Links Lundi

First of all, if you haven’t seen this yet, you absolutely need to: it’s 5-foot-tall, 100-pound gymnast Kacy Catanzaro straight-up dominating the American Ninja Warrior obstacle course. She’s the first woman to ever qualify for the finals.

 

Find our where you lie on the Geek Zodiac:

Alice Coachman, the first black woman to win Olympic gold, passed away last Monday at age 90.

Ha: honest box art for video games.

This is not easy to read, but it’s crucial: I Believe You, It’s Not Your Fault, a new blog designed to say the words all sexual assault survivors need to hear most.

In case you missed it, Thor is now a woman and Falcon is now Captain America! I’m trying to reserve judgment on the Thor change because, well, Marvel hasn’t made much sense yet and maybe it’ll be awesome when it actually goes down in October. Sam Wilson as Cap, however, is one hundred percent awesome.

7 Mythological Women Who Could Replace Lady-Thor

I will very rarely say no to having more female characters in comics. That said, Marvel’s recent decision to turn Thor into a woman has left a…not necessarily bad, but definitely weird, taste in my mouth.

For one thing, the gender switch feels like a publicity stunt. For another, it seems downright lazy and it hardly makes sense (is “Thor” a title now?).

My biggest issue, though, is that Marvel seemingly can’t be bothered to seek out another fascinating, powerful mythological woman to introduce to their canon. Here are my seven suggestions:

1. Oya is a Yoruba goddess, a warrior associated with lightning, wind, thunder, and fire. She guards the underworld and unleashes hurricanes and tornadoes by dancing. She also represents transition, particularly the chaotic aspects of change, as encapsulated in her guarding the transition between life and death.

2. Morrigan is an Irish shapeshifting goddess of war, similar to a Valkyrie. She often takes the form of a crow, but has also been depicted as a wolf and an eel. In one of her stories, she takes on Celtic hero Cú Chulainn and attempts to sabotage his battle while utilizing several animal forms.

3. Aide is a Basque deity who basically has a light side and the dark side, one which results in gentle breezes and the other in devastating storms. If that doesn’t make for an interesting comic character, I don’t know what will.

4. Bellona is a Roman war goddess, the equivalent of the Greek goddess Enyo. She went to war armed with a whip and a torch. Roman Senate meetings pertaining to foreign war were held in her temple, and she both prepared her brother Mars’ chariot for battle and joined him in the fighting.

5. Inanna is a Sumerian goddess of warfare and fertility, associated with lions. She certainly has plenty of material for comics. In one of her stories (which features in the book “Snow Crash” by Neal Stephenson), she tricks another god, Enki, into giving her the Mes, which are the blueprints for everything a thriving civilization needs, ranging from abstract notions like justice to practical instructions like how to write or build. She tracks down a man who raped her by unleashing plagues upon the city he’s hiding in, ultimately driving him out and killing him. And in what might be her for most famous story, she descends into the underworld – a dreary kingdom run by her sister, which no one can ever leave – for unclear reasons. Inanna sits on her sister’s throne, dies there, and is revived by Enki – but she can’t leave until she’s found someone to take her place. On her way back to the entrance of the underworld, she keeps running into people she knows, and she won’t choose any of them to take her place. Finally, she exits the underworld and finds her husband – lounging under a tree, not missing her at all. Guess who’s sent to the underworld.

6. Kadlu, Kweetoo, and Ignirtoq are sister Inuit deities who create thunderstorms by jumping on hollow ice to make thunder, sparking pieces of flint together to generate lightning, and (well) “urinating profusely” to create rain, respectively. They were so noisy and unruly that their parents finally kicked them out, so they joined up with the sea goddess Sedna to create storms whenever she needed them.

7. Sif! Sif already exists in Marvel comics, but it looks like she’s been woefully underused, mostly as yet another person for Loki to play tricks on. She deserves a reboot in the spirit of her movie self.

What are your thoughts on Lady Thor? Who would you pick from mythology to star in her own comic book?

