Saturday, October 13, 2007

Saturday Girl Rock Blogging

Last night I finally got to see a band I have tried many many times to see before- the fantastic Sugar Skulls.

Let's see- hot girls (and a guy drummer) playing rad music makes me a happy chica. Ursula- the bass player, came out in a bra and panty set complete with baby heads sewn in over the naughty bits so it looked a bit like she'd just given birth to plastic triplets. Awesome.

Per Ruth- "They make time changes sexy and dancable". I just thought it was awesome to see a Seattle band actually get Seattlites (who are usually way to concerned with looking cool) to dance. Shit, Le Tigre couldn't even get Seattlites to dance.

Check out The Sugar Skulls Myspace page to hear a few songs.

Dear MRAs:

Please stop whining about paying child support- the statistics show that you are not actually paying it.

Jeff Fecke wrote a brilliant post at Shakesville explaining what an MRA is.
So are MRAs concerned about anything other than raping and beating women?

Oh, sure -- they also don't want to pay child support. There's a huge segment of MRAdom that's fed by divorced men angry that their ex got custody of the kids, and now they have to fork over money to support them.
There is much more that is worth reading there, but I am going to go pick apart the whole men's choice/child support argument.

Here's the basics of the Men's Choice idea. MRAs want the right to opt out of fatherhood the same way a women gets to opt out of motherhood. Except, women who choose abortion aren't so much opting out of motherhood as they are opting out of pregnancy- opting out of motherhood is a side effect, an important side effect, but still a side effect. MRAs claim that since women get to decide if they are going to let another human being use them as a life support system then men should get to decide not to be responsible for the child after birth.

That argument doesn't fly for a couple of reasons. First, people choose (hopefully) who they have sex with and if they are going to use prevention measures like condoms or birth control. Both men and women have the ability to choose to sleep with someone who uses those measures or not and to not sleep with someone who is of a different view (I'm not counting rapes- that's a whole 'nother can of worms) . There is a risk that those measures will fail- and from that risk disease and pregnancy happen.

Now if disease happens, both partners can get treatment (or not get treatment if it's untreatable). It's equal there. If pregnancy happens- only one partner is at risk for death and other health problems related to either pregnancy or abortion. That is why women get to choose to continue a pregnancy. It is their body that does the work. But a child (or potential child- I don't think either matters in the pro-choice argument) has already been created. And if that child is born- it needs to be supported.

Here's where the MRAs get their panties in a wad. Women can choose to have an abortion or have a baby, men can't. They think that in the interest of fairness, men should get to opt out of fatherhood before the child is born if the woman decides to continue the pregnancy. I can see the point kind of, but...

Children are part of society. Society has a vested interest in seeing that children are supported until adulthood because those children will grow up to contribute to society. Our society says that it is the parents job to care for those children. Women get the opt out option only before birth because it is their life and health that is at risk during pregnancy. Once the child is born, the women has no right to kill a child because the risk to her own life is no longer there. Men do not have a risk to their life or health because of pregnancy, so they never get that option (maybe someday when embryos are grown in incubators instead of women's bodies then no one will get to choose).

But back to the children are part of society thing. They are not property like a car. With a car, you pay for the maintenance on it until the car is no longer in your possession. With a child, whether that child is in your possession or not, it needs care from it's parents.

Because of the way society is structured, women do most of the caring for children. Fair- no but that is how it's been structured. Slowly, it is becoming more acceptable for men to do the caring. Feminists fully support that change. But since women still do most of the caring, women are also most likely to be the custodial parent when parents are not together.

So women are doing the work of childrearing alone. Because children still need the support of two parents, we have child support. Child support is not parenting. It is financial support. No non-custodial parent has ever been put in jail for missing little Johnny's baseball game or skipping Suzie's dance recital. Any non-custodial parent is free to skip the hard work part of parenting- the actual being there part. You may be an asshole for it, but there are lots of assholes in the world and you'll have company. Child support is the bare minimum of care that society requires of non-custodial parents. It is much easier to write a check than it is to show up and it benefits the child by ensuring housing, nutrition, health care, etc. All these things are needed to ensure a child reaches adulthood.

