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Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Talking to Mallory Ortberg About Alt Lit's Gender Problem and Unhelpful Attitudes Towards Sexual Assault

Posted by Megan Burbank on Wed, Dec 3, 2014 at 10:14 AM

TextsFromJaneEyre.jpg

Mallory Ortberg mostly makes jokes. She's made a career out this. She co-edits The Toast, a site geared towards (mostly) women with a very particular sense of humor, and just came out with a new book, Texts from Jane Eyre, which you can read more about in our paper that comes out today.

But when I interviewed her last week, we talked about some serious things, too—namely, allegations of sexual assault within the alt lit community that came out in October. I ended up having to cut that discussion from the interview you'll see in print for a couple reasons: Ortberg had a lot to say, and I wanted to give that conversation its own space. I also wanted to link to the essay Ortberg wrote around the time those allegations came out.

The allegations—against Tao Lin and Stephen Tully Dierks—are only the most recent examples of alleged gender-based violence within the alt lit community, or, for that matter, of publishing's much larger, systemic problem with women, which runs the stunning, awful gamut from the limiting way books by women are marketed to the incredibly lopsided byline gender breakdown to these allegations. Admittedly, the alt lit scene is small and insular and Brooklyn/web-based, so why should we care in Portland? Well, earlier this year, similar allegations against the author Gregory Sherl came out, prompting our own Future Tense books to pull one of his books, which they'd previously published, from their catalog. Publisher Kevin Sampsell wrote in a February 4 Facebook post, "In light of recent of recent allegations of abuse, we've decided to remove Gregory Sherl's book, Monogamy Songs, from our catalog. We hope that all people involved can heal and find peace."

This is an ongoing problem, and anyone who cares about independent publishing should be paying attention.

In the case of Lin and Dierks, people did: there was widespread outrage on social media, and, in some cases, backlash against the alleged victims. Among these was a piece by the writer Elizabeth Ellen (who, for the record, also has a book out with Future Tense, but is perhaps best known as an editor at Hobart), which in essence read as an attempt to nullify another woman's claim of sexual assault. Mallory Ortberg usually tells jokes, but she felt like she had to respond to this essay, because, she says, "It was being presented as, 'Well, this has some painful, thoughtful truths that we really need to talk about.' And I thought that was a mistaken way of looking at things... these were very old, pernicious ideas about sexual assault and about redemption and about making amends sort of dressed up as a new idea."

Continue reading »

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Win Tickets to See Some of Portland's Funniest Ladies

Posted by Megan Burbank on Thu, Oct 30, 2014 at 2:28 PM

Susan Rice: A most hilarious person, with the cutest pair o Keens in town.
  • Pat Moran
  • Susan Rice: A most hilarious person, with the most adorable pair of Keens.

Did you miss All Jane No Dick, and now find yourself wracked with regret? Did you go, and see Susan Rice, Amy Miller, and Joann Schinderle tell jokes that made laughter-tears stream down your cheeks? Well, we're giving away two tickets to their appearance at Siren Nation's Hell Hath No Funny! Women's Comedy Showcase this Saturday, where they'll be joined by Kirsten Kuppendbender, and probably a whole lot of people who can't contain their laughter. Should you like to be one of them, put yer name in the hat!

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Monday, October 20, 2014

All Jane No Dick Closing Showcase: The Loopiest Sets They've Ever Done

Posted by Megan Burbank on Mon, Oct 20, 2014 at 3:14 PM

IT COULD HAPPEN TO YOU: Aparna Nancherla shares the saddest ever Okcupid message.
  • Pat Moran
  • IT COULD HAPPEN TO YOU: Aparna Nancherla shares the saddest ever Okcupid message.

By the end of a festival like All Jane No Dick, many of the stand-ups have already performed their laughter-proven material, making the final performance a weird playground for trying out new bits on a captive audience, or, as Phoebe Robinson put it, "This is the loopiest set I've ever done."

Thank goodness for that. Last night's final showcase at Curious Comedy delivered some of the funniest jokes I've seen all week. Everything Aparna Nancherla said was brilliant and funny and a little dark—her set covered existential despair as embodied by Okcupid messages, snack sandwiches (eating a snack, a sandwich, and another snack) consumed while "working from home," and Christopher Columbus ("You have to hand it to the guy, because he probably would've taken it anyway and then murdered you").

Longtime Portland comedian (and the oldest stand-up at All Jane No Dick, with the cutest pair o' Keens) Susan Rice told tales of working the casino comedy circuit, and the geriatric men who want to take her out to dinner after the show, but first need to know "if [she] can drive at night."

I didn't find Phoebe Robinson's set earlier this week to be as funny as some of her older material (she was on Broad City, you guys—that sets the bar pretty high), but her set last night was punched up with goofy, accurate riffing on smug liberals who think that racism is over, and how to survive a bear attack when you're out camping (and don't want to be!).

In our preview for All Jane No Dick, Courtney Ferguson called Sara Schaefer "friend material." And she did not lead us astray! I really want to be friends with Sara Schaefer, just so I can hear her recount the most embarrassing tales from middle school, like a funny, self-aware adult Angela Chase, in a way that makes you laugh uncontrollably, instead of, you know, bursting into tears.

Oh, fuck it. All of these ladies are friend material, and they're just a handful of comics in what was a lineup thrilling enough to launch a one-man protest. I can't wait for next year. In the meantime, Pat Moran took many photos of the closing showcase and Instant Comedy, the festival's improv closer, and you can see them all here.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Saturday at All Jane No Dick: Queer Zone and The Worst Books You'll Ever Read

Posted by Megan Burbank on Sun, Oct 19, 2014 at 11:44 AM

THE ACTUAL FUNNIEST DeAnne Smith.

