Social Issues

stuff I’ve been into: May edition


Hookup culture is bad for women– so why do we force ourselves to participate?” by Leah Fessler was interesting to read. I’d add the two thoughts: “hookup culture” is a little overblown in the general imagination. It exists, but the research says it’s made too much of. However, I’ve talked about a related concept– raunch culture– and my problems with it, so I think the criticism Leah makes is valid. Second thought: she talks about how women are “emotional,” but doesn’t ever clarify what she means so it plays into the “women are emotional, but men aren’t” stereotype, even though her research indicated that men wanted intimacy and commitment just as often as the women.

Stop Trying to Choke Me: The Rise of Rough Sex Culture” by Rose Surnow was thought-provoking. I have a nuanced view of pornography– I think porn could, theoretically, be a good thing if it is ethically made and treats human beings with dignity. However, that’s not often the reality and I’m troubled by the thought that people are being exposed to the relentless degradation of women when they consume porn.

Service Work is Skilled Work” by Hanna Olsen is fascinating. I’ve been reading a lot about the future of America’s labor force and I think we’re going to experience … no one seems to have any clear idea of what but all signs are pointing toward something big. I’m firmly convinced that trying to bring back manufacturing is both fruitless and problematic– the men and women building our cars in Mexico are making $10 an hour, and that’s a “good job” for them. Why do we feel the right to take back that labor from them so we can pay our manufacturers here $30-50 an hour? I’m very much feeling a Workers of the world, unite! sentiment, and for that we need both free trade and to change our perceptions of “burger flippers” here at home.

The High Cost of Low Teacher Salaries” by Dave Eggers and Níneve Clements Calegari got a bunch of fist-pumping from me. As an education major, I once had to read a book that advocated paying teachers the minimum wage and specifically hiring married women so you could justify paying them less, I shit you not. One of my peers qualified for food stamps during the years she taught. That’s not ok.

Why Do We Give Robots Female Names?” by Laurie Penny was good. So good. Read it. It’s really stuck with me.

Re-examining Monica, Marica, Tonya and Anita, the ‘scandalous’ women of the 90s” by Sarah Marshall was fantastic and a little bit mind-boggling. I was a kid during the 90s– I was 13 when they ended– so everything I absorbed about these women’s stories was the extremely tricked-down version. It’s amazing to me how much hate and misogyny I inherited through hearing about them … especially concerning Tonya Harding, who I knew the most about because I was figure skating-obsessed as a teenager.


I stayed up all night last week to finish Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard. The magic concept is essentially a good way to start discussing race, segregation, civil rights … and I don’t want to spoil too much so let me just say that there’s also an amazing jumping-off point to talk about problems with a certain kind of “ally.” It wasn’t the most amazing book I’d ever read, but it was interesting and entertaining.

I just started A People’s History of Christianity by Diana Butler Bass is a variation on a theme that Howard Zinn started with A People’s History of the United States. Christianity isn’t a monolith, and never has been. “Orthodoxy,” for all it means “having the right opinion” isn’t the same thing as truth, which no one person has an absolute claim on.

Television and Movies

Still re-watching The West Wing, still loving it especially now that Sam is off in California. Interestingly, I”m tending to agree less with CJ, too, who tends to have a narrow focus. Yes, the young pianist should be allowed asylum, but it’s not like trying to make sure North Korea doesn’t sell its nukes to Iran is bad.

We’re also really enjoying the second season of The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. We’ve discovered that it’s better if you don’t binge-watch it … it’s much more hilarious in smaller doses.

I have also watched Star Wars: The Force Awakens two more times since I saw it in the theater, and I think I love it more now, which I wasn’t sure was possible.

If you haven’t seen Madam Secretary, the season just finished and I’m enthralled. I can’t wait for it to start up again because TWIST. Yay. I love good twists instead of heart-shattering ones. Speaking of heart-shattering twists …

Anyone who’s seen the season finale of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. I’d be more than happy to have a spoilerific conversation in the comment section because FEELINGS.

Also, Elementary is still fantastic. Femme!Watson is still the best damn thing on television.


