Friday, September 29, 2006

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Fluffer

Today's been a real bummer for me, internetwise. It started with punkass marc providing a horrifying glimpse into the world of rape porn and, really, it may as well have stopped there, because, well, RAPE PORN: What more do you need to bum you out after that?

Nevertheless I endeavored to bum myself further by reading three nauseating thumbs-up reviews of a new television show called, I'm not kidding, "Ugly Betty" (starring the totally not ugly actress America Ferrera)--the "plucky guppy" label was a particularly nice touch from the NYT. Fucking brilliant.

I did perk up briefly while reading Twisty's review of Bust magazine, but I bummed back out again minutes later when I was struck by the likelihood that this post would set off another round of "but it's my choice to enjoy fashion, fucking, and shopping" versus "but no choice is so sacrosanct as to be exempt from feminist analysis" feuds throughout the feminist blogosphere, and that likelihood weighed in at somewhere around "extremely fucking likely;" whereas I assert that if we can't agree that an ostensibly feminist magazine sporting an ad for a $13.95 tampon case is "extremely fucking silly," then we can't agree on anything.

Of course the rape-porn post was clearly the worst of it all. I'm just saying none of the rest of this stuff exactly helped.

So I tried to cheer myself up by thinking of other songs William Shatner should cover, because that seemed to me the most natural thing to do in a crisis. Listen, we've all heard his versions of "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds," "Mr. Tambourine Man," and "Rocket Man," but those songs are o-l-d. It's time for some fresh rhymes from MC Shatner. I think he should consider spoken-word versions of "This is How We Do It," "Golddigger," and, most necessarily, Madonna's "Borderline." Come on--you can hear it, can't you? Can't you?

Borderline
Feels like I'm going . . . to lose . . . my MIND!
You just
Keep on
Pushing . . . my LOVE
Over
The
BORDERLINE


Right? It's not just me, right? Tell me it's not just me.

And the other thing that cheered me up was thinking of phrases and concepts that should be banished from porn (or erotica, if you prefer, but me personally, I kind of consider it all porn, which is not necessarily bad) forever. Like, for example, the whole "good to the last drop" theme: Every woman who ever sucks a dick in pornotica always has to be described as swallowing every last drop, like heaven forbid they don't explicitly state this, and we get the mistaken idea she might have discreetly spit some into a Dixie cup to save for a rainy day, right? Just once I'd like to see a woman not be described as sucking dick Maxwell-House style, even though there's no way to have her not do that that wouldn't wind up killing the mood. But it'd still be worth it to me to just once be surprised, you know? Seriously, how often are you ever surprised in porn? Never! It's always the same. It's all porn-by-the-numbers.

So that's where I've kept my head at today in order to prevent me thinking about the kinds of dudes who pay money for rape porn: Shatner, and porn. Well, 1 out of 2 ain't bad.

UPDATE: Also.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

"Remember Ladies - You’re Doing it for Science!"

So says the gentleman at Waiter Rant, urging his female food service readers to participate in a little survey designed by Michael Lynn of Cornell University. Be glad I only borrowed the good waiter's closing sentence and not his post title, which is almost as rank as some of the survey questions:

14) How big around is your waist? Use a tape measure to find the distance around the smallest area of your waist - usually just above your belly button. Be sure the tape is snug but does not pinch or push in your skin. Stand normally -- do NOT suck in your belly.

inches

15) Was the waist measurement above:

based on memory
based on a guess
based on a tape measurement over clothes
based on a tape measurement on bare skin

16) How big around are your hips? Use a tape measure to find the distance around the largest area of your hips -- usually the widest part of the buttocks. Be sure the tape is snug but does not pinch or push in your skin.

inches

17) Was the hip mesurement above:

based on memory
based on a guess
based on a tape measurement over clothes
based on a tape measurement on bare skin (or underwear)

18) What is your bra size?

For the life of me, I cannot see the point of gathering this data. Were I feeling cynical, I might surmise that if the results were to show that sexier waitresses earn more in tips, one conclusion might be something like, ". . . and that's why women have the real competitive advantage in the service industry!" (Hereafter this will be referred to as The John Hawkins "Cheer Up, Ladies" Principle.) If instead the results were to demonstrate the opposite, the conclusion might be that therefore there is no sexism in the food service industry ever, because look how well customers tolerate the uglies!

Thank heavens, then, that I remain as blissful and wondering as I was the day I first came into the world, and am categorically not a cynic.

Anyway: Am I just not imaginative enough to work out a useful purpose for asking these questions? John? Moebius?

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Ideas Once Radical

I didn't start out a feminist blogger. I'm not sure this blog qualifies as a feminist blog even now--surely I'd be blogging more about feminist issues and less about, say, my idiotic personal life, if it did? If this is a feminist blog it isn't a very good one yet. I'm still working on it.

But what I've written about has certainly changed over the years, and for giving me the big push feministward I can actually credit one person: Right Wing News' John Hawkins, in response to whom I wrote this. I'd be prouder of the fact that it's the top result for searches on the phrase "death of sexism" if I didn't cringe so much re-reading it.

I cringe because in that post I'm doing something I've seen too many right-wing women do: To borrow from (heaven help me) literature on codependency, I am trying to take care of another's feelings while setting a boundary. I'm trying to reassure Hawkins that this isn't some nasty radfem hollering at him--look how I try to establish conservative cred by digging at Clinton--at the same time that I'm trying to assert the right of women writers on the web to be evaluated on their writing, not their appearances.

A book on codependency, a book on treating yourself as an actor instead of a reactor, as a human being instead of a parasite, will tell you, if it is any good, that you can't simultaneously take care of, or assume responsibility for, someone else's feelings, at the same time that you're trying to set a boundary in your relationship with that person.

It isn't the job of the person saying "Here's where I draw the line" to say also, "I mean, if that's okay with you?" It isn't the job of the person saying "So far and no further" to lard that statement up with compassion and understanding and weaselly attempts to forestall an angry reaction from the other party. Sometimes a dab of the old lard of compassion can help make the boundary easier for the other person to accept; that isn't what I'm against. I'm against the idea that it is the responsibility and the obligation of the boundary-setter to do everything in her power to put the boundary-violator at ease.

I am against this because it is at heart manipulative; who are you to deny and soothe away another person's feelings? Are you that person's mother? Did that person ask for your nurturing? Isn't it very presumptuous of you to assume they require it?

But I am even more against it because it doesn't work. It doesn't work because, if the offender was initially willing to hear what you were saying, she will only resent your assumption that she would have been hostile to it. If the offender was initially unwilling to hear what you were saying it's even worse, for now she has a button of yours to push. That button is labeled GUILT.

And that is why any argument begun from "I'm not one of those nasty man-hating feminists, but . . ." is doomed to fail. In the case of my go-round with Hawkins, it went like this:

Me: "I'm not a nasty man-hating feminist--boo Clinton!--but I think you are dumb for telling women to use their attractiveness to get recognition for their work."

Hawkins and assorted commenters: "Ha! What a cranky, fat old lesbian!"

It's a reaction that shouldn't have surprised me, but it did.

I'm less easily surprised by this attitude from right-wing men these days, having had the scales ripped from my eyes on several occasions since then. So I can't claim surprise that Hawkins is up to his old tricks:

There's this attitude out there, a perception, that there's something wrong with beautiful women using their looks to draw readers. The idea is supposed to be that it's all about their brains, it's all about their writing, that it's cheap or improper for them to have guys checking out their web pages just to ogle them.

