Peanut, Peanut Butter And Jelly

I shouldn’t be surprised by the fact that in my life the most right-wing group is Parents of my Friends.

My friends are largely white people who grew up in Not-NYC (my pet name for the part of America west of the Hudson River) and left their family to come here. It makes sense that the families they left behind might be… behind.

I love this video for it’s simplicity.

But also for it’s implication that this video is for the parents of adults. Because they need help.

Rights, Sanity

Feminism Weakening Men

I found these at Sociological Images.

I don’t know what I can really say about them other than that women gaining the right to vote did not end up weakening men.

Oh the horror.

This trope is one we see trotted out again and again.

It is based on fear.


“True gender equality is actually perceived as inequality. A group that is made up of 50% women is perceived as being mostly women. A situation that is perfectly equal between men and women is perceived as being biased in favor of women.
And if you don’t believe me, you’ve never been a married woman who kept her family name. I have had students hold that up as proof of my “sexism.”
My own brother told me that he could never marry a woman who kept her name because “everyone would know who ruled that relationship.” Perfect equality – my husband keeps his name and I keep mine – is held as a statement of superiority on my part.”

– Lucy, When Worlds Collide: Fandom and Male Privilege.


Friendship, Guest post, Rights, Sanity

Guest Post – Throw Up Your Arms Into The Sky

From a brilliant and understandably upset friend of mine.  Just a reminder that the topics we address here and in the real world have real consequences to real people and we have to remember to be considerate:

I have friends who I disagree with. About a lot of things, in fact. From Middle East policy to programming languages, taxes to burrito joints, there are people who I argue with, who I get in discussions with, and who I value.

Some days, I’ll fight and argue about this stuff. On some topics, I won’t. I’m not interested in your theories on gay rights, in your debate tactics and points and counterpoints, because this isn’t an intellectual exercise, “these are my relationships,” I would say, “this is the part where my boss doesn’t meet my partner.” That’s a line in the sand that I’ve been willing to draw.

But for the first time with one of these friends, for one of these arguments, I’m considering calling it a day. I’m reminded of Melissa McEwan’s “The Terrible Bargain We have Regretfully Struck” where she speaks the truth, in a way that I feel again and again every time I read it.

There are the occasions that men—intellectual men, clever men, engaged men—insist on playing devil’s advocate, desirous of a debate on some aspect of feminist theory or reproductive rights or some other subject generally filed under the heading: Women’s Issues. These intellectual, clever, engaged men want to endlessly probe my argument for weaknesses, want to wrestle over details, want to argue just for fun—and they wonder, these intellectual, clever, engaged men, why my voice keeps raising and why my face is flushed and why, after an hour of fighting my corner, hot tears burn the corners of my eyes. Why do you have to take this stuff so personally? ask the intellectual, clever, and engaged men, who have never considered that the content of the abstract exercise that’s so much fun for them is the stuff of my life.

I’ve honestly never thought about what the type of argument that would end a friendship would be. If you asked high school me, I would imagine that she would think it would be some great falling out, with explosions and screaming matches and deep vows of never speaking to each other again. Now, it feels more like a deep pit in my stomach, an overwhelming desire to cry, and to ask myself where everything went so wrong.  It’s the desire to disengage, to ignore, to pull away, because this once-solid relationship where I found comfort is now a source of pain. I liked you, I would say, if I could bring myself to speak about this without feeling like I fulfilled some stereotype of typical feminine irrationality.

“I liked you. We were friends. How could you be like that? How could you look at the same set of facts as I did and come to a conclusion that hurting people, real people, is less important than your right to argue? Does it cause you so much frustration to examine your own privilege, to note that the experiences you have had are different from other people’s, that you would rather create things out of thin air?”


