Happy Early Birthday To Me!

My birthday present from my parents arrived today.  I got a new cookbook to replace the one I annihilated and some gorgeous blue sheets.

And I got yelled at for opening the box before the 22nd.  But come on!  I couldn’t wait a week and a half.

I am a Girl of Many Talents

Y’all, I was talking to the Butcher and he mentioned something intriguing for dinner and I made this noise, which was like “wooo-ooo-ooo” and a whistle at the same time!  How awesome is that?

Times like this, I really need a podcast.


I’ve been thinking about this post by Blackamazon all morning, just because I feel like, even if the critique is not directed specifically to me (Blackamazon doesn’t read me, doesn’t know me from Adam, etc.), there’s a lot in there that I need to hear and consider.

I know I keep coming back to this idea of pleasure, but it’s because it seems to me that, if we as feminists want to be respectful of other women’s circumstances and their own autonomy, AND if we want to create new ways of dealing with each other, we have to stop acting like we know what the end result of feminism will and should be.

In the comments she says

I sit agape because for real

LESS THAN five years older than some of them.

AND I HAVE NO DAMN CLUE that was going on

and rather than give them avenues or tools to discuss it

we send it more bullshit. [emphasis mine]

This is exactly what I want to do, find a vocabulary for talking about how we know what paths to take, and, if we ought to, how to advise others what paths to take.

This is why I think pleasure is so important as a guidepost.  First, it undermines a whole lot of the expectations we have for how women should engage the world.  And second, no one can dictate to another what will please her, so it puts each woman’s own experience at the center of her own politics, which is, I think, exactly where it should be.

But I want to temper that pleasure slightly, because I think there’s a way in which pleasure untempered leads to cruelty and that’s not really something we need more of in the world.  So, I want to ask, does this bring pleasure to me?  Does it hurt anyone else?

I want to figure out how to recognize avenues to a better, healthier, more just world.  I don’t think it’s my place to decide what constitutes better, healthier, and more just.

What bothers me is that Blackamazon is not a feminist and she is not the only one.  If we’ve alienated the very women we think we’re making things better for… well, shoot, how can there be any bigger sign that we’re doing something wrong?

And part of what we’re doing wrong, I think, is that we’re not careful about not acting like our experiences are the default experiences and our hopes and dreams the default hopes and dreams.

I don’t know.  There’s a lot of good stuff to mull over, anyway.

I Think I Worked for Henrietta Holsman Fore

I worked one summer packing Caterpillar parts. Words cannot express how much it sucked. Ten to twelve hour days six days a week standing there counting washers or bolts or wrapping huge brake drums in this paper that you felt was poisoning you with whatever rust-resistor they put on it and then you realized that the summer help was making more money than the folks who had been there for years who were then gambling it all away on the riverboats.

So, it was with some amusement that I followed a link from Salon.com to this post over at Think Progress about Bush’s new USAID nominee. Turns out that Fore has some opinions about her employees.

The trustee, Henrietta Holsman, a 1970 graduate of Wellesley who runs a manufacturing concern in Los Angeles, resigned from the board last weekend after apologizing for her comments, which also cast aspersions on the work ethic of Hispanic and white employees. But in a letter to the college newspaper, Ms. Holsman reiterated her statement that she had trouble keeping black assembly-line workers from going “back to the street to earn more money” selling drugs.

In her lecture, Ms. Holsman also said she had found Hispanic workers to be lazy, white workers resentful of having to work with machines, and Asians, while very productive, likely to move on to professional or management jobs.

Y’all, if there’s anything funnier on this planet than listening to the bossman tell you a thing or two about the workers on the floor, I just don’t know what it is.  It may come in a close second to folks who think the whole story here is that she’s stereotyping based on race.  That’s a part of the story and maybe it’s the politically expedient part of the story.

But for me, what’s hilarious is the ways in which she reveals that the work environment in her “manufacturing concern” sucks.  Seriously, there are lazy people in the world, but most people will work hard for a fair wage in a safe working environment.

What does Fore inadvertently tell us?

1.  Her workers aren’t being paid a fair wage.  She says her black employees can make more money selling drugs than working in her factory.  As the folks who wrote Freakonomics point out, most low level drug dealers don’t make shitloads of money.  That’s why they live with their grandmas.  It pays a little better than a minimum wage job, but the risks are much higher.  That people would return to a dangerous poorly-paying job instead of working in her factory, because they can make more money on the streets, says something about how little she’s paying her employees.

2.  It’s no wonder then, that the folks who can move on, do.  The Asians leave and the black folks leave, because they have other prospects.

3.  The folks who don’t have other prospects have to resort to other means to let their disapproval of their situation show without going so far as to lose their source of income.  The Hispanics in her employ are staging a work slow-down.  The white folks complain about working with machinery.

4.  Who would complain about working with machinery?  Machines make most work easier.  Unless the machines themselves aren’t safe or the circumstances under which they must operate the machines are unsafe.

So, basically, Fore stood up in front of her college and revealed that no one who works for her wants to work for her.  Those that can leave, do, and those that can’t leave sabotage the workday in other ways.  That makes her sound like a real treat.

Random Completely Out of Proportion Bitching

1.  I really hate that, when there’s a serious problem, like water seeping into my dining room, I cannot deal with it.  It’s as if a fog of stupidity and panic just descends over me and my gut instinct is to just hand the problem over to someone else to take care of.  Can’t someone else call the landlord?  Can’t someone else wait for the plumber?  Can’t someone else mind the dog?  Because I’m busy crying on the back porch like we’re about to be forced to move to Siberia.

2.  I perceive someone else taking care of this problem as someone else showing how much he loves and cares for me.  I think this is grossly unfair of me to do to the Butcher and yet I can’t get past it.  Seriously–there is a problem, the problem is not instantly and mysteriously fixed without me having to do much of anything, you therefore don’t love me so fuck you–is fucked up.  And yet, the fact that there’s water in my dining-room makes me feel betrayed by the Butcher.  Fucked up.

3.  And it makes me feel like a failure.  Like this is just a minor thing and I don’t need some man to come and commandeer the situation and take it over.  But I want one to.  Which is not something the bodes well for my future as a feminist leader.  Heh.

3a.  But bullshit.  This is why people pair off, because doing this shit by yourself is hard and it sucks and when you encounter a place where your fucked-up-ness makes it hard for you to deal, you can, hopefully, count on your partner to step in.  Acknowledging that I don’t have that and sometimes feel the weight of not having that doesn’t make me a bad feminist, I don’t think.