I went to see the SF film Arrival not long after the election because I needed something positive in my life. I wasn't disappointed.
The film is based upon SF author, Ted Chiang's novella "Story of Your Life." Alas, I haven't read it yet, but I will sometime this week. (It's next in the cue after I finish Hex by Thomas Olde Heuvelt.) Arrival is, obviously, a First Contact story. We've seen First Contact stories. They've been a staple of SF fare since H.G.Well's The War of the Worlds (1897.) So, it's been around for at least 100 years. Some amazing stories have resulted. (Like The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell for instance.) But only when the author strays from the stereotypical path. Ted Chiang's story does this with considerable mindfulness and empathy for his characters. I very much need to read the story before I can say much more about the film--one of the reasons I waited this long before saying anything, but I just can't wait any longer. I want to recommend the movie before it leaves theaters. You really should see it on the big screen. It's filmed in such a way that (while 3D would be overkill) a theater screen makes the experience more...overwhelming--as overwhelming as it would be. I love that. And there are so many things to adore about this story: the fact that a linguist is at the center of it, not Spaceman Spiff™ with his Trusty Laser Rifle™ and pocket-size copy of Heinlein. This is a story about what it means to be human while reaching out to alien. It's about the value of communication and a cool, logical mind. It's about being open to multiple interpretations because perception of reality isn't the same thing as reality or truth. Above all, it's about trust and faith in ourselves and others when neither of these things are easy to keep. If there's ever a message we need right now, this is the one.
 Yes, that's 1897. Not 1996, person I heard complaining about the Tom Cruise War of the Worlds remake in 2005. I shit you not. They actually complained that it ripped off the Will Smith movie. Look, I like a good Will Smith movie. I do. He's fun. And hey, I'll watch just about anything with Jeff Goldblum in it, but that film wasn't even remotely original.
 Just not The Fly.
So, now I understand we're doing an election recount. I've heard that 5,000 votes for Trump in Wisconsin have already been disqualified. That's more election day screwy than has ever happened in the past three decades. It's obvious something is wrong. It's obvious that a foreign power had undue influence on the election. In my opinion, we need to find those responsible and prosecute them. We need to fix the problems with media--false news sites in particular. We can't shrug our shoulders about this shit anymore. It threatens faith in our democracy. Do I really need to add that any group or individual who is willing to win power at any cost isn't fit to serve in our government? Looking at the popular vote numbers, I strongly suspect I don't.
So, today I did a search on YouTube for "Feminism" and didn't find a single positive search return in the top twenty. I'm not shocked to discover this, but I will point this out to those who believe that misogyny is an "old white man" problem. YouTube is not where the old white men hang out, y'all. It's a place where GenX and Millennials hang out. It also demonstrates the effects of the US election. Anyway, today's video:
Tomorrow is Thanksgiving in America--not that I feel like there's a hell of a lot to be thankful for at the moment. (TWO MILLION?!? And that makes no difference to the outcome?! GOP gamed the system via gutting the Voting Rights Act and Gerrymandering. That's the bold-faced truth. The rest is wheel-spinning.) But hey, I gotta try. One needs to remember the things one's fighting for in order to keep up the energy to fight effectively. So, I'm going to look at it that way.
I'm the Queen of Pie in my family. So, when it comes to holiday time I spend a lot of time in the kitchen, baking. I love baking pie. Sadly, I can't have sugar so much anymore. (It screws with my immune system which is pretty f-ing wonky--yay, autoimmune disease. NOT.) But I've been recently reassured that the sugar moratorium isn't a permanent thing. (Thank the gods.) Nonetheless...pie. I've five to bake today before my gaming group meet up tonight. Therefore, enjoy your Waitress trailer (I love that movie.) and have one more because I feel it's timely.
My favorite bits? When Captain VonTrapp tells the Nazis to fuck off--multiple times over and in various ways, and when the nuns sabotage the Nazi car. "Bless me, Reverend Mother, for I have sinned." always makes me laugh.
Americans, may your Thanksgiving be full of laughter. Laughter and love are just two of the things we're fighting for.
I love this image of Beyonce so much. It's badass. Alas, I don't know the photographer's name. I plucked this off of FB and well, they weren't credited there. If you know who the photographer is, please let me know and I'll give credit. Anyway, I'm adding a new section to Feminist Monday. It's a call to action. We need to be not only more vocal now but more active. We cannot just sit back and bitch about how much things suck. Too many people's lives depend upon our not backing down. We cannot accept White Supremacy as the new normal. We cannot. Every one of us loses, if we let that happen. Every one of us. Don't kid yourself. Our humanity is at stake here. Empathy is good, as long as you remember that a line sometimes must be drawn. As a martial arts student, I know you can make a stand and be empathetic to your opponent at exactly the same time. It's more difficult to take that path, but it is well worth doing so to prevent atrocity.
