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identity | politics
link : thoughts (1) : track it (2) : in feministy stuff
I'm struggling with the idea of this week's We Have Brains question: What does it mean to be queer and a feminist?.
I tend to ask questions when I'm not certain how to answer them, rather than because I have something specific to say. So. I've been contemplating this germ for a few days. This is what I think.
I think it's about identity.
That's the intersection.
but wait! there's more »
Some time ago VASpider talked about the danger e-prime poses to thinking about sexual identity and reminded me of something I find frustrating about queer politics. It's this idea that fluidity and choice are problematic. Rather than fighting the [perhaps more difficult] battle of sexuality using the rhetoric of religious freedom and choice, the gay movement chose early on (ca. 1970) to take the stand that sexual preference was a fast, immutable truth. Blame it on genes or blame it on experience; you like what you like and you can like none other.
My personal feelings [something to the effect of "Balderdash!"] aside, this perspective is more than just a tool for defending queer rights. It's a community-builder. It fixes sexual preference in your identity, if you accept it. It creates the idea of sexuality as apart from sexual preference.
[A sidebar to explain that idea and the use of some terms here... Sex is your biological determination: male, female, other. Gender is your expression of sex. Sexual preference is who you desire. Sexuality is what you identify as, and is defined by some in terms of sexual preference, by others in terms of sexual preference combined with gender. This usage may or may not be current, but it's what I learned a few years ago when I last formally studied the subject. So. Moving on.]
Early generation feminists talked about gender as if it and sex were inseparable. Not surprising - the prevailing idea had for some time been that certain aspects of one's character were fixed simply by the fact of one's sex. Women were, by nature, more caring, giving and practical. The liberal majority of early feminists didn't challenge this assumption of sex; quite the contrary - they used it to support the idea of women voting. What they argued, rather, was that the qualities of a womanly nature were a valuable political and social counterpoint to abstracted, warlike masculinity.
If you look at modern "women against war" types of political gambits and the predominance of domestic issues amongst "women's issues", you see echoes of the Victorian New Woman (though of course, feminism has been exploring the possibilities of gender disconnected from sex even in the Victorian context). I see certain parallels between this holdover and the idea of sexuality as fixed. [And I took this long just to say that?]
Kerri made some interesting points about fluidity in today's response to the WHB question. But what both of us miss in our reading of gender and sexuality as fluid is the value of defining an identity and belonging, particularly in the context of a minority group.
So. I tried to think historically about this. While contemporary feminists fight the stereotype of feminist as man-hating dyke, that stereotype made live had some use a generation ago. Being a lesbian feminist in my mother's youth wasn't about qualifiers ["lesbian", "feminist", "white"], but about radicalism. It was in one sense a complete rejection of Woman [as subserviant, homemaker, childbearer, sex object], and in another sense a full-on embrace of the same qualities expressed by the New Woman a century prior: strength, practicality, softness, peace. It was, most importantly, a whole set of beliefs, an agenda, a lifestyle - all of which could be adopted as a symbol of one's rejection of the mainstream and acceptance of the group.
And this is what I realized: one of the most important things you can do when you become aware of your position in society as "other" is to claim the right to define your own identity. This is why I am gay, I am black, I am one righteous cuntwhore, etc. are such important statements - because they're indicative of your very right to make them.
Given that, what is a queer feminist? I think this. To be both feminist and queer is to share your identity with both camps. Not that they're exclusive or contradictory - simply that there is meaning in claiming both identities.
Personally, I don't feel I could be one without the other. Both are, to me, at core simply about permitting all choices for all people.
« get it out of my sight!
link : thoughts (1) : track it (0) : in generally political stuff
Here's the thing.
I'm a leftist, yes. But I am not always anti-war. In fact, I wouldn't even say I'm ever anti-war, because that statement implies that I think war is just a bad thing, period.
And I don't think that. I think war can reap political and economic benefits. I know the legitimate threat of war can solidify someone's commitment to diplomacy.
I have to say that I'm a little angered by certain perspectives that assume that women are inherently anti-war. Here's why: the assumption that I'm anti-war because I'm female presumes one of two things. Either I am female and therefore grander, softer, less warlike - or I am female and therefore a victim and not a perpetrator. The latter is, in part, true. Women are still more likely to be non-combatants, to be innocent bystanders. But, active participant or no, both men and women are killed in war (more men than women, commonly). People are the victims of war.
Maybe a government by women would be less warlike. Maybe we're actually soft, fur-lined pouches. I don't think so.
