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    Thursday, July 27, 2006

    Another Free Outdoor Film Opportunity!!!!

    Except this one is starting January. Huh? MOMA's showing Doug Aitken because, as Bloomberg said, “Great art brings people out of hibernation ..."

    There are good reasons people hibernate in NYC in January. Bitter cold and snow top the list.

    Oh, and did I mention it goes from dusk to 10pm? After the heat dies down, I guess.

    Wednesday, July 26, 2006

    Lance Bass Is Coming Out

    There's something kinda sad about this. Like, um, we know, honey. We're proud of you for saying it, but ...

    "I want people to take from this that being gay is a norm.


    Edited to add: Okay, upon reflection, I realize that this is actually really cool. One major reason being that he's an outspoken Christian and remains so after coming out. Besides the fact that it's (almost) always cool when a mainstream celeb comes out. So I apologize for last night's bitchiness.

    Linda Valdez on the IT Goddesses

    I am confused by this article.

    I have read it three times now and still. Not sure.

    The successful young women of today who've made "I'm no feminist" a mantra ought to get a little humility. They wouldn't have the vote, let alone a seat at any decision-making table, if it hadn't been for some mouthy women who were brave enough to be shrill and wise enough to be feminists.

    But these days, feminism has a decidedly unsexy image. So does Barres' call for women and men to unmask discrimination and fight for more family-friendly workplaces. Both feminism and frank discussions of discrimination are necessary.

    But they may not have the punch I need right now.

    At my house, the 15-year-old girl who used to say math and science were her two favorite subjects now says she wants to be a film actress. OK, I say. But how about a backup plan? Something like a medical degree, maybe? She chuckles.

    That serious image just can't measure up to the reality of Keira Knightley getting to give on-screen kisses to both Johnny Depp and Orlando Bloom, the two hottest men on the planet, according to my daughter.

    So maybe the Australians have the right idea.

    As a mother, I've always been a devotee of the School of What Works. Luring girls into a male-dominated occupation by showing the women who are in that field as sexy film stars might not be entirely honest. Or feministically correct.


    Also, does it strike anyone else as strange that the IT Goddesses used The Princess Diaries as one of their samples? No one's going to argue with Charlie's Angels or 10 but ...

    Friday, July 21, 2006

    The Other Woman as Rogue Animal Trainer

    Granny Gets A Vibrator's post on Cultural Appropriation in the zydeco scene got me thinking about something that is really not what Liz is talking about, but nevertheless interested me. The excerpt that started my train of thought:

    I began to notice that there was one segment of the Creole population that was far less friendly: the younger black women. Many of them totally ignored white people at dances, like we weren't even present; others were more openly hostile. I asked a black male friend of mine what this was about. He told me it was because these women were angry and fed up at the way white women were "stealing their men,"--dancing with them, using them, flirting with them, playing seduction games, and having sex with them.

    "But why me?" I asked him. Hell, I'm an old lady, 52! Why should these beautiful young women in their 20s feel threatened by an old middle-aged shlub like me? And my friend said, Because that's exactly who is fucking with their men: older women, women over 40, over 50, sometimes over 60. When the zydeco bands travel up north, all the musicians, mostly men in their 20s and 30s, sleep with older white women while they're on tour. When the older white women come down here as tourists, they have sex with the Creole men in droves. These white women don't care if the men are married or have girlfriends, they don't care what effect their little affairs have on families, friendships, children, the community. They just want to have their fun, collect their Creole "trophies," dance and fuck with the natives like they're some exotic ride at Disneyland.

    And no, the black Creole women are not just angry at the white women, they're also angry at the Creole men who participate. In fact black women boycott some of the zydeco bands because of the musicians' attitudes and treatment of black women. So this rift has been created within the community.

    Race aside, I never understand how a person who has been cheated on can place *any* blame on the third party. How are these white women discussed above, who are either tourists or residents of towns wherein these men are visiting and are therefore not rooted in the same community, supposed to know who's married and who's in a relationship and what arrangement people have whose relationship is worth preserving? If he doesn't care, why should she? Sex is about the consent of the people having it, not the consent of everyone that loves them. I wouldn't doubt that a lot of these white women are married or coupled with (probably) white men, who themselves wouldn't want their wives and girlfriends sleeping with other men. But that's why relationships are about trusting your partner. If you've agreed to monogamy, then you have to trust your partner to be monogamous. Because it's just plain dumb to expect the rest of the world to honor you and your wishes for your relationship, when they don't even know you, or sometimes know you exist. It's just plain dumb to act as though one's partner cheated because someone else was "playing seduction games" and one's partner was rendered helpless.

    I think the way we handle The Other Woman as this powerful, almost supernaturally so, dominating presence that compells the man to cheat is just an extension of our infantalizing of men in general. Women, whatever our sexual orientation, aren't expected to crumple into a wet pink throb just because someone swings a penis or a set of breasts in our direction. Much less, gives us some sexy glance from beneath the bandstand. Men, as always, are treated as children or animals, with no control over their own actions (except their unyielding ability to hold back tears). And so, they get compared to Fido or Shamu.

