Saturday, April 19, 2008

Movie reviews

I mostly hate kids movies. Sure- I love Miyazaki and the Harry Potter movies, but mostly I think kids movies are dumbed down techno-colored crap. Disney movies mostly make me nauseous. And the Kid has a love for Scooby Doo that knows no bounds. Really, when I was 10 the Scooby Doo plots were cool but now I kinda want to stab my eyes out with a pencil rather than watch Scooby and Shaggy run away from fake ghosts and monsters.

So the Kid begged me to rent The Last Mimsy so we could watch it together. This morning instead of watching cartoons, we made up some cinnamon rolls and ate them curled up on my bed while watching Mimsy in all it's alien cuteness.

It was......not bad. Sure there were some totally crap moments where suspension of disbelief was impossible. Strangely, the magical mystery bits were believable. It was the real life stuff regarding Homeland Security that I couldn't buy.

So if you want to watch a movie with your kid that won't make you wish for a heroin overdose- I think The Last Mimzy could work.

But now that the kid is happily off to his own room, I'm gonna go be all grown up and watch Eastern Promises.

Friday, April 18, 2008

So conflicted

So the Kid and I were riding the bus home today (in the snow- in fucking April) and sitting across from us was a cool punk rock mom and her little baby girl, who could not have been more than 9 months old.

The mom had multi-candy colored hair. The baby had her hair dyed fuschia.

Now the rock and roll side of me was all "fuck yeah- punk rock girl!"

The mom side of me was all "Bad-No chemicals on baby heads!"

I sincerely hope the mom went the least toxic way and used koolaid on the kids head. That would be rad.

Good Morning and Happy Friday!

Once more for the simple minded...........

Someone has been lucky enough to have missed the massive "anti-girlOMGtehcooties" vibe coming from the obama boys. Some of us have lost friends and sleep and a place in the Democratic party over this, so it really must be nice to live in a land where that doesn't exist.

I do keep hearing over and over and over that Hillary's war vote is a legitimate reason for not voting for her. True, perhaps. But there are a shitload of dems that voted for the war and still have their seats.

For all intents and purposes, Hillary and Barak are the same on wanting to get us out of Iraq. For all of Barak's sanctimonious bitching about Hillary's war vote, he's never seen a war funding bill he didn't like.

It's obvious the Hillary regrets her war decision or she'd be all in with 100 years McCain. But she is the first viable woman running to be in charge of the military. And the traditional screed against women in the White House has been about how they couldn't possibly handle war related issues because they are too emotional and mushy brained.

So if Hillary comes straight out and says "I fucked up. Iraq was a bad vote." she doesn't get the pass that all of her male senate colleagues who made the same vote would get. She gets labeled as a dumb girl who we shouldn't let near the big red button cause she might mistakenly press it and blow the whole world up.

It's not difficult folks. Really.

He went freakin bowling!

Via Kim@Religiarchy- the funniest thing I've seen in weeks. Every time I think the funny has stopped, it comes out again. Pee before watching or you might have a little laughter leakage.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Fun with thought experiments

I'm with Liss. All I want to do right now is read things that make me happy, like I can has cheezeburger or trashy gossip on Jezebel. Or buy shoes, but I am sooo broke. If I don't take a break from political misogyny watch for a bit, I'm gonna explode.


I can never really take a total break. So I thought I'd try something a little more hopeful. I've been thinking about movie or tv plots or commercials I would like to see, instead of the standard sexist drivel that is trotted out as genius (Apatow- I'm talking to you). So here's my list so far, please feel free to add to it.

A movie where a middle aged guy falls for a middle aged woman and it is considered normal instead of empowering for older women everywhere.

A movie or tv show where a poor guy marries a rich woman and they live happily ever after. Usually happily ever after happens only when the woman is poor. When she is rich, the guy inevitably becomes bitter after years of being controlled by his shrewish wife and has an affair with a.... poor woman.

A female heroine (or villain) in an action movie who isn't tarted up in patent leather fetish clothes. Seriously- you cannot run, let alone fight in five inch heels. You will break your ankles.

A movie or tv show about 30 something women that does not include any laments about how there are no good guys left, that they are all married or gay. Actually, what I'd really like to see is the single, 30 something woman who is the commitaphobe because it's closer to my reality. But instead of her growing up and settling down in the end, I want her big realization to be that she is just fine on her own.

Any show about a single mom that doesn't cast her as either a completely self-sacrificing saint or a total abusive nut case. We're all a little bit of both.

A commercial where men clean toilets. Or ovens. Or talk about how fresh they like their produce to be at the grocery store or they want their laundry to smell like a summer breeze.

A beer commercial where woman drink beer cause they like it, not because they are the magic prize the guys get for opening up a tall cold one.

And I would really like to see an end to the anorexic lollipop look. Do you remember when Lucy Lawless was Zena. She was all muscle and hotness. Now she looks like Lindsey Lohan's aunt. Women who are naturally that thin don't look like bobble head dolls (Think Natalie Portman or Kiera Knightly).

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Practical Side of Privilege

I have a deep dark secret to confess. I use my privilege to my advantage and to the advantage of my child. And I have no idea how to fix that without causing harm to one or both of us.

Maybe this would be better explained with examples.

Example One

I live in a poor, working class, mostly black neighborhood. We are not here as part of some early gentrification scouting project. We're here cause we are just as poor as our neighbors. But even though we are equals in poverty, I know that my voice will carry more weight than the voices of my neighbors.

