Wednesday, January 31, 2007

who cares if you're a racist? you're stupid.

here is a post from Alas, A Blog commenting about a really ill-thought racially themed party at Clemson on Martin Luther King Day.

not only does the general ignorance of college kids stun me, their whole misunderstanding of satire (which just re-emphasizes they weren't paying that much attention in their english classes in the first place) frustrates me.

we've seen this excuse before. michael richards had his defenders who said his n-word laden rant was perhaps a misfired attempt to satirize ... something (it's unclear what exactly he would be satirizing); chuck knipp's drag character, Shirly Q. Liquor, is supposed to be (in his words) a satirical look at racism; the hipsters in brooklyn with their Kill Whitey club nights think they're satirizing 'ghetto culture'; and now, every frat boy/sorority girl, college or law school student who wants to wear a sombrero, put on blackface, speak in ebonics or 'run for the border' thinks they're engaging in satire.

but what they forget, or perhaps never knew or understood, is that satire is a punch in the eye of Power. satire's anger, it's needle, is directed upward - never downward. if it does, then it ceases to be satire and it's just another way for those in power to bully the powerless or to scream to the public that you're just another tool of the status quo.

so, for all you dumbass college kids and misinformed adults out there, this is satire:

it is a precise literary term (which means you have to have some measure of intellectual weight to pull it off)
it has a very specific target (i.e., a person or group of people, an idea or attitude, an institution or a social practice)
in satire, your target is held up to merciless ridicule that is often very angry, ideally in the hope of shaming your target into reform (again, critical faculties are necessary as well as a recognition of power and how it operates in society)
it has a strong vein of irony or sarcasm (parody, burlesque, exaggeration and double entendre are all devices frequently used in satirical speech and writing - again, pointing to intellectual rigor in the person who calls herself a satirist)
finally, it is strictly a misuse of the word to describe as "satire" works without an ironic (or sarcastic) undercurrent of mock-approval, criticism and an element at least of anger.

how does a privileged white boy in blackface poke fun or criticize or throw into instability the codes of racism or our racist history? how does a white girl in a do' rag holding a forty problematize the ways that race, sexuality and racial images are reproduced and disseminted in this country?

it doesn't. because all you have is a white girl in a do' rag holding a forty.

here endeth the lesson.

[and photo credit goes to The Smoking Gun]

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

the wonder years: remember sassy?

instead of the standard piece about the best way to give oral (for that, you have to check out Sex Tips for Straight Women from a Gay Man) nerve has an excellent love letter to the magazine that made me the hopelessly feminist, bitchy woman that i am today: - Cute Band Alert by Kara Jesella and Marisa Meltzer.

it was sad when Sassy went away. perhaps i was outside its demographic (when it ended, i was just beginning grad school) but i'd like to think my extended virginity lent me an adolescent glow for a realllly long time.

(um, i'm killing time waiting for my gay dinner date. clearly, i have nothing important to say.)

Thursday, January 25, 2007

they shoot horses, don't they? well, duh!

i was at the planned parenthood gala/fundraiser tonight. i worked a little late so i missed half the cocktail hour and i've resolved that, next year, i am not going alone. it was totally boring without someone to dish with and get secretly smashed.

however, todd stroger, our new county board president, was there. he's really short. (i will ignore the fact that he looks like a guy i dated in my dad's church.) and his handwritten nametag gave him a forlorn, paddington bear kind of air. poor thing. (everyone called him Urkel behind his back.) but, hey, why should i feel sorry for him? there he is, in a feminist organization's annual gala, rubbing elbows with other politicos (like gov. rod blagojevich, jan schakowsky and carol ronen). he's made in the shade. but he's also the guy who's proposing to get rid of the women's justice services dept in the sherrif's dept (meanwhile, men's services stay intact.) i wonder if he felt the irony. i know i did. i wonder if anyone approached him to ask him about it. probably not.

