30 June 2010

Amanda Hess and being a feminist geek

So, I have an interview up at The Sexist! It's here. And it was also linked on Border House! (If you are feminist geek and don't follow Border House, get on it. Yesterday.) I talk about being a feminist/lady geek, subversive cosplay and how male geeks sometimes just want you to be their sex objects. It's exciting!

There's also a rather fabulous bit about the complicatedness of "sexy" cosplay at Sexy Geekery:
The issue is something that Courtney mentions–can any of this be reclaiming of female sexuality and femininity, which is pretty much not allowed to exist on its own terms in scifi? I feel like the opportunity is there. Women can be sexual, and even in a “mainstream sexy” kind of way, on their own terms. It’s so hard to define so much of this, though–where are we are genuinely enjoying this, and where are we enjoying the attention? (Because yes, attention can be fun.) I find this relevant because it’s an issue I have when dating–I have often considered punching a boy in the jaw for pushing too hard for me to buy “sexy” undergarments, even though it so happens that black lacy skivvies delight me. Just, like, let me buy them on my own terms, dude. Do I feel hypocritical? Sure. Does it change the fact that one motivation (and often different shopping location) makes me feel skeezy, while the other doesn’t. Likewise, can one girl wear the same costume and feel both of those feelings? Of course. Can two girls wear the exact same costume and one be motivated by feminism and the other by self-objectification? I don’t see why not. Does this become a tangled mess of how do we define and how do we express? Oh fuck yes.
Yes! It is possible, I think, to be progressive, to be feminist, and dressed "sexy" in cosplay. Because dressing sexy is also being a sexual agent (not all costumes are, obviously, but some certainly), which is a radical thing as a geek lady. The reason I find the less "sexy" femme Doctor cosplays more encouraging is that dressing sexy in geek culture is always within the context of the fact that for many male geeks, the only way women being in their communities is okay is if they are objectified, sexy versions of their geek obsessions. That is slightly less true in mainstream culture, where the ability to be objectified second and sexual first is easier (though not easy) and more fruitful. But! It is a conversation feminist geeks need to have, because while I find certain femme Doctor cosplays happier than others, I also don't want to claim categorically that only certain cosplays are feminist and others simply not. That's just incorrect.

Post your comments about cosplay or the interview or just being a lady geek below!
(For those that commented elsewhere because I was slow as shit getting this up, thank you! I appreciate all your insight and sister/brotherhood. Seriously.)

UPDATE: Part Duex; or, Make Your Dude-Dominated Subculture More Accessible to Women

29 June 2010

Quote of the Day (For The Days We Remember)

Adrienne: "Never call an ex-girlfriend (or ex-boyfriend) eight months after the break up with a chip on your shoulder to rehash the break up."

Courtney: "Agreed."

In other news, I will be soon be posting my very own first blog about romance novels, damaging relationship models, and new trends in the genre.

26 June 2010

Linkspam, the graphic edition

Picture time!

First, via Forever Geek, I discovered the artwork of Peter Callesen. I especially enjoyed his paper work, and I thought I'd share it with you!

Big Paper Castle

Erected Ruin

Erected Ruin

Erected Ruin, detail

Erected Ruin, detail

On the Other Side

On the Other Side, detail

Birds trying to escape their drawing

Birds trying to escape their drawing, detail

Next, via The Sexist, I found an online archive of the Punch cartoons drawn by John Leech. The "feminism" tag is by far the most entertaining. As Amanda says, "dude hated bloomers." Because they'll lead to women acting like men. Working outside the home! Leaving those poor, incapable men to struggle with the housework. Proposing for marriage! Asking men to dance! Condescending to their husbands (which is perfectly okay, apparently, if men do it to their wives)! A sample (click for larger):

From Pandagon: Thwarted sperm finally have an advocate. Amanda discovered anti-choice ecards for "men who’ve been violated by women just up and aborting without permission." Behold.

Unconvinced that these cards express the full range of the Fatherhood Forever Foundation's sentiment, Amanda made a few more appropriate cards of her own:

Finally, Geek Feminism points us to an experiment in which seventh graders were asked to draw and describe scientists before and after a visit to Fermilab:
Among girls (14 in total), 36% portrayed a female scientist in the “before” drawing, and 57% portrayed a female scientist in the “after” drawing.

Among boys (17 in total), 100% portrayed a male scientist in the “before” drawing, and 100% portrayed a male scientist in the “after” drawing.

It looks like a visit to Fermilab has no impact on boys’ gender stereotypes about scientists, but it has a strong impact on challenging girls’ gender stereotypes about scientists. For girls, there was a 58% increase in female scientist representation in their drawings; for boys, there was a 0% increase in female scientist representation in their drawings.

If boys grow up to be men, and empirical evidence has no effect on males’ gender stereotypes about scientists, how do we challenge males’ association of science with maleness?
See the drawings here.

Have a good weekend, folks!

23 June 2010


I hate excuse posts! But perhaps that's because I'm writing them all the time. I'm in the home stretch of my French class right now, and it's getting really hard, so my posting is going to be rather sporadic for the next two weeks. I'm working slowly but surely on a couple of posts right now, but I have no idea when I'll be done. But if you're patient, I will regale you with how scientists sometimes piss me off and American exceptionalism! It will be epic. Stay tuned.

