Daily Brooklyn 99 Thoughts: Captain Holt’s Leadership

Leadership is not just about establishing dominance, giving guidance, going first…to the Captain of the Nine-Nine, it’s about being willing to take a bullet for a cause you believe in. Captain Holt takes multiple bullets (some hypothetical, some metaphorical, and the rest just not technically bullets) during his career as Commanding Officer of New York’s Funniest.

But his leadership has many layers, it’s not all taking bullets. It’s about being a role model and a team player. It’s about setting the rules and earning the team’s respect by descending to their level when it’s appropriate. It’s the way he correctly estimates each member of the squad, the sergeant, and Gina, to maximize their potential and play to their strengths. He brings Terry to the gun range to get him re-certified because he believes the sergeant is ready to return to the field. I’ve dedicated an entire post to Holt and Gina. He mentors Amy and appreciates her so much. Holt-Peralta also deserves its own post, as does Holt-Diaz.

big-clean
Captain Holt finally requesting a cool code name

On principle he is hesitant to let the squad come to his aid, not because he is proud (#gaypride?) but because he doesn’t want to put them in danger. As he sees it, it’s his job to risk his safety for them, and not the other way around. Examples of this can be found in season 1 Christmas episode and the saga with Jimmy Figgis in Florida opening season 4.

1_N0h6oekE72QQH703cDgdPw

He stands up in defense of any member of his squad whether it is their safety, their career, or their feelings that might be hurt. For example, he scolds the detectives for avoiding Boyle after his injury (s1e12) defends Jake when he’s being threatened by the Commissioner (s1e2).

Now, let’s talk bullets.

Holt makes some major sacrifices, which sometimes work out fine because this is a comedy, but involved sincere risk of giving up on his dream and sabotaging his career altogether. The most obvious one is the deal with Seamus Murphy (season 5 episode 2) which could have cost the captain his career and possibly more. At the moment of decision, the captain took the deal even though it almost certainly meant giving up his chance to be police commissioner. That turned out okay, but he did know that at the time and he did it anyway, for Jake and Rosa.

Not to be taken lightly either is his speech in the running for commissioner (s5e14). The committee could have told him to go to hell and dropped him from the race. Again, that’s not how it turned out for him. But that is most certainly what would have happened if he had pulled that same move ten years earlier. Captain Crawford was not even one of his people, rather, she is a political opponent of his. But his mic-drop speech about being denied opportunity because of who he was is such a powerful statement, and so much more because of the position he is in.

He has risen through the ranks because he wanted to be in a place to make a difference, that’s what he tells Terry when they submit the complaint about the cop who stopped Terry for being black (s4e16). He recognizes that he has power, and he uses his power to do good. To make change. It’s really no wonder Cheddar is so well trained, I mean, look who his dad is.

#captainholt #queerculture #lgbt #pride #leadership #feminism

Daily Brooklyn 99 Thoughts – Charles and Rosa’s friendship

***Contains a single spoiler on the question of whether Charles and Rosa end up together so if you care about that, skip. Also (if you live under a rock) spoiler for something about Rosa that is only revealed in season 5***

Charles knows Rosa so well. He helps Marcus plan the perfect birthday surprise, and he rules the maid-of-honor party competition. But it wasn’t always like this.

At the beginning of the show, Charles doesn’t understand Rosa at all. He fantasizes about her, and says he is “in love” with her, but is he really? I don’t think he is. I think he’s into her, he thinks she’s hot (who can blame him for that one?) but frankly I think he dislikes many elements of her personality as they reveal themselves.

tumblr_mu49oj6BUq1sk79zgo1_500

Rosa: “I hate small talk, let’s drink in silence.”

Charles: “Perfect.”

But does he really mean that?

When Rosa says something dark, he comments “I can not figure you out.” Really, Boyle? We’ve only been watching this show for two hours and we already get that Rosa says dark things with no emotional expression.

