Links about women and the damage done to them

“If the vulva as a whole is an underappreciated city, the clitoris is a local roadside bar: little known, seldom considered, probably best avoided. “It’s completely ignored by pretty much everyone,” said Dr. Rachel Rubin, a urologist and sexual health specialist outside Washington, D.C. “There is no medical community that has taken ownership in the research, in the management, in the diagnosis of vulva-related conditions.” — NYT article on the lack of medical interest in the clitoris.

“At an amateur contest in 2009, she placed fourth and was surprised that it was taking so long for her to earn her pro card. When she asked why, she said, a prominent judge told her: ‘Because you didn’t come to my room last night.'” — female bodybuilders speaking out about harassment in their sport.

“And considerable gaps in death exist based on geography, too, with women who live in rural communities about 60 percent more likely to die from pregnancy complications than their urban counterparts.” — from a WaPo piece about how Dobbs is making the availability of rural ob/gyn care worse.

“An Indiana doctor who provided an abortion to a 10-year-old rape victim has asked a judge to stop the Indiana attorney general from accessing patient medical records as part of an investigation into consumer complaints her lawyers have called a “sham.”

Kentucky voters rejected a constitutional amendment that would have eliminated any right to abortion found in the state constitution. The state’s forced-birther AG insists there’s still no such right. Over in Tennessee, the law doesn’t offer a life of the mother exemption — doctors can cite it as a defense though — and forced birthers like it that way: “The burden of proof, the onus, is on the doctor to prove that he or she was in the right.”

“All of this comes as right-wing commentators scrabble through the detritus of last week’s elections, and have concluded that the real problem was … cat-owning single women.” Because the days when that might encourage Republicans to modify their polices are dead and gone — it has to be the women’s fault for defying them!

Even by the standards of crackpot anti-PP conspiracy theories “Planned Parenthood gives out contraception so they can make that money back with the higher number of abortions that ensue” is some seriously deranged stuff. And no point does this thread begin to approach a more coherent or empirically grounded thought.” — LGM on National Review‘s latest right-wing bullshit recruit, Alexandra DeSanctis Marr. And no, they’re not distorting her positions.

“Policies that center women do not exist in this world. They are inconceivable in the sense that minds in this world cannot contain or consider them. It’s an inability to imagine that women contribute particular ways of looking at policy, due to their history and circumstances. Women are allowed to be in the conversation but not of it.”

”I don’t think you’re having children any time soon,” — Marjorie Taylor Greene on why older women’s pro-choice views don’t matter. In contrast to all the men writing these laws who are going to pop out a baby, I take it?

“The FDA’s approval of chemical abortion drugs has always stood on shaky legal and moral ground, and after years of evading responsibility, it’s time for the government to do what it’s legally required to do: protect the health and safety of vulnerable girls and women,” — the rationale forced-birth groups are offering for suing in a right-wing district court to ban the morning after pill. Never mind that abortion is safer than giving birth.

I discuss more misogynistic bullshit in Undead Sexist Cliches, available as a Amazon paperback, an ebook and from several other retailers. Cover by Kemp Ward, all rights remain with current holder.


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So with the holidays and all, I ran into a time crunch …

So no time to write book reviews for today. Instead, I hope you’ll accept some eye-catching paperback covers as a substitute. First a Richard Powers cover—Next, one of James Bama’s memorable Doc Savage covers.Gervasio Gallardo’s cover for Lud-in-the-Mist.Gray Morrow provides the art for this series entry, which I remember from my teenage years. What role Frankenstein plays in this story given the cover copy I cannot begin to imagine.And a weird uncredited cover.#SFWApro. All rights to images remain with current holders. Regular reviews return next Sunday.