That's bullcrap.

We all have different advantages and disadvantages. Some people started blogging earlier than others did. Some just plain old have more talent than others. Other people made a name for themselves in the mainstream media and benefitted from that when they came into the blogosphere. Some people are just great at social networking and get links that way. Then there are people who just, for whatever, get linked over and over again by other big bloggers. You can go on and on and on with this.

Long story short, we all have different strengths and weaknesses and life isn't fair. If you're a female blogger and one of your strengths is your looks, there's nothing wrong with trying to look sexy to entice guys over to your page. Nothing. At. All. If you've got it, flaunt it, and enjoy the increased traffic.

Hey, you know what's really bullcrap? Having women on your side of the aisle tell you for literally years that your attitude offends them and still having no better rebuttal to them than "Suck it up, ladies. Men like to ogle and it is our God-given right to. I think it's in the Constitution, even."

Hawkins is a dolt. This does not need to be reestablished, for crying out loud. We don't make schoolchildren prove repeatedly that three is less than five and we don't need to agonize over the formal logical proof that John Hawkins is no friend to women. The man's record speaks for itself, and the occasional crumbs of blog traffic he throws to a select handful of acquiescent women bloggers do not obscure it.

Beth of My Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy wrote about Hawkins' special brand of constipated bullcrap last week:

I don’t know why I bother with this shit. You know, I don’t plaster my fucking mugshot all over this blog because I don’t want the kind of readers that only come here for the fucking human decoration. I suppose if I were a whore, as apparently women are expected to be, I would use my face and body for a payoff. But I don’t. Maybe that’s acceptable in your world, but it isn’t in mine. Frankly, I find the constant objectification of women at RWN and a couple other blogs sleazy and creepy, not to mention out of place on what is supposedly a political site. Apparently you think women have so little to say of import that we SHOULD show some skin to boost our traffic–that no matter what we actually have to SAY, our looks trump (tramp) it.

And Beth's going to kill me for putting it this way, but I feel her pain here:

To tell y’all the truth, I’ve written this post in countless different ways over the last two and a half years, and each time I’ve deleted it. I don’t know why I did–I guess I just felt that I don’t need the headache. But now, I don’t even care. I know I’m going to take heat for this post, and it’s goddamned pathetic that I have to hear any crap about it. More than that, it’s EMBARRASSING. I’m tired of leftards saying conservatives are sexist pigs and keeping my mouth shut on the occasions that they’re right (which honestly isn’t often, but there are those who deserve the appellation). This time, the only way the aggravation (and really, the slap in the face) is going to subside is by NOT deleting this post.

Congratulations, Beth, you figured it out: Appeasement doesn't change anything.

Beth references something else from last week: Ann Althouse's catty criticisms of Jessica Valenti. Beth labels that the "Stupidest. Blogfight. Ever," and I can see why she might feel that way, but here's why I disagree with that assessment: Because it's the same thing Beth's upset about now. It is the same exact thing. It is the advancement of what many of us supposed was a long-dead idea: That women deserve to be judged first and foremost by their looks. This idea cannot be smacked down enough because I don't know if you've noticed, but it's making a resurgence. It wasn't Jessica's job to laugh it off and ignore it, anymore than it's Beth's job to delete her post because it is might offend a few douchebags or bring her further headache.

If there's one thing I've been dying to say to right-wing women it is this: You have rights, damnit. Assert them! I don't care what your positions on abortion or health care or foreign policy are; ASSERT YOUR RIGHTS. You are not obligated to temper or moderate your feelings about having those rights disrespected. Nor are you wrong to wonder that it keeps happening. It keeps happening not because men are inherently evil--as the strawfeminism argument likes to have it--but because fully accepting women's humanity requires men to surrender some privilege.

It is that privilege that says they need not post pictures, but you must; that says they are assumed rational until proven otherwise, but you are assumed emotional until proven rational; that says their preferences in reading material are the norm, but yours are merely specialized "women's issues."

Not all men will surrender these privileges willingly. I think an exchange I had with a lovely commenter named, of all things, Harvey Jerkwater, during Blog Against the Strawfeminist Week was illuminating in this regard. Harvey said,

To recognize yourself as being in a position of unfair superiority is hard. To grow up hearing that men have unfair advantages, that one's position in life is, in no small part, unearned, is a hard, hard pill to swallow. When you're told this sort of thing, it takes conscious effort not to be resentful.

I promptly told Harvey I didn't see why that should be my problem:

That makes every bit of sense, Harvey; thank you. I confess, though, that I usually see this as simply not my problem. I don't know a good "middle way" between telling a guy "tough shit, fella, that 'power' was never yours to begin with" and trying to be all kinds of placating: "There, there, I'm really sorry I stepped on your privilege."

And Harvey cheerfully agreed, bless him:

As far as it not being your problem, absolutely. Completely. It isn't. It's their damn problem.

The reason I commented was that I find when you're arguing with somebody, it helps if you know where they're coming from. When I debate politics, it helps to know how the other side sees itself, and why it believes what it does.

That makes it a lot easier to completely dismantle them in arguments. If you can show a doofus exactly how he's being a doofus in his own language, well...the look on the doofus's face as recognition dawns is f'n priceless.

Just another weapon in the arsenal, yo.

Harvey's right: It's another weapon in the arsenal. Right-wing women should not hesitate to use it against those who won't recognize their humanity. This is a hard thing for some conservative women to accept, though for the record, I don't think Beth's among them. I've never seen Beth flinch from accepting ugly facts. And the ugly fact is, men like John Hawkins are unlikely ever to surrender their sense of entitlement to women's bodies. That's the bad news.

The good news is that women on the right need feel no obligation to assume responsibility for the feelings of John Hawkins, or any others like him. It's out of your hands, Cotillionites. You've said something offends you and he's said he doesn't give a fuck. If any of you are still tying yourselves up in knots trying to understand and empathize and compromise then may I suggest a different hobby? One that might actually produce something tangible at the end of it?

Do not let John Hawkins set the agenda. This is a sort of Overton Window at work. You remember the Overton Window?

Step by step, ideas that were once radical or unthinkable -- homeschooling, tuition tax credits, and vouchers -- have moved into normal public discourse. Homeschooling is popular, tuition tax credits are sensible, and vouchers are acceptable. (On the latter, they've been soundly defeated in Michigan of late, but the point is that they are a part of normal public and political discourse.) The de facto illegality of homeschooling, by contrast, has gone the way of the dodo. The conscious decision to shift the Overton window is yielding its results.

Ideas that were once radical or unthinkable, like the idea that women should be judged in terms of their utility to men, have moved into the normal public discourse. It is the responsibility of those who want to move those ideas right back out to get in there and start tugging. And that's why I have mad respect for Beth, because Beth got in there.

My question to other right-wing women is, are you with her?

Okay, Now I Must Change This Template

I'm not sharing it with this one. Oh, no no no.

UPDATE: I wonder what these women would say about the Great Lie of Feminism?

According to HRCP, an estimated 70-90 percent of Pakistani women have suffered some form of domestic violence—ranging from beatings and rape to maiming and murder. Shahid became aware of these practices while researching forced marriages for the Lahore-based daily Khabrain. The so-called “blood marriages” (vinni, from the Pashto word for blood) are forced unions between rival clan members in parts of northwestern Pakistan. They settle disputes, restore honor, win forgiveness, and turn mostly minor girls—some as young as 5 years old—into servant-mistresses. Tribal jirgas, or assemblies, order the unions. One girl above the age of 7 or two girls younger than that are an acceptable compensation for, say, murder. The girls become the property of the victim’s family.

