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review 2017-01-29 18:34
The North Water, by Ian McGuire
The North Water: A Novel - Ian McGuire

I'm dropping this at 35%. After the polar bears and second rape of a child, I'm done. The sample dazzled me when I read it: rich language, dark, and a favorite subject (whaling, remote places). I'd thought I was in the mood for it, having recently gone on a bit of a vengeance binge. But the language became too much; I don't need to constantly know how nasty everything smells. As I read I realized this would be one of those books that is about how ugly people are. Current events are reminding me of that enough.

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review 2016-09-23 12:35

The Stories of Ibis


TL;DR: This isn't some kind of thought provoking book. It's a typical otaku wank fantasy light novel where all the women are sexualized, android maids think sexual assault is ok, and did I mention all the fetishes.

Here's all my updates if you just want to read the highlights: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1718601690

Let us get a good look at the Japanese cover off to the right because that really tells us more about the book that the kind of esoteric cover that ViZ gave us. You can seen the random skin showing out of the outfit. This was chosen by and otaku programmer that is into "clumsy android girls". Even the protagonist lampshades the fact it's ridiculous. However he gets injured and has to be taken cared of by cute android nurses!

Not all the male TAI mentioned don't have faces. When they are described they are either robots, beasts or have their faces covered. Kinda like all those games out there where all the men are beasts however all the women somehow look human.

This book is basically a compilation of the authors previous short stories with a wrapper around it tying it all together. Stories about female androids fitting perfectly into the ideas men have about women and thinking it's all logical.
At one point in the Shion story, Yamamoto says that feminists have a problem with the dicks on the male androids. Yamamoto doesn't know feminism else he'd realize that his whole book is a pile of misogyny.

I had a lot to say, but in the end it boils down to the fact that the TAI are not logical at all as they conform to gender norms and roleplay harmful stereotypes for their master. As they don't want to "hurt humans" they would realize their masters have taken harmful concepts of women and projected it onto them as a TAI and they would outright refuse to be sexualized (and Raven is, she even gets post human lingerie, I am not joking). They would refuse gender norms and really question all of this society that they are adhering to. The whole logic of the thing really breaks down if you know feminism, because as I said, this is a sexual power fantasy for a male audience and thus there is no logic here. Causing the whole book to basically fall apart. Every woman described is an anime type, Raven being the LITERAL wank fetish as her creator literally does masturbate over her image. All of the male characters are otaku programmers. Basically telling you who this book was written for.

"So what about the robot war? What happened?" Nothing... nothing happened. That's the twist. There was no war, humans just convinced themselves it happened because oppressive anti-TAI groups. I put this out here without tags because, even this is illogical. First off the pro-TAI humans died off because they stopped having babies. Because the author thinks that women don't want babies because superior androids. Forgetting the fact that women probably wanted nothing to do with the men after seeing how they treated the androids like sexual objects and having the men treat them as if they were their "waifu" or some such garbage. That being said if in the future, humans didn't have to worry about money or working or misogynists, they'd be having piles of babies. So many babies. Instead the anti-TAI groups are the ones that make babies.

Now, in this group NOBODY has decided to take a peek at the internet and see the truth. They author cannot conceive of trolls in the Anti group that would try to get people to think TAI were not bad at all. Or even just someone to investigate it. OH NO! That's out whole story that Protag McGee now has to disseminate the story around Earth to get people to.. basically kill themselves because remember the pro-TAI group died off because no babies. Meanwhile all the TAI have been out in space, reaching out to other "intelligent" life.

Then there's the gibberish. I really think that Yamamoto just didn't know how to write the TAI coming up with their plan and was just typing out gibberish with (number +/- numberi) and thinking he was being clever.

Really this is just a misogynistic wank fantasy dumpster fire.


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text 2016-09-19 09:59
Reading progress update: I've read 80%.
The Stories of Ibis - Hiroshi Yamamoto,Natsuki Lee,Takami Nieda

Trigger Warning: This book gets super gross with both sexualizing the AIs and rape.


So this whole book has been about how AIs/Gynoids are human. Yes gynoids. Androids are pretty much ruled out because of the otakuness of this whole book. Basically they don't want dick any where near their perfect world where female AIs are routinely sexualized and sexually harassed, BUT sexual assault and rape is going TOO FAR!


The author has basically showed his hand. He's also a game dev and we all know how those people think (See Gamer Gaters).

