Thursday, April 26, 2007

the 'R' word - noticeably absent

Man Sentenced To 25 Years After Impregnating 9-Year-Old Girl - Charlotte News Story - WSOC Charlotte

i believe the word that's really appropriate here is RAPE.

but check this out:
"The judge gave him five years less than the maximum because he admitted to the crime and apologized to the girl's family."

what crime? he apologized for raping a 9 year old? or impregnating her? cuz, you know. that makes it better.

he RAPED a 9 yr. old girl repeatedly for 2 years.
why can't we call it what it is?
why are we so unwilling to see rape as the violent assault that it is?

it's not 'having sex with.'
it's not 'impregnating'.
it's rape.

there's a chicago campaign, sponsored by the Chicago Foundation for Women, that asks what it will take to stop violence against women and girls. it'll take men like this not raping 9 year old girls.

it's the last week of Sexual Assault Awareness Month and what a completely appropriate article to end the month with.

[h/t feministing]

plug plug plug

if you live in the chicago area and are looking for a great women's organization with an awesome mission and a really great history of civil and women's rights work, then make them your friend!

(no, no hidden vested interest in them at all...none!)

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

johnny get your gun: on violence, inadequacy and the crisis of masculinity

via truthout: Bob Herbert | A Volatile Young Man, Humiliation and a Gun

one topic that i've been posting about lately has been the increasingly apparent connection between male inadequacy and violence against women, girls and 'girly' Others. (see joe francis, the soldiers in iraq who killed an iraqi girl and members of her family, and the Amish schoolhouse killer; now we can also add the V-Tech shooter.) herbert makes a fine argument:

More than four decades later we still profess to be baffled at the periodic eruption of murderous violence in places we perceive as safe havens. We look on aghast, as if the devil himself had appeared from out of nowhere. This time it was 32 innocents slaughtered on the campus of Virginia Tech. How could it have happened? We behave as if it was all so inexplicable.

But a close look at the patterns of murderous violence in the U.S. reveals some remarkable consistencies, wherever the individual atrocities may have occurred. In case after case, decade after decade, the killers have been shown to be young men riddled with shame and humiliation, often bitterly misogynistic and homophobic, who have decided that the way to assert their faltering sense of manhood and get the respect they have been denied is to go out and shoot somebody.

Dr. James Gilligan, who has spent many years studying violence as a prison psychiatrist in Massachusetts, and as a professor at Harvard and now at N.Y.U., believes that some debilitating combination of misogyny and homophobia is a "central component" in much, if not most, of the worst forms of violence in this country.

"What I've concluded from decades of working with murderers and rapists and every kind of violent criminal," he said, "is that an underlying factor that is virtually always present to one degree or another is a feeling that one has to prove one's manhood, and that the way to do that, to gain the respect that has been lost, is to commit a violent act."

it makes me think about the imus firing, the conversations about racist and misogynist language in popular culture, the movies of quentin tarantino/robert rodriquez (and the Rapist No. 1 action figure that makes me go 'gick') and how all of these things are connected.

and once i'm home, i'll write more about it.

Friday, April 20, 2007

in addition to taxes, the virginia tech shootings, sexual assault month, equal pay day and alberto gonzales on the hot seat, there was the whole supreme court thing banning an abortion procedure with no exception made for the health of the mother.

and, as i predicted years ago, the inch by inch fight to control women's bodies wages on and the prospect that we will have to battle for a long time to maintain autonomous decision making about our own bodies looms larger. (could that sentence BE more convoluted?)

in other words, they're going to wage this fight procedure by procedure, week number by week number, until there's no margin at all and accessible abortions disappear.

so, in the eventuality that this 'abortion' fight becomes even more of an overall 'reproductive rights' fight, what do we really want?

i want over the counter access to Plan B for all girls/women - and i want the experience to be interference-free.
i want all forms of contraception to be covered by my effing health insurance.
i want comprehensive sex education in our schools and universities (you'd be appalled at what college students don't know.)
i want comprehensive pre-post natal healthcare to become an issue for our public officials.
and i want 'choice' advocates to change their message: it's not about choice. it's about comprehensive reproductive health care provision for women. it's about being able to have the best situation to have kids and the best situation not to have kids.

what's so freaking hard about that, people?

