Shaking things up.

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Anyone who’s known me for any period of time knows that I have a soft spot for the Galactic Empire. Sure they’re the bad guys, sure they lose in the end (as they should) – but I always had fun pretending. Sneering, etc. And the Imperial March is kick-ass.

No more. It’s fun to be the bad guy when it’s just fiction – but the truth is, the line between fiction and fact has blurred to a point now where I can’t. It’s harder for me to ignore that the Galactic Empire is based on human supremacy… which would be white supremacy in real world terms. It’s not a stretch – their lingo was taken from Nazis. Lucas didn’t invent the name stormtroopers. He built on something terrifying that we would recognize to create the ultimate cinematic evil. (And they’ve made it even more blatant. My son recognized the First Order’s assembly as looking a lot like the Third Reich)

With politics as they are, I can’t pretend anymore. It was easy to think that sort of evil didn’t exist as a large group anymore, that it was scattered pockets of hate – but this election legitimized it. Normalized it. It told people filled with hate that they could step out of the shadows and wouldn’t face retribution for it. Indeed our president elect and his family attempted to tell us that those reports were overblown and likely lies. (Which is a little something called gaslighting. It’s done by abusers to continue their abuse- it’s telling someone that their perception of reality is wrong. It isn’t correcting a lie or being mistaken.)

I’m not going to set aside my anger and rage, no matter what politician tells me ‘it isn’t really that bad’ (even one hateful act committed because someone was emboldened by Trump’s rhetoric is too much). I’m not going to believe that Trump’s followers will listen to his half-hearted “just stop” from his interview on 60 Minutes – especially not when he hired a white nationalist to be his chief strategist. Complacency is what got us into this mess.

People with far more privilege and influence than I have kept looking around and saying, we have laws in place to stop discrimination… we’ve done enough. And ignored all the marginalized groups who said the fight wasn’t done. (And that includes gays and lesbians in the LGBTQ community, white feminists – who repeatedly overlook the needs of marginalized groups within their numbers.)

So I’m putting away my Imperial cogs. And pulling out my Rebel crest. This is a Rebellion isn’t it? I rebel.

i-rebel-icon

Image: mine – I made the vector off an image of the logo, added text

The Day After.

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I’m sitting here, angry and frustrated. Heartbroken.

I watched so many people on my Facebook feed talk about how they were going to vote for a third party… whether it was out of principle or protest. Because they “just couldn’t vote for either candidate.”

You’d have to be delusional not to understand that while we do have third parties – we are not set up for a third party system. What ends up happening is that a third party forms a coalition well after Democrats and Republicans begin campaigning, so all they do is gain a small amount of momentum once the primaries are complete.

So votes for third party candidates (and write-in candidates) end up splitting the vote between the two main parties. And typically cause close races and upsets. Like they did with Bush & Gore, and like they did tonight.

I noticed a common thread amongst those third party voters. All were white. All were straight. None identify as LGBTQ. Most had a college education. (These were the ones who were open about it in their feed)

In short, they’re the people who would do just fine no matter who came into power.

You and I can discuss whether or not it’s a shame that we don’t have a system that supports a third party (it is – third parties are historically agents of major political change). But that doesn’t change that of the two major candidates, you had a person who spent their entire career in public service, but who admittedly is not a perfect person. And you had a celebrity whose entire platform catered to white individuals, by wanting to undo progress. That painted all Muslims as dangerous, painted Mexican immigrants as rapists and murderers. That said whatever it felt like, and pretended they didn’t say things that they did. Whose candidate spent more time on Twitter bashing his enemies, than he did actually learning about foreign policy and the basics of how the government works.

It doesn’t change that in order to stand by his principles, you had to ignore how his presidency could affect all of those minority groups. And decide that it would be okay, because it wouldn’t affect you. Because you could stand by your “principles.” (I’m sure a lot of them are the same people who sniff that they’ll move to Canada. Because they have the resources to do so)

I’m standing by my own. Because, imperfect system or not, it’s our duty to try to pick the candidate that we know has a shot at winning and who would do the best job. And all those privileged third party voters… ignored so many people in our country that this administration would leave behind.

But the blame isn’t solely on third party voters. A lot of the blame lies with the television media who gave Donald Trump a platform when he was a joke. Who brought him on to morning shows because his outrageousness drew in viewers who wanted to see what he’d say next. And they normalized his hate, his arrogance, his ignorance.

