Monday, January 31, 2005

It is a Fantastic Night For Piss and Vinegar, My Starry Chiklits!

So, I'm just about to cry right now, which I'll explain at the end of the post. I knew I should have waited until after I wrote this piss and vinegar post before I opened this box.

I was fucking pissed off today. Fucking, fucking pissed off. Fucking internet psychos drive me fucking nuts. I was also harrassed on the train platform last week, after six months of fending off fucking train psychos. I was exhausted, run down, and wasn't holding myself in my butch I'll-fucking-kick-your-ass-you-psycho mode, and he came up past me and dragged his hand against me and said something leering-like, and I yelled a big "fuck you" after him and turned to face him - I fucking wanted to fight all 300 fucking pounds of him - but he kept moving, and honestly, it's better that way, cause I quite like the shape of my face. But he fucking touched me, that fucking fucker!

So I've been pissed off. Pissed off femi-nazi pissed off. And you know, every once in a while, going back to your MA class when you're really fucking pissed off is really fucking good.

I grabbed one of the heavier weighted bags, the one that's 200 lbs and Sifu Kat likes to keep for "the big guys" and I beat the fucking shit out of that bag. We rotated out boxing and kicking rounds with squats on the balance balls, and the squats are getting easier, which is cool.

If all I have to do once in a while, is take some time off and eat properly to have ass-kicking workouts like these, I need to get my shit together and do that more often. I was bouncing off the goddamn walls. I should have stayed for the second class.

Instead, I went home and put the same five Everclear songs on repeat and went jogging. Yea. Ok, it was only a couple miles, but I went jogging. I went jogging not cause I *had* to, cause you know, I'd already fucking exercised, I went because I wanted to, and yes, I nearly fell on my ass like three times and did some fancy sliding routines around the stoplights, but I went, and it was great, and I burned off all the pissed off fucking energy I've been building up.

And it occurred to me that what I've been doing with all that freak-out, angsty energy is turn it into negative, loopy self-hate talk, bitching to myself about what I'm supposed to be doing, what I'm supposed to be eating, what size I'm supposed to be, the way people are supposed to look at me, and I was letting it eat me up. I was so mentally exhausted at the end of the day, after spending dull hours at work with little more to do than beat myself up about what I *wasn't* doing that I was too tired to do more than slump home and get to bed.


And there was one more thing I wouldn't owe up to, a big one, the biggest freak-out of all, and I pressed it back and shrugged it off and pressed it back. And tonight I stepped off the bus and headed to MA class, and thought back - what's been so different about *this* month? Why is it *this* month that I'm so unsettled? What's freaking me out? What's bugging me? Start with the first of January. Hell, start with New Year's Eve!


Oh, well, there's that. Shit. Shit. Shit. Owe the fuck up to it. C'mon. Yea, there's that. Goddammit, son of a bitch, I fucking know better, I'm so fucking stupid, goddammit.

Cut that shit out. Get your fucking shit together. What the fuck are you thinking?

I'm an all or nothing person. I'm down for four days, down for the count, and then I get pissed off, and bang through the morning weights, the MA class, and I go jogging.

They're having a big "welcome back" workout session/party tomorrow at the MA school, so I'm going into class tomorrow, too, cause it sounds cool. We've got a bunch of new students, and it's fun to watch them. I suppose I'm not yet one of the amazons or anything, but my arm muscles are looking way cooler.

I was lying in bed last night, thinking too much, as I'm bound to do, and prepping, again, for the dating odyssey. If you want to know why I'm getting pissed off more than usual, and why I'm talking about guys more than usual, it's because I need 6-8 months to prep myself for actually sitting down and going on dates, which I'm planning to do this summer, and let me tell you, that takes all the fucking courage I have, and it means long nights of running through scenerios, of figuring out what's a make or break deal, of viewing me and the poor boy as two warriors sitting down to table and sizing each other up, me inevitably going:

"OK, so, what are you going to cost me, emotionally?"

And him going, "Huh?"

And I was thinking last night, running through another rehearsal, how I'd handle X or Z sort of guy, how I'd handle it if he pushed me a certain way, if he used threats of violence or coercion, "poor me, you selfish bitch," to get what he wanted, and there was that moment, that moment when I opened my eyes and said out loud, "I'm stronger than you. "

"I have been through the shit. I know exactly how far you can push. I know exactly how much I'll push back. I have a one-up on you. I know myself. I know exactly what I'm capable of. I know exactly what I've done, and what I will do. I'm stronger than you."

It was like I was a stand-in for Jennifer Connelly, staring down David Bowie, going, "You have no power over me," and everything broke apart.

And it was the first time I realized I could do it. I could sit at the table. I could pull up a chair. I could be me.

I am incredibly strong. I have done incredible things. I am fucking amazing.

When I got home, I found a package waiting in front of my door, which I did not open until after my run, because I had a feeling it would take away some of my piss and vinegar.

Jeff Vandermeer, cool writer extraordinare (I've gushed oodles of times about his Dradin, In Love here), wrote to me when I said I was taking time off, and said he was sending over a galley copy of his new book, Shriek, and some "goodies."

You know, the galley copy would have been enough to leave me hopping around my apartment. I can't even list everything else he sent me, but it includes a copy of Secret Life, which I was supposed to fucking buy three months ago, and his non-fiction collection, and a friendly plastic squid (long story), and.. and... it's just fucking amazing. It's the best present I've ever gotten, and he signed all of the books he sent that are his, and they are fucking beautiful, and I want to wander around the apartment just carrying them, it's so damned wonderful.

And you know, it's so funny, with these blogs, with public writing, with just bitching into space, because most of the time, you just feel like you're talking to yourself, and it doesn't mean a damn thing to anybody, and nobody but you could give a shit, and then the good people - not the fucking psychos, but the good people, and there are a lot of you - e-mail you and think about you, and you worry about them, and you think for just this one starry, pretty moment, "Wow, not everybody in the world is a fucktard."

And, of course, you get up in the morning and start over again, but you know, right then, right now, it's like people and life are the best things... well, the best things in the whole world. Seeings as they, you know, make it what it is.

I just love everybody tonight.

Well, maybe not the psychos. But the rest of you all are damn fucking cool.

Why Is it That I Attract Psychos?

I seem to attract a certain type of psycho, like moth to flame.

It goes something like this: boys crawling toward me, prostrate, talking about how they're not worthy of my glorious time and attention. They scream and cry and reach for me and go, "Strong, smart woman! Fix me! Nurture me! Tell me what to do! FIX ME! LOVE ME! I worship you! WHAT? You don't LIKE me? You can't FIX me? I HATE you! I'm going to FUCKING KILL YOU!!"

I so know this script.

Do they believe that I have some sort of Life Secret that they don't?

Do they believe I will act as some sort of big-hipped earth mother and pet away their woes (far, far, too many men with an interest in me are looking for absent mothers)?

Do they believe they can latch onto me and steal some of my spit and fire and hoard it for themselves?

Do they believe I'm a "fixer"?

Here's the deal, boys: I don't fix people. If you open up a conversation by trying to rip something out of me to bolster your own ego, your own fragile sense of self at the expense of mine, it's not gonna go well. Been there, done that. I don't take boys under my wing and baby them and raise them like fledgling chicks. I don't believe you attach yourself to somebody and then figure out all of the things you're going to "fix" about them. You've got the strength to get your shit together, or you don't. And you work at it every damn day. And you don't use people as crutches. You don't steal other people's souls cause you don't have one. Period. The end. You're a fucking adult. Figure out your damn life. Don't try and steal mine.

I am not a self-help guru. I don't know any more about life than you do.

So please, all you wonderful boys and borderline psychos out there, don't grovel toward me like I'm the Female Jesus Christ. I know exactly what tomorrow's flip side will be. Do not lay hold and scream, "FIX ME!" because the blood and guts on the floor when you're done aren't going to be mine.

Get your own shit together.

Feminism isn't a fucking dating service.

Writing Today

Been a while since I did any of that, huh? I'm pretty backlogged, and I miss writing. I miss my people.

If I go two or three months without writing anything substantial, I get a little weird... and I've been weird the last couple weeks.

Oddly, writing fantasy novels helps keeps me level. I think I've just been doing it for so long that I can't imagine life without it.

Blame it All on my Buddy Julian, for Sending the Link

Check out, "The Drugs Song."

It's one of those "useless bullshit" mornings here in Chicago...

Random Surrealism Generator

For your workday pleasure.

via mumpsimus

Ha. Ha. Those Pesky Girls

Fascinating article.

A couple of things: yea, at some point, encouraging people to have one kid and having a premium on having boys, you're eventually going to get into trouble. I was wondering when they'd have to start addressing it:

There is such a glut of boys here - roughly 134 are born for every 100 girls - that the imbalance has forced an unlikely response from the Chinese government. To persuade more families to have girls, it has decided in some cases to pay families that already have daughters.

And, check out this bit at the end of the quoted text, especially, for something very familiar:

On a recent afternoon here in southeastern China, hundreds of students in the dirt courtyard of Lanxi Middle School held a parade rehearsal. The school goes through 12th grade, and about 60 percent of students in the higher grades are male. The marchers, mostly boys, waved flags and kicked dust in the air beside a billboard promoting the latest propaganda campaign: Respect Girls...

Mr. Hu said the exhibition room was supposed to build the self-esteem of girls, though it also seemed intended to impress visiting officials. Still, he said that young women were now eligible for college scholarships and that the number of recent female graduates attending college jumped to 271 in 2004 from 149 in 2003.

