Elayne Riggs' Journal (for Leah)

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Belated Everything Blogaround

The writing bug has been there, itching at me just as much as these stupid allergies. But the shoulder area sprain has really limited my computer time, so I've had to limit my time at keyboard in favor of giving my body a chance to recover a bit. Alas, this means I missed momentous events like Fair Pay for Women day (hey, right now I'm making about the same money as an unemployed man, and anyway I couldn't add to what PortlyDyke says anyway so there you go) and Marie's birthday and Lisa's birthday and even the nuptials of Lou Reed and Laurie Anderson (the perfect couple whom I didn't even know were a couple, that's how removed I am from the music scene). So here I go catching up, whee!:

• Congratulations to Jamal and Karine Igle on the birth of their beautiful daughter Catie!! I wish we didn't live two boroughs away, I can hardly wait to meet the li'l darlin'.

• I've been saving it for awhile but it still makes me giggle: the awful Bendis Doom dialogue (which I mentioned in my last blogaround) inspires the MightyGodKing.

• As Melissa Silverstein mentions when discussing her encounters with Obama-bots, this is not a post-feminist world. It's a sexist one. Another Melissa, namely McEwan, has had an amazing number of great feminist posts I've bookmarked these past couple weeks, incuding ones discussing the origins of her website's name (following on a post by Kate, who also authored a wonderful Obama-skeptical post); weighing in again on Clinton and misogyny; examining the place of frivolous and fun posting (hey, my specialty!) amidst all the sturm and drang; and positing the objectivity of sexism and critique thereof.

I'm not sure I entirely agree with the last one, but it's impossible to comment on there because Shakesville just gets so many comments that, by the time I get to the thread, it's already so laden that anything I had to say would get lost in the morass. Fortunately, I have my own blog! See, I get what she's saying about determining the existence of sexism in various situations based on historical and recognizable patterns, and that people who've spent a long time noticing and studying such patterns are fairly expert about them. However, I also think one can get so caught up in seeking patterns in a random world that it's easy to see them where they may not exist -- I mean, look at pareidolia. So I'm not sure that something Observer A sees as sexist and Observer B doesn't is objectively sexist, and I don't think that has anything to do with intent. I minored in Women's Studies in college over half a lifetime ago, I'm not new to this. I just don't think things are as cut and dried as Melissa seems to depict them. We're human beings, we love to ascribe patterns to things. And patterns can be helpful in human interactions, but aren't always a determinant factor. So while I'm about 80% with Melissa here, and I really adore her Matrix analogy, I'm just a bit too skeptical to concede that other 20% yet.

• Of course, sexism is still the norm at MSNBC. Over at HuffPo, Eric Boehlert links to his insightful Media Matters column about how profitable misogyny has been for Chris Matthews, and Rachel Sklar discusses a Countdown conversation wherein Keith Olbermann suggests to one of the network's company players that what Clinton really needs is "Somebody who can take her into a room and only he comes out." Words fail me. If the former sportscaster maintains this locker room mentality, he'll find lots more discerning viewers opting to watch baseball games instead. At least with MLB you get overt discrimination against women, so you know where you stand (i.e., specatators only, thankyouverymuch). Molly Ivors has given up. At Corrente, both Sarah and BDBlue) are disgusted. The Left Coaster's eriposte has another compendium of reactions. Eric at Wampum links to a MadLib of Chris Matthews hyperventilating after a debate that would be very funny if it weren't so sadly true. Kathy G suggests more concerted action. And eRobin is swinging towards Hillary due to all this nonsense but reminds folks again, as I have, that neither Demo candidate is progressive in any real sense of the word.

• Sexism sometimes affects fantasy worlds as much as the real one. Many feminists like Amanda are shocked by something dreamt up this year at a con in Ann Arbor called ConFusion, which named itself the Open Source Boob Project. Here's an overview. I liked Lisa's reaction of applauding how quickly feminist sf fandom came down on this idea. I haven't been heavily involved in sf fandom in over 30 years, but I remember the years of the Langdon charts, of feeling flattered by any sort of sexual attention because fandom was a haven for misfits and the "mundanes" wouldn't give geeky girls with few social skills the time of day so we should be grateful that men of even fewer social skills wanted to be, erm, socially skilled with us. Pre-AIDS scare, all sorts of sexual experimentation went on at sf conventions; 30 years later I still can't shake the memory of how little self-esteem I had then, and how desperately happy I was to be treated for a mercifully brief time as a sexual object because that's all I felt I had. Fortunately, my feminist sensibility roused me from this path well before I ventured past the point of no return, and I was able to continue living with myself after bidding sf fandom adieu. And lo and behold, geeky guys who actually had social skills wound up befriending me, two of whom I even married (although Robin's not quite as much of a fanboy as Steve, he's geeky in other directions). It's a bit disturbing to see that the more things change the more they remain the same, but it's extremely encouraging that many of today's female geeks have way more self-esteem at their beck and call than I did at their age.

