Friday, February 27, 2009

Thursday, February 26, 2009

George F. Will Disapproves of What You Put in Your Mouth. And Has Suggestions!


Here is a quiz for you: can you find the glaring omission in George Will's recent essay about shifting attitudes towards food and sex? HINT: it involves the sexism!

Imagine... a 30-year-old Betty in 1958, and her 30-year-old granddaughter Jennifer today. Betty's kitchen is replete with things -- red meat, dairy products, refined sugars, etc. -- that nutritionists now instruct us to minimize. She serves meat from her freezer, accompanied by this and that from jars. If she serves anything "fresh," it would be a potato. If she thinks about food, she thinks only about what she enjoys, not what she, and everyone else, ought to eat.

Jennifer pays close attention to food, about which she has strong opinions. She eats neither red meat nor endangered fish, buys "organic" meat and produce, fresh fruits and vegetables, and has only ice in her freezer. These choices are, for her, matters of right and wrong. Regarding food, writes Eberstadt, Jennifer exemplifies Immanuel Kant's Categorical Imperative: She acts according to rules she thinks are universally valid and should be universally embraced.

Yes, imagine two women who are both solely responsible for obtaining, preparing, and serving food for themselves and, in Betty's case, "everyone else," by which I am assuming George Will means Don and Sally and Bobby, because that is always fun. Now imagine that one of them is a big old whore!

Betty would be baffled by draping moral abstractions over food, a mere matter of personal taste. Regarding sex, however, she had her Categorical Imperative -- the 1950s' encompassing sexual ethic that proscribed almost all sex outside of marriage. Jennifer is a Whole Foods Woman, an apostle of thoroughly thought-out eating. She bristles with judgments -- moral as well as nutritional -- about eating, but she is essentially laissez-faire about sex.

Yes, my friends, imagine: imagine that preparing food, and ensuring the moral and sexual purity of the heterosexual pair bond, were both entirely women's responsibility. Imagine that, in your grandmother's day, women risked losing their sole commodity for negotiating financial and social security - that is, their virginity - should they engage in sexual intercourse, and that marriage, for women, was basically a contract granting them access to money should they grant one man sole sexual access (whereas non-monogamy, for men, was an admittedly roguish but pretty much expected move) and perform unpaid domestic labor, meaning that dudes got access to personally prepared meals, sex, and the social and institutional power that comes from having a professional life and the possibility of advancement therein, in exchange for basically letting a lady live in their house and maybe giving her some money for dresses if they could spare it. What a crazy mixed-up fantasy world that would be!

Now, imagine that women your age fucking wrecked it by maintaining their sexual autonomy and expecting men to cook for their own damn selves. These women, these Jennifers, probably have jobs, too. All sorts of things can happen when you don't assume that a woman's moral standing and her sexual inexperience are inextricably bound to one another! You could even become some sort of arugula-eating liberal who cares about things like "nutrition," and "responsible food production," and "whether or not it is OK to personally end a species because you think it is tasty." It is terrifying, I know. I apologize for forcing you to contemplate this dark, dystopian vision.

Kant, my ass. This essay isn't about food, or sex, or morality, in any real sense; if it were, Will would have actually mentioned dudes, who, as far as I can tell, all come equipped with both mouths and genitals. (That last might not be true of George Will, I admit; if nothing else, it would explain why he always looks so pinched and uncomfortable.) It is about gender, and the Good Old Days, and why things were better before women actually started doing things other than working to please their men. Right now, right this minute, George Will is saying, he could be in his spotless home eating steak and anticipating a furtive, guilty sexual encounter with his lawful wife, who has never seen nor touched another penis and therefore cannot judge his own. (SHOULD HE HAVE ONE.) This is a lovely fantasy, for George. It is also a fucking horror show for any woman forced to contemplate it. That's why that way of life ended, and that is why, rail against Whole Foods as Will may, it's never coming back.

[Via.]


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Week in T-Shirts

Good afternoon! It is time to talk about humor. Are you familiar with this concept? Probably not, if you are a woman and/or feminist, since we all lack it; however, I have done extensive scientific research on the topic, and am here to tell you about this strange and inexplicable male practice.

"Humor," I have learned, is the practice of saying something absurd or witty in order to make people laugh and therefore increase their happiness and perception that you are a super fun conversational partner. It is a nice thing to do for people, apparently, this "humor!" If you are a douchebag, however, humor is also the practice of blatantly lending support to the privileges specific to your gender or race or whatnot, sneering at folks who do not share those privileges and are in fact endangered or harmed by them, and then telling everyone that they can't get upset because you are an edgy dude engaging in some Humor. (See also: It Wasn't Racist/Sexist/Whatever Because of Irony So Really You Should All Be Complimenting My Superior Political Consciousness It Is All About Me Blah Blah My Jokes Can Never Be Evaluated For Actual Humor Content Or Success Blah.) Also, if you are a douchebag who is lazy, humor consists of doing all of the above dickish stuff via wearing t-shirts!

Let us examine these screen-printed humor vehicles, shall we?

#1.



This is a t-shirt which is funny because men beating up women is inherently trivial and comic. I found out about it via Tracie Egan at Jezebel, someone whose work I do not normally read (we disagree on kind of a lot of stuff! Like, the whole "acknowledging violence against women not as a series of isolated incidents which girls were too personally weak and stupid to prevent but as a symptom of widespread misogyny within the culture" thing! That is important!) but who apparently shares my interest in the t-shirts of the damned. When you wear this t-shirt, you are saying, "I am statistically unlikely to be a victim of physical abuse at the hands of a partner, and might even be an abuser myself, and this is something that you should not be at all concerned about, because women's pain, injury, and/or death does not really matter." Also, "my masculinity hinges on being a violent criminal, because I apparently hate (a) men and (b) myself." Also, "I plan to never, ever get laid again." Fashion: it can make a statement.


#2.



This is a t-shirt which is funny because women's consent is inessential to sex, and rape is OK, and also killing women is a good way to shut them up. I found out about it via Twisty Faster at I Blame the Patriarchy, whom I read more often than Tracie Egan, and with whom I also disagree on kind of a lot of stuff! Including some of what she writes about this t-shirt! (Organized, militant revolution to destroy institutions like porn or marriage or gender or what have you is not my preferred tactic; why not identify the specific problems within them and then transform the things themselves? Why ascribe any essential, inherent qualities to something you know to be socially constructed? Also, this leads into "please allow me to judge your sexuality and feminist commitment because you date dudes" territory, which, separatism + self-denial = I was raised Catholic, if I wanted to be a nun I would have just done that.) Whatever! T-shirts! Here is a charming description of why it is no fun to confront those dudes, by someone who did:

He laughed, play-acted that he was adoring the attention she was pouring on him, then used his advantage of size and privilege to completely dismiss her once he’d had enough. Charmingly, he also managed to loudly and to other mutual acquaintances refer to the two of us as ‘ugly lesbians*’ who had a problem with his t-shirt. It was a trifecta of misogynist, privileged arseholitude, right there: Wear a t-shirt that constitutes an active threat of physical violence, bask in the attention you receive for wearing it, and then call the women who have a problem with it ugly lesbians. Do all of this while surrounded by trendy ‘progressive’ hipster fuckwits who will cheer you on for being so ‘daring’ and ‘transgressive’, and who will verbally agree with you about those silly ugly lesbians who have a problem with your absolutely hilarious t-shirt.
Yes, but here is the issue! The thing that was poured on him was attention, whereas in fact it could have been beer! I myself am a clumsy lummox who is known to "trip" and "spill" beer on a gentleman on certain strangely coincidental occasions. If this fellow wants attention for looking like the stupidest fucking dick on the planet - which, if you're wearing that T-shirt, what else are you looking for? - there is no reason why a sweet and totally apologetic young lady should not also arrange for him to look like he has pissed himself. Also, when you go home, you can protest the vendor's choice to sell the shirt, which might actually remove it from the site. Getting all het up about that one specific shirt with that one specific dude, though: not going to work. He wants you to be offended. He wants you to be upset. He wants you to give a shit about whether or not he exists, because he is a sad dork ("hipsters," in my experience, don't wear brand-new t-shirts with "funny" slogans: just a tip), and that is how he manages to get through the day when he is not, like, writing fan-fiction or pretending to be an elf on the Internet or washing spunk out of his RealDoll. You, a socially functional person, paying attention to him: he wants that, no matter what form it takes. One thing he does not want, however, is cold, damp, smelly balls.


