Cynthia Nixon, the actress from the show "Sex and the City," has announced that she will go on a hunger strike in front of the White House as a protest of Israel's bombing of Gaza.
It's not going to be any hunger strike. Oh no! It's going to be a hunger strike for TWO WHOLE DAYS!
Okay, now call me an old curmudgeon, but my impression has always been that hunger strikes actually have to have an element of risk to them. Like, "I will literally die of hunger if this objective is not met." That's the whole point of their effectiveness. When highly charismatic people like Mahatma Gandhi went on a hunger strike in the 1930s to protest the British separating India's electoral system by caste, it was effective. Gandhi was putting his life on the line in good faith, knowing that people would be concerned enough about him to put pressure on the UK. And even if his hunger strike did not work, Gandhi was willing to die for his cause. That is the root of what makes a hunger strike effective: the willingness to give your life for your goal.
Cynthia Nixon on the other hand is doing.... what exactly? A two day juice cleanse?
Let's listen to what she has to say in her own words.
“We are here hunger-striking just to sort of mirror to [President] Biden the kind of deprivation that is happening in Gaza and how he has it within his power to make a ceasefire happen,” Nixon said at the rally, according to Time and Times of Israel. “None of this is normal. None of this is routine and none of this can be allowed to continue.”
And to Cynthia Nixon all I can say is: Please don't. Please don't. There is nothing more empty than a rich woman carrying out a performative hunger strike. It doesn't help the Palestinians to see a Hollywood actress carry out a glorified coconut water detox by choice. It is sheer buffoonery for lawmakers to join Nixon in a hunger strike "for up to five days" according to the Hollywood Reporter.
Girl, how is this helping people in Gaza exactly? It's almost like you're rubbing it in their faces that you have food and water and power and and wealth and comfort and you're performatively giving up a portion of that for a delicate two day period because.... you're bored? You want clout? You see the trauma of a nauseatingly complicated geopolitical situation as an opportunity to elevate yourself?
Cynthia Nixon has wealth and she could have used that wealth to help refugees arriving in this country find housing and find jobs. There are refugee aid organizations everywhere that always need volunteers. The problem is that letting an immigrant family stay in your house, tutoring refugee children and spending hours driving around delivering food is hard, unglamorous work. It is easier to participate in an ostentatious, limited fast or make endless Tiktok videos than to actually help refugees and those who have suffered from war.
Let us not fall into the trap of using overseas horror to boost our social media profiles while pretending we are merely "raising awareness" or "speaking out."
There have been enough words. Words only help to a limited extent. Unless you are feeding, housing or giving tangible material help to those who are less fortunate, your beneficial impact on this world is very small indeed.
Beijing, according to Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI), has a "magic weapon." This magic weapon seeks "to influence the American people and interfere in democratic societies."
Well, let me cut to the chase. I can tell you right now without reading the report put together by the Select House Committee on China that Beijing's "magic weapon" is probably TikTok.
At the risk of sounding precious, I have to say that TikTok is TikToxic. I have been watching over the past few years, mouth agape, how rapidly TikTok makes people stupid and unkind. The way that TikTok erodes our empathy by elevating people who talk about the joys of "setting boundaries" and "cutting ties with families" while insisting that the world conform to their own extremely tailored sense of identity is alarming.
Any quick scroll on TikTok shows masses of videos decrying Israelis settling on Palestinian land and how Thanksgiving whitewashed indigenous genocide.... and yet not one TikTok influencer described volunteering at a local reservation or North American indigenous organization. TikTok virtue is not real-life virtue. The loud morality of the average TikTok user is confined to the heavily-filtered camera lens.
I do understand that the majority of TikTok users are adolescents and adolescents are generally jerks. Their brains have not really developed enough to cultivate empathy on a large scale and of course teens have not lived life long enough to understand the day-to-day sacrifices we must make to have society function. THAT being said, I have written about seeing adult friends with advanced degrees fall down TikTok rabbit holes involving anti-Semitism, "self-diagnosed autism" and anti-vaccine conspiracies.
That rant over, let's go back to why TikTok is Beijing's "magic weapon."
In 2016, the Kremlin revealed the awesome power that social media holds as a psychological weapon. Russia, by using social media, managed to pull off the impossible: electing Donald Trump as president. This was done, according many exhaustive post-mortems later, as a result of Russian intelligence using Facebook and Twitter to influence public opinion against Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election.
China saw what Russia was able to pull off seven years ago and immediately leapt into action. China, through a private Beijing-based company Bytedance, put together a more addictive punchier social media platform to help influence Americans. This new platform, TikTok, involved an attractive video app that showcased dancing, eye-catching captions, filters that made anyone look like a supermodel, and fun "trends" that could maybe make you famous. More importantly, TikTok videos were short-form media content. TikTok videos were not allowed to be longer than a minute or so. TikTok videos addressing complex political issues couldn't afford to be nuanced and had to be condensed down to punchier, more polarizing one-minute segments.
