Friday, December 31, 2004
Justice Department comes to the aid of rapists
It must be very frustrating to go to all the trouble of raping and beating a woman only to find out that the doctors at the hospital gave her a pill to keep her from getting pregnant. Luckily, rapists have a new friend in town--our country's Justice Department! Because even rapists should have a shot at fatherhood, I guess.
The U.S. Department of Justice has issued its first-ever medical guidelines for treating sexual-assault victims - without any mention of emergency contraception, the standard precaution against pregnancy after rape.
The omission of the so-called morning-after pill has frustrated and angered victims' advocates and medical professionals who have long worked to improve victims' care.
Gail Burns-Smith, one of several dozen experts who vetted the protocol during its three-year development by Justice's Office on Violence Against Women, said emergency contraception was included in an early draft, and she does not know of anyone who opposed it.
This sort of thing makes me want to put on my stomping boots and kick some ass.
The morning after-pill is not abortion. It prevents pregnancy, but it doesn't stop it.
I realize that it's a deeply offensive fact that pregnancy isn't something that men do to women, but that there are many steps involved and only one involves a man. I cannot tell you how many pious pro-lifers would tell me when I lived on the edges of the Bible Belt that some women "know" they are pregnant in the middle of sex, demonstrating a real loose grip on what exactly goes on inside a woman's body during conception. Now we have a pill that can prevent a pregnancy even though the man has done his part, demonstrating to some of us who didn't know it before that pregnancy isn't a presto-chango thing that men do to passive female bodies.
In order to preserve the illusion that pregnancy is something that men do and just happens to women, there is no measure too great, huh? Lying to people, telling them that the morning-after pill is abortion is necessary to preserve the illusion. Helping rape victims with information about a pill that can give them some much-needed control over their situation rather than subject them to further mental anguish is completely out of the question, I guess.
Angel, Spike, Oz and "Beauty and the Beast"
I lost that Bordo book The Male Body and I just found it so I'm finishing it up. Lots of stuff to chew over. The chapter I'm in right now is about the balancing act expected of men to be both primal brutes and perfect gentlemen and how impossible this is. Of course, as with any impossible standard, there is are tons of fictional examples for people to fantasize about. Bordo comes up with the movie "Beauty and the Beast", and her descriptions of the Beast in the movie, who is bookish and primal at the same time, reminded me of the way that Angel is portrayed on "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" as well as his own show.
The cliched shot of Angel on both programs is him alone in his office or bedroom, reading a book and being startled, usually by Buffy or Cordelia. And he'll usually remember to bookmark his book before he runs off to save the world again. They might has well flashed neon letters on the screen explaining that Angel controls his primal vampireness through erudition. The other cliched shot was Angel practicing martial arts--same message but more skin. Angel resembles the Beast so much that I now suspect that is who the writers modeled the character after.
For some reason, these shots of Angel being erudite on his own time made me bananas, and I could never figure out why. In theory, I support the idea that his soulfulness was portrayed through education and love of reading, and there is textual support for the idea that he picked up martial arts when living in China and trying to learn to overcome his vampire nature. Reading this book, I figured out why--Angel's vampirism was openly equated with his maleness, and by positing that civilization was his mechanism to overcome his inherent aggression, it was implied that inherent maleness is aggressive and that civilization is the process of emasculation.
This was the dominant approach to masculinity on "Buffy". Every major male character was shown to be struggling between some kind of internal, masculinized aggression and an external, feminized civilization. In the character of Xander you did get stories about how male aggression is also a product of civilization, that maybe, just maybe, in a culture that prizes the aggressive male that non-aggressive men might play at being aggressive to fit in. But in the characters of Angel, Spike and Oz, male aggression is shown as an internal thing that needs civilization to control it. Period. The vampire/werewolf is the thing inside, and it is jealous, controlling, aggressive and sexual, and these are the traits that also mark masculinity.
It's a shame, since the writers were great at navigating internal passions and external expectations for women. Buffy's drive to be aggressive, as much as she'd like to chalk it up to her Slayer-ness, was shown repeatedly to be a part of her human nature and part of us all. It was also shown to be culturally influenced--when she saw the respect that her physical power commands in others, it only intensifies her love of it. And her aggression was never coded as being female or male, really, but just the natural result of combining power with human nature.
But when the male characters, especially the three monstrous ones, let their aggression take over, it was usually portrayed as giving into their masculine side. All three of them--Oz, Angel, and Spike, are shown as much sexier and more manly for being aggressive. Most heart-wrenchingly for me, Oz's wolf/man side can't even keep it in his pants, and the sweetest, most tender male character on the show disappoints Willow by cheating on her. I think that's one of the reasons that Spike's attempted rape of Buffy freaked fans out so badly. Monsterness and aggression were linked metaphorically to maleness so repeatedly on the show that when they took Spike's monstrosity out of the world of the supernatural and applied it to a realistic rape scene, it ended up reading as if the urge to rape is a natural, unavoidable result of being male. And that surely wasn't the writers' intentions--the dialogue from the scene makes it clear that they were trying to show the attempted rape as a result of his inherent evilness and their bad relationship, but that reading just couldn't emerge from seasons' worth of linking vampirism to male sexuality and male aggression.
I don't want to leave the impression that I don't like the show or anything. It's my favorite program, and I think that the male characters were written well as a general rule. They did cut a few corners when it came to portraying masculinity, and as a result, there were a few plot and character developments that went sour for it. For instance, for all the talk of how Buffy couldn't manage relationships, all the male characters on the show ended up alone, and usually because their masculinity issues destroyed their relationships.
Friday cat blogging
More nothing to be got
Like the President, I'm a little late on expressing anything about the tsunami disaster. I have been following this in pure horror and I have nothing much to say. Here's a link with places to donate money.
Last night watching the news of the tsunami, my boyfriend idly mentioned that it would probably wash up some landmines. I said I hoped not. Well, he was right. It just goes to show that there's few things bad enough that human wickedness can't make worse, I suppose.
Somehow the men's rights dudes will find a problem with this
End of the year round-up
Kidding. I got nothing for ya'. If I had to list my top ten favorite albums, it would read as 10 albums I got. Yes, Smile is one of them. Ditto with movies--it would just be 10 movies I saw, half of which came out in 2003.
I think we should move the New Year to June. Frankly, there are too many holidays in a row and I hate carrying my coat around with me all night if we go to parties.
Friday Random Ten--Saying Bye to 2004 Edition
Roxanne has the scoop. Here ya' go.
1) "Pink Frost"--The Chills
2) "Mirror Conspiracy"--Thievery Corporation
3) "Sweet Leaf"--Black Sabbath
4) "Send Me a Postcard"--Shocking Blue
5) "Bye Bye Baby"--Ronnie Spector
6) "Pink Eye (On My Leg)"--Ween
7) "Baby Blue Rock"--The Cramps
8) "Why Did You Rob Us Tank"--The Raik's Progress
10) "Gimme Danger"--Iggy and the Stooges
Thursday, December 30, 2004
Education is about learning how to think for yourself
From activistgradgirl, this interesting discussion on abstinence until marriage and condom use. She was set off because of a conservative who argued that teaching condom use instead of abstinence until marriage was pretty much telling kids that they could never have children since sex requires condoms and not trust. Or something like that. It's typical either/or conservative thought. Which is to say that since they are offering a one size fits all solution to people--no sex until marriage and no birth control ever--then somehow that means that liberals are.
I thought about cars and racing, as I am likely to do since I am surrounded by gearheads and racing fanatics.
I drove to the grocery store today to buy fish and vegetables because we had guests over for dinner. I got in the pick-up truck, adjusted my seat and buckled my seatbelt. I did not put on a helmet. My truck is not equipped with a rollbar. I am not in the demolition derby and I am not a racer, so I only use a middling amount of protection.
If I were racing, I would have a helmet and instead of a regular seatbelt, I would have an entire apparatus to strap me down. I would also be wearing a fire retardant suit so that if my car caught fire I would survive. But I had less risk than racers have, so I used less protection. Because I am educated on different risk levels, I am capable of making value judgements about the risk I am taking and act accordingly. If I am driving normally, I use a seatbelt. If I am having monogamous sex with my boyfriend, I use birth control but not a condom. If I am racing, I use a helmet. If I am having non-monogamous sex, I use a condom.
