{ thinking out loud about the things i care about }

Posts Tagged ‘meta’

The Periodic Table of Storytelling

Friday, April 8th, 2011

A quick post to share this, which my pop-culture, literary and fiction-filled soul adores. ComputerSherpa posted this fantastic chart of some of the core storytelling tropes inspired by the periodic table and it’s fantastic.

Click through to see the full size chart and some of the sample “compounds” you can create with these tropes.

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Linkspam: Feminism & Pop Culture

Wednesday, October 13th, 2010

Remember that time long, long ago when I started posting weekly linkspams? Y’know, that time before my already busy schedule leapt to new heights of insanity?

It may not be weekly, but it is linkspam.

Feminism & Women
  • The good people at Overthinking It created this fantastic Female Character Flowchart that captures a whole lot of pop culture female character cliches in one fell swoop. It’s massive in both size and awesome.
  • For the two hundredth and forty-second time, females and males have equal math skills before stereotyping. I don’t know how many more ways scientists can come up with to tell the rest of the world it isn’t that girls are bad at math, it’s that we keep telling and treating them as if they are bad at math.
  • Do accusations of sexism spur greater awareness of sexist language? This study thinks so. I had a conversation with a couple of male friends about this not too long ago.
  • Nice write up about what we’re really talking about when we measure pop culture with the Bechdel Test. It’s not about that women shouldn’t talk to or about men, it’s about how women presented in pop culture regularly only talk to or about men when they’re even there at all. It’s about the absence of women in our stories as anything other than romantic partners or two-dimensional tokens.
  • Linked to from the above, Pixiepalace has won me over with her explanation of the Reverse Jane Austen Principle: “It is a truth universally acknowledged by the entertainment industry that a female character in possession of a name and a ringless left hand must be in want of a boyfriend.” I think this often comes from a belief by the entertainment industry that women won’t want to watch female characters that aren’t somehow involved/tangled in romance, as if it’s central to our enjoyment. This is one of several reasons I love Emily Prentiss and Elle Greenaway from Criminal Minds, two fine female characters without romantic subplots.


Pop Culture
  • Another great post from Overthinking It, this time about Fixing Season 5 of Doctor Who. It’s a long post that only the most dedicated meta readers are likely to finish, but it covers most of my problems with the plot and themes of the latest incarnation of Doctor Who. I’m not sure I necessarily agree with all the proposed fixes, but I do mostly agree with the general through-line here. Season Five of Who left me firmly in a “meh” space, and this post articulates some of the reasons why.
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Boobquake: A Recap and Response

Monday, April 26th, 2010

It seems I am incapable of resisting writing something about this #boobquake meme that’s grabbed hold of the internet in the last week, so here goes:

To recap the Boobquake meme:

Last week, a senior Iranian cleric blamed women who behave ‘promiscuously’ and wear immodest clothing for earthquakes:

“Many women who do not dress modestly … lead young men astray, corrupt their chastity and spread adultery in society, which (consequently) increases earthquakes,” Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi was quoted as saying by Iranian media. Sedighi is Tehran’s acting Friday prayer leader.

Women in the Islamic Republic are required by law to cover from head to toe, but many, especially the young, ignore some of the more strict codes and wear tight coats and scarves pulled back that show much of the hair.

“What can we do to avoid being buried under the rubble?” Sedighi asked during a prayer sermon Friday. “There is no other solution but to take refuge in religion and to adapt our lives to Islam’s moral codes.”

Read the full article.

Jen McCreight, skeptic, athiest and Blag Hag, responded to his claims with an, ahem, ‘immodest’ proposal:

“On Monday, April 26th, I will wear the most cleavage-showing shirt I own. Yes, the one usually reserved for a night on the town. I encourage other female skeptics to join me and embrace the supposed supernatural power of their breasts. Or short shorts, if that’s your preferred form of immodesty. With the power of our scandalous bodies combined, we should surely produce an earthquake.”

Read her full blog post.

She created a Boobquake Facebook event which in one week went massively viral, resulting in over 200,000 people as ‘confirmed’ guests of Boobquake. She also coined the Twitter hashtag #boobquake which has been trending in Canada on and off for the last week, and has amassed some 17,000+ tweets in the last seven days. ETA: as of 11am on Tuesday, we’re at 21,000 tweets.

Mainstream news outlets (like cnews, The Vancouver Sun, CNN, and The Examiner) got ahold of the meme, and then we were really off to the races.

