Thursday, January 13, 2005

Night Thoughts, Denver

"Yes, Clarissa thinks, it's time for the day to be over. We throw our parties; we abandon our families...; we struggle to write books that do not change the world, despite our gifts and our unstinting efforts, our most extravagent hopes. We live our lives, do whatever we do, and then we sleep - it's as simple and ordinary as that. A few jump out of windows or drown themselves or take pills; more die by accident; and most of us, the vast majority, are slowly devoured by some disease or, if we're very fortunate, by time itself. There's just this for consolation: an hour here or there when our lives seem, against all odds and expectations, to burst open and give us everything we've ever imagined, though everyone but children (and perhaps even they) knows those hours will inevitably be followed by others, far darker and more difficult. Still, we cherish the city, the morning; we hope, more than anything, for more.

Heaven only knows why we love it so."

- The Hours. Michael Cunningham.

Living Out of Hotels

Put in almost 2.5 miles on the treadmill, without really getting tired. And wow, do I feel a lot better. They've had shitty food in our warroom the last two days, and the Boys are living on brownies, and I haven't done any exercise beyond get out of my chair for two days. Endorphins are great.

It's so funny, how your body gets used to stuff. When I first started doing these jogging days, I felt like I was going to die after barely a mile.

My record is still only about 4.1 or 4.2 (at which point I thought I was gonna die), so I'd like to average out at 3, but in the hotel fitness room, somebody had put the TV on CNN, and you can only read so many transcripts of the Michael Jackson molestation case before you get nauseous.

There are some images that not even a loud CD player can drown out.

You know, the FCC fined Howard Stern and kicked him off the air for talking about adult sex acts occuring between and among consenting adults, but CNN is blaring out all the lurid details about a teenage boy having his genitals rubbed by Michael Jackson, without penalty. Cause it's, like "news" or something.

Yea. Right.

Yes, we need to cover "news" - like the outcome of his trial. We don't need to read a kid's statement about being molested on prime time. That's the jury's business.

You want to talk obscenity, FCC? This is it. Bunch of frickin' hypocrites.

Anyway, I'm off to shower and heading out to the Mexican place across the street for dinner. Then to bed, to bed. Or maybe play a round of Myst IV.

Anything but watch CNN.

Right Cross to the Face

Feministe has a post up about the man-hating feminist myth and the “has feminism gone too far?” argument that men like to argue about – you know: feminism must be going too far not because we’re making more money than men or are able to keep tabs on our reproductive health without legal or social consequence, but because men aren’t sure if they should open the door for us or not.

This one tugged at me because one of the architects for the project here in Denver is - let’s call him Juan – the same guy who gave all the women in the office Belgian chocolates for Christmas and forwarded all of the women in the office a hysterical “women beware” e-mail.

He’s the sort of guy who does these little things that irk me. Just these little moments where it’s like he’s trying to remind me, “You’re different than me. You’re a woman. I’m a man.” Like if he didn’t remind himself, he’d forget. I don’t mind people holding doors open for me, because I hold them open for them – it’s a politeness issue. You treat everybody around you with respect, no matter their gender. And yes, if you really like someone you’re going to probably treat them even more respectfully than you would other people. What bugs me is when guys go out of their way to show me how different I am from them, like the world will implode if I don’t get told I’m pretty for a day.

Juan gave me and the other architect a ride to the office this morning for our hotel, and stopped the car in front of the door to our building. I thought he was going to back into a parking spot, so waited.

“You can get out,” he told me, “I figured I’d drop you up front so you wouldn’t have to walk.”

Um. OK.

The other architect, of course, did not get out behind me, but waited to park with Juan and came in later.

Did I jump and scream at Juan and tell him he was weird? No.

I realized that he’d been taught certain ways to act toward women, and I let it slide.

Did it bug me?


Last night, at dinner, he made a “I get to be here with two beautiful women,” announcement. It’s a generic statement, he says such things around all women. There are guys who’ve been taught that being nice to women means speaking softly to them and telling them how pretty they are.

No, I don’t like it, but I don’t bitch to him about it. He’s operating on a different system.

Why does it bug me?