21 June 2010

Adrienne and I talk blogging.

We have a new guest blogger, Adrienne! To break her into the blogging rhythm, we decided to do a conversation post, á la Sexist Beatdown. Adrienne is my smart, lovely lady friend in the graduate department with me at A&M, and she is also recently moved from Austin (but for reals, not like me). I'm very excited to have her on board and hope I can convince her to stay for a long time. Today we're going to talk about blogging, because we both like being meta straight out of the gate.

Courtney: Welcome Adrienne!

Adrienne: Thanks Courtney, I'm happy and excited to be joining you. I've had fun posting comments and look forward to how much trouble I can get into in the main blogs. Unlike you, I have significantly less experience with blogs. I don't read nearly as many as you, and this will be my first time actively contributing. So we'll see what happens. Chaos!

Courtney: Chaos is, I think, what the internet was mainly built for.

Adrienne: Woot. And is my middle name? Okay, no. But they start with the same letter.

Courtney: So, blogging! And whyfore! Which is not, I think, how you spell that.

Adrienne: Yes, blogging. And whyfore, which is I think how you spell it. Tell me first about the project you did for gender theory. I read it by the way, and I thought it was excellent.

Courtney: Thanks! This post was originally going to be modeled after a presentation I gave in gender theory class. (Yes, I gave a presentation about my blog in class, because I am a narcissist and love to talk about myself.) For that presentation, I decided to talk about why I blog, which was not a question I had previously answered with a real answer. Something, besides, you know, "Because I'm awesome." Which is true, but not actually an answer.

Adrienne: You are awesome and that, in my opinion, is answer enough. The internet clearly needs more awesome. And I mean that fairly seriously.

Courtney: Reason I love Adrienne #1,556: She tells me I'm great.

So in making that presentation, I figured out that I blog mainly about three things: Doctor Who (and other sci fi things), Texas A&M, and atheism (not so much, but I actually start lots of posts on atheism that I don't end up finishing).

And so I figured that one of the reasons I blog is to orient myself as a lady and a feminist within these three communities, which don't always accept the lady feminists with smiley faces.

Adrienne: They like lady feminists with frowny faces?

Courtney: No, they HAVE the frowny faces.

Adrienne: Ain't that the truth.

Courtney: So my blog acts as the space that is safe for me to complain, critique, and also squee about these communities, where I can determine who I do and don't listen to when I do so, and where I can feel like my opinion is heard. Because it's my space.

Adrienne: And part of this all came about also because certain commenters even in your space were trying to take that away from you...

Courtney: YES. Those well-meaning Doctor Who fans who are all, “if you delete commenters, you are not taking RESPONSIBILITY for your positions.” Which is nonsense, of course, particularly when it comes to anti-feminist trolls.

Adrienne: I find this kind of commentary all the time. Not just on the internet but here too. In having a conversation with a friend recently—he tried really hard to make the argument that I should respect and be polite to those people I actively disagree with—not just actively disagree with but whose opinions are wrong—racist, awful, hurtful, and wrong. And there are times when I do think we should put our foot down and say no—you don't have a voice here.

Courtney: Absolutely. We seem to have, as a culture, this very strange idea of what “fair and balanced” means, since we seem to think that means we should give equal time in debate to total assholes, like the KKK or something. And this idea that “fair and balanced” should be the goal of EVERY SPACE EVER.

Adrienne: Because the whole world has already started off fair and balanced. Because that is the place we start from.

Courtney: YES.

Adrienne: A friend last night at a dinner party made some joke about how there should be penis monologues since there are vagina monologues and I had to walk him through how no, no, that isn't the same thing. I told my friend that the whole world was pretty much already a penis monologue.

Courtney: I have had this exact conversation with acquaintances who joke about how there should be a WET (White Entertainment Television) channel. And I usually say, “Oh, you mean every other channel on TV?"

And talking about the internet is even worse, because people like to act like identity is not an issue on the internet! As a lady who frequents the internet, I call bullshit.

Adrienne: Ha, that is a good point. And it's really strange because the internet and a lot of these places are so male dominated. Just in numbers. I frequent Something Awful—because a) I have a terrible sense of humor and b) just like you, I'm a masochist.

Courtney: True story.

Adrienne: And it is more than clear there that mainstream voices on the internet are heavily male, heavily anti-feminine, and believe, despite this obviousness, that they can hide behind some kind of anonymous mask.

Courtney: Agreed. I think what people mean, when they say that identity is unimportant on the internet, is that, unless I say otherwise, everyone on the internet assumes I am a straight, abled, cis gendered, heterosexual white male. Which is not, you know, actually a good thing, and doesn't erase the serious discomfort I feel in many online spaces. Especially since I go running my mouth off about my feminism everywhere I go.

Adrienne: And then when we point out these privileged attitudes and bring up uncomfortable issues—they have the attitude that we're the ones that are continuing racism, sexism, etc., because we're the ones talking and "harping" on it. If only we'd not talk about it because then it would all go away. Stick your head in a hole. And the whole world will magically change. Because by saying "that's racist!" I'm clearly being racist.

