Friday, 27 February 2015

Catwoman Confirmed as Bisexual by DC Comics

DC Comics has flirted with the idea of Catwoman Selina Kyle being bisexual for many years now, with small teases and suggestions, but the latest issue confirms without a doubt that the much loved anti-hero thief is indeed a lover of both men and women.

In the latest run of the popular comic book series Selina Kyle has moved away from her costumed identity of Catwoman and has taken up a position as a mob boss.  With the Catwoman role vacant rival mob family member Eiko Hasigawa steps in to fill the void.

With Selina and the Hasigawa family on he verge of all out mob war readers might have been surprised when she and Eiko shared a tender kiss on a rooftop.

The writer, Genevieve Valentine, shared some thought on the choice to have the lesbian kiss on her blog;

'She's flirted around it - often quite literally - for years now; for me, this wasn't a revelation so much as a confirmation.  Was it a surprise for them?  In terms of their sexualities, not particularly, certainly it's no surprise to Selina that she has a attraction to a woman.'

'Is this particular kiss a surprise?  It's definitely surprising, this is the very last thing you're supposed to be getting into on the brink of war, and they both know it.  But this isn't the first intense moment between them.'

'While I don't want to spoil what can't yet be spoiled, please be assured that Selinas long standing  connection to Batman has not been forgotten, that is not how bisexuality (or humanity) works.  Selina doesn't care easily, but when she does care it strikes deep, and there will be plenty of that coming up.'

While some people are calling the kiss a 'grab for attention' from DC, many fans of the series and the character feel that it fits perfectly into the series and a character history that has long been suggested at.


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Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Homophobes Have A Problem With The Walking Dead

The Walking Dead has never been a show to shy away from things that a lot of television programmes would shy away from.  We've had people ripped to pieces by zombies, rape threats, torture, cannibalism, lesbian characters, murder, and more knives in the head then I can count.  But it would appear that the one thing that has finally pushed some fans too far is the inclusion of two gay characters.

Despite introducing a lesbian character last season, and showing her in a relationship, it's two men in love and kissing that is 'just going too far'.  I guess all the homophobes out there are okay with two attractive women kissing but when it's men it's a 'sin'.

A number of fans took to Twitter to express their disappointment, anger and disgust over the inclusion of gay characters in the show.

Unfortunately nothing is sacred in the zombie apocalypse, how dare they show two kind and caring people in love with each other.  The bastards!

Yes, because being gay is a bigger sin then resorting to murder and cannibalism.

Now that's just offensive.

If gay characters lost the show fans then they're not the kind of people we want in the fandom.

Okay, any sentence that starts 'I'm not homophobic but' is definitely going to be homophobic. 

Or, they're just not hate filled bigots like you.

Because it was such a child friendly, wholesome family show before the gay men.

Don't worry though guys, despite the stupid mouth breathers who felt the need to express their disgust and show off their homophobia there was also a large number of fans who found the inclusion of Aaron and Eric to be a good thing.

Well they are very similar in their eyes.

We'll soon run out of cliffs I'm afraid.

Yes good sir, woooooooooo indeed.

Yes, but it's hot when it's two girls and icky when it's men right?

Personally I hope that The Walking Dead keeps these characters around for a long while to come, have them kissing every episode.  Show them as a loving couple and really piss off the fools out there.


Thursday, 19 February 2015

Transgender Teenager Zander Mahaffey Commits Suicide

Fifteen year old Zander Mahaffey committed suicide on Sunday the 15th of February, leaving a suicide none of the social network Tumblr.

Zander, who was from Austell, Georgia, posted a suicide note online that stated his mother as one of the main reasons for his suicide.  In a angry and gut wrenching final message Zander describes his mothers refusal to accept him and verbal and psychological abuse, along with being sexually assaulted, as the reason why he no longer had the strength to go on.

In his note Zander shared incidents of his mothers abuse and left messages of farewell to family and friends.

Despite being misgendered in memorial posts by family and friends, a number of his friends have set up a blog for people to leave their memories for the young man he really was.  Since his death the hashtag #HisNameWasZander has reached over 7000 mentions by people all over the world who want the world to know who he really was.

One can't hear about Zanders death and not remember the tragedy of Leelah Alcorn, who similarly posted a suicide not online before taking her own life.  Sadly, suicide rates amongst transgender people are staggering, with a recent survey by Pace finding that 48% of trans people have attempted suicide.

