did someone muck with the backend here

Re: Witchy Women

1

The novel-reading market disagrees. What they want (based on sales of thrillers and detective stories) is a male villain who does horrible things to women. Heroes seem to be more evenly divided male/female.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 10-21-15 6:32 AM
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male villain who does horrible things to women

Which, I guess, explains Trump.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-21-15 6:43 AM
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1: Are you referring to the kind of novel in which the villain is also the hero and romantic lead? I don't read that kind of book (of course!) -- maybe Wuthering Heights is the prototype except at the end Heathcliff and Catherine live happily ever after.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 10-21-15 6:53 AM
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1) It may be a minority of stories, but those are the ones we're talking about. And in those kinds of narratives among those I watch, there are more often women antagonists just avoid concentration on the trope of men hurting women. But I engage a tiny subset of texts, maybe 1/4 of which are melodramas. I do extend this to romances, and the competitor arising.

Women antagonists (and major henchwomen, aka Lady MacBeth) are marginally more expressive with better backstories in order to overcome resistance to idea of women with agency.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 10-21-15 6:54 AM
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Hey, are you calling me a villain?


Posted by: Opinionated Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam | Link to this comment | 10-21-15 6:56 AM
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3: No spoiler alert?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-21-15 6:56 AM
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3: Actually, I think my 3 is confusing enough not to reveal anything to the genuinely ignorant.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 10-21-15 7:02 AM
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I don't know what happens in Withering Heights because I don't know semaphore.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 10-21-15 7:03 AM
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Let me think:

1) With male protagonists, women final bosses are fairly unusual. Just watched an episode last night with male protagonist seriously fighting a women badass, but it is like 1/10 1/20.

2) With female protagonists, women big bads are the usual case.

Note: I am certainly missing a lot, intentionally concentrating on stories with women protagonists. The consensus among snobs is that they're better.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 10-21-15 7:04 AM
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Because I love it and it's not completely off topic, I once again link to Dirtbag Tess Of The D'Urbervilles.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-21-15 7:06 AM
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I see no reason to ever read the actual book after getting the highlights there.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-21-15 7:08 AM
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Current watching, beside movies, like the Techine:

Casshern Sins Ep 18 ...ain't gonna worry about spoilers. y'all don't watch this stuff and plot isn't half why you should

20 odd minutes, pretty, went dub for you, special episode, she isn't antagonist but sidekick, but still she probably kills 2 dozen sentient robots and one human in this ep. Don't worry about understanding, it's all about atmosphere and feelings, and it's all a dream anyway

Desolation. Redemption. Love.

Took me about ten episodes to get that they were going for a stained-glass effect, and shattering.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 10-21-15 7:23 AM
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Took me about ten episodes to get that they were going for a stained-glass effect, and shattering.

Shattered stained glass?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 10-21-15 7:26 AM
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I took a class once. You can fix that by putting it back together with new lead cane. Unless the shattered bits are really small, in which case you need new glass also.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-21-15 7:28 AM
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Back to the OP -- heebie, did you have any particular female villains in mind? Cruella DeVil? Michelle Bachmann?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 10-21-15 7:33 AM
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Its true, Dolores Umbridge was much funner to read about then Voldemort.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 10-21-15 7:34 AM
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Is this about the Facilitated Communication professor?


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 10-21-15 7:47 AM
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I don't even watch American tv, and I can name Glenn Close, Jessica Lange, and Madeleine Stowe among recent baddies. I'm sure Orange is New Black has a few.

Umm, soap operas, relationship melodramas, have always had a focus on women villains, back to Susan Lucci and Joan Collins.

Dramas, say Wire, Sopranos, Mad Men not so much.

Action shows and movies in the West have had a shortage of women fighters on either side of righteousness, though I suppose it's changing. I am not gonna jump on the new medieval fad to find out.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 10-21-15 7:48 AM
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8 excellent.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 10-21-15 7:54 AM
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For those who like science fiction, may I recommend the Very Large Indeed Marq'ssan books by Timmi DuChamp? The first one is a bit rocky, writing-wise, and I don't think they ever rise to amazing lyrical heights, and some of the neologisms are awkward, but I found them incredibly compelling and they are some of my favorite SF novels. I got the first one at random in a bookstore, finished it in about two days despite work and then ordered all the rest of them from the press itself, even sending them basically a pestering email about when they would ship. They shipped really fast, actually, but it was not fast enough.

