Leftists Gone Bad

I am a subscriber of a number of leftist YouTube channels, but over time I have also unsubscribed from one rather quickly. Because I have realized that the author very carefully curates an untrue vision of history, and his audience is all for it.

I am not going to link to the channel in question because I do not wish to direct any traffic to it. They might have changed their tune and the way they run their channel and its comment sections since. I do not know. I do not care. I am not one of those who hold a grudge and hate-watch/hate-read (more on that later too). So I am only going to give you the gist of the situation. You are free to not believe any of it if you are inclined to distrust my word.

The channel got my attention with a video about scientific racism, which was rather good. I have watched several other videos of theirs that were recommended via the algorithm, and those were about world hunger and poverty and they were good too. So I subscribed and next time when I got a video recommended, I watched it. And I was rather taken aback. It was an entirely uncritical piece about pre-WW2 USSR, singing the praises of the regime, how it gave people education and lifted people from poverty, etc. I have briefly pointed in the comment section that whilst the regime did have positive sides for some people, it also had a rather ugly underbelly. And as examples, I have pointed out the Holodomor and the Genocide of Crimean Tatars since these two examples spring most readily to my mind.

Shortly after that comment, I have unsubscribed from the YouTuber and I have disabled any notification regarding that comment section. Because I have been immediately dogpiled by people who either outright denied that the two above-mentioned atrocities happened at all, or they were blaming them on the people who were their targets. They did not even bother with whataboutism and went straight to denial and victim-blaming! This was my first experience with “Tankies“. I had several more encounters since then, and I sometimes get these vibes even in comments here on FtB, although thankfully not as explicit and overt (and maybe I am being too sensitive about this issue, having lived behind the Iron Curtain?).

That is one example of lefties gone bad – people who refuse to learn from history and are willing, nay, eager, to repeat its mistakes. They are no better than the Holocaust deniers and neo-nazis on the right. We must not forget that many of the things that today are leftist issues – like LGBTQ rights and environmentalism – were most emphatically NOT seen as leftist in that regime. And sure, USSR was not racist towards black people the way the USA was at the time, but it is easy to proclaim you are not a racist towards a minority that is all but non-existent in your country. There were more than a few cases of systemic racism within the former Eastern bloc too.

These and many others are the main reasons why many people here in CZ are reluctant to actually call themselves leftists, or vote openly leftist parties, even though when asked about specific policies they most definitively are leftist. The existence of leftist extremism is real and it serves no useful purpose to deny it and the harm it has done and keeps doing to progress.

The second example about which I wish to say just a little bit is the case of Lindsay Ellis. I have not watched her videos regularly and I was not a subscriber. But I did watch her videos about transphobia last year and they were good. So I was surprised to learn that in December last year she has given up on YouTube – which was her job – and has claimed to be canceled by the left. I have looked into it as much as my time has allowed  – which included watching her video Mask Off in several sessions (it is very long) – and I have concluded that she was indeed canceled, and unlike J. K. Rowling, it was over a triviality that was misinterpreted and totally blown out of proportions.

There seems to be a non-trivial amount of people on the internet who obsessively hate-watch and hate-read people they dislike and hoard anything that might be interpreted unfavorably by the purist left to have ready-prepared lists of transgressions to dump on the internet in case their favorite hate target gets in the spotlight by putting a foot wrong. I know for a fact that there were such people reading Affinity for example, and Slymyepiters are a rather famous example of these people with regard to Pharyngula. I must say that I find it rather creepy when someone has a ready-to-go list of someone’s years-long deleted tweets/video clips etc. I also find it disconcerting that there seems to be a non-trivial amount of people on the left who immediately jump to the least-favorable interpretation of something taken out of context and gleefully join a dogpile with the intent to hound someone off the internet without bothering to first get the facts right and/or consider that people might 1) just make mistakes and/or 2) change over time so a “transgression” from a decade ago might not be indicative or relevant to who they are today, even if not stripped of proper context and interpretation.

I really do not know what to make of it all, but today I was re-reading Terry Pratchetts’ Discworld novel Carpe Jugulum and the following quote seemed really appropriate:

The smug mask of virtue triumphant could be almost as horrible as the face of wickedness revealed.

Women Educators on YouTube – Classicist – Lady of the Library

I haven’t watched more of her videos than this one, they do not seem to be exactly what would interest me. But this one did interest me and it was informative. Until recently, I did not know there are conspiracists who deny the existence of well-documented and researched history (apart from Nazi Holocaust deniers that is, I knew about those). Apparently historians – just like climate scientists, physicians, physicists and biologists – are engaging in yuuge conspiracies all the time.

It makes me despair, really. The world seems to have no shortage of proud, loud, outspoken, and self-confident ignoramuses.

No, Heather, hating your spouse is not normal

I’ve noticed this phenomenon before: women, often self declared feminists, write about their fundamental unhappiness in their heterosexual marriages. They then often try to reason that this is normal and inevitable. It’s no wonder these women are also often deeply transphobic, as they need to pin the source of their suffering down to some weird “biology” instead of either discussing social issues or, heavens forbid, personal issues, especially of themselves.