The Boobquake Response:

Having never anticipated her little blog post would spur such a massive explosion, Jen McCreight posted a quick followup, addressing some of the concerns being expressed about the event, both in terms of the sexualization inherent, the specific call out to breasts as the method of immodesty, and the science involved.

“I just want to apologize if this comes off as demeaning toward women. To be honest, it started as silly joke that I hurriedly fired off since I was about to miss the beginning of House. I never thought it would get the attention it did. If I would have known, I would have spent more time being careful about my wording.

That being said, I don’t think the event is completely contrary to feminist ideals. I’m asking women to wear their most “immodest” outfit that they already would wear, but to coordinate it all on the same day for the sake of the experiment. Heck, just showing an ankle would be considered immodest by some people. I don’t want to force people out of their comfort zones, because I believe women have the right to choose how they want to dress. Please don’t pressure women to participate if they don’t want to. If men ogle, that’s the fault of the men, not me for dressing how I like. If I want to a show a little cleavage or joke about my boobs, that’s my prerogative.”

Read the rest of her follow up at Blag Hag.

The response to Boobquake has been varied and somewhat contentious. A rival Facebook event called Brainquake sprouted up protesting the sexualization of the Boobquake event, the (predictable) male enthusiasm of Boobquake, and the perception that women with smaller busts lacking cleavage are left out of participating. (Oh hey, didn’t I just post about social sexualization of large breasts vs. small breasts the other day? Breast-size shame goes both ways, though it’s a different brand of shame for my small-busted friends.)

There are feminist and cultural concerns, as well as concerns about the validity and practicality of the science being proposed here, especially in light of the fact that a surprising number of earthquakes happen every day.

Heidi Anderson of The Fat One in the Middle had some thoughts on Boobquake today that resonate for me:

“EVERY DAY should be a day when you feel comfortable expressing your sexuality and seeking sexual attention. Why has this event taken off like it did? Could it be that there is STILL shame in women expressing their sexuality? Of course there is!

But you don’t need a fake protest, catcalls from supportive men, alcohol, or the approval of your friends to be sexual. If you dress in a sexual manner, some people will think you are slutty. If you dress in a modest manner, some people will not give you the time of day. But the way we use Halloween, Girl’s Night Out, and now Boobquake as holidays in which “good girls” are given permission to be sexual pisses me off. You don’t NEED permission. You just need courage, and the willingness to take responsibility for your decisions. Part of that responsibility means being willing to give up the labels of good girls and bad girls, and just be.”

Read the full post.

Her words reach to the core of my own Boobquake uneasiness: I think a lot of females are participating, not because of any desire to show solidarity or debunk a religious man’s claims, but because it’s an opportunity to justify being and feeling good about being sexual in public spaces. Because women in our society still need an excuse or a reason to embrace and display their sexuality, largely for fear of the slut shaming that often accompanies women appearing in public as sexual creatures. And even when women do get that ‘free pass’ to be sexual — at Halloween, a girls night dancing, or an event like Boobquake — we’re still subjected to slurs and name-calling, often-times from other women. The number of times I’ve seen the words ‘slut’ and ‘whore’ used in anti-boobquake comments on Twitter today is disappointing yet unsurprising.

I’m also leary about the expectations we generate around those ‘free pass’ sexual days, which push women from one extreme expectation — modesty, sexual restraint, etc. — to the other. Halloween costume-hunting last year was particularly troublesome for me: finding a costume that wasn’t sexy (insert job/role here) was nearly impossible, and going out to the clubs on Halloween without showing off thighs and cleavage is apt to get you as much ridicule as if you went out any other night with clothing of similar style. Jen McCreight doesn’t want anyone to feel pressured to participate, but the reality is women will be: men and women will mock those who choose not to participate or weren’t aware of the event, and likely many women may be coerced by peer pressure into participating. The expectation is that, since this is now a ‘free pass’ day, any women who chooses not to take the free pass is prudish, prissy, bitchy, uptight, etc., especially from men who — for obvious reasons — delight in those days when women’s bodies are on sexual display.

So, while I’m still mostly up in the air about my feelings on Boobquake, I would ask the following of all people, whether you participate or not:

  1. Be aware of your slut-shaming language. There is nothing wrong with disagreeing with the premise of Boobquake, but don’t use words like ‘slut’, ‘whore’, ‘hooker’, ‘tart’, ‘tramp’, etc. in your argument. There are legitimate feminist concerns and expressing them is important, but please don’t police women for choosing to be sexual. Women are entitled to be sexual creatures when and where and if they want to be, and do not deserve to be called whores because of it.
  2. Don’t tease, mock, or pressure women not participating to unbutton that extra button or hike up their skirts. If you’d like to explain the event to those in the dark, go for it: some women upon hearing about it will join in of their own accord, and others will balk at the idea. Do not expect either, and please don’t coerce or cajole the ladies around you into doing something they’re uncomfortable with.

