Friday, January 21, 2005

God Is Angry.

I would be too. Such displeasure on the state of affairs: tsunamis, gay sponges, snowstorms. I mean, it's so obvious the end is nigh.

I'll spend it curled up with my copy of On War and some hot chocolate.

It seems entirely appropriate.

Life's Great Mystery

Why is it that when my cheap headphones crap out, it's always the right headphone that craps out?

Truly, one of life's great mysteries.

Uppity Women

I'm going to lunch.

Barbara Boxer For President

If this administration is remembered, by historians, for the fuck-up it is (and as somebody with historical training, I can tell you that the verdict is well, well out at this point. We won't know for years just how the text books will write up this one. Victors write history), then I want them to remember this, too, and get this woman running for President next time around:

For the second time this month, California's junior senator has thrown a wrench into the works of the second-term White House machine. She did it two weeks ago, when she was the only senator to object to the certification of electoral votes from Ohio. And she did it this week, on the eve of George W. Bush's second inauguration, when she put hard questions to Rice and then cast a committee vote against her confirmation. Ohio's electoral votes were eventually counted, and Rice will eventually be confirmed. But largely because of Boxer, the road has been rockier than the White House had expected; the vote on Rice's confirmation will be delayed until next week so Senate Democrats can have time to debate it.

Interview excerpt, Boxer:" We live in a democracy. This isn't a monarchy. The people's opinion is very important here, and right now 58 percent of them are worried about the way this war is going. And so many people watched the hearing. I was very happy to get thousands and thousands of phone calls and e-mails and the rest. And that's what saves the country many times, the people of this country. If we start abusing power, they catch you. That's what I want to do, keep the people engaged. I was really pleased with the breadth and the depth of the questions that were asked, and I like to think that I had something to do with that."

Remember right now that she said this was fucked up, said it with her votes, in a public forum, however "inevitable" the final decision. The only senator to speak up once, one of two to stand up to Rice.

Remember that.

via BitchPh.D

In Which the Protagonist Finally Begins Quoting Oprah (C'mon, You Knew This Was Coming)

Oprah's latest is out, and work is dull, so guess what I'm reading? Our mailperson's probably thinking our house has got weird taste. Oprah, National Geographic, Shape (yea, I know, I should be subscribing to Hers, but Shape was damn cheap. When the sub. runs out, I'm switching), The Sun (some lit mag), Mother Jones, Locus, and Scientific American arrive on our doorstep each month without fail.

Being the February issue, this one's all about love, and happy hetero couples. The day they've got a couple same-sex couples in here is the day I'll feel more comfortable with it (and they have, actually, but female "friends," and in an issue where the focus is marriage... well, you know). As much as I love this magazine ("Be a better person," "Live Your Best Life," it ain't Cosmo), there are still things like that that irk me. That, and the spread about how Oprah's working on losing "the last ten pounds" with a couple other people from her office, and I'm like, "Maybe you're having trouble losing those ten pounds because you've reached a really healthy, comfortable set point. You look amazing. You feel great. Why are you doing this?"

Anyway, so it's articles on marriage. Yes, and they're all happy-ending marriages. No 20-year partnerships, no long-term "we decided *not* to get-married"s, but everybody who did the ceremony and signed the certificate. And there's a little too much chasing and freak-out going on in some of these. But it's headed toward February, and as my roomie's been pretty much living with her SO, this stuff's been on my mind more than usual. Humor me.

There was, however, an interesting little spot with Gloria Steinem. I was one of those people who, when I heard she got married, felt pretty let down and deflated. Who did I have out there that I could look up to and say, "Dude. She's not married!"

Steinem explained why she did it:

She [Steinem] said what we're all really waiting for is to become strong enough so that we can be "interdependent with another human being without giving up ourselves... Two whole beings leaning on each other equally," she said. "not one leaning more than the other." She added that we can't get interdependence "until we have experienced independence first."

As cozy as that sounds, there's something I read, I think in Greer's The Female Eunuch, about the deep comfort of knowing that the person sleeping next to you was there because they wanted to be, and not because they had nowhere else to go. And a legal piece of paper and personal words of committment spoken aren't the easiest things to undo (well, celebrities notwithstanding). I think I find the idea terrifying that I'd be sleeping next to someone merely because he or I felt trapped, and had nowhere else to go. That's not an equal partnership, to me.

Back to Mark Epstein and women growing up as "it," I found this tidbit, which struck me as sounding very familiar:

Simone was an accomplished architect, respected and successful in her field. yet in her relationships, Simone hid behind a persona that she did not feel completely in control of. She was an expert in adapting to other people's needs. Simone came across as something of an ingenue: pretty, self-effacing, caring, empathic, and more helpless than she really was. Men fell in love with her easily, and she would often find herself involved in relationships for extended periods of time with people she was not really interested in, simply because they wanted her. It was not that she was not in touch with her true feelings: She was. But her need to please was so overwhelming that she could not listen to herself for any sustained length of time. Other people had priority. She would resolve to break up with a boyfriend, fend him off for a few days or weeks, but ultimately surrender to his needs or demands... Listening to her own voice, to her own desire, carried with it the risk of offending those she was close to.... to be kind to herself, and to free those she had ensnared in her adaptive web, Simone had to hazard being mean. To desire meant to risk being offensive.

What I love about blogging, reading, education, going out into the world, is that you realize there are actually a lot of people like you, and you're not crazy (this was my big draw to feminism. I finally came into it, for real, after Clarion, when I was trying to figure out why I was writing what I was writing). Anyhow, Epstein goes on to say some really great stuff about women overcoming the "it" feeling and men overcoming the "must have `it' to be a real man" thing, and talks about love as equal partnership. And I'd roll that over not only into hetero/same-sex love, but friendships-without-sex too. If you're not all on an equal footing, if the affection isn't mutual, friendships will falter too.

