I ask no favors for my sex. I surrender not our claim to equality. All I ask of our brethren is that they take their feet off our necks and permit us to stand upright on that ground which God designed us to occupy.
--Sarah Grimke, 1837
I ask no favors for my sex. I surrender not our claim to equality. All I ask of our brethren is that they take their feet off our necks and permit us to stand upright on that ground which God designed us to occupy.
--Sarah Grimke, 1837
american defiance is out in paper, with kindle coming soon. it is a collection of anti-authoritarian texts stretching from anne hutchinson's defense against and attack on the puritan theocracy to voltairine de cleyre's "anarchism and american traditions."
there are some celebrated slices, especially emerson and thoreau, but there is so much that is so little known. i've tried to give whole texts or very substantial parts. john woolman's 'plea for the poor' from the 1760s anticipates the arguments of peter singer. sarah grimke's letters on the equality of the sexes is probably the first feminist book published in the us, and she's better than fuller, i think. william lloyd garrison argues for total anti-statism in 1838. sitting bull lures a reporter into the new york herald's last stand. there is a really stunning and ground-breaking essay on race by frederick douglass that is almost never read (better than dubois 50 years later), along with a big chunk of david walker's unbelievable appeal. angela heywood throws down some surrealist political sex poetry. anti-federalists, abolitionists, anarchists, and antinomians are all represented.
this is our most radical and most american heritage: a fierce anti-hierarchical tradition, the texts themselves sometimes unimaginable acts of defiance. we need remindin.
in editing this book, i am appointing myself secretary of defiance. these texts constitute our artillery battery, our canon.
my next self-publishing project will be an anthology of american anti-authoritarian writings from the 17th through the 19th century. a number of fundamental texts here are far-too-little known and not widely enough available. many of them are quite unimaginably defiant. here is the toc, still subject to alteration:
Trial and Interrogation of Anne Hutchinson (1637)
Roger Williams, "A Plea for Religious Liberty" (1644)
John Woolman, "A Plea for the Poor, or a Word of Remembrance and Caution to the Rich" (1764)
Anti-Federalist Papers (1787)
Samuel Bryan, Centinel 1
Robert Yates, Brutus 3
Robert Yates, Brutus 6
James Madison, "The Virginia Resolutions" (1798)
Letter to Governor Harrison (1810)
Speech to the Osages (1812)
John Taylor of Caroline, "Authority" (1814)
David Walker, "Appeal to the Colored Citizens of the World" (Preamble and Article 1, 1830)
Sarah Grimke, Letters on the Equality of the Sexes (selections, 1838)
William Lloyd Garrison, "Declaration of Sentiments Adopted by the Peace Convention" (1838)
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Nathaniel Peabody Rogers
"Reply to a Correspondent" (1846)
Josiah Warren, Equitable Commerce (1846)
Henry David Thoreau
"Civil Disobedience" (1849)
"Life Without Principle (1863)
Lucretia Mott, "The Laws in Relation to Women" (1853)
Frederick Douglass, "The Claims of the Negro Ethnologically Considered" (1854)
Angela Heywood, "Human Sex Power - Fleshed Realism"
Lysander Spooner, "Vices Are Not Crimes" (1875)
Interview With Sitting Bull (1877)
Voltairine de Cleyre,
"In Defense of Emma Goldman" (1894)
"Anarchism and American Traditions" (1909)
here's an example of something that a certain kind of feminist says that i think is really terribly wrong. 'the expectations' on women (in public life, but many argue everywhere all the time) are different than on men. so, for example, hillary clinton is, by universal consensus, globally inauthentic. bernie, being a dude, can appear in a rumpled suit and sincerely profess his beliefs. but no woman can do that in public life, because the expectations are so different.
i'm sorry, but you're going to have to do something other than merely capitulate, appealing to your total involuntary passivity. each of us, i think, has an obligation to fight for some sort of authentic self-presentation in public; we all face great pressure not to. hillary clinton can dress however she pleases and say whatever she likes. really. seriously. her servitude is voluntary. she is one of the most privileged people in the world; if she changed her fashion sense or scrubbed off her makeup mask...whatever. maybe she would have to pay some kind of price; well, i think human beings have to be willing to do that. maybe 'the public' would actually respond well to that. but even if they didn't, at least she wouldn't be nothing anymore.
i remember obama said that hillary had to do what he had to do, but backwards and in heels. then he said that the experience was harder for her, because for one thing, she had to spend an hour and half every morning on her hair and makeup. define 'had to.' i hope i heard the condescension in his voice. maybe that was the advantage that propelled barack to victory, if it really did make it hard for her. chalk one up for the patriarchy. it might have also been harder for her because she had to discipline herself at every moment not to say what she meant and not to say what she thought. if women have to do that, i propose to ignore whatever any woman says from now on. fortunately i haven't noticed that women are any more like this than men, on average. hillary is doing exactly what john kerry did.
not all women who appear in public space have sprayed their hair into total discipline or whatever, whereas the ways men look presidential in their identical suits and ties is also pretty damn prescribed. if women face more pressure than men to create a false appearance, then they're going to have to insist even harder than men on manifesting themselves for real. stop whining and start fighting, y'all, or this whole feminist thing is the merest bullshit.
