Feminist Perversions: Sea Shanty Edition

Right then. A little while back Cat Mara on WeHuntedTheMammoth came up with the idea of WHTM-themed sea shanties:

[W]hat would a blog’s comment section be but a mutual admiration society? Why else would people come here and leave comments if they didn’t like the other people doing so? One could just lurk, or read the articles posted on the main page passively through an RSS reader. It’s not the Army. We didn’t enlist; we weren’t pressganged…

At least I wasn’t. If David approached any of you in a seedy waterfront bar and said, “aaar, I be formin’ a blog and be in need of trusty hands to work the bilge in the comments, will ye take me shilling?” you’d tell me, right? Are there shanties? Tell me there are shanties!

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Okay, who watched the Doctor Who premiere?

I will not provide direct spoilers in this post, but I assume that anyone commenting will be people who have watched DWs11e01, so consider this your spoiler warning for every single comment in this thread and also considered yourself hint-warned, if not spoiler-warned, for the rest of the body of this post.

Right. Allons-y!

I’m not quite sure how I feel about Whittaker. There’s a bit of the crazy that Tennant brought to the role, but it’s toned down a bit, so it’s not as if I’m looking forward to a Doctor with quite the same manic energy. On the other hand, adding more detail to the tinkerer/ inventor aspects of the Doctor seemed to be something within reach of the character, but perhaps not as emphasized in the past. That could be something unique brought to Whittaker’s Doctor. In the meantime, the Dramatic Monologue™ in the Big Dramatic Moment™ seemed a transparent restatement of what the creators of the new series hope to bring to the show. I also can’t decide putting those words in the Doctor’s mouth was really, really cool, or just too meta.

Grace is a complete delight. The train scene was fantastic, and obviously she has many qualities that make her someone to admire, respect, or just fantasize about being when you grow up.

I like Grandpa/Graham – they had to work a white guy into the show, and I’m pleased with this iteration. Of course, like all the characters, he still needs some fleshing out, but that’s fine. We’ve got a whole season (series for your Brits) ahead of us.

Yaz is my favorite new character, at least so far, even though I think that the producers seem to be expecting Ryan to be our empathetic entree into the world of the Doctor (I say that based on narration that occurred at the beginning & end of the episode).

Anyway, who else saw the episode, and what did you think?


Appropos of Kavanaugh nothing: A few songs

Gods, I’ve written three e-mails to each of Oregon’s senators in the past week and given each one phone call. I’m resisting, but damn I’m exhausted. So without any more preamble, let’s do this:


That felt good.

And while you may feel like swearing, that’s blocked in your country, you USAmericans:


And maybe something that an unnamed SCOTUS nominee should probably have been told a time or two when growing up:

An explanation for divergent testimonies:


And, while we’re at it, why don’t we just


Try not to tear yourself apart, though. We are the




Horrible Jokes

So my best friend and I were having a conversation sparked by that most recent post of mine. We were discussing whether it was acceptable, even as a cathartic joke, to talk about burning (fictional and/or non-specific) people and scattering their ashes on the wind. We concluded that it could be acceptable in some contexts. But that brought up another joke, that was subtly different:

Q: How many men does it take to wallpaper a bedroom?

A: Only one if you slice him thin enough.

Now, my best friend is actually the same person who first told me this joke 20 years ago, so I was a bit surprised to hear her say that this joke was never acceptable. She went so far as to say she should never have told it. On the other hand, I think it’s completely unacceptable to tell such a joke for laughs in any public context you could find in Canada today – and likewise in any public context you could find in the US today – but that when she first heard it in the 1980s the context was sufficiently different that it could be (and was) acceptable in at least some contexts. Where she first heard it was during an ongoing anti-war protest. It was a women-only camp that was set up to protest and to monitor activity related to the Pershing II missiles (nuclear tipped missiles with a range that shifted during development and production, but was ultimately ~1000 miles or 1500-1800 km) designed to be deployed in Europe. Everyone at the camp being seriously committed to non-violence contributed, I believe, to the context that made the joke acceptable in the time and place originally told. It also matters (to me, anyway) that “humor” about violence against women was still not merely acceptable, but financially rewarded. this is, after all, long after “To the moon, Alice,” and still before Andrew Dice Clay would sell out venues to thousands of people eager to hear “jokes” like:

I give [women] what they want. Pull their hair, rap ’em in the head a few times, say all the little things they want to hear, like ‘Fuck, pig, howl, skank.

Emphasis added.

For me, although the discussion at the peace camp wasn’t this context, the joke would also have been acceptable when told in a way that was designed to provoke a reaction (“hey, that ain’t fair to men!”) and then to use that reaction to make society better (“But you accept that unfairness from men comedians … if you interrupt and question this joke, are you going to interrupt and question misogynist jokes?”).

