Thursday, July 17, 2008

Go Galavanting!

You all may have noticed the new add in the corner for Galavanting magazine.

Guess who is responsible for this awesome little gem of travely goodness?

Kim from Religiarchy!

I love to travel. I even usually like airplanes (shocking, I know). I read like some people read Perez Hilton. It's a happy little sickness I have.

So having a much more hip and savvy mag for us adventurous girls makes my little heart go pitter patter. And who knows, maybe Kim will even let me tell my story about being cursed by a Mayan woman in the jungles of Mexico.

So click on the ad link and give them some love. (I am paid for the ad, but not for the clicks and even if I wasn't paid I'd be gushing like a school girl).

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Is there anything we can wear that won't elicit some kind of sexist comment?

I was musing on this after reading about this creepy dude who thinks it's totally cool to snap pics up a woman's dress on a bus and then post them online.

It was the "If she didn't want anyone looking she shouldn't have worn a skirt" comments that got me started. But what about women who don't wear skirts? Wasn't there endless fascination with Hillary's pantsuits?

I was once sitting at a bus stop on a Sunday morning. I was heading off to pick up the kid from a sleepover. I am not a morning person so I was doing my best soccer mom impersonation- yoga pants, a baggy sweatshirt, hair in pony tail and no make-up. For who knows what reason, this totally slutty get up made some old dude in a beater think I was a prostitute. I didn't realize that the MILF fetish had gone so far as to now include streetwalkers, but who knows?

So what can we wear that will let us be left alone? The head scarves and long skirts that the Muslim women in my neighborhood wear don't work. They still get harassed. The super modest dress of the FDLS women doesn't work. They still end up as someone's 3rd child bride/rape victim/ domestic slave. Women in Saudi Arabia who cover everything get chased by desperate men in cars.

Maybe, just maybe, what we wear doesn't matter. Maybe harassment of women has nothing to do with whether or not we invite it by our style of clothing. Maybe there is something else going on here, like perhaps the patriarchal ideal that all women in public spaces are public property.

We will know that we are safe when a woman could be the Naked Cowgirl of New York and not worry about being raped and when using the subway doesn't require nerves of steel and the willingness to have some dude rub his crotch on you. Until then, it doesn't matter what we wear. It's not about that.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

A great big sloppy kissed thank you

For two recent donations that are saving my ass. I don't know if you all want to be publicly outed for your generosity, so I'm thanking you both here.

Some of you may know that I go from June to October with no income. Normally I can scrape by with cleaning jobs or temp gigs, but this year it's not working. Those donations have been my only incoming cash. Sad but true.

So they mean a lot to me and to my kid. Thank you.

Satire- you're doing it wrong.

The New Yorker missed the satire boat and ended up with one of the most repulsive covers ever.

Now here's how satire works. It's supposed to piss off the wrong people for being called out on their stupidity and make everyone else laugh with it's ridiculousness .

Swift got it in his "A Modest Proposal". The idea of selling Irish babies as dinner meat to the wealthy was not a proposal that anyone would take seriously, but it did highlight the decadent ignorance of the wealthy.

The New Yorker just managed to reinforce negative stereotypes already in place.

Not funny. Not satire. Not working.

But I do have to give them the same credit that Violet Socks does. At least for those people industrious enough to read the article inside, the New Yorker goes about debunking the Obama is a radical myth.

President Wankstain speaks

Do we even care at this point? There are MASSIVE bank failures, 5 this year with 150 more banks on the verge, and the Fuckstick in charge won't admit that there is a recession.

So I am going to sum up an hour long press conference for you right here.

The economy is growing. Banks are safe. Tax rebates haven't had a chance to work yet. Congress is mean. Wah wah wah. Won't let me drill in Anwar or build more refineries.
Terrorism. Terrorism. Terrorism. Ignore the increase in violence in Afghanistan. Al Queda. Blah blah blah

I watch these things so you don't have to.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Jackson or McLaughlin- the problem of Framing

Jesse Jackson said Obama was talking down to black people. That is a perfectly legitimate statement made without racist framing.

McLaughlin said that Obama
"fits the stereotype blacks once labeled as an Oreo — a black on the outside, a white on the inside."

"Does it frost Jackson, Jesse Jackson, that…an Oreo should be the beneficiary of the long civil rights struggle which Jesse Jackson spent his lifetime fighting for?" McLaughlin asked his panelists.

