Monday, December 20, 2004

Guest Blogging at Alas, A Blog

Starting tomorrow, I will be guest blogging over at the always-amazing Alas, A Blog. My partner-in-guest-blogging crime will be Lauren of Feministe.

I'll be doing some crossposting; hopefully producing a good post a day over at Alas in addition to my usual mixed bag of goodness over here.

Should be fun. Hope to see you all there.

One for the Road

Philobiblon has a post up about unisex sport/women in sport (one can't have an interest in women in war and not keep one eye on women in sport), which I'll be addressing tomorrow.

In the mean time, I've got a painter story I need to work on. Today's story reject was from an editor who found one of my women & war stories too "didactic."


Well, I'm just screwed, then.

Someday, when I write better stories, I'll actually get paid for what I write.

Until then, it's bugs, painting, violent women, and a love affair at the end of the world in my latest must-get-it-into-the-mail story, which I need to be working on... right now.

See you all tomorrow.

If I Wasn't at Work, I Would SCREAM

Must. Contain. Myself.

(why the fuck does Jenn send me these links? Satire? Or not? Want to wage a guess?)

The Fellowship Baptist Creation Science Fair is a fair that promotes children's interest in science from a Creationist perspective.

Sounds great, doesn't it? Of course, I thought, nodding happily along, we must include all views of...

And then I saw the "science experiments" that the children engaged in, using thier powers of deductive reasoning:

Elementary School Level

1st Place: "My Uncle Is A Man Named Steve (Not A Monkey)"

Cassidy Turnbull (grade 5) presented her uncle, Steve. She also showed photographs of monkeys and invited fairgoers to note the differences between her uncle and the monkeys. She tried to feed her uncle bananas, but he declined to eat them. Cassidy has conclusively shown that her uncle is no monkey.

2nd Place: "Pine Cones Are Complicated"

David Block and Trevor Murry (grades 4) showed how specifically complicated pine cones are and how they reveal God's design in nature.

And... wait for it.... Here it is!!

Middle School Level

2nd Place: "Women Were Designed For Homemaking"

Jonathan Goode (grade 7) applied findings from many fields of science to support his conclusion that God designed women for homemaking: physics shows that women have a lower center of gravity than men, making them more suited to carrying groceries and laundry baskets; biology shows that women were designed to carry un-born babies in their wombs and to feed born babies milk, making them the natural choice for child rearing; social sciences show that the wages for women workers are lower than for normal workers, meaning that they are unable to work as well and thus earn equal pay; and exegetics shows that God created Eve as a companion for Adam, not as a co-worker.


[EDIT NOTE: I have since been informed that this site is SATIRE. The scariest part about that, is, though... it fooled me. There are enough wingnuts in the world that you just can't go over the top enough to prove a point]

A Short Shout-Out

Thanks to all those coming in via Alas, A Blog (thanks for blogrolling me, Amp) and Pharyngula. And, as usual, hello to everybody reading offsite at the LJ feminist forums and friends' lists.

Good to have you here.


Had a nightmare last night that Yellow found this blog.

Really must rein in my work posts. I have a history of prescient dreaming.

Revenge of the Wingnuts

I've been keeping up with Jeff Jarvis over at buzzmachine and his research into complaints about television programming, FCC censorship, and the like. What's interested me about it is just how few crazies it takes to freak out networks, sponsers, and get television shows slapped with FCC fines.

Just how few does it take?

In a country of about 260 million, about 23.

His latest rant is about wingnuts and religion in America:

There is a debate supposedly emerging -- even raging -- in this country:

One side says that religion is under attack in America.

Another side says America is under attack from religion.

Jeff goes on to say that too much is being made out of a few wingnuts. They're getting too much screen time with the media and bloggers are spending too much time screaming about them. It makes the nutty crazies in the country look like a majority.

My worry? That the nutty crazies will scream so long and so loud that they start to look normal. In response, I'd like to remain screaming loud and long on my own end, as a sort of counterweight.

I think that's fair.

Writing & the Word

John Rickards, "making a shameless bid for linkage again" posted some thoughts on why writers write. Being someone who makes a living writing crime novels, he went straight for the jugular:

To quote 'Fight Club', "You're not your job". And that, when it comes down to it, is what writing professionally is. It's a job. It's fun, it's interesting and it's varied, but it's basically a cool way of earning a living. That's all.

"Looking at it that way, sure, but what about the whole 'writing as a calling?' aspect?" Sarah said in the original backblogs. "Art vs. livelihood. I mean, I'd love to make a living writing, but even if I couldn't, I'd still do it because at least when it comes to fiction, my brain would probably explode if I didn't find a way to write about it."

To which I say, for most writers, bullshit. We're no more 'called' to it than that mechanic. We enjoy it, we get a great deal of fun from it, but that's all.

I always seize up with I read these "you frickin' pansy-ass writers" things, cause I'm an elitist snob just as much as the next word hack, and sure, money is great for a writer who can get money that way, and if you're not making money (like me), you're sure as hell looking to *get* money by writing... but no more than anybody else looking to get money for doing something they like...

And... and...

Well. Then you read something like this, and all of that cynicism just sort of bleeds away.

