sqbr: Expressing my femininity with an axe (femininity)
Tuesday, February 5th, 2013 04:49 pm
(First post)

I've been dipping in and out for ages so decided to just sit down, put on some music, and finish the damn thing. And then the last quarter turned out to be references and notes so the task wasn't as hard as I thought it would be :D

Some notes on the last third or so:

If there is a physical brain difference, it is that small brains (which tend to be female) are wired differently than large brains (which tend to be male), probably for practical reasons of space. And while DNA determines some things, your brain (and hormones/mental capacity etc) changes dramatically based on the way your life plays out. So even if there was a proven difference between male and female brains, it wouldn't prove nature over nurture.

But as it turns out, such proof does not exist. There are very small studies that show a difference, but what that difference is varies from study to study (though it regardless always "proves" that men are thinkers and women feel-ers) A quote:

"Using standard statistical procedures, they found significant brain activity in one small region of the dead fish's brain while it performed the empathising task, compared with brain activity during "rest"."


Huge difference in behaviour towards children of different genders from parents even ones who think they are showing no difference. Kids will prefer things based on how they are coded not what they actually do eg classifying a spiky tea set as for boys and a ribbon bedecked truck as for girls. Implicit attitudes like body language affect children's learned attitudes much more than adult's stated opinions. If you subconsciously hate black people chances are so will your kids.

And of course even the most "egalitarian" parent may pause at buying their son a barbie.

Children police each other pretty harshly, and are very susceptible to in-group stereotyping and bias eg if you randomly divide them into blue and red then say "good morning blues and reds!" and make them line up by colour etc for a few days they will start to identify as a "red", want to play with other reds etc.

All of this adds up to me pondering sending a complaint to Cottees about their Boys vs Girls campaign.
sqbr: Expressing my femininity with an axe (femininity)
Tuesday, February 5th, 2013 02:03 pm
I've been slowly working through this book, it's fairly light but still a bit dense for my foggy hard-science-oriented brain.

Basically it's about demolishing gender essentialist pseudoscience.

The first part is a whole bunch of examples of how amazingly easy it is to affect people's decisions and abilities by "priming" them with stereotypes, either by putting stereotypes into their heads or just by reminding them of the stereotypes they've already been exposed to. Just putting a gender tickbox at the start of a maths test lowers women's scores, since they go "That's right, I am a woman. Women are bad at maths." (And thinking "I AM NOT BAD AT MATHS DAMMIT" still takes up valuable mental energy that could be spent calculating) And of course there's all the examples of exactly the same resume being judged differently depending on the gender/race etc associated with the name attached. People THINK they're being objective but really aren't, and will come up with complicated justifications for why their choice is logical, eg if you swap the "male" and "female" names on a pair of different resumes suddenly the traits that were unsuitable for the job when they belonged to a woman make a man the perfect choice.

She also demolishes some of the specific claims of Bad Gender Science, like "girl babies look longer at faces therefore women are naturally more intuitive therefore men are better at hard sciences" and so on (and of course as gender roles change the arguments have to twist themselves into stuff like "Women are attracted to forensic pathology and microbial biology because they...like faces and people")

Overall I'm finding it really informative but I am annoyed by how it assumes the reader is a cis het woman living in Australia/the US etc who is probably going to get married and have babies. She does acknowledge trans people, intersex people, same sex relationships, people from other cultures etc but mainly for what they can teach us about heterosexual cis etc people rather than as examples of everyday people who have to deal with gender stereotypes themselves. And, ok, most of her arguments are statistical and so the "average" woman is what matters, but she could still do better on being inclusive and intersectional. She does mention assumptions about race every now and then, but not in a very meaty way.

I'm onto part two now and she seems to be implying that there is some evidence for men and women (and male and female primates in general) being biologically hardwired differently in one particular way: men care about fitting into the male gender norms of the culture they've been brought up in whatever those norms happen to be and the same goes for women(*). The nice thing about this theory is that it says that specific gender roles are socially defined rather than innate, but that gender identities and divisions themselves are hardwired enough to debunk radfem etc dismissal of the trans experience.

