Posts Tagged ‘feminism


DSK, The Dodo, and The Destroyer of Worlds

I tend to harp on things I noticed as an ex-pat that I found superior to American things. Time for a reality check, though. There are a few things Americans do way better. Rap, punk, innovative art and writing and poetry and film…all of those things are things we do really, really well. OK, we often do them better than our neighbors across the pond. Ever heard French rap? It’s unbelievably silly-sounding.

Here’s something else we do better: we don’t do shit like this:

DSK’s Wife Voted France’s Most Admired Woman.

Ick. Nast.

I have never understood how it’s seen as courageous or admirable for women to stand by the men who routinely (and publicly) humiliate them. Because it’s not courageous. It would be courageous to tell them to fuck off and be a single mother. It would be admirable be to tell the world that, even though you find your husband’s personal behavior repugnant and inexcusable, maybe that shouldn’t reflect on his professional behavior. But excusing your husband’s behavior and staying with him? That’s not only weak-minded, but it reflects misandry in its purest form.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for a bit of misandry now and then. Lord knows the bit that lives in the darkest regions on my own psyche grew a thousand times the day my first child was born. While the scientist in me might think Valerie Solanas was technically accurate in some of her findings (if crazy as a shit-house rat in general)–and while I might understand the scientific argument detailing the innate and evolutionary biological imperative to spread seed far and wide–there are times when cold, hard science needs to be ever-so-subtly integrated into societal life. Like the H-bomb, for example: while it may be true (and kind of a cool idea) that one can harness, and then release, the power behind the strong nuclear force, maybe it’s not such a great idea.

So while it may seem I’m being a feminazi man-hater for saying these women who’ve been publicly humiliated should up and leave their husbands, I will argue that I am actually arguing on the pro-men side. Men are, after all, people, and not merely a collective of hormonal and instinctual imperatives derived from eons of nigh impossible living conditions. Living conditions right now may not be ideal (in that I can’t afford for everyone in the family to have a new iPad for Christmas), but they’re not like they were (in that I’m reasonably certain neither of my kids will be eaten by a large hungry beast in the next couple of hours). As such, the behavior borne from those conditions can be modified. And should, if we expect both genders to coexist happily.

To be clear: if you’re into polyamory, good for you. If you’re not, that’s fine too. But conditions of a relationship
should be outlined at its inception, and then respected and adhered to equally. This notion that self control and strong will can only manifest themselves when two X chromosomes are present is absurd on its face, and repugnant at its core. And if it’s not, then what’s the implication? If only one gender can evolve-and they’ve already taken on the bread-winning role inaddition to that of child caretaker–then Valerie Solanas was right: men will be outmoded in future generations.

Granted, it may be a jump to say that, because they think long-suffering wives are something to be admired, French women are subconsciously voting for men to be an evolutionary blunder akin to the Dodo. But it’s not a huge jump.


My Beef With Noted Meatsack, Sarah Palin

It takes something really, really crazy to inspire me to put aside my frantic job search and blog again. I guess, for the break, I should thank Sarah Palin. Instead, though, I just find myself getting angrier and angrier with her, almost to the point of irrationality. But then I realized: It’s rational, and it’s explicable, especially in my current situation.

Here’s the deal: I am about to be out of work. As a new mother, I am in the process of conducting a metric ton of interviews, in each of which I am forced to bargain with/promise/reassure employers. As far as we’ve come as a society in terms of equality in the workplace, the simple fact of the matter is the following: It’s much harder to get prospective (or new) employers to hire you if you are a woman with small children. Period.

And then along came Womenomics, which was such a light for me to shine in these dark interviews. Its claims that women make the workplace more efficient and profitable, and that they do so best when allowed to work as women with family as a priority…well, I can’t say how often I run those statistics over and over in my head while trying to convince employers that flex time is worthwhile.

But now Sarah Palin comes and fucks it up. Why? Because she is the absolute personification of every single bad stereotype about women, and working women, that exists. Let’s run down the list:

1. She’s vain
This one’s a big no-brainer (we’ll to that quality soon, ne’er you fear). A former beauty queen, this chick is the perfect picture of a narcissist. If you need more proof, check out her family photos, in which she always looks radiant, but her very pretty young daughters look alternately pregnant (before Bristol was) or otherwise…well, not so pretty.

2. She’s dumb
She’s so goddamned resistant to learning, this one, it veritably oozes from her pores. Her complete and utter lack of any sort of ability to assimilate information, along with her vocal insistence she shouldn’t have to (since she’s pretty…see above), is perhaps the quality most infuriating to smart women, and most reassuring to sexist fuckwits (hey, Sean Hannity!).

