‘Crush’ by The Horrible Crowes is my new jam.
Virginia Woolf, from The Waves
I was driving past a business here in the Houston Heights, when I glimpsed this painted on the side of the building. I recognized that iconic WWII poster before I realized it was not just any woman, but 14 year old Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani girl who was attacked for wanting an education. The words next to her are her quote, ( “I don’t mind if I have to sit on the floor at school.) All I want is education. And I’m afraid of no one.”
This is gorgeous.
"An obstacle course of sexual menace"
The Daily Show, nailing it again.
faig ahmed’s Embroidered Art
When you think of traditional carpets from Azerbaijan, the thought of contemporary art does not quickly spring to mind… but these beautiful, and modern works will change that. Faiq Ahmed, a native of the Eurasian nation, has taken his countries old-school art form and brought it beautifully into the current era, deconstructing the ancient process of weaving and adapting it to todays contemporary art forms.
Fresh off the FSG Work in Progress site is a brief excerpt of ‘Lila’.
Lila, homeless and alone after years of roaming the countryside, steps inside a small-town Iowa church—the only available shelter from the rain—and ignites a romance and a debate that will reshape her life. She becomes the wife of a minister, John Ames, and begins a new existence while trying to make sense of the life that preceded her newfound security.
Neglected as a toddler, Lila was rescued by Doll, a canny young drifter, and brought up by her in a hardscrabble childhood. Together they crafted a life on the run, living hand to mouth with nothing but their sisterly bond and a ragged blade to protect them. Despite bouts of petty violence and moments of desperation, their shared life was laced with moments of joy and love. When Lila arrives in Gilead, she struggles to reconcile the life of her makeshift family and their days of hardship with the gentle Christian worldview of her husband which paradoxically judges those she loves.
Revisiting the beloved characters and setting of Robinson’s Pulitzer Prize–winning Gilead and Home, a National Book Award finalist, Lila is a moving expression of the mysteries of existence that is destined to become an American classic.
Our thanks to Dr. Jennifer Holberg for the tip.
And the Tony award for Best Musical goes to…
Sexualized Saturdays: Ward, Fitz, and S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Ideal of Masculinity (source)
Fitz isn’t the only subversive take on masculinity in the MCU, either. Think about it: almost all the male heroes have some sort of vulnerability, some moment of “weakness”, that goes against the stereotype of what it is to be a tough, strong man, but it doesn’t mean they aren’t heroes. Think about it:
- Tony Stark has a drinking problem and PTSD severe enough that it nearly wrecks his relationship with Pepper.
- Steve Rogers is chosen as Captain America for his compassion and intelligence.
- Phil Coulson is a dweeby little bureaucrat in a tailored gray suit.
- Thor loves his brother so dearly that he pleads with him to come home even after Loki invades Earth.
- Bruce Banner despises the violence in his heart that allows him to become the Hulk, and becomes a freelance healer to compensate.
- Sam Wilson is a mental health counselor whose military service was in the pararescue corps, motto: ”So others may live.”
- Nick Fury’s three chief lieutenants are two women (Natasha Romanoff, whom he treats almost as a daughter, and Maria Hill, whom he depends on to fake his death) and one man (Phil Coulson, whom he tasks with rebuilding SHIELD from the ground up).
Almost all of these characters are seen crying or close to tears (especially Cap, who is on the verge of tears during the final combat in CA:TWS), all fight in ways that don’t have buckets of blood thrown at the screen, and all value and respect the women they love and fight beside. The most notable exception is James Rhodes, an Air Force officer, but even he is shown taking care of Tony Stark, his best friend, more often than he’s shown firing a weapon.
I think this may be why the MCU is so popular among women: the men AREN’T the stereotypical strong, silent American hero. They bleed, they cry, they let their guards down, and they treat their friends, regardless of gender, color, race, or religion, as equals. This could not be more different from the blood-soaked ideals of masculinity that have dominated the screen over the last few decades (remember Rambo?), and it’s very, very good to see.
Basically, these characters behave like actual human men; maybe the best of men, but still much more like the regular decent guys you may know in real life than fictional “Alpha Males”.
Which is probably why a certain section of men prefers gritty, grimdark anti-heroes: if Fitz and that SHIELD guy who refuses to launch Project Insight can stand up and do the right thing even when they’re terrified to the point of shaking and crying, if Antoine Triplett (in many ways, Ward’s counterpart) can be both a more “traditional” aggressive operative and quietly geeky, if Nick Fury - the ultimate pragmatist - can draw a line he’s not willing to cross, these men have no excuses left for their behaviour.
Because if these flawed characters can be decent human beings and heroes, then all men have the potential for being decent human beings and heroes. Even if not all men choose to follow that example.
(Additionally: their masculinity doesn’t depend on their ability to get a date, and the relationships are depicted as… complex. It’s almost as if these heroes saw their potential romantic partners as actual human beings with lives of their own - shocking, I know.)