Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Quote of the Day - Jos on Adam Lambert and the Patriarchy

"Hey male gaze, your arousal is showing."

Read more about Jos' take on Adam Lambert's performance and subsequent ousting from Good Morning America, on Feministing.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Oh, America

FYI: "Fairness" and "straight-talk" are not policies. But, oh yeah...taxes are so annoying with all those roads, schools, and medicare that they create...

Thanks, Republican Party for giving us the gun-totting, wolf killing, Alaskan version of a sparkly vampire celebrity created through Orwellian double-speak. But, I guess it doesn't really matter since if the Red Dawn Russian/Arab terrorist a-bomb doesn't get us before 2012 those feminists and immigrants will...

Friday, November 20, 2009

Your Friday Awesome

We interrupt this almost total lack of posting this week (thanks to a pinched shoulder nerve - yay! I'm old...) to bring you another announcement about my awesome circle of friends and family. Cause you know what? They deserve it, dammit.

My ridiculously talented husband has his first gallery show this weekend. It's a benefit for Robogames. While we aren't quite that kind of soldering-geeky, he does paint awesome robots and make fantastic robot costumes, so if you are in the Bay Area come check it out. There is ample parking, its public transit accessible thanks to the new 3rd Street rail, and will have beer:

He's not the only one that makes stuff though. My friend Renee just opened up a new Etsy store, Brisk. She's selling fingerless gloves and will be selling the patterns to make them soon. Oh, and she has totally awesome models...

This circle of folks is also smart and witty, so be sure to check out my friend Nnekay and her musings about libraries and Bay Area living, and my friend Starr C., who is my role model for parenting and general awesomeness at Suburbtopia.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Duh, Tires are Only for Dudes

Thanks, Bridgestone for adding your self to list of things I'm not going to buy. Though I'm sure you don't really care since I'm a nag, and never a driver:

Things I Read This Week

Latoya reminds us what is important to focus on when it comes to the Stupak amendment.

Jenn has a smart analysis and awesomely titled post on Stupak.

Is Megan Fox just a really smart business woman exploiting the exploiters? Sady and Amanda discuss.

Facebook needs to enforce gender binaries so it knows what to sell you.

Friday, November 13, 2009

MY Friday Awesome

I got scooped by Sarah Haskins. Why is that awesome? Because it is further proof that we need to be best friends:

To be clear. It is not the "rape allegory" and fact that Broadview security is capitalizing on the very real threat that women face, it's this:

Sarah Haskins is awesome.
I wrote a post on Broadview's commercials on Wednesday that I needed to spellcheck before posting.
Which means, I think like Sarah Haskins.
Therefore, I must also be awesome.

And again, we should be besties.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

This is What a Feminist Family Looks Like

This was originally going to be a post about ridiculous, sensationalist art projects, be they a hoax web page or an actual rape tunnel (Yeah...wait a minute I'll get to that).

Instead, this is a post how awesome my family is...and how their awesomeness energizes me and gives me hope for the future.

This afternoon my brother-in-law post a link to this on my Facebook profile:

Please describe the project.

In the 4D Gallery main room, I’ve constructed a 22 ft tunnel out of plywood that leads into the project room. There is no way in or out of the project room except for this tunnel. As you travel through the tunnel, it gets smaller and smaller, making it so that you have to crawl and put yourself in a submissive position in order to reach the tunnel’s destination. At the end of the tunnel the subject will find me waiting in the project room and I’ll try to the best of my ability to overpower and rape the person who crawls through.

Why rape?

Because as an artistic gesture, it’s one of the most impactful I can think of...In 2007 at the Seward Projects Space in Columbus, I had my first breakthrough with an installation that was to be the prototype for this current one. It was called THE PUNCH-YOU-IN-THE-FACE TUNNEL. It was the same set-up as THE RAPE TUNNEL except at the end of the tunnel I’d punch the subject in the face instead of raping him or her. The impetus was completely reactionary to the current state of art, and motivated by pure frustration...

Rape seemed like the next logical step. brother-in-law's reaction? "Seriously? This guy should be [insert method of death here]! How do people become so twisted?" Good question, bro.

