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Lwaxana Troi: Star Trek’s Most Polarizing Woman?

Thursday, November 20th, 2014 - by Ash Freeman

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Editor’s Note: See Ash Freeman’s wonderful article “Why Star Trek: The Next Generation Is Great in Spite of Being Mostly Terribleand the previous installments in this series: Part 1: Tasha YarPart 2: Deanna TroiPart 3: Beverly Crusher, and Part 4: Dr. Pulaski, Guinan, and Ensign Ro

Lwaxana Troi

Lwaxana’s place in Trek fandom is as polarizing as they come; her pushy, enthusiastic nature was incredibly off-putting to some, while others were endeared by it. Her flirtations with Picard, and other suitors of the week were hit or miss, but the real depth in Lwaxana’s character came when they started to peel back the layers behind her bombastic exterior.

Lwaxana’s life comes across as tragic once more of her back-story is revealed in the episode “Dark Page.” In it, we are shown the worst moment a parent could have in their lives: the loss of a child. Lwaxana suppressed all memory of her lost daughter Kestra, refusing to speak of or think of her ever again. This, combined with the loss of her husband Ian was too much for her to bear. Eventually the strain of this began to make her erratic, forcing Lwaxanna into a coma. She recovers by the end of the episode (because of course she does), but when viewed with this information in mind, many of her exploits before and after this episode become tinted in a more heartbreaking context.

Lwaxana fussing over daughter Deanna dragging her heels to get married is her compensating for the loss of her husband and her own way of wanting what’s best for her daughter, as is her stubbornness to lose potential suitor Timicin to his culture’s suicide ritual in the episode “Half a Life”. Lwaxana’s aggressive interactions with Picard are also potentially a result of this. “Cost of Living” has her doting over Worf’s son Alexander like a grandmother, as she likely wishes she had the opportunity to do with Kestra. Lwaxana became more three-dimensional, but only insofar as one was willing to empathize with her after considering this subtext.

These themes of marriage and parenthood would continue on in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, but the question of how effective they were and how well her character was integrated with that cast and setting is for another day.

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Please Stop Worshiping ‘Bad Boys’

Wednesday, November 19th, 2014 - by Robert Wargas

In one of his most memorable roles, as the eponymous character of Tim Burton’s 1990 film Edward Scissorhands, Johnny Depp plays a semi-human manboy with shears for fingers, stuck in eternal youth as those around him wither. I thought of this film last week, as I watched a fifty-something Depp, drunk and clad in his usual get-up of randomly placed crosses and scarves, stumble to the microphone at a televised awards show and deliver a slurred “speech” in which he giggled, cursed, rocked, and swayed his way through a painful two minutes. Here was another manboy on display, albeit one lacking the charm and innocence of Burton’s creation.

It was a shame to see Depp, a genuinely talented and by most accounts kind and gentle man, reduce himself to this display. He is well into middle age—not that any age is an appropriate time for public drunkenness. I suspect his career won’t be dented much, if at all, by the episode. This is not just because he is a celebrity. One can’t imagine, say, Morgan Freeman stumbling onto the stage, delivering a gin-soaked introduction, and walking away with his career totally intact. No, it is Depp’s enduring “bad boy” image that affords him the extra latitude. Those crosses and scarves go a long way. If you can set yourself up as some kind of outsider, those on the inside will start to think they’re caged animals and become desperate for your kind of freedom. The bad boy’s appeal comes from nonchalantly scuffing the social rulebook with his cowboy boots and daring us not to like him because of it.

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Time to Re-Define the F-Word

Monday, November 17th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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This past week a group of scientists from the European Space Agency landed a spaceship on a comet. Contemporary feminists commented on the happening, but not for the reason you’d think. Screw science. One of the guys on the team talked about the major breakthrough in an on-the-spot interview while wearing a shirt with barely-clad, busty women brandishing guns. Social media chaos ensued. The scientist cried out an apology over the Internet. Apparently the rather clever hashtag #shirtstorm is the real reason why Obama cancelled the space program.

And you wonder why Lana Del Rey would rather spend her time talking about Space-X and Tesla instead of associating herself with the pioneering movement for women that has turned into a forum for Dunham-loving yuppie nags. Celebrities are distancing themselves from the f-word because so-called feminists think the greatest thing they can do for womankind is to complain about a scientist’s tacky shirt. I’m sure that really inspired a teenage girl out there to forego joining ISIS and join in the fight against… dudes bearing busty broads?

