TBR Jar: The Bechdel Test

I had The Radical Elements come in from a library hold. It seemed like a perfect fit for this category since it was stories by women about young women. It was just as good as its predecessor, A Tyranny of Petticoats, if not better.

  • Daughter of the Book – 4/5
  • You’re a Stranger Here – 3/5
  • The Magician – 5/5
  • Lady Firebrand – 4/5
  • Step Right Up – 5/5
  • Glamour – 3/5
  • Better for All the World – 5/5
  • When Moonlight Isn’t Enough – 3.5/5
  • The Belle of the Ball – 4/5
  • Land of the Sweet, Home of the Brave – 5/5
  • The Birth Of Susi Go-Go – 4/5
  • Take Me with U – 5/5

Not all of these stories pass with flying colors but exclusive dialogue doesn’t mean the roles women play aren’t important. We never see Lana have a conversation with her mother or grandmother but their presence can’t be denied in the story. Ray passing in a man’s world is a crucial part of her narrative but limits the number of female characters present.

The test works well for a visual medium but you don’t need a direct conversation in a written work. All of these stories center on young women who need to stand strong in a world that doesn’t belong to them. These are stories about the importance of bravery, perseverance, and integrity.

The average for this collection is 4.2 which is pretty spot on since I’d give it a 4.5. I rounded up to 5 for my GoodReads.


When Heroes Fall

Several years ago, I dated someone who my friend adored. She told me what a great friend he was and a funny and interesting person. He was one of the most immature and self-centered men I’d ever dated. Who someone is in a relationship can be radically different from who they are in the rest of their life. Reading Joss Whedon’s ex-wife’s recent essay made me think of that moment.

What stood out to me is “It’s not just like I killed you, but that I’d done it subtly, over years. That I’d been poisoning you. Chipping away at you.” Maybe Whedon is realizing his mistakes and hates himself for it. Maybe he said this matter-of-factly with no remorse. He’s not talking so we’ll probably never know.

Whedon says his silence is because of concern for his kids and respect for his ex-wife. Maybe Whedon is letting Cole have her truth after years of terrible treatment or maybe he doesn’t want to admit all the wrong he’s done and is sitting quietly. When an ex of mine took to social media for validation, doing nothing made me look great and him look incredibly petty.

The difference here is that very few seem to doubt Cole’s claims. Whedon’s performative feminism makes sense even before reading Laura Browning’s critique of Whedon’s feminism. A man playing at gender equality becomes the hero the world tells him he is and we get so few powerful women in sci-fi we don’t look too hard at the flaws when we do.

I believe Whedon had these affairs and deceived his wife. I believe Cole let herself get lost in that relationship. What is true beyond that isn’t certain. I am incredibly disappointed in Joss Whedon and I will let my dollars talk when it comes to his future projects.  However, I refuse to ignore the things he’s created that meant something to me. I still love Firefly and Dr. Horrible and always will. We should never forget Whedon’s quote:

“Why do you write these strong female characters?”

“Because you’re still asking me that question.”

It still applies and it’s still an important point. Whedon is another fallen hero because he is a deeply flawed man but he still managed to create great content. He showed that women can and should be heroes in our media.

Women should continue to demand similar content and characters and hold artists accountable. Don’t let sci-fi fall back to being a boy’s club. Demand more female heroes, more diverse writers and content, demand representation. Whedon opened the door and we need to keep it from shutting.

Women’s March and Nerdy 30 Activity #2 and Books 1-4

Saturday I participated in the Women’s March. It was surreal to know I was a part of the largest gathering in U.S. history, the largest global protest, and the first confirmed lie from the Trump Administration. It wound up being so much bigger than the organizers anticipated that we couldn’t really march.

Trump and his lackeys can pretend his inauguration had a better turnout but photos and metro ridership don’t lie. FFS, people in Antarctica were protesting. I remember Alicia Keys, Scarlett Johannson, and Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards. The signs were amazing and the fact that a gathering of this size garnered no arrests is beautiful.

We took over the city. WMATA was so slammed FHubs and I wound up at E Street Cinema and decided to take in a movie while things calmed down. After that, we headed to DuPont because I wanted to support a local business and buy a book that was empowering for women.