Yeah, but you know, the right not to have your husband throw acid in your face is just so much bullshit, don't you think?

The acid burns the hair off their heads, fuses lips, melts breasts, and leaves the victims blind, in agony, unrecognizable, and scarred for life. According to the independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), at least 211 women were killed in 2002 and countless others maimed when their husbands threw acid in their faces to punish them for disobedience. In Urdu, the acid is called tez ab—sharp water. Some victims say that it is worse than dying.

But is it worse than the boy crisis in education? That's what I want to know!

Forced marriage article via Pakistani Women.

It's interesting what you turn up if you Google Blogsearch "feminism"--in this case, one daft fact-challenged blogger who will not or cannot blame her resentment in her marriage on anything but big, bad, ugly feminism, and one blog about women struggling to attain the same rights that same daft blogger takes for granted. It would be sad if it weren't so . . . no, I'm sorry. It's just sad, period.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Truly I Am Horrid

I can't stop reading this. So help me, if any of you knew about this site and did not tell me I am going to be so damn mad at you.

Hours. I have wasted hours on this site. It is amazing and horrible and I can't stop.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Shortest Semester Yet

Monday I'm going to withdraw from my class. I alternate between being relieved and disappointed about this, but here is what it boils down to: If I am going to haul my aging ass up to the school and pay for my classes my own self then by gum, I am also going to drop them if I am not satisfied with my performance in them. And I'm not satisfied at all right now, which is just a sugarcoated way of saying I did not get my assignment done and therefore I would be unlikely to do well at getting any future assignments done, since the whole deal with the class is that each assignment builds off the prior one.

Everyone out there with massive student loan debt is going to stone me for mentioning this, and I don't blame them, but my parents used to pay for my classes. I KNOW, I AM A SPOILED BRAT. You don't have to tell me. But the downside to that is that my parents did not and do not understand that nowadays it's quite common for the really motivated students to play the "drop it if I can't get an A" game in order to keep their GPAs up, and so any classes they paid for I had to stick out, even if I was failing them, even if I knew three weeks into the semester that I was bound to fail them. Thus it is that I have two grades for an engineering course in statics and dynamics: An F for the first time I took it and a C for the second time. A career in bridge-building or flood control systems management is officially right the fuck out for me. I cannot solve so much as a basic pulley problem. "The forces must all sum to zero!" Oh, it seems so simple put like that, but you would be amazed at the chaos I can wreak on freshman-level engineering problems.

Anyway, this class-taking strategy did horrible things to my GPA at UT-Arlington, but now that I'm in charge, and especially now that NMSU has graciously wiped the GPA slate clean for me, it isn't going to happen ever again. If I can't handle a course load one particular semester I'm going to admit that I can't handle it and try again next semester. And if I don't graduate before 50, SO BE IT. So say I.

My project from now until spring is to work out a way that I can work fewer hours per week yet make the same amount of money. I am going to put all my special engineering problem-solving skills to work on this and . . . okay, I guess I can rule out a career in finance, too.

One funny thing: This is apparently a weed-out course--which is weird, because normally you're done with that by the time you get to upper division--and I am apparently not the only student who failed to turn in this week's assignment, because at 10:15 last night I received an email from the instructor with the subject header, and I am giving this to you very nearly verbatim, "Homework Extension."

I had at that point already thrown up my hands and decided to drop the damn course but when I saw that I let out a whoop of joy and called the boyfriend over to witness this last-minute miracle: An extension! An extension on the homework!

Then I opened it and read the instructor's not-very-sincere-at-all apology for . . . NOT granting a homework extension. Now, I like my professor very much but good gravy, TALK ABOUT PASSIVE-AGGRESSIVE, or at least socially backward. Think how poor a communicator you'd have to be to write an email whose contents deliver nearly the opposite of what your subject line suggests. I have a hard time believing anyone, even a computer science professor, is that clueless. I think it was a sadistic little maneuver on his part and I bet you he laughed fit to kill typing it, too. Having spent hours myself laughing fit to kill at some of the bullshit excuses offered in pursuit of the almighty extension/retest/do-over at Tall, Dark, and Mysterious, I can't wholly blame him, either. Still: Sadistic, dude.

For the record, I was not one of the students who requested an extension. I never request extensions; that way I never have to hear "No." I can't understand how students like the one MS describes in the link above work up the nerve to ask.

UPDATE: On the other hand, if I needed reminding that I need to get some sort of actual career going for myself, well, the helpful nurse practitioner who just explained to me in a dictation that, and I quote, "'PA'--transcriptionist, that stands for physician's assistant," hath provided. Next she'll be telling me that "MD" stands for "medical doctor!" CRAZY.

By the way, unnamed nurse practitioner, if you ever spell "foci" at me again I'm going to stab you in the eye with my protractor. It's four fucking letters. Honestly, I think they believe my job is performed by unusually literate monkeys.

I know I am standing right up on that ledge of bashing all women for the sins of a few, but if someone could explain to me why it is nearly always the female providers who do this sort of condescending thing that would be grand.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

You Can't Get Good Help Anymore

So I declare pain-in-the-ass commenter Gower this blog's official troll, and what does he do?--Fucks right off to never-never land, apparently. Haven't read a word outta him in days now.

This is just a nothing post to note that the blog's entering another don't-expect-much until-I-get-this-assignment-done period which, if things so far have been any indication, is likely to occur every Tuesday through Thursday for the next 11-odd weeks, with Tuesday through Thursday being also known as "the days most people bother reading weblogs."

So to recap: No trolls, no posts. I don't know what I keep this thing for anymore.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Dweeb Threatens to Out Me Because of the Hypocrisy

A rare gem from the moderation queue, signed "Gower":

It's such a lovely day outside. Don't you think it's time we went for an outing?

I had the feeling, when Gower was making it apparent that in his/her young world, "coding" equals "3l33t CSS skillz d00d," that I was dealing wtih a commenter somewhat lacking in maturity. Oh, Gower may be 60 for all I know, but mere years on earth do not an adult make, as I'm sure I don't have to tell anyone. Anyway, if I had any doubts about the maturity level I'm dealing with here, the comment above killed 'em, stone dead.

This has always been exactly how I feel about the new-fangled pasttime the kids are digging on these days, this "outing" craze--take it away, Gavin:

. . . these guys commonly seem to lack a sense of proportion in their bwa-ha-haa antics. They don’t (or can’t) see that calling someone a fucktard on the Internet is harmless, while meddling in someone’s real, non-Internet life is malignant and despicable. It makes you a bad person — whereas even the most stupid crap you say on the Internet can only make you a poster-of-stupid-crap-on-the-Internet.

It hasn't really come up here but since I've seen it elsewhere, I'll just say: Yes, I apply that to Althouse too. I've heard the argument that because she's a teacher, and because some of her students may be young women, that therefore . . . uh, the way she treated Jessica, you know, she could do that TO A STUDENT.

To which I say, she sure could, but you don't know that she's going to and what is this, Minority Report: Madison Edition? And also and especially and one more time, what Gavin said: Stupid crap on the internet. That's all it is, ultimately--just more stupid crap on the internet. I might get very exercised about it and you might, too, but the internet is where I think it should stay, personally. We already know it has a huge crap capacity; a little more won't hurt it none.

