Sunday, May 31, 2009
Note to People magazine, regarding female celebrity weight loss stories:
No more bikinis and shame, please. I'd rather you give the cover to the philandering anti-Semite or the Reverse Mullet. Didn't the Jonas Brothers do something this week? Did Tori Spelling not leave her house? Is Adam Lambert holding out for more money?
Just stop it. Stop it now.
Saturday, May 30, 2009
I'm endorsing Feminist Leadership NOW because I believe that they will give the National Organization for Women a much needed kick in the butt. Behold, my testimonial:
Minnesota NOW President (2006-2009)
I met Erin Matson when we both arrived at an activist open house sponsored by the state board of Minnesota NOW in the early months of 2003. On the surface, we seemed to have little in common: at that time, Erin was a brand new women’s studies graduate, while I was an at-home parent of a young son.I arrived at that meeting hoping to put my experience with the harsh reality of unpaid caregiving to work in the service of other mothers’ rights.
Erin listened.Erin never said that this wasn’t her issue, though she was a 22-year-old more concerned with access to birth control than access to child care. She understood my story in sisterhood with hers.Imagine my pride when, in a debate with no less a feminist foe than Phyllis Schlafly herself, Erin announced that at-home parents deserve Social Security benefits! A deeply shocked Mrs. Schlafly said it was the first time she and a NOW member agreed on anything.
NOW pitched a purposely large tent with our many issues. Each issue draws in a different kind of activist, and disagreements over prioritization plague us. Since our first meeting six years ago, I have seen Erin’s commitment to weaving the different threads of our movement into a cohesive whole.She lives and breathes the fact that we are feminists, one and all.
I’m thrilled for NOW’s membership to be able to avail itself of Erin’s compassion, courage, and intellect as we prepare to reaffirm NOW’s role in shaping feminism’s next wave.
Thursday, May 28, 2009
Matt: It's dumb.
Me: But I like it. It makes me look cool.
Matt: It's not cool. I hate it when I load a site and it starts making noise at me.
Me: Even if it's "Cameltoe?"
Matt: ESPECIALLY if it's "Cameltoe."
Me: I think Fannypack lends me an air of ironic hipster whimsy. It's a very important part of my carefully cultivated online image.
Matt: Don't you want people to take your writing seriously?
Me: Yes, of course.
Matt: Then you have to get rid of it.
Me: Okay Mr. Smartypants, would you accept some indie rock on my site? Which Animal Collective song would you recommend? Can I crack the seal on that new box set so I can listen for myself?
Matt: (horrified) NOOOOOO! That's a collector's item! I've seen it for sale on eBay for $700 already. Don't touch it.
Me: I love you.
Matt: I love you too.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Ladies and gentlemen, her story is very inspirational. The personal story of Sonia Sotomayor, where she came from and where she has now arrived, you can't deny that this is a tremendous story, very inspirational for practically everybody. But the thing I'd like to point out is that she accomplished all of this during the Reagan years. She accomplished all of this during the Bush years, both Bush presidential years, 12 years, and even the Clinton years. She accomplished all of this before President Obama, The Messiah, was elected president of the United States.....
I love how Reagan can take credit for EVERYTHING in Rush's world.
Have you seen, and do you remember if you have seen it a picture of the lady holding the scales of justice? Do you know what's remarkable about the lady in that rendering? She's blindfolded. She doesn't know whether the people before her... Justice does not know whether the people before it are black, white, Hispanic, male, female, rich, poor, Martian, or whatever. There is nothing about Sonia Sotomayor that is blindfolded where justice is concerned. This is a huge concern.
Oh, yeah. HUGE.
May I reiterate a point I've made in the past? Those that cry "I'm not a racist" the loudest are the biggest racists you'll ever meet. Those who wail "I'm not sexist" are often worse.
I'm hearing so much bullshit on the air and on the web about how Sonia Sotomayor is a pawn in Obama's hands, how Obama is pandering to the country by appointing a justice who is both female and Hispanic. Sotomayor has admitted that her gender and ethnicity color (pun intended) her opinions, striking terror in the hearts of white men everywhere.