Courtney: That is the most annoying thing ever. I am so glad I wasn't leveled with THAT nonsense when talking about Doctor Who.

Adrienne: Do you think that means the Doctor Who crowd (or those engaged in this discussion) were beyond that argument?

Courtney: Not at all. It's just hard for hard-core fans of DW to claim that I'm taking something too seriously or reading too much into things (which goes hand-in-hand with the argument you're talking about) when they're, like, just as utterly OBSESSED about the show as I am. Or more so.

I want to go back to the anonymity thing, though, because I think it's really important to recognize that that anonymity is always already raced, sexed, etc. It's always already normative, and that's why people look at the internet and say, “See there! A level playing field!”

Adrienne: Yep. Same with "neutral" or "honest" etc.

Courtney: When really, it's just a place where your marginality is unacknowledged and hidden.

Adrienne: “I'm just telling the honest truth”...no no. You mean, you're telling the white middle class straight male truth. That's your truth and it's a huge problem that you think it is everyone's truth.

It's in some ways scarier than people who are willing to say they're racist or they feel women should stay in the homes.

Courtney: Which is not to be all relativist, but internet douchebags often think they can extrapolate from their personal experiences to a frightening degree.

Adrienne: It's insidious and they can't even see how other people would have a problem with it. But then what happens if you extrapolate from your personal experience? “Keep your emotions in check, Courtney. Be logical about the situation. Step back.”

Courtney: YES. White straight dudes get to assume that their experience is the rational one, but if I start talking about my experiences, I'm just being overemotional and too-personal. Harumph.

Adrienne: That connects so much to the American Exceptionalism blog that you'll eventually post.

Courtney: YES. America is not the world, and straight white dude experience is not the rational human experience. THERE. FEMINISM DONE. Let's go eat some cake now.

Adrienne: Hahahahaha excellent. And so much better than what a friend of a friend told me: "Feminism would be done if women would figure out that men can take care of themselves."

Courtney: WUT.

Adrienne: And she looked at me like I should agree. I almost exploded. I think I just excused myself. I honestly had no idea how to even respond in anger to that comment. Where to... so many... oh ohh.... boom.

Courtney: That, friends. That is why we blog.

Adrienne: And why I'm here now. To share awesome stories like that one and to respond.

Courtney: That is so stupid and incorrect, I probably would have laughed at her. I am a ruder lady than you, though.

Adrienne: It was not politeness that made me not laugh... just shock. Although I am sometimes a more polite lady than you. But that isn't saying much.

Courtney: That is true. I make up for my social awkwardness by cussing like a sailor and saying pretty much whatever is running around in my brain.

Adrienne: Ha!!! I pretty much have a heart attack every time you say "fuck" or something in front of authority figures, particularly at school.

Courtney: I know. It's cute how paranoid you are about the people in charge of us.

Adrienne: Their jobs are to judge us! Which they do. I bet they keep written records. Umm, we're totally and hilariously off topic now.

Courtney: I just laughed out loud. For reals. Okay, okay. We haven't talked about you, Adrienne! Why do you want to blog?

Adrienne: Because I think I'm the center of the universe. Because I laugh at my own jokes and need other people to so I don't feel so sad and lonely.

In all seriousness (more seriousness), a big part of why I'm joining the blog is because even though you are doing an excellent job... I think it is important to see strong awesome female community as well. So these kinds of conversations are positive for me. To read and to be a part of. Also, because I need a safe space to rant where I can get on my soapbox and not have to worry about my friends thinking "Geeeez, I wish she'd just shut up."

Courtney: That last one is one of mine too! I'm so glad we're rant buddies.

Adrienne: And by get on my soapbox, I mean, have really necessary and important things to say that are not said enough. They are probably only uncomfortable and soapbox-ish because I'm not willing to shove it all down and smile just because it makes more people happy and comfortable.

Screw happy and comfortable. Screw enjoyable and entertaining. Let's rally for thoughtful, difficult, and intense. Although now that I think about it, I find these things happy, enjoyable, and entertaining. Now if only more people did, instead of something like Avatar.

Courtney: Me, too. Nothing makes me grin more than taking down a Battalion article, for example.

Adrienne: Ooohhh that makes me happy too.

Courtney: So I know you have things to do. Any last thoughts?

Adrienne: Always... look before you cross the street. Never... eat jello. Seriously. Never eat jello. And remember that your words are powerful. Not only how you use them but how they have created you. I hope to use my words here as best as I can, and I look forward to seeing what it'll teach me.

18 June 2010

Quote of the day

Being a feminist is about fighting complacency within yourself and others. It is waking up every morning and knowing that something you do will be shitty and full of privilege. For guys, it is about repeating “If it’s not about you, don’t make it about you” a million times until you understand that it isn’t. That is the process that we all go through to be allies to one another.
-Sady fucking Doyle, from Tiger Beatdown

Linkspam for June 18, the Geek Edition

I'm a bit behind on most of these, so sorry about that.

