a group of lesbians. They're very offensive to all of us."
  • "Conservatives claimed that a bus with New York plates was bringing in male homosexuals to pack the convention. The astonished driver, however, explained to the press that he was transporting swimmers to compete in a meet at the Brown University pool."
  • Another anti-feminist's description of the convention: "There were about 2,000 lesbians in attendance, wearing all kinds of lesbian T-shirts and signs such as: 'How dare you presume I am heterosexual?' 'Lesbians fight for our friends.' 'Anita sucks organs.' 'Warm Fuzzy Dykes.'" and so forth.
During the Convention, Schlafly led an anti-feminist counter-rally, consisting primarily of white Christians, male and female, denouncing the recommendations of feminists. Further, in some southern states, the KKK influenced the state meetings in which the delegates to the Convention were chosen and promised to be at the Convention to protect "their women" from the lesbians.

(Helpful Hint to White Supremacist Women: Don't worry, I find you very resistable).

As Spruill tells it, this counter-rally "signaled the advent of a unifiying movement that joined single-issue conservative campaigns related to abortion, the ERA, child care, education, and gay rights into a common defense of the traditional family." And, further, as Republicans saw how these issues could be leveraged for political gain, more moderate Republicans both watched in frustration as their party was hijacked by extremists while they also stood by and did nothing to stop it. A New Gingrich campaign staffer described the new Republican strategy of gaining southern voters:
"We went after every rural southern prejudice we could think of."
My two mild critiques of Spruill's book is that I believe she too-generously cedes the label "pro-family" to conservatives, throughout the book, perhaps wanting to appear neutral. Yet, as she documents, the "pro-family" right primarily worked to carve out a special status for white heteronormative married families, while opposing policies and government support that would help all other types of families.

Two, more information or context about the anti-feminists' motivations to vote against their interests as women would have been interesting. Spruill suggests that anti-feminist women were more than "pawns of men eager to legitimize their own opposition to feminism," but in my opinion doesn't truly explain how or why. (Andrea Dworkin, of course, wrote Right-Wing Women in part based on her experience with anti-feminists during this era, but it would be interesting to examin the extent to which Dworkin's analysis holds up today.)

Nonetheless, I see this book is a valuable contribution to understanding today's political climate.

Melissa McEwan has noted that Donald Trump is not an anomalous Republican politician, but an inevitable one that has exposed the rot at the core of a Republican Party that both shelters, condones, and tolerates bigotry. I have previously observed that with 81% of white Evangelical voters choosing Trump in the 2016 election, he is their Conservative Christian Cultural Warrior. The white women who voted for Trump are likely to be, primarily, the political descendants of Phyllis Schlafly. That is, the women of the right who oppose the moral trifecta of abortion, LGBT rights, and feminism.

Yet, with many election post-mortems focusing on the purported "economic anxiety" of whites who voted for Trump, and the mainstream media remaining fascinating by angry white male "populists," the Christian anti-feminist angle is largely lost. In the quest to trash Democrats and remake the party around angry white people, some on the left, and in particular the Sanders left, seem perplexed (at best) and ignorant (at worst) of the way Republicans have mobilized white Christian opposition to abortion, feminism, and LGBT rights for the past 40 years for political gain.

In the 1970s, Phyllis Schlafly's anti-feminism "liberated" male politicians from having to cater to feminist demands, because they saw that anti-feminist women were also opposing these demands. As Spruill tells it, Schlafly's last parting "gift" to feminists, before her death in 2016, was her endorsement of Donald Trump. Schlafly's endorsement sent a clear signal to the Christian right that one could be a "virtuous" woman and still support the abusive, misogynistic, racist, and unqualified sexual predator.

Democrats, we ignore this history at our peril.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

On Those "Bernie Wouldas"

Bernie Sanders lost the Democratic Primary to Hillary Clinton over a year ago by more than three million votes.

Yet, during the primary, I took note of the many, gendered narratives the Sanders team and his die-hards employed in refusing to admit that Hillary was legitimately beating him:
  • Bernie was only losing because he was being too nice to Hillary;
  • Bernie was only losing because he wasn't even trying in the states that he lost;
  • Bernie was only losing because DemocraticCorporateNonprofitComplex had rigged the system against him;
  • Bernie wasn't even losing at all, but even if he were, the superdelegates could still vote for him against the will of the voters.
The larger narrative was that Hillary Clinton, a woman, could not have actually been beating Sanders, a man, and even if she were, he was still entitled to be the victor.

And so it continues almost a year after the general election.

Some commentators and Twitterers have a bizarre obsession with wanting Hillary Clinton to take sole responsibility for the electoral college loss to Donald Trump. Doing so absolves us, I suppose, from having to examine deeper-seated, structural factors at play.

Within this context, we also continue to see a lot of "Bernie woulda won" taunts. It seems to be a rallying cry of disgruntled Sanders fans who believe he would have prevailed against Donald Trump in the 2016 general election and that he should run in 2020.

The reasons for this taunt are several, I suspect, and varied for different people. But, given the context of Sanders and his die-hards' inability to gracefully concede that Hillary actually beat Sanders, here is what I hear when people say "Bernie woulda won":
"I saw Trump leverage misogyny against Hillary Clinton, but I'm going to act like it was a merit-based outcome in which the old white guy could have gotten the job done where the woman failed."
With Republicans holding power in two of the three branches of federal government, it is imperative for Democrats to unite going forward. That will be extremely difficult to happen if the Democratic establishment continues to kowtow to a man and movement that gaslights the people who comprise the actual Democratic base.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Antifa, Communists, and Dopey Moral Equations

This week, The Washington Post published an opinion piece by Republican, and former George W. Bush speechwriter, Marc Thiessen arguing that antifa are:
"...no different from neo-Nazis. Neo-Nazis are the violent advocates of a murderous ideology that killed 25 million people last century. Antifa members are the violent advocates of a murderous ideology that, according to “The Black Book of Communism,” killed between 85 million and 100 million people last century. Both practice violence and preach hate. They are morally indistinguishable. There is no difference between those who beat innocent people in the name of the ideology that gave us Hitler and Himmler and those who beat innocent people in the name of the ideology that gave us Stalin and Dzerzhinsky."
A few main points I want to make here.

While I've certain had annoying run-ins with Internet far leftist poseurs and still encounter some naive fetishization of violent communist revolution, I can still think of several important differences between antifa and Neo-Nazis in the US right now, a big one of which is that many Neo-Nazis see the current US president as the "god emperor" for their abhorrent views and he actively courts them. That is to say, Neo-Nazis have the establishment power of the state behind their violence and worldview. Antifa do not. From there, and for those concerned about "civility," I think we can reasonably conclude which of these "sides" poses more of a danger to our collective morals and safety.

