When Will Wonder Woman Be a Fat, Femme Woman of Color? (Ms Magazine)

Why couldn’t Wonder Woman be a woman of color? When it was announced that Gadot would play Wonder Woman, audiences went wild body shaming her for not having large enough breasts. One can only imagine the white supremacy that would have emerged had the announcement said instead that she would be played by a Black woman. On Paradise Island, there are Black warriors in addition to white ones, which is a good start, but other women of color are missing. Also, while the female warriors are strong and ass-kicking, they all have tall, thin body types and they all could be models on a runway. In fact, in a pivotal battle scene, Wonder Woman struts across the battlefield as if on a catwalk. As a result, their physical strength plays second fiddle to their beauty, upholding the notion that in order to access power women must be beautiful in a traditional way. Especially with the body positivity movement gaining steam, the film could have spotlighted female warriors with fat, thick and short body types. While people have said that warriors can’t be fat, some of our best paid male athletes are, particularly linebackers on the football field, and no one doubts their physical strength.

Another problem is that the story’s overt queerness gets sublimated by heteronormativity. Diana comes from a separatist commune of women who have intentionally chosen to live without men. In one of the first scenes between Diana and Steve, she explains that she read 12 volumes of a series on sex that concluded that while men are required for reproduction, when it comes to female pleasure, they’re unnecessary. While a love story develops between them, a requirement in superhero stories, Diana thankfully doesn’t compromise her integrity for him.

The Sham Psychology of Wonder Woman The beauties of the soul and body do not correspond. (American Conservative)

It doesn’t help that Diana is a beautiful woman. The film never shows the realism of what great beauty can inflict on a person: the deathblows to maturity that are attention, flattery, and unearned affection, and the self-complacency and mistrust of others that can follow. Just as she is unaware of her superpowers, Diana is unaware of her womanly powers. She attempts to undress in public, oblivious to the effect it might have on those watching. She doesn’t understand the concept of partner dancing, complaining that it’s “just swaying.” When she tries it for herself she remarks, with the sterility of a doctor, that the bodies of men and women are very close in this kind of dance.

Not that I can say too much. I have myself complained about female cop characters (and some males) looking more like underwear models than police officers. In Batman vs Superman, Gadot doesn’t really fall into that category, though. And while I do wish Hollywood would be less myopic when it comes to standards of beauty, Wonder Woman is Wonder Woman, and the Amazonians are Amazonians, and it’s built in to the concept that I would not choose to die on that particular hill.


Category: Theater

Walking back

It’s presumptuous to criticize members of a profession for acting “unprofessionally,” especially true when I have not acquainted myself with the specific norms of that profession. I did that when I said recently that some mental health professionals “are acting unprofessionally and to a certain extent dangerously in their public diagnoses” of Mr. Trump. Part of what I meant was that mental health professionals ought not to comment publicly on a public official’s mental health.

I no longer believe that. Dr. X–both in his comments here at Hit Coffee [for example] and in some posts at his own blog [here and here]–has convinced me that it’s sometimes appropriate for mental health professionals to make such public commentary and that whether or not it’s “professional” is more arguable than I allowed.

Cautions are still in order

I still urge caution when it comes to public diagnoses, but before I proceed, I’ll note a few terms I am probably using wrong, or at least too globally. “Mental health”  and “diagnoses” here in this post are catchalls and may not necessarily encompass what public commentary on public officials is really about. “Mental health professional” is a broad term, too. It can include MD’s, PsyD’s, PHD’s, LCSW’s, and probably others–the key point is that I’m referring to people who are licensed or otherwise credentialed to counsel others or to people who study mental health academically. While my use of these terms is sloppy, I ask your indulgence.

Now, on to the cautions…

Caution #1: “can’t” is a sliding scale

It’s important not to confuse the general sense and professional norm that such commentary is “improper” with a strict prohibition against such public commentary. I understand the Goldwater rule is somehow encoded into the American Psychology Association’s code of ethics. I suspect, however, a mental health professional who offers public diagnoses does not usually risk being hauled before an ethics board or otherwise sanctioned in the same way he or she might by, say, inappropriately breaking confidentiality.