Well, let's hope the hypocrisy police don't cart me off. Stupid crap, all right.

Following up on the Most Important Subject Ever

There was so much discussion of Althouse's antics yesterday that I don't know where to start or how to organize this. I'll just throw out some things that came up, here and elsewhere, that got me thinking.

Civility:

A commenter here expressed disgust with me over some of the slurs I hurled at Ann Althouse:

>lying, spiteful sack of shit.

>that brainless crone

>This is Ann Airhead we're dealing with.

>a vain, petty old scag like Ann Althouse.

>who's being a total fucking retard?"

>this useless dimwit

>your wilted crumpled self

>you fetid old bat.

A lovely post, Ilyka. I don't want to hear another word from you criticizing the tone of right-wing bloggers. NOT ANOTHER WORD.

No, really. Not one word.

You don't like Ann Althouse. WE GET IT.

I've seen this issue come up on other feminist blogs, so it was only a matter of time before it came up here. This is how I work it out: I don't have a problem with someone suggesting that if you're against demeaning and objectifying women you should, in fact, walk the talk. That criticism is valid, and it's one I see feminists make of each other regularly. From Amanda's post on Breastgate, commenter Crys T:

. . . the number of messages I’ve read in this thread–many of them apparently written by women–that basically say that Althouse’s real problem is she’s a dried-up old bag who’s just jealous of the Sweet, Nubile Young Thang that is Jessica* makes me think that it’s not just Althouse’s misogyny we need to be criticising here.

. . .

Being one of the tragically over 40, I can’t tell you how fucking annoying and dehumanising it is to be constantly reading about how any woman my age is clearly on the rubbish heap of sexuality, never to attract another potential bonking partner again, because god knows that no man would ever have to lower himself to fucking me when he’s got all those vibrant 20-somethings to go after. And of course, any criticism a woman my age might make of a younger woman CLEARLY comes from “jealousy” and could never have any other explanation. Right?

And this reasoning is from the “feminists”???? Someone explain to me exactly how this differs from mainstream patriarchal woman-hating, because from where I stand, it looks like the exact same thing.

Pay attention, now: In the abstract, I agree with her--in the abstract, as a general rule. The problem with applying it to this particular instance is that it doesn't hold up. There is enough evidence that Ann's motive for not backing down from her tasteless (and tiresome) Lewinsky jokes stemmed from spite and jealousy to safely call her out on it. See Lindsay Beyerstein's thorough timeline here, including:

I agree that, initially, Ann wasn't judging Jessica by her looks. For the most part she and her commenters were just using her picture as fodder for cheap Clinton/Lewinsky laughs.

But when Jessica confronted her, Ann felt compelled to justify her trash talking. After all, Ann Althouse doesn't engage in idle trash talk. No, she's a serious intellectual. There must be a principle at stake.

According to Ann, Jessica deserved the Monica jokes because of her wanton "posing" and her willingness to stand next to Bill Clinton. Jessica's presumptuous complaining sealed her fate. Ann explains that this was when she decided to punish Jessica by judging her for real.

"Provoked, I decide to actually give her a small dose of the kind of judgment for brains she seems to demanding," Althouse writes in her second post.

This isn't a hypothetical 40-something woman about whom people are making unfounded assumptions. This is a specific instance in which the shoe fits, and I say she may as well wear it. Especially once she lobbed this:

Ann Althouse:
But I certainly think that to really do a great comic performance, Jessica should have worn a beret. Blue dress would have been good too.
12:51 PM, September 15, 2006

On, then, to my problem with the "you've got no call to complain about civility on the right when look what you said, ooh, hypocrisy" critique, which is that it disingenuously ignores vast differences in degree between the treatment of women on the left versus the treatment of women on the right, for one; and for two, feminism isn't Christianity. It doesn't obligate anyone to turn the other cheek and it certainly doesn't obligate anyone to pretend things are any other way than the way they are.

And this is the way things are: Misogyny and sexism run free and unbridled throughout MOST of the best-read right-wing blogs. Not some, not just a few cranks; MOST. And don't kid yourself that they spare Althouse from it. A lowlight (there are others) from a thread about her at Little Green Footballs:

Does this dumb slut realize the left is well represented at OSM?

I guess not. Typical ill-informed invective from a Berkeley house whore.

Because calling her a slut was really relevant to addressing her criticisms of Pajamas Media. We can't evaluate Ann's criticisms until we've established that she has a lot of sex, probably with multiple partners; this is important to stipulate.

Granted, this WAS in response to Ann's joke that Open Source Media = Open Sores Media, which set the bar of taste low to begin with; but if you can't see the difference between criticizing, however juvenilely, a business versus calling an individual a slut and a Berkeley house whore, then you know what, you've failed to grasp everything I have ever said on this blog and I must firmly suggest that you read something else.

The short version of my position on civility: When I see any evidence at all that the right is taking steps to police itself on the issue of sexism--I don't even demand that they do it as rigorously as Crys T or any other left-leaning feminist, just that they acknowledge the problem and do something to rein it in--then I will consider a commenter's outrage at remarks like "fetid old bat" with the respect it is due. Until then, that commenter is comparing apples and oranges, and holding me to a double standard, and I ain't down.

Clinton:

I basically decided yesterday that I'd rather have a feminist apologist for Clinton in my corner than a "Mine is the One True Feminism" nutbar like Althouse. But I realized also that I've never said much about Clinton, or about Clinton and feminism, or anything like that. Here is all I have to say about it:

While I largely agree with arguments like Scott Lemieux's yesterday, that politics is about policymaking, and that therefore a feminist might support Clinton for his policies without endorsing some of his personal behavior, I nonetheless wince at statements like this one:

What he did with Lewinsky is potentially open to criticism on (genuinely) feminist grounds (and he received some), but again--it was not only consensual but initiated by Lewinsky. It is sexual harassment only under an extremely broad definition of the term, and isn't "groping" (which in context implies a lack of consent) at all.

I am tired of hearing how Lewinsky "initiated" the relationship. "But she did!" you say. "Yes, she did," I agree with you, "but he was her boss, he was married, he was older, and he should have known better."

I don't like "but Monica started it!" because the implication is that, well, gosh, Bill couldn't help himself, what with her throwing herself at him like that! And to that I say bullshit. I don't object to Bill having scored on the side in the White House, I object to Bill having scored on the side with a woman with whom he was so obviously not on equal footing. Bill didn't bang a sophisticated, 45-year-old D.C. attorney, people, he banged a 22-year-old intern. I think it's an abuse of power regardless of who initiated what. I can't approve of it, and before someone brings this up, I don't care that "every other president" did it, too.

Besides I figure defenses of Bill on the grounds that Monica started it are counterproductive, because all it means is that the next time an Althouse shrieks about how quick! The gender feminists are! To make excuses for Clinton!, I'm going to have to admit, grudgingly, that she has a point. And I hate doing that.

The Overton Window:

"The what?" you ask. "The Overton window," I answer, "as explained by über-dork Tacitus to thereisnospoon, a diarist at My Left Wing. Here," I say, giving you a link, "read it. If you've already read it before, read it again, because tomorrow I'm going to tackle how it relates to Instapundit and the right-wing blogosphere in general." "Did you just say blogosphere?" you shriek. "Yes, I did," I say contritely, "and I am so sorry."

