I had the honor and horror of explaining/proving today to my local comic book store owner, who is a born-and-raised Jewish dude, that the Black Widow is Jewish. I ended up making a drive home and grabbing my copy of the 83-87 run of her origin story and then going back in person to prove the point today (a week after the original argument)/sit there and watch him repeat, dumbfounded, again and again, “I thought she was Russian Orthodox or something.”
So then I had to explain that Marvel eventually retconned her into having had the Red Room rip out all her memories of life before her parents’ death and thus left her unaware of her heritage. He had a copy of the new version of her origin story. We went over it together in-store, curious, and left mutually disappointed. There’s not one hint of her original origin left other than her very Jewish patronymic still remaining part of her name.
As a Russian-descended person I find that kind of a fitting metaphor for how the Russian government has treated Russian Jews - Natasha can succeed, can be the best in her field, can be beautiful and praised for her moral fortitude, but only if she has all Jewishness forcibly removed from her. It’s sort of befitting the era in which her character would have grown up, especially if Marvel pushes forward with the idea they’ve hinted at that the Red Room’s treatments have stalled her aging and she might be nearly as old as Steve and Bucky.
Out of universe, though, please never forget that Marvel took out all the women from the Avengers except one for their cinematic adaptation initially, and the one they left, they made either atheist or secular enough to casually refer to Loki and Thor as gods. They had a chance to put the first Jewish superhero to the big screen and didn’t even consider it for a second.
Then they made the Scarlet Witch not only not Jewish but Christian in the sequel. Just to twist the knife a little deeper, they made her non-Rromani and went with a fake nationality to top it all off.
And thus I stood before a man whose job was (in part) to live and breathe Marvel and he had no idea Natasha Romanov was Jewish. This new and improved origin story that has no trace of her Jewish roots (in freaking Novosibirsk where there’s a large Jewish quarter of the city, are you kidding me with this Marvel) comes during the same year Marvel published a storyline headed by writer Nick Spencer where Captain America was a Nazi/HYDRA agent all along, a storyline that only got canceled because the fan protests and outcry was so great that between the petitions, boycotts and actual Marvel actors like Clark Gregg (who is Jewish and who Nick Spencer sent the issue personally) publicly stating disgust with it that Marvel realized they weren’t going to be able to sell overt antisemitism. Covert antisemitism, though, we’re still buying - the Iron Man anti-villain/anti-heroine The Mad Thinker/Rhona Clytemnestra Cohen had her surname changed to have always been Burchill and her backstory retconned into her family being the victims of ‘a criminal car bombing’. Not ‘an antisemitic car bombing motivated by the fact my mother was a brilliant Jewish scientist whose coworkers had it out for her’. Just ‘a criminal car bombing’. I have seen all of three people complain about that even though it takes her motivations as a Jewish woman who hates that superheroes don’t save or stand for people like her and turns her into another generic supervillain.
I see what you’re doing, Marvel. There’s a reason I go out of my way to buy my comics from a place that will let me leaf through comics before purchasing them. If you want to keep going down this path, please just be aware that one day, kids will be shown that Captain America panel of him saying ‘Hail HYDRA’ in history class as they learn about the 2016 antisemitic upswing. You are made of the same stuff videos labeled ‘crazy propaganda cartoons’ on YouTube are.
(And yes I know one person’s rants are another person’s no big deal but I am not merely out of fucks to give, I am deeply, deeply in the red right now.)
So what do you do when you build yourself - only to realise you built yourself with the wrong things?
You rip it up and start again. That is the work of your teenage years - to build up and tear down and build up again, over and over, endlessly, like speeded-up film of cities during boom times, and wars. To be fearless, and endless, in you reinventions - to keep twisting on nineteen, going bust and dealing in again, and again. Invent, invent, invent.