When it was clear that he had a shot at winning, they tried to backtrack – but it was too late. Every television station is guilty of this, local to national to cable networks. It’s one of the reasons I’ve begun relying on newspapers for coverage.

So thank you, ambivalent white people and ratings hungry networks. Thank you very much. The damage that this presidency is already doing will take time to untangle.

But really, thank you for giving me a focus for the next four years. I am, as I have always been, committed to making the country a more fair place for all Americans (and not just to improve my own rights – I will readily admit there are minority groups worse off than me, and nobody deserves to live in fear). You’ve just lit a fire under me.

To everyone upset- Stay. Fight. Don’t give up on America. Show those filled with hate (whether it’s a small flicker of it or a bonfire) that they can’t destroy our light.

It doesn’t change the bitter disappointment. The lack of faith I have in people, for being able to overlook someone who regularly gaslights everyone around him. Because the party he represents would benefit their status quo.

Edit: There’s a lot more at work here – but I’m going to need a lot more time to mentally unpack and discuss the white women who refused to vote for Hillary. (Which mostly is on how divisive the primary elections were)

State of the Whitney

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I am a busy person.

I lost track of this fall and found myself trying to get my Rey costume together last minute…. and no. I’m going to save that costume for Wondercon. She deserves my full effort. The good thing is that I have everything I need to make the costume, but the time. Everything for the wig, everything for the basic costume. I was still waiting for the bandages for her arms – so I don’t have to worry about that now.

And I have plenty of things I can put together for a cosplay (and for Halloween).

Lots of things to do, not enough time. So I’m just gonna do what you do. Postpone the things you can and focus on those you can’t.

(Speaking of postponing – this week’s Supergirl vlog will likely go up on Thursday or Friday. Due to circumstances beyond my control I can’t film today, which makes it impossible to get up tomorrow. But feel free to DM me if you want to talk about the episode! I’m @whitneyd on Twitter)

Down w/ Locker Room Banter.

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This post is shamelessly inspired by TW’s post on FB about something her daughter said, but it’s been on my mind since last week.

It’s easy to say that what Donald Trump said in that Access Hollywood tape was vile – especially when he claims it’s locker room banter. But the issue is that the more we talk about how it isn’t locker room banter, we ignore what men do talk about in spaces where they feel like they can say whatever is on their mind.

Sure, I’m a woman. But I’ve worked in a lot of male dominant jobs and have a lot of guy friends. So I’ve heard a lot of things over the years. Mostly from close male friends complaining about how they were disgusted by conversations.

Things like male coworkers discussing the ‘color of the day’ about underwear that women were wearing. Rating women on scales, often to their faces. Coming up with unflattering nicknames used behind the woman’s back. Sharing pictures their girlfriends sent them, that probably weren’t intended to be shared. Talking about how they cheat on their significant others.

And that’s “normal.” That’s “acceptable.” That’s also rape culture. (Which, for those new here is all the stuff we do as a society that normalizes sexual violence. Like wondering what a victim was wearing or what they were doing, not placing the blame on the aggressor. Discounting assault as boys will be boys.)

(more…)

The Vlog is BACK!

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Well, after a long gap in vlogging (I really was having a hard time getting over the cancellation of Agent Carter) – the Vlog is back!

I’m doing another #WhitneyWatches video, but this time I’m taking on my biggest challenge yet – Season Two of Supergirl! This video’s mostly about the new additions and what changes switching to the CW has brought.

If you haven’t yet, please take a second to subscribe to my YouTube channel and give the video a thumbs up! (Even though, the Pens fan in me is tickled that I’m currently at 87 subscribers)

Biphobia and some really shitty timing.

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bisexual visibility dayI’m out. I’m bi. I am fortunate enough to be in a position where I can be more or less out in all of my life. My family, my close friends all know. I work for a company where that doesn’t matter, and so things are good.

But growing up, I knew I liked boys and girls. (Okay, by middle school I knew) Sex ed classes mentioned it was okay to like boys or to like girls. But not both. I knew that bisexuality was a thing, but to be honest, the only time I’d heard about bisexuals it was about bisexual men at Studio 54. And that was all about hedonism and excess.

Which, I just wanted a one person to date. So that wasn’t me.

In community theater, I knew a lot of people who slept with a lot of other people of both genders- but it was either described as a lesbian phase, a self-described slut, or there was no descriptor.