Heather starts by making a trivial observation that most people in any long term relationship, whether romantic or not, will agree with:

After 15 years of marriage, you start to see your mate clearly, free of your own projections and misperceptions. This is not necessarily a good thing.

The Austrian author Robert Musil once remarked that a good friend is somebody you actually can’t stand. Because in any deep relationship, you are allowed to show the signs that are not pretty. You’re allowed to have bad days, be a flawed human being, and leave the toothpaste unscrewed. I think we can all agree that the better you know somebody, the more intimate your relationship becomes, the better you get to know all their character flaws. But they also get to know yours, so that’s ok. Had Heather written an open ed about all those little quirks and compromises that make up a relationship, her article would have been equally unoriginal as uncontroversial. But Heather didn’t stop there, Heather decided to air all the dirty laundry on a husband she seems to be still married to. Did I say “dirty laundry”? Because this is how she describes her husband the first time that we meet him in the text:

When encountering my husband, Bill, in our shared habitat, I sometimes experience him as a tangled hill of dirty laundry. “Who left this here?” I ask myself, and then the laundry gets up to fetch itself a cup of coffee.

This is not an illusion; it’s clarity. Until Bill has enough coffee, he lies in a jumble on the couch, listening to the coffee maker, waiting for it to usher him from the land of the undead. He is exactly the same as a heap of laundry: smelly, inert, almost sentient but not quite.

If I ever write about somebody I claim to love like this, please whack me over the head and take away my internet because holy shit. Throughout the whole article I’m wondering if Bill knew about this before it was published and how he’s feeling, because this is simply cruel. Oh sure, she then writes a full three lines about his positive aspects before descending again into a diatribe about how aweful living with him is. She comes to this, in her view universal conclusion: Because her husband makes sounds like a normal human being (can you imagine, the guy sneezes!):

This is why surviving a marriage requires turning down the volume on your spouse so you can barely hear what they’re saying.

First note the phrasing. It’s not “for a marriage to survive”, it’s “surviving a marriage” as if that relationship was a life threatening ordeal. But maybe, just maybe, no longer speaking and listening to your partner is what makes your marriage such a miserable place to be in. I’m not going to give marriage counselling here, but I actually do enjoy talking to my husband and listening to him. We’re each others emotional support system. we chat and we vent, we give advice and support. It wasn’t something that can naturally to either of us. Or maybe it did and my parents beat it out of me, I don’t know, but to us, this is what sharing our lives means, and when we’re done with the talking, we can take comfort in each others presence. Any partner would be justifiably upset if their love declared them only barely bearable. Yet the author doesn’t see anything troublesome about her paragraphs over paragraphs on how horrible her spouse is (mind you, I haven’t read anything that would make me think that Bill is actually a bad guy. His major crime seems to be existing in proximity to his wife):

Do I hate my husband? Oh for sure, yes, definitely. I don’t know anyone who’s been married more than seven years who flinches at this concept. A spouse is a blessing and a curse wrapped into one. How could it be otherwise? How is hatred not the natural outcome of sleeping so close to another human for years?

See, it’s that overgeneralising I talked about at the very start of this post. Whoever objects to this is quickly dismissed:

“Well, speak for yourself. I don’t hate my husband,” one of you holier-than-thou marrieds might announce, folding your hands primly in your lap. Do you think I can’t see your left eye twitching ever so slightly, as you resolve to never let each little irritation add up and move into your conscious mind like a plastic bag floating out to sea and then joining the Great Pacific Garbage Patch?

You. Cannot. Not. Hate. Your. Spouse.

Because if you could, then the problem would be Heather and Bill and their marriage. If you could, then maybe this wasn’t some fate you cannot escape, some martyrdom you are destined to experience, but some very mundane issues that arise in most relationships that you can work on. Bill leaves his dirty socks around? Do talk to each other. Bill keeps forgetting to pay the bills? Find a solution that works and hopefully doesn’t risk your mortgage. Or if you find out that you cannot resolve the issues, do get a divorce. But Heather isn’t interested in solutions, she’s interested in telling us how bad she has it, taking us on a family trip to Australia, where her husband comes from.

She tells us about all the things she did on the journey and how travelling around the globe with kids isn’t exactly fun. And yes, I’m wondering: Where’s Bill? It sounds like a typical situation of how women are often burdened with organising trips, doing emotional labour, caring for the children, putting up a brave face. And if that’s the issue, that again isn’t an intrinsic problem of being married to a guy. It’s a social problem and a relationship problem. And it’s not easy to navigate those issues in a relationship. But I’m 100% sure that venting in an international newspaper isn’t going to solve the problem. Though, I must admit that by now I’m already considering her such an unreliable narrator that I’m wondering how much of this is her own doing. Take this part, for example:

Who engages in the 105th hour of an ongoing discussion about Bill’s Bad Knee, which includes speculation, revised imaginary diagnoses, and in-depth analysis of a level of pain that she herself would file under Not Worth Mentioning at All, Ever, Not Even for a Second?

