This Idea that You Don’t Have to Do Anything and Things Go Your Way

I’ve been thinking a lot about the whole slew of “protect us from the women” bills before the state legislature, everything from “presumption of joint custody” to “manditory DNA testing before a birth certificate is signed.”  And I still remain somewhat baffled by all this because nothing is stopping men now from doing these things.  You can right now petition the court for joint custody.  You can right now demand a DNA test before you agree to be placed on a birth certificate.  You can right now terminate your parental rights and let some other guy (who may even be the biological father) adopt your children.

So why do there need to be laws?

It would seem like the answer might be “Because most men don’t do these things and they should.”  But, most men don’t do these things and most men don’t need to.  Most men are actually raising kids that are theirs.  And so forth.  So the “and they should” part isn’t really true.  Most men don’t need the State to force this stuff.  In fact, almost all men don’t need the State to force this stuff, if they’re willing to push the issue.

And that’s what I’m hung up on–you can do all this stuff now, if you’re willing to make some effort.

Now, some guys do get dicked over by the system.  But none of this legislation seems to me to actually be geniuinely helpful to the truly dicked over.  Even Campfield’s legislation that gets men out of paying child support on kids that aren’t biologically theirs only seems to take effect if there’s some other man already in the picture willing to support the child.  So, it does nothing for the guy who’s been lied to if there’s no other guy to step up.

So, if this isn’t about helping the truly dicked over, one wonders, “What is it for?”

And, frankly, I think it’s for codifying male privilege.  Yes, I’m doing that crazy feminist talk again.  But what I mean is that some guys seem to have this idea that they get to move through life with things magically happening to their benefit.  It doesn’t matter that they make unwise choices about who they get into relationships with, it will never come back to bite them in the butt.  It doesn’t matter that they don’t bother to make an effort to secure their rights to their children, their children will always be available to them.  Etc. Etc. Etc.  The world is theirs to glide through.

And this legislation all seems designed to preserve that illusion.  You can continue to make no real effort.  You don’t have to get to know the women you sleep with in order to figure out if they’re lying, scheming gold-diggers who are sleeping with your best friend behind your back, because, if they are, the State will catch them.  You don’t have to say to your lawyer or stand up in front of a judge and say “I want joint custody of my kids” because the State will smooth the way for you.  You don’t have to say to your wife “I don’t trust you and I refuse to let you put my name on that birth certificate until I have some genetic proof that kid is mine,” because the State will just treat all women like liars.

The truth is that this model of manhood treats men like they’re emotionally stunted idiots who need the State to preserve their manhood.  You would think that most men, especially most conservative men, would find this kind of legislation insulting–like you aren’t man enough to step up and do what needs to be done.  But I think that men in our society get conditioned from the time they’re very young to believe that they and other men are emotionally stunted idiots who must always get their way but who can’t be seen actually working or struggling at making their way in the world, lest they be seen as losers and pussies.  Rather than being seen as losers or pussies who express needs and get them filled, they need the State to move behind the scenes to make this stuff happen for them so that they can have it without seeming to exert any effort.

It’s a strange situation, where men must be constantly presumed to be manly above all else, in a cool and effortless way, able to bring things together for themselves while they are treated like feral children.

Someday, I hope, this is rightfully seen as the insult it is.

The Patriarchy Sucks for Conservative Men, Too

I don’t get paid enough to contemplate Stacey Campfield’s penis.  I’m not sure how much would be enough to make me willing to contemplate Stacey Campfield’s penis, but believe me, if I were paid to contemplate Campfield’s penis, I would go all in, with some kind of disguise and a fake penis myself and I would follow him into the bathroom and to local watering holes.  I would take pictures.  I would track down other people who had seen it and interview them about their feelings about it.  I would draw pictures of it and hang those pictures in the Frist Museum, while dodging the security guards.

I’m just saying, in general, that, I don’t want to contemplate Campfield’s penis, but, if I were paid to do it, I would go about it thoroughly and professionally and I would share my findings with the world.

Not being paid, though, and not wanting to contemplate Campfield’s penis, I’m stuck in the unpleasant position of having to consider Stacey Campfield having sex.  Which, as you may know, often invoves his penis.

And yet, as long as Campfield’s talking about having sex, I have to think about him having sex and… well… here we are.  I’m thinking about Campfield’s penis.

Via Tom Humphrey:

A review of a video recording of the committee session shows the exchange followed Richardson’s declaration that men who have sex with a woman have put themselves in a position of becoming a father.

“We need to be honest here. We’re not walking out on a street and picking men willy-nilly to be someone’s father,” said Richardson. “These are men who had sexual intercourse with this woman… men where there is a very good biological reason (to suspect paternity).”

Interjected Campfield: “Sherry, if I had sex with you, I wouldn’t want to pay for your children.”

“What did you say?” said Richardson. (Note: Rep. Sherry Jones is another member of the committee who had spoken against the bill and who also ultimately voted no.)

“If I had sex with you, I wouldn’t necessarily want to have to pay for your children,” replied Campfield. “If I were not the father, I don’t think that would be appropriate.”

So, here we are, forced to think about Campfield having sex.  And I’m going to be honest, my first thought was that no conservative Christian woman are going to have sex with Campfield because they don’t have sex with men they aren’t married to and no libertarians are going to have sex with Campfield without him using a condom and them being on some form of birth control and no liberal woman who knows him is going to be able to have sex with him since his antics cause arid tightening in Democrats, so Campfield talking about potential kids he might or might not have is a little beside the point.

But my second thought is about how classy it is of Campfield to insinuate that the women on the other side of the discussion were sluts, that, if they were willing to fuck him, of course he couldn’t be sure they weren’t fucking other guys.

And, yeah, that’s kind of insulting.

But, then, I have to wonder–what if that is actually what Campfield has to face?  That he can’t take for granted that any woman who would be willing to have sex with him would be willing to have sex with him exclusively?

And, frankly, that makes me kind of sad.