With such high numbers of trans people attempting suicide, and so many transgender youths having to face difficult home lives I doubt Zander will be the last transgender teenager to die this way.

It's important to remember though that there are many suicide hotlines that are capable of helping people in Zander's situation, and some of these have been tweeted alongside the hashtag #HisNameWasZander in an attempt to raise awareness of the help available to those people who feel that they have no hope left to them.

Please, those of you who are reading this, take the time to look at the helplines that exist, share them with the hashtag #HisNameWasZander and try to help save the life of the next transgender child that looses the strength to carry on the fight alone.

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Cain You Feel The Love Tonight? - Supernatural 'The Executioners Song' Review

After a fairly disappointing season so far 'Executioners Song' delivers some great tv.  Bringing the monster of the week run to an end and coming back to the main plot of Dean, the First Blade and the Mark of Cain.

The episode focuses on the Knight of Hell and Father of Murder, Cain, as he reappears after almost a year, now on a mission to kill all of his descendants in a bid to stem the tide of murder in the world.  It's an ambitious plan, one that Cain admits would end in the deaths of at least 10% of the worlds population.

With dozens, possibly hundreds, already killed at Cains hand, including the elderly, children and babies, the Winchesters have to put aside their fear of what the First Blade and the Mark could do to Dean and face the greatest killer the world has ever known.

Teaming up with Castiel and Crowley, Sam and Dean manage to trap Cain, leaving Dean to fight him alone.

'Executioners Song' is one of the best episodes of Supernatural in a long time, and apart from the 200th episode, the best of the season.  Though comparing the two is impossible as all of the comedy and fun of 200 is replaced with tension and violence.

The episode is filled with brilliantly made scenes that take the time to build rather than rushing along, with some superb cinematography and a beautifully subtle music score that makes this one of those rarer grown-up episodes.  It doesn't rely on the jokes, in fact I'm struggling to remember any, instead it's made great by the tension and drama.

An absolutely superb episode, hopefully a sign of the things to come later on in the season.


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Wednesday, 18 February 2015

The Rescue Begins - Star Wars Rebels 'Rebels Resolve' Review

With Kanan captured by the Empire and at the mercy of Grand Moff Tarkin and the Inquisitor it’s up to Ezra and the crew of The Ghost to try and find a way of rescuing their friend and leader.

After a failed attempt at gaining the information they need to find Kanan the group is ordered to stand down in their search by the mysterious Fulcrum, who we see as a hooded hologram for the first time in the series.

Unable to follow these orders Ezra leads his own mission to find Kanan, learning that the Empire is about to take him to Mustafar, the place ‘where Jedi go to die’.
This is the kind of episode that makes Star Wars Rebels great, forget the stand alone wacky adventure, this episode builds impressively on the shows lore and takes our heroes into some very dark places.

Having Tarkin back for another episode is great as he adds gravitas and menace to every scene he’s in, and when he’s teamed up with The Inquisitor you can’t help but feel worried for Kanan’s fate.
The highlight of the episode though has to be the inclusion of Fulcrum, one of the big mysteries of the series.  Now, I’ve got my own opinion of who Fulcrum is going to be, and this episode certainly helps to support my theory.

I believe, and hope, that Fulcrum will be revealed to be former Jedi Ahsoka Tano.  The reasons I believe this is that despite the disguised voice Fulcrum is clearly female.  Secondly, she is wearing a hooded robe that is very reminiscent of a Jedi Knight.  The hood of her robe ticks up in such a way that it suggests the shape of Ahsoka’s Togruta head tails.  Add into that the strong links between the rebels and the Jedi and I think it adds up to one possible candidate. 


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Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Dog Kebabs - The Walking Dead 'Them' Review

Every now and then there's an episode of The Walking Dead that focuses on the dull side of the zombie apocalypse, wandering around the countryside, low on supplies and even lower on hope.  'Them' is one of these episodes.  Unusually for this type of episode though, it's actually pretty damn good.

As opposed to the usual 'we're all out of hope' type episode this one has a very character driven core, the loss the group is feeling after the deaths of Beth and Tyrese.  With two characters lost in just two episodes the group has been left reeling from the shock.

This is possibly one of the lowest points the group has ever been in, Maggie and Sasha have lost their family, Abraham has found solace in the bottle, Father Gabriel has begun to question his faith and Daryl has started to shut down.  Despite this, the episode isn't about wallowing in misery and pain but rather looks at peoples ability to move on and start to heal.

