Mouse rant blog vent mouse.

Monday, February 28, 2005

Bubba's in the hot seat again

My initial reaction to Digsby's post today about how futile it is to try to get Bubba to vote for the Democrats was, "Right on!"

But again, that's the problem, isn't it? It is not enough to be tolerant. We must adopt both their style and their policies before they are happy. Everyone must be a NASCAR fan. If you are not, they will take it to mean that you disrespect their love of NASCAR. Everyone must hunt. If you don't, then you are being intolerant of their love of hunting. If you don't talk about religion the way they talk about it, you are not properly religious. Rappers must wear cowboy boots, hispanics must speak English, we all have to drive American trucks with confederate flags on the back and drink Jack and be exactly like these macho, southern white men before they will feel secure enough to vote with us.

And let's not pretend that we will not also have to tell the various constituencies in the party who find their right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness to be contingent on being allowed to control their own bodies, marry whom they choose and practice or not practice the religion of their choice that they are shit out of luck. That's part of the deal.

Bubba can't catch a break, but my pity for him is small compared to my pity for those who are hurt worst by Bubba's love for our brush-clearing, horse-fearing President. It's nice to see someone call bullshit on the idea that you can find middle ground with someone whose view on diversity is, "You or me, but not both." One of the most frustrating things for those of us who observe things through the lens of sexual politics is trying to get our fellow liberals to understand that for some of our opposition, compromise is weakness and nothing but total capitulation from the left will satisfy.

Digsby's right that we need to write off those on the right who think "tolerance" is a dirty word. People who stand against sex ed, reproductive rights and other signs that not everyone chooses the same sexual path as they do obviously aren't happy to let us partake of the pill, abortion and sex toys in Alabama, even though we on the side of sin are all too happy to let them avoid birth control and The Rabbit all they'd like. Anti-gay marriage activists seem believe that if gays and lesbians can marry, straight marriage will disintegrate, meaning they sincerely believe that it's just not possible for people to have to peaceably share the same rights. And now we have people that seem to be positive that if a young woman doesn't dress like all the other young women in her class, then something very bad will happen.

Trying to woo people who seem to believe that if they aren't oppressing someone else, then they will be oppressed is a fool's errand and I hope that the Democrats won't be tempted to try it. However, I think there are a couple misconceptions about Bubba that need to be cleared up.

The people who vote because they've been whipped into a frenzy over fears that tolerance of people different from themselves might actually put their own lifestyles in danger are a surprisingly diverse crowd. It ain't just Bubba. In fact, many a Bubba could care less what you do, as long as you don't do it in his backyard. I know a surprising number of fundamentalist Christians who believe very firmly that I'm going to hell, but they aren't too hot on the idea of passing laws to save me from sending myself there with my pill pack in one hand and my copy of Backlash in the other. And many a Bubba thinks this whole gay marriage/abortion/boobies on TV stuff is utter nonsense, but he still voted for Bush and would do it again. And not necessarily to spite urban liberals, either.

So, I think Digsby's right that compromise with some is impossible, and I would add that trying to compromise with people who'd rather we just disappeared off the face of the planet will probably just bring the Democrats down another notch in the estimation of the Bubbas that are inclined to be sympathetic to the social politics of tolerance. The people in our democracy who see the voting system as a way to inflict their beliefs on others are still not a majority; Bush won this last election in a squeaker, and that's only because they blanketed people's homes with the message that their choice was Bush or death by terrorist attack. It was scary and even I had a moment of doubt about voting for Kerry, even though I knew damn well that all the security stuff coming from the Bush camp was all lies.

It seems to me that the Republicans have cobbled together a rather uneasy alliance between the rich who control the party and use it to inflict class warfare on the rest of us, the intolerant who are willing to be used as tools as long as it means they can exert control over their neighbors' sex lives, and a whole bunch of people that are sitting on the fence. The fence-sitters either don't know how many liberties of theirs the Republicans are actively working to dismantle or simply think that they have to put up with these lost liberties in order to be safe from terrorism. This is the group that the Democrats need to focus on in order to get more votes.

But what about Dad?

Salon had a couple of angry letters this week in response to an interview with Judith Warner about the burdens of motherhood and her dismissive response to the idea that a lot of women's problems would be alleviated if men did their fair share of the housework and childcare. One of the letters is a self-congratulatory letter from a man who says that he does his fair share of the work, and he wants a cookie for doing what he's supposed to do.

My wife and I have two children, ages 3 1/2 and 18 months. We are both attorneys; she works for a private firm and I work in the public sector. While my schedule is less flexible in terms of when I am where, it is more regular and allows for more generous sick time, family or otherwise. As a result I do the majority of the daycare drop-off pick-up and sick time with sick children, and care at home is very much a joint effort. I would argue that the same is true of my immediate peers. I would be interested to see the statistic that shows that this generation of "lost cause" fathers devotes the same or lesser efforts to their children's well-being than those in the past.

While there is no question that across the board the situation could not be defined as equal, I would hazard a guess that significant progress has been made in terms of fathers' active involvement in meeting their children's day-to-day needs. Characterizing this entire "generation" of fathers as a "lost cause" is as insulting as healthcare professionals who assume I do not know my children's medical history, daycare providers who refuse to address issues to me and instead wait to see my wife, whom they see far less frequently, or individuals who practically give me a gold star for correctly stating my children's birthdays.

One wonders if he's not looking for praise for doing his job as a father why he wrote in to brag on himself. I assure you there are far more pressing problems in the world than a doctor who can't understand that dad does doctor duty. The ugly truth is that while men on the whole are doing better, they aren't doing their fair share yet. And the recent uptick in men's housework hours that has pushed men's work into being a little more than half of women's probably doesn't mean that men as a whole are doing more, but just that the few that do their fair share are pulling up the numbers and making everyone look better.

Salon cleverly published this Cary Tennis letter next to the letters of complaint. The letter-writer's partner has pushed all the domestic duties onto her, including care for her two and his two children. Not surprisingly, she is tired and miserable all the time, but whenever she tries to take a break for herself, everyone in the family complains. Cary sensibly advises that she make her strikes stick--capitulating at the first complaint is making them realize that all they need to sacrifice is some whine time and they will get her to do everything. Well, and her partner has sacrificed sex and the pleasure of having a happy partner. It's hard from the inside to see it, but from the outside it's easy to see that a man who will give up sex and a good relationship with his partner in order to avoid doing some housework is someone who isn't going to just up and do the right thing after a mere one-day strike on her part.

It's an interesting letter and answer, but Cary drops the ball when he characterizes feminism as a philosophy that ignores economics.

Now, the slogan of the 1970s that launched a thousand domestic arguments was not "The personal is economic!" but "The personal is political!" A slogan must sound good to work right. "The personal is economic!" doesn't sound good; it trippeth not pleasingly on the tongue. Plus economics was not a sexy subject like politics. So you had men and women battling about the distribution of household labor in intimate relationships as though they were political adversaries rather than actors in a marketplace. If the battle cry had been "The personal is economic!" maybe there would have been less zero-sum political bluffing and calling of bluffing and more businesslike partnering toward mutual profit and "win-win" situations all around, including lunches at the Copper Penny and occasional gift certificates to Staples. Or maybe not. I'm just saying.

I guess he forgot about Marxist feminism. But the sad thing is that I think that liberal feminists tried to make housework and childcare a political issue instead of an economic issue precisely to avoid zero-sum thinking. The sexiness of politics and the possibility of a complete overhaul of the system we have now seems the only way to get men on board--they aren't going to "lose" anything if everything is different.

But economics is a dry exchange and the losses are all too apparent. For instance, the letter-writer's partner knows exactly what he stands to lose if he picks up his share of the domestic work--his time and energy. Hey, he sees how busy and tired she is all the time, so how could he not know how much time he could lose to this?

Cary is being coy, but he knows that striking is the last resort of workers after negotiations have ceased to work. And it does get read by those who are losing the cheap labor as disloyalty, so I'm sure it's even harder when the boss/worker relationship is also an intimate one. Anyway, reading this letter I realized that I would be a really bad union organizer. My first thought when the letter-writer said that her family complains when she tries to strike is to laugh at them and remind them how much they demand from someone who knows where they sleep. An ominous laugh might help, too. Yep, I would be giving protection money to gangsters in no time.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Boring Sunday night

"Desperate Housewives" is not on and apparently pre-empted by something painfully boring about movies released in 2004. My dude has usurped the Mouse Manor's living room in order to flip back and forth between Independence Day and Silence of the Lambs, two movies I enjoyed the first time out but bring me pain to watch again, albeit for very different reasons. The former is just awful once you get past the fun special effects and actually watch it for content-related reasons. The latter is a great film about a subject that is pretty much too awful to ponder for any length of time.