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Doctor Who in Flux! Jodie Whittaker’s final season (with spoilers)

The thirteenth Doctor, Jodie Whittaker, wraps things up with the six part Flux serial and three specials. I’m inclined to agree with most of the online commentary that Chris Chibnall’s farewell, like most of his run, didn’t quite work.It doesn’t help that Flux — the season-long story arc, a la The Invasion of Time —  follows on the big reveal of the previous season, that the Doctor had dozens of regenerations before the supposed First Doctor, all of which he spent in service to Division, a black ops organization on Gallifrey. The Doctor had the ability to regenerate before the Time Lords — indeed it was her foster mother’s research on the Doctor’s DNA that made it possible for other Gallifreyans to do it. I didn’t like this idea but I didn’t hate it as much as many fans did. However, this season makes it worse.

The Flux is a cosmic force that breaks into the universe, destroying everything. One alien race is trying to protect Earth from the damage; the Sontarans hope to exploit it and conquer whatever survives. A sadistic creature called Swarm wants to destroy the Doctor for imprisoning Swarm back in the Division era.

The Weeping Angels show up hunting the Doctor and Yaz (the other Whittaker companions have gone) but it turns out they’re working for the Doctor’s foster mum, the head of Division. That organization now encompasses multiple races and worlds, and Mom wants the Doctor to come back to them. They’ve relocated outside time-space so whatever damage destroys the universe, they can shift to another. Or the Doctor can stay behind and die.

The series carries over the conceit of the previous season that the Doctor is not only the star of the show but the star of the universe: even the Apocalypse is about destroying the Doctor. Division apparently has no interests other than the Doctor (we’re told they’re Big, Big, Big but we don’t see it). It’s as absurd as The Trouble With Girls but that comic-book series knew it was absurd; Chibnall’s Doctor Who doesn’t. “I approach everything with caution — or abandon, one of the two.”

The follow-up to thwarting Swarm, Division and Flux was three specials, with a fourth to come introducing the new Doctor (though it looks like Whittaker’s gone at the end of the third). Eve of the Daleks has the Doctor, Yaz, some bystandards, and some Daleks trapped in a time loop on New Year’s Eve. While the Doctor and Yaz remember everything from previous loops so do the Daleks, so there’s no advantage; can the Doctor break out of the loop before everyone dies? “The Doctor will not save you. The Doctor will never save you.”

The Legend of the Sea Devils was fun, but stuffed with enough elements it would have worked better as a four part serial in the old days.  In ancient China the Sea Devils are hunting down a priceless McGuffin, opposed by the Doctor and Chinese pirate queen Mrs. Chang. It’s fun, but not well structured. It does acknowledge Yaz and the Doctor have feelings for each other but the Doctor doesn’t want to act on them, knowing no Companion ever lasts. “That’s the trouble with history, it’s never like the books — sort of like Stephen King movies.”

The same can be said of what’s apparently Whittaker’s farewell, The Power of the Doctor. We have the Master posing as Rasputin, classic paintings getting transformed (so the Mona Lisa and The Scream show the Master’s face), mysterious volcanic eruptions, a cyber-planet appearing over pre-Revolutionary Russia and the Master regenerating the Doctor into a clone of himself, enabling him, he hopes, to blacken her reputation.

What makes it work is that along with Yaz and the Doctor we get Ace (Sophie Aldred), the seventh Doctor’s companion, and Tegan (Janet Fielding) from the Peter Davison era. Ace is as amazing as she was in the old show — informed that she needs to climb down inside a live volcano, penetrate a Dalek base and stop them blowing up the world, she grabs up an aluminum baseball bat — “I”ll show you how I smashed Daleks in ’63!” (a reference to Remembrance of the Daleks). And the ending, after Whittaker has an initial, temporary regeneration (into David Tennant — I’d sooner have Matt Smith or Christopher Eccleston), shows a Companions support group including Bonnie (sixth doctor), Jo and the First Doctor’s Ian (William Russell, still alive). And yes, a few of the surviving Doctors put in an appearance too (Ace seeing Seven again was a great touch). The nostalgia factor made me love this one despite its flaws. “I could call this The Master’s Dalek Plan — but I think I’ll just call it the day I finally killed you.”

#SFWApro. All rights to images remain with current holders.


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For some reason I only got about three days of work done … oh, wait

And most of the three days went to working on another of my paying-gig accounting articles. So not much else to discuss.