(Second post)

(*)Non binary gendered people seem to be entirely off her radar, though being a small and poorly defined/understood group I guess it would be hard to come to many useful conclusions right now.
sqbr: (faith)
Sunday, September 16th, 2012 09:02 pm
I like romance novels. I like fantasy (more than non-speculative fiction, at least). But somehow the combination of the two is always GODAWFUL. Like, every single supernatural romance has the protagonist being a Special Angsty Snowflake. All other women are soft weak victims while she is tough and powerful, but also vulnerable. She tries dating nice guys but they can't handle her Power, she needs an even more powerful man, one who is SUPER manly and strong and arrogant and probably despises all other women as much as the narrative.

Blech. I find arrogance and misogyny super unattractive, even in my escapism. Not to mention giant men bulging with muscles.

"Bitten" by Kelley Armstrong came strongly recced, but I had a bad feeling from her being The Only Female Werewolf. Sure enough, they see all other women but her as only useful for meaningless sex and babies (there are no gay or asexual werewolves, natch) Eventually I had to check to see if she gets back together with her smug stalkery ex AND SHE DOES. Of course, he's the most obnoxious and unpleasant man in the story, he must be the romantic lead.

It's pretty well written and I like the main female character (for a start, she doesn't hate other women, woo!), but hits too many bad buttons for me. Maybe I'll skip to the end and see if I like the feel of it.

Then maybe I'll reread my Marjorie Liu. She actually has some VARIETY in her manly supernatural men. And then I will sigh and wish for f/f space opera romance.
sqbr: Expressing my femininity with an axe (femininity)
Friday, January 13th, 2012 12:43 pm
Yeah, nobody cares about this movie any more. I just watched it, so you get my thoughts anyway. In the end I'm glad I watched it but I didn't have a super good time doing so. I can see why some people love it and others hate it.

Overall: A cheesy, clunkily written, exploitative film with some cool visuals and action overlaying a moderately successful story of women making a small but determined effort to fight back together against degradation and oppression while being kickass. I felt that the degradation was laid on a bit thick, I can see the film being pretty triggery for a lot of people.

I thought that might be the thing that put me off but actually my main issue is that there's scenes that are clearly meant to be symbolic/metaphorical where 90% of the stuff that happens doesn't actually seem to be symbolic/metaphorical for anything, it's just there to look cool. Which made them feel empty and meaningless, even if they did look pretty.

I thought it got some gender things right and some others wrong, it could have been much better and much worse in that respect. It did pretty badly on race, though (POC and non-Western cultures are very much the background to the stories of pretty blonde white girls), and I didn't like the treatment of mental illness. (Or fat people with skin conditions, what is it with stuff set in asylums…)

Also: There were no positive portrayals of romance or sex, except as ways of asserting power. All positive relationships were platonic and between women. That was interesting.

I've seen Sucker Punch compared to Madoka Magica and I can definitely see the similarities, though I liked Madoka Magica more.

Cam didn't like it at all, he thought it was voyeuristic and shallow.

And now, spoilers!
spoilery thoughts )
sqbr: Expressing my femininity with an axe (femininity)
Saturday, December 31st, 2011 11:25 am
It's very good, and very readable too, I've had real trouble concentrating on non fiction (or anything much) for the last few years but found this fairly easy to get into.

Russ makes SOME attempt at intersectionality, but there are some glaring omissions. She's also almost entirely focussed on American/British English Literature, apart from one or two examples. But regardless I think the silencing techniques she talks about are pretty universal and this book would be useful to anyone thinking about how marginalised group voices are suppressed.

The cover contains a summary of her argument:
“She didn’t write it. But if it’s clear she did the deed… She wrote it, bit she shouldn’t have. (It’s political, sexual, masculine, feminist.) She wrote it, but look what she wrote about. (The bedroom, the kitchen, her family. Other women!) She wrote it, but she wrote only one of it. (“Jane Eyre. Poor dear. That’s all she ever…”) She wrote it, but she isn’t really an artist, and it isn’t really art. (It’s a thriller, a romance, a children’s book. It’s sci fi!) She wrote it, but she had help. (Robert Browning. Branwell Brontë. Her own “masculine side”.) She wrote it, but she’s an anomaly. (Woolf. With Leonard’s help…) She wrote it BUT…”

She wrote it BUT… )
sqbr: (bookdragon)
Friday, August 12th, 2011 09:39 am
You were right, that was awesome :D

I have Things To Do Today, so no actual review, and I can't tell how objectively good it is but where with the Theif I had a sinking feeling about a plot twist and was sad to be proven right with this book I was sitting there going "Could the plot really be that awesome? Noone ever writes that..." and was filled with glee when twists happened the way I'd hoped. Though overall I think her writing would benefit from not trying to so hard to have twists at all.