There's only one day of All Jane No Dick left! How did that happen? For the past couple days, I've been ugly-laughing like a boss at jokes told by women and non-binary comedians. Yesterday's Queer Zone showcase of LGBTQ performers at Alberta Street brought up my laughter quotient, hard. Here were the highlights:

Portland's Andie Main shared her experience of performing for three ungrateful bros in Gresham, and held it down for those of us who list "Downton Abbey and wine" among our favorite hobbies.

I saw DeAnne Smith, the last performer of the night, at Thursday's show too, where she was on her game, but last night she managed to totally kill it using almost no prepared material, which, in a festival that has so many repeat performers, is especially funny and welcome. Her set was full of hilarious, endearing crowd-work and covered everything—the syncing-up of menstrual cycles, the proper way to spell woman (with many Y's and I's), taxidermy stores, and what's wrong with Portland (we're very sincere and just want to be helpful). I've never seen a room so full of people being made fun of and enjoying it so, so much.

Seattle's Elicia Sanchez made some fresh jokes about Bible ownership—"It's America. If you don't have a Bible already, it means you don't want one"—and confessed to ordering a Bible from the Mormons on TV, only to be stalked by calls from the Church of Latter-Day Saints for years to come.

Rye Silverman, Mo Welch, Candy Lawrence, Caitlin Weierhauser, and Caroline Bassett also delivered solid sets covering dumb cat-calls, lesbians who hate cats and astrology, and Portland's underemployment problem and no. 1 hobby (doing kind favors for strangers).

An All Jane No Dick episode of the reading aloud from terrible books series "Say Wha?!" followed the Queer Zone, with Beth Stelling, Brandie Posey, and Courtenay Hameister's dramatic readings from Christian propaganda about the dangers of socialism, divorce, and enjoying food. Also did you know that Alice Munro sat on the jury that gave Canada's Governor General's book award to a novel about bestiality? I didn't, but now I do thanks to All Jane No Dick. Yay, I guess?

If you seriously didn't get off the couch over the past several days, or if you are protesting the fact that Lena Dunham's book event today is sold out, All Jane continues tonight. Your Sunday night can be a typical weekly existential crisis, or it can be spent laughing at strangers saying funny things. Your pick.

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Saturday, October 18, 2014

All Jane No Dick, Day 2: All Beth Stelling's Friends, Recaps From Brunch Enthusiasts

Posted by Megan Burbank on Sat, Oct 18, 2014 at 2:45 PM

All Jane continued last night with Beth Stelling and Friends at Curious Comedy Theater, which brought together sets from Aparna Nancherla, Rye Silverman, Subhah Agarwal, Emily Maya Mills, Kelsie Huff, and Maggie May, with Mercury pal Bri Pruett MCing. Pat Moran captured these photos at the early show:

Beth Stelling

Maggie May

There are a whole bunch more after the jump:

Continue reading »

Friday, October 17, 2014

BRB, Laughing Forever: All Jane No Dick, Day 1

Posted by Megan Burbank on Fri, Oct 17, 2014 at 3:49 PM

All Jane No Dick launched Wednesday, with a lineup of local all-stars at Helium and no evidence of MRA protesting. That show—which featured Kristine Levine and Kyle Mizono—was excellent, and the festival continued yesterday with more opportunities for your face to be pleasantly contorted by laughter. Yesterday night's Phoebe Robinson, Kate Berlant, and Friends at Curious Comedy brought together a solid lineup featuring Elicia Sanchez, DeAnne Smith, Kristine Levine, Mo Welch, and Kyle Mizono alongside the headliners.

MORTAL KOMBAT! Kyle Mizuno

DeAnne Smith, who is Canadian, discussed feeling alienated by Portland's hipsters, with their hipster mystery tunes playing in hipster coffee shops and bands with "an actual wolf!" for a drummer. Seattle's Elicia Sanchez provided some much-needed realtalk about the myth that women sad-eat cake while crying, because, of course, it's hard to be sad when you're eating cake, and Kyle Mizono, master of absurd physical comedy, affably lost her shit over the Mortal Kombat soundtrack and clowning workshops.

KATE BERLANT Puttin on airs.

Kate Berlant's set was one of the funniest of the night. Berlant is an expert at putting on airs, delivering pretentious, pseudo-academic lines about intentionality, gestalt, and [insert yawn-inducing buzzword here] with a cross-eyed self-seriousness that would not be out of place at art school office hours, except that it's okay to laugh. And did we ever!

A very special All Jane installment of Picture This!—the monthly backwards-Pictionary comedy show hosted by Andie Main—followed at Albert Street Pub. There is nothing not fun about watching an artist scrawl spontaneous illustrations while a comedian tells hilarious jokes, but it's extra fun when the comedian is Sara Schaefer, who recounted accidental public urination (FIGURE OUT HOW LONG YOUR COMMUTE ACTUALLY TAKES, EVERYONE) and the tyranny of "baby-hairs," those tiny, two-inch strands of hair that take up residence around many a lady forehead, never to grow any longer, thus evading ponytails. This is Schaefer's solution:

NEVER AGAIN shall we be subject to the tyranny of baby-hairs, thanks to Sara Schaefer!
  • Pat Moran
  • NEVER AGAIN shall we be subject to the tyranny of baby-hairs, thanks to Sara Schaefer!

