Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Women's Hockey Coach Fired For High Salary, Made Less Than Male Counterpart

"Shannon Miller built the University of Minnesota Duluth's hockey program and turned it into a powerhouse. With five NCAA championships under her belt the last thing she expected was to be let go. 
"I'm heartbroken and I'm so disappointed that they would show me so much disrespect," Miller said. 
UMD Athletic Director Josh Berlo said hard times forced them to make a hard decision. The University of Minnesota Duluth faces a $4.5 million dollar deficit. 
"We're at a point where we are not able to sustain the highest paid coach in Division I hockey's salary," Berlo said 
Miller's base salary this season is $215,000. Miller said she would have taken a pay cut but was never given a choice. 
The Bulldog's men's head hockey coach Scott Sandelin makes $265,000. Berlo wouldn't say if Sandelin will face a pay cut but did say the university reviews all contracts as they reach an end." (emphasis added)
Now, here I want to note that, oftentimes, in stories about women's sports, qualifiers are usually used to distinguish male from female athletes and coaches.

"The winningest coach in (women's) NCAA." "The fastest (female) runner." "The best (female) player."

Here, however, the UMD Athletic Director says that the female coach he fired was the highest paid coach in Division I hockey.  Yet, a mere two sentences later we learn that the woman in question, who has more wins, championships, and longevity at the college, still made significantly less than the men's hockey coach.

This situation is not unusual. It's just, of course, notable that her lower salary was deemed to be too high to allow her to continue on in her position, despite her many accomplishments.

Like I said yesterday, just another day in men being paid more than equally (or more) talented women.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Shows About Men and Their Lady Helpers

My partner regularly watches Law & Order: SVU.  The other day, I noticed that Hulu describes the series like this:
"This hard-hitting and emotional series follows Detective Elliot Stabler (Christopher Meloni) and his partner Olivia Benson (Emmy-winner Mariska Hargitay) of the Special Victims Unit of the New York City Policy Department as they investigate sexually related crimes to bring the perpetrators to justice." (emphasis added)
Now, I've always thought of SVU as having an ensemble cast.  Or, alternately, if it's about any one cast member, it would be about Olivia (obvs). Elliot isn't even a character on the current season.

Yet, note how, by referencing Olivia in relation to Elliot, this description implies that Elliot is the center of the show and she's his sidekick.  The show, we are to believe, doesn't follow two detectives. It follows Elliot and "his partner." Who oh, by the way, happens to be an Emmy-winner.

Which, yes, also notable is that of the two actors, it is Mariska Hargitay who has far more accolades. Here, I counted 28 nominations (including Emmy and Golden Globes) and 8 wins for her. In contrast, Meloni has 4 nominations and 0 wins. But sure, it makes sense to center Elliot, because … um?

In related news:
"The ongoing Sony hacking scandal has brought many of the film studio’s secrets and transgressions to light, including one involving the earnings of the stars of “American Hustle,” the 2013 David O. Russell-directed film with local ties. In the latest leaked Sony e-mails, between Columbia Pictures president of business affairs Andrew Gumpert and Sony co-chair Amy Pascal, it was revealed that Jennifer Lawrenceand Amy Adams were paid less than their male costars despite both earning Academy Award nominations for their roles."
Just another day in men being centered and paid more than equally (or, let's be honest, more) talented female co-workers.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Quote of the Day

Eric Puchner, in his article "Death Becomes Him":
Americans don’t like to talk about the inevitable: Our screens are filled with zombies, and yet speaking frankly about death is seen as “morbid” or “unhealthy.” Surely the recent Ebola panic is a product of this repression, a way of turning our own mortality into a foreign threat, an illegal immigrant landing on our shores. Death is embarrassing to us, even a bit unpatriotic. I’ve discovered this about my own fear of extinction. When I bring it up, people tend to shift in their chairs, as if holding in a fart. A look of impatience crosses their faces. Just as often, too, they can’t understand what the hell I’m talking about.
In addition to the substantive content of the article, in which the author accompanies a mortician on his day-to-day activities, I was drawn to the paradox in this quote.

We do seem to be a nation of contradictions.

Death is glorified and ever-present in our media, even as its inevitability is, in many, psychologically denied. Bullying is widely denounced in the wake of suicides and mass shootings even as any serious measures to address it are then later bemoaned as "political correctness gone awry." Women are pedestalized, and also terrorized and targeted online.  The troops are supported unless something more for them has to be done than stamping yellow ribbons on our cars.

