Category Archives: Undead Sexist Cliches: The Book

Plushie the jailbird!

So a couple of weeks back when we laid down new rugs, we had to move a lot of furniture around. In the middle of all that, the Plush One jumped up on the back of one of the couches — we’d moved it away from the wall — and jumped to the floor. So perhaps it’s not surprising that last Saturday, his back started acting up again. As in, if we even brushed it, he flinched in pain.

We rushed him to the emergency vet (we have a couple in Durham) and got the anticipated recommendation of painkillers and cage rest.  Here you can see him resting inside the bars.That Sunday I spent a lot of time caged with him because he gets so miserable when cut off from us.Unfortunately Trixie doesn’t like that solution much. Here you can see me comforting her through the bars.Fortunately TYG, being Plushie’s adoring Mommy, opted to work downstairs, outside the cage, as much as she could. She also slept on the couch-bed all week so she’d be there if he whimpered in pain (knowing TYG, I wasn’t surprised). That freed me up from working inside the cage, which is really awkward. The downside was that with her sleeping down there, I had to rearrange my morning schedule so I didn’t wake her up by coming down to get tea. That made for another chaotic week — well, by my standards — but ultimately I was able to get my work done. Not counting blogging and email time as work helped — otherwise I might have been tempted to just give up and bat out some blog posts for a couple of hours.

Happily we took Plush in to our regular vet this morning. We still have to keep him from jumping up and down or climbing the stairs, but we can probably stop cage rest after tomorrow. He’ll be much happier if we put the cage up around the couch and let him snuggle with us

I didn’t have the focus to write much on Alien Visitors but I watched a number of movies for the book. I got my Leaf quota in, and another client finally worked out the kinks in their accounting system and paid up. I was beginning to worry they wouldn’t pay, so that was a welcome resolution to the story ($850 isn’t chicken feed to me). And I finished proofing Undead Sexist Cliches Chapter Seven, on sexual harassment.

It’s hard to believe I only have a week and a half left this month. I’d better keep making good use of my time.

#SFWApro.

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How did I miss this?

Back in 2018, novelist and nonfiction writer Daphne Merkin wrote in the New York Times about how #metoo and the fight against harassment are bad. Of course she’s not defending bad people like Matt Lauer or Harvey Weinstein, but in lots of other cases — Garrison Keillor, Al Franken — “the accusations are scattered, anonymous or, as far as the public knows, very vague and unspecific, has been troubling.”

The accusations against Franken and Keillor weren’t anonymous or vague (MPR detailed the Keillor allegations a couple of weeks later). It’s a large jump from Merkin not knowing the details or names to assuming this must have been a smear campaign (as Vox points out, Keillor and other alleged harassers got more due process than most fired employees). Merkin claims lots of women she knows suffer “social intimidation” — they don’t agree with some of the firings but they don’t want to face criticism for saying so publicly. Why, then, does Merkin find it strange that women accusing powerful men don’t want their names given to the public?

As proof this has “gone too far” she cites a couple of twentysomething feminists who wanted the Metropolitan Museum of Art to take down a painting of a tween girl that they deemed offensive. That’s a slight exaggeration: their petition said they’d be satisfied if the exhibit simply put the painting in context (the artist had a rep for an unhealthy interest in teen girls). I have no opinion on the debate but I do think Merkin’s distorting it.

I wrote about her piece in the harassment chapter of Undead Sexual Clichés but glancing over her op-ed this past week I saw a line I’d somehow missed before: “Stripping sex of eros isn’t the solution. Nor is calling out individual offenders, one by one. We need a broader and more thoroughgoing overhaul, one that begins with the way we bring up our sons and daughters.”

Merkin literally said she doesn’t think we should act against individual harassers (excepting, presumably, alpha predators like Weinstein and Lauer). Instead we have to wait until what, we have transformed society? Raised an entire generation that respects the other gender? And in the meantime women (and the occasional male victim) should just suck it up?

