Two Things

1. Gordon Belt has an interesting post about tracing his Melungeon heritage. He’s descended from Goins-es, which is a pretty good tell. If you’ve got a Goins ancestor from Appalachia, you need to learn about the Melungeons. The thing I thought was interesting here is that his ancestor was a ferryman. And you know the Hulans ran the the ferry out at the end of Bells Bend. You know I always wondered if that wasn’t a survival mechanism–live in a fairly isolated rural place, control the one easy way in or out, and protect yourself from the kinds of hassles other people who weren’t firmly white got.

2. Let me say up front that I think women should be able to breastfeed wherever they want, whenever they want, for as long as the mom and child are both comfortable with it and able to do it. This is not a comment on breast feeding in and of itself. This is, instead, a realization I had after reading Chris Wage’s post. This is like the headless fatty picture. Are there morbidly obese people? Yes. But when we’re talking about the obesity epidemic, you know, the one we illustrate with headless morbidly obese women, is that an accurate representation of who in our nation is seeing rising obesity rates and what their obesity looks like? No. It’s an image designed to disgust you (hence why you don’t get to see her face) and to, I suspect, annoy you that she’s not making herself aesthetically pleasing to you for you.

See?! See how that is a similar dynamic to the Time breastfeeding cover? Are there young, blond, fit women who are dressed like they just got back from yoga class who defiantly let their three year old stand on a chair and breastfeed out in public? Sure, I guess so. The world is big and it takes all kinds.

But when we’re talking about breastfeeding in public–and in fact, when most people are like “Oh, that baby is too big for that”–who are we actually talking about? Babies. Maybe very tiny toddlers. Mothers who don’t want to stand next to a park bench while Junior stands on it to eat, but mothers who want to sit on the park bench and hold Junior in their arms while he eats.

But, this picture is supposed to disgust you–“the kid is too old!!!!!”–and, I think, annoy you that this woman who is aesthetically pleasing is doing something with her tit other than letting it titillate you (hee). The “ew, gross” thing is easy enough to see. But the tricky thing is to see the message  of “be angry! This woman whose body is for you is not concerned about what you think and thus all women who share this trait with her are like her, defying you.” But that’s actually the more problematic message, especially since most of us don’t consciously see ourselves as wanting to be the boss of everyone. It plays on something deep–the desire to control–that we don’t often have conscious awareness of.

Thank You, Mike Turner

I wish I could have seen Hurley’s face when you were asking her that stuff.

As I’ve said before and I’ll say again, Hurley, eventually we are all bad girls. You cannot cute your way out of that day of bullshit. You cannot sweetly air-head your way out of that day of bullshit.

Someday you, behaving just as you do every other day of your life, are going to find it’s not longer tolerated.

While you are in the grace period, you should work on milking it for all its worth–get people to teach you things, work on stretching your brain. Because when the day of bullshit comes and you find yourself out of favor, you will need a sharp and quick mind to keep your power.

So, I hope, for your sake, that you’re working on that.

Everyone

I read this post over at Feministe and I want to say that I agree with her that it’s not clear that more men are being raped in this country than women. I also agree that that number is a lot closer than anyone thought, though.

And here’s the thing–those people eventually come home, most of them.  And we already do a shitty job of helping  rape victims reintegrate into society, usually demanding of them some admission of what they did wrong to deserve being raped. It’s impossible not to see similar attitudes in our society toward prisoners. Rape is basically seen as the inevitable outcome of going to prison.

I also read this article about how birth control is basically one of the biggest changes in human history and how it’s going to take a century or two for people to really work out what it means. I do sometimes thing that some guys feel like they were promised a world in which they’d be allowed to do whatever they want and some gals feel like they were promised that, if they were good, they’d be protected from the guys who are allowed to do really bad things to, you know, people who deserve it. And I think that some people are pissed that they’re being told “no” and I think some people feel like they’re being left unprotected. But turning on the rest of us isn’t going to get you what you were promised. It was always already a lie.

Ha ha ha. Score one for me for using “always already” in a way that doesn’t feel clunky. I won’t attempt a “problematize,” since there’s simply no way to make that word actually mean something more profound than “makes me have conflicted thoughts I haven’t organized.”

Miranda Lambert is Not a Feminist, But…

She’s the only celebrity I’ve heard of who objected to Chris Brown at the Grammy’s.

Country singer Miranda Lambert doesn’t get why controversial R&B star Chris Brown was allowed to perform twice at the Grammys on Sunday.

She tweeted on Monday: “He beat on a girl…not cool that we act like that didn’t happen.”

