What you don’t expect.

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Sorry I’ve been a bit quiet. The Kidlets’ school year ended shortly after Memorial Day, and I’ve been trying to figure out how to make summer vacation work with my work from home job.

It hasn’t exactly been easy. The first couple days were fantastic- the Kidlets made sure that I had a solid 4 hours of work in the morning and then we’d run errands and do stuff in the afternoon. But the Little Kidlet? Well, he’s decided to spend his days like this:

littlekidlet_onthenook

(more…)

Isla Vista: the discussion we should be having.

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By now you’ve probably heard of Elliot Rodger, the 22 year old man who killed six people (two of them were women) and injured seven others (one of those, confirmed as a woman) in Santa Barbara as part of his quest to get revenge on women who rejected him sexually.

I haven’t been able to read many of the stories. I haven’t wanted to see what the media is saying on television. It’s too much of a reminder of being stalked by boys/men who wouldn’t accept that I wasn’t interested in them. But in skimming headlines, it’s abundantly clear that the media is trying to frame this as an isolated incident, focusing on the fact that he was seeing a psychiatrist, that he legally owned the gun he used – instead of focusing on the very real dangers of misogyny. Because this is not an isolated incident.

In the past month, I can think of two other news stories that stood out to me like this. There was the death of Maren Sanchez, just 16 years old, who was murdered by a classmate because she turned him down for prom. The other was Mandy Boardman, who watched her ex-husband be sentenced to 8 years of home confinement for repeatedly drugging and raping her for three years of their marriage (she divorced him after learning of what he’d done). Prosecutors had asked for 40 years in jail, and he was sentenced to 20 – with 12 years of that sentence suspended. Worse than that, even, was that Judge Kurt Eisgruber during his remarks asked Boardman to forgive her attacker.

And there are similar stories from around the world, week after week. These stories seldom get the attention they deserve, and it isn’t until something like this spree happens that they get a fair amount of airtime. It’s one situation where as a society, we’re failing as a whole.

We live in a society where we’re told that “boys will be boys,” where dress codes are enforced in schools to keep girls from distracting boys with their appearance. Where we air shows about “pick up artists” who tell men that they can turn any no into a yes, we have numerous television shows that center on men who reassure their male friends that women who reject them are bitches and crazy. We allow men to sexualize a children’s show (a show geared to empower little girls, by the way) to the degree where googling artwork for the show generally yields adult material, while at the same time cartoon companies are canceling cartoon shows because too many girls and women watch it. And say very little about it.

We try to legislate breastfeeding in public because as a society we’ve done our best to rebrand breasts as being something sexual, instead of literally a way to nourish babies.

When teaching rape prevention, we teach girls to dress modestly and think about their surroundings instead of teaching boys and men not to rape them. We allow colleges and universities to investigate rapes that happen on campus.

Men are encouraged to be sexually adventurous, but women are called sluts for doing the same thing. We’ve created a mythical friendzone and continue to feed the lie that men and women can’t be platonic- a lie which shames friendship between a man and a woman. Shame that clearly played a large part in Rodger’s rage – in his mind, women could fill no other role than a sexual role. So any romantic/sexual rejection left nothing for him. A rage which is not singular to this case, it’s something that comes up time and time again. We’ve also created this belief that there’s some sort of a sexual transaction at play. Pay attention to a woman, buy her a drink- and she’s required to reward you with sex and affection. Women are not prizes to be won, this isn’t a video game where fulfilling certain actions in a quest/mission will get you into our beds.

We’ve allowed men to rewrite how we perceive feminism. Instead of it simply being the fight to make sure that women are treated equally and fairly, we’ve let our male-led society dictate that it’s women wanting to subjugate men – that it’s something done out of hatred for men. To the point that young actresses who talk about wanting to make the choice to stay home and be a mom someday, say that they aren’t feminists. Because somehow, as a society we don’t understand what it is- it’s about saying that we should ALL, male or female, have the choice to do as we please.

And this isn’t just how we’ve let misogyny rewrite how we perceive women. It’s rewritten how we perceive men, too. Men, you should be furious that we’ve decided that you’re so ruled by your penis that you can’t look at a pair of legs or a pair of tits without being ruled by lust. You should be furious that we’ve decided as a society that you can’t act like a decent human being without a secret agenda. That we’ve trained you to see women as prey. That you’ve been groomed through porn to misunderstand how to actually enjoy sex without unrealistic expectations.