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Women and the Scandal of Doing It All Alone

Sunday, November 16th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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Editor’s Note: See Part 1 of Susan’s ongoing series analyzing the connections between ABC’s Scandal, current events, and Western values: “What’s Evil Got to Do with It?

Women are fixers. It should come as no surprise to anyone with an understanding of the sexes that the leading female figure on primetime television is none other than a fixer named Olivia Pope. Fifty years ago women primarily played the role of mother on screen and, in doing so, they fixed things and life was pretty darn perfect. But perfect doesn’t fly on network television any longer. Today it’s all about drama, and drama is conflict. So, we get Olivia Pope: beautiful, intelligent, who fantasizes about marrying an already married man, having his children and fixing a nice little life in the Vermont countryside for them, but is too embroiled in fixing her own life and the lives of those she loves to ever quite reach her American nirvana.

Like Israel’s matriarchs, Olivia Pope has a vision of justice, of order, of the way things should be. The wearer of the “white hat,” she wrestles between good and evil in her many attempts to manifest this divine sense that has been humanized as her “gut” instinct. Watch her and you’ll see the woman in white when she pursues truth, the woman in black when she has given over to evil, and the woman in gray when she questions everything she knows. Being a fixer is a woman’s inherent power and inevitable struggle. It isn’t that we want to “do it all” because doing it isn’t as hard as taking responsibility for it, for the lives under our care. Olivia Pope cares for everyone, wants to save everyone, wants to repair everyone and make everything all better. Her struggle, like that of the matriarchs, is in placing the sole burden of responsibility on her own shoulders. But, the greatest lesson of God-given responsibility is that you are not expected to carry it all alone.

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5 Times Today’s Feminists Made Women Look Insane

Thursday, November 13th, 2014 - by Amelia Hamilton
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This image by Jon Gabriel pretty much encapsulates modern feminism.

Editor’s Note: This is part four in a fascinating ongoing series exploring feminism’s transformations and its impact on culture, history, politics, and relationships. Be sure and check out the first three installments in Amelia’s series. Part 1: The Relevant and the Ridiculous: A Guide Through Feminist HistoryPart 2: How 8 Songs from the ’90s Define Third-Wave Feminism, and Part 3: 5 First-Wave Feminists Who Made a Real Difference.

Once a label for women who were fighting real battles, “feminist” is now for men and women who are easily offended and looking for a reason. Here are a few times that feminists proved themselves to be obsolete, while simultaneously making sane women look bad.

1. F-Bombs for Feminism

Want to see little girls curse like sailors for no apparent reason? You’re in luck!

Really, feminists? You need to use children as props to score cheap points? There are so many things wrong with this video that I hardly know where to start. The obvious starting point is the language. I’m not just offended that little girls are swearing in this video, I’m offended that they have used children at all and I’m offended that they’re putting swear words into their mouths. None of these kids fully understand the issues for which they’re being used (which are ostensibly inequality of pay and sexual violence), they’re just adorable puppets being used by the adults (in age, at least, though not maturity) in their lives.

One of my main problems with the video, aside from the use of children, is that it’s worthless. Sure, they have garnered attention through shock value, but does anyone remember anything but the swearing? Not really. The message has been overpowered by the medium.

The video asks viewers to chip in $15 to buy a pro-feminism t-shirt, one-third of which actually goes to “kick-ass charities.” One third? I think that says it all. Good job, crazy people!

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What’s Wrong with Steven Crowder’s ‘Catcalling’ Video

Tuesday, November 11th, 2014 - by Kathy Shaidle

First off: I’m a longtime fan of Crowder, for what it’s worth.

But sometimes we conservatives are a little too eager to be “Not Progressives™,” and his new “catcalling” video — made in response to the real one everyone’s talking about — is an example of this phenomenon.

Second, just to preempt any, well, shouting by strange men in the comments:

I am 50 years old and have probably been genuinely catcalled about six times in my life.

I’ve been more apt to be called ugly and/or a lesbian, or — because I have “bitchy resting face” — ordered to “Smile!!!”