In any case, I'm simply ambivalent about going to war. I thought bombing Afghanistan wasn't necessarily the appropriate retaliatory act, but that at least it might benefit the Afghani people (that remains to be seen). With Iraq, I suspect some mode of violence will ultimately be called for. I think that action could have some benefits, even as it further destabilizes the Middle East.
What I don't support is unilateral action in a global environment. I find it uniquely frustrating that conservatives - pundits and individuals alike - assume that calling for cooperation with, say, the U.N. is a stall tactic. It's just the proper way to behave on the playground.
Ah, but you don't get to be a pundit by playing well with others.
raising your voice
link : thoughts (1) : track it (0) : in generally political stuff
Kerri asked via comments the other day what I thought people could do to make their opinions heard.
Here are some of those ways.
Track your congressperson's voting record. It's readily available online for the US Congress and for most other democratically elected officers in the US and elsewhere.
Join citizens' action groups related to your primary political interests. I keep up to date on events via FAIR (Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting), Citizen Works (Green Party), NOW & Feminist.org (Feminist Majority Foundation), and Planned Parenthood. Most political groups have websites and mailing lists you can join without even joining the organization.
Get your news from at least two different sources in at least two different media. I use CNN, NPR, and the Guardian. And, of course, Lisa's We Have Brains news posts. Plus the Daily Show and The Onion (hey, news can be funny!).
Read books. Read lots and lots of books. Magazines, too. And blogs. Never stop researching and reconsidering.
Ask stupid [and not so stupid] questions.
Hold your government accountable
Vote. In every election. Your vote is your most obvious opinion.
Write letters. Email letters. Call people. Not only your congressperson, but any other elected official and any company whose products you consume. Tell them when they're doing well or poorly on a specific issue. Remember that you're their customer, and remind them of that fact.
Join a letter-writing collective like Progressive Secretary. Get friends to join. This amplifies the power of your voice by delivering the same message from several different people.
If you feel strongly about something, go to protests, conferences, and demonstrations. If you can't take the time, send money to the organizers so someone else can go in your place.
Become a dues-paying member of the organizations you most strongly agree with. That increases their clout as political action groups - the more people they count as members, the more power they possess.
Buy products from companies that support your political views. There's a host of information on the internet about companies' social and political contributions that you can use to feed your shopping habits.
Share your opinion locally
Start a blog. Start a zine. Start a book group. Join a group. Start something that you share with other people. It will promote discussion, allow you to develop your opinions, and potentially convert others to seeing things your way.
Don't hesitate. Yes, there are some situations in which expressing a political opinion is inappropriate (mid-meeting at work, for instance), but don't be afraid to tackle political subjects when the occasion arises with friends, family, even vague acquaintances.
Wear your opinion. T-shirts, bumperstickers, and buttons are obvious signs of your affiliations.
Honestly listen to people. Don't just wait to tell your opinion - hear what others have to say, too. It's surprising sometimes how much people actually agree when they think they're disagreeing.
Got other suggestions? Post them in the comments. That's a means of sharing your opinion, too.
healthy weight week
link : thoughts (0) : track it (0) : in fat & health stuff
I didn't know it was Healthy Weight Week until I read it on Tish's blog. But there it is!
It turns out I'm already quite well prepared for the week. We just bought a load of healthy groceries to get us through next week (admittedly less because we were thinking "healthy" than because we were thinking "too poor to eat out" - probably from the sushi we ate last week). And I'm registering for some dance classes via the local parks and recreation service.
I'm also doing some other things on a mental health note that aren't quite worth mentioning, but are helping me get motivated to get over a sticky spot (it's semi-work-related, thus exclusion from blog).
In any case, I urge you all to go out and do something good for yourself this week. Something as simple as walking around the mall.
women and the state
link : thoughts (2) : track it (1) : in generally political stuff
Kerri's question to the world at large this week: Do women benefit or suffer from the State?
I think a lot of the way this question can be answered depends on how one defines and views the concept of State. How do I define it?
- A nation with non-physical boundaries
- A collective government (cooperative or authoritarian) that defines rules and priorities for that nation
Given this [possibly oversimplified] definition, I tend to believe that people in general benefit from the existence of a state. Why? This may be cynical, but I think people tend towards territorialism and aggression in the absence of limits and structure. My vision of a world without nations is one in which civil war becomes the order of the day. Shifting that aggression to a national level, and placing the decisions of territory into (generally) the hands of more than one person is, in my belief, better for the daily survival and productivity of the individuals who make up a nation.
You might disagree. You might think that the idea of nation creates territoriality on its own, and that people are inherently peaceful. I just don't feel that either history or individual interaction bears out that theory.