then i hung out in the bar to drink a glass of jameson's and overheard some staffers complain that the big donors got tables while the frontline staff didn't; she railed on about the hyprocrisy and i hid a smile. i've heard this complaint before, from folks in my own organization, and i have to admit to a certain lack of patience with the complaint. it's petty and painfully childish.

in a perfect world, organizations that provide crucial social and human services would be fueled by all the good feelings it produces in the world. butterflies would bring me coffee and birds would read my email; then, a blue fairy would hit me with her wand and i'd suddenly become a real boy.

but, alas, we live in the world of cold, hard cash. the money that staffer is so quick to scoff at actually means something to the organization. it's a fucking line item in the budget - a line item that needs to exist if the organization is going to keep functioning.

fundraisers aren't about recognizing the hard work of front line staff; unfortunate, but true. they're about the story we tell donors so we can get our hands on their money. they're marginally about the work we do. what they're really about is telling a great story of our organization to the donor so the donor can feel good about parting with hefty sums of cash. it's an intricate dance of seduction - and, if you've done the job well, you will celebrate and feel a little icky that you've just spent one night whoring yourself out for nearly $1 million. (hence all the folks who shook hands with todd stroger with gritted teeth.)

yes. $1 million dollars. what would you do for $1 million, knowing that it pays for programs, overhead, education, advocacy capacity, and direct service? can those of us in the nonprofit arena afford to be so frakking naive about how our organizations operate and what our money is used for? with the increasing strictures of govt funding and private sources of funding becoming even more important, i think not.

(this is also what i think about my church's huge annual fundraiser; it's glitzy, obscenely rich and raises scads of cash for our social service center. a center that doesn't bring in PROFIT but needs to spend money in order to operate. while some folks get skeeved out about a church raising this amount of cash in this manner, i think, what else is it going to do? wait for the Budget Fairy to stop by?)

so i say this to all the true believer non-profiters out there who think the taint of cash pollutes their mission and work:
leave graduate school behind and frakking grow up a little.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

uneasy ambition

while the bears trounced the saints on sunday, i received a voicemail from my church's nominating com'tee. i'd been unanimously recommended to join the board of directors for our community outreach services entity.

i'm a little stunned. i had no idea they were considering me.

but underneath the stunned-ness is also a little bit of glee. yay! (that's a humble yay because there's a lot of work attached to this position, but it's still a yay!)

so, after thinking about how my deacon commitments would have to change or shelved outright for my third year, i accepted.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

oh, ick: when the money shot is a little

In Raw World of Sex Movies, High Definition Could Be a View Too Real - New York Times

there are so many things wrong with this article, i can't even begin to list them. but the biggest is that it assumes we should care that the porn industry (enough with the antiseptic 'adult industry' moniker) is wringing its hands because we can see all the razor burn and augmentation during the money shots. um, no.

what's fascinating and appalling about this piece is the way it accepts at face value the female sexbot ideology of the industry and turns it into a matter of business practice. while sony shies away from the porn industry and distribution the pornographers tsk and say "it is shortsighted of Sony to snub them, given how pornography helps technologies spread." well, pornography helps other things spread, as well.

remember the guy who created Girls Gone Wild? the men who, over the summer, killed those girls in two school shooting sprees (remember the amish school shooting)? i don't think it's too extreme of me to say that the female sexbot ideology that porn transmits created these men and influenced their acts. i don't think it's too far afield of me to say that porn, more than just exploiting women's bodies (and that's too simplistic an argument to make against porn because of the participation of women in the industry, i think), makes it possible for our culture to see women merely as receptacles, objects, holes and mouths and wet pink things. it dehumanizes us. it desensitizes us.

(if you've seen any porn for any length of time, you know what i mean. and, yes, i've seen porn.)

and so here's this article, taking dehumanization one step further and making it part of an industry's strategic business plan, deflecting our gaze from what porn actually IS to see it as just another circus of smoke and mirrors (like Hollywood, the article implies.)

so, thanks, new york times.
you've just given the cleanest patriarchy blow job ever.

