The Sketchy Feminist

Staring down the male gaze, or: Looking at looking at women in popular culture

Tag: women in popular culture

Now that Friends is on Netflix, let’s all take a moment to hate Ross Geller

Full disclosure: I don’t have a lot to say about Ross in general that Ana Mardoll hasn’t already covered in her Ross-related Friends deconstruction posts over at Ana Mardoll’s Rambling. So, I recommend you go check those out.

And Mardoll is not the only person to have pointed out what a horrible, horrible Nice Guy (TM) Ross is. (Though honestly, a quick Google search for “Ross Geller nice guy tm” yields fewer immediate results than I would have expected.) That being said, I think there’s still plenty of room in this world for more hatred of the fictional character Ross Geller. And I’d like to contribute some of my own hate to that hatred pool.

Content Note for: rude gestures, cursing, vitriolic hatred of a fictional character, discussion of unwanted touching in a fictional scene

Mac and I frequently eat meals together at home, and when we do, we like to watch TV. Right now, we’re alternating between Friends and Syfy’s special effects makeup elimination show, Face Off. (OMG, y’all. We are such huge fans of Face Off it’s not even funny. Go Team Laura!) We started at Friends episode 1 and we’re now in season 3. And we really like it! It’s cute, it’s frequently funny, and I even like the cheesy theme song. (It also has a host of flaws — like presenting a weirdly whitewashed New York — that I’m not going to go into right now, as this post is devoted to hating Ross.) So, Mac and I are eating, and we’re watching, and I eat pretty slowly (a holdover from a former eating disorder). And I had never seen Friends before. OK, that’s a lie, because I grew up with television in the 90s, but I had never seen the show in order before. And sometimes I would want to say something to Mac about my feelings on the show, but I would be busy enjoying my food and wouldn’t find actual talking worth the effort. Also, what I wanted to say about Ross (or to or at Ross, as it were, when the character was on screen) tended not to vary very much.

. . . which is what led to the middle finger on my left hand being dubbed “the Ross Finger.” (Which sounds way dirtier than it is, but being that it’s a rude gesture, is still actually pretty dirty?) Because sometimes you just have to flip a fictional character off.

Because Ross is terrible. Just so, so bad. In the show, Ross is a “nerd” (well, he likes dinosaurs, science and Slave Leia, at least) and he’s “shy”. And I think both of these traits are supposed to be endearing. The dinosaur thing is cute, I’ll grant you — and I find it legit adorbs that he spun his childhood love of dinosaurs into a paleontology career — but as a socially awkward nerd myself, I’m offended by Ross. His “shyness” is all about protecting his own feelings at the expense of other people, and that’s just not OK. He treats Rachel, the supposed love of his life, as a prize to be won, and that’s super-duper not OK. He kept an illegal exotic monkey as a pet, and then asked Rachel, his crush, to watch it at the apartment she shared with his sister, without telling either of them that the monkey was, in fact, an illegal exotic, and then yelled at Rachel for calling animal control when she lost track of the animal. And even if I can sympathize with yelling at someone for losing your pet, (a) dude shouldn’t have implicated the Girl He’s Totally-for-Realsies in Love With in his illegal activities without her consent (or, y’know, at all) and (b) there are actual legit reasons not to keep an illegal exotic animal as a pet in the first place, and the regulations you’re flouting largely have to do with the health and well-being of the animal, and WTF is wrong with you, Ross!?? (You can’t see it, but I’m totally holding up my Ross Finger right now.)

Anyway, one of the reasons I wanted to talk about my visceral hatred of Ross (aside from finding complaining about the character fun, which I do) was so that I could talk about a particular scene, from season 3, episode 16, “The One with the Morning After.” This takes place after the infamous “we were on a break” stuff, and Ross is trying to pressure Rachel to get back together with her after she’s found out that he slept with another woman. I actually think that the entire scene is well-acted and well-written. I also think that it beautifully highlights a lot of the most horrible things about Ross, and, as such, I believe it deserves a closer look (transcript taken from http://www.friendstranscripts.tk/):

[Later, in the living room, Rachel is sitting on the couch, Ross is on the chair.]

Ross: What, now you’re not even taking to me? (moves over to the coffee table) Look Rachel, I-I’m sorry, okay, I’m sorry, I was out of my mind. I thought I’d lost you, I didn’t know what to do. Come on! Come on, how insane must I have been to do something like this? Huh? I-I don’t cheat right, I, that’s not me, I’m not Joey!

Let’s break this down a little. In the above exchange, Ross starts off by criticizing Rachel’s behavior:

Ross: What, now you’re not even taking to me? (moves over to the coffee table)

Maybe she doesn’t feel like talking to you right now, Ross. Gee, what could be the reason . . .

Ross [cont’d]: Look Rachel, I-I’m sorry, okay, I’m sorry, I was out of my mind.

Well, at least there’s an apology in there somewhere. I mean, it’s framed by a command (“Look Rachel,” which roughly translates into “You have to listen to me because you’re just not seeing things properly let me explain”) and an ableist, responsibility-deflecting excuse (“I was out of my mind”), but there are two “I’m sorry”s in there, so good job boy here’s a cookie. He follows this up with:

Ross [cont’d]: I thought I’d lost you, I didn’t know what to do. Come on! Come on, how insane must I have been to do something like this? Huh?

“Come on, Eileen!” Every time I see “come on” now, it reminds me of Jenny Trout’s 50 Shades deconstructions (at least I think that’s where this was, as I can’t remember the exact chapter or post) and her pointing out that Christian tells Ana to “come” whenever he wants her to follow him somewhere and to “come on” whenever he wants her to actually come. Anyway, “come on” is something you say to a person when (a) you want them to follow you, (b) they are being unreasonable and you’re trying to call their attention to it or (c) when you’re Christian Grey and you want Anastasia Steele to orgasm. Here’s the Urban Dictionary page for “come on.” Ross has no business saying “come on” here. Also, bonus douche points for the bonus ableism. It wasn’t his fault, because temporary insanity!

Ross [cont’d]: I-I don’t cheat right, I, that’s not me, I’m not Joey!

