Saturday, December 06, 2008
Friday, November 28, 2008
Ah, my people. It's not that I don't love you, honestly, but you have to admit, sometimes you are a bit ridiculous. Hark unto this piece of ad copy.
EAU DE GHOUL They all started telling stories, then, of how fine and wonderful a thing it was to be a ghoul, of all the things they had crunched up and swallowed down with their powerful teeth. Impervious they were to disease or illness, said one of them. Why, it didn't matter what their dinner had died of, they could just chomp it down. They told of the places they had been, which mostly seemed to be catacombs and plague-pits ("Plague Pits is good eatin'," said the Emperor of China, and everyone agreed.) They told Bod how they had got their names and how he, in his turn, once he had become a nameless ghoul, would be named, as they had been."But I don't want to become one of you," said Bod."One way or another," said the Bishop of Bath and Wells, cheerily, "you'll become one of us. The other way is messier, involves being digested, and you're not really around very long to enjoy it.""But that's not a good thing to talk about," said the Emperor of China."Best to be a Ghoul. We're afraid of nuffink!"And all the ghouls around the coffin-wood fire howled at this statement, and growled and sang and exclaimed at how wise they were, and how mighty, and how fine it was to be scared of nothing.Dessicated skin coated in blackened ginger, cinnamon, and mold-flecked dirt, with cumin, bitter clove, leather, and dried blood.
Yep, that's what I want, a perfume that makes me smell like dirt, dead skin and...cumin? I'm so confused.
Also this company makes a scent called Glowing Vulva. Um, yeah. If this is a realistic scent I'm thinking dabbing it on your neck and wrists might not be the best plan.
Then again, let's look at this in a positive light. I might quite enjoy having a glowing vulva. Why, think of the money I'd save on lightbulbs! Next time I wanted to create atmosphere during an intimate moment I wouldn't need to get out the candles, just undress. Also, guys, just try claiming that you're unable to find the clitoris when it's GLOWING.
And then there's this.
BRIMSTONE In Hermetic alchemy, brimstone is one of the Three Heavenly Substances, one of the primary alchemical Priciples. It represents the strength of will and the vigor of passion, and it is a symbol of the process of fermentation. A smoky, gritty blend, husky and gray.
Um, isn't brimstone supposed to smell like sulphur? Mmm, sulphur, what a perfect scent for a perfume.
More mocking one's own later. I mean the Twilight movie did just come out...
Monday, November 24, 2008
So I've been having an odd issue when I lift weights recently and I'm hoping some of my lovely readers might be able to help me figure it out. Whenever I start doing bicep, tricep and chest exercises I get a wierd pain in my elbow. I mean literally in the ball and socket joint. It's only there while I'm actually doing the exercise, and it's a sharp pain that happens as I bend the joint. It tends to fade after the first set of reps, and by the third I can't feel it at all.
Could this just be a sign that I need to warm up more? Am I using weights that are too heavy? Advise me, people. It's not a sharp enough pain that I feel like I'm injuring myself but it's odd enough to make me wonder what's going on.
Tuesday, November 04, 2008
The numbers are starting to come in and it looks like Obama is in the lead. Everyone has Ohio going to Obama, and if he wins Ohio he's pretty much in. Guess the voter suppression didn't work this time, huh?
I've been staying out of the whole online debate ever since I realised that it was going to turn into a massive intra-left food fight, but I will say this. Initially I would have preferred Clinton (because of a stronger committment to feminism and more foreign policy experience), but once it was all decided, I always said I would support whichever Democrat was chosen. And I have.
Gore actually won the popular vote in 2000, but Republican cheating handed Bush the Presidency. This time it looks like even with them making every effort to suppress minority voters Obama is still going to win by a clear majority. Which tells me that the Bush govenment is so unpopular that even with all the attempts at fraud (calling Latino voters and telling them they can vote by phone ffs, how stupid do Republicans think people are?), they still can't win. Part of it is the war, of course, but I really think the collapsing economy might have played a bigger role. And I think that the banking crisis was the real nail in the Republican coffin.
So, first order of business of an Obama presidency - sort out the economy. People are hurting, and it needs to be fixed ASAP. Second, foreign policy - the Bush administration did a lot of damage to America's image overseas, and a whole lot more people hate us than did 10 years ago. Pulling out of Iraq is a necessary start, but a start is all it is. There's a lot of work to do. Even those of us who would have preferred Clinton, this is not the time to hold a grudge about that.
Everyone, it looks like we're in. Now let's all roll up our sleeves and get to work.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Hell Week, or, what happens when your beloved pet gets sick
I really have been intending to blog more lately but the last week has just been such pure hell I haven’t gotten around to it. So what happened was…
The weekend before last my cat (who shall from now on be known as CC for Cassandra’s Cat) starting acting weird. Listless, antisocial, hiding under the chair, not eating. At first I thought he was just in a bad mood but then he started throwing up. And then I figured he was trying to get rid of a hairball, but it just got worse and worse over the next few days.
Then on Tuesday night he started wailing at me ever time I walked past. It was a really weird upset sound like he only makes when he’s really in distress. So of course I started freaking out but the vet’s office was closed. I ended up staying up all night trying to see if I could make him feel better and worrying. First thing in the morning I called the vet and made an appointment, and by the time we got there CC was clearly fading fast. He could barely even stand up by that point, and he really didn’t like the vet, wouldn’t interact with her at all.
So then the vet takes a look, asks me how old he is, feels around for his internal organs, and tells me he has kidney failure and probably lymphoma throughout his intestines and we should talk about putting him to sleep. At which point of course I go “WHAT? But he was fine up until a few days ago.” So she says that we can put him on fluids and she can take X-Rays and see what happens. I very reluctantly leave CC in her care, because I do not like this woman at all. A couple of hours later I call her (note that she doesn’t bother to call me) and she says they did an X-Ray and he has a mass near his heart that she thinks is a tumor. Again she starts talking about putting him to sleep. But I press her and she says well actually the pet hospital could run some more tests and maybe we could get him chemo, though she’s still painting the direst picture possible. So I say “OK then let’s do that right away”.
So finally at about 5PM CC arrives at the proper pet hospital. At which we finally find a vet who actually seems to like cats. By this point CC is so miserable he’s hardly responding to anything and he has no strength at all. The nice vet admits him to the hospital to run more tests and is very understanding about how upset I am and promises to call me if anything changes, and with an update in the morning.
