Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The Female Gaze is in the house, yo

Via fastlad, Latte D. Kyd, a Canadian feminist rapper who (along with six other women) was an emcee for the 1st Ladies of Hip Hop against RAPE concert last January. She is also aesthetically and erotically fond of large testicles.

I was already a fan of the (white, straight...fierce and funny) Princess Superstar:

"I've been thinking about Kool Keith's ass for a long time now
Thinkin about how I gotta get out find out where he hangs out with his pants down
I know he likes porno stacks and cable, mentally unstable
But that's ok I'll cook dinner then make him dance naked while I medicate
him and clean off the kitchen table
He lives in LA I hate it there but I got big blonde hair so I'll fit in,
visit my Grandma, play her my new CD
And then from there go to Burbank, sit in the studio audience of Jeopardy,
make Keith take me to
Universal Studios, Disneyland, Viper Room, then he'll get in bed with me
I mean, the guy needs a little therapy.
"It depends how much you're willing to destroy my career"
Ha! That's what he says to me? How ya gonna say that Mr. Dr. Doom insane
rat sandwich Dr. Octagynocologist Obscenity
... I just wanna cuddle up against the bare moon, I wanna spoon
He could sing me "Blue Flowers" in my ear, but maybe this time, it'd be in tune
Look Keith, if you're listening send me an aol email, I'm a hot female, I
keep it real, representin what?
Your butt."

" ...Dot commers don't affect migrant farmers, Bronx Bombers get paid enough to help all the baby mamas
I'm a vomit this 'til all the lobbyists in congresses keep their promises and the artists are all real artists
And the fathers finish what the fuck they started..."

On a slightly different track, Lis Riba provides a pointer to what is probably the closest thing currently available to a filmed version of female-authored male-on-male porn (aka slash): a video montage of...well, see for yourself.

(note: probably not safe to open at work)

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Dear asshead Republican corporate swine fuckstain:

The only reason that I got through the day at your shithole of an office, even apparently garnering praise from you, I heard second-hand--I'm "terrific," that's lovely-- is that I knew that, unlike the moth-eaten half-damned souls who've been been bleeding whatever once was of their vitality into your gaping black hole of an ego for dog's years, I am never gonna see your withered grey bowtied ass again. And that would have been true even if it wasn't a one-day fill-in assignment. Not for ten times my usual payrate. Not if the only alternatives were starvation or phonesex with plushie Barney fetishists.

For that matter, I'll have you know, after that first outburst this morning? when you swore at me because I didn't take a phone call for you in exactly the way you wanted, five minutes after I arrived, even though I was right in the middle of the "orientation" being given by your frantic, beaten-down underlings? After you stomped back into your corner office with the magnificent 270 degree view of Manhattan, you entitled, bloated toad, and I listened to yet more half-terrified, half-resigned low-pitched wittering about how "difficult" you were, (although, apparently "at least that's as bad as he gets, tee hee!") and how if I did such-and-such a thing wrong you'd "scream"--I said to my supervisor for the day, who's clearly so chronically on edge she's positively vibrating, I said to her, calmly and coldly,

"If he screams at me [again], I'm leaving."

She nods, all round pale eyes. Apparently she'd already called the temp office, she says, and told them...something. presumably some genteel way of saying that you were being an abusive fuckwad, and I might not be able to hack it, poor dear. Whatever. She goes, "Well, I hope he doesn't, for your sake...and mine." "Me, too," I said aloud. But actually, no--on second thought, I actually don't give a fuck; I've made up my mind, and sorry lady, but you're not my table. And with that, a wondrous calm came over me.

So the poor slobs finally leave me the hell alone, after a last barrage of hasty instructions (don't do this! make sure you do that!! come get us if you have ANY question about ANYTHING, o please please please DON'T LET HIM EXPLODE AGAIN, WE'LL DIE), and I'm able to figure out what the fuck it is you want. Mostly it consists of printing out every single email you receive, which task takes pretty much the whole day because there are very many emails, attachments and all; all because you are apparently too Important to learn how to use a fucking computer. Whole forests have probably been decimated in the service of your narcissistic assiness. So, fine, whatever; it passes the time. And I do it, and a few other things. (I cannot fucking believe that it's your assistant's task to "remind you" every day to tell her whether she needs to call your housekeeper in your other house on Lake Ratspooge, on account of you're gonna go there while you do whatever the fuck it is you actually do).

Whatever it is you actually do--oh, yes, that. I'm sure it's terrifically important. Apparently it has something to do with "hedge funds." During a moment of relative quiet, when one of the wheyfaced little dormice came over to do something for you, which was urgent (as it turns out, it's printing out photos of your wretched little grandchildren winning some sports trophy or something), I asked her,

"So, what exactly is a hedge fund, anyway?"

She goes, "It's, well, it's...there's a fund, and we...invest it. --I don't really know; I don't have a financial background either."

Nod. "How long have you been working here?"

"Five years."

But you know the most pathetic part? Not even that these people, like oh so many others, spend the bulk of their lives shuffling papers in the name of they don't even know what for. The really pathetic part is, so clearly, most of these peoples' whole jobs had nothing to do with even the necessary office-grunt work. No; their job was to nurse you, essentially. Because you are Very Very Fucking Important, and nothing says Very Important better than a grown man who can't figure out how to use his own computer, needs constant attention, and throws tantrums whenever things go even slightly not his way. You worthless gob of swine smegma.

And you know something else? I will bet a smallish amount of money that well over half of everything that's wrong with the world, including the creation of the system that supports these soulkilling "businesses" that grease so many wheels and misery (oh yeah: among the charts and reports I printed out was one asking the question we all want to know the answer to: "Who can expect to profit in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina?")--I will bet, you cockroach, that something like 70.8% of the world's pointless, stupid and evil activities are done primarily in the service of not bringing down the wrath of bullying assholes like you.

Fear. Your whole building reeked of it. Fear and implosion and dull despair masquerading as insipid perkiness.

So, I'm glad that you were pleased with my work, fuckstick, but I'm glad precisely because I understand what it means about me, and how far I've come: I genuinely didn't care if I pleased your sorry ass or not. I did what I did because I wanted the paycheck; as such, I was able to be pleasant and efficient for the rest of the day. Years ago, it would have been a completely different story. I would have taken your nastiness on board; I would have taken it personally; I would have been devastated.

So, three cheers for actual growth. I may not have climbed too far up the career ladder these past few years. But if all I took from my path was the ability to understand that in the final analysis, assholes like you don't mean shit, no matter how "powerful" you are--goddamit, I'm gonna be just fine.

As for you, m'dear: enjoy your lunches at La Grenouille and your minging little rages. You're gonna die one day, just like the rest of us; if not from a coronary, then something else equally banal, no doubt. Like you and your serfs, I, too, am gonna shuffle off this mortal coil one day. Unlike y'all, I'm alive now.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

When "Bang Your Head" gets taken a little too literally

The conservative top 50 rawk! songs of all time, as laid out here:

and here.

Guess which one's the parody.

And now, an ode to my favorite radical feminist

Mind you, Hothead doesn't necessarily see herself as a "radical feminist," exactly; she never said she was a "radical lesbian," so what the hell does it mean that "some rigid dyke with a pole up her ass" once told her she wasn't "a radical lesbian in her book" 'cause the Hotness eats meat and talks about sex out loud?

Nah, Hothead doesn't have much truck with most of the dogma. She keeps lesbian sex rags, has the hots for Sharquee the "black, dyke, witch, prostitute" psychic card-reader, and knows from what to do with a handful of clothespins and a good-looking transgendered love-object, Daphne (no, you don't need to know from what to what, or what Daphne's genitals are; what are you, Louie Lunkhead from the Bronx?) on a hot, sweltery summer night.

Hothead knows what she wants: a world where it's beachy weather all the time, the women walk fearlessly down the street, topless and in love, men are dreamy peaceful flower children, hermaphrodites abound, and the "queer," the freaky, the unabashedly erotic are the norm. Even the spiders are friendly. Pretty simple needs, really.