For once and for all people, it is not pandering! It is completely fair to expect that my governmental institutions look like my country. The 2000 census reported that 12.5% of Americans identify as Hispanic. What's 12.5% of nine?
Don't ask me. I was an English major.
One bit of math that my pretty little head can calculate easily is the ratio of men and women in our society. I guesstimate that it's somewhere around... oh.... fifty-fifty. Sonia Sotomayor will be the third woman in the history of our nation to serve on Supreme Court. When she's appointed, she will be Justice #111. There's that math again.... what's three out of 111, percentage-wise?
Oh golly. I wish that white man I married were here so he could explain it all to me.
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
My gawd, but my crown is hurting today. I want to dream up a terrifically brilliant thing to say about the travesty of justice that is Prop 8, but I'm hurting too badly. I want to rip into the right-wing idiots who think that Sonia Sotomayor's rise out of poverty is a testament to Ronald Reagan's American Dream (!!!!) but the stabbing pain in my jaw leaves me limp on the couch, capable only of drinking beer and watching reruns of "30 Rock."
I'll try again tomorrow.
Friday, May 22, 2009
Am I reading correctly?
"If girls realized the consequences of sex, nobody would be having sex......trust me. Nobody."
My first beef is with her cover statement, which reinforces the age-old stereotype of the girls being the ones in charge of stopping hockey players from coming all over them. HEY BRISTOL! It's the 21st century. Boys can take care of their needs the old fashioned way--the blue ball story is fake. Boys are also perfectly capable of going to the Rite-Aid and buying a pack of Trojans themselves.
Which leads me to my second beef. Bristol, after all you've been through, are you still going to tell your peers that they should just say no? Wouldn't it be more responsible to say "look everyone, I realize how horny teens can be. If you're too embarrassed for mutual masturbation, how can you be too embarrassed to buy some condoms at Rite-Aid? Wake up!"
But alas, Alaska's First Teen Mom has chosen to have it both ways, to act like she's a lesson in what not to do, while using her cute baby as a fucking fashion accessory. If Bristol wants to keep it real, she should be on the cover with baby Tripp squirting yellow shits all over her J.Crew sweater. She should have a photograph of him gnawing her tits bloody to get a drink of milk. To judge by this photograph, a plump baby boy is what all Alaskan teens are carrying with them at their graduation ceremonies! They're much cuter than corsages!!!!!!!! LOL!!!!!!!
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
The Mommy Wars: Dr. Laura on Stay-at-Home Moms
So the article begins with a point on which Laura and I can agree--that there are middle class, two-income families who could make the drop to one income if they wanted to care for a child at home. Of course, Laura Schlessinger has not middle class when she got herself knocked up, so that's easy for her to say. She doesn't consider the public library to be her family's entire entertainment budget, nor does she chauffeur her li'l pumpkins in a dented '99 Saturn. I do.
But here's where the conversation veers into the Hall of Fucked-Up Mirrors in Phyllis Schlaflyland.
WSJ: What do you tell women who are hesitant to leave their jobs?
Dr. Schlessinger: You know how when you try to quit smoking you chew gum? You replace one thing with another because it distracts you. What I would tell these women is that they're spending too much time thinking about what they have to give up, and feeling angry about not being valued. Look at me -- I made the transition from being a powerhouse to being at home, folding laundry. What they need to do is find value elsewhere. I tell these women to look in their children's eyes. When your husband comes home, wrap your body around him at the door and look at his eyes. What people need to learn is that it's not about the drudgery of housework -- it's about being at home for all of those incredible moments that make your life more valuable than the person who replaced you at work. No one can replace mom. Kids who don't have moms suffer a lifetime. (emphasis mine)
Let me declare to all the world that my husband truly is my best friend and partner in life. I don't tell him this often enough. But if my only joy in life were wrapping my body around his and gazing into his big brown eyes, he would likely divorce me. Surprise! He respects my intellectual pursuits, too. No reasonable adult wants to be put on a pedestal like that.
Why are women still telling each other that love is all we need?
WSJ: What questions should working mothers ask themselves when deciding whether to quit their jobs and become stay-at-home mothers?