• The other major controversy this week has to do with the aforementioned Amanda, who has been one of my favorite feminist bloggers for awhile. First she wrote an article for AlterNet, the ideas in which were largely taken from a blog by BrownFemPower, unattributed. BFP subsequently stopped blogging, leaving the feminist blogosphere quite bereft. Then Amanda showed off the cover to her new book, It's A Jungle In Here. This was the 2.0 version, as the original had featured a gorilla carrying a scantily-clad woman. The revised version featured art from the Atlas comic Lorna the Jungle Girl, and my first reaction was twofold surprise: that Werner Roth's art was apparently in enough public domain that Seal Press felt they could use it; and that Amanda didn't mind the Roth-drawn "headlight" style which overemphasized certain assets. Hey look, another Open Source Boob Project! But not really being that familiar with the specifics of Roth's art, I was really bowled over when I found out the interior chapter art was full of Lorna coming to the rescue of mansels in distress by defeating caricatures of dark-skinned natives. Yeah, you can't blame people for not being ahead of their time. But that excuses Roth, not Seal Press. Apologies from both parties quickly followed, as they know on which side their bread is buttered and, as a friend of mine once pointed out, it's easier to ask forgiveness than permission. Here's my question, though: couldn't Seal Press have found an artist to duplicate Roth's style and draw an entirely new cover and chapter headers? There are lots of wanna-be pros out there who'd do it for free, just for the chance to get their art seen. Really poor pre-planning all around, I say. Here's what others say, and do read them, they're all important: Pam (Amanda's Pandagon partner), Barry, Jill, Melissas McEwan and Krause, Carla, Lisa (the second half of her Open Source Boob post) and Avalon's Willow. Then read Cheryl Lynn, who keeps amazing me over and over with how cogently she gets to her points. Someone please hire this woman as a pro writer, now! Give her a Misty Knight series and she'll be a happy camper.

• See, with all this going on there's a reason I don't feel I need to read the right-wing blogs. But if you do, you'll want this guide from Roy Edroso with illos by Tom Tomorrow. Tom was the first person to welcome me to the political blogosphere, and Roy has always been a total delight whenever I've seen him.

• A few more political bits and bobs: I concur with Leigh's call for a National Action Day this coming Thursday (aka MayDay) to actually do something constructive instead of sitting around praying. I wish we didn't need this primer from Tristero on why torture is wrong, but this country has become a slightly different America from the one in which I grew up. Athenae finds the disembodied head of John McCain, on jewelry. Florida license plate expert Bryan reveals where the money goes from the proposed "I Believe" plate. And the good Roger Ailes tells the tale of Popeman Ratz and his black and white cat. (No, I don't know the cat's color, that was just a reference.)

• Fun stuff now! Sheila Lennon reports on ROFLCon. That kind of brings LOLdom full circle, doesn't it, since all those wacky abbreviations used on blogs and texting had their origin with sf fandom and zines (I first encountered "LOL" in apas over a quarter century ago).

• Who's sari now? Sara is! I've always wanted to wear saris, now I want to even more.

• Passover's almost, well, over now. But don't let Laraine Newman's remembrance of Passover, SNL style pass you by! Also, via BoingBoing, and this one's for Mom, which imaginary animals would be kosher?

• Speaking of food, Chris Cosentino sounds off on PETA's latest publicity campaign; Michael Symon officially announces he's taking over Dinner: Impossible from its now-disgraced former host; and Larry Gonick makes this turnip recipe look so good I might even try it, once I get a cast-iron pan.

• Dwight Schrute, for one, welcomes our spring overlords.

Dorothy Snarker is psyched for the female buddy-movie Baby Mama.

• Cool, Darwin's Garden, right here in the Bronx, not more than a 10-minute drive from here! Anyone wanna go? Also at Pharyngula, PZ makes the best case for "anonymity bad, pseudonymity okay" that I've read in a long time.

• John Hodgman really likes this musician:

I would too, if she didn't look so bored playing music so interestingly.

• Ken Jennings has yet another example of Superman being a dick. And we end with Marie showing us some nice examples of graphic storytelling around the world.

Ow, my shoulder. Till next time, y'all!