I know I’m supposed to be on a ‘no buy’ right now but I have no regrets about my purchases. I’m already 30 pages into the survival guide. Despite my distaste for politics, it’s time to get involved. When the going gets ugly, the women get nasty.

The Bachelor Work Out

I will readily admit I started watching this show with Magenta and live texting it. That tradition lived on with the Monday premiere but she texted me. I didn’t have to be super-attentive since I was going for Viggle* points, tweeting, and doing this:

For the remained of the season, Fake Job Title will become “Connection.” I think I did at least 50 squats. I surprisingly managed to check off Disney. No one really cried or worried about the ‘right reasons’ on the first night but it looks like it will be a great season. We’ve got Keep It Weird Mandi, Queen Bitch and Producer’s Choice Lace, War Vet Jubilee, and the chick who doesn’t speak English too well. I’m so excited for the contrived drama.

In addition to making me get my ass off the couch during commercials, it also makes you aware of the media I’m watching. I’m not mindlessly consuming but am aware this guy is dating 20+ women under the premise of finding a wife inside of 3 months. That’s totally typical.

Each date is either an exercise in humiliation or forced romance that only billionaires can pull off in real life. You’re not talking about normal things over coffee for 2 hours because that’s boring to watch. Instead, go through this obstacle course in bridal gowns then a helicopter ride.

And the women’s only entertainment is working out and each other. There are no books, magazines, crossword puzzles, music, TV, movies, or podcasts. With nothing else to focus on, I doubt the women are thinking about whether or not they like the Bachelor.

The whole thing is breathtakingly contrived and horribly entertaining. I’m going to embrace this recipe for disaster and use it to get thighs of steel.

Viggle is an app that gives you points for watching TV. Certain shows and movies will have watch bonuses (3x) or trivia (50 -100 points per right answer). Some shows have streak bonuses (watch 5 and get 1,000 points). Anything under an hour and sports don’t have to be audio verified. You can match a max of 20 songs per day. You can only match a song once.

My Body, My Rights, Your Problem


Above is a very popular image describing the fundamental concept of bodily autonomy. Many people who believe life starts when a sperm fertilizes an egg deem these laws irrelevant when it comes to pregnant women.

What would happen if men were held to the same lack of bodily autonomy as women seeking abortions?

-Protests for the sterilization or castration of serial rapists and murderers would not only be tolerated, they be encouraged.

-Men who routinely failed to make child support payments and be present in their child’s lives would be shamed for not having vasectomies. “If you can’t support it, don’t have it,” protestors would routinely yell outside family court and local clinics.

-Men who weren’t ready to be parents would be told they shouldn’t be sluts and stop having sex if they don’t like the consequences. Affordable birth control and information about reproductive health would be a constantly waging war.

-Men who had sex before marriage would be likened to a used tissue or used shoe. You don’t want something everyone else has had, do you? They’d be told they’re worthless and disposable.

-A conservative business would be approved to deny healthcare coverage of family planning medications (including condoms) and viagra.

-Any man who has been to jail beyond a certain number of times would be considered worthy of sterilization and shamed by society for having children. They aren’t fit to raise a child.

-Men who wished to receive a vasectomy must undergo an uncomfortable, unnecessary, and invasive medical procedure and then be made to wait an additional 24 hours before the procedure ‘in case he changed his mind.’ They would have to fight their way through a mass of people calling them murderers and damning them to hell. They be shamed and condemned for wasting their seed, a gift from God.

Most of this sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? Yet these are things women and girls deal with every day. It only sounds ridiculous when we try to liken it to men’s experiences.

Abortion is a LEGAL medical procedure. Denying women access to it is shameful. Attacking abortion providers is domestic terrorism. Trying to pass personhood amendments and giving fetuses rights to an attorney is disgusting and shameful. Women deserve more rights to their body than an unidentified corpse!

What happened if abortion wasn’t legal? Rich women would pay their doctors to look the other way or they’d leave the country. Poor women would go back to being sterilized or dying in back alleys. Getting rid of abortion will create more problems that it could ever hope to solve.

What will get rid of abortion? Comprehensive sex education. Access to family planning services and contraception. You know the phrase, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure? It can apply here too. If people who hate abortion so much stopped wasting their time fighting it and invested that time in preventing it from happening, society would be a much better place.

