Another poem from chris wind – thought this one especially apt since it’s September and students are back at university…it’s from her book dreaming of kaleidoscopes

 

To My Philosophy Professors

 

Why didn’t you tell me?

When I was all set to achieve Eudamonia

through the exercise of Right Reason,

When I was eager to fulfil my part

of the Social Contract,

When I was willing, as my moral duty,

to abide by the Categorical Imperative

When I was focussed on Becoming,

through Thesis and Antithesis to Synthesis–

 

Why didn’t you correct me?

Tell me that Aristotle didn’t think I had any reason,

That according to Rousseau,

I couldn’t be party to the contract,

That Kierkegaard believes I have no sense of duty

because I live by feeling alone,

That Hegel says I should spend my life

in self-sacrifice, not self-development,

That Nietzsche thinks I’m good for pregnancy

and that’s about it–

 

Why didn’t you tell me I wasn’t included?

 

(Perhaps because you too had excluded me

from serious consideration;

Or did you think I wouldn’t understand?)

 

(I do.           I do understand.)

 

1987

AI Indeed

So I first heard of the movie Ex Machina when I read a review (by Chris DiCarlo) in Humanist Perspectives—and was so disgusted that I wrote a letter to the editor.  Why?  Because the reviewer had revealed his own misogyny by failing to address the elephant in the room: the fact that the body the guy created for his AI was that of a female, a sexy female, a young female, is what—mere coincidence?  The picture they’d chosen to accompany the review (no doubt, the one chosen to promote the movie) showed her bound.  In fishnet.*  Her pose was right out of a BDSM scene.  Not worth mention? As I said in my letter,

That you failed to remark on any of this disturbingly telling.  It indicates just how much men have come to expect to see women as young and sexy.  Apparently it’s the norm, it’s normal, to pornify women, to present their bodies as sexually available.

Well, fuck you.

(Have you heard of sexism?  Feminism?  Check it out, why don’t you.)

The letter was not published.  The editor wrote back and said,

I don’t know if this changes anything, but Chris had nothing to do with the selection of photos for the review. That was done by a woman who helps me with the onerous task of laying out the magazine.

—a comment that opens up a whole ‘nother area worth investigation.  How is it that people think that if a woman does X, it must be okay?  This notion informs the currently popular misconception of feminism as indiscriminate female solidarity.  (As a commenter said recently in response to one of my posts on BlogHer, implying that I was not a feminist, “My feminist sisters support all woman in whatever choices they make…” At the very least, that stance would be rife with internal contradictions.)

But onwards.  Does it change anything?  No.  As long as the image is from the movie, then the movie is evidence of the normalized pornification of women, and DiCarlo still ignores that elephant in the room.

If the AI had been black-skinned and called ‘boy’ and given menial tasks and whipped, I suspect it would have been noticed.  I suspect DiCarlo would have made at least passing mention to the implied racism.

But—and I’ve just watched the movie.  Not only is “Ava” sexy woman-child (there’s even a ‘play dress up’ scene), the guy has a hall full of closets of similar AIs.  He’s not making AIs.  He’s making fucktoys.  He actually tells his (male) guest that they have fully functioning holes.  We see him using said holes for his apparent pleasure.  The guest realizes that the guy has created Ava to match his porn file.  (What the hell is a porn file?  Oh.)

All very unremarkable, apparently.

There was one promising line—the guy insists that consciousness is gendered.  But the claim isn’t really challenged.  And it becomes clear that he has come to that conclusion because his ‘source material’ (his ‘blue book’) for Ava comes from a net cast wide upon the world-as-is.  That is, he’s just grabbed all the sexist sociocultural conditioning in the world and built something from it.  No wonder, Ava.

Ex Machina is just another movie that objectifies women.  It just pretends to be about AI, but it’s not even a little bit past Asimov’s I, Robot.

Is it redeemed by the fact that Ava escapes, after killing the guy (and leaving the guest imprisoned, facing the same outcome)?  Not really.  Because she does so by sexual manipulation (“I want to be with you,” she tells the guest in her soft, little-girl voice.  “Do you want to be with me?”).  (“Yes,” I imagine the guest replying.  “I’d like the girlfriend experience, please.”)  That’s apparently what the script writer and director believe intelligence is, at least when female-bodied.