If you practice monogamy, it’s not too much to to expect a partner who does as well.  Many, many people have monogamous relationships; it’s completely workable and something that can happen for anyone who wants one.

BUT (and of course there’s a ‘but’), you have to look for it and work at it.  You can’t just say “I want to be able to have sex with whomever I want, and I want her to only have sex with me.”  You have to be thoughtful and discerning.  And yes, even then, you might get metaphorically screwed while you’re getting literally screwed, but still, not every woman is going to fuck you over and if you keep ending up sleeping with women you can’t trust, at some point, you need to step back and take a hard look at why you continue to sleep with women you can’t trust.

But this is another way that the current arrangement (yes, the “patriarchy”) sucks for conservative men, too.  Sure, on the surface, it seems great that there are girls you marry and girls you fuck, because you get to fuck girls, but buying into this idea that girls who fuck outside of marriage are bad girls means that, if you are fucking outside of marriage, you are fucking bad girls who may lie to you and scam you and trick you.

And, when faced with scheming women out to do you wrong, you have two choices.  You can either work harder to keep the current arrangment in place–“Hmm, I want to fuck bad girls, but I don’t want to get conned into paying for kids that aren’t  biologically mine, so I will ask the State Legislature to pass laws that will protect me from getting conned like that, even if it means treating all women like they’re lying con-artists.”–or you can make some other arrangement–“Hmm.  Maybe I should let go of this crazy idea that only bad girls want to fuck outside of marriage and look for girls who won’t do me wrong to fuck.  And, if I’m worried about being scammed, I could use a condom when I have sex.  And treating women like human beings with sexual desires and not just monitary desires would make me less of a douchebag, which would also increase my chances of getting laid!  Hurray!”

I’m just saying, if you’re Campfield or like Campfield, maybe you try the second thing first.

Menfolk

So, I had lunch with the Gentlemen from Louisiana, though we never did get around to talking about Nat King Cole.  We did talk about New Orleans, photography, and ghosts.  One Gentleman was a firm unbeliever and the other was in my camp, which is mostly disbelief except when weird shit happens.

But interestingly enough, both men were convinced that, if a ghost could exist, it would, clearly, either haunt where it was improperly buried or haunt a person–that a ghost has to have a reason for being here.  He’s not just hanging out.  And, once he’s achieved whatever he needs to achieve, he can go on to the afterworld.

So, they seemed to be of the opinion that the backyard could not be haunted unless the old man was buried there.

But I’m fairly certain that the only things buried in my back yard are a few housepets and the dead cat the Butcher found a couple of months ago.

I also, obviously, talked to my dad.  It’s been a year ago this month that he had his bypass surgery, so he’s going in for a lot of check-ups with a lot of different doctors.  I have my concerns, obviously, that he’s not doing as well as he pretends to be.  But lately he seems better, so maybe January was just a bad month for him.

He’s really frustrated because, even though he goes to the gym every day and is following the nutritionist’s guidelines, he has ceased losing weight and is, in fact, gaining it.  He thinks he needs to start walking in the mornings again.  This will be, then, about three hours a day that he exercises (right now, he’s spending between an hour and two hours a day at the gym).

I am of two minds on this.  On the one hand, I about want to strap him down and force him to read some Shapely Prose and to learn to just have some mercy on himself.  If he’s able to exercise as much as the doctors want him to and his health metrics otherwise look good, well, we come from fat people.  He is a fat person.  Being fat is not some great failing.  It just is what it is.  On the other hand, though I thoroughly reject the weight gain or loss as a cause of or solution to problems stuff, I do think that it’s obvious that weight gain or loss can be a symptom of some problem or problems.  Granted, I’m biased because my whole life I’ve been just an uncontrollable glutton who refuses to exercise and eat right and that’s why I’m so fat and no one will ever love me, when really, when I completely revamped my diet and got a dog and walked every day, I still gained weight because I had a medical condition it would have been nice if someone had picked up on instead of seeing my fat as proof of my shittiness as a person.  Not that I have a soapbox about that or anything.

So, my point is that, if he’s eating the same stuff he ate when he was losing weight and he’s exercising the same amount as when he was losing weight and he’s gaining weight, there may be a problem.  And I hope he doesn’t get all caught up in the “I’m just not trying hard enough” bullshit and has the doctors view it as a possible symptom of some other problem.

You know what I’m saying?

And the Butcher is bummed and I don’t know what to do for him.  I don’t know that there’s anything I can do for him.  Still, I worry.

Tennessee: Protecting You from Lying Bitches

There’s a whole swath of legislation this year designed to prortect you from lying bitches, but the best is Representative Hardaway’s return effort to require genetic testing (which you would pay for) before a father is placed on a child’s birth certificate (HB0025).

Oh, I know, many of you think this is a great idea.  Why shouldn’t a man know up-front if a kid is his before he expends all that time, love, energy, and money on it.

But I have read the bill and slept on it and there are still many, many unanswered questions I have, and I’m not even a dude.

1.  We are aware that genetic testing isn’t like on CSI.  There’s no cute labworker in the hospital who will take the results and whoop you up an answer in an afternoon.  We all know this, right?  That stuff will have to be sent away for processing.  Is it okay that the birth certificate of a person is not completed for weeks or months after it’s born?

2.  This test is going to establish a legal relationship between that man and that child.  So, are we making provisions to store the results of those tests?

3.  And more importantly, who will have access to them?

4.  Just think on that some.  The implication of Hardaway’s bill here is that somewhere there’s going to be a massive database of the DNA of every man who fathers a child that is born from 2010 on and every child born here from 2010 on.  It has to happen.  A legal relationship has been developed because of those tests.  The state would be stupid to not keep those tests to assure that no fraud has occured.  So, now the state has a huge DNA database.  You’re really going to tell me that you trust Tennessee to keep its nose out of that database?

5.  Will your DNA be considered medical information–since it shows genetic predispositions to various disorders and illnesses–and thus covered by HIPAA or will it be considered a public record, like someone’s fingerprints, which are kept on file and available to whoever wants to sort through them?