Collective government sets up a "state" (in the sense of governors) apart from and accountable to the people. Even the most authoritarian states must ultimately have the approval of the governed in order to govern. This approval can be achieved with fear, but in most modern states, it's achieved by a combination of acculturation and exchange. We accept government because we're taught to, because it delivers tangible benefits, and perhaps simply because we need and want it.
Are women served by the tangible benefits of government? Yes. And no. Women benefit from welfare systems, public education and health provisions, and a range of other state-sponsored programs that vary from nation to nation. Women may also suffer when the collective voice of women is overwhelmed by other voices, making the state less accountable to us - for instance, when pharmaceutical companies use campaign funding and lobbying to speak louder to legislators than individual women do (thereby allowing potentially dangerous products to remain on the market longer).
I think the way to ensure the state remains accountable to everyone is to continue to demand accountability. In a republic, this is best achieved by making your voice louder by joining others - not by eschewing your voice as is common in America. The modern Western state requires active citizenship, and I think a lot of the failures of our state to support its people are due in large part to our own passivity.
the beauty issue
link : thoughts (2) : track it (0) : in feministy stuff
I read in some book (I think in "Unbearable Weight", but this is the disadvantage to reading three books at a time) that the idea of beauty and fashion as self-inflicted feminine torment or delight originated in the seventeenth century. The root of the idea is that women are slight of mind and corporeal and therefore vulnerable to such trivial concerns - it's part of the whole "weaker sex" concept.
Considered in that light, fashion, even modern fashion, doesn't seem quite so innocuous. It sounds as if we, as women, are still blamed for the excess of time and money spent in pursuit of fashion. I don't mean only the pursuit of a "perfect" body - but rather, the amount we spend on the products and processes that constitute a merely acceptable, presentable female appearance.
This is some of the time and money I spend each year so that I may go to work in the corporate world:
1. Daily shower and hair wash: 62 hours
2. Daily hair grooming, just enough to look "smart": 41 hours
3. Hair products to facilitate 1 and 2: $300
4. Skin care & make up application, just enough to look "smart": 25 hours
5. Skin and make up products to protect face from office air while looking clean and flawless: $500
8. Hair cuts and sandal-season pedicures: $750
7. Enough clothing to ensure no obvious repetitions in two weeks, all seasons: $900-1200
These are all activities in addition to the standard grooming activities expected of a man (shaving, showering, teeth and hair brushing), and includes none of the purely frivolous beauty expenses in which I occasionally indulge. And I'm not even particularly "high-maintenance" (though women will note from the dollar amounts that I spend more than absolutely necessary on some products).
Thing is. If I did not spend this time and most of this money, I would be seen as less capable, less concerned about my work (and myself), less promotable and less employable. I would make less money. That's the nature of the corporate, mainstream, work world. The arena in which men and women are generally able to make the most secure money, and the arena in which men's earnings are still 25% higher than women's.
In other words. The beauty issue, often dismissed as only appearance-focused, is damned well an economic issue, too. And it's not something women inflict on ourselves. Reduced to a simple form, it's a cultural and economic demand placed upon women (and certain men) by society at large (which is, of course, made up of both men and women).
[I should add, by the way, that this is far from my most well-thought-out argument - even when edited, it's quite reductive, partially because it's primarily a response to a couple of books. Given my empirical knowledge of women who dislike the perceived requirement that a woman follow certain grooming routines in order to do something basic like go to work, I do disagree with the idea that feminine grooming is biological and not social.
In any case, upon re-reading, I realize that this post failed to convey its point, namely: while "serious" feminists have a tendency to reject the idea of beauty and fashion as frivolous, the elements that go into a "professional" feminine appearance do result in significant economic ramifications for many women.
Now, stop talking about this one. I'll say something more articulate on this subject later.]
link : thoughts (2) : track it (0) : in artsy stuff
I felt a need to answer, from an artistic perspective, a post I happened to run across about the needlessness of perfection. I disagree with the notion of perfection as focused on the "little things"; I think that's a small definiton of perfection.
That small definition of perfect relates to what I find so bad about so much theatre. Realistic theatre is often, in fact, so much about the small details of things (relationships, particularly) that failing in any detail means complete failure. If your play is an old man and his daughter on a park bench having a normal conversation while the actors move like normal people, the minutiae of their relationship had better be not only perfect but compellingly so if your goal is for me not to be snoring.
Ah, that was a complete sidebar. I hate the sort of theatre that is actually about realistic detail.
What I mean to say is that the effort of perfection is a key element of artistic endeavor. Art is shallow without it. But the artist's definition of perfect is not as simple as "the little things". It's the totality of the thing, the art product. The great finality of your effort.