That is using racist framing.

In the currently super charged political atmosphere, framing matters. And the only way we will ever be able to have much needed conversations about racism and sexism and classism and all the other isms, is if we throw out the framing that makes all those isms exist. Which means we need to get real good at spotting framing real fast.

First, a quick primer on what framing is. We all learned sentence structure in elementary school. We know that words have to go in a certain structure in order to make sense. "See the dog run" makes sense. "Run the dog see" does not. Framing is the structure we use to prove arguments as true. But unlike sentences, an idea should remain true across different frames. If it doesn't then it is not a truth. For example, the argument used by forced pregnancy nuts about when life starts. According to them, as soon as a life is created it is sacred and should not be destroyed. If that idea were true, then people should be forced into organ donation. If it is okay to require one set of people to act as life support systems for other people because all life is sacred and should not be destroyed, then is should be okay to force all people to be life support systems for other people. That argument does not work across all frames, therefore it is not a good argument.

So why is McLaughlin using racist framing while Jackson was not. You might be tempted to say that it's because Jackson is black, but we women know that membership in the vagina club doesn't make you a feminist (Phylis Schaffly). Jackson is black, but that isn't it.

Jackson's comments did not require a racist framework to be true. Jackson could have been a white women (like both Redstar and I who had loads to say about Obama's condescending Father's Day speech) and his comment would still be true. And Obama could be a white man being just as condescending, and Jackson's statement would be true.

McLaughlin's statement, on the other hand, is only true if you buy into racial stereotypes and believe that one race is better than another. If you buy into McLaughlin's Oreo trope and are black, for instance, then you believe that all black people should act a certain way and that Obama isn't really black because he is educated and affluent. And that he isn't "black enough" is a legitimate argument against him. You would have to believe that all black people are uneducated hoodlums from the ghetto who spend their days drinking 40s and playing dice on street corners and that any blacks who behave differently are trying to be white.

If you are white and you are buying into the Oreo argument, then you are just acting like Obama is a house negro. He's passable enough that you can have him around you, unlike those other ones with all their strange ways. If you remove McLaughlin's racist framing, there is nothing left to his statement.

But those of us who don't by into racist stereotyping and framework, we know behaviors of all people, regardless of race (or gender or class or ability or ....), span then breadth of human experience. And one person's experience isn't actually more legit than another's. Jackson didn't frame his statement to disparage Obama's experience. He didn't try to negate Obama's own identity with his comment. He simply pointed out that Obama is treating a section of people poorly.

If you cannot make an argument without using racist (or sexist or heteronormative or ablist) framing, then your argument won't stand. Even if you think there is a kernel of truth in that argument.

I can say that Obama doesn't get the struggles of the majority of the black community. I can say that without being black. Without being racist. I can say that because I can see the framing that he is using in his speeches. I can see the negative stereotypes he uses of lazy absentee fathers, without acknowledging that less than 40% of African American males are both free from jail and employed, making only a very small portion of black men lifetime partner material. I can see that those problems are ones of institutional racism and NOT the massive moral failings of a huge group of people. I can see in the way he talks about the self sacrificing single moms out there (especially since I am one) that he doesn't get it. He sets up the good people against the bad people (hard working moms against lazy dads). Using that kind of framing doesn't actually fix any problems. But looking at it without using stereotypes, we can say that we need more education, more jobs, more opportunity and fewer prisons. Those things would help everyone without setting up a competitive, hate-filled dynamic.

Framing matters. And it is one of the easiest things to change. When someone is making an argument, you need to look closely at the structures they use. Are they using stereotypes to support those arguments? Are they using commonly held beliefs (like there is such a thing as an Oreo) instead of actual facts? If you took away the stereotyping and the belief system, would the argument still hold? If you put the idea into a different frame, would it be true?

Let's look at the Oreo example. Is it possible to be black on the outside but white on the inside? Does behaving in a certain way eliminate your membership in a certain oppressed group, or does it just change your personal experience? Does that argument hold up for other oppressed groups.

Imagine a tomboy. A girl who has never been into dresses or dolls or makeup. Does that make her not female? Would we push her out of the feminist camp because her experiences are different from the stereotype ideal we have of pretty pink girls? Nope. (Reason number 87907 that feminism is a good thing, it acknowledges that the female experience is vast and varied). Would we say " well you act like a boy so you cannot know what sexism feels like". Nope. She still gets to be female.

