Thursday, January 29, 2009

Drug free's the way to be

So random musing:
Have you noticed that since the beginning of the "War on Drugs" there's be a rampant over-prescription of mind-altering drugs (depression meds, meds for ADD and ADHD, antibiotics even), that has been to such an extent there seems to be an epedemic of mental disorders in this country?
Is it just a coincidence or is there some meaning behind the "you shouldn't do drugs unless you're doing our drugs" message in the media?

And now for something completely different

My internet BFF Ren has a piece up today called Casual Brutality wherein she defends herself against agency-denying asshats who accuse her of not being able to recognize brutality because she likes rough sex (and ohmigod, actually sometimes gets paid to participate in it! Slut! Slut! WHOOOOORE!!!), the implied "truth" in these claims being that people who don't just have fluffy-bunny lesbian sex with thier unshaven life-partners are compeltely desensitized to every-day violence because they aren't overly sensitive to consensual violence (that's actually none of their damn business). K... what?

Before I go further, Ren is a human being; a woman with agency who happens to be employed in a manner that some people find... distasteful. She, however, does not. With her agency intact, her ability to give consent recognized by her industry (and codified in contract because her model release thingie says what she'll do and what she won't), that tells me that she knows the difference between rough sex and brutality -- also between consent and lack of. But, of course, I'm not the kind of person who judges others by their employment, but rather by their words. Because she is someone who is incredibly well-spoken and genuine (as difficult as that is on the internet), I have no qualms about taking Ren at her word.

So that's my defense. Now for my analysis of this "casual brutality" non sequitur.

First of all, who came up with this term? They ought to be locked in a classroom with 30 of the country's best English professors and forced to learn the definitions of words like "casual" and "brutatlity". There's no such thing as "casual brutality" because the act of being brutal in and of itself is emphatically not casual. Only sociopaths think that they can casually do something brutal. You don't casually kick a puppy until it yelps in pain, then continue kicking it until it bleeds, then toss it up in a tree so no one knows what happened to it. There's nothing casual about that act, and only someone with severe psychological deficits could construe it as such.

Now, this idea of "casual brutality" is not that which is mentioned above, but rather it is defined by the asshats who came up with it as, essentially, something that people might take part in for fun that others might find to be excessively violent. Like rough sex (consensual). Like violent video games (not real). Violent movies (also not real). Angry music (wtf?). And that participation or enjoyment of any and/or all of these things leads a person to be desensitized to things which are truly brutal like rape, actual street violence, actual war, or being screamed at/abused by a partner. The inherent flaw being the conflation of two things which are in no way the same.

Angry and/or rough sex, including BDSM, (whether for a hobby or profession), is not the same as rape -- why? Because consent is inherent. It's also not brutal because if you say "ow" (or use a safeword, or say/do something that is the signal to the Dom to stop because you're gonna freak out or are freaking out, whatever), the Dominant partner will stop. It's not even casually brutal because, at least in BDSM, the entire idea is to keep things safe and sane while exploring and expanding the bond between two people in a way that also explores and expands one (or both) partner's ability to withstand pain -- that's an over-simplification, of course, but the point remains, rough sex is not brutal no matter how far you take it.

Rough sex can become brutal if a safeword is called and no action is taken to heed it. I don't know how often that happens, but when it does, it becomes rape. But of course, how is someone who is so desensitized to "casual brutality" able to tell the difference between violence to which they have consented (rough sex) and that to which they have not (rape)? I mean, silly little women who engage in this sort of behavior can't tell the difference! That's preposterous!

And while we're at it, soldiers don't know the difference between being in theater and playing Halo 3. Chefs don't know the difference between cooking and watching the Food Network. And every boxer who has every lived also beat the crap out of everyone they ever knew.

You see the difference? I sure as fuckin' pancakes do. You cannot conflate actual brutality and actual violence with controlled environments where perceived brutality and perceived violence are just that: a perception. The true "casual brutality" is running around the internet making outlandish statements that deny a person's agency (and in some cases livelihood) because they are engaging in practices you find objectionable. So long as there's consent, there's no brutality. So long as there's consent, it's none of your damn business.

And don't fucking say that a person who enjoys perceived, consensual violence is desensitized to true brutality. That's fucking idiocy.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

High-five, Ashlee

Ashlee Simpson criticized fat-shaming media after said media criticized size 2 Jessica Simpson for "easing up on her fitness regimen" and having a "decidedly fuller figure".

Ashlee said:
"Is this something you would say to your wife, daughter, mother, grandmother, or even a friend? I seriously doubt it. How can we expect teenage girls to love and respect themselves in an environment where we criticize a size 2 figure? Now we can focus on the things that really matter."
Fuck. Yeah. And yes, current pictures of Jessica Simpson show her as being less gaunt, with full face and bigger tits (as if that was possible... heh). Sure, she may have gained a little weight. So what? Good for her sister for defending her, and defending young girls who are affected by the shaming of a size 2 figure.

Ah yes... the bad old days are here again

There's something about listening to Benny Goodman that makes a national/global depression slightly more bearable... I don't know why, but I think that we're in for another Swing/jazz revival, and it couldn't come at a better time. Play on brotha-man...

In other news, when people stop buying real estate, developers stop building, and architects stop designing. And receptionists at architecture firms are laid off. It is an inevitable truth that the receptionist is always one of the first to go when the economy contracts and squeezes a business. As a receptionist, I saw this coming. As someone who will not be doing reception for the rest of her life (even the rest of this year), I was able to come to terms with it right away and decide that it was time for me to jump with both feet into the world of being self-employed.

Because I was planning to have my Mary Kay business be my primary income while in law school (so that the Schmoogie wasn't wholly supporting me, something I cannot even fathom asking of him -- and to his credit, he insists I have some kind of income while in law school, which may seem callous, but it's really a good thing as it demonstrates how important my independence is to him), this is a good time for me to start growing my business and really getting rolling. I've got a plan in place, I'm excited, and basically, if all goes to plan I'll be working slightly less (more time to volunteer), and making about the same amount of money.

I'll also be listening to Benny Goodman. You should too.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

"Or as I like to call it, the Raging Hadron Collider"

This is a public service announcement: If you're making dick jokes while watching a History channel program about stars, black holes (heh heh), and particle colliders -- it's been too long since you've had sex.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Sunday Morning Thankfulness

I'm so thankful to have a feminist in the Whitehouse.

"It is time that we end the politicization of this issue. In the coming weeks, my Administration will initiate a fresh conversation on family planning, working to find areas of common ground to best meet the needs of women and families at home and around the world.

I have directed my staff to reach out to those on all sides of this issue to achieve the goal of reducing unintended pregnancies. They will also work to promote safe motherhood, reduce maternal and infant mortality rates and increase educational and economic opportunities for women and girls."

Friday, January 23, 2009

Contemporary Art 1: Propaganda and Art

Last year Shepard Fairey (formerly known as "the Obey Giant guy") went from Art Star to well... "that Obama poster guy", and people who more-or-less understood his work (but not necessarily the impact or context in which it functioned) argued about the merits of it. Art or propaganda? Establishing, for some reason, that the two are mutually exclusive.

There are a lot of artists whose work functions dually on this level. Fairey is joined by anonymous street artists like Banksy, and the kids who have nothing better to do than to scale buildings and bridges in search of the next tag. This is the next wave of contemporary art. Street art has taken on a life of its own wholly separated from fine art, and recognized by few, if any, in the art establishment.

