Wednesday, September 30, 2009

All I Will Say About Roman Polanski

One year after Roman Polanski went on the run he said this:
“If I had killed somebody, it wouldn’t have had so much appeal to the press, you see? But… f—ing, you see, and the young girls. Judges want to f— young girls. Juries want to f— young girls. Everyone wants to f— young girls!”
Any excuses as to how old he thought the girl was, etc., etc., etc., are moot for many reasons. But this...this quote should disassemble any apologist arguments for two very simple reasons:
1. Polanski admits that he "wants to fuck young girls" and attempts to normalize it.

2. He knows that rape is a crime, and compares the act to a crime as violent and serious as murder.
Hollywood, and the entertainment industry in general, survives on the sexual exploitation of women - particularly young women. Polanski is at once the symptom and cause of the system, but what is so gut-wrenching is that he admits it unapologetically.

And to those who say his "art" somehow places him outside the confines of human decency, I have this to say: Rosemary's Baby and Repulsion are only classics because they have become historical documents that embody the fear of feminist liberation and the attempts to control women, whether through religion, economics, body image, or the threat of rape. The movies are creepfests, and now we have a better understanding of why.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Gabby Sidibe - I'm Awesome

Here is your quote of the day:

"They try to paint the picture that I was this downtrodden, ugly girl who was unpopular in school and in life, and then I got this role and now I'm awesome. But the truth is that I've been awesome, and then I got this role."—Gabby Sidibe, the star of Precious

Via Shakesville.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Banned Books Week

The last week of September isn't just the last week of my 20's (it's okay, really) it is also Banned Books Week.

In high school I remember a few very loud parents flipping out about The Bean Trees. Frankly, as a freshman I thought the book was fantastic and not just because of the illicit mention of a penis. After the eighth grade reading list, I was just damn happy it wasn't another book about a boy and his dog - or a boy and his pig.

This year's most challenged books include:
And Tango Makes Three - Not gay penguins! I wonder if they reconsidered after it turned out the penguins were bisexual...

Gossip Girl series - Turns out it was books before it was a television show. I'm never one to accuse a book of what it's TV adaptation does, so I'll refrain from comment.

TTYL; TTFN; L8R, G8R series - I couldn't quite bring myself to read a book full of texting, but I betcha a whole bunch of teens love it. Also, it doesn't look like any books about teenage boys claiming their sexuality are the list...strange...

Uncle Bobby's Wedding - Oh noes! Its the gays again! Showing an example of a loving family to boot, how dare they? One librarian had a pretty awesome response.
Banned Books Week is sponsored by the American Library Association, the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, the Association of American Publishers, the American Society of Journalists and Authors, and the National Association of College Stores. It is endorsed by the Center for the Book of the Library of Congress.

There is a list of ways that you and your local library or book store can support Banned Books Week. One of them is to "include a Banned Books Week feature in your organization's newsletter or on your blog." Since I am a nerd and always do what (radical) librarians tell me to do...done!

They have also put together a map of all of the known challenges across the country, including one just through the tunnel in Concord, California:
"Lois Lowry's The Giver was challenged by two parents at the Mount Diablo School District who objected to its descriptions of adolescent pill use, suicide and lethal injections given to babies and the elderly."
Here's a thought: how about you read the book. Not only is The Giver an all around amazing book, it is a dystopian novel. For those of you who don't like readin' stuff that means it takes place in a time period that is nor our own and is the opposite of a utopia. In other words, it is saying that those things that you are so ignorantly railing against are bad! Then again, I also wrote a graduate school paper on the entire series (yes, Lowry wrote two more recently) about how the book is also against anti-intellectualism and a lack of analytical curiosity and supports adolescent individualism and agency, but we wouldn't want you kids getting any ideas, would we?

I doubt that any the same folks that asked for these books to be pulled have asked the same of the text books that have been proven to have inaccurate information. Yeah...nope.

View Book Bans and Challenges, 2007-2009 in a larger map

Thanks to Sociological Images for the heads up.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Weekly Reads

As usual there was a bunch of stuff this week that I didn't get to or people had smarter things to say than I did:

Ann discussed the slippery slope of population control as a means to fighting climate change.

Young Ukranian women are claiming their heritage as Amazons.

Justice Sotomayor might just be challenging the idea of the corporation as person.