I did rewrite Don’t Pay the Ferryman (I may retitle it Paying the Ferryman) and I think I have an ending that will work. I also finished the first chapter of my revamped Let No Man Put Asunder but I’m not sure where to go next (I’ll discuss that in its own post soon). And then came Thanksgiving and today, which I’m also taking off. so that’s about it. Though I did post at Atomic Junkshop about DC’s new characters from 1965 and my love of Sherlock Holmes.As Charon plays a role in Paying the Ferryman, here’s Ernie Colon’s depiction from Arak, Son of Thunder.#SFWApro. All rights to image remain with current holder.

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This might be a good sign.

TYG would love it if Snowdrop became an indoor cat at least part of the time. It’s not only for his safety, it’s that if he were comfortable when we close the door on him, we wouldn’t have to pet him while freezing winter air is coming in. But if it’s closed, he sits there and meows piteously; if we even look like we’re going door-wards, he’ll run out. We could just refuse to open it again, but TYG thinks it would make him too uncomfortable to keep coming in.

However he seems to have accepted from watching Wisp that the couch is a cool place to sit. So last week he climbed up on the couch with me ——and then rolled over and let me scritch the tummy.This is way more comfortable than he’s been in the past. I’m hoping that’s a good sign he’s coming to trust us. Even so, he’d probably freak out if we closed the door while he was on the couch. But little baby steps and all that, right?


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Giving thanks

So rather than the usual political post, a quick note of gratitude.

For TYG, who is better than my fantasies of what finding someone would be like.For our wonderful pets.For finally becoming a published novelist.For continued good health. And relief that a close friend’s recent health problem has been handled.

I wish everyone a good day of family, food, friendship, and relaxation in whatever combination and proportions work for you.

#SFWApro. Cover by Samantha Collins, rights are mine.

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Undead sexist cliche: Wives are obligated to make love to their husbands

(As I’m writing an upbeat Thanksgiving post for tomorrow, here’s the political post that would have appeared on a regular Thursday).

“Why do we assume that it is terribly irresponsible for a man to refuse to go to work because he is not in the mood, but a woman can — indeed, ought to — refuse sex because she is not in the mood?” was an insight from right-winger Dennis Prager some years ago. In other words, having sex with him is her job, her responsibility — how dare she shirk it just because she isn’t feeling the urge. It’s the fault of those stupid baby boomers prioritizing their fragile fee-fees, leading to the ridiculous idea that “the only right time for a wife to have sex with her husband is when she feels like having it.”

That actually seems reasonable to me, though of course I am one of those Boomers who cares about feelings. I actually think neither man nor woman is obligated to put out when they don’t want to ever. As Jezebel points out, a woman might have very good reasons for not feeling like sex: her husband cheats, he’s an abusive drunk, there’s no money for the bills, he’s flushed her birth control down the toilet. Or she’s spent the day working, then provided child-care and cooking after getting off work and she’s just too tired. No, I don’t think “just lie there” is the best solution.

According to Prager (quoted at Jezebel), men see women having sex with them as proof of love; fell0w right-wing misogynist D.C. McAllister takes the reverse view, that men use sex to show their own love but she likewise concludes that women must therefore forget their own wants and focus on the man’s because that’s what love is, sacrifice! The idea that this works in reverse — don’t demand sex from someone who’s not in the mood — doesn’t occur to her.

I don’t agree with Jezebel that this proves Prager’s pro-marital rape — saying a wife is obligated isn’t the same as saying the husband has a right to force her (though it wouldn’t shock me if I were wrong). However pressuring someone who’s not into it (“Prove that you love me.”) is still unpleasant, and  the idea anyone is ever duty bound to put out is bullshit (though Jesus and John Wayne showed it’s a common one on the right).

It’s also a recipe for lousy sex. If a wife assumes that having sex when you don’t want it and don’t enjoy it is normal, she has little reason to become enthused, or to explore what would feel good. If she just lies there and thinks of England, the husband may never know she’s not satisfied. But as Rebecca Traister says, that’s not surprising in a society where women’s pleasure is disposable: “Male climax remains the accepted finish of hetero encounters; a woman’s orgasm is still the elusive, optional bonus round.” If the sex is unwanted, uncomfortable or painful, well that’s just the way it is for women. No big.