By limiting time on videos, TikTok became a breeding ground for conspiracies. Unlike Facebook or Youtube or Medium, platforms that had no limit when it came to how much content a user could post at one time, TikTok was more the video form of Twitter: a toxic stew of character-limited synthetic indignation.
TikTok was Twitter on steroids.
In 2022, Beijing decided to give their new election-interference machine a spin and see how well TikTok could interfere in American elections. China has had its eye on Taiwan for a long time, but China is aware that any invasion of Taiwan will trigger an American response, which would be devastating. China's best bet at this point is to hope for a Trump victory in the 2024 US election. Trump has already hinted that he would not interfere in any Chinese-led action against Taiwan, while Biden has pledged American support for Taiwan.
China followed the Russia 2016 playbook to influence the US 2022 midterm elections and boost Trump-approved Congressional candidates. Using TikTok, Beijing targeted core Democratic voter groups for Democrats and tried to drive down voter turnout by attaching Democrats to highly misogynistic trans activist groups. TikTok boosted trans influencers, especially trans influencers that deliberately posted polarizing content. Fringe trans activists and their allies who demanded that women erase their own gender, allow biological males into their sports, and accept the most appalling drag queen-like acts as "real women" were often rewarded by TikTok with high views. In this way Beijing hoped that middle-aged feminists, usually reliable voters for Democrats, would stay away from the polls in disgust. When Biden met with misogynistic TikTok clown Dylan Mulvaney Beijing must have been ecstatic.
The strategy backfired. Middle-aged feminists, already appalled by the overturning of Roe v. Wade, did not let their disgust over Dylan Mulvaney deter them from voting for Democrats in droves in the 2022 midterms. More dismaying for Beijing was that their pro-trans TikTok trends actually charged up younger voters, a demographic that very rarely votes in American midterm elections, to go to the polls in 2022 and vote overwhelmingly Democrat. Democrats, with the unexpected help of younger voters, defied historical midterm trends and helped retain (and flip) several valuable governors seats in strategic states while also keeping the Senate.
It would be fair to say that Beijing was dismayed. They have clearly gone back to the drawing board.
Now, with the 2022 midterms one year in the past and the 2024 general election looming large in everyone's mind, Beijing is revving up its TikTok engines again. Instead of boosting misogynistic trans ideology again (Dylan Mulvaney's star has distinctly faded over the past few months) Beijing has fallen on a more traditional tactic: Hate the Jews.
After Hamas militants from the Gaza strip killed 1200 Israelis in the largest mass murder of Jews since the Holocaust, the far right Israeli government led by Netanyahu has led a bombing campaign of extraordinary brutality against Gaza. Isreal Defense Forces have used widespread bombing tactics in a tightly compacted area the size of New Jersey. Israel has been broadly criticized internationally for allowing too many civilian casualties to occur. Biden, who is staunchly pro-Israel, has stood by Netanyahu. TikTok pounced, elevating pro-Palestinian and even pro-Hamas talking points on their platforms. The anti-Semitic catchphrase "From the river to the sea" celebrating the complete eradication of the country of Israel has been boosted across the TikTok platform. Within the space of a month, Biden's approval among young voters has plummeted 15 points. People have been demanding a ceasefire between Israel and Gaza, while Israel has made it clear that there will be no ceasefire until Hamas is completely destroyed.
So far TikTok's elevation of pro-Hamas videos on their platform (as well as generally badly-sourced "woke" talking points about colonization, blood-libel, Jews, Islam and Osama Bin Laden) appears to have done better than Dylan Mulvaney in putting a bite in Biden's approval ratings. Will it hold though? What happens if there is an eventual ceasefire? What happens when Israel and Gaza go back to the general slow simmer of hatred without outright hostilities? Young voters may move on and remember that they're still angry at Roe v. Wade being repealed. Older voters, placated by lower gas prices (and weary of more Trumpism), may return to Biden by next November. Eleven months is an eternity in politics, after all and you don't grow old in Washington DC without knowing how to play the game. And Biden is very old indeed.
Alfred Hitchcock made two versions of The Man Who Knew Too Much. The plots of both movies are basically the same. In each movie a stolid English-speaking couple has their child kidnapped after the husband learns of an assassination plan against a foreign dignitary.
