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I love seeing what people searched for to get to my blog, but I have found my favourite one of all time today – ‘Renee Montoya butch’. Awesome. I have no idea how that led to my blog, though yes she is a bit and yes I love her for it, glad other people are too. I expect the entry is they found is probably just me rambling on about how I love her, and Batwoman, and possibly Greg Rucka too.
Still, this has helped restore my faith after seeing this little heartwarming story. Ugh Bill Willingham, I try so hard to not dislike him, basically because of Fables, but this is too much. The two sort of balance out to not making me especially annoyed or happy, a lot of the time that is the best I feel I can expect from DC.

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Judging women: ‘You Overdid it Doll’

(Yes, this blog is back from the dead, hopefully permanently, but that all depends on how much sleep I get, how exhausting work and teaching experience is, and, apparently, by how often something enrages me.)

I just heard You Overdid It Doll by The Courteeners on the radio, and it inspired me to resurrect this blog, something I’ve been trying to for a long time. How did it do it? By enraging me. I seem to have a very few topics that I return to again and again, and this song epitomises one of them – the way women are judged and have their behaviour dictated to by men.

You Overdid It Doll is basically about a man saying how much of a mess the ‘doll’ of the title is, she seems to be his ex-girlfriend, but now ‘Your teeth are starting to go, 5 nights a week its starting to show’, but it’s ok, because though she takes ‘it’ to an extreme he doesn’t, ‘it’ be drinking and social drugs or it could be harder drugs, suggested by the phrase ‘I shoot it like a Tommy gun’, not far from the “shooting up” of heroin.

The content of this song is essentially the same as Thrash Unreal, by Against Me!,which I have written about before. Both are from a male’s perspective, about a woman who is beginning to suffer from the effects of a party lifestyle, for lack of a better term. But there is one very big difference – the narrator of You Overdid It Doll is judging his ex, it’s obvious in the title of the song, and it is obvious the whole way through. He criticises her appearance, ‘Your teeth are starting to go’, ‘Dark shadows around your eyes’, and her personality, ‘the taming of the shrew’. Ah yes, throw in a Shakespearian comparison, which incidentally sets him up as just the man to “save” her, because shattering her spirit, just like in the play, is such a wonderful thing to do. He judges her and finds her failing, and then proceeds to dictate to her what her behaviour should be, all the while showing hypocrisy because whatever it is she is doing, drink or drugs, it is fine for him to do, in moderation or not.

This is rather different from the acknowledgment in Thrash Unreal that the woman is her own person, ‘If she wants to dance and drink all night then there’s no one that can stop her’, her situation is presented rather than judged, in fact the narrator appears to sympathise with her, ‘We do what we do to get by’, ‘they keep getting younger don’t they baby?’ Here the pet name is one of solidarity, but, of course, the use of ‘doll’ in the title of The Courteeners song grates with me, it’s patronising and a reminder that the woman is the narrator’s ex, as in not his girlfriend any more, and so nothing to do with him, and yet he still looks at her and judges her.

It really annoys me that while I was doing research for this piece all I found was people raving about how good the lyrics are. Hah, they’re sexist, prescriptivist, high and mighty and just a little bit creepy. I think I’ll stick with Against Me!, who show that men can write about women as people, to be understood and sympathised with, whether their actions are agreed with or not.

‘Those Anarcho Punks Are Mysterious…’

Yesterday after work I went to the anarchist book fair at my old uni in East London, or rather I met up with some friends from back home who had been at the book fair and went straight to the pub. I had been interested to go to the actual book fair, one discussion they went to about gender, sex, sexuality and anarchism sounded like it would have been awesome, but the pub is always good.

It was really nice to catch up in person with one of my best friends, but the main thing about last night that was good was standing around and mostly listening to the anarchists talk, most of the people I talked to all belonged to one message board, which I sort of do, and have decided/ been urged to start going on again, and of course they all assumed I was an anarchist too. What with not being, and for most of the time being the only girl I felt pretty much an outsider, but that was ok as it was interesting just listening to people talking. However, I did get to talk to a guy who recommended me a few queer/feminist groups in London to look into, when I said about how cut off from the kind of politics that I feel connected to. Anything that leads to me getting to know some more interesting people will be good, especially considering how lacking in intellectual stimulation most of my life is at the moment.