Lin Lingling, 18, a plucky senior who has hopes for college, is one of the stars of the program. "They say boys are good at logical things, so when they enter into high school, they say some of them are a lot better," said Ms. Lin, a top student. "But we are the same."

I'm concerned that "encouraging" people to have girls means not only stuff like the above, which is... cool, though worrisome because they feel they need to do it (and they're right), but also by giving families money for having girls. This feels a lot like equating women with property, how many cows are you worth?

Ah, memories, party in South Africa, guy turning to me, "How many cows do you think you're worth?"

Oh, man. Joking or not. Oh, man.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

More on Pirates

Straight from boingboing:

The Business Software Alliance has put up some materials on why software piracy is bad. The reason they cite to stop piracy is that it keeps the software industry from getting bigger. My cow-orker Seth has revised their copy with several counterexamples to show what a strange proposition this is:


Some have attempted to paint copyright piracy as a victimless crime, arguing that "if I make a copy of a computer program, you still get to keep your copy, and we are both better off." This is hardly the case.

Reducing piracy offers direct benefits. The equation is a basic one: the lower the piracy rate, the larger the IT sector and the greater the benefits.

Some of Seth's revisions:

Some have attempted to paint printing as a victimless crime, arguing that "if I print a book, you can buy it from me, and we are both better off." This is hardly the case. "Reducing printing offers direct benefits. The equation is a basic one: the lower the printing rate, the larger the scribes and bards sector, and the greater the benefits."

Some have attempted to paint conjugal sexual intimacy as a victimless crime, arguing that "if you and I have intimate relations, we both derive pleasure and a sense of togetherness, and we are both better off." This is hardly the case. "Reducing sex among committed partners offers direct benefits. The equation is a basic one: the lower the intimacy rate among committed partners, the larger the prostitution sector, and the greater the benefits."

Some have attempted to paint ham radio as a victimless crime, arguing that "if you operate an amateur radio station, you and I can communicate across long distances, and we are both better off." This is hardly the case. "Reducing the prevalence of amateur radio operators offers direct benefits. The equation is a basic one: the lower the rate of amateur radio communication, the larger the long distance telephone services sector, and the greater the benefits."

Some have attempted to paint tooth-brushing as a victimless crime, arguing that "if you brush your teeth regularly, you improve your dental hygiene, and we are all better off." This is hardly the case. "Reducing tooth-brushing offers direct benefits. The equation is a basic one: the lower the rate of tooth-brushing, the larger the dental prosthetic, dental filling, and dental surgical equipment sectors, and the greater the benefits."

Those Were Damn Good Martinis

Drunken blog posts are like drunken e-mails, only with a far, far bigger audience. You sort of crawl out of bed the next morning and go, "I just posted that to 500 people. Damn."

No more drunken blog posts. Really. I mean it this time.

Anyway, lots to do today. In the mean time, movie trailers. Orlando Bloom appears to be all grown up, and is looking damn prettier than I've ever seen him (I'm assuming this one's gonna be about one of the Crusades that the Christians actually "won"), and, of course, I'll have to see Mr. and Mrs. Smith. Because the candy's gotta come from somewhere.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Drunk, Amid Lovers

At which point, the protagonist thinks: he does not have to be perfect. Just date. Pretend. It does not have to be real. Make something up. Just live in Chicago. Here. Now. Next to me. That's all.

And the protagonist grabs another black russian, and switches out the contacts for glasses, and goes to watch Carnivale.

The SO, who is originally from Wichita, KS, says: "Don't you ever fear that you'll get sucked back into your small town?

Me: Yes. Every damn day. Every time I go back. Every day.

Another drink, another day.

He does not have to be perfect.

In Which the Protagonist Buys a Case of Beer, And All is Right With the World

Going out to dinner with Jenn and the SO tonight. Watching more of Carnivale. Dude, Nick Stahl can be kinda hot, in a broody, guy-next-door kind of way. I'd totally take him home, especially if I caught him reading something equally hot.

But I digress.

Doing a quick read-through of Margaret Atwood's Good Bones. Quirky.

Man, I feel a lot better. I should resolve to spend more of my weekends angst-free.


I start to worry, as my workplace and government become increasingly more involved in my life choices.

Four workers in the United States have lost their jobs after refusing to take a test to see if they were smokers.

They were employees of Michigan-based healthcare firm Weyco, which introduced a policy banning its staff from smoking - even away from the workplace.

But wait! There's more:

According to Reuters news agency, Mr Weyers wants to turn his attention next to overweight workers.

"We have to work on eating habits and getting people to exercise. But if you're obese, you're (legally) protected," he said

Yea. Legally protected. Gosh. That must really suck, not being able to fire somebody for being fat... legally.

Once More Around the Mulberry Bush

Today is grocery shopping day, and with that in mind, and the fact that this has been such a tough couple of months for me, regarding just about everything, I'm going back to the basics.

In fact, after some time off, a lot of sleeping, and being honest with myself, it's pretty easy to see what I was doing: I was undereating on the weekdays, when I did most of my workouts, and overeating on the weekends.

I remember reading a CNN article that *didn't* give the "recommended" calorie count for an "active" woman, only a sedentary or moderately active woman, though it gave the calorie count for an active guy at something like 3000 calories.

For those looking for an "active" woman calorie count, guess what? It's about 2500-2800 calories for somebody looking to be at the weight I'd like to be at, exercising as much as I'd like to be exercising (five days a week of either jogging or MA class, plus morning weights. Thank Hers Magazine for these numbers).

I was putting in about 1700.

And beating myself up about it because it didn't seem to be getting me any rapid results in the weight-dropping department, though my strength and stamina are, of course, increasing. I'd been listening to a lot of bullshit about how little you have to eat to lose weight, about what "normal" women should be eating, and I was thinking 1700 actually really sounded like a lot. Well, yea, it would be: if I was 5'2 with the bone structure of a bird, and not working out. I could lose a shitload of weight if I was really doing this for a number on a scale: watch all that water weight and muscle loss get flushed down the toilet!

I knew I was at subsistence level because when I skipped a protein bar (like the day when I realized I'd brought a crappy one and didn't eat it), I get the shakes and my body starts pushing back into binge-mode. What it also meant was that when I got the chance to eat my Thai food, or let myself have a pasta meal on weekends, I'd overeat then to compensate. So I'd somehow managed to get myself onto a different sort of binge-track, even if they weren't what I'd call "real" binges, and they were "good" foods: I was still overcompensating.

In fact, the time when I was in the best shape, when I was in Alaska, I didn't much concern myself with food at all. I curbed binges, but I ate what and when I was hungry. I lived mainly on eggs, brown rice, and vegetables, the summer before Clarion, and exercised every day, went on long bikerides, spent about half an hour to an hour a the gym, and did my usual weights routine. But I don't remember being nearly as food-obsessed as I've been these last few months.

And in the last two months, I've been watching my energy level for workouts plummet. This has to do with a lot of things, but I'd bet that a crappy diet didn't help much, either.

Going back through blog posts and looking at all the times I've tried to cut out *more* food, or alter it, I see those as being really stressful times, the times when I was the most upset about some manufactured size not fitting, or anticipating that I was going to start dating and remain unloved because my hips and shoulders were the same width.

What it's come down to is owing up to the fact that getting angry at food has been about punishing myself, about not liking myself very much. It's about not being respectful.

I'm deeply sick of protein bars, and tired of talking about food. What I find fascinating is that correlation: the times when I'm the most unhappy, the most depressed, the times when I'm the most angry at myself - those are the times when I've cut at the food, when I've seen it as a problem.

I am incredibly pissed off at the American diet industry, and you'll see that in a lot of my posts. Mostly, I'm pissed off at it because of this: because the reason I treat myself like shit is because I'm told I'm shit for not "eating properly," for being "not hungry," for not obsessing about food. And then when I freak out and try and eat properly, stay hungry, and obsess about food without huge weight loss kickbacks (cause my body's eating just enough to hover at famine-don't-drop-any-of-this-mode), I feel like I'm doing something wrong, get pissed at myself, and engage in unhealthy counter-productive freakout behavior.

And I've also gotten to the point that I'm obsessing about all this stuff so much that honestly, I feel that I've become less interesting.

There are far more important things I should be spending my time on.

Like learning French.

Speaking of which, Jenn's given me a self-study French book that I can work on at work. A few of my writing buddies and I still hold out hope of going in on a little French country house for a couple weeks and writing like maniacs while lounging around the pool and enjoying big French meals and good French wine.

And spending my useless work-time learning something worthwhile would be a nice change. Spending six or seven hours a day reading blogs and news articles and playing Antz will drive anyone crazy.

Throw food-obsession onto that, and you're looking at a freakout.

Roundup of Iraqi Blogs Covering the Election

Jeff Jarvis has a roundup of Iraqi blogs covering the election.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Catch Up

Spent pretty much all of yesterday in bed, getting up periodically to eat, check e-mail, soak in the tub, and watch the rest of Battlestar Galactica, which I will rant about later (half the female characters are still robots, Starbuck is the hottest character of them all, I'm sick to death of boringly pretty boy heroes who all look alike, why the fuck is there a useless "subplot" for the 14-year-old-boys that involves a woman robot in a red dress making out with the scientist guy for 1/3 of an entire fucking episode, the entire point of which seems to be "look how hot we are making out"?).

