Laurenn McCubbin: If comic books are to survive, they must be inclusive. Let’s dispense with the pearl-clutching marketers who worry about what sexist readers won’t buy
I wrote a thing about Wonder Woman for the Guardian! My life is super weird right now! (When I told the Husbadger about being asked to write this, he laughed and said “You’ve been training your whole life for this moment!” Yeah, little bit.)
“Tampons were packed with their strings connecting them, like a strip of sausages, so they wouldn’t float away. Engineers asked Ride, “Is 100 the right number?” She would be in space for a week. “That would not be the right number,” she told them. At every turn, her difference was made clear to her. When it was announced Ride had been named to a space flight mission, her shuttle commander, Bob Crippen, who became a lifelong friend and colleague, introduced her as “undoubtedly the prettiest member of the crew.” At another press event, a reporter asked Ride how she would react to a problem on the shuttle: “Do you weep?””—Astronaut Sally Ride and the Burden of Being “The First” (via yahighway)
Last night, I engaged in some sadness baking. I know, I know, we shouldn’t eat our feelings, but I have so many goddamned feelings these days that a little weakness is to be expected.
Before I could do this baking, I needed that random selection of items that could only easily be acquired at Walmart. I have lived in this town for four years. I have likely been to the Walmart no more than five times. It is an evil, filthy place. I literally mean that. Cleaning is not a priority there. But I needed mouthwash, a weird baking pan, a sift, some sour cream, some Diet Cherry Pepsi and some Zantac.
The thing about Walmart, and I always marvel at this, is how fucking cheap everything is. That store is pure evil. I bought fruit punch for two dollars! There’s a reason why they are taking over the world. They know the human weakness for a good bargain.
What feelings, you ask? Well, I can’t tell you about ALL of them. I do keep some things to myself. Imagine me cutting my heart open here. It’s a bloody mess.
Meanwhile, I creamed together butter and sugar for about five minutes. That shit got creamy as hell. I love my Kitchen Aid. It brings me such happiness. I guess this is nearing forty—a fondness for kitchen appliances. Or, I am sublimating all my desire into kitchen appliances. I don’t know.
Baking, as I’ve said before, relaxes me. I don’t even need to eat what I bake. I just like making baked goods. My friends like that I like making baked goods. It’s a win-win situation. To be clear, though, I was going to eat some of this coffee cake.
I added the cake flour (which, I learned is not the same as flour four), salt, baking powder and baking soda to my brand new sifter and I sifted that stuff into a very fine powder. I was rather impressed with myself. SIFT SIFT SIFT.
I have this bizarre habit of looking at the clock and subtracting two hours. There are still flecks of pink polish on my thumbs. Wherever I go, there you are.
I added the eggs, one at a time, to the creamed butter, along with the sour cream and a lot of vanilla. I didn’t even measure that shit because vanilla is awesome. As Ina counseled, I used good vanilla. Nothing but the best, Ina. Nothing but the best.
Most of my sadness is that men are really getting me down. It starts with Facebook.
Men message me on Facebook. They are incessant. Sometimes, it’s just “hi” every single day, and nothing else. Like, you can’t do better than that? Other times, it’s way more aggressive with UNSOLICITED, really forward sexual conversation—nasty ass, banal sexual talk. I’m a freak but I’m a high class freak. You need to work for this with your dirty talk.
This is when I start to get mad. I ignore it. Sometimes I block, but what’s the point? There are so many that I could literally make a part time job out of blocking these guys. Most of the time when I ignore these fuckers, they go away. There are always a persistent few, however. This week’s most persistent asshole messaged me a couple days ago with some nastiness that only someone I am sleeping with is allowed to say to me, thank you very much, and then he said, “You are a stuck up bitch.” Fine. Whatever. The next day, he messaged me again, asking, “Still a stuck up bitch?”
I fucking snapped. You are goddamned right I am still a stuck up bitch. Where some men are concerned, I will always be a stuck up bitch.
It’s pathetic that stuck up and bitch are these labels applied to women when we’re not sitting around waiting to satisfy a man’s wants and desires.
This all got me thinking about the harassment women deal with online and on the street and everywhere in life. I started thinking about every time a man has been mean or callous or horribly gross with me and there are so many instances that it is, essentially, a constant, white noise, background music.
We shouldn’t have to live like this. I shouldn’t have to keep writing about this. I shouldn’t mention this on Twitter and have countless women sharing their own stories of men licking them and jerking off at them in public and calling them a bitch when they rebuffed his advances.
