Sunday, August 23, 2009

I'm Moving!

After years (going on ten now) as a blogger user, I'm switching over to wordpress. Still in the process, but you'll find my new posts here.

Monday, August 17, 2009

The Breast of Intentions

This is a pretty awesome series of posts over at Adventures of a Young Feminist. The posts, crafted after a senior thesis project done by Laura, are detailed around the implications of breasts in American society (and occasionally elsewhere). They touch on everything from the male gaze to breast health to breasts as sexual vs. functional. Some really good stuff.

I'm inspired by them to write again on a personal level. I've got to say that my breasts have been a major part of my experience in womanhood. I know that this is not uncommon, but I think the narratives here are important, because so much of it is dependent on so many other things.

When I was ten, my dad was revisiting his second marriage. She was never good to us, and her re-emergence in his life was painful at best. She wasn't back for long, but she was there long enough to shout menacingly from the kitchen as I played with my brother in the living room, "You really need to be wearing a bra, you know."

Fast forward six hours and I'm hiding in the corner of my own bedroom while my mom and dad argue about whether it was appropriate for her to mention it to me. The ultimate decision was no, but regardless, it was only an argument because my parents were both hesitant to recognize the fact that I was moving from girlhood to womanhood, and all that that implied. My mother, who to this day cannot say vagina in a normal tone of voice, was little help with the body confidence issues that spring up as you go from flat-chested to a C-cup in the course of a year. Granted, I had no idea what cup size I was for a long time, because the only bras I would wear were athletic. I was intent on minimizing those monstrosities on my chest, and so while the girls around me started flaunting their pert little babes, I spent middle school all squashed up and hiding under t-shirts. When I started bleeding in 8th grade, I was terrified at the pain I felt in them, certain that something was wrong with me but with nobody to ask. Thankfully the internet rolled into our living room midway through that year and I was at least able to alleviate some of the anxiety.

My sophomore year of high school I finally went with a friend and had a real bra fitting. By that point some of my peers had caught up with me, and I was a little more comfortable with the idea that they existed to begin with. I was also venturing outside of my family and into the treacherous grounds of being a small-town feminist (as mentioned in my previous post), and dealing with the body image issues and the eating disorder. All this was going on at once, but I bought a real bra, with light padding and underwire. I also bought my first formal gown and proved to myself once and for all that I could be beautiful. I have not failed to believe in at least the potential since, which has been nice for me and has certainly helped me manage the food issues better. I have certainly not starved myself to the point of delirium since then.

Of course, it was right about then that I started getting the attention. I had my first boyfriend by the middle of my sophomore year (that would last until March of my senior year and end disastrously, but that's for another day). Throughout that relationship I fended off attention from boys and men alike. My parents were so terrified that I would get pregnant that they drove me back into depression with their hatred of my adult body. Every outfit was scrutinized, and though I was generally pretty put-together and cleavage-free, my jeans were always too tight or I wasn't wearing baggy enough shirts. I took to wearing a jacket all the time. The first time anyone other than myself touched my breasts, I was 15, and he took a good forty-five minutes to work up the nerve to slide his hand from my waist to my chest. It was another year before I would lose my virginity, and at the time I felt like I was behind schedule, though afterward, of course, it was made quite clear that I had crossed a line I shouldn't have. And again, it was brought back to the way I wore my shirts.

I currently sport a D-cup and have become painfully accustomed to addressing (or ignoring, depending on the situation) the amount of uninvited attention they get. I still have a tendency to hide in t-shirts unless I'm feeling particularly plucky. I have had men ask for a great many things having to do with my breasts, most of them beyond the limits of appropriateness. I have had to repeatedly remind even my boyfriends that my breasts were mine, and therefore invitation-only. A few have respected that; a few haven't (and were pretty promptly kicked to the curb).

When I have children, I anticipate an entirely new dynamic around them. First, I am afraid of them growing, simply because they are more than I'd like to have to deal with already, and because I'm not looking forward to having extra male attention hovering around my aching chest. Second, as an avid believer in breastfeeding, I foresee dealing with American society as it currently is (since nobody vocal is doing a whole lot these days to change it). The sexualization of the breast means that using them functionally is offensive, and having dealt with the sexualization aspect, I worry about having another body crisis when they are being judged in a completely different way. I am, however, not terribly concerned about the long-term changes, which I have a pretty realistic idea of thanks to my mom (who had some radical ideas about childbirth and early childhood, despite her other forms of closetedness), so I guess there is that safe point.

This has been a major part of why I identify as queer, as well. Note that I distinguish this from straight/lesbian/bisexual, but that's really a topic for another day. In practice I am primarily heterosexual, though I have had one female partner. For me, the implications of my body for her were completely different than the implications have been for men. That different dynamic is really one of the primary reasons I don't simply identify as straight. That, and the fact that if a woman who matched me well walked into my life I wouldn't hesitate to be with her.

Now I know that my body is attractive. First because I myself happen to like it, and also because I have been told it. I have gotten positive and negative attention because of it. It's funny, because my body does not fit the typical mold for beauty. I generally chalk it up to a combination of my face and my shape, which is larger than perhaps ideal but proportional. I no longer have body image issues (most days) although I do still sometimes struggle with remembering that I do, in fact, have to eat to survive. My partner's younger cousin has a crush on me (he ranks me as a 7.5 on the Megan Fox scale, I'm told, whatever that means). I'm okay with most of it. But sometimes, it still becomes threatening. I am aware of the power and the vulnerability my body gives me.

The ends of my posts always trail off into the present. This has, as I'm sure you can gather, been a long trek. It took time and energy and hurt to get me to where I am.

For a Friend

"Afghan girls gesture while taking religious lessons at a Koranic school in a mosque in the old city of Herat on August 17, 2009. Afghanistan's showcase presidential election is facing a crisis of credibility with just days to go, as analysts warn that voters fearing threats to their safety could simply decide to stay away. Concerns about low turnout, vote buying, ballot stuffing, over-registration and backroom deals have added to threats of Taliban violence to potentially undermine the legitimacy of the election, set for August 20. AFP PHOTO/BEHROUZ MEHRI

Caption via Reading Rainbow - Afghanistan - Jezebel

[Herat, Afghanistan; August 17. Image via Getty]

(Photo credit should read BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP/Getty Images"

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Chalk it Up to the Small-Town Life

This post is a little disjointed, I'm going to warn you in advance.

Growing up where I did, feminism was a pretty silent subject. In reality, racism is still pretty rampant out here, and we're about twelve steps behind the metropolitan level of social equity (which should say something). My mom was a little bit of a free thinker, but it was made pretty obvious that this was not a way I could "be" outside of home.

I remember the first time I saw 10 Things I Hate About You, and how amazed I was that Kat could be that way around other people, and be so collected even when other people thought she was ridiculous. I wanted that power. Even through the trope that she just needed to be loved (it's a Taming of the Shrew remake, after all), I came away from that movie feeling stronger.

I haven't watched the new ABC Family show simply because so much of the movie for me was the cast in the roles they fit so well, but I found this little bit:

I was shocked (ok, maybe not shocked, but it really stuck out to me) while watching this weeks episode. For an assignment that involved writing a paper on a moment that changed your life, Kat wrote about the day that she first started reading Simone de Beauvoir's The Second Sex and became a feminist. I think that's a great paper topic. But her teacher told her it was unoriginal and that people in the space station could see she was a feminist so Kat should write about something else. Wow. Yes, people can see that she's a feminist, but being a feminist is a large part of her life, so it would make sense that she wrote about becoming a feminist as a moment that changed her life. To call that unoriginal is insulting, especially considering that a lot of the other people in the class did not write about such insightful things and are not feminists. Kat rewrote the paper about the first day that her dad bought her tampons. Her teacher was pleased and said it was good as long as it didn't end with "and then I became a feminist."

Via: Adventures of a Young Feminist: Silencing in Schools from 10 Things

I relate to that very much. In middle school I started coming into myself, and I began to develop the attitude I take so much pride in now. I'm not callous, I care about people and how they feel, but I do not care what they think of me. I will stick up for someone and I will stick up for myself. It took me a painfully long time to be able to do that.

I hit high school in 2001. We all know what happened that September. It ended up being the single defining moment of my high school social interactions. In my conservative, white, predominantly Christian, working class community, I was the only person I knew with liberal leanings. In the weeks after 9/11, I collected images from newspapers and websites of the mourning gatherings across the globe, and hung them in my locker. I still have a scrapbook of those images; those indicators of humanity. The recognition that everybody was feeling pain for us, for our indoctrination into the world of Big Terrorism.