The last time a strange man shouted something complimentary to me was about 18 months ago, when a construction worker (no less!) said, “I like your shirt.”

I was wearing my red “It’s Not Racist If It’s True” tee — on the streets of downtown Toronto in broad daylight, I’ll have you know.

He made my week.

But that wasn’t catcalling.

And neither are the actions Crowder portrayed in his video:

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Why the #GamerGate Story Is So Boring

Saturday, November 8th, 2014 - by Spencer Klavan

The wonderfully amusing thing about progressivist thought is how old and played-out it is. The #GamerGate controversy is a perfect example. On one side are the #GamerGate folks, video game enthusiasts like me. We basically just want to be left alone in our basements to blow up computerized helicopters. On the other side are militant feminists like Anita Sarkeesian. They think video games brainwash little boys into becoming the violent sociopaths that, according to “rape culture” theory, they already are anyway. Essentially, progressives want to sanitize stories about unsavory behavior for the good of society. That idea goes back at least 2300 years, to ancient Greece, where it was also a failure. For a movement that defines itself as the wave of the future, that’s a pretty hackneyed approach.

I’m talking here about #GamerGate in the broadest terms. I’m not talking about Chelsea Van Valkenburg, the mentally unstable pseudo-designer whose dysfunctional relationship somehow started this whole mess. I’m not talking about internecine squabbles over gaming journalism. I’m talking about the bigger fight, between gamers and the radicals who want to sterilize games.

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The Problem Is That Rapists Don’t Care That It’s Wrong

Friday, November 7th, 2014 - by Stephen Green

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Oy:

There are a lot of ways to address sexual assault on college campuses. Warning students to watch the facial expressions they make isn’t one of them.

Yet that’s what students at Ramapo College of New Jersey in Mahwah, New Jersey, were faced with during an hourlong presentation on alcohol use and sexual assault that focused heavily on what women could do to avoid being assaulted, according to the Ramapo News.

The presentation included tips from the school’s Substance Abuse & Violence Prevention coordinator Cory Rosenkranz, who advised students on how to dress, how much to drink and how to use body language that would lessen the chances of assault.

The author of this piece, Matt Connolly, adds:

The presentation’s focus on what the victim should be doing rather than what the perpetrator shouldn’t be doing — committing acts of sexual assault — drew criticism from students, faculty and alumni.

I am so, so tired of this tripe.

Listen to me closely now.

Men – Know – Not – To – Rape.

We know this already. It’s wrong. It’s bad. It’s rapey.

The problem isn’t that men are stupid, although you’d be hard-pressed to get a modern feminist to admit to that, because to do so in a meaningful way would shatter her precious little worldview.

The problem is that rapists don’t care that it’s wrong. Rapists aren’t ignorant; they’re bad. They’re evil. They’re rapists.

And there are damn few of them in the general male population.

So the solution isn’t to badger the overwhelming majority of men who are decent and good. The solution, as pictured above, is to be prepared for the few who are bad and evil and rapey.

But that would put a whole lot of modern feminists out of cushy “public service” jobs, and we can’t make them compete in the private marketplace against their more-able sisters and brothers, can we?

Also read: 

Lena Dunham Drives the Nail into the Coffin of Steinem-Feminism

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Cross-posted from Vodkapundit

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What if They Gave a War on Women and Nobody Came?

Thursday, November 6th, 2014 - by David Forsmark

When I was growing up in the ‘70s, there was a groovy poster that asked the penetrating question, “What if they gave a war and nobody came?” Well, in most places, the Democrats found that out on Election Night 2014 after they tried to restage the 2012 “War on Women.”

I didn’t have to become unexpectedly single in my late 40s to be reminded of one basic fact:

Grown women don’t dig being condescended to.

But that was the Democrats’ whole approach in wooing the next constituency they wanted to be able to someday take for granted.

Ever since Sandra Fluke announced she couldn’t afford birth control because she unconvincingly claimed to have needed $3000 of it through her law school tenure, the Democrats have decided that gender identity politics could be as valuable to them as racial identity politics.

It seemed to work in 2012, thanks to an unexpected assist from Todd Akin, who probably picked up the crazy idea in a tent meeting somewhere (where he got the rest of his scientific knowledge) that pregnancies resulting from rape are not merely rare, they basically cannot happen.

