This is just stranger than strange.
Like many standup comedians, Cathy Carlson has a signature line in her act: “You cum like a girl.” Though not as suit-and-tie quaint as Rodney Dangerfield’s “I don’t get no respect,” it’s all hers. Or at least she’d like it to be. Carlson has emblazoned her five favorite words in pink letters on tank tops, T-shirts and spanky pants, which she sells at outdoor street fairs and via her Web site (www.youcumlikeagirl.com). Several months before she started the apparel line, she attempted to register her catch phrase with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). What she got in return was a resounding NO! and a sizable porn collection on her computer hard drive, compliments of our own federal government.
Carlson discovered the unusual gift of porn one morning two months ago when she found four separate pieces of correspondence from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in her personal e-mail account. In each were literally dozens of photographs of women covered in ejaculate and no letter of explanation.
Weirdly, some people seem to think that the ickyness of Jason Fortuny's outing victims is some kind of vindication of what he did. As I've said before, scorn is not a zero-sum game; we can agree that it's dumb to send personal information to strangers and that lying to and publically humiliating people who might or might not be engaged in icky behavior is seriously wrong. (It's not like he took pains to out only the cheating guys. Even if he had, well, who made you the moral arbiter of Craigslist?)
Of course the real questions are prudential. His personal information is readily available, and he's done things to make men like this very angry while at the same time revealing that even with the benefits of synthetic testosterone he manages to look like this.
More likely to be problematic in the long run is the long arm of the internet. Googling "Jason Fortuny," which used to reveal only lame Amazon reviews of Star Trek miscellany, now tells you that he's an incredible asshole with no love for norms of confidentiality or common decency, traits which should come in handy for an IT freelancer. Well played, my boy! Well played!
(There's other inadvertently hilarious stuff on his site, including his friendship with our old flame Jacqueline Mackie Paisley Passey, Objectivist Kayaker, and his Cartmanesque search for his True Parents. I'm still hoping it's all a weird joke, but hope is fading fast. In other circumstances it would be wrong to laugh. Go wild.)
Also, this, from his comments, is funny:
And, being the mouse that I am, I'd just be sitting around picturing these guys all getting in touch with one another using the very email addresses and phone numbers I'd published behind their backs and feeling each other out about combining forces to track me down and put me in the ground.
Jason is a much braver man than I am, and I positively worship him for it. Oh, if only I had that kind of fortitude.
I wouldn't have the guts to make mortal enemies of nearly two hundred guys, knowing that many of them probably live within a city bus ride of my apartment, and that many more of them are probably not entirely above the idea of taking a bat to my skull in revenge, all for the sake of a prank the notoriety of which will probably not endure into the month of October.
But I live in a paranoid little world where I imagine that dangerous people take deadly revenge for being horribly embarrassed and humiliated, while Jason Fortuny lives in the world where sarcasm, smugness, and the adoration of a handful of LiveJournal users makes one invincible.
What a tremendous point Jason has made, a valuable lesson for all of us, that there will never be real-world consequences for humiliating pranks pulled on large muscular men. God bless you, Jason Fortuny, for lighting the way for us to a brighter and braver tomorrow on the internet.
Sitting on the couch with a friend, watching Roddick v. Youzhny, when a Sharapova teaser came on. I hadn't said a word or exercised my mind control powers.
Friend: I actually don't think she's that pretty.
Me: She's pretty.
Friend: She's definitely pretty, but I don't think she's model gorgeous.
Me: Mmm. I think she was a couple of years ago.
Friend: Maybe. She has kind of a moon face.
...a couple of minutes pass in silence...
Me: So, you think that conversation was sexist?
Friend: [Quizzical look] It's just you and me, Ogged. You worried about someone else in this room?
Me: Just asking.
...a couple of minutes pass in silence...
Friend: You think tennis players have the hottest girlfriends?
This thread at Crooked Timber got me thinking about how we all know that "conservative" doesn't really describe today's Republicans, but we haven't settled on what to call them. This seems like the kind of thing that will be unkind just by virtue of being done right. Preferably one or two words, so that we could actually use it in the way "liberals" came to be used. Someone in the thread suggested "statist reactionaries," and that's pretty good, but given how radical some Republican positions are, I'm not sure "reactionary" captures it. I'll get the ball rolling with "authoritarian expansionists."
From the Craigslist outing guy, this gem.
22. Your worst enemy?
People who refuse to believe that life's moral issues really are black & white.
Dude, people who refuse to believe that are going to be your last best hope when the crowd with the pitchforks shows up.
(I should add that forces more perniciously relativistic than I have encouraged me to note--not to excuse, but simply to ponder--that this guy's life sucks, he doesn't know who his biological father is and he has some undiagnosed physical ailment. I think this kind of excuse not-making usually gets people even more angry, so I'm happy to comply.)
Amazon has started a downloadable movie/tv purchase and rental service called Unbox. (Windows-only, I'm afraid.) With my regular Amazon account, in about five minutes from start to finish, I was able to download the player, rent V For Vendetta for 4 bucks, and start watching it. Rentals can stay on your machine for a month, but you only have 24 hours from the time you start them to finish watching them. Purchases come in various prices, and I think you can burn them to DVD, but the DVD won't play anywhere but on a computer. It's all very easy to use, and the movie looks very good, but isn't in letterbox format for some reason. Definitely worth checking out.