New Push Likely for Restrictions Over Abortions - New York Times

[and here is a link to Cecily, a mommy blogger who has a great post about what this ruling means in real life terms, as in, to women like her.]

plug plug plug: She Speaks Volumes

it's Sexual Assault Awareness Month and She Speaks Volumes is one of the events happening in the city. the event last year was awesome and this one looks to be just as good:

She Speaks Volumes Poetry Poetry Slam & Panel Discussion

Presented in collaboration with Institute for the Study of Women and Gender in the Arts and Media, Columbia College, Chicago

The She Speaks Volumes poetry slam and panel discussion fuse art and activism to impact social change. In recognition of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, the event gives voice to the silence surrounding this issue. The event uses music and the arts to encourage young people to speak out against sexual violence and become activists for change in their local communities.

Featured artists, Diva Diction, are three powerful female poets both on page and on stage. Bassey descends from Nigeria, Amalia Ortiz from Mexico and Ishle Park from Korea. Their unique native roots may have originated from different countries but their cultured personalities blend powerfully together. All three women have competed in the National Poetry Slam and have been featured on Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry on HBO.

Special tribute will be paid to three outstanding women who demonstrate a commitment to anti-violence and social justice: Mary Jo Barrett, Executive Director and Co-Founder, Center for Contextual Change; C.C. Carter, Artist and Founder, Pow-Wow Inc.; and Kathy Kempke, Coordinator of Prevention Education, YWCA West Suburban Center.

When: April 26, 2007

Where: HotHouse
31 E. Balbo
Chicago, IL 60605
Doors open at 5:30 p.m.

Volunteer: For volunteer opportunities, contact us at

Tickets: Tickets for the event are $15. Click here to purchase tickets online. For VIP pricing, contact Tanisha Pleasant at 312.762.2743.

Contact: Tanisha Pleasant at 312.762.2743 or

Join the artists for an afternoon discussion, "Where do we draw the line? Creative Expression vs. the Perpetuation of a Rape Culture."

April 26, 2007
Columbia College
Conaway Center
1104 S. Wabash, 1st Floor
Chicago, IL 60605
12 p.m.
Free admission

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

two down: Boy Gone Wild Joe Francis Cries

oh, how sweet it is when a disgusting piece of exploiting trash gets a comeuppance.

how many more to go?

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

mr. tax man

so i'm in the process of making sure i render unto caesar exactly what i ought and find myself on the phone with a federal tax guy because of a scary letter i got in the mail last week.

'so...apparently, i under-reported my income for 2003? i swear, i filed electronically and i thought it took all three of my W2s!'
'ms. Ding...'

'really! i don't know what happened. maybe it timed out, maybe i just misunderstood - but i have all the W2s! i can refile! i'll do whatever - i just can't afford this back tax'll kill me.'
'ms. Ding...'

'and i don't know what happened with my other tax refunds, you know? for tax year 2003, 2004, 2005. i mean, did you guys take them, all of them? are you about to garnish my wages? am i in trouble? i SWEAR i'll send you all the supporting documents - and they took taxes out! i'm not trying to get away with anything!'

have i mentioned i'm having this conversation while i'm at work? everyone can hear my panic.

meanwhile, tax guy is either laughing at me or choking. 'ms. Ding, you're fine. yes, we took your refunds and applied them to your tax debt. but now you're square. you don't owe us anything. we owe you nothing. we're square.'

'are you serious? really? like, nothing?'
tax guy doesn't say anything for a while. 'like, nothing.'

'jeebus, thank goodness. you have no idea how happy you've just made me.'
'i don't believe you but i'll take your word for it.'
'so...the return i just filed now. i'll get that refund, right?'
tax guy sighs. 'yes.'
'thank you, ID number 0657398. i appreciate all your help. really.'
'my pleasure, ms. Ding.'

my motto: when under severe threat by the IRS, playing dumb and panicky is a perfectly acceptable survival method.

