I wish feminists gave as much “what to do” advice as they gave “what not to do” advice…

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… without some sort of framework to determine appropriateness, the male listeners may be left to conclude the advice only really applies to the speakers, and not generalizable, especially in light of the fact that not EVERY woman is constantly terrified.

Because without a “how to,” then we’re left to conclude sex and relationships just won’t happen because girls won’t ever initiate.

And it’s sad because I GET why women are terrified in some situations over others, and why some situations are inappropriate because of uneven power distance, but I can ALWAYS imagine coming off creepy to some women. It’s always in the back of my head that it’s a possibility but I know what I want from my life and I have to TRY otherwise it’s never going to happen at all. I HAVE to make mistakes and learn from them because no one’s just going to look at me and try to get to know me just because I exist. And I’m a human being with wants and needs and… dreams.

But I just find it especially interesting in light of the fact that on SO many levels it’s not something women generally have to think about, even if she’s unattractive it’s generally not going to be the case that she has to worry about THREATENING someone just by talking to them. Not to a guy OR to a woman. And they generally don’t absolutely HAVE to try to talk to anyone for a sex or a relationship to happen. If you just go about your business, eventually you can just respond positively when your finally in the right frame of mind.
And if they decide to talk to people, they don’t have to worry about being threatening to men OR women.

I don’t know what it’s like for gay guys, I suspect it varies. But I think it might be similar as far as fellow gay guys are concerned, not too much to worry from each other unless… specific reason to feel threatened.

Men and women are in a unique situation.

Bottom line, we’re going to have to put our heads together about this.
But the people with the list of “Do not”s aren’t going to come up with anything because they frankly don’t have to.
I don’t think it’s ever going to be within their collective frame of reference until several generations.
Or unless they start doing feminist campaigns for women to make the first move in dating/ propose to guys/ etc.

Best advice I can give is try to find as many different stories about men successfully talking to women for the first time from her POV and try to find repeatable patterns in context and content of interaction. (I wonder if there’s a blog about this, or if I or someone else could make one.)

Then find a theory to predict positive response.

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Your Own Daughter!?

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I’ve been asked before, “Would you want your daughter to grow up to be a prostitute? ”

I think it’s worth answering considering I’ve stated in other channels that I’m in favor of legalization.

Right now, the answer to that question is a resounding “NO.” That may sound hypocritical, but here’s why I say that:

The key word here is “want.”
I wouldn’t want my daughter to be in ANY situation that presents a significant danger to her health, happiness, or well being.
I wouldn’t want to be the one to constantly worry about her well-being.
Assuming she’s not being forced against her will, or drugged…
The working conditions for people in that line of work are atrocious, and society offers very little protection for them. She’s likely to be beaten and taken advantage of physically and financially. Not to mention the emotional toll, most of society looks down on them as either evil or dupes, and will not approve.
And/or imprisoned… for example I’m all for weed legalization too, but I don’t want any kids of mine going to prison for it. That’s a whole new batch of worriment.
Obviously I wouldn’t WANT that for any kid of mine.

Of course I’d feel the same way if my kid grew up to work in a sweatshop, became a political prisoner, got involved in a relationship with someone emotionally unstable, if my son became an altar boy, or if my daughter joined the military. This is the reality right now.

At the same time I’d like to make strides away from this reality, but it will be this way for some time. None of those things HAVE to be the reality for people in these situation, but they are. I think things should be better for people who do these things, but they aren’t. I’d like to be in place where I didn’t have to worry about these things. This is NOT that place…

…but it could be.

Sexualization

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So let me get this straight:
When men measure their own self-worth by their sexual competence, then women are reduced to sexual capitol… okay, sure.

And when they measure a woman’s worth by her sexual competence, then she’s being reduced to a sex objection… sure, whatever.

if THIS is wrong… then let me ask:
What objective basis do we have for determining the right or wrong way to measure human worth?

What is the RIGHT way, then?

Money? Athletic prowess? Contribution to society? Job title? Level of education? Their ability to make you laugh? How well they adhere to your concept of morality?
Whatever you decide you run into a similar and different set of problems.

Wouldn’t we be better off scrapping the concept of esteem altogether?