I realize that even talking about these issues in a passive-voice sort of way is simplistic. The same people who do A aren't necessarily the same people who do B.

It seems, mostly, that the dominant, patriotic, (mostly) conservative narratives are not adequately aligned with reality. (I know, NEWSFLASH!)

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Who's Playing Dragon Age: Inquisition?

I started it last weekend and am enjoying it.  I prefer playing Dragon Age games as a Social Justice Warrior mage, usually human or elf.  In this case, I'm playing as a human mage.

I'm liking the bigger picture feature of The War Room, as well as encountering the new (and old) cast of characters. Yesterday, while playing, I encountered Krem for the first time, who's been getting positive reviews as a trans character.

For those interested, check out an article by Bioware writer Patrick Weekes, on the creation of Krem.

I know an "argument" against making characters in games more diverse, and not centering straight white cis dudes, is that games would henceforth suck and be ruined for all time. Here, when people say they want to see themselves reflected in games, critics sometimes respond by saying that then games wouldn't about The Game anymore, it would be about Political Correctness.

Yes, it's a silly, self-centered, and privileged view that many entitled dude gamers have.

The truth is, I wouldn't play Bioware games if the company didn't make great role-playing games.  I have quit games that I thought were bad or boring, within 15 minutes, never to look back if they weren't working for me.  For instance, Bayonetta - which, yes, has a central female character, but I don't like games that are just straight-up combat.  I like story, character development, plot, funny dialogue, and yes - fighting.

My gratitude to Bioware for trying and for, once again, getting it.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Reading Update

Okay, it seems it's December already, so I'm putting the final books of the year in my reading queue.

I had originally planned to finish the final book in Kushiel's Legacy next, but it turns out that I just found out Sarah Waters recently published a new book, The Paying Guests.  So, that will be next, likely followed by the Kushiel book!

Any other urgent book recommendations I should know about?  What are you all reading?

Finally, just as note regarding those who have been ScRuTiNiZiNg to find all of those hidden, sinister meaning behind my blog conversations, comment moderating, and moral values, I really don't know what else to tell ya, but, in general:

Oh Internet.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Another Post About Blogging and Civility

My thanks to those who have privately checked in with me regarding recent conversations happening here and, about me, elsewhere.

I've been blogging long enough to know that some people on the Internet seem to forget that they are interacting with actual people, albeit through Internet.  Perhaps it's the medium that eases people's tendency to frame others as caricatures. Narratives can be important to maintain, after all.

Indeed, that's why I created this "self-portrait," many years ago, to give folks a cartoon version of me to direct their projections and ire:


Anyway, I am fine.

I have often been on the receiving end of poor behavior by anti-gay and anti-feminist folks, and even at times, by pro-gay, feminist, and "feminist" folks.  Engaging is not usually a fun endeavor, but I try to participate in good faith, giving people the benefit of the doubt that they're doing more than showing up here with a single-minded, fingers-in-the-ears vendetta. Up to a point.

I have said before and I'll repeat that it's my experience that a blogger and commenting participants can quickly become containers for others to displace their anger, accusations, threats, hobby horses, and hurt. Moderate too much, and people question your motives, start whinging about free speech.  Moderate not enough, and people write novellas on your blog that get amplified to a readership you've built and which are potentially defamatory.

One mis-step, one thing you've said (or not said) that's misunderstood or misrepresented, and Bam! You are a Very Bad Person. A bigot, racist, a sexist, a misandrist, a misogynist, a transphobe, an abuser, a religion-phobe, a cat-hater,  or what-have-you, despite any other long-standing track record you've built up. All of the good things that you are become instantly erased by the bad. (Free tip of the day for not pissing people off while blogging: Don't Blog!)

I have blogged here, at other feminist sites, at LGBT sites, and even at a conservative site.  What is consistently reinforced in me from all of these experiences is that people of all political stripes can be unfair jerks but also decent and kind, even as popular political narratives in the US are extremely binary ("liberals are this, conservatives are that"; "feminist are this; MRAs are that"; "Christians are this; atheists are that").  Political opponents or those with whom we have disagreements on Internet are continually painted as 100% pure evil, with little to no concession that people can hold nuanced positions and that we are all imperfect.

This observation isn't new or super startling, I know.

What does seem to deserve some lengthier conversation is the not uncommon co-opting of social justice, anti-violence, feminist, persecution, and victim buzzwords and lingo in questionable circumstances. Many people are simply far more attuned to slights against themselves than they are attuned to their capacity to harm.

