A Really Fantastic Meme: Fictional Characters You Identify With

Here is a really cool blogger with a really cool meme that I could never resist:

Name six fictional characters in whom you could see yourself, and explain why you were able to do so.

As we all know, most of the interesting fictional characters are male. Finding a female character that would not be stupid, pathetic, whiny and even more stupid is a feat of incredible proportions. Nobody expects me to identify with the likes of Anna Karenina, do they? This is

1. Bernarda Alba from Federico Garcia Lorca’s play The House of Bernarda Alba. Bernarda Alba is quite a horrible character. She is a matriarch who rules the lives of her miserable daughters and imposes her will on them in everything. However, given the dearth of powerful female characters in world literature, I have to take whatever I can get. Bernarda Alba is undoubtedly strong and she is a female character who has a personality.

2. Vasilisa Mikulishna is the protagonist of a great Soviet cartoon. She has this beautiful long hair but she cuts it off in order to save her husband who has been imprisoned by the prince of Kiev for bragging about how smart and resourceful his wife is. Scroll the video to 03:48 and you’ll see that she is totally me.

And this was kind of it in terms of female characters I identify with.

3. Gregory House of House, MD. When this show first started airing, I had several people phone me to announce happily, “Clarissa, there is a new show and the main character is you! You have got to watch it.” I can’t say that I see the likeness but people keep insisting that House, c’est moi. So who am I to argue?

4. A lot more than House, I think I am Robert Goren of Law and Order: Criminal Intent. He’s smart, complex, and tortured. I really get that. He also has to be autistic, even though nobody ever spells it out.

5. Fermin de Pas, the protagonist of one of the greatest Spanish novels ever, La Regenta, by Leopoldo Alas. He is ambitious, mean, obsessed with power, manipulative, a social climber, and has an unhealthy relationship with his mother. God, I like him. As you can see, I’m honest enough not to say that identify only with the perfect characters who walk on water.

What characters do I remind you of?

If you are participating in the meme, feel free to leave links to your posts in the comment section.

Gender-Neutral Pronouns in an Academic Article

OK, I have a question for fellow academics. In an academic paper, is it acceptable to use gender-neutral pronouns (zie, hir, etc.)? Or not? Have you ever seen it done in an academic context?

More specifically, if I have a character (in a novel) who lives the first half of their life as a woman and the second half as a man, whose genitals make it impossible to identify them as either male or female, and who uses both male and female pronouns to refer to themselves, how do I refer to this character in my article?


It is often our own dependence on the gender binary that makes us organize the narratives about the intersex people along the lines of  the “true, biologically defined gender.” In many cases, the problem is not that the intersex child was placed into a wrong category at birth but that there was any attempt to categorize that intersex child as male or female at all.

While intersex people should be absolutely free to identify as either male or female if that’s what they choose, there should also be a space for those who don’t want to identify as either and who see themselves as intersex and not as female or male. Such people exist and their reality deserves respect.

Is There Indoctrination in American Universities?

“The indoctrination that occurs in American universities is one of the keys to the left holding and maintaining power in America. And it is indoctrination. If it was the other way around, the ACLU would be out there making sure there wasn’t one penny of government dollars going to colleges and universities. If they taught Judeo-Christian principles in those colleges and universities, they’d be stripped of every dollar. If they teach radical secular ideology, they get all the government support that they can possibly get.”

—Rick Santorum

I don’t know what Santorum, who thinks that a pregnancy ensuing as a result of rape is a gift from God, considers to be “Judeo-Christian values.” I don’t know if he understands the concept of values at all. I’m pretty sure, however, that he doesn’t have the slightest inkling as to what college teaching is all about.

I come into the classroom and every single time do all I can to ensure that my students feel completely free to express and explore any opinions and beliefs they have. When I was a union organizer, for example, I had a student deliver a passionate presentation on the evil nature of unions. Santorum probably thinks I, an evil commie-pinko Liberal latte-chugging college prof, eviscerated him for that. The truth that this vile ignoramus cannot even begin to comprehend is that I gave this student 100% because his presentation was extremely well-researched, well-argued and delivered in amazing Spanish. And I felt proud of him.

Last Tuesday, students in one of my courses once again tried to gang up on my sole Conservative anti-Obama student. Santorum probably believes that I encouraged my fellow Liberal students to pounce on her. The truth, however, is that I made everybody settle down and said, “Sheila has some very important and interesting things to say. Let’s listen to her and not interrupt.” And then I helped her argue her anti-Obama case. And the reason why I did this is because when I teach my course, I could care less about Obama and the elections. I care whether all students get a chance to speak and that they use the subjunctive correctly when they speak.

As much as I might want to share with my students my deep-seated belief that Santorum is a blabbering idiot and a vile jerk, I’ll never do that. Because contrary to what Santorum thinks, I don’t indoctrinate. And the reason why he finds it so impossible to imagine that thousands of professors come to work to teach their students French literature, mathematics, geography, physics, Arabic, etc. and never try to indoctrinate anybody is because Santorum thinks that everybody is as dishonest and willing to force their ideology onto others as he is.

And to conclude: when Santorum gets pregnant as a result of rape or absolutely anything else, he is entitled to treat that pregnancy as a gift from God, a Nobel Prize, or a manifestation on Judeo-Christian values. In the meanwhile, though, he should stop make pronouncements about things he knows nothing about, such as pregnancies, college education, and values.