Anyway, the point is that not only are all the narrator characters women but so is the most interesting villain (not, technically, the most powerful - but we spend the most time with her and she is one of the narrators). She's an amazingly creepy character, and the sections she narrates are really seductive - you keep having to pull yourself back and remind yourself that she is a truly vile person.

DuChamp drew a lot from activism she'd done opposing US intervention in Central America during the eighties and that gives real depth to the books plus rendering them of a certain historical interest.

I have met only one person who has ever read these besides me. I keep hoping they'll have a moment like the Ancillary books.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 10-21-15 7:55 AM
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heebie, did you have any particular female villains in mind? Cruella DeVil? Michelle Bachmann?

Pokey is obsessed with a graphic novel, but I don't want to say which one because it's sort of a spoiler. But it was that, in combination with my book club book right now (Fates and Furies) which doesn't exactly quite have a villain, and which I have mixed feelings about, but yeah.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-21-15 8:04 AM
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Oh, but also that real life women villains are more interesting than male villains because I'm sick and tired of super rich asshole men, but at least Carly Fiorina has to lodge all sorts of inconsistent positions about what it's like to be a woman.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-21-15 8:06 AM
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Leona Helmsley had a pretty good run as a real life female villain. It's too bad she's not still around. I bet a Trump vs Helmsley smackdown would be more entertaining than Trump vs Fiorina.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 10-21-15 8:09 AM
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Helmsley has the Republican position on taxes, but I wonder if she wouldn't make all the 1% wonder what their younger second wives were going to get up to when they hit their dotage.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-21-15 8:12 AM
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8: I saw that joke well before I had any idea of what Wuthering Heights was.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 10-21-15 8:13 AM
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Michelle Bachmann

Man, I'd forgotten all about her. America circa 2010 was so bizarre.


Posted by: real ffeJ annaH | Link to this comment | 10-21-15 8:16 AM
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Girls don't poop villainize.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 10-21-15 8:29 AM
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"waaaah! waaaah!"


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 10-21-15 8:32 AM
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I talked to a journalist yesterday who had wrapped up some investigative reporting on the case Minivet mentioned. Said that the F--- c---- people have ruined a lot of lives and should be driven to the ends of the earth. The journalist was pretty incensed about it all, esp. the legitimacy the technique still enjoys; compared it to Scientology in terms of basic wrongness and toxicity, plus having put innocent parents in jail and so on. I maybe shouldn't share this here, but the story will run at some point and it may not be news to attentive people anyway.


Posted by: psinly theudonymous | Link to this comment | 10-21-15 8:37 AM
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29: I'm relieved and glad to hear that!


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 10-21-15 8:41 AM
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Said that the F--- c---- people have ruined a lot of lives and should be driven to the ends of the earth.

I read this as Freedom Caucus people and didn't bat an eye.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-21-15 8:52 AM
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31: My first thought was French Canadians but I had no idea what horrible thing they had done.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 10-21-15 8:58 AM
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I am just completely in the dark in this thread.

21: Can you give us, like, three or four recommendations, then, and mix that in there to avoid spoiling it? I'm interested in this topic. Now that you mention it I can think of very few things that had female villains in a meaningful way. But the ones I can think of that I was in the target audience for (as in, not fairy tales), I liked. Spy and Coraline are the two good recent examples that come to mind. Coraline is very gendered - I'm not saying it's sexist, but the villain is the villain in a very female way, to put it in a spoiler-free way. Spy could almost have cast people of either gender in every role and the plot would have worked fine, but just happened to have a female protagonist and antagonist. I can think of lots of works with femme fatales who aren't The Antagonist, and lots of works with multiple protagonists and antagonists, some of whom happen to be female. But very few where the villain is a woman. Maybe I'm missing out.

29: It took me way too long to figure this out. I'd never heard of that system before, but reading the Wikipedia page, yeah, it looks pretty scary. I was still a tiny bit confused because at first glance it doesn't have much in common with Scientology other than both being generally bad, but on second though, yeah, there is a resemblance.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 10-21-15 9:43 AM
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The antecedent is right up there in Minivet's 17, if anyone is still lost.


Posted by: psinly theudonymous | Link to this comment | 10-21-15 9:59 AM
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the villain is the villain in a very female way
I love the movie Coraline (haven't read the novel), but that seems a valid criticism, in a Bechdel/problem-with-genre-not-necessarily-a-specific-work way.
It's like a paranoid schizophrenic's subversion of the Narnia trope. So good.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 10-21-15 10:00 AM
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I suspect the reason that female villains are more interesting (which... kind of, yeah) has a lot to do with sexist norms relating to authority and how it's exercised. Watching villains manipulate and scheme in villainous ways is just more interesting on some level than watching blunt-authority-figure-evil. And we see a lot of male villains who don't really - or don't have to - do that. But female villains are more likely (not always) to be acting from a less directly powerful position, or even if they are it's a different (more gendered) kind of power.