Can we please use this horrible act as a stepping stone? Can we please have the difficult discussion about how internalized misogyny is in our society? And can we have it without men saying “Not all men are like that?” Because heaven forbid, a man be faced with the uncomfortable realization that in fact most men are like that, even to a small degree.

Because nothing will change without having these discussions or realizations. Nothing will get better. It will only get worse.

Midnight Escapades

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I realize that this title sounds far more glamorous and exciting than the truth. This is a post about kids getting sick in the middle of the night. So, proceed with caution.

My glasses were broken to begin with. I am blind as a bat without them, but have plenty of contacts – so I was coping alright when it came to life without glasses while I waited for my eye doctor appointment. I put the contacts in when I wake up, take them out at bedtime… and use a lot of rewetting drops since I have to wear them the entire day.

A couple week’s back, at 3:30 am, I was woken up by the Oldest Kidlet who calmly informed me that the Little Kidlet was puking everywhere. So I put in my contacts, put on some pants (when it’s hot, I sleep in a t-shirt) and went off to deal with the situation. Cleaned up the traumatized 6 year old, stripped his bed and changed the sheets, handed him a plastic container to puke into if he couldn’t make it to the bathroom and tried to go back to sleep. But I’d been so amped up trying to figure out if I’d have to take him to the ER, I couldn’t sleep. So I tossed and turned- and was a zombie the rest of the day.

One week later, at 1:30 am, I was woken up by the Oldest Kidlet wailing that he was sick. Apparently it was his turn to vomit. And he did. In his bed, on his arm… but unlike his brother, I didn’t think it was a stomach bug. He had a rash on his leg that required some ointment for it, and I had a feeling he’d managed to get some into his mouth. Strangely, possibly poisoning included, I didn’t go into panic mode. Maybe because the Oldest Kidlet was panicking while I was trying to shove contact lenses into my eyes, so I knew I had to be calm.

Stripped his bed, stayed up for a bit to make sure he was going to keep down the water he’d sipped, and handed him the same plastic container I’d given his brother. Same plastic container I use on bad Crohn’s flareup days. But I didn’t get that burst of adrenaline, so when he went to sleep, I was able to get some sleep. And he didn’t puke at all after that, so I figured I was right.

Unfortunately, my contacts didn’t fare so well. Putting them in the case, in the dark, one of them missed the case and dried up.

There is a bit of a happy ending. I now have glasses, so at least – if my kids want to wake me up dramatically in the dead of the night, they don’t have to wait for me to wake up enough to put in contact lenses.

What about the kidlets?

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I’ve been looking at my recent posts, and it’s all about me and very little about the kidlets. So I thought I’d share some updates.

They’re great. I do have a problem in that I post all of the funny stuff to Twitter as it happens and forget that I have a blog. So maybe I should just save a couple of those anecdotes to post here.

The Little Kidlet is ridiculously geeky (the kidlets both are, but in different ways) and since Captain America: the Winter Soldier has come out, I’ve been treated to a lot of rants from LK wondering why we don’t have a Black Widow movie. “She does everything,” he says.

No, he didn’t see CA:tWS. He probably won’t until it’s out on DVD. But he’s seen all the commercials, and he really loves Black Widow as a character. I bought a Pop! Vinyl Black Widow bobblehead and he touches her head, and talks about how she’s one of the strongest Avengers because she isn’t a super soldier or Asgardian. “She doesn’t need to be those.”

If he was as familiar with DC as he is with Marvel properties, I’m sure he’d be asking why there isn’t a Wonder Woman movie. That’s just who he is.

He’s currently obsessed with all things Pokemon, and I introduced him to the original series.

The Oldest Kidlet isn’t as interested in the Titanic as he once was. Don’t get me wrong, he’s still utterly fascinated by the unsinkable ship and will still tell anyone and everyone the timeline (with dates and times) of that fatal voyage. But most of the time he’s been reading about pirates, or asking me about skyscrapers.

It’s one of the things I love most about him, and that I understand. He has a thirst for knowledge that’s unlike most kids I know- I don’t know many kids who say, “I’ll go see if there’s a documentary about that on YouTube,” after checking it on Netflix first. Just this morning he demanded that I look up what year the Great Pyramid was built, and was astonished that since I love Ancient Egypt that I didn’t know the year. (Admittedly, dates are not my thing, but they are his. He can still tell you the month he was sick and had to miss school in kindergarten- and he’s in second grade now!)

So things are pretty good with these two. We have some ups and downs, but nothing too out of the ordinary.