Well, after a mostly sleepless night I get a call and guess what? CC does not have a tumor, or any signs of cancer. What he has is a benign cyst (note – NOT a tumor), weakening kidneys (he’s 17) and anemia. So they treat the kidneys with a fluid drip and the anemia with an iron shot. Later that day I go to visit and he’s weak but moving around and wanting to explore. He also actually EATS when the nice vet tries to feed him – not much, but at least a bit. I leave scared and upset but a little more hopeful.
Next day nice vet calls me all happy to say that his blood count (anemia) is getting better and he’s drinking on his own and generally looking livelier. In fact he tried to bite the vet techs when they gave him a pill. She wants me to take him home and see how he does there, and she feels confident enough to release him since his kidney numbers are also improving.
Finally I get him home on Friday night and he’s SO HAPPY. Weak and a bit wobbly on his feet, but purring and happy to be home. All weekend I’ve been watching him and giving him his medicine and trying to coax him to eat. He’s still a bit weak, but he’s eating well and drinking on his own and the fluids I give him under the skin once a day are clearly helping. He’s still not a totally healthy kitty, but he’s doing better and he’s clearly happier.
The moral of this story is…don’t give up. If you love someone or something, be prepared to fight for them. Positive thinking is powerful.
And also, always ask for a second opinion, and trust your gut. If I’d listened to the first vet CC would now be dead, and he would have died lonely and scared in a strange place. I still don’t know for sure how much time he has left, but however long it is at least he’s comfortable and happy, and I’m appreciating every day I have with him.
Also I HATE the attitude American society has towards old people and old animals. As soon as vet # 1 heard how old CC is she wanted to put him to sleep, without even running any tests to see what was actually wrong with him. I really feel sorry for her elderly parents – I wouldn’t want someone with an attitude like that taking care of me when I’m old. What is wrong with this society that it doesn’t treasure its elderly? After a lifetime of caring for others we just want to throw them away?
I think I’m moving back to Europe when I get old.
Of course now I have to figure out how the hell I’m going to pay off the massive vet bill but you know what? Whatever it takes it’s worth it. There aren’t many living creatures in this life that any one of us truly love, it’s worth holding on to the few that you do.
Friday, September 26, 2008
Hey there blog friends. So, I'm at sort of a turning point career wise and I could do with some input from some smart people. And then I thought, hey, lots of smart people read my blog, why not ask them?
I'd particularly love to talk to people with any experience in print journalism. If you're willing to play career counsellor/sounding board drop me a line at cassandrasez at gmail dot com.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
I read an interesting article in Salon today. Interesting for lots of reasons – the interaction between population levels and the environment is a complex one and worth exploring – but mostly interesting in this case to see a group of experts who disagree on many things all agree on the fact that the problem can only be solved by allowing women to control their own reproductive capabilities. Which is exactly the opposite of what one side in the upcoming election wants to see happen.
Now I know that abortion is a contentious issue for American society. I don’t think it should be, because the fact that women should be allowed to control their own capacity to reproduce is so simple and obvious that anyone who doesn’t grasp it is, in my opinion, an idiot. It’s interesting to note that all the experts seem to agree that this is in fact that key to controlling world population numbers – give women education and choices and they tend to choose to limit their reproduction to the replacement rate or below.
But really it’s not abortion that’s the big issue in this debate, in my opinion. What it really comes down to is that there’s a set of people in American society, who have more and more influence in American politics, who believe that any attempts to control reproduction are morally wrong. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that most of these people are distrustful of science. Even the most cursory look at the science suggests that unchecked population growth is a disaster.
So I’m just going to come right out and say it. A generalized opposition to the idea of women controlling their own reproductive capacities is morally unacceptable. Not just for the feminist reasons, though those are obvious. Also because the world cannot sustain an indefinite number of people, and because this society in particular already consumes more than it’s fair share of the world’s resources. Anti-abortion policies are bad enough; anti-contraception policies are a crime against humanity that endangers us all.
And that, folks, is one of the biggest reasons to vote against McCain and Palin. These people aren’t just obnoxious ideologues, they’re dangerous. America already consumes more than any society in the world – more than even China, which has a population far larger than ours. For America to even contemplate not limiting its population growth is completely unethical. We have no right to allow our collective hubris to overwhelm our rationality. We need a government that understands that contraception is a good thing. Right now we don’t have that, and if McCain is elected we’ll have another one that actively opposes the idea of women controlling their reproductive capacities, which research the world over shows is the key to keeping population numbers under control.
These people are dangerous. Don’t let them win.
Friday, July 18, 2008
(I already wear purple)
I’ve been seeing more and more comments about women and appearance around feminist blogland recently (not that this is a topic that ever goes away for long) and I find myself feeling rather irked about the whole thing. This is one of those issues where I feel fundamentally out of step with most of my fellow feminists. I don’t have an instinctive distrust of the very idea of conventional beauty, as it seems many feminists do. I don’t distrust or resent women more attractive than myself. I don’t hate younger women for having tighter asses. In fact, what is it with the constant “perky boobs” references from so many feminists? Seriously, what is that about? Are they under the impression that those women in possession of such boobs have chosen to tweak their own genetic make-up in such a way as to make their boobs perky on purpose, just to spite the less perky? Why is this being used as a dismissive insult by feminists?
This is one of those moments where I bless the fact that I didn’t grow up in America or the UK. I grew up mostly in the Middle East. In all honesty I think that growing up there influenced my feminism in all kinds of ways, but one of the clearest ones is that I find this sort of constant ranking of other women in terms of their appearance and inability to empathize with those women who fall at different points in the ranking absolutely baffling.