Monday, April 16, 2007

bringing it home: twisty on patriarchy

"Do you guys get, I mean actually get, that our society is a patriarchy? Patriarchy isn’t just a gimmick for a blog. It really exists. There are actual implications. Do you get that a patriarchy is predicated on exploitation and victimization? It’s not a joke! It’s not an abstract concept dreamed up by some wannabe ideologue making up catch-phrases while idling away the afternoons with pitchers of margs. Exploitation and victimization is the actual set-up! A person is either an exploiter or a victim, or sometimes both, but never neither.

This means me! This means you!

This means that, until patriarchy is smashed, we ain’t got a chance.

Meanwhile, do you guys see that there is no other possible outcome, in a society based on exploitation and victimization, than for the Don Imuses and the Daily Koses of the world to shit, frequently, on members of the lower castes? Shitting on the lower castes is a privilege built into the system. When exercised with macho aplomb, it attracts advertisers. It creates prestige. It makes money. It entertains the masses."

so. at the risk of contradicting my own self, what's it going to be? is civility really a solution or just a more palatable hidey hole for the exploiters?

[and i really dig that top 'graph. you have to read the whole thing here.]

bringin' bougie back: or, do manners trump bigotry?

thanks to an old grad school friend's visit from out of town i spent the whole weekend doing pleasurable things: cooking, spending time with friends, laughing, drinking, eating, and cutting flowers to within an inch of their short lives. i had no time to spare on all things imus.

but today is different. all my doctor appointments aborted for reasons or another so now i have a rare loose afternoon to my self and i'm spending it thinking about manners. yes, manners. etiquette. the preferred way to treat one another. the 'please and thank you' moments of our lives.

manners are occupying my thoughts because it's just too hard to think and speak about race or gender. outside of academic or heavily politicized circles, regular people have no idea what i'm talking about when i say things like 'white privilege', 'race privilege,' 'internalized racism', 'misogyny,' 'minstrelsy' or 'hegemonic discourse.' they get upset when i say that patriarchy is a system, rather than a guy who sits across the bus from you. they don't want to look at power, context, our sexual or racial history or think about what it means to be implicated in cultural practice.

they just want to say bad words and get away with it because it makes them feel good. (sort of like how a child discovers the thrill of saying his first 'fuck.')

and the only way that people will get the message, especially (but not exclusively) white and black men, that saying these things (i.e., bitch, whore, nigger/nigga, nappy dug out and all the especially tart things men like to throw around their funky locker rooms or board rooms) builds up like plaque and makes all of us sick (especially those of us who are called bitch, whore, ho, nigger/nigga or nappy dug out) is to call them out on how very rude it is.

more than anything, white people understand manners, and for a long time, manners was also how the black community policed itself: whatever our actual economic status, we acted bougie. but bougie fell out of vogue once the huxtables disappeared from TV and now it seems we have to bring the bougie back. this is not without its problems; being bougie or suddenly becoming a culture of 'manners' is uneasily akin to 19th century behavior books. it concentrates on the manner of things rather than the matter, so to speak. for a feminist like me to say 'if only people weren't so rude!' - it sounds ineffective, school marmish and old fashioned.

but what else can our sexist, racist culture handle?
its proven it can't handle big, complex thoughts like sexism and racism; it has had at least a century to grapple with and discover its finer self. but it hasn't. so, like a spoiled, feces-throwing child in an episode of Super Nanny, it must be put on the naughty mat and made to face the corner and not move until it really means 'i'm sorry' and knows what it said and why it can't ever be said again.

calling for a national rebirth of civility and manners in our public discourse is infantilizing, i know. but, after all, isn't this what our parents told us whenever we got into trouble and whined about it: "if you're going to act like a child, expect to be treated like a child."