None of which helped me. In fact, I drank a lot in high school in order not to think about how outside of everything I felt. The guilt I felt for covering up noticing someone’s curves by joking that I wished I had bigger breasts, too.

College was where I found my label, and where I realized that biphobia was a real thing. I met a girl. And she liked me. But when she found out I was bi, she told me it wouldn’t work. She didn’t want to be my experiment. And I literally didn’t tell anyone about that until I was already living with TheBoy. Because it hurt and it was mortifying. (Biphobia is any stereotype that suggests that bisexuals aren’t entitled to their own label – like the idea that we’re experimenting, damaged, or sex addicts… not people who happen to be attracted to more than one gender of people)

This week has been Bisexual Visibility Week (and today’s Bisexual Visibility Day), and odds are you’ve seen some silly tweets about myths about bisexuals. It’s the community’s way of dealing with the idiotic things we’ve heard about ourselves.

And most of yesterday, the book side of Twitter and Tumblr watched as VOYA Magazine pulled a Hamilton & the Reynolds Pamphlet.

Here’s the cliff notes version – VOYA Magazine (Voices of Youth Advocates) is a publication for YA librarians. Because of the thousands of books that come out, they review books so that librarians can read the reviews and decide what books to add to their YA sections. They posted a review of Run by Kody Keplinger that was a little odd. The book features a bisexual main character, and ultimately the book warned for a bisexual character and mature themes, saying it was appropriate for mature young adult readers.

But it warned for the bisexual character and didn’t even warn for the heterosexual sex mentioned in the actual review. (Which the author of the book actually pointed out via Twitter)

So SFF author Tristina Wright (who is bisexual) emailed them with her discomfort, talking about the importance of inclusive reviews for LGBTQIA youth. And got a really terrible response from one of VOYA’s editors.

(This is where I noticed it popping up in my Twitter feed)

When people asked for some form of apology for posting a biphobic review, and tried really hard to at least get VOYA to understand WHY librarians and authors alike were upset by this review… VOYA posted an apology on their site. And tweeted a link to it that it was the apology demanded by the LGBTQ community.

And it was one of those apologies that parents hate for their children to give (and frankly, that everyone hates to get from anyome) – where they’re sorry you’re upset. With no actual admission of guilt.

All while someone at VOYA sniped at people trying to explain what was going on, policing tone.

There was another clarification from one of the owners of VOYA that was much better – though it referred to bisexuality as a lifestyle, and people who pointed that out got flack for it.

Then VOYA just started deleting things. Comments, blocking people who posted criticism, and then… deleting everything relating to this entire thing.

If you want to see screencaps, Sarah from Bisexualbooks.com has been documenting it. It’ll show it all in reverse, but there are a lot of screencaps, and it’s worth the read.

Unbiased reviews are important, especially for a publication like VOYA. It’s disappointing to see such an immature reaction to a serious issue, especially given the timing of all of this.

If someone says you’re being any kind of phobic, whether it’s Islamophobic, homophobic, biphobic… you owe it to yourself to listen. It’s hard to hear that you’re saying something hurtful, but take a moment and listen to what they have to say – because odds are, you just weren’t aware that something was hurtful or why.

Don’t double down and act like VOYA’s staff.

Trauma. Recovery is A Never-Ending Fight.

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20160912_183408_20160912183547741Note: If you’re one of the parties mentioned in this ongoing drama, just stop reading my site. This post is about my recovery, and I share it in the hopes that it might help someone dealing with Trauma feel like they aren’t broken. Or help loved ones understand what someone is going through. I’ll be sad to miss one of the 10 regular readers of this site, but you really aren’t going to find what you’re looking for here. I’m not going to out anyone. I just need to work through this stuff.

Last night, I had a weird freak-out. It’s all related to The Tape. While TheBoy still has The Thief in his life, I’m shielded from him – there’s no direct conversation with me. But TheBoy’s friends now with someone who is also friends with The Thief… and they don’t know the whole story.

And because TheBoy is friends with this person (which btw, I have no issues with that person or him having new friends), The Thief and their immediate circle are bound to pop up in my social media feeds.