Anti-caution: We should presume that professionals take the established norms of their profession seriously. Even if they disagree with the norms and seek to revise or ask others to reconsider them, we should presume the professionals feel in some way answerable to those norms or at least believe the norms something that merit discussion and are not to be  lightly disregarded. Even without a strong enforcement mechanism, these injunctions still act in some ways as a prohibition.

Caution #2: There is never enough information

I submit that any public diagnosis has to be upfront about what is not known and ought to be open to the concern that the diagnosis might be too hasty. In the meta-sense we just cannot see into other people’s minds. In the non-meta-sense, there’s always something we don’t know about others’ history or actions or influences.

Anti-caution: Thus is it always and everywhere. No matter how much is known there are always unknowns. And yet, we have to come to conclusions and mental health professionals are no different.

I am informed that in at least some cases, the mental health professional can diagnose an individual in a matter of minutes. I am also informed that in other cases, mental health professionals may be called upon to create psychological profiles of others whom they have never met (say, psychological profiles of employees or profiles of foreign leaders for state intelligence). And regardless of these examples, some persons’ actions do demonstrate what they are likely to do in the future, and if a mental health professional can yield discipline-specific insights into those actions that a layperson cannot offer, then that’s probably okay.

Caution #3: my corollary to the McArdle rule

Megan McArdle often says that just because there’s a problem doesn’t necessarily mean there’s a solution to the problem. My corollary is that just because a public diagnosis is correct doesn’t mean it tells us what to do with the person so diagnosed. (I’ll add here that a good model is Dr. X. He may offer opinions grounded in his area of expertise, but when he discusses policy solutions he takes care to distinguish what his expertise can and cannot tell us.)

Anti-caution: My corollary doesn’t mean such public diagnoses are worthless. A diagnosis might very well and very rightly warn us, for example, against false assurances that someone will “pivot.”

Caution #4: there will be blowback and it will be unfair

In one of my posts, I referred briefly to objections that Rabbi Michael Lerner of Tikkun magazine has about public diagnoses. I don’t agree with everything he says there, and I agree with less of it now that I’ve heard Dr. X’s counterpoints. Still, the following objection from Mr. Lerner rings true to me:

I believe that making these kind of diagnoses without the benefit of having a carefully constructed private relationship with the public political  personality being analyzed leads many of the tens of millions of supporters of the political character who has been labeled in this way to believe that implicitly they too are being judged and dissed. This plays into a central problem facing us in the liberal and progressive world….When we use the kind of psychiatric labeling suggested by those who insist that Trump is a clinical narcissist, that is heard by many who support him as just a continuation of the way the liberal and progressive forces continually dismiss everyone who is not already on our side as being racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic, anti- Semitic, or stupid.  This makes many of these people feel terrible, intensifies their self-blaming, but then often generates huge amounts of anger at those who have made those judgments without ever actually knowing the lives and details of the people that are thus being dissed. And this contributes to the ability of right-wing demagogues like Trump (not a psychiatric term, but a political judgment) to win support by telling a deep truth to  many Americans: “many on the Left know nothing about your lives, but they have contempt for you, think that if you are white or if you are a male you are specially privileged and should spend your energies learning how to renounce your privilege.”….

First, I should say my quotation is deceptive. The ellipses elide quite a bit. If you go back to read Lerner’s comment in full (I’m quoting from his point no. 4, but I recommend reading all his points), you’ll see his argument is not merely pragmatic, but enmeshed in a broader, ideological critique of the faults he finds with capitalism and meritocracy. I don’t necessarily share that broader critique and if I hadn’t elided those points, the quote would have been not only longer, but would have seemed more contestable as well.

Second, what Lerner seems to me to be saying (in part) is that however accurate a public diagnosis, it might elicit a stronger reaction and in the process do little good. His point is at least partially about prudence. We live in the world, and the world is going to react. It’s not fair, but that’s what will happen.