I have not seen any of the Best Picture nominees. My aforementioned cousin finds it grossly neglectful the way that I never manage to get out of the house to see a movie and yet can find the time to see the same damn band play at Beerland almost every week for two months. I make no excuses for myself outside of what I tell him, which is that it will eventually come out on DVD. In many ways, I am a 65 year old woman on the inside.

My ignorance of the recent movie scene aside, I have decided to root for Jamie Foxx in Ray because I read this extremely compelling article about it. Also, I really like Ray Charles and figure that considering the mediocrity that can often dominate the Hollywood scene, this movie is bound to be better than average simply by featuring this music in it. You could throw a loop of random images on a screen and toss on some 60's R&B on as a soundtrack and I'd probably like it a whole lot better than most movies I see.

Movie in the making

My cousin, who is hoping to be an up-and-coming film director and who I think has the goods, all family loyalty aside, has undertaken an ambitious new project. It's a movie about the nightmare that is part of the fabric of everyday life in the part of the world we grew up in, the El Paso/Juarez area--the serial killer that stalks Juarez and has killed at least 400 women that we know of, and probably twice that. Ryan is calling his movie Muertas. From the website:

Located at an arms length from El Paso, Juarez is a city known for its industrialization, drug trade and brutal crimes. In the last 10 years over 400 women have been murdered in the town of Juarez, Mexico with over 400 others missing. People travel to Juarez from all over Mexico in hopes of a life more promising. Nearly every week, with another woman murdered, we are left with the broken pieces of untold stories, unanswered questions, and apathetic responses.

Ryan's a good director and after a long discussion over coffee with him a month and a half ago, I feel that he's chosen this project for the right reasons and will do a bang-up job of it. He's still raising funds, so if you got extra cash...

The apathy Ryan talks about on his website is a mainstay in the ongoing crisis of the serial killings of Juarez. Not to say that people like it or accept it at all. In fact, I would say it's not apathy that greets the murders so much as helplessness. The accepted story on both sides of the border is that young men from wealthy, powerful families are killing and raping the impoverished factory workers for fun and that police are protecting them. On top of it, the fear of violence is a constant part of life on the border, even for people who have absolutely nothing to do with the drug trade or criminal elements of the area. The randomness of these murders is symbolic of this--the victims are so utterly blameless of anything that it strangles any remaining belief in the people of the area that violence is avoidable as long as you mind your own business.

Death is woven into the fabric of life in the desert in a way that seems alien now that I live away from it. You wander too far away from your home during the wrong time of year and you can die alone of dehydration in the desert. My stepfather was anal about making sure we had at least two gallons of water in the car before we went on a drive anywhere. Once I was two hours late from a hiking trip in the desert, and sure that I had fallen to my death off a cliff, my mother called the police. For those who live day in and day out with the burden of poverty, the nearness of death is even more tangible. People die of disease, starvation, and exposure every damn day. People are killed by drug dealers fighting for territory. Criminals in Juarez take potshots with handguns at border patrol agents, police and fireman all the time. On the other side, border patrol agents have been known to fire for no real reason themselves. The military was called to the border without notice when I was a sophomore in college; they shot a man in the back who was herding sheep because he had a gun. To us, that was a line of bullshit you could smell from a mile; carrying a gun while herding sheep where coyotes and even mountain lions could attack you or your herd at any minute is a necessity.

Ugly, meaningless death is part of life where I grew up and so these murders threaten always to fade into the landscape. It's easy to let one more injustice pass, but this shall not stand. People are standing up for justice for these women murdered for nothing more than trying to scrape by and make a living.

Settle for the jerk who whines that he's a "nice guy" now

The rest of us are tired of hearing him bitch. Well, that seems to be the motivation for this advice column from iVillage titled "Give Nerds a Chance". Apparently, nerds are supposed to be nicer than the average guy, a myth that can only persist for people who have never spent a moment chatting with people in an online video game. This is a columnist for iVillage I've never read before, but already she irritates me by profaning the word "grrl" by using it as a moniker.

Looking for a nice guy?

No, you're not. Not according to and These sites, and dozens like them, say that what women really want are jerks who will treat them badly.

Yep, the guys at AskMen are classic nice guys--obsessed with manipulating and controlling women, endlessly whining about how women don't try hard enough for their affections while simultaneously asking why they can't get more women in bed, trashing women's rights and otherwise behaving like jerks and wondering why women don't appreciate how "nice" they are. It would make no sense in another world, but in ours, right-wingers are so used to saying one thing and meaning another that this makes perfect sense. "Nice" on AskMen means "complete asshole". Why he can't get the women? Well....

Why are women attracted to jerks?

I often look to nature for answers to these kinds of complex questions. My fascination with animal behavior stems mostly from a crush I had on Jim, the sexy dart-gun guy in khaki shorts on Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom.

Translation: "Nice" men, don't fear me! I am not one of those scary women who learns and knows things because she likes it. Goodness no! The only driving force in my life is sex; so don't fear that I would correct you when you are wrong or anything awful like that. I only care about how you look when you spout off that brainiac stuff like how women are naturally inferior. Larry Summers, for instance, made me swoon when he said that women aren't good at math. I knew then and there that's the sort of man who would indulge me for spending too much on clothes and shoes because my silly female brain just couldn't comprehend the prices.

Human females need to follow the lead of our guppy sisters and progress to choosing men based on qualities that aren't ultimately damaging to us. We are choosing jerks, which, through the process of natural selection, is causing there to be more jerks.

If men are jerks, it's our fault, ladies. First of all, they get laid occasionally. Second of all, and more importantly, jerks are woman-born and therefore our fault. This is useful information and something to remember when you're thinking of calling the cops. If he did something to you, it's either your fault or the fault of some other woman.

It is my honest feeling that men like my boyfriend William, who are former members of the high school audio-visual club and are obsessed with high technology, are the men who are the best hope for evolution. Plus they make great boyfriends. They are sweet, gentle and fabulous in bed, and they are eternally grateful to be with you ‑- who doesn't want that?

William may be all that, but I assure you, from one nerdy girl to another, that nerd does not equal nice. Nerd can also mean guy who talks over you, both attracted and alarmed at how smart he thinks you are. Nerd can also mean Ayn Rand-reading outcast who doesn't get why a smart girl like you can't conform to his opinions.

"Look," I whisper to Renata, "the thing about nerds is, they can't really talk to you on their own, but if you can just get them talking about some gizmo, well, that primes the pump, so to speak."

Why do I have an eerie feeling that someone's sexual fetish is being pushed on the rest of us as a formula for happiness? Look, I have a sordid history of going for rebellious types and musicians, but I would hardly recommend it for everyone.

Renata, a curvy redhead, gathers her courage and wades into the sea of headgear. She heads for a slightly balding guy with a fit athletic build. His face is obscured with giant fly-eye goggles.

And then she got the first hard, cold lesson of Women Who Date Geeks. You may think your smoking hot body will get his attention, but there's no way in hell you're going to win a contest between yourself and his video game.

And then we get a darling story that never happened:

As she approaches, he reaches out his cupped hands toward her ample breasts. His hands come within millimeters, and she smacks him away. Shocked, he lifts off his headgear.

"What the hell do you think you're doing!" Renata screeches.

"I, oh God, I thought you were part of the VR program. I'm, oh God, I'm so sorry-"

Red-faced, he begins to slink away, but Renata stops him by laying a hand on his arm.

"Hey, it was an honest mistake. I'm sorry for overreacting." Renata smiles.

Our writer made this story up or Renata and she are dumb enough to think that the story's hero cannot tell the difference between the animated women of programmers' dreams, fictional women whose dimensions put Jayne Mansfield to shame, and the mundanity of a real life woman's body, no matter how ample.

"Listen," Renata persists, "I'm really interested in... that thing you had on your head. Can you tell me about it?"

Oh, can he ever. About a thousand gigabytes later, he and Renata have exchanged phone numbers by beaming their information into each other's palm pilots.

The moral of the story: Women, in order to have a man, you must either put up with abusive asshole or someone who bores you to death blathering on and on about shit you could care less about. Your choice. But don't forget that being boring never put anyone in the slammer.

And guess what ‑- when he says he's going to call, he calls.

Damn, give that boy a gold medal in Basic Manners 101. I say we tag-team him in gratitude, ladies. Who's with me?

And when he takes her to a movie, well, it usually has aliens in it, but that's a small price to pay for dating a nonjerk. Renata is doing her bit for the survival of humankind, so ask yourself, are you doing your part?

Fuck a nerd for your country! What, do you hate America or something?

My fellow Texans keep on making the rest of us look like fools

Feministe links to this story about the Supreme Court's decision to look at the case of the Ten Commandments in front of our Capitol building here in Austin. The pearl-clutching reactions of the religious right on this issue are so overblown that if you have to wonder if a single one of these motherfuckers believes a word that flies out of their own mouths. I mean, when does lying to the courts and to the media and to the American people, aka violating one of those dear commandments, stop being a political ploy and become just your natural way of speaking?