So I freaked out. It’s a testament to how far we’ve come, that he sat there and let me talk and talk while I fumbled for the right words to explain exactly what’s bothering me. And clarify what wasn’t the issue. In years past, that wouldn’t have happened. (Neither of us were patient in our 20s, which shouldn’t be too surprising)

And once he understood that this was Trauma related, he knew exactly what to do. Told me to pour myself a drink (I got through the Tape incident thanks to the occasional glass of sipping rum to help me unwind) and made sure I didn’t feel alone.

Granted, it’s been long enough since I had a freak-out like this, I forgot about rehydrating right before bed and woke up with a headache.

Emotional hangover. It’s a thing. (Learn from my mistakes – if you get in a big fight with someone or have a meltdown, drink something with electrolytes. And do the same thing when you wake up.)

So for those who have a loved one who is dealing with Trauma – you don’t just “get over it.” Sure, they might be find the majority of the time… but just like grief, sometimes you run into unforeseen landmines that trip you up. All you can do is support them through it.

I’m Tired.

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This is a big weekend. Lots of people remembering 9/11 with a solemnity and fervor that I simply can’t muster any more. I won’t ever forget it, but I can’t dwell on it. The lessons that we as a nation have taken from it weren’t the right ones.

Instead of coming together, recognizing extremism (which we did for a far too brief period of time), we’ve punished anyone who is Muslim or might look like they’re Muslim – ignoring the truths about a religion that is peaceful. Just being shepherded world-wide by extremists and fear. (I’m mostly talking about our media and political agendas, not Islam. While extremists do shape public perception of what Islam is, I personally fault the media for its part.)

We’ve invaded countries, killed innocent people – and set up a hostile climate around the world where innocent people have been killed because of how we reacted.

I will never forget what happened. But at the same time, I will not leave that moment in a bubble and act as though everything we as a nation have done since then has been honorable.

I love our country. I want to comfort all those who lost someone in 9/11. But I want to stop other people from losing family members because of the climate of hate that’s been breeding since that attack.

(I appreciate those who serve our country, for making that difficult decision to put their lives at risk to hopefully make the world a better place, and defend what we stand for as a nation. I support the veterans who’ve returned. I don’t support the people who use veterans and those serving to change the subject for what’s going on in the world)

TRAILER: HIDDEN FIGURES (and raising a kid who asks tough questions)

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So one of the downsides to raising socially aware children is that they’re going to ask you uncomfortable questions.

The Oldest Kidlet is going through a massive space phase (though I get the inkling that this isn’t a phase, but a calling). Where I wanted to be an astronaut at his age, he wants to put people in space. (If you have a space minded kid like mine, our two favorite games are Universe Sandbox – where you can create your own solar system, and Kerbal Space Program – where you can build your own rockets, shuttles and rovers, and explore a fictional space station. Note: Kerbal has a pretty high learning curve because you have to learn about the angles of trajectory. There’s a WIKI with walkthroughs, but it takes a fair amount of crashing to get the hang of it. You can get both on Steam)

So when I saw the trailer for Hidden Figures, I watched it through and let him take a look. Hidden Figures is the true story of some of the unknown members of NASA’s team for the Moon Race – three African-American Women.

And after watched it, he looked at me. “They weren’t in any of the books I read this summer.” (And he read a lot about space this summer) “Why haven’t we heard about them? Is that because they’re women?” His voice lowered. “Was it because they were black women?” His brow furrowed. “That’s stupid!”

Which it is. And I’m proud of the fact that my nearly 11 year old son can watch something like this and these are the questions he asks and the conclusions he comes to. A couple years ago, he wouldn’t have pieced that together.

His class’s unit on California Missions was pretty interesting for that same reason- he devoured the history, but ranted at home for ages about how unfair it was that the Native American tribes had their culture ripped away from them. And that makes me happy. Because part of growing as human beings is being able to appreciate the accomplishments, but criticize the mistakes.

The only downside of this, is that you’re never really aware of where conversations will go. He’s surprised me numerous times by asking me about news stories he sees when he opens up the browser to go to YouTube. Or when he didn’t understand cellular division when he was watching Cosmos, and I ended up having a long discussion with him about how fetuses grow from a single cell. (We’ve had to preface those conversations as ones that he shouldn’t go yakking about with friends, because it’s up to other parents to decide when conversations like that happen)

And don’t get me started on how most of these conversations pop up in the car…

Are you excited for Hidden Figures?

When “Mad Love” is Abuse.

