The Cliffs of Insanity: Remember Kasandra Perkins? The NFL Hopes Not

How does Arrow connect to what happened in the NFL this week? Read down to find out. Image via DC Entertainment

What happened this week in my adventures climbing the cliffs of insanity? I noticed the people running the NFL were all concerned about domestic violence now because it might cost them money, and that news media outlets covering the story are very much a part of the problem, as are some parts of pop culture in general, like the much-lauded Arrow.

But Alison Bechdel officially becoming a genius did end my week in a smile.

You’re Still Not Getting It NFL

So I’ve heard that last week was one of the worst in the history of the NFL. Why? Because now everyone is on the NFL’s case about letting players who hit their wives and perhaps their kids continue to play in games.

I submit this only came up for two reasons:

1. The players are high profile and thus things couldn’t be swept under the rug. The Ravens wanted to keep Ray Rice on the field, so they went to bat for him. If he’d been a marginal player who knocked out his wife, they would have just cut him. Winning is everything.

2. The sponsors finally said, “Uh, this is making us look bad.” Which means the decisions to be “serious” about domestic violence is a classic case of “it’s all about the money.”

If Roger Goodell and the rest of the NFL had really been serious about confronting the issue of domestic violence in the NFL, it wouldn’t have taken shaming them with a video of one of their star players smacking his girlfriend in an elevator. Instead, they would have acted when one of their players murder the mother of his child and then committed suicide in front of his head coach and general manager.

The murder of Kasandra Perkins by Kansas City Chiefs player Jovan Belcher in 2012 was met with all sorts of public condolences by the NFL teams and officials. But two years later, the NFL was so “concerned” about domestic violence that they decided Rice was basically a good person and should only serve a two-game suspension for knocking his future wife unconscious.

Way to be “concerned,” NFL. They were so “concerned” that only this week did they hire three experts in the field of domestic violence to be available to consult with teams.

Kassandra Perkins died for nothing. Maybe people would have paid attention if her murder had been caught on tape. Or if her murderer had been nationally known.

You’re Part of the Problem, Sports Illustrated

So at the same time Sports Illustrated is running all of these stories about domestic violence, the NFL being tone deaf, and then the arrest of Adrian Peterson, those stories are surrounded on their website by ads featuring hot girls.

Ever think, SI, that by featuring women as sex objects 90 percent of the time, including devoting an entire issue to women as sex objects, that you might be part of the whole culture that devalues women? It took a week before I saw a women on that landing page as anything but sexy and available for men, and then it was a story about the problems of female sports casters.

Way to be part of the problem. Try looking in the mirror, SI.

You too, New York Times

I get the Sunday edition of the New York Times delivered each week because I love to linger over all of the articles. But this week, I was flipping through to pull out my favorite sections and I noticed something.

All of the interior sections–sports, business, real estate, style–featured a photo of a man above the fold. The only women were in the travel section, in a group shot.

I know. No one at the times was cackling in glee at keeping out the evil wimmins but even unintentionally, it says a lot about how the news is covered in regards to gender.  For instance, the New York Times Book Review recently started adding capsule reviews of romance books, though they’ve had capsule reviews of the mystery and science fiction genres for years. The only difference in these three genres is that just one, the one not featured until this year, is mostly written and read by women.

Pop Culture Plays a Role Too. Yes, You Arrow.

So why do I keep banging at pop culture for not portraying women as, well, people? Because it’s so easy to make them the other, objects, adjuncts, and that feeds into the whole perception of women as not as valuable as men.

Take Arrow. Lots of my friends love and watch Arrow. It’s led to a spin-off, Flash, and probably paved the way for the show I’m most anticipating this year, Gotham.

The complete season 2 blu-ray of Arrow is out. GeekMom was offered the chance to run a giveaway to readers. But I nixed it because the show has some serious problems with how it uses the women on the show.

First, the entire second season hinges on the fridging of Shado, a fascinating character in her own right who’s just summarily executed early in the season so Ollie can angst about it and Slade can hate Ollie for it. Shado’s not a character, she’s the proverbial sexy lamp of Kelly Sue DeConnick sexy lamp test. (If you can replace your character with a sexy lamp, you’re a hack.)

Then there’s the treatment of Moira Queen, who had a fascinating character arc in season 1 but a lot of dumb plot lines in season 2 which led to her being executed by Slade. Why? The writers flat out admitted they had no more story for her. Because, I don’t know, a woman of shady morality somehow regaining control of Ollie’s life by taking away his fortune and tempting Ollie to the dark side is just dead boring, I guess.

Or maybe Moira was killed off because she’s not available to sleep with Ollie, like all the other women on the show except Thea. (Who, as his sister was also unavailable, this not being Game of Thrones.)  Every female character on this show either sleeps with Ollie–Helena, Shado, Sara–or wants to sleep with Ollie–Laurel, Felicity. I loved Felicity in season one. She clearly had her own agenda and her own ideas of how to do things to help the city. In season 2, by the end, she’s reduced to Ollie’s love interest.

Sara, too, was interesting when introduced at the beginning of season 2 but she quickly hops back into bed with Ollie because…plot reasons.

As for Thea, since she couldn’t sleep with Ollie, she was reduced to pining over Roy instead of having a plot about her. Someone pointed out to me that Amanda Waller hasn’t slept with Ollie. To which I say “not yet,” since I expect that to happen in the flashbacks that will populate the upcoming season 3.

As a viewer, I’m frustrated because there are times when this show is good and I want to squee like a fangirl. And there are times when I want to tear my hair out and it’s not always about the women. Roy gets dosed with a drug that turns him into a killer. Ollie tries to help him with it but Roy eventually goes nuts and murders a cop. Then we find out later Ollie knew there was a cure for this drug but he didn’t want to use it because Slade…somethingsomething.

Oliver Queen, worst mentor ever.

And that’s the long version of why I didn’t want to offer the box set for a giveaway. I’m sure there are plenty of other sites offering the giveaway, the public relations people tell me it’s in the hundreds. Feel free to find one of them.

And maybe you like the show and in which case, have fun watching this season. It’s also entirely possibly you can see the problems with the show and enjoy it anyway. In that case, have fun. I’m out.

But there was some good news this week!

Bechdel is Officially a Genius

Cartoonist Alison Bechdel, the originator of the Bechdel test, which tracks whether a movie is at all interested in its female characters, was awarded MacArthur Genius Grant. As a MacArthur fellow, she will receive up to $625,000 in grants over the next five years.

And if you don’t know who Bechdel is and why she’s worthy of such a grant, go watch this video. The world needs more Bechdels and less of NFL players getting a pass because they can make money for millionaires.

Writer, Mom, Geek and Superhero. though usually not all four on the same day. Author of the award-winning Phoenix Institute Superhero series and the steampunk novel, The Curse of the Brimstone Contract.