America can't scrub the role of religion from its history, said Kelly Shackelford of the Liberty Legal Institute, which defends religious freedoms and First Amendment rights and filed briefs in support of keeping the monument.

Yep, once that monument is gone, it will be illegal to discuss religion in our nation's history. No doubt about it. I can't say what Shackelford would make of someone like me, who is an atheist who owns a Bible, a firm believer in the separation of church and state who thinks that you can't teach American history without explaining how the church shaped so much of our culture. In fact, you can't understand the importance of the separation between church and state until you know the history of the church and how after hundreds of years of oppressing religious freedom and taking lives with the state's authority, people finally got fed up and excised its power over the state. And many lives have been saved because of it, I'm sure.

Anyway, Shackelford is bearing false witness to the press and to the Supreme Court when she characterizes herself and her institute as pro-liberty and pro-religious freedom. In reality, the institute stands for curtailing First Amendment rights and pushing her faith on people who don't share it.

According to their own website, the insitute has worked diligently to increase the state's right to censor people in direct violation of the First Amendment.

In March of 2003, the Institute coordinated an amicus brief for the Child Internet Protection Act (CIPA) case before the U.S. Supreme Court.

They have worked on forcing their religion's beliefs about marriage on the rest of us, in direction violation of the First Amendment's freedom of religion clause.

In 2003, Institute attorneys served as national spokespersons for the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA)

After all, under current law, if your church officiates a marriage between two members of the same sex, that marriage cannot be legally recognized the way that marriages performed by churches that are favored by the government are.

The institute also dislikes the equal protection clause, and is working very hard to have two different standards of right to privacy between men and women.

joined other groups in getting Women's Right to Know Act passed, and aided in a victorious battle to get Prenatal Protection Act passed.

As it stands, men still have a right not to have the government force propaganda and lies into their hands before they make a medical decision. Men also have full rights as citizens that are not in the slightest subsumed to the rights of any non-citizen creatures that may have taken up residence in their bodies.

The institute has worked on making government grants contigent on an organization's ability to tailor its services to fit the religious beliefs of the insitute and its members.

In July 2003, LLI took action to defend the state in the case against Planned Parenthood. LLI filed an amicus brief in support of the Texas law to prohibit federal and state funds to be used for abortion services.

Hopefully, they won't be suing soon on the right of anti-contraceptive churches to dictate Planned Parenthood's policies.

The institute works to strip away the rights of individual citizens by using the state to force non-believers to help people who wish to push their anti-intellectual religious beliefs onto our scientific community.

LLI is representing a student who was denied a letter of recommendation by a professor because of his Christian beliefs. The professor even posts his discriminatory policy on a website hosted by Texas Tech and paid for by tax dollars. The professor requires all students receiving a letter of recommendation to affirm a personal belief in evolution.

Your right to not recommend someone because you think that person doesn't deserve the recommendation apparently should be stripped away if it interferes with the right wing push to turn this once great nation into a nation of superstitious morons. What next? A physics professor getting sued for withholding a recommendation from a student that refuses to believe in light photons because light is created when god glows or something like that?

According the institute, you don't have a legal right to not recommend someone because they espouse religious beliefs that directly interfere with their ability to do their job, but you do have a right to harass people all you want as long as you claim it's in the name of Jesus.

LLI is representing four women who were denied admission to the Planned Parenthood public library because they expressed pro-life views. After a First Amendment suit was filed by LLI, Planned Parenthood completely severed their relationship with the Waco Public Library and paid money in damages to settle the case.

I wonder if this institute would defend my religious freedom to run into any old public library and start running around screaming that the Bible is all lies.

I'd keep going, but I've thrown up three times already. Needless to say, it's important to remember that when right wing Christian groups who support laws forcing their religious views on everyone else claim they are trying to preserve freedom, they are lying. I'm not sure when deceit became the great Christian virtue, but organizations like LLI make it clear that they hold dishonesty close to their heart and that it's one of their greatest weapons.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Alright, I'll join the shit storm

Dan Savage makes a proposal to help curb HIV infections due to neglectful sexual behavior this week that he knows damn well is going to cause a lot of people to go bananas.

No, my radical plan to curb unsafe sex among gay men is modeled on a successful program that encourages sexual responsibility among straight men: child-support payments. A straight man knows that if he knocks a woman up, he's on the hook for child-support payments for 18 years. He's free to have as much sex as he likes and as many children as he cares to, but he knows in the back of his mind that his quality of life will suffer if he's irresponsible.

So why not drug-support payments? If the state can go after deadbeat dads and make them pay child support why can't it go after deadbeat infectors and make them pay drug support? Now that would be radical. Infect someone with HIV out of malice or negligence and the state will come after you for half the cost of the meds the person you infected is going to need. (The man you infected is 50 percent responsible for his own infection.)

I'm not going to go into all the various reasons that this may or may not be a good plan that are sure to be in all the letters flooding Savage's mailbox this week. I personally agree that anyone who knows he is HIV positive and deliberately has unprotected sex with people without disclosing his HIV status to his partners should face some kind of punishment. But aligning that punishment with child support is not the way to go about it, because that implies that child support is punishment.

Child support is not punishment. Child support is taking legal responsibility for your children when you don't live with them. Period. Really, it has zip to do with sex or punishments for sex or anything like that. You are legally obligated to take responsibility for children you conceive. There are a couple cases out now that are making it clear that it's not the sex that is the issue, but the children and who made 'em. You are obligated to pay child support for the same reason you are obligated not to lock up the kids in your house in the basement--your responsibility as a parent is to take care of your children. Someone's got to take care of the kids, and we look first to the parents.

Children are not a punishment for sex. Dan Savage, who has an adopted child, needs to think about this more thoroughly. Treating child support payments as the equivalent "punishment" for male sex to women's "punishment" of having to bear raise children is the sort of thinking that has given birth to the men's rights assholes and anti-contraceptive, anti-abortion thinking. HIV is a public health problem, but children are the responsibility, not the problem, of their family.

Of course, since HIV is a public health problem that is a fiscal nightmare, I understand Savage's desire to get some of the cold, hard cash needed to deal with the problem out of the hands of those who make the problem worse. This urge I sympathize with, so maybe a superior punishment could be docking wages to go into a general fund to pay for medication for people who can't afford it? I don't think this is going to generate much in the way of money, though, because it's probably pretty hard to prove that someone's neglect was deliberate or malicious.

Edited to add: Riggsveda's comment below made me think about this even more. Someone who is supposed to receive child support payments and doesn't because the guy's a deadbeat is in a tough spot--trying to figure out food and clothes and rent. Someone who is relying on that money for life-saving medications may be in an even worse spot. We do not need to foisting more responsibility for keeping people alive, fed and clothed onto individual citizens who fall down on their duties all too often.

Weekend show recommendations

Well, that last post was a big, fat downer, so here's my usual show recommendations for the weekend for the two-three readers who will be in Austin and looking for something to do this weekend.

Beerland's got it going on, as usual. Tonight, Mr. Lewis and the Funeral Five at 8:00. Later on that night, the Black Angels and Camp X-Ray. The latter is a band that I predict will be building a solid audience in time. They are really good. The closing band is the Crack Pipes, but I'm not really a fan of theirs. Tomorrow night is Go Go Rama with the Boom Chica Boom Girls dancing to some garage rock and then Sons of Hercules later. I love the Boom Chica Boom Girls, and if I didn't have a prior engagement, that's where I'd be.

Tonight at Triple Crown, you can check out the Bulemics, the Ugly Beats and Amplified Heat, all great bands. Alas, the bar is in San Marcos, so I'm not going. But if you are in San Marcos, enjoy having some good bands in town. For once.

Also, it would be wise to buy your SXSW wristbands this weekend. They went on sale yesterday and by the time we got to Waterloo Records, the first 2,000 that were on sale for $110 a piece were gone and we had to buy ours at $130 a piece. (It wasn't that long ago when they were like $40 a piece. *sigh*) The 2005 schedule is online now, so go check it out.

You gave up your freedom when you chose to have ovaries

No one tell the wingnuts that female fetuses have ovaries and a uterus before they're born, or they might start putting forward bills demanding DNA sex testing before abortions get approved. Just kidding! After all, the daughter of the woman you force to bear children against her will today is the woman you'll be forcing the same thing on tomorrow.

Molly Ivins brings this home in this week's column about the Texas legislature's attempt to turn parental notification laws into parental consent laws by simply reprinting some of the requests for a judicial bypass. Warning--I nearly cried reading some of these.

"My little sister was raped. Our parents are somewhere in Mexico, but I don't know if I can find them." -- older sister.

Grandmother of a 15-year-old: "She just told us that she was raped. We had no idea that she was pregnant. Her mother is dead, and her father is being transferred to (another prison). Is there any way we can get this done?"

