Thursday, June 18, 2009

Because i am an evil girl

A poster sized print of this is my wedding prezzie for Ruth & Bernard.

What is this? you are probably asking yourself.

It turns out that we live in at the nexus of yuppy hell, where seemingly unimportant things inspire both ire and gross revenge plans from neighbors.

That blue bag is a bag of dog shit hung on the car because it was parked slightly over the sidewalk (in our own driveway).

Peeps- I am used to the ghetto. I know what things will and won't get you hurt in an environment of the urban poor. Calling someone's mom a dirty name will get you hurt, parking badly will be ignored. These things make sense to me. I am having a very difficult time figuring out why someone would be soooooo pissed about having to take a half step to the side that they would need to leave animal excrement on the offending vehicle.

Opposite world

Renee at Womanist Musings (must remember to put her in the blog roll next time I retool) has a post up about the horrors of hymenoplasty and a woman who has it done EVERY YEAR so her husband keeps getting the "thrill" of fucking a virgin for his birthday.

(Yes, that made me throw up a little in my mouth just typing it)

That post and another I read the other day about mail order brides has got me thinking about women as the sex class, a concept that is difficult for a lot of people to grasp, even women, because we do so much more than spread our legs for the patriarchy.

One of the little mental exercises I use for figuring stuff out is to imagine the opposite of whatever I'm mulling over (I'll get to that part later). In this case, there was a line in the mail order bride story about how for many women their survival depends directly on being able to sexually satisfy a man. (I wish I could remember where I read it, I think it was the NYTimes, but fuck em, they get enough press already)

My brain took that one sentence and pushed it around for awhile. Sex workers, obviously, are women who rely on their ability to sexually satisfy a man for their survival. Traditional, stay at home wives too (if they slack off their husband can replace them with a younger version and they are financially devastated) which might explain little miss colluder's willingness to have her bits sewn shut once a year rather than having hubby run out and find an actual virgin to terrorize. But that's not where it ends. If we are to believe the evo-psych blowhards, then men are programmed to run around fucking everything with a hole. So why do we women have to spend so much time and energy on beauty products and clothing and maintenance in order to be fuckable? It doesn't make any sense to me.

So what's the opposite?

Imagine a world where a man's ability to sexually satisfy a woman directly correlated to his success. I know, that made you chuckle didn't it? Every single woman I know has at some point faked it with a dude, either to spare his feelings or to get it over with cause it was taking too long or whatever. Can you imagine a world where women's orgasm's weren't some mystical, mercurial thing but were as guaranteed as men's are now (I think this is entirely possible, btw. Just cause you don't know how to drive a stick shift doesn't mean that it can't be driven.)A world where penis enlargement is as common place as breast enlargement is now and every man in the country aspires to a perfect swimmers build through massive caloric restriction and grueling exercise regimes. A world where women catcall construction workers, men who are just trying to go about their work but instead become eyecandy (or fodder for ridicule) for lusty females. A world where men are warned about walking home alone at night or having a few too many drinks in a bar. Hell, we already make jokes about how if men got pregnant abortion would be available at drive-thrus, and how many crappy movies have been made about Mr. Moms taking care of the kids for comedic effect?

Yep- it sounds pretty ridiculous to me. So if it's opposite is ridiculous, then the current status quo is too. (Opposites is a fun game to play- imagine a world where ONLY gay people can get married or where Africa was the continent that white slaves were imported to. It's a really good tool for figuring out your own prejudicial hold backs).

So if women aren't the sex class, then there would be no need for all the little (and big) things we do every day to be attractive. Cosmo wouldn't keep running stupid articles about how to please your man in bed with a scrunchie to the nutsack. Women wouldn't risk toxic shock to have their bits waxed into virginal smoothness and the worst thing you could say about a women wouldn't have anything to do with how fuckable she is or isn't.

A fetus by any other name

is still an unwanted baby.