Friday, April 13, 2007

domestic friday

it's a quiet night.

roomie is off visiting her family and i'm prepping for a small dinner party tomorrow night. i've actually been chopping, mincing, grating, cubing, measuring and all sorts of culinary things. i've also decided that i need a mortar and pestle. we may have one in the kitchen but i'm too tired to go digging for it.

this is just one meal to be prepared. i honestly don't know how my mother made all those dinners for us without going completely bonkers.

my prep work is done - final errands tomorrow for wine, appetizers (hello, Trader Joe's!) and maybe a different flower arrangement. i tried to do a homemade one with mums, but it's just not fabulous enough.

speaking of food, over on my other blog, i linked to this and it's been real thought provoking.

(my number, incidentally, is 222.)

Thursday, April 12, 2007

one down.

CBS Fires Don Imus From Radio Show | Chicago Tribune

and earlier today, msnbc dumped the show.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

what the brown folks are talking about

supporters of imus have been saying that his language didn't come from himself but from the black community - basically, this is the norm within the black community.

i beg to differ. (i mean, no one black i know has used that kind of language.) but whatever. conversations about misogyny are happening in our community - and they're a lot more honest than the ones mainstream society keeps managing to avoid.

so instead of blindly appropriating the language of black sexism like irresponsible children, here's everyone's chance to actually share in our conversation:

Hip Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes—Documentary Screening & Discussion with the Director, Byron Hurt
Friday, April 27, 2007
7:00 p.m.
Ida Noyes Hall, Max Palevsky Theater
1212 East 59th Street
Chicago, Illinois
$5.00 admission

Does Hip Hop Hate Women—Panel and Discussion
Saturday, April 28, 2007 | 1:00 pm
Saturday, April 28, 2007
1:00 p.m.
International House Assembly Hall
1414 East 59th Street
Chicago, Illinois
Free & Open to the Public

still on the soapbox: imus and sexism

a little friend was kind enough to smuggle something out from behind the NYTimes Iron Curtain.

in all the kerfuffle about the Imus Incident, one thing consistently gets lost: the blatant sexism of his comments. race is the most obvious thing to get riled up about, but what about the sexism? are women still so invisible as subjects that it never crosses our minds? selena roberts below takes a look at how women are easy targets; we become the symbol of what men don't want to be: powerless, weak, less than, debilitated, unskilled.

Sports of The Times
A First-Class Response to a Second-Class Put-Down

Published: April 11, 2007

Of grace and dignity, without a single boob joke for ratings or a raunchy sidekick for on-air laughs, the women wearing Rutgers scarlet managed to capsize society’s power differential yesterday.

The meek held the microphone — or the lifeline of the potent Don Imus — as the Rutgers players used their poised voices to hold a radio cowboy accountable for losing his 10-gallon mind during an unconscionable riff last week.

That was when Imus departed from his usual ridicule of influential equals, whether politicians or pro athletes or celebrities, to mock the vulnerable by degrading a mostly African-American basketball team of 18-, 19- and 20-year-old women.

The Rutgers team had done nothing but excel as history students and music majors, as big sisters and determined players on an improbable joyride to the national championship game.

“Nappy-headed hos,” Imus called them.

Racism, shouted prominent black male politicians and journalists. And on the crawls across the screens of cable networks, when news of the Imus rant fomented, the word “racial” bumped into “racially charged.” Right account, if only partly.

By its lonesome, “ho” has barely registered a ripple for anyone outside Gloria Steinem’s buddy list or the Rutgers team.

“It’s more than about the Rutgers women’s basketball team,” the team’s captain, Essence Carson, said during a news conference in Piscataway, N.J., adding, “As a society, we’re trying to grow and get to the point where we don’t classify women as hos and we don’t classify African-American women as nappy-headed hos.”

Ho is the new bitch. And bitch is the old sissy. But whatever the label, women are always first to be part of the gag when sexism and misogyny are publicly sanctioned and celebrated — particularly in sports.

Shaquille O’Neal, in his Lakers days, referred to the Sacramento Kings as “Queens.”

And in this sanitized version, a top Division I football coach was once overheard telling his team after a particularly big win: tonight, you guys deserve to take whatever woman you want.

