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Archive for the ‘I Respectfully disagree’ Category

Here are the mittens, all done. I’ve been walking around with sweaty hands for about two weeks, since it’s been quite warm but I insist upon wearing them anyway. You know how you see little kids wearing cat ears and tails and vampire costumes to school because they’re so excited about having them, even though they’re obviously impractical? I’ve been doing a less conspicuous, more grown-up version of that with these mittens.

Anyway, this isn’t really a knitting update, so much as a knitting-related story, but I’ll tell it anyway. So last week, I sent an email to the woman I bought the mitten materials and pattern from to let her know that I had trouble with the pattern. It wasn’t a complaint, exactly. It was unsolicited feedback. So when my parents were visiting this weekend, I mentioned to my mom that I had sent unsolicited feedback about a product to someone. She’s always trying to get me to be more assertive, so she was oh so proud to hear it.

Then I ran to get the mittens, and both my parents immediately tore into them. Oh! Ug! How are you supposed to get your hand in there with all the fuzzy stuff!? One of the thumbs is shorter than the other, and they’re both comically plump! The tops are ridiculously pointy! They’re the color of oatmeal! They spent like 10 minutes listing, in horrified voices, all the ways in which the mittens were flawed and emitting sounds of displeasure at having come into contact with them. Also, they laughed, oh how long and hard did they laugh.  My roommate and I sat there in stunned silence, since traditionally parents at least try to be enthusiastic about things that their children have produced, even if they are weird, roughly-hewn, pointy mittens with huge thumbs. (more…)

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Luckily for men, their continued access to female bodies has been upheld in court, again. This is from the Feminist Majority’s Feminist Daily News Wire:

Oklahoma’s Court of Criminal Appeals ruled that taking pictures up someone’s skirt in a public place is not a crime. The court voted 4-1 in favor of 34-year-old Riccardo Ferrante who was arrested for putting his camera up an unsuspecting 16-year-old girl’s skirt in a department store, reports the Associated Press.

Ferrante was charged under Oklahoma’s “Peeping Tom” statute, which makes such offenses felonies punishable of up to 5 years in prison. Tulsa World reports that the court ruled that the statute only applies in situations where the victims are in a reasonably private place such as their own homes, a restroom, or a locker room.

The Associate Press piece says, “testimony indicated he followed the girl, knelt down behind her and placed the camera under her skirt.” I suppose it’s a relief to the women of Oklahoma that men are NOT allowed to do something like that to them when they are in locker rooms, bathrooms, or their own homes. I fail to understand, though, why that sort of assault become acceptable once you enter a public space.

Actually, I do understand it. The understanding of women’s bodies as public property, present primarily for the pleasure of any man who can be bothered to shuffle out into the daylight, is being institutionalized here by the Oklahoma Court of Appeals. The responsibility for not being grabbed, ogled, harrassed, what-have-you,  continues to lie on the shoulders of women, and woe be to any woman who dares step into the public realm, where consent is implied because of her mere presence there.  It’s a way of keeping uppity bitches in line, and the examples of the great expertise men use in applying it never cease to amaze.

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Our senior year in college, everyone fell in love with Lorrie Moore. I read her books too but didn’t really get into them, which secretly made me worry that maybe I was not quite edgy enough to get her or something. That may still be true, but I read her moronic op-ed piece in the New York Times this weekend, and now I feel a little smug about never jumping on the Lorrie Moore train. Like I could tell from the get-go that her analytical skills were lacking, which is why I didn’t think her story about a baby with cancer was so hilarious.

In “Last Year’s Role Model,” Moore starts off by outlining the ways in which the Bill Clinton administration wasn’t that awesome. Fine.  That whole argument appears to be a warm-up or something, because it’s pretty unrelated to the rest of the piece and to her main point, which is that because things are harder for black boys than white girls, we should vote for Obama, not Clinton. She says:

The political moment for feminine role models, arguably, has passed us by. The children who are suffering in this country, who are having trouble in school, and for whom the murder and suicide rates and economic dropout rates are high, are boys — especially boys of color, for whom the whole educational system, starting in kindergarten, often feels a form of exile, a system designed by and for white girls.

First off, “feminine” role models? I’m not entirely sure what she means by that, but I think it’s “female.” That aside, I think most reasonable people agree by now that analysis of Clinton and Obama that centers around whether women or black men are worse off is pretty pointless and reductive. Itemizing and weighing the hardships that people face because of the ways in which they diverge from the way our society understands full humans to be (which is white, male, able-bodied, rich breeders) is nothing but a continuation of that system. 