    I don't think that what the Creole women above are doing (and it's certainly not limited to them - it's by far the norm) is particularly different from what some idiot might write in the Modern Love section of The New York Times about training her husband like a performing dolphin. If you think your partner is an adult human, you see their choices as their choices and their weaknesses as their weaknesses. This blaming of The Other Woman makes it seem like infidelity is actually a property crime (hence the use of the word "stealing") perpetrated by The Other Woman against the cheated-upon-partner. You can't "steal" that which goes with you willingly. And given that the objectification of these Creole men is pointed out as one of the sins of the white women here, I'd say the Creole wives and girlfriends are just as guilty, though it manifests differently.

    And that brings me to another question: if you are having sex with someone on vacation and you don't know much about them, are you automatically treating them like a "ride at Disneyland"? I'm not saying some people aren't, but when Liz makes the comparison with Heading South, I'm a little puzzled because that's about sex tourism. The men in Heading South are prostitutes. (I don't automatically think they're being "objectified" either, but there's still a world of difference.) Is it possible for us to conceive of a casual sexual relationship as not exploitative? If so, is it possible for us to conceive of a casual interracial sexual relationship as not exploitative? Or is the old "jungle fever" explanation our culture's only way of comprehending this?

    Oh and what does the age issue signify here? The fact that these women are in their 40s and 50s (even 60s!) is made a point of - why? (I'm not saying it's not significant, I just need someone to tell me how.)

    Finally, what really are the ethics of casual sex outside one's race? Do these ethics change with age differentials, the gender of the participants, the races involved, income disparities, where people live?

    Congrats to Unmarried Hetero Couples in N.C.

    N.C. Law Banning Cohabitation Struck Down!

    A state judge has ruled that North Carolina's 201-year-old law barring unmarried couples from living together is unconstitutional.

    The American Civil Liberties Union sued last year to overturn the rarely enforced law on behalf of a former sheriff's dispatcher who says she had to quit her job because she wouldn't marry her live-in boyfriend.

    Deborah Hobbs, 41, says her boss, Sheriff Carson Smith of Pender County, near Wilmington, told her to get married, move out or find another job after he found out she and her boyfriend had been living together for three years. The couple did not want to get married, so Hobbs quit in 2004.

    State Superior Court Judge Benjamin Alford issued the ruling late Wednesday, saying the law violated Hobbs' constitutional right to liberty. He cited a 2003 Supreme Court ruling that struck down a Texas sodomy law.

    That ruling showed that "the government has no business regulating relationships between two consenting adults in the privacy of their own home," Jennifer Rudinger, executive director of the ACLU of North Carolina, said in a statement.

    She added that "the idea that the government would criminalize people's choice to live together out of wedlock in this day and age defies logic and common sense."

    Rudinger said that since 1997, the law has spawned about 36 criminal cases in North Carolina. State officials have said the number of people actually convicted under the law - formally known as the fornication and adultery statute - is not clear.

    The law also has been used to deny compensation to crime victims, child custody, health benefits, probation and parole, Rudinger said.

    The law states, in part: "If any man and woman, not being married to each other, shall lewdly and lasciviously associate, bed and cohabit together, they shall be guilty of a Class 2 misdemeanor."

    About 144,000 unmarried couples live together in North Carolina, according to the 2000 census. The ACLU says along with North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Florida, Michigan, Mississippi and North Dakota have laws that prohibit cohabitation.

    Only six states to go! Hooray for "activist judges"!

    What this means for queers, I don't know.

    Weekend Homework

    I seriously can't belief it's Friday already. Not working outside the house much (I'm still part-time, but it hardly registers) makes time seem strange.

    1. Having never had this issue come up for me or my friends or family, I'll admit I spend little time thinking about it, but organ donation numbers are very low and the system by which dead donations are distributed is woefully inadequate. Sally Satel's article comes out of her own struggles in getting a kidney replaced.

    2. If you're mad at Bush for the Stem Cell Bill, which you should be, here's yet another reason, beyond all the many people who will live and die with potentially curable illnesses. Starita Smith reminds us that Bush doesn't care about black people:

    The plight of black children in foster homes doesn't seem to be a priority for the Bush administration.

    On May 24, 2005, in his continuing courtship of the Christian conservative constituency, President Bush lauded families who have used a frozen embryo to bring a child into the world.

    The event, which took place at the White House East Room, showed that the administration and many of its supporters are more concerned with the potential life of embryos than they are with the children already living. Thousands of black, older and disabled children need homes. We have never as a nation put their lives at the top of our agenda.

    For many years, white couples who wanted to adopt healthy white American infants had difficultly doing so because of the short supply. Some of these would-be parents instead sought Asian, European and Latino infants. Others have forgone adoption altogether.

