ljlee: (kira)
I'm not a fan of Sherlock. The show has clever references and is visually well-crafted, but Watson's Throwing Off the Disability in the first episode turned me off big time and I have seen little from subsequent, passing views that there is anything there to interest me.

Nevertheless, when my visiting mother-in-law wanted us to watch The Abominable Bride special I went along with it. Well actually I was like, "Wait, how about Suffragette?" at the last minute but my husband had paid the VOD system by then, so The Abominable Bride it was. Besides, it turned out that our subscription doesn't carry Sufragette anyway.

Spoilers for The Abominable Bride )

The Abominable Bride left me fairly confirmed in my opinions. (Which is what experience usually does to opinions anyway.) Sherlock is a slick, smart show that draws a lot of drama from the relationships between its well-defined principal characters. It doesn't go much deeper than that, though. This holiday special, like the show itself, doesn't have much in the way of self-awareness or moral authority, and that in a nutshell is why Sherlock doesn't interest me.
ljlee: (peach_glare)

In reponse to a thread going around on Tumblr about young girls being told to cover up, this atheist was actually moved to spouting Bible verses. This interpretation was in a book my mom had about a feminist reading of the Bible, though I have, let's say, spiced it up a little.

"But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell." (Matthew 5:28-29)

This is a revolutionary passage because it upends the idea of the woman (or child, dear God) as a temptress. It's a giant middle finger to the conventional "wisdom" that it's a woman's job to keep herself modest and out of the way of men because men can't be held responsible for their own gaze, urges, and actions once they have been "tempted" by the sight of a female body.

Here Jesus is saying, basically, no, fuck that and fuck you. You've committed adultery and you're the pervert if you've looked on somebody with as an object for your sexual gratification. And no, that's not the same thing as feeling an attraction, I'm talking about what you're doing with that attraction--as something they're doing to you, making it their fault and giving yourself license to treat them as dirty and wrong.

What's that, you have no control over where you look? You have no control over your thoughts and actions? Why then, you're saying your eye is damning you to hell because no, you do not get an exemption from basic personal responsibility by virtue of owning a dick and if your eye does something, news flash, that's you.

But if your eye literally has a will of its own and it's making you sin, then why not cut it the fuck out, man? Yeah, I mean literally. You talk about it like it's demonically possessed and not under your dominion. Well, are you going to let a part of you drag you down to hell? Rip it out! I could say the same for a few other body parts, too. Better missing a few bits in heaven than all of you in hell, eh?

Do not give me this nonsense about having no control over yoursef. Take some responsibility and grow the hell up.

This is anti-purity culture, anti-dress code, anti-slut shaming, anti-body policing rhetoric. Each person takes responsibility for their own thoughts and actions, and no one gets to use the whiny excuse that another person made them act inappropriately just by existing.

Jesus fucking Christ, people, it's been 2,000 years. Let's get our act together.
ljlee: cover to Apocalypse World (apocalypseworld)
I read the Pern series only in part and badly out of order. A long time ago, and we're talking around two decades, I found Dragonsdawn and Dragonquest in a bookstore and read them one after the other. I found them a) to have some good ideas, b) boring in the execution, and b) skeevy as hell in places.

Discussions of rape and reproductive coercion. )

Fast forward to the present, where [personal profile] chordatesrock got a bout of nostalgia about the series and asked if I wanted to read the series, in proper order this time. I decided to see if that made things better, and hoo boy. If I thought the abusive relationship dynamic in Dragonsdawn was bad, Dragonflight would deliver much, much worse.
ljlee: (peach_moved)
I have been meaning to do a Mad Max: Fury Road post approximately forever since I've seen it (and you won't convince me there was a whole world, history, and civilization before it came out), but everything kept coming out as FTBRRLT MUST MARRY IT AND HAVE ITS BABIEZZZ. The only halfway coherent thoughts I got down were in a discussion with overlithe, so I decided to repurpose my comments into a blog post.

My thoughts on Fury Road are many and tangled, but one aspect among many is that it took and demolished common sexist tropes. Here are three major ones I can think of:

Spoilers, of course )

These three, Plucky Girl, Damsel in Distress, and Women in the Fridge are the major tropes that Mad Max: Fury Road did an excellent job of dissecting along with a whole host of toxic assumptions about women and men. The best part is, as Charlize Theron (Furiosa) said, the movie didn't even have a feminist agenda; the story is feminist by way of being honest and truthful, simply by presenting women as people. I've read stories with feminist agendas and they tend to be dreary and moralizing as agenda-driven fiction tends to be. (Legend of the Last Princess, though a concept, is representative of the type.) The latest installment of Mad Max is driven not by agenda but by truth, and that's why it is among the best feminist films of all time.
ljlee: (muzi_shock)
Following on the discussion of the highly rapey Sky Maiden and Woodsman story, I looked through my niece's copy to see it for myself. It was just a standard telling, but there was a page at the end of the book talking about the "lessons" for children. I read it, wondering if it put the problematic elements of the story in perspective.

I don't have the book with me anymore, but here's the general gist of the note:

Rage. So much rage. )

This is just one book among thousands, of course, and it does not by itself create culture. I wouldn't even care if it weren't part of a consistent message we are bombarded with, over and over from all directions. There is no need to censor the media we consume, but there is a need to question them. The only harm is in pretending that stories told to children are apolitical, because acceptance of the status quo as "harmless" is itself political.
ljlee: bam bam (headdesk)
In a case of synchronicity, [personal profile] chordatesrock put up a post about lazy genderbends just as I was searching out title ideas for a series of genderbent ATLA short fics. (This is an idea I played around with in an earlier post about genderbent fanart.)