They do not tell you this when you are fourteen, because the people who would tell you - your parents - are the very ones who built the thing you are so dissatisfied with. They made you how they want you. They made you how they need you. They built you with all they know, and love - and so they can’t see what you’re not: all the gaps you feel leave you vulnerable. All the new possibilities only imagined by your generation, and non-existent to theirs. They have done their best, with the technology they had to hand, at the time - but now it’s up to you, small, brave future, to do your best, with what you have. As Rabindranath Tagore advised parents, ‘Don’t limit a child to your own learning, for he was born in another time.’
And so you go out into your world, and try and find the things that will be useful to you. Your weapons. Your tools. Your charms. You find a record, or a poem, or a picture of a girl that you pin to the wall, and go 'Her. I’ll try and be her. I’ll try and be her - but here.’ You observe the way others walk, and talk, and you steal little bits of them, you collage yourself out of whatever you can get your hands on. You are like the robot Johnny 5 in Short Circuit, crying, 'More input! More input for Johnny 5!’ as you rifle through books, and watch films, and sit in front of the television, trying to guess which of these things you are watching - Alexis Carrington Colby walking down a marble staircase; Anne of Green Gables holding her shoddy suitcase; Cathy wailing on the moors; Courtney Love wailing in her petticoat; Julie Burchill gunning people down; Grace Jones singing 'Slave To The Rhythm’ - that you will need, when you get out there. What will be useful? What will be, eventually, you?
And you will be quite on your own when you do this. There is no academy where you can learn to be yourself; there is no line manager, slowly urging you towards the correct answer. You are midwife to yourself, and will give birth to yourself, over and over, in dark rooms, alone.
And some versions of you will end in dismal failure - many prototypes won’t even get out of the front door, as you suddenly realise that, no, you can’t style-out an all-in-one gold bodysuit and a massive attitude-problem in Wolverhampton. Others will achieve temporary success - hitting new land-speed records, and amazing all around you, and then suddenly, unexpectedly exploding, like the Bluebird on Coniston Water.
But one day, you’ll find a version of you that will get you kissed, or befriended, or inspired, and you will make your notes accordingly; staying up all night to hone, and improvise upon a tiny snatch of melody that worked.
Until - slowly, slowly - you make a viable version of you, one you can hum, every day. You’ll find the tiny, right piece of grit you can pearl around, until nature kicks in, and your shell will just quietly fill with magic, even while you’re busy doing other things. What your nurture began, nature will take over, and start completing, until you stop having to think about who you’ll be entirely - as you’re too busy doing, now. And ten years will pass, without you even noticing.
And later, over a glass of wine - because you drink wine, now, because you are grown - you will marvel over what you did. Marvel that, at the time, you kept so many secrets. Tried to keep the secret of yourself. Tried to metamorphose in the dark. The loud, drunken, fucking, eyeliner-smeared, laughing, cutting, panicking, unbearably present secret of yourself. When really, you were about as secret as the moon. And as luminous, under all those clothes.
This is the entire twenty-fourth chapter from Caitlin Moran’s ‘How to Build a Girl.’ Because the whole thing read like some sort of commencement speech I wish I had heard as a teenager, and I felt it needed to be shared.
Why, yes, it did take me a while to type out the whole thing.
OVW Heavyweight Champion Paul Burchill [December 13th, 2006]
2006 was a pivotal one for Ohio Valley Wrestling, coming off of the booking reign of Paul Heyman and still featuring several beloved wrestlers. While CM Punk was the obvious choice for the OVW Heavyweight Champion, the straight edge superstar was defeated on August 30th by Chet The Jett, who was beloved by younger fans. However, his reign as champion was met with disdain by longtime OVW fans, especially considering he’d defeated CM Punk for the gold, who had helped draw in the new crop of fans. It didn’t help that his first contender for the gold was Jacob Duncan, a large, masked wrestler who had been villainous from the get-go, but who fans absolutely loved for his destructive nature.