Two, Theissen engges in a lot of dopey equivocation. Let's follow the odd chain of logic as he demands that those across the political spectrum denounce violence on the many sides of these political skirmishes between people who are Neo-Nazis and people are not Neo-Nazis. Specifically, he states that those on "the left" have a duty to call out the violence of antifa and then wonders why more "leading Democrats" haven't done so. His logic seems to be:
  • Antifa are advocates of communism
  • Communism is a leftist movement
  • Democrats are the left
  • Therefore, Democrats are responsible for "calling out" antifa
Again, the oddness here is that while Neo-Nazis wear Trump costumes and MAGA hats at rallies and explicitly view him as their leader, many antifa reject establishment politics altogether, including Democrat politicians. In my experience there are very few, if any, Nancy Pelosi antifa cosplayers or those who, say, view Chuck Schumer as their stand-in in the government. And, in my experience, not a small portion of antifa would find it insulting to be equated with "the Dems" or have a major political party speak for them.

That is to say, antifa are not to the Democratic Party what Neo-Nazis are to the Republican Party. It would be a strategic mistake for the Democrats to condemn antifa. Republicans protect "their" extremists, or those who are perceived as Republican extremists. Democrats, too, often internalize Republican criticism, apologize for it, and based their behavior not on what their base wants, but on what jackass white male Republicans say Democrats should say and do.

In other, but related, news, I've also been observing that some of those on the far left who are finding themselves being morally equated with Neo-Nazis also spent the past two years equating Hillary Clinton with Donald Trump.

It's almost like there might be a larger life lesson in that.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Recap: Supergirl 2.22 "Nevertheless, She Persisted"

Welp, the Season 2 finale begins with a Supergirl v. Superman showdown. Apparently, Rhea infected Superman with silver kryptonite, causing him to hallucinates that Supergirl is his worst enemy. They shoot laser beams at each other from their eyes, and then punch each other while, for some reason, standing in shallow water.


Supergirl wins the fight, but I'm sure it was only because of the superdelegates or whatever.

Alex flies then flies an unconscious Supergirl and Superman to the Fortress of Solitude. How? I'm not sure. Maybe she borrowed the President's invisible jet. Anyway, when Superman wakes up, he's back to normal. They then all fly back to the DEO. Hey, I'm not here to answer logistical questions, I'm just here to report that Winn is very happy about seeing Superman again:


Say, what's Lyra been up to lately?

Anyway, the bad Daxamites are still trying to take over the Earth. They prepare to bomb National City, so Supergirl challenges Rhea to a trial by combat. Mon-El asks why Superman can't do the duel (ew), but Superman tells him that Supergirl beat him in a fight so she is the Earth's Champion.

(*koff* Make Superman a series regular, not Mon-El. Wait what?)

Meanwhile, the Luthors have offered up a device that would put lead into the Earth's atmosphere, which would kill all of the Daxamites unless they left Earth. Conveniently for Lena, this would also mean that Kara's boyfriend Mon-El would also have to leave. I guess this device is their backup plan in case Rhea wins the duel against Supergirl. (Side note: I'm no meteorologist, but it seems like you shouldn't just introduce a bunch of stuff into the atmosphere?? I'm no Daxamite either, but I don't want a bunch of lead in my lungs!)

Supergirl and Rhea then meet for their big duel. On a rooftop. For some reason. And, "on their honor" they swear that whoever wins gets Earth. Oh Supergirl, when will you ever learn that some foes, especially Rhea, have no honor. And yep, about 12 seconds into their fight, the Daxamites begin attacking Earth, because of course they do.


It turns out that Lena has given Supergirl the remote to detonate the lead-atmosphere thingy, as a backup plan, I guess. Supergirl makes the decision to use it, knowing that Mon-El will have to leave Earth. Mon-El and Supergirl say a sad goodbye and then he leaves in Supergirl's old pod. Where does he go? Who knows! It appears he gets swallowed by a black hole/flies through a wormhole.

The good news is that the Daxamite invasion has ended. And then, a few things happen:
  • On the Sanvers front, Alex asks Maggie to marry her. We don't hear the response. Whyyyyy.
  • Cat is apparently back at CatCo. I don't know where James is, but Kara walks into Cat/James' office and, just like old times, Cat gives her an Uplifting-Yet-Snarky Speech. When Kara walks away, Cat then says, "Go get 'em, Supergirl." 
  • Some weird shit happens that's basically a Season 3 preview. Some robe-wearing, evil-seeming people put a baby into a pod and shoot it out into space. Hmmmm.
Deep Thought of the Day: This finale was a little "meh" for me. The addition of Superman was fun, but the dramatic peak was Supergirl having to send Mon-El away from Earth. And, I'm just not sure I care enough about the Supergirl/Mon-El relationship, let alone Mon-El himself, to have strong feelings about him leaving. I mean, I get that Supergirl loves him, but I don't get why she does. He outed their relationship like 10 minutes after she asked him not to and he lied, habitually, about a huge part of his past and lineage. But, I suppose if we've learned anything about Supergirl this season it's that she is the eternal optimist, giving people chance after chance after chance, even if they ultimately let her down repeatedly.

The other issue with the ending is that, well, it wasn't really Supergirl who defeated the Daxamites. It was the Luthors. They were the ones who invented the lead-atmosphere thingy. Supergirl just pressed a button to detonate it. And, even though her decision meant Mon-El had to leave Earth, it was still a no-brainer decision for anyone but an arch-villain. It would have looked pretty bad if she had instead chose Mon-El over an entire city. So, I'm not sure who or what, "Nevertheless, She Persisted" was supposed to refer to. The female hero persisting in saving the world by enduring the hardship of sending her boyfriend away?

To me, the central relationship of Supergirl is not Kara/Mon-El, Kara/Lena, or Alex/Maggie, but that of the Danvers sisters. They are loyal to each other but we also see an underlying tension when one sister is an alien and the other an agent whose role is to keep aliens in check. Supergirl is at its best when it remembers that.

(Still going to watch Season 3 though. And I really hope this show figures out what to do with James Olson one day. He was nowhere to be found in this episode).

Friday, August 25, 2017

Femslash Friday: Arrow, Part 2

I've changed my mind.

Regarding Arrow, now that I've made my way through more of the series, I have learned that Sara Lance and Nyssa are obviously a better pairing to ship than Sara and Felicity. I know Sara has moved on to Legends of Tomorrow, but I really hope at some point the powers-that-be will find a way to work Nyssa back into Sara's life and then, consequently, produce a spin-off centered entirely on how, together, they run a rebooted League of Assassins that quietly takes down Neo-Nazis throughout the world.

Yes, it's true that (the *koff*also-queer) Leonard Snart might have been a nice distraction for Sara, for a short period of time. And, Nyssa clearly had a thing with Sara's sister, Laurel, after Sara died and before she was resurrected.

(Errr, Arrow is complicated).

