Book Review: The Supergirls: Feminism, Fantasy, and the History of Comic Book Heroines (Revised and Updated), Mike Madrid (2016)

Wednesday, December 7th, 2016

Wonder Woman for President

four out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free electronic ARC through Edelweiss and a finished copy through Library Thing’s Early Reviewers program.)

After The Supergirls came out, something interesting happened. I got emails from readers who had no idea that there had been female superheroes in the 1960s, much less in the 1940s.

This is a difficult book for me to review. I’m rather new to the world of comic books, having only gotten into them in the past five years or so. With the exception of Brian Azzarello’s New 52 Wonder Woman, I’ve mostly avoided the long-running superhero titles; the sheer volume is just overwhelming! Like, where to start?

(Incidentally, The Supergirls has convinced me to avoid anything not published in this millennium – again with the exception of Wonder Woman, or at least Wonder Woman as written by William Moulton Marston. The early stuff is almost comically sexist and not worth my time. Well, except for the occasionally bizarro plotline, like when Supergirl falls for her horse Comet. Tina Belcher would approve.)

Instead I mostly gravitate toward more recently created series (Saga, Sex Criminals, Pretty Deadly, Bitch Planet, Monstress) and those based on stories I know and love from other mediums (Firefly/Serenity, Orphan Black, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Stephen King’s The Stand and The Dark Tower; I’m damn near jumping out of my skin waiting for Octavia Butler’s Kindred!). My knowledge of most superheroes and villains stems primarily from the big and little screen adaptations; Fox’s animated X-Men series is a childhood favorite.

That said, from my neophyte perspective, The Supergirls seems thorough, meticulously researched, and well-thought out. Madrid’s writing is fun and engaging, though The Supergirls is best digested in small bites: the scope of the topic can be overwhelming at times.

(More below the fold…)

Book Review: Orphans of the Carnival, Carol Birch (2016)

Friday, November 11th, 2016

Fell a little short of my expectations.

three out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free electronic ARC for review through Edelweiss. Trigger warning for ableist language.)

She heard a wag in the audience say, “It’s a chimpanzee in a dress!”

Someone shouted, “Loup garou!” She laughed. Her eyes twinkled, her smile was genuine. Now that she was on, she didn’t feel so bad. I’m looking at you, she thought. You are looking at me. And you’re paying.

Funny. After all this time he could still get lost in looking, just looking at her. Marie didn’t have that. Her face, though hairy enough, was completely human. With Julia, you did wonder.

Julia Pastrana was a singer/dancer/musician/actress/all-around performer who lived in the 19th century. The details of her early life are sketchy. An indigenous Mexican born in a small village in the state of Sinaloa in 1834, Julia was raised in the household of Pedro Sanchez, who briefly served as the governor of Sinaloa. Here she was trained as a mezzo soprano and dancer, and also became fluent in Spanish, English, and French, in addition to her native Cáhita. In 1854, she was sold to Francisco Sepúlveda, a customs official in Mazatlán, and was brought to America, where she toured under the management of J.W. Beach and Theodore Lent. She and Lent eloped not long after, and they toured Europe together. Their first baby was born in Moscow in March 1860, but lived only three days. Julia died five days later of “postpartum complications.”

Julia was born with a rare genetic condition called generalized hypertrichosis lanuguinosa, which caused thick black hair to grow all over her body, as well as severe gingival hyperplasia, which resulted in an overdeveloped jaw and thickened lips and gums. She was variously billed as a “Bear Woman”; a human-ape hybrid; and the offspring of an orangutan and a human.

After Julia’s death, Lent arranged to have his wife and son’s bodies preserved by Professor Sukolov of Moscow University. He displayed the mummies in a glass cabinet and toured with their remains for years. Lent found another woman with features similar to Julia’s and remarried. He reinvented Mrs. Theodore Lent: Version 2.0 as Zenora Pastrana, sister of the late Julia Pastrana, and added her to the tour. The show made him a wealthy man. He may or may not have been committed to an asylum in Russia, where he died in 1884.

(More below the fold…)

Book Review: Alien Child, Pamela Sargent (1988/2015)

Friday, May 29th, 2015

A Solid SciFi Story for the Tween Set

three out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free electronic ARC for review through NetGalley. Trigger warning for rape.)

The emptiness of the world outside told her that the last story of her people had ended badly.

For as long as she can remember, Nita has lived in the east wing of the Kwalung-Ibarra Institute with her furred, cat-like guardian, Llipel. Their only company is the robotic gardeners that maintain the grounds; the artificial intelligence that controls the Institute; and, later, a cat retrieved from the cold room for Nita. Llipel’s companion and fellow space traveler Llare occupies the west wing, but the two only communicate through the mind, and then only when necessary: this being their time of separation, Llipel and Llare are compelled to pursue solitude – from members of their own species, if nothing else.

As far as Nita knows, she’s the last remaining human on earth. That is, until she attempts to call Llare on the intercom and is stunned to find a furless face staring back at her. On the cusp of womanhood – no longer a child, but not yet an adult – Nita makes a shocking discovery: there’s a human boy named Sven just a stone’s throw away. And, for some reason that neither of them understand, both their guardians have kept the presence of the other a secret from their charges.

(More below the fold…)

Book Review: The Underground Girls of Kabul: In Search of a Hidden Resistance in Afghanistan, Jenny Nordberg (2014)

Friday, October 10th, 2014

Engaging, Informative, Interrogative; Intersectional Gender Studies At Its Best

five out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free ARC for review through Goodreads’ First Reads program.)