Have I mentioned lately how much I love A Softer World?
Via the apostropher, the story of a guy who posted a fake Craigslist ad posing as a woman looking for sex. Of course he got a lot of responses, but then he posted all of them, without removing any identifying information; so pictures, email addresses and phone numbers are all included.
Of course you're an idiot if, along with embarrassing sexual stuff, you send identifying information to a complete stranger. But posting these is really, really low. I hate to endorse litigiousness, but I hope some of these people sue and ruin him. That might have to wait until their divorces are final.
Revealed: lonelygirl15 is a Hollywood fake. The people behind it seem to think that this is a model for "next generation" marketing. Insofar as these campaigns are deceptive, I think people are going to be annoyed.
([Edited]: Apparently that's not the real SDB in the MeFi thread.)
Hey people from across the pond, what say you, is Ali G supposed to be Muslim? Suggestive of Muslims, while maintaining deniability?
What are we? We are big dummies. A little while ago, we were giving advice to some of the younguns about meeting women and this didn't even occur to us. This is why Dan Savage is a professional.
I'm a college grad who's having a tough time meeting girls. I'm above average in terms of looks (I work out) and I'm pretty smart (I went to a top school). My problem is that I'm very shy. This is probably the reason I'm not a big fan of the bar scene. Is there some way or place I can meet cute, smart girls in a more comfortable setting? Thanks.
Doing My Best
You, my friend, need a gay friend. A fun-lovin', passable male homo who wants to go out with you, get shit-faced with you, and, when he notices a girl checking you out or you checking out a girl, will push you in the girl's direction or walk up to her and ask if his cute-but-painfully-shy straight friend can buy her a drink. Women love cute-but-shy guys with gay friends.
You can return the favor by going to gay bars with your gay friend, dancing shirtless with him, and telling anyone who hits on you that you're hopelessly straight but that your gay friend here is single and awesome.
Finally, DMB, if your gay friend hooks you up with the woman you wind up marrying, he not only gets to be your best man, but he also has the option of blowing you immediately before the ceremony. The gay mafia is pretty strict about this last provision.
You know the NFL season is underway when stories like this one start showing up.
A Lions assistant coach was arrested twice in the last two weeks, charged with driving drunk in one incident and with indecent and obscene conduct in the other, the Free Press has learned. In the latter incident, a Dearborn police ticket describes the coach as "driving on public street without any clothes on. (NUDE)."
Hooray for football!
Update: Coach Cullen might have gotten away with the nude driving thing, had he not decided to go to the Wendy's drive-thru window.
Newt started kindergarten the other day, and Sally had her first day of second grade; they both seem to be enjoying it all right, although Newt's having a little trouble with the concept that the other 21 kids get to talk sometimes too.
Half-Changed World has a first-day-of-school post up with some thoughts on this book: Debunking The Middle-Class Myth: Why Diverse Schools Are Good For All Students.
This is an issue that strikes me as a huge deal. Parents who have the resources to control their children's education feel incredibly pressured to do absolutely everything they can to make sure that they're in the best possible schools, and that seems to usually mean moving somewhere where the public schools are guaranteed not to have any poor people in them, or going to private schools. It's a wildly powerful force that keeps the middle class afraid, and over-extended, and alienated from anyone poorer than they are, and it deprives working-class or poorer kids of the social capital they'd get from being educated with the middle and upper-middle class.
Now, some schools with a poorer student body are objectively worse, but they're worse largely because of the middle-class flight. And the degree to which they're worse seems to me to be wildly exaggerated -- the inner-city immigrant neighborhood school I send my kids to is great. If I could make one public policy change by waving a magic wand, it would be to make every public school in the US equally capable of delivering a good quality education, and more importantly, to convince middle class parents that that was the case. Sally had too many preschool friends whose parents moved to the suburbs for the schools -- it doesn't have to be this way.
Here's a fascinating story from the Times about a sort of safe house for '60s transvestites:
By day, they were the men in the gray flannel suits, but on the weekends, they were Felicity, Cynthia, Gail, Sandy, Fiona, Virginia and Susanna. It was the dawn of the 1960’s, yet they wore their late 50’s fashions with awkward pride: the white gloves, the demure dresses and low heels, the stiff wigs. Many were married with children, or soon would be. In those pre-Judith Butler, pre-Phil Donahue days, when gender was more tightly tethered to biology, these men’s “gender migrations,” or “gender dysphoria,” as the sociologists began to call cross-dressing, might cost them their marriages, their jobs, their freedom.
And so they kept their feminine selves hidden, except for weekends at Casa Susanna, a slightly run-down bungalow camp in Hunter, N.Y., that was the only place where they could feel at home.
What's weird is that as soon as these guys put on the dresses and makeup, they become totally illogical. Anyway, it's an interesting article.
With the legal age in Australia only 18, my parents have agreed to let the older of my two younger brothers drink on our trip. I have been given the honor of taking him out for his first beer. I was trying to recall my first beer but I can't - all of the "first" drinking experiences I remember involve mixed drinks.
The first time I drank alcohol was my senior year in high school at a New Year's Eve party and it was a bit of a disaster. I drank some punch that, unknown to me, contained orange juice (to which I am allergic) and spent the rest of the night throwing up in one of the bathrooms, trying to explain to people that it wasn't because I was drunk. (I do not believe I have ever thrown up from intoxication.)