3. She’s emotional
Dear God, has there ever been a woman in public life who made such an emotional issue out of every perceived slight? I certainly can’t remember any public woman so vindictive and petty. To add to the stereotype, she staunchly refuses to use logical arguments against her enemies, preferring instead to snark at them in true Mean Girl fashion (i.e. “Hey, John Kerry, why the long face?” “We should keep Piper away from Letterman.” etc.). The inevitable tooth-sucking savoring-every-minute face she makes after each catty remark is one I haven’t personally witnessed since high school.

4. Private Life = Professional Life
No, I’m not just referring to her constantly trotting out her children as props (see point #1), although that doesn’t help. What I really mean is that, according to virtually all accounts, this woman doesn’t have a professional life apart from her husband and her buddies from high school. Todd attends Gubernatorial meetings and acts as her top advisor, which would be kind of romantic and cute were there anyone else involved in her decision-making. But, it seems like the buck stops with him, which leads me also to…

5. She can’t think for herself
Oh, sure, she can read a well-written speech, but, apart from a script, Palin always defers to someone else’s judgment on everything. Especially her husband’s. Which is just disgusting.

6. She’s impulsive
After the whole debacle with her accepting-then-cancelling-then-reaccepting-then-cancelling at the RNCC dinner, I hoped to God someone would pull her aside and alert her to the fact that she was acting like the worst kind of flighty schoolgirl. Instead of taking the myriad talking heads’ advice that she should just do her job reliably and well for a while, she…well, she opted to up and quit. Publicly. With no explanation. Then threatens to sue anyone who talks about it. *sigh*

In short: She is absolutely the worst version of anything with a vagina. The end.


We Get It: Rachel’s Not Getting Married

Awright, this isn’t the kind of blog I usually write, nor one I particularly want to write, but I think someone has to say it:

That’s enough, Jennifer Aniston.

You got dumped a while back.  For a smokin’ hottie with a heart of gold, a litter of kids, and a drawer full of sex toys.  I know, I know, how were you supposed to compete?

And now all anyone ever asks about/talks about/writes about is how you’re DYING to have a man and a baby of your very own.  You claim it’s unfair, and I feel you on that.  It’s got to suck to be unable to leave the house alone ever, lest the photogs catch you for that week’s installment of “Brangie and Family Frolic in the Sun; The Jen Stands Alone”.  So, yeah, I felt bad for you in that sense.

Plus, you seem nice enough.  You’re certainly a master of appealing to most American women in that middle-of-the-road non-threatening way I find simultaneously odious and fascinating.  So you’ve got that going for you.

But, come ON, now. You’re following up The Breakup and He’s Just Not That Into You with Baster???

Doing one of these would be funny and ironic, taking the piss out of those who thatsenoughjohnmayerclaim you’re a sad sack old maid. Two would mean your agent kind of hates you. But a movie about artificial insemination hot on the heels of your 40th birthday, when you’ve just been making the rounds saying you’re definitely not feeling the heat to have children, but are open to it someday? Really?

Now it all fits, though. You’re dating a well-known whore of a man-child whose sole purpose has to be to break your heart publicly (Why else would anyone go out with that douche? It ain’t musical talent, I’ll tell you that). And now you’re feeding the headlines you claim to hate, all so you can do more interviews about how sad you still aren’t, bask in female compassion, and spark yet more heated discussions on Jezebel about ZOMG how unfair it is that womyn in today’s society are only defined by who’s going or coming out of our vaginas!!1! (I’m paraphrasing, but that’s the gist)

So, yeah, I’m onto you. I get that a whole nation’s outpouring of sympathy has got to be almost narcotic. But it’s time to stop. It’s getting pathetic, this constant seeking-while-refusing said sympathy. There are actual miserable people in the world (I think your ex has either met or adopted most of them–bahZING!! I’ll be here all week! Try the veal!).


Spanish Women Don’t Get Fat Either

OK, this isn’t entirely true. In fact, according to the Spanish government, they’re also in the midst of an obesity epidemic, which I find adorable. It’s rather like when I lived through a “drought” in Louisiana, which, as far as I can tell, just meant the banana trees were wilting a bit. So, yes, there are heavy people here, but, really, nobody does fat on the same scale (wokka wokka!) as the Americans.

I read a really interesting (and mind-bogglingly thorough) book about the U.S. surge in ass size called Fat Land that made a lot of interesting points. Sure, class contributes (ever see a nice outdoor park in a poor neighborhood in the States?), the lobbying of farmers forced to produce corn with nowhere to sell it contributes (hello, omnipresent corn syrup! and your progeny, Type II Diabetes!), as does the lack of money for cafeterias in public schools, the marketing of junk food to children, enormous portion sizes, and TV/video-game-based lifestyles. The one thing I found most illuminating in the book (OK, the farmer part was really interesting also) was the different manner in which weight in treated in the U.S., as opposed to the rest of the world. Namely, Americans see weight as a social issue, and the rest of the world sees it as medical.

