Wednesday, April 17, 2013

A day late and a dollar short. Actually, lots of dollars short. I am short pretty much all of the dollars.

Once again, Rachel Held Evans' blog is featured, but this time it's this guest post about re-configuring our arguments about homosexuality in the church. I happen to really enjoy reading and hearing arguments that are simply presented, not supported or condemned. I like it when someone has the intellectual integrity to say, "Here is a way of thinking," without feeling the need to let you know how they feel about it. It gives me more room to make up my own mind. Anyway, if that's not your thing, you can skip this one, but i enjoyed it.

I'm a sucker for the romance and mystery of abandoned places, and these photos are so particularly dream-like and artistic that i could easily spend all day looking at them and imagining their stories. Also, there are very few of these places that i would be unwilling to visit, or even live in.

Okay, so i have never seen an episode of Dr. Who. I know, i know, the authorities are coming by later today to revoke my Nerd Card. Anyway, the point is that this post still made sense to and resonated with me. Our personal beliefs and convictions are very important, and it is possible for two people who believe different things to both be right, but the fact that you believe a thing does not make you correct. Your convictions can be based on prejudice, misunderstanding, or even habit. Be willing to be wrong.

I've also not read any of the Game of Thrones books or seen any of the show. I'm the worst nerd ever. The only way i can redeem myself at this point is to attend some kind of comics convention, and i'm just not willing to go that far. But for missing out on George R. R. Martin i can redeem myself a little, because of this post. One tiny excerpt of awesomeness:
"Cersei is evil, eeeeeevil. How do we know she's evil? She's consensually fucking more than one dude, OBVS. Also, she's saying things like "that time you betrothed me to a guy when I was a kid, and then I had to sleep with him even though I didn't want to? That was basically rape" and "nobody has any problems if a DUDE sleeps around, but when I do it's somehow the most damning evidence against my character" and "given the patriarchal slant of our society, sometimes I wish I was a guy!" So, just to be clear: The only female character who consistently levies an institutional critique of sexism in these books? Evil. Eeeeeevilllllllll! You surprised?"

Oh hey, another Rachel Held Evans post! I, also, do not witness on airplanes! I do not witness on Amtrak trains! I do not witness in the park! I do not witness in the dark! I do not like green eggs and ham! Because unsolicited talking about your personal beliefs honestly makes me feel creepy and overbearing and terrible, and i know that i personally would never be won over by such tactics, so i'll have to find some other way of sharing the Gospel! Like maybe by taking care of the least of these and loving my neighbors and all the other stuff that Jesus told us to do!

Last week, someone asked me what Mansplaining was. This post is a really beautiful example of Mansplaining; in fact, it is an example of a man Mansplaining feminism to a woman who writes about feminism professionally. This excerpt is pure gold:
". . . Professor Feminism . . . frames it as a discussion of whether I believe 'men can discuss sexism.' . . . I pointed out that these commenters were men, and hinted as politely as possible at the sexist, Mansplaining dynamic, by asking them if they could 'see a theme.' Apparently, Professor Feminism is not Professor Good At Picking Up Hints, however, because now he thinks I am saying that men should NEVER be allowed to discuss feminism AT ALL, and of course if men can't criticize feminists, what's the point of reading feminists, or attempting to understand feminists?


"Actually, at this point, I'm pretty confident that Professor Feminism is not Professor Understands Sarcasm, either, so I'll spell it out: The point of listening to women and feminists is to listen to women and feminists. Because if you listen to them, you might start to understand certain basic points, such as: women do not automatically have to accept you as an expert, particularly not when the subject under discussion (sexism!) is something you've never experienced first-hand. Women do not have to make you 'comfortable' and 'welcome' in every single conversation. Women do not have to permit you to enter their political movements, their self-created spaces, their personal space, their bodies, or anything else that belongs to them; you, as a man, are not entitled to women's attention, praise, affection, respect, or company, just because you want it. And when a woman says 'no', you respect that this particular woman said 'no', and you stop. You don't make excuses, you don't explain why you should be able to get what you want, you don't throw a tantrum, you don't call that woman names: You just stop what you are doing. Because she said 'no'."

So, i have super mixed feelings about Mad Men. On the one hand, the writing is superb, and i can enjoy just about anything if it is well written. On the other hand, there's lots of sexism and racism and homophobia and classism and all kinds of other terrible -isms. On the other hand, that stuff is meant to be illustrative of Things That Are Wrong In Society, and how we think we're so enlightened and progressive, but really the only thing that's changed in fifty years is the outfits. On the other hand, just because the show is meant as a subtle critique of Bad Things doesn't mean that everyone who watches it and loves it gets that, and many viewers watch the show and long for the days when you could smoke inside, drink at work before noon, and rape as many secretaries as you wanted to. On the other hand, just because some people misinterpret a work doesn't mean that the work is bad. On the other hand, if lots of people misinterpret a work, maybe it's not very well done. On the other hand, Christina Hendricks is mad sexy. So, yeah. I have mixed feelings.
And funny story: my boyfriend and i recently had a fight about Mad Men and how art can be destructive if misunderstood, and if lots of people are misunderstanding your art, maybe it's not very good art? If the story isn't clear to everyone, maybe it's not a story worth telling? And i tend to think that, while all of these things are good points, Mad Men is subtle enough to work its way under your skin and slowly build itself into a healthier worldview for you, just the way that everything else in culture slowly indoctrinates you to be a shitty person.
Example: lots of movies, TV shows, books, poems, paintings, etc., depict rape. Overwhelmingly, rape scenes are portrayed from the male point of view, and are often highly eroticized. So we get this idea that rape is hot, and that girls don't really mind that much when you do it to them. In Mad Men, on the other hand, one of the most famous rape scenes (often referred to as a "rape" scene, because people don't understand rape very well) is from the victim's point of view. Joan's fiance pins her down, holds her hands, and drags up her dress. She fights at first, but then gives up. The camera travels to her face, her eyes carefully blank: this is happening to her, and there is now no turning back. Then the camera actually captures her literal point of view: the scene ends with a shot of the floor, couch, and coffee table that Joan is looking at as she is being raped. "Normal" rape scenes make rape seem sexy, and sometimes even funny and not really rape. This rape scene shows the victim actually being violated. It's sad that i have to spell it out that clearly, but again: people don't understand rape very well.
Anyway. This post is a good example of my mixed feelings. And it starts with a photo of Christina Hendricks, so, two reasons to read it.

This post is what made me start reading Tiger Beatdown. It beautifully articulates a lot of things that make me uncomfortable about Occupy, hipsters, and a lot of other things that Kids These Days are up to.

This is my new favorite fairy tale.

And speaking of Mansplaining, here's another great example.

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