"My mother's boyfriend used to hit her and sometimes I would try to stop him, but then he'd start hitting me. I left home to live with my boyfriend when I found out I was pregnant the first time. My mother wouldn't let me have an abortion, so I knew a baby would be safer living away from her and her boyfriend. But my boyfriend started hitting me as soon as I moved in. So I got my own place, a car and two jobs. I'm pregnant again, but I can't tell my mom because she would stop me from getting an abortion." -- 17-year-old high school graduate, mother of a 2-year-old daughter, father deceased.

Parental notification/consent laws are sold to the public as a way that the government can keep your darling daughter from turning into Jezebel behind your back. In reality, they function to punish young women for the crime of having parents they can't turn to when they have problems. I like to think of them as laws that seem perversely designed to help rapists who prefer minors in their charge as victims. Even if you are one of those who think that all women should fulfill their potential to be mothers, even if they are very young, would you really go so far as to say that they should even if the father is her own father?

Anyone who supports parental notification/consent laws needs also to stop and think about the logic. It's not enough to say, "I would want my daughter to tell me if she had an abortion!" Wouldn't you also like your daughter to tell you if she planned to have the baby? Some parents would like to force abortion on their unwilling daughters, but there are no laws helping them. If you think minors aren't fully capable of deciding to have an abortion, why do you think they're capable of being mothers? Must not think much of motherhood, if that's the case.

And of course, lest we women start getting uppity and thinking that our right to privacy actually means that we have a right to privacy like we were non-ovaried Americans, the attorney general of Kansas is here to put us in our places.

The Kansas attorney general is demanding abortion clinics turn over the complete medical records of nearly 90 women and girls, saying he needs the material for an investigation into underage sex and illegal late-term abortions.

Two clinics are fighting the request in Kansas Supreme Court, saying the state has no right to such personal information.

But Attorney General Phill Kline, an abortion opponent, insisted Thursday: "I have the duty to investigate and prosecute child rape and other crimes in order to protect Kansas children."

Of course, we all know that Kline is being disingenous with his blather about protecting underage rape victims. Rape victims who avail themselves of their right not to bear their rapists' children are the ones who will be treated like criminals, having their files poked through and families interrogated. Those who bravely endured having a child by their rapist apparently have been punished enough for the crime of being a victim of a sex crime.

The other women who will be under scrutiny will be teenagers who presumably had consensual sex and had to get abortions and women who had late-term abortions. Like Kline, we can assume the latter category is a bunch of selfish bitches who waited until after 22 weeks to terminate their pregnancies because it's more fun to get abortions later. We can safely assume that none of them waited because they intended to have the baby and then found out that they couldn't or shouldn't for health reasons.

Okay, okay, okay. It's silly to think that there are hoardes of women waiting for 5 months to terminate their pregancies simply for the thrills. They may have had medical reasons, but it's selfish for a woman to want to keep her life instead of fulfilling her duty to suffer and perhaps die for the sake of right wing ideaology, is it not?

Friday cat blogging

February is confusing for cats. One day it's 75 out and the windows are open and the smell of grass is in the air. The next day it's 45 and raining and the windows aren't open and they are climbing the walls. Posted by Hello

Friday Random Ten--"The Ramones Ain't No Herb Alpert" Edition

In honor of the woman who leads us and her declaration that this is Estrogen Week, all the bands on the Friday Random Ten have to have at least one female member. How did I pull off this amazing feat? Uh, after I hit shuffle I just read the names of the bands and skipped any that have no women.

1. "Truth"--New Order
2. "Lexicon Devil"--The Germs
3. "Little Boy"--The Crystals
4. "Wake Up"--Sahara Hotnights
5. "Who Needs Forever"--Astrud Gilberto
6. "Poor Little Critter on the Road"--The Knitters
7. "The Great Love Sound"--The Ravonettes
8. "Anorak Girls"--Anorak Girl
9. "5 O'Clock in the Morning"--The Donnas
10. "Wild Honey Pie"--The Pixies

Also through Feministe, I found this link from Cruella-blog, about a study that found that men and women define "sense of humor" as an attractive quality differently. Yep, men generally defined it as "laughs at my jokes" and women as "makes me laugh". Of course, this is more evidence that I'm actually a man, since I too think that you have a good sense of humor if you laugh at my jokes. Or it could just mean I'm vain.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Wingnuts keep pushing

More from the crazies who think that if only women knew that being pregnant means that you are on the road to having a baby of your very own, then you certainly would never consider getting an abortion.

BOISE - Republican Representative Ann Rydalch wants the state to require doctors to show women pictures of a fetus before an abortion. But her legislation may not be supported by all of the state's anti-abortion groups.

Rydalch's bill also would force doctors to give women information about abortion alternatives, and tell them that abortion could increase the risk for breast cancer. The National Institutes of Health denies any link between abortion and breast cancer, however.

"Informed consent" is an anti-choice catchphrase that has absolutely nothing to do with the traditionally understanding of what information is--you know, the whole facts and truths stuff that the rest of us think of when we think of being "informed". Telling women that they are going to get breast cancer if they have an abortion is lies, not information. You might as well tell them that if they dare abort, god will curse them for life by making toads and snakes fly out of their mouths when they speak.

As for the pictures thing, I doubt the pictures that Rep. Rydalch wants to show of fetuses would be constrained to pictures of fetuses at the same point in the pregnancy that most women are aborting at. It just doesn't have the same impact to show a one-month fetus that doesn't resemble a human as it does to show an 8-month one.

These proposed laws that treat women like ignorant children that need to be scolded in order to get an abortion get sillier all the time. What next? A law stating that a woman has to sincerely promise never to fornicate again before she earns her Constitutional right to terminate her pregnancy?

This has been bugging me

I tried just to leave a little skidmark of snark in the comments section, and yet I am still unsatisfied. I'm going to refrain from talking about Matt Yglesias's post on Le Tigre itself, mostly because the one-off comment he leaves makes it clear he was probably joking. But egads, the comments! Of course, this is pretty typical of the comments in the bigger blogs when the subject of music comes up--yep, it's time for the dick-swinging contest. Me, I prefer the bald bragging of the Friday Random 10. A sample of some pissy comments left on this post:

Le Tigre is no Bikini Kill.

(Besides, I don't especially like the last band Matthew posted about (Arcade Fire), and they are mostly boys. And I DO like Bikini Kill (although my taste in girl music is more Missy Elliot and Alicia Keys).)

Quite true... though Bikini Kill is no Sleater Kinney.

Sleater-Kinney is no L7.

Frankly, I say the Foo Fighters are no Nirvana and Nirvana is no Mission of Burma.

Okay, well that last comment was mine. But what exactly was the point of this little comment exercise that went on there? I mean, besides the commenters demonstrating that they know that Le Tigre was started by the same woman who started Bikini Kill, something that you would know anyway if you even know who Le Tigre is. Or that you know that liking Sleater Kinney is the thing to do. Really guys, it's scientifically proven that owning 2 or more Sleater Kinney albums makes girls who wear 501s drop those 501s in your presence.

Mostly I'm just annoyed at the premise of this thread, the premise being that all these bands are jostling for the slot of the Offical Girl Band. To quote a famous man in the best documentary of all time, "In the end, there can only be one." This is the unspoken answer to the infamous women bloggers question. Why do women bloggers go unnoticed? Not because we are unworthy, not because we don't self-promote, not because we're too busy cradling babies to type, not because we're scared to the big mean men with their ability to spell scathing words, but because of the overriding belief that there's only a limited number of slots for the girls, and if one is to get in, then another woman has got to go.

Edited to add: Of course, I could be looking at all this from a perspective of ungodly nerdiness that might be skewing my opinions just a little bit. As soon as I published this, a friend popped up in a messenger window with this greeting: "So, I've been thinking about the resurgence of post-punk." And it occured to me that I really may just be angrier at people who think that knowing the Le Tigre has a member in common with Bikini Kill makes them a bunch of smarty-pants than anything else.

But then again, maybe everyone has a well-formed opinion on the resurgence of post-punk. I know I don't, except to wonder if this means that I might as well just start my lounge music band now so that all our songs are written and we're completely tight in time for that trend to pick up.


A friend from D.C. was down here last weekend for a wedding and we managed to squeeze in a lunch with her, her husband, my boyfriend and myself before they were whisked away into the wedding dimension, where everything is flowers and hairspray and standing around waiting for something interesting to happen. My friend is a fellow Texan but she married a man from around Seattle, so naturally we were entertaining him over lunch with tales about the famous disregard Texans demonstrate for the niceties of personal safety, tales with punch lines like, "Here, hold my beer while I shoot the fire."

Just to make his life a little harder, my friend laughed and turned to her husband and asked him to tell us about the crosswalks in the suburban Washington neighborhood his parents now live in. Apparently, each crosswalk has a stack of orange flags on each corner. The legal protocol for crossing the street is to hit the Walk button, wait for the signal to turn, grab two flags and wave them in front of you as you cross the street, for maximum visibility. How dramatically you wave them is completely up to you, as is the choice to throw in a little soft shoe as you make your way across the street.

