Thursday, July 11, 2013

Blog Update

Yeah, I've been neglecting this blog in favor of the YouTube channel, no doubt. The thing is, people respond and engage more on YouTube, so I have more incentive to keep up with YouTube than this blog. I'd still like to have some items in the text medium, though, so I'm going to keep blogging, just probably not here. I've made a Tumblr blog, and I'm hopeful that it give me a better experience. I'll be reposting Blogspot posts there along with new stuff. I probably won't blog here again. (I don't know; maybe sometimes.)

Edit: On second thought, I could still post here as well so as to not mess up anyone's RSS feeds. It's not like I've never cross-posted things. Just, I find it difficult to keep up with posting blog posts, so when I eventually forget to come back here, try the Tumblr link.

Edit 2: Yeeaah... That didn't happen. Go to Tumblr.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Defense of Feminist Frequency

When I made my “Criticism of Feminist Frequency”, I was careful to be very respectful. After all, Feminist Frequency inspired me to come on YouTube myself. My problem was never with Anita Sarkeesian herself, just some of the things she put out there through her channel, and I did praise her a few times. This, however, has escaped the notice of some users who read the title, deemed I was like-minded, and sent me their stuff utterly trashing Feminist Frequency and the woman behind it. Let me now make it abundantly clear that I support Feminist Frequency and think Anita Sarkeesian needs to make a million more videos to make up for the roar of anti-feminism that saturates the media. I’ll now address a few of the antis’ issues with Feminist Frequency, including: her unworn video game controller, her gathering funding through Kickstarter, the idea that the raging torrent of misogyny against her was deserved, and that she knowingly used it as a fundraising technique.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Disgusting Article on Christina Reber's Domestic Violence

(See also the video version: Part 1 and Part 2)

There was an article published in the American news site The Daily Caller, about a man who was the victim of domestic violence when his ex-girlfriend Christina Reber severely injured his testicular region. Despite the seriousness of the incident, the article, titled “Angry ex-girlfriend goes ballistic, rips off man’s scrotum” and written by female author Taylor Bigler, is disturbingly light in tone and attempts to use the incident as a point of humor. The following is my analysis of it from a feminist perspective, as was requested by a user.

The very first words are “Talk about a ball-buster” in a sentence that is its own paragraph as if this were the start of a description of something very silly. There is then a description of the attack with quotes from the victim and police report.  Bigler obviously found this very funny, because following this description is a sentence beginning with “As if this story isn’t already good enough”. You know, I fail to see anything good in a savage attack. What she then adds is that the hospital he was rushed to has “ball” in the title. The wrap-up then has the line “breaking his balls”, which is a repetition of the first joke, immediately preceding a note that the victim is afraid there may be permanent damage. Come to think of it, the title’s word “ballistic” is probably a “ball” pun as well.

This article is disgraceful. No one should be that disrespectful to a victim of assault, but it is especially bad that it is a person in a position of some authority to inform and to influence. Bigler should know better.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Trope: Folkloric Psychopathy

One of the things I find most annoying in popular storytelling is how people don’t seem to understand that psychopathy both exists and has a lot of scientific literature based around defining it. People often treat psychopaths like vampires or werewolves: some folklore figure that can be defined by the individual author. Vampires didn’t look handsome until Bela Lugosi, they didn’t die in the sun until Nosferatu, and it wasn’t the sun that killed them until the 1958 Hammer Dracula. Since then, vampire movies play around with the seductive figure and the aversion to sunlight, making them have everything from eyesight unsuited to bright light to diamond skin that sparkles. Writers have free reign with the vampire myth because there are no real vampires out in the world. For some reason, writers seem to think that psychopathy is also just a popular story that they can play around with, which can have some problematic consequences.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Pet Peeve: Vanilla Anti-Feminists Refusing to Admit Ignorance

As a feminist, I oppose most pornography, as the mainstream items contain heavy patriarchal bias. Often when discussing this or even just alluding to it, some ignorant guy determined to show the feminist that men don’t hate women will shout that mainstream pornography isn’t patriarchal because some guys like femdom exists. As a masochist, I know a thing or two about BDSM. I can speak at length about how BDSM fits into mainstream culture and what I deem negative exports, but I can’t get far with these guys, because they don’t really know about BDSM themselves. All they know is that some guys like something called femdom, which looks kind of matriarchal to them, so therefore they don’t think patriarchy exists.