I get harassed on the street a lot. (See here, and here, and here for starters). Some might say that I am getting harassed cause I am a white woman in a black neighborhood, but I think it's more that men use whatever means they can to assert privilege. Wealthy men can do that through economic threats. Poor men do it through violent threats (I am not saying wealthy men aren't also violent, but they generally have better ways of threatening women than with cat calls). I don't think street harassment is a racial problem, in other words. I think it is a class problem. I do know that the black men who harass me in my neighborhood are PISSED cause I'm not afraid of them (more than a few have yelled that I am supposed to be afraid of the big black man when I have gone off on them for their sexist acts).

So back to my own practical bits of privilege. I always feel much better when I confront harassers than when I let it go. And during my tenure in this neighborhood I have gotten much more assertive. Part of that is because I know that as an educated sounding, white, middle class looking (though dirt poor) soccer mom type- the police will always believe me over a black man. Always. If it comes down to violence I know that in those situations I will win. Period. So I get to be a strong angry feminist with an entire racist police force to back me up. But only here. If I were to go north a few miles, my class status and gender would render me as the unbelievable one.

So, how do I give up that little bit of privilege in a world full of violence and anger directed at me? I know it's there like a loaded handgun waiting for the time I need to fire it.

Example Two

And then there is my child. My brilliant but poor white male child. Because of the neighborhood we are in and because my child is so white he makes paper jealous, he's nearly been robbed on at least 3 occasions by neighborhood kids. They think (mistakenly) that cause he's white he must have money. On one occasion the Kid was pushed around pretty brutally and I called the police. The kids that did it were my kid's age and because they were trying to rob him while threatening him with violence, these three 10 year old black kids could have been charged with felony assault. Because we are white, our complaints would have been taken seriously. But these were kids being brats, not felons. I told the officer we didn't want to press charges but we did want to scare the shit out of these kids and their parents. He went to their house and did just that. It was sobering, to say the least, to think that these kids who did something thoughtless and stupid and bullying, could have their lives ruined for it at 10. (None of this means to diminish my own kid's pain- bullying is wrong regardless of skin color).

In that case, had I let anger and vengeance overtake me instead of reason, those kids would have been seriously harmed by my privilege. And I know that the officer took a case of extreme child bullying more seriously because it was reported by an educated sounding, middle class looking white mom. If I had been black and the bullies were white, that wouldn't happen. If I had been any shade of brown that wouldn't have happened.

But how can I give up that privilege when it works towards protecting my child?

Example Three

I've written about the problems of race and class divide at my son's school before. The Kid has a mild motor skills problem that has made him eligible for special education assistance at school. Last year he started middle school and was supposed to have one hour a day of a special study skills class as part of our IEP (individual education plan, basically a contract between the school and I saying what services they will provide). He didn't get study skills class until May, and then only because I threatened to sue. Last year he faltered hard in his classes. When they did put him into a study skills class , he was ignored because he is quiet and will hide in a corner reading a book. The things that were supposed to happen like homework help and time management planning were ignored. It was more a free hour of nothing time for him.

This year, he is in a different study skills class, one created especially for the gifted (mostly white) kids. He has a teacher who actually pays attention to him and he is improving this year. His counselor has apologized over and over because they just didn't have the Advanced Placement Study Skills class last year.

I know that he is actually getting help this year because he is in the mostly white class with children from wealthy families. I know that the black and brown kids in his study skills class from last year deserve just as much help and attention as my kid does but they aren't getting it. And I am afraid to complain about it. I am afraid that if I call them out on this that my kid will go back to being warehoused instead of taught.

So how do I give up that bit of privilege when it will ruin my child's education?

This is what is meant by systemic ___ism. We can work in bits and pieces to make changes, but until you break the entire privilege system it won't do any good. Practical necessity will interrupt. Now with those cat callers on the street, if we did away with sexism and racism and classism, then they wouldn't be yelling to begin with. And those kids picking on my Kid, well they wouldn't have singled him out for his skin color (this is not a reverse racism rant- it's the reality of being a minority in your neighborhood) and that police officer would have taken our complaint seriously because it deserved serious treatment and not because of my race and class. And the Kid's school, well all the kids would have access to all the help they need regardless of whether they are gifted and white or poor and brown.

In the mean time, I can acknowledge my privilege. I can try to give up any non-necessary ways my privilege is used. But it's always there, like a magic security blanket, keeping me from the worst of it.

Monday, April 14, 2008

In addition to blog crushes

I may or may not be nursing my own real life crush on a very tall, very cute Bulgarian boy (Hi! I told you I was gushing about you. Are your ears still burning?)

And because I had a very lovely weekend (wink wink, nudge nudge) I am finding it terribly difficult to muster my normal righteous outrage, though there is PLENTY to be outraged at. Like...

Obama doesn't just think women should only have "some control over their own bodies" but he also can't seem to spit out the word rape when women "sometimes in certain situations may not be able to protect themselves from having unprotected sex". Let's see if we can elucidate the point for him. Being forced to have sex that you don't want to have is rape. It's always rape. It's not kinda not being in control. I somehow doubt Barry would call it "being unable to protect himself from having unprotected sex" if he was forcefully fucked up the ass by the deliverance guys.

Oh look- I guess I can dig up some righteous indignation even after all.