Don’t get me wrong, changing the culture is important, but in the short term we do need to punish individual offenders one by one. It reduces their chance to harass (assuming they’re not simply rehired). It sends a message that discourages other predators, which can change the culture. And because in many cases, it’s the just thing to do. Merkin’s approach is the equivalent of shrugging and muttering “thoughts and prayers” over the latest mass shooting. It’s appalling.

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Chaotic but productive. I can live with that.

Yesterday, our housecleaners made their monthly appearance, as usual amazing me with how good they are. I don’t think I realized one of my shower door was actually clear glass. But I knew they’d make it hard to focus, so I put in a full day of work Sunday instead. That proved wise, because I did indeed get little done yesterday.

I completed plenty of Leafs; other than that, my priority was Alien Visitors. I watched movies (including Earth Girls Are Easy), and got around to rough drafts of several chapters. Whatever’s been bogging me down in working on the book, I’ve finally broken out of the slump. I also read my UFO Abduction chapter to the group on Tuesday, and got some excellent feedback, as usual.

I wound up taking today off to get various stuff — paperwork, mostly — done, and watching more stuff for the book.

And … huh, that’s pretty much it. When things go smoothly, there’s not much stuff to say I guess.

My article on military suicide came out on Veterans Network. I believe this is it until the fall but that works out well — more time for Alien Visitors and finishing up Undead Sexist Cliches.

Wisp has been coming in for snuggles a little more frequently this week, which is nice. Oh, and we belled Wisp, at the request of our neighbor. It’s a breakaway collar, so it’s safe for her, I hope, and perhaps it will make it harder for her to snatch any birds from the neighbor’s feeder. Fingers crossed.

#SFWApro.

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If nothing else, at least I donated some blood this week

That was this morning. I came home and collapsed much more than I think I usually do. But then it’s been a heck of a week. By the way, how do you like my blood selfie?

I’d really expected a productive week. I didn’t get one. Okay, that’s not fair: I did finish editing Chapter Six of Undead Sexist Cliches and I got nine Leaf articles done. But nothing other than a couple of movies accomplished for Alien Visitors.

The trouble started Sunday night. Wisp came in because it was unusually chilly. She wound up sleeping next to me, but positioned herself where I really couldn’t move or shift comfortably (I was afraid I’d knock her to the floor). That always ruins sleep for me (it’s happened with Plushie a couple of times too) and I’m not sure Wisp would be okay with me moving her, so I wound up not getting enough sleep.

Monday night Wisp wasn’t in. Plushie, however, decided he needed to go out around 1:30 AM, which fell to me, so that didn’t go well. Tuesday night, Plushie tried moving me over because he wanted my spot in the bed. He isn’t big enough to make that happen, but it still makes it impossible to sleep. Wednesday Wisp came in, slept in a good spot, but woke me up around 3:30 AM for attention.

So I’ve been kind of sleep deprived this week. I concentrated on Leaf articles because they don’t require much creative thinking (and yes, they pay). Thursday, though I had sleep deprivation plus taking care of the dogs the entire day, and Wisp spending a lot of time indoors (as I don’t want any fights to erupt this requires paying a lot more attention to pets). So out of a day of work, maybe three hours of writing.

On the plus side, my decision not to count blogging and email as writing time paid off. Not that it made me more productive but the periods when I was doing nothing but reading email didn’t make me feel guilty (“This isn’t productive! I shouldn’t count this as writing time!'”).

It was a mess of a week but now it’s done. I got better sleep last night — not a huge amount but waking myself early always feels better than someone else waking me up. Fingers crossed for a better second week of June.

#SFWApro.

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Two against the flood-tide!

So Wednesday morning, I turned on the kitchen-sink tap to wash my hands, and the water was hot. Really hot. Scalding hot. Hotter than normal. A quick online search revealed that this was bad — either the thermostat on our hot water tank was broken or the valves were busted, forcing steam into the water. I called and made a plumbing appointment for Thursday morning, then shut off the breaker (they recommended it).