The other thing hat came out of yesterday is the fact that I really need to work out what my politics actually are, in some areas I know what I think and I can be very vehement about it, but when it comes to general politics I really am not sure, I know I’m a feminist, but I while I vaguely think of myself as liberal I don’t know how well my views fit into that, or even what my views on so many issues are. And then there are issues where my views totally fit with most leftist views, not surprising considering some of the people I’m very good friends with. It’d be far too easy to pass myself off as apolitical, I’m not though, not really, I just don’t pay any attention to most politics, and to be honest most politics bores me, but my opinions on queer or feminist politics are obviously informed by my general political views, it’s just like I have to work backwards to them.

Hi, is there anything I can help you with?

I know people have got fired  for writing unfavourable things about their jobs on their blogs, but I can’t see that this post will get me in trouble, even if any of my managers read it. Still, I am going to be very vague about where it is I work – lets say I’m a sales assistant in the men’s department of a fairly large, well known clothes shop in central London. First, I should make it clear that I love my job, I don’t even really mind the early starts or the late finishes, and the people I work with are all great, and retail is what I know and what I’m good at.

However, though I’ve worked in retail for six years now, including in one of the largest fashion clothes shops and a large comic/ book shop, I’m noticing something I’ve never come across before. Sexual harassment at work is a big issue, especially legal, but what do you do when the harassment is not coming from the people you work with, but from the customers? I feel like I should make it very, very clear that I have no problems with any of the people I work with, but if I did I know exactly what I would, I know my rights, and also I would feel comfortable and able to object to any behaviour that made me uncomfortable, it’s just not the same with customers.

As a sales assistant I often feel very submissive, an interesting position for a often rather outspoken feminist, but what I’m there for is to basically do whatever the customer asks me to, and do everything I can to make them happy (and make them spend lots of money). The more worrying implications of this became apparent rather early on, within days I learnt it was just day to day life for the female sales assistants to chatted up by the male customers on a regular basis, I’d been there six days when I was asked out for a drink. Most of this is rather innocent, and understandable to an extent, after all, we are smiley and friendly to everyone, it’s our job, and the guy who asked me out did look nearly as embarrassed as I felt.

There are less innocent examples – twice I’ve come across people avoiding specific customers because, for want of a better word, they are being stalked by them, and one girl was asked to be a customers wife, she thought he was joking, as you would, he told her he was serious. And, best of all, something that happened to me the other day. I was on the fitting room, I always lead customers to a free changing room (saying ‘if you’d like to follow me’, and feeling like I’m basically asking them to stare at my arse) and put the tag with how many items they have on the wall for them, which means I go into the room then come out, so of course one customer pretty much leers at me and says ‘are you coming in with me?’ And of course all I can do is smile politely and go away, feeling disgusted, and unable to do anything, because my job is to be nice to the customers, no matter how they act towards me. I would much rather a customer being rude or angry than leching all over me.

The worst thing was hearing a fellow sales assistant complaining about a customer talking to her breasts for ten minutes then saying ‘I guess it’s my fault for not wearing a cardigan’. But of course it’s not, only the victims are made to feel like it’s their fault because there is nothing we can do, unless we’re actually being physically threatened, and I do at least feel like if I was being physically threatened the company I work for would be supportive of me. But the thing is that in a way the behaviour I’ve been on the receiving end of isn’t that bad, while thinking about this issue I stumbled across this article, which shows the extreme lengths that strangers sexual advances can go to. Obviously death isn’t a common result, but maybe I am lucky that I mostly get harassed in a safe environment, if I can’t retaliate in the way I would on the street I also know there are other sales assistants and security guards around if I am being physically threatened. The fact that I can attach the word ‘lucky’ to any sort of repeated harassment is so wrong though, especially when I do feel like I, if not invite it, make it appear more welcome, by the way I behave, when all I am doing is my job.

