Category Archives: Undead sexist cliches

Writing, censorship, reading and watching: assorted links

“The fear of having your show or movie deleted on an executive’s whim — a growing reality for many, including Katai — is compounded by the fact that in the post-DVD digital age, viewers may never be able to access the shows again. Showrunners might not even have physical copies of their own work. And that’s not the only downside for creators.”

I agree with Paul Campos: if reporter Maggie Haberman knew Trump refused to leave office before it happened but held back the information for her new book, that’s bad and probably unethical journalism.

The WaPo bends over backwards to show the new owner of Politico is politically deeper than bog-standard Trump dude (“Do we all want to get together for an hour in the morning on November 3 and pray that Donald Trump will again become President of the United States of America?”). Similarly the magazine Evie pretends that being anti-feminist is edgy rather than spouting Undead Sexist Cliches (“Evie has long stressed the notion that women should only engage in “feminine” exercise, discouraging lifting heavy weights, and written about why women shouldn’t, in its words, ‘work out like men.'”).

“Censorship is the desperate rear-guard action of a movement that has already lost the fight for hearts and minds.” Which doesn’t mean it can’t do a lot of damage, as noted at the link.

A high school newspaper published a Gay Pride issue so the administrators shuttered the journalism program.

An OAN host thinks Nazi book burnings are a role model for America.

I’ve often wondered about the number of urban fantasies that treat the Catholic Church as the thin holy line between us and the forces of darkness (and rarely cover the church’s documented dark side). An article on Catholics in horror films looks at how the same dynamic happens in horror films, and how the church in real life uses its standing to perpetuate abuse.

Marvel editor Tom Brevoort on watching creative people work when they’re supremely gifted.

All rights to image remain with current holder.


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Suddenly abortion’s not about “states’ rights”

Much like classic defenses of slavery and Jim Crow, talking about “state’s rights” in abortion debates is a way right-wingers can duck saying what they actually want. Except Lindsey Graham has now called for a national 15-week ban, which the bill’s disingenuous title describes as late-term abortions.

No surprise, at least not to me. The forced-birth movement has never made any secret that what they want is an end to abortion, not merely to return the issue to state government. But given how much pushback the Dobbs decision has already generated, Republicans are not happy Graham has played this card pre-election. Shakezula agrees it’s a lousy political move although some political pundits are struggling to explain how it’s a win for Republican strategy. As witness it’s inspiring more young women to vote.

So no surprise either that Repubs continue lying about what they want. Marjorie Taylor Greene, for instance, insists the right to abortion (and gay marriage) are perfectly safe. As Alexandri Petri snarks, they’d like you to believe they don’t support Graham’s anti-abortion position (“We just want to ban abortion first in one state, then another, then another, and we want to do that 50 times in total — until all the states have banned abortion! “)

Yesli Vega, a Repub candidate in Virginia, recycles another old lie, that rape won’t get you pregnant: “it wouldn’t surprise me, because it’s not something that’s happening organically. Right? You’re forcing it.” This is both wrong and irrelevant: if Vega opposes abortion rights for rape victims, it wouldn’t matter if it’s only one or two people who lose their rights (I’m sure she doesn’t think aborting only a couple of babies is acceptable). She’s factually wrong about rape and pregnancy, but I imagine the point is the same as with the late, unlamented Todd Akin — if rape doesn’t produce pregnancy, women who say they were raped are just lying sluts so obviously no abortions for them!

Meanwhile the Family Research Council lies that abortion is never life-saving. They then whine at being called out for lying — and yes it’s a lie.

Fellow Virginia Republican Jennifer Kiggans grumbles that Dems “are trying to make that the issue to deflect, right, from all of the issues that voters really care about. They’re trying to distract with these shiny objects like the abortion issue.” How dare women inconvenience Kiggans’ political career by caring about their lives?

As for the idea touted by some right-to-lifers that red states will up their support for mothers and children, well, no.

And finally, Baptist News looks at the convoluted interaction of abortion and original sin. And here’s a profile of one activist who helped make abortion an issue.