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Cosmopolitan.com offers “The 13 Best Relationship Tips Ever!” In this critical piece of online journalism, “the country’s top love experts offer up their best advice – for free!” When I happened this headline, I’ll admit that no one had to twist my arm to force me to read this article. I like advice. All types of advice. And as my friends can attest, I have limitless energy for dissecting and analyzing romantic relationships. However, unsurprisingly, this feature only supported my belief that Cosmo and other women’s magazines somehow, inexplicably, have made a business out of selling women advice that they do not need. Women don’t need this advice either because – as in so many cases – it is so simplistic it could have been offered by a monkey, or because it is downright harmful. The advice offered by “professionals” in this Cosmo article falls into both categories.

The article begins, “Beginning a relationship is generally the easy part; it’s maintaining the connection that gets a little tricky.” Ok, get ready for advice about maintaining a connection in your relationship:

1. Act Out of Character
Couples develop a particular dynamic: the way they relate to each other that repeats itself over and over. If you break that pattern and act against type — in a positive way — you inject new life into the relationship. For example, if you always get angry at your guy when he doesn’t follow through on some chore, try addressing him in a nicer, more friendly tone, then thank him when he does a good job. It works every time.
—Toni Coleman, psychotherapist and relationship coach in McLean, Virginia

Ok, this is probably good advice from a basic social-skills perspective, but the example given is crap. Don’t be such a bitch when your hubbie doesn’t do his chores! Act out of character and be nicer and more friendly.

2. Get in Touch a Lot
No doubt you hug and kiss each other hello and maybe snuggle a little after having sex. But simple acts like stroking his arm while you’re watching TV, taking his hand when you’re walking down the street, or fondling his thigh during dinner are also ways to bond. Touching your partner throughout the day triggers your feel-good hormones, which reinforces your affection and makes you feel closer on an instinctive level.
—Psychotherapist Barton Goldsmith, PhD, author of Emotional Fitness for Couples

Ok, again, this isn’t so bad. Barton advises you to fondle your boyfriend’s thigh during dinner. I mean, gross. But, moving on… (more…)

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A few days ago, I posted some thoughts about Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. It was primarily a response to a blog post, written by a former member of the military, on the same topic. I also posted an abbreviated version of my post on the original blog’s “comments” section. The author responded. Here is her response, and then my response to her:

These are all wonderful, insightful comments. Thanks.

Emily, unfortunately space didn’t allow for me to provide you with the historical content that supports my hypothesis about other marginalized groups. I wrote about 110 pages in graduate school on this specific topic. You might feel differently if you read it. If you email Fannie and she says your safe to email, I’ll send the paper to you. It’s kind of boring but definitely supports my point.

There are two points I would disagree with in your statement. First, women are not “routinely raped”. Like any other profession there is harassment maybe even a little extra harassment but not routine rapings. I would never have stayed if that were the case.

Second, the military is a good option for many folks of various demographics. You will find the group that joins the most are middle class citizens not minorities and poor people. I can’t tell you how I know but please take my word for it when I tell you that recruiters target everyone not specific minorities or socio-economic levels. You are correct, it is coercive…however, we like to call it appealing to the dominant buying motive.

My response:

Gravatar Hi Anonymous – I would love to read your thesis, and I think Fannie can give you my email address. I really want to address a few things you stated in your comment. You said that women in the military are not routinely raped and harassed. I understand that you weren’t personally harassed or assaulted during your service, but there is overwhelming evidence that women in the military are sexually assaulted and harassed at a rate far exceeding the rate for, say, teachers, or lawyers, or bartenders. (more…)

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Did anyone hear the npr commentary that was part of All Things Considered on December 31? It was by Amy Stewart, and it was called “It’s Time for ‘Locavores’ to Shut Up and Eat.” Ah, sounds like a straight-shooter!  I wonder how delightfully *refreshing* this take on local food is going to be!

Basically, she rambles on for a while (with the occasional interruption so she can chuckle at how very sly and witty she’s being) about how sick she is of hearing about local food, and seeing articles and books about it, and watching celebrity chefs take trips to farmers markets. Fine. Then:

Our obsession with local food has gone far enough. We’ve heaped all our fears and anxieties onto the dinner plate. Climate change, globalization, agrichemicals, animal rights, food insecurity. These are heavy burdens to place on a lettuce leaf.