Instead, she finds herself in a world where this shit keeps happening:

Aannnd now, heap on top of that taste of everyday homophobia: constant pressure from the media and elsewhere to be a helpless girlie girl girl and take whatever shit men, straight folk, the world wants to dish out; miserable New York cold and/or sticky oppressive heat 10 months out of the year; unmedicated bipolar disorder; and overall being "sentenced to live in a rich white banker's scrotal sac." Add to that: being a smart sensitive woman in a world fulla stupid and mean, and o' course, all the unnecessary legal and social miseries heaped on her and hers. Marinate in approximately 90 cups of coffee per day, and an endless parade of horrible sexist TV images (which she won't turn off) . Tamp down well, seal in a development so arrested it's positively fossilized, set her evil personality #2 to set watch over the whole thing, and...stand...well...back...

from Diane DiMassa's preamble to the canon:

I wonder what would happen if say, some lesbian really checked out for lunch, you know, like say her brain just totally shit the bed one day, and she starts believing everything she sees on TV. So like, while she's going about her daily queer routine, all this T.V. crap is seeping in and she's getting psychotic, and like she needs therapy really bad, but she doesn't know it? I bet her boundaries would be really fuzzy. I bet she'd be lots of fun* to be around. I bet she'd be a real


(*while we're on the subject of "fun:" you know that famous Andrea Dworkin quote,
"I'm a feminist. Not the fun kind."?

I mean:
1) "not fun"=! "therefore, deserves to be taken more Seriously." and
2) who says being militant and furious can't be fun? I happen to think Valerie Solanas was oodles of fun. Crazier 'n' a shithouse rat, true,!)

In addition to a full arsenal of guns, grenades, axes, mallets and chainsaws, (not to mention the infamous rip-the-rapists'-spines-out-through-their-assholes episode), Hothead has a number of other methods of dispatching oppressive straight men and their enablers. She pushes a typical beer-n-bikini billboard ("Ape Piss Dark") onto the team of men who created it...twenty stories below. A couple of white supremacists make her so angry that she causes them to spontaneously combust. A horrible homophobic mink-coated woman (along with her over-pampered son and her invisible "spritzhead" daughter) is firmly escorted off the premises and then the planet by helpful aliens who've also had enough, finally, of her "rotten, crappy energy." ("First stop, Planet Toilet. Here's your scrub brush.")

All of which is completely excellent and kosher in my book. Hey, if you're gonna smash the patriarchy, then smash the patriarchy. (And use the tiny shattered remnants as compost, the better to eventually plant catnip for your kitty and basil for your Grandma).

And yet, and yet...and yet. Hothead, like so much else in this world, is more complex than she first appears. Certainly taken in the context of her entire world. Sooner or later, she'll plunge from her manic, gleefully murderous high; the ensuing depression keeps her in her apartment for weeks and months at a time. The near-hysterical laughter and fury can turn on a dime to tears (and vice versa).

She does have friends on her side--Roz, the blind boomer Buddhist, ever kindly even when angry; Chicken, loyal kitty sidekick who's as stable as Hothead is erratic; her (mystically, perhaps) Catholic, rifle-toting, Gramma, who feeds her love and sustenance; and even, maybe, just maybe...


Well, not by that name.


Infinite Wisdom?

Lampy? (in Hothead's dream journeying, the Divine bears an uncanny resemblance to the lamp on her nightstand).

(Apparently, the real name is Donna Summer; the disco diva stole it from Her).

But Hothead can't really see who or what she has for more than a few fleeting seconds at a time. Her "armor," the "evil personality #2," is too heavy; increasingly, as the book progresses, there are signs that it's no longer serving her.

And it becomes more and more apparent to us, if not to Hothead (bless her little black boots), that in fact, she's lost the plot. What she's doing is fun and all, and Kali knows, deserved; but ultimately it's hurting her more than it is anyone else.

(Some peoples' interpretation of the threefold/karmic law in paganism: it's not so much that what goes around, comes around as that it takes at least three times as much energy--any kind of energy-- building up in yourself, as you'll need to project it far enough into the external world to cause an effect).

In her later days, Hothead either actually attempts suicide or comes close enough to seriously scare her friends. In the aftermath, Roz gets inside that armor just far enough to elicit this revelation from the normally not-self-insightful-at-all Hothead:

I feel like I'm in a science fiction movie and everyone got a part but me! I'm lost on this planet. Alien to any tribe or race. I'm scared shit of people, and places. Somebody left me, small fry, out overnight. I can't see through the downpour, corralled by fears that have become the parameters of my life! The only way I can get through the day is to push my feelings so far away that I'm the last to know...I can't get bigger...stuck-wrapped bound tight in the duct-tape of my emotions. My antenna is out all the way, poking into the bullshit, and I get transmitted lightning-rod-feet-in-the-puddle-rage...

I rage out there, out and away, because as long as I'm far out in the stroke zone I don't have to step into here, the abandoned nursery, where I might trip over some old yellow bones and fall through a hole into the basement where I'll be face to face with the storage vault, which will disappear me! I'm caught in a loop of wanting and stunting short. The loop is getting sickeningly small and I'm wearing my stomach for a hat. Mostly, I fight with myself, wrestling over a magic trick that I was just about to perform but got interrupted. I'm too tired to run and I know that if I sit still, gleaming surgical scalpels will come singing out of a black sky in perfect formation to fillet me...

And in that moment of blinding realization...she goes on yet another rampage. Kill the demons of depression and anger and despair and inertia and...! KILL THE FUCKERS DEAD!! YAAAAA!!!

"Was this the plan?" wonders Roz, who was undoubtedly aiming for something a bit more Zen.

"Well, everyone's allowed room for their own interpretation!" replies Donna/Lampy.

And although Hothead seems to be making some glacial progress of a sort by the last issue--she manages to go twenty-four hours without doing anything more destructive than breaking a bathroom when it's revealed that she and the homophobic oit who supervises her granny's building actually kinda sorta...(gasp!) like each other--the interpretation is still open.

Assume that the world really is the craptastic, homophobic, misogynistic, racist, top-down, hate-and-dirt filled, damn-near unfixable mess that it appears. Now what? What is to be done?

Everyone's allowed room for their own interpretation.
I enjoy Hothead's.
But I love Diane DiMassa's.

Now, I realize that there are those who don't see humor as an effective instrument for change. "Malestream," did I read somewhere recently? Something or other about the tools of the master?

(DiMassa's tools will never dismantle de master's house!!!)

(sorry. sorry. sorry.)

Welll...everyone's allowed room for their own interpretation. Plenty o'room in this house, after all.

We'll all see what is or isn't effective for personal *or* political change.
In the long run.
I expect.

In the meantime, I maintain, laughing matters. Anger matters. Lust matters. Wield them as you will; they're yours, as tools or weapons, or both.

And with that, I'm off to order, FINALLY! Chicken's Own Comic Book!
Oh, purr!

Saturday, May 27, 2006

A cursory glance at "mainstream" porn

Took this from the comments box two doors down; it seemed worth a post in itself, since we've been talking about it for a while here and elsewhere.

I was in my friendly local indie video store the other day (bought myself the Little Britain series 1, woo hoo! can't wait till they get the second in). Unlike Blockbuster, they do rent hardcore porn, a whole back room's worth (also some softcore "erotica," gay and straight, and animated porn, in the main room). I decided to have a gander just to see if, indeed, things looked very different from the way AH/GR were describing the average breakdown of what's available (that is, vanilla vs. hardcore "violent" porn).

So, okay. I should've taken notes (haw! would've loved to see another customer's reaction as I did...) But the breakdown, roughly:

Front few shelves: Andrew Blake (glossy, reasonably "soft" stuff, pretty-pretty, in the mode of Playboy Channel or a more explicit Zalman King). Some racks devoted to favorite stars and directors, same as they have in the main store (Bergman, Bette Davis). Here: Rocco (famous Italian stud), Bella Donna, Jenna Jameson, some others I'm not as familiar with. Nina Hartley, of course.

