Monday, March 26, 2012

Things don't turn out quite as expected

I spent this weekend in London starting the second (and final) part of my BSL Level 3. The teaching was very good, the explanations were very good, they gave a lot of constructive criticism and I think by far it's one the best training providers I've enrolled with.  However I now feel like a complete dunce.  Partly because I've been given a lot of areas to improve.  Which is good, because without criticism you don't know you're going wrong and you can't improve.

But, I now have a lot of homework to do before next Saturday, which is the next training weekend, and a lot of things to consider and improve upon.  Apart from pre-scheduled posts, I probably won't be posting much.  Unless I decide to upload videos of myself signing, which won't be very interesting for any of you, because I don't think any of you know BSL.

Ah well, we'll see.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


Today is Ostara - the Spring equinox.  Usually on these days I write a little blurb about the festival and how I feel about it.  I remember last year I felt kind of odd around this time, and I wasn't entirely happy with my decorations.  They didn't feel right.  I wonder if it was because during my reading around the day nothing really jumped out at me.  Maybe it is because over the Spring/Summer months it seems like the festivals seem to come really thick and fast - Imbolc, Ostara, Beltane, Lithia and Lughnasa all seem to occur within a few weeks of each other.

Ostara is a Spring festival, by this point we are in full Spring mode.  But for me, Spring starts at Imbolc, and that makes me far far happier because I really dislike the cold winter months.  Having said that, it is now much lighter in the evenings and I get to walk home along the river and admire all the lovely daffodils.  That makes me smile.  I know that March is the time of the hare (native to the British isles, unlike the rabbit), but I so rarely get out into the countryside proper I haven't seen one in years.  This makes me sad.

Ostara is supposedly a day of balance - when the night and day are usually, but not always, of equal lengths, but I don't feel balanced, not like I do at the Autumn equinox.

Something about Ostara just doesn't agree with me, and I haven't worked out what it is.  Nonetheless, I am still celebrating, because everyone likes a celebration (I have another reason as well, but we'll get to that later!)  As I write this during Monday day I am planning what we are going to eat tonight.  On Sunday night I made rhubarb crumble so that will be pudding.  For mains I shall make pea and lemon risotto, braised leeks for the boyfriend, possibly quiche or possibly just hardboiled eggs (although some chickens lay in winter, most give up during the dark months and start laying eggs again around this time, eggs are also a traditional symbol of life and rebirth), beetroot dipped in salt, purple sprouting broccoli, grated carrot, fennel and green leaf salad.  Perhaps with a balsamic vinegar and olive oil dressing.  Possibly we'll start with cheese on biscuits.  We are going out tomorrow night, hence the celebratory dinner tonight.

As for other reasons to celebrate, one of my friends got married on Saturday and put on a fabulous day.  That is reason enough, but then on Sunday my sister gave birth to her first child!  It's a girl child, she's 2 weeks early but all are well.  I haven't seen her yet and won't do until Easter. L  I have seen photos and she looks tiny!  5lb 13oz - I think that's reasonable for a fresh child, especially considering my sister is tiny.  But the important thing is my sister and the kid are healthy and all went well.

Now that's a good reason to celebrate :D

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Super Silly Sunday

Must .... wear... specs!!!

No I will not give you the context for this.  Leave your ideas in the comments!

Friday, March 16, 2012

The all new Harley Quinn

Spoilers for Suicide Squad 7.
You know, I'm pretty sure the old Harley Quinn had agency. I've just Suicide Squad 7 and the new Harley was made by the Joker.  He pushed her (unwillingly) into a vat of the stuff that turned him white and she turned white skinned and blue/purple haired.  And most of her clothes (but not her underwear) were shredded.

I call bullshit.

As I write, twitter folk are reporting from Wonder Con that DC's answer to why Waller is now slimmed down, is due to diet and exercise.

Again, I call bullshit.

The old Waller didn't care about that shit.

Don't read Suicide Squad.  It's crappy and boring.  And sexist.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

I'm talking at Eastercon :)

Eastercon is the British National Science Fiction Convention, and it's happening over the Easter bank holiday weekend, at the Radisson hotel at Heathrow.

I volunteered to be on a panel discussing 'Comics outside the mainstream'.  There was a twitter conversation about the lack of women on convention panels, and I butted in exclaiming how terrible it was, and then one of the folk involved with the con looked at New readers... and well at that point I felt like I couldn't say no.  I really hope I don't make a twat out of myself or embarrass the the organisers or anyone.