Monday, January 22, 2007

why twisty is my hero: movie crit, 101

though i loves me some mgm musicals, i cannot help but agree with everything twisty says here about TCM. her post here is a fine example of feminist cultural criticism.

(though the awful patriarchy-loving films of TCM are a constant source of hilarity in my household. at least once a week, Roomie and i record movies about lovelorn 1950s secretaries and their alcoholic bosses.)

why people are single: two views

so there's this analysis of why the numbers of unmarried people seem to be edging upward: Why Are There So Many Single Americans? - New York Times and then there's this one, coauthored by glenn sacks.

(who's glenn sacks? well, he's no disinterested party in the cultural gender wars. you can read his work right here.)

why bring up the two?
i think the emphasis in these pieces are rather interesting: one looks at the single/married disparity as an issue of class and economics and the other sort of begins from a false conclusion (men don't measure up, and are no longer needed nor often even wanted) and then takes off from there. it's an interesting contrast, also since the Times piece also looks at the marriage rates of men (so it's not just a woman issue - this declining marriage rate also affects our gonadinal counterparts.)

from a personal point of view, it's gratifying to see that i'm not the only one in my mid-late 30s still single. (more on this later. you'll have noticed that the Boy who came back on the scene during the holidays is no longer around. it's a good story and one that could be used as a personal way to enter these two stories.)

Thursday, January 18, 2007

the secret to every successful woman: silky panties

Speaking Chic to Power - New York Times

in addition to my brown silky bikini panties, i'm also wearing a matching lacy brown bra underneath a sheer silk blouse, which is underneath a black nipped in blazer on top of a crisp pair of black boot cut trousers. on my feet, a pair of black/white plaid, kitten heel flats with a scarlet rhinestone buckle. (it seems gaudy, but you have to see these shoes - they're cute as hell.)

and what did i have to do today (nay, this week)?
plan/organize a board meeting for this morning, take minutes, manage the board members and CEO, set up/break down; juggle various presentations, senior managers, consultants, vendors, logistics, agendas, materials for a staff retreat; remain cheerful, supportive and efficient; take my knocks and step up when things didn't go as planned, much to my CEO's displeasure, and basically make sure that everything, by hell or high water, got frakking done for 150 people tomorrow (for whom i will be up at the crack of dawn again, onsite, helping the facilitation team, getting our bill paid and smoothing over whatever gaps/cracks appear over the course of one very long, arduous day.)

what do my panties have to do with that?

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

the moral budget

Let the budget games begin | Chicago Tribune

our new county board president has proposed several slashing cuts to the county budget. i happen to believe budgets are moral documents, prioritizing what a municipalities obligations to its citizens. while on the surface stroger's sweeping cuts make him look like a budget bulldog (and there is something to be said about the Trib's mention of ending the corrupt patronage cycle) there is also something to be said about the affect cutting public defenders, sheriffs, health services and women's services (or services to the poor) will have on this county.

is he shortsighted, too eager to put aside that whole nepotism thing that got him the office in the first place? or are these hard to make cuts that need to be made anyway?

Thursday, January 11, 2007

why does this make me laugh so hard?

Colleen Saidman and Rodney Yee - New York Times

do you read the wedding announcements in the times?
i do. (why i torture myself, i don't know. maybe i'm waiting for the one wedding announcement that won't make me barf.) anyway, this announcement struck me as particularly ridiculous - and it doesn't help that the bride looks like she's in drag.

and i know i vaguely promised a post on men's pain...i'm working on it! this has been a tough week: i dumped the boy, once and for all (that lasted all of a month) and work has been wretched, to say the least. plus, i have two writing deadlines coming up (one is next week for a reading i'm doing) and as a result i'm sort of frazzled.

complain complain complain. my life is good. i should relax, be thankful, and enjoy it.