I go into forced-birth bullshit in more detail 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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Linkpost covering abortion, kids and schools

Good news: The Biden Administration has issued rule saying the VA will provide abortions and abortion counseling to veterans in cases involving rape, incest, life or health of the mother, even in forced-birth states.

In 2021, because of increased government assistance, food insecurity for families with children dropped to its lowest rate in two decades. As NC State professor Sarah Bowen says, “This shows that food insecurity is a solvable problem. We have the power to fix it.”

“Concerns about the economy start and usually end with concrete, personal concerns: Do I have enough money now? Will I have enough money later? And you know what blows a big hole in the personal economy? Pregnancy.” Which is why telling voters to prioritize the economy over abortion may not be a winning Repub strategy in November.

Similarly, “New research shows that the states banning abortion could see up to hundreds of thousands of new births each year, most of them unplanned, and concentrated among lower-income families already facing the greatest financial and health care challenges.

The Dobbs decision will not get courts out of evaluating abortion.

“Our culture loudly but also stealthily, promotes abortion. Telling women they should look a certain way, have careers, all these things.” — Minnesota Republican Matt Birk, who thinks pro-choice advocates play “the rape card” too much.

Utah Republican Dave Alvord thinks “the umbilical cord and the placenta do not directly connect to the woman” which proves pregnancy isn’t about the mother. He is obviously not an ob/gyn and obviously did not stay at a Holiday Inn last night either.

How to interview and report on pro-life politicians.

The effect of Dobbs on IV and embryos.

Should we be concerned that misogynist Peter Thiel is backing a period-tracking “femtech” company?

A Satanist responded to after-school Bible clubs by forming an After School Satanist Club. Christian theocrat Dalton Clodfelter thinks he should be locked up for terrorism along with anyone else who teaches children a “false religon” (presumably everyone who’s not Clodfelter’s brand of Christianity).

Broward County’s school board instituted a program to end the school-to-prison pipeline. Ron DeFascist removed the official responsible on the grounds the program caused the Parkland shooting.

NYC’s Hasidic Jewish schools are mostly crappy at secular education — but they get millions in state funding anyway.

Jeez, in Israel anyone who’s romantically involved with West Bank Palestinians has to register the relationship with the government.

Dennis Prager, who think a wife refusing to have sex with her husband is like a man refusing to do the job he’s paid for, also thinks women are too emotional (not a direct link) and don’t have traditional religious values any more. He’s not even an original misogynist.

Alex Jones is very upset he’s still criticized over Sandy Hook denialism.

As always, you can find more on this topic in Undead Sexist Cliches, available as a Amazon paperback, an ebook and from several other retailers. It came out pre-Dobbs, but it’s still timely.

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The ongoing war against reproductive rights and women

As you may have heard, Kansas voters reasserted the state constitution protects the right to abortion. In Michigan, pro-choice supporters collected more than a million signatures to place a constitutional amendment on the ballot in the fall; Republicans on the relevant approval board rejected it because the spacing between words was inconsistent. It’s now up to a judge whether it gets on the fall ballot. No surprise that people who want to assert their dominance over women don’t think women (or anyone) should have a say in refusing.

Abortion restrictions are unpopular so like Blake Masters, many Republican candidates are simply lying about their opposition to abortion. Rep. Michelle Steel in California, for instance, has backed off a no-exemption stance and insists that a nationwide ban is hypothetical so why discuss it? Of course the only reason it’s hypothetical is that Republicans haven’t been able to pass one — yet.

Governor Greg Abbott claimed Texas’ new forced birth law and it’s lack of a rape exemption wasn’t a problem for rape victims because he would see Texas eliminate rape. The arrest rate for rape has dropped by half since he took office but not to worry, rape victims can just take emergency contraception! I’m curious if he sticks to his claim it’s not an abortifacent — after all, despite winning several million in a personal disability lawsuit, he’s fought to immunize Texas from disability lawsuits. And while he says mass shootings are a mental health problem rather than a gun problem, he’s slashed mental health services to spend more fighting illegal immigration.

