Archives for category: Gender and Sexuality

Movies shape our view of the world. We are socialized not just by our parents and peers, but by the stories we consume, and movies are one of the most predominant storytellers of our current era. This makes the content of films of paramount importance. We can learn courage and determination from John McClane. We can learn responsibility from Spider-Man. We can learn about changing the world from Neo. Our virtues are shaped by the heroes we learn to emulate, since the very practice of storytelling puts the protagonist on a pedestal. A generation growing up on anti-heroes is likely to be as cynical and morose as their paragons, learning that these are admiral qualities to embody.

Rick

Rick is genuinely a bad and miserable person. The show is quite clear on that. Fans struggle to emulate against him rather than from him because of the nature of the protagonist pedestal. Similar things can be said of Bojack Horseman. I know these are TV shows. Shut up.

SJWs seem to be aware of this, and so a new spat of movie trends throw women and ethnic minorities into the protagonist role, allowing these demographics to see a hero that they can relate to. This then allows black youths to learn responsibility from Miles Morales rather than Peter Parker. We now have Katniss Everdeen to teach us how to be fearless, and Melissa McCarthy to teach us how to bust ghosts.

This seems to anger some people. Those who think that women can’t bust ghosts or that black youths can’t be responsible decry this new trend as ruining film. There are those who, regardless of quality, think that these kinds of movies just shouldn’t even be made. Soon, films won’t have white men at all, and it’ll be the great replacement all over again! It’s that cancer Feminism running amok once more!

Ghostbusters

What’s next? A remake of Leprechaun with a female leprechaun!? UNACCEPTABLE! Leprechauns can’t be female!

Let’s take a deeper look at our lessons from these common tropes. We might learn to be responsible, but it’s a responsibility to our tribe at the exclusion of the Other. We might learn courage, but it’s a courage to defend the normal rather than a courage of standing up as someone different. We might learn to change the world, but if we’re changing it into an exact copy of what has come before, this type of change is more an enforcement of the status quo rather than its repudiation.

Is this trend truly feminist? Carol Gilligan, a notable feminist, would likely disagree. All of our ethical systems since the ancient Greeks have been philosophized by men. And not just any kind of men, but men who grew up in societies that did not care about women at all. This means that these ethical systems that they devised were not informed by the situations of women whatsoever. Gilligan decided to ask the question, what if we considered women when thinking of ethical systems? Thus arose the ethics of care.

The ethics of care is born in contrast to what is typically called the ethics of justice. The ethics of justice represent systems of ethics that see moral situations in objective terms. There is a right answer, whether that rightness is determined deontologically or consequentially, and that right answer is determined in the abstract. The ethics of care seeks to find rightness is the salvaging of relationships, of meeting needs, and existing in concrete situations that are determined by the individuals and the relationships they share. While Gilligan does not dismiss the intentions of justice, she does seek to imbue care into that system in order to incorporate women’s perspectives into the ethical discourse.

in a different voice

This is coming from a book, one of the least predominant storytellers of our current era.

If this is a feminist ethic, then very few of these movies are actually feminist at all. The latest Terminator movie (Dark Fate) perfectly encapsulates this distinction. The villain is literally an unfeeling machine that will not stop. Regardless of how many Hispanic women you throw into this movie, it is a film defined by a relationship that cannot be repaired. Patriarchal ethics exist in a Manichean dichotomy that pits absolute, rigid and uncompromising evil against absolute (though occasionally nuanced) good. Feminist ethics cannot exist in this universe because the way the villain is written. If these kinds of stories are what shape our virtues, when we look at our universe, it is much easier to see our own antagonists as dogmatically inflexible monsters who cannot be bargained with. What this means is that Doctor Strange is actually more feminist than the 2016 Ghostbusters film because it conceives of a solution wherein the villain (after some degree of coercion, sure) settles their score through a dialogue. The villainy of the ghosts allows no such relationship.

The socialization that these kinds of films are expanding is actually patriarchal in nature. They indoctrinate their viewers into an ethic of domination, of a good guy with a gun ultimately crushing a bad guy with a gun, but now the good guy can be a good black woman with a gun. Those angry with these films correctly assert that they are propaganda, as all stories are propaganda for the ideology that underlie them, Die Hard as much as Into The Spider-Verse, it’s just that the propaganda isn’t feminist.

Post-Script: For those who read the title and expected a listicle, and still made it this far, congratulations on your attention span!

