Mouse rant blog vent mouse.

Friday, March 25, 2005


Sticking this at the top for those who may feel lost.

I will be blogging permanently at Pandagon. The fate of Mouse Words is still in the balance--for now I will be having mostly duplicate stuff at both blogs, which means that you can just blow off trying to comment on this Blogger piece of shit and direct your comments to Pandagon. I'm really excited about this opportunity to add ammunition to the "women bloggers question". Mostly I'm happy to have an opportunity to subvert the dominant link hierarchy from a blog that has a whole lot more readers than Mouse Words ever got.

Here's my introduction link.

Edited to add: Sorry for de-linking you, Ross. I thought your site was broken, but it was my button. I'll add you back.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Jesus hates a long distance runner

Well, I was going to write about the California state court's sudden bout of common sense that led them to overturn the anti-gay state laws, but I'm sure everyone has heard the news. Instead, since I have been deluged with requests to do so, I'm going to make fun of this article about why Jesus wept so see a woman kick a soccer ball.

For quite a long time, women resisted the feminist call to play sports, since they just weren’t interested like men were. But this didn't sit well with the feminists; they felt this was the fault of male oppression. In the name of “equality,” feminist leaders poked and prodded and pushed women to join the games, until women in droves finally succumbed to the pressure.

I know it's hard to see in this photo, but in the background, if you squint really hard, you can see the feminist overlords holding whips and sending secret messages to the US team not to try to make a break for it. What looks like faces of truimph in this picture, then, can actually be read as cries for help--no, don't make us accept that trophy! We want to be good Christian housewives. Please, no!
One of the trends in schools is the participation in sports by women; therefore it shouldn’t surprise us that so many Christian daughters today participate in sports. But is this really all that bad?

Of course it's bad. For one thing, there's evidence that girls who participate in school sports are less likely to fall pregnant during high school, which means they are less likely to be married off by the time they are 21 and set to the task of popping out pups until their bodies give like Jesus wants them to.

I propose that sports greatly hinders the development of godly, Biblical, feminine character. Parents today expend extraordinary amounts of time and energy taking their daughters from one sports event to another, week after week, even to the point where it exhausts the family and family resources. The fruits we see are that today’s Christian women are often ill-prepared to be Biblically obedient wives and mothers.

If a girl gets raised in a family that treats her and her interests as if they were important and worthy of time and resources as if she were a son, she'll grow up to be that woman who actually sits down at dinner to eat instead of hovering above her husband all night making sure he's satisfied before she dare sneak a bite in the corner of the room.

Even some of the traditionally more feminine sports like gymnastics and ice skating are now influencing women to be more masculine.

The Bible talks about women developing a quiet and gentle spirit; I think sports fosters anything but that. They instead develop a competitive and contentious spirit that will cause them to have great difficulty in their marriages.

Translation: she'll backtalk her husband and say unfeminine things like, "Oh dear, I don't think it's the best idea to go to the school board meeting and say that you want our kids to be taught that dinosaurs and humans lived together." That's the sort of thing that can cause a marriage to go sour fast.

Most men I know admire a woman who is reasonably healthy and fit; they are also attracted to a woman who is somewhat “soft” and cuddly. This does not mean she should be delicate like tissue paper; no, a woman should be reasonably strong, and the normal duties of life will make her that way.

You'll get all the exercise you need lifting a baby in and out of a crib. Since you understand that family resources don't go to females, you won't need much exercise since you won't be eating enough to get fat anyway.

Female athletes also sneer, wince, push, and fight just like the men. I notice these things all the time in pictures in our hometown newspaper. The sneers are most obvious; they make young women very unfeminine. The masculine uniforms and sweaty bodies aren’t very attractive, either.

Women aren't to sneer, wince, push or fight for fear of offending a husband; apparently men sneering and pushing women is perfectly alright. Sports are not sexually attractive to middle-aged ministers, and as we recall by the Sermon on the Eyeliner, Jesus exhorted young women to remember that their ability to turn on old farts was their ticket to heaven.

Of course, the problem is that while it's not sexually appealing to men to be an athlete, it's also way too sexually appealing to men.

"A telltale sign of paganism is nudity. Historically, a primary means for introducing nudity into a culture has been through athletic competition which emphasizes form, movement, and the prowess of the body.... Christians should be wary of any educational process or cultural event which justify nakedness on the grounds of athletic freedom...."

It shouldn’t be a secret that women’s sports promote immodest attire. The pressure to be immodest is just one more reason women should avoid sports, and in many cases we shouldn’t even watch women’s (and sometimes men’s) sport competitions. The Apostle Paul often referred to how athletes ran races “unencumbered” (i.e. nude), because of the Greek influence in sports during his day. Based on what Mr. Eldridge writes, the question of whether or not women should participate in sports should be easy to answer.

So many questions pop into my head all at once reading this. Women participate in sports nude? I guess by this guy's reckoning, clothes that don't encumber movement are overtly sexual and pagan nudism. Which does cause one to wonder how fundies can have sex or even take a shit without falling into Athena worship, seeing how both activities require a lot more nudity than gymnastics.

But all that is less important to me than the picture he uses to illustrate how women in sports are all man-tempting nekkid harlots.

Weight lifting

If this sort of thing gets the juices running, then maybe we need more, not less porn, to desensitize men and make them suitable to be let out of their cages.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Mouse is a punk rocker

Volsunga has a post up about one of the topics of endless fascination for youngish fans of the music--what is and isn't punk? Luckily, she's a smarty-pants and has insightful things to say. I probably don't, 'cause I was never really that good at convincing people that my enthusiasm for any strain of punk rock was any more profound than, "Fuck yeah!" I think, however, there is something to be said for that attitude.

The commodification of punk has been an irritant to the faithful since it first made its way over to England, if not before. It's just being pissy and ignorant, though, to take the simplistic view that treating punk rock as a commodity is Evil--all art is a commodity, and it's just a matter of who's got their hands on the controls. Or, even just if you like it, really. People who are enamored of "ironic" retro fashions, like I've been since I was a teenager, we might kid ourselves into thinking that because we're not feeding the current loathed beast that dictates trends and fashions that we are somehow making a statement or above it all somehow. Truth told, I just like certain older styles for aesthic reasons and while some friends of mine are irate to see retro fashions like full skirts and fitted waists coming back into style, I'm just happy that there's more clothes for me to buy and that everyone is looking so damn cute lately.

That doesn't mean I don't have my limits. For instance, I loathe clothing that is the modern equivalent of playing peasant--I will die before I pay $100 for a pair of jeans that are faded and torn. Fashions like that make mockery of people like me who have to work for a damn living and who buy our jeans brand new and dark indigo and wear the new ones out at night to look snappy and wear them on Saturday afternoons at the grocery store when they have holes and stains, not because we're making a statement so much as we don't see the point in throwing out something usable until there's a big hole in the ass.

That's what's so damn infuriating about the commodification--the trendy, inauthentic, money-grubbing commodification--of punk, or anything else for that matter. (Hip-hop has suffered the same fate of being run through a corporate commodification machine and then being sold back to the gullible at a huge profit margin.) It's inauthentic and therefore it's a mockery--Ashley Simpson wears a shirt that's supposed to look punk but costs more than I spend in a year on clothes and sings her shitty music for ungodly amounts of dough while I know people who may be geniuses that are couch-surfing and it seems like the corporate fucks are blowing raspberries at you , turning symbols that once had meaning for you into the same old crap that you were retaliating against in the first place.

The saddest thing is that they've caused us to eat our own. Pop punk styles are charting now, and that means that it's not cool anymore and you're embarrassed to like the music that you always liked before, that gave you joy. We're chasing our tails and it's time to stop, take a breath and remember that the most important thing is not if you're rebelling, but if you're simply being honest. I find myself wanting to dig deep and write about how my favorite band is something other than The Ramones, something more obscure, hipper somehow. But that would be a lie--The Ramones really are my favorite band, and yes, their music means something to me.

The music causes wall-building and debates about what is or isn't Punk, and while that's tiresome and stupid it is indicative of a certain passion that should be lauded. For instance, because of punk I was well-versed in the DIY aesthetic, and because of that blogging made immediate sense to me and that's why I jumped into it with two feet. A thoughtful approach to the philosophies behind it should be empowering, not frustrating. And of course, if you're empowered you feel that you are the person who decides what is and what is not, and so these debates become empty and meaningless. Who says what's Punk? Well, I do, that's who.

If you deny it, it only makes it worse

You Are Pride !
You're competitive about most things. And feel
to constantly assure yourself of your greatness.
But hey,
It's not all bad - maybe you are that good! You
look presentable, and are well educated because you
wouldn't let
yourself be any other way. People are intimidated
of you though,
so try and tone it down a bit - after all nobody is

Congratulations ... You are the 'Best Kept' of the
7 deadly sins!

