Thursday, June 30, 2011

On girlhood

Okay, so I'm a girl. This may come as a shock to those of you who are convinced that I'm actually a 63-year-old man from Little Rock trying to fulfill his need for adulation and sexual affirmation via an assumed identity. (But seriously, folks, if I were a dude trying to adopt a sexy female alter ego, do you think i'd go for 30-year-old underpaid marketing writer writer with a steady boyfriend and an addiction to Dr. Who? It's kind of niche.)

Ask me, though, and I'll self-identify as a girl. Sometimes a lady, under certain circumstances. I was called a dame once and found it most entertaining. But generally, it's "girl"--and almost never "woman."

I don't know what it is about "woman" that doesn't sit right with me. It's not that I'm not a female of the species who presents as such. It's not even that I don't consider myself an adult, although my standards for real adulthood tend to differ from those of people who usually don't wear feather earrings to the office. And it's not that I cling to girly-girlness--I do love a brand-new hairdo, but I despise pink, ruffles, "princess," "diva," French provincial, and non-ironic marabou. So maybe I'm not exactly a girl. But I feel I'm not yet a woman.

Karen Duffy would take issue with that--"girl" is a pet peeve of hers. She writes,
I cringe when I hear the women from "The Real Housewives" accuse their cast mates of acting like "mean girls." Sure, the dames on reality television are cruel, narcissistic and self-absorbed (and I love every minute of it), but girls? For these women, girlhood was more than 30 years ago.
A not-unreasonable observation. There's definitely a disconnect between "girl" and "housewife," and it's odd to think of someone as a "girl" when she herself has given birth to several of them. But the real concern seems to be not that they're identifying as girls but that they're acting like them. I can't say I've actually seen any of the "Real Housewives" shows myself (and I'm okay with that), but they, like pretty much all other reality TV these days, seem to be heavy on the gossiping, plotting, snubbing, sniping, and backstabbing that we all should have gotten over in high school.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

On the hidden enemy lurking within 49.3 percent of the U.S. population

Okay, so The Boy and I got into a lengthy discussion recently over a blog post by Dilbert cartoonist and all-around dickweed Scott Adams asserting that recent "tweeting, raping, cheating, and being offensive" by some "powerful men" is really just them giving in to their manly urges, urges that are "shameful and criminal" in a world that values only the natural instincts of women.

The Scott Adams part of this post

In Scott's words,
The current view of such things is that the men are to blame for their own bad behavior. That seems right. Obviously we shouldn’t blame the victims. I think we all agree on that point. Blame and shame are society’s tools for keeping things under control.

The part that interests me is that society is organized in such a way that the natural instincts of men are shameful and criminal while the natural instincts of women are mostly legal and acceptable. In other words, men are born as round pegs in a society full of square holes. Whose fault is that? Do you blame the baby who didn’t ask to be born male? Or do you blame the society that brought him into the world, all round-pegged and turgid, and said, “Here’s your square hole”?
By all means, correct me if I'm drawing weird connections here, but I'm digging through my limited and dusty knowledge of propositional calculus to make sense of whatever the hell he's saying. If someone could please, in comments or via e-mail, characterize it some other way than "raping and cheating are only bad because society caters to women," I'll give you a nickel. The whole lion-and-zebra thing really reads like "Some dummy put rapey men and rapeable women in the same habitat! Man, whatcha gonna do, right?"

Monday, June 27, 2011

On being this many (redux)

NB: As I was preparing this post, I was all, "Man, it's been so damn long since that last post, and that whole no-power thing really blew, and I'm so glad to be finally getting back to posting." I put my laptop aside to go run some errands, and… CAME HOME TO NO MOTHERFUCKING POWER. AGAIN. I wish I were shitting you. So now we've officially spent more time this week without power than with it, and we've had to throw out food, and do you know what it smells like in a house that doesn't have air conditioning but does have a storm-phobic rat terrier? YES, IT SMELLS LIKE THAT. So I'm glad to be returning to posting, not just because I miss my reader(s) but also because it means I have lights and AC and access to a coffeemaker or blow drier or circular saw or whatever else I want that runs on electricity. So… moving on.

Okay, so I actually have a decent excuse for not posting for most of the week--our power was out for the better part of three days following a 15-minute thunderstorm. And it sucks, because I actually had stuff to post, or at least that I would have gotten ready to post had I not been forced into the Luddite hell of pen and paper by candlelight.

One thing that I missed out on? My own seventh blogiversary. (The seventh is supposed to be wool or copper, or possibly big metal chickens, so make your gift purchases accordingly.) Seriously, I've been doing this for seven years. If this blog were a kid, it would be in first grade. So really, it could be writing itself, albeit laboriously on that special paper with dotted lines.

Looking back over the past seven years, I see more than 900 posts--three and a half bazillion words--of stuff that's important to me, some of it societally significant, some of it even world-changing, and some of it so trivial that it's probably not even interesting to my reader(s). There's one thing about me when I get passionate, though: Sometimes, my word choice becomes… less than optimal. My dear aunt says swearing is unattractive, my grandmother said it's a sign of a weak mind, and my mother cringes when she hears verbal naughtiness (despite having a potty mouth of her own, on occasion, due to my own horrible influence), and they're all right. However, as they say, behind the mouth of a sailor lies the heart of a poet,* and I generally let such words fly in moments of passion and fervor. One can guess that they appear in important places. Thus my seven-year review follows them like something you follow to see where it's going.

Seven Years of Practically Harmless, in Words My Mother Disapproves Of

On Mashup Monday: Happy blogiversary to me edition

Okay, so it's late--my blog actually turned seven last Tuesday. But I do have a reasonable excuse for holding off the celebration. Until now. And that celebration begins... now.

In honor of me, I give me the gift of five great tastes that taste great together.