We all know what words mean, right? They mean whatever it says next to them in the dictionary. This definition is agreed upon by professional dictionary writers which must be the objective truth, because, as we all know, there is never any debate, disagreement, or human error within academic bodies. The divine wisdom of these truth-holders means that the dictionary definition is more infallible than the Pope. Dictionary writers are ordained by God to give the final decree on language, and that’s why language is static and unchanging.

Except words are just the socially agreed upon tags that we attribute to concepts. Like a “river” for instance, is still called a river whether it floods, dries out to a trickle, is polluted to the point where the H2O is barely detectable within it, or whether it changes course entirely. The make-up of a thing barely impacts what we call it, unless we possess an alternative concept like that of a canal, in which case a river just needs some specific minor changes (like some walls and human direction), and voila! It’s no longer a river. Or if it remained a trickle for too long, we might start calling it a stream because we have a word for that concept too. We might use adjectives to convey the connection between multiple concepts, a “flooded” “river” is still not a “lake.” Our history with a concept will alter our viewpoints as well. An old timer who remembers the stream when it once was a river might still have an understanding of it as a river, while a newcomer might think the old timer is simply delusional. A stream is a stream!

literally

Until enough people decide that it means “figuratively“, and then it means “figuratively,” and there is literally nothing you can do about it.

This brings us to language as it is applied within the LGBT community. Wouldn’t you know it, there just so happens to be a debate around the definition of words: like marriage! If you believe that “marriage” is defined as being between a man and a woman, then gay marriage becomes a nonsensical concept. A triangle is defined as having three sides, and along comes these degenerates who think that it can have four? Linguist Willard Quine tells us that human language in a community is like a collection of sculpted plants. Even if they all look the same on the outside, the branches and twigs on the inside that make up the sculpture will be different in every instance. How we learn our language shapes our understanding of that language, and even if we have a pragmatic functionality that allows us to get by in day to day conversation, those differences can create problems.

If marriage is defined not as between a man and a woman, but instead as being a loving relationship between two people that is recognized as legitimate by its having legal validation, then not only is gay marriage entirely reasonable, it is positively oppressive for them not to be able to access it. Of course, this definition eliminates polyamorous relationships from being recognized as legitimate, as well as defining legitimacy as something that the state applies through legal policy. Do I really need the government to tell me that my love is real???? How we define things has real world social implications beyond just conversational understanding.

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I asked him, “when?” and he told me, “After the midterm elections, baby. I promise!”

When I have a concept, and you have a concept, and we use the same word to describe both our contradictory concepts, then yeah, there are going to be problems. This can be solved by either changing the socially accepted definition of the word, which involves changing society around the word, or it involves inventing a new word (like “canal”) to accommodate the minor changes in concept. I have actually heard an argument saying that gays should have the same legal relational rights as straights, but that their relationships should just be called something else. Unfortunately, the history of a concept and its legitimacy can’t just be erased like that. If there was “married” and “gay married,” you can guess it would follow the same “separate but equal” treatment of water fountains. There are certainly instances where new terms are required for new concepts (it is unlikely there was any controversy when the term “canal” was introduced), but when it comes to forcing whole categories of people into a term they never agreed to, then you’re creating bigger problems than semantics.

Another perfect example is gender. What is a “woman”? Is a woman someone who was born with the XX chromosome? Is a woman someone who looks and behaves like a woman? Is a woman someone who feels like a woman, regardless of how she was born or how she looks and behaves? Two people can be talking about women and may never discover that their definitions are incompatible. Branches within a sculpted plant, remember. How we define “woman”, however, is going to have a distinct social impact on transgendered human beings. Cisgender, the term, was coined only recently because there was seen a need for a new concept. For those who believe that gender is related to birth sex, the term is unnecessary, or even offensive because they do not see the need for a conceptual distinction. This shows the difficulty of introducing new terms because all of society needs to accept the distinction.

canal

I’m sorry, but this is a RIVER because even if you dress it up, it’s still made up of H2O! Facts don’t care about your feelings, libtards.

What is a woman? We could always have a distinction between “woman” and “transwoman,” right? Who cares? We’re just hashing out concepts, and in the end, the definition doesn’t really matter all that much because human society can just adapt. The problem is that there are casualties to this debate. Transgender people are dying while this linguistic nitpicking rages on. Why don’t we choose a definition where nobody gets hurt?