When you educate people, you arm them with not just prescriptions for behavior, but with critical thinking skills to make judgements on their own. There is always risk; even with a fire retardant suit and a helmet, you can get into a racing accident that will kill you immediately. If you use these things for city driving or even just a seatbelt, you can still get killed. Danger is the price you pay for getting out and engaging in the world, living your life. We make value judgements every minute of every day; we balance the need for safety with the need to live. Yes, my boyfriend could be cheating on me and give me herpes. But I am making a value judgement that I am equipped to make because I have been educated to do so and odds are I'm not going to get herpes.
But if you rob someone of the ability to assess different risk levels, they have no idea what kind of safety mechanisms to employ. You see this when you compare street racing to professional racing. Professional racers, fully educated about what they are doing, cheerfully strap on the helmets and the fire retardant gear. They don't use these things when they are driving in normal traffic, because they know they don't need them. Street racers are under-educated and can't make good judgements. They treat racing like normal driving and don't wear gear. And they get killed. A lot. If they were empowered and educated like professional racers, they would know the difference and save themselves.
I want people to be trained like racers. Know everything and think for themselves. It's the best thing we've got going for us.
More on the only morality that counts
That's sexual morality, of course! Not fucking is the only thing you need to do to get into heaven. Torture, murder, lies are all part of the godly behavior of the Bush administration. But sex is unforgiveable and unbecoming conduct.
The article is by Paul Craig Roberts and it's about how Major General Thomas Fiscus is facing disbarment proceedings for having affairs, but mostly because he had the nerve to oppose torturing prisoners of war.
I'm stealing all of my stuff from Steve Gilliard lately, I know. But he's been hitting upon some feminist issues as of late, and really tearing it up, and this was just too much. Basically, the story is about a woman who posted on The Wedding Channel asking her online friends for advice because her husband beat her up while they were fighting and punched her in the stomach, even though she's pregnant. In fact, as Steve makes clear, the pregnancy is probably the reason why he punched her in the stomach.
To make a sad blog post worse, there's the asshole parade of men in the comments who line up to defend a man who punches a pregnant woman in the stomach.
Yes, punching a pregnant woman in the stomach is despicable, even if she is your wife, but once someone crosses the line into twathood they stay there until they can live alone.
You may say I'm blaming the victim, but we don't know the whole story. She may have been depressed and subconsciously trying to fulfill a death wish. Or maybe he was jealous of the baby, who knows? I didn't see anything about whether of not it was a planned pregnancy..
Ah, nothing like not being the center of your wife's entire being to make a beating all okay. Are wives the only ones who are eligible for beatings because they have interests other than the man administering the beating? Or should men have a right to deck women who decline to flirt with them in bars? Does a man have a right now to kill a woman's children if they distract her from her job of paying attention to him? Should it matter if those children are his? The right to kill your stepchildren but not your own, like animals do?
from personal experience i know how hard it is not to enact fantasies of extreme violence against a woman who uses every trick in the bag to coerce and terrorize you into a relationship you positively do not want.
Saying no and walking away is not an option of course. Your only choice is to beat someone down. Of course, there's no indication that a man who marries a woman, plans a baby with her and then begs for forgiveness because he's afraid she will leave doesn't want the relationship, but what do I know?
below their sweet looks and apparent physical fragility, women can be the meanest and most destructive assholes on earth.
Yep, those pregnant women may look pregnant and nice all sitting there and whatnot, but inside they are brewing away ways to trick men into beating them, along with the baby.
i've represented hundreds of divorce clients and even more criminal defendants accused of domestic battery, and in almost every case, there is one common thread....a failure on the part of the plaintiff/victim to see that the other party is a flawed individual.
That means there's actually always two common threads. The blindness if of the victim and the fact that the defendent is a wife-beater. But discussing the flaws of wife-beaters just isn't as fun, is it?
The most disturbing point of this whole disturbing thread is the fact that he punched her in the stomach. As despicable as wife beating is that punch had nothing to do with "slapping the Mrs around." That punch was a whole different animal all together.
Someone capable of doing that has had to override a whole lot of genetic hardwiring in their brains - I don't buy the "crime of passion" argument with a child. Her main responsibility is to her child. She needs out NOW! Do whatever has to be done but do it NOW.
I don't think I can stand another story of a child being hurt or killed.
Thank god for children, or wife-beating would be perfectly okay, eh?
Take clinton as an example. Here he is the most powerful man in the world, and he sucumbs to a chubby piece of flesh because she flashes a bit of thong. How rational is that?
Well, it makes more sense if you remember that the piece of flesh is called a "woman" and that those woman-things are human beings. Clinton might have been having a human interaction, which yes, is slightly different than reaction to an unconscious object like a piece of flesh like chicken wing or something.
If you are choosing to be substaintially economically dependent on someone else, be it your parents, spouse or credit card companies you're asking for trouble. The reason why she can't leave is because of finances, she sounds completely demoralized.
No woman should get married unless they have an emergency reserve fund already squirreled away. This should be hidden from her spouse.
Phew. Good thing women make more than men so they have the money to do this.
i find it sad to get poo-poo'd because of my experiences and opinion re. the issue at hand, just because they do not conform to some oversimplyfying "politically correct" view of the world where women are always noble victims and men are invariably brutal and egoistic wifebeaters for the hell of it.
How dare we call a woman a victim and a man abusive simply because he abused her! Stupid liberals.
Luckily, there is more than enough common sense going on at the comments section to balance out the paranoid fantasies of these men who think that if a man ever raises his hand to a woman, it's because she tricked him into it to get him.
Be careful not to get too much education
Here's a bone-chilling article about the push from the right, particularly the religious right, to dumb down and censor schools and colleges for fear that education, particularly scientific education, will make you a dreaded liberal. There is truth to this. For instance, it's much harder to be against abortion when you realize that a fetus looks more like a headless lizard than a baby in the early stages. And being educated about evolution makes it pretty hard to believe in the literal Bible, casting doubt on things like, oh, the nearness of the Rapture. Which means that you have to do stuff like care about the enviroment, which is a drag.
Of course, if you mull it over, it's easy to see that it isn't just science that is an obstacle to unquestioning belief that God is a Republican. There are so many facts that could cause doubt and questioning all over the place. For instance, if you learn that Michaelango and Shakespeare had a touch of the gay to them, it becomes difficult to believe that homosexuality is this brand new thing that indicates the imminent fall of the American empire. Learning that many of our Founding Fathers weren't Christian makes the argument for a theocracy a little harder to swing. Learning that throughout most of Christianity's history, some Christians thought that we were in the End of Days might make you question if we really are right now.
Frankly, even knowing how to read is problematic, because then you can read the Bible and discover by accident that it contains many internal contradictions, making it difficult to take it so literally.
I think we can safely say that if the right gets their way on "balancing" science with religious malarkey, they will probably not stop there, as there is far too much education that is threatening.
Wednesday, December 29, 2004
More news in sexist shit from Steve Gilliard.
A female bartender who refused to wear makeup at a Reno, Nevada, casino was not unfairly dismissed from her job, a U.S. federal appeals court ruled Tuesday.
Darlene Jespersen, who had worked for nearly 20 years at a Harrah's Entertainment Inc casino bar in Reno, Nevada, objected to the company's revised policy that required female bartenders, but not men, to wear makeup.
A previously much-praised employee, Jespersen was fired in 2000 after the firm instituted a "Beverage Department Image Transformation" program and she sued, alleging sex discrimination.
In a 2-1 decision, a three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court ruling in favor of Harrah's. All three judges are males appointed by Democratic presidents.
"We have previously held that grooming and appearance standards that apply differently to women and men do not constitute discrimination on the basis of sex," Judge Wallace Tashima wrote for the majority.
He cited the precedent of a 1974 case in which the court ruled that a company can require men to have short hair but allow long hair on women.
Okay, let it be known that I think that anti-beard policies are also sexist claptrap that have no place in dress codes at school or in the workplace. But then again, I think most dress codes are so much bullshit. I've had to deal with potential employers who think I wear too many earrings, even though my seven small silver hoops have nothing on some large, garish earrings that some women wear.