Prager goes on that compared to women “men’s sexual nature is far closer to that of animals. So what? That is the way he is made. Blame God and nature. Telling your husband to control it is a fine idea. But he already does. Every man who is sexually faithful to his wife already engages in daily heroic self-control. He has married knowing he will have to deny his sexual natures desire for variety for the rest of his life. To ask that he also regularly deny himself sex with the one woman in the world with whom he is permitted sex is asking far too much.”

This is another common view (writer Tracy McMillan made it some years ago) but it ignores that women also give up their option to take other lovers when they enter a monogamous relationship. Prager apparently thinks they wouldn’t do that because women aren’t animals like their men. But biologically a human male is closer to a human female than to any other living creature. And the question arises, which animals is Prager thinking of? Lots of animals only have sex when the female comes into heat. A few animals apparently mate for life. No animal (as far as I know) follows the common human pattern of outward monogamy/covert cheating.

And providing sex is not the equivalent of the husband’s job.

I write more about sex and related topics in Undead Sexist Cliches, available as a Amazon paperback, an ebook and from several other retailers. Cover by Kemp Ward, all rights remain with current holder.

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Women of outer space in cover illustrations!

First this swashbuckler by Robert Gibson Jones.Another by Jones.This Kelly Freas cover makes me curious about “Teleportress of Alpha” — after all, I love Leigh Brackett.And H.W. McCauley wraps up the post!#SFWApro. All rights to images remain with current holders.

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Writing to sell (and a discount sale!)

No, not writing stories with an idea of what will sell sell, but things like cover copy, Amazon online blurbs, and ads. I put in a lot of work during the countdown to publishing Questionable Minds. I browsed Amazon ads when they pop up in my FB feed, and they pop up a lot. It was primarily to get a sense of how other authors push books online, though it’s also just part of my love for books in general. When I worked at Waldenbooks in the 1990s I’d read the back copy of lots of books just to see what they were like. “Men’s adventure” books, Sweet Valley High, Babysitters Club, serious literature. It’s one of the things I miss about bookselling — sure I could do it in a bookstore but I rarely have that much time.

The style in promotional copy has changed a lot. Author Gail Z. Martin (I know her from cons) says it’s due to Amazon allowing all kinds of searches so including really nitty gritty specifics about tropes and subcategories helps grab readers. Thus romances (I’ve no idea why I get so many — it’s hardly my first pick) break down into subcategories such as grumpy single dad, grumpy boss, grumpy neighbor, grumpy single-dad neighbor. Plus lists of tropes such as enemies-to-lovers, friends-to-lovers, bullies-to-lovers (that one makes me want to vomit), smoldering romance, sweet and gentle romance, frazzled single parents, etc.

So, here’s mine: ”

Enter a “steam-psi” Victorian world where newly discovered “mentalist” abilities are changing everything — and they’ve given Jack the Ripper a path to absolute power.

In Victorian England, 1888, some say Sir Simon Taggart is under the punishment of God.

In an England swirling with mentalist powers — levitation, mesmerism, human telegraphy — the baronet is unique, possessing mental shields that render him immune to any psychic assault. Even some of his friends think it’s a curse, cutting him off from the next step in human mental and spiritual evolution. To Simon, it’s a blessing.

Four years ago, the Guv’nor, the hidden ruler of the London underworld, arranged the murder of Simon’s wife Agnes. Obsessed with finding who hired the Guv’nor, Simon works alongside Inspector Hudnall and Miss Grey in Scotland Yard’s Mentalist Investigation Department. Immunity to telegraphy, clairvoyance and mesmerism are an asset in his work — but they may not be enough to crack the latest case.

