In Which I Alienate My Bepenised-European-American Readers

I’m working on a theory about white men.  This is my theory–that above all else, it is important for you to believe that you, and people like you, are good guys.

I just need a spiffy name for my theory, so that when future gender scholars quote me, they can just refer to Aunt B.’s Grand Theory of… something. 

Oh, and I need to show you evidence for my theory.  Okay, I’ll work on that.  The complex part of my theory is that the things that are threatening to the white man sense of good guy-ness can be pretty bizarre.  Say, for instance, that white guys by and large were not named Marion, but that it became all the rage for black folks to name their sons after John Wayne.  According to my theory, we should see a lot of white-guy anxiety about this because white guys want to believe that they are good guys.  But if they are good guys, all folks would want to be like them.  If folks are behaving in some way that insinuates, however tangentially, that they don’t care about being like white guys, white guys take this as a threat to their good-guy-ness and react with a mixture of hurt and anger.

No Wonder They Try to Tell You that Comic Books Suck

Sarcastro* gave me another comic book to read.  We had limited success with his last efforts to convert me into one of those 40 year old men who hangs out at the Great Escape on Wednesday afternoons waiting for the new issues, since–and bear with me here, since what I’m about to say is filled with a great deal of unintentional irony–I don’t like reading something that’s not complete and having to worry that the author will die or lose interest before finishing the story.

In college, I did love Neil Gaiman’s Sandman stuff, but what English major did not?  And I even liked the “What if there were suddenly no men on the planet” thing Sarcastro gave me to read a while back, though I felt like I invested a great deal of time in it only to discover that we were nowhere near the end of the story, but were out of book.  Grr.

So, this time, Sarcastro gives me a book that is complete–Uncle Sam, written by Steve Darnall, art by Alex Ross.

Holy shit, folks.  Holy shit.

It’s a meditation on what it means to be American, on the role of the media in keeping us complacent and distracted, and whether we can choose to fulfill our promise as a nation, even though we’ve been seemingly undermining that promise since we were founded.

It’s just brilliant.

Anyway, though, it’s got me thinking about what my dreams are for the United States.  If I could have this country be reshaped to what I thought was best for it, what would it look like?

1.  Congressional service is doled out like jury duty.  You register to vote, you can get tapped to serve in Congress.

2.  The President is the person with the most votes.  The vice-President is the person with the second most votes.

3.  We encourage many so-called libertarian principals–such as self-reliance, charity, not pushing your will onto those who are different than you, high expectation of privacy, the knowledge that U.S. citizens hold rights; the government does not grant them, etc.–but at the same time, we have a wide-spread and effective social safety net in place.  I know this is going to irk some of you, but if being American means something, it ought to mean that we don’t stand by and watch as any of us suffer.

4.  If you want to call yourself an American company, you must pay workers at all your plants world-wide what you pay your workers in the U.S.

Ha, I’m not really wed to four.  I just think it’d be hilarious.

Anyway, Uncle Sam is a book about the idea of America and about how, when we lose sight of that idea, of what America could be and should be, the cost is so great.

But still, as much as I loved it, I can’t help but wonder what it means that both Sarcastro and I like it.  I often feel, when we talk, that we see the same evidence (which is comforting.  With a lot of conservatives, I feel like we’re not even operating off of the same shared assumptions.), but draw sharply different conclusions from it.

I don’t know.  We had a long, kind of luxurious fight sort of about this over at Volunteer Voters, where Sarcastro was arguing that there shouldn’t be hyphenated Americans, just Americans, and I expressed doubt in the plausibility of such an idea.  And reading through Uncle Sam I was giving this a lot of thought.  What if everyone were just American, as Sarcastro suggests?

What would American history look like then?  We fought the British.  We were brought over from Africa in chains.  We died like dogs at Andersonville.  We shot the students at Kent State.  We were gunned down at Kent State.  We could vote.  But we couldn’t vote until the 1860s.  Then we couldn’t vote until the 1920s.  Even then we couldn’t really vote until the 1960s.  And even now there’s some question about whether we’re really able to vote.  Who keeps us from voting?  We do.