“When you tell me that what we’re talking about isn’t real, that it doesn’t matter, that my lived experience is an insufficient counter for your browbeating arguments, do you expect me to eventually agree? Do you think the strength of your rhetoric will somehow cause me to realize that everything I have seen, that all the expertise I have is less important than your guesses? Does our friendship mean so little to you that it is more important to be right than to listen? Do I mean so little to you that it is more important be right than not to hurt me?”

I guess, when that’s what you want to say to someone, they probably aren’t your friend anymore anyway.

Bodies, Confidence

A Skinny Girl On Fat Phobia

Today I lift a post completely from somewhere else because it’s already perfect.

From One Skinny Girl To Others: A Few Words on Fat Phobia

July 5, 2012

I have often made the argument that white folks ought to talk to other white folks about racism and white privilege. As people of color, we get tired of having to always be the ones to talk about these things, always having to be responsible for other people’s education and understanding, when these issues are not our issues, but the issues of a whole country and a whole world. It is important for white people to educate themselves about race, racism, white privilege, and white supremacy. It is necessary. In the same way, it is necessary, and in fact ideal, for men to talk to other men about misogyny and rape-culture. That should not always be the job of women. These things are everyone’s problems.

Yesterday I watched this great video

by Meghan Tonjes and was reminded how little I have been talking to other skinny (or just not fat) women about fat phobia lately. And I thought it was time to write a lil blog about it.

I have often had the experience of hanging with women who are thin like myself, or bigger than me, but not fat, and hearing fat-phobic comments. Once, I was chatting with a co-worker who was flipping through an entertainment magazine, and she was going on and on about how good all these thin women looked, from their bodies to their hair and their clothes. Then she got to a photo of a fat woman. And her face got all twisted up. “Ugh. She needs to lose some weight,” she said.

I was like, “Dude. That’s not cool. You’re being fat phobic.”

And she was like, “No, I’m not! I just think it’s bad to be that fat. I mean, it’s just so UNHEALTHY!”

And you know I had to call bullshit. You just sat here worshiping ten different women who probably barely weigh a hundred pounds apiece soaking wet with a million dollars worth of jewelry on, and now all of a sudden you are worried about women’s health? I’m not buying it.

As a skinny woman, and at times an under-weight woman, I can say there is nothing automatically healthy about being thin. Being underweight is a health risk. Not eating properly, not getting enough fat, is a serious problem. Some of the risks of not being fat enough:

  • weakened immune system
  • fragile bones
  • infertility
  • vitamin-deficient anemia
  • osteoporosis
  • amenorrhea

I rarely hear anyone talking about these health risks. Skinny women are plastered everywhere, held up as an ideal, and nobody ever says, “Oh my God, Reese Witherspoon probably has a seriously weakened immune system!” Yet when talking about a fat person, everyone assumes they know everything about that person’s health, just because they are fat.

Can you be thin and be healthy? Sure. Of course. I am thin and I think I am pretty healthy. I have friends who are not thin, and friends who are fat, who are as healthy as I am. I have friends who are fat who are much healthier than I am. Our weight does not automatically determine how healthy we are.

And, really, let’s be honest, little of this is about health anyway. Talking about it in terms of health is just a convenient way to make fat people, especially fat women, wrong. We live in a society that takes great pains to control women’s bodies, to make sure that women have as little say over their own bodies as possible, and this is no different. If a woman is fat, and God-forbid, happy with her fat self, we are deeply offended. How dare she not let us control her?? Who the hell does this fat bitch think she is??

Maybe she thinks she is a human being with a brain and a soul and myriad experiences that make up a three-dimensional life. Maybe that’s who the hell she thinks she is.

Mia McKenzie is a writer and a smart, scrappy Philadelphian with a deep love of vegan pomegranate ice cream and fake fur collars. She is a black feminist and a freaking queer, facts that are often reflected in her writings, which have won her some awards and grants, such as the Astraea Foundation’s Writers Fund Award and the Leeway Foundation’s Transformation Award. She just finished a novel and has a short story forthcoming in The Kenyon Review. Her work has been published at Jezebel.com, and recommended by The Root, Colorlines, Feministing, Angry Asian Man, and Crunk Feminist Collective. She is a nerd, and the creator of Black Girl Dangerous, a revolutionary blog.