And most non-custodial parents have not paid child support according to what society (specifically the legal system) requires. According to the Office of Child Support Enforcement- 70% of child support cases are in arrears. (There are
11,157,421 cases in arrears and 15,844,238 cases total). Over 105 billion dollars is owed in past due child support.

$105 Billion.

$105 billion dollars that is not going to feed or house little Suzy and Johnny. $105 billion that either the custodial parents have to make up out of thin air or that society has to cover. That's a lot of money, about $9500 per case. In my particular case- the number is $40,000 that is owed. Over the course of 12 years, that is about $277 per month that has not been paid (about the cost of feeding and clothing the kid, housing (the kid's half) is about $600 more and we won't even get into health care costs). the actual child support order is for $328 per month. That is way less than half the actual cost of raising the kid. It's maybe a third. The Kid's dad has never been threatened with jail if he didn't pay it. He has never had anything bad happen to him for not paying it, other than a mark on his credit rating. His not paying child support has lead to bad things for his child though. We live at about half of what the poverty level is. Society has had to pick up a large chunk of the cost for keeping the kid fed and housed and we qualify for medicaid. If I, as the custodial parent were to stop contributing my money to raising the child (by not feeding him or clothing him) I would face jail for child endangerment- which has a much stiffer sentence than jail for failure to pay child support, though they are the same essential acts.

So please MRAs, your whining about paying child support is falling on deaf ears because it is a crock of shit. If you really don't like the laws- then either lobby for greater funding for social safety nets for children or get a vasectomy- or both. But we see through your whining about fairness, because there is nothing fair about it.

Monday, October 08, 2007

I really wasn't being paranoid

The Swiss are assholes

On a semi-related note: The French version of the Department of Homeland Security is called the Vigipirate. Seriously. (Scroll to the cloakroom and luggage section)

Renegade My Ass!

Via Feministing comes a story about a girl who found liberation and happiness through 6 kids, a husband and..... housekeeping.

Ohhh- she thinks she's being a rebel by hanging clean towels and buying matching bedspreads.

No, seriously, she does.

I tell a lot of personal stories here, mostly to illustrate points and to show how it really is. I figure if I feel this way, I can't be the only one. Today is no exception.

I am a slob. I'm a giant, messy creative slob. I have piles of papers, bits of jewelry making stuff, paints, cookbooks, clothing, scraps of fabric, brushes, whatever in every corner of my house.

I make stuff. I write, I paint, I cook, I sew. What I don't do very often is clean. I hate cleaning. The only time cleaning has ever been the least bit satisfying to me has been when I was paid for it (I was a hotel maid in high school and work now when I can cleaning other people's houses on the weekends to supplement my income).

This shouldn't be a big deal, it's my house after all. But I have a uterus and a child. These two things combined are supposed to make me preternaturally destined to like a tidy house. They don't. Until things start to smell or I start tripping over crap- I can't be bothered to clean. I have way too many other things to do.

I didn't grow up like this. I have an OCD mother who got more than a little Mommy Dearest on me pretty regularly. We weren't allowed to leave the house unless it was immaculate, right down to color of hangars in our closets. She didn't have much of a life outside of work and cleaning. She didn't have time to read or write. She didn't spend much time with friends. She did spend a lot of time with a box TSP scrubbing grout. And she spent a lot of time yelling at me about the state of the house (not my brother- me).

Now, I may have escaped the obsessive cleaning disorder- but I didn't manage to escape the shame of having a messy house. For years I would reschedule visits from friends or make insane cleaning runs in order to be able to let people who love me into my space without them seeing how I really live. I don't mean the quick tidy that you do as a normal person, I mean the obsessive type.

Then, I realized what I was doing. I am trying to quit. People come to visit me because I am awesome, I cook really good food (last week's impromptu dinner party for 6 included the comment "Are you like super-chef?") and I am kinda fun to hang with. They are not coming over to judge how well I dust. Well, some of them aren't.