look, are you really going to just lay there, producing whatever appearance you suppose we demand, until we change our minds or something? if you don't like 'the regime of appearances' you need to tweak it, tease it, move it slightly, parody it, ridicule it, or simply defy it in our faces. ok? plenty of women have been doing that for a very long time. in particular, actual feminists have been doing it in a million ways since wollstonecraft. if you still 'can't', centuries later, that's on you.
i am your oppressor, i suppose. well, i'm not going to be able to free you if you won't make any effort whatever to free yourself, or if you are bent on regarding yourself as conceptually unfreeable, always questing for a set of expectations to fulfill. maybe you need to stop waiting for me to free you. y'all are going to have to teach us who you are and how you actually do want to appear, alright? many of you have, heroically or routinely. resistances, even little resistances, are educational. capitulation conveys no information, just mechanical repetition. we're going to need more, and we're going to need to understand some of the things it might mean to be a woman, or what it is like to be a woman, now. to do that, you're going to need show us who you are now, bring what's inside to the surface in whatever way you deem honest. what that takes: the minimum effective dose of human courage.
'expectations' have formed up into a pretty odd dimension; they seem to float free; they are everyone's, or all men's (?), expectations in general, no one's in particular. if we are talking about heterosexual men's expectations for the appearance of people like hillary clinton, i don't think our expectations are nearly as detailed as you seem to think they are. certainly, we could never have designed hillary's outfits or imposed on her her particular coiffure. as you may know, you're lucky if we really even notice stuff like that. in my view, these are your expectations for yourself, the expectations you are imposing on yourself. or put it like this: to some extent at least it is the us in your head, and not the us in the world, that is imposing all these disciplines of appearance on you. just taking a gander, it seems to me more like you're trying to fulfill the expectations of gay men: the sort of people who, let me speculate, might actually have helped hillary with her makeup, designed her outfit and imposed on her her particular coiffure.
we're apparently in a period of what might be termed morbid sociality, in which what people worry about most or exclusively is what they suppose other people are thinking about them and seem to regard themselves as having no choice but to behave continuously as they suppose those people expect them to. there's a whole wing of 'feminism' - oh, try jessica valenti in the guardian - and also of the social sciences as a whole, which appears to believe that this is the universal human condition, before which each of us is entirely helpless. it's just the way homo sapiens thinks. i propose to prove that false all day every day with my own body and blog.
women had to fight to rock.
they still do.
[actually i wanted this vid; 'embedding disabled on request.'] how do i expect a woman politician to appear? the more like da brat da better.
true, i'm going to do a 'round-up of country, 2015.' maybe not a top ten this year but just some artists, albums, reflections. bizarrely, country is still cisgendered. so let's break it down like that.
two of my very favorite female artists, ashley monroe and kacey musgraves, released albums this year. i was bitterly disappointed with both, even more so in retrospect than at the moment of their release. on the other hand, there was cluster of extremely promising debuts toward the end of the year. one of my favorite slices of music this year was maren morris's eponymous debut, and perhaps "drunk girls don't cry" was my favorite song this year.
also i particularly loved the hailey whitters ep "black sheep"; download 'city girl,' 'long come to jesus,' and 'one more hell.' a fine new voice is country is named 'cam' (also touched on in the last linked entry). really, in terms of a distinctive yet trad new female country voice, she is wonderful. i think probably her whole team was caught a little by surprise when 'burning house' - a really beautiful and tough tradtional song - went to #1, and the album, 'untamed,' might have been rushed into production with some boilerplate, including the miserable title cut. but check 'mayday' or even 'i want it all": bad self-esteen lyrics, maybe, but very very catchy.
i still want more from caroline ('kissin ain't the same as talkin') spence. and i await the heartbreak, cheating-bastard, d-i-v-o-r-c-e album from miranda lambert. you can whine if you like, but i say this: miranda is the best artist working now, the queen of country music, a worthy inheritor of tammy, dolly, and patty loveless.
the rachel dolezal reverse-passing case is pretty interesting. i see why it's a problem, especially in a situation where one might benefit from affirmative action, or have a job that is partly race-based. but...there just isn't any such thing as race either, right? a fungible social fact. so, why isn't rachel dolezal, for example, trans? maybe she can be the caitlin jenner of race. maybe people's surface doesn't always represent "who they feel like deep inside" etc. now, both in caitlin's and rachel's case, the idea of being something deep inside presupposes the duality. but keep migrating about through genders and races and pretty soon you've thrown the existence and nature of such identites into fundamental chaos, or even made yourself impossible, or problematized the notion of being male or female, black or white, at the surface or deep inside.
if your gender is a matter of how you self-identify, for example, then why not your race? if we should use the pronouns for someone that they declare or prefer (and i think we should), then why not treat people racially on the same sort of grounds? is your problem that people might reap advantages from being black? boy i don't even know where to start on the ironies.