Dear Readers,

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Politics, Rights

Smoke On Your Pipe And Put That In!

My mom asked me today if I was going to write about marriage equality and I told her that I had nothing new to say about it.

Contrary to myth, Christianity’s concept of marriage has not been set in stone since the days of Christ, but has constantly evolved as a concept and ritual. Prof. John Boswell, the late Chairman of Yale University’s history department, discovered that in addition to heterosexual marriage ceremonies in ancient Christian church liturgical documents, there were also ceremonies called the “Office of Same-Sex Union” (10th and 11th century), and the “Order for Uniting Two Men” (11th and 12th century).

These church rites had all the symbols of a heterosexual marriage: the whole community gathered in a church, a blessing of the couple before the altar was conducted with their right hands joined, holy vows were exchanged, a priest officiated in the taking of the Eucharist and a wedding feast for the guests was celebrated afterwards. These elements all appear in contemporary illustrations of the holy union of the Byzantine Warrior-Emperor, Basil the First (867-886 CE) and his companion John.

Suck on that, Bristol Palin. (via sherlockable)

Marriage has been a moving target for it’s entire existence.  It has been evolving to suit the needs of citizens (read…men) forever.

Homosexuality is found in over 450 species.  Homophobia is found in only one.  Which sounds unnatural now?

Additionally the entire birth of marriage was basically about selling daughters off like chattel.  I’m all for moving into a new era where marriage isn’t “defined as one man and one woman”.  I think we can come up with a better definition than that.

Abuse, Deviant/Default, Gender, Hope, Media, Obedience, Politics, Rape, Religion, Rights, Sex

The Purity Myth

The other day a friend sent me this video.  Please watch it.  It’s short and well worth plugging in your speakers or just saving to watch another time.

The argument in the video is that by convincing girls that their virginities are their most important assets fundamentalists are telling women that their virginities are their only assets.

Please just watch the video.  I would say that Jessica Valenti says it so much more gracefully than I can but the truth is that Jessica isn’t nearly as compelling or frightening as the clips of celebrities and more importantly politicians who not only believe this crud but are trying to use it to make laws about my body and yours.

As I was watching this trailer I thought about another article I read recently from a fantastic blog called broadblogs.com.  That article was about how modesty objectifies women’s bodies as much as nudity can.

You may have heard about Egyptian blogger, Aliaa Mahdy, posing nude for her blog calling her action a scream “against a society of violence, racism, sexism, sexual harassment and hypocrisy.”

I’m too saddened to paraphrase, Georgia Platts writes:

But how could modesty objectify? Consider the most extreme example:

Women who live in Taliban-controlled provinces of Afghanistan are expected to cover themselves head to toe with mesh across their eyes. There, a woman’s ankle is thought incredibly sexual, as are her arms and face and eyes and hair. Every part of her body becomes sexualized through extreme modesty.

But the entire body needn’t be covered for this surprising effect to arise. One young Christian woman found that less radical modesty objectified her, too:

Modesty taught me that what I looked like was what mattered most of all. Not what I thought. Not how I felt. Not what I was capable of doing.

Modesty made me objectify myself. I was so aware of my own potential desirability at all times that I lost all other ways of defining myself.

The purity myth tells women and men that feminism is a dirty word.  That a return to “traditional” values, where they can laugh alone with salad

and pop out children like the Duggers will make women happy.

It tells us that if only we dressed modestly we wouldn’t provoke good men to rape us, yet in countries where women wear burqas

…83% of women reported having been sexually harassed. Almost three-quarters of Egyptian women who said they had been harassed were veiled and 98% of foreigners said they had been intimidated or groped.