    Those white couples who would have considered adopting a black child faced a virtual ban against it, endorsed by the National Association of Black Social Workers in 1972.

    But any such restriction was nullified when the Multiethnic Placement Act of 1994 was signed by President Clinton, and today, no adoption crisis exists among people who adopt black children. These children, as well as older children and those who have disabilities, are in tragically large supply.

    3. Christopher Dickey in Newsweek paints a scary, scary picture of both Israel and Hezbollah as marching ever-forward with failing strategies as more people die, are injured, and are forced from their homes.

    4. I know you need some fun, so how about watching Work Out on Bravo (which Alessandra Stanley has decided is the premier gay network). If, like me, you don't own a TV, but do own a computer, you can watch it for free on iTunes! The protagonist is a hot ambitious lesbian personal trainer who owns her own elite gym in LA. What more can you want? (Well, if you do want more, there's the hilarious way her straight male trainer tries to "bond" with her by inviting her to a strip club, and there's also the fact that her girlfriend is addicted to biting, and, finally, Kristof St. John - "Neil" from The Young and the Restless - is an affable client.)

    5. Now, that you're inspired to get in shape, check out one of my favorite workout sites, run by a former feminist academic, now known as Mistress Krista.

    Thursday, July 20, 2006

    Thursday Links

    1. Figleaf's Training, conditioning, and control: animal-management techniques reacts to that most appalling of NYT Modern Love pieces, "What Shamu Taught Me About A Happy Marriage".

    2. From The Wo! Front, Abortion: Another Hurdle in US with establishment of fetal rights looks at cases in the US and Australia.

    3. NYT on the "ghetto tax".

    4. From Michael Young at Slate on Lebanon: Why the current attacks are worse than the siege of 1982.

    5. SMRT-TV on Freaks and Geeks episode "The Little Things".

    Wednesday, July 19, 2006

    Greenmarket Turns 30!

    I know you're distracted by "The Mommy Diaries", but, if you're over onNew York's website anyway, you should check out The Greenmarket Effect which profiles 4 family farms on this 30th anniversary of the NY Greenmarket. It might inspire you, if you're able to afford it, to buy as much as possible from the Greenmarket farmers (or it might make you jealous of how much $ they actually make).

    2nd Feminist Sci-Fi Carnival

    Find it here.

    P.S. At a party last night, discussing Battlestar Gallactica, someone said re: myself, "Does she look like the kind of person who'd like sci-fi?" I asked what that meant and he said something about how you don't expect women to like sci-fi. My partner A didn't think it was a big deal - something to do with the fact that I wasn't wearing glasses - but I just wanted to pass it onto my readers.

    Take the "Ask a Working Woman Survey"

    The AFL-CIO wants to hear from working women. Click here to participate. I must warn you, it might make you even more aware of how bad things are (at least it did me) for some of us. But it will be sent to every member of Congress on Labor Day.

    Tuesday, July 18, 2006

    "The System Worked"

    Salon's big story today is Jody Jenkins' story of being wrongly suspected of child molestation and pornography. You should read the whole thing: the innocent pictures, the investigation ... it'll turn your stomach what these people went through and will never forget.

    Searching for other bloggers' responses to the article, I came upon a blog called Unwilted and a post called "Salon goes Right Wing":

    Essentially, the author and another father took the kids camping. They took pictures of the kids skinny dipping, then got them developed. The store clerk reported the pictures. Instead of reacting with sincerity and cooperation, the author was defensive and uncooperative. His friend demanded to see the officer in charge of the investigation. He hired a lawyer. By his reaction, he made the process last longer than it normally does.

    The author also obstructed justice. On the drive to the forensic interview with the authorities, he told the kids that the state wants to take them away from home. He admits this in the article.

    All that said, the process worked. It worked more slowly than normal -- thanks to the author. But it still worked. There were no charges filed, and the state never even attempted to take the kids (when the children could be in danger, they take the kids right away -- so the state used appropriate restraint here). And now, the poor author (who has moved to France) complains about depression and tears. This guy has problems.

    This guy does have problems, problems caused by the trauma (it is trauma) of being investigated for something of which you are innocent. Here's how Jenkins describes the emotional aftermath of the investigation:

    Shortly after our case ended, we moved to France and I slipped into a depression. Perhaps it was something akin to the helplessness that victims feel. Or perhaps it resulted from suddenly being released from the constant and intense pressures of moving, combined with the fear and anger we had been feeling for so long. But I felt violated and exposed and vulnerable. In the mornings, we would awake and prepare our children and then hurry them to school. And on many days when I returned home, instead of getting to work writing I would go into the bathroom, sit on the toilet and cry uncontrollably.