After a slow burn to begin with as the group walk down a road searching for food and supplies, the episode picks up once a massive storm hits and the survivors find cover in a barn.  After a tense moment where the group have to keep a horde of walkers out things take an almost strangely beautiful turn as Maggie and Sasha share a tender moment as they watch the sunrise together.

'Them' is not going to be a memorable episode, and won't be on anyone's favourites list but it's been much better then some episodes we've had to sit through in the past.  A slow but entertaining episode that takes the time to look at the emotional toll the world of The Walking Dead has on those who live in it with a satisfying conclusion that begins to set up some very exciting things to come.  Alexandria Safe Zone anyone?


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Saturday, 14 February 2015

50 Shades Of Grey Promotes Sexual Abuse, Not BDSM

It would seem that the big thing this Valentines Day is going to watch a film about sexual abuse, sorry, I meant to say 'romance' movie.

The massively popular 'Fifty Shades of Grey' has just been released as a film, which will result in this terrible piece of work reaching a whole new audience that would not normally read the book.  That's bad news.  Very bad news.  'Fifty Shades of Grey' isn't a romance story, it's not even a story about people in a BDSM relationship (as it likes to make out), it's a story of a young woman becoming the victim of sexual abuse.

The BDSM community has been very upset by the work of E.L. James because she paints their community in a bad light, gives out misinformation and makes people who practice BDSM look like abusers, because that's what Christian Grey is.  The BDSM community is a group that believes strongly in safety and comfort.

Consent is always given, no one is forced to do something that they are uncomfortable with or do not want to do.  After acts of role play partners will comfort each other, physically and emotionally.  They tend to any wounds, they cuddle and comfort each other.

'Fifty Shades of Grey' features none of these elements.  Christian Grey uses psychological and physical abuse to dominate a young virgin girl and control her actions, doing things that are much, much closer to rape then being a dominant.

For example, during the story Christian Grey at one point refuses to listen to Anastasia when she denies him sex.  ''No', I protest, kicking him off'.  His response to a woman saying no to sex?  ''If you struggle I'll tie your feet, too.  If you make a noise, Anastasia, I will gag you.  Keep Quiet''.  Yes, some people do engage in role play, and that can include rape fantasy, but that's not what happens here.  This is someone refusing sex and someone else forcing themselves on them.  That's rape.  Pure and simple.  But because the author goes on to have Anastasia enjoy the sex that follows we're supposed to forget that it's rape.  I've even seen female fans of the series defend this scene, which frankly sickens me.

Listening to consent and stopping when a partner tells you to is a core belief of BDSM culture.  Every act that takes place must be at the agreement of all parties involved, ignoring that consent, or lack there of, of a participant goes against the concept of safe, sane and consensual.

Now, that was just one example, and I wish I could say it was the only one but unfortunately the book is full of abusive behaviour that is in no way romantic but abusive.  He stalks Anastasia, he doesn't give her full information on what she's agreeing to, he isolates her from family and friends, he emotionally manipulated her.  The whole thing is a glorified representation of domestic abuse.

But the readers are made to forgive everything that Christian Grey does, because he's rich, he's attractive and because Anastasia loves him.  E.L. James takes a character that should be hated and tries to twist him into a character that we either love or feel pity for,

Take away the money and the glamour and think carefully about the things Grey does and can you honestly say that it's romantic, that it's appropriate?  All 'Fifty Shades of Grey' does is encourage men to abuse women and women to put up with that abuse.  'Fifty Shades of Grey' encourages rape culture just as much as guys telling rape jokes, yet it has women supporting it.

People need to stop supporting these books and films, they need to stop glorifying rape and sexual abuse otherwise the world won't begin to improve.


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Monday, 9 February 2015

Cosplay Is Not Consent - An Interview With Kerry Holland

As a geek I love going to comic conventions.  There's nothing quite like being in a convention hall with thousands of other fans, meeting people with the same interests as yourself, looking at cool merchandise on sale and meeting some of your favorite actor and creators.  One of the parts of geek experience that has always interested me is cosplayers.  You see them at every convention, people dressed up as some of their favorite characters, interacting with other fans.

I've not cosplayed myself, I don't think I have the drive to do it, but the people who do are some of the most committed and talented fans around.  Some of the costumes they make are so amazingly intricate and complicated that the skill that goes into creating them is staggering.  Plus walking around all day in the freezing cold in some of the costumes female characters wear takes some doing.