First up today is this fabulous post by Alisa Krasnostein talking about the invisibility of women in science fiction:
This discussion has never been about overt sexism or deliberate exclusion of women from publishing in science fiction. Ok, it has been in the distant past. But these days, when the supposed obstacles to women getting published and recognized in science fiction have been lifted, we remain often invisible and forgotten. These obstacles may once have included ideas like women couldn’t write “real science fiction” or that women didn’t write as well as men. These days, we argue that the lack of gender balance is a result of far more subtle and subconscious factors. And for me, those factors were at play and well evident in both the Mind Melds and in the lack of reflection by Sutter on his collection of SF “Giants”.


For me, the struggle is always how to explain that the issue at hand is not a deliberate act of sexism, but that a subconscious, unmeaning, unthinking act can be just as harmful. This is especially true when the product is one meant to make criticism and build canon – to say who is worth remembering, and therefore by exclusion, who is not. This may not have been the deliberate intent, yet it remains the final result. And without criticism pointing this out, especially to those who might never see it otherwise, we are destined to repetition.
As she points out in the comments, we need a new way to build canon that doesn't allow us to ignore important (which doesn't just mean famous!) female sci fi authors.

Next, Lore Sjöberg's hilarious The Nice Guy’s Guide to Realizing You’re Not That Nice:

There are any number of geek guys running around out there without the love and companionship that many people and all golden retrievers deserve. Sometimes these guys sit down and try to figure out why they’re living a life devoid of love, romance, sex and discussions about whose hair it is in the shower drain.

They undertake a deep self-assessment, questioning all their long-cherished beliefs about themselves, and this is what they conclude: They’re too nice. And that’s hilarious!

Guys, you’re not “too nice.” That’s like saying you can’t get seated at an L.A. restaurant because you’re too famous.
Avoid the comments, unless you're feeling particularly thick-skinned today.

Geek Studies has this to say about the (heartening) results of the PAX survey on its ban of booth babes:
What’s more, it’s worth noting again that the overwhelming majority of respondents on this survey happen to be men. I’d be curious to see the correlation between the gender of respondents and their answers, but that’s just the researcher in me talking. Even so, if every female respondent liked/loved the ban, and every respondent who disliked/hated the ban were male (which I highly doubt was the case, even before factoring in LGBT respondents), that would still mean that there are twice as many men who don’t want “booth babes” as there are men who do.

Think about that for a moment. Think back, for instance, to that article I linked the other day from Cracked, about 5 reasons it’s still not cool to admit you’re a gamer. Think about how much that piece focused on how the gaming industry tries to market to gamers as if we’re all sex-starved adolescent males.

This is not a safe assumption anymore, if it ever was. This is not just about appealing to a male audience vs. a female audience. This is about how people want to be marketed to, men and women alike.
Next, Border House calls out some advertising for assuming that the default "nerd" is male.
You know, I usually don’t feel the need to append my gender to any identities or titles I might claim. I’m a geek, a nerd, a writer, a gamer, a Witch. Not a lady-geek, a lady-nerd, a lady-writer, a lady-gamer, and a lady-Witch. So any ad that starts out by reminding me that I can’t just be a nerd, but must instead be a lady-nerd, distinct and different from “regular” nerds…yeah, if that’s how you’re going to approach me, I’m just really not. interested.

But I think we can have fun with this. Let’s play opposite day with it! We can talk about the “man-gamer” as if he is the rarest of endangered species, and giggle dismissively at the thought of the positively mythical “male programmer”. See? Default gender assumptions can be fun, when you’re on the privileged side of it! /snark
This isn't, of course, a particular geek/nerd problem, but a problem with the way that our culture sees men as people and women as women. Sociological Images has a number of posts up about this troubling phenomenon.

Speaking of sexism, Forever Geeks pisses me off fairly regularly by suggesting that the way that women can be geeks is by being sexy! (For geek men, of course.) Recently they highlighted Star Wars corsets. The writer of the post then gleefully quotes from the designer's website:
For aspiring Galactic oppressors we offer our Galactic Empire Corset Collection.

Keeping your empire in check is always a little easier if you’ve got everyone’s attention!

Lastly, via Pandagon, this lovely video about what the male fantasy of the fembot says about male attitudes towards women:  

While thinking about this video this morning, I realized that Joss Whedon seems to be professionally fascinated by the feminist implications of the fembot. There's the Buffybot from Buffy, the Mr. Universe's "love-bot" in Serenity, and, one could argue, Dollhouse is premised on the commercial demand for fembots.

Anyway, new and exciting post coming up soon! Cheers!

09 June 2010

It's summer. Time for the slut-shaming!

[Trigger warning. This post discusses slut-shaming tactics aimed toward victims of sexual assault and rape.]