Now to get my hands on the next book...
Tags:
sqbr: (happy dragon)
Thursday, July 28th, 2011 02:33 pm
When this first arrived from the library I thought "Wait, Newberry Award Honor Book? Am I reading young adult fantasy? Crap.". But then it quickly grew on me. It flowed very nicely and I liked the characters and story (no female characters, but that made sense in context), and the Greece inspired worldbuilding was understated but effective. It felt like a real country, I can't think of any other fantasy I've read with a convincing Mediterranean climate(*). Also the protagonist Gen is quite dark and no big deal is made about it. But apart from the fact that I liked Gen more when I thought he was a teenager rather than an immature twenty something (EDIT: oh, ok, he is a teenager), there was one thing that I predicted early on and knew would retrospectively really annoy me if it happened, and it did.

Major spoilers )

(*)Though this did mean that I kept imagining the mountains they crossed as the Darling Ranges
sqbr: Expressing my femininity with an axe (femininity)
Friday, June 10th, 2011 02:33 pm
Cleaning out my "ready to post" folder, I wrote this ages ago but I can see it being useful to link to at some point.

I just saw Pretty Woman for the first time. MY GOD SO CREEPY. It's one long male power fantasy of having enough money to make a pretty, sweet natured lower class girl fall in love with you, and do and be whatever you want without once having to make a commitment or say "I love you" (seriously, never. Not even at the end). Because you see she's a sex worker, so her standards are so low that not being a complete douchebag all the time is more than she would ever expect! You don't need to show her respect or care about her feelings, as long as you give her enough gifts and say the odd nice thing from time to time she will be blissfully happy.
Read more... )
sqbr: (torchwood spoilers)
Friday, June 10th, 2011 09:40 am
I just inhaled all seven episodes of the period drama Downton Abbey, set in an English country estate in around 1913. One the one hand, it was very engaging and I got quite attached to the characters. On the other hand, the only way I got through it was by stopping every now and then to be irritated and work on this post, which is serious business enough to be posted here instead of [personal profile] alias_sqbr.

It's that irritatingly common form of modern period drama, which says "Yes, the olden days were unjust, but they had a sort of charming simplicity, and the way things were made better was with politeness and determination and not rocking the boat too hard, and anyone who complained too much was a selfish uppity thug or tragic monster".
Read more... )
sqbr: (bookdragon)
Friday, November 26th, 2010 02:38 pm
Enjoying Lost Girl made me decide to check out some paranormal romance-y books…which has reminded me why I like Lost Girl and don't tend to read paranormal romance.

Some vague spoilers but nothing significant.
Read more... )
sqbr: (atlantis)
Friday, September 24th, 2010 11:52 am
So, last week I played Mass Effect and loved it, modulo a few niggles (see these posts). I've been playing Mass Effect 2, and while in a lot of ways it's a better game it's gone for Darker and Edgier and has taken some of the problematic aspects of the old game and crossed the line into creepy badness. I'm still definitely going to finish it, but there's that element of "Why can't I quit you/how long until you upset me again" fear that is, for example, familiar to many fans of Supernatural.

Warning: contains sexual assault triggers (though very vague ones) and also spoilers (though the first section isn't spoilery, and the spoilery section is marked)

EDIT: I played it some more and the next few hours of gameplay were pretty much solid awesome. Stupid Bioware.
Read more... )
sqbr: I lay on the couch, suffering an out of spoons error (spoons)
Sunday, August 22nd, 2010 06:55 pm
Ug. *flails at life an it's crapness* (and it is being much crappier to other people than me)

Anyway. For complicated reasons I got very behind on The Hathor Legacy, and thus got a bunch of links at once (plus from other places).



