Showing 1 - 10 of 19 posts found matching keyword: misogyny

I know I just reviewed a batch of movies two days ago, but when I wrote that, these two felt like they should get a separate post. So they did.

103/2112. The Single Standard (1929)
Greta Garbo's capricious protagonist suffers through a series of romantic misadventures that illuminate how differently men and women are treated by society. There are a surprising number of suicide attempts, all of them by men, suggesting that maybe women aren't the weaker sex.

As it happens, I just a few days ago watched a surprisingly similar movie:

119/2128. The Grasshopper (1970)
Jaqueline Bisset's capricious protagonist suffers through a series of romantic misadventures that illuminate how differently men and women are treated by society, this time adding race and homosexuality and youth culture and drugs into the mix. I'm inclined to call this an exploitation film, both for its slapdash craftsmanship and overly sensational subject matter — Jim Brown beats a racist pedophile for raping his wife and is then shot to death in a revenge killing... on a basketball court!

Despite their stylistic differences (which, frankly aren't so different considering the cinema sensibilities of their eras), both The Single Standard and The Grasshopper ask their female leads to carry most of the emotional weight. The former seeks to showcase Garbo's protagonist's 1920s strength while the latter wallows in Bisset's 1960s weaknesses.

Did society change so much, or did Hollywood? Frankly, the key difference is probably that Garbo's movie was written by women, while Bisset's was written by men (including Garry Marshall of Happy Days and Pretty Woman fame). Everyone loses when their opponent is allowed to tell the story.

More to come.

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The 19th Amendment to the Constitution granting women the right to vote was approved in 1920. How many of those women 100 years ago would have voted for someone who bragged he could "grab 'em by the pussy"?

Raise your hand if you're sure
Based on the suffragette art of H.M. Dallas. (And yes, I know she was British.)

You know who the bad guys are. Exercise your rights this year, girls.

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In honor of Valentine's Day, today's blog post is about abortion.

There's been talk here in Georgia that the state legislature has been working on a new resolution to finally pass the long languishing Equal Rights Amendment. The local paper reported that one of the resolution's sponsors recently withdrew his support after talking with "people I know and people I trust" (who are, presumably two separate groups of people).

Before we go any further, to refresh your memory, this is the whole text of that very controversial proposed amendment to the United States Constitution:

"Equality of rights under law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex."

That's simple enough. Why would someone want to go on record as being against that? To answer that question, I did a little Googling. You may be surprised to know that the Internet is full of opinions on the topic.

Some people say that the ERA isn't necessary because it duplicates the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment, which promises "No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States." If that were true, women wouldn't have needed the 19th Amendment to cast votes.

Some people say that the ERA would prevent women from receiving favorable bias in paternity cases. They say it could also force women into the draft. Are either of these such a problem? I would hope that women would have to prove their fitness to be a parent in court. If a war is so damn important that we have to force our citizens into the armed forces, it seems to me that women should serve their country just as men do. (If the thought of your daughter going to war makes you think twice about the need for warfare, all the better.) And God forbid that anyone should have to use a uni-sex bathroom.

Some people say that the ERA is bad because it is just another example of the federal government stealing rights from the states. That's true. Granted, the "right" it would be stealing is the states' ability to treat women like second class citizens, but it's the principle of the thing!

However, the "people" who talked our representative out of supporting the ERA didn't use any of those arguments. No, the persuasive argument against guaranteeing women and men equal rights was — you guessed it — abortion. They said that if we give men and women true equality, they can no longer tell women what to do with their bodies. Horror of horrors!

Frankly, that strikes me as a bullshit reason to deny or abridge equal rights for women. I'm no girl or priest, and I'm generally pretty good at "keeping it in my pants," so I try to have no opinion on the subject, but the logic seems simple. If abortion is murder as the bumper stickers tell me, it should be illegal whether a man or woman is carrying a child. If it's not, then what difference does it make what gender does it? Neither case should have any bearing on whether women should have the same rights as men.

But what do I know? I try not to have an opinion, remember.

If you ask me, the best argument against the ERA is the existence of Valentine's Day itself. If women and men are so damn equal, someone should be buying *me* chocolates today, dammit.

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Chapter seven of child psychologist Fredric Wertham's infamous 1953 book Seduction of the Innocent is titled "I Want To Be a Sex Maniac: Comic Books and the Psycho Sexual Development of Children." Can you guess what it's about?

At the close of that chapter, after explaining how Batman and Robin "help fixate homoerotic tendencies" in young boys, he warns that young girls have similar examples.

The Lesbian counterpart of Batman may be found in the stories of Wonder Woman and Black Cat. The homosexual connotation of the Wonder Woman type of story is psychologically unmistakable. (pg 192)

To drive home his point, Wertham specifically calls out this panel from "Mr. Zero and the Juvenile Delinquent" in Black Cat #27, 1951:

What boy would want a girl in lingerie in his bedroom?