It's just that, those contemporary artists whom many of us look up to started as street artists (and those such as Banksy continue solely in that vein). And yet, most street art is considered "dirty", it's called "graffiti" and removed or covered up because of some societal morality that states that art does not belong on the street, but behind glass, a safe distance from those who might find it offensive.

Even still, your average museum or gallery will not host works that it finds controversial, so artists are left with two choices:
  • Start your own gallery -- this costs and obscene amount of money, and most artists, (despite the common convention that only artists who have money will make money), do not have obscene amounts of money.
  • Make it on the street.
Street art, unlike gallery art is cheap, but it's also fleeting because more often than not, it's going to be removed or covered up, although, you might still see an ObeyGiant sticker here and there, or stencils of the Year Zero flag on sidewalks. Interesting enough, but the ObeyGiant stickets as well as the Year Zero "Art is Resistance" flag were propaganda devices.
prop⋅a⋅gan⋅da –noun
1. information, ideas, or rumors deliberately spread widely to help or harm a person, group, movement, institution, nation, etc.
2. the deliberate spreading of such information, rumors, etc.
3. the particular doctrines or principles propagated by an organization or movement.
By this definition, pretty much everything is propaganda, but most people don't operate from this definition when they're talking about something being "mindless propaganda" or how it's illegal for the US government to "propgandize" to the people (although, make no mistakes, it is legal for the US government to propagandize to the people of other countries... don't know why). But let's consider the dictionary definition, since we're talking about art (we'll consider the political definition in "Contemporary Art 2: The Political is Personal").

Street art, by its viral nature and distinctive style is, in a manner of speaking, propaganda. Taggers use a spray can to say "I was here". Street artists, similarly, plop down a stencil or sticker in order to further enforce the idea contained in their work. For instance, in 2006, you couldn't go anywhere in Seattle without seeing The Bald Man and being told that he was watching you. (In the image at left, you can also see the remains of the compeltely unrelated ObeyGiant.)

"What does it mean?" I once asked one of the artists responsible for The Bald Man.

"To remember that you're being watched," was essentially the response. In 2006, remember, news was just coming out about the Bush Administration's warrantless wiretap program (and we found out today that everything was being monitored all the time), so it was a just reminder from a couple of street artists mounting a campaign that spread through Seattle and much of Washington State.

Evocative of nothing less than the Big Brother posters that we read about in
1984 (and saw if you watched the movie), you really do get a sense that The Bald Man campaign was intentionally propagandistic. But aside from the relics of the early half of the 20th century, most propaganda is created and promoted through art and artists on the street -- and most of it is as a reminder of what propaganda has been used for in the past.

There are more endemic forms of propaganda (although, most people call it advertising or FoxNews), that are intended to get viewers to hold a particular thought like "I like soda" or "I should be thinner" or "Dick Cheney really was right about WMD", and these forms are meant to benefit the propogator. Art as propaganda is meant to benefit the viewer, and that's the real difference between the two; or, for the sake of this discussion, the difference between advertising and propagandistic art.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Obama's statement on Roe v Wade

Good. He heard me.

"On the 36th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, we are reminded that this decision not only protects women’s health and reproductive freedom, but stands for a broader principle: that government should not intrude on our most private family matters. I remain committed to protecting a woman’s right to choose.

While this is a sensitive and often divisive issue, no matter what our views, we are united in our determination to prevent unintended pregnancies, reduce the need for abortion, and support women and families in the choices they make. To accomplish these goals, we must work to find common ground to expand access to affordable contraception, accurate health information, and preventative services.

On this anniversary, we must also recommit ourselves more broadly to ensuring that our daughters have the same rights and opportunities as our sons: the chance to attain a world-class education; to have fulfilling careers in any industry; to be treated fairly and paid equally for their work; and to have no limits on their dreams. That is what I want for women everywhere."

via Broadsheet.

The 36th anniversary of Roe v. Wade and the future we were promised

My friend Tom Brislin (of the NJ band Spiraling) wrote a song called "The Future", wherein he laments that "this is not the future we were promised/this is not the future we were counting on", and while I can't speak directly to whether he's getting political with this song (he's got a history of writing songs that sound political, but really aren't), I really feel like "The Future" has been the theme song for the last decade. So as I Blog for Choice for the very first time, I want to consider the future we were promised and how we can make that a reality, thereby relegating my friend Tom's song to being a mere relic of the Bush Administration.

The theme for this year's Blog for Choice is "What is your top pro-choice hope for President Obama and/or the new Congress?" and what I want probably isn't all that different from what most pro-choice feminists want: preserve our right to choose when and whether we will have children; encourage birth control and the use of condoms in developing parts of the world, especially where HIV and AIDS are rampant; end sexual slavery; end or at least reduce federal funding of ineffective ideologically driven (rather than fact driven) abstinence-only education; end the ability for health care providers to refuse to give women and girls Plan B, or even birth control pills; and stop conflating my right to choose when and whether to have a child with the right for a health care provider to choose to refuse me that right. In America, you don't have the right to refuse someone the ability to exercise their rights. Or at least, in any other arena no one has that right.

As it stands now, and for some reason people like to argue with me on this one, women do not have complete medical sovereignty over their bodies. This is a fact. Whenever there is legislation telling me what I can and cannot do with my body, I am denied sovereignty over it. Where women are forced to have the consent of their husbands, fathers, or the random guy they fucked one night and the condom broke, in order to have an abortion: those women's choices are limited, and their sovereignty denied. This isn't an article of my "world view" here, it's a fucking fact. If someone tells me, an adult, that I cannot do something without the permission of a man who is not my doctor, my rights are being abridged.

There's this bullshit about parental notification too. I know that a lot of people, including my beloved mother, think that parental notification is a good thing. But I don't. I don't think it's a good thing for legislatures to force children to tell their parents things, not in the least because it, rather than protecting the rights of good parents, unjustly rewards bad parents. If I had gotten pregnant as a teenager, I would have told my mom, law or no law, because she had raised me in an environment where I knew I was safe. I would not have told my father because I knew that I would not be safe doing so -- but Washington State law would demand it. Some people argue that teenagers are children, and as children they don't have any rights, but that's bullshit too. Others still argue that you need parental permission for all medical procedures, so why should an abortion be any different?

Abortion is different because women get killed for having sex out of wedlock. Women get killed for getting pregnant out of wedlock. And I know people are going to tell me that doesn't happen in America, but I guarantee you that it does. Just because they don't talk about it on the news, doesn't mean it doesn't happen.

What I find so much more insideous are these spousal notification laws, which essentially say that a woman is the property of the man who impregnated her and if he doesn't consent to the termination of that pregnancy, she has no agency, no sovereignty, and cannot have the procedure. Blatant sexism. Women aren't wombs with legs, we're human beings with rights and in the words of the late George Carlin, if you think the rights of a fetus are more important than the rights of woman, you try to get a fetus to scrub the shit stains out of your underwear for 25 years without complaining about it.

My hope for the pro-choice proirities of the Obama administration and 112th congress is that their priorities actually be pro-choice. It is possible to lower the abortion rate while making sure that women and girls have their rights intact and recognized -- Bill Clinton did it. It is my hope that President Obama will look at his girls and decide that they own their bodies, not him, not their future husbands (if they are heterosexual and marry), but their own. We need to end this archaic tradition wherein women don't have a say over what happens within them; we need to end the tradtion of women as property and "walking wombs", so that we can tell other parts of the world to knock it off too.