I saw this reflected in a not-so-good book I read while at my parents’ in Sydney (they’re Bryson fans, I’m a Sedaris fan, and nary the twain shall meet), called French Women Don’t Get Fat. While largely touting recipes for watercress soup in boring-to-too-flowery language, I did see the mentality that Fat Land mentioned reflected therein, most notably when the author comes home from living the the States for a few months to a father who hugs her, then tells her she “looks like a sack of potatoes” before getting a doctor to prescribe her the aforementioned watercress soup.

Sure, the French may be nastier about it (insert your favorite joke about snotty Frenchmen here), but the same thing happens here. One of my officemates just returned from a trip to Mexico to exclamations of, “Look how fat you got! You really like those chilaquiles, eh?” Nacho cool-o It wasn’t meant as an insult–or really even as a judgment one way or the other–but merely as a statement of fact and nothing more.

Begging for more examples? Well, certainly! Here ya go: I work at a university, and I tend to eat with mostly students. Teenage-to-early-twenty-something girls are the QUEENS of body talk, constantly wondering if they look too fat in their jeans, if they are too fat in general, or if that guy over there is noticing how much they’re eating. In that sense, eating in the cafeteria here has been sort of like eating in a cafeteria on another planet. I sit and listen to the girls talk about an upcoming beach vacation they’re taking. No talk of tans to cover cellulite, no freakouts about eating a big lunch a week before being seen in a bikini, no obligatory back-and-forth pumping the other up while cutting yourself down (“I’d kill for your tits.” “No, seriously, my tits are nothing compared to your legs. My legs are lumpy messes.”).

This may sound normal to most readers (with phalli), but to the women out there, I will be one million dollars this sounds bizarre. This is because, in spite of all the attention female-based media pays to body image issues, believe me, women talk about it amongst themselves much, much more. It’s subtle, but it’s definitely always there. And, since being here, I’ve been struck by the deafening silence where once was a constant stream of self-effacing comments.

I suppose I noticed the sudden silence because I was engaged in lots of weight-based conversations during my pregnancy. My grad student at the time (a voracious eater who will never even grow into a size 2–it is worth noting that none of the other girls here say anything envious about this fact, or really talk about it at all) told me all the time that she’d noticed I hadn’t gained much weight. I’d tell her I was eating plenty (obviously; we were at lunch at the time, which is a 3-course affair here), but maybe walking around the city was burning it off. She’d just shrug, say that was normal for some people, and start asking me about day trips I planned on taking with Luna once she was born (“You have to go to Toledo! Oh, and Sevilla!” The Spanish are obsessed with internal travel, and never ever ever miss and opportunity to promote it to foreigners).

The same thing happened after I gave birth. I’m currently about 15-20 lbs. lighter than I was That'll do, Pazpre-pregnancy in spite of not setting foot in a gym since we left Louisiana (a fact I’ve strategically hidden from friends in the States, for fear of my life). Here, my sudden shrinkage has evinced several comments, though they are always said with the same tone people use when they notice Luna’s constantly runny nose. They just notice it, in the hopes of being helpful, and then move on.

This is not to say that the Spanish are immune to tabloid talk about celebrity bodies. As I speak, the cover of one of the local gossip magazines (there are maybe 100) highlights the best bikini-clad asses in celebrity-dom. What they don’t show, however, is a “worst” for every “best,” or an exhaustive list of what foods to eat or not eat in order to achieve said ass. Instead, Paz Vega and her ilk are treated like pieces of fine art: They are admired, but not thought of as models to which everyone should aspire. Paz looks like Paz, so you don’t have to (if you will).

I’m not sure how to start extricating the stigma about weight talk from our culture or our vernacular, but I’m fairly sure it’ll be a process. In the meantime, I’m going to see if I can keep Luna away from all that silliness. With any luck, she’ll continue to react to me complaining about the cottage cheese on my ass the same way a dog looks at the TV (head cocked to the side, expression of bemusement playing upon her wee lips, wondering when I’ll get around to feeding her).



I know I’ve already “hated on” (as the kids say) David Denby’s idiotic book, Snark, but he was just on NPR defending it, and I feel that something he said in his book’s defense really needs to be noted.

In the interest of full disclosure, I should note that this account was written by another loyal Wonkette reader:

He stammers through not knowing [the author of the piece on Chelsea Clinton, whom he’d claimed was female] was a dude before going on to say that [Wonkette] is, “mostly written by women… and reflects the nasty, mean nature of snark” or words to that effect.

(I’ve gotten into the habit of saying “douche” in a particularly low-voiced, diaphragm-based way when I think the situation/outfit/person merits it, and this is how I’ve chosen to transcribe it. It’s not perfect, but I think it works.)They can't throw spirals either.