6.  Even without your name attached to it, your genetic information has monitary value.  Researchers of all stripes would love to have a wide random sample of a population to look at.  And our state is strapped for cash.  Who owns your genetic sequence?  If not you, could the State sell access to it to raise funds?

7.  What happens if the test is wrong?  The bill says a lot about who pays for the test, but it doesn’t say anything about where the test gets done or who’s responsible for making it happen.  Will it be someone from the hospital?  Random nurse is now going to be making legal determinations about your obligations to another person?  Someone from the health department?  And what lab(s) are going to process this information?  Ones chosen by the patients?  Ones chosen by the hospital?  OR ones determined by the state?  Which brings us back to my original question.  What if the test is wrong.  Say the father really was the dude’s brother and the test not thorough enough to catch it.  Say the lab is sloppy.  We’ve now set the precident that the person whose DNA is a match is responsible for the baby; what if we’re wrong?  Can the dude sue the state?

I don’t know.  I’m tempted to say, “Ha ha.” but some part of me really is curious as to how this is going to work and how it’s not going to be open to rampant corruption.

I’m Starting to Suspect I’m Not Going to Get My Donuts

I remind you how this went.  I said “I bet you dollars to donuts this has something to do with the Adelicia v. South Street fight.”  S-town Mike said, “I think you’d lose that bet because this doesn’t even have anything at all to do with midtown.”  I prove that it does indeed have to do with midtown by using my mad reading skills and now S-town Mike is trying to prove that all this started before the Adelicia v. South Street fight.

So, you can see, there are no donuts coming for me.

I have noticed this in arguing, that there are marked differences in arguing styles.  See, I feel like this argument had two parts.  A. Whether this had to do with Adelicia v. South Street and then B. Whether it had anything to do with midtown at all.  And I think it’s clear that Mike moved us from argument A. to argument B.

I clearly won argument B.  It does indeed have to do with midtown.

But rather than concede, and bring me donuts (which is the important part), he’s now acting like we’re back to a.

Fine.  You bring me donuts, I’ll give you a dollar.  You keep your donuts, I’ll keep my dollar.  The world is righted once again.

But I’m still pondering the exchange.  Why is it that, when Tobia said in the first place that such an ordinance was stupid, the thrust of the conversation wasn’t, “No, here’s why it’s necessary,” but “No, here’s why it’s not stupid.”  So, instead of being a discussion (which Mike now wants to get to) about actual noise levels and offending clubs and whether they’ve been responsive to people’s needs, it’s a discussion about what Austin is doing or Atlanta or what-have-you.

It’s not a discussion about actual problems in our community and how best to address them, but some lofty discussion about the proper role of government and moderation as a virtue and bringing ourselves in line with other communities.

I know I’ve pointed this out before, but a lot of times, when you’re trying to have a discussion with men, especially men who think other men are watching or participating, you have to go through this metaphorical dick-waving before you can get down to the meat of the issue.  Everyone has to prove that they have the “right equipment” to be in the conversation and that the pecking order has been established.

This is not at all how I’ve been socialize–I assume as a white upper-working class midwestern woman–to converse.  I’m supposed to be seeing everyone’s side and building consensus and helping the man feel like he’s won, even as I manipulate him to get my own way.  If that doesn’t work, I go in the kitchen, reach consensus among the woman, and do what I damn well please.

But that kind of rhetorical strategy–find a way to seem to acquiesce while secretly maintaining that you were right and, if no way to seem to acquiesce can be found, withdraw from the conversation–works very poorly on blogs.  Well, in public life in general.

How can women who are trained to go along with what the men say or leave the room if they can’t, have any kinds of effective public discussion?

We joke, my friends and I, that it would be awesome to carry a dildo around in your purse, so that when it’s dick-waving time, you can reach down, pull yours out, set it on the table and be heard and treated as a voice with the authority to speak.

Hmm, we’ve wandered far afield of donuts, but it’s always interesting how we get so far, you know?

Hobbs Comes Out Against Equal Pay for Equal Work

See?  I can spin a story just like Bill Hobbs.  Apparently he thinks there’s something wrong with recognizing the reality that women are already in combat zones and deserve to have that recognized and to be paid appropriately.

Plus, I love how, when backed into a corner, Republicans like Hobbs cannot help but let the fact that they hate men show.  Oh, men have to go off to war and die?  Well, whoop-dee-doo.  But our precious women?!  No, don’t take them!

A more cynical person than me would note that there are quite a few people who support the wars we’re in who aren’t fighting them and who might benefit in ways they otherwise could not if all the brave men are overseas, and the women are not.

Gentlemen, May I Have a Word With You?

And that word would be “rape.”

Just so we’re clear: when you hold someone down and force a broomstick inside of them against their will, you are raping them.  If you open a door into a room and see a group of boys holding someone down and looking like they’re on the verge of sticking a broom inside of someone you don’t tell them to break it up and assume everything is okay.  What you are witnessing is attempted rape.

See, I bring this up because I see over on Yahoo this headline–“Horrific football hazing case shakes NM town” and I read the description of this case, which involves football players holding down other football players and shoving broomsticks up their butts while the coaches acted as if nothing out of the ordinary was happening (and perhaps nothing out of the ordinary was happening, if you’d like a sickening thought for the afternoon.  Maybe this is what boys on the team had done to them and that’s why they’re turning around and doing it to others.  I don’t know.) and I keep waiting for the term “rape” or “attempted rape” to come up.

Yeah, sure we get into some sexual assault stuff there towards the end.

But the reason I bring this up is that it occurs to me upon reading this article that the coaches literally did not understand what they were seeing or hearing about.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not at all letting them off the hook.  I’m just saying that that’s fucked up, so fucked up you have to say it “fu-u-ucked up.”

You’d think “Don’t put things inside other people without their permission” would be an easy concept for folks to understand, but there’s always some bullshit–“But what if she’s wearing a really short skirt?  Then can I put something inside her even if she doesn’t want me to?”  “But what if he wants to join the football team?  Is it okay then?”