My hope is that in the next 4 (read 8) years, the whole world becomes more pro-choice, pro-woman, pro-child, and pro-family. You can't be pro-child and pro-family when you refuse funding for low-income women to get prenatal care. You can't be pro-woman when you refuse a woman sovereignty and agency over her body. You can't be pro-family when you refuse to allow some kind of funding for childcare so that mothers can work and, instead of having all of their money going to childcare, actually being able to save money for their kids' college, or some kind of rainy day fund -- or birthdays, groceries, and rent.

This starts with making it absolutely clear that there MUST be equality in the health care system. And while a lot of conservatives will prattle on about "on-demand abortions" (and we can't even get on-demand fillings for god's sake!), when women have the same rights as men to insist they have a valid medical procedure done without any interference from someone who isn't a doctor advising them in the same manner they would for a root canal, we'll have reached another step toward equality.

The next thing is making sure that women who want children can take care of those children. And that those children have health care, education, food, clothing, a home, toys, and emotional security. The future we were promised, with all of its glittering hope, begins with parents being able to take care of their children and foster growth and integrity.

Maybe in a world where every child is a wanted child, we will have our jetpacks and flying cars.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

I don't know if it's really sunk in yet...

FORMER President Bush.

Feels so good to say. Go on, say it. FORMER President Bush.


Some of the reviews:
" has once again surprised me with one of their products; The Chia Obama Planter. To merely call the "Chia Obama," which grows an afro, tasteless, would be a gross understatement. I would think after the Obama Halloween Mask problem that had in Oct. '08, they'd be more prudent in choosing what products they will offer on their site. Once a company that I, both, enjoyed and admired, I'm very disappointed that has chosen to peddle cheap and vulgar garbage."
It matters not to this person that, a) does not make the stuff that is sold on its website (this one is made by Joseph Enterprises, Inc) by vendors, and b) this is actually kinda funny. I'm unaware of the "Obama Halloween Mask problem".
"Regardless of being a caucasion man writing this review, I maintain that this product is racist, tasteless and insist that it be taken out of inventory by A twisted effigy of our 44th President that, when seeded and watered, grows an organic afro? Horrible. This is a product that, if marketed at all, should be urged toward it's only possible consumer demographic: Angry, rural, conservative, cryptoracist Sarah Palin voters. Please remove this product from your inventory."
"A twisted effigy"? Are you supposed to burn Chia pets now?
The Schmoogie said, "Whatever. If someone made a Chia pet of me, I'd buy it.'d have to be a full-body Chia pet..." and asserted that Obama would probably laugh at it. But look at the history of the Chia pet: you have the Chia Garfield, beloved pasta-eating cat; Chia Scooby-Doo, beloved sandwich-eating coward; Chia Buggs Bunny, the cleverest, most imitated cartoon character in history. And now, the Chia Barack Obama. Was the Chia Garfield made to mock people who like cats? Or to mock Italians? No. It was made because it would sell.
Chia is all about kitsch. For those unfamiliar with the 50s era art term, "kitsch" describes something which is adorably stupid, that makes you cringe and laugh at the same time. That's all this is. No insult is meant. No racism is present (for the record both the Chia Scooby-Doo and the Chia Buggs Bunny also grow alfalfa-spout afros, and I'm pretty sure the Chia John McCain would too -- the Chia George Bush would grow alfalfa-spout Gitmo electrodes out its ears, though). It's funny and stupid, and I want it. If that makes me a racist... that's the dumbest thing I've ever heard.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Sunday Morning Thankfulness

Wow... it's totally not morning anymore. Heh.

When I was 5 my mom gave a child up for adoption. She did this because she was a single mother, recently divorced, and my father had just remarried and was having a child with his new wife. She didn't think it would be fair to either of her children if she tried to raise an infant and a 5-year-old under those conditions. I know she has other reasons, but those are the ones she's talked to me about.

Over the past 18 years, every once in a while she would wonder what Michelle's life was like. We'd talk about her, and were sure that she was in good hands; she was sure she made the right decision, and always hoped that when Michelle turned 18, she would come find us. She is now 18, (although, her adoptive parents renamed her), and my mom occasionally did a search for her on Myspace.

This week: results.

She sent a friend request to a girl in Oklahoma saying "you remind me so much of my youth".

The girl replied "Did your name used to be [my mom's name when she signed the adoption papers]? My biological mother lives in Washington State and I've always wanted to meet her." Evidence was exchanged, and all parties were sure that this reuinion was true.

It's kind of amazing, really. A social networking website has made our family whole again. I'm tearing up just thinking about it. This is not to say that the siblings I grew up with (my father's children) are any less valuable, but my heart is so much fuller now that my mom and I have been reuinted with my long-lost half-sister.

And it's all because of Myspace. Thank you Myspace. On behalf of myself, my mom, and my sister.

Friday, January 16, 2009

May the lord bless and keep George W. Bush... far away from US!

Today is the last Beer Friday of the Bush Administration, and for that I would like to offer up the above toast. However...

I cannot wait to celebrate Barack Obama's inauguration. I'm elated. I worked so hard, as so many people did -- I yelled and screamed, I prayed, I paid, sweat, swore, bled, and could not disconnect myself from the internet long enough to actually have a life that wasn't completely connected to news media. On election day I spent 6 hours walking around Everett neighborhoods with my dog, making sure that people were voting for Barack, but also supporting other Democrats in Washington, like Governor Gregoire. As says above, we weren't fightin' for nothin'.

I was 15 when George W. Bush was appointed president (which is the correct term since after the confusion over Florida's votes, George W. Bush sued to have them stop the vote-count there, and while the Florida supreme court said "no, count the votes", the US Supreme Court said "don't you dare", and stopped the vote count, thereby instering itself into the process and appointing Bush president.) George W. Bush has been president all of my adult life. I campaigned and called and canvassed for Kerry in 2004, but maybe not hard enough?

And for the last 8 years I have protested, rallied, railed, made "shave your Bush for democracy" posters, promoted liberal/progresive talk radio, listened, thought, read, and done everything I could to make sure that I was fighting back against the war, the re-instatement of the Global Gag Rule, the ban on stem cell research, proposed bans on same-sex marriage, more war, more death. I cried so often... when Huricane Katrina destroyed New Orleans, killing somewhere around 2,000 people, and Bush was eating cake with John McCain. When Israel attacked Lebanon (something that we didn't cause, but certainly acquiesced to), and killed all of those people, and Bush stood impotently by not wanting to interfere with the Second Coming of Christ. When bin Laden was surrounded on three sides in Tora Bora, and somehow he magically slipped passed us. Video after video. Security alert after security alert. Presidential address after presidential address. Gaff after gaff. Dick Cheney lurking in the shadows of trees on the White House lawn. Bush being the "commander guy".

My entire adult life I have been fighting against this man and his world view. His perception of the way things ought to be: black and white. You end terrorism by killing terrorists. Getting rid mushrooms by pulling off the heads and stomping on the stems, nevermind that there's a whole network under the ground, and you don't get rid of a fungal infection by just killing the fungus: you have to replace it with something good or something bad will grow back.

And now, well, it's a new day. The world didn't end under Bush's watch, but it's sure hanging on by a thread. As we join hands in the next several months though, we can bridge the gaps of inequality and injustice, and bring the world back... maybe even make some progress. We can reduce unwanted pregnancies. We can reduce terrorism at home and abroad. We can provide new opportunities not just for ourselves and our children here in the US, but elsewhere in the world. We can form new friendships with people who had disagreed with us before and come to an understanding that, while we may not always agree, we can still be friends.