The conclusions you draw from this story are completely up to you. The conclusion I drew was that we should have orange flags at the crosswalks here in Austin, but only at the big crosswalk where the mall at UT intersects with the middle of the Drag, where in the middle of the day when things are busiest on campus each Walk signal dumps hundreds of students into the crosswalk. It would just make things a little rosier if each of those hundreds of students was required to wave orange flags as they crossed. Sort of like a mini-parade every 2 minutes or so. They could make the flags burnt orange, if they like, to keep it in the school spirit.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

NASCAR explained

As previously mentioned, many of my good friends are huge motorheads. I don't get it, either, but I am an expert at nodding and smiling as this friend drags me to stare at a Corvette he rebuilt or another friend jumps up and down while we watch an incomprehensible Formula 1 race and tells me why she loves Ferrari or another carefully explains why Rossi is the greatest motorcycle racer of all time. I have friends that are addicted to muscle cars, even ones with a flaming chicken painted on the hood, friends who could tell you to the penny what Michael Schumacher made last year, friends who earnestly tell me that I could make money as an umbrella girl. (Yeah right.) Racing maniacs. And to the last one, they loathe NASCAR.

I thought of this when reading posts by Greg and by Hugo trying to figure out the popularity of NASCAR. For those standing outside of the whole thing, it's tempting to be open-minded and generous towards NASCAR fans. They merely like racing and it's just what they know. They aren't racist, they just like to see racers that look like them. I sympathize with that urge.

My racing fanatic friends disagree strongly, to say the least. A couple of them I know can be can be encouraged to expound on it at length given a cocktail, a cigarette and a sympathetic ear. According to fans of other types of racing, superior types that have sophistication and technological advances like Formula 1, the only reason to prefer NASCAR is that one is a xenophobic redneck who would prefer substandard sport in order to never be assaulted with images of people who speak English as a second language giddy with victory and the cash and sex with supermodels that comes with it. This does not come from a bunch of blue state Americans who sneer at our redneck brethern. I am of our redneck brethern and still we look down on idiots who would rather watch Ford race Dodge instead of BMW race Ferrari.

Truth told, the growing popularity of NASCAR is one of the signs of the Apocalypse. There is no excuse for giving a shit about one substandard American manufacturer bettering another substandard American manufacturer in a contest that deliberately excludes foreigners who might make it interesting. When Toyota joined the Truck Series, it gave me a perverse glee to watch them start kicking ass right off the bat. Please don't condescend to my fellow Southerners and figure that we don't know better. They know better. They are just being assholes. Getting a tattoo referencing the late Dale Earnhardt is asshole behavior, and no one should be obliged to expend effort trying to understand it.

NASCAR succeeds for the same reason the American spirit we all remember from our youth and cherish, the belief in the spirit of freedom and the power of individuals working together, is giving way to ass-licking subservience to The Man and lavish yet ignorant patriotism. It gives people a cheap thrill without the challenge or fear they might get by actually engaging international racing. For fans of real, aka international, racing, NASCAR is reminiscent of football--a sport that no one but Americans enjoy, and one that Americans enjoy while trashing on a sport that is actually enjoyable--soccer--for no other reason than a bunch of foreigners like it.

I won I won I won I won!

Hard as it is for me to believe, I won the Koufax Award for Best New Blog! I was also reminded of a campaign speech I made when I was a finalist. Damn those search buttons!

Suffice it to say, I was drunk when I made that promise. But hell, for all you know, I'm drunk now. I don't actually type my entries so much as stomp back and forth through my office wearing a diaphonous robe with a feather collar and feather-topped mule slippers while smoking from a cigarette holder, drinking a martini and dictating my blog entries to my shirtless cabana boy, whose muscles are surprisingly rippled for someone who sits at a computer all day.

Thank you all for voting for me. Thanks to the the crew at Feminist Blogs and at XX for rocking so hard. Thanks to all those who shall go unnamed who keep asking where all the women bloggers are at. Thanks to my boyfriend for being patient with my cabana boy. Thanks to my readers who come here for the jokes about advice columns and off-kilter feminist analysis and tolerate my prattlings about Austin bands they have never heard. Thanks to Max and Katy for being so damn cute.

And thanks to my writing companion.

Lone Star

And for Roxanne and Lauren, here's some tits:



And for all of you who came here to see some boobies, here you go:

Moon Girl



Don't forget, folks, what happens at the post-Koufax parties, stays at the post-Koufax parties.

Braggin' rights

My boyfriend's photos from the Yuppie Pricks' CD release party at Emo's are up on their website now. His photos are sets 2 and 3. He's a good photographer and don't let no one tell you otherwise.

Ode to a Dull Drumbeat

Mad Kane has published a poem on the women blogging thing. Go read it and laugh between sobs for the fate of men who sincerely believe, in a Zen-like way, that if they don't see a woman than she ceases to exist.

This belief that women are not only out of sight, out of mind, but actually out of existence does explain certain ex-boyfriends' amazement at all I could accomplish in a day when they weren't looking.

Roe vs. Wade left unchallenged for now

The Supreme Court refused to hear a challenge to Roe vs. Wade today.

Without comment, justices declined to hear the appeal from Norma McCorvey and thus dodged a highly charged political debate for now. McCorvey's protest of Texas' abortion ban led to the Roe v. Wade ruling establishing a constitutional right to abortion.

McCorvey, who says she now regrets her role in the decision, argued in court filings that the case should be heard again in light of evidence that abortion harms women.

The high court's move Tuesday wasn't surprising. A decision to reopen a case based on so-called "changed circumstances" is rare, and two lower courts had already refused to reconsider the ruling.

I'm not surprised that they don't want to waste their time. If they had to hear this, they would probably end up holding up Roe vs. Wade anyway, so what's the point? The time to worry is if Bush gets some anti-choice people into the Supreme Court.

Norma McCorvey is an interesting character. She's the original "Jane Roe" and is now a pro-lifer who wants abortion rights revoked because she's had a religious conversion. Like many on the Christian right, she has missed out understanding that the laws just can't be tailored to her benefit. Granted, she felt that way when she was trying to obtain an abortion and couldn't. The one factor in her life is the belief that the law and the rights of others should be tailored to her current needs.

Supreme Court decisions are about a lot more than the person who brought forth the initial lawsuit, but are hand-picked to settle sticking Constitutional issues. McCorvey's current feelings are irrelevant--if it's a right, it's a right, whether the real Jane Roe wishes to avail herself of that right or not.

Let's hear it for divorce!

This poor woman who wrote to Cary Tennis this morning needs a cheerleading squad.

I am married to the man of my dreams -- except for one thing: He won't touch me. I'm not just talking about sex; I mean he's averse to basic human contact. We're down to a chaste kiss as he leaves for work, an occasional hug when I ask, and sometimes another chaste good-night kiss before he turns his back to me and falls asleep.

Yep, she needs to leave him. I know--easier said than done. But what people don't like to talk about is that starving someone for sex and affection year after year after year can drive them insane. This woman is putting up with insults from the man who supposedly loves her that would likely make her slap a stranger who said these things to her.

For the first several years of our marriage, he blamed my weight as the sole reason we were not having sex. Let me clarify that I am an attractive woman with a beautiful face, long blond hair and a curvy, voluptuous body, which many men find very attractive -- just not my husband. He told me about five years into the marriage that he'd felt deceived, that he'd believed I would change and lose weight.

Divorce is too good for the person who marries and then starts attacking their spouse and telling them they have to "earn" love--how was she supposed to know that he didn't find her attractive? He married her, didn't he?

The letter-writer has an affair, which causes her husband all sorts of grief. Frankly, he should have taken a pill and looked at the bright side--he gets to keep his wife without to make love to her. She set it up so he wins all around. Of course, he doesn't see it that way. So now that the husband has learned the hard way that contrary to popular belief, women really do want sex, he's given in to the occassional obligatory night of romance, letting her know that she should be slaveringly grateful for any attention in the most romantic way possible.

Every once in a while (three times last year), my husband takes pity on me and says that it's time to reset the clock. That means we do the deed. Then I can no longer say, "Come on, honey, it's been three (four, five, six) months since we made love," since the clock is reset to zero. After such a resetting, it is an unspoken rule that I am not supposed to ask again for a really long time.

Okay, we've all been nasty to people we're supposed to love. At what point do you take a look at yourself and say that for all the grief you've been giving this person, you may actually hate him or her?