Whose fault is it exactly that she isn’t able to voice that she’s in pain? Whose fault is it that Bill is comfortable saying “I have a medical issue and I need some rest” while she’s soldiering on? Again we have gender stereotypes but also a blank refusal to acknowledge them as well as a blank refusal to take responsibility. I get the impression that she is one of those people who love to complain, but never change anything that would take away the basis of the complaint. Because she sure loves to complain a lot:

And when we arrive at that island in the Great Barrier Reef, the one populated at this time of year by thousands of birds, birds squawking and cawing and clucking and screeching, birds every two feet, bird droppings covering literally every inch of ground, who makes up a game where the first person to get hit by flying bird poop wins an ice cream cone?

Can you believe it? There are birds. In nature. Who allowed that?

Who says it’s OK for one kid not to snorkel? Who says it’s OK for both kids to snorkel without her, since she gets seasick? Who goes snorkeling anyway because both kids want Mommy there, since Daddy will ignore them because he’s super-jacked to snorkel the hell out of the Great Barrier Reef? Who asks the snorkeling guide if she’d be better off in the boat if she’s starting to feel queasy?

Again, this is not a sentence chiselled into stone. It’s a relationship dynamic. It’s one you easily fall into when you’re a woman married to a man. It’s something you can change. Unless your dude is actively endangering the children, in which case I want to know why you’re married to the guy and had not just one, but two children with him, he can take care of them. Don’t just let him, make him. FFS, talk to him! Does Bill actually know that you’re feeling terrible? Or is it another one of those “Not Worth Mentioning” things (except in a national newspaper)? Or do you expect him to read your mind, Heather? Yes, that’s exactly what Heather expects. After enlightening us that her issues with snorkelling aren’t actually her issues, but universally acknowledged truths, she tells us this gem:

And then who gets sick, as predicted, but doesn’t say a single word about it, even as a wave of colorful fish swarms the scene and everyone marvels and wonders why they suddenly appeared, like magic?

Let’s recap this: She went out for an activity the rest of the family enjoyed, but she found out made her sick. Instead of talking to her husband and telling him to please take care of the children, she plays the martyr and goes snorkelling with her children. This makes her sick and miserable. She still doesn’t tell anybody, but probably keeps on smiling. And then it’s obviously everybody else’s fault. Can’t they see what a great warrior she is?

I’ve been feeling ill since we arrived on the ferry. There is no air-conditioning and there are no screens on the windows because we are now honorable eco-warrior vacationers. I have a cut on my finger that I’m pretty sure is infected. I’ve been battling insomnia for over a year. But I don’t say a word about how bad I feel. You don’t believe me, but it’s true! Thanks to writing an advice column for years. I have evolved, unlike my spouse. I am so good, so thoughtful, so generous.

No, Heather, instead of talking to your family like normal people do, arranging time for you to wind down, probably going to a doctor to get something for the insomnia or that infected cut, you write about how you feel in the New York Times. How will your children feel about this? Do they know you basically described them as ungrateful brats instead of children who are basically behaving like children do? But that’s the thing, isn’t it? The victim thing. The thing where the family needs to feel bad about how you are unable to have some boundaries and voice your needs.

Finally, I break.

“You ALL need to make less noise!” I announce. “And you,” I say to the big one, “you’re the worst of all. You can’t hear a noise without making another noise!”

At first they all start making noises at once. So I raise my voice. “No,” I tell them. “I can’t fix this anymore! I am broken!”

“It’s true, but …”

“I’m sorry, Mommy.”

But I can’t stop. “Who could stand this? I need a break! Go have breakfast without me!”

My family exits guiltily.

I’m sure that at this point the family is equally confused as well as feeling guilty without even knowing why, and while I can sympathise with being burned out and overwhelmed and completely at the end of your tether, I cannot sympathise with what she’s doing here. She has repeatedly told us that she didn’t say anything before. She simply swallowed all the big and little things. She didn’t say “no”, she didn’t set a boundary. She gave everyone around her the idea that Mommy was fine and enjoying herself. But again, that’s a Heather problem, not a world problem. I can understand being stressed out. I can understand an overload. I can understand being frustrated when you just spent lots of time and money on something and now your kids aren’t ohhhhing and ahhhhing (usually because they’re suffering from overload as well), but bickering. But it’s not ok to guilt trip your family. Because all they’re learning now is that mommy can snap at any moment without any previous warning. And that’s abusive.

When that outburst is over, Heather muses again how hatred is intrinsic to marriage. And sure, change is needed in their relationship, she clearly sees that. Bill needs to change! Because, and now I suggest you sit down before you read on:

During these talks, I encourage Bill to be more like me: Give up control. Relax. Let these birds make their noises, and they’ll quiet down quickly. When you treat them like they’re doing it wrong, it only gets worse.

