November 2007 Archives

Watch for the Guy with the Pineapple

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Thanks to the reader who sent me the link to this youtube clip. She thought of me when she saw it because it has to do with interpreting "Bohemian Rhapsody" on a ship (my entry on which remains one of my most popular, though I'm not sure why) and because I wrote all about the horrible Queen show I saw in June.

This clip is thoroughly amateurish but still sort of wonderful. It's a bit slow at first but picks up at the three minute mark. I liked the guy who is a table, and I found something oddly appealing as well about the bit with the guy holding a pineapple. I can't explain.

Native and Invasive Species


Before I came home, I emailed a friend to say I was coming into town and ask if she was busy this past weekend. She emailed back to say, "Yes, I am busy, and now you're busy too." She took me to a couple of really cool events, one of which I plan to write about more. At both events, there were plenty of people I didn't know, and she was very gracious about introducing me to her friends and colleagues, but she kept saying, "This is my friend Holly, from Pennsylvania." And I would have to say, "No, I'm not FROM Pennsylvania; I just live there right now. I'm FROM Arizona--Thatcher, Arizona, to be exact."

I realize this isn't a big deal to everyone, but it's a big deal to me. In a way that is deeply important, I really truly am FROM and OF the Southwest. I was born in Arizona and raised Mormon at a time when Mormonism was still in many regards a regional religion, and my sense of self is thoroughly tied up with a sense of place, as well as a sense of community and spirituality that derives quite specifically and literally from the place I was taught to call both "zion" and "home." It MATTERED that I was not only born in Arizona, but born in Arizona because my ancestors walked the distance from Illinois to Utah, then headed south for various reasons. Frankly, it matters to me still.

So to introduce me to people by saying that I'm FROM some place without no real mountains to speak of and a great lake and lots of rivers instead of pervasive and profound aridity is akin to introducing me as "Heidi" or "Heather," both of which I get called from time to time: even though you can see how people make that mistake, it's just not right, and it's annoying to have to correct someone on this.

And then there was what happened when I asked other people where they were from.

Wireless and Still Unwired

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I haven't posted recently because I've been traveling.... I arrived at Sky Harbor Airport (PHX, in case you care about airport codes) a few days ago so I can hang out in Arizona for the Thanksgiving holiday. What is there to say about air travel except that it sucks in just about every possible way, but is nonetheless quicker than driving or taking a train (which unfortunately is not really an option for certain kinds of travel in the US anyway)?

But I arrived. And the weather is beautiful, in that "it's way too warm for November, but that's what global warming gives us" kind of way. Seriously, when I was a little girl, beginning in November and lasting until February we had something I wasn't embarrassed to call winter: you had to wear a coat, and the temperature would drop below freezing regularly, and sometimes there would be snow. But now if you live in southern Arizona you don't every really have to own a coat.

Anyway, things are going OK on this trip, except that something about the way my wireless whatever is configured on my laptop means that I can't access the wireless service where I'm staying, so if I want to blog or do email, I have to do it on the shared computer, and as there are four children 13 and under who all want to check email and edit anime videos, I have to queue up. Right now everyone but me and one sick niece are at church, so I have the computer to myself.

If I get the wireless thing sussed out, there will be more from me, but if I don't, both entries on my blog on comments on yours might be sparse for the next week.

Thanks to the friend who sent me a link to the work of Chris Jordan, an artist whose photography uses garbage, toxins, pollutants and major sources of all the above so that we can see how much of this stuff there is mucking up our planet. I suggest you click on the links to Intolerable Beauty, which is photos of things like crushed cars, discarded cell phones and obsolete circuit boards, as well as the raw materials we need to build our homes and pave our streets, etc; and Running the Numbers: An American Self-Portrait (love that title!), which includes statistics to help the viewer understand just how much we throw away, how many children don't have health care, how many people die of smoking-related illnesses each year, etc.

It's very disturbing, the fact that we are able to think of garbage in terms of the few plastic bags we take home from the grocery store every few days and don't recycle, or the single broken dvd player we throw out and replace after a few years, because we don't think about how many other people are doing the exact same thing at the exact same intervals. Jordan's work makes it much harder to think in those narrow terms. After seeing these photographs, I will do my best from here on out to never again drink a beverage sold in a plastic bottle.