#3.


This is a shirt that looks basically like what I wear every day! I have them in different colors; I put them on with some jeans; it is easier than actually dressing myself. It is called a "wife beater" by some people, this shirt, and that is because (a) they are associated with poor people, who are of course more likely to abuse their partners, in the Wonderful World of Inaccurate Stereotype, and (b) men beating up women is inherently trivial and comic. Here is a super funny promotional gimmick from a place that sold such shirts:
Wife-beaters.com, a Dallas-based business that sold wife-beater T-shirts, has been shut down after a San Antonio man complained to the company hosting the site.

...The Web site sold white tank tops, commonly referred to as "wife-beaters," and gave a discount to anyone who could prove they were convicted of wife beating.

Oh, OK, fine, I'll join the damn wombyn's commune already. Jesus.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

GREAT MOMENTS IN PERSPECTIVE: Bob Kerrey, Dude With Problems


Here is an interesting fact for you: I attended the New School. Interested? Good! Allow me to develop this fascinating statement further: I attended the New School from 2002 through 2006, during which time it has seen several massive student and/or faculty protests due to one Bob Kerrey, who became its President in 2001. Also taking place since 2001: sympathetic profiles of Bob Kerrey in New York magazine, which invariably focus on how tough he has it at the New School and did you know that he has one leg? Yup. One leg and a lot of dead people on his conscience, that's our Bob.

Yes, Bob Kerrey does, in fact, have one leg. This is only one of many fascinating facts about Bob Kerrey, and perhaps one of the least significant! Bob Kerrey also led an attack on a Vietnamese village, where he and his team killed civilians, including women and children, and Bob Kerrey has memories of these accounts that magically exonerate Bob Kerrey from the worst of the crimes and also (you won't believe this) do not line up with the memories of the other people who were there. Crazy! Bob Kerrey also wrote editorials advocating war in Iraq, in the glory days before it was 100% certain that we would get involved in that massive fucktastrophe for no actual reason, and in those editorials he made sure to mention the fact that he was President of the historically liberal, not to say radical, institution which I attended, thereby dramatically misrepresenting its stance and potentially broadening its appeal to the sector of students who also happen to be total assholes. ("Rebranding" and "broader appeal" are big things for Bob! Even when they compromise the values and/or quality of education provided by the school! "Less learning, more branding," that's Bob's motto! Also: "there's nothing you can learn in our small, politically progressive liberal arts and graduate schools that you couldn't fail to learn in the huge, large-classed, apolitical, completely anonymous and undistinctive schools I will build once I raze yours to the ground and also the professors have all starved to death because I barely pay them," which is kind of a clunky motto, but whatever.) Bob Kerrey invited John McCain to speak at a graduation ceremony for that school, with little to no student support but much personal feeling of bro-ship backing that (protested, again) decision. Bob Kerrey has shown a continual drive to re-make the school in his own image, as a successful business with Bob Kerrey's politics, rather than a school with a rich legacy of folks who are substantially to the left of Kerrey, without taking on sufficient feedback or showing sufficient respect to its faculty, and Bob Kerrey has been receiving requests, nay, demands for his resignation, since at least 2002 or early 2003, since the "war on Iraq: yay!" editorials, and Bob Kerrey's response to protest from students and faculty was to shut off all access to his office and/or dialogue, because, seriously, he's Bob Kerrey, he doesn't need this from you people. Also, I saw him in the elevator once, and he has cold, dead eyes and a face like Skeletor. Lighting is not Bob's friend, I tell you.

Here, in the 2003 iteration of the "New York feels bad for Bob" article, noted annoying person Howard Dean sits in his office while a rag-tag group of students - featuring a familiar face! - demands some actual accountability. Like, say, talking to them, in a situation he does not completely control!

With the elevators programmed not to stop on Kerrey’s floor, Dean and two aides were brought up via a back service elevator. As we stood around in a waiting area, students began pounding on the locked stairwell door, screaming for Kerrey’s resignation and yelling, “One, two, three, four, we don’t want your racist war.” When Kerrey opened a locked glass door and came out to usher us into his office, Dean half-jokingly offered to intercede. “Maybe I should go talk to your students,” he said. Kerrey’s succinct reply: “Maybe you should go tell them I’m not an asshole.”

Ha ha, but you are, Bob! That is what we climbed several flights of stairs, circumventing your weak-assed elevator maneuverings, to tell you! (Yes, it was a dumb chant, but it was also 2003, and we were very young, and upset. Also, I did not write it.)

So, anyway, what is super frustrating about these articles can maybe be summed up in the following paragraph, from the 2009 "New York feels bad for Bob" piece:

By the end of the meeting, it was hard not to sympathize with Kerrey. The gathering had become a de facto faculty-senate session, with people proposing amendments to motions and motions to amendments—just the sort of endless ping-pong that drives him nuts. The room became an accidental signifier of the seventies, a sea of black jackets and Elvis Costello glasses and long hair. For an outsider, it was hard not to look around and think: These are the kinds of people who’ve given Kerrey grief from the moment he came home from Vietnam.

... where Bob Kerrey killed babies, the piece does not add.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Friday, February 20, 2009

Sexist Beatdown: Biceps of Change Edition

Good morning! Or, afternoon! It depends on your time zone, maybe! Anyway! I have news for you: did you know that Michelle Obama is the First Lady? And also, on the cover of Vogue? And also, has nice arms?

Oh, wait, you totally knew that. Well, good news: Amanda "Deltoids" Hess of The Sexist and I knew that too! Therefore, in our weekly session of stimulating political and/or arm-related discussion, we shall be discussing these facts, along with what it means to wonder what Michelle's dress means, dressing for the robot overlords of the future, and what Joe Biden looks like whilst having sex.

Oh, and: you will not be able to read this without thinking about what Joe Biden looks like whilst having sex. Do his teeth gleam? Does he use "taking the train" metaphors? Is he able to get through it without blurting out something embarrassing? These are the things you will be thinking about. I just thought I would warn you. You know, before it is too late.



Illustration: ARMS! Oh, and the First Lady.

SADY: I cannot believe that I bought a copy of Vogue, first of all. I have not done this in years. Actual quote from Anna Wintour: "when people stop shopping, other people lose their jobs." BUY THIS DRESS OR THE PROLE GETS IT, is what Anna Wintour is saying to you.

AMANDA: coincidentally, there's been a lot of talk about Anna Wintour losing her own job.

SADY: haha, so you REALLY need to buy that dress.

AMANDA: Yeah man. Ok first of all---Michelle is the second First Lady to grace the cover of Vogue. Hillary was the first, and then they skipped Laura! I hope Laura got Good Housekeeping or something at least.

SADY: yes, and only the fourth black lady, which is really shocking to me.

AMANDA: I know, that was truly amazing. I do not follow fashion magazines too closely, but four?? That's crazy

SADY: Yes, well, if it had been Palin it would have been "Guns & Ammo" so I'm happy that it didn't turn out that way. But I really think that like, race, and gender, and Michelle Obama being as smart and as open as she is have sent people into a tizzy. Like, the concept of this woman has driven people out of their minds, everybody needs to write something about what she means and who she is. Including maybe me!

AMANDA: Yes, and all of this has something to do with how cut Michelle Obama's arms are.

SADY: I KNOW. Arms are the new erogenous zone! Some Irish lady wrote! I mean, seriously, I can't help thinking how weird it is - and maybe the fashion magazine aspect of this has something to do with it - that everybody needs to process her as A BODY. and sometimes discussion of who she is gets cut out of that altogether. like, the fascination with her arms is almost fetishy... yeah, she looks like she works out. super. but THE ARMS have come to dominate our national discourse.

AMANDA: well, to be fair, some of the discussion did touch on whether the backdrop was flattering to her skin tone.

SADY: oh, good! i'm glad we are getting to the deeper issues at hand.

