20/07/2012 § Leave a comment

I am no stranger to the chiding voice in my head that tells me my dissatisfaction and/or displeasure is a shrewish, bitchy impulse. It’s not. If something doesn’t sit right with you, say something. Nothing will change until we start asking questions and holding each other accountable.

Nonsense Party

So, I think I’m a feminist. Maybe. Kinda. Probably a lot. I’m not sure. Honestly, I’m not terribly schooled in women’s studies or the feminist movement, so I’m kinda wingin’ it here. So, I think I should do what I always do when I’m unsure about something: ask Google.

Asking Google: Am I a feminist?

Google, in its omniscience, directed me to Wikipedia, which says that

A feminist is “an advocate or supporter of the rights and equality of women.”[3]

and also that

Feminists have worked to protect women and girls from domestic violence, sexual harassment, and sexual assault.

and

They have also advocated for workplace rights, including maternity leave, and against forms of discrimination against women.

By those parameters, I’d absolutely say I’m a feminist. Why do I have this lingering feeling that “feminist” is a dirty word? Where did I get that from? Because, really, I can’t…

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Hurry Up and Wait (free will my foot)

13/07/2012 § Leave a comment

I am anxiously awaiting two phone calls. The first is from the people who may be helping us with our rent payment. I have been waiting three days for a response. If I don’t hear from them today, the eviction process will start. I feel like Quin, Roomie, and I have done everything within our power to prevent these circumstances. As soon as I received the demand for payment, I started asking for help. I went to a caseworker the next morning as soon as they opened (so, Wednesday). I was supposed to know something by Wednesday afternoon. I called yesterday, to hear my (harried) caseworker tell me “I don’t have an answer for you, Nevada.” I’m afraid to call back. The second call I’m awaiting would be good news, to an extent, but something that I’m not prepared to share until I know more.

I have a ton of things I ought to be doing today, but I am not doing them because I’m afraid I will miss the phone ringing. What if I don’t get a message in time, and then terrible things happen because I won’t be here this weekend? It is miserable to feel like you have exhausted your capacity to act, and must submit to time.

Criticism

12/07/2012 § Leave a comment

Warning: Possibly too confused to make sense, brought on by reading this lovely piece by Jill over at Feministe.

Top Secret Info: I was once a SuperGawthTeen.

When I was a SuperGawthTeen (with real non-conforming action and life-hating grip), I hated the idea of someone judging me. One of my dear friends (who was also a GawthTeen but who is generally better at nuanced, critical thought than I am) finally got fed up with all my ranting and reminded me that judging is a human faculty. She said that she isn’t afraid of being judged because judging is something that humans do, and she does it, and I do it, so what is there to be afraid of? Honestly, at that particular time in my life, I was engaging in some pretty self-destructive behavior, and I probably needed someone to kick me in the teeth and tell me to stop being such an idiot.

In any event, this conversation (and subsequent dwellings-on-it) has shaped my interactions with other people in myriad ways. I judge people, but then I instantly feel terrible about it. I try to avoid criticizing people as much as possible, since I am not experiencing their life as they are, but I still hate some of the things that they do. When sufficiently angered, I will actually take a stance on something (usually this ends up being feminism), but I am patient like a rock in a river and it takes me a long, long time to reach the point where I will stop saying “That’s your prerogative.” What I really need to do is start saying, in as nice a way as possible, “Sure, you’re entitled to your shitty opinion, here’s mine.” On a different level, I sometimes need people to kick me in the ass, and likewise, my friends might need me to do the same. It is an act of love.

What’s strange about my inability to do this is that, in the classroom, it makes me really angry, especially when discussion turns into my worst Cultural Relativism Nightmare, when avenues of inquiry are shielded from critical thought, and I am a callous bastard for daring to suggest that I might find something revolting, or harmful, or awkward (although I am allowed, apparently, to think that everything ever is a brilliant idea). As a professor of mine suggests, we lose the ability to find something interesting in radical alterity when we do this. Further, I find that it is decidedly not interesting to simply “report” and say “Such and such thing is different. The End.”

