Let’s Hear it for the Boys

I know I don’t focus on men’s fashion that often, but I can be an equal opportunity blogger. Besides, sometimes there’s nothing like a sharply dressed dude. (In fact, there’s a whole tumblr dedicated to guys in suits: http://guysinsuits.tumblr.com/) And while there were plenty of suits at GQ’s Men of the Year party, but I was most impressed by the guys who chose to show off their sartorial sense with a little flair. Without further ado:

Le Van Der Beek is killing on TV playing an exaggerated version of himself. And I also think he’s killing it by mixing patterns here.

Ed note: Is it just me, or does dude not age? His face is as fresh as the bum of a newborn babe.

Ben McKenzie looks like he’s wearing the maroon version of the suit Rob Pattinson wore to the Breaking Dawn 2.0 premiere. Together, they’d be the snazziest dressed people at a holiday party.

As a concept, I hate a plaid suit. On Darren Criss? I love a plaid suit! Continue reading

Sex, blood & misogyny

Let me be frank with you. I love True Blood. I think Eric’s an asshole, but I have a delusional soft spot for Byronic Vikings. Hell, I even like Twilight. The pre-adolescent girl that lurks in me gets giddy over Bella and Edward’s star-crossed romance, while the feminist in me screams “WTF Bella!?” Plus, reading the Twilight series incites the bra-burning, second-wave feminist in me, and I love getting riled up over a book.
But seriously, what’s up with me and other feminists who tolerate antiheroes like Eric and Edward, especially when we’re speaking out against victimization? I suspect there’s more to it than being raised on a diet of Disney princesses the last 75 years.
Here’s my theory: rose-coloring rape culture and domestic violence is an old phenomena, but people seem to be more accepting of chauvinism if it’s in a fictional world―particularly a fantasy world. Also, because women falling in love with their captors/abusers/rapists is an overused plot element, we’re used to it by now. (Gone with the Wind or Pamela, anyone?)
Vampires are the James Deans and James Bonds of the supernatural world―they represent sex, power, and vitality. Although female vamps are common now, they’re not the stars of the show.  Dracula had his concubines, Carlisle is head of the Cullen clan, and Pam does everything Eric tells her to do.  And it’s Team Edward, not Team Alice.
So when I watch True Blood tonight, I know what I like best about it (and what I loathe most about Twilight) is that Sookie Stackhouse will put her foot down and tell Eric to get the hell out of her house. Sookie wouldn’t tolerate Bill or Eric sneaking through her window to watch her sleep, nor has she gotten back with Bill after he raped and drained her. Plus, we’ll see if her fairy blood acts as a trump card over the vamps.

–By Jenna Cooper

Living in a testosterone sea

Part One: Cleanliness Culture Shock

I moved to Portland, Maine a few weeks ago so that I can intern with a photo agency based here. I also moved out of my own studio apartment (which I adored) and into a 5-bedroom apartment inhabited by four boys, one of the boy’s girlfriend and a dog, which I found on Craigslist. I admit, it was a risk, but the price was right and the location was decent and the boys were all friends from college.

The worst that could happen? They’re psycho killers. In which case, I would at least not die in graduate school in Columbia, Missouri. But, I did some Internet stalking, and talked to them on the phone, and determined that they were probably not going to butcher me in my sleep.

So, I jumped off the proverbial cliff and drove a Dodge Neon-full of my stuff from Missouri to Maine (with a pit-stop in Kentucky to visit my parents).  It was exhilarating.

Until I got there and realized they gave the girl the room with no closets. I have a crawlspace with doors that supposedly functions as a closet.  Clearly, the boys were not thinking about a girl and the need to hang up dresses. Oh, and it’s an attic room, so the slanted ceilings mean I stoop so I don’t hit my head. This is not a room for tall people, much less a girl who’s been 6”1’ since she was 15.

I woke up on my leaky air mattress the first morning thinking that I had made a giant mistake.