Although there is certainly a wealth of sexist/misogynist humor out there, I think there’s enough of a new social context for us to leverage other arguments or employ other tactics to fight what still exists. There’s simply less need for a “slice ’em thin enough” joke to make the point. While the possibility of telling such jokes for catharsis still exists, I don’t believe that telling them publicly (including in almost any manner using the internet) is necessary for such catharsis. I think it’s good if people don’t tell such jokes for cathartic laughs in private with their best friends, but if people conduct themselves well publicly, I won’t condemn them for using humor privately for reasons such as catharsis that would not be acceptable publicly.*1

I make a distinction between this joke and the “people who make me angry” joke in the previous post because the previous post’s joke targeted “the people that inspire my rage” where “my” is a pronoun standing in for a particular, but fictional, person. Thus the targets are specific, but undefined. The targets of the wallpaper joke are non-specific, but well defined (all men). There’s much more reason and justification, then, for some individuals hearing the wallpaper joke to believe that they devalued, that they are socially or psychologically injured by the joke. Nor do I think it saves the wallpaper joke that men benefit from sexism. It’s arguable, but I think in the 1980s men’s privilege and the context of misogynist humor might very well have saved the joke. Today? No.

What do you think? If told in the comedy club nearest you (as a joke, not dissected for its social meaning and effects and morality), would the wallpaper joke be acceptable? Could it ever possibly be? Would it matter if it was a special event night (e.g. “feminist humor night” where the violence and sexual prejudice of the joke are more likely to be interpreted ironically)? What about the burning/scattering the ashes joke? Would it be acceptable at your local comedy club? Could it ever be?

Although I find the latter much more acceptable than the former, I’d love to hear any disagreement.

*1: The reason I don’t think it’s a good idea even privately is that I think it reinforces certain types of thinking, which then makes harmful actions more likely later when one reenters public space. In theory it’s possible to tell jokes that target people based on gender or race or dis/ability in private while behaving generously and without prejudice in public. In practice, I don’t think it’s possible. But since without telepathy it would be impossible to know about the private jokes and (more importantly) impossible to know exactly what role private jokes played in shaping public behavior, I’d rather focus my criticism on the unacceptable public behavior.

The Incomparable Corrupting Influence of Judy Blume (Also: Call Your Senators)

It’s Banned Book Week! And I haven’t written anything about it yet! You must therefore read my Blume babbling! Let’s get started, eh?

So I recently wrote about a new cartoon, Human Kind Of, produced by Facebook. I love that cartoon in part because the pilot takes on the topics of periods generally and menarche specifically with anything but subtlety and sideways reference. Although I was happy to share the cartoon, and happy as well to be informed my link led to pop-up madness (something I’d missed from having 3 ad blockers in constant use), I was disappointed that no one seemed to comment on the ambiguity in the post’s title An Unholy Pit of Horrors Coughs Up Something Amazing.

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An Unholy Pit of Horrors Coughs Up Something Amazing [Ed: Updated Link!]

I am not on Facebook. I believe the company is pretty horrible with their disrespect for their own users. yet there’s something called “Facebook Watch” which apparently funds the creation of videos. This is the first one I’ve ever come across and it is AMAZEBALLZ.

You’ll have to watch it at Kiss Cartoon or on Facebook, if you do that kind of thing (I won’t judge), but if this is your first experience with the cartoon Human, Kind Of, race back here and tell me what you thought. Won’t that make a nice distraction from the Kavanaughcalypse? Of course it would. Go watch it right now.

Each episode is only 5 or 6 minutes. There are only 6 eps available at Kiss Cartoon, and only 6 listed at Wikipedia, but IMDB says that the first season (which started this month) is 21 episodes long, so it looks like this is a slow-rollout like a network show, rather than a mass upload like a Netflix series. So it looks like we’ll get to look forward to drips of deliciousness for months to come. Ah, Facebook, you have gone and made me so conflicted that now I’m thinking about … pirating all your content, stealing all your profits, and funding awesome shows like this without the attached evil.

What. Have You. Done!?!

Update: I changed the link to a youtube link found by ridana. Turns out that my adblockers made me fail to notice that kiss cartoon is a riot of pop up ads. Hopefully that will be a much friendlier link for folks!

Highlighting Wonkette Wisdom

There was a bit in a piece by Wonkette writer Robyn Pennacchia that was too good not to signal boost:

I have a theory on why women are the primary audience for true crime, for why we are the primary audience for crime procedurals. It’s because justice, for us, is a kind of escapism, it’s a kind of fairy tale — about as likely to happen in real life, to us or to anyone we know, as a pumpkin turning into a carriage. Nearly every single woman I know who has reported a rape or a sexual assault to the police has been told, more or less, to fuck off, nearly every one has been retraumatized. We have hundreds of thousands of untested rape kits, just hanging around in warehouses.

I, too, have watched hours of Law & Order in its original and SVU incarnations. I, too, have come to the conclusion that the criminal justice system is aptly named. How do I combine a dislike of how rule of law is exploited to produce its opposite and along the way perpetuate injustice after injustice with an affection for shows such as this? It’s exactly what Pennacchia said: fantasies can be as comforting as fresh baked bread.