So Democrats, spurred on by their cultural Left wing in Hollywood and the media, decided that women (a majority of the population) could be the new minority victim group in their identity coalition that would give them an unassailable majority.  But this ignored the fact that economic populism and a flat-footed opponent who directly matched their stereotype had a lot more to do with the 2014 Obama victory.

They decided to openly treat women as though their pretty heads couldn’t be bothered with such things as stagnant middle class incomes, the fact that their kids can only get part-time work because of Obamacare, Ebola, or the fact that the world is “going to hell in a handbasket.”

No, in the Democrat world, chicks only care about their lady parts.

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5 First-Wave Feminists Who Made a Real Difference

Tuesday, November 4th, 2014 - by Amelia Hamilton
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Susan B. Anthony (1820-1906) is one of the most well-known and respected women in American history, and for good reason.

I can be a little hard on feminists sometimes, but that’s because the brand has been so largely destroyed by the bizarre priorities of those using that moniker from the 1960s to present. As time has gone on, it has just gotten worse. Don’t get me wrong, however — I have a lot of respect for the women who got things done in the beginning.

Here are some women who really made a difference.

5. Susan B. Anthony

Susan Brownell Anthony worked for social reform in America on several fronts. Like other women working for equality, she was passionate about abolition, collecting anti-slavery petitions at age 17. She went on to become the New York state agent for the American Anti-Slavery Society.

When she met Elizabeth Cady Stanton, they joined forces. Together, they began the American Equal Rights Association, campaigning for the rights of women and blacks. They began a newspaper in 1868, The Revolution, which went into issues of women’s rights. The next year, they founded the National Woman Suffrage Association.

Unfortunately, women’s suffrage had yet to pass when Anthony went ahead and cast a vote in 1872, and she was arrested. Six years later, Anthony and Stanton worked for Congress to be presented with an amendment granting women’s suffrage, and it was finally passed in 1920 as the 19th Amendment.

Susan B. Anthony was the first woman (after a representation of Lady Liberty) to be featured on a U.S. coin.

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People Treat Me Like an Adult and I’m Too Polite to Correct Them

Tuesday, November 4th, 2014 - by Helen Smith

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I was reading Dalrock’s blog and saw a post from a mom blog about a woman who is upset because she is treated by others like a child:

When I was a little girl, adults would often brush aside my viewpoint or do things for me because of my age. I couldn’t wait to grow up and take control over my own life. Fast forward a couple decades later. I’m a mom in my 30′s, but I still find myself being treated like a child by other adults and I can’t figure out how to stop it from happening without being rude.

I should start by saying that I’m not a particularly small or helpless person. Sure, I’m 5’4″ in sneakers, but I’ve always been athletic and loud, by no means a shrinking violet. My peers have never felt the need to baby me, in fact, when I was in college and on vacation with my sorority sisters, they once told me that in the event of a burglary, I was the one they would turn to for protection and a plan of attack. But those older than me treat me like I wander through life with my shoes untied and a teddy bear dangling from one arm, and I can’t seem to get them to stop.

The author of the piece goes on to complain that people do too much for her and provide with help and assistance:

Bosses have refused to let me walk a city block alone at night to the parking garage, even though my coworkers go without being questioned. I’ve been passed over for assignments involving incarcerated individuals lest I get hurt and given assistance I didn’t ask for with boxes or files. Whenever I have voice my distaste for being treated like I’m an incompetent toddler, people get offended and tell me they are just trying to be nice, and I feel like an evil witch.

I have always had the opposite problem. People have always treated me like adult as long as I can remember. I am not that tall or large –around five foot six and 120 pounds, but people always think I am taller and much larger than I am. I have rarely been given assistance for much, walked alone in NYC without so much as an escort, and usually was the one people asked for help, not the other way around. I have worked with incarcerated individuals for years and lifted my own boxes and files without assistance (unless I asked my wonderful husband!). In short, I have been treated as a competent adult for most of my life–and maybe it’s because I acted like one or maybe it has to do with one’s facial appearance or a combination of physical and psychological attributes.

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Blondie’s Chris Stein Shrugs Off Iran’s Violent Treatment of Women

Monday, November 3rd, 2014 - by Kathy Shaidle

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Debbie Harry’s ex-boyfriend and Blondie co-founder Chris Stein has just released a photography collection, featuring his lifelong muse.