So basically I ran errands for much of today but didn’t want to leave you hanging, especially since there won’t be a post on Friday. My cousin is graduating high school, so we’re heading up to hang out with family for the weekend.

Photo by Jon S
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  • Lee Hauser

    Spoilers, right? SPOILERS BELOW.

    I was *so* afraid they were going to kill Daisy last night. I blinked during her vision earlier in the season, so I wasn’t sure at first that following the cross around was supposed to keep us on the edges of our seats. I wasn’t happy lose anyone, but losing Lincoln was the least of many evils (I missed all of last season due to night school, so he wasn’t as important to me). I love how they’ve managed to keep the core cast alive, except for maybe Ward/Hive (never say never).

    Daisy has always been the heart of the show for me, more than Coulson, the wonderfully ass-kicking May, or Fitz/Simmons. Daisy’s journey has been the most interesting, the most fraught, and… well, I would probably have stopped watching if she was killed off.

    The hint of next season is…interesting. So many changes, and it all seems to revolve around Daisy, again.

    Seconding the awesomeness of femme!Watson. Lucy Liu is a goddess.

    • I would’ve burned something down if they killed Mack.

      • m. castleberry

        Agreed! If I could upvote this 99 more times, I would.

    • Kennedy

      I definitely think this is one of those shows that was approved for the white lead (in this case, Coulson) and actually intended to be the story of one of the other characters- for AoS, it’s Daisy. Her origin story. And she finally got her name (QUAKE!!), so I’m super excited for that. I wasn’t too scared for her in the finale for that reason- she’s the driving force of the show. If she did die, it wouldn’t have stuck!

      I read a great meta (on tumblr I think) about how now she’s kind of back to where she was in season 1- not attached to anyone, searching for meaning and purpose- only now she knows who she is and what she is capable of. That’s an interesting place to start a new season.

      Also, someone else I follow thinks season four will be “mad science” themed, with Radcliffe as the jumping off point. I studied transhumanism pretty in depth for a class I took last year, so I’m fascinated by the potential that holds for the story.

      I love Fitzsimmons. Maybe because I relate to Jemma so much. I am so happy they are finally canon, and both made it through the finale unscathed for once!!

      And I also would have rebelled if either Mack or Elena died. I can’t wait too see where they go! 🙂 “Turtle man” and yoyo^_^ They bring me joy.

      • Lee Hauser

        I think the show was created, in part, because the fandom (and perhaps the universe itself) insisted that Coulson be put *somewhere.* But it was quickly apparent that it was going to be an ensemble show.

        I was afraid for Daisy simply because too many shows kill off beloved characters. Chloe Bennett made some comments last weekend that indicated Marvel movie developments effect the TV show, but the TV show has no effect on the movies, which tends to frustrate the TV cast. Clark Gregg has said recently that the advent of a new movie, combined with the appearance of suits on the set, always makes everyone nervous. They never know what kind of impact a movie is going to have on them.

        In some ways, I am in the same situation with Mack as I was with Lincoln — I missed too much of the previous season. But I like Mack much more than I ever liked Lincoln, so losing him would have been hard, too. And, obviously, devastating to Elena!

        Any thoughts on Ward/Hive/whoever being somehow resurrected? I’d hate to lose Brett Dalton’s talents.

        • Kennedy

          I’m with you on the impact that the films have on the show.

          And truthfully, I was surprised they killed off Hive so easily! He was a good villain, and Brett is so well loved that I expected them to keep him around for at least part of another season. I was also expecting the tag/post credit scene to be Hive somehow escaping the explosion. But I think they’re taking the show in a whole new direction, and I doubt that Brett will come back, which is really sad.

  • TheBrett

    3. That’s a good article. It reminds me of how manufacturing jobs used to be “unskilled”/”bad” jobs too – in fact, IIRC the starting wage that Walter Reuther (the founder of the UAW) got working for an auto company was comparable to a McDonalds worker’s wage today after adjusting for inflation. If making those service sector jobs leads to more automation, then even that might be good because more productivity means more potential income that can be paid out as wages (as with manufacturing).

    Or at least I hope so, since manufacturing jobs worldwide are shrinking in number. Even the poor countries don’t have as many of them as they used to, which is troubling – we don’t know of any other way for poor countries to successfully get rich since the early 20th century.

