Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Bullets

  • I love that Sunday's episode of Looking was cheekily titled "Looking For a Plot" given the show's somewhat ambling pace, but it was also the standout of the season, if not the series. Lauren Weedman was excellent, and I'm glad that the creators let her character develop over the season rather than leaving it as that chick who hangs around with gay guys. (There's another word I could use here that enough people take issue with, so I'll just leave it at that.) Here's the full recap from the AV Club. It's too bad that bearing a last minute change of heart, Looking is probably done for. It's such an underrated show whose primary problem seems to be audience overreach. Why is it so hard for viewers to accept a character who's flawed in normal, human, and yes, unlikeable ways?
  • Yay for Girls for showing that a woman can have an abortion without remorse.
  • I stopped commenting on Feministe long ago for myriad reasons (along with everyone else apparently), but I still regularly read it, and sometimes find things that make good jumping-off points for posts here, even if I don't promote them. Most of what feminism -- and I'm talking mainstream, online feminism like the kind Feministe promotes -- has given me is the frustration that my girlhood was somehow anathema to it. Or at least, anathema to producing the kind of "come to (insert deity of your choice here) moment" that it's supposed to. I read this yesterday. The part about expecting to be raped really stood out to me because I never thought rape was the inevitable conclusion of girlhood. If I could chalk it up to a sheltered upbringing, I gladly would, but it's not that. I didn't have the resources "cis white girls" are supposed to have either. I had a huge distrust of authority even at a young age, and didn't expect, had I been raped, the law to help me. I got the message to "be careful," but also to "be tough" and learn to "fight your own battles." Only now am I realizing how much this has informed my politics.
  • Liberalism as racism Liberal and left are used interchangeably in US politics, which makes having a discussion about liberal racism a little difficult, but here it means classical liberalism (aka libertarianism, but not big "L" libertarianism as most of America knows it. See? Complicated). I won't sugarcoat it: this bothers me. Some of the comments veer too closely to being anti-science (putting "reason" and "rationality" in scare quotes), without acknowledging the entitlement in being able to reject a discipline on intellectual and moral terms. The left itself isn't immune to racism. Despite being predicated on disassembling power structures, the left doesn't really like to talk about the intersection of race and poverty much, or poverty when it comes packaged with racial privilege. 
  • Someone in my neighborhood built a snow penis. It was quite, er, realistic. I'll just leave it at that.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

"I want my child to be gay"

I understand where she's coming from, but I'd be lying if I said this didn't make me a little uncomfortable. Maybe it's the not-so veiled essentialism dressed up as anti-essentialism (it's okay for boys to be princesses but not girls?), a facet of far-left ideology that often goes under-analyzed, but that's only scratching at the surface.

I get it though. She wants her daughter to be like her. And while I feel as though I should be championing this article,  it's coming from the same person who wrote passionately about her "girly" daughter and the princessification of girlhood while thoughtfully coming to the conclusion that one can still be a feminist in a dress and a tiara. Hasn't feminism already solved the debate that one can be a feminist and still be feminine?

Sarcasm aside, another thing that frustrates me is the polarization of childhood narratives. Why is it that every women remembers her childhood as explicitly girly or explicitly tomboyish? Where are all the girls who like neither sports nor sparkles? I was just a nerd. Joining the soccer team held as much appeal as playing dress-up. (As a fat, uncoordinated kid, the former was out of the question, the latter I viewed as "baby" rather than "girly.") Like Kohn, though, when I played with dolls I tended to rather... destructively. (Running them over with G.I. Joe's Jeep was particularly gratifying), which I guess pushed me into tomboy territory, but I didn't see myself as different from the other girls. Tomboy was sort of the default, and no one used that word. (This is where a discussion of the intersection of class and gender would come in handy, if the left weren't so resistant to talk about class.)

I can't stress enough that I don't think there's anything wrong with having pride in any part of one's identity, but I get frustrated at how middle-class and upper-middle class lefties talk about gender roles and sexuality. Most of what I've read, the two pieces included, follow the same template. 

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Leonard Nimoy: R.I.P.


From the New York Times:
His artistic pursuits — poetry, photography and music in addition to acting — ranged far beyond the United Federation of Planets, but it was as Mr. Spock that Mr. Nimoy became a folk hero, bringing to life one of the most indelible characters of the last half century: a cerebral, unflappable, pointy-eared Vulcan with a signature salute and blessing: “Live long and prosper” (from the Vulcan “Dif-tor heh smusma”).
He was 83-years-old.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Quoted: Richard Rorty on leftist regression

One thing that is very likely to happen is that the gains made in the past forty years by black and brown Americans, and by homosexual, will be wiped out. Jocular contempt for women will come back into fashion. [...] All the sadism which the academic left has tried to make unacceptable to its students will come flooding back. All the resentment which badly educated Americans feel about having their manners dictated to them by college graduates will find an outlet. -- Richard Rorty from Achieving Our Country: Leftist Thought in Twentieth-Century America
In the fifteen years since Achieving Our Country, a book based on a series of lectures Rorty gave at Harvard, was published, his prediction hasn't entirely come true, but looking back, it's easy to recognized the seeds of today's PC mania. However, I don't agree that all unacceptable prejudices will come "flooding back." In many areas. they never left, and I thin it's representative of Rorty's academic privilege to not have noticed. The last sentence makes me extremely uncomfortable because I actually do agree, and it's also a common classist trope. Openly expressed bigotry is a problem of those people, not mannered, educated, white people. That working-class people don't want their "manners" dictated to them by college graduates is the result of that.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Earworm of the Day: Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band - Moonlight On Vermont



A book I read years ago on the hobby of record collecting emphatically stated that women don't like Captain Beefheart.

Of course I'm willing to entertain the idea certain preferences fall neatly along gender lines, but nothing about Don Van Vliet's music screams suspiciously masculine in the way that, say, Megadeath's does. Mostly it's just odd and arty in a way that can't be replicated save for a time machine and some LSD. "Moonlight on Vermont" is probably the most conventional song off Trout Mask Replica, which says a lot.