But, Sara and Nyssa are endgame. Nyssa loves Sara probably more than anyone else does, save her biological family. Certainly more than the self-centered "everything in the entire world is my fault" Oliver Queen (sorrynotsorry). Sara loves Nyssa and isn't intimidated by the whole "Heir to the Demon" thing.

Enjoy today's featured fan vid:

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Recap: Supergirl 2.21 "Resist"

This episode begins with Rhea gently waking Lena up in a very plush bed. Apparently, Rhea has been "taking care of" Lena while National City is being invaded by the Daxamite troops. Rhea says that she wants Lena by her side, presiding together over this new world. All in a completely heterosexual way, yep.


Oh. Mon-El is also with Rhea and Lena. Apparently, Rhea's master plan is to turn Earth into New Daxam and use the humans to build pyramids. She also clarifies that she wants Mon-El to marry Lena so they can produce "an heir," which can apparently be done using only their hair samples and, wow, all of this sounds so random even as a I type it, but hey. Let's go with it, I guess.

Meanwhile, the Supergirl gang meets up at Close Encounters to apprise the situation. Daddy J'onn is out of commission, Daxamite troops are roaming the streets, and Rhea's mothership is hovering over the city, just waiting to do something evil and lesbionic, I'm sure.

Lillian Luthor also pops into the picture, suggesting that she and Supergirl form an alliance to stop Rhea, but the Supergirl gang says no way. So much for stronger together, Kara.

President Wonder Woman then Skypes Rhea and demands that the Daxamites stand down. Rhea refuses and the situation begins to escalate when, prepare yourselves: *angel choir singing* CAT GRANT re-enters the picture. I repeat, Cat Grant is back in the house. Or, more specifically, she's on Air Force One with the President, because of course she is.  And the President was her "RA" at Radcliffe back in the day, because of course she was.

Winn has hacked into the Air Force One Skype session (because of course he has), so the Supergirl gang gets a front-row seat to this alpha-female showdown.


Cat begins by scolding Rhea and President Wonder Woman for acting like "testosterone-driven windbags" and says they should work together to find a harmonious solution. Rhea says no and then has her spaceship attack Air Force One. So, that's that. More importantly, however, the attack causes Cat to fall out of the plane, which causes this to happen:


Lena and Mon who? SuperCat is back, fans. Also, it has dawned on me that my revised sexual orientation is "Supergirl catching women."


*sigh*

Where was I? Oh yes. Air Force One then crashes. I guess it's a moot point that some might consider it  "weird" if it got out that Supergirl saved Cat Grant over the President, because it turns out that the President is actually an alien and was able to survive the crash. Cat's reaction: "Well at least tell me you're still a Democrat." Never change, Cat.

Later, at the resistance headquarters at Close Encounters, Cat's phone rings:

Text: "Madeline Albright"
These are some of the gems in the Supergirl script that I miss when Cat Grant isn't around. Snapper Carr's crotchety demeanor will never compare to Cat. What other TV show character unapologetically references current and former female politicians in non-contemptuous ways, without the "despite all her faults" statement that never have to be made about men? Parks and Recreation's Leslie Knope comes to mind.

ANYway, the President orders the DEO, and Acting Director Agent Danvers, to destroy the Daxamite mother ship. Supergirl is not happy, of course, since her boyfriend and girlfriend are on that ship. So, Supergirl conspires with Lillian Luthor to teleport onto the mother ship and rescue Mon-El and Lena before Alex blows the mother ship out of the sky.

For her part, Rhea threatens to destroy the Luthor Children's Hospital if Lena won't marry Mon-El, so they agree marry each other. Here is their wedding photo, where they each look as happy as if they've just been ordered to marry Beetlejuice.


Before they can say their vows, Cat transmits an Uplifting Speech to National City about resistance and not being conned by these people promising to make the city great again.If the people stay strong and united they can defeat the Daxamines. El marayah.

Cat's transmission also plays in the mother ship  (how tho?) and it interrupts the big wedding. Supergirl and Lillian free Lena and Mon-El, but Supergirl stays behind to try to talk sense into Rhea. Oh that sweet summer child, never giving up on people. The lesson here is: whyyyyyy doesn't she ever learn that some people will never change.

Meanwhile, the President has ordered Alex to fire on the mothership. And then Superman appears. What will happen next? I guess we find out in the season finale!

Deep Thought of the Week: OMG somebody made an Imagine Me and You fan-video trailer with Kara and Lena. It's the little things in life that remind me that everything isn't hopeless bullshit.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Friday Fun: That Sparring Session

My favorite Game of Thrones characters are as follows, in order:

1) Arya Stark
2) AshaYara Greyjoy
3) Brienne of Tarth

You can imagine my delight at the recent sparring sesh between Brienne and Arya:


Brienne can hold her own against The Hound and Jamie Lannister, but can barely keep up with a much-smaller, much-less-experienced teenager? I don't see it as that far-fetched, actually, and certainly not in the grand scheme of things in Westeros about which we're asked to suspend our disbelief.

In a Big v. Little fight, Arya shows that sometimes, counter-intuitively, it's safer to be in close. There, at least, she isn't at the wrong end of a large sword. It also puts her within striking distance with Needle.

Brienne, for her part, is slower, less flexible, and, at first, flustered. But, she aptly shows that a good way to deal with a smaller, quicker person is by not playing on the smaller person's terms. That is, don't let them inside in the first place. Get rid of the person in one fell swoop: a boot to the chest.

All things considered, I'm glad to see Arya somewhat has a mentor again. Now work together and do something about Littlefinger, yeah?

Also, Very Important Info:

One time, Gwendoline Christie* "liked" one of my Tweets.


*Or her social media person, but please don't ruin this for me.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Throwback Thursday To When We Were Gaslit About Bigotry

Has it only been four months since Bernie Sanders said this at an Our Revolution rally:

"Some people think that the people who voted for Trump are racists and sexists and homophobes and just deplorable folks. I don't agree. I don't agree, 'cause I've been there. Let me tell you something else some of you may not agree with, and that is: It wasn't that Donald Trump won the election; it was that the Democratic Party lost the election!"
In light of the white supremacists decked out in Trump cosplay who marched in Charlottesville this past weekend, I'd like to revisit Sanders' claim.

Read the whole thing, over at Shakesville.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Recap: Supergirl 2.20 "City of Lost Children"

Guardian re-enters the picture this episode, having a bout of superhero angst. And, I don't blame him. What is this show even doing with James/Guardian? Supergirl is reaching Arrow-levels of "make every character a hero."

Anyway, James apparently feels as though the people he saves are scared of him, while people are in awe of Superman and Supergirl. When an apparently evil telepathic alien comes into town, Guardian also seems to feel insecure about his lack of superpowers. Which, yeah, I suspect it is hard for humans to compete with flying, heat vision, ice breath, and super-strength.

However, James' human skills are needed when the evil telepathic alien's son, Marcus, needs to be interrogated. James takes the boy to his office at CatCo (ie, Cat Grant's old office, *cries*) and hangs out with him, hoping to get intel on the mom.