But requiring make-up is pure, unadulterated crap. How do you even write such a policy? What is the requisite amount of make-up? Would it have been fine if she put a little cover-up under her eyes and left it at that? A touch of mascara? Or do you specify eyeliner, lipstick, foundation, powder, mascara, and blush? Unlike shaving a beard, which is a one-size-fits-all requirement, make-up is an individualized art. I wear a little cover-up, powder, a touch of eyeshadow, a touch of mascara and then bright red lipstick. Without the lipstick, you couldn't even tell I was wearing make-up.
Much of the time, wearing make-up is an art of hiding that you are doing so in the first place. I can wear half my make-up cabinet worth of make-up and no one would notice unless I had on lipstick. So what's the proof here? A visible zit doesn't mean that she isn't sporting eyeliner or that her foundation didn't wear down. Some women don't wear a bunch of shit on their eyes because they already have big, round peepers and don't feel they need enhancement. A general requirement cannot be anything but subjective, up to the manager's discretion about how much make-up a woman "needs".
I think more than anything, the idea of "needing" make-up gets on my nerves. I cannot tell you how many men have attempted to flatter me by telling me I don't "need" make-up, implying that there are women who apparently do "need" make-up. For what? Who knows? I always felt like I "needed" as much make-up as the next woman because I flush easily and have occasional zits, so I like to even out my skin tone. But god knows I would never wear blush. Does a pale woman who wear blush "need" make-up more than I do?
The vagueness of the requirement points to its sexism. It's assumed that all women are lacking in some way and that we carefully calculate what our flaws are and "correct" them with make-up. There's no standard other than to say that a woman who rejects this notion that her primary duty is to count out her flaws and "correct" them is lacking in her proper femininity. Shrugging your shoulders and saying, "Well, I don't really think that there's a good reason to wear make-up," isn't being properly ashamed of your inadequate femininity.
And, as a fan of make-up, I have to say these requirements are insulting. Make-up is artful and fun. It shouldn't be treated as a corrective, but as a game, and therefore completely voluntary. I generally don't wear make-up, which means that when I do, it's because it's a special time. And I'd like to keep it that way.
Harassment is different from just being crude
Time and time and time and time again defendents in sexual harassment cases try to play this game where they imply that the victim is just overly sensitive and too babyish to laugh off sexual humor. But jokes are one thing and using jokes to harass people is an entirely different thing. And that's what we're seeing with this suit against "Friends". They are hiding behind their jobs. "Oh we have to be funny at this job, unlike other jobs where good humor is not allowed because of sensitive whiners," seems to be entire defense here.
Of course, the show isn't really that funny and I don't really see how "jokes" like whipping your dick out at a woman have anything to do with writing a lame sitcom. I agree whole-heartedly with Steve Gilliard's assessment here.
A lot of these guys are spoiled children unable to behave professionally in a work setting. In fact, I'd bet that these guys enjoyed tormenting and shocking women. Her lawyer has played his hand well, saving her comments close to trial time. I would bet anything that when Lyle describes how tormented and abused she felt when these nasty white men said all these sexually suggestive things to her, Warners will be quite unhappy.
The suit is alleging not only that people were harassed due to gender discrimination but also to due to racial discrimination. In other words, these whiny white dudes who write this sitcom were offended that they had to allow black people and women to even be around them and they weren't going to take this lying down.
I shouldn't be surprised, of course. Just watching the show, you gather a truckload of information about the writers' opinions on gender relations, and you can fill in the blanks on their opinions on racial diversity by the lack of it on the show. The joke in practically every episode was, "Men and women are so damn different, aren't they? Men are big doofuses who only care about sex and women are giggling morons who only care about men." The baby-obsessed character of Monica alone was the gold standard of offensive sexist stereotypes in TV sitcoms; her obsessions with all things Woman--weddings, babies, cooking (though she couldn't eat, mind you, since she used to be fat)--were so out of control that her character seemed less a human being and more an issue of Redbook come to life. Shitty writing and a shitty show. It's a shame that the actually funny Lisa Kudrow was on it.
Tuesday, December 28, 2004
Submission is attractive?
Alternet has a really good article by Lakshmi Chaudhry about "The Stepford Wives" and the role women play in women's oppression. Chandhry touches on a number of ways that some women conceptualize feminism as an enemy, but there's just one that I'd like to address here.
Claire, once an over-achieving geneticist, yearns for the halcyon days when a woman was not required to choose her own identity nor negotiate the consequences of her choices. Her descent into pathology is sparked by what she sees as the one such consequence of her professional success -- catching Mike and her research assistant in flagrante, so to speak.
I've discussed before how the specter of female infidelity is used to justify all sorts of arguments about restricting female freedom, but I didn't touch on how male infidelity is also used as a reason to justify restricting female freedom. As this article points out, Caitlan Flanagan is particularly good at threatening women with male infidelity to make them behave.
As the resident book critic at The Atlantic Monthly in 2003, Flanagan wrote approvingly of the '50s housewife who "understood that in addition to ironing her husband's shirts and cooking the Sunday roast, she was -- with some regularity -- going to have relations with the man of the house."... This is the "rare woman -- the good wife, and the happy one -- ... who maintains her husband's sexual interest and who returns it in full measure," mostly by virtue of "orderly and successful housekeeping."
I've seen variations on the theme elsewhere, including anxiety about women's lib expressed by women who are afraid that if their husbands have more women as professional acquaintances, then they are more likely to cheat. But generally you'll see something more like Flanagan implying if not stating outright--men can't get it up for women who think and do for themselves and so are downright forced to cheat for any sexual relief. (Flanagan also assumes that women, being a bit feeble, cannot swing having a job and a sex life like men can do.)
I find it intriguing that this stereotype live side by side with the stereotype of the sexy over-achiever. After all, Michael Douglas cheated on his good domestic wife in "Fatal Attraction" with a hot hot hot if unbent career woman. In that movie, career women are potrayed as whorish and crazy, sure, but they are still sexy.
In fact, a lot of people I know complain that the weak spot in the original movie "The Stepford Wives" is the implication that men would find these insipid, robotic creatures attractive at all, even though they are programmed to swoon and carry on like porn stars when they hit the sheets. In fact, it seemed to me that the only reason that men might be more likely to fear cheating from a woman who is powerful at work is because it's widely assumed that powerful people have more sexual allure.
It seems to me to be a very weak to threaten women with male infidelity to keep them from pursuing equality. Not only does it require breaking down the stereotype that domestication is anything but sexy, but it also requires women to hang up the common sense notion that a man whose wife isn't dependent on him has more reasons to be faithful, lest he be walked out on. Of course, the threat still gets play as does anything that both bashes feminism and is titillating, but the stupidity of it does grate on my nerves.
Damn, I thought I'd be Jayne Mansfield
My blog is officially not a political blog
As a public service, I give you Astarte's great post on the other reasons that female political bloggers are invisible.
I'm doing my part, of course, by blogging about non-political stuff like Tit Hill and vaccum cleaners.
Tip for my fellow cat-owners
I do not know how I went so long without one, but I got a bagless vaccum for Christmas and I am in awe. It pulled up so much hair, you wouldn't even know that I have cats. Well between that and the fact they are still pouting under the bed about me even daring to run the noisy thing.
As a bonus, there is a steam gun in there, which has completely ridded the carpet of the faint stains where Katy has puked up hairballs. Plus, since it's a gun, you get to act all Dirty Harry on the carpet stains.
I'm just sayin'.
How men feel about the ol' ball and chain
Surprisingly positive, according to MSN, though that might have something to do with the fact that they called it "marriage" instead of "the ol' ball and chain". One thing is for certain--men should be alarmed about putting marriage off to later and later ages, because if they wait too long, they will end up spinsters. Or not.
There are many reasons for this, not the least of which is the fact that more people choose to marry after they finish school and establish themselves professionally. In previous decades, marriage was something you did concurrent with these activities. And let’s not underestimate the loosening of social mores that used to require marriage before sex and cohabitation. Now it’s acceptable to try on relationships and living arrangements without the necessity of wedlock.