And she escapes into the forest wearing high heels—fuck-me heels.  Though, okay, that’s probably all that was available to her, and we do see that she takes them off.  But she doesn’t throw them away.  Once in the real world, does she choose instead Doc Martens, loose pants with pockets, a comfortable sweatshirt, and a jacket?  No.  She remains sexualized.  Artificial intelligence indeed.

 

 

*Right, okay, it was actually metal mesh, I get that.  And the similarity to fishnet is also mere coincidence?  (If you think so, you are too naïve for words.  Certainly too naïve to be writing movie reviews.)

(You know we’re laughing at you, right?  [When we’re not screaming at you.]  You who investigate artifical intelligence but are too stupid to recognize your own immaturity, you who have conferences on “The Future of Humanity” with all-male panels, you who publish special issues called “Speaking of Humanism” featuring nothing but male faces…)

 

 

 

 

 

Blood & Oil

[since I’m at it — posting about tv that happened oh, a year ago…see June 1 post]

About a year ago, the weather reports became dramatic.  Forecasters started talking about “extreme weather events” with voices and gestures that rivalled sports game commentary, making droughts, wildfires, floods, tornados, and high temperatures all so—exciting.  My god, I realized one day with horror, they’re making the evidence of our imminent death into entertainment.

There was no mention of short-term, let alone long-term, implications for things like, oh, food and water…  There was no mention of why our weather is changing.  No mention of who’s to blame.  (The oil industry for providing the supply, and not telling people about the consequences of use.  The media for agreeing to censorship on that point [whenever any public interest group tries to put out an advertisement informing us, the media refuses to sell them airtime].  And most Americans and Canadians for allowing their worldview to be formed by forementioned censored media.)

I imagined the world actually ending as people continued mainlining television, utterly oblivious.  And that was bad enough.

Then I saw the trailers for the new tv series, Blood & Oil.  Oh    my    god.

They’re making oil sexy.  They’ve got Don Johnson, they’ve got two bare-backed supermodel female bodies, they’ve got a phallic fire-gushing oil rig.  They’re making it exciting (at least to the male brain), what with the sex, the fire, and the blood.

Why?  Why have the oil companies commissioned a tv series that makes oil sexy and exciting?

Do they think too many of us are limiting our fossil fuel use?  Carpooling?  Reducing air travel?  Turning down the heat during these colder winters? Not turning on the air conditioning during these hotter summers?  (Like residential resource use comes anywhere close to the unbridled industrial use…)  (Just for example, it takes 4.3 barrels of water to produce one barrel of oil from tar sands mining, and once the water’s used, it’s radioactive, toxic, pretty much useless.)

This is decade zero.  We’re halfway through.  Decade zero.  And we’ve already pretty much eliminated the possibility of staying under two degrees.  Given what we’ve already done, we’re certain to reach 1.5 degrees.  Certain.  Cause and effect.  It’s a done deal.  (To stay under two degrees, we need to limit our carbon dioxide concentration to 450ppm.  We hit 400 ppm in 2013.  And we’re adding 2-3 ppm every year.  Do the math.)

So what’s the point, now, of encouraging us to maintain, even to increase our use of fossil fuels?

Are they trying to distract us, play a little pretty music on our way to the gas chambers?  (No, that’s the least plausible explanation.  They clearly don’t care about us.  And there is no need for oil in that pretty little music.)

Do they really not know they’ve already guaranteed the end of the world as we know it?  (According to Naomi Klein’s research, if we don’t get our emissions under control by 2017, “our fossil fuel economy will ‘lock-in’ extremely dangerous warming” [This Changes Everything, p.23].)  (And “under control” means leaving 80% of the claimed oil where it is.  Underground.)

Are they trying to hasten our death?  Move the predicted date of extinction from 2100 (we’ll be at five degrees by then) to 2050? (Watch the insurance companies.  Watch what riders, exclusions, they start attaching to our policies.  Refusing to insure for damages and injuries resulting from nuclear accidents will be the least of it.)

