Sunday, June 29, 2008

Americanism and Thought-Crime

Stop saying bad things about the world! Seriously. I mean, nothing's more American than being happy and loving everyone. Which means that me and the CEO of the company dumping toxic waste into the town lake are totally on the same page, man. We love each other, we're good neighbors. We both want some good old harmony.

Let's play the analogy game! Force is to Authoritarianism as what is to Democracy? If you guessed Propaganda you win the grand prize! It's called thinking. Sometimes it sucks. May cause feelings of intense hopelessness and pessimism. Use with caution.

Unhappiness, dude, that's not American. If the state of the world sucks, then don't think about it! In fact, ignore and alienate agitators. Like the government told you to. Or your boss, he's pro-American just like you. You ever hear of the Mohawk Valley Formula? No? That's good. Ignorance and bliss is the American way.

My slogan man, it's totally vacuous. Nobody's against it, because not supporting X, Y, and Z is bad news. Nobody really knows what it means, because it doesn't mean anything. All it does is keep me from asking, "do I support this policy?". But I'm not allowed to talk about it. Keep moving guys, there's no racism, sexism, classism, starvation, and disenfranchised here. It's a post-Feminist, post-Racist, post-classist society. Somebody told me so, and they must be right. I'm happier if I agree with them anyway.

So, do you support our troops? Well, you say, it's not like I don't support them. I've won. It's all Americanism and Harmony. We're all together, empty slogans, blank faces, corporate uniforms, daily grind. Join me, and together we can make sure that nobody ever talks about that nasty class struggle, racist, homophobic, sexist, exploitive, corrupt "issues" ever again.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Don't Call it War

Stop calling the Iraqi Conflict "war". If you have to call it anything, it's a Military Occupation. The war was over when the Iraqi military surrendered years ago. It might sound like I'm harping on a stupid and pointless question of semantics that does nothing to alter the framework of the debate. However, the use of the word "war" is very important if you happen to be a Republican.

"War" implies a grave threat. When the American public thinks of the usual war, we think of a conflict between two nations, or many nations, in which the losing party's surrender will result in the massive loss of human life and the potential shifting of borders. Even as recent as the Cold War, the consequences of war have moved borders and made the inhabitants of one nation suddenly citizens of another. The term "war" as it applies to Iraq is therefore, inappropriate. "Failure" would result in the rise of a new dictator--a powerless dictator, given that the infrastructure of Iraq is still in shambles and its population is impoverished and unlikely to support continued warfare. The price of "failure" in Iraq, for the Western world, is nothing compared to the price that Iraqis have paid, and will continue to pay for generations. Between a dismantled infrastructure, the leveling and loss of historic monuments, massive loss of life, and the poison of depleted uranium missiles, the occupation of Iraq has taken a very hefty toll from the innocent civilians of an already poor country. No such horrible fate would befall Americans if the occupation "failed". The use of the word war implies a somewhat equitable consequence resulting from the struggle of two or more equally powerful entities. Thus, the use of "war" is inappropriate to describe a situation in which a wealthy Western nation occupies a Middle Eastern country suffering from poverty and persistent civil violence.

Furthermore, "war" is a romantic term, attracting patriots and idealistic high school graduates who want to serve their country, and the political leaders that cloak their stock gains in nationalistic pride. Republican supporters call President Bush the "war president", would this title be as romantic if Bush was a "military occupation president"?

In a "war", we can justify autocratic leadership. We can sit idly by while liberties are sacrificed and foreigners are brutally tortured in our military prisons. We can excuse economic woes at home because of the "war" which "must be fought". Our "war" justifies airplanes loaded with hundreds of coffins of the Americans who never will make it out of their twenties. Can anyone say that a military occupation merits the same sacrifices?

"War" fashions heroic tales of valor. "War" creates glorious myths of an underdog fighting to protect itself and its freedom. A "war" illustrates nefarious villains would would stop at nothing to see the the destruction of our homes, and who have the means to accomplish this diabolical scheme if it was not for the brave actions of our military. In a military occupation, our heroes are overstressed youths raping each other, throwing puppies over cliffs, and committing suicide en masse. In a military occupation, the underdog is a nation run by oil barons, mercenaries, religious nuts, and construction contractors. In a military occupation, nefarious villains are farmers selling their daughters into marriage at younger and younger ages to support their families after their opium fields were burned, urban youths allying themselves with others sick of the war and prepared to fight back, and many other nobodies with no hope of posing a real threat to those on American soil.