Going farther back:

A shelf or so of "interracial" (which seems mostly to mean black on white), and various "ethnic" subgenres (all-black, including one hosted by Snoop Doog, and some Asian, which unlike the all-black vids and more like the interracial seems heavily skewed toward pleasing white fantasies of other-raced stereotypes. on the whole, off the cuff, imo and based on my sightings of such subgenres elsewhere). "BBW" or however they were terming it there, probably more vulgarly: women with some meat on their bones, is the gist.

Moving right along: specialty tapes: "gonzo" (no plot, "wall to wall" sex); all-girl (of course); anal sex ("buttman"); mildly fetishy stuff like stockings or latexwear; and our favorite, facial cumshots.

I think I saw maaayyybbeee three or four covers that indicated a nod to leather or kink. Including "Fashionistas," one of the few I've seen recently and one of the rare few "mainstream" porn flicks to have BDSM acts and hardcore sex, both. For the most part, you know, you cannot these days have both BDSM and penetrative "vanilla" sex in the same movie; it's one or the other. Don't remember where that comes from (need to look that up), whether it's an actual U.S. or state(s) law or whether it's a self-rpotective move by the industry; all I know is, that's far and away the way it is. (Indie stuff, esp. on the Internets, is something else, of course) "Bisexual" porn, which differs from "straight" porn in that unlike in the latter, man-on-man is okay in a mixed threesome or moresome, as opposed to just woman-on-woman. Not a whole lot of those.

Then the back half of the store, which was pretty much all gayboy porn (the video store is queer-owned and there's a heavy representation in the non-porn section as well). Which also seems to have its own subgenres: interracial, certain fetishy looks like military (I think), "shemale"/tranny porn, others. On the whole I'm a lot more familiar with indie lesbian visual porn (which by and large they don't carry there; you have to go to Babeland or some such)

A quick gander at the back of some covers seems to confirm: hetporn: no protection in sight, anal, vaginal, anything. Gay porn: at least in some shots of anal intercourse, the condom is clearly visible. And everyone's shaved (straight and gay, male and female), and everyone's coventionally pretty, and while the women aren't overall quite as skeletal-looking as they are in yer average fashion rag, there is definitely a certain...aesthetic...dominating, no doubt.

In short: same ol, same ol'. Rife with creaky sexist, racist, heterocentric, fat-phobic, and god knows how many other reactionary drippings from the overall zeitgeist, absotively. Often made in dodgy and frankly unsafe conditions that could probably use a good union or six, no doubt. But is it "horrific," as some woman at the recent Dworkin commemorative asserted? shrug. Not to me. I mean, depends what you consider "horrific," but: no meat grinders. No broken, bloody noses and bruises. No one getting killed.

In fact--you know where I see much more of the latter two? You know all those "softcore" quasi-noirish movies that Blockbuster and a lot of yer teevee after-hours channels seem to like so much? The ones that have shit like "sin" and "obsession" in the title, and always seem to end with some beautiful stripper or suchlike either getting murdered or being a murderer or both? I find those a lot more disturbing than most of the mainstream hardcore shit, myself. Isn't it interesting that the former, with their lack of actual depicted genitalia or oral sex or whatnot but plenty of dead women, are O.K., right up front and center in the big video chainstores; but the latter, many of which are pretty much just people gettin' it on pure and simple, if explicitly, are relegated to the back room of the indie joints?

How else to interpret this, if not as *sex IS dirty and dangerous, really?*

I guess I did have to cough this up (sigh).

So I was over at The Reclusive Leftist, where there's a fresh nearly 300-post debate/thrash/what have you about porn. I can't remember which of the comments sent me over the edge; all I know is that I did. First I wrote something a bit more level, if angry, and then I ended up writing this:

"–You want to know what my problem is? My button? My “trigger?” I’ll sum it up in a nutshell, here:


or anyone else. Not interested in Big Sister or Big Daddy. Fuck off.

There you go."

This whole trip, or a lot of it, was started off by my anger at having an arrogant hetboy's representation of a scene which is a part of my sexuality (BDSM; an appallingly distorted/silly dismissal of *lesbian* BDSM was thrown in) given pride of place at a highly popular (and I think influential) radical feminist's website (Twisty); and then being dismissed and condescended to again and again in the comments section. Then Twisty's "final word" on the subject, which probably looked on the surface reasonable enough to people who don't really give much of a crap about the whole thing one way or the other. It made me furious; it was dismissive, and contemptuous, and (again!) mispresentative. And people took her word for it. Sure, I have my own voice. But what does it say that a (well-respected, well-read) radical feminist will spotlight a straight boy's definition of an alternative sexuality and then shut down the whole thing after actual kinky women (queer and straight) start speaking their own experience, claiming the whole thing is making her ill? What *is* that?

And then I got into reading others, and others, and others, and...


You know, VS, I like you, and I should have paid you the respect of saying so more directly at the time, but: the last time you came to comment over here, when I was talking about this stuff? couple of months ago, probably. I said I appreciated your responding here and trying to dialogue and your overall tone (or that was my gist), and I meant it. Still do.

But something you said really pushed my button; it had to do with saying, hey, look, I like such-and-such a position in bed, but who cares what other people think if it's "feminist" or not? Why should I need a parade for ___ sex?

And I gotta tell you, that set me off wicked fierce, although it took a while for it to bubble to the surface (that happens with me sometimes, still). Why a parade?

I mean, it's great the whole "I don't care what you do in your bedroom." And--if you're straight? Most people *don't* care--these days, at any rate--what you do in the privacy of your bedroom. Especially if you seem overall respectable and so on. (assuming you *own* a bedroom, aren't fighting for custody of your kids with your vindictive ex-husband who knows about your stash of "Bad Attitude" magazines and your flogger collection, and so on).

If you're gay? Well, yeah, in theory. Sometimes. Sort of. Especially for the last--oh, what is it now? three years? since the Supreme Court finally struck down the last of the anti-sodomy laws.

But as I'm sure you know, having hashed out a bunch of this shit with radical feminists and others, Lily Law isn't everything when it comes to such intimate matters as sexuality. If 'twere, after all, assuming you (as I seem to remember you saying) are against any sort of legal censorship, along with others, then if legality was all that mattered, why, I guess the subjects of porn and so on wouldn't come up at all, then, right?

And as I'm sure you *also* know, there's a fine tradition of Gay Pride Parades. Which, I suppose, one could also ask "but, why do you need it?" (and I am of course assuming that that was *not* what you were asking). People have done just that, of me, after all. I've been polite. Sometimes. I mean, if I think it's an honest attempt to understand. To communicate.

But sometimes, you know, I get tired.

And while kink and porn and so on are certainly worth discussing in their own rights, and while by all means I think it's important to defend heterosexuals' right to pleasure, kink or vanilla, poly or straight, whatever have you--it is just an extra layer of exasperation and incredulity I am going through, when I come across a "radical feminist," of which there appear to be many these days, who is straight, even married! and their *boy* S.O's are right in there rabbitting on about the Patriarchy and oppressive male identified-behavior and so forth, rampant with unconscious male and straight privilege, taking up just as much space as ever they like--and no one says boo!! Do you even know how *bizarre* I find this? I mean, it's one thing for some granola Miz Michigan Wimmin's Fest dyke to say shit that pisses me off, which a number still do, don't get me wrong (never even mind the kink-ignorance; there's been some seriously nasty transphobic shit that I am also saddened and angry to note hasn't died *yet*). But being lectured about my oppressive/brainwashy/unconscious/whatthefuckever it's supposed to be sexuality by straight monogamous women and their men? That is just a whole nother level of my-brain-is-exploding. And I still haven't quite gotten past that, no. One more for the therapist's no doubt.

*deep breath*


It's funny, you know--I spent last weekend at a Body Electric workshop on Power, Surrender and Intimacy (otherwise known to some as BDSM; actually I thought this was a much more accurate moniker, in this context at least). It was, as have been all of their workshops, an exhilirating, joyful, sometimes difficult, often emotionally and even spiritually profound, transformative experience. I left feeling...blessed. People have been commenting to me all week about how good I look, different somehow, as so often happens after these experiences (as someone or other noted, people often say "did you lose weight?" when they know there's something different (and good) but they can't put their finger on what. possibly a sign of something in itself; I used to bristle at that--my ambivalence about body image--and this time? shrug. it was meant as a compliment; dayenu).

