the fatling

No matter how well things are going, I always feel a little bit fat.

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SASSYNACH! Outlander Recap - Episode 7: The Wedding (50 Shades of Tartan!)

katiecompa:

Previously:
No need to be “skeered” while Jamie’s around!
Claire went on the road with Dougal & co. for a tax-collecting trip as healer/roadie.
Black Jack Randall wanted to know if Claire ever saw her Scottish companions behave treasonously. Claire evaded answering (badly). Randall punched her (hard). Dougal rescued her (temporarily).
Dougal told Claire that if he could make her a Scot, she’d be safe from Randall. Yikes! Oh, she’s marrying Jamie? NEVER MIND, EVERYTHING IS FINE (and I MEAN fine).
Claire and Jamie discussed how they are about to get married. Doesn’t it bother Jamie that Claire isn’t a virgin? No, but he is.

The stage has been set! The Outlander Facebook page has been posting wedding invitations all week, as though this weird forced wedding calls for stationery and calligraphy at all, even if they had time for such niceties. It’s not really a partyThey barely have time to get Jamie a kilt, in Scotland, for god’s sake. Speaking of weddings, the theme song is the same one they played at Charlotte and Trey’s wedding, which I think is also the only time aside from Four Weddings and a Funeral that I’ve seen a kilt as formalwear.

Upfront: I expected more from this episode, which, if I may get explicit for a moment, means I expected to have to sequester myself for a few days to really appreciate it, but, as in life, the first time wasn’t really that exciting, and again as in life, it was awkward. I watched with my roommate, and we haven’t made eye contact for three days.

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paulftompkins:

This was quite a journey! I spent the better part of a day going back and forth with a guy that I was not entirely sure was for real at first, then I absolutely got fooled, and then I realized I got fooled. It was fun. The guy said some LEGITIMATELY funny stuff when he was “in character.” And it all ended in a way that I felt good about.

It’s pretty much all laid out in the screencaps, But let me elaborate here:

HEY YOUNG MEN! I know it seems like women complain a lot about how they are represented in media, including fiction, and how it seems like they want entertainment tailored specifically to them, and how they seem to want ALL of pop culture to be politically correct or feminist-ized or whatever it is you think they want, but really, what’s happening is that women are tired of seeing garbage women characters in most of our entertainment. And they’re wondering, Would it really be so much trouble to make more realized female characters? You could still have all your CGI and action and science fiction and drama and swords and stuff, but the female characters could be a little more fleshed out and interesting. And the entertainment would still be good and would, in fact, be better.

Guys, instead of  thinking, “Hey, not everything has to be politicized,” try thinking, “I wonder what it would be like for me if the situation were reversed, and how I’d feel if in the vast majority of the entertainment I consumed, the male characters were few and far between and then mostly used as talking props & plot devices. I wonder if I’d get kinda tired of that and occasionally I’d say something, even a little joke, just to ease the annoyance a little.”

Fellows. Listen to the women in your lives. Ask them questions. It will change your perspective for the better. Years ago, I got into a brief argument with two female friends of mine about a movie— it does not even matter which movie— that they viewed as sexist and I did not. I couldn;t even fathom how they could see it that way. I tried to argue that it was not sexist. In recounting our discussion to another party, it was pointed out to me that they might have a different viewpoint based on their life experiences, and that it was not for me to tell them that their interpretation was incorrect. And that I was probably getting defensive about it because if the movie was sexist, it followed that my liking it would make me appear sexist. And that’s when I realized that none of this was about me, and maybe I should shut up and listen and try to understand. And also to be more aware of things like this and develop not just my sympathy, but my empathy.

I will only ever be able to empathize so much with women, because my experience as a white male in America is vastly different from that of anyone who is not that. But I can relate to:

  • not being taken seriously
  • not being listened to
  • being dismissed
  • being condescended to
  • having something explained to me that I already understand

And I having had those experiences, I am now more inclined to TRY to understand where someone is coming from if they are telling me they are having a similar experience with our culture.