William Saletan, Supreme conserva-douche at Slate, thinks that us little wimmins would have to think twice about abortion if we stopped calling it a fetus and started calling it a baby. Oh and we should all look at the ultra sound so we understand exactly how grave abortion is.

But here's something to blow Mr. Saletan's tiny brain.

I am a woman. I've had several abortions. I saw the ultrasounds. I still choose not to have a baby. I choose to abort a baby.

And the child that I did choose to have, despite my obviously homicidal tendencies as stated above, is now 14 and healthy and has never been at risk of infanticide.

Now how other women choose to deal with unwanted pregnancies is up to them. It's a difficult decision to begin with, and I don't think forcing women clockwork orange style to view ultrasounds or playing semantics police over terminology is they way to go. if you need to call it a fetus, call it a fetus. If you don't want to see the ultrasound, you shouldn't have to see it. Whatever you have to do to get through it is for you to choose. Not me, and certainly not some dude who will never know the joy of an invasive medical procedure with you legs akimbo in stirrups on a cold table.

The right to choose is not about whether a baby/fetus is a living being or not a living being. It's about whether a woman wants or can afford to play a life support machine to another person. At some point, 40% of women in this country can't afford to be a life support machine and choose to abort a baby to save their own lives from physical, emotional or financial doom. (In that case- abortion is closer to self defense than murder, but I am pretty sure a douche like Saletan thinks women aren't capable of defending themselves.)

So call it what you will, but I don't think treating women like infants who can't figure out right from wrong is doing a damn thing to prevent more abortions from happening.

Female maladies?

This post popped up in my reader from Feminist Philosophers about borderline personality disorder. At the very end of the post, the author mentions a book , Janet Wirth-Cauchon’s Women and Borderline Personality Disorder, and how Wirth-Cauchon thinks borderline personality disorder is the "new female malady".

Being fairly familiar with BPD (Hi Mom- stop stalking me on the internet- it's creepy and gross) and sadly familiar with domestic violence, I don't think BDP is a particularly female problem. I think that men with BDP are seen as love sick, John Cusak with a boombox type romantics instead of potentially violent stalkers with a mental illness (an illness that is patriarchy approved, mind you). Now granted, I'm not a psychologist but I've spent enough time on a couch sorting through this shit to have a pretty good idea of what I'm talking about.

Life with my mom was excruciating. There was never enough I could do to prove that I loved her and was a good daughter. The more I sacrificed of myself, the more needy she became. And when my attention was focused elsewhere for even a minute, her rage was earthshaking. For people with BPD, you can never love them enough to make it ok. If they feel that you are "slipping away" then there are suicide threats, eating disorders, drug abuse, lies, manipulations, or some crisis is created where you have to come pay attention to them right now. Having friends or boyfriends or even other family members that love you is not ok. For my mom, there is only a limited amount of love in the world and any love that goes to someone else is love (re/ attention) that is not going to her. Loved ones of people with BDP can find themselves very isolated.

And this isn't very different from domestic abuse patterns. If you listen to any DV victim, the same themes of needy partners and isolation come up. Unfounded jealousy, "crazy making" manipulations, violent episodes of rage for no rational reason are all pretty standard for both BDP and DV.

It makes sense to me, that after growing up in a house where love was this obsessive, needy, devouring beast that I ended up with the Kid's dad when I did. It was familiar, unhealthy but familiar. At the end of my relationship with the Kid's dad and at various points in my relationship with my mom I did what I could to become a blank slate around them. I tried to erase whatever it was about me that made them hurt. It was a futile exercise, because there wasn't ever enough I could do to make it right and the more I tried to blank out the more I resented them, which made them more volatile, which made me more resentful, etc. But the thing that saved me from continuing both of those relationships was the same, the Kid. I could tolerate a whole lot of shit being thrown my way, but when that shit started heading towards the Kid the logical part of my brain, or perhaps what one shrink called my "survivor's heart" kicked in and said enough.

Since the Kid's dad, I have never been in another romantic relationship that was even slightly abusive. Sure, I've dated my fair share of jerks (and I've been a jerk a few times myself) but they weren't abusive.