Meanwhile, Lena lets Kara know she's seeing another lady and I feel like Kara pretends to be okay with it but isn't, really. That is to say, things between Lena and Rhea (Mom-El) are going swimmingly, as they continue to have candlelight dinners and work together on developing the stargate thingy. I predict that Kara's going to flip her shit when she finds out that it's Rhea who has been cupping Lena's chin and giving her evil, motherly pep talks.


The Lena plot converges with the James plot when Lena finally gets the stargate up and running. When the stargate activates, something in Marcus also seems to activate, making him go all Carrie in CatCo.


When Lena powers down the stargate, the kid goes back to normal. After that, James doesn't want to interrogate the kid any longer, because Supergirl had to swoop in and save them all, once again. But, Daddy Hank gives James a pep talk, convincing him that connecting with Marcus and getting information from him can be just as heroic.

(I think a theme of this episode is positive v. negative role models)

Right on cue, Kara calls Lena, but Rhea sees Lena's cell phone ringing and answers it for her. Apparently, the CEO of L Corp doesn't password protect her phone, or she and Rhea are so U-hauled they're sharing passwords already. ANYway, Kara quickly figures out that Rhea and Lena have been working together on this secret project.

Marcus ends up opening up to James and says he can track down his mom. Simultaneously, the DEO pinpoints Lena and Rhea's location. So, the challenge is to keep Marcus and his mom from going Carrie if Rhea activates the stargate thingy.

James signs up for the mission, and Winn brings along some sort of force field generator that will keep the telepathic abilities at bay. However, when Marcus takes James and Winn to his mom, there are a bunch more telepaths there. Zoinks! Rhea, of course, activates the stargate, which causes all the telepaths to activate.

Winn's little force field generator isn't strong enough to protect all the telepaths, so James gives an Inspiring Speech to Marcus, which breaks the effect the stargate has on all the telepaths. While that is the good news, the bad news is that Rhea's little stargate endeavor was actually a plot to teleport the surviving Daxamites to Earth. Wheeee!

Those slave-holding monarchists from Daxam seem like real assholes, so I take it National City's in deep shit when Rhea starts calling it "New Daxam."
 



Deep Thought of the Week: For whatever reason (I think it's the stargate/wormhole concept), this episode reminded me of that Jodie Foster movie, Contact. Does watching a brilliant female scientist be gaslit for two and a half hours sound fun? Then you should definitely watch Contact!

Monday, August 14, 2017

Let's Not Downplay "Identity Politics"

As white supremacists continue to unabashedly rally in Trump's America, I remember the spate of liberal/left-authored articles scolding those of us with identities to ditch "identity politics."

Seven months into this current Republican administration, Democrat leadership under Chuck Schumer has been strategizing to downplay identity politics

Oddly (or not), the Politico article I link to says that "identity politics" are being downplayed to appeal to more center-right Democrats, yet in my experience, many so-called Bernie Democrats simultaneously see themselves as the far left and also want to downplay identity politics in favor of "universal' economic messaging. If the far left, the center, and the right want us to ditch "identity politics," I guess that leaves those of us with identities outside of the political spectrum altogether.

The current absurdity of today's political labels aside, I'd like to link to a previous piece I wrote about this demand to downplay identity politics, back in December 2016.  It's still relevant, and I still believe that it's a mistake to ditch identity politics, particularly when neo-nazis are emboldened enough to rally on our public streets, without hoods, because they know they have the support of the Republican Administration behind them.

Thus, my plea to our white male allies:
"....[P]lease do not ask marginalized people to endure the hostility of the Trump regime on your terms or on anyone's terms but their/our own. The white walkers are here and we are doing our best to hold the door. My question to you is, which side of it are you on?"




Thursday, August 10, 2017

A Tale of Two Memos

In his workplace, Donald Trump is reported to demand a twice-daily folder of content confirming his greatness. Via Vice:
"These sensitive papers, described to VICE News by three current and former White House officials, don’t contain top-secret intelligence or updates on legislative initiatives. Instead, the folders are filled with screenshots of positive cable news chyrons (those lower-third headlines and crawls), admiring tweets, transcripts of fawning TV interviews, praise-filled news stories, and sometimes just pictures of Trump on TV looking powerful."
In another workplace, a white man sent his colleagues a manifesto purportedly confirming the inherent superiority of white men in the industry in which he works, and lamenting reverse sexist hiring pratices. Example:
"Google's left bias has created a politically correct monoculture that maintains its hold by shaming dissenters into silence."
That probably gives you a gist of the whole thing which, yes, is 10 pages of dullard, condescending MRA-ism and lay evo-psych "analysis" presented as the courageous truth-telling of a genius.

That is to say, we have two workplace memos converging into one image:

A mediocre white man perched on a throne of presumed objectivity. The throne is in a room full of mirrors, which are being held up by women and people of color - the hoi polloi in his self-indulgent, egotistical universe. As he contemplates his innate superiority and supreme station in life, it is beyond his grasp to fathom that this reality-distorting fun house has been built precisely per his delicate specifications, and not - as he whinges every chance he gets - everyone else's.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Recap: Supergirl 2.19 "Alex"

So, Mom-El (Rhea) is back in town, this time wooing Lena. She's proposing some sort of tech collaboration with L Corp on a "trans-matter portal" and/or is hitting on Lena. On Lena's part, she doesn't yet seem to know that Mom-El is an evil space alien, because they have a romantic candlelight dinner and bond over having attended MIT.

Lena acts flustered when Mom-El makes it known that she's newly-single.  Lena says, "Regardless of what happens with business, I have a feeling we're going to be friends." Mmm-hmmm.

I'm not here to judge, folks. I'm just here to report the facts.


Later, Lena is examining Mom-El's tech designs and realizes it includes a component not found on Earth. She gets suspicious and then tricks Mom-El into taking her alien detection test, which confirms that Mom-El is, in fact, an alien. Lena kicks her out of her office and refuses to collaborate. Oh, that crafty, virtuous Lena! But then, later, Lena changes her mind. For ... reasons?

In Danvers Sisters news, Maggie and Kara bicker about the pros and cons of vigilantism v. law and order, putting Alex in the awkward position of not wanting to take sides with either her girlfriend or her sister. But then, Alex gets kidnapped, forcing Maggie and Kara to Work Together. The kidnapper wants his dad released from prison or else he'll kill Alex. Hmm, I sense an impending lesson here.


The DEO's position is that they don't negotiate with terrorists. So, they won't release the prisoner just for the sake of freeing Alex. Uh-oh. But will everyone abide by that principle? We shall see.

Supergirl first wants to kick the kidnapper's ass, but Maggie keeps a cool head. Her suggestion is to have J'onn act like the prisoner, so they can pretend they've freed him. But, the kidnapper doesn't buy it. They try other assorted measures, none of which work.