But, you know, if they’d said “We’re not going to bring up on stage anyone who’s a known domestic abuser,” it would have made the Glen Campbell stuff very strange.

Heh. Maybe instead of not letting them up on stage, the Grammy’s should have just taken a moment to invite them all up on stage–anyone who’s known for violence against women. Just to illustrate the depths of the problem.

That would have been interesting.

Anyway, if “I’m not a feminist” means a willingness to speak out against domestic violence, then I welcome “I’m not a feminist”s to the feminist fold.

The Masks of Living People

Late last night, I caught the premier of this show on HGTV. Let me just say two things.

1. If you’re ever wondering if there’s anything about Nashville I don’t like, it’s these people, who permeate a whole strata of Nashville society and are recognizable by their accents which are all the same, but unlike anyone else’s who live here and the way they smile with terrified eyes, as if they are not, at any moment, sure why anyone else is smiling, but are faking it until they make it, hoping no one important will ask them what they’re smiling about. The thing I like best about Nashville is that it takes no effort to organize your life to hardly ever run into folks like this.

2. Why is “let’s make your house look like a hotel” a design strategy? I could even understand it in terms of furniture, but I would stab a person who wanted to put art on my walls that had no personal meaning to me. Ha, obviously, I have strong feelings about interior design. Who knew?

Okay, now on to the observation I have upon watching LeAnn Rimes for 22 minutes. And I want to make this observation in a way that isn’t body-snarking or, well, only body snarking. But LeAnn Rimes looks terrible. It’s not how skinny she is, though I guess that’s a concern people have. It’s that her face looks like a mask.

It’s like this. You know when you see an actor in a fat suit and you see a fat person and you can see, in their faces, that one person is actually in that face and the other person is somehow behind their face? Like you can just see that it’s not their real face, no matter how good the makeup is, because they just look like they’re wearing a mask, somehow.

That is what LeAnn Rimes looks like–like she’s wearing a mask, except that it obviously looks like it’s made out of skin, so the effect is that she looks like she’s wearing a mask made from the corpse face of LeAnn Rimes. And it’s not just her. There’s a whole group of Hollywood women with so much plastic surgery that they appear to me to be more wearing flesh masks instead of their actual faces. But usually, like Joan Rivers, they all kind of start to look the same, that weird old cat-person look. But Rimes’s face looks fine, except for something I can’t quite put my finger on.

I mean, yes, I know I said it looks terrible, and now I’m saying that it looks fine, but I think, weirdly, that it is sliding into the uncanny valley for me. It’s not that she doesn’t look human. She does. But her face does not give my brain the visual cues I need to recognize her as alive.

And that got me thinking about this bizarre beauty standard our society has. I was telling the Professor this afternoon that I feel like we’ve gotten pretty good at recognizing that fat people are supposed to be thin, but not too thin, but “too thin” isn’t a health-judgment but a value-judgment made by other people (so you can be in this fucked up space where you are too thin for your health, but not thin enough to suit other people). And we do an okay job of talking about how thin women feel pressure to be thin in the right ways–still have boobs, have a butt, don’t be too muscular, etc.

But hiding behind “for your health” and “look like the women in the magazines” (even though they don’t look like that in real life) is this emerging, weird “look like you are not really alive” standard. I’m sure we’re supposed to be striving to look like dolls, but honestly, to me, it’s like we’re being encouraged to look like corpses. You know what I mean? When someone dies, you stand there at their casket loking at them and you know whatever animating force that was them is gone. Something in their face just looks not quite right, not quite human any more. And what worries me about the current Hollywood fashion for these mostly frozen faces, is that it seems to mask their animating force as well.

Maybe that’s the point, though.

I don’t know.

Today In Cooter News…

Apparently it was just three years ago that science came to learn the shape, size, and structure of the clitoris. Yes, three. As the article says:

“Dr. Foldès has been performing surgery on women who have suffered from clitoral mutilation, restoring pleasure to over 3,000 circumcised patients,” and is dedicated to studying the clitoris for many reasons. “When I returned to France to treat genital mutilation, I was amazed that they were never tried. The medical literature tells us the truth about our contempt for women,” he said. ”For three centuries, there are thousands of references to penile surgery, nothing on the clitoris, except for some cancers or dermatology -and nothing to restore its sensitivity. The very existence of an organ of pleasure is denied, medically. Today, if you look at the anatomy books that all surgeons have, you will find two pages above. There is a real intellectual excision.

The take-away? Your clitoris is enormous. It hugs your vagina. And it is awesome.