The first alcoholic beverage I kept down was later that year when I was visiting my future university as a prospective student. My mother and I went out to a jazz club where she bought me a couple of vodka collins and some weird guy hit on her all night.
I'm sure my first beer must have been consumed sitting around someone's dorm room and I'd bet it was a Heineken because that's what the guys in my dorm drank since they had no taste.
What was your first drink?
(And, yes, I'm on hiatus. I'm just continuing the long Unfogged tradition of announcing a hiatus and then continuing to post.)
Megan had her handwriting analyzed, and of course it was all true, except for the parts that were untrue. I've never had mine analyzed, but a co-worker who thought herself something of an expert in these matters once saw something I'd written and said, "Wow, ogged, you must be really smart."
That "must be," from someone I'd been working with for months, told the story.
One of the things I love about True Hoop is Henry Abbott's knack for finding things on YouTube that I love to watch, but would never think to look for. Arvydas Sabonis highlights? Genius. Abbott writes,
I've always said: when they get the cloning thing down, I'll start my own nation with 12 young Saboni, and we'll win Olympic gold every four years.
I think this might be right. A powerfully-built, agile 7'3" guy with great touch and shamanesque passing skills? That's the kind of player you get when you find the cheat codes to your video game, not in real life.
Turns out she was the head of the CIA's operations group of the Joint Task Force on Iraq -- essentially, the person in charge of evaluating evidence of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.
Come the spring of 2001, she was in the CPD's modest Iraq branch. But that summer--before 9/11--word came down from the brass: We're ramping up on Iraq. Her unit was expanded and renamed the Joint Task Force on Iraq. Within months of 9/11, the JTFI grew to fifty or so employees. Valerie Wilson was placed in charge of its operations group.
There was great pressure on the JTFI to deliver. Its primary target was Iraqi scientists. JTFI officers, under Wilson's supervision, tracked down relatives, students and associates of Iraqi scientists--in America and abroad--looking for potential sources. They encouraged Iraqi émigrés to visit Iraq and put questions to relatives of interest to the CIA. The JTFI was also handling walk-ins around the world. Increasingly, Iraqi defectors were showing up at Western embassies claiming they had information on Saddam's WMDs. JTFI officers traveled throughout the world to debrief them. Often it would take a JTFI officer only a few minutes to conclude someone was pulling a con. Yet every lead had to be checked.
"We knew nothing about what was going on in Iraq," a CIA official recalled. "We were way behind the eight ball. We had to look under every rock." Wilson, too, occasionally flew overseas to monitor operations. She also went to Jordan to work with Jordanian intelligence officials who had intercepted a shipment of aluminum tubes heading to Iraq that CIA analysts were claiming--wrongly--were for a nuclear weapons program. (The analysts rolled over the government's top nuclear experts, who had concluded the tubes were not destined for a nuclear program.)
The JTFI found nothing. The few scientists it managed to reach insisted Saddam had no WMD programs. Task force officers sent reports detailing the denials into the CIA bureaucracy. The defectors were duds--fabricators and embellishers. (JTFI officials came to suspect that some had been sent their way by Ahmad Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress, an exile group that desired a US invasion of Iraq.) The results were frustrating for the officers. Were they not doing their job well enough--or did Saddam not have an arsenal of unconventional weapons? Valerie Wilson and other JTFI officers were almost too overwhelmed to consider the possibility that their small number of operations was, in a way, coming up with the correct answer: There was no intelligence to find on Saddam's WMDs because the weapons did not exist. Still, she and her colleagues kept looking. (She also assisted operations involving Iran and WMDs.)
Nicely convenient for the administration that her career's over, and she's seen as having a grudge. If you attack everyone in a position to point out that you were lying, then no one unbiased can ever call you on it. (via the esteemed Digby.)
Two slightly related points.
1. Guess how much Matt Drudge makes from advertising on his site every year. Don't look it up, just leave your guesses in the comments.
2. I think sometime in the past year, for the first time in my adult life, the value of my assets (my car, my 401k account, etc.) is greater than the amount of my student loans and other debts. That is to say, my net worth is finally zero.
So: As you've all already seen by now, according to Wikipedia, Drudge makes over $1 million per year from his site I thought that was astounding. It must take very, very few clicks to make advertising worthwhile, or a lot more people click than I think.
Amanda Marcotte links to an excellent letter from an evangelical Christian taking some lessons about the separation of church and state from his reaction to attending a football game at a Hawaii public school with pre-game prayers reflecting the most common religion in the area, Buddhism.
As I thought through the incident over the next few days I supposed that the duty of offering the pre-game prayer rotated through the local clergy and we just happened to arrive on the night that the responsibility fell to the Buddhist priest. However, after inquiring I learned that due to the predominance of Buddhist and Shinto adherents in this town, it was the normal practice to have a member of one these faiths offer the pre-game prayer, and Christian clergy were never included. Needless to say that was our first and last football game. Although many of the students we worked with continued to invite us to the games, we were forced to decline. We knew that if we were to attend again we would be forced to abstain from the pre-game activity. And not wanting to offend our Asiatic neighbors and colleagues, we simply refrained from attending.