The bathroom I shared with one other boy was not encouraging. It was grimy and dark and there was dog hair everywhere. The shower stall was the narrowest shower I had ever been in. I was thinking: it will kill me if I try to shave my legs.

Actually, grimy and dog hair everywhere was a good description for most of the apartment.  I was hesitant to put groceries in the kitchen, and the state of the refrigerator before I cleaned it makes me shudder.  So, I started cleaning everything. I couldn’t live with the apartment like that.

Now, I am a slob. I am messy. My bedroom has been a warzone of clothing, books, papers and whatever else I own for as long as I remember. But: I am CLEAN. In my own apartment, my kitchen was almost always spotless, and my bathroom never looked like it would give you diseases (I hope). There is also, in my head, a difference between living in your own dirt and living in the dirt of the tenants before you and all five of your flatmates.

If you allow me to over-generalize: boys do not perceive this difference. Where I moved in and cleaned everything (because I could tell that the landlords had not), the boys just moved in.

I have good support in the one other girl who lives in the house. We bonded over our disgust in the boy’s housekeeping skills, and then went on a massive Target run to buy cleaning supplies and some house wares. We didn’t want to live in a college bachelor-pad pit. I was worried that the boys would care that we were screwing with all their stuff, but it turns out that they cared very little.

They even helped move furniture when we re-arranged the living room (if only to make sure there was optimum TV viewing in every seat). They’re helpful like that.

–By Erin K. O’Neill

This is the first in a series in which the author documents her adventures and travails living with four boys.

Must-reads for all womankind

Review of Jane and the Dragon

by Lindsay Patton

Four years ago, a CGI animated series called “Jane and the Dragon” debuted. It featured a frizzy-haired girl who was training to be a knight.

16 years before the kids’ show debuted, a six-year-old had read a book of the same name, and the moral of the story kept with her ever since.

That six-year-old was me, and the book was bought for me by my mom. In my family, reading was always encouraged, if not preferred. When books were bought for my brother and me, they were interesting, artistic, humorous, and always had an important lesson to teach. Jane and the Dragon, which was written and illustrated by Martin Baynton, was one of those books.

The protagonist of the story is Jane (obviously, as the title implies). Her mother is a lady-in-waiting to the queen, and insists Jane follow suit. Jane tries her hand at needlepoint, but pricks her fingers. She dons fancy dresses and hairstyles, but would rather go without them and let her red curls go wild.  Instead if indulging in femininity, she stares out the castle window, watching knight training, wishing she were there.

Her best friend in the castle is the court jester. He is a loyal friend, and when her family forbids her from doing anything other than being a lady, he’s the one to have her back. He lends her his suit of armor, and offers up his afternoons to help Jane train – with the knowledge the two gained from watching the knights train in the courtyard.

Jane gets her chance to prove herself when the prince is taken by a dragon, and you can probably guess the outcome – she proves to be more than a lady-in-waiting.

At six years, I admired Jane. At nearly 26 years, I admire the writer for creating Jane. Growing up, I loved the book for its female empowerment, as I was the girl on the playground who would rather play Ninja Turtles than house. Now that I’m grown, I admire the book even more for blurring gender roles.

Yes, there are feminist themes in the book, but there’s also an egalitarianism theme in it as well. The court jester didn’t want to be a hero; he wanted to be a good friend. He tried his hand at being a knight, but realized it wasn’t for him. The story shows that there are macho men and feminine women, and that’s OK, but those aren’t the only options out there.

As for me, well, I became a nice mix of Jane and the jester.

More Than Just a Plain Jane (Eyre) by Lindsay Ray

I should preface this piece by saying I love books. I love stories and their enduring qualities. I was that kid that could read and walk at the same time (nerd alert!). I often found myself admiring and identifying with the heroines. I love Lizzie Bennett’s wit and independent spirit. I admired Jo March for pursuing her own dreams and career goals (even if she did turn down Laurie). I felt like pieces of my life were captured on the page when I read the Anne of Green Gables series and found her to be a “kindred spirit.” But one heroine stands above the rest for not only capturing my emotions but also for challenging my intellect (and informing a vast part of my academic career).