Then I come back and being the squirrelly little obsessive that I am, turn on the computer and go to the same old sites, find comments from completely random strangers that I find judgmental, critical--in this case, the Dworkinites--and I'm right back into: stomach clenched, I-feel-like-crap, either get depressed and feeling small (in a bad way) or DESTROY MODE (which is more satisfying, but ultimately leaves me feeling a bit empty and disconcerted as well).

I expect that the work I was doing over the weekend and habit of mine both are addressing the same wounds, at some level. And I suppose there's value in both approaches, else I wouldn't be doing it. Especially when there's actual communication happening.

All the same, I have to say: of the two approaches--endless, circular thrashes, even flamefests, with ignorant, judgmental, seemingly willfully obtuse people, or consensual kinky erotic play with wonderful people--the latter feels one fuck of a lot healthier.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Nail. Head. Bangbangbang.

Antiprincess sums it up. Now maybe I can finally stop with the bloody "sex-positive" posts for a bit. Can't say it any more clearly than this.

This may not be what the average antiporn feminist is actually saying to me, the average consensually-kinky feminist, but this is what I hear:

"but if YOU PEOPLE would just get over this selfish obsession with your stupid little orgasms and REALIZE the REALITY of PORNOGRAPHY (which is not free speech anyway) and how it HURTS WOMEN, then you could get on board and everything would be fine."

Trust me, antiporn feminist, you don't want someone on your side who has been bullied and belittled into agreeing with you. People who are beaten into submission don't make good supporters over the long term. They make good echo chambers, good receptacles of your vitriol, good amen corners; but not because of their deep abiding love for women, simply because they don't want to be seen as selfish and obsessed. You don't want someone on your side just because they don't want to piss you off and risk humiliation.

Consider that if that kind of badgering and humiliating worked, we wouldn't still be hammering this out twenty five years on.

and then, from the latest post:

I can't speak for the entire universe of non-anti-porn feminists, but there is a particular aspect of antiporn theory that does deeply trouble me, and immediately calls to mind (for me) certain aims of the Christian Right.

That, specifically, is the idea that one can deliberately alter one's personal sexual fantasies and purge them of any pornographic or woman-hurting content or overtones.

This reminds me of the aim of many ex-gay ministries, which is to turn gay people straight by deliberately altering their sexual fantasies until they are purged of any same-sex content or overtones.

...Here is where I see radical feminism and right wing christianity meet in action, if not in ideology. And it scares me. I fear deprogramming by anybody, good guys or bad guys.

Go read the rest at paleofeminist.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Sex-Positive Feminism: The Beginning

...sorta. (sounded like a better title for this entry in the series than "Sex-Positive Feminism: It's Back And It's Mad." or, not).


Over at paleofeminist, we'd been discussing these issues (again, surprise); and among the questions that came up was this, posed by antiprincess:

But I wonder why porn and BDSM are inextricably associated..

In other words: why do porn, prostitution ("pornstitution," how I loathe that portmanteau) and BDSM seem to be the Big Three in the revived "sex wars" (if that is what they are) between the radical feminists and the sex-pos/sex-radical camp? regardless of which perspective you're coming from?

While in the process of trying to address something else, I stumbled across this, which I think goes a fair way toward answering that.

The following is from a transcripted interview between Amber Hollibaugh, Deirdre English, and Gayle Rubin, circa 1980 (at the height of the "sex wars").

(from My Dangerous Desires: a queer girl dreaming her way home, by Amber Hollibaugh)

AH: What is pornography? What do we define as pornography?

GR: I have a three-part definition. One, the legal definition, is that it's sexually explicit material designed to arouse prurient interest. I think that definition, at least for this historical time and place [1980, U.S.], is the most useful one. We should remember that porn is not legal; by this definition material that has no focus but to arouse is not legal. [referring here to obscenity laws, I believe]. In other words, a sexual aim is not considered legitimate in this country [emphasis mine].

But we also need a historical definition; that is, porn as we know now it is widely available, commercial erotica as opposed to the older erotica that was hand produced and was mostly something that rich people collected. In the middle of the last century, mass production of erotic materials started to take place, resulting in the cheap, printed dirty book.

Third, I have a sociological definition: pornography is a particular industry located in certain places, with certain kinds of shops which tend to put out a product with certain conventions. One convention, for example, is that the man's orgasm never happens inside the woman. Pornography has a concrete existence that you can define sociologically. But that's not the current, so-called feminist definition of porn.

AH: What's that--"what we don't like is pornographic?"

GR: The definition used in the antiporn movement is that pornography is violence against women and that violence against women is pornography. There are several problesm with this. One is a replacement of the institutional forms of violence with representations of violence. That is to say, there's been a conflating of images with the thing itself. People really don't talk about the institutions; they talk about the images. Images are important, but that's not the whole thing.

Actually, if you walk into an adult bookstore, 90 percent of the material you will see is frontal nudity, intercourse, and oral sex, with no hint of violence or coercion. There are specialty porns. There's gay male porn; that's a big subgenre. There used to be a genre of porn that featured young people, although that's now so illegal that you don't see it anymore. And there is a genre of porn that caters to sadomaschoists, which is the porn that they focus on when you see a WAVPM (Women Against Violence is Pornography and Media) or a WAP slide show. They show the worst possible porn and claim it's representative of all of it. The two images that they show most are sadomasochistic porn and images of violence that contain sex. For instance, the infamous "Hustler" cover with the woman being shoved through a meat grinder. An awful picture, but by no means a common image in pornography.

DE: It was self-parody. It was gross, but it was actually satirical, a self-critical joke, which a lot of people didn't get.

GR: They include images that are not pornographic that you cannot find in an adult bookstore. For instance, the stuff on billbards, the stuff on record covers, the stuff in "Vogue." None of it has explicit sexual content. At most, it's covert. And what they do is draw in images they consider to be violent, or coercive, or demeaning, and call that pornography. That definition enables them to avoid the empirical question of how much porn is really violent. Their analysis is that the violent images come out of porn and into the culture at large, that sexism comes from porn into the culture. Whereas it seems to me that pornography only reflects as much sexism as is in the culture.

The existence of S/M porn enabled this whole analysis to proceed. It's very disturbing to most people and contains scenes that most people don't even want to encounter in their own lives. They don't realize that S/M porn is about fantasy. What most people do with it is take it home and masturbate. Those people who do S/M are consensually acting out fantasies [emphasis mine]: the category of people who read and use S/M porn and the category of violent rapists are not the same. We used to talk about how religion and the state and the family create sexism and promote rape. No one talks about any of these institutions anymore. They've become the good guys!

...GR: When I went on the WAVPM tour, everybody went, and I stood in front of the bondage material It was like they had on blinders. And I said, Look, there's oral sex over there! Why don't you look at that? And they were glued to the bondage rack. I started pulling out female dominance magazines and saying, "Look, here's a woman dominating a man. What about that? Here's a woman who's tied up a man. What about that?" It was like I wasn't there. People said, "Look at this picture of a woman being tied up!"

AH: Another example in the WAVPM slide show, there will be an image from a porn magazine of a woman tied up, beaten, right? And they'll say, "Hustler" magazine, 1976, and you're struck dumb by it, horrified! The next slide will be a picture of a woman with a police file, badly beten by her husband. And the rap that connects these two is that the image of the woman tied and bruised in the pornographic magazine caused the beating that she suffered. The talk implies that her husband went and saw that picture, then came home and tried to re-create it in their bedroom. That is the guilt-by-association theory of pornography and violence. And I remember sitting and watching this slide show and being freaked out about both those images and having nowehere to react to the analysis and say, What the hell is going on? I found it incredibly manipulative.

