Friday, June 02, 2006

why I don't love misogynistic humor (yet)

Eventually, I might find it pretty funny, but I don't yet. Of course, in the interest of full disclosure, I must also admit that I'm not a big fan of bathroom humor or any other kind that prominently features farting. That doesn't mean I don't have a sense of humor, just that my funny-bone wears a filter that's either a leftover from my upbringing or something inherently me. Nurture/nature... maybe both.

But, as to reasons why I'm not (yet) crazy about woman-hating humor...

I'm pretty tired of the whole daddy party vs mommy party name-calling game that the GOP--and their minions-- insist on playing, and of course, it's always the Democrats who are the mommies, and thus, weak and ineffectual, and the Republicans who are the daddies, i.e, strong and competent.

I'm pretty tired of the worst thing that can ever be said about a man by his peers being almost invariably something horribly, disgustingly feminine, like throwing or running or cursing like a girl (not even a woman!).

And I'm even more tired of women's private body parts being used so indiscriminately to describe something or someone considered disgusting and/or weak. So far, I haven't heard about any women's private body parts being used to commit crimes of war or rape, unlike men's. (Okay, so there are some women (tho' very few) who are pedophiles. I took Maddox's test, and got a better than average grade. But, ethnic cleansing still remains a male thing, as does rape of a non-consenting adult.)

Ultimately, there's nothing like having your entire gender identity, or any of its many parts, be considered the ultimate insult or epithet...

Imagine if Shakespeare or Swift or Twain, or Aristophanes (who more or less invented comedy as satire) or any other comedic or satirical genius had decided to write about the people in power making fun of those people with less or little power. Do you think their work would have survived and thrived for so many centuries? What do you suppose history will make of GWB's attempts at humor: "Please don't kill me!" "Some might call you the haves (have mores) but I call you my base!" --and joking about not being able to find those WMDs about which he lied in order to exert his power to wage war?

So, I'm guessing that I'll finally be just about ready to appreciate some woman-bashing humor about the same time that women all over the world are wreaking the same havoc that power-abusing men are visiting upon the world right now, primarily upon women and children, the poor and the elderly. Once that happens, it will definitely be time to poke some good-natured (or worse) fun at women, sort of like Stephen Colbert did last month at the WH Correspondents dinner. Wait, now, that I think of it, most of those powerful people in that audience didn't want to talk about how funny he was... maybe I won't either. If I'm ever that powerful.

Comedy, properly used-- and especially when it is most shocking-- is an antidote to abuses of power and/or ignorance. With so much abuse of power (and ignorance!) running rampant and amok in the world, Maddox decides that's okay to pick on women? Go figure... sure, to a child or a younger man, women might seem to have more power than they actually do, but a real man, i.e., a grownup, knows better, and also knows how to be magnanimous and to show restraint with those who are less powerful.

[An aside: I also live with a man who works at a computer most of the day, but can also fix just about anything, and he's a vegetarian, too, unlike me. Go figure...]

I posted this comment earlier on Salon, in response to this story and the other comments, but without the links.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Girl Power at the Spelling Bee

For the first time in 8 years the National Spelling Bee Champion is a girl and her name is Katherine "Kerry" Close.
Kerry was named the Scripps National Spelling Bee Champion in the 20th round after correctly spelling the word "ursprache," which is defined as "a parent language, especially one reconstructed from the evidence of later languages."

According to the stats, there were 275 spellers, the most ever in the National Spelling Bee's history. Of those 275, 136 were girls.

Of course, everyone who competes in the spelling bee at the national level is already a winner because they have had to win several bees on their way to the nationals.

And yes, I'm a word geek and was able to get clear enough reception at SpecOps to watch the last 45 minutes of it.

Way to go girls!

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

More From the Room of Clerks - Elizabeth Vargas

In the room of clerks again. Discussion begins with the huge deal that is being made about Katie Couric's departure from "The Today Show" and heads to anchor CBS Evening News. Meanwhile, someone says, women's groups are giving Elizabeth Vargas a hard time.