They’re just words, folks. Remember: sticks and stones may break my bones, but words are the foundation of my ideological system, and any fluctuation in their social acceptance means that that ideological system is in peril. Meanwhile, others are enduring sticks and stones, so maybe hurry the fuck up with your existential crisis, k?

There’s a lot of accusations flying around about certain groups, individuals, and local white male terrorists saying that they are misogynist. It’s a fair claim. A lot of their actions possess underlying, or even blatantly overt, violence directed towards female humans. Misogyny is the hatred of women, but do these men actually hate women? From the common progressive standpoint, obviously, and to question that canon is essentially to turn in your progressive credentials. However, claiming the alt-right, the incels, the white supremacists, and the Jordan Petersons hate women is kinda like saying terrorists hate our freedom. It’s painting the antagonist with purposefully broad strokes to make the Manichean dichotomy easier to propagandize.

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All this could be solved if our glorious leader and their wicked despot had a cage match on Pay Per View.

Simone de Beauvoir wrote that women struggle to rebel against men because they are dispersed throughout every category; blacks, whites, rich, poor, and so on; all of them have women. Women cannot simply cleave themselves from their biological counterpart, and even though whites and blacks could eliminate one another, Jews could eliminate every last gentile and vice versa (as has been attempted), women cannot get rid of men. This makes rebellion against male dominance much more complicated. While de Beauvoir was writing about the predicament of being woman, the same holds true for men. Man cannot wholly rebel against women. Hatred that longs for catastrophic destruction of the thing hated is a non-starter. Misogyny in its purest sense is just implausible.

Elliot Rodger, the champion of misogyny, killed a whole mess of people because women collectively decided not to have sex with him. Is it fair to say he hated women when Rodger clearly desired them? A love/hate relationship could be argued, but I think that is far too simplistic. Rodger believed that women should have sex with him. They did not, which means that women were not fulfilling their role as sex-havers. It was this dereliction of duty that drove him towards violence.

Let’s look at another example. The Jordan Peterson clip I hyperlinked earlier shows Peterson describing why women cannot participate in rational discourse: men can’t be physically abusive toward women because of social norms, and violence is the only thing that keeps discourse rational between men, therefore women can say the craziest shit in the world, and men can’t rough them up for being so dumb. This creates feminism, I guess. This is stupid for many reasons, the most glaring being that it ignores the fact that men commit violence against women all the God damn time, but what makes it allegedly misogynistic is that it conceives of “woman” in a specific way. “Woman” is not rational, “woman” relies on notions of chivalry for her own benefit, chivalry is a thing, etc. Now I doubt that Jordan Peterson hates women, he makes sure to mention that he married one after all, but it’s clear that his beliefs about women have something wrong with them.

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Women! Amirite?? If men could just somehow commit violence against them, then none of this would ever have happened!

What’s the link between Elliot Rodger and Jordan Peterson? They both define “woman” as something that women as people cannot be. Women are autonomous, freely-choosing human beings. “Woman” is not irrational, nor is she a sex-haver, in the way an inkwell is an inkwell. Peterson and Rodger categorize women in such a way that eliminates her humanity. Certainly women can be irrational; they can also have sex. The problem is that defining women in such a way limits their freedom, and when you demand they act in a certain way that they naturally cannot adhere to 100% of the time, you’re bound to be disappointed (especially during an age when a lot of women have been empowered enough to not give a shit about what you think).

What we’re calling the hatred of women is the enforcement, through words or deeds, of an anachronistic (if not outright fictional) idea of “woman.” If some woman decided to have sex with Elliot Rodger, he likely would have been fine with her (up until she stopped). If a woman agreed with Jordan Peterson, he’d think she was a-okay. Conform to these ideas, and the hatred disappears. It’s not hateful attitudes that is driving these men, but the idea of what a woman should and should not be. Were Elliot Rodger to say, “I want to have sex with a woman,” what he means when he says “woman” and what someone else might hear are two totally separate notions.The problem isn’t hatred; the problem is that these ideas of what is “woman” are wrong.

THE STEPFORD WIVES, Toni Reid, Carole Mallory, Tina Louise, Katherine Ross, Paula Prentiss, Barbara

Women are biologically determined to conform to their social role

If you believe that women should be or perform Y, and you don’t have any problems with women who are and do Y, you will never self identify as someone who hates women. You’ll just be wrong, and if you act on your wrong beliefs to shame, abuse, or kill women who do not fit into this fantastical mould that you’ve created in your mind, then you are raging against human beings for being human.

And you need to stop.