    For months, I felt as though I was moving almost unconsciously through daily life, numb to the world and yet overly sensitive to everything. Finally one day, six months later, unable to bear the sense of helplessness and unjustified shame about what happened to us, I sat down at the computer and began to write about it. And I began to feel something shift inside me, a subtle but distinct change from a sense of powerlessness to taking back some sort of control of our lives. I wrote in a fury, and when I sent the story to my wife, she sat in her office and cried. I sent it to our friends who had gone through this with us. Although seven months had passed, they still had not come to terms with what had happened. Rusty's boss had been understanding, but they said their children still talked about it in the most unexpected moments. "My youngest daughter will say, 'Why did they think that, Mommy?'" Janet said. "'Why did they think we were drinking beer and doing things wrong?'"

    I truly think that, unless you've been there, maybe you can't understand. I didn't go through exactly what Jenkins and his friends and family went through: I was not accused of a sex crime, much less a sex crime against children, and nothing, nothing has a stigma like that. I didn't have to tell everyone in my life that I was being investigated, as these folks did. But I do believe I experienced at least a year of PTSD as a result of being wrongly accused and investigated. The invasion of privacy alone (they read emails between my partner and myself, found out details of my mental illness, sex life, family issues, etc) scarred me, the good cop-bad cop manipulations scarred me, the feeling of being so out-of-control, the abusive manner by which they used personal details about me in interrogations ... I seized up with rage around cops for years afterward. I was angrier than I've ever been and it destroyed my life in many ways. I was more criminally-inclined after that experience than at any other point.

    And this is me: a young (18 and 19 years old during the process) white woman in college at the time. Other than my mental illness and political beliefs (and possibly sex life - don't know because they didn't address that directly), I had all the advantages. And again, I wasn't accused of a sex crime against a child, which, in our culture, means you are guilty until proven innocent.

    I am really enraged when people can say that that experience means "the system worked". If that's what it feels like for the system to work, the system needs to be drastically reconsidered. If you've never been through it, it's not for you to say whether the system works. I'll bet you'd be hard-pressed to find a hand's fingers' worth of young urban black men who think "the system works". There's a reason why.

    When so-called liberals or progressives defend the faults of the criminal justice system and underplay the real emotional destruction it causes to both the guilty and the innocent, I feel the deepest futility. (And that includes some of the wack commenters on Pandagon.)

    Monday, July 17, 2006

    Austen's Power

    Jane Austen's Power by Laura Thompson tells us that any woman who likes Jane Austen these days is probably misreading her. When she sits on the train across from a woman paging through Pride and Prejudice, a voice inside Thompson says, "Poser!"

    The idea that Austen is just some sweetheart romance novelist to these women seems to have been fabricated by Thompson herself. Where's her evidence that these women "don't get it"? That they aren't as finely-tuned to the harshness of the reality Austen conjures as Thompson is. As soon as women make something popular we must immediately point out how they're wrong and stupid and cloying and too desperately middlebrow to ever understand. The assumption is that women only like mushy schmaltzy romance; they couldn't possibly be loving Austen for everything that makes Austen Austen, including her humor and wealth obsession and harshness.

    We also think that the "harsh reality" in a piece of art is always more interesting or important than any sort of romance. But the center of P&P, though it's brimming with fascinating bits, is most definitely the Elizabeth Bennett-Mr. Darcy relationship. That doesn't make it a bad novel, nor are those who fixate on that element of the text misreading. When you read a book once or twice, you are unlikely to remember everything about it. It doesn't mean you missed the things that don't spring to mind. Thompson, if memory serves, wrote her dissertation on Austen so she probably can afford to be a bit more aware of a character like Charlotte.

    Also, I haven't read any other novels classified as "chick lit" except the two Bridget Jones novels, the first of which I quite liked. (That's right, haters.) That said, from reading about them, I think that some of these writers are acutely aware of some of the "harsh reality" that Thompson believes they'd rather not contend with: class and beauty as two examples, and I would add generational conflict to that list myself. I haven't read it, but The Devil Wears Prada seems very much about those things.

    This just seemed like the kids who say, "You shouldn't even be allowed to wear a Ramones t-shirt if you can't name every track on It's Alive and recite the stage banter." Grow up.

    Old Navy Mascot Contest FRAUD

    Catherine at Poverty Barn reports on the scandal of the Old Navy Mascot Contest:

    Ok, so Old Navy had this bogus mascot contest where you can enter your dog. Right, so I entered Liam with this picture. He is a neighborhood favorite, after all!

    They held four fake casting calls where one of the judges even had the nerve to ask several questions about him, take his picture with her handheld and say that she wanted him. WHATEVER!

    So, he is not selected -- I can live with that part, but then I get this email to vote for one of the six semifinalists. Ok, again not so bad. But, then I click over and the dogs that they "claim to have selected" are the same ones that ran in the ads for the contest!

    The contest is/was BOGUS! Boycott Old Navy and their crappy clothes.