I was going to finish a blog post on the serious topics of "Why I can't fucking stand scientists sometimes" or, "Why manfiction almost made me not become an English major," but slut-shaming in the Battalion is so much more fun! And you can already tell that this article is bad. Look at the picture included! It's fucking infuriating! The implication is that women only dress to be "hot" for men, and that said men are totally fine with sending contradictory messages about what is "hot," via the sexualization of women in advertising, movies, music videos, etc. and simultaneous slut-shaming. Women must be both modest and "hot"! And they must CONSTANTLY care about how men are judging their attire! And men are allowed to judge their bodies and their clothing all the time, because women's bodies are public property, donchta know? You may think that you have the right to wear whatever the fuck you want to (especially when it is 100 fucking degrees outside), but you, Matthew Poarch is here to tell you, are wrong! Women's bodies are not their own! They exist to be policed by fine gentlemen like himself. Fine gentlemen who suggest that raping is the fault of sluttily-dressed ladies, not, you know, rapists.
Summer doesn’t have to mean skimpy. We all know it’s hot, but the clothes - or lack thereof - worn around this time of year leave little to the imagination. It seems like I can’t walk anywhere in town without seeing a half-clothed woman shamelessly flaunting her attributes for the entire world to see. Not only does this have potential for personal safety concerns, but it also leads to poor first impressions.
Oh no! Is my awesome rack distracting Matthew Poarch? Well, then I MUST leave this tube top at home. His imagination and discomfort are so much more important than my own comfort or desires. Also, OBVIOUSLY this tube top will "get me" raped, especially if I am "stupid" enough to drink alcohol.
Those who frequent situations with alcohol should carefully consider how their clothes strike the people around them. Even though women should be safe no matter what, showing too much skin when around men who are more prone to elevated emotions and lowered inhibitions can lead to dangerous situations.

Even those who seem perfectly trustworthy have the capacity to make incredibly stupid decisions under the influence. There is no acceptable reason for men to act like animals, but showing too much skin in these situations can heighten the inherent dangers.

By dressing to attract attention, remember this includes unwanted attention. Sexual assault, stalking and harassment are not issues to be tossed around lightly, but in this context, they are of utmost importance. Nobody wants to be in a situation that could endanger them even slightly; dressing a little more modestly in that environment can be a preventative measure.
Um, fuck you? Rape apologists will never get tired of repeating this old hat, will they? Because that's what this makes you, Michael, a RAPE APOLOGIST. Don't fool yourself that the little line that "there is no acceptable reason for emn to act like animals" somehow balances out your claims that women who dress a particular way are asking for "unwanted attention." You know what prevents rape? MEN NOT RAPING. (That link is hilarious, by the way.) Not women dressing a particular way, or dancing a particular way, or drinking alcohol in a public place.* "Being safe" shouldn't involve abstaining from REGULAR things that young women (particularly in a college town) do, like dressing like they want to have (consensual) sex (clutching! pearls!), or drinking alcohol in a bar. And the onus should never, ever be on women to "be safe," but on men to NOT RAPE.
Immodest dress also does not portray an image of dignity or self-respect. “It looks like they’re just rebelling or trying to be cool,” said Dane Molire, a senior biomedical science major. “It makes them seem like they’re immature.”

Women shouldn’t have to worry about impressing men, especially at the expense of their self-respect and safety. Guys who do think that a women should dress down to show off are not worth the trouble anyway. A man who is impressed by the very thing that revealing clothes accentuate will most likely be shallow and disrespectful.
Disrespectful like a man who thinks that all B/CS** women's clothing choices properly fall under his personal judgment?  Apparently, "women shouldn't have to worry about impressing men," except Matthew. And Dane. THOSE are the men you have to impress, ladies. THEY'RE "worth the trouble," presumably because of their gentlemanliness, as shown by their ability to call you "immature" and suggest that you are asking for rape with your high heels and miniskirt.
The way you dress also sets an example for the younger girls, who can be more impressionable and care more about being cool. Daisy Dukes and a revealing half of a top are creepy and inappropriate on younger girls.

“I wish it wasn’t the style to be immodest,” said Amanda Boudreaux, a senior meteorology major. “When you go to the pool, if you’re covered, you aren’t following the ‘cool’ trend.”
Of course Matthew couldn't write an article about ladies ruining the world (that is, Matt's personal walks about town) with their skimpy clothes without asking WHAT ABOUT THE CHILDREN. It's WOMEN'S fault that young children pick up on the fact that women are sexualized in our culture, natch.

Look, I absolutely believe that Amanda Boudreaux should wear whatever the fuck she wants to at the pool. Or anywhere else. But, it's not every other womans' job to make sure SHE feels comfortable in public. Anymore than it's every womans' job to make Matt feel comfortable, or Dan, or any other misogynistic douche who thinks that women's bodies are under their constant purview. Yes, it's a problem that the "trend," as Amanda puts it, is to publicly sexualize women and make sure that they know constantly that they are subject to objectification. But Matthew? He is still objectifying! He completely disregards the desires of individual women dressing in the way he finds so offensive. He argues that women should still dress to impress men (see: My opinion means everything! Because of my penis! And gentlemanliness!). He thinks he has the right to judge and comment on the clothing choices of women he doesn't even know. He is still treating women like their BODIES ARE PUBLIC.

Matthew's entire article is mansplaining through and through. "Let me mansplain to you ladies," he says, "about what your clothes mean! Also, how they will 'get you' raped! Also, how to attract the good menz, which I will define for you as 'like me.' What? You have your own desires for menz? Your desires are wrong. You want the gentlemenz. I promise."