Also, utterly random but: could this css trick be done on network pages? (I'm not even going to think about trying until I'm much more awake)
sqbr: (bookdragon)
Friday, August 20th, 2010 07:07 pm
So it says a lot about regency romances that when I got "The Duke of Shadows" by Meredith Duran from the library and saw that it was set in India I was going to take it back unread because there was no way it wouldn't be horribly painfully racist. (The last book of hers I read was set in Hong Kong and managed to have no non-white/POC characters at all apart from two very briefly mentioned servants, which was a step up from what I was expecting but still not exactly good)

But I got very bored today so gave it a go: and it's not! It's by far the least racist regency romance I've ever read and is better than some contemporary ones! The hero is OMG of mixed English/Indian descent. (And still an English lord, of course. But he identifies as Indian as much as he does English) He spends a lot of time muttering bitterly about how the English are a bunch of oppressive thugs who should get the hell out of India.

It's not perfect by any means, there's still a moderate amount of "Wow, India sure is exotic!" going on, but for example compare the odious "heroine discovers blonde blue eyed hero is muslim prince, thinks it's sexy as hell, he dresses up in traditional clothes so she can exotify him" scene in "Captives of the Night" by Loretta Chase to the heroine seeing the hero fitting into Indian society while they're hiding in a village from The Plot, her being a bit freaked out and saying "You're Indian then, not English," to which he replies "What nice convenient labels."

I'm making this post now because part of me is sure it's just going to disappoint me (I'm only 1/3 of the way through) and I wanted to enjoy the moment while it lasted. Because my lord I was getting sick of the constant creepy racism in regency romances, and this is probably as good as it's ever going to get. (Oh regency romances, why can't I quit you...)

EDIT: Have finished the book and I actually really liked it. Though partly for having just the sort of angst I like but doesn't appeal to everyone. One could justifiably accuse it of doing the "using momentous and painful events from the history of colonialised peoples as backdrop to white people's angsty romance" thing, it didn't feel overly appropriative to me, but I'm hardly the best judge.
sqbr: (torchwood spoilers)
Friday, August 13th, 2010 07:08 am
If you like watching slashy pretty men being jerks and are fine with the erasure, dismissal, objectification and mistreatment of anyone who isn't white, straight, male, upper middle class, English, and able bodied, then this is the show for you. Well, episodes 1 and 3 are, episode 2 is just bad all round (and amazingly racist).

I...found parts of it interesting and engaging, and the slashiness is of a particular type I quite enjoy, but on the whole it wasn't as clever as I would have liked and large sections made me very annoyed. Meta: Neoliberal Holmes, or, Everything I Know About Modern Life I Learned from Sherlock gives a very damning critique, but to follow up on the portrayal of Watson's disability in particular: it is NEVER MENTIONED AGAIN. At all. Not even vaguely alluded to.

And "That's the way it was dealt with in the books" doesn't make it ok, that just means it's not inaccurate as well as ableist. If they were doing a totally 100% literal adaptation which followed every minute detail exactly as it happened in the books I might forgive them and blame Arthur Conan Doyle, but they weren't by a long shot. They chose to keep that particular flaw of the books and must bear the responsibility for that choice.
sqbr: (happy dragon)
Thursday, July 29th, 2010 09:51 am
Saw Fanboys last night. It's not a good film, but enjoyable enough as a geek road movie (and it's not like that's a large enough genre that one can afford to be too picky) It was VERY much the story of a bunch of white straight dudes, though, the writers clearly had no idea what to do with their one female character and the homophobia was pretty intense. That said, I think I liked it as much as the geek guys I've discussed it with, since the main problem with the film is that apart from the odd quite funny scene it just isn't very good!

Anyway, it was thus nice this morning to read ‘CAUSE I’M NERDCORE LIKE THAT: Toward a Subversive Geek Identity which then led me to Riot Nrrd, a very cute webcomic about "being LGBT nerds, female nerds, nerds of color, disabled nerds, and other kinds of nerds that don’t get as much love" which is like a cross between "Dykes to watch out for" and geeky slice of life comics like "Weregeek"(*). It even has a transcript, huzzah!

There's geeky female characters in lots of webcomics, often but not always done fairly well, but I'm having trouble thinking of any I've really liked in mainstream-ish films or books. Any suggestions?

(*)Not that "Dykes to watch out for" doesn't have geeky aspects and geeky webcomics don't have any female/LGBT etc characters. But this is more concentrated.
sqbr: (torchwood spoilers)
Monday, July 19th, 2010 08:42 pm
I vaguely recall someone saying this was crap.