As fun as Darth Vader or Macbeth is Lady Macbeth is more interesting and dramatic because she has to do a lot more interesting things to get what she wants. When you see male villains doing the same thing they're about as compelling - Henry Czerny and Madeleine Stowe on Revenge are pretty similar as far as that goes, but to the extent that Stowe's character is more fun to watch it's largely because Czerny's character has more direct power (even if it still mostly does amount to scheming).* So it's more of an epiphenomenon than a direct relationship.

*Also that show is So. Much. Fun. I'm going to be really sad in a few weeks when I hit the end of season 4.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 10-21-15 10:00 AM
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Also the guy mentioned in 29 is absolutely right. FC is functionally indistinguishable from dowsing, and when it escalates to dowsing for consent (and Stubblefield isn't the first time this has happened, I think), it's deeply fucked up.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 10-21-15 10:01 AM
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1: Can you give us, like, three or four recommendations, then, and mix that in there to avoid spoiling it? I'm interested in this topic. Now that you mention it I can think of very few things that had female villains in a meaningful way.

Things and recommendations in general, or graphic novels?


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 10-21-15 10:06 AM
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I second Frowner's recommendation of DuChamp's Marqssaan books.


Posted by: X. Trapnel | Link to this comment | 10-21-15 10:11 AM
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Mme. Beck is a wonderful villainess. La Marquise de Merteuil. Lots of horrible women in Austen but they are either hilarious (de Burgh) or misguided in a way you can ultimately understand if not sympathize with.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 10-21-15 10:26 AM
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Male sociopaths as villains seem to be plenty popular these days, but it's true that more than a few have gotten to have a trope-with-legs feelings about them. (Given the number of dudes who seem to go out of their way to act like Disney film villains in real life I guess that's not surprising.)

I'm actually trying to remember the last book in which I read a really interesting villain of either gender. I suppose Infinite Jest, insofar as it could be said to have villains, has the A.F.R. who are quite interesting, Marathe in particular (and of course there's Johnny Gentle, Famous Crooner but he's more of an element of the setting).


Posted by: Lord Castock | Link to this comment | 10-21-15 10:34 AM
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a lot to do with sexist norms relating to authority and how it's exercised. Watching villains manipulate and scheme in villainous ways is just more interesting on some level than watching blunt-authority-figure-evil. And we see a lot of male villains who don't really - or don't have to - do that. But female villains are more likely (not always) to be acting from a less directly powerful position, or even if they are it's a different (more gendered) kind of power.

This articulates exactly what was nebulously floating around in my head.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-21-15 10:41 AM
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nebulously floating around in my head.

You let him in your head?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 10-21-15 10:44 AM
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43: italics-fail! banned!


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 10-21-15 10:44 AM
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I can think of lots of works with femme fatales who aren't The Antagonist, and lots of works with multiple protagonists and antagonists, some of whom happen to be female. But very few where the villain is a woman. Maybe I'm missing out.

Current Doctor Who (presenting as a woman, anyway). Snow White. Wizard of Oz. 101 Dalmatians. Misery. One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest. Carrie (her mum, I mean). Sunset Boulevard. Fatal Attraction. Dangerous Liaisons. Howl's Moving Castle. Any book with Dark Phoenix or Catwoman. Y: The Last Man (bit of a cheat that one). The Machine Girl. Buffy season 5. Angel season 2. The Ring. Heathers (kinda). Any Arthurian story. Any Baba Yaga story. The Strike.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 10-21-15 10:45 AM
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Gone Girl.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10-21-15 10:48 AM
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Fates and Furies.... something I have wondered about for some time: do you know any good scholarly sources on the extreme attraction that female mythological figures have for female (and some male) artists and to some extent women in general*? Comics aside, it seems so much more common for women than for men. I've never met a dude who especially ide tified with Thor or whatever. Women who identify with Athena are everywhere. Maybe I'm wrong. I'm sure bob will give me lots of pointers here. ("Let's give some other students a chance to talk," she said villainously.)

* Have I mentioned the "Artemis seeks Bast" personal ad? Who wants to be Bast?!


Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 10-21-15 10:58 AM
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There does seem like there's an interesting distinction between female villains who are all schemey and manipulative and female villains who are basically acting like caregivers except they hurt people really badly, which is interesting. The latter is the one you tend to find in horror stories and the first sort in fun stories, or I find the first sort really fun to watch and the second sort scary anyway. There's got to be something interesting going on there, right? Hopefully it's something interesting about gender roles and societal stuff and not just less interesting stuff about my psychology though.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 10-21-15 10:59 AM
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For me *the* female villain is Cathy from East of Eden.


Posted by: torque | Link to this comment | 10-21-15 11:40 AM
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47: Oh, that reminds me of another, which combines both a female villain and women identifying with (technically as) mythological figures: The Wicked + The Divine. You should all read it, it's great.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 10-21-15 11:44 AM
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For me *the* female villain is Cathy

ACK!


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 10-21-15 11:54 AM
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35: I didn't mean it as a criticism, but now that you mention it, yeah, I can see it that way. Given that gender roles exist at all, a twist on them like in Coraline is going to be villainous. Whereas Spy - incidental jokes and lines wouldn't make sense if certain characters were gender-flipped, but the vast majority of the plot would. I can imagine the same movie starring, I don't know, Jonah Hill in Melissa McCarthy's role and/or James McAvoy in Rose Byrne's role.

38: What I meant was, HBGB said that her kid liked a certain graphic novel, but didn't want to say what it was because she'd already described it and that would be spoilery. So I was asking her to recommend three or four graphic novels, of which that graphic novel would be one, hopefully preserving the mystery of it.

45/46: Some of that list is fairy tales, more or less. Like I said, I'm aware of them, but they aren't the kind of thing I'd read for fun myself. (Or so I assumed, but now that I mention it there's a series I've enjoyed by Melissa Meyer, kind of sci-fi retellings of fairy tales, and hey, the villain there is a wicked stepmother queen and I just forgot to list it above.) Now that you mention it, you're right, Doctor Who has had two female antagonists lately. I've seen Gone Girl. I don't know why I couldn't think of these.

47: Can't say I've noticed women identifying with Athena specifically, and to the extent that women identify with the maiden/mother/crone, I assumed it was related to pagan or New Age belief systems. But what do I know, I miss lots of stuff.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 10-21-15 1:34 PM
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The principal antagonist in Philip Pullman's books is female. I'm not crazy about them myself, but since people seem quite fond of them, and she's definitely villainous.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 10-21-15 2:22 PM
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The Room and, arguably, the first couple of seasons of the Sopranos.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 10-21-15 2:26 PM
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||

How long should one wait before giving up hope on a job? The last candidate interviewed was last Thursday.

|>


Posted by: Chopper | Link to this comment | 10-21-15 2:31 PM
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||

How long should one wait before giving up hope on a job? The last candidate interviewed was last Thursday.

|>


Posted by: Chopper | Link to this comment | 10-21-15 2:32 PM
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I'm really curious.


Posted by: Chopper | Link to this comment | 10-21-15 2:32 PM
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Gender is a minefield, a minefield, I tell ya. All I know is what I know.

Picked up another scholarly study on "Boys Love Manga," this one by Mark McLelland, gay in Japan

Very popular anime subgenre involves the "reverse harem." Innocent but feisty young woman moves to the castle with seven beautiful vampires, all who fight each other to be her servant. Or Greek gods. Or a billionaires sons. Some are sweet & shy, some are strong, some are suffering, some are wicked. The point of these is that the female audience can identify with all eight roles, in shifting and dynamic ways. Both seme and uke, alternating. Or just one.

Do guys identify with female characters? Hanging out on reddit anime, it won't be as explicit, but I think so. Big time. And not just as a penis substitute. These guys wanna cry.

Wiki: Rokka no Yuusha was very popular with guys last season. Locked room mystery with superheroes (5 F, 3 M). Examine the cast.

Yes, the roles are still gendered somewhat, but the roles have gotten so complicated that you need tvtropes to create a taxonomy out the qualities expressed.

TV Tropes Tsundere ...article starts out ungendered, becomes more so as reaches the end

"Male characters in particular should be considered for Jerk with a Heart of Gold status, as arguably because of Double Standards, men are generally that instead of tsundere, although the kuudere subtype is more equally split in gender. Oranyan is sometimes used to refer to a male tsundere character - incorrectly since it means the complete opposite. "


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 10-21-15 2:34 PM
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55/56/57: can't you email or call and ask for an update?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 10-21-15 2:37 PM
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And anyway, in order to work (why?), stories need to a degree to make antagonists sympathetic, and protagonists conflicted using questionable means or confused ends.