More thoughts about Bloodlines.

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I know, I already posted a vlog about Bloodlines, but that was very much my on the fly opinion.

But having given it a chance to sit, and being able to discuss it with a few people… I have a few more things that bothered me about the episode- a backdoor pilot for “Supernatural: Bloodlines.”

When the show was first announced, the list of the main characters was comprised of men. It wasn’t until much later that they started to announce female characters. Which was a bit of a relief. Since Supernatural is such a male heavy show already- I was glad to hear that there were some women in the main cast.

Violet, being insulted. No, really.

Violet, being insulted. No, really.

…except that the main female character, Violet, is a love interest. And might not be much more than that, since in the backdoor pilot she was kidnapped and didn’t manage to escape on her own, despite being a werewolf who was able to break free once the hero was also in the scene. The other notable female character is David’s sister, Margo Lassiter- who is running their family since their brother died and their father is very ill. And she fits right into the stereotype of the well-dressed woman who’s just interested in power. Great. Add in the multiple uses of bitch and whore in relation to Violet (who was being married off to another pack, as a power play), and Ennis’s fiance being fridged (more on that in the next paragraph) in the first 10 minutes of the episode… there’s a lot to be concerned about.

Ennis and his fiance in their last seconds together.

Ennis and his fiance in their last seconds together.

Fridged is short for Women in Refrigerators, the trope where a character is murdered/raped/incapacitated in order to get the hero to jump into action (named after the Green Lantern storyline where Kyle Raynor’s girlfriend was murdered and stuffed in a refrigerator, where he would discover her body and thus jump into action). It’s almost exclusively something that happens to female characters to motivate the male hero. In this case, Ennis learns of the supernatural through her death and begins to investigate who was responsible. This isn’t a new trope for Supernatural – in fact, it’s a Winchester legacy. Mary Winchester was fridged, sending John and boys into the life. Jess, Sam’s girlfriend was killed by the same demon who killed Mary in the exact same way for the identical reason. You could try to argue that WiF isn’t a thing, that it does happen with male characters to motivate women- but it happens so rarely, that there isn’t much of a corollary. Off the top of my head, all I can think of is Alias, where Sydney’s fiance was murdered- which got her to turn on her employers. The fabulous Kristen mentioned Steve Rogers – since his “death” pushed Peggy Carter towards founding SHIELD and Jason Voorhees for Friday the 13th. It’s rare, though, since there aren’t many female action leads. And typically, if we are talking about a female action lead, it’s the threat of harm to a loved one that spurs them into action. If it’s a man, there’s usually a body involved.

It was obvious that the intention for this was to create a connection between Sam and Ennis- but it’s completely unnecessary. Ennis is the son of a policeman, and there are a lot of nosy children of lawmen in television (see: Stiles Stilinski of Teen Wolf). Ennis could have simply seen something suspicious on the night of his proposal and become drawn into the investigation. As a bonus, his fiancee (a woman of color, no less) would still be in the cast- and give him someone to hide the supernatural world from. Instant character conflict. And frankly, Sam cares enough about humanity as a whole to try to keep anyone else from joining the Life.

But no. They went with one of the most standard tropes of them all.

You’ll notice I mentioned that his fiancee was a woman of color. One of the other things that I (and others) noticed is that Ennis was the only person of any ethnicity other than White in the show. Anyone with any power in the show? The five families? The bar owner? All White. There wasn’t a single person of any other shade, and this is Chicago! A quick glance at data from the 2010 census shows an ethnic breakdown of: 45% white, ~33% Black or African American, ~30% Hispanic/Latino). When you look at that, it seems highly unlikely that every single person in power in the show, that every member of the five families we’ve met – would be white. There should be at least someone in there that isn’t White, since I’m assuming that they’re family in the same way that mobs were… where there might be some literal family, but mostly it’s people taken into their organization.

Considering the origin of the Djinn, I find it upsetting (to say the least) that on Supernatural (both the regular series and now this spin-off) we’ve never run into a Djinn that wasn’t white.

As I said in the vlog, I did like the premise of the show- that Chicago is, unbeknownst to the human population, run by Monster Families. That there were power struggles within those families, and the obvious complications of the human and supernatural worlds mixing.

But the writing was less than inspired (in fact an entire argument between David and Violet actually happened between Dean and Castiel). And the writers made choices with the story that weren’t anything new (see: the fridging, Margo Lassiter who just wants to start a war). Factor in the uninspired casting, and this is a show that I’m going to pass on, unless there are substantial improvements made.