Is this satire? Because I remember reading whole paragraphs about how horrible the birds are and how she needs to organise and smooth out every single obstacle that appeared. How can you write that whole text and then think that this describes you? Apparently the author has written a whole book on marriage, to be released come February, and I suppose they gave her this open ed as a promo. I can also imagine this book becoming a bestseller among a certain demographic: White middle class women in the UK and the US, who find out that the dream they were promised hasn’t come true. The promise of equality often only worked to the extend that they have their careers, but once the children arrive, their liberal husbands unconsciously mutate into their own fathers. I always say that women have changed a lot in the last 50 years, men have not (yes, I know, not all women/men). This leads to clashes, tension, unhappiness. But the solution isn’t to claim some natural order in your dissatisfaction. The solution to your husband refusing to do care work isn’t to hire a nanny and a cleaner, so you can have your liberated dream of kids and career. The solution is especially not to abuse your family in the New York Times.

Reproductive Injustice: Adding insult to injury

CN: Descriptions of periods, medical procedures, etc. But hey, if half the world can deal with this, the other half should at least know about it.

I have heavy periods. And I really mean heavy. Like the bottom is falling out. An average period is 60 ml of liquid. My mens cup holds 48 ml and I can fill that three times in an hour when it’s a bad one. Add the cramps, the migraine and the iron deficiency that goes with it and I was fed up. This is clearly an issue that affects my life and my health, so I decided that something needs to be done and that the something is an IUD. IUDs have a great success rate at reducing periods, up to not having any at all (my ob gyn mentioned this as a side effect: “But then you may not hay any periods” as if I knew any cis woman who was happy having hers). Sounds like a medical solution to a medical problem, right?

Nope, nope, nope. As a side effect, the IUD also works as contraception and we can’t have the sluts having sex without at least paying heavy money for it. That would be absurd. Because people afab need to suffer for the very fact that they have a certain biology and they are not allowed to offset the suffering by having fun sexy times. As a society we’d rather have them suffer even without fun sexy times or when they’re using a different method of birth control before we help women and others with uteri to not suffer*.

So I had to pay private for my IUD. With insertion it was 350€ and from what I know this is even cheap compared to the USA. I’m not poor, I could pay, but a poor woman can’t. This would be 75% of what a person on welfare gets a month, and the fact that with any luck this will last me five years doesn’t change that. I’m still angry about it.

So to recap, I have a medical problem, there’s a highly effective therapy, but because I get birth control as a side effect, it’s not covered by health insurance. Fuck the patriarchy.

*And if you get m,ore offended by my wording than the fact that this is happening, kindly fuck off.

Women Educators on YouTube – Architect – Belinda Carr

This Hempwood product sounds interesting. I actually think that with a bit of tinkering and upscaling of the production, it could become cheap enough to be a viable material for large-scale construction. Definitely, it could replace for example wooden OSB plates for walling. And since the fibers run lengthwise, it could also definitively be used for making load-bearing beams.

Completely independently of this – this spring I was actually really thinking about growing Hemp in my garden for fuel, but although it is legal to grow technical hemp on a patch of land up to 100 sqm, the costs of seeds are prohibitive and there is a risk of cross-pollination with someone’s illegally grown weed so producing my own seeds for future poses risks of accidentally creating hybrids whose THC levels are above the legal limit. It is not worth the potential hassle of discussions with the police. My only hope there is that hemp gets finally legalized for personal use. Until then, I will try and grow hazels, poplars, and willows on my unused land to try and reduce my personal carbon footprint.

Edit: my PC glitched out and the article was initially published with nonsensical title.

Children, Accessibility, and being an entitled ass

This post was brought to you by my brother in law, so it might get ranty.

Let me preface this by saying that I absolutely support people being child free. Honestly, I don’t know anybody working in education and with families who isn’t a strong supporter of contraception, family planning and thinking long and hard about whether being a parent is something that you should do.

I’m also the first to admit that children are not smallish adults, but have certain characteristics beyond age and height that make them different from adults. It’s something that makes people who like working with children enjoy their company, it is something that makes parenting an amazing journey, and it’s something that makes others not enjoy either of these things.

Nevertheless, children are people, they are part of society, they should have their needs met and accommodated. There are very few spaces where children don’t belong, and those are for their own protection, say a Shisha bar. For the rest of spaces: think about how this space can be made child friendly. Many restaurants already do this: they have a children’s menu, they have play corners (one of our favourite Asian buffet places has a whole room), and if you think about it, it’s a smart move, because children will only grow up to value a sit down meal in a nice restaurant if they learn how to behave there while young.

But there’s another level of accessibility and that is for parents. We’ve talked about this before: If you organise something, say a sceptics’ conference or something like that, think about how you can provide childcare. Because if not, overwhelmingly women will be unable to attend your event. I mean, you can go full Sam Harris and blame your sciency manly vibes that scare off fragile little damsels, or you can ask yourselves: what can we do to make sure parents can attend?

Which gets me to a different level, which is private life. And of course you get to set all sorts of boundaries  here, but you also have to live with the consequences. There’s a plethora of “Am I The Asshole” posts on Reddit where somebody decides to have a child free wedding and is then super offended when the parents in their lives decline, especially when it’s their siblings. Sorry, but weddings are expensive, and getting childcare on top of it costs a lot of money, the people who are usually watching your children are probably at the wedding as well (Hey mum, could you watch our kids while we go to your daughter’s wedding?), not to mention trusting some babysitter enough to leave them for several days. And, yes, let’s face it, parents do take this shit personal. Their children are pretty important people in their lives and if you frame their existence as a complete nuisance and burden to everyone who is even just in the same room, they might decide that your friendship isn’t worth it.

