Saturday, May 01, 2010

This is the day when you're tired

and wonder in fragments about old patterns, and how they can change

This is the day when you have only two-plus-a-million major things to get done.

Friday, April 30, 2010

I used to have a rule about relationships: no one got to hit me. It was a bad rule.

I'm not for people hitting me--but: what has to happen for things to get that far? People, in this society, don't make that sort of choice out of the blue. Before that, there is a slow eroding of boundaries, a demolition (until he's trying to get you to stay) of all the things that made you want to be with him in the first place. By the time he thinks he might be able to get away with that--before he has a chance to get away with that--you are invested. By the time things have gotten that bad, you care about him--things are complicated--you know he can do better. And he can.

But he doesn't.

You might say that rule at least worked; no one ever did hit me, who I was dating. But, things got worse in different ways. Any time there's a sharp, clear line, people will find a way to work around it.

Now I have more and different rules. No one gets to threaten me with violence--not by saying something about it, not by throwing things or hitting things or knocking things over close to me, and expecting me to stick around. No one gets to try and change who I am--not even if they're trying to change me into something I want to be. That's my job. And, no one gets to treat me like I'm stupid.

I'm not stupid.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

I'm angry at the world about a roof.

My house needs a roof. I want a metal roof. It would last three times as long and be completely recyclable, and it costs two thousand dollars more. I don't have it. In order to get a metal roof, I would, basically, have to not spend money on anything for the next several months.

It's the small things, yeah? There's no reason I shouldn't have clothes that fit me and don't have holes in them, and buy fresh groceries, and own shoes that don't hurt to walk in, and have access to a swimming pool so that I can exercise on the days that hurt the most. I discover, this is a startlingly big part of taking care of myself--prioritizing my material needs. I hate that, to take care of myself now, there must be such a waste of resources--that to make it through one summer entails such a throwaway, a cheap and wasteful decision that will last fifteen years.

I'm not giving up, of course--creative and resourceful money management is in my brain and blood. Waste angers me.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

I came across an article this:

And then for contrast:

My thoughts:

1) The Lane Bryant model shown still represents the top 2% of the population for gorgeousness. What this comes out to is: including her in our standard of beauty doesn't necessarily make it more attainable--just different.

Still--she is the size, if not the shape, of the average American woman. So that's heartening.

2) Isn't it amazing how much sexier she is than the Victoria's Secret models? Since she has her own curves, she doesn't need all the camera effects and fanfare. Every time I see something like this I'm shocked with how much of a difference that makes; imagine, for instance, a full sized tinker-bell next to a real woman (say, Paris Hilton) wearing the same costume, and it becomes clear which is the more sexualized.

I think perhaps a skeletal standard of sexiness is a patriarchal way of integrating the virgin standard (alienated from one's body and especially one's sexuality) with the whore standard (sexually available).

3) Somebody made an edit to this and put it out on youtube. They replaced "meet Dan for lunch" on her phone with "the new Mcrib is back!" I actually like both versions. . . intentionally or not, this makes the point that a woman who is large can eat, and it's OK. Certainly she's not violating a beauty standard by doing so. Sensual enjoyment either way.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Early third wave was all about independence; do things for yourself as much as you possibly can. I'm a believer in the iron rule--never do for others what they can do for themselves. That's my standard of independence. I also believe in its unspoken corollary; don't hesitate to help people with the things they can't do for themselves. And, don't hesitate to accept help with the things you can't do for yourself. To complicate matters, independence costs more for some people than for others.

Sometimes the trade-offs aren't fair. I can spend a lot of time and money on taking charge of my own safety, but how much freedom do I loose for it? That, perhaps, is the most frustrating gender inequality that I see in my own life. I want to travel. I want to walk alone at night, to feel cool air and quiet and not fear. I want to spend my money on things I need, like repairs to my house, and things I want, like concerts and books and amazing food. I want to be in a relationship where I'm not paranoid about whether this is someone who would keep me physically safe, if I needed it.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

photo credit goes to my friend Adi Lopez :)

In keeping with my ongoing feminazi kick, this morning I picked up two books by Jessica Valenti.

The first is called Full Frontal Feminism; a young woman's guide to why feminism matters. I find it frustrating. I think she's trying to do the same thing that bell hooks is trying to do in Feminism is for Everybody (a book I highly recommend, though not as highly as Feminist Theory; from margin to center)--make an introductory primer, something that says, "this is what we are, what we are not, and why we are relevant to your life."

I see four main problems in Valenti's work. First, her writing isn't particularly focused or clear--it often includes disorganized rants. Second, she oversimplifies like there's no tomorrow. In fact, she oversimplifies like there's no ten minutes from now. Third, while I understand that she's trying to appeal to an audience of "young women," her approach (including a lot of swearing) definitely has no chance of reaching the audience that most needs it--young conservative religious types.

Lastly, this book hasn't done anything to improve my opinion of "pro-sex feminism". Though I like sex, I find it problematic to set it up as necessarily good. For instance, when I was a teenager I ran into a fair few guys with the approach, "sex is good, so you should have it with me--if you don't mind too much." Sex-positive doesn't really describe individual autonomy, in a strong sense, over one's own body. That includes respecting people's choice not to have sex, ever, if they so choose. Insofar as one has to weigh in on these things, I'd consider myself to be (politically) sex-neutral.

Also, though I appreciate the value of writing about feminism for women, I'm with bell hooks; feminism is for everybody. I'd prefer it if this were written in a way that's much more inclusive of men. I'm halfway through, we'll see if it gets better.

Thankfully, the second book (He's a stud, she's a slut, and 49 other double standards every woman should know) looks better. While some of the same snags are still present, the format--basically, two page chapters on a focused topic--does a lot to clean up her approach. It goes over all sorts of inequalities, from well known ones (viagra is routinely covered by health insurance, but birth control is not) to the more obscure (women pay more for the same cars and haircuts.) The format also lends itself to browsing, which I'm fond of. It's the kind of book I'd want to keep a copy of on my coffee table--good for a thought provoking two second reminder of how the little things don't add up.