Are they trying to rush the return on their investment so they can buy one more company before we all die?  Guarantee their ticket to ride on the shuttle to the new world—on Mars?

Have they forgotten that the free trade agreements they paid our governments to sign guarantee that their profits trump the planet?   (Never mind that the $775 billion in subsidies that they’ve received from taxpayers make their profits ours.)

Or are they trying to minimize the likelihood that someone, someone, will eventually go all vigilante for justice and target them with a semi-automatic.

Or did Hollywood come up with the idea all on its own?  Could they really not know what they’re doing?  (Just like they don’t know they have single-handedly desensitized millions of people to violence, to harm, injury, pain, death.)  (Ah.)

Given the facts, Blood & Oil is the equivalent of making heroin or the plague exciting.  And making vomit and pus sexy.

Men, Women, and Fairness

Men, Women, and Fairness

It’s not that men aren’t fair. It’s that they don’t even think about fairness. When Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever (Women Don’t Ask) asked people whether they deserved what they wanted, women typically responded with something like “…my training—what is really engrained in me—is that you’re never quite deserving of what you might want” (58).

Men, however, said things like “Um, sure, I deserve the things I want—yeah” (58) (he obviously hasn’t really thought about it) and “Interesting question! … The sense that I deserve something is not a sense that I carry with me, generally. Do I deserve this, or deserve that?” (59)

The authors summarized, “Where women are often preoccupied with ascertaining what exactly they deserve, it doesn’t really cross Mike’s mind to consider whether he deserves something or not—this approach isn’t relevant to his thinking” (59).

Which explains this: “Because Linda hadn’t asked to be promoted, the dean never even thought of her—she was off his radar” (64).

So, it’s not that men aren’t fair to women. It’s that they really just don’t think about it.

*

“It turned out that only 7 percent of the female students had negotiated [for a higher initial salary] but 57 percent (eight times as many) of the men had asked for more money” (2). Why? I suggest it’s because men think their wants are needs; it’s because men think what they want is important; it’s because men think they’re entitled to get what they want; it’s because men think they’ll get what they ask for (and they’re right), and women don’t (and they’re right).

*

“…modern Western culture—strongly discourages women from asking for what they want” (14). So true. women are taught to be generous and to give (not to get). Women are taught to defer to people.

“‘…as a man I have been raised with this sense of entitlement, that I should get what I want. And I almost think that societally women are conditioned that you don’t always get what you want’” (74).

*

“‘We don’t accept from women what we do from men’” says Roberta Nutt, former chair of the Psychology of Women Division of the APA (94). Yes, yes, there you go!

“You might think that women also need to be assertive to negotiate successfully—able to present strong arguments, defend their interests and positions … Unfortunately, research has revealed that assertive women are less well liked … This means that an assertive woman, no matter how well she presents her arguments in a negotiation, risks decreasing her likeability and therefore her ability to influence the other side to agree with her point of view” (96). Proof!

*

Regarding an instance in which a man asked for more money out of a discretionary fund and the woman didn’t, she says, ‘This fund—I never knew of its existence … It had never been publicized … There is no application procedure…’ (20). How is it the man knew about it and the woman didn’t?

*

“‘…his father had taken them [the boys] out and … taught them how to tip—basically, taught them how to slip the maitre d’ money for good tables or give some money to the guys who were in the band to play a good song… how to circumvent the system’ to get what [they] wanted” (34). Yeah, my father didn’t teach me that shit.

chris wind’s “Portia”

Remember The Merchant of Venice? This is “Portia”, from Soliloquies: The Lady Doth Indeed Protest by chris wind, another one of my favourite authors. (posted with permission)

