Archive for August, 2006

Thinking about complicity.

There are a few blogs I read regularly, but don’t put on my blogroll for one reason or another. One of these is the always thought-provoking (and frequently hunger-provoking) I Blame the Patriarchy. I don’t put it on my blogroll because, to be honest, Twisty often makes me uncomfortable. She’s the kind of feminist who turns people off feminism – she’s unforgiving, abrasive, and unapologetic.

In her recent post, entitled “Sex,” Twisty has this to say:

“Examine your lives!” is the Twisty refrain. Don’t forget that, as a member of an oppressed class, everything you do is political. So what say you reevaluate those phony, misogynist feminine constructs? Every tube of lipstick, every coy little head-tilt, every train-yourself-not-to-gag-while-deep-throating-a-flaccid-bratwurst session is a symbol of oppression. And not just your oppression, either, but the oppression of all women. And they’re not just symbols, either, but concrete evidence of your collaboration with the dominant culture. Every time you ‘choose’ to totter down the street in a pair of heels and a pencil skirt you’re a Yay Patriarchy billboard. It says “I willingly brand myself as different from and subordinate to men. Shall I bend over now?”

This makes me uncomfortable. But my gaze is firmly navel-oriented, and so I must ask myself why it makes me uncomfortable. Am I simply unhappy with being judged and found wanting? Religious people of every stripe judge me and find me wanting all the time. So do lots of other people. I thumb my nose at them; what should I care what they think?

No, my discomfort with Twisty’s words stems from the fact that I basically agree with them. Silence in the face of bigotry condones that bigotry. High heels and makeup in a patriarchal culture condone that patriarchy. They are symbols of agreement; nods in our cultural conversation. If this seems extreme, think of the public shaming of women who don’t conform. Women who shave their heads, don’t shave their legs, wear no makeup, gain weight but don’t wear muumuus. For all the trouble it may take to maintain a socially acceptable female appearance, it’s far more trouble not to.

So here I sit, agreeing with Twisty while wearing heels, eye makeup, lipstick, jewelry, and a low-cut silk tank top. It’s a good thing I’m wearing pants, or I might actually implode. Will I go home tonight, clean out my wardrobe and burn my naughty underwear? No, I won’t. And that makes me a hypocrite. And that makes me uncomfortable.

[U]ntil the psychotic global system of dominance and submission gives way to a sane one that doesn’t fetishize oppression, there is no solution to the buzzkiller political problems inherent in all heterosexual boinking. That’s right. No solution. No happy ending. No scenario wherein prancing in a pink sportcorset can be construed as a politically neutral act. No ‘egalitarian sex’.

Is Twisty saying that until we have equality, we shouldn’t fuck? I think not. Personally, I won’t condemn anyone for compromising in order to get by. I won’t think you’re a bad feminist for dressing the way you do, or enjoying giving blowjobs, or for working in the sex industry. Obviously, I’d be a complete hypocrite if I did.

The damage comes from our denial and dishonesty about our complicity. When we acknowledge the ways in which we contribute to our own oppression, then we can identify opportunities for positive change.

Thank god for Twisty, and for everyone who makes us uncomfortable. To hell with it. I’m putting her on the blogroll now.

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Biff! Pow!

In the long-ago days of June, Mini Lawyer promised to get me Batman’s autograph. But every time he came back from his Idaho retreat, he stopped at my desk to inform me that Mr. West had been nowhere in evidence. “Next time,” he nodded slowly. “Next time.”

Well, we all know when “next time” is, right? As the weeks passed, I allowed my hope to wither and fade.

Then this morning I found this stuck to my monitor.

Biff! Pow!

Holy follow-through, Batman!

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Roving, roving, roving, keep that spindle rolling.

I swore I wouldn’t get sucked into spinning.

I lied.

spin1

I stole that photo from Sachi. This one, too.

spin2

I’m using the small photos so you won’t be able to tell how lousy I am at this.

Lena Linoleum did a lot of needle felting this past week, and turned out this beauty for me:

Sheep

Sheep! Sheep with butth0le!

Sheep b0tt0m

Sheep with n1pples!

Sheep n1pples

I made the sheep a shelf on which to perch in my office.

Sheep on a shelf

Every time I look at the sheep, I am reminded of one of my favorite stories,The Little Prince.

“If you please–draw me a sheep . . .”

When a mystery is too overpowering, one dare not disobey. Absurd as it might seem to me, a thousand miles from any human habitation and in danger of death, I took out of my pocket a sheet of paper and my fountain-pen. But then I remembered how my studies had been concentrated on geography, history, arithmetic and grammar, and I told the little chap (a little crossly, too) that I did not know how to draw. He answered me:

“That doesn’t matter. Draw me a sheep . . .”

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Guest blogger: My uterus.

my uterus

Hey hey heee-eeey, y’all! Good to be here, good to be here. Have you tried the martinis? I like ‘em dirty, myself, but then, that’s the kind of girl I am!