And why not? No less an authority than rock photography guru Bob Gruen famously said, “You can’t take a bad picture of Debbie Harry.”

Unfortunately, Stein marrs the collection with a stunningly multi-level-stupid comment, regarding his famous picture, above.

Stein quips to who else but The Guardian:

UK tabloids don’t push the limits of credibility any more than their American counterparts, but in a way they got there first. Here, Debbie is reading about sexism under the ayatollah.

Get it? Decades of well-documented, sharia-inspired violence against women in Iran was probably exaggerated, according to Stein, because it was reported by a lower class “red top” English tabloid back in the 1970s.

Stein further ingratiates himself with his British host by slagging stupid, hysterical American “yellow journalists,” too, for no apparent reason.

Factor in the word “sexism” as his mealy-mouthed synonym for “rape, torture and murder,” and it’s quite breathtaking how much smug “enlightened” ignorance Stein managed to squeeze into two just sentences.

Especially the same week that Iranian authorities executed a woman for killing her rapist.

All this from a man I feel safe in presuming voted for Obama twice, and whose views on every subject are reliably, predictably “progressive.”

But of course!

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Feminists Don’t Want Privacy, They Want Approval

Saturday, November 1st, 2014 - by Leslie Loftis

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Much will be written on Katha Pollitt’s “abortion is normal” movement. I’m sure I will write more on it later after I at least read some of the book. But for the moment, here’s one thing that caught my eye in her introductory article in The Nation:

Roe v. Wade gave women a kind of existential freedom that is not always welcome—indeed, is sometimes quite painful—but that has become part of what women are.

One thing Roe v. Wade didn’t do, though, was make abortion private.

…Justice Harry Blackmun’s majority opinion in Roe v. Wade was all about privacy, but the most private parts of a woman’s body and the most private decisions she will ever make have never been more public.

And why is that? She seems to blame terrible conservatives and their abortion-clinic regulations, which is a tenuous claim. Why wouldn’t those like Pollitt who want abortion accessible for women to be able to use as they see fit prioritize safe clinics? The regulations are about safety, which of course restricts access. Even if abortion is completely normalized, it’s not as simple as, for instance, trips to the health spa.

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Video: What Do Critics of GamerGate Get Wrong?

Thursday, October 30th, 2014 - by Helen Smith

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Cross-posted from Dr. Helen

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8 Reasons Why Jews & Christians Should Re-Think Celebrating Halloween

Thursday, October 30th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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Halloween was always a point of contention in our house growing up. Naturally theatrical, I loved dressing up and relished in making my own costumes. And what kid turns down free candy? Sure, Jewish kids have Purim for these things and more, but when you’re in a mainly gentile neck of the woods, it’s a struggle not to be allowed to join in the party. As I grew into adulthood and took a deeper look at Halloween, however, I began to understand my parents’ objections quite clearly. There are definite reasons why Jews and Christians who base their faith in the Bible should re-think introducing and encouraging their child’s participation in this, the most pagan of American holidays.

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Halle Berry Says Women Should ‘Be Prepared’ with Fabulous Lingerie

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014 - by Paula Bolyard

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According to Halle Berry, who is hawking a new lingerie line at Target, women need to be prepared “in that area” because you never know who’s going to see it.

Style.com reports that Berry told reporters at a preview of her new Scandale lingerie line,

I have some friends—who will remain nameless—that wear the same janky bras for, like, five years straight. As Americans, we can go there, but what I learned about the Frenchwomen is that they’re always updating their lingerie. … They’re not going to get caught in the emergency room not prepared. If they have to cut their clothes off, they’re going to be fabulous under there.

Lingerie marketing schemes aside, Halle (I can call her by her first name because we went to high school together and I put shaving cream in her hair during band camp hazing initiation) does have a really good point. While I wish that I could have the freedom that men enjoy — I guarantee you that my husband has spent zero time in the last decade thinking about how ER personnel might be judging him on his undergarment choices — the truth is that because of science (having something to do with the Y chromosome, I think) I am forced to think about what would happen if someone had to cut my clothes off in the emergency room. (In fact, that did happen to me when I broke my leg skiing in the 9th grade and it is every bit as mortifying as you might imagine.)