A mysterious killer has begun butchering Whitechapel streetwalkers. With every killing, the man newspapers call “the Ripper” grows in mental power and in the brutality of his attacks. Is murder all that’s on his mind or does he have an endgame? What plans does the Guv’nor have for the Whitechapel killer? And if Simon has to choose between stopping the Ripper and unmasking the Guv’nor, how will he decide?

Questionable Minds is set in a Victorian England struggling to preserve the social hierarchy while mentalism threatens to overturn it. The cast of characters includes Dr. Henry Jekyll (and yes, his friend Edward Hyde too) and multiple other figures from history and fiction. It has a tormented, morally compromised protagonist, serial-killer villain, a devoted father-daughter relationship and a passionate but complicated love affair.

Trigger Warning: Multiple brutal murders. Nineteenth-century sexism and imperialism. A child in danger.”

I think it works. I hope I’m right. I’m also thinking of going back and redoing the copy for Atlas Shagged and Atoms for Peace and seeing if that can juice sales any. Can’t hurt! Questionable Minds is available in ebook on Amazon or other retailers. Or there’s the paperback.

And while I’m promoting myself, I’ll note that McFarland iscoffering 40% off all titles through November 28, including all my books such as The Aliens Are Here. Use HOLIDAY22 as the code at checkout!

#SFWApro. Covers by Samantha Collins (t) and Zakaria Nada.

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Let’s not have two years of wall-to-wall Trump coverage

To absolutely nobody’s surprise, Trump has announced he’s running again. Okay, apparently some people were surprised, turning out breathless articles about how Republican leaders wanted Trump to wait so as not to distract from the Georgia runoff. What about the big picture? What about the good of the party?

Yeah, right. The past six years have made it flamingly obvious that Trump cares nothing for the good of anyone but Donald J. Trump. If the price of not announcing, of not grabbing the spotlight, was a nuclear strike, his only concern would be to ensure he could make it to a fallout shelter.

Even before that, I was seeing one Trump story a day about how he said Governor Youngkin of Virginia had a “Chinese” name or insulted Mitch McConnell’s wife or had yet another freakout about how the election was stolen and the candidates he endorsed did awesome (they didn’t).

Enough. Sure, I realize we have to cover Trump if he does something significant like threatening reporters who cross him with anal rape (not at his hands, of course. He outsources his bullying). And cover his campaign. But we don’t need to cover every freakout, every lie, every accusation about fake media or how everyone who dares criticize him is engaged in a witch hunt, waaaah, why is the world so mean to widdle baby Donny? This stuff falls into a different category than Trump making a legal claim all those classified documents at Mar-a-Lago were his by right.

Simply making lying, racist claims shouldn’t be news. That Trump squeals every time he’s criticized isn’t news. It won’t become news now that he’s running again. Not covering all his campaign-launch speech is a good start. Save the coverage for when he does something or he’s charged with something, not just when he mouths off. Or do a weekly fact-check correcting whatever lies he’s said — that might be a good idea now that Facebook has declared Trump off-limits for fact-checking.

It’s even worse with Newt Gingrich. He hasn’t held elected office in two decades. He has no more power than any other pundit. He’s never had an intelligent opinion on anything and 90 percent of his opinions are lies, like his old claims atheists are imposing sharia on America. Yet just a couple of months ago Newsweek gave him space for a column (no, I’m not linking to it). Just let him go down to the dust from which he sprung, unwept, unhonored and unsung.

Trump will be the nominee. Despite some Republicans saying he’ll do more harm than good — hopefully they’re right — Ron DeSantis will not beat him even if DeSantis runs. The base still adores Trump and Republicans will fall in line for their own self interest. Plenty of Republicans denounced him as the wrong candidate in 2016 … until he became their candidate. Few of them stuck the course; it will be the same this time. That still doesn’t make his idiotic babble newsworthy. Certainly not two years before the election. It’s easy coverage to fill column inches in a print newspaper and time on a news broadcast — but still.

Not giving full coverage on his campaign speech is a good start. And  if your coverage is along the lines of “With just 720 days to go before the next election, a Florida retiree made the surprise announcement Tuesday night that he was running for president,” I’m all in.


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