Apparently we shall be discussing these questions:
What good comics are published outside the big two?
What is published on the web and outside mainstream publishing entirely?
Are comic creators increasingly moving to the freedom of publishing outside the major distributors?

George R R Martin and Paul Cornell will be there (not on my panel, well as far as I know they won't be on my panel, I can't imagine why they would be on the panel).

So, this thing is happening on the Sunday (8th April) at midday..

Is anyone in blog land attending?  If you are then come and listen to me gabble on!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Wonder Woman Wednesday


Oh my.  This gave me chills. especially the game footage.  ye Gods, she's a proper hero isn't she?

(found on DC Women Kicking Ass)

Monday, March 12, 2012

Abortion Laws in the States

So between twitter and the radio I've been hearing a lot about GOP, Santorum, Rush Limbaugh, abortion, contraception, trans vaginal scans and rape.  But I hadn't really paid much attention to it.  Until my Dad sent me this Doonesbury cartoon from today's Guardian newspaper.  Go click on the link, it won't allow me to post a clear picture of it here.

Pretty awful, no?

Then I read the part of the email where Dad said this cartoon had been banned in Texas.  I enquired if he was joking and he sent me this article which I shall cross post in it's entirety:

Doonesbury cartoonist Garry Trudeau has defended his cartoon strip about abortion, which several US newspapers are refusing to run, saying he felt compelled to respond to the way Republicans across America are undermining women's healthcare rights.
The strip, published on Monday and scheduled to run all week, has been rejected by several papers, while others said they were switching it from the comic section to the editorial page.
In an email exchange with the Guardian, Trudeau expressed dismay over the papers' decision but was unrepentant, describing as "appalling" and "insane" Republican state moves on women's healthcare.
About 1,400 newspapers, including the Guardian, take the Doonesbury cartoon. The Guardian newspaper is running the cartoon as normal on Monday.
The strip deals specifically with a law introduced in Texas and other states requiring a woman who wants to have an abortion to have an ultrasound scan, or sonogram, which will show an image of the foetus and other details, in an attempt to make her reconsider.
It portrays a woman who turns up at an abortion clinic in Texas and is told to take a seat in "the shaming room". A state legislator asks if she has been at the clinic before and, when she says she had been to get contraceptives, he replies: "Do your parents know you're a slut?"

Later, she says she does not want an intrusive vaginal examination but is told by a nurse: "The male Republicans who run Texas require that all abortion seekers be examined with a 10-inch shaming wand." The nurse adds: "By the authority invested in me by the GOP base, I thee rape."
The Kansas City Star is among the papers not running the cartoon in its normal slot. "We felt the content was too much for many of the readers of our family-friendly comic page," an editor told Associated Press. The Star will use a replacement strip offered by the organisation that syndicates Doonesbury, Universal Uclick, and move the abortion one to its editorial pages.
Sue Roush, managing editor of Universal Uclick, said: "I can't say how many papers will choose ultimately to run or not run the series, but we've had inquiries from 30 to 40 papers asking about the substitutes."
Abortion, contraception and other social issues have resurfaced in politics in recent weeks, partly because they have been highlighted by the Republican candidates in the presidential race. Conservative talk-show host Rush Limbaugh referred to a student giving evidence to a congressional hearing in support of contraception as "a slut".

Trudeau told the Guardian he thought the issue of reproductive freedom had been settled while he had still been at school: the supreme court 1973 ruling Roe v Wade, which removed restrictions on abortion.

Trudeau wrote: "Ninety-nine percent of American women have or will use contraception during their lifetimes. To see these healthcare rights systematically undermined in state after state by the party of 'limited government' is appalling. "In Texas, the sonograms are the least of it. The legislature has also defunded women's health clinics all over the state, leaving 300,000 women without the contraceptive services that prevent abortions in the first place. Insanity."
Trudeau is dismayed by the newspaper reaction. "I write the strip to be read, not removed. And as a practical matter, many more people will see it in the comics page than on the editorial page," he wrote.
"I don't mean to be disingenuous. Obviously there's some profit to controversy, especially for a satirist. If debate is swirling around a particular strip, and if its absence creates blowback, then I'm contributing to the public conversation in a more powerful way. But I don't get up in the morning and scheme about how to antagonise editors. Some of these folks have supported me for decades."
Asked about the use of the word "rape" to describe what was happening to women seeking abortions in Texas, he said it was perfectly apt for the compulsory insertion of an object into the vulva. "That falls within the legal definition of rape. Coercion need not be physically violent to meet the threshold. Many people here are now referring to trans-vaginal sonograms as 'state rape'. That seems about right to me," he wrote.
"However, if you just mean the topic of rape generally, it's not something I would avoid simply because I work on a page where children can occasionally be found. People know what to expect in Doonesbury. Certainly children do, which is why they never read it. And editors have long known what they're getting; I first wrote about rape in the late '70s, devoting an entire week to a mock rape trial."