I like looking at beautiful women. Now, admittedly this is probably in part because I am attracted to women. I think it’s more than that, though. My mother also loved looking at beautiful women and she was as straight as a ruler. Most of my mother’s friends were the same. I remember my mother’s friend Elizabeth, a gorgeous woman who looked like Natalie Wood, who I spent much of my childhood observing. As a little girl I always thought that it would be great to grow up to look like Elizabeth, but even knowing that I wouldn’t (I always wished that I could have really dark eyes like her, instead of the light brown I ended up with), I still always found her fascinating to observe simply because she was really, truly beautiful. And I wasn’t the only one. I can remember my mother’s much older friend Theresa, whose house felt almost like mine as a kid and who used to cut my hair till I was in my teens, fussing over Elizabeth, doing her hair and helping her with her make-up. It was always clear to me that she took pleasure in having young, beautiful women in her home, and that part of the reason was that she had three sons and no daughters or granddaughters. When I hit puberty, it was those two women, Elizabeth and Theresa, along with my mother, who taught me how to take pleasure in my own appearance, how to see personal adornment as a game, as something fun and creative that you did because you felt like it, and that if you didn’t feel like it on any given day you just didn’t do it. That was how I grew up, with the idea that beauty is a fun thing, something to be enjoyed, a way that women bond with each other.
I was always aware that there was another way to see things, but it seemed sort of blessedly irrelevant to me, cocooned in the warmth of my mother’s circle of friends (a circle, by the way, in which it was always clear that men were essentially peripheral – they were allowed to share part of us, but there was another part that we all reserved just for each other). That other way never really hit me full-force until I went away to school, and was confronted with just how much ugliness British and American culture is able to create out of women’s beauty, how it poisons the pleasure that we take in our own appearance and that of other women, how it teaches us to rank ourselves and hate those above us on the scale, and despise those below. And every holiday I would go running back to my mother for reassurance that things didn’t have to be that way. I would sit cuddled up in a big chair with Elizabeth’s daughter (my pretend baby sister since I never had a real one) and watch her putting on her make-up and re-learn the fact that beauty could be a game, sit at Theresa’s kitchen table and let her remind me that food is supposed to be a source of pleasure too and wish that she really was the grandmother that she felt like to me (my own paternal grandmother was a horrible, bitter, angry woman who never had anything good to say about another woman in the entire time I knew her). And then I would go back to school, and try to shut down and not take in any of the poison that was being fed to me, and deep in my heart refuse to learn to hate other women just because some of them were prettier than others, because I knew that it didn’t have to be that way.
It wasn’t until my thirties that I realized that there was a term for what I was doing, the way that I talk about women and beauty around the women that I grew up with and the women that I trust who I know now (Mr. C’s mother and his brother’s wife, a few close friends) and the different, more careful way I talk around all the other women who I don’t feel it’s safe to be honest with. The term is code-switching. Like most other people who code-switch, most of the time I do it without even being consciously aware of it, pick up subtle cues about which people I can be my real self around and which people I need to be wary with and adopt the way of speaking that is expected of me. I still think that the mainstream American way of talking about women and beauty is poisonous, and I go out of my way to avoid people who gulp down the poison and insist on feeding it to others, but really, it’s impossible to avoid completely. It’s too pervasive. All that you can really do is to observe which people are completely invested in that framework, which ones automatically rank all other women and either envy or scorn depending on that ranking, and try not to get too close to them.
It hurts me to see that poison coming from feminists, though. It hurts me no matter which target it’s being aimed at. Every time I see someone making generalized comments about “blonde bimbos” or “fuckbots” on a feminist site I lose a little more of my faith in the ability of the movement to effect any lasting social change. Every time I see the term “collaborator” being used in a way that makes it clear that the judgment being made is being based purely on the appearance of the woman being described, I wonder where it all went so horribly wrong. How can we possibly achieve anything if we don’t learn not to hate each other? How can we work together if we can’t learn that the fact that a woman doesn’t look like us doesn’t mean that she can’t be trusted? The anger that some women are treated differently by society than others based on their looks is a valid anger, but why the hell are feminists directing it at the women who happen to fit the preferred look rather than the system that insists on ranking all of us?
So, this whole thing has been bothering me. Of all the odd things to bring it back to me, it was actually a random meeting with a stranger that did it. I was on the train on my way to meet a friend for dinner and there was an older lady sitting in the seat in front of me. She wasn’t familiar with the train system and asked me how many stops there were until the place she was going (presumably because I was the only person around who looked like they might speak Spanish…which I actually don’t very well, sadly, but I do know enough to give directions so we managed). So we chatted back and forth for a while, and I was trying to explain that I was getting off at the same stop and could show her where to go, but my Spanish sucks so I wasn’t able to say it properly. So, we get to the stop and she gets up, and she doesn’t realize until we’re actually getting off the train that I’m getting off too. The she sees me and smiles and we get on the escalator together and I lead her over to the map and try to explain where she needs to go. And then I realize that I’m running late and that I have to get going, so I say goodbye and I’m trying to explain in my crappy Spanish (I understand what’s said to me a lot better than I can speak myself), and I feel bad for having to run off and not just walk her over to where she’s going, because she’s an old lady and it’s kind of a rough neighborhood if you don’t know your way around. And then she smiles and pats my cheek and says “mi nina linda, esta bien”. And you know what? That little comment made my day. Hell, my week. Because it’s been so damn long since I had to leave the warm safe little cocoon that I grew up in where women were actually nice to each other and we gave compliments just because we could. And I want to live there, and not in this alternate hell-world that is mainstream America in which older women hate younger women for their perky boobs and fat women hate thin women and thin women look down on fat women and everyone seems to hate tall skinny women just because the fashion industry loves them. And the fact that that hell-world of ranking and competition and constant sniping has infected feminism breaks my heart, because we of all people should know that hating other women because of something as random as how they look is poison, and yet I see it all the time. Why do we do this to each other? Can we please just stop?
When I’m an old woman I want to be like the older woman I met on the train. I want to be like my mother, and her friends. I refuse to hate younger women because they have perky boobs, and I refuse to participate in this system where we cut each other down based on where we fall in some stupid ranking system that’s almost totally arbitrary anyway (this season big boobs are in! next season, super straight hair!).
When I’m an old woman I’m going to randomly tell young women they’re beautiful, just to make them smile. In fact, I may just start now.
Friday, July 11, 2008
This (links to Feministe) really pissed me off. First of all, the idea of using scanners that show what essentially looks like a picture of a person’s naked body on women in a Muslim country? Culturally tone deaf at best, actively intended to provoke at worst. I commend the people who broke this story, and the reporter who allowed herself to be scanned so that people could see exactly what the scans look like. Now the question is, what can we do about it? Because forcing Iraqi women who work in the Green Zone to go through those scanners is classic colonialism at it’s worse, and it needs to stop.