Kids are coming out younger leading people to ask how do they know. Good question, how is it any different than straight teenagers knowing they are straight?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Princess Vader

When my niece turned three I was faced with the ultimate aunt dilemma: give in to the suggestion that her gifts be princess themed, or start prepping her early for her feminist awakening. I chose the somewhat subversive middle ground. A sparkly pink soccer ball (athletics!), a pink keyboard (music is good for the brain!), and a princess costume - it was blue and it involved LED's in the skirt (technology!). Yes, we spoil our niece and nephew every chance we get.

At one point in the day, after presents had been opened and everyone was high on sugar, she had the costume on over her jeans while we played something more akin to keep-away than soccer. My brother-in-law turned to me and said, "that is result of the work you do. A little girl choosing to be a princess in jeans and a soccer player."

Of course, the fact that she and I can wear jeans and play sports is thanks to generations before us, but it makes me ridiculously happy when kids independently subvert the giant and pervasive structure of gendered binaries. Which is why this made my day:

And not just because my sister (who carried around playschool cowboys in a gold lame purse) always wanted to play Skelator, Stripe, and Darth Vader to my She-Ra, Gizmo and Princess Leia.

Image via Cake Wrecks.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Austin Chronicles: No Need to Worry

I am a worrier. I can worry and fret about things like nobody's business - regardless if the worry is logical, or even something I have control over.

Did I leave my purse at the bar or restaurant? I've shot out of bed and raced around the house looking for it, even though I would have needed my keys to get in the door, and my keys would have been in my purse...which is sitting on the floor by the couch.

Did I make sure to pack absolutely every toiletry and over-the-counter medicine and extra pair of socks I would need every time I traveled outside of the country? Well, I had a three page supply list that I checked off when I organized what I would be taking, and again when I packed my suitcase, and again when I repacked my suitcase because I was convinced that I might have checked something off that wasn't actually in the bag. Nevermind that the places I have traveled to include Mexico, France, Italy, Ireland and England - you know, places that don't have aspirin or socks.

Did I use the wrong tense in the second clause of the third sentence of my answer to question 17 of 23 in the University half of my grad school application? Probably not, since I had re-read it twelve times and had it spell-checked by the five smartest people I know. Oh, and my department, who would actually be making the decision regarding my admission, wouldn't look at that section of the application anyway.

I can keep myself awake and give myself an upset stomach until the cows come home. I'm an expert at it. However, after I survived the process that may have given me an ulcer from worry (yeah I worried about that too), and was accepted to UT, after that...well, I didn't really worry about much.

Paying for school? Filled out a FAFSA, got a moderately sized unsubsidized loan. Check.

Finding a place to live? An email came through the department listserv. Check.

Finding roommates? The current occupants said they would help find the additional roommates that I'd never met. Check.

Moving farther away than I ever had for more than a month? I left the big items with Adam, packed my car with what would fit, shipped the light stuff, and bought a bed, table, and kitchen supplies from the previous tenants when I got there. Check.

Driving my ten year old sedan that had been recalled five times across the southwest in the middle of August? I got a tune up, new tires, cobbled together directions from Google and AAA, stocked up on water and snacks, and hit the road.

I don't know if it was just my excitement about finally starting graduate school (because I am a giant nerd) or that I had spent so much time worrying about being unemployed, finding a direction in life, and trying to change the world that any definitive plan for two years gave me enough direction to take a breath; but the things that I would have worried about at any other point in my life weren't that big a deal. I didn't worry about excelling in school or even liking my classes, because it was school - it would be awesome. I didn't stress about making new friends, because I would be surrounded by intelligent exciting people - which I was. I didn't even worry enough about getting myself to Austin to actually map a route to my house. I had directions from Oakland to Austin - that's it. No addresses. Luckily, my house was on a numbered street, and some of the exit signs had numbers, too.

I didn't even worry about the fact that my unsubsidized loan was only enough to pay for my tuition and rent. Books? Food? I figured that finding a job that provided enough income to support what seemed to me a ridiculously low cost of living compared to the Bay Area wouldn't be too hard.

