Friday, August 31, 2007

"Tearoom trade"

Off the Larry Craig scandal (it just keeps going! and going! and), an interesting short piece on the etiology of bathroom cruising at the L.A. Times.

On June 28, 1969, when New York's far-from-fashionable Stonewall Inn was raided, the patrons responded by fighting the cops. Although gays and lesbians had resisted before (often right here in Los Angeles), this Manhattan uprising served to jump-start the modern phase of the gay rights movement.

That movement, with its defiant insistence on being free to be as gay as all-get-out, quickly left the likes of Walter Jenkins and, if the cops were right, Larry Craig in the dust. They're part of a subculture within a subculture that was memorably identified by the daring sociologist Laud Humphreys in a landmark sociological study titled "Tearoom Trade."

Taking his cue from Kinsey, Humphreys was fascinated with married-with-children men who didn't self-identify as gay or bisexual, yet still sought clandestine sex with other men on the side. Humphreys, when he began his research, was one of these I'm-not-gay(s) himself, though he eventually came out.

Published in 1970, "Tearoom Trade" is full of useful information about foot tapping, shoe touching, hand signaling and all the other rituals those so inclined use to make contact with one another in such places. Clearly no media outlet should be without a copy -- especially, whose editors revealed their cluelessness on the subject this week in a "real time conversation" rife with unintentional hilarity: "I can't believe it's a crime to tap your foot." "Can someone explain the mechanics of how two people are supposed to commit a sex act in a stall where legs are visible from the knee down?"

As for the less blinkered among us, in the age of Ellen DeGeneres, Neil Patrick Harris, "Brokeback Mountain" and the smooching gay teens on "As the World Turns," bathroom cruisers seem almost antique. Today's gays want to get married, and an airport men's room is no place to propose.

Moreover, if what you're "proposing" falls well short of marriage, there's always the Internet. Larry Craig, meet Craigslist. In short, never has the admonition "Get a room!" seemed more apropos. It's up to the I'm-not-gay(s) to discover the real freedoms fought for and won by the people they so fiercely claim they're not.

h/t Todd and in Charge, via a comment at fastlad.


Well, it's a -bit- apples and oranges there; not everyone does want to get married, and while sure, "there's always the Internet," Craigslist isn't necessarily any safer or even more "private" than the good ol'fashioned backroom. ("You: blue shirt, in the phone booth at the corner, sucking my cock. Fifteen minutes.") It is a bit more straightforward, to be sure; but see the trouble with being a Public Figure is that it's -dangerous- to be too straightforward. You never know who'll track you down from that personal ad; and as for gay marriage, why, Craig is happily--happily, I say--married to his wife; he's hardly for gay marriage. In fact, he's strongly agin' it:

Strongly Opposes topic 3:
Same-sex domestic partnership benefits

YES on prohibiting same-sex marriage
NO on prohibiting job discrimination by sexual orientation
NO on expanding hate crimes to include sexual orientation
NO on adding sexual orientation to definition of hate crimes:
YES on constitutional ban of same-sex marriage

Good thing the guy in the next stall didn't decide to beat the crap out of him; or, well, hey, I'm sure if he -had- been gay-bashed as well as humilated, had Craig, it would've all been okay: either the guy would've put down the broken beer bottle or baseball bat and backed off, saying, "why, I recognize you! YOU'RE not gay! You're a straight upstanding pillar of the community! 'Scuse me, my apologies, good day to you, sir;" or else Craig would've suffered his lumps and accepted whatever punishment the State cared to dole out to the other gentleman who was just, well, what was it, defending himself from the creepy pervert.

You know, Mera Terrha Pakistan brought up the question of internalized homophobia recently--specifically, whether it was still relevant for those of us in the U.S. (among others). I'd say this is a textbook example of--well, don't take my word for it:


So we're left with a gay man who was picked up for soliciting public sex. The whole thing is sad - from the fact that he has spent a lifetime with his wife trying to maintain a public image of heterosexuality, including voting for anti-gay legislation, to the internalized homophobia that fueled his guilt and guilty plea instead of trying to fight the system, to the fact that he has a criminal record and might just lose his family, a family who I'm sure he loves, because of our fucked up culture that imagines swarms of men having sex in public, no, forcing men, not just men but children as well, to have sex in public so much so that the police is instructed to go into those public spaces, encourage that type of behavior, and then divine someone's motivations from a few gestures. If I were a bigger person, I might stop making fun of him.

commenters at PrideDepot, focusing on the peculiar institution that is Log Cabin Republicans (openly gay members of the more conservative of the two main U.S. political parties, i.e. Craig's party):

by: Alan

"...but what is it then that makes someone work for and support a group of people that revile them?"

Idaho what it is is their economic insulation protects them from the actual people who revile them. These are not generally the people they meet in the course of their daily lives. The people they meet are socially, economically and probably even religiously copies of themselves. People who they think of as friends, colleagues and equals [the ones who disappear when the knocking on doors begins]. Unless they're into rough trade they don't generally run into people who are not like them.