Seriously, no.  Just don’t put things inside other people if they don’t want you to.

It’s just not that difficult.

I suspect that this kind of sexual assault is far more common than I’m aware of and I suspect that part of the problem of even beginning to address it is that so many people refuse to recognize it for what it is.  I mean, look at this article, calling it “hazing” or “bullying.”  No, it’s raping.  You have a bunch of rapists on your football team.  And a bunch of coaches who don’t think that’s such a big deal.

And let’s be frank about why that is: Because it’s happening to boys.

And that’s unacceptable.

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.

An Afternoon of Movies

The boys were all lounging around my living room watching movies all afternoon–Eastern Promises, The Bank Job, and Rambo.  I feel as if I should be able to write you up something insightful and deep about seeing those movies all in a row like that–maybe tell you something about what it revealed to me about the state of men in America.

But instead, I will just say that all night, I kept having this dream where I walked into my bedroom and there, dressed in an exquisitely tailored suit, sitting in a beautiful brown leather chair was either Viggo Mortensen or Jason Statham, elbows on chair arms, fingers bouncing together in mock impatience.

I had no dreams of Sylvester Stallone.

Martin Kennedy, I Hereby Challenge You to a Duel

Isn’t that what you dudes do when your honor has been besmirched?  Well, consider your face slapped with my glove.

I would accuse you of deliberate intellectual dishonesty–and I may here in a second, if I don’t calm down–but I have had this conversation with other men and so I’m going to clarify for you, just this once:

“The patriarchy” does not mean “the men.”

Dismantling the patriarchy does not mean getting rid of men.

I mean, for gods’ sake, if my goal was to just get rid of men, why would I be worried about how many black men are sitting in prison?  Wouldn’t I and my feminist sisters be sitting around all “Woo hoo!  How do we improve the incarceration rates among non-black men?  How do we also ensure that one in three white guys in the prime of their lives are sitting in prison and out of our hair?”

If “the patriarchy” bothers you so much, we can use another term, but it doesn’t change the fact that rich white men in this country have hegemony–that the system is set up to give them power and keep them in power and that it’s been very difficult for those of us who aren’t men or who aren’t white to break into the power structure, let alone rise up in it.

And really, you know what?  You know me.  You have shared time with me and enjoyed my company.  So, for you to come here and say to me, “I would suggest that the vast majority of women would agree that the men in their lives enhance their lives.” like I don’t feel like the men in my life enhance my life?

I, myself, will take this opportunity to refrain from saying something we can’t come back from.

But you’ve gravely insulted me.

I want to change and improve how people get along; I’d like to find a way for men to be in the world that doesn’t revolve around a notion of manhood predicated on some kind of ongoing violent contest to see who has the biggest dick (either really or metaphorically); and you want to turn that around into me hating men?

And then, AND THEN, for you to so directly link the presense of men with the presense of the bullshit power and violence issues, suggesting that, if we don’t want the former, we must reject the latter…

Isn’t that exactly what Egalia was implying yesterday?

She says

The bottom line for me is that the election of Hillary Rodham Clinton would serve as a long overdue blow against the suffocating patriarchy, while the election of Barack Obama would merely result in patriarchy as usual

with the implication being that being a man is the same as being a man who supports and affirms the bullshit power and violence issues that automatically go with being a man in our society.

And we all sit back and shake our heads and cringe at her over-simplifying to the point of foolishness and a bunch of you sit around and tut-tut about what a shame it is that Egalia just seems to think that all men are inherently evil and isn’t she a whack-job?

But you come around here talking the exact same bullshit, about how the presense of men is necessarly the presense of bullshit power and violence issues, talking like I’m the man-hater?

Fuck that shit, Martin Kennedy.

I don’t believe that men are inherently evil.  I don’t believe that all men are secretly rapists, that they secretly, or sometimes openly, take pleasure in the suffering of women.  I don’t believe that men are incapable of having rich emotional lives or of showing love and tenderness.  I don’t believe that their greatest, and sometimes only value to women and children is as a deep pocket.  In short, I don’t believe the things that society tells me about men.

I don’t believe all of you are inherently broken in ways that make you a danger to yourselves and others, even as its obvious that the system is set up to break you in ways that make you dangerous.

I can hate that system, what it does to y’all, how it chews through most of you and fucks you up so that a few of you can remain very powerful, without hating you.

In fact, it’s because I love you that I wish and work for a different way, one that doesn’t thrive on your suffering (especially as your suffering, within the system, is usually placated by giving you tacit approval to take out your pain on those of us who are smaller and weaker than you).

If you didn’t know me, and didn’t see that, I’d say, fine, I need to do a better job of communicating that.

But you do know me.

So, honestly, I don’t know what to make of that.

The Magic of Cooters

It’s hard work running around with a body part so amazing that merely by having one, I become so magical and powerful that I can make men do whatever I want (except maybe mine’s broken, because damn if I have anyone offering to scrub my tub and I really want someone else but me to do that), but, over the course of thirty some odd years, I’m getting used to it–that constant job of keeping folks I want in it in it and folks I want out of it out of it, so attracted are they to its magnificence and so much do they desire to control its power for themselves.

And, like any good flower of the patriarchy, I try to spend at least three hours a day laying on my back, feet on the floor, knees up, slowly opening and closing my legs, to help create a sensual atmosphere perfumed by the pleasant odor of said body part.

“Behave, men,” I say to myself as I bring my knees together.

“Treat each other and us women with kindness,” I repeat as I spread them apart.

“Don’t run around doing whatever you want to people without any consideration for their feelings,” and slowly open.

“Do remember the golden rule,” closed.

“You are so big and strong and handsome and anybody would be lucky to have you,” slowly, slowly open.

“But it’s important to also be considerate and get consent,” slowly close.

And so on.

