Archive for the 'Rants' Category

27
Mar
08

What I needed from Hillary…

Tonight marks the first moment where I am seriously considering becoming an Obama supporter. Sure, I looked enviously at my peers who seemed enamored by the boy-wonder and wished, every now and then, to feel the same for HRC. But for the most part, I was ok with the fact that she didn’t really rile me up, she just felt like a good, solid choice.

But something has changed. Hillary, what happened?

What’s with the dirty tactics? The snide remarks? The we’re-really-not-that-different-but-I’m-better-and-besides-it’s-my-turn? I was ok with not being ecstatic or enamored with your campaign, but when I started to get that queasy sinking feeling I had to question things a bit deeper.

When the campaigns first started I was excited about the prospect of a heated battle. And then, I was enraged. I found it infuriating how you were treated differently and unfairly because of your gender. How it was simply a-ok to air a woman calling you a “bitch” (it came from another WOMAN, much to the TV network’s delights!) and to have people completely discount your accomplishments as simply a way to catch up to your hubby. I looked on admiringly and thought about how well you had kept your composure (throughout all of those messes), how you’d raised a successful and confident daughter, and how (I’ll admit it was a bit delightful) men seemed to fear you. I thought, here it is, we are finally ready, we can finally do this. Women deserve this.

But then…

The articles and op-ed pieces trickled in. Obama is the preferred candidate overseas…Obama presents a clear economic plan…Obama has the power to bring people to the polls…and, even as the commentary started pouring in I thought, meh, O-blah-ma.

But dammit I want to feel excited. I want to feel that my interpretation of patriotism is taking hold. I want to feel that something NEW and exciting is happening in our country, that we are getting out of the rut of the same-ol-same-ol. I’m not naive enough to think that Obama is a complete 180, I know better than that. He has, after all, been successful in a very flawed system, no doubt by figuring out how to use that system to his advantage. I needed to see that in you.

And no, I’m not talking about how I needed you to be a more “personable” and “soft” woman. I find it tremendously convoluted that you’ve had to simultaneously denounce your femininity, project your masculinity, embrace your femininity, and deny your masculinity all at once. It’s exhausting to be a powerful woman, clearly. But Hil, I think I wanted you to just come out and say it. I think I wanted you to fearlessly have a heart-to-heart with us, I wanted you to say, “You know what, this is bullshit.” “I’m a woman, a mother, a politician, a wife, a hard-worker, an upper class Manhattanite, and a ball-buster.” “If you elect me, this is what you get.” Hil, I didn’t want to see you revert to the old tactics. Don’t you know? This is a new campaign, a new generation of voters, that stuff just won’t fly.

Of course, I want to honor the hard-working feminist women who came before me, those who worked tirelessly so that I can sit here and freely blog about these topics, advocate for emergency contraception, attend any school I want and, hell, even vote! And I thought to myself, how could I not vote for you? How could I slap my foremothers in the face like that? But you know what? I expect more from our first woman president, perhaps more than I expect from any male president. Maybe that’s not fair, I don’t know. But I want her to be someone I can really be proud of, someone who has put up with years of shit (as I know you have) and says “I’m not gonna play that way.” Someone with the ovaries to really risk it all for what she believes in. Someone who was willing to have faith in a country who, clearly, was not ready for her.

Was that too much to ask?

The reality is that it doesn’t much matter what I think (in terms of votes). My voting days in the primaries are long past, and I get to just watch as things unfold. No matter who wins, I’ll support them. I’m certainly not foolish enough to think that somehow 4 years of McCain is any sort of viable alternative. And the truth is, I’m not sure I’m at a point where I can get ecstatic for Obama (I often felt shamed by the Obamanites and just can’t shake that). I guess I feel left out in the cold. And I’m wondering how many other intelligent, hard-working, loving, emotional, firebrand, battle-axe, what-have-you women are out there feeling the same way…?