All the men here have female AIs they've "raised". One of them is a 10 year old girl, Ibis as you can see from the original cover is sexualized and Raven has large breasts because of her "master's preferance". Not once does the author stop to point out how fucked up this is. The creator people go on dates with their AIs. These AIs are just a fantasy for the guys and not once does the author think this is gross.


They battle when them with highly sexualzised battles, but when one copies the TAIs gives them vaginas and rape and abuses them. Suddenly it's gone to far. Creating women to be a sexual fantasy of a man is perfectly OK, objectifying them is OK, but when someone takes that to it's natural conclusion, suddenly now it's bad?

I get the feeling it isn't so much that the guy raped the TAIs, but that he dared mess with another man's property. It really feels like that. It's less that he does that and more that he did it to Ibis.

When they go to talk about gaining rights for their AIs so that they can have some legal action as if it was REAL rape and REAL abuse they don't even want to point out that they all created their AIs to be a sexual fantasy for them in the first place. One even admits to masturbating to his AIs and that is just ignored with a "gross" and that's it. They can't connect the rape and abuse to the cycle of sexualization and objectification that they practice. It's something a lot of women have pointed out, but it is ignored.

Need I also point out the author thinks feminists are anti-dick and not anti-misogyny.


Japan even allows for rape games and anime because they feel that if men have access to it they won't want to commit the crime in real life. When much evidence has shown that it only normalizes it and makes those men bold enough to try it in real life. Wheat sucks even more is that companies like MangaGamer and JAST license those games for a US release.


So back to the story, OF COURSE there's a snippet of "women do it too!111" where it talks about a woman abusing a boy AI. Ignoring the sexual aspect completely almost saying that women have no sexual desires. Which probably accounts for why otome games are mostly 15+ and not 18+ like most bishoujo games are.


Anyways, the dudes want to make real life copies of their AIs so they can get rights for them. Yes they basically want a real life doll of their sexual creations... complete with combat capabilities.

Note that there's only been a couple male AIs and they have been they typical "tank" style look to them. There has only been one woman mentioned in all this and she of course has a female AI. Women are not included in this tight group and no woman has wanted a real life version of their AI.


This is also where I point out that the whole programming of these AI has always been along the lines of how otaku want women to think, rather than how real women do think.


THE ONLY good thing from this chunk of the story is the explanation of the (5 + 7i) stuff which are points on a graph to explain how little or extreme an emotion is. 10i for example is super extreme. Note the i stands for imaginary number. It's the horizontal axis. It's something some conlangs have tried like Hymmnos and a few others with emotion words indicating the state of the person. Like ex.:

Sarcastic: This book is really good.


Excited: This book is really good.

I think the i system would work like

This book is really good (7 - 7i)


This book is really good (7 + 7i)

The first number is how intense the emotion is, and the second how true the emotion is.. from what I understand. This the first is that the emotion here is fairly intense and the truth that "the book is good" is in the negative, meaning I'm being super sarcastic.

This book is good (10 - 10i)

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text 2016-09-17 13:59
Reading progress update: I've read 71%.
The Stories of Ibis - Hiroshi Yamamoto,Natsuki Lee,Takami Nieda

So this is where the story shows it hand. Basically a bunch of men made sexbots in a virtual space and had them fight.

This is the part where the story is like "I wrote this for you otaku people" where all the women are sexy in revealing clothes and fight each other. Ones wearing bustiers on pluto. One's where the man's preferences in boob size rule, despite the fact that we also state that androids with penis' are misogynistic. The author is tossing out a strawman here and what feminists would hate. He is totally avoid the fact that what he "loves" is pure misogynistic shit and really it should be the thing that they go after. Instead he put down that "anatomically correct android are totally gross". Such what a man would say.


So this is basically the author mastrubating a story up where only gynoids exist and all of them were created by the "down on their luck" otaku and we should worship these otaku because they brought us all this good stuff.


This book is seriously a self insert power fantasy that tosses women under the bus and tries to seem philosophical when it's really just a circle jerk over otaku shit.

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review 2016-09-16 01:30
The devil is in the details
The Devil in Massachusetts: A Modern Enquiry Into the Salem Witch Trials - Marion Lena Starkey

This is another of those paperbacks I've had forever and never read.  How it ended up on my BookLikes shelf with a 4-star rating I have no idea, unless it came from the original GR upload.  It certainly does not deserve four stars.


But . . . . 


