I’m Just Not Impressed

Am I supposed to be?

Real pain is being a woman…

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…not, you know, actual inflicted violence.

Been a while since I’ve written anything, but I stumbled upon this while perusing Andrew Sullivan’s “The Daily Dish” and I just can’t let it go.

Now, first I think it is wonderful and admirable that Britain’s National Centre for Domestic Violence is making an issue of domestic violence against men. And I understand that they are trying to get at the very real issue of men fearing being “viewed as less of a man” for admitting to being a victim (the implication is .

But is it really necessary to show a male victim of domestic violence as being made into a woman (or read alternatively, being completely un-sexed)? Not only does the accompanying image completely reinforces the very concepts of masculinity that the ad purports to be trying to counter by portraying  being a woman or woman-like as bad or inferior and something to be considered  shaming, but it is also completely cis-centric, ignoring the very real problem of domestic and other violence against transfolk of any identification.

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Written by emandink

April 1, 2010 at 9:05 am

The Divided Fifty States.

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A lot of people have been talking about the “divide” in the U.S. lately.  On one side are the Glen Becks, the Rush Limbaughs, the Pat Buchanans. The teabaggers, the birthers, the folks who desperately need a Political Theory class so that they can learn the difference between socialism, communism, National Socialism, fascism and why it is hypocritical to protest against government spending and against inadequate government services at the same time. On the other side are the rest of us.

But that’s not the only divide. In discussions of feminism and rape culture and kyriarchy, it is abundantly clear that there is another deep chasm, between those who think she deserved it and those of us who don’t. Between those of us who think that women are objectified and those of us who think its their right to objectify us. Between those of us who think that the victims of rapists are the real victims and those who think the rapists are the real victims.

The discussion of the false rape allegations at Hofstra taking place at The Sexist today is a glaring example of this divide. And like so many such discussions, it makes me want to throw up a little because the differences in the way we view the world are so fucking obvious that I start to wonder if anything can make a difference and if we ever really can be “United”. Because despite what Buchanan thinks, we never really were.

Written by emandink

September 18, 2009 at 5:15 pm

It’s Czar Mystery

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I find it interesting that one of the criticisms being leveled against the Obama administration is his appointment of various “Czars”. What evidently started as a birther/’bagger type theoryis now gaining ground in the Republican establishment. And like stories of President Obama’s fictional Kenyan birth certificate, there’s about as much truth to the idea that this is a new concept.

Reading  Kay Bailey Hutchison’s Sunday editorial over a morning bowl of cereal, in which she calls Obama’s appointment of Czars “unprecedented” and strongly implies that no such position has ever existed (no, she doesn’t say it, but absolutely nothing in the op-ed even begins to acknowledge the fact that such posts have existed for 20 years), I was struck by that thought – didn’t this defiance of the Constitution begin during a Republican administration?

The answer is actually more nuanced than I thought. I was thinking of the “Drug Czar,  a position that was created in 1988 (under Ronald Regan) and filled in 1989 (under George H.W. Bush), which was initially a Cabinet level position, and therefore, while still evocative of the Evil Empire, not a direct thread to the sanctity of liberty. Or something like that. Obama has made a change with respect to the Drug Czar, a move that is not entirely inappropriately called “unprecedented”, in that it is a move without direct precedent, of essentially decommissioning the position and removing it from Cabinet status.

But the first actual use of “Czar” as a title evidently goes all the way back to the Nixon administration, who, again, I’m pretty certain was Republican. Or does it go back even farther? Some of our lovely friends at Wikipedia would have us believe that the term has been used for more than 80 years, beginning with FDR. So, maybe it is the Democrats’ fault? Just for the record, this, kids, is why people mock Wiki as a primary source. Three different articles imply three different answers to this burning question.

What is not in question is that for the better part of a century, the White House made do with a handful of Czars. Then look at that jump – the leap not just back into double digits, but into the 30s, takes place not in 2009, as Hutchison would have us believe, but rather, in the 8 years prior. You know what that means, right?

Yet, where were all of these people when George W. Bush was was appointing “czars” right and left? I suppose no one actually thought that the poster boy for unremitting capitalism could ever be labeled a communist.

Written by emandink

September 14, 2009 at 9:30 pm

And the SMTP* award goes to…

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Today’s award for Spectacularly Missing the Point goes to House Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) for the following dazzling brilliance during a debate about whether to grant same-sex partners of federal employees the same benefits that married (opposite sex, natch) patners may receive:

“Doesn’t it discriminate in terms by giving same-sex couples greater federal benefits than opposite sex couples who may not be married?”

To which, I can really, only say, “Wha? What part of the fact that SAME SEX COUPLES CANNOT GET MARRIED IN MOST STATES DO YOU NOT UNDERSTAND, DUMBASS?!?!?!?!”