One bright young women gets a hard edge in her voice. "Wasn't the woman's movement about getting maternity leave so women could choose to have a family? Isn't the women's movement about giving women choices?"

The older woman standing a few feet away says, "That's my point exactly."

Are the women's groups applauding Katie for becoming the next anchor at CBS, or are they too busy raking Elizabeth Vargas over the coals?

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Misogynist Music and the Feminist Who Loves It

What is wrong with me? I don't like most music performed by women unless it's Heart or a group like that. Women are too sappy for me. Tori Amos makes me shudder.

ZZ Top? Half of Eminem? Kid Rock? That's part of what I listen to. And I feel like I should be embarrassed about it, but I'm not. And something tells me I should be embarrassed for thinking Adam Ant and Prince are sexy on a stick.

What self-respecting feminist is going to admit to liking ZZ Top with their fast cars, long-legged women and songs full of not so cleverly hidden metaphors?

And Eminem? He's too busy writing songs about killing people, especially his wife. Loads of anger up in there baby.

Kid Rock ... skinny white trash musician that calls women names and sings/raps about doing things to them that verge on rape.

What is it about these men and their music that makes me dance around in my chair like a goldfish without a water supply?

I've seen ZZ Top twice in concert and they put on a darned good show. Flash, but not without substance. Yes, there are scantily clad women on stage and that bothers me more than just a bit. It could be the driving drum beats of Frank Beard (ironically the only Topper without a beard), the Louzeeana Zydeco guitar riffs that meet Texas drawl that draw me in. I can imagine it's me in the back of that big old caddy on the way to LaGrange, smokin' a ceegar and bein' cool.

Eminem? I have no clue why I like him. Maybe it's his beats and his anger, because his anger seems to speak to mine and I find myself thinking, "Yeah, I know what that feels like."

Kid Rock puts on a heck of a show and he is, no doubt, a very talented musician with a black woman as his drummer. Strippers doing pole dances? They were there. Joe C in memoriam sticking his middle finger up for the whole world to sit on and spin, that was there too. And I was there, singing "bah wa dit ba" until I was hoarse.

I can't identify with Sheryl Crowe, Shania Twain, Shakira and definitely not Christina Aguilera. Pink and Missy Elliott, them I can identify with and enjoy.

Is it that there's such a dearth of hard-driving music performed by women? Music that shows the "Take no prisoner" style that ZZ Top, Kid Rock and especially Eminem demonstrate.

Where female artists are concerned, there seems to be a connection lost. They seem to believe that the only way they are going to be heard is to use their sexuality. And this may be true, but it turns me off. It makes me want to avoid their music completely. I want the women who are real and not concerned with what the men think (or the women, for that matter).

Joan Jett, Pat Benatar, Chrissie Hynde, Christine McVie, Nancy Wilson, Grace Slick, Grace Jones ... where have you gone? Come back and teach the next generation what it is to take on a barracuda.

Monday, May 29, 2006

"War Widow Holds Service for Wiccan Husband"

From AP writer Tom Gardner, comes this story (via Salon):

A war widow who wants the government to put a Wiccan religious symbol on her husband's memorial plaque held an alternative service Monday as a protest, hours before an official Memorial Day ceremony nearby.
The story concludes with:

Approximately 1,800 active-duty service members identify themselves as Wiccans, according to 2005 Defense Department statistics.

Perhaps the Defense Department objects because the Wiccan religion is not warlike enough?

Connecting the dots...

Not to put to fine a point on it, but...

...because GWB was not permitted to grieve the death of a younger sister, at least 1600 American children must now mourn the loss of a parent. And who knows how many more children will lose a parent before this ill-begotten war has ended?

Update: just one more example of the federal government's lack of commitment to military brats.

What it will take... perhaps more breastfeeding?

