Nov 11

The Soaps vs. The Game

While both ‘the soaps’ and ‘the game’ have been criticized as poor viewing choices, only the soaps have been dismissed as fluff.  However, a close examination reveals that, in fact, the soaps have more heft than the game.

In both cases, the central theme, and that which drives the action, is winning.  In the soaps, what the players are trying to win is money, power, love, and/or happiness.  These are pretty substantial goals.  In the game, however, the players are trying to win – the game.  Frankly, it verges on circularity (you play the game in order to win the game), which comes close to utter triviality.

And while both sets of players use strategy, often involving manipulation, the strategy of the soaps is considerably more complicated than ‘Go left, fake, then go right.’  In fact, I would venture to say that the soaps is to the game what chess is to checkers.

With regard to setting, the soaps have a bit of an edge: while a well-furnished room is the norm, at least the set does change.  (One has the well-furnished office, the well-furnished den, the well-furnished living room…)

With respect to dialogue, again the soaps have the edge: there is some.  (Actually, I expect the game players speak to each other too, but for some reason we never get to hear their dialogue; instead, we are privy only to a voice-over commentary, explaining the action, rather like a Greek chorus – as patronizing now as it no doubt was then.)

While the characters of the soaps are more gender-inclusive, the characters of the game are more race-inclusive.  (And in both cases, they’re rich.)  I’d call it a tie here.

As for plot, again I’d call it a tie: in both cases, the events are terribly predictable.  I’d venture to say one is hard put to distinguish one game from another or one soap from another – only the characters give it away.

In the cinematography category, the game is superior for its long shots, but the soaps are superior for their close-ups.  Again, a tie.  However, in the soundtrack category, the soaps walk away with the prize.

As for sex and violence, I’m afraid the soaps lead the game on both counts.  There is simply no sex in the game – unless you count the occasional ass-pat (but that is so very elementary, it hardly even counts as foreplay).  And while there is a lot more physical contact in the game, of a violent-seeming nature, and while injury must therefore be frequent, it is seldom permanent; in the soaps, however, people get hurt all the time, in rather long-lasting ways.  Death is even rarer in the game; not so in the soaps.

One might point out that the game is real, whereas the soaps are not, and on that basis alone claim victory for the game.  Unfortunately this very ‘advantage’ backfires: given the level of injury and death in the soaps, it’s to its credit that it’s not for real; in the game, however, real people get hurt.

Tally up the points and I rest my case: the soaps are pretty substantial stuff compared to the schoolyard play of the game.

 

Nov 08

Kids Behind the Wheel

The other day, I was walking on the gravel/dirt road I live on.  It’s a back road that might see a dozen cars in a day.  As one such car passed us, I noticed that a kid was at the wheel in dad’s lap.  Proud dad, happy kid.

What is it with that?  Why, of all the adult things, do parents push their kids into that one?  Mis-asked the question.  It’s not the parents, it’s the dads.  And usually, it’s their sons, not their daughters.

Given that men are worse drivers than women (ask the insurance companies – why do you think young males pay such a high premium?), perhaps it makes sense: boys need all the practice they can get.  But surely it would be better to take them to a go-cart track.

Proud dad, happy kid.  I get the impression it’s not practice.  Is it a rite of passage to manhood?  But women can, do, and should drive as well.  There’s nothing gender-specific about driving a car.  So why would it be a rite of passage to manhood?

Maybe it’s the vroom vroom that confuses men.  It’s a surrogate roar.  They think they’re intimidating when they make a lot of noise.  (Actually they’re just annoying.  As hell.)  And they want to be intimidating because – ?

Or, also, attendant with a roar, maybe their primitive brain triggers the production of adrenaline, and the adrenaline makes them feel good.  Perhaps that explains the appeal of the Indy.  And the adolescent males who take the mufflers off their trail bikes.

Or maybe it’s the speed that confuses them, makes them feel like they’re chasing prey (or fleeing predators) and again, their primitive brain produces feel-good adrenaline.

So why doesn’t their modern brain recognize this and veto the primitive response?  Noise and speed matter little to homo sapiens living in the 21st century.