Last week I was telling a friend about my son’s wedding in September, sharing the events of the morning of The Big Day as we all got ready for the afternoon ceremony. I didn’t realize how early we were going to get our hair done in the morning and as a result, I didn’t end up getting a shower before we all headed out to the beauty shop. So I had to settle for schlepping together a sponge bath and shaving my legs in the bathroom sink before slipping into my formal gown, a memory which, as I’m sitting here more than a month later, still horrifies me.

And it’s no better when it’s not a formal occasion. Last night, my husband had a late meeting, so I decided to run out and grab some carry-out food. Before heading out, I changed my clothes, put on some eyeliner and put lipstick on –as if the fast food workers were going to notice!

Honestly, I wish I could be free from this vanity and narcissism. I have friends who don’t give a hoot about how they look when they leave the house and they own it. Beauty is on the inside, they say, daring people to reject them for the way they look. They seem happy.

The problem is, of course, that our culture screams at women constantly that we must look a certain way, dress a certain way, wear this makeup, weigh this much.

People judge us, we judge others, we judge ourselves. Are we doing it mostly for ourselves — because we’re narcissists — or to impress others? I wrestle with that sometimes.

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The Feminist Lesson in Mom’s Night Out

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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Twenty-four percent of married couple families with children under 15 have a stay-at-home mom. Ninety-nine percent of stay-at-home moms in the movies get a really bad rap. Search “Best Movie Moms” and you’ll get lists that include Shirley MacLaine in Terms of Endearment, Sigourney Weaver in Aliens, Shelly Duvall in The Shining, and more than a few mentions of Psycho. The majority of movie mothers are either widowed or divorced, careerists or working class, alcoholics or impregnated by UFOs. The closest you’ll get to a stay-at-home mom in post-1940s cinema is Kathleen Turner playing the psychotic Serial Mom or Michael Keaton taking on the role so his wife can pursue her career in Mr. Mom.

In fact, outside of Sandra Bullock in The Blind Side there hasn’t been a truly admirable middle-class, white, stay-at-home mother on the silver screen in over 50 years. Which is probably why Mom’s Night Out received such a negative critical reception when it premiered last spring. We have been acculturated out of believing in the power and purpose of stay-at-home moms. Yet, the criticisms leveled at Mom’s Night Out for its “depressingly regressive” spirit and “archaic notions of gender roles” were not applied to a similar film about a stay-at-home mom released only two years prior. This Is 40 received mixed reviews, but praise for yielding “…some of [Judd] Apatow’s most personal observations yet on the feelings for husbands, wives, parents, and children that we categorize as love.”

So, what made This Is 40 palatable in a way that Mom’s Night Out wasn’t? Is there, perhaps, a culturally acceptable way to be a stay-at-home mom?

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The Wasted Women of Star Trek, Part 3: Beverly Crusher

Saturday, October 25th, 2014 - by Ash Freeman

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Editor’s Note: This article is part of an ongoing dialogue about Star Trek, women, and feminism. See Ash’s previous installments The Wasted Women of Star Trek, Part 1: Tasha YarThe Wasted Women of Star Trek, Part 2: Deanna Troi, and April Bey’s “An Artist Trekkie’s Guide For Becoming a Better Person.” 

Of the three original female leads of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Beverly Crusher is the one that ended up the most well-rounded, but that’s not saying much. Her appearances were even, more often than not showing up as a plot device so as to create that week’s magic cure if the problem wasn’t technobabble-related. She had kind of a rocky start, but came away more developed than even Geordi La Forge or arguably William Riker.

The problem is that development never went very far. Is that a flaw in the character, or a flaw in the conventions of the show?

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An Artist Trekkie’s Guide for Becoming a Better Person

Friday, October 24th, 2014 - by April Bey

Editor’s Note: This article is part of an ongoing dialogue about Star Trek, women, and feminism. See Ash Freeman’s The Wasted Women of Star Trek, Part 1: Tasha Yar and The Wasted Women of Star Trek, Part 2: Deanna Troi.

I am an artist and a Trekkie. For me creating art, discussing art and seeing art are important ways for me to disconnect with the negative things in life. They are a distraction from mediocrity. Star Trek accomplishes this goal too at times. Both can act as lenses through which I view the world.

