Friday, July 31, 2009

Sexist Beatdown: Ejaculations of Surprise Edition!

Why, hello there! I hope you have pleasant plans for the weekend. Me, I have to take my mother and brother out on the town. They will ask, "what precisely is it you do all day, Sady?" And I will say, "today, I posted a chat about whether or not you should let dudes ejaculate in your vagina. OR ELSEWHERE ON YOUR PERSON."

Yep! Science agrees, apparently, that pulling out is a "reliable" form of birth control. Tracy Quan believes this to be some BS - BS, perhaps, that will maybe result in you getting The Deadly Crotch Rot or an accidental fetus from when the dude in question "forgets" to utilize this cutting-edge birth control method! Meanwhile Jessica Grose thinks Tracy Quan needs to chill and give folks a little more credit.

Of course, this means that it is time for a Sexist Beatdown. Join us, as the incisive and funny Amanda Hess of Washington City Paper's The Sexist and I discuss the cutting-edge sperm-placement technologies of the modern age!

ILLUSTRATION: Oh, sure, he LOOKS cute and cuddly.

AMANDA: 9:23 a.m. is a great time to talk about the ups and downs of not ejaculating into vaginas.

SADY: yes. personally, when i heard that not ejaculating into vaginas was a "reliable" form of birth control, i had my suspicions! i was like: apparently all of the dudes i have argued with about birth control have become scientists! who knew?

AMANDA: published in the renowned peer-reviewed journal of medicine, Maxim.

SADY: right. it strikes me as some flawed science, is what i am saying! for, even if withdrawal is a semi-effective method of "birth control," it strikes me as a highly ineffective method of Not Getting Various Diseases Such As The Herp Control. which i think is what Tracy Quan is saying, which is good common sense.

AMANDA: of course, but at the same time, real scientists who are not your ex-boyfriends have worked very hard to come up with dozens of methods of birth control that also don't prevent STDs

SADY: fair enough! the scientists, they do these things! i suppose i am a person who likes a certain modicum of control over these situations. and withdrawal as birth control, TO ME, relies on your partner having (a) really good timing, and (b) a solid commitment to not getting distracted or losing track of whatever he is supposed to be doing, during a moment that (AS I UNDERSTAND IT) can be kind of distracting! (I AM REFERRING TO THE MALE ORGASM. In case my incredible tastefulness and subtlety are working against me.)

AMANDA: this is a point that Quan made as well, and I agree that for a lot of people withdraw would not be a good option for this reason. But all forms of birth control come with a degree of human error, or in some cases, shit ripping inside your vagina error. say you're a couple who doesn't want to use condoms. and the woman takes her birth control pills, but the man, like you, can't trust her---for whatever reason---to take them at the same time every day. maybe she forgets sometimes!

SADY: fair enough!

AMANDA: he might not want to rely on her, either. and so if you forget a birth control pill, or a condom breaks, or you ejaculate into a vagina, you know, you can take emergency contraception as well. one of the interesting things to me about this study---and i'm just going to assume the study is accurate for argument, because i don't know anything about methodology with these things. is that it placed withdrawl slightly below condoms, right? and still, most of the response has been, 'there's no way this could ever work, this is some frat dude conspiracy.' and so perhaps what this study reveals isn't that withdrawl is a very good option, but rather that we have a bit too much faith in condoms

SADY: a fascinating point! and i agree, some of this may have to do with the fact that, as long as i've been alive, anyway, Birth Control has been less important to the discussion than Safe Sex. and most of the sex ed i have ever received has been like, "USE CONDOMS, also there are other methods but seriously just USE CONDOMS." and i'm still a fan of the condom, because it is cheap and does not require a prescription and has a lower failure rate and higher disease protection rate than other things! the withdrawal method, to me, requires what is (in many or most circumstances) a perhaps unrealistically high level of trust for one's makeout partner. but maybe this just has to do with the fact that i have been culturally conditioned to trust other people less than i trust the Trojan corporation.

AMANDA: of course. and the method is really counter-intuitive, because pulling out is something that irresponsible 15 year old boys are supposed to do, when really it's something that would be more appropriate for, say, mutually monogamous STD-free old people.

SADY: right. it is odd for me that something which is the centerpiece of much heterosexual porn is now a meaningful expression of committed monogamous trust. NEXT UP: how having sex on a bus can keep you from getting cancer!

AMANDA: hhahaha. yeah. i heard if you put a donut on it and then seductively bite it off it lowers the risk of kidney failure, or something

SADY: WOW. a doughnut, you say! i guess i've been doing it all wrong with the bagels.

AMANDA: i'm with the critics of Quan with this one, though - something that PEOPLE DO turning out to be less sexually risky than we thought is probably a good thing. she says a bit of anxiety is good, but i actually have a lot of that! and so reducing that is probably a good thing for a lot of people. maybe not for Quan, but it's not like we're getting rid of condoms! The Trojan lobby (sponsored by Tiger Beatdown) would never allow that.

SADY: true enough. i guess i am just concerned with the fact that there is already pressure on girls to be the "cool" ones who don't "make" the dude use condoms. i do not know why i think that the sort of dudes who apply that pressure are all going to show up with scientific studies and go through a careful risk-benefit analysis! yet i do. in conclusion: withdrawal is totally fine, if you want to do that and are reasonable about it, and not fine if you do not. CONTROVERSY!


SADY: there, problem solved. everybody does what they want to do. the real winner? the paper towel industry. hurrah!


Yes, it's true: Seth Rogen feels NOTHING BUT OUTRAGE! Because people just won't stop calling him a SEXIST! I mean, I imagine it hurts to be subject to such unfounded criticism; it's not like he's starred in and/or improvised much of the dialogue for a series of movies in which women are either Crazy Drunk Sluts or caretaking mechanisms for men, or like he starred in that one movie with the wacky rape scene, or like he wouldn't stop doing promotional interviews in which he praised the wacky rape scene, or like he wrote the screenplay for that one movie about how menstruating vaginas are terrible and you should get girls incapacitatingly drunk so as to fuck them and in which THE CHARACTER WHO FREAKED OUT ABOUT THE VAGINAS AND WAS MOST CREEPILY INTO THE GETTING-GIRLS-DRUNK PLAN WAS NAMED "SETH" AND WAS ORIGINALLY SUPPOSED TO BE PLAYED BY ROGEN HIMSELF, or... no, wait. Sources have confirmed that this is exactly what Seth Rogen has done. Because he is a sexist, probably.

Anyway, behold the terrible OUTRAGE of Rogen, via Vulture! Oh, and also, there is BONUS JUDD APATOW. Because Judd Apatow, when not defending himself from charges of sexism, likes to participate in the sexism of his friends. Because Judd Apatow is apparently that wormy little dude who is totally socially appropriate and non-sexist until he's in the company of bigger dudes who have his back and will help him get away with it. Because look at this shit:
Judd Apatow kept his criticism polite, explaining that she was "probably was doing six hours of interviews and kissing everyone's ass, and then just got tired and slipped a little bit." Luckily, however, Apatow brought his furry avatar, Seth Rogen, along to say what he was really thinking.

"I didn’t slip and I was doing fucking interviews all day too," said Rogen. "I didn't say shit!" Then he sarcastically praised Heigl's The Ugly Truth: "That [movie] looks like it really puts women on a pedestal in a beautiful way." Apatow joined in a little: "I hear there's a scene where she's wearing underwear with a vibrator in it, so I'd have to see if that was uplifting for women."

Apatow continued, "I feel sad that she hasn't learned the lesson of her journey yet ... [You'd think] at some point I'll get a call saying 'Sorry, I was tired ... ' and then the call never comes."

Yes, Apatow feels sorry for her. Isn't it terrible that she hasn't learned not to say that things are sexist in public? I mean, it is not as if Judd Apatow would not accept an apology from her. Truly, if only she would see the error of her ways and crawl back to Judd Apatow and repent of being one of the many people to point out the overwhelming sexism of Judd Apatow movies, Judd Apatow would welcome her with open arms. Although he would not give her more work, because although he keeps insane codependent multiple-film relationships with pretty much every dude he has ever worked with, the women show up in one movie and then go away forever unless he is married to them. Which is not sexist! NOT SEXIST AT ALL.

Anyway, it's Rogen, as always, who brings his typical not-sexist and illuminating commentary to the table, and thereby raises the bar for all of us:
"I gotta say, it’s not like we’re the only people she said some batshit crazy things about. That’s kind of her bag now."
Hey, remember when Rogen responded to the creators of Entourage (again: what?) and their accusations of misogyny by saying that they were "morons" and "assholes"? Note how this differs when the accuser is a woman. If a guy says it, it's an insult, and must be responded to in an appropriately macho manner. If a girl says it, it's beneath contempt. It invites pity. It just means that she's insane. Because it's not like women, being targets of misogyny, would know what it looks like or anything. No, they're just hysterical, the poor little things.

