Saturday, January 18, 2014

The strawman argument of Anti-Feminism

I recently came across this recently while surfing the web, and while I initially just rolled my eyes it's been eating away at me for a while now and I feel I need to respond to it in my own small way.

Feminism is all about choice!
  • Me
    I choose not to be a feminist.
  • Feminist
    Wrong choice.

    This is probably the least offensive of the lot, but it almost universally stems from a misconception of what feminism is. One of the greatest victories of systematic patriarchy is instilling in the societal zeitgeist that feminism entered stasis in a timey-wimey moment between granola Lilith Fair concerts and Andrea Dworkin. For many people, feminism is a strident mass of man-haters saying that "if you're not with us, you're the enemy" and dogpiling on anyone who expresses discomfort with an aspect of the movement. It's why we get the argument of "I'm not a feminist, I'm a humanist." It's well meaning and often well thought out, but it's a worldview strongly rooted in this idea of feminism as a neo-anarchistic, amazon movement more interested in shouting down anyone who disagrees with them than the reality of the modern movement that is built entirely on dissenting views and conversation.
    If anything this first argument reinforces why Second Wave Feminism had to go; the Third Wave makes this argument invalid.
    I choose to be Pro-Life
  • Feminist
    Wrong choice.

    This second argument immediately makes me see red, but let's take a moment and ask a much more important question:
    How do you define Pro-Life?
    Do you define it as, given the choice between going through with a pregnancy or terminating it you would choose the former? Because if that's how you define it, then yes, the Strawman Feminist is wrong here.
    However, the term Pro-Life has become synonymous with Anti-Abortion and the systematic removal of even having that choice. In general parlance, Pro-Life means "you slept around like a whore, now you have to deal with the consequences of a baby, and there's nothing you can do about it." If the author subscribes to this definition, then there is a massive amount of privilege and tone deafness occurring, because it is saying "I get to make the choice that you shouldn't have one", which goes against everything feminism in all of its forms stand for, and the Strawperson is correct to say that this is the wrong choice.
    I choose to be traditional.
  • Feminist
    Wrong choice.

    Again this is a product of misinterpretation, but it's an important one. Traditionalism of course is a reactionary response to the inevitable tide of change, a desire to revert back to a time when "things made sense". By its very nature it's a delusional concept, but let's step away from high-handed tautologies and listen to what's being said: "I choose to embrace a patriarchal worldview in regards to a woman's place in it."
    Now it's easy to dismiss this if the author is a man (Here it is: You are once again stating that you get the choice to deny others said choice and are therefore wrong) but let's actually have a conversation here and envision a woman saying this.
    Okay, fair enough. You embrace the idea of "traditional" roles for women both at home and in the workplace. Fair enough, it's your choice and I'm not going to dismiss you for feeling comfortable in that power structure. But what about those women who choose not to embrace this system? Are you going to dismiss them for not fitting into your worldview? By the very definition of traditionalism I hear that you will because someone arguing for better pay or equal control of the household chequebook is going to upset the apple cart and endanger your comfortable structure. Once again the concern boils down to you preventing others from having the choice you yourself had.


    Another thought that occurred to me is one of the male perspective on the other side of this debate; one of the joys of modern feminism, namely that of the rejection of traditional gender roles. From a male perspective, traditionalism prevents men from embracing "female" coding. Sometimes I personally want to be held and cared for, a "traditionally" feminine concept. By arguing that you wish to be in a traditional relationship you are stating that men must conform to a caregiver role. As noble as this may feel, it implies that men cannot be vulnerable or unsure of their position in a relationship, a demand that prevents personal growth and evolution. In itself it implies a "topping from the bottom" power dynamic that prevents an honest and human relationship between two people and promotes a static position that limits both from growing and becoming better human beings.
    I choose to lean conservative.
  • Feminist
    Wrong choice.

    Feminism is unquestionably a progressive movement, it has to be purely on the definition of the political spectrum, so yes, when you say you vote with a conservative bent a feminist is likely to argue with you. But if you say you lean left a conservative is going to argue with you, or a communist with argue with you if you're a capitalist, or a populist will argue if you're a monarchist. This isn't feminism, this is politics.
    I choose to be a stay at home mom.
  • Feminist
    Wrong choice.

    You're misconceiving again, and even then you're deluding yourself into ever thinking this was an argument. The issue was against women being told they HAD to be stay at home moms, that career was a dalliance before finding a man and becoming a baby machine. If anything this particular argument is a product of raging against this systemic worldview, not at you making the conscious choice to be a full-time mom.
    I choose to shave, wear makeup, high heels, and stuff.
  • Feminist
    Wrong choice.