Monstrous vampire queen last month grew up in solitary in an 8x8 cell for 16 years. As in saw one asshole, and only him, and he abused her. So she lacked empathy. Shocker.

Evil always has its reasons.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 10-21-15 2:53 PM
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59: the impression I've always had is that's Just Not Done. Am I wrong?


Posted by: Chopper | Link to this comment | 10-21-15 3:05 PM
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I don't know! I did it once and the "update" I got was "we've changed the job description from 'software engineer' to 'senior software engineer'; sorry!".


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 10-21-15 3:07 PM
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Spotty-handed villainesses

When I read a lot of Diana Wynne Jones in a row I get sad because she's so good at making a very convincing Bad Woman out of any woman who doesn't live up to being a selfless nurturing mother. Compare the parents (and stepmother, and fairies) in _Fire and Hemlock_, for instance. In any single book this is perfectly reasonable, but in all of them together, so affecting, so moral, it's a trap.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 10-21-15 3:08 PM
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Wire mommy never hugged me.


Posted by: Opinionated Monkey Villain | Link to this comment | 10-21-15 3:10 PM
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61: I've been advised to do it by people who seemed sane. I admittedly didn't get that job.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-21-15 3:16 PM
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I can see calling if you have another offer, to see what they're up to.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 10-21-15 3:25 PM
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I've liked Stowe since Last of the Mohicans, but I couldn't watch her TV show beyond the few few episodes of season 2.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 10-21-15 3:30 PM
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first few


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 10-21-15 3:31 PM
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Season 2 went downhill and then they got rid of the show runner and season 3 went back to being great (and probably season 4 as well but I'm only a little of the way in).


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 10-21-15 3:33 PM
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55 If it's just not done in your field then I'd say wait for it, Chopper. Mine is a different field, I know and dealing with mores of a different country, but it took 3 weeks till I heard about whether I got the job I now have. I'd actually given up on it the very day I heard.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 10-21-15 7:33 PM
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There's a lot of female villains in Jim Thompson's books. The Big Sleep of course should be mentioned as well. The Laundry Files have had some good female villains too. Kadrey's Sandman Slim books have Aelita the evil angel (as it were). So, in conclusion, lots of female villains in genre fiction.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 10-21-15 7:43 PM
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WOOHOO METS!


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 10-21-15 8:42 PM
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72: I don't give a shit about the Mets but I'm fascinated by Daniel Murphy apparently just deciding out of nowhere to spend October being a god of baseball.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 10-21-15 10:39 PM
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Yeah, its kind of amazing. He's going to get a ridiculous free-agent contract next season.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 10-22-15 4:18 AM
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||

Alan Stephen Wolfe on Osamu Dazai's The Setting Sun (read this in translation)

"There are two dilemmas raised by the novel that concern us here: Is Naoji's self-destruction that of a victim or of an oppressor? And is Kazuko's act of willful conception (the opposite of self-destruction, i.e., adding life) a sign of resignation (life must go on, regardless of defeat and ugliness) or of hope (optimism for the future)??"

Interesting that a critic who views Dazai as even more negative than his image as the "Saint of Negativity" would portray, can't imagine the third alternative, that for a young upper-class college-educated woman whose family has lost their wealth, choosing to be an unmarried mother in 1948 Japan would be a radically self-destructive act.

|>


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 10-22-15 7:26 AM
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73 -- yes, how wonderful. There's nothing like getting stupidly emotionally invested in a sport that has a 162 game season that ends in a stupid month-long luck* rollercoaster that only brings pain to the good and pleasure to the assholish.

*yes, the Mets were well-constructed for the playoffs specifically but still.


Posted by: Roberto Tigre | Link to this comment | 10-22-15 9:46 AM
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55/56/57 reminded me: if any of you know or might be a candidate for a Rails dev job with a good team in the East Bay, in an academic setting where you won't get treated as a dinosaur for being over thirty, holler at me or lurid.


Posted by: lourdes kayak | Link to this comment | 10-22-15 10:39 AM
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I'm not happy the Dodgers lost either.

Here, forget all about that with this long form account of the Stubblefield case. It's quite the fucking freak show.

