Links of Great Interest 1/1/10

Dear Abby — My husband wants to force me to have  a baby. What should I do?

Celie’s Revenge talks about women, acknowledgment, and babies.

Has this really been a good year for women and film? [post since locked]

Dear trolls — you are MEAN and SCARY. Moreover, you are boring and not critically relevant.

God, I love using the word “moreover” in a sentence. I also love this post on strong female characters.

Race-talk and offer very different interpretations of Avatar.

Does My Head Look Big In This? sounds adorable.

HP participates in a long history of white privilege naturalized into technology.

Here are the weirdest commercials of 2009.

I’m homesick, so I read up on gumbo.

I guess it’s okay to beat women when they’re your kids.



Are feminism and kink mutually exclusive?

I dunno, are gangbangs empowering? I’m… gonna say that the conditions under which they’re empowering are so limited and so fraught with consent issues that I would be really uncomfortable saying yes unilaterally. I think such a scene would need to be carefully negotiated, and it’s that negotiation that would make it empowering, not just the banging itself. Plus, this article is chock full of straw feminisms re: feminism, porn, and sex.


  1. The Other Patrick says

    Reconciling feminism and bdsm tendencies is something I needed to suss out for myself, too. The biggest problem I encounter nowadays is talking about things like “Twilight” where the relationship is really unhealthy, but in the back of my head there’s always, “unless they negotiated it first and willingly entered such a relationship…” 😉

  2. Maria says

    To be honest, even then I’d be like, “What the heck?” The internet and YA fiction have forced me to realize what a square I truly am, since any relationship that involves gnawing out a baby is one I find totally squicky.

  3. says

    I loved those reviews of Avatar. However, I do take issue with Jake Sully’s hybrid Na’vi avatar being described as a biracial/multiethnic character if only because it was never dealt with within the narrative– Jake was treated as an outsider by the Na’vi because they recognized him as one of the humans “masquerading” as a Na’vi himself; and while it is powerful that despite this, after counter-conducting their own social experiment, the Na’vi accepted Jake, he was still a human (white) character, coming from a human (white) background and perspective and making the choice to become Na’vi.

    It would have been more compelling, personally, if Jake had his human body’s legs restored, or if we the audience had seen the life he would be going back to before making his big decision, because as the movie is, we just see the Noble Savages giving a magical dream life to a guy who didn’t have much going for him to begin with. Even a continued consciousness of his human experience in, say, a blended fighting style of Na’vi and Marine Corps methods would have been neat. Instead, the Na’vi “saved” Jake from his mundane life, total acceptance with a dash of pitiableness swapped for total acceptance plus badassery, so he returned the favor by giving away the humans’ (white people’s) secrets and teaching the Na’vi how to be badassed to their full potential. Jake Sully chose to stay in the Labyrinth. If it was meant as an expression of mixed-race identity, Avatar did a good job of coming across as being written by a person with a single-race background.

    Also, the thought did cross my mind that if a minority or mixed-race actor had played Jake Sully, the racial messages within the narrative would become so hammerfisted as anti-human/white (in-story politics would change to powerfully anti-white-privilege, although the script as it is would still clearly be coming from that angle), and the movie so much less “relatable” (read: white lead actors) Avatar as a whole would become much more of a “camp” sci-fi movie, and, in having to take itself less seriously by being both a “genre” and an “ethnic” film, would be less successful and potentially less complicated to sit back and enjoy. The whole thing would be taken as just another goofy sci-fi script; unless Jake Sully was specifically a very srs-bsns angry black man, in which case a lot of people would have been pretty uncomfortable in the theater. (In case anyone was wondering, I was thinking specifically of Vin Diesel, mostly because my mother loves her some Vin and will memorize any sci fi movie he is in. A bonus was that I’m not sure if white people know he’s light-skinned biracial.)

    I also took an issue with the fact that, not including Earth-goddess Ehwa and the entire planet of Pandora basically being on her Twitter-feed of awesomeness (I kind of wanted the trees to fight back against the humans, LotR style), there are four Strong Female Characters with speaking roles in Avatar, and it still doesn’t pass the Bechdel test despite these women’s badassery. I am also kind of bummed that Dr. Augustine (Sigourney Weaver’s character, only listed under her first name in the credits) didn’t get to be as caustic in speech as Michelle Rodriguez’s character, and, of course, that both of them had to die before the movie was over (being the well-intentioned if snarky white lady-scientist and tomboyish hardcore-but-hot Latina, respectively).

    In other news, GUMBO! Om nom nom. A diaspora gumbo recipe sounds both delightfully subversive and DELICIOUS.