It's pursuit. It's struggle and effort. When an artist strives for perfection (which is, most likely, unattainable), her work (the idea) keeps moving after the final product. Great art gives you the feeling, as the audience, that it's still moving forward as you watch it. Getting that impression from a static medium is astounding; getting it from theatre or dance is what gives those arts transformative power.
In seeing the pursuit, you see the work of the thing. You see the art behind art.
I tend to generalize this to life. Dedication to the effort is what makes it worthwhile. Like the idea of flow - changing yourself by pushing at the limits. It's hokey, but it's still valid. And that's the larger definition of perfect.
[Link from Provenance Unknown via Nonsense Verse via Blogsisters. All highly recommended.]
weirdest email ever
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I rarely post anything completely trivial (ah, shut up if you disagree). But I just had to share this crazy email.
It purports to be from the son of a dead Congolese dictator. Is this the new generation of spam? African despots?
In any case, I was amused, and slightly saddened. Read on, if you dare, to see the body of the email.
but wait! there's more »
From: john seko
Subject: help me
I know this proposal might come to you as a surprise.
My knowing you is an ark of God. I was convinced to
solicit for your assistance after going through your
I am John Sese-seko, the son of the former president
of Zaire now Democratic Republic of Congo former
president of Zaire now Democratic Republic of
Congo(President Mobutu Sese-Seko) my father was
violently overthrown from the Office on May 13,1998 by
forces loyal to rebel leader LAURENT KABILA
Following the overthrown which forced my father into
exile to Morocco in North Africa where he later died.
With the overthrown, and the unfortunate death of my
father, the Joseph Kabila's Government seized all my
father's Bank Account and family business invested in
some African Countries and that has rendered the
I was arrested and detained when Joseph Kabila
discovered that I am the son who is signatory to
President Mobutu's account in switzerland.
I was smuggled out of detention with the help of my
close friends who are now serving under President
Joseph Kabila. I escaped from the Country through the
Congo river with the help of fishermen.
I am now residing temporarily in Lome-Togo. Now that
Kabila has died. He was assassinated on January 16th
2001, his son (Joseph Kabila) has taken over the
Government. The state of the Government is still in
Recently, our family house in Switzerland was
auctioned by Kabila Government and the proceed was
repatriated to the same Government.
With this development, my family has empowered me to
seek for any honest and God fearing individual who
will assist in transferring the huge amount of US$45
million to a less tax account overseas. This fund was
deposited as a GOLD DUST with a private Security
Company in Lome-Togo one of the African Countries .
This money is part of the fund set aside by my father
to succed himself in the Government.
Please, I hereby kindly solicit to you to come to
Lome-Togo, West Africa, where we will hold a meeting
and proceed to the Security Company where you will see
the money yourself and you assist to negotiate for the
transfer of the fund into your overseas Bank Account,
this transaction will not take more than 2-3days from
The family has resolve that 25% will be your share for
your kind assistance and 5%will be mapped out to pay
local and International expenses which may be incurred
in the process of securing this money while 70% is for
the family Financial needs and for investment overseas
with your comprehenssive advice.
Upon receipt of your favourable response, I will
advice the Security Company to change the Beneficiary
right to your name for easy transfer of the into your
Your account overseas.
Please, be informed that There is no risk attached to
this transaction. Feel free to ask any question and
seek for explanations if required.You can contact me
through my private alternative email
My best regards,
« get it out of my sight!
invest in healthcare companies
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Because I just realized that my yearly raise (small, based on me not having worked long at my company) combined with increased health insurance premiums means that I'll make less this year than I did last year.
And unlike car and house insurance, which allow you to choose to be more or less insured (say, my old car is only insured for anything it runs into), in most situations you can either choose to be insured or not. Take whatever the cost is, or take nothing - no exceptions if you only go to the doctor once a year.
I know that the healthcare companies in which my old mutual fund invested some of my contributions are the only ones from that fund posting anything vaguely resembling profits, but I'm still peeved.
So now I understand why my small company changed insurance providers every year - we always got new customer discounts, so I never paid anything out of pocket for the privilege of being insured. Now I'm paying stupid money for myself and my partner, and he doesn't even use his health insurance. We should have kept him on his cheaper, less comprehensive coverage. It was stupid to think big company provided health insurance would be a good idea.
[Of course, I have to add - later, feeling less miffed - that I make perfectly fine money to begin with, and that things could be much worse.
I mean, I could be poor. I could be working three minimum wage jobs (same thing, right?) Or I could have had ten percent of my salary taken away and converted to "incentive" pay.