A T-shirt on yer head! She is brilliant. I can't wait to get even more life tips from these wisecracking ladies. You still have all weekend to see them in action! Do I have to remind you that our picks for All Jane are over here? Well, our picks for All Jane are over there! Go see 'em. Your laughter-contorted face will thank you.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

In Other Words Update: They Need $20k by November to Stay Open

Posted by Megan Burbank on Thu, Oct 16, 2014 at 1:59 PM

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Last week, beloved feminist bookstore In Other Words board member Madeline Jaross told the Oregonian that the nonprofit was struggling financially and might be closing at the end of February if the situation doesn't improve. This week, In Other Words sent out an email announcing an IndieGoGo campaign to make up the funds they'd need to stay open. The choice to use Indiegogo seems smart, since the bookstore will be able to keep all pledges regardless of whether they meet their not-insignificant goal—they need $20,000 by November 5. You can support it here.

From In Other Words' email:

The question we get most often is, "but don't you make zillions of dollars off of the TV show Portlandia?!" The short answer is: NOPE. Far from it. Unfortunately, the fact that the TV show Portlandia features a regular feminist bookstore parody does not provide us with any substantial revenue flow and Portlandia-related donations are far from enough to pay our bills. We aren't rolling in money from Portlandia, but we do have a great time meeting local celebrities Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein, and enjoy chatting with them about feminism and community organizing in between shoots.

Hey, this is where I remind you that, yes, Women and Women First chuckles aside (JUST FOR NOW, YOU GUYS), feminist bookstores serve an important purpose in a literary climate that has some well-documented gender problems, and there are only 13 of them left.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Ian Karmel Releases Video in Support of All Jane No Dick

Posted by Megan Burbank on Wed, Oct 15, 2014 at 3:14 PM

The All Jane No Dick controversy continues! Ian Karmel just released this video in support of All Jane, following the news last week that the very popular, all-female comedy festival (which starts TONIGHT!) is getting protested. If you are an MRA, you are about to get stared at disapprovingly:

Also, #yesalljane is a thing on Twitter:




You can find our guide to All Jane No Dick (today through Sunday!) here.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Someone is Putting Up Posters Protesting This Year's All Jane No Dick Comedy Festival

Posted by Megan Burbank on Fri, Oct 10, 2014 at 3:30 PM

Everyone I know right now is counting down the days to All Jane No Dick, our wondrous celebration of women in comedy, so at least three people have emailed me today about this poster:

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  • Stacey Hallal/All Jane No Dick

It's a doctored version of All Jane's promotional poster, the original text replaced with what looks like an MRA-inspired misreading of the event. I say MRA-inspired, because I mean, "feminazi"? Really? Are we in sixth grade? I hoped it was a joke.

So I called up Stacey Hallal, creator and artistic director of All Jane No Dick, to look into it. Hallal told me that the All Jane team first caught wind of the posters when a Google alert popped up yesterday linking to a Craigslist post (copied below) organizing a protest of All Jane No Dick:

——Join me in protest of "All Jane No Dick" festival.—-

I will be following the events of the All Jane No Dick festival quietly protesting it's sexist connotations. The outright segregation of any person's due to their sex alone is prejudice. It's simple, it feeds a sense of angst towards men just for being men.

I plan to stand outside the event as close as I legally can holding a sign. This wont be a verbal protest. Meaning, I wont be shouting any slogans, chants, or making comments to attendants. I would prefer that if any joins me, they don't engage in shouting etc as well. I will however answer questions that people have if they wish to approach me.

You, being male or female are welcome to join me.

If you have a video camera, that would be hugely helpful to insure the protection of our rights. Or even just to video tape the protest. Journalist are welcome to come as well.

The statement is simple. Sexism is wrong. Period.

Thank you and hope to see you then. Please contact me for details. Thanks.

Matt

Hallal said that her first instinct after just seeing the Craiglist post was to let it go. But then she noticed that All Jane posters had begun disappearing and were replaced with the distorted protest posters. Organizing a peaceful protest is one thing, but actively working to undermine All Jane's publicity is quite another.

"This person has been ripping our posters down," Hallal said. "And that's actually active damage to us. I wanna laugh it off as much as I can. But the fact that he's destroying our marketing materials—it's not harmless and it's not funny."

Putting on any large-scale arts event—and especially one that focuses on spotlighting people who are already marginalized within a given industry—takes a huge amount of time, effort, and funding. Artists need to be paid. Tickets need to be sold. "And being under attack is a threat to all of those things," said Hallal. She told me that the All Jane team hasn't found out exactly who is behind the posters being torn down, but that one of her colleagues, who had been in contact with the person via text message, was able to conduct a search on his phone number, allegedly finding records of annoyance call complaints.

What's truly sad about all this is that All Jane No Dick is an inclusive comedy festival. To suggest that it is sexist or "man-bashing" simply because it highlights female and non-binary-identifying comedians makes no sense when you consider that only 17 to 19 percent of people working in the comedy industry are women. That's what real, systemic sexism looks like.

"It's sad to me that people continue to be threatened by the idea of women sharing their perspectives and experiences," said Hallal. "[The person who did this] is a man who's threatened by this event."

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Thursday, October 9, 2014

Here's What Would Have to Happen to Keep In Other Words Open

Posted by Megan Burbank on Thu, Oct 9, 2014 at 1:44 PM

Closing?
  • In Other Words
  • Closing?