In sum, "war" is what the neo-cons want every American to call the situation in Iraq, because just a single word justifies atrocities that the true situation cannot.

Stop calling it a "war", and start calling it what it is: the military occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan. This isn't just semantics, this is a matter of global importance.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Life and Blogging: Incompatible, accompanied by comic and video

Planning my grandparent's 50th anniversary luncheon with my mother was such a time-suck that I've been completely absent from the internets for the past week or so. I didn't even read any of my blog subscriptions which was a blasphemy of the highest degree. My very small audience will be happy to note that I'm currently sitting on a rant on the pornification of bisexuality.

In other news, I totally caught that interview with Jessica Valenti, writer and founder of the popular, on Moblogic:

Nothing particularly hard-hitting there, but we feminists tend to be a bit stand-offish in wider forums with our views. Probably because of trolls on comments like this:

Jessica Valenti is a bigot, she just happens to back what is currently a politically correct and popular form of bigotry.

The way they talk on her website you'd think women were living in some kind of planet of the apes scenario and yet she seems to manage to live a rather privileged life of celebrity, book deals and socialising.

She's not even an intelligent bigot, or she's highly intellectually dishonest, but then again her career is based on this notion that women are horribly oppressed - it's in her interests to keep perpetuating this idea.

No, I will not link to the comment. Trolls don't get free audiences here.

First of all, since when is feminism popular? I think our dear troll is confusing feminism with Suicide Girls or the various teenie-bopper fads that confuse titillation with empowerment and equality.

It's really obvious that Jessica is "privileged". I mean, she has to put up with asinine trolls and their sophomoric logic day in and day out! I do that too, although on a much smaller scale, and I can tell you how much fun it is, and how much money I make. Jessica's "socializing" is called activism. Instead of getting drunk and shooting the breeze with buddies, which is fun in moderation, try something more productive like writing books.

Finally, our dear troll punctuates his sentiment with the tired-and-true, "shuttup opportunistic man-hating whore!" sentiment. Any feminist knows she's doing something right when she gets this gem thrown at her. From trolls in my very personal rape thread whining about teh poor menz to anonymous emails about how I alienate people from feminism with my awful, terrible book reviews and pop-culture sociology, there seems to be no shortage of men, and the occasional woman, who seem to think that the people pointing out discrimination are somehow more to blame for society's ills than the people that perpetuate those attitudes with the defense of their willful ignorance.

In more colloquial terms, via Penny Arcade:


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Shit That Makes It Hard For Me to be Proud and Jewish

What the fuck? From Khalid Amayreh's blog:

Last week, the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem released video clips showing masked Jewish settlers ganging up on and severely beating elderly Palestinian peasants near the town of Yatta, southwest of Hebron. At least three Palestinians were wounded in the unprovoked assault, including a man and his wife, both in their early sixties.

The latest act of settler terror was not an isolated incident, as official Israeli spokespersons would often claim. It represents a disturbing and persistent phenomenon as young and usually heavily armed settlers continue to attack Palestinian farmers, peasants and shepherds and vandalize their property in an effort to drive them away from their lands and villages.

Holy hell. What the fuck is wrong with Israelis? Also, what the fuck is wrong with American media that they aren't all over this shit like white on rice? The unspoken rah-rah-Israel sentiments here in America are nauseating. Every single Israeli goes through the military upon becoming an adult, where the prejudices against Palestinians are further cemented in a hierarchical structure where armed angry youths learn that everyone that is confined to the other side of their wall is The Enemy. I sincerely hope that not all Israelis are that brainwashed. Unfortunately, the Israelis I had the misfortune to encounter through working for a Jewish summer camp all were the most militaristic pro-American anti-Muslim devotees. Not a single free-thinker in that bunch.

Although, I really don't expect anything but horse shit to spew from the fellow Jew's mouth when it comes to Israel. My mother's side―the Jewish side―all are so unquestionably pro-Israel that any attempt to point out the gross human rights violations is met with incredibility. I might as well hand in my Jew-Card at the Passover Sedar for not being a Good Jew(TM) and hating all brown people. What the fuck, man? I really think we stopped being the oppressed when we started acquiring nukes, building walls, and forcing the native population into ghettos in an eerie parody of Nazi Germany. Racial cleansing is not fucking cool, even if you are Jewish.