So guys: just try. You don’t even really have to dig that deep. Think about your own experiences as a person, then apply that to someone else. It gets easier the more you do it, and it makes your life better.

Anyway, I hear Dawn of The Planet of The Apes is pretty good! 

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Girl Shit: 50 Shades of Rape

I remember the first time I experienced rape.  

I didn’t experience it firsthand, fortunately.  I was reading Catherine Marshall’s Christy, a thick book about the power of faith in the godforsaken hellscape that is deep Appalachia.  I’d watched the Kellie Martin-Tyne Daly tv movie (and later series) on ABC, and I was always on the lookout for long, “grownup books” to read because it impressed all of my adult relatives.  So I bought Christy and read it every day for a few weeks on my hour-long bus ride to and from Catholic grade school.

One afternoon, I hopped on the bus and sat in the back—which was an unusual choice for a brownnoser like me.  I preferred the front, where I got teased less—being one of only two girls on my route made me an easy target.  I cracked the book open, and read a scene between Christy—our privileged protagonist, scandalized by the brutality of everyday life in the community she has been assigned to as a schoolteacher—and her mentor, Miss Alice—an older Quaker woman.  In the scene, Alice explains to Christy how she was raped by an older member of her church as a teenager.  It’s more subtle than that in the book but I remember snapping my eyes shut when I realized what I was reading (a juvenile tactic I had adopted as an effort to avoid consuming media that might be “sinful” in some way).

I might be imagining history here, but I am pretty sure I went home and talked about it with my mom, as I did any time I felt my immortal soul was in danger.  I’m not sure what it was that made me so uncomfortable—the matter-of-factness of the scene, the presence of sex in any form, or the slow realization that this was rape.  I’m not sure I even knew what that word meant.  My mom must have found some way of reassuring me (these moralistic panic attacks were a regular thing with me up until the age of 16), because I finished the book.*

This memory conjured itself up today as I re-read Anna North’s America Pacifica, a book I absolutely hated the first time around.**  I’m really digging it now for reasons I can’t understand, but the book contains one of the absolute best real-time descriptions of rape I’ve ever read.***  The heroine, Darcy, realizes that she can either allow a wealthier man to rape her in order to extract information about her missing mother from him or attempt to escape and sacrifice both the information and her ability to safely enter her own home (the man is also a cop and has used his connections to stalk her and corner her in her apartment).

Darcy then simultaneously notes everything happening to her body in detached, clinical detail and dissociates from the situation, fixating on her childhood fear of water and a disastrous swimming lesson with her mother.  There’s nothing sentimental about it.  Darcy’s accepted her status as “less-than” and is using it to her advantage, even as she has to “[take] a proud part of herself and…[lock] it away.”

Compounding the horror of the assault itself is the fact that her rapist evidently sees the encounter as consensual.  Post-coitus, he “lay along her with his skin against her skin as if they loved each other, as though touching made them both happy.”  It’s unclear how much of this is a conscious choice on the rapist’s part—he threatens Darcy with a gun before leaving, darkly “encouraging” her to be home the following night for round two, but it’s done so subtly that even Darcy isn’t sure what he’s thinking.

It’s a stunning piece of writing, and a powerful case for more exploration of sexual assault by female content creators.  

My second remembered experience with literary rape comes courtesy of James Ellroy’s LA Confidential, which I enjoyed overall, having seen the movie before reading the book.  I still prefer the film, in no small part because the film totally excises Ed Exley’s repeated sexual assault of Inez Soto throughout the course of what is grossly termed a “relationship.”  The book was clearly sympathetic to Inez*****, which made Exley too morally ambiguous even for Oscar voters who couldn’t get enough of Russell Crowe beating the shit out of Kim Basinger for getting coerced into sex by Exley.  Still, most rapes I’ve read from male authors can’t quite capture the internal bargaining that goes on during a sexual assault, the cost-benefit analysis that leads so many of us to just lie on our backs and think of Andrea Dworkin.  It’s this that spawns the troublesome existance of “gray rape,” brilliantly boiled down to the portmanteau "grape" by slyly feminist standup Amy Schumer.  Is he going to hurt me? Where else can I go?  Will anyone believe me if I tell them?  Would he actually kill me?  If I ask him to wear a condom, is that consent?  Maybe if I just let him do it, it will be over more quickly…