The Texas governor Rick Perry, who dropped out of the Republican presidential candidates race in January, signed the abortion measure into law in May 2010.

His press spokeswoman, Catherine Frazier, asked about the Doonesbury strip, said: "The decision to end a life is not funny. There is nothing comic about this tasteless interpretation of legislation we have passed in Texas to ensure that women have all the facts when making a life-ending decision."

Scary, no?  Then I read this article about a 15 year old child facing imprisonment for 'depraved heart murder' - or miscarrying at 36 weeks because she took coke.

What?  How is anyone taking this seriously?  How can you jail a child for miscarrying? How can you jail anyone for miscarrying?  What next, we jail women because they don't eat enough greens or take enough supplements during pregnancy?

I feel sick.  These are hate laws, pure and simple, directed at women.  If these people actually wanted to reduce the number of abortions they'd provide free contraception to every woman and girl of child bearing age.  They would educate children about consent, and healthy sex, and contraception.  But they don't do this because they actually just seek to slut shame and control women's bodies and pass judgement from nigh on high above, where they will never ever ever have any idea what it is like to be pregnant, bear a child or bring one up.  They have no idea about women's lives and they have absolutely nor right to try and control 51% of the population.

I am disgusted.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Super Silly Sunday

Adventure Comics 416 was also brilliant.  I'm sure you're all very surprised to hear me say that ;)

Introducing - devil girl!

An uncontrollabel desire to do evil eh??   I love exposition!

On a less silly note, the thought and imagination put into these stories, when they didn't have to preetend to adhere to science, and coudl do any sort of zany thing they wanted, gave us great worlds and great stories.

A waterfall on a meteorite!
A desert of burning hands!
Satan swallows!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

The best part of Smallville Season 10

Me and a friend resumed our Smallville Season 10 marathon yesterday.  This was by far the best part:


Doesn't Ollie look like this gender bent Power Girl?  Or I am just focusing on the blonde buffness?

Damn it's nice to see some male totty!

Friday, March 09, 2012

Aquaman 6

Walking home from work today I had a brainwave.  You know those moments when things suddenly seem startlingly clear and you can't imagine why you didn't understand them before?  Well it was one of those moments, about Aquaman 6 and the role of women, specifically strong women, in comics.

Then about 40 seconds later I lost the thread of it and now I don't think I can articulate what the thought was.  So like me.  Anyway I shall have a go.  Aren't you all astonishingly lucky?  No.  Ahem.

Right, what I was thinking was, although I did like Aquaman 6, and felt the spirit of the sisterhood* cheering Mera on within me, and yes it was gratifying to see her break the man's arm (who was harassing her and had been harassing his staff member), I wondered why is it that to prove a woman is strong, or kick ass, we so often see her beating up a rapist or other man about to commit a sexual assault?

It's like when we consider how to make a woman strong, we think we have to show her doing something related to women's issues.  And we only understand women's issues as domestic violence and sexual assault.

I mean, when we see Batman or Green Lantern proving their bad assery it's because they've taken on an army and beat them, or Darkseid, or the Joker or someone like that.   But women get to deal with bastard men, or if they're lucky bastard supervillains who want to rape them.

It's like we can only ever associate or understand women as being merely bodies that are there for use by someone more powerful than them, but we know that's wrong, so we try to show women as breaking away from this (as a critique of it) but we can only  do so in a framework that reinforces that women are just bodies.  Because gods forbid we show a woman using her mind, or facing off against a bad guy that doesn't want to rape/abuse her or one of her sidekicks/female stranger on the street/female acquaintance.

Damn, I wish I'd retained that moment of clarity.

Now, part of me is saying that hang on, not all women are shown like this. Some are shown in the same way as men are.  Another part of me is going, yes but that doesn't count when the artwork reinforces them as being only bodies (and not minds) and encourages the reader to view them in terms of their bodies only.

Yet another part of me (I'm positively splintered tonight) says but women heroes also prove their heroicness by saving children!  That's not to do with their bodies!  and then the other (sixth?) part of me says yes but children are seen as coming under women's sphere of influence, as the domestic and the familial, so of course children fall under women's province of saving.