UPDATE: Belledame has more on civility here:

It's not about ideology, particularly. It's not about never swearing or never getting passionate or even never personally insulting anybody.

It's about: can you, ever, in any circumstances, meet the other person halfway? A quarter of the way? A tenth of the way?

Are you capable of grasping nuance, even a little bit?

Can you, even partially, even grudgingly, ever admit, in any circumstances, that you were wrong? About anything?

Would you, once in a great while, be willing to put aside your overwhelming need to have the last word?

Yes. Ultimately civility is about such nebulous concepts as attitude and good faith, which makes it difficult to classify dialogue definitively as civil or uncivil. Though for the record, I do think my post about Althouse was uncivil; my point is that it's difficult for me to care about that, because I don't see any evidence that Ann approaches these issues with any of the qualities Belledame lists. Asking me to meet an opponent 100% of the way--which, since Ann concedes NONE of her opponent's points, is what I'd have to do to be civil to her--is asking too much of me, or of anyone. It's . . . uncivil.

A VERY PEDANTIC UPDATE: Thanks to Auguste for pointing out that the Overton Window thing was actually a discussion between Josh Trevino and thereisnospoon, not Maryscott O'Connor. I've corrected the attribution. I just hate goofing up things like that for I, too, am a pedant. AND A HYPOCRITE! Let's stone me for it.

That's Right I Said It

I got respect for Dawn Eden:

Unfortunately, efforts to objectify and marginalize women come from both sides of the political spectrum and everywhere in between. Jessica and I disagree on virtually everything, but she has my sympathy on this one.

Thank you, Dawn. You at least acknowledge something I can't get even supposedly "more moderate" women to cop to: Objectification happens, and it doesn't feel too good when you're the object.

It's likely Dawn sources the root causes of objectification quite differently than I do, but I'd still rather read a statement like hers than have yet another head-to-desk go-round about whether objectification exists/is evolutionarily "natural"/is a dirty lie told by feminazis/would be okay if only women would just quit complaining about it, etc.

Bravo, Dawn for not dodging that uncomfortable reality. It happens. It happens, and it's lousy.

P.S. But, Dawn, if you read this, do me a favor and don't read any other posts on this blog, because they tend to have all kinds of cusses in them (except I do keep the 2nd Commandment, but still) and also, one of them contains a picture of my boobs (in a bra, but still). I am sorry. :(

Friday, September 15, 2006

Friday Breastblogging

In news that will surprise no one, no one at all, Ann Althouse continues to be a lying, spiteful sack of shit. A lying, spiteful sack of shit who hates boobs.


That's just un-American, is what I say. I also say, echoing zuzu, "Fuck you, Ann Althouse."

Won't it be cute the next time she goes crying for feminist support? Why, yes! Yes, it will be very cute. Indeed.

UPDATE: Lauren mentioned bad rap earlier. That was a bad idea. Very, very bad.



We like the boobs; the boobs that go BOOM.

NOT THAT THIS WILL DO ANY GOOD, BUT, AN UPDATE: Ann is now complaining in her own comments that none of the feminazis haters answered her question. I refuse to link to that brainless crone, in keeping with a vow I made after my last go-round with Instapundit's umber whunnnn fayunnn, but here's what she sez about it (emphasis mine):

Well, all you folks who took advantage of this comments section to attack me, in fact, you've made the argument against yourselves. Despite repeated requests, you never addressed the question asked. You mightily tried to put up a smokescreen, but no one serious is fooled. You did not address the question. I'm going to have to give you an F and deem all the things you haven't addressed conceded. I hope you understand that.

So I went looking for the question, because I thought it'd be less messy and less painful than taking the nail-pulling end of a hammer to my skull. I was wrong, of course, because THERE IS NO QUESTION, or at least not one I deem "serious," and please forgive me for getting even that close to trotting out the old "unserious" accusation that the rightwing bloggers have been making a mockery of FOR AT LEAST THE LAST THREE YEARS, if not longer.

But don't take it from me; you be the judge. Here is every last sentence in Ann's post that ends in a question mark, and yes, this was painful for me to do and almost, but not quite, necessitated the imbibing by me of strong spirits:

  • I wanted to elevate a discussion from the comments section of a post from Wednesday, you know the one with the photo of the Daou-wrangled bloggers posing in front of Bill Clinton?

  • Yeah, we know.

  • The first commenter, Goesh, picks up on my prompt -- "Let's just array these bloggers... randomly" -- and wisecracks: "Who is the Intern directly in front of him with the black hair?"

  • That was technically someone else's question, so I don't think this is what Ann's demanding a "serious" answer to, either. Then again, who knows. This is Ann Airhead we're dealing with.

  • Making this colloquy into this new blog post, I actually click over to Jessica's blog, and what the hell?

  • THE CALLS ARE COMING FROM INSIDE THE HOUSE!

    Wait--that was only a movie, and much less scary than the prospect of Ann Althouse teaching anyone about anything. Also I don't think that was her question, either.

  • Then, when she goes to meet Clinton, she wears a tight knit top that draws attention to her breasts and stands right in front of him and positions herself to make her breasts as obvious as possible?

  • Finally, something I can answer! Except Jill already answered it:

    It’s fairly clear that the photo is arranged by height, with the shorter people in the front. Jessica, one of the shorter people there, is in the front row. She stands, back straight, with her hands at her sides like everyone else. She moves slightly over so that she’s not blocking the former President.

    But she wore that sweater! And here is where Althouse gives away her true objection to that photo because, like all vapid gasbags, she's not smart enough to lie well. In fact let's answer my question: What the fuck is this demented old crone on about? She's on about the fact that it fucking kills her that Jessica is young, talented, and beautiful. Ann in her prime could never have been such a knockout. And I might have a grain of sympathy for Ann if she'd just admit that, because you know something, I'm a fat old bag myself and sometimes it's hard for me to see beautiful younger women achieving things I never even dreamed of--I mean, whatever you think of William Jefferson Clinton, he WAS President once. I'd be thrilled to meet him just to say I did it. Regardless, I am no stranger to jealousy and I get those little pangs of envy for youth myself sometimes. I do!

    And then I endeavor to keep my grousing to myself because whatever else I am, I am not a vain, petty old scag like Ann Althouse.

  • Or are you going to say she's some kind of Karl Rove plant?

  • Now who's being unserious? Wait, that didn't come out right. I meant to ask, "Now who's being a total fucking retard?"

  • Case in point?

  • I was going to give you the context for that question, but please, just take my word for it that it makes no sense whatsoever and is DEEPLY UNSERIOUS to boot.

    I might note that apparently now if you pose for a photo with the President and you aren't clad in attire Ann approves of, it counts as "breastblogging." I only wish I were making that up, but that's logic on Planet Althouse for you.

  • What are you going to do?

  • Drive the knife in and twist.

  • So am I for giving her the publicity.... but what the hell?

  • I haven't looked at Feministing's traffic lately but I think it'll be a cold, lonely day in hell when the gang there are dependent on ANN ALTHOUSE for publicity of any sort.

    And THAT'S IT for Ann's questions. You want to know the truth? I think she did too many hallucinogens back in the day and actually thinks she has asked serious questions that she only asked in her mind. Just to be sure, though, because I am much fairer to my opponents than is this useless dimwit, I went back and checked the previous post. NO FUCKING QUESTIONS. AT ALL.