Each movie has an iconic climax scene in a massive concert hall. The assassin is supposed to kill a politician (Hungarian in the 1934 version, from an unnamed country in the 1956 version) during a moment in the concert where there is a massive crash in cymbals. The cymbal crash is supposed to mask the gunshot, allowing the assassin time for a clean getaway before people realize that the politician is dead.
The 1934 movie starts with British tourist Jill Lawrence (Edna Best) competing in a sharpshooting contest with creepy assassin Ramon Levine (Frank Vosper). Levine makes a pass at Lawrence. She rebuffs him. Levine then allows his pocket watch to chime at the moment Lawrence takes aim at a clay pigeon, causing her to miss. She loses the contest but remains friendly, suggesting to Levine that they may compete again one day in a sharpshooting contest.
Jill Lawrence in the 1934 film is a great example of stiff-upper-lip early 20th century feminism. She is a deadly shot with a gun. She matches men in any competition, whether it be shooting or exchanging witticisms. Her marriage with her husband is clearly an equal partnership. She even stops the assassination attempt at the movie’s climax. Lawrence screams at the opportune moment during the concert so Levine (the assassin charged with killing the minister) misses his shot. The moment is a call back (of course) to the first scene where Levine deliberately distracts Lawrence when she tries to take her shot in the sharpshooting contest.
The film does not end there. Lawrence’s adolescent daughter Betty has been kidnapped by Levine and his associate Abbott (Peter Lorre, who frankly stole the whole damn film). After the assassination plot fails police officers surround the kidnappers’ hideout. Levine tries to kill Betty but Betty scrambles out through a window. Levine follows Betty onto the roof, his gun drawn. The police officer on the ground takes aim at Levine but he doesn’t dare pull the trigger for fear of accidentally hitting Betty. Lawrence grabs the gun from the trembling officer and she shoots Levine dead.
Lawrence and Levine, in a way, did indeed have their sharpshooting rematch. And this time, Lawrence won. She shot Levine before Levine could shoot her daughter.
The film then ends with Betty being taken safely off the roof by her father.
Hitchcock made several more films in the UK during the run-up to the Second World War. He then fled London and landed in California where his golden age began.
By 1956 Hitchcock was extremely successful. He remade The Man Who Knew Too Much with Doris Day in the Jill Lawrence role and Jimmy Stewart as her husband. In the 1956 version the wife’s name is Jo McKenna, a successful Broadway star who gave up her career to happily become a wife and mother.
The difference between Jo McKenna in 1956 and Jill Lawrence in 1934 is stark.
Jo McKenna lives almost entirely under the thumb of her husband. Unlike her predecessor Jill Lawrence in the 1934 film Jo clearly has no inclination to compete against men. She isn’t shooting guns or bantering with male assassins. The marriage between Jo and her husband Ben McKenna is not an equal partnership. In one (unintentionally) horrifying scene Ben forces his wife to take sedatives when she doesn’t want to. The intent is supposed to show Ben as a caring husband. He wants his wife to be calm when he breaks the news to her that their son has been kidnapped.
Because, you know, women are so goddamn emotional.
The scene is meant for a 1950s audience. Look at this man taking care of his weepy wife! It’s a scene, however, that has thankfully aged very badly. You can’t imagine Jill Lawrence the 1934 sharpshooter allowing her husband to treat her in this manner let alone a woman from the 21st century.
When the 1934 Man Who Knew Too Much was made women enjoyed a certain amount of freedom. Men had died and countries were devastated first by WWI, then Spanish Flu and finally the Great Depression.
Misogyny is an unaffordable luxury when everyone is hungry and the men are dead.
Women had to pitch in just to supplement the household income. This was especially driven home during WWII when women simply had to work to keep the country going when the men went off to war.
The Nazis were defeated. America was victorious. The men came back from the front, saw a bunch of women working jobs that they wanted, and the backlash was swift. “Give us back our jobs and get back to the kitchen!”
And of course men get what they want.
You can see the 1956 version of The Man Who Knew Too Much as a retort to the 1934 The Man Who Knew Too Much. Do you know what happens when women are given too much freedom? World War! Flu! Depression! Catastrophe! Dammit, we’re safer when the women stay at home where they goddamn well belong! And if women start mouthing off about it, well, just make sure they take their sedatives.
The danger is not with spies or assassinations or kidnappings or guns. The danger is women and making sure women do not know too much.
My Facebook memories brought up my old New Year’s Resolutions from January 2020.
Yeah. That’s right. January 2020.
That was the last time I made New Year’s Resolutions.
Before 2020 I usually made about 20 New Year’s Resolutions at the start of each year and emailed them to myself. Then, when the next year started, I would review the last year’s Resolutions and see which ones I had kept.
Now is the time of year where the parking lots of every LA Fitness are jam-packed. Twitter is in a lull as everyone tries to restrict screen time. My Facebook feed is full of posts about book recommendations and the best way to include more antioxidant-rich color in your salads.