Dude, leave Joey out of this. Rachel wasn’t dating Joey. This here, what Ross is doing right here? It really bothers me. It’s a really human thing to do, and doing it is a really easy trap to fall into, but it leads to so much bad. This is the “I’m not a bad person” defense, and it sucks and is usually irrelevant to the issue at hand. Related versions are the “I am not a racist” defense and the “I am not a sexist” defense. The standard argument goes something like, “I am not bad, therefore I could not have done a bad thing,” and there’s just no arguing with that kind of logic, because it is not logic. (OK, it’s a kind of logic, but it’s based on the two assumptions that people can be essentially good and that essentially good people never do bad things, because Good people are like Asimov robots except that they follow the Three Laws of Absolute Moral Virtue instead of the Three Laws of Robotics.)

Just yesterday, I was watching this TED talk by Brené Brown — Because TED talks are on Netflix now too. Who knew, right? — called “Listening to Shame.” In it, Brown talks about how shame relates to how we see ourselves (“I am a bad person”) while guilt relates to the knowledge that we’ve done something bad (“I did a bad thing, and I’m sorry”). Guilt is the useful emotion that helps us with empathy and with learning to not do crappy stuff in the future. Shame is the significantly less useful emotion that corresponds positively with depression and other lovely stuff like that. Here, Ross is so focused on shielding himself from shame that he refuses to acknowledge the possibility of his own guilt.

And then he flips the script on Rachel with this lovely follow-up:

Ross: Y’know what, y’know what, I’m-I’m not the one that wanted that, that break, okay. You’re the one that bailed on us. You’re the one that, that ran when things got just a little rough!

Rachel: That’s….

Ross: That’s what?!

Rachel: That is neither here nor there.

Ross: Okay, well here we are. Now we’re in a tough spot again, Rach. What do you want to do? How do you want to handle it? Huh? Do you wanna fight for us? Or, do you wanna bail? (sits down next to her)

Dude, are you daring her to get back together with you? Also: you were the one who went full-throttle “I don’t feel like I have a girlfriend” when she had to work on your anniversary. (Never heard of rescheduling? I’ve rescheduled birthdays, Christmases and lots of other celebrations for friends and family. That’s what you do when someone is busy, but you still want to celebrate an event.) And then went to her office and made a bunch of noise while she was in the middle of a work phone call at the first job she has ever loved and then (accidentally, but still) set her desk on fire with romantic candlelight. And then slept with someone else when you thought you were on that “break.” Also, way to move responsibility for your own actions onto her.

Ross [cont’d]: Look, I, (on the verge of tears) I did a terrible, stupid, stupid thing. Okay? And I’m sorry, I wish I could take it back, but I can’t.

This is much better than the previous apology. And it even includes the acknowledgment on Ross’s part that Ross did a bad thing! Yay!

Then there’s this:

Ross [cont’d]: I just can’t see us throwing away something we know is so damn good. Rachel, I love you so much.

(He kisses her on her shoulder, then her neck, then the side of her face, then just before he kisses her on the lips….)

Rachel: No Ross!! (stands up and moves away from him) Don’t! You can’t just kiss me and think you’re gonna make it all go away, okay? It doesn’t work that way. It doesn’t just make it better. Okay?

Ross: Okay, okay, okay.

Ew, ew, ew. This really creeped me out. So much. The creepy. You just slept with someone else and while it wasn’t cheating in your head, it feels like you cheated to her, and this is not the time to be kissing her. Ew, so gross. Hands off. This is emotional manipulation and unwanted touching, and she already feels violated from the huge emotional betrayal stuff. Also, I love Rachel here for explaining to Ross (and the at-home viewers) at least a little of why this behavior is bad. Really, she shouldn’t have to explain it, but she’s cool like that.

Rachel: (softly) I think you should go.

Ross: What?

Rachel: (softly) I really think you need to go now.

Ross: (moving over to stand in front of her) Okay, okay.

Um, what? Why are you saying “okay” when she asks you to go but still moving closer to her? Moving closer isn’t going away. Bad Ross! Shoo!

Ross [cont’s]: This morning you said there was nothing so big that we couldn’t work past it together…

Rachel: Yeah, what the hell did I know!

Ross: Look, look, there’s got to be a way we can work past this. Okay, (takes a hold of one of her arms.) I can’t imagine, I can’t imagine my life without you. (Both of them are starting to cry.) Without, without these arms, and your face, and this heart. Your good heart Rach, (drops to his knees and hugs her around her waist) and, and….

Urgh, this is appalling. Realistic and appalling. Way to ratchet up the aforementioned emotional manipulation. This move is really unfair to Rachel. Ross is on his knees now, so he seems vulnerable and penitent and stuff, making it harder for Rachel to rebuff him without worrying that she’ll hurt his special Ross-feelings. At the same time, she just asked him to leave, and earlier told him to stop kissing her and moved away from his touch. Now he’s hugging her waist, literally making it harder for her to move away from him if/when she wants to.

After we watched this scene (which both the Boyfriend and I really enjoyed from a scene-quality perspective), Mac turned to me and said, “There was a moment there when I was really worried that Ross was going to rape Rachel.” And I was all, “Yeah, me too.” Even though we knew the show would never go there. (Because it’s a sitcom, because Ross is a “good person”, because we definitely would have heard about it before now, etc, etc.) But we both had the sense that Rachel was in danger in this scene. At first Ross is trying to (erotically) kiss his way back into Rachel’s good graces, and when she asks him to stop, he stops only temporarily before escalating the physical aspects of his behavior, first by grabbing her arm, then by (again, because I cannot stress this enough, after she asks him to leave) kneeling and hugging her.

And I was just so uncomfortable watching this.

Rachel: (crying) No. I can’t, you’re a totally different person to me now. I used to think of you as somebody that would never, ever hurt me, ever. God, and now I just can’t stop picturing with her, I can’t, (Ross stands up and backs away) it doesn’t matter what you say, or what you do, Ross. It’s just changed, everything. Forever.

Rachel is way more mature than Ross is. She’s not deflecting responsibility, she’s not even (at the moment, though this argument will rear its head later) harping on the were they / weren’t they on a break thing. She’s just honestly telling Ross her emotional reaction and what it means for her relationship with him. Does it hurt him to hear this stuff? Probably. (My heart bleeds.)

Ross: (crying) Yeah, but this can’t be it, I mean.

(Pause)

Rachel: Then how come it is?

This (somewhat pat) ending to an otherwise fairly realistic (as well as harrowing) scene sets up that, from this episode on (for the next few episodes, anyway), Ross and Rachel will be living in contradicting realities: to Ross, they will continue to be a couple, and he will bitch and moan and snark whenever she behaves in ways that do not reinforce his persistent belief that they are still a couple (in other words, he will behave in much the same way as he did when he first thought they were a couple but hadn’t told Rachel about it yet, except now he will be actively mean to her instead of faux-nice); to Rachel, they will become a former couple, and she will mourn for the lost relationship and try to move on with her life. Y’know, like a real grownup.

