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Part 1: I feel scared to talk about how scared I feel for fear that the admission of vulnerability will make me more of a target, for either negative comments or well-meaning dismissal of my fear. I'm a woman, a lesbian, and a Jew. One side of my family is Jewish. The vast majority of my friends are women, queer people, people of color, and/or people with ongoing health issues that require care. I feel terrified about what will happen to us, to other vulnerable populations, to our country, to the world in the next year, four years, however many decades the next president's nominees sit on the Supreme Court.

Part 2: A prayer for the new year and always:

May our hearts be open.
May we be thankful.
May we choose love over hate, kindness over contempt, compassion over fear.
May we choose creation over destruction, peace over war, hope over despair.
May we choose the liberation of all over power for the few.
May we believe the stories of others and may our stories be believed in turn.
May our wishes for life, health, and happiness extend beyond the borders of our own families, our own communities, our own countries.
May the entire universe be filled with peace and joy, love and light.
May our hearts be open.
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I kind of wanted to see Begin Again anyway, and then [livejournal.com profile] lakeeffectgirl kept talking about how great it is, so I put it on my calendar and went to see it on Saturday.

If you want a very detailed recap of the movie, go read [livejournal.com profile] lakeeffectgirl's post. Here's my brief recap so you know what I'm talking about: Spoilers and Progressive Politics )
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Something I've been thinking about off and on is how the NHL will/would change as a social organization if there were (a) female players with male partners or (b) male players in relationships with men. I mean, I already have a lot of questions about what life must be like for players' wives and girlfriends (imagine how incredibly lonely Sylvie Briere must have been when they moved to Philly), but how would that change if the partners included men? Note: I am talking here about public relationships; I assume there's at least a player or two with a male partner and they're just not out.

First of all, if you follow any of the Tumblrs dedicated to pictures of hockey wives and girlfriends, you'll eventually notice most of the women fit a very similar type: white, conventionally attractive, traditionally feminine, long hair, lots of blondes. (I expect you'd find the same pattern in the female partners of any group of rich, white men between the ages of 18 and 30.) But when there are out gay/bi players in relationships with men, or straight/bi female players in relationships with men, are their partners going to fit a specific type? Or is there a wider range of socially accepted attractiveness for men?

Secondly, I'm interested in what the day-to-day lives of male hockey player partners would look like. I ran across this post where someone who claims to have dated a hockey player talks about hockey wives and girlfriends not having jobs outside the home:

But I honestly don’t know 1 guy who wants their gf to have a career. The guys are gone most of the time and when they are home, they want full undivided attention. If you work a 9 to 5 job, you are only going to see your guy maybe 2 nights a week when he is at home but there isn’t a game. The girl keeps him organized, buys presents for family members bday, goes grocery shopping, sometimes does laundry, sometimes cleans (depends on arrangement) and cooks or provides food for him to eat. When u are both there, your job is to be there for him physically, mentally, emotionally, sexually. The time you have for yourself is when he is away, then u can make phone calls home, hang with the girls etc. if a girl can agree to this, then in most cases he is ok with spending the $. This was one of the hardest things for me. When I was with my ex, my own life stopped. I put off semesters of going to my dream school so I could follow him around and be with him. My personal life was suffering. My friends were living it up in college and I felt like a housewife. Eventually I had to end it (for other reasons as well) because being strong and independent was more important to me than it was him.
In some ways, I find this to be a disturbing look into the gender roles of extremely privileged people. (Uh, let's be clear: I'm not condemning women who agree to this life. If I had a partner with a job she loved that paid her an outrageous amount of money, there's no way in hell I would have a day job. What I find disturbing is both the expectation that this is the only option and the part where "your job is to be there for him physically, mentally, emotionally, sexually." What if you need him to be there for you? Or you don't want to have sex when he does?) In other ways, I find it to be a fascinating look into the lives of hockey player relationships. And again, my question is: what happens when those partners are men? Does this pattern still apply? Does it apply if the male partners are partnered to men but not to women? Will the wider cultural expectation that men must be independent outweigh the hockey culture expectation that a player's partner's most important job is to support the player?