Does any of this make any sense?

*this isn't strictly true.  I don't believe in a sisterhood, but you get the general idea, right?

Thursday, March 08, 2012

International Women's Day!

To celebrate, have a delightful picture of the women of the DCU.

I think it's a really neat caricature showing various DC heroines personalities.
I have no idea where I found it or who did it though.  If anyone can enlighten me, leave a comment!
Happy International Women's Day everybody!

Making Jay Garrick's costume

So I promised you a post on how I made my Jay Garrick costume (see here and here if you haven't already).
EDIT- eek, I realised I hadn't credited the blog which gave me a start on working out how to make it!  Anyway, the blog in question is Speed Force and the 2 blog posts in particular are this one and this one.  I didn;t end up following their method, but it was certainly good food for thought.

First off, the costs.  I may as well round up from the previous post as well. 
T-shirt - already owned, as a birthday present.
The boots - bought from ebay for £2.42 plus £2,50 postage.
The jeans - bought from New Look for £25.99
The hat - bought from ebay for £9.95 plus £3.75 postage.
The spray paint for the hat - £4.55, from a local DIY shop.
The primer, to prepare the hat for the spray - £8.53
The fimo - to make the wings, £4.30 from a craft shop
The acrylic gold paint - to paint the wings, £1,75, from a craft shop.
Black canvas skater belt - £4
Lightning bolt charms, to glue onto the belt - £2.20

Glue, to attach the wings to the hat and charm to the belt - £1.80

Gold feather charms, for general decoration, bought from ebay, £0.99 plus £0.85 postage (not used in the end).
Leather belt - £5.99 (also unused)

So, £79.57 in total.  Eek.  Good thing I didn't buy it all at once.  Or add it up before.

First I looked for the jeans and boots.  Jeans I finally got from Next, after trying several on from New Look, getting stuck in some (very embarrassing), ordering the wrong ones from the shop and then returning them.  It all turned out OK though, because the pair I ended up getting from Next had belt loops round the top of the jeans, not on the hips, and were, I feel a better colour and fit.

The boots I bought off ebay very cheaply.  They arrived in gold condition with little kitten heels.  I was going to save them for the con but then ended up wearing them to work for one day, by which point the heels were ground down and, well, fucked.  But that's OK, because they should really be flat anyway!  By the midday the left boot's sole, which had been glued on in the manufacturing process, was half off, but it did end up lasting the day, just.  I shall see about getting them resoled to last.  I quite like them and re-soleing will be cheaper than buying new boots.

I ended up not trying to do wings for the boots, because a) I couldn't figure out how to effectively attach wings to the boots, b) I wanted to wear them again, c) I'd feel silly later in the day, away from the con, wearing winged boots and d), I was scared about making them and worried they'd go wrong.
I decided having un-winged boots was OK as jay doesn't always wear winged boots (thank you artists!).

The belt I only remembered 2 weeks before the con.  This left me with a bit of a problem, because the shops round where I live don't sell black leather belts with plain rectangular buckles.  So I found this on ebay:
It's perfect!  I thought I'd just need to get a lightning bolt engraved onto it (cost would be about £15) and It would be good to go.  Plus, I'd then get a really cool belt to wear at other times.
Unfortunately it didn't look like it was going to arrive in time, so I bought a very similar belt, but made out of canvas, not leather, from the local market and stuck a lightning bolt charm on it.  Et voila:

Yes I know the text on the buckle isn't accurate, but I had to make do, OK?

Because the buckle was slightly curved the charm fell off at some point during the day.  Nevermind, I will be getting the leather belt engraved with a lightning bolt symbol anyway.

I already had the T-shirt so nothing needed doing there.  I considered buying a long sleeved red undershirt but decided I'd be perfectly happy going as the summer style Jay.

Now the hat!  I got it from ebay.  I searched for 'World war 1 Tommy replica helmet' and it came up.
I took the straps off, then sprayed the underside and topside with primer over a couple of days.  The top side got 2 coats, the underside got 1 coat.  I did this in the shed each morning and left the hat in there all day to dry, taking it in the house at night.

However, due to low temperatures in the weather, parts of the primer looked like they crystallised a bit. Once I'd sprayed 2 coats on the outside of the helmet and 1 coat on the underside, you really couldn't tell any problems though.  Although you could tell that little bits of dirt etc had got caught in the paint as it was a bit bumpy.  I think it could have done with some sort of finishing paint, as it is now covered in fingerprints and hints of paint came off on my fingers during the day.