Slept in again today. Wasn't until this morning that I could honestly say I felt a lot better.

I rolled out of bed just after nine and took a good, long, look at my room and the rest of the apartment and realized how long I'd let stuff slide. Jenn's been in and out, and messes don't bother her, so most of the cleaning is my task, and it was the first thing I let go. About the only thing I'd managed to do with any frequency was take out the garbage. But the plants were dying from not being watered, ants had invaded in search of all the crap on the kitchen floor, I was fairly certain something was getting ready to grow in the sink, and I hadn't cleaned the bathroom - aside from a wipe-down last week when the SO came by - for three weeks. And there was a substantial pile of books and magazines spewed all over the floor next to my bed.

So I cleaned the whole damn place, watered the plants, put the basil out on the outside porch to get some much-needed sun, vacuumed all of the throw rugs, re-ordered all of the books overflowing from my bookshelf (most had to go out in the "library" area in the dining room and living room, respectively. We're at something like 1500 books in the house now), bleached, scrubbed, and windexed the kitchen and bathroom, dragged the gas stove out from its nook so I could clean out from under it (this is where the ants hide), washed all of my bedding and made the bed, toted out the trash from the overflowing can in my bedroom (paper trash gets less "eek" points on my internal monitor than the kitchen trash), and put away all of the DVDs in the living room scattered around on top of the entertainment center. I've started converting a bookshelf into a DVD shelf, as the entertainment center gets filled up. Jenn's copy of Buffy Season 7 has returned from the SO's, and I hadn't yet made a space for my copy of the Extended Return of the King. And, much to my geeky delight, I found a set of The Ewok Adventure and The Battle for Endor today at Borders. Excellent.

Finished reading One L, and tried to continue reading Steven Erikson's Gardens of the Moon, an epic fantasy saga. Unfortunately, all I'm thinking while I'm reading it is, "When the fuck is George R.R. Martin gonna finish book four? This stuff is crap." In fact, it's not that bad, but epic fantasy for me isn't just about the battles and the bravery, it's about connecting with the characters. I give a fantasy saga more time than other books, cause they have to have some time to draw you in. 50 pages is about right. With this one, I'm 100 pages in, and there's no character I find terribly interesting or likable enough to trudge through the rest of the book with, let alone a series. George, where are you??

Yesterday, while pushing through my book pile, I picked up and finally started reading the first book of Romance of the Three Kingdoms, which I'd bought a couple weeks ago, but hadn't had a chance to start. If I was wondering where George got all of his epic plots from, I will wonder no more. It's good stuff.

I also got a shipment of perfume from Paris today, which I ordered sometime early this week (fantastic fucking shipping). I had picked up a bottle of it when I was in Paris years ago, and finally ran out last year. It's so fucking expensive, and seemed so incredibly extravagent an expense (I mean, c'mon "I just ordered perfume from Paris" bah), that I put it off and put it off and put it off. Now I've got it, and I'm embarrassed to say how much it pleases me.

I also ordered a handmade pair of sterling silver earrings, also an extravagent expense, from a guy named Mark Ehrmann. I had dearly loved the pair I bought years ago in Alaska, but I'd lost them in Cape Town or somewhere on a research trip, and again, couldn't justify buying a new pair until now.

My rationale? What did I buy myself for my birthday?... Music to write novels to, and a copy of LSAT sample tests.


I've also been reminded, once again, how much I love my house. I love living here. I love the hardwood floors. I love the huge kitchen that's so great for cooking in. I love that I'm growing herbs on the back porch. I love the built-in hardwood cabinet that we use as a liquor cabinet. I love that the majority of the furniture is actually composed of bookshelves. I love that I've reserved an entire space next to the elliptical machine for a punching bag, once I can afford it. I love my cozy room. I love that the video store is across the street, Borders and Starbucks are a block away, excellent Thai food places populate the entire block, there's an Asian grocery store across the street, and upper-scale restaurants are just a quick 6-8 block walk away onto Clark.

I love my house. I love this life. I even sometimes love the mostly-useless job that pays for all this. I am very lucky. I know that.

On Being a Woman in "Liberated" Iraq

Maybe we should stop listening to the old rich white guys about "women's liberation" and start talking to the women. They might have something to say about it.

Read it all here:

I am an Iraqi woman, and I am boycotting Sunday's elections. Women who do vote will be voting for an enslaved future. Surely, say those who support these elections, after decades of tyranny, here at last is a form of democracy, imperfect, but democracy nevertheless?

In reality, these elections are, for Iraq's women, little more than a cruel joke. Amid the suicide attacks, kidnappings and US-led military assaults of the 20-odd months since Saddam's fall, the little-reported phenomenon is the sharp increase in the persecution of Iraqi women. Women are the new victims of Islamic groups intent on restoring a medieval barbarity and of a political establishment that cares little for women's empowerment.

Having for years enjoyed greater rights than other women in the Middle East, women in Iraq are now losing even their basic freedoms. The right to choose their clothes, the right to love or marry whom they want. Of course women suffered under Saddam. I fled his cruel regime. I personally witnessed much brutality, but the subjugation of women was never a goal of the Baath party. What we are seeing now is deeply worrying: a reviled occupation and an openly reactionary Islamic armed insurrection combining to take Iraq into a new dark age.

Every day, leaflets are distributed across the country warning women against going out unveiled, wearing make-up, or mixing with men. Many female university students have given up their studies to protect themselves against the Islamists.

Read the rest.

Today Was the First Day I Considered a United States Without the Right to Legal Abortion

WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Bush told abortion foes on Monday he shared their support for "a culture of life" and claimed progress in passing legislation to protect the vulnerable.

"We need most of all to change hearts and that is what we're doing," Bush said as anti-abortion activists marked the 32nd anniversary of the Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion with a day of rallies, protests and other activities.

I finally decided to start thinking about it. I've been fobbing it of and fobbing it off for a long time now. I didn't think he'd outlaw partial-birth abortion, either. I don't seriously think he can get away with overturning Roe.

But I considered what I would do if that happened.

I've discussed before the great fertility of the women in my family. My fertility has always been a big issue for me, and I've negotiated all of my sexual encounters knowing just how great my risk of pregnancy was. I've never slipped up. I've never had to get an abortion. I never engaged in unsafe sex - not once.

But that doesn't mean that there won't be a future "oops" pregnancy. And no, I wouldn't hesitate to get an abortion if I got pregnant, say, in the middle of law school.

And today I seriously considered it: what happens if Roe's overturned?

Well, I'd spend a day or two sobbing in my bedroom, probably, out of sheer anger and frustration. All that hard work trying to get the world to see me as a person and not the incubater of some guy's sperm - all that work trying to change people's ideas about what children really are: they are created of a woman's body, a woman's breath. Yes, a man contributes half the potential child's DNA, but at the end of the day, the stuff that goes into the creation of heart and lungs and fingers and toes comes out of my body, is nourished by what I eat, how well I sleep.

So what would happen if I got pregnant without wanting to, without choosing to?

Well, likely, I'd take a trip to Canada. I'm one of those lucky people who could afford to take off to Toronto for the weekend if I had to. I could afford to stay in a hotel, afford to pay for the procedure. In fact, Canada would likely have a nice little business providing reproductive health services to American women hopping over the border.

I would be OK. I'm intelligent, I'm well-off.

But Roe V. Wade is about a bigger issue than just the abortion part. It's not about protecting life or fetal rights or any of that bullshit (again, if this was about life, we'd be putting all that energy into childcare services).

Overturning Roe V. Wade, making abortion illegal, is about controlling women. Always has been. Always will be. You won't convince me otherwise, not with all of your arguments about sacred egg meeting sacred sperm: a couple of DNA strands slathered in proteins that have about as much self-awareness as a can of coke.

So when I hear Bush & co. make these broad statements about "life" about "championing life" what I'm actually hearing is an old rich white guy telling me who has control over my body - his sperm. His agency. I will be forced to labor against my will producing a child of my body for nine months. Anyone who has given birth, whose wife has given birth, will be the first to tell you why it's called "labor." Making babies doesn't come easy, doesn't come without cost.

And that cost is not my biological burden to bear against my will. It is not something to be forced upon me by men, by women, by the President of the United States.

So though I will travel to Canada, fly over the heads of poorer women who cannot afford the luxury and instead submit themselves to risky and dubious back-street procedures in their god-given, natural right to control their own fertility, I will come back to a country whose laws still view me as vessel, as no better than an empty jug in want of filling.

That is what the laws will say I am. That is what all this talk of life, and packing courts with judges, means to me.

It means I go back to being a dumb body, a thing, a sperm receptacle, a baby vessel, and NOTHING else.

And soon after I will begin reading even more "studies" about how I can't do SCIENCE because ovaries get in the way of learning, and SCIENCE is bad for babies. I will be told I cannot drive a car, because I don't have the spatial reasoning skills. And if you're not careful, if you're not careful, if you begin to view us as things instead of people, if we become a means to an end instead of an end, an asset, in and of oursevles, then you begin trading women for cattle. Men begin hiding us from view like their best possessions. Men begin encouraging us to go back to finding our strength and identities in men, no matter if that man is weaker, stupider, more spineless than we.

Movie heroines will easily slide back to telling their beaus, "You'll have to think for the both of us!" and they'll mean it.

These gains, these little steps that women have taken toward being considered "real" people, are not very old. There have certainly been other times and places where women were treated as people, but none in our recent cultural memory, the Judeo-Christian one that most of the US comes from, and given any excuse, given fear, we'll slide back very easily to equating women with possessions, because it seems so much simpler, so much easier, so logical, so reasoned.