Thirdly, what happens to the charitable auxiliary arms of NHL teams when there are male partners involved? The Flyers' large public event/charity fundraiser is the Carnival, also known as the Flyers Wives Carnival, technically the Flyers Wives Fight For Lives Carnival, put on by the Flyers Wives Charities. Several teams have fashion show fundraisers where the players' partners are the models for the fashion shows. What happens when some of those partners are men? Does the Flyers Wives Charities (which is already inaccurately named given how many players have partners they're not technically married to) change its name? Do the male partners model men's fashions on the charity runways? How do male partners feel about being the charitable auxiliary? What's it like for the women to suddenly have a man as part of their group? How does that change the group dynamics?

I find all this interesting as a thought exercise, but I also want to see (more - there are at least a couple of stories that somewhat touch on it) fic that tackles this issue. If Tyler Brown stops playing hockey and becomes Tyler Seguin's househusband, does he arrange every part of his life around being available for Segs when he's home? How does he feel about that? Does it cause friction in their relationship? If a male player has a male partner who's never been part of the hockey world before, how does this system work for them? Does the fact that they're an out gay couple complicate it? If there are female players with male partners, how does this work for them? Do their partners resent this arrangement, or do they find partners who see supporting their partner and her success as more important than asserting their independence as men? These are the kinds of questions I keep thinking about.
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Today I'm thankful for Obama's re-election. I will always choose the candidate who thinks I have the right to (a) be an equal citizen and (b) make my own medical decisions.
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My mom and I went down to Sacramento last month to see Wicked. She saw the San Francisco production a few years ago; I knew almost nothing about it except that it's different from the book (which I haven't read anyway) and that it's femslashy.

Spoilers, ranting, and a recs request. )
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Patrick Kane

I love some varieties of fictional Patrick Kane. The real thing, not so much. I agree with pretty much everything in [livejournal.com profile] meiface's post on the subject (and her conversation with [livejournal.com profile] diora1 in the comments). Here's my problem: I have a number of in progress stories about him that I want to finish because I like them. But I don't want anyone to think I'm endorsing anything about how he chooses to behave. Maybe I'll have to just slap a "this story does not imply any endorsement or approval of actual Patrick Kane" disclaimer on things. (I expect this whole thing won't have a huge impact on fandom as a whole, since one BNF seems to be saying yes to fictional Patrick Kane/no to real life Patrick Kane and the other BNF seems to be ignoring it completely.)

Reunited Marrieds

This reads like the fake news story in an epic Jeff Carter/Mike Richards fic, except that it's an actual article on nhl.com. See also the primer, the reading of which made them my current favorite hockey story because they have a narrative plot. I would read so much fic about them. Specifically, [livejournal.com profile] lakeeffectgirl and I would like someone to write a soulbonding story where they're just soulbonded dudebros until they get separated, at which point just being bros is not enough. I started telling myself part of that story yesterday, and then I skipped to imagining Richie holding girl!Carter up against the door after she provokes him into fucking her the way she wants. (Whatever, like you didn't already know that was my kind of thing.)

Marrieds with Kids

Once upon a time, Claude Giroux and Danny Briere lived together in matrimonial bliss with their three kids and two dogs:

Videos. Yes, this is all real news footage. )

Then Claude moved out and baby rookie Sean Couturier moved in:

Video. Sean actually is the fourth kid. )

For some reason (most likely a combination of no BNF interest and a "they're so slashy; why bother writing about them?" approach), there is very little fic about all of this. For an even more unknown reason, I'm very invested in Danny and/or Danny and Claude being parental towards Sean. (I may have written approximately nine hundred words of them all being a family yesterday.)
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I saw The Hunger Games last weekend with two fangirls, a fangirl's wife, and my mother, which was a lovely group of women to spend the morning and lunch with. I've been slacking on making a post about the movie because I really only had three things to say. Now, however, I'm on a Hunger Games email thread that has brought up a fourth thing about the series that I want to talk about. This entry does include political discussion on race and gender lines, so if that isn't your thing, you can read to the first two points below and then leave this post.