People made nasty comments about those images, like I was unAmerican for it. When I was a sophomore, I realized I had a remarkable proficiency in languages, and I expressed an interest in diplomatic affairs. Again, this was a small school--about 500 people K-12 at the time--so there was no debate team, or Model UN group, or any of that. I was the only person I knew, apart from my civics teacher, who read the newspapers every day (unless it was the sports page). I read Mother Jones. I read the Economist. I read the New York Times instead of the local papers.

Every year, we were supposed to write essays for the American Legion's contest. I always wrote something thoughtful, generally indicating that the Founders did not create this country so we could follow our leaders without question. Without fail, my English teacher would give it back to me, ask me to revise it to be more appropriate for the contest. I would change a little, submit it, and for four years, I won that contest. I was given the American Legion scholarship when I graduated.

Yet I was the girl who was seen by my peers as unAmerican. I didn't like Bush. I drew a definite distinction between my friends and family who were serving--over 30 of them and counting, now--and the Military Industry.

I was political, I was feminist, and I did not fit in.

I went to college, and that changed. I finally had peers who I could talk to about things, and even if they didn't agree, there was discussion. It was liberating.

Now I'm back here, about to go work back in that school system, and I am nervous.

Project Implicit

Project Implicit | Select a Test

I really recommend doing a few of these.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Taking up Space

While I was watching the town hall coverage this morning (which I won't start on until I'm calmer about it), I saw two commercials I knew I needed to write about.

The first was for MultiGrain Cheerios, which I rather enjoy, but the commercial and ad campaign includes this slogan:

It's a prime segue into one of my biggest feminist thought bugs: taking up space. It's pretty common fodder in the thought process of a feminist-thinking person that women are discouraged from taking up space. It's in the weight loss thing, but also in so many other ways. As a woman, I am conscious of my tendency to step to the side of the sidewalk when someone is passing, for example. Women will frequently step aside for me, as well, but men do not. Men tend to assume their space is theirs while they occupy it, whereas women assume their space is common to everyone and are more likely to give it up. I am constantly aware of the amount of space I take up, and not just as myself but in comparison to others. Leg crossing is an example of the impulse to shrink ourselves into as much space as possible (despite the fact that it's no more comfortable for a woman to do so than that man sitting with his legs splayed).

As a project for a sociology class once, I was asked to break several folkways. Most people did silly things; we all had to choose three, and admittedly one of mine was to walk backwards. The second, I made eye contact in elevators. The primary one, however, was to refuse to step aside on the sidewalk. I did not take up more than the right side of the path; I did not walk arm-in-arm or anything that would otherwise make my passage awkward for others. I simply refused to step off the path to let others pass me.

At best, I got dirty looks. I was called a bitch, I was shoulder-bumped. It was unpleasant at best, and not only that, but it made me immensely uncomfortable to try it. To simply walk on the path, when others were approaching, made me uncomfortable.

To me, that says something.
As does an add that encourages women to eat a food that creates "less you."

For So Many Reasons

My heart is breaking today.

I cried watching the town hall coverage on CNN. I can only think of the Jefferson quote, "I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just." I can't believe the levels of insensitivity and selfishness and outright callousness people are displaying on this issue. And then I realize that I can believe it, and that hurts more--when did I stop expecting people to care about one another?

A one-time friend is also having a difficult time (she's been diagnosed with the same disorder that killed her brother two years ago), and although it's a manageable thing, I know she is terrified and hurting. Yet with the circumstances between us being the way they are, there is nothing I can do. I called her and offered help if she needed it but was, as expected, brushed off with a "thanks but I'm ok." I am sad about the schism between us, and about what is happening to her. I don't know how to tell her how sorry I am. I don't think she'd be able to forgive me, even if I did.

I am also trying very hard to formulate ideas for my graduate application essays, and am stuck between getting all feminist and going into information access and literacy education as a means of empowerment, and just being all trope-y and saying the "right" things. If I do the former it's bound to be a less coherent essay, for sure, because I'm going to be stretching into new ideas, but it will also be much more potent. The latter will be smoother but less impressive in content. I know that both matter.

Also I was up until 5 again talking to the fellow about everything under the sun (and moon), and I'm tired, and just PMS-y enough to realize it. Bugger all.

Do You Have Any Idea...

A couple nights ago, I had gone over to the house of my dear friends to celebrate my engagement and was coming home late. I was almost home, standing at the corner waiting for the light to change, when a man approached me.

Guy: Excuse me?
Me: Yes? What?
Guy: What's your name again?
Me: I didn't tell you my name.
Guy: Oh, well, hi. What's your name? [holds out hand]
Me: Look, I don't want to tell you my name, and I don't want to talk.
Guy: Why not?
Me: It's late. [looks at phone] It's 12:30 am. I don't want to talk to you.
Guy: But I'm just being friendly. [holds out hand again] What's your name?
Me: Do you have any idea what it's like to be walking around as a woman in this city, late at night? It's scary. It's late and I want to get home and I don't want to talk to you.
Guy: [stares at me]

[stares some more]
[backs away]
[retracts his hand]

Guy: I can respect that.
Me: Thank you. Have a good night. [light changes, I cross the street and go home]

It was really bizarre—I could really see him actually considering, what is it like to be a woman walking around late at night in the city, trying to get home? Answer: it's scary, and it scary enough that you don't want to talk to anyone you don't know, no matter who they are or what they're about.

Via Bitch, PhD

Friday, August 14, 2009

Death Panels?

So I hate Sarah Palin.
She's nuts. She's a pathological liar (which I've written about before, albeit briefly). But she's really gone off the deep end on this death panel nonsense. First off, I get really tired of hearing people frame healthcare socialization (not that I foresee that being an option in the end) as a "lack of choice." I don't have choice now. My parents even WITH insurance have no choice of doctors, or surgeons, or anything. They have their one covered provider network, which is small (rural living at its finest), and that's all.

But worse, much worse, is this malarkey that she's pushing. And then defending, repeatedly, as if it has any merit.

It's a potshot, a clear attempt to destroy any chance of real reform, and for what purpose? What the hell is the point of making it impossible for ANYTHING productive to be done?

I'm cranky. And I've already had more coffee than I needed and a run today, so I'm stuck being cranky for the time being. Pah. I think I'm done blogging for today because I'm ceasing to make sense.

Out Of Many: One - Pakistan independence day - Jezebel

"Pakistani girls sing national songs during the Independence Day ceremony celebrations in Islamabad on August 14, 2009. Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on August 14 vowed to win the war against terrorism as Pakistan celebrated its 62nd anniversary of independence with prayers and a national minute of silence, low-key festivities for a country in the grip of political and religious turmoil. AFP PHOTO/AAMIR QURESHI (Photo credit should read AAMIR QURESHI/AFP/Getty Images)"

Via Out Of Many: One - Pakistan independence day - Jezebel

Damon Weaver Gets His Interview

UK To Request Photo Editing Disclaimers

The British Parliament is recommending, as part of their list of ways to improve the situation of the United Kingdom's women, that advertisements that have been photoshopped included a disclaimer and a description of what has been done to the photo. Not to end photoshopping, necessarily, so people like the editor of Kelly Clarkson's SELF cover can keep doing their inspirational artistic work. I say good on you, MPs.

""What we would like is a disclaimer,'' Jo Swinson, a member of Parliament who worked on the report, told me this week. "Not necessarily a standard disclaimer, but a sentence basically saying what has been done to the photograph. Has the waist been nipped in? Have the thighs been slimmed down? We'd like to ban Photoshopping all together in adverts aimed at children, because they're particularly vulnerable.''"

An altered Madonna, and other celebrities - The Boston Globe

talking racism

Every morning (and evening, most days) I open my 30-tab blogroll and read NPR, Salon, NYTimes, Jezebel, and then all of my favorite blogs. Chrome gets mad at me every time, popping up an "are you sure you want to open 30 tabs?!?" warning.

Of course I do, Chrome. Because I often find gems like this. Click through; it's an "interview" posted by the folks at We Are Respectable Negroes, and it talks about white racism and privilege from a slightly different perspective than usual.

I've heard it come up more often recently, just how much of the anger over healthcare and everything is based on race. Most of the punditry is quick to dismiss the idea, reflecting on the failure of healthcare reform during the Clinton administration, when there were White People in the office. Clearly there can't be a race issue at hand if the same idea failed when white people had it (not that the comparison as justification idea has ANY racist tendencies, of course).

Frankly, though, I don't remember this kind of rage happening when Hillarycare was on the table. And that's also not the only issue where it's coming up, just the loudest. The Birthers (intent on othering), the Tea Baggers (worst name for a dissent group I've ever heard), and the people toting guns to town hall meetings--all of that reeks of white privilege.