The Beatles/Joan Jett/Cypress Hill/House of Pain/Rage Against the Machine - Mash Together

Thanks for sticking with me. Regular posting to recommence in three... two... one...

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

On outing and hypocrisy*

*In which we expose our own hypocrisy by outing others

Okay, so it's so common it's not even a funny cliche anymore: a legislator who uses his virulently anti-gay leanings to mask his own homosexual proclivities. Most recently, it's New York State Senator Carl Kruger, who railed against gay marriage during the day and entertained a male lover by night (and who has since changed his vote on gay marriage). Previous offenders have included Larry "Wide Stance" Craig, Ted "Sexual Immorality" Haggard, and Mark "Pageboy" Foley.

Now, in the wake of Kruger's outing, Salon ponders whether "outing" someone is okay as long as it's a conservative, closeted politician--"… reporting on a politician's sexual orientation serves the public interest," says column author Alex Pareene. I couldn't agree less.

I'm unequivocally opposed to outing anyone--even schmuck bastard bigoted closeted politicians. Sexual orientation is something personal and private, not something you do but something you are, and the exposure or concealment of said orientation is no one else's business. We talk about homosexuality as being natural and nothing to be afraid or ashamed of, but we're frequently comfortable using it as a weapon against political opponents--when we say we're trying to "expose their hypocrisy," usually what we mean is we're trying to punish them, using the secret shame that any other day we'd insist shouldn't be secretive or shameful.

Note to us: Either homosexuality is shameful or it isn't. If it isn't, we shouldn't be using it as a weapon. We'd never justify the outing of a gay teenager or adult to settle a score, so it doesn't make sense to arbitrarily justify it for a closeted congressman--even an anti-gay hypocrite--who's obviously keeping his sexual orientation secret for a reason.

Friday, June 10, 2011

On Baby-Sitters Club Super Mystery #last: Chapter 5

Okay, so first, a note: The characters, places, and situations created for the Baby-Sitters Club series are the property of Ann M. Martin and Scholastic. (If they were mine, you know Janine would have gone all A Beautiful Mind by now.) Everything that isn't real life and isn't Ann M.'s is mine, and if you violate my copyright, I will cut you. On with the show.

In our last episode, Mallory had herself a little sleepover.

Chapter 5.

“Does everyone have sunscreen?” I couldn’t believe what a mother I’d turned into. I’d always prided myself on being so laid back, even when I was a baby-sitter. But now that I had two of my own, I had to hold myself back from hovering.

Calantha rolled her eyes. “Yes, Mom,” she said.

“Yes, Mom,” Teal echoed, doing a decent four-year-old attempt at Calantha’s all-pro eye-roll. I had to keep an eye on that one.

“You put it on them yourself, Mom,” Brent said, eyes all sparkly in that way that kept me from hitting him, and he kissed me on the cheek. He pulled into Sharon’s—Sharon’s and Richard’s—driveway. “And I have an extra bottle of it. We’ll all be fine.”

I grabbed his face and kissed him on the lips. “I know. You take good care of my girls.”

Thursday, June 02, 2011

On Baby-Sitters Club Super Mystery #last: Chapter NOTHIN'

Okay, so we regret to inform our reader that this week's installment of our ongoing unauthorized epic Baby-Sitters Club sequel quasicollaboration will be... not here, due to a trip that kept me literally in the wilderness for five days. By way of apology: two baby chinchillas in wine glasses.

Regular totallynotfanfictioningIswear will resume next Thursday night.

On personal safety: Are you rape-proof enough?

Holy mother of God!

Okay, so I had to borrow the title of this post from jfwlucy on a recent post at The Frisky, because it's both pertinent and sounds like an OK Cupid quiz that would come with little check boxes. But the subject matter is a little more serious: It's the author's assertion that being drunk is a feminist issue. (Via Feministe.)

Why does Kate Torgovnik believe that being drunk is a feminist issue? It's because sometimes, drunk women get raped. Women + rape must make it about feminism, so drunk = feminist issue it is. She's not blaming the victim, BUT (ding!) if women drank less, they wouldn't get raped so much. She even has statistics--sobering statistics (ding!)--to prove it.

O sweet Raccoon God, we're talking about this again. As if it had never come up before, we're presented with the realization that rapists prey on vulnerable women and drunk women are more vulnerable. Shocking and new and certainly worthy of the same rehashing and analysis it's been getting for decades now! Certainly something that hasn't been discussed on this very blog once or twice or thrice or whatever comes after thrice.

And there's certainly argument for drinking responsibly--it's good for the soul, it's good for the skin, and it's always better to be more in-control than less in-control. Of course, Torgovnik points out, in an ideal world, rape wouldn't exist, BUT (ding! Yahtzee!) we don't live in an ideal world. This is true. The question is how far we should be expected to go to offset that un-idealness. In an ideal world, priests wouldn't fondle little kids, but this isn't an ideal world--yet parents still take their kids to church. In an ideal world, terrorists wouldn't hijack planes, but this isn't an ideal world--yet people still fly. In an ideal world, rapists wouldn't attack runners in the park, but this isn't an ideal world--so what are we expected to do, get a treadmill and live in fear?

I'm not going to go into the whole argument a thrice-plus-one-plus-another-one time, because my view is simple: Life is a calculated risk, and everyone--man or woman--makes choices that someone else will disagree with. There is no choice that anyone--man or woman--can make that excuses the actions of the one who victimizes them. We love to harp on a rape victim's dress/sexual history/blood alcohol content/choice of parking spaces because it gives us a false sense of security that rape can be avoided by following a few simple rules. And "I'm not blaming the victim, but" is the clarion call of the person who's actually blaming the victim.

But how about that quiz, huh? How rape-proof are you? Ten quick questions, and you'll know for sure!