~LRC

(ps. yes, the image is supposed to be ironic, mkay?)

(pps. i’d also like to add that i think it is truly incredible that this election has caused this much strife over who to support. maybe it’s good, maybe it’s bad. i don’t know. but in the past it has just felt like we all voted for the least evil and then went about our business. at least this has been exciting. and tremendously thought provoking. that’s what we’ve been waiting for, ya?)

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24
Jan
08

What this ad is really saying: Episode 3 (No F*&#ing comment!)

22
Jan
08

Blogging for Choice: 35 Years of Roe v. Wade

Roe turned 35 today. Will it make it to 50? 75? I can only hope so. In honor of the 35th anniversary of the decision a number of bloggers joined NARAL’s Blogging for Choice campaign. The assignment was simple: blog about why voting Pro-Choice is important to you.

First of all, I wish that so many things in life were not presented in binary terms. If one is pro-choice then they can’t be pro-life, you’re either with us or against us — you get the idea. It is a classic rhetorical trick and one that was exemplified to a disturbing degree in the last presidential election (Kerry questioned some policies and therefore was a flip-flopper). What I REALLY hate about it is that it forces an often uneducated choice about an issue and doesn’t allow for any sort of reflection or reconsideration of the issues. Critical reflection and the freedom to change one’s mind is integral to civic responsibility, in my opinion. But that’s not the point of this post. The point is to talk about why I’m pro-choice.

The answer is really fairly simple: I believe in having control over your body and what takes place within it. Bottom line.

An entire literature about the experience of embodiment exists, from experiences of performances (acting, singing) to experiences of emotion (happiness, rage), to experiences of disease (cancer, injury), to experiences of body modification (tattooing, piercing). In terms of the former, the occurrences within one’s body are considered paramount to identity. The way we view and understand our bodies is integral and inseparable from how we understand our self and our position in society. When we experience an injury or disease to our body we are often forced to face our own mortality or learn to understand our body and it’s strengths/limitations in new ways. For the latter, body modification has often been seen as a resistance movement or a reclaiming of one’s body against some form of oppression. The power to exert change on the body is perhaps the greatest and most central (in terms of the self) power of all.

Thus, a woman’s power to control what occurs in her body is, to me, central to her own understanding of her self and her way of positioning herself in society. The changes that occur in her body during pregnancy are not fleeting, the emotional experience does not disappear after nine months, the responsibility of a life (if she so chooses) continues indefinitely. For all of these reasons (and many more) it should not be in the power of anyone else to EVER make that decision for her. It is her body, it should be her decision.

In high school government class I remember my instructor saying that so much of our understanding of rights comes down to a simple phrase: “your rights end where mine begin.” I think that applies to this issue. You have the right to free speech, the right to protest against abortion, the right to vote for whichever candidate you want, the right to assemble, etc. But I have the right to make decisions about my body. And your rights (to stop me) end where my right (to retain the power) begin.

That’s my philosophical argument. But I also vote pro-choice because of the following terrifying examples of men who will NEVER understand what it means to be a woman, what it means to run the risk of getting pregnant, what it means to weight career options and timing in terms of having children, what it means to bleed every month. I don’t expect them to TRULY understand, how could they? But I do expect them to trust me, or at least respect me, enough to allow me to retain control over the one thing in life that I can call mine, no matter what: my body.

(Note: All of the clips below can be found on Media Matters, you can also click the image to follow the link to the full story)

Lest I give too much space on my blog to terrifyingly ignorant conservative men, the following images are from one kick-ass woman who understands how women’s bodies are treated in America:


And FINALLY, I’m pro-choice because I’m not naive enough to think that making abortion illegal will actually prevent abortions from occurring. Instead, my fear is that restricting abortion will disproportionately effect young women and women in lower socioeconomic positions who do not have the social supports or social/fiscal capital that will allow them to receive the adequate, informative, and caring attention they need.