As I've said before: go take a bath.

Via stuff white people do: think that racism is dead, and from Respectable Negroes:

WARNNN: ...what exactly do you mean when you say that you’ve been “flattened” and “dumbed down?”

Racism: I really just mean that the criteria for what qualifies as racism has been changed to benefit white people: the bar has been raised impossibly high for whites, lowered for everyone else.

WARNNN: In what way? Can you elaborate?

Racism: Nowadays, only biological white supremacy, racial slurs (especially the “N’ word”), and explicit racial violence will get a white person labeled a racist. Therefore, many whites respond to charges of racism by saying things like, “I’m not a racist…Some of my best friends are black…I’ve never enslaved any black people or terrorized them with dogs and firehoses…I’ve never burned a cross on a black family’s lawn or called anyone ‘Nigger.’” You see? Nazis and Klansmen are the only racist whites from this perspective. This isn’t the only view, but it’s been the default for decades.

On the other hand, look at how conservatives have co-opted Civil Rights language to depict members of the black left as “racists.” I mean, in just the last week, these people have charged Obama, Sotomayor, and Skip Gates with racism. In some formulations, merely mentioning race and racial injustice gets you slapped with the racist label. Think about how, in the eyes of most whites, the Panthers, Malcolm, Reverend Wright—indeed, all blacks who offer savage critiques of white supremacy—are racists on par with David Duke.

TGIF, man.

KABUL, AFGHANISTAN - AUGUST 12: Aisha, four-months-old, is held by her mother listening to a speech by Afghan presidential candidate Dr. Asraf Ghani during a rally focusing on women August 12, 2009 in Kabul, Afghanistan. Behesta came with her mother to the event where hundreds of women turned up to support the candidate. Afghanistan's presidential elections are to be held on August 20. Kabul August 12, 2009 in Afghanistan. Dr. Ghani is considered is one of the top 5 presidential contenders but not likely to win. (Photo by Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)
Via Eyes Wide Open - Afghanistan election - Jezebel

Thursday, August 13, 2009

And Another One

Again, I don't have much to add, unfortunately, but this is really thought-provoking. Also, it talks about Dollhouse, which as a Joss Whedon creation I'm compelled to at least follow, and Sarah Haskins. I have a huge crush on her, so there is that.

Alas, a blog | Blog Archive | November and Sarah Haskins: "The women screaming and rioting in the 100 calorie oreo advertisement will only resonate with a woman who believes she should take up no space. Comparing yoplait to a private island makes sense only if you think you should be denying yourself the sustenance and pleasure that comes from food and yoghurt is as good as it gets."

three rivers fog � On mental illness

This is another one of those posts that I'm just going to link to, because it's more eloquent than I know how to be:

three rivers fog � On mental illness: "One very popular idea about mental illness, which was shown throughout the “Emails” thread, is that one can separate out “the illness” from “the person” — and that any unsavory actions or behaviors can be attributed to “the illness.” That makes it OK, because it’s not the actual person inside making those decisions to act in those ways, but some vague, faceless, soulless thing that infects them.

This, of course, is a tactic to remove agency from the mentally ill person. A family member may latch onto this idea as a form of comfort, a way to identify with “the real person” inside their loved one’s body, which is separate from “the illness” which is what did things that harmed them."

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


"How could she?" Well, I have a theory | Salon Life: "So if we're going to judge something, why not judge alcoholism -- instead of pointing the finger at one sad criminal alcoholic. Let's mourn for the innocents who died on July 26, and let's redouble our energy toward saving some of the 36 innocents who will be killed by drunk driving today and every other day. I believe that alcoholism is a force of evil in our world. It kills the alcoholic in uniquely ugly ways, but it also kills, maims and damages millions of innocent families and children. Driving drunk with a child in the car is child abuse, and too many children are subjected to it as a normal part of their lives. If there is a devil, he must be chortling at the way we outlaw smoking and revile obesity all the while having a glass of wine to take the edge off before we pick up the kids at camp."

I can't even begin to write about this.
I just...can't. The whole thing is too painful. I do agree with Cheever, though, in that damning this one incident while completely overlooking totally commonplace alcohol abuse is irresponsible at best.

Cultural (mis)Appropriation

Burqa Tourism at its Finest: How to Become an Expert on Muslim Women in Just One Week | Muslimah Media Watch

Scathing analysis of the current trend in British media (and law enforcement) to "understand the plight of Muslim women in the UK" by donning burqa/niqab for a short time with, of course, no other attempt and understanding anything other than the attire. Worth a read.

A Slight Problem in Rhetoric

So I read this article on this morning, and had to do a double take:

McChrystal: Give Taliban Fighters A Political Voice : NPR: "'I would absolutely be comfortable with fighters and lower-level commanders making the decision to reintegrate into the Afghan political process under the Afghan constitution,' McChrystal says."

Look. I agree with the guy. I'm of the opinion, when it comes to foreign countries, that a. sovereignty should be respected apart from egregious human rights violations, b. that people should be able to choose their leaders, even if those leaders are not friendly with me, and c. that IF a group is taking care of their people, in the way that their people want, and NOT committing egregious human rights violations, then that is a legitimate and sovereign leadership. I use this argument in discussions about Hezbollah, so if lower level Taliban members can create a functional system that isn't oppressive (which is admittedly questionable when dealing with the Taliban but not unheard of), then they should be able to do so.

On the other hand, I have family members over there, fighting a war that has absolutely no solidified goal. What would victory in the Middle East look like? What would winning the "War on Terror" actually entail? I have yet to receive an explanation, let alone an adequate one. Eradication of terrorism is not something that can be done through war (if it can be done at all, which history shows is very unlikely). People will fight oppression, violently if necessary. They will also try to impose their will on others, again, violently if necessary.
So the issue therein is that if the SINGLE clearly defined current target of the American war industry is allowed to do this, then why were we there to begin with??
The question remains even if they're not, of course, because I'm largely against the idea of a war that can't be given a goal, but now even the flawed rationale behind it is just becoming that much more convoluted and screwed up.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Breaking the Internet

So everyone's noticed this, but apparently nobody else is as worried about it as I am.

I mean, if it's that simple to interrupt operations on social networking sites, it can't be terribly difficult to interrupt operations on more vital systems.

The attacks and their aftermath show just how vital Web tools and services are becoming to political discourse — and how vulnerable they are to disruption.

“They aren’t set up to play the role of a global communications network, but very quickly they’ve come to represent that,” said John Palfrey, a law professor and co-director of Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society.

Professor Main Target of Assault on Twitter -

Friday, August 7, 2009

The Cradle of North America

I love localized history. In college, I took the Illinois history class even though it was technically part of the social studies educator curriculum, simply because I was fascinated (and I knew the teacher would make it a trip worth taking). I've visited Cahokia twice now, and was the only person in that class, teacher included, who had been there. It's definitely a disorienting experience, because due to the simplified history given in public schools in this country we have a tendency to think of the North American native people as either hut-inhabiting or nomadic. The presence of this massive city (speculations are that it was approximately the size of MODERN London) down in the mid-western bottoms--just northeast of St Louis-- is really pretty mind blowing.

Which is probably precisely why it's so interesting. History book history is so bereft of the truths that history can show us, and the American narrative especially so.

New discoveries indicate even more complexity to this society that completely dissipated (died out or assimilated, but certainly collapsed) long before Europeans showed up around here. By the time any white person was here, the city was nothing but a few (admittedly massive) mounds of earth and a perplexing circle of deep holes that had mostly filled in.

Sacrificial virgins of the Mississippi | Salon Books

Purge: Rehab Diaries

New Author Speaks Up For The "Not Otherwise Specified" - Eating Disorders - Jezebel:

Nicole Johns doesn't look like she has an eating disorder, and for a long time that was a problem. She was diagnosed as having EDNOS, or an Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified.

"'You can have an eating disorder at any weight, you can be overweight, underweight, average weight. It doesn't matter. It's not all about the weight.' — Nicole Johns, author of a book on her experiences with ED"

I almost cried when I read this quote. It's so frustrating for me to know that when I went weeks without eating in high school nobody even cared--and many of those that noticed the weight loss were HAPPY because I was "finally paying attention to my weight." There's only one person to whom I've even admitted that it was anything other than a stomach bug.

Alright America

You all need to review the constitution if you're going to talk about it. I don't care too terribly if you misinterpret it, but you at least need to be interpreting the whole thing and not just your 8th grade civics class version of things.

I'll even give you a copy, free of charge.

Any questions?

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Nope, definitely not going to get to them.

I'll finish the draft tonight I think. I'm still trying to figure out just what exactly I'm going to pull from that video clip.