Also, why do they need to save the images? Anyone have a good explanation for that? And, given that the technology exists to replace the individual’s body with a generic torso and only show security personnel non-body items that might represent a breach of security, why is that technology not being used?
To add yet another layer of fucked up, the same scanning process is also apparently being used in airports in the USA. This is an unacceptable breach of privacy in general, but it’s especially problematic for women, and for trans men and trans women who may not want potentially hostile strangers alerted to their trans status. Invasive, open to abuse, a clear overreach of government power…I’m not seeing the upside here.
So the question becomes, what can we do about it? In the case of Iraq and the Green Zone, who do we need to put pressure on to make them switch to a system that replaces the images of people’s actual bodies with generic torso images? In the case of the USA, is it possible to start a campaign to force to TSA to do the same?
I’m not kidding, people, this is a fucking outrage. If they must use these scanners (and I’m not convinced of that either, but putting that aside for a moment), why can’t they use the ones that prevent images of people’s naked bodies being shown to whoever happens to be operating the machine? And why the hell do the images need to be saved once the person has cleared security? This needs to be stopped.
Tuesday, July 08, 2008
1. I love the fact that I look younger than I actually am. I am also willing to take steps to maintain that illusion, up to a point and if and when they become necessary. Though probably not surgery, because I’m a wimp and fear pain.
2. Although I was properly Marxist in college, I have since come to the conclusion that Marxism is incompatible with human nature. People are competitive, fractious, uncooperative creatures, and attempts to impose Marxism on them always seem to end in nasty infighting and a trail of dead bodies. I’d rather people just be openly grasping and competitive – far rather a challenge to my face than a knife in my back.
3. I am not attracted to men who are even the slightest bit overweight. Most of the men I am attracted to barely make it into the “normal” range on the BMI scale, and none of them are past the middle of that range. I have nothing against fat people in a general interpersonal sense, but in terms of men and sex, the leaner the better.
4. With women I’m much more flexible on weight, but I’m only attracted to women who’re pretty femme. Not ultra-femme, but the slightest hint of butch and my libido is dead in the water. I’m also not attracted to women who don’t have fairly substantial breasts.
5. Lack of intelligence irritates me. I don’t mean lack of formal education – some of the smartest people I’ve met have had little formal education – but lack of genuine, biting intelligence is a friendship deal-breaker for me.
6. I eat lots and lots of tuna. I know that it’s bad for the environment, and that tuna (and most other big game fish) are overfished and endangered, but every damn time I go to eat sushi I order maguro and tuna sashimi. Given my choice of (barely) cooked fish I’d choose ahi every time if it wasn’t so damn expensive. I am a bad environmentalist.
7. I have no respect for ideological purity. I’m a pragmatist. If I want to get something done I’m willing to work with whoever can help me attain that goal (within some limits…rapists and child abusers I’d draw the line at). I think that the general leftist tendency to insist on ideological purity and refuse to work with people who don’t meet that standard is a big part of why we expend so much energy and end up with so little to show for it.
Anyone else want to join in? C’mon, you can tell me – what are your controversial admissions?
Friday, July 04, 2008
You know, I'm sure this is just a case of his trademark peace sign being rather unfortunately placed. He couldn't possibly be giving the universal signal for...well, you know.
The girls on LiveJournal are going to have so much fun with this picture.
Yes, I will at some point return to real blogging. Eventually. For now please continue to enjoy the pretty pictures.
Sunday, June 08, 2008
So, femminess in men. That’s a complicated one for me. I always LIKE it, but I don’t always find it sexy. Sexy up to a point, and then something in me shifts and the appreciation goes from being sexual to being purely aesthetic. Ironically the latter is actually more objectifying, in my opinion – I stop thinking of the person as someone I’d like to fuck (which after all is still very much an interactive thing) and start thinking of them as a beautiful object, like a painting. Yeah, I know, no one else thinks this way.
I’m going to take a stab at actually illustrating where the lines are drawn for me later, but it’s too late and I’m sleepy. For now, something simpler.
A couple of weeks back I interviewed a guy who got his own post last time we did Desire Week. My own response there was weird and interesting – in person I wasn’t particularly attracted to him, though I certainly would have described him as attractive. Part of that was probably being in work mode, admittedly, but still, I found it interesting that I reacted one way sitting talking to him and completely differently to watching him on stage. That ties in to another thing that I want to post about. To a certain extent sexiness is a deliberate thing – some people can turn it on and off like flicking a switch. In general this is something that women are better at (not by accident or genetics either, imo), but some men know how to do it too. And that, honestly, is what I think was going on in the case I’m talking about.
Anyway, back to femminess in men. While I was doing some research pre-interview I came across a really funny fanvideo on YouTube. Normally I find fanvids boring, but this one made me laugh. When you put a bunch of clips together…wow, he really is pretty damn girly, isn’t he? And again, I don’t find him sexy in most of these clips, but I do always have a special fondness for girly men. They make me smile. Check it out – I honestly don’t see how anyone could fail to find this guy adorable and endearing.
I really wanted to ask him about the whole crossdressing thing during the interview but I got the feeling that the American management dude would have been very much Not Amused by that.
BTW, just in case anyone doesn’t quite grasp the scope of the girliness in this case, behold! (Can’t find the original pic, this is a version that someone doctored to make it look like the cover of a woman’s magazine, but the pic itself is unaltered)
Friday, June 06, 2008
And I’m a bit slow getting started. Sorry. What can I say? It was a nice day. I went out for a walk.
Anyway, female desire. Things we crave. Things we like to look at. Men we like to look at.
Funny how taboo that still is to admit for a lot of people, that women look, that men get looked at. Personally I’m profoundly uninterested in associating with either women who won’t admit that they look or men who’re uncomfortable with being looked at. This is me, folks – I’m a sensual creature. I’m visual. I like to look.
So, men I desire. The basic characteristics have always been remarkably consistent…slender bodies with sleek muscles, smooth skin. Dark hair, dark or bright blue eyes, skin tones ranging from golden tan to ghostly pale. Pretty features. Sharp cheekbones, full lips, strong jaws. A combination of masculine and feminine elements, that’s what gets me every time.