I spent nearly seven months in the ranks of the San Francisco unemployed in 2002 and 2003. I have no less than 147 unrequited coverletters to prove it - and it wasn't just because I was picky. Sure, there are a lot of them addressed to organizations that I admired, but there are also a lot of less formal email drafts to retail shops, coffeehouses and even the I-hope-this-isn't-a-thinly-veiled-porno inquiries about one-off jobs in Craigslist's ETC section. But, between 2003 and 2005, I managed to put some odd jobs, a stint in highish-end retail, and an attempt at changing the direction of the country (and its administration), on my resume.

Luckily, I was right. It seemed there just weren't as many folks inundating every Craigslist posting in Austin, and the mention of "graduate student" in a town flooded with tens of thousands of undergraduates gave me a little leverage. Which is why the day after I answered my first Craigslist posting, I had an ill-fitting tuxedo shirt, bow tie and a catering job.

To be continued...

If you want to read more about a California gal living in Texas during the Bush Administration, here are the complete Austin Chronicles

OMG! Liv Dolls Totally Aren't Bratz, LOL

Here's an idea: if you set out to create a new toy with the mindset that you are going to break out of your trend of making "toys for boys," you are probably going to create a toy that won't offer a real alternative in the "girl aisle." Particularly if you think the problem with Bratz is their collagen-injected lips and inflexible joints, and that Barbie's only problem is that she sets her career sights too high.

You can read more about Spin Masters (no really, that is their name) attempt to give 6-10 year-old girls "what they really want" at Mother Jones.

Image via ShoppingBlog.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Fun with Keywords

This week's trend? Nuts:
great things about testicles

testicles exploding?

girl kicking testicles movies

little girls squeeze little boys testicles
Fun times.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Buying Organic Makes You an A**hole

Okay, maybe not an asshole, but perhaps not as nice as people who don't.

University of Toronto researches questioned whether "green consumers" are as socially responsible in all aspects of their lives. Turns out that buying eco-friendly products might give you license to think your next action does have to be so thoughtful. You can read the whole thing here.

Your Friday Awesome

Lets face it. This this week has been chock full of asshats yelling about how they aren't racist and this country isn't racist while people are holding signs of the President of the United States made to look like every stereotype of those crazy people from Africa (its a country right?) that are not like "us" and are evil pinko communists...or fascists...or wait we are mixing our metaphors here...nevermind, look at that guy cause he is totally more racist than we are!

In other words, it has been a cringe-inducing, not awesome week of dealing with people who do not understand logic. So how do you engage people who renounce logic and critical thinking (because its what those commie pinko bastards do)? Well sometimes you don't. Instead you exploit idiots because you have just had enough.

That is what Heather Armstrong of Dooce did. Since she has had to deal with asshats of the internet, who actually might not be racist, but are sure as shit sexist, homophobic and just plain kooky, she created Monetizing the Hate, where all hateful comments go not to die, but to put some change in her kid's college and/or therapy and/or candy funds.

Of course, while the project is awesome, the comments are drivel, so here is your unicorn chaser:

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Why I Am Proud to Be a Carter Baby

Because he speaks out against racism veiled as partisanship:
I think an overwhelming portion of the intensely demonstrated animosity toward President Barack Obama is based on the fact that he is a black man, that he's African-American. I live in the South, and I've seen the South come a long way, and I've seen the rest of the country, that shared the South's attitude toward minority groups at that time, particularly African-Americans—that racism, in connection, still exists. And I think it's bubbled up to the surface because of a belief from many white people, not just in the South but from around the country, that African-Americans are not qualified to lead this great country. It's an abominable circumstance, and grieves me and concerns me very deeply.
And because he decided to leave the Southern Baptist Convention at the age of 84:
I have been a practicing Christian all my life and a deacon and Bible teacher for many years. My faith is a source of strength and comfort to me, as religious beliefs are to hundreds of millions of people around the world. So my decision to sever my ties with the Southern Baptist Convention, after six decades, was painful and difficult. It was, however, an unavoidable decision when the convention's leaders, quoting a few carefully selected Bible verses and claiming that Eve was created second to Adam and was responsible for original sin, ordained that women must be "subservient" to their husbands and prohibited from serving as deacons, pastors or chaplains in the military service...

