Feminist, Uh, Friday–Women on Television

So I’m sneaking this one in at the eleventh hour, which is shameful for a variety of reasons, but mostly because I’m the one who suggested the Women on Television topic in the first place! Fifteen hours and counting until the link expires, but I can knock it out pretty quick. After all, I’ve been semi-composing this post in my head for almost an entire week.

And to think it all started on Twitter…

This is a link to the Feminist Friday hosting blog. Click it.

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Restaurants, Foodieism, Obesity, First-World Whining (My Own)

Yesterday, while chatting with my friend at the park about the need–again–to think up something for dinner that wasn’t sucky and wasn’t boring and wasn’t lame (I have the most trouble with vegetable dishes, and I was tired of frozen vegetables and leafy green salads), I had an Actual Thought about Society. I haven’t had one of these in a while, and I’m not sure why; maybe it’s because my exposure to news is so limited, or maybe because I am behind on my podcasts, but whatever it is, this Actual Thought sprang out of my head fully formed like the goddess Athena. It Made a Connect between seemingly disparate things, and even if there is absolutely no data available to support my thought, and it could be one of those random collections of observations that–should I be lucky enough–graduates to the status of Factoid and/or Urban Legend, I’ll be pleased.

I never did find any nice pictures to break up the wall of text that this blog post became, but I helpfully bolded key terms so you can skim the damn thing and more or less catch the gist of it. Meanwhile, enjoy this video clip that I promise is relevant.

The beauty of this is its simplicity. Once a plan gets too complex, everything can go wrong.

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Daphne Du Maurier and Memory Lane

Rebecca is one of my absolute favorite books. For realz and all that. It’s up there, in fact, with My Cousin Rachel, which is a book I haven’t read in a long time but which the mere typing the name of makes me long for. I have very fond memories of a book that I would swear is Du Maurier’s The Loving Spirit, although I can’t be sure; the scene I remember most vividly is not referred to in any book summaries I see online. (Note to self: reread this book.) I even remember Rule, Britannia on my parents’ bookshelf when I was in junior high or high school and read it (right around when I read The Moon Is Down by Steinbeck, neither of which I remember). And then I had the good fortune to end up with a roommate after college who liked reading and always ended up in thrift stores and used book shops, and we both had quite a Du Maurier thing going on for a while (Jamaica Inn!).

A few weeks ago, as friends do, we were talking about this and that and somehow a conversation got onto the topic of medieval England (probably via Game of Thrones, which she hasn’t watched), which led to The House on the Strand, a book we shared as roommates and read at least more than once each. Determined to be wowed all over again, and relive the glory days when we were hip girls about town living on the beach next to some really noisy people who were pathologically uncomfortable being alone (I’m looking at you, Kristen and Jeff from Felspar Street! You’re the one who really liked Dave Matthews and I’m the one with that ceramic candle holder that had two faces on it that were always staring at you…), I borrowed it from the library. When I went to retrieve it, another Du Maurier book I’d missed along the way–Mary Anne–was sitting right next to it on the shelf.


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Some Things I Did You Don’t Know About

1. I read Clash of Kings, the second installment of the Game of Thrones series by George R. R. Martin. I liked it while I was reading it, and I honest to goodness cannot tell you why or what I liked about it and I’d forgotten all about having read it. I had been really excited about more Danaerys because she was such a favorite character in the first book (and the first season of the HBO series), and I was very, very disappointed in her appearances. Also, there were like forty extra pages of appendix and excerpt material at the end of the book, and I was really sad when the book ended about forty pages earlier than I thought. I’d sort of hunkered down in a cozy place to finish out the book, and although it wasn’t a terrible ending, I was not prepared for my cozy reading evening to be interrupted like that.