All of this is just a long way of saying that I don't think BDP is a female malady. I think it may be a female manifestation of domestic abuse. But what does it say about female agency that men who act this way are criminals (as long as you have a police force, district attorney and judicial system with domestic violence training) while women who act this way are diseased? I think that is an interesting question, and one I don't have a good answer for.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

People are way more rational than you think

This post is just pissing me off. Actually, Andrew Leonard's take on it is fine, but the whole basis of the idea that there are scads of people out there voting against their own best interest either by being poor and white and voting Republican or being rich and white and voting for higher taxes is a sham.

People DO vote in their own self interest. For the reasons Andrew stated
I personally would be inclined to argue that pro-fiscal stimulus rich liberals are following John Maynard Keynes when they willingly accept higher taxes to pay for government spending because they understand that this makes economic sense of the whole country. If all the workers are laid off, who is going to buy the products or services that allow rich people to get rich? Supporting an active government effort to shorten a recession seems like pure self interest to me, whether you are rich or poor.

I think that's a pretty good take on why rich people in urban areas vote for higher taxes.

Why poor white men in rural areas vote Republican is pretty easy to explain too. The Democratic party doesn't offer them anything. Sure it's supposed to be the party of the liberal working class, yet the Dems have failed to offer anything to the working class, black or white. What they have done is put in place affirmative action (much needed, but not perfect) which puts more competitive stress on poor white men for jobs. The few qualities that have made their lives tolerable over the course of American history (being white and male) by giving them advantages over the non-white and non-male are being taken away, without any good solutions to replace them. In their eyes, at least the Republicans want to let them keep their unfair advantages, even if they don't offer any eal kind of improvement either.

Until we on the left figure out that we have to make things better for everyone at the bottom (black, white, brown, male, female, etc) then there will be a large section of the population that resents any efforts we make to improve things for people on a group basis. We need more jobs for everyone, not JUST more access to jobs for some. We need better wages for everyone, not just more lenient immigration policies for people willing to work for a fraction of fair wages.

Those poor white men ain't stupid, they are holding on to their only advantage. It is our failure as progressives that we haven't come up with a plan that shows them a better way for everyone.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Iran so far away

Or perhaps a better title is "what do we do about Iran?"

And the answer is pretty simple.

Nothing. We don't interfere in their recount process. We don't channel any kind of support (publicly or privately) to any of the candidates. We stay the fuck out of it. We don't make any comments about what we will or won't do regarding the nuclear situation depending on who ends up in charge. We don't send weapons or money to the revolutionaries. We back off. Way off.

Except for the media. Don't send soldiers or guns. Send cameras and laptops.

We (Americans) have a history of interfering in other people's elections and/or revolutions. And we have a history of backing atrocious people (Trujillo in the DR, Pinochet in Chile, Saddam Hussein, and the Shaw of Iran whose ousting has led to Iran's extended trip into theocracy, to name just a few). We are bad at trying to set up "democracy" in other countries. They always fail because democracy through tyranny is still tyranny.

I think it's entirely plausible that the protests and riots are proof that the election was fixed. They are risking their lives in Iran to make their votes count. But change has to come from inside, and so does revolution. The minute we pick a candidate, that candidate looses all legitimacy in the eyes of the Iranian people. They have to be willing to fight for it themselves, and as we've seen in Iraq, without that kind of public groundswell you end up with a violent quagmire.

Monday, June 15, 2009

RQ Cooks- Carnitas

It takes very little to get a party started at my house. This weekend's excuse for merriment was "Lizzie bought a pork roast". And it was on.

Traditional carnitas done Yucatan style means giant hunks of pork slow roasted in a dirt pit and then deep fried. But I am way too lazy to go dig a hole in the back yard. So this recipe isn't much different from my standard pork roast, just the seasonings are different.

Find the biggest hunk of boneless pork shoulder you can get. Make sure it has a nice layer of fat on the bottom. Throw it in a big crock pot fat side down.