...The truth is that male religious leaders have had - and still have - an option to interpret holy teachings either to exalt or subjugate women. They have, for their own selfish ends, overwhelmingly chosen the latter. Their continuing choice provides the foundation or justification for much of the pervasive persecution and abuse of women throughout the world. This is in clear violation not just of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights but also the teachings of Jesus Christ, the Apostle Paul, Moses and the prophets, Muhammad, and founders of other great religions - all of whom have called for proper and equitable treatment of all the children of God. It is time we had the courage to challenge these views.
Thanks, Jimmy.

Photo via Habitat for Humanity.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Daily Mail: Wear a Girdle and Reject Modern Medicine or You're Gonna Be a Fatty

According to the Daily Mail British women have become fatties in the last 50 years:
We found that hips were an inch-and-a-half bigger, as were busts; then when we got to the waists and found six-and-a-half inches difference, it was: "Wow - everyone, man and woman, has a belly now"
A whole inch-and-a-half! Geez, that is huge! Never mind that British women are also two inches taller. And why are they taller?

It's partly down to nutrition - a better and more plentiful diet, explains Bernard Harris, professor of the history of social policy at Southampton University.

But, more surprisingly, our increased height reflects the lessening demands of the environment. Now, with warmer homes, better medicine and improved sanitation, our energy - significantly in childhood - can be devoted to growth.

There is also the cleanliness of our environment to consider. Antibiotics did not become commonplace until the mid-Fifties.

'In unsanitary conditions, you'll suffer diarrhoea more frequently and therefore retain fewer nutrients in the body. If you suffer repeated infections, you use up energy fighting them off, while you may also feel less like eating.'

Frankly, I think the change in waist size that the Daily Mail chronicled is not only because British women are turning into the healthy, non-diarrhea-having, non-valium-popping, fatties the article suggests. They do mention that what we eat has changed, due to companies' tendency to shove as much cornsyrup and saturated fat as they can into our food to make sure it is tasty enough for us to keep buying it. But, considering that the the article is about the results of the UK National Sizing Survey, produced by clothing companies and department stores, it might be worth considering how clothing sizes and undergarments have changed.

My generation's bodies are different from our grandmothers and mothers simply because we don't constrict our waists with belts or girdles. It used to be that when you went to a department store, there was a "Foundations" department. That's because while we may have dropped the corset in the 1920's we very quickly picked up girdles. And that hourglass figure that the Daily Mail misses so much? That was poked and prodded and sculpted and shoved into place by a bunch of elastic and boning.

As the waist-belt and high-waisted pants have come back into fashion, those of us raised in the age of 80's casual, and who came of age in grunge, have realized one side effect of the trend. To put it mildly, those 70's inspired high-waisted pants, make a girl a little gassy. One friend finally got her mom to try on a pair of jeans that sat below her natural waist and her mom thought it was a breakthrough - her digestive system worked better!

Also, we need to say something about the idea that boobs are bigger. Yes, its true, they are a bit bigger, we are bigger everywhere else and we eat a hell of a lot more artificial hormones. And, there is that pesky little friend of women's liberation - the pill. But, since I've never written a study on a direct correlation between these factors and increased bust size (though lets say I've got more than enough anecdotal evidence to prove the point) all one needs to do is watch Mad Men to see that comparing 1950's and 60's bra sizes to today's is like, well, comparing apples to oranges...or maybe apples to missles.

So thanks Daily Mail, but I'll take my antibiotics, birth control, and undergarments that let me take a full breath over a couple of inches any day.

Via Jezebel.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Sunday Bible Study

Four billboards are gracing the 1-30 in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area through September, including this one:

Five local Metropolitan Community Churches installed them as an attempt "to engage people in friendly discussion about Jesus’ message of inclusion." They are part of the larger Would Jesus Discriminate campaign:
"Throughout the history of Christianity, many religious institutions have used their interpretation of the Bible to justify discrimination against women, ethnic minorities, and people with a different sexual orientation and/or identity issues. In particular, the dominant conversations around sexual orientation and gender identity issues have been framed in religious bigotry and intolerance. Many still maintain discriminatory beliefs, not because they think it is right, but because they have never actually examined their own beliefs closely. This campaign asks the question and initiates the dialog around the question: "Would Jesus discriminate?" Our viewpoint is that discrimination was not a part of Jesus' message, nor is it part of the best of any Christian church's ministry."
Of course, the local news station framed the story with quotes about hatred, like Pastor Sam Dennis who thinks its appropriate to equate homosexuality with adultery and murder. How charitable of him. And from Christine Lutz who was "disgusted" and asked "how dare you take the scriptures and twist it to fit your needs." Yeah, Christine. Good question. How dare you?

