Friday, May 25, 2007

A little weekend music, 5/25/07

Friday Weigh In, 5/25/07

Well, folks, it was bound to happen sooner or later. That's right. I didn't lose a goddam thing this week. In fact, I gained half a pound. And it was fun and sickening at the same time. We were traveling Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, and even though we packed a satchel of Weight Watchers-friendly snacks, and even though there were Subways along the way, and even though we could have made wise choices in nearly every restaurant in which we ate, well, we chose to eat fun food. Or Friday food, if you will, since we normally eat that stuff on Fridays.

What's really kind of pathetic is that it made us feel bloaty and leaden, yet we continued to do it. It wasn't much physical fun, yet there was something very satisfying about the psychology of it all. Apparently there is still some work to do on that front.

And seeing as how it's Friday again, and seeing as how we have a $10 coupon at a restaurant that is having its Crab Fest only until the end of the month, we're going there with our downstairs neighbors tonight. So I expect to feel bloaty and leaden tonight, too.

Oh well. Back on the wagon tomorrow!

Happy weekend, all!

P.S. I weighed in at 184.0 this morning, making the overall loss 28.5 pounds.

Blog wars

I'm in a funk. Seriously. I went out of town for a few days, and when I got back there were a bunch of posts to read, many having to do with the women of color (WOC) response to FFF (Jessica Valenti's book Full Frontal Feminism for those of you who don't live in the feminist blogosphere) and the response to that response. And I've been trying to catch up, but every goddam post leads me to about five other goddam posts, and then, just to make sure I'm being a responsible reader, I have to check out the comments on the posts because someone in about five minutes from whenever now is will be referencing those comments and tearing someone a new one. And one thing becomes crystal clear: I picked a shitty time to get behind on my blog reading. It is nearly impossible to stay even with this one. And more than that, it is mentally exhausting to try. And depressing on top of that. (I'm so tired, in fact, that I can't link to all the stuff to which I've just referred)

For those of you who are just joining the fun, here's a brief recap (from what I've been able to gather).

People With Concerns About the Book: "We think there are some issues that need to be addressed."

Jessica Valenti and Her Supporters: "Shut up."

PWCAtB: "We feel silenced, yet again. That is actually one of the issues we think needs to be addressed."

JVaHS: "Can you keep quiet just a little longer? Oh, and stop being jealous."

You get the idea. You can accuse me of losing important nuances in this recap, and you can accuse me of interpreting the situation through my own biased lens. Fair enough. If you want to read the Fun Feminists Are Always Right version, go visit Feministing. But, in my opinion, my version is more accurate. Not as flattering to white, middle-class feminists, but more accurate nonetheless.

And here's the thing. I feel like I should have something incisive to say about all of this, but what I really want to do is quit reading this shit altogether. 'Cause it makes me tired. I feel like there's a huge responsibility to do more for WOC issues, which wouldn't be hard since my baseline right now is at about zero. Sure, I think about the issues from time to time, and I get outraged with the best of them, but I don't actually do anything. I have the unearned privilege, on accounta my whiteness and my relative class comfort, of not doing anything about them and of not even thinking about them if I don't want to. I have the luxury of these issues not hitting me over the head from the time I wake up to the time I go to bed on most days. And I am cognizant of the fact that these issues do nothing but hit others over the head all fucking day long. This is why I have a responsibility to do more.

Which is why I can't just quit reading this shit. And why I need to read more of it. It's okay for me to feel bad about my privilege and my lack of activity on these issues. Hopefully feeling bad will be the kick in the ass I need to start doing actual work to make the feminist movement more closely reflect my values. Because in my perfect world, feminism is about eradicating the oppression of all people, not just white people, and not just women. The racist, capitalist patriarchy in which most of us live is unfair and oppressive to a lot of people, and it's not really responsible social activism to try to lift out only those who are most like us. We grow more when we listen to people who are unlike us, who come with different experiences, and who use different perspectives.