Male authors can generally get the sense of dissociation right—it’s a gender-neutral response to any sort of physical trauma.  But when rape is about the intersection of power and privilege relative to gender (and that’s all it ever is when a man rapes a woman*****), it’s tougher for men to tap into that feeling of ultimate powerlessness, that searing realization that to a certain percentage of the population, you are a “thing,” that your desires don’t matter and that when you try to tell someone—a friend, a parent, a police officer—you have to overcome that “thingness” that’s just been pumped into you and reinforced by your assailant.  Even if they believe you, the system says you got what you deserved for daring to think you are not an object, and it’s better to just move on than keep dwelling on your own abject inferiority.

To an extent, they are right.  What’s inspiring about Darcy and Alice and even Inez Soto is that they all do just that.  They have their reactions to being objectified and demeaned, but they refuse to internalize that “thingness.”  They move forward at different paces and develop their own power—Darcy as a beacon of hope for what’s left of humanity, Alice as a strong community leader, Inez as advisor to a Walt Disney-like Hollywood magnate.  They shut down the ways objectification can touch them.  Each in her own way, they harden, and yes, they probably lose something precious in the process—ability to engage happily in sexual activity, to trust, to think of humanity at inherently “good.”  But they gain the knowledge that comes from knowing you’re at the bottom, knowing that other people believe themselves entitled to take whatever they want from you.

They gain the knowledge that when the worst has already happened to you, there’s nowhere to go but up.

*Which, incidentally, is a great book despite its sterling reputation amongst the evangelical set.  I think I want to re-read it now.

**I picked it up after re-reading Margaret Atwood’s MaddAdam a second time because it was the closest non-Atwood post-apocalyptic thing at my disposal.

***The other is in Lev Grossman’s The Magician King and involves a an enormous fox god.  You’d think that would detract from the depiction, but it’s absolutely devasating.

****Ellroy is aways weirdly compassionate to his female victims, even as he puts them through his signature sadistic paces of degradation, presumably being of a piece of his ongoing, very public attempts to grapple with his own mother’s brutal demise.

*****Yes, men sometimes rape other men, and women sometimes rape men.  That’s not what this post is about.  Go back to Red Pill on Reddit and leave me alone.

Filed under christy catherine marshall america pacifica anna north la confidential james ellroy rape sexual assault literature feminism 50 shades of grey

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Wevsday: Jack White & Women

image

I’m looking forward to Jack White’s new album Lazaretto.  I really enjoyed 2012’s Blunderbuss and I am digging White’s new blue color palette since I’m going through a bit of a “blue period” myself.

Yesterday, I caught Steven Hyden’s Grantland piece on the Meg White-shaped hole in White’s new music and persona, which is interesting enough—I had the good fortune to see The White Stripes live way back in 2005, and I have to agree that he’ll probably never reach those weird musical highs again solo, but I’ve been digging what he’s laid down so far.

The Grantland piece kicked me back to Jessica Misener’s piece for The Atlantic, Jack White’s Women Problem, wherein the author writes about White’s predilection for writing songs about a certain cold, distant sort of woman, the type who undermine White and force him into a victim role.

The whole piece seemed like a bit of a reach in terms of characterizing White as an out-and-out misogynist, but this bit jumped out at me: “White’s dismissal of a 21st-century woman in Blunderbuss' “Freedom at 21” makes perfect sense. A modern-day woman, with her sexual freedom and iPhone, represents power and choice, things that White embraces in his own life. But she's come by this in a way that's not on his terms, so she's a villain.”

The song in question is, if pressed to choose just one, my favorite track from Blunderbuss.

The thing I really liked about Blunderbuss as a whole was that it did focus on women who’d thrown a wrench into White’s plans—or the plans of the song’s narrators, as White himself would have it.  The effect it had on me was wholly different than the one Misener describes. 