    I wish I could boycott wearing Old Navy in protest of this fraud perpetrated on the American public, but I'd say a good 90% of my clothes are from there. But Liam is so much cuter than the other dogs - sickening injustice. You can mess with people, but you ought not mess with their adorable innocent pets. That's when things get dangerous.

    Here's the real question though: Does German shepherd-collie, Sandi, from Bartlett, IL know the contest was rigged? How about you, border collie Josie of Mesa, AZ?

    APN: Send Former Presidents

    This is a really good idea:

    Americans for Peace Now called on President Bush to send his father and President Clinton to the Middle East on a peace-seeking mission.

    “President George W. Bush should immediately dispatch a senior presidential envoy or envoys to the Middle East, vested with the authority of the president and empowered to work with parties in the region, the U.N. and relevant world leaders to restore order and renew a political process capable of ending terrorism and violence,” Debra DeLee, the group’s president, said in a statement.

    Having recently read his memoir, I know that President Clinton is deeply invested in making peace in the Middle East and is highly aware of the issues involved. It seemed to me that this was perhaps the most important thing to him. And he and Bush I seem to make a good team these days.

    While they're out there, vested with the authority of the president, they could take a few side trips.

    Hat tip to That Black Lesbian Jew.

    When Prudie Attacks

    Has there ever been a less intuitive advice columnist?

    Dear Prudie,
    I am a 16-year-old girl in love with a 26-year-old man. This isn't the problem; I love him and he loves me, and he's never abused or coerced me into anything. We haven't had sex, even though I wanted to; he wants to make sure that I'm not doing anything I don't really want to. What is the legal status of my relationship? I'm in New Jersey, so what is the age of consent? I am tired of keeping our relationship a secret, but I will if revealing it would get him in trouble. That leads to the other part of my question—if I have to keep it hidden, how do I respond when people ask if I'm involved? I don't want people to think he's a predator, because he isn't.
    —Not a Victim

    Dear Victim,
    If you're not able to find out on your own if the love of your life will be committing statutory rape by having sex with you, then you're not old enough to consummate this relationship. (OK, I'll look it up for you. In New Jersey, the age of consent is 16—if the male partner is not a relative or does not have a supervisory position over you.) If Hamlet is still taught in high school, you've probably heard the phrase, "The lady doth protest too much." When you write about how great your boyfriend is, it's hardly reassuring to hear your protestations that whatever it looks like, he's not a sexual predator. Yes, if you agree to have sex with him, he won't get arrested. But I wish the fact that you are worried he could be makes you realize you should run from this relationship. While this guy sounds like he only has half a brain, at least he's using it because it's kept him from taking advantage of you so far. Do your parents know about him? If not, please tell them. That they will want to throttle him will be evidence that they are the ones who really love you.

    Prudie is a fucking nutjob. She is so distracted by the fact that the letter writer is 16 that she can't even think through a response. She just knows she doesn't want these two together, whether because Not a Victim was "not able to find out on your own if the love of your life will be committing statutory rape by having sex with you" or because this guy, about whom she knows nothing except his age and his lack of sexual coercion, "only has half a brain" or because being "worried he could be [breaking the law] makes you realize you should run" or, finally, and this is classic, because Not a Victim "doth protest too much". In this day in this country of unyielding terror of teen-adult sexual relations, a 16-year-old girl must shout her sexual agency from the rooftops to be heard and then told she's too loud, she must not mean it. She has to tell us her boyfriend is not a predator again and again because idiots like Prudie won't hear anything else.

    Edited to add: Read Jennifer from Ravings of a Feral Genius on the topic.

    Friday, July 14, 2006

    GO: 100 Women We Love

    It's not just the usual Ellen and Rosie, though they're in there. This year's list is AWESOME: not just NYers and Hollywood-types, not just white gals, not just cisgendered folks, not just young 'uns. If you're a queer woman, or a lover of queer women, you'll appreciate The Class of 2006.

    My Reaction to the WOC "Safe-Space" Thing

    Apparently, some white bloggers are objecting to being left out of WOC "safe-space". Their argument seems to be (and this is a patchy aggregate) that this inhibits coalitions. It doesn't. They remind me of the kid who thinks she has to be with her best friend every single day afterschool and at every lunch and recess and they have to sit next to each other on the bus both ways too, or else they're not really "best friends". Maybe that's a bad analogy, but I'm leaving it. Anyway, good people: stay out of safe spaces you're not supposed to be in. It's divisive (much more so than those spaces existing), disrespectful, pompous, and, frankly, fucking embarassing. Yes, it makes you feel left out, of course it does, if you are close with these folks. But it's not about you, it's not meant to hurt you, it's about what other people need.

    Weekend Homework: Depressing News + Sci-Fi Fun Edition

    Depressing News

    1.Ampersand has the best possible round-up of articles and posts on the "American Soldiers Arrested For Rape/Execution Of 14-Year Old Girl And Her Family".