Thursday morning, no plumber. Turned out that like the previous plumber we tried, the office hadn’t informed the plumber about the appointment. Unlike the previous plumber, he got out there late afternoon, shut off the water, diagnosed the problem, and replaced the tank (it was 18 years old which for a hot-water tank is old). There was quite a bit of flooding before he shut the water down, but nothing that should be a serious problem (unlike for the Avengers).

I also went down to our dentist Tuesday morning and they were late too. Because they never are, I hadn’t brought a book, and didn’t feel like starting anything I had on my phone. Rather than wait an hour, I headed home. An annoying waste of time, but our dentist is good enough I’ll put up with it.

Despite those distractions, it was a productive week. I did my last Leaf and Veterans Network articles for the month, then plunged into a mix of viewing for Alien Visitors and rewriting Undead Sexist Cliches. I’d planned to do the writing on Alien Visitors but the various distractions made it harder to focus, and going over Undead Sexist Cliches was easier. I’ve now finished editing through Chapter Five.

I tried another new time-management trick this week. I spend the last 90 minutes of the day going through email and blogging, but those tasks often ooze into the writing part of the day. So I set myself a pure writing week of 27.5 hours, specifically excluding any email or blogging. That upped my efficiency some, I think. And I didn’t feel guilty about blogging time.

Oh, and my social life is getting back to normal. Last weekend, my writer’s group (and some associates) had a party at one member’s house. It felt sooooo good to see people in the flesh instead of just over Zoom. We’re still not able to meet in person, but my Shut Up and Write group (Monday nights) will do a mix of live-action and Zoom meetings — first live one’s Monday.

On that note, have a great weekend, y’all.

#SFWApro. Cover by Jack Kirby, rights to image remain with current holder.

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My One Simple Scheduling Trick is actually working pretty well

Not that my new system made my week go smooth, but no question it’s helping me get perspective on what I should be doing. Much as I want to work on Undead Sexist Cliches, I’ve used up the time for the month and need to do a lot of work on Alien Visitors. So that’s what I shall do next week.

This week? Well, this was entirely Leaf and Veterans Network stuff (my story on VA home loans came out this week). Money assignments, alas, always take priority. And unfortunately I was bogged down by all the chaos from last week. I wound up working a little Saturday and Sunday to get extra Leafs done; with TYG’s friend visiting, that wound up taking much more time than it should have. And working on the weekend left me wiped the rest of the week so everything took longer than it should have. Including my Atomic Junkshop post on how pandemic reality once again tops fiction. Seriously, would anyone write a story where we use a lottery and offers of free beer to convince people to vaccinate against a deadly disease? And if someone did, it would be a comedy.

Between TYG’s friend (he stayed through Tuesday), taking the dogs to the groomer and my checkup yesterday, my time was further constrained. I didn’t even get to give blood yet, which was (and is) one of my priorities once the vaccine took effect. Next week, for sure! It’s in the schedule now. I didn’t even exercise as much as usual. However the doctor says I’m doing really well: cholesterol not great (it rarely is) but compared to a year ago I’ve lost weight and my blood pressure’s down. I celebrated, as usual, by spending today scarfing everything (I’m health! My body can take it!). Back to normal tomorrow.

So that’s it. Not an exciting week, though for me a profitable one. And I did sell one copy of Atlas Shagged. I made 26 cents (it was the ebook) but I still appreciate whoever took a chance on me.

To wrap up with, here’s a cover by James Bama — only it’s not the cover that grabs my attention as that thuddingly literal title. Not that thuddingly literal can’t work (e.g., Snakes on a Plane, I Married a Monster From Outer Space), but “Tyrant and Slave-Girl on Planet Venus” really doesn’t sing.#SFWApro. All rights to images remain with current holders.

 

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I think I overdosed on freedom

So Tuesday my second vaccination took full effect. This is way cool: we made it through a pandemic without catching it and now we can resume something approaching normal life. After a year feeling as imperiled as Mr. Miracle —— it’s a real relief. I’m happy and grateful. Still, the need to do multiple things we’d been putting off did not make for a productive week. While my top goals for Freedom were to visit my comic book store and go out to eat, neither one actually happened — the Musts took priority.