I am not going to save the world, and I probably won't make any meaningful contribution to people of color and their issues. I am not a Gatekeeper of Feminism, which, in my opinion, is the movement that shows the most promise of helping the most people. At most, I am a gatekeeper with a small 'g,' as all members of movements are. But, thanks to the Miracle of the Internets, I have as much access to the Gatekeepers as anyone else, meaning I can leave comments at the Big Blogs, engage in discussions, post and promote my own stuff, and read and promote the work by feminist bloggers of color. I can also have some real world conversations with real live people in my very own community. I owe it to all oppressed people to acknowledge that my liberation is bound up with theirs and to do what I can where I can with the privileges I didn't earn but which I nonetheless possess. Because that, in my mind, is the only way feminism can deliver on the promise to lift us all up.

We are all in this together. It's time we started listening to each other.

My attempts at listening have led to me adding the following blogs to my daily rotation. I encourage you to check them out if you haven't already. You may not like all of them (I'm not even sure I like all of them yet), but you won't know that yet. Be quiet. Observe. Listen. Learn. Act.

Taking Steps
The Anti-Essentialist Conundrum
Women of Color Blog
Having Read the Fine Print
The Unapologetic Mexican
The Silence of Our Friends

Friday, May 18, 2007

They like me! They really like me!

Free Image Hosting at
"They" are the nice folks who just offered me a job as a residence hall director. A job that I have been trying to get for, oh, three years now. One for which I had two disastrous interviews last year at colleges at complete opposite ends of the prestige spectrum (and, man, how effing humiliating to get rejected by the one at the bad end!). And one for which I had two interviews set up at two different colleges in New York this month.

In my typical fashion, I accepted the first offer and will not be going on the second interview, even though the offerers would have given me enough time to do so. And even though my new school prohibits pets, which means that Chris and I won't be able to live together until we get the policy changed (which I was told is a possibility). But I really liked these people, and they liked me, which makes me like them even more. I cannot tell you how good it feels to know that I will only be a secretary for another two months!

So, another piece of the puzzle in place. It feels like things are finally lining up for us. If we find that we like it as much as we're anticipating, this shitty two-year exile in New Hampshire will have been worth it.

Thanks to all of you for sending good thoughts my way. I owe you. Don't get too excited, though. I only pay in hugs.

Friday Weigh In, 5/18/07

Well. Sometimes shit is just curious. This morning I weighed 183.5 (a loss of a pound and a half this week) despite eating out last night and Wednesday night and generally not keeping a very tight rein on my points. So, a hearty cheers to the results, but a perplexed whatever to the process. That makes 29 pounds overall. I feel good. I'm starting to feel healthy. Or healthier, anyway. I've got more to go, for sure, but I feel like I'm no longer just one Wendy's meal away from a major heart incident. And that, my friends, is a good thing.

Oh, and someone called me skinny yesterday. Bless her. It's completely a lie, but it was a nice one intended to reward me for my progress. Little rewards everywhere!

Anyhoo, happy weekend, all!

A little weekend music, 5/18/07

Here's this week's mish-mash of music. Created in two sessions. It shows.

Monday, May 14, 2007

A little weekend music, 5/11/07 (Monday edition)

Here's the weekend music I picked out for posting on Friday. A little more mellow than last week's lineup. Enjoy!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Giant thank-you to Shakes!

Greetings, new readers! I imagine several of you were directed here by the inimitable Melissa McEwan over at Shakesville. I just wanted to take a moment to thank her for the mojo. She's my most favorite blogger right now (not just because of the linkage), so if you're not familiar with her work, check her out. I see a lot of myself in her more personal writing, so perhaps I'm just terribly self-centered for liking her so much. Either way, she rocks, so show her some love.