Believe It

No, not you • This is my religion: "This morning I took a woman and her 5 kids to the bus stop so they can try to get out of town before her partner finds them, again. Later I held the baby of a woman with bruises on her face while she tried to figure out how long she could stay with her husband before he killed her, because she needed a little more time to get it together before going out on her own. Now tonight I am in the hospital holding hands with a woman while they collect evidence from her sexual assault, because her boyfriend was “too annoyed” to stay in the room with her. And I am thinking- this is my religion. This is how I interact with the world.
Sometimes people ask me, “isn’t it stressful to be surrounded by so much suffering all the time?” I don’t understand this question. We are all surrounded by the same amount of suffering. We are all profiting from and losing to the same culture. Ignoring it never made me happy. Addressing it does."

I honestly cried at this.
I've got a draft post sitting in queue and eight news articles I want to write about. I just don't know if I'm going to get to them.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Khuda Ke Liye

So S sent me this clip the other day. I've been trying to write about it since then, but I can't even decide which topic to pull from it.

Check the tags, I guess, to see what the options were. It's about half of the tags I even have.

Also, the wikipedia and imdb pages about the movie. I'd like to see the whole thing, to be honest, because this little section hit me so hard.

"demarriage" and French PACS

This post is two steps removed from its original source, since it's a guest post on a blog that's not mine. It's written by Barry from Baslow's Electric OmniumGatherum, cross-posted at Women's Glib. The whole post is worth a read, for the anecdotal aspect, but the part that really caught my attention was the reference to the French PACS, short for pacte civil de solidarité.

"[it] is a form of civil union between two adults (same-sex or opposite-sex) for organising their joint life. It brings rights and responsibilities, but less so than marriage. From a legal standpoint, a PACS is a “contract” drawn up between the two individuals, which is stamped and registered by the clerk of the court. In some areas, couples signing a PACS have the option of undergoing a formal ceremony at the City Hall identical to that of civil marriage. Individuals who have registered a PACS are still considered “single” with regard to family status for some purposes, while they are increasingly considered in the same way as married couples are for other purposes."

Barry notes correctly that PACS are not regarded in the same way as marriage in France, in that family status of PACS signatories is still considered single, and PACS signatories without marriage licenses (namely same-sex couples) cannot adopt. But it's certainly something, in that a lot of the legal crap regarding healthcare and estate dispute that same-sex couples deal with here can be avoided in France if there is a PACS involved.

I'm in agreement with Barry that I would REALLY like a way to recognize the legal aspects of a marriage-type union without the religious and pseudo-moralistic connotations. For those who wish to ascribe religious significance to their union, why not, but not every marriage has anything religious about it. Not to mention the fact that the pseudo-religious regulations about marriage in the US are definitely Christianized in ways that, constitutionally, have no business in legislation.
Gave myself up to a real life person.
It's making me nervous.

Hello, S. Be kind.
There are three other posts about you.

Befriend a Raven

It's a personal goal of mine to try to read through things and identify the sources of problems within the unit as close to myself as possible. Where am I responsible? Generally this expands to "how are people like me, people that I identify with and am like, responsible," but it boils down to the same thing--what can I do? I'm not a big fan of scapegoating, and I try to avoid it.

Right now, I can find it. I can call it. I can notice it. That's the beginning. A realization that there are no heroes and villains in the world. Only people, doing things that they generally thing they're doing for the right reasons. If we're ever going to fix the problems, we need to change some deep-seated attitudes, not just remove people from the equations. There is no "good" violence or "bad" violence, only violence, which we can choose on societal terms to excuse or not. The choice, however, does not change the meaning of violence.

If we could read the secret history of our enemies, we should find in each man's life sorrow and suffering enough to disarm hostility. - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Search Terms

I'm apparently still new enough to not have creepy search terms bring me up. I'm always fascinated, though, with seeing how people are finding me.

These are my top 8:

overheard in chicago
xinjiang war
face up salon
room salon
overheard chicago
war room salon
burqa ban
not too excess

I don't know why I get linked on "overheard in Chicago" since I don't think I've mentioned any of that. The rest make sense.

Things Go On

Ahmadinejad Sworn In As Iran President Amid Crisis : NPR:
"Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was sworn in Wednesday for a second term as president nearly two months after a disputed election triggered massive street protests, split Iran's clerical leadership and brought attacks from within his own conservative camp over mistreatment of detained opposition activists."

I've written on this before. I think that this is the beginning of a change, despite everything, and I think that it's how it has to be for now. It's still not a fantastic end to the story.

Freed Journalists Home In U.S. After N. Korea Pardon : NPR

Freed Journalists Home In U.S. After N. Korea Pardon : NPR

Watched this on Faux this morning (my stepfather has a weird penchant for that station that I cannot fathom), and I cried. I have a thing for reunions. When Lee saw her daughter it was just beautiful.

In case you hadn't been following the story, a quick version:
The reporters were granted a pardon by North Korea on Tuesday, following rare talks between Clinton and the reclusive North Korea leader. Ling and Lee had been arrested near the North Korean-Chinese border in March while on a reporting trip for Current TV and sentenced to 12 years of hard labor for entering the country illegally.

What does Obama's health care bill cover?

Health Care Reform: The Beach-Reader Edition | The Root

"A midsummer status report on the big debate boiled down to the bare essentials"

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Another Little Tidbit

Found at On Being a No-Name Blogger Using Her Real Name � Kate Harding’s Shapely Prose:

"You, dear male reader, are totally not one of those men. I know this, and I appreciate it. I really do. But here’s where all this victimy girl shit concerns you:

**every time you don’t tell your buddies it’s not okay to talk shit about women, even if it’s kinda funny;
**every time you roll your eyes and think “PMS!” instead of listening to why a woman’s upset;
**every time you call Ann Coulter a tranny cunt instead of a halfwit demagogue;
**every time you say any woman–Coulter, Michelle Malkin, Phyllis Schlafly, Condoleezza Rice, Hillary Clinton, Britney Spears, Paris Hilton, any of us–”deserves whatever she gets” for being so detestable, instead of acknowledging there are things that no human being deserves and only women get;
**every time you joke about how you’ll never let your daughter out of the house or anywhere near a man, ’cause ha ha, that’ll solve everything;
**every time you say, “I don’t understand why thousands of women are insisting this is some kind of woman thing”;
**every time you tell a woman you love she’s being crazy/hysterical/irrational, when you know deep down you haven’t heard a word she’s said in the past 15 minutes, and all you’re really thinking about is how seeing her yell and/or cry is incredibly unsettling to you, and you just want that shit to stop;
**every time you dismiss a woman as “playing the victim,” even if you’re right about that particular woman…

You are missing an opportunity to help stop the bad guys.

You’re missing an opportunity to stop the real misogynists, the fucking sickos, the ones who really, truly hate women just for being women. The ones whose ranks you do not belong to and never would. The ones who might hurt women you love in the future, or might have already."

And later:

But please listen, and please trust me on this one: you have probably, at some point in your life, engaged in that kind of talk with a man who really, truly hates women–to the extent of having beaten and/or raped at least one. And you probably didn’t know which one he was.
And that guy? Thought you were on his side.

I've found a few of these today. They're powerful. Go. Go read them.

Another post about rape � Fugitivus

(Used her title as a trigger warning)

Came across this in the blogosphere tonight. It's pretty intense and I really recommend you read the whole thing.
Another post about rape � Fugitivus: "if women are raised being told by parents, teachers, media, peers, and all surrounding social strata that:

it is not okay to set solid and distinct boundaries and reinforce them immediately and dramatically when crossed (”mean bitch”)
it is not okay to appear distraught or emotional (”crazy bitch”)
it is not okay to make personal decisions that the adults or other peers in your life do not agree with, and it is not okay to refuse to explain those decisions to others (”stuck-up bitch”)
it is not okay to refuse to agree with somebody, over and over and over again (”angry bitch”)
it is not okay to have (or express) conflicted, fluid, or experimental feelings about yourself, your body, your sexuality, your desires, and your needs (”bitch got daddy issues”)
it is not okay to use your physical strength (if you have it) to set physical boundaries (”dyke bitch”)
it is not okay to raise your voice (”shrill bitch”)
it is not okay to completely and utterly shut down somebody who obviously likes you (”mean dyke/frigid bitch”)
If we teach women that there are only certain ways they may acceptably behave, we should not be surprised when they behave in those ways.

And we should not be surprised when they behave these ways during attempted or completed rapes."