If I’m the one with the property
You’d think I’d be the buyer
Not the bought;
A lot of faith my father has in me:
He distrusts my ability to judge, to discriminate—
A decision made by chance,
A decision inevitably and ultimately irrational,
Is preferable to a decision made by me.
But no, you say,
The decision was not to be by chance
But choice, and thus reveal the suitor’s character—
That is, he who chose lead would be wise,
To forsake appearance, and realize its irrelevance;
True, but you forget the inscription:
To choose lead, to choose ‘to give and hazard all’
Is to my mind not wise,
For its foolish risk (all!);
Is it not better to choose silver,
And ‘get what one deserves’?
It seems to me a mature perspective;
So, to judge by appearance
(And thus forsake appearance)
Or to judge by words
—That is the choice.
Words have meaning,
And unless the words be false or deceiving,
Is it not better to judge according to content,
Than to judge according to form
To substance, rather than pretence?
So if it was to be a test of character,
’twas thus a poor test,
For who was to guess what my father intended:
The form did contradict the content;
And so choice becomes chance, after all.

That I am not allowed to choose
Is in principle, intolerable,
But in practice, just as well—
For there is really not a one worth choosing:
A prince who boasts of his precious Porsche
And can fix it himself;
The County Palatine, who believes
A real man never smiles;
Falconbridge, a pin-up boy
With a mind as two-dimensional;
A Scottish Lord interested in nothing
But a good fight;
An alcoholic (the duke’s nephew, yes);
The Prince of Morocco, a blood-thirsty Rambo;
And Bassanio, attracted by wealth and beauty,
Willing in a moment to sacrifice his wife for his friend.
There is not one.

If I so despise men,
Why did I disguise as one?
’twas not my choice:
Shakespeare (a man) created my costume
(And that of Viola and Rosalind),
And in his cowardice, he refused to challenge the reality
That to be able to interact
Without having to defend against
Sexual or romantic intentions,
One must be male;
That to be taken seriously,
And to be exempt from compliments that essentially trivialize
One must be male;
That to be effective at an endeavour
Of the intellectual arts,
One must be male;
That to be dominant, influential, powerful,
One must be male
In patterns of appearance, behaviour, speech, and thought
—Patterns of thought?
But didn’t I put forward
The feminine concept of mercy over justice?
Didn’t care and compassion win over fairness?
No, look again:
The Duke first pleaded for mercy, not I;
My case was won on a technicality,
On the letter of the law.
(Though it is worth mention
That recourse to such a legal loophole
Was my last resort.)
The masculist mode won out;
But this is not surprising in a masculist court.

Where there is no challenge,
There can be no change.
For when the disguise is finally revealed
It is not recognized
That to be what I was (what I am)
One can be female—
It is recognized only that I am female.
And their response concerns only themselves—
Relief, that they won’t be cuckolds.

excerpt from Jass Richards’ “The Road Trip Dialogues”

So a couple hours later, they pulled into the main entrance of the university campus. There was no sign of the demonstration. There were no signs to the demonstration.

“Gee, this is a really good way to get the media’s attention,” Rev said. “Don’t tell them where you are.”

“Well, let’s just drive around. The campus can’t be that big. Or the demonstration that small.”

So they drove around and eventually saw something going on at the end of the sports field. They drove toward it and parked in a spot not far away. Dylan grabbed his camera and a notebook from out of his knapsack.

As they approached, they heard music blaring out over a sound system. Several tables were set up with what Rev assumed was literature, petitions, and so forth, and there were a couple large striped circus tents. More tables inside? Rainy day back-up? About a hundred students seemed to be in attendance. Most were standing around in clusters, some were throwing a football back and forth, and a few were rather despondently walking in a circle, carrying signs that said simply ‘NO MORE DEBT!!’

“Well, that’ll make the world a better place,” Rev said dryly.

Dylan took a few pictures, then they walked up to one of the tables.

“Hi there. I’m doing a piece for That Magazine. Can you tell me—” he had his pen poised, “what debt you’re protesting?”

She just looked at him.

“The national debt?” He tried again. “Corporate debt?”

“Student debt.”

Rev was stunned. “Student debt? You’re protesting your own debt?”

“Yeah.”

“But—why?”

“We have a right to be debt-free!” One of them said with gusto.

“On what basis?”

That stopped them.

“What?”

“On what grounds do you claim the right to be debt-free?”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, did you inherit the debt—is it a debt you bear through no fault of your own?”

“It’s our student debt,” she said, as if talking to a child.