And for all you newbies who kept checking back this week and found that I had the same posts up all week, just hangin' around gettin' stale, my sincerest apologies. I got busy at work (where I do most of my posting, but don't tell my boss), and then I got called out of town. And when I got back, I opted for napping. Twice.

Anyway, I promise to get back to regular posting real soon. I've got a busy week, but I feel some pressure to entertain a few extra people, so I'll get on it aysapp.

Welcome! Make yourselves at home. You can even put your shoes on the couch. 'Cause that's the kinda cool I am.

Friday Weigh In, 5/11/07 (Sunday Edition)

I'm a couple of days late with the weigh in this week. I was out of town on Friday tryin' to get a j-o-b, so I didn't do my official weigh in until this morning. And this morning I weighed 185.0, which makes 2 pounds this week and 27.5 pounds overall. I can now pull my jeans down without unbuttoning them. So, I've either got to ditch them or start wearing a belt. I don't want to do either.

Anyway, hope y'all had a great weekend!

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Oh Christ!

So, I decided to find out which god/goddess I am, spurred on by the folks at Hoyden About Town. The quiz was stupid, and based on the questions it asked, I had no clue which way it would rule - or what the questions had to do with anything. And I'm fairly certain there's nothing scientifically valid about it, 'cause it said I am the Holy Lord. Like Jesus. This is causing this avowed atheist some psychic pain right about now. You might ask what an avowed atheist was doing taking such a quiz in the first place. And I'll grant you that's a fair question. My answer, I guess, is that never in a hundred bazillion years would I have thought I'd be most like the god whose followers hate me most.

Tuesdays are most peculiar.

Which God or Goddess are you like?
Your Result: The Christian God

You are the Holy Lord. You are the shepherd and those that follow you are your lambs. You are kind and patient, but when need be, you are vile and creul. You are often asked for advise or wisdom, and you willingly give it. Congratulations!! You are God!!

God Zeus
You are your own God or Goddess
Goddess Sekhemet
Goddess Bast
Which God or Goddess are you like?
Make Your Own Quiz

Monday, May 7, 2007

Is every choice a feminist choice?

I know I'll probably catch some shit for this one, but sometimes you just gotta put some stuff out there, critics be damned*. And the stuff I'd like to put out there today comes in the form of the One-Word Answer Woman's response to Sarah Katherine Lewis's provocatively-titled piece on AlterNet on Friday, Is Stripping a Feminist Act?.


Now, I know lots of you empowerful third-wavers out there will try to muddy the cut-and-dried waters with arguments about how complicated the issue is if I'd just stop and think about it. Well, I hate to be the one to break it to you, but the issue ain't complicated at all. Here's my line of reasoning.

We live, like it or not, under the oppressive thumb of the Patriarchy, an ideological apparatus with the main goal of elevating and keeping men in power and basically shitting on women. In order for this to work in the most squeakyclean way, handy distinctions between the sexes need to be made, amplified, and naturalized. Let's see here. Men have penises; women have vaginas. That's a pretty important difference. Probably the difference. Yes, the grand distinction between men and women is that women have icky vaginas. Thus, women are weak, mostly on accounta they're forever chained to their reproductive functions (and dysfunctions), which causes all kinds of hysteria and moodiness and makes them only really good as sperm receptacles and baby incubators. Or, of course, as professionals who reinforce this idea.

Taking your clothes off for money (or even for free) does nothing to disrupt the Patriarchal paradigm. It encourages the woman-as-sex-hole narrative and makes people think that women actually like that narrative. You know, 'cause no one pays to see a stripper with a frown on her face.