The point is this. I am a professional, educated and responsible man who is strong in his faith and is quite comfortable debating the social and political issues of the day. Yet when placed in a setting where the majority culture proved hostile to my faith and beliefs, I became paralyzed with indecision and could not act decisively to defend and proclaim my own beliefs. I felt instantly ostracized and viewed myself as a foreigner in my own land.
This guy gets the point of separation of church and state exactly: when the government supports a particular religion, it excludes and ostracises adherents of different or no religion. And it can't possibly support religion generally as against irreligion: there's no such thing as religion generally. Secularists like me don't want religion eliminated from the public sphere, we just don't want any particular religion identified with civic participation, such that you can't participate fully in public without feigning religiosity. But Christians like this guy? I'd vote for him for the school board. (Well, maybe. Assuming we agreed about other issues.)
Just wanted to let you all know that I'm going to be on hiatus until the end of the month. I don't leave for my trip until Friday but I've got a lot to wrap up before I go so I'd better say goodbye early. I'll have very limited email/Internet access while I'm away, so I'm not sure how much you'll hear from me.
Talk to you in a few weeks! I'll bring you all back a wallaby!
I am a packing genius. Four glass bottles, two glass glasses, two glass jars, two ceramic items, and, over four flights, how much breakage? Why, none! On the other hand I seem to have mislaid a bar of soap, and I had to unload progressively more books into carryons ass successeive airlines decided that the maximum weight for an individual piece of baggage kept going down.
Broadly speaking, there's little to disagree with in Tia's post, and it's hardly uncongenial. It does put me in mind of my pet theory about what's behind some of the longer borderline acrimonious discussions on the site. Namely, it's not clear to anyone what kind of forum this is. There are things that are fine to say among the guys that none of us would dream of saying around our wives or girlfriends. There are discussions it would be great to have in a seminar that are totally tiresome and inappropriate at a dinner party. And there are adminissions and critiques that you'd make in your living room, but not ever on MSNBC. People say things with one conception of the site in mind, and others, who have a different conception, find what's said inappropriate or offensive. This happens with all sorts of discussions, not just those about sexism. And all that confusion is assuming that people are being understood correctly; nevermind the dozen misunderstandings that crop up in every long thread.
The easy answer is to tell people to always be "respectful" or some such, but when respectfulness goes wrong, it becomes people not saying what they really think, which makes for a really boring blog. Insofar as I've had any influence on the tone of the blog, it's been to try to make it a place where it's ok to err on the side of giving offense and hurting feelings. The problem, of course, is that sometimes hanging out here can become actively unpleasant. That price, like the lost lives of Iraqi children, seems worth it.
I'm trying not to get my hopes too high about this fall's congressional elections despite all the promising signs, because I've been disappointed so many times in the past. Better to keep my expectations low and be pleasantly surprised. Also, given the juxtaposition of the GOP's solid electoral wins in the House and their perfectly atrocious legislative record, I'm increasingly unsure just what the Democrats would need to do to convince voters to hand control back to them. However, I suspect it wouldn't hurt if the House Minority Leader would quit making the Heaven's Gate crazy face.
I saw the truth and beauty thread a little differently than Alameida did. I don't know if it was better or worse than other threads on Unfogged; maybe there was comparatively less acrimony, but I wasn’t sure there was much learning about feminism going on. But there was at least one person, TD, who wondered what could be ever be done about the problems women face in the world.
This is advice for men about how to act and how to talk about feminism if you want to be a top notch human being in this regard. In some cases I’ll refer to that thread; I don’t want to rehash it, but it does contain some examples of what not to do. Many of you already do these things, and I love you for it. In a much longer version of this post (I wrote about 10,000 words on this topic this weekend), I discuss my love and appreciation for the men in my life who are great feminist allies, and I talk about even more advanced ways to help women’s cause. Maybe I’ll talk about that more sometime later.
Before I begin in earnest, let me make utterly clear that this post is not about whether you have hot or not conversations about celebrity women. I have hot or not conversations about celebrity women. Everyone, even women, even feminist women, does sexist things some of the time. It's kind of hard to avoid. This post is about what you do when feminist women have raised their concerns.
Guidelines for avoiding actively irritating women who are discussing feminist concerns
1) Understand that if lots of women say something is important, it is. Your opinion, as a man, about the extent and nature of the problem is not valuable when the specific problem pertains to women's experience. Naturally, women, including feminist women, disagree. In fact, they disagree often. So especially on occasions when you get a basically uniform chorus saying they experience some aspect of society as harmful, and your response is that it is not important, you're wrong, and you're being a dick. If you think it might be a little important, but not quite as important as we say it is, you’re still wrong.
2) Always consider the distinction between a class and individual members of a class. If you don't care about this, and when conversations about class-based oppression you come up with examples of weaker members of the dominant class and more powerful members of the subordinate class, you look an awful lot like someone who doesn't care about justice. Michael Jordan is better off than me. This indicates precisely nothing about the importance of racism in our society. I can even come up with examples of working class people who are better off than some rich people; healthier, less mentally ill, say. This indicates nothing about the importance of class in our society.