?? Which Of The Seven Deadly Sins Are You ??
brought to you by Quizilla

From Trish Wilson.

Texans don't bite and David Brooks reveals the source of his neurotic fear of pussification

The swarms of the hip are beginning to crowd into my fair city even as the students have left for Spring Break. I expect the usual weirdness in dealing with those from out of town who suspect that Texans are abnormal, like this blogger who I found from BlogBites.

We really, really hope all those stories of Austin being "cool" and "hip" and, mostly, "liberal" are true -- we get scared of potential conflicts with Red Staters once we pass Pinole on 80. Can they see it in our eyes that we support same-sex marriage, universal healthcare and public transportation funding?

Ah yes, we are different from everyone else, but we actually don't bite. Even people who have different politics from the blue-staters (and Austinites generally don't) will not actually descend on you to rend you limb from limb, so no fear, gentle hipsters from out of state! The worst you have to worry about is that we will laugh at you because we have never fully managed to truly accomodate The Fashionable and we find people wearing carefully put together hip outfits to be sources of amusement. Seriously, one year we had a good five minute gut wrenching laugh at the expense of a poor Manhatten-dweller who wore a greasy black cowboy hat with the brim carefully curled up.

We'll have operatives on the ground for the duration, bringing you team coverage. Is Shiner Bock better than Anchor Steam? Can the Salt Lick stand toe-to-toe with Brother-In-Law's? Will their burritos have rice and beans? And if Paris Hilton and Gavin Newsom start making out in Union Square, and no one's there to blog about it, will they make a sound?

Answers: Yes; you won't eat there because The Salt Lick's not actually in Austin; yes and better than yours; and no, they actually implode on themselves.

Speaking of exaggerrated differences between different parts of America, David Brooks tipped off his readership to the reason behind his obsession with both red staters and reinstating the boot on women's necks--he's a big weakling who drinks decaf.

I could have guessed it anyway, but it’s always nice to hear a confirmation of one’s suspicions. Brooks is a wuss and he wants women, liberals and red staters to fix him. As someone who manages fit into all three categories, I don't know which of Brooks' expectations of people like me is most offensive--that we women should turn into dependent baby machines to make him feel manlier, that we liberals need to castigate ourselves for being cheese-eaters so that Brooks can have some company for his guilt-caused misery, or that we red-staters should mojo our gun-toting, cheap food-eating toughness over to Brooks so that he can briefly experience what it's like to be a real cowboy. Of course, monsters like me--independent women (bad) who are middle Americans (good) that voted for Kerry (bad)--may not actually seem possible in Brooks World. Perhaps I should write him a letter notifying him of my existence and see if that causes his head to explode.

For fuck's sake

The question of questions makes the big time. I am sorry I ate my breakfast already as my stomach is burbling. At least this article puts the blame squarely where it belongs--white men dominate the top run of the blogosphere because they like each other so damn much.

Let's all hope that the top rung white men can refrain from guilt-tripping themselves for a day after reading this before moving onto more important task of linking endlessly to each other.

On the personal side, because being female I have to de-politicize this blog with personal ruminations, the hours spent building my garden in the springtime sun have turned me into a painful ball of pink. Every year I forget that I am as pale and sensitive as I am, to the point where I wonder if I should have been a Victorian heroine dying of TB instead of a modern woman who actually gets some exercise, and every year I manage to get sunburned while it is still officially winter. But I have no cause to complain. Yesterday my mother called me from the hospital, where she is currently recovering from the mother of all gardening accidents. Yes, a rattlesnake bit her hand, through her gloves no less, while she was pulling weeds. Luckily, she is still with us and still had the energy to ask polite motherly questions about my life. She would deny it, but she really is a tough lady.

Apparently they don't razor the bite open and drain it anymore to treat snake bites. They have drugs called anti-venom now that they give you instead. I suggested to my mother that she embrace our new chemical millenium and use chemical weed killer in the future on her garden. I also suggested the manufactor should make a new Weed and Snake Killer especially designed for West Texas.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

The finished product. This morning, this was all just grass. Posted by Hello

Porn and gardens

This review of the new Legs McNeil oral history, The Other Hollywood, is really interesting and makes me want to read the book. McNeil put together a really compelling history of the rise of New York punk with just interviews, and I'll bet that this book probably does live up to they hype. Hopefully, this will be the book that gets people past the partisan style debate about porn--it's great, fulfilling, fun/evil, exploitative and addictive. Interview both Nina Hartley and Linda Lovelace and get at the crux of the matter--like anything else in this world, different people have different opinions on it and one experience does not negate another.

One thing in this review really struck me as a reflection of what I always say about porn, or more specifically, about the misogyny in it--that it's a symptom of a larger social problem, not a cause. The review states that the book makes the case that Linda Lovelace was horribly abused by her husband and that everyone else stood around and ignored it. But also that they didn't ignore it because they approved, but for much more mundane reasons than that.

And here is where the exhaustive chronicling of "The Other Hollywood" becomes not just compelling but important: In the back-and-forth between the couple on the page, and with memories from other actors and crew members thrown in, it becomes clear that Lovelace might have indeed been rather flaky or dumb or, in Traynor's word, a "dingbat," but she was also so battered physically and emotionally that it is little wonder that she felt coerced. And because her co-workers saw her problem as a private matter, they stayed out of it.

It reminded me of how abuse is ignored in every other arena of life, how people view it as a "private" matter and stay out of it. Traynor would have beat his wife no matter what they did for a living, and the people around them would have ignored it regardless of what they did for a living. You can argue that the sexual nature of the work made the abuse and you could have a good case. But it's more important to see the abuse that occurs in porn not as a cause of the abuse in the rest of life, but as part of the fabric of the rest of our society. A symptom, not a cause.

Anyway, sorry about the lack of posting today. I spent most of the day not building a new Mouse Words, though progress is being made on that front, but actually engaged in the real world task of building my garden. This is the first non-rainy weekend we've had in awhile, so we took advantage. The Man of Mouse is handy as hell and he also managed to tear apart a spare bench we had and turn it into a 2 foot tall wall for a massive compost pile in the time it took me to bag five 30 gallon bags of leaves to toss into our brand new compost pile. We then tilled and partitioned off an 8X8 foot area for the garden, composted it, put a pathway in it and planted tomatoes and some herbs. More herbs will be planted during the spare moments in the week of SXSW.

Pictures of said garden to come.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Doh! Correction time

I am not good on calling out terrorist actions, am I? Yesterday, I expressed worry that the murder of that judge might be a terrorist attack, and I was wrong. And on the flip side, I wrote about the kid who went to jail for writing zombie stories earlier and guessed that his family was overreacting. Wrong again. Looks like the kid was lying.

However, Poole's teachers told police they had not assigned such a story or talked to him about it -- and had they seen it, they would have been obligated to report him to authorities.

And, as it turns out, Poole's writings include no brain-eating dead folks.

What they do contain, Winchester police Detective Steven Caudill testified yesterday, is evidence that he had tried to solicit seven fellow students to join him in a military organization called No Limited Soldiers.

Now, they may or may not be overreacting, but I'm actually inclined to agree with the authorities in the case now, because now we have evidence that this kid was lying to conceal what he really did. And the nature of the lie--one designed to maximize his own fame and manipulate and deceive well-meaning people--indicates that this kid might have exactly the sort of superiority complex that previous school shooters have.

Elayne Riggs has more.

Class and warfare

The Slactivist has a useful suggestion for resisting the current transfer of money from the poor and the middle class to the rich--strip down credit card ads on campus. The credit card companies want nothing more than to have the students paying off a lifetime's worth of debt by the time they graduate and it's sick. I know people who are in their mid-30s still trying to catch up with charges they rang up before they turned 21. That's all this bankruptcy bill is about, making sure that nothing even slows down the process of transferring the wealth of the nation from the hands of the many to the hands of the few and getting us on track to being feudal as soon as possible.

Avedon Carol wonders what the Bushies think they're going to live on once they have finished pillaging our nation's assets. I have been wondering the same thing myself for a long time now--exactly how do Bush and his cronies picture their goals for this country? I mean, even though I'm thinking they want what is essentially a feudal society with them as the landed gentry, they are foolish to think that's going to happen if Americans aren't producing anything we can pay up in entitlements. Of course, the entitlements won't be a direct payment, but through a system of supressed wages, cronyism, and usury, the end result will be the same if they manage to get everything they want. But the lack of actual production inside our borders seems to be problematic for that theory.