Selfish men who spend their youth pursuing their careers instead of marriage only to find themselves lonely at 40 with their biological clocks ticking away. These men need to dial it down a little and focus on snagging a woman before it's too late.
Unmarried men who were raised in intact families (54%) and men who regularly attend religious services (55%) are more likely to be ready to wed than other men.
Of the men whose religions teach that wives are spiritually obliged to be obedient, the percentage of men who want to be married and now was probably much higher. Unfortunately, they didn't ask that question.
Finding the right person will motivate 54% of men to marry.
The other 46% expressed some willingness to marry just anyone, I guess.
The study also found that men who have cohabitated once are more likely to believe that their most important personal goal is marriage.
Alas, their girlfriends just don't see the point of buying the cow when they can get the milk for free.
Who’s Holding Off?
Of the single men surveyed, 74% say they wanted to be free to have fun at this stage in their lives.
Once you get married, you are legally obliged not to have fun anymore. You vow to love, honor, and be a big stick in the mud 'til death do you part.
Fun Fact: The ability to play the field was only a factor for 36% of men polled.
It's true. Playing the field isn't as fun once you're married.
Some 22% of single guys surveyed admitted that while they had no problem with the idea of marriage for some people, it wasn’t something they’d do. These guys feel their biggest concern after marriage would be their loss of personal freedom.
They're just confused. This is the 22% that thinks if someone in a black robe says official-sounding things in your direction, you're going to jail.
So, gals, when you’re out there looking for Mr. Right, keep these statistics in mind. They might help you make better decisions about the men you attract – and the men you avoid.
Wear black robes on your first dates and the ones who make a break for it are not the marrying type.
West Texas photo essay
Monday, December 27, 2004
More than a mouthful?
Back to the feminist stuff, as my grandmother would say. I was reading the always thought-provoking Susan Bordo again the other day when I came across her describing the joke about women's breasts, "More than a mouthful is a waste," as sexist and I have to admit, I was surprised. Crude? Yes. Sexist? Well, I never thought of it that way before.
I remember the first time I heard this joke in high school when I was still in the process of lamenting what was quickly becoming obvious--I was taking after my mother and I could hope to fill a B-cup at best when I was older. Coming out of the excessive 80s, it was still assumed when I was in high school in the early 90s that having big breasts was an absolutely necessity for being attractive to men, and I was naturally concerned. Expressing this concern over lunch, one of my girl friends quipped to me that more that more than a mouthful was a waste. We immediately died laughing, and I felt empowered by my friend's confidence in herself and in me.
Explaining jokes takes from the humor, but in this case I think it's important for understanding why the joke doesn't offend me. The joke works by pointing out that the size of breasts are irrelevant for the mechanics of sex, or of breast-feeding for that matter. A boob is a boob is a boob, and the size of said boob doesn't change its function either to the person who owns it or the person that is touching it for whatever reason. I also tend to think it evokes sex-as-intimacy instead of sex-as-conquest, because it's something that's done tenderly and for a woman's pleasure as much as a man's. It's telling to me that while in porn there is no end in sight of surgically enhanced breasts, you rarely see men even put a hand on a breast, much less a mouth. It's no coincidence, either, that breast implants detract from a breast's sensitivity.
The question that bothers me, then, is: Are all sexualized descriptions of women's (or men's) bodies sexist by definition? Is crudeness the same as sexism? Is objectification always sexist? If women feel empowered by objectification the subverts the normalized beauty standards, is that false empowerment?
I'm reminded of the song "Baby Got Back", which charted in no small part because women were enthusiastic about it at well. The song has resonance because it's a big, fat raspberry to the beauty standard of the flat-assed white girl that is not only sexist and racist, but also has little to do with even appealing to men's sexual desires. The white flat-assed beauty standard exists only to terrorize women. Of course, the good humor of the song makes it much more accessible, as is the way that Sir Mix-A-Lot allies himself with put-upon women by making it clear that he feels put upon by pressure to pretend that he is attracted to the "right" women, when he is just not.
I'm not saying that either of these examples are feminist rebellion or anything. In the end, women are still being objectified in a way that men are exempted from. So in that sense, jokes and songs like these are sexist, but more because of the unspoken assumption that men are not to be objectified in this way. (Can you imagine a joke about more than a pussy-ful is a waste? Well, I can but you know what I mean.) But I wouldn't go so far as to put these things in the same category as truly offensive sexist clap-trap like fashion magazines or breast implants, since the point of the joke and of the song is to straightforwardly express that women's bodies are fine the way they are and to rebel against oppressive beauty standards that mean to suck the joy out of sexual interaction and fill it with money-making insecurities.
Back from Christmas
Well, West Texas was, as usual, so dry I lost 3 pounds water weight just getting out of the car. It was also startlingly cold, getting below 20 the first night we were there, leaving a thin layer of frost on everything but no snow, of course. I haven't been to Monahans since we went to football games in high school (yes, following your team from town to town is considered perfectly normal behavior in West Texas), and it is roughly how I remembered it. Quiet, ugly, and smells like sulfur. Surprisingly, the tap water was fine to drink, unlike the tap water in Midland/Odessa, which tastes like the air smells. Every little town we drove through, my boyfriend, who is from East Texas, asked what the local industry was. And every time I had the same answer, "Oh, most everyone here works in oil, most as roughnecks. And there's always a few that cling to cattle ranching." For meat-eaters in my audience, please think to buy organic or ranch-raised beef when you purchase beef, since that money often goes into the desperately poor communities I grew up around.
My mother's neighborhood was amazing. Since their last house caught fire, they had to move and boy did we get to see what you can get on the dollar in West Texas. Suffice it to say, the house they bought was more than four times the size of mine for less that twice the money. I nearly fainted when I walked in the door. I completely forgot how people with middle class incomes can live like kings in West Texas. Mostly, I was happy to see how happy my mother is, and that mattered more than anything else to me. You can tell more about a loved one's state in looking at him/her for 5 seconds than you can off an hour phone call, and my mother was glowing.
Conversation was completely pleasant. Conservative politics stayed in the corner of the room generally, and while you couldn't hear the actual words coming from the self-satisfied middle-aged men, you could tell from the harrumphing tone of voice that was what they were discussing. Topics of conversations I had were everything from addiction to Ebay and thrift shopping to love of torch singers and what a shame it is there just doesn't seem to be anyone out there who's up to the standards of Nina Simone. My grandmother did tell me that while she doesn't understand why I'm a liberal, she looks forward to reading the feminist stuff on my website because she agrees with a lot of feminist stuff. I just smiled and thanked her.
My boyfriend and I did sit at the kid's table, but that was fair because they doled it out according to age as I expect it should be done. As it was, I ended up being the head of the kid's table, being the oldest grandchild. It was hardly a kid's table, anyway, as there was only one real child sitting there, and everyone else was in their late teens and up. The one child, by the way, got completely spoiled due to her status as the only believer in Santa Claus that was present. Eating Santa's cookies and leaving a note was a project that involved no less than 10 people.
My mother still writes, "From Santa" on many of my gifts and this year Santa gave gifts to both myself and my boyfriend. You know you are a grown-up when you squeal and jump around because Santa gave you a bagless vaccum cleaner. I did get deeply involved in playing dolls with my cousin who has something called Bratz instead of Barbie. I have to admit, I was a little jealous. Bratz have some nice clothes. My Barbies looked like the cast of "Dynasty". Bratz also don't have a kitchen in their van--they have an expresso machine, hot tub, martini bar, and a dance floor. Bratz don't have beds, because I guess they party all night.
Yes, we played one ton of board games.
Friday, December 24, 2004
Friday Christmas bonus cat blogging
Mouse Words Holiday Guide
From someone whose family is loud-mouthed and mostly voted for Bush, so I know of which I speak.
- If staying overnight at someone's house, bring your own blankets. No two people have the same taste in blankets and using someone else's overnight will make it hard to sleep.
- Board games are the perfect way to funnel out all that family aggression into healthy competition. But you have to be selective about which games. I like Trivial Pursuit, since I am a trivia nerd. But this is precisely why everyone else hates it. This year I am bringing the 20th anniversay edition, which only has questions from the last 20 years, so everyone can feel like an insufferable know-it-all.