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/25/magazine/the-strange-case-of-anna-stubblefield.html


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 10-22-15 10:43 AM
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That's really way too long.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-22-15 11:03 AM
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Some highlights:

When Wesley told Anna he thought she had taken advantage of his brother, she could not muster a response. At last, with her help, D.J. began typing: ''No one's been taken advantage of. I've been trying to seduce Anna for years, and she resisted valiantly.'' Then he typed another message, meant for Anna: ''Kiss me.'' Wesley walked out...
After many hours of discussion and several visits to the day program, Anna finally convinced D.J. that she meant all that she had been saying. ''O.K., I believe you really do love me,'' he typed. ''But are you physically attracted to me?''
''That broke my heart all over again,'' she said in court. ''I said, 'I'm in love with you the whole way.' Then he said, 'Kiss me,' and I did. He said, 'Kiss me again.' I kissed him again.''
D.J. typed, ''Do you think it's even possible with my cerebral palsy for us to make love?''
They met the following Sunday at D.J.'s house, while his mother was at church. They tried to kiss while lying down on D.J.'s bed, on the theory that it would be easier, given his impairments. But D.J. kept sitting up, and then he lowered himself onto the floor. Anna offered him the keyboard and asked if anything was wrong. Nothing's wrong, he typed, he was very happy, but also overwhelmed -- he needed a minute. Anna said O.K., and D.J. scooted out into the hall. ''Look, whatever we're going to do, you set the pace,'' she told him. ''You call the shots. This is all about what feels right for you. I just love being close to you in whatever way works for you and for your body. No pressure.''
A few minutes later she was naked.
''I've dreamed about this,'' he typed.
At his request, she said, she pushed down his pants, loosened his diaper and performed oral sex on him. They never finished -- ''I was close,'' D.J. typed -- but they had tickets for a disability-­related film festival at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. They were going to see ''Wretches & Jabberers,'' a 2010 documentary about F.C. produced by Douglas Biklen, the founder of the Syracuse institute.
A week later, Anna recalled, the couple tried to have sex in Anna's office at Conklin Hall, with condoms, a blanket and an exercise mat. It didn't work, and they ended up just sitting on the floor together, Anna talking and D.J. typing. Anna asked him if he might want to see some pornography, ''to see what things looked like and different positions people used and that sort of thing.'' She said she wouldn't want to pay for porn or watch anything offensive, but that she would be O.K. with finding free clips on the Internet that depicted couples engaging in mutually pleasurable intercourse. He demurred, typing out that in his view the women in porn are being exploited, and that, besides, Anna was more beautiful than any porn star, and he really wanted to be thinking only about her when they finally made love.

Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 10-22-15 11:22 AM
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81

80: If I knew you were going to extract the juicy parts, I wouldn't have had to read the whole thing.

So deeply bizarre....


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 10-22-15 11:29 AM
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82

I would have believed her but no man has ever said or thought "I was close but I don't want to miss that documentary."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-22-15 11:31 AM
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83

81: If I wouldn't have assumed someone was going to extract the juicy parts, I would have read the whole thing.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-22-15 11:32 AM
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84

83: Wisdom.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 10-22-15 11:33 AM
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85

It's really amazing how deeply deluded she was - I mean, the article literally describes him trying to get away when she's attempting to have sex with him.

I felt like the article was maybe a bit too sympathetic to her and her story, though. For once reading the comments was kind of reassuring - most of them were people talking about how appalling the whole thing was, and relatively few of them going "Oh but I bet he wanted it".


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 10-22-15 11:49 AM
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At his request, she said, she pushed down his pants, loosened his diaper and performed oral sex on him.

Thanks gswift! You performed a public service of your own there, of course I may never be the same again....


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 10-22-15 11:54 AM
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''For a really progressive view of disability, there's no other place to be,'' a graduate-­student organizer told me on the first day. ''It's like we're in this little bubble. It's an amazing bubble!''

This bit is hilarious. It's almost too perfect of a quote.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 10-22-15 12:00 PM
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''Several years ago, one of the biggest F.C. skeptics offered something like $100,000 to any F.C. user who would go and pass his double-­blind test,'' Ashby said. ''Do you know how badly I wanted to get one of the people I know and love to go do that? Just because I wanted to stick it in his face and use that money to do good work in the world. But I would never subject somebody to that.''

Also: way to sound nothing at all like a television psychic!

I'm betting that she's talking about the James Randi Educational Fund prize, too, because I know they've had a standing offer for Facilitated Communication for a long time. If so "something like $100,000" is about an order of magnitude off.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 10-22-15 12:11 PM
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It's really amazing how deeply deluded she was

It's mind-boggling. I guess she was in a kind of bubble, and just completely lost touch with several important measures/markers of reality.