Also, I saw a woman wearing cow-printed fleece booties at the office yesterday evening.]
dessert is back
link : thoughts (2) : track it (0) : in food
I've seen three different pizza companies advertising three different free desserts with your pizza since coming home tonight. [We keep the television on during most of our waking hours - being of that generation of latchkey kids who did homework in front of the television, we're more productive at other tasks with noise and color in the background.] And it's only 7:30!
Most fast food and takeout places have always offered some form of dessert, but the fact that the pizza places are eagerly inventing new desserts and advertising them loudly (as part of the pizza wars, I suppose) indicates a rekindled enthusiasm for the dessert experience.
I heartily approve. I don't exactly approve of the cinnamon pizza, but I like the idea of dessert - of eating fully for the pleasure of eating and extending the time you spend in your dinner partner(s)'s company. It's a sign of a healthy attitude towards food - neither as the enemy or the savior, simply as something to enjoy.
It's a good thing I renounced my fatness in that last entry. I mean, a fat person admitting to liking dessert? Appalling! A sure sign that I'm a crazed eating machine.
the new a-prime
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I'm starting a new language. I'll call it a-prime. You can use it with e-prime if you like. The two languages are quite complementary (and hey, by using both, you could be simultaneously communicating in three languages).
a-prime will abolish the use of the words "they" and "we". It's increasingly becoming a word that angers me. There's little room in "they" or "we" for dissent. It's the most convenient way to lump individuals, with individual opinions, into one dismissable or laudable group.
This morning I read a comment that Kell posted on the We Have Brains topic for the week. It was an eloquent comment that demanded respect for people who don't want to see porn or any aspect of the sex industry. But it had one tragic flaw - the continual use of the word "they" to refer to anyone who supported porn, as if all persons who consume porn or work in the sex industry have one, single platform. And all of those people, of course, are all about in-your-face comments designed exclusively to anger those who disagree. It was, suffice to say, a comment that has put me temporarily off reading a blogger whose writing generally excites me.
There is no one "we" of pro-sex feminists. No one feminism, no one fat accceptance movement, no one queer movement, and no one "pro-porn camp". There are individual voices that might unite in one message but do not share one overwhelming agenda.
If belonging to any of these groups requires me to accept these "we's" and "they's" people love to toss around, I'll renounce them all here and now: I am not fat, I am not a feminist, I am not queer, and I am not anyone's "they" or "we". I am one person with a set of opinions that may or may not coincide with yours.
education and elitism
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Last night on Inside the Actor's Studio, Kathy Bates rather randomly got all angry about congressfolk calling PBS elitist.
I really like Kathy Bates. I mean, her movies are mostly those "real emotion" chick flicks that I mostly hate, but I just plain like her. She's neat.
Still. I think PBS is elitist. Public broadcasting and public radio depend so greatly on their audiences that they have to cater to the Maslovian idea of art as a privilege of the privileged (or at least, the comfortable).
It's like regional theatre, which is primarily supported by donors and season ticket holders - not by the ticket-buying public. So, regional theaters treat the art they produce as part of an event, the discriminating palate's dinner and a movie. This is why regional theatres do so well in restaurant districts (or, better yet, by having a stylish and expensive restaurant on the premises). Regional theaters sell what they can.
It sounds like treason against art, but it's just how things are. They do what they can to stay afloat another day. They play A Tuna Christmas in hopes that it'll make enough money to fund something more real. And sometimes, they lose sight of real in endless loops of Tuna Christmases, because real is so far away and it costs so much just to make it through a season.
I didn't understand this when I worked at a regional theater. Now I do, and it breaks my heart.
Public broadcasting networks are in the same situation. They must sell their product as part of a rarefied experience in order to make it seem worthwhile, to make donating seem worthwhile. I find this even sadder than the current regional theatre situation in this country - because PBS isn't selling entertainment masked as High Art; PBS sells education. And in selling it thus, subtly sends the message that eduction is only for the comfortable, the wealthy.
Then again, I'm not sure anyone actually benefits from the education public broadcasting can offer. Not in its current state, at least. Its earlier, more heavily state-sponsored (in the era of Reagan and Bush The First, no less) incarnation was quite another animal.
And television and radio are government subsidized. Subsidized, but not for educational purposes. They're subsidized in the form of FCC controls, meaning that there can be no such thing as true independent television or radio. You can't buy a camera and decide you'd like to produce guerilla television, except in the narrow confines of the local public access station.