    I really REALLY want to just write a bunch of profanity here, but I'll make an attempt at civil discourse.
    The whole "Don't shave your legs, wear makeup, high heels and stuff" is a product of rejecting patriarchal views on female attractiveness. It was about fighting against the sexual double standard of what men and women were expected to do to be socially acceptable. It was never about "If you shave, wear makeup etc. you are not a good feminist", it was about "Do what makes you feel comfortable and don't let a Madison Avenue ad firm tell you what you should do."
    This more than anything else is representative of that misconception of feminism; the idea that feminism is all about rejecting every aspect of the feminine and just trying to take all the coding of men for themselves.
    Is there a debate about the female beauty industry? Of course there is. Is it important to be aware of what's being said to women and trying to find a more healthy way of doing it? Absolutely. But is every feminist an unshaven makeupless amazon in combat boots? No.
    So basically my choices are restricted to what other feminists dictate?
  • Feminist
    Right choice.

    And this closes off our charming little strawman argument, making clear what this has really all been about: Because the author has no comprehension of modern feminism, only a caricature knowledge, the author thinks that feminism is simply trying to replace the patriarchy for the matriarchy, except that it isn't actually a matriarchy, it's just another patriarchy with women in charge.
    And that, sadly, is the most infuriating part of this whole piece, that the author honestly believes that women have to become men to obtain power, which is why we still need Feminism.

    Monday, December 23, 2013

    Why Peter Capaldi is a perfect choice for the Doctor, but not mine.

    As pretty much every Whovian knows, Peter Capaldi is the latest actor chosen to Doctor Who. Right off the get go, I want to make sure that everyone knows that I'm thrilled with this choice; Capaldi is an artist who has shown that he has not only the range to explore the character of the millenium-aged Time Lord, but also the professionalism and experience to make his role last. I love Capaldi, ever since I saw him play the Angel Islington in the BBC miniseries of Neverwhere. He can swing from innocent to monstrous in a moment, which is necessary in the current identity of the Doctor.

    Nevertheless, had the BBC called me, in some moment of madness, Capaldi wouldn't have been my initial choice.

    In fact, there's two actors I would have suggested long before the man who made foul language into an art form in The Thick of It.

    Firstly, there's this man:

    Paterson Joseph. Probably best known (at least by me) from his work with David Mitchell and Robert Webb in Peep Show and That Mitchell and Webb Look, I was introduced to this amazing man through, coincidentally, Neverwhere as the Marquis de Carabas. Switching from pragmatism to idealism, Joseph showcased a wonderful range that fit perfectly with a darker, edgier Doctor that embraced the cynicism of modern society but also showcased the ingenuity of a man who never needed to move beyond politics and intelligence to achieve his own ends and desires. Since the beginning, as Craig ferguson so eloquently put it, Doctor Who has always been about the triumph of intellect and romance over violence and cynicism. Paterson Joseph, in my opinion, could have brought that ideal to the forefront while also exploring the concepts of time travel with the impact of prejudice and racism within time travel. Yes, as a Canadian I can point at the American Civil War, the Underground Railroad and other aspects of the subjucation of those of African descent, but there's also Britain's less than stellar record of colonialism and prejudice. I firmly believe that Joseph as The Doctor could have opened these lines of dialogue and reaffirmed that while we've made amazing strides as a species to remedy these problems, we're far from solving them.

    Second on my list of actors, is this woman:

    Olivia Coleman. Incorporation all the arguments of a female Doctor, let's look at Coleman specifically.

    Again known to me for her work with Mitchell and Webb, Coleman is probably best known to Whovians for her performance as Prisoner Zero in The Eleventh Hour. A unbiquitous character actress, Coleman has done both comedic and dramatic roles and would be a wonderful choice to offset the "traditional" qualities of actors in lead roles. Imagine for a moment a Headmistress Doctor. Patient, loving and understanding, but equallly unwilling to tolerate any breach of her interal code of conduct. To see The Doctor giving a good scolding to some aggressive alien race who got a bit too full of themselves would be a wonderful experience that, while similar to Matt Smith's performance, would provide a wonderful new edge to the character that we've yet to see. Couple that with the opportunities to see a woman's perspective on time and space beyond that of a simpering Companion,
    I would gladly wait every week to see what Coleman as the Doctor would do.