So no matter how Obama acts, he still gets to be a black man. His experience as one may be different from the majority. And that IS a legitimate argument, that he doesn't have a solid understanding of poor black culture because he hasn't lived it. But you cannot eliminate his blackness because it doesn't conform to the stereotype.

Words mean things and framing is the basis for how we understand words. Legitimate framing makes arguments that are true regardless of the framework used. This has been one of my biggest problems with Obama to begin with, his use of Republican (and sexist and classist and abelist)framing. But that doesn't mean that people who use those kinds of frames against Obama are right.

Lesser Evils

I had a couple of darling friends over last night, and over many glasses of tempranillo and a couple of cohibas, we talked about whether Obama really is "less" evil than McCain.

Now I am sworn to secrecy as to the identity of these two darlings. In super blue Seattle, admitting that you're not part of the koolaid class could damage your social standing. I throw fabulous dinner parties and am a charming hostess, I can get away with publicly shaming the naked emperor. People still want to show up for my cooking. So I can say things like Obama is worse than McCain because we lose any hope of pulling the party back to progressive ideals for at least 8 years if he wins, with McCain we only have to wait 4 years. And during those 8 years we may lose the party to the right forever.

And right now, Bill Moyers is talking to a couple of conservatives on the tv about the fall of conservatism. At least one of the guys is an old school conservative, you know- separation of church and state, civil liberties loving conservative. Very Barry Goldwater. The other is a young whippersnapper, Contract with America type. Massive paraphrasing to follow.

The conservatives have lost their way and everything they once stood for, like individual freedoms, civil liberties, fiscal responsibility, etc. etc. has gone away in favor of the rabid dog of theocratic imperialism (totally my phrase). The idea being passed around by these guys is that the Republicans went so far to win, that they lost their basic foundations. Lockstep loyalty to the the party leader became more important than loyalty to the ideals that drew them to conservatism to begin with.

Lockstep loyalty to a party leader. Repeat that. Lockstep loyalty to a party leader became more important than ideals. It started with the hero worship of Reagan, but Newt Gingrich cemented the vote with your leader or die style of partisanship. Bush 2 took it to the end, with firings of Federal prosecutors who weren't loyal enough to break the law for him.

Where else might we see people being browbeaten into loyalty to a party leader? Where else are we seeing party ideals like the right to bodily autonomy discarded in favor of party loyalty? Where else might we be seeing the party cave on the basic rights to privacy and freedom in order to push a candidate into winning?

We are watching what could be the crumbling of the conservative extremists. Instead of learning the lesson that truth to ideals is more important than finagling the vote, we have watched Obama co-opt the behaviors of the radical right. Instead we are seeing the most basic Democratic truths thrown out in favor of Republican appeasement.

So while a McCain presidency would hurt for a while, if Obama stays on the path he is on he could bring down the only election outlet progressives have for a generation. Imagine that. Imagine not seeing a real progressive Democrat for 16 years. Imagine that the party platform becomes middle of the road condescension instead of the progressive wish list of things we should be fighting for. Imagine not getting real healthcare reform before you hit retirement. Imagine knowing that your phone company can be listening in on your calls and never being able to fight them over it. Imagine that "safe, legal, and rare" is whittled down to just rare.

The ideal that the Democrats are supposed to stand for means more to me than actually winning the election. I gain nothing, and neither do you, by electing a conservative behind a donkey podium. It doesn't advance our agenda. It doesn't make us safer in our homes or give us access to jobs or education or doctors. It doesn't do any of the things that we want our government to do. It's a sham. And I will not vote for a president who doesn't hold those ideals. If I did, I would have been a Republican, and I would have voted for Bush, twice.

There is no loyalty oath to the Democratic party, at least not one that I've seen. There is nothing that says you must agree with the party leaders or be thrown to the wind. I refuse to agree. I refuse lockstep loyalty to a candidate in order to win because I believe that it will destroy the party eventually.

While I will never vote for a Republican, and certainly won't vote for McCain, I actually do believe McCain is the lesser evil. Or at least the evil with a shorter expiration date. I can wait for years, but I can't wait a lifetime.