Love me, Love my body

28/06/2012 § Leave a comment

A dear friend signaled to me that she would’ve  liked to hear more in my last post re: my stance on bodies and real selves. I was having a terrible time articulating it yesterday, but here we go.

What set me off yesterday is a recent spate of people on facebook posting things suggesting that we should love women for their real selves, not their bodies. The problem that I come to is this: I have a hard time making a distinction between the body I inhabit and the person that I am. They are not discrete entities, and to suggest that my body is somehow different from my real self also suggests that my body is impermanent, and my thoughts/personality are set in stone. I am changeable, as is my body. Over time, I can lose weight, gain weight, lose functionality, increase/decrease in dexterousness &c. I will age, I will change. Likewise,  I will change over time with respect to my personality and ways of thinking. It would be very Foreverware, and kind of disturbing if I didn’t. When I decided to marry Quin, one of the things that impacted that decision is our willingness/flexibility to love each other as we change, to discover new things about each other, and to remain in a partnership, always learning new things about one another.

I have plenty of issues with my body (admittedly, I have just as many, if not more, hangups about my mental state/personality). For example, I am fat. I know I am fat. It bothers me when people suggest that I’m not fat, because I have eyes and mirrors. I have hangups about my fatness that come into play regularly. Quin loves me, not in spite of my fatness, nor because of it (that goes into its own weird territory, in my experience). He just appreciates me, my thoughts, my personality, and my body, for all things I can do, or that we can do together, regardless of how that changes in the future. My body is integrated into my real self, as changeable as everything else about me.

Jenny Saville gets it. Why Don’t you?

How To: Love (all) women?

27/06/2012 § 1 Comment

Rewind: Last semester, our Buddhism class wrote essays on a close reading of “Subha Speaks Moon as Toy.” Although there were various potential topics to write on, this passage is/can be pretty helpful to teaching about anatman, no-self. Briefly, Subha is a nun out in the forest. She is approached by a suitor who is rather taken with her, who attempts to woo her with worldly possessions and sexual bliss, especially complimenting her on her eyes. Subha rebuffs him time and time again, until Subha proclaims

This little body, this phantom body, does not exist. A puppet can’t exist without sticks and strings. If something does not exist without phenomena, on what can you fix your mind? You see a picture on the wall smeared with yellow ointment – is that it? You’re confused, you mistake the image for the thing itself. O Blind One! I tell you, you run after an empty thing – a mirage, a golden tree at the end of a dream, a puppet show in the middle of a crowd. Delusion, conjurer’s trick! Forget it. An eye is a ball set in a hollow with a bubble in the middle, briny with tears, it secretes slime too. Here, look at this! (The young maiden plucks out her eye to give to her seducer. She is unattached. She has a calm mind.)

In essence, she has no desire for the seducer because she has no desire. In the story, she is a “child of the Buddha” who understands that existence is transient and illusory. That, as Nagasena said, “No real person can here be apprehended.” Aside from the difficulties of getting students to grasp the concept of no-self, again and again students wrote that Subha would have accepted the suitor if he had just loved her for her real self, her soul, her mind.

No.

This bothers me for a number of reasons. Mostly because it serves to spawn more certitudes about What Women Want. The same goes for men, and we can see this pretty clearly in gender-targeted advertising and magazines. (See Ridiculous Tips for a Miserable Sex Life — I’m pretty sure my husband would be uncomfortable if I attempted to “volley [his penis] back and forth like a tennis ball.”)

I do not claim to speak for all women, ever. I do get uncomfortable when people suggest that my plumbing has something to do with the ways in which people are supposed to express themselves to me (lovingly or otherwise). I would much prefer that people be genuine with me.

