when the status quo frustrates.

I denounce this.

Wednesday, August 18th, 2010

I don’t think Fred Clarke apologized quite quick enough, but I feel that his words are really awesome nevertheless.

RT @slacktivist

Balanced.

Monday, August 16th, 2010

Dear Internet,

I just ate a piece of pizza. I know that it is making me fat. I am aware that it contains polyunsaturated something-or-other, hydrolyzed this-or-that, and also sugar and, god help me, corn.

I know that half of what I just ate is giving me cancer even as the other half is preventing it. I know the wheat is shredding my intestines even as it murders my children. I know that the corn is genetically engineered and that it’s giving me cancer, because as everyone knows, genes cause cancer. I know that I probably need more B12 or B7 or K or something, I know that fructose is the new cyanide, I know that I’m probably allergic to goddamned near everything, and yes, I know that if I add a teaspoon of sugar to my tea I may as well be mainlining crystal meth.

Oh, and hey look! Something about gut bacteria. My gut bacteria, or possibly my lack thereof, are making me fat and maybe also killing me. Okay, I know that now, too.

I know that I need to work out more. God, do I ever I know that. I know that I should be working out RIGHT NOW THIS SECOND. (And yes, I know that the aspartame I just sipped in my diet coke is killing me in exactly the same way as sugar, but with a funny aftertaste.)

But you know what, Internet? I just. Don’t. Care. The aggregate cost of filtering, processing, and understanding a constantly-shifting stream of breathless information about THIS thing which causes toe cancer in genetically engineered lab rats or THAT thing which prevents aging in soybean nematodes—let alone the vast array of things that affect my chakral alignment or the quantum moment of my vitreous humors—has just become far higher than any conceivable benefit.

When you can show me a living person who is 300 years old and who doesn’t look a day over, say, 50, then we can talk.

Until then: please, please, shut the fuck up.

<3
~ v.

p.s. I either ALREADY HAVE brain cancer, or I NEVER WILL. Either way, unless you’re whining about the antenna in the fucking iPhone 4, please shut the fuck up about cell phones, too. Actually, on second thought, don’t say anything about the iPhone 4, either.

Every Single Post on Feminist Blog Tagged “rape”

Monday, August 16th, 2010

Posts on LOST, household repairs, ice cream apparently relate to violent sexual assault somehow.

The absolutely true reason, until another comes along.

Monday, August 16th, 2010

Over at The Friendly Atheist has sent two observers to the Americans For Truth About Homosexuality Anti-Gay-Rights Academy (the AFTAH-AGRA, I suppose). Let me summarize: these people believe that homosexuals are trying to rape your children and destroy the world and want to stop this. Yes, very shocking, but let’s look at this bit from Maria:

The fatal flaw in [AFTAH‘s] arguments was the necessary requirement of the belief in a Judeo-Christian conception of God and an acceptance of the Bible as wholly true. Until we can come to a consensus on what “truth” and “evidence” should be defined as, this argument is never going to be resolved. I don’t hold out much hope that it will be.

Look: that is not their fatal flaw. Their fatal flaw is that they’re hateful. The arguments they’re spewing to further their agenda are hateful, fearmongering manipulation used to maintain oppressive systems. Their fatal flaw isn’t incorrect, it’s that they’re wrong.

Christianity doesn’t compel you to believe that homosexuality is wrong, let alone dangerous. If Christianity weren’t around, these folks would find another way to prop up the patriarchy. They would swap out the cornerstone with another, similarly-shaped brick without a moment’s hesitation, and nothing but the words would change. On the flip side, there are plenty of Christians—though, I’ll agree, fewer—who fully support the radical queer agenda.

I think this cuts to the root of why I, at least, find atheists irritating—they see that Christianity is incorrect, and assume that’s the problem. As when we turn on the worldwide DeReligionizer Ray tomorrow, there will be no more social injustice!

Which is, I think, not quite what would happen. People will realize that there’s no more money or power in the religious oppression game, and they will move on to codify new structures to oppress people with, in remarkably similar ways.

The Catholic Church has lots and lots and lots and lots of problems. Some of those problems are epistemological, and they are not, should not, must not, be the top priority.

AFTAH has some serious problems, but the fact that they’re incorrect about this or that inconsequential thing isn’t the big one. Their biggest problem is that they’re wrong.

Domestic Violence

Sunday, August 15th, 2010

This post might potentially triggering to victims of domestic violence, or people who had to witness it. It also might suck, because my thoughts are a bit muddled and I’m trying to straighten them out via blogpost. For these reasons, I’m putting pretty much the whole thing below the fold.
(more…)

Failure!

