Hidden Figures: Yes, Go See It Right Now

Here’s how to deal with the fact that a great orange buffoon is getting sworn into our highest office: go see Hidden Figures. Just go. Go see black women fighting misogyny and racism and Jim Crow while doing badass math. You need to see that right now.

*This review is mostly spoiler-free*

Take your children to go see it. Yes, even the young ones. Yes, even the teens. Look: I was in a theater full of little kids and teenagers, and they were sitting there beside unrelated adults up to the age of probably-watched-John-Glenn-orbit-live-on-teevee-with-their-own-kids, and apparently they were all riveted. I have never been to a movie that full of young folk who were so extraordinarily quiet. I’ve never been in an auditorium packed with nearly 400 people of all ages and had such an uninterrupted experience. The kids will do fine, and they need to see this.

Hollywood put out a movie about black women doing math, and it was spellbinding. I never thought they’d try. And since they tried, I never thought they’d do it with so much math and so few explosions. They had exploding rockets, but seemed almost embarrassed to mention them. There was a love story, but only because one of the real women this movie is based on actually got married in the middle of our race to space. It wasn’t shoved in just to hook our emotions, and you get the feeling they’d rather be doing more math. The movie stayed remarkably true to actual, historical events.

You’ll get to meet three of the most extraordinary women in our country’s scientific history: Katherine Goble (later Johnson), Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson. You will get to see them be math nerds. You will get to see them have interests other than marriage and children. Hell, you’ll even get to see one of them fix a car. In a dress. Did you know women could fix cars while wearing dresses? Well, now you do.

You’ll get to see three black women star in their own story, as heroes, not as sidekicks and inspirations to white people. This wasn’t a story about white people learning how not to be racist gits (although several white people learned this, the movie isn’t about them). This wasn’t a story about three career women trying to also balance their roles as wives and mothers (although they were). This wasn’t a story about men learning how to deal with career women, women smarter than them, and figuring out how not to be sexist gits (although this all happens).

No. Continue reading “Hidden Figures: Yes, Go See It Right Now”

Hidden Figures: Yes, Go See It Right Now

Lamech’s Children

My friend and ordained rabbi Gershon Blackmore posted this musing on the Torah to Facebook. It’s one of those stories that has human power, human value, and tells us a little something about the people we must deal with today. And at the end, I think, is exactly what we need to hear as power passes from capable, measured hands into the hands of a thin-skinned, hot-headed, sticky-fingered ego tripper.

There are always men like him. But there are always people like us. And that gives me hope.

Way back in the early days of Scriptural “history,” before Abraham or even Noah, there was a fellow named Lamech. We know nothing of him except the following literary tidbit:

Lamech said to his wives
Adah and Zillah
Hear my voice
You wives of Lamech
Listen to my speech
For I have slain a man for wounding me
And a boy for hurting me.
If Cain shall be avenged sevenfold
Truly Lamech seventy and sevenfold.

And that is what we know of Lamech. A man who sang, in literary Hebrew, of his exceptional powers of revenge. His song bursts out of the ancient cloud of time and event, and tells us of the power of being known as vengeful, visiting a hurt from a boy on the poor lad seventy seven fold. The Hebrew doesn’t say “young man” (na’ar). It says “Yeled,” or “child.”

Lamech would destroy a child for “hurting” him. This was an adult who could be hurt by a child. One can imagine the world within his mind–in which one takes savage retribution on children. He was the archetypal abuser of all. Continue reading “Lamech’s Children”

Lamech’s Children

Bay Area Peeps: A Must-See Documentary Screens TODAY!

Promised Land is screening on Monday afternoon – TODAY! – at the 41st American Indian Film Festival, San Francisco, AMC Van Ness Theater.

If you want to understand Standing Rock, get a sense of Native American history, and see what happens when people whose ancestors can be traced back to tribes that have occupied these lands for thousands of years are denied federal recognition, you need to see this film. Please go if you can, and spread the word. Continue reading “Bay Area Peeps: A Must-See Documentary Screens TODAY!”

Bay Area Peeps: A Must-See Documentary Screens TODAY!

Dear Men: We Need to Talk About How Y’all Talk About Women

And we definitely need to talk about how you’re talking to men.

Ah-ah-ah – I see you sidling towards the door, thinking that you don’t need to read this because you’d never talk about women like whatever I’m about to say. Stay put, Mister. Because I do mean you.

Yes, you. Yes, Mr. I-Respect-Women. Mr. I-Would-Never-Say-Harmful-Shit. Mr. I-Would-Never-Ever-Be-Like-Trump. I’m not just talking to the men who say misogynistic shit today. I’m talking to you. Take a seat. We’ve got some hard things to discuss.

Content note for: Sexual assault, misogyny, sexism, denial, rape culture

First off, let’s address this I-would-never thing you’ve got going on. Because chances are, you would. Chances are, you do. It may be hard to hear, but listen to what happened to Erin Branscombe not too long ago. Continue reading “Dear Men: We Need to Talk About How Y’all Talk About Women”

Dear Men: We Need to Talk About How Y’all Talk About Women

All Cis Men Need To Read This, Right Now

This is important. I want all of the cis men who clicked on this post to read this exchange. Start with this photo and click all the way through to the end. (Source:  my excellent Facebook friend Anna Jobsis).

Content note for sexual assault, victim-blaming bullshit, rape culture apologia.

If you think Carlos is making really good points and sounds really reasonable, you need to start educating yourself on what rape culture is. Now. Before you open your mouth to advise a woman on what she should or shouldn’t do. Before you nod along with your fellow dudes while they’re explaining this shit at women. Before you ever say one more fucking word, shut up and do some learning.