now the sudden explosion of trans identity seems progressive, etc. but then again, many forms and moments of feminism presuppose the essentiality of gender identities. that includes affirmative action, or for example the sheer assertion that women make less money than men, and a million other things. and likewise with race: all the affirmative action and attempts to uplift the black community and black pride and so on presuppose that there is such a thing as race and that it is fundamental to identity. but what happens when - potentially in an apparently progressive way - these categories liquify completely, and all of that becomes impossible? i'd say the political reconfigurations that this entails are completely wild and unpredictable. progressive politics, no less than reactionary politics, presupposes the identities as fundamental realities. watcha gonna do?
one thing i'd predict: people are going to be more comfortable with gender-trans identities than race-trans identities. this is ironic because i'd say race is even more problematic than gender as an objective or biological fact, even more obviously 'socially constructed'. it has been liquid from the get-go, with a million variations, complications, and every possible mix. people have been passing one way or another or enacting the other, or defining themselves or one another as octaroons or whatever since they invented the concepts. but maybe for that very reason, the boundaries require extreme policing.
of course, if racial identities were to dissolve, that could be a terrible problem and a terrible loss. for example - and this would be typical of the history in various ways - it could just sort of mean that everyone gets to be a white person. you can't have black culture in a society with no or thousands of races, and that would be an astonishing cultural loss (i'd not mourn the death of white culture the same way at all, e.g.). on the other hand it might be a wild multiplicitous love-in, an opening up of a milllion now-inconceivable possibilities. race has been a nightmare too, hasn't it?
i am incredibly tired of all the attempts to create and enforce collective consciousnesses. races, classes, nations are supposed to be historical agents. for example, generations are just ridiculous fictions (as i have often said, across any given population, people reproduce continuously, not all at once every twenty years), but all of these have, let's say, fictional elements: they are ontologically problematic at best. i am even weary of genders and sexual orientations conceived in terms that give them personalities: women think this; men want that; men are from michigan; women are from yonkers, and so on. right and left in politics are becoming collective agents. now, you might think that individualism is tearing us apart, and you might yearn to be as one with somebody or even everybody. but think for just one second about whether thinking of ourselves in terms of races, nations, generations, classes, political parties has united or divided us, whether collective consciousnesses and agencies have created unity or conflict.
i can hardly read dubois and his descendants anymore, for example, because races start doing things and deciding things and have talents and failings and personalities and so on. someone made that shit up, i'm telling you. (in fact, pale people made it up in an ecstasy of self-congratulation.) collective agencies are real to the extent that they are enforced: black people, let's say in 1900, are poor, lazy, ignorant: you might be too if you were enslaved, prohibited from various kinds of employment, excluded from literacy by law, etc. the fiction of the collective agent is made quasi-real by itself; it creates the agencies it then purports to describe. the structures by which genders, etc are enforced or made actual might be a little more subtle, but these are all artifacts of exclusion in one way or another. the french are busy enforcing frenchness, in language, dress, and so on, and then confirming empirically what they invented. it all has the same structure as, say, anti-semitism: 'the jew does this and that; the jew wants money; the jew has no nation. the jew the jew the jew. well, the american thinks that; women need x, y, and z; millennials believe this; the greatest generation was courageous, etc. solidarity and exclusion are the very same thing.
maybe we can't just ditch out of this kind of thinking instantly and entirely. but we can think about it critically every single time it comes up, or try to work our way out of it slowly. because it's liable to be fatal to our species. our species doesn't want that; or actually, our species is pretty murder/suicide-oriented.
the really very rollicking aeon magazine is launching a sub-site at ideas.aeon.co. i quite like the free flow of texts on various provocative or odd or classic questions. i'm up there right now with a brief version of my sex-and-gender-as-aesthetic-expressions thing, in response to the question 'how flexible is gender?'
we're in a trans moment, what with the amazon series transparent and a lot of other developments. i have some misgivings about the ways transitioning people often talk about gender. so, it's often framed like this: finally, i can be who i really am; i always felt like deep down i was someone else than who i was in public. but the way this is formulated often makes gender and identity the very same thing. who are you deep inside? 'a woman' is an odd answer to that question: awfully generic, for one thing. i guess i'm pretty identified with my gender, but i think it's probably good that i would not answer the question of who i really am with 'a man', any more than i'd start by saying 'i'm white' or something. of course those things are in my identity, and central to the way i'm moving through my culture, but i want to think of myself not as a generic white man deep inside (or a black person trapped in a white body, say), but something a bit more specific and more interesting and less completely socially defined - less a blank demographic slot and more an actual set of experiences. it's true that testicles dangle between my legs, but that might not be the most interesting fact about me, or even the very center of my human identity. you know?
i think often the rhetoric around trans gives way too much power to gender, or 'naturalizes' it in an excruciatingly problematic context, or just where it should be breaking down. and we might want to reduce rather than increase the power of the binary to shape identities. i guess i've felt that some of the trans people i've known and read are under the spell of the gender binary, which is a bit ironic because from another point of view their experience might be used to break this binary down or throw it into question or complexify it. often the trans conceptuality seems entirely caught in gender dualism and essentialism: you fundamentally are one thing or the other as a kind of essence: you realized when you were 7 that you were 'really' female. i don't know, what if we all stopped worrying quite so much about whether we are male or female, outwardly or deep inside, or affirm other central aspeects or possibilities of human identity? it's easy for me to say, but maybe you're worrying too much about whether you're a man or a woman, or what clothes you're wearing, etc.