Then I started on the wings.  Well, my boyfriend did.  He cut out paper templates for the wings.  We decided on sharped edged wings over Jay's traditional wings because it would be easier to cut out and craft.  Dan rolled out the fimo and used a craft knife to cut the shapes out.  Et voila:
Once cut, he used a thin stick, like a chopstick, to carve grooves into the wings, like so:

As you can see, they aren't fully correct Jay wings, but I liked the angularness.  I think it fits with the lightning bolt theme and the zippy fastness of the Flash.  We left them to airdry overnight.  2 days later we noticed they hadn't dried flat and instead had a slight curve, thankfully, the non-scored sides were the concave sides (whew).

I used gold acylic paint, soluble in water, to paint the wings.  They came out nice and shiny.  One point to remember - if you use paint that's soluble in water, make sure your paintbrush is dry before applying a second coat of paint.  Eek. It turned out OK, but I was a bit concerned for a while.  Here are the finished wings:
Then we had to glue them onto the hat.  We didn't use superglue, we used epoxy resin.  The boyfriend thought it would be better than superglue.  I went along with him.

We decided to place the wings a little way above the hat brim.  We put glue on the bottom inside of the wings, the handle like bits below the main body of it, and held the wings in place for 6 minutes (as instructed on the packet).  Then we noticed that they were slipping, so held them in place again for a further 5 minutes, at which point they were properly attached.  Here's a view of the hat from the front.
The next morning the wings were still in place (whew, I was so relieved), and this is a picture of the helmet from side on:
I think it looks fricking awesome.  The wings stayed on all day until I put the helmet in a bag (n the evening, after the con), then one came off, but it is still in one piece so will be glued on again at a later date.

I put the straps back on the hat as I wasn't sure how well it would stay on.  As it turned out, the helmet jammed on my head pretty well (when I'd put my hair back in a bun) but did end up a jaunty angle for the afternoon.  I tucked the straps under the helmet, above my head, so you couldn't really see them.

And this is the finished thing:

And as I write this I have just seen Jay's new costume in the nu52.  Oh my gods it is awful.  Jay, well Jay had style.  He was unpretentious.  He dressed simply and traditionally to get the job done.  Ok, so the hat is flashy (pun not intended), but Jay is a man of the old school and he'd know the historical/mythic connotations of the hat (I have no idea if there is an in canon explanation of the hat, but that's my theory).  He has integrity, and honesty and loyalty and dedication and his costume reflects that.  It's old fashioned (those high jeans!0 but he's old fashioned.

This new costume isn't him.  There's no style, no character, the headgear is fucking ridiculous and the ribbed part on the top are pointless.  It's awful.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Wonder Woman Wednesday

Erica Durance as Lois as Wonder Woman on Smallville.

I have all sorts of love for this.

I have no more WWW posts lined up!  Gonna have to find some more...

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

One Stop Shopping for language interpreters does not work

I recently read this post, found here, which makes me despair, and worry about my career plans for being a BSL terp.

Argggghhh.  As follows:


Outsourcing or One Stop Shops. Words that strike fear into the heart of the Sign Language Interpreter. A word that means the work that they previously did direct or though one agency for a council, a hospital or a court now has to go through a larger spoken language agency.

This seems nonsensical to the jobbing interpreter, but ultimately makes sense to the statutory organisation. The logic or process goes like this: we use many interpreters for many different languages. British Sign Language (BSL) is a language. Our staff do not know how to book interpreters so we will employ an organisation who can do this for us. We will save money by employing an agency to cover our interpretation and translation needs (which will include those difficult to source sign language interpreters)…

We will go through a lengthy procurement process where agencies will try to outbid each other to win a contract at a unit price that is ultimately unsustainable. Organisation will expect said agencies to put something in their tender about quality but really it is tokenism for we will only be awarding a contract on the basis of costs. We will award contract to cheapest provider regardless…

Spoken language agency will not understand how to source a BSL interpreter and will sub-contract a specialist agency. They will think they can pay BSL interpreter the same as a spoken language interpreter and when they start the contract will get a big shock. Specialist BSL agency eventually agrees to reduced price sub-contract as all previous work they did is now being outsourced to spoken language agencies who have little understanding of deaf people and BSL interpreters. Specialist BSL agency still wants to survive in market where they get less work. BSL agency asks BSL interpreter to work for less fees. BSL interpreter, if accepting fees, finds they are working for a lot less than before. BSL interpreter is then providing profit for two separate contracts. BSL interpreter considers leaving the profession as they can not survive as an interpreter and must consider another career. Deaf people get less experienced and maybe unregistered interpreters as a result.