Life. Yes. We're protecting life. We're protecting the 50s ideal that never existed, the one we all pretended was truth, and was nothing so much as a bald-faced lie that everyone told themselves they wanted to live, they should live.

I want a life where I'm treated like in intelligent, informed, responsible person. I want a life where people look at me and see not a vessel, not untapped fertility, but just a person, just this, me. Not my womb. Not my ovaries.

It is never "one" thing. It will not stop at the outlawing of abortion, just like he didn't stop with outlawing Dilation & Extraction. It will not stop.

It will not stop.

This is why this issue terrifies women. Until you have grown up knowing that old men like these have the ultimate control over your body and what you do with it, over your labor, over how you choose to spend your body's breath and blood, you won't know this terror, this uncertaintly, this screaming, terrified anger at the co-option of all that you are for use by the state.

The closest male equivalent I can think of is the draft: being forced to fight a war you did not vote for, for a cause you did not want, at a time in your life when all the world's possibilities are spread before you. And there is no honor in it. There is no medal. Because you will be told that your purpose in life is just this: to live or die for the state. That is your biological burden, and if you survive this war, you will be forced to take home with you a burden far greater than merely serving the state: you'll be given a child that is yours, whose future, whose mental and physical health, whose deeds, will be forever your responsibility.

And there is no conscientious objector clause. There's no medical leave. There's no reprieve if you're mentally ill.

If a man has sex with you, and you become pregnant, you're consigned to the will of that man and his laws.

Your life is no longer yours.

That's the battle women fight. That's why it's such a brutal battle, and that's why we get so violently passionate about the abortion debate. Because what we're talking about is the co-option of our bodies, our lives, for the state. We're talking about giving up our rights, our bodies, to the will of men and their wants and desires.

And we're fucking tired.

We're not going to be non-people again in the eyes of the law. We're not going to be second-class, second-best, by virtue of birth.

Never again.

Clarion East Auction for the SF/F Fans: Go Buy Something Cool

Stolen from Matt Cheney:

Clarion East, one of the oldest and most prestigious SF-writing workshops, lost their university funding last year, and so they are holding an auction, where you can bid on remarkable items from people like Michael Bishop, Cory Doctorow, Harlan Ellison, Neil Gaiman, Jeff VanderMeer, Kate Wilhelm, and Connie Willis, among others. The auction only lasts until tomorrow, January 29, at 11.59pm EST.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Write Your Own BtVS Episode

Here's a handy Buffy episode template for Season 3: something every young, aspiring slash fic writer should keep in their toolbox.

Cold Opener:
Buffy is on patrol. She kicks vampire butt, etc., then stumbles across a person[s] killed in a gruesome and emblematic manner.
*cut to opening credits*

Scene: The Library
BUFFY: ...and why did this idiosyncratic killer have to strike while Figure From My Past is in town?
GILES: Mmm. Describe the bodies again, especially the crucial little detail that sets these deaths apart from the last eight million deaths this year? *takes off glasses, cleans them, puts them back on*
BUFFY: *describes*
XANDER: I know! Let's do some research, for a change!
GILES: *glares*
BUFFY: Whatever, I've got class.
CORDY, passing by the library door: My, I'm shallow!

Scene: Cemetary
BUFFY: *kicks vampire ass*
GILES: Hey, over here! Someone got whacked in the same easily-identifiable manner!

Scene: Library
GILES: I think I may have found something. *reads from a dusty old tome* Let me translate: "...and lo, a fusty English man will read from these pages and..." *blinks* Heeeey, I'm NOT fusty!
BUFFY: Skip ahead a bit.
GILES: Yes, here we are. The MacGuffin of Qwerty'uiop! Ancient folk legend refers to an object of incredible power...
BUFFY: What does it do?
GILES: *reads a bit* Freshens breath, whitens teeth, improves fine-motor control...
BUFFY: What does that have to do with the murders?
GILES: Beats me. I must have been high when I highlighted that passage.
XANDER: *cracks wise*
WILLOW: *says something endearingly loopy*
CORDY: HELLO, I'm still shallow!
BUFFY: Yeah, whatever. Laters, everyone, I'm meeting Figure From My Past for coffee.

Episode 27: In Which the Protagonist Considers Throwing in the Towel and Taking Up Underwater Basketweaving

[Brutal Women note: This was originally posted on 1/7/05: I am re-date stamping it for 1/27/05 to keep the comments current, as it's received some interest.]

Brendan's found a couple of good articles. The one I want to tackle is this one about why feminists are afraid of fat: i.e. feminists want to be pretty, too. The "I want to be loved and still be a real person" conundrum.

There's simply an irreconcilable contradiction between feminism and femininity, two largely incompatible strategies women have adopted over the years to try to level the playing field with men.

The reason they're incompatible is simple. Femininity is a system that tries to secure advantages for women, primarily by enhancing their sexual attractiveness to men. It also shores up masculinity through displays of feminine helplessness or deference. But femininity depends on a sense of female inadequacy to perpetuate itself. Completely successful femininity can never be entirely attained, which is precisely why women engage in so much laboring, agonizing, and self-loathing, because whatever you do, there's always that straggly inch-long chin hair or pot belly or just the inexorable march of time.

Feminism, on the other hand, is dedicated to abolishing the myth of female inadequacy. It strives to smash beauty norms, it demands female equality in all spheres, it rejects sexual market value as the measure of female worth. Or that was the plan. Yet for all feminism's social achievements, what it never managed to accomplish was the eradication of the heterosexual beauty culture, meaning the time-consuming and expensive potions and procedures—the pedicures, highlights, wax jobs on sensitive areas, "aesthetic surgery," and so on. For some reason, the majority of women simply would not give up the pursuit of beautification, even those armed with feminist theory. (And even those clearly destined to fail.)

What I find fascinating about this idea about the conflict between "femininity" and "feminism" is the internal conflict: In order to be loved, I must look and act this way. This is called "being feminine." It may not be who I am, I may loathe most of it or like some of it, but in order to be loved, this is how I have to be.

Because for all the talk about female vanity, and how the only reason women go out to buy shoes and lipstick and the reasons women starve themselves and angst about their looks, what we're talking about beyond basic vanity is just this:

Good women, the sort of women who are loved, are the women who look and act this way.

That's the message you get banged on the head with everyday in your MSN advice columns, and stupid studies about how men want to fuck their mothers, so women should strive to be little and less successful than the men they adore.

And, no, it's not just about love from men, though male approval is a huge deal: women are the first ones to punish the fat women who don't play by the rules, the people who don't go hungry, the ones who won't wear shitty shoes and pretend to be stupid on a date.

By the time you're three or four years old, you know what sorts of actions and poses will get you good attention. You know what the ideal is gonna be. And even though it's total bullshit, all you hear, over and over again in the news media is how being smart and strong and wearing pants and knowing how to spit means that no one will ever love you. Guys might sleep with you, but they can't show you off to their friends, cause you don't look like the sort of girl they know they're "suppposed" to bring home. Women might exchange a few words and say how neat your life is, but unless you surround yourself with women just like you, you're going to find all their talk about makeup, boob jobs, and manicures deeply, deeply boring.

When you're told as a little girl that in order to be loved, you need to be pretty (and docile, and quiet) and then you're shown pictures of girls and women who don't look like you, you're going to try and look like those girls. Human beings are social creatures. They like to be around other people. Touch, friendship, love, all that good stuff: that's what makes you human. The ones who lose that stuff, or are born with some sort of screw missing in the sociability department are usually the monsters, the freakshow killers who view people as things.

The struggle for those women who want to be themselves - and whose selves are the smart, strong, successful types - is a heartwrenching, soul crunching battle between wanting to be a person worthy of being loved and wanting to be yourself. Because you'll get banged over the head every damn day that being yourself isn't enough. You're not lovable first thing in the morning. Wearing jeans and being smart and speaking loudly isn't lovable. If you do those things, you're a feminist man-hater, and no one will love you.

And you know, it's funny: I read this article right after I came home from my Denver trip, where I was ruminating on all this corporate stuff pushed my way, musing about how long I could reasonably wait before asking that I pull a salary in equal measure to the work I'm about to do, and I was sitting between these two petite, straight-haired women with lean shoulders and make-uped-into-flawlessness skin, and I thought:

This is it. I'll never get laid again.

I'm tall, broad-shouldered, wide-hipped, brunette (curly hair), weigh as much as the average guy, have breasts that no one will ever write home about, have three degrees, done some world traveling, written novels, write violently feminist stories, maintain a feminist blog, and now I have an important-sounding job that's going to take me around the country in suit jackets with briefcase and laptop and cell phone and corporate card. All they have to do is start paying me 60K+, and I'll be priced out of the running.


Because women exist so that men can feel better about themselves? Cause men are so insecure that they can't stand the idea of hitting on or being rejected by a woman with three degrees? Cause the idea of being romantically involved with somebody who's your equal is really scary?

That's what the media likes to say, doesn't it? Those are the articles feminist blogs and Bitch magazine are always pissing on.

But those aren't the relationships I surround myself with, and those aren't the sorts of people I have in my life. The buddies I have are in pretty egalitarian relationships, actually, whether hetero or same-sex. The friends I have like me just this way, and I like them just like they are, which would be why we're friends.