Do I think that women shouldn't be allowed to make that choice? Hell no! Women should be allowed to make whatever choices they want to make, provided those choices don't hurt other people. But I believe pretty firmly that you can't call that choice a feminist one. Why? Because it hurts other women. When non-stripper or non-sex worker or non-porn actress women are held to the same standards of beauty, sexyhotness, and behavior as the professionals, there's really no way they can win. The men who enjoy the "professional service" provided by strippers and sex workers come to expect certain things from their sexual partners. And if they don't get it, they usually get resentful and often get violent. The problem here, clearly, is the men who do this shit. But the women who participate in the sex industry are doing their fair share to prop up the Patriarchy by reinforcing one of its most very basic tenets (i.e., that women are sex objects). At the very least, they're doing nothing to undermine it, and I don't believe you can call any action feminist if it's not challenging the patriarchal system of oppression.

This doesn't mean that these women aren't feminists, just that this particular act is not a feminist one. I am an avowed radfem who often does non-feminist shit. And sometimes the shit I do is actively anti-feminist. For one particularly horrible example, I watch America's Next Top Model. And I enjoy watching it. I like competition shows, and I like makeover shows (both people and houses), and I like talent shows, and this show gives me all of that. Yet I know that the modeling and fashion industries are literally killing women and causing at least some guilt in at least 98% of the female population. For these reasons, I don't call watching ANTM a feminist act. It is personally enjoyable, but it does more to prop up than tear down the Patriarchy.

By Sarah Katherine Lewis' own admission, stripping is not inherently feminist.
"The unglamorous truth about my experience as an adult entertainer is that I felt empowered -- as a woman, as a feminist, and as a human being -- by the money I made, not by the work I did. The performances I gave didn't change anyone's ideas about women. On the contrary, I was in the business of reinforcing the same old sexist misinformation you can see in any issue of Hustler or Girls Gone Wild DVD. I wasn't "owning" or "subverting" anything other than my own working-class status. Bending over to Warrant's "Cherry Pie" didn't make me a better feminist. It just made me a feminist who could afford her own rent.

I was raised to believe that feminism means respecting the choices women make for themselves -- particularly the ones concerning their own bodies and their own lives, as full members of a fair society, whether or not I agree with their choices. And every month when I write my rent check -- subtracting the money from my checking account without the teetering, free-fall sense of dread I remember from when I worked long hours on my feet, waiting tables and making espresso, desperately trying to make ends meet -- I am thankful for the freedom I had to choose sex work, in all its polarizing complication."-emphasis mine

Which brings me to another important point: if stripping or sex work is the only available avenue out of poverty, it's not even really a choice. If you have several equally-lucrative options in front of you and you still opt for stripping, then it's a choice. But it's still not a feminist one.

The folks at The Onion lampoon the very phenomenon of female "empowerment" in the February 19, 2003 issue, which, for some reason, just showed up on my RSS feed today. Blocked tubes, I guess. Anyway, my favorite line is this:
"Whereas early feminists campaigned tirelessly for improved health care and safe, legal access to abortion, often against a backdrop of public indifference or hostility, today's feminist asserts control over her biological destiny by wearing a baby-doll T-shirt with the word "Hoochie" spelled in glitter."
They're mostly talking about the tendency in today's consumer culture to champion the most mundane of actions as feminist and empowering, not specifically about stripping and sex work. But their last satirical line makes fun of the point I'm trying to argue against here: "Only by lauding every single thing a woman does, no matter how ordinary, can you truly go, girls."

So, what I want to put out there today is this: A choice is not a feminist one simply because a woman, or even a feminist, makes it. It may be personally rewarding, but if the "empowerment" it delivers does more to strengthen the Patriarchy's narrative than to subvert it, it is not feminist. Women should be allowed to make these choices, as we all have to get by in the same Patriarchy, and some of us need more coping mechanisms than others to survive. Of course, I want you to choose something else, but that's not my call to make. All I really ask is that you be real about it and don't pretend that stripping and wearing "Hoochie" t-shirts helps anyone other than the Patriarchy.

*One of the nice things about a low-traffic blog such as this one is that I only really run the risk of alienating about twelve people.

Friday, May 4, 2007

A little weekend music, 5/4/07

A little feminist music for the weekend.