Friday, August 13th, 2010

You guys, I just failed to cook something.

That’s kindof a big deal. Cooking is one of the few things I can do reliably and well. I’ll fuck up crazy experimental food (what happens… if I stuff peanut butter into this bell pepper?!?! Nothing good, it turns out.), but this was pancakes.

Pancakes are not experimental.

What’s more, I failed at pancakes by adding too much baking soda. That’s like failing at partying because you took too much ecstasy (and, incidentally, tastes similar).

Two days ago, I burned Daal. I’m not becoming a fantasy writer (“the Da’al wound their way up the to’wer, donning their ky’aap’es and activating their læn’tyrr”iens”). Daal is lentils. Lentils in a pot. With spices. I burned lentils in a pot with spices. I still don’t know how I did this.

I just tried another pancake, made with new batter. It’s vaguely tolerable. I think I still added too much baking soda, or maybe my baking soda has been absorbing the taste of ass. Maybe it absorbed the smoke from the burnt Daal.

I think I need a time-out. No, wait, what’s the thing in that Canadian game, with the sticks? I need to go into the penalty box. The ingredients will have a power play in my kitchen during which I will not cook them, because apparently I pissed off M’oskyo’wyts, the goddess of cooking stuff.

I’m going to get stoned now, and eat the rest of my vaguely ass-absorbed pancakes.

Equal Protection of the Laws.

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

Over at Red State (and let’s bracket for a moment why I was ever reading a blog called Red State that wasn’t about menstruation), a writer named Hogan blows a gasket over former conservative hero Ted Olson arguing persuasively for gay rights. That’s not really surprising—I expect many modern conservatives see Ted Olson as a kind of Judas figure, selling out his principles and nation and God in exchange for a few pieces of fame and fortune. It’s difficult to imagine that Ted Olson would find this attitude surprising or lose any sleep over it.

What’s more interesting is how Hogan constructs his legal opposition to Olson’s position.

Olson claims that California “has no rational basis for continuing this discrimination.” Really? No rational basis? Who made you King, Mr. Olson? Because it seems to me that we human beings may well have more than a “rational basis” to recognize marriage as it has been recognized around the world for literally thousands of years – the union of a man and a woman. For reasons of pro-creation and parenthood, to start with, but also for reasons of faith and morality, for some of us, any marriage other than such a union can never be, whatever society says, a “marriage” at all.

Mr. Olson hides behind – as any good activist does – the issue of race to use the Constitution for a larger social purpose and to achieve own policy objective. Olson invokes Loving v. Virginia, which was the case ending racial discrimination in marriage laws, to say that gays should be allowed to marry. If you believe that, then you believe that the 14th Amendment means anything. The 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments were specifically designed to deal with racism and the prohibition thereof.

There are two separate claims here: one, that there is actually a rational basis for preventing gays and lesbians from marrying, and two, that the Equal Protection and Due Process clauses of the 14th amendment were intended to address racism, and shouldn’t apply to gays and lesbians anyway. It’s an argument whose structure you might recall from primary school—“I didn’t do it, you can’t prove it was me, and it’s a stupid rule anyhow.”

On the first point, Hogan wants to assert that tradition, faith, and morality, or at least some combination thereof, constitute rational bases for discrimination against gays. It’s an argument you hear a lot from fans of sectarian government—these reasons seem rational to them, so obviously if the courts fail to recognize it, it’s because the courts are a wing of a liberal anarcho-queer supremacist movement which has as its aim the annihilation of heterosexuality, families, and liberty in general.

Actually, this is his strongest point.

Courts are generally somewhat conservative, and consider tradition and morality—if not someone’s particular, sectarian religious beliefs—to be acceptable bases for legal intervention in our lives. Acceptable, that is, but certainly not sufficient, and that’s where this line of reasoning sadly falls apart. When you’re abridging someone’s rights, the courts have found, you need to be able to conjure up some slightly more compelling reason than, “it has always been thus, so there.” This was an important finding in Loving v. Virginia (and, later, in Williams v. Illinois) —prohibitions on interracial marriage may have had the support of tradition and church, but they weren’t rational. In fact, they were pointless. And even as the courts seem willing to smile on even poorly supported encroachments on liberty, they’ve found unsupported violations will have to go. And so they went, some of them.