And yet, I can't really talk, can I, because I haven't dated in a couple years (and, to be fair to myself, haven't tried: my brush off of Yellow being a good example). So I'm pretty much it: I'm that scary, alone, butch-like femi-nazi that your friends and mothers always warned you you'd end up like if you didn't marry the first guy you had sex with.

Let me tell you a story.

Once upon a time, I thought that in order to be the "right" kind of girl, I had to dress more fem, speak softly, and defer to my boyfriend in all of his infinite wisdom, forgetting that he, too, was Just A Kid. I'd spent so long feeling ugly and out of place that when I hit high school theatre (I dropped weight, lost my braces and glasses, between eighth and ninth grade) and suddenly all these guys asked me out, it was like somebody dumped a big pile of something in front of me, but I didn't know if it was good or bad, I just knew that I was finally doing something right in the girl department. I picked the best suitor of the bunch, broke up with him once, had him call me crying on the phone, so stayed with him cause I thought people would think I was weird if I didn't have a boyfriend.

The longer I dated him, the more worried I got about how people would look at me if we ever broke up. No guy had expressed interest since I started dating, so I had nobody to hop to to maintain my girl status if we parted.

He cheated on me.

We broke up for three days, and got back together again: because he cried a lot, and I didn't have a boyfriend.

And then he started telling me how I was supposed to be, how I should look, so that he wouldn't cheat on me again.


I was convinced he cheated on me not just because he was a horny kid and had the opportunity, but because I was some sort of failed woman that no one would ever love.

So, you know, I tried. I tried to wear skirts and dresses and speak softly and defer to him and pretend he was oh-so-much-more worldly than I.

To sum up: I lost myself.

Weight was my one rebellion, the one indication that there was something deeply, deeply wrong, and I put on something like 60 or 70 pounds in a year and half.

We moved in together, things got increasingly bad, blah blah, you've all read this stuff from just about every other woman in the world who's got a domestic abuse story. Death threats, restraining orders, blah blah.

To sum up: it sucked ass.

So, etc., I left, etc. my parents went on suicide watch, and I was convinced that it was all over, this was it: I'd totally failed at being a woman. I couldn't even stay with a guy who everybody said was so incredibly in love with me that I was a selfish bitch to want to leave him. I was cold, frigid, blah blah (again, insert cliche story here). And all I could think was, "Oh, no, if I break up with him, no one else will ever love me. I'll be alone for a long, long, time."

That was pretty much the worst thing that could happen to me, I thought. I'd leave him, and no one would ever love me again.

And you know what: I stared that one in the face, and I made the decision.

Because there's scarier, more terrible shit that can happen to you than not being fem enough to be "loved" by some loser.

When you break, you pretty much have to make a decision: kill yourself and get it over with, or be better.

I chose to be better.

And, "being better" for me, meant being myself. That's me. The person I always thought was me, the one who wanted to torch all of her skirts and jump off bridges and go motorcycle riding and move to Alaska.

Yea. That one.

The feminist one.

And you know what: she's a fuck of a lot better than the person I thought I was supposed to be.

So. Listen up.

Feminist vs. femininity:

No, they aren't either/or. But something else is:

Being who you want to be, and being who you think everyone else thinks you should be.

We (and I include myself in here, every day's a goddamn battle) spend so much time wrapped up in these bullshit articles, these bullshit "studies," these bullshit thoughts about what fucking incompetent, insercure, and infantile people men are, that we're not stopping and stepping back and looking at the real people we've surrounded ourselves with.

If you're with the people from the bullshit articles, find other people. If you're an insecure guy, figure it the fuck out: you don't have to make more money than me, have more degrees than me, be stronger than me. You need a good fucking heart and a passion for being alive - the rest is fucking details.

And women: if he doesn't figure that shit out, IT IS NOT WORTH COMPROMISING YOURSELF SO YOU'LL LOOK LIKE AN MTV GIRL. Dump him. Get your shit together. Figure out what you can do on your own. Surround yourself with good friends. Question your sexuality: if you're lucky, you'll find that maybe you're not into guys as much as you thought you were (I still sometimes wish I'd wake up one morning and "turn into a lesbian." Can anyone recommend a starter kit?). And even though those relationships won't be any easier than any other relationship, at least you'll have a lot more to talk about.

As for me, yea, sure, these articles piss me off. They make me question myself. But you know what, after that intital, "Oh, fuck it, I'm throwing in the towel" feeling, I rememeber where I've been, who I could be, and remember why the hell I'm here and how I got to this point, and you know what?

Every damn thing is worth it. The jeans. The no-makeup. The boxing classes.

Cause you know what? I secretly like the way I look. I've always liked my breast size, I have the birthing hips that populated the West, if I have to go butch and scary and intimidating, I can do it. I like my red shoes. I like my square-heeled boots. I like being smart. I like reading books. I like being able to figure shit out. I like the fact that Blaine asks me, "Is this smart person lingo?" I like this person I made, and I gotta tell you, I'm getting really fucking sick and tired of a bunch of wackos blaring at me that I have to hate myself because I turn down dates and don't obsess about a boob job.


Wednesday, January 26, 2005


I've been feeling for the last week or so that I'm fighting an uphill battle, and rapidly losing ground.

I've had a number of freakouts lately (food binge twinges, exercise shrug-offs, early-to-bed "low" days, and two very, very uncommon twinges of claustraphobia - weirder still because they came within a couple weeks of each other), which should be irregular. I've been having crappy dreams, and have been pushing myself into bed earlier and earlier, only to wake up the next morning, look in the mirror, and realize that the face staring back at me was still incredibly exhausted.

This month, I turned 25, got a raise and promotion, spent two weeks in and out of Denver, briefed myself on an entirely new telecommunications project in order to learn the basics of an entirely new technology, fell mad-crazy for another impossible person in order to muse away my hours, struggled to alter my diet and exercise regimen (again) and implemented a second off-day weight routine, decided to study for the LSATs with the possibility of applying for Law School on the horizon, and got my first 1000-hit day on this blog.

I told work I was taking some PTO and my floating holiday, and I'd see them Monday. Slunk home again tonight without going to class. Bumped into Jenn as she was on her way out, let her know I was taking a vacation and planned to sleep for four days.

"You know," she said. "I think that's a really good idea. You've looked... really tired lately."

"Thanks for saying that. It's like, no matter how much I sleep, I wake up and I still think I look tired."

"It's weird, it's like these last few days, it just feels like something's gone out of you."

I'm tapped out.

I've been running really hard this month, took too many plane rides, freaked out too much about exercise, pushed myself to think about a thousand things all at once, got pissed off because I wasn't spending enough time on my novels, spent an incredibly ridiculous amount of time angsting about people in general, and have only managed to get to sleep every night by taking a Tylenol PM.

I'm incredibly, incredibly tired.

Don't expect blogging miracles this weekend.

Names and Faces

Because I love putting faces to names in the blog world.

Me and my mom, Christmas `04.

My sister and her son, Christmas `04

Me and my maternal grandmother, when I was about 14. I like this one, as the family resemblence is uncanny ;)

Don't You Just Hate That?

Man, I hate writing up posts I don't have the guts to make public. Oh well. Another one for the draft stack. These things are piling up...

Back to Women and Desire

The other day, Jenn told me that a friend of hers said I might be interested in this story:

Apparently, this woman, a grad student, was prescribed Zoloft and not told at the time that it was known to cause decreased sexual desire in women.

In fact, when men are prescribed Zoloft and Prozac now, they're automatically given a prescription for Viagra as well.

But women, apparently, have to ask.

I told Jenn that if I'd ever been on one of these drugs, it would have taken me less than a month to figure this out, and I'd be pounding down my doctor's door.

But I digress.

So I was interested when I found this little Op-Ed piece confirming the fact that Zoloft and Prozac diminish sexual desire. In this case, the woman in question, once again, had to be proactive and bring up the subject with her doctor, who apparently hadn't thought to mention this little fact to her, either.

Cause women, you know, don't really ever think about sex.

The "happy ending" to this little piece is that apparently the doctor found a great drug for her to take in combination with her Zoloft to increase desire.

Great. Good on you.

But it might have been nice, you know, before hand, if women were told all of the side-effects, no?

Wonkette's Liveblogging of the Presidential News Conference

Ah. Wonkette:

10:02 Bush starts reading before he gets behind podium. Clearly would rather be elsewhere. Rather be being interviewed by Dan Rather.

10:03 Iraqi freedom will require "commitment of generations," i.e., "We will be drafting your grandchildren."

10:04 "There has been enormous sacrifice by some of our citizens." No one i know, of course, but my staff has informed me that is the case.

10:05 Oooo, nice tie on David Gregory.

10:05 Terrorists: no positive agenda. Kind of like democrats

10:07 "The fact that they're voting in itself is successful." That "whoosh" you hear? The sound of the bar lowering. Next: "The fact that ballots are printed."

10:09 Terry Moran knows his Saudi penal code. Question on crushing of dissent by American ally! Does the president see a contradiction? Clearly, Terry Moran is an enemy of freedom.

10:10 Yet, president thrown. Allowing a followup.

10:12 Really liking Gregory's shirt. Pink? Peach? And checked! Very secure in his masculinity.

10:15 How many people have to die before "the world is safer without Saddam...." starts to sound hollow?

11:16 "When americans see Iraqis standing up and fighting," they're be relieved alright. Relieved because then we can leave.