And on the supposed “break” . . . 

Yeah, you know where my loyalties lie. Rachel (rightfully) points out that Ross is trying to get out of the accusation of cheating on a “technicality.” Well, I’ve got a technicality for you, Ross. To the transcript!:

Rachel: I don’t know, I don’t know. Urrrgh! Look, maybe we should take a break.

Ross: Okay, okay, fine, you’re right. Let’s ah, let’s take a break, (goes to the door) let’s cool off, okay, let’s get some frozen yogart, or something.. (opens the door)

Rachel: No. (Ross is standing in the doorway.) A break from us.

(Ross looks at her, then leaves slamming the door behind him.)

See that there? She says “maybe we should take a break.” Not “we’re on a break.” Not “I’m breaking up with you.” She introduces the possibility that maybe they should take a break. And he never says, “Let’s do that, then. OK, we’re on a break now.” He just up and leaves. And he has the gall to call her the one who bailed.

This guy, man.

::rude gesture in Ross’s general direction::

This fucking guy.

Anime Heroines to Root For

So, I want to start a series of posts showcasing awesome anime heroines. Because sometimes when I watch anime I ask myself, “If I had a daughter, would I be willing to show this to her?” (I actually do this. I realize that this is a weird criterion for popular culture enjoyment, but just roll with it, OK? I’m not weird.) And sometimes, shockingly, the answer is “yes”.

And why is it shocking? Well, because sexism is kind of A Problem in anime. Not all anime, mind. But it’s a problem in enough anime to make it A Problem in Anime. Panty shots? Check. Sexual harassment for comic effect? Check. Supposedly powerful female characters (especially romantic leads) getting surpassed, outstripped, outranked and in other ways outdone by male protagonists? So many checks! Supposedly powerful female characters turning into damsels who have to be rescued? Check again. These things are all anime tropes. They are common (particularly in anime targeting boys). Young women falling for emotionally abusive young men? Verbal abuse as a sign of affection? Check and check. These are also anime tropes, and they are common (especially in anime targeting girls).

When I was little, I watched a lot of Nick at Nite. And it seemed harmless enough. Who doesn’t love classic TV? Then one day I made a sexist joke to my mom. Because women, right? I think my joke had something to do with women being terrible drivers. Because that was a pretty commonly recurring gag in the kind of TV I watched as a kid.

My mother was, rightfully, horrified. “You don’t really think that, do you?” she asked.

[Dramatic pause.]

“No,” I answered.

And it was true: I didn’t. Once I thought about it logically, I couldn’t think of a reason to assume that women would be worse at driving than men. But, the thing was, I had thought it, up until that moment, when my mom called my attention to my assumption. Because, according to TV Land (and this was back before TV Land was its own channel), women were bad at driving. It was an unquestioned truth that got repeated over and over again. Honestly, I thought that everyone (not just Bob Newhart) thought that about women and driving.

So, that was a bit of a wake-up call for me as a kid. It taught me to think about and question those “truths” that media laid out for me. It also brought to my awareness the fact that I could be influenced by media in ways of which I was not even conscious.

Even when I was making the sexist joke to my mom, I never would have said that I thought women were inferior to men in any way. And yet: sexist joke, right out of my mouth. I didn’t even realize it was a sexist joke.

Anyway, I watch less classic TV and more anime now. And I’m very aware that anime is especially popular with kids, teens and young adults. I’m also well-aware that even children are capable of bringing their own grain of salt to the table when it comes to consuming media, and that “kids these days” are not going to be “brainwashed” by the nasty messages in their entertainment.

That doesn’t make them immune to those messages. None of us are immune to those messages. And we pick up on all kinds of things, often subconsciously, just due to repeated exposure. And people (kids and adults) who haven’t thought about or who choose not to think about how to approach media critically may be especially at-risk for this.

So sometimes, when I’m watching or reading a piece of media, I ask myself if I would share it with my (imaginary) daughter. Would this be a helpful or hurtful thing for a young woman to see? Would it make her feel bad about herself, or would it make her feel strong? For whatever reason, I find myself applying these criteria most frequently when reading manga and/or watching anime.

So maybe an alternative title for this heroine lineup would be “Anime Heroines in Anime that I would Totally Show my Daughter if I Had One.” Please do keep in mind that I’m imagining that my imaginary daughter is super-mature, and that the presence of sexual and violent content in these titles is a non-issue. My hypothetical-daughter imago can fend for herself on that front.

For now, here is a list of “Anime Heroines to Root For,” organized alphabetically by show title. I plan to showcase these leading ladies (at least some of them) in their own posts, which will either be organized chronologically by the shows’ release dates or not organized at all (probably the latter). I also plan to update this list as I go. Feel free to make recommendations for additions to this list (or even your own competing list) in the comments, as the mood strikes you.

I’m trying to focus on shows that are either female-led or have a fairly even split (in terms of screen time, importance to the plot, etc.) between their male and female leads.

The Anime Heroines to Root For List

At the moment, this (partial!) list is limited to heroines in anime series that I have actually seen, at least in some part. If your favorite anime heroine isn’t on the list, that may mean that (1) I haven’t seen her anime, (2) I’ve seen it and left it off the list for reasons of my own or (3) I’ve seen it and would have put its heroine on this list if the anime in question hadn’t slipped my mind.

The list so far:

Saya in Blood+
Erin in Beast Player Erin
Chihaya in Chihayafuru
Clare in Claymore
Lafiel in Crest of the Stars
Maya in Glass Mask
Ririchiyo in Inu x Boku SS
Nanami in Kamisama Kiss
Haruhi in The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya
Balsa in Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit
Nadia in Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water
Haruka in Noein
Haruhi in Ouran High School Host Club
Akane in Psycho-Pass
Utena in Revolutionary Girl Utena
Juliet in Romeo x Juliet
Oscar in The Rose of Versailles
Lina in Slayers
Shurei in The Story of Saiunkoku
Taiga in Toradora
Yoko in Twelve Kingdoms
Asumi in Twin Spica
Ryoko in Yakushiji Ryoko’s Case Files

Now, these heroines aren’t perfect, and I’m not claiming that their titles are issue-free (a few of them are even guilty of one or more of the tropes listed above). But they’re a good place to start.