And you know what? It’s awesome. I love this time of year when people really do want to try to improve themselves. The rest of the year we live in a culture of fear. Despair and anxiety get clicks. Optimism fails in an attention economy. Oh, do you feel hope for the future? Fuck you. Enjoy your privilege Karen.
Now, however, at the beginning of January people are willing to forgive you if you’re positive. Go ahead and have faith! Drop that weight and learn Italian. It’s great. And after a hard last few years we as a society deserve some good vibes.
Still, after reading the Resolutions I hopefully wrote down in January of 2020, I feel some nervousness about making Resolutions for 2023.
January 2020, of course, was pre-pandemic for most of the globe.
“Start drawing classes,” “Go to the gym,” “Submit to more comics conferences.” I had no idea typing everything down in January of 2020 that fulfilling those Resolutions would be impossible. In eight weeks time everything would be closed. No schools. No gyms. No conferences. No coffee shops. Nothing.
I hadn’t made any New Year’s Resolutions since that time.
Skimming over my past New Year’s Resolutions all the way back to 2010 has been a little embarrassing. My Resolutions for the year my son was born are cringe. I was 8 months pregnant that January when I wrote down my Resolutions as a soon-to-be new mom. “Study Korean every day,” “Take at least one overnight backpacking trip this year and one international trip as well,” “Slim back down to a 28-inch waist within two months of giving birth.”
So should I make Resolutions for 2023? Or will I be jinxing myself? Would I trigger another worldwide pandemic? Would I just fail again and again? It’s been well over a decade since I’ve given birth and I still don’t have that 28 inch waist back.
In the end, well, I’m probably going to write down some Resolutions. Yeah, I may not live up to the majority of them but that’s not what’s important. What’s important is that I maintain momentum in my life. What’s important is that we as a whole allow ourselves hope.
Being optimistic about our own abilities to improve our lives is not privilege. It’s necessity.
You may not fulfill all your New Year’s Resolutions, but you will fulfill none if you don’t make them in the first place. Have faith!
And Happy New Year!
I love horror fiction.
My favorite book of all time is Max Brooks’ World War Z. It’s amazing. World War Z is not only the best horror fiction written in the 21st century, it sets a new literary genre: the post-post apocalypse novel.
That’s right. Not post-apocalypse fiction (which is a very well-established genre) but POST-post apocalypse fiction.
What is post-post-apocalypse fiction you ask? It’s fiction that takes place during a time after the apocalypse and after humankind was defeated and after humankind scrambled out of defeat, sort of got our shit together and managed to rebuild society back up to 80% of its previous capacity.
Bet you didn’t know humankind could do that, could you? Come back from disaster? Nah, despair and fear is what drives the clicks these days. If you feel any sort of optimism about the ability of humankind to succeed these days well then it must be nice to have your privilege Karen. Be depressed or fuck off.
Anyway, I digress. Yes, World War Z is one of my top ten novels of all time. So when I heard that a new example of horror fiction, Manhunt, was hitting the markets in 2022 I was intrigued. When I heard that Manhunt was causing all kinds of controversy because it claimed to be pro-trans and genderqueer but seemed to express its activist message through scenes of women (sorry, “TERFs”) being killed in horrible ways I thought “I need to read this.”
Full disclosure: I’m a huge TERF. Before I drag anyone over the coals for being misogynistic, however, I need to give that person a fair shake.
I had to read Manhunt.
Everyone on both sides of the trans culture war was talking about Manhunt. There is even a scene in Manhunt (allegedly) involving JK Rowling being burned alive in her castle while being torn apart by her girlfriend at the same time.
(JK Rowling in real life is actually straight and has been married to her husband for years but never mind).
After reading Manhunt I can now say that the book is horrifyingly misogynistic but also well-written. It would be a top-tier horror novel if it didn’t have such masturbatory woman-hatred oozing from cover-to-cover. If you are a woman who is not trans, and you are not a token mother-figure to trans people, you will be an enemy who deserves slaughter in Manhunt.
No middle ground.
I will say that Manhunt’s JK Rowling-burned-alive controversy is a bit over-inflated. We don’t actually see JK Rowling burned alive in the book and there is no real proof that happened during the apocalypse. The description of JK Rowling burning alive in her castle appears to be a tall tale told by a character around a campfire towards the end of the book. The reader never knows for sure if the story is true.
Anyway, I have a lot of thoughts about this book.