“I understand that,” Rev replied. As if talking to a child. “But debt is typically incurred when you buy something and choose to defer payment. That deferred payment is your debt. So when you say you have the right to be debt-free, are you suggesting you have a right to get things without paying for them?”

“What?”

“This is hopeless,” Rev said to Dylan. “Let’s go before I shoot her.”

“University should be free!” the other student called out as they turned away. Rev turned back.

“Okay, well that’s something else altogether. Some countries do have state-paid university. Much like we have state-paid elementary and high school. But in those countries,” she couldn’t help adding, “I think you have to have a certain grade point average to get in. Or stay in.” She paused. And saw she needed to say it. “Do you have a—grade point average?”

“What?”

“Let’s mingle,” Dylan suggested. “Maybe—”

A burst of chanting suddenly came from one of the tents. They looked at each other in confusion. Shouldn’t the chanting come from those carrying the signs? As they approached the tent, they heard it more clearly.

“Chugga hugga chugga hugga…”

“I thought that sounded like ‘Hell no, we won’t go,’” Rev said. “It’s a beer tent. They’ve got a beer tent. At a demonstration. This is like a fucking picnic,” she said as they walked toward the tent.

“Do you think they’ve got food?” Dylan asked hopefully. Rev glared at him.

“What? I’m hungry. We buy food and it goes to the cause. Of no more debt,” he added lamely. “That’s what the Americans do, isn’t it?” he resumed cheerfully. “In the middle of every recession, or depression—you know I’ve never really understood the difference—whenever they don’t have any money, they go shopping. The President urges them to do just that. You’ve lost your job? You can’t pay your rent? Go buy stuff. It’s the American way.”

They’d arrived at the tent, and once inside, they saw that yes indeed, there was food. One table was full of extra large pizza boxes, most already opened, and another was full of beverages. They went up to buy a slice of pizza.

“How much is the pizza,” Dylan asked. To no one in particular, since there wasn’t anyone standing behind the table.

A student walked up to the table at that moment, helped himself to a couple slices, then walked away.

“It’s free?” Rev asked. Of no one in particular. “How can they provide free pizza if they’re all in so much debt they’re protesting about it?”

“Maybe it’s coming out of their student union fees or something?”

“I’d be pissed about that. I think.”

“Ah.” Dylan pointed then to the bright banner hanging across the table. “Courtesy of their sponsors.” He took a few steps back to take a picture.

“What? Sponsors? Demonstrations have sponsors now?”

He shrugged. They each grabbed a slice, and a bottle of beer, what the hell, and sat down at one of the tables.

“Chugga hugga chugga hugga!” came from the boisterous table in the corner. Dylan put his slice down for a moment and took another picture.

“No one’s here because they care about changing the world, making it a better place,” Rev complained. “Half the guys are here to pick up some chick and the other half are here just for the party.”

“What, you don’t think that was true during the 60s too?”

Rev’s pizza stopped half way to her mouth. Which was left hanging open. Oh my god, she thought. He was right. All those sit-ins were just parties. Music, drugs, sex. The issues were just an excuse, a cover.

“They didn’t change,” she murmured.

“What?”

“I’ve always wondered what made all those radical idealists change when they got into positions of power twenty years later,” she said. “That they did is what—I mean, if they couldn’t change the world—But they didn’t. Change. They weren’t idealists in the first place. They were just opportunists. All of them. Oh god,” she moaned. It was worse than she’d thought.

“All those ‘Make Love Not War’ signs,” she carried on, into hell. “It was personal. The political is always fucking personal! No one cares about anything beyond themselves!”

“I’ve got to sit down,” she said.

“You are sitting down,” Dylan pointed out.

“Did I just blow your mind?” Dylan asked then, as her pizza lay limp in her hand, forgotten. “You really hadn’t considered that possibility before?”

“‘Course not. I’m not a guy.”

“Oh are we back to that then?” He could get really angry about this, he thought. “You think women are so much better? They weren’t there to get laid too?”

 

excerpted with permission

The Road Trip Dialogues

The Last Man on Earth explains everything.

The Last Man on Earth explains everything.  But he’s too stupid, too infantile, and too self-centered, to know it.  Which is exactly why he explains everything.