Shoot, when you get a dozen or so of us cootered-Americans all doing that at once, we can change a whole neighborhood for the better.  That used to be exactly what was going on in Yoga studios, but since y’all have decided that yoga isn’t just for girls, we actually have to do the stretches and poses.  Now we do our vagina wafting at yarn stores, because we know y’all are rarely coming in there.

My point is that I get that cooters are responsible for keeping men from doing awful shitty things to each other.  If not for the regular exposure to wafting cooter odors, men would become mad animals running around savagely brutalizing each other until the whole human race descended into madness… er… further into madness.

Or, at least, that’s what I’ve come to understand from reading Bill Hobbs, spokesman for the TNGOP.

Today he’s upset that Harvard has restricted access to some of its gyms at certain times so that Muslim women (and, I assume other women) can work out and not be in the presence of men.  And he likens it to if Harvard had declared certain times at certain gyms straight men only.  This is stupid just on its surface.  We make all kinds of religious accommodations for people all the time.  And we make all kinds of gender accommodations for folks all the time.

But Katie Granju brings up something that got me thinking:

Are some straight men actually that uncomfortable with working out at the same time in the same place with gay men?

And, frankly, I think the answer is yes. My hypothesis is that there are some guys who are only reigning in supremely assholish behavior because there are just certain ways that men don’t behave around women. (Except that they do, but what can I tell you?  It’s a working hypothesis.)  They behave because they want access to that wonderfully, magical cooter.

And I don’t think they can imagine what keeps men who aren’t motivated by wanting continued access to cooter in line.

It’s easy to see, from a feminist perspective, how this sucks for us women–it puts us in the position of being mother (I tell you what you can and can’t do, you bad little boy) and whore (I’ll let you fuck me) at the same time.

But it’s also, once you look at it, easy to see then why these dudes are so homophobic.  They believe men to be monsters, monsters who, if not corralled by the magical cooter, would be terrorizing other dudes.  So, even though gay men rarely rape straight men, straight men who believe that men are monsters, are, of course, afraid of gay men–what’s keeping them from acting more monstrously than the straight men already perceive them to be acting?

It shows a terribly low opinion of men in general.

Oops.  I’ve got to work in some wafting here while I’m at lunch.  So, that’s the end of that.

I am a Little Sexist

So, I got my hair cut yesterday… by a dude.

For the first time in my life, ever.

He did a fine job, I think (though you really have to wash hair once and do your own thing to it, I think, to see if a haircut is going to work), and he didn’t give me any of that “Oh, but it’s so long.  Are you sure you want to cut it?” stuff that the women there always give me.

But, Earth, my first reaction when he was all “Come and let’s wash your hair” was “But I’m a girl!  Boys can’t cut girls’ hair.  No, no, no.”

I got over it, but it was just weird to find it there in the first place.

I Looked. I Regret It.

Why did I look?  Because some small part of me wants to believe that having sex with a rock star who claims to have had sex with thousands of people would be something.  I don’t know what that something would be, but I didn’t imagine it would involve something that starts out so very perfunctory and almost sad.  I don’t know.  I guess, in your heart, you know it can’t be much different that what the rest of us do, but I still held out hope that it would be… I don’t know… at least hot.

I watched the promo and couldn’t even be bothered to watch the whole thing.

Some folks are shaming Simmons for “cheating” on his family.

I’d like to shame Simmons for being so goddamned ordinary.

Gene Simmons, Rock Star, fucking away to “I Want To Know What Love Is” by Foreigner.

I shake my head.

Do I even have to tell you that this link is not safe for most circumstances?

Aunt B! We Never Get to Dance Around Our Offices Anymore!

I know, I know. It’s been ages since I encouraged you to shut your office door and dance around like there’s nobody looking.

Sorry.

I’ve been remiss.

But, to make up for it, I bring you a song which contains a line that makes me blush like a school girl when I hear it. There are certain things men do–that deep, knowing laugh y’all get, that open, appreciative stare, and how R.L. Burnside says “See that moonlight shining through them trees, look at that woman with the dress above her knees,”–that part especially, “look at that women with the dress above her knees”–that just make me feel way too innocent, like I don’t yet know what goes on between grown folks after the kids have gone to bed.

And I think I could be laying there, in a tangle of pleased, exhausted bodies, unsure of which part belonged to which people, and still hear that line and feel like some men have their own mysteries about women that only get shared one way.

Miss Maybelle

Edited to add:  I don’t have sound on my computer because I’ve got the speakers plugged into my iPod and it occurs to me that I haven’t actually heard this version of the song.  I can only hope he still growls about knees and skirts.  If not, I’ll upload the other version when I get home.

I’m Not Done Talking about Ike Turner

I thought I was, but then I read Donald Fagen’s obituary for him and it made me mad and upset all over again.

I don’t know if you’ve ever had anybody you loved really lose control when they were hitting you. But it’s like there’s this moment when the violence ceases to be about whatever it is that you’ve done and becomes something transcendent for the person who’s hitting you. It’s both about you and has nothing to do with you. It’s like being at a fucked-up exorcism, where the possessed person attempts to raise the Devil out of you.

It’s terrible, because it’s such a betrayal of what love should be–you should be safe with the people who love you and you should not have their issues opened up on you like standing in front of a blast furnace–but it’s also terrible because there’s nothing you can do to stop it but ride it out.

And the waiting for it can be unbearable.

Often, it’s easier when you see it coming to provoke it early, in order to get it out of the way, in order to drain it off before it has a chance to build to maximum pressure. Other times, it’s best for your self-preservation to do nothing to provoke it; to show a face that says you cannot be reached.

Often, when I hear people who’ve never been abused talking about abuse, it’s like they’re just talking about a person smacking around another person like there’s just some misunderstanding about how we treat people. I don’t know if they get that kind of blast-furnace fucked-up-ness.

I honestly don’t think that they do.

Because, if you’ve witnessed it, I don’t see how you can believe that a person can be redeemed from that.

And yet, when you love someone, you desperately need to believe that there is some redemption possible, I think.