10:17 Ah. The Japan comparison. Not sure that's super relevant or comforting. First, we were there seven years. Second: we dropped TWO NUCLEAR WEAPONS on them. Of course they were willing to cooperate. They were glowing.

10:18 Huh. Not mentioning private accounts in re: Soc. Sec. But whatever. It's all "dictated by math." Does that mean we have to invade math?

10:20 "Third rail of politics means you touch it and you die." Ah. see I thought it was a euphamsism for large penis.

Check out the rest.

I Can't Believe They Say These Things: Oh. Wait.

From Pandagon:


Black People Gonna Die Watch: Day 1

The BPGD Watch is a new feature of Pandagon, featuring the best of Bush administration nonchalantness about the shorter life expectancies of black Americans, particularly black men. In addition to Bush's skillful huggery and head-rubbery of darker-skinned Americans, he's shown a remarkable propensity to accept the shorter lifespans of African-Americans in much the same way you'd accept that all the copies of Elf are rented out at Blockbuster.

Black people die sooner. Hey - shit happens! Today's installment:

Mr. Bush also encouraged the leaders to support his plan to add personal investment accounts to Social Security, which White House officials say could benefit blacks because they have a shorter average life span than whites and end up putting more money into the retirement system than they take out.

African-American men "have had a shorter life span than other sectors of America," Scott McClellan, the White House press secretary, told reporters. "And this will enable them to build a nest egg of their own and be able to pass that nest egg on to their survivors."


Wow, what a great way to push through your SS plan with black voters! In fact, Bush, you better just continue to make sure black men die sooner! What a great plan! I'm sorry, does this remind you of Mbeki and his policy toward AIDS: if they're dead, we don't have to worry about providing them with jobs?

Why, yes! Yes, it does!

On Being A Professional Pirate

I've been paying particular attention to the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios v. Grokster case on whether or not file-swapping services are at fault if their users decide to download copyrighted files. Same thing VCR manufacturers had to go through ages ago. And Grokster should continue to get the same verdict that the VCR manufacturers got.

It's all about being a professional pirate.

As someone who knows a number of professional pirates, that small group of people who haven't had to pay for a CD in several years and have a tetrabyte of computer space loaded with everything from feature-length first-run movies to porn, I can tell you that they're largely a very fair group of people. They've downloaded Bioware's Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, and had such an incredible respect for the game that most of them went out and bought it.

I've been file swapping for years. It's how I discovered Ani DeFranco, Modest Mouse, Franz Ferdinand, Paul Westerberg, The Secret Machines. I got a hold of a handful of tracks from each, then went out to grab a CD or two or three.

In fact, the only artists who have to "worry" about file swapping are the crappy ones. The ones who put out entire albums that only have one snappy radio song that gets so much play that you figure you'll listen to it until you get sick of it and then delete it. Highly combustible. So you grab your sticky pop crap from Ashlee Simpson or Britney Spears. Repeat until sick, then never listen to again. These are the sorts of people who should really only be making money from touring anyway. They're entertainers, not singers, not artists.

As a writer, I used to be a violent defender of copyright. I was of the Harlan Ellison school of copyright: don't steal my stuff, you bitches! Don't post it anywhere! Don't give it your friends! Squeeze out every dime!

My view changed in South Africa, when I realized that music, books, media, wasn't cheap. And what that meant was that 80% of the population of an entire country was pretty much denied access to 80% of that country's media, and the media of the world. And all of the thoughts, ideas, and feelings those media contained.

And I saw that as doing the world a vast, vast disservice. Reserving all the knowledge in the world for a handful of elite.

In fact, this is why India doesn't really have copyright laws. China loves to steal stuff all the time. The idea is that by putting a monetary value to thoughts and ideas, you're limiting the dissemenation of those ideas. It's like education: it should be free for all.

However, all that said, I'm very clear on one point: if somebody reposts something of mine; a short story, blog entries, I want them credited to me, and I don't want that person making money off my words. That's it. That's my only rule. Swap my stuff around like crazy. That's why it's here. But you better not be selling pamphlets full of it without my permission, and you better not be saying you wrote it. That's a matter of politeness. It's just rude to steal shit and claim it's yours. Basic English 101 stuff.

As a writer, I think, your ultimate goal is audience. Do I want to make money writing? Do I want to get paid for it? Would I love a book contract that would pay off my student loans and pay for grad school? You fucking bet I do.

But I will not jealously hoard ideas. I will not demand that everybody at LJ pay me money for quoting my posts or stories in their entirety. In fact, my deepest thrill yesterday was backtracking to those LJs where they'd included huge excerpts or entire posts and as I'd scroll through them I'd go, "Wow. This is really well written. Whoever wrote this... oh, shit, that was *me*."

I love the internet. I love that it allows for the free flow of information and ideas. Yea, sure, it ends up being a little bit like the game "telephone," when you put it "Lucy likes little trucks with lots of ducks," and it came out, "Oh, fuck," at the other end.

But there's something incredibly powerful about reaching a thousand people (or ten thousand or ten million) freely. If you're any good, you can find a way to support yourself that way, as many writers and bloggers do, either by selling their books and stories via their blog, or fundraising for site upkeep.

And when you talk about swapping music, movies... The Lord of the Rings was not harmed in any way by file swapping. Those pirates who have the whole version on their computer with the 1 tetrabyte of space have also bought all three of the extended editions of the film.

What file swapping forces the media to do is be better. It makes their art worth paying for. I just put down $30 for Catherynne Valente's The Labyrinth, and $30 for Jonathan Strange and Dr. Norrell. And not only did I pay to buy Good People Who Love Bad News, but Jenn picked up her own copy as well... even though we'd all but collected the entirety of the album through other means.

When shit is really fucking good, you'll put down the money for it.

When it's not... well, those are the people who are really, really worried right now.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Kisses for Jason

Cheeky guy.

This is Good

I know it's the way I approach a lot of my posts. Good to think about. Human beings aren't all about logic, really. We kick straight from the gut.

Take the issues out of the clouds, and put them back in the bloody field where real people are dying.

From the Salon piece:

With the Republicans in charge, it now becomes the work of the left to frame the social issues it wants to influence -- for example, homophobia, racism, war and xenophobia -- by telling stories that are easy to relate to and enable people (of all kinds) to root for the oppressed, the wounded and the underdog. This "Oprah approach" -- giving people an immediate connection to social issues by making them personal -- can change people's minds about deeply held beliefs.

These stories -- unlike those that the right crafts, such as the embellished tale of Iraq veteran Jessica Lynch, or the Swift Boat group's attack ads about John Kerry's Vietnam service -- don't need to be manipulated or created. They exist already. Progressives just need to be willing to tell them, and by doing so express which core values they think people need to hold on to and which ones they must discard and replace with new values.

Francesca Myman

I'd like to point you all to one of my fellow Clarion buddies, Francesca Myman, a Yale grad, fantasy writer, and artist whose website I just recently picked up (I fell out of touch with about half of the class, so it's cool to see she's doing well).

She's got fun photos, a lovely art gallery, and check out Broadband (not really work safe), images of fleshy women in classic art. A good reminder about how much standards of female beauty change - though I'd hasten to add that these images felt just as totalitarian and impossible to achieve and maintain by women then as standards today. The "ideal" is only an "ideal" if less than 2% of the population achieves it. Then it changes. So it goes.

Great stuff.


Damn, you LJers are gonna double my hit count again today.

Welcome, welcome. Good to have you here.

Why the Women's Movement "Doesn't Work?": Cause We're Not Talking Enough About Women?

I just got a form letter from Naral Pro-Choice America (which I assume was forwarded to many feminist bloggers, and all of those at the aggregate I belong to) asking if I'd post about their Give Us Real Choices campaign against "Chastity Week," a "campaign" launched by the Pennsylvania State Legislature promoting chastity as a means of curtailing the unintended pregnancies of women.

NARAL is great, and I applaud their work, but I found something off-putting about the idea of sending a letter to the legislature asking for a chastity belt as a form of protest (not that I think you shouldn't go over there and sign it. Do. It's all we've got right now). This mostly bugged me because I've gotten to the point where I could see that legislature budgeting in "requested chastity belts" as part of Chastity Awareness Week. Or, at least "Chastity Rings" that libido-less young women would wear in honor of their marriage to their hymen.

I can see them doing shit like this. We've gotten to the point where we're dealing with people who have no sense of irony.

NARAL has done some great stuff, and I like that they've got up the Faces of Pro-Choice America up at their site. It's really cool. But there's something missing from this fight.

In Denver, while waiting for my cab, I saw Kate Michaelman, former President of NARAL, in a back-and-forth spot with the "news" anchor about how important it was to keep the Democratic party pro-choice. Kate's contemporaries apparently told her they wanted to see her run for the DNC chair. She thought about it, but ultimately declined. Didn't decline the post. Declined the idea of even being in the running for the post.

Now, I greatly respect this woman, I think she's amazing, but when the pictures came up of the six men running for the post, the interviewer said, "Isn't it odd that this is such a hotly contested issue as far as the chair is concerned, but not one of the people up for the DNC chair is a woman?"

Kate went on to explain her reasons for not pursuing the chair. She had good reasons. I respect her.

And yet... and yet...

If you don't stand up, who will?

It's something I realized while watching Kate. I wanted to like her. I wanted to get behind her and march to the steps of the Supreme Court. But in that hesitancy to step up, when so many women asked her to, I saw cowardice. Rational, logical, cowardice, but cowardice nonetheless. She was afraid.