Duncan defeated Chett for the OVW Heavyweight Championship on October 25th, just before Halloween. Chett, relentless on his quest to regain the gold, continued to battle for the title, facing Chett on December 13th and regaining the gold to an uproarious ovation. What he hadn’t counted on, however, was “The Ripper” Paul Burchill cashing in his title shot which he’d earned earlier in the night by defeating Seth Skyfire. Burchill, who had also challenged Jacob Duncan during his reign for the title, zoned in on an injured Chett The Jett and defeated him with a top rope C4 to become the new OVW Heavyweight Champion.
[M]aking women responsible for men’s consciousness is ‘another patriarchal plot for robbing women of even more resources’ (Spender, 1984: 213). As Julie Burchill comments caustically: Helping a man get his 'head’ together seems to have become the respectable post-feminist replacement for making him a cup of tea; personally, I’d rather make the tea. It’s quicker, and leaves more time for oneself (Burchill, 1990: 17).
Heterosexuality: A Feminism & Psychology Reader, edited by Sue Wilkonson and Celia Kitzinger.
Elvis Presley was supposed to star beside Jayne Mansfield in the comedy ‘The Girl Can’t Help It’. In 1956, both Jayne and Elvis were becoming stars. Jayne insisted with 20th Century Fox to put Elvis in the film, saying that he was the best and his crescent popularity would help to make the film even more successful. Fox didn’t put Elvis in the film, but later the studio regretted, because Elvis became a huge star. (However, the film was a tremendous box office success and grossed over 6 million). Here’s a picture of Elvis reading a magazine with a record made by Jayne. Sadly, these two icons never met each other. Jayne and Elvis had a lot of similarities - both danced to the beat of their own drums, both lived big, had great personalities, good looks, talents and sense of humor.
“Elvis Presley sounded like Jayne Mansfield looked” - Julie Burchill
The Ramones at Eric’s Club, Liverpool, England, by Ian Dickson. This picture ran in the May 28, 1977 issue of NME. This is from the review by Julie Burchill:
Democracy, fair play and team spirit fall useless by the wayside as the Ramones take the stage. I have to look into Joey’s eyes! Getting to the stage is all I know. Anything to get to the front: I stuck my stiletto heel into so many groins it brought tears to my eyes. And they fought back; I got cigarette burns on my feet and sapphire and emerald bruises on my arm to prove it. But true love conquers all, and here I am at last, clutching the barrier at Joey’s feet!
Limp survivor of three encores, I lean shell-shocked against the wall and find it’s the only thing sweating more than I am.
I always had such a crush on Shelly Martinez, so when she started doing the vampire gimmick in the WWE’s ECW brand, to say I was elated would be a vast understatement. Shelly started incorporating the gimmick into her work at OVW, where she had also been a part of Aron Steven’s menoge a trois gimmick, and a pirate wench with Paul Burchill. Martinez was such a unique lady, who looked fantastic, wrestled well, and could perform with any gimmick.
The denigration of men: Ridiculed, abused, exploited - the triumph of feminism has made today’s men second class citizens, argues a deliciously provocative new book And it’s time the chaps fought back
Men are brilliant. Seriously, we are. We invented philosophy, medicine, architecture, cars, trains, helicopters, submarines and the internet. Not to mention the jet engine, IVF, electricity and modern medicine. We’ve led all the industrial revolutions and sent rockets into Space. We’ve fought wars with tin hats and bayonets and won them. The world we live in would be nothing without Alexander Graham Bell, Sigmund Freud, Horatio Nelson, Winston Churchill, William Shakespeare and Albert Einstein. The geniuses Leonardo da Vinci, Stephen Hawking, Michelangelo, Beethoven, Charles Darwin and Michael Faraday have all contributed immeasurably to our modern lives.
So why is it that, today, there has there never been a worse time to be a man? Rubbishing the male of the species and everything he stands for is a disturbing — and growing — 21st century phenomenon. It is the fashionable fascism of millions of women — and many, many men, too. Instead of feeling proud of our achievements, we men are forced to spend our time apologising for them. When people chide us for not being able to multi-task or use a washing machine we join in the mocking laughter — even though we invented the damned thing in the first place.