I posted a few examples last time, but why not add some more? Let’s start with this guy, since he’s so thoroughly sexualized himself for female consumption over the years that it’s easy to find pictures of him in various states of undress and a multitude of styles. Hakuei. Lead singer, Penicillin. Face of hip Black Peace Now clothing brand. Sometime actor. 6ft, about 130 pounds, 38 years old, lean and toned and just about perfect. I love tattoos…this man has gorgeous tattoos. And an awesome natural sense of style.
I could talk about the music or the career but you know what? This is Female Desire week, so none of that matters, because I don’t desire him because of his career.
I desire him because he’s beautiful.
Much more below. Please try not to drool too much, it's not good for your keyboard.
Friday, April 18, 2008
I’ve been quietly watching the latest meltdown in the feminist blogosphere with my mouth hanging open for the last few weeks. First there was Seal Press showing everyone how not to do PR (“Hi, WOC bloggers! Pikachu, I choose you! Now let me be as patronizing as possible…hey wait, why are you mad at us? You’re so hostile!”). Then there was Amanda Marcotte showing how not to build a movement. I mean really, how hard would it be to just say “oops, sorry, I forgot to include links, I’ll go add them now”? Not to mention, you know, actually either writing in a way that demonstrates a deep knowledge of your subject or handing the task over to someone capable of doing so.
And then there was the angry, defensive meltdown with people coming in to defend the poor vulnerable white girl and everyone else rolling their eyes and going “you have to be kidding me”. And then there were a few people who actually tried to take this conversation in a productive direction – OK, so feminism as a movement is fucked up when it comes to race. We need to fix that. How do we do that?
But then there are some people who just have to make it all about them. Because heavens forbid anyone talk about the bigger picture when someone’s feelings are hurt. And then we have a white girl responding to criticism from women of color by comparing herself to Malcolm X. Seriously, you cannot make this stuff up.
So, in order to save everyone just coming into this mess the trouble of reading through 100 identical comments from Amanda explaining why no one is allowed to talk about the big issue until she feels better let me summarize. Shorter Amanda.
My only comment is this…a clever man once said that when you find yourself in a big deep hole you don’t ask for a bigger shovel, you STOP DIGGING. I can’t find a link to the actual speech, but guess what? I can still give him credit for being the smart person who came up with that idea rather than pretending it was all my idea. It was Bill Clinton, and it was during some sort of speech while he was campaigning against Bush.
See how easy that is? Even if you can’t pinpoint exactly where or when someone said something that stuck with you, you can still give them credit for influencing your ideas. Really, it’s not that hard. If I can do it so can everyone else.
My response to this whole mess…I’m not giving up the word feminist, no matter how many assholes use it too. It’s a good word and it means something, and I’ll be damned if I’ll let a bunch of racist, classist, arrogant jackasses have the movement that so many women worked so hard to build.
So, my own response to Amanda et al and the way they’re behaving right now. Since I started with a song, I’ll give you another one and let Favorite Band speak for me. Especially appropriate since the first words of the song are “shut up”, which is exactly what certain people need to do right now.
(Affectionately known as “the fuck you song”)
One final note…as well as being pissed off I’m seriously disappointed in some people over the way they’ve behaved here. Amanda, you used to be a decent writer. I used to read Pandagon all the time. You were smart and funny and interesting once. What the hell happened? Please, for the love of all that is good, rethink the direction you’re going in before the people who used to enjoy your work lose what little remaining respect they have for you. It’s never too late to wise up. And that goes for all the white bloggers currently making asses of themselves over this - all of you are smart people and all of you are capable of being better people than this. Please, be better people than this
PS I will probably come back and edit this later when I’m less sleep deprived…anything obvious that I’ve missed, anything I forgot to link, feel free to point it out and I’ll fix it. Because that’s how it’s supposed to work, people! Blogging is about communication, isn’t it? It should be.
Monday, March 31, 2008
I get concert information e-mailed to me from a number of sources (LiveNation, friends, the venues themselves, Live 105 Radio), and guess what I found recently? Ministry is doing a farewell tour. Which is great, but…um, wasn’t that what they said last time? I distinctly remember going to what was supposed to be their farewell tour a couple of years ago. And yet here they are again.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that, it’s just kind of funny. How many farewell tours are they going to do? Is this going to be like when a furniture store has a “Going Out Of Business” sale that lasts for five years? In 2010 am I going to be getting another set of “come see Ministry’s final performance!” messages?
Eh, maybe Jorgensen has kids he needs to send to college. Now there’s a scary thought.
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
OK, so there’s something that I keep running into in all corners of the blogosphere and the media, and it’s annoying me.
Personal grooming issues. Why are these any of anyone else’s business? I mean OK, if we’re talking about people who do not bathe and are thus offensive to the sensitive nasal passages of those who have to be around them then I’m right with you. But when it comes to stuff that’s purely cosmetic? I’m just not seeing why this is or should be a matter in which public opinion is relevant. Especially not public opinion that’s based on either traditional gender roles or the desire to defy them.
So here’s my story. I am generally not a fan of body hair, on either sex. I have never dated a hairy man and never will. I have been shaving my legs and armpits since I was about 11 and have no intention of stopping any time soon. Even really hairy arms turn me off. This does not mean that I feel any need to interfere in other people’s grooming habits – see post below. Unless I’m sleeping with them it’s really none of my business.
However, despite generally falling into the anti-body-hair camp the common assumption that women will remove all of their pubic hair annoys me. And don’t get me wrong – I have done so, and will probably continue to do so sometimes. I started trimming the sides as an adolescent because I practically lived in the swimming pool and didn’t much care for the sight of hair protruding from swimsuit. I started shaving everything off in my mid twenties because I was living in California and it was really hot one summer. I did it on a whim, liked the way it felt and decided to keep doing it.
I always hated the way it looked, though. I hate the way it looks in porn too – I feel the same way I do looking at bald heads. Like, something is missing and I find it aesthetically displeasing. It’s not even the political argument about it making women look childlike with me, because honestly, an adult woman with huge breast implants and a shaved groin does not look like a child. She does however look a little odd to me, and not in a way that I like.