Some days, I think I shouldn't read this shit, cause it's hetero-marriage-centric. Other days, I fess up to the fact that it's something that interests me, figuring out people, relationships, desire. I'm fascinated with what pulls people together, and tears them apart.

Then I was paging through Shape, and found an article that looks at finding "emotional" problems as to why you aren't losing weight, or why you put on weight. As somebody who knows herself very well, I'm clear that the two times in my life when I've put on the most weight were times when I was seeking to dissuade male attention, to un-objectify-myself because I feared that male attention. One of their suggestions for overcoming this?

Take self-defense classes.


And I'll tell you right now, if there's anybody out there like me who's noticed this same tendency: the self defense thing, feeling stronger, more capable in your own skin -- it does really, really help. Instead of trying to put a layer of fat padding and baggy clothes between you and fear, you get to look it in the face and go, "Not so scary now that I know how to throw a right cross and a front kick."

It occurs to me... that things are better.

Real Threats To American Security.


Oh, *That's* Why I'm "Picky"

Cause there are enough psychos in the world.

LOS ANGELES, California (AP) -- A former police detective who worked for Robert Blake as a private investigator testified Thursday that the actor proposed kidnapping Bonny Lee Bakley, forcing her to have an abortion, and if that did not work, "whack her."

I read too much news.

No Shit

Wow. When I posted about this months and months ago, I assumed it was a total liberal conspiracy theory. Seriously. I didn't believe they'd do it. I didn't believe they could.

Let's not give the response everyday Germans gave after WWII: know right now that you'll never, ever be able to say, "We didn't know."

WASHINGTON, Jan. 20 - Just hours before being sworn in for a second term, Vice President Dick Cheney publicly raised the possibility on Thursday that Israel "might well decide to act first" to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.

And I have to live with it. Why? Who do I fight to stop a bigger fight? Because it doesn't stop at "Just Afghanistan (Austria)" and then "Just Iraq (Poland)" it goes on and on and on until you fuck with somebody who's stronger than you. It took Roosevelt and Churchill being best buddies and rumors about Roosevelt making us take a hit so we'd come together to stop Hitler.

Who the hell stops the US?

Once More, With Feeling

Let's sum up, shall we?

"As long as there are entrenched social and political distinctions between sexes, races or classes, there will be forms of science whose main function is to rationalize and legitimize these distinctions."- Elizabeth Fee

How about: nobody knows what the fuck they're talking about. They can't even agree.

The study shows women having more white matter and men more gray matter related to intellectual skill, revealing that no single neuroanatomical structure determines general intelligence and that different types of brain designs are capable of producing equivalent intellectual performance.

And, from somebody else entirely:

Research has long shown that men's brains are larger, on average, than women's — by about 100 grams. This may partly be due to the fact that men are larger than women, on average. Plus, what men have in volume, women make up in connections between brain cells.

Further research into other disciplines will show you that men, on average, are encouraged to eat more and be more physically active than women. Girls as young as 10 in this country are encouraged to go on diets and be smaller (and anybody who's researched gender relations in other countries and cultures, women have consistently been encouraged to eat less, and have actually been given less food at the dinner table than their brothers).

When I found myself struggling with learning pre-algebra (key, key to everything else after this) in the sixth grade, I was learning from a butt-fuck misogynist of a teacher who saw that I'd gotten all but three problems on my assignment wrong and instead of saying, "Gee, maybe I should work with you after class" or "Gee, maybe I should figure out a way to explain this concept that connects with you," he said something to the immortal effect of, "Well, you know, they say girls just aren't good at math."

Him and Newt would have gotten along great.

And here's something else for you to chew on when you read these "studies":

In a wonderful book titled The Bonds of Love, the pschoanalyst Jessica Benjamin wrote of an epiphany two pschologists had whole strolling past a hospital nursery... The newborns were clustered together, each in his or her own plastic bassinet... Benjamin described the two pschologists, one of them the mother of a newborn boy, staring anxiously into the nursery... to enliven the drab sterility of the hospital enviroment, the nurses had attached to each bassinet a blue or pink card... on each blue one was written in big letter's I'M A BOY!, while on each pink one was inscribed IT'S A GIRL! The boys were "I", but the girls were "it." The boys were endowed with an instant sense of self, while the girls were treated as objects from the beginning.
- Mark Epstein, MD. "I Want, Therefore I Am."

There's a huge biological difference between men and women: most women can bear children. Men can't. Everything else, all of the social and power bullshit, the fear, the rigid categories, all of that comes from this one big, huge, basic difference.

But the rest... the rest... until I enter the world on an equal playing field, I'm going to question every damn thing that comes out of these people's mouths, because they've been brought into the world with "it" and "I" assumptions, and everything they work through will be coming from that one basic assumption.

I fight against that assumption every damn day. I have no idea how hard it must be for the "I"s to try it. Fact is, most of them don't have to. They can just say, "Girls are dumb," and push you to the back of the class.

And every day you have to get up, and sit in the front again.

EDIT: You know what really bugs me? That the first thing they say isn't, "Gosh, the way we teach math must not be working for over half the population! There must be something seriously wrong with our education system and the way we teach math! We need to have more flexible programs that connect with everybody, including women who've been taught that they're dumb by sure virtue of their birth! Maybe we should address that!"

No, no, it's much easier to wave a hand and say, "Girls aren't good at it."

UPDATE: Maureen has some thoughts.