Thus, when people see themselves as victims, which they can do at even the smallest of slights or perceived slights, it seems really hard for them to also seem themselves as capable of inflicting harm and abuse on others. I have seen this pattern time and time again, and I'm not just referring to the group/discussion that spurred this post.

When I guest blogged at a conservative site, a couple of the regular conservative bloggers often said things that were horribly anti-gay. When civilly asked to explain their thoughts further, or when respectfully critiqued, they sometimes claimed they were being "abused" and "harassed" by gay commenters.  Practically every other day, groups like the National Organization for Marriage frame legitimate, peaceful opposition as harassment inflicted upon Christians by "radical homosexual activists."  Liberals, feminists, and progressives, too, can mis-appropriate the language of abuse and victimization when they're being aggressive or when it's not warranted.

It is a tough dynamic to deal with.  We are sometimes told to believe those claiming abuse and that it's up to the abused, rather than outsiders, to determine whether abuse occurred.

In the case of anti-gay Christians, an entire culture of conservative Christianity is on their side along with powerful institutions, convincing them that they are under attack.  So, even when gently confronted, they often over-react: Stop persecuting us!  When confronted with actual aggression, they generalize the aggression to the entire group "gay people."

It also seems that something is at work that makes people, particularly people who see themselves as victims, incapable of or unwilling to accurately gauge the level of harm that they are capable of inflicting on others.

So, back to the conservative blog I used to participate in -- When I asked one of the anti-gay bloggers to consider that her words were hurtful to gay people, she genuinely seemed to feel so powerless in society that she said something to the effect of, "What does anyone care what little old me thinks, anyway?"

Anecdotally, that comment stuck with me as an indicator of how when some people feel small, they seem to think their harmful actions don't have real consequences to others: I don't feel powerful, so what I do or say doesn't really matter. They dish out rude, aggressive behavior that they would find unacceptable  - possibly atrocious - if directed at themselves. This mindset seems true even if, say, powerful institutions are on their side, or if their blog is a group blog of, say, 50 or more people obsessively picking apart every action of one blogger that they vow to take down.

Anyway, I note all of this while acknowledging that I am not perfect, myself. I have made mistakes and will continue to make mistakes. It is easy, lazy, and oftentimes inaccurate to think of our political opponents as monsters with whom we have little in common - and I have done that myself, particularly with anti-LGBT folks, because I have genuinely, legitimately thought they were monstrous.

In this shared tendency, many people of all political persuasions have more in common with one another than we'd ever care to admit.

The Civility Series
Civility and Understanding
Trolls, Online Civility, and Political Agendas

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Rome Hosts Conference on Complementarity

Last week, several offices of the Roman Catholic church held an event in Rome called The Complementarity of Man and Woman: An International Colloquium.

Many American opponents of marriage equality were thrilled by this conference and some, such as Rick Warren, were even speakers.

I guess, if you're looking to better understand what is meant by "gender complementarity" that is at the root of many people's opposition to marriage equality and, oftentimes, anti/non-feminism, the conference site would be good to check out.

What I'm so often struck by is the almost childish, emotional, romanticized way that complementarists talk about "man and woman." And yes, they often use the singular versions of these terms - which speaks to the belief that little variation exists within each gender category.

Anyway, from the conference's Affirmation about marriage and gender:
"See man and woman together. They are not just two people. He is for her, and she for him; it is inscribed in their bodies. Their union will bring life that binds and mingles families, encourages faith to flourish, and brings humankind and the world’s diverse cultures to flower again."
So, it's fine to be emotional about this stuff - but this Disney version of reality shouldn't be the determining basis for whether same-sex families deserve equality rights, protections, and dignity.  And, people are right to call out this thinking as irrational, unfair, and yes bigoted when it's consistently put forth to erase and marginalize non-heterosexual, non-cisgender, and gender non-conforming individuals.

A final note is that complementarists often talk about how "man and woman" are "different but equal."

7 out 32 speakers at this conference were women. Unlike their male counterparts, it is impossible for any of these women to be at the top of the hierarchy within the Roman Catholic church.

Just like within the US anti-equality movement, which is grounded in complementary thinking (at best), male voices, perspectives, and opinions are amplified and prioritized, even as they simultaneously tell us how important both "man and woman" are to life and marriage.

That is what gender complementarist "equality" looks like.