You write because there's a power in the telling of stories. The rest is just details.

A Lady in the House

I was channel surfing last night and saw a familiar-looking room getting decorated for the holidays. I paused and realized where it was -- First Lady Laura Bush appeared on screen looking perfectly coiffed and dainty, hands folded demurely in her lap.

Ah. Yes. The Lady's House.

I had found HGTV's special on the decorating of the White House for the holidays, an apparently immense affair that filled Laura will no small amount of joy, this being a chief first lady duty this time of year.

And it got me to thinking about what a perfect first lady Laura Bush is. She's just got it all down: stay in the background, push appropriately lady-like programs like the education of the young (yes, there's a devaluation of "women's work" - note our American incompetence when it comes to education). Give substanceless but uplifting speeches about women being able to vote in Afghanistan. Smile. Wear heels and knee-length skirts. Never, under any circumstances, raise your voice. Host tea parties.

She's a brilliant woman, I've gotta give her her props. You won't find Laura heading a committee on healthcare reform and getting lambested the way Hillary was. You won't find her raising her voice like Hillary. And you sure as hell won't ever hear her tell somebody to "shove it" like the admirable Teresa Heinz Kerry.

So what's wrong with this image of the first lady as cookie-baker and White House decorator? What's wrong with the image of Laura in her proper wifely role as nurturer and house-beautifier? After all, Martha Stewart made an entire industry of her own out of it.

I was watching Laura Bush smiling warmly and speaking about all of the Christmas displays, the "vingettes," and coyly implying how clever she was to put the vingette of "I saw mommy kissing Santa Claus" underneath the portrait of former first lady Barbara Bush, and I thought, "This is all fake."

All of it? No, of course not. But it's fake in the way it matters. That house has been full of ballsy women, from Eleanor Roosevelt to the amazing Abigail Adams, to Nancy Reagan (who ruled the White House for better or worse), to Hillary "I don't bake cookies" Clinton. And I just don't buy that all of them are real keen on giving teas. Hilary was the first one to actually say so. Laura, though, Laura knows her place. She knows the part she has to play, she knows *she* wasn't elected, just her husband, and she's happy to play the lady and be America's wifely role model.

But you know, I believe in the power of images. Seeing Laura give her little speech about the holiday decorations, I wondered what else she would rather be doing than supervising the decorating of the White House, which is likely down to a science by now and doesn't really need her to direct it anyway. I know that if I was First Lady (oh, let's be realistic - I'd be president before I'd be first lady), I'd have other stuff to do around the holidays than talk to HGTV about what a perfect homemaker I was, but I'd have to tow that line, I'd have to mince around and hold a bunch of White House teas, cause that's what First Ladies do, and if I didn't do them, then I'd be the antichrist, like Hillary Clinton.

You know who I wanted to march around playing First Lady in the White House? Teresa Heinz Kerry. I liked her better than her husband. Teresa's the sort of woman I'd love to go out and get drunk with. She'd be table dancing by 2am, and we'd flirt with outrageously younger men and do tequila shots and fall out of our limos onto the sidewalks in front of our respective houses sometime around 5am, and wake up the next morning with hazy snatches of memory that included the smeared visage of some hot guy named Enrique. I wouldn't be able to find my shoes, I'd have some bruises from falling off the table, and I'd call up Teresa sometime that afternoon and ask when we were going out to party again.

And she wouldn't say something like, "I have to decorate the White House today, sorry." She'd say something like, "I'd love to, but we're planning on passing a universal health care bill today, and I need to be on the floor. Also, I'm flying off to Zimbabwe with the Secretary of State to talk about election reform."

I'd turn on C-Span, and there she'd be, ushering in a universal health care bill before flying off to Zimbabwe while I was still nursing my hangover. She'd be wearing a sensible pair of pants and a floppy hat and good shoes. Maybe she'd say something in French just before she left, to really piss people off.

Images are powerful things. Halle Berry knew this, which was among the many reasons she broke into such hysterics when she was the first black woman to win an academy award for best actress. Sure, you know, rationally, that this is a possiblity: you know that there's no *legal* reason a black woman can't win, but you've never actually seen it done. And it was a huge deal for her to show black women: See. Look at me. It can be done.

And when I look at the images of First Ladies that they feed to us - however truthful or not they are - I think, nobody realizes how different it could be. Everybody sees these women sipping their tea and pretends not to notice how important they really are, the power they may have, because we have to hide behind all these feminine accoutrements that make people think that this is the only way women can be. And we think that because we haven't seen anything else. All we know is First Lady tea parties and holiday decorating tips, and because such women's work has been so derided, we look at these First Ladies and assume that this is it: this is the pinnacle of womanhood, and no, really, see, she doesn't have any power! She bakes cookies, for goodness sake! As if baking cookies eclipses the fact that she's got the ear (and a lot more) of the President.

And it pisses me off. Everybody knows that she's got to be an image, a symbol, and it's gotta be played the happy hetero-Christian patriarchy way.

I wish people would have left Hillary alone. I wish they'd just let First Ladies be powerful. Not behind the scenes, but right there, in your face.

If they're powerful, let them be powerful.

I want an anti-First Lady.