Today's call to action: Congresswoman Katherine Clark has introduced legislation to ensure that U.S. Presidents are required to resolve any conflicts of interest with regard to financial interests and official responsibilities. In the past, every president has done this, not because it's the law, but because they had a conscience. Apparently, Trump doesn't have one of those. So, call your state representative to tell them to support HR6340, now. It doesn't take long. And if you don't know who to call, go to http://whoismyrepresentative.com. It's easy. It's fast too. Make sure to speak to an actual person. Leaving a message is okay, but if they speak to a person, it has more impact.
Also, if you can spare the time, call Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan's ACA poll line. He wants to convince everyone that the GOP has a mandate to remove our healthcare. So, call Paul Ryan's survey to support the ACA (Obamacare). (202) 225-0600. I did. NOTE: there's reportedly 2min of dead air and/or anti-ACA proselytizing you'll have to sit through. (On Friday, the poll actually disconnected the call. Today, I got the proselytizing bullshit.) You'll get a recorded message. Press 2 to take the survey. After the silence/pro-corporate propaganda, press 1 to support ACA.
Call your Congress-Critters and tell all of them that you oppose the appointments of Steve Bannon and Jeff Sessions. Both are White Supremacists/Neo-Nazis.
Seriously, don't be afraid to call. (I used to be.) This isn't a big deal. They're used to talking to people. It's what they're supposed to do. We can't remain silent any longer. And if you're like me, you'll sleep better knowing you did something.
And now, links.
And those expressions pretty much sum up how I feel about what's going on in American politics these days...on a good day. (On a bad day...which is pretty much every day...it's a totally different image...but a raging fire gets boring to look at, I suppose.) That said, I've been watching Gilmore Girls to keep my spirits up, and frankly, it's largely been working--except for those moments when Hillary Clinton is mentioned and I know her future. I highly recommend the show. I missed it on its original run. I'm sad I did, but I'm also glad I get to experience it now, during a time when I need an upbeat Feminist viewpoint most. the dialog is amazing. Currently, I'm nearing the end of Season 3. Once I hit the end of season 6, I'll ditch and go over to the newest show released on Netflix. Bless you, Netflix. You've given me some much needed sanity.
Speaking of Feminist, yesterday I did some volunteer work for Jane's Due Process. They're lawyers who help teens needing abortion access and are unable to get a guardian's consent. (For a start, not all kids have legal guardians, y'all.) It's very, very important work--particularly when you consider how much the mortality rates for mothers have risen in Texas since the ridiculous laws have been put in place to "stop abortion." (FYI: it's higher in Texas than anywhere else in the US, and the maternal mortality rate doubled from 2010 to 2014.) You're probably going to be seeing me post about this organization more often.
"She guessed that behind the conscious evil there was an unconscious blackness. That was what distinguished the earth's children of darkness; they couldn't make things but only break them. God the Creator had made man in His own image, and that meant that every man and woman who dwelt under God's light was a creator of some kind, a person with an urge to stretch out his hand and shape the world into some rational pattern. The black man wanted--was able--only to unshape. Anti-Christ? You might as well say anti-creation.
He would have his followers. He was a liar, and his father was the Father of Lies. He would be like a big neon sign to them, standing high to the sky, dazzling their sight with fizzing fireworks. They would not be apt to notice, these apprentice unshapers, that like a neon sign, he only made the same simple patterns over and over again. Some would make the deduction for themselves in time--his kingdom would never be one of peace." --The Stand, Stephen King
So, over Halloween I decided to re-visit one of my favorite novels The Stand. Some parts of it haven't aged well, and the unconscious/casual racism is pretty bad. (Hey, we all internalize oppression. That doesn't mean the author hasn't evolved. I know I have quite a bit.) So, I don't like the use of "black man" in that quote...however, the novel is still a damned good one--in spite of the ending. And the similarities to what is going on right now in American politics are too terrifying to ignore. I say this as I watch Trump's inability to form a working transition committee. It's crumbled twice already. His decisions to split the White House Chief of Staff position into two different positions doesn't bode well for the TeaParty's [cough]bullshit[cough] agenda regarding "smaller government." But hey, the man is a pathological liar. Why should anyone be surprised?
That said, for the most part yesterday was a pretty good day. I got things done. I advanced my goals regarding activism. I even got my first dirty look for my Black Lives Matter patch. ;) I even made art. (I'm working on a logo for a new writing-community-activism group I'm forming with a few very wonderful local writers. More on that once we've solidified everything.) The only thing that didn't happen was writing. But that should happen today after Martial Arts class.
And another semi-random thought...
"I used to want to save the world, this beautiful place. But the closer you get, the more you see the great darkness within." --Wonder Woman, 2017
Never in my life have I ever found Wonder Woman inspiring. Never. She's always seemed to be too much of a slave to the Male Gaze of Comicbook-dom. (I mean HEELS?! SHE WEARS HEELS INTO BATTLE? WTF?! They're wedges. Sure. But they're still MF-ing HEELS.) Nonetheless, Gal Godot has done something that no other actress or comic book has ever been able to do before. She's made me believe. And no matter how sucky the film ends up being, she's my new go-to for inspiration during the coming years. That quote says it all.