The bacha posh […] is a human phenomenon, and exists throughout our history, in vastly different places, with different religions and in many languages. Posing as someone, or something, else is the story of every woman and every man who has experienced repression and made a bid for freedom. It is the story of a gay U.S. Marine who had to pretend he was straight. It is the story of a Jewish family in Nazi Germany posing as Protestants. It is the story of a black South African who tried to make his skin lighter under apartheid. Disguising oneself as a member of the recognized and approved group is at the same time a subversive act of infiltration and a concession to an impossible racist, sexist, or otherwise segregating system.

Investigative journalist Jenny Nordberg was researching a larger story about Afghan women when she stumbled upon the practice of bacha posh (“dressed up like a boy” in Dari). During a visit with Azita Rafaat, one of the few women* to be elected to Afghanistan’s newly formed Parliament, one of Azita’s four children let the family’s loosely guarded secret slip: “Our brother is really a girl.” And so begins The Underground Girls of Kabul: In Search of a Hidden Resistance in Afghanistan.

(More below the fold…)

Book Review: Fembodyverse: An Inner-Stellar Adventure into Womanhood, Michele Elizabeth (2012)

Wednesday, June 12th, 2013

Innerspace meets Our Bodies, Ourselves – in another dimension!

three out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free copy of this book for review at the author’s invitation.

Also, trigger warning for rape.)

“You’re on a mission, Estelle: to know yourself, to become whole, to mature and be who and what you truly are in the external world.”

Seventeen-year-old Estelle Rinoux is on a quest to become a woman – a “real” woman. To Estelle and her peers, this means losing her virginity: in her case, to steady boyfriend Robert Pierson, who is as handsome as he is chauvinist. Unsurprisingly, Estelle’s first time isn’t as nearly as magical as she hoped it would be, and leaves her feeling less connected with both Robert and her own body than she’d been before.

Enter Pudi. An “emufté,” Pudi serves as Estelle’s own personal guide through her inner feminine universe – her “fembodyverse,” if you will. From the tips of her toes up through the top of her head, Pudi introduces Estelle to the “divine cosmos” within. A magical place which exists in the “feeling dimension” (hence the lack of organs and tissue), Estelle’s fembodyverse is comprised of such varied phenomenon as smart skin, the directors, the wisdom center, Mama Party, lost girls, and the Oracle – all of which make up the Body Goddess. In turn, the Body Goddess is connected to Grandmother Gaia, from which she draws strength and power. With Pudi’s assistance, Estelle comes to accept her inner goddess, and to understand that true self-worth comes from within. When women measure their value through external cues – wealth, beauty, social acceptance – they are playing a losing game, one constructed by the patriarchy.

Written in beautifully poetic prose (to wit: “Estelle knelt down upon the toe’s floor, her celestial hair waving like a slow-motion flag.”), Fembodyverse: An Inner-Stellar Adventure into Womanhood has a vaguely ecofeminist feel to it. (That said, I couldn’t help but laugh when Estelle fumed about Robert’s “[bug- and frog-] slaughtering shithead” friend Nathan – all while chowing down on a tuna salad sammie. Oh the disconnect!) Unfortunately, the story also shares in some of ecofeminism’s flaws, such as gendering nature (“Mother Nature,” “Grandmother Gaia”) – nature is no more female than it is male. The idea that women are inherently connected to the land and its nonhuman inhabitants has long been employed as a justification for their oppression (and male dominance). Likewise, equating the mind/rational thought with masculinity – and the body/nature with femininity – does a disservice to those of all genders. (Not to mention, the mind and body are essentially one.) And compassion is a wonderful thing, but it’s a role that women are socialized – not born – into.

(More below the fold…)

Book Review: Lilith’s Brood, Octavia Butler (2000)

Monday, May 6th, 2013

I’ll never look at an octopus the same way again.

five out of five stars

Lilith’s Brood is one of those books that’s so amazing and epic that I can’t even. As in, I can’t even form a complete sentence, let alone maintain a coherent flow between paragraphs and ideas. And so this is where I break out the bullet points.

* Warning: major spoilers ahead! Also, trigger warning for discussions of rape and violence. *

  • The books in Lilith’s BroodDawn, Adulthood Rites, and Imago – were originally published as the Xenogenesis trilogy. Definitely pick up a copy of Lilith’s Brood – it’s easier and less expensive than buying the books individually, and you’ll be hooked after the first installment anyway!
  • The basic premise is this: some time in the unspecified future, earth is decimated by nuclear war. Though it primarily involves northern, industrialized nations, the fallout results in massive casualties and renders the planet uninhabitable. As humanity lingers on the brink of extinction, the few remaining survivors are “rescued” by an alien species. The Oankali transport the human refugees to their ancient ship, where they’re kept in a state of suspended animation as the Oankali work to repair their wounds and rejuvenate earth. A century and a half later, the Oankali begin “awakening” humans so that they can prepare for their homecoming. Among them is Lilith Iyapo, an anthropology student from New Mexico. She was in vacationing in the Andes, grieving the loss of her husband and young son to a drunk driver, when the war started. (Many of the survivors are from the southern hemisphere – South America and Africa – resulting in great racial and ethnic diversity among the characters. Lilith, who has dark skin and curly, “cloud-like” black hair, is African American.) Lilith becomes a sort of “pioneer,” choosing, awakening, and teaching survival skills to multiple groups of humans before she’s allowed to return to earth herself.
  • Though vaguely humanoid (at least in their current form), the humans still find the Oankali dreadfully – repulsively – alien. (So much so that they must be acclimated to their rescuers slowly over time, usually with multiple awakenings and the use of drugs to dull the sense of revulsion.) Bipedal with two arms, two legs, a torso and a head, the Oankali are hairless; their earth-toned skin (in colors of gray, brown, and mossy green) is covered in hundreds of slug-like appendages called “sensory tentacles.” Through these, the Oankali are able to communicate with one another on a neurochemical level, sharing thoughts, pictures, feelings, memories, and even genetic information almost instantaneously, and with one or more people simultaneously. While they’re also capable of verbal communication – they can speak, and are proficient in countless human languages – the Oankali prefer to “hook in” to one another’s nervous systems. This is also how they control the ship, a living, organic creature created especially for intergalactic travel by the Oankali.

