The Bechdel Test and Every Single Word.

There have been several projects and tests that have called out the lack of diversity and general problems that Hollywood has in regards to representing anyone other than a cishet white male. Hollywood has an undeniable diversity and representation problem and the problem seems to at the very least start at the top. I think it’s unbelievably important for us to be critical of the mainstream media that so many consume on a regular basis, especially along the lines of a lack of representation towards race/ethnicity and gender.

Dykes_to_Watch_Out_For_(Bechdel_test_origin)The Bechdel Test, for example, first started in 1985 and named after the cartoonist Alison Bechdel whose comic the rules first appeared. The Geek Feminism Wiki highlighted the rules for the test (taken more or less straight from the comic itself), saying that the requirements were:

  1. the movie [media] has at least two women characters;
  2. who talk to each other;
  3. about something other than a man.

And the test is more important than you might realize. Charlie Jane Anders wrote about the importance of the test over at io9, saying among many things that while the test is not fool proof, it does force many to think why so many films would fail such a low bar in regards to representing women.

Additionally, Dylan Marron, a New York based actor, has recently been working on a project titled Every Single Word, which has been a compilation of movies edited down to just the words spoken by people of color. He’s covered many mainstream videos like Birdman, Juno, the entire Lord of the Rings Trilogy (which fit into one 46 second video), Into the Woods (which was silent…), and many many more.

The videos highlight how few words are actually said by people of color in big/mainstream movies and the race problem in Hollywood. And the project highlights the dynamics behind a study done by UCLA a few years ago, which found that minorities and women are underrepresented (compared to actual demographics in the US) both in front of and behind the camera.

It’s both interesting and extremely disappointing that so many mainstream movies and television shows fail to have any sort of representation. The new reboot of Doctor Who started off strong in regards to passing the Bechdel test for the first couple seasons but once Stephen Moffat took over as showrunner, the show began to do significantly worse.

Whovian Feminism wrote about the problem between the first few seasons and the last few as far as the Bechdel Test and also addresses the fact that this test is not a measure of feminism but a measure of female presence within a medium and not talking about a man. And fan artists of the Harry Potter series have also helped many to reimagine the characters other than the default white that took over the movies.

Race and gender are not the only identities that Hollywood fails to address – there are so many other problematic issues that Hollywood and mainstream media needs to address. I am happy to see things like the Bechdel Test and Every Single Word addressing the problems, particularly in such blatant ways.

Chosen Family.

2c7af2cae330be5636e50ae695ed29bdI am a big fan of chosen families for the queer community – the people in your life that aren’t necessarily biologically or legally related to you that you consider family. They’re the people you can rely on, the ones you can often turn to in hard times, the ones that may fill the gaps your biological family might leave. And being in a biological family where I’m the only queer person feels alienating.

And in a community where threat of being kicked out (and/or actually kicked out of the house), abuse, homelessness, abandonment, public projects about queerness being vandalized – the ability to have that chosen family when others left (for me) is crucial, necessary, and wonderful. Over at Queer Queries, someone wrote about chosen families, particularly articulating that:

We carefully weave these families together in order to create a safe space for growth and love without limits. My chosen family has had a major impact on my life and development as a young adult by accepting, teaching, loving, and challenging me. When our biological families can’t love us in ways that we need, our chosen families pick up the slack. Chosen family means so many things. Sharing resources, whether that’s money or time or knowledge or a computer or a bike or music or coffee or a couch to sleep on. Trusting others to say no when they need to and yes when they want to. Traveling together, sometimes in silence. Helping each other move. Mutual respect, trust, and love.

For me, my chosen family has been the people who supported me, talked to me during hard times, called me out, wanted me to be better. It’s been hard over the past couple months though – my entire chosen family is scattered all over the country and some all over the world. Technology has made it possible for me to continue talking with the most important people in my life and I feel a hell of a lot less lonely when I’m able to tweet my reactions to a thing with a friend hundreds of miles away or look at the photos of what people are doing.

And with that, I think it’s important to take care of all the people in our community, especially the most marginalized. We should be taking care of and fighting for those in the working class, the people of color being impacted by police brutality, the elderly population of the queer community. And there are so many people who are doing these things and working on intersectional issues that impact many in the queer community.