Someone can be in a weaker position than a member of a class subordinate to him and use his dominant class membership against that person. This does not mean that an injustice is not being perpetrated against the member of the subordinate class, or that other members of the subordinate class, witnessing it, don't experience it as threat or harm. No matter how much it looks to you like someone is a "loser," if he is a member of a dominant class and using the methods of that class to hurt, threaten, or control a member of the subordinate class, it is, to some extent, effective. Even when someone I know could only dream of a sexual chance with me says to me, "Wipe the butter off your face, you fat pig. It's dripping," it still hurts me and threatens me. He is speaking with all the power of his class behind him, and on some level, maybe explicit, maybe not, he knows it. Even 15-year-old boys adopt stances characteristic of a dominant class.
3) When you tell us about the male perspective on the issue (“Men don’t intend it this way!” “Men feel weak in relation to women!”) consider that we already understand. And then consider that the reason it looks to you like the male perspective is being excluded or misunderstood is that we’re actually talking about ourselves, and the effect your actions have on us. Further, you function as part of a larger system, and your introspection about your intent doesn’t tell you much about how.
4) Try to pay attention to what's actually being said. Before you respond to something, think hard about what their actual point is and whether you understand it. If you don't understand it, ask questions. But if the urge strikes you in a conversation about women's reactions to criticisms of beautiful celebrities to say, over and over again, something like, "this conversation isn't indicative of anything about the rest of the way we treat women," consider the fact that that's totally nonresponsive, because we are talking about our response to the conversation, not our response to the rest of the way you treat women. Taking this out of the realm of sexism for a moment, I actually notice this a ton on Unfogged in all domains. Sometimes people are unclear. But other times, people come up with responses that seem explicable as nothing other than motivated misreadings. This is everyone, on all sides of every argument. It surprises me a little that this happens so much even in a print medium, where people can go back and reread what they're responding to. Try to do this less, people.
5) Do not draw up a bunch of hierarchies about which form of oppression is worse than which other. When you do this, you’re not responding to a claim that what we experience is the worst thing ever; you just show up and start talking about why what the women say they experience is not as big of a deal as X, Y, or Z. Sometimes, you make statements as absurdly wrong as
Women vs. men is a tragic inequality at a society level, but it is so dominated by all other inequalities that I can think of at any finer demographic analysis.
How shall I put this? No. In so many ways, no. Being a woman, no matter what demographic you come from, is an overwhelmingly structuring and determining aspect of your life. In some ways it functions differently depending on your demographic, and in other ways there are striking commonalities, but in no sense is it dominated by other inequalities. Being a woman magnifies the effects of all those inequalities. For example, women are more likely to be poor than men. Single parenthood is a huge cause of poverty and women, maybe you've heard, are much more likely to be single parents. If you're a woman you're also more likely to get shunted off into a low paying service industry job instead of a manufacturing job. All of these things, race, class, gender, multiply each other when they combine. They don't trump one another.
No, but judging from the experiences of my male friends versus my female friends, my smart friends versus my dumb friends, my black/hispanic friends versus my white/asian friends, and my poorer friends versus my rich friends, sexism is one of my lesser concerns. I think that class, intellect, connections and looks have much greater effects on one's prospects than gender.
This must depend on a comically narrow definition of the word "prospects"; Your gender rather affects your prospects of being raped, your prospects of being a single parent, your prospects of being sexually harassed, your prospects of having an eating disorder--oh I could go on--in ways that cannot be numerically compared to or ranked among the way these other categories affect your "prospects."
6) Don't say, "Men have problems too! Women are always doing mean things to men! [stamps foot] And we don't complain about it as much!"
Feminists love to talk about the ways men are ill-served by the current arrangement. But if you're one of the guys who Have Problems Too, you sound an awful lot like you're talking about men's problems to say, oh well, we all have something to be upset about, I guess there's not much reason to think anything's that unfair. We bring up men's problems because we want things to change. You bring them up because you're invested in the current system, and you want to tell us we don't have that much to complain about.
And when you constantly bring up that "men have problems too!" you often indicate that not only do you not understand women's experience, you don't really understand that you don't understand. You minimize what women experience by describing them in terms that don't begin to be accurate. I’m not sure whether the differences are of degree or of kind (I suspect the latter), but women’s experience is different from men’s. Unless you’re one of the men who already follow these ten simple rules for respecting feminist women, you probably don’t understand the extent to which women are conditioned to see ourselves through an abstracted male gaze or the real one that’s often present. You can’t understand how women react to male judgment solely by introspection about how you react to female judgment, or judgment of any kind. Unless you’ve reached a high plane of understanding, and if you need this post, you haven’t, your comparisons are likely to illuminate the way our culture treats women’s bodies only by contrast.
7) Don't claim that psychological harm is not important. Pretending that people with their material needs met don't have real problems is yet another way to marginalize and ignore us. If a bunch of women are describing the way the culture harms them psychologically, do not waltz in and call them self-indulgent. I don't care if later you say you recognize it's important. Your first move was to draw on a standard anti-feminist trope that women are being selfish when they talk about what's important to them.
Degradation, living with the implicit thread of violence, self-hatred, alienation from the body--all this stuff is actually bad, even when you're well-fed. Actually, I think it is pretty bad even when you're not well-fed, but I don't want to speak for groups of which I'm not a member.