Rather than making me feel like White was castigating women for being cruel and calculating, songs like “Freedom at 21,” “Sixteen Saltines,” and even the title track felt like a celebration of a certain lethal form of femininity.  Think Angelina Jolie if she’d stuck to her goth, blood vial-wearing, pre-Brad Pitt 90s edginess (currently on display in Maleficent, I guess?).  It’s rare to find a piece of art where the male artist unabashedly presents himself as a fairly pathetic, sometimes willing victim of a powerful woman.  Sure, there’s a lot of hurt going on in those riffs and lyrics, but there’s also a bedrudging respect: I can’t believe a woman did this to me!

It doesn’t matter to me which women in his life Jack White is-or-isn’t upset with.  His music hits something primal and feminine for me, and if that thing is my innate villainy, I’m not sorry.  The other thing I like about Jack White’s women is, villain or no, none of them are big on apologies.

Filed under jack white maleficent lazaretto grantland meg white blunderbuss the white stripes feminism women villains angelina jolie steven hyden jessica misener

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Wevsday: Maxi Dress Attack

People, I have recently become totally obsessed with maxi dresses and have been spreading their gospel everywhere I go.  Do yourself a favor and check out the amazing selection at Target.com.  So affordable.  So comfy.  So chic.  I’m also including a helpful list of pros and cons to aid in convincing you that maxi dresses are the right look for your summer.

Pros

  • Don’t need to shave your legs
  • Don’t need to wear underwear
  • Like wearing pajamas in public
  • Can dress up or down with cute accessories
  • Not cinched at the waist so you can eat as much as you want
  • Looks good on EVERY body type
  • Literally everyone will compliment you on your dress

Cons

  • None whatsoever. Go buy a maxi dress right now.

Filed under maxi dress fashion target

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Raiders of the Lost Fatling

I had a funky conversation with my husband last night.  It went like this.

ME: I don’t think I’d want to be too skinny.  That’s boring.  I’d look like everyone else, you know? 

TOM: Oh, yeah?

ME: Yeah.  Like, I’ve been losing weight, but I think I’d be really sad if I lost my little pot belly.  It makes me mad sometimes that I have it, but I like it.  It’s mine.  It makes me who I am.

TOM: That’s good!

As you may have noticed, I have returned to blogging.  And I have also returned to dieting and exercising.  And also blogging about that.  I hadn’t logged in here at all in well over a year, I think, and when I was reformatting my theme to more accurately reflect my “personal brand,” I was kind of stunned by the things I had “liked.”  It was primarily gifs of Black Swan, which is still one of my favorite movies, but also reminded me that when I first signed up for Tumblr, I was really angry at my body and really secretly wanted thinspo blogs to magically transform me into a delicate, underweight ballerina.  Gross.

I’m not angry anymore.  I mean, yes, I look forward to the day we all evolve into beings of pure energy and the word “body” no longer has meaning, and yes, I am still “The Fatling” even in the face of my own image positivity, because any casting director on the planet would tell me to lose at least 40 pounds.  It just takes so much time to be angry, and I don’t have enough time for it anymore.

It took me 31 years, but I did finally realize I only get one body, and it’s only built to look a certain way.  I can eat well, I can exercise, I can not smoke, but I have to decide those things.  And it’s not as hard as I’d been making it out to be for most of my life.  If I lose weight, fine, but it’s not as essential to my happiness as I’d tricked myself into believing it was.

I’d rather be who I am, I guess—a short, chubby lady who is nonetheless funny and sexy and smart—than be a carbon copy of the magazine cover ideal.  It’s been a long road to come to a pretty Sesame Street type realization about self-worth, but I’m glad I got here now.

So watch this space for stories about body stuff and exercises I like and foods that are good and the status of my little pot belly.  Currently, it is hanging out under my boobs as usual, looking adorable in a hot pink and black striped maxi dress.  Good job, little pot belly!

Filed under diet exercise fatling black swan body image

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Girl Shit: Just Say No

This weekend, I was part of Boston’s 6th annual Women in Comedy Festival.  I got to hang out with a bunch of other funny people, perform my funny jokes, and see a lot of funny shows in a cool city.  Pretty typical festival experience, all in all.