Update: The CW passed on Supernatural: Bloodlines for the upcoming fall season, but said they weren’t writing off the possibility of a different spin-off. Here’s to hoping that they’ll avoid the same mistakes.

[Vlog] Whitney Watches SPN 9.20 “Bloodlines”

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That’s right- last night a new episode of Supernatural aired, and I am bringing you a short vlog about “Bloodlines” – the spin-off pilot for Supernatural: Bloodlines.

For those who don’t click through, I didn’t go into how this episode fits into Season 9, because it doesn’t really. The story begins with one of the leads from Bloodlines, and the Winchesters show up and mostly play backup to the characters. And at the end, Dean gets a message from Cas which takes them out of Chicago and back into the main timeline.

The main character, a human, is going to propose to his girlfriend- only to have her tragically killed when a wounded man stumbles into them and is murdered. The investigation into both deaths leads him to discover that Chicago is filled with monsters. In true Chicago fashion, there are five families that control the city- each a different type of monster. (TheBoy tweeted that this was Supernatural meets the Sopranos) So the human has to team up with the Winchesters and a shapeshifter to unravel who killed his fiance.

It’s an interesting world they’ve set up, and certainly a premise that’ll be interesting. But I wasn’t wowed by the writing. Especially by the way that the werewolf Violet was treated. Supernatural isn’t exactly known for shying away from calling women bitches. Dean does it somewhat regularly, and it’s jarring- but not too bad. In one episode, I can recall Violet being called a bitch three times, and a whore once. Someone will certainly try to say it isn’t as bad because she’s a werewolf, hence it’s a dog term- but I’d say it made it worse since then it becomes a slur as it’s said by shapeshifters.

However, I do like the premise. And I liked the relationship between David (the main shapeshifter) and Violet, as well as the dynamics within David’s family. I just hope that the writing tightens up.

JJ, Where Are The Women?

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As you’ve probably heard, Star Wars: Episode VII is starting to film, and the main cast list has been announced. And in that list, there’s only one new woman (the other is Carrie Fisher). What gives?

Sure, there weren’t a lot of women in the Original Trilogy – the only main female character was Leia. And the only other real female characters of any importance were Aunt Beru and Mon Mothma. (I have a hard time counting Oola since her sole purpose was to dance around and then be eaten by the Rancor)

But the Extended Universe happened. And while I don’t blame JJ Abrams for wanting to ignore decades of material for the new trilogy (only because there are a lot of existing storylines, and you’d either have to adapt one of the more well known ones or try to find a tiny gap in time to fit something new in), I’m disappointed that he ignored one of the fantastic things that the EU brought us. Female characters. Everywhere you looked, there were new and interesting female characters- and I’m just going to list the examples that first popped into my head. Lots of female pilots for both the Empire and the Rebellion. There was Guri, the human replicator droid in Shadows of the Empire. Admiral Daala (a female Imperial Admiral). And last (but not least) MaraJade and Jaina Solo! In most of the books you picked up, there was at least one female character.

The comics added their fair share of female characters, too- in fact it was the comics that introduced the Dathomir Nightsisters, Sith Witches who were skilled in the Force. Video games? I could start listing all the female characters, but we’d be here for a while.

While there weren’t a lot of new major female characters in the prequels, there were certainly a lot of secondary characters. Naboo had a matriarchal society- with an elected queen whose handmaidens were all trained to protect her. We had female fighter pilots. There were women on the Jedi Council – and plenty of named Jedi were women. Heck, we saw a female Hutt. It was clear that this was a universe where women existed and weren’t just slaves.

And the animated series only expanded on that. The Clone Wars featured two main female characters, Ahsoka Tano and Asajj Ventriis, women with faults and strengths. They were also generally more interesting than the male characters (sorry Anakin, but it’s true). Star Wars Rebels also prominently features female characters, and has received a lot of support for that from the fanbase.

You can’t tell me that there’s no foundation for a Star Wars movie with more than two female characters (one of which is Leia, who I doubt will be in the bulk of the movie). If the hardcore fans bought the diversity in books, games and comics- they’ll buy it in a movie, too, not to mention in merchandise. Fans which include a lot of women- and judging by the success of Ashley Eckstein’s HerUniverse clothing line, women do buy merchandise. Frankly, the excuse of “it’s the way it’s been” holds no water- we can always improve things and should. Sci-fi has long been a medium for people to showcase diversity and tolerance, so frankly, it’s hard to justify a mostly male cast (and mostly white, but that is an entirely different rant that I’ll let someone else make).