Barack Obama is a symbol, to me at least, that the world is not evil. George W. Bush, while not evil himself (and I do believe him when he said he thought he was doing right by us -- he just lacked the forsight and intellectual curiosity to be able to predict the outcomes), wanted us to believe that the world is full of evil. That may be, but when you operate under the assumption that everyone is out to get you, you miss opportunities to forge new friendships, to better yourself and help to better others. So while Bush wanted to "fight the evildoers", Obama wants to talk to the friends of these so-called evil-doers and see if they can help us bring these people to justice.

Not good and evil. Justice. Not black and white. Justice. It's important to see nuance. It's important to be able to tell the difference between someone who is actively trying to hurt you and someone who is letting the injustice happen; that person will be more likely to actively try to hurt you if they liked the old villain, and disapproved of how you handle them. By accepting huge numbers of "collateral damage" deaths, we create more terrorists than we kill.

By accepting that private industry can do the government's job, we say that it's okay to have two classes of Americans: those who can afford the cost of industry, and those who must rely on the defunded public sector; that it's okay that a kid whose parents have money gets an education, while the kid whose parents are poor does not. However, in this new day, my success and achievement does not come at your detriment.

I don't wish George W. Bush any ill, but I won't miss him. Neither will 70% of the country. Nor, I'm guessing, will most of the rest of the world. Sorry George, but you failed at being President too. Don't let the shoe hit you on your way out.

Mmmm... abortion [drool]

Krispy Kreme offers one donut "of choice" per customer to celebrate the inauguration of Barack Obama.

Hilarity ensues.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Update: hard drive failure

Catastrophic. Nothing could be recovered for less than $500, and there was nothing on my hard drive that was worth more than $500. Many important images are online or on the Schmoogie's computer, if not on the external HD but I hadn't backed up my files since... last summer.

I have learned a very valuable lesson: BACK UP YOUR STUFF. Having never had a hard drive fail, I didn't realize just how important this is. I'm lucky, however, because I have a website and a compulsion to share cute pictures of myself, my dog, and my boyfriend with people on the Myspace.

Anyway, after all of that, I just wanted to thank the guys at Progressive Tech for their help with this disaster by giving them a plug on my blog. If you ever have computer problems and are in the Seattle area, go to them, they'll help you out.

In the end I was only out $140, I got a new hard drive that is twice the size of my old fail drive, and while I lost some fun stuff (the un-compressed, non-jpg versions of the Pharmzilla ads, for instance), there may come a day when data recovery isn't so fucking expensive. I'll be able to get all my programs back since most of them were free to begin with (Sonic Stage,, Chips Challenge), and as soon as I've gotten things back kind of to where they should be, I'll back up again to make sure this doesn't happen again.

Of course, what I'm most upset by is the fact that I lost study time running around Seattle on the bus and spending 3-and-a-half hours installing and updating Vista. (Shut it, I like Vista.)

The moral of the story is: back up your data. And if your lap top even grunts at you in that cement-mixer kind of way, turn it off immediately.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

It's Failedsday!

I'm still suffering from the Satanic Uber Cold. This morning I got up and as I was trying to clear my throat, I ended up sounding like a cement mixer that says "ew" every 20 or 30 seconds. Massively gross. Did I mention the huge bags under my eyes? And not new-purse bags either. These are 20-year-old hiking backpack eye bags. Niiice.


Then I turn on my computer to get my Stephcast (only $4.95 a month if you buy a year at a time), and my computer is making the SAME GODDAMN NOISE.

Yay, hard drive fail! Happy Failedsday!

Get on the bus, wanna barf the whole way. 45 minutes of over-heated and nauseus. I have the window open above my seat, but some jackass decides that I'm not allowed to have the comfort of cool air, and closes it.


When I get to work and go to make my English-muffin breakfast, the little plastic thingie that ties the bag closed breaks as I'm trying to put it back on. Fail. "What next?" I mutter.

Well, I then almost dropped my headphones in Emerge-n-C. I'm thinking it would be a bad idea for me to cook tonight because I might burn the goddamn house down.

Happy Failedsday everybody!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Virgin/Whore dictotomy in the media

No doubt you've heard about the 22-year-old woman selling her virginity to the highest bidder in order to pay for college. And, if you read any of the blogs that I do, you've also heard of Michigan 2L, the 2nd-year-law student who prostituted herself in order to keep up with her bills and was sexually assaulted by one of her clients.

What's the difference between these two women? Why is the former allowed to pose in magazines, while the latter is repeatedly villified in the press as a whore? We don't know what Michigan 2L looks like because she has chosen to remain anonymous for the sake of her career, and presumably other factors. So what's the difference? Each is using or has used her body, selling sex for the purpose of furthering her education, and yet Michigan 2L fears for her life.

There are a few differences, one being that Michigan 2L was raped and assaulted, and Natalie Dylan has not yet sold herself. Dylan has become a celebrity of sorts, while Michigan 2L has languished in a depression because the police in her town laughed at her and refused to bring rape charges against the client who took such advantage of the fact that their exchange was illegal (a law professor, I might add).

The other difference: Dylan is selling her virginity, Michigan 2L was selling sex. Our society is obsessed with virginity. O-B-S-E-S-S-E-D with it. And while sex itself is a dirty, horrible thing that no self-respecting woman should ever allow herself to experience ("unless being forced to by her husband," chimes in Dennis Prager), virginity is something that can be bought and sold... to the extend that buying your own virginity back is becoming its own little psychotically gross little industry.

Dylan is selling a commodity.

Michigan 2L is a whore.

Seems like all a woman is entirely wrapped up in her virginal status. (In which case, I implore my best friend not to consummate her marriage so as to remain a full woman... or something... wait, how does it work again? Why are women bad once they have sex? Biblical "scholars" help me out here.) Which is probably why Jessica Valenti is writing The Virginity Myth as we speak.

The media is playing a huge part here, and I just thought it was interested that no one (that I've read) has pointed out the incredibly obvious bias here. A woman who has sex for the first time for money is permitted to be elevated to celebrity status. Any woman who has sex for money any time other than the first for money is just a whore, and as such deserve no other human consideration.

It's fucking sick.

As I prepare for my application (in the fall) to law school

"Choosing between a kid who has had access to all of that [SAT tutors and a number of other things to which upper and upper-middle class kids have access] and still remains a mediocre candidate and one who has had to create his or her own advantages through self-invention and hard work is not the kind of discrimination we should be worried about. It is, in fact, the kind that allows us to be more fair, not less."
Damn straight.

When I take into account my unlikely journey from a kid who was told by a certain step-mother that she would never amount to anything, and hence never tried at anything (but still got As and Bs in school); to certified Mensa member; to art school graduate, to preparing to take the LSAT in 25 days... I feel more hopeful for my admission to law school.

It's nice to know that personal achievement, rather than that of one's parents still actually means something...