    (More below the fold…)

  • Book Review: Of Muscles and Men, Michael Cornelius, ed. (2011)

    Friday, April 13th, 2012

    2012-04-01 - Ralphie the Strongman - 0002

    Ralphie prefers Jason Momoa’s Conan. “He’s dreamy!”
    ——————————

     

    Hey y’all! This post has zero to do with animal rights, but bear with me. I’m thinking about consolidating my other, mostly-unused blog, Smite Me! with V for Vegan to create one blog for (nearly) all of my writing. Maintaining two personal blogs, each for different but sometimes overlapping topics, just isn’t working for me. Anyway, you may see some non-AR posts pop up from time to time. For now that’ll mostly just mean more book reviews. Eventually I may also change domains, but I’m still thinking on it, experimenting and whatever.

    Along these lines, I’ve already changed my twitter username, from @easyvegan to @vegandaemon. Vegan sraffies, holla!

    So that’s what’s up. Hopefully you enjoy my writing no matter what it’s about, but hey. You’ve been warned!

     

    By the Power of Grayskull!

    four out of five stars

    (Full disclosure: I received a free copy of this book for review through Library Thing’s Early Reviewer program.)

    Aside from the early ‘80s Conan the Barbarian films (starring Arnold Schwarzenegger as the eponymous, loinclothed hero) and a few odd campy television shows (namely He-Man and the Masters of the Universe and She-Ra: Princess of Power, which I grew up on, as well as Xena: Warrior Princess and Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, which I’ve enjoyed as an adult), I’m not what you’d call a big fan of the sword and sandal genre. But when I spotted Of Muscles and Men: Essays on the Sword & Sandal Film in Library Thing’s Early Reviewer program, I decided to request a copy anyhow, since I highly enjoy critical pop culture studies and thought it would make for an interesting read.

    To say that Of Muscles and Men veers toward the academic would be an understatement. In terms of accessibility, it’s much more similar in difficulty to, say, The Blackwell Philosophy and Pop Culture Series or Investigating Cult TV than the more mainstream Smart Pop Books by BenBella (of which I own nearly half the available titles!). That said, some essays are more suitable for lay people than others – it really just depends on the author and his or her approach and writing style.

    While most of the essays focus on the intersection of violence, sex, and/or gender in the peplum or sword and sandal genre – loosely defined as those films featuring a reluctantly heroic strongman, clad in sandals and/or a kilt and carrying a sword or other phallic weapon, and set some time in humanity’s ancient past – the authors nevertheless manage to touch upon a breadth of topics. Among my favorites are:

    * Larry Shillock’s piece on Helen of Troy (the 2003 USA miniseries), an arguably feminist retelling of the Trojan War featuring Helen of Argon as the protagonist (“An Enduring Logic: Homer, Helen of Troy, and Narrative Mobility”);

    * “Beefy Guys and Brawny Dolls: He-Man, the Masters of the Universe, and Gay Clone Culture,” in which editor Michael Cornelius parallels the development of Mattel’s Masters of the Universe action figures and Filmation’s animated television show (the latter essentially being a marketing tool for the former) with the rise of gay clone culture in the 1980s; and

    * the hilariously titled “’By Jupiter’s Cock!’ Spartacus: Blood and Sand, Video Games, and Camp Excess,” wherein David Simmons examines the influence of video games on the increasingly violent and stylized Fourth Wave peplum films of today (such as the STARZ original series Spartacus: Blood and Sand, from which the interjection “By Jupiter’s cock!” originates).

    I must admit to only skimming several of the twelve essays in this collection, either because they failed to hold my interest or contained so much jargon that I couldn’t easily decipher it all. Also disappointing is the lack of attention paid to those sword and sandal films and television shows starring female heroes: for example, the previously mentioned She-Ra: Princess of Power and Xena: Warrior Princess (both are mentioned in passing). Granted, Of Muscles and Men is ostensibly a collection about masculinity – “male protagonists as heroic, violent, fleshy, and, in the end, extremely useful” – but the presence of the occasional woman in such roles is a topic worth exploring, inasmuch as it challenges the role of “hero” or “strongman” as the exclusive province of men.

    2012-04-10 - Of Muscles and Men - 0002

    (Crossposted on Amazon, Library Thing, and Goodreads.)

    you’ve got something on your face

    Sunday, February 19th, 2012

    2012-02-18 - Relaxing with the dogs - 0016

    Mags like to clean the other dogs’ faces, but only Finnick and O-Ren will tolerate it. (Which is a shame, seeing as Peedee’s face is always dirty, and I’d rather turn the job of washing it over to Mags.)

    It occurs to me that when I think of this behavior in relation to Mags, I categorize it as “maternal.” But Peedee does the same thing with ears, and I’ve only ever thought of it as gross, never nurturing. Possibly there might be a difference in motivation – Peedee enjoys the taste of the ear wax, methinks, whereas Mags doesn’t seem to derive a gross kind of pleasure out of consuming eye snot – but still. Internalized gender roles much?

    Consuming Women, No. 6: blender? He hardly knew her!*

    Monday, March 14th, 2011

    Trigger warning for violent imagery, some of which involves female nudity, under the jump.**

    A subsidiary of the department store Beymen, blender bills itself as a “concept store.” (Caution: meat-loving hipsters ahead!) The “concept” (scare quotes because the whole concept of a concept store is way too fucking pretentious for this thrift store shopper to stand), as you may have already surmised, involves the pairing of fashion with misogyny, the conflation of sex and violence, and the linkage of women and nonhuman animals: consumable objects, unite!

