Two things.

1.  A funny story.  So, I work at a place that will give you a free sample of our product if you are thinking abour requiring a bunch of people to purchase that product.  All we ask is that you pay shipping and handling.  $7.50.  Well, today, a person wrote and asked if she could return the free sample and get her money back.  That made me laugh hard enough as it was.  I mean, shoot, if you just wanted to look at it, there are whole buildings devoted to the acquisition of our product for people who just want to browse through it.  Why would you ask us for it and then want to return it?  And who refunds shipping and handling?  No.  But most hilarious–we didn’t charge her shipping and handling.

I can’t decide if she’s just a moron or a scam artist.

2.  Oooooooo. Puppies.  The first photo will crack you up, I promise.

In Defense of Naming Names

I read littlelight regularly.  I also read a lot of people who read her and say “Did you see this thing littlelight wrote?  You must go read it.”  So, I have the impression of littlelight being a Big Blog.  I think this has to to do, also, in part with littlelight’s experience being so different than mine.  Every time I read her I learn something new or am challenged to think about what I do know in a new way.

On the other hand, I read Daisy regularly and I learn a lot from her, but my impression of her, as a reader, is of someone I’d be sitting at the kitchen table with, snapping beans or shucking corn.  I don’t perceive her as a big blog.  And yet, I’ve seen lists that rank her in the top ten of big feminist blogs.

I mention this for two reasons.  One is because, if I hadn’t seen littlelight’s post today, I would have never known about Mandy Van Deven and Brittany Shoot’s post about the feminist blogosphere.  I’m not saying this to mean that my experience is definitive.  But my point is that no one person’s experience of the feminist blogosphere is definitive (or, in this case, even two people’s).  Because, for one, we’re not talking about a mutually agreed-upon set of blogs.  My feminist blogosphere, even the blogs in it that I assume to be widely known to be “Big Blogs,” are going to be different than other people’s.  I don’t, for instance, read Feministe or Feministing unless I see that someone has said something about something happening there, because I feel like the audience for those blogs is younger and hipper than me.  I rarely read Pandagon because I feel ambivalent, to put it mildly, about how stuff over there plays and has played out and whether my role as reader makes me complicit in it.  I do read Shakesville, though I find that to be a more “nodding in agreement” place than a “whoa, yeah, I didn’t see that” place.  I love Shapely Prose, because I feel like that’s a community of people who are also struggling with what it means to be in a body like this at a time like this.

But are those the big blogs under discussion?  I don’t know.  Are there others that are bigger?

If you don’t give people concrete examples of who you think is doing something uncool or problematic, how can we check for ourselves to see if we agree?  How can the people who are being critiqued answer those criticisms if they don’t know they are the ones being talked about?  If the blogosphere works through linking and engaging, how can that happen if we not only don’t link or engage, we don’t even name?

Van Deven and Shoot say

The prevention of small business growth is also present. If a blog replicates this corporate structure or becomes co-opted into the mainstream network, it can grow and compete with the bigwigs. But if a blog continues to simply work on its own, it tends to remain stagnant. In the blogging hierarchy, the system doesn’t allow for egalitarianism because of the competition for revenue. The big blogs will only let the smaller ones get so big, because they don’t want them getting as big as they are and pulling away their own sources of income.

And yet, they say nothing about what this mechanism is by which the big blogs only let the smaller ones get so big.  And don’t get me wrong, I am as aware as the next person of the behind-the-scenes emailing and such, but it seems to me that, at most, all the bloggers who don’t want people to read you can do is not link to you.  And all that means is that the people who read them will not hear about you from them.  Okay, well, that kind of sucks, but they don’t have all the readers there are, right?

Amber Rhea says

I’m sick of the constant policing of each other (which I refuse to partake in, but I’m talking about what I see others doing), of who gets to speak and who doesn’t, the hierarchy of who’s the most oppressed; yes, the Oppression Olympics.

I agree (and wonder if that will surprise her).  And I ask, [using what Amber Rhea says as a starting point, how is what Van Deven and Shoot not problematic?*] How is talking about people you won’t name (though clearly everyone participating in the discussion has some good guesses about who you mean) not about who gets to speak and who doesn’t?  Because, frankly, once you’ve said “This blog, which I won’t name, is doing all these things wrong in ways that colonize space (re: oppresses people) and we need to discuss it,” how can the person you’re talking about defend herself?  You always have plausibile deniability.  So everyone can, say, know you mean Pandagon but you never have to admit to Marcotte that you mean her.

What good comes of that?

