Friday, December 9, 2016

That Christina Hoff Sommers Washington Post Piece

Did you catch it?  As she is wont to do, she helpfully advises feminists that if they/we stop being hysterical, then maybe people would listen to us for once.

I'm not linking to her article, but I have some suggested improvements for it. Check out my full post, over at Shakesville.

Flashback Femslash Friday: San Junipero

Okay, this one is a quasi-flashback, I guess.

Has Feminist Internet already talked about the Black Mirror episode "San Junipero"? I'm sure pre-Nov. 8th I had some really deep thoughts about it, but now all I can think is how I want to figure out how to get plugged into San Junipero.

Now that we're in a Buffy-esque hellscape like in "Dopplegangland," the ultimate in escapism seems like one of three viable strategies for enduring the next four years.

(In case you're wondering, the other two options are "channel my inner Vampire Willow" and "stay, resist and fight." I suspect I will do a combo of all three, in reality.)

Anyway, have people watched Black Mirror yet? What do you think?

Talk about this or other stuff!

Thursday, December 8, 2016

On SEK and Academic Blogging

I only knew him as the blogger SEK from Lawyers, Guns, and Money, a blog at which I've long lurked/read, but Scott Eric Kaufman passed away in November.  My sincere condolences to his friends, family, and the readers who came to know him through his writing.

In his tribute post, Paul Campos, also at Lawyers, Guns, and Money, references one of SEK's pieces about blogging from nearly 10 years ago. Because I'm eternally interested in this topic, I thought I'd share it with you. In it, SEK, who had a PhD, writes:
"Over the past three years [blogging], I’ve learned what it’s like to write in a way most academics never have: namely, for an audience. If this seems like a simple point, that’s because it is. Nor is it one of those profoundly simple points, either: it’s straight simple. When a blogger sits down to slave on her dissertation, article, or book, she doesn’t turn her back on the public sphere. Because in the end, the public sphere is us.
I’m talking about the communities we currently have, only five years in the future, when we’re scattered around the country, unable to communicate face-to-face, but still connected, still intellectually intimate, because we’ll still regularly be engaged with each other’s thoughts. But I’m not only talking about us. There’s no reason our community needs to consist solely of people we knew in grad school. Why not write for people who don’t already how you think about everything? Why not force yourself to articulate your points in such a way that strangers could come to know your thought as intimately as your friends from grad school do?"
I have about 50 or so blogs in my Feedly. Some of these are written by academics, by which I suppose I mean people who are adjuncts or who have faculty appointments in higher education. Most, like me, are not.

The academic blogs I most enjoy tend to be those where the writers engage with their blog readerships. I say that while also realizing that some writers may be shy, may be too busy to engage, or there may be too many comments to respond to. I also wonder if, in some cases, there is an assumption that it's the role of the academic to lecture and the readers to listen, with the readers interacting only with each other. That is: an expectation of monologue rather than dialogue.

Whatever the case, I appreciate SEK's point: imagine more academics engaging with wider audiences in, outside of classrooms and academic journals. 

I'm currently re-reading Paulo Freire's Pedagogy of the Oppressed, which I first read circa 2004.  I'm not sure what Freire would have thought about the Internet being used for what he describes. But, in nearly 10 years of blogging I do see people coming together in dialogue to learn to name their oppressive lived experiences. At least, that is, they can do so when those with oppressor/dominator mentalities are excluded from the conversation.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Recap Wednesday: Supergirl 1.8 "Hostile Takeover"

Important episode beginning: Astra is back. Yessss! I can't help it, I like her. Partly because she's a nuanced villain, partly because you know she's the evil twin because of her stripe of white hair like in Gremlins, and partly because in my headcanon she's Alex's "bad girl secret lover."  

Anyway, Astra and her minions are trying to recruit Supergirl into whatever their master plan is, which I'm sure we'll find out about ASAP because what superhero-genre villain can ever keep their master plan a secret? Supergirl, being 100% puppy pureness, is not having any of Astra's nonsense, however.

She's baaack.
Meanwhile at Catco, Cat's emails have been hacked, putting her at risk of public humiliation. So, Cat asks Kara to go through all of her emails ever to flag anything that might be used against her. Of note, Cat also refers to Winn as "that handsome little hobbit who has more cardigans than [Kara does]." Tee-hee.

Anyway, the emails are largely benign, but still somewhat embarrassing since they also weren't meant for public consumption (welp). For instance, in one, she calls CatCo's board chair Dirk, "the walking personification of white male privilege." Which, I trust Cat's take on such matters.

Kara then actually overhears Dirk talking after a meeting and discovers that he's the one responsible for the hack. Winn then hacks into Dirk's files to find evidence of this, and thus slightly redeems himself from last week's nerd-rage meltdown.

At the DEO, we are privy to a Supergirl/Alex sparring session, which is always a nice addition to life in general. During it, Alex questions whether Supergirl has the capacity to kill Astra, her aunt, if needed. We then see a flasback to Krypton that offers insight into some Zor-El family dynamics. It seems that the Krypton was on the verge of environmental destruction. Astra had been a radical environmentalist (or something) and she and her husband Non killed a guard while trying to make a larger point about saving the planet.