Something Like a Timeline: Feminist Frequency Stuff

March 2014: Anita Sarkeesian awarded the 2014 Game Developers Choice Ambassador Award (link to video and transcript).

Also March 2014: Sarkeesian and the award ceremony organizers receive bomb threat at the Game Developers Choice Awards. A quote from the Newsweek.com article:

In a statement, the award ceremony’s organizers confirmed that 25 staffers received the following anonymous email early on March 19: “A bomb will be detonated at the Game Developers Choice award ceremony tonight unless Anita Sarkeesian’s Ambassador Award is revoked. We estimate the bomb will kill at least a dozen people and injure dozens more. It would be in your best interest to accept our simple request. This is not a joke. You have been warned.”

Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeek.

June 2014:Women as Background Decoration (Part 1)” released.

August 2014:Women as Background Decoration (Part 2)” released. (Yay!) This video comes with a special, super-strong content warning on account of its content. And I recommend heeding said warning.

Also August 2014: Sarkeesian shares some truly disturbing, stalkerish tweets that she has received with her followers, because “it’s important for folks to know how bad it gets”: Here is the scary stuff. CONTENT WARNING for threats of rape and other forms of sexualized violence, including blood drinking.

Still August 2014: Jezebel publishes “Misogynistic Trolls Drive Feminist Video Game Critic From Her Home” (article by Callie Beusman)

Still, still August 2014:Saints Row Dev Responds to Feminist Frequency Critique” (GameSpot article by Emanuel Maiberg)

September 2014: The FBI investigates the scary, stalkerish threats against Sarkeesian and her family: “FBI Investigating Death Threats Made Against Anita Sarkeesian” (GameSpot article by Zorine Te)

Also September 2014: Sarkeesian makes appearance at Portland XOXO Festival: This Feminist Gamer’s Brave Fight Against Online Misogyny Just Earned Her a Standing Ovation (Identities.Mic article by Marcie Blanco)

In other words, Anita Sarkeesian continues to earn her epic badass cred. Props to her, her family and the cool, game-loving people who continue to support her at events like XOXO and the Game Developers Choice Awards.

A Couple of “Oh No” Moments in Urban Fantasy

I like urban fantasy. I like to read urban fantasy novels. Like other forms of fantasy literature (and, uh, all other literary genres, including “mainstream”), urban fantasy novels sometimes have what can only charitably be called “problematic” gender dynamics.

Even when they have strong female characters. Even when they star strong female characters. Even when (as I believe was the case when last I checked, though I have not checked recently) women are the primary audience for urban fantasy novels.

For the uninitiated: urban fantasy is a blanket genre term for fantasy stories that take place in what is otherwise the ‘real’ world: usually a modern, technologically advanced setting. These stories do not necessarily take place in cities, but after a short-lived showdown with the term “contemporary fantasy” (which, while avoiding the trap of implying an urban environment, can also be taken to mean ‘fantasies written at the same time as one another’), “urban fantasy” seems to be the term that has stuck. Charles de Lint writes primarily urban fantasy*; so does Charlaine Harris. J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series is arguably urban fantasy, depending upon which angle you use to look at it (though I usually think of it as “dual world” fantasy, since the Harry Potter ‘verse generally drops the mundane muggle world by, like, chapter four of each book).

Anyway, the two urban fantasies I would like to look at tonight are Patricia Briggs’s Mercy Thompson novels and Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files novels.

Jim Butcher and Patricia Briggs are two of the biggest names in urban fantasy right now, and Mercy Thompson and Dresden Files are their most popular titles. I like both series. I do. But they each have something that I am going to call an “oh no” moment. A moment that I found so upsetting that it made/makes it really, really hard for me to keep reading. A moment that bothers me so much that I think about it every time I think of the series, and that, therefore, colors my experience of the series as a whole, even if it doesn’t come up until several books in. In both cases, this “oh no” moment occurs when the series’ problematic gender dynamics become crystallized in a scene which exemplifies that these are terrible universes for women and it’s not just because of the monsters.

So, rather than being a good reviewer and starting at the beginning, I am skipping most of the early stuff to focus this post on one scene from the third book of the Mercy Thompson novels, Iron Kissed, and one scene from the eighth book (yes I said eighth) of the Dresden Files, Proven Guilty. Because it’s my blog and I can do what I want.

SPOILER WARNING FOR THOSE BOOKS.

TRIGGER WARNING for rape, assault, mind control, trauma, sexuality policing and general dickishness.

Read the rest of this entry »

‘Girly’ Action Figures

My dad just sent me a link to this Fast Company article, about a new line of “badass” female action figures that was funded by a Kickstarter campaign:

http://www.fastcoexist.com/3032292/badass-female-action-figures-that-have-strong-quads-not-big-busts?partner=newsletter#1

The line of figures is called IAmElemental (http://iamelemental.com/), with each figure “personifying seven elements of courage: bravery, energy, honesty, industry, enthusiasm, persistence, and fear.” IAmElemental was 200% funded in 2 days and is now 465% funded.

I don’t really remember playing with “action figures” all that much as a kid. I mean, I’m sure I did when they were around; I played with whatever random stuffed animal or toy was to hand when the mood was on me. (Yeah, I had a lot of dolls, stuffed animals and My Little Ponies. And there is nothing wrong with that.) I just didn’t own many action figures, I think. I remember a friend of mine having some of those Power Rangers toys that could transform. Those were cool. They were heavy, with lots of metal parts, and I remember thinking, “Hey, this is different.” I think I was more impressed with how well-made they were than excited by the idea of playing with them, though.

A Tip of the Hat: to IAmElemental. As someone who’s still mad there’s no “official” Katara action figure for the Avatar: TLA cartoon (though there is a plushie), it’s nice to see toymakers taking concrete steps to prove “there is a market” for action figures aimed at girls.

And a Wag of the Finger: to IAmElemental. On the IAmElemental website, both “Enthusiasm” and “Industry” (see the “Elements” page) are shown in something quite close to the “Stop Taking This Picture” pose. I mean, there’s no smoldering over-the-shoulder look, but still: bottom and breasts at once. That takes a very specific angle. I know I’m picking at nits here, and these are hardly provocative stances (and that, since one of the selling points of these figures is that they don’t have oversized bosoms and butt cracks, you kind of have to show that they don’t, for marketing reasons). I just think it’s worth noting how inescapable that pose really has turned out to be.

