I am working on putting my very many feelings and thoughts about Chicago into readable tumblr form, but for now I’d like to share this AMAZING project that you should all donate to/spread the word about/support in some other way.
Violence against women is awful and common, we all know (hopefully), but some people don’t know that violence and sexual abuse against indigenous women is even more common. We’re talking 1 in 3 rape statistics, and a whole grisly series of other abuse statistics that I don’t have at hand right now.
Arming Sisters is about bringing self-defense classes (which I am all for) to indigenous women in reservations across the United States and Canada (I am all for mobile learning, also). They have an extremely modest fundraising goal of $25,000… If we live in a world where Kickstarters for iPhone cases can get upwards of six digits, this should be easily accomplished. Because we also live in a world where people are racist assholes, we should make sure it is accomplished.
So! Donate! Reblog! Tell your friends! Shove this information down the throats of your enemies!
(Note: That quote isn’t from the Arming Sisters website, for anyone who might take exception to it… It’s from Malcolm X. So take exception to it all you want, just don’t bother them about it. Don’t bother me either, because you can go screw yourself.)
So I know this is way, way past the acceptable time to be talking about it, but I just watched Snow White and the Huntsman and I have SO MANY FEELINGS about Queen Ravenna.
I will straight-up admit that my love of Ravenna is at least 40% due to her having the greatest villain wardrobe in a long time. The raven motif? Amazing. Even when she’s an oil-covered mess, she is a hot mess.
Which leads me to the other 60% of why I love her, that I’m sure has been made much of on the internet already - she is the biggest, best fuck-you to the hypocrisy and harm of patriarchal beauty standards. Women are repeatedly told their value lies in their beauty, victimized if they have exceptional beauty (though not only then), and maligned if they leverage their beauty to their own advantage.
Repeatedly in the film I found myself wanting Ravenna to win, which I’m sure was the film’s intention - she totally is the queen the world deserves, and I don’t fault her one bit. OK, maybe I fault her for all the wanton murder and general corruption of life, but I don’t fault her reasons.
I wish that there was an indication at the end that Snow White learns something from Ravenna, especially because much is made of her seeing through Ravenna’s eyes and understanding her motivations. Snow White is initially valued only for her appearance (Snow White!) and superficially reliant on the men in her life - her father, William, the Huntsman, the Dwarves, even that big white stag - and a bit more time could have been spent on her realizing that she has agency and inherent value. I would have liked to see less of a ‘slaying of the evil witch’ and more of a ‘thank you for showing me this is a man’s world, even as i kill you’ scene.
Like I said, so many feelings! Feelings on top of feelings. I’m going to just leave them here and design Ravenna-esque coats for myself until I fall asleep.
For a few years now I’ve been a very poor participant in NaNoWriMo; I think my particular style of writing (obsessively thorough and overwhelmingly self-conscious) is not the best match for it, though the idea of forcing out at least some of the words in my brain is an appealing one.
My attempt this year is a little different - it’s not a story I’ve had percolating for years, but one that literally came to me in a dream. It’s not a cast of characters I’ve perfectly designed or based on historical eccentricities, but one that’s coming together organically from the lives and stories of my family and friends. It’s about being a feminist, and being Jewish, and being an idealist, and it comes on the heels of my marrying a fellow idealistic Jewish feminist.
Suffice to say, it’s giving me a lot of feelings.
At the moment, I think I’ve burnt myself out on researching the brilliant, unappreciated women who pioneered physics research in the 19th and 20th century, as well as researching the horrors of medieval pogroms against the Jews. The above picture is from a manuscript that describes a community of Jews that were burned alive because, well, they were Jewish.
Things like this are complicated because while I have no particularly deep connection to European history, this is still my familial background and more importantly the community to which I’ve committed myself and feel the greatest connection. When I read about pogroms it is not just a horror at inhumanity, but also a visceral reaction on the level of reading about the treatment of slaves in the Caribbean. It is an unthinkable thing that I wish were impossible.
In many ways, that is what this story is about. I dreamt, unprovoked and apropos of nothing, of a group of people struggling to build a community without racism, or sexism, or oppression, on the banks of a river in Europe. I dreamt of arguing with a young man who criticized the strict rules we’d established, who accused us of refusing to save people because we were too obsessed with saving ourselves. And I dreamt of saying to him, just before I woke up, a line that has haunted every sentence I’ve written since:
“One day, I hope, you’ll see that I’m trying to save us all.”
Today is the first official day of Script Frenzy, and although I haven’t written anything yet I’ve got the first scene (the cold open… that’s what those kids are calling it these days, right?) more or less mapped out in my head visually.
In addition, and this is an extremely vital part of my creative process and probably the same for many others, I’ve figured out what song should cue up after the action starts, to give just the right feel of “whoa shit things just got real son”. Spoiler alert: it’s the song I just uploaded here.
The combination of meandering banjo, sexy electric guitar, and just-a-titch creepy piano encapsulates everything I want the show to be. And the lyrics! The lyrics, in my understanding, seem to hint at a badass babe who won’t take shit from anyone, even if the overall intimation is also a bit of a “crazy eye” stereotype. I hope you can listen to this and envision the blasted, chaotic landscape of Hero City being traversed by some ladies with dirt on their faces and blood on their boots.
Today I did some brainstorming on general story elements, like what cities the main characters are from and what they did versus what they do. Since subverting stereotypes is my main goal, I opened the question of occupations (at least for one character) to facebook discussion: in what profession are women -least- represented? Lawyers, doctors, and security officers used to be three major segments that were male dominated, but the last two decades or so has shown vigorous changes. I’m sure you can name a couple female characters for each of those categories without trying too hard. So, what’s the patriarchal position de jour?