If I could think of a way to act against this then I would, but while ignoring cat calls on the street works I have to carry on smiling and being polite to the men who lech at me, I have to laugh at their suggestive jokes, I have to worry if I’m being ogled while I’m showing people to fitting rooms. I love my job, and I enjoy it, and really this isn’t a large part of it, but it is a significant minority of customers, and I don’t want it to be something that makes me dislike my job, or does the same for any of the people I work with.

Gender disparity in modern crime drama

I love American crime drama, since finally getting channel 5 when I moved to university I have become mildly addicted to them, CSI, NCIS, Numbers, I’ll watch anything like that. I’m aware that they’re various amounts of silly, but that makes sense, they’re supposed to be entertaining, and they are.

However, the more I watch them the more I notice something, the vast gender disparity. All the different shows have women in them, but very few of those women are in charge. If they are in charge then they’re the director, as in NCIS or Law and Order: UK, rather than part of the team, they are distanced, an authority figure but not one to be unquestionably obeyed or known as a friend.Even in the cases where there a woman man paired together, the woman is obviously clearly the junoir partner, as in Law and Order: Criminal Intent, Alexandra Eaemes is described as ‘a lesser equal, overshadowed by the charismatic presence of a prodigious partner. While still an assertive and no-nonsense cop and the senior partner of the pairing’, so she’s the senoir partner but isn’t treated as such, excellent.

I made a list of the ten shows I watch regularly, of those three have female leads,with CSI being a very recent case, Gil Grissam having only just left, to be replaced by Catherine Willows. As CSI is, for me, the best of all the crime drama I watch, and the reason for the other two versions of CSI, this should be a really good thing. However. Previously, in the titles, Grissom came first, as team leader, than Catherine as second-in-command. Now, as team leader you would expect Catherine to come first, but no, first comes Laurence Fishburne’s character, Ray Langston, the newest member of the team, and the most junior, and Catherine Willows, the team leader, comes second. This really annoys me, Catherine is a great character, and shown as a good leader, yet is undermined from the very beginning of the show. A very cynical part of me thinks maybe the producers have weighed up woman vs black, and decided that a black lead character looks more politically correct than a female lead character, regardless of canonical rank.

Because that is the other thing. None of the lead characters are people of colour, and none are gay. In fact, Olivia Benson in Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, was assumed by many to be a lesbian, and was revealed not to be. Ok, so she’s a strong woman, a bit butch looking, it doesn’t mean she’s definitely a lesbian, but it would have been great for a tv show to make that brave leap to confirm a major character as a lesbian, not making a big deal of it, the obvious comparison is Renee Montoya in the DC comics universe, being a lesbian is part of her character, not all of her character.

At least there are people of colour in most of the teams, not all, not in NCIS as the moment for example, though there is a Israeli female character, Ziva David, maybe that balances it out, maybe. However, most of the character of ethnic minorities m are lab techs, junior detectives, and so on, Law and Order:SVU has Ice T playing a detective, that is perhaps the most senior example of a person of colour in a crime drama, disgraceful really.

I don’t know what my point is, other than perhaps that maybe this is what real police teams are like, but CSI not what real police and criminal forensic teams are like, for a start they’re all far, far too attractive, if you’re going to be unrealistic in one part then there’s not point pleading realism for another section. What I’d love to see is Catherine Willows recognised as the leader of her team, and more teams to have senoir members who are people of colour, and of course to see someone acknowled as queer.

On green hair and women’s bodies

At the moment half my hair is dyed green. This is not a big deal to me, I’ve had unnatural coloured hair for over two years now, and for another year or so before that, my hair is part of my identity but at the same time it’s something that’s as unusual to me as my glasses. This is not true with a proportion of society, and for some reason the green really seems to attract much more attention than any other colour I’ve had.

Sometimes this attention is fine, overhearing a child on the tube ask her mum if I was wearing a wig, and when correcting announcing she wanted to dye her hair was adorable, and most of the comments I get are genuinely flattering. However, some of the time it is fairly obvious ‘I like your hair’ really doesn’t mean they like your hair at all, and it’s just like being a 15 year-old goth with men shouting at me out of their car windows all over again. The other one I get is ‘you’ve got green hair!’ Well, yes, I know. These I can ignore, my appearance has always got me more attention I’d rather not have.