First and foremost, because we don't know each other well, I'm not attracted to him at all, I have not invited any sort of attention from him, and don't pretend that we're "close." His comments imply an intimacy that's not there, and I think it's rude.

And, more in general, when people give me “special” attention, or “special” treatment, I feel that they’re trying to highlight my difference from them. If this is a real physical difference – my graduate degree advisor was just over three feet tall, so I walked at her pace, made sure to put things within her reach – then so be it, but if it’s just a matter of, “I realize that I must acknowledge your womanliness by treating you differently than everyone else in this car with two legs,” then it feels condescending. It feels like some guy’s going out of his way to remind me that I might be taller and stronger than him, but I don’t have a dick, so I’m incapable of looking after myself.

But would I ever, ever snipe at somebody for opening a door, moving out of my way, or saying, “I’m so glad to be with such beautiful company tonight”? No. I wouldn’t. And if it was somebody I really liked and was attracted to, it wouldn’t bug me at all, because there would actually be a mutual respect and affection.

When I start bitching is when hands go where they’re not invited, and “beautiful company” becomes more explicit phrases heavily laced with sexual innuendo – or just outright sexual.

Then I’ll turn into a man-hating bitch.

In fact, I’d react to such unwanted attention in about the same manner a guy would –

A heated verbal tirade to combat the verbal violence –

And a right cross to the face the minute he touched me.

In Which the Protagonist Pretends to Work For a Living

I'm so incredibly bored. I'm an under-utilized resource.

The good news is: I'm being paid for it.

Sign Up in the Corp. Hallway:

"It is better to be careful 100 times than to get killed once."
- Mark Twain

I know I don't belong here, because I'd say:

"It is better to die once for something grand than to live a hundred years doing nothing."

I'm such the romantic.

"We Didn't Know How Bad It Was."

There are days when I’m embarrassed to be an American. Days when Americans with all of the best intentions don’t do their homework, and end up looking like idiots. Why do we keep doing this? Why do we keep going into places to “fix” things without doing our homework?

I was asked in a previous comment about whether or not “democratic” elections would improve the situation of women in Iraq. Women can vote in Zimbabwe: I don’t know that things are exactly fun and games over there. Women can vote in this country: have been able to do so for just over 80 years, but “getting the vote” didn’t immediately translate into more women’s rights. It’s taken 80 years just to get to where we are now, and we've gotten this far because we fought our fucking asses off tooth and nail every inch of the way, and continue to do so. Sure, things are better for women than in the 50s, but we’ve got a long bit of trucking to do, because we’re still trying to work in a system that says “men” and “male” are the norm, are equality, are what we’re striving for, and "men" and "masculinity" are just as fucked up and socially constructed as "woman" and "femininity."

So "equality" is a lackluster goal, when what you're comparing yourself to is just as socially constructed as you are. Not that I’ve got any sort of Grand Feminist Overthrow of the System Plan or anything. That’s why I write fiction.

In any case, “voting” doesn’t equal equality. Look at the civil rights campaign in this country. It took African Americans a hundred years to get anything like the right to vote - a hundred years after it was legally guaranteed. The people you want to control are the people you don’t let vote.

You can say a lot of bullshit in sound bites, on paper, but at the end of the day, it’s Iraqi women, not clueless Americans, who are going to have to stand up, run, fight, and come to grips with what they want. Yes, we should provide them support, open up dialogue, but you can’t tell women how to do it. You can’t tell them what they want. You go there to listen to them, not to preach. They’re likely going to be a fuck of a lot stronger than you know.

The huge Iraq problem is that it's an occupied country. You can't force democracy on an occupied country. This entire campaign has been so fucked from the beginning that I honestly find the idea of equality in Iraq as imposed by the US laughable.

It's the Iraqi women who are going to do it. But don't think for a minute that this administration gives a fuck about Iraqi women. The cluelessness of these legislators speaks volumes about what a Grand Fucking Priority the state of women in Iraq is to the United States.

The United States could give a fuck.

"WASHINGTON — It was billed as a trip to teach Iraqi women who are running for office the rudiments of campaigning. But for the members of Congress who traveled to the Middle East over the weekend, it turned out to be a harrowing lesson on the sometimes painfully high price of democracy.