The Last I’m Going to Say on the Matter

I feel bad for Clarisse Thorn. Especially now seeing commenters over at Feministe talking about how she needs to atone for… honestly… I don’t know what.

Was it a strange thing for Thorn to post an interview with a guy who claims to be a feminist who tried to kill his ex-girlfriend? Yes. Was it wrong of her to close down the thread as people were growing more angry and concerned about whether Feministe was now going to start centering and helping to normalize and legitimize a feminist who tried to kill his ex-girlfriend? Yes.

But, honestly, how was Thorn supposed to have known about the long-standing factional war against Schwyzer, Marcotte, et al?

Schwyzer? He’s an asshole who should be given NO institutional credibility by other feminist sites. End of discussion about that. If it wasn’t clear before, it should be now.

But at this point, looking at how people are talking to and about Thorn? I can’t help but see that part of it is that Schwyzer, Marcotte, et al have never responded in an adequate way to their various shortcomings (and let’s be honest, in some cases–excluding criminal and borderline criminal acts–if you can’t be sorry enough, why be sorry at all?) and have stopped responding at all, and poor Thorn is still trying to engage, so she’s become the focus of a lot of long-simmering rage that she didn’t earn.

How is that something to feel good about? What is the end goal with that?

Five Years, Already, Again

So, I know I said I was going to give it some time, but, eh, fuck it. It’s actually not worth spending a lot of time on. Here’s the thing: there are a ton of drug addicts in the world out there doing shitty things. Some drug addicts even kill or try to kill other people in the course of their addictions.

That still is a horse of a different color than seeing a woman you ostensibly care about passed out on the floor of your home and you deciding that her life is of no more value, that she would be better off dead, and then making active motions to kill her. That’s not “my life is of no more value, I’d be better off dead” (a common addict’s refrain). That’s not “I need your money for drugs. Oops. I killed you.” That’s “I decided the kindest thing to do for you would be to kill you.”

And that, my friends, is fucking scary. It’s creepy, but not in the way I normally toss “creepy” around. That’s “I don’t view you as an autonomous person with a life of your own, therefore I can decide to put you down without consideration of what you might want.”

There are a lot of  things that brought Schwyzer to that point that are reformable–he could get treatment for drug addiction; he could no longer have contact with that woman–things he has indeed done.

But being a drug addict doesn’t make you think that you know better than other people whether they should live or die. Being a drug addict, at most, just muffles whatever part of your brain might send up a warning signal that says “You should not act on this impulse.”

I know this kind of sounds like splitting hairs, but I’m going to split a hair. I think that forgiveness for the attempt on her life can only be given by the woman Schwyzer himself admits he tried to kill. And I think that it is not our place to be doling out forgiveness or withholding it on her behalf. Who knows what she wants? And please, let us all be kind enough to refrain from trying to find out.

But Schwyzer himself has now publicly said that he believed that he was somehow helping or justified in trying to end this woman’s life–either because she was in such a bad spot or because he was so whacked out on drugs or whatever. It doesn’t matter, honestly, why he thought at the time that it was justified. He did.

And even if I can believe that he is truly sorry for trying to kill a person–though honestly, I don’t care if he’s sorry–I don’t believe I have a successful way of knowing that he no longer believes that he knows better than another person what she should do with her life. I am wary of him choosing a profession that lets him hold a position in which he is rewarded for knowing better than young women and getting to guide them to knowledge. That, to me, doesn’t signal “I know I am no better judge than the woman before me of what she should do with her life.” I don’t think running a prominent feminist blog or putting himself out there as a male voice of feminism works to that end either.

I don’t intend to read Hugo Schwyzer. I stopped reading him in 2008, long before he provided all this information about trying to kill a woman.

But when he comes up for discussion on places I do read, or when he posts places I do read, I will be reading with a careful eye about whether what I see before me is proof that he now understands that he is not in a position to judge women or to guide us to the result he thinks is best for us. Because, frankly, it’s only evidence of that change that’s going to make me feel like the fundamental problem has been addressed.

I think this whole issue has been muddied by the way the feminist blogosphere works. People are burnt out on the constant wars, the constant infighting, the purity tests, etc. So, believe me, I understand the impulse to chalk this up to yet another round of this group of people vs. that group of people.  And, yes, I get the desire to pull back and talk about these things in the abstract. Can people be forgiven? Can they be redeemed? Those are interesting questions.