    2. "Two Men Arrested, Eight Others Sought in Rape of 11-Year-Old Fresno Girl" article and commentary thanks to With My Nappy Headed Ass.

    3. From NYT, the latest as of 14 minutes ago: Israel Targets Hezbollah; Its Leader Calls for ‘Open War'.

    Sci-Fi Fun

    1. After reading my post about Lee and Kara, you probably want to run right out and rent Battlestar Gallactica, if you haven't yet. Go. It's the best sci-fi show I've ever seen.

    2. Recommend in the comments to this thread some more good sci-fi novels for my partner and I to read as bedtime stories. By good, I mean well-written, primarily, and not offensive. We're trying to read Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game, which was suggested by a friend, but it's bad.

    3. And, finally, beat this!!!!!

    Which Star Trek: TNG character are you?

    You are Captain Jean-Luc Picard. You are rather stern and bookish. However, you can win a moral argument with almost anyone and have held out against Klingon assassins.
    Take this quiz!

    Quizilla |

    | Make A Quiz | More Quizzes | Grab Code

    My Love Affair with the Almost Love Affair Between Starbuck and Apollo

    The most liberating TV moment for me in recent memory was in Season One of Battlestar Gallactica when Lee/Apollo punches Kara/Starbuck right in the jaw. She punched him, it hurt, he punched her back. There was no grabbing her wrists or holding her back, he decked her. And, for just a moment, gender equality rang through the flight deck and through my living room.

    Battlestar Gallactica doesn't condescend to its women fighters. Even the sickeningly sex kittenish blonde Cylon kicks ass, boney limbs no object. Her clash with Starbuck was no hair-pulling, shrieking, slapping catfight, but a full-on, fisted, grunting, groaning, gorey deathmatch. There was no playful eroticism, red-laquered nails razing moist pink skin, just unmitigated survival instinct and brute strength. And it was not over a man, it was war. I was in awe.

    But what grabbed me about the scene between Apollo and Starbuck was that it trounced taboo, by never noting the taboo ("Never hit a woman") at all. The audience may be shocked - He HIT her! - but Apollo and Starbuck are not. He doesn't run to her in apology, or flee only to return with ice and gauze and tears and shock at his own monstrous capacities - "My mama taught me never to hit a woman and I swore to myself I never would ..." - nor does she shame him - "Pick on someone your own size!" He's mad, she's mad, they're in love, and they're totally (despite the small matter of rank) peers and equals. Equals enough that his punching her is equivalent to her punching him. It's not "violence against women" which indicates that violence against any woman, in particular, is worse, because she, in particular, is naturally unable to fight back. Instead, it was portrayed as the violence that happens between two people (who happen to be military-trained) who are negotiating a complicated relationship. He was not expected to grip his jaw, wince a bit, and take it, out of some pedestalizing "respect for women". He respected her enough to dish out what he took, in unbracing justice.

    Commenter galveston says, on Television Without Pity's Satellite of Love: Relationships on BSG:

    I heard [show's creator Ron D.] Moore say on a podcast that the sexual tension with Lee was a big reason he made Starbuck a woman. If that's the reason why, it's the wrong reason IMO. Why couldn't RDM make the character a woman solely for the purpose of having a strong female character who's a good friend in the tradition of the old Starbuck and who's a kick ass pilot? What's wrong with that? What's wrong with her and Apollo being the dearest of friends, friends who would die for each other, without the contrived "sexual tension"? Why must there be sexual tension between the male and female lead?

    I would usually side with galveston. I'm sick of knee-jerk heteronormativity that results in the two attractive young people hooking up simply because one's male and the other's female. For years, I watched all-men and all-women movies almost in exclusivity in order to avoid another chemistry-less, clumsy, banter-filled, cutesy hook-up between two people who'd never have been attracted to each other offscreen. (Caveat: they do it in queer stuff too, it's just less grating most of the time.) But that scene between Apollo and Starbuck paid off their relationship in full, with no lingering sense that I was being toyed with.

    That scene didn't happen in a vacuum though. The show is intent on making Kara macho, while also not feeling forced (unlike, say, Rescue Me) to make her a lesbian. While BSG is in dire need of queer content, Starbuck's sexual appetite toward men (not just Apollo), paired with her toughness and competence, makes her a particularly unusual character. She doesn't need monogamy, though she clearly has strong feelings for Lee. And she doesn't take shaming around it; that's why she punched him.

    Lee, however, is no shrinking violet himself. The old-school mythical-feminist ideal of the quiet, sensitive, ever-yielding man bears little resemblance to the fighter pilot who put a gun to the head of his own commanding officer, embedded with terrorists, and, need I say it, socked the object of his affection in the face.

    Both Lee and Kara are tough and sensitive, smart but emotional, with strong beliefs, and strong defenses. In other words, they're a good match.

    There's all that and as CaptTightPants says on Satellite of Love:

    Personally, every time I see Lee and Kara onscreen, I am afraid my TV set might explode from the pure scorchy hotness of it.