That if we let men choose us like cattle or Michelle Bachman’s daughters

Recalling her senior year of high school, when she didn’t get asked to the prom, Bachmann told radio host Sean Hannity that back then, girls didn’t ask boys, so Bachmann simply didn’t go. But Hannity invoked his own 13-year-old son and said times have changed.

“Our girls are not allowed to do that in our house,” Bachmann said. “They have to wait for the boy to call.”

then we will be free.

That if we pledge our virginities to our fathers or the church

then we’ll be safe from pedophiles and rapists.

That if we’re given an abstinence-only education

then we’ll wait to have sex until we’re old enough and straight-married enough to raise straight, successful, non-teen-pregnancy-statistic children.

That if we have sex before marriage we’re “going to end up sterile or dead!”  As though we’d be any less likely to die from sex if we were wearing rings.

This war on women must end.

Now is the part where I get kind of sappy.  I started writing this post nearly three weeks ago and at this point I got so depressed that I had to put it down for another week or two and ask some friends to read the above and give me a suggestion for a way to make the ending non-suicide-inducing.

My wonderful friend LillianLemoning gave me hope again:

Jessica Valenti (if I remember correctly) has a  significant other. The most painful argument that feminists receive is the idea that sure, you can be a bitch, but you’ll be alone. What we forget is that there are men like Mr. Valenti (whoever he may be) and Ryan Gosling and Bill Clinton and my father (and [name removed to protect the innocent], swoon) who get it. Who really, really get it. The other myth they’ve created is that those men are extinct, or that they were never there in the first place. But they are and they’re turned on by smart, powerful, kind women who are sexual and enjoy sex. Every man like that, that there is is a battle against patriarchy that we won. Look, Rick Perry, Ryan Gosling is a feminist and he doesn’t have to be, but he is. He wants women to enjoy sex and he knows feminist theory! That’s hopeful to me because it’s one thing for the oppressed minority to say they’re being oppressed and it’s another to have members of the oppressors look around and say “No. This is bullshit.”

So a way to fight back is to Lysistrata that shit. Decide that you’re not sleeping with a man who doesn’t value both your personhood and your sexuality.
Thanks Lil!  And Thanks Ryan.
Bodies, Gender, Obedience

Swift Judgement

This weekend my best friend came for an incredibly long overdue visit and, because she can hear me thinking a post from 1700 miles away she brought me an article from Bitch Magazine.  (Did I mention how much I love that girl?)

I like to say that Taylor Swift is one of my biggest guilty pleasures.  Some people smoke, I cry at the end of Love Story.  Don’t’ judge me.

But I’ve always been a bit perturbed at the presence of such Madonna-whore/good-girls-wear-white-and-bad-girls-have-sex imagery in her music and videos.  She’s said in the media that she really enjoys being a role model for girls and I’ve been wondering exactly what kind of role model she is.

Mormon mothers all across America are beyond thankful that she hasn’t gone the Lindsay Lohan route and to be honest so am I.  But they’re also thankful she hasn’t followed Miley Cyrus, Christina Aguilera, and whatever other girl pop icons (get ready for it) had sex.

The Bitch article made me ask a lot of questions about Taylor.  And in asking those questions I had to separate Taylor, the girl, from Swift, the brand.

Swift’s image generally screams VIRGINITY!  YOUR DAUGHTERS WILL HAVE A REALLY HARD TIME GIVING A BLOW JOB WHILE LISTENING TO MY MUSIC.  Exactly what is the ratio of white/non-white clothing in her closet.  I’d say only Elle Fanning tops her.  And her brand is consistently bashing the girl in the trashy dress who ‘gives it all away.’  Remember this?

So we can safely say that Swifty, the brand, is caught up in telling young girls to keep their most precious asset safe.

And so I remember very clearly from when she was dating GROWN A$$ MEN like John Mayer and that Gyllenhall hottie wondering exactly how adult her relationship with them could be.  I remember Gyllenhall buying her big gifts and thinking how curious that was.  A fancy guitar in exchange for her most precious of all things?  