But here is the truth. Hugo Schwyzer told a story about himself in which he illustrated that he once came to a point in his life when his belief that he knows better than someone else whether her life as it is has value lead him to believe it would be best if she was put down and he acted on it.

There is not a thing wrong with anyone–women, drug addicts, people who might become unconscious in front of him–for both being alarmed and disgusted at that story AND for being certain that its not our jobs to repeatedly give him the benefit of the doubt that he’s changed.

I, do, though, also want to acknowledge that Schwyzer is apparently a fine teacher and someone at least some of his colleagues and friends feel very positive about and very loyal to.

I’m sure most “angels of mercy” are fine nurses and help and save many people, as well.

So, the esteem his students, colleagues, and friends hold him in really tells me nothing about whether he now understands that he does not know better than women whether our lives as they are have value, since his job rewards him for teaching women things they didn’t know.

And I won’t put myself in the path of him, for the reasons I’ve outlined above–I cannot tell by how he lives his life now that he gets that he does not know better than women what our lives should be like.

I assume everyone else can come to their own conclusions.

Never Before Have I Been so Relieved to be Aging Out of the Feminist Blogosphere

This, this, this.

I have lots of thoughts on this crap, but none of it is coherent. I wonder, for instance, not just whether you should quote extensively from people without asking when you’re writing about an instance in which people felt that there was a lot of “borrowing” without asking. I wonder if it’s even “fair use” to use whole blog posts without asking permission. I wonder about that dude’s friend, who seems like he might be being abused by his wife, and his friend sees his weird behavior and ascribes the problem to “women” or “feminists” and not to abuse. And I wonder if I really believe in redemption and I think that I don’t. Or at least, I don’t believe redemption then means you get to put yourself center stage.

Young Mothers

Holy cow, this interview with Lauren Bruce is amazing. I think there’s a lot of overlap between what Lauren is saying and what Kathy says in this post:

You know what I’d like to see? A story about abortion restrictions in red states written by a woman who actually lives in one. I’d like to see more stories about working-class women — women are disproportionately poor — written by actual, working-class women. But most importantly I’d like too see the larger sites at least acknowledge that some of those women are a part of their readership.

I think that, at the least, it’s time we start being more critical about stories about people that aren’t by those people and that don’t include the viewpoints and experiences of those people.

The Proportion of Haters Remains the Same

I’ve been following the ongoing discussion of the ways jerks on the internet are especially vile to women. Like Digby had a commenter who once told her that she wrote a lot better before she “came out as a woman.” And I don’t think I’ll ever forget when one of the usual trolls at Post Politics told GoldnI that someone needed to teach her “a lesson.” I’ve been fairly lucky, I think. The problems I’ve had here have been very minor and I don’t really read the comments at Pith, so they could be as nasty as hell and I’d never know.

But one thing I’ve noticed is that all it takes is having a public platform. Period. A woman who write about staying home with her four children can attract assholes who then decide to spend their free time telling her how she’s been brainwashed by her “sky fairy” and how her children should be taken away from her and so on. A single woman with no kids can attract assholes who then decide to spend their free time dogging on her for how she’s unlovable. There literally is no “right” behavior that doesn’t result in assholes.

What’s interesting to me is that we, as women, are raised to be nice, to acquiesce, and to try to put ourselves in the position of the other person, and to assume either the best of that person or that we’ve provoked them somehow, or that they just can’t help it. We have been raised to not be bitches. And yet, not being a “bitch” doesn’t save you from abuse.

What’s more, people who aren’t skivvy assholes enjoy the company of people who are loud and opinionated and who know their own minds and do things they find fulfilling. So, it’s as if we’re being steered away from a really awesome, positive personality trait because it might make us “bitches” in the eyes of people who are always going to find something wrong with us anyway, without regard that it will make our lives more enjoyable to us if we can speak our minds.

But haters are always going to hate, as Kat Williams says, so why worry about whether and how we should acquiesce to them and instead worry about mitigating their damage. That’s why I love Alyssa Rosenberg’s of a “Threat of the Day,” which works especially well because, she’s right, it’s not just that they say it on a site as prominent as Think Progress, but that Google archives it. Pointing out that it’ll be around forever is as excellent a payback as I can think of.

Mir-an-da! Mir-an-da!

Today’s the day that Miranda Lambert’s new album comes out and it is awesome. Of course the cover of “Look at Miss Ohio” is amazing. But the whole album is really interesting. You know how these days you listen to an album and are like “Okay, I’ll buy these three songs on iTunes and call it good”? I think Lambert has made an album that makes that strategy very difficult, since every song is strong. And I’m still digging the Pistol Annies album.