    Feminists Love Sci-Fi

    After getting all excited about it, I managed to miss the First Feminist Sci-Fi Carnival at Written World.

    Pretty, Fizzy Paradise, host of the next carnival, Where No Woman Has Gone Before discusses the women of Star Trek: The Next Generation and manages to defend the dreaded Pulaski. I'm not convinced, but I am intrigued. :)

    I liked Crusher and Troi. Especially Crusher. There's no doubt that Data and Worf got the big story play, but I didn't find them mindless. The "girl talk" scenes of them doing stretches were dumb, but ... I guess that, as things go, I was pretty relieved by the relatively low level of sexism. Pathetic really to be defending TNG because it was less sexist, but I tend to do that.

    Thursday, July 13, 2006

    He Just Wanted Some Attention!!!!

    What the hell is with this title?

    Man Tries To Get Attention From Women, Arrested

    (AP) CRAIG, Colo. A Steamboat Springs man got a little more than he bargained for after allegedly trying to get attention from some women in a hot tub in Craig.

    Police said Arturo Martinez, 20, faced a charge of indecent exposure following his arrest late Tuesday.

    The women claim Martinez was whistling and "engaging in lewd acts" while trying to hide naked in the bushes outside a condominium complex.

    Authorities later tracked him down at another complex.

    Police said he put up a brief struggle as officers were trying to get him into custody.

    Another case of harassment read as men's desperation for women's love and kindness.

    Transsexual Neuroscientist on the Gender Gap

    I really, really love this guy. You will too.

    "Like many women and minorities ... I am suspicious when those who are at an advantage proclaim that a disadvantaged group of people is innately less able," Barres wrote in his four-page essay for Nature.

    He said he's haunted by memories of sexist bigotry during his female youth: "As an undergrad at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology," Barres wrote, "I was the only person in a large class of people of nearly all men to solve a hard math problem, only to be told by the professor that my boyfriend must have solved it for me. I was not given any credit."

    In his essay, Barres calls for specific efforts to improve science opportunities for female students and academics, including running fair job searches, improving women's chances of winning research grants, and making it easier for women to cover day care costs for their children.

    It's also helpful to cultivate male supporters, he said. "It has been 30 years since I was a medical student," Barres recalled, "but I still recall with gratitude the young male student who immediately complained to a professor who had shown a slide of a nude pinup in his anatomy lecture."

    Barres also treasures memories of his Harvard doctoral supervisor, David Corey, who encouraged the shy Barres to imitate aggressive male students by approaching distinguished scientific lecturers and asking them questions. Barres said such forthrightness pays off in any career, including science.

    "Life, even in science, is a popularity contest," Barres observed.

    Simone de Beauvoir Bridge

    Wow, weirdly cool. From the BBC:

    A footbridge in honour of the French writer and leading feminist Simone de Beauvoir has been opened in Paris.
    Designed in the form of two steel intersecting curves, it is part of a regeneration effort in south-eastern parts of the French capital.

    This is the city's 37th bridge and the first to be named after a woman.

    Good News: Sexism Is Not Bigotry

    Richard Thompson Ford tells us so:

    But what if these gay-marriage bans were not animated by anti-gay bigotry? What if they represent a deeper-seated anxiety about gender and gender roles? What if popular aversion to gay marriage has less to do with hating same-sex couples than with a deep psychological attachment to a powerful symbol of sex difference: the tulle-covered bride and the top-hat-and-tails groom?

    No one clearly admits this, perhaps because most people aren't sufficiently self-aware to name their deep anxieties—if they were, psychotherapists would be out of work. But you can hear the longing for secure gender identity in some of the comments of same-sex-marriage opponents. After San Francisco's same-sex marriage experiment, one observer in a red county nearby complained: "God made marriage for Adam and Eve; not Adam and Steve." It's telling that this objection to same-sex marriage doesn't rely on moral condemnation of same-sex couples but instead on the most primordial account of natural sex difference. ...

    How to reconcile the growing support for equal rights for gay Americans with the seemingly hardening opposition to gay marriage? It certainly suggests that homophobia is only part of the explanation for the widespread resistance to same-sex marriage. A lot of the resistance is less about sexual orientation than about sex difference. In other words, it's not about the difference between gay and straight; it's about the difference between male and female. By this logic, conventional marriage doesn't exclude gay couples from a special status reserved for straights; it excludes women from a special status reserved for men—that of husband—and excludes men from a status reserved for women—that of wife.

    It would seem that this guy's proposing that homosexuality and gender roles somehow interact in this wacky equation!

    Tuesday, July 11, 2006

    Rescue Me: Sexist?