The best thing about Charles courting Rosa is how quickly he gives up. I’m not kidding. He asks her out maybe 3-4 times. Rosa says no, and even the few times she agrees she makes it clear it’s not a date. She never at any point leads him on or implies she might like him back. She never likes him back. Eventually, with some solid relationship advice from friends, Charles consciously decides to move on – he wouldn’t have been receptive to Vivian’s advances if he had chosen to continue to pine for Rosa. In fact, the moment when this happens appears visually in the episode at Captain Holt’s birthday party, when she asks “How are you single? There’s no special someone in your life?” and he hesitates, eyeing Rosa in the corner, and then turns back to Vivian and replies, “No.” Good work, Charles!

Charles helping Rosa text her boyfriend
Charles helping Rosa text her boyfriend, season 2

Also, as soon as Charles moves on, the awkwardness lingers only for a few episodes, and by the end of the first season, Charles and Rosa are actual friends.

This is another reason why the moment when Rosa comes out to Charles is so beautiful. This moment between Charles and Rosa is incredibly intimate, with zero sexual connotations or even joking innuendo, which is perfect. It just shows how much Charles gets her, how sensitive he is to her vulnerability in that moment, but also explains why Rosa trusts him enough to open up about this deeply personal issue, which is something Rosa never does.

God, I love Boyle. < smiley face with heart eyes >

Just to be clear, the reason it is so important that Charles does not continue to pursue Rosa despite her rejection of him is because the opposite is the basis of rape culture. Classic romances constantly repeat the trope of a male persisting and pursuing a female despite the fact that she said no, and encourage the idea that this behavior is somehow romantic, shows courage and strength and confidence and other sexy qualities, when in fact it should be seen for what it is – stalking and harassment. So kudos, nine-nine, for portraying a reasonable response to rejection. More please. 

#top10epicmoments #charlesboyle #rosadiaz #queerculture #feminism #lgbtq #representationmatters #consent #smashrapeculture #friendship

Daily Brooklyn 99 Thoughts – S3E5 Halloween Part 3: King of the Nine-Nine

***Spoiler for Brooklyn 99 S3E5: Winner of The Halloween Heist***

Captain Holt and Jake choose teams, dividing up the squad, but neither of them choose Amy or Scully or Hitchcock. The duo remark at the end that neither of them have been chosen, to which Captain and Jake respond, “Yeah, I’m good.” “Me too.” This would be the third year in a row that they get excluded, but this time the exclusion is active – they held a briefing about the heist, invited S & H, and then didn’t choose them, which is even meaner. I was so happy that Amy found a way to get Hitchcock to help her with her plan, even a tiny task, because that’s all it takes to make someone feel included and it makes a huge difference to that person.

Image shows Jake placing a crown on Amy's head
Image shows Jake placing a crown on Amy’s head

The outcome of the heist is epic every year, but this one is particularly epic because of why it happened. Amy was hurt that Jake and the Captain both refused to have her on their team. Jake saw her as only a detective who would do anything for her Captain’s approval, which hurt her feelings as a friend, but Holt reduced her to her romantic relationship – something which happens often to women in the workplace, and which most certainly happened to Holt himself. By winning the heist, she put them both to shame and proved to be an amazing detective slash genius, not just a girlfriend or a teacher’s pet.
Outside of the heist, though, we know that Holt and Jake don’t really see Amy as just one thing, and perhaps this is why it was so hurtful to her when it happened.
I love how Jake pauses just before announcing Amy’s coronation and allows her to choose her own title “Queen”, leaving room for the possibility that “King” would still have been a fitting title, but he wasn’t sure, so he let her decide.

 

#meanness #kindness #amysantiago #jakeperalta #captainholt #gendernorms #brooklyn99 #b99 #scullyandhitchcock #halloween

Opinion: The Shape Of Water fails the Bechdel test, and there’s no excuse

The Shape Of Water was a beautiful film, with gorgeous visual effects, excellent music, and a heart-wrenching storyline with love and drama and a little more graphic blood than I would have liked, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.

Bechdel Test Results

Film: The Shape of Water

1. Is there more than one woman with a first name? Yes. Only two who are characters (Elisa and Zelda), and a third whose name is mentioned (Yolanda).

2. Do those women have a conversation? Yes. Zelda and Elisa are good friends and colleagues. They talk to each other throughout the entire movie.