8) Remember that the fact that you can construe your position as "moderate" because other people are bigger assholes than you, or because you know women who don't put much stock in this feminism malarkey, or who identify as feminist but just don't seem as upset as us about issue X, does not argue in favor of the legitimacy of your opinion. There are powerful and profound rewards in our society for women who don't call men on their bullshit. Just because there are other women out there who are not calling you on your bullshit doesn't mean it isn't there, or even that they don't see it.
This really excellent point by LizardBreath deserves further emphasis:
[ogged (referring to B)] I didn't, in fact, call you a humorless bitch, and I don't think you are, but you are more sensitive to this stuff than most of the women I know.
Or more willing to take the shit you get for bringing it up?
What's so hilariously wrong about what ogged said is that B is easily at the far right end of the tail on the graph of self-confidence about her body. For that matter I think B is better than the average woman at playing with the boys, at tolerating the way men talk about women. That she is more likely to bring up a problem does not mean she is more stung by it. I’m pretty confident that B is in fact less sensitive to this shit than most of the women ogged knows; ogged just doesn't know the women he knows as well as he thinks he knows them. (I'll hedge this slightly by saying that if ogged was including bunches of Iranian or other women not raised in America in his accounting, that might be different; I don't know body image stuff specifically is like in Iran. I could imagine that what the body looks like is not as central a concern; though of course, what you do with it is. If a remarkably high percentage of the women ogged knows are serious athletes, that also might affect his numbers. But then he doesn’t know anything like a cross section of American women.) Not everyone is feeling miserable about their body all the time, certainly. But as confident as B? Rare. Again, gentlemen, not willing to talk about it with you != not sensitive to it. Many of the women who feel the worst about their bodies are precisely the women who are the last to talk about how personally affected they all are. If I were still anorexic, I would be lying about it and hiding it, like I did then, not arguing with a bunch of entitled doofi about how yes the media and real men's interactions with it do hurt women. B and I are also both generally waaaaaaay more forthcoming about our emotions and our private life than most people. We don't think these things more; we talk about them more. The women on Unfogged you think aren't as focused on body image stuff as me or B? You are not in a position to know that. Your impressions as to how important all this is to women you know casually? Worthless. Of women you know very intimately? Not that unlikely to be mistaken unless you are really good at creating an environment where women think they'll be taken seriously, be understood, and more, if they're talking about your behavior, that there's some point to bringing it up, that something might change.
You think the woman you know don't care about issue X? There are as many reasons to not complain about sexism as a neurotic feminist cunt has armpit hairs. Maybe the women you know don't feel comfortable talking to you. Maybe they're really deeply conditioned not to complain to men about sexism, even when they have reason to believe they'd get a sympathetic audience. Maybe they think you like them because you know how to be one of the guys. Maybe they feel like it's fruitless to bring it up; that you are unlikely to understand; they'd prefer to talk about it with someone who would or not to talk about it at all. Maybe they think they will get taken more seriously if they don't admit to being "neurotic." Maybe they're being strategically silent because they've noticed generally uncomplaining women get marginally more attention when they do complain. Maybe they can't talk about it because it's too painful. Maybe they think ever bringing it up would cause you to be self-conscious, or to feel uncomfortable, or to restrict your speech, and they don't think that would be polite of them. Maybe because they’ve grown up in a world where misogyny, objectified portrayals of women, and implicit or explicit threats of violence against women are totally normalized (an example that elicited a big shrug from one man I showed it to), and they feel hurt, but think that is natural and right; it doesn’t even occur to them that they could complain. And, you know, maybe they've got some false consciousness, and they tell themselves that all those other women who have a problem with the way the world is structured are just whiners, and then they get lots of rewards from men because they're confirming what the men have suspected all along.
The longer version of this post had instances of both me and Debra Dickerson, both women you know are bothered by the way men and our culture regard women, laughing it off when in the company of men because they wanted to belong to a boys’ club. If you need further evidence that yes, this happens, I will describe them in more detail.
9) Do not expect a cookie because other people in the world are bigger assholes than you. Men on Unfogged are mostly somewhat better than average when it comes to women's concerns, and if I let it, that would make me cry myself to sleep at night. (Of course, there are not a few men on Unfogged who are really superlative human beings in this regard, to be sure.) That other people are bigger assholes does not mean you are little enough of an asshole. Do not advocate for cookies for your friends; you may not be in a position to recognize what they're doing wrong.
10) Do not use sexist or anti-feminist tropes when women are talking about feminism. I can't believe I even have to type this one out, but there it is. Do you know what's an example of a sexist trope? That women are illogical. It's especially ironic when you use this one while saying something utterly stupid. (I'll take this one out of the domain of feminism for a bit: people, an analogy is not an equivalence. Saying it is makes you sound like a moron, or worse, a Republican, since they are the ones always spluttering about moral equivalence when none is being proposed.) Further, Paris Hilton is a misogynist bugaboo these days. If you bring her up and start talking about her tits in a conversation about feminism where she hasn't previously been mentioned, you are doing some damage to your credibility as someone who gives a shit about women's concerns.