One thing I’ve been thinking about is how Lambert’s songs would have knocked me on my heels when I was younger. I grew up in the era of… ugh… there’s got to be a term for it… like the female countrypolitan revival? You know Kathy Mattea, Trisha Yearwood, Martina “My Baby Loves Me Just the Way that I am” McBride (as opposed to Martina “Someone died and it’s very sad” McBride). They were great, but they all seemed older and somewhat suburban. I don’t mean that as a putdown but just that they would have been a lot more comfortable in urban life than I would have at that age.

Lambert sounds like she’s singing to rural young women.

And one of the things I’ve been kind of struggling with is that I experience her as incredibly feminist. The first song on her new album is literally about it taking “All Kinds of Kinds” of people to make up the world–people who do strange things and fuck in strange ways. She has songs about knowing what she wants sexually and being unafraid to go for it. She has songs about realizing the guy you’re with is never going to change and that you deserve better. She has a song, “Mama’s Broken Heart,” about how times have changed and the demure together ways that women used to get their hearts stomped on does not cut it and she’s going to be pissed and fall apart instead. And, of course, there’s “Look at Miss Ohio,” which Lambert infuses with such richness that it stops me cold, about the twin desires to be “good,” to do right–what your momma and your boyfriend want–and to not do it right now.

To me, the idea that you deserve the chance to put your own needs first, to try for what you think might make you happy, even if it’s strange or inexplicable or improper is at the core of feminism.

And yet, I don’t really think Lambert would call herself a feminist. Maybe. But I don’t really know. It doesn’t actually matter to my point, which is that I sometimes think that I need to be more careful of the ways I am saying “you’re like me” (or the converse) without considering the other person’s perspective.

I see a lot in the feminist blogosphere how once someone has been identified as “like me,” that person gets held to the same internal rules that the identifier has made up for herself. Like I think I should write about how awesome Miranda Lambert is and I am a feminist and a blogger, other feminist bloggers who don’t write about how awesome Miranda Lambert is are doing it wrong.

I’m meandering a little here folks, obviously, but I think the root of all oppression is in the urge to be the boss of someone (or the feeling that you are rightfully the boss of someone). And “I understand you because you are like me” is a feeling that can easily lead into “Because you are like me and I understand you, you should do what I say.”

So, I’m not going to label Lambert a feminist. I don’t know. I think she’s making some incredibly feminist music, though, which is awesome.

 

Invisible Women

1. Jonathan Franzen takes inspiration only from himself.

2. Dorothy Cooper can’t vote and this is a fundraising opportunity. No, no, not to raises funds to get Cooper to the DMV. I swear to god, things like this make me want to quit political blogging. Who stands around asking themselves “How can this woman’s injustice benefit us?”

3. Obviously, a text can’t be non-linear, only multi-linear. And I’m glad to see Shelley Jackson getting props, but she wasn’t the only woman. She is, however, the only real woman mentioned in this article.

4. Tom Piazza has a list of music to go with his new book, which I am excited to read.

5. This is quite possibly the creepiest thing I’ve ever read. But in good news, this and the other column Gene Lyons wrote will help Professor Melissa Harris-Perry when she needs to get a restraining order against this fool.

 

Precision

One thing I find myself mulling over whenever I read feminist (or other social justice) blogs is that there is a fine line between metaphor as enlightening and metaphor as useless. But lately, I’ve also been thinking about the critique of metaphor.

And I don’t know how to get at this distinction exactly, but it seems to me that there are two negative responses to metaphors: either the metaphor is not quite right and therefore really doesn’t illuminate some part of the issue (a very useful critique, I think) or the metaphor is not quite right and we all must figure out what the right metaphor would be, with this bizarre urgency.

I’m starting to suspect that the bizarre urgency is because we still believe that, if only we could figure out exactly the right way to state our case, we’d get what we want. And yet, surely, by this point, we must suspect that it’s not that the people holding out on us don’t know what we want, it’s that they don’t want to give it.

Other Things I Would Do with a Bronze Prognosticating Robot Head

Whew, I have been giggling about Pope Sylvester all day. I guess, in all fairness, that accusing a reform-minded pope of consorting with demons makes a certain amount of sense if you are anti-reform. But I’m perplexed by the bronze prognosticating robot head. Is this supposed to tell us something about an anxiety about science and technology coupled with a resistance to reform?

I’ve been picking through a book about the priests who came to the Americas in order to learn more about God. They considered themselves to be scientists and by figuring out how the world worked and how things were create and are relate, they felt like they were literally learning the mind of God, getting to catch a glimpse of how His mind worked, anyway.