Time for a real life example… One of the biggest culprits is Language Empire and Remark Interpreting. Language Empire has a contract to provide interpreting for ATOS. ATOS has the contract for the Government’s Department of Work and Pensions medical assessments. ATOS carry out assessments to decide if the claimant should be allowed incapacity benefit or if they are fit to work. There are problems for disabled people in general with these assessments. MPs themselves have stated the assessments are flawed. The ATOS machine rumbles on… so who do they employ to do the interpreting? Language Empire. An agency who is so ignorant of BSL it calls it British Special Language. The images of hands on its ‘BSL’ page are not of any recognisable signs and they state they have ‘special disability interpreters’. Nobody actually knows what this means. Their webpage has caused BSL interpreters much mirth but complete dismay at their ignorance.

The worst is yet to come. A deaf-led agency has now started to sub-contract for Language Empire. At least the RNID (now Action on Hearing Loss) when sub-contracting for The Big Word stood up for BSL interpreters and helped The Big Word understand the BSL interpreting profession. This organisation has done nothing for interpreters or the deaf community it proposes to serve. They continue to try to source BSL interpreters at greatly reduced cost for what it’s contractors call British Special Language. This particular agency states one of their aims as supporting and enhancing the lives of Deaf, hard of hearing and blind individuals.’ I don’t think so.

Meanwhile we hear of regular reports of yet another council, organisation or government department outsourcing or looking for a ‘one stop shop’. When the agency is not reputable, the cost to the organisation generally remains the same but the quality drops off. With BSL usually representing something around 2% of a contract, the interpreter or deaf person loses out. What used to cost an organisation £100 – £160 per booking average direct, now costs the same or worse (Freedom of Information requests by interpreters show this to be the case due to sub-contracting).

The fact costs have barely been saved is not important. It’s the ramifications to the profession and subsequently deaf people that matters. Spoken language agencies generally do not understand the NRCPD registration system for sign language interpreters. These agencies are more likely to employ someone with level 1 or 2 in sign language (equivalent to a GCSE or A Level in French) thinking this is acceptable. It may be if we were native BSL users but as interpreters, by the nature of the job, we are mostly people that can hear, and we tend to have English as our first language. Therefore, most people with a basic qualification in BSL do not have enough fluency to interpret anything but someone buying a cup of coffee much less a medical appointment. Would you try to interpret consent for an operation to a French man if you had GCSE French?

Every qualified registered interpreter has been to an appointment where the deaf person said but that’s not what the interpreter said last week. Take the case recently of an elderly deaf man who thought he was having a minor operation on his shoulder. The hospital had provided an ‘interpreter’ the week before to sign the consent forms. When the registered interpreter arrived a week later the patient was shocked to discover he would be having a a major operation that day under general anaesthetic. What will it take to stop this… A malpractice lawsuit? A death? Rumour has it that already happened but unless someone actually does anything about it, the government outsourcing machine continues, the big agencies profit and deaf people lose out.

Monday, March 05, 2012

Dc: redefining Captain Marvel to be grim


Captain Marvel, one of the few sueprheores that is really about unbridled childhood joy.  Now he's grim and moody and snarly.  I've written about Captain marvel over at New readers...start here!.  I'd hoped he and his family would be revived, as more childhood fun, with no angst, just innocence.  But oh no.  everything's gotta be grim and moody.


I'm really having an awful monday.

Boys look at things and girls look at faces

I am fuming. This is partly due to eating badly and drinking too much over the weekend, partly due to stupid comments from otherwise intelligent people, and partly due to my own stupid reactions about baby clothes. Let me explain.

You see, this weekend my mum and I organised a surprise baby shower for my sister (who’s due in 1 month!). Miraculously we got to the day, and the minute she walked in to the house without her knowing anything about it, (plus points to everyone involved). It all went well, she opened and like the gifts, sandwiches and cake, and was genuinely surprised and touched by and happy by everyone who had made the effort to be there.

The talk all afternoon (well, for the 2 hours of the party) was of babies, and labour, and pregnancy, which I probably shouldn’t have been surprised about, but I was kind of hoping we’d be having other conversations too, alas, apparently not. I think that people, mostly women, tend to have something in their brain that just switches when they meet a heavily pregnant lady, and all they can talk about is babies. Anyway, baby talk is fine, if a little dull. That doesn’t matter, it wasn’t for me, it wasn’t about me and my sister had a great time, which is the important thing.

