Monday, October 30, 2006

the past: bill can keep it

i don't know about you but when oprah had bill o'reilly on her show, i almost went blind. i mean, ok, she can have any sexual harrassing, falafel sniffing pervert whe wants on the show - but do we really have to look him seriously in the eye like *he's* the model of traditional values??

anyway, hearing everyone on that show bandy the term 'traditional values' vs. 'values that aren't traditional, never will be and will destroy life as we know it' (no, bill's not hysterical at all), as if these binary oppositions actually existed in a historical context, got me thinking.

while i like myth as a literary form, i've never much liked it as a structure for social behavior or law. so i went to borders yesterday and bought a stack of books i can barely afford and one of them was this:

The Way We Never Were: American Families and the Nostalgia Trap: Stephanie Coontz

traditional values, or what we assume is a common cultural 'sense' have never been so. they've never been natural things, things that just spring up like flowers. there is a Will, an Ideology, behind this world of ours. and bill doesn't want us to look at Ideology (or, rather, those hidden interests that guide these mythical 'traditional' values.) he wants us all to choose a side without even questioning the terms we're using.

no thanks.

and, besides, when was the past ever good for brown people? bill says he doesn't want to live in a world without traditional values; he'd rather live in a mythical bucolic past where everything was 'good.' but here's news - it wasn't good for everyone. what past is he talking about? is he talking about 1959? 1859? 1759? 1659? 'cause i can pretty much guarantee that life sucked hard, all the way back, if you weren't white, straight, male and rich.

anyway, i bring up this book because the amazon page has a neato feature that lets you look at its bibliography which is a great source list for women's history, historiography, some social studies and some really solid feminist academic texts. read books, people! you'll learn stuff!

Sunday, October 29, 2006


while you're reading this article, you have two distinctly different reactions.

first, you'll snort with disbelieving laughter when you read things like:
Last year, Sensenbrenner became apoplectic when Democrats who wanted to hold a hearing on the Patriot Act invoked a little-known rule that required him to let them have one.
"Naturally, he scheduled it for something like 9 a.m. on a Friday when Congress wasn't in session, hoping that no one would show," recalls a Democratic staffer who attended the hearing. "But we got a pretty good turnout anyway."

Sensenbrenner kept trying to gavel the hearing to a close, but Democrats again pointed to the rules, which said they had a certain amount of time to examine their witnesses. When they refused to stop the proceedings, the chairman did something unprecedented: He simply picked up his gavel and walked out.

funny, huh? funny that our only check against authortarianism and executive excess, our congress, doesn't even respect the rules of our democracy.

then, after you're done choking on your disbelieving laughter, you'll start to get angry. very very angry. who do these people think they are??
It is clear that the same Congress that put a drooling child-chaser like Mark Foley in charge of a House caucus on child exploitation also named Cunningham, a man who can barely write his own name in the ground with a stick, to a similarly appropriate position. Ladies and gentlemen, we give you the former chairman of the House Subcommittee on Human Intelligence Analysis and Counterintelligence:
"As truth will come out and you will find out how liablest [sic] you have & will be. Not once did you list the positives. Education Man of the funding, jobs, Hiway [sic] funding, border security, Megans law my bill, Tuna Dolfin [sic] my bill...and every time you wanted an expert on the wars who did you call. No Marcus you write About how I died."
How liablest you have & will be? What the fuck does that even mean? This guy sat on the Appropriations Committee for years -- no wonder Congress couldn't pass any spending bills!

then, you'll feel a great big heave of disgust.
disgust at our pork-laden public officials, disgust at the ruins of our congress, disgust at our president for enabling these turdy, ignorant psychopaths and, especially, disgust at our craven mainstream media who can't seem to muster any muckraking instinct if their over-bloated lives depended on it. what the hell ever happened to 'the public's right to know'?!

it's a long article but it's worth every single pukey detail.

Rolling Stone : COVER STORY: Time to Go! Inside the Worst Congress Ever

Friday, October 27, 2006

our reproductive battles from the eyes of the brits

from the guardian article:
This is America's abortion debate in its purest, most distilled form: yes or no. There is no province for doubt. Should a woman be compelled to carry a baby to term when doctors tell her it will be born with no brain? Should a pregnant woman forgo potentially life-saving medical treatment for the sake of the baby she is carrying? Should a woman be forced to give birth to a child conceived in rape? Yes, yes and yes, says Leslee Unruh, the guiding light of South Dakota's anti-abortion activists. She has devoted her life to ending abortion, driven by her own guilt at having a termination as a young woman.

when i started teaching, my pedagogy instructors always said, 'if you want discussion, avoid questions that can only elicit a yes/no answer.' so i'd like to rewrite those questions the guardian says our ongoing reproductive health battles prompt:

What are the ethics of forcing a mother to forgo potentially life-saving medical treatment for the sake of the baby she's carrying?
Why should a woman be forced to give birth to a child conceived in rape?
Why should a woman carry to term a baby who won't have a brain?

of course unruh will say yes to easy 'yes/no' questions (so would we on the pro-choice side). but wouldn't it be interesting to hear her answers to the above questions? wouldn't those questions also enrich the discussions on the pro-choice side?

i think so.