In Johnny Damon’s long-haired Boston days, a punch line used to circulate: He looks like Jesus, throws like Mary.

Last fall, a television ad for DiGiorno frozen pizza was broadcast throughout the college football season with South Carolina Coach Steve Spurrier and Washington Coach Tyrone Willingham in starring roles. They were shown participating in a news conference at which pizza was served. “If this isn’t delivery, we’ll play the entire game in dresses,” Spurrier tells Willingham.

Cut to the beefy players in sundresses and heels.

No one wants a nanny planet, but funny has to be a fair fight — even in pillow fights.

It’s not just Imus in the cross hairs for mocking the defenseless. The Toronto Blue Jays have been under scrutiny for producing a commercial promoting this baseball season.

At 6 feet 5 inches and 275 pounds, Frank Thomas is filmed whacking a small boy so hard with a pillow that the child flies off the bed and hits the floor with a thud. Thomas then breaks into a home run trot.

The Television Bureau of Canada refused to approve the spot. The Blue Jays can’t understand why. But possessing the power differential means bullying someone your own size.

With the ear of a national audience, Imus denigrated women who have revealed the courage to play a sport in its pure, fundamental form even though it is often branded inferior to the dunk style of men. The gals absorb enough put-downs as it is.

The racial twist of Imus’s derision prompted the public outrage and scared network executives out of their focus groups. Talk of race ultimately gave the Rutgers women a platform, but a dialogue on vanquishing sexism and misogyny ribboned their message as they spoke from a dais yesterday.

“It is all women athletes,” Rutgers Coach C. Vivian Stringer said. “It is all women. Have we lost the sense of our own moral fiber? Has society decayed to the point that we forgive and forget because, you know what, it was just a slip of the tongue?”

With everyone’s attention, would Rutgers scream for justice? Instead the players eloquently described their tales of personal pain and their disillusionment with the networks. As the sophomore forward Heather Zurich said, “Our moment was taken away, our moment to celebrate our success, our moment to realize how far we’d come on and off the court as young women; we were stripped of this moment by a degrading comment made by Mr. Imus.”

With the stage, would they demand Imus be fired? They would not play shock jock, but calmly asked for time to meet with him, time to reflect.

“Right now, I can’t really say if we have come to a conclusion on whether we will accept the apology,” the junior guard Matee Ajavon said.

Ajavon and her teammates could have cracked Imus over his cowboy hat with the microphone in their hands. They had the outlet to mock him if they had chosen to attack him just as personally as he had them.

Rutgers wasn’t out for revenge, though. Carson said the team did not want to be looked at “as if we’re attacking a major broadcasting figure.

“We’re attacking an issue we know isn’t right,” she said.

Somewhere, Imus was listening. He, like everyone, had to hear the women out. This wasn’t his studio or his sidekicks. The Rutgers women ran the show without abusing the privilege. Very ladylike of them.


Tuesday, April 10, 2007

imus action

so, if you're not as cynical as i am and want to lodge a righteous complaint against the radio station, CBS and MSNBC you can go here - thanks to the women at the National YWCA, we have a handy dandy letter just itching to burn through some PR flak's inbox.


i talked to my dad briefly yesterday.
he sort of chuckled and said, 'i read your blog today and, man, you're really mad.'

and i guess i am. the heart of my anger seems to be our society's crass hypocrisy. we say we're a nation of 'values', but are we really? i don't think so. we already know there's a huge 'values' divide on the so-called Big issues like gay marriage and abortion; somehow, our 'values' have been defined by the position one takes on these two things. but i think our values are often defined by the smaller things - by our daily conversation and acts.

when are we, as a group of people, going to assert that at the very least, being a bigot - or talking like one - is ugly and distasteful. like, what if your kid called another kid a 'nappy headed ho'? wouldn't you, as a parent, be mortified and angered that your child lacked all social skills? so if we'd punish our child for being so mean and bullying, why don't we, as a social group, punish those who create the worst in our society?

we punish murderers, predators and thieves. why can't we punish a bigot? no, not by prison but by social isolation and derision. why can't we say we cannot tolerate that?

i keep thinking about that book, The No Assholes Rule. if a racist, misogynist, homphobic asshole threatens civility and civil behavior, get rid of them. fire them,if you will, for the good of the rest of us.

don't you think?