The movie as an adaptation. )

The pairing I didn't expect to see. )

Race. )

Gender and Romance )
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Yuletide Story for Me
Someone wrote me Unasked. Rizzoli & Isles fic, just for me!

Yuletide Guessing Game
I wrote one story in the main collection and one in the madness collection. I talked to many of you about my story in the main collection, so those of you who heard about it are ineligible for guessing on that one, but I didn't talk to anyone about my madness story since I didn't know I was going to write it until I did. Anyway, if you guess what I wrote, I will write you a snippet of your choice!

Yuletide Recs
I surprised myself by how few Yuletide fandoms I actually wanted to read stories in. (The sexism/misogyny of so many of the requests I read on the spreadsheets of all requests also soured my enjoyment of the whole thing. Really, fandom, we're still doing that?) Of the things I did read, the following are the stories I liked best. AO3 usability hint: if you hate the Yuletide banner/margin, delete "collections/yuletide2011/" from the URL and it'll show the story without the Yuletide stuff around it.

open problem (Push, gen) - This is a fantastic post-movie story that manages to incorporate the same kind of twists and turns the movie does, and there's a line in there that is just a phenomenal perspective on the whole plot.

And You're Overdue ("You Make Me Feel" video, Gabe/Sabi) - I liked a lot of things about this video, but hated the way it reinforces the supremacy of couples and coupledom. This story fixes all that by making it a soulbonding story in a world with empaths, succubi, and other supernatural types. It also has this fantastic piece of dialogue about Gabe: "You were easy to find. Everything about you is very loud and your tour schedule is on the Internet."

All the Little Lives We Could Have Lived (Titanic RPF, Kate/Leo) - This is not a pairing I would have ever thought of on my own, but the fact that there was a story on some commentfic meme a while ago made me click on the fandom in the Yuletide collection. This is a lovely story that spans decades. I loved both the portrayal of their relationship and the way they are both such interesting characters.

Amy Potter and the Monkey of Salvation: an America's Test Kitchen Adventure (Cook's Illustrated/TV Commercials, gen) - I was curious about cookbook fic, and I have a soft spot for fic about Mayhem, so of course I had to read this. It's great. It's adorable and it made me laugh.

Three Scenes from Tiny Cooper's 2014 New Year's Eve Party that Will Definitely Be in His Autobiography (Will Grayson Will Grayson, Tiny/Will) - I was iffy about Will Grayson Will Grayson fic because the book is so fantastic, but this story didn't disappoint at all.

Other Holiday Challenge Recs
I read a handful of [livejournal.com profile] bandomstuffsit fics today, and there were two I absolutely loved.

Food Of Love (Play On) (Alex/Ryland) - This is a semi-AU where Cobra Starship never got off the ground, so Ryland is a waiter/aspiring actor who also plays in Gabe's band on the weekends. He meets up with Alex again when Alex becomes the new sous chef at the restaurant. This story is so perfect. It's romantic and funny and delightful. I almost emailed one of you a rec today, and then I realized the person I was going to email probably wrote the story and had to put it in a post instead.

the times, they are a-changing, or: a modern marriage of convenience (Brendon/Spencer) - There's sort of a plot here - Dallon suggests that since they're both single at the holidays, Brendon and Spencer should hook up - but mostly there is a really hot, kinky sex scene with Spencer subbing.
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Perhaps you're stressed about Yuletide. Perhaps you're worried about those last few holiday gifts you still haven't bought. Perhaps you hate LJ's newest "improvement." Perhaps your office was eighty degrees in the middle of winter. I am here to tell you: you can put all that aside and enjoy the following links.