Proud dad.  Happy kid.  Oh aren’t you the grown-up.  No, you’re not.  You shouldn’t be behind the wheel until you’re sixteen and then you should approach the task with fear and trembling.  Driving is not fun.  A car is not a toy.  One wrong move and you could kill someone.

 

Oct 25

The “M” word on Prime Time TV!!!! (Misogyny; Scandal)

I’m delightfully surprised by the current season of Scandal.  I had trouble getting into the show, and actually, I’m surprised I’m still with it; catching a glimpse of a political debate between two women and  Melly’s bid for the presidency kept me involved, even though I don’t really like her, or Olivia …

And this season, Olivia’s arrogance is really off-putting, but my god, her monument or asterisk speech to Melly  – she actually used the word ‘misogyny’.  The word!  Spoken by a character on prime time tv!!  Been waiting for that for almost fifty years.

And then in a subsequent episode, Marcus takes Fitz to task for his white privilege.

And  for turning Olivia into a ‘black ho’?  Bring it on.

And that was after he lands that “Welcome to the plight of almost every successful woman in the history of mankind” remark.

 Who are these writers?  And why weren’t they on the show since the beginning?  (If I’m reading the IMDB site correctly, the writer has always been Shonda Rhimes.  Hm.)  (Perhaps no surprise.  If she’d said the ‘m’ word in the first episode, perhaps she wouldn’t’ve gotten any further.)

(Though I have to say…I worry that Olivia will set feminism back fifty years if she continues with, well, murder and blackmail.  People will say shit like ‘see what happens when we let women in power?’ conveniently forgetting every man in power that has done the same…)

Oct 19

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED – Traister’s All the Single Ladies

Just at chapter 3, but I can highly recommend Rebecca Traister’s All the Single Ladies.

A few bits…

“…as the legal scholar Rachel Moran argues, while the feminist movement of the 1970s was in part a ‘direct response to these conditions of early and pervasive marriage,’ the ironic side effect was that single women had almost no place in the underpinnings of the movement” (20).  Yes!

“Le Bon conceded that ‘Without a doubt there exist some distinguished women, very superior to the average man, but they are as exceptional as the birth of any monstrosity, as, for example, of a gorilla with two heads; consequently, we may neglect them entirely'” (53).  Had not heard that one.

Oh, and this lovely tidbit: “Chambers-Schiller reports that in the medical establishment, ‘a painful  menopause was the presumed consequence of reproductive organs that were not regularly bathe din male semen'” (54).

 

Sep 25

A Postscript to Why Feminist Manuscripts Don’t Get Published

So here’s a query letter my friend Chris Wind sent to a publisher recently:

Editor, [XYZ Publishers]:

Feminist theorist Dale Spender wrote, in Women of Ideas and What Men Have Done to Them, “We need to know how patriarchy works.  We need to know how women disappear….”   Indeed we do.  Where are all the straight-A girls from high school?  Why, how, have they ‘disappeared’?  Marriage and kids is an inadequate answer because married-with-kids straight-A boys are visible.  Everywhere.  Even the straight-B boys are out there.

September (fiction; 114,698w) responds to Spender’s urgent comment with a microscopic examination of the life of a single woman that is, I fear, all too typical, answering the question ‘What happened?’

Although there have been many non-fiction books since Spender that have exposed the sexism in our culture …  fiction seems not to have kept pace, seems not to be informed by the insights of those authors.  September thus helps fill an important gap (especially for those who don’t read non-fiction) …

There are three voices juxtaposed throughout the novel: the fresh, impassioned protagonist speaking in the present through her journal entries from the age of fifteen to fifty; the wise, and fighting-off-bitter, now-fifty protagonist commenting about the events of her life, talking to her younger self; and the dispassionate narrator.  Insights are underscored by alternate realities, extended ‘should’ve happeneds’ and ‘could’ve happeneds’…

And so September is part fiction, part memoir; part personal essay, part critical essay; part psychology, part philosophy, part sociology.  It is a maze of analysis in which, despite the appearance of rambling randomness, one thing leads inexorably to another.

I append below a bio, synopsis, and sample; I am submitting this query to a few other publishers.

Thank you for your consideration, and I do hope to hear you’d like to read more!