Yesterday I was standing in line at 7-11 and sort of idly looking at the green "Support Our Troops" wristbands and I noticed that the box they were in said, "Until they come home." Meaning, I guess, wear the band until the troops return. And it made me sad to think about all the people who have purchased one of these bands and earnestly wear them until certain loved ones return from Iraq. To wear such a thing is to have faith that the troops will be coming home soon, that there is an end in sight and that the Shrub has good intentions with his war and will see to it that there is an end. But odds are the plan on the BushCo table is that once they can take enough troops out of Iraq, they will just invade another country, most likely Iran. The troops, in other words, aren't coming home.

Then it hit me--it isn't quite the feudal societies of Europe that are the aimed-for ideal, but the Roman Empire. Little fucker probably thinks he's Caesar. They don't plan to live on the assets of Americans but on the assets of other countries. A country that produces nothing still produces bodies, however, and that's probably what BushCo is thinking will be the key to getting at the assets of other countries. Take away our actual production and turn us into a military machine.....

Granted, it was a crazy thought but now that it has its claws in me, I see evidence of the plan everywhere. For instance, the sudden surge of leglislative attempts to strip women of their reproductive rights--most people tend to think it's a sop to the religious right, but viewed from another angle, it could be the first baby steps towards redefining women as bodies to produce more soliders, an attitude that's common to completely militarized societies. (Nazis, Spartans, you name it.) The almost insane push to strip Americans of their ability to stabilize their personal fortunes? Well, if you're poor, you can always join the military, now can't you?

I realize on a certain level, I'm not saying anything new--the neocon obsession with military power is the primary characteristic. Still, I can honestly say that I never thought that there might be an overall plan to turn us into a more militaristic society than we ever could have imagined. But now that I think about it, yeah, I think that there's a belief that this could be the century of the American Empire and the neocon plan for the next generation is to turn them into cannon fodder.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Weekend show recommendations

Tonight at Room 710, we're going to see the Bulemics and then later on the Dicks. A full night of bands with names you don't want to use in front of your mother.

The Weirdos are also playing at Emo's. Oops! Scratch that. According to the site, they cancelled again. Fuckers. Anyway, that means you can get into Emo's for free and the Applicators and the Ends are playing, and they are always fun to see.

Tomorrow night Beerland has a good line-up--Kodiaks, This Damn Town, and Manikin. The last two I like a whole lot, so it's well worth going.

SXSW is coming up next week and I'm planning to blog it. We'll see how well that goes over with all the activity in my house, but the houseguest that's staying with us for a whole week is also a writer, so at least I have moral support in that.

Wombs don't have rights; too bad for that fleshy thing surrounding them

All sorts of bad news on the reproductive rights front. Minnesota has joined the fight to make the sluts pay and pay some more for getting out of line and thinking they have rights to their own bodies. The House is planning to move $2 million dollars from Planned Parenthood to places that will lie to women seeking abortions and humiliate them until they accept that bearing a baby and giving it away is their just punishment for touching a pee-pee. This quote from Feministing really gets to the root of the anti-abortion rights cause.

“They asked questions about Planned Parenthood's mission, how it counsels pregnant women who come to its clinics seeking abortions and how much state funding it gets...Rep. Tim Wilkin, R-Eagan, asked why more pregnant Planned Parenthood patients don't choose to have children and give them up for adoption.”

Rep. Wilkin thinks that women are just brood bitches and doesn't see why the fine people at Planned Parenthood don't agree. Every uterus that's working needs to be, if not for the family of the woman that owns the functioning uterus, then for the family with money that doesn't have possession of a functioning uterus.

Charlie Kilian sent me this story from The Kansas City Star about more abortion restrictions being put on women in Missouri.

The bill would require abortion doctors to obtain hospital privileges within 30 miles of their clinics to continue performing abortions. It also would redefine an abortion clinic as an "ambulatory surgical center" subject to state standards for surgery facilities.

The bill also would make it a felony for someone to accompany a minor across state lines to receive an abortion without a parent's permission.

Naturally, the bill, which is set up to make it harder for women who want abortions to get them, is being pushed as by a Republican who claims she's only trying to help women who want abortions.

Rep. Jane Cunningham, a St. Louis County Republican and sponsor of the legislation, said the bill would protect women by making abortion clinics safer.

Rep. Cunningham, you know what helps women who want abortions? Getting their fucking abortions. You're not being protected from what you really want to be protected from, which is being pregnant any longer, if the doctor who performs abortions gets shut down.

The bill also tries to make it harder for young women who can't get parental notification to cross state lines and get abortions there.

Cunningham filed the bill to crack down on Missouri minors who travel to the Hope Clinic in Granite City, Ill., to obtain abortions. Illinois does not require a minor to get parental consent for an abortion; Missouri requires one parent to approve.

"I think we have to keep young girls safe," Cunningham said. "These are Missouri children, and this is just closing a loophole."

Keeping girls safe means exposing girls who are afraid of a beatdown from daddy to having to tell him that they are pregnant. Those girls who won't risk it can safely go to a back alley abortionist or safely throw themselves down the stairs or safely have their boyfriends beat them until they miscarry. Cunningham can come over to my house and I'll show her what safe things I can do with a baseball bat to people who lie and claim to be helping the very people they are dying to hurt.

As Rad Geek explains:

This is no accident. They are coming for the young and desparate first; they are the easiest to go after. They have already created a byzantine system of explicit restrictions and burdensome regulations to create a limited class of authorized abortion providers and make the conditions of obtaining an authorized abortion from them as harrowing as possible.

Well, Jesus did say that the strong should devour the weak, that strength is the same thing as morality, didn't he?

Edited to add: Fred at Stone Court thinks that the murder of a judge today might be an anti-abortion terrorist act. I wouldn't be surprised--the laudatory attitude on the right wing fringe towards the killing of Judge Lefkow's husband and mother last week is just the sort of thing that inspires further terrorist acts. And while the causes--white supremacy and anti-abortion rights--are ostensibly different ones, they aren't really. For one thing, they are both about returning control to the dominant groups. For another, the attitude that women are just breeding machines locks in nicely with the obsession that white supremacists have with lineage, etc. Hell, the notion that women's rights are a direct threat to the survival of the white race is becoming a mainstream idea lately, with David Brooks hinting around the subject in his odes to natalism.

Update on that: It looks like it wasn't a terrorist killing, but a man on trial for rape who was trying to get away.

Friday Random Ten--"The Quiet Before SXSW" Edition

Yes, I'm still on Blogger. Apparently, I need more time. Here's our marching orders.

1) "I Believe to My Soul"--Ray Charles
2) "Be My Guru"--The Hoodoo Gurus
3) "Voodoo Lady"--Ween
4) "You're Gonna Miss Me"--13th Floor Elevators
5) "Rid of Me"--PJ Harvey
6) "Bermuda Triangle Shorts"--Man....or Astroman?
7) "God Only Knows"--Beach Boys
8) "Hey Hey Ha Ha"--Crazy Girls
9) "I Don't Want to Go to Chelsea"--Elvis Costello
10) "Hit It Run"--Run DMC

Only one of those is going to actually be at SXSW--Elvis Costello. I doubt a plebian like me will be able to get into that show, however.

Edited to add: Now there's a logo!


Max attacks the grass like a tiger after an antelope. Posted by Hello

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Trying the "Desperate Housewives" thing again

Okay, this is the original article at PopMatters by Raphaël Costambeys-Kempczynski that inspired me to write this. He lives in England and watches "Desperate Housewives" and wonders a bit if this show means that American women are a bit crazy. (Answer: no more than anyone else.) He also has the misfortune to read Brent Bozell's idiotic call for boycotts against the advertisers on "Desperate Housewives" because the show doesn't promote conservative values enough, which is the only reason for television to exist in Bozell's mind. CZ doesn't get what Bozell's beef is--to him, the show is conservative, since the women on it don't really question the basic values system where women's role is to labor in the home without a paycheck.

Oh silly educated Europeans! In Bozell's world, anything that suggests that a housewife's life is anything but the pure bliss that can only come from ecstatically giving her entire self over in the service of others is man-hating feminist propaganda. This show in particular is blaphemous--it suggests that women occasionally feel that children are a burden, or that they even, and I know it sounds crazy but it's true, make jokes.

These wives and mothers hate their lives. "Ease up, you little vampire," says one as she breast-feeds. Her older boys are so nasty they run over ladies with shopping carts. The divorced housewife tells her 12-year-old daughter, "Tell me again why I fought for custody of you?" The girl says, "You were using me to hurt Dad." Mom kisses her on the forehead: "Oh, that's right."

Cracking jokes is the sort of non-feminine behavior that we surely don't need to be exposing Americans to in primetime. Bozell also has issues with female anger in its purer form.

Scary Bree accidentally gives onions to her onion-allergic husband Rex. He said, "I can't believe you tried to kill me." She casually replies, "Yes, well, I feel badly about that."