AMANDA: I think Michelle Obama is a really interesting figure because she is such a nontraditional first lady in so many ways but really hews to tradition in others. She's clear about being a mom to Sasha and Malia first, and she's I think reluctantly embraced the fashion icon role, too, in a way that other independent first ladies (Hillary) didn't, really. Though Hillary did say yes to Vogue, too.

SADY: True enough, but not during the Presidential race! It's weird how we encourage women to be All About Teh Fashions and then view fashion as somehow trivial.

AMANDA: I know. I think the arms are sort of an interesting thing to focus on, because the discussion around them represents (ARMS REPRESENT SOMETHING NOW) both seeing her as a "strong woman" and still holding her to a physical standard of beauty

SADY: Yeah, exactly. There's all of this discussion of her being tall - yet svelte! and opinionated - yet a mom first! I think some of it is well-intentioned, like they are trying to take her seriously, and thereby demonstrate that they CAN take the first first lady of color seriously, but then it gets into this weird thing where it's like, "have we mentioned she has pretty dresses? She has suuuuch pretty dresses. and is pretty." It's weirdly overeager, like everyone wants to define the Michelle conversation and come out looking good. Oh, holy crap, that was a long speech of mine.

AMANDA: That's an interesting point, actually. I've heard a couple people say, you know, "Michelle Obama? I don't get what the whole fuss is, I don't think she's that stunning." Or, "Michelle Obama's dress the other day was not my thing at all." And people will just jump on them for voicing that opinion, it's not really acceptable. But why is the "pretty pretty pretty" discussion acceptable?

SADY: exactly! it's kind of like making a Barbie out of her. I think people get weirdly tripped up around expressing approval of women, like, well, isn't the nicest thing you can do to compliment her shoes? or something?

AMANDA: yeah, and also, O think there's a bit of a compensation going on here, too. she's married to a guy who people just went crazy about---his politics, yes, but his looks, too.

SADY: Yeah, exactly, and I think that - here is the thing where I Get Serious - we need to be careful around that, because people of color have always been portrayed as somehow hypersexual. like: Obama Dildo? editorials about ladies having sex dreams about Obama? that is creeeeepy, and racially charged... and michelle becomes part of that too. like, the "at last" dance was really charged, but then afterwards people were like "I BET THEY GOT BUSY AND NOW MICHELLE HAS A BABY IN HER TUMMY." seriously, can you imagine people speculating about laura bush's sex life?

AMANDA: Yeah, people often voice their speculations about the Obamas doing it. And part of it, I think, is that they're younger, and they seem very happy with each other.

SADY: True true.

AMANDA: But on the other hand, I mean, we all know that Jill and Joe are probably doing it on Observatory Circle. And I have heard NOTHING about that.

SADY: Yeah, I think because you would start to wonder if his teeth were gleaming, it gets into a weird area.

AMANDA: I just did actually imagine them having sex, and that was a weird, foreign image that I definitely have never heard hinted at before. Even though Joe Biden makes borderline comments about his wife all the time!
SADY: I did too, and now need to purge that image from my brain. Oh God. But, you know: the Obamas are young, and they obviously love each other, and they're both attractive people, but the weird prurient interest in whether they're doing it? That pushes so many buttons, for me.

SADY: Here is a quick change: Michelle Obama! In Vogue! Has a centerfold! Wearing J. Crew! I think it is totally hilarious that the First Lady is wearing the only outfit in Vogue that I could actually afford.

AMANDA: That is funny. She's really become a J. Crew model. She really likes J. Crew, I guess! Which seems a little suspiciously brand-y to me but I guess maybe she knows it fits.

SADY: Tiger: Yeah, true enough. And there's talk about her wearing "American" clothes that are "affordable" in the mag. I think she's trying to make an economic statement.
Why not American Apparel, Michelle? Dov Charney needs your support!

AMANDA: O know. It must be a weird shopping trip where you have to think of the impact of every piece of clothing you buy. like, my kids live in the White House and go to private school and we an afford it, so they obviously would be wearing something nice. but not TOO NICE!

SADY: right? It would be very intense to be Michelle Obama. Because most first ladies are probably like, "well, you know, people are going to pay attention for a while, but then later you could be Chester A. Arthur, which is to say: no one will give a crap." not Michelle! she KNOWS people are going to remember this! so the pictures are going to be around FOR A WHILE. and everyone right now wants to know what they mean.

AMANDA: this is freaking me out. she has to dress for centuries of fashion critics. who knows what toned arms will represent in 200 years??

SADY: right, and throughout history, her message will remain clear: i really, really liked this cardigan.


Illustration: The affordable cardigan for which our age will be remembered. I like her top!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

WHAT.

Why, hello, seven hundred and ninety new visitors and, like, twenty new subscribers that I assume are coming from that one link on Shakesville! How are you? When I found out about you, I pretty much pooped my pants! It was that exciting, seven hundred and ninety new visitors. Also, scary. Here is the conversation I was having immediately prior to finding out that you existed:
"I don't wannnnnnnnnnnt to write on my blog any more, Kelly."

"That is ridiculous. Why?"

"I don't know. Like, if you look at that 'Science Fact' post. That is an embarrassment. It's way too long, it doesn't really convey its points clearly, it makes too many points, and I have this jokey voice that stands in for actual humor. Like, how many times can I say the word 'douchebag?' A LOT, apparently, because I insert it into everything I write. I just... I am reading all this coverage of it elsewhere and am like... yeah, you did it. Me? Nope."

"Well, you know people who would be willing to edit your stuff. Why don't you ask them?"

"Because they don't caaaaaaaaaaaaare. Because I suuuuuuuuck."

"Okay, then."

"HOLY CRAP THERE IS A LINK TO THE SCIENCE FACT THING ON SHAKESVILLE."
Every day, I become more convinced that Melissa McEwan is some kind of superhero. I really, really do.

So! Seven hundred and ninety people I do not know! I am assuming that you read that one really stupid and vaguely sexist post about Kevin Spacey tormenting us all in the infernal pits of Hell, and agree with my general assessment, so now there are only about four of you left. Welcome! I look forward to driving you all away very soon.

-- WE PAUSE FOR THE MANDATORY UNRELATED TANGENT CONTAINING THE WORD "DOUCHEBAG" --

So, this Bonnie Erbe lady! She wrote a little blog post - for money, I am kind of assuming - entitled "Sex Kitten Feminist Sarah Palin Is a Big Media, Internet Draw, Love or Hate Her." Now, aside from the "Sex Kitten Feminist" label, which I believe would be enough to make me vomit out my own lower intestine even if it were not attached to Sarah Palin (she's a feminist! But it's okay, because she's sexy! And also, not really committed to any feminist goals!) I must point out to you that there is no reason whatsoever to read this post. Its subject matter is entirely contained within its headline! Here is a sample:
I know my posts about Palin, or even her daughter Bristol have generated tons of traffic, and I wonder why she has become this Internet magnet for attention.

I guess because you either love her or hate her.

Seriously. I would actually recommend that you read it, so that you can see how little point there is to reading it. ("There are other possible reasons: her personal brand of sex kitten feminism or sex kitten non-feminism." Really, Bonnie?) I mean: writing a post clearly intended to drive traffic to your blog, rather than to convey a point - I get it. It's super cheap and icky, but I get it. Writing a post that is about the traffic on your blog? That, my friends, makes you a douchebag.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

CHICKS VERSUS DUDES: The Se7en People You Meet In Hell

Breaking news from the Vatican: there is "no sexual equality" in Hell! So saith the UK Times ("Sex discrimination is destined to continue in the scorching fires of Hell, according to a study" - I defy you to find me a better lead), quoting an article by the Pope's personal theologian, the curiously named Monsignor Wojciech Giertych, who has looked within the dirty, filthy souls of humanity, and found that women and men sin in entirely different ways! The Seven Deadly Sins, says Father McVowely (respect for other languages: let me show you mine!) break down according to gender - just as God intended. 

Now, the Seven Deadly Sins, as you may know, are a concept invented by the movie Se7en, which happened to star the two most annoying people on Earth: Kevin Spacey and Gwyneth Paltrow. I am assuming that they will both be in Hell with you! So, since Satan is a cranky landlord who won't allow co-ed sleepovers (and is also incredibly specific in his punishments, for some reason) I think it is important to determine the annoying celebrity with whom you will be spending your eternal damnation. I will therefore endeavor to evaluate the gender of each sin, making overtly reductive assertions about each gender as I go, in order to determine your Hellish cohort. That's why I will be going to Hell, in case you wondered.