What really annoyed me was the talk of baby clothes – you know, how difficult it is to buy things when you don’t know the sex of the child, and of the differences between male and female babies. Someone actually said that that ‘boys look at things and girls look at faces’. Another one was ‘you’ve got to get them in the right clothes or they won’t know what they are’. I could have screamed. These are otherwise intelligent women. Why does their reasoning faculties short circuit when it comes to babies?

I’m not denying that male and female children act differently, but they act differently because of how we, parents, wider family, and society, bring them up. And of all the stupid things to say, boys look at things and girls look at faces....

Now I’ve heard the maxim many times that goes ‘if you don’t challenge sexism and oppression then you are as bad as the oppressors and the sexists’ and I take very great umbrage at this. Sometimes it’s not possible, safe or polite to challenge people’s views. If I’m out late at night, drunk, and I hear other drunk people shouting at someone else for being a queer, if I were to challenge this I’d probably get lamped. If I had challenged these stupid gender essentialist views at the baby shower It would have been very rude. If you challenge every single thing that you hear that perpetuates oppression you’ll become a sanctimonious old windbag with no friends.

So, I didn’t say anything, I stayed silent and groaned inwardly.

Reflecting on how folk at the party were talking about clothes etc led me to think again about how I viewed baby clothes. I’ve always thought that it would be easy for me to buy clothes for a little un – I just don’t buy pink for a girl or blue for a boy. Because I’m contrary I’d be happy buying the opposite colours, or neutral ones, but I for sure wouldn’t buy pink for girls and blue for boys. Then on my hunt for baby clothes I found myself thinking in terms of gendered clothes, and only wanting to buy ‘gender appropriate’ things. I’m so cross at myself. I discovered that I felt ok buying clothes with trucks and stuff on for a girl (well ok-ish, I consider trucks very boring and would rather buy something with dinosaurs on, but you know what I mean), but when I considered buying something cute with flowers, or ladybirds on, I found myself thinking ‘but what if it’s a boy?’ I try to fool myself into thinking that it’s cause I don’t know how the parents (my sister and brother in law) will feel about having their (possible) boy child in ‘girly’ clothes, but let’s be honest, it’s not them, it’s me thinking this way.

Ugh. I’m reminded of another quote – ‘it’s easy to bring up your girls like boys, but it takes real courage to bring up your boys like girls’. It appears that I blanche from encouraging boys to be like girls, and I’m so cross with myself for thinking in this way.

All in all this has led to me having a particularly shitty Monday as I fume about all the genderised shit in the world.

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Super Silly Sunday

Adventure Comics 387 had  LOT of sillness in it.
She drank some sort of serum - a kryptonite antidote - and got all hairy.  Naturally she's devastated and can't be seen in public.  So Superman decides to help.  I really can't remember where he got the lizard scientist from.
 They need to find the precise opposites of the ingredients in the original serum.  Uh huh.  But never fear, there's a great silver age solution!

I love these things.

Friday, March 02, 2012

Perfect, perfect comic panel

Perfect colour,s perfect motion, perfect perspective, perfetc layout, pefect design.


Found on Slay, Monstrobot of the Deep!

Thursday, March 01, 2012

If Black Women Were White Women

I found this on tumblr recently and I found it a really really interesting read.  I can't get to the original post so I'll give you the tumblr link where I read it.
In “If Men Could Menstruate,” Gloria Steinem makes the persuasive argument that “Whatever a ‘superior’ group has will be used to justify its superiority, and whatever an ‘inferior’ group has will be used to justify its plight.”

For too long the definition of racism has been a fight between white and black manhood or “who’s the bigger man”, so to speak. We’ve trivialized the existence of gender between both groups of men in favor for discussion of the “bigger issue”.

This has historically enabled white female supremacy—the most unchallenged form of white supremacy—to escape any critical thought.

What if suddenly, instantly, the power of white femininity were transferred to black women?

The answer is clear: Black women would represent value, purity; and based on their natural traits would be worthy of protection and instantly become the objects of universal desire. White women would represent the opposite.

“Beauty tar potion” would become globally popular to get the “black look.” “Dove” would be replaced with a black soap called “Raven” to help exfoliate the skin and bring out subtle hints of melanin.