On Sunday, Madeline Jaross, an In Other Words Board member, told the Oregonian that the nonprofit, volunteer-operated feminist bookstore and community center might close at the end of of February. She cited a lack of financial resources, low board retention, and a shortage of volunteers as contributing factors. She told the Oregonian that In Other Words gained name recognition as a Portlandia filming location, but that greater visibility did not translate to improved finances.

Yesterday, In Other Words reached out directly via email, corroborating press coverage and rumors that they were closing, and outlined exactly what would need to happen to keep their doors open. Here's the email:

Hello friends. Here is some news, the rumor you probably heard about In Other Words closing is partly true. We are facing some problems as an organization and we urgently need to fix them by November 8th .

No one among the volunteers, people that use the space to show their work, for rehearsals, organize meetings, or teach/take classes wants to see IOW close.

We need help. We are reaching to our community.

PLEASE SPREAD THE WORD TO ALL OF YOUR FRIENDS AND NETWORKS. Here is a summary:

o In order to stay open, In Other Words needs a substantial increase in financial gifts, particularly in monthly sustaining funds. Please visit our fundraising page http://inotherwords.org/support-us to make a financial gift today in the name of feminist community building. Please encourage your friends and networks to do the same.

In Other Words has an urgent need for more volunteer leadership. Please view the job descriptions at the bottom of our homepage www.inotherwords.org and email volunteer@inotherwords.org to express interest in volunteering, and plan to attend the volunteer orientation on October 18th at 3PM. Please encourage your friends and networks to do the same.

o In Other Words has an urgent immediate open seats on the Board of Directors. Job descriptions are attached, and also listed at the bottom of our home page www.inotherwords.org. Please emailhumanresources@inotherwords.org to apply to the board of directors, and plan to attend the next Board of Directors meetings on October 16th at 6:15PM.

The email also included job descriptions (.pdf) for nine positions In Other Words needs to fill.

Obviously, it's sad to see any bookstore close its doors for financial reasons, but it's also worth noting that In Other Words is one of only 13 remaining feminist bookstores in the country. Feminist bookstores might seem like a relic of '70s, but in a literary climate where gender parity in publishing is nowhere near where it needs to be, they serve a much-needed purpose.

The official decision to close or stay open won't be made until a general assembly meeting on November 8.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Working Mom Going To Prison For Getting Her Teen Daughter an Abortion

Posted by Dan Savage on Mon, Sep 8, 2014 at 9:47 AM

A little something to get your blood boiling on a Monday morning:

A Pennsylvania woman has been sentenced to up to 18 months in prison for obtaining so-called abortion pills online and providing them to her teenage daughter to end her pregnancy. Jennifer Ann Whalen, 39, of Washingtonville, a single mother who works as a nursing home aide, pleaded guilty in August to obtaining the miscarriage-inducing pills from an online site in Europe for her daughter, 16, who did not want to have the child. Whalen was sentenced on Friday by Montour County Court of Common Pleas Judge Gary Norton to serve 12 months to 18 months in prison for violating a state law that requires abortions to be performed by physicians.... Whalen told authorities there was no local clinic available to perform an abortion and her daughter did not have health insurance to cover a hospital abortion, the Press Enterprise newspaper of Bloomsburg reported.

The authorities learned about the abortion after Whalen wound up having to take her daughter to a hospital after all—the girl was suffering from severe side effects. But Whalen shouldn't be in jail. The politicians and anti-choice activists who've done all they can to make safe and legal abortions harder and harder obtain—by shutting down clinics, scaring women away from clinics, regulating clinics out of existence—are the ones who should be headed to jail, not this working mom.

Reuters notes that there was an abortion clinic 74 miles away, in Harrisburg, implying that a safe and legal abortion was a 90 minute drive away. Not true:

Restrictions on Abortion

In Pennsylvania, the following restrictions on abortion were in effect as of July 1, 2014:

• A woman must receive state-directed counseling that includes information designed to discourage her from having an abortion and then wait 24 hours before the procedure is provided.

Jennifer Whalen is a single mom who works full time as a nursing home aide; she most likely makes minimum wage or close to it. Whalen couldn't afford to take two days off work to drive back and forth to Harrisburg; she certainly couldn't afford a hotel room in Harrisburg. So she did the best she could for her daughter under a very difficult circumstances—and make no mistake: those circumstances are difficult by design. Anti-choice politicians have intentionally made safe and legal abortions harder and harder to obtain and then they turn around and condemn Whalen. And then there's this: Whalen doesn't have health insurance and she is paid poverty-level wages for the important work she does. Our economic system impoverishes a working people like Whalen and then persecutes them for the choices they make under duress.

If pro-choice activists created an online fundraiser for Jennifer Whalen and her daughter—to cover the costs of an appeal, to pay for her their living expenses while Whalen isn't working—I would donate. And I bet I'm not the only one who would.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Anita Sarkeesian Threatened with Rape and Murder for Daring to Keep Critiquing Video Games

Posted by Anna Minard on Thu, Aug 28, 2014 at 9:44 AM

Anita Sarkeesian, the woman behind a fantastic web series critiquing misogyny in video games, released another video this week. Funded as a Kickstarter project, Sarkeesian's "Tropes vs. Women in Video Games" series is an accessible but scholarly look at video games through a feminist lens, in which Sarkeesian breaks down a bunch of common female stereotypes in games and explains how to spot them and why they're harmful, with tons of examples (including examples of games that do better).