Bozell neglects to mention that the husband in question is cheating and asking for a divorce. I would be thinking murderous thoughts, too. Of course, I'm free to do so since I'm not beholden to think of my man as the head of me and god as the head of him. It's a little difficult, I imagine, to question your own head's decision to cheat and then run off.

Well, Bozell can bitch and call for boycotts all he wants, but I doubt the networks are going to care very much for his preferred programming "Contented Housewives", a show that follows four women around their homes as they prance around them with a baby in one arm and a feather duster in the other, humming hymnals in a contented voice. Oh, I know there'd be some excitement on church Sundays, when she has to calm an exasperated husband down--in fact, every time the husband shows his face, there's a chance for exciting emotions like frustration and anger! But I don't think the networks will buy it.

Frankly, I don't think the show has a political ax to grind. Overtly conservative shows like "Seventh Heaven" suck, so they couldn't go that route. And if the housewives were always questioning their position in life, it wouldn't be believable, since they had to have bought into the whole suburbia thing to be there in the first place. It's a soap opera that treads into satiric territory. I would say they skewer the right a lot more, but that comes with the territory of writing about the suburbs. It would ring hollow if everyone in the big houses in the 'burbs were a bunch of liberals.

Panda-blogging and something to wonder about

Well, my stint of Panda-blogging (as my RL friends called it) has come to an end. There were fewer lame cracks about how remarkable it is that three people can manage to blog while be-vagina-ed than I was afraid there would be and a lot more clever jokes about the same than I thought there would be. It was nice to work on software that works and it was fun to have co-bloggers, though I don’t know how I’d handle that in the long run, because I’d be all afraid that I was writing too much and shoving them to the side. It was not nice having to deal with a troll whose testicles apparently pulled up into his body at the mere thought of an explicitly feminist writer at such a large blog and tried to rectify his problems by harassing me. But I won’t dwell on that, because it was such a positive overall experience and I’m honored that Jesse asked me to do it.

One thing that really stuck out to me in reading comments over there from those on the right wing side of the culture war was that there’s this odd tendency of conservatives to assume that because they are on the side of the angels, that older accomplishments by progressives can be safely adopted by them. I don’t know how else to put it, but most of the right wingers over there seemed to think that this fight to deny someone their rights in this day and age has absolutely nothing to do with older fights for rights, which they admit were just battles. The cognitive dissonance must really be painful.

Can anyone explain to me how people who are against gay marriage now are so damn sure they would have been just dandy with interracial marriage had they lived 70 years ago? Do the people who adamantly oppose feminists striving for wage equality and other women’s rights really think that they would have been pro-suffrage in the day? Do those against affirmative action or pretty much anything the NAACP supports really think they would have been marching in Birmingham? If they’re full of shit, who do they think they’re fooling? If they actually believe their own horseshit, if they really don’t think they’d be calling black/white marriages “unnatural” the way they do same-sex marriages now, how do they manage to believe that without causing an aneurysm from their brain scurrying around concealing evidence of their own small-mindedness from themselves?

I’m open to all possible theories, if you can get Blogger’s comments to work for you.

Blogger hates me

Double goddamit! Blogger ate what I thought was a really clever post this morning on "Desperate Housewives". I'm sick of this shit. Tonight I'm going to start working on moving Mouse Words to a WordPress blog. Any advice is appreciated.

Fuck shit piss dammit motherfuckering stupid crap Blogger shit.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

The eternal mystery of girl groups

Having a deep affection for girl groups, meaning the 60s pop type and all their bastard cousins, is one of those things that people tend not to really understand, especially at first. My boyfriend initially tended to wonder why I had a sick need for MP3s of the Angels and the Shirelles and why I had firm opinions that Phil Spector is a genius that I would like to kick in the nuts. After a simple application of playing the music all the damn time for him, he gets it now and I got out of the shower tonight to find him playing video games while listening to an obscure mix of British girl groups that imitate the American girl group style.

It's hard to explain the appeal. It feels oddly empowering to listen to it, which is hard to justify to others, considering the typically insipid lyrics of your average girl group song. (There are exceptions, of course. For instance, some Motown stuff is actually clever or moving.) The music itself is often surprisingly inventive, pulling in pop and R&B elements, clever production and even pulling on the rock and funk sounds at time. But still, it's hardly art rock or anything else you would whip out to impress people with your smarts.

Pop music should be a modern version of folk music--simple and honest, yes, but surprisingly innovative and indicative of the artistic ingenuity that is part of the human spirit and not reliant on academic training or living in artistic ghettos or being educated at impossibly exclusive schools. But pop music now is soulless and micromanaged and expresses almost nothing about us normal people's feelings, except the urge to go to the mall and buy something you really have no place to wear.

Older pop music is calculating in its way, but since no one really took it so damn seriously, there isn't all this micromanaging going on. Throw some girls in front of a mic since the public likes to hear girls sing now, some insipid lyrics about loving a boy, there you go, not much thought in the management of it. Because of that, there was a sort of weird time in the late 50s and 60s where women's voices came through with the sort of honesty that tends to make people freak out now. The effort at the artistry, their own view of themselves as musicians, the belief that even silly songs about crushes deserve a soulful treatment--all this stuff comes across and I think that's the appeal.

Even women working under oppressive management, like the Ronettes or the Crystals under Phil Spector, still had an opportunity to put themselves forward in their music in a way that Britney Spears will never get to experience. It's easy to relate to it, romanticize it. I still get a cheap thrill out of Ronnie Spector's bad girl image. She makes it all too tempting to abuse eyeliner.

Plus, it's fun. The lyrics you want to deride as silly actually describe the feelings that tend to make us battiest from our teenage years on--falling for someone, worrying about loss, navigating the treacherous path between passion and sense. There are a million rock songs by men, some by Very Serious Artists, about the very same themes. But to be female and write love songs, you have to strike a pose, embody a stereotype of sorts, make some sort of statement on your sexual status in relation to men. There aren't any female artists that are popular that don't strike a dishonest pose of sorts. (There are tons underground that do their own thing, thank you very much.) Alanis Morrisette is for the Angry Bitches. Avril Lavigne for the Kooky Chicks Who Think They're Cute. I'm not even touching Britney or Christina. A few women in hip hop sell without embracing a tedious stereotype, but even they are sadly rare.

I like the songs because they are fun love songs that are open-ended, so their female audience can relate without feeling pressure to fit a stereotype. I can listen to "Then He Kissed Me" and even think about the fun of kissing someone for the first time without feeling it makes much of a statement on my womanhood. Plus, some of that shit is damn good. I'm just saying.

The importance of feminism to liberalism

This is one of my pet topics that I don't actually write about much, because I feel like a broken record, but today I think the topic needs to be refreshed a little. Hugo Schwyzer linked to this nauseating jerk-off of an editorial that was supposed to be "satirical" but was pretty much just the writer, Michael Lewis, bragging about how he talked a smart, beautiful woman (Tabitha Soren) into giving up her career in order to be just the Missus. Believe me, those men who don't see a big problem with that kind of ego-stroking, if I wrote an an article bragging about how I found a man to give up fame and fortune in order to stay and home and look after my children, you'd be pissed, too.

Anyway, Hugo left this comment about his views on marriage and staying at home to raise children:

I'll catch some flak for this, but in my opinion one of the greatest gifts a husband can give his wife is the freedom to choose to what degree she wishes to remain in the public sphere after they've had children.

Meaning that men should be gracious if their wives want to keep their jobs but willing to shoulder the financial burden should their wives want to stay at home. I told him he was being classist in the comments, and I was right. Most men don't have an opportunity to be the big champion for "letting" their wives work or the big supporter for "letting" their wives stay at home; most married couples need two incomes to get by, so the whole subject is irrelevant to their personal circumstances.

The problem with comments like this is that men in this country are already oppressed by the American Dream, the male version, at least. As far as I know, there's no female-centered version of the American Dream. In the American Dream, our hero Ward Cleaver is a Real Man because he has a job that pays for him to have a big house, a family and a most importantly, a wife who is financially dependent on him and under his direct control. This is how masculinity is defined for so many, many men in our country. The problem is that fulfilling that dream of having a woman sequestered away at home tending to you and your children is that it's out of the financial reach of the majority of men.

Of course, what this means is that we have a huge population of men in this country that both believe that in order to be Real Men they have to have a wife that is both at home and subservient, but out of financial necessity, they have wives who work. And it's hard to get subservience out of someone when you can't tell them, "Well, who makes the money around here?" There's a lot of resentment there.