We should not have to live like this.
And then, I thought, “I’m not young or hot. How do those women deal with a magnified quantity of this shit?”
Then I got mad at myself for having low self-esteem.
The real issue was that I suddenly felt unsafe. There is nothing I hate more than feeling unsafe.
Once the wet ingredients were well blended, I set the mixer on the lowest setting and slowly added the flower until everything was combined.
What didn’t help was going to see Transformers 4, which is by far one of the worst movies I have ever seen. First of all, this bloated travesty is nearly three hours long. I was warned, but I thought people were just being “funny.” This movie is offensive in every way a movie can be offensive. It is cynical, heartless, at times embarassingly lazy, and always absurd. It is racist and sexist. There are egregious plot holes. There are transformer dinosaurs and that’s all I will say about that element of the shit show.
Mark Wahlberg is the star of this installment. His name is Cade Yaeger. That’s Michael Bay ejaculating ALL OVER EVERYTHING. Cade is an half-assed inventor in “Texas.” We’re not given a town name. He’s just in Texas. He has a daughter, Tessa, about to graduate from high school. He is a widower. He is very overprotective and she’s not allowed to date. This movie is so regressive as to make me wonder if Michael Bay took a time machine back to 1955 to write the script. Throughout the movie, Cade Yaeger basically installs himself at the breach of his daughter’s hymen because a young woman’s worth is tied up in her virginity and graduating high school or something like that.
Tessa spends most of the movie flouncing around in microshorts and tight shirts to show off her impeccably toned, delectably tanned body. Fine. This is what Michael Bay does with women in the Transformer movies. But Tessa also spends the movie coquettishly imperiled as she is threatened with murder, grabbed up into an alien ship and otherwise thrust into life-threatening situations PG-13 style. She spends her time crying for her boyfriend (who inexplicably shows up at the end of the first act), or crying for her father, or just crying for generalized help instead of trying to help herself. Her eyes remain wide, her make up perfect, and her lips curve in a very suggestive “O.”
It was time to make the strudel, so I combine flour, cold butter, brown sugar, and a pinch of salt, using my hands, even.
Michael Bay’s contempt for women is so palpable throughout the entirety of this Transfomer’s movie that I almost walked out. It was just too much. It was too fucking much.
We could talk about how in the third act, first they are in Beijing, then it’s Guangzhou, then it’s Hong Kong, even though these are very distinct cities in China.
We could talk about the racism throughout the movie with the “black” robots speaking in a mockery of AAVE and with every Chinese person knowing kung fu.
We could talk about epic swaths of destruction and Kelsey Grammer, as the evil CIA man trying to save the planet from aliens, acting like the destruction could still, somehow, be covered up.
But no, let’s leave the more minor offenses aside because they pale next to the movie’s flagrant, oppressive misogyny.
Fuck this movie. Fuck every single second of it.
With the batter ready, I poured half of it into my cake pan and then I covered the top with my strudel.
The older I get, the more I struggle with the careless ways in which the word “bitch” is used in popular culture. At the end of, “All Me,” for example, Drake, that precious zygote of a man, ends the song with a gratuitous, bizarre, “Lil bitch.” Kendrick Lamar, who offers up some really elegant lyrics in his music, has a song called, “Bitch don’t kill my vibe.” I like the song but my enjoyment is always marred by these moments of despair that a man who can talk about how his punctuation curves cannot come up with something better than the word, “bitch.”
There are all sorts of justifications for the use of the word “bitch” in popular culture but increasingly, I see it as a staggering lack of imagination and one more way in which our culture actively supports the hatred of women. These creators aren’t going to change because we won’t demand it. That’s how little we think of women and women’s dignity. Accepting that is a bitter, bitter thing.
In Transformers: Age of Extinction, the most offensive part was, unexpectedly, the gratuitous use of the word, “bitch.” Anytime one of the men did something they were proud of, they punctuated their action or statement with the word, “bitch.” LOOK AT ME BEING A MAN, BITCH! They were insulting the aliens or the bad government guys, but the vocabulary they chose to use, time and again, was the word ubiquitously used to denigrate women.
Again, this is how little we think of women. The denigration is part of our vernacular.
I’m sick of it.
I added the rest of the batter, and then topped the cake with the remaining strudel. Then I put it in my pre-heated oven at 350 degrees.