Restriction out of fear and ignorance will get us no where and will do more to harm the women who need care the most. Educating young women and men about responsible sexual practices will do far more to prevent unintended pregnancy and ultimately limit the amount of women who must face this difficult decision.

16
Jan
08

Leave Scrabulous Alone, Bitches!

Update: There are a number of “Save Scrabulous” Facebook Groups that you can join. Try this one…or these.

Oh my sweet goodness, I am just beside myself with fear over the fate of my newly beloved past time. I’ve currently got 12 active games going, I’ve won 7, lost 4, I track my stats, I watch my rank go up and down, I struggle for the ever elusive Bingo…I’m in LOVE! Don’t take it away from me!

Hasbro, those megalomaniacal gamers (ahem, BOARD gamers) have sent letters to facebook asking them to remove Scrabulous because it infringes upon their copyright.

NOOOOOOO!!! Please don’t take it away. Please Please Please. C’mon yo, it’s free advertising, and is probably getting more people into Scrabble than ever before. In my 22 games alone I’ve learned a new appreciation for the art of scrabble and have even considered purchasing a fancy schmancy wooden version of the original to have at home (you know, when JPR and I aren’t playing on separate computers 5 feet apart from one another). But seriously…people are excited…excited about WORDS!

WORDS! Aren’t we all lamenting about the downfall of a society constantly inundated with preggers celebs and exposed va-jay-jays?

C’mon Hasbro…for the betterment of humankind, get off it.

14
Jan
08

Late Night Surfing: Allergic to…Penis?

At 2:34 in the morning the last thing any of us needs to be doing is perusing conservative/religious right websites. It is certainly the last thing I ought to be doing…or ought only to be doing with a glass of tennessee mash on the rocks to accompany me. Sadly, there’s no No.7 in my apartment and I’m surfing with only the aide of some yummy cupcakes JPR baked.

I’m trying to remember how I even arrived at these pages. Oh yes, it all started with an attempt to put a new profile on my oft-neglected-in-favor-of-facebook myspace page. Somehow I was looking through my friends and saw the “We’re Not Backing Down” photo on NARAL’s page. From there, I googled the WNBD campaign run by NARAL to see what the latest was, and then I found the following disturbing sites. Actually, no, I found MANY disturbing sites, but I’ll highlight two because it’s about all I can handle.

First things first. I have a handful of conservative friends (shocker!) that I love dearly. I have no beefs with conservatism or religiosity when they are arrived at in an intellectual manner. What I have a major problem with is parroting — as in people just mouthing off in totally ignorant ways.

Second things second. As a background note, the WNBD campaign was begun as a “photo petition” led by NARAL-Pro-Choice America as a response to the lack of support in Congress for a bill that would repeal the Global Gag Rule. More info on that will follow, but I know that right now you want the juicy stuff.

1) Exhibit A: Liberals are Fugly (and we’re so smart that’s the only argument we can come up with)

When googling for the WNBD campaign I came across a number of sites criticizing the campaign and NARAL in general. But one, in particular, piqued my interest. It offered viewers a chance to provide captions to some of the WNBD photos. The approximately 145 submitted photos can be viewed publicly on Flickr, but these individuals downloaded the photos and offered them up to their readers to provide such witty captions as:

“They look like they’re allergic to penis”

“Is this an advert for NARAL or the local dog show? (Nah, dogs are MUCH better looking)”

“They look like thay can’t back anywhere…without the reverse warning signal (beep, beep, beep) going off.”

“Maybe it’s just my opinion, but as ugly as most of them are, I’m surprised they can find a guy to sleep with them in the first place.”

“Most of them are probably man hating lesbians.”

Wow. If I had a nickel for every time a woman making an argument, or hell, just a woman existing, was debased because of her appearance. What an original tactic! And SO smart! But what really gets me going is that these captions are in response to the campaign, which is aimed at raising awareness about the GGR. So, one of the commentators, who actually feigns intelligence, comments that NARAL supports genocide and that women supporting this (I assume, I can’t really follow the logic) are supporting genocide across the world.

