Thursday, March 28, 2013

Three Interesting Things: The Gender Edition

1. People appeared quite shocked to discover a popular science blog was written by a girl!  Another science blogger shows why this confusion makes perfect sense to real scientists.
2. I found this article about women and pain interesting as it looks at both the issues with prescribing things that are tested on men and the perceptions held about female pain tolerance when doctors make medical decisions. (I shall not even speak of how long I've been reading about the gender disparity in medical testing.)
3. And in some intriguing synchronicity I ran across this article from a person transitioning from female to male and the changes in perception they found not too long after I was pointed to this post from a person who transitioned from male to female and also discovered some changes once perceived as female. 

Monday, March 25, 2013

On the Subject of Many Serious Things

I was pondering much of the recent news and had this thought - our approach to gun control is like our approach to rape. I have been following with sadness the story of the attack and gang rape in India, but certainly US news has been full of rape (and sexual and street harassment, which are certainly not the same, but I have to wonder if the same behaviors cause this assumption that some people are objects and not people).  And in the wake of a number of prominent shootings the discussion of gun control has come up. 
And in both cases there seem to be a group of people who's solution is to restrict potential victims. So, females (and yes, I know males can be raped, so far I have not seen similar suggestions for males, but I would love to be wrong about this) are supposed to travel in groups, remain alert, wear appropriate clothing, try not to be out too late, try not to be alone, or be secluded with strange men.  And some people have suggested that people misusing guns is a people problem, and the solution is to have more guns out there so that when people misusing guns show up, someone trustworthy with a gun will be there to stop them.
Now, obviously the analogy breaks down at some point.  Rapes that do not happen are pretty much impossible to prove or predict.  And there is fairly clear evidence that generally trustworthy people with guns, known as cops, often do end mass shootings. 
But as a country, and as a culture, I want to live in the world where I do not assume that everyone approaching me is a potential rapist I must guard myself against.  Sure, this does not mean I'm going to skip around, all alone, money hanging out of my pocket, nose in a book, and wait for the world to improve on my behalf.  But I also don't want to see every school armed to the teeth.  Nor do I wish it to become commonplace for people to experience airport level security everywhere they go.  I know that ship has sailed at some schools, even ones in DC, but I wish for that to become the norm. 
Sadly, I do not have the solution to either of these things.  Hopefully with more discussion we will come up with better approaches to both. 

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Three Interesting Things

1. A proposal to address sexual assault by using things like blindfolds.
2. While clearly targeting a British audience, the Guardian has this lovely list of why we are watching more TV
3. As this link states, technically nothing there is NSFW, however, the photos depicted are, well, seriously, they are of a new shape of bento box, that apparently they hope will catch on.  (Again, totally safe for work and other public places, but may cause snickering.)

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Layers of Skeeze Revisited: The Barney Edition

Over at Hitfix, Alan Sepinwall asked the question: "Was Barney always this disgusting, and we shrugged it off because the writing was better/fresher? Or has he gotten significantly worse over the years, in the way that so many sitcom characters become broader and more exaggerated to keep squeezing jokes out of them?"
And as someone who watches the earlier episodes that air on various other channels with some degree of regularity, my answer is both.  There were quite a few people early on who thought the rest of the show was interesting, but Barney was annoying and horrible.  But the difference is that early on, the show addressed that.  The other characters groaned when he told these stories.  They had episodes to discover which terrible grievance had been the one that caused one of Barney's conquests to try to sabotage all his current attempts or who made the website or any of these things.  In this season there are a couple of things that make Barney's behavior seem more egregious.  First, while there are occasional moments where other characters mention that Barney's behavior is terrible, they don't seem to mean it.  And I don't mean because no one stops him, because they never did. I mean because Barney used to get some sort of comeuppance and/or he used to lose sometimes.  When Marshal made all the charts, he charted Barney's success rate and Barney had a high rate of loss.  And when Barney hit his 'magic' number and went back to tell that kid from middle school, that guy told Barney he needed help.  And when Barney kept stealing all of of Marshal's women, even though it turned out he was doing it so Marshal and Lily could get back together, Lily still helped screw up Barney's attempt at twins. 
So, sure, Barney went through a crazy mixed up proposal of Quinn.  And then screwed it up with the insane pre-nup.  But there he lost Quinn.  Yes, it was a mutual decision, but it was also a very real realization that sometimes two people really aren't meant to be together.  And then there was the nutso proposal to Robin.  And that was different because, well, we've known Robin longer than Quinn and so I, at least, want a little better for her than a guy who manipulates her that much just to surprise her with a proposal.  And, sure, Robin halfheartedly mentioned that this was a terrible way to propose.  And yet, she still accepted. 
Barney then decided to pass off his girl-getting schemes to Ted.  And this is where it gets worse.  Because now, Ted is for some reason attempting to be Barney.  And so now, I, as a viewer am losing faith not only in the work they've done to mature Barney, but in Ted who now somehow agrees that these are acceptable maneuvers as does Robin. But this week's episode about all the extra things in Barney's apartment was really over the top.  It's one thing to know that Barney often lied to the women he slept with about his name, vocation, or even state of alive-ness.  But having things in his apartment that allow him to eject participants is an additional layer of skeeze.  And for Robin to end the episode saying these were the things she fell in love with and so doesn't wish to change about him, well, it makes me sad for both of them.  It's not crazy for her to want them to get an apartment together that is not the place where he used to pretend to take women to Paris with the help of a green screen. And while from a character arc level I get that they have been playing a long game with Barney, pointing out that he and Quinn wanted to change too much about each other and he and Robin love each other as they are, I still came away from the episode feeling terrible sorry for Robin that she has become a character who would put up with this. 