Is that what you mean, Sarcastro?  Because, I have to admit to having mixed, but possibly excited feelings about that.  Does it mask problems or bring those problems into sharp relief?





*Y’all, let’s just talk frankly here for a second.  I know our “FU!”  “FU2” and then acting all BFF is all WTF.  But let me help you understand it.  Picture if you will two cats in adjacent houses.  Most of the day, they sit at their window watching the other one sitting at its window watching back.  And then, they get let out of the house and, being cats, they can’t immediately be all friendly.  They have to circle around each other and ignore each other and hiss and spit and roll their eyes.  Sometimes, you’re going to catch them both sitting up under the car together like old pals.  And other times, you have to come out of the house with a bowl of water to throw on them because they’re screaming and fighting tooth and nail.  But you know that next day they’ll be sitting at the window watching each other again.  Sarcastro is the surly old tom cat.  I am the adorable kitten.

No, Grant’s Still Cuter

I did nothing yesterday but sit on the couch crocheting and watching Grant and Jason and the rest of the TAPS crew hunting down ghosts on the SciFi channel.  I’m not ashamed of that.  I got a load of dishes done and that’s more than I’d promised anyone I was going to do.  And I found a tick on the dog.  Which I would not have found had I not spent all that time on the couch alternating between crocheting and rubbing the dog’s belly.  So, no apologies from me.

(I did not go to the Bell Witch movie, because late on Friday I read a review that started, “This movie is hilarious.”  So, I’ll wait for it to hit HBO, or, if they’re smart, CMT.)

But they had the saddest episode, where all the TAPS team goes out to the Queen Mary to investigate and they catch on camera what appears to be the bed unmaking itself only upon closer inspection of the footage, it’s apparent someone has fucked with the camera.  And the whole team is just so crushed and it just ruins the whole rest of the investigation for them.

Also, they had this episode where they went to a hotel in Arkansas and, holy shit, Arkansas is beautiful.  I’ve only ever been to Helena and then up that stretch of I-55 from Memphis to St. Louis, but god damn, it looks like there’s some gorgeous shit over there.  Once we’re all driving cars that run on restaurant grease*, maybe I can get over there and take a look.



*Won’t that be funny?  All this talk about how we need to eat less fast foods and it’s going to turn out that eating fast food is a patriotic way to lower our dependency on foreign oil.  Thanks for nothing, health food nuts.

All Right! Eyes Up Here.

Speaking of tits, and that other job they do–aside from providing a blank canvas for the wonders of the boob freckle–Rachel has a great run-down of the war on fucking and, in the middle of it, she proves that, if you believe that life begins at conception, you must then, logically, be opposed to breast feeding, since there’s good evidence that breast feeding prevents fertilized eggs from implanting in your uterus while you’re doing it.

On where this viewpoint leaves us:
"What’s more, Dr. Trussell [Office of Population Research, Princeton] added: ‘There is evidence that there is a contraceptive effect of breast feeding after fertilization. While a woman is breast feeding, the first ovulation is characterized by a short luteal phase, or second half of the cycle. It’s thought that because of that, implantation does not occur.’ In other words, if the emergency contraception pill causes abortions by blocking implantation, then by the same definition breast feeding may as well. Besides that, the intrauterine device, or IUD, can alter the lining of the uterus and, in theory, prevent implantation."

Seriously. Are we prepared to also consider breastfeeding a form of abortion? Because that’s where this "every fertilized egg is a human being" seems to leave us. Can we really argue intent on what should be a medical definition?

Good questions, Rachel.  Perhaps one helpful side-effect of the government needing to monitor my uterus to make sure that I’m not doing anything anti-American with it is that I can just ask these kinds of questions to whoever they stick up there to keep an eye on things.  Is it wrong that I kind of hope that Kleinheider is my cooter monitor when it finally comes to that?