She knew exactly what would become of her and her family if she did so.

The women's movement does not have a voice, because it has no leader. There are no particular people to rally behind, nobody I would follow to the ends of the earth. There's no talking head to pit against Ann Coulter who's actually charistmatic - and, let's be honest, this is America - and pretty enough to do it on CNN.

Because it would take an amazing fucking woman to be that leader. To be the Oprah of the women's movement. Because she'd need to be charismatic, passionate, traditionally good-looking (it's true, don't pretend it's not), and above all else (because we do have those women. Hillary can fake it, Barbara Boxer is a pistol), above all else, she would have to risk. She would risk not only her own life, but the lives of those she loved. Because being the head of a women's movement would mean endless derision, endless tasteless cartoon strips, endless death threats from psychos throughout the country and likely around the world. Her sex life, her mental health, her weight, her clothes, the cut of her hair, the size of her shoes, would all be public topics of discussion. Nothing she had would be hers. She'd have to be one tough fucking cookie, because it's possible for all that she was to be consumed by the media, by the women around her, by the courts.

What you're talking about is finding somebody who would fight, and who possessed all of those media-lovin'-looks-and-graces that get them on television.

And that's a tough woman to find. And I think there's a lack of forward motion, of progress, in the movement because we really have no voice, no one person who says, "I've talked to women around the country. We want different things, but there are issues we're not divided on. Especially the issue of personhood. We demand the right to be real people."

And what I worry about, especially, is that "the women's movement" and "women's rights" are becoming so narrowly focused on abortion. Yes, I've already ranted about why that's a core issue. But in all our talk about fetal rights, lack of rights, giving rights, the pro-choice women, too, are forgetting that we got into this because of the women.

We're being forced into a debate at when "life" begins, instead of speaking about women who are alive. Women who want jobs. Who want to leave their abusive spouses. Who feel their desires crushed my family, by religion. Women who want decent childcare so they don't bust their asses for pennies and come home to put in another 40 hours.

And with no one actually speaking for women, by not forcing the wackos to speak our language, we've started making concessions. We've gotten scared. We've backed down.

They have used violence to alter the debate. Used the language of "life" to erase "women," and we have no one to put in front of them. Instead, we have this massive, howling hoard of pissed-off women with nowhere to vent their rage but in our wit and irony - irony increasingly lost on an increasingly conservative, backwards bunch of politicians who are so eager to please, so eager not to spark any controversy at all, that they will kow-tow to the first man who torches an abortion clinic, instead of charging him as a terrorist and hauling him off to Cuba.

I want to change the language. I want children created of a woman's body, not in it. Forced labor is slavery. If they want outlandish, hard-hitting language, I will give it to them.

Sometimes, when the other side is screaming outrageous obsenities, you've got to frame your argument just as violently, as forcefully, as they do. And you have to frame it in your own terms. I don't think we should talk in nice, cozy, "abortion is just terrible" terms anymore. I think we should reframe the debate.

I think we should talk about slavery, about filling vessels, about women as chattle.

I think that's a language they'll understand.

And I wish a woman would step up to do it.

And my sentiment on my own candidacy for the post (I knew some of you would go there) is likely that of Eleanor Roosevelt, who, when asked what her one regret in life was, replied:

"I wish I'd been prettier."

Yet, how long can we bitch and moan and write letters and complain and scream before we have to step up? Before we have to be brave? Before we say, "I believe in this. I will fight for this" and do it no matter how pretty, no matter how uncharismatic, because so many women are so fearful of that public shame, of being the hated public woman, the voice of millions of women, speaking violently, passionately, about where the small steps lead us, about how we are treading water in a current rapidly pulling us out to sea?

I'm Paying Money for This Shit?

Via feministing:

Here's some sample "advice" being given out to today's teens in those abstinence-only sex-ed programs that my tax dollars are going toward. Here's my problem: this "advice" not only goes against my personal values, but encourages male hatred toward women, female passivity and the squelching of desire, and worst of all - presents lies, statements with no basis of "fact" as being "true."

“Because they generally become aroused less easily, females are in a good position to help young men learn balance in relationships by keeping intimacy in perspective.” Sex Respect, Student Workbook, p.6.

See here, now.


Wow. I must have been doing something wrong.

“A young man’s natural desire for sex is already strong due to testosterone... females are becoming culturally conditioned to fantasize about sex as well.” Sex Respect, Student Workbook, p. 6.

When men were "men" but women were... females. Just like on Animal Planet! Before the year 1900, women didn't think about sex at all, in any country! Damned if I know why any of us are here.

"Good writing tells you a lot about yourself. Bad writing tells you a lot about the author." - anon

“A woman is stimulated more by touch and romantic words. She is far more attracted by a man’s personality while a man is stimulated by sight. A man is usually less discriminating about those to whom he is physically attracted.” WAIT Training, Workshop Manual, p. 40.

::cough:: ::cough:: Long-term relationship? Oh, definately, personality. Quick fuck out back? Oh, you better bet he's hot and I haven't been giving much thought to what comes out of his mouth. In fact, in order for the fantasy to continue, he best not speak at all. It would ruin the illusion.

“What if a girl came to school in a crop top, just barely covering her bra, and shorts starting three inches below her naval? What ‘game’ would she be playing?” WAIT Training, Workshop Manual, p. 86.

The correct answer is D) The Please Come Rape Me! game.


I'm sorry, you chose A) It was 90 degrees outside, it was hot, and most of the boys got to run around on the football field without shirts on? Well, tough luck for you, you're wrong, wrong wrong. Women don't even perspire! Comfort! Freedom! ha.

“How can girls make guys feel esteemed and admired for choosing the wise course?” Facing Reality, Student Manual, p. 30.

Face Reality, Ladies. Sex is all about men. You shouldn't even *like* it. Get back in the kitchen.


Some Thoughts On Faith

My father was raised Catholic. Catholicism is why his mother had five children (my favorite story of my paternal grandparents' marriage: when she went into labor for the fourth time in order to deliver my father - having given birth to three girls previously - and they were wheeling her into the delivery room, my grandfather took her hand and said, "If you have another girl, I'm going to divorce you." Seriously).

My mother went to a Catholic school, briefly, though I'm under the impression, for some reason, that most of her family was Protestant. Or, perhaps, Presbyterian. Says a lot about my knowledge of the Christian denominations that I honestly can't remember.

On those weekends when my parents worked or just needed some time to themselves, my grandmother would get us up early on Sunday mornings and meticulously dress my sister and I in proper good-girl attire (I remember being, what, 3 or 4, and standing on top of the toilet lid while my grandmother prepared to dress me. I was holding a towel around myself, and when she brought the clothes up, I let the towel drop, in anticipation of being dressed. She cried out, scandalously, "Modesty! Modesty!" I thought she was very funny. Ah, Catholicism). I remember the church because there were good feelings associated with it. She'd bring coloring books and crayons for us to amuse ourselves with while whoever it was preaching was preaching, and afterwards, my grandmother would talk to lots of people and enjoy herself. It was a social club, so far as I could see, and people seemed very nice to each other.

As far as God goes, I believed in "God" just like I believed in Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny. And I don't say that to be condescending. I actually believed - with all my heart - in the existence of Santa Claus until I was, like, twelve years old - longer than I kept up a belief in God. The existence of Santa Claus, to my mind, was much "realer" than that of God. Santa was everywhere. He was at the mall. They made tons of movies about him. I left cookies and milk for him that were eaten the next day. He left presents. I was convinced that I heard him and his reindeer on the roof on many occasions.

But God? Well, I read my grandmother's copy of The Children's Bible from cover to cover. They had some seriously great stories in there. Really awesome. All that war and violence. I loved them. But then God would speak out of the air or decide a battle or something and I was like, "That doesn't happen to me." And then people would do things that God said, and I was like, "Wow, that would sure make life easier."

But God never told me what to do. Jesus wasn't really much in the discussion, so much as I remembered (most of the Bible stories I read were Old Testament). It was all about God, and God was kind of a mean guy, and he told people to do some really weird, contradictory things in order to prove their loyalty to him, like kill their own kids and have sex with their fathers, and after a while, I started to think he was kind of an asshole.

I remember having a conversation in, like the third grade with my buddy Matt. Matt's dad was a scientist. He did work with cross-breeding stawberry plants, which took him to places like Peru (he came to school and gave a slide show presentation of his time in Peru, the people, the poverty, the landscape. It made a deep impression. When he showed the slide of him and his guy buddies in some offroad Peruvian location, leaping up in the air behind their Toyota truck [riffing on a popular Toyota truck ad at the time] and said, "This is our version of a Toyota truck commericial," I was like, "I want to have a life like *that*."), and he was also deeply, deeply committed to Christianity. Matt's family were what I would term "real" Christians. They were nice to everybody. They practiced what they preached.

But one day Matt and I talked about the existence of God, which I was actually pretty dubious about by that point. I hadn't seen any God-like manifestations. I hadn't been struck down when I was bad. I thought it was more likely Santa would put coal in my stocking if I was bad than God strike me down. Seriously.

And he said, "I asked my dad last night, if God made the world, and Adam and Eve, and all of the animals, then why do we have dinosaur fossils that are older than people?"

"Yea," I said, "that seems kind of weird."

"Well," he said, "my dad said that God did that to sort of test the world before he made people. You know, to make sure everything worked. But the dinosaurs weren't really what he wanted, so he started over."

