I Read the Internets, too: 02/06/07

Before you get into pure internets links, head over to Team Rainbow and pick up a copy of her feminist comic book “Rainbow Girl Stars in SEXY WAR” [blog now private]. First of all, it’s a feminist comic book, and second:

It is an international grassroots fundraiser with all proceeds donated to Umoja Uasa Kenyan Women’s Village, a formidable group of women in Umoja, Kenya who are escaping and stopping domestic violence and sexual assault in their lives and community.

All proceeds go to this group. I haven’t received my copy yet, so I can’t review it, but that’s a good enough reason for me.

Now, to the reading: the 14th Carnival of Feminist Sci-Fi and Fantasy Fans is up at Heroine Content. That’s really a long start, because there is so much goodness over there it’s really tough to pick out just a few highlights. But specifically, if you’re looking for reading to follow up firebird’s post on Pirates III, check out the link on White and Black Sexuality in the film on Feminist SF–The Blog!. Great comics content includes angryrantgirl at Neither Doormat Nor Prostitute providing a comprehensive list of dos and don’ts on writing Wonder Woman, and Sequentially Speaking covers the frustration of hearing the argument that superhero comics aren’t for girls, anyway, in It’s Hard Out Here For a Fangirl (as a comic book store owner, she’s got an angle on it that most of us don’t get to see), and Humph points out that in addition to the obvious problems with that Heroes for Hire cover, they’ve managed to seriously enwhiten the formerly clearly African American Misty Knight, and notes that

[this] wouldn’t burn quite so badly if it wasn’t for the fact that Misty is one of extremely few black heroines with afro hair and her do has traditionally been depicted as MADE OF AWESOME.

And finally, on books, it’s back to Feminist SF–The Blog! for a great go-to link for anyone who, like me, frequently has to explain that liking science fiction and being a feminist doesn’t mean I unequivocally like Pern.

So much more at the Carnival is worth reading, but a couple of other things I want to point out…there was something of a brouhaha after the president of “Americans Against Obesity” gave a rant on Fox News about how Jordin Sparks’ American Idol win would encourage fat people basically to think it was okay to be fat. Feministe covers it with Meme Roth wants fat people to hide in their homes lest they get airs that they belong in public without showing their shame for existing. My own note on this, incredibly obvious though it is, would be that her wrath over Jordin is a perfect example of how this has nothing to do with health or even, really, obesity, but rather entirely with reinforcing existing beauty standards, because there is no way that young woman is built to be anything other than the size she is in order to be healthy. Check out the follow-up post as well for some thoughts on discussions of eating disorders.

And The Egalitarian Bookworm asks Are reality TV shows sexist, or just stupid?, including a paragraph that clearly covers one of the basic problems of the intersection of white male privilege and pop culture:

On the other hand, while the women who are chosen for these shows are often crazy, disturbed, manipulative, whatever, the men are too. In fact, there are always a nice pack of egotistical, self-involved chauvinist white men doing their stupid white men stuff in every reality TV situation I can think of (except for Beauty and the Geek, for which I have a massive soft spot). It’s just that they aren’t an oppressed group, and on some level society doesn’t truly condemn their assholeish behavior, even if the show pretends to. I always feel as though viewers are going to leave the finale of a series like RW being like, you know “bitches is crazy!” while very few of them will say their final impression is that “god, men are such pigs.”

Revena’s back with you next week, so I will again be reading the internets purely recreationally and watching television for research purposes.

Comments

  1. Purtek says

    I personally totally agree with your overall picture of reality TV here. It both attracts a certain drama-seeking personality (I’ve seen some interesting arguments for why it improves reality TV to actively recruit contestants, rather than wait for applicants, because it ensures that this isn’t all you get) and the producers often feel that all people want is trite drama. Are those kinds of shows sexist, or “just stupid”? My return question would be: can’t they be both? I think there’s certainly a level of sexism in the casting of the women and the creation of situations where they catfight (we’ve discussed The Bachelor specifically at length here), but they do also cast stereotypical and idiotic men. It’s the “only the most cursory reprimands” and the general willingness to make sweeping generalizations about people who don’t live up to the straight white male trifecta that makes “just stupid” an inadequate descriptor, to me.

  2. MaggieCat says

    I think a lot of it depends on which reality shows you’re talking about. I would never put “The Amazing Race” and “Big Brother” in the same categories- one is a show that requires you to be able to work as part of a functional team while in completely foreign environments, the other locks you in a house with nothing to do- so it goes without saying that they genuinely need the most irrational drama prone individuals they can find or they don’t have a show. A reasonably good rule of thumb is that the more work is required to keep up with even the most basic level of competition, the more likable the contestants will be as human beings.

    But the shows that require more work are also more rare. They may cost more money to produce, or it may take them a season or two to find a decent sized audience, both of which get shows cancelled in favour of something crappier that makes money now with no return for winning viewer loyalty. (TAR has seen the advantage of producing a legitimately good show and allowing their audience to build over the seasons, but most people agree that it was the multiple Emmys that kept them from being cancelled during the early lean-audience-share years.) When you don’t care about the quality of the show, only the level of drama, you end up with a cast full of attention seeking walking personality disorders.