I first read Jane Eyre when I was 12 years old simply because my aunt said I would like it. I have since read JE more times than I can count and own a few different editions (including a nifty illustrated copy). Some people might disregard JE because they think it’s stodgy and outdated, but this isn’t your grandma’s Victorian novel. In fact, Victorian society was shocked by its sexuality, coarseness and deviation from female societal norms.

JE is like the gateway drug into the Brontës’ world. It’s a Bildungsroman (yes, I just threw a fancy literary term at you; knowing it will make you seem smarter) of a young girl who escapes the neglect of her family to forge her own path as a governess. And although being a governess doesn’t seem like a glamorous position (and by no mean is Jane herself a glamorous narrator), Jane does everything on her own terms. But what makes this novel stand out as more than a sentimental coming-of-age tale is the nuances to the text. Double standards within Victorian society are subtly put on display. Inner beauty and independence are championed over conventional society standards. The link between madness and women (a common thread throughout literature) also acts out its dramatic theme on this stage. The roles women play as wives, mothers and sisters are explored and weighed against patriarchal oppression. What ties the novel together is what critic Sandra Gilbert calls “its rebellious feminism.” In other words, Jane dares to choose her own destiny.

Choosing to go beyond your social destiny might not seem like as radical an idea for women now as it did in the 1840s, but JE laid the foundation for so many great novels to come. Furthermore, JE is an integral part of the Brontë mythos itself. Charlotte Brontë first published under the androgynous pseudonym, Currer Bell. She and her sisters dared to enter what was traditionally considered a man’s realm by publishing novels about strong female characters written by women. These novels have spawned numerous film adaptations, and there’s even a Jane Eyre musical. The lives of the Brontës themselves have been both studied and fictionalized. Jane Eyre has given birth to more modern interpretations, such as Rebecca and Wide Sargasso Sea, which explores the social tropes of the times from the viewpoint of another female character of the novel. Perhaps one of my favorites, Jasper Fforde’s literary whirlwind of wit The Eyre Affair, re-imagines JE with a very different ending and the effect that would have on readers.

In short, Dear Reader, I love Jane Eyre because it is more than just Victorian Gothic romance novel (although you can read it as such if you want), instead its message has resonated across time and genre. I love JE because I can find myself in Jane, that plain Jane everywoman struggling to define her sense of self in a world that has already labeled her.

Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler shows what feminism in the future looks like

by Sam Howard

Before I begin pushing this book on you, allow me to push all of Octavia Butler’s work on you. Try this on for size: Octavia Butler is one of the only internationally acclaimed science fiction writers who was an African American female, and her works have markedly feminist themes across. Compare that to your average science fiction writer.

But as far as Parable of the Sower goes, hold onto your hats ladies and gents, we’re going into a bit of a time warp. Or something. This book takes place in America in the 2020s, and all of the problems our society faces today are wildly exacerbated by time and lack of acknowledge. And in the middle of it all sits our young heroine, Lauren. Faced with extreme societal issues most could not imagine taking place on American soil, Lauren also deals with her race, her very religious family, drugged criminals who start rampant fires, and an illness called hyperempathy syndrome. This syndrome causes her to feel all of the pain that she sees in animals and humans. In this dangerous time while the fabric of her world falls apart around her, she must feel all of the pain that she sees.

Let me read your mind. You’re thinking, How is a girl who feels too much feminist? Emotions/feelings are stereotypically feminine traits. Well, it seems that Butler might be implying that you might need to feel the pain to start a revolution. And Lauren’s way of starting a revolution? Forgoing the religion she grew up with and beginning her own.

Sure there’s a lot going on here, but it all comes across cleanly in an almost-postapolcalytic America Butler presents her readers with a lot of uncomfortable situations without passing judgement herself. The characters will pass varying judgements, but Butler seems to leave herself out of it: leaving the reader to evaluate your opinions of relationship dynamics, gender bending, religion, and your own ideas of gender/social justice.