Good News 1
The first queer Navy homecoming kiss involves lesbians. Both of whom are in the Navy. Original (now overloaded) link courtesy of [livejournal.com profile] j_crew_guy.

Good News 2
There isn't just going to be a Fast and the Furious six. There's going to be six and seven. (Spoilers at the link for Fast Five.) Link courtesy of chainsawkatana.

Rec
The Art of Seduction (John/Sherlock) by flawedamythyst is a Sherlock AU where instead of The Science of Deduction, Sherlock's website is The Science of Seduction. It's essentially a Queer As Folk UK AU (and it's very much making me want to rewatch that), and it's fantastic. It's funny, it's romantic, and it has the same kind of urgency as QAF UK. I meant to stop reading and finish up my Yuletide story hours ago, but I couldn't tear myself away. Although it's on AO3 as a series of three stories, the first two both end at places where you'll want to keep reading, so keep its length in mind when you start reading. There is some graphic violence in part two; if that sort of thing is tough for you to read, you can skip the details and still get the idea of the story.
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I promise this is the last one of these entries for now, but I have some thoughts that didn't quite fit into either of the previous two, one more it is. Again, this entry involves pop culture critique along political lines, and if that's not your thing, you should skip it.

You may remember when I said that I would probably only watch Prime Suspect episodes when I was in the mood for a cop show. That hasn't been my actual approach. I have, instead, watched every episode. I still don't care about it as a cop show; I find their cases very uninteresting. But I find everything else that happens around the edges of the show fascinating. There are two particular points I want to talk about in comparison to my previous two entries.

First, the approach to cultural practices. Spoilers for Prime Suspect and H50 )

Second, although she was very much in the background, this show had a neutrally presented fat woman. Details/Minor Spoilers )
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This entry moves from gushing to contemplative and critical to critical. This is an entry comprised mostly of pop culture critique along political lines, specifically around issues of sex and race. If that is not fun for you, or you don't think that's a worthwhile use of fannish energy, you should skip this entry.

This entry includes spoilers for all aired episodes of all three of these shows.

Rizzoli and Isles

Have you ever watched a buddy cop show and thought, "If only this were about women"? If so, Rizzoli & Isles is the show for you. Angie Harmon plays detective Jane Rizzoli while Sasha Alexander is medical examiner Maura Isles. Together, they solve cases. They're also the kind of buddy cops who are practically married. They go undercover in a lesbian bar in season one and pretend to be together (unfortunately badly) in season two. They bicker and talk about fashion and facts and people. The show also does a fantastic job of including Jane's family. And I like the male cops. My two favorite things from this season: Spoilers )

Haven

Earlier this year, [livejournal.com profile] norwich36 linked me to an anonymous thread about shows with strong women characters to catch up on over the summer. Haven was one of them, so I started watching it. I was fascinated by how many people commented back about it when I tweeted about it, particularly for a show I'd never even heard of before. It's really good. Those of you reading this might also like it: the lead character is a woman, and there's a fantastic slash pairing. (Nate/Duke forever! Where is my story where they're exes?) But in the context of this post, what I want to talk about is how Audrey is interestingly nonsexual and nonsexualized, which is not something you see in women on TV. Spoilers )

Suits

In case you haven't noticed, I love Suits. The plot is stupid and gets in the way of a really fun show, but the fun stuff is enough to make up for it. My strategy has been to watch it once, and then only watch the fun parts again. But that's not what this post is about. This post is about women, so let's talk about the women on Suits. Parts of fandom (including me) are very excited about the women: Gina Torres as Jessica Pearson, lawyer whose name is in the firm name and who got Harvey out of the mail room and into law school in some fashion we haven't been made privy to yet; Sarah Rafferty as Donna, Harvey's fantastic assistant who gets all the best lines; Meghan Markle as Rachel Zane, paralegal who's smarter than most of the firm but with test-taking anxiety that's keeping her from taking the LSATs; and Vanessa Ray as Jenny, Mike's best friend Trevor's girlfriend who later becomes Mike's girlfriend. (Okay, fandom isn't as fond of Jenny. I think there are strong possibilities for some interesting stories there, but fandom's "OH MY GOD A WOMAN" thing means no one's likely to write them.)