All of this, to me, points to a need for more state-sponsored art and education. Of course, it will never happen in an America so fixated on independence. But it sure seems to work well for all the American experimental theatre artists who took real theatre to France.
the sex industry
link : thoughts (1) : track it (0) : in sexually liberated stuff
This week on We Have Brains, we finally sit down and talk about that oft-discussed feminist topic: the Sex Industry.
[It's so much fun to capitalize, isn't it? Makes it seem like That Horrible Industry That Might Devour Us Whole.]
I unloaded some of my random thoughts on pornography/erotica a few weeks ago. So as not to bore those of you playing the home game, I'd suggest you read them: here (if you're interested). Suffice to say - I see no reason why women shouldn't actively participate in porn. Creating and consuming, both. So, why aren't I doing more of either? Quite honestly, I'm one repressed chica. I hardly even talk big when it comes to things sexual. But I am working on it.
I'll also add to my previous comments, that I believe the only difference between "porn", "erotica" and "erotic art" is taste. Many people may disagree. Here, on this blog, they're all wrong, and I'm right. If it titillates you, call it whatever you want. It's all the same to me. Well, that's not entirely true - I've seen some sexy art that actually challenges the psyche enough to meet my definition of art - but it's rare as hell.
So. Given that. Pornographers are entertainers. In my book, that's equivalent to being Disney, or the guys who make Grand Theft Auto. Entertainment is a vehicle for release - of whatever in you needs releasing. Entertainment is okay. Television is okay! Porn is okay! All of these things can, at times, cross lines for different people, can turn offensive. Different people have different lines. Ergo, no one line can be drawn culturally (much as I'd like to draw my own and line people up on either side of it).
What I'm trying to say is - porn is no more dangerous to the psyche than any other form of entertainment. Any form of fun can turn dirty, but that does not justify keeping people away from it via legislation or cultural stigma.
Okay. Porn topic over. For now.
Let's talk about sex workers. I have yet to meet even one sex worker who feels degraded and exploited by her work. Whether they be phone sex operators, prostitutes, or strippers, every woman I've met who represents some aspect of the sex industry has chosen her career and largely enjoys it. Now, admittedly the sex workers I've met have all been American, and that makes a big difference.
But I will not sit by and allow other people to declare these women's voices null because they don't fit some sort of stereotype of the victimized woman forced into a life of degrading sex. We cannot ignore the viewpoints of the people who are actually doing the work we theorize about while we theorize about their work. [Dr. Seuss would be so pleased with that sentence.] That's just plain patronizing - and more importantly, it leaves out one of the most valuable perspectives on the discussion - it's like talking about the "Woman Problem" in 1910 without talking to a woman.
So, what have I heard from these sex workers? This. Sex is fucking empowering! Why do you think fat folk are so keen to prove their sexiness? Because they know that being sexual is a source of power and satisfaction. Sex can be deeply spiritual - and I don't just mean the high you get from sex with someone you rilly rilly luv - sex is one of the most basic human desires, and sex work in all its forms can tap into a certain primal male/female identity for some people. And hey, if you add the often very nice money you make while doing it - well, that's a pretty good case for sex work.
That's not to say that there are no sex workers who feel they've been exploited. Simply that it's not fair to assume they all are when that isn't their experience of their own situation. That robs people of self-determination. That is, in my book, anti-feminist. Just as it would be for me to assume that the handful of strippers I know represent all strippers ever.
When we talk about The Sex Industry without talking to the people who are the industry, we continue to marginalize that work. We fail to understand its appeal. We guess. And we gloss over critical issues like the need for healthcare and other benefits for sex workers. In short, we make ourselves stupid and narrow-minded.
a television show i'd like to see
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A half-hour variety show hosted by John Goodman and featuring a variety of differently sized people as weekly guests and cast members. With cute, round funky dancers. The Phat Girls, perhaps?
We could call it "John Goodman's Bootay". Lots of advertising potential - "Spend your Friday Night with John Goodman's Bootay"; "Have you seen John Goodman's Bootay?"; "Get naked with John Goodman's Bootay".
It would have both the utterly bizarre ironic quality of the Daily Show and the bonus of regular-sized people on television.
Hey, I'd watch it.
link : thoughts (0) : track it (0) : in feministy stuff
My perspective on football is, at best, shallow. I watch football occasionally because I feel like I have to be aware of things like the Super Bowl commercials - so I can go into work that Monday and follow conversations.
Of course, I don't have to watch football. But I do occasionally, for other people. Family, mainly. I read while they watch, glance up now and then for a snide remark (even more fun this year, as my company sponsored a bowl game and I got to be all patriotic about that).