Seriously, she must be cold as hell.
Whilst cosplay is a growing phenomena that is liked by many there is a darker side to the hobby.  The reports of people in costume being assaulted is increasing every day.  From verbal abuse to physical and even sexual assault it would appear that dressing as your favorite super hero is a more dangerous past time than you would first think.

New York Comic Con reminding it's attendees that cosplay
is not consent.
The problem is becoming so widespread that various conventions are even placing signs in their spaces to remind attendees that just because someone is in a revealing costume that it is not permission to perform sexual assault.

Not only is is other convention attendees that cosplayers are having to find themselves on the look out for, cosplay artists have also been subjected by massively open misogyny from internet show hosts too, as detailed by 23 year old cosplayer Mandy Caruso who when interviewed found the only thing the host was interested in was the size of her breasts.

Unfortunately it would seem like the treatment that Mandy went through has become the rule rather than the exception, with so many cosplayers facing unwanted sexual attention.  Now I know what some of you might be thinking, 'if they don't want people drooling over them then they shouldn't be dressed in those costumes'.  Well, if that thought did enter your mind then just remember that it's the same argument people make about the victims of rape.

It doesn't matter if you're wearing a small party dress or a Wonder Woman costume, being dressed a certain way is not an invitation for people to assault you.

When a British cosplayer, the beautiful and talented Kerry Holland, began to post some frankly disturbing accounts of just a small fraction of the abuse she has been made to go through and the effect that it has had on her I reached out to her to share some of the experiences she has had, and she kindly agreed.

Kerry Holland as Spider-Gwen.
Kerry, how long have you been cosplaying?

I started back in May 2011, so coming up to 4 years now, it doesn't seem that long when I think about it, it's crazy how quickly this whole roller coaster has gone.

How did you discover your love of the activity and what was your first cosplay experience?

From what I recall, I discovered most of it via Tumblr, I was in the Harley Quinn community there and so I say a lot and really admired girls such as Elise Archer, Trini Quinn and Kate Quinn.  I even started talking someone who would become one of my best friends, Holly Rose, on there due to seeing their cosplay on Tumblr.

Kate and another friend off Tumblr, called Claire then encouraged me to come down from Scotland where I was living at that point to MCM in London to take part in a Harley Quinn meet up called Harleypalooza.  So Harley was my first cosplay.  The whole experience was amazing and unique, I was sucked into the worlds instantly and hooked.  

Kerry in her much loved Harley Quinn costume.
What has been your favorite costume to make and/or wear?

Harley is most definitely the most enjoyable to wear.  She helps me loose my inhibitions and mess around at cons more than I can in other costumes, people also respond well to her which is always wonderful.  Laverne's Tentacle costume was probably the most fun to make as I couldn't stop laughing at myself as I was making it and thinking 'you fucking idiot'.

What's the cosplay community like from the inside?  Is there a lot of friendship and support between cosplayers?

Oh god yes very much so!  Don't get me wrong, I've witnessed some bitchy shit, but in my own experience people have been so kind and supportive of me, really encouraging.  It has been really overwhelming, the friendships I've built and being part of groups.  I isolated myself a lot as I grew up and never felt a part of a group, in recent years the whole journey has been a lot for me to take in.  The people though, my friends, have been some of the greatest people I've ever met.  I have learnt so much from them and owe much of who I have become in the past few years to them and their influence.

What kinds of positive experiences have you had through your work?

The friendships, cheesey as it sounds, these people I now know, mean the world to man and I can't imagine mt life without them or even being able to become a better me without them in my life.

Cosplayers comming together as a community.
What kinds of negative experiences have you had to endure?

Sexual objectification, body shaming, rape threats, my image linked to Spider fetish.  When my Spider Gwen image went viral, the intensity of all this was traumatic.  I'm not a sexual person, sexually confident, and I wasn't even trying to be promiscuous by I was slut shamed, made out to be some whore for men to abuse and slur.  I was told I was asking for it because of the way I was dressed, much like how rape victims are dealt with, even though I was dressed in a mans costume.