Cover roast in achiote sauce or paste (if you live in a neighborhood with a lot of Latinos- you can probably find this in the grocery store along with yummy yummy apple soda). Add grapefruit or orange juice (a cup or so), chopped garlic and onions, salt, pepper, a little bit of oregano, some red pepper flakes and the juice of a lime or two. Set to low and cook 8 to 10 hours or until the roast is shredding itself in the sauce.

(a quick note- onions and garlic will pickle a bit in the citrus juice. For onions they turn a bit pink, which is fine. The garlic will turn minty green. Do not freak out. It tastes fine)

Now for the ultimate lazy "deep frying" part.

A little while before serving, shred the pork into an oven proof baking dish. I use a pyrex lasagna pan. Pour all the sauce and fat from the crock pot over the shredded bits and throw under the broiler for a while. You want the top bits of pork to get crispy and a little blackened. I know it's done by how it smells. If it smells like you want to crawl in the oven and die from a pork induced coronary RIGHT NOW, then it's probably done.

How to serve

Like any taco, this is meal is all about the condiments. We do fried corn tortillas, half assed Spanish rice, pickled onions (when I can remember to set them out), homemade pico de gallo and guacamole, 3 minute refried beans (can of beans, glob of sour cream, generous pile of shredded cheese all mixed together and microwaved for 3 minutes. The sour cream makes the beans fluffy and light.
But pork needs a little something sweet to balance out all the savory and sour flavors.

Normally, you could make a pineapple or mango salsa to go with the pork. But i am lazy and I just made a vat of pico de gallo and I don't want to touch another onion. So I cubed up some fresh pineapple (DO NOT BUY CANNED! A fresh pineapple is cheap and way way better than metal flavored sugar syrup nastiness)and like our friends to the south I covered it in chili powder. Peeps- if you have not had sticky sweet fruit dusted with chili powder then I feel sorry for you. It will change your life.

Pile everything into the fried tortillas and prepare to eat (with one hand poised to unbutton you pants because you will not be able to stop stuffing your face).

Fun with school counselors

One of the things that DV victims who escape learn is that you need to ask for help/ warn people in authority that you have this crazy person trying to do damage to you and your loved ones. You have to tell bosses so that exes aren't allowed to stalk you at work (which can be problematic because they can fire you rather than run the risk of having a crazy person shoot up their job site) and you have to talk to your kid's school.

Getting the kid a safe preschool, back when all this shit started, was a frightening. I ended up picking a school with a locked door/ buzzer/ video camera system for letting parents in. It's a little freaky, cause as a parent you want to be able to drop in on a school anytime to make sure your kid is safe, and the getting through that much security eliminates surprise visits. But eliminating surprise visits from violent exes is a good thing.

This time around, I am not finding the school to be nearly as helpful as they should be. His counselor, who claimed to have a "well developed bulls hit meter" when we first talked about her supervising the Kid's meeting with his dad, has apparently had NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO domestic violence training. When I sent an email to ask about safety at the Kid's graduation, she told me that Kid's dad "seems like a nice family guy who would never hurt anyone". I then had to explain that they ALWAYS look like "nice family guys". That's their shtick. No one would sleep with them if they started out as violent asshats. Kid's dad is absolutely the kind of guy that friends and neighbors will describe as "such a nice guy, I could never imagine him doing that" to tv reporters when they find our dead bodies in his basement.

That's generally the kind of treatment DV victims get from people who are untrained. People who have been trained, like the judge who gave me full custody, and the social worker who did the family studies that recommended full custody and supervised visits, didn't fall for his bullshit. But Kid's counselor has no idea how to deal with shit other than try to discount my fear. There is a concrete history of physical abuse. Kid's dad was arrested and made a deal with the prosecutor for probation for stalking me. He has a criminal record for this shit. But still I am dealing with a dimwit who thinks nice family guys don't do this stuff.

Except that's exactly who does this stuff.