But, Roni's post on We Have Brains last week reminded me of one of the things that bother me, as a feminist, about sports. More specifically - about gym class. I wonder if the reason I don't care that much about many sports is that I've never really played them. Even basketball and volleyball. My sex-segregated gym classes (last experienced many years ago in middle school) gave us different rules than the boys learned, different rules than we might see played on television.
Only baseball, which I actually experienced for myself by playing and by going to live games, seems like lots of fun to me.
I suppose that helps to keep sports a primarily male arena - it's a "male bonding" thing, right? That'd be perfectly fine. But I don't know - few of the men I know choose to bond over sports of any form, and I mostly saw my dad enjoying the games on his own or with me.
So I guess my answer to this question is - as a feminist, but mostly as a person who doesn't dig the sporting events - I think of sports-watching as a community-building event. It's something I do for family or friends, not for myself. But it's not something I think is inherently anti-woman.
seven ten seven
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I did it. I'm not finished with it yet (not close, even), but I have at least the skeleton of my new design domain up and functional.
Seven Ten Seven Design
Criticism is welcome.
good on the tv
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Check it out: Jennifer Weiner's "Good in Bed" is going to be a sitcom. That's one darn cute book. We already know I liked it.
And, while I know a lot of people would say a woman who wears a size 16 is normal (eh, they're probably right), it will still be a huge step to have a woman starring in a sitcom who is larger than sitcom size. That's probably why I find that goofy Sara Rue so cute - sure, she's not really fat - but she's television fat, so she's a stand-in for the rest of us.
Point is. Rather than get into the exhausting debate of how fat is enough (shining counterpart to the usual "how fat is too much" argument that it is), it's okay to celebrate the idea of showing a woman who isn't television thin becoming happy with her body in the most normal medium of them all - the situation comedy.
I, for one, am thrilled.
[Link via Big Fat Blog.]
2002 in review
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I haven't posted anything in several days because I had to sit and
think about the year that just ended. Oh, absolutely.
Well, not really.
But, hey - the guys (plus girl sitemaster) of a certain local band are doing
this year-in-review thing, so I shall, too.
So. A list of things about 2002.
but wait! there's more »
Source of greatest ambivalence: My car. This morning the door
froze shut, then froze open. Damned car. I want a new one. And yet, the
car has performed amazingly well for ten years, and it still runs
great. I'm torn. We've had this relationship all year. Nevertheless, I'm buying a new one, probably in February.
Best CD's I've bought (in no order, despite numbers):
1. Neko Case's Furnace Room Lullaby. Actually released
in 2000, but I bought it this year in a Neko Case completist frenzy. I love this album. 'Set Out Running' utterly captures the feeling of heartbreak for me.
2. Badly Drawn Boy's soundtrack to About A Boy.
The nice thing about BDB is he allows you to indulge your fondness for Brit synth-pop while simultaneously lending you an itty bit of indie cred. In any case, this album oozes grief, but maintains a melodic singalong quality. Go figure.
3. Elvis Costello's When I Was Cruel. So much has been said about this album this year. I'll simply add this: Elvis Costello will always be cool. This album proves it.
4. The Indigo Girl's Become You. I could just love
this one because their last few years' releases have set such low expectations. By far their gayest record to date, it's also a nice retreat to their folksy style. None of their traditionally obscure lyrics and metaphors here, though - it's all about the lurve. Enjoy it on road trips, sing loud, don't pay too much attention to the lyrics.
Some other really good records that I didn't buy, but enjoy
borrowing from my boyfriend:
1. The very cute debut album from All Girl Summer Fun Band. I've made up so many silly dances to that album in the car. You don't even know.
2. Liz Elmore's new album with The Reputation. Grad school sucks. People suck. Liz writes excellent songs, though.
3. Caitlin Cary's While You Weren't Looking. I can't believe she wrote that silly "Pony" song, but the rest of this album is damn fine.
4. Kenny Roby's Rather Not Know. Kenny is, I swear, one of the best songwriters of this generation.
Books that changed my life:
1. Bodies Out of Bounds. So, I read this in 2003, but I bought it in 2002. It's probably the most intelligent book about fatness that I've read. The academic-style essays point out the transgressive nature of being fat in America and emboldens my fatness.
2. Money Makes the World Go Round. This one created a massive shift in my perspective on globalization. I started out fairly anti-global, but for wrong, misinformed reasons. This book prompted me to think much more about the ripple effect of my choices, but also made me much more ambivalent about the global economy.
3. Killing Monsters. Totally refigured the way I thought about violence in entertainment. If, that is, I really thought about it to begin with. It's a great book about the usefulness of violence in play and children's development. Plus, he has the cutest way of talking about "Goth" - so funny.