But what I haven't seen yet (largely because I haven't gone looking for Suits conversation outside of the two email threads I'm on) is any discussion of the ways in which the show's portrayal of women is problematic. I think there's a layer of sexism on the show that's particularly insidious precisely because it's under the surface. Details/Spoilers )
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I have been so unsatisfied with this season, with the exception of episodes eight and nine, which returned to the original formula. [livejournal.com profile] eleanor_lavish made a long and excellent post (friends locked) about many of the things that are wrong with it. I added a few more things in my comment to her, which I am reposting here (and also one more thing I forgot in the heat of the commenting moment) both so those of you who don't have her friended can read it and because I worry that, like the person whose comment sparked her entry, you might not have seen any critique of this season:

Spoilers )
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When I was traveling in April, I read The Ethical Slut: A Pracitcal Guide to Polyamory, Open Relationships & Other Adventures, second edition, by Dossie Easton and Janet W. Hardy. The book is organized into four sections: "Welcome," "The Practice of Sluthood," "Navigating Challenges," and "Sluts in Love." The "Welcome" section is set up to introduce you to the very concept of polyamory, which made me laugh. I'm a fangirl; you don't need to convince me that polyamory is a possible way to live one's life. The other sections are more practical, full of advice and suggestions on how to live a polyamorous life.

There are three things I do want to talk more in depth about concerning the book as a book. Cut for length and a quote about sex. )

I'm not sure I would really recommend the book. It has a conversational tone that started to irritate me after a few chapters. I suppose the concepts in it are fairly radical if you're not used to reading a fair amount of threesome fan fic, and it probably is useful if you're actually in a poly relationship of some sort, but I think it just wasn't what I wanted from a book about polyamory. I may have to look through the books in their resources section, because I think more than a how-to, what I would find interesting is more of a look at people's different poly configurations.
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Edit: The comments have made clear to me that I have done something I didn't want to and written a post that made people feel talked at. So this is a belated disclaimer: This post is about what I think about when I'm writing and what I think about this particular discussion in fandom. This is not a prescription for what you should do. I do believe the fandom as escapism approach is absolutely valid and useful, and I also go through periods of wanting just stories and no meta in between periods of wanting to tell you everything I think about meta topics. /edit

A very long while ago, [livejournal.com profile] inlovewithnight linked to a very interesting post about the question Why am I not writing the stories I say I want to read? In case you don't want to read the post, the question is specifically around the issue of saying we want more fic about women and poc characters but continuing to write slash about white men. ([personal profile] happydork phrases this entirely about her, but I'm using "we" deliberately because I think it extends beyond just her.)

For me, the one of her reasons that I'm actively changing in my own writing is the "habits of mind." She says, "There are comfortable ruts in my mind that any story I write can happily rest on. It takes me a long, long time to change these, and a lot of thought, insight and effort." But we can change them, and even if it takes a long time, you have to start somewhere. I've specifically, consciously been doing this around writing about women and gender roles. I'm sure I'm not always successful, but I have been making the effort. I specifically tried to avoid anything that referenced roles that were determined by gender in Fighting For (although I reread it somewhat recently and realized I missed one that needed to come out). I made an effort to make You Have My Heart (In Your Hands) pass the Bechdel test. When I edited A Great Idea to fix the sex scene, I also took out Andi's references to being "girly" as something she didn't want to be/like being.