    With several locations in Istanbul and Ankara, Turkey, blender doesn’t just sell clothing and assorted shiny baubles; oh no! Nor are body dysmorphia and low self-esteem its only wares. Ever the hipster-catering douchebags, each blender store is also home to a butcher shop! Because nothing accents a $500 white angora scarf quite like ghastly blood smear stain. (No, really!)

    Curiously, blender attempts to sell its audience on this concept by treating at least half of them like pieces of meat, too!

    (More below the fold…)

    Intersectionality ‘Round the Interwebs, No. 25: Vegan nomz & Bowl-a-thons!

    Sunday, March 6th, 2011

    Vegan cookies are distributed

    Vegan cookies are distributed at a Prop 8 rally in Riverside, CA, circa 2008.
    CC image via Flickr user lierne.

    For this edition of Intersectionality ‘Round the Interwebs, let’s start with some shiny happy news for a change, shall we? Namely, cross-movement bridge-building with vegan nomz and bowl-a-thons!

    (Take note, carnists and defensive omnivores: vegans are not, in point o’ facts, all single-minded activists who prioritize nonhuman over human animals. Also: we are quite capable of multitasking, thankyouverymuch.)

    Vegan Protest Fuel: Feeding the protesters in Madison, WI

    Vegan Protest Fuel is the first of two projects I’d like to share with y’all (and, if you happen to have a little extra scratch laying around, encourage you to contribute to). Started just last week in response to the ongoing protests in Wisconsin, the good folks at Vegan Protest Fuel deliver vegan food to peaceful protesters defending their rights – because “Everyone Needs to Eat.” Naturally, their first campaign is feeding “the tenacious heroes in Madison, WI, who are fighting to preserve their precious collective bargaining rights and for economic justice in their state against a radical conservative governor and assembly.” Over time, they hope to expand their program throughout the United States and, possibly, the world.

    Powered by tofu: it’s not just a slogan on a tee, yo.

    See also: Food Not Bombs, Food for Life Global, HIPPO, A Well-Fed World and Ample Harvest.

    Team Vegan Vixens: Bowling for abortions in the National Abortion Access Bowl-a-Thon!

    Team Vegan Vixens needs your support in the National Abortion Access Bowl-a-Thon! Held throughout the month of April,

    The Bowl-a-Thon is a nationwide series of local events that allow community members (you!) to captain your own bowling team, participate in a kickass national event – and raise money to help women and girls pay for abortions they couldn’t otherwise afford.

    Abortion Funds are local, grassroots groups that work tirelessly to help low-income and disadvantaged women who want an abortion and do not have enough money to pay for it. Abortion Funds help women pay for their abortions, help them buy bus or plane tickets, and even offer women a place to stay when they have to travel for an abortion. Abortion Funds make a difference in women’s lives…and you can join them!

    With $236 raised so far, Team Vegan Vixens is currently the top fundraiser for the Chicago Abortion Fund, which ranks #8 overall. Help Team Vegan (Vixens!) represent by pledging your support. Or sign up to participate your own bad self!

    Fuck yeah, pro-choice vegans.

    (More below the fold…)

    Intersectionality ‘Round the Interwebs, No. 23: lolz the douche away

    Thursday, July 22nd, 2010

    lol batman - get that dood-elle

    lol batman – get that dood-elle!” – Running through the streets of Gotham, a cheesy, live-action, retro ’60s Batman and Robin try desperately to apprehend a certain sexist blogger before he can unleash any further douchebaggery upon the women of Blogville. “HOLY FUCKING PATRONIZING SEXISM,” goes the refrain of this lol batman.
    TV still via the internets; quote via Stephanie; and photoshopping via moi.
    ——————————

    Though I haven’t been posting much ’round these parts lately

    [and have all but abandoned ship over at AR&AO, for which I apologize to Stephanie & Co. profusely, and pledge to do better once things calm down here at Casa del Garbato-Brady, otherwise known as the Garden of Vegan, a title which I swear I will one day have posted at our driveway’s front gate, threats of TP and eggs be damned]

    rest assured that I’ve been busy, busy, busy, namely: working on several projects – including developing a website for my fledgling business

    [Remember my – by which I mean Shane’s – pizza press idea of last October? We are totally doing it! Slowly but surely, anyway. Our website isn’t quite ready yet, so if you’d like to follow our progress, like us on Facebook, mkay?];

    revamping another

    [POP! goes The Vegan., whose database of vegan reviews should really be on the front page, with the blog in an ancillary position, seeing as the database is the main f’in attraction. What I was thinking by reversing their positions, I know not.];

    and launching yet another brand-spankin’ new website

    [Schlong4Seals! OMG, just reflecting on all the man-sausages and dick jokes waiting in the wings is enough to bring a smile to my normally frowny face. (I almost always look annoyed, even when I’m not; it’s must be the humorless feminist in me, I guess.) I was a little incensed when the Fraternal Order of Facebook killed my SCHLONGS4SEALS group, but in retrospect, I think they did me a solid. A solid I shall return by plastering FB with links to all my super-awesome crotch shots and “seven ways to save the seals using only your cock” posts! Oh, I cannot wait. *Channeling the spirit of Will Ferrell*]

    – the height of insanity, since clearly I already have more blogs than I can keep track of. Silly, silly rabbit.

    Oh, and the zazzle store! A few designs for which I still need to create. Yeah, let’s save that for later, shall we?

    Anyhow, on to issue #23 of “Intersectionality ‘Round the Interwebs.” On accounta me being in a mad hurry tonight, I’ve forgone most of my normal commentary in lieu of excerpts. That’s okay, though; I’ve got a great batch of links to share with y’all, so best to let the individual bloggers speak for themselves.