A number of forced birthers promised that with abortion banned, we’d see a golden age of right-wing legislation to make life easier for mothers, rape victims, children. etc. They lied.  “Sixty-two percent of pregnancies in Mississippi are unplanned, yet Mississippi does not require insurance to cover contraceptives and prohibits educators from demonstrating proper contraceptive use.” Because the only contraception many right-wingers believe in is women refusing sex (unless they’re married, because then they have no choice). However Mississippi was fine taking welfare money and paying Bret Favre to give speeches.

The difficulty of providing abortion training in abortion-ban states may mean some areas lose ob/gyn services.

Even before Dobbs, women, particularly women of color, were often prosecuted for miscarriage because they’d used drugs, whether or not there was a clear connection with the loss of the fetus.

I’ll close with a quote from evangelical writer Norman Geisler (via Slacktivist) that “Birth is not morally necessitated without consent. No woman should be forced to carry a child if she did not consent to intercourse. A violent intrusion into a woman’s womb does not bring with it a moral birthright for the embryo. The mother has a right to refuse that her body be used as an object of sexual intrusion. The violation of her honor and personhood was enough evil without compounding her plight by forcing an unwanted child on her besides. … the right of the potential life (the embryo) is overshadowed by the right of the actual life of the mother. The rights to life, health, and self-determination — i.e., the rights to personhood — of the fully human mother take precedence over that of the potentially human embryo.”

As always, you can find more on this topic in Undead Sexist Cliches, available as a Amazon paperback, an ebook and from several other retailers. It came out pre-Dobbs, but it’s still timely.

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The yearning for toxic military masculinity

As I mentioned last Thursday, Donald Trump Jr. has a er, unique defense of Daddy possibly swiping documents with nuclear-weapons information: “By the way, for the record, I’d say that if Donald Trump actually still had the nuclear codes, it’d probably be good …Our enemies might actually be like, ‘ok, maybe let’s not mess with them,’ unlike when they look at Joe Biden and they say, ‘you know what, we should attack now.’”

This, of course, plays into the classic Republican pretense that they’re strong manly men who will keep this country safe where Dems are the “Mommy Party” that wants nurture and care for people — i.e., girls. It also plays into a delusion I’ve seen multiple times over the years, that the United States just comes off too soft. Pundit Thomas Friedman, for example, once argued that to negotiate with Iran, Obama needed to be more like Dick Cheney — a crazy mo-fo who might blow the shit out of Iran if they pissed him off (“you want Tony Soprano by your side, not Big Bird”).

Let’s have a history check, shall we? The United States in the last century overthrew the governments of Iran, El Salvador, Chile, Panama and Guatemala, none of which had attacked us — we just didn’t like who they elected. We supported death squads in El Salvador and genocide in Guatemala. We broke Vietnam into two nations so we could keep South Vietnam as our puppet state. In this century we invaded Iraq and broke it into pieces on the grounds of Saddam’s non-existent WMDS. We’ve tortured people for supposed terrorism and locked several hundred innocent people up in Gitmo without trial.

I honestly don’t think anyone outside the US imagines us as a soft teddy bear who’s easy to push around, regardless of who sits in the Oval Office.

I think Junior’s remarks also tie in with the broader right-wing obsession with manliness, machismo and toughness. The thought of being weak or not tough enough terrifies them; that, in turn, has led them to redefine masculinity to include lots of bullying and dominance — in short, the kind of behavior rational people classify as toxic. Madison Cawthorne, for example, says “If you are raising a young man, please raise them to be a monster.”

Similarly, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene says the military’s “woke culture” is destroying toxic masculinity: “I would think toxic masculinity would be a number one requirement.” Sen. Ted Cruz’ response to one Army recruiting ad was that spotlighting a woman soldier raised by two lesbian parents was a sign the military were becoming “pansies … Perhaps a woke, emasculated military is not the best idea” as it clearly can’t compete with the brutes Putin might throw at us.

Part of this, I’m sure, is that a military open to women, gays and POC doesn’t fit well with a Republican Party that embraces straight, white, male domination. But it’s also about the conviction real men are violent brutes. In the words of Jesse Kelly at The Federalist (no, I’m not linking to their bullshit), “part of men was made for violence and their instincts draw them to it. We cannot suppress human nature.” A man who doesn’t fit a macho, alpha-male mode isn’t a real man. And if our military isn’t composed of Real Men, how can anyone respect them, let alone fear them?