A year or two ago I was dating someone who we'll call A. (Hi A!) A spent about 3 or 4 nights a week at my house, eating dinner that I cooked and bought, sleeping in sheets that I washed, and using the bathrooms that I clean. I think in the entire course of our relationship- he did the dishes twice- ever. He also did the cooking maybe 4 times and I did the cleanup after that.

One night towards the end of our relationship he started bitching about the pile of dishes in the sink. My response was- "You eat here enough- go fucking wash them". He didn't wash them, he just bitched about the mess while eating my cooking.

So for Ms. Corey, who thinks she has become a renegade with a dustmop- the real renegade will just stop cleaning. Seriously- our self-worth seems to be tied into how well our house is presented (bullshit) instead of who we are. I am no housekeeper. But I do make a damn fine spinach and pear salad with raspberry vinaigrette. I can also make you a purse or a necklace or a painting or an essay. But I don't want to make your toilet clean, at least not unless you pay me my going rate of $20 per hour. I'd rather have the cash than the satisfaction of a sparkling toilet bowl and no more hard water stains.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

I still believe Anita Hill

I was 17 when Clarence Thomas had his confirmation hearing, and I remember the way Anita Hill was torn to shreds for daring to accuse him. I remember how Long Dong Silver became the joke of the day.

I believed her then, and I still believe her. Maybe I even believe her more now that I have 15 years of work experience under my belt. I know what it's like to be harassed. I know what it's like to not be able to say anything because you need the job. I am fortunate in only one aspect, leaving a job where I have been harassed has not hurt my career, only because I have yet to start in one. The best thing about the trap of pink collar employment is that all pink collar jobs are interchangeable.

Shortly after the Anita Hill hearings, I worked at a minimum wage job (I think it was $4.00 an hour) making pizza. I lived in an apartment with 5 room mates in a town with no jobs for a girl who wasn't old enough to be a cocktail waitress or a hooker (legal in Nevada). The troll of a manager had a habit of "accidentally" slipping his hand onto our asses. He did it to me twice and each time he did it he had a smarmy look on his face when he fake apologized with a "whoops, my hand slipped". The third time he did it I told him the next time his hand slipped it was slipping in to a lawsuit. He quit groping me after that, but I left the job anyway. He had put me on an insane schedule where I both opened first thing in the morning and closed at night (leaving work at 1 am to be back at 9am) but sent me home in the middle of the day so he wouldn't have to pay overtime.

Then I went to work as the graveyard cashier of mini-mart. I worked alone from 11pm to 6am and I quit when I started getting threatening phone calls from a creep who had been watching me. The police were called but nothing could be done.

The next hell hole was a job I had been warned about. It was a little more money and it was an office job, so I wasn't spending my days covered in pizza grease or gasoline. But the whole atmosphere of the place was misogyny central. "The girls" as we were called, were not allowed to wear pants- ever. I worked a swing shift and after 5 the only people there were me and a maintenance guy who had worked there forever. He would follow me around the office telling me stories about all the other office girl's he had fucked and how slutty they were. He talk about the blow jobs skills of the black girls who had worked there and how tight the pussy was of the girl who I replaced. He brought in medical books about STDs to show me what the case of herpes one of the girls had given him looked like. No amount of telling him that I wasn't interested would shut him up. My boyfriend started bringing me dinner every night and hanging around after to give me some space from the asshole.

I finally quit and moved to Seattle. The first job I had here I worked with a bunch of gay guys. It was the first time I had ever had a job where I wasn't bugged on a regular basis.

Since then I've had many jobs, some good and some bad. Part of why I stay with my current job at the college (despite the low pay and lack of benefits) is that it is the first time I've been able to complain about harassment and have something good come of it. I had a former student who kept coming back to my lab after graduation and bothering me, asking me out, creeping me out. I merely mentioned that he was bugging me to the office manager and she was required to report it to the administration. He was asked to stay away from the campus after that I have not been bothered since. I also have the freedom to call people out when they say sexist crap without fear of retribution.

I believe Anita Hill because I know how common this shit is. I also know how rare it is to be in a place where people will take you seriously when you complain.