People wonder why I avoid mixing Judaism and politics. Well, this is why. Then again, it's probably a good idea to conclude that any country Fuhrer President Bush supports is probably an oppressive regime that encourages its citizens to play Hitler's Youth with the disenfranchised du jour of the area.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Plastic Surgery and the Fake Beauty Ideal

What do Cindy Jackson, 48, and Steve Erhardt, 23, have in common?

They've both spend over $100,000 USD on plastic surgery.

The images above are of human beings that do not exist in nature. What I find intrinsically wrong and disturbing is my reaction to both pictures. Cindy, my mind tells me, is a pretty woman. Don't I wish that I will look like that when I'm almost 50? Steve, according to my inner sense of beauty, is a bizarre parody of a man. Cindy is beautiful, and Steve is abhorrent.

If my inner sense of beauty was as unwarped as I would like it to be, both pictures should disgust me. My mind should be incapable of finding completely unnatural and fake images of humanity as sexually appealing, or more so, than images of unaltered human beings.

I tested this with several of my friends. Unanimously, regardless of their gender or sexual preference, everyone I talked to found Cindy better looking than Steve. In fact, only one of my friends, a straight woman, thought that Steve wasn't disturbing.

What does this mean?

It means that our definition of female beauty is so warped that we find completely invented images of women prettier than actual women. This standard does not apply to men. When confronted with an image of the "perfect man" who has spent thousands of dollars augmenting himself to adhere to a beauty ideal, most react with disgust. When we see Cindy, on the other hand, we find her unanimously prettier than Steve, at the least, and extremely good-looking in general.

I submit this experiment as absolute undeniable proof that the image of female beauty is invented to a degree that male beauty has never been. Humanity finds the male that occurs naturally much better looking than one that appears plastic and fake. Whereas, unless we're plastic surgery experts, we are incapable of recognizing alteration to the female form because we are socialized to find such alternations beautiful and normal.

It is the true female body, with its stretch marks, pores, unlined eyes, uneven skin, knobby knees, and slight pouch that we find as disgusting as the altered male.

Repeat this experiment with your friends. Even though I spend hours weekly trying to deconstruct the false image of beauty that marketing has socialized into my subconscious, I still find Cindy infinitely more attractive than Steve. I highly doubt that anyone, regardless of their sexuality or gender, disagrees with me.

It is this evidence—socialization has ruined my natural sense of beauty—that is much more horrifying than the thousands of dollars and months of pain women undergo to transform themselves into some Living Doll. Although I cannot determine which came first—the demand for false beauty or the image of unnatural beauty—I can say that my subconscious is evidence that we continue to perpetuate this demand for the mutilated image of femininity despite any objection that so-and-so prefers natural beauty.

In fact, I postulate that anyone when confronted with a unadorned symmetrical female face through the media would not find it as attractive or "normal" as the completely unnatural image of Cindy Jackson.

This fact, coupled with the observation that we are capable of valuing real men over altered men (who would argue that a naturally handsome man is less appealing than Steve?), leads me to believe that feminist theory is undeniably true: that what is we think is "normal" female beauty has nothing to do with nature. This hijacking of female beauty and biology is nauseating in its totality.


Friday, June 13, 2008

Dear Conservatives, I'm Pro-Abortion! And You Know What That Makes You?


I really tire of the abortion debate. Even so-called liberals that I have contact with through various political groups always claim to understand the motivations behind the Anti-American clusterfuck that is the conservative party and their holy quest to deprive women of fundamental freedoms.

I'm talking, specifically, about reproductive freedom.

You dudes: us women, well, we don't rape people in the same numbers you do. We can also chalk our violence up to mental deficiencies, rather than the self-perpetuating prophecy of masculinity. If you weren't content with the free pass the justice system has given men to rape women that I detailed exhaustively in my last post, your penis-buddies on Capitol Hill also would like us women to know that they value the "life" of a clump of cells, a fetus, or whatever you want to call it, more than freedom.

Because in case you haven't gotten the message: America's "freedoms" only apply to white men. Also, because I'm having