In Which I Apologize to Lee and Explain Myself.

Lee’s writing about punitive liberalism, and to call it a though-provoking post is to put it very mildly.

My immediate reaction was “fuck you, too, buddy” and so, clearly, the post touched a nerve.  Since one cannot regularly run around shouting, “fuck you, too, buddy” to a person she likes and generally finds smart and thoughtful, I’ve decided to work through my defensiveness here.

I hope you don’t mind, Lee.  I’m sorry that I briefly wanted to kick your teeth in.

Lee starts out thusly–

I’ve read many conservatives, and some liberals, lament that sometime in the late 60’s and early 70’s that liberalism went from the breed of Roosevelt, Truman, and John Kennedy, to a punitive liberalism. Anti-Americanism, a focus on identity groups, victimhoods, and other such ideas took a healthy political philosophy and twisted it into something angry and almost vengeful.

So, immediately, one wonders what happened during that time period that might be construed as a change in liberalism.  The “anti-Americanism” stuff sounds like the anti-Vietnam folks.  “Identity groups” might be the civil rights movements of Blacks, Indians, Chicanos and other ethnic groups.  But the sneaking suspicion I get immediately is that somehow this is going to be about how the uppity cootered folks fucked up things for everyone and about how angry we are and how we hate men.

Once we get to “At one point in the night, a conversation I was in with a bunch of girls, only one or two whom I recognized, turned to gender issues, and specifically to Title IX,” I realize I’ve guessed right.

So, Lee goes on and tells this sad story about how Title IX hurts men, how the women he’s talking to about it don’t care, and then he tells the sad story of his friend Kelly who’s getting screwed by Title IX and how one girl he’s talking to says, “After years of how women were treated in athletics I think it’s about time men got the same treatment” and Lee, rather than saying something like, “Fuck you, bitch” turns and walks away.

Needless to say, my initial reaction to this post was to be pissed and annoyed.  Yeah, really, tough shit that now some men have to suffer what we’ve been suffering for years.  Cry me a river, male athletes.

But then I got to thinking that there’s a way in which this goes back to our talk about how white power is set up.  Powerless white people are encouraged to be the ground troops of racism, even though white people with power aren’t ever going to let powerless white people share power if they can help it.  Powerless white people do all the dirty work of racism while receiving very little of the benefits of it.

So, yeah, when I first read Lee’s piece, my reaction was “How fucking long are we supposed to wait?  Do we only get to participate when it doesn’t cost the men anything?”  I was angry at a dude who’s been hurt by a system that regularly hurts me.  That’s fucked up.

Folks, let’s look at what Lee says here–

Having been a high school wrestler I complained how Title IX, which among other laudable intentions, allowed more girls to compete in school sports, was now being misinterpreted and leading to universities slashing male programs to comply to court orders of so-called equality. Football, often the only revenue generating collegiate sport at a school, requires so many male scholarships that other male sports suffer. Wrestling, which does not have a female counterpart, is often first on the chopping block.

Let’s leave aside whether Title IX is being misinterpreted or just finally properly interpreted.  Let’s instead focus on the fact that this is a system in which there are some folks with power–people associated with college football–who would stand to lose under certain interpretations of Title IX.  A university could, for instance, look at Title IX and look at the number of scholarships for men that they have and evenly distribute them across all programs, rather than bunching them all up in football and/or basketball.  Why does football “require” so many male scholarships?

Shoot, folks, dare I even ask this?  But if football is a revenue generator, why does it require any scholarships at all?  Football, as Lee notes, isn’t really a collegiate sport in the way that other sports are.  Couldn’t we just collectively decide to remove football from the equation when handing out scholarships?  Let college football programs pay football players as goodwill ambassadors for the university (or some other title that reflects the truth that they are professional athletes) and leave the scholarships for kids who are actually scholars.

Well, anyway, it doesn’t matter what we do about football.  The point is that the obvious solution to the kinds of Title IX nonsense that Lee documents have to do with taking a realistic look at the role of football programs at universities.  However, since football is a huge cash cow, the odds of us doing that are slim.

They’re even slimmer when we’re busy playing “your little ‘play fair’ program hurts people I know/tough shit for the people you know; your ways of playing unfair hurt us.”  And, I have to say, I suspect that that’s the point.  Use Title IX to hurt men, knowing those men will complain to or within earshot of women, who, because they don’t want to lose the scholarships they have, get defensive and angry at the men who are already hurt and so on.

We’re so busy yanking each other’s chains we don’t ask why the system in place can’t be changed to benefit all of us.

And, obviously, from my reaction to Lee, it’s pretty effective.