I was talking with Uccellina the other day about how there really aren’t enough uteruses (uteri? Even I don’t know!) on the blogging circuit. She told me I should get my own blog, and I thought about it, but damn, between the follicular phase and the luteal phase, I’m pretty busy. And during menstruation, forget it. I’m totally wiped out. So we agreed that I would just post here every once in a while.

This is a good day for my first post. I’m sure you’ve all heard by now that Plan B has been approved for over-the-counter sales. That’s right! Safe and effective emergency contraception for all!

Well, not really for all. You have to be 18 or older, and able to prove it with a photo ID. That’s how cigarettes are sold, after all. And just like cigarettes, Plan B will be easily obtainable at your local convenience store or gas station.

[Pause]

Psych! Unlike cigarettes, which are actually bad for you, the completely safe Plan B will only be sold by licensed pharmacies, not convenience stores or gas stations.

I like this, from the New York Times:

Drs. Galson and Woodcock both said in their own depositions and public statements that scientific considerations drove their decisions. One memorandum that has since been made public states that Dr. Woodcock told agency employees that she feared that Plan B could take on “ ‘urban legend’ status that would lead adolescents to form sex-based cults.”

Sex-based cults! Who’s for ‘em? *raises fallopian tube*

But seriously folks, every small step forward should be appreciated. Especially in an era of so many big steps backward.

Good night everybody, and please! Tip your gynecologist.

More from:
Shakespeare’s Sister
Feministing

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Not all who wander are lost.

People come to this blog in many ways. Some know me from childhood; some know me from knitting; most have arrived by blog-hopping. And then there are those few who, late on sleepless nights, type their secrets into Google or Yahoo!, hit “search,” and find themselves here.

I feel affectionate and protective toward these travellers. Because WordPress tells me what search terms have brought them to my home, I know something about their journey, and feel oddly responsible for its end. Many of them – the “birds nest knit”, the “russian girls ticklish”, and the “Megan Mullally size” – do not find whatever it is they seek here, but that’s okay. Their needs are not urgent; no doubt they peek, purse their lips or raise an eyebrow, and return from whence they came to try again. But some seem sad, or angry, or anxious, and those are the ones I worry about.

“Husband is lazy, makes me do everything,” I’m sorry I wasn’t more helpful. I hope you’ve spoken with him about this, and that you find the support you need, either online or in counselling (the latter might be more reliable).

“Pain medication and child custody,” are you in danger of losing your kids? Is your ex forging prescriptions? Have you been fighting the custody battle for a long time, or are you just now contemplating divorce, and researching possible tactics? I haven’t written about this subject at all before now, but if it would help you, I’ll gladly tell you about my sedative-addicted grandmother. There was no custody battle in that story, though. Maybe I really have nothing to offer you.

“Desi food to eat for increased sperm count,” I’m not sure why you’re restricting yourself to Indian food for your semen-multiplying endeavor, but I did a little research for you. Do you like chana masala? WikiPedia had this to offer:

According to Culpeper, “chick-pease or cicers” are less “windy” than peas and more nourishing. Placed under the dominion of Venus, they offered a number of medical uses, including increasing sperm and milk, provoking menstruation and urine, and helping to treat kidney stones. Wild cicers were thought to be especially potent.

“Fertilized egg when attach to uterus,” I know that one! Implantation occurs around 7-10 days after ovulation. Spotting may occur. Or not.

“Orange County Car Accidents August 2006,” I hope you’re all right.

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My very crafty Saturday.

fabulous fiber festival

On Saturday, Miss Kendra, Lady Linoleum, Lena Linoleum and I attended the Fiber Festival in Santa Monica. This is a very dangerous place, filled with yarn, beads, roving, spinning wheels, drop spindles, quilts, and other shriek-worthy items. Money was spent. I won’t say how much or by whom, but I do believe several wallets were whining in pain by the time we left.

We regrouped at Casa Linoleum, where Miss Kendra, Lena L. and I discovered the evil delight of needle felting. Why hadn’t anyone ever told me that stabbing could be a legitimate hobby? I really wouldn’t have wasted all that time with knitting. It’s just not pointy enough.

That day, I stabbed a superhero alien.

b'way roy g. biv

His name is Roy G. Biv, and, according to Miss Kendra, he is a Broadway Star. Jazz hands!

miss kendra with roy g. biv

Lena Linoleum made two sheep. Or maybe three. I’m not sure how to count the two-headed sheep .

sheep

She is nothing if not meticulous.

anatomically correct

We all got trashed on water and thai food, and discussed inappropriate subjects while stabbing furiously. Surprisingly little blood was shed, and pointy fun was had by all.

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You know the job market is bad when:

My advertisement seeking someone to do filing in our office for $10/hr has garnered twenty responses in one hour. Several of these are from people vastly overqualified to do what I’m asking of them, which is, y’know, to file stuff. It’s sad.