2. I totally got tools out of the garage and busted into a bedroom that had locked and shut itself and drilled right right through the doorknob to get the damn thing opened. Nobody really knows when the door was locked on account of it having been latched into an open position, and unlatching the door to vacuum behind it set it free. While we were out, a cross breeze did us in. It wasn’t even one of those locks you could pop open from the outside with a tiny screwdriver or anything; this had tumblers and pins for some unfathomable reason). I mean, I can fathom why a door lock had tumblers and pins; I cannot fathom why a lock of this caliber had been installed on this door in the first place. It’s the other bedroom that has the wet bar in it. I cannot fathom why we didn’t replace this door knob when we replaced the door knob on the bathroom after the baby locked himself in it. (He played happily with the toilet paper the whole time I was removing the door knob.) I suppose we’d gotten used to the door being latched open (I was so sick of that door slamming shut in a room that had no need for privacy) that we’d just forgotten about it.

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Little Bee

By Chris Cleave

Why I Chose This Book

Book club book! But this time it’s one that we didn’t read for book club (we read Water for Elephants instead, which I reviewed already). It was my first choice, however, and so I put my name on the reserve list at the library for it. It was a long list, so it was just as well that I didn’t have a deadline, because it’s not a book I retrospectively would have been especially happy to own. If I have to own books, I want them big and fat and epic and take me at least a week to reread. This one does not fit those requirements.

Why I Chose Right Now to Review This Book

Book club is tonight, which means that we’re going to discuss some other title and then move our brains onto the next one, and I can already feel my thoughts about this one slipping away. It gets worse when they go back to the library before I write about them, too. Plus the kids are playing Legos and watching Dora and because book club is tonight thinking about dinner is not my problem, and I can take a shower later. Today, I write!

Nutshell Review of the Book

I liked it fine. How’s that? The three main characters (Sarah, Little Bee, Lawrence) were sympathetic enough, and the two secondary characters (Andrew and Charlie) did their job of being people triggering events that gave the main characters something to do. The locations were vivid in a way I don’t usually notice in books, and I won’t tell you what amazing secret the blurb on the cover begs readers not to spoil for others, but it was a dumb thing to say. It’s not a dumb secret, but it’s hardly some big reveal that upends your understanding of the whole book to that point. Kaiser Sose it ain’t. Actually, I’m not even sure what event in the book it’s supposed to refer to. Regardless, it’s a pretty good guarantee that readers will finish the book.

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More Women in Skepticism

I’ve started a new blog!

More Women in Skepticism: A Handy Guide to Addressing Sexism within the Ranks

I’ve started a blog to list strategies skeptics can employ to increase the number of women within the ranks. Each day I will post one recommendation that will hopefully provide insight into a woman’s experience within the skeptical movement and a suggestion for a behavior (either to engage in or refrain from) that skeptics can perform if they want more women working for their cause. I have found that it’s always easier to have a productive discussion if it is limited in scope, which my blog is. If all goes according to plan, it will be a space in which people can discuss a woman’s experience without hyperbole and derailment, and maybe open a few minds. I welcome comment and suggestions, especially from people who have experience recruiting members to organizations.

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Feminist Friday–How to Identify Sexism

It’s a handy guide!

So here I am with a self-imposed deadline of one hour and I desire to knock out some post on Feminist Friday instead of on Sunday, and because I’ve been caught up in “ElevatorGate” (Team Rebecca!), it seems like a good topic. But I don’t want to get into this whole big thing where I explain the situation again, or where I list my reasons for joining Team Rebecca (as far as I know, there’s not a real Team Rebecca–I’m just saying that), but I have spotted a point of confusion amongst the chatter and diatribes, and I want to clarify it. The skeptic and atheist communities are involved in a conversation that includes a description of said communities as sexist. It is distressing to many people within the communities that sexism is a possibility, including people on the receiving end of sexism and people who don’t want to think that their preferred behaviors are sexist even if they don’t intend them to be. The dialogue has included a lot of goofy assertions, too, and one whine in particular is repeated often:

So now feminists are telling men that it’s sexist to ask women out on dates. (Wah is unstated but implied.)

No, feminists are not telling men that it’s sexist to ask women on dates. It’s not sexist to ask women on dates. Find out why below!