Which gets me to my brother in law. He is and has always been super entitled. He’s 11 years younger than my husband and didn’t grow up so much with a sibling than with a third overindulgent parent and he’s used to the whole family catering to him. The last two times he moved, my husband of course helped him, which meant driving a few hundred kilometres each time. I can’t remember even being reimbursed for the fuel, and I especially can’t remember him lifting a single finger when we moved. Because those are services he thinks his family has to provide.

Now he has invited us to his birthday. Come on, Giliell, you say. You said he was super entitled, but now he’s inviting you, that’s nice! Only… Well, remember the couple of hundred kilometres? Going there means spending the night. Spending the night means getting hotel rooms. For the great honour of being invited to his birthday he already expects us to spend a few hundred €. He lives in the Black Forest. Hotels ain’t cheap there. And well, we would have coughed that up, if not for the original subject of this post. We’re still in a raging global pandemic, the little one isn’t vaccinated yet, and sleeping in a hotel with her is totally out of the question for us. So we asked him, could the children stay with him for the night? I mean, his flat is bigger than our house, he has a guest room where his parents are staying, and a living room, and a studio, and a fucking library, but he doesn’t have space for his nieces. He really doesn’t want them to be in his space, because you never know. It’s not like we asked them to watch two toddlers who would paint the walls with his acrylics, or tear the pages from his books. They’re two well behaved teens who basically just want the Wifi password and food. Also his parents, who are watching the kids regularly, are also there. But nooooo, he’s afraid for his precious belongings. Which is totally reasonable in his eyes. Yet our fear for our kid is totally irrational, you know? Guess who’s currently being made out to be unreasonable…

“The silent majority agrees with me”, gender critical edition

Open letters are a time honoured form of activism. They allow individuals to connect over a single and very specific issue and raise awareness for that cause. They are, of course, also problematic in a way, since they usually are initiated by people who already have some influence and publicity, because nobody publishes an open letter signed by 40 noobs with a blog and a 50 people Twitter account, so they’re usually a tool of academia, authors, or various kinds of celebrities. At least you need a couple of celebrities to boost your idea.

The latest round of “gender critical”, aka transphobic open letter seems to have suffered from a certain lack of celebrity endorsement, which is why they decided to simply sign the names of dead women to their cause. “Come on, Giliell”, I hear you say, “nobody would be that dishonest”. But go, look for yourselves: Here it is.

The letter itself is the usual transphobic whining about trans women taking things from cis women, like all those shiny Olympic medals trans women have so far failed to win. The novel “Detransition, Baby”, by Torres Peters, has been listed for the Women’s Prize for Fiction. The usual suspects are all up in arms because a literary prize that was founded to celebrate women’s often  undervalued contributions to fiction has dared to list a novel by a trans woman, and this is of course another instance of a “trans identified male” taking things from “biological women”, just like in sports. Only that of course they always try to base their bigotry on biology, claiming that anybody amab has intrinsic and immutable advantages over anybody afab. Does this mean they’re indirectly claiming that women cannot write and therefore need some protected prizes where they don’t have to compete with men?*

But let’s not get sidetracked from the incredible dishonesty of “the dead agree with me via ouija board”. Among the “supporters” of the letter you’ll find Emily Dickinson, Daphne du Maurier and Mary Anne Evans, aka George Elliot. Why they couldn’t get the Transphobe in Chief, the woman writer who publishes under her initials, a male pseudonym of a guy who tortured gay people, and who singlehandedly invented women back in the 1990s to sign their letter, I don’t know. Now, we all like to claim great woman of the past as our forbearers, brand ourselves as their heirs, but a simple fact is that we have no idea what their opinion on many things was or would have been. Who knows what Rosa Luxemburg would have thought about gay marriage? For a couple of other issues we do know their positions and they are horrible, especially with regards to race. Is it possible that these people would have agreed with them? Sure. Does that mean anything? Not unless you declare them infallible. Now, given that many transphobes are also terribly racist and homophobe, they probably consider that a feature, not a bug, since they happily outsource critical thinking.

It is, of course, also possible that those women would have told them to stuff it. It happens time again with modern authors who they suppose agree with their bigotry, like Margret Atwood. And after all, it is pretty unimportant. Those women are long dead, and while celebrities sure can help or hinder a cause, their opinion does not magically make a position right or wrong. Human rights are not determined by Grammy nominations or book prizes. There’s a hell lot of horrible people with book prizes or Nobel prizes. In the end that’s just an argument from second hand authority and you learn back in grade 10 that those are not actually arguments at all. By the end of the day it’s just another episode of transphobes (if you read the list you will indeed find familiar names) being terrible, and none of them sees any issue with this.

*Just to make this clear: I’m very fond of things like Women’s Prize for Fiction. We don’t have a level playing field and authors don’t get published by sole merit of their writing. Until we have a level playing field we do need Women’s Prizes, Black Literature Prizes, Queer Literature Prizes etc.