And keep in the forefront of your mind that what I’m saying applies to trans women, genderfluid, and nonbinary people just as much. Cis and trans women, along with people coded or read as women or femme, but who don’t identify as women, all have to deal with all this shit. And it’s constant. Carlos is just one vivid example in an endless septic ocean of them. Carlos is just one guy among millions who thinks he’s a nice dude and helping women out, but who is actually throwing toxic sludge all over them.

And you, dear reader, may also be a Carlos. I know you don’t mean to be. But you’ve been socialized that way, and most of you haven’t spent much time rethinking your assumptions. I know this because I was once a Carlita. I absorbed those same toxic rape culture messages and passed them on. Yes, women can perpetuate this shit, too, but it’s mostly men doing it, and we need you to stop. It can be done. If I can learn it, anyone can.

Image is the boss from Office Space. Caption says, "Yeah, if you could stop promoting rape culture, that'd be great."

So let’s go back through Carlos’s lecture. As you’re reading, ask yourself some questions: Continue reading “All Cis Men Need To Read This, Right Now”

All Cis Men Need To Read This, Right Now

Why Kill For Honor?

Qandeel Baloch, a fiercely independent woman who dared to defy the stringent modesty rules of her culture, is dead, murdered by her own family.

Image shows Qandeel Baloch, a young woman with long dark hair, wearing sunglasses and looking down. She is buckling herself into what looks like a carnival ride. There are black bars over her shoulders like one sees on roller coasters.
The last photo from Qandeel Baloch’s Facebook mobile upload folder.

The kind of violence she suffered is called an honor killing, and we here in the West too often don’t realize what’s meant by that. We’re given to trite, pithy comments about how there’s nothing honorable about killing your sister or your daughter or your wife. If we understood what honor meant in those cultures, we wouldn’t say such things.

Hiba Krisht has a heartbroken post up that explores many facets of Qandeel’s death and its impact on those who live with the threat of the same thing happening to them. She also explains what honor is. We need to listen. We must understand why these murders happen if we want to help prevent them.

It’s a funny thing to think about, this question of honor.

And what kind of person do you have to be, for your honor to depend on your family members conforming to a restrictive standard of behavior?
This question of honor. And individuals. And anger and and shame and fear. What kind of human do you have to be?

Perhaps, the kind of human who lives in a society where the standing and reputation of your family– its honor– dictates just about every measure of accessibility and livelihood.

Continue reading “Why Kill For Honor?”

Why Kill For Honor?

Frivolous Friday: Which Upcoming Movie Are You Craving?

Summer movie discussion time, my darlings! Or, if you’re in the southern half of the world, winter movie discussion time! I’m busy writing fiction this week, which has got me thinking about fiction. There’s a lot coming out this summer (or winter). I’m looking forward to a few, but if I had to pick just one, I think it would be… Continue reading “Frivolous Friday: Which Upcoming Movie Are You Craving?”

Frivolous Friday: Which Upcoming Movie Are You Craving?

Analyzing SPN: Introduction

So. Last week, I mentioned a fun new project I’d be unveiling this week. My friend Zeroth and I will be analyzing Supernatural episode by episode. We’ll be presenting the pilot episode for your enjoyment tomorrow. Today, I’ll introduce you to our methods and aims so you can spend more time enjoying our analysis and less time trying to figure out what the fuck we’re talking about.

So, first, Supernatural: for those who haven’t watched the show, it’s basically about two brothers who travel the country tracking and fighting all sorts of supernatural entities. You’ll encounter everything from ghosts to terribly mauled Native American legends to angels and demons. It’s very strongly influenced by the horror movie genre, although it’s not afraid to play around in other genres, and has a healthy propensity for laughing at itself. It’s gone on for eleven seasons and been renewed for a twelfth, so yeah, it’s been a pretty successful formula.

Image shows the Supernatural title, which is the show's name in all caps over a blue fire pentegram.

Why Supernatural? Continue reading “Analyzing SPN: Introduction”

Analyzing SPN: Introduction

How Fifty Shades of Gray Sporkings Sparked My Supernatural Obsession and Enriched My Life

How could some of the world’s worst fiction lead me down very rewarding paths? I didn’t think it possible. When Fifty Shades of Gray first impinged itself upon my awareness, I thought it had no redeeming value whatsoever. How shocked was I to discover it does? And how did it lead me toward Supernatural, which has become one of my favorite problematic shows of all time? Continue reading “How Fifty Shades of Gray Sporkings Sparked My Supernatural Obsession and Enriched My Life”

How Fifty Shades of Gray Sporkings Sparked My Supernatural Obsession and Enriched My Life

Nostalgia Slain by Sexist Nonsense: Airwolf Edition

Apologies for it being somewhat quiet round here lately, my darlings. I’m deep in a project wherein I am sorting through well over a thousand public domain images of Mount St. Helens. It’s necessary for upcoming posts, not to mention the eruption book and the guidebooks I’m working on, but ye gods does it ever suck up the time.

Fortunately, I can watch television whilst downloading, categorizing, and posting select images. I’ve got through most of Supernatural, and will have So Many Things to Say about it soon. I’ve sampled Gilmore Girls, and discovered that stuff based on ordinary life terrifies me far more than shows with monsters or murders. I actually had to quit watching because it was giving me conniptions. I’ve started Daredevil, and oh, yes, I will have Thoughts on that as well.

Today, we shall talk about Airwolf.

I was a ginormous fan of that show as a kid. I had a huge crush on Stringfellow Hawke, which was dwarfed only by my love for that helicopter. I still adore that helicopter. The rest of it, not so much. Continue reading “Nostalgia Slain by Sexist Nonsense: Airwolf Edition”

Nostalgia Slain by Sexist Nonsense: Airwolf Edition