I thought it would be cool to quote some sort of poetry in the title, so I started looking for gender imagery in poetry. I learned that androgyny was a major recurring motif in the poems of William Blake, including notably Jerusalem, where I found this promising line:
For the Male is a Furnace of beryll : the Female is a golden Loom.
So I thought of something like "Golden Furnace" or "Loom of Beryl" or both to signal the switch, but neither seems evocative enough. "Gold and Beryl" might be workable if I can't think of anything else, though it's a bit obscure. i don't think most readers would associate gold with the feminine and beryl with the masculine without having the reference explained. "Hammer and loom" is also a contrast that comes up, but ends up feeling vaguely Communistic as a title. Or maybe abstract the imagery a little, like "The Fire and the Weave?" Except, um, fire has a pretty specific meaning in my chosen universe. "Spear and Mirror?"

ARGH )

So at current my title candidates are:

1. Single Nature's Double Name
2. Of Beryl and Gold
3. Valley Under Heaven's Arc

...None of which feels right. Maybe I'm overthinking (and over-researching) this. Maybe I should keep reading the Dao De Jing to see what else I find, or go with something more obvious. This is the hardest I've ever thought about a title and it's frustrating.
ljlee: (kira)
Today a guy who is not a client but discussed a few details of his case with me called from a break in his police interrogation, saying how he was being pressured to confess an incident he hardly remembered. I gave a bog-standard answer, that he shouldn't confess to anything without speaking to a lawyer. He went back and forth on this and I listened with half an ear while playing Candy Crush. Then he admitted he'd  called me to calm himself down and not for actual legal advice.

There was a time when that would have warmed my heart. I'd have been thrilled at being useful and appreciated. Instead I felt irritation that he's calling up a lawyer he never retained or paid as though I were a friend, like I'm just waiting around in the middle of the workday to soothe his fears and tell him everything's going to be all right.

I'm not sure why I no longer act like a beaten dog around perfect strangers. Maybe it's because I have better boundaries now that I've been freed from the idea that my value lies in serving and pleasing others. Maybe it's the experience of being similarly used for support and knowledge by people who don't reciprocate. Being in a stable relationship may have helped me gain actual self-respect, too. Maybe it's just a function of getting older and ornerier.

Whatever the reason or combination of reasons, I'm glad of this change. It doesn't mean I'll never be exploited again, but with these emotional signals in place I'm likelier to avoid exploitative situations or leave them.
ljlee: (peach_smug)
Last week GQ ran an article about the MRA conference that took place last summer. The responses in the comments section were predictably hilarious, with MRAs turning out en masse to cry about how unfairly they were portrayed as creeps and cranks.

And you'd think, since they're out to defend themselves in a public forum, that they'd actually succeed in making themselves look better than the article did, right? Yet somehow they managed to make themselves look even worse.

But then again this is the "movement" whose flagship site has Janet Bloomfield as their communications director: Janet "JudgyBitch" Bloomfield, the woman who managed to get herself booted off Twitter. I repeat: Their communications director cannot hold onto a Twitter account. That should give you an idea of how good MRAs are at presenting themselves as good and reasonable people.

Amid this stewing mess, one comment caught my eye because it was purportedly about facts. It was by Alison Tieman, a "Honey Badger" (woman who supports MRAs) mentioned in the main article. She was citing a bunch of rape statistics to argue that rape was not a gendered phenomenon and that men are raped at the same if not higher rates as women.

It just goes downhill from there )

Remember, that was just one set of statistics. This is just a tiny look into the contortions MRAs use to bolster their vision of reality. And when you point out the ways they're wrong, they throw out wild speculation as fact and/or engage in distraction and bullying tactics. Or they accuse you of rape because, well, why not? After all the point for them is not the facts but maintaining their worldview at all costs. I feel almost sorry for them, that they have to resort to these tactics to have any peace of mind.
ljlee: Queen... er, Lady Misil (misil)
Valentine's day was lazy and wonderful. I spent it with the spouse doing nothing productive or glamorous, sleeping in, playing the mobile game Princess Rush side by side (ironically it's a game about fairy-tale princesses beating up on Prince Charming), and eating homemade canafe for dinner while watching Deep Space Nine. As I once told a friend, marriage for me is like having a sleepover every night with the best friend I ever had. I am grateful every day that I have such a wonderful relationship with such a wonderful person.

The awesome that is our marriage is a direct result of my husband and I having feminist beliefs. I use "feminism" here in the primary dictionary sense of gender-egalitarian thought. It also works in the sense Mary Shear wrote, "the radical notion that women are people." I couldn't have married my husband, nor would our marriage be so happy, if it weren't for this idea. Let me count the ways:

Possibility, Flexibility, Freedom, and Humanity )

These are the gifts feminist thought gave us in our relationship: The possibility of a relationship starting int he first place, flexibility in assigning family roles, freedom to be ourselves, and the ability to relate to each other as human beings. Of all the reasons for me to be a feminist, this is the most selfish and the most fulfilling, that I was able to muster the courage to make a lifelong commitment to the love of my life, and to shape our lives in a way that brings us both joy. We are two imperfect people trying to build our lives in a way that works for us, and we are helped every day in that effort by the radical notion that we are both human beings.


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L.J. Lee

June 2016

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