I read the entire article. I wish I could un-read the stuff that is highlighted by gswift.


Posted by: Just Plain Jane | Link to this comment | 10-22-15 3:41 PM
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89: Yeah, it's really something when DJ starts disliking church and liking red wine, and talking about how AS "valiantly resisted" his seduction. Just, no.
(I also don't think she should go to jail for 40 years, but.)


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 10-22-15 4:07 PM
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Seconded 86. Not clicking on apo links is second nature, but now even that mercy will gswift deny us.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 10-22-15 4:22 PM
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You guys are all less squeamish than I am; I skipped the smut in the NYT and here. I hope AS's kids are okay and can hang out with their dad and not their maternal grandmother; I do feel intensely sorry for them. What a fucking nightmare.


Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 10-22-15 4:26 PM
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93

I read the whole thing closely, and then went on to research a little on the net. I was especially interested in her expert and professional background in A-A and disability studies.

Somewhere partway thru, I was reminded of the Spivak:"Can the subaltern speak?" (Can we speak for the subaltern?) and in a world where I had the time and fewer other interests, I might connect FC to various parts of Cultural Theory etc. "In a Different Voice." Not kidding, not hostile.

As it is, I'll just keep this story in mind as a metaphor, a horizon.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 10-22-15 4:45 PM
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Also, I feel the improbability of the sentiment in 82 is pretty gender neutral. And my gut feeling is that doing this FC stuff would drive you insane no matter how stable you were initially, and initial instability is to be assumed.


Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 10-22-15 5:15 PM
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94: One of the things I tried to find out on the web without success was what percentage or proportion of FC "helpers" were female. Not 100% is all I know.

The linked article hints at these kind of speculations, with the mention of the sexual abuse allegations.

I don't buy into FC at all, and never have. And instability or insanity I'm not interested in. I kinda want o understand the kind of people, professionals with advanced degrees, who do buy into it, or into school demonic cult narratives, and what scars or damage or ressentiments make them susceptible.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 10-22-15 5:30 PM
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I don't know how much actual damage/lunacy it takes - really just a total lack of responsibility and narcissistic tendencies are enough to carry most academics well into the realm of crackpottery, especially if it's an area that makes you feel like a noble savior and massively advances your career in the process.

And dowsing is a beautiful example of how something so obviously well understood and completely known to be an artifact of human cognition and totally unambiguously not a real thing could nevertheless still persist and constantly show up over and over again*. Facilitated communication is basically dowsing for career success and widespread admiration and feeling like you're really a noble more enlightened person than other people,** except more effective at finding those things.


*From what I vaguely recall a massive percentage of the JREF challenges were people who were convinced they were capable of finding things through dowsing - just over, and over, and over. Television psychics/etc. often know they're conning people, at least on some level, and tend to stay away from that kind of thing unless they get overconfident or confuse "stage magicians" (who are very hard to fool) with "scientists" (who are easy to fool). People really into dowsing are usually completely sincere about it.
**Which, even before she got into it looks like something Stubblefield felt pretty drawn to.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 10-22-15 5:40 PM
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I'm safe because I can't advance my career.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-22-15 5:56 PM
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I don't know how much actual damage/lunacy it takes - really just a total lack of responsibility and narcissistic tendencies are enough to carry most academics well into the realm of crackpottery, especially if it's an area that makes you feel like a noble savior and massively advances your career in the process.

But since most academics (some of whom are narcissists; some of whom might be accused of a lack of responsibility) don't actually get carried off into the realm of crackpottery, I have to suspect that something more is required.

In this case, a culture, or a subculture, I suppose, that legitimizes the championing of a thoroughly discredited technique (FC) as being in itself a badge of merit, and a sign of one's commitment to the struggle.

There are no doubt issues of individual psychology, and of particular life circumstances, that helped to create this very sad, and extremely bizarre, case. But without a pro-FC (against the heartless and stodgy scientists) cultural, or subcultural, context, AS never would have ventured so far into the land of jaw-droppingly inexplicable crackpot craziness. She was in a bubble; and she mistook that bubble for the more-or-less-shared reality that we call our actual world.