Sidebar, your honor? The GGR is essentially a rule that pulls ALL US aid from foreign NGOs that provide family planning services across the world if they use any of their funding to provide abortions, provide information about places to get abortions, or lobby to make abortion illegal for cases other than rape/incest/health of the mother. The kicker is that let’s say an NGO receives 25% of their funding for family planning services (including such basic services as annual exams, pap smears, and birth control) from the US and the other 75% from private foundations. If they allocate ANY of the money to educate about or provide abortions (perhaps a portion of the 75% that doesn’t come from the US) then they lose ALL US funding. In a nutshell, the gag rule (so named for its power over limiting free speech) does far more to HURT women than it does to help them. There’s a very useful website documenting the impact of the rule here.

So, these captioneers missed the point. Completely. It’s not about abortion, it’s an argument about moral relativism and whether the US (i.e. the Bush administration) has the right to pull funding for a clinic that provides a wide variety of necessary and essential services for providing or even educating about abortion.

But, believe it or not, it gets worse.

2) Exhibit B: The KKK was bad but…

I’m seriously getting repulsed even writing about this. One of the commentators on the aforementioned captioning site offered up this *fascinating* website through the oh-so-creative segue abortions-kill-more-americans-than-terrorists line of argument: www.religionofpeace.com. Sounds like an ok site, right? Turns out, this site is masquerading as an anti-terrorist site (which is all well and good) but turns out breeding far more hate and ignorance than anything I’ve seen in quite some time. While perusing the “about this site” in order to try and figure out what the hell was going on on that webpage I came across this gem in the description: “For Westerners and others who ask, “Who are Muslims and why do they want to kill me?” we hope to provide answers. “

The site also provides a “Jihad Tracker” that actively tallies people killed in the name of Islam. The entire thing is beyond disturbing. They also draw comparisons to the number of people killed by the KKK and the Spanish Inquisition as if to say, yeah, that was bad, but THIS is really bad.

Apparently, relativism is the running theme for both of these sites. “What we do might be bad, but what you do is way worse.”

Oh, I’m left with nothing to do but tug at my hair and lay my head down from sheer exasperation. Ignorance may be bliss, but what do we do when ignorance is lethal?

08
Jan
08

There’s Something About Hillary

Well, as I write this, votes are being counted in New Hampshire in a very important primary. I’m really not sure who I support as the democratic candidate, it’s true. And since by the time the primaries make it to FL it doesn’t really matter all that much I admit I don’t feel that pressured to make a decision.

My rather uneducated opinion is that we need someone with experience, a truly skilled politician to begin to clean up the mess. My hunch is that Hil has more experience in terms of how the presidency actually works than the others, and while I don’t particularly agree with all of her decisions, I think she is probably the best person for the job. Eight years of Hil followed by 8 of Obama might begin to get the country back on track.

But that’s not what this post is supposed to be about. No, the idea for this post began a few weeks ago, just before the holidays, when JPR and I were walking along Steinway St. <insert dreamy music and swirl/fade back into time to set the scene>…Yes, we stopped into the Rite Aid so I could pick up travel size bottles and happened to see a Hillary doll. Upon pressing the doll’s hand, Hillary begins to bobble around and sing to the tune of “My Country Tis of Thee” — however, the Hil version goes something like “My name is Hillary, First broad of liberty, of thee I sing…Land where my husband lied, and I stood right by his side…”. You get the idea.

Now, upon hearing the first “broad” of liberty line my jaw dropped. But what I found more appalling was that she is clearly identified by her husband’s misconduct, and berated for her decision to stay with him. I’m sorry, but last time I checked the conservatives were all about upholding the sanctity of marriage. It seems like Hil’s decision to keep her home intact and practice that fine Christian art of forgiving should have warranted her a bit more credit, rather than discredit. In case you want the full effect, I was able to find a video of the doll on YouTube.