Review of Middlesex, by Ivy Ashe

Nobody tells a multi-generational saga quite like the Greeks, and Middlesex, Jeffrey Eugenides’ Pulitzer-Prize-winning story of a young Greek-American hermaphrodite, merits a place alongside the Hellenic classics.

This is a book that makes you think, and, in the mark of a truly good read, you might not even realize you’re thinking until after you finally turn the last page and have to say goodbye to Calliope/Callie/Cal, the narrator and protagonist (Calliope, for those Greek nerds among us, was also the Muse of heroic poetry). Or you might be like me, and have to stop reading every couple chapters to process everything that’s going on (John Irving’s books also tend to have this effect). Middlesex is an ode to everything that is normally overlooked, pushed aside, and denied a voice—even the historical events Eugenides seamlessly weaves into his narrative are not standard 20th-century milestones. Incorporating all of these new voices into the chorus in your head is like going to a buffet, trying only things you’ve never eaten, and discovering you love them all.

In spite of the unconventionality of his novel’s subject matter, Eugenides doesn’t break any of “the rules” in Middlesex; instead, he simply and subtly challenges how those rules came about in the first place, particularly rules governing identity. Particularly of note, as many other reviewers before me have observed, is how well Eugenides is able to write his characters, particularly the female ones (Publishers Weekly describes the book as “effortlessly transcending the stereotypes of gender,” which is about as apt a description as I can think of). Much of the novel’s strengths draw from this power of voice.

There are some blips in the otherwise compelling storyline—I didn’t care much for Cal’s time spent in San Francisco—but they are minor, and certainly not enough to ruin the overall appeal of the book. Definitely give it a read.

So much more than marriage: Review of Marriage, a History by Tara Cavanaugh

You may have noticed that I’ve written about this book already; it was the first post that christened this site. But I’m including it again here, as one of the books I think all women ought to read, because it is that good.

It doesn’t intend to be a book that offers women any particular help or guidance. Its premise is a purely academic one: to understand the true history of marriage and how it has evolved in American and Western European culture.
But don’t let that academic speak scare you off: This book is an easy, fun read, and it’s totally relevant to all women today.

Today we look at marriage as the ultimate form of love and self-fulfillment. We are supposed to find a partner who satisfies our every emotional, physical, and social need. We are supposed to find someone who we can love for the rest of our lives. It’s a tall order.

Coontz describes how this view has really only been around for about fifty years. She also says it’s a radical shift in how marriage has worked for hundreds of years. Marriage never used to be about love or personal fulfillment. It was more about merging resources, and strengthening your connection with a community.

So while our emphasis on love can make marriage more fulfilling than ever before, it can also make it incredibly volatile, and it’s probably the reason for our high divorce rate.

I’ve never really been a fan of reading about history. But this book is fascinating, honest, and hilarious (you won’t believe some of the stuff husbands and wives did back then). While it is in no way a self-help book, it made me feel a lot less anxious about ever getting married—for a while, I said I never would. I now realize that the one I love doesn’t have to be everything to me—and there’s no reason I should expect anyone to be.

Feminism or BUST! by Tara Cavanaugh

Remember Clippy? He was the little paper clip cartoon that greeted you every time you started a Microsoft Word document. He was a chipper, nosy little sonofabitch that offered unsolicited advice on everything you were doing. He never seemed to run out of acrobatic tricks—or the energy to annoy.

I bring up Clippy because most women’s magazines remind me of him. Really. Magazines cultivate a voice, a personality, and they run that tone through all of their content. The voice of popular women’s magazines is that of a trusted friend who knows everything about beauty and fashion. And the friendly guides to which nail color you MUST wear NOW and How to Please Your Man get as repetitive and false as Clippy. Because after all, Clippy is just a computer program. And most magazines survive largely off of advertising sales, so the “voice of a trusted friend” telling you what nail color you NEED to get this season was very likely a paid advertisement. That voice is as calculated as a computer program, but with some flips and visual tricks for creative delivery: pretty designs, font, and models.