Anti-caution: We out not overlearn that lesson and make an idol of prudence. If someone speaks the truth, that is a value unto itself. The truth is an end. If that truth is commanded or informed by one’s professional memberships and professional training, then sometimes (maybe always?) it must be uttered and pursued, regardless of prudential considerations. And as Mike Schilling Over There has reminded me, the principal bearers of blame are those who don’t acknowledge the truth and those who create or pursue or gainsay the lies.

If you’re right, you’re right

I’ll probably never be comfortable with public diagnoses. But that said–and in contrast to a point I made very recently–those public diagnoses of Mr. Trump that I’ve seen seem to be correct. Even if they’re not correct, they’re correct enough. Mr. Trump’s actions have shown him to be a dangerous, petty man. So I’ll end where I began above. I retract my blanket statement that mental health professionals ought never issue public diagnoses of public figures.


Category: Hospital, Statehouse

yearbookquoteThis October piece by Michael Brendan Dougherty seems kind of prescient. There’s a degree to which people who a few weeks ago were bragging about how the Deep State was going to obstruct Trump’s agenda are now freaking out that Trump is going after the Deep State.

And from November, Ed Krayewski argued that if you don’t understand how anyone could have voted for Trump, you’re why Trump won.

Never mind whether it’s fair to conservatives, Musa al-Gharbi argues that the lack of ideological diversity is hurting social research. I don’t know what you do about a feedback loop this far in, though. {More}

As Uncle Steve alludes to, it’s easier to be a sanctuary city where nobody unrich can afford to live.

Jason Richwine notes that the children of immigrants are learning English, but fears they are not sufficiently forgetting Spanish. Yeah, not too worried about that.

DishGirl writes of abortion regret and the sorry it can leave behind.


Category: Newsroom

I consider “cultural appropriation,” as such, to be an untenable charge. That’s not to say that the bad kinds of “cultural appropriation” that people point to are a-okay and that there is nothing to object to. Their often is! I can understand why Chief Wahoo makes many Native Americans mad, to pick one example. But it’s not going to be the “appropriation” that is the problem, but some accompanying aspect. Mockery is perhaps the most obvious example. But cultural appropriation as such simply can’t be bad in a pluralist or multicultural society.

You could make an argument that we ought to consider cultural appropriation in a way similar to trademark violation. We don’t allow people to use Mickey Mouse. Why should we allow them to call themselves the Fighting Sioux? Then you start getting questions about who owns what, which gets pretty messy. Worse still, you have to then assign cultural guardians for who represents the tribes, ethnic groups, and so on. This really ought to be raising some alarm bells with you. So any legal mechanism is going to be off the table, pretty much.

So we’re left with social censure. That’s what we have to do for breaches of multicultural etiquette. And when it comes to social censure, you’re never going to have 100% agreement. How we use other cultures or don’t will always be a bit tricky. But whether we can or not? It’s not clear how that can possibly be a real question in any society that claims any value to pluralism or multiculturalism. “Look but don’t touch” simply isn’t palatable. An argument in favor of multiculturalism is to be exposed to many things, and allowing intermingling of cultures provides even more. If this isn’t a good thing, what do we need those other cultures for anyway?

All of this brings me to recent events in Portland, burrito cart owners were pilloried for the high crime of cultural appropriation. They buckled under the pressure and closed shop. It’s part of a larger movement in Portland to identify and blacklist cultural appropriating restaurants in favor of authentic foreign food establishments. Cultural appropriators are often criticized for being reckless or shallow with the incorporation of other cultures. In this case, the two ladies behind Kook’s Burritos were accused of the opposite: Getting too close to the source material, stealing work product, and bringing it home.

The discussions I’ve seen so far remind me a bit of the Hot Coffee lawsuit verdict, where the critics sound like the defenders of the verdict by assuming that the other side doesn’t understand the real story and that if they did they would see how eminently reasonable the verdict/animosity is. Except that, for many (and by “many” I mean “me”), the additional information doesn’t actually help all that much. Here is the article that touched off the debate:

“I picked the brains of every tortilla lady there in the worst broken Spanish ever, and they showed me a little of what they did,” Connelly says. “They told us the basic ingredients, and we saw them moving and stretching the dough similar to how pizza makers do before rolling it out with rolling pins. They wouldn’t tell us too much about technique, but we were peeking into the windows of every kitchen, totally fascinated by how easy they made it look. We learned quickly it isn’t quite that easy.”