Brace yourself for Part 1 of my review of Manhunt
Okay, so in the first few pages of Manhunt we are introduced to Beth and Fran. Beth and Fran are two trans women in a post-apocalyptic landscape. A virus called “T-rex” has attacked all people with high testosterone (so all men and trans women unable to find estrogen supplements). Everyone has the virus but as long as your testosterone is below a certain level you remain asymptomatic. If your testosterone goes above the maximum necessary level to remain human, you turn into a ravening, rapey hyena with a barbed penis, fur down your back, scabbed skin, and the intelligence of a rabid dog. This has become the fate of half the human population of the planet.
Cis women are pretty well protected from turning into man-beasts. Trans women, however, need to hunt down the man-beasts and eat their testicles in order to keep their estrogen high enough to remain asymptomatic from T-rex. And yes, male testicles actual DO have high amounts of estrogen. I didn’t know that but apparently it’s true.
Learn something new every day.
The male brain also produces high amounts of estrogen but we don’t see the characters in Manhunt eat the brains of the man-beasts they kill. I’m guessing Gretchen Felker-Martin doesn’t have a kink for brain-eating. Not pervy enough.
As a horror fiction fan I have to admit that the setup for Manhunt is good.
Out here on the coast, the things that had been men were scarce at least. They couldn’t swim, so fish held little allure for them, and most of the big game had been killed off years ago. Still, sometimes one caught sight of you and before the echoes of its first scream faded there were thirty of the fucking things pelting after you on all fours through the rotting innards of a Walmart Supercenter like a pack of rabid dogs.
“And if I ever run out of spiro and E, I’ll be one of them a few weeks later, and then some other t-girl’s gonna put an arrow through my skull and slice off my balls. Oh well. So sad.”
I’m on board for this. A highly specific virus that turns half the planet into beasts? Awesome! Manhunt also avoids a lot of zombie movie tropes. Contagion from the virus isn’t a concern because basically everyone has it. The trick is remaining asymptomatic, and that involves the trans women main characters desperately scrounging up not-easy-to-obtain estrogen sources to keep themselves human.
The tension is there and it’s real.
I do have a lot of questions about this universe, which is a credit to how intriguing Gretchen Felker-Martin’s concept is. Did men with testicular cancer survive T-rex? How about older men or men with naturally low testosterone? New fathers also experience a huge drop in testosterone. Did they also survive the plague? Presumably not.
Why didn’t men just gulp down estrogen to protect themselves before the plague turned half the population into beasts? Was maintaining their manhood so important that they were willing to turn into beasts rather than lower their testosterone? We know that in the post-plague world male children have their testicles removed before puberty to escape turning into beasts so why didn’t men do the same? Did men so treasure their masculinity that they were willing to turn into beasts before gulping down estrogen? Boy, that’s dark.
But then again maybe that is realistic. Thousands of people died of COVID because they refused to wear a mask or get a vaccine. Of course men would rather turn into beasts than take estrogen to escape a virus.
Anyway I have a lot of thoughts about Felker Martin’s Manhunt. This Part 1 is running a little longer than I anticipated so I will cut it off here and continue my review in Part 2.
Hehehehehe. “Cut it off.” Lol. Sorry.
All right dear readers! If you have come here after reading the Part 1 of my book review of Gretchen Felker-Martin’s Manhunt, welcome!
Anyway, let’s get on with my book review. There’s a lot I need to cover.
Gretchen Felker-Martin’s groundbreaking trans-inclusive horror novel Manhunt opens with two trans women, Beth and Fran, hunting man-beasts in the forested post-apocalyptic landscape of New England. Beth and Fran need to hunt the feral man-beasts (men who have been transformed into beasts by the t-rex plague) because both trans women need to keep their testosterone down to a certain level. If their testosterone rises, Beth and Fran will turn into man-beasts themselves.
The only way Beth and Fran can keep their testosterone down- and remain human- is by eating the estrogen-rich testicles of man-beasts.
After Beth and Fran gather enough testicles, they start to head home. Then suddenly Beth and Fran spot TERFs!
Yes folks, the real villains of Manhunt isn’t the man-beasts. It’s TERFs! It’s women who have the audacity to say “May we please not be forced to compete against biological males in our sports? May we please not be coerced into sharing female-only shelters and prisons with biological males? Please?”
The women who have the disgusting habit of disagreeing with penis-possessing people.
THOSE are the real villains of Manhunt!
Gretchen Felker-Martin sets the scene thus: Fran and Beth squirmed onward until finally, from the relative concealment of a patch of goldenrod growing in a clearing, they saw the TERFs.
They were a hundred yards off, half-hidden by the thinning pines near the forest’s edge. A dozen women, most of them in their late teens or early twenties, a few younger, all in fatigues, most sporting undercuts, stood clustered around the bikes where Fran and Beth had left them leaning up against a rusted metal rack, a holdover from when this place had been shot through with hiking trails for rich yuppies from Boston who wanted somewhere serene to surround themselves with nature and stargaze and do cayenne and lemon juice cleanses.