But! That’s Loving, a case about interracial marriage. The 14th Amendment, Red State reminds us, is specifically crafted to apply only to people of color. That was the obvious intention of its framers, and absolutely the only reason we think its application might be broader than that today is because the power-mad judiciary has over the years stretched the tiniest of loopholes into an enormous tear in the very fabric of the Constitution. Why, just look at the wording of the thing:

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws. 14th Amendment, Section 1

The text certainly seems to… resist the interpretation that it only offers protection against racial discrimination. In fact, it looks rather more like a broad-reaching law designed to force States to respect the rights of their citizens.

All their citizens.

If the framers—John Bingham, specifically—had intended for the 14th Amendment to apply specifically to institutional racism, it’s not as though they lacked the tools to call it out. The 15th Amendment, passed just two years later, does exactly this:

The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude. 15th Amendment, Section 1

No man may be denied a vote because of the color of his skin, nor because he was once a slave. (No man and his skin, specifically, because of course it would remain illegal for women to vote for fifty years hence, until the 19th Amendment was ratified. It had to be another amendment, because the 15th is silent on the issue of gender in exactly the way that the 14th is not.)

All their citizens. Everyone.

That’s what Bingham meant; that’s what the Congress meant. Hewing to a strictly originalist view of Constitutional law, you might be surprised to read Bingham’s congressional testimony, in which he makes quite clear his intention that the 14th Amendment be a broad thing, a powerful instrument of justice, protecting citizens (All citizens. Everyone.) from the capricious decisions of governmental bodies large and small. In fact, he seems to argue for an even broader reading of the amendment than courts recognize today.

So where does the Red State writer’s interpretation come from? In a blossoming of what I’m tempted to term delicious irony, it comes from an activist judge—five activist judges, specifically. Not five years after its passage, the Supreme Court decided in Slaughter-house cases that the 14th was a response to racism—specifically, to lasting discrimination against former slaves—and so it oughtn’t be applied more broadly than that. So it wasn’t, and for years, the amendment may as well not have existed.

Today, essentially nobody believes that Slaughterhouse was decided properly. In the intervening years, the courts have slowly restored the power of the 14th, building a multi-tiered (and, arguably, overcomplicated) framework under which different laws are considered with different degrees of scrutiny, based on the significance of the rights abridged and the oppression experienced by the class of people it targets. This isn’t a power grab—it’s entirely the opposite, a moderation of the judiciary’s power, rooted in the notion that courts ought to be a last resort for those peoples too maligned, stigmatized, or powerless to seek legislative remedy.

It’s this last point that gives lie to the slippery slope argument we’ve heard so very often—this notion that if you believe the arguments for gay marriage, “you believe that the 14th Amendment means anything.” Yes, the courts have found that gays and lesbians constitute a suspect class, and that abridgment of their fundamental rights must thus be narrowly tailored to satisfy a compelling government interest which cannot be satisfied in any other way. But it only found this—could only find this—after being buried under an avalanche of evidence in which the plaintiffs exhaustively and somewhat oddly argued that gays and lesbians are politically powerless and biologically locked into their sexualities (leaving the sectarian proponents to argue that no, gays have enormous political power and their sexualities are fluid and constructed, making me wonder if they intersperse Butler in their sword drills). It seems enormously unlikely that we’ll see similarly compelling arguments for marrying cats or children, neither of which can offer legal consent.

The evidence is so overwhelming that should Perry make it to the Supreme Court, it will be exceedingly interesting to watch Antonin Scalia tie himself into a pretzel trying to justify ignoring it. Perhaps he will decide that the 14th Amendment really is all about the rights of ex-slaves, pesky things like the framers’ intentions and thousands of pages of jurisprudence notwithstanding. Or perhaps, seeing his very own words quoted in Judge Walker’s decision, he will become radioactive with indignation, and he will explode.

If moral disapprobation of homosexual conduct is ‘no legitimate state interest’ for purposes of proscribing that conduct… what justification could there possibly be for denying the benefits of marriage to homosexual couples exercising ‘the liberty protected by the Constitution’? Surely not the encouragement of procreation, since the sterile and the elderly are allowed to marry. Lawrence v Texas, 539 U.S. 558 (2003), Antonin Scalia Dissenting

Could be worse.

Saturday, August 7th, 2010

She smeared long trails on her face and jeans as she worked. Bits clung to her ankles. “It’s not so bad,” she said, sawing. “It’s not like I killed them all.”

Sluts and Mothers

Friday, August 6th, 2010

Generally, two things only women can be.