On Bill Moyer's Journal you can also watch a video (it's actually a series of stills with accompanying narration, but we call that a video, don't we?) about the photographs Jordan took after the waters receded from New Orleans, which have been collected in the book In Katrina's Wake.

Calling Rape What It Really Is


In a recent entry, dizzybuzzkill wrote

When I watch 37 trailers to upcoming movies and don’t see a single one about a woman, I don’t immediately come up with “regurgitated” rhetoric that explains it, I feel it first. When I hear a CNN newscaster tell me about the sexual history of a rape victim, my heart beats fast and my tummy hurts.

My heart is still racing and my stomach is still churning with revulsion after reading an item on Broadsheet, Salon's blog for women, about

an online discussion forum called AutoAdmit that advertises itself as "the most prestigious college discussion board in the world." According to the Washington Post, this "prestigious" discussion board also included threatening, sexist, racist and homophobic comments -- including strings of online attacks against two female law students who found out from friends that AutoAdmit users, often writing anonymously, had posted messages that included photographs gleaned from social networking sites, comments about the students' physical appearances, slurs about their supposed sexual promiscuity, and rape threats.

Which is bad enough. But what really upset me was that the two women filing a lawsuit against AutoAdmit's users

named DOE I and DOE II [in the complaint] in an attempt to protect them from further harassment -- were subjected to statements like "Clearly she deserves to be raped so that her little fantasy world can be shattered by real life" and "I would like to hate-fuck [DOE I] but since people say she has herpes this might be a bad idea" (that second one was posted to a thread called "Which female YLS students would you sodomize?").



I've never heard the term before but I'm certainly familiar with the concept.

At least this is an acknowledgment of what rape really is. It's not overwhelming desire, it's not passionate attraction too strong to resist, it's not crossed signals or unclear communication.

It's hate-fucking. It's violence, it's cruelty, it's intended to terrorize, hurt, debase and humiliate women, and the men who engage in it like it for the ways it harms the women more than for the orgasms it provides the men.

I have to go throw up now.

The 47th Carnival of Feminists is up at Ornamenting Away from dizzybuzzkill. I got up this morning, started coffee, sat down to read. I heard the coffee maker produce this click it makes when it needs to cool down because it's been on for too long, looked up at the clock, and realize I'd been sitting for an hour without coffee, because the posts were too interesting to get up from. (The coffee is just decaf--I don't need any stimulants at all--but it's nice in the morning to have a cup of slightly sweet, fairly milky warm liquid, which is how I like my coffee.)

There is something to intrigue, inspire and inform every feminist. I'm not done reading, but so far my favorite post (and new blog) is on "the modern cad" from Feminist Fire.

When you're done reading all the posts, please scroll down past dizzy's blog roll and click on the link to her banner art, which takes you to the collages of Blondstrawberry, a totally awesome collage artist. I am lucky enough to own a collage by Blondstrawberry--if you click on the gallery page and get gallery one, you'll see two columns of thumbnail images, the top right of which is a woman looking down at something. Click on that if you want to see the collage I bought.... It's called "Sober Beacon" and it hangs in my living room. It's not huge--only 4"x6"--but it's very cool. I got it when Blondstrawberry was just starting to sell her stuff and it wasn't pricey--it cost more to have framed and matted than to buy it in the first place--but I think she's seen some significant success and realized what her stuff is actually worth, so you can't get it for next to nothing anymore. But if you like her stuff, I would definitely contact her about acquiring some.

The Difference a Day Makes


Here's what my porch looked like a mere 48 hours ago:
My cat was so happy to sit in front of that door and watch all the excitement of my backyard. Bunnies! Birds! Chipmunks! It was great.
You can see Dinah playing jungle cat in this one. A bunny took up residence underneath a hosta just on the other side of that wall--it made Dinah nuts.
This is where I hung out all summer. It was great.
This is what it looks like now:


The plants are happy to be inside. The cat is not. She keeps demanding to be let out, but when she sees what the porch is like, she gets upset and comes back in. I sorta feel the same way.