An Open Letter to the Teenage Girls Helping Their Friend Find a Swimsuit

from “6 Bikini Body Truths” by Winona Dimeo-Ediger

Dear Teenage Girls at Target,

Maybe your shopping trip the other day was completely normal, but for me, it was something completely new.

All four of you gave me deer-in-the-headlights looks when I joined you in the dressing rooms. I smiled politely and slipped into my room, expecting to overhear the usual assortment of teenage-girl snark and cattiness.

The conversation I heard was much different.

Three of you were helping the fourth find a swimsuit. It was clear she been having a hard time finding one and was feeling bad about herself, but the other three girls were nothing but positive. You gave honest constructive criticism on every suit Number Four was brave enough to show you: “This part is cute, but I think you’re looking for a suit that does X.”

You talked about friends who weren’t present, but, unlike far too many conversations I overhear, everything you said was kind. You commented – nicely! – about the wide variety of body types present in your circle of friends. You complimented each other! You complimented people who weren’t even there! Not once did I hear any of you say you wished you had Friend A’s legs, or Friend B’s stomach.

I had to text my friends. “There’s a group of teenage girls in the fitting rooms all united to find one of them a swimsuit she feels good in, all of them being super positive about their different body types and how great they look in different stuff. I WANT TO HUG THEM.”

Honestly I have never, ever overheard a conversation like that. It made me realize, first of all, how much negativity I hear in conversations between people of any gender, and how many of my own conversations veer towards the negative. We really like to gripe, and we especially like to gripe about people who aren’t around to defend themselves. Among women, who have largely been socialized to have low self-esteem and to think that self-deprecating or downplaying their individual beauty is ideal, those conversations are even more painful to overhear.

I wanted to know how you’d all done it. How have you managed to escape the pressures that force so many women I know into feeling ashamed of their bodies? What have you been reading or watching that inspired so much positivity? If any of you were jealous of your skinnier friends, you never said so. You never teased or shamed your friend. You were always helpful, encouraging, and gentle.

After a few minutes, everything had been tried on, and you were going to leave empty-handed. You reassured Number Four by telling her “you just haven’t found one you like yet.” I think two of you left to return the rejected suits while one of you stayed with Number Four.

That was when she started crying.

Now this was familiar: the feeling that you don’t fit into the world, that it doesn’t want you to participate in quite the same way – and it never will. It’s the feeling that inspires a thousand anguished swimsuit try-on sessions every summer, and prompts another thousand pleas for women of all shapes and sizes simply be who they are and wear what they want. I texted my friends what I wanted to be able to say to her: “HONEY YOU’RE BEAUTIFUL, HANG IN THERE.”

But, because we live in a world where complimenting the girls I’d been eavesdropping on for the last twenty minutes would be creepy, I could only send good vibes in your general direction. Besides, it was clear Number Four already had an amazing support network, one that I wish every teenage girl – and some grown women – could have access to. At the most vulnerable time in her life, she’s already managed to find friends who can see her beauty and will never let her forget it.

I bet it won’t be long before she sees it herself.

Scenes from a Feminist “Transformers”

(INT. Bedroom, sunny morning. BLAKE (Anthony Mackie) saunters towards his fiancee’s bed. Only his muscular legs are visible. Pan up to reveal his black boxer briefs. He’s shirtless, natch. Also he’s carrying a tray full of food.)

BLAKE: Morning, baby. Brought you breakfast.

(His girlfriend, MIA (Natalie Dormer), an Air Force pilot, rolls over and smiles. Her hair is messy and she’s not wearing makeup, because she just woke up. Also she’s wearing her old college soccer T-shirt.)

MIA: Thanks, baby.

(BLAKE, still shirtless, tries to pour the tea but is interrupted by a gigantic explosion outside.)

MIA and BLAKE: What the!

(MIA leaps out of bed, simultaneously grabbing her jeans and her cell phone. There’s another huge explosion. BLAKE is still frozen on the bed, and shirtless, looking like he isn’t sure what to do. MIA quickly gets dressed while making a phone call.)