This week's video: "Women as Background Decoration, Part 2." You should really check it out:

Part One, if you haven't seen it, is right here. You can find all the videos in the series on her website.

You may recall that when she first launched her Kickstarter project, which was wildly successful—she raised almost $160,000 after an initial ask of just $6,000 and has expanded the series based on that funding—she faced an onslaught of threats of rape and other violence from video gamers, who were apparently incensed that anyone could be critical of the medium. (Someone even created a video game about beating her.) It seems like every time she releases a video, a wave of hateful commentary follows, often peppered with threats—that seems like the norm for her experience on the internet. But this Tuesday night, she tweeted that some "very scary threats" had been made against her and her family, threats scary enough that she said she'd contacted authorities. Then she updated that she was safe but staying with friends; apparently those threats were scary enough to drive her from her home.

Then yesterday, she posted this:

Continue reading »

Friday, August 22, 2014

Federal Judge in Alabama Cleverly Equates Abortion Rights to Gun Rights

Posted by Cienna Madrid on Fri, Aug 22, 2014 at 2:59 PM

Before an hour ago, I couldn't have named one good thing to come out of Alabama off the top of my head, except maybe Helen Keller. But good news! Now I have one more thing: Last week, Judge Myron H. Thompson, a federal judge in that state, ruled that a new law requiring abortion doctors to have hospital admitting privileges—a common conservative tactic used to shut down clinics across the country—is unconstitutional.

That's news in and of itself, but the parallel that Thompson draws in explaining his decision is especially striking. Via the LA Times:

Thompson also said he was struck by the parallels between gun rights and abortion rights, which former New York Times Supreme Court reporter Linda Greenhouse described as "a pairing no previous judicial opinion has made."

“[N]either right can be fully exercised without the assistance of someone else," the judge wrote. "The right to abortion cannot be exercised without a medical professional, and the right to keep and bear arms means little if there is no one from whom to acquire the handgun or ammunition.”

Imagine the outcry, he said, if Alabama regulated all but two gun stores out of existence.

Thompson meticulously demolished the state’s argument that such a law safeguards patient safety and functions as a way of ensuring medical competence among doctors. It does exactly the opposite, he said.
In order to have admitting privileges, he said, most hospitals require doctors to admit a certain number of patients per year. But complications from early abortions (the only kind performed in Alabama, where abortion after 20 weeks is illegal) are so “vanishingly rare,” as he put it, that such a quota could never be met.

If this is the tactic we need to take to successfully reinstate women's access to abortion in conservative states, slap my ass and call me a gun nut.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Mercenaries: Yay! They're Stealing Men's Jobs!

Posted by Wm.™ Steven Humphrey on Tue, Jul 22, 2014 at 10:44 AM

NOTE: The following trailer for the crazy action flick Mercenaries—another schlocky film from Asylum, the makers of Sharknado—does absolutely nothing to forward the movement of women's rights. That being said, it's really fun to see actresses stealing jobs from geriatric male stiffs like Arnold, Sly, and Bruce. From the Mercenaries press release:

A diplomatic official is captured and imprisoned while touring a war zone, so a team of elite female commandoes is assembled to infiltrate a women's prison for a daring rescue. Starring Zöe Bell, Kristanna Loken, Vivica A. Fox, Brigitte Nielsen, Nicole Bilderback, and Cynthia Rothrock.

That's all I need to hear, thank you very much, roll the goddamn tape.

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Thursday, July 10, 2014

Attack of the Bronies

Posted by Erik Henriksen on Thu, Jul 10, 2014 at 3:22 PM

A BRONY TALE We probably shouldve seen this coming.
  • A BRONY TALE We probably should've seen this coming.

Okay, to be fair: We probably should have seen this coming. But we didn't. In this week's Mercury, Elinor Jones reviewed A Brony Tale, a documentary about bronies. I recommend reading the whole review, but it's the last part of it that's earning the ire of bronies:

Sure, most of the bronies we meet in the film are sincere nerds who love being a part of something that promotes kindness and friendship, and part of me feels like a little bit of an asshole (and maybe Ashleigh is one, too) for having dismissed bronydom the second I heard of it.

HOWEVER—big however—if the purpose of A Brony Tale is to show us that bronies are somehow not weird, it doesn't work. The inherent ick factor is unavoidable, even though A Brony Tale touches on it only briefly—as one guy recounts how judged he feels by mothers of daughters when he hangs out in the little-girl aisle of the toy store. Like it's the mom's problem that he looks out of place. Dude. No. Get that you are a visitor in a space that is not meant for you, and don't be surprised if a mom doesn't want to let you talk to her daughter about tiny sparkled horses.

That seems totally fair to me—but I'll also be the first to admit I'm not particularly well-versed in brony culture. But as someone who likes a lot of things that most people think are for kids—comic books, Harry Potter, videogames—I can imagine that if you're a grown man who's passionately in love with My Little Pony, it probably gets a little tiring to always get made fun of.

And while I'm normally inclined to say, "Just let people like what they like, and remember that pretty much every person is into something that everybody else thinks is incredibly stupid," I can totally see why a mom wouldn't be comfortable with a grown man wanting to talk to her little girl about My Little Pony. The comments on Elinor's offer a range of brony perspectives; they are also making me think way more about bronies than I thought I would today. Or ever.