3. Is their conversation about something other than men? No. Zelda mostly rants about her husband and the hygiene in the men’s facilities. When Elisa speaks, she talks about the creature, which is labelled very early in the film as a he. Thus, all of their dialogue is actually about men.

Which is a shame, really. There’s no particular reason the film had to fail. But it did.

Some films don’t pass Bechdel and it makes sense – for example, in a true story, I understand the desire to be true to the gender identity of the people in the original story. So let’s take an example of a film released right around the same time which was based on a true story: The Post.

The Post passed Bechdel. It was still a little tight, but Katherine Graham’s relationship with her daughter emphasized her central role. Notice though, that The Post fails POC Bechdel – and it’s understandable, because it makes sense that most of the people who worked in the White House and were invited to Katherine Graham’s parties were not people of color. It’s an uncomfortable reality, but then, it’s based on a true story.

The Shape of Water is fiction. Which means someone chose genders for each and every one of those characters. You can argue that Strickland and General Hoyt really needed to be men, being in elite government positions, but what about the artist? The guy from the bakery? Strickland’s assistant? The scientist? The Landlord? Any one of those could have been women.

And what about the creature?

giqnssnxr7nnogp0tssr

Here I was honestly disappointed at the decision to so blatantly label him as a man. He’s made up. He’s not human. They have no idea what he is and he certainly doesn’t express any kind of human gender identity. What I saw was a perfect opportunity to portray a character who has no gender, wouldn’t that have been interesting? And then what does that say about Elisa? Oh no, but in fiction even non-human characters have to fit into the gender binary, and since Elisa is a woman, and all women are heterosexual, he has to be – not only a male – but a cis male. I was honestly baffled by how far the creators of this movie reached to make the cis-maleness of the creature clear (i.e. the scene where Zelda asks Elisa if he has a “…”). What harm would there have been in just not discussing that, and letting viewers imagine how Elisa and the creature consummated the intimacy they felt for each other?

Once their relationship is shown to actually be a heterosexual relationship between a cis male and a cis female, it ‘s almost as if people don’t notice that one of them is not human. The people closest to Elisa don’t raise their eyebrows even for a second. So while it is clear that their relationship exists in perfect contrast to that of Strickland and his wife, or Giles’s advances on the Pie Guy, it still only reinforces our cultural heteronormativity despite the fact that one of them is not human.

WHAT’S YOUR EXCUSE?

Aziz Ansari Acted Like an Ass, and Is Now Being Made to Feel Embarrassed For Acting Like an Ass

An article was recently published and in my opinion, incorrectly titled “The Humiliation of Aziz Ansari.” I would like to offer my alternative title: Aziz Ansari acted like an ass, and is now being made to feel embarrassed for acting like an ass.

His career is not over (or is it? If you have articles that show that he’s been fired from a show or hasn’t gotten another role since, please send them to me, I’d be happy to be proven wrong on this point), nobody sent inappropriate photos of him to his boss or his family*. The only thing that happened is that someone told a story about a date with him, and now the internet is exercising its right to call her a liar and explain to everyone why what he did is “not that bad.”

Are you mad yet? No? Well then, please keep reading!

I’m not going to link to the article that prompted me to write this, because I don’t want to give it more traffic. But here are some things it says:

Grace’s account is “proof that women are angry, temporarily powerful—and very, very dangerous.”

If you’re making this face right now confused emoji you’re in good company. I’m sorry, you needed proof that women are angry? Very, very dangerous – you mean like guns and big nuclear buttons? Temporarily powerful?

If anything, the article is proof that the opposite is still true – women still cave to the power of men, at the expense of their own personal safety and comfort. Some have argued that Grace didn’t say no – but she did say a lot of other things, all of which I would expect Ansari to have understood. He’s smart, you know – he wrote a book about dating. I even read it a little over a year ago. He’s funny, and he had some good ideas. So I honestly expected him to understand ‘Whoa, let’s relax for a sec, let’s chill.” To mean, I’m not entirely okay with what is going on here at the moment, and I need you to stop doing what you are doing so we can talk about what we are both comfortable with, and without me feeling pressured. Yes, I expect him to understand that. It’s not such a reach.