I would rather give the final word to voices of compassion, love and humanity, like the Reverend Colleen Farruagh:"There are people who have told us to reread our Bible which is the very question we're asking others to do."

Thanks to Amplify Your Voice for the heads up.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Nerd Alert: Fun with Keywords 2

I can't help myself. Keywords are so much fun, especially when the most recent things people have Googled to end up here are things like this:
no f'ing

weird cars

pooper woman video

"Your Mom's a Bitch" shirt

little sexbaby

testicle sucking movies
I'm guessing that they didn't find what they were looking for.

These folks however, make me want to talk about more serious subjects:

veterans benefits are they good enough
So, if you happened to find yourself here by Googling something, Hi! And thanks for stopping by.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Your Friday Awesome

Our First Lady not only helps to paint during a United We Serve event with Habitat for Humanity, but does so standing on a makeshift step in purple converse.


Photo via The Official White House Photostream .

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Update: As if the bad design wasn't enough...

My friend Nnekay sent me this email today as a follow-up to my posts about the craptasticly designed VA mental health ads that are all over the Bay Area:
I was on bart not too long ago and saw the ad. Which was as horrible as you described it, but then I noticed something else was wrong...something that would make the sign a touch more difficult to read.

Yep, that's right. An ad (albeit a poorly designed one) attempting to offer our returning men and women help in finding secure footing after returning from warfare, was placed upside down.

Nnekay says that we might be able to explain this carelessness because the ad next to it was this:

I am sure the worker who put these ads up was rushed and exhausted since, while we can question the thinking behind many BART policies, I'm assuming they have the wherewithal to put these up when the BART isn't running between midnight and 5:00am, but oh the irony.

Update: Dante's Inferno Continues Marketing Fail

It looks like the promoters for EA's upcoming Dante's Inferno realized just what an epic fail the "Sin to Win" contest was and are attempting to buy back their reputation and morality.

According to Joystiq, EA sent checks for $200 (in some pretty fancy packaging) to gaming site editors complete with this little catch-22:
by cashing this check you succumb to avarice by hoarding filthy lucre but by not cashing it, you waste it, and thereby surrender to prodigality
In the same tradition of PixelPoet who was a runner-up in "Sin to Win" and provided EA with some suggestions as to what would put the prizes to better use, Joystiq's editor-in-chief Christopher Grant came up with a pretty awesome idea:
... how about this? How about we cash it, and donate all $200 to The White House Project, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization "that aims to advance women's leadership in all communities and sectors – up to the U.S. presidency – by filling the leadership pipeline with a richly diverse, critical mass of women"? Of course, we'll make the donation in EA's name. It won't make up for Sin to Win, but the road to redemption's got to start somewhere, right?
Christopher Grant, you are my new favorite gaming blogger and this lady gamer has officially subscribed to your RSS feed.

In other gaming news, for everyone who rushed out to buy Beatles: Rock Band, if you download "All You Need is Love" from XBox Live for $1.99 proceeds will go to Doctors Without Borders. Small change, but they are also auctioning off Beatles themed consoles. As of today at noon, the bid for the first console stood at $7,500.

Photo from

PS: It seems you just can't stay on top of awful gaming marketing. Codemasters (no, really) decided to promote Dirt2 with a nice little flash game that involves tattooing a woman's dismembered torso, particularly her breasts. Your mamas are so proud.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Because Only Douches Have Cars That Need a New Paint Job

It is always nice when companies help us choose from the vast array of service providers available. By actively targeting the douchebag demographic, it aides in my decision of whether or not to utilize their services. Thus is the case with Earl Scheib Paint & Body.

There I was just watching Discovery Channel - sure, it's got all that crazy hard science about if you really can create a soda/mentos fountain, but it also has animals and stuff so girls can watch it too - when I saw this:

This ad clearly caters to the "I can't keep my zipper up" demographic. But, that is totally cool, because women are just sooooooo emotional and will get all "that time of the month" on your shit.