When I corrected people about their assumptions I was mocked and told I was wrong.  I felt the whole situation was out of my control.  It was about me and my body but I had no say in the matter, it was violating, it effected me badly.  I was in tears constantly and became a trigger for my panic attacks.  I started to fear conventions because I thought I may be touched or attacked, which stories of that happening to other girls was starting to become public at the time.  It was also off putting to see that it was still happening when most people were mistaking me for a child.  I may be an adult but these people were still giving me this treatment thinking I was a minor.

On a whole do you receive more negative experiences in person at conventions or through the internet?

Luckily mostly positive at conventions, though I tend to focus on the negative that it over shadows the good, even if the good's the majority.  Most of the harassment I've experiences is online because people like to hide behind a computer so that they do not have to face the consequences of their actions.

What kind of ratio of men and women have you found make these kind of comments, or is it a problem rooted solely in the male audience?

Generally each give different types of insults.  Men like to say how they will dominate and over power you, like how they will 'fuck you senseless' without giving me a choice.  Women like to shame and put the blame on you more, aka name me Spider-Whore.  Men tend to do that too, but that was the focus of the females.

Kerry takes her Street Fighter very seriously.
Would you say that the harassment has soured your experience of cosplaying?

Very much so, I nearly gave up completely because I have little self esteem or self respect and the experience stripped me of the little I had.  As I said, it flared up my anxiety and I began to freak out a lot about cosplay stuff.  I couldn't deal with it and felt so disgusted with myself.  My friends helped me a lot to deal with the experience.  I still have problems though, to do cosplay or similar again is being a struggle to motivate myself even though it was one of my favorite things to do.  I start over thinking and panicking when I start thinking what could happen if I try and brave the suit again.

From what you know, is this kind of harassment something exclusive to your own experiences or is it a problem the whole community faces?

I experienced it in an extreme way, but it's not only happening in the community, but it's an example of what women face every day of their lives.  The objectification, the sexual harassment, the dehumanising of ourselves, the lack of control over our own bodies, the fact that we live in fear of being sexually attacked, so much more than being humiliated if we try and stand up for ourselves, or trying to point out the issues.

The 'calm down, you must be on your period', 'you're over reacting', being called a man hater, or the classic 'but men get it too' arguments.  Sexism and misogyny is something that is still happening in society and it's locking women from reaching their full potential.

Do you feel that any responsibility of preventing unwanted sexual harassment falls to convention organisers when cosplayers are in attendance at their events?

Definitely, they need to project us and the males who get harassed too.  I also feel like we need to look out for each other, to keep each other safe.  If we won't then who will?  There are so many young girls getting into cosplay now and if they are anything like me at that age they wont be able to deal with what may happen to them, it would kill me to see them being manipulated like that.

Kerry Holland, girl wonder!
Is there anything that over convention attendees can do to try and improve the situation for cosplayers?

Watch out for inappropriate behaviour, do not be afraid if you see someone getting harassed or people following cosplayers around to step in.  Even the girl code where you see a girl you don't know being bothered by someone, coming and pretending to be their best friend or them a part of your group and taking them out of the situation.  Don't touch, even if just a hug, without permission.  Speak to the cosplayer with manners, no sexual comments or suggestions ect.  Just treat them with respect.

Is there anything that you would like to say to any of the people that have harassed you?

Think before you speak, there is a real person in that costume. Would you like it if a man spoke to your daughter the way you are treating me?

Finally, are you planning on attending any conventions this year, and if so what new costumes can we expect to see from you?

Now that would be telling. :P

Kerry has spoken about the subject with more passion then I ever could.  Whilst I'm someone on the outside who is bothered by what cosplayers have to go through she's an amazingly talented person that is being forced to live through that abuse.

Too many people see cosplayers as just another attraction at comic cons, they think that they're there for the enjoyment of others.  The thing is they're not.  Cosplayers do what they do because it makes them happy, not you.  They're real people just like you and me.  They don't deserve poor treatment because they 'look slutty', or they're 'not the right skin colour' or 'too big to pull off that character'.

Cosplay has become such a big part of the geek community that those who engage in it shouldn't feel afraid to express themselves, they shouldn't be worried if they're going to get abuse or if someone is going to do something to them or not.  This kind of behaviour can't be tolerated.  If you see someone acting badly towards a cosplayer, step in, do what you can to help.

This isn't a problem that's just going to go away, it's something that we all need to work together to stop.

I would like to thank the amazing Kerry Holland for her participation in this article.  Her answers were wonderful to read and her cosplay is great to see.  Keep up the amazing work Kerry, don't let the jerks get you down.