Part of my resistance to editing my Gabe/Victoria accidental marriage story is that it's at least 40% about how Gabe doesn't sleep and Victoria gets him to - and I don't like the idea that a woman's role is to be in service to men. I've had people tell me that every relationship has its give and take, that if you have trouble sleeping it's easier with someone else in bed with you, and that one plot point is not necessarily a patriarchy-upholding pattern. And yet, I'm still uncomfortable with it. It may just be one plot point, but it's one plot point in the context of a society that tells us in a million other ways that women are supposed to serve men.

This got a little long, plus this part talks about sex and sex writing. )

There's one more point in this discussion where you might have figured out what I think but I'd like to say it explicitly. In a comment on [livejournal.com profile] inlovewithnight's post, [livejournal.com profile] mosca said:
I think there's an additional wrinkle here, which is that there's so much "We have to write more women and people of color!" talk, that when one actually writes about a woman or a person of color (especially the latter), it's often seen as a political move rather than an actual expression of fannish affection for that character.
There's an implication in [livejournal.com profile] mosca's comment - and particularly in the fannish response it describes - that writing about a woman or a person of color as a political move is a bad thing. I don't think it is. Fandom isn't going to change unless we - the people who make up fandom - make that change happen. One way to make that change happen is to choose to tell stories based on the political change we want to make in combination with what interests us.
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In a batch of links yesterday, [livejournal.com profile] j_crew_guy linked to Gaming, rape culture, and how I stopped reading Penny Arcade (serious trigger warning, also this link goes to the printer friendly one-page version which will also open a print dialogue; just close it and you can continue on to the article). I knew that something had happened around PA and jokes about rape, but I hadn't really followed the story. The full story made me sick to my stomach (I really mean that trigger warning). I actually stopped reading PA well before this, mostly because I got behind and kept meaning to pick up again where I left off, but then it had been a really long time and I didn't remember where that was, and I wasn't willing to just jump back in wherever it was. Now, I really won't be going back to catch up. One of my friends and I exchange Child's Play donations for holidays, and I may have to rethink that too.

I have been following Gabe and Tycho on Twitter, mostly for their cute kid stories/pictures. (Their kids are super cute.) I'm rethinking that now, too, and not just because of their idea of what's funny. I'm also bothered by the casual sexism of something Gabe said last week: "Possible hunger games spoilers: Just finished the first book. If you are a boy who identifies with Peeta that is a really crappy book." Here's what's wrong with that: Peeta is a secondary character. The main character, the one everything about the book tells you to identify with, is Katniss, a girl. By saying that he identified with Peeta - and suggesting that boys in general will identify with Peeta - Gabe is reinforcing the idea that men don't, and don't need to, identify with female characters. That is not okay. Everyone, every last one of us, needs to be able to identify with people who aren't like us. How else can we create a more just, loving, and compassionate world?
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Some amount of time ago, a friend (possibly [livejournal.com profile] schuyler, but I could be wrong about that) linked to the Ukrainian polka band cover of "Hot 'N Cold" and said it was proof that Katy Perry is a better songwriter than singer. I couldn't quite agree with her because what I find offensive about "Hot 'N Cold" is the way it relies on stereotypes about women to make its point: "You change your mind / like a girl changes clothes / yeah, you PMS like a bitch / I would know." This is often what I dislike about Katy Perry's music; I actually like her sound - it's catchy! - but nearly every song of hers I've heard has at least one set of offensive lyrics. (This is why I adore "California Dorks.") But now there's a cover that makes me believe in Katy Perry's songwriting skills.