As I read these applications, I’m discovering what a horrible, judgmental, biased person I truly am. I know, you’re shocked. Shut up. But, okay, really? A filing job has very few requirements: tolerance for boredom, yes; skill, not so much. The ability to follow directions is vital, however. So sending me a resumé as an attachment when my ad specified “no attachments” is fairly good evidence that you are Not Suited For The Position, and maybe dumb.

Other fatal flaws include such spelling mistakes as “alfa numeric,” “file cleark,” and “pareleagal,” as well as beginning your cover letter with the word “Hey!” Oh, yeah – and listing your court-ordered community service under “Volunteer Work.”

One cover letter was addressed to “Melissa.” I am not Melissa. I do, however, regularly receive phone calls for Melissa, who may or may not have had my phone number before it became mine three years ago. My theory (as I have mentioned elsewhere) is that Melissa maxed out her credit cards on booze and hookers before skipping town and bequeathing her number to me. So is this cover letter further punishment dealt to me by the absent, drug-addled, pox-ridden Melissa? Perhaps.

Sometimes applicants give personal information in their cover letters, or list “Other Characteristics” in their resumé. I hate this, because I am, in the common parlance, a sucker. It’s very hard to steel myself against such heartwrenching statements as “I currently work out of my home, due to caregiving for an elderly parent,” or to resist hiring someone simply because she’s a knitter.

Several people mentioned their imminent attendance at Law School and wrote things like “i would love to start working for an attorney.” Exsqueeze me? What about the word “filing” gives you the impression that this would in any way constitute valuable legal experience? This is what we call Inflated Expectations, my friend.

Also, to all the people who listed their “Objective” as “to find a challenging position [etc.]“: Did you read this ad? It’s filing, for fuck’s sake.

And to the person who graduated in May with a 3.5 GPA from an excellent university and listed her “Main Objective” as “Office Clerk for Law Firm”: I don’t believe you.

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How dry I am.

Built over the desert’s objections, Los Angeles is a city that glorifies water. I was struck by the patent absurdity of this the other day, when I was having dinner with a friend who was visiting from Central Australia (another desert). We ate our delicious Mexican dinner in the Farmers Market, then strolled over to The Grove, where we watched the dancing fountain.

Fountain at the Grove

And really, what says “Fuck you, Nature!” better than a fifty-thousand gallon koi pond punctuated by forty jets shooting water sixty feet into the air and periodically breaking into carefree choreography to the tune of “America the Beautiful?”

Maybe Las Vegas.

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Excuse me.

I would blog, but I’ve been eaten by this game.

Thanks a lot, Filboid. And, just so you know, I’m terrible at it.

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In which I contribute to Scholarship. Sorta.

Four years ago, I was flown down to Clearwater, Florida for a modeling shoot. The photographer picked me up from the airport. As we drove into town, we passed several small groups of pedestrians, all wearing identical blue shirts and khaki pants, and identical vague smiles.

“Who are they?” I asked.

“Scientologists.” He shook his head. “They own this town.”

At the time, I didn’t know anything about Scientology, but the photographer was clearly unhappy with their overwhelming presence. In his former career as a traffic-light repair person, he told me, he was often called to the scenes of car accidents. “Before I could even get there, they would be there with cameras, snapping pictures.” But the Scientologists’ strange fascination with wrecks was by no means the most unnerving thing about them. Some years earlier, he said, a young woman had been in a minor car accident. She wasn’t hurt, but she took off all of her clothes in the street, and was taken to the hospital for evaluation. The Scientologists came and got her, took her to a hotel, tied her to a bed, and starved her in the course of their “introspection rundown” – Scientology’s alternative to the Great Evil of Psychiatry. By the time she was finally brought back to a hospital, she was dead.

Suddenly, the vague smiles on the uniformed packs looked a little sinister.

I didn’t think much about Scientology after that – didn’t have any reason to – until I moved to Los Angeles. I discovered soon after moving here that Hollywood is, in a sense, Clearwater writ large. To my knowledge, in the City of Los Angeles alone (not including the Valley, Pasadena, Orange County, etc), we are blessed with: The Church of Scientology on L. Ron Hubbard Way, The Celebrity Centre, The Mission on Melrose; The Mission of Los Feliz, and at least three buildings dedicated to the Citizens Commission on Human Rights. The last time my parents visited, we took them on a little tour of all the Scientology landmarks in town.

I’ll admit it right now: I’m a little obsessed. We’re talking about a church founded by a science fiction author, possibly started as a bet, which maintains a private naval fleet, teaches that everybody on earth is infested with aliens, engages in celebrity mind-control and infiltrates public schools in the guise of an anti-drug program. And here I am, right in the thick of it!

So you can imagine my excitement the other day when I was contacted about a photograph I took at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, which I had subsequently uploaded to Flickr. The person writing the Wikipedia article on Dianetics wanted to use my photo! to illustrate! the article!

Small pleasures truly make life worthwhile.

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