But BUST magazine isn’t a singular voice. BUST presents many women’s voices, talking rationally, comically, and quizzically about everything from fashion to motherhood to sex.

Fashion-wise, BUST explores the creative ways women play with personal style. For example, women’s fashion magazines always dedicate their September issue to previewing what styles are must-buys for fall, with skeletal models clad in thousand-dollar designer labels. BUST, on the other hand, showed popular fashion bloggers modeling their favorite choices for fall: real young women modeling their creative visions.

The magazine also has some regular features on news commentary related to women, a hilarious column from a mother of two, and crafty advice (make your own pillows/sunglasses/gifts/etc.).

Beyond these regulars, the magazine dedicates longer articles to stories about women’s experiences. The most recent issue had stories about a woman who was faced with some serious sexism when she taught English in Thailand and another woman’s account of being on a reality TV show.

This is also a great magazine to pick up if you’re into books, music and movies. BUST dedicates some serious space on a regular basis to up and coming artists, actresses and writers who are strong, thoughtful women with a feminist bent.

And it’s probably the best thing that will grace your eyes with glossy pages.

–By Tara Cavanaugh

Is the Daily Show sexist? Don’t believe (all) the hype.

Jon Stewart is on my TV a lot. Photo by Erin K. O'Neill.

“Men hire men,” my dad said to me when I was home for Independence Day.  “And women hire women. That’s just the way it is.”

Whether my dad was strictly accurate (or not) misses the point.  The gross generalization—that hiring for jobs is largely based on gender—is the center of the brouhaha surrounding the blogosphere and the “Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” America’s premiere source for fake news.

I fucking love the Daily Show.

I’ve been watching the “Daily Show” since Craig Kilborn was the host, and he left the show in 1998. I plan my life around watching the “Daily Show” four nights a week—because if I miss the 10 p.m. airing I catch the rerun at 12:30 a.m., 9 a.m., 1 p.m., or 6 p.m. the next day. My biographers, should I ever have any, will probably point the influence of the “Daily Show “in my chosen career of pursuing real news (hint hint, biographers).

Thus, when the feminist blog Jezebel decided to make a very thorough, if flawed, critique of the “Daily Show’s” dearth of female on-air “correspondents,” I was devastated. Or, to put it in the 140 characters or less I wrote on Twitter: “This is the most upsetting news EVER!!! EVER EVER!!!” (sic).

It’s the fake news apocalypse. Or, as Jon Stewart himself might say, it’s a catastrafuck.

Because I was just a little worried that it was true.

Irin Carmon, who writes for Jezebel, went to great lengths, and through a lot of anonymous sources, to make the point that institutionalized sexism, or discrimination based on gender that is a result of adherence to existing social norms and organizational rules and not active prejudice, is alive and well at the “Daily Show.”

Jezebel’s article quotes the show co-creator and former executive producer, Madeleine Smithberg, as saying that she doesn’t think the show is sexist, and blames “larger societal forces” (Jezebel’s words) for the gender disparity.

And, in some ways, the numbers don’t lie: of the 50 “correspondents” the “Daily Show” has featured over the years, only 11 have been women.

Like my dad said: “Men hire men.”

A friend of mine, who shall remain nameless because I’m still angry with him for even suggesting it, said that maybe women just aren’t as funny as men. Since the “Daily Show” is predicated on humor, it would make sense that more men make it on-air. He sent me an article by Christopher Hitchens from “Vanity Fair” called “Why Women Aren’t Funny.” Apparently, a side effect of the ability to grow tiny humans kills any ability to be funny.

“For women, reproduction is, if not the only thing, certainly the main thing,” Hitchens wrote. “Apart from giving them a very different attitude to filth and embarrassment, it also imbues them with the kind of seriousness and solemnity at which men can only goggle.”

Excuse me?