MSG Speaks Truth

growing up in mississippi in the 1980/90’s racism was a way of life. in my experience it wasn’t something that was discussed because there was nothing to talk about. it just was. i never once had a classmate of a different race. i never had a teammate of a different race. i never had a neighbor of a different race. the only time i can remember this not being the case was when an asian family joined our church. at the time i didn’t know anything was different or if this wasn’t the case everywhere because that was all i knew. while i never heard anything hateful in my home, i heard it every where else. teachers at school would make it a point to say something degrading about black students and failing grades. at stores, i distinctly remember grown men making awful comments and at one point even pushing ladies down because they weren’t moving fast enough. i saw a lot, nothing like the 20 years before but enough to make you sick.

when you are a child you are taught to do one of two things when these things happen in front of you. either join in or keep your head down and walk away. never to stand up for what is right. because if you stood up for anyone outside the white race you were grouped with the people being beat down and you yourself were then pushed to the ground. i was never one to join in. i was the kid that kept her head down and walked away. and for that i am full of regret. i should have done something, i should have said something. but at the time i didn’t know that was an option.

i do believe that there is a part of you that is controled and formed by your environment. but only a part. i had every opportunity to be that person who joined in and believed the hate and abuse was what ‘they had coming.’ but there is a choice people have to make to understand right and wrong, to understand human suffering and to see that we are all actually just the same. luckily for me, i was taken out of that environment and i was able to see the difference. i was able to understand that this wasn’t just how it was. but i honestly believe that if i stayed in mississippi through high school i would still be that girl that kept her head down and walked away. because i had no one to show me how to stand up and fight against it. i had no one to show me that was an option.

although mississippi has come a long way since then it is still, in my opinion, not anywhere near being where it should be. and while there are no excuses for any type of hate, people have to be shown how to stand up to it. it is not mississippi’s fault or problem. it is every ones problem. it is up to everyone to say it is not ok and to stand up to it. every single time. no matter how slight or seemingly harmless. because until it is completely gone we are all at fault and we are all responsible for changing it."

Monday, August 3, 2009

Public Baffled By Health Care Arguments : NPR

Public Baffled By Health Care Arguments : NPR

Alright, so I have a problem with the healthcare debates. My issue, in general, is that nobody's talking about healthcare reform. They're talking about health INSURANCE reform. They're trying to extend insurance coverage, not availability of care.

Let me tell you that I could afford monthly insurance premiums so that I could, at least, see a doctor without having to go to the ER. I could. But I don't, because those low-cost premiums would cover NOTHING, and I couldn't afford the medical bills. So yes, I might be able to get in and get a prescription, which is more than I can say in my currently uninsured state, but I would have to declare bankruptcy for anything more than a routine physical. I had a problem in my internal girly bits last year, which involved bloodwork and some other things, and even WITH the great insurance I still had through my dad, I had to pay over $400 for the extra work. And that wasn't even a serious problem, just one of those things where you need to rule things out.

Nobody's talking about making problems like that go away. They're talking about INSURANCE. I had insurance, and I still didn't go to the hospital when I (probably) broke my ankle because I wouldn't be able to afford the deductible.

What we need to be talking about is reforming the healthCARE system, not the health INSURANCE system. And we're not, not really.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Well There's A Good Call, Governator...

Stumbled on this gem via Feministing: Schwarzenegger eliminates funding for DV shelters - Feministing

Ok, so I'm obviously appalled. There's a surprise, right? Zip's blogging about something, she's probably bloody incensed.

I've needed those places. I've worked in those places. On both sides, there's enough tough shit attitude to deal with even when there's enough money to do the work and do it right.
There are appropriate places to cut budgets. There's even a little wiggle room to decrease funding for shelters, as long as money has to come from other places, too. I realize that California is in dire straights, budget-wise. But to cut 100% of funding for such a vital service is beyond financial management. It's the kind of action that brings to mind feudal England, or...I don't even know. Imaginary lands in post-apocalyptic scenarios. It's unfathomable as a legitimate idea. It's on par with saying "ok, we're broke, let's euthanise all the old people." We're a developed country. What the hell?

I don't know where these shelters are going to make up the difference in their operating budgets. Like the previously linked article, many or most of them probably won't.

If you're a CA resident, there's an action alert out at Here in the Midwest, all I can do is complain and hope somebody with clout hears it.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Apparently, it's a trend.

8-Year-Old Victim Blamed for Her Own Rape | Womanist Musings

As Renee said,
The family is from Liberia and much has been made of the foreignness of their cultural beliefs. Let me make it clear from the outset, that it is never acceptable to blame the victim, however; painting this family as a bunch of ignorant foreigners who are not as civilized as Americans is extremely problematic.

Twice in ten minutes. Awesome.

Because of course, Americans never blame the victim in sexual assault cases.

Let's join the scapegoat party, shall we?

On June 30, four Canadians were found in their car in the water near the Kingston Mill locks in Ontario. Originally deemed an accident, the parents and brother of the three girls (19, 17, and 13) and the ex-husband of the older woman (50) were later accused of murder.

These things happen, right? It's terrible, but women get killed by their families all the time.

But then, the girls were Zainab, Sahar, and Geeti Shafia, and the older woman was Rona Amir Mohammed.

Suddenly the story looks a little different, doesn't it? These women were (purportedly) killed by their father/ex husband and brother/stepson.

So suddenly, it's an honor killing. Did your mind make that leap?

In the article on Jezebel, I found this comment, which says what I'm feeling pretty well:
"I'm confused. Are honor killings acceptable according to Islam? I didn't think they were.

Assuming the first wife's sister is correct about the motivation for the murder, I think people like to call it something else so that it seems removed from our own culture, when in reality violence against women (including words) because they refuse to be what the men around them believe they should be happens everywhere. But if we call it something else and say it's motivated by their culture/religion, it's not our problem too."
(emphasis mine)

I am seething.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


As it turns out, I don't think I'm going to go back and write that post. Consider it a link, I guess.

I've had a lot going on. I hope to get some posting done tomorrow, but we'll have to see. I also need to go turn in some paperwork for my new job, which requires a few hours and excessive grooming. I've grown far too accustomed to my yoga pants this summer, and all of my clothes are much too large all of a sudden. I hadn't even realized I wasn't eating until I tried to put on pants without a string. I need to get back on top of that before my high school ED resurfaces. Of all the ways in which living back at home has impacted me, this is the most problematic. It is much too easy to avoid food out here. This was good when I just wanted to drop my midnight pizza weight; it's not so good when I realize I've lost weight noticeably in just a couple of weeks.

This isn't something I usually talk about, and nobody asks (nobody worries when a chubby girl isn't eating, you know). However, I got sick this week and I know it's because I've been doing a number on my body and my immune system. I may or may not be back regularly until I figure out what's bringing this about and get it resolved.

I do hope to post sometimes, though. Once a day would even be fair (since before I was posting three or four).

Okay. Off I go again.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


BBC NEWS | Europe | Russian activist 'found murdered'

Will be writing about this soon*. Stay tuned.

*and by soon, I probably mean Thursday afternoon.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Privilege, Language, and Dialogue in Identity

In recent posts at Feministe, Womanist Musings, Women's Glib, and a few other spots, the discussion of labels has been heated and torn apart. It's a difficult issue for me, because it's one of those things where staging a dialogue isn't acceptable, but there are so many viewpoints on it that it's hard to handle. My own comments were as privileged as the original post, and I took all the criticisms therein as if they were directed at me.

I'm new to this, frankly, and I have a hard time handling it. Not the feminism, but the intersectionality of equity movements and how they work against each other. The roots of my feminism are academic, and so are inherently based around a privileged class and a privileged viewpoint. I am accustomed to discussing things round-table style, under the assumption that a discussion between people is the fairest way to hash this stuff out. So when I began asking and was quickly privilege-checked for expecting others to educate me, it was painful in a way that I haven't totally recovered from--a sure sign of the privilege associated with the issue.

The heart of the matter, I suppose, is that you can't check your privilege at the door. It isn't a jacket; it's more like your scent. It will follow you around the party wherever you go, and while some may think it's a lovely scent, others may find it downright appalling. That's the point. If you're being smart about it, you don't bathe in acrid fragrances before you leave the house. You realize that what you were born with may be offensive enough, and maybe you try to minimize it by showering regularly.

And when someone tells you that you stink, by God, go take a bath. Don't argue that you've got the most wonderful perfumes on and they should realize the care you put into your preparations for the evening.

So here it is, on the table: I'm white, female, cis, abled (I have a visible skin condition that occasionally affects the way people interact with me but doesn't debilitate me on most days), queer, young, middle-class. I am pretty high-tier on privilege ladder.

Sometimes I get it wrong. I don't ask you to excuse this. In fact, I'd much rather be called out on it. If you can bear to be nice, great. If not, I'll take that, too.