It’s hard to look objectively at someone you love and say to yourself that he’s just a man that does that shit or she’s just a woman who does that shit and that he or she might love you in his or her own way, but it just doesn’t cut it.

I know I can’t.

But I think it’s one thing for a person to have to make a little myth out of the fucked-up person they love in order to get by, it’s quite another thing for strangers to make myths out of ordinary men in order to feel okay about liking their art.

I’d much rather see Fagen just mourn the passing of a great artist than to try to craft some story of possible redemption for the man, just because the myth is so obviously built on lies.

Shall we enumerate them, just to keep from counting our own aches?

–The Mississippi Delta is no magical place. It’s just a dirt-poor corner of a dirt-poor state.

–Robert Johnson didn’t sell his soul to the devil. Or Papa Legba. Or anybody.

–The Devil and Papa Legba aren’t interchangeable.

–Just because Robert Johnson was reputed to have sold his soul to the devil (or so some white men say), doesn’t mean that everyone from the Delta who’s had some success sold his soul to the devil and there’s something inherently intellectually dishonest about associating Johnson’s myth (which, probably, rightfully belongs to Tommy Johnson anyway) with Turner.

–Ike didn’t beat Tina because he wanted organization. He didn’t beat her because “Obviously, there was something Ike just didn’t get about the whole hitting problem.” There wasn’t some part of Ike that was failing to understand that pounding on your loved ones is wrong. Dude wasn’t an idiot, so let’s not excuse his actions as if he was. He beat her to have power over her and feeling powerful was more important to him for whatever reason(s) than doing right by his loved one.

He beat her for the same reason anyone abuses a loved on–because it made him feel powerful and in charge.

That’s the truth. That’s the line that’s crossed, from it being about you, as the person at the receiving end of the blow, to the person giving it. You do whatever (or nothing) and the person who hits seizes on that opportunity to feel powerful and in charge. It’s a rush for them.

And that’s why it’s hard to stop domestic violence, not because abusing someone is an effective way to run your life, but because feeling powerful and in charge feels so damn good.

–Ike Turner was just a man. He didn’t sell his soul to Anyone. No one but him was using his personal demons against him. He was just a man.

That has been a hard lesson for me to learn about my own family.

Speaking of folks from the Delta, I think it was Robert Gordon’s biography of Muddy Waters that helped me understand that about my progenitors.   Not that my people had much in common with him or his people, but sometimes seeing how it works for others lets you see how it works for the people you’re too close to to get any good perspective on.

And this is what I know.  They’re just people.  Just people who needed to feel powerful and in control and who didn’t put protecting their children from their worst excesses ahead of of that particular excess.

It’s hard for me to articulate what I’m dancing around here, though, it seems I’m dancing as hard as I can to old Ike’s tune.  Just that I’m afraid of that in myself and too suspicious of it in other people.

And that it’s hard for me to talk directly about it.

This is what makes me angry and sad.  It makes me angry and sad that the deal seemed to be tolerating what went on in exchange for being kept safe from the outside world and yet, all it did was fuck people up about the outside world, and not keep anyone safe from anything.

My cousin J. once said to me something that made my blood run cold precisely because I’ve heard something similar from my dad on numerous occasions–“Our family is like in the Bible, like some Old Testament clan.  It’s like the things that happen to us are part of some big plan on God’s part.”

But, you know, we’re just men and women, too.  It would be nice to think that there’s some Divinely ordained reason for the way we are with each other and ourselves, but there’s not.

There’s just us, ordinary folks, fucked up ordinary folks with no myths to make sense of why.

It would be nice to know why, I guess.  To be able to draw some sure thick line between, say, how recalcitrant the recalcitrant brother is and a woman born deaf and possibly raped and definitely married off to the man her dad gave her to, but who even knows how true that story is?

It’s like being caught in a wake, watching the waves ripple outwards, and being able to tell a few things about the boat that went by, even though you didn’t see it.

And still, I wonder, doesn’t pointing back to her, a woman whose name I don’t even know, allow me to conveniently avoid looking the generations between her and me square in the face and saying, “You did this”?

I feel my grandpa with me a lot.  I don’t mention it to my dad because I don’t want to hear yet another myth of how great he was, except…

He was and he was.

He was great and he sucked.  He was just a man.

That’s what I feel, when I feel him with me, some defiant anger and a long, resigned sigh, and just a man I really didn’t know and never really spoke to except for once, who’s got nothing better to do than to watch the ripples he caused roll on down through us.

I still love him.

I still love his son.

I love them easier now that they’re smaller than they used to be.

And that, my friends, is why I am opposed to making Ike the size of some epic myth.  Some folks, you can only love when you can finally see them for the size they really are.

Masculinism, cont.–Raising Our Kids

The Red Queen wrote a post about my last Masculinism post in which she makes such a good point I had to bring it over here:

When Kid was very small, I started teaching him about consent. When we would roughhouse or tickle fight, one “no” was all it took for me to stop. And I taught him that one “no” was the line I drew at him stopping. Period. End of game. We both got to say when it was too much and those boundaries were absolute.

(She also says, “I am teaching my son that the only good way to enjoy pleasure is when both people are ready and happily excited about it.” which I love, but can’t quite figure out how to work in here.)

She explains that she uses this strategy not just as a way of reinforcing the idea that when another person says “no” it must be respected (an important lesson), BUT ALSO so that when he says “no” and finds that it is not respected, he recognizes that there’s something fucked up.

I know we’ve talked about this before, but this is exactly why I’m opposed to the whole “go on, give your aunt a kiss [or hug or whatever]” bullshit, especially when it is coupled by “do you want to hurt her feelings?”

I will not take a kiss from a child coerced into it by a well-meaning parent and, if I’m quick enough, I won’t accept a hug that way either.  Yes, it’s polite to tell me good-bye.  And yes, I love it when kids like me enough to hug me or cuddle with me on the couch.

But their bodies are their own and I want them to feel free to not have to make them available to people they don’t want to make them available to, even if it’s for something as innocent as a hug.