#sHellNo update – #PDXvsShell

CLFoR05WoAAc7I_The fight and protests against Shell’s proposed arctic drilling continues, as protesters in Portland, OR have helped block a Shell vessel from leaving the cities harbor. The #sHellNo movement continues to try and stop Shell from moving any vessels and ships up north to work on drilling. Most recently, several protesters have been suspended from the St. John’s Bridge across the Willamette River in north Portland for several hours. OregonLive (the Oregonian’s online presence) has live updates about the protest.

th (10)In addition to the people suspended from the bridge and similar to the actions done in Seattle several months ago, there are also many kayaktivists who have taken to the waters around Swan Island in the Willamette. King5 highlighted the actions in the Willamette river, saying that:

Without the Fennica and its equipment, the Polar Pioneer rig can’t begin drilling operations, even though the White House has already approved Shell’s exploratory drilling permits for Arctic oil.

It’s unlikely the demonstrations will prevent the Fennica from leaving Portland, but protesters say every delay helps their cause.

In addition to news stories, there have also been several storifies that have collected tweets about the protests into one location:

  • Portland, OR says Shell No!
  • Portland Shell Protest at St. John’s Bridge
  • Activists Suspended off St. John’s Bridge
  • Activists Attempt to Block Oil Vessel in Portland, OR

Shell has already been approved to start digging up north but activists hope that with the delays brought on because of the protests, there will be a huge financial loss to the company.

Ableism and #ADA25

Disclaimer: I am writing this as a physically abled and neurotypical person whose life is not directly impacted by ableism. I cannot write about the experiences of people who do have disabilities and are in fact impacted by ableism and I can only amplify the words of those people.

A group of handicapped people led by 8-year-old Jennifer Keelan, left, crawl up the steps of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, March 12, 1990, to draw support for a key bill now pending in the House that would extend civil rights to disabled persons. The group of about 1,000 people or rode in wheelchairs down Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House to the Capitol. (AP Photo/Jeff Markowitz)

A group of handicapped people led by 8-year-old Jennifer Keelan, left, crawl up the steps of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, March 12, 1990, to draw support for a key bill now pending in the House that would extend civil rights to disabled persons. The group of about 1,000 people or rode in wheelchairs down Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House to the Capitol. (AP Photo/Jeff Markowitz)

The American Disabilities Act was only signed into act 25 years ago, with its birthday being just a few days ago. The Act is legislation that prohibits discrimination based on disabilities and to make sure that people with disabilities have the same opportunities.Getting the ADA signed into legislation took decades of advocating and in March of 1990, a large scale protest took place at the foot of the Capitol building in Washington DC. That protest eventually became known as the Capital Crawl, as those protesting were people with disabilities literally crawling their way up the 83 stairs in protest.

But just because the ADA has been federal legislation for over two decades does not mean the fight against ableism and discrimination based on disabilities is over. The ADA is far from perfect and the fight for justice will have to continue. Erica McFadden wrote about how after 25 years, there is still not equality for people with disabilities, especially in jobs. Hannah Finnie also wrote about how discrimination against people with disabilities still happens, saying in particular that:

The ADA … acts as a sort of dam for discrimination against people with disabilities: it blocks much previously legal discrimination, requiring larger bathroom stalls for people with disabilities … for instance. But the dam also has a few holes in it, permitting systemic discrimination against people with disabilities to flow through. Discrimination under the guise of religion is one such hole–a gaping one.

And ableism is still something that happens on a regular basis, something that the ADA hasn’t stopped yet. Over at disabledfeminists, there’s a post from several years ago about the five things to know about ableism, including what exactly the term means. There is also a difference between ableism and disableism – both terms are defined below to highlight the differences:

Ableism – a set of practices and beliefs that assign inferior value (worth) to people who have developmental, emotional, physical or psychiatric disabilities.

Disablism – a set of assumptions (conscious or unconscious) and practices that promote the differential or unequal treatment of people because of actual or presumed disabilities.


There are ways, of course, to avoid everyday ableism (including stopping with the inspirational porn), ways to help stop hate crime against people with disabilities, and ways to act as an ally to people with invisible disabilities. It’s also important to acknowledge that mainstream feminism helps to perpetuate ableism (in addition to other -isms…), particularly in regard to using ableist language. It is so important that every able bodied and neurotypical person works against ableism whenever possible.

There are so many things to keep in mind in this discussion as well. Remembering that language can often be problematic is crucial – for example, Lydia Brown wrote over on Black Girl Dangerous about how the term ‘pyschopath’ is both racist and ableist. Also remembering that intersectionality is always important in any discussion, like how Rory Judah Blank wrote about how capitalism, racism, and disability all work to fuck people over.


CLBmOD1UsAAgAZGToday, the hashtag #BlackWomenEqualPay on Twitter has been taking about the intersection of race and gender in regards to wages and money. Sarah Mirk wrote an article about five facts to know today about the issue, including the fact that women of color are more likely to work for minimum wage than white Americans (despite being one of the most educated groups in the US). Today was chosen as the day for the hashtag because it would take a black woman a year plus until July 28th of the next year to make what a white man is paid in one year.