The Art of …

… ageing body positivity in portraiture, by Joan Semmel

The pictures are below the fold because they are nudes and are NSFW. They are unusual because they portray the ageing female body in a positive light. The story is from HuffPost, and the artist describes her work thusly,

“I painted in layers so that the evidence of age would not be erased by virtuoso paint handling. The sensuality of the flesh permeates these paintings, a sensuality that is not confined to youth. I had entered into a relationship with artist John Hardy, with whom I lived for 21 years before he passed away in 2014. These late years were empowering and rewarding in every sense, something I hoped to communicate through my work.

“The issues of the body from desire to aging, as well as those of identity and cultural imprinting, have been at the core of my concerns. The carnal nature of paint has seemed to me a perfect metaphor, the specifics of image, a necessary elaboration. The last 45 years of work, I think, reveal my ongoing interest in both process and relevance.”

[Read more…]

In which Biden disappears 157 million women (give or take)

With great mourning I must inform all of you that president Biden has disappeared about 157 million women. I am very sorry. This has come as a surprise to many, probably especially my formerly female cis American friends who woke up this morning to a terrible wasteland in which ALL their rights have been destroyed and they themselves ceased to exist, going on a a loosely connected set of uterus and ovaries.

What has happened?

Evil trans cabal cultist Joe Biden has issued an Executive Order on Preventing and Combating Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity or Sexual Orientation. The horrors! Protecting queer people, no matter them being gay or bi or trans or any combination from discrimination must be the end of all civilisation. The religious extremists are very shocked and upset, and by “religious extremists” I mean our dear “gender critical” friends, especially over on Terven Island.

Here’s the LGB alliance who tells you that an executive order forbidding discrimination based on sexual orientation is actually bad for gays and lesbians:

We are appalled by @potus’s executive order erasing the sex-based rights of women and girls. It deals a severe blow to women and girls in sport, prisons, rape shelters, hospitals etc and bans lesbians and gays from having our own spaces. We will help our US friends to oppose it.

 

Because we all know that’s exactly what happened in all those countries with similar regulations. The Irish Camogie teams are now just all the cis boys who didn’t make it in the Hurling team and are now allowed to beat all the cis girls up with the hurley. If you haven’t heard about it, it’s just because the international all powerful trans cabal suppresses the truth.

 

BTW, this is from an actual US right wing religious extremist. Do you spot the difference? Me neither.

..Normalizing transgenderism and pursuing public health policy of gender reassignment surgery in minors under 18 must not be allowed. Hormone therapy and gender reassignment surgery’s are extremely dangerous to long term physical and mental health of children…

.As a former competitive athlete and a mother to a daughter who is a D1 collegiate athlete, I staunchly oppose biological males in girls/women’s sports, locker rooms, and bathrooms. This completely violates women’s rights in every way…

…I by no means judge others for their sexual choices and dearly love my friends who are gay. I love people but stand firmly in God’s truth, which is this. Whether you believe in Him or not, God loves ALL of us and created us in His image, male and female…

…This is why the left’s pursuit to cancel gender and erase who’s image they were created in, is completely evil.

 

Not to mention that by her own tweet god’s image is female AND male, but there’s hardly any difference now between the religious right and “gender critical” people. Oh, sure, many of them condemmed the worst of Trumps actions, but they also think that Biden doing the least thing to protect trans people from discrimination is kind of worse than  Trump raping women and having women thrown into concentration camps where non necessary hysterectomies were done to immigrant women. “Gender critical” people seem to think that the religious extremists are wrong on every single issue except trans people, yet they are also willing to sacrifice every single right if only they can hurt trans people.

It’s time they owned that shit, packed their bags and went to Mar a Lago.

 

P.S.

Please, if there are any women left in the USA, give us a sign. We’ll send cookies.

Harry Potter and the Troublesome Ethics

In the last post I covered some of the more obvious problems with the world building. This one will focus on some of the ethical problems. I will focus on issues with sex and gender, not only because that’s generally my beat, but also because Rowling is being hailed as some sort of feminist icon, when her works don’t even show what I would call “house and garden” feminism that you can see in many so called “gender critical feminists”. In fact, the politics of sex and gender in Harry Potter are deeply troubled.

One:

Strong women: When Harry Potter was first published, it was lauded for its inclusion of so many “strong women”. “Strong women” are seen as the opposite of the “Damsel in distress” and sure, we got lots of capable women or girls showing agency: McGonagall, Hermione, Ginny, ehm, did I say “lots”? Yes, those women are shown as capable, more than equal to their male counterparts, yet they are also absolutely exceptional. We don’t get a female Ron, let alone a female Neville, a girl who is just average in about all aspects and who is still an important member of the group.

Two:

Women are either mothers, nuns,  or evil: If we look at the women in the Harry Potter universe, there seem to be just two types. Mothers and evil women. Let’s start with Harry’s own mum. She is portrayed as the best person we could ever meet. She stood up to bullies at school, and she loved her son so much that she sacrificed herself for his sake, as a mother’s proper role demands. I could go on and on about dead mothers in fiction, but that’s probably for another day. Her role was not that of Harry’s dad, who valiantly defends himself and his family, but that of a sacrifice, who dies so her son could live. This is seen as an especially motherly deed. It is a mother’s love that protects Harry, not a parent’s love.