You can read more on this brand of misogyny 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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Abortion and other misogyny issues

New Orleans officials say they won’t investigate abortion cases. AG Jeff Landry is pushing to deny them flood-mitigation funds as a punishment.

The parents of the second and third place winners in a Utah girls’ athletics competition have demanded the state investigate whether the winner was trans. Which is what pundit Monica Hesse predicted.

Andrew Yang’s new Forward Party has a position on abortion that’s …. forward.

“It’s hard knowing that I’m carrying it to bury it.” — one Louisiana woman on not being able to abort a fetus that can’t survive.

“There’s an agency called Gladney, which is based in Fort Worth. There’s a flat fee to adopt through Gladney. It’s $55,000 to adopt an infant.” — from a Mother Jones article about how adoption pre-Roe was big business, and how state abortion bans will make it profitable again.

“When asked by Fox 2 Detroit anchor Roop Raj whether she’d support a 14-year-old rape victim getting an abortion, nominee Tudor Dixon said had spent time talking with the children of rape victim and believes their birth provides a sense of “healing.” “The bond that those two people made and the fact that out of that tragedy there was healing through that baby, it’s something that we don’t think about,” she said in the interview.” Hmm, could it be we don’t think about it because it’s brutal and cruel.

Small wonder increasing number of woman are opting for tubal ligation.

“White men are passed over for any kind of promotion or even for being hired in the job place,” according to Marjorie Taylor Greene which is why they watch porn and engage in shootings. Unsurprisingly feminism, in her worldview, is part of the oppression. Oh, in case you were wondering, she’s lying about the lousy career prospects for men.

Feminist Women Aren’t Real Women is an old Undead Sexist Cliche, so I’m not surprised by Ted Cruz speculating Elizabeth Warren could be a man. Perhaps Cruz is bugged knowing she’s a woman and she’s tougher than he is.

“in Wisconsin, a woman bled for more than 10 days from an incomplete miscarriage after emergency room staff would not remove the fetal tissue amid a confusing legal landscape that has roiled obstetric care.” — more fallout from the Dobbs decision.

The Justice Department is probing the Southern Baptists’ failure to report abuse.

On the plus side, as schools and conservative parents push to keep kids ignorant about sex, teenage girls are educating themselves. They shouldn’t have to, but I’m impressed.

You can get more on these topics in Undead Sexist Cliches, available as a Amazon paperback, an ebook and from several other retailers. Cover by Kemp Ward.

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Undead Sexist Cliche: Sexual Consent Is a Bad Standard

Determining whether a specific incident meets the legal definition of rape can be complicated. The concept of rape, however, is quite simple: unless all parties consent to sex, it’s rape.

If someone says no to sex either verbally or physically (e.g., pushing someone off, backing away), there’s no consent. If someone says yes at first, then says no, there’s no consent. If someone doesn’t say no because they’re too drunk or otherwise incapacitated to make the call, there’s no consent. The lack of a verbal no isn’t the same as consent; not fighting back, or not fighting “enough,” isn’t a sign of consent either.

That doesn’t mean consent is the only standard. A teacher sleeping with their fourteen-year-old student is committing statutory rape even if the student freely consents. Someone cheating on their partner is in the wrong even if they and the person they have sex with both consent. Manipulating or pressuring someone into consent (“You say you love me. Prove it.”) isn’t acceptable. But consent always matters — except not to a large part of the right wing, particularly the religious right.

It doesn’t matter before marriage because all that matters is that women aren’t supposed to have sex. Misogynist Matt Walsh, for instance, says if a woman feels traumatized after date rape, it’s “not because you were raped but because you allowed yourself to be degraded for the sake of cheap and fleeting pleasure.” After marriage, according to Phyllis Schlafly and multiple other conservatives, it isn’t rape: “By getting married the woman has consented to sex, and I don’t think you can call it rape.”