I have too often known people to use that exact reasoning on children — “come on, give me a kiss.  You don’t want to make me sad, do you?” — for nefarious purposes and it takes so little effort to undermine that strategy by teaching your kids that they have a right to refuse to do things to other people with their bodies and that they have a right to ask that things not be done to them.

Masculinism 101

As usual, my complaint remains that the men’s movement in this culture seems to only care about being forced to pay child support.  If I made a post about dead-beat dads, you’d see them descend on this blog like flies on shit.

But you’ve have a thread at Music City Bloggers so misandrous that the only word to describe it is vile, and not a hoot from men so wronged by society.  In fact, you have a bunch of men piling on about how much men suck and can’t help but be monsters.

Gentlemen, please, don’t make me take up this cause.  My plate is full and you all are grown-ass men.  You should be doing this shit yourself.

But, in this case, because it overlaps with my feminist concerns, I’m going to give you some talking points.

1.  When conversations about rape look to ascribe some level of responsibility to the victim of the rape, it negates some of the responsibility of the rapist.  There’s only 100% responsibility and if you’re saying that the girl has some, let’s say 30%, responsibility, you’re saying that the rapist has only 70% responsibility.  Is the rapist brain damaged or developmentally disabled in such a way that he does not know right from wrong?  If not, then he’s just a regular guy.  If he’s just a regular guy, but he’s not fully responsible for his actions, what’s that say about all regular guys?  That none of y’all are fully responsible for your actions.  And why?

The implication seems to be that it’s just something inherent to being a man.  Y’all cannot help it because you are such fucked up, broken, evil messes.

(On a side note, my deepest fear for y’all is that you believe this.  I sometimes wonder if this is not why you put such emphasis on being needed–you fear that, because you are such broken, fucked up, evil messes no one would choose to be with you if they didn’t feel in some way forced to, in most cases, by necessity.)

2.  If someone generalized about any other group that way–that they were monsters who couldn’t be held wholly responsible if they raped a girl–you would recognize it for the bigotry it is.  Why are you letting this shit slide?  Speak up!

3.  It’s crucial, not just for y’all, but for us, that you speak up when you hear anyone spouting this shit.  And why?  Because rape is an act of misogyny.  It’s about showing your victim that you hate or fear her so much that you’ll use an act (sticking your penis in her vagina) that should be one of the most pleasurable experiences she has to hurt her, that you hate or fear her so much you have to get inside her to show it.

By virtue of the fact that rapists hate or fear women, the likelihood that we’ll be effective when we tell them not to rape us or other women is slim and none.

So, who are rapists or potential rapists going to listen to?  Y’all.  And there are a lot more of you than there are of them.  The peer pressure you should be able to exert is enormous.  If you decided that, instead of talking about the importance of scoring and how many partners you’ve had and whether you managed to get laid at the party of Friday, you were going to talk about how great it was when that hot girl asked you if you wanted to fuck or how big a man you are because you made her come multiple times or how it proves you’re a real man if you have sex with one girl multiple times instead of multiple girls only once, your peers would change their behavior.

You could tell yourselves a different story about what it means to be men.  That way, when a guy and a girl start drinking at a party and they’re both digging each other, he says, long before she’s drunk, “Should we go up to my room?” or, if he passes by a room and sees a girl asleep in a bed, he doesn’t think “Ooh, easy score!  Won’t my brothers think I’m hot shit for nailing her,” he’ll think, “I should go find someone whose going to scream ‘yes’ loud enough to wake the whole house.”  That way, when guys see their friend with a girl who they all know is too drunk to give consent, they don’t laugh and high-five him as he drunkenly stumbles with her to his room; instead, they send him off in search of a more sober parnter and find her friends to walk her home.

You all have to make rape seem socially unacceptable and good consensual sex the stuff of bragging rights.

I mean, please.  I know how much you love to razz each other.  Think of the opportunities this presents:

You: So, how’d it go with that girl last night?

Him: Great. 

You: Really?  That’s funny, because I didn’t hear a thing.  Maybe you suck in bed.

Him: No way, dude.  She was totally into it. [Ha, I guess you have a surfer fraternity brother.]

You: I’m just saying.  I thought we’d hear her enjoying herself if you were really all that.

See how that works?  You get to give your buddy shit and reinforce the notion that good sex is sex that’s pleasurable for both partners and it kind of makes you a loser if that’s not your goal when you’re fucking.

If all normal guys had that attitude, things would be a lot better for us girls.

And, when things are better for us girls, those of us who like to fuck boys go out looking for boys to fuck.  So, it’s like a great circle of happiness for everyone.

So, don’t sit idly by when this crap is being spouted.  Stand up for yourselves!

Twilight Sleep & Childbirth and Feminism

So, the most famous healthcare blogger in town and I went to see Ricki Lake’s documentary “The Business of Being Born.”  It was awesome and made midwives seem like the most cool women on the face of the planet.  We got to watch a lot of natural childbirths, which, for those of you unfamiliar with childbirth, seems to require a lot of walking around, grunting, squatting, and naked men rubbing your back and holding you while you scream.

Now, normally, I’m all for naked men, but I have to say–naked man time is supposed to be fun time.  If there’s any chance I might need you to say “Hey, wait, now’s the time for us to get to the hospital, immediately!” I don’t want to have to wait around while you play “Where’s my underwear?”

When I’m having a natural birth, you have your jacket on and your car keys in one hand.  You can rub my back with the other hand and I will feel much more secure leaning against you in the birthing tub if I can see that your shoes are on in case any sprinting to the sidwalk to motion the paramedics in needs to be done.

But, other than the fathers’ strange propensity to take off their clothes, watching women give birth in their own homes was just amazing.  This one woman was like “grunt” “groan” “wiggle wiggle wiggle” and then “grunt” and out popped her baby.  Another woman was all just crouching on the kitchen floor, also grunting when, flop, out came her baby right on the kitchen floor.  Amazing.

