Oh, Poverty

Every once in a while I’ll hear a story about someone living right here in Tennessee that is just so bone-crushingly depressing I almost cannot believe it’s true,

This was the lead story on Fox News last night, about a woman whose house had been condemned by Rutherford County and the trailer she was supposed to move into burnt down, but her uncle gave her one to live in and so I guess we’re supposed to feel all happy for her.

But Jesus Christ!  For twenty years, ending last week, this woman shit in an outhouse and bathed in a metal drum and had no heat.  She lives on Browns Mill Road, which means she was about 4 miles and 100 years from Murfreesboro.

I don’t know, America.  Is it too much to ask that, in 2008, we don’t have people bathing in metal drums because that’s their only choice?

The Butcher Cracks Me Up

“Wouldn’t you like me to go with you to the doctor tomorrow?”


“And wouldn’t you like me to stay out in the waiting room so that I don’t have to hear about your lady parts?”


Lingering There in the Back of My Mind

I neglected to mention that I heard from the nurse this morning.

She didn’t really say anything, just that I’m anemic and they’re going to put me on an iron supplement and that I need to go in tomorrow to talk to the doctor about my hormone levels.

On the one hand, I guess this is good. We’re not talking about cysts or fibroids or tumors or twisted ovaries. But, in my mind, having hormones “out of whack” is what happens when you’re going through menopause and I, being just 34, would rather not be going through menopause (though I also asked my mom and it seems as if the women on both sides of our family didn’t start that stuff until they were in their late 40s, early 50s), because I’m just not ready for it to be decided that I’m not having kids.

I’m really freaked out about that.

Every once in a while, I get a bug up my butt and I think “Oh, I will work on being more presentable and then all the boys will love me and then I’ll have my pick of them and we’ll get married and it will be awesome and everyone in my family will see that I was secretly lovable all along and then I will have the most cute babies the world has ever seen and everyone will beg to eat their toes.”

But then I roll over and go back to sleep.

So, it’s my own damn fault.

But still, when you’re sitting there with the nurse and she’s asking you questions trying to determine if it’s just your life leaking out of you or if it’s something that might have shaped up to be someone else unshaping its way out of you…

I don’t know.

It’s hard.

I never imagined that I wouldn’t some day be a mom, maybe a shitty one whose kids cuss and run around with dirty knees all the time, but a mom, nevertheless, and I just don’t want to give up on that.  I mean, I can make my peace with it, but I don’t want to.

Anyway, I’m borrowing trouble.  I don’t know what she’s going to say. But if this blog isn’t subtitled “Worrying about shit I can’t do anything about,” it should be.

Where Do Spiritual Residents Actually Live?

Oh, Pith in the Wind, I’m trying to get some work done here this afternoon and instead, I’m finding myself perusing AmeriJerico.


Anyway, I have but two questions.  When you see a site with a bunch of flashing rainbow logos that says “Where Lovers of All Colors are Welcome,” is your first thought really Agrarian Christians?  Second, where exactly will these spiritual residents of our fine state live?  And isn’t taking up spiritual residence in a state with no income tax just a convenient way to get out of paying taxes here all together?  It’s not like spirits buy things so as to pay sales tax.

Feminisms, Continued

This other idea that I have, which is not quite fully formed, is that another mistake we make is assuming a common timeline for “feminism” instead of recognizing that we’re all in different places.

I most immediately see this with sex positive feminism (though I think we’ve moved away from that dreadful term; I’m using it because most folks have some immediate sense of what I mean).  You have some feminists arguing that Dworkin’s admonition that all heterosexual sex is rape is bullshit and that part of being a feminist is having sexual autonomy and feeling free to enjoy one’s body.  Then you have other feminists who are all “what the fuck?  Dworkin never said that.”  And you have feminists saying “Being sexy makes me feel powerful and feeling powerful and in control is indeed feminist” and you have feminists saying “But buying into this notion of ‘sexy=powerful’ is going to leave you without much power at all once you aren’t sexy any more.”  And so on.  You can pretty much see this debate play out for yourself by asking “Is a blow job feminist?” and waiting.

But I think the difficult truth is that all those things are true–that what is an utterly feminist act for one woman is not for another.

For young girls coming up, I have a great deal of sympathy.  Though there’s always been a great deal of emphasis on “just don’t have sex and everything will be okay,” it seems to me that it’s been decades since we’ve seen young women placed under so much pressure to not have sex and decades since this has been accomplished by lying to them in ways that puts them at risk.  I mean, just for a second, feminists my age, think–do you think there’s anything wrong with using birth control?