one common trope, also pulled out in transparent: wait are you going to dress up in women's clothes from now on? oh for heaven's sake, i've been dressing up my whole life! finally i'm appearing in public as who i really am. but we're all dressing up in a our little performances of gender. it's odd to think that the right outfit has to carry the weight of who you really are, since fashion transforms pretty quickly. look maybe i'm less aware than a drag queen about how my clothes are a gender performance, but they surely are. maybe a cross-dresser would find it easier to lose track of the fact that he or she is performing their gender in the crossed outfit. but they're still performing gender, becuase for one thing what it means to 'dress like a woman' in 2014 is completely different than it was in 1850 or 1950. 'now my ensemble reflects my natural essence' just isn't plausible.
for everyone's sake, it is important to de-naturalize gender, or show the ways it is socially articulated, the ways it is volatile over time. the kind of gender theory i like long ago tried to de-essentialize male and female, multiply categories and options, historicize the roles, and so on. but the way trans experience is presented right now often just effortlessly presupposes the categories through which the person is transitioning, even as the transition itself enacts the liquidity of the categories.
to go biological: every human body has its limitations, its frustrations, and its capacities for pleasure too. notoriously, one can't really know what the sexual experience of people of the other gender is like, for example. but you know what? one thing i've concluded from cuddling up with women is that our sexual experience, and our experience in general of being human bodies in a world, is actually very massively similar. men and women, whether we're biologically or socially distinguished, are basically the same sort of thing. sometimes we're in pretty close communication, and we tell and show each other about our own experience all the time; perhaps we can know a lot about each others' experience after all, or even share these experiences, to some extent have experiences across various lines or various aspects of gender. gender can have its little mars/venus communication frustrations, etc, but i also feel that we routinely communicate almost everything across the gender line one way or another.
again, we are all human bodies sharing the very same world. it might adjust you in one way or another to cross the line, but it won't help you solve or transcend the basic situation; it won't necessarily cure your sense of being displaced or not quite in the right body or not quite comfortable in the world as who you are now, or not quite having the right name, you know? it won't perfectly square your inner self with your outer enactment; that's a struggle for all of us all the time. i guess i'd advise people overall to try to enjoy the body they have at a given moment and put it into interesting communication with other bodies. but that does sound potentially prejudicial and if you are moving toward surgery, that's your call, and i don't, i acknowledge, have excellent access to every aspect of your experience.
ah, women. wait, can you still say 'ah, women'? or is that discriminatory harassment? if so, let me just say that mistakes were made. from a review of samantha ellis's how to be a heroine (tls sept 26): "Ellis re-reads Wuthering Heights once a year, in the run-up to her birthday, often in a hot bath with a glass of wine." then she writes a book about that. perhaps the whole thing is a devastating parody of bourgeois white het femaleness? like maybe 'samantha ellis' is a fiction created by angela davis or dorothy allison? yoga is likely, and scented candles. but two things i do know for sure: novels made ellis who she is, and there will be chardonnay.
every newsworthy event these days seems to be a reason to hang people for saying the wrong thing.
"How does she marry him after that? How does she go in front of (NFL Commissioner Roger) Goodell? That's pathetic to me," Robinson said during the radio segment, according to CBS Sports.
he was suspended. or how about the atlanta hawks owner talking about the economic implications of the racial makeup of the crowds at hawks games, in a way almost anyone might in that position? he had to sell out the day it was reported. just make up your mind to this: speech is not assault. and for god's sake, stop becoming outraged at people for saying even things that you are yourself, or that very many people, are thinking. there's no percentage in that. people do not want there to be any public actual discussion of anything, in particular race and gender. they want everyone chanting the same pc cliches in unison.
the baseline is that anyone gets to say whatever they like, and what you are doing is forcing dishonesty on everyone, even yourself. after that, you're going to wonder why no one appears to be a racist or sexist in a society that is structurally racist and sexist. my basic explanation of this always-apparently-mysterious fact is that it's one of the effects of of the overwhelming social sanctions against using certain words or expressing certain thoughts in public space. i think people really are or were confused between racism and the vocabulary of racism, sexism and the vocabulary of sexism: people seriously held the view that it would be a substantive improvement in the condition of women if no one ever used 'chick' or even 'girl', ever again.
pretty soon, not only is everyone policing every word out of their own mouths, they are editing their own thoughts, or trying to, because they themselves believe that the basic thing that makes you a racist is that the word 'nigger' crosses your mind. that is, the general theory that drives the policing of speech - the idea that reality is the result of our simultaneous incantations - itself becomes widely accepted and applied. then if you do kind of edit that stuff out of your own internal monologue, you believe of yourself that you cannot be a racist. that would actually be true if the 'words-have-power' magick theory of reality were true. the ever-more thorough and effective censorship regimes around racism and sexism combined with the mysterious persistence of the hierarchies themselves actually show that words are shit. or proverbially: talk is cheap. surely anyone who has lived among humans has learned this lesson, and no one can have better data on that than members of oppressed groups.