I’ve never liked the way it looks on me either. It makes me feel sort of bald and oddly unsexy. Which interestingly enough is Mr. C’s take too – feels cool, looks weird. He shaves most of his public hair off too, mostly for tactile reasons and to feel less sweaty when it’s hot. So nobody in my immediate vicinity is exerting pressure in either direction. And politically I’m totally neutral on this issue – I don’t think it’s a political issue at all, but an aesthetic one.
And aesthetically I don’t like the way I look fully shaved. So I’m letting some if it grow back. I seem to be leaning towards the neat little triangle look, because landing strips make me think of Hitler mustaches and that’s just not sexy at all. Or the stripes that they paint on the highway – also not sexy. The way I feel with the little triangle of dark hair though? Totally sexy. Which generally leads to better sex, which is a good thing.
Note that I have no opinion one way or another about what other women do with their pubic hair unless I’m sleeping with them. It’s just not relevant to my life in any way. I am not critiquing other women’s choices or suggesting that they change what they do.
How the hell did this ever become a politicized issue in the first place? And why are we letting it stay that way? If I see one more discussion about this on a feminist website I’m going to start throwing things at the screen. And men who feel the need to opine about the pubic topiaries of women they don’t even know and what they feel would be best for them to do…STFU. Nobody cares, she’s not sleeping with you anyway, your opinion is irrelevant.
Why can’t issues of personal aesthetics be just that? Why the need to impose ones own preferences on the world at large? Can an aesthetic preference not be just an aesthetic preference?
Saturday, March 15, 2008
Meant to write about this earlier but have been in a bit of a mood this week.
So last weekend I saw a girl that made me smile, and the reason why is sort of relevant to all this body stuff. She was maybe in her early twenties and was taking a walk with her (really, really cute) puppy. Left the puppy tied up outside the coffee shop/health food store while she went in to shop. Many longing looks from puppy, where oh where has mommy gone and is she ever coming back, etc.
The part that made me smile? It was a really nice sunny day and so the girl was wearing a little cotton minidress. Kind of alterna-looking girl in general, sort of punk/rockabilly, with tattoos all over her calves. And hairy legs. In a girly mini-dress.
I sat there watching people walk past and react to this girl, saw them double-take and try to grok pretty feminine girl + hairy legs + tattoos + cute puppy. It was so much fun – people love to slot everyone into neat little categories and this girl was clearly fucking with them big time. And it was marvelous to behold.
There’s something really great about watching a woman be completely comfortable in her own skin. Maybe because you see it so rarely. Anyway, it put a smile on my face.
And the puppy, which attempted to jump into my lap and licked my toes and was generally friendly and full of energy – gah! I want one.
Interesting how cool people always manage to raise cool pets. This one was a rescue puppy that the girl found on the street and it was so happy and well-socialized that you just knew she was doing a great job making it feel loved and wanted.
And there ends today’s story.
Tuesday, March 04, 2008
On an e-mail group I’m part of there’s been a discussion going on about how appearances can affect a person’s perception of the world, and by extension their personality and possibly even their politics. That happens to be a subject that interests me so I thought I’d bring it back over here and broaden the discussion a bit.
I think that the way a person looks can have a huge impact on the way they see the world. For a start it affects the way other people treat you. There are certain expectations and assumptions attached to people who are tall, or people who are fat, or people who are thin, or people who are unusually attractive, and in most cases those assumptions have both positive and negative elements. People who are tall are expected to have leadership abilities, which is great if they do, but must kind of suck if they’re shy and retiring by nature. Weight carries all kinds of expectations and assumptions, wherever a person falls on the size scale. And so on and so forth.
The interesting question for me is if a lifetime of being reacted to a certain way, having most people one meets make the assumptions that go along with being tall, or fat, or skinny, or pretty, or ugly, or whatever, actually has an impact on an individual’s personality. I think it does. How can it not? Human beings are social creatures – we define ourselves largely in relation to each other.
It gets even more interesting when you look at appearance issues that are tied up with gender presentation. I have had many short male friends who have noted that their lack of height is assumed to mean that they are less masculine somehow – there are social penalties attached to being short and slight for a man. For a woman it’s the opposite – models may be idolized but in general women are more likely to face mockery and gender policing as a result of being tall than as a result of being short. In some ways being short is actually an advantage for a woman (and I say this as someone who stands just over 5ft2) – men don’t feel threatened by women who are short, and one can get away with being a lot more assertive in terms of personality without being gender policed if one is physically unthreatening. A tall woman with my personality would probably be seen as a ball breaker, but because I’m small and femmey and entirely physically unimposing I get away with behavior that I’ve seen other women called every sexist insult in the book for.
In general people of either sex who are considered to fit the stereotypes associated with their gender well in a physical sense have a much easier passage through life. I’ve actually done experiments with this, and can report that when I go out in public in skirts and figure-hugging tops and make-up and heels people of both genders are a whole lot nicer to me. It’s not just about men wanting to get laid either, because straight women are a lot friendlier and more helpful too. I get better service in stores and restaurants, co-workers are friendlier, the wheels of the social system seem to be greased in many ways. When I go out in jeans and sneakers people aren’t rude or unpleasant, but the sense of friendliness and niceness does drop. The difference is more noticeable in men than in women – when I’m decked out in full girlie regalia men actually go out of their way to do favors for me – but it’s there in women too. I used to have a job at which every time I wore a skirt at least 3 or 4 female co-workers would stop me in the corridor and compliment me. In all these scenarios it almost feels like I’m being approvingly patted on the head for conforming perfectly to what is expected of my gender, even though my personality remains as assertive and non-girly as ever.
Male friends report a similar pattern in reverse (except without the random women going out of their way to do favors, because our society does not encourage that at all). Every femmey guy I’ve ever known has reported harassment when they’re all femmed up, and every one has said that on those occasions where they make a point of looking more masculine the harassment magically vanishes. It’s a weird, interesting phenomenon.
I wonder how much of this is homophobia. Gender non-conforming appearance is often taken as a sign that the person is queer – could that be why there’s such a difference, or is there more too it? If that’s the case, then why are openly gay people of either gender generally less likely to be harassed if they’re fairly gender conforming in appearance? And how does the day to day experience of being a butch woman or a femmey man and being greeted with covert or overt hostility and confusion, or being a gender-conforming person of either sex and thus being allowed to be more or less anonymous, affect the way the individual experiencing those reactions sees both themselves and the world around them?