but as a kind of preview of the thing i'm thinking about posting later, here's a piece from norah vincent's 'self-made man' (about her year plus spent dressed as a man, in order to access exclusively male circles and observe male behavior) which i just finished reading sunday:
"Being a guy was like that much of the time, a series of unrealistic,
limiting, infuriating and depressing expectations constantly coming over the
wire, and you just dummy trying to act on the instructions. White manhood
in America isn't the standard anymore by which women and all other minorities
are being measured and found wanting, or at least it doesn't feel that way from
the inside. It's just another set of marching orders, another stereotype
to inhabit."

there are trenchant observations throughout this book (especially the chapter on her time dating as a man). so, look for a post on this and some other thoughts i have about the MRM and the model of manhood i grew up with sometime over the weekend.

Monday, January 08, 2007

i love a man who's strategic

MPR: Ellison to be sworn in using Quran once owned by Thomas Jefferson

so remember that whole flap last month about the first muslim congressman using a koran for his swearing in photo op? (he was also the guy glen beck, aka assface, asked to prove he wasn't working against america?) you have to hand it to ellison; using thomas jefferson's copy was genius.

i'll be posting more later about a fascinating book i just finished and my thoughts on men's pain. (and i'll try to do it without any snark. i promise.)

Thursday, January 04, 2007

my uterus ate my funny!

Adam Ash: Christopher Hitchens explains why women aren't funny

have you read the hitchens piece about why women aren't funny (faithfully reproduced on adam ash's space)? it's a doozy.
shorter hitchens: women aren't funny because mommies are never funny.

that's right; for hitchens, every woman is a nagging, churchy, fecund, humorless, authority-loving, disciplinarian mommy just dying to kill the funny. in other words, vagina dentata. that toothy vijayjay inhibits everything that makes men funny - irreverence, irreligion, rebellion, and defiance. unlike men, we're too soft, too emotional, too serious, too dreamy, and too damn biological to be funny.

(however, if we're fat, dykey or jewish, we've apparently got funny to spare.)

never in my life have i laughed as hard, snorted or accidentally farted than when i'm with my girlfriends telling them the latest B- disaster or listening to what happened at so-and-so's birthday party/wedding, or reading the sharply worded, hilarious emails sent from various scattered family domiciles while we're trapped in hometowns for the holidays. (i remember one string of christmas emails from roomie, A- and J- that had me snorting and blowing wine all over my dad's laptop. 'the baby jesus blows!')

women don't like dirty or crude? hitchens, we could make you guzzle a whole bottle of Hendricks with tales of monstrous blood clots, menstrual disasters, catastrophic sexual encounters, embarassing visits to the doctor, the unfortunate thing that happened at grandma's funeral and the reason why sometimes my friends call me Puddles. there's nothing dirtier or cruder than a bunch of women hopped up on tequila, my friend. nothing. (just ask what a bridal party did to the cowboy troubadour they hired then drunkenly held captive until they finally released him, shaking and traumatized, the following day.)

women can't be funny in the face of death? too bad hitchens wasn't at my roomie's mother's funeral this past summer. the tears were expected; the guffaws halfway through my roomie's speech were a welcome surprise. it takes guts, strength and a finely tuned sensibility to get a whole church full of mourning midwesterners to give up the funny.

his tone wavers between 'admiration' of our inherent biological/moral authority over men and a smarmy castigation of it but what's most clear is that hitchens (and other men who always seem to ask these dumbass questions) has never really known cool women. or maybe it's because he only knows neurotic white women. (expose yourself to a little diversity and suddenly you have a lot of funny.) or maybe the women he knows are just too forbearing of his crotchety booziness to be very funny in the first place.

some women aren't funny. in my experience, neurotic women aren't funny - they never know how to tell a story. however, confident, self-aware women are funny. women willing to look ridiculous are funny. women willing to point out the ridiculous and the neurotic in others are funny. women who tell the truth are funny. women in touch with their anger are funny. (bitter, but funny.) oh, we're funny, alright. just depends on who's listening to us.