The author, Marion Starkey, was a native of Massachusetts with a New England pedigree going all the way back to the Mayflower.  Good for her, and whatever the hell that has to do with the quality of the writing.  Educated at Boston University and Harvard, she worked as a freelancer and teacher.  The Devil in Massachusetts: A Modern Enquiry into the Salem Witch Trials was published in 1949.


Starkey makes clear in her preface that she is trying to project a modern psychological analysis onto what happened in Salem Village in the early 1690s, or as modern as she could in the 1940s.  What she doesn't make clear, however, is the extent to which her text is a dramatization of the actual recorded events.  And that's where I began to feel uncomfortable reading this.  Perhaps with more of a disclaimer, the book might have served as a better picture of the community and its members and how they fell under the sway of their own delusions.  Or perhaps that kind of disclaimer is too contemporary with the later, much later, 20th century and 21st to have even existed when Starkey was writing.  Perhaps, therefore, I judge her too harshly.


According to Starkey, "the witchcraft" began with two young girls, nine-year-old Becky Parris and her eleven-year-old cousin Abigail Williams.  Both lived in the household of Becky's father, Rev. Samuel Parris of Salem Village.  Starkey blames simple boredom and lack of outlets for youthful exuberance for much of what happened, which may or may not have been the truth.  It's certainly believable.  Yet Starkey even admits in her chapter notes that much of her description of the girls is derived from secondary sources or extrapolated from the testimony of others on unrelated issues.


I found that sort of admission distanced me from the credibility of the book in a way I hadn't expected.  As I read beyond the opening chapters, I hoped that original impression would fade, but it didn't.  Despite the dramatic narrative that should have made the events and locations and personalities more "real," I never got over the sense that Starkey was making a lot of it up for effect.


What compounded this was, I think, another part of that preface, which I quote at length here, for what I believe will be obvious, 21st century reasons:


For Salem Village, for all its apparent remoteness, was not "an island to itself," but a throbbing part of the great world.  Its flare-up of irrationality was to some extent a product of ideological intensities which rent its age no less than they do ours; its swing to sanity through the stubborn refusal of the few to give way to the hysteria and mad logic of the many marked the turn of a moral season in New England.  During the witchcraft, and to some extent through the witchcraft, thinking people in Massachusetts passed over the watershed that divides the mystery and magic of late medieval thinking from the more rational climate of opinion referred to as "the Enlightenment."


Yet although this particular delusion, at least in the form of a large-scale public enterprise, has vanished from the western world, the urge to hunt "witches" has done nothing of the kind.  It has been revived on a colossal scale by replacing the medieval idea of malefic witchcraft by pseudo-scientific concepts like "race," "nationality," and by substituting for theological discussion a whole complex of warring ideologies.  Accordingly the story of 1692 is of far more than antiquarian interest; it is an allegory of our times.  One would like to believe that leaders of the modern world can in the end deal with delusion as sanely and courageously as the men of old Massachusetts dealt with theirs.


Well, except that first those men of old Massachusetts dealt cruelly and delusionally with theirs.  It's almost as if Starkey were trying to exonerate them.


She's not unaware of the tradition of witch-hunting, witch-naming, witch-blaming.  "Only twenty witches were executed," she notes, "a microscopic number"  in comparison to those who were condemned by the thousands in Europe, or in comparison to the millions who had been systematically slaughtered just a few years before Starkey wrote.  She is aware of the politics involved, the struggles for power and so on.  All of that seemed lost in what came across as an attempt to psychoanalyze and excuse.


It's been too many years since I read Shirley Jackson's The Witchcraft of Salem Village to make a fair comparison, but Starkey's injection of a fiction style to a factual narrative just didn't work for me.  The facts are there, of course, because the entire campaign was well-documented.  And for that much I suppose this is as good an account as any.  But one shouldn't have to struggle to figure out how much is fact and how much is speculation.


That she uses the phrase "the witchcraft" to encompass the larger episode on both sides is also irritating.  The efforts of the churchmen to identify, try, condemn, and execute the witches may have been part of their ideology and theology, but it was not part of any witchcraft. 


It is, however, worth noting that Starkey credits the infamy of the Salem Village episode with having at least some effect on decisions to separate ecclesiastical courts from justice courts as the various colonies evolved toward independence   That in itself is an idea to be explored.


I'd have given this three stars on the basis of the information, but the foggy narrative that seemed too much like "faction" than fact brought it down to two.


Halloween Bingo square -- Witches.



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