Sunday, January 11, 2009

I only like awful horror movies

Despite the advice at the end, John Spangenthal-Lee's review of The Unborn really makes me want to see it. The only thing that might deter me is the apparent lack of zombies, but other than that this horrible movie sounds like the kind of horror movie I would enjoy: awful. I think I'll probably have to wait for it on OnDemand though.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Target Women: Lessons from 2008

Friday Fuck You: American Girl in Italy, "PUMA is the new Jew"

Belledame at Fetch Me My Axe calls our attention to this piece. Yikes. Talk about your bad analogies! (I've cleaned up the punctuation a bit.)
"I started this post with the intent of trying to better understand the current Israel/Hamas conflict, by creating *what if’s*. I thought if I brought the concepts *home* I might be able to better understand the anger and outrage coming from both sides. The process, and research led me to thinking about the hate directed towards one group for holding beliefs different than the majority, which brings me to the comment, ["]is puma the new [J]ew[?"]"
Maybe if you're working solely on the persecution complex... however, Jews have actually been persecuted (for thousands of years -- although, to be fair, we've done our share of persecution too; the Torah has as many stories about Jews persecuting and driving others off their land because "God said this is ours!" "Who's God?" "YOU DIE NOW!" That's how religions get started... but I digress), PUMAs... not so much. I think you would be hard-pressed to find one of these Party Unity My Ass folks who has been killed because they don't support Obama.
"Anyway, from there, I started thinking about Jewish people in Israel, and how they live in such a small country surrounded by countries that hate them. And I was, as I said above, trying to figure out the reasons why. I know it has been written about, blogged about, talked about, to death, but I like to simplify things so I understand them."
But in order to do that, you end up simplifying it so much that it no longer means anything. Good job. I'm just guessing here, but this gal doesn't get it. In fact, judging from comments that have not made it out of moderation on this blog (and other comments elsewhere where I have been called naive for thinking that the violence ends when there's no more violence), most people don't get it. The Israel/Everyone-else-in-the-Middle-East conflict is complicated and cannot be summed up or justified by quoting a tiny passage from the Hamas charter -- nor can it simply be stated "well, if you're against the governmental actions of the nation-state of Israel, then you're an antisemite" (because if that was true, the Knesset is full of antisemites).

After wandering for a couple of paragraphs (and gratuitous use of the word "anyway", American Girl in Italy finally gets to her point:
"The divide in the Dem party grew and grew, with Hillary supporters frustration and anger growing as the primary went on, and the hatred spewing from the Obama supporters worsening. Hillary supporters (and yes, not all are perfect. There were some racist comments made by a small group of people, and yes, some even got nasty, but I think as a whole, people just believed that Hillary was the best candidate - and there were some who were for Edwards in the beginning, and when he dropped out, they preferred Hillary over Obama) were, dare I say, victimized because they weren’t buying into the One."
(Emphasis mine.) First of all, the people supported Obama. That's why he won the primary battle. That you're still carrying out this battle is stupid, especially when you take into account the fact that even Hillary and Barack have made up and she's going to be Secretary of State in his administration. But getting to the analogy here: Hillary supporters were "victimized" (just like the Jewish people!!!) because they "weren't buying into the One", carrying on this whole Obama=Messiah complex that everyone who isn't an Obama supporter seems to be thinking.

Let me clarify something. Barack Obama is Superman, not Jesus. I don't understand why people have such a hard time getting this distinction. Chicago is Metropolis, not Jerusalem. Hawaii is Krypton, not Bethlehem. Obama's now-deceased father is Jor-El, not somebody's invisible excuse for getting pregnant out of wedlock. And while it is very possible that both his mother and grandmother were saints, he's still not Jesus. Can we PLEASE move on from this Obama=Jesus comparisson? It's getting really annoying. I'm pretty sure the President (in 11 days) thinks it's pretty stupid too.
"Now, this brings me all the way back to my beginning, ["]is puma the new [J]ew["]. A people persecuted for their beliefs, and eventually for their failure to fall in line, and follow the chosen one.

To bring Judaism into modern times, the last 2000 years, Jews rejected Jesus as the son of God, which was a major turning point in western history. Jesus was a major game changer in our history. The acceptance of Jesus changed things politically and religiously."

Obviously this significant piece of moron doesn't understand how offensive these two paragraphs are, even if she does preface the entire piece with "I know PUMAs haven't experienced anything near as bad as the Holocaust and stuff". Forget the "chosen one" talk. Forget the serious omission of the fact that what changed the politics of the Western World was that an Emperor of Rome saw his Empire losing power 300 or so years after the death of Jesus of Nazareth (which, for the sake of argument here, I assume actually happened), and decided to convert everyone to Christianity in order to maintain that power (and the Catholic Church really was just a continuation of the Roman Empire, that's a big reason Martin Luther split off from Catholicism a thousand years later). Forget the motherfucking Holocaust, this person doesn't even understand fucking history. The persecution of Jews goes back thousands of years, and it's not just because they didn't accept Jesus as their personal lord and savior.

It was because they were different. During the Plague years (the Plague, the Black Death), Jews were blamed for "cursing" the rest of a given village because the rest of the village was getting sick, but the Jewish section of the community was not. This was for a couple of reasons: first of all, Judaism, involves ritual cleaning. Washing your hands, as we all know now, reduces a person's risk of getting sick. The other main reason was that the Jewish section of town was always separated from the rest of the section of town (because medieval law in Europe mandated it), and that separation reduced the risk of rats getting in and transmitting the Bubonic Plague to the people in that smaller section which had less food and more cats (because we Jews love cats, I don't know why). Make no mistake, the Plague did get into the Jewish part of town, but because it was affecting Jews disproportionately, the rest of the Christian village blamed them and violence was committed. Actual violence. Murders. Christian villagers would grab Jewish men and beat them to death.

Not only have Hillary supports not been erroneously blamed for the deaths of 1/3rd of the population of Europe between 700 and 1400 CE (although, I'm starting to believe it), none of those people who stubbornly supported Hillary even after she had thrown her support to Barack Obama has been beaten to death by the devout followers of Barack Obama. We're fucking Democrats. We don't do that. That's neo-anarchist riot shit.

"But, whatever the reason, they did not accept that Jesus was the savior. They didn’t believe or accept that he was The Chosen One, or sent down from God, as his son, and they have paid for their beliefs ever since.

But wasn’t that their right? To reject an idea or belief of someone else? To reject someone who claims to be the *chosen one* the *one we have been waiting for*? If you don’t believe that this one, is the one, is that not your right?"

First of all, what's with the gratuitous misuse of the asterisk? That's not how you emphasize something. Secondly, because of your undereducated, overChristianized version of things, this statement comes off as "but they didn't accept Jesus as their personal lord and savior... but isn't the right of the Jewish people to choose to go to Hell?". Now, no Hillary supporter has ever been murdered for refusing to accept Barack Obama as the Democratic Party nominee for President, denying them their right to dissent. When he takes office in 11 days, not one person who still stubbornly supports Hillary as the better Dem for the job will be denied their right to think or even say that publically. But you know what, as someone who has faced actual antisemetism (and for some reason racism against Arab people -- I was called a "sandmonkey" once... I think I had a tan or something), I can tell you that for essentially the scope of Western history, Jewish people have actively been denied their right to believe what they believed, as well as their right to actually live, despite well-intentioned-but-stupidly-naive assertions of little Christian girls who say Jews have the right to go to Hell.

There will be no rounding up of Hillary supporters. There hasn't been. As I've already said, Hillary Clinton is going to be the Secretary of State in the Obama administration, and Obama supporters like myself are enthusiastic about this decision (some aren't, but whatever). That's about as far from buring the PUMAs at the stake, stuffing them in gas chambers by the hundreds, or invading their land and claiming it for England or Germany or Spain as you can get.

"So, for all the haters who will want to jump on me, and say that I am comparing/putting on a level playing field, the hatred towards pumas to the persecution of Jews, calm down. I’m not.