Last week, Mark Rose did a cover of "Teenage Dream" (link goes directly to the mp3). "Teenage Dream" is something of a love song even when Katy Perry sings it, but Mark truly turned it into a soft, lovely love song. It's also a fascinating look at the influence of gender roles on meaning/perception. When Katy Perry sings "I might get your heart racing / in my skin-tight jeans" and "let you put my hands on me / in my skin-tight jeans," it grates because it reinforces all the other bajillions of messages we get telling us that women - especially entertainers like her - are sex objects. Mark is a man, and in a society where men are sex subjects, not objects, that element of meaning disappears and the "skin-tight jeans" become just part of the song. I think this is a big part of why I love straight up covers by artists of a different gender than the original artist.
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Two weeks ago, a couple of people on Facebook posted Ellen's video about the recent spate of bullying-related suicides. It made me cry. I wanted to repost it, but I didn't know what to say, and I didn't know if I wanted to say it on Facebook, for a lot of reasons.

I tend to lose all sense of rationality on the subject of bullying.

I don't know how much my mom knows about what junior high was like for me (to clarify: I wasn't bullied because I was a lesbian; I was bullied because I was the smart, opinionated fat girl, and all the bullying was verbal), and I don't really want to talk to her about it, which I know posting on Facebook would probably lead to. I'm also Facebook friends with a lot of people from junior high and high school, and I don't want to hurt them by talking about it and I don't want them to hurt me by looking back and saying, "that's not the way it was."

I'm not doing anything about it in the world, and I'm not sure just talking about it is going to help.

I also tend to lose all hope on the subject of bullying.

And so the only two somewhat rational things I have to say are also severely lacking in cheerfulness:

I can't join in with all the people who are grimly pleased about the media attention. This time it's bullying of lgbt teens, last time it was cyberbullying, before that was queen bees and wannabes, and before that it was Columbine. Has each iteration made things better for bullied kids, or is it just this month's sensational news story?

I find it almost unbearably sad that the best we can do for bullied kids is tell them, "It gets better," and hope they don't read the statistics on workplace bullying. I wish we lived in a world where we could tell them, "It's not okay. You don't have to live with it. Adults will help you," and mean it.
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I'd been reading Alternative Press at Barnes & Noble for a couple of months, so when I went to the local date of the spring AP Tour and they were offering free subscriptions, I wrote down my name and address on one of the cards. I've gotten two (maybe three) issues in the mail now, and I'm starting to regret it. Somehow the things I find offensive about it are much less offensive when I'm reading it in B&N than when I'm reading it in my own home - as if I can handle it in a public space, but not when I've invited it into my own personal space.

Top three things I find offensive about AP:
  • Sexism. The fact that this is such a male identified space grates on me. This month they additionally had a question they asked pros and fans about why there aren't more women in music, and the answers generally made me cringe in the way they relied on stereotypes about women and ignored the systemic nature of oppression.

  • Blatant consumerism. Okay, I get that the point of magazines is to sell advertising, but the only other magazines I read with any regularity are The New Yorker and The Yoga Journal, both of which have some high-minded ideas about their advertising; The New Yorker's ads tend to fit with the aesthetic of the magazine as a whole (and sometimes add extra entertainment to your reading, such as the issue that was entirely subsidized by Target, or the recent issue that was plastered with ads for how Canada was a great place to do business), and The Yoga Journal's ads are all yoga-related, which gives it a different vibe. This means that the ads in AP are really, really glaring to me - as are the "articles" that are really just selling you something. There are a surprisingly large number of these that are selling you something other than music.

  • Design aesthetic. This is where my inner cranky old lady really stands up and shakes her cane at the kids on her lawn: being "edgy" doesn't have to mean being hard to read. This is one of the main reasons I stopped reading Bitch even though the concept (feminist response to pop culture) is right up my alley. I find it even more annoying when I'm only half interested in the topic.
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I've stopped shaving. This wasn't something I really planned to do, but it is for political reasons.

Earlier this year, when we had our first burst of heat, I shaved my legs and my underarms. I did it because I was going to a party that day with people I didn't know in attendance and because I thought it was going to be skirt weather that week and my workplace is a little more socially conservative than anywhere I was the last couple of summers. Even though I'd planned to do it, it took a lot of mental effort to make myself pick up the razor and do it. I ended up updating my status on Facebook to: "Ruth Sadelle Alderson feels like a hypocrite for allowing patriarchal societal norms (one of which dictates that women's legs and underarms should be clean-shaven) to win out over her feminist principles (one of which is that every body is perfect just the way it is, no matter its shape, size, weight, or hairiness)."