Another problem here is that we all paint with too broad a brush. There are millions of moderate Republicans who do not revile homosexuals. Many in the libertarian branch of the party fully support gay rights and even gay marriage.

Unfortunately the Republican Party hierarchy has decided to suck up to that portion of the party that does revile us - something that comes from a lack of education, which the LCRs have in spades, and because of the very existence of the LCRs - they don't ever have to be in the company of those who revile them at party meetings because they have separate meetings. Consequently it's a question of their considering the revilers as an other, not their kind of Republican - the kind that lives for tax cuts so they can keep their wealth and doesn't think bad things will happen to them because they "happen" to be gay.


by: Idaho Queer

Well said Alan. The thing LCR's say is that they are trying to change the system from within. Bullshit! Why not do that from within Democratic Party with issues that are typically conservative republican. That would be an easier swim upstream than gay acceptance from right wing neo-cons. This has always seemed rather masochistic to me.

In my humble opinion, what we are really talking about here is huge denial mixed in with self loathing and internalized homophobia acting out the need to accepted by those who revile us.

Perhaps our Republican Queers should start first by working out and resolving within themselves their issues of acceptance within their own families of origin. This is WAY more complex that just about fiscal responsibility, family values and gun laws.

However in the meantime while gay republicans are, or are not, figuring this out, they are helping the homophobes use us for political purposes and exposing HATE, making it harder, not better, for the rest of us. How could anyone support such an agenda and be in their right mind.

In many ways it is not much different than a Jew working for Hitler.

by: Alan

As I have said many times to the former head of the local Log Cabin Republicans - when they coming knocking at your door screaming "Hey Faggot" they won't care about your party affiliation. Gay Republican is not an oxymoron - just an ordinary moron, usually with enough money that they think they will be somehow protected.

the Liberty Post, with a slightly different take:

I'm sure as the press digests the Craig scandal, you'll hear a lot about "hypocrisy," "repressed homosexuality" and "internalized homophobia." Good enough, I suppose, for making a somewhat cheap political point and sweeping these undeniably creepy, tragic guys back into the Brokeback Mountain days from whence they apparently came. But I wonder if the GOP's burgeoning "bathroom problem" isn't reflective of something larger than just a bunch of conservative dudes who couldn't come out of the closet. There's something palpably sad to me about what happened to Allen and Craig too, something oddly touching about their misplaced faith in the fading world of secret, anonymous gay sex. That world--once found in bathrooms, parks, piers and adult bookstores; the furtive refuges of adventuresome queers, married men, the curious--has been swept away by so many police raids, privatization schemes, quality of life campaigns and internet dating services. But mostly, it's fallen away as gays have become increasingly integrated into the mainstream, and also, paradoxically, more marked than ever. "You're either gay or you're not" seems to be the equation.

Until someone like Craig, Allen, Mark Foley, Ted Haggard or Jim McGreevey shows up to ripple momentarily the waters of public discourse on sex. These guys have problems, no doubt. But we might also pause to wonder if there's some cultural knot that gay liberation--despite its original and best intentions--has left in place. At the very least the link between public power and domestic heterosexuality--with all the fetishistic displays of family life that entails--has yet to be completely severed. Just ask Rudy Guiliani, or Hillary Clinton! Moreover, that knot, perhaps best described as sexual propriety, is what fuels the moral campaigns against homosexuality that have become one of the Republican Party's identifying causes--loyally supported by the likes of Craig, Haggard, Foley, et. al. It's also what leads Bob Allen to the stunning and revealing calculation that it would be better to be seen in the public eye as an avowed racist than as someone who likes to have sex with men sometimes.


Which opens up an interesting set of questions: if one has indeed "internalized homophobia," what is it, exactly, that one has internalized?

x-posted at Big Queer Blog

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Read -before- wringing hands, next time, o Kossack types (and many, many others of Us).

brownfemipower, guesting at Zuky, explains it as plainly as you're ever going to get.

Contrary to popular opinion, communities of color have not sat about for the last few years wringing our hands wondering how we can get those white folks to pay more attention to us. Our communities are flourishing and full of intellectual diversity. Most of the more progressive/radical bloggers are blogging about grassroots social justice issues that directly affect their communities. I almost never read mainstream news sources any more — I link through my favorite bloggers of color to find out what’s going on with people of color who live in Greece, Mexico, Australia and the U.S. I read comments to find out what other people of color are thinking about events. Through the “colored” blogging community, I have become more connected to other people like me than I have probably ever been in my life.

Which is not to say there are no problems. I’ve seen significant tensions between heterosexual bloggers of color and queers, rich or more well off bloggers and not so rich or poverty stricken bloggers, male and female bloggers, trans bloggers and cis bloggers, Latin@, Black, Asian, Arab, Indian etc bloggers. I could go on and on. Every type of fight between bloggers of color has happened, which exposes exactly how much work our communities have to do with each other.