Again, I return, again, to what I always say, which is a.) one point of feminism is that we are all supposed to be figuring out how to be the boss of ourselves, each individually, and running around trying to figure out when and how it’s okay for you to monitor other women’s behavior to make sure they’re doing it right does not serve that end.  You do not get to dictate what other women do.  If they do stuff you don’t like, fight with them openly.  Name them. Try to change their minds.  But address them.  and b.) one of the ways that women are fucked up by the patriarchy is that we are taught that our power comes through our ability to manipulate, to not be active actors, but to move behind the scenes to get our way without having to be clear about what we’re doing and thus open to confrontation.  I feel, though, of course you are free not to, that we have to learn how to fight publicly with each other.  Not naming names, claiming we’re just talking theoretically, not addressing our critics, not responding genuinely to criticism–all of that, and everybody does it, it seems to me, is manipulative.  And I don’t see how it serves a feminist purpose.

And it’s not like I’m free of those impulses.  I’m only human and I, too, was raised in this world and am colored by it.  And I have done every single thing here that I think we should struggle not to do.

But I still think it’s important to struggle against the impulse to police the behavior of other women and to manipulate them into doing what we want.  It’s just now how we should treat each other.


*I added the part in brackets for clarity because I wanted it to be clear that I was agreeing with Amber Rhea, not holding her up as another example of weird behavior.

The Number One Reason Harold Ford Should Go to Commerce

Oh, sure, there may be legitimate reasons, but let’s not overlook the most important one: The Fords as a political dynasty are going to make someone the most entertaining book every written about goings-on in Tennessee.  Ever.  Hands down, if done right, it will become a classic of American Literature.  Don’t doubt me.  I knew a play about a vibrator would be awesome and look!

But here’s the thing.  Right now, the story basically goes “There were the Fords of Memphis.  They had a tremendous rise to political power.  Then they had an enormous and often hilarious and mortifying fall from grace.”  But what comes of it?  What good are the side families and the drug problems and the shootings and the funeral homes and the indictments?  Is this a tragedy or a story of one man’s triumph over and place-taking-in his family?  And until we know what Jr. makes of his life, we can’t know the shape the story takes.

And me?  I’m a fan of ludicrousness followed by salvation.

So, that’s what I’m hoping for.

“Tiny”? Check. “Cat”? Check. “Pants”? Check. “Okay, send it to Aunt B.”

One of you sent this to me and I love it so much I sometimes look at it at that point in the afternoon when you’ve given up on the day but the clock says keep working just to get through.  And I now have permission to share it with you.

I am making Lucy an honorary Tiny Cat Pants cat.  She is the only cat to hold such a prestigious honor (okay, mostly because I just made that honor up right this second).

An enormous “Thanks” to the man willing to have his drawers shown to the whole internet.


Those Poor Bastards

I will say this for Hank III, the man has good taste in music.  Not that I have anything bad to say about Hank III, mind you.  I’m just saying that I was listening to the three songs off Those Poor Bastards’ new album that I picked up off the internet somewhere and I was thinking, who are these people and why have I never heard of them?  And I go to their website and, of course, they’ve been touring with Hank III.

Anyway, the three songs I’ve heard of theirs are a cover of “Walk the Line” which, frankly, isn’t very good, and “Crooked Man” and “The Bright Side” all off of their “Satan is Watching” album.  “Crooked Man” and “The Bright Side” are brilliant.  Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant.  From their website, they seem to be trying to pitch themselves as “gothic country” in a way that suggests that this sounds like some old, true strain of country music.  That is, of course, as the song says, “bullshit, fucking bullshit.”  It’s more like, if Rob Zombie and Gillian Welch had a baby that they let Hank III babysit, assuming Hank III was on drugs during the lullabye portion of the evening.

So, I guess it’s traditional in that sense of “Here’s what we wish country music would have sounded more like all along,” a la Welch.  But it’s got the theatric evil of a good Rob Zombie song, but without the sense that it’s all a put-on.

Finding out that they were out of Madison, Wisconsin, was about the least surprising thing on the planet, as it’s country music for kids who grew up on Metallica.

Anyway, since I like Rob Zombie, Gillian Welch, Hank III (and II and I, for that matter), and old Metallica (though I haven’t heard anyone say anything about their new pussy-as-grave album.  Was it not very good?), I like what I’ve heard of Those Poor Bastards.

Ha, in all my justifying, I have run out of time to talk about the stuff I like best–the crazy interesting lyrics and that I discovered them for free on the internet from the comfort of my own home.  And I’m tickled by all this bullshit myth-making.  I like to see it in action.