Having just finished up graduate school, another huge catalytic chapter of my life, I think it’s time to take inventory of the human elements and roadblocks I encountered and the parts of myself I need to rehab and examine. I’m finding the types of people I work best with, the ones I find the most interesting, also in turn share basic moralistic virtues. They are kind, thoughtful, candid yet respectful, honest, reliable, practically critical and have great taste in music. On a very basic, Prime Directive level, <em>Star Trek</em> also tackles these virtues in its characters but it’s a little too utopian sometimes isn’t it? Because reality contradicts this naiveté of so many people being good or at the very least aspiring to be better.

I started a personal quest in grad school about the time I witnessed my first adult temper tantrum in academia. I won’t go into details but it was shocking to say the least. Right then and there, I suspected, if I actively pursued trying to be a better person, maybe those around me would start being better people too, or maybe we’d attract each other with some type of space age “good person” pheromone. Here’s what I’ve learned so far and it’s not quite science fiction.

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10 Ways to Avoid Regretting Your Wedding

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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The average wedding in America costs roughly $30,000. Egged on by countless wedding TV shows, magazines, and websites, people throw what appear to be pseudo star-studded events that aim to rival the kind of blow-out parties you only see in movies. In the end you wind up with one night of clouded memories, a ton of photos, and a group of hungover people hovering over breakfast in the hotel lobby the next day. The bills may last you months, even upwards of a year. And for what? To make your grandmother happy? Because you really liked that episode of My Fair WeddingYou can have a great, regret-free wedding without sacrificing yourself to the Wedding Idol. Here’s how.

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If Hillary Had a Daughter She Would Look Like Monica Lewinsky

Tuesday, October 21st, 2014 - by Paula Bolyard

Monica Lewinsky spoke recently to young entrepreneurs and achievers at Forbes’ 30 Under 30 Summit in Philadelphia about her sex scandal with the President of the United States and about how her life was forever altered by the experience.

Sixteen years ago, fresh out of college, a 22-year-old intern in the White House — and more than averagely romantic – I fell in love with my boss in a 22-year-old sort of a way. It happens. But my boss was the President of the United States. That probably happens less often.

Now, I deeply regret it for many reasons. Not the least of which is that people were hurt. And that’s never okay.

But back then, in 1995, we started an affair that lasted, on and off, for two years.  And, at that time, it was my everything. That, I guess you could say, was the golden bubble part for me; the nice part. The nasty part was that it became public. Public with a vengeance.

Lewinsky, now 40, wrote in Vanity Fair in May that although the affair was consensual, nothing could have prepared her for the aftermath, when attacks came from seemingly every direction:

Sure, my boss took advantage of me, but I will always remain firm on this point: it was a consensual relationship. Any ‘abuse’ came in the aftermath, when I was made a scapegoat in order to protect his powerful position. . . . The Clinton administration, the special prosecutor’s minions, the political operatives on both sides of the aisle, and the media were able to brand me. And that brand stuck, in part because it was imbued with power.

Monica’s bad and immoral decision – every salacious detail of it – was published on the internet:

Now, my brother – and all his fraternity brothers – were privy to my most intimate details. As were my dad and his fellow doctors. And my stepdad, and his World War 2 war buddies. My stepmom and her knitting circle. Even both my grandmothers, then in their 80s, knew about the internet. My whole family. My friends. My friends’ parents. My parents’ friends.

All of this left Hillary Clinton — the supposedly great defender and protector of all women everywhere forever and ever Amen– in a terribly awkward position. She knew her husband was a serial philanderer. Six months earlier Kathleen Willey had accused Bill Clinton of sexual assault and there was also the 12-year affair with Gennifer Flowers and another with Paula Jones and probably others. But Mrs. Clinton had a presidency to save and her own political future to think about so there wasn’t a lot of time to think about a 22-year-old young woman who had been taken advantage of by the most powerful man in the universe. Feminism and all the implications of what it really means to defend the rights of women and that whole glass ceiling business would have to wait.

In public Hillary played the victim. She appealed to viewers of the Today Show on her husband’s behalf, blaming the “vast right wing conspiracy” for all the scandals plaguing his presidency.

Behind the scenes, Hillary was the mean girl.