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Ali and Nino

By Kurban Said

Why I Chose This Book

Book club book! It’s the one I voted for, actually, because I already had a copy of Dead Until Dark lying around the house that I know I’ll get to one day, and I didn’t really want to read The Distant Land of My Father because, well, I thought it was a memoir and was not in a memoir mood. I’ve since become more intrigued by it, but what can you do now?

Why I Chose Right Now to Review This Book

I started this review about a week ago, when I’d finished the book, but got distracted. Now I find out my book club friend hasn’t even gotten a hold of the book yet, and I’m loaning it to her tomorrow, and I figured I’d better write out my notes while I still had it around for reference, in case I needed to look up names and things. So much easier to open a book than dig info out of the Internet.

Nutshell Review of the Book

The story was pretty good to OK, but shines as an artifact. It was written in the 1930s as a historical novel set in the 19teens (right before WWI), in a specific geographic location: the intersection of Asia and Europe, in a town unsure of which continent was its primary influence. I was impressed with the diversity of locations and lifestyles presented in the book, and the style of the novel was easy to follow. The main character, Ali (a Muslim boy), was quite well fleshed-out, although everyone else was less so. It is called a “great romance” by the book cover blurbs, but, eh. Ali certainly has great love for Nino (a Christian girl), but we only get glimpses of her from his point of view. There is enough to suggest that she is a fully fledged person, but the reader doesn’t really experience her as a fully fledged character. She speaks up for herself often enough, but always to Ali, so what you get of her comes through his filter. You kind of have to trust him for why he’s so in love with her (besides the fact that he’s a young, rich son in love with his pretty, rich high school sweetheart whose parents consider them old enough to marry, which is the perfect set up for instant romance). And he does a lot of courageous things to be with her, so he’s really, really sincere, and he does think a lot about how she’ll react to plans he makes for them, which lets you know she speaks up for herself, but she’s not really in the book with us.

Long story short, your enjoyment of the novel will likely depend on your interest in this guy’s point of view, and your interest in the historical portrayal of a Eurasia populated by Muslims and Christians on the verge of war. Personally, I think the historical part is what the book has going for it. I did get pretty tired of Ali by the end.

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Feminist Friday–Creepy Behavior Is Creepy

Yes, I’m Going Rogue. The Transatlantic Blonde is on vacation, and without a deadline I got behind. True, it’s Sunday, but “Feminist Sunday” lacks a certain panache.  Besides, I didn’t really have a post topic specific enough to write about until basically today, and I was tired of glurging all over the computer. And then a few things that have been brewing in the skepticism movement about sexism and feminism bubbled to a pitch heated enough for me to actually sign in and comment on the Pharyngula blog and so I realized I did have some simple points to make about men and women and behavior in general.

Can't Help Being Creepy

At the end of this post is the wordy explanation for what convoluted path through the Internet inspired me to write today. Long story short, I am interested today in the simultaneous denial and justification of creepy behavior of men towards women, which is a topic I feel lends itself towards a numbered list.

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The Just-So Story of “Property Rights” and Anarcho-Capitalism

Now, I’m no philosopher, or political scientist, or student of history, or social activist, or self-editer, but I know how to type, and I have some free time, and Wikipedia is available, and I have some things on my mind that I need to express, and no one but my thirty daily readers (two regular!) to listen to my 1200-word glurge against Certain Political Theories put forth by Certain People in general, and triggered tonight by a report on what a Certain AM Talk Show Host said in particular, most of which I have already forgotten.

We get into these heated conversations, these Certain People and I, because They have chosen Anarcho-Capitalism as the Morally Correct Way to Live, and it creeps into conversations that are unrelated to politics, and then I get mad. I have many, many beefs with anarcho-capitalism, and I am not at all convinced it is a morally correct way to live, and it might even be silly, and it’s certainly never going to be a system that ever gets implemented in a society of any considerable size, and to get all hot and bothered about it not existing is a waste of time, but I’m unprincipled like that. Also, it’s boring and unimaginative, and that’s really beside the point. And I started to type out a paraphrased transcript of the dinner conversation, but that was also boring, and it ended up being mostly about “Property Rights.”

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