But that’s not what I want to talk to you about.  Instead, I want to talk about Twilight Sleep, which is how many of our mothers were born and maybe even some of us.  I did not know anything about this.  I really thought it was what it sounded like, a light sedation that kept you kind of woozy and pain free while your husband was out in the waiting room passing out cigars and you both waited for the doctor to bring you the news that the baby had been born.  And I assumed it feel out of favor because the women couldn’t help push or something.

No.

America, during twilight sleep, women went bat-shit crazy from the drugs and the pain.  They hurt their heads (and so women’s heads were wrapped in large gauzy Q-tip looking arrangements).  They thrashed around and tried to claw at the doctors and so they were strapped to their gurneys, sometimes for days, in their own piss and shit.

Twilight sleep didn’t supress pain; it suppressed the memory of pain.  So the doctors could just do whatever and the women would not remember it and since it was ‘indecent’ for new fathers to be there, there was no one with the woman to advocate for her.  Plus, and this is the part that just creeps me out, they used lamb’s wool on the restraints because it didn’t leave bruises and so the husbands stopped seeing bruises and stopped asking questions about what was being done to their wives.

The whole thing makes me want to puke.  Here are women being tortured and given a drug so they can’t recall it and the people most likely to protect them–their husbands–aren’t allowed in the birthing process so that they don’t cause trouble.

On the ride home, Rachel and I were talking about why childbirth isn’t more of a feminist issue.  In the movie, they talked about how we have almost third-world levels of mother and infant mortality and how that’s directly tied to how we do birth in this country, the medicines that are administered during labor, and the rush to c-section a woman just because she’s not progressing fast enough to suit the doctor.

I think it’s tough.  It is a feminist issue, of course.  Women getting dicked around by the system is always a feminist issue.

But it’s a fine line.  Individual women do a lot of things for a lot of reasons and, even if we know that most c-sections are medically unnecessary, we have to be careful not to judge women who’ve had them.  They were making the best choice they could as to what was best for them and their babies with the information that they had.

But we need to reduce the number of c-sections and the number of chemically aided births in this country, because we know those kill women and babies.

We need birthing processes that, regardless of whether they take place in the home or the hospital, respect women’s right to control what happens to our bodies.

That was another thing that bothered me about one of the doctors.  He never referred to the obviously distressed and scared women in front of him by her name.  He kept calling her “mommy.”  I swear, I don’t understand how she didn’t just kick him in the face.  Here she was trying to get information about what was happening to her (they were taking her in for a c-section, but it was unclear–apparently even to her–why) and he’s all “Now Mommy just needs to calm down.”

It’d be interesting to go back and watch the movie with that in mind, because my impression is that the “good” medical professionals all called women by their names and the “problem” professionals were all “mommy” or “the patient.”

Anyway, the whole thing with the twilight sleep just bothers me to no end.  It’s like here you have the perfect example of how the System (coughPatriarchycough) hurts folks.  You have midwives, who’ve been helping women birth babies for generations, kicked to the side because they’re supposedly stupid and superstitious and the doctors in the hospitals know best.  And women go to these doctors and are given drugs and strapped to gurneys like they’re having psychotic breaks, because, you know, women are teh crazy anyway and it’s easier for the doctor.  And the people who would know that something wasn’t right–husbands and other family members–are kept out of the process because “men just can’t handle it” or “it’s improper for you to be in there.”

How convenient.

How Nice for Child Molesters

So, this seems like good news for child rapists.  See, if you seduce and raped children who are here illegally, especially if you run away with them to Mexico, the Feds will refuse to let your victim back in the country and may deport his whole family.

But, hey, we can take solice in the fact that he deserved it for being in the wrong place at the wrong time; or for using our tax payer dollars to attend school in the first place; or for being here illegally; or, you know, whatever.  And we can take solice in the fact that, once news of this gets out, folks will be less likely to report incidents of abuse for fear of being deported, thus using even less of our tax dollars on investigating things like this.

Great.  Let’s just have a whole underclass of people with no legal standing and no legal recourse and let’s just let every corrupt corporation and evil jackass prey on them while we all sit back and wring our hands about whether they don’t deserve it just a tiny bit because they or their parents came here illegally.

That will be good fun and totally moral!

Oh, Boy(s)–A contest

Today, Mark Rose says “Feminists ostracize masculinity in men while at the same time trying to make themselves appear more masculine.”

Lord knows, the evidence of my trying to make myself appear more masculine is all over this blog.  So, you know, I wondered maybe if I was just half-failing as a feminist.  Maybe, at least, I was succeeding in ostracizing masculinity in men.  So, I wandered over to the blog of the man I spend the most time with and what do I find?

Roger Abramson accusing him of being too manly for liberalism:

I found it interesting, for instance, that you (Mack) were one of the prime defenders of the masculine rite of pointing out attractive women to other men, given your generally lefty tendencies. NOTE: I didn’t say it was necessarily incompatible with those tendencies, just interesting. Even more interesting is the fact that that’s not the first time you’ve taken a very strident traditionally “masculine” point of view on something (I remember you getting bent out of shape when I half-jokingly suggested that men should be allowed to carry handbags or purses around–would make it a lot easier to carry our junk with us). You are, in fact, much more traditionally masculine than a lot of male conservative bloggers. [Emphasis mine.]

Well, fuck me.  This day was going so well and now I find out that I’m a failure as a feminist.

Damn.

Well, that’s it.  I’m growing a handlebar mustache and… and… well, I’m not exactly sure how one ostracizes masculinity, but the second I do, I’m all over ostracizing Mack’s a little bit, just for the sake of our local conservative bloggers.

Edited to add: Wait a second!  Do you think “ostracize masculinity” is a euphemism for some kind of sexual position conservatives think liberals engage in?  We should have a contest.  The person who comes up for the best description of what a straight woman does to a straight man when she “ostracizes his masculinity” wins.  I don’t really have anything for you to win, but I would be happy to crochet you something.