- Know who your allies are--people you know who will rescue from mindless hours of football, etc. Make sure to subtly align yourself with your allies early on by taking their side when the rest of the family teases them.
- Have a buddy, like they do in AA, to keep you from falling off the political bandwagon and engaging in debates with relatives. Mine is my sister. Our politics are not like each others, but nor are they like anyone else's in the family. We've got each other's back in the subject-changing department.
- For vegetarians who get teased about this, there are a number of strategies to deflect criticism and change the subject. You have to feel this one out. Regardless of the strategy, a somewhat apologetic tone is required, like implying that vegetarianism is nothing more than a fad diet like the Atkins diet, so your relative can wonder if you're feeble-minded or a genius, giving you time to escape. Under no circumstances do you cite opposition to animal cruelty, especially to middle-aged Texas football fans. Basically, avoid the high-minded reasons and pretend you are just eccentric.
- When grilled about why in the hell you voted for John Kerry, there's a slightly different tactic to use. Conservatives cannot argue with the doctrine of Self-Interest, so come up with a very specific, albeit very important, reason you had to vote for Kerry that is self-interested. Think of it ahead of time, deliver your reason in a shucks-that's-how-it-is tone, and most importantly, never waver, even in the wording. Use the Shrub's tactics. Since it got their votes it should win your peace. Young men merely have to say that they are afraid of the draft. They'll try to argue with you, so channel the Shrub and meet every argument with, "Yeah, but I don't want to be drafted," regardless of what they said. There are plenty. "I want an FHA loan to buy a house." "I work for the government." "I drive too far for gas prices to go up." It doesn't have to make sense as long as you're consistent. My story is that I work in financial aid and if they cut all federal financial aid to college students, I won't have a job. End of story.
- However, if they are especially persistent, whip out Shrubian tactic #2--the non sequiter that shames the questioner. I plan to answer all persistent inquiries with, "Well, I just trust somehow who actually fought in Vietnam." Rinse and repeat until they give up, because the only thing they can say to that is they trust someone who didn't fight better.
- Don't ever volunteer to mash the potatoes. In fact, if you're not drafted to cook, a dishtowel is your best bet. Young men especially are good candidates for volunteering for dish duty. In most families, you will be crowned Hero of the Year for pitching in when the older men retreat to watch TV.
- Admittance to the grown-up table should be doled out by age, and not marital status, whether someone has had children or by sex. Too bad my ruling has no authority behind it. Granted, I'm biased because I'm the oldest grandchild, but still. If I'm ever told again to sacrifice my spot at the grown-up table to someone younger simply because that person has had children and I haven't, I will point out that if I wanted to hang out with a bunch of kids, I would have had them.
- Eat some dessert. Don't be a spoilsport. Unless of course, you have some sort of medical condition. A diet doesn't count.
Well, these are my rules, and I hope they amused you or gave you some ideas for surviving your own Christmas with relatives!
Friday random ten--Songs for the road trip edition
1) Crack your neck 2) Check out Rox Populi to make sure you aren't jumping the gun 3) Come up with name for this week's edition.
1) "Ever Fallen In Love"--Buzzcocks
2) "Boy About Town"--The Jam (God, MP3 players love The Jam. I don't have but like 25 songs by them in my MP3s, but there you go.)
3) "Killed By Death"--Motorhead
4) "Try It"--The Standells
5) "Love Itself"--Leonard Cohen
6) "I Got a Right"--Iggy Pop
7) "Straight Edge"--Minor Threat
8) "Come Where the Flavor Is"--The Dwarves
9) "All Cats Are Grey"--The Cure
10) "The Shoop Shoop Song"--Betty Everett
Thursday, December 23, 2004
Songs in cars, mostly
I feel rotten about not getting in on the Life CD swap. I was really busy right then, and am really, really bored right now. Plus, I wasn't too sure of myself for coming up with songs that would define my "life" in anything remotely like a chronological order. But I am making another mix CD for my road trip tomorrow, and since much of my musical loves were developed spending way too much time behind the wheel, here's a songs for cars and other traveling. I may actually bother to make it one day.
The song to go to when you are on a journey home that needs to be romanticized a bit.
Bikini Kill--"Rebel Girl"
One of the best songs evah. Made me realize that it was perfectly feminist to be a snot-nosed brat. Good for waking up to.
The Breeders--"Driving on 9"
Out in West Texas, you spend a lot of time on the road. To El Paso and back to Alpine. And then from Austin to either Alpine to El Paso and back again. This song made the whole thing seem romantic and made me feel like one day I would be driving somewhere, instead of just in a loop.
Gladys Knight--"Midnight Train to Georgia"
This song broke my heart--the pain of impossible decisions. Many songs that touch me are ones that came over my radio at late hours when I was alone.
Patsy Cline--"Walking After Midnight"
Put the word "midnight" in it and I'm yours. I used to spend a lot of time really late walking around pondering...stuff. Sometimes love, but sometimes the mysteries of the universe.
The Ramones--"The KKK Took My Baby Away"
I could put all sorts of Ramones tunes on here, but this one always makes me think of a long distance drive I took with my dad, where we were switching back and forth, his music and my music. I put in the Ramones on my turn and this song came on and my dad, who'd never heard it, just died laughing. And then he said he really liked it, which was nice. I like it, too.
The first time I really listened to the lyrics was in the car. It pulled a tear from me. I have an odd relationship to the very concept of slumming, and he really draws the anger that it can cause out here.
Beastie Boys--"So What'cha Want"
Check Your Head and Ill Communication are basically the bookends of my high school years. My senior year, I made a tape with one on Side A and the other on Side B. We listened to it until our ears bled. Mostly sitting in my crappy pick-up truck, of course.
Sleater Kinney--"Banned From the End of the World"
I got The Hot Rock as a gift and I just threw it in the c.d. player to listen to as I drove around. This song impressed me so much I had trouble concentrating on the road.
Friend's birthday. I'm sober, she's drunk. We're driving from a karaoke bar to downtown Austin. We're almost there but she starts begging to pull over to pee. I give in and she hides behind a bush to pee. She gets back in the car, and we listen to this song, singing along loudly all the way downtown. She'd never heard this cover before, but well, it's a pretty famous song and everyone knows all the words.
My boyfriend and I were driving to see David Cross downtown. This song comes on a mix he just made and it sounds so good. We just start laughing and singing along at the top of our lungs. By the time we get to the show, we are in way too good a mood.
I have recently made a friend and we go out together by ourselves downtown. We have fun, but decide to go home early. On the way back, I throw in Are We Not Men and she's all excited to find another hardcore Devo fan. We sing along, rocking out and by the time I drop her off, I think we realized that we were gonna be good friends.
Astrud Gilberto--"Who Needs Forever"
I'm in college, I don't really don't want to go to my house or to that of any friends. I drive around a little. The DJ on the college station puts this song on. I cry some, suck it up and go home. I adore this song.
The Kinks--"You Really Got Me"
Thought I would wind up with the best song in the world for getting everyone in the car all amped up. Good for putting on shortly before you reach your destination.
Going home to a place I've never lived
It's hard as hell to explain my Christmas plans to people. If I aim for accuracy, then the conversation goes like this:
"What are you doing for Christmas?"
"Me? Oh, I'm going to Monahans to visit my mom and my family. It's right outside of Midland."
"Oh, is that where you grew up?"
"Hell no. I was born in El Paso but went to high school in Alpine. My mom just lives there now because she recently got married and her husband lives there."
"Oh, does your family live there?"
"No, they live in El Paso. They're just visiting, too."
From there, it's bound to spiral downwards as I attempt to avoid detailing the intricacies of marriages and families and moves that have led to this point where I'm going "home" for Christmas to a house I'm seeing for the first time in my life. Or course, I may be more gunshy than most, since I'm always afraid that people are eager to psychoanalyze me to figure out where I get my weird opinions, so that probably feeds that anxiety.
