Friday, March 30, 2007

100 out of 4800: what's that percentage?

Scholarship fund to help blacks go to UCLA - Los Angeles Times

african american students numbered only 100 out of last year's entering freshman class.

100 out of 4800.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Aged, Frail and Denied Care by Their Insurers - New York Times

so what's the point, you know?
if you spend all this time paying for something you'll never get, what's the frakking point?

lately, especially with news of insurance companies denying care to pregnant women because it's not profitable (which could probably expose them to accusations of gender bias, as well), stories like these have moved insurance companies (and the actuaries who create these frakked up equations) onto my list of industries that probably deserve a flaming meteorite to hit them.

Friday, March 23, 2007

last week, my Fancy Church threw a small fashion show to showcase our social service center and basically call for volunteers. it was sweet: a makeshift stage in the fellowship hall, our pastors and administrators wearing clothes that were donated to the center, thumping disco pouring from the speakers (modified slightly to reflect our churchy environs) and the smell of barbecued meatballs, cocktail wieners and banana pudding wafting from the back of the room. and half the audience smiling in their denturesand nodding underneath their gray wigs.

i leaned over to Roomie and whispered, 'this feels very british.'
she said, 'yeah. i'm having a Vicar of Dibley moment.'

some interesting things in the news lately.
so sad to hear about elizabeth edwards; i think it's rather brave of her to encourage her husband to keep on with his campaign. did anyone catch the katie couric interview? i heard it was a whopper; the reaction to it is rather interesting.

and then there's this article about the black church and gay people, which i thought was noteworthy. what stood out: attitudes toward homosexuality change once contact with gays becomes personal (through family or friends); and what one man interviewed said: 'God loves you but must correct you' or something like that.

(what does God's correction have to do with having gays in church? or preaching tolerance? seems to me that the whole 'gays must be corrected like everyone else' misses the fact that not 'everyone' gets 'corrected' the same way. so, until some straight person is told to get the hell out of dodge for being a lying philanderer, then folks should shut up about other folks needing 'correction.')

then there's this piece about the coast guard academy report whose findings showed that cadets would rather not report someone for sexual assault. considering how prevalent sexual assault is in our military academies, this should give us pause about how we're inculcating particular values in our armed forces. i wonder why we don't admit that our military academies are turning into breeding grounds for violent sociopaths. i mean, that seems to be the kind of soldier we want for our unending war against terror, isn't it? forget words like 'character' 'dignity' 'honor' or 'valor.'

but all is not lost. eric keroack, the anti-contraception 'doctor' who was appointed to oversee federal family planning programs resigned last night. yay!

Monday, March 19, 2007

women in the military: a double whammy

The Women's War - Sara Corbett - Iraq - Soldiers - Women - Abuse - New York Times

one of the goals of feminism, especially feminist historiography, is to shed light on women's untold stories and now that our country has embarked on a path of endless war, the stories of women in our military are slowly beginning to leak out. women, in some capacity, have always been part of our military machine - either as support staff, medical staff and now combat staff. but knowledge of their actual lives within the walls of the military is largely unknown - except for the stuff that's so bad it finally breaks the news.

this times magazine piece is fascinating: one, it becomes connected to the earlier article about boozed up men in the military and violence and, two, it prompts me to ask whether women belong in the military at all.

it's clear the military, despite some good lip service to the contrary after every sexual assault scandal in their training camps, academies and ranks, has no capacity to deal with the needs of military women who've been assaulted or harrassed within the military. their reporting structure is broken, their punishment structure is failed and their treatment/prevention capabilities seem to be non-existent. and all this failure and inaction, as well as the sexual assault itself, seems to be built into the very fabric of the military.

from the article:
''So you have young women joining the military who have the profile of being victimized, who don't have boundaries sometimes,'' [V.A. Palo Alto Health Care
System psychiatrist, Dr. Tina] Lee went on to say. ''And then you have a male
population that fits a perpetrator profile. They are mostly under 25, often
developmentally adolescent, and you put them together. What do you think will
happen? The men do the damage, and the women get damaged.''

i'm actually surprised to be asking myself this question of women in the military. i've always thought 'anything a man can do, a woman should be allowed to do' and service in the military certainly shouldn't be withheld from women because of cultural stereotypes of 'weakness' or 'girliness.' but what if the military is too unsafe for women? oh, not because of combat. they're trained to deal with combat situations, just like their male counterparts.

but what if it's too unsafe for women because of the danger posed by their male counterparts?
and if this is so, should women want to join the military?

(notice the particular frame for that question and the implied agency - it's not about 'belonging' in the military at all, but whether women should even choose it, given what that culture is actually like?)

Friday, March 16, 2007

in the stirrups

so a couple weeks ago i went to the doctor for my bi-annual pelvic. (although i know better, i don't go to the doctor unless something is hanging out of me, bleeding.)

anyway, there i am, in the stirrups, being palpated by my doctor and missing the old cloth robes we used to wear during these kind of examinations.

then she goes, 'Hm.'
i think, Hm is never good.
i say, 'what's wrong?'
she says, 'did you know you have fibroids?'
'uh, no.'
'well, you do. do you know what they are?' palpate. palpate.
i say, 'big tumor-y things?'
she laughs while continuing to palpate. 'yes, big tumor-y things.' she snaps off the gloves and gets ready to do the pap.
'you got 'em. i'm going to recommend you get an ultrasound just so we see how big they are.'

i just nod and i can't help but think, wow, i no longer have to justify being childless. i have fibroids! huzzah!*

god works in mysterious ways, doesn't He?