I admit, I don’t often realize how much the dominant Christian message in my community seeps in and curdles my feelings about Christianity. But this book is kind of making me realize my own prejudices in reverse. You know what I mean? I find it so mind-boggling that Christian church leaders could be so excited about science, so delighted when they get a glimpse of how vast the world of unknown things is, and so enthusiastic about figuring things out.

I wonder if this is because there really isn’t a separation of the sacred and the secular in their minds. They could catch glimpses of what we’d later understand as evolution and not feel like it undermined their belief that God created the universe. Of course He did. They were merely better clarifying the blueprint He used to do so.

I guess this is one of the reasons I find feminist discussions about religion in which we are all advised to just stop being religious because it is inherently sexist to be unsatisfying. I know this is pretty ironic considering that my dissatisfaction with Christianity at the time I left did pretty much center around my lack of a desire to keep fighting for a way for me to be non-self-loathing as a woman and Christian. But I do think it’s possible. I think that’s part of why it was so hard to just give it up and why it’s been important for me to find a way to make peace with it.

But I feel an intense longing for transcendence, you know? And I feel close to my dead relatives in mystical ways. I feel like magical things have happened to me and that I have done, sometimes by accident, magical things. And this belief, more like a core feeling, that I am a spiritual being of great value to Great Powers does inform and feed my feminism.

I don’t have any desire to give that up.

Anyway, the very first thing I would do with my bronze, prognosticating head, if I had one, would be to set it on top of my actual head and wear it like a hat.

The Problem, Briefly

Mitch Daniels says:

“We need to really present ourselves in Indiana and Tennessee and places elsewhere as people who favor change that believes in you, that believes you are an individual of dignity and a person who is fully up to the task of leading your own life.”

Chip Forrester says:

“Tennessee Republicans have a surplus of bad ideas that make it harder for working people to get by or for their kids to get a decent education — there’s no need to steal inspiration from Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, the man who wrote the failed economic policies that led us into Bush’s recession.”

I say, really? A Democrat hears what came out of Daniels’ mouth and the first thing that pops into his head is “working people”? Not the blatant hypocrisy of claiming to believe that I am a person of dignity and fully up to the task of leading my own life and then assaulting my ability to lead my own life like it’s going out of style just because I’m a woman?

Seriously, when you can’t say “funny, they don’t seem to believe that about women” but instead have to talk about “working people” or “kids” (never mind the amount of people in this state who aren’t working but would like to be), we women should take note. and then underline it. “People” and “kids” get defended. We don’t.

With What Gaze Do We Look at Captain Morgan?

I probably should wait to post about this until I have my thoughts organized, but I saw a shorter version, one stripped (so to speak) of any hint of girls on the ship, on TV and have just watched this one a number of times in a row and my mind is blown. I feel like this ad encourages the viewer to take sexual pleasure in watching the Captain. And I do. I think it’s the shoulders.

But it’s weird. There are really sexy ads that play off of the fact that, of course, women who are sexually attracted to men like to look at men, but it’s often played as a joke or as a way to demean the shlub of the commercial, who you’re supposed to identify with. But a commercial that just sat back and said, basically, yeah, watch this? And which demonstrated that men also could take pleasure in watching an attractive man?

I don’t know. Something about this video seemed like something I don’t see enough of. And I don’t mean shoulders like that, though those are nice.

Maybe in the morning I’ll find all the thrusting cannons of Morgan’s ship and the impotent gunfire of the other ship funny and we can all laugh about how Morgan takes his cloths off and that, for some reason, some mysterious reason, causes the other ship to applaud. Perhaps we’ll ponder his lack of chest hair. But tonight, I’m just intrigued to see a commercial in which a man walks through a crowd, taking his cloths off, and the commercial plays it like it’s something everyone would, of course, want to keep an eye on.

When Your Story of How the World Works Runs Up Against How the World Works

I’m running short on time this morning, but I wanted to say that the thing that struck me about this is how familiar it seems–from the whole “he got me drunk” to the “he cheated on me” to the “we were going to get married.”

I know it’s kind of bullshit of me, but I don’t want to talk about the truthfulness of this particular claim. Instead, I want to say that I believe Palin is telling this story how she’s telling it because it fits a specific narrative–how you have to be on-guard at all times or the wrong boy will ruin you and you’ll be stuck with him. This is abstinence-only how it actually plays out (not the cute “the only safe sex is no sex” bullshit people seem to think). And this is a world-view I know like the back of my hand.

