The lovely Seanan McGuire made several tweets today about something I honestly had never even considered as a problem, but has been twisting my brain around all day since she mentioned it. Basically, her point was that as women we are our own worst enemies, not through any fault of our own, but because of the way our culture raises us. She specifically mentioned something called “Smurfette Syndrome,” the idea that if you’re the only woman in a group, you are automatically the most beautiful and desirable, that really got the old gray matter churning.
If I think back on most of the cartoons and movies of my childhood aimed at girls, there is a recurring of jealousy to many, if not all of the female dominated story lines. Snow White is hunted by her wicked stepmother who wants to be the “fairest of them all,” and can only achieve that goal by killing Snow. Cinderella’s step sisters can’t stand her because she’s so pretty and they’re so plain. There is not a single male-led story I can think of that uses so plainly vain a motivation as a plot device. Boys are out for adventure or treasure, it doesn’t matter what they look like, but for girls the MAIN PLOT has to do with their level of attractiveness and how they are either lauded or maligned for how they look. Antagonists of girl shows and movies are almost always other women who dislike the main character because she’s beautiful.
Holy shit. That’s crazy, right? I mean bat-shit bonkers. We’re being taught we can’t trust each other and it’s so nefarious that I never even noticed it.
Back to “Smurfette Syndrome” for a moment. Why is it that the heroine so rarely has female friends she can depend on? If she does have a bestie who is a woman who she can rely on, it’s almost always someone who is geeky or frumpy—Velma, Willow (in the early Buffy years), etc. Seriously, every “attractive” woman who isn’t the main character in girl-led shows almost immediately hates the main character, usually because she’s afraid the protagonist is after her boyfriend. It’s an instinctive reaction and we all buy into it. The more I think about it, the more I’m weirded out by why this is at all okay.
I’ve never understood slut shaming, or how women can be so cruel to each other for no real reason, but now I have an inkling. I make a solemn pledge, here before the interwebs, that I will call this behavior out when I see it, and that I will not allow women to treat each other like crap on the basis of appearance or what they’re wearing. Slut shaming or calling other women names based on superficial bullshit will be an automatic unfollow on my social media feeds.
Smurfette, you’re fired as a female role model.
Rants and ranties,
PS - I apologize if this post sounds a bit too “conspiracy theory” for some. I know I’m treading close to that line, but I welcome discussion about shows or books that buck this trope and how crazy I sound. Please, change my mind.
Before I start this rant in earnest, let me state that this doesn’t apply to consensual acts between adults where a person might enjoy being imprisoned. People like different stuff. Some of them like to role play. That is not what I’m here to rant about.
What we’re here to talk about today is why on Earth an otherwise-not-bad show like Under the Dome thinks kidnapping someone is ever okay. I suppose I should offer a ***SPOILER ALERT*** even though what I’m going to discuss plot-wise happens mostly in the first couple of episodes. I’ll even put in a jump to shield unwary eyes just in case… (more…)
I’m not sure I’ve ever done a rant prompted by a book before, but I’ve been simmering about this topic since yesterday and I just need to share my anger with someone. So, I’ve been excited to read this one particular book for quite a few months. I’m not going to divulge what the title is, because I don’t want anyone to think I’m picking on this one author. I’ve actually encounter this same issue in books by two other authors, so it’s not as if it’s only something this one author does.
I pull up the book on my kindle with a sense of excitement because, as I said already, I’ve been looking forward to this. I’ve heard wonderful things about this book. The prologue is intriguing, with an interesting overview of a sort of alternate reality earth. I flip eagerly to the first chapter, where I am promptly assaulted by a first person account of sunbathing with a four page description of not only the main character’s outfit, but her hair and her figure. I close the book. I probably sat there dazed for a few seconds. There is nothing–nothing–I want to read less than a self-absorbed character which is exactly how that woman comes off after spending five hundred words describing herself. The rest of the book might be marvelous, but I’m not sure I can wrangle myself into caring at this point. I would much, much rather have no description at all than be handed that so early in the book.
I don’t spend that much time thinking about how I look, ever. I just don’t. If I think about my appearance at all I’m more likely to complain about how unruly my hair is behaving that day, or how the bags under my eyes seem to be growing by the hour. This is exactly why I avoid giving descriptions of my characters in scenes from their PoV. It’s so difficult to make the character seem anything other than self-absorbed and disgustingly vain. I wouldn’t even want to have a conversation with a person who spends pages describing herself, never mind read a couple of hundred pages about her life. Ugh.
Now that I’ve rambled for entirely too long about this. Do you have any fiction pet peeves you’d like to share?
Those of you are aren’t fond of my rants should probably tune out now, because this one is going to be a doozy. Still here? Okay, here we go.