Monday, March 18, 2013

Book Rant: Not My Job

Those of you who had thought it had been a while since I'd gone off a book rant are in luck. So, a male and a female make plans to meet later for sex.  They each arrive at appointed time and place, clothes are removed, things are progressing and she turns to him and asks where the condoms are.  He says he assumed she had them, that in his country females take care of that stuff.  She says in her country, males take care of that stuff.  And then he turns out to be joking and he has them and I close the book (okay, turn off the ereader) in frustration. 
First, let me grab my sex educator hat here.  Okay, the job of birth control and or contraception is the job of anyone who wishes to participate in sex and does not wish to contract a sexually transmitted infection or end up with an unplanned pregnancy. Now sure, after discussions, some couples who either do not have pregnancy as a concern or have addressed the birth control aspect in other ways and are confident that there are no infections to be concerned with may forgo contraception as well.  But those things require trust, and ideally conversation. 
Not everyone remembers to have these conversations ahead of time, and, quite honestly, I suspect this author actually intended the exchange (of words, people, still talking about the words) to be humorous but, as you might suspect, it annoyed me and made me mad at both characters. Also, while I don't think it affects the exchange, the countries of origin in question here are the US and the UK.  It would have been equally as humorous and/or real for one character to think that after all that anticipation they had forgotten a crucial piece and to try to scramble to fix it only to have the other character reveal they had them all along. 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Three Interesting Things

1. In case this little viral hack didn't make it's way across your corner of the internet yet, a guy, erm, updated Donkey Kong so that you could play as the princess, after a request from his daughter.  As the man in question points out, he did this not as a grand feminist statement, but because, given his day job is as a game developer, this was a request from his kid that he could actually fulfill.  And, in my humble opinion, the message his daughter got was not so much play as the princess, but hey, there are things out there that are in your power to fix.  Who wouldn't want their kid getting that message?
2. Cassandra Clare wrote a very thoughtful response to a person who asked her how she reconciles her Christian faith with her writing of LGBTQ characters. 
3. And you know how I love a story about books helping people, so three boys - ages 11, 9, and 6 -  get stuck in the mudflats in Australia, and then get out because one of them read a book about that
4.  (Yes I know this is more than three.)  The Veronica Mars Movie Kickstarter has been funded!  You can still give money, should you be so inclined. I think this means interesting things for beloved shows.  But, I also think, as many have pointed out, this was a right show, right people, right time kind of deal.  As one person on Twitter posted, a girl who faced off against rape culture and those who thought excesses of money excused crime and who did this all without special powers, just her brain?  Yeah, I could watch that.  (And have.)