MIA: Major Austin, it’s me. Is it them?

(CUT to MAJOR AUSTIN (Daniel Craig), striding along a runway while pilots run to their jets in the background.)

AUSTIN: It’s them. How soon can you get here, Captain?

(MIA hangs up. She’s changed into a Wonder Woman T-shirt and black leather jacket. Her hair is now in a ponytail and she’s put on mascara and a little concealer because she wants to look good while saving the world, but not that good, come on now. Priorities.)

MIA (to BLAKE): I need to borrow your car.

(EXT. Seattle apartment building, same. MIA and BLAKE hurry down the sidewalk towards where BLAKE’s yellow Camaro is parked. Columns of smoke and fire roil in the background. Panicking pedestrians run everywhere. BLAKE is now wearing tight jeans and a tight black T-shirt and he’s practically jogging to keep up with MIA’s determined stride.)

BLAKE: Seriously, baby, I’m happy to drive you. It’s not like I’m gonna be going into work today.

MIA: And I appreciate it, baby, but I’m just not going to be able to focus on doing my job as long as you’re in danger. You need to get out of here!

BLAKE: But -

(Before they can argue more, BLAKE’s Camaro suddenly transforms into BUMBLEBEE.)

MIA: I assume you didn’t know it did that?

BLAKE: I definitely didn’t know it did that.

BUMBLEBEE (waving): Blrglrp!

(MIA’s phone rings – it’s MAJOR AUSTIN. She answers and winces because all she can hear over the line is more explosions.)

MIA: Major? What the hell is that?

(EXT. Airbase. AUSTIN is running while STARSCREAM demolishes jets in the background.)

AUSTIN: We’re compromised! This base is being annihilated! Mia –

(He’s interrupted by a nearby explosion which flings him off his feet and impales him with shrapnel. But he manages to keep his grip on the phone, and he brings it back to his mouth, his hands shaking.)

MIA: Major?!

AUSTIN (weakly): Mia…you have to get…to…Omega Base. You’re…our only hope now…Major.

(He dies. Cut back to MIA, who resolutely hangs up.)

MIA: Sorry, baby, but now I definitely have to drive.

Continue reading

Top Ten Tuesday: Classics I Should Have Read By Now

We return to Top Ten Tuesday to confess just how awful we are at reading classic books.

1. Anna Karenina. I am seriously procrastinating on my Russian literature.

2. Bleak House. I’ve seen the BBC miniseries, which totally counts, right? After reading “The Three Musketeers,” I’m not sure I like reading the serial style, so I may never get to this one.

3. Dracula. This one I actually started and then abandoned about halfway through. I’m not really sure why, but comic books were probably involved.

4. My Antonia. I loved “O Pioneers” when I read it in college, but despite purchasing this book, I still haven’t read it.

5. The Color Purple. I missed out on several books in high school when I took a class that divided the students into groups and assigned each group a different book, in order for them to teach that book to the rest of the class. I think we read “The Things We Carried,” which is very good, but I’d already read it and “The Color Purple” is just one of those things people ought to read.

6. Gone with the Wind. I didn’t even make it through the whole movie, so I’m afraid to start the book. Scarlett irritated me! And I’m sure there’s character development – there must be, since so many people seem to idolize her – but wow, in a book that size, it must be a long slog to get there.

7. 1984. I know, I know. I actually got most of the way through this one, but when it became a book-within-a-book, I lost interest.

8. The Jungle Book. I have a few Kipling books that I’ve never gotten to, but I’m interested in how they hold up story-wise and also what they look like through the postcolonial perspective that I did a lot of college reading in.

9. The Catcher In the Rye. This is on pretty much every must-read list, but the premise never appealed to me.

10. The Grapes of Wrath. I’m almost afraid to read this one since I liked “East of Eden” so much. I can’t win: either it will disappoint me, or I’ll love it and it will displace “East of Eden.”

Are there any of these that I should absolutely read right away? Any I can skip? What isn’t on this list that should be?