#1. PRIDE
Well, let's see: since time immemorial, we have been hearing about how women are stupider, weaker, more immoral, and overall just plain ickier than the dudes, who are fabulous, and who should be in charge of everything, forever. Surprisingly, most of the people who espoused these views publicly were, in fact, dudes! Oh, and Camille Paglia, but whatever.

I Say: Dudes, duh.
Vatican Says: Nope! It is the ladies! Apparently we are not sufficiently convinced of how much we suck.



GWYNETH PALTROW SAYS:
Congratulations! In the latest edition of my fabulous newsletter, GOOP, I've shared the hottest new treatment around: being broken on the wheel, which you will be doing, with me, forever.


#2. GLUTTONY

Well, I did read that article about how women's weak little brains makes them worse dieters than men. Also, statistics seem to indicate that more women than men are diagnosed obese, for a whole bunch of reasons I don't really care to know because THE THREAT OF OBESITY has always seemed to me like a bunch of judgmental bullshit. Also, people informally diagnose women with "obesity" all the time, should they happen to weigh more than, say, Gwyneth Paltrow. Plus, I really like burritos!

I Say: My love for burritos has tipped the scales and condemned my gender (the lady one, that is) to the blackest reaches of Hell. Is it gross to just eat guacamole with a spoon, you guys?
Vatican Says: Surprise! I may be a glutton, but dudes are even worse!



KEVIN SPACEY SAYS:
Once your soul has been lost to perdition, why don't we have a nice dinner of rats, toads, and snakes to celebrate? We can even catch a movie afterwards. It will be K-PAX. That is how you will know that you are in Hell.


#3. ENVY

Women are continually encouraged to rate themselves against other women, typically in a highly unrealistic manner. After the first 900,000 times you see a half-naked lady with perfect muscle tone, unspeakably gorgeous bone structure, and not a single flaw on any inch of her skin displayed on a magazine cover, billboard, or poster - and absorb the corresponding message that you ought to look like that, and also have a husband and babies, and also have enough money to buy designer goods with which to bedeck your flawless and much-beloved body, if you are to be worth anything at all - envy becomes a pretty natural, if unbecoming, response.

I Say: Chicks, unfortunately.
Vatican Says: Yep, it's chicks. Your environment may conspire to make you feel this way, but if you actually feel this way? You are going straight to Hell.



GWYNETH PALTROW SAYS:
I knew it! You're jealous of me! Fuck you, hater: why don't you chill in this freezing water while I go make sweet, sensuous love to the lead singer of Coldplay? Wait, what do you mean "no-one could ever possibly be jealous of that, hahahahaha?" Stop laughing at me! I'm telling Satan!


#4. LUST

Let us be fair: dudes (the straight ones, anyway) have several entire industries devoted to ensuring their sexual access to women. Strip clubs, porn (not exclusively viewed by dudes! But, yes, usually made for them), prostitution, phone sex... dudes basically get to be pleasured directly or indirectly by women whenever they damn well please. So, already we're looking at a strong imbalance in favor of the dudes. On the other hand, women are probably likely to get really lustful in that backed-up, throw-me-a-bone(r) kind of way, given the fact that we don't have these outlets, so...

I Say: Oh, who am I kidding? Sex is fun for both genders. Hell for everyone, whoopee!
Vatican Says: Nope, it's dudes - probably because ladies only have sex to please their menfolk. Ugh.

KEVIN SPACEY SAYS: Mmmmm, things are getting hot. I'm talking "covered in fire and brimstone for all eternity" hot, baby. What's that? You are uncomfortable with me, Kevin Spacey, talking sexy talk in your ear? Perhaps it reminds you of how creepy I was in my Oscar-winning hit film American Beauty! Here in Hell, we have a special "Spacey cut" that consists only of the scenes of me masturbating while thinking about a high-school student. It is thirty-six hours long. Mmmmmm.

#5. GREED
Well, only 2% of Fortune 500 CEOs are women, women on the whole make about $0.77 for every dollar a man makes, and male-dominated industries tend to be more well-compensated than female-dominated industries. There are two lines of thought on this: that women just don't work hard enough to get paid more (which, while totally untrue, would still seem to paint us as less than greedy, given the not-working-for-more-money angle), or that men are rewarded more than women because they are more highly valued by other men, which makes more sense. Still, the way certain dudes freak out when you suggest evening the playing field seems, to me, pretty darn greedy. So, I think we're in the clear on this one, ladies.

I Say: It's the dudes again.
Vatican Says: The Vatican agrees! Greed is not only male, it is one of the two sins (gluttony being the other) that is not even committed by women. Sweet!


KEVIN SPACEY SAYS: Oh, I'm greedy, all right. Greedy for gold - Oscar gold, that is! And silver, by which I mean the silver screen! Don't worry, though: I never forget to "Pay It Forward." These are just a few of the many puns you will enjoy when boiling in oil for eternity with me, Kevin Spacey.



#6. WRATH
Well: men comprise the majority of convicted murderers. Men comprise the majority of people convicted for armed robbery. Men comprise the majority of people convicted of rape or assault. Men are more likely to physically abuse a partner than women are. Finally, men are socialized to accept their own anger more freely than women, to express it more directly, and to be more comfortable with physical confrontation. This is not to pick on the dudes! I don't know who's actually angrier - I, myself, get angry! Often! I do know, however, that based on societal norms for expressing anger, if a dude says "I'm going to kill you," the chances are statistically higher that you'll wind up, you know, dead.

I Say: Dudes.
Vatican Says: Nope! It is the chicks, again. This teaches us a very important lesson: no matter how uncomfortable with your anger you are, you're never uncomfortable enough for Satan.


GWYNETH PALTROW SAYS: Oh, fabulous! We're going to be dismembered alive together! You know, this is just like when I went on a tour with Mario Battali to sample the various cuisines of Spain! Except, I suppose, no-one got dismembered then. So, really, this is completely different. Don't all these tormenting demons know who I am? I was in Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow!


#7. SLOTH
Whatever, I'm tired.

I Say: Zzzzzzzzzzz.
Vatican Says: Dudes. Probably because they are all on the couch watching football while we make them sammiches? Or something? Don't know, don't care, too lazy to find out.


KEVIN SPACEY SAYS: You're in luck! We're about to be thrown into a pit of snakes! And they are all huge Kevin Spacey fans! For them - and you - I'll be re-enacting my role of Lex Luthor in that one really boring Superman movie. Then, I'll reprise my role as a billionaire with a bizarre Southern accent and walrus mustache in Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. Now, that would put anyone to sleep.

Monday, February 16, 2009

SCIENCE FACT: Douchebags Treat Girls Like Crap, Do Not Care


Hey, remember when I was really into SCIENCE? SCIENCE! It teaches us things! Well, it's back, my friends, with some extra special groundbreaking knowledge that you could never, not ever, not in your wildest dreams, have figured out already:
Men are more likely to think of women as objects if they have looked at sexy pictures of females beforehand, psychologists said yesterday.

Researchers used brain scans to show that when straight men looked at pictures of women in bikinis, areas of the brain that normally light up in anticipation of using tools, like spanners and screwdrivers, were activated.

Scans of some of the men found that a part of the brain associated with empathy for other peoples' emotions and wishes shut down after looking at the pictures.
What? No! Gasp! Etcetera. Yet it is true: most of the men studied viewed attractive female bodies as objects to be used, and some were seemingly incapable of viewing those women as human beings at all. In a shocking demonstration of how SCIENCE, particularly SCIENCE OF THE BRAIN, is totally objective and always reveals deeply natural and unchangeable facts about How People Are which have nothing to do with cultural context, the men most affected by this were determined to be the men who were most deeply entrenched in male privilege! For lo, so it did come to pass:
In the final part of the study, Fiske asked the men to fill in a questionnaire that was used to assess how sexist they were. The brain scans showed that men who scored highest had very little activity in the prefrontal cortex and other brain regions that are involved with understanding another person's feelings and intentions. "They're reacting to these women as if they're not fully human," Fiske said.
Again: what? No! Gasp! If only there were some extensive body of theory which had anticipated, interpreted, and suggested corrective measures for this phenomenon, and had connected it to the study of various cultural, political and historical factors, in order to create an overarching theory of the relation between the sexes and its political implications! "Sexism," we'd call it. Or, wait, no... "menimism?" Whatever. The name isn't important. The point is that we've got to get to work on creating this field of "genderbasedoppressionism" right away, because in the two (two!) articles reporting on this study, there is no mention of such a body of work.