Dr. Schlessinger: The nut questions should be: Do I feel fulfilled as a woman? Do I feel like my husband's girlfriend? Do I feel like I have touched the soul of my kids? Those will help you decide.
My biggest beef with the Mommy Wars is that it perpetuates patriarchal systems by perpetuating women's self-hate. Yeah, I said it: PATRIARCHY! What else is at work when we're told that all we should be when we grow up is someone's caretaker?
WSJ: Where do stay-at-home dads fit into the picture?
Dr. Schlessinger: I recommend that during the first three years, the mom should be at home because all of the research shows that the person whose body you come out of and whose breast you suck at, at that stage, really needs to be the mom -- unless she's incompetent, irrelevant and immaterial. After that, flip a coin.
Ha, ha. Dr. Laura said "you suck." Back atcha, bitch.
WSJ: At what point do you advise mothers to go back to work?
Dr. Schlessinger: The answer is never.
Blah blah, there's more about the virtues of playing board games with your kids, which is such incredibly insightful parenting advice that I'm amazed no capitalist fatcat at Parker Brothers ever thought of it.
WSJ: Do you think it's possible for a working mother to raise a smart, successful child?
Dr. Schlessinger: I didn't write this book about working moms. I wrote it in praise of stay-at-home moms. It's a wonderful choice, but to be absolutely truthful, having been on both sides of this mentality, my heart hurts for what these women miss and what their children miss from them. No argument, no criticism. My heart just hurts -- because when you get those pudgy arms around your neck, and being told you're someone's lullaby -- the fact that a woman would miss that is so, so sad. (emphasis mine)
Did I neglect to mention that the most powerful weapon in the culture war is the reinforcement of self-hate? Women's self-hate kept them from thinking they deserved the right to vote, after all. What Laura is spewing here is no different than the ideological cult of motherhood that developed after the GIs came home from WWII and wanted their damned jobs back. Your time for riveting is over, Rosie--because you wouldn't want to miss out on a chubby pair of arms snuggling you! What kind of woman would you be then, Rosie, huh? Don't you kinda hate yourself for missing out on that womanly experience?
Do not misunderstand--I love the feel of my babies' skin. They sucked me for nourishment until they drained me dry. I play board games with them. I did, and still do, all of the things that Laura is advocating here. But to glamorize it in black and white terms is dangerous, to both women and to their families. No job should be so imbued with this kind of ridiculous mythology, much less a job that is thankless, dirty, and unpaid.
Speaking of pay, just how did Laura find the time to get famous enough to get a book publisher for this tripe? I thought she spent all of her time cuddling her son Deryk, who, according to Wikipedia, was born in 1985, making him nine years old when her radio show was syndicated. In the WSJ piece she claims that she made sure she did her on-air chats when he was in school, but looking at Wikipedia again, we also see that she published her first book in 1994. When did she write it? She wrote another in 1996, another in 1997, another in 1998, 1999..... that's a lot of writing to get done while you have a teenage boy drinking from your breast. I bet he hates her fucking guts, if only for being stuck with the name "Deryk."
But look at me, sillies! I'm pointing out the hypocrisy of another woman, and I'm not supposed to do that! I'm a nurturer! Loving others is my only role in life! I AM A MOMMY!
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Not that I mind being obscure, exactly, but the whole point of writing is being read. So in addition to submitting work to anyone anywhere who will take me, I am applying for a number of different grant-type things. Okay, okay: I am entering some contests. Sheesh. I am Midwestern to the core. Even the very mention of competition sounds uppity.
The song on my music player at this very moment is Yo La Tengo's cover of "Be Thankful for What You Got." The song's author is a soul singer from Philadelphia. YLT is a trio of humble hipster nerds from Hoboken. All four of them are more famous than me, scribbling away in my lilac-scented south Minneapolis home.
No, fame is not what I'm after. I charge through all of this paperwork, puffing up my resume as well as my confidence, because what I want is affirmation--I want to be affirmed that I am better than everyone else, or failing that, better than at least the majority of my frenemies.
My nightmare? The anonymous panel of Midwestern judges read my outrageously smug statements and my puffed-up CV, and sniff, "who does this bitch think she is?"