GR: Some of the antiporn people are looking at material that is used in a particular subculture with a particular meaning and a particular set of conventions and saying, It doesn't mean what it means to the people who are using it. It means what we see! They're assuming that they know better than the people who are familiar with it. [emphasis mine]. They're assuming, for instance, that S/M is violent, and that analysis leads to the view that S/M people can't be the victims of violence.

AH: It also discourages anyone from making explicit any sexual fantasy which seems risky to them or from exploring a sexual terrain that's not familiar. It ignores the fact that you learn what you like and what you don't like through trying things out. What it says is that these forbidden desires are not yours but imposed on you. You never experiment sexually.

Yet most people know godamn well that their sex lives are wider than those standard notions let them play in. They may feel guilty about it, but they know it. So they don't need one more movement to tell them they can't play.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

But I mean any kind of thief

When I went
looking for the Foe
I called him "he"
the one in the fast
car and the outside lane,
the getaway man
who came and took
and went, a stranger

but I mean any kind of thief--
of souls, pride, the heart,
of land, space, air and work.
I mean the thief of truth
of meaning

the one who goes
by what is said
and not by what is done
that one
that kind of liar
the fantasizer

smoker of bad wishes;
the cold one, who, shivering
steals your thunder and your fire
then calls you poor,
calls you "Queen of Wants"

and wants.

When I went looking
for the Foe I thought of
boots and leather, barbed
wire fences, aggressive
legal stances and the
who takes the heart
out of your sky, diverts
the light from your eye
into his own

but I mean any
kind of Foe, her, the
sap-sucking cannibalizer,
idea-eater, and the one,
the ones who make war
with rents and wages

the masked mate,
who makes war with love
and personal rages
the raper who takes
your sense of self
and wholeness,
flame of trust
and leaves you trembling,
crusted with his fear.

the daisy bringer
who calls you Queen for a Day
and takes your year

the friend who cries on your shoulder
and never sees your grief
who looks in your mirror
and calls you low
and calls you less
than you you are
I mean the Foe
that one
I mean any kind of thief.

--Judy Grahn, "The Queen of Wands"

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Speculation on (another) possible root cause of misogyny:

Besides institutionalized hegemonic male-over-female sexism that is. Which is real, yes. Still, yes. (Film at eleven).

But here's a thing i keep noticing on an individual level. Lots and lots and lots of anger. Supposedly at "gold-diggers" and vengeful, withholding, cold women who won't give no love or affection. Which complaints are generally not taken terribly sympathetically by most women and non-misogynists, surprise.

But what's the real complaint? Is it really primarily about sex? Money? The fear of losing power, even? (that is there, yes; but we'll get to that). Well, none of us are owed any of these things, particularly, as we know.

But, or, is it, at root, really about: I can't get unconditional love.

Because, yeah, that's a problem.

Of course fuck knows that plenty of women have that issue too; and if you have on top of it such things as a history of sexual abuse (at the hands of men)...yah, not gonna be terribly sympathetic to the boyz. This post is not by way of an excuse. For anything, really.

Here's the deal, though. One of the legacies of patriarchal culture (current "mainstream" U.S. version, at least, as handed down from Biblical morality via Calvinism and Victorianism) is the expectation that Twoo Luv conquers all. A good woman can save a man from his beastly impulses, in a romantic, monogamous, dyadic relationship. Traditionally, marriage; lately, that particular expectation, maybe not so much (depending on where you are and what your background is). Otherwise, though, it's all still very much there. We could talk about the heternormativity of that dictate all day, and probably have done, and will do, especially wrt how it affects women, not to mention queer folk and other sexually "alternative" people. Don't bet on the Prince. An orgasm is a gift you give yourself. Free yer ass and the rest will follow. Love/sex is not a scarce commodity. And so on.

But there's a particular twist to the man's expectation in this patriarchally normative set-up, in that the *other* dictates he's received are: You don't have emotional needs. You don't turn to other men for tenderness, and women (except, *maybe*, for That Special Someone, assuming you ever find her), are there primarily for service/combat. So essentially, you're putting an awful lot of expectations on one woman; and very likely you don't even know that you *have* those expectations. They get reified into concrete "shoulds" like "laugh at my jokes" and "have sex __ number of times per __" and so forth. (And of course it could also be that woman in this equation is going off her own reified expectations of what "caring" looks like from a "traditional," sexist perspective...which may include such things as buying presents and spending money, yes. Bottom line: no one's able to ask for what they actually need. cue bitterness all around).

Sometimes this kind of relationship works out in spite of it all, more or less, I expect; after all, norms wouldn't hold up if they didn't work for *anybody.*

But so now assume that instead of having a "good-enough" parent, even within a "traditional," patriarchal set-up and all the sexist assumptions and so on that that implies (it is possible)...the man in question has grown up in a miserable, dysfunctional family. Maybe Dad abused Mom (the classic predictive set-up for a boy who will grow up to be a batterer in his own right, watching Dad abuse Mom). Maybe Mom (or big sister, or Grandma) was in fact actually abusive herself..verbally, emotionally, physically, even (it happens) sexually. Maybe it's simply neglect. (don't underestimate it). Maybe this is in conjunction with an abusive father or male figure; maybe it isn't. But the bottom line is: you weren't seen, you weren't heard, you didn't get unconditional love and acceptance. Which is not owed to anyone by any other adult; it *was* something that was owed to you by your parents. If you didn't get it then, you're never gonna (not in that same way, at least); and, well, that sucks. One of life's hard truths.

Now: couple this with traditional, male-dominator assumptions of what "being a man" entails. Don't ask for help; be tough; you don't have emotional needs. Male buddies might be your support; but there are Rules, rather stringent ones, for that male bonding thing, in a heteronormative culture. That may or may not work out for you. If that doesn't work out...

"A good woman will save you.* A good woman is what you need. Only...oops, never did learn those social skills or relationship skills that you would need to attract a *good* woman (where would you have learned this?); and, in the classic tradition of the abused, you may well find yourself ending up with women that do an astonishing impression of Mom (or grandma, or big sis, or even Dad as far as that goes), again and again. Introspection...not really done. Therapy is expensive, and they all just bleed you dry of money anyway (money is power, after all; and you have little enough to spare of either). Talk radio helps. Vent sessions with buds, maybe. You might call what they're giving you "validation of your feelings," if you held any truck with that sort of woo-woo girlie psychobabble New Agey shit. But they don't really give you everything you need, either. And the last time you brought up any of this in mixed company, *the women (and their pussified male friends) made fun of you.* Those bitches! Everyone feels sorry for THEM. Everyone listens to THEIR problems. Who's listening to you, huh? HUH??

So. Your conclusion is:

...yeah. I Blame The Matriarchy. (Feminists, "castrating bitches," vagina dentata, Hillary, u-name it). Lucky you: you've still got a few um tools at your disposal to wield, handed down from centuries' worth of legal and other forms of consolidation of institutional male power. Unlucky you: you're so full of self-pity you're not even gonna recognize what you *do* have. You are a Loser; but, this has nothing to do with any sort of *male* sexism and its related Systems (The Winner Takes It All; Men Must Be Tough and On Top, Always). Or family abuse. Or pretty much anything except the Truth:

There are Alpha Males and then there is everyone else; and clearly, all your problems would be solved if you were just recognized as the Alpha Male you were meant to be, dammit. And a cheat, because you're still not an Alpha Male, and now *all* the women hate you, and that's all there is in this world. Alpha Males, and (somehow) even more powerful, laughing bitches... and poor, hapless schlubs like you. And so it will be, always, world without end, Amen. Right?...Hello?...Anybody out there?....

Sunday, May 14, 2006


Rove indicted. Maybe. and a Harris poll has Bush down to 29% approval. among other news that has the deliciously compelling taste of chewing on tinfoil. how 'bout that NSA, eh?

*(yes, NSA, not CSA. heh).

So, whatcha want?

Coming off of the end of the comments section from the post three doors down, sage suggests this might be best as a separate thread.

The question was, roughly: as a political activist and/or idealist, what are you fighting *for*? (as opposed to, what are you fighting against).

Call this a thought experiment. And I'm gonna wait for a few other answers before I put my own.