I’m still mulling all this over. Particularly in reference to feminism as a movement. Anyone else have any thoughts?
Was everyone aware that there’s a new Bauhaus album coming out? I’m not kidding – I got a little e-mail notification the other day. Is that awesome or what? It’s been about 25 years since the last one, which is kind of scary to think about…I was just a kid when they broke up, so how old does that mean they all are now? And they might even tour, which should be wierd...are they still up to running around on stage?
Also, what is it with all the old goth icons coming back? I went to see Siouxie last month (she was pretty good, BTW, although whoever is running the mixing desk at her shows really needs to turn her mic up louder). And The Cure are back out there too. And it’s not just old goth bands either, because The Pixies came back too. Did some marketing genius finally realize that older people will go to shows if you give them something they actually want to see?
In any case this little mini goth revival is making me happy. And I will most definitely be buying the new Bauhaus album. If I wasn’t so damn goth I’d be positively cheerful.
(Currently listening to Double Dare)
And of course there’s always the all-time ultimate goth song…
The bats have left the bell-tower, dude.
Friday, February 29, 2008
This post and the comments that follow it over at BAs blog got me thinking. Apparently a certain individual threw a tantrum at BA because she pointed out that Planned Parenthood has always had endemic racism in its policies, and that the problem continues to this day. Apparently she wasn’t supposed to point that out because loyalty to organizations that have historically done a lot of good for some women is more important than other women (you know, the ones it didn’t do so much good for) being able to point out problems that they have with the way said organization operates.
I call bullshit. And also lack of intellectual depth and the ability to comprehend complex issues.
See, here’s the thing. For middle class white women PP actually has done a lot of good. From the POV of that demographic (mine, BTW) PP looks like an unmitigated good.
If you’re a black woman it looks a whole lot different. PP has a long and ignoble history of imposing forced sterilization on black women. It also has a recent history of recommending methods of contraceptives to black women that it does not generally recommend to middle class white women. Depo-Provera? Problematic in all kinds of ways, likely to have long term effects on women’s fertility that they were not expecting. And that they also were not warned about, long after the fact that such problems might arise became clearly apparent. And then there’s Norplant. Ugh.
From any rational outsider’s POV it looks very much like part of the mission of PP is to make sure that poor black women have as few children as possible. And it looks like that because that is in fact part of the philosophy that underpins PPs approach. Google Margaret Sanger and eugenics if you don’t believe me.
So, when you look at PP what you have is an organization that has really helped some women and really hurt others. Which doesn’t mean that we should automatically want to nuke the whole organization – what it means is that we should be trying to change the organization so that it is responsive to the family planning needs of ALL women, not just some. The whole organization needs an overhaul from both a practical and a philosophical POV.
Why is it forbidden to point this out? Yes, I know that PP and all other family planning organizations are under threat from right wing wackos. That does mean that it would not be prudent to just shut the organization down completely. It most emphatically does NOT mean that the organization should be immune to criticism. Precisely because there are so few alternatives PP needs to be forced to change the way it approaches reproductive issues for WOC. And yes, I said forced, not asked gently and politely, because when did any large organization ever respond well to that?
So anyone who feels the need to shout down WOC when they offer pointed critiques of PP just because it offends them to have it pointed out that one of the organizations they admire is far from perfect and needs to be called on its shit? STFU. I’m not kidding. Your knee-jerk defense of a deeply flawed organization does not help anyone, least of all the women who depend on that organization’s services. So shut up and listen to what the woman has to say and you might learn something.
Go over to Black Amazon’s blog and read her posting and then follow the links. The blog she’s talking about seems to be allowing comments again, so have at it.
Edit - Also read Sylvia's follow-up post. Excellent question, isn't it? Also note that the certain individual who threw a tantrum at BA has now decided to delete the whole argument, which is basically the blog equivalent of taking your toys and going home. Rather telling, that.
Monday, January 14, 2008
I was recently part of an intra-feminist conversation about misogynist and sexist themes in music, and it got me thinking about how much of the music I love is generally considered to be Not Feminist Approved. Which of course got me thinking about what that means, for something to be feminist approved or not feminist approved. Most of the music I love falls under the not approved heading just by virtue of genre – we’re all supposed to be listening to music written by and for women with somewhat political themes, right? Indigo Girls et al?
I don’t like that kind of music. I don’t like the male equivalent either, the stuff that as a socialist I’m supposed to like – Billy Bragg, etc (with the notable exception of the Manic Street Preachers, who are blatantly socialist, but then they don’t write music that sounds like a dirge). It’s not that I have anything against that sort of music, really, I just find it boring. I prefer my political theorizing to come in the form of a book, or an essay. I prefer music to hit me in an emotional way – the music I like best tends to bypass the brain and head straight for the gut.
There’s stuff that I can’t listen to because the lyrics piss me off or creep me out, though. If the lyrical content is sufficiently off-putting it distracts me from the actual music.
What do I mean by off-putting? It’s usually lyrics that are hateful towards any group of people as a group (stuff that’s more “you pissed me off, specific person!” I’m fine with). Stuff that’s hateful towards women will tweak my “fuck you, asshole” response pretty fast, obviously, and stuff that’s racist or homophobic has the same effect too. Apart from anything else it seems so very stupid, to be angry at any group as a group, especially if they’re a group with less social/structural power than you. Especially if it’s a white guy bitching about women/black people/gay people/whatever, my response is pretty much “Eh, shut up”. Which would explain why, although I love metal, most nu-metal irritates me. Well, there’s the fact that most of it sounds like it was written by a whiny 12-year-old, too.
I never have understood why feminists are supposed to dislike anything raunchy on general principles, though. Raunchy stuff that’s actively hateful towards women? Don’t like that, generally. But just plain raunchy? Why is this a problem?
So, I decided to put together a list of songs that I love that, at various points in my life, I’ve been told that as a feminist I’m not supposed to like. Some of them I can actually see why I’m not supposed to like them, but I do anyway. Some of them I think whoever thinks I’m not supposed to like them is falling into the trap of assuming that women just aren’t supposed to like sex, period, in which case…bite me. Once I started putting the list together I realized that what all the songs have in common is a sort of gleeful reveling in one’s own perversity. They’re not just sexy; they all leave me with a big smile on my face. It’s the idea of songs that talk about sex in a way that makes it seem like some or all of the participants are fucking miserable that puts me off. As long as it sounds like everyone is having a great time? Bring it on.