Privilege

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       “The smallest minority on earth is the individual.” –Ayn Rand

 

In the context of the rest of Ayn Rand’s teachings, this was to run parallel to the idea that the individual should be held in consideration above all else. She was of the idea that institutionalized equality necessarily kept the able in chains, stifling their progress. On the contrary, I believe the strength of the enlightened individual can generate tectonic shifts in the world directly around him, for ill or for good, once he realizes the society is a brick house of individuals. I don’t like Ayn Rand’s teachings; I wouldn’t quote her unless it was extremely important.

 

When division is present, privilege will always be subjective. America may be one of the most prosperous nations, but we’re also one of the least happy, unappreciative, close-minded, and insulated nations. If truth is the greatest virtue, then isn’t the one who possesses it privileged regardless of how long he lives, how he makes ends meet, etc. With an optimist’s eyes, there can be an advantage to just about anything.

Now when I say these things, I do not mean to say oppression is non-existent. It’s a real pervasive force within a society and between individuals. However, oppression can never be eradicated if it goes mis-identified. I am not of the belief that societal division necessarily equates oppression. Real oppression, I believe, is precisely the “exaggerated” model initially presented in “The 5 Faces of Oppression.” That model of the conquered having the others will involuntarily imposed upon it. Such a state, or state of being, is the only truly, absolute non-privilege.

 

I am not in such a state, but I’ve felt marginalized my whole life. I am an alien, somehow, someway, though my parents love me, they are relatively socially retarded. The basic hi, bye, please, thank you, excuse me was all gotten to a T. What else was there? I sometimes joke, I’ve FELT alienated, but Clark Kent actually IS an alien. Imagine how he felt.

 

However, in my later years, understanding the mechanisms behind my lifelong frustrations have left me immune to their assigned power. Free to chose or deny that power at will. One of the few things my mother taught me that I hold close to this day, is that a culture can be wrong. Cultural rules reflect underlying assumptions about the nature of reality. Just as I am under no obligation to obey an unjust, written law, same can be said for unwritten ones.

 

It’s also put me in a very unique position to play with the old tropes in creative and exciting ways.

I have been the subject of racism before in my kindergarten years. Fellow student. I didn’t quake in my boots at the prospect of being put down, nor did I boil over in some Pavlovian response. My child’s mind just dismissed the stupidity of the event. Now that I have historical context in my adulthood, I wouldn’t have had myself react any other way.

 

My general deprivation of companionship had nothing to do with my race, class, gender, religion, age, sexuality, location, level of education, language, or marital status. (One could make the argument that my relationship status was a result of the other things.) I have been put in my position because I’m an individual, and for no other reason. Not as a black man, but as a person.

It’s been a privilege.

My “letter” to DC about Wonder Woman, Supergirl, and Apocalypse (that I finally sent electronically)

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Hello, my name is Daniel Ballow and today I’d like to talk to you about sexism. Especially regarding the release of Superman/Batman: Apocalypse. (Or as it should have been called, “Superman/Batman: Supergirl.”)
Before I continue I’d like to give some background information:

I do not readily identify myself as a “feminist,” but I am a gender egalitarian and opposed to sexism. I believe holding onto our fixed gendered perspective and focusing on what separates us, and what has been separating us is a barrier to true gender equality. I believe modern feminism often sabotages itself in this regard.

I believe that something is only a gender issue when the person performing the action or the observer contextualizes it as such. There is almost always an explanation for things that don’t necessarily have anything to do with these things.

I’m not one to cry “objectification” whenever artists tend to fall into the tendency to “idealize” female heroes. Most living creatures sexual objects alongside whatever else we are, and it would be dehumanizing to mask that fact (though this does not excuse nonsensical renderings, and poses that serve no storytelling purpose. I’d chalk that up to “bad storytelling, not sexism).

I give this context to set up that I firmly believe that something is only a gender issue when it is contextualized as such, and I am decidedly hesitant to label something as “sexist” for the aforementioned reason. But in spite of all of this, the more I thought about the title of Superman/Batman: Apocalypse, the more I realized how undeniably sexist this name-change was, and how it would be hypocritical of me not to object to it.

Superman/Batman: Supergirl (I read the story in paperback form) is one of my favorite Superman stories of all time. As far as I am currently aware, the original storyline aptly titled “The Supergirl from Krypton” sold very well, as well as the trade paperback. (Be sure to respond with any contrary data so my disappointment will subside, please.)