    Browse, share, enjoy – and then blame and smash. Go!

    lol-psycat - narcissus

    lol-psycat – narcissus” – Apropos of the dood-elle mentioned above, “narcissistic cat is his own screensavr.” (For those who can’t view the image, a black cat lounges atop a computer monitor, which currently displays a photo of…a black cat!) Not super-relevant to the rest of the post, but I felt like I needed a break between my semi-coherent ramblings above and the über-awesome link roundup below. Anal, who me?
    ——————————

    INCITE! Blog: Why Misogynists Make Great Informants: How Gender Violence on the Left Enables State Violence in Radical Movements

    To save our movements, we need to come to terms with the connections between gender violence, male privilege, and the strategies that informants (and people who just act like them) use to destabilize radical movements. Time and again heterosexual men in radical movements have been allowed to assert their privilege and subordinate others. Despite all that we say to the contrary, the fact is that radical social movements and organizations in the United States have refused to seriously address gender violence as a threat to the survival of our struggles. We’ve treated misogyny, homophobia, and heterosexism as lesser evils—secondary issues—that will eventually take care of themselves or fade into the background once the “real” issues—racism, the police, class inequality, U.S. wars of aggression—are resolved.

    (Hat tip, Jenna at L.O.V.E.)

    Vegan Feminist Agitator: Exploitation + Objectification = Conklin Farms. (In other words, business as usual.)

    The process through which we make peace with the inherent injustice of how we treat non-humans occurs because of objectification, the largely unconscious fragmentation system through which sentient beings are turned into objects. It is easier for the mind to integrate the misuse of objects than the abuse of living beings. Through this process, individuation collapses: all cows, all hens become a single entity to be turned into product. Those who are in power have their interests interpreted as a natural right rather a personal desire. When our interests require the subjugation of another, objectification makes the acquiring of what we want that much easier.

    Digging Through the Dirt: Promotion of Veal on Columbus Day Adds to Insult

    Because we think of ourselves as exceptional, we view “the other” as inferior. Descendents of native peoples and of African slaves are still regarded as inferior in this country, in general. And animals are treated as such, too. They exist for our purposes; they have no value except that which we bestow upon them, usually in the form of dollars. It’s all about what we can get from them — their flesh, their milk, their eggs — just as it was for Columbus. What could he get from the native peoples?

    (More below the fold…)

    Intersectionality ‘Round the Interwebs, No. 22: Shegans, unite!

    Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010

    Raising her sword to Grayskull, LOL She-Ra demands, “I Can Haz Equal Rights?” & as long as we’re taking requests, the lady would like a NOMy vegan meal, too. (She’s a Shegan, yo!)
    CC image via Brett L. on Flickr.
    ——————————

    The Boston Globe: Men leave their own mark on veganism and

    vegansaurus!: He-gan woman-haters club!

    Men + vegans = hegans. (Get it!?) Specifically, hegans are “men in their 40s and 50s embracing a restrictive lifestyle to look better, rectify a gluttonous past, or cheat death.” (Or, alternately, hegans are the latest faux-trend created by the newspaper industry in order to 1) hawk their wares and/or 2) avoid reporting on actual news. Be your own decider person.)

    Though I prefer the term “hegan” to its predecessor, “femivore” (which, as a word, makes zero sense), it’s still kind of bullshit: in describing this ‘new breed’ of manly vegan men, Pierce is setting up a false dichotomy that portrays ‘regular’ vegan dudes (and women, too) as effeminate, weak and sentimental (‘pussies, queers and commies,’ as hegans might say). Also: paint with a broad brush much? Veganism is a diverse movement, and any attempt to pigeonhole such a large segment of the population is misguided at best. (See above, re: creating news where there is none.)

    That said, I have a counter-proposal: shegan. More complex an equation than “women + vegans = shegans,” shegans as I envision them are feminist vegans of all sexes and genders (and/or feminist-allied vegan men, if you prefer) who reject sexism and misogyny as vehemently as they do speciesism. Dog knows we could use a little more sheganism, particularly since this is quickly shaping up to be the summer of the hegan douchebag.

    Vegan Feminist Agitator: The PETA Effect

    A lovely essay from Marla in which she manages to deconstruct the bulk of PETA’s campaigns in one fell swoop. To wit:

    The PETA Effect has come into existence because they have cynically decided to not only accept the terms dictated by the worst aspects of the mainstream world, but to be a part of it. Instead of questioning misogyny, they wallow in it. Instead of thoughtful, insightful analysis, they have women citing statistics while stripping on camera. Instead of rejecting the notion that we all need to be young, slim, and, more often than not, surgically enhanced to be attractive, they embrace it fully, and they also tell us that objectification for the “cause” is a worthy endeavor. They tell a nation already deeply battered by this message that if you are not young, slim and conventionally attractive, you are worthless and disgusting. What does this have to do with compassion to animals? How does this improve a battery chicken’s life? How does this make the skeptical public more receptive to questioning their values? It doesn’t.

    Seriously, go read the whole piece. I can wait.

    (More below the fold…)

    If you fuckin’ with this bitch then you betta’ be paid.*

    Sunday, April 18th, 2010

    Mars, Inc. wants you to know that a bitch is a bitch is a bitch – and, whether she be digging for gold or for bones, that bitch ain’t shit.

    Mars Petfood Frolic - Pool

    Mars Petfood Frolic - Hotel

    Mars Petfood Frolic - Limo

    (More below the fold…)

    Ask not "Are Animal Lovers Sexist?," but "Can Animal Lovers Be Sexist?" (Answer: duh.)