Friday, May 15, 2009
In June I'll have a column in the Minnesota Women's Press on the always fascinating subject of body hate. Should be a real heartbreaker, so be sure you've got ice cream on hand. Eating always helps.
July marks my debut in the pages of skirt! magazine, in which I respond to their "F-word" theme with my thoughts on combining Feminism with my Family. Fun!
And sometime in the months ahead (unsure as to when exactly) Literary Mama will provide a platform to share my thoughts on the poetry of Sylvia Plath, from the perspective of a mother with two young children reconsidering the work of another mother with two young children.
Stay tuned for when these pieces go live!
I hope the kids have the best nannies that TLC can buy. I feel genuinely sorry for them.
First there was “The Farrah,” then “The Rachel,” and now, “The Gosselin”? Jon & Kate Plus Eight’s famous mom is known almost as much for her amped up, asymmetrical hairdo as her brood of eight kids — and recent marital scandals. And when the PEOPLE cover-star sat down with Entertainment Weekly recently to talk about living in a fishbowl, she also dished on her distinctive do. While the reality star doesn’t reveal whether she’s actually named the look, she does respond, “It’s my attitude! Everybody wants it. It’s work.” The secret to getting the style right? “I have very, very thick hair, so it’s not going to work for everybody. I’ve seen people come through the book line with thin hair and [it] just won’t work. My hair stylist gets calls from all across the country.”
Thursday, May 14, 2009
But Her Other Majesty Erin Matson changed that. Today she shared with the world that she and three other feminist leaders are running for National NOW office. I am so proud I could spit, and spit I did when the e-mail announcement informed me that I ought to check out their Twitter profile for updates.
The things I do for this woman! Right now, after signing up for the damned thing, I'm going to do more. I'm going to beg each and every reader who is a NOW member in good standing to join me at the NOW National Conference in Indianapolis this June to elect this incredibly smart and talented person to lead an organization that is dear to my heart.....though not nearly as dear as she is.
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
To the left is that lady who has a reality show because she has eight kids, and who is in the news now because her hubby is cheating on her with a younger woman. Or something. I have no idea because I refuse to watch reality programming that does not feature Gordon Ramsay.
I reprint this photograph because it is evidence of a growing phenomenon among ladies of a certain age: The Reverse Mullet. It's Posh Spice in the front and Susan Powter in the back, and it's really hideous.
Addendum: the Urban Dictionary entry advises that this term ought to be reserved for emo dorks like these. I will assert my right to use it for this crazy lady, though, because I think having sextuplets is dumb.
My friend Kristi moved with her then-girlfriend from Minnesota to California some years ago, and when she came back for her first visit, she regaled some of the NOW girls with how much she liked MySpace. "You should really be writing a blog, Shannon," she said. I didn't admit that I had an account already, one that I'd been afraid to access for fear of looking like an aging hipster desperately clinging to what the cool kids like. Kristi was, and is, a decade younger and quite cool. So naturally, I did as she told me and began writing a few little entries on my page.
This was in the spring of 2006, when a professor named Linda Hirshman hit the road in support of her book Get to Work. I heard her on MPR as I was driving my kids god knows where. I remember nearly killing all three of us as I grew almost maniacal with rage. This bitch actually has the nerve to tell me that I am a failure to feminism? Because I have a Carleton degree and I'm driving around my kids instead of doing the corporate dance, I'm a traitor? And what the fuck is going on with all of her class bullshit? To Hirshman, only those in white collar jobs or academia exist.
So I blogged about it. Here's a bit of what I wrote:
The radio conversation ended with a discussion of the final example in the book, one on which Hirshman feels she can rest her entire argument. A married couple, both doctors, had some kids. The wife decided to stay home and raise the little cretins. The husband felt guilty for working 70 hour weeks, he complained to Hirshman. Why do you work so much, sir? Hirshman asked him. It seems this fellow was a pediatric oncologist who was--no joke--trying to cure childhood cancer. Ah. That's all Hirshman needed. He's curing cancer, she tells us in her book, but she (the mother) never will. I could almost hear Hirshman smirking over the airwaves when she told this tale.