Bio:  Chris Wind (M.A., Philosophy; B.A., Literature) has published four collections of poetry (Paintings and Sculptures, UnMythed, Soliloquies: the lady doth indeed protest and dreaming of kaleidoscopes).  Her prose and poetry has appeared in several journals and magazines (including Prism International, Ariel, Bogg, Canadian Woman Studies, The University of Toronto Review, Hysteria, The Wascana Review, The Antigonish Review, event, The New Quarterly, The Humanist, f.(L)ip, Waves, grain, Canadian Author & Bookman, cv2, Atlantis, and Herizons) as well as anthologies (including Contemporary Monologues for Young Women).  Several of her short theatrical works have been performed, and her stories have been read on CBC Radio (the Canadian equivalent to the BBC).  She has been awarded sixteen Ontario (Canada) Arts Council grants.

And this is the rejection letter she received:

Thank you for submitting your fiction proposal to [XYZ Publishers].

Unfortunately, we don’t think Women of Ideas and What Men Have Done to Them is a good fit for our list at this time. …

Sincerely,

Gregg [Somebody, XYZ Publishers]

I don’t know what’s worse, that he didn’t read the letter (or even the first line) very carefully (let alone, one has to assume, the enclosed sample) or that he didn’t recognize Spender’s work.

 

 

Aug 15

Why Feminist Manuscripts Aren’t Getting Published Today – McSweeney’s List

https://www.mcsweeneys.net/articles/why-feminist-manuscripts-arent-getting-published-today

 

Jul 09

How Being in Public Feels: Men VS Women – GREAT VIDEO!

How Being In Public Feels: Men VS Women

Jun 18

Women Now Empowered … GREAT ONION PIECE

http://www.theonion.com/article/women-now-empowered-by-everything-a-woman-does-1398

 

Jun 11

It’s a Boy, Peg Tittle

It was understandable, really.  By far, most of the crime— 97% in fact—was committed by men.  Prisons are expensive to build and maintain.  Prisoners are also expensive—they don’t work while they’re in prison, so we have to support them.  Then there’s the expense of the police forces and courts that get them there.  And the emergency services that take care of all the gunshot wounds, the knife slashes, the broken jaws…

 

She pushed.  And pushed.  The hospital room was white and sterile.  The attending doctor said something to the assisting nurse from time to time, but things seemed to be progressing normally.  But that didn’t mean it wasn’t excruciatingly painful.

Her husband mopped the sweat off her brow, and encouraged, and reassured.

“And push again,” the doctor said.

“It better be a girl,” she grunted as she pushed again when the wave of pain struck her.

“Don’t worry about that now, honey” her husband said.  “Just focus, you’re doing good…”

 

            Then there’s  all the environmental stuff.  All those beer cans, empty cigarette packs, fast food cartons—most of the litter along the highways was put there by men.  And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.  What are they driving on those highways?  Big cars and pick-up trucks.  Gas-guzzlers with high emissions.  And the companies that dump toxic waste, and clear cut forests, and dam river systems…?  All run by men.

 

“I want a girl,” she cried.  With exhaustion.  With worry.

“Oh come now,” the nurse said.  “Boys are harder, I know, had two of ‘em myself.  Holy terrors half the time, but you love ‘em just the same.”

“Another push— ”

 

            The insurance companies opened the door when they implemented higher premiums for men between the ages of sixteen and twenty-six.  They were the ones more likely to cause an accident.  Can’t argue with the facts and figures. 

 

“No, it’s not that,” she gasped, “It’s the money.

“Shh, honey, we’ll find a way, it’ll be all right,” he wiped her brow again.

“One more, I think—”

She gave one final push then fell back against the pillows, drenched, exhausted.  She waited anxiously for the announcement.

“It’s a boy!”
            They called it the Gender Responsibility Tax— a $5,000 surtax was levied on each and every male.  Payable annually, from birth to death.  By the parents, of course, until the boy reached manhood.  

 


(Thanks to June Stephenson.  It was her idea.)

Jun 06

Things they’ll never tell you about basketball — and sexism

 

 

Things they’ll never tell you about basketball – and sexism

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