So when we have so much work to do between ourselves and within our own communities, there better be a very good reason to attend a mostly white conference that is expensive as hell, largely has no interest in anything bloggers of color are doing outside of the conference, has gone to some lengths to even kick bloggers of color out of their community, and pretty much means almost the opposite of what bloggers of color mean when it says “create change”.

But as of today, I have not read or heard a single reason for white bloggers’ interest in “diversity” or “inclusion” that was not in some way connected to “We don’t want to look like we’re just a bunch of old white guys. It’s not like that. We swear. We mean well and all want the same thing. We need to work together.”

But the first thing almost every blogger of color I read (and granted, I’m in the more progressive/radical community) would say to this argument is, “We want the same thing? Who knew?”

And white folks don't limit themselves to assuming that “we all want the same thing”. Some of the more popular assumptions are as follows:

1. Bloggers of color means “black”.
2. Bloggers of color are poor.
3. Bloggers of color hold mostly menial labor jobs (hence the lack of time or willingness to do something “educated” like blog).
4. Bloggers of color haven’t been educated at elite universities.
5. Bloggers of color don’t have their own thriving communities.
6. Bloggers of color didn’t create those communities as a direct result of the neglect and/or outright racism of white bloggers.
7. Bloggers of color are standing outside the Doors of the Elite and staring balefully through the windows, longing with all our hearts to be invited in.
8. Bloggers of color need white folks.
9. Bloggers of color don’t have a very real existing and standing critique of white leftists and their organizing strategies.
10. Bloggers of color have not made the deliberate choice to not be involved in the organizing efforts of white led/centered groups.

What many white folks haven’t figured out yet is that their very assumptions and speculations are what's wrong with “inclusivity”. The assumptions and speculations white folks have about everything from what action needs to be taken, to who are the actual people they are working with, hides the reality of a particular situation to the point that white people often aren’t aware that they are the only person in the room.


The part about -assumptions- is particularly key. This in particular:

But if “inclusivity” is only important in theory when building the most important part of any organization (the base), why on earth would inclusivity naturally flow out of something where it didn’t exist to begin with?

This is a great point. It ties back into the basic problem of, lookit guys, we're talking about -structural- change. That means the macro society and it also means looking at the micro structuring of the -relationships-, the dynamics of institutions you're/we're a part of -right now.- It doesn't just mean "by the time it's codified into law."

And what you don't realize, sometimes, till you try to change 'em: organizations take on a life of their own that's more than the sum of their individual parts.

Which, yep, could go for something even as relatively new as Yearly Kos. How's the thing set up? Who's running it? What exactly were you trying to accomplish with it?

I know that Lorde quote has been done to death and often misused, so I apologize for using a "house" analogy, but: it's a lot easier to change something at the foundation stage than after you've already constructed the whole building and moved in and everything. Yeah, you can look at it after it's done and go, y'know, maybe it wasn't such a hot idea to put that right at the edge of that cliff over looking the ocean, what with soil erosion and the increased likelihood of tidal waves and all. And, oh yeah: asbestos. Oopsie. But, what the hell, it doesn't seem to be going anywhere -right this second.- Just, maybe some occasional guests and neighbors are starting to complain about this, that, and the other thing (your sweage runs right back down the hill and into the backyards of the people who built sensibly but less glamorously at the base of the cliff, say). And there was a little blurb in the paper about how overdevelopment is ruining the beauty and natural wildlife of the cliffside, plus haha, stupid people forgot the last time they tried to build right there....

but, see, you already sank millions of dollars into this little endeavor, you LIVE there, nothing terrible has happened (to you) yet; and dammit, it LOOKS terrific. Maybe if we just reroute the plumbing lines; but hell, even that's a lot more trouble than making a lot of pretty words about how we Value Our Neighborhood, want to know how we can be Better Neighbors, please drop it in this suggestion box, and finally, O.K., here's a crappy fence for you lot that's butt-ugly and doesn't really solve the sewage runoff problem, but it'll actually keep us from SEEING you being inundated by our sewage. Meanwhile--uh-oh, seismic shifts or bunnies or something mean that the whole place keeps slanting oddly,and yesterday half the living room abruptly caved in, and WHY O WHY DOES NO ONE CARE OR HAVE SYMPATHY, HUH?...

(anyone who's looking at this and opening their mouth to object about the logistical nonsequiters and metaphorical excesses in that analogy: bite me. xox)

Sudy, who btw has also just posted a letter to white feminists that's another damn good read, comments (back at bfp's post):

(in response to another commenter)

White folks must recognize they’ve had it all wrong — they are the problem. It is they who must change, not people of color."

Yeah, that's gonna work. Change, white people, change!!!

Which, well: yes, there is that. (also feel free to insert: Change, men, change! Change, straight people, change! Change, rich people, change! Change, US-ians, change!...) On the other hand: hell, you could say the same thing about the whole damn human race, say, from the perspective of y'know, nuclear weapons global warming oil crunch tipping point yadda yadda we're really maybe about to wipe our whole sorry selves off the map. At a certain point it becomes about, "no, it's not 'change in order to please some stranger and assuage some vague guilty feelings.' It's, CHANGE OR DIE, because the current model is NOT WORKING."