For instance, in her cell, Alex uses her credit card to MacGyver the security camera with her tracking implant (wut, where did this come from?), which sends a signal to Winn that includes the IP address of her location.


Supergirl wants to immediately swoop in and rescue Alex, as is her style, but Maggie's thinks the kidnapper is acting a little too cocky for someone who just "lost." So, she urges restraint.

Annnd, Maggie's right, because when Supergirl does swoop in, it's a trick. The IP address had been "re-routed." I guess the kidnapper did that while in DEO custody, since the DEO is apparently letting him keep his computer handy. Seriously.

The upshot is that Alex's cell begins to fill up with water, which is one of my most anxiety-provoking "character in peril" scenarios.

Now it's up to Maggie to save the gay. Desperate, she ends up ditching the "we don't negotiate with terrorist" principles and breaks the kidnapper's dad out of prison. All of this seems to happen in a matter of minutes and it's not clear how far places are from one another in National City or whether Maggie has access to trans-matter portal or something. But, let's just roll with it.

Supergirl finds Maggie and the prisoner, trying to stop Maggie from letting him go. She then gives an Inspiring Monologue, which leads the prisoner to revealing where the kidnapper might be holding Alex. Why Supergirl didn't give this speech 12 hours ago isn't entirely clear, since this is also one of her apparent super powers.


Supergirl swoops in and rescues Alex just as her cell has filled up with water.

And, I get the reversal here in that Supergirl is the one who mostly remained calm and stuck to the DEO's "we don't negotiate with terrorist" principles, but it didn't ring especially true to her character to me. At least in the instance of protecting her sister, I feel fairly certain she'd be on board with Maggie in doing whatever it took to get her back, including "negotiating with terrorists."


Deep Thought of the Week: As I continue to watch superhero shows, how does every character not have PTSD from all of the killing, violence, and near-death situations? For instance, at the end of this episode, Alex "deals with" almost dying by punching her kidnapper in the nose while he's handcuffed, which the other characters kind of chuckle at in a "he got what was coming to him" sort of way. It's not clear if that's supposed to signify that Alex's trauma has now been resolved, or whether it's more that the tone of Supergirl doesn't really allow its heroic characters to go to dark places beyond more than these superficial outbursts.

Is there any show that has effectively acknowledged the psychological impact of trauma on its characters? Jessica Jones comes to mind. And, particular episodes of Buffy stand out to me as acknowledging the full humanity of their characters, particularly the aftermath of Tara, Joyce, and Buffy's deaths. While I retain critiques of Joss Whedon's work, I think one of his great strengths in Buffy was allowing shifts in tone, from lighthearted to serious and dark, that still rang true to the series as a whole.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

America: The Broken

I have a new piece at Shakesville today, examining the degradation of our democracy:

A lesson from George W. Bush's presidency, then, is that a security crisis can confer legitimacy to a President who begins his term lacking it. And, the people will hunker down and rally behind an undeserving leader during a scary time, out of a sense of fear, loyalty, and nationalism. History shows that bad leaders will squander this trust, rather than accepting it with responsibility and grace.

For these reasons, my first point today is that we ought to be gravely concerned that the man who holds this office today is historically unpopular, obsessed with his popularity, and is widely seen as illegitimate.

My second point is that by virtue of his office, Donald Trump is now entrusted to preserve the legitimacy of the electoral system, something which, I argue, for him is an impossibility. His very ascension to that office reveals a fundamental brokenness of our democracy, the supreme rule of which his rise has confirmed to be not "the law of the land" but "win by any means."
 Read the whole thing.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Recap: Supergirl 2.18 "Ace Reporter"

This episode begins with it being a slow crime day, meaning the DEO gives Supergirl a gay off. I mean, a day off.  I mean, what I'm trying to say is that Kara's at home one day and Lena comes over for a visit.

Apparently, Lena's ex-boyfriend Jack is in town and he's invited her to his company's press conference. Lena doesn't want to go solo, so she asks Kara to accompany her. There's nothing like showing your ex that you've leveled up in the significant other department, I suppose.


Jack, it turns out is CEO of a fancy company called Spheerical that's just invented a medial nanobot thingy that helps people heal really quickly. Let me guess: there's a catch.

Yep. At the press conference, a whistleblower approaches Kara and says he has secret information about this technology. Kara later meets this person at an abandoned lot and learns that the nanobot clinical trials were faked, so the tech may be unsafe. On cue, a swarm of nanobots attack the car and kill the whistleblower.

Snapper makes a reappearance this episode and snarks at "Ponytail" about her blog whenever he sees her. Kara doesn't let it get to her. Instead, she uses her super hearing to find out he's meeting with a nanobot test subject and then, she uses her levitation and x-ray vision skills to eavesdrop on Snapper's interview. HA HA.

During the interview, a nanobot swarm comes to attack the test subject. Supergirl stops the swarm with her freezing breath:


Supergirl saves Snarky Snapper, but the swarm breaks free. Whatever Spheerical has unleashed upon the world doesn't look good. (This looks like a job for Alex and Eliza Danvers but they're not around I guess!)

Meanwhile, Jack is really persistent with Lena and they go to dinner together. Kara wants to interrogate Jack in light of recent events (and check on her girl), so she and Mon-El 100% non-creepily crash the dinner date.

*Interlude for a brief moment of appreciation for Lena Luthor's expressive eyebrows, which deserve their own panel at comic-con*


Jack and Lena then go back to Lena's place and kiss. Whyyyyyyy. But, Mon-El and Kara had snatched Jack's security badge, and later that night they break into his office. Kara sits down at the computer in his office and immediately guesses his password on the first try (LOL). Apparently, it was "Starling." I don't get it. What am I missing? Is it a reference to how Kara looks like computer-geek Felicity Smoak on Arrow, which is based in Starling City? (please say yes):

Felicity
It gets better because Kara then easily finds the folders for the clinical trial data because the folder was probably named Super Sekret Stuff and was sitting on the desktop. In the folder, she opens up a video of Jack transcribing his research notes. It turns out there were no human trials and he injected the nanobots into himself. So, Jack basically IS the nanobot swarm.

The next day, Kara shows Lena the video. Kara makes Lena promise she won't see Jack anymore, and Lena promises. Hmmmm. I have a bad feeling here. And true enough, Lena confronts Jack at his office. It turns out the real villain is Beth, Spheerical's CFO, and she's actually controlling Jack through the nanobots. In true DC Villain form, Beth then reveals her master plan of using the nanobots to take over the world. Now that she's revealed her plan, she's sure to die or land in prison, I'm sure. These narrative revelations serve the purpose of telling us how bad things would be if the villain were to get away with, replacing arcs where we're actually shown how bad things are at a later date.

Supergirl swoops in, because of course she does, but the nanobots attack her. While they're doing that, Lena gets into "the mainframe." I feel like whenever non-techy people write about computer stuff on TV shows, they always reference "the mainframe." It's basically become a synonym for "the thing that stops the villain." Thus, Lena uses "the mainframe" to shut down the nanobots, killing Jack in the process.