Later, Astra and Supergirl have a combat encounter. At one point, Supergirl has the chance to kill her, but she's unwilling to (see above, re: puppy pureness). Instead, she hauls Astra to the DEO bad alien jail. While there, Astra tells Supergirl that she wants to save Earth from environmental destruction and that she wants help. Supergirl is super confused and angsty about all this, so Alex comforts her.

Sisters gotta hug.
Aside from Cat mentoring Kara, the Alex/Kara sister relationship is one of my favorites of the show, as they consistently have each others' backs. Is this rare, to have two women be consistently loyal to each other? This seems rare on TV. 

Later, while going through Cat's emails, it's discovered that Cat has a secret 24-year-old son, Adam, who she didn't raise. In order to shield Adam from media attention, Cat says she's going to resign from CatCo.

*insert my eternal screaming*

Before Cat can resign, James, Winn, and Lucy swoop in to save the day with proof that Dirk was behind the hacked emails, so Cat doesn't have to resign after all! Cat also tells Lucy, who is Lois Lane's sister, "Congratulations, you got the looks." Which, is probably fair, and also causes James to make this face:

Okay, but wait. On the hacked email front, I can suspend my disbelief about a lot, but I love the notion that Dirk would have laid out his master hacking plan while using his CatCo corporate email account and on his CatCo computer. Way to go, dipshit. But then again, what do you expect from "the walking personification of white male privilege"? Dudes think they can get away with anything. (And see what I mean about villains always blabbing about their evil schemes?)

At the DEO, Alex and Hank/J'onn interrogate Astra. I might be imagining some Astra/Alex subtextual eye contact and sexual tension. Perhaps, I might even be over-reacting in order to eradicate the thought of Alex and he-who-shall-not-be-named from my brain. Then again, I might not be.

Speaking of subtext, the episode ends with Cat confronting Supergirl, letting her know that she's on to her superhero secret identity (!!!!).  In my headcanon, this is also the point where Cat says, "And on top of knowing that you're Supergirl, I also know that you want me. I feel the same way. But, if we're going to date, you can no longer work for me, so I'm going to tap into my network of power lesbians to help you get a position with a media firm that doesn't directly compete with CatCo." (Or something, it's not like I've thought about it very much geeez).

Anyway, Cat points to the all the times Kara has come to her rescue and how, basically, Supergirl and Kara have never been in the same room together. Cat asks Kara to take off her glasses, which Kara does, and ... it's marvelous. Marvelous, I tell you.

"To me, you are perfect"

I found this scene reminiscent of the old Christopher Reeve movie Superman II, where Lois Lane confronted Clark Kent about possibly being Superman. She tested him by "falling" over a railing at Niagara Falls, and Clark saved her (albeit without using his powers) and then they made sweet sweet love in the hotel room. In Supergirl, I want for Cat to jump over the balcony, Kara to save her, and then for them to go back into Cat's room for a proper nightcap.

Is that too much to ask? I think not. Now good day to you. I SAID GOOD DAY.

Deep Thought of the Week: Okay, the plot of a jerky dude hacking into a competent female leader's emails to try to bring her down is too much for me to bear in my pop culture right now. SO my afterlude this week is to watch this Cat/Kara fan vid, set to the song "Titanium."

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Quote of the Year: On Human Ugliness

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie gets it, a sample from her New Yorker piece:
"Now is the time to resist the slightest extension in the boundaries of what is right and just. Now is the time to speak up and to wear as a badge of honor the opprobrium of bigots. Now is the time to confront the weak core at the heart of America’s addiction to optimism; it allows too little room for resilience, and too much for fragility. Hazy visions of 'healing' and 'not becoming the hate we hate' sound dangerously like appeasement. The responsibility to forge unity belongs not to the denigrated but to the denigrators. The premise for empathy has to be equal humanity; it is an injustice to demand that the maligned identify with those who question their humanity."
She ends by noting that ugly ideas, gone unchallenged, start to "turn the color of normal."

Human cruelty has existed forever. But, I think about this quote, ugly ideas "turn[ing] the color of normal," and wonder how the Internet might have changed cruelty, or at least given us another avenue for the widespread expression of it.

[content note: ableism, bullying]

As an exercise in empathy (or something) a couple of weeks ago, I tried my hand at civil dialogue with a Trump supporter who was all over the place expressing glee that "Killary" was going to prison. Within minutes, without provocation, he began gloating about my "libtard tears."

I think of our soon-to-be Internet-Bully-In-Chief. I think of how cruelty and the expression of it on the Internet are perhaps enabled by (even well-intentioned) utterances of "don't feed the trolls."

And so the comments, full of human ugliness, sit there unchallenged, with other humans indifferent to it, hurt by it, enabled by it, accustomed to it, emboldened by it.