It ends on a high note:
According to the Bible, Christianity is a religion that emphasizes modest clothing. As the apostle Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 2:9, “women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control.” The direct consequence of immodesty is to arouse illicit desires in men. More importantly, revealing clothes do not reflect the image of one who respects her body. God has called his children to a life of purity and holiness that extends beyond a once a week service. Christianity, however, is not the only religion that supports modesty, and even those with no religious affiliation can benefit from covering up.

Yes, it’s hot, but please dress in a way that shows dignity and class rather than skin. Dressing modestly is not only safer, but it reflects true character and self-respect, along with respect for others.
Why should you dress the way Matthew wants you to? Because another man, Paul (the Bible's resident douchebag), says so. Even if you're not Christian, though, Matthew feels entitled to comment on your clothes! (As an atheist, Matt, thanks for the reassurance that you are authorized to judge my clothing choices!)

Matthew Proacher to should be ashamed of himself. And the Battalion editorial staff should be ashamed of themselves, too.

*Of course, some women do rape, and some men are rape survivors or victims. I'm not trying to diminish that. But Matthew is, of course, talking about the more frequent scenario, in which a male perpetrator rapes a woman.

**That's Bryan/College Station, for the uninitiated.

02 June 2010

Doctor Who fans are uncomfortable with women who want what they want.

Television! That may or may not be what I've been doing with my summer. This is a Doctor Who post, but I want to start with the awesomeness that is Glee, so we can start on a happy note before I get all pissy with DW fans. So, Kurt's dad? Kurt's dad makes me wish I could have him for my dad. He's so awesome! Every time the man talks, he makes me cry. Literally. This week (in the Gaga! episode), he gets onto Finn for being a homphobic dick to Kurt. (Transcript below.)

[Boo! The video was removed from YouTube.]

[Update: Here is a shittier version.]

Kurt: It's just a room Finn! We can redecorate it if you want to.

Finn: Okay. Good. Well, then FIRST thing that needs to go is that faggy lamp. A-and then, we need to get rid of this faggy couch blanket...

Burt, walking in: Hey! What did you just call him?

Finn: Oh, oh no. I didn't call him anything. I was talking to the blanket.

Burt: No, you use that word, you're talking about him.

Kurt: Relax, Dad. I didn't take it that way.

Burt: Yeah, that's because you're 16 and still assume the best in people. You live a few years, you start seeing the hate in people's hearts. Even the best people. [To Finn] You use the N-word?

Finn: Of course not.

Burt: Yeah, how 'bout retard? You call that nice girl in Cheerios [the cheerleading team], with Kurt, you call her a retard?

Finn: Becky? No, she's my friend, she's got Downs Syndrome. I'd never call her that, that's cruel.

Burt: But you think it's okay to come in my house and say faggy?

Finn: That's not what I meant...

Burt [interrupting]: I know what you meant! What, you think I didn't use that word when I was your age? You know, some, some kid gets clocked in practice, we'd tell him to stop being such a fag, shake it off. We meant it exactly the way you meant it. That being gay is wrong, that it's some kind of punishable offense. I really thought you were different, Finn. You know, I thought that being in Glee club, and being raised by your mom, that you were some, you know, new generation of dude, who saw things differently. Who just kinda, you know, came into the world, knowing what's it's taken me years of struggling to figure out. I guess I was wrong. I'm sorry, Finn, but you can't stay here.

Kurt: Dad.

Burt: I love your mom, and maybe this is going to cost me her. But my family comes first. I can't have that kind of poison around. [Turns to Kurt.] This is our home, Kurt. [Turns back to Finn.] He is my son. Out in the world, you do what you want. Not under my roof.

[Finn walks away. Burt turns to Kurt again.]

Burt: Place looks great.

[Burt walks past Kurt and puts his hand on his shoulder, leaving it there. Kurt touches it with his hand.]


Okay, let's talk about Doctor Who! (Spoiler alert, obviously.) First, Moffat has been exceeding my expectations! I worry about him sometimes. But he seems to have matured from the lowest-dominator misogyny of Coupling. (If you haven't seen that, it's like Friends, but more sexist.) I'm still a bit weary, but so far, I am extremely pleased with the Doctor, Amy, and Rory (oh, Rory! I hope you come back), and their relationships. The depiction of the female characters in this series has been impressively three-dimensional and inoffensive.*

That said, there have been some issues. The first I want to talk about is the end of Flesh and Stone. (Yes, I'm behind on this. I know.) The scene where Amy assaults the Doctor was complicated for me.** For one, I love that Amy takes charge of her sexual desires, and that we get to see a healthy adult woman decide to have a one-night stand. It's great! Amy wants sex, knows what she wants, and goes and gets it! Unfortunately, even once the Doctor decidedly says no, she continues to force herself on him, and it starts to get uncomfortable. Not uncomfortable in a look-at-the-poor-Doctor-isn't-it-funny-that-she-won't-stop-kissing-him kind of way, uncomfortable in an oh-god-nearly-every-woman-watching-this-has-had-that-happen-to-her kind of way. The Doctor said no, Amy ignored his non-consent, and continued to try and have sex with him. I'm all for women taking the initiative in sexual contact if they want to, but once a partner has made it clear they are not consenting, YOU STOP. Period. What she should have done, after kissing him and having him pull away from her, is stop trying to touch him and undress him. Several commenters on a recent Shakesville Doctor Who open thread mentioned that this was sexual assault, but the best explanation I found was at Reconciliate:
Do you really think that was sexual assault?