Hey, here is a fun game that you can play at home: can you find sexism in the coverage of the "sexism: it exists" story? I will help you. Check out the lead, for example: "men are (1) more likely to (2) treat women as objects if they have looked at pictures of (3) sexy females beforehand." Wow: it's like the sexy females are making men do this, although there seems to have been no study of how those men reacted to the women in their environments after exposure to the pictures, and no research into whether they reacted to pictures and ladies the same way! You know who will be most affected by this? Women - good, decent, hardworking women who do not trigger the same kind of objectifying, dehumanizing response in the men around them (these scientists seem to have sort of assumed) because they do not show off their boobies and thereby make men sexist. Conclusion: this dehumanizing response, which is directed at overtly sexual women, is in no way primarily dangerous to said overtly sexual women, and is in fact all their fault. Cherchez la man-stealing whorebag who brings it all on herself, as the saying goes.

Anyway, knowing as I do how every single study that deals with gender difference is picked up by twenty-nine different news services and eventually spun into some reductive thinkpiece in the New York Times (thank you, Google Alerts), I am super excited. I'm looking forward to the "WOMEN DETERMINED TO BE SCREWDRIVERS BY MORE RATIONAL MALE BRAIN" dispatches from the Po-Dunk Sun-Dispatch, the various puns ("WOMEN: MEN JUST WANT TO SCREW YOU") from bloggers, the 97,000-word NYTM feature article "WHAT DO MEN WANT? TO TREAT YOU LIKE DOO-DOO," and, of course, the Cosmo piece about how, if you really want to please your man, you'll arrange for the hot new surgical treatment known as "decapitation," because:
When they took a memory test afterwards, the men best remembered images of bikini-clad women whose heads had been digitally removed.
Unless, of course, this particular study - which actually sort of points out the sexism, rather than normalizing it like 97% of the other gender studies I read about every day - sort of disappears into the ether, and is quickly followed by some article about how doing housework makes your vagina tighter and more pleasing to the eye. But, no, that would never happen. This is science journalism we're talking about, right? How could it be anything less than fair?



Friday, February 13, 2009

IMPORTANT FEMINIST LITERARY CRITIQUES: The Plot to Destroy Fozzie Bear

Ladies, gentlemen:

Saul Bellow


+

Philip Roth


=


Think about it, won't you?

SEXIST BEATDOWN: The Title of This Feature Now Seems Kind of Creepy Edition

Behold! It is upon us once more! THE SINGLE GREATEST AND MOST CULTURALLY RELEVANT CROSS-BLOGGING GCHAT-ENABLED INTERNET EVENT OF ALL TIME (OK, I will stop, I am running out of relevant descriptive terms anyway) featuring: Amanda Hess of Washington City Paper's The Sexist! And also: me!

This week: Chris Brown, the trivialization of domestic violence, and the problems inherent in trying not to do that within an industry that is, pretty much by definition, trivial. Also, some of the least funny jokes I have ever personally made (Amanda's were better), the secret connection between D.H. Lawrence and Chris Brown, and an Islands song, because.

Illustration: One of the 9,000,000 pictures of Rihanna, Chris Brown, and a phone that have been used to illustrate some kind of point in the last few days. GET IT? Because there was a PHONE INVOLVED, POSSIBLY? GET IT?

SADY: it's really troubling. i think it is just hard for people to even approach it without getting into iffy territory, because we have so many messed-up ideas about partner violence itself. and the idea of it surfacing in this huge and troubling way between two super-famous people, who both have (apparently) super clean public images, is really weird.

AMANDA: it is very weird. but then chris brown's whole history is resurfacing now---how he grew up in a really bad situation with an abusive step-dad---and everyone is upset about that. a lot of people are saying 'how dare you bring that up?' as if bringing up the history excuses domestic violence. I have to pee really quick. keep writing. i'll be right back.

SADY: Right. what it tells us is that brown has a history of being exposed to that stuff, and some people are reading that as an excuse-type statement, "oh but he didn't like it when his dad did it so he couldn't have," whereas other folks are reading it as: kids who grow up in those situations sometimes repeat them, it's a programming thing. i am reading a d.h. lawrence novel about how his dad beat up his mom! and lawrence hated it! and then went on to perpetrate it in at least one relationship, i understand! so d.h. and chris brown apparently have something in common.

AMANDA: who knew. i think it's been kind of interesting how the celebrity aspect of this has revealed a lot about how people talk about domestic violence. i remember reading a rumor on the internets shortly after the incident happened that said, "Chris Brown Beats Rihanna For Giving Him Herpes," and then there was this firestorm of people reacting to that, saying, why perpetuate this rumor, and even if it's true, it doesn't excuse anything. But still, I heard that rumor maybe 3 or 4 times just from people that i know.

SADY: right. exactly. it was all over.

AMANDA: because that's how celebrity news works---you hear a rumor, you repeat it. it doesn't have anything to do with your moral position on domestic violence.

SADY: yet i think it is interesting that the first thing people wanted to know was: how did she make it happen? was she possessive? cheating on him? was it the herp? the idea of an abuser as someone who makes a CHOICE, to ABUSE, is kind of absent.

AMANDA: i think part of it is that people just like to talk about celebrities, and now there's this whole movement to make the discussion of this domestic violence somehow more sacred than that---more tempered and more positive---and of course the whole situation is very serious and awful, but i think it's a little too much to expect here. the only reason we're dissecting every little part of it in the first place is because it's chris brown and rihanna, not some joe schmos from down the street who are probably beating each other right now.

SADY: yeah, true enough.

AMANDA: so, the people entering into the domestic violence debate are people who are normally, you know, drawing jizz on zac ephron's face. which is a frustrating place to be in for people who see this as an opportunity to talk about some issues that don't get a lot of time in the public conversation.

SADY: yeah, there's a lot of "if chris brown were MY boyfriend he wouldn't beat me up," versus "rihanna is so pretty, why would you hit HER?" it's kind of weird to acknowledge that people's positions on this, because of the fame, might be less moral than "OMG must come to defense of person who has never seen me or spoken to me but will one day love me back!"

AMANDA: yeah, definitely. what did you think of the spokesperson's comment? i think it was something like, "rihanna is well, we appreciate your concern." i got this press release from some lady judge who was super pissed about that, saying it "glossed over" the issue . . . i thought it was just a pretty standard "no comment."

SADY: yes, that was it, almost exactly. and, you know, normally people who report these things don't have their names published. which makes sense to me given the fact that someone created a "rihanna deserved it" t-shirt - you really want to shield someone from that kind of shaming. so i can see her wanting to be private above all right now. you're a journalist, i mean, way more so than i---what do you think of the fact that her name was reported?

AMANDA: wow, they create t-shirts fast these days.

SADY: yes, and take them down almost as quickly.

AMANDA: i mean, i think that's probably a result of how this was reported, and how all celebrity news is reported. if you're reporting from a police report, the name is struck and there are journalistic standards blah blah. but if paparazzi have the photo of RIHANNA and bloggers are writing first-person accounts of RIHANNA . . . it's out the window then.

SADY: yeah, exactly. and then people are like, "if only we had pictures! if only we had a statement from each of them! they are fame-os, how can they withhold this incredibly fascinating story from us, the public!"

AMANDA: it's too bad, but i think that privacy is one that all celebrities sacrifice, and journalistic standards are really lax for them. you can say pretty much anything about a celebrity and people are rarely sued. so do you think chris brown is going to fade into obscurity?

SADY: i dunno if it's going to be obscurity or infamy. i mean, axl rose was accused of domestic violence. ike turner, obvs. r. kelly not only got a "not guilty" sentence, he got even more famous. there is now a song called "don't call me whitney, bobby." i think that's where this is going.