Do I wish that women could communicate more clearly and say “no” more assertively? Yes, I do. But do you know why we sometimes don’t? Because of fear of being beaten, or raped, or murdered, or sold into slavery. Real fears of real things that are, unlike women complaining on the internet, very, very dangerous.

Aziz responded to Grace’s account that he had no idea that she was experiencing things that way. Suppose he is being honest about this: this is still a big problem. It is this that I have argued over and over again that is the cause of so many cases of sexual assault; the not paying attention, the ignoring, the doing it anyway, in short – the entitlement.

If men were as scared to make advances on women as women are afraid of men, then I would be willing to sit at a table where someone suggests that women are powerful and very, very dangerous. Until then, though, it’s anybody’s guess how the author of that article drew that particular conclusion.

*The account is compared to “revenge porn” in the article that must not be linked.

When Female Mathematicians Walk Into A Bar

Guilty – I find math jokes hilarious. When they are in fact jokes about math. I belong to a group on Facebook dedicated to the sole purpose of sharing math jokes. They make me groan or roll my eyes and occasionally laugh out loud. Once in a while someone will post a joke like this:

Yo Mamma’s so fat, her favorite day is Pi day.

Which is not only painfully unfunny, it’s also misogynistic, fat-shamey, and not even about math.

So I sigh and keep scrolling, hoping the rest of the jokes for that day will have more content and be less offensive. But then this happens:

Why do we have Pi day and Women’s day but we don’t have Men’s day?
Because men are rational!

By now I’m annoyed, but I tell myself to let it go, he was just trying to make a joke about pi being an irrational number, haha. It’s just a joke

And then someone posted this:

Woman = time * money
Time = money
Money is the root of all problems
Therefore, Woman = problems

So I decided to speak my mind and commented, “Did they run out of jokes at the funny joke store where you shop?” (Night at the Museum II is a family favorite.)

My comment made people angry. ‘Look how many people thought it was funny,’ they said. ‘It’s your choice to be offended,’ they said. ‘It’s just a joke, get a sense of humor.’

Usually when a group starts posting too much offensive content, I just leave the group. But these are math jokes. I love math jokes. I want to stick around for the other 90% which are funny. So I decided to say something. I typed up a serious post for the group, which, to summarize, said:

“As a [female] mathematician, I have some trouble with the amount of jokes posted here that are about women. There is already a huge gap between the number of men and women in math. […] Let’s try to make this group a space where everyone can feel like they belong.”

The original post and comments, in Hebrew, can be viewed here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1468380300090389/permalink/1664671797127904/

Immediately came a rush of agreement and thanks from many female members of the group. But backlash was incredible. I can’t say I didn’t expect it, given the attitude I had met from the previous comment about the women=problems post. Here are some examples of response comments:

“So you went through 1000(!) posts and found 10 that were offensive to women. Nice. I thought I was obsessive…Grow a couple.”

“Your post creates a bad name for all women in general, and specifically for us women in this group.”

“Your post ruined my Friday morning.”

“Hi girls, I wanted to post a math joke, but I’m afraid I’ll be attacked if I do.”

“This post reinforces the stereotype that women are irrational and overly sensitive.”

“Who are you to decide what kind of jokes I can laugh at? If you’re offended, that’s your problem. You are being a bully and acting in a way worthy of Iran or some place where women are objects. Shame on you.”

“Get a sense of humor.”

“I don’t think [you are] looking for a solution, just attention and pity.”

“I’ve had enough. What a humorless party-pooper.”

“What a shame that you allow your feminist opinions to blind you, and worse, to try to ruin this group.”

“Taking an offensive joke is a price you should be willing to pay.”

Then there was one comment which stood out:

“Your argument is right, but you’re wrong to try to convince men who are defective and egotistical who would never accept criticism even if it is justified, and certainly not from a woman.”

To which I responded,

“Well, then, back me up. Men, speak up!”

And then came the following responses, all from men.

“Liora, you are not alone! 🙂 I also feel that the jokes about women are offensive and not funny.”

“I never thought those jokes offended anyone, but now I see the amount of women who are hurt by them and I really do think we should stop telling them. Even if I personally am not offended, the fact is that some women here are and we need to respect them.”