Of course, even if it really is so dire that the house is about to crumble right nto the sea--and let's face it, it's also human nature to get cynical after one too many Chicken Littlesque The House Is Falling! and it actually doesn't--

--but even so, we don't want to change. We don't -like- change. As Sudy astutely notes in her letter:

“The possibility of change is so fearful that most will stay with what is familiar to them, even if it is hell. The unknown is that daunting.”

...and again, really, read the whole damn thing, please.

On a related note, also see: Nanette's killer post at Feministe last week, "The Benefit of the Doubt" and this post of Black Amazon's, "Of Myths and Monsters."

Wednesday, August 29, 2007


As per a comment here: (waves merrily)

Dear tayefeth, whoever the hell you are:


I mean, only as a ruse to take your MAY-UN, of course.

Oh, wait --I already was a lesbian. Dunno about the sublimation. Sounds kinky, though.

And you, well, YOU'RE a genius.

xoxoxo, babes! keep digging, and drop us all a postcard when you get to China, will you?

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

This just in: Senator Larry Craig is NOT GAY!!!


Craig says "I am not gay, did no wrong"

BOISE, Idaho - Under fire from leaders of his own party, Idaho Sen. Larry Craig on Tuesday the only thing he had done wrong was to plead guilty after a police complaint of lewd conduct in a men's room. He declared, "I am not gay. I never have been gay."

"I did nothing wrong at the Minneapolis airport," he said at a news conference with his wife, Suzanne, at his side.

...The airport incident occurred June 11. Craig signed his plea papers on Aug. 1, and word of the events surfaced Monday. The senator issued a statement Monday night that said, "In hindsight, I should have pled not guilty."

He repeated that assertion at the Idaho news conference. "In June, I overreacted and made a poor decision," he said. "I chose to plead guilty to a lesser charge in hopes of making it go away."

...Craig, who has voted against gay marriage, finds his political future in doubt because of the case, which has drawn national attention.

Craig, 62, has faced rumors about his sexuality since the 1980s, but allegations that he had engaged in gay sex have never been substantiated. Craig has denied the assertions.

Trying to put his actions "in context," Craig lashed out at the Idaho Statesman, which published a lengthy article Tuesday on its investigation into the senator's actions.

The scandal had already taken a political toll. On Monday, Craig resigned from a prominent role with Republican Mitt Romney's presidential campaign. He had been one of Romney's top Senate supporters, serving as a liaison for the campaign since February.

Asked about Craig, Romney said, "He's disappointed the American people."

Speak for yourself, Mitt baby. I for one am proud, PROUD, I say. You go, Larry! Hold your head up high! It's the best way to see into the next stall anyway...

16th Erase Racism Carnival is up

at Alas, a Blog.

I'm just not sure where we'd find a truck big enough for all of us

antiprincess notes that Someone is trying an experiment.

hey, you know what else would be a good experiment? go out into the street and kick someone random on the shin. hypothesis: I bet she'll hop up and down! It'll be fun!! woo hoo!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

yep, that's the name-O, all right

or one of 'em. (BINGO's name is Legion). "Feminist" discussions about transpeople version.

"Vagina=woman & penis=man!"

"Being trans reinforces the gender binary!"

"Transwomen have male energy!"

"There's no such thing as gender; you're buying into a construct!"

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Tagg'd, or Germaine does Diana

Natalia Antonova asked for my take on Greer's take on Princess Di.

Germaine, who apparently is still germane (har har), who knew? apparently having just noticed that Diana is dead, salutes the fallen Heroine-Princess of the People thusly:

"I have come to the conclusion that she was a devious moron.

Also, Greer is "puzzled" as to why "[Diana's] whole life was such a mess." Perhaps in another ten years she'll have some answers to that burning question. Meanwhile, she's got her some soundbites, bless her.

Natalia finds that

a lot of the criticism leveled at Diana carries some sexist undertones: we do not attack rich men the same way that we attack rich women, this rich woman in particular. Furthermore, even when people express sympathy for Diana many of them do it in a condescending, belittling fashion - “oh, what a poor lamb Diana was. What a sweet-faced little martyr.”

Which is a point; and, one has to admit, at least Greer's take on Diana is rather um refreshingly free of the latter sentiment. And, to be fair, she has also had similarly unsentimental takes on famous male deaths, has Greer. Steve Irwin, for instance:

'That sort of self-delusion is what it takes to be a real Aussie larrikin'

Irwin was the real Crocodile Dundee, a great Australian, an ambassador for wildlife, a global phenomenon, a superhuman generator of merchandise, books, interactive video-games and action figures. The only creatures he couldn't dominate were parrots. A parrot once did its best to rip his nose off his face. Parrots are a lot smarter than crocodiles.