Of course, every straight male conservative understands the importance of consent if they walk into a gay bar. But when men want to have sex with women? Forget about it! Consent doesn’t matter, only “are you married?” matters.

“You can do anything, the left will promote and understand and tolerate anything, so long as there is one element,” Rush Limbaugh said in 2016. “Do you know what it is? Consent. If there is consent on both or all three or all four, however many are involved in the sex act, it’s perfectly fine. Whatever it is. But if the left ever senses and smells that there’s no consent in part of the equation then here come the rape police.” Well,  yes. If there’s no consent, then it’s rape. Calling the police is the appropriate response, though a lot of police won’t give a crap.

Antifeminist Jordan Peterson dismisses the feminist concern for consent as a taboo, equivalent to conservative taboos against premarital sex. That’s a telling choice of words: “taboo” implies an irrational, arbitrary standard with no real logic behind it. Requiring consent before sex isn’t irrational, it’s extremely logical.

Pennsylvania Republican Tom Smith said in 2012 that learning your daughter is pregnant and unmarried is just the same as learning she’s been raped; she’s damaged goods, whether she consented doesn’t matter (that’s my interpretation, not his statement). That’s a common message in abstinence only education where girls learn premarital sex makes them worthless as used chewing gum. Consent isn’t discussed so even rape victims think they’re used chewing gum. Of course, the rules are supposed to apply but as Christian feminist Samantha Field says, guys aren’t really expected to deliver their snowy white virginity as a wedding night gift to their bride.

Field says conservative Christians don’t value consent because they assume fallen human beings have no sexual morals. If we don’t confine our lustful natures within marriage we’ll jump into bed with anyone, anytime, anywhere. Conservative David French makes a similar point: if consent is all that matters, why shouldn’t men hit on all attractive women everywhere, even in Bible study or a business conference? She might say yes, so there’s nothing wrong with asking (which ignores, as I said, that consent isn’t the only standard in play).

Walsh and others insist that’s why “no sex until marriage” is the superior standard — it avoids all the complications of figuring out whether someone consent or not, and it’s unambiguous: every man knows that trying to talk an unmarried woman into bed is wrong.

This is a bullshit argument: even if we start from the premise “sex before marriage is a sin,” it doesn’t follow “therefore it’s acceptable for a man to force a woman to have sex.” Nor does “marital sex is godly” mean marital rape is washed in the blood of the lamb and morally acceptable. Nor does believing, or at least giving lip service to “sex only after marriage” really protect women. It’s never been a standard universally embraced or enforced; lots of men have been told no means yes or that suing for sexual harassment means she’s into you.

And of course, a lot of people dislike consent standards because they make it harder to get laid. If you have to worry about whether the woman wants it or respect her no, that means less sex! Limbaugh, that late and unlamented misogynist was very big on “no means yes” and how guys can always tell (spoiler: no, they often can’t). If you weigh rape trauma on one side of the scales and a man’s orgasm on the other, for a depressing number of people the scales should tilt in the man’s favor.

Consent matters. Be wary of people who don’t think it does.

You can find much more on this topic in Undead Sexist Cliches, available as a Amazon paperback, an ebook and from several other retailers.


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Let’s start with some good political news

“We thought everybody had already been divided into voters and vessels. The voters got to pass restrictions, and the vessels got to sit there and smile! ” — Alexandra Petri on the pro-choice win in Kansas. It’s also amusing to see Republicans insist it means nothing. And Aaron Coleman, abusive teenage Kansas State Rep. (Democrat, I’m sorry to say) came in last in his re-election primary. That I’m happy to say.

One of the Jan. 6 seditionists is getting seven years in prison.

An ad by a pro-choice group really socks it to Texas governor Greg Abbott.

Donald Trump has a long history of threatening and filing lawsuits to get his way. I don’t think his CNN Is Mean To Me lawsuit will be successful.

Alex Jones knows his Sandy Hook trial is not going well so he’s resorted to ranting about how his judge is demonically possessed. And while he’s trying various tactics — bankruptcy to avoid paying damages, paying money to a company his family owns — it sounds like the plaintiffs’ attorneys are pushing back hard. I hope they leave him living under a bridge. But even then he’ll probably still have fluffers in the media. And the “shooting was a false flag” argument lives on.