Thank God for Seth Rogen, disproving his own misogyny once and for all.

(PS: To folks who are asking me about "The Ugly Truth": Yes, I saw it. Yes, it's terrible. Hopefully you will hear what I have to say about it next week.)

What Message Will You Send With Your Twilight Tattoo?

Bad news, everybody: you might be a girl. And, as a girl, you are required to love Twilight. Don't know why! It just works that way, I guess. So, as a girl, and therefore a Twilight fan, I am assuming that you are planning your very first Twilight tattoo.

But wait! Consider! A Twilight tattoo has many ramifications. I mean, besides the fact that everyone is going to look at it for the rest of your life and be like, "huh, so that's what you spent a couple hundred bucks on, huh?" Your Twilight tattoo should express the essence of who you are, and what you want out of life and/or sparkly vampires with outmoded attitudes toward gender.

Fortunately for you, Geekologie has provided a handy gallery of Twilight tattoos! (It has also provided many comments you should not read, and proof of the fact that when something geeky is associated with girls everyone in the world can feel free to make fun of it and talk about how terrible it is, whereas when something geeky is associated primarily with guys it is a renowned cultural institution and/or Star Wars.) Here, we examine the leading contenders, to see which one captures the precise nature of your Twilight love.

This is a tattoo that says, "ask me about my extensive collection of free-verse poems featuring the word 'darkness.'"

This is a tattoo that says, "I will be wearing a turtleneck for every single day of my summer internship."

This is a tattoo that says, "since I assume you will be watching me while I sleep, I've provided you with extensive reading material."

This is a tattoo that says, "why do people keep buying me copies of Codependent No More?"

And finally, this is a Twilight tattoo that says, "basically, I have given up."

So, what will your Twilight tattoo say about you? Only you can decide! Well, you and everyone else who sees the words "R-PATT 4EVER" tattooed on your neck, I guess.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT: My Knowledge of Genesis is Limited, But I Am An Expert on LOVE

Hey! Want to hear something crazy? I got to to a guest post on Shakesville, WOO. Do you want to hear something that is EQUALLY CRAZY? I am now a love advice counselor, who gives love advice, which is based on the timeless and always applicable lessons of Cinema! I assume this is going to go well, given that I know everything and whatnot. Behold, the opening paragraphs of my post!

You know, friends, being allowed to do a guest post at Shakesville is an honor. An honor of which I, specifically, plan to prove myself unworthy! How will I do this, you ask? Why, by revealing my new career to you! My new career is: DR. SADY, THE LOVE DOCTOR, WHO GIVES LOVE ADVICE, WITH HER Ph.D IN LOVE.

"But Sady," you are saying. "You do not actually have a doctorate in the Love Sciences! You are completely unqualified for this position!" This, sadly, is true. I only have a Master's! Oh, okay, that is not true either, actually. But I have watched a lot of movies.

Specifically, I have watched romantic comedies. These cinematic documents, or "texts," have unlocked to me many of the true secrets of Love. Also, they are made "for women," which I assume means they cannot be sexist! Truly, the major film studios of Hollywood always have the best interests of the ladies at heart, as we can learn from Sex and the City: The Motion Picture, and its forthcoming sequel, Sex and the City: Marriage Marriage Shopping Marriage Babies.
I know, I know. You are dying for love advice! Also, you want to know whether I can tell the difference between Peter Gabriel and Phil Collins (SPOILER: I cannot). But to do that, you will have to click on this link! So that is what you should do. RIGHT NOW, before it is too late for Love!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Tiger Beatdown PRESENTS: The Caitlin Flanagan Experience! Featuring Sandra Tsing Loh, and Depression.

You know, friends, I get tips sometimes! I do not write about all of these tips, for I am lazy. HOWEVER, when I receive a message entitled "Tiger Beatdown Emergency," and it mentions a live! Multi-media! Interview! With Caitlin Flanagan! Well, I pay attention.

Yes, it's true: you, the listener, for no money at all, can go to this very web page and listen to Sandra Tsing Loh (who wrote about leaving her marriage because she didn't like it any more) speaking with Caitlin Flanagan (who writes about how you should never leave your marriage, EVER) about, well: marriage, I guess. MARRIAGE: A Terrible, Soul-Draining Experience From Which You Must Escape, or a Terrible, Soul-Draining Experience From Which There Is No Escape? Such is the topic of discussion. I have this wild suspicion that maybe there are some people who like being married, but this is not newsworthy. Crazy fringe-dwelling marriage-likers!

Anyway, Sandra Tsing Loh seems like a nice lady. I liked her essay OK! (Personally, I like any lady who writes the line "my dearest childhood wish was not just that my parents would divorce, but also that my raging father would burst into flames.") Sadly, given that Sandra Tsing Loh seems fairly even-handed and level-headed throughout, she cannot be the draw here. No! The real draw is the crazy anti-feminist carnival ride that is listening to Caitlin Flanagan speak! Join me, as I work through the checklist of potential "YIKES" moments presented to the listener here.

1) CAITLIN FLANAGAN SUGGESTING THAT EQUALITY KILLS BONERS: Check! Actually, Tsing Loh takes the lead on this one, suggesting that men have been "feminized" by, um, not being giant babies and learning the skills necessary to feed themselves and not live in their own filth? It is a weird moment. But I liked the essay! Nevertheless, Caitlin Flanagan is the one who really runs with it, as she is nothing if not concerned about the fate of the poor, helpless boners. She attributes the vitality and well-being of the boners in her marriage to the fact that her husband "cannot boil water" and is not burdened with the hard, thankless labor of making dinner or cleaning the house or whatever. The person burdened with this hard, thankless labor is Caitlin Flanagan, and she loves it! Or maybe she doesn't, but it doesn't matter, because she wrote that essay about how you should put out for your husband whether or not you want to! Or MAYBE, just MAYBE, none of it matters at all, because Caitlin Flanagan and her husband can hire professional domestic help if they want to, and have done so in the past! In conclusion: vote Yes on Boners! Boners! Hooray!

2) CAITLIN FLANAGAN FOREGOING RATIONAL ARGUMENT IN FAVOR OF TALKING ABOUT HOW HER DAD ALSO HAD SOME BONERS: This comes in pretty early on, actually. She is supposed to be talking about how marriage is awesome and you should stay in your marriage if it is not awesome and what she does instead of this is to tell this marvelous story about how her grandpa used to say the phrase "before you were a glimmer in your father's eye" (a phrase no-one else's grandpa has ever used! I'm sure) and how she eventually realized that this meant her dad used to get boners, with her mom, and oh God don't take me back to the Alec Baldwin sexy Dad place, Caitlin Flanagan, pleeeeeeeeeeeeassse.

3) CAITLIN FLANAGAN SUGGESTING THAT MARRIAGE IS "FOR THE CHILDREN," WHO WILL TOTALLY BENEFIT FROM LIVING WITH TWO PEOPLE WHO HATE EACH OTHER. Did you know that, if children are not raised by their biological parents, they will fail at life? Such are the prophecies of Caitlin Flanagan. This explains why Tiger Beatdown, a blog written by a lady whose mom has been divorced two times and married three times, is basically entirely composed of entries about how I am trading sex for heroin in bus stations with men whom I call "Daddy." Oh, no, wait, none of that is true! In fact, I know very few people who have spontaneously exploded due to the fact that their parents divorced! I do know people who think fondly about how great their lives would have been if their parents would have gotten divorced instead of fighting all the damn time and being crazy. But this is in direct contradiction to the high-brow ponderings of Caitlin Flanagan, who has found the Platonic model of marriage in "Jon & Kate Plus Eight" (WHAT) and writes things like "Jon and Kate Gosselin's marriage was an enterprise dedicated not to making themselves happy but to taking care of the cavalcade of children they had produced... laboring at something more significant than their own pleasure." Ah, culture!

4) CAITLIN FLANAGAN NAME-CHECKING TERRIBLE POTENTIALLY LETHAL ILLNESS THAT NO-ONE CAN SAY ANYTHING ABOUT NO MATTER HOW GROSS HER MEANS FOR NAME-CHECKING IT MAY BE BECAUSE IT MEANS WE DON'T CARE ABOUT HER CANCER: Check! As you may know, Caitlin Flanagan likes to talk and write - a lot - about how she had cancer, and her husband took care of her when she had the cancer, because she was an appropriately submissive wife. The alternative, of course, is that you are not an appropriately submissive wife, and you still get cancer, and your husband wraps you up in a burlap sack and drops you down the well like a sack of kittens. True story! Or, it might not be a true story, but you cannot question this, unless you love cancer and don't care about Caitlin Flanagan. Shut your traps, cancer-lovers!