...The animal world has finally taken its revenge on Irwin, but probably not before a whole generation of kids in shorts seven sizes too small has learned to shout in the ears of animals with hearing 10 times more acute than theirs, determined to become millionaire animal-loving zoo-owners in their turn.

The common theme linking Di and Irwin, for Greer, besides both being famous dead people, is that their lives were a mess and their spectacularly gruesome deaths were, well, pretty much what you'd expect, although they really should have known better, and Germaine would have Told Them So, one presumes, if there was any chance of them listening. One presumes that Greer's own death, if/when it comes at all, will be suitably...dignified. And that she'll have something Seminal to say about the whole death experience, much as she has for every other stage of womens' lives (not Whitney, but she, is, truly, Every Woman; except for Paglia, who is also the Cosmos), to be dictated via Ouija Board, no doubt, to some latter day Blavatsky with Marxist/Dianic-Wiccan leanings and a taste for the outrageously attention-getting.

Diana; well, what is there to say about Diana at this point? It seems to me she was just another flawed woman who got lotto-picked for the limelight and then eaten up by the celebrity machine. It seems to me she lived her life like a candle in the wind, never knowing who to cling to till the rain set in. And I would liked to've known her--no, I'm full of shit, I don't guess I would've enjoyed her company at all, and in fact Diana herself doesn't really command any more or less of my empathy or fascination or admiration (maybe a little more admiration, okay, yes, she probably Did Some Good Things, I expect) than Marilyn Monroe, or Anna Nicole; and as for the Royals, well, I think Sue Townsend probably covered it as well as anyone else, back in the day.

Greer is a bit more interesting. She stands up for Shakespeare's wife (as opposed to the fictional sister; but either probably really does have more going on than just being "the silent woman of Stratford," I expect) while dissing Di; she's been a "lifelong critic of marriage" but now wonders why Diana would do "that no-no thing: she sleeps with married men." She's arguably one of the earliest and most authoritative sources for the by-now-widely-familiar arguments that (socially) enforced bra-wearing sucks patriarchal donkey dick; that stereotypical femininity is inimical to girls'/womens' natural sexual autonomy; that radical revolution is the solution, mere reform won't do; and that "women don't realize how much men hate them, and how much they are taught to hate themselves." (And, less commonly taken seriously these days, pronounced that all women ought to taste their own menstrual blood). She's often considered a sex-positive feminist, even a "fun" feminist, indeed perhaps the original "fun" feminist; she has argued against female celibacy and monogamy, posed nude for "Screw" magazine, was a "supergroupie," and is the subject of all kinds of entertaining and risque anecdotes. She is not, however, in favor of "girl power," seeing it as one of many lulls of "fake equality." She is the author of a 2003-released book called "Beautiful Boy," celebrating the attractions of tender male youth, including those of the rather pre-adolescent-looking boy on the cover, who apparently did not consent to being her cover art. She inspired Michelle Talbot, reviewing one of her more recent books, to dub her "The Female Misogynist." The overall impression I, at least, get, from this article (among others) is that of a proto-Camille Paglia crossed with Gael Greene, who's since morphed into a persona very much resembling certain online and offline Spinster Aunts.

(On edit: in comments, kh notes that Rachel Talbot also deserves a shout-out here, perhaps:

The decision to admit Dr Rachel Padman, 43, as a Fellow of Newnham College has caused discord among senior academics, including Germaine Greer, the leading feminist who is a member of the college's governing body.

...Although Dr Greer regards sex-change operations as mutilations, her opposition is based on principles not personality, she said.

"I like Dr Padman. We all know she is a distinguished physicist, but what is the point of having clear statutes if we just ignore them? We should have answered these questions before her appointment. We have to be true to the spirit of the original bequest to the college as a women's college for women."

She did not succeed in blocking the appointment, I understand.

Ah, and about that mutilation thing: more quotage

People like Germaine Greer and Janice Raymond have often stated that infant genital mutilation is a cultural thing and should be respected. Germaine Greer has recently, in her book The Whole Woman, disgusted the feminist community by stating that female genital mutilation is something "African women choose for their own gratification." (Probably referring to the model Waras Dirie who was herself a victim of female genital mutilation and who campaigns against it.)

Separately, regarding transsexual and intersex people, Germaine Greer has also stated that "lack of choosiness about who may be called a woman strengthens the impression that women do not see their sex as quite real."

...and more here.

...There is a witness to the transsexual's script, a witness who is never consulted. She is the person who built the transsexual's body of her own flesh and brought it up as her son or daughter, the transsexual's worst enemy, his/her mother. Whatever else it is gender reassignment is an exorcism of the mother. When a man decides to spend his life impersonating his mother (like Norman Bates in Psycho) it is as if he murders her and gets away with it, proving at a stroke that there was nothing to her. His intentions are no more honourable than any female impersonator's; his achievement is to gag all those who would call his bluff. When he forces his way into the few private spaces women may enjoy and shouts down their objections, and bombards the women who will not accept him with threats and hate mail, he does as rapists have always done.

more Greer quotage on FGM:

" man's beautification is another man's mutilation. Looked at in its full context the criminalisation of female genital mutilation can be seen to be ... an attack on cultural identity...if an Ohio Punk has the right to have her genitalia operated on, why has not the Somali woman the same right?"