I’ve seldom been a slut–I was never able to say that before, or anything else on the topic of how much of a slut I was or wasn’t, because I never had a definition before that I felt satisfied any kind of consistency (internal or external). However, I have finally lucked out and stumbled across the bestest definition of s-l-u-t evar:

as the awesome Kelly Huegel pointed out, is a female person who has had sex with more people than any one person calling them a slut considers acceptable

Actually, by that definition I may never have been a slut, since as far as I know nobody has ever called me one. However, since the strong possibility always exists for any woman that at some point in time somebody somewhere has called her a slut outside of her hearing, I may have periodically been a slut. The closest I ever came to this face-to-face was the one-and-only-boyfriend-who-ever-asked-me-what-my-number-was, and appeared to be either deeply shocked or deeply impressed by said digit once it was delivered to him. (I returned the favor and asked him for his, and thence learned that his was, oh dear, lower than mine, which likely had some influence on the rather odd number-asking behavior and response to my response.)

I am mostly indifferent to the social construct that is a slut, but given my lack of personal dealings with the meme, I suspect a lot of my indifference stems from my privileged status as generally not being considered one. I have instead spent most of my sexual life married, which has resulted in more frequent accusations of codependency (not true–yes, I have checked with a psychologist on the possibility of that or any other quirks in my cortex–there are quirks, but not that one). I will say I have managed to spend the past five years only married for less than one of them, though I somewhat spoil that by having to admit that I have cohabitated for three.

Which is why I did really enjoy this piece from Jezebel, which has generated (unsuprisingly) all kind of bloggy feedback, both positive and negative. Not because I ever experienced the joys of “sluthood” myself, though I considered the idea on several occasions throughout the years, but because I know what it is to find well into my adult life that I was not only a serial monogamist but that I was a completely unintentional one, with unpleasant psychological results at the ending of the last foray into committed relationshiphood. I also found myself completely burnt out on the emotional roller-coaster ride, though my personal centering solution to this wasn’t to embrace casual sexual encounters. I figured out long ago that I am by nature monogamous, and in spite of the bewildering (to me, anyway–why does anyone care what someone else’s personal consensual sexual preferences are, really..? but oh, silly question–if that were the case, this wouldn’t be the behemoth it is) attempts by some to portray monogamy as unnatural and damaging for everyone. I have to admit, though, that my lack of interest in casual sexual encounters when monogamy is not an issue as everyone involved is totally single has eroded a little over the years. (Why this is, and why I feel I am naturally monogamous in general, is totally worth exploring further and I am gonna do it. Soon. Really!) But it still isn’t much of an interest.

But it’s really old news that only women can be sluts. I have periodically heard in passing, some man or other playfully labeled a “slut,” but it’s pretty meaningless in that context. For women, it can clearly become life-dominating. For Jaclyn Friedman, author of the Jezebel piece that prompted this train of musing, it clearly was as well. Frankly, I find the thought of it exhausting, the burden I and every other woman is supposed to shoulder at puberty (or even before, sometimes) based upon the fact that heterosexual men (the dominant variety) want to have sexual intercourse with us. Besides my history of not having to deal with it much personally, I suspect this exhaustion is the other main reason I am mostly indifferent to the slut meme–I don’t want to think about it. It’s not my problem, dammit! But you know, it is, by virtue of the fact that I am a woman. This is deeply irritating.

So I was already irritated when I continued my perusal of Feministe’s front page and got to this gem:

Diets all around!

Well, here’s some research that can’t possibly be misconstrued: a new study published in The Lancet has documented an association between the amount of weight a mother gains during her pregnancy and the birth weight of her infant. Since birth weight can be used to predict adult BMI, cue the ZOMG! Obesity! commentary. “For babies, studies are just now beginning to show that the effects of tipping the scales at birth may linger throughout life. Many experts suggest that excessive nutrition in pregnancy creates an abnormal uterine environment that permanently changes the baby’s brain, pancreas, fat tissue and other biological systems, said a co-author of the study, Dr. David Ludwig.”

Right.

I ate like a pig during both my pregnancies, once I was able to keep food down at all (in other words, not the first trimester or the first half of the second trimester). Though I may actually be insulting pigs by comparing my gestating eating habits to their usual ones. I gained about fifty pounds both times–I kid you not; when I stood on the scale in the delivery room while in the middle of labor with Offspring No. 2, I weighed in at 197 pounds. Not only did I consume vast quantities of food, it was whatever type of food I madly craved at the moment, which was quite the bewildering variety. (Yes, I drank pickle juice straight out of the jar, among other things. Pregnancy is weird. Avoid it until you are 100% sure it and its lifelong semi-autonomous consequences are what you really, really want.) Some of this food was great stuff for anyone, like the cucumber-and-tangerines kick I went on in the eighth month of pregnancy with one kid. Some of this food was not so great, like the french toast obsession I developed in month six or seven with the other kid.