5) CAITLIN FLANAGAN DEFENDING MARRIAGE IN SUCH A WAY THAT THE LISTENER CONCLUDES HE OR SHE WOULD PREFER LIFELONG CHASTITY OR PERHAPS HAVING HER EYEBALLS GNAWED OUT OF HER SKULL BY RATS: Check, check, and check, my friends. Hey, remember this line? "There probably aren't many people whose idea of 24-hour-a-day good times consists of being yoked to the same romantic partner, through bouts of stomach flu and depression, financial setbacks and emotional upsets, until after many a long decade, one or the other eventually dies." Ha ha, YIKES! Yep, that's pretty much the Flanagan program, and it is on display here. Thank you, Caitlin Flanagan, for steering us away from traditional values by praising traditional values. Again.

Monday, July 27, 2009

IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT: My Dark Plan Reaches Its Zenith; Also, Megan Fox

Friends, as we all know, my goals in life are to blog my faults with 40 links to other places. Also, to fit in some feminism around the edges! And I believe that one of the more important feminist issues today is Megan Fox.

I am serious about that, actually! The press coverage of Megan Fox really, really bothers me, because it is sexist! Which is why I wrote a piece about her for The Frisky. It begins:

Ladies, gentlemen: “Transformers” is not a movie about acting.

I know! It came as a surprise to me, too: I had always believed that “Transformers” aspired to be a sensitive exploration of the human psyche. As it turns out, however, it’s a movie about giant robots fighting each other.

So, no: “Transformers” is many things, but it is not a movie about acting. However, when its star Megan Fox said as much in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, it set off a firestorm of controversy, most of which can be summed up in the title of a post on the blog Zelda Lily (“Feminism in a Bra”): “Megan Fox Is An Ungrateful Bitch.”

Say, would you like to read the rest of what I have to say about Megan Fox? Good! Because you can read it now, on The Frisky.



EDIT: About the one Megan Fox hate blog I mentioned: some folks I used to follow when I had a Tiger Beatdown Tumblr have been reblogged there. Which: I don't know what that means. Things can circulate anywhere and everywhere on Tumblr, because of how it's designed - things get reblogged every which way and eventually some feminist's statement winds up getting reblogged by a dude who wants Megan Fox to be gang raped or I end up reblogging Boner Party, or whatever. I tended to only follow people who were smart and incisive, which I would imagine precludes them from enjoying random anonymous celebrity-hate blogs about how someone is a "ho" or should "shut her trap" on the Internets, and I imagine a lot of folks would be appalled by the connection. So I don't know what the connection is; I imagine the person who writes this is just trolling Tumblr and other sources for material. HOWEVER. If you are secretly submitting tips to or (God forbid) editing a Megan Fox hate blog: um, I dunno? That's fucked up? But I did some research, like, joining Tumblr again so that I could see notes, and Tumblr searches and Google searches to see if anyone had written an entry on another blog that was like, "I also started a blog about hating Megan Fox because I am awful and full of hate and here is its URL," and nothing came up. If you are embarrassed by association with the hate-blog, I am sorry.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

ADVICE! For Deleted Commenters! Sady the Starfucker Edition

You know, reader, I have not done one of these in a while. The mean anonymous comments have mostly been boring! And I like to dish out my friendly advice to people who are, at the very least, entertaining or innovative in their comment hate. Today, however, ADVICE FOR DELETED COMMENTERS returns! For, of all deleted comments, my favorites are those in which the commenter tries to make it clear that he or she is only insulting me for my own good. I got one of those today! And, believe me: it is epic.

It begins:
One thing even a casual reader will notice is that, Sady is great at tooting her own horn! Yes! She constantly links to her OTHER writings at MORE IMPORTANT websites!
Reader: the post to which Anonymous Angry Commenter #419 (sorry, dudes: if you won't leave your names, I'll have to start numbering you) is responding is entitled "My Raging Narcissism Will Destroy Us All." A joke, of the self-deprecating variety! In that post I also made jokes about how unqualified I was to represent feminism, and about the fact that the interview in question hadn't gotten much traffic.

Let us be clear on this: in a post in which I did nothing but make fun of and/or get down on myself, someone left a comment about what a cocky, self-promoting bitch I am. Apparently, I'm not sufficiently convinced that I and my writing are shit; also, I do the decent thing, which is to try and drive traffic toward sites that are driving traffic toward me, and to let my readers know about the other stuff I am up to. I just don't hate myself enough, is the problem! Fortunately, AAC #419, in the tradition of AACs everywhere, is here to help.
And what do her readers get HERE .. fake interviews with some compatriots instead of original thoughts... reviews of 4 yearold movies! Wow!
Ha ha, yes. Tiger Beatdown, heartless commercial enterprise that it is, is devoted solely to producing marketable posts in order to obtain an optimal number of pageviews; content, style, and principle are irrelevant in my merciless quest for market domination. It is like The Huffington Post, but with fewer naked boobs! (NOTE TO SELF: INCLUDE MORE NAKED BOOBS.) Which is why, last week, I made the ruthlessly commercial decision to stop everything in order to write long, joke-free essays about some obscure movies and tell you about my feelings on a ten-year-old rape case.

You know, some day I'd like to have a "personal blog" where I can write whatever the hell I want, often in direct contradiction to the received wisdom about what makes a commercially viable blog post (short, witty, timely, and controversial are the goals; also, it helps if there are click-through links, polls, and - if possible - naked boobs). But, alas! My days are spent maintaining the corporate media giant that is Tiger Beatdown!
One MIGHT start thinking, well 'tiger beatdown', which sounds like a 60s fanmag to Fabian and Rydell...
Hmm, you're right. "Tiger Beatdown" does sound A LOT like the name of a fan magazine. What an unfortunate and unintended coincidence! Oh, if only I had the on-target pop culture sense of Anonymous Angry Commenter #419.
is just an 'experiment'.. an add on to see if Sady can make it in the world of fem-blogging... hence her slavering delight when Melissa McEwen featured her .
Here we come to my favorite part of the comment: the part where AAC #419 drops any pretense at criticism and just goes straight to the conspiracy theory. The miraculous thing about all this is that AAC #419 is exactly right! Yes, it's true: since being openly, vocally feminist, and taking a hard line on feminist issues, is one of the best - if not the best - methods by which to ensure mainstream acceptance and popularity in our culture, I devised a cunning ruse. I pretended to be feminist, and spent several hours of each and every day researching, thinking about, and writing about feminism, in order to obtain the UNLIMITED FAME AND FORTUNE that I believe to be my birthright.

In truth, of course, feminism could not be less important to me. I mean, women! Who cares? Am I right, fellas? "Sady Doyle," that interminable ranter-on about the ladybusiness, is nothing more than a construct, an elaborate fiction meant to ensure my success. In reality, I am dogged anti-choice advocate and Ohio state Representative John Boehner.

I do apologize, however, for getting excited when Melissa McEwan asked me to do a guest post. As we all know, the appropriate response to learning that someone whose work you have long respected apparently respects your work as well is to retire to one's bedroom and weep for several hours. Afterward, one must mortify one's flesh to atone for the deadly sin of Pride. I recommend hair shirts, or a nice long round of whipping.
but wait ... favoring better gigs for more exposure? Relying on more famous friends? That sounds like the very patriarchy we're all supposed to be fighting! YES! Sady doesnt put her A team material on 'tiger meltdown'.. she has bigger designs.. she wants to MAKE it as a writer .. oh theres patriarchy again ! HIERARCHY!
AIEEEEEEE! My dark secret has been revealed! Yes, if you rearrange the letters in "Tiger Beatdown," they spell VOLDEMOR... wait, WHAT?

That's your problem with me? The fact that I've published elsewhere? The fact that I have friendly relationships with other people who publish? That's it? What the unloving everholy fuck are you thinking?

Oh, wait. I know what you're thinking. I know, because I used to think it too. Because, you see, for as long as I have been writing, I have had people in my life encouraging me to start pitching publications and make a go of the writing. And I said, "no." I said, "I could never do that." I said, "I'm not good enough."

I said this for a variety of reasons, but one of the chief ones, I think, is that I'm a woman. (That is, when I am not Ohio state Representative John Boehner.) Women aren't supposed to like themselves: they're not supposed to like the way they look, they're not supposed to like what they need or how they feel, and they're definitely not supposed to be ambitious in any way or to believe in themselves to the extent that they can pursue the careers of their choice. Writing - which is, basically, the act of conveying what you think, in the belief that other people will want to hear it - is a particularly unladylike act.