You get the idea. Clearly Greer interesting person. And that's without even getting into the whole Big Brother business).

Talbot, along with Laura Miller writing at Salon, observes that Greer--the woman, the myth, the persona, the oeuvre--hasn't aged well. As Miller puts it:

What changed? Not all that much, actually. Greer insists that she hasn't done an about-face on any of her earlier positions, and in a weird way, she's right. She's simply followed her premises to the conclusions implicit in them from the very beginning. And her writing hasn't evolved much, either. It's rather that we -- her readers, her world -- have transformed around her. To be disappointed in "The Whole Woman" and to then go back and re-read "The Female Eunuch" in search of the Germaine Greer who fired up so many women in the 1970s is as disconcerting as seeing a horror movie that terrified you as a child only to realize that it's pitifully tame.

...Greer doesn't feel she's been inconsistent because her method -- inflating her own personal trials into theories about the condition of women -- remains the same. When it comes to sex, she genuinely feels swindled. During her years among the Push crowd in Sydney, the ethic of free love got her into numerous "scrapes" (the group's term for unwanted pregnancies), which ended in several abortions accompanied by other undefined gynecological problems. As a result, in her late 30s, when she desperately wanted a child, Greer was unable to conceive and turned to expensive and difficult medical interventions, all of which failed. Greer's resentment of the sexual utopianism she once so avidly championed springs in large part from this misfortune -- she describes sex in the late 1950s and early '60s as "a bloodsport." Her denunciation of elaborate fertility treatments as causing untold "damage" to desperate women only makes sense when you understand that the process raised her hopes only to trample them -- and finally broke her heart.

In the 1980s Greer suffered another rude awakening: She got older...

...If Greer were a bit more honest and had a bit more perspective, she'd have a useful message to relay to young women about the perils of confusing sexual autonomy with the real but ephemeral ability to manipulate men. She could elucidate the difference between a sexual freedom that abuses body and soul and a sexual freedom that cherishes and respects them. But Greer has always spoken directly from the tangles of her personal experience, shamelessly extrapolating from her own condition to the rest of womankind and seemingly unaware of her presumption. ("She's about as introspective as a sweet potato," Barbara Grizzuti Harrison once observed.) In the '70s, she admonished women who lacked her confidence, stylishness and libido for their timorousness. Today, feeling betrayed, she's become grim and hectoring, a feminist more cartoonishly man-hating than the ones she supposedly defied in the '70s, nattering on about body hair and bras.

...Like most divas -- for that's what she is, a glorious, melodramatic, chaos-making performer -- Greer has made a mess of her life.

--emphasis mine, there. Oh what a giveaway! And so we come back full circle to Greer's take on Princess Di, written some seven years after that Miller piece:

"One of the things I have been puzzled by is why her whole life was such a mess."

Miller, I note in passing, has a somewhat more generous take on Greer than Greer does of Diana: despite the former's "bad behavior" and "blatant hypocrisy," not to mention the empress-has-no-clothes-ness of her work (as Miller sees it), nonetheless:

I've heard women say again and again when the subject of Germaine comes up: 'Well, her book changed my life for the better.' And they'll be modest women living pretty ordinary lives, but better lives." Women entirely unlike Germaine Greer, the feminist who improved the world in spite of herself.

To answer Natalia's question a bit more succinctly, finally, my own thoroughly Gen-X take on this whole brouhaha? Well, what comes most immediately and clearly to mind is, simply, sadly, this:

You're only young once, but you can be immature forever.

--Germaine Greer

Sunday, August 19, 2007

How about that.

You Are 96% Feminist

You are a total feminist. This doesn't mean you're a man hater (in fact, you may be a man).
You just think that men and women should be treated equally. It's a simple idea but somehow complicated for the world to put into action.

Friday, August 17, 2007


Antiprincess reminds me of this, roundabout like, with her mention of the ungodly news that Van Halen is back on the road. With Pat Boone opening. No, I made that bit up. Probably.

Anyway! So I've been a-tripping and stumbling down Memory Lane, and it occurred to me to revisit a video that--unlikely, because it sucks, musically and aesthetically, nonetheless--made rather an impact on my tender whenever it was, junior high, high school, psyche.

Feel free to watch this Sammy Hagar-fronted yowling sludgefest with the sound off. Actually if you dub in something better, like Alvin and the Chipmunks, it improves the overall experience substantially. But that's not my point (I'm getting there).

(If you are a serious glutton for punishment, the "lyrics" are here).

Subtle, no?