We have the furious criticisms, from "otaku4242":

you know, I created an account JUST so I could call you out on the huge amount of STUPIDITY you have. Seriously, what the FUCK is wrong with you, how dare you say such horrible things about us bronies.

you know, normally I would love and tolerate the shit out of you, but considered you had to post an ENTIRE ARTICLE, no, I give no forgiveness to sexist haters like you.
have you even SEEN brony statistics? do you know ANYTHING about us? HAVE YOU EVEN SEEN THE SHOW?

no, of course not, because you don't do your research, because you judge entire fanbase based on a few bad apples. guess what, EVERY FANDOM HAS BAD APPLES!

and if you are truly, TRULY man enough to reply to this upon reading it, I expect an apology, because NOONE likes people like you, NOPONY wants to go to equestriadaily and be reminded that there are IGNORANT SNOBS like you out there.

GOOD DAY SIR! (Via.)

And we have the calmer ones, from "adkscherch":

I liked this documentary, and I don't mind seeing a negative review of it. People have different opinions, and I respect that. That said, I'm disappointed at the statements used both by some of my fellow bronies in the comments as well as by the author in her final paragraph.

To the author: I don't have a problem with people still feeling off about bronies. It certainly looks odd from the outside, depending on your level of open-mindedness to the idea. One of my best friends still hates bronies, but when it comes to a review in a publication I see no reason for why you needed to use the phrasing you did. Your last few statements sound much more like a personal attack on the guy telling him to stay in his "proper place". There are other ways to express your distaste for the idea than trying to make a personal attack on one of the interviewees.

To some of the bronies here: I get it's frustrating to read some parts of this article, but shouting out your anger and throwing harsh words around doesn't help our case. We can express disagreement without yelling and being super angry about it. Let's not try to make our public image any worse. (Via.)

Anyway: Bronies! All you ever wanted to read about them is here.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Today's Most Terrible Person in the World

Posted by Wm.™ Steven Humphrey on Fri, May 30, 2014 at 9:59 AM

When divorce attorney Marilyn D. York says in this commercial that she "loves women," I think what she really means is that SHE DESPERATELY HATES WOMEN. Or at least despises them enough to throw her entire gender under a bus, in order to profit from her betrayal. Why? Because Attorney Marilyn D. York is a female "men's rights" lawyer (didn't see that coming!) who vows to protect those pitiful "blindsided" men who are being heartlessly deceived by their scheming shrewish wives.

This is what Attorney Marilyn D. York means when she says #YesAllWomen.

And oh boy, here's another one! POOR, POOR MEN!!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

New Tacocat Video! Surfing! Dancing Crabs! Menses!

Posted by Courtney Ferguson on Wed, Feb 12, 2014 at 1:59 PM

I should've put a period in that headline... because Tacocat's new video for "Crimson Wave" is about dear ol' Aunt Flo and her monthly stompings on all the ladies' proverbial welcome mats (eew, sorry). And it's super fun! Tacocat are a delightful Seattle fourpiece who rip into catchy, surfy pop in this adorable beachy video directed by Marcy Stone-Francois. So break out the hot water bottle, white wine, and Vicodin for this sunny spin on what could otherwise be the premise for an entire Stephen King novel ("Plug it up!").

Tacocat is touring their new album NVM (out February 25). They're playing the East End on March 6; so put on your gladrags and bop on down.

Friday, January 17, 2014

I Want to Talk About Lena Dunham for a Second

Posted by Paul Constant on Fri, Jan 17, 2014 at 2:59 PM


As soon as Breaking Bad ended, I realized that my favorite TV show on the air right now is Girls. It's hard to be a Girls fan and not continually want to do battle with the stuffy, self-important think-piece culture that's blossomed around it on the internet. Part of the reason I don't write about Girls is that I don't want to add to that conversation. I don't think it helps anything. I think the media comes across as stupid and diminishing when the best TV comedy writer in America has to keep answering inane questions about nudity and what an entire generation of young women wants.

Lena Dunham is a brilliant writer. She is also very, very funny. Dunham's characters are some of the best on television right now. On first blush, they feel like caricatures, or fools. But in a matter of minutes, they assert their humanity in subtle, important ways. The actors on Girls are all excellent at what they do—there's a reason why so many Girls actors were cast in the most recent Coen Brothers movie—but Dunham is deep in the DNA of every frame of the show. You couldn't remove Dunham from Girls any more than you could remove Charlie Chaplin from Modern Times.

Dunham doesn't need my defense, or any defense. She does just fine on her own. Her show has only gotten better as it's progressed, and she's only become more graceful in the public eye as her fame has grown. I just read about all the bullshit that she has to go through and I get so tired. I can't imagine that any normal person gives a shit about any of it—the dickish questions, the shameful publicity stunts for the sake of clickbait—and I just imagine the same media people clicking the links on the same boring articles over and over again and it just makes me so sad and so tired. Dunham deserves better than this. Hell, we all deserve better than this. Let's just move along and ignore the fucking idiots and devil's advocates and shameless sleaze merchants until they go away, okay? It's time for something better.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Don't be a Dick, Victim Blamers

Posted by Barbara Holm on Fri, Jan 10, 2014 at 1:29 PM

Hey, did you guys forget that the world is a scarier place than a haunted house where a clown got murdered to death? I did for a second, and then I got reminded by the town of Maryville, Missouri that people can be awful.

A teenage girl Daisy Coleman, (her mom gave permission for the media to use her name) was allegedly raped by a high school senior, Matthew Barnett, left unconscious on her front lawn. When she came forward she was shamed publicly for accusing a local high school football star. Barnett was charged only with a misdemeanor, and all rape charges were dropped, because of a lack of evidence.