    Since our society accepts a certain level of sexism and misogyny (as well as homophobia, and a certain amount of racism) with only the most cursory reprimands, those qualities tend to show up in people who are trying to attract attention: either from the male contestants who want you to think they’re better than everyone else- hating women eliminates half the competition- or from women who play into it looking for male approval because that’s what they’ve been told they need to get ahead in life. (Hey, topic! I was wondering where I lost that!) But since our society accepts a certain level of sexism, misogyny, et cetera with only the most cursory reprimands, it’s the women (and other minorities) who end up taking all of the blame from the audience. Scapegoating at its finest.

  3. MaggieCat says

    Are those kinds of shows sexist, or “just stupid”? My return question would be: can’t they be both? I think there’s certainly a level of sexism in the casting of the women and the creation of situations where they catfight (we’ve discussed The Bachelor specifically at length here), but they do also cast stereotypical and idiotic men.

    They can do both, but I really do think it can all be traced back to what type of show the producers are going for. Using The Bachelor as an example: if they cast women for the show using say, personality tests and common interests rather than who looks good in a bikini, they’d wind up with a better (and less offensive) show. Since they don’t, that also affects the type of man who’s willing to do the show- most of the guys I know whose opinions I respect aren’t interested in the type of woman who ends up on that show. How many men of quality do you know who would be willing to go on national television and basically whittle down a harem?

    I think it’s sort of a chicken and egg situation: Which came first, the stupidity or the sexism? Whether it started with show creators who were sexist and didn’t think there was anything intelligent worth looking for, or show creators who were stupid and didn’t know how to avoid the sexism, anecdotal evidence suggests that you can’t have one without the other.

    (For the record, I’m completely in favour of recruiting contestants. Season 13 of Survivor relied heavily on recruitment since they started with an even number of contestants from different races (reality show casts tend to skew heavily white) and it was one of the best seasons they’ve ever produced, if not THE best, period. And I’m not just saying that because Yul won and I loved him from the very first episode. :-)

    When you actively seek out contestants, you find the people who’ve been watching the show and thinking about how they would do it, but let their sanity and rational thought talk them out of it. Key words there being “sane” and “rational”. This type of person also tends to be aware that it’s a game and trying to win is not immoral, as opposed to a glut of the self centered hypocrites who think everyone who tries to make them lose is evil. Proper perspective is a lovely thing.)

  4. Rainbow Girl says

    Firstly: stupid or sexist? Like, these are two mutually exclusive categoties?

    Secondly: thanks for the mention- if you placed an order your copy will come soon. :)

  5. Purtek says

    So far from mutually exclusive that I’d say the latter in fact presupposes the former, but not vice versa. The question really then becomes “are they sexist and stupid or merely just plain stupid?”

    I just ordered my copy yesterday or the day before–the site said two weeks for delivery within Canada. I’m seriously intrigued by the idea of a comic book that includes Picton murder references.

  6. says

    re: Pern

    Someone recently suggested the series to the nine-year-old daughter of a co-worker – because she likes dragons.

    Co-worker asked me what I thought. Needless to say I was very much “um, no, at least not for a few more years anyway.”

  7. Jennifer Kesler says

    I must’ve been 19 or 20 when I read the first one, and I guess I was either too young or too old, because the, er, romantic forced sex that happened to the lead female just plain felt like rape to me. Even though it had a built-in excuse and a nice after the fact “and he never forced her again, and they were very happy ever after” clause.

    I guess I just don’t get rape fantasies.

  8. Gategrrl says

    Well…hmm…the Pern books were written by a woman of the generation who were majorly exposed to those Harlequinn romance books with the much younger girl paired off with a much older, more knowledgeable man – and invariably, the sex set-up was rape, or something so close to it, you couldn’t tell the difference.

    (I’m not telling you anything you didn’t already know, of course)

    So, that the Pern books are full of that shit, doesn’t surprise me, really, since that was an accepted trope in Romance Novels for ages.

    At least I know my daughter won’t be reading those books. I have a hard enough time getting her interested in anything fantasy at all.

  9. Jennifer Kesler says

    (I’m not telling you anything you didn’t already know, of course)

    Or suspect, at least. I had the benefit of being around a mother who was working some of that stuff out for herself, and once I was old enough to hear it, she shared her thoughts on the scene in Gone with the Wind and so on. ;)

    It’s one thing if a person has rape fantasies and knows it. It’s quite another if they are being conditioned to mix up rape and romance.

  10. says

    Someone recently suggested the series to the nine-year-old daughter of a co-worker – because she likes dragons.

    Dude! No, no. Get her the Dealing with Dragons series by Patricia C. Wrede! Much closer to the age group, and it stars an all-around awesome female lead who would like none of anyone’s nonsense, please.

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