So, yes, a, ahem, deconstruction of the narrative. Young woman in modest dress and sensible shoes (ALERT) goes to try out for being one of Van Halen's chorus girls. She finds the dressing room, with a conveniently placed hole in the frosted glass window. She puts an eye to the hole; inside is a bevy of beautiful young women in leather, lace, nylon, maribou, ostrich feathers and pink fur (o joy to my girlie heart), cone bras, high heels, makeup for days, fuckloads of hairspray. The young woman is shocked. Yet, she cannot resist another peek. And another. She is too shy or too prudish (we presume that's what the problem is supposed to be) to enter the forbidden chamber herself, but cannot tear herself away.

For the next couple of minutes, we are shown various flashes of this Edenic scene--corset lacing, perfume spritzing, powder puff-puffing, sultry posing in front of the mirror or just in the middle of the floor (like you do), a petite cat-fight--as glimpsed by Miz Sensible Voyeurism; intercut with shots of VH performing on stage, with Sammy lamenting to the heavens of the "poundcake" which has apparently stricken him with terrible cramps, and no Immodium in sight. (There is a profound metaphor buried in that juxtaposition somewhere. See if you can find it).

Eventually, there appears a blonde (who seems to have just entered the dressing room from elsewhere, possibly the stage, except it'd be some other stage besides the one on which Intestinal Cramps!Sammy is playing, because there are no females there. or possibly Narnia. personally I vote for Narnia) who shakes her golden mane free of her football helmet and then begins to peel off her jacket. Emboldened...or, something...Our Heroine takes off -her- jacket. Perhaps she might actually get up the nerve to -go inside!- in another five hours or so. Or perhaps she's going to just change into her audition duds out there in the hall (shy, you know).

Unfortunately at this juncture the blonde, who has a laser-accurate third eye hidden beneath that gorgeous mane of shiksa cornsilk, whips around with an angry glare, clutching the jacket to her bared bosoms. Sensible Shoes immediately ducks behind the door jamb: she sees! Caught! CAUGHT!! But, Our Guilty Heroine is paralyzed with fright, or something, so does not flee; instead, after catching her breath, peers through the hole AGAIN.

A new woman appears on the scene, chewing gum and packing, or rather unpacking, tools. Judging from her short, bluntcut hair, baseball cap, plaid shirt, suspiciously understated makeup (just a slash of red on the lips), clear oral fixation, forward, aggressive manner, and aptitude with power tools, she is obviously being coded, in time-honored media tradition, as a lumberjack. Maybe Tumnus the Faun needed some landscaping done or something. She turns on the drill, to the apprehensive muttering of the femme'd-out wimminz, and heads, a grinnin' and a chompin', straight for the door, and the plucky l'il voyeur behind it. The hazel eye in the hole widens. Our Heroine hides from the rampaging, encroaching drill by turning around and pressing her back flat against the door. Like you do. Lumberjack Lady, grimacing with effort, penetrates the door with her drill; the tool pierces through the barrier, brushes Our Heroine's sensible skirt and comes perilously close to her tender flesh. After two or three of these brushes with danger, Our Heroine flees in terror. Clearly the reminder of her miserable experience in shop class upset her. She just didn't have what it takes; she is not, in fact, coming back a star, or at all. (Please note the unusual narrative technique of taking the protagonist out of the picture before the end).

But from this melancholy note we come back to the idyllic Paradise, now gloriously restored, of the dressing room, where the scantily clad lovelies will continue to make themselves beautiful, rouge and tightlace each other, whisper and giggle, brush each others' hair, playfully spat with powder puffs and pillows, and daintily lap at each others' airbrushed pink pearls with the tip of their little pink tongues oh what a giveaway; until such time as they are needed to strut and fret upon the stage and give Sammy some goddam chamomile and saltpeter tea.

The End.

--oh, right, I forgot, there's also an annoying little moppet in a tutu that appears before and after the video proper, saying something annoyingly moppety.

Eth NEd.


Now, some people would say that this is a -classic- example of Patriarchy's oppressive standards for women, from start to finish. The little girl with her nauseatingly cutesy Shirley Temple posing and tutu, lisping about "sugar and spice," (already in training); cut immediately to a male fantasy of women's space, what the little girl is being seasoned into: a sexually saturated harem of women struggling to fit themselves into instruments of couture torture in order to become toys, mere objects for mens' delectation, (poundcake is CONSUMED, of course), and generally acting like, well, bimbos. Or your term of choice (bows). The one woman who looks remotely like a Real Woman (tm) is mocked mercilessly for her failure to conform to Patriarchal standards of feminine beauty, both by the token Male Identified Patriarchy Fucker (tm) and the cruel, yet vacant, male-fantasy-conforming girls. The men themselves, of course, are safely out of reach (the fuckers) in the place of power; whatever else happens, -they're- safe. Clearly Our Heroine was right to run as fast as her low-heeled but probably still uncomfortable shoes could carry her. Hopefully, some day, she will find a safe space to be herself.

Now, nothing like this floated, even incoherently, across my consciousness, when first I saw this oeuvre. I -was- incredibly disturbed by the video, yes. But the source of my disturbment wasn't the elaborate beauty rituals, which I'd always adored anyway; nor was it the men yowling on the stage, who were less interesting than dead sea-fruit to me.