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suicide-squad-poster-harley-quinn-1-405x600Confession: I haven’t seen Suicide Squad yet. I was at a conference last weekend, and work’s been crazy busy. But what I have been is a fan of Harley Quinn since she was introduced in Batman: The Animated Series. So I was not surprised to hear that Harley & Joker are still in an abusive relationship.

However, I am sad, upset and disappointed that so many people are trying to claim that this is a romantic ideal type relationship. Or find ways to excuse abusive behavior as being deviant, not abuse. (I’m not surprised – I stopped being surprised when Hot Topic had their ‘Mad Love’ Valentine’s Sale with their merch)

Some history for non DC fans: In the cartoon, Psychologist Harleen Quinzel was obsessed with Joker and became Harley Quinn. He used that obsession of hers in order to get her to do what he wanted. There was no love there. Not on his end, at least. He used her, he berated her, and he hurt her. It was abuse- physical and emotional.

It’s been that way in the comics since she began appearing there, and only recently did Harley break the cycle. (Which, btw, has led to one of my favorite comic panels of all time – Harley punching Lobo)

So it’s not surprising that Harley in Suicide Squad is in the same position. Why? Because part of Harley’s appeal isn’t just the costume. It’s the underlying strength and brightness. It’s the spark of who she is that Joker can’t stamp out. The part that has her helping little kids, even if she’s a villain. The part that’s always believed she could befriend Poison Ivy (and she did). We just want her to be happy in the end. She can be happy and be a supervillain/anti-hero. Not arguing against that. Also, it takes incredible strength to survive abuse and keep that spark. No amount of reviews calling her a victim or abused diminishes that strength or that spark.

But the real problem comes from either downplaying their abusive relationship or romanticizing it – because there are so many younger fans who simply aren’t taught to recognize abuse until it’s much too late. Media today is filled with relationships that are either outright abusive or portray abusive tendencies as love. (Look at nearly every sitcom in the last decade. Actually… since television began. Couples who love each other gaslight each other for comedic effect. They tear down each other’s self images to make themselves seem better. I mean, I Love Lucy? Not the healthiest relationship. King of Queens? One of the most toxic sitcom marriages of all time. They might not lay a hand on each other, but nothing they do is emotionally healthy)

If we try to saying their relationship isn’t abusive because they’re supervillains who live by different rules, we’re ignoring that even at the core – they’re still humans. It’s their humanity that makes them relatable. Even if this was some elaborate game that they’re playing, it would require some equity. You can argue that the origin story has some equality (Harley chooses to jump into the acid, rather than Joker pushing her in as he did in the rebooted comics), but beyond that – are they on an even playing field at all?

On that note, if we try to portray their relationship as being Dominant/submissive (aka BDSM), then that’s just an irresponsible depiction of BDSM. Even with the power dynamic at work in BDSM, in healthy BDSM there’s equality- the submissive sets the boundaries and the Dominant works within that space. The sub is free to let get go (and submit) because there’s trust that the Dom will know when to stop. That isn’t the case with Harley and Joker. It will always be his rules they’re playing by, so it will never be an actual D/s relationship between them, no matter how much Harley seems to enjoy the game.

(And yes, you can have very healthy relationships that use BDSM – because they’re built on communication, boundaries and trust)

Abuse has been rooted in their relationship from the start. In B:TAS episode and comic named ‘Mad Love’, Harley came the closest that just about anyone has come to killing Batman. Batman has to convince Harley to call Joker to see him die, in order to give him time to escape. When the Joker arrives, he actually slaps her and yells at her – because he wanted to be the one to do kill the Batman. Bruised and heartbroken, she realizes that he doesn’t love her, but is won back over when he sends her a Get Well Soon card and a flower – which is classic behavior from an abuser. Making sure she’ll forgive him so he can continue acting as he always has.

There can be no true cat and mouse game between them, where they one up the other with a trail of crimes and bodies behind them because of the lack of equality in their relationship. She might see it as that, she might be on board, but time and time again – he’ll set Harley up to be the fall guy. To be in harm’s way. That isn’t love. Even a ‘mad love.’

If you’re someone who really wants to think that Harley and Joker aren’t abusive, ask yourself the tough question – why? Or make a clear case as to why in the comments.

(I do plan on seeing Suicide Squad, but feel free to discuss their relationship. If there’s something that somehow changes their dynamic in this movie – that accomplishes making it twisted vs abusive, let me know)