It was exciting news that the Superman/Batman: Public Enemies movie would be followed up by an adaptation of the “The Supergirl from Krypton.” But it was a peculiar move to name the movie “Apocalypse.” The movie itself was stellar, featured one of the best-animated fight sequences of all time with (ironically) Wonder Woman. The adaption from the source material was true to the spirit of the source material, so why the name change?

According to a newsarma interview:

“I think the main reason why they didn’t call this piece Supergirl is because for some reason the Wonder Woman home video that we made, which was very, very good and filled with (fe)male* characters, didn’t sell well,” she told us. “And so marketing people said, female titled pieces don’t sell well. So this is a female piece, it’s got a very strong feminine character in it but they called it Superman/Batman: Apocalypse just to get people to come into the video stores and buy them.”

http://www.newsarama.com/film/superman-batman-apocalypse-interviews-100929.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed:+Newsaramasite+%28Newsarama.com%29

I spoke with my father about this some time ago before writing this. He asserted that chauvinism wasn’t the motive behind the name change, and that the decision was of pure monetary motivation. I would not argue that the decision was sexist, but the thought process behind the decision was sexist. Because according to the marketing people’s assertion, “female titles don’t sell.”

It became sexist when gender was contextualized as the reason behind Wonder Woman’s less-than-ideal sales. They made this a gender issue, and I will call them out for doing so.

According to www.the-numbers.com, the “consumer spending for Wonder Woman was listed as $6,974,613. Batman: Gotham Knight was listed as $8,059,255. Superman: Doomsday was listed as $9,442,880.

At face value, this data would back up their claim, but there are other reasons for this.
First, the Batman animated movies were riding off the success of the ’89 film all the way to the Joel Shoemaker movie, the award winning animated series (airing around the time I was first cognizant, contributing to me becoming the DC fan I am today), The Batman, and Batman Beyond.
When you generate movies and television shows in such a way, it generates nostalgia for young viewers. You create “comfortable memories” associated with the character.

Superman has the success of the Richard Donner/Christopher Reeve film series, The Lois and Clark tv show, Superman the Animated Series, Superman Returns, and Smallville.

If you look closely, there is a direct correlation between the success of the animated movies and the legion of fans generated by different media.

Wonder Woman has not had a solo television series since 1979. To expect her animated movie to perform as well as Gotham Knight or Doomsday is like asking Batman to rely only on the success of the Adam West tv show. There are not many young fans left that have grown up with Wonder Woman outside of her “Superfriends” and “Justice League” appearances.

Wonder Woman has not had an award-winning animated series, another animated series, a romantic comedy, a primetime drama, a beloved classic that’s generated more comic book writers than any other, or a highly successful reboot.
She’s only had her solo comic book series for decades, and Lynda Carter. On that alone, however, the sales of her animated movie outsold Green Lantern: First Flight ($6,070,921), Justice League: The New Frontier ($5,232,076), Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths ($5,220,061), Batman: Under The Red Hood ($6,656,692), and Superman/Batman: Apocalypse ($5,847,410).

Superman/Batman: Public Enemies had the advantage of featuring both Superman and Batman, making it to ($7,996,266). Yet, that by itself apparently was not enough to guarantee the success of the sequel. “Supergirl” was consciously removed from the title because “girls don’t sell.”
(That’s right… the Catwoman film featuring Halle Berry movie did poorly because she’s a woman…*)
*Sarcastic.

The title of the project was affectively changed on a dubious, gender biased decision.
How could you let this happen?
The title was not “just changed.” A poor business decision was made. Not everyone knows Supergirl even exists. The potential, interest in the origin of this prospective character may have been lost because the title
As it is, a passive observer might interpret:
a) a vague reference to the Fourth World by Jack Kirby, something that even less people know about, or…
b) indicating the name of another disaster movie.
I was fishing through back issues one day, as a couple walking into a comic book store for the first time, apparently. The girl was presently surprised by the amount of female heroes there were (as she should be). Then remarked at astonishment, that a “Super-woman” existed (referring to the Supergirl statue she was eyeing.)

The thing that upsets me more than sexism is hypocrisy. I would prefer to think that DC comics to take the principles their beloved icons fight for very seriously.

I’m not asking anyone’s resignation.
I would like this letter, or the summarized contents thereof, to be drilled into the skulls of whoever is responsible for this.
I would like some kind of public indicator that this ought not to have happened at all.
I want nothing like this to EVER happen again.

Sincerely,
-Daniel