 

1. He enjoys knocking things over, breaking things, destroying things.

He rams his grocery cart into a pyramid of cans.  He rolls bowling balls into a row of aquariums. (1)  Apparently delighted to hear the smash.  His reaction to blowing up one car with another is orgasmic.  What does that tell us?  Destroying things gives men pleasure. 

 

2. He wantonly pollutes the water. That is to say, he does not use resources responsibly. And that is to say, he exhibits extremely short-sighted thinking.

He uses a swimming pool for a toilet. (2)  A metaphor if there ever was one.  In more ways than one.  (In addition to the despoiling of resources, it shows us how full of shit he is.)  (And that he is, quite literally, an asshole.)

He does this, perhaps, because he figures he can just move into a new house whenever he’s finished wrecking the one he’s in. (3)  Again, such a metaphor.  (We’ve used up our own water and oil, so let’s go to someone else’s country and use up theirs.)  (And when we’ve used up Earth, we’ll go live on the Moon.)

Is it that, like other infants, Phil doesn’t understand “All gone!”? (4)

Is it that he lacks the ability to imagine the long-term consequences of his behaviour?

And does he really think he’s the only one left?  What a special little snowflake he is.  Sure, he drove all over the country.  Calling out from an RV.  Real thorough.  Apparently, he didn’t consider the possibility that someone might be alive, but hurt or in other need of help that would require him to actually get out of the RV and walk around a bit.

But that’s Phil.  He thinks the world is all about him now.  (Actually, he’s probably thought that all along.)

 

3. He doesn’t really do much else.

Well, he eats a lot of junk food.  And drinks a lot of alcohol.  And

 

4. He thinks about himself.

He thinks about how lonely he is.  Which may seem paradoxical, given how incapable he is of thinking about other people.  But he’s incapable of thinking about what other people might need or want.  He’s lonely because of what he needs and wants.  (Which explains why, when he finds himself so utterly alone, his cry sounds more like the wail of an infant than an existential scream. [5])

No surprise, then, that

 

5. He considers half the human species merely as things to be fucked.

Almost the first words we hear him say are about how much he misses women.  Since that comes right after apologies to God for masturbating so much, we know he misses women because he uses them to masturbate.  (Not because they might know the cure for the virus.)

And just in case we missed this, we see him choosing porn over food in the grocery store (6), and we see his lingering gaze at the female-bodied mannequin.

So that’s three times in the first six minutes we get this message: women are sexual objects for his use. (7)

When he dreams about a woman eagerly kissing him, the woman is, of course, gorgeous.  Why is it that unattractive men always think women will find them attractive?  More incredibly, why is it that unattractive men think attractive women will find them attractive?  Seriously.  How deluded do you have to be about your own attractiveness?

And again, just in case we missed this, when Carol introduces herself as “the last woman on Earth,” we see from the look on his face that he’s thinking he may have to break the bro pledge, “I wouldn’t fuck her if she was the last woman on earth.”

 

Phil thinks he’s the last man on Earth because some virus wiped out everyone else.  That may have been the proximate cause.  (Or just bad writing.)  It’s likely that climate change, due to melting polar ice and the consequent change in the ocean currents, due to increased greenhouse gases, due to relentless fossil fuel use and meat consumption, changed disease vectors which, along with the consequent disruption in the supply of goods and services (food, water, drugs; medical care) created a perfect storm for the virus to become a global epidemic.

He’s the last man on Earth because he gets pleasure from destroying things, because he doesn’t live responsibly, because he thinks only of himself, his own (primarily physical) needs and wants HERE! and NOW!—in short, because he’s disgustingly infantile.

I don’t find that at all entertaining, let alone insightful, so I stopped watching. (9) (10)

 

 

(1) And of course, he won’t clean up the broken glass.  But, well, he’s the last man on Earth, and, hey, if he doesn’t bother him…  So if, when, he discovers he’s not the last person on Earth, if, when, he discovers there are other people in the world, other people who might want to walk there without getting cut up, will he go back then and clean up the mess he made?  Of course he will.  And pigs will fly.