Then I saw this one:

Here they are clearly catering to the "I think that girls that look like 1980's Malibu Barbie are like totally hot and my neck is so huge from workin' out that I can't button the first three buttons of my shirt" demographic. It also points out for us that a new paint job is much like a new spray on tan - it looks nice on TV, but weird in real life.

And then I discovered this gem on the interwebs:

In this one the dude-bros went really deep. It explores the origins of a young man spurned by women who only care about superficial material possessions, which leads him to reassert his masculinity by becoming the cheating, leering douchebag of the previous commercials.

Thanks Earl Scheib, for explaining the psyche of modern 1988-1992 man.

PS: You might want to think about revamping your slogan. One assumes that "Scheib Happens" refers to the common colloquial phrase "shit happens." Basic logic leads your consumer to believe that Sheib therefore equals "shit." Just a thought.

Update: Hollaback - War Zone

This weekend I went out with a female friend of mine to a friend's show. It was another indie venue where one wouldn't expect the unapologetic douchebaggery of other clubs - just that pungent aura of hipsterdom (a little stale PBR, danger dogs and vintage clothing musk).

The venue is technically within walking distance of my house, but it becomes much too far a walk once the sun goes down. Which is why we spent a little while searching for parking. We initially saw a spot about three and a half blocks from the club, but my friend determined that it was "too far" from the club. At first, I thought that three and a half blocks was too far because she was wearing a skirt and the night had gotten chilly. But, when we left the show I was reminded that going out with my husband has resulted in me letting down my guard too much.

We ended up finding a spot about two blocks away on the side of the venue that has officially become gentrified, instead of the side that is still considered "transitional." But, before we could even cross the street, we were confronted by a young man blocking our path, asking "how we were doing," and how old we were. We had to dodge past him, while keeping watch on his two silent but lingering buddies, once the light changed. It was a pretty shitty way to end the night.

Which is why I think this documentary by Maggie Hadleigh-Wes is fantastic. Made in 1998 it is a precursor to Hollaback, but it also takes it a bit farther. Armed with a Super 8 camera, she confronts the men who make comments and leer at her and other women. Some are belligerent, some embarrassed, and some aren't even aware of what they had done. I wouldn't suggest confronting men as a daily practice, but it amazing how powerful a camera (or two) can be.

You can buy the entire movie from the Media Education Foundation, along with a bunch of other amazing documentaries.

Thanks to Ann at Feministing for the heads up.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Love Letters Project

As I've said before, my husband and I were lucky enough to be married when everyone in the state of California could be. We were thrilled that our marriage license read "Party A" and "Party B" (though I think two lines with "Spouse" might have been nicer). We filled out the license at 8:30 in the morning before we headed off to work, and knowing that many other couples were filling out the same lines at the same time, made us even more giddy.

To be honest, for most of my adult life, I was a bit ambivalent about the politics of marriage. I figured if the religious right was going to throw a hissy fit about extending marriage rights to all, then why not just change the semantics. Legalize "civil unions" for everyone and leave "marriage" to the religious folks. In other words, let everyone go to the courthouse to obtain all the rights provided by the state, but if you want to have a it recognized by whatever god you believe in and be "married," more power to 'ya, but that shouldn't have anything to do with the law.

The problem is that uniting two people with all of the legal obligations and privileges of the state ignores the heart of the matter - just that, the heart. Thankfully, in the U.S. we have moved past the origins of marriage, you know things like kinship and dowries, so that for most of us marriage really is about love. And there is just something far more romantic about telling people, "We're married," than, "We are civilly unioned!"

Which is why I think The Love Letters Project is a very powerful way to work toward marriage equality. Crystal and Christina were married in Iowa this summer, but their marriage is not recognized in Wisconsin where they live, nor is it in much of the country, and of course not by the federal government. Which is why Crystal has been writing a letter to President Obama every day, relating the daily joys of her marriage and asking him to extend civil rights to everyone. She even sent him postcards from their honeymoon in Spain:

Thanks to Laura at Adventures of a Young Feminist for the heads up.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Nerd Alert: Fun with Keywords

I admit it, I am addicted to site logs.

I have a ridiculous interest in finding out where people have come from, who has linked to me (yay!), and how long they have stayed. Granted its a lot more fun with the site I work for that garners 10,000 times as much traffic as this blog, but still.