Housekeepers came in Thursday. This was a “must” because we had a friend of TYG’s arriving for a mutual friend’s funeral today. The alternative to getting the cleaners in ASAP was to do it ourselves, which we weren’t looking forward to. And we wouldn’t have been as good either; anybody who thinks housecleaning isn’t skilled labor is kidding themselves. Of course them cleaning didn’t require much effort on my part, but it was distracting, especially dealing with the dogs, who freaked out.

Then we had the plumber coming in to snake the drains. We scheduled an appointment for Wednesday a week in advance. 9 AM rolled around, plumber didn’t show. Office said he’d be by 2 PM. Didn’t show. The plumber finally called, said he hadn’t been given any sort of appointment for us. I found an alternative plumber who showed up the next day and got the job done. Pricey, but satisfactory. However, it all chipped into work time. You know how it goes — it’s 8:45 AM, plumber’s going to be there, no point in starting anything …

Friday I had to take the car in for annual inspection, oil change and general maintenance. Not cheap either, but necessary. But again, distracting. In between all that, I went to the library, got a haircut (photos next week) and went shopping in a grocery store. That was a lot of fun — convenient or not, online ordering doesn’t do it for me. Hell, the store’s close enough that shopping IRL may be more convenient than all the typing and clicking. Plus it had some stuff TYG wanted that wasn’t available online. Plus cold stuff is still nice and cold when I get it home.

In the midst of all that I still got some work done. Partly because I wisely treated Sunday as a regular work day, which proved the right decision. Even so, I’ll need to do some Leaf articles over the weekend. My tax tips for veterans article came out. I finished redrafting Chapter Seven of Undead Sexist Cliches though I still have to rearrange all the footnotes. I rewrote the alien pregnancy chapter of Alien Visitors and got some good feedback from the writers group. And I posted about the early, less-remembered Adam Warlock series at Atomic Junkshop.

So a good, if hectic week.

#SFWApro. Cover by Jack Kirby, all rights remain to current holder.

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Oh, that’s why I don’t work much in the evenings any more

I tried last night because we’re dog-sitting for Lily and Tito this afternoon so I wanted to make up for the inevitable lost time. Here’s photos of the winsome twosome, in case you were wondering (Lily’s on top)It did not go well, though I did get my next Atomic Junk Shop post up. Plushie loses it and starts barking his head off about once every five minutes. Wisp comes in, begs for food, then goes out again. I could just go isolate myself in my office, but the trouble is I like hanging out with our pets. I don’t want to isolate myself. But if I try that again, I definitely will go that route.

That aside, work went well this week. I finished our taxes, discovering we owe in a little (bad!) but at least they’re done. I’ll check them over again to make certain I figured things right, but I doubt I’ll discover a major error that gets us a refund. Oh, well.

I finished editing Chapter Six of Undead Sexist Cliches and made a final read through of Chapter Four. The latter went slower than I wanted — I had more cleaning up than I expected. I got some Veterans Network articles written (here’s one on art therapy for trauma, and one on military trivia). I did a lot of viewing for Alien Visitors but not much writing. I must compensate for that next week.

My new approach of breaking down my day and assigning a set number of units to different projects went … okay, I guess. I seem to be running out of Undead Sexist Cliches units, but we’ll see how it goes the rest of the month.

This weekend I will probably work Sunday. That’s not typical, but I have a lot to do this week once I become fully vaccinated on Tuesday. Best to make up the time in advance. I’ll be back next Friday to report how it went.

#SFWApro.

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Undead Sexist of the Day: Warren Farrell

Lots of people have said something hideously sexist. Some people have built careers out of it. Case in point, Warren Farrell.

Back in the 1970s, Farrell was, I’ve read, an active male feminist. For whatever reason, that changed. He’s now a men’s rights activist, rape apologist and generally odious, at least to someone of my political bent. I first encountered his work in the 1990s, in The Myth of Male Power. Here he argues that husbands are way worse off than wives because men are often drones at the bottom of the hierarchy in their workplace; women, by contrast, are 100 percent in charge at home

Except they’re not. If the man earns the money, that gives him a greater say in decisions. Much more so than a wife can exercise over her husband’s career. And far from being an exalted position, being a stay-at-home wife/monther is damn hard work. The husband’s work day may stop when he gets home; Mom may be working (dinner, putting the kids to bed) long into the night.