*get bored, stop watching, am thus stalled on Farscape for about a month*

*read blurb to remind myself*

Oh god that sounds like Avatar minus the moral and every other "white man is taken in by simple native people, local girl falls for him, thuggish native boyfriend objects" plot.

*start rewatching*

It is Avatar minus the moral.
Cut for spoilers and aaaargh )
sqbr: I lay on the couch, suffering an out of spoons error (spoons)
Thursday, April 22nd, 2010 09:35 pm
I've been rewatching Press Gang with a bunch of friends. It's definitely not perfect, but very cleverly and funnily written (&hearts Stephen Moffat) and made a decent shot at depicting important issues relevant to teenagers at the time. (It also introduced ten year old me to the idea of the internet)

I just watched an episode introducing a tetraplegic character in an electric wheelchair, and two things that struck me were that (a)Pretty much every line was a joke about being in a wheelchair (they are afaict the sort of jokes that people in wheelchairs are likely to actually say, but it was a bit one note and according to Wikipedia the character was written out because the writer "couldn't figure out what to do with him" eg he ran out of wheelchair jokes) and (b)Unless the actor was doing a better job than one expects of kid's TV he was actually disabled.

And sure enough he is.

So that's a kid's show, on an english budget, with a tetraplegic/quadraplegic character played by an actual tetraplegic..in 1989. I'm just saying, is all.
sqbr: (train)
Saturday, April 17th, 2010 04:56 pm
So, on the whole, Kick Ass was exactly my sort of film. It's both a straightforward geek-becomes-superhero wish fulfillment and a subversion of it, and the violence was glorious (I quite like violence done right). I agree with those saying that the violence and swearing really aren't worth complaining about, and aren't even extra specially celebrated compared to many other films (the violence looks like it hurts, for good guys and bad). But.

I kept hearing it was good in an over the top puerile sort of way, and was ok with that, but just before watching it found out it was based on a comic by Mark Millar. As it started I was reminded of this, and of how I felt about Wanted.
Read more... )
sqbr: Apologises for the terrible prose it's probably accompanied by, reads an e e cummings poem (Default)
Saturday, October 3rd, 2009 04:07 pm
SPOILERS, obviously. WARNING: brief references to creepy sexual stuff.

In short: Racism, angst, homophobia, angst, racism, angst, sex, ANGST, they lived happily ever after, the end.

But other than that it was pretty good.

SPOILERS! TRIGGERS! ANGGSSSSTTTT )
sqbr: (bookdragon)
Sunday, July 26th, 2009 04:42 pm
These are two Marjorie M Lui "Dirk and Steele" supernatural romance novels.

So far there are two common themes in this series:
1)The love interests are soul mates and are drawn to each other pretty much the moment they meet, thought they tend to fight against it out of a mix of cynicism and hard-won self defense based on Bad Past Experiences.
2)To some extent the male love interests tend to feel like they're fulfilling different ever-so-slightly-furry-ish supernatural creature fetishes.

Soul Song was sexy fish-man
The Wild Road is basically sexy Goliath from Gargoyles
The Last Twilight is sexy black African man who turns into a cheetah (which is imo a bit problematic)

The Wild Road
So clearly I wasn't the only teenage girl watching Gargoyles thinking "You know, he's kind of cute for an animated non-human."

This was fun. I liked the protagonists, though both rather hardened by difficult circumstances they weren't as irritatingly angsty as the previous lot, and I found the plot quite engaging and thrilling. The female protagonist has lost her memory, and I thought the "redefining and rediscovering yourself when you don't know who you are or were" thing was done pretty well.

Note:This is explicitly set after "Soul Song" and has some spoilers for it's plot.

The Last Twilight

I started reading this at the shop and ended up buying it because I wanted to know what happened next. The main character is a CDC disease specialist, and her life dealing with epidemics was quite engaging if rather gross for a romance. Being a Marjorie M Lui book the plot quickly shifted, and it was a bit less engrossing in the middle, but overall quite an enjoyable fantasy thriller and I liked the relationship between the two leads.

I'm not the best judge of this sort of thing, but I've seen enough criticisms of the way people of African descent are associated with animals/predators etc to be a bit uncomfortable with the way the male lead was exotified by the female lead, although he is a quite well rounded and engaging character.

On the plus side we got lots of interesting African characters, and distinctions were made between different African countries and cultures (eg the male lead is Kenyan, and misses the plains while in the jungles of the Congo).