In step the Republicans, who can't give these guys what they really want--jobs that pay enough to have a family with one income--but they can give them an endless list of people to scapegoat: welfare moms, illegal immigrants, disobedient women getting abortions, gays who want marriage when you can't even have the Leave It to Beaver one you wanted for yourself, and so on and so forth. Plus, the President is all too willing to be a walking phallic symbol for all sorts of masculine fantasies of power to be projected on. Maybe you can't be Ward Cleaver, conservative men of America, but at least you can pretend you're Dirty Harry.

I see some pontificators who have toyed with the idea of "compromising" with the Resentful Male Republicans by kicking feminists around a little, I mean, "compromising" on women's right to an abortion, etc. This strategy isn't going to work. Every attempt to assuage those who vote from anxious masculinity is just going to be topped by the Republicans, who I have no doubt would go so far as to strap a codpiece on President Bush and parade him around riding on the back of a woman on all fours, especially if they could do it out of sight of the female voters they are trying to lure by saying "children" a lot.

Gender issues are not of secondary importance to conservative politics at all--they are front and center. Ultimately, the resentful NASCAR dad voters are voting for a return to unquestioned straight male dominance. And when liberals ghettoize "women's issues" or suggest that they can compromise with the right-wing on what rights to "let" women have, it reinforces the belief that male dominance is the way of the world, and thereby weakens the liberal position.

There's been a lot of ink spilled as of late bemoaning the lack of direction and lack of goals for progressives. This sort of thing really perplexes those of us who concentrate on feminist progressivism--I have no problem whatsoever stating what my direction and goals are for feminism. Feminists want full legal equality for women, parity between the sexes in every aspect of public life, social relationships between men and women based on equality, the rights of children to be acknowledged and respected, the right of women to use every tool science has to offer to maintain control over our bodies, wage equity, social policies to help parents, and healthy social attitudes towards sexuality. We also have tons of plans and ideas that we'd like to implement. You want goals and ideas? Feminists got 'em.

Liberal Democrats need to enthusiastically embrace feminism, and have the courage of our convictions. Courage is what attracts voters--if you don't think that's so, then look at all the women who vote against their own interests because they are lured by the confident way conservatives put the boot to the neck. Oh yeah, and in case we forgot, women are half the voters out there, but women voters are wishy-washy about supporting the Democratic party. Why? Well, because the Democrats are wishy-washy about standing up for what women want. Enthusiastic support for women's rights and women's needs is the best way to get the attention and support of women voters. I cannot tell you how many women I know who express feminist opinions and vote for the Republicans. They would probably be more inclined to rethink their choice if they saw the Democrats outlining programs that woudl be of a direct benefit to them.

Alas is back up!

Woo-hoo! Let's all hope that Amp's server troubles are finally over.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

This makes me feel like a clown--laughing on the outside, but crying on the inside

Reader Avalon Carthew sent me this barely coherent rant against feminism that is really a cut above your usual strawman thrashing in terms of sheer enjoyment. The writer Rachel Chunko manages to embarrass herself twice over--once for being a dreadful suck-up to male dominance in hopes to get some scraps, perhaps praise for being pretty smart for a dumb cunt, and once more for, and I can barely make myself type this, making up a fictional crowd to approve of her idiocy and injecting this fantasy into her editorial. For what purpose I don't know. It's not like it's hard to get at least a handful of smug assholes to offer condescending praise to a woman who willingly puts down other women, especially if she looks good in a miniskirt.

The crowd falls silent. Rachel Chunko steps onto the soapbox.

Something went wrong between the quiet battles fought by Mary Wollstonecraft and Mary Astell and the graceless, whimpering feminism of today. And it's annoying.

That would be my fault. I ran into the corner of a door with my foot this morning and stubbed my toe. After falling to the ground, I let out a whimper, thereby destroying all credibility that feminism ever had. Feel free to strip away my right to vote.

The feminists I know are not the strong women I hoped they'd be. In reality, they are catty and full of unfounded self-pity.

Meow! You sure showed those feminists from catty!

I'm sure feminism really does rock like a girl with dreadlocks at Lillith Fair, but I have no evidence to that end. Feminism is inherently flawed for two reasons:

Perhaps your problem is that you think rocking with dreadlocks to Sarah McLaughlan is like the height of kicking ass. But don't let me make you feel like your limited experience should have any bearing on your ability to thrash a strawman.

1. Ask a feminist what feminism is, and she'll tell you, "It's about equality between the sexes." Tell a feminist why, logically, the prefix of the movement should not be "fem" and that the concept is therefore inherently flawed, and she'll tell you you're wrong and then not be able to tell you why. Feminism should be "equitism" by their logic, but it's not.

We have our first lie. This conversation never happened, or if it did, it only happened once. Why do I say? The answer to this inquiry is obvious--feminism starts with "fem" is that we don't have an "any means necessary" approach to achieving equality, but instead choose to promote the interests of "fems" until equality is achieved.

And now some free psychoanalysis:

2. It seems as if feminists, for the most part, find themselves in some way incompetent or incomplete as women.

Yep, she used the "feminists just need some dick" argument. It's true, of course. I haven't had sex in, damn, like hours or something and already my uterus has begun to wander around, causing hysterical thoughts like, "Why the hell do women still only make 76 cents to a man's dollar?"

All neo-feminism does is dwell on the differences among people, rather than work from the starting point we're all given. In this modern environment, aren't we past the need for such pronounced separations?

Who knew that Larry Summers was actually spreading covert neo-feminism? I thought I saw him dreading his hair at the Lilith Fair.

For some reason, it's unpleasant to be reminded of the feminist dogma. There's nothing worse than people who can't laugh at themselves.

I can think of something worse--people who make imaginary supporters to applaud them.

The feminists are everywhere.

Like roaches in Houston. And like Houston roaches, we can fly, too.

I am female, strong and capable.

Well, your imaginary admirers certainly agree.

When Virginia Woolf stood and proclaimed that a woman needs a room of her own to sit and think -- that a woman does think -- it was never meant to transform into worship of the mason jar that holds Gertrude Stein's testicles preserved in formaldehyde.

I read that sentence like 15 times trying to make fun of it and then realized that really, it's circular and whole and needs no embellishment from me to make you spit your drink all over your keyboard.

It does raise the question--don't you all think that Woolf would have a blog and write an introspective, soul-searching post about how she'd like to link to women bloggers but she doesn't know any besides Wonkette?

In a gesture of triumph, Rachel throws up her arms. The crowd looks at her quizzically, and then bursts into rousing applause. She quiets them and continues.

The imaginary crowd had a very real moment there when they thought she was done and they were free, but nope, they are stuck with her longer. Perhaps she will next suggest that Frieda Kahlo painted with her penis.

Even white males are oppressed in today's society in some form or another, and so is the woman who just wants to sing Chaka Khan and be every woman.

All those women who marched on D.C. last year where marching for the right to have men who don't screw around because we're all they need. I think. I mean, what else could it have been about?

It's generally not pleasant to be around a modern feminist. She has to tell you about it.

Who do those feminists think you are, Rachel? Foolish women, thinking Rachel is some female, and that she should give a shit about women's issues as if that had any bearing on her life.

But where is the activism? She keeps talking about what she believes. But what is she doing about it?

Hear hear! I'll bet those lazy feminists are sitting on their asses right this minute.

Modern feminism is a load of crap. Conceptually, it is a wonderful force to help women through their hard times and to band together in times of fragmented strength. In practice, however, feminism falls short.

Cause we're all cats, no doubt about it. I hate all those other feminist bitches and they hate me and we just can't ever do anything together peacefully.

A joyous cry is heard from the crowd, "Finally, somebody said it!"

What bravery! My god, no one has ever had the guts to criticize a feminist before this moment in time. It is truly an act of selfless courage that is both tantalizingly feminine in its selflessness but also refreshingly masculine in its courage. Women want to be you and men will give you honorary manhood, I'm sure of it.

Feminists say they're strong, but they aren't.

It's true. I can't bench press a jar of spaghetti sauce.

It doesn't count to be sitting in a room with a feminist and to be told why you're wrong.

Persuading other women to join the cause has never done anyone a lick of good that we know of.

I drink for free when I wear a low cut shirt. Now that's powerful.

Hell, that's nothing. Suck a cock on South Congress and you can get your payment in cash. Now that's powerful.

The female body is powerful, just like the female mind. It has inspired great art, courtly love and the Wonder Bra. Let's all just enjoy it.

We feminists stand firmly against women enjoying their own bodies.

Your convictions arose freshman year when you didn't know anybody and went to a Campus Women's Organization meeting to make friends.

When you should have been letting frat boys buy you lewdly named shooters in exchange for staring at your boobies.

You're lying: You're not strong nor are you equal, because you separate yourselves.

Okay, y'all. I know Rachel is a drag what with the Boobies Are More Powerful Than the Sword crap, but look what shunning her has caused--she has to make up friends.