Daisy's mom told reporters a girl wrote on Daisy's Facebook wall, "you’re a fake and a phony," and even worse, that high school girl wasn't Holden Caulfield. Another Facebook post said, "you wanted it...you’re a slut." (Protip: if someone wanted sex they usually don't need to be blackout drunk and semi-conscious. When someone wants sex they usually say, "I want sex." Or in my case, "My what a big Astonishing X-Men collection you have there. All the better to lend to me before and after I make love to you?")

Blaming the victim is traumatizing. Local comedian Lucia Fasano has a joke about it: "This is my impression of what it looks like when a woman is 'asking for it.' Please can we have sex? Please can we have sex? Come on, I'm going to get my period like yesterday. Please can we have sex?"

I hate that a young girl was slut shamed by her community. Matt's friend Jordan Zech reportedly filmed the rape but then deleted the video, because I guess the cinematography didn't invoke enough of the pedantic stylings of french noir. On Thursday all rape charges were dropped like they were hot. On Twitter the hashtag #jordanandmattarefree was started by Matt's friends to celebrate. That's disgusting. Even worse, no cake.

It breaks my heart that victims are shamed on the internet. It makes me disappointed in the Illuminati of lol-cats who run the web. I guess they're too busy worrying about keyboards, cheeseburgers, and catnip to understand the repercussions of victim shaming. Blaming the victim not only hurts the victim in question but also discourages others from coming forward, and reiterates the underlying fear that we don't have agency over our own bodies, that we're things to be looked at and acted upon.

My heart goes out to anyone who has experienced any form of victim shaming. I just want you to know, it's never your fault. Blame the perpetrator, blame society, blame the dynasty of the ducks, but never blame yourself. I'm so sorry you have to go through awful ordeals and I'm so proud of you for being brave enough to come forward, not just for yourself, but for women everyone. There are people out there who love and support you in your bravery, and I'm one of them.

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Lena Dunham and Judd Apatow Hands Stupid Reporter His Stupid Ass

Posted by Wm.™ Steven Humphrey on Fri, Jan 10, 2014 at 10:29 AM

Okay, so this happened! The producers of Girls were doing a Q&A panel for the Television Critics Association, when an unidentified male reporter stood up and unfortunately asked this question. (From EW and Today.)

"I don’t get the purpose of all the nudity on the show — by [Dunham] in particularly. I feel like I’m walking into a trap where you go, ‘Nobody complains about all the nudity on Game of Thrones,’ but I get why they do it. They do it to be salacious and titillate people. And your character is often nude at random times for no reason."

Exec producer Judd Apatow's response:

“That was a very clumsily stated question that’s offensive on it’s face, and you should read it and discuss it with other people how you did that,” Apatow said, speaking to the reporter who asked the question. “It’s very offensive.”

Creator Lena Dunham's response:

“[The nudity is] a realistic expression of what it’s like to be alive. But I totally get it. If you’re not into me, that’s your problem and you’re going to have to work that out with professionals.”

Apatow continues:

"Do you have a girlfriend?" executive producer Judd Apatow asked the reporter, who responded that he did.

"Does she like you? " Apatow replied. "Let’s see how she likes you when you quote that with your question, just write the whole question as you stated it. Then tell me how it goes tonight."

Other questions were asked, but later EP Jenni Konner interrupted her own response to circle back around to the offending reporter:

“I literally was spacing out because I’m in such a rage spiral about that guy,” she said pointing to the question-asker. “I was just looking at him looking at him and going into this rage [over] this idea that you would talk to a woman like that and accuse a woman of showing her body too much. The idea it just makes me sort of sick.”

So far the reporter is unidentified... but I sincerely doubt the judge and jury of the internet will allow that to be the case for long.

UPDATE: The reporter identifies himself and responds... poorly.

Monday, October 21, 2013

The Photographer Who Captures Images of Her Catcallers

Posted by Cienna Madrid on Mon, Oct 21, 2013 at 9:44 AM

Photographer Hannah Price lives in Philadelphia where she takes photos of men who catcall her in public places. Her work is thoughtful and noticeably un-angry:

... she says she doesn't know how the project will affect the behavior of the men depicted: "I don't think it makes them re-think catcalling. 'Cause I'm just one person and we're all different people and we come from different places. I don't know in their experiences if they've had any luck with their catcalls. They probably have, depending on the person, so I don't think my one instance ... makes them re-think about what they're saying."

Price's process went like this: Someone—a man—would catcall her, and she would either snap their photo at that instant or she would ask to make their portrait.

Price says that taking photographs of the catcallers was a way to address and confront the people who catcalled her. "I'm in the photograph, but I'm not. Just turning the photograph on them kind of gives them a feel of what it's like to be in a vulnerable position—it's just a different dynamic," Price says. "But it's just another way of dealing with the experience, of trying to understand it."

The series also tracks with themes common in Price's work. The photographer, who is Mexican and black, gravitates toward photographing subjects whose ethnic identities overlap with hers.

The internet is a dumping ground for strong emotions and reactions—I'm most often compelled to blog about misogyny when I read or experience something that causes steam to shoot out my ears, and I'm certain that others are, too. What I like about Price's interview, and her work, is that the topic is familiar and uncomfortable (most women can recall their own experiences and emotions with being catcalled by looking at the portraits) but Price holds back on the details that might inform our stronger reactions to her work.