For example these are some of the most recent keywords that people used to find this blog:
"joey alison sayers"

blockbuster movies suck
(that one is a repeat offender)

buffy sexism

little things you would forget when moving into a house

old navy jeans for women with curves are not

old navy modelquin fat

shakesville "megan fox"

...the most esoteric...
speak those things not though they were

...and my favorite...
kind of suck
So, in other words, if I want to drive traffic I should start talking more about crappy retail advertising and shitty movies. I can do that.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

You Can Tell A Lot From Behind

I grew up in a 1970's California subdivision where property lines ended at shared fence lines that functioned to foster un-neighborly conduct about whether or not it was ethical to pick the lemons from your neighbor's tree if the branches came over the line (it is), or what qualified as a "good neighbor" fence (making your neighbor look at the metal poles you installed in five pounds of concrete each, while you enjoy your newly stained redwood slats, does not). Which is why the only alleys I was familiar with were the concrete caverns adorned with fire escapes from West Side Story and the dry, weedy East LA ones in Blood In, Blood Out.

When I moved to San Francisco I got to learn about alleys - like how they aren't always behind buildings, sometimes they are the actual address, especially if they are an artists' co-op or an uber-cool hipster bar with no sign, or a really amazing collection of murals. However, they usually are pretty dirty and sketchy and most of the time smell like garbage and urine.

I became intimately familiar with alleys when I lived in the Mission District in a 1960's (?) duplex that was a little schizophrenic about what constituted indoor and outdoor space. We had one of those death defying staircases with individual steps like the Brady Bunch, but rather than being made of wood or covered in shag carpeting, they were made of cement and provided traction through gravel, which is also what the landing was made out of so you could really do some damage if you managed to fall down them - surprisingly I did not. We also had parking (glory be to god!) off of the alley which meant there was a garage door held up with plywood and corrugated metal, but no roof.

Mission District alleys get a lot of action, whether it is drunken hipsters wondering if this door is the new hot spot, gutter punks dumpster diving behind the new vegan restaurant, muscular dudes in white t-shirts chasing each other with what may be brass knuckles or maybe a gun, junkies looking for a little privacy, and me driving into our not-really-a-carport. The best was when my mom came to visit and I opened the garage door to someone shooting up into their groin. Awesome.

Of course alleys come in all sorts of forms, usually dependent on property value. I usually avoid the alleys that surround my office in downtown San Francisco, not because they smell like pee, but because they don't. While the Mission hipsters have a hard time finding the new scene, the Ladies Who Lunch are searching for that new bohemian cafe with the excellent wine list opened by the sous chef from French Laundry after they've had a successful meeting with the designer at the precious third floor walk-up studio for their daughter's (who lives in an artists' co-op in the Mission) wedding dress. There are also the crowds of web project managers, actuaries and ad sales reps that still have jobs sipping fairly traded, shade grown coffee that takes exactly 7.625 minutes to brew per cup through an organic linen filter with Fiji water.

I recently ordered an office lunch from one of the places that brews that kind of coffee and realized 1) since all sandwiches in downtown San Francisco are gonna run you between eight and ten bucks, it might as well be made out of locally sourced heirloom tomatoes and 2) they had outdoor the alley.

One day this week, I didn't manage to roll out of bed in time to make lunch, and since it is September and we have officially entered San Francisco's summer and I am reading a book that is enhanced by reading in the sunshine (most qualify for this, but The Road, not so much), I figured I'd treat myself to a sandwich with heirloom tomatoes on bread with artfully placed sesame seeds. I ordered my sandwich, opted for the free cucumber water instead of waiting the 7.625 minutes for coffee and went out back to sit at one of the cafe tables.

It really was quite lovely. I kept losing my place in my book (and my sandwich) because I couldn't stop staring at the gutters. Where was the stagnant water? Did it really smell like hand pressed olive oil and merlot instead of urine? Granted, I felt something of an impostor, but it really was lovely.

However, I've got a question. If the alley is full of cafe tables and umbrellas, where the hell do the poor servers and line cooks have to haul the trash?

photo: dcJohn's Flickr

Once More, With Feeling

My post about the craptastic mental health ads that the VA has created, has been edited and is up at Mother Jones. If you didn't read it the first time, you can read it there.

My editor* was on vacation when I initially wrote the story, but thought it was worthy. While it might be a bit repetitive here, veterans issues can use all the attention they can get.