But it's OK as long as I don't seem proud of it, right, AAC? It's OK as long as I don't betray the massively unwomanly confidence necessary to talk to people and basically be like, "I think my writing is good enough to appear in your publication." It's OK as long as I'm obscure, unpaid, not valued. That's what purity looks like: doing hours of work for no compensation and never betraying any indication that you're proud of what you do or believe it to be in any way exceptional.

Fuck that. The problem you have, AAC, is not that I'm "patriarchal" or "hierarchical." That's some self-serving bullshit you're ladling out to excuse tearing another woman down in a supremely patriarchal way. The problem, actually, is that you think I don't know my place. The problem, actually, is that I respect myself and other people respect me and I don't feel like pretending that I'm unworthy of respect, not any more.

The thing is, I still do participate in patriarchy, though not in the way you imagine. Since this blog has been getting more traffic, since I've been getting published in places I admire, I've been freaking out, having panic attacks, getting down on myself, telling myself I can't do it or won't do it or don't deserve to do it.

AAC #419, you changed all that. I realize that devaluing myself is a radically un-feminist step, given that my culture already devalues me. I'm a writer. I'm actually a pretty good writer. I'm going to work as hard as I can to write the best stuff that I can, and sometimes I might get compensated to write that work, and you are just going to have to sit there and fucking deal. And occasionally accuse me of PATRIARCHY! when you get really upset.

I do apologize for not putting any "A team" material on the blog, however. To make up for that, here is a picture of Mr. T:

dont post this.
I just think you are diluting what talents you have trying to be too many things. I have faults too. But I dont blog them with 40 links to other places.
That's apparently true, AAC. Of course, since you aren't brave enough to leave your name or a trackback, I can't verify that you don't blog your faults; however, you seem to be content with expressing those faults - which are, in order, a tenuous grasp on basic writing skills, deep stupidity, and a belief that women can best serve the feminist cause by hating themselves and/or living in refrigerator boxes underneath the train station - in anonymous comments on other people's blogs. A noble calling!
See! Love ya Sady! Really!
Ha ha, love you too, AAC! Tell you what: why don't you focus on learning to write above a third-grade level? Then maybe you can start publishing, and I can be your very own Famous Friend.

Friday, July 24, 2009

IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT: My Raging Narcissism Will Destroy Us All

So! Here is an interesting thing that happened this week: John "Frisky!" DeVore interviewed me about Feminism, a topic I am totally qualified to represent in its entirety, in Imaginationland. And now you can find that interview on noted web publication The Frisky!

Commenters, thus far, are disappointed that it did not turn into Thunderdome. Personally, I think it went pretty well! In that it was actually a conversation and not just two people yelling past each other, as interviews about Feminism tend to be. So, you can read it now.

Also, tune in for next week's installment, in which John "So Frisky!" DeVore and I participate in a groundbreaking live webcast in which we debate the finer points of gender theory... WHILST HAVING KNIFE FIGHTS. Granted, I have not yet actually pitched this idea to John "Have I Mentioned How Frisky This Dude Is?" DeVore, but I believe it to be solid pageview gold.

SEXIST BEATDOWN: Takes Guard Has Your Homophobic Rape Joke Video Games Edition

You know, kids, it's a lovely day. Why don't you go and play outside, instead of rotting your minds with all of these "video games?"

Ha, no. I like video games OK. I even like Flash games! I have had a none-too-demanding desk job; I have been in college and have wished to avoid term papers; I am a key member of the Internet Flash video game demographic!

So, when I heard about this one particular Internet Flash video game, entitled "Watch Out Behind You Hunter," in which the goal, the only goal, is to make a little dude wander through the woods while naked men jump out of the bushes and attempt to rape him, at which point he shoots them to death - I was, um... revolted? Scared? BASICALLY JUST IN AWE AT THE DEPTH OF HUMAN TERRIBLENESS AND TOTALLY CLUELESS AS TO HOW OR WHY SOMETHING LIKE THIS GETS MADE?!?!?!? Yeah, that last one, I think.

It was, therefore, time for a Sexist Beatdown! Join us, as Amanda "Player 1" Hess of Washington City Paper's The Sexist and I, Sady "Player 2" Doyle of the Internet's Tiger Beatdown, discuss the perils of online media, sophisticated translation software, industries aimed at 14-year-old dudes who are kind of stupid, and the fact that, whether you play it or not, just knowing about Watch Out Behind You makes losers of us all.*

ILLUSTRATION: Remember Bejeweled? That was a nice game. Why can't you kids just play Bejeweled? Or PARCHEESI.

SADY: why hello my good woman! care to speak about the evils of video games?

AMANDA: corrupting our children

SADY: i know! the youth today! once i would have been not-serious about this but now i am not so sure.

AMANDA: i know, i think i'm getting older :(

SADY: well, also: it turns out that videogames, if you research them, are terrifying! like: RAPELAY, the world's leading rape-simulator for your home system. or this new game, in which the goal, i guess, is to run away from rape-minded gay men whilst shooting them in the face?

AMANDA: i played this game.

SADY: did you? did you really? how was your gaming experience?

AMANDA: well, the first thing to know about this game is that it debuted in french. and if you run the French title through some sophisticated language translators, you will find that the original name of the game was "Takes Guard Has Your Buttocks, Hunter!”

SADY: oh, MY.

AMANDA: the second, and most horrifying, relevant point about this game is that the gameplay is extremely boring. and so, we may conclude that the only possible draws of the game are a) shootin' queers or b) briefly catching sight of tiny cartoon penises.

SADY: I'M SORRY I CAN'T HEAR YOU I'M PLAYING TAKES GUARD HAS YOUR BUTTOCKS. but not really. i am just looking at it, some more.

AMANDA: hahahah

SADY: yes, i think that the creators were adamant about it being "humor?"

AMANDA: yeah---there's always this defense from Creators who are criticized over the content of their product. where they contest that the Game is something More than it Appears, when really it's a very simple and boring flash game with no point, except to depict murder and rape as easily and speedily as possible

SADY: right, exactly. but, i mean, these are the perils of online media. this game has peen in it, and raping, and it allows one to pretend to shoot dudes in the face for wanting to fuck you, and in this manner, it appeals to douchebags and gets traffic. it also has peen, and raping, and allows people to pretend to shoot dudes for wanting to sex them, and in this manner, it draws outrage from people such as myself and gets traffic. either way, TAKES GUARD WINS.

AMANDA: and then i played the game! which allowed me to say, This game is not fun and games!

SADY: (i appear to be playing this game wrong, by the way, as no naked men have jumped from the bushes to assault me yet.)

AMANDA: you gotta walk past them!

SADY: (perhaps i have clicked on the new, "non-offensive" version of Takes Guard Has Your Buttocks, in which you just shoot at rocks.)

AMANDA: Takes Guard Has Not Your Buttocks, Carry On Hunter

SADY: ah, well. well: i mean: i think this kind of stuff is actually endemic to a lot of entertainment, particularly entertainments such as this, which are aimed specifically at young straight dudes and are meant to get word-of-mouth. i mean, ladies play video games too! yet most of the videogames i have played are like being hit in the face with a jockstrap, that is how lowest-common-denominator-sexist they have been.

AMANDA: yeah, and i hate to take a Think of the Children approach to this, but i think that many of The Children persuasion also wish they weren't being so obviously pandered to. because anytime a filmmaker or gamemaker passes off gratuitous rape scenes or sexist jokes as "edgy" or "un-PC," what they're really saying is, "i'm lazy."

SADY: exactly. they are like, "LOOK, what we are saying is that men who want to have sex with dudes are predatory and rapey and you should kill them. maybe the reason that you are offended is that you have NEVER HEARD HILARIOUS JOKES ALONG THESE LINES BEFORE." like: no, dude, i have. i really really have. also, don't quite think you understand the definition of the word "jokes." and obviously, i follow a lot of ladies on the Twitter who talk about videogames and sexism and also love the crap out of videogames, so i don't think this is a problem with the base (except for the lazy portion of the base) so much as it is a problem with creators. although the Shoot Dudes Before They Have Your Buttocks Game is a flash game, so, you know. dealing with a whole other subsection of the genre here, primarily there to get you to click on some advertisements for adult friends or whatever.

AMANDA: right. but i think you've touched on something interesting, which is that women are consuming things, but there are often a lot of real barriers to getting women making the things, too.

SADY: OR, they can participate, but only insofar as they are making what is deemed "marketable" within that genre.

AMANDA: although i think the only qualifications you need to make an internationally famous flash game is being 14 years old and having access to Babelfish. right - you're lucky to be involved anyway, so don't try making any changes, because making us accountable for the terrible sexist and homophobic shit we put out would be SO like a girl. in conclusion, when is sarah palin getting into video games?