Thankfully, Virginia Democrat Gerry Connolly was slightly more eloquent:

“The screaming contradiction of that question is that marriage is available to people in that situation and it is not in all but a handful of states to those of same-sex partnerships so that’s why you have to look at other ways of trying to address the issue.”

Really, why is this so hard to understand?

* No, not those.

Written by emandink

July 9, 2009 at 9:57 am

Posted in Gay Rights, Law, Politics

Tagged with , , ,

Obscure, indeed.

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So, a while ago, when at GameSpot looking for some new games for the Wii, in among the cartoony Marios and rampaging rabbits and sports games, I spotted one that looked like it might appeal to the part of me that was amused for a little while by Silent Hill a few years ago. It had the dark creepy cover and the description of a mystery that sort of needed to be solved and as a bonus, could be played as a two player game, so my husband could get in on the action.

And so it was that last night we decided to check out Obscure: The Aftermath. The best thing I can say about this game is that I am sure we can trade it in at our local GameStop for some credit toward MarioCart or something for the kid’s upcoming birthday. That or it might net something good on Swaptree

Now, I’m usually more of a non-violent adventure gamer – I love the creepy, like The Lost Crown, and absolutely adore The Longest Journey, but I have no problem with video game violence, so long as it makes sense. There is no way in which this applies to Obscure. The interface is awkward, the gameplay is so dark that it was difficult to see details even in a dark room on a large projection screen and the characters are completely unlikable and are the type of people I tried hard to avoid in college the first time around. The first “challenge” is to make your way through a long bloody hallway and then fight some beasts, after which the male character wakes up in a bathroom stall vomiting. Sexy. The second challenge involves a different couple trying to sneak into a frat party. I have no idea what happens after that, because we couldn’t take it any more.

Because, here’s the biggest issue I take with the game – I’m perfectly happy to wile away a few hours playing something vapid, just as I occasionally enjoy some truly horrible movies or train wrecks of television programs – but I quickly tire of being asked to be an active participant in “entertainment” that regularly actively insults me. It is hardly news that the video game industry is not exactly female friendly, and the fact that the female “characters” were large breasted, scantily clad and largely accessories was not entirely unexpected, but as gameplay went on, it became increasingly clear that the makers of this game have apparently given no consideration to the fact that non-male individuals might ever consider playing this game.

We hadn’t even started gameplay when I turned to my husband and noted, “Evidently women aren’t supposed to play this game,” pointing to the onscreen instructions advising that if the second player wanted to leave or join the game “he” needed to press 2 on “his” remote. Non gender neutral language FTW. As the game starts, we look around the male protagonist’s (player 1) dorm room and learn that he has lots of sex with lots of different women in his bed – one of his favorite places. His girlfriend (player 2) teases him about it, but sounds bitter at his conquests and he makes her feel better by saying she’s “the only one who stuck around”. Well, that’s flattering. It is quickly obvious that the second player is almost entirely superfluous. She – and the parts we played were always heterosexual couples with the male as the leader – follows her boyfriend around. And that’s about it. Player 2 cannot do anything without being right next to player1 and gets dragged from frame to frame at player 1’s whim. (This is a design issue – lots of “two player” games don’t have much for the second player to do, but it’s particularly salient here.)

The men’s dorm is filled with notes referencing the sexual prowess of its residents. J kept noting “It’s persistent” every time the game would reinforce it’s message that manliness is next to fucking anything that comes within a few hundred feet. The notes were even worse in the women’s dorm, which the protagonist boyfriend enters through an open window later in the game – one recounts male-on-male sexual assault as part of an apology to the perpetrator’s girlfriend. Another is a notice that reads like a flier about a lost puppy, except that the creature that was “lost” is the note writer’s girlfriend, who’s name he does not know. Charming.

The second couple we meet is a beefy athletic dude and his buxum blonde girlfriend. They want to go to a frat party. Wheee! So they try to sneak in. So they wander around until they find a big box to climb on. At which point, the girlfriend declares “You move this. You’re big and strong and I’m just a weak girl.” Slightly paraphrased, but you get the idea. That, my friends, was when I was done and we switched to Lego Batman.

I can put up with a lot in the name of entertainment. But fail to be entertaining, while being actively, seemingly intentionally offensive? Well, the name of this blog has rarely been so appropriate.

Written by emandink

June 20, 2009 at 11:37 am

Anger is an energy.

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(Originally titled “I think you owe me a great big apology” – a quote from the NIN song “Terrible Lie”. He has sort of apologized for the “plump” remark, to be fair.)