Now for some not-so-good Republican political insights:

West Virginia’s Chris Pritt thinks forcing dads to pay child support will lead to them pressuring women to get abortions, so it’s bad.

Biden went back to work after covid much faster than Trump. Sean Hannity says that’s not because Biden was vaccinated, it’s because the strain he caught was puny compared to TFG.

Illinois gubernatorial nominee Darren Bailey says the Holocaust was nowhere near as bad as American abortion.

Sen. Tommy Tuberville objects to the new PACT act because among other reasons, the VA would be giving veterans prostate cancer care.

Arizona Republicans are stealing pens from election sites in the belief they’re designed to change your vote.

Republicans are banning books. Democrats are holding hearings on book bans. So clearly both sides are exploiting the issue.

The continued right-wing claim that despite Jan. 6 and Charlottesville, it’s the left that’s violent.

Florida’s Governor DeFascist is all about parental rights, unless parents let little kids go to drag shows. He will not, however, condemn ne0-Nazis — after all, they’re supporting him!

I may have mentioned this before, but some Republicans oppose a school lunch-funding bill because it won’t let schools deny trans or gay kids lunch. Twenty Republican-led states are suing over the rule.

Alleged sex-trafficker Matt Gaetz is one of 20 House Republicans voting against an anti-human trafficking bill.


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Interracial marriage is bad, 25 percent of Republicans say

Sure, Loving v. Virginia is 50 years old but plenty of people still hate black/white marriages (and other “race mixing”). One-quarter of Republicans opposing mixed marriage doesn’t surprise me. Like abortion, contraception and gay marriage, it’s the kind of personal decision right-wingers don’t think people should be able to make — and the logic behind the Dobbs decision could easily extend that way.

It’s also not surprising that the CPAC right-wing conference had no problems with Hungarian strongman Viktor Orban condemning mixing the races in a recent speech. They’re not disinviting him to speak; I suspect it’s one more reason for them to love him.

Meanwhile the Supreme Court’s ruling about the high school coach who led his team in prayer has unsurprisingly encouraged other Christian conservatives to impose more prayer. For all the whining about how prayer has been pushed out of the schools, it hasn’t; federal law solidly protects the right of children to pray. And  curiously, the same conservatives who complain that even talking about “gay” in schools takes away parents rights are fine with ignoring parents who don’t want organized, coercive school prayers.

Even before Don’t Say Gay, the religious right claimed comprehensive sex ed grooms children. You can make a better case for abstinence only sex ed grooming kids because it ignores consent. As Elizabeth Smart said at the link, her classes taught her having sex made her worthless, so after her rape/kidnapping what was the point in escaping? She was damaged goods. The right wing preaches the issue with date rape isn’t coercive sex, it’s that the slut had sex. Nothing makes kids (or adults) more vulnerable to consent than teaching that consent is irrelevant.

And while the forced-birth movement insisted for years that they would never punish women for getting abortions, now that they’ve gotten Roe overturned, criminal penalties for women is looking good. North Carolina Republicans want the death penalty for women who get abortions. Oh, and remember how post-Dobbs the right wing insisted there was no risk to contraceptive rights? About that … Matt Gaetz tries putting lipstick on the pig by explaining he votes against the right to contraception because he’s so very pro-birth control. As Jennifer Rubin says, they aren’t pro-women and they aren’t pro-life. As witness one woman says after her Texas miscarriage it took two weeks to find a doctor who’d remove it.

Irin Carmon sums it up: everything the left predicted would come to pass if Roe fell has happened, and things we didn’t anticipate.

To put that in perspective, the right-wing predicted a string of nightmare scenarios if gay marriage became law (they still do). Straight marriage would collapse. Anti-gay preachers would be silenced! The Boy Scouts will have to shut down rather than admit gay scoutmasters (given subsequent scandals, that one really hasn’t aged well). None of that happened. Our prophets are better than theirs.