(2) It brings to mind the patch of garbage floating around in the Pacific Ocean that’s twice the size of the United States.  And all the industrial waste — 70% of it — that men (most likely) pour directly into our fresh water.

(3) The truly disgusting shape of the house he’s living in after a mere five months brings to mind that thing about if the history of the Earth were a year, life wouldn’t appear until March, multi-cellular organisms not until November, we’d show up on December 31, by late evening, we’d have well-developed brains—and then it’d take us a mere forty seconds to thoroughly trash the place.

(4) He glories in there being no rules or, more specifically, in there being no rule-enforcer: like a child, he hasn’t developed any rules of his own.

(5) That he continues to believe there’s a God also indicates just how child-like Phil is.  He may as well be writing Dear Santa letters.

(6) That pornographic magazines, magazines in which women are for the most part humiliated and degraded, is openly for sale, even in grocery stores, without disapproval by the writers or Phil is clear evidence of the rampant misogyny I’m pointing out.

(7) It’s pretty much what the writers think about women.  In the very first episode, we see there’s also a woman alive.  But is the series titled, then, The Last Man and Woman on Earth?  Of course not.  Women are not worth mention.  (Well, except, as fuckholes.)

(8) He’s certainly not thinking that she might be thinking “I wouldn’t fuck him if he were the last man on Earth.”

(9) Who does find that entertaining?  And why?

(10)  And does anyone find it insightful?  I mean, really, is any of this news?

Women Writing Science Fiction as Men — why bother?

I’ve just finished reading Mike Resnick’s collections Women Writing Science Fiction as Men and Men Writing Science Fiction as Women.  There were two rules for submissions to the anthologies: “First, each story had to be told in the first person of a man [woman]; and second, if changing the narrator from Victor to Victoria [or vice versa] didn’t invalidate the story we didn’t want it.”

So what he ended up with was a bunch of stories emphasizing the gender stereotypes we all know and hate so well.  The women wrote about men who were competitive and primarily interested in sex.  The men wrote about women who were nurturing and primarily mothers.  Ho hum.

What would have been far more interesting, and far more challenging (though a challenge sf writers, if anyone, are certainly up to), would have been stories in which changing the narrator from Victor to Victoria (or vice versa) would not have invalidated the story, would have made no difference whatsoever.

Those are the stories I want to read!  That’s a future (a fantasy?) I want to live in!

 

Climate Change Disaster Movies

Have you noticed the increase in climate change disaster movies?

Right, yeah, let’s get everyone comfortable with the idea.

The idea that survival is possible.

And, after, if only heroism.

The price of being a philosophically irresponsible idiot

[excerpt from The Blasphemy Tour, Jass Richards.  Reprinted with permission.]

 

“We hope you’re enjoying Texas?” the show’s host said, after he introduced Dylan and Rev as his first guests of the day.

“Well, we’re a little puzzled by all the American flags. Outside on people’s houses and their lawns—we’ve even been seeing them sticking up in the middle of the forest, at people’s cabins presumably. What an eyesore.”

She didn’t notice the intake of breath.

“Well,” the host replied, “many people fly the flag because they have a son or daughter serving overseas.”

Rev hadn’t thought about that. She did now. Then said, “And why would they want to advertise such stupidity?”

“Well, it’s not stupid,” the host was trying to be calm. “Wanting to serve your country—”

“Oh please. Most of the people who enlist wouldn’t give their fellow Americans the time of day. I’ll bet they never volunteered at a soup kitchen or even gave up their seat on the subway. Suddenly they’re willing to—”

“They’re fighting for our freedom,” the host interjected.

“Yeah? How? How exactly does killing someone in Afghanistan or wherever make that guy—” Rev pointed at random to the one of the techies, of which there were suddenly several, all paying rather close attention to what was going on—“free? He looks pretty free to me already.”

The host tried again. “They’re bringing democracy to a country—”

“—they know nothing about. Most of them couldn’t even point to it on a map. Every time I see coverage of American soldiers overseas, they’re shouting at its residents in English. And then they’re angry when the people they’re shouting at don’t do what they’re told. Apparently it doesn’t even occur to the soldiers that they speak a different language. What, they think the world speaks their language? How arrogant. Or just stupid.