So, Trent Reznor has decided to hang up his twitter hat. That’s nice. Not something I’d even really notice, since I’ve not been a big Nine Inch Nails fan for 15 years or so, if not for the acquaintance who pointed out this charming paragraph:

Looks like the Metal Sludge contingency has discover Twitter! Finally! For those of you that don’t know what this is, please let me explain. Metal Sludge is the home of the absolutely worst people I’ve ever come across. It’s populated mainly by unattractive plump females who publicly fantasize about having sex with guys in bands. Kind of like a role-playing game where people NOBODY will fuck make up stories about their incredible sexual encounters with people they WISH they could fuck. It would be kind of funny in a sad and pathetic way except the fun doesn’t stop there – hate and good old-fashioned outright blatant racism are also encouraged to spice things up and remind you how truly ugly these scourges are. TRULY ugly on the inside (the outside is obvious).

Ugly on the inside, indeed. Now, I know next to nothing about Metal Sludge and the Wiki is less than helpful. Nor do I really care. And maybe the majority of the people posting behind that fabulous page requiring an affirmation of the First Amendment are truly abhorrent, unpleasant people who no one really would want to wile away an hour or three with. I have not a clue (if they are truly obsessed with any band or celebrity to the point of sending death threats and hate mail and blatant racism, then, really, I wouldn’t want to invite them to a party).

But, if that’s the case, then why, pray tell, is is necessary to comment on their physical appearance? Why the fat-hating nastiness about the inherent unattractiveness of “plump” women. If they are truly such abhorrent specimens of humanity, it shouldn’t matter whether they are supermodels or, well, not supermodels. Making nasty claims about people’s appearance and supposed lack of sex life is pretty damn ugly too. I don’t care who you are.

EDITED TO ADD:
Apparently Reznor did clarify his remarks here:

Just glanced at this stuff. May I clarify:
I have no issue with PLUMP people and I apologize if some of you incorrectly inferred I was equating being overweight to being unworthy. I used that term for two reasons: one – these cunts on MS portray themselves as in a very inaccurate way, because they can. It’s their one place they can wield a little power and escape their pathetic lives. Two – I knew it would hurt them and it most definitely has.
Place my comments in context. If you haven’t seen the type of comments we’ve been getting and the sheer level of ignorance, you have no reference in which to comment on this.

I know MOST of you are not a part of this and I didn’t mean to offend you – this situation has angered and saddened me.

And THAT is it from me on this topic. 

So, these folks actively misrepresent themselves (something which is clearly extremely rare on these here internets). I do not begrudge Reznor his anger. I do not begrudge him the loathing he has for people who send racist tirades about his fiancee or who send death threats or who are by all evidence rude, unpleasant, horrible people.

 I do, however, hold him to the same standard I would hold anyone – that mocking of appearance and sexual attractiveness, while easy and appealing – is still problematic, no matter how abhorrent the subject of the mockery.

Written by emandink

June 17, 2009 at 2:40 pm

The third sign of the simacrulum.

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Or: meta, within meta, within meta. Or:in which I blog about blogging.

I think every blogger, deep down, must wish to actually develop a following – a community of people who care about what they write and who not only view the blogger as helping them learn something but who, through their participation help the writer learn as well.

Note the shift in terms there, since I’m not at all sure it’s limited to blogging. Here, in 2009, anyone who has access to the internet can grab a soapbox. It may be tiny, it may be huge, it may be one voice pitching into the void, or it may be a community.

Maintaining community is hard. I know this as a moderator in forums where I have no direct responsibility for providing content, but “merely” keep my eyes open for trolls or unsafe comments or inappropriate posts.

Maintaining a blog – at least one that is more than a personal journal – with thoughtful, researched content and original ideas and supporting links – is also hard work. Really, I had no idea what it would take to regularly post here – and clearly I do not. I constantly have ideas in my head for posts I want to make; I have a whole series about my trip to India, for example, that I’ve wanted to write about for almost three months. Just this past week, I’ve thought about at least half a dozen things that would make interesting posts, but I just don’t have the time or the energy or the focus.

This is not my life. It is not what I do. I spend hours every day working at a job that I enjoy and that pays me well and I am immensely thankful for that.

This also means that I am immensely thankful for those people who do have the time to build and maintain the communities that give me hope and inspiration and the feeling that this all might be worth something. I’m thinking mostly right now of Shakesville, and the gigantic effort that Melissa and her contributors must put into making that place what it is. And it is a place. It may be virtual, but it is still real.

And the same goes for at least a dozen other sites where I pop in from time to time and my tweeps and readers and, hell, I have to get to the “real” job, so if you think this is about you, then it probably is. But I want you to know, this is no less “real” to me and I don’t think it ever could be again.

Thank you.

Written by emandink

June 10, 2009 at 8:05 am