Now, fast forward to today. D-berg sent me an Op-ed article from NYTimes by Gloria Steinem. I’d read Steinem’s brief comments on a Salon.com article where she expressed her support for Hillary. But in this Op-ed piece she reflects on the recent defeat of Hil in Iowa and the astounding success of Obama. She points out that the gender issue is something the country has not gotten over as much as it would like. In true Steinem style, she begins the article with a reversal of gender (if you haven’t seen her piece lambasting Freud’s theories I recommend it, flawed as it may be) to make us aware of the glaring double standards that exist in our society. She describes Obama to the letter, but presents the characteristics as pertaining to a woman, not a man. What she’s trying to get us to see is that our gut reaction is probably to NOT vote for this person, who is essentially the same as Obama, but a woman.

The part I like most about this article is her discussion of the polarizing and unifying forces present in the elections (and in society in general, for that matter). While Obama’s race is, for the most part, a unifying factor, Hil’s gender seems to be quite divisive. I’m reminded of the amazing comment made at a McCain rally where a woman stood up, grabbed the mic, and asked McCain, point blank, “How do we beat the bitch?” During this entire election I have been quite disturbed about the polarizing nature of gender. I haven’t really been able to put a finger on it, but I think Steinem describes it quite well in her article. Why is it ok to obsess about Hil’s physical appearance? her emotional displays (which, frankly, I deeply admired)? her “bitchiness”?

Of course, Steinem doesn’t discuss the inherent advantages that Hil has had as a white woman in the United States. Yes, as one commenter points out, white women have had an unspoken agency that far surpasses the agency of black men throughout history. I think this is an equally valid avenue to investigate, but that’s not the point of Steinem’s article. The point is to draw awareness to the double standard that women are subject to, and to point out how we can see this still occurring on a national scale in the 21st century. That’s the point. However, as Broadsheet points out, she is in danger of creating a competition between “who’s got it worse” — and I think that’s just the kind of counterproductive writing we DON’T need right now. But when discussing race and gender, and class and sexuality for that matter, as well as other -isms, that is always a danger. And I think it is important to realize that we can critically examine one issue, gender in this example, and that shouldn’t mean we are negating or disregarding the others. We’ve got to be able to critically examine how our identities influence our situated experience in the world, bottom line.

I found the reader comments to be even more interesting and informative than the article, as I often do with online articles. Supporters and critics came out in full force (last I checked there were 533 comments) regarding Steinem’s article, and I think they really represent the struggle that we still face around BOTH race and gender.

So, agree or not with Steinem, race and gender are at the forefront of these elections, and they are operating on individuals in ways that we can spend years struggling to understand. But it just seems that there’s something about Hillary that really gets people going in a way that hasn’t really existed since…Janet Reno? I don’t know.

Now, it’s off to do some reading and then turn on the tube and get the preliminary results from NH…

Hil gets verklempt…

04
Jan
08

What this ad is really saying: Episode 2 (“Sex Sells….Beanbags!”)

You know, traveling without the internet really forces you to go back to those “older” mediums, like print. I had a nice stash o’ magazines with me on my travels and that provided an awful lot of fodder for this recurring series.

These two ads appeared separately in the classified section of Wired magazine. One on each side of the page.

Here’s what they say to me:

Dudes: Do you like chilling out comfortably on some plushy bean-filled furniture? Then this is the deal for you! Kick back, relax, plug in that Xbox and settle in for an evening of total veg out fun. Wasssup!

Dudettes: Do you like straddling beanbag furniture? Love to give your best “come-hither” look no matter where you are? Wouldn’t messing around on a bean bag just be like, so way cool?!?! You know you weren’t even thinking about chillaxing on this baby, no no no, it’s all how sexay you can look on a pile of styrofoam beans and fake suede. Rrrarrrr baby!

beanbagboybeanbaggirl

I’m just sayin’.




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