We only know that each photograph is the result of unwanted attention from a stranger. We don't know if that stranger said something overt like "I'd like to fuck you," or something subtler, like "Where are you going and can I offer you a ride?" In fact, we don't even know if the unwanted attention manifested in words, whistles, or gestures. Her experiences, and the resulting portraits, rest in a gray area that makes me to think about my everyday interactions with strangers—the guy who complimented my dog and then asked where I lived, the guy who said he liked my tights, the guy who said, "I like what you're wearing—I'd like to be wearing you," which was creepy and hilarious and somehow didn't manage to offend me.

In other words, it provokes me to think about nuance—the mundane borders of an inflammatory topic, and where those borders lie in my own brain. I like it.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Texas Women Now Have to Drive Hours for Non-Shamey Healthcare

Posted by Cienna Madrid on Tue, Sep 17, 2013 at 9:44 AM

A Texas A&M student says she was lectured by her doctor for having a hickey and asking for birth control. >:(

Now, thanks to the implementation of the state's new anti-abortion laws, her only recourse is to drive hours out of her way to acquire birth control and non-shamey healthcare:

Athena Mason’s first doctor’s visit as a student at Texas A&M was a bit awkward. She had gone in for a basic checkup, but the physician noticed something else.

“I had a hickey and the doctor was just like, you shouldn’t be doing that," Mason said. "I’m like, 'it’s a hickey, it’s nothing major.' But I got a big lecture, [he said] my boyfriend was abusive and all of these things. And then I asked for birth control. I did not hear the end of that. So I said never mind, I’ll go someplace else.”

That experience led her to the Planned Parenthood clinic in Bryan. But on August 1, that clinic closed. Mason now drives three hours to her hometown of Fort Worth to see a doctor. She knows she’s lucky to have that option.

Go read the whole article, which includes this awful gem:

Anti-abortion groups argue there are still plenty of doctors and clinics available to help women find a new provider. The group called Pro-Life Aggies ran a full page ad in the Texas A&M newspaper offering alternatives to the closed Planned Parenthood clinic. But many weren’t taking new patients. Or they didn’t deal with women’s health at all.

“There’s a long list of providers here in town," said [Bryan resident Cadence] King. "They consist of podiatrists and optometrists. And my eyes and my feet are fine.”

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Women Entrepreneurs Make it Happen

Posted by Marjorie Skinner on Wed, Sep 11, 2013 at 3:44 PM

Word of this came through at the last minute, but if you're sitting at a desk wishing you were working for yourself instead of someone else, or if you just wish you were working period, you may want to alter your happy hour plans. The Oregon Entrepreneur’s Network is hosting a panel discussion from 5:15-7 at Backspace this evening, specifically by and for female entrepreneurs. (Fun fact: Portland was rated the fifth best city in the nation for women entrepreneurs by the financial company with the cutest name, NerdWallet.)

They've got Ivo Lukas from the PR firm 24Notion; Jennifer Ferguson, who started the Handful sports bra company; and Pacific Light Technologies' Juanita Kurtin, with Chez Marie food company/Castor & Pollux pet company's Shelley Gunton moderating. It could be just the ticket if you're pondering your next career move, and besides Backspace has your wine and vittles, too.

Or, just watch the cute product video for Handful bras:

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Man Raises $6.5 Million to Start Feminist Website, Save Women's Publishing

Posted by Megan Seling on Wed, Aug 14, 2013 at 1:29 PM

It reads like an Onion story: Successful male entrepreneur raises $6.5 million in venture capital to start a feminist website which, he says, he plans to "make a fortune" off of.

Sadly, it's not a joke.

Yesterday Bryan Goldberg, founder of Bleacher Report, announced that he has launched a new website called Bustle, which is going to do what "Jezebel, Refinery29, and PopSugar" do, but with a profit. He says he "aims to completely transform women's publishing" and has hired "talented women with experience at Entertainment Weekly, Glamour, Daily Beast, and Seventeen" to lead the editorial team.

He says, "Are there many great women's websites out there? Absolutely. Are many of them attracting huge audiences and mainstream advertisers? No."

Is that what's been missing? Pop-up Tampax ads with dancing ladies in colorful dresses? Finally! A man has come to rescue the feeble feminist blogging industry with his cutting-edge concepts!

Don't worry, he's not going to be a voice on Bustle—he's leaving that to the women. Goldberg says:

My job, as CEO, is to hire the right people. My job is to know a lot of engineers, editors, venture capitalists, and salespeople — and to bring them together. Knowing the difference between mascara, concealer, and eye-liner is not my job.

Oh for fuck's sake, dude. Seriously? Do you want us to hate you? Saying shit like that will really make us hate you. To make him even less likable, Goldberg has also gotten a kick out of working in a female-dominated environment. He's taken to Twitter to express just how kooky these adult "girls" can be:

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Continue reading »

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Republicans Continue Women Voter Outreach with Game That Lets You Slap Hillary Clinton's Face

Posted by Paul Constant on Tue, Aug 6, 2013 at 1:45 PM

BuzzFeed found this:

A Republican Super PAC prominently features a game on their website that allows users to slap former secretary of state and possible 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton across the face. The game is being hosted on the website for The Hillary Project, an anti-Clinton Super PAC that lists its address in Nashua, New Hampshire, according to FEC filings, and has Christopher M. Marston, a Republican campaign finance consultant and former member of the Bush administration, as its treasurer.

What's a little violence against women between friends? Har har har. You feminazis just don't know a good joke when you see it. Etc.

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