So are our historians. Northier Than Thou looks at a gun-lover who cites the US interning Japanese-American citizens as proof we need guns to defend ourselves against government. As the post points out, if Japanese Americans had fought back, or even showed their neighbors they were armed and ready for trouble, they’d be dead. Ditto civil rights activists, gays fighting for their rights, women marching for equal rights, etc. Heck, South Carolina prosecutor Culver Kidd has specifically claimed women can’t claim stand your ground if they kill an abusive partner in self-defense.

“In many of these instances,” the post goes on, “gun owners were actively involved in the very repression suffered by those in question. Since the founding of the country, gun violence has played a far greater role in the repression of civil rights than it has in protecting them. There are exceptions to be sure, but this narrative is not built on the exceptions. It is built on a fantasy that skips any active consideration of how these things actually work.”

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The female hero’s journey, the hot mess and martyrdom.

A post by screenwriter Tony Binns on FB (I thought I’d linked to it before, but I can’t find it) argues the female hero’s journey is different from the male: “The Heroes journey fantasy for men is always starting at the bottom and coming into your own, so you are the complete bad ass at the end. The heroes journey fantasy for women is to be acknowledged for the power they already possess.” Luke Skywalker rises from farmboy to Jedi, for example; Peggy Carter is tough from the beginning but she has to constantly push against men who refuse to see it.

I think there’s some truth to that, but only some. Although Brinn brings up Wonder Woman, for example, as someone fitting this template, in the comics she’s accepted as a hero almost from the start. CL Moore’s Jirel of Joiry is likewise tough and deadly from her first story, Black God’s Kiss and nobody ever thinks being a woman means she’s soft (that cover by Margaret Brundage does not do Jirel justice).

Then again, we have characters such as Batwoman or Pat Savage who get sidelined even though they’re shown to be perfectly competent. While they weren’t written with women readers in mind, I suspect plenty of women could identify with that.

But this version of the hero’s journey isn’t unique to women. The Get Smart! reboot movie, for example, is about Maxwell Smart proving he already has the skills to make it as a field agent, instead of being stuck behind a desk. The Seven Year Itch is one of several rom-coms where the protagonist’s character arc is being recognized as someone special: his wife may think he’s a henpecked nonentity but look, Marilyn Monroe is into him!

Then there’s the hot mess trope where the woman is awesome and recognized as such, but it’s undercut because she’s a screw-up in her personal life. For example, I can think of several female characters who are competent and formidable but oops, they make really bad choices in men (Black Canary in the early Birds of Prey stories, for example). I can’t think of many male characters like that: at worst it’s a matter of having made a bad choice of partner at the start of the story and finding a better one by the finish (as happens to the protagonist of Armageddon Rag).

Which Gail Z. Martin said on FB is typical of men in fiction: they can be screwups or failures and get redemption arcs while women get martyrdom arcs. A bad man or a screwup proves himself over the course of a movie: he redeems his past failures and gets a happy ending. Case in point, Clint Eastwood’s character in The Gauntlet is assigned to bodyguard a witness because his corrupt boss knows Eastwood’s a screw-up guaranteed to blow the job. Nope, Eastwood wins and gets his HEA. By contrast, a woman screw-up can only redeem herself by dying or some comparable level of self-sacrifice. Or, in the hot mess case, stay screwed up.

Like Binns, I don’t think this is a universal rule. Jennifer Connolly in Labyrinth, for example, redeems her original failure for letting the Goblin King take her brother. Angelina Jolie’s Russian mole does so in Salt. But I think there’s some truth to it.

In rom-coms the equivalent is the woman who screws up by prioritizing her career instead of her love life; to get her HEA she has to let her career die. I can’t think of a story offhand where the man’s career has to suffer. In My Best Friend’s Wedding, Cameron Diaz proves she deserves the leading man more than Julia Roberts because Diaz has postponed college and her honeymoon so her husband doesn’t have to interrupt his career.

As Gail notes in her post, this is analogous to real-world attitudes where sexual harassment a few years in your past should never affect your career.

#SFWApro. Armageddon Rag cover by David Swenson, all rights to images remain with current holders.

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