 “What is with you guys? Someone said it’s offensive, apologize and stop posting them. It’s that simple. When women ask you not to tell offensive jokes, stop telling them they are being whiny or have no sense of humor. Behave like human beings.”

“To all of my penis-owning friends, we are not women. We do not experience the jokes in the same way. So most of us are not offended, and we might not even notice the misogyny in them. But if someone tells me his tooth hurts, I won’t silence him by claiming that my teeth feel fine. If she says the jokes are offensive, I believe her, and if I find a joke that contains gender references, I’ll think twice before posting it. We’re here to have fun, not to hurt anyone.”

 “Liora, great post. It’s a shame you had to take so much pigheadedness in response.”

“I’ve started a new group. It’s called Misogynistic Math Jokes. Take your misogynistic math humor there.”

“Guys, guys…I don’t get what your problem is. Someone said she was offended, and she is clearly not the only one. What’s so hard about just accepting? Why are you acting like it will somehow destroy the group? It seems to me that not posting these offensive jokes will only improve the quality of our group.”

“How does saying that there were ‘only 10’ misogynistic jokes out of 1000 prove anything but the fact that there were 10 misogynistic jokes?”

 Each response received its own dose of backlash.

I am overwhelmed and grateful for all the support, for every man who stood up to his peers and called them out. Every man who showed that women’s issues are not in fact only women’s issues, they are human rights issues. Men who reminded us that there are not only rude, self centered, egotistical dunderheads out there, but also caring, empathetic, kind men who love women and are not afraid to call injustice by its name. I am proud to be part of a group with you.

In an unexpected turn of events, about 12 hours after my post, a group admin invited me to join the team of group moderators. I now have the ability to remove posts and block users from the group, which means no more misogynistic math jokes over here! What this tells me is that the message was received. My voice was heard. But I think that is greatly due to the amount of men who spoke up in support of me and my fellow women mathematicians.

It’s easy to look back at the comments and think, wow, there is no chance for equality in the future. Why would any woman want to learn mathematics if it means being surrounded by attitudes like those? But from the supportive responses, it is evident that men also care about equality. Misogyny is becoming less socially acceptable. Men have joined the fight for women’s rights and respect. History has shown us that the civil rights movement did not take off until white people marched alongside black people. Likewise, the movement for equality will not win until men fight alongside women. Following my post about math jokes, I saw proof of that happening. So instead of being crushed and disheartened, I am hopeful.

Here’s to a better future, a better world for our boys and girls to grow up in.

Thank you!

*Top image from https://xkcd.com/385/

12 Sex Ed Things That Aren’t Even About Sex

Even if you are pro abstinence only education (and you believe that it works) there are crucial things you can tell young people without even talking to them about sex at all. While I am mainly aiming for girls here, most of these topics do apply to young boys as well.

By the way, I am in favor of comprehensive sex ed far beyond what is listed below. These twelve items made it into the post because I think there is no excuse for not giving this information to young people regardless of your religious beliefs.