A few thoughtful posts on the matter (I'll add more as I come across them; this post may end up permalinked):

Kittywampus: What Intersectionality is and Isn't
Echidne of the Snakes: Culture and Privilege
What Tami Said: Nobody knows the troubles of a black womanist blogger in the white femisphere
Womanist Musings: Can a White Woman Be a Womanist?
Womanist Musings: The Name of This Blog Is
Womanist Musings: Womanism/Feminism Feminism/Womanism
Global Comment: Clean Up Feminism, Then We'll Talk

A lot of those are womanist discussions, which is both positive and negative, because while feminism has been exclusive of women of color, womanism has itself had a tendency to primarily include black women. Neither is truly inclusive of trans issues, among other things. In either case, there is a lot at stake and a great many balls in play on this court. Privilege, again, has determined who is playing and who is in the stands.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Jimmy Carter and The Elders--Edited to Add a Link

"This view that women are somehow inferior to men is not restricted to one religion or belief. It is widespread. Women are prevented from playing a full and equal role in many faiths.

Nor, tragically, does its influence stop at the walls of the church, mosque, synagogue or temple. This discrimination, unjustifiably attributed to a Higher Authority, has provided a reason or excuse for the deprivation of women's equal rights across the world for centuries. The male interpretations of religious texts and the way they interact with, and reinforce, traditional practices justify some of the most pervasive, persistent, flagrant and damaging examples of human rights abuses."

(via The words of God do not justify cruelty to women | Jimmy Carter in The Observer)

The Elders
(Jimmy Carter was US president from 1977-81. The Elders are an independent group of eminent global leaders, brought together by Nelson Mandela, who offer their influence and experience to support peace building, help address major causes of human suffering and promote the shared interests of humanity.)


From Kate Harding’s Shapely Prose:
"Seriously, that’s like, um, kind of the whole freaking plot of the Bible, over and over and over and over and over again. The guardians of order say, with some plausible reason, “These are the conditions necessary for God to find favor with people!” And then God says, “Aww, nice try, mates, and I can totally see how you got there… but turns out I’m not so simple. ‘Scuse me a sec… Hey, you outcasts over there! Come join the party!”"

Really, this entire article is an intensely accurate description of why I haven't been able to give up my faith, despite its bastardization at the hands of some (a great many, sadly) unnamed parties.

Anonymity and Identity

Foreign Policy: Iran's Terrifying Facebook Police : NPR

"Second, it means, as far as authorities are concerned, our online and offline identities are closely tied and we have to be fully prepared to be quizzed about any online trace that we have left (I can easily see us being asked our Facebook and Twitter handles in immigration forms; one of the forms I regularly fill flying back to the US has recently added a field for email address)."

For this particular blog, I have a created identity. No, it wouldn't be difficult to make the connection between this and my "real" persona if you had any indication of the link previously, but I use an assumed name, and any contact information given here is connected to this faux-identity and not my "true" one. I do this for many reasons, one of them being that my ideal future is one in which thoughts like this might be questioned at the entry-levels and I don't want to find myself in 20 years inextricably linked to what I wrote today.

The mere fact that I have a created identity is because I am afraid of things like this happening. I thought this a few weeks ago when the issue arose with job seekers in Montana, and it's been reinforced here.

For many people, online identities are an escape from their "actual" personas. Even for those whose online image is similar to their offline one, the online can be more revealing than we would generally be with coworkers or police officers.

To what extent are you represented by your online self? Would the image your online self projects interfere with your offline life? Are the borders between the two fading?

Primer on the Ideas for New Healthcare

Quick details on single-payer, public option, and the other ideas floating around the healthcare reform table.

Healthcare for dunces | Salon News

How 'Bout That Economy?

When will the recovery begin? Never | Salon: "The X marks a brand new track -- a new economy. What will it look like? Nobody knows. All we know is the current economy can't 'recover' because it can't go back to where it was before the crash. So instead of asking when the recovery will start, we should be asking when and how the new economy will begin. More on this to come."

I have some tentative hopes that this economic disaster will have the power to, eventually, bring about some real change in the overall outlook of society. We might just realize that trickle-down economics don't work, that social programs are not of the devil, and that the celebrity worship we've been engaging in, with the accompanying consumerism and overspending to mimic lavish lifestyles beyond our means, was simply foolish.

I am afraid of what this shift will entail, but hope to see the outcome before it's too late to appreciate it.

Sunday, July 12, 2009


And still our vote mattered | Salon News:
"Asking where our vote is, is not enough. Democracy must also be about who gets to reply."

I am pained about the Iranian elections. I've written about them before, and about how I'm not sure how to grapple with the dozens of issues inherent in the topic (westernization, democratization, religious governance, the list goes on), but I can't help but hurt when I see accounts like this:

That the vote was against Ahmadinejad there can be no doubt. Consider this: Over the 30-year history of the Islamic Republic of Iran, some 30 percent of the population has never voted. These are the true disbelievers, citizens who take pride in having a blank shenasname, or identity booklet. They are the friends and family members who take every opportunity to remind the rest of us, at the dinner table, caught in traffic, sitting in the park, that voting is a mistake, that you ought not participate in a system that is at its core rotten.

Except ... Except this time a good half of these nonbelievers came. They came, pulled, pleaded -- coaxed into voting by sons and daughters. They came this year, dramatically reversing what had been a steady decline in participation, lifting turnout to heights not seen since the early days of the Revolution. With the much ballyhooed rural vote already in the bank for the president, the only place left for Ahmadinejad to make up his reported 6 to 8 million new votes was with the apostates. Are we really to believe, as some are now insisting, that these many millions showed up to vote for the incumbent?

There was so much hope, and it was simply crushed. How long will it be before there is enough strength to try again?

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Why is it so difficult to control this one emotion? I am usually so careful about what I let myself feel. This is not quite right.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

The City Mouse and the Country Mouse

I'm thinking about this in a larger context:

In Hard Times, Colleges Search for Ways to Trim the Faculty - "Administrators are calling the eliminations 'vertical cuts.' Instead of slicing costs equally across the board as many other colleges have done, the administration singled out a few that it said were not crucial to the university's mission and attracted few students or little outside research money."

and narrowing it down to how the eventual consequence of this is the loss of one of few rural sociology programs in the country. The humanities are incredibly metrocentric, and as a country girl (my home town has 600 people), I am more aware of the issues facing rural communities than most of my peers were at university.

It's a touchy subject because yes, a large number of people do live in cities and suburbs, but it's not nearly everyone. Everyone CAN'T live in a city or suburb. It's not feasible. Yet rural communities find themselves lacking both resources--my community has educational and systemic issues on par with most inner-city areas--and the incentive for anyone to come solve those problems. There are no incentives for teachers to go to rural schools the way there are for them to go to inner-city schools. No incentives to expand services so that people can access the things they need--from productive work to the assistance they desperately need and should be getting. The single exception is doctors--there are incentives for doctors to spend a few years in a smaller hospital, but most leave after their first few years for greener pastures, so the quality of care--and facilities-- is still far below what most people expect.

It frustrates me horribly to see such systemic neglect of a massive segment of the population, as I am frustrated when any segment sees such neglect.

Can I Have My Walk Back, Please?

Like I said, sudden thought volcano. But I couldn't help responding to this:

Female Impersonator: "And yes, I'm calling it harassment. Because it is. It is not a compliment, as my mom tried to get me to believe. It is someone harassing me, propositioning me, and verbally assaulting me for simply being on the sidewalk, on public space. Walking to work on my birthday last week, I had an old man tell me to suck his dick. That is harassment, plain and simple."

I hate, hate hate hate cat calls. My overall social anxiety only exacerbates it I'm sure, but I have been driven to the point of not leaving my apartment for over a week because of a team of roofers across the street who couldn't mind their job and not my body. It does make me angry, and it is not complimentary. I've had people compliment my appearance; I've even had strangers do it. It doesn't make me feel like dirt. Catcalls, though, do.

Fox and Friends


As quoted on Stuff White People Do,
Kilmeade, along with his partners in the fine art of "talking-to-adults-as-if-they're-children," was discussing a study's claims that people in Finland and Sweden who stay married are less likely to suffer from Alzheimer’s. Kilmeade thinks that has something to do with how "pure" the blood is in those countries, compared to American blood, which he thinks suffers from intermixing with different "ethnics" and . . . "species"?!

If you have a problem with this and the fact that Fox News anchors get away with this bigoted bullshit every time they go on air,

Contact the FCC:
Federal Communications Commission
Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau
Consumer Complaints
445 12th Street, SW
Washington, D.C. 20554

Off the Stove

Apologize for the lack of posting; there've been things going on! Left the fiance, visited friends, had my birthday, and am working on my application to grad school, meeting with the dept. head tomorrow and then visiting my papa, followed by a shindig in the country.