“Which explains why they really go,” she continued. “They get suckered in by the ads, about courage, honor, glory. ‘I’ll do what my country asks me to do,’ they say with such self-righteousness. Oh please. Who asked? Name one person who came to you and said, ‘Hey, John, could you please go kill that person for me.’

“And then they come back all distraught and messed up because they did just that. Like it’s such a horrible surprise. The six weeks of being taught how to load and shoot a gun should’ve been a clue.”

“Well, they thought they’d just be killing—”

“The bad guys? What are they, twelve?”

“But—”

“I get, and admire, the desire to be a hero. It’s just that in the context of war, heroism is—” she paused, trying to find the right word, “—manufactured.”

No one seemed to understand what she was getting at, so she turned back.

“Look, you sign up to be a soldier, you kill people. At the very least, you hurt them. And they scream, and bleed, when their arms and legs are blown off. Especially the kids. Go figure. Did you think they’d get up and walk away after they’d been shot?” She spoke into the camera. As she’d been instructed.

“And now you want to kill yourself because you can’t live with what you did. Or, worse, because you can. You didn’t anticipate that? Why the hell not!”

Dylan noticed that a few people in suits had moved in among the growing crowd of techies. As had Tucker.

“How is it you have no idea what happens in war? Wilfrid Owen. 1916. All Quiet on the Western Front. 1929. M.A.S.H. 1970. Coming Home, Apocalypse Now. Late 70s. Born on the Fourth of July, Casualties of War. 80s. In the Valley of Elah! Every generation comes back and tells us. This is nothing new. Where have you been?

“I’ll tell you. With your head in the sand and your hands on your video games, dreaming little boy dreams of being a hero.

“Did you think it wouldn’t actually be you to pull the trigger? Zimbardo! Milgram! We have done the studies. We know what happens when people are put in that situation. And it’s not like these studies are hidden or censored. Anyone can go to a library and sign out a book on psychology, a book on group influence, peer pressure, indoctrination, brainwashing, there are lots of them. You can even get one on eBay. For ninety-nine cents.”

One of the suited men had started making throat-slitting gestures to the host, who was trying, unsuccessfully of course, to stop Rev. Tucker quietly moved to stand behind the man, ready in case—well, ready.

“And it’s not like you had to sign up. If you’d been forced to do it, that would be different. If someone had held a gun to your own kids’ heads, that would be different. But you chose to go. You chose to subject yourself to military conditioning and now you’re crying because it worked.

“So if you ask me,” she said, fully aware that no one had asked her, “you deserve every sleepless night, every nightmare, every flashback you’re now getting. You should have known. That you didn’t is your own fault.

No one jumped into the silence that followed.

“And you should have thought about it. Before you did it. But you didn’t, and now you’re a mess. Well good. You should be. That’s the price of being a philosophically irresponsible idiot. Not to have thought through the ethics of it—it’s a failure of personal responsibility.” She looked squarely into the camera again. “Again, what are you, twelve?”

“But if you question the morality,” the host pointed out, “you’re labelled a bleeding heart. A boyscout. A pussy.”

She looked at him. “Since when did ethics become a girl thing? And besides, so what? You ignore right and wrong just to avoid being called a pussy? When your loved ones tell you they’re enlisting, you don’t try to stop them? Because you don’t want to appear weak? You should tell them what fools they’re being! Tell them it’s a suicide mission no matter how it turns out!”

Dylan noticed then that many of the people, actually all of them except the one still slitting his throat, were nodding, silently applauding, or giving a thumbs up.

“And please, enough with the talk about ‘psychological injury’ and trouble ‘transitioning’. Since when is ‘transition’ a verb?

“And ‘post-traumatic-stress-disorder’—give me a break. It’s guilt. Nothing more, nothing less. Guilt for having done something monstrously wrong, something cruel, something barely justifiable. And since when is guilt a disorder?”

“So,” Dylan said in the heavy silence that followed, “You wanted to ask us something about our tour—of enlightenment?”