And so endeth my epically long post on Boobquake.

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What Shows Are You Watching?

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

The idea is that we all watch different shows, even when we all watch the same ones. BtVS and Joss fan penny_lane_42 posted about the shows she’s watching, and got me thinking about the ones I watch.

When it looked like I was watching Gargoyles I was actually watching Blond, Bland Gentlemen Have More Fun Serving Amoral Megalomaniacs, and The Magnificent Seven was absolutely The Con Man with a Soft, Mushy Centre he Resents.

What appeared to be a book about a boy named Harry Potter was in fact The Baggage of Severus Snape and A Werewolf Tries Very Hard Not To Be Happy, For Everyone Else’s Sake. The last couple of books were also Dumbledore Plays Wizard Chess and You Are All His Pieces.

From the beginning, The West Wing was Lemon Lyman and his Quirkily Brilliant and Impervious Assistant Fall In Love with the occasional CJ Is Awesomer Than Pretty Much Everybody; Bitter, Angry, Sad Toby Tries to Save the World with Words; and Jed and Leo: It’s Good Friends Who Keep Us Sane spinoffs. The first two seasons are definitely Dialogue That Plays Like Music, and that show was the first one that made me realize dialogue can be just as flexible and brilliant and god-damn evocative as narration.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer was primarily I Love Allegory and Metaphor Like You Cannot Even Believe and Important Stories in Dark Places. Season Two became A Librarian Was Not How I Thought I’d End Up, But Somewhere I Was Always Headed, while Season Three was The Mayor and Faith Need Each Other, and Are Good People Gone Astray, Really. Season Four was, to my surprise, mostly When Did Xander Become So God Damn Brilliant, and Why Didn’t I Notice Until Now?. Season Five was definitely My Sister is More Important than the World Entire, and That Is Just Fact so Live With It, and Season Six I watched Buffy Learns to Feel Again after getting Really Good at Not. In the end, it turned out I was also watching A Girl Who Forgets How To Be a Girl Because she Has To Be a Man the whole time.

When I watched Doctor Who with David Tennant I was watching The Loneliest Man in the Universe Searches for Distraction That Usually Makes it Worse. When Season Four started it absolutely became Donna is Awesome and the Doctor Needs Her More Than Anyone Else in the Universe. I also admit to watching the Unashamed Sci Fi Crack is Cracktastic Win show on a regular basis and loving it the most.

Torchwood was mostly Torchwood Makes Everything Worse, But In a Good and Often Hilarious Way but also sometimes Sex and Love and All the Awkward, Strange, Niggly Spaces In Between Make Us Human. CoE was, by and large, Gwen Finds Her Awesome.

I watch Criminal Minds for Garcia Is My Hero In All Ways, but also for Women, Even When They’re Victims, Are Not Just Victims and Playing With Gender Roles and Identities in Smart Ways.

Dollhouse started out as Victor and Sierra and Nothing Else Matters, but then suddenly and wonderfully became Topher Doesn’t Want to Hurt Anyone Else But Can’t Help It Because That’s Who He Is.

There are others, of course. I could go on forever, but these are the ones that leap immediately to mind. What shows within shows have you watched? What tinted glasses do you wear when you watch or listen or read the stories you do? I’m intrigued by this discussion and by discovering other people’s points of view.

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Dreamwidth’s First Terms of Service Test

Friday, January 15th, 2010

Over the last week, Dreamwidth has come under fire from some organized trolls with ties to hate speech organizations, posing as concerned parent organizations in an attempt to convince Dreamwidth’s merchant processor and upstream provider that they are hosting child pornography. There have also been several phishing attempts (setting up sites that look like Dreamwidth in order to obtain user’s passwords).

PayPal, the merchant processor, has requested Dreamwidth remove the “offending” entries, and Dreamwidth has refuesed to do so. As a result, they’re on the hunt for a new merchant to accept credit cards. For those with accounts expiring in the next week or two, Dreamwidth is happily providing those people with a one-month extension of paid service while they set up with a new payment processing merchant.

I wrote a post some time ago about Dreamwidth, why I was interested in the service, and how I thought their no-ads model might work out better for its fandom users particularly. This is the first major test of those principles, and so far the Dreamwidth team is passing with flying colours. I am extremely pleased and impressed.

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