All of which have required some planning and much attention. Blogging is on the back-burner, but I imagine that on Monday I will be back.

In the meantime, I'm still trying to figure out what in the world is going on with Sarah Palin, and why she seems like a pathological liar, why she is being framed as a feminist martyr to The Democracy while clearly working against the interests of women in general.

That's as much as I have time to do right this second, though as I was digging those links back up I came across some new stuff and of course "I'll be out for a bit" means "I'll be posting like a volcano for the rest of the day."

Also, hello to my global readership! I got a Croatian flag on my counter today, adding to my India, GB, US, and Canada.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

I'm 22 today!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Women’s Glib

Women’s Glib

These girls are high schoolers, and are certainly far more socially aware than I was at 18. One is guestblogging at Feministe this week.

Check them out.

What's happening in Xinjiang? - War Room -

What's happening in Xinjiang? - War Room - "Sunday’s violence was apparently prompted by a fight at a toy factory in Shaoguan, in the south of China. Last week, local Han workers followed up accusations that six Xinjiang boys had raped two girls by attacking Uighur workers at the factory. Two were killed, and 118 were reportedly injured. The rape story now appears to be false. However, Uighur victims of the factory fight have issued statements to Xinhua, China’s state-run news service, denouncing Xinjiang rioters in terms that are suspiciously friendly to the government."

Here's a little more information on what's going on.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

I'm ashamed of myself for letting this happen so quickly. I should have known better. Now I'm doubly angsty.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

‘Operator? Can You Put Me Through to Ant Nest 251?’ - Olivia Judson Blog -

‘Operator? Can You Put Me Through to Ant Nest 251?’ - Olivia Judson Blog - "We like to think of ourselves as rulers of the planet. But just as an ant cannot hear a nearby piano — a sound that to most of us is so clear that being deaf to it is unimaginable — the planet is full of chatter that we cannot easily detect. For me, reflecting on this makes the planet bigger, somehow, and more mysterious — and reminds me that we humans are aware of just a small part of all that is going on."

Another thoughtful piece, this time (on the surface) about ant communication.

I Am Not Pro-Death: Adventures of a Gen-X Uterus - Jodi Kasten - Open Salon

I Am Not Pro-Death: Adventures of a Gen-X Uterus - Jodi Kasten - Open Salon: "As I sat in the recovery room, I saw the 'Help Wanted' sign up on the wall. They needed an intake counselor. The state's laws required that someone sit down with each woman and lay out the options, adoption, WIC, state assistance. The duties also included telling each woman what their due date would be and answering any questions."

It's been a helluva morning, and I really just don't have the energy to think my way through long posts, but this article by Jodi Kasten is an excellent read.

Friday, July 3, 2009

I have giddy butterflies in my stomach. This is ridiculous for me but I can only talk about it anonymously. Zippa has a school girl crush.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Asshattery Does not Cease


"So now we got a czar, we got a domestic violence czar - I had a story, that's what she's calling about - the opening hour of the program, they just hired a domestic violence czar. An adviser. They're not calling it a czar, but it's a czar. It's a domestic violence adviser. What the hell kind of advice are you gonna get? About the only kind of advice - I mean we're talking about democrats here, right? We're talking about the party of Bill Clinton. So I assume If you're going to have a domestic policy adviser, the advice you're gonna get - put some ice on it. Your lip's a little bleeding and swollen - put some ice on it, as you leave the swanky motel room. Domestic policy - domestic violence adviser - why do you need any advice on that? There are some instances where it's justified and you need an adviser to tell you when, in case the woman's a republican and the husband's a democrat, it's perfectly understandable why there would be domestic violence, we've got to allow for this? What the hell are we doing here?"

Monday, June 29, 2009

Obama woos LGBT leaders | Salon News

Obama woos LGBT leaders | Salon News

I guess this is my answer.

"I know that many in this room don't believe that progress has come fast enough, and I understand that," he said. "It's not for me to tell you to be patient, any more than it was for others to counsel patience to African-Americans who were petitioning for equal rights a half century ago."

Let's see it, Mr Obama.

Excess Pounds, but Not Too Many, May Lead to Longer Life -

Excess Pounds, but Not Too Many, May Lead to Longer Life - "The finding adds to a simmering scientific controversy over the optimal weight for adults. In 2007, scientists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Cancer Institute reported that overweight adults were less likely than normal weight adults to die from a variety of diseases, including infections and lung disease."

Don't Bother Making Accessibility a Priority

Translators Scoff at LinkedIn’s Offer of $0 an Hour - "Translators Wanted at LinkedIn. The Pay? $0 an Hour."

In a phone interview, Mr. Irwin said he was surprised that LinkedIn “would have the effrontery to ask for a professional service for free.”

As someone who started on the path as a translator (I later changed my mind, but that's a story for another day), I'm affronted by the sheer wackiness of this. LinkedIn is a supposedly respectable networking site for professional people, and has a user base that extends far beyond English-speaking shores. Yet, in what seems like a half-hearted attempt to make their site more accessible to those who are already paying for the use, they opted for a "wiki-style" translation process, going so far as to contact people who listed their occupation as translators and asking them to "volunteer" for the initiative, which such incentives as "upgraded accounts, and none ('because it's fun')."

Translation is a field that has trouble enough gaining notoriety, but good translators have an acceptable number of well-paying professional opportunities (though too many of them are freelance). Asking a freelancing translator to do what would essentially be a major linguistic overhaul of a professional, well-funded website (if their ad-base and account upgrade fees are any indicator) is a sham.

An aid agency, a shelter, or an otherwise underfunded, understaffed entity could justify it, and would probably be able to find plenty of people willing to help. It just disgusts me that, as Mr Irwin is quoted above, "LinkedIn would have the effrontery to ask for a proffessional service for free."

Political Memo - Political Shifts on Gay Rights Lag Behind Culture -

Political Memo - Political Shifts on Gay Rights Lag Behind Culture - "Monday, 250 gay leaders are to join Mr. Obama in the East Room to commemorate publicly the 40th anniversary of the birth of the modern gay rights movement: a police raid on the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York. By contrast, the first time gay leaders were invited to the White House, in March 1977, they met a midlevel aide on a Saturday when the press and President Jimmy Carter were nowhere in sight.

The conflicting signals from the White House about its commitment to gay issues reflect a broader paradox: even as cultural acceptance of homosexuality increases across the country, the politics of gay rights remains full of crosscurrents."

I'm wondering what happened with this today. The situation regarding the Obama administration's thus-far lackluster approach to LGBT rights is precarious for everyone involved. On the one hand you have a significant group of people that desperately need legal recognition in order to achieve the rights of the privileged class, and on the other hand you have Obama risking a significant portion of his voter base. There are an awful lot of political incentives for both parties to make something happen here.

Hopefully the political sphere will catch up with the rest of us.

Questionable Natures

I'm certainly not the only one who has raised an eyebrow at this ruling:

Madoff Sentenced to 150 Years - "In pronouncing the sentence — the maximum he could have handed down — Judge Denny Chin turned aside Mr. Madoff’s own assertions of remorse and rejected the suggestion from Mr. Madoff’s lawyers that there was a sense of “mob vengeance” surrounding calls for a long prison term. Mr. Madoff’s crimes, the judge said, were “extraordinarily evil.”"

And with good reason. Clearly, Madoff was engaged in fraud on a colossal scale, which cost a great many people a great deal of money. Some of them could afford the hit; others could not, and there's no denying that lately, any financial hit is painful. I get that.

The problem is that the Madoff sentencing comes on the tail of things like this:

Furor Builds Over Child Rapist's Sentence

David Harold Earls, 64, of the southeastern Oklahoma town of McAlester, pleaded no contest last month to first-degree rape and forcible sodomy. Normally, the rape charge carries a sentence of between five years to life in prison, but the deal he struck with prosecutors called for 19 years of his 20-year sentence to be suspended.

(Effectively sentencing Earls to one year in prison)

And, more importantly, ideas like this:

Is Rape Serious?

Why don’t police departments treat rape kits with urgency? One reason is probably expense — each kit can cost up to $1,500 to test — but there also seems to be a broad distaste for rape cases as murky, ambiguous and difficult to prosecute, particularly when they involve (as they often do) alcohol or acquaintance rape.

The point being, of course, that fraud will keep a man off the streets, but violent criminals (if the victims are even able to bring them to court) will be back on the streets before the evidence can be fully processed.