Rachel Chunko descends from her soapbox. The crowd gives her thunderous applause.

However, I do think the soapbox is real.

Rachel Chunko is a chauvanistic pig. Castrate her at (and no I'm not including her email address).

Castrate her?! What a sorry choice--be a feminist and be told you need some dick or be an anti-feminist and think you have a dick. But I think I'll go with the former, because otherwise I may get caught in an airport Spinal Tap-style trying to trick people.

Subvert the dominant link hierarchy

Subversive ideas found here, here, and here.

Blondesense is doing a series proving that the claims that the 10 Commandments are the basis of our law are false.

Bean has a two part post examining why victims of domestic violence have problems leaving their abusers. She fearlessly addresses the elephant in the room--it's hard to admit someone you love and trust is abusing you. Trish Wilson has a great follow-up.

Also from Trish Wilson, who specializes in divorce and child custody, this extremely important story about how "friendly parent" laws help hostile parents turn children into tools to get back at their ex-spouse. Women who have walked out of abusive marriages particularly stand to get hurt by this.

Ms. Jared hates being told that she has an inborn maternal instinct even more than I do.

Astarte defends Martha Stewart and I agree with her. Okay, Stewart was guilty. But she paid her debt to society and then some. Quit yer bitchin', haters.

Pseudo-Adrienne talks about BushCo's attempts to woo black voters by playing up the religious stuff.

Flea is having a contest to see who has the best stripper name. (Childhood pet+ childhood street, no cheating.) Here is the list of submissions. I'm Crackers Nautical, a name that would get me exactly no money in tips.

DED Space, a tennis junkie, honors Billie Jean King for Women's History Month.

As part of her plan to take over the world, Sheelzebub handed out a ton of ministries for relatively low bribes and thorough genuflection. I'm the Minister of Advice Enforcement.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Shame as a "family value"

Via Feministing, we find out that Bell is under no illusions about what the "family values" crowd thinks makes something obscene--the female form in and of itself. This ad is clearly meant to be a bit tongue-in-cheek, but even so the joke doesn't make sense unless the intended audience is comfortable with the misogynist notion that the female body is something children must be "protected" from seeing and also with the notion that keeping people ignorant is an acceptable way to keep them "moral".

John Ashcroft became a national joke when he insisted on draping a statue because it had an exposed breast, but apparently Bell thinks that mainstream America is warm to the idea of spreading shame about the female body. Any day now I expect to hear about some Christian organization getting together to close down art museums that display works that have female nudity, arguing that children can be corrupted with lust by seeing a painting of Mary nursing Baby Jesus.

And since when did such flagrant anti-intellectualism become so mainstream? I guess I shouldn't be surprised that in a nation that thinks as long as you don't tell kids what a condom is, they won't figure out the mechanics of sex and instead of fooling around in high school, they'll spend their time running church bake sales would be open to good-natured ribbing about how they'd rather have their kids be stupid than ever see even a crude drawing of a breast or genitals. Well, we can't do a whole lot about people who think that if you just pretend we're smooth down there like Barbie dolls, then that makes it so. But we can let Bell know what we think of their willingness to pander to the fragment of America that thinks Shame and Ignorance are family values. Contact them at

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Making plans

Kameron Hurley has a good post up today regarding thoughts that came to her while waiting for an appointment at Planned Parenthood. It's one of those posts that most women can probably relate to, especially those of us who didn't have a regular job with health insurance for much of our early adulthood. The organization is really successful, and it's awe-inspiring the way that they manage both to provide services to the community while also politically advocating for the population they serve.

Because PP works, they are the target of much, if not most, of the vitriol of the anti-reproductive rights crowd. There is a prevalent belief amongst The Wingnuttery that PP is cash cow of an organization, razzling and dazzling weak-minded females with their flashy propaganda about having all the crazy sex you want without ever having to bear the consequ-, um, babies that result because you can have 5, 10, 2 dozen abortions! Step right up and give PP your money, so that the fat cat feminists can have their expensive cars and designer footwear they wear to the decadent orgies they attend every night, reveling in all the cash that the abortion "business" makes. Recently, an anti-abortion nut trolled my blog trying to convince us that we'd been the dupes of the PP mind control game that tricks us into having all sorts of abortions. Some wingnuts who think that PP is an abortion mill, making cash hand over fist by performing abortion are deluded and some are lying, but none make a lick of sense. PP has probably done more than any other group in this country in preventing abortions by getting affordable contraception in the hands of people who need it. Anyone who is genuinely interested in reducing the number of abortions in this country needs to write PP a check right now.

That they are big and that they are effective explains why they are the target of so much anti-woman fervor, but sometimes I wonder if there's a little more to the story. As Kameron describes in her story, and as I recall from my broke days of going there, they have a ton of security measures and instructions all over the place on how to escape if you are attacked. PP knows from being under constant threat of a terrorist attack, my friends. I think that PP is a target for so much misogynist fury not just because they are effective, but also because of something as simple as their name.

I'm sure the name Planned Parenthood was chosen because it was accurate, and also to generate interest and empower the clientele. Nowadays, the notion that women plan when they have children is the norm, and that's created a lot of resentment. Planning is power and control.

The woman who makes plans is pretty much always a negative stereotype in our culture. Sylvia Ann Hewlett got on all the talk shows by writing a book scolding women not to plan to have their children later in life when it was easier for them for fear that they may not be able to have them, and a great time was had by all on the shows pitying women who got their comeuppance for thinking they could exert control over their own destinies only to be left childless. Even in situations where women are doing their best to fulfill social expectations, taking control is viewed negatively. For example, we adore ourselves a blushing bride, but a woman who manages her own wedding planning is going to be labeled a Bridezilla before all is said and done.

Plans indicate control and plans also indicate desire. You make a plan because you have things you want and you need to figure out the best way to get them. Every time a woman swallows her birth control pill, there's a world of desires behind that decision and the pill is one of the tools she's using to achieve those desires--a job, an education, marriage to the man she really wants not just to the first that got her pregnant, no marriage at all, a smaller family, more income to spend on hobbies, more time to herself, you name it. There's a lot of feminist ink spilled on the discussion of how female sexual desire is demonized in our culture, but even more than that, almost all female desires are suspect, except of course the desire to serve. (One reason that fields like math and science are still underpopulated with women is that intelligent women often turn their talents to fields where service is still emphasized, like medicine.)

In the book The Mommy Myth, Douglas and Michaels discuss the media beatification Bobbi McCaughey, the woman who bore septuplets. McCaughey's pregnancy was an exercise in exactly the masochistic feminine sacrifice demanded of women by patriarchal institutions like the Baptist church she belongs to, giving up her mobility and even comfort (she had to be contorted into all sorts of positions to prevent labor), giving her entire body over in service to others. Her story was offered up as a not-subtle rebuke to your average pill-taking, condom-pushing, abortion rights-supporting American woman, with her plans and desires.

One step forward, two steps back

I wrote a long post praising my state and especially my city last night, and then I went out with some friends to take in some badass country-western swing music stuff, where my friends and I had a moment of pure Texas arrogance laughing at the non-natives attempt to dance to the music. (I can't dance, but then I don't try, either.) Feeling momentarily like all was right in the world, I returned home to read at Norbizness's blog that the Austin police department has once again waded into armpit-deep shit again, getting caught cracking jokes about a fire at a nightclub that has a predominantly black clientele. Thanks, assholes. Nothing I like more than living in a state with a racist reputation.

The way that a handful of racists can ruin the reputation of an entire community is the ultimate example of the old saying about a bad apple ruining the bunch. The city of Austin isn't really in danger of losing its good reputation, but the Austin police department has a really horrible reputation at this point, and this story is just going to make it worse.

David Neiwert writes about racism, fascism, and various other hateful philosophies that linger on the edges of American society and how people who have these beliefs infect the rest of the community with their hate. Hate crimes in particular leave wounds in a community that don't heal--Neiwert has observed on his site and in his books that a notorious hate crime in a small town can badly mar a town's reputation. I can attest to that. I saw a perfect example of it a couple weeks ago when sitting around talking about random stuff with some friends when my boyfriend mentioned a girlfriend he had a long time ago who was from Vidor, a small town in East Texas that is notorious for harboring KKK members. And you could tell that everyone was thinking the same thing, because merely being from Vidor leaves a taint on a person, even if that person is personally anti-racist.

Jasper is a name that people here actually whisper now, as if by lowering the tone of our voices, we can disassociate ourselves from them. If I were from Jasper, I'd be tempted to lie about it to people I meet to avoid having them wonder if underneath my normal exterior I harbor hate in my heart. People of all races now floor it when they have to drive through Jasper or Vidor.