Like a lot of festivals, this one offers panels & talks intended to help attendees grow their comedic skill set, learn about the business of standup comedy, and interact with industry professionals.  On Saturday, May 10, I attended the generically-named “2014 WICF Panel” which promised to be “a roundtable discussion about industry trends and creative practices shaping the current comedy scene, especially as they apply to women and minorities.”

Anyone who knows me is well-aware that this is my jam, so I was excited to be in a place with other people like me who want to see different voices bringing their brand of funny to audiences.  The panel included comedy royalty Judy Gold and Wendy Liebman, local club owner Rick Jenkins, headliner & talk-show host Erin Jackson, and moderator/headliner in her own right, Erin Judge

We don’t need another hero—they’re already here!

Curiously, the panelist who received top billing in our festival brochures was Eddie Brill, the now-disgraced former booker on Letterman’s “Late Show” who was fired in the wake of making some sexist comments about comedians in the New York Times. I Googled Brill quickly during the sparsely attended continental breakfast before the panel (comedians are not early birds, even when free doughnuts are involved).  I wanted to make sure I hadn’t missed some sort of admission of wrongdoing on his part, or a pledge to be a better ally to people like me in the future, but everything I found was dated 2012, just after publication of the Jason Zinoman NYT profile.  According to CBS (who retained Brill as Letterman’s warmup comic), the official reason for Brill’s firing was making unauthorized comments to the press, but his incendiary dismissal of women comics as “less…authentic” than their male peers was the primary topic of online conversation. 

In addition to reprints of Brill’s comments, and some think pieces in the wake of the scandal, I also found a Variety piece that intimated Brill’s firing had more to do with the workshops he runs, trading on the Letterman show prestige to drum up students and make extra cash on the side.  This kind of class (or even comedy “school”) is pretty common: a comic promises to show you the ropes of stand-up or give you feedback on your act, despite the fact that s/he probably isn’t very good at it or s/he’d be earning a living doing that.  I took one myself back when I first started out, and they’re pretty harmless in general, but this one has the extra carrot—find out from a real, live late-night booker what you can do to increase your chances at getting your shot at America’s increasingly apathetic-about-standup, half-asleep comedy audiences!

I wasn’t sure why this person would be on a panel about overcoming challenges in comedy at any festival, given the compelling case that Eddie Brill himself is a challenge in comedy, but I figured the organizers knew what they were doing and I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.

That lasted for all of five minutes.  My fellow attendees and I were immediately pressed into duty as captive audience for the Eddie Brill Apology Tour.  No matter what question the moderator put forth, Brill managed to twist it around and whine to all of us how he was the victim, the author misquoted him, he was always pushing for more women and minorities (or, as he put it at one point “Blacks, Chinese…” and then at another point, “colored, or whatever”*), it wasn’t him who only put one female comic onstage in 2011, it was his nameless bosses, see, they pulled all the strings, leaving poor, old Eddie holding the bag when that New York Times muckraker pointed out their abysmal track record on diversity. 

I don’t know what happened when Jason Zinoman sat down to talk with Eddie Brill, but I do know that Jason Zinoman is a respected journalist and author who writes for one of the most respected papers of record in the US and Eddie Brill is a man who has the audacity to flat-out ignore Judy Gold’s forceful demand that he stop hijacking the conversation and making excuses for a scandal so old that the baby comic** seated next to me finally had to whisper, “What is he talking about?” I also know that Eddie Brill is a person who is too stupid to even pretend he understands why people of color might not appreciate his various outmoded ways of addressing them, even as he’s literally sitting next to another panelist who happens to be a Black woman.  He may have, as he claims, lobbied for more women and minorities to appear on Letterman, but based on all the evidence, I’m calling this dispute for Zinoman.

You go, Glen Coco!

Just in case anyone’s “man-bashing” trigger finger is getting itchy, I just want to point out that Rick Jenkins was a fantastic panelist, giving concise, helpful, amusing answers to questions when he was able to get a word in edgewise.  My overall experience with him at the festival was terrific (I performed at his club, the Comedy Studio, on Thursday night), and everyone I spoke to about him had nothing but nice things to say.  Rick is good people.