Monday, March 11, 2013

It Doesn't Mean What You Think

I was reading a post about feminism and how somehow a number of people seem to be under the impression that feminists think that females are better than males, or that females should have their shot at being the more dominant gender or some other thing other than people of all genders should be offered the same opportunities.  And I thought about the articles I've been reading about none's and unchurched people.  And started thinking of the number of people who say that they are spiritual but not religious.  And while I realize that these are entirely separate issues I think in both cases people are getting stopped up with the terminology. 
When little kids start trying to figure out how to describe less tangible things like pain, they will sometimes say things like I have a headache in my stomach. Because they've figured out when your head hurts you call it a headache, but they haven't figured out that the ache is the part that means pain. 
So, I think there's this sense that somewhere out there there are people trying to eliminate or subjugate males and that somehow these people are feminists (rather than chauvinists) and so instead if you just think that males and females each have things that they bring to the table, then you need some other descriptor for this.  I realize that some of these people might legitimately not be feminists, but right now I can't tell them apart from the people who are rejecting the word feminist while saying they want women to have equal opportunities.
And similarly I understand that when people say that they are spiritual but not religious they mean they spend time thinking about the kind of person they want to be, the universe they want to live in, possibly even ponder the afterlife, but don't do any of these things in a specific building on a regular basis.  But again, these two words mean basically the same thing.  But some of the folks who get a lot of attention for being religious lately are people with extreme views, and so people who don't want to seem like those people are searching for another word. 
And look if the word spiritual feels better to you, then, sure, go with it.  But, to get back to the issue of the feminist label, I worry that we're spending so much time backing away from the label instead of, well, reclaiming it. If people are confused about what a feminist looks like, to borrow from a campaign, then I would rather show them instead of spending time trying to come up with a different label. 

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Three Interesting Things

1. For those of you who heard the sad news of a man who's bedroom floor disappeared into a sinkhole, there is this explanation of how sinkholes happen and how, fortunately, they usually don't take the blissfully sleeping with them. 
2. This NPR piece rightly discusses that romantic comedies are not any more dead than they used to be, and as they used to be also just as silly.  This will be no surprise to fans of Popcorn Dialogues, which started off with a historical overview of romantic comedies, in fact this whole thing makes me want to go watch "10 Things I Hate About You" again. 
3. Two weeks and two adoption stories.  But I am a sucker for these.  I had a co-worker who ended up doubling her household when she discovered that one of her kid's friends had seen neither food nor parents for days.  Many people I tell that story too say, wow, isn't she amazing.  (She is.  Her whole family is.) One of my friends said, well, of course.  So, how this baby abandoned on a subway platform ended up with a family.

Monday, March 04, 2013

7 Things: Tips For TV Characters Who Are Being Secretive

I realize that some of these things are due to a combination of factors, like available sets, and concerns that the TV audience might not be able to figure out stuff, but inspired in part by folks on Twitter discussing the so-called secret meetings two characters on a show I have not yet watched, plus, my own extensive TV viewing, here we are. 
1. If people are not supposed to know you are meeting, do not meet out in public.  Sure a busy restaurant or a bridge (people on "Nashville" seem to meet on bridges or other places with railings a whole lot) is a great place if your goal is for people to not overhear.  But if your goal is to not be seen, you have failed. 
2.  If you are receiving secret phone calls, don't program the picture and name of the person who is not supposed to be calling you into your phone. 
3.  Corollary to the above, don't leave the phone on which you receive secret calls or texts lying around for people to look at. 
4.  People can hear you.  I realize this is partly because having two characters take time to walk somewhere they actually couldn't be heard and then walk back to where they were supposed to be takes away from the actual time spent on the plot, but as a viewer I often can't tell if I should assume the person right next to the other person actually couldn't hear, or if this was going to come back and bite them.  On "Leverage" people apparently could never hear them when they were talking into their earpieces, so eventually you accept that, but why not?  It's not like all the people around them knew they were talking to an earpiece. 
5.  People with real secret identities never tell anyone.  Seriously.  Because once you tell one person, it's, oh that's right, not secret anymore. 
6.  The following do not actually count as disguises:  Glasses.  Hoods or hoodies.  Hats.  Seriously, people, do not do a worse job than Jem.  (Who's boyfriend Rio, was admittedly an idiot, but not as much of an idiot as, oh, I dunno, folks who cannot recognize their children once they put on a hood.)
7.  This would probably be too easy, but if you are aware you are in a TV show, you might want to befriend the writers.  Because that seems to be the only reliable way to keep your secret.