I told some people I was writing this, and a not insignificant portion of them wondered if there was a reason to bother; that the men I was addressing weren't that interested in changing. And I said that yeah, I wasn't particularly sanguine, but really I was expressing amger disguised as pedagogy, and that was my reason for writing it. Then I wrote a concluding paragraph that was decidedly, uh, vinegary, but I have since deleted it, not because I don't think every word of it was true, but because...oh, I don't even know why. Maybe just because I can't bear to say just how angry I am. I will say this: I have been raped, sexually harassed, and manipulated into an idea of my body that made me do such violence to myself that I was regularly bruised from the walls and objects I hit when I fainted. I do not have everything I could hope for from the world, or everything I have a right to. I have cause to be angry. Yes, lots of other people, most of the people in the world, have as much or more reason to be as angry as I do. I want them to be angry, and to have everything they have a right to. That doesn't diminish the force of my anger. And if you, you with all the tools to recognize oppression and abuse and call it such, and I mean really call it such, not mumble out some half-assed acknowledgement about how it's sort of bad, but not really as bad as all this other stuff, or sort of bad, but too trivial for you to consider changing your behavior, you decline to? This is the thing I can't bring myself to say. I'm too much of a nice girl.
Update: There are relevant comments on this post in this thread.
TNR has a new blog: Open University. It looks as though it might be interesting, it's got Eric Rauchway who shows up here occasionally, engaging Brad DeLong on the proper political home of moderate technocrats, and Steven Pinker, who may show up with some interesting Ev. Psych stuff to disagree with. And a cast of literally dozens of other academic types.
Wow. This is like Modern Love: Insect Edition. I can't even begin to figure out what to excerpt.
While I am much more sanguine than most libertarians about redistributing material wealth from the richer to the poorer (though by the standards of the rest of America, I am still a hard-hearted materialist lout), I cannot believe in this sort of redistribution--"cutting down the tall poppies", as I believe the Australians call it. Perhaps a little thought experiment will explain why.
Beauty, like wealth, is relative--it benefits its possessor only insofar as they are lovelier than the women, or handsomer than the men, around them. Presumably, if we disfigured all the good looking actors in Hollywood, and the models in New York, and . . . well, heck, let's slash the faces of everyone who's better looking than I am. I am younger and slimmer than the average American, and have good teeth, long thick hair, and all the other accoutrements of an upper-middle-class upbringing. So we know that this would bring happiness to far more Americans than it would distress. We dont have to turn them into quasimodo--just make them no more good looking than I am. Just think how happy America could be made if Cindy Crawford had saddlebags and a squint.
But wait! Americans could be made even happier if Cindy Crawford and her ilk had acid poured on their faces to turn them into a twisted mass of scars, and were inflated a hundred pounds or so apiece through gavage. Physical pain could be alleviated by judicious application of modern painkilling technology, providing a huge psychic boost to everyone else at only a mild psychic cost (at least according to Daniel Gilbert) to the pulchritudinous elites.
I had no idea that advocating a more progressive tax system was the moral equivalent of throwing acid in Cindy Crawford's face. Well, that's convinced me -- I'm voting Republican.
McArdle updates. She's still living in a fantasy world in which the motivation for policies that reduce inequality is to injure the rich, rather than help the poor.
Is there any activity more antisocial and hateful than snoring when one doesn't have the room to oneself? In the past four nights I have been subjected to fully four different snorers, each with his own unique timbre and technique (two of them were last night, when, in the all-too-brief periods when the guy who was actually in my room wasn't snoring, I could hear through the thin walls some dude in the next room snoring). Do people just not understand that it's rude? And of course, what can one do in reaction? It would be rude to wake the other person up (this is just a hostel, it's not as if I know these people, and anyway why should two people have to forego sleep?), so it seems that the only civilized thing is to fantasize about violently beating the offender with objects blunt and sharp. But this is ultimately fairly unsatisfying.
The worst part is that, or so I assume, the snorers don't realize that they're snoring, because they are, after all, asleep. Not only does it mean that they can try to weasel out of accepting responsibility for their actions (here they are given aid and comfort by a culture which refuses to admit that some are just bad by nature, regardless of their participation in their actions—snorers, the short, those without deep voices, etc.) but they can also turn the accusation around on their accuser: for how can I be certain that I, too, am not a snorer, not only in potentia, for such are we all, but in actu? Perhaps when I wake up at night, and think I'm thirsty, it's actually because I snored so loud that I woke myself, and I all unknowing? The "known unknown" of my own snore-status robs the joy from all my days and the peace from all my nights.
However! As I know all too well, snoring, though it hides like the unconscious from introspection, is easily observable by others, and while in my present situation the fact is unfortunate, it also ostends the opportunity to ease my troubled mind. If you would like to relieve my of my psychic remorse, and satisfy my need for self-knowledge, please get in touch (except you, Tim).
1. As great as it was to see Alamaailman Vasarat live (roughly "hyper mega awesome" according to the Revised5 Ratings Schedule), they weren't a patch on Kimmo Pohjonen's duo with Eric Echampard, because Kimmo Pohjonen is a rock star, and what's more, he looks good in a skirt. I assume that the duo's albums are good but I didn't get any owing to expense, but maybe YOU SHOULD.
2. Having now been able to compare the Lonely Planet and Let's Go guidebooks for Greece and Berlin, and having completely given up on the Helsinki section of the former company's Finland book, I think I am in a reasonably secure position to say that Lonely Planet blows goats, while, comparatively, Let's Go fucks bears.