Buying something in a shop and having the sales assistant reach over and touch my hair however, I can’t ignore. Ok, so she complimented my hair, but she also totally violated my personal space. At the time I was shocked, and a bit amused, now I’m really quite angry. Just earlier today I was sitting in a cafe at my uni, drinking tea, reading The Waves and listening to music, and some guy said ‘I like your barnet’, and it’s nothing, I just ignored him, but for me to have been able to hear it over my music he must have said it really loudly, because of course I want everyone to stare at me.

All these little events aren’t much on their own, but together they make me think how much my body is assumed to be common property, just because I stand out. It’s not always men of course, but it does often make me think of the theory of male gaze when it happens, and of the way women’s bodies are under so much scrutiny. I can sympathise with the way famous people have to deal with being told they look too fat, too thin, too old, but more I can sympathise with ordinary women who deal with this not because they choose to stand out in some way, after all I don’t always mind the attention my hair and clothes gets me, but because they happen to have large breasts or, worse, walk along a road. How dare they?

The second of those links I’ve only just seen, the timing of it is odd, and it makes me think maybe I’m getting off lightly. I think I’d rather be insulted than have suggestive comments made, maybe my punk-inspired clothes, glasses and perpetual pissed-off or terrified expression help me, they’ve always felt like a bit of a mask. Still, my immediate reaction on hearing a car beep shouldn’t be to swear at it, one day it will be someone I know.

Related to this is the case of Sophie Lancaster, kicked to death because she was a goth. I was lucky when I was a goth, I think the only physical thing that happened to me was having stones thrown at me on the beach, by kids from my school of course. Oh, and the very first time I remember going out in obviously gothic clothes, aged 13, I got ‘Pippi Longstocking’ shouted at me by significantly older boys because of my striped socks, I’d been told my dad had dies maybe ten minutes before. At least I had more important things on my mind than taking much notice of some idiots. The fact that nearly 9 years later I’m still taking abuse from people I don’t know because of my appearance is sad, as is the fact I don’t even really get angry very often now.

It seems that as a female who identifies as belonging to an alternative sub-culture I get to either be abused or leched at on the street. I refuse to change the way I dress, this is not my problem, this is the problem of people who think perving on under-age girls is acceptable, but I do wish I could think of some productive way to make them realise how unacceptable their behaviour is.

Political Correctness

I’ve just seen this post from The F Word, good timing as I’ve also just been reading the comments here, about the new Black Panther solicitations. I don’t really read Marvel, and it was definatly the comments more then the content of the post that got me, this one especially:

That whole magic spider eater guy thing was really gay and stupid. (and no, dont tell me not to say “gay”, im not   hearing it.) Has it been retconned back to Spidey’s original origin yet?”

The poster is obviously aware that their comment is going to be found offensive, and it is, I hate the use of ‘gay’ to mean rubbish, stupid, bad, incorrect, anything pejorative, it’s just homophobic, there is no other way to spin it. The comments of course reflect this, so we get this:

“I think someone who thinks someone is a douchebag for using the word “gay” is probably the real douchebag, so go ahead, knock yourself out. Usually the type of people who get upset by that thing are pc douchebags”
So yes, the homophobia is ‘a statement against political correctness’ just as the inappropriate calender is. Neither of them are big things, but that’s the point, that is what political correctness is there for and why it is so important, if the little things are made unacceptable then hopefully the big things will be as well. I wish these two examples made me a little bit angry at least, they don’t, they just make me feel tired.

I love Scans_Daily, it is eternally entertaining, and it is one of the most accepting places on the internet, as comics discussion goes it has an incredibly mixed, intelligent, funny set of contributors, and the response to the comments was what I would expect, a Mod gets involves, it all fizzles out. After all, ‘The golden rule: All posts and comments are to maintain a respectful tone towards fellow members’, and this is kept to strictly. That makes it worse, because I might expect to see it in other places, but not there.