America's abortion battlefield | The Guardian | Guardian Unlimited

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

if we're so empowered, why don't we vote?

do you want to do something for these upcoming mid term elections?
are you looking for a way to contribute?
do you live in the suburbs of chicago?

then click here.

the ywca metropolitan chicago and citizen action illinois are working together to try and make sure as many single women as possible, in the north and northwest suburbs, make it to the voting booth on nov 7.

why single women? because we have one of the lowest voter rates around. 20 million registered single women in the 2004 elections could have made a significant difference - but they never made it into the voting booth. we need to change that.

if you live in the surrounding glen ellyn area, any time will do - 90 minutes, 1 hour, 2 hours.

(and, yeah, i'm not exactly a disinterested party here.)

Monday, October 23, 2006

moving on

it's never good to stay in one place for too long.

you begin to go over the same ground, the same complaints, the same scenery. the environment loses its sharp color and your brain begins to fuzz down until all the sharp little questions start sounding the same.

and that's what has happened with me and my blogs. i've had them for 4-5 years now and it's time for a change. the sharp little questions i had when i started them are still there: how does a modern woman navigate being a feminist christian, how does a progressive woman of color interact with her world while not hiding from it? will i ever find a progressive guy who doesn't hate the idea of church and who won't annoy the crap out of me? where is my perfect black pair of pants? and if the christian conservative wants to mold the world in their image so much, why not just do what the amish folk do and live on a farm somewhere where they can create their world to their heart's content?

so i still have these questions but is this the right way? is ChurchGal the right way for me to explore and convey what it's like for a woman like me and even provide a space for other women like me?

i read an excerpt from barak obama's new book, The Audacity of Hope, while in the bathroom this morning. he briefly described the defensiveness he felt while battling the kooky alan keyes. (i call him kooky, not obama.) and i know what he's talking about. he defends a pro-choice position, he defends the civil rights of gays and keyes says he's not a Believer. is that what our intellectual exchange has come to? 'you don't believe the exact thing i believe so you don't have faith. you express your struggles so you don't have faith. you've admitted you've had sex, so you're a whore and don't have faith.'

it makes me want to give every self-righteous person who passes by a great big 'fuck you' finger. but that's not the right response either.

i don't want to indulge in these little playground smackdowns anymore. they're tiresome and beneath a good many of us. so what's the new ground i want to explore? where should i go next with ChurchGal?

i don't know.
but it has to be forward.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

blurred lines: church/state articles in nytimes

this is the first article in the series about the eroding lines between church and state - and how it benefits some faith-based organizations across all denominations.

As Exemptions Grow, Religion Outweighs Regulation - New York Times

and this is the second article, about employee's rights while working for religious organizations.

(i'm in the middle of monstrous fundraising at National Non Profit, so this is about as analytical as i'll get this week.)

Saturday, October 07, 2006

crimes against girls

it's only recently that the shooting crimes in colorado and pennsylvania are beginning to be seen through the lens of gender.

while these crimes fall, indeed, into the genre of 'school shootings' these two particular events are also crimes of assault against girls and, in the colorado case, sexual assault against girls. (because of the tubes of lubricant he carried, the man who shot the girls in pennsylvania also intended some kind of sexual assault against his victims, but probably ran out of time before he could commit it.)

now, there will be people who will try to mitigate these criminals by saying that they were either mentally disturbed or already had a history of child predation - that it's too extreme to call this crimes against girls.

but that's what i call it. i call it misogyny taken to its extreme. some have even gone further than that to call it 'male terrorism.' i won't be distracted by arguments over rhetoric. but what that rhetoric describes is hateful, disgusting and should be called what it is: hatred against women.

here's a lengthy excerpt from a post i ran across today, The Ugliest Men in America:
These kinds of crimes are rare, of course, even if the rapid succession in which these events happens suggests a sort of epidemic. Most people will never have to face people like these. However, I believe that the attitudes and pathologies that underlie such incredible viciousness are widely dispersed throughout our culture. These assaults are, in many ways, the acute manifestation of two chronic, interlinked social problems: misogyny and male inadequacy.

First, allow me to explain what I mean by misogyny. I’m not talking about sexism, which is the belief that the essential characteristics of one particular sex render it superior or inferior to the other in some regard, but instead about a related, but altogether more malevolent phenomenon. A misogynist doesn’t just believe that women are inferior to men, he believes that they are dangerous, hateful, sinister, wicked, inhuman and frightening. Women, to the misogynist, are necessary and desired objects that have to be controlled, whether by manipulation, by threat, or by outright violence. People disagree on what provokes this awful mindset in certain men, but I tend to believe that it’s the result of upbringing and psychology, not something that’s dispersed by the media. In other words, I think men learn to be woman-haters by watching their fathers and uncles and friends hate women, I don’t think they learn it from the movies or from rap lyrics. The latter can play a supportive role in the misogynist’s development, though.

Where the main fault of our society lies, I feel, is in its failure to separate misogyny from masculinity. Machismo, as it is presently formulated, is a shameful thing, more of a peacock performance than a real ethos. Macho is pretending to be strong and independent when you’re really fearful and weak. Macho is dominating through force and winning respect through intimidation. It’s a sick parody of masculinity. Only the feeblest psyches need to hide behind violence and ruthlessness, but our culture allows for and often valorizes these vicious weaklings. A healthier society would be better able to distinguish a true man from a tantruming child, a man of honor from a worthless, domineering thug.

i'm reminded of what i wrote about the girls gone wild guy, the american soldiers who raped a 14-yr old iraqi girl and then killed her and almost all of her family, and the comment i left about the MRM movement that led to Patriarch saying he wanted to hold me down, hit me in my face and shave my head.

misogyny leading to violence against women.