Kara also turns over her reporting notes to Snapper, I guess because she wants the story to go through a legit news source, rather than her blog. Snapper then writes a story and gives her a byline on it. She also gets her job back at CatCo.

Oh, the other notable event of this episode is that James, Winn, and Lyra seem to be in a poly relationship.


Deep Thought of the Week: The nanobot swarm in this episode reminds me of the swarm in Black Mirror episode "Hated In the Nation."  Hmm, a new TV series to recap, after Supergirl?

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Today in the Low Bar For White Men

I was mostly struck by Dianne Feinstein's recent tweet because I realized when I saw it how rare it's been for politicians to stand up for 2016 popular vote winner Hillary Clinton:



White male Democrats especially have been throwing Clinton under the bus, repeating Trump/Republican talking points about how Clinton supposedly "was not a great candidate," that she should take sole responsibility for the electoral college loss, and that she was incorrect when she said some Trump voters were deplorable.

Meanwhile, on the day Republican John McCain, and Trump yes-man, returned from his taxpayer-funded surgery to vote to take healthcare away from millions of people, right after politicians across the political spectrum spent the previous week singing his praises and expressing well-wishes for his health:


Friday, July 28, 2017

GLOW Friday

Who is watching GLOW on Netflix?

I just finished Season 1 and found it pretty entertaining, but I'm a sucker for women's sports entertainment and TV/Movies Featuring a Strong Female Lead.  What a strong opening scene in the pilot, critiquing the roles available for women in Hollywood.

My only complaint at the moment is that there's like, what, 15 women in the cast? So, why does it seem like approximately 50% of the lines and screen-time go to the male director guy? That might be an exaggeration, but we could have delved more into the other characters' back stories. Although, perhaps Season 2 will head in that direction.

More importantly, I guess the original Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling did an opening rap before their matches. Now, if you ask me why so many white people rapped in the '80s, I have no answer. I was just a kid. But yes, that was some weird shit.

See for yourself (and the rapping is only like the 10th weirdest thing about this):

Thursday, July 27, 2017

TBT: The Actual World We Live In

My oh my has it really been just one year since I hollered out this friendly reminder:
"SO SORRY TO YELL BUT IN THE UNLIKELY EVENT GREEN PARTY CANDIDATE JILL STEIN WERE ELECTED PRESIDENT HERE IS A REMINDER THAT THE ABILITY TO IMPLEMENT HER LOFTY, PURE PLATFORM WOULD BE SEVERELY IMPEDED BY NOT HAVING GREEN PARTY MEMBERS IN CONGRESS THAT'S ALL THANKS BYEEEEE!"
Update!

Earlier this week, Republicans approved a motion to begin debating the various ways they want to dismantle Obamacare. Every single Democrat in the Senate opposed this motion. This outcome should underscore two facts about the world in which we live:

(1) Democrats and Republicans are not, in fact, "just the same" or "just as bad as one another." (And, as I wrote last year, Jill Stein herself was a 91% "on the issues" match with Hillary Clinton, but *incoherent mumbling about neoliberals*);

and

(2) It is the height of absurdity to think that Jill Stein, or let's be real Bernie Sanders, could have waltzed in as President, having inherited this Republican-controlled Congress, and implemented single-payer healthcare. Although, I have to admit, it would be entertaining to watch Stein interact with Mitch McConnell and the Republicans, if only because she'd have to actually acknowledge their existence and obstructionism in the real world.

The larger point here is that presidents are not dictators in the US, at least not yet, although Donald seems to be trying his damndest.

So, every four years when the Green Party or whoever-the-fuck candidate with zero allies in Congress comes around promising some non-violent political revolution, particularly to the politically uninformed, it's worth pointing out that their platforms likely could never be implemented during their term in office without a major influx of allies in both Congress and the Judiciary.

Could they lay the groundwork for future progress? Sure. But that's something else entirely than the revolution these charlatans so often promise.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Recap: Supergirl 2.17 "Distant Sun"

So, apparently Kara and Mon-El are back together. I guess that happened in the crossover episode with the Flash or something? I don't know, but at least he cooks now and makes her breakfast in the morning. His parents are still in the picture, too, hovering in orbit in their spaceship.

In queer news, Maggie and Alex are also now "that couple" who do yoga together. AND, Maggie's ex is also in town and I have to say, she bears a resemblance to Alex. This is her, being "that person" who is wielding a ginormous umbrella even though it has stopped raining:


They make plans to have dinner, the three of them. Whyyyyyyy.  But alas, the ex stands them up. Alex later finds the ex, confronts her, and 100% non-creepily demands to know why she was a no-show. It turns out, Maggie had cheated on the ex back in the day, and seeing Maggie brought up too many bad memories. Oh. Well then. This revelation was news to Alex.

Meanwhile, the bad aliens of the week are some bounty hunters who have arrived to kill Supergirl. One of the aliens gives Mon-El the Vex mind-control treatment, forcing him to attack Supergirl. So, now Mon-El and Supergirl are fighting, confirming that no couple on this show can ever be happy for longer than brief 2-minute breakfast interludes.


The gang stops the alien, however, and he tells them that some Daxamites have paid him to kill Supergirl. Presumably, these Daxamites are Mon-El's parents. Mon-El then suggests that he and Kara run away to another planet. And sorry, but um, no. We need her here on Earth, thanks.

Instead, Mon-El and Supergirl decide to talk to Mama Mon-El (Mom-El?) at the Fortress of Solitude.


They plead with her to call off the bounty out of the kindness of her heart. LOL, oh Supergirl you sweet summer child.

It turns out, however, that Mom-El had brought some kryptonite with her and she begins attacking Supergirl with it. Mon-El then says he'll go back to Daxam with his parents if they'll just leave Supergirl alone. And poof, just like that, he's gone.

Defying the President's orders to not go after the Daxamites, Winn helps Supergirl get on board the Daxam ship by building her a portal thingy. I love how Winn's position at CatCo was "IT Guy," but he's now apparently the DEO's top computer, hacking, astrophysics, and weapons expert. It's like if the writers give him a witty retort each and every time he introduces whatever techno-ma-bob will save the day, viewers maybe won't notice the absurdity. I mean, there was at least a time when the Alex's Ex Agent fulfilled some of these duties.

ANYWAY, the larger point is that Supergirl uses the portal to get to the Daxamite ship and begins fighting Mom-El and her sais of kryptonite:


But wait, we learn that it was actually J'onn (who had shape-shifted into Supergirl) who boarded the ship! That's always a fun trick. Mon-El's dad stops the fight and seems to finally accept that Mon-El belongs on Earth with his new family.