Men’s Rights Get It Wrong, Again

I already learned what happens when you post something accurate about GamerGate and MRAs on Twitter but what happens when you post it on Reddit?

Someone asked why feminists are angry. I said that if you consistently have your point dismissed, ignored, or redirected so no man actually has to think about his power and, gods forbid, change his behavior, it’s frustrating. Then you have groups like GG and MRAs whose sole purpose is the antagonize feminists rather than do good in the world, you start to get a little angry.

I have read multiple articles about GamerGate and MRAs from pretty reliable sources (Washington Post, NYT) and I fail to see any good they’re doing. Those sources also do some impressive things like actually citing their research rather than spouting off facts and expecting everyone to take them at face value.

I also made sure to note that I have had personal experience with both of these communities and none of them have been pleasant. I posted something positive to Ann Wheaton on Twitter while she was under fire for saying something not positive about GamerGate. Despite do nothing to provoke any of these individuals, I got several antagonizing tweets. In the world of GamerGate logic, supporting their enemy means taking up a sword for their side in battle.

“So what you’re saying is your opinion on gamergate and MRAs is formed by listening to people that already hate them talk about them?

MRAs have opened shelters for men and continue to push for recognition of male rape and domestic violence victims despite opposition which extends all the way to outright criminal violence and shootings.

Gamergate has achieved significant reforms in ethics policies at many major journalistic outlets as well as raised literally hundreds of thousands of dollars for everything from funding female game developers to anti-bullying and anti-suicide charities.

The people telling you that both are the devil incarnate are literally racists, pedophiles, and rapist defenders like Sarah Nyberg, Arthur Chu, and Leigh Alexander.”

“MRAs literally can’t even try to talk about lowering the catastrophic suicide rate among men without large groups of feminists flooding the venue with death and bomb threats, blocking the doors, attacking people trying to get in, and pulling fire alarms to shut the whole thing down.

Which side is really the one that tries to make life harder for anyone who dares disagree with them here? The side that tries to open shelters, or the side that shoots peoples’ dogs for sheltering male DV victims?”

I asked both users to show me proof of their evidence. If there’s anything both of those groups seem to love, it’s throwing out facts without citations and expecting everyone to take them at face value. If you want to change my mind, the burden of proof is on you.

I have yet to see anyone in either group defend their side without resorting to vitriol and ranting. They’re consistently bad listeners and incapable of find fault with anyone on their side. Both groups have horrible reputations and it seems very well earned.

I’m not a feminist but…

If there is one thing that makes me deduct IQ points faster than a popped collar or Donald Trump endorsement, it’s a woman saying “I’m not a feminist.”
Assuming all feminists are the same extreme man-haters is like assuming all Christians are like the Duggars. There is so much media out there to correct your erroneous assumptions that all I hear someone who is willfully ignorant or a coward.
If you like the rights you have but think women aren’t equal yet and should be, you’re a feminist. Personally, I lose most of my respect for any woman who ‘isn’t really a feminist.’ You don’t have to be political to agree with points we make or what we’re fighting for.
There are also plenty of ways to not be a feminist. If you agree with any of the following, you’re probably not one of us.
-I’m fine with the wage gap.
-I’m OK that men are never asked “How do you balance career and family?”
-I have no problem that having kids will greatly impact my chance at a promotion or raise or could even cost me my career.
-I don’t believe in rape culture.
-Street harassment is not a big deal.
-Voting isn’t that big of a deal to me.
-I think the media and advertising do a good job portraying women. There are no representation problems.
-Defunding Planned Parenthood isn’t that big of a deal. Those women can just go somewhere else.
-I am not afraid that women’s right to choose is at risk
-Personhood amendments are a good idea.
-I believe there is no war on women.
-Breastfeeding is gross and shouldn’t be done in public.
-Abstinence only sex education works.
-I think women are partly responsible for their rapes and sexual assaults.
-Menists and MRAs have a point.
-It’s about ethics in video game journalism.
-I’m more of a humanist.
-Donald Trump would be a good president.
If you disagree with anything on this list, you’re almost definitely a feminist. Take the name and own it. Otherwise, you’re part of the problem.