You gotta admit, it's one hell of a Mommy War strike. Who's going to argue with curing childhood cancer? That one could stop any radical housewife in her tracks. But think past the smirk for a minute. Is it possible that this gentleman could work less and help with the children more? I thought the days of lone scientists toiling in dank laboratories died with Louis Pasteur. There are usually large research teams behind these sorts of discoveries. And did anyone ever think that maybe, just maybe, a guy with that level of commitment to his work ought not to have children?
Now think about this story another way. Replace "pediatric oncologist" with "short order cook." Or "drill press operator." Or "truck driver." Is the argument the same? My father was a garbageman for thirty years. What does she think of his level of self-fulfillment? Again, I have not read the book. Perhaps there are chapters and chapters full of stories about stonemasons and janitors and plumbers, but I doubt it. She doesn't seem to care. Hirshman argues, in her American Prospect article that inspired the book, that it's the "educated elite, who are the logical heirs of the agenda of empowering women" who are letting all feminists down by raising their kids. The rest of the teeming underclasses can go fuck themselves.
WOW! Kristi was right: blogging really WAS fun! But I wondered if maybe my vitriol needed a slightly larger audience. Linda Hirshman was a woman of such evil, such malevolence, that the world needed to know. I cleaned up the language a bit and sent the piece in to the "You Said" column in the Minnesota Women's Press. I received a reply only minutes later from the editor, who loved it and wanted to publish it as "The Phony Mommy Wars." When my small check arrived in the mail, it was the first time I'd been paid for work in seven years (ironic, huh?).
Today, Linda Hirshman is still writing crap about how third wave feminism is destroying the universe. That's no step forward, but now Kristi and her girlfriend are wife and wife, having married in the glory days before Prop 8. My writing career is going well--I just had a piece accepted to Skirt magazine, which will be published in July. Its subject? FEMINISM. In your face, Hirshman!
...and thank you.
Monday, May 11, 2009
The quote in the title is yet another jewel from the mouth of Courtney Love, in 1994's "I Think that I Would Die":
She lost all her innocence
Gave it to an abcess
She lost all her innocence
She said "I am not a feminist."
Kelly Clarkson: "Not at all" a feminist
In a recent interview, singer Kelly Clarkson went off on why she's not a feminist.
Would you call yourself a feminist?
No, not at all. I mean, that was the first time in my life -- which maybe I'm naïve and I've not been put in any situations like that -- but that's the first time in my life I've ever even heard someone use that mentality. I'm like, "Hey, knock-knock, 2008." Most of the men in my life have been very highly supportive. I've never had to even think like a feminist because no one around me even thinks one [sex] is higher than the other.
Really? Well it must be nice to work in an industry that's completely sexism-free! But wait...another question from the same interview.
Do you consider the record industry to be a boys' club?
I just know for a fact ... why I said that was because I was actually on a phone call with two people who did not know I was on the phone, and I literally heard somebody I used to work with say, "Well, you know what, he can get away with it because it's a guy. She's a girl, so let's just face it, it's different." And I was like, "Is this the 1950s?" I hung up and didn't listen to the rest.
Does. Not. Compute.
That is all.
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
Aimee Mann. I always liked "I'm With Stupid," but forgot about it until the song "It's Not Safe" popped up on the shuffle last week.
All you want to do is something good
So get ready to be ridiculed and misunderstood
'Cause don't you know that you're a fucking freak in this world
In which everybody's willing to choose SWINE over pearls
Emphasis added by me, of course. I've been listening to the full album nonstop since then, not even taking Bananarama breaks when Miriam and I clean out the dishwasher (hey, it's our thing) nor brushing up on the lyrics to the Conchords' "Hiphopopotamus vs. Rhymenocerous" in preparation for the show tomorrow night.
Does this ever happen to you? A twelve-year-old record you forgot about leaps off the iPod and suddenly feels like the freshest, most relevant thing ever?
And maybe everything is all for nothing
Still you'd better keep it to yourself
'Cause god knows it's not safe with anybody else
Thank you, Aimee. And a begrudging thanks to the so-proprietary-it-drives-me-fucking-nuts-but-it-has-its-charms iPod.