I realize this is looking like the dreaded meme, but--well, hey, I've never actually tried to make anyone do one of these. Prefer answers here, don't have to pass it on to other blogs.


1. What was your favorite story (fairy tale, folktale, bedtime story, what have you) as a child?

2. If you were telling your own life as a story, what would be "happily ever after" for you personally at this point?

3. Name something that makes you deliriously happy.

4. Something you couldn't live without.

5. Something that never fails to soothe you or calm you down.

6. Something or someone ("someone" can apply to the last three questions as well) that turns you on, sexually.

7. You walk out your door tomorrow and utopia has been achieved. What does the world look like? How (very roughly) are people living and maintaining this world? Assuming there are no more political battles to be fought, and that you, personally, have all your material and health needs met, how do you spend your days?

on edit: one to grow on, which may or may not have anything to do with the rest of it, but I'm curious.

bonus: What's your metaphysical/cosmological worldview (including, but not limited to, religion)? How does it differ (or not) from what you were raised with?

Thursday, May 11, 2006

stunned. no words.

reading "My Private Casbah," her poem, and the posts below.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006


A gift from Alex of Train Mama: pointer to the BEST HOMEMADE VIDEO EVER.

no, it's perfect. what could be better than a Spanglish camp tribute to a Madonna tribute to Abba AND the Flashdance look? nothing, that's what. check it:

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Talk Dogma To Me, Baby

Sheila Jeffreys has apparently been back on the public radar for a while now, but I'd only just become aware of her...resurg'd...visibility. anyhoo, I was reminded of this little detail of her bio from a Guardian article:

Dworkin, as it happens, lived with a man, whom in 1998 she married.

Not Jeffreys. She became a lesbian in 1973 because she felt it contradictory to give "her most precious energies to a man" when she was thoroughly committed to a women's revolution. Six years later, she went further and wrote, with others, a pamphlet entitled Love Your Enemy? The Debate Between Heterosexual Feminism And Political Lesbianism. In it, feminists who sleep with men are described as collaborating with the enemy. It caused a huge ruction in the women's movement, and is still cited as an example of early separatists "going way too far".

"We do think," it said, "that all feminists can and should be lesbians. Our definition of a political lesbian is a woman-identified woman who does not fuck men. It does not mean compulsory sexual activity with women.

Lest you wonder why I'm unearthing this bit of quaint nostalgia, I just now came across a post on someone's blog wherein she was struggling with whether to follow this very path, more or less, apparently, presumably influenced by the writings of Ms. Jeffreys, to whom several posts and a good chunk of the recommended reading list are dedicated. Debating whether to leave her male partner, even though he's "one of the good ones," anyway; I didn't notice the "L" word in that post, at least. definitely 'twas all about "giving energies" to the wimminfolk, as opposed to a Man.

what. the hell. ever.

Obviously, I can't speak for what's really going on in any other woman's mind or soul or naughty bits. Maybe there's more here than meets the eye. Maybe, indeed, Jeffreys really does and always did lurve the wimminfolk, and just needed the sociopolitical framework in order to make the "lifestyle" transition more comfortable for herself. I don't actually know enough about either woman to speculate.

what I do know, from experience, is that while eros is a tricky, complicated, and mutable little beast, one does not, can not, will desire where there was none, simply because one's adopted ideology dictates that one must do so in order to be more pure. One can choose to act or not to act on--or even suppress--desire that was already there, to be sure. (It is awfully decent of the pamphlet writers to allow as to how the "woman-identified woman" doesn't have to have sex with women, even though she appparently cannot "fuck men." Presumably pegging is Right Out, too, I suppose).

Yeah. I'm looking at this with a mixture of annoyance, amusement, exasperation, and a skeeved-out feeling. How is this significantly different from the ex-gay movement?

For that matter: it's certainly no skin off my ass if someone chooses to be celibate, for any reason; but I for one would have zero interest in dating someone who was ID'ing as a "lesbian," not because she had any genuine erotic interest in women, but because she wanted to be Most Radical Feminist Of Them All. frankly, I would find that...objectifying. Yep, I said it. Seriously, is it any better to be viewed as some kind of ideological Symbol than as a sex object? At least with the latter, you have a better chance of knowing what the transaction is. and frankly, I for one would be more likely to derive some enjoyment out of the whole deal. I'd far rather fuck a genuinely "bi-curious" woman as a one-night stand than enter into a relationship with someone whose gonads weren't really in it.

I suppose one might be upfront about one's lack of desire as well; but, who would knowingly go for that, seriously? "I don't like you in That Way; but let's just ignore that minor detail, and I'll keep trying to get over my inherent distate for my own pussy, much less anyone else's."

No; instead, it'd probably look something like this:

"Single Feminist Wymyn seeking same for passionate mutual diatribing against the Patriarchy, tireless devotion to consciousness raising, endless processing, Smashing the Oppressive Hegemony in all its forms, and handholding to the tune of dolphin wheezes. No butch-femme. No BDSM. No bisexuals. No transsexuals. No porn-users. No high heel or make-up wearers. No lookists. No male-identified wimmin. No penetration. No meat-eaters. No apoliticals. No Meen People. Must be open-minded and have a great sense of humor!"

...Of course, it is in no way patriarchy-influenced to suggest that women's sex drives are low or unimportant enough that they may as well not exist. and that lesbians, in particular, do not have or need The Sex. and of course it's all about The Penis, even in absentia. Especially in absentia.

oh I don't know. I'm tired of these people. John Stoltenberg can suck my tampon, and Sheila Jeffreys can sit on my face; and I fantasize Catherine McKinnon, Camille Paglia and Phyllis Schaffly fighting to the death in a vat of creamed corn.

and with that, I'm off to purchase a new flogger, so that I may vent this aggravation in a healthier manner.

Monday, May 08, 2006

The Revolution Will Not Be Satirized

So several people including piny at feministe have been fisking a particularly egregious example of fuckwittery (follow the link for original link), the highlight of which being:

So long as there is this idea that presenting or living in a certain way means a person ought to “transition,” or ought to “change sex,” or ought to “identify as” one sex or another, there will be no revolution. There will simply continue to be human beings conforming to gender stereotypes and identifying as “men” and “women” on the basis of how male heterosupremacy has defined those stereotypes.

I (among others) had been so busy with the transphobic assiness (oh, damn those oppressive transsexuals ruining everything! real freedom from gender roles means doing what I tell you!) that until now I hadn't really been focusing on the "revolution" bit, per se. I don't know how I could have missed it. I guess in the general WayBack Machine-ness of it all it just seemed like one more detail, but...

God. She's really not being ironic at all, is she?

The Revolution. THE. Revolution. You know. The one where we finally get it alllll right, all in one fell swoop. Oh, stop looking so concerned! And you, STOP LAUGHING. You'd better believe we mean it this time, and everything's going to be SO FUCKING WONDERFUL, you'll just shit. You'll see. We've been tightening the theory and practising the practice. We have better texts than all those other revolutionaries, and better soldiers, and a MUCH better vaguely outlined utopian ideal, the description of which takes up nearly three footnotes at the end of the twelve-volume encyclopedia of the Wrongs Of The Oppressors. We have passion. We have purity. We have determination. We have spatulas.

I can't wait.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Girlieness, continued: Excesses and Dangers

While it is true that I am a staunch defender of Girliedom, there is such a thing as going too far. I give you: the prime of Miss Sarah Jane Newbury, Professional Virgin (no, really). You may want to wear shades: girlfriend shows a lotta pink.

Anyway, we always like people who refer to themselves in the third person, don't we, Agatha? Yesssss! We do!!! Especially when they're virginssssssss

Sarah Jane has got these documents to prove she is genuinely intact and that she has not had any plastic surgery!

She asked her Doctors this year to examine her to prove that she is still intact and doesn't need a smear test. The letters also prove that she has never been pregnant. The fact that Sarah Jane is an intact virgin means that she can sue, which is why tape recordings of slander were given to doctors proving that she has not imagined it, is not paranoid, and has never had any illness other than flu and is lucky to have good health.