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What 2 Retired Whores Can Teach Slut-Walk Feminists

Monday, October 20th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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A story about two old Jewish ladies is making the rounds in the Jewish press, but not for the reasons you may think. Sure, they’re bubbes. They’re children of a Holocaust survivor to boot. But the real reason they’re attracting so much attention is that they happen to be retired professional whores.

Dutch twins Louise and Martine Fokkens (probably not their real last name, since “Fokken” is a Dutch term for “old whore”) have become international celebrities since the 2011 release of their biographical documentary Meet the Fokkens. Women’s magazines like Cosmo picked up on their story shortly after the film’s release, publishing quick little details like:

Louise and Martine (mothers of four and three respectively) became prostitutes before the age of 20 in order to escape violent relationships.

It’s an interpretation that, at best, qualifies as a half-truth. Louise was forced into the sex trade by an abusive husband. Martine, however, became a prostitute out of spite:

Martine followed her sister into the trade, working first as a cleaning lady at brothels before she began turning tricks herself. “I was angry at how everybody around us shunned Louise,” Martine said. “I did it out of spite, really.”

Both women eventually divorced their husbands, whom they now describe as “a couple of pimps.” But they continued working in the district “because that had become our lives,” Louise said.

“Our life in the business became a source of pride, a sport of sorts,” Louise added.

In retrospect, both women say they regret becoming prostitutes.

Reading their story, one can’t help but wonder if mainstream feminist advocates for slut walks and “Yes Means Yes” legislation would condemn the pair for regretting the life they chose. After all, their body, their choice, right? They took control of their bad marriages, divorced the husbands they referred to as “pimps” and chose, fully of their own volition, to remain in the sex trade after their exes were fully out of the picture. Martine and Louise, it would seem, are the originators of the Slut Walk.

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How 8 Songs from the ’90s Define Third-Wave Feminism

Friday, October 17th, 2014 - by Amelia Hamilton

Editor’s Note: See part I here in Amelia Hamilton’s series exploring the transformations in feminist history and ideology: The Relevant and the Ridiculous: A Guide Through Feminist History

The third wave of feminism got started in the 1990s as a reaction against the second wave fought by their mothers (both figuratively and, sometimes, literally). There were some central tenets at the heart of third-wave feminism, and they can be illustrated in contemporary music. Join me on a walk through ’90s music, and the ways in which these songs illustrate third-wave feminist ideals.

1. Third-wave feminism went beyond legal equality for women, but empowered women to fight for other social issues as well.

One key way in which third-wave feminism differed from earlier waves was that it wasn’t just about women. Take, for example, the Third Wave Direct Action Corporation, founded in 1992. One of the founders was Rebecca Walker, daughter of second-wave feminist Alice Walker. In 1997, the group became the Third Wave Foundation, and was not only dedicated to traditional women’s rights issues, but worked to “explicitly connect women’s issues to issues of race, sexuality, class, and ability.” This was bigger than simply legal equality for women.

Arrested Development’s “Mama’s Always on Stage” (1992)

Key lyrics:

Mama’s always on stage

Can’t be a revolution without women

Can’t be a revolution without children

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The Wasted Women of Star Trek, Part 2: Deanna Troi

Thursday, October 16th, 2014 - by Ash Freeman

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See The Wasted Women of Star Trek, Part 1: Tasha Yar

Oh, Deanna… where to start?

Deanna Troi is often thought of as a relic of the feel-good, new-agey late 1980s. Although the necessity for psychological treatment is imperative to military personnel who suffer from trauma, Troi’s role was more or less a shoulder to cry on when she wasn’t stating the obvious. Or being forcibly impregnated. Or raped, mentally or physically. Pretty much every crappy thing you could do to a female character, Troi had it happen to her, besides being killed outright.

While also being “fanservice.” Wikipedia:

Fan service (ファンサービス fan sābisu), fanservice, or service cut (サービスカット sābisu katto), is a term originating from anime and manga fandom for material in a series which is intentionally added to please the audience. It is about “servicing” the fan - giving the fans “exactly what they want”. Fan service usually refers to “gratuitous titillation“, but can also refer to intertextual references to other series.

Dead Troi

No, wait, they killed her in the alternate future of “All Good Things…”. Crap.

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