Monday, April 09, 2007

cry me a river, don.

i woke up this morning and turned on Good Morning America and the first story i heard, while i tried to ignore my clock, was the whole 'nappy headed ho's' thing. i sleepily watched while robin exuded hurt disapproval and her co-anchor, chris, practically set himself on fire in empathetic outrage over imus' remarks and his lame apology.

as a brown girl who is seriously tired of every single story like this, i give a great big Whatever to his apology and everyone's outrage. i mean, how outraged are we, really? we're shocked and apalled that don imus spewed asshat bigotry on the air? gasp!
and as for his apology, whatever. chalk up another Tour of Sorry as he tries to cleanse himself of his PR mistake.

i don't really give a crap about imus or his remarks (as bad as they are) because, honestly, i don't expect anything more from 'mainstream society.' (read that however you wish.) my expectations have been managed downward at such an alarming rate, things like basic bigotry no longer make my blood pressure jump; i expect the larger society to behave stupidly, crassly and ignorantly. i no longer expect people to behave like civilized, rational adults. unless i have evidence to the contrary, whenever i see people like don imus open their mouths, i wait expectantly for a foot to be inserted.

The Man (and those who love The Man) can no longer stun me with his inner pig because i expect the inner pig to make an appearance, sooner rather than later. how cynical and bad is that?

i am outraged at how paltry our language for condemnation has become. i don't want to hear imus apologize for saying 'bad,' 'insensitive,' 'racially charged' things about those girls on the college basketball team; i want to hear him apologize for being an asshole. i want to hear him apologize for shitting on civility and farting in the face of our cultural discourse. i want him to go on his radio show and say, 'I'm sorry. I'm a pig.' say something that actually matters and is true.

that what repentance and confession is - it's being bald with the truth of one's failure. you don't say, 'dear God, forgive me for saying those really mean things even though i'm really a good person.' you're supposed to say, 'dear God. i'm a shithead. please forgive me even though i don't deserve it.'

on those rare occasions i meet someone who's a bigoted, misogynist or homophobic asshat, or am confronted with an unexpected asshat bigoted, misogynist or homophobic comment during a social occasion, i drop that person. immediately. they no longer exist for me. they disappear from my universe.

when are we going to start setting some rules for all the rest? why aren't we outraged over that?!

[everything bloggy you need to know about the imus kerfuffle can be found here.]

Friday, April 06, 2007

why email is great

it leaves a record- one that's just as damning as a fingerprint. love it.

Army suspends recruiter for anti-gay e-mail rants | Chicago Tribune

the article above is a little bland. the good stuff is here, in the transcript of the emails exchanged between the gay guy and the recruiter. dude. homophobic and borderline racist slurs aside, the recruiter seems to be the poster child for Unprofessional. and if the military needs more people and wants to change more than its image as a haven for assholes, they need to do something about people like this recruiter.

i just got finished reading a management book called "The No Assholes Rule" and it's basically about how organizations would thrive if they identified, isolated and eliminated assholes who make their organizations poisonous and uncivilized. (i let my CEO borrow it for her vacation.)it makes a good argument that most behaviors that expose an organization to bad press, lawsuit or poor returns would most likely be eliminated if the assholes in the organization were fired.

think of it. the military suffers from rampant accusations of sexual harassment, homophobia and sexual assault. it also suffers from poor performance, low recruitment numbers and bad PR. how much of this would disappear if they just got rid of the assholes?

it's a thought.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

holy week

and so here we are; we've just left the triumphant entrance into jerusalem and are moving inexorably toward maundy thursday then good friday then onto easter.

and, to my discredit, i've been so busy i've hardly had time to reflect on any of it.