You see,

Sarah has been the subject of many malicious attacks which she believes are caused by jealousy.

f'r instance,

One rejected neighbour sent letters containing lies to various newspapers and is believed to have killed and eaten Sarah's cat!

Another malicious detractor

was found putting anonymous notes full of lies on the car a while ago by Tony Durant. She said she was shielding the culprit and was taking the notes off. However she is known to throw bread all over peoples' cars, roofs, and the town and the council are trying to stop her. The woman says she sees the spirits of crocodiles and likes rats as much as the birds. However she told Sarah she did not want her husband to see Sarah Jane's frilly underwear on the washing line and she does not put bread near her own house! So Sarah believes the woman has mixed motives.

So do we. And frankly, we believe the woman may be a little...well. You know.
God bless Sarah Jane for bearing with all this craziness. She is a brave little toaster.

And, God bless the Queen Mum. And her former boyfriends (Sarah Jane's, not the Queen Mum's) (as far as we know), none of whom ever slandered her, or took advantage of her; and all of whom would appear to have been named Christopher.

Christopher Lewis who lived at Orchard Road Westbury. Sarah Jane met Christopher when she was 13 and went out with him until she left Westbury to live in Windsor. She met him as her grandfather was captain of Westbury Cricket Club and he was one of his young sportsmen. They were extremely fond of each other but too young to settle down. He has never slandered her.

Christopher Paine from Melksham who owns an abattoir. Sarah Jane met him through a friend she went to prep school with. They were very fond of each other but were too young to settle down. He never slandered her.

"Christopher Robin who lived at Pooh Corner. Sarah Jane met Christopher at a tea party. She went out with him until there was that unfortunate incident with Piglet and the Visit To Christopher Paine's Abbatoir. Christopher Robin has never slandered her. Eeyore however could tell you a thing or two."

...oh, sorry. that last one might have been slanderous.

now I'm wondering if it wouldn't be a mitzvah to set her up with the Almost-40-Year-Old Virgin. He might not be nice enough, though. And I think he is rather prone to slanderous talk, himself, alas.

also: does Princess Sparkle Pony know?

Speaking truth to power: THAT'S NOT FUNNY!

Via majikthise. Kung-fu Monkey, professional funny guy, succinctly explains exactly why Colbert's performance was necessary, and why "but, he wasn't funny" is so ludicrously, well, funny:

If Colbert "bombed", it was because the audience didn't like him. And you know what -- they WEREN'T SUPPOSED TO. We have been treated to toothless feel-good comedy for so long, we have forgotten what the court jester's job was: he was the only guy who could mock the King. And, seeing as we now have a President who acts like a King, it's only fitting that Colbert revive the tradition in its truest form. If I remember correctly, the toady court followers were also fair game for the Jester, and we could hardly call the modern media anything less these days, can we?

...All comedy is based on revealing a truth, sometimes so minor as to seem inconsequential, but a generally unobserved truth nonetheless. Sometimes the truth is a monstrous truth -- and many times comics shy away from that monstrous truth, unwilling to deal with the fallout from being its bearer. But the ones who embrace that mission -- Bruce, Carlin, Richard goddam Pryor, Bill Hicks ("Your child is not special", jesus the stones that took) -- they transcend.

One of the insanely annoying phrases lefties overuse is "Speaking truth to power." Well, kids, you know what? Standing three feet from the most powerful man in the world and poking fun at his public foibles, telling your audience that they are cowards by doing nothing more than pointing out the truth of their actions -- THAT'S speaking truth to power. Mutter to yourselves all you want, civilians. Colbert, that night, became one of the stories comics will trade for literally decades to come. Young comics will learn it from old comics. Audiences come and go. We honor our own.

I particularly like Time's Ana Marie Cox's little moue:

While it may have shocked the President to hear someone talk so openly about his misdeeds in the setting of the correspondents dinner — joking about "the most powerful photo-ops in the world" and NSA wiretaps — I somehow doubt that Bush has never heard these criticisms before.

You know--I doubt her doubtiness. Or at minimum: I doubt what she's doubting. I think it's extremely possible that Bush has never heard these criticisms before, in fact. Boy lives in a bubble. Is this going to change his mind about anything? No, but like Bill O'Reilly and all his other enablers, he's the sort of person who hates being depantsed more than anything. That's WHY he's carefully shielded from these sorts of criticisms (I can't imagine what they were thinking when they hired Colbert in the first place. somebody would appear to be falling down on the job).

More to the point, in this case, perhaps: the media doesn't much like being made fun of, either, any more than the rest of us. anyway I'm sure A.M. Cox wasn't at all thinking about the line about how the mainstream media should just relax, go home, spend time with the kids, get to work on that novel about the noble intrepid reporter who brought down the corrupt administration--"You know: FICTION!"--when she aimed that little shrug at the blogosphere.

As for this:

To laud Colbert for saying them seems to me, a card-carrying lefty, to be settling. Colbert's defenders might aim for the same stinging criticisms to be issued not from the Hilton ballroom but from the dais in a Senate Judiciary committee hearing. And I wouldn't really care if they were funny or not

Yeah, I'd like that too, more stinging criticism from the supposed loyal opposition in seats of actual political power. Good thing it's not an either/or situation, huh?

Meanwhile, via Bitch | Lab, youtube video footage of the Shrubster's reaction to Colbert's performance. He is, indeed, ready for his close-up. My wordies.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006


No, not the plutocrat with the really bad toupees and the anger management issue, or his fugly buildings. Here referring to a recent intrablog kerfuffle centering around some genius' assertion that "gender trumps race."

Enough other people have fisked the bigotry/stupidity of the original comment and its author (who is not someone I take seriously enough to bother with; yet another asshat grimly riding the border between "kneejerk ideologue" and "frootbat"). And for a specific breakdown of why this particular "trumping" is both racist and really, really stupid/ill-informed, as well as the original context that led to the remark (spinning off the Duke case), see nubian's posting either at her own blog or at Alas (same post, different set of comments).

The thing is, fuckwitacious as the author of that comment may be, she is in fact only voicing a common sentiment among lefty circles more baldly than usual (frootbats do have a way of doing this). Well, several sentiments, in fact; like I said, racism among white feminists/ism (and/or particularly that one) is being addressed elsewhere. Also see: Women of Color Blog, Black Amazon, Slant Truth, and Smackdog Chronicles, among others.

(Black Amazon puts forth a rather nice rejoinder in response to the defensive whine that

"[anyone] who doesn't agree with or isn't familiar with feminist of color issues is going to be called a destructive terrible racist"


No you're not a racist

Your the motherfucking laziest intellectually torpid fuckers.

...which is the sort of retort that warms my shrivelled little heart. Hello. It's called "Google." It's called "the library." It's called GO TO THE FUCKING SOURCE AND ASK/LOOK IT UP YOUR DAMN SELF BEFORE SPOUTING OFF. Particularly if you're going to side with the faction accusing anyone else of "whining:" while you're at your research project, consider looking up the term "projection.")


I'm still stuck on the whole notion of one oppression "trumping" another. Because, like I say, it's far from the first time I've encountered that idea in (loosely defined) lefty circles, although perhaps never stated quite so bluntly. Or the word "trump," for that matter: it tends to suggest, as I've often suspected for some people, that at some level it's all a big game. Sort of like the old "Queen for a Day," I suppose. "Sociopolitical Queen For A Day." So: what do you win? Validation? Understanding? The argument? A year's supply of Rice-a-Roni?

Bitch | Lab puts her finger on the problem with this way of thinking. "More Oppresseder Than Thou:"

The very notion that we can have an ‘oppresseder than thou’ sweepstakes is built right into left social movements and feminist movements specifically.

...On a standpoint epistemology, where you are in the system can tell us how much access you have to the truth. The argument goes back a long way, but I’d say its moral persuasiveness derives from Hegel’s master-slave dialectic. What comes out of Hegel is this idea that the slave actually has to know more than the master. The master only has to know his world. The slave, however, has to know how the master thinks and why so as to serve the master. The master doesn’t have to know the slave — on the very definition of being the master. The slave is the one that performs the labor to transform nature into things the master can consume. So, the slave is closer to nature as well and knows how nature works far better than an aloof master who never has to get close to nature to get the things he needs to live.

