Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Monday, November 23, 2009
Just like mom & daddy did.
Even before I scored Sylvia Plath on the "What crazy bitch are you?" Facebook quiz, the recent suicide of her son has been on my mind. The good ladies of Jezebel.com used the occasion of Nicholas Hughes' death to open a discussion on whether those with mental illness feel it's appropriate to have children, given the likelihood of the disease being passed on. The commenters fell out predictably.
PRO-KIDS: good lord, no one knows what combination of DNA you'll pass on. Don't be so hard on yourselves. Parenting is a big fat crapshoot. So breed if you wanna, and don't worry about it!
ANTI-KIDS: good lord, I am miserable enough without taking on this load of guilt. No way would I hang this noose around my own child's neck. This dies with me.
It should be noted that Nicholas Hughes left behind no partner and no children. Sylvia, on the other hand, had been suicidal since her college years and still had two kids. Why?
A few days ago I dug out Paul Westerberg's second solo album, Eventually, and thought about this some more as the song "MamaDaddyDid" came up. From the lyrics:
Decided not to have any part of
Wonderful lie of (life) love
Decided not to raise some goddamned kid
Just like ma-ma-mama daddy did
Yes that was their way no it ain't mine
Guess they did ok at least they tried
This record came out in 1996. Paul and his wife had a son named Johnny two years later. His lifelong struggles with alcoholism and depression are well-documented.
Former Playmate and current Jim Carrey date-mate Jenny McCarthy is out with a new book about what causes autism and how it can be "healed." (I find many of her opinions to be utter bullshit, and I believe that having a son on the spectrum gives me some authority on the matter.) This book tour, however, she's trotting out a doctor who says there's link between mental illness in the family and an increased risk for autism. Hmmmmmmmm.
Liz's birthday is coming up in a few days, so she has been in my thoughts more than usual. Before she died, she fretted that her daughters would have to start getting colonoscopies in their twenties and would forever live with the fear of inheriting what killed her. I never asked if she regretted having them. I think I could guess her answer.
I suppose I picked a side when I had a biological child nine years ago, but the decision was not an educated one. Would I have listened to a reasoned argument on the matter, though? Did someone try to talk some sense into Sylvia Plath? She seems like a pretty clear-cut argument for not procreating. But who am I to judge what makes a life worth living? Sylvia's daughter seems to be doing okay. Nicholas Hughes seemed okay too, until he quit his professorship to become a potter, then hanged himself.
Parenthood is so terrifying.
Friday, November 20, 2009
These cool kitties embraced a decidedly dorky version of the DIY aesthetic, but behind the gobs of Manic Panic were some classic songs. "You Got Me" talks frankly about the aftermath of date rape, "Alive" wouldn't be out of place as the Tobi Vail track on a Bikini Kill album, and of course, "Love is the Slug," below, features some of the fiercest drum-thumping since Gina Schock got the beat. I can't overstate how important this record was to me when I was sixteen, and even as a boring old 38-year-old, I still love Fuzzbox. Enjoy.
Monday, November 16, 2009
Sunday, November 15, 2009
Below is the desperate fundraising message I posted last night to the MN NOW blog. It's a painful fact that Bart Stupak picked a great time to drive a nail into the coffin of the modern women's movement, as many folks were lulled into complacency by the success of the Carrie Bradshaw Nation. Or worse, they felt that feminism was a big stinking failure since men still don't want to change diapers, as detailed in the Shriver Report.
Feminism is an ongoing process. Our work will never be over. My four-year-old daughter's future depends on it.
Minnesota NOW will have to close its office on December 31st if I can't hustle up somewhere in the neighborhood of $10,000. Please consider making even a small donation today.
Below, the Hail Mary message:
You’re following the drama surrounding federal health care reform, so you know about the Stupak-Pitts Amendment, what Rachel Maddow called the “biggest restriction on abortion access in this country in a generation.” Our National NOW President Terry O’Neill told ABC News that “it’s not acceptable” to achieve health care reform “by pushing women back into the back alleys to die.”
Minnesota NOW, with leadership provided by our former chapter President and current National NOW Action Vice President Erin Matson, wants to coordinate Minnesota’s response.
BUT WE CAN’T.
Since 1971, Minnesota NOW members have been able to count on us to bring feminist issues to the legislature and the general public. In the last two years alone we have:
- Founded the MN CAFE (Minnesota Constitutional Amendment for Equality) Coalition to add and Equal Rights Amendment to the Minnesota Constitution
- In 2009, hosted “Feminist Stimulus NOW,” examining how the Great Recession disproportionately affects women and a workshop on finance for women
- Produced “V-Day Prior Lake 2008,” raising funds for the Southern Valley Alliance for Battered Women
- Hosted our 2008 State Conference, “Women Immigrants: Then and NOW,” in Fergus Falls to discuss anti-immigrant bias in rural Minnesota communities
We want to do more….BUT WE CAN’T.
Without your immediate support Minnesota NOW will be forced to close its St. Paul office and lay off its sole employee, our Office Coordinator, who has run every aspect of MN NOW for the last 13 years (I may be President, but I’m definitely not the brains around here—Mary Ann is).