I don’t know if she realizes she’s accusing him of raping her. It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out over the coming weeks, since the statute of limitations on rape in Alaska hasn’t expired yet. I do know, quite clearly, she is accusing him of ruining her and forcing her to be stuck with him, when he’s a jerk.

I think there will be a lot of girls and young women who follow this story because the “he ruined me and I got stuck with him” part resonates.

I reckon they will be surprised to learn that there’s another way of looking at what happened–that it’s a crime and that a lot of people are grossed out by the thought of a girl’s family encouraging her to stick with her rapist.

That’s going to be eye-opening for some girls.

Cult of True Womanhood

Oh, I’m glad Kathy brought this up, because I meant to say the other day that I thought Tami of What Tami Said was so spot-on about this being the direct descendant of the Cult of True Womanhood that, when I read it, it blew my mind. I mean, oh, duh, of course it is.

And, yeah, the amount of women who defend it, well, duh, for women who were allowed to be in it and who could make it work and didn’t find it stifling, the Cult of True Womanhood fucking rocked, too. Conforming is easier than not. Being able to conform the best has rewards.

But this is something I’ve noticed over the years and I just don’t feel smart enough to really get at. There are a lot of moments in U.S. culture–because of our cultural myth of the individual–where a kind of “fuck it, I’ll do what I want” ethos becomes the prevailing ethos. I mean, I spent the 80s in a Billy and the Boingers t-shirt and much of the early 90s in flannel and it was awesome. And I totally felt, in my flannel and my Doc Martens and my short hair and my ears full up with metal, like I was saying something about your fascist beauty standards.

Yeah, me and all the other girls, right? Who wasn’t wearing flannel and clunky shoes? Or Chuck Ts before that?

The ways I could signal “fuck it, I’ll do what I want” were also culturally prescribed. The things I could buy to wear that looked different than the girls I didn’t want to be like? They were available to all the other girls who wanted to look different than the girls they didn’t want to be like. Even when my mom made my prom dress, which was so awesome, we still had a pattern and we picked it out so that it looked good, with “good” having a lot of baggage.

Even now, if you want to be “different” there are only so many ways you can be. You can feel like you are freely choosing and still be choosing from a limited number of options. We are all unique flowers in the limited number of ways we can be.

I don’t think it’s appropriate to sit around and police the choices women make about how we present ourselves. But I sure as hell do think it’s appropriate to sit around and consider why these are our choices at this particular time.

And hell yes, we keep getting sold the same old problematic racist, sexist, classist bullshit stories we always get sold, even in our rebellions.

And the sad trick is that you can’t not succumb to it in some ways.

Eh, I had a lot more to say about that than I thought, I guess. I do miss a constant state of flannel, though. I kind of hope the rumors of a coming mini-ice age are true. I’ll be happy to wear clunky footwear and oversized flannel shirts. I might even get my nose pierced, if it comes to it.

The Pretty Girl is the One with Poor Healthcare?

You know, I like to make sense of things. Like somebody says or does something that seems strange and I like to learn enough about them and history and societal trends and stuff to understand what’s going on.

Today, I have read something so inexplicable that I actually can’t make sense of it. Like, I feel like there is some sense to be made of it, but I can’t do it.

Here it is. In an article talking about the defunding of Planned Parenthood and how it happened, Stacey Campfield says:

“We had to kiss a lot of ugly girls at the prom, but we took the pretty one home,” said Campfield. “As long as we got what I was looking for, which was defunding Planned Parenthood, I’m willing to let it drop.”

Campfield equates a situation where he can’t control women’s healthcare with being forced to kiss ugly girls and a situation in which he can actively harm women by denying them healthcare as being able to take a pretty girl home.

Holy shit.

Whoa

Over at Andrew Sullivan’s, he’s collecting links to a bunch of pundits who are sitting around talking about what should and shouldn’t be illegal for grown adult people to do based on whether they’d like the legal right to keep their daughters from it.

I give you three guesses what gender all the discussion-havers are.

And I submit that, as long as this is the frame “What do I as father feel comfortable allowing my daughter to decide to do?” for what men decide should be legal or not, then there is no way for grown, adult women to have a path to independent, equal citizenship. That is literally paternalism.

How about, instead, gentlemen, you raise your daughters to be the best people they can be and stop envisioning the law as a way to expand your power as father who dictates what can and can’t happen to us into our adult lives?

Why should I have to pay the price in less autonomy for your fears about your shitty fatherhood? For that matter, why should your daughters?