If I squint hard enough, I guess I can see where he was coming from. What girl would ever choose to sleep with child-abusing premature-ejaculators named "Crowface"?

Wertham goes on to complain about another page in the same issue headlined "Black Cat Shows You How To Do Judo Tricks," a step-by-step guide to self-defense tips in the unusually specific case when "a gunman should surprise you from the rear and you don't feel the gun muzzle against you." Look out, girls! If you act in self-defense against gunmen, you might be a lesbian!

Even if I was inclined to believe that reading stories about Batman hanging out in a cave with his young ward encouraged little boys to love Dick — that's a Robin joke! — I remain unconvinced that empowering young girls to fight back against gangsters is the first step on the slippery slope towards tribadism.

I'm not going to say that Wertham was wrong about everything. He makes a good case that American superhero comics books were (and still are) incredibly, perhaps irredeemably, violent. However, in hindsight, it's hard to take anyone's word that comics are destroying society when he's overlooking panels like this, also from "Mr. Zero and the Juvenile Delinquent":

Me cringee!

Clearly, in Wertham's 1953 America, homosexuality was an abomination but racism was just fine. The more things change....

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DC Comics has declared tomorrow, September 23, 2017, to be Batman Day 2017. (In 2016, Batman Day was September 17. In 2015, it was September 26. Seriously, DC, can we settle on one date already?)

This year, DC is cross promoting the event with Harley Quinn, a character celebrating her 25th anniversary. Harley was introduced in Batman: The Animated Series in 1992 as a comedic Joker henchwoman with romantic delusions. These days, she appears in comics and movies (but not television) as a psychopathic mass murderer who dresses like a stripper. Hooray for progress? (Thanks, feminism!)

It's probably not a coincidence that DC is combining the celebration of these two characters now considering that the company released a direct-to-video movie titled Batman & Harley Quinn late last month. Despite being made by the same people responsible for the all-ages Batman: The Animated Series, B&HQ is adults-only material. At one point, after mistaking him for a homosexual, Harley seduces Batman's adopted sidekick, Robin Nightwing. Personally, I don't need that much sex in my cartoons. That's why I have the Internet.

Anyway, if you go to your Local Comic Shop tomorrow, you can get your own free copy of Batman Day 2017 Special Edition #1. It's mostly reprints, but a free comic is a free comic.

And if that's not enough Bat-fun for you, you can download the official Batman Day Kit (including mazes, games, and sweet, sweet Terry Dodson and Jose Garcia-Lopez coloring pages) from At least there's no creepy hero-on-villain sex in there. I promise.

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For the past month, it's been Guardians of the Galaxy this and Wonder Woman that. For a bit of a reality check, please recall that this is what super hero movies looked like 50 years ago:

Captain America loves you this much

Official Batman insignia my ass
from the 1967 JC Penney Christmas catalog

Ah, the good old days. When super heroes were just for white males and even officially licensed products looked like Chinese knock-offs! 'Merica!

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I often complain that the local newspaper has too little content to justify its 5-day publishing schedule. This fact was evidenced on Thursday when they ran the same Associated Press article on pages 7A and 9A.

But it was the paper's back page (10A) where things are really noteworthy. The page was headlined by an article about how many awards the Times-Herald has won for advertising in the annual Georgia Press Association's advertising content. (They won 12 first or second place awards from among 19 categories.) The Georgia Press Association is the trade association for Georgia newspapers. Their job is to promote newspapers. This article isn't news; it's salesmanship.

However, even the appearance of advertisements disguised as articles in the newspaper isn't what brings me to the keyboard today. No, that would be this passage in the restaurant inspections further down the same page:

Olive Garden #1658 — was inspected on May 24 and received a score of 99-A. The deduction came from the ladies being stored too closely to the hand wash sink to prevent contamination.

Contamination is bad. That's why I prefer to store my ladies in the freezer.

Keep up the good work, Times-Herald!

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From the We've Been Here "Bee"-fore Department:

As America entered WWII, Hit Comics cut back to a bi-monthly schedule. It also cut back on it's villains. In issue Twenty-One, Red Bee shows up to confront yet another in a never-ending string of protection rackets. Apparently, the shops in Superior City were very, very fragile.

Guns don't kill people. They don't kill bees, either.
Hit Comics #21, April 1942

If there is a highlight in this adventure, it's "gun moll" Mae Floss. She doesn't get a lot of time on panel, but she does makes the most of it. Smooching, feigning distress, knocking the hero out with her purse: she squeezes more into her four panels than most Red Bee antagonists get in an entire story!