    Maybe she asked one in the comments, but last I checked that comments thread was over 275 comments long and besides my fairness has run out, so you know something? I'm not counting questions asked in her comments. If you're such an almighty A-list blogger, Althouse, ask the question in a post. Because this is, I suspect, her question:

    "How can you call yourself a feminist when you're cozying up to a former President who was so abusive to women?"

    Right, Ann? That was the fucking question, wasn't it? Here's a tip: Next time, lay off slagging other women for the crime of looking better than your wilted crumpled self and JUST ASK THE QUESTION. IN A POST, ANN, NOT IN YOUR MIND.

    And as for the answer here is my guess: Because we all make compromises sometimes and it's an honor to meet with any former President and since Ann knows and I know and everyone with an IQ over 70 knows that Ann isn't really concerned about feminism at all, why don't we just stipulate that this is a bullshit (and, I repeat, UNASKED) question. What you were really interested in doing, Ann, was taking that hot young thing down a peg or two. Too bad you're the one who landed face down in the mud in the attempt, you fetid old bat.

    Quick! Someone call Dr. Helen! I see a woman behaving badly on the internet, and her name's Ann Althouse.

    Thursday, September 14, 2006

    Ahem

    I have been coding all day, and so it is with much ignorance and even more trepidation that I now ask: Is there perchance a FLAME WAR going on somewhere around here? Maybe in the comments to, oh, I don't know, a little post I did up recently about ANGER?

    Yeah, who could have seen that coming? I mean really.

    I haven't been actually reading the comments (I suspect a flame war only because there are suddenly so many of them), because as scintillating as I'm sure everyone's remarks were, they had nothing to do with getting my program to work, see. Speaking of which, I do hope you're all being relatively decent to each other because otherwise guess what I am going to tell you ALL ABOUT? In GREAT AND BORING DETAIL?

    Yes, I thought that might do it.

    Tuesday, September 12, 2006

    Go Madrid, Go Milan

    Check it:

    The world's first ban on overly thin models at a top-level fashion show in Madrid has caused outrage among modeling agencies and raised the prospect of restrictions at other catwalk pageants.

    Does whining ensue? Whining about discrimination and freedom? Of course it does:

    "I think its outrageous, I understand they want to set this tone of healthy beautiful women, but what about discrimination against the model and what about the freedom of the designer," said Gould, Elite's North America director, adding that the move could harm careers of naturally "gazelle-like" models.

    This is a gazelle:



    And this is what Marvel Comics figured a gazelle oughtta look like--all 5 feet 9 inches, 145 pounds of her:



    And this is the famine victim whom Ms. Gould thinks is that way "naturally:"



    I mean . . . ? I'm not buying the nature argument.

    Milan, too:

    The mayor of Milan, Italy, Letizia Moratti told an Italian newspaper this week she would seek a similar ban for her city's show unless it could find a solution to "sick" looking models.

    How gauche. Everyone knows sick is the new natural.

    Sunday, September 10, 2006

    No Really, That's All Right, You Don't Have To, Honest, We're Good

    "Simpsons" creator: "Let's keep doing it."

    Legitimate Anger

    So tomorrow is That Day. I didn't participate in the 2996 Project, in which each of the victims of September 11 is profiled by a blogger in detail, because I knew I was inadequate to do it well. Here is someone who did it well, and I'm sure there are many more.

    There is still something that bothers me even five years on, something I think I might be better able to clarify now thanks to a commenter at Pandagon. About September 11, Dan of Tinny Words says:

    The most notable thing about life since that that day, for me, is that I’ve never felt anger over it, and certainly not fear. Only sadness.

    And then that smartass* Auguste adds:

    Which, to the wingnuts, makes you less of a person.

    I am not in any position to speak for "the wingnuts." I am only able to speak for myself and this is how I feel about it: People grieve differently. People process loss differently. I don't think Dan's less-than for processing that day differently than I did.

    I find the Kübler-Ross model helpful to illustrate more or less how I grieve. You are probably familiar with it; if not, here's a brief article explaining it, or here is my super-short version. Kubler-Ross enumerated five stages people move through when grieving:

    1. Denial.
    2. Anger.
    3. Bargaining.
    4. Depression.
    5. Acceptance.

    It's a handy enough model, but what often gets left unsaid about it is that not every person experiences all five stages. People also may not move through them in the order listed; they may cycle or bounce back and forth among states. It isn't a linear process.

    Again, when I read a comment like Dan's I don't see him as less of a person. I see him as someone who grieves differently than I do. There is nothing wrong with Dan or people like him. And there is nothing wrong with the people for whom anger was an early or prominent reaction on September 11.

    I think back to the arguments that occurred regularly in the comments at Michele Catalano's old blog, A Small Victory (now defunct). They occurred mainly between Michele and other commenters (including myself) who were angry; and other commenters who not only weren't angry, but weren't tolerant of anyone else being angry. Not being angry yourself is not a problem. Not tolerating anger from others on the grounds that you're not angry, so why should they be?--Is.

    They tried to shame us out of our anger. "It's been a year; isn't it time you moved on?" Or my personal favorite, The Hate Card, would be drawn: "I refuse to let what happened that day fill me with hatred, Michele, and you shouldn't either."

    I don't think Michele was filled with hatred and I don't think I was filled with hatred and I don't think most of the ASV commenters were filled with hatred. But what I did see in the time between 2001-2004 were a lot of people, again including myself, who became increasingly resentful about being nagged to relinquish our anger before we were ready to do that. We clung to our anger all the harder as a result. And this should have surprised exactly no one.

    You don't jolly someone out of depression by telling them to just quit being depressed. You don't crush someone's denial by telling them to stop denying reality. You don't thwart someone's bargaining by telling them trading is closed for the day. And you don't defuse someone's anger by telling them to quit being angry. To be honest, I'm getting a little angry all over again myself just recalling it. The people who dwell for a time in the stages of grief must be allowed to move through them at their own individual paces. About this I am adamant, not least because attempts to force them through a particular stage faster, attempts to make them bypass a stage completely, usually have the opposite effect from the one intended.

    I tried once to write about what got me reading right-wing blogs and why I took comfort from them after September 11. I don't think I did a very good job of it. I'm not good with feelings. But the short version is that weblogs provided an outlet for my anger at a time when it seemed to me that every other form of media (with the possible exception of talk radio, which I have never enjoyed), was telling me that the worst thing an American could do after September 11 was to be angry. Well, I said bullshit to that and I think many people did. And I think that need for an outlet for anger, more than any other reason, is why we've got the idiotic wingnut punditocracy we do today: Because they got the traffic push early from people like myself, people who weren't finished moving through anger yet.

    (I also think traffic is on the wane for a lot of them because people are finally finishing up with anger, but that's another post for another day.)

    I don't knock Dan. In a way he's a lucky fellow to have been able to skip the anger. Anger is exhausting. I only wish more people who leaned left had been a little less quick to shush the angry, because some anger is legitimate. It is only a problem if one stays stuck in it too long or directs it at the wrong targets.


    *Naturally I mean that as a compliment.

    Saturday, September 09, 2006

    Fine, Take Away My Feminist Card Forever, I Don't Care

    But damn, I can't STAND Ani DiFranco. I admire her business practices, I like most of what she stands for, I think, but the music?--Please for the love of all that's holy turn that shit OFF.

    Is there a person you're expected to love whom you don't?