    11. Maybe I was just having a bad day, but when I went and saw the movie a second time in a dollar theater, I couldn’t get through it. It got to the part where Han shows up and everything from there felt like it was crawling in terms of pacing. I liked it the first time I saw it, too, although I thought it was “good not great”.

  • Rose

    Wasn’t that Re-examining article FASCINATING? I admit I actually don’t remember anything that went down with Tanya Harding in real time, and I did figure skate as a kid!

  • I have Feelings about Elementary, particularly how Joan has been treated by the writers since S1, and they’re not good. (Short version: I started out as a fan, watched every week. I watched only one episode this past season. That said, still kinda protective of the show, because reasons.)

  • keefanda

    I hope the following is not too much, Samantha, but since you addressed the topic:

    Whether we like it or not, Internet porn is here to stay. There’s a saying: Adapt or die. Christianity, even progressive Christianity, obviously needs to adapt. Since it can be said that there’s such a thing as a distinction between more vs. less healthy sexuality, perhaps one way to adapt is to follow what seems to be your lead, which is to promote that, if porn is to be made and used, only that which celebrates more healthy sexuality should be made and used.

    Here are some articles that might challenge some, and so my apologies in advance, but these articles report what much of science seems to say. This science seems to say that if we allow conservative or fundamentalist ideas and attitudes dominate the discussion on porn, we allow unnecessary harm. That is, it’s actually the conservative or fundamentalist ideas and attitudes about porn that are more of a problem and causing more harm than the porn itself:

    “Porn Is Not the Problem-You Are”
    “Complaining about the dangers of porn distracts from personal responsibility.”


    “Here’s some often-ignored empirical science about porn – as societies have increased their access to porn, rates of sex crimes, including exhibitionism, rape and child abuse, have gone down. (See the work of Milton Diamond) Across the world, and in America, as men have increased ability to view Internet erotica, sex crimes go down. Believe it or not – porn is good for society. This is correlational data, but it is extremely robust, repeated research. But, it is not a message that many people want to hear. Individuals may not like porn, but our society loves it, and benefits from it.”

    “”Pornography Addiction:” Science or Naked Rhetoric?”
    “Debate growing over pornography’s role in life problems”


    “In a scathing new critique in Current Sexual Health Reports, authors David Ley and colleagues challenge the scientific basis for the sexual addiction industry. They argue that the pathologization of visual sexual stimuli (VSS), as they prefer to call it, reflects religious and moral values rather than science.”

    “Of relevance to forensic practice, there is some evidence that pornography viewing may reduce risky sexual behaviors, especially among individuals who report high levels of sexual sensation-seeking.”

    “Watching Porn Is OK. Believing In Porn Addiction Is Not”
    (Porn addiction isn’t a real disorder, but the belief in it certainly is-and can make you anxious, depressed, and angry.)


    “A new study in the journal Psychology of Addictive Behaviors has found that perceived addiction to pornography-that is, “feeling addicted to Internet pornography irrespective of actual pornography use”-is associated with forms of psychological distress including depression, anxiety, anger, and stress. Pornography use itself, the authors found, was “relatively unrelated to psychological distress.”

    In other words, porn addiction may not be real but believing in pornography addiction could be associated with-and may even contribute to-genuine psychological problems.”

    • spacegal2003

      This kind of stuff is interesting, because it seems like porn is either accepted as totally fine or completely demonized, and I can’t seem to make up my mind about it. Obviously the exploitive nature of the industry is bad, but it can be done in a consensual way. But does it then turn women into objects that exist solely for men’s pleasure? Or does it allow men who would think that anyway an outlet for those thoughts that doesn’t harm other women?

  • Jewelfox

    Have you ever played the (free) visual novel Cute Demon Crashers? It’s a shining example of what porn could be if it prioritized women’s feelings and consent. You play as a woman, you get to know the characters first, you are allowed to say “no” or “stop” at any time, and the “no sex” ending is cute. ^^

    I used it as personal therapy, to help get over my purity (and raunch) culture shame. Apparently I’m not alone in needing more positive messages, about sex and women’s bodies.