The next woman we get is Molly Weasley, who is the archetypical SAHM. She’s got seven kids and is the perfect homemaker, who keeps everything tidy for her husband and children and makes ends meet with very little money. She is being portrayed as a wholesome character whose only little flaws is that she’s a bit overbearing and overprotective. In other words, she’s an ideal mother. Yet, you got to wonder: what is that woman doing all day? When we first meet the Weasleys she’s got exactly one kid left at home, by book two that number comes down to zero. Most household chores can be done by waving a wand (and still she longs for an enslaved creature to do them for her) and in line with the upper class boarding school setting of the novels, large parts of raising the kids has been passed off onto other people. From the first book on we know that money is more than tight (5 underage kids do cost a lot of money), yet working outside of the home is apparently considered a no go. This is repeated in Ginny, who we learn has a great career as a Quidditch player until she ends her career to raise her family.

The only mother who is somewhere in between is Narcissa Malfoy, but even with her, her motherly instincts are her redeeming feature. Her childfree sisters gets no such chance. She is just pure evil, with a flavour of madness to it (well, she’s been tortured by the “good guys” for over a decade, so madness seems kind of understandable). Aunt Petunia would feature somewhere in between as well, but I’m limiting myself here to the wizarding world.

The nuns are, of course, the teachers. Because teachers (did I mention that the numbers don’t add up again? That’s not enough people to teach in a school the size of Hogwarts. Even with only two classes each year, no teacher can teach ALL classes in a certain subject) need to be pure beings without their own family or lives. While this holds true for all teachers in Hogwarts, there’s no denial of the gendered history of female teachers being expected to be chaste and celibate. Many countries had laws that banned married women from teaching, while married men were, of course, ok.

And then there’s the evil women. They are not necessarily evil as in working for Voldemort, but they are clearly portrayed as bad characters. The two most prominent ones are Rita Skeeter and Dolores Umbridge. There have been speculations about whether Rita Skeeter is supposed to be a trans woman, as she’s described as having “mannish hands”, but I’ll leave that in the realm of speculation. What is true is that Rita Skeeter is an ambitious woman who is also apparently single. The same holds true for Dolores Umbridge: the thing she wants most in life is power over others. There seems to be no other motivation to her actions. She sells her work to the highest bidder and enjoys abusing her power. It’s important to mention that this sadistic person was first allowed to mistreat kids under the “good guys”. There’s another thing both of them have in common: They are coded as extremely feminine. I don’t think any other character’s attire gets mentioned that often. Rita is portrayed as trying to be attractive, probably trying to finally get herself a man, while Umbridge is trying to look cute and sweet. She likes kittens and bows. Clearly that makes her evil. Let me say it clear and loud here: shaming women for being feminine isn’t feminism, but patriarchy in a feminist wrapper.

There’s one more important woman, Merope, but I’ll come to her in a separate point.

Three:

Women are prizes to be won. I must say, the struggles through adolescence were some of the more enjoyable parts of the books. Especially in book 4, where Harry is such a self-centred prick as only adolescents can be, and with adolescence comes the awakening of romantic and sexual interests and that’s completely ok. Only that of course it’s all damn heteronormative, with the girls being passive creatures that need to be pursued by the boys. In book 5 we get the feeling that Hermione fancies Ron, yet she is unable to ask him to the Yule Ball. Harry pursues Ginny, yet he makes the decision to drop her for her own good. But in the end, both boys get their girls for having bravely defeated Voldemort. They can now start the nice domestic life of a heterosexual couple where mum raises kids, because those women are what they deserve. Though the question of domestic bliss leads me to the next point:

Four:

Wizards marrying Muggles is miscegenation. While the “good guys” consider Muggle born wizards and witches to be ok, it is made pretty clear that a relationship between a wizard and a Muggle is bad. There are no working Muggle-wizard couples in the Harry Potter universe. We get Voldemort’s parents (more on this later), we got Snape’s parents. Snape’s family life is described as pretty bad. His mother married a Muggle and the relationship is described as unhealthy and bad. Basically Snape’s nastiness (and no, I don’t care about his redemptive arc, he’s a nasty bully and should never have been allowed to teach kids) is explained by his home story. He is an outsider wherever he goes. The other one is Dean Thomas, whose father was probably a wizard who abandoned him and his mother. Now, how nobody in a community so small ever guessed who his father was is another question, but again we get the idea: You must not fuck a Muggle. And that’s from a book that apparently teaches that “judging people by their bloodlines is bad”. Can you think of any happy Muggle-wizard couple?