    Now all this being said, I'm happy for the choice of Capaldi. If there's one thing I know he can do (and he can do a hell of a lot, believe me) it's being monstrous. At the point we've reached with New Who, we need a monster, much like Colin Baker, albeit better written. I have no dount that wkth Capaldi's talent and Steven Moffat's writing we're in for an amazing series.

    It's just not the series I would have wanted to see.

    Friday, December 18, 2009

    The DC Lesbian

    The comics code was something that in many peoples minds stifled the comic book industry for decades; moral ambiguity was impossible, mature subject matter was strictly taboo and sexuality was banned outright. Of all these things I personally found the third the most frustrating, as the human condition is pretty much defined by sex and sexuality. You don't need moral ambiguity to tell good stories, and mature subject matter is usually mature in name only. Sex on the other hand, well, one of the major (and pretty much only) story arcs in Superman was his relationship with Lois Lane. When nothing else is possible, nookie provides characterization.

    When the comics code finally went to the wayside, an interesting phenomenon happened; sex suddenly appeared everywhere. Everybody was banging everybody else, and all that repressed sexuality that mainstream comics had pent up suddenly exploded in a giant orgy. Only problem was, it was generally weak as hell and existed for sales and titilation over characterization. Probobaly the only positive thing to come out of this sexual revolution was that homosexuality suddenly became a relatively common occurance. Northstar, from Marvel's Alpha Flight was the first openly gay superhero and many others followed suit, although pretty much every single one was a secondary character or alternate universe version, watering down their impact.

    DC on the other hand did something very different; namely LESBIANS! LOTS AND LOTS OF LESBIANS! Oh, there are a couple gay men, but the disparity between the two groups is astronimical. For instance, when a female character in the DC universe comes out, it's almost as if there's a rainbow coloured power ring that flies up to them and says "Amazing Chick, you have shown great ability in eating pussy. Will you join the lesbian league?" Then teleports her off to another lesbian so they can have a relationship. Meanwhile, a gay man is more than likely going to be a bachelor his whole life, as the odds of him even getting a KISS is slim to none. In fact, that's the last I'm going to talk about gay men in DC, because that's about as much effort as DC has put into it.

    The lesbians however, oh boy. Truth be told there hasn't been that much more effort, there's a nice shiny formula for lesbians in the DC universe: Character A comes out. Character A begins relationship with Character B. Character X (X being the more high strung character) becomes insanely co-dependent and must be by character Y (The other one) at ALL times, usually in cheesecake poses as they reunite again. And again. And again. Finally something happens that ends the relationship, either Character Y's death or sudden realization about how insane this relationship is, thus leaving Character X. Character X goes into a spiral of self-pity and destruction which we have to hear about CONSTANTLY. If Character X is still selling comics after this complete, begin process again with character C. If the character is not selling books, shove them into the background only to pop up now again to mope some more about how Character Y is gone.

    Honestly I haven't seen this formula strayed from at ALL. It is frustrating, insulting and has not worked once. Probably the biggest tragedy of this formula was Reneee Montoya, who was considered one of the best non-meta characters in the Batman mythos. She was tough, capable, honest and responsible and brought a new energy to the Gotham Police that had for the longest time been focussed entirely on Jim Gordon and Harvey Bullock. When she came out as a lesbian, I was stoked. Finally there would be a character whose sexuality added to the rich tapestry of a character instead of defining them. Ah the foolishness of youth. Almost immediately the reliable Renee Montoya became another victim of the DC Lesbian formula and after her run in 52 (which to be fair was very good and ALMOST redeemed her, especially making her the new Question) was very quickly pushed back into the background. The last attempt to make some money off of her was the awful Books of Blood miniseries which proceeded to destroy the last vestiges of Renee Montoya and created yet another generic DC Lesbian.

    I think in the grand scheme of things this frustration comes not just from the poor handling of homosexuality in general but sexuality as a whole. I don't care if a character is gay, straight, bi, trans, whatever, what I want is honest treatment of that character. Let things happen naturally, and let the characters define their actions, not editorial mandates. Peter Parker going off to a nightclub and tongue-fencing a bimbo on the dance floor right after One Day More is not honest characterization. Obviously you have to be prepared for some high-emotion drama, this is entertainment after all, but there has to be more than lip service played to emotions and feelings; they're what make characters come alive.