And even if a man is top dog at work, in reality his sexy secretary controls him.

Farrell also claimed that as many as 100 percent of rape accusations could be false [corrected in response to comment]. Women lie, for example because, the guy dumped the woman and she wanted revenge. Um, no (see here for relevant discussion) And besides, lots of things are just as traumatic for men as rape is for women. Getting fired is equally traumatic (I’ve been fired. I’ve known women who were raped. Not. The. Same.). Getting cockteased is equally traumatic (wrong again).

It’s no surprise his more recent writing (which I encountered working on Undead Sexist Cliches) thinks that “date fraud” or “date rejection” — a couple go on a date when the woman’s already decided not to have sex is a)a Bad Thing and b)very traumatic.

He’s also argued that no means yes: if a woman says no to sex but she’s French kissing her date, isn’t that a sign she wants it? Maybe she’s hoping her date will just keep going and seduce her, like in romance novels. Because if chicks read romance novels, they must want the same in relationships, right (spoiler: no). Heck, according to Farrell, even if she sues a man for sexual harassment, what she really wants is for him to not give up, just like romance novel heroes!

Besides, it’s sex, so she has to be enjoying it, right? “A man being sued after a woman has more sex than intended is like Lay’s being sued after someone has more potato chips than intended. In brief, date rape can be a crime, a misunderstanding, or buyer’s remorse.” Pinning someone down and forcing them to eat potato chips would have a coercive quality to it — but that’s clearly not the simile Farrell’s going for here.

If Farrell was ever sincerely a feminist, he went way, way to the dark side.

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Undead Sexist Cliche: Statistics prove men are better at everything

One of the topics I tackle in the Undead Sexist Cliches book is statistics, and how they supposedly explain men getting the best jobs and the top positions in everything.

Male and female performance statistics overlap quite a lot. The average woman and man scored on pretty much any skill are going to be closer to each other than the best and worst man (or woman) are. When you graph the stats, however, the male bell curve spreads out much further than the female: the very best and the very worst are both men.

This, according to a number of articles I’ve read over the years, is why men rule, girls drool. Okay, not drool, but obviously if the very best in (for example), STEM fields are always men, it’s no surprise women don’t get the plum jobs. What woman in physics can match up with Einstein, Bohr, Oppenheimer? No discrimination at all, no sirree bob.

There are a number of problems with this argument. First off, the assumption that because the very best people in the field are men, therefore the men applying for a job must be better than the women. This does not follow: Einstein was a genius but that doesn’t mean every man who applies must be closer to Einstein than the female applicants are. Most people are going to fall into that big average bulge at the center of the Bell curve. That’s the nature of averages. And given that men occupy the bottom of the skill distribution too, wouldn’t it make just as much sense to assume that the average woman has a good chance to be better than the male applicants? Indeed, one study found women who apply for STEM jobs tend to be above average, possibly because only an exceptional woman thinks she has a shot.

About 15 years ago, Larry Summers made a speech on why women were underrepresented in STEM: in his opinion, they just weren’t as good. Several right-wing pundits, such as John Leo and Walter Williams, cheered him and insisted his argument should end any talk of sexism or bias affecting women’s chances. But that’s a load of codswallop. I’ve read lots of stories of women winning traditionally male jobs and the response is rarely “Wow, you must be way better than the average woman. I’m impressed to have you on my team!” It’s more likely “affirmative action” or “tokenism” or “who did she blow to get that job?” One bank back in Florida, for instance, discovered the president had promoted a woman he was having an affair with; they promptly demoted every woman he’d promoted.

And if all else fails, there’s the old “Why is that bitch taking a man’s job?”

So no, statistics do not prove we live in a post-sexism world.

 

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