    Sunday, March 21st, 2010

    lol kaylee - just needs a hammer

    Don’t fear, Ms. Kaylee is here! lol dog sez, “wonder beyatch – be hear 2 smash ur kyriarchy, mkay?” She brought her Wonder Woman undies, but she’ll need to borrow a hammer. You got a problem with that, human?
    ——————————

    Last November, I penned a brief letter to the editors of VegNews, in which I questioned Rory Freedman’s casual use of the term “fur hag” – “hag” being a sexist, ageist and lookist slur. (VegNews subscribers can read the exact quote in context in Freedman’s column, “Prison or Bust,” which appeared in the December 2009 issue.) Fast-forward several months; my letter was published, albeit with several edits, in the March+April 2010 issue.

    Not surprisingly – given the popularity of the term, as well as PETA’s “fur hag” campaigns – some readers disagreed with my comments, including Annie Hartnett of change.org’s newly-rebranded Animals blog. (Many thanks to Marji of Animal Place for bringing the post to my attention!) In Are Animal Lovers Sexist?, Hartnett argues that, ahem, attacking women for their femaleness is not sexist because most fur-wearers are women.

    While I have previously deconstructed the term “fur hag” – as well as the campaigns’ associated imagery – what follows is a line-by-line response to Hartnett’s piece. Rather than rehash points that I’ve made elsewhere, however, I’ll use this as an opportunity to build upon my previous argument. If you haven’t already, please go read last January’s On “fur hags” and “fucking bitches.” before continuing on; doubly so if you’re surfing on over here from change.org. (Also related, and referenced in passing below: ARA PSAs: Women, Men and Fur and ARA PSAs: Attack of the Killer Cosmetics.) (1)

    Before we begin, though, I’d like to reprint my letter, as Hartnett did not/would not do so, even upon request.

    Here is the original letter, in its entirety:

    As a vegan feminist, I’m increasingly disturbed by the number of animal advocates who are willing to engage in sexism (and other “isms”) in the course of their advocacy – “for the animals,” of course (as if women are not sentient beings as well). Take, for example, Rory Freedman’s use of the term “fur hag” to describe those who wear fur (“Prison or Bust,” December 2009 issue). “Hag” – a gendered slur that is synonymous with “witch” – literally means “an ugly old woman.” While fur-wearers may indeed be ugly on the inside, a person’s gender, age and physical appearance say nothing of her character. If Ms. Freedman – or any other animal advocate – feels the need to resort to insults, please keep them “ism”-free. “Jerk,” “loser,” “asshat”: all convey a point – without further marginalizing already-marginalized groups of animals, human or non.

    Kelly Garbato
    Kearney, MO 64060

    kelly.garbato [at] gmail.com
    http://www.easyvegan.info

    By the way, I wrote a lengthy piece on the term “fur hag” last year, wherein I expound upon the sexist, ageist and sizeist nature of the phrase in much greater detail than is possible in 250 words or less. Additionally, I employ PETA’s associated “fur hag” campaign imagery to further illustrate my point. You can read the post in its entirety at http://bit.ly/vl8sB

    Seriously, tho’, enough with the misogyny!

    (More below the fold…)

    Intersectionality ‘Round the Interwebs, No. 17: F-O-O-D.*

    Tuesday, February 16th, 2010

    “assortment of vegan chocolates”: A dozen+ gorgeous vegan chocolates sit atop a white porcelain cake stand. Nom! CC image via quintanaroo (the chocolate-maker herself) on Flickr.
    ——————————

    Regretfully, I spent most of the long weekend either tossing and turning in bed, or retching and heaving over the toilet (read: vomiting; either way, what a mental image, yeah?), and thus was unable to get much of anything done. The perfect time for a link roundup! The commentary is rather sparse, but seeing as I feel like I’ve been through the ringer and back, I hope you’ll forgive me.

    johanna @ Vegans of Color: Vegan cookbooks: helping folks eat the Other

    The Vegan Ideal: A Western Vegetarian ‘Foray’ into Non-Western Culture

    johanna and Ida provide several examples of the “exotification” of non-Western foods (“African,” “Asian,” Hawaiian and Cambodian, respectively), with an eye on vegetarian/vegan contexts (cookbooks and a veg gathering at veg-friendly restaurant).

    Stephanie @ Animal Rights & AntiOppression: Domination and Rape in Avatar: This Is “Respect” for Animals?

    While I’ve seen many a discussion of Avatar‘s problematic racial politics, anti-speciesist reviews appear to be few and far between. This piece from Stephanie is a must-read; the title says it all, really. (Mary also discussed the film back in December.)

    Marji @ Animal Rights & AntiOppression: Sarah’s Diary: Remembering

    Marji imagines what rescue hen Sarah’s diary might look like. It is predictably heart-breaking. I’ll be honest; I have not yet been able to read the entire piece.

    Of course, I feel rather silly when considering Marji’s description of the “mock-diary”:

    This is Sarah. She turns seven this February 14th. She is one of 2,000 hens we were legally permitted to pull from a small, 160,000 egg-laying hen operation. I know this diary is horribly anthropomorphic. I pulled Sarah out of that cage. For hours, I breathed what they breathed, saw and smelled their world. It was horrifying. I have tried, for years, to fathom what it must have been like for them from birth to grisly death. I can’t.

    If there were a goddess, surely you’d find her volunteering at an animal sanctuary.

    (More below the fold…)

    Intersectionality ‘Round the Interwebs, No. 15: BEEF!, Bitches & "Bruised Feelings"

    Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

    BEEF! For Men With Taste

    vegansaurus!: BEEF!: nicht für Frauen–unless your Mann gives it to you

    In which “beef” has its own magazine (and it’s a gentleman’s magazine, natch!): BEEF! for Men with Taste. Luckily, vegansaurus is all over that shit.