I don’t even know what to say or do at this point. It all seems so inescapable—online harassment, street harassment, the microaggressions and the full on aggressions women face, the rampant sexual violence women face, and then our popular culture reflecting this sickening reality and asking us to consume it quietly, like good little girls.
I was a good girl for a long time and it never did me any good. We should all be done being good girls if it means swallowing sexist, toxic bullshit that will only continue killing us softly.
The recipe called for 55-60 minutes but my oven is a LIE OVEN. It took 75 minutes to bake the coffee cake. It turned out quite well. I had a piece this morning for breakfast and it was very good. Next time, I will figure out how to make the cake just a bit moister.
I would like to not feel unsafe and unsettled when I go online, or when I leave my house. I would like to feel like my body and my dignity matter. I would like these things for all women.
I suppose I was angry baking more than sadness baking. That’s what stuck up bitches do.
Everyone wants to understand art. Why not try to understand the song of a bird?
I feel angry and resentful at myself. I stop and calm down and try to comprehend: How did I become so enamored with the ‘art system’? How did art become a desk job without stability or vacation days? Why am I burning out at 27? Why am I so god-damn thirsty?
Duchamp wanted to introduce time, a linearity, into a static craft. In a hundred years, a bland ‘contemporaneity’ followed. ‘Researching’ your ‘projects’, developing, hoping you were steadily improving while EasyJet flew you to homogenized biennials and you spewed CO2 along with the planes. Inhale, exhale.
Maybe it was an accident. Accelerated doom. You get your BFA, your MFA, your PhD. Papers you can’t afford (9000£ a year). You get to know everyone. You upgrade on production value. Sometimes you despair: is there anything you can accomplish? You feel utterly alone. 33 notes.
When you think that something is about to begin it’s probably peaking. There is no linear development in art. It’s cyclical, wavy. Post Internet was at its best when we were waiting for it to start already.
Art is like farming or doing laundry. You do it and then you get to do it again. It’s like oxygen. It’s invisible and it envelops you. It doesn’t get any better or worse than right now. Don’t worry about it.
Success and failure are both a distraction. I want to let them go. I want to live on an island in Finland and make ceramics and felted hats. I want to be one of those unimpressive regular people you ignore on your way to the club. I’ll be slightly overweight and wearing overalls. I’ll be grounded and smiling while you ignore me.
I realize that I’ve been an extremist.
Duchamp switched art for chess, an infinite game where you can win individual battles but never the war. Art can be a game, by which I mean that it’s an elaborate coreography with elements of choice and varied outcomes. It’s a thrill. It’s not your life.
I’m playing Candy Crush and Zen Bound 2 and 2048. Succeeding in these mobile puzzlers feels kind of like being curated into your awesome non-compensated group show in Seoul or Vienna or Oslo. Gaming comes without the distress, without being addressed, without coolness, without affect, outlook or statement.
I watch Game of Thrones while drawing in my book. The drawings are something to do. They keep the anxiety at bay. They fool me into thinking I’m being productive when I can’t get over the idea that I have to be productive all the time.
I don’t exhibit the drawings because they’re so pure and so emo. When I show them to people I regret it later on. I don’t want to charge them with expectations, with the burden of communication.
It’s a bad habit: you take everything you’ve got, your failures and insecurities. You repurpose, repackage, relaunch and repeat until they are categorized as successes. Experience is what you get when you don’t get what you want.
Watching these Mortal Kombat gameplay videos. Mortal Kombat 9: All Fatalities on Shao Kahn HD. The word Success blinks on top of these carnivalistic, brutal executions. It’s not enough to merely defeat your opponent; you must obliterate and make it funny, distinct, memorable.
Bullies have lower infection rates as adults than those who have been bullied.
Your life is like Gossip Girl except everyone is old and poor.
This is a placeholder for astute observations about capitalism, gender, precarity and ‘post-digital’ culture. I zoom out to reveal how my personal woes and struggles connect to a network. How political this is. How these exact details communicate a universally human experience.
A picture of a Dutch painting. Bosch or Bruegel. A gettyimages tag. A wave filter. The bright blue of a projector with no signal.
This is not my writing, but I feel kindred to it. Jaakko Pallasvuo always seems to be on point. There aren’t many artists (in the gallery-showing/conceptual-minded sense) that I admire. We gotta think about these broken systems, but it’s so exhausting. I tried to talk about the conflict of BFAs, and now I also feel burnt out in my 20s. Someone point me to the new manifesto? Art is decentralized and monetized. It’s good and bad and flatlined.