So what's the hold-up? Why hasn't she kicked him to the curb? Well, it turns out that she's bought the whole story that it's selfish to get divorced, that you are a failure if you do it, and that you have to "work" at marriage. Of course, we all know who does most of the "work" in a marriage that needs working on. She lost a bunch of weight and puts up with his shit and goes to counseling and tries to understand. He does the hard work of condescending to fuck her once in awhile as long as she understands that he's doing her a huge favor. And through all this, she still manages to find a way to avoid feeling selfish by making it clear to Cary that she wants basic human things not for herself; oh no, this if for the children. Or the lack of.

I'm starting to go a little crazy from being starved for simple affection. And, yes, for sex, too. And deep down, I fear that I will never have a family, something which is extremely important to me (and, I thought, to him).

Cary tells her nicely to kick this guy to the curb. This is why I'm sick of people who bemoan how our divorce rate is so high because people are selfish. (And we all know what sex the selfish people are that are pictured by the person saying this.) Rarely will you people regret their divorces--each individual divorce has a very good reason for it. Mostly you'll just hear people regretting getting married in the first place, as this woman will be doing very soon down the line. Her husband, if he has any ability to self-examine, will be regretting screwing the whole thing up.

In Texas, we joke about the "Your Honor, he needed killing" defense. Well, some people just need divorcing. It'll do this guy some good to be dumped on his ass. It's the only way he's going to learn that he can't just walk all over someone like this and expect loyalty in return. Or learn that if he doesn't like sex, then it's not right to get into conjugal relationships.

I'm sick of everyone picking on the fine institution of divorce. All we see is the negative part--it breaks up marriages, it's sad, boo-hoo. We neglect to note that for many, if not most, people who divorce, by the time they are pushed to it, they are so miserable that divorce is like getting freed from prison. I think we should have a Divorce Appreciation Day, if for no other reason than helping people like this have the opportunity to see divorce in a different light--not as a sign of failure, but as a long overdue escape route.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Minister of Advice Enforcement

President-for-Life Sheelzebub thinks that silly little blog awards are nothing. Instead of mere awards to polish and slap on your sidebar, Sheelzebub is handing out ministries. I would like to be the Minister of Advice Enforcement, due to my self-proclaimed expertise in ridiculous advice columns. My duties would be to make sure that everyone in the advice column industry is on message, exhorting women at all times to be active in their passivity and appearing cool while remaining anxious. Oh yes, and to have nothing more important in their lives than pleasing men while pretending to be busy little beavers to improve attractiveness to men. If we can keep women under an onslaught of helpful advice that will keep them running after their tails, they will be unable to wake up and oppose President Sheelzebub's plans for world domination.

In hopes of obtaining this position, I wish to highlight one of the advice columns from MSN that is right on target with its message to women that anger is just unsavory in a female.

He did the unthinkable, and now you want to get even. Ok, you’re entitled to blow off a little steam, tell all your friends (and his) what a horse’s ass he is, maybe even lay a major guilt trip on him — complete with waterworks.

Right off the bat, this writer is out to confuse the audience. Anger is okay, sort of, well actually it's best if you show a more ladylike sadness.

Things you want to do:
Key his car — and risk retaliation.
Seduce his best friend — and face possible rejection and humiliation.
Tell his mother what he REALLY thinks of her — chances are she’ll side with her son.
Boil his rabbit (oh, and his furry little pet, too!) — and risk going to jail.

Before the audience can put up resistance, our clever advice columnist knows to chastiste the audience for being small-minded and petty females, too dumb to key a car without getting caught, too insecure to avoid sleeping with someone who probably means you ill will, too loud-mouthed and gossipy to know how to pick an audience and swamped by a hysterical clinginess that the movies tell us affects only women.

And now for the best part--the part where we women are reminded not to focus our anger outward at the source of our troubles (in this case, it appears to be a cheating man), but instead to turn our pain inwards to the cause of self-improvement. Because if he's a jerk, it's your fault.

Cleanse. Time for a little spring cleaning to clear the cobwebs from not only your heart and head, but your house, as well. Toss out all reminders of him, good or bad.

Proper women don't get mad, they get to scrubbing!

Work it out. Work it out of your system with a good workout routine. It will get you out of the house, help lift your energy and spirits, and help you keep that hot — perhaps even hotter — body you know he’s missing (just another benefit if you happen to run into him).

This is especially good advice for those who cut out a man for cheating. As you jog along, think about how you could have kept him by being in better shape to begin with. Blame yourself for not trying hard enough to be perfect. Much more pleasant than unfortunate anger.

Move on. The sooner you get on with your life, the sooner you let him know that your world didn’t really revolve around him after all.

Get past him so that you have the satisfaction of knowing that he thinks you're past him when you sit around thinking about him. A properly confusing piece of advice guaranteed to distract the female half of the population from worrying about world domination.

Forgive. No one says you have to forget what happened, and you may wonder why you should ever forgive such a crime of the heart. But to forgive is to free yourself from another’s emotional hold. Anger means you care, and of course the last thing you want is for him to think that you’re still harboring some sort of feelings for him and mourning your relationship.

Why should he have to suffer someone's anger because he hurt her? Goodness knows that anger can just give someone too much clarity--to be angry at someone for hurting you is to know that you don't deserve to be hurt, which might lead to the unfortunate result that you demand better for yourself in the future. And if you eliminate cheating bastards from your potential boyfriend pool, that shrinks the pool and may delay obtaining another boyfriend.

This writer is also perfect for President Sheezlebub's purposes. Women who can't work up the enthusiasm to stand up for themselves in their personal life could possibly be guilt-tripped into not standing up for themselves politically. Not all, but many. I'll leave it up to the other ministers to work on the men. Perhaps a Minister of Conservative Talk Shows could work on getting the men to be so afraid of female welfare recipients and greedy divorcees after their money that they don't see what they have to fear from our President?

Cootchie coochie coo

Redneck Feminist gets going on her new blog with a link to a hiliarious account by Kerry Howley at Reason about the anti-feminist right's favorite new party trick--beating a straw victim.

Meet the put-upon conservative coed, the prototype pushed by conservative feminists to demonstrate liberal bias on college campuses. We'll call her Claire. Claire doesn't want any part of this vulgar spectacle known as The Vagina Monologues, but her Feminine Mystique-touting, Germaine Greer-quoting friends are tying her to a chair and making her watch. She desperately wants to be chaste, but condom-peddling feminists are driving her to her knees at the frathouse next door. She really just wants to be a mom, but her mentors in the gender studies department say that's just not acceptable.

The article starts off with a bang but then devolves into the same complaining that modern feminists are obsessed with victims and helping them. While there's no doubt we would be a lot more fun if we didn't point out how male dominance creates real victims of rape and violence, I'm afraid that creating pleasant tea party fodder isn't really the point of feminism, so there's not a whole lot I can say to assuage the ignore-the-victim-makes-her-go-away crowd. Then again, my brand of fun is a hell of a lot more fun than the IWF's suggested brand of fun, I'm sure. Then again, I've never fully explored the charms of keeping a hope chest and thinking up names for the half dozen moppets I plan to start bearing at 22 (oops, missed out on that one), so I can't know for sure.

One thing that's a lot of fun is The Vagina Monologues, as Redneck Feminist finds out in her story. I know--hard to believe. The anti-feminist spin on the play is such that one does walk into it trembling with fear that it's going to be a tedious two hour ordeal of listening to moony hippies doing chants to the origin of the world or something like that. But it's just a serious of stories from real women about their experiences with their bodies and sex and because of that, it's really funny at parts. And that is exactly what is so empowering about the play--it reveals to women that it's perfectly fine to regard our genitals with the same warm affection and good humor that men have towards theirs.

So this is why I have to disagree with Howley, who argues that the play shouldn't be a cause of concern to anti-feminists. The humor and affection in the play is extremely effective in normalizing women's genitals to members of the audience who were brought up in properly anti-feminist enviroments and therefore feel ashamed to even have a vagina, much less the entire vulva area. (I cannot tell you what a relief it was to find out the fish thing was a myth after an adolescence of being afraid that I had a stink to me that I couldn't even perceive.) The play confronts fear with its mortal enemy humor, and that's why it's so threatening.

Of course, anti-feminists can't just come out and admit that keeping women fearful of their own bodies is a necessary component of the proper gender roles they promote (pretty much admitting that a woman's place is anything but roses and affectionate pats on the ass from a loving husband that leave you walking on clouds is verboten), so they have no choice but to lie and build up outrageous fears that you walk into the play a normal, man-loving, cunt-fearing woman and emerge smelling of patchouli and carrying your castrating knife. How else are they going to sell their anti-Vagina campaign? "This play is one more thing that will help convince your daughter that she too can feel good about her body?"

Monday, February 21, 2005

Being bummed all damn day

Hunter S. Thompson's death has bummed me out all damn day. Rereading this article he wrote a few days before the election brought it all home to me. PJ said in the comments of Roxanne's blog:

Damn it Hunter, why? You made it through Nixon, Reagan, Bush/North and you would have made it through Bush Lite. Yes, the swine are running amok. All the more need for you.