I’m just gonna burst in here and say that “women” who are younger than their late teens are called “children.”
So basically Beth and Fran have come across a group of women and children. The women and children do not see Beth and Fran. The women and children pose no threat to the two trans women, our heroines.
Still, we the reader are supposed to see this group of women and children as awful people. As Gretchen Felker-Martin describes them: Pussy-certified all-natural by the Daughters of the Witches You Couldn’t Burn or whatever Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival bullshit the TERFocracy in Maryland bowed to.
Yeah! That awful, awful Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival people! Those lesbian and queer women who just wanted a space to themselves for a couple of days a year to hang out naked, listen to music and vibe with other women. Just wanted to shut out men for a few days in a small space, a grassy field in Michigan.
As Alison Bechdel described it when she visited the festival in the 80s, “Not a man in sight. You can have no idea of the toll taken by being constantly gawked and whistled at, taunted and groped… to say nothing of more dire yet no less pervasive threats… until you experience the sudden cessation of these things. In that startling void I underwent a vertiginous perceptual shift! I could see what it meant to be a subject and not an object. I could also see that the body, so disavowed by the patriarchy, was not something separate or ‘other’ here. The other- including nature itself- was restored to the center.”
Whelp. That paradise didn’t last long.
The Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival is no more. A bunch of people with penises got upset that some women wanted to spend a few days a year being, in the words of Bechdel, “a subject and not an object.”
Well that was just too much for penis-possessing folks. Back to being looked at like objects ladies! Trans people wanted to join the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival and rock with their cocks out.
A protest camp called “Camp Trans” situated itself by the Michigan Womyn’s Music festival. Trans activists “committed acts of vandalism — stealing electrical cables, cutting water pipes, keying cars in the parking lot, and spray-painting a six-foot penis, and the words ‘Real Women Have Dicks,’ on the side of the main kitchen tent.” One protester from Camp Trans, a trans woman activist named Dana Rivers, killed a lesbian couple, Charlotte Reed and Patricia Wright, and their young son Benny Diambu-Wright.
Remember women, if you disagree with someone with a penis, the penalty is death. And it will be all your fault, you fucking TERF.
It worked. By 2015 the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival had been cancelled permanently and was never held again.
And in Manhunt, a novel written by a trans woman, our two trans women heroines Beth and Fran are prepared to carry on the legacy of Dana Rivers against a group of women and children (sorry, TERFs) they see in the forest.
First Fran gets aroused watching the women and children in the clearing. Her cock was hard, tenting the front of her stupid cargo shorts.
Beth’s reaction is even more disturbing. Eying one of the women in the clearing, Beth nocked an arrow to the bowstring and drew it back level with the unscarred corner of her mouth. “I’m gonna put one through her fucking neck.”
Yaaassss queen! Shooting arrows through the necks of women who disagree with you while your cock is hard! Totally not toxic masculinity! Totally a feminine reaction!
Oh, and remember: we the reader are supposed to be taking Fran and Beth’s side here. We’re not supposed to be sympathizing with the women and children- sorry, the TERFs who are about to be killed here.
I had forgotten how frightening this scene is. And how even more disturbing it was that we were supposed to approve of this sexualized violence against women here.
This book upset me. And it upsets me even more how fawning the reviews of Manhunt are on platforms like NPR and the LA Review of books. Grace Byron, a trans person who reviewed Manhunt for the Observer, talked about the community of T4T (trans people dating trans people and building communities with other trans people) and how Manhunt reminded her of the bonds she shared with trans people. She ended her book review describing how she called a friend after closing the novel. I left a long voice note for one of my trans girlfriends, “I just need the next person I talk to not to be a cis person.”
And I get that. Sometimes you just need to hang out with your own and be with your community. I get the craving trans people have for T4T community.
I just wish trans activists had allowed cis women that same community at the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival.
I will be posting Part 3 of my book review of Manhunt soon.
There are a few words that need to vanish in 2023. “Malignant narcissist,” “self-diagnosed autism,” “gatekeeping” and all the other various manipulative terms people use to blame others for their own faults should be tossed. Leave them by the curb next to the yellowing Christmas trees.
“Gaslighting” is a term I’m willing to keep however, but only if people learn how to use it correctly.
Here’s what bugs me. People so love the term “gaslighting” that they use it to mean “lying.” Gaslighting is a very, very specific form of lying. Not all lies are gaslighting. It’s like constantly saying “corgi” when you mean “dog.”