No, what struck atavistic, complex terror into my heart was the whole woman spies on beautiful/sexual women undressing, gets caught, publically humiliated, and driven off.

-This- was my primal terror all through junior high and high school; -this- is what sent me fleeing down the corridor, mentally at least. And I don't even mean just in gym class. I mean, like, in algebra or Spanish or pretty much anywhere in public really, when some girl would glare (or so I imagined) at me, perhaps one of the pretty ones, perhaps one of her friends, perhaps just some random girl; and send me into blushing fits for the forseeable -weeks- or -months- every time I saw her or even heard her name. Holy shit! They know! They KNOW.

Oh, sure, I -thought- I was safely invisible, and truthfully, I was. But videos like that, like any number of reminders a thousand times a day, kept me constantly vigilant. Because you never know when some lumberjack with understated makeup might just see right through you and EXPOSE you. Maybe even drag you into the circle of angry women and drill you mercilessly. Demand that you explain yourself. And be punished. Clearly, a FATE WORSE THAN DEATH.

Dip me in honey and poundcake, please don't throw me in that briar patch.

x-posted at Big Queer Blog

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Quote of the day, 8/15/07

I always said I wanted to be somebody. I should have been more specific.

--Lily Tomlin

Carnival of Radical Action

The always awesome Black Amazon is hosting the next installment, deadline 8/25, so, submit if you've got.

Star Bellied Sneetches, and a Unitarian.

I like this sort of sermon.

Everybody has a story. Everybody is interesting. I brought cookies.

Monday, August 13, 2007


Rove is leaving? Faithful Rover is leaving? I'll be damned.

Karl Rove is moving on down the road," Bush said, appearing grim-faced on the White House's South Lawn with Rove at his side.

...Rove's departure reinforces Bush's lame-duck stature and declining influence, particularly with Democrats in control on Capitol hill.

"Obviously it's a big loss to us," White House deputy press secretary Dana Perino said. "He's a great colleague, a good friend, and a brilliant mind. He will be greatly missed, but we know he wouldn't be going if he wasn't sure this was the right time to be giving more to his family, his wife Darby and their son."

*snort* Is there ever such a thing as an official who officially resigns for some reason other than "wants to spend more time with his family?"

Also, consider: someone married and procreated with Karl Rove.

Just notin'.

Anyway. I'd tuned out most things Bushwise--after all, what more is there to say? "Yep, he's still a cluelessly malevolent, epic fuckup, continuing to fuck things up, as fuckups are wont to do. Film at eleven. Oh, look, there goes another official plummeting past the fifth floor window. Ho hum." Rove, though...

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Friday, August 10, 2007

Quote of the day, 8/10/07

This Be The Verse

They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
And add some extra, just for you.

But they were fucked up in their turn
By fools in old-style hats and coats,
Who half the time were soppy-stern
And half at one another's throats.

Man hands on misery to man.
It deepens like a coastal shelf.
Get out as early as you can,
And don't have any kids yourself.

-Philip Larkin

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

I love my statistics and research methods class

At this point in my studies, I can confidently say that I feel almost as clever as these scientists.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Book Club

I haven't forgotten. I'm gonna be busy this next week, (please, if someone sees me online, tell me to get back to work, will you?) but after the 13th or so, I'd like to get this going.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Dear Person(s) in charge of deciding pop-up ads for (mumble) site:

Please do not emblazon "Do we eat spiders in our sleep?", complete with graphics of big crawly spiders, across the top of my screen.

I don't care that the answer is "no." I don't care that it (obviously) got me to click on it. That was dirty pool.

and no, before you ask, I don't want some disgusting ad with visuals of a dirty pool for whatever reason -either.-

i hate you a lot,

etc. etc.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

"What he said."

Anthony on "Hatemongering Misogynistic Hacker Assholes."

Hackers suck. People who think rape is hi-larious really REALLY suck. And yeah, it can, does, might, and has happened to any of us. There's no automatic protection from assholes who want to fuck with your life, should they get a mind, whether it be rape, assault, or just ("just") harassment/har har racism and sexism are just so funnnnneeeeee. Because, you know, it isn't about what the target did or didn't do to "provoke" it; it's about, these people are ASSHOLES, and the buck stops with them. That's kind of (part of) the whole point of feminism, from where I sit.

i want to live in this website

Cream Puffs in Venice.

*sobs,* sulks, goes off to eat a dreary Subway sandwich or some such tripe...

Dr. Wee Beastie I Presume

Dreamed last night that my cat was my therapist. Spoke in the same dry if reassuring tones as my actual therapist, had the same office (albeit with a bed instead of a couch, for me) and everything. At the end of the session, I started to say "see you at home" but then realized it might seem unprofessional to the other clients who were waiting, as would scritchies or a squeeze. And asking how he learned to talk, as it suddenly occurred to me to do just before I woke up, seemed just plain rude and patronizing. It'd just have to wait.