Proving once again that, here in America, money is worth much more than humanity.

Ten Things Wrong with Sarkozy's Burqa Ban

Via the Czech

1. Mandating how women should dress is mandating how women should dress, whether it is a mandate to wear a burqa, or a mandate not to wear one. When a man tells a woman how to dress, it’s paternalism and subjugation one way or the other.

2. Plus, as Dori points out, a man telling a woman that too much of her body is covered, and that she needs to expose more of it to his view, is pretty weird. How much modesty is too much? How much exposed flesh is enough to satisfy Sarkozy?

3. A Christian man imposing rules of dress upon Muslim women does little to actually foster the kind of gender equality he claims to be advancing.

4. Sarkozy talks as though there is no “subjugation of women” among the non-Muslim denizens of France. As though France is a wonderland of gender equality. According to WikiGender: “Compared to other countries, France has always been rather late in adopting gender equality as a goal and designing policies to achieve it.” So why suddenly all this concern for a certain subset of French women, who just randomly happen to come from a community hated and feared by many in France?

5. What other items of clothing does Mr. Sarkozy disapprove of? Do they also happen to correspond to certain disfavored, marginalized communities?

6. Any attempt to “eliminate” burqas in France will only serve to further marginalize the women who wear them. Burqas, for some women, represent a compromise. Some individuals believe women are not supposed to be seen in public, or be looked at by men outside of the family. In this extreme view, women would be entirely confined to the house and removed from outside society unless they can put on a burqa and go out. Eliminating the burqa for these women would mean eliminating their access to the world. Better conditions for such women require a little more work than outlawing a piece of clothing.

7. Eliminating burqas in France would not mean that women’s oppression in Muslim communities would end. It would simply be a cosmetic change that would do nothing to actually work with communities and empower French Muslim women to achieve equality. It is a measure that ignores all nuance and avoids all honest work to actually tackle the heart of the problem.

8. All this “eliminate the burqa” talk fits just a little too snugly with the popular “Islam oppresses women” meme that Christian Westerners like to toss around, particularly when they are trying to frame a “War of Civilizations”.

9. Also, doesn’t this just come off as a cheap attempt at burnishing his Women’s Issues credentials while effectively only harassing a marginalized, already-persecuted minority? And doing little to nothing to further true societal equality for all women in France?

10. What real issues do French women, and French Muslim women in particular, actually face that Sarkozy is completely avoiding by diverting attention with this stunt? Why randomly target French Muslims now?

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Guilty Pleasures

My comments on: Female Impersonator: Apologies and Excuses: Eating as a Pathology

I posted this comment:

I was literally just thinking about this, because I think that so much of the bad relationships we have with our bodies as women are directly related to bad relationships with food.
Even for women without an official disorder, as you say, there is a nasty relationship. Every bite must be guilt-ridden, even if it's something healthy and we're hungry. I know that this is true for a measurable percentage of men, as well (which says something to society at large), but the vast majority of women view food as something to be minimized, avoided, controlled, and only truly enjoyed in the company of other women, and with an "excuse," if at all.
Attaching guilt to an inherently vital life function is probably a bad idea.

Further along that note, I recall a conversation I had with my mother and grandmother about the health problems raging among the elderly female population. Problems like osteoporosis and other essentially nutritional deficiencies. How much of that is because the currently aging generation of women was one that was not only raised with unhealthy relationships to food, but spent the entirety of their vital years essentially starving themselves? Of course they have nutritional deficiencies; they weren't eating enough during pregnancies which were sapping their bodies of strength and nutrients, they didn't eat after their pregnancies, and then they just didn't ever eat. My paternal grandmother has a frame exactly like my own (if I had zero fat or muscle on me my hip measurement would still probably be about 40"), and yet has never weighed more than 140lb. That, my friends, is a gaunt body.

And the saddest part, of course, is that we don't do it to ourselves. Even the rare women who do have healthy food relationships (I have yet to meet one) have to explain themselves.

Teen Relationship Violence

Ashley has written about this already, but I was mid-post when I read hers, so I'm going to be repeating a little of what she's already said.

I came across this article via links throughout the feminist blogosphere, and had to comment. While it's reassuring that there is greater recognition of reproductive control as a form of relationship violence, and yes, that there is more awareness of relationship violence itself, I must echo Ashley in reference to the slut-shaming language in this paragraph:

"The first time I got pregnant against my will, I had the baby," she says. Along with several STDs. (He'd been her only partner.) After a stint in jail for violating an ex's order of protection, he was back, promising never to hurt her, gushing about family happiness. (emphasis mine)

I assume you see the little sidebar there? It serves to reassure us that even though the young woman has several STIs, she's ok; she's only had one partner, so it's the fault of an abuser and not a slut. I noticed quite a bit of that sort of language in the article. The idea of teen pregnancy as an indicator of relationship violence IN ADDITION TO BEING a measure of "promiscuity," (because you can't get pregnant the first time you have sex, remember, ladies!) and then, later, this:

"It's clearly out-and-out control of a woman's body. Control for control's sake," says Miller. It's an urge that stems, experts say, from an inability to manage their own fears and insecurities.(emphasis mine)"

As in, poor boys are just scared and insecure, so they have to rape someone to make themselves feel better.

Despite the author's obvious message, which is, to be honest, an important one, I'm inclined to bring to light the shoddy reporting going on, in addition to some pretty nasty stereotype promotion:

And the girls: Why do they stay? Classic domestic-violence pathology, say experts. In an unfortunate mix of psychological circumstances, some girls take such intense control to mean, "I'm really special to this person," says Giggans. Plus, remember: Often, they have this guy's kid.

If the Rihanna/Chris Brown situation taught us nothing else, it's that women don't like to be told their reasons for staying in abusive relationships. My guess, having witnessed and been part of a few myself, is that there are as many reasons as there are relationships.

The article also manages to bring a little bit of straight privilege in, as well:

"There is evidence of analogous male-on-male sexual violence, but it hasn't been studied in depth."

This despite the fact that I'm sure this woman has adequate resources to look up a great number of studies and reports on homosexual relationship violence. I'm suspicious that this little aside was simply an attempt to acknowledge the fact that there might be a non-heteronormative problem here as well, but that she wasn't going to take the time to discuss it or even investigate it.

Ms Harris, I appreciate your coverage of what is certainly an overlooked symptom of relationship violence. Next time, though, perhaps your reporting should be a little bit more thought-out. A woman's sexual history does not need to be an aside to her claims of abuse; not all sexually active teen girls are being promiscuous; the idea of "classic domestic-violence pathology" is cringe-worthy and reminds me of things like this; and LGBT issues are worthy of more than a casual mention.

Pride Around The World

A collection of Pride images, via Jezebel.

For my Readers who Read

Feminist Review

Check this out.

Is there a next generation of abortion providers? | Salon Life

Is there a next generation of abortion providers? | Salon Life

I've frequently wondered about the abortion issues in a country where a large portion of doctors, particularly in rural areas, work in Catholic-supported hospitals (anything named after a Saint counts). I know that these hospitals can't perform abortions; they can't even schedule an elective hysterectomy (though for inexplicable reasons they have no problem with vasectomies). There are difficulties with planned C-sections. I'm not only concerned with where they will come from; where will they work that they will be able to provide services and still even affiliate themselves with a hospital?
Michelle Obama's hair, racial issues, African-American culture, beauty | Salon Life: "Are we moving toward a 'black hair' moment?"

I wonder whether such a young, high-profile black woman who gets her hair straightened or relaxed as a matter of course will occasionally let it be something different: unstraightened, less straightened, or anything that doesn't bounce, lie flat or swing like a pageboy. In other words, a do that suggests her ethnicity rather than softens it.

White people tend to not realize the intense issues for WOC regarding their hair. For a white woman, her hair may be a struggle, it may be a frustration, but it is rarely a cause for anyone else's concern. A white woman will probably never be called a "nappy-headed ho" because she didn't spend hours of her time an exorbitant amounts of her money to have it changed from what it naturally is. A white woman can work with her hair as it was given to her, and her options are nearly endless.

Black women do not have the same luxuries.

This is not my fight; I will relinquish to my hidden identity that I am white, and though my hair is a frustration, unless I come out and cut it into a "dyke" style, I will probably never make any kind of statement with it. Nor will anyone read my haircut as a statement, unless it is accompanied by the revelation of a major lifestyle change.

I am, however, aware of the issues surrounding a black woman's hair. Is Michelle trying to minimize her blackness by having her hair relaxed? It has been in similar styles throughout her public life. Her daughters, however, have relatively natural styles.

What does this say about the first family and their relations to their racial community? To the white community? To other people of color? To America in general?