I tell people all the time that the stereotype about white Texans--that we are all a bunch of Bible-thumping, racist, illiterate morons--simply isn't true. But sometimes I feel it's an uphill battle, since so many of my fellow Texans can't get it together and drop the racist shit. From small stuff like the morons in the Austin police department who couldn't check their glee at seeing a black nightclub catch fire to the big stuff like the moron in the White House who thinks that our government and military are there to help him maximize his friends' profits, regardless of loss of life and liberty, I feel like I spend all my time apologizing for stuff I didn't do.

If this were a fair world, I would have a bullwhip and a chance to take out my frustration on those amongst us who are hellbent on making the rest of us look bad.

Oh, the humanity!

Alas, a Blog has been kicked off their server. Details here. It may be a week or so before Ampersand can get it fixed, and I guess we Alas fans will have to suffer without the crazed, heated feminist debate and discussions on what superpower you would choose. In the meantime, if you can help Amp, please click that link I provided and read through it.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Yeah, this is Texas, but....

A anonymous commenter asked me to write about why I like living in Texas. I've talked about this before, but it's always fun to hit on it, at least for me. Fear not, soon-to-be-grad-student! Austin is a hell of a city, not the least because I posted about the Whip-In's new blog and the owner offered to buy me a beer in the comments. It's that sort of town. Big and yet small.

Austin and the Hill Country generally are not like The Rest of Texas, and Texas is pretty different from the rest of the South in a lot of ways. Ways that I won't go into here, because my Texas pride would make it sound like all other Southerners are toothless inbred hillbillies, and that's really not true. I'd be lying and I don't like to lie.

Texas is a big state, which people from the outside know, but don't really know. When I met my boyfriend's dad and stepmom, who were down in Beaumont visiting his sister, they asked how far away it was to El Paso, where I was born. I said, "Oh get on I-10 and drive about 850 miles." That much space means that there isn't one Texas culture by any stretch of the imagination.

Austin is a city where almost no one is actually from here, much like Denver. That means that the veneer of Bohemia always lingers in the air--most people here have escaped something, remade themselves somehow, and being vaguely ashamed of the podunk place you escaped is practically required. If you don't have podunk origins to make fun of while out with friends, make some up. The town motto has been "Keep Austin Weird" as of late in retaliation towards the rapid development that has plagued the city since the dot com boom and has strangely not tanked along with the dot com bust. I think that people here are a bit paranoid about the surge of yuppies who want to call South Congress "SoCo". They have been trying to rid that neighborhood of 60 year olds in Birkenstocks and rednecks who shoot cats from their front porch for nearly as long as I've lived here and they have only succeeded in getting rid of a porn theater.

We have kept the best parts of Texan culture and tried to discard the rest. Here you do say "ma'am" and "sir", which kills my boyfriend's parents. Hell, I'll just list some positive aspects of Texas/Southern culture:
  • The word "y'all" and the phrase "fixin' ta". All other Americans suffer from the lack of these phrases and struggle to address groups of people or express the idea that something will happen in the indeterminate but decidedly near future.
  • Texans are better looking than everyone else. It's a proven, indisputable fact. Austin betters most of the state, 'cause we drink wheatgrass here, too.
  • We eat good. We have BBQ, Tex-Mex, and even really fantastic Vietnamese food here. My friends from New Jersey didn't know what queso was when they moved here, but they are thoroughly in love with it, though they still insist on calling it, "a bowl of hot cheese".
  • For all that everyone else makes fun of Texas and the South for our supposed lack of cultural contributions, just imagine what kind of crap you'd be listening to right this minute if Southerners hadn't courteously invented jazz, country, and rock and roll.
  • Cowboy boots and cowboy hats. However, you have to live here a set amount of time before you can pull it off.
  • Texan-speak is a weird mix of bluntness, fanciful metaphor, and mannerly obfuscation. Yes, we are both blunt and obscure at different times for different reasons. For instance, I knew some people who named their dog Puta, but would not actually call her by her name. It's a pain in the ass, but we think it's charming.
  • Texans pride themselves on having a rowdy sense of humor. I'm a prime example.

But we in Austin don't refer to the rest of Texas as The Rest of Texas for no reason. You'll be relieved, grad-student-to-be, to hear what we reject.

  • The scary beauty culture isn't part of Austin. The whole culture of big hair, tons of make-up, architectural underwear, cheerleading, and beauty pagents has been rejected by the women of Austin. However, if you like to wear big hair and make-up, we respect that, too. Especially if you have flair.
  • Austin voted for Kerry.
  • Austin prides itself on its diverse population and we even embrace a lot of more urbane cultural things, though awkwardly. We have an art museum, for instance, even if nothing can compete with Willie Nelson shows.
  • We encourage you to be as eccentric as you wish.
  • The city has a vibrant downtown that is easy to find, and is not spread out like Houston or confusing like Dallas/Ft. Worth.
  • Even though we like country-western, the music scene here is so diverse that it's hard to describe. Suffice it to say, the musicians here are really creative, able to combine "Texas" with other styles to various degrees and usually with a lot of success.
  • We don't do "family values", though this is a great city for kids. The average age is really young and we're goshdarn slutty. Or, as the lifestyle magazines would put it, we have a good dating scene. I think some people who read my blog think that I am exagerrating the amount of cruising, hitting on, dating, breaking up, and general dating drama that I see. I'm actually downplaying it.

Austin probably has the best music scene in the country and we have a burgeoning film geek scene that is a sight to behold. Don't be afraid of being bored or being set upon by wild-eyed rednecks here. My friends and I stand in my backyard drinking beer over the grill and saying, "Yep" alright, but we aren't rednecks.

A revelation

My grandmother did the coolest thing ever--she sent me a congratulations card for winning the Koufax. No matter how old I get, it's always nice to know that my grandmother is out there, rooting for me.

The thought of which reminded me of how old I actually am. I turned 27 back in September, which means that I only have 6 months left to become a famous rock star and then die in a mysterious heroin-related incident, leaving behind millions of bereaved fans who turn me into the icon of the generation while occasionally debating if I was really murdered. I think I might have fallen a bit behind in pursuing this goal. I have never even tried heroin, much less learned to play an instrument or sing. I think I may to give this up.

However, there are many other worthy goals to work on. For instance, I really need to learn to cut my bangs in such a way that leaving the house isn't an exercise in shame.

The horrors of the world are never-ceasing

Nicholas Kristof has an article in the NY Times today about the ongoing tribulations in the life of one Mukhtaran Bibi, a Pakistani woman who was gang raped by six men in front of the entire community. The whole thing apparently was some kind of "punishment" for her brother. Anyway, Mukhtaran prosecuted her rapists and ended up using her compensation money to start a school.

Things just can't lie still. The government has overturned the convictions of six of the rapists and have set five free to go back to where their victim lives. She is fighting the decision but ultimately wants to stay home. If she does, I hope she has a shotgun, but I know that's just me imposing my American thinking on her.

Which is actually why I don't write about international issues very much; I don't think I have much useful to say. In this case in particular, the gang rape issue is difficult for me to comprehend. It's a phenomenon that cuts across cultural barriers and I just can't understand it. I mean, in theory I can, I know all about groupthink and male entitlement and all that jazz. But still, to consider what a feat of cowardice it must be to follow everyone else in victimizing someone..... It makes me ashamed to be human, it really does.

Anyway, I thought I'd draw your attention to the story. Kristof can grate in that he feels like he's a huge hero for writing about international women's issues and needs to constrast himself favorably with feminists so you get the point, which makes him seem a bit insincere about his concern at times. But this article is really well-written and comes highly recommended.

10 things you need to know about men

From iVillage and by Richie Sambora. Sambora couldn't tell you shit about playing guitar, and he's a guitarist. So why do we assume he knows something about being a man? As usual, we women are presumed pretty clueless when it comes to men. Men, however, know everything they need to know about us.

Men know what women want. But if we gave it to you all the time, then you'd want something else and we'd be screwed. We know you want us to be sensitive and romantic and sweet. We can do that. But we want to keep you guessing. If you had sex and diamonds every day, pretty soon you'd be sick of sex and diamonds -- and then where would we be?

Ah yes. The relationship-as-war model. The philosophy behind it is that if you give the other person what they want, even things that seem mutually beneficial like sex without head games, then the other person "wins" and you must "lose". The downside to this? The crying and fighting. The upside, however, is that when you make someone cry, that's how you know they love you.

We actually like to be romantic. Believe it or not, we like to cuddle and kiss as much as you do. We just need the occasional nudge. Preferably, the nudge won't come while we're watching football or The Sopranos. And, when you want us to be romantic, remember: There's no such thing as a bad G-string.