The nonprofit group Atlanta Women for Equality was the group to start the hashtag to bring attention to the differences in wages between black women and white men, as research has shown that black women are typically paid $0.64 to every $1 that a white man makes. The group called for everyone (especially black women) to take selfies with a symbolic time card graphic that shows you clocking out at 2:07pm (64% into the average 9-5 job). Yesha Callahan also wrote about the hashtag and background behind it for The Root and Monica Simpson also wrote about black women pay for inequity.

And all my support goes out to the black women speaking out on the hashtag today because the internet has never been a safe space from the racist and sexist trolls that occupy space. To all the trolls out there denying the fact that black women are not paid enough for their work, it’s hilarious how unbelievably wrong you are. And one way (of so many) to be an ally in this situation (especially as a man) (and other than not harassing people, which should be a given) is to give your money to women.

Even More Resources for White People on Race and Racism.

This is yet another post for all of my fellow white people to learn more about race and racism. We will never be able to stop learning and it’s important for us to keep learning, reading, amplifying, supporting.

Some more resources, in addition to the ones I’ve already posted, include:

  • Curriculum for White Americans to Educate Themselves on Races and Racism- from Ferguson to Charleston – a long list of resources pulled together by Jon Greenberg
  • Coalition of Anti-Racist Whites – Seattle Based
  • Here’s the Perfect Explantion for Why White People Need to Stop Saying #AllLivesMatter – Jamilah King
  • 4 Things We Should All Teach Kids About Racism Right Now – Mia McKenzie
  • 7 Actual Facts that Prove White Privilege Exists in America – Zerlina Maxwell
  • White People Have a Race – But Everyone Flips Out When We Talk About It – Jenée Desmond-Harris
  • Listening to Ta-Nehisi Coates While Dreaming – Mark Gunnery
  • White Fragility, Silence, and Supremacy: Why All White Hands are Bloody – Malik Nashad Sharpe
  • Study: Watching racists be racists can make you more racist – Jenée Desmond-Harris
  • White Fragility: Why It’s so Hard to Talk to White People about Racism – Dr. Robin Diangelo
  • Rage Against the Minivan posts on race
  • How White People Sound When They “Disagree” With PoC About Racism – BlackGirlDangerous

Ignoring race is literally one of the worst things to do as a way to stop racism from continuing. Acknowledging the history of white supremacy, understanding how whiteness works and how the powerful have defined race to meet their violent needs, and realizing that there is a hell of a lot of stuff we as white people often don’t understand is critical. Not talking about race to other white people will solve nothing – after all, white silence is violence.

BreeNewsomeActively dismantling white supremacy is more than past due. We as white people have hundreds of years and countless generations of spilled blood and violent colonialism and it’s time that we destroy the system that allows for police brutality against communities of color (especially black people) goes unchecked, that allows for things like slavery, Jim Crow, and so many other things to be perfectly legal.

Borderline Personality Disorder.

I can’t remember exactly how I came across it but a few weeks ago, I started looking into borderline personality disorder (BPD) and realized very quickly that there’s a good chance I might have it. My first reaction when realizing this was relief – I had more words to describe things that have been happening my entire life. I finally had a better way to describe many things that I have been feeling for years. I mean, I’ve known I’ve had anxiety for years and depression for even longer than that but looking into BPD, I found an even better way to talk about how I often felt.

borderline-personality-toby-allen1[Image from artist Toby Allen’s Real Monsters project and text reads: “The Borderline Personality monster is one of the most delicate but perhaps the most sinister of monsters. They gather in small swarms around their victims and use pheromones to heighten the emotions of their victim before feeding upon the emotional energies. They feed upon any emotion but tend to favour feelings of depression. The monster is made almost completely of clear ice, rendering it invisible. Only the maple shaped leaf on its tail is visible to the naked eye and looks like a falling leaf. At times when the monster gorges itself too much on any given emotions, it can overwhelm them and they shatter like glass.”]

Reading through the resources and information about BPD from the Mayo Clinic and National Institute of Mental Health helped me to put more words to the things I’ve been experiencing and explained the symptoms of the disorder. And over at the Good Men Project, Nathan C. Daniels wrote about his experiences with BDP, particularly saying something that I can identify with:

I’m hypersensitive on an emotional level and extremely over-analytical, intellectually. My thoughts and feelings are balls in a lottery tumbler, and I never know when the next drawing will be or which ball will be drawn.

To anyone out there struggling with borderline personality disorder, depression, anxiety, or any other mental illness, I love you so much. You are so wonderful and amazing and fantastic and everything that’s saying you’re not any of those things, they’re wrong.