The really infuriating thing, though, is that they refuse to own up to their ignorance and ask questions. Instead, they just assume that the feminist is wrong and seize the chance to make fun of those loony feminists coming up with their own wacky ideology that includes terms like ‘topping from the bottom’, ‘edgeplay’, ‘vanilla’, ‘sissification’, and the acronym ‘BDSM’ itself. Just because they never heard of it, they think it doesn’t exist, and they think it’s perfectly reasonable to make this big show about how they’re talking to some unreasonable person who believes ‘topping from the bottom’ actually means something and how we’re talking about sadomasochism, not whatever the hell BDSM is. Oh how unfairly treated they are by the wacky feminist!

You know how to act when someone says something you don’t recognize? You say, “I’m sorry, but could you define that before you move on? Thank you.” As Will Wheaton would say, “Don’t be a dick.”

These people are breathtakingly stupid, and they are of low moral character for their insistence on causing pain to their opponent. FSM, this pisses me off!

Friday, October 5, 2012

My Version of an Environmentalist Story

I'm sick of these environmentalist films that promote saving the environment through irrational spirituality involving the worship of trees and demonization of science and capitalism. It's making environmentalists look like a bunch of nutjobs on the order of the right-wingers who say God would never let the Earth be hurt so we might as well dump our junk all over. So, here's my pitch for a progressive, relevant environmentalist film that doesn't demonize science or capitalism:

Setting: Twenty minutes into the future. Electronic readers are so commonplace that paper books are so obsolete that even grandparents hardly use them. Wood has been replaced as a building material with a modified form of Styrofoam that's as strong and doesn't rot, so it never needs to be replaced. The air can now be converted to oxygen using bioengineered plankton. As a result, trees are no longer profitable and are in danger. Unlike the shamefully misrepresentative  The Lorax, it's acknowledged that the forestry industry is responsible for most of the planting of trees because trees are seen as a valuable resource that shouldn't be squandered.

So, now that trees are unwanted in this universe, a big forest is going to be wiped out. It's not going to be replaced with things recognized to be symbols of the evil capitalism the filmmakers oppose like "parking lots and shiny shopping malls" as in the case of FernGully, but instead something acknowledged to beneficial like schools. An environmentalist group then has to convince people that the trees are worthwhile enough to keep around. Appeals are made to the history of aesthetics, pointing out how inspiring nature has been to the development of art throughout the years and how trees can bring joy to people, a joy that should be shared across generations. People still aren't convinced, and the day is saved when a scientist comes forward and talks about the kinds of advances that have been made through studying nature, and we don't want to get rid of something that could one day prove valuable. The end shows a compromise where kids are learning in the middle of the forest with the help of gadgets with brand names.

Why can't we do something real like that and not propaganda that makes us all look like cultists?

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

5 Levels of BDSM Fantasy

(See also the video version)

I wanted to share this scale I’ve been working on to best analyze BDSM-related fiction according to different levels of fantasy. I suspect I’ll have to make some changes as I continue to review BDSM fiction. For now, this is what I have:

  • Level 1 – Story is verisimilar and involves a character encountering BDSM that may or may not become involved with it. Examples: Bones, Weeds, Castle
  • Level 2 – Story is verisimilar and involves a character getting involved with BDSM and having unrealistic relations that fulfill the author’s fantasies while staying within the confines of reasonable behavior. Examples: Exit to Eden (arguably Level 3), Nana and Kaoru (mostly, partially Level 3), When They Cry
  • Level 3 – Story is verisimilar and involves a character getting involved with BDSM and having unrealistic relations that fulfill the author’s fantasies without staying within the confines of reasonable behavior. Examples: Fifty Shades of Grey, Secretary, Sundome, The Pet (sort of, as it's extremely anti-BDSM)
  • Level 4 – Story is fantastic and BDSM is not clearly defined, so submissive characters encounter controlling dominants in abusive scenarios, yet there is plenty of BDSM imagery (leather, collars, whips, etc.) to indicate to the consumer of such media that they are experiencing a BDSM fantasy. Examples: a lot of vampire stuff including True Blood, Goth
  • Level 5 – Story is fantastic and BDSM is not clearly defined, so submissive characters encounter controlling dominants in abusive scenarios without BDSM imagery or other indications that the author has an understanding of BDSM; unless presented simply as an over-the-top fantasy as with ecchi manga, this kind of story can be problematic and worthy of criticism. Examples: Twilight, Atlas Shrugged