We just got our power back at around seven last night, after being out for six full days. There was an early snowstorm last Saturday, that dropped about ten inches of wet, heavy snow on our area. Since many of the trees hadn’t even lost their leaves yet, the additional weight of the snow brought down branches and even whole trees. Many neighborhoods looked like war zones afterwards, with trees and power lines all over roads and on people’s houses. Over 1 million people were out of power by the end of the storm, I think 700,000 were in my state. Today, a full week later, there are still 150,000 out of power.
I’m sure you’ll all join me in a hardy round of:What. The. Fuck.
Here in the grand state of Connecticut we have the fourth highest power generation rate in the country. We have literally twice the kilowatt hour rate of our neighbor to the north, Massachusetts. I’m not sure what all that extra money pays for, because it’s certainly not infrastructure. Here in my town, we were 100% out of power until late Tuesday. On Tuesday night, the company I work for had power restored, after saying for two days they were “working on it.” That’s right, they spent two days getting the power on for a large industrial campus while people were freezing in their houses. I wonder how many houses they could have powered with that effort? That’s what really pisses me off about the whole thing. Before anything else they power a manufacturing building. Never mind the grocery store or anywhere else I could possibly get food in a fifteen mile radius. How about a fucking gas station? No, of course not.
I’m lucky, I have a smallish house that holds heat well. Throughout the ordeal we never dropped below 50 degrees inside, though the temps outside dropped below thirty a few times. Even that felt like a deep freeze. The first few days were okay, it felt a little like an adventure. By yesterday though, I was a mess. I hadn’t really been sleeping well because it was so cold in the house. I’d been eating nothing but junk food and things that came out of cans–luckily my husband found a place to refill our propane tanks for our grill so at least it was warm junk and we had plenty of hot cocoa and tea. I also hadn’t exercised in over a week. I felt like hell and spent half the day crying. Thankfully, we got our power back last night, or I don’t know what I would have done. I don’t think I could have spent another dark, cold night here.
Let me share with you, dear readers, that nothing makes you feel like you’re living in a post-apocalyptic wasteland more than looking out your window and seeing nothing but darkness in any direction. So I have a few new story ideas out of the ordeal, which is the only bright side in my estimation.
Anyway, if you’ve made it this far in my rant, thank you for reading along while I vent my frustration. Here’s one final thought on the matter: Fuck you Connecticut Light & Power. For not having a truck on the streets of my town until FIVE DAYS AFTER and for getting the power on in the various industrial complexes around us and letting the residents freeze in their houses. I only wish that I could display my complete and total disgust with your company by choosing not to give you any more money, but alas, you are the only choice in my state. Well played, assholes. I feel for all those who still have yet to see a repair truck and hope they get their power back on soon.
Today’s rant is brought to you by the letters C, O, and E, as in, Council of Europe. In a brilliant move (I’m going to point out the sarcasm there, just so you don’t miss it) the Council of Europe released a report earlier this month and a statement today that encourages states in the European Union to limit their wireless emissions.
Those of you with a brain are now wondering if there was some study released that suddenly has made wireless something that we should be wary of. The answer is a resounding NO. There has been no study (and there have been lots of them) that at all incriminates the electromagnetic waves that we commonly use for wireless communication as a danger of any sort.
What this comes down to is that there are some people who have claimed that they are sensitive to electromagnetic radiation. This type of kookery goes back long before cell phone towers and wireless routers, by the way, people have been claiming to be bothered by everything from fluorescent lights to toasters for decades. Let me make one thing very clear before I go on. Electrosensitivity has not been proven to exist in any form and has not been acknowledged by any reputable medical or scientific body. There have been repeated studies on this subject and not one has found any correlation, never mind conclusive proof, between electromagnetic emissions and the symptoms these people claim to experience. The Telegraph article fails to mention any of that, and instead presents Janice Tunnicliffe as some sort of martyr amid the treacherous world of technology.
So anyway, back to the CoE and their kneejerk reaction. Despite not having one shred of proof that there is any danger whatsoever, the CoE recommends that their member states treat wireless emissions as if they were as dangerous as asbestos or tobacco. Really? Come on now, asbestos and tobacco are PROVEN killers, and wireless signal is anything but.
Here’s an excerpt from their resolution, just so you can see how silly this all is:
Waiting for high levels of scientific and clinical proof before taking action to prevent well-known risks can lead to very high health and economic costs, as was the case with asbestos, leaded petrol and tobacco.
Right, you definitely shouldn’t wait for proof before you go ahead and spend millions doing what exactly? Their suggestions include making “wave-free” areas, setting thresholds, doing risk-assessments and implementing campaigns to raise awareness of the potential harmful effects. Good luck with that guys. I’d be curious to see this list of potential harmful effects, since nobody has found any yet.
I guess I shouldn’t be surprised by this anti-technology reaction from them. The Council of Europe has a history of backlash against anything that might even smell like progress. Yes, let’s all go back to living our quaint village lives because this new century is just too fast paced for us. Can’t have any progress, goodness no.
This story by Ars Technica is where I first read about this lunacy in case you want a more rational view of this nonsense than the links above.