Yes, I really do. The Doctor’s nonconsent was obvious and constant, and Amy did not pay attention to it at all. Sexually touching someone–in this case, attempting to remove their clothes or kissing them–after they have indicated their nonconsent, is sexual assault.

But it didn’t look like sexual assault to me. Sexual assault is violent and serious.

I hear this a lot in rape apology. Often sexual assault that does not take place in a police/military/corporate context involves no weapons nor punching nor direct physical dominance. Many sexual assault victims think of their experience as “the time that person had sex with me/touched me/kissed me and I didn’t want them to,” because they feel as though sexual assault is a concept that should be reserved for something serious.

The truth is, that’s all there is to sexual assault: you indicated you didn’t want to have sexual contact, but somebody made sexual contact with you anyway. (Sexual assault can also happen if someone makes sexual contact with you without giving you a chance to consent.) While sexual assault with a weapon or accompanied by a physical beating can often be more traumatizing to a victim (for example, higher rates of PTSD), any sexual assault is violent.


If Amy thought the Doctor had bad or irrelevant reasons for not wanting sex and wanted to address them, she could have dealt with his concerns before attempting to take off his clothes or kiss him again. She could have stopped touching him and explained that she just wanted one night, not a lifetime relationship.

She didn’t, though. She continually grabbed at him and tried to undress him while he was making his protests and without waiting for his consent. In fact, she showed a total disregard, throughout the scene, for his nonconsent, despite the fact that he was physically and verbally showing her he was flustered, upset, and unwilling. Although the word “no” didn’t pass his lips, he was still saying no every time he physically removed himself, shoved her hands away, redressed himself, and verbally gave reasons he did not want to have sex.

His “no” is unmistakable except by people who have an interest in not hearing it. This is common in instances of sexual assault. Most sexual-assaulters would claim they could tell their victim really wanted it, no matter how explicit the no was.
It's frustrating for me, because Amy's sexuality, and her refusal to be ashamed of it, is one of her best characteristics. So why did the DW writers feel like it was appropriate to turn this scene into one of sexual assault, where Amy find non-consent to be a joke? It felt like this scene was supposed to be funny in a similar way that the Doctor popping out of Rory's bachelor party cake was funny. Amy certainly thinks it's funny, and her cracks during the scene (I'm 907! Don't you know what that means?--It's been a while?) are supposed to make the audience laugh. In the middle of a scene where one character is sexually assaulting another. The writers don't seem to be able to imagine a confident, healthy woman who likes sex without imagining her as unconcerned with her partners' consent. Which I find depressingly disappointing.

Worse than the writer's inability to imagine a respectful sexual woman, however, was the fan reaction, which I wouldn't have even known about (particularly since I haven't listened to DW podcasts in for-fucking-ever) if all my fave feminist bloggers weren't Doctor Who enthusiasts. Kate Harding documents the oh-so-frustrating douchey fan reaction to this episode:
Not only is there slut-shaming galore (I forgot to mention that Amy’s supposed to get married in the morning, so OMG HOW COULD SHE?) but there are several people advancing the theory that her hitting on the Doctor is meant to be read as evidence of mental illness (by which they seem to mean daddy issues and low self-esteem, mostly, but they’re framing it in terms of a disorder). Simply because she wants to have sex with what appears to be a very cute twentysomething guy (ok, he’s a 900-year-old alien, but still) after going through several adrenaline-pumping adventures with him. Previous companions in the new version have either mooned over the Doctor endlessly or kept it strictly platonic, and on a show about time and space travel and aliens and monsters, the fact that no one’s tried to bone him yet has strained my credulity more than just about anything else.

[...In Doctor Who Confidential] the show runner, Steven Moffat (who’s been accused lots of times of being anti-feminist, but whatever, that’s another post) says: ”Here’s this man, this generally rather good-looking man — sometimes older, sometimes younger, but generally good-looking — who’s wonderful, funny, passionate and kind, and the nicest, bestest human being (apparently), you’ll ever meet. And all those girls… didn’t notice? Ever? Not once?” GOD, THANK YOU. ABOUT TIME. Yes, previous companions have been crazy about him, but only in a “You are my One True Love and I will wait around until you think of me that way, which I know you never will” way, so later, Moffat explicitly states the obvious: Unlike them, Amy’s just looking for a romp, not true love, because why not? See also the part around 3:05 where Karen Gillan, who plays Amy, gives her reasoning for why the character went for it: “I don’t know, sometimes you do things in the heat of the moment…when you’re, like, excited, and you’ve shared something with someone and… [shrug].” Indeed. NOT ROCKET SCIENCE.