Bonus number 3. I am looking for suggestions of pairs of songs or other pieces of music that perspicuously illustrate the difference between music to grow a beard to and music to wear a beard to. There is a prize for the person who comes up with the best: dsquared comes to your home and abuses you verbally and physically.
My neighbor got a new license plate that announces he is a Friend of Tibet. I don't get that. I understand states offering plates that fund special programs to preserve nature or support schools or are otherwise related to functions of government but not plates that express sentiments more appropriately served by a bumper sticker.
Does the DMV really need to help you tell everyone that you're a Supporter of Greyhound Adoption or a horse enthusiast? That you're animal friendly? A proud graduate of Danville Community College? That you like Jimmy Buffett?
The worst has to be the Fight Terrorism plate, if only for its truly fugly design and the fact that, unlike some of the plates that collect money for charities, the extra money for the plate doesn't actually go to fund anti-terrorism programs, making it nothing more than an empty symbol to imply that there are people out there who don't think fighting terrorism is a good idea.
For its sheer Southern weirdness, my favorite has to be the Tobacco Heritage plate.
This article claims that "the enactment of parental involvement laws significantly reduces risky sexual activity among teenage girls." Now that would be an interesting result. I don't have
SSRN access [the brains to try to download it first (it's freely available)] or know much about sound methodology, but perhaps some of you do.
Ok: I did a quick read of the paper, and if it's hackwork, it's not obvious to me. Which is not to say that it's not....
Over at her blog, ac makes a great point.
I occasionally have an eerie Brave New World feeling when discussing how women are or should be. I think many people embrace masculine traits too readily. And I often think about how the conditions of oppression produce some positives, which should not be thrown out with the patriarchal bathwater. The most important of these, to me, is the imaginative faculty, the ability to project yourself into someone else's experience. Women are understood to be better at this, if only for structural reasons. It's in their interest to understand people who are different from themselves, men, because they have more power. This double consciousness or intertextuality or whatever you want to call it arises out of something we may want to get rid of, but the quality itself is one of the great solaces of life—it is pleasant to deal with people who actually care what you think.
I tend to think of the having or not having of "double consciousness" as an Eastern / Western distinction (I'm not positive, but from what I've seen, I don't think this trait is "coded" as peculiarly feminine in Iranian culture), but that doesn't change the structural point. And, as someone who tends to go on about eliminating traits that signal "weakness," I take the point about being careful about what would be eliminated. I guess one question is how confident we are about the etiology of any particular characteristic, since we know from evolutionary psychology that it's very easy to invent "these groups behave in these ways because..." stories.
By the way, ac's blog is very good.
The discussion in comments below about being able to tell different ethnicities apart reminded me of something I have been meaning to post about: the beautiful UN of drunks that is Singapore AA. In the past (or "last time" as we say here in Singapore) it was so dominated by white people that locals called it "ang mo anonymous". Nowadays there are many more Singaporeans, mostly Indian, to supplement the spectacularly international cast of expats.
As a side note, the various ethnic communities in Singapore are (broadly speaking) divided in their addictions. Chinese people have gambling addictions and prescription drugs. Many of them apparently lack one or both of the enzymes that let them process alcohol and get so drunk even when the drink a small amount that they never really have a chance to get hooked. Indian people, as I said, go in for the booze in a big way. Malays have got the heroin, and the various substitutes. (And weed, but aside from my dad almost no one is addicted to it.) Singapore is in the process of reversing itself on a drug-substitution policy; they were using subitex (buprenorphine) to treat heroin addiction, but a big secondary market developed, and they cut everyone off with only two weeks notice. (It's no longer legal to prescribe or sell the drug). People are tripping out, needless to say, and the treatment centers are flooded with desperate people. They are only letting one alcoholic into the state-sponsored treatment centers for every ten subitex addicts until the crisis dies down. As an aside to the aside, I'm actually surprised people get so hooked on subitex, because it pretty much sucks compared to actual heroin. Now I reflect that I almost killed myself with methadone that one time that I bought from someone who had probably pretended to swallow it at a clinic and then spit it out, so anyhoo. I guess subitex was just much easier to get.
The melange of accents in our AA group really is indescribable. Indian business men, Chinese gangster types, little old English ladies, Australian bikers, laid back Californians--we've got it all. Perhaps my favorite is an old-timer with a truly ridiculous Glaswegian accent, who says "I'm no" instead of "I'm not." We've got our fair share of silky Irish brogues as well; it's always good to make them do the readings. More men than women, about three or four to one, I'd say. I think it speaks to the devastation alcohol has caused Native Americans that one has managed to wash up on these shores; there really can't be that many in the world to be one of 20 in an AA meeting in Singapore most days. If it wasn't for this whole anonymous thing I'd have some fucking hilarious stories to tell you. I've never heard people laugh so much about such incredibly depressing stuff, but it really is funny. I suppose I could give some thought to radical revisions and reassignments, or does that still violate the spirit of the thing? Irish people are straight up crazy, I can tell you that much.
KIND OF SAD UPDATE: I was listening to the Velvet Underground song Heroin today, and it ocurred to me that when I first listened to it, when I was about 15, my reaction was "fuck, that sounds great! Sign me the fuck up for some of that not-caring-about-dead-bodies-piled-up-in-mounds, because I could use some industrial strength not-caring about now! Plus, it'll be the death of me, so it's win-win!" What did you guys think when you first heard it?