Now, as to how many girls (or kids in general) are going to gravitate towards such high-concept action figures as personifications of “energy” and “industry”, that’s a different question. But it’s also kind of not the point. As I understand it, the driving force behind toy profits is still more the parents than their kids, and there is clearly demand for this kind of thing from a lot of parents out there, who want their kids to have a wider range of options.

And I would have played with them. In my experience, kids play with the toys they have.

Women and Property Damage in Music Videos

Wow, it’s been a super long time since I last posted, hasn’t it? Just … super. And I will catch up on my Supernatural coverage someday. Probably. But for now, here’s a post on a few music videos from the previous decade. Because that’s fun.

Sometimes, in pop music and/or in the music videos that accompany pop music, women take out their aggression (against men) on inanimate objects (frequently belonging to men).

I would like to take a moment to examine this phenomenon.

One of the most popular targets of female aggression in music videos is The Car. See:

OK, OK, so technically the Carrie Underwood one is a truck. The parallel still holds.

Women in music videos have also been known to commit acts of property damage against things that are not automobiles. See:

You will note that there is some overlap there. I guess sometimes vehicle vandalism is just not enough.

A couple sketches and video-by-video breakdown of this phenomenon under the cut:

Read the rest of this entry »

Some Thoughts on Supernatural, Season 9, Episode 8, “Rock and a Hard Place”

My sketch of Tammy the Virgin in Supernatural, Season 9, episode 8, "Rock and a Hard Place""

In “Rock and a Hard Place,” this virgin gets punched in the nose. Wait, why aren’t you laughing?

I think that one of the reasons I’ve been slacking on my Supernatural reviewing duties–aside from pure, unadulterated laziness–is my reluctance to face “Rock and a Hard Place” in any way, shape or form. Now, I have a fair bit to say about this episode, so this recap pretty much spoils everything in it. You have been warned.

I hate this episode. With the hate of a thousand suns. Because it is terrible. A lot of the time on this blog, I complain about episodes that I like, because they are problematic and/or offensive. But sometimes offensive things are also bad.

I think that “Rock and a Hard Place” is my new reigning champion for Most Sexist Episode Ever. (I feel like it should get a belt for this or something.) Which means that this episode beats out contenders like “Wishful Thinking,” “Heart,” “99 Problems” and “Slice Girls” (a.k.a “That one with the Amazons who had sex with men for procreation and then sent their progeny back to kill them”). Yeah, so. “Rock and a Hard Place.” Fasten your seatbelts; it’s going to be an uncomfortable ride.

“Rock and a Hard Place” was written by Jenny Klein and directed by John MacCarthy.

The Title

Considering the episode’s focus on sex, the whole “hard place” thing is clearly meant as a double entendre. As is “rock.” Really, this episode might as well be titled “Blue Balls” or “Rocks and a Hard [insert your favorite euphemism for ‘Penis’ here].” But this is Supernatural, home of classic rock and classic cars, and “Rock and a Hard Place” is the name of a Rolling Stones song, so let’s see if we can get any mileage out of that, shall we?

Here are some lyrics from “Rock and a Hard Place”:

This talk of freedom
And human rights
Means bullying and private wars and chucking all the dust into our eyes
And peasant people
Poorer than dirt
Who are caught in the crossfire with nothing to lose but their shirts
Stuck between a rock
And a hard place

Um … yeah this really has nothing to do with the episode. I can see a thematic correlation, maybe, between this song and the larger arcs of Season 9 (humanity’s position between the warring factions of angels and demons, Dean trampling all over Sam’s personal freedoms by letting “Ezekiel” take up residence, etc.) but this Rolling Stones song sounds like it’s about something substantial. And this episode is about horny virgins.

It’s sad that I’m not even joking when I say that.

Jody Mills

She’s alive … she’s alive! Seriously, the only thing I like about this episode is that it confirms that Sheriff Jody Mills is alive. Considering we have not heard from her since the Season 8 finale, “Sacrifice,” when she was coughing up blood on the floor of a women’s bathroom, this is important.

Virgins, Virgins, Everywhere, and Not a Drop to Drink

Jody Mills, who, for the first time since the Season 8 finale, is revealed to be alive, calls the boys in on a case. It turns out that someone has been abducting virgins. And not just any virgins, but virgins from the Good Faith Church chastity group, Abstinence Purifies Us (APU). To investigate the disappearances, Sam and Dean join APU by signing a “Purity Pledge,” a vow of chastity that allows them to be “born again” as virgins in God’s eyes. Point of trivia: this is the second time in the series that Dean has been, as he once tastefully put it, “rehymenated.”

Born-again virgins Sam and Dean then infiltrate APU.

And I think it’s supposed to be funny, because Sam and Dean are all virile and manly and stuff, and Dean is such a horndog (or at least, he self-identifies that way). And it’s so emasculating for them to play virgins, even born-again virgins. Because virgins, am I right? Chastity is hilarious.*

Sam and Dean go to their first APU meeting. Dean proceeds to be horribly inappropriate.

DEAN: But, you know, when you get down to it, what’s the big deal, right? I mean, sure, there’s the touching and the feeling … all of each other, my hands everywhere, tracing every inch of her body, the two of us moving together, pressing and pulling and grinding.

Then you hit that sweet spot, and everything just builds and builds and builds until it all just …

Throughout Dean’s lovely speech, the women of APU are shifting, sighing in little gasps and pushing strands of their hair over their ears. Because messing with the hair is TV code for female arousal.

Then, right as Dean says, “Then you hit that sweet spot,” we are treated to an actual close up of a woman crossing her legs. Because this is apparently a No Subtlety Allowed zone.

And right when you think the scene cannot get any worse, each “builds” in Dean’s “builds and builds and builds” is punctuated with a little sigh from one of the horny virgin women.

But wait, there’s more. Because when Dean gets to, “until it all just,” we are treated to yet another close up of a woman’s lap–because that was super necessary–only this woman crumples up a couple of pieces of pink paper as her hands, we are to take it, spontaneously contract, because the mounting sexual tension is just too much for her.

It’s too much for all of them. Because these women are virgins, see? Which must mean that they’re just desperate for action! How could they hope to resist the appeal of Dean Winchester? Dean Winchester, who, I might add, is tempting them all with the most vague and uninspired “word picture” of intercourse ever? Of course, the whole point is that Dean doesn’t have to try very hard. Because, as we all know, people who choose to be virgins? Secretly gagging for it.