What's fascinating to me is that I didn't see this coming. The last few summers I've shaved my legs a couple of times each summer. For about a year and a half I was in the habit of shaving my underarms every Saturday because I was taking ballet. My leotard is sleeveless and I was already so different from the rest of the class - I was over a decade older than everyone in it, my ballet skills were nowhere near any of theirs, and I both weigh more and am shaped differently than they are - that I wasn't willing to let that be another difference. (This is, perhaps, not a completely unproportional response; I have never felt so much like the looked down upon fat girl in high school as I did the day the teacher was gone and one of the students was leading the class - not even when I actually was the fat girl in high school.)

And yet, this summer, I've come up against a mental wall I didn't know I was building. Somewhere over the past year I've become both politically radical enough and comfortable enough with the imagined/potentially real scrutiny and disapproval from the outside world that I just can't bring myself to live this expression of "femininity." I'm not hiding it either. While I haven't (yet) worn my one sleeveless shirt, I have worn short sleeves short enough that you can see I haven't shaved, and I'm relatively evenly rotating through my two short and one long skirt.

This isn't to say I'll never shave again. I actually really like the way my legs feel to the touch just after I've shaved them (which is very much balanced out by the fact that I've cut myself pretty much every time I've shaved them). I've been thinking for the last week or two about shaving my underarms to see if it's cooler and will cut down on odor (I rotate between a crystal stick deodorant that doesn't seem to work very well during the summer and baking soda that chafes in a way that doesn't hurt but probably isn't good for my skin. And, yes, there is definitely a place here for discussion about our modern world's aversion to how our bodies actually smell. There is also my own aversion to any strong scent - I don't care so much about other people smelling me as I do about me smelling myself.), but then I read a reblogged from elsewhere article on Jezebel today that equated attractiveness with performance of femininity that's making me think I'll never shave again. I will definitely shave my underarms if/when I go back to ballet.

I keep remembering a women's studies teacher from college who, in a discussion about shaving, talked about how she stopped shaving and how it might be uncomfortable at first but "you just live with it." So far I haven't noticed anyone noticing that I'm not shaving, and I've had only fleeting moments where I catch sight of my underarms and think, "I should shave," but those have been easily dismissed, and when it comes time for a shower, I don't even think about picking up my razor.
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I have to admit that I haven't paid a lot of attention to varying fails and other large fannish discussions. I do hear about them sometimes, mostly from [livejournal.com profile] norwich36 and [livejournal.com profile] hederahelix. In some post or comment about one of the recent ones, someone (I know, I know; I should cite my sources, but it was not where I thought it was and now I can't remember where it really did come from) said something about how big bang really does seem to bring out the fail. I think there are a couple of things going on around that idea, but one of the biggest things is that fandom seems to have changed. If you'll allow me to put on my old fangirl hat, I remember the days when saying anything less than positive about a story was Not Done. And yet now we have very large conversations about things that are problematic in a specific story. (Granted, conversations range from there, but that's where they start.)

So, fandom, I have two questions for you:

Question 1: Am I right that fandom has changed and you are now allowed to talk about problematic things without being yelled at/shunned/called evil?

Question 1A: If so, can I just do it here in my own LJ as a thing I'm thinking about or do I have to post it as a comment to the author?

Question 2: Does this only apply to politically problematic things, or can I talk about writing using examples from other people's stories? (At the moment I am thinking particularly about how endings seem to be harder than I ever imagined, and I think it would be more interesting to make a post with specific examples than just reproduce the handout I created for my writing group on the topic.)

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Ruth Sadelle Alderson

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