But, I did garner a bit of understanding into what it must feel like [to be] Jewish person..."
(Emphasis mine.) Priceless. Fucking priceless. You did a terrible job of not comparing the persecution of Jews to the imaginary persecution of PUMAs -- in that you did exactly what you're claiming you didn't. Which makes you at the very least stupid, but also possibly a liar.

This last bit I say as someone who actually does kinda know what it feels like to, "as a Jewish person... be hated for it" : Fuck you American Girl in Italy.

And I still love Hillary.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

More photos -- how does this help anyone?

An Israeli airstrike on a three-story house belonging to a Hamas member in an eastern Gaza City neighborhood buried a child in rubble. About 30 people were inside the house when it was destroyed by the air raid, neighbors said.

The campaign has not proceeded without mishaps for Israel, which said on Tuesday that four of its soldiers in Gaza were killed by shells from their own tanks. At left, the funeral for Nitai Stern, one of the Israeli soldiers killed by so-called "friendly fire."

Palestinians walked past a destroyed mosque in Beit Hanoun. Most of the fighting was taking place in northern and eastern Gaza, in areas not far from the Israeli border.

Women at a United Nations school after fleeing their homes. Gaza residents faced severe power shortages and other deprivations.

Hilmi al-Samuli mourned over the bodies of his two sons and a nephew, reportedly killed during Israeli shelling early on Monday. The reported death toll of Palestinians passed 500 since the assault began, including 100 said to be civilians.

Israel: how is this helping anyone?

I've broken my ban on news from Gaza -- a ban I had placed because I knew reading anything would only make me angry. I was right. But I'm also mortified, ashamed, and very sad.

The UN has had to stop providing food and medical aid to Gaza because their trucks were being fired on by Israeli tanks and bombers. 700 people have been killed, including, as claimed by the Israeli military, 130 Hamas fighters; 200 children have also been killed. The Israeli military has also killed 10 Israelis with "friendly fire". 370 adults with nothing to do with Hamas, except having the poor luck to live near someone who might be suspected of being a Hamas fighter, have also been killed.

How is this helping Israel? I don't see it.
"The International Committee of the Red Cross reported finding “shocking” scenes during the first lull, on Wednesday, including four children, weak and emaciated, next to the bodies of their mothers. In a rare and sharply critical statement, it said it believed that “the Israeli military failed to meet its obligation under international humanitarian law to care for and evacuate the wounded.”"
(Emphasis mine.)

What about this?
"Casualty figures are difficult to verify, but the Gazan authorities have reported nearly 700 dead, with an uncertain number of them civilians, including more than 200 children. On Tuesday, Israeli shells killed some 40 people at a United Nations school in Gaza on Tuesday."

(Emphasis mine.) How does bombing a school help Israel? How does removing the source of education make anyone less likely to turn to Hamas? How does bombing aid trucks make someone less likely to go to Hamas? How is any of this tragedy helping Israel? That's the point, isn't it? That's why Israel is bombing Gaza? They want to raize Hamas to the ground so as to protect Israel. Right?

It won't surprise anyone that I'm not an expert on international affairs; I'm an American after all. However, I think I know a little something about hate. When someone does something to you to hurt you, you hate them. When someone you have been conditioned to hate kills someone you love, you want to kill that person. Violence begets violence, I don't care what the neocons in this country or elsewhere say -- if we kill all of the people who might hate us, no one will hate us or try to kill us -- the more people you kill, the more people hate you. This is especially true for an entity like Israel who is, unfortunately, at the center of a lot of hatred already.

Unfortunately, I'm preaching to the choir here. I'm getting myself all riled up for nothing. No words I say here will affect the Israeli military or have any effect on a cease-fire. You are the only person who will be affected by what I have written here, and while some small difference is a difference nonetheless, it is because of my impotence in this situation that I have been ignoring it. I think a lot of people feel that. It's almost as tragic as those 580 "collateral damage" deaths.

It's almost as tragic as thinking that you can bomb the world to peace.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Oscar Grant murdered by Oakland police

Reasons I'm not a "real" feminist: lip gloss and perfume

In one product even!

My favorite new toy is the Mary Kay Limited Edition Simply Chic Fragrance/Lip Gloss Duo. I love it! I've never been all that in to lip gloss, as a rule, but I decided that this toy was so neat, and such a good idea, I would be a very un-fun feminist if I didn't have one. Retailing for $35, you get a limited edition Starlet Kiss Nourishine Lip Gloss on one end, and four interchangeable mini Mary Kay® Eau de Toilette fragrances – Sparkling Honeysuckle™, Exotic Passionfruit™, Simply Cotton™ and Warm Amber™. Plus it comes in a very chic gift box. (And if you want one, I happen to be a Mary Kay Independent Beauty Consultant so I can hook you up!) Perfect for the Sparkliest of the Sparkle Ponies!

My thoughts on some controvercial shit

You may be wondering why I don't write big pieces about general corruption and controversy right now. You may be wondering "does she not care?" "does she not listen to the news? Watch the Olbermann/Maddow nightly marathon?" "has feminism completely taken over her brain?" To answer this, (no, no, yes, no), here are a few of my thoughts on what's been going on.

Innocent until proven guilty.

Seat him, Democrats. If the Republicans get all indignant over seating someone who was appointed by an embattled governor you only have to say one thing: Vitter. Despite having been actually caught in a prostitution scandal (he likes to wear diapers, btw), Senator Vitter was not asked to step down. Even Senator Craig was not asked to step down after being arrested (albeit for something he shouldn't have been arrested for) and pleading no contest to a misdemeanor. Fucking Ted Stevens got a standing mother ovation upon his return to the Senate chambers after being indicted for seven felony counts of corruption. Democrats have no good reason not to seat Rolan Burris.

Facebook didn't violate anyone's rights by deleting pictures of women breastfeeding -- they were acting on their right to delete whatever content of their website they find inappropriate, and everyone who uses Facebook agrees to a TOS that says they can do that. Nonetheless, breastfeeding is not obscene and Facebook as an entity is being a total dick.

Israel: stop retaliating. All Gaza has is weapons thanks to your blockade, and so maybe if Gazans were allowed to have medical supplies, food, clothing, etc brought in, and able to leave to go work and be productive, they wouldn't be spending all of their time launching rocket attacks. Israel is in the wrong on Gaza. Period. Everything that has happened to Israel in this particular instance is because of how they have treated Gazans and they are fighting for their lives too. If Israel stops treating Gaza like a the US treats Cuba (actually, worse, really), the problems would be lessened. It won't solve everything, but it's a good step.

Why is everyone suddenly so surprised that Barack Obama is going to cut taxes? Moreover, why are Republicans, who have never seen a tax cut they didn't like, suddenly opposed to it? Since the beginning of his presidential campaign, Barack Obama said "I'm going to cut the taxes of 95% of Americans". Are we shocked that he's following through?

Why is no one covering the Bernie Medhoff thing? He embezzled billions of dollars from investors, is indicted for it, let out on bail (for which he has to provide the court with a full write-up on where the money came from), and allowed to go back to his cozy, fancy house in South Florida? Seriously? Isn't anyone else Frangry about this?


I think that's all I have to say right now. I'll let you know if I need to flush my brain again. Sheesh.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Fat girl chic... and shame?

I shop at Lane Bryant, pretty much exclusively, for three reasons:
1. I like their clothes.
2. Their sales associates are really, really nice to me.
3. They gave me credit.