it's a near thing. this cloud comparing word choices by men and women on facebook, is very hilarious. the atlantic piece is about the femaleness of 'um' and maleness of 'uh', which is not necessarily as good as this bit.
i'm hoping that the forces conducting the war on women and the forces conducting the war on whites can transcend their partisan bickering, find their common ground, and join together in a war on white women. jihad jihad jihad!
the government of japan has arrested an artist for distributing a template of her vagina for 3-d printing purposes. that really improves the art, i want to say, or makes megumi igarashi's point for her. and i'll say this about government officials: it's not their fault that they are uncomprehending idiots, imaginationless dolts, idiot fuckwads who think for no reason at all that they should tell you what to do with your vagina. it's neurological, or would be if they had a neurology. the best part about government officials is that they all die eventually, and we can all comfort ourselves with the knowledge that they all die meaningless. also, this will make igarashi an international art star, though i have to say that, as big a fan as i am of the vagina, i think it has been, as it were, thoroughly explored in the art of the last few decades, which often bears an uncanny resemblance to gynecology.
the last graph of the guardian piece is priceless:
Igarashi has said she is on a mission to “demystify” female genitalia in Japan, a country where thousands flock to an officially sanctioned annual penis festival in Kawasaki every April.
the shootings in isla vista do kind of raise the specter of a shooting war between the genders (also thematized by maggie rose, below). boys against girls: that was always going to be our species' evolutionary destiny. we've been enacting it since we were cave-toddlers on the darwinian playground. obviously, at most one gender can survive. it's all going to turn on who can recruit the trannies. my advice to both genders and everyone in between: nuke up immediately and think in terms of devastating pre-emptive strikes. otherwise, you appear weak and vacillating on the world stage, which no gender super-power can afford.
in the gender declaration as in the leak itself, chelsea manning is a courageous person, and the least we can do is refer to her using the name and pronouns she specifies.
i think it's fair to say that i've got some reservations about this style of music, but i'm working on freeing my mind of prejudice. it's a process, sweetie.
people like jill filipovic are spearheading a revival of classic second-wave feminism; she's amazingly appealing in a way just by being foursquare where ms. was in '72. but she definitely is writing in a different era; she has to deal now with her own love of fashion, which when you feed it through second-wave feminism just comes out as false consciousness. she takes a traditional line: women have to care about their appearance so much and engage in these consumption patterns and so on because the expectations on women's appearance by the patriarchy are so throrough and extreme; you can't survive an office job without carefully calibrating, etc.
this is a complete misunderstanding of where we are as a culture, i think. the fashion world is an aesthetic coalition of straight women and gay men that has developed autonomously for decades and which surely cannot, at this point, be plausibly regarded as sub-altern. (you have to think about these identities as combinations of privileged and deprivileged elements: gay, but male (and also, er, white); female, but straight (and white, etc.). they are not exactly only oppressed minorities.) we heterosexual guys for the most part have no idea what is happening or why and we don't care. perhaps straight women theorize that we have very fine-grained expectations about their appearance. not by their standards, we don't. so look, let's take the common obsession with shoes. if you think your 60-year-old het male boss at the real estate company is evaluating your shoes every day, or has any idea what the styles or brands or prices may be, or can distinguish a manohla or whatever it is from a target store brand, you're just wrong. 'aren't those boots from last year?' or 'i wonder whether those are knock-offs,' say, are sentences that simply cannot appear in the idiolect of people like me.
maybe straight women just stopped being subordinate to straight guys and started being subordinate to gay guys. if so, i think that was your call, not ours, though perhaps you were sheltering together against the storm of us. on antm or on the pages of vogue or seventeen: who is taking the pictures, designing the clothes, working the images over in photoshop, selecting the models, judging or training the contestants, doing the make-up? you might compare the images there to those in maxim, for example. the images that come from the het-wo/gay-man side are much more relentless, much more processed, and the models are skinnier. what the readers of maxim want is pretty straightforward: pretty girls in lingerie. on the other side is a gigantic fantasy world of images and identities that we just didn't build for you, that we could not possibly have imagined.
it would be worth exploring how far one could go with the speculation that the way the images look has less to do with what straight men want to do than with what gay men want to be. they are hard to explain on any other terms, i believe. that might be the overriding source of the repertoire. this could plausibly be extended way backwards to when fashion designers and people who were dressing movie stars were still at least nominally in the closet. people like camille paglia or david halperin have looked back for the slightly-concealed gay sources of all sorts of arts and culture; what they say is plausible. but, it has got to be plausible for better and worse. finding the impetus in gay men probably gives straight women too little agency in the whole thing (as little as second-wave feminism attributed to them with regard to the hetmale gaze), and whatever the source, the images obviously work very powerfully on many straight women. one thing to consider: gay men are men, and straight women are women. the exercise of patriarchal power is possible, or indeed structurally inevitable, between the two groups in patriarchy, even if the story gets complicated after that. the gaze of a gay man is the gaze of a man.