Upon reading this, I imagined Sambora in a G-string and, no offense good sir, but there is such a thing as a bad G-string. I mean, romantic gifts are nice and all, but when I buy clothes for my guy as a romantic present, I prefer--

Oh, I'm sorry. I think he meant that if you want him to be romantic you should parade around in a G-string. Hopefully after the kids go to bed, of course.

We know you call and hang up. But it's cool. Being checked up on is kind of flattering.

Nice to know that he still dates 15-year-olds. I guess it's hard to get grown women who have some pride to flatter you like this.

If you say, "call me," we won't -- at least not for a few days. It doesn't mean we don't like you; it's just our way of playing hard to get.

The way you know he likes you is he acts like he forgot your name and only called you when masturbating got kinda boring. If he calls and generally acts like he enjoys your company, he doesn't like you. Sweet....Thanks for the tip. Luckily, whether the object of interest is a game-playing asshole or not, the way you should behave is exactly the same. Only date people who are polite enough to show interest by returning calls promptly. That way, the polite ones get dates and the game players have to rethink their strategy. Simple!

We do masturbate -- almost as much as you do.

Ya' think? And here I was thinking that all those advertisements for movies on the Internet with nekkid women in them demonstrated a sudden, inexplicable interest in European coming of age art films. Well, at least now I know that the gamine ingenue hasn't actually given way to modern marvels of plastic surgery.

We want to make you feel good, both physically and emotionally, but you have to tell us what to do.

Okay, well to start off, don't play games by withholding sex or "forgetting" to call to get women under your thumb. Having your self-esteem lowered to make you more pliable doesn't feel as good as you'd think.

We wouldn't care what we look like if you didn't care what we look like.

However, there's every reason to believe that if women didn't want to impress men, the world would still have the Wonderbra.

We want you to be our mothers.

Heather Locklear is a saint. And now I have the unfortunate image of her man calling her Mommy and I'm all upset.

We don't mind it when you dress us.

If he asks for a sponge bath next, I hope Locklear takes a moment to remember that she is a stunning beauty who has exactly zero reason to fear that she's headed for spinsterhood if she suddenly gave up playing Airplane in order to get her husband to eat.

We're terrified you'll break our hearts. All men are afraid of getting too close, too fast. So, if we seem standoffish, it's not because we don't like you.

The logic behind getting someone to think you don't like them in order to get them to stick around is pretty much the same logic in use by people who claim that they don't want to wear a seatbelt because they'd rather get "thrown free" from the car in an accident. Getting tossed into a wall at 70 mph isn't a great way to survive, and making someone think you don't like them isn't really the best way to get them to stick around.

Alas, one thing Sambora neglects to mention is if he believes in the Pussy Oversoul, a concept described by zuzu here and, coincidentally, the name of my new imaginary punk band. Though I am keeping the name Clitty Litter in the pocket, just to be on the safe side.

Post in haste, repent in leisure

The very thing that is considered the weakness of blogs can be its greatest strength--the immediacy of it and the way that information travels along citizen-driven lines. Yes, it's chaos. Yes, it's messy. But it means there is always someone there to correct you if you are wrong and if you use this to your advantage, it can be a great tool.

There was a rapid amount of information that flooded the blogs about statements made by Bradley Smith from the FEC where he floated the idea, probably to get a reaction shot, if you will, of regulating blog endorsements of candidates. My initial inclination was that this whole thing was aimed at Daily Kos--political witch-hunting and muscle-flexing power plays to scare people are pretty much the M.O. of the most powerful people in D.C. right now. There were a ton of plausible interpretations of such statements.

Commenter Patrick pointed me to Electrolite's posting on this. As of yet, this has been the best tip yet. There's a good chance that this is a "drown it in the bathtub" strategy, an attempt to get liberals to support stripping the FEC of its powers. You know, similiar to the bullshit they are feeding young people now about Social Security, that the Boomers are going to spend all our money so we have to take it back. The purpose is to kill Social Security. Or the No Child Left Behind Act, an act specifically designed to get people to support pulling funds from needy schools by "flunking" them in order to help dismantle universal education.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Friday Random Ten--"Who Told You Tomato Was a Vegetable?" Edition

Lauren is our leader now.

1. "Lonely Girl"--The Lovettes
2. "Atomic Fuck Machine"--Cafe Del Mar
3. "From the Gut"--Husker Du
4. "Up All Night"--The Gore Gore Girls
5. "Best Friend"--The Dandy Warhols
6. "Not Living At All"--Mr. Airplane Man
7. "I Love a Man in Uniform"--Gang of Four
8. "Master and Dog"--Quasi
9. "Hand of Doom"--Black Sabbath
10. "Berzerkertown"--The Plugz

Woe to the young conservatives

In today's Texan, there's an editorial denouncing the people who swarmed the YCT table on the West Mall on Tuesday to denounce the organization for the ridiculous cry for help that was "Capture the Illegal Immigrant Day", run by the North Texas branch. The UT Austin branch, no doubt after carefully considering what it means to be tainted with the racism of their fellows, decided the best thing to do was set up a stand celebrating Texas Independence Day. We hope they refrained from putting any anti-Mexican sentiments in their signage as they celebrated kicking some Santa Anna ass in 1836.

Well, according to the editorialist, it was a violent nightmare of Latino supporters with crazed looks in their wily eyes attacking innocent conservative Texas-lovers with projectiles. Or something like that.

At one point, I managed to wrestle my way to the front of the crowd and was hit in the back of the head by candy. Yes, candy. The "peaceful" protestors who will simply not stand for violence or hate had taken YCT's candy and baked goods and were literally pelting the members with them. I even got to hear one charming girl yell at the YCT chairman, "Why won't you fight me? I came here to fight. I want a fight."

Okay, okay. Throwing candy and yelling isn't right. They shouldn't have done it. And that girl should have remembered to be charming above all else. Ack. The sarcasm took over again.

Apparently, the anger that was building up in the crowd was due to a rumor that the UT Austin YCT was planning on having their own illegal immigrant hunt. Instead, they got a display on our state's founders, the guys who moved to Mexico and then decided that they'd really rather just own Texas themselves and revolted.

So, the lunacy continued. Conner arrived midway through and answered questions for the better part of two hours. I listened to her patiently engage six people simultaneously in a discussion that had veered off into a debate as obscure as historical racism in the Catholic Church. Come again? What happened to Texas independence?

Indeed. Racism and Texas Independence have nothing to do with each other, well nothing more than lingering issues between Mexico and America that come out in battles over immigration would have anything to do with each other.

The Mexican laws banned slavery, required the Texans to become Roman Catholics, and forbade further settlement by Americans in Texas.

The Texans requested changes from Santa Anna, but he ignored their requests. The Texans then defied Santa Anna, revolted, and declared Texas to be independent.

I wish that people who would come out to protest the YCT would hold their tempers, I really wish they would. But because a few people threw candy does not, by any stretch of the imagination, absolve the YCT of indulging racist displays and then playing dumb about it.

More wingnuts theories on when you can tell something is a rape

From No More Mr. Nice Blog, we find out that Kansas attorney general Phill Kline has finally addressed why, if he's really only looking for child rapists, that he's only looking at abortion records and not at birth records of underage girls. Kline said, "Screw it. You caught me. I don't give a rat's ass about getting child molesters off the street. This is about making the baby-murdering sluts pay for escaping the Biblically mandated pains of childbirth in return for their wanton behavior."

Just kidding. He's never going to tell the truth about what he's doing.

Instead, he offered up some standard issue wingnut reworking of psychology. You see, you can tell the sex was consensual if the girl carries the baby to term.

Kline said he doubted many child rapists would allow their victims to carry out their pregnancies. And he said his office would not prosecute consensual sexual activity between children of similar age.

"I have stated that repeatedly; we are looking for the child predators," Kline said. "You do not find child predators standing in a hospital as their prey gives birth to the child that they father. That's common sense."

Abortion clinics and rapists, working in hand in hand--first you take a girl's god-given virginity and then you take away her chance at motherhood. Kline and company may not be able to stop rape, but by god, they aren't going to let the doctors deprive girls of the chance to carry their attackers' children.

The best part of this quote is the just so story about childbirth--every girl, even the ones as young as 10, that have given birth in Kansas has a loving husband pacing back and forth in the waiting room in a blazer with his tie loosened, smoking a cigarette and hoping for word soon that his beloved has given him a son. Mr. and Mrs. Cleaver, with the Mrs. just pubescent.

Despite this compelling view that abortion indicates rape and childbirth indicates domestic bliss, I have to admit that I am confused on what the official scientific view of abortion and rape is from the anti-choicers. I mean, just the other day, we learned from a knowledgable fellow down here in Texas that rape victims don't need emergency contraception because they can't get pregnant anyway. I'm guessing that the Texas Allianance for Life wouldn't support Kline, because they know that there are no rape victims in abortion clinics. Right?