Gaslighting is a form of manipulation where you try to tell someone that she didn’t see something she clearly saw. The trick is not to fool the victim but to make the victim prefer to believe that her own mind is playing tricks on her than that something more disturbing is going on.
The term came about as a verb from the 1940 film Gaslight. In that movie a woman is manipulated by her husband who is trying to cover up the murder of his aunt. He searches for his aunt’s missing rubies in the attic of their house. Every time he enters their attic the gaslights in their living room dim a bit. When she asks her husband why the gaslights keep dimming, he tells her that they aren’t and that she is imagining things.
The feminist interpretation writes itself. Society has trained women to crave male love so badly that women would rather believe ourselves crazy, blind and delusional than that we are perfectly sane but with a man who does not care about us. Insanity is preferable to spinsterhood.
But that’s an essay for another time.
Alfred Hitchcock shows us gaslighting in its purest form in his 1938 thriller The Lady Vanishes. In that movie a young woman named Ingrid (Margaret Lockwood) meets a mysterious old woman named Ms. Froy (Dame May Whitty) on a train in Europe. Ms. Froy suddenly disappears despite the train never stopping. Ingrid asks all her fellow passengers where Ms. Froy went but all her fellow passengers act like Ms. Froy never existed.
Ingrid knows Ms. Froy was there. They chatted. She and Ms. Froy went to the dining car. Ms. Froy drank tea, annoyed the waiter, made some British tourists pass her the sugar, and bored Ingrid a bit with her chatter. Ms. Froy EXISTED!
And yet each passenger keeps telling Ingrid that Ms. Froy was never there. A foreign doctor gently tells her that since she hit her head before getting on the train she may have imagined Ms. Froy.
Making a woman believe that her companion never existed when she literally spoke and touched and had tea with her companion over the course of two days is the Platonic ideal of gaslighting. THAT is gaslighting!
I won’t give away too much about The Lady Vanishes. It’s a great movie though it does bog down at the end during a shootout involving a train car stalled in a mysterious German forest. The whole scenario is clearly a leaden metaphor about whether England should involve itself in the war in Europe (remember, this movie was made in 1938).
I may revisit the film simply because I find the main romantic relationship between Iris and Gilbert (Michael Redgrave) interesting. For the moment however, I will say that The Lady Vanishes can teach all us youngsters what “gaslighting” truly is.
Remember, not all dogs are corgis and not all lies are gaslighting.
The 2015 film Cinderella is easy on the eyes. Cinderella has lots of agreeable, satisfying splashes of color and lovely costumes that are exaggerated about two notches above actual Victorian era dress without being ridiculous. Cate Blanchett’s entrance as Cinderella’s evil stepmother alone, resplendent in black and venomous green with an ebony lace hat like a cobra hood, is worth watching the movie.
I like the 2015 Cinderella, however I do ache a bit for how almost obnoxiously anti-feminist the whole message of the movie is. The main character of Cinderella is bizarrely passive. She is counseled by her dying mother to be “kind” and patient. Be patient, be kind, be unbelievably limp and be beautiful and…. that’s it. That’s the message for girls. Just wait and do absolutely nothing and all the adults will take care of things for you.
I mean, hell, even the 1950 animated Disney Cinderella was more pro-active than the 2015 Cinderella. At least the 1950 Cinderella was able to cultivate a small kingdom of clothed talking mice within the walls of her stepmother’s vast manor house.
And the Disney 1997 Rodgers and Hammerstein Cinderella drove home the virtue of being self-motivated with a hammer. “If you want to go to the ball Cinderella, then go,” Cinderella’s fairy godmother (Whitney Houston) tells Cinderella (Brandy), “The only thing that’s stopping you is you.”
This empowering message in the 1997 version Cinderella is a far cry from the message in 2015 Cinderella. It was as if the 2015 Cinderella was gearing up for the 2016 election and the subsequent post-Roe, anti-feminist, “What is a woman?” era.
The Cinderella in Kenneth Branagh’s 2015 Cinderella is so unbelievably inert that she could be a noble gas. She floats like helium, sings “Dilly Dilly” and waits for others to do everything for her.
My heart aches for how weak the character of Cinderella is in the 2015 Disney Cinderella. My soul aches. And most of all, my ribs ache.
Yeah, you read that right. Watching the 2015 Cinderella makes my ribs ache.
On top of being unbelievably passive Lily James’ Cinderella has a freakishly small waist. Like, unnaturally slim. Cinderella’s waist is so small that it is literally smaller than the circumference of her head. And no, I’m not kidding. Look at the pictures.
Indeed when Cinderella first came out in 2015 most people believed Lily James’ waist had been CGI-d down to unnatural slimness. A lot of people were understandably upset at the body proportions director Kenneth Branagh was presenting to his young female audience. Branagh straight-up lied about how Lily James’ waist wasn’t really THAT thin and it was all an optical illusion.