AMANDA: i like that song. yeah, i guess we just wait for the comeback!

SADY: as do i!

AMANDA: let's agree to meet back here, same place, at the time of chris brown's inevitable comeback.

SADY: okay, i am scheduling it for a year from now. let's place bets. we'll talk.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Blame the Victim: A Play in Six Acts



So: it really, really looks like Chris Brown beat up a lady. What we basically know - that she had a split lip, two contusions on either side of her forehead, a black eye, and, according to some sources, bite marks; that she is reported to have said that he choked her until she lost consciousness; that a stranger called 911 [UPDATE: I was wrong and/or read this wrong - she called them, and Chris Brown is still an asshole of titanic proportions] and the sound of her screams could be heard on the tape; that Brown fled the scene and later turned himself in - is pretty overwhelmingly conclusive. That lady, by the way, was Rihanna, who was dating him - but then, you know that, because she is famous, and despite the fact that the identities of domestic violence victims, like those of rape victims, are typically withheld, various outlets, from TMZ to the LA Times, published that information.

It is a sad thing, domestic violence. It is a sad, scary, terrible thing that women - who comprise the majority of its victims - have to live in fear of, yet another weapon in the seemingly endless arsenal of threats that keep women constantly on guard lest they somehow come across as uppity and are forced to pay the price. That price is sometimes death; sometimes, painful and disfiguring injury; sometimes, just an emotional wound that never stops hurting.

Hey, did I mention that I saw this video about kittens today? It is right below this post, if you want to go check it out.

Anyway: as the allegations come in, and are reported and commented upon by various sources, celebrities, and journalists, it's clear that the victim in this case will need loving, unconditional support, professional help, and, of course, privacy, in order to recover from this unbelievably painful betrayal. The victim of whom I speak is, of course, Chris Brown.

Here follows a collection of quotes, presented with no commentary.

#1: BUT SHE MADE HIM DO IT.
"He got a booty call. He got a text. Rihanna saw it and she got upset. They started to argue. She got out of the car. He wanted her to get back in, so he grabbed her," the industry source said. "She pulled away. That's when she's told people he hit her." [Anonymous source, via New York Daily News]

My homey Rhymestyle (who I battled on Twitter) sent me a blurb that Chris and Rihanna might have gotten into a beef, because she may have given him a VD. If you don't know what that is, its a venereal disease. In this particular case, the word Herpes has been floating around. [Illseed, All Hip Hop]

I'm a girl and i personally think a it's acceptable for a guy to hit a girl WHEN THE GIRL IS VERY UNCONDITIONALLY SO ANNOYING! I have loads of friends who actually provoked the guy patience until they can't stand! Man is like dogs, very nice when treated with respect but will bite you in the *** if provoked! [Commenter, E! Online]

in his defense...I have to say...there have always been those rumors about Rihanna being very posessive and that she has flipped her lid a time or two...point of my story is that i do not wish what has happened on anyone...But here is my story...My first love and I had hit a ruff patch...i found out he was talking to another girl...and while he was always a very loving guy, he would have never put his hand on me, until...one night, i was sitting in his car and we were talking which escalated into a huge argument...my feet were proped up on the dash...i got so angry and before i knew it i had kicked his windshield and pulled his keys out and threw them across the parking lot (same as Rihanna)...well before i knew it he was out of the car and came around and threw me out of the car onto the hard concrete... The guy loved me really really loved me...but i had pushed him to his breaking point. I am sure Chris feels really bad about what happend. [Commenter, E! Online]

#2: EVEN IF SHE DIDN'T START IT, WHICH SHE DID, IT WAS PROBABLY SOME OTHER BITCH'S FAULT.

Is Paris To Blame For Chris Brown & Rihanna's Fight? [Persia Ali, The Frisky]

Leona Lewis has refuted stories suggesting she was at the centre of Chris Brown and Rihanna’s altercation on Saturday night... A source had told The Mirror: "Rihanna saw Chris flirting. He and Leona were laughing and Rihanna saw his hand on the small of her back… It was totally innocent but it set Rihanna off." [MTV.co.UK]

I am also hearing that some girl disrespected Rihanna by hitting on Chris Brown right in front of Ri Ri. Ri Ri screamed on the girl and the girl may have gotten too hype and Chris busted clocked HER, not Ri Ri. [Illseed, All Hip Hop]

#3: CHICKS JUST MAKE THIS SHIT UP ALL THE TIME.

The now former Doublemint-gum-shilling singer was arrested Sunday for allegedly beating up his hit-making girlfriend in the wee hours, and everyone is chiming in on this apparent domestic abuse case, though charges have yet to be filed... Reuters filed a piece reporting that 71 percent of voters in a poll on AOL’s popeater.com site think Brown is guilty of attacking his girlfriend—because such matters can be decided by a vote, you know. [Mark Caro, Chicago Tribune]

I think Chris Brown is innocent until proven guilty. For the bite marks those were probably sexual or something until there's some real proof instead of he say she say I'll believe it. [Commenter, Times UK]

I know Chris Brown and he ain't that kind of guy, he just ain't. He ain't done nothing I'm sure the truth will come out and show that Rhianna did this to herself...the violence on her and stuff is something she did with makeup. Chris is the man and he ain't done nothing- she is the one making this up putting make up on and all and doing it for the money. [Commenter, E! Online]

Its seems like the media is really blowing this out of proportion when it comes to Chris Brown, the way they are describing this it sounds as if she was attacked by an animal and not a human, they are making it seem like is a criminal and if he had abused her the way that they are saying, then he would have done it before and we would have known about. They didn't make this big of a deal when Bobby was beating Whitney or when they alleged that Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony were coming to blows in there fights. Evrytime in a situation like this they want to take the girls side, she could be really sneaky and deceitful, hasn't anyone seen A Thin Line Between Love and Hate. There she is out of the country supposedly recuperating from the situation while Chris Brown is left to have his image ran through the dirt. My prayers are with Chris Brown and his family right now, I hope he comes out of this situation alright and the truth is finally revealed. [Commenter, E! Online]

Don't assume that every man who hits a woman is an abuser. I was physically and emotionally abused by my X and I finally retaliate by slapping her; i was the abuser. [Commenter, Times UK]

#4: IT'S NOT A BIG DEAL; WHY CAN'T SHE GET OVER IT?

"It's just life man," Howard said of the situation. "Chris is a great guy. He'll be all right. Rihanna knows he loves her. They'll be alright. Everyone has just got to get out of their way." [Actor Terrence Howard, via ONTD]

It unbeleivable to hear that Chriss Brown hit Rhinna. It is actually bad, no matter what the misunderstanding may be he should have control his emotion. However, Rihana should be good enough to forgive his boy friend and not allow him to spend his time in Jail and this will serve as a leason to him. [Commenter, Reuters]

"Musicians are no different than anybody else. I'm not judging." [Recording Academy President Neil Portnow, via E! Online]

"You can tell everybody that Chris really feels bad about the whole situation, about it coming out the way that it happened, the way he went about it, the way she went about it ... it's just a wack situation." As for what really happened, the friend says the story is "not as bad as everybody is trying to gas it up to be."[Anonymous source, via PEOPLE]

“One situation doesn’t define a man and I really want American to stop doing that to people. As humans, none of us is perfect.” [David Banner, via Rolling Stone]

The case could be affected by how much Rihanna is willing to forgive her boyfriend. "Prosecutors back off somewhat when they see a couple trying to work out their own issues," says Steve Sitkoff, an L.A. defense attorney. [Joey Bartolomeo, PEOPLE]

It’s so far unclear if Rihanna will be willing forgive and forget. [Roger Friedman, FOX News]



#5: WHAT ABOUT HIS SUFFERING?