No! Bad show! No biscuit! This is so offensive it hurts my heart a little. There are all kinds of reasons and motivations that can go into people’s decisions about what they do and don’t do sexually. And while, yeah, I get that the intent was probably, at first, to poke fun at the kinds of pressures and sexuality-policing that sometimes stem from overzealous religious groups, the end result here is something very different from that. The end result here is this scene poking fun at the hypocrisy of women: specifically, women who claim not to want sex when secretly they do.

Eww. Just: eww. That is gross and awful and an absolutely terrible message to send.

But Dean gives his (boring) “sex is fun” spiel, and suddenly all those repressed virgin women are like putty in his hands. To steal from something Sam once said to Dean in a much better episode: Supernatural, you’re confusing reality with porn again.

Oh! And did I mention the Very Best part of Dean’s speech? At the end, he makes a little explosion sound effect.

Stay classy, Dean.

And the rest of my review is under the cut:

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The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and Why I Loved It

Pencil sketch of Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Katniss in the arena. Sketched while listening to songs from Lorde’s Pure Heroine (mostly “Team” and “Glory and Gore”).

A while ago now, the Boyfriend and I went to see Catching Fire. I know that this film is no longer exactly a current topic of conversation, but I just wanted to share my reaction to it.

Catching Fire was incredible! In terms of pacing, camera angles, costumes and special effects, it was in just about every way superior to the first movie. And it gives me high hopes for Mockingjay.

Say goodbye to the unrelenting shaky hand-cam. While I’m sure there was still some deliberately shaky camera work in this film, it was not nearly so obtrusive–nor so constant–as it was in the first. People who suffer from motion sickness might even still be able to watch this one in theaters.

Catching Fire has a run time of 146 minutes, and I think I spent about 60 of those minutes tearing up. Katniss made me cry, Peeta made me cry, Prim and Mrs. Everdeen made me cry, extras in the Districts made me cry and Cinna made me cry like woah. Effie Trinket made me cry, people.

Except I wasn’t really crying so much as getting that choked feeling with tears welling in my eyes, and holding them back with that stubborn I’m-not-gonna-cry-in-the-theater determination, because if I start crying and then stop in the middle, my eyes will sting, and then it will be hard to see until I dab them with a damp paper towel, which would require getting up and missing part of the movie! Which I was just not gonna do, because tickets are ridiculous expensive and I was enjoying myself.

And the thing that was really awesome was that, just about every time I teared up, it wasn’t because something sad had happened (though lots of sad stuff did, because Hunger Games). Each time I teared up, it was because someone was being brave. Standing up for themselves or for their loved ones or for strangers, even knowing they would suffer for it. Even knowing that the people around them would suffer for it. But people were still being brave, facing near-inevitable retribution, because it was the right thing to do, and because to enact change, people have to act.

It was really powerful that the movie was able to capture that feeling.

There were things from the book that I missed, and the movie, of course, is not a perfectly faithful adaptation. However, most of the changes I noticed (though keep in mind that I have not read the book since shortly after it was first released) made sense, and seemed dictated by the move from text to a more visual medium.

And some of the changes I liked. Katniss’s post-traumatic stress disorder, for example, I do not remember being nearly so pronounced in the book. My assumption is that, since the books are in first person and the movie is in that third-person omniscient style that most movies are in, Katniss’s PTSD is more pronounced in the film than in the book because the most efficient way to tell the audience she’s suffering is to show her having a panic attack early in the film. (I think in the book she kept everything more under wraps.) But I like this change. I like a movie with an action hero who can cry, and have panic attacks, and wrestle with extreme fear. Not because it makes Katniss more “human” or more “sympathetic”–nuts to that; as far as I’m concerned, she’d be just as sympathetic and human if she were stoic the whole way through. But what I like about Katniss’s panic is what it means for the rest of us–that we can panic, and be afraid, and may not be able to overcome past trauma (in whatever form), and that doesn’t mean that we’re not brave, or that we cannot learn to become brave.

My own issues with panic disorder may have colored my reading of the movie, just a bit.

Related Reading: See “Why Strong Female Characters are Bad for Women” over at Overthinking It.

On a lighter note, there is apparently a group which calls themselves The Tributes and makes Hunger Games fan music and fan videos–which The Tributes act out. I love fans! So, merry birthday:

The Tributes’ “The Arena” Music Video.

The Tributes’ “Run Away” Music Video.

Shakira’s “Can’t Remember to Forget You” featuring Rihanna and Music-to-Music-Video Dissonace

My friend and I have this game we like to play.

We take a music video. Then we do one of the two following things:

1) We pair the song from that music video with a different music video’s video.
2) We pair the video from that music video with a different music video’s song.

It’s easy to accomplish. First, we let both MVs buffer in YouTube, muting the one we want to watch. Then we play the one we want to listen to. Then–and this is important–we hit play on the “video” video as quickly as we can.

OK, so it’s not much of a game. But it occasionally leads to interesting and/or hilarious results.

One of my favorites? Setting the video for Adam Lambert’s “Better Than I Know Myself” to Bruno Mars’s “Grenade.” Lambert is emoting almost as hard with his physical performance as Mars is with his crooning, over-the-top vocals, and the whole thing just works–and is much more visually interesting (to me, anyway) than Bruno Mars dragging a piano around. (It also helps that the two videos are roughly the same length.)

One of my very first posts on this blog was on P!nk’s music video for “Try,” and I think one of the reasons that that video got to me so much was because of the cognitive dissonance it created in the space between its visuals and its lyrics.

All of that being said, I am not sure what to make of this new music video, to Shakira-featuring-Rihanna’s new single, “Can’t Remember to Forget You.” Because … well.

::Cough:: Male gaze, anybody?

So, “Can’t Remember to Forget You” is about some boy[friend] that Shakira and/or Rihanna remember fondly even though she/they know(s) he is bad for her/them. The problem, as both singers put it, is “selective memory.” Shakira says, “I keep forgetting I should let you go / But when you look at me, the only memory, is us kissing in the moonlight.” Her/their love for this unnamed “you” in the song is so intense and destructive that it plays out like an addiction. Most clearly in Rihanna’s verse: “I go back again / Fall off the train / Land in his bed / Repeat yesterday’s mistakes.”

Then things get even more disturbing in the bridge:

I rob and I kill to keep him with me
I do anything for that boy
I’d give my last dime to hold him tonight
I do anything for that boy

Yeah, both women sing that.