    I don't watch the show, but did stumble on the fact that a rape occurred on Rescue Me. Then, I read an article about in NJ Star Ledger. Here's a bit of it:

    The writers had an opportunity to incorporate a more well-rounded woman into the guys' world with Laura, the female firefighter played by Diane Farr for parts of the first two seasons. Initially, Farr seemed there to fill the same role she played on Leary and Tolan's short-lived ABC cop comedy "The Job," as the tough woman who calls the guys on all their macho idiocy. Instead, Laura was thrown into an affair with Franco (a decision Tolan later regretted) and was proven to be incompetent at the work.

    That was the whole point of that character, according to Leary, who railed at length against the real FDNY's relaxed physical standards for female and minority applicants -- "She shouldn't have been there," he said of Laura. "She wasn't capable of doing it." -- before acknowledging that "I've met female firefighters from other parts of the country who are supremely physically able to do the job."

    In fact, Leary and Tolan are considering adding a new female firefighter next season, who Tolan said might be "a lesbian or somebody who's extremely capable in the job and the guys have to deal with that. They'll do the same thing, they'll say she shouldn't be there, but she'll prove herself and they'll have to accept her. And then you'll be getting that woman's viewpoint from a woman they are forced to respect for her abilities."

    But right now, these are the female characters we have, and this is the scene we got, including Tommy's "I came, I saw, I conquered" expression as he walked out of the apartment -- which, to those who viewed the incident as rape, played as the show's endorsement of it.

    My favorite part is the suggestion that only lesbians, among women, would be capable of being firefighters. Yeah, why don't they get Jenny from The L Word? I was thinking of Starbuck from Battlestar Gallactica, but she's into guys, so I doubt she could do it.

    Now, I can't say for sure that the show is sexist having never seen it, but I don't doubt the makers are.

    Tuesday Links

    1. My partner A came home aghast after seeing the new fucked up SONY Playstation ads: "White is coming". I hadn't seen them, but was shocked and appalled, and was going to look them up and link them for your co-shock (that's what readers are for), but nubian beat me to it and even has the address and phone number for complaints.

    2. That Black Lesbian Jew publishes Diane Finnerty's "An Open Letter to My White Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Sisters and Brothers".

    3. Carnival of Bent Attractions! Happening at Aman Yala.

    4. Carnival of Feminists! Happening at Clare's place.

    5. Having just been told, upon sharing the challenges of teaching, that I should see it again, I was interested to read White Bear's "Why I Dissed Dead Poets Society".

    6. Noah Cicero writes two knockout posts, Last Night My Brother Called and More Television-Humans.

    Queer TV News: A Mixed Bag

    Planetout's "Inside the TV Gay Guide" thrills me with the introduction of Mario Lopez (A.C. Slater) into the cast of Nip/Tuck, then chills me with the news that he'll be a homoerotic fling for our beloved bad-good-guy Christian, but I got that icky sicky clammy feeling reading that Karina Lombard will be back as "sultry Marina" on The L Word. You'd think that'd be the last straw and I'd quit it with that show, but ... I know I'll tune in for another miserable, agonizing year.

    Pathetic Good News

    Let's give it up for Neil A. Lewis and John O'Neill for this headline:

    In Big Shift, U.S. to Follow Geneva Treaty for Detainees

    (I know, I know, they probably didn't write the headline. So let's give it up for whoever.)

    We can all thank the Supreme Court for this news, which shouldn't be news, but is. Vindication too for the military experts, yet again. Why do they have these guys if they just ignore them, I wonder.

    Monday, July 10, 2006

    Are We Not Liberal?

    Gay Ruling Shows New York Is Less Liberal Than It (and the U.S.) Thinks from NYT takes on New Yorkers' political self-perception. Apparently, we're not that liberal.

    I just got back from Colorado though, and, um, New York feels pretty liberal to me. Just saying.

    "The key will be how many people start arriving at Lincoln Center in pickups with gun racks," he said. Thanks, Christopher Buckley. That is the key, isn't it? You're still liberal until you've got the pickups. It's not really about voting.

    Which is kind of the point here. It's not people's voting patterns that make folks think NY is liberal. As Sam Roberts points out, NYC has elected several Republican mayors. The difference is cultural, and that is no small thing. Americans are not going to start envisioning NY as a bastion of social conservatism because of this appalling same-sex marriage thing. Why? Because same-sex couples walk down the street hand-in-hand. Because getting married at 18 here is uncommon. Blah, blah, blah.

    The other thing is that, in NYC, the people who are super-religious tend not to be "prominent figures" (read class into that as thou wilt), unlike in, say, Colorado. Everyone can vote in NY, but you won't see the "culture" of most of those voters represented because they don't have the money/power.

    I Took a Few Extra Days

    because, though I returned Thursday night from a truly lovely time with family, I found out Friday that I lost my job. I needed some time, friends, to process. By the way, thanks for all the sweet comments while I was away.

    Anyway, let me ask you this: is this about gender? I have to hand it to Randy Cohen - he tried pretty hard to keep that out of his answer. But I would have taken it head-on: if the girlfriend had escaped, wouldn't we cheer?