Well, it was all just fuel for the fire. I was furious—not only at my friend for sending me such an odious article, but at my own blindness. How could I have been such a fan of the “Daily Show” and not seen what was right in front of me? Were smashingly good and hilarious critiques of Fox News really enough to justify overlooking such discrimination? Was I condoning the male-dominated media landscape by default because I had not even realized that all of my fake news idols were men?

I thought about it. A lot.

And then the backlash in the media started. Jon Stewart himself mentioned on-air that “Jezebel thinks I’m a sexist prick,” and Slate’s Emily Gould accused Jezebel of using accusations of sexism and the female predisposition to petty jealousy to boost page views. The New York Times wrote a piece on Jezebel’s willingness to take a “media heavyweight . . .  . to task.”

I found the open letter to “People Who Don’t Work Here,” written by the female staffers of the “Daily Show,” to be most enlightening. “The ‘Daily Show’ isn’t a place where women quietly suffer on the sidelines as barely tolerated tokens,” the letter said. “On the contrary: just like the men here, we’re indispensable. We generate a significant portion of the show’s creative content and the fact is, it wouldn’t be the show that you love without us.”

I would rather take their word for it than anyone else’s.

I am, in the end, conflicted. I think that the “Daily Show” could have saved itself a lot of agony if it had not refused to comment for Irin Carmon’s article.  I think Jezebel did a huge amount of reporting, but instead of deferring to a journalist’s obligation to the truth, they decided they had a bone to pick (Jezebel may be a media organization, but it’s a blog of opinion writing with a feminist slant, which can lead to a lack of fairness).

This may have all been blown way out of proportion. Welcome to media in the twenty-first century.

Do I wish that the “Daily Show” would represent more females on-air? Absolutely.  Do I think that the conspicuous lack of women on the show is a result of deliberate and insidious sexism? Not at all.  I will still be watching.

Also: Olivia Munn, meet me at camera three.

Honey, you need to talk to wardrobe. The blue button down shirt you wore on the air July 1, 2010 was too small.  The buttons should not pull like that. There’s no shame in going up a size. That’s what tailors are for—they can fix that problem. No one will ever know!

~By Erin K. O’Neill

A Few Good Men

We’ve come to accept the immature, directionless, tactless male character as a staple of sitcoms and movies. On the screen, it’s usually only after the right (successful and attractive) woman comes along that he finds a reason to spend his days on a purpose greater than pot, porn, or Grand Theft Auto.

And while this stereotype holds some truth (as any woman who has ever dated a college-age male will attest), it’s not fair to blanket all guys as uninspired losers—a truth that directors and scriptwriters sometimes acknowledge. Here are a few of our favorite male characters that do justice to some of the strong and sweet guys out there.

Atticus Finch, To Kill A Mockingbird, by Lindsay Ray

Atticus Finch is like a gentle giant of morality. He’s the dad that everyone wants. What makes the movie version of Atticus so special is the quiet presence of Gregory Peck. He gives the character gentility and a stoic gravitas. Finch’s commitment to doing what is right is the foundation of the movie. Who can forget the scene where Atticus takes a gun, removes his glasses and shoots a rabid dog in the street? Atticus does what needs to be done but not by losing his sense of self and his compassion.

John Clasky, Spanglish, by Tara Cavanaugh

Adam Sandler is great at playing losers. Which is why I was shocked at how well he played John Clasky, a father and chef in Spanglish. Clasky is the emotional support for his family, especially for the preteen daughter who has a rocky relationship with her cold, hyper-type-A mother played by Tea Leoni. Leoni’s character, Deb, actually has rocky relationships with most of the characters, as she pushes her impossible standards for success on all of the loved ones in her life. But not Clasky. He works not for success, but stability. He’s shown gently helping his daughter through her academic struggles, wrangling with too much acclaim as a chef, trying to coach Deb away from a nervous breakdown, and trying to stop himself from falling for the kind housekeeper/nanny Flor (played by the gorgeous Paz Vega).

Clasky doesn’t want fame and fortune; he just wants to do his job well and take care of his family. And not even a genuine, tender and reciprocated affection for Flor, or a cheating Deb, distracts him from that dedication.