To be honest, I don’t really have any problem with the song itself. Being so emotionally dependent upon someone that you feel like you would do anything for them–or just to stay with them, even though you know you should stay away? And realizing that the very fact that you know that about yourself is only further proof that you should stay away? That seems like a decent portrayal of how some people experience some toxic relationships.

And, let’s face it, the song is pretty entertaining. There’s an energy to it, Shakira utilizes that cool catch in her voice, and all of those “Ohohohoh”s are super fun to sing along with.

Nope, my problem is with the video.

Now, my problem with the video isn’t exactly that it pairs a song about a toxic, addiction-like relationship with two conventionally attractive women in revealing outfits, dancing “provocatively,” with much shaking of their hips and bottoms. (Though I’m not head-over-heels about it either.)

My problem with the video also isn’t exactly that it plays with the idea of a faux lesbianism clearly intended for the titillation of a presumed straight male gaze. (Not that cuddly Shakira and Rihanna on a bed together wouldn’t necessarily appeal to other kinds of audience; I just don’t think that lesbians, bisexuals, and the bicurious are the target audience in this case.)

My problem with the video is that it’s pretending so hard that this is a brush-off song. Because Shakira and Rihanna don’t need that toxic “you” character, see? They have each other. And they have cigars! Manly, phallic, implied-to-be post-coital cigars. They are clearly satisfied without “you,” you toxic man-thing.

Except that all the lyrics they sing imply that they clearly are not. Which means that everything else they do in the video–gyrate, wear revealing outfits, caress each other, smoke phallic cigars–seems like it is done in the service of the gaze of this toxic “boy.” Shakira and Rihanna aren’t moving on; they want him back. And what better way to entice your man than with faux lesbian performance with another hot woman? After all, as Steve on Coupling reminds us, we womenfolk love ensnaring men with the implied promise of threesome:

Three-stage strategy indeed.

So, I could go into more detail about the video, and why/how/if I find it offensive, but I think instead what I would like to do is try a little thought experiment. I am going to try to find some arbitrary number–let’s say three–of music video videos that I think work better with “Can’t Remember To Forget You” than its official video does. Because sometimes showing is more fun than telling. If you feel so inclined, you can set up the “Can’t Remember to Forget You” audio and play along at home.

Remember, play the audio only for “Can’t Remember To Forget You” and the visuals only (mute the audio!) for these other videos. Also, the closer you can sync the videos, the better the results will be.

Contender #3: P!nk’s “Try” Video

I’ll be honest: this one is hard for me to watch. In their original incarnations, the positive message of the song “Try” softens the intensity of P!nk’s video (even if that very disconnect is problematic in and of itself), while the playfulness of the video for “Can’t Remember to Forget You” takes the edge off of that song. In this hybrid form, however, the aggressive tone of “Can’t Remember To Forget You” matches the violence of P!nk’s video, and the end result is something kind of brutal, which highlights the darker aspects of both projects. This means that the pairing works really well, in a way, but it makes for a really heavy-handed, dark mash-up. Also, “Try” is a good half minute longer than “Can’t Remember to Forget You,” which means that the song cuts out before the video is over. It does end on P!nk about to throw that chair, though. Which kind of works.

Warning: May make the viewer profoundly uncomfortable.

Contender #2: Adam Lambert’s “Whataya Want From Me

OK, so I like to pick on Adam Lambert’s music videos a little. I don’t know what the motivations were behind the production of the videos for both “Whataya Want From Me” and “Better Than I Know Myself,” but I’ve wondered ever since I saw them the first time if they were made with the intent of creating ‘love stories’ starring the out gay celebrity Adam Lambert that would neither deny his homosexuality nor include actual same-sex romance. I haven’t researched this at all, but these two objects really make me wonder if the producers were hedging their bets, just a little. And the videos sure don’t give us gay romance. Oh, no. What we get instead is time-traveling Lambert clonecest (“Whataya Want From Me”) and interdimensional Lambert dopplegängercest (“Better Than I Know Myself”).

Or contemplative musings about Lambert’s relationship to his own fame. Pshaw. My version’s funnier.

Anyway, this mash-up is subtler than the last one I mentioned, but something about Lambert’s restrained, muted visuals contrasts interestingly with the aggressive sound of Shakira and Rihanna’s song. And of course, there’s nothing restrained about Lambert’s performance itself, so all those “Ohohohohoh”s fit right in. Unfortunately, this video’s still a little too long, but we can’t have everything.

Bonus: “I never met someone so different” is a moderately hilarious line when all the cuts are Lambert-to-Lambert.

Contender #1: Beyonce and Shakira’s “Beautiful Liar

On the surface, this might seem like an odd choice, as these two videos already have a lot of overlap. The are structured similarly, both focus on two women dancing in skin-exposing outfits, both have lesbian (or at least homosocial) overtones, both have Shakira, et cetera.

And yet–for lack of a better word–the “Beautiful Liar” video is so much less pornographic than the “Can’t Remember to Forget You” video. Now, let me be perfectly clear: neither video is porn, and both have some interesting, artistic things going on with them, visually. But there is something about the way in which “Can’t Remember To Forget You” is shot and staged that just evokes the idea of pornography. A lot of it has to do with the framing. “Can’t Remember to Forget You” includes a lot of dance moves in which the performers shake their hips and buttocks. Same for “Beautiful Liar” (though, to be fair, “Beautiful Liar” is much more aware of the waist than the other video is). However, in “Beautiful Liar,” the women are shown in full shots (with all of their body in the frame) or medium long shots (head to knee) during such moves–with only a few, short, non-lingering exceptions; in “Can’t Remember to Forget You,” the women are cut off, as the camera centers their lower bodies in the frame (waist to hip). Beyonce and Shakira’s laughing, breathless performance “Beautiful Liar” reminds the audience that this kind of dancing–which uses tightly controlled, small movements–is taxing, difficult work; “Can’t Remember to Forget You” makes similar dance moves look like foreplay.

There is also something about the way the two singers face off in the “Beautiful Liar” video that is not matched in the “Can’t Remember to Forget You” video. When you set “Can’t Remember To Forget You” as the soundtrack to “Beautiful Liar,” the result starts to seem like a legit lesbian breakup song (in spite of all those references to “that boy”), rather than a titillating performance of ‘lesbianism’ for a male audience.

The women in “Beautiful Liar” look both seductive and strong. The women in “Can’t Remember to Forget You” just look seductive. And flirtatious, I guess. And a little desperate. For myself, I like “Can’t Remember to Forget You” set to the video for “Beautiful Liar” more than I like either video on its own. But I freely admit that that’s just a personal preference.