at any rate, i'll tell you this: straight guys could not possibly have invented this repertoire; it corresponds to nothing we ever knew or envisioned. maybe it wasn't straight men who conveyed the message that you should stop eating and disappear, after all. (really, we never did want you to disappear. we needed your bodies with us, even if we didn't always want to have every piece of the subjectivity.) then think about the inextricably intertwined fantasy and shame that a gay man might have experienced in 1970 or whenever, and think about how images of what gay men wanted to be might really have come out. that is a rather brutal diagnosis. but...is it clearly false? that would need showing in the details of the history.
so first of all, maybe you shouldn't feel bad or wrong or anti-feminist for literally buying into that world. one thing it actually is is a sphere in which oppressed minorities have found power and self-determination (others have found there only prejudice and exclusion, however). but if you do feel funky about it, for god's sake you can't blame us (though we have plenty of actual oppression to answer for); the whole thing is internal to a culture that is closed to folks like us or is explicitly designed to extrude us and that we basically find incomprehensible. the standards of beauty it enforces really have very little to do with anything we ever thought or wanted. take some responsibility.
we definitely are reliving the 80s; we are in a second pc golden age. now, however, i don't think there's anyone left who might express skepticism. so, for example, according to everyone everywhere, the most important qualification to be a cabinet member is having certain sorts of pudenda. really i think the interview process could consist entirely of groping. as maureen dowd points out, there's more to y'all than ankles.
the basic idea is that a country or a company or a university should be run by checking boxes. i feel this is going to get more complicated as there are more boxes to check. indeed, lgbtqia takes half your cabinet right there. by the time we get to the santorum administration, people will be launching protests to get more octoroons in positions of authority. bring me binders full of octoroons.
see the trouble with romney's binders full of women was that it just cut to the chase and showed the dem-types what they were actually doing; it was a too explicit endorsement of affirmative action, without all the obfuscating bullshit.
it's possible that i'm blogging to avoid having to face that last leeettle bit of the free will problem. so i do propose this idea that heterosexuality could be better if it could lose its normative status and just be one of the things you might...choose haha! and also if we could allow ourselves not to take the stuff too seriously and just say words without worrying obsessively about who could possibly be offended under what circumstances. only the thing is if someone says we live in a rape culture or starts figuring out what most pornography means, she is not wrong, and what a terrible weight that is. but i think the situation was always more complicated than this indicates and also that the taxonomy and status of sexual identities is shifting very quickly, in a way that could itself begin to life some of that weight. i think if you just reject or repress all indications of even the problems of heterosexuality, you are in danger of getting twisted up and subject also to the lure of the forbidden, the eroticization specifically of real male dominance, a la fifty shades of grey. oops wait a sec, that's a novel, not real male dominance. there certainly can be forms of heterosexual love, even some that definitely put into play the conceptions of masculinity and femininity, or play with power, that are wildly more equal or power-reversed than the tradition would suggest: they've always boiled beneath the patrarchy, because really you can't deal with these folks (women) very much without it dawning on you that they're fundamentally your equals, or are just kicking your ass. anyway: here's how to play: somehow bonnie raitt and people like that sort of released themselves from the legacy of heterosexism without de-romanticizing heterosexuality long about 1971. well all us little boys had an unbelievable crush!
tell me that's not sexy. or tell me bonnie's not fully the agent of her erotic. i would think its sexiness would be palpable almost no matter what your orientation. if you're a certain sort of gay guy, imagine yourself singing it. if you're a lesbian, imagine yourself...oh never mind. this might show you how widely compelling these little hetero tropes are, how much everybody's erotic configuration owes to...us! we rock. well it helps that this is an old sippie wallace song, because you never know what the gender relations might be in some particular sub-cultural space. oh that is her drinking buddy the awe-inspiring junior wells on harp.
anyway, it's not my fault. i went het because women are so cute and men are so gross. surely anyone can see that. it had nothing to do with me at all. maybe i had that deep insight into reality right at that bonnie raitt show in 1971, and came out right there. bonnie still looks great.
i'm good with a new cohort of young feminists emerging, and the republican approach this year has stoked the fire. but i'm going to object a bit to some of the gender polarization. sarah fluke characterized a republican america as "an America in which access to birth control is controlled by people who will never use it." now i want to say, first of all, that men often use birth control on our very own nads. also, right, i'm not going to get pregnant. but i have always thought of or at least wanted to think of birth control of whatever kind as something my partner and i were doing together: decisions we were both making etc. you know, men can be ridiculously irresponsible about such things, but i am not willing just to turn over reproduction to women entirely: we're in this process together, along with its decisions and its difficulties and its effects. men's lives are changed by having children too. ok we're not quite engaged in precisely the same way as women. but we are extremely engaged. i say birth control, abortion, etc are men's issues too.
the gender gap, if you ask me, is a bit disturbing and it is increasing. it would be very weird to have men vs. women as the basic political structure. actually i think we're just not all that different, and that we're all in this - whatever this is - together. believe me i know tha the basic problem with this is presented by patriarchy and a history of politics and economics that controls women's bodies. there is something to fight for/about. but sweetie, we are your fathers, your brothers, your sons, your friends, your partners.
[is 'sweetie' too condescending? what term could i use to express affection?]