The notion that we need an oppression sweepstakes isn’t just an aberration. It’s pretty much built into our assumptions about how to gain access to the truth. Truth here is knowledge of how to create the good society: what it might look like, how to get from here to there. Theorizing from the experience of this oppressed group, understanding how the world works from their standpoint … this would help us come up with better ways to change the world and better visions for what the good society might look like. After all, what would knowledge from a master’s perspective look like? A master would just recreate the world to suit him, right? Wouldn’t the oppressed class come up with a vision of the good society that would be better for all? We often assume that a member of an oppressed class wouldn’t want to create an unjust, unfair, harmful world, right?


Well, I'll get back to that last assumption in a moment.

But I do find it especialy ironic when proponents of an ideology that essentially claims to have the goal of abolishing hierarchy are, in fact, recreating a hierarchy within their theories and arguments. The fact that it's now some kind of inverted wack-ass limbo hierarchy, where it appears that the ultimate goal isn't in fact about being on the top, but on the bottom, doesn't make it any less of a hierarchy. It just means that there's going to be a lot more passive-aggression within the communit(ies), and a rather staggering amount of ineffectuality within any activism derived from this mode of thinking.

Seriously, think about it. Why is it that so much of the (loosely defined) left in the U.S., at least, has been about as effective as a sack of wet spaghetti over the past few decades? There are a lot of reasons, of course; but prominent among them, it seems to me, is this fucked-up notion that the winner is the loser (but of course, we're against the whole concept of competition to begin with, so we can't even truly acknowledge that this is going on). By the time you've wrestled your way out of that kind of headfuck, who has time for actual, you know, progress? Who has the energy? And besides: if the winner is the loser, then if you ever seem within striking distance of actually achieving your stated goals...uh-oh. That means we, like, win, right? So that means we're, like, now the oppressors, right? Which means we're bad people, in the wrong, and have lost the clear, pure light of the Truth. Fuck.

The fact that the (loosely defined) right has appropriated this sort of language more and more in recent years doesn't make the whole thing any less lame, or us any more likely to get back in power, much less to achieve our purported goals. Not as long as we just keep doggedly trying to outbid the "oppressors" in low-ball. Of course it's fucking idiotic and insulting to whine about how much worse you have it than the people whose necks you're stepping on. Point out the fact that their foot is on your neck, sure. But, you can't stop there.

Because the bottom line is, ultimately? If you're oppressing someone, generally speaking, you don't really care that someone has it worse than you, or even that you're contributing to their problem. That's what oppression is.

It is true that sometimes people can be reasoned out of their position. And/or appealed to on the grounds of common humanity/experience/emotion. So, sure, it's certainly worth a try or seventy-times-seven. Of course, the effectiveness of this approach is dependent on a number of factors, in addition to one's own rhetorical skills:

that this particular stepper is at least somewhat of a reasonable/conscientious person to begin with

that s/he can hear you from all the way up there

most important, that the stepper is not so invested in his/her position that s/he is determined not to give it up, even if it means plugging his/her fingers in the ears and going LALALALALALA I CAN'T HEAR YOU, or worse. If the stepper is convinced that s/he is going to fall into the void without the solid comforting weight of your neck beneath his/her foot, as opposed to mostly just being an oblivious klutz (it happens), then you're gonna have a much tougher time of it.

Meanwhile, if you've pointed this problem out to the stepper till you're blue in the face, if you've used every rhetorical and logical move you know, if you've appealed to every possible vestige of guilt and/or shame you think the person might have, and they still haven't moved their foot...maybe, you know, it might be time to try a different approach. Or several.

For instance, you could:

firmly grasp their ankle and simply remove it from your neck. Sometimes you have enough power to do this, sometimes you don't. In which case you will probably try:

bite their ankles, which may work briefly; but unless you can quickly get up and stay up while they're startled, it's likely to result in heavier boots and other reinforcement plus retaliation

tickle them, which might take longer to get the startle/remove response, but is more disconcerting and perhaps less likely to result in immediate and heavy retaliation

roll away or knock them over in some sort of Aikido-like move, using their own power against them. this is probably the most effective technique, but it takes a fair amount of training and/or rethinking to pull off, and it's still a mystery to most of us how this works, if we even see this happen at all.

lie back in defeat and exhaustion, or at least try to ignore the foot, somehow

attempt an out-of-body experience, the better to see more clearly

simply keep struggling to sit up from the position you're in. This probably won't get you up right away, but the constant pressure will put the stepper increasingly off balance. eventually the goal is to get the stepper to figure it's more trouble than it's worth to stay where s/he is..

cast your gaze to your left and right to see who else is down alongside you, and whether you might somehow be able to help each other

And/or, you might notice that there is someone positioned below you, and that by stepping on them, you can increase your leverage. Which brings us back to the original subject. Lather, rinse, repeat.

On that note, Bitch | Lab has another fisk of a separate but (to my mind) related kerfuffle: the resurrection of the notion that transgendered folks somehow pose a threat to the feminist movement. (It's like some gawdawful B zombie flick sometimes, I swear: some things and ideas just never die, they just keep on resurrecting themselves and creakily lurching back at you. Or the wall. Bump. Bump. Bump).

anyway, what I said there, in response to this bit (which B | L takes on herself, and in other directions as well):

...the claims that women can’t oppress transfolk because they are not denying that they should have formal economic and political rights

was this:

there’s a lot to say here, but just quickly: the whole “__ can’t oppress ___” really chaps my hide. In this case especially, of course, I think it’s egregious: on the whole, TG folk are a lot more marginalized than non TG women, per se. (no, none of the above rant was ever meant to suggest that I do not, in fact, think that some groups and/or individuals have it worse off than others, on the whole). But even if that weren’t so: I hate hate HATE that formulation.

It’s one thing to say something along the lines of,

“Look, you stupid fuck, the fact that you have this complaint really doesn’t signify some sort of conspiracy against you and your’n; couldja maybe try paying some attention to the numerous and serious grievances discussed here in this space instead of sucking up all the attention with your own drama? Or if you’re not capable of doing that, fuck off? THANK you.”

or even,

“Historically, (yourgroup) has oppressed (mygroup) in xyz ways. I feel the weight of this oppression in abg ways; I really don’t have the energy or patience to be dealing with your trifling complaints. Don’t look at me for sympathy.”

At least that would be owning one's own exasperation and anger, even as one discharges it (righteously or otherwise; and who's to say, ultimately, if it's righteous or not? Facts are facts, and are debatable; but feelings are feelings, and really aren't debatable).

But to proclaim, as if from a mountaintop,

“Foobar cannot oppress fweebah,”

…to me always feels rather disingenuous. It’s usually followed up by some sort of semantic distinction, suggesting that the author is trying to say that while yes, it is possible to be prejudiced on an *individual* level, there is no such thing as “reverse” ___ on an institutional level (which is usually when this sort of remark comes up; some dumbass is whining about “reverse” something-or-other).

But…I don’t buy it. Not worded that way, as if from the mountaintop: this is Just The Way It Is. For one thing, it’s way too easy to take that formulation and conclude that it means,

“Therefore, as a member of group foobar, I can say or do anything I want to you and you have no right to be offended, much less hurt, by it.”

or even,

“Not only is it historically and currently true that group fweebah is oppressive of group foobar, it could NEVER EVER happen in any possible world that foobar people could be oppressive of fweebah people, in any way”

…which in turn implies that the difference between foobar and fweebah people is *not* just a sociological construct, but in fact innate; and/or that the state of affairs as they currently are can never, ever change.

Which, to me, goes completely against the whole reason for becoming politically active, particularly on the left, in the first place. It's about change for the better. It's about, as much as possible, changing the dynamic from win-lose to win-win. Otherwise, you're just basically licking your wounds. And maybe, just maybe, tearing them freshly open just when it looks like they might start to heal.