    Ida @ L.O.V.E.: Political Correctness, Political Expediency, and Veganism and

    Royce @ Vegans of Color: notes on “Veganism Overly Defined”

    Ida (taking a break from The Vegan Ideal to guest post at L.O.V.E.) and Royce respond to a guest post at Vegan Soapbox (Veganism Overly Defined) in which the author dismisses an intersectional approach to veganism and animal advocacy as “attach[ing] favorite causes” and “baggage” to “Veganism.” Likewise, vegans who object to human-based “isms” “get so involved in the bruised feelings of some humans that the plight of voiceless animals becomes a marginalized issue.” Emphasis on “bruised feelings.”

    Carol J. Adams: Remembering Mary Daly and

    jenna @ L.O.V.E.: Feminism and Animals: What You Won’t Find in the 101

    Mary Daly, a self-proclaimed “radical lesbian feminist,” recently passed away at the age of 81. While much has been written of Daly’s radfem theology, I didn’t realize that she was also an animal rights advocate and vegetarian until I read a memorial written for Daly by Carol Adams. Herself a former student of Daly’s, Adams’s obit is rather charming and provides a glimpse of what it must have been like to be a young adult attending college in the ’70s.

    Unfortunately, Daly was also something of a transphobe, perhaps most famously referring to trans people as “Frankensteinian.” On this point, jenna’s post at L.O.V.E is well worth a read; in it, she illustrates why, as advocates for justice, compassion and respect, it is ill-advised and hypocritical for vegans to leave any marginalized group, human or non, behind. (Also click through the many links jenna provides to The Vegan Ideal, where the intersection of ecofeminism and transphobia is discussed in much greater detail. That is, if you haven’t yet; I’ve included many of these posts in past link roundups.)

    (More below the fold…)

    Intersectionality ‘Round the Interwebs, No. 11: Battered, Bruised & Consumed

    Monday, November 9th, 2009

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    Natalie Portman @ The Huffington Post: Jonathan Safran Foer’s Eating Animals Turned Me Vegan and

    Carol J. Adams: A vegan-feminist lament

    Natalie Portman – a newbie vegetarian-to-vegan convert, thanks to Jonathan Safran Foer’s welfarist Eating Animals (zuh?) – recently caused a stir when she compared the consumption of “meat” to the consumption of women, i.e., in the form of rape:

    He posits that consideration, as promoted by Michael Pollan in The Omnivore’s Dilemma, which has more to do with being polite to your tablemates than sticking to your own ideals, would be absurd if applied to any other belief (e.g., I don’t believe in rape, but if it’s what it takes to please my dinner hosts, then so be it).

    Naturally, Portman’s remark(s) unleashed a torrent of speciesism – to which Carol Adams responds with a vegan-feminist lament.

    (This is the point at which I’d normally swoon over Ms. Portman – but I’m still somewhat heartbroken over her Jane Hancock on the “free Polanski” petition.)

    Striking at the Roots: Carol J. Adams on Activism, Veganism and Models for Change

    In what’s shaping up to be a series (see also: Mark’s conversation with Andrew Zollman of LGBT Compassion), author/activist Mark Hawthorne interviews vegetarian (vegan?) / feminist Carol Adams. The two touch upon sexism within the animal rights movement, masculine vs. feminist models of change, the gendered nature of animal exploitation, and guerrilla activism. Keep it coming, Mark!

    Stephanie @ Animal Rights: Are American Rodeos More Acceptable Than Spanish Bullfighting?

    Stephanie details an alarming trend: as Spanish animal advocacy groups work to bring an end to bullfighting, promoters of American rodeos are promoting the “sport” as a “humane” alternative. Clearly, the question she poses – Are American Rodeos More Acceptable Than Spanish Bullfighting? – is a rhetorical one, and the answer is a resounding hell no! Here, colonialism meets speciesism, and everyone loses. Save for the colonizers, of course.

    (More below the fold…)

    The easyVegan Weekend Activist, No. 17

    Saturday, August 22nd, 2009

    Save the Whales, Boycott PETA (175x750)

    Here’s your weekend link roundup, folks. I still intend to weigh in on a few of PETA’s recent campaigns, including the whole “Save the Whales” clusterfuck. In the meantime, I’ve probably written a week’s worth of material on other people’s blogs; see, for example, my comments on change.org, as well as on the Animals Rights Facebook wall. I hope to coalesce these into one monster blog piece sometime next week. Until then, feel free to jump into the fray, futility be damned. (Honestly – what’s with the idol worship? Since when did critical thinking, self-reflection and debate become impediments? Blind hero worship, no want!)

    Also, I spent Friday afternoon remixing PETA’s billboard to better reflect my feelings, namely, “Save the ‘Whales’: Boycott PETA” (by “whales” I mean the actual whales PETA is insulting with this speciesist ad, as well as the so-called “whales” who are the most obvious target of PETA’s hate). You can download a large copy of the “Boycott PETA” billboard image here. The version included at the top of this post is a little different; I reworked the dimensions to 750×175 so that I could add it to the series of rotating banners on the website. It doesn’t really fit with the “V for Vegan” theme, but I think it looks awesome up there anyway. If you feel as I do, and like the anti-PETA banner, please download, display and share it.

    And yes, I recognize the irony in decorating this post with a “Boycott PETA” banner while still linking to a number of PETA action alerts and contests. As much as I abhor how PETA spreads its message, the group still does some good work, such as with its undercover investigations and targeted email campaigns. I’ll continue to link to alerts with which I agree – and share contests as long as the giveaways are not offensive – because the animals should not suffer for PETA’s sizeism, sexism, racism, homophobia, transphobia, classism, speciesism, etc., etc., etc. The Illinois deer about to be maimed and murdered by crossbows, for example, have nothing to do with PETA’s hateful rhetoric; they still need us to speak for them. We can and should lend our voices to them, while also speaking out against PETA’s “isms.”