So, let me get this straight, Denby: You think that snark is factless, immoral, and mean. And that a site which you insist is mostly written by women (NB: Wonkette has only one female associate editor) evinces this perfectly. And, when confronted by your own factual error, you reiterate that you’re really right about this site being nasty, snarky…oh, and also that it’s written by women.

Have I covered it there? Anything else I should add? E-fucking-GADS, man, what a colosally DOOOOOSH-y thing to say. Is your ex-wife currently living in a house you pay for while she’s banging your best friend or something? And what in holy hell was going through your mind when you made that argument on NPR? Yikes, did you think their not-so-secret feminist base, bowing to your obvious knowledge of all things female and intellectual, would then run out and buy your stinking corpse of a book?

So, yeah, I think this asshat needs to be specTACularly canned, dragged through the streets naked, and violated in every orifice he has. And to show I’m not discriminating based on gender, I firmly believe the same should happen to the editors of one of the targets in his book, Jezebel, who still employ the idiot bitches who went on Lizz Winstead’s show, Thinking And Drinking, and, in the name of “edgy feminist humor,” said that there is no such thing as a woman being raped if she brings the guy home first, since you know she wanted it. So, truly, I am an equal opportunity wisher-of-horrible-fates. (I’m with Lizz Winstead, though: The worst part about that those flaps of skin at Jezebel is that their fan base rallied to their support. Had those things been said by anyone with a penis, I’m curious how they’d have reacted. Really, ladies, there’s nothing wrong with pointing to when one of us has done or said something really stupid. It doesn’t make you a traitor, but being an apologist for the inane remarks does make you complicit in them.)

Alright, I think I’ve exorcised the ol’ noggin demons now. *DEEP breath*


Maybe “Envy” Really Isn’t The Right Word…

Laura Bennett (of Project Runway fame; she was the awesomely stylish mother of a litter of boys who made the super-cute “100% Nuts” dress, among others, but I digress) has an interesting blog in The Daily Beast today.

Exactly How Are Men Superior?

While I’m sure it’s a good read, in and of itself (I dare not incur the wrath of a woman always so perfectly put together that I would feel impelled to call her “MISS Laura Bennett,” were I ever to meet her), it puts me in mind of a theory I had immediately after giving birth.

If brevity is the soul of wit, my description of giving birth will be hilarious: It is absolutely not a great experience. That said, the payoff is pretty amazing. Hormones, society, and necessity intertwine to make the newly-minted fruit of your loins need you in ways heretofore unimagined. If you’re the mother. If you’re the father, you are still an integral part of the daily life of the child (one would hope), but the connection is different.

I was thinking about this phenomenon this morning when my partner-in-geekdom was dropping off his toddler at the same daycare my baby attends. He reiterated his grudging acceptance of the fact that, even though he spends more time with his son than his wife does, the boy still clings to his mother as his savior, champion, and general be-all-and-end-all. And he’s not alone in feeling this way.

In this, the 200-year anniversary of Darwin’s birth, it is appropriate to blame evolution, so I will. As a multitude of pop-culture self-help books will tell us, human men have evolved to spread their seed, and human women to nurture it. We’ve all heard this tons of times, used it as excuses for bad behavior (hey, Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell!), and rejected it as irrelevant. And it is, up to a point.

Women are not hard-wired to stay at home and cook and clean. That’s fucking ludicrous. What we have evolved into, however, are single-bodied baby-caring machines: a house in which to grow, a way into the world, and the primary food source. That last part is especially important, since it is the reason we’ve evolved all sorts of fun toys: the hormones that cause the act of breastfeeding to bond mother and baby, the ability of a newborn to only see breast-face distance, the innate desire of a newborn to look for eyes and hold their gaze. Hell, breast milk is also an antibiotic (tell me that was just an accident, Sarah Palin). This is all by way of saying that women have evolved to be able to physically create a toddler without any outside influence.

It occurred to me that this must be frustrating, to say the very least, for new dads. How unbelievably awful to be confronted with the notion that a crazed nut like Valerie Solanas may have had a point. Maybe she was right in her “research” that noted that men were going to be evolved out of the species entirely in the future, deemed as a footnote to a new matriarchal rule. To be assaulted by nagging little doubts about your own relevance as a gender while simultaneously being forced to reassure a sobbing, sleep-deprived, hormonal mess that she will eventually fit into her favorite jeans again…well, that’s just adding insult to injury.

Putting myself in a new dad’s shoes, I suddenly understood the excessive need I would feel to voice my own relevance. Really, I get it: the urge to say you are absolutely necessary to the world, if only because the species-perpetuator over there is…erm, well I bet she sucks at math.  And basketball.  And she knows absolutely dick about allen wrenches.

This is not meant to be an excuse for misogyny, but I think I finally understand its genesis. Which, for a physics geek like me, means I can wrap my mind around it and deal with it.*


*This is all by way of saying I think Freud’s a douche.  Never trust a cokehead to level with you about anything.