    Thursday, December 17, 2009

    Green Lantern: From Rebirth to Blackest Night (Prologue)

    In 1994 in an attempt to recover their failing sales and stagnant image, DC Comics decided to do a grand experiment. Namely, they were going to get rid of almost every major character they had and replace them with newer, hipper characters bearing the same name. In some cases this was a huge success (Death of Superman) others it fell flat before it even got started (Wonder Woman in a coma). The one that probably caused the most outrage however was the fate of Hal Jordan, the Green Lantern. Instead of having him fall heroically to a new and fearsome villain like the other titles, Hal simply went batshit insane after his home city was turned into a smoking crater and proceeded to destroy the Green Lantern Corps and and his overseers the Guardians of the Universe in a misguided attempt to make things right. In doing so he became the villain Parallax and became a major villain in the DC Universe for a while until his somewhat redeeming death.

    Fans were outraged at this, feeling that a man as staunchly moral as Hal Jordan would NEVER let himself fall so quickly into a homicidal rage, and to a certain extent I agree with this. That being said I agree with it because I don't think the build was good enough. Quite literally between two comic panels do we see Hal snap. No deep quandary, or exploration of his helplessness and own mortality. Nope. One second he's kinda mopey and the next he's off to kill him some blueskins!

    And in the grand scheme of things, that was the problem with Emerald Twilight; it was way too short. Whereas Death of Superman and Knightfall took months and months and months to tell and explore the whole story, Emerald Twilight lasted 4 months. And whereas the aforementioned titles took a great deal of time showing the sudden mortality of two of the greatest heroes in the DC universe, ET was, like I said, 2 panels long in terms of character arc.

    The one positive thing that came out of Emerald Twilight was Kyle Rayner, the new Green Lantern who became a huge success, effectively saving the franchise. He was idealistic, far more playful than the stern Hal, and younger so he could appeal to a younger audience. He also had a horrible introduction and had almost no characterization for waaay too long. In fact, in many ways Kyles development is based entirely on the fact that every girlfriend of his dies horribly. Nevertheless, I personally prefer Kyle to Hal.

    Writing aside, I do want to say that I was happy with the decision to replace Hal Jordan. He was becoming stale as a character and the steady stream of weak writers had been unable to expand upon him pretty much at all. He'd basically become Superman-lite, with the same infallibility and moral certainty that leads to stagnation and loss of quality.

    To be honest, I actually even liked the Parallax concept. Taking one of the moral compasses of the DC Universe and turning him into a twisted version of his former self is a great idea and can open up all kinds of interesting stories. On top of that, bringing in someone who is clearly not as powerful or skilled as said villain and making him the last line of defense against horrible catastrophe is the epitome of reluctant hero/underdog epics, which almost always draw in the readers.

    Despite the fact that /I/ like the concept many people weren't so stoked and fanboy rage echoed across the internet and comic forums quaked at the thought of angry Hal fans charging through in their neverending quest to redeem Hal Jordan. DC stuck to their guns however, and wouldn't budge.

    Until 2004 when they called Geoff Johns to shut up the fanboys once and for all.

    Friday, December 11, 2009

    Yes, that's right, I'm a wrestling fan.

    It's true, I'm a sucker for that great con job known as professional wrestling, and I take very little shame in that. Yes, it's become watered down and stupid in the last decade, but the physical art form is still present and if the mainstream companies (I.E. WWE and TNA) would actually let the matches have some TIME people would see that.

    As Jim Cornette likes to point out, MMA and Professional Wrestling are the exact same thing; book a fight between two people the fans would like to see and are willing to pay for. The fights occasionally end with controversy and there are a variety of finishes. The only difference is that MMA is real (although I would beg to differ based on a single word: Bisping). That said, Pro Wrestling provides (When done right) the same visceral and emotional stimulus that MMA does, except you have more consistently enjoyable matches as the thing is planned out and the workers should know how to work the crowd. A big note; this is when a match is done RIGHT. When it's done wrong, well, it's not so satisfying.

    Now that I've got that out of the way, I want to get to my main subject, namely what I hope will become a regular bit on this blog (even though this is only my 2nd post) namely, wrestling show reviews, specifically Ring of Honor.

    Why Ring of Honor, do you ask? Because nobody seems to be doing it! websites like and The Wrestling Fan love to tear down the WWE and TNA, but never give much time to Ring of Honor except to take shots at them for being the one show smart marks seem to watch and 'enjoy'. I think they deserve some focus, so I'll start with this week's episode, the December 7th edition of Ring of Honor on HDNet!


    Welcome to the very first post in what could very well be a short-lived blog, but hopefully not as I need an outlet of some kind to wax pretentious over the many things I observe and make judgements on daily, and this seems like a convenient (and free!) way of doing just that. So off we go!