    Friday, September 08, 2006

    You Made Your Bed Now Lie in It (And Other Self-Serving, Useless Tropes)

    The "elitist asshole" referenced here provides this rebuttal:

    I grew up in your beloved heartland, watched my downtown die slowly, and I moved to San Franciso, the capitol of elitist assholery. now I've moved back, this time to Detroit. I would just say fuck you back and fuck your ignorant blatherings, but I can't help wanting to point out that you miss my point entirely. whether or not people "want" to shop at Wal-Mart is irrelevant so long as they prefer to shop there over the homegrown, locally owned businesses that make up most downtowns, the quirky, kuraltian places I sought out on my journey across the country. Those places were all boarded up. If they now have no real choices left, that's their fault and the result of their choices. What I was saying was that it wasn't my place to judge them for not eshewing Wal Mart for the alternatives you indicate aren't really feasible anyways.

    Terrific. Well, let's just move on down the list:

    1. It is not my "beloved" heartland.

    2. If you're going to call my blatherings ignorant it would behoove you not to prove them so accurate.

    3. Which, Dutch, you do right here: "you miss my point entirely. whether or not people "want" to shop at Wal-Mart is irrelevant so long as they prefer to shop there over the homegrown, locally owned businesses that make up most downtowns, the quirky, kuraltian places I sought out on my journey across the country."

    4. If anyone's missed any points around here, it's you. Because I believe my ENTIRE point is that blaming the people economically dependent upon Wal-mart for being economically dependent upon Wal-mart is fucking idiotic. See also: Self-serving, useless.

    5. It is also indicative of the attitude of someone who has either always enjoyed a cushy bank balance, or who, having escaped the wolf at the door, has ever since employed an "I got mine, you get yours" mentality towards those who still hear the howling.

    6. In other words, it is not a matter of PREFERENCE. It is not a matter of WANTS. I believe I only said as much in my original post oh, 46 times or so.

    7. Saying it IS a matter of want or preference lets you off the hook for doing anything about it, though, I'll grant you that. I mean, doing anything besides moving to a nice, coastal, progressive city and looking down your nose at those you left behind.

    8. How very kind of you to tolerate their silly preferences and refrain from judging, by the way.

    9. Besides, everyone knows that poverty is caused by poor people. Or: "If they now have no real choices left, that's their fault and the result of their choices." I am not exaggerating one bit when I say to you that I know fire-breathing Republicans who aren't this Darwinian about the issue.

    So go back to your blog and bask in the praise you got for writing something so beautiful. Whatever you do, don't scratch your head and wonder if maybe there aren't some unaddressed class issues you need to examine here. Don't wonder anything. Just, next time you have the misfortune to be stuck in a McDonald's, make sure to weep bitter tears over the plight of the guy mopping the floor, because that will totally make everything okay again.

    Fuck Your Index Site

    I know it was a nothing post anyway, one simply linking someone else's post, in fact, but all the same I just loathe things like this. Anyone know how to opt out of it? I mean, if I'd wanted my shit to appear somewhere besides here, I'd have signed up for Pajamas Media*.


    *Not really.

    Hibernation

    I have heard it said that you shouldn't make a big deal out of announcing that you aren't going to be posting as much or at all or whatever, and I can see the argument there, not least of which is that then you look like a real dumbass if you post 12 things immediately following your "posting will be light" notice, but I don't know, the guilt gets to me. It's not that I think I'm that special or anything, it's that I feel an obligation to say something. So what I'm saying is, if I were you, I wouldn't bother with this weblog much until mid-December maybe. Because I'm not going to bother with it much until at least then.

    But enough about me, let's talk about me for a change: I like this class better than I thought I would. Most shocking of all, to me, is that I'm better at this class than I thought I would be. In the years between taking my first programming class all the way through to becoming an ex-software-developer (oh hey! Some unsolicited advice: If your boss in any field ever assures you that it's in your best interests to abandon completing your degree so that you can work 80-hour weeks because "the money is really hot right now and no one cares about educational background," recall that bosses never put your best interests above those of the company's. I cannot stress this enough.), I forgot something: I forgot that I am actually pretty fucking good at this. Meaning, I stayed up late last night sweating an assignment which it turns out, upon review of said assignment in class this morning, I rocked.

    The thing is, last night I was pretty sure I had it. I had checked my work and my work checked out. But I did not have that confidence of knowing I had it. I had a lot of stupid doubts about a lot of stupid things, and that was the problem: I was confusing stupid doubts with useful doubts. A useful doubt is one that questions whether you've done something correctly. A stupid doubt is one that questions whether you should even be doing this at all, you ignorant old fat hag.

    There are definitely a few things I'm still rusty on. My ability to think is good, my willingness to do the work is good, my instincts may even be excellent. Nevertheless, I think I'd better focus on getting an A out of this fucking class because that right there would be a huge confidence boost for me, and I all-caps, bold, underline NEED that right now.

    In the meantime, if you ever really get bored you can go marvel at the makeover industrious reader Gower has given to Men and Women Are Different. It's a stunner, I think you'll agree.

    Three One-Sentence Links

    "The day I decide to start fucking my clock radio is the day I show up at an ER with a sparks-spraying, Eurythmics-playing robot wrapped around my dick, a can opener in one hand and an incredibly surprised look on my face."

    "The whole idea is that we’re a free society, and freedom is messy in that not everyone is going to do something you agree with."

    And lastly, that dig at mathematicians was completely unnecessary.

    Wednesday, September 06, 2006

    Does Not Equal

    Well:

    The difference between sexism and racism

    One is acceptable; the other isn’t.

    Imagine if the host of a popular TV show on dog training had made the following remarks:

    “Black people are the only species that is wired different from the rest. They always apply affection before discipline. White people apply discipline then affection, so we’re more psychological than emotional. All animals follow dominant leaders; they don’t follow lovable leaders.”

    He would probably be fired, don’t you think? But professional dog-trainer/fucktard Cesar Millan made precisely these remarks about women — substitute “woman” for “black people” in the paragraph above, re-conjugate the verbs as necessary, and voilá: the Cesar Millan Theory of Gender. Somehow I don’t think he’s going to lose his job. He’s just a crazy colorful Latino, right?

    Before I type anything further can I list a few things that "[sexism] is acceptable; [racism] isn't" does not equal? Because I think it's going to come in handy later. "Sexism is acceptable; racism isn't" does not equal:

  • "Sexism is a bigger/worse problem than racism."

  • "Racism is no longer a problem, or it's so insignificant a problem that we can safely ignore it."

  • "I am a guilty white liberal abusing my privilege."

  • "People of color get away with sexism all the time while here I can't even say the n-word."


  • I do think Dr. Socks' point could have been made better in two ways, because I am presumptuous like that:

    First, by not boiling it down to "this is the difference." That's a little too essentialist even for me.

    Second, that word "acceptable:" Acceptable to whom? To how many? In which contexts? What constitutes "acceptance?" Is it possible or likely that white people might judge whether an event is "accepted" or "tolerated" differently than people of color, based on differing experiences and backgrounds?

    I may be misreading the whole post, but it seems to me this is a question of thresholds of acceptability, and if that expression seems unnecessarily word-wonky I apologize. But the problems with putting the Dog Whisperer's quote into an acceptable/not acceptable binary are many, not least of which is that those whom racism targets are naturally going to object to any white person implying that racism is more unacceptable--and no wonder, because the further implication of that is, the racism people of color experience and see tolerated, excused, defended, or minimized by whites isn't, in fact, tolerated or hell, maybe even in existence at all.