    The most effective way to do this, is to boycott the group with our pocketbooks. If you have time or money to donate, please give to a more deserving – and ethically consistent – organization, such as Peaceful Prairie, Eastern Shore, Igualdad Animal, LGBT Compassion, or PCRM.

    Finally, the Humane Society of Missouri is holding its speciesist polo/BBQ fundraiser as I write. If you haven’t yet, please read Stephanie’s piece, “Fundraising for Animals by Endangering and Killing Animals,” and take action. Obviously, it’s too late to stop this year’s event, but if we keep the pressure on, hopefully we can convince them to rethink organizing similar events in the future. Since Stephanie launched the campaign, Animal Place and United Poultry Concerns have both added their voices.

    Action Alerts: Animal & Environmental Advocacy

    Alaska Wilderness League: President Obama: America’s Arctic Deserves Protection

    Animal Rights @ Change .org: Take Action! Save the Deer of Cayuga Heights

    Animals Australia: Help End the Dolphin Slaughter!

    Born Free USA: 100 Americans Can Stop the “Pet” Primate Trade

    Born Free USA: Stop the Trade in Bear Parts

    Center for Biological Diversity: Tell Tennessee to Give Wild Turtles a Break

    DawnWatch: Vick on 60 Minutes this Sunday, 8/16/09

    Ecological Internet / The Rainforest Portal: Action Alert: Liberia’s Plans to Resume Industrial Primary Rainforest Logging Already Plagued by Corruption as Samling Poised to Pounce

    Forest Ethics: Time is running out for caribou; Protect caribou habitat from Sears clear-cuts

    Greenpeace: Make the Switch to Safer Technologies [H.R. 2868 & H.R. 3258, the chemical security bill]

    (More below the fold…)

    I love Felipe in the summer…in heels, and with a Boca Burger, too.

    Tuesday, August 4th, 2009

    Again, the feminist blogospheres have already spoken re: this saucy (the puns, I’m full of ’em!) Carl’s Jr. Western Bacon Cheeseburger commercial starring Top Chef Padma Lakshmi. But I’ve yet to see a vegan feminist response, so here we go.

    (A word of warning: I’ve embedded seven – yes, seven! – videos below. While I don’t expect y’all to watch the uber-exploitative extended cuts, the other five are must sees.)

     


     

    The commercial shows a scantily-clad (hiked skirt, plunging neckline, push-up bra) Padma strolling through an open air market, eying the fresh fruits and veggies with approval. The soundtrack is sensual, jazzy, worldly; the lyrics “’round the world” repeat on a loop. The viewer feels as though Padma could be anywhere: Istanbul, Paris, Barcelona.

    And then, the voice over: “I’ve always had a love affair with food. I think I’ve tasted every flavor imaginable.”

    Padma, seemingly arriving at her destination, plops down at the foot of an urban stoop, the distinctive white Carl’s Jr. bag in one hand. Suddenly, the atmosphere is very American – NYC, to be exact – and unappealingly so (read: inescapable American fast food chains).

    Anyhow, Padma plops down, feet placed wide apart, so that the audience is treated to an almost-upskirt shot. Apparently we’re voyeurs now. (I didn’t sign up for this! I just wanted to watch 30 Rock in peace, dammit!)

    “But there’s something about Western Bacon.”

    Padma pulls a ridiculously large burger from her sack, and thrusts it into her mouth. She yanks a strip of “bacon” out from under the bun, and dangle-drops it into her mouth, all sexy-like. Probably Carl’s Jr. would like all the het dudes watching to imagine that she’s fellating it. The bacon. A pig corpse. Shudder.

    “It reminds me of being in high school…”

    Inexplicably, Padma hikes the skirt of her dress up to mid-thigh at this point. While, um, still scarfing the burger with her other hand. Sweet jeebus, who does that!?

    “…sneaking out before dinner to savor that sweet, spicy sauce…”

    Cue gratuitous tit shot.

    Somewhat fortuitously (yeah right!), the aforementioned sweet and spicy sauce is now beginning to drip from the burger, down Padma’s hand and wrist. Naturally, she licks it off with an extended tongue – the likes of which I’ve only seen on my dog-kids, while attempting to dislodge peanut butter from the roofs of their mouths.

    (More below the fold…)

    Intersectionality ‘Round the Interwebs, No. 6: PETA, PMS & Michael Pollan

    Monday, August 3rd, 2009

    First and foremost, a few links from Sociological Images. Due to time constraints, I went a month or so without reading the blog, so it’s time to play catchup.

    Ejaculation Imagery in a Dutch Creamer Ad

    In which the milk of an (s)exploited mother acts as a stand-in for semen; at commercial’s climax (pun most definitely intended), said semen is “accidentally” spurted all over the face of a unsuspecting woman. About as classy as it is original!

    Do You Love Animals? Do You Have Lady Bits? Take Off Your Clothes!

    Lisa examines a series of UPI photos of a PETA event that took place on Capitol Hill in order to protest/celebrate National Hot Dog Day. The photos feature two bikini-clad Lettuce Ladies – serving soydogs alongside two fully-dressed male PETA members – and the slideshow of ten pictures includes four boob/crotch shots. “Gender parity” my dimpled ass.

    PMS = A “Sea Of Suffering” For Everyone In The Land

    Oh boys. These commercials from the California Milk Processor Board are so dreadful, I’m actually struck speechless. Luckily, Sarah Haskins is on the case:
     


     
    Milk – i.e., the bodily secretions of tortured and grieving mothers – tames unruly hair! It conquers PMS (and PMS-induced tsunamis)! It cures depression, acne, lesbianism and spinster aunt-ism, even!

    Ah, milk!: the elixir of the patriarchy / kyriarchy / megatheocorporatocracy.

    (More below the fold…)