SADY: um, i believe AERIAL WOLF HUNTER is already a videogame. if it's not, it should be. the wolves fight back! with LASERS! but, you know. if you've solidly defined your audience as "14-year-old boys who are dumb," maybe making stuff that appeals to other people seems like a risky business move. i can understand that! personally, i am designing a game right now where you take away the computers of the Buttocks guys and hit them over the head with their own laptops repeatedly. i think it will be a hit!

AMANDA: will there be blood?

SADY: there will be panicked calls to their moms to come down into the basement and save them. i think that's its own reward.

*Oh, yeah. And there was a font explosion. Because I am still publishing on BloggARRRRRRRRRRRRRRGHHHH.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Let's Party Like It's 1999! By NOT REPORTING RAPE CHARGES!

Ha, well, I was feeling pretty self-conscious about that Isaac Brock post! It was rough. Then, I clicked on the links in Smadin's comment! Specifically, a link to a post by Jaclyn Friedman on the Yes Means Yes! Blog.

So, apparently, Ben Roethlisberger, a football player, has been accused of rape. When the woman who accused him reported this to her boss, he apparently told her that "most girls would feel lucky to get to have sex with someone like Ben Roethlisberger." (See also, this statement about the Isaac Brock incident, by Pete Ritchey of Up Records: "It's not like he had to make somebody have sex with him. He could have sex with anybody he wanted. [The Stranger] were like sharks going after him." ) And then, there's this:
And now, as these details emerge, ESPN has instructed its entire team of reporters to not report any of this information. [Update: ESPN may be easing its ban, but it's still unclear how much and what will be reported.] Yes, the same network whose sideline reporter is currently being exploited all over the ‘net in a peeping tom video. You’d think that would make them more sympathetic to the sexual exploitation of women just trying to do their job, but they’re too focused on protecting access to the star athletes who are their cash cows to even do their basic job as journalists. That’s rape culture. When our media won’t talk about rape, people think it doesn’t happen, and the rapists face no consequences.
YEP! The Brock post stands.

*FOR THOSE WHO REQUIRE AN EXPLANATION: The Don't Give Isaac Brock Money game has to do, not solely with the fact that he was accused of rape, but with his complicity in creating rape culture in his statements after the fact, or lack thereof, especially his statements about how he USED to be an anti-rape activist, but now he knows that WOMEN LIE, and he has been HOUNDED and BETRAYED and THE POLICE KNEW SHE WAS MAKING IT UP and maybe it's unclear how exactly he's been ruined by this given that he is still a FAMOUS ROCK STAR, but whatever. The narrative we accept is that the accused is the victim and the accuser is the victimizer, and this is is how rape culture works, and Isaac Brock is participating. Give the dude your cash, if you feel like his vocals are awesome enough to serve as an excuse.

Perfect Disguise: Isaac Brock, Samantha Shapiro, and the Ethics of Journalism In Rape Culture

Okay, SO, you will probably not be getting a Rosemary's Baby review today. This is because I am having trouble getting my hands on the film Rosemary's Baby! The reason for this is pretty simple: Roman Polanski, the director of Rosemary's Baby, raped somebody. And I have a little game that I like to play, called Don't Give Money To The Rapist.

While it is totally inadvisable to "revenge" rape with a gun, a la Ms. 45, and impossible to revenge rape with vagina teeth, a la Teeth, I have come to the conclusion that it is totally acceptable to shoot rapists in the face with the metaphorical gun of purchasing power!

Basically, most rapists have jobs. Sometimes they're really good at their jobs! But if, for example, a rapist is someone who makes movies which you want to see, you have to balance what you don't know with what you know. Here's a little breakdown, as far as this relates to noted rapist Roman Polanski, and the film Rosemary's Baby:
WHAT YOU DON'T KNOW: Whether or not you are going to enjoy Rosemary's Baby, a film made by noted rapist Roman Polanski. It could go either way!

WHAT YOU KNOW: Roman Polanski raped someone.
Now, ask yourself: is it worth contributing, in any way, to the well-being of a rapist? Probably not! But you might enjoy the movie! So I recommend seeing the movie and not paying for it. There are several means of doing this, some of which relate to downloading them, which is TOTALLY ILLEGAL, and the official position of Tiger Beatdown is that you should NOT DO ILLEGAL THINGS. Oh, hey, here is another illegal thing: rape! An activity engaged in by Roman Polanski!

If you, too, would like to participate in my totally fun game, I will share with you another version, which I am playing right now. It is called Don't Give Money To The ALLEGED! Rapist, and I am playing it with Modest Mouse singer Isaac Brock.

So, now, a little storytime for you: in 1999, Isaac Brock, then a resident of Seattle, took a 19-year-old girl home from a bar. A few weeks later, she went to the police and reported that he had raped her. YIKES! That seems pretty newsworthy to me! This was a feeling evidently shared by Samantha Shapiro of Seattle's alternative weekly, The Stranger. Samantha Shapiro, a reporter, used her reporting skills to report on the alleged crime that had been reported to the police. Then, after she wrote that story (on March 18th, 1999), and a follow-up on the same subject in which she reported that Isaac Brock had still not been charged (on June 24th, 1999), her articles started to appear more infrequently, and she disappeared entirely between the months of August, 1999 and September, 2000; she wrote two articles in the year 2000, and after that she no longer worked for The Stranger! YIKES, again!

Oh, and also: although letters to the editor on the original Modest Mouse story (all, again by magical coincidence, negative toward Shapiro) are easily Googlable, I have been unable to find either of her articles on the subject on The Stranger's website, and they do not appear in the list of articles credited to Samantha Shapiro on that site.

There are other mentions of the Isaac Brock rape charges do appear on the website! Such as an interview where someone rips into a novelist for writing what would appear to be a fictional account of the event. [EDIT: I originally got an attribution hugely wrong in this paragraph, which is hugely embarrassing. I've taken it out of the post for that reason, but since this is a post about accountability, I want to let you know that I made a mistake and recognized it as such. I'm being more careful with this post than usual, because it's about truth and what deserves to be heard, and am looking over the article to make sure that it only contains things that I can verify for you with links, or else my personal opinion on the matter, and nothing in-between.]

So, did Isaac Brock rape someone? I don't know! The woman later retracted her claim. I have this crazy theory, that when you report a rape to the police, and your ALLEGED! rapist is so well-connected and powerful within his community that he can levy substantial social pressure against you - when even reporting on the fact that a rape claim has been made draws reactions such as "a rape case shouldn't be brought to public attention," or "I have no opinion on the guilt or innocence of either party, but the money I get for [my Stranger article] is going to any future legal defense fund for Isaac" or "funny how [the ALLEGED! victim's] identity is protected when Isaac is the victim of the crime here" or "[it was] poor judgment [to make] a case against Brock using only the woman's side of the story," and when the reporter who interviews you is apparently penalized for doing so - you might just be so pressured as to retract your report whether or not it was true. So, I don't know whether Isaac Brock raped someone!

What I know is that this is how it happens. This is how rape culture is created. The social penalties for reporting a rape are so severe, and the odds for successfully making a case are so small, that we effectively encourage women to let rapists get away with it, and discourage them from holding rapists accountable. Rapes happen, and then they disappear, and the Isaac Brock story seems to be a remarkably clear example of exactly why and how that happens, whether or not he did it: the mechanisms of silencing talk about rape charges are kind of unmissable. So, I'm in the mood for holding folks accountable today! Because, you know, you can get rid of Samantha Shapiro, you can erase the articles from the record, you can take that girl's story out of the public eye to such an extent that people - people like myself, for example - may listen to Modest Mouse and enjoy them and consider themselves fans without ever hearing about it and may feel disgusted and betrayed when the topic eventually comes up in an off-hand aside in a drunk conversation with someone who was aware of the event at the time, but what you can't do is fire me from Tiger Beatdown.

The Internet changes everything, right? Here Comes Everybody, and they heard about that time a girl accused you of rape! So, you know, while I don't have many Legitimate Journalist credentials, I do have tens of thousands of hits per month. Also, unlike Samantha Shapiro's articles on the Isaac Brock rape charges, I am easily Googlable. [EDIT: You can find the article here, copied into what looks to be a mailing list archive; if you click on the link, it doesn't lead to the original article.] So, I am encouraging [EDIT, AGAIN: Though not requiring! It is a personal decision!] you, the readers of this non-legitimate publication in which I literally cannot be censored or fired, to play a game with me: the game of Don't Give Money To The ALLEGED! Rapist, which we will play with Modest Mouse albums, concert tickets, and other merchandise which profits Modest Mouse and Isaac Brock.