But putting aside the "art" for a moment...most people would never expect this little digital exchange between my brother-in-law and I to take place. My brother is a practicing Mormon (like many other religions, not really known for its feminist principles) and me, well, I'm a raging feminist with a Master's degree in Women's and Gender Studies with a blog that I use to critique systems of oppression enforced through everything from policy to pop-culture.

But, my brother is smart, and thinks critically and we respect one another so we can have really critical conversations about politics and religion - all the things you aren't supposed to talk about in polite society. But we do. Not all the time, sometimes we play video games, but this is also the guy that totally got why I bought his three year old a pink soccer ball. And so I am really excited by the fact that I can be one of his outlets for questioning the patriarchy.

But, back to the "art." I saw this on my Facebook page this afternoon while I was in the middle of a project at work (what? I'm actually supposed to be online at work - hi, boss!) and couldn't really formulate a response other than a "WTF!?! This is so gonna be a blog." But on the way home, I started thinking, "The first thing I'm going to do is validate that this crap is actually real." But guess what? I didn't have to. By the time I got home and logged into my email, my mom had emailed me two stories from totally obscure sources that called it out as fake.

The fact that my mom would be enraged by this isn't surprising. This feminist apple didn't fall far from the tree. But it was only in the last six months or so that my mom created a Facebook account and got herself a shiny new Mac and a Gmail address, and today, in sixty seconds flat, she used them all to delve into the interwebs and give her daughter fodder for her blog.

(My husband also called it out as fake in the Facebook thread, noting that it was no less upsetting that it was a hoax, but duh...that is just another example of why I married him.)

So, I'm sure by tomorrow all of the blogs will be going "ZOMG! WTF?! It's a fake and here is a really in-depth analysis of the bullshit that is passed off as 'controversial art'!" I, however, was way more interested in how my family responded to it.

Here is to my awesome social critic brother-in-law and my technologically advanced mom - and all of our virtual and real life feminist conversations. See you at Thanksgiving!

Jesus Doesn't Love Hypocrites

Evidently Catholic churches in Italy have admitted that Holy Water isn't special enough to be swine flu free. Is it possible the sign of the cross doesn't have antibacterial properties because Jesus is unhappy with hypocrites?
"The Catholic Archdiocese of Washington said Wednesday that it will be unable to continue the social service programs it runs for the District if the city doesn't change a proposed same-sex marriage law."
How charitable of them.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veteran's Day

If only we gave as much thought to veterans during the rest of the year as we do to the pomp and circumstance of the holidays we set aside, we would not have this:
"A research team at Harvard Medical School estimates 2,266 U.S. military veterans under the age of 65 died last year because they lacked health insurance and thus had reduced access to care. That figure is more than 14 times the number of deaths (155) suffered by U.S. troops in Afghanistan in 2008, and more than twice as many as have died (911 as of Oct. 31) since the war began in 2001."

Dr. David Himmelstein, the co-author of the analysis and associate professor of medicine at Harvard, commented, “On this Veterans Day we should not only honor the nearly 500 soldiers who have died this year in Iraq and Afghanistan, but also the more than 2,200 veterans who were killed by our broken health insurance system. That’s six preventable deaths a day.

He continued: “These unnecessary deaths will continue under the legislation now before the House and Senate. Those bills would do virtually nothing for the uninsured until 2013, and leave at least 17 million uninsured over the long run. We need a solution that works for all veterans - and for all Americans - single-payer national health insurance.”

While many Americans believe that all veterans can get care from the VA, even combat veterans may not be able to obtain VA care, Woolhandler said. As a rule, VA facilities provide care for any veteran who is disabled by a condition connected to his or her military service and care for specific medical conditions acquired during military service.
Lets do more than yellow ribbons and watered down legislation for all citizens.

Image via the Daily Mail.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Happy 40th Birthday, Sesame Street

With the recent attempts to create tiers of citizenship and personhood by denying individuals their civil rights and ability to make decisions about their bodies, it is nice to remember one of the reasons why we have a generation that knows that it is wrong and believes that we can change our community for the better:

As Andi says, looking back it might not have been perfect, and has certainly disappointed us as adults, but thank you Sesame Street.

Thanks for teaching us about the alphabet and social responsibility through puppets. Even the ones that terrified me.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Things I Read This Week

Ann at Feministing is justifiably pissed about the House's health care bill, but outlines the good things that are included.

Latoya on how the Cleveland serial killer got away with killing eleven women because the police and community ignored the it.