Holding off despair is a weighty task. And there's no evidence whatsoever that it can or even should be done. Every time I flip on the TV and see more images of the malevolent forces running this country and contemplate the complacency and ignorance that allows it to happen, I have to stave off despair somehow. Anger sometimes. Distraction. Wild optimism that this soon will pass; it has to. But the ugly truth is that it doesn't have to. This evil has its fangs in us and we may not shake it off before it kills us.

Night of the Living Dead is one of my favorite movies of all time. In it, a bunch of people hole themselves up in the house to protect themselves from the increasing hordes of flesh-eating zombies and we stay with them the whole time, watching them try to figure out how to survive, watching their petty in-fighting over survival strategies, and thinking that having gone through this ordeal, the hero is bound to come out on the other end of this alright. But no--he survives a night of zombie attacks only to be shot in the morning by some fellow living human beings who mistake him for the enemy.

Those of us who oppose the vampiric Republicans who run this country are true patriots, struggling to save America for ourselves and for others. And in the last election, our fellow Americans shot us down, mistaking us for the enemy. How can they not see that we are trying to save them?


"Four more years of George Bush will be like four more years of syphilis," the famed author said yesterday at a hastily called press conference near his home in Woody Creek, Colorado.

"Only a fool or a sucker would vote for a dangerous loser like Bush. He hates everything we stand for, and he knows we will vote against him in November." Thompson, well known for the eerie accuracy of his political instincts, went on to denounce Ralph Nader as "a worthless Judas goat with no moral compass."

"I endorsed John Kerry a long time ago," he said, "and I will do everything in my power, short of roaming the streets with a meat hammer, to help him be the next president of the United States."

Despair is feeling completely helpless, like you have no control, no choices left. Without hope. Bush and all the vampires that wish to suck the good people of this country dry are just nothing without their human allies who have been suckered into helping them. I keep waiting for my fellow humans to get a clue, certain that they will figure it out any day now. I've been lying to myself in order not to despair.

I don't know what caused Thompson to do what he did, what made him decide that hope and him had permanently parted ways. But I think we all have our suspicions. And I am freaked the fuck out that if Thompson, who put up with so much shit in his life, had finally decided to give up hope, then the rest of us might be doomed. But then again, maybe it was just his age that had caught up with him.

A nice little tale from East Texas

News from Nachodoches, Texas that was emailed to me from my sister--apparently a new movement is underfoot called Straight Pride. Seems like the homophobes are a little jealous of the white supremacists and decided to co-opt their general ideas. And to kick of a little Christian hate-fest the straight pride people at Stephen F. Austin University decided to hold a "debate" between the head homophobe at SFA, representing the "we hate them but don't kill them" moderation of straight pride and someone even more scary radical than him, a minister of a Baptist church in Nachadoches named Rev. W.N. Otwell. This guy is a real treasure. And brave, too, willing to be on the same college campus as homosexuals in order to condemn them.

“I’ve been there a few times,” Otwell said. “I know it has quite a few homosexual males and females on the property, but we don’t fear that.

There is a real danger of catching gay off of the students, so we can all imagine how fearless this fuck must be.

“But homosexuality is a different sin from lying and drunkenness. It’s against nature. There’s no social value, no reproduction and it can’t bring forth fruit.

Well, many of us do know how drunkenness can bring forth fruit, so he's got a point.

There’s a lot of men who lie and commit adultery who bear fruit and we can permit these people, but with the homosexual, we can’t.”

And here you thought that guy on Jerry Springer who have five women in five states all pregnant by him was a scumbag. Indeed, he is a man of god, bringing forth fruit as fast as he can pump it out.

“The curse of the homosexual agenda is AIDS, HIV,” he said. “Immorality and their filthy lifestyle is breaking down the family unit that our Lord instituted when He created man (as) Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.

Eve was a man?! Then what the fuck's the problem?

Lest you think that this Otwell character who was invited to debate at SFA has a Phelps-like focus on homosexuality to the exclusion of all else, he makes sure that we know that there's plenty of room for hate in the Christian heart for disobedient women and black people.

Otwell and his followers have visited SFA in the past with signs of protest against what he describes as the militant feminist movement; women in the military holding jobs and running for political offices. According to Otwell, the civil rights movement is also in part responsible for the rise in homosexuality in America.

“Civil rights is an abomination,” Otwell said. “It gave the sodomites the right to practice this filthy lifestyle they practice without prosecution.”

Damn, if militant feminists are the ones who want jobs and political office, what are moderate feminists? The ones who think that women should merely be spanked on the ass for disobedience instead of socked in the eye?

One thing you got to love about some of our unreformed wingnuts in the South is that haven't yet figured out that it's not politically expedient to align themselves with Islamic terrorists. Even Falwell has figured out that it's not wise to hope for suicide bombers from the sky to punish people who he disapproves of, but not our homegrown asshole Christian from East Texas.

“Osama (bin Laden), Al Qaeda, all of those men – God uses them like his sword to punish weakness. It was not just an act of terrorism but an act of God.”

Despite the Christian love emanating from this man, a debate with the straight pride people who merely loathe homosexuals but don't necessarily damn them straight to hell was far too much tolerance for him.

Thursday’s debate on homosexuality between Adam Key, Spring junior and public relations director for Straight Pride, and the Rev. W.N. Otwell of God Said Ministries ended when Otwell left after the first portion of the debate.

Otwell said he felt unsafe at the forum, moderator Clay Walker, a Lufkin senior and Christian comedian from First United Methodist Church in Lufkin, said. Walker acted as moderator in place of an absent Doyle Srader, communication lecturer.

It was a contentious point that the unpleasantness broke out over. Otwell felt like gays and lesbians should be banned outright from marrying. Key, the straight pride proponent, felt that they should be allowed sexless, miserable marriages to members of the opposite sex. The rest of us are in awe of Key's generosity in extending a right to gays and lesbians that they don't have any use for. Perhaps he also feels that people should be allowed to marry box turtles if they so wish, full well aware that there are no people that wish for this.

My sister has a friend who attended the debate who swears that Otwell didn't just leave over his inability to imagine a homosexual having a right to anything other than being berated night and day for daring to exist by a loving Christian. She says that Otwell incurred the audience's wrath by expounding a bit on his godly belief in the inferiority of black people, but this is just hearsay. My goodness, you would think there was some connection between hating one kind of person for being different from yourself and hating another kind of person for being different from yourself! You might also be inclined to think that the anti-feminist forces who want to get women out of work and back to baby-making might have some kind of racist motivation, some sort of odd belief that white women need to start pumping babies out as fast as they can lest whites have to actually share this country with people of other races. But I don't want to get too hasty here. Clearly, this man was just speaking to the good students of SFA on behalf of Jesus Christ, who did after all hold forth endlessly on his hatred of women, blacks, and homosexuals.

More FCC complaints

Good to know someone still has a sense of humor out there.

According to a report on, four people submitted complaints to the Federal Communications Commission – the broadcast regulator in the U.S. – following the broadcast.

Of those, two people complained that McCartney's performance wasn't racy enough.

The complainants said that the show put on by McCartney was boring and didn't entertain them.

I wish I had thought of this first. There's a long list of TV programs that I would like to complain about. For instance, my boyfriend was entertaining himself in a masochistic way yesterday by watching a show called "Voice of Virtue" with a strange woman interviewing a priest about how virtuous the church was to dodge responsibility for the child molestations committed by priests. He blamed movies and books--can I complain about this bullshit?

And while I'm at it, I would like to file a complaint against "Seventh Heaven" for giving me cavities.

I would also like to file a complaint against every new sitcom that has a fat, boorish husband paired with a foxy wife who is a saint amongst women. And have the writers' paychecks revoked for not even trying to do their job.

And I want to file a complaint against the Fox News Network for driving me to drink.

Nothing funny

Hunter S. Thompson has committed suicide.

Thompson could be a real jerk, of course, especially in pursuit of the funny. But always lurking underneath his sarcastic, wicked humor was the heart of a frustrated idealist, someone who sincerely hoped for a world that was better than this. I always strongly related to that push-pull in him between the cyncial desire to bury and obscure and mock everything that causes pain and the heart that reveals its hope for better a bit starkly at times. I feel it now, the push to make light of how sad it makes me feel that he finally tipped over the edge versus my desire to just admit it.

I'm not looking forward to my boyfriend waking up and finding this out.

Roxanne has a reader for y'all.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Teen idols and frenzied females

I saw a documentary this morning on Trio called "The Scream Heard 'round the World" about a phenemenon that amuses the hell out of me--teen idols and the hysteria they induce in their female fans. I've said before that I think that the frantic screaming and wailing that followed the Beatles and their ilk all the way up to N'Sync is just so much sexual repression finally finding an outlet. The whole thing reminds me of a watered-down Bacchanalia with Paul or Justin or whatever filling the role of Bacchus for these teenage girls, and that impression was strengthened hearing these teenage idols all grown up and reflecting on the past and the fear that if they let the hoardes of girls at them they would be ripped from limb to limb. I doubt anyone was in real danger of that happening, but there is a precedent of sorts, so I guess you never know.