So I starved myself (involuntarily, I assure you, not to mention dehydrated myself badly) for half of both my pregnancies and gorged like food was going to be gone tomorrow for the other half. I gained probably about as much weight as was recommended for the Octomom to put on (nope, neither of my pregnancies were even with twins). And yet–and yet–

Baby no. 1: male, full-term, 7 lbs 15 oz and 21 in. long
Baby no. 2: male, full-term, 7 lbs 15 1/2 oz and 21 in. long

According to kidshealth.org:

Most full-term babies weigh somewhere between 6 pounds, 2 ounces and 9 pounds, 2 ounces. Their average length ranges from 19 to 21 inches.

Hmm. Does the fact that at 5 feet 8 inches, I’m the shortest person in my family, and the only person shorter than me in the kids’ dad’s family is my sister-in-law at 5 feet 7 inches, and that in neither family is there an adult male below 6 feet in height, have anything to do with anything..? But even taking that into account, the kids weren’t outside the average range in length and were comfortably within the average weight.

Well, how about now though…? Maybe my goatlike approach to ingestion during pregnancy had a delayed response–

Baby no. 1: still male, 18 years old. 6 feet 4 inches tall. 160 pounds. (Actually a bit of a problem, as he is only 4 pounds over the underweight limit for an Air Force enlistee of his height. He has been advised by his recruiter to start scarfing down protein and hitting the gym for some weight training.)

Baby no. 2: still male, 13 years old. 5 feet 4 inches tall. 97 pounds. (According to standard charts for the US, this puts him at about the 80th percentile in height and 45th percentile in weight for a boy his age.)

…maybe I’ve starved them since birth, to hide my grotesque fetal abuse?

I know, I know, one piece of anecdata does not a refutation make…but it does make it hard for me personally to really take this seriously. It makes it very easy for me to see it as yet more womanshaming, safely targeting a role that only, indeed, women can and do take–there’s no way at all to slither out of gender-specific blame here, baby!

Let’s give the ladies a rest for a day, folks. Okay?

What About Sincerity?

Sunday, August 1st, 2010

I don’t know if this really is a trend, or just something that I notice because it’s my circle of American culture, but fuck it, what’s a blog for if not to take your own experiences and apply them to the world at large?*

I am worried that we are a generation that cannot deal with anything with out a thick layer of cynicism and sardonic humor. It seems like we decided that if you care about anything, this makes you worthy of mockery at the very least, and at worst, an asshole.

The existence of 4chan seems to be the highest order of this, but it’s in mainstream society as well. South Park, if it has an over-arching plot at all, is nothing is worth it. Doesn’t matter if you’re Al Gore talking about global warming or Evangelicals winning souls for heaven, if you care about it you’re delusional, or fleecing someone, or just an ass. If you care about animal welfare rights, you’re going to grow pussies all over your body. If you want tolerance for gay people that means you want to put everyone in concentration camps and if you think that gay people shouldn’t marry that means that you’re just upset about the gay sex you’re not getting. There’s nothing as a sincere belief, and the few people who have them are shown as not having any ability to control them.

Reality television also proliferates this view. Nothing is private, nothing is worthy of respect and dignity. Love? Screw that, everyone knows it all about the sex and money (Rock of Love, Flavor of Love, Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire). Somebody gets up on stage, belts out their very best rendition of “I Will Survive”? It sucks, they should be ashamed that they ever dared to get up there, how clichéd, and jesus, look how fat she is. Intervention for drug addiction where someone honestly, rawly, and openly cries for the person that they’re losing to addiction? Let’s video tape that shit, and then autotune it.

If we go into politics, it seems like the worst meta-joke in the world. “Hope and Change” was a punchline even before Obama didn’t really deliver on them. Why should we care? Conservatives are so increasingly pandering to the “jus folks” stereotype that it’s a mockery of it becomes impossible. Any belief of what would actually make a difference seems to get shot down as not being “realistic”.

I don’t want to go so far that everything is taboo, and we hide from one another and play so close to the chest that actual expression becomes impossible. But, I think we are doing something unhealthy but not being honest with our and others emotions. Some things should be private, and not broadcast for the entertainment of the masses. Some things should be allowed to be the intense experiences they are without worrying about that everyone is going to consider them a joke, or to turn it to cynicism to distance oneself from your own feelings.

Maybe it’s time to go from sarcasm to honest anger, from dark humor to true pain. Or maybe this is something that’s been going on from the time of Oscar Wilde and George Shaw and Romanticism and sincerity will come back into vogue again.

*And apparently, legitimate news sources as well.