Then this article pointed out exactly what the issue is.  Swift the brand is about as virginal as it gets and the people who manage the brand have been very careful to keep it that way no matter what the truth may be.

Which leads to my next question.  In the article it points out that in one of her latest songs Mine she alludes to ‘a drawer of my things at your place.’  Finally acknowledging that like most girls my age (because dear Taytay is only 16 days older than me), she might have discovered sex… and possibly even liked it.  Never mind that whether that is or isn’t true isn’t ANYONE’S business.  But, I digress.

When that song came out she got slack from southern radio stations who said they had trouble seeing her as ‘the girl next door’ because of that lyric.  Let me tell you something about the girl next door.  If she’s older than 16 she’s probably having sex (with herself if no one else) and just not telling you about it.

So after all that my question is this. Who is to blame here?  Yes, I think Taylor is hurting young girls with her ‘my untouched snatch has magical powers’ image but I also think we’re not giving her much of a choice.  America demands a steady supply of ‘good girl’ music to spoon feed our youth and will penalize her for any deviation just like it’ll penalize the girls who listen to said deviant music.  My big hope is that she can use her power and influence and one day on David Leno have a total Russel Edgington moment.


Except that instead of saying ‘I’m a vampire’ she’d say ‘I have a vagina and It feels good when I touch it and I’m not going to hell for it.’  And instead of ‘we will eat you’ she’d say ‘hey there fans, lock your doors and try it out.’  And instead of ripping someone’s spine out she could just say ‘lets talk about a little thing called the Madonna/whore dichotomy.’

It would be so easy and so awesome.


Who Runs The World? Pricks.

I finally made myself sit through the whole video (and song for the first time) for Beyonce’s new song Run The World (Girls) today.

First off go ahead and watch it.  If you dare.  I don’t suggest watching it lying down.  You may fall asleep.  Or sneeze.

How is she not bored of herself yet?  Every song she’s ever made is ‘I’m a powerful capital-B Bitch!’  Add in a beat you can jump around to and some barely there costumes and; Tada!  You too can be Sasha Fierce!

This song in my opinion is especially heinous.  First of all there’s the part where it’s actually a terrible song.  It’s so boring that if I were dancing to it in a club I’d use it as an excuse to pee.

Then of course there’s the part where she completely co-opts feminism.  And I think gives feminism a bad name.  Here’s a fabulous youtube video that explains this perfectly.  Plus, it’s really funny.

Update: These guys don’t care at all about the feminism.  They’re just huge Beyonce fans talking about the song as a song.  Which is also interesting and really hysterical.


Here’s Where I Stand

Eight percent of college men have either attempted or successfully raped. Thirty percent say they would rape if they could get away with it. When the wording was changed to “force a woman to have sex,” the number jumped to 58%. Worse still, 83.5% argue that “some women look like they are just asking to be raped.”
~Margo Paine, Ph.D. (Body Wars)

83.5% argue that “some women look like they are just asking to be raped.”

This is the society you live in.  This is rape culture.  This is patriarchy.

And we just take it.

Take the violence, take the violations of rights, take the definition of beauty.

I can’t decide if the fact that women aren’t running through DC with machetes is a testamant to the strength of our characters or the effectiveness of the ‘boys will be boys’ rape culture that normalizes this behavior and throws the blame back on the women.

The problem is that it’s not just in Washington.  It’s on the cover of Cosmo telling you to get implants which will mean some loss of sensitivity in your breasts, but will make your hubby really happy.

It’s in comic books which tell your little brother that women only exist to further his plot line in life.

So it’s no wonder that men see women and assume they only exist to play a role in his life.  To be sex for him.

Or to be a vehicle for his baby.  And that their dreams and goals don’t matter as much as his.

So don’t just blame the old white male farts in Washington.  It’s not like they invented patriarchy.  They’re just enjoying making as much money off it as they can no matter who gets hurt in the process.

So my question is:

Where do you stand?