The U.S. lawmakers brought with them banners, bumper stickers and T-shirts to share with their Iraqi counterparts at a two-day retreat with 20 aspiring female legislators. They quickly set aside the campaign paraphernalia when the Iraqis disclosed the grim facts of their political lives.

The biggest challenge Iraqi candidates face: how to avoid getting killed.

No shit. Who briefed these Congress members on the situation in Iraq? “Embedded” reporters working for CNN?

"In eight years as a member of Congress, I've never had an experience like this," said Rep. Kay Granger, a Texas Republican who led the congressional delegation. "These are some of the bravest women I have ever met."

Never been to an occupied country? Do you read the newspaper? Do you keep informed of how the hell the policies you’re voting on effect real people? Do you have any idea how women live in this country, let alone the one you’re cavorting around in? No? Then you should be fired. This is your fucking job.

The four House members who made the trip — three Republicans and one Democrat — came prepared to discuss the practicalities of political life: campaign tactics, and techniques for getting publicity and for getting out the vote.

They quickly realized that much of what they planned to tell the Iraqi women "didn't pertain to them," Granger said. Rep. Judy Biggert, R-Ill., who brought along her favorite campaign giveaway — a sponge bearing her name — added that after hearing the women's stories, "it seemed kind of frivolous."

Yea. Frivolous. Who briefed you on this trip? Sweet fuck, and she’s from a goddamn blue state.

Under the law setting up the Jan. 30 elections for a national assembly, which was written under American supervision, at least one-third of the candidates on the ballot must be women. That provision has provoked bloody opposition. One female candidate, Wijdan al-Khuzai, was found murdered near her Baghdad home in December.

The one-third provision is a cool one, actually. They did this in South Africa. With a national assembly, you’re voting on a party, not a candidate, so the actual party has to then fill the seats with 1/3 women. South African women fought like hell for this provision – they originally wanted ½ of all seats reserved for women (makes sense to me…), and shut down talks by stubbornly singing freedom songs and refusing to move onto another item until they got what they wanted. In the end, they got 1/3 of the seats reserved for female candidates.

They’re tough fuckin’ cookies, those South African women.

Not unlike these tough fucking Iraqi women.

As Election Day approaches, many female candidates are sending their families out of the country, said Manal Omar, who directs a program in Iraq on behalf of Women for Women International, a non-profit organization established to provide financial and other support for women in war zones. Omar said she spoke to some of the Iraqi women who attended the meetings with House members and that they were "frustrated" by the American politicians' apparent naiveté. "They were amazed (the Americans) didn't know how bad Iraq was," Omar said.

Americans are uninformed. We listen to CNN, that feeds us bullshit in short sound bites, and are far more interested in our waistlines than foreign policy (I’m not any better, you understand – how many posts do I write about weight, and how many about bombing foreign countries? Yea). But you know what, these are members of the United States fucking Congress. It’s their goddamn job to know what the hell they’re walking into. I’m pissed off at their cluelessness. The media fucking sucks.

The only soundbite from this encounter I won’t snark about:

For the Americans, it was an emotional encounter… Said Granger: "We went over there to encourage them. I think they ended up encouraging us."

As well they should.

Waking Up to CNN

Turned on CNN, and found one of the Iraqi presidential candidates using all the catch phrases, "pockets of resistance," "free and fair elections," "cival war," "if Osama Bin Laden, Zalawi and Saddam don't want us to have elections, then we have to have them," etc. My favorite, "All we have to do is make sure that 50% of Iraqis can vote. That's the number of people who vote in most western countries."

Well, no, actually, that's the number of people who choose to vote. Choosing to vote and being able to vote are different matters entirely. And the scary thing is that the US and "insurgents" get to decide *who* gets to vote.


I think they're working on the old premise of: if you lie long enough and often enough, people think it's true. Oddly enough, this does sometimes work. But there's a fine line between hope and delusion.

Next up after the break: the scandel that's rocking the world - Prince Harry dresses up as a Nazi for a party, and the government has new weight-loss tips to share with the American people.

Gag me with a spoon.

Is it any wonder I changed the channel to the cartoon network?