If Minnesota NOW disappears, who will speak the truth that reproductive freedom is a civil right? Who will lobby the Legislature for constitutional gender equality? Who will offer support to a diverse group of allies like the Minnesota Choice Coalition, Marry Me Minnesota (suing to win marriage equality for same-sex couples), the Women Candidate Development Coalition, and many others?
Or will people like Bart Stupak feel increasingly empowered to restrict women’s right to self-determination? Will we lose the rights that generations upon generations of women fought like hell for?
WE NEED YOUR FINANCIAL CONTRIBUTION TODAY.
You can contribute securely online when you go to www.mnnow.org and click on GIVE NOW.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
In the early months of 2008, many good lefties were wringing their soft hands over the Democratic nominee for president. My dear friend Cathy told me her opinion, which I've never forgotten:
"Right now," she said while both were still on the campaign trail, "Hillary Clinton is as conservative as she's ever gonna be. Barack Obama, on the other hand, is as liberal as he's ever gonna be."
I dutifully cast my vote for Hillary in the DFL caucuses, one of very few people to do so in my madly, wildly liberal south Minneapolis neighborhood. Barack Obama put a twinkle in even the most hardened pinko's eye, it seemed. Come June, when Obama officially sewed up the nomination, I felt a little bad for my pantsuited sister, but I wasn't terribly disappointed. I liked this "hope" and "change" stuff, too. I really liked it! Hell, yeah! It felt great to be a LIBERAL in my country again!
I found it a little weird that the National NOW PAC decided to give Obama-Biden their official endorsement, but I accepted the argument that they had to come out swinging against the lipsticky lady from Alaska who, while admirably female, remained staunchly pro-life.
But a lot of women didn't like that. They didn't like the NOW endorsement, for they didn't like the way Obama treated Clinton in the endorsement race. They were outraged by her treatment in the press. Worst of all, they didn't like being told that they had to silence their concerns for the good of the Democratic party. How did they respond?
Party Unity, My Ass!
Oh, how the PUMAs were mocked. They were vilified as a bunch of old gals who didn't understand this too-cool third wave that washing them to sea. They roared back, growling that we young cubs didn't know half the shit they went through back in the day--because of them, I was recognized by my own name and not Mrs. Matthew, among other things. The PUMAs were fed up with the "post-feminist" generation, these ladies, women, and girls who acted like being able NOT to choose a woman candidate was a good thing.
Then we all got Stupaked.
Wrote Judith Warner in her NYT blog:
"Stupak-Pitts passed not just because a group of Catholic bishops bore down on Democratic lawmakers. It passed because it could. Maybe because our cultural memory is short; because our fantasyland nostalgia for a world of stay-at-home moms and gray flannel dads is too great, because when push comes to shove, in tough times, there’s still a willingness to throw women under the bus." (I'm a stay-at-home mom and I say HELL YEAH)
My fearless National NOW leader Terry O'Neill put it in stronger terms:
“It is not acceptable for [Obama] to achieve [health care reform] by pushing women back into the back alleys to die.”
To Cathy & the PUMAs, my sincerest apologies. PUMAs, I am sorry I didn't take you seriously. Cathy, I am sorry that I didn't trumpet your wise words from the rafters.
YOU WERE RIGHT.
Saturday, November 7, 2009
If I Can't Have You--Eve's Plum
Web in Front--Archers of Loaf
Complete Control--the Clash
Dame with a Rod--Juliana Hatfield
Alien She--Bikini Kill
Sweet 69--Babes in Toyland
Words & Guitar--Sleater-Kinney
Never Say Never--that dog
License to Confuse--Sebadoh
I Live Off You--X-Ray Spex
Makes No Sense at All--Husker Du
City of the Dead--the Clash
I Wil Dare--Replacements
Boat Song--the Picketts
Lookin' at the World Through a Windshield--Son Volt
In tribute to the hot trends of 1997, our friend Seth dressed as Rollergirl from Boogie Nights, and my sister and our friend Jesse came as Posh and Sporty Spice, respectively. My roommate Jen dressed as Carl Sagan. I don't know why.
Moby Octopad--Yo La Tengo
Someone I Care About--Modern Lovers
Say No Go--De La Soul
Young Offender--New Order
Big Fun--Inner City
Girl You Know It's True--Milli Vanilli
Night of the Living Baseheads--Public Enemy
Love's Theme--Love Unlimited Orchestra
The Only One I Know--Charlatans UK
Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Dub--Apollo Four-Forty
I remember precious little about this party--I got madly drunk, just as Courtney would. For some time I forgot that Liz was there, visiting from Boston, just because she didn't appear in any of the pictures. She stuffed a pillow under a lace dress and was a shotgun bride. I was a poor hostess, unfortunately, spending far more time securing a drunken hookup than paying my visiting friend any attention. If Liz were here I could call her for her version of the story, and I know she'd take great pride in embarrassing me over my horny tactlessness.
After Liz died, I never expected to feel that parts of my history, my life, would disappear with her. What else don't I remember? What more could she have shared with me? And where the hell are the rest of the mixtapes I made over the years?? I know there are more, dozens upon dozens more. Where did they go?
The Buddhists teach that nothing is permanent: not parties, not mixtapes, not memories, not even people.