I will often encounter feminist criticisms of BDSM fiction where my go-to response is “it’s just a fantasy”, but there is a problem in the different kinds of fantasy that make it hard to communicate effectively. Fifty Shades of Grey often falls under fire for having a creepy Dom by people who expect a Level 1 fantasy, but as a Level 3 fantasy, it’s more “just” a submissive fantasy than with the Level 5 Twilight, which may resonate with submissives but as Stephenie Meyer gives no indication of understanding BDSM and how it relates to her fantasy, it is more problematic that Bella just devotes her life to the creepy vampire Edward and that this is all cast as a beautiful romance. The similar vampire fantasy True Blood is different because it is Level 4, and the vampire bar Fangtasia is decked out like a BDSM tourist trap, making the "Sookie is mine" stuff readily come across as a BDSM fantasy and not just an abusive scenario that would deserve more criticism at the higher Levels 1 and 2. Arguably, the goal should be to have decent BDSM fiction mostly occupy Levels 1 and 2, but sex sells and sex motivates writers, so we will see a lot in the deeper levels of fantasy.

So, those are my thoughts on the BDSM Levels of Fantasy. If you have any suggestions to refine it, please share them.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Screed of Anti-Firefly Feminist Criticism

(See also the video version)

The second part of Natasha Simons’ article “Reconsidering the Feminism of Joss Whedon” focuses on Firefly, the space-western he developed along with Tim Minear, which depicts a civilization in the future based off of the American past but is supposed to be a whole new culture based around America and China conquering everyone before merging into a single entity.

She starts off by talking about the things she likes about the show with regard to Zoe, moving into what she doesn’t like about the character.

Which is why the episode “War Stories” is such a travesty. Placing Zoe firmly back in the category of “woman” rather than “warrior,”

What? She can’t be both?

“War Stories” forces Zoe to choose between her captain and her husband.

That’s an interesting way to summarize “War Stories”. While technically accurate, it misrepresents the episode because of what it chooses to focus on. It’s like that humorous list of misleading movie summaries that describes Back to the Future as “A bewildered teenage boy fends off his mother's disturbing and unnatural attraction to him.” Technically true, but it misses the ever-important context, like Mal and Wash being captured by a psychopath who forces Zoe to choose which of them to take back to the ship while he tortures the other.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Lila Isn't Anti-Feminist (Dexter)

(See also the video version)

I cannot understand why so many feminists hate the character of Lila in Dexter season two, as she seems a fairly accurate depiction of a female psychopath on a show about a male psychopath who frequently interacts with other psychopaths as he puzzles at the world. I mean, I get that her actions in faking a rape as an attack and her general abusive demeanor play into anti-feminist stereotypes about how all women have a unique capacity for behaving in such a negative way when the mood strikes them, but the reason these stereotypes exist is because such behavior is frequently performed by female psychopaths. The writers clearly did their research into psychopathy, and Dexter paraphrases psychopathy-expert Dr. Robert Hare when he acknowledges Lila as a psychopath like him with the words “you know the words, but you can’t hear the music” as a metaphor for their limited understanding of empathetic feelings. As I praise the show when it accurately represents Dexter’s psychopathy and criticize it when it does not, I likewise praise the accurately psychopathic depiction of Lila. I don’t believe that the feminine psychopathic traits have a uniquely anti-feminist nature when applied to all characters in all situations, only that they frequently end up as anti-feminist when used in non-psychopathic characters. That is not the case of Lila.