In Case No One Else Mentions It

There were the two cutest little boys over at Ivy’s bloggerque.  Ivy’s son kept lining up the pop cans and counting them.  He can count to five no problem.  After that, it’s a little more about the impressionistic linking of numbers with objects, but, hell, past 25, it’s that way for me, too. 

And Heather’s son liveblogged the event.  Let me tell you, there’s little cuter than seeing a two year old put his hands on the keyboard and just type away.  If you look at what he typed, I think you can see that we were all very excited about the pop, not just because of the great potential for can counting, but also because Ivy had this awesome grape pop.  It also appears that Heather’s son may want her to lend him some money so that he can attend the University of Illinois, but since he says “IOU” I think he’s good for it.

And, Malia made Coble and I this delicious birthday cake–a something cake.  I forget what it was called, but it was so delicious and beautiful.

And everyone loved my potato salad, so that made me happy.  I ate the rest of it when I got home and then farted so much that the dog eventually went upstairs to get away from me.

Forming of Unladylike Habits that May Harm the Health & Morals of a Delicate Girl

You know, I’ll say this for the Victorians, they sure make college seem a lot more fun than I remember. Even now, I regularly sit here typing y’all in my flimsy nighty with one tit trying to make its way into the public sphere, my hair hanging loose over my shoulders and I have yet to have my morals corrupted sufficiently.

Anyway, of course, the Wayward Boy Scout sent this to me, in honor, I’m sure, of the fun time we had when I flirted and spoke to him without proper introduction or chaperone.

It tickles me.

Speaking of things that tickle me, I have half a mind to go over and meet Kleinheider tomorrow. Tomorrow’s my birthday. Can a man really refuse to let a woman get a look at him on her birthday?

I don’t know. Some of you are shy or paleoconservative. Would that be too weird? I could wear a disguise so that he wouldn’t know it was me. Not that he’d know it was me anyway, but you know, so that he’d really not know it was me.

Or I could arrange for Brittney to bring him out front of WKRN on some pretense and just slowly drive by and get a good look at him from inside my car.

But, considering that stretch of Murfreesboro Road, if I slowed down to look at anyone hanging out on the side of the street, I’d probably get arrested for soliciting a prostitute.

Though, in all fairness, that would be funny in its own way.

Jesus Loves Poetry; I Love My Dog

Even Mrs. Wigglebottom has had it with the cats.  Whenever they try to come in the house, she’s right by the door, barking at them.  I’m not sure what happened while I was gone, but she’s put out.

Partially, I think, it’s this new attitude they have.  It used to be that when they wanted back in, they’d just wait for one of us to be coming in or out and that’s when they’d make their entrance.  But now?

Now the tiny cat knocks on the door and the orange cat hops up on the recycle bin and meows until you notice that he needs your attention.

The way of the cat seems to be one of being annoyed and annoying others in kind.

Mrs. Wigglebottom, on the other hand, lives life with such gusto.  I kind of envy her.  She’s so earnestly happy or sad or put out.  Sometimes, I catch myself singing "Lord, I want to be like [Mrs. Wigglebottom] in my soul, in my soul.  Lord, I want to be like [Mrs. Wigglebottom] in my soul."  I hope Jesus doesn’t mind; what I miss most about following him around is the good music.

I was thinking about him yesterday, since I’m working on that faith & doubt stuff.  I was trying to think of whether there are any other gods who are like "What the fuck am I doing?"  I can’t think of any.

There’s this moment that two gospel writers record, when Jesus is on the cross and he cries out, "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?" and the people around him think that he’s crying out for the prophet Elijah and mock him and say, "Let’s see if Elijah will save him."

But what he’s saying is "My god, my god, why have you forsaken me?"

It’s so lonely and horrible on its surface.  Here is this god’s son crying out to him at the moment of his death in such despair.  It’s unbearable.

Until you realize that Jesus was a poetry lover.  Matthew is not the first time in the Bible we read those exact words–"My god, my god, why have you forsaken me?"

Jesus is quoting the opening line of the twenty second Psalm, a Psalm that starts out in deep despair, moves to angry reminders of the trust the psalmist’s family has put in their god–"In you our fathers put their trust; they trusted and you delivered them."–and then by the end of the psalm he’s offering up praise.

I know that, in one way, it’s easy enough to understand what’s going on as just proof that Jesus has come to fulfill the Old Testament.  He cries out and they mock him and cast lots for his clothes because that’s what’s supposed to happen.

But there’s another way in which I recognize my own impulses to soothe myself with the poetry music I grew up with in his impulse to hear, one last time, the words of the psalmist.