Back at Alex's place, Alex pours herself a stiff drink and confronts Maggie about her pattern of keeping secrets. However, it takes a nice unexpected turn when, instead of being judgmental, Alex is mostly understanding. She gets that when Maggie's parents rejected her, she began having trouble trusting that people would accept her even though she's not perfect.

In conclusion, it turns out the President (played by Lynda Carter, whooop!) is actually a White Martian, and Mom-El kills Dad-El for letting Mon-El stay on Earth. That was a mouthful. BYEEEE!


Deep Thought of the Week: Lost Girl fans might have picked up the reference to Vex one of the anti-heroes of the show, and whose fae trait was mind-control. I miss that show, is it time for a reboot yet? Too soon?  Also, preferred manslash ship and video: Vex/Mark). Do people ship m/m pairings from Supergirl? Who would that be? I mean, Winn, obviously. But who else?

Friday, July 21, 2017

Important Lesbian Sports News

Via ESPN, pro basketball player Sue Bird has revealed that she's been dating pro soccer player Megan Rapinoe.

I think the lede is buried, however:
"Bird might be in the fourth quarter of her basketball career -- at 36, she is the oldest player in the WNBA and is in her 15th season with the Seattle Storm -- but she is expertly managing the clock. She has never been in better shape and isn't talking about retirement anytime soon."
That is kind of amazing.

But seriously, congratulations, ladies.


Thursday, July 20, 2017

Twitter Response to Abuse Slow and Inconsistent

Earlier this week, Buzzfeed ran an article on Twitter's response to abuse that occurs on its platform.

For those unfamiliar with the process for reporting abuse on Twitter, the platform does allow users to report other users and tweets for abusive content. Once a report is filed and before Twitter makes a determination about the abuse report, Twitter suggests tips for making "your Twitter experience safer," including not further engaging with the abusive user, using the block function, using the mute function, and contacting law enforcement.

These are all tips that most users, particularly those who receive heavy amounts of abuse, are already aware of. Indeed, I would think that most people who file abuse reports do so because these tips are actually not helpful in resolving the types of abuse they might be experiencing on Twitter, particularly because people continually devise ways to game the few tools Twitter does give people to help deal with abuse.

For instance, many abusers create alternate accounts on Twitter specifically so they can view, screenshot, and re-tweet content posted by other users who have blocked them. In that way, the block function is rendered less effective, as a blocked user can still direct harassment and abuse to other users.

The Buzzfeed article, linked above, highlights an example in which a woman, named Maggie, blocked someone on Twitter and yet that person had, ostensibly by logging in with a different account, taken a screenshot of her Twitter profile picture and photoshopped her face into the crosshairs of a gunsight. This image was then retweeted by another user who found her on Facebook and tweeted her location. Twitter did not deem this behavior to be a violation of its rules.

However, Twitter then later suspended the offending account, after having been contacted by Buzzfeed:
"Though the suspension ultimately granted Maggie some peace of mind, her process of getting justice is one of many examples that show a frustrating pattern for victims — one in which Twitter is slow or unresponsive to harassment reports until they’re picked up by the media."
So, I have two bigger-picture points to make.

One, Twitter was extremely quick to monetize and grow its platform. It's been much slower to put adequate resources into helping its users deal with abuse perpetuated on the platform. Anecdotally, in speaking with other Twitter users, the response to reports is pretty inconsistent - with the same type of behavior sometimes being found abusive, and other times not, seemingly dependent upon who reviews the report.

Two, as Twitter does roll out new tools to help users deal with abuse, it's clear that abusers will likewise adapt to these tools. Twitter, and the people hired to handle abuse reports, need to have a nuanced and evolving understanding of the ways people use its platform to inflict abuse on others.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Recap: Supergirl 2.16 "Star-Crossed"

There's trouble in rom-com paradise for the Scooby gang.

First, some aliens have come to Earth under the belief that Mon-El is being held captive, and they're demanding his release. It's odd, because Mon-El isn't being held captive and, supposedly, he's the last survivor from his home planet Daxam.

Supergirl is confused. But, when they beam her and Mon-El up to their ship, she finds out that, whoops, Mon-El was not actually a palace guard on his home planet, as he had claimed. He was the prince. And, the aliens who have arrived are his parents.


They all have dinner together and it's tense. For one, Mon-El had lied about his past. Two, Mon-El's parents are pro-slavery. And three, the only reason he survived his home planet's explosion was because of his privileged status as prince. As people were dying around him, he was ushered to an escape pod. Supergirl leaves the dinner, disgusted with all of them.

Then, Lyra convinces Winn to break into a museum so they can supposedly have "hot museum sex." Okay.

The next day, Winn is in a good mood because he got laid or whatever and is proceeding to be the most annoying co-worker imaginable. The DEO, it seems, has an open floor plan and he's loudly singing "Celebrate good times, come on." His co-workers do a bemused eye-roll instead of telling him to STFU. Then, when his cell phone rings, he takes a personal call and has a loud cellphone convo.


Well, on the call, Winn finds out that someone stole Van Gogh's "Starry Night" from the museum the previous night, and the security footage shows him there, but not Lyra. Maggie interviews him at the police station and is convinced that Lyra framed him. She gives the Scoobies some time to track down Lyra.

Also, Lyra is the type of alien who apparently doesn't appear in photographs or videos, which is why only Winn showed up in the security video. Hmm, now that you mention it, Lyra does bear a resemblance to Buffy-verse vampires:
 

Winn, Alex, and The Guardian then track down Lyra and she confesses to Winn that she duped him. It's sort of sad because Winn seemed really happy in a relationship for once.

The DEO ends up capturing her, but Winn helps her escape so she can sell the painting to the art dealer. There's a story she concocts about having a brother who is being held hostage or something, which is why she had to steal the painting. Winn, The Guardian, and the DEO help get the brother back, and it turns out she was at least honest about that. Winn forgives her.

Later, Mon-El's mom has a talk with Kara. She implies that Kryptonians are sort of snobby and judgemental toward Daxamites. I guess because Kryptonians disapprove of slavery? It also seems odd that a literal member of a royal family would call someone snobby, but hey, we live in weird times my friends.

Mon-El and Kara then talk. Mon-El gives a monologue about how he used to be a rich, spoiled brat but that changed when Kara made him a better man or whatever. Kara says she can't trust Mon-El anymore, however, and breaks up with him. He then tells his parents that Kara broke up with him, but that he's going to stay on Earth anyway.

To end, there is then some weird crossover shit with the Flash series, which I haven't seen. There are so many DC-verse shows on right now that it's impossible to keep up BYE.
  

Deep Thought of the Week: I worry about James. I like that he questions Mon-El's heroism, because that's on point, but what are they doing with him this season, really? Like, what is the larger story arc for The Guardian? At some point is he just going to get hurt really bad, confirming Kara's belief that he shouldn't try to be a hero? Does he have a love life? What happened to Lucy Lane?

Friday, July 14, 2017

It's Happening! L Word Reboot.