Posted by: Just Plain Jane | Link to this comment | 10-22-15 8:57 PM
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Her ex-husband is going to have a really awkward Christmas letter to write this year.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-22-15 9:04 PM
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100

"As you may have heard, Anna and I have decided to see other people...."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-22-15 9:06 PM
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"Women say they want you to communicate more with them and then they leave you for the silent type. I think we've all been there at least once."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-22-15 9:13 PM
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"Anna, ever the intrepid explorer, has been resarching some of the architectural gems of Newark, New Jersey. You may reach her at:

Essex County Correctional Facility
Inmate Name and Serial Number
354 Doremus Avenue
Newark, NJ."


Posted by: Just Plain Jane | Link to this comment | 10-22-15 9:29 PM
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"When she said she was buried in her work, she had it exactly backward."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-22-15 9:31 PM
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resarching s/b researching, obviously


Posted by: Just Plain Jane | Link to this comment | 10-22-15 9:39 PM
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I should not have laughed at 101, which is so bad it's a mortal sin. But: I confess, I did laugh.


Posted by: Just Plain Jane | Link to this comment | 10-22-15 9:47 PM
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Somewhere partway thru, I was reminded of the Spivak:"Can the subaltern speak?"

GEORGE: Permission to speak right now, sir, or I think I might just burst like a bally balloon.
BLACKADDER: Later, George. Much later.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 10-23-15 3:12 AM
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Moby is on a roll.

But since most academics (some of whom are narcissists; some of whom might be accused of a lack of responsibility) don't actually get carried off into the realm of crackpottery

I was very tempted to put [citation needed] but I think this is an activist syndrome rather than an academic syndrome. For all the stuff about how scientists long to break paradigms and so on, most of them are really quite happy working within the existing paradigm and finding out new stuff within it. You can be quite content with the Koch postulates and still accomplish great things in pathology or microbiology. And, doing that, you're kept sane by accepting consensus reality and having it continually reinforced. Crankery is paradigm-breaking gone bad.

But if you're an activist, then it's because you are in some way dissatisfied with consensus reality and you want to change it. Which is great, and, you know, crack on, chaps, but it does have a (small) risk that you start to regard reality as your enemy and those who believe in it as a conspiracy aimed at you. And almost certainly this will be true for some people - every activist has opposition - but you risk starting to believe that it's true for everyone.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 10-23-15 3:19 AM
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Of course, Stubblefield was an activist, but she was only an extreme in a group of thousands of deluded facilitators. One can assume, incidentally, that there are many more abusers who do not record their abuse and share it with the world.

But I consider the thousands of facilitators themselves not to be isolated chimeras, but merely extreme instances deriving from a more general ideology or social conditions that enable and encourage them, one that can be characterized or reduced to:

"Let/help/force the previously silent to speak."

One can, if one looks, and avoids atomizing and individualizing instances in order to obfuscate more general social conditions, find daily examples of socializing silence and speech, from the trend to end lectures in college classrooms and valorize student participation to pointing that that Chris Rock as host may be the only black on the Oscar stage.

The content of speech will always be socialized and controlled, and thereby in fact, control and socialization are created in the demand for speech, and the delusion that speech is only being facilitated by the benevolent listener, translator, media.

Speak your mind freely. Wrong, try again. Okay, you spoke the way I like this time. Have a cookie.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 10-23-15 7:57 AM
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Did you really just compare being corrected in a college classroom to fucking your mentally disabled patient?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-23-15 8:01 AM
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I'm going to have to take an early lunch because of that.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-23-15 8:02 AM
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Bob appreciates the oneness of all things.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 10-23-15 8:02 AM
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Not even mentioning the rise of social media and the ubiquity of cell phones. Jesus, just looking out my car windows I see people talking constantly now, all the fucking time.

109:"and avoids atomizing and individualizing instances in order to obfuscate more general social conditions" is what I said.

And lo, the moralist appeared and said :Totally different, man, and not connected at all. How dare you.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 10-23-15 8:19 AM
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And I should have known you wouldn't get the reference to classrooms, which wasn't at all about "corrections" and couldn't be read that way. I knew I should link.

Flip You and Your Flipped Classroom ...Loomis at LGM. Active learning.

"Anyway, one of the many buzzwords and untested idiotic ideas that drives me crazy is the idea of the so-called "flipped classrooms." Translated into English, this means that lectures are discouraged and it's all about discussion and letting students take the lead in the classroom.

But the flipped classroom as ideology is about undermining the entire idea of lecture and expertise in favor of vague discussions around how students are feeling about a topic without building any kind of skills that are either discipline-specific or prepare students for a job."


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 10-23-15 8:28 AM
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