Oh, look, here is a new Modest Mouse EP! It is called "No One's First, And You're Next," and it will be out on August 4. Hey, let's Don't Give Money to it! Wheee!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Ms. 45: Scum Manifesto

So, apparently it is possible to make a decent rape-revenge movie. Or about half of one, anyway. 

You guys! I did not intend for this to be such a rape-scene-heavy feature! My plan was to cull the vast field of potential candidates down to a few movies that represented different lady-based fears. It went as follows: Ginger Snaps, fear of periods; Teeth, fear of the vagina; Ms. 45, fear of rape; Rosemary's Baby, fear of pregnancy. Such was the plan. But then Teeth had all the raping in it, and then it was time to watch Ms. 45, and then I was like, "geez, I really don't want to watch or think about or write on the topic of rape any more; thank God Rosemary's Baby is coming up next." 

Then I remembered that Rosemary's Baby also has a rape scene in it. Rosemary's Baby (Which She Is Going To Give Birth To Because She Has Been Raped By Satan) would be a more appropriate title for that picture! 

Yes, if there is one thing I have learned, over the course of my studies in lady horror, it is that people who make horror movies focused on female experience just love to spice things up with a rape scene or two. Which is problematic, given that women are far more likely to be sexually assaulted than they are to have werewolf sisters or vagina teeth or apartments that they lease from Satan. The rest of it is fun and games, but rape is real. And it's scary. 

What's strange is that that Ms. 45, the rape-revenge exploitation pick, and the one movie from this list that I fully expected not to like, turned out to have one of the best takes on sexual assault, and on the fear and trauma that results from rape, that I've seen yet. For a while, anyway. 

It is, however, an exploitation movie, and concerned with amping things up as much as possible. You can tell because it begins with its lead character, Thana, experiencing two - count them, two - separate stranger rapes over the course of an afternoon. The first happens when a man pulls her off the street, into an alley. She doesn't fight back, and she gets out alive. Then, while she's still reeling, she stumbles into her apartment. There's a strange man there. His intentions are not good. 

If rape scenes trigger you, you will be triggered by this movie. I was. It's not Irreversible - the scenes are relatively brief, and free of gory details - but it's still terrifying. (From a review on Evil Dread, which seems to encapsulate what your average rape-revenge fan wants, and gets, from films of this genre: "the actual rape scenes are not graphical at all, we don't get to see anything... take I Spit on Your Grave or Irreversible were [sic] the rape scenes are really drawn out... [it] adds more to the whole outcome. Unfortunately it's too 'nice and quick' here.").

I suppose if what you're looking for is extremely brutal, detailed rape simulations, Ms. 45 is not the movie for you. Yet these scenes are terrifying, because they happen like rape happens: out of nowhere, with no warning, changing everything forever. Also, Thana is mute; she can't scream. 

This is when the movie twists and barrels into full horror. During the second rape, Thana manages to grab a weapon (first a paperweight, then an iron) and kill her attacker. Going to the police never seems to occur to her; she just hides the body in her bathtub. It's this, the way her life quickly spins completely out of control in a sequence that plays like an extended bad dream - first you're raped, then you've killed someone, then you've got a dead rapist in your tub, then you're cutting up the dead rapist, then you've got a refrigerator full of dead rapist, then you're trying to dispose of the dead rapist parts, then you're killing people more or less in self-defense because they might find out about the dead rapist parts that you're trying to dispose of - that I really admire. It feels, weirdly, like having been raped: having a big, ugly, gory, unbelievable secret that you have to hide at all costs. Thana's muteness is a big, clunky symbol, but it works - the girl literally can't talk about it. 

A word, here, on how Ms. 45 played to male audiences at the time of its release: 
Predictably, when Thana is being raped at the beginning of Ms. 45, an unsympathetic soul cackled: "How does it feel, baby?" ...But something fascinating happens. Once these men identify with the rapist, the filmmakers have Thana conk him on the head with an iron and kill him. Then she chops him up into little slabs and stores his parts in the refrigerator. Unexpectedly, the men who had whooped all through Amin and the obscenely gory previews of Dr. Butcher(1982), whimpered worrisomely "Oh, my God" and slumped in their seats and shut up. 
Personally, I was with Thana throughout. This is pretty easy, given that the filmmakers actually spend some time on her trauma, and that Zoe Lund conveys it beautifully. She has panic attacks at work; she can't take her clothes off to shower because she flashes back to the attack (there's a shot in this scene that I believe was repeated almost verbatim in Teeth); she's falling apart, and every time a man comes on to her (they're all, it seems, coming on to her - including her creepy, patronizing boss) she's sick and terrified.  

So, eventually she just starts killing them. More and more of them. Indiscriminately. And this is where the movie gets goofy. 

Not all of the goofiness is bad! Some of it is funny! The scene in which Thana delivers sweet justice to one of those dudes who hits on you in the street and won't go away ("hey, I just want to talk to you!") is a delight, as is the scene where she finally figures out how to reconcile her rapist-disposal needs with the fact that her neighbor's dog is always hungry. Yet it's hard to reconcile the tone of these scenes with the unmitigated terror of the early parts of the movie. The violence transitions from being real and scary to over-the-top and campy. And the scene in which she tarts herself up to go on a killing spree in the Neighborhood of Racist Stereotypes - she nabs, in one night, a black pimp, some black gang members, and a wealthy "sheik" - is just, well... no. NO, is all I have to say to that scene. 

Thana becomes a monster. She's a serial killer; she's unhinged. It's that transition that bothered me most - how the movie goes from portraying her fear to fearing her. Yet, to deal with that, you have to deal with how very '70s this movie is. Even though it was released in 1981! There are Plato's Retreat references; there is the depiction of Manhattan as a wasteland of random violence; there is the freaking title of the movie, for God's sake. "Ms." was a title with very specific connotations, when Ms. 45 was being made. 

The movie, actually, seems to be about dealing with the implications of feminism. In one vastly offensive yet somehow moving scene, a man describes to Thana how his wife's case of the Feminine Mystique ("she was getting antsy, she wanted something to do - I said, 'No wife of mine's going to work'") led to job-having and, eventually, lesbianism. (Ain't that the way?) Thana seems to hesitate to kill him; he collaborates in the act. 

It's a scene that seems to sum up most of the movie: we're asked to feel for Thana, and also encouraged to fear Thana, because men (and this movie was made by, and for, men) just didn't know what to do about the whole "feminism" thing. (They still don't know, actually, but back then they talked about it.) Like, here are all these women, right? And they're angry. Too angry. Scary angry. But, then again: haven't they been put through a lot of shit, these women? What if they have a reason to be angry at you? What if you deserve it? 

Who, really, is the problem here? 

What are you afraid of? 

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


Outraged, I tell you! And do you want to know why?

Because people (specifically, the people who write the show Entourage, which - what?) are calling him misogynist! And it is TERRIBLE. Also, they seem to have noticed that he is a lot more regular-looking than basically any of the ladies who play his girlfriends in the movies? Behold Seth Rogen's OUTRAGE, via Vulture:
"Yeah, those guys are assholes. I actually ran into Matt … Kevin Dillon in a Starbucks. And he's like 'You know, I've got to kind of apologize because apparently the guy who created our show doesn't like you so much.' And I said 'Well, I have reason to believe because I think [showrunner] Doug Ellin is a moron from all I can understand so it makes sense he doesn't like me.' And I've kind of said some disparaging things about the show. Although in our defense, [producer] Mark Wahlberg called us misogynistic in an interview, so I think they kind of started that … It's on. Luckily I never have and never plan on watching Entourage."
Um, OK. I kind of doubt Mark Wahlberg "started" the practice of calling Apatow movies misogynist, actually! But, whatever. The point is that Seth Rogen is outraged - OUTRAGED - at the allegation that his movies are kind of sexist and the ladies in them are prettier than the dudes.

For my next trick, I'll call John McCain old and Republican. CONTROVERSY!

Teeth: The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart

Say, you know what you probably shouldn't put in your movie? COMIC RAPE SCENES!

"Oh, but Sady," you are saying, "I am a highly respected Artist of the Cinema! I like to Push the Envelope with my Cinematic Art! And the rape envelope is the one I wish to push more than any other! For example: rape scenes are always so serious. Why? Why not add some light comic touches to what would otherwise be a total downer of a rape?"