And while for the most part I can identify with their models, I've been noticing once in a while that images on their website look shopped, or that models are much smaller than the sizes 14-32 clothing that Lane Bryant sells. It's subtle though. I'll see a woman with a much slimmer neck than the rest of her body would indicate. Arms are shaved down when the model is wearing a sleeveless top. Bust sizes are changed. Waists are made smaller.

What message is the Lane Bryant website trying to send to its customers? Even your fat ass can look skinny in our clothes? This is by no means an egregious action on the part of the marketing department, but it is subtly sinister and makes me slightly uncomfortable, because I have a size 14 waist and I know what it looks like in pictures -- regardless of whether I'm wearing clothing from Lane Bryant or somewhere else. This ain't it.

Check out the waist:hip ratio in the image at right. These high-waisted pants (which are a pretty good representation of the kinds of pants LB sells) have, in this image, a waistband that would not fit passed the hips of the woman who is wearing them -- unless that's one long-ass zipper! Moreover, this is not a size 14 waist -- but it is a size 14 butt. Two options here: this woman is incredibly disproportionate and all her body fat is either in her butt or her tits; or this image has been photoshopped to make it appear as though this woman has a smaller waist. Why would Lane Bryant do this?

There are probably a number of reasons, and some of them might be acceptable; for instance, they're trying to make money and their marketing department may have information that tells them that women are more apt to buy clothing that is draped over thin models. Maybe this isn't a great reason, but there is no real "great" reason. A less acceptable one, in my mind would be that this is what they think women should look like, but I really don't think that Lane Bryant has an actual opinion of women's bodies. I think they're trying to make money.

Current beauty standards seek to smooth over the wrinkly and bumpy bits. Even if, as Cosmo proclaims, fashion is trending toward "curvy" women, an unsightly curve is still worthy of ridicule. If the woman-at-left's arms were their actual size (upon close-ish inspection, the left shoulder/deltoid area has been shaved down, and the bicep/tricep area of the right arm has been smoothed and adjusted, as has the wrist; although it is possible that this model has dainty wrists), these beauty standards would say that this blouse would not look its best on a model of wider arms.

But, if that is truly the case, and a woman of wider arms would not look good in this particular blouse, why is the company try to sell this blouse to women who most likely have wider arms, waists, legs, etc than the models who show off how great the prospective customer could look in the prospective wardrobe?

As I stated above, most of my clothing comes from Lane Bryant, the "fat girl store" as I call it without enmity toward myself, my fat, the store, or its other customers. I also think that images being over-shopped so that the models conform more to "conventional" beauty standards is the exception rather than the rule. I do believe that most of the models on their website and in their catalogs are my size and bigger, and I'm certain that they are all bigger than your average Victoria's Secret model; but I wonder, what's with the subversive fat-shaming if you're trying to sell clothes to fat chicks?

I'm not sure that "fat-shaming" is a motive here, in fact it's probably an afterthought if it's a thought at all; however, it is the effect. "This blouse wouldn't look right on the model if her arms weren't shopped thinner" is, as an aesthetic rule, fat-shaming. "This model should have a thinner waist to show off how great her butt looks in these pants" is the same. There's no real reason the models above should have had their proportions changed in order to "look good". Moreover, changing the proportions of plus-sized models in plus-sized clothes in order to advertise to plus-sized customers is really unnecessary.

Of course, even the images of super-thin runway models are shopped to make them look thinner with longer necks and legs, so why should the models who hock the fat girl clothes be exempt from this? It's industry standards, after all, and those have nothing to do with making women feel badly about themselves and their bodies... right?

Okay, I take it back -- it's not news, it's CNN

In light of the fact that Christmas and New Years are over and it is now time to move on to the next corporate holiday (Valentine's) we have this fun little article care of Frisky via CNN (via Salon Broadsheet). Headline, "Why women shouldn't say 'I love you' first".

Was your first thought, as a woman "well, if I don't say it, who will?" Well, you're naive.
"...but at the risk of having my feminist card revoked, I think it's naïve for a woman to utter those three little words before a man does."
Why is that, Wendy?
"And the truth is, it often takes men longer to get there than it does for women. Men process their emotions more slowly, they're usually more cautious about taking their feelings and relationships to the next level."
Ooooooh. Now, aside from the broad stereotyping (well, and the gent stereotyping), what is wrong with this sentence? Elsewhere in the article, Wendy goes on about how it's okay to be rejected when you ask a guy out or make a move on him (she even green-lights women to propose to their man -- which, I don't see as being all that different circumstantially than saying the L-word first), but somehow it's not so okay to risk rejection by expressing your emotions to a guy you're getting serious with. Er?

When I'm in a new relationship, (as I have been frequently in my life), I can't necessarily get a hold on my emotions. I'm so damn happy, he's "the one", and I agonize for months when is the right time to say, "uh, hey, I, uh... love... you?" but I've pretty much come to terms with the fact that that's a pretty stunning revelation, and it's really hard to know what to say back. That is, unless you're so gung-ho that you're also about to burst. But really...
"But an "I love you" uttered too soon, before the man has processed his feelings and reached the same level of adoration could end a relationship that just as easily could have had an eternal shelf life."
O, rly? I had no idea that if I hadn't said "I love you" to the guy I was dating Senior year of high school (met with a "congratulations" -- for which he should have been punched in the nuts and prevented from ever procreating), we could still be together. Uh huh, right, and monkeys might have flown out of my ass. Saying "I love you" first is taking a chance of making a mistake, and I hate to say this, but that's what relationships are about. As my dad says, there's only one that every really works out (adding, "and none of them work out until they do", signifying his deep connectedness to monogamy and whatnot, but in reality, the only relationship that ever works out is the one you have with yourself). Thist statement, however, notes that no, it really is the end of the world if he breaks up with you.
"And if the woman doesn't get the response she expected, it could damage her confidence enough to derail the whole relationship entirely."
See what I mean? Look if you say "I love you" and he says "congratulations" chances are pretty good that the relationship, keeping up with the train metaphor, was off the tracks already. I have a second problem here though: STOP EXPECTING SOMETHING BACK when you say "I love you" the first time. That's the problem. We're not conditioned to tell people we love them, we're conditioned to expect them to say it back when we do, and that's the whole problem.


If you love someone, if you truly love someone in the "the more you love someone, more you want to kill them" kind of way, you say "I love you" without expecting it to be returned. By the time you get to the relationship that's going well, probably going to work out at least for the semi-long-run, you've learned to refine what you mean when you say it, and not only that, you've learned how to say it in a non-demanding way that isn't going to make him "suddenly feel pressure to manifest that emotion".

Or, even better, before you've gotten to the point where if you don't proclaim your love you will assuredly explode, you ask "what are your thoughts on the love-word?" Yes, the other person is just as taken aback as though you had claimed your heart for their homeland, but at least you haven't gone quite as far out on a limb as all that. I did this with the Schmoogie, and his response was "I've thought it a few times". I still brought it up, I still ended up saying it first, but I also established that we were on the same page.

I do think that Wendy is trying to get women to first establish that they are on the same page with their intimate partners, but making a broad generalization on the subject and just saying, "you know what, despite your feminist inclinations, defer to your man on this one, ladies", is kinda immature and naive. Everyone has a different approach to using the love-word for the first time, and you're only going to figure out the best way for you by making a few mistakes on the way.


Of course, you could always make sure your dog is around the first time you spring the "I love you"s on your guy so that if he doesn't react the way you want him to you can start laughing and say "I was talking to the dog, silly!"