Because if there's anything the Red Bee doesn't get, it's action

Since Miss Floss isn't seen after the Red Bee steers her getaway car into a brick wall, I like to think she escaped and will return to menace him again in the future. She'd make a good recurring villain for the Red Bee. It takes a special kind of man to train bees to sting on command, and that kind of man has no use for women. Who can blame him? We all know it's impossible to train a woman to do anything on command.

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October movies, round 2 of 2.

169. (916.) The Heavenly Body (1944)
I'm generally ambivalent about the screwball romantic comedies of the '30s and '40s, but this one I hated. Just to get the script moving, the female lead, Heady Lamar, improbably behaves without a brain in her head so that there will be tension between her and her husband played by William Powell. William Powell should never be treated this poorly. Seriously, if any dame ever treated me that way, I wouldn't shed a single tear as the door hit her on the way out.

170. (917.) Morning Glory (2010)
Rachel McAdams is, as always, a delight, but this movie has no depth. What, old people resent being sidelined by youth? Deep, man, deep.

171. (918.) Modern Problems (1981)
Have you ever seen Zapped? This film is like that, but with adults acting like teenagers instead of teenagers acting like teenagers. Not Chevy Chase's best movie. And Chevy Chase has had a lot of "not best" movies.

172. (919.) How to Steal a Million (1966)
Audrey Hepbrun and Peter O'Toole make a great couple in this heist/romance hybrid. One of my pet peeves in movies is when the plot seems to take a right turn sometime during act 2 for no good reason (Terminator 2 springs to mind), but I'll forgive it here. Because Audrey Hepburn and Peter O'Toole.

More to come.

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Among the other things my aunt dropped off while housecleaning last week was a copy of The Literary Digest Vol. 55 No. 14 cover dated October 6, 1917. Much as the Newsweek would be familiar to modern readers, so too this magazine's warnings about the dangers posed by illegal aliens (in this case German agents), military chaos in Russia (in this case the result of two Russian Revolutions), and the failure of the public at large to respect its soldiers (in this case resulting from a lack of patriotic songs). If you think shit in the world is bad now, be glad you weren't living in 1917.

The most familiar aspects of this magazine are the advertisements. Covering everything from handsaws to night shirts, most of the advertisements are — unsurprisingly in a "literary" publication — for books. Mail away and you can teach yourself electrical engineering, learn how to raise rabbits for fun and profit, and speak French in time for your deployment to the front. But the most intriguing ad might be this:

Knowledge dirty old men should have, too

A "wholesome" guide to everything I need to know about sex in 1917? Must be a short book. Thanks to the magic of the Information Age, we no longer need to mail $2 to Philadelphia to find out what Knowledge a Young Man Should Have. All 232 pages of Sexology by William H. Walling (including its 2 illustrations!) are available for free on Google Books.

First of all, the book was 13 years old by 1917, so some of its medical advice was probably outdated. But that wouldn't have been an issue for Professor Walling. Most of his teachings were based on tradition, anecdote, or religion that would have been more at home in Ripley's Believe It or Not. Chapter IV, "Masturbation, Male," opens with the incrimination, "viewing the world over, this shameful and criminal act is the most frequent, as well as the most fatal, of all vices." Is that so? I don't think there are many episodes of Law and Order where the coroners has listed "jerking off" as the cause of death.

"Dr. Doussin Deubreuil relates the case of a child who contracted the habit spontaneously at the age of five years, who, in spite of all that could be done, died at sixteen having lost his reason at eleven."

The book gives no guide to what sorts of cures could be used to prevent the inevitable "loss of memory and intelligence" inflicted upon even the occasional masturbator. Just know that if you do it, you're gonna lose your marbles and die. I suspect this is the prototypical case of the cure being worse than the disease.

This sort of drivel takes up 8 pages. A further 7 pages are devoted to the equal dangers of "Masturbation, Female" ("Alas, that such a term is possible!"). There's also guidance on the physical and moral dangers of abortion and incest and an accompanying medical explanation that the "softer and less voluminous" brains of women make them easily confused and stupid. You can't argue with science, ladies!

But the good doctor isn't a monster. His book advises strongly against rape (even by married men of their wives) and does its best to dispel myths about marriage, pregnancy, and childbirth. (He's a big fan of breast over bottle.) "A husband is generally the architect of his own misfortunes," is the first bit of wisdom listed in his final chapter. Of course the same chapter ends with "The only recipe for permanent happiness in wedlock: Christianity" does go a few steps too far.

In the 21st century, we've gotten use to misinformation and bad science disseminated through blog posts and cable news. Isn't it nice to know that the self-proclaimed experts of a century ago and their mail-order instructional manuals were just as bad?

(Footnote: If you want to read about how the motion picture industry is actually becoming — gasp! — big business in 1917 America, you can also read that copy of The Literary Digest online here.)

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To be continued...


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