  4. The Other Patrick says

    Maria: :)

    Nijireiki: or maybe if the Na’vi had some really strange rite or custom that Jake couldn’t adapt to easily, or some other problem. Like having no genitals or eating their old and their fat people (there were none).

  5. Scarlett says

    In regards to the Dear Abby letter, when I first read it, I thought ‘good advice, although could have been more along the lines of ‘leave this manipulative loser’. But then I gender-flipped it so it became a disabled husband dependant on his wife for money/birth control/mobility being told ‘I want a child and you hve no say in it’, and two things came to mind. The first was that in that case, the husband would be seen as some kind of pathetic doormate when, hey, it’s OK (or at least less NOT OK) for a husband to treat a wife like that and secondly, there’d be an absolute fury over a woman trying to force children only a man, especially in those situations. And looking at it that way made Abby’s response not nearly strong enough.

  6. says

    Dear Abby’s response was not nearly strong enough anyway. She just advocated talking, when the husband clearly didn’t care what his wife wanted anyway. Dear Abby should have advised the wife to find a friend who can drive her to the doctor, and get a form of birth control that the husband can’t interfere with—Norplant would be ideal—first thing.

    I also want to know how long the wife’s physical limitations are likely to last. Being able to drive and work three to six months from now is a different situation from never being able to drive or work again.

    And really, if failing to force her means he would leave her? She’d be better off without him.

  7. says

    Re: the Dear Abby letter…my advice would have been “seek help now so you can leave your abusive husband”. I mean, holy shit. And if I’m reading the subtext right…the best way to deal with this (normally, short of leaving) is to say “no glove, no love”; if she feels that is not an option (for whatever reason), then she’s being raped…I hope enough readers (including Abby) are aware of this.

  8. Scarlett says

    I hadn’t actually thought of it that way. I was seeing it in terms of ‘if I want to have sex with him, then it has to be without any protection’. I got the impression that it was consensual in the sense she agreed but had apprehensions because of the no-condom thing. But that opens up a whole new deal if she’s being raped either by coersion or actual force – especially since by the sounds of it, she’s not exactly in a position to defend herself.

    And here was me thinking, when I first read it, that it was merely a case of the guy being a selfish jerk.

  9. says

    I think Dear Abby has to walk a careful line of niceness in the advice she gives. She tends to go the “polite and gentle” route for tone, from what I’ve seen.

    And who knows, maybe that is the right way to go in this case. If Abby flat out said “Leave him. He’s a controlling jerk,” then possibly the abused woman would rebel and do the “you don’t know him! I love him!” thing that so many abused spouses do. She kept writing about how much she loved him and how afraid she was he’d leave, so that’s a real possibility.

    But maybe if Abby says “this sounds like a REALLY bad idea. Think of your health. Think of the children. You should seek counselling,” then maybe this woman will reach out and seek help and the COUNSELLER will tell her “Leave him. He’s a controlling jerk,” and be able to do so with a bit more authority. That’s the hope, anyway.

    Presumably the woman reached out to Dear Abby because she likes “polite and gentle.” If she wanted “harsh and brutally honest (and/or funny)” she would have written Dan Savage or somebody and gotten the DTMFA response that we (and possibly Dear Abby herself) wish we could write.

  10. says

    If someone consented to one sex act, but then you forced a different sex act upon them, that would be rape, right? So I’m thinking, yes, if someone feels forced into sex without birth control, which is a different sex act from sex with birth control, that’s a form of sexual assault. It’s definitely emotional abuse.

    Dani, nice points about Abbie’s gentle response. Note too that she didn’t say “get counseling” – she said “mediation”, which can be counseling but can also refer to something much stronger.

  11. Scarlett says

    To me, mediation is about negotiation, and this guy is WAY beyond that. Saying ‘to hell with your wishes, hell and free will, this is what I want and I control the means to force it on you’ is WAY beyond negotiating. (Or to quote the Duke in The Duchess, ‘I don’t make deals, I already control everything’.) Whereas mediation can be a FORM of counselling, in this context it would be more a one-on-one thing where a therapist brings her – or tries to at least – to a point where she realises that someone who cares so little about what she wants doesn’t really love her.

    I just cycled through the letters and responses since that one because often some piece of advice Abby offers will generate a lot of responses, to a point that she will dedicate another day to the responses. (A lot of which are far more imformative than the one she offered in the first place.) Either not enough people thought it worth of comment or Abby decided not to publish them; either way, I tend to find that more disconcerting than her actual response.

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