So, here’s my list
(Anything with a nifty little underline is a link to a downloadable version of the song)
Ministry – Stigmata (Violence, blood, kinky as hell…yeah, I know why I’m not supposed to like this one. Don’t care – best song to fuck to EVER.)
Dir en grey – Zomboid (Gleeful perversity at its finest - how can you not a love a song in which the macho male narrator declares himself addicted to come? There’s a reason why they’re my favorite band, folks, and it’s not just because Toshiya’s pretty. However, if anyone at your workplace speaks Japanese DO NOT play this song where they can hear it. Not only will you get fired, they’ll probably sue you for emotional trauma.)
Zilch – Electric Cucumber (Pretty much every feminist friend I’ve ever had has been horrified that I love this song. Vulgar, raunchy and utterly marvelous. Especially the part where the male singer says “eat me, beat me, treat me like a mother-fucking whore”. Me, I think that were it not for the unfortunate him-being-dead part the person who wrote this would be just my kind of guy.)
AC/DC – Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap (I don’t have a digitisable version of this to upload, dammit! But I love this song. I once heard an AC/DC album described as “another ten songs about drinking and shagging”. That sounds about right. And again, it’s the gleeful tone that makes it work so well for me.)
SADS – Porno Star (The title alone should put this on the “Nice Feminists Don’t” list, and yet…I love this song. Then again, this guy could make just about anything sound sexy. Even the term “cock rock” doesn’t quite suffice for SADS – I could put almost any song of theirs on this list and it would fit right in.)
Miyavi – Night in Girl (This is the song that made me fall in love with Miyavi, musically speaking. Not that I don’t like all the pretty stuff, or the bluesy stuff, or his rawr rock stuff, but this? This is just plain hot. Perfect rhythmic acoustic guitar and ridiculously sexy voice and delicious lyrics with a playing-with-gender twist. Also, note to those who don’t think it can be done – as blatantly sexual as this is there isn’t the slightest sense that the man doesn’t like women. Quite the opposite in fact, which is especially remarkable when you consider that he was only 19 or 20 when he wrote this.)
Placebo – Nancy Boy (Sexy gender-ambiguous boys, how do I love thee? Oh let me count the ways…This also reminds me of my teenage clubbing days. Good times.)
D’espairs Ray – Marry of the Blood (If you’re into BSDM this is your house band. What do you get when you have a band with two doms and two subs? Stuff like this…slow and hypnotic and kinky as can be. I may well go to the otherwise tedious Taste of Chaos tour just to see these guys. Especially if Zero is going to be wearing the tight leather skirt with the big slits up the sides.)
Led Zeppelin – Whole Lotta Love (Clichéd as all hell, this is true, but still a sexy song. Also somewhat sexist in that typically 70s cock rock way. Not truly misogynistic though, I’d argue, just garden variety cluelessly sexist.)
Zilch - Fuctrack # 6 (This one makes the Genitorturers sound like Sesame Street. Right at the beginning you have a bitchy domme come in and say “I wanna fuck you in the ass until you bleed” and it just gets better from there. Pretty much everything by Zilch is raunchy and perverse and funny as hell, but this one may be the winner. And I love it, oh yes I do! This song isn’t so much sexy as laugh-your-ass-off hilarious.)
So, what are your “I’m not supposed to love this but I do” songs? The really raunchy ones that the Spinster Aunt would not approve of? C’mon, you can tell me.
Wednesday, January 02, 2008
Has anyone else been following the coverage of the Iowa caucuses? I’ve mostly been turning a jaundiced eye away from the whole thing, mostly because all of the candidates are predictably uninspiring.
Hilary Clinton is a great politician, there’s no doubt about that, and she’s getting better all the time. Bill’s footprints are all over her campaign, and politically that’s a good thing – he has better instincts than she does. Actually Teflon Man has better instincts than any other politician of his generation. With both of them working together she may well get the nomination.
I wouldn’t vote for her, though (if I was allowed to vote, which as a non-citizen I am not). The reason I wouldn’t vote for her is simple – I have no idea what she would do if she was President. Every time I see her speak it’s all surface and no content – you can listen to her deliver a half hour speech and come away with no idea of what she plans to do except that there’s something vague and undefined in there about healthcare (she does get some points for being consistent in her interest in that issue).
Obama is more or less the same. Everything he says sounds good, but you come away with no idea what kind of a President he would be, because he never really says anything of substance – it’s all vague platitudes and rousing but imprecise promises.
These are our two leading candidates. Oh joy. Vague and vaguer. Vote for either of them and you have no idea what they care about or what policies they’ll implement, what’s really important to them and what they’ll be willing to trade away. That applies to most politicians, of course, but the constant press insistence that both of them are different because of their gender (her) or race (him) grates. Neither of them seem different to me – it’s politics as usual. Don’t commit to anything because then you might actually have to act on it.
I still think Edwards is a better candidate. I know the media doesn’t agree with me – even though he’s pretty close in the polls most media outlets are barely acknowledging his existence.
He may pull it off, though. Americans like sincerity and trustworthiness in a candidate, and he certainly does a better job of projecting those qualities than either of the other two. He has that same sort of folksy, relaxed charm that Clinton (Bill, not Hilary) has, and that might make the difference.
The real reason I want him to get the nomination is that I feel like I actually have some idea what he’d do with it, though. He’s the only one who ever seems to say anything. I also think that the press assumption that his legal background is a liability is silly – Americans don’t like corporate lawyers, but lawyers who represent normal people against corporations? Those they like. Plus he has a sort of warmth to him that the other two notably lack.
The folksy quality grates for me, honestly, but I still think he’s the one who’d have the best chance of beating whoever the Republicans put forward. Unless it’s McCain, then they might well end up neck in neck, just because their demeanors are so similar.
The media seems to be pretty sure that both of those two are doomed, though. Me, I’m just going to sit and watch. And scowl every time another media outlet doesn’t even attempt to hide its biases. Since when did they stop teaching the fact that that’s unprofessional in journalism school?