Anyway, I think it’s interesting how two similar videos can each lend the same song such a different vibe.

It might also help that the costumes in this one look a little bit less like lingerie. Or at least like less frilly lingerie. Or less like figure skating costumes that are also lingerie. Something.

Conclusions?

I think I’ve more-or-less covered wanted to say about the Shakira/Rihanna video at this point. Also, after writing this post and hunting for videos to match up with the song, I’m getting pretty sick of listening to it.

Most people probably won’t respond to either the “Can’t Remember to Forget You” video or these video mash-ups exactly the same way I do. And of course, there are a lot of other things going on in the “Beautiful Liar” video (both visually and musically) that I did not go into here, as it was not the focus of this post.

Right now, however, that’s where my thoughts are on the music video for “Can’t Remember to Forget You.” Make of this post what you will.

That song really is catchy.

Some Thoughts on Supernatural, Season 9, Episode 6, “Heaven Can’t Wait”

Wow, I haven’t posted a Supernatural response in a long time. So here’s one. Considering Episode 12 just aired, this is not exactly timely. But what can I say? I’m playing catch up.

I started drafting this response right after “Heaven Can’t Wait” aired (before putting it on a virtual shelf and allowing it to accumulate virtual dust), so the bulk of it was written without any knowledge of what comes to pass in the subsequent episodes.

“Heaven Can’t Wait” was directed by Rob Spera and written by Robert Berens.

Season 9. Episode 6 of Supernatural has four speaking roles played by women in it. Five if you count the disembodied voice on the suicide hotline. And six if you count the wailing infant. (All playing human or human-like parts, and not just voicing non-human animals.) Actually, I think this is a female-representation record for the season! [E/N: Until “Rock and a Hard Place,” anyway. I will share my … opinions … on that episode later.] Confetti and cookies for all!

Are they all roles that in some way feed into stereotypes about women? Yes, yes they are. Except for the infant. But infants get a pass for being dependent and vulnerable. What the hey, I’m still pleased. Because women! They exist!

Castiel’s New Job

Much like “I’m No Angel,” this is really Castiel’s episode.

When Cas first shows up, he is doing the most humiliating thing the showrunners could think of: working at the Gas N’ Sip. (Cue lightning and dissonant chords played on a pipe organ.) I wonder how many fans of this show work at gas stations, and how many of them threw things at the screen when this episode aired.

And this is … a pretty idealized version of working retail, actually. I mean, Castiel’s boss seems appreciative (at first anyway), the delivery guy is polite and we don’t see Cas encounter any whiny, invasive or verbally abusive customers. And the place is very clean. (Though that may just be because Cas himself is so good at cleaning it.) A customer service job without annoying customers? I don’t think any other “sales associate” in the world has experienced that.

Dean’s Reaction to Castiel’s New Job

As it turns out, Dean is kind of an elitist, which is weird considering how self-conscious he’s always been about his own relative lack of education (compared to Sam). When Dean first sees Cas at his new job, he’s all, “You’re too good for this.” Shut up, Dean. Some people work for a living. Also, for most of your life, your finances have come from pool hustling and credit card fraud. And since we never saw you set Cas up with sweet, sweet fake IDs or fraudulent credit cards or cash or even a short-term loan, I’d say he’s doing pretty well for a homeless dude with no ID, money, references or personal history. Just saying.

Also–in this episode and in earlier ones in the season–Sam keeps asking Dean about how Cas is doing (and I love that Sam is thoughtful like that), but he never brings up the money angle. Right now, I’m assuming that Sam is assuming that Dean has already thought of how Cas will need money to survive now that he’s human.

Yeah, Sam really should know better.

No, Wait, It’s Actually Babysitting That is the Most Humiliating Thing the Showrunners Can Think Of

While on the job, Castiel thinks he is being asked out by his attractive supervisor, Nora. Apparently, however, she just wants him to come to her house and babysit her small child, while she goes out bowling with someone else. The whole sequence–and most of the episode, really–seems intended to embarrass Cas, or to make us feel embarrassed for Cas, and Cas ending up having to care for a baby when he thought he was going to get sex (or at least stuff that would lead up to sex) is just oh-so-emasculating that we must all feel sorry for Cas and Cas’s sexual frustration. And I do feel sorry for Cas. Mostly because his boss is clearly taking advantage of him.

I’m a little annoyed with how the episode handles the miscommunication between Nora and Castiel. It would have been really easy to have Cas misunderstand Nora’s intentions simply because he’s still only newly human and he has a hard time picking up on social cues. Castiel’s boss could have asked him to babysit in such a way that the audience would understand what she meant, but Cas would not. Instead, Nora “delicately” phrases her request as follows:

NORA: I’ve been afraid to ask. I don’t wanna take advantage of you as my employee, and I certainly don’t wanna jeopardize our working relationship. But as a working, single mom, it’s hard enough to get a date, let alone meet a really great guy, and–Tomorrow’s my night off, and I know you’re off, too, and I was just wondering if there’s any chance you’re free tomorrow night?

CASTIEL: Um … yes? Yes.

NORA: [kisses him] You’re the best.

Yeah, the thing missing from this request for babysitting services is the actual request itself.

This means that it really, really seems like she’s asking Cas out. Which, in turn, makes it seem like she’s leading him on. And even though she doesn’t seem to realize that she’s leading Cas on, the whole thing still reads like a bait-and-switch in which Nora lures Castiel to her home with her feminine wiles, only to drop the (horribly emasculating) chore of babysitting in his lap.

Cas himself certainly seems to think babysitting is emasculating. When he learns of his night’s true occupation, he sighs out the word “babysitting” with an air of utter resignation. As if he associates some stigma with the task of caring for another person’s child. Where would he have even picked up on that? Did the topic of babysitting come up a lot in his garrison?

It just kind of irks me that the thing the show tells us is even more humiliating than the (presumed to be humiliating) occupation of customer service is the female-coded occupation of caring for a child.

And to add insult to, well, insult, Castiel’s supervisor never offers to pay him for his night of babysitting, even though, as his boss, she surely has some idea of how much he needs the money. Babysitting can be very difficult work, and even when it is not exceptionally difficult, it can still be stressful. It is something you ask family and maybe close friends to do for free. In the right circumstances. Everybody else, you reimburse for their time.

Also, getting your employees to do stuff for you, for free, outside of working hours? Yeah, that’s just tacky.

And the rest of the post is under the cut:

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