Elayne Riggs' Journal (for Leah)

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Staycation Blogaround

One of the things I'd like to try doing to keep myself away from the living room snacks and kitchen fridge is to write more, specifically here. I've been feeling the creative itch of late, which had all but been squelched when I witnessed the slow death spiral of this country which began in late 1980 kick into high gear last November. But you know, they cannot take our minds, our thoughts, our dreams, and I'm tired of being tired, in more ways than one. So let's take a look at some of the brilliant and interesting writing my fellow bloggers have gone over the past year or so:

  • Melissa McEwan at Shakesville is always my first go-to for political analysis from an unapologetically feminist viewpoint. I adored her analyses of last year's campaigns, focusing on the different ways men and women are treated in the political arena. Validity Prism is a terrific example, talking about the intense double-standard of political speech. The money quote:
    This is invisible gender bias. He benefits from this good will, despite having done absolutely nothing to deserve it, in a way that no woman — including and perhaps especially Hillary Clinton — ever would. It's dismissed as "Trump just being Trump," but it's more than that. It's Trump being the beneficiary of a privilege that is denied to half the population, who is instead asked to provide scientific evidence to justify our own observations about our own lives.
    My only quibble is that the queen of word salad, Sarah Palin, got away with very much the same, leading me to wonder if it's a Conservative Republican vs. Liberal Democrat thing more than anything else. On the other hand, I'm 100% with Liss on essays like The Word That Shall Not Be Spoken: Misogyny, The Long Slog of Progress, The Movement Against Smart Women, and On Liking the Unlikeable Hillary Clinton. I spend more and more time these days wishing we'd had the Brightest Timeline instead of this dark one, where a competent, inspiring, hard-working person was still leading this country.

  • Staying with that theme, and with the final season of Game of Thrones just around the corner, Heidi McDonald analyzes why GoT became a fantasy the moment complex and competent female characters started taking front and center. This can no more be real, apparently, than a woman becoming the leader of the country that elected her by an overwhelming majority.

  • As culture and entertainment become ever more entwined with real life (seriously, a "reality" show huckster as President?), The Mary Sue has really stepped up their game. I appreciated this analysis of Leslie Jones' movie premiere gown tale (I mean, how dare she be big!); key line: "the fact that a sample size exists is a size bias!" I first read here the story of the first female players in minor league baseball since the 1950s. I was disheartened (although certainly not surprised) to read that male fans still harass female comics creators - hey, 20 years ago I had to create a web page because male fans didn't even believe female writers and artists existed! And I found this examination of the TV alpha-nerd and the corresponding "mysterious woman" fascinating; are any alpha-nerds ever female on their own, rather than as a reaction to the male protagonist? Key line: "Though she is supposed to counter the alpha-nerd’s ‘quirky’ misogyny with antidotal strength and independence, the ‘mysterious woman’ is also disappointingly little else than a gender-flipped version of him."

  • One alpha female still rightfully adored by the liberal blogosphere is Digby, aka Heather Parton. There's a reason so many people reiterate What Digby Said. Like Melissa, she draws a clear line between mass killing and misogyny. She reminds us that Trump always accuses others of what he and his cohorts are doing themselves. And that of course why vice president isn't much better (or, you know, better at all), and the way they're playing to a base full of hate while some Democrats agree to concede human rights (the same human rights every time) in order to show people who will never vote for them that... they're reasonable? Dibgy's Hullabaloo site also attracts some pretty powerful co-bloggers, like Dennis Hartley on the 50th anniversary of Revolver (yeah, I know, sooo last year), Tristero on the disgusting displays of false equivalency the media is still peddling, and Tom Sullivan on how belief has become truth even when it objectively isn't.

  • Wil Wheaton is not just the only guest I've ever liked on Whose Line Is It Anyway? (where they actually let him improv a bit), but a fine culture writer as well, as evidenced by his experience watching Rogue One. Meanwhile, his wife Anne Wheaton tells us of her experience watching Wonder Woman, which frankly I think is far cooler but there you are.

  • When it comes to fine blog writing, sometimes all I have to say is "Lance Mannion" (the manliest-named blogger I know!) and everyone in the know will nod. Check out his essays on why the media drooled over Trump during the campaign, which you'd think would be counterintuitive considering how often he kicked them in the teeth; the racist dog-whistles permeating that campaign; a sarcastic apology from a diabetic for making healthcare so apparently expensive for people born without pre-existing conditions (and incidentally a very good primer on how health insurance actually works); how the media still hasn't owned up to how shitty they treated Clinton (and really, how shitty they've treated that entire family for 25 years); and the dangers of ignorance and hubris when you actually have to perform competently and can't. And just like that, about a third of my bookmarks are gone; how can one not bookmark so much of what Lance writes?

  • If you don't want to be saddened, don't read this lovely piece by Xeni Jardin in BoingBoing about Clinton's DNC speech. Or this piece by Caroline Siede on how women are, you know, human beings, so the narrative about a woman being unlikeable is crap because it's often just plain old misogyny. Better to examine the "Millennial Whoop" with Rob Beschizza.

  • Although yeah, I'm still pissed about the whole media Hillary narrative (egged on by way too many liberal men), so I'm going to stay on this a bit longer. As Jessica Valenti points out, one of the roots of this problem is that "we" still don't trust women. As Melissa pointed out when she was writing for ShareBlue, Hillary Coverage is Crap. That was from last year, and nothing's changed, it's still horrid. Mustang Bobby pleads that this mean-spirited fascism cannot be our legacy, Melissa (again at ShareBlue) points out that this is the culmination of what the Republicans have wanted for awhile, and the Rude Pundit decries a world in which "political correctness" (i.e, common human decency) is deemed the enemy. But here we are, in an era where, as Feministing points out, the president likes baldly about how he respects women while denying them personhood. Aside from the Russian election hacking which was treasonously abetted by our current President and his personal mafia, the media went pretty far in aiding his victory. Considering all that it's kind of amazing that millions more people still voted for her. I just hope Marie Javins is right and in the end it will all be okay, and that Mark Evanier is right that sometimes Trump's followers lash out because there's other stuff going on in their lives, and maybe they aren't the pus-filled bags of hatred they present themselves to be online. Is this what's meant by the audacity of hope?

  • Okay, one more and I'll let this rest for the moment. Susie Madrak has a great bit about how it's not a good idea for a democracy to be governed like a family-run business. I mean, like ANY business, in that serving people and making profits are usually antithetical. But I once worked for a guy who dealt with family businesses, and they can be the worst. As Susie says, "when your business experience is based on a family dynamic, you never really learn how to follow best practices for a corporate environment." All the infighting and jockeying for position becomes personal, and oftentimes these folks need a mediator to step in and be a psychological counselor. It can be a nightmare. And this is, as I say, where we are now.

  • PZ Myers, one of those godless liberal professor types (hooray for them!), takes a look at what phrases like "safe spaces" and "trigger warnings" actually mean, rather than what the nasty folks with the media's ear and too much unearned power will have you believe they mean.

  • Arthur links to this powerful essay about 9-11 and the continued emphasis on the wrong things whenever it comes around. Save this, you'll want to read it again in a couple of months.

  • It was never really my cuppa when it aired the first time, but Wil Pfeifer talks about why Battle of the Network Stars should have stayed in the '70s.

  • To end on a serious note, if you ever expect to be faced with being a caregiver for someone toward the end of their lives, you'll want to read Mark Evanier's comprehensive essay on being an advocate.

  • Well, I started this in the morning and am finishing in the evening, which is why (a) I should do these more often and (b) I often need to wait for a vacation day to actually get into it. Thanks for bearing with me!