A number of women's groups are protesting Elizabeth Vargas's stepping down as co-anchor of ABC's "World News Tonight." I wish them good luck, but I think they may be taking the wrong approach. For one thing, it may be that Vargas actually prefers to step down. But how can we know? Pregnancy, both pre- and post-, is still such an unmentionable in this country-- except when we want to offer unsolicited and unwanted advice to a pregnant woman-- that one wonders how so many women manage to work while pregnant or breastfeeding as well as they do. And then there's the question of how many of us would be willing to run the post-pregnancy gauntlet of millions of critical eyes calculating how many more pounds we still need to lose?

Whether or not ABC is family- or woman-friendly is not enough of a factor, or at least not the only factor, in Vargas or any other woman choosing or being asked to leave a high-visibility job, due to pregnancy or the demands of motherhood.

So, what will it take to change the status quo? In my opinion, more breastfeeding in public would be an excellent start. The day that we can expect to see a female news anchor breastfeeding a baby while reading the news, or running an executive board meeting, etc., is the day we can expect to see women keeping their high-visibility jobs when they become mothers.

I can just imagine the hoots and hollers and jeers, and the uneasy looks about the possibility of obscenity charges (y'know that whole Janet Jackson episode just won't go away anytime soon), and I have to say that compared to the not-so-distant experiments of news readers either being nude or else reading the news while stripping... well, feeding an infant is hardly on a par with that depraved behavior. Yet, breastfeeding women are often expected to pump their breast milk-- or even feed their infant!-- in the restroom. Ewww! How gross! I don't know when you last ate a meal in a restroom, but can you really recommend it as a proper dining experience or environment for an impressionable infant who might learn to associate those sounds and smells with having breakfast or lunch? ...just so that the American psyche's obsession with the naked breast as sex object can be accommodated without inconveniencing anyone over the age of 18 by making them re-examine their values? Really?

[True, a breastfeeding infant is also a reminder of a possible consequence of unprotected sex, but in that case, wouldn't you then expect that this administration would actually get behind the idea of lactating mothers in high-visibility positions?]

We may not be able to do much from the top down for women like Vargas, who may or may not even want such attention. However, from the ground up, we can, if we are in such a position, breastfeed our own infants in public, encourage our friends, coworkers, family members, even strangers, to do the same. It's way past time for a little national desensitization program that would benefit, not just working mothers and their infants, but in the long run, all of us.

image: [clothes for nursing mothers]

If you need some hope for a reality check...

...check out this site: Republicans for Humility.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Fashion Sense Hope

I can't believe it, a month ago I wrote this about women's underwear. A whole month.

I am here to tell you there is hope for comfort. A package arrived from Decent Exposures and it occurred to me that I needed to share with the world, the place that makes some of the most comfortable undergarments in my world.

First, all their literature reads: "Designed for women by women." That's what drew me in years and years ago. Each garment is handsewn, made to order.

If you are looking for lacy, frilly, underwire bras with straps that slip and give you that "torpedo tit" look, this is not the place for you. If, however, you are looking for comfort that comes in an array of pretty colours in cotton or cotton/lycra this is definitely the place for you.

SpecOps keeps me hopping and trust me when I say that I need something comfortable with support so I don't hurt myself or someone else. Decent Exposures has me covered. Expensive, yes. Worth it, definitely.

They also make other items of clothing; leggings, undies, shorts, skirts, dresses ... a whole range of comfortable clothing designed by people who understand the foibles of a woman's body. Check 'em out!

"She's All Super Feminist Like You"

Back in the room full of clerks. Chatting about this, that and the other thing. The new guy is trying to find a room to rent and the clerks are offering suggestions. His horror stories are truly appalling. The couple who wanted to rent the room but didn't want anyone to know he lived there, promising to hold onto his check until he returns with cash a week later and then cashing the check anyway. Or the man who signed a written agreement and then reneged when new guy said he was gay. Appalling what people do to each other without a thought.

Outrage was expressed. He fixed his sweet young face with those blue eyes on the person facing him and told the story of his friend's roommate who is ready to call the housing authority on the last landlord. "She's all super feminist like you ..."

Eyes met eyes and laughter bubbled out, "Oh honey. I am nothing compared to other women who call themselves feminists."

Equality is the call of the day. Equal to make choices and equal to celebrate the true differences.