And, if you're a lesbian there's no chance of having your overtures rejected because we that all know that all persons of the same sex process their emotions the same way and in the same order. Always.

Monday, January 5, 2009

*shakes head a la Lewis Black* WHAT?

Cosmo has an article about what resolutions should be avoided.
2. Lose five pounds.Reality check: Hot chicks like Jessica Biel, Beyoncé, and
ScarJo are proof that toned and curvy is the new skinny.

COSMO. As in Cosmopolitain Magazine is telling women to avoid a resolution to lose weight. Really. I'm pretty fucking shocked too. (I actually am planning to lose about 5 or so lbs that I've gained since Thanksgiving -- too much holiday food.)

Curvy is the new skinny. I don't know what that means. I do know that Jessica Biel, Beyonce, and Scarlet Johannsen are all impossibly thin and work their goddamn asses off (ha! literally!) to look like they do. Now, perhaps Cosmo is trying a new approach with women. An approach that says "you're beautiful the way you are, there's no reason you should be torturing yourself to lose that extra 5 lbs". But, despite how nice it sounds, coming from Cosmo it seems disingenuous. Although... considering the rest of the article

5. Change your man.Reality check: While some relationship tweaking is to be
expected (hey, few guys are natural-born good kissers), if the words
“fixer-upper” and “project” could describe your boyfriend, it’s time to get
7. Don’t eat any junk food.Reality check: Cutting out all unhealthy food
from your diet will most likely lead to binge eating, followed by intense guilt,
by mid-January.
10. Keep your number down.Reality check: Nothin’ wrong with notches on your
bedpost, as long as you’re being safe.

This isn't the kind of stuff Cosmo usually publishes. Either they're getting more feminist or I'm having another one of those schizophrenic hallucinations I never have because I do not have schizophrenia.

A Sexpox On Your House

(Left in comment form on this post, not sure if it'll make it through the moderation queue.)

Dear Maggie,
Let me preface what I'm about to say with this: I completely understand where you're coming from and I am truly sorry that you had to experience it. There are a lot of people out there who use a person's emotions against them and that is wrong. You were wronged.

However, it comes across to me (someone who has also experienced sexual violence and asshole boyfriends), as the thrashing around of a helpless victim. You say that radical feminism has given you power -- but it doesn't really seem that way to me, especially when you're using the experience of having been manipulated by one person to justify lumping all similar actions into the "rapist" category. Not only is this a dangerous precedent in that you seem to make no room for exceptions and interpretation (basically, any heterosexual sex is rape is what I'm reading from your definition; and that's just blatantly untrue); it's also a logical fallacy, (pardon the reference to the male anatomy).

Lumping all types of a specific action, such as a man's kindness toward a woman, into a category called "rape" diminishes the word rape (like screaming "fuck" at the top of your lungs for an hour; or wandering around muttering "Voldemort, Voldemort, Voldemort" under your breath as though the character were confused with Beetlejuice); but it's ineffective and condemns a lot of people who are not worthy of such condemnation. Some men are actually nice. Some men put on the nice face in order to fuck pretty young women, then yank them around, cheat on them, dump them but say "let's still have sex"; denying yourself agency in these situations and placing criminal blame on the other is not a sign of being in power. Rather, it says "this person had power over me, and still has power over me, so I'm going to thrash around and call him a rapist". It's not morally right to do such a thing.

However, having not had your experiences, I refuse to say that you weren't mistreated or that some aspect of that mistreatment was rape -- and, again, I have a great deal of empathy for you in that experience as someone who has been a victim of sexual violence and asshole boyfriends.

The thing is, not all "nice guys" are just assholes in disguise and I don't think that it's right to condemn nearly half of the human species for the actions of one man -- especially when many of the individuals of that half of the species have their own offenses worthy of condemnation.

I hope you heal though. I hope that the means you are using bring you more joy and healing than anger and resentment. And while turnabout may be fair play, that doesn't mean it's right.


(Title from Natalia's List.)
Ren has more here and here.
Edit: Natalia has a really awesome response too.

Edit again (1.7.9): My comment did actually make it through and Maggie restated her opinions, clarifying several things. While I still disagree with her, I'm glad that she was willing to engage me and clarify a few things. Just because we disagree doesn't mean we have to be disagreeable, as our President-elect would say.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Favorites from an unfavorable year

Since I can't log in and post my favorites on Samhita's blog post, I'm going to post some of my favorite things from 2008 here. Hell, why not? I'm a blogger now. Heh.

Favorite Movie: The Dark Knight
Despite the fact that I felt totally dirty and traumatized after watching it (actually, 2008 kinda made me feel like that in general), I loved this movie. For me, it completely lived up to the hype, and Heath Ledger was brilliant. And I mean, it's fucking Batman, (and Christian Bale), how can I not love it? Although, frankly, I'm not that much of a movie person, so it takes a lot for a movie to make a mark on me the way this one did.

Favorite Album: Susquehanna by the Cherry Poppin Daddies
The last album the Daddies put out was Soul Caddy in 2001. I was 16 and they were still my favorite band. Seven years later, after the band had broken up, a spin off was formed and demolished, the Daddies started touring again and put out the new album which has a lot of Latin sounds (everybody on the floor for the c-c-conga), and I would have to venture that Susquehanna is the most successful Daddies album since back when they were just guys with day jobs who liked to make music (we're talking pre-ZSR here -- Soul Caddy was good, but the feel was distinctly different from what they put out before Zoot Suit Riot. It's not that I don't wish them to be able to sell out and do world tours on the dime of Atlantic Records, but I'm just saying the music became different after that happened.)

Favorite Book: The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder by Vincent Bugliossi
Strangely, this was the only book I read in 2008 that was actually published in 2008. However, I devoured it. Bugliossi is a fantastic writer with a bit of a wit, and more brains in his little finger than some of his subjects (like Bush for example) have in their entire heads. I believe his case is solid, and I just hope some District Attorney somewhere at least makes some kind of showing to bring charges against King George after he's out of office.

Favorite Blog: Renegade Evolution
Reading Ren is one of my favorite things to do. She's got a great sense of humor and is so smart it makes my head hurt. More than that, Ren isn't bound by ideologies like some other bloggers I read for fun (but it's a different kind of fun).
Honorable Mentions: Daisy Dead Air, Freeper Maddness, and Better Burn That Dress, Sister.

Favorite Group Blog: Feministing
I wouldn't have gotten into this blogging thing if I hadn't been reading Feministing all this time.

Favorite Media Slut: Joe the Plumber
This guy just never stops. He's worse than Sarah Palin... I'm thinking McCain should have had him for his running mate. Did you know he's got a book out?

Favorite Media Feminist Moment: Campbell Brown's Special Comments
CNN's Campbell Brown made herself known in this year of rampant sexism against political figures (Hillary Clinton, most noteably), and every so often would make her feminism known by pointing out the stupid and sexist things that were being portrayed in the media, by the media, or by political figures. I hope she keeps it up, personally.

Favorite Media Personality: Rachel Maddow

Favorite Moment of 2008:

I couldn't decide which of the Obama wins was my favorite, but then I remembered Hillary's motion to have Obama nominated by acclamation. I love Hillary Clinton. And I this movement is my favorite of the year because it demonstrates unity in the Democratic party, but also the utter class of soon-to-be Secretary Clinton. Had Hillary won the nomination, I am certain that Barack would have acted very similarly.

Honorable Mention:

This made me not hate Journey quite so much.