“To all the airbrush conspiracy theorists I can answer now: no,” Branagh said in a new interview with HuffPost Live. “The simple truth is, we didn’t alter anything. In fact, it partly seems a little bit more extreme because it’s shadowed … the lit part feels very narrow, and it’s a bit wider on the top.”
“It’s not a mystery — if you put someone in a corset, you’ll see also that there’s a wide [part],” the British filmmaker added. “Not that Lily James isn’t slim. But, in that wide bow of the dress underneath, basically you squeeze things in, things come out at the bottom. It all gets hidden under there. The natural body physics of it aren’t insane.”
Lol, yeah, sure Branagh.
Honestly though, if it were all an illusion, why was your ex Helena Bonham Carter, who played the fairy godmother, able to appear in a corseted gown without looking like she’s about to snap in two?
Plus Lily James sort of blew up Branagh’s “Oh it just looks extreme because it’s shadowed” lies when she described the physical hardships she had to go through to fit into the hideous corset she wore in Cinderella.
“When [the corset] was on we would be on continuous days so we wouldn’t stop for lunch or a lovely tea like this — you’d be sort of eating on the move. In that case, I couldn’t untie the corset. So if you ate food it didn’t really digest properly and I’d be burping all afternoon … and it was just really sort of unpleasant … I’d have soup, so that I could still eat but it wouldn’t get stuck.”
James was also being a bit delicate when she said she had to stick to soups and a liquid diet because of the corset. The corset was so confining that she literally couldn’t bend at the waist and thus couldn’t sit to have a bowel movement during the 12-hour filming days. When James needed to urinate, she had to continue standing while using a “porta-lou” under her skirt.
Branagh’s 2015 Cinderella is visually stunning but its message towards young girls extolling the virtues of complete passivity and bruised ribs is poisonous. To paraphrase a quote from the film, Cinderella is every bit as ugly within as it is fair without.
Trans activists and those who hate JK Rowling have been crowing in joy lately over the recent drop in Harry Potter book sales. JK Rowling saw massive book sales in 2021 and then a drop of 40% in 2022.
Many trans activists on Twitter have hailed the drop as being the result of “young folk finding out things they liked as kids are written by bigots…. Pair this with JK’s online fans being toxic and decline is inevitable.”
I mean, I have yet to experience a Harry Potter fan telling me to choke and die on “girlcock,” but okay. JK Rowling’s online fans are “toxic.” Right.
The fact of the matter is that there is no indication that the 40% drop in sales in Harry Potter digital media was a result of the loud boycott campaign on Twitter. The fact is that Rowling has been critical of the misogynistic aspects of trans activism since 2019 and yet sales of her books boomed throughout 2020 and 2021. In fact, all book sales boomed though out the COVID years as lockdowns forced people to entertain themselves at home.
Harry Potter sales have boomed alongside other books during lockdown, and consequently declined alongside other books as lockdowns have eased throughout 2022.
The 40% decrease in Harry Potter book sales were not a result of a boycott but merely part of a larger trend involving books. People are no longer trapped at home looking for things to read. The 40% decrease is more of a return to a pre-pandemic baseline in terms of book sales.
The most convincing indicator that loud Twitter voices demanding boycotts of JK Rowling’s books are not having much of an effect are the sales of the new Harry Potter video games. Hogwarts Legacy is Steam’s top-selling game right now and it hasn’t even been released yet!
In the end, trans activists have to accept the fact that constantly hammering on JK Rowling is not working. Rowling is still a very lucrative investment for publishers, film studios and game developers.
Frankly the constant harassment of Rowling, a woman who has made her own wealth and is currently starting a rape shelter for women, appears to be only backfiring for trans activists. Right now even very liberal nations like Switzerland are reinstating legally that there are only two genders. Sweden has blocked the prescription of puberty blockers for children under 16 for trans-affirming care.
It’s time for trans activists to stop screaming at women whenever women do awful things like….. buy Harry Potter books. Or use “they” as a collective pronoun instead of a singular pronoun. Or ask to not compete against biological men in sports competitions. Or even use the word “woman” instead of “uterus-haver” or “menstruator.”
When I look at articles about trans activism, it’s all about how cis women need to move over and make space and validate people with penises.
Frankly, women have done that since the start of human civilization. And it’s getting a bit old.
Perhaps a better metric for trans activist success would be more employed trans people and fewer trans people suffering housing insecurity. Grabbing credit for a natural decline in Harry Potter books sales after the pandemic is not one of those rousing civil rights victories that future generations can applaud.