Gabrielle Union bravely discusses her reaction to the Richmond gang rape.

Meg Stone asks what it would mean if we treated rape as a public health pandemic.

Sociological Images discusses the economics of triathlons, the new and extreme version of cigar rooms and golf games.

Friday, November 6, 2009

A (tiny) Room of One's Own

The New York Times recently did an article on women's residences - buildings reserved for single women that do not allow men beyond designated public areas and which sometimes function as a dorm with a common dining hall, all for under-market value.

While created for some of the wrong reasons, I can certainly see the appeal. They are clean and safe and provide a way to meet people in a giant, unforgiving city. And heck, not having to cook is fantastic.

They remind me a bit of my first apartment in San Francisco. It had been built as a dormitory for the women's teaching college across the street at the turn of the century. The rooms were so tiny I had a twin sized day bed. My kitchen barely qualified as a galley, with an apartment-sized oven and refrigerator. But, the closet was almost as big as the room since it had once housed a Murphy bed, the bathroom had a clawfoot tub, and it had all the period detailing of a perfectly-San Francisco apartment including a lovely sun-filled bay window. Oh, and I could clean the whole thing in 25 minutes flat.

Out of 23 units, twenty of them were inhabited by women from 18 - 25. In the remaining three units, that were somewhat larger as they had been intended to house the dorm "mothers," lived middle-aged to elderly gay men who had lived there forever thanks to rent control. One of them was in his sixties and he spent time in the lobby waiting for his ancient one-eyed Shih Tzu to catch her breath before they went up three flights of stairs.

We chatted often and he once showed me a picture of the building following the 1906 earthquake. It stood solitary on the small hill with a tent city surrounding it for blocks. The building had been built earlier that year and when it didn't collapse everyone realized that it sat on bedrock - and that is a good thing in an earthquake. It is why every apartment I have ever lived in either survived or is next door to a building that survived that earthquake. I explained this to the poor girl who knocked frantically on my door after a minor shake. She had moved from Minnesota about four hours before it started rumbling.

Shortly after the 1906 quake, they moved the San Francisco Mint (as in one of the places that prints money) from the collapsed and fire-ravaged downtown to the block on the other side of the college. While it was strange to look out my bay window and see semi-automatics through the palm trees, it also lent its name to a really fun karaoke bar around the block.

The second male resident was about the same age as the Shih Tzu's dad, and though friendly, drank a little too much. Whenever we heard the cops outside we knew he had been trying to get into the building across the street (the looked only somewhat alike). The third had been a professional ballet dancer. And when the building was broken into it was he that went running down the stairs to chase the offender into the street.

In other words, it was the perfect first San Francisco studio apartment. At the intersection of the edge of the Castro, the start of the Lower Haight, Hayes Valley (before Hayes Valley was Hayes Valley), and the outskirts of the Mission, I could get petty much anywhere in the city by public transit with one transfer at most, which meant I could absorb the city to my 22 year old heart's content.

So I get the appeal of women's residences. Who needs space when you are rarely home? As for the no-male visitors policy, well that does stem from the attempt to protect a lady's virtue and all that nonsense, and it assumes that all the ladies or are of a certain orientation, which if they are not blows the whole theory to pieces. But, you know, I can see why some women might choose it. That can really make things a bit less stressful - you don't have to worry about whether or not you've got dirty laundry and dishes out before asking them up. And besides, as a young single woman I instituted dating safety rules that pretty much created the same situation:
1. Date does not get to know what building I live in until the 3rd date.

2. Date does not get to know what apartment number I live in until the 5th date.

Only two ever made it up, and one of them became my husband, so I guess the nuns and chaperones wouldn't be too upset.

San Francisco Bay Window (not mine) via Apartment Therapy.

Your Friday Awesome: Gabby Sidibe

Precious is one of those movies I really want to see, but am afraid to. It will be amazing, but heart-wrenching and exhausting - because it is only partly fiction. Today the trailer made be cry before 9:00 in the morning, which is why I was really glad Julie Z. gave us this unicorn chaser:

I'm pretty sure that Gabby and Ellen are my two favorite entertainers now. Their joy, wit and humor is awesome.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Where the Wild Things Are

Spoiler Alert

All of the hullabaloo about how Where the Wild Things Are is too scary for kids seems to have missed one key factor: it is far more boring than it is scary. During the showing we went to there were about six kids from about ages 6 to 10 sitting near us and by the time it got to the really violent sequences none of the kids were even looking at the screen because they (like me) had lost interest about five minutes after Max reached the island.