Honestly, I can’t believe this is supposed to be an interesting discussion and not just obviously a fucked-up one.

I’m Surly

I admit, I spent much of my morning gnawing on the splintery bone of bitterness. I feel like I’m fucking up in some way I can’t put my finger on–that there’s some obvious right thing to do and I cannot figure it out, therefore can’t do it.

And I know that’s bullshit, but I still feel it.

I’m grouchy, too, because, and I know this is stupid and ugly, but you know, my cousin was a magnanimous bullshitter with a huge substance abuse problem and it pisses me off that he’s dead in the ground and other people get grand public redemptions. And everyone still loves them and they still get to breathe air.

And I know one thing doesn’t have to do with the other. It’s not like that dude has the spot my cousin should have had. It’s not that way. And it’s not like my cousin didn’t also have a million chances. But man, sometimes, I’m jealous just the same.

And I’m so pissed, still, all these years later, following his kids on Facebook, looking at pictures of his grandkids, that he fucking did that to himself.

And I am afraid that he won’t be the only one in our family, you know? I mean, so far, so good, but people are dumbasses. And you hear some shit out of the living ones sometimes, like, oh, earlier this week, that makes you wonder how we’ve made it this far without losing more of us.

I’m also pissed that people in my Twitter stream are all “Oh, have you read this awesome book. It’s so awesome about feminism.” And yes, I get that, once there’s been a big blow-up, people will come out to show that they are not among the ones that fucked up. But you know, I don’t live in New York City and I don’t give my credit card number to places I don’t know anything about. My finances are not such that I can take that risk, no matter how small.

So, even if it is interesting to me, I guess I have to hope that somehow some library around here is going to get it.

So, yeah, I’m feeling too old, too low class, and too geographically challenged to even be on the wrong ends of the feminist brouhahas.

I guess I should just accept that and move on.

One Disturbing Thing

During one of the presentations yesterday, we got to see this Youtube video of Kellie Pickler on Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader?

I can’t stop thinking about it. I don’t know. I find it so upsetting. I mean, first of all, there’s a moment, shortly after Pickler looks like she would like to run off stage and go die in her dressing room, when you can see that she gets that Foxworthy is not her ally in this moment, and, whew, is she sharp and fast at him. The thing about that moment is that it’s clear Pickler isn’t dumb, right? She pretty much instantaneously gets that Foxworthy is a misogynistic fuck, right? That he’s not even using her situation to make fun of her at her own expense, but that he’s turning her into an example of how women are. That’s a lot to get in a short time. She is as quick-witted as they come.

And so, it’s not like I can comfortably watch that and feel like “Oh, Kellie Pickler, what a dumbass.” She’s clearly sharp. So, I sat there watching, thinking “How the hell does a bright woman end up not knowing that France is a country?” The presenter alluded to her very troubled home life growing up, so I was thinking, “Well, maybe she was just in and out of school a lot.” But she graduated from high school, according to Wikipedia.

Someone just fucking failed her, and failed her big, along the way.

But that’s not the part that sticks with me. The part I can’t let go of is that there were a lot of people who thought this, this moment, was a good idea. Nobody at her label said “Hey, you know, you had a shitty education. Maybe you don’t want to get up there and embarrass yourself.” or “You know, Foxworthy can be an asshole; maybe you don’t need to subject yourself to that.” Nobody said “If you can’t get to $25,000, you won’t have any money for your charity. Are you sure you can get that far?”

Instead, all along the way, folks thought this seemed like a good idea, would make for good entertainment–that watching Pickler be publicly embarrassed, that letting everyone have a good laugh about what a dumbass she is and how funny it is when she panics–and then letting Foxworthy tell her that it’s because she’s a woman–would be great television.

Oh, look at the stupid, babbling woman, who babbles and is stupid because she’s a woman.

I wanted for Pickler a “Help Me, Mary” moment, where she gets famous enough that she can burn all those fuckers down. I hope Dolly Parton teaches her that.

I don’t know. It’s one thing–and I’m sure it’s true throughout the music industry, throughout history–but I’m thinking a lot about it because I’ve been listening to people discuss country music for two days straight. It’s one thing that seems a constant: find these desperate folks, who are smart enough to realize they need something more from life than what it’s about to hand them, who have the intellectual gifts that let them connect with an audience, either through their song writing and/or their performance, and keep them compliant by constantly reminding them of how stupid they are, and exploit them because they don’t know to even be suspicious of you.

And you’d hope that it wouldn’t… I don’t know… be so blatant now.

And then there’s this.