"Isn't that like saying that God made a mistake?" I said. "If God knew everything, why would he have to run an experiment?"

"Maybe God was a scientist," Matt said (or something to that effect).

What I love about these memories of my conversations with Matt are watching us (and especially him), trying to come to grips with the contradictions between acknowledged, provable "truth" about the way the world works, and how the world is supposed to work and be according to a set of beliefs. It's something I've watched many of my passionately faithful friends do for years.

One of my Mormon buddies recently met and befriended the first openly gay guy she'd ever encountered (in fact, she'd "met" many more gay men and likely a few lesbians and many, many bisexual women in the high school theater, but this was the first time somebody actually "admitted" and discussed their attractions with her). He was Mormon as well, and hearing her speak about him fascinated me. She had this sort of pained note in her voice, this truly confounded expression on her face.

"I just don't understand," she said. "He knows what he does is wrong. He knows it goes against God, it's wrong. But he's still that way. I just... I don't understand."

And my heart bled for her, and bled for him, and what I wanted to say to her was, "If he could change, don't you think he would? He knows that being loved and accepted means being attracted to women and not attracted to men. He knows that's the only way to be, to be loved. If he could change, he would. There's a generation of women and men growing up hating themselves. A generation of people who'd rather commit the `sin' of suicide than find an ounce of happiness is the arms of somebody they love and desire. Don't you think that's fucked up? Do you think that's what Jesus [I wasn't even going to ask about Smith] really wanted? Us hating ourselves and each other?"

Instead, to quell what would become a huge, awful debate, I said, "Well, your ideas and mine are very different about this issue."

How I came to have an issue with organized faith, and Christianity in particular, was being threatened and pressed to conversion by those I grew up with. The aforementioned Mormon and I have since come to terms: we respect each other's beliefs (well, I respect hers. I think she still secretly prays for me). But I grew up around a lot of self-righteous warring Christian-based groups of people. There was a huge group of Apostolic Lutherans, who all actually talked and looked alike because many of them married third and fourth cousins, and they shared about ten or twelve last names among them, and in their case, it was such an "in" crowd (literally) that they didn't really try to convert you so much as they just sort of looked down on you. They had a very comfortable path all set up for themselves. The boys apprenticed to those building companies (dry wall, carpentry - there was an emphasis on going into professions in which you used your hands, in which you built things. Desk jobs were frowned on) run by other men in the religion, and the women all got married between 16 and 20 (20 was considered old-maidish). They were pretty clear they were all going to heaven, and you weren't. Even if you "converted," you'd never actually be "one of them." You could pretend, but I didn't buy it.

I had another good friend who was a Jehovah's Witness, who didn't stand up to salute the flag or celebrate any holidays. She was pretty ambivalent about her religion, so she didn't try and press it on any of us one way or another. She got a lot of crap about it, so she didn't say much.

Then there was S., who, when my sister told her I'd shacked up with a boyfriend, apparently got a pale, wide-eyed, "She's going to hell," look on her face.

"But, what do you think happens when you die?" she once asked me.

"You just die," I said. "Like anything else. I've seen lots of dead things. I think we die just like them."

"You don't believe in a soul?"

"I don't know."

"Doesn't that make you sad?"

"Not really. It just means I have to live really well, cause this is probably all I'm going to get."

She gave me a very nice poem at one point about a soul cut free from the body who roamed the earth without taste, touch, or smell. It was a beautiful, haunting little poem, and I actually stuck it to my notebook. She was startled, as she'd given me the poem as a sort of joke. In fact, I quite liked it.

So I grew up being told that because I wasn't a Mormon, a Christian-whatever-denomination-she-was like S, a Jehovah's Witness, and because I didn't want to marry my third cousin, I was going to hell. After being told by so many different people about how I was going to hell for not being in their camp, I sort of gave up my comfy "agnostic" answer and decided I didn't believe in god, I believed in people. And I believed we were the only ones who could change things, look after each other, and make the world better.

I did pray a lot to God when I was younger, sort of like writing letters to Santa (again, I apologize if this analogy pisses people off, but honestly, these two were always very close in my mind). But unlike Santa, God never manifested himself, never gave me anything I wanted, never seemed to make things any easier. I had to stop waiting around for God to do things. When I hear people saying they talk to God, they ask God what to do, what I see them doing is what I do with myself: I talk to myself. I figure out what I want. What my body's telling me. What feels right.

I was watching an interview with Joseph Campbell about myths and religions, and he said that, what, somewhere, when he asked someone to explain to him why they bowed to one another when they should reserve such reverence for God (a Buddhist monk, maybe?), the person replied that they were, in fact, bowing to the god inside of that person. Bowing one's head was acknowledging that each person held a piece of God inside of them. It was a reminder that each person should be respected, should be acknowledged.

And that idea worked for me. Instead of running after a God who would put me in Heaven or Hell - who would bring me presents or coal - on the basis of some performance, and being driven by that Fear of God, instead what I should do is just be a good person. Is just be respectful to people. Be good. Be better. Help people.

Because if God is love, God is great, God is power, God is peace, God is destruction, God is good, God is bad, God is right, God is wrong... well, you can find all of those things in people, and in yourself.

What made me increasingly angry with organized religion, with many of the more militant sects of Christianity, was when I actually read the Bible. Not just the Old Testament, but the New Testament. And I realized that all of this "you're going to hell" hate-speech from all of these self-identified "Christians" was a load of crap. What would Jesus do? Probably not tell me I was a hideous whore condemned to the fires of hell. He'd probably be nice to everybody and tell them to love each other. You know, like he does in the Bible. I had a women's history teacher who said that Jesus was the first feminist to get his ideas set down in print where we could see them. And she would say that several times, "Jesus was the first feminist."

And if you look at Jesus as a historical figure, if you look at most of the stuff he's quoted as saying, it's really great stuff. It's "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone." And that's to a group of guys who are about to stone a woman to death for adultery.

If Christians are really looking to follow the "teachings" of Christ, they'd be the ones putting out the Spongebog "tolerance" video. They'd be the ones arguing for gay rights. They'd be the first ones on your doorstep saying, "We don't believe women are property, and they have a divine, god-given right to control their own fertility."

And yes, I do know a lot of people of the Christian faith who do believe in love, and tolerance, and bringing people together. I think that if everybody was really acting as the "Jesus" in today's society, things would be a lot better off. We'd hate each other less. We'd work together more. There wouldn't be blue and red states. Just people. Just people who want to love each other, respect themselves, help each other.

Because that's what I saw in the New Testament. No, I don't believe there's an all-powerful creator out there with a big Sauron Eye fixed on me every time I masturbate, but I believe that for those who do believe, they should practice what they're reading, and interpret it themseleves instead of flocking around personalities like sheep. If you believe in love and tolerance, if you have faith in people, then you don't preach hate. You don't tell over half the people in the country that they've been born to act as chattle for the other half.

I do have a faith of my own, and it's based not on one book, or one experience, but on a whole slew of experiences, of twenty-five years of watching people, of listening to stories, of learning to listen to myself, of trying desperately to understand others.

And I believe people can be gorgeous. I believe they can be loved, and that they show a great capacity for love that is often bruised and twisted by those seeking to play power and dominance games. They're twisted up by old, narrowly interpreted books and preachers on pulpits who tell them they and their bodies and desires are awful, grotesque, terrible things. I believe people can be good. I believe they want to be loved. I believe not only in tolerance, but acceptance, because I'm adult enough to see that everything that these religions seek to destroy, all these things they hate, are more or less aspects of myself and of the people that I love.

And I do not believe that teaching others to hate themselves, that pitting Christian denominations and Christians vs. non-Christians against each other is a valuable way to spend the very, very short time we each get on this planet.

"Divide and conquer" is the surest battle strategy ever devised. It's how the US was able to defeat the Native Americans, and why they consigned them to such disparate "homelands." South Africa did the same thing, and it took 60 years of hard fighting to bring people together - a process which remains ongoing.

If you want to give up power to other people, to a wacko-freakshow on the other side of the ocean, what you'll do to yourself and the people around you is go to war with them, with yourself. You'll portion people up into Christians and non-Christians, red states and blue states, pro-choice and anti-choice, pro-human rights and anti-human rights. We'll call it "faith." "Values." We'll forget all about love, about looking for pieces of God in others. We'll forget that church is fun and social and faith is a profoundly personal experience, not a public one. That individual "values" and "beliefs" are for individuals, and to force those beliefs on others does a deep disservice to you both, because you have shown them you have no respect for who they are, for their experiences, for their bodies, for their lives. And you've assumed a higher place, a place of dominance, ascendence, in relation to that person.

And instead of wanting to be good, to be decent, to love, we just want to be right. Everybody wants to be in the camp that gets to portion out who goes to hell, and who goes to heaven. Who gets gifts, who gets coal.

When I finally let go of my belief in Santa, I realized that all those letters I wrote were letters I wrote to my parents. All those loving gifts I got were given to me by real people, the people in my life who loved me. And when I let go of Santa, and reindeer, and endless bags of presents, what I saw were parents who made Christmas magical sometimes on a shoestring budget, with late-night treks to overcrowded toy stores armed with overspent credit cards, against all odds, through exhaustion, working weekends, endless Christmas-Eve closing shifts.

When I drew back the gauze of presents, of Christmas tree, of reindeer, what was left was my family, the people in my life, this expression of human love.

And that, to me, is more magical, more awe-inspiring, more incredible, than God or Santa could ever be.