11:06 only one sentence is permitted on gay marriage: 'people can love who they love,' and variations. you can do better than euphemisms and stuff.
11:04 very, very good.
11:04 both parties tell exactly the same american-dream story, over and over.
10:48 the dems always frame it in terms of people who do what they're supposed to, play by the rules, do what they were told to do etc. that's the way they think about life, or about us.
10:47 i got my ph.d. in 1989 with about 60k in student loans. i've paid monthly ever since. i still owe 40.
10:46 plus she's just straight-up good.
10:34 speaking of african warrior queens, i definitely crush on michelle. put her in a tight fro, and i'd be groveling.
10:26 americans still love their mommies.
10:25 orioles tied with yankees for lead in al eastern division.
10:19 'everybody should get and stay in the middle class.' this is conceptually impossible.
10:16 this castro guy's ok. he's not absolutely inserting a grenade in me and pulling the pin, though.
10:15 i'll vote democratic, but i want a check every month.
10:13 my great great etc came with the pilgrims, and ever since my direct antecedent jemima sawtelle was captured by the indians (for real!) we've been victimized by afffirmative action programs for waves of yucky minorities.
10:11 julian castro's grandmother came from nothing.
10:23 orioles and yankees tied for al eastern division lead.
10:10 if i was in danger of fogetting the presiden'ts name, i'm good now.
10:09 there's something strange about being introduced by your identical twin.
10:07 'we seek a future of more opportunity, not a future of less opportunity' (o'malley). they've hired the scriptwriters from sesame street again. forward. not back. not not back, not not not back.
10:00 kind of a parade of future possible vice presidents. i just wish they were gigantic macy's balloons. o'malley's sleep-walking through everybody's speech.
9:51 patrick, among others, is going all libertarian and 'individual rights' on abortion and marriage. aww throw in marijuana, and then just keep going. everyone believes in some liberties. you can see why patrick has been a star; kind of rubio-esque.
9:46 orioles 12, blue jays 0
9:43 they are completely ready to nominate a woman. but the bench seems a little thin after hillary? napolitano is an impressive person. it'll be john edwards's turn, though.
9:37 they have to be psyched that they're not nominating mitt romney. not to mention john kerry. "now we're expecting a video on pay equity." man they're just trying to create disgruntled male loners.
9:34 barack's family is funky and obscure. he's such an alien!
9:20 i do like rahm's kick-assedness, though.
9:16 sibelius is a very dull speaker.
9:10 i'm not sure the merriest way to frame michelle's contribution is as a 'character witness.' that's when you've been convicted and they're moving on to the sentencing phase.
9:00 it's hard to deny that rich people know a lot about the way the economy works.
8:57 orioles 7, blue jays 0. rays 4, yankees 2.
8:11 the democratic convention looks like america, or like america will look when everybody is a unionized government employee. i'm afraid i can't help you with that. that's neither my job nor my problem. i don't make the rules. eventually, everyone will be an administrator in the dc public school system. then we'll all be in the kiddle mass.
7:54 anonymous should really concentrate on seizing control of the video system. retain absolute calm.
7:46 oh hell, more kennedys. what is he getting up to after the show, i wonder? ooph this one looks like a ginger jack.
7:40 ken salazar's parents came from nothing. ex nihilo, baby: the slogan of the moment. but while the ancestors of republicans made it by initiative and entrepreneurship and sheer ploxie and muck or by reading ayn rand novels, the ancestors of democrats made it because of new deal social safety-net programs.
7:34 i'm glad they included carter. there have been worse human beings. as long as i don't have to hear him on npr on another book tour.
7:13 humanizing people is boring. caninize them or something. woof!
7:07 and now...the electrifying harry reid.
6:40 i don't think anybody should, or really does, vote on the sheer question of whether they themselves are better off than they were four years ago. am i better off? hard to say, really; i'm in a completely different situation. if i was making more or less or i was unemployed, how confident would i be blaming or crediting the president of the united states as opposed to myself, my boss, or sheer luck? people are more likely to vote on a vague vibe of where the country's at than on whether their divorce settlement worked out.
6:30 looking at the crowd in charlotte, i have to say i'd be more comfortable hanging out with them than the reps. on the other hand their opinions would drive me apewire. white guys are under-represented. hey wait isn't this our country? remember when we ran everything? we did great! we can go back. republicans might re-think women's suffrage while they're at it.
5:06 one thing we can agree on. after all, we aren't red or blue, we're black white and brown, male and female. the middle class, if any, sucks and must be destroyed. what a pathetic little second-class class it is. and plus have you seen their lawns and suvs? they are destroying the planet. the only group worth dealing with at all is the second 1%, which i feel can be peeled off the 99.
5:02 wow debbie wasserman-schultz is really dolled up. no doubt she's trying to transcend mike huckabee's image of her. if huckabee's in the next room again, she might want to call security.
4:36 nevertheless, i'll blog through the dem fog this evening. forward!