Well, I have to agree with her there. I also think that agrichemicals, climate change, the consolidation of our food supply, failing family farms, and degradation of our land are very troubling factors to have to have to take into account when grocery shopping. However, what she somehow missed is that it’s not the local food advocates that created the link between our deranged, poisonous food system and the food that we eat. All those Big Global Problems are already contained within our food- most of us just managed to remain blissfully unaware until recently. She ends the piece with:

I’d like to go back to consuming my food, rather than letting it consume me. Next year, I think that we should all just shut up and eat.

This completely reminds me of the little trick that anti-feminists and racists and other assholes love to play when confronted with the suggestion that their thinking or behavior is wrong-headed. Comments like, “well, I just don’t know when it became a problem to give my secretary a friendly tap on the ass,” or “When I was a kid, we all called each other names, and no one minded. And now we can’t call them spics?” fall into this category. It’s when people use the symptoms of the tangle of really troubling, evil systems in which we live as evidence of those systems not existing, or not being problematic. Homophobia didn’t become a problem with Stonewall , racism didn’t become a problem when race riots started to erupt, and our food system didn’t become problematic when The Omnivore’s Dilemma came out. (Well, we haven’t rioted for local food yet.) You aren’t allowed to smugly announce that the cracks in our world just don’t apply to you because you’re sick of hearing about them, and doing so is not evidence of being superclever and cutting. It’s evidence of being a douche.

You probably don’t want to hear the entire piece, because you can hear her slobbering all over herself the entire time. Plus, I don’t know how to make pretty little links.

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This morning, I came across a friend’s blog post about the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell law. In this post, the writer discusses the conflict between her desire to serve her country, and her anger and disappointment that she, as a lesbian, is not entitled to full rights in this country (I suppose she means marriage). The writer suggests actions to take to help repeal the DADT law, and argues that getting rid of DADT will effectively “kill two birds with one stone,” by allowing patriotic gays to serve their country, and bringing gay people as a group closer to equality.

I disagree that repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell will bring LGBTQ people closer to equality. First of all, I am not entirely sure that full participation in the military has had a substantial effect on the advances made by marginalized groups, but I have no evidence to offer to the contrary, so I’ll leave that part alone. I do think that the fact that racial minorities are so well-represented in the military is evidence of how, in many cases, the military is exploitative. When poor or minority kids decide to join the military because it is the most appealing option (they can’t afford college or technical school, can’t find a job, etc.) there is a coercive element there. So, rather than being evidence of progress on the part of the military, the overrepresentation of poor and minority young people joining the military says, to me, that the military takes advantage of our current systems of inequality. Women in the military are routinely raped and harassed – I’m not sure that their mere presence in the military is, in and of itself, evidence of progress for women. As Claire pointed out, minorities and women are pretty well-represented in some civilian jobs, too, but no one thinks of, say, the hospitality industry as being really foward-thinking and fair because of the diversity of their employees.

But really, I think “should gays be allowed to serve openly in the military?” is probably the wrong question to ask. It makes me wonder, what is equality? Is it something that is achieved by participating in the military? This is an institution that, as a woman, a queer person, or even just as a citizen, I find problematic on so many levels. I abhor our nation’s foreign policy as much as I hate the systematic racism and classism that keeps middle-class white americans in a position of power (and that leaves 18 year olds with no better option that to join the military and participate in our nation’s ridiculous wars). Also, I see the misogynist, macho culture of the military (not to mention the colonialist tinge to our foreign policy) as part of the same system that creates homophobia. So, is equality to be had by participating the military? To me, it’s not an obvious “yes.”

Also, “don’t ask, don’t tell” as a policy brings to light the problems with categorizing lgbtq people as marginalized or part of a minority group in the way that we commonly think of marginalized / minority groups (as in race, gender). You can serve in the military if you’re gay, you just can’t tell anyone that you’re gay. The very fact that it is possible to hide your sexual orientation makes it a whole different can of worms that is not obviously analogous to race or gender. Instead of asking, “should we repeal dadt?”, maybe we should ask, What is the military’s role in our society? Who joins the military, and why? As a society, are we comfortable with that answer? Other questions that come to mind are, What is a marginalized sexual identity and how is it similar to and different from other marginalized identities? What institutions, systems, and beliefs contribute to the oppression of marginalized people? I think, in exploring answers to these questions, we can bring all marginalized people closer to full equality.

I agree that don’t ask, don’t tell is a weird, lame policy that doesn’t even come close to solving the problems it was intended to solve, and it’s definitely evidence of homophobia, but I think it’s really just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to problems with the military, and I’m not sure that full inclusion for openly gay people in the military is a goal that will bring all queer people closer to equality.

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