I am part of the multiple generations that grew up on the illustrations of Maurice Sendak. Granted we all remember the illustrations more than the story, and they did sort of terrify me, but I was still really excited to see it come to life. My husband and I were lucky enough to get to explore the Where the Wild Things Are exhibit at the Sony Metreon back in 2002. We were the only people there and made quite the rumpus because they really got it right - right down to the shading on the palm trees.

I was particularly excited for the movie because it was costumes and not CGI (at least mostly) - and in that aspect it certainly did not disappoint. But if all a movie has to offer is aesthetics you only really need to watch the trailer, which had all of the most visually appealing snippets, anyway.

As Jezebel noted, the book is short - really short. The part that has etched itself in our cultural memory is the illustrations (what the Metreon exhibit got oh-so right). So, maybe pretty landscapes and neat costumes are all we should expect. Unfortunately, however, I think the movie doesn't just not get the book right, it does it - and it's viewers - a disservice.

The sections that have been deemed too scary for kids are not scary because of the terrible teeth and claws. They are scary because Jonze and Eggers could not decide who the wild things were. Sendak based them on his foreign adult relatives (which is a whole other problem to dissect), but in the movie they are sometimes adults with romantic relationships and sometimes whiny children with hurt feelings.

Sure, part of the process of growing up is realizing that adults usually are whiny children with hurt feelings, but in this case those adults enact an abusive relationship. The wild things' size, knowledge of the island, and interpersonal relationships position them as adults through most of the film (as do their names typical of a generation older than Max), and while Max once or twice growls them into submission, he spends most of the movie watching them physically and emotionally hurt one another with the fear that they will harm him.

Then of course there is the infamous line, "I'll eat you up I love you so." The only emotion we have had up until that point is anger and insecurity, so what has come to be a marker of the movie's "take away" (that we love our children even if we must discipline them? That we love them despite their sometimes justified though inappropriately enacted anger? Your guess is as good as mine) is not actually in the movie. In perhaps the most disturbing and strange and wtf!?! moment in modern cinema, the character (KW) that says it does in fact eat him up in order to protect him.

But, if we decide to go with it as a metaphor based on the movie until that point, then it seems the lesson we are supposed to take away is that maternal figures (who KW is positioned as) will do anything to protect their child from an abusive father figure (Carol). Moreover, that kind of love is smothering since Max can't breathe and is pulled out covered in bile and spit, though the raccoon who is also hanging out there seems to be fine. Told you it was weird.

But again, the most disappointing part was that it was just plain boring. Once you have seen the costumes, learned that war games always end in tears, and watched the wild things whine and lose their tempers and hurt each others feelings in the exact same way five times, your mind wanders: In my husband's case, about the mother's agonizing worry over her child running away (the only part that diverged from the ten sentences of text, and the only part Sendak did not particularly like) and my related concern that Max must have been starving.

Of course Sendak seems to be really happy with the Jonze/Eggers interpretation of his beloved book, so maybe I should just "go to hell" and go see that other childrens book they have taken liberties with. But, I can't remember ever wanting to leave a movie half way through simply because I was bored. Nor have I left a movie disturbed by strange (lack-of) character development (no, more snow and dirt clod fights, but we can still throw rocks at owls?), and upset that I had just wasted all that time sitting there, since even crappy action movies keep your attention. Sadly, the only redeeming factor of the viewing was that we patronized our local historic theater.

Image via JSYK.

Its Official - The First Geek Family


If only his policy was as exciting...

Via White House Photostream.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Your T-eeww-sday Not Awesome

Thanks, Viagra. Thanks for reminding us to celebrate your role in the cultural cannon of making sure that boners still trump birth control.

And, um, eeww...

Sparkly Stalker Vamps Make Even Volvo Shiny

What was that about vampires?

If you've got time to complete twelve tests, or moons (groan), that push your Twilight knowledge - or in my case, Googling ability - to the test, than you too can be surrounded by the stalker-y protectionist steel of Edward Volvo. No, really.

Read all about it over at Mother Jones.


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