Five:

Rape is ok (if done by women). This is probably the worst of all. Rape is treated as no big deal. It is stark to see how a world where using the unforgivable “Imperius” curse to make somebody eat a worm will earn you a life sentence in a torture institution, but drugging somebody and make them have sex with you is such a minor thing that underage kids can buy those drugs in a joke store. The treatment of this reveals why Rowling’s descend into Terfdom shouldn’t have come as a surprise. Like many “gender critical” people she apparently believes that all women (only cis women are women to her, of course) are delicate creatures who need to be protected and who cannot commit rape because they don’t have a penis. The first time we encounter a love potion is when Ron eats some chocolates that were meant for Harry and now is madly in love with some girl. This is funny, haha. We’re meant to laugh at Ron, who is obviously out of his senses (and also at the girl, because isn’t the thought that somebody could be in love with that girl funny, haha). We are not supposed to be abhorred at the fact that somebody just drugged him to the point that he would do things with that girl he’d never consent to if he were sober. There are no consequences for the girl who drugged him and it’s no problem that the Weasley brothers sell their potions to whoever can pay for them (except for Ginny, cause their own sister needs to be chaste). However, if you think this is horrible, look at the most important use of love potions in the books: Voldemort’s story of origin.

I’ve hinted at this several times already, but Merope and Tom Riddle Senior are about the most fucked up story line in the whole books. When we first meet the two, it’s pretty clear with whom our sympathies are supposed to lie. Tom Riddle Senior is an arrogant ass. Some rich bastard’s son who looks down on his poor neighbours, not knowing that they are actually wizards. Merope on the other hand is the poor abused girl who has to care for her violent father and brother (somehow the wizarding world is ok with that as well). When those two get thrown into prison, Merope uses her shot at freedom by drugging and raping Tom Riddle. Of course, it’s never described like that. The way we learn about it in the books is a very sanitised version.

(Dumbledore) “Can you not think of any measure Merope could have taken to make Tom Riddle … fall in love with her…?” “The Imperius Curse?”, Harry suggested. “Or a love potion?” “Very good. Personally I am inclined to think that she used a love potion. I am sure it would have seemed more romantic to her…”

Then we learn that Riddle returned to his parents with talks of having been “hoodwinked” by Merope. The tale in his village was that he had married because he thought she was pregnant.

“But she did have have his baby.” (Harry) “Yes, but not until a year after they were married. Tom Riddle left her while she was still pregnant.” “What went wrong?”, asked Harry. “Why did the love potion stop working?”

Dumbledore speculates that Merope, whom he describes as deeply in love with Riddle, stopped giving him the potion, hoping that he’d stay for her sake and the baby’s, but:

“He left her, never saw her again, and never troubled to discover what became of his son.”

This is perhaps one of the worst passages in the whole books. A man is drugged over months, repeatedly raped, and when he finally escapes he is the bad guy for leaving his pregnant “wife”. There is no sympathy here for Tom Riddle. There is no horror conveyed. The use of the love potion gets described as “romantic”. Harry thinks that Riddle no longer being drugged is a sign that something went wrong, and Dumbledore immediately offers an explanation that paints Merope in a good light.

The next time we hear about Merope is that she sold her family heirloom after Riddle left her, or as Dumbledore calls it “when her husband abandoned her”. Now we come to Merope’s one and only crime: dying. While Dumbledore still tries to be sympathetic, finding reasons and excuses while Merope gave up, Harry is indignant.

(Dumbledore) “Of course, it is also possible that her unrequited love and the attendant despair sapped her of her powers. Merope refused to raise her wand even to save her own life.” “She wouldn’t even stay alive for her son?” Dumbledore raised his eyebrows. “Could you possibly be feeling sorry for Lord Voldemort?” “No”, said Harry quickly, “but she had a choice, didn’t she…”

Now I’d like to raise the question why we shouldn’t feel sorry for baby Tom Riddle, conceived through rape, born to a rapist mother who did not want him if she couldn’t have his father, and who was absolutely abandoned by his own community, although they absolutely knew about him, since “his name has been down for our school (Hogwarts) since birth”. But again, we’re meant to sympathise with Merope. The wizarding community only gives a fuck about Tom Riddle once he’s old enough to attend Hogwarts. Dumbledore doesn’t give a fuck before that. And Riddle is described as a bad person even from the time he was a wee baby. Again, see the point about miscegenation. We are meant to believe that Tom Riddle was bad because of his blood (and not, maybe, because he was dumped in a non magical orphanage without any loving person around), yet somehow even this isn’t meant to raise some sympathy. It is hard not to see the gendered aspect here: Merope is always the victim, always somewhat less responsible for her own actions than others, while the man she raped and the boy she birthed are to be judged. We are meant to believe that an abandoned and mistreated 11 years old boy is just inherently bad, while a mistreated 18 years old woman is just “in love” or “heartbroken”.

There are many other ethical problems in Harry Potter’s world. You can find more examples in Charly’s comment on the last post, or Andreas’ post on interspecies relationships. I’ll leave it at this for now.

Woman Artists on Youtube – Movie Reviewer – Jill Bearup

I am not shure whether movie reviewer is the correct title – she is specializing in talking about stage combat, but not only that. I found her because I have recently caught up with my MCU deficit (last movie I saw before this year was Guardians of the Galaxy 2) and YouTube algorithm caught up pretty quickly on that.