White female features would be declared violent. Their “jagged” thin lips, “knife sharp” noses, and “harsh” jaw lines would be nature’s way of expressing why men have a natural preference for the soft features of black women. Soft lips, soft cheekbones, and soft, round noses would be proof of natural femininity. Full, pink lips and large, dark eyes would become associated with virginal black girls whose purity must not be compromised. Black female features would thus be said to represent youth.

Straight, blond hair would be considered “wild and unruly” because when the wind blew, it did not stay in place. Women with naturally straight hair would hide their “unruly” and “wild” stick-straight hair in public. The desire for “lightweight hair” that defied gravity would permanently end the use of blow dryers. Keeping one’s natural blond hair wild and straight would become indicative of a political statement.

The anti-aging properties of black female skin combined with soft, curvy bodies would be proof of the overall reproductive health of black women. Scientists would argue that black women were naturally preferred as long term mates and mothers because they were “healthier.” Men’s attraction to women is based on overall health and fertility, after all.

Suddenly, biracial women would be “in” because the hard features of white women wouldn’t prevent the fragile genes of “black beauty” from peeking through. Men would suddenly have the desire to date “ethnic,” non-black women since they would look “closer to black” than blond women—at least they wouldn’t look like white women.

Statistics would equate the fact that white women make up the majority with their “overpowering” and “strong” population. This would be proof that they could handle unsafe neighborhoods. The “strong culture” they would have created amongst themselves would enable them to withstand their lack of protection from predators and criminals. Statisticians would argue that men were attracted to black women innately because they made up a small percentage of the population. “We tend to value what is rare,” they might say.

Men would proclaim that white women deserve sexual objectification because “flat buttocks” allow for deeper penetration. In ghettos across America, men would stand on street corners and yell “Damn! You got a flat ass!” to remind white women of their sexual status in society.

Upper class women would be afraid that their “asses looked flat” since it would represent animalistic and sexual deviance, like white women. Black women’s buttocks, said to protrude farther from the body, would prove that their natural vulnerability made them “less equipped” to handle hardcore sex and rape like white women could.

“I need a strong white woman!” would become a popular “empowering” slogan for exploitative men who rationalized the emotional, financial, and sexual overburdening of white women.

Overweight white nannies would become the “acceptable white women” in popular culture as they do not pose a threat to black female superiority and privilege. Conventionally attractive white women would serve as a sexual threat to black women for single-handedly breaking down the beauty hierarchy.

Hip hop videos would feature men throwing money at “white bitches” bent over in front of the camera to showcase their white asses, eager for deep penetration. Entire songs would be devoted to hatred of “white gold digging bitches” who believed that they were entitled to the financial security in marriage to which black women were entitled. “Penetrable white asses” and “pale-faced hoes” would become the cash commodity for selling entire musical genres.

White women’s “hard” bodies would be deemed more “capable” of fighting off sexual attackers, while the soft curves of black female bodies would become worthy of police protection. White women, despite being at high risk of being victimized by violence and sexual crimes, would not “need” police protection.

Movies would feature black women as the main objects of men’s desire across racial lines while stereotypes of evil, bitter, and oversexed white women would further prove why men of all races simply did not prefer blonds. “We can’t help those to whom we’re attracted,” men would say. “Preference” would become an unconcealed acceptance of discrimination against white women. White women’s anger towards and sadness about the status quo would show their unreasonable jealousy of the innate superiority of black women.

Republicans would ban abortions to protect the virtue of pure, black motherhood and liberals would advocate increasing the number of abortion clinics in “low income” neighborhoods where white women would be the majority. Liberals would claim that white women had “culturally” approved of sexual objectification and were “safe enough” without outside help since they were warned not to touch “in-group issues” with a ten foot pole.

And so on and so forth.

The most important reality is that black feminists would eventually grow tired of being seen as innocent and vulnerable in patriarchy and would fight to erase the commodity of black femininity. “The innocent, submissive, and vulnerable representation of women is what puts us in danger. The rigid category of femininity has contributed to our oppression,” they might argue.

In the back of every black feminist movement we would hear the quiet and dignified pleas of radical white feminists. “But, we do not represent femininity. We are considered strong, incapable of feeling pain, and sexually deviant—but all this has done is increase our likelihood of being in danger. And aren’t we women too?”

As Gloria Steinem wrote, “In short, the characteristics of the powerful, whatever they may be, are thought to be better than the characteristics of the powerless - and logic has nothing to do with it.”

What remains universally evident is that the many justifications for power and privilege are always inherent, always scientific, and always permeate society to the point that they remain deeply buried within our collective consciousness.

Until someone challenges them.