Kenneth Parcell (the Page), “30 Rock,” by Lindsay Patton

The worst thing Kenneth Parcell has done in his life – or at least in the past four seasons “30 Rock” – is steal cable. Out of every neurotic, self-obsessed, power-hungry and downright insane character residing in 30 Rockefeller, Parcell represents the voice of reason. A Southern gentleman at heart, he loves his mama, eats his sack lunch at his page desk, says his two favorite things are “everybody and television”, and finishes every sentence with a polite “sir” or “ma’am.”

Han Solo, Star Wars series, by Ivy Ashe

Let’s make one thing absolutely clear: Han Solo is a scoundrel. He says as much to Leia in The Empire Strikes Back. This is a guy who makes a living smuggling goods for a crime lord, subscribes to the ‘shoot or be shot’ way of life, takes crap from no one, and cares about the ins and outs of his own life, not the larger issue of war*. Unlike that farm kid Luke, he’s not innocent or naïve in any sense. He’s been around.

People remember the scoundrel line because it goes along with everything we think we know about Han Solo. But he then claims to be a nice man, which tends to get forgotten in the wake of both the absurdity of the statement (smooth-talking badass Han Solo a mere “nice man”? Madness) and the kiss that comes afterwards. We brush it off as more of Han’s excellent banter. Solo, you crazy joker, you.

The thing is, Han Solo really is a nice guy. In fact, he’s nice to the point where he’d be a pretty boring straight-arrow if not for all of the Millennium Falcon/smuggling/bounty-on-his-head business (admittedly, that all goes a long way to undoing the boring factor). When we first meet him, he’s not racing around hyperspace or blasting space creatures. He’s trying to pay off a debt. Yawn.

If it weren’t for Han’s sense of honor and responsibility, Luke Skywalker would have died three times over (probably more, but I lose track easily) before he could ever get around to saving the galaxy. Who else but Honorable Han would go out in the middle of an ice storm on an ice planet to rescue his friend? Or calmly surrender to carbonite freezing because he doesn’t want anybody to get hurt while saving him? There would still be a Death Star if it weren’t for Han coming back to do the right thing (so much for not caring about the larger issues). There’d still be a work-in-progress Death Star! The world is much better off without these things in it.

So yes, Han Solo, we know you’re a badass and a scoundrel and that you shot Greedo first. But we’re on to that other side of you, too. It wasn’t just the banter talking.

Derek “McDreamy” Shepherd, Grey’s Anatomy, by Erin O’Neill

Oh, McDreamy. You spawned a legion of Mc(insert euphemism for attractive male here)s. And even if you did cheat on your wife with Meredith Grey, our dark and twisty heroine, at the end of the second season you’re still so wonderful that it almost doesn’t matter. He’s the guy who stays with his wife who cheated on him, (FOR AN ENTIRE SEASON OF AGONY!) because it’s the right thing to do, even if he doesn’t love her anymore.

The beautiful conceit of Grey’s Anatomy, as soapy and trashy as it is, is that the women are competitive, work-focused, and apeshit crazy, whilst the men are perfect dreamboats.

McDreamy is a very excellent brain surgeon, and he’s a very ethical doctor. In the second season, he stays in surgery after a bomb is discovered in a body cavity in the OR next door. In the fourth season, he tries to kill his own clinical trial because the death rate is too high for him to take. He rehires residents who were fired during a merger. He’s just that kind of wonderful.

Even if his personal life—with the love triangle of him and his wife and Meredith in the first few seasons—is a mess, McDreamy is unfailingly honest. OK- maybe it wasn’t so honest in the first season when he doesn’t tell Meredith about his wife, who he left in New York because she cheated on him. BUT: He tells his wife about the adulterous McSex, and admits to Meredith when he looks at other women. He admits it when he makes a bad judgment call. He stands up for Meredith to her peers and her boss.

He’s a good guy. Or, maybe I’m just deluded by all the Dreamy. I really haven’t figured that out yet.