I've been thinking a lot about oppression lately, and how it hi-jacks subconscious thought. It's like a computer virus that has worked its way into people's brains. It parks there and silently works against humanity...that is, until you're made aware of it. It operates inside the oppressed every bit as much as it does among the privileged. (See this Twitter thread.) Anyway, pardon me while I ramble a bit.
Imagine a water balloon, only instead of it being filled with water it's filled with systemic oppression. The thing is heavy--so heavy that the weight of all the force inside stresses weak spots in the balloon's barriers. Those weak places are specific forms of bigotry: racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ablism, religious bigotry, and so on. The more you squeeze the oppression water balloon--that is, the more you attempt to crush it, the more the internal pressure increases and the more force is concentrated on those weak spots. Bulges occur. (At this point, it may be helpful to visualize one of those squeeze-y stress toys.
Last week sucked. I went from the glorious feeling that Americans were headed into a bright future where sexism was coughing up its last diseased gasp to the devastating knowledge that this country is sexist and racist as fuck and doesn't want to admit the truth. That's it, right there. If you voted for Trump, no matter your reasons, you're racist. You selfishly opened wide the door to racism. If you are white, consider yourself a liberal, and voted for anyone but HRC because Hillary wasn't the most perfect human being on the planet, you have internalized misogyny issues you have not faced, and you threw more than half the population of the United States under the bus as a result. The same goes for those 50% who couldn't be bothered to vote at all because they deemed the candidates "equally awful." In truth, this was the first presidential election after the Voting Rights Act had been gutted. If you want a line drawn under a single cause, this is it. Nothing else. This election was decided with a very thin margin. Thousands were turned away and had their vote shunted into the provisional category. (I witnessed around twenty of these at the precinct where I worked on election day. That is an unusually high number. We also turned away at least five. And we weren't a busy precinct.) We are not "post racial." That is a bold-faced lie. So is the stance that we don't need Feminism. I've been saying that for decades. Stuff that shit.
Now, for something more hopeful. I'm going to write about what I feel is going on with this backlash we're having because liberals dared to vote-in a black president twice in a row.
Me: What is on the agenda tonight?
Dane: Going for a walk, several hours of television involving women named Gilmore, witty banter, and snuggling.
Me: That's nice. I like snuggling. I am pro-snuggling.
Dane: I heard that about you.
Me: In fact, it could be stated that I am a staunch supporter of snuggling.
Dane: Well, I was sort of lost for a moment. You used the word 'staunch' and I had an image of a phalanx of Spartans. And well, they didn't seem very snuggly.
Me: [attempting to sound like Peter Graves from the movie Airplane] Joey, do you like movies about gladiators?
Dane: It's all the shields and the pointy bits. The shields and everything. So rigid.
Me: Shhh. I'm in a happy place.
I got some good news yesterday, in spite of all the awful. And Blue Skies from Pain, my second novel, is being translated into Hungarian. I'm pretty damned happy about that. There's something deeply validating about being translated into a foreign language. Also, soon there will be an event at Dragon's Lair, and I plan on being there. It's my comics store--as in "the comics store where I've been shopping for decades."
And well, that's that. I wish I had some more happy news that I could share--if you're a liberal American like me, you need all the happy news you can get right now, but I don't. Excuse me while I ramble for a while...
One thing that I find disturbing is the number of Americans telling others: Just accept it and move on, they say. Let's work with the evil man that was elected. We have to heal. Things will go smoother if we do. Blah, blah. For some reason, that sounds an awful lot like Lord Neville's approach in the 1930s. Let's let the bad man prove himself. No. Let's not. Let's keep calling out racism and misogyny. It's the only way to go forward. The time to nod politely and pretend that you didn't hear what you thought you heard is over. It was over a long damned time ago.
I read a series of tweets yesterday about how white America doesn't confront unpleasantness. That, instead, white America walls itself off from whatever it finds it doesn't want to deal with. That this was the reason our maps of blue are parked in urban areas--areas where people of all walks of life live together--surrounded by a sea of red. The same could be seen in the Brexit vote in the UK. That over and over, white liberals have been visiting with relatives outside those urban centers and tolerated their bigotry without a word against it. That we never spoke to them about the things we knew and understood through years of living and working and being friends with people not like ourselves. That this is why those outside of urban areas voted as they did. It's an interesting thought and a compelling one. I'd even venture to say that it's a big factor in what happened. But to me, this is the inevitable result of the type of thinking which declares government useless. This is the result when you insist and insist and insist that government is a failure. Psychology has a term for it: Self-fulfilling prophecy. What's the best way to make sure government doesn't work? Hire a stupid, hateful abuser charged with multiple counts of fraud. Yep. That'll kill it.
My inner optimist can't help feeling like this is the last gasp of humanity's brutal self. History isn't a circle, it's a loop. We've been chewing on the problem of systemic oppression for the past decade, and we've been making real progress as more and more individuals become aware of it. I see systemic oppression as a disease. It invades our minds unobserved, and it camps there, influencing our unconscious behavior. Enough of us became wise to its presence that it decided to dig in--I understand disease usually does before it's finally beaten. Things go dark before the dawn. Here's hoping the dark doesn't stay forever.