I have this type of conversation more that I'd think, considering the fact that it's not uncommon at all for people my age to have histories of moving around, ditching Shitsville for the bright lights of the city, or having parents rearrange their personal lives long after the children have grown. I mean, how many people can really say their parents live in the house that they grew up in? But I think that's still the standard that we measure "going home" by--the mythology is that we return to our childhood home for Christmas, new partner/spouse along for the ride, sleep in the bedroom we grew up in that's a little more grown-up looking but still has the same color scheme that we decorated it with as teenagers, and then spend the vacation regressing a little bit and telling our childhood stories to our slightly dazed significant other.
This fantasy has a powerful pull on people, and I expect this year to hear a couple of snarky comments from family members about how we "always do Christmas" at my grandmother's house in El Paso. Luckily, we have the same food we eat every year to get us over the hump of change. My sister in particular was raving about the fact that my mother is getting back to making rum balls, which are very good but are mostly notable for being something she hasn't bothered with since we were small children.
Traditions are nice enough, I guess, but when everyone starts rhapsodizing about them, I tune out. I welcome change much of the time, and changes that should bother me, like my mom marrying and moving away, don't bother me at all, except that I do miss her. Mostly I don't think of "home" as being West Texas at all, and I'm glad for it. My home is here in Austin. The fact that there is no childhood home for me to visit cuts down on the pressure to pretend that I feel much at all that I'm back "home", when I know that the place that really feels home to me is with my boyfriend and cats, with my friends and my breakfast tacos.
I am looking forward to seeing my family, but I know after I leave "home", I'll be tired and glad to be back home.
No bids quite yet
Almost titled this "Delusion". Someone is auctioning off the chance to buy her a boob job.
Weirdest part is that she claims this isn't about self-esteem or trying to get a man. No. It's about a grilled cheese sandwich. I'm sure this is a hoax of some sort, but you never know. Some poor delusional guy probably thinks that a post-boob job bone comes with the package.
Edited to add: Didn't take Ebay long to take it down.
Wherein the Mouse finds out that she is neither sexy nor confident
I was going to do another list of New Year's Resolutions like msjared did, but instead I've decided the Cosmo quiz is where it's at, baby!
1. Fill in the blank: If you were a message T-shirt, you would read:
*My Boyfriends Are Out of Town
Already I am on shaky ground, as all three T-shirts sound lame to me. I guess "Taken" since that's the vibe I attempt to give off in a shaky attempt not to get hit. Despite this, I welcome mild flirting.
2. On a coed ski trip, everyone's hopping into the Jacuzzi ... including a chick with a jaw-dropping Halle Berry bod. You:
*Hang by the hot tub fully clothed
*Feel a little daunted but wear a suit you know you look okay in
*Proudly sport a string bikini
I'm trying to imagine a world where I'd bring a swimsuit to a ski lodge. But assuming that Halle Berry told me that there'd be swimming, I guess I would still only bring my one single swimsuit, which is a halter top and girlie trunks. Which I guess I look okay in, so I'm going with #2. As for having sexy girls around who attract all the dogs away from me, well, I've never considered that a huge drawback, actually.
3. At a wedding, you spot a groomsman you'd love to have for dessert (screw the cake). You:
*Try to make eye contact with him
*Goose him on the dance floor
*Freeze up. What if he disses you?
Well, if I still had some mojo after I'm done screwing the cake (I guess for hypothetical situations, cake-screwing is my thing), I'd probably go talk to him. I'm a mouthy broad, you see, who attracts men by cracking jokes. But I guess I'll be going with #1, since my jokes fall flat if there's no eye contact.
4. When someone compliments your appearance, you:
*Say "Thanks, I'm loving it too!
*Can't help belting out "Ugh, really?
*Thank them, even if you don't agree
Options: Annoy people, hate myself, hate myself. Damn. I'm going with #3, since I try to say "Thank you," like my mom taught me.
5. How seductive do you act in front of your guy friends?
*Sometimes you'll torture 'em by changing your shirt in front of them
*You'd feel weird even semiflirting
*You'll trade playful props like "Lookin' good!" but that's about it
As they are my friends, and I'm not trying to seduce them, not at all. But this question appears to be a mish-mash of normal flirting and outright teasing. #3 seems to be normal flirting, so I'll go with it.
6. Great news: You're a celeb who's going to be featured in the next issue of Cosmo! In your ideal photo shoot, you'd be:
*Wearing jeans and a sparkly tank
*In a Paris Hilton-style dress cut down to your belly button
We are stretching the definition of "great news" quite a bit here. But regardless of what you wear, your image is photoshopped until all humanity is airbrushed out of you, so #3.
7. You're early meeting a friend for happy hour. To kill time, you:
*Go to the bathroom or wait outside
*Order a drink and scope the scene
*Perch seductively on a barstool and chat up the first guy you see
Oh, this one is easy! I always get to happy hour first, because I work so close to all the places we go. First I go to the bathroom and put on more lipstick. And then I order a drink. Then I look around to see if I know anybody there other than my friends. If I do, I invariably don't want to speak to them, so I hide on the other side of the bar. Then I realize where I'm hiding is probably not where my friends are going to be looking for me, so I go back near the front door. Then the person I don't want to talk to comes over to talk to me. I chit-chat uncomfortably until my friends show up 5 minutes later and I say, "Oh, my friends are here! Got to go!" I guess that's option #2.
8. At work, how much do you use your sex appeal?
*You dress as sexy as you can and flirt with guys when you need favors
*Hello! That's beyond inappropriate
*You'll wear something eye-catching when you have an event or meeting
Uh. I sit behind a desk all day talking to grad students. I sometimes wear nice clothes, but my definition of nice and Cosmo's is probably a bit different. I never dress "sexy" by Cosmo's definition. I do wear fun clothes to go out, but not at work, where such an outfit would be a waste. I guess #2 would be the answer here.
9. At the movies, you and your guy run into a chick he's dated before. As they're chatting, you:
*Wait silently while they yak away
*Try to get in on the convo
*Shoot her an icy look, give him a big kiss, and say you'll be in the car
In my dreams, it's #3, though I wouldn't give him a kiss. In my fantasy world, I light a cigarette, pull my mink closer to my neck, look at the girl with disdain as if to say, "Now he knows the touch of a real woman," address him with, "Darling, I dare not interrupt the chit-chat of old friends," before strolling out to catch a cab with all eyes on the place following me hungrily. In real life, I am nice. So #2.
10. When you're in bed with a new guy, how do you -communicate what gets you off?
*You moan and hope he catches on
*You tell him what you want pronto
I think they meant to use an ellipse instead of a dash. Ellipses are sexier....see?
Uh, #2. Now for the results:
In your mind, true sexiness isn't about being overtly come-hither. That's why you'd rather don jeans and a cute tank than a totally revealing hankie of a dress, and why you'd be more inclined to toss a guy pal a cute compliment than flash your boobs so his member flies up 45 degrees.
Um, if I flashed my boobs, I don't think my guy pals would get erections. They'd be freaked.
Yet there are times you could feel more secure in your seductive powers. "You'll exude even more confidence if you amp up your body language," says Cox. Instead of just quickly making eye contact with a guy across the room, flash him a coy smile or let him catch you running your hand along your collarbone.
Yeah, and then shut him down by telling him I have a boyfriend when he comes over. Great advice.
Now that I've been exhorted to act sexier and more confident, I need to be shoved back on shakier ground. So, as a bonus, 5 Signs You're Too Confident.
1. You feel bad for your girl friends because you're the hottest one in the group.
No. My friends are actual friends and we try to avoid the catty crap.
2. When your guy says "I love you," you echo "I love me too!"
Yes. Aren't you supposed to always be supporting your man's opinions in order to keep him happy?
3. You'll often describe yourself as a prettier version of Angelina Jolie.
No, but when describing weird people I will often describe them as creepier than Angelina and her brother.
4. Your signature gift: a framed picture of you
But what if that's what my mom asked for? *sniff*
5. Your fave pickup line to a group of guys is "So, who gets to buy me a drink?"
No, but I do this to my friends. Or I steal that line from "The Last Seduction" and ask who I have to blow to get a drink in this place. Really, it's charming if said correctly.