Really Long Comment, In Which I Disavow the Cow Part


So, I would be happy to live my life without anyone ever again bringing Ben Christensen to my attention, but as I continue to write about the damage done when gay men court and marry straight women (particularly in the context of Mormonism, with all its attendant ideas about what an ideal family should be like), and as he continues to be a gay man married to a straight woman and to find it hard to understand the patriarchal bent of our culture and his own privilege, that seems unlikely. In a recent post, I mention that his name kept turning up in google searches that led people to my blog; MoHoHawaii left a comment there providing a link to what Ben was writing that prompted people to do the specific search I was seeing. I wrote a long comment in response, longer than a lot of the entries I've posted lately, and thought about posting it as an entry of its own, but it seems better as a comment. If you're interested, click on the link and read it; if not, well, it's relegated to the comment section of the blog and you don't have to deal with it.

Narcissism and Misogyny


A couple of years ago I encountered a totally bullshit argument for the preservation and even expansion of practices that maintained the patriarchal status quo and buttressed the power of men at the expense of the rights and full citizenship of women. As is standard for an argument so thoroughly by, for and to the patriarchs of the world, it not only advocated for greater rights for men, it absolutely ignored the cost of the whole thing to women--because after all, the general concerns of women are completely secondary in a major social question like whether or not uncloseted gay men should claim what they feel has traditionally been “the exclusive territory of straight men” and marry women in order to knock them up and just be regular dudes who gets to go to Mormon heaven. No, the issue of marriage between men and women isn’t a topic where a gay man needs to think about the general concerns of women in heteronormative relationships (despite the fact that he has a mom, a wife, five sisters and a daughter) while defending his right to claim the same privileges a straight dude gets; it’s a topic where what comes first are his rights as a MAN.

I think most people conversant in gender politics will agree that an argument like that isn’t just patriarchal, it’s misogynist. Which is what I called it, along with the guy who produced it. But turns out this guy didn’t like being called misogynist--with all those sisters and that young daughter, he knew it was BAD to admit to misogyny (though he still hasn’t figured out that it’s also uncool to enact misogyny). For the past year, I learned recently, he has been fretting over the topic, trying to figure out a way to clear himself of the charge. And finally, through intense intellectual struggle and self-reflection, he came up with one! Turns out he’s not a misogynist; he’s just a narcissist! That’s right! As he himself writes, “to be honest, I do all too often think of my needs before I think of [my wife’s]; but it has nothing to do with the fact that she's a woman and everything to do with the fact that she's not me.”

Once again, the guy’s inability to imagine just what his arguments reveal about him is breathtaking. What do you do with a statement that can be paraphrased, “I’m often really selfish and insensitive in my relationship with my wife, but it’s not because she’s a woman; it’s because I’m really just a jerk in general”? It’s not as if misogyny and narcissism are mutually exclusive, after all; the profound selfishness and self-importance involved in narcissism might make it much easier for a man to be indifferent to the well-being of women in general, to think that it’s OK to oppress women--or at least wait to empower them--if doing so makes things easier and more convenient for HIM, the one who’s REALLY IMPORTANT.

Now, I’m not going to argue that ALL men are narcissists, because I don’t think they are. I feel I know men who exhibit remarkable compassion and generosity. But I am going to argue that for men who don’t want to do the work of thinking about someone else’s needs simply because those needs are someone else’s and not their own, there are plenty of ways in which they’re allowed to think it’s their god-given right to be narcissists if they want to.

Greetings from Iowa, Again

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I'm currently in the library of my second favorite alma mater (I only have two), the University of Iowa. I'm here for a conference called NonfictioNow, which I attended two years ago. I can't believe how hip Iowa City has become! The university and the city are clearly awash in money, in ways they just weren't in the 90s. There is lots of new construction and the whole place reeks of affluence (which of course smells much better than poverty). In addition to the Java House, there are other coffee houses everywhere.

I'm not as excited about the conference this year--it hasn't been quite as magical as it was last year, perhaps because the amazing Pico Iyer isn't here there year. Not that it has been bad, by any means.... The first conference just had so much energy, was such a pleasure to attend. I'm enjoying myself and have heard some great panels, but it's not, well, magical like I said. And I am a little freaked out by how much Iowa City has changed. I lived in the most wonderful house when I was here, a marvelous arts and crafts home on the edge of downtown, and while it's still there, three houses on the block have been torn down to make way for a parking lot, and the garden I so lovingly planted is a hideous mess of weeds.

I'm writing this after ditching out on a panel that turned out to be a disappointing and boring account of stuff I already knew. But lunch is coming up, so I will head off for that.


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This page is an archive of entries from November 2007 listed from newest to oldest.

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