  1. Self Image. No matter what you look like, you are beautiful. This is so important, especially for young girls, at any age. Fat is not a synonym for ugly. Girls should be taught to love their body because this is an enormous measure of self worth for women in a society that places so much importance on how we look.
  2. Options for your period. It’s 2016, and disposable pads and tampons are not the only options anymore! Not only are there other options, but disposable pads and tampons are just about the worst choice for any woman these days. Girls should be provided with information about cloth pads and the menstrual cup, both of which are significantly less expensive, more environment friendly, and healthier by far than the disposable options.
  3. Gender identity. Most people are lucky enough to be born with the sex organs that match the gender they were assigned at birth. But not everyone’s gender is the same as their sex. That is an important distinction that seems irrelevant to those of us who are cisgender. But for transgender kids and teenagers, this conversation could save lives.
  4. Sexual orientation. Surprise! Not everyone is straight. Not all preteen girls start to like boys. And that’s okay, and it’s normal.
  5. How your body works. Even programs that sell themselves as comprehensive sex ed mostly only cover basic anatomy of the internal reproductive organs, and if you’re lucky it’ll be scientifically accurate. The vagina is not the only significant part of a woman’s body just because it’s the one the penis goes in. We need to know what are all the different parts we have and what they do, at least in the same way we understand that we have lungs and arteries and kidneys. What is the clitoris? Is it the same as the urethra? Also, why don’t my lady parts look like that porn star’s? Am I weird?
  6. What is virginity? Is it important? Can I lose it to a tampon? No, you can not lose it to a tampon. Your virginity is not defined by your hymen. If you have one. Also, what is the hymen? Where is it and what is its purpose? (Hint: it is not a layer of saran wrap buried deep inside your vaginal canal that is punctured the first time you have sex. If that were true, where would our period come out of?) Laci Green explains this expertly in her video, “You Can’t POP Your Cherry!” 
  7. Relationships. Even if you believe young people are not having sex, there’s no denying they are having relationships. They need to know about heartbreak, how to deal with it, how to move on. And please do not underestimate the amount of pain an eleven year old can experience from being dumped. Just because their bodies are small doesn’t mean their emotions are not strong.
  8. Abuse. Early warning signs of abuse. What are the red flags they should look out for when dating someone? What if you are being abused right now? How do you get help? How do you know if you are being emotionally or verbally abused, if it’s not physical? For more info, see Common-Warning-Signs-of-Domestic-Violence  and teen-dating-violence-factsheet-a
  9. Safety. It’s not just about condoms. It’s also about wearing a seat belt, and not getting into a car with someone you don’t know, or someone you do know who is drunk. For girls, often it’s about how to set clear boundaries, how to say NO, how to throw a good punch without hurting yourself.
  10. Consent. This should have been higher up on the list, really. What does consent look like? (Hint: it only sounds like an explicit and enthusiastic “Yes!”) When do you need to get consent from your partner? (Hint: always) Does it ruin the moment to stop and talk about things?
  11. Respect. Girls deserve to be respected by their partners. If someone does not respect you, get rid of them. You deserve respect.
  12. Sexual Desire. Whether or not you give kids information about sex, they need to know that it is normal and okay to have those weird and new feelings that they are experiencing. Especially girls. Even if you emphatically encourage young teens not to have sex, they still need to know that it is okay to want it.

If you are in favor of kids and teens knowing about sex – great! If you are not – at least give them the knowledge they need to be healthy, self confident, and not have to spend 200$ a year every year from age 10 to 60 on something they didn’t choose to have.

Bridges, Walls, and Leadership

“There was a large crowd of people…They were throwing things and shouting…”

This is not a quote from the Women of the Wall, but it might as well be. I was killing time on Facebook yesterday when I read this status update:

wow_status

and it reminded me of something from a children’s book I used to love when I was a little girl, “The Story of Ruby Bridges” by Robert Coles . In the book, he describes how Ruby Bridges,  six year old African American girl was volunteered to be one of the first children to attend a white school. In the quote she describes walking to school, escorted by police men, through the crowds of protesters shouting and throwing things. One morning, her teacher watches through the window while Ruby stops in the middle of the crowd and refuses to move for several minutes. “I saw you talking,” Mrs. Henry told her later when Ruby finally agreed to enter the school building. “I wasn’t talking,” said Ruby, “I was praying.”

IMG088

Ruby was six years old at the time. She was the only black girl in a school full of white children with angry parents, and somehow she found it inside her to pray for the people who crowded around and shouted and threw things at her. And thank goodness that she did that. Thank goodness that she kept going with the police men every day even though so many people tried to silence her. In the end, she paved the road for integration in schools. Eventually she was able to go to school without being accompanied by police.

I loved The Story of Ruby Bridges. She was like a hero to me. I even used her character once in a project in ceramics, because to me she was proof that great leadership can come in any size or color. And that is what the Women of the Wall show young girls all over the world.

Thank goodness that the Women of the Wall refuse to be silenced. Thank goodness that despite all the people who try to discourage them, they keep fighting. I hope that soon we can see them going to pray at the Wall without being escorted by the police. The Story of Ruby Bridges teaches us that equality and tolerance will triumph in the end. And boy will that be awkward for the people on the other side.

IMG087