The general agreement was on sciences, especially sciences with a mechanical or mathematical bent. Engineers are almost always male, as are architects. A surprising (but accurate!) suggestion was blue collar workers - cab drivers, construction workers, that sort of thing. Mostly the conversation orbited around traits that women are almost always shown to have - the desire for babies (or resistance to the idea that crumbles at the first sight of baby), lack of self-confidence, expertise that’s unacknowledged except as secondary to a male of the profession, and so on. While there’s obviously way more that’s wrong with the gender dynamic of media depictions than any one person can tackle, I feel good that I’m trying to knock down even a few stereotypes while putting down a story.
Today’s picture is brought to you by hours of (painful) Googling and searching of Deviant Art and Flickr. Enid is my maternal grandmother’s name, and she is the queen of all badass, no-nonsense ladies in my opinion. Sykes I chose as a placeholder name for reasons I can’t recall, though I’ll probably change it since C. hates it with a fiery passion.
Once more I plan to mend my broken promises of updating regularly, but this time with a bit of practical record-keeping to back it up - I will be participating (and hopefully completing) Script Frenzy this year. I will be working on a story world I created a few years back, Hero City, a southwestern US mutant wasteland adventure with a heart of gold. My main goals in completing this script, beside the obvious one of completing a script, are:
2) To showcase some of the left-out details of (Southwestern) US culture as portrayed on television - among other things, I’d like to highlight the contributions of minorities to the shaping of the US ‘frontier’, and address issues of race and identity within the microcosm of the Hero City world. An example of this would be DeFord Bailey, a damned talented man who was all-too-predictably left poor and forgotten.
3) To raise money for the charity behind Script Frenzy, the Office of Letters and Light, who do a lot of amazing work and have been a driving force for so many aspiring writers of all ages. I have a personal fundraising page, that I will be decking out with all kinds of goodies as the month wears on.
4) To gear myself up for more serious pursuit of writing projects and blogging, among others! I have no link for that, since you are already at my blog.
I will be uploading snippets of my script and script-related activities over the course of April, so stay tuned or stay some other thing!
For a word that simply describes a farm animal (a common and, given the bacon fetishists, particularly beloved one), ‘pig’ and variants thereof are peculiarly value-laden. Take a minute and think of how many different uses of it you know, and then of how many of those are negative or offensive. Pigs themselves are perceived as obese, lazy, and dirty - characteristics that are patently untrue of any natural pig. Yes, some farmed pigs grow excessively fat and have proportionately abnormal behaviour, but that would be like classifying all human men as dickless by way of the existence of eunuchs. It’s inaccurate, and it’s ignorant, and it’s a little bit ridiculous.
As for the metaphorical value of the word, I’m not sure how it became such a popular byword for fatness and filth, but I imagine it’s the most universally accessible animal insult people could come up with. However it happened, telling anyone they look like a pig is one of the most grievous sins of our fat-phobic world, and heaven help you if they’re even remotely chubby. Example, for the visual thinkers and pop culture nerds: in a Halloween episode of Community, Shirley (who’s fat) is wearing a costume that includes a bright pink ballgown and the other characters are desperately trying to perceive/describe her as anything other than Ms. Piggy. It’s a good gag, everyone gets it, but what is it really saying? In conjunction with Señor Chang (an Asian male… obviously) who is dressed as Dorothy Hamill (decidedly not an Asian male… obviously) but is repeatedly assumed to be an Asian figure skater, the writers are making a clever point about physical features serving as the lens through which we identify people.
This Halloween issue is especially poignant to any kid of non-white heritage or a non-ideal shape - there’s a lot of pressure to dress as what you look like, and your options become extremely limited. Often, you’re reduced to a stereotype, a caricature of your actual appearance as interpreted by the heteronormative white Hollywood costume cartels. Does anyone believe that a little black kid with a lightsaber will be perceived as anything (or at least any Jedi) other than Mace Windu? I didn’t think so. But why does this pressure exist? Is it better to avoid the problematic possibility of ‘Blackface Jr.’ and keep kids in whatever box they were born to, or does this just reinforce the idea of appearance as the ultimate descriptor?
Personally, I think it’s a parental cop-out, and one that leads to serious problems further down the line. Costumes shouldn’t be race- or build-specific, though obviously that freedom comes with the freedom to look incredibly awkward. Parents should be distinguishing the choice to idolize a hero/villain of different appearance the choice to trivialize or exoticize basic feature sets - my child can go as Malcolm X or as
Obi-Wan Kenobi Starbuck (and I hope they do both!), but they definitely cannot go as ‘Fat Ballerina’ or ‘Indian Princess’ ’Indian Brave’. Subsequently, they should be taught the difference between dressing as a person and dressing as a people (i.e., a stereotype). In addition to the million ways that the latter is offensive, it also makes for a pretty shitty and lackluster costume. Don’t do it. Don’t let your friends do it.
I’m going to stop here to reap the outrage/kudos/cold indifference generated by this post, but I’ll be continuing on this theme in my next post, returning to the specific injustice of ‘pig’.
(Also, as some of you may notice, I’m tagging this with the ‘thinspo’ hashtag. The whole thinspo movement is, in my opinion, incredibly unhealthy and dangerous, and I think the best way of
fucking with it combating its influence is to throw the occasional “I LOVE FATTIES” post onto people’s dashboards. So, take that.)
EDIT: I fell into a variant of the same trap I described, and used only hypothetical male costumes as good and hypothetical female costumes as bad, a terrible oversight, which has now been remedied.