I imagine that you, like me, grew up getting the message “Don’t have sex, but by god, if you’re going to have sex, let’s get you on the Pill.”

Now, just twenty years later, young girls cannot get accurate information about sex from their schools, about what actually prevents pregnancies, and how to use those things.  They’re faced with healthcare workers all along the line who want the right to withhold information and medications from young women and to inflict their religious views on others.

In that climate, having and enjoying sex is radical.  Understanding and flaunting your own body and pleasure is radical.  It is feminist.

It’s not what I needed when I was their age.  I needed to hear that I was good for something else other than fucking, other than my value being bound up in whether men would want to fuck me, about whether I was keeping myself in the most attractive state for my future husband.  And it’s not what I need now.

But I’m not growing up in the world those girls are growing up in.

And I think the same is also true with women older than me–that the things they need from feminism are not the same, that there the emphasis on leadership and assuming roles of power and having and achieving financial freedom are not just assumed, but still are fresh wounds.

I’m thinking, I guess, that I want to be a part not of the feminist movement, but of a feminist movement.  Just when I’m too inwardly focused, I want to turn and move outwards, and just at the moment when I have almost lost sight of myself, I want to turn back in.

That, to me, seems the best way–leading when it’s my turn and following in turn as well.

When You Assume, You… Well, You Know

The Professor is big into Debate and always telling me all about the different debate strategies and methods that coaches are coming up with and the ongoing discussions about the usefulness and appropriateness of such methods.  So, when I came upon this article in the Chronicle about a mooning incident at a recent debate tournament, of course I had to read it, to see (I’m sorry folks, I have to make this joke.  I’m contractually bound.) if this is some new form of rebuttal.

Anyway, from what I can understand, a coach got pissed at a judge and mooned her.  The incident ended up on YouTube and now the coach has been fired.

My favorite part of the story, though, is as follows:

Reached at his home on Friday, Mr. Shanahan said his biggest concern was the negative effect his “bad behavior” had had on his students and the university.

“I’m not a monster—I’m somebody who is committed to his students and his university,” he said. “I’m an ethical person, but I violated that code in the moment.” He said he now planned to write.

“I thought I was in a safe house,” he added. “I thought I was part of a community that recognized the importance of handling problems internally.”

Oh, how I laughed at this.  Dude gets so pissed off at a judge that he basically does the most disrespectful thing he can come up with while still being, kind of, in the neighborhood of the realm of decorum–in other words in order to try to “win” his point, he tried to make the judge feel as unsafe in the argument as he possibly could–and he’s whining about how he thought he was in a “safe house.”?

Bwah ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha hahhawaaa.

I know it’s going to seem like a stretch, but it reminded me of Rob Huddleston’s post from last week, regarding the school shooting over in Knoxville, when he said:

The shooter was Hispanic and apparently acted like some sort of gangster after pulling the trigger, walking calmly out of the school. He did not resist arrest when encountered by police about three blocks from the school.

As Mack pointed out, “Jamar Siler” isn’t exactly a common Hispanic name.  And, it turns out that the kid was actually born Shannon Taylor.  “Shannon Taylor” being an even less common name among Hispanic males.

John Lamb is unhappy about this.  I’ve not talked directly to John about it, but I think one of John’s objections is this assumption on Huddleston’s part that the shooter was Hispanic, as if white kids never shoot anyone, never act gangster, as if “our” problems come from the outside.

And that, I think, is what reminds me of Shanahan.  It seems like there’s this idea that we know how the world works and any corrupting influences must come from the outside, not from our own behavior.

Good Man

Joshua Blankenship has a post up about the new Superman reboot, behind which I must throw my complete support.

The Dark Knight wasn’t successful because it tapped into some secret, special dark place, it was successful because the world of The Batman is inherently dark. It was successful because it was true to form and character.

I think that’s exactly right.

But it got me thinking–what is it about the last Superman that didn’t quite work?  I mean, what would it mean to really tap into Superman’s character?

And here’s where I wonder if what we think of as a “manly hero” and Superman’s “true” nature don’t come colliding into each other.  Can we, as a culture, imagine a hero who is a good man?  One who loves humanity with his whole heart and who isn’t motivated by some tragedy or deep fucked-up-ness, but is motivated by a love of humanity and a desire to make the world safer for goodness to take root?

I’m not sure we can.  And I think that’s why Superman comes across to us as corny, so often.  But it would be interesting to see a movie about a man who decided to do good just because he could.  I don’t know.  I’ve got to tell you that I think a story like that, well-written, might be pretty intriguing.