Connelly and Wilgus have turned their passion into new weekend spot Kooks Burritos, which has a concept that fits twee Portland: a breakfast burrito pop-up inside the hip Tight Tacos food cart in a Southeast Portland parking lot.

“On the drive back up to Oregon, we were still completely drooling over how good [the tortillas] were, and we decided we had to have something similar in Portland,” Connelly says. “The day after we returned, I hit the Mexican market and bought ingredients and started testing it out. Every day I started making tortillas before and after work, trying to figure out the process, timing, refrigeration and how all of that works.”

Well, she figured it out.

And here is how it was characterized:

“…We were peeking into window of every kitchen, totally fascinated by how easy they made it look,” she said. So let’s recap the story thus far: These two white women went to Mexico, ate tacos, and then decided they would just take what the locals clearly didn’t want to give them. If that wasn’t bad enough, they decided to pack up all their stolen intellectual property and repackage it in one of the few places where such a business could plausibly work: Portland, Oregon.

While describing themselves on their Yelp biography (which has since been edited), Connelly claims to have “a mean tortilla flip” while Wilgus anointed herself as the “director of vibes” and “our little abuelita with recipes from the heart”—even though the recipes were stolen.

Week after week people of color in Portland bear witness to the hijacking of their cultures, and an identifiable pattern of appropriation has been created. Several of the most successful businesses in this town have been birthed as a result of curious white people going to a foreign country, or an international venture, and poaching as many trade secrets, customs, recipes as possible, and then coming back to Portland to claim it as their own and score a tidy profit. Now don’t get me wrong: cultural customs are meant to be shared. However, that’s not what happens in this city.

Much of the characterization presented suggests that this is more of an intellectual property dispute than a cultural appropriation dispute… except if you read the rest of it, it clearly isn’t. The “theft” is somewhat incidental. If they had done this in Greece, we probably wouldn’t be having this conversation as the story would be received as the humorous story the ladies thought they were telling. The criticisms are very geared towards a specific sin by a very specific kind of culprit. This also has tenability problems, though that’s perhaps a post for another time. We might not be having this exact conversation if white girls hadn’t peeked at non-white cooks, but we’d be having one closer to it. It’s not clear what the original proprietors have lost here, nor is it even clear why they were less than helpful. My guess is that it had less to do with objection to white imperalism and more to do with the fact that ladies who didn’t speak Spanish well were bugging them.

More to the point, if they’d simply stolen the recipes, it wouldn’t have been nearly as hard as it evidently was to get it right. And the end product of all of this is people in Portland got to enjoy good food and no longer get to enjoy that food.

People are, of course, free to boycott any establishment they wish for whatever reason. The Kook ladies are not victims of some First Amendment violation or political persecution. To the extent that they are victims, it is in service to an ideal nobody should really want. My objection is not in their methods (though I’m definitely more hip to “Check out these actual minority-owned restaurants restaurants” than yelling “Unclean” and “Cultural Imperalism”, but the rationale for deployment in this particular case. Portland is very white. It would be a shame if their food options were unnecessarily demographically limited.


Category: Kitchen

Analysis: ESPN Lost Republican Viewers Across the Country in 2016 – Outkick the Coverage

All told, the ESPN audience across the network’s channels was already liberal in 2015 – but it became more liberal in 2016 as Republicans stopped watching:

  • The ESPN audience became 5% less Republican in 2016 than 2015 across all 43 markets analyzed.
  • ESPN2’s audience became 10% less Republican during the same time period.
  • The biggest partisan shift happened on ESPN News, whose audience became 36% less Republican and more Democratic.
  • ESPNU’s audience became 12% more Democratic in 2016 compared to 2015.
  • ESPN Deportes – whose audience already skewed very liberal – became 27% more Democratic.
  • In all, 34 of the markets included in our analysis showed the audience of the flagship ESPN network become less Republican in 2016 compared to 2015; the ESPN audience became more Republican in only 9 of the analyzed markets.