And yet. Precisely because she just wants sex, a disturbing number of people can’t figure out her motivation. There must be something deeper — something dark and fucked up, in fact — because a young woman just wanting a roll in the hay because hey, you’re here and you’re hot and all that stuff we just did was kind of mind-blowing? Well, that makes no sense whatsoever! To take that at face value, you’d have to believe that girls like sex or something!
WHAT THE FUCK, DOCTOR WHO FANS. It's all okay as long as Amy Pond is our eye-candy hot girl in a miniskirt, doing what she does because it's sexy for us, but as soon as she expresses desires of her own***, she's pathologized? Fuck that noise. I'm going to blow your minds for a minute: Women often like sex. Women sometimes choose, without being mentally fucked up, to have casual sex. These are true facts!

But not only do Doctor Who fans think that Amy is a screwed-up slut for her sex-liking, but mentally ill for also not liking the babies inside her! I've added this blog, Behind the Sofa, to my feed reader recently, and it's not usually groundbreaking or anything, but better than average when it comes to episode-by-episode blog reviews****. Usually when I disagree with these guys, it's in a friendly manner. They tend to not make me want to punch them. But when I saw Neil Perryman's review of Amy's Choice, I almost had an aneurysm. Okay, not really. But I did get super pissed. It just hit me in the face, because I actually liked the review:
In Star Trek this would be the result of a quaintly segregated parallel universe or a bizarre transporter accident but in Doctor Who we are told to accept the fact that the villain of the piece is buried deep within the psyche of our hero. And still is.

How macabre is that?
Did you steal into my heart, Neil Perryman, to figure out why I loved this episode so much? And:
I've noticed that some Pond/Gillan scepticism has reared its head over the last couple of weeks. I just don't get it. Yes, she's full of contradictions, kooky mannerisms and bouts of selfishness but that just makes her feel like a fully-rounded character to me. Even if the crack of doom isn't exerting a malign influence over Amy, her actions seem perfectly reasonable when examined in context.
I love that he loves Amy! And finds Amy scepticism to be silly! Unfortunately, what he doesn't find "perfectly reasonable" is that Amy isn't consumed in rapture because of her unborn child in this episode:
Amy's lack of compassion for her unborn child, as she hastily cobbles together s [sic] suicide pact with the Doctor, could simply be interpreted as yet another subtle clue that the OAP world wasn't real, even if I'm still surprised that the Doctor would go along with her plan considering that he didn't know for sure that she was right, and she wasn't exactly thinking straight having just seen Rory crumble to dust like that.
UGH. I found Amy's pregnancy, and decision to commit suicide even while pregnant, to be perfectly realistic. Especially when it becomes perfectly clear that she doesn't actually want a baby. (Also normal! Not all women want babies!) She chooses the chance of having Rory alive over her baby, and I don't get how this is an irrational or unbelievable choice. Is it because she's a woman? If she was pregnant in the hospital and had to have risky surgery, and the surgeon told Rory they may need to choose between saving her and saving the baby, would Neil Perryman argue that Rory choosing Amy (and not just Amy, but the mere chance of her surviving) is a "subtle clue" that there's something wrong?

Not all women see their bodies as mere incubation containers for the glorious baby-flesh that is inside them when they are pregnant, and are thus quite capable of making decisions that put that baby in danger when they think it's necessary. That doesn't make them mentally ill or whatever. It makes them people who can make their own damn decisions. Like, you know, men.

Even professed Amy-lovers, then, seem to have issues with Amy not following the Patriarchal Narrative of Ladyness, in which she is sexy Only For Men, keeps it in her pants except in Serious Relationships, and Want Babies. Also, Love Them more than herself or Rory. Do you see why I am repelled by Doctor Who fandom?! It is distressing. I am distressed.

*Has anyone else noticed that Doctor Who has pretty much NEVER had an episode pass the Bechdel test? Even when the show has two women (very rarely), all they really ever talk about is the Doctor. Is this different in the classic series?

**I should preface this by pointing out that I am no purist (although I find the arguments that the Doctor is always and forever asexual in the classic series unconvincing, since he starts in the TARDIS with his granddaughter?). I love seeing sex and relationships in television shows because they are present in real life. Without them, it all feels a little Victorian. Which is to say, we all know it's happening, we just don't talk about it. Because sex is dirty and shameful. I'm under the impression that most DW fans who want so very desperately for the Doctor to be chaste have issues. Like, lady issues. My friend Amy asked me what the fuck was up with the anti-River Song movement among fans, and I told her that they are probably mostly anti-Doctor-romance, and don't think the Doctor would ever sully himself with vaginas. Anyway, I find a lack of any sex in Doctor Who totally unrealistic. Why the hell wouldn't the Doctor find any of his companions attractive? They totally are! And he's super hot lately!

***I was going to say, and not for laughs, but this scene appears, as I said, to be intended to be funny. The other moments where we see Amy Pond owning her own desire are also usually wrapped in humor (because nothing's funnier than a LADY liking SEX).

****Unfortunately, it also has seven contributors, ALL MEN. What the hell is up with that?

Ew ew ew. Quote of the day.

My aunt just posted this on my mom's Facebook:
So, what's going on, [cutesy name redacted]?? You're moving back to Wylie??? You're pregnant?? Courtney's getting married? [Courtney's brother's] getting married? Courtney and [her brother] are getting married -- AND you're pregnant??? Am I getting close??????? MISS YOU!
My response: Gross. (I actually wrote that in response. Hope she doesn't get too offended.)