Friday Weigh In, 5/4/07

I was bad this week. I hardly walked at all, and I feel I was pretty lax with the diet. I still came in well under my point allowance each day, but I feel like I wasn't very disciplined. I'm not sure what that's all about. Perhaps it's my general unhappiness* talking.

Anyway, despite being quite slothlike most of the week, I still managed to lose a pound and a half. I weighed in at 187.0, which makes 25.5 pounds altogether.

I keep measuring my progress with statements like, "I am now smaller than I was when...[insert era here]." This week I've been saying to myself, "I am now smaller than I was in my last year of coaching." Which doesn't feel exactly right, but it's certainly true. I was probably a little fitter then on accounta using different muscles and just generally moving more. But I am lighter and smaller, as evidenced by the fact that my coaching sweatshirt fits me much better now than it did then.

Anyway, have a happy weekend, all!

*not having a job lined up yet for the move is starting to stress me out.

Not a good week to be brown

News iddn't lookin' good for brown people this week.

First, a study of the NBA revealed that referees call fouls on black players at higher rates than they call them on white players. NBA Commissioner David Stern denies it, but experts agree that the study looks sound.

Second, the Federal Bureau of Justice Statistics released a report showing that African-American and Hispanic drivers who are stopped by police are more than twice as likely as white drivers to be subjected to a search.
``Police actions taken during a traffic stop were not uniform across racial and ethnic categories. Black drivers (4.5 percent) were twice as likely as white drivers (2.1 percent) to be arrested during a traffic stop, while Hispanic drivers (65 percent) were more likely than white (56.2 percent) or black (55.8 percent) drivers to receive a ticket. In addition, whites (9.7 percent) were more likely than Hispanics (5.9 percent) to receive a written warning, while whites (18.6 percent) were more likely than blacks (13.7 percent) to be verbally warned by police.''

Finally, police officers fired a slew of rubber bullets at people attending an immigration rally in MacArthur Park in Los Angeles on Wednesday. Police Chief William J. Bratton said, "the individuals were there to provoke police. Unfortunately, they got what they came for." Nice.

So, the moral of the story is: if you happen to be a shade darker than pinkey-gray, there's a different set of rules for you. Good luck trying to figure out what the hell they are.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

I won't even walk a mile in those shoes

I know this is probably curmudgeonly of me, since the men in question are trying to do something good, but whose idea was this Walk A Mile In Her Shoes campaign? If you're unfamiliar with it, it's basically a bunch of men who walk in high heels to protest violence against women. It's billed as "The International Men's March to Stop Rape, Sexual Assault & Gender Violence." Which is all well and good, as we need men as allies in this fight.

But why, oh why, would you have as the central theme of the parade one of the very symbols of women's oppression? High heels are dangerous to one's health. Don't believe me? Read this. And this. And...this. In addition, they make it nearly impossible to outrun an attacker - unless that attacker is also in heels, which is unlikely. Finally, walking a mile in high heels will tell men nothing about women's experiences with violence and rape. Not one thing.

Plus, lots of women don't wear high heels at all, yet their experiences of rape and violence are no less real or painful. Men could walk a mile in my normal footwear without the slightest discomfort, which would teach them just as much about rape as walking in heels would (which is nothing).

I appreciate these men's willingness to participate in this event. I do. But if they're gonna walk a mile in high heels, it ought to be in protest of the Hotness Standard that demands that women wear debilitating footwear. Why does oppressive fashion escape the critical gaze here? Walking a mile in her shoes offers lots of striking visual images of dudes in heels, but beyond that, the gesture is meaningless. Empathizing with her lived experience and staging a gimmick-free protest march would be much more powerful.

Just sayin'.

More international assbaggery

News flash for all you non-breeders out there: you ain't shit. If you're not fulfilling your womanly duty to incubate tiny yous, you're not fit for public office in Australia. So says liberal senator Bill Heffernan, international assbag.