Of course, there are the stories about Brown’s lost endorsements, such as Wrigley canceling his deal (after the gum company paid him to turn its Doublemint jingle into the hit song, “Forever”) . [Mark Caro, Chicago Tribune]

I still like chris brown.He is a good guy. They are just making this sound worse than it actually is. I still will listen to his music. They should not take him from any of his commercials. I like Rihanna too. I just dont think that it should be all blamed on him. I hope to soon find out the truth. [Commenter, E! Online]

Rihanna is recovering from her wounds, whatever they are, while Chris Brown must deal with the fallout from a percolating scandal. Already he’s been dropped from a Wrigley’s gum campaign. But that’s just the tip of what could be an ugly iceberg. [Roger Friedman, FOX News]

I believe that everyone should keep there comments to themselves....sometimes stuff happens...if she slapped him and brusied him up no one would care...give hime his promition contracts back HE worked hard for them!!! [Commenter, E! Online]

Of course, what actually happened remains to be sorted out in full view of Lady Justice. But PR people universally agree that Brown should have launched his I'm-an-ass apology tour by now, or at least some sort of self-mutilating statement. [Leslie Gornstein, E! Online]

For a couple who tried to keep their relationship quiet, the latest incident is sure to be a personal nightmare for Rihanna and Brown. [Alex Dobuzinskis, Reuters]

#6: THE T-SHIRT


[Cafe Press via Jezebel.]

"I'm Her Mom." "No, She's Not!" And Other Brief Diversions

Here is a thing you need to know about me, first of all: sometimes I do not answer my phone. Here is another thing: I love both baby animals and baby humans. My love for baby humans is kind of conditional - I think they are awesome up until about the age of twelve, at which point they become insufferable little weiners - but, nonetheless, deeply felt. I have, like, ten cousins, THAT I KNOW OF, not counting step-cousins and former step-cousins and my cousins from my dad's six brothers and sisters, most of whom I've never met, and eight of my ten known cousins are younger than my own personal self, so you may rest assured that I have a lot of experience in the whole hanging-out-with-small-humans thing and feel pretty certain that it is (subjectively, at least) a rocking time. Now, you may think these two pieces of information are unrelated! They are not, however, and herein I hope to demonstrate why that is so.

Ladies, gentlemen: I present to you, "Kittens: Inspired by 'Kittens.'"




As I watch this video, which is available on the YouTube and which I hope to aid in becoming the next big viral meme, I realize that it is very likely unbearable to a large sector of the adult population. This sector consists of people who (a) do not like kittens, or (b) do not like children. I even know some folks who dislike BOTH kittens AND children, which just seems like saying "no" to life to me, but I respect the fact that, were they to watch this video, they would fall out of their chairs while clawing frantically at their eyes to get the poison out. I am not one of those people!

Because kids will just do stuff like this. They know it's kind of dorky, maybe. THEY DO NOT CARE. Much as I loathe the sort of parents who will tape their child and put him or her on the YouTube, taking care to include some nods to Wes Anderson in terms of frame composition because they are dicks (your child has a fake tattoo? Or is it real? Is your child JUST THAT COOL?) I must respect this particular effort because: "I want pie! I want beef jerky!" Dude, that is exactly what those kittens are thinking, how does she know? So, this is maybe why I am more cool with baby animals and humans than others, because, those times when I do not answer my phone? This is exactly what I am doing. I just thought you should know.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

No-One On The Corner Has Swagger Like Us; Nor Are They As Pregnant: A Post About Celebrity Fashion

Here we are, folks, deep in the heart of February. Its cruel torments continue unabated; even the weather - the fabulous springlike weather, the golden sunbeams and fair breezes that have imbued me with an irrational conviction that cartoon birds are about to swoop down onto my shoulder and start chirping merrily at my face - feels like a tease, the Good Cop that tells you to relax and that he wants to help you right before Bad Cop starts yelling.

One side effect of February is that I cannot find anything to say! This whole "writing" thing, this process whereby one arranges words into a rational order, punctuated with, I don't know, colons or something: whatever. Why bother?

But wait, did you hear that M.I.A. wore a dress?

Yes! A dress! You can find a photo of it right here, in this very blog post! It looks kind of crazy, just like everything else M.I.A. has ever worn, ever. Yet this dress: it is different. It is important. For, you see, M.I.A. is totally prego (or was, when she wore it - probably she has a baby now) and is therefore called upon to represent the sacredness of motherhood in all she does. What does this dress mean for the delicate flower of woman's virtue?


#1. The Old People

You can find one answer at Slate's XX blog, where someone's cranky grandma broke in and started posting under the name of "Marjorie Valbrun":
The imagery of a scantily-clad, or should I say scandalously-clad, pregnant young women dancing on stage with a bunch of male rappers whose rhymes sometimes debase women, was just too much for me. And don't even get me started on what this cringe-worthy antic might say to impressionable teenage girl fans... someone, anyone, should have pulled her aside before she went on stage and simply said NO! You can't wear that outfit. Please don't wear that outfit. If she has a fashion consultant that person should be promptly fired and run out of town. The British designer who came up with the polka-dotted creation should be fired too... I'd still rather [be torn apart by wolves or something, essentially] than see my half-dressed mother dancing onstage before a television audience of millions, while carrying me in her womb no less, acting like she has no sense.

Then all the other ladies on the blog started yelling at Marjorie Valbrun, like, "Grandma! No! Don't you know not to post without your medicine? President Hoover is not even alive any more, Grandma, he can't answer your letters," and she drew upon all the strength in her nine-thousand-year-old bones, and retorted, like so:

I don't think dressing in clothing—pregnant or not—that leaves little to the imagination is empowering or radically feminist... She would have been just as effective performing with those men while wearing a suit—albeit a suit that proudly accommodates the protruding stomach—and even more so a dress.

"Something modest, with a nice high neckline, that makes her look like a young lady, and why are all these young girls showing off their ankles these days? In my day, we made a man work for it," Marjorie Valbrun did not add.


#2. The Slightly Less Old People

Over at Hipster Runoff, meanwhile, there is a hilarious assortment of jokes about domestic violence and (the female half of) the cast of "He's Just Not That Into You" being skanks who should be the targets of domestic violence (hahaha, "Chris Brown's Pimp Hand," ohhhh, that's a good one, did you hear he choked his girlfriend until she lost consciousness and there was a 911 call that was basically just the sound of her screaming for her life? "Chris Brown's Pimp Hand"! Because he's black, like a pimp would be, and beats women! Ha!) and oh! The dress! On M.I.A., and also on a younger, skinnier, white, non-pregnant model. Twice. Which one looks better, yall? Could it be the person who conforms in every way to our currently accepted beauty standard?

Now, Carles might be satirizing racism and sexism; he might be satirizing the way white kids pat themselves on the back for liking M.I.A. because she's brown and cool, just like their brown friends would be if they had any; he might just be upset because M.I.A. criticizes American imperialism and capitalism while taking money from enormous corporations, and might therefore feel the need to make fun of anything or everything about her. Who knows? One of my fondest dreams is that the ever-mysterious Carles will turn out to be an Asian (or "AZN") woman who is running this shit up the flagpole as a demonstration of how certain kids will just embrace racism and sexism uncritically if it's positioned as "ironic" and cool, but I have a little less faith in that than I used to; Carles the writer, via "Carles" the character, just satirizes everything and refuses to give a shit about anything, and is just as likely to make a racist or sexist joke as he is to make a joke about racism or sexism, which, if my life experience is any indicator, is just the last resort of someone determined to be cool at any cost. If you believe in something whole-heartedly, regardless of whether or not it's in style, someone is eventually going to laugh at you; if you can't deal with being laughed at, the logical next step is to give up your beliefs. You know, sell out. If, that is, you had anything to sell in the first place - if you aren't just dealing more played-out Gavin McInnes bullshit, more "outrageous" racist sexist gay jokes from a (probably) straight white boy who can afford to be tickled by these incredibly hurtful and scary and potentially lethal things because racism and sexism and the oppression of gay people actually benefit him in every possible way.

On that tip: hey, here's an awesomely post-racial, post-gender, post-it's-not-cool-to-use-"faggot"-as-an-insult commenter!

hate entry level rihanna wanabes… who said she was alt? its almost the same as all the kanye peen suckers on his blog who praise him for finding shit on stumbleupon.com they will soon be on their way here large influx of kanyefggts and rihannawhores.. atleast the rihannawhores while know how to take a beating.

Yep, someone liking overtly commercial music and subsequently finding out about a website you like: way more troubling than domestic violence. Thank God he gets the satire! But what does this mean for M.I.A.'s dress?