    People don't like it when you imply that their experiences either didn't happen, or didn't generate the response they saw generated, and whether you meant to imply that at all doesn't matter, because "racism is less acceptable than sexism" IS a valid inference to take from "sexism is acceptable; racism isn't." Or, what Tia said yesterday:

    So especially on occasions when you get a basically uniform chorus saying they experience some aspect of society as harmful, and your response is that it is not important, you're wrong, and you're being a dick. If you think it might be a little important, but not quite as important as we say it is, you’re still wrong.

    I do not mean to imply that Dr. Socks is saying racism isn't important (I covered that above, right? See, I knew that would come in handy), but rather that if several bloggers of color object to your phrasing, it might be that the problem is your phrasing.

    I said "thresholds of acceptability," but maybe that phrase is no good, either. Here, though, is what I mean by it: I think sexism has a higher acceptability threshold only in that public figures can afford to be more overt when making sexist remarks than they can when making racist remarks. The level of subterfuge and verbal camouflage needed to mask their intentions, correspondingly, is lower. Thus, a host of a popular television program can say women are a different species and not lose his job. Meanwhile, Trent Lott couldn't even get Republicans to sanction his remarks at Strom Thurmond's birthday:

    One of the great patriotic emotions of our time, it seems to me, is to be eager that everyone in our country come to feel as secure and respected as everyone else. Part of that--just a small part but a meaningful one--means no speaking in racial code words by political, cultural or religious leaders. Period. Or anyone else if that's possible.

    I believe that Trent Lott spoke at the Thurmond birthday party in racial code words. And a man who does that should not, half a century into the modern movements for civil rights, be allowed to continue as the face of a major political party in politics.

    What follows from that, however, is that not only does racism having a lower acceptability threshold not diminish the problem of racism, it in fact positions racism as the more insidious problem, one tougher to fight precisely because it is no longer as overt. Barring "an end to racism" as a choice, I do not know what people of color would prefer: An outright, slur-using racist, or a racist who covers her racism in so-called politically correct language. I do know, again barring "an end to it" as an option, that I personally prefer my sexists up front and in my face. I'd rather be called a bitch than be told I "seem unusually angry;" I'd rather be told my sex can't think logically than be told I'm "being irrational;" I'd rather be labeled a feminazi than be told I'm "making too much of the issue;" etc.

    If I have to deal with sexism, and apparently I do, I would rather dispense with the fucking code words. If I have to unearth and examine and explain the ideas that underlie and form the basis of someone's sexism, that wastes my time (here you should recall that I am very lazy). If someone tells me women are a different species, though, I can just go, "Right whatever, but maybe you should check your taxonomy, asshole." See how much more efficient that was?

    Feminists can strive to make sexism less acceptable in the mainstream, but I don't know that doing so will make its eradication any easier to achieve. If anything I think that's when it's going to get worse, not better. If there's going to be any comparison and contrast between racism and sexism--and I kind of wish there weren't, because--oh hey look, it's Tia again:

    Do not draw up a bunch of hierarchies about which form of oppression is worse than which other. When you do this, you’re not responding to a claim that what we experience is the worst thing ever; you just show up and start talking about why what the women say they experience is not as big of a deal as X, Y, or Z.

    --but if the discussion must be had anyway, it ought to be HAD, not cut off at the root with "check your privilege." What Violet's trying to say might be coming from privilege and it might not. Maybe it could have been worded better and maybe it was worded exactly as she intended. But even if she's saying it is easier to be overtly sexist in our society, that's not really good news for anybody, least of all women of color, because if the fight against racism has been any example, it's only going to get tougher to eliminate once it goes underground. So for every Trent-Lott-resignation equivalent, there are going to be, depend upon it, hundreds of thousands of was-it-or-wasn't-it incidences of veiled sexism that have to be unpacked before they can even be confronted. And if anyone can somehow get "she's minimizing the problem of racism!" from that, well then I give up.

    Tuesday, September 05, 2006

    Plastic Nightmare

    Keep a groin punch cocked for anyone who swipes your check card repeatedly. Otherwise, $5610.00 later, you may be wishing you'd just stayed home and fixed yourself a sandwich instead of going out for pizza.

    Monday, September 04, 2006

    Barbed

    I was going to note the death of Steve Irwin, but nothing I'd say could top Jay Pinkerton's obituary, which is sweet and funny and offers this excellent maxim besides:

    You can't spend your life chasing after the world's most deadly animals without one of them eventually figuring out that you're very stupid food.

    Sad, but true. Rest in peace, Mr. Irwin.

    Unprovoked Aggression

    Man, you try to open up a little, to engage your readers by sharing something special with them, something very personally dear to you, and what happens? Some fool makes it out like you're trying to start a video war with him.

    Ah, the elderly: How sweetly confused they get sometimes. Hey, maybe a performance by two of his contemporaries would help to defuse hostilities.



    Though if that doesn't work, now might be a good time to remind everyone that I used to spend three hours every Sunday with guys like this:



    . . . which means I've built up an immunity. Sadly, medical researchers haven't quite finished work on the vaccine they're trying to make from my blood. So, uh, don't watch that unless you used to be a Mormon too, or maybe not even then.

    Really. Don't.

    UPDATE: Gosh, Chris, if it was boy bands you were after, all you had to do was say so.

    Saturday, September 02, 2006

    Thank God He's an Ocean Buoy

    Don't tell anybody? But I fucking love this.



    UPDATE: It seems there has been a dreadful misunderstanding.

    Friday, September 01, 2006

    Friday Catblogging with the Cat Who Will Never Be Ready for Her Close-Up

    I wanted to snap one of the other cat, the diabetic cat, but there's a storm on (imagine that!) and he hides under the bed when that happens.

    It's too bad; he's much more camera-friendly, whereas Sally here has declared the camera a foul implement of the patriarchy. If she ever finds out where it's kept, she will destroy it; then shall vengeance be hers. Check her grim visage and dispute that, I dare you.


    UPDATE: Aw, he came out from under the bed after all.

    Disaster!


    Say, remember this?

    Well, that nasty business, with the water pouring out of the sky every single afternoon, evening, and night, until I swore to move to the Gulf Coast where it was bound to be drier, because you know how I am about the humidity--that nasty business never stopped. No, not once.

    If you doubt me, I can introduce you to the newest residents of that arroyo pictured at left: The DUCKS. All night long you can hear them quack-quack-quack, except for that one night when we heard a coyote howling instead. For some reason the ducks were awful quiet that night. But I mean, ducks. Ducks in the arroyo. Swimming and everything. What in the damn.

    So the rain never stopped; I just quit complaining about it, because two days after I posted that picture, I read in the local paper that we were actually having a drought. "Hmm," I said to myself, "I think rain is supposed to be good for droughts. I'd better shut up with all my complaining about the raining."

    I learn now, however, that we are officially out of a drought and into a Federal disaster:

    The head of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) today announced that federal disaster aid has been made available for the State of New Mexico to help people and communities recover from the effects of severe storms and flooding beginning on July 26, 2006, and continuing.

    And of course tomorrow's forecast is for a 50% chance of heavy rain all day long followed by a 50% chance of heavy rain all NIGHT long, followed by a 60% chance of hey-we're-not-kidding-about-the-rain forecast for Sunday.

    This state, man, this state just can't win.