If ever we do manage to do something well we’re told it’s because our achievements were handed to us on a plate — probably at the expense of women — and not because we’re skilled and work hard. And, naturally, the problems of the world are all our fault.
In 2013 the Labour MP Diane Abbott made a damning speech about Britain’s men and boys, smugly announcing that masculinity was ‘in crisis’. The then shadow Public Health Minister declared that male culture is a ‘celebration of heartlessness; a lack of respect for women’s autonomy and the normalisation of homophobia’.
She sneered that men were choosing to stay in ‘extended adolescence’ by living at home with their parents — which has nothing to do with rising house prices, of course, but everything, according to Ms Abbott, with men being ‘resentful of family life’. If it weren’t so tragic it would be funny.
As it is, this kind of stiletto sexism — popularised by an army of female media commentators such as Julie Burchill, Suzanne Moore and Barbara Ellen — has become a depressingly familiar feature of modern British life. And it shows no sign of going away.
It is my experience when talking to most feminists on this site that regardless of how polite and reasonable a conversation we are having, their argument will eventually come back to ‘but women have it worse than men and that is why we need to focus on women’. ‘Men don’t suffer as much as women’. Citation needed people - without having lived a single day as a man how can people possibly comment on their suffering, how can they possibly know that women have it worse? They can’t. And because of the narrow focus of feminism which looks at issues from a purely female perspective, it is easy to assume that women have it worse - if you don’t look at a problem then how will you know how serious it is?? You won’t - you will simply assume that since nobody is giving it any attention to it then it must be insignificant.
But men’s issues are not insignificant. They need attention. They need focus. They need to be taken as seriously as women’s issues. We need to do this now.
Reading a bit further into the article…
All in all, the outlook for your son is pretty bleak, isn’t it? Sadly, he will accept the way things are because over the past couple of decades or so it’s what men have done.
In our anxiety to support women’s emancipation — which men agree with, by the way — we have allowed our intellectual ability, our emotional intelligence and our capacity for commitment to be endlessly ridiculed.
Obviously, this isn’t to say that girls are having a brilliant time of it. Most of society is well versed in the problems and pressures faced by women — the same women who have spent years trying to prove their worth beyond motherhood and housework.
But, unlike us, they get column inches and air time. They get government funding and MPs. They have a vocal community who will stand in their defence.
I wanted to quote that specific part of the article for a reason. No longer can we have a situation where men largely support women’s issues - but when they talk about their own issues they are ridiculed or ignored. Women need to support men’s issues too. More women need to open their eyes and see that men suffer too. And in particular, more feminists need to do this.
Feminism is a female focused movement, and that is fine. But it needs to stop claiming that it helps men too, when it clearly doesn’t. Feminism needs to stop claiming that men’s issues don’t exist, or are less significant than women’s issues. And it needs to stop complaining when others bring up the issues of men, as if that in any way denies the issues of women. Nobody is denying the issues faced by women. We are simply saying that men face issues too, and that these issues should not take second place. The statement above echoes the statements of many anti-feminists on this site - that feminism has done such a good job of pushing women’s issues to the forefront of our thinking that we as a society have forgotten to give any attention to men. Yes, this is the success of feminism - but it is also its main failing.
While the tone in parts of this article hint that the author might personally hold rather traditional views in some areas, he is also realistic. I like the way he talks about personal choice. For example - he does not seem particularly fond of the extended paternity leave available for fathers in the UK. But maybe I am misreading - maybe it is the oversimplified thinking of many feminists that the outcome must be a 50/50 split in every area that he does not like. And I would certainly agree with him on that.
Equality must above all be about choice. Gender equality is about opportunity, it is about having the option, it is about making your own choice. It should not be about achieving a 50/50 split in every area of life. In the end that is meaningless if it is forcing people into doing things they don’t want to do.