As a woman, some of the ways that I am supposed to be treated/supposed to behave are as follows:

In our society, women expect to be coddled, pampered and catered to by men. They think with their vaginas — that is, they expect men to tolerate anything they dish out just by dangling the promise of sex in front of them. So they feel perfectly free to be bitchy, moody, inconsistent, and rude. [here]

2. Shave every day. One day’s growth of facial hair is worse than a girl not shaving her legs for a week.
22. If you concede to let us decorate the house without any input from you, then don’t complain when everything is in frilly flowers, and pink motif. [here]

I love it when you’re sweaty. [here]

Guys often want to take the quickest path to sex. But many women prefer the scenic route. “Women want sex but they get to it in a different way,” says psychologist Kirschner, who has helped hundreds of couples achieve a more rewarding relationship. “They want to feel connected and understood, they want to be romanced.”  [here]

And various other awkward, contradictory things (here, here, and likewise, here).

If those are things you want in a relationship, okay. I think, though, that it’s a little peculiar to expect everyone to concede to those rules or risk being labeled a shitbag, bitch, &c&c. Probably the best way to figure out what your partner enjoys is to talk about it. However, unless you are harming your partner, your way of loving them is probably just fine. What’s more, we all carry out respective meatsacks (see also: bodies) around with us. I, at least, expect mine to be loved by whoever loves me.

Convention Jesus

07/06/2012 § Leave a comment

This past weekend, I found myself at A-kon 23 in Dallas, Texas. For the curious, A-kon is an anime convention held in Dallas, TX every year. It’s pretty big– almost 30,000 people, two major hotels and a convention center. Lots of people running around in costumes, fandoming out, lots of things to do (although most of those things involve someone selling you stuff).

Many of the costumes worn could be considered risque. Booty shorts pikachu man was one of my favorites. On Saturday evening, I was outside the Sheraton, looking across the street and I spied two police cars, a police motorcycle, and a crowd congregating on the corner. So, of course, I went over to see what was happening. From what I could glean from the crowd, two lady con-goers dressed as succubi were making out on a corner, and were seen by a gentleman with a personal PA system who felt like he ought to inform them of the sinful nature of their conduct. Angry con-goers descended on the man and attempted to shout him down. He shouted back that he wasn’t trying to take away their liberty, so they shouldn’t try to take away his.

Then, Convention Jesus showed up, with a TF2 engineer.

Convention Jesus with Engineer

Remember, A-Kon, I’m on your side!

Con Jesus proceeded to explain to the con-goers that he was on their side. He baptized people from a fountain he stood on. Everyone shouted “JESUS! JESUS! JESUS!”  When witnessing man responded that Con Jesus was not Jesus, the crowd shouted him down with “You’re the phony! PHONY! PHONY! PHONY!”  By my standards, Con Jesus is an actor. The pun name might seem to say it all, except that Con Jesus does not seem to intend potentially harmful deception. He is playing a role. Con-goers know he is not Jesus, but they refer to him as Jesus. He isn’t even the only Jesus cosplayer there. He is, however, a Jesus that is “on their side”, and is a useful tool or weapon in the altercation with witnessing man. I kept expecting the two or three other Con-Jesus Cosplayers to come out and enter into their own altercation about who is “right.”

“The problem of authenticity arises when profane things do not keep their distance and instead approach or seek admission to the bounded space of the sacred.”  [Thomas Alberts, here]

 

Seduction

24/05/2012 § Leave a comment

The first book on my summer reading list is Jean Beaudrillard’s SeductionThis might have been a somewhat poor choice, given that I have not read Simulacra and Simulation. I have it on reasonable authority that Seduction is one of Baudrillard’s more opaque texts. He does a wonderful job of exploring and critiquing the hyperreal, the Marxist obsession with false consciousness. In some sense, I am still really grappling with the notion of seduction as the Trompe-l’oeil, as well as the power of reversal, but that’s another story and shall be told another time.  It also made me ponder The Game and ironic processing as seduction, which is also another story that shall be told another time. The first thing that struck me, reading Baudrillard, is the way he talks about women and feminism.

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