Manpain

Through a series of variously depressing links about sexism I explored today, I came across this music video, for a song called "The Price," and its associated vid notes.  You have to download it. The video focuses on the tragic moments of pain in the story arcs of male heroic characters, generally featuring the death or injury of female characters they have a relationship with.  I found myself thinking back frequently to one of my favorite articles, How to be a fan of problematic things.

Liking problematic things doesn’t make you an asshole. In fact, you can like really problematic things and still be not only a good person, but a good social justice activist (TM)! After all, most texts have some problematic elements in them, because they’re produced by humans, who are well-known to be imperfect. But it can be surprisingly difficult to own up to the problematic things in the media you like, particularly when you feel strongly about it, as many fans do. We need to find a way to enjoy the media we like without hurting other people and marginalised groups.

Seriously, that article is awesome.  Check it out.

The vidder's notes about the Price video go into massive detail about the way in which male characters are portrayed as uniquely capable of experiencing deep emotion, and as the primary (often only) touchstone for audience empathy -- specifically, about certain kinds of pain: people close to them die or go through something traumatic, which is painful for them, far more than the original victim; they have ridiculous amounts of power, and that makes them feel awful all the time; women they love are killed (often off-camera) and the man is totally sad about it and stuff.

This article is full of lightbulbs about really problematic things in popular media, so if you tend to feel defensive about stuff you like, I really recommend reading How to be a fan of problematic things first.  Then, come back for such features which I was embarrassed to have not previously noticed as:

Uneasy rests the head that wears the crown! &c. This manpain flavour is also known as "white man's burden" – the sadness that comes because having power and privilege is hard work. This category is actually owned by the Doctor, because no character has ever had so much white man's burden as he has – and he's just so LONELY there at the top. "The Lonely God," seriously.

That one was hard to swallow.  I really like Doctor Who.  Or,

[O]n Leverage, Nate lost a son to cancer. Which has never happened to ANYONE ELSE. But his pain is so great and overwhelming, so huge, that even his wife, who lost exactly the same son in exactly the same way, cannot understand, cannot feel as deeply as he does, cannot be as destroyed by it.

I did notice that one, but it seems even worse when put in the context of the rest of these examples.

There are loads of other examples in there, and the writer wraps it up with a bunch of links to TV Tropes, which are also worth checking out.

New Hampshire's only Chick-fil-A supports LGBTQ?

There's a Chick-fil-A in Nashua, NH -- which I had no idea about -- whose manager, Anthony Picolia, has announced his intention to sponsor the New Hampshire Pride Fest, which is being held in Manchester the Saturday after next (August 11). Picola said in a press release:

It would make me sad if someone felt that they were not openly welcomed into my life or restaurant based on their belief, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender.

Chick-fil-A at Pheasant Lane Mall has gay employees and serves gay customers with honor, dignity and respect. We also don’t discriminate in giving back to the Nashua community, donating to a wide variety of causes.

Picolia "challenge[s] people to come have a conversation with me before they make assumptions or boycott my restaurant."  This all sounds great, and I'm happy to see that when companies like Chick-fil-A subsidize hate, they get backlash even from inside their own company.

And the fact that the Nashua Chick-fil-A donates to pro-LGBTQ causes might balance out the corporate donations to institutionalized bigotry -- meaning there's at least one Chick-fil-A that's ethically neutral.  But being part of the franchise still means that their money goes up the chain, where it then finances hate groups.

It's not enough for me to go out of my way to drive to Nashua and buy a sandwich, but if you love Chick-fil-A and can't bring yourself to boycott them, taking a road trip to the Nashua restaurant would make a strong statement.  If you do it next week, you can come to the NH Pride Fest, too.

 Anonymous letter about what it was like to be a gay Chick-fil-A employee Wednesday

For fear of losing her job, this employee didn't reveal her identity.  She spoke out against the boycott initially, saying that LGBTQ employees at Chick-fil-A suffer because of it.  But after seeing the behavior of the congregations on Wednesday that came out in support, she took it back.

When these preachers told their congregations to support Chick-fil-A by eating there today, no one called the restaurants and said “Hey, you may be flooded with customers. Thaw extra chicken.” Not one of the employees in those congregations gave the restaurant a heads-up. That sort of consideration wasn’t even an afterthought. The ministers, and through them the congregants, didn’t think about the consequences of their actions, or who it might screw over. And it ended up screwing us rather thoroughly.

I wasn't surprised to hear about the bigotry against homosexuality.  I was surprised that the lack of human empathy coming from the people who showed up to support Chick-fil-A on Wednesday extended that far.  Even their preachers and community organizers don't seem to think of restaurant staffers as real people.  It's like they think the distribution of humanity breaks down into "My church group" and "Meat puppets."

Their descendants will be ashamed of them, just as I’m ashamed of my grandparents’ support of segregation.

Eagle Scouts turn in their badges in protest

Maggie Koerth-Baker at Boing Boing reports on Eagle Scouts, those who hold the highest honor available to a Boy Scout, returning their badges in protest of the Boy Scouts' repeated affirmation of their explicitly anti-gay policy. I was in the Boy Scouts when I was a teenager -- I quit when I was a second-class, for moral reasons (I didn't like the religious stuff or the gay thing, and I had philosophical quibbles with most of the specific moral affirmations) though if I'm being honest, I hate the outdoors too much to have ever made it to Eagle.

It's nice to see people who do believe in what the Scouts, at best, stand for doing something to try to push the organization in a less totally awful direction.