This is interesting for a couple of reasons. I have poo-pooed the notion that politics is surrounding ESPN’s troubles, but this indicates that it may at least be a factor. It makes sense for the shows suffering the most to be on ESPNews because that’s where commentary is most likely to come into play. It’s also where you would expect to see the losses anyway because the entire network has become superfluous in the Internet Age. At this point it probably ought to be rebranded. However, that they are bleeding more among Republicans seems significant?

It’s also interesting because Clay Travis and other rightward ESPN critics have claimed that ESPN is shooting itself in the foot because sports fans tend to be conservative. ESPN’s viewers, though, already tended liberal. So arguably they were actually playing to their base. Of course, that can backfire (ask the comic book industry) and perhaps it has.

Which touches on something tangential I have been meaning to mention Over There and elsewhere. The show with the highest ratings is not necessarily the show that a cable network or publication wants to run with. One of the complaints about Bret Stephens being hired by the New York Times was that their liberal columnists are more popular and therefore the Times is doing something wrong in a business sense by bringing in someone readers hate. Maybe, but… that’s not the only metric. If Stephens brings in and/or retains readers, it doesn’t matter if he’s less popular than people like Blow who are well-regarded by the people who will buy the paper anyway because of the six other columnists situated in a similar place along the ideological spectrum. On the other hand, of course, if Stephens costs the Times more readers through a boycott than it gains through new subscriptions and retention, then their point stands. For what it’s worth, I do think the hiring was a mistake, but for different reasons than liberals do and that the liberals do actually come out of it looking pretty bad.

Back to ESPN, if the network’s leftward lurch is hurting it with its more marginal viewers that is a bad thing indeed for ESPN. If they hired Rush Limbaugh to do commentary again and that kept conservative viewers around, that would be business-good.

It remains less clear to me what ESPN is doing wrong, though. There has been a lot written about how “sports media” has gone left, but that seems more due to the proliferation of leftward sports media sites rather than flagships. It seems possible that the primary complaint is simply that ESPN is not being conservative – by not coming down hard on Colin Kaepernick for example – than what they’re actually doing. If conservatives are watching less sports due to Kaepernick, I think that says more about them than ESPN. I am somewhat attuned to media slights of the right, and I just don’t see very much of it on ESPN (where I would be less inclined to shrug it off than from Gawker media).

That means either I’m missing it because it’s things like Michael Sam where I am simply on the same page as the media, or it’s happening as I am seeing it and conservatives are being snowflakes, or my initial instincts were right and it has little or nothing to do with politics.


Category: Newsroom

Sorry, infidelity will never be normal or harmless | New York Post

In the last week, Vice, New York magazine and, for some reason, Bride magazine have all opened up on open relationships. There was the piece in The Post titled “It’s time to rethink cheating in marriage.” Barcroft TV in April brought us “POLY TRIAD: I’M DIVORCING MY HUSBAND SO WE CAN MARRY OUR GIRLFRIEND.” And The New York Times Magazine had an extended exploration of the subject called “Is an Open Marriage a Happier Marriage?”

Not to ruin the ending, but no one who read that article came away thinking the answer was yes.

The Times piece focused mostly on a couple named Elizabeth and Daniel. He asked her to open their marriage; she said no. Years later, she became attracted to another man and decided she was into the open marriage thing after all. Without discussing it with Daniel, Elizabeth started a full-on affair. When Daniel expressed pain over the arrangement, she refused to end it.

Sounds amazing. Why aren’t more people into this?

I’m trying not to feel a sense of smug superiority regarding Daniel’s fate here. But it’s just too perfect.

There has been something kind of weird going on with this lately. A lot more writing lately on unboxing marriage. A natural consequence of winning the SSM is that liberals don’t need to pretend to value marriage like conservatives Except One Thing? Or is this mostly Fake Trend Stuff?

I’m not sure it matters that much. These ideas aren’t really new and they have failed to gain traction in the past for reasons. I’m mostly surprised they haven’t managed to tie it in to SSM more than they have (“What straight couples can learn from openly married gay couples!”