To you, I say: SETH ROGEN, STOP E-MAILING ME RIGHT THIS SECOND. Ha, no! What I actually say is that this is, quite literally, the stupidest idea that anyone has ever had. It is so stupid that it boggles the mind; so stupid that I cannot even begin to explain to you how and why it is stupid. It would take, basically, an entire seminar class on Why This Is Stupid, with several guest lecturers and many pages of required reading, for me to begin to unpack precisely why your urge to present rape as a fun, funny, non-serious thing is as stupid as it is. Even then, I might not be able to communicate it to you, because of how stupid you are. Right now, there is a kid somewhere in the Midwest trying to see if he can stick a fork into his toaster whilst jamming the other end of it up his nose, and this idea, stupid though it may be, is actually both more understandable and smarter than your idea, if your idea is to make a movie in which there is a comic rape scene.

So, it's really a shame that Teeth has several of those, because otherwise it would be a pretty decent film.

So, the plot, first. The movie opens with a scene of a very young toddler, Dawn, being bullied by her slightly older stepbrother. He asks to see her vagina, then he puts his finger into it. When he takes his finger out, it's bleeding. Cut to several years later: Dawn is now a high school student, and an abstinence counselor.

At this point, I was still fairly impressed. They drew a connection between a woman's choice not to have sex and a history of abuse that may make sex legitimately scary and problematic for her! Way to not make the easy joke, movie! Teeth is actually fairly good at showing us how Dawn feels, in a way that instinctively makes sense: why would she want to have sex, when boys are harassing her in school hallways about "popping her cherry," and her brother is always bringing over girls who end up crying about how they don't want to do it "that way?" ("That way," for the record, is anal.) Abstinence education, in real life, is awful - but for Dawn, as for a lot of girls, it feels safer than the alternative.

Then, of course, she goes on a date with a fellow abstinence counselor and he rapes her. And she accidentally severs his penis, mid-rape, with the fangs that are apparently hidden in her vagina. And the movie starts to go downhill really, really fast.

Because, after a fairly realistic interlude in which she goes into post-traumatic shock (which then veers off into an interlude that is, I guess, sort of realistic, but also terrible, in that she expels herself from the abstinence movement because she is no longer "pure" - geez, yeah, the fact that YOUR RAPIST died in AN ACCIDENT which fortuitously prohibited him from RAPING YOU SOME MORE is totally your fault) we learn that Dawn, unlike basically every rape survivor anywhere in the history of the world, doesn't have to spend a long time dealing with PTSD or trust issues or an entirely understandable aversion to sex or anything like that.

Nope, now that she's been raped, she's totally into sex! All she needs is a new boyfriend, who can show her that sex is awesome! By, um, giving her tranquilizers first?

Oh, but first she has to be sexually assaulted some more. By her gynecologist, so that she can take his hand off. In a scene that is played for laughs.

Oh, and did I mention that the stepbrother who molested her continues to make gross, scary, predatory sexual advances toward her for the rest of the movie? And that she eventually decides to sleep with and/or castrate him as a means of getting "revenge?" And that the "revenge" is ALSO played for laughs?


And yet, certain moments within the film are really good! There are some hilarious scenes, it has a wonderful lead actress (Jess Weixler - she's quite convincing, given the fact that almost none of her character's actions or decisions make any sense whatsoever), and at certain moments it even seems to be making some decent points. There are the makings of a solid horror comedy in Teeth. It's hard to tell where it went wrong. If I had to guess, though, I'd say it was all the raping.

Personally, I blame Camille Paglia! Of course, I blame Camille Paglia for everything, but this time I have some grounds: the movie was apparently inspired by her lectures on the vagina dentata. (A scene in which Dawn reads aloud from an unmistakably Paglian speech on the subject - "the man must battle the woman, the toothed creature, and break her power... sex becomes a hero's epic journey back to the dark cavern of the womb" - while steadily getting more and more freaked out is particularly good; I think we've all felt that way, when reading Paglia's overblown prose poems about genitalia.) But Teeth shares two of Paglia's fatal flaws: first, a radical misunderstanding of what does and does not constitute female "power," and second, an insistence on casting men - sometimes really awful, criminal men! - as victims.

First things first: basically, Dawn's amazing "power" doesn't work - CAN'T work - unless some rapist has actually succeeded in raping her. So, there have to be a lot of rape scenes in the movie, just to show how it works. We're told that her vagina represents the next stage in vagina evolution - the tables have turned, the prey has become the predator, something something Paglia something - but I can't help but notice that this adaptive development doesn't prevent Dawn from being sexually assaulted more than once in the space a few days. Being able to stop a rape is nice, but not being raped would be much nicer. As a self-defense tactic, a vagina dentata ranks below a can of mace.

Let's go back to that first rape scene, the one with the boy from her abstinence group. It's pretty nasty - not only in execution, but in spirit. At one point, Dawn's rapist snaps that he "hasn't even jerked off since Easter." We're meant to infer that the rape is a direct consequence of the chastity: if girls won't put out, boys will have to take it from them by force.

Men, this movie seems to imply, are naturally rapists - almost every single male character in the movie attempts or commits some form of sexual assault. (It's trickier when we come to the case of her boyfriend, because the movie clearly doesn't want us to see their sex as anything other than consensual - still, he has sex with her under false pretenses, while she's sedated, which is predatory at the very least.) It's an old, old message: male sexual desire has to be gratified, by any means necessary, and it's a girl's job to protect herself from it. This is untrue - you can, as it turns out, pop a boner without immediately sticking it into the closest available orifice - but it's widely taught, and it's why rape is so often excused, overlooked, or swept under the rug. What else was the guy supposed to do? Not get off?

And the movie follows through by portraying Dawn's attackers as victims. The predatory, incestuous brother at one point confesses that he abuses Dawn because he's "in love" with her. One review called Teeth "the most alarming cautionary tale for men since Fatal Attraction;" it was reprinted on the movie's poster, and was featured in its trailer. Which is odd, since Teeth is only a "cautionary tale" if you need to be "cautioned" against putting your penis into somebody's vagina without her permission.

By the end of the movie, Dawn has come fully into her "power." What this means, in practice, is that she is now going to have consensual sex with men who would otherwise rape her, so that she can rip their dicks off. There are about a million legitimate ways to actually claim power - she could take a self-defense class, she could work at a rape crisis hotline, she could EVEN, unbelievably, teach a class for young men on how to recognize predatory behavior in themselves and their friends, and how to oppose it - but this is the route she chooses, the route the movie wants us to believe is her best option. She'll fight sexual violence with sexual violence. Because this particular vision of sexual politics is a closed system: prey or predator, victim or victimizer. There's no third option. There's no way out.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Tiger Beatdown Sells Out (Again!): Technical Difficulties Edition

Well, hello there! It appears that it is time to address a few things about this site!

First, you may have noticed some unlovely glitches happening around the old Tiger Beatdown: fonts being formatted in a weird and distracting manner, comments being eaten, etc. This is happening for a reason. The reason is that Blogspot - how to put this delicately? - can suck it. Over the next few weeks, I will be looking to move Tiger Beatdown over to a different and better platform, possibly Wordpress or something. Furthermore, I will be trying to make the site in general less ugly than it has been. Because it has been pretty ugly! Which was OK, when nobody read it! But you, the reader, deserve a less hideous and eye-scarring internet experience.

I also aim to switch a new comment system, so that your comments don't get eaten, and also you don't have to wait forever for them to be moderated, because I love your comments, and want them to be free.

And here is the final change that I am looking to make: NOT BEING BROKE. I will be running ads, probably, on the site! I am looking into the best ad-related options, for that reason. Hopefully they will be ads so tasteful and compelling that you cannot help but click on them multiple times, each time exclaiming, "my! I certainly wish to align my personal brand with the companies that advertise here at Tiger Beatdown!"

Why am I telling all of you about this? Simple: I get the sense that a lot of you know how computers work! Far better than I do! So, if any of you have any tips as to how I can make the magic typing box do my will, please e-mail them to

Oh, and thanks for being patient during the font-exploding, comment-eating, Blogspot-suck-imbued period. I appreciate it more than you can know.

Ginger Snaps: Women Who Run With The Wolves*

"Something's wrong with you. I mean, more than you being just female."

So: when I was young, maybe fourteen or fifteen years old, my favorite thing to do was to get my lady friends together for an overnight party and watch three or four horror movies in a row.

I could never watch horror movies alone - it was too boring - but I loved watching them with other girls. We'd scream at all the same moments; we'd talk about which scenes were the most fucked-up; we'd try to outdo each other with the movies that we chose. There was something about the act of watching and enjoying the movies that felt transgressive. Even though horror movies have always been aimed at teenagers, we felt that we were seeing something forbidden, something that offered us a knowledge of the world that we weren't supposed to have.

Then I grew up, and actually experienced some of the world. After that, I didn't watch horror movies any more.