I’ve been thinking about this thread over at Shakesville all evening and even woke up this morning still thinking about it, so I thought I’d mull some things over here.

I’ll just say up-front that I’m not that interested in the specific “WTF, Pandagon?” turn of the comments.  I mean, I think it’s safe to say that many, many of us have had a “WTF, Pandagon?” moment and made a decision, for better or for worse about what to do with that moment.

I, for one, stopped reading Pandagon.  I don’t know that that’s the right choice, but it’s the choice I made.

And I agree with the commenters who like Shakesville because it’s a smart, feminist-centric place, where racism, sexism, and other bullshit-isms aren’t tolerated.  That’s why I like it.  I sometimes think I should make some effort to make TCP that kind of place, but the truth is that I, myself, am full of racist, sexist, and other bullshittist nonsense and I don’t feel remotely qualified to start building walls against that here.

But the other thing that I’ve been thinking about is that there is a lot, lot, lot of intergenerational stuff going on among feminists that I feel in no way qualified to address.  I’m not a second-wave feminist, though my feminist role models and the women who taught me to feminist are, for the most part.  But I’m not a third-wave feminist, either.  Frankly, I’m too old and though I see that they are right about the necessity of focusing on intersectionality and complimentary modes of oppression and giving proper respect to a wide range of thinkers, they do that stuff with much more deftness than I do.

I still think, though, that the most damaging thing white privilege does to the feminist movement, over and over and over again, is that it has trained us white women to see being powerful as a proper end goal, to see being a leader as a direct reflection on our worth.  In other words, we still think (I think) of feminism’s goal as making us equal to men, without really asking ourselves if we really want what men have got.

I mean, yes, men have leadership and power and influence, but I think we can all look at the prices men pay for that–time away from family, alienation from their own emotions, enormous stress on material successes as a measure of a man’s worth–and wonder if that’s really all that worth aspiring to.

Wondering, fundimentally, if “aspiring to” is really the right goal to have.

And I don’t know.  I can’t answer that.  I just know that I’ve always felt pushed not only to do as good as I can, but to look for opportunities to take charge.

Now, as I’m older, I can see that there are three main reasons people take charge in any situation–because they believe they are a good candidate for being in charge and someone needs to; because there’s a distinct lack of leadership and someone needs to; and because they benefit from being in charge.

None of these are, in themselves, bad reasons to take charge.

But, when it comes to feminism and whiteness, it seems to me that we white women have this problem where we hardly ever sit back and ask ourselves why it is that we should lead.  Instead, it’s almost as if, in any feminist movement, you can watch the white women jostle our way to the front of the parade, as if we somehow should always be the ones who decide where it’s going.

I recognize that impulse, constantly, in myself, so I’m speaking from that position, as someone who recognizes in others what she sees in herself–that desire for you to teach me all you can so that I can better serve you.

See how pretty that impulse is?

And yet, it’s hard to remember to question why you think, automatically, that you should be in charge, running things, moving things around so that everyone benefits.

I have more thoughts, but I have to get in the shower.

How Can This Happen?!

In an effort to accurately render my mental state at any given moment, I have drawn you this picture, complete with motion lines, so that you can see my present mental state.  I don’t know if you’re aware of this, but today is August 25.  This coming weekend is Labor Day.

Which means we’re supposed to close on the house NEXT WEEK!

How can this happen?!

How will I know if it’s going to happen?

I need to call Kathy.

See, somehow I got it in my head that we were two weeks out from closing.  But no, apparently not.  It’s NEXT WEEK.

Can it happen that quickly?  Can he get the “wood-invasive organisms” letter, meaning the wood invasive fungus has been taken care of?  Will the bank get it appraised and will the appraisal come back at the price of the house?  Will the title search find us free and clear?  How will I know if these things are happening?

Who’s going to pack up all this shit?!

Here’s the thing I love about having Kathy as my real estate agent: I know I can call her up here in a while and ask her all these questions and more and no matter how stupid or obvious they are to anyone who’s ever bought a house before, she’ll talk me through everything and make sure I understand.

I was watching some first-time homebuyer’s show on HGTV last night* and HGTV flashes up on the screen “The average homebuyer looks at 15 houses” and I was just like “Hmmm, I wonder who the buyer who looked at negative 100 houses who cancels me out is.”

*After I watched L&O:CI, which, may I just say, made me a little sad.  Can someone, anyone, get Bobby a vacation to a remote island?