For those curious why I’m so passionate about this, Star Wars was really my first fandom- and indeed it’s still one of my great loves. I’ve been a geek for my entire life and was shunned from a lot of communities for being a girl. And yet, in the Star Wars online communities, I was welcomed. For a decade, a friend and I ran an online Star Wars RPG. We were unique because most of the players were female, and yes, we had a hard time attracting new players – because some assumed that the games were somehow girlier. In fact, none of the stories really hinged on the characters being women. They could have easily been stories about men- our focus was more on pushing the characters in stories we found entertaining. The one storyline that I regret to this day was one where one of the female characters has a miscarriage. I was talked into it, and I still regret it because it wasn’t done for any reason other than a plot device – which was terrible. But to answer the lingering question- the guys who did show up? They had a lot of fun and only dropped out because real life got too hectic to keep up with our group.

My partner in crime from Wolle Sector currently runs the Star Wars LARP at WyrdCon (Cantina Far Far Away), and it’s a popular game. Her NPCs are a pretty even mix of male and female. And true to the way she wrote stuff in our game, the gender of the NPCs or PCs has no bearing on the story she’s telling. She just wants to tell a fun and interesting story. Which is as it should be.

I’m sure I’ll go see the new Star Wars movie. I’m just disappointed that there aren’t more women – because there are plenty of women in the Star Wars Universe that I’m familiar with.

Update 6:30pm PST: According to THR, Abrams says they still have one more female role to cast. Which is nice to hear, but I’m admittedly suspicious that they announced their cast, then suddenly said it wasn’t complete after the internet began to complain. There was no mention if there were any more uncast male roles. Oh well, I suppose we’ll find out when the movie’s finished.

Six Months!

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As many of you might remember, I went to the hospital mid January for a flare-up of my Crohn’s disease. A terrible, terrible flare-up that resulted in my being put on prednisone for awhile to help the inflammation go down.

I envisioned a year of monthly doctor’s visits, monthly blood draws. And it seemed exhausting.

So I got stuck with a needle a few times. One time I was given a hard time by the phlebotomist (I love that word) for having a different last name from my husband. Another time the phlebotomist just jabbed me in the vein and I had a bruise for a week. The other time nothing really happened.

I went to my gastroenterologist and we talked about my progress. About how I was sticking to my diet, making more things from scratch, and easing into running again.

And at my last visit? He was so impressed by my stats…. that I don’t have to go back for six months! (Unless I have a flare-up, then I’m supposed to call him) I’ve recovered very quickly, and I really do think I owe it to sticking to my diet (no cow’s milk, no corn, smaller portion sizes), not cheating when I go out to eat, and being as active as my body will allow.

I’m not in the shape I want to be in. I’m still squishy around the middle, and I lost a lot of muscle tone when I was in the hospital. But I have energy. My body is bouncing back a lot faster than anyone expected – so I must be doing something right.

Friday Food – week ending 4/24

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I thought I’d try something new and sort of collect the dishes that I make during the week and share them here with links and my thoughts.

First, is a dish that I tried for the first time. Shanghai Noodles.

Shanghai Noodles

This was delicious! I admit, I didn’t make it with pork (I had ground turkey at home), but it was delicious and so very easy to make. I was able to find all the ingredients I didn’t already have in my grocery store- except for fresh shanghai noodles, I subbed in udon (as the recipe recommended). If you can’t find dark soy, it’s easy to find recipes to substitute it online, too.

Since my stay in the hospital, I’ve really dived into making Asian foods, since there isn’t really any dairy in them – and the dishes use a lot of the same core ingredients (so spices and sauces don’t go bad). And it’s fast, which fits quite nicely in my life. So I get fresh food that cooks quickly!

It’s actually the only new recipe I’ve made this week. I could post about the Tikka Masala recipe I use- but all my pictures I’ve taken have been horrific. Why can’t dinner be at a time when I can shoot pictures with natural lighting?

As an apology for my terrible food photography, have this picture of me:

yours truly

At least I can get decent pictures of myself no matter what the lighting is.

[Vlog] Whitney Watches SPN: 9.19 “Alex Annie Alexis Ann”

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I thought I’d continue my Whitney Watches series, by tackling Supernatural next! Only I thought there were enough recap videos and websites, that maybe I could take a closer look at the series itself.

Spoilers abound in the video, but please – watch it! What were your thoughts on the episode- what grade would you have given it? I want to know!