The panel itself wasn’t able to really address many industry trends or even the paths the comics on the panel had taken in their careers.  I would have loved to hear about how Erin Jackson got her Aspire Network talk show, Exhale, or how Wendy Liebman handles her taxes—practical, nuts and bolts stuff.  I would have loved to hear everyone’s opinion of and strategies for handling social media as a comic.  How do I go about finding an agent or manager?  Any tips on turning over material?  When should I move to LA or NYC?

Instead, it wound up being a lot of bluster about the frustrating challenges we face as women in this industry, but how could it be otherwise when one of the challenges, one we’d all thought had been neutralized, is sitting right next to you, talking over you, still attempting to silence you? There is some comfort in knowing that working professionals suffer the same injustice, prejudice, and lack of opportunity that I do.  But more comforting would have been to hear their advice on dealing with it beyond keeping my head down and ignoring it—when do we speak up?  Do they wish they could be more radical in demanding equality from bookers and other comics, thus abolishing the need for female-focused festivals and “diversity” lineups?  There are so many people who want to pick up this torch, but they—we—need help.

I live-tweeted the panel, ripping Eddie Brill apart as best as I could.  My tweets got very little traction—few of my comedian friends responded or RT’d.  Other festival attendees were surprised at my no-apologies condemnation of the man, despite their own discomfort with the way things went down, saying, “Yeah, well, he books stuff still…”

I have no idea how much pull Eddie Brill still has in this industry.  I don’t know whose ear he still has, and I give zero fucks.  I do not want Eddie Brill’s good opinion because his good opinion is worthless to me.  He has already proved himself obsolete in an industry that is changing and becoming more diverse, recent late-night shenanigans notwithstanding.  If he is booking a show or a festival or a tv spot, I do not want that show or festival or tv spot.  I don’t care if I get blacklisted from every opportunity worth having for saying I dislike this person with the fire of a thousand suns and I don’t respect him at all.  I will get an apartment with a balcony and just do my standup there, Eva Peron-style. 

Don’t cry for me. Seriously.  Don’t.

One last thing . To the people behind the scenes at WICF, how did this happen?  I heard some scuttlebutt at your closing party that Brill somehow strongarmed his way onto that panel.  I have no idea if that’s true.  But I’m pretty sure you knew who Brill was, and why his name is mud.  I’m also pretty sure that, knowing all that, you wouldn’t have insulted everyone in attendance by seeking him out for this panel.  It’s your festival.  You started it and you have kept it going for six years.  You know how to get sponsors and venues to work with you.  You know how to book great comics and sketch groups and improv teams.  You know how to build lineups.  You know how to publicize.

You need to learn how to say “no.”

He has no power over you!

Brill may have been powerful for years.  He may have been close to the final word on whether or not a comedian could appear on Letterman.  But not anymore.  The industry that Brill is an expert on has already changed beyond his own recognition.  David Letterman is retiring.  Jay Leno is retiring.  Their replacements and competitors all have the same skin color and dudely bits, yeah, and that’s frustrating.  But in 30 years, Eddie Brill, David Letterman, and Jay Leno will be dead.  All the old, white men who hired them will be even deader, or at least retired. 

Florida! A fate worse than death.

And maybe the younger people, the women, the male allies, the people of color who rose to run networks against all odds—maybe they won’t be scared anymore.  Maybe they won’t be scared anymore because you said “no” to Eddie Brill.  And then someone else said “no” to another lily-white late-night anchor*** and then said “no” again when the network tried to pull it after a single season.   And people just keep saying “no” until comedians who happen to be women, or gay, or have skin that’s darker than ecru get to hear “yes” more often.

Then we’ll all have what she’s having!

*Not a Zinoman-esque “misquote,” I assure you.  I heard it, my friends heard it, people I had never met before heard it.  Trust.

**A “baby comic” is a newer comic, someone with 2 years or less under her belt.

***Oh snap, that just happened!

Filed under wicf14