*for folks out there who may be befuddled at my logic re: infertility: fibroids keep growing back so i'd either have to get them lasered out all the time, take constant medication all the time, or get a hysterectomy. it's an inevitability. goodbye uterus.*

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

boozed up & defending freedom

For U.S. Troops at War, Liquor Is Spur to Crime - New York Times

this is really interesting. the article draws a straight line between alcohol use and the more egregious (or, in the case of the rape of the iraqi girl and the murder of her and her family, the downright criminal) acts our 'boys' get into while fighting this ridiculous war we can't extricate ourselves from. i draw attention to this line because it's one that's rarely made: heavy alcohol use by men leads to violence in general (and against women, in particular.)

but do we hear that narrative in our popular culture?

no. instead we get cautionary tales directed at women about our drinking. (remember the AMA's Spring Break warning to college girls? or the online chatter about the girl who was abducted on a school trip to mexico?) having been in the position once or twice to have made bad decisions while under the influence (hello, ex-whatever), i'm not saying that all decisions made while tanked are healthy but let's place agency where it really belongs, you know?

(and to make it a personal thing, which is my prerogative because it's my personal blog and which proves nothing, but only provides a context for my thinking:
a friend of mine, on new year's eve, was assaulted in her sleep by the person she let crash on her couch because it was too late for him to drive home. his bullshit excuse the next day, when she confronted him? 'I get horny when I'm drunk.' frakking asshole.)

anyway, it's an interesting article that should prompt more discussion about how we acculturate our MEN but it probably won't.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

hey, pitches!

a pitch call from my fave mag waay up north. i'm not twinkly or sparkly enough for this one but if there are any budding poets, artists and/or faery folk who are interested please see below:


The re-enchantment of the world

We need personal, social and political liberation from malaise and mediocrity.

A new way of seeing can provide the seeds of change. An eye for the sacred in each moment, the animation in the trees, the spirit in the wind, the eternal reflected in ancient scriptures and back-lane scrawl.

We want to describe the world behind that twinkle or sparkle, that gleam or glow that emanates from some stalwarts of social change.

We see this revolutionary enchantment in Buddhist teachers like Joanna Macy, poets like Mary Oliver and authors like David C. Korten as he describes the transformation from Empire to Earth Community. It's also the vision that drives youth pastors to shun exotic overseas mission trips and make greater trips closer to home. To see the love and life in what they formerly called inner-city squalor.

This is a call for seers, poets and cultural healers to guide us along this Way.

We are looking for investigative reports, arguments, poems, art and reflections documenting how an enchanted world-view is the fuel for social change. Show us how an enchanted worldview undermines consumer culture and inspires social change.

(Or, if you think this is bogus hocus-pocus, show us the error of our ways.)

Tone and flavor
Think deeply, write lightly. Explore the deepest questions, but go easy on the earnesty. Geez does not assume a religious audience, so cut the religio-jargon, and only send a piece if your sharpest unchurched friend gives it the go-ahead.

Due date
Send pitches (your idea and how you will develop it) by March 21, 2007. If you already have a completed manuscript, poem, photo or design feel free to submit it as well. Unfortunately we are not able to respond to every pitch. If you do not hear back from us within 6 weeks, assume we were not able to use your idea or article.

Send to
Geez, Issue 6
264 Home St
Winnipeg MB, R3G 1X3

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

ok, i really like obama.

AlterNet: MediaCulture: Obama's Identity: Where Do We Start

a really great article from patricia williams about our public discourse on race in the figure of obama. (and check out the comment thread; it seems williams' piece was too beond most of everyone's ken. they talk about everything except what the article is about. and this is supposed to be a progressive thread!)

Monday, March 05, 2007

vomit vomit vomit: the pussycat dolls are feminist??

Pussycat Dolls Present: The Search for the Next Doll - TV - New York Times

jeebus save me from totally ignorant hollywood folks who wouldn't know feminism if it bit them in the gonads:

When one reporter said his 17-year-old daughter looked at the group and their antics as a giant step backward for women, the Pussycat Dolls’ founder, Robin Antin, became defensive, invoking female role models who follow the Dolls.

“There’s a reason why people like Scarlett Johansson, Gwen Stefani, Cameron Diaz have all been so interested in what Pussycat Dolls is all about,” she said. “They feel that it is empowering to get up there and dress up like a Doll. It’s fun, and it’s something that every girl in the world — she may think one thing, but I think inside every girl in the world wants to do it.”

yeah, because scarlett, gwen and cameron are EXACTLY what feminism is about.

and in other news, how about a totally worthless discussion of 'hooking up' over at the today show? (incidentally, the women they showed for the story are all in their early 20s. so much for 'teenagers'.)

and why is the story worthless?
they don't talk about boys (what, these women are having sex by themselves??)
they don't talk about what this 'hooking up' is in reaction to
they treat an adolescent context the same as an adult context
and they link it to feminisam, which it's the farthest thing away from.

just my two cents.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

they'll adjust. really.

so my sister told this story when she was visiting over the summer:

back in my undergrad days i relented, just a few times, to do some babysitting for a couple in dad's church. my sister and her boyfriend (now husband) were hanging out at our house watching movies while i 'babysat,' which entailed feeding them, then watching the clock assiduously and praying for bedtime to come. at last, bedtime. i tucked the little tykes in bed, clicked off the light and shut the door. i'd barely settled on the couch before faint wails wobbled from the bedroom down the hall.

i opened the door. 'yes?'
'it's dark!'
'it's bedtime.'
'it's dark!'
'it's bedtime.'
'leave the light on!
'your eyes will adjust!' click.

my sister and her husband laugh their asses off whenever they tell this story, always shouting the ending: 'your eyes will adjust!'

anyway. co-sleeping. excuse me while i roll my eyes.

Sleeping-Co-Sleeping-Children - New York Times