12:25 my god now they're saying that michelle's job tonight is to humanize barack. i guess the basic gender split is that we dudes put our humanity in the hands of women, or place it in a blind trust with a woman as executrix.
surely the next logical step is to ban heterosexual marriage. anyone who's actually been stuck in a house with a person whose gender is apparently different from one's own will agree, of course. now, you may argue that god, while opposing gay marriage, positively requires straight marriage. but son, we are free, proud americans, not god's little goddamn slaves. god gave us free will in order to make it possible for us to sabotage his wacky totalitarian schemes. for though god has always been confident in his sheer power, he - like the rest of us - has had severe misgivings about his own benevolence. thus the great bellow of the god of monotheisms: "oh fuck, what did i just do?"
i'm glad the mississippi personhood thingummy failed. probably, what is and what is not a person is not a matter best left to voters. on the other hand i'm not sure it's best left to philosophers or scientists either: it's a wickedly difficult or impossible question in various cases. to tell or remind you of my views on abortion: i am pro-choice. but i am queasy. i think it has been central to the progress of women in some ways, and specifically i definitely agree that every woman ought to control her own sexuality and reproduction. on the other hand, how much a fetus in vitro counts morally is a serious, and perhaps an impossible question. not nothing, and the question of whether abortion is an exercise of the autonomy of the person on whom its performed or the worst sort of violation of another person is just a really hard question. i was pretty clear when i was 16 and my 14-year-old girlfriend had an abortion. i got queasier, i must say, after seeing a number of births, and having some children. so if ron paul is pro-life obstetrician, i can respect that and understand it.
really it is a relief not to be a lobbyist, an activist, or a politician. in other words, if the head of naral were queasy, she couldn't say so. and she probably couldn't get queasy. her commitment is immune to revision or experience. obviously, so is a fundamentalist pro-life position. in a way, the extreme and absolute nature of the positions reflects the deep obscurity and difficulty and ambiguity of the question: you need subjective certainty - an absolute rigid faith one way or the other - precisely because the questions of objective truth are impossible to answer. it has to be an absolutely clear answer, precisely because ther is no answer. well, i have the luxury of living with that, because it does not matter what i think.
now if it faces me again with one of my daughters, or god forbid a hypothetical pre-menopausal lover of my own, then i will leave the ultimate decision to her, of course. and i do think that's where it belongs. but i also won't feel exactly right about it.
hey so long poly styrene.
this, brought to our attention by lisa, is interesting. and it's worth saying that, like the whole of the american left, feminism has mutated from an assertion of individual rights and a vision of individual liberation into a collectivist discourse (which always proceeds in terms of rules and restrictions accomplished by coercion). but the original impulse of american feminism, as expressed by figures such as elizabeth cady stanton, lucretia mott, susan b. anthony, voltairine de cleyre, emerged from the same world that produced radical abolitionism and the american peace movement: a discourse of liberty and self-sovereignty, and the idea that a husband can't own a wife any more than a white person can own a black person. (stanton: "We ask no more than the poor devils in the scripture asked, 'Let us alone.' In mercy, let us take care of ourselves, our property, our children, and our homes.')
i think one thing we should say, however, is that if yale males are out there chanting 'no means yes and yes means anal,' you're well within your rights to stage a counter-march and to confront them with their stupidity and extreme wrongness, or to ask them how they'd feel about having such notions applied to themselves, by other men, say. oh no! bruno!
that there is country music. the arrangement is based on billy sherrill's work with tammy wynette.
the man crisis is everywhere. and it's true, i think: we're becoming unnecessary and we're mediocre, and we will soon be subordinated. one factor in this is that we have a bad conscience about our own power, and there are a thousand mechanisms by which girls' self-esteem is nurtured to gargantuan proportions. but i'll say this about the self-esteem monsters that are taking over the world; we'll be back. the fragility is almost incredible, probably because the whole thing is pretty impoverished and jive-infested. so a woman will spend hour after hour for years telling herself how valuable she is: how smart, how beautiful, and maybe invest thousands on plastic surgery or absorb infinite consumer goods because she's worth it, and then she'll feel better about herself, if that is possible. she will express an unbelievable quantity of self-confidence, and roll over everyone around her because no matter what she does she's a good and valuable person. cock an eyebrow at her, though, and it collapses like a house of cards. any criticism or resistance is completely intolerable, because underneath the jacked-up pneumatic self-love is a seething mass of extreme insecurity.
one reason for this is that the idea that every woman should esteem herself a good and beautiful person is not actually based on reality, or is a program for irreality. y'all should, i suggest, seek to understand yourself, seek to have an accurate self-image, cultivate self-reflection and even self-criticism. you are exactly as attractive and smart as you actually are, and you should maybe spend a moment facing up. i know it seems like that might be debilitating or a barrier to your conquest of the world. i know you think that if you believe you're incredible, it's true. that's false. reality is actually the only secure basis for going forward, the only way to construct a self that is not always threatened with collapse.
and i just want to point out that the therapeutic idea that no no matter what you do, you're good, does not help you be good. it helps you be bad; it is a formula for moral impunity. well, girls just want to have fun.
i have a funny feeling that the patriarchy will endure until y'all take this in, because you're actually still giving us incredible power: any edge of criticism is an existential threat. you can't run the world from that extreme fragility, and you can't run it without knowing it and yourself within it as it and you actually are.