Category: Bedroom


Category: Newsroom

32-Year-Old Forcibly Transferred From College Ministry To Singles’ Ministry | The Babylon Bee

According to sources, Freeman, who dabbled in community college for a few semesters in his late teens before deciding it wasn’t for him, rode his longboard into the college ministry’s building as usual for Wednesday Bible study. College pastor Philip Huxley, whom Freeman affectionately calls “Preacha Hux,” was waiting at the door with several members of the security team to escort the unemployed Freeman to the church’s singles’ ministry on the other side of the property.

While Freeman initially resisted, throwing his flat-billed cap on the ground in disgust and shouting phrases like, “You’re killing me, Smalls,” and “Ice cold, Preacha Hux, ICE COLD,” eventually Huxley and his associate pastor were able to calm him down and gently coax him into the singles’ ministry Bible study by offering him Mountain Dew and a yo-yo.

This might ring familiar to anyone who’s been here long enough to remember Sheila. I certainly thought of her when I read it. Well done! My only complaint is to the reference of the singles group being male-heavy. I… don’t think that’s true in most churches.


Category: Newsroom

scienceruinseverything

If I had my act together, I would have had my final installment of “It Ain’t Heavy, It’s Science” ready for today, as we’re having the #ScienceMarch. But I don’t, so in lieu of that I will turn things over to Carl Phillips and Nicolas Bourbaki, who share their thoughts on the event.


(more…)


Category: School

I better be quick about writing this because the underlying facts probably have a short shelf life. I learn that Mr. Trump now is expressing support for NATO [hat tip Noah Milman], seems to be taking a seemingly less extremist stance stance regarding China, and seems to be distancing himself from his alt-right advisor, Steve Bannon [paywall probably applies]. Are these indications of a sometimes-discussed “pivot” toward more responsible governance?

Maybe….but we have to decide what kind of pivot we’re talking about.

Then there’s the personal pivot. This is personal change resulting from an honest self-assessment.  It can come quickly, as in a road to Damascus conversion experience. Or it can come gradually, and observable only long after the pivoting began. I don’t see any fish scales falling from Mr. Trump’s eyes, and if he is on the painful, gradual road to a personal reevaluation, we won’t know for at least a few years.

There’s the institutional pivot. This doesn’t preclude a personal change, but it relies on the sets of incentives and constraints that work on the presidency. As I have tried to argue before,

But the argument that Mr. Trump will grow into the presidency doesn’t rely only on the proposition that he’ll become a better person. It also relies on the claim that our system of checks and balances might actually work and that the federal bureaucracy will do what bureaucracies do and somehow condition what Mr. Trump can accomplish.

I’d add other factors to “checks and balances’ and “federal bureaucracy”: federalism, civil society, the press, individual acts of resistance. In this second sense, it’s possible we’re about to see a pivot.

However and as with the first sense, we probably won’t really know it’s a true pivot for several years. One reason among many I distrust Mr. Trump is that he seems to change his mind on a whim. Pivoting hither and yon from one day to the next isn’t the type of pivot I’m hoping for.

We also need to keep perspective. I think it’s a good thing that Mr. Trump seems to be (this week) distancing himself from Mr. Bannon. But he shouldn’t have hired him in the first place. He should have laughed away the suggestion when it was made. And “distancing himself from” isn’t the same as firing.

There’s finally the disturbing point that we are–or at least I am–looking for any sign of change and clinging to it, hoping it’s change for real or at least contenting ourselves that it’s not quite as bad at he moment as it seemed and may again seem at other times. Maybe the king won’t show up to parliament in his underwear. Maybe the emperor will put on some clothes for once. I suppose it’s kind of like dreading the moment an abuser comes home only to be relieved that tonight he’s in a good mood.


Category: Statehouse

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Greetings from Stonebridge a fictitious city in a fictitious state located in a tri-state area in the interior Mid-Atlantic region. We're in western Queenland, which is really a state unto itself, and not to be confused with Queensland in Australia.

Nothing written on this site should be taken as strictly true, though if the author were making it all up rest assured the main character and his life would be a lot less unremarkable.


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