#3. The Me People

Allow me to begin by dropping some knowledge on your face. M.I.A. is (a) a woman, (b) a South Asian woman, (c) a South Asian woman who is a celebrity, and (d) a famous South Asian woman who is pregnant and/or someone's mom. Basically, all of these things mean that her body is constantly subject to criticism and comment from people she may or may not give a shit about! Including me.

Here is how that plays out, inevitably, not just for M.I.A. but for anyone who is anywhere near her position: while some douchebags are carping about how she's sexualizing herself (which women, and especially women of color, are constantly told is the worst imaginable sin) and, even worse, sexualizing herself while pregnant (because pregnant women should never be seen as sexual, because pregnancy is in no way the result of sexual attraction or actual fucking; babies happen because God whispers happy thoughts into your vagina), still other douchebags are complaining about how she's not sexualizing herself enough, how female celebrities should be fuckable but they don't necessarily want to fuck her because she's fat and not blonde and preggers and runs off at the mouth, and couldn't she do something about that? This would be a good starting point for a conversation about conflicting expectations placed on ladies and how no-one can ever fulfill them! But whatever, that's beside the point: all anyone wants to do is talk about her body.

So, while we're all talking about M.I.A.'s pregnant body - and we have been for months, Jesus - she shows up, at a big fancy party, with pretty much all of it on display. Do you think she doesn't know how to work the Google? Do you think she doesn't get that we're talking about it, that people are maybe more interested in her pregnancy than in her actual work? I am not a person who gets worked up about outfits - I barely know how to dress myself - but the dress, for whatever reason, made me laugh, because it was a big black-and-white polka-dotted Fuck You. There are big circular targets over her boobs and belly, for Christ's sake. How do you not get that particular joke?

Yes, she still looks like M.I.A. - that is, totally crazy all the time - even while pregnant, and still does M.I.A. stuff like singing songs, and you know what? Great. Paying too much attention to celebrities is stupid, but while the culture at large is doing that, I like to know that at least one famous woman is not going all doe-eyed and demure and personality-free the instant a sperm hits one of her eggs. I hope she sells the baby pictures for ninety-seven million dollars and when they come out she and the kid are both dressed like neon-pink koala bears. That would be super.

So, yeah: if you can't deal with a pregnant woman wearing a dress you did not personally choose, or with the fact that some people at the Grammys might actually be engaging in promotional activity intended to sell music (!!!) or with the fact that people, on the whole, become celebrities by showing up places and acting and/or looking wacky enough to notice, I have a solution: don't watch the Grammys. Because, for Christ's sake, this time next year I will be exactly this cranky, and exactly this prone to nonsensical tirades, and the last thing I want is for the news coverage to be dominated by another fucking dress.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

You Are Going to Die Alone. Want Popcorn?

OMFG! Valentine's Day is coming!!!!! Do you have a date yet? I do, because I am better than you. You are probably a sad, loveless old spinster who fritters away her precious childbearing years doing things like "working" and "making friends" and "discovering a cure for cancer." Ha ha ha, you are pathetic.

No need to worry, though: even though you are a woman, and therefore totally suck until the precise moment that you meet a man who is willing to admit you might suck a little less than others of your kind, there is no need for you to be alone. You have the movies! Yes, for a mere $10 or $12 bucks a pop, you can haul your sad ass into a theater full of anonymous strangers to watch your narrative surrogates (who suck - just like you!) realize how awful they are and find sweet, sweet redemption at the hands of various blandly handsome men. They find love, these women! Just like you never will.

Now, I do not see these movies. God, no. I've seen some posters, though! So put down your Haagen-Dasz or whatever it is you dopes use to replace the sweet touch of a man, and listen up, for I am about to demonstrate my reviewing skills. This is why I get the big bucks, people! (SPOILER: No, it is not, I do this for free.)

#1:

Delightful! A quirky computer-animated romance about two stick figures who meet whilst posted on the doors of adjacent restrooms! It's like WALL-E, but with more jokes about public urination. Oh, wait, I am totally wrong. Here's the plot summary [via]:
A romantically challenged morning show producer (Heigl) is reluctantly embroiled in a series of outrageous tests by her chauvinistic correspondent (Butler) to prove his theories on relationships and help her find love. His clever ploys, however, lead to an unexpected result.
... he gets devoured by sharks?

No, no, that's probably not it. They probably fall in loooove, despite/because of the fact that he is so adorably "chauvinistic" and treats her like a pile of dog poop that he somehow stepped in on the way to Hooters. Then she discovers that he is a dinosaur and has a secondary circulatory system in his hindquarters. Romance!

#2:
Terrifying! An innocent woman is accused of being a witch by the elders of her pastel village, and is condemned to be hung about with bags of expensive consumer products and thrown into the river! She screams, silently, from the poster - appealing to us, or to God, or to ANYONE, to spare her this agony. How did she come to meet this dark fate? Let's check the plot summary:
In the glamorous world of New York City, Rebecca Bloomwood (ISLA FISHER) is a fun-loving girl who is really good at shopping - a little too good, perhaps. She dreams of working for her favorite fashion magazine, but can't quite get her foot in the door - until ironically, she snags a job as an advice columnist for a financial magazine published by the same company. As her dreams are finally coming true, she goes to ever more hilarious and extreme efforts to keep her past from ruining her future.
Ah, women. Not only do they suck at love, they really, earnestly suck at having jobs. Imagine: a woman, writing, for a magazine that is not about fashion! Why, she'd be completely unqualified! Ho ho ho, what would she do, manipulate the keys of the laptop with her vagina? Turn in an article written entirely with her eyeliner pencil? This is a situation rife with comedic potential! All jokes aside, however, I can only hope that this confused young lady meets some sort of blandly handsome gentleman - her boss, I am thinking, or at the very least a more senior co-worker - who helps to set her priorities straight and teaches her that life is, yes, about more than shopping. It's also about learning to give the perfect BJ.

#3.


Ah, the Brady Bunch: all grown up, still creepily trapped in alternate dimensions, from whence they can only stare at each other in an ultimately futile attempt at communication. Or, you know, not. Ultimately, this poster is so bland (that dude from Alias! That lady from Friends! Some other lady! That guy who is not John Hodgman!) that I can only turn to the plot summary - which, holy Jesus, is long:

Gigi just wants a man who says he'll call - and does - while Alex advises her to stop sitting by the phone. Beth wonders if she should call it off after years of committed singlehood with her boyfriend, Neil, but he doesn't think there's a single thing wrong with their unmarried life. Janine's not sure if she can trust her husband, Ben, who can't quite trust himself around Anna. Anna can't decide between the sexy married guy [the one from Alias! - Ed.] or her straightforward no-sparks standby, Conor, who can't get over the fact that he can't have her. And Mary, who's found an entire network of loving, supportive men, just needs to find one who's straight.

If you've ever sat by the phone wondering why he said he would call, but didn't [you are a lousy lay - Ed.] or if you can't figure out why she doesn't want to sleep with you any more [you, also, are a lousy lay - Ed.] or why your relationship just isn't going to the next level [you are both lousy lays, and why do you even try squishing your sad old privates together any more, seriously? - Ed.]... he (or she) is just not that into you.

There! Now all you wretched griping feminists can stop your wretched griping! He, OR SHE, is just not that into you. They've acknowledged that women may not all be ready to glom onto the first man who shows them the slightest bit of interest (in parentheses). They've indicated that women are at least partially responsible for the direction that their relationships take, and that boys are not the only ones who call the shots (in parentheses). They've positioned their movie as one which is not intended solely for female consumers and/or part of an industry in which rich old men greenlight sub-par entertainments for women based solely on their stereotypical and frankly insulting ideas of what women care about (in parentheses). If that is not part of the title - if, that is, the title indicates a movie that is only about women responding to male desire, rather than acknowledging that almost every single person on this planet attempts sexual relations with other people and will therefore necessarily experience some kind of rejection sooner or later, and also that women have desires of their own which are autonomous and not entirely dependent on those of men - that is only because it would be too hard to make that point (in parentheses)!

I see no problems with this movie. It will be delightful. It will teach us to laugh about love. It will have that dude from the Mac commercials, possibly in his altogether. Go see it. God knows you don't have anything else going on.