The L Word is coming back. Supposedly. I'll believe it when I see it (And I hope I do):
"Based on the original series, the reboot of 'The L Word' would center around a new ensemble of women, following their lives, loves and tribulations. However, if the project is greenlit, stars Jennifer Beals, Kate Moennig and Leisha Hailey are expected to serve as executive producers and appear in the series with their characters as a point of connection from the prior series to the new one. Other characters from the original series may also appear in the new version."
I know queer women are already making wish lists with respect to the reboot. So, here's mine: more ensemble scenes and more sportzball playing.

Never forget the scene that best captures each character's unique persona: The Basketball Game.

There's Shane not giving a fuck; Jenny drinking coffee, smoking a cig, and screaming when a ball comes her way; Bette being ultra-competitive; Papi dunking (LOL sure); Tina whining that Bette's "fouling" her; Alice being a spaz when she gets the ball; Dana being.... oh wait not there because she was killed off and I'm still not over it thankyouverymuch.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Donald Trump: Christian Culture Warrior

I have a piece up today at Shakesville regarding the massive support Donald Trump has among white Evangelical Christians:

"Hey everyone, there's sure a lot going on! Don't forget that 81% of white Evangelical Christian voters chose Trump in the 2016 election.

Now, to imagine Donald as a religious being is to conceive of an absurdity. Not because bad people can't be religious, in fact they often are, but rather because by many accounts he simply is not a contemplative person and doesn't read. Well, I guess there's one topic he reads about:

"Trump’s desk is piled high with magazines, nearly all of them with himself on their covers, and each morning, he reviews a pile of printouts of news articles about himself that his secretary delivers to his desk."
Yet, during presidential campaign rallies, he began claiming that the Bible was his favorite book. In an interview, when pressed, he had the following to say in response to a question about his favorite verse:
"'I wouldn't want to get into it. Because to me, that's very personal,' Trump said in the Wednesday sit-down.

'The Bible means a lot to me, but I don't want to get into specifics,' he said.

When asked whether he prefers the Old Testament or the New Testament, Trump said, 'probably equal.'

'I think it's just … incredible, the whole Bible…' he said."
I'll bet."

Read the whole thing!


Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Quote of the Day: The Cyber-Troll Profile

In my ongoing series on Internet culture, Australian researchers have examined the personality profiles of cyber-trolls. Although the study uses the term "troll," I don't like the term as it sort of minimizes what the abuser is doing - inflicting abuse and harm, deliberately.

Via the journal Personality and Individual Differences, the researchers first note that those on the receiving end of anti-social Internet behavior experience similar negative outcomes as though who receive face-to-face abuse. That is, what happens on the Internet is, actually, real, despite what current sociopathic narratives and memes posit.

Also:
"Both affective empathy and cognitive empathy (but not social skills) significantly predicted trolling behaviours. Affective empathy was a significant negative predictor of trolling behaviour, corroborating previous research that individuals lower on affective empathy measures are more likely to engage in antisocial behaviour (Warden & MacKinnon, 2003). This negative relationship between affective empathy and trolling suggests that trolls may not experience or internalise the emotional experience of their victims. This is likely a crucial aspect to trolling – if trolls empathised with their victim, perhaps they would be more likely to reduce or refrain from engaging in the behaviour.
....Based on the results of the current study, the prototypical troll is male, high in trait psychopathy and sadism, and has low affective empathy. The interaction of trait psychopathy and high cognitive empathy suggests trolls really are the master online manipulators – they cognitive understand the emotional distress they cause through their trolling behaviour without empathising with their victim's emotional suffering."
I think that final line is important to remember. Many "trolls" understand that their targets might be feeling upset, sad, angry, or hurt - they just don't care.

When people don't give a fuck about the harm they inflict on other people, that will almost always give them the upper hand in online interactions because they are playing by a different, anti-social set of rules than you are.


Monday, July 10, 2017

Amazing Coincidences In Troll Behavior!

It remains a real mystery as to why heavy troll, bot, and harassment often occurs around the same time big news is about to break regarding Donald Trump's potential collusion with Russia in the 2016 election, in which he lost the popular vote.

Meanwhile, the "Hot Take Appreciator" harassment account has, once again, directed their leftist wanking fanboys my way over the weekend.

Needless to say, I blocked more Twitter users in one day than I usually do in a matter of months. I do sometimes wonder why this sad troll-person spends time even stalking my timeline. I have her blocked, but she follows me through an alt-account to monitor my posts, so she can then misinterpret anything conceivably "problematic" to screenshot and tweet out to her "leftist" followers.

I usually know she's tweeted about me again when white man after white man busts into my mentions like the Kool-Aid Man, raging about some weeks- or months-old Tweet of mine, mansplaining to me what a "centrist" I am for not Feeling The Bern.

Yes, it's true that I'm far from a Big Influencer in the Twitterverse or elsewhere. I didn't even make the Bernista "Corporate Shill" hit list of shame. But, some people just need other sociopathic Internet hobbies, I guess?

More to the point of today's post, it appears I'm not the only one who sees regular trolling upticks from time to time.


Melissa McEwan has aptly pointed out that Donald's collusion has been happening in plain sight,  mostly notably by him publicly inviting Russia to hack the State Department. Neither that nor the increasing evidence of collusion stops many on the left and right from gaslighting us about this issue.

I suspect that this post, too, will be screenshot and tweeted to "Hot Take's" followers, so they can have a good guffaw at the loony, hysterical woman who believes all of this Russia mumbo-jumbo.

What's sad is how easily leftist purity trolls, particularly frothing white men, allow their misogyny to be weaponized, leading them into the role of "useful idiot." As Aphra Behn at Shakesville aptly noted, the left fell hook, line, and sinker for Russian propaganda during the 2016 election. It would be foolish to think that has stopped.

All some people, like "Hot Take," have to do is render the worst faith reading of a progressive woman's Tweet and my oh my how quickly the leftist hating begins.

Shill! Neolib! Dem! Centrist! Harry Potter!

(Leftist men hate Harry Potter. Or rather, they hate that "lib women" like Harry Potter. More generally they hate when women like non-Bernie things, things that aren't about the One True Revolution! Liking pop culture is a sign of vapidity, to them. That they too might play video games or listen to music or like pop culture is of no consequence, you see, because they have "roses" in their Twitter bios, which is how they signal to others that they are Oh Wise Enlightened Ones.)

I've been monitoring and documenting the aggregate data in Fannie's Room and, you should know, from time to time I see upticks in hits from Russia. These upticks often correspond with increases in both "leftist" trolling and Big News on the Russia/Trump front, like this weekend's news that Donald Jr. met with a Russian who promised damaging info on his dad's election opponent, Hillary Clinton.

I suspect that one day those of us who care about treason will be vindicated by posterity. Perhaps not anytime soon. But one day.

In the meantime, block early. Block often. Don't spend your weekends arguing with bad faith Internet "socialists" on Twitter.