Where I live in Seattle is about 35 miles from North Bend, the town where Twin Peaks was set and the diner with its famous cherry pie is still located. I used to work with someone who lived in North Bend. She quit after only a month or so because she found something that paid better and didn’t require her to drive around a mountain every day to get to work.
The Twin Peaks mojo must have something to do with the general weirdness in my office, though, because for some reason, my bosses would rather pay overtime every single day of every single week than just get some employees to do a standard amount of work in a standard workday. I don’t understand how this works but as someone who is doing more than a standard amount of work without overtime, I get a little irritated when I have to work an extra hour every day and get attitude when I say I can only stay thirty minutes. On a Friday. When they wait until mid-morning on that day to ask me to stay late.
It’s hard enough to maintain a life and friends with my regular schedule, so occasionally, I will say no to a full hour of overtime. Yesterday was one of those occasions. My boss responded with a clipped “fine,” as if that kind of thing is supposed to affect my decision. I said I had plans but this wasn’t completely true; I mean, leaving anytime after 4:30pm means traffic is an exercise in not killing anyone and I had to go to the grocery store which turns into a Thunderdome around 5pm. So it’s not like I left work and did nothing. I drove home and went to the grocery store and then I did nothing, if nothing includes making pizza, drinking a bottle of Albariño, and finally starting Game of Thrones.
I know, I’m way behind on Game of Thrones. To begin, we don’t have cable, and even if we did, I doubt we’d pay for HBO (at least not until American Gods comes out and then I’ll be paying out the ass). But Graham got the episodes from someone at work and burned them to discs, and because he gets home in the middle of the night and has hours to just hang out, he watched the first season in like two days. The only show I’ve been able to watch like this was Spaced, and, while brilliant (‘ello Brian), it was hardly the character-dense epic that is Game of Thrones.
But I’m two episodes into the first season now, and even though I pretty much know where the series is going because of the Internet, my primary thought thus far is “Man, George R.R. Martin really doesn’t like women.”
Which I’ve found is common with writers of sci fi and fantasy. Harlan Ellison – while great and one of my favorite writers – hates women, at least in his stories. Heinlein was a misogynist who my friend Jen says was mostly busy trying to bang Picasso’s leftovers, and there’s a mountain range of other books out there that keep women from reading the genre just because they’re dismissive or downright violent towards them.
Now, this doesn’t keep me from liking sci fi and fantasy. To me, reading involves a certain measure of risk on the reader’s part, a willingness to believe in what’s happening in the story just because the author says so. And if that author writes women as evil, manipulative sexbots who stand blankly by as a man chews the scenery, then so be it. I can read other things, and some women have made inroads in the realm of sci fi/fantasy/horror. It’s the reader’s responsibility to look them up.
Getting angry about the treatment of fictional women in a genre is like getting angry about the treatment of women in advertising. Or certain types of advertising, I should say. There’s a woman in my office who reads the coupon pages like a real fucking newspaper. I share a break with her, and I’ve seriously sat there and watched her hold up the pages and really scrutinize them, reading them left-to-right and top-to-bottom, although I have to be careful about seeing her because if she catches me, she starts asking me questions about grocery shopping and tries to show me pictures of cute dogs in the PetCo ad.
The other day, she tossed a page at me and asked what I thought of the lady posed in an ad for jeans. The store was Cabela’s or some other outdoorsy place that used Realtree for a background graphic, so right there, probably not someplace I’d shop. The lady in the ad was standing with her back to the viewer, ass tilted slightly upwards and her face turned back over her shoulder. I mean, whatever, I’m not buying those jeans, anyway, and I’m under no assumption that the person in charge of selling stuff to the Cabela’s customer base is a feminist.
But this woman I work with was incensed at this photo, and demanded to know if it made me want to buy those jeans. “Look at my butt,” she said, “that’s what it’s saying. Buy these jeans because of my butt.” And she was saying “butt” with such invective, which I thought was ridiculous because a) she wears sweatpants and performance fleece every day because she has a mysterious medical condition that makes her incapable of regular business casual and b) if you don’t like the ad, don’t fucking look at it.
I don’t understand people who get angry at advertising. Well. I understand not wanting to watch commercials before a movie, or being annoyed when a city punishes people for writing graffiti on a billboard for McDonald’s. But like sci fi/fantasy’s issues with women, advertising can be ignored. Or at least overlooked. Don’t like the ad? Don’t buy the thing. There, point made. It’s hardly worth getting riled over to the point where you’re harassing coworkers who are just trying to sit quietly.