C'mon now, this is not the time for cheap shots like this one Scott Thill takes at Austinites who write him in Salon today:
In all seriousness, cultural figures as diverse as Gibby Haynes, Richard Linklater, Jim Hightower, Mars Volta, And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead, and many more go a long way toward redeeming Texas in my eyes -- and they've received my undying loyalty, unwavering support and press coverage. But with a Texas-based administration screwing the nation out of the lives of its sucker-punched youth, waist deep in Iraq's Big Muddy -- not to mention trillions of dollars by the time 2008 rolls around -- while sheltering unrepentant punks like Tom DeLay, Clear Channel, Kenneth Lay and countless more, you've got to cut me some slack for calling out the Lone Star faithful as red-state reactionaries.
Many more?! Damn straight, many more! If you're not down with Austin, you are a fucktard, my friends.
And fellow Austinites who want to have a psuedo-secession from The Rest of Texas, I think a reminder is necessary. Yes, it's one thing to call our red-state fellows The Rest of Texas. It's another thing entirely to scrub the Texas out of us. We're only as cool as we are because we're Texans, goddamit! That laid back, iconclastic, eccentricity-tolerant atmosphere bred everyone from Daniel Johnston to Trail of the Dead. Who I would have never fingered for getting famous when I first saw them, since I didn't like them. Of course, when I don't like something, that sometimes is a good signal that they are fixing to go big. After all, I voted against Bush when he was a mere governor. Which is one more reason to appreciate our futile weirdness, since Austinites tried to throw Bush on his ass long before he ran for President.
Austin is Texas, and it's important for people to remember this. Don't let the red voters define what being a Texan is, much less being an American. Sure, Texas is the home of Tom DeLay. It's also the home of this nation's sole hope of getting Tom DeLay out of power, our local D.A., Ronnie Earle.
Alright, alright, alright. It's okay if you don't get the complexity that is Texas. But it'd be a lot cooler if you did.
Edited to add: If you want something more interesting to read than my defensive rants, here's a little slice of life around town. I suggest reading the story involving involving Spike Gillespie, an afterschool book club, and the words "donkey cock". It's a true tale of the sort of thing that makes me never want to leave.
Dunno how long this has been up
We aren't Greeks
And Amy Richards is not Medea.
Yes, my friends, the "How big a bitch is this woman for not considering the opinions of total strangers before she made her decision?" debate is fired up again at Alas, a Blog. And as usual, there are complaints not about her decision itself, but about the lack of maudlin scenes of despair in her account of it. From Courtney, who started it back up:
It's not so much the fact that she went though with the SR (which I was asked to consider with my quad pregnancy) its the fact that she was so cold about it. While I was going though it I was an emotional mess, the minute I saw those heart beats on the screen I was attached to them, I KNEW they where MY childern, my first though was definatly not "How can I get rid of a few of them".
It has nothing to do with feminie emotion (my husband wept in my arms because he did not think he could take part in the decision of which one of our childern would live and which would die), it has nothing to do with puffing up my own maternal dedication (which every mother should feel, and if she dosn't she should not bother to have children). It has to do with the fact that she saw her childern on the screen and said "What is the best way to destroy them, how can I stop their little beating hearts because I don't THINK I can handle it."
Maybe everyone should struggle with infertilty and the desprate want of a child in order to understand what an amazing blessing they are.
Initially, my annoyance at this stems mostly from Courtney's seeming belief, which is common to those who were angry about this article, that you don't "deserve" the selective reduction unless you have suffered, and loudly, for it. Regardless of perfunctory "men cry too" denials to the contrary, this is a very sexist reaction. If husbands or boyfriend stoically suck it up and say, "Well if it must be done, then it must," then we applaud their courage. But anything less than maudlin weeping from women is considered a sign of cold bitchiness.
And then I realized, the strength of my annoyance is about more than just sexist stereotyping. These demands that women who abort or have selective reductions weep and gnash their teeth about it insults my taste. My god, that would have been a shitty story, way below the writing level of the NY Times! Let us review the detail that everyone likes to pick at to demonstrate how cold Richards is.
I'll never leave my house because I'll have to care for these children. I'll have to start shopping only at Costco and buying big jars of mayonnaise. Even in my moments of thinking about having three, I don't think that deep down I was ever considering it.
This was the most moving part of the story to me. This is where I felt the finality of such a decision, because she's invoking the possibilities that are lost when final decisions are made. Granted, the lost possibility is a grim one, but it's a possibility nonetheless.
So why focus on the small details like Costco? That's what's called writing. It's the style that is familiar to the audience. If I were writing a story about a similiar necessary but sad decision, like breaking up with a boyfriend, I wouldn't concentrate on the heavy-duty crying. No, I'd go for the poignant details, like divvying up a record collection or ruminating on having to watch the kind of movies we liked to watch together alone. Telling details that both personalize a story and hit upon universal feelings the entire reading audience can understand.
And I doubt that I would come under fire for such a story, even though breaking up with someone is difficult and painful. It's not "cold" to meditate on small details. It's poignant. (I would also point out that being housebound is not a small detail, but instead is a soul-sucking pit of hell for some people, but that's off-topic here.)
The slightly stoic, detail-oriented way of handling grief, from large griefs like death to smaller ones like lost possibilities, is our cultural lexicon. Go to a funeral if you'd like for this. After subdued crying, people generally gather at the wake and discuss little things they remember about the passed person as demonstrations of vast love. (Boy, if that's not the difference between abortion and actual death of people--that abortion is considered in lost possibility whereas death in actual memories--I don't know what is.) If people would like to make an argument against our cultural style, you're free to do it. We could return to the era of stylized lamenting, having Greek choruses shouting behind actors making speeches, and professional mourners at funerals doing all the loud crying and lamenting that the actual mourners are too grieved to do, but I would find that style a bit false and jarring myself.
Wednesday, December 22, 2004
Lists, lists, lists
I'm bored and I have nothing better to do than read top ten lists and give myself a facial. And then I read this at Lab Kat and I figured, why not? Lists are what the end of the year is about.
Three Names You Go By:
3) Mandy (Calling me this is a privilege earned only by bloodright.)
Three Screennames You Have:
(See above, except I use Freakamouse, not Mandy)
Three Things You Like About Yourself:
1) I'm occasionally funny
2) I like to read
3) I'm obsessive about music
Three Things You Hate/Dislike About Yourself:
1) #3 above to a fault
2) I talk too much
3) I have a scary bad temper, even though I'm mild compared to some family members
Three Parts of Your Heritage:
Three Things That Scare You:
1) Commericals for "Nip/Tuck"
3) Sticking my hand close to the flame to flip over tortillas. I shut off the burner every time, flip and relight.
Three of Your Everyday Essentials:
1) My blog reading
2) Cat cuddling
3) Nightly foot rubs (However, this essential to me is not seen as essential to potential foot-rubbers. I am still working on this.)
Three Things You Are Wearing Right Now:
1) Pajama bottoms bought at Academy today by boyfriend
2) Tank top purchased at Top Shop in London
3) Gray slippers with Longhorn emblems on them purchased on sale on campus
Three Favorite Bands/Artists (at the moment):
(Do these have to be current?)
1) Le Tigre
2) The Ramones
Three of Your Favorite Songs at Present:
1) "I Don't Want to Go to Chelsea"--Elvis Costello
2) "I Heard It Through the Grapevine"--The Slits
3) "Walking the Cow"--Daniel Johnston
(Actually, these are the first three songs that popped into my head. I can't narrow anything down.)
Three New Things You Want to Try in the Next 12 Months:
Ha! Like I'd tell a bunch of strangers. Do your own research.
Three Things You Want in a Relationship (love is a given):
1) Is it wrong to say hot sex?
3) Someone to hang out and joke around with
Two Truths and a Lie:
1) My butt itches
2) I am obsessed with the new spa bar at Central Market
3) I am a woman blogger
Three Physical Things About the Opposite Sex (or same) That Appeal to You:
1) Is it wrong to say penis?
Three Things You Just Can’t Do:
1) Parallel park (More evidence that yes, I am a woman and yet a blogger.)
2) Anything on Fear Factor is a good bet
Three of Your Favorite Hobbies:
2) Going to shows
3) Torturing my friends by making them listen to my music.
Three Things You Want to do Really Badly Right Now:
Actually, I'd really not rather be doing anything else, but okay.
1) Be fed grapes in bed by Jude Law
2) Turn into Max and have my belly rubbed
3) Find out that I won the Presidential election in a stunning upset
Three Careers You’re Considering:
Three Places You Want to Go on Vacation:
2) South Africa
3) Downtown Austin (This one I'll be achieving for Christmas break.)
Three Kids Names:
Three Things You Want to Do Before You Die:
1) Learn to parallel park
2) Be a dirty old lady
3) Win the Presidency in a stunning upset
A young lady in my life got pregnant almost a year ago and her first inclination was to get an abortion, since she is unmarried, doesn't make much money, and already has a child. But her boyfriend begged, cajoled, argued, demanded and pleaded for her to have "his" baby. She gave in and had the baby 4 months ago.
And apparently that's all that her boyfriend could take of being a family man, since he just walked out. Now she has to move back in with her father because she just doesn't make enough to take care of herself and two kids on.
But enough of this. Back to debating with men's rights activists about how wicked women are that trick men into marriage by getting pregnant on purpose!
Say it isn't so! After god knows how many years of trying, MTV finally cracked our shell and is moving The Real World here, just in time to start fucking with SXSW. A friend emailed me this story, and I emailed her back saying if they dare move near me (there's a lot of huge houses right south of me that would probably be perfect), I am going to egg the house. Luckily, MTV is about 3 or 4 steps behind where they think they are in relation to "hip", so they probably will be putting the house near South Congress, which has finally began to buckle under an onslaught of gentrification. (Get past St. Edward's, though and it's the South Austin of strip bars, pawn shops, junkyards and gunshots we all know and love.)
"The house is a big part of the fantasy," Murray said. "We try to create a house that reflects the city that we're in. Coming to Austin, we'll want to have a sense of Austin as young, hip city. There's some great design there, but there's also this wonderful kitschy thing on South Congress. They will have very cool digs."
Of course, there is a snag in the South Austin plan, which is that places to get naked are few and far between off South Congress. (Besides the strip bars, of course.)
Bond was unsure where the cast was going to be headquartered, but he recalled some early ideas: "They were looking at taking advantage of the new urban lifestyle in Austin. Originally they were interested in a lake-front situation, but how many episodes can you do on renting Jet Skis?"
Let us all hope that the need for the naked outweighs the need to be young and hip, because all the decent lakeside property they could get is waaaaay out west, much too far to drive back and forth to the city for heavy drinking on a regular basis.
The real reasons people say "Happy Holidays"
Greg at The Talent Show has a wonderful post on the stupidity behind the efforts to get people to quit saying "Happy Holidays", on the theory that Christmas is no mere holiday, but in fact a day when we honor the efforts of the wingnuts to turn us into a theocracy.
Okay, this whole "Happy Holidays" jihad is confusing me. As far as I can remember, people have been saying "HH" for many, many years now. Every time I've heard it, regardless of who's speaking it, I've always interpreted it as an act of kindness that's meant to imply "I know we may have different beliefs, but I hope your celebration is a happy one." Of course, with New Years in the mix, it's more than a pleasant inter-faith greeting. "Happy Holidays" is a nice, sincere expression of the whole season.
And there's probably something to that. Certainly, the stores who put up "Happy Holidays" signs and other businesses like TV stations are deliberately trying to avoid alienating people. But I think that there's two much simpler reasons that people say "Happy Holidays" now more than "Merry Christmas".
1) Christmas is only one day a year, but we keep up the holiday spirit for a month + 1 week. The holidays is the season between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day. While it insults our American sensibilities to have extended periods of the year where people party too much, eat too much, and are generally cheerful like everyone else likes to do it, it's still a fact. They don't have articles about how to keep off the pounds during the holidays in women's magazines to address overeating on one day out of the year. It's the onslaught of parties and dinners that pack on the pounds. You know, over the course of weeks.
The holidays aren't just about baby Jesus. For instance, New Year's Eve is about trying to stand next to the person you're crushing on at midnight in order to kiss him/her first, hopefully pissing off anyone else who wanted to kiss that person at midnight. And December 26th is about taking back all those shitty gifts that your well-meaning but clueless relatives gave you and getting something you really like. It's also about buying a bunch of stuff on sale.
2) Frankly, "Merry Christmas" is an archaic phrase that just doesn't roll off the tongue. C'mon! When do you heard the word "merry" outside of the LOTR trilogy? And even those movies came out around Christmas, so as not to cause massive cognitive dissonance when that word came out of the actors' mouths.
Meanwhile, "Happy Holidays" sounds just right to people. "Happy" is a common enough word. Hell, "happiness" is right there in our Declaration of Independence, meaning that people are probably just being patriotic when they ask you to be happy. And "holidays", which means "days off of work" to Americans, are a naturally happy time. Frankly, being against "Happy Holidays" is being against everything dear to America. True patriots say "Happy Holidays!"
Is being deliberately childless necessarily a product of fear?
Random question: During the aftermath of the Manson Family murders, did the press focus all its attention on the loss of the innocent fetus that Sharon Tate was carrying to the exclusion of everything else horrible that went down? Yeah, I didn't think so. But I agree with Sheelzlebub that there seems to be a wholesale effort to make fetuses the major victims of crimes against pregnant women. They have a long, hard haul ahead of them, I'm afraid, because while a handful of people are willing to see killing pregnant women as mostly being infanticide, most people have enough human feeling to remember that a human being with a life and memories and fears and feelings was still murdered when someone decides to kill a pregnant woman. No matter how hard the press focused on Laci's pregnancy in the entire Scott Peterson murder trial, in the end you couldn't obscure Laci's humanity, her big smiles as she faced what she thought was a hopeful future. Anyway, that's not the point of this post, though I had to get that out of my system.
Reading the comments at Pinko Feminist Hellcat, I was struck by this comment by Barbara:
For most of my life, I've felt like a bit of a freak because--I simply don't like babies. Don't like 'em. Don't think they're cute. Generally prefer to stay away from them, unless they're attached to a friend of mine.
Yes, I've psychoanalyzed myself and BEEN psychoanalyzed by others. So, I have known for some time that a part of this aversion has to do with fear. Still, it's been difficult to conceptualize the source of this fear. It seems too simplistic to whine something about not wanting to have to wake up at 3am. But I think this story really pulls things together nicely for me. It's about the fear of ceasing to be--literally ceasing to exist as an individual and being completely subsumed by this being--what now before it's even born?
This makes me sad. I know exactly what she means, about being treated like a freak. And the terminology that makes it sound like not wanting to have children is a mental illness, a phobia! If you're a woman, it's not enough not to want children. I've had I cannot tell you how many people wonder what's wrong with me when I've said that I don't want children. Some frantically tell me I need help, but most just patiently say that I'm in a phase that I'll grow out of. And most tell me that my womb itself will force me to change my mind through womb-magic, uh, hormones. Though some of course have implied or said outright that I better change my mind or kiss all chance of getting married away, since that's the only reason men would want to get married. The older I get, though, the less that people tell me I'll change my mind when I get older.
Now, I know that men who don't want children are often told they'll change their mind when they get older, but I've never heard it phrased in psychoanalytical terms. At the most, I've heard men who don't want children get pressured by being told that they may have to lose a good woman if they don't "give" her children. The whole subject of how your decision to have children will affect your romantic future always makes me squirm. While I respect someone's right to have that as a goal in life, I really didn't like feeling like boyfriends were gauging my mommy prospects. It's just not sexy to me, dammit.
There's nothing sick or phobic about not liking to be reduced to a womb. I know people mean well, but that's what it feels like when people wonder what's wrong with you if you don't want kids. How hard is it to understand? Kids are noisy, messy, take up all your free time, and wreck havoc on your social life, and that's all before they become ungrateful teenagers who suck away your money. If you like kids, then that's probably all stuff that doesn't bug you as much as it would bug me, but I am someone who is just a lot more protective of my space and my quiet and my time than most people. I adamantly refuse to accept that makes me mentally ill or anything like that.