I am telling you this for a reason, as it turns out! I am telling you this because it is, I have learned, impossible for me to be totally objective about Ginger Snaps. It is made, I think, specifically for women who used to be awkward teenage horror fans, and have ingested a substantial amount of feminist theory since then. When something caters so specifically to your experiences and your concerns, it is hard to tell whether it is any good. Then again, I realize, dudes must feel this way all the time!

So: a bit about the movie. It is about two sisters, Brigitte and Ginger. When we meet them, they are in that awful teenage sex-and-death place - a place it was probably particularly easy to access in the '90s, but which has been around as long as there have been teenagers ("Leader of the Pack") and will be around as long as there are teenagers in the world (um, BrokeNCYDE? For some reason). Ginger likes to play with knives and stage gory fake suicides for art projects; Brigitte, who is younger, goes along with it. Ginger plans to commit suicide (it's "the ultimate fuck you," she says) by the age of sixteen if she hasn't managed to escape the suburbs; Brigitte goes along with that, too. They wear mall-Goth clothes and enjoy thinking up elaborate, violent death scenes for popular girls. You know the drill.

Brigitte and Ginger, like lots of teens, are into death because they think that makes them special. It seems like a way of being above-it-all, naughty, sophisticated, knowing. People are scared of it, so they pretend not to be; people don't talk about it, so they do. It's a mode of behavior particularly favored by those who haven't fucked yet: all that fascination and fear of the body and its messy potentialities can be channeled into something that conveniently allows you to avoid thinking or even talking about sex.

Brigitte and Ginger are fifteen and sixteen, and neither one has ever had a period.

Ginger gets it first. ("You kill yourself to be different, and your own body betrays you.") She gets it, unfortunately, on the very same night that she is attacked by a werewolf. Brigitte manages to beat the thing off of her, so she lives; however, when she gets home, both she and Brigitte are forced to confront some unpleasant facts about Ginger's Changing Body.

One of the major strengths of the film - which a lot of people have commented on - is how it manages to portray incipient werewolf status as, more or less, identical to puberty. Ginger's razors are filled with an ungodly amount of hair; she's withdrawn and moody; she can lapse into unhinged, frightening rage at any time and for no reason, and she seems particularly testy about people who impinge on her bathroom time. Brigitte and Ginger seem just as freaked out about the fact that Ginger is bleeding out of her crotch as they do about the fact that she's slowly becoming a serial killer; a scene in which they discover that tufts of hair are growing out of the claw marks on Ginger's chest is interrupted when Brigitte notices that she's dripping onto the floor.

Yet it's easy, most of this - maybe too easy: a scene in which they visit the nurse to ask whether "hair that wasn't there before" is normal is particularly broad, and not very smart. These girls must have had to sit through a sex ed class, or at least a talk from their mother. And it quickly moves into very problematic territory, when we learn that becoming a werewolf also means wanting to have sex.

Yes, Ginger starts making out with boys: publicly, and enthusiastically, and ferociously. She also starts dressing in a way that makes boys want to make out with her (although she still looks unappetizingly mall-goth, if you ask me; the layered necklaces are a particularly icky touch). This is when we learn that Ginger is evil. This is when Brigitte becomes the movie's hero.

When I say that I don't like Brigitte as the focus of the movie, this doesn't mean that I don't like Brigitte. She's one of the better female leads I've ever seen - and also one the least conventional. Most "ugly," "awkward" girls in movies are neither ugly nor awkward: Brigitte has a wonky nose, and doesn't pluck her eyebrows, and her hair is always in her face, and she has trouble making eye contact, making her one of the more realistic girl geeks in memory, even though she hugely overplays the geekiness in the early scenes. You also get the sense that, although she is always - and willingly - overshadowed by Ginger, she'll make a better grown-up than Ginger could. She's smart, and practical, and she has a strength of will - a coping ability - that Ginger lacks.

Girls like Ginger flame out early: they want the world to change for them, and when it doesn't they're sometimes destroyed. They give up, whether "giving up" means doing too many drugs or joining a sorority. Girls like Brigitte change to fit the world, because they have to, because everyone has to, but they manage to keep themselves more or less intact. Watching Brigitte come out of her shell, and out of Ginger's shadow, is one of the most moving parts of the film.

Still, Brigitte, although wonderful in many ways, is more or less defined by her fear of being a woman: her fear of femininity, of sex, of just plain growing up. She keeps herself wrapped up in bulky clothes, pushes away a guy who is clearly interested in her, and always, always, always talks about sex or puberty or other, girlier girls with queasy, angry distaste. At a certain point, you realize that she lets her hair cover her face, not because she doesn't know better, but because it's a statement - a way of telling the world that she's not going to let it in. And while I'm totally thrilled that there's a movie out there which doesn't oversimplify this kind of girl or turn her into a punchline or give her a miraculous makeover that leads to true love, I feel that the movie elevates Brigitte at Ginger's expense. And Ginger deserves your affection.

Because Ginger is rage, pure rage, a kind of rage you rarely see in the movies: the rage of being female. Here is this thing that's happening to her body, this process she has no control over; here is this hunger of hers that nobody understands, and that makes people hate her, even though boys are lining up to feed it. There's a scene in a car, where she's making out with a boy, and he gets overwhelmed and tries to slow her down. "Who's the guy here?" he says. She cocks her head back, snarls the line back at him ("who's the fucking guy here?") and, basically, mauls him. The movie slips up in its characterization of Ginger, and eventually just makes her into a standard-issue Crazy Slut, but here's the thing: Crazy Sluts don't normally get scenes like this. It's a good scene. I wish there were more like them in this movie.

I'm talking mostly about characters, because it's mostly a movie about characters. For a horror movie, it's not very scary: it gets a little bloodier and faster in the final act, but even then it's not exactly visceral. It's also, unfortunately, not very good at handling characters who aren't Ginger and Brigitte. Her parents are cartoons; the other kids at school are high-school-movie cliches. (The Popular Girl is very mean! The Jock is very gross and sexist! The Rebel is unexpectedly sensitive; also, sexy!) This is exacerbated by the fact that, although Emily Perkins and Katharine Isabelle are pretty good actors (Isabelle, as Ginger, has some terrific comic timing), nobody else in the movie can act in the slightest, including the film's only recognizable actor, Mimi Rogers. (Yeah, I said it. And what, Mimi Rogers? I ask you: and what?) One boy werewolf, who shows up in the middle of the movie, is notable mostly because the actor made the, um, distinctive choice to portray him as a sort of coked-up, sleazy Mark-Paul Gosselaar.

And yet, and yet: even though Ginger Snaps is too willfully "indie" and quirked-up to be a real horror movie, and too trashy and steeped in horror conventions to be a real indie movie, it may be worth it, just for the relationship between the girls.

Relationships between teenage girls (and teenage girls' relationships with themselves) are hard to pin down or portray accurately and honestly, because they are - how to phrase this tastefully? - totally fucking insane. Those girls I watched horror movies with: I was closer to them than I ever have been, or probably ever will be, with any other friends. I was closer to them than I have been to most of my boyfriends. There's a weird, overwhelming, mind-meld effect that takes place sometimes between girls: you live in each other and through each other, always trying to figure out how you are the same and how you are different, and loving both the differences and the sameness. Then comes sex, and The Patriarchy, to fuck everything up. Suddenly, you're in competition with each other. If another girl is prettier than you, skinnier than you, more popular with boys, then she's worth more. Everyone says so. And how can you love someone when you have to hope she doesn't succeed - when her success makes you worth less?

But you love each other! But you hate each other! But you love each other! So you go ahead, doing both. The scenes of Brigitte and Ginger fighting - Ginger's a monster! No, Brigitte's just jealous! - are the best in the movie, primarily because we've seen how close they used to be, and we want them to be that close again. For that reason, it's disappointing when the movie succumbs to horror conventions and makes Brigitte into Ginger's nemesis. One of their final moments of bonding is also one of the goriest moments: the scene in which Ginger tests Brigitte by inviting her to drink a boy's blood. What she's asking for is solidarity - something all of the women in the movie, at one point or another, say they want - and a world where the girls can be together, and the same, and boys will only be relevant insofar as the girls need them for one reason or another.

Brigitte can't do it. No-one can blame her. Entering a werewolf separatist commune is not exactly a healthy lifestyle choice. But there's a showdown. And it's not scary so much as it is terribly sad.

I've been running the movie's final scene through my head for a few days now - trying to figure out if it's right, or fair, or if it matches up with what the movie seems to want to say. The more I think about it, the better I think it is. Ginger gets her wish: she gets to be different. She gets to tear the town apart and leave it behind. Brigitte, on the other hand, will have to grow up.

* I had to do it! I HAD TO. It was A COMPULSION.