4. Ahab's Wife. Don't laugh. This is the first "Oprah's Book Club" book I read, and while not as good as Naslund's short fiction, it's excellent. I credit this book with my shifting perspective on fiction, and on Oprah. The simple fact that a book is written by a woman, or is emotional, does not preclude it being literature. And Oprah has brought literature to the masses. I am the masses.
5. Jane Sexes It Up. This collection of young feminists' essays on sexuality and desire precipitated half a year of gradual change in my sex life and my perspective on sex. You'll doubtless hear more from me on this subject in the future.
Some other books that were just really, really good:
There were a lot more than this, but it's a start.
1. Goodbye Tsugumi. Classically good Banana Yoshimoto.
2. Losing It. Didn't teach me much, but it's convincingly written and should be mandatory for anyone who isn't aware of the negative impact of dieting.
3. Shadow of the Hegemon. I couldn't help thinking "Aw, little Orson is growing up" as I read this one. He remains a sweet, idealistic writer, but this book showed him struggling with some concepts, and I like that.
4. The Poisonwood Bible. I finally got around to reading this one in 2002. I'm impressed at Kingsolver's ability to maintain her characteristic lyricism on a book of this scale. It merits a breathy Dar Williams-esque "brilliant, brilliant".
Most useful and/or exciting non-book, non-music things on which I spent my dollars:
1. A handful of belly dance videos.
2. My first dress from Torrid.com. A whole store dedicated to overpriced clothing for punkrock fat girls.
3. A goth "prom" dress. Hey, everyone needs one.
4. Black mary janes with pink kitties on the toes. I saved up for those shoes.
Best art experience:
Hands down, the Humana Festival. It was extraordinary.
Worst town I spent more than an hour in:
San Antonio, Texas. It's a cheesy tourist armpit. And very hot, even in October.
Nicest surprise while travelling:
1. This hole-in-the-wall hippy mediterranean restaurant in Austin. The belly dancer was sleazy, but the food was great - and it introduced me to the wonders of pomegranate juice.
2. Louisville, Kentucky is home to possibly the greatest record store ever. Certainly the best indepent record store I've ever seen.
Possibly worst decision I made:
A volunteer job I'm still somewhat regretting.
There you have it. All the silliness that was 2002. Bring on 2003.
« get it out of my sight!
i buy yet another domain
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Today, while the boy was off in a crazy small town, I built a whole new site. It's not live yet, but it will be soon.
It's the next iteration of my design site. There's more to be done (of course), but I'll tell you where to find it soon.
what are you doing new year's, new year's eve
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Next year I think we'll do new year's eve old school. You know, with idiot drunks on my sofa. I have no strong feelings about what one should do on new year's eve.
But this year was lovely. Basic family stuff. Only not my family. Rather odd.
I did, however, get to spend a fantastic afternoon at Little Five Points with Rev 9. For those uninformed, Little Five Points is not, as Rev and others might lead you to believe, a single beacon of funkiness in the dark of Georgia. It's more a consolidation of funky subcultures onto a couple of blocks. Those things exist elsewhere in the state, just not in concentration.
Also, Atlanta (or the north of Atlanta, which is a sprawling tangle of suburbs) has something vaguely akin to Koreatown. I forgot to tell her that.
Rev introduced me to Charis Books, which has to be one of the better independent bookshops I've seen. Now, all those book recommendations I give everyone have a great independent shop to point to, as Charis also ships. My local indie bookstore does not ship and carries many idiotic diet books. [Speaking of shipping books, if you ever want to borrow anything, I don't mind mailing books to people. Especially if it fostered some sort of land mail feminist book club.] And I've just started reading Bodies Out of Bounds, which is providing ballast at a time when I need to feel secure in my transgression as a fat person. There's something I have strong feelings about, new-year-wise: this reshaping the body thing that everyone "resolves" on. And then gives up on, in most cases. Bah. But I have ballast. Even if it is somewhat hung up on the word "discourse".
I don't know if it was the added extravert energy of being with someone new and fun, or simply the constant cycling of stores in funky areas of town, but there was much more excellent than usual shopping to be had on Tuesday. There's a store that sells masses of bellydance gear (which I fully intend to purchase in the event I've actually progressed dance-wise by the time we return for our summer visit). It was a nice reminder of how much my job, in addition to being enjoyable most times, enables all the happy bits of my life. Job good.
In any case, Rev does a spot-on and very funny summary of our lunch and shopping trip. Also, I went to the zoo on Monday. Pandas have thumbs.
Life. Is alright.