As an aside, it turns out my personal blog voice and MoJo voice aren't too different - except for some reason I can come up with wittier titles there.

*Is it silly that I get excited saying "I have an editor" even if she is just a cubicle wall away?

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

No, You Don't Need to Speak with My Husband

One of the people I met in Austin was the amazing Starr C. who has started the insightful and funny Suburbtopia. Some might call it a mom blog, but really it is about living as a feminist when you are also a wife and mother and graduate student and a veteran and work full-time and you do all of those things awesomely. Really. In the middle of Texas.

She recently shared her experience of trying to find a realtor whose gender norms were not firmly planted in 1952. After setting up the initial process on her bank's website, the bank-assigned realtor called and said this:
I'm sorry, I thought Starr was your husband's name. Should I discuss the selling of your home with him or is it okay to talk with you on these matters?
When Starr C. told her that she could more than handle the call, the realtor then questioned whether or not it made sense for her to work in addition to her husband, because could her salary really cover the cost of day care?

Yeah, that is how you start a good client relationship. By being totally intrusive and condescending. Oh, and the realtor was a woman. Who obviously works, and who works in real estate. But, of course she assumed that she makes more than Starr C. and understands real estate better. Obviously she hasn't met Starr C. That woman is probably smarter and more skilled than most people on the planet. Needless to say, she got a new realtor.

In a recent post, I talked about how I chose not to change my name when I got married, and that it has not caused the end of civilization. But, regardless of the fact that I did not change my name when I got married, the assumptions tied up in the grand idea of "marriage" are so ingrained that most people assume you have taken your husband's name, regardless of whether or not you have. Built into that assumption is the belief that along with taking your husband's name, you also relinquish your power to your husband, particularly your economic power.

Starr C.'s post reminded me of my first experience of working against this assumption. As I said, most people assume we have the same name. The only reason they know we don't is if both of our names our on a document. And in that case, there have never been questions of why our names don't match, but of whose name should go first.

The most jarring example of this, was when we filed our first taxes as a married couple. Since it was our first time filing, we figured it would be a good idea to talk to a professional to see if we should file jointly or separately and to make sure we got it all right. We gathered all our paperwork and went down to visit a very jolly man my family has known for years. All was going well. We asked if we should file separately or jointly. He said jointly would be our best bet. He asked if I changed my name. Nope. Okay, moving on. Then he asked who should be the primary name and social security number on the return and who should be the "spouse". Both my husband and I said I would be.

You would have thought we said to make our cat the primary. For a good five minutes the accountant tried to dissuade us and make me the spouse, "because that is what he IRS is used to." Really? I thought they were used to processing things by social security number. Oh, and they are also used to seeing my tax returns because I hadn't gone straight from being my father's dependent to my husband's, since you know coverture is over.

My insistence (backed by my husband) that my name be first on the return had nothing to do with asserting our feminist principles to the federal government. It has to do with the simple reality that our relationship is egalitarian to begin with. Each of us have different strengths and interests, and based on those strengths and interests we divide up the household responsibilities. Sure, no one likes doing the dishes, so we try and do our fair share. However, when it comes to the economic front, I am the one that makes sure bills are paid and we are getting the best deal on our cell phone and internet contracts.

Not because I am better and handling money, we make decisions jointly and my husband has managed his own finances and that of his touring band for years, but because I am more comforatble dealing with people on the phone when things having to deal with money don't run smoothly. A wierd charge on our credit card? I call to clarify it. Our internet is down? I call to see what the problem is. Our renter's insurance needs to be adjusted? I call to talk to them about it. Why? Mostly because I am more comfortable asking to speak with someone's manager when I don't get the answer I need or they continue to try and up-sell me.

So, if I am the one handling all this on a daily basis, wouldn't it make sense that I be the one to file our return? Afterall, the world revolves around social security numbers, or at least the last four digits. When we merged a few accounts where it made sense to keep my husband as the primary, it has been a pain to try and remember the last four digits of his social security number in order to get anything accomplished. And god forbid if something was wrong on our return, it would be me that ended up talking to the IRS.

Of course, I didn't share all of these details with our tax guy. Instead, I resorted to framing the discussion in terms of finance-speak and asserted, "I am the CFO of this household!"

It worked. My name is first. Now lets just hope I never have to talk to them.


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