The whole thing would be merely amusing to me if it was just a matter of a bunch of girls finding a socially sanctioned space to blow off a little sexual steam in a culture that denies that they even have such steamy feelings. But of course it's not. The interviews with Maurice Starr and Lou Pearlman, the managers of New Kids on the Block and N'Sync, destroyed any illusions one might have that this is an innocent phenemenon. Pearlman in particular seems hellbent on mining the childish fantasies of teenage girls and turning them into a formula he can feed back to them over and over again until he dies a fat, bloated millionaire. I'm afraid that the cyclical nature of these things has thwarted him for the time being, but I wouldn't be surprised if he manages to jump on the bandwagon again in the future.

The whole thing did cause me to wander off and think about the nature of these teenage fantasies. I can see why someone like Pearlman would see the whole thing in reductionist terms--the things that all teen idols from the Beatles until now have in common are pretty easy to figure out from a quick perusal. Get some young, pretty boys together and write them some song with over-the-top lyrics glorifying the charms of a female love object in such general terms than any girl can project herself into the role of the object, and there you go. A lifetime of crushing disappointment when you find out that no one is willing to compromise his/her pride that much on your behalf is all ready to go.

Is that why these young girls feel compelled to embarrass themselves by screaming and crying? Is it a sort of compensation, a way of telling the boy that is prostrate before them in their fantasy worlds that they return the feeling? The more I think about it, the likelier that seems to be the case. Boy bands really do fit into the chivalrous mode, with the songs about begging for affection a precursor to the ritual of proposal-engagement-wedding where a young man defers to his bride by asking her for marriage on one knee and in exchange he gets an elaborate ceremony where she is delivered to him by her father.

I think more than anything, the lack of ambition in the fantasy the teen idols provides is what saddens me. In the interviews with adult women who were swooning teenage girls once, they repeatedly said that they dreamed night and day that they would one day be Mrs. Paul McCartney, David Cassidy, whatever. There's a naked honesty in that fantasy, and it shows that girls are still absorbing the cultural message that a woman's value is measured only in relation to men.

Weekend round-up post

Sorry about the lack of posting. I've been really busy this weekend, though naturally I haven't gotten one damn thing done I intended to do this weekend. I did manage to see roughly one million bands play, though. I also got to have lunch with a high school friend and her husband on Saturday. They were down from D.C. to go to a cousin's wedding and so I took them to the sort of restaurant that can only crop up in Austin--Mr. Natural, a vegetarian Mexican food restaurant that actually has really good food.

Austin may be the easiest town in the country to be a vegetarian in. Oh, I'm sure that other cities have tons and tons of vegetarian food, but those cities probably don't have the benefit of being smack dab in the middle of Texas, where eating is a holy activity and where a bunch of different strains of Texas and Southern cultures and their foods comingle. Add to the mix that there are like 3 restaurants for every person here, because this is a town where everyone is single, doesn't cook ('cause it's almost pointless for one or even two people) and needs lots and lots of places to meet up with friends. And then add in that a huge percentage of people are vegetarians. You pretty much have to have some vegetarian dishes on your menu if you want to capture the lucrative market of young, single people--even those who eat meat have friends who don't, meaning that they will favor places with vegetarian dishes. It's inspired a lot of creativity.

While we were dropping my friend and her husband back off at the hotel, we passed the bride and her entourage as they swept out on the way to the wedding's location to finish getting dressed. They breezed passed us with serious faces, well as serious as one can look with your hair in curlers, under a scarf. They were toting giant tackleboxes full of make-up and duffel bags full of hair supplies, contemplating their task of dressing, make-up and hair with a mix of determination and giddiness. They were artists and this was their gallery night.

The rest of the weekend was dominated by shows. And of course the people-watching at shows. Last night we went to see Ben Bell and the Stardust Boys at Ego's, a show that had an eclectic crowd--older people from the neighborhood (Ego's is a hole in the wall with the crappiest parking in town), a flurry of young women drinking wine and tequila sunrises, the usual crew of goofy musicians, a gaggle of college kids who weren't there to see the show and us. Ben was in full guilty pleasures mode, and we got to hear covers done in western swing style of everything from "Staying Alive" to "Wish You Were Here". It turns out that disco translates really well to western swing.

We left after the show, while a bunch of indie dudes that looked like they had just happened to wander in started actually setting up on stage. It caused me to wonder if those guys went out of their way to look like they just stumbled in there, or if they were really just stoned and therefore couldn't look like they had a purpose if they tried. We went to Beerland and saw the Ugly Beats, a band that may not be doing anything really new but makes you not give a shit because they are so damn good at what they do.

And now I've got a pile of laundry and some reading and non-blog stuff to catch up on.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Friday cat blogging

Max gives a raspberry to the forces that delayed his cat blog. Posted by Hello

Credit where credit is due

The emails and blog posts about PEEK turned into quick action on their part.

You may notice the new additions to our baby blogroll. While feedback to PEEK has generally been very positive, several readers -- many of whom are bloggers themselves -- have expressed disappointment at the paucity of women and people of color in our blogroll, a regrettable error for which we apologize. The blogroll was posted as a reflection of our reader survey and was not an editorial determination of the blogs or subject matter we find most important. So, in an effort to correct this inaccurate reflection of our focus, and the blogosphere in general, we humbly offer a handful of the blogs written by women and people of color that are, and will remain, on PEEK's radar, and assure you that the coming days and weeks will see more of the same. I'm heartened by the concerns and tenacity of our readers and their willingness to act on them. It's that yearning for dialog that makes the blogosphere the most exciting and dynamic development on the media landscape! -- Evan

I am really heartened by this, and flattered that this blog is one of the new additions. And I'm going to throw my support to them for taking the criticism so well and blogrolling them myself.

Women don't really want to be free, you see

I just got around to reading this article in Salon where a bunch of wives of men who contributed to a book on the subject of commitment get a chance to offer their side of the story. I'm sure it's an interesting book, and I hope to god it isn't as dedicated to trotting out the stereotype that men have to be cajoled, deceived, or forced into committed relationships with us lowly women as this article leads one to believe. One interviewee, Danielle Mattoon, seems to believe that women crave matrimony and men fear it.

Women find a sort of solace in a certain amount of solidity; they eagerly move toward these things that bind them to the world, like a husband and family. And men see it as a taking away of their freedoms; for them, each step is a reduction of their liberties, whereas women find certain amount of liberation in knowing where they stand.

You know, it would be interesting to gather up an informal survey asking people who are married or in committed relationships who pushed for commitment. I'll bet you'd find that it's not nearly as much woman-pushing/men-fleeing as you'd think. I'd hazard a guess that half of people would say that no one pushed, it just happened. And the other half would be divided up evenly between who was the one who asked for a commitment and who was the one who agreed. Though I wouldn't call it pushing--my boyfriend "pushed" for the commitment from me, but it's not like I was fighting him on it or anything.

If you're a single woman and you want to get a rise out of people (and do, it's fun), tell them that you don't think of yourself as a settling down type. This is especially funny to do to a man who is fixing to take a drink of beer. Well, if you're a mean person like I am, it's funny. Emphasize that you like to be "free". When you're a woman, people won't even pretend that being "free" from monogamy means anything but that you want to slut that shit all over town.

I'd almost rather hear people be upfront and spread the bullshit stereotype that men like to sleep around by nature while women like to knit over the fire. It's even more insulting to talk vaguely of freedom and say that men cherish it more. That means both that women stifle men and that women don't mind being stifled. Whatever--I assure you that women cherish their independence and their personal space as much as men do. And, to make it worse, a lot more women lose a lot more of their "freedom" to marriage than men, if only in free time, if nothing else. "A Room of One's Own" was written nearly a century ago and still people want to believe that women don't long for their freedom from domestic commitments.

And as for "freedom" as a euphemism for being able to sleep with whomever you please, well, truth is that it's human nature both to desire many different people and to want your partner to want and be with only you. These two feelings are not unrelated. However, good, old-fashioned male privilege has created a situation where men feel relatively free to express these desires where women have to toe the line a little more and be what men hope we are. And straight men, of course, hope that we don't have a roaming eye. And a few fools actually seem to believe the "rather be knitting" myth.

Male privilege in this department has been whittled down considerably over time. Men can pretty much no longer expect to get away with philandering while demanding fidelity from their wives, so that's a start. But there's still many bad attitudes that need rooting out. The myth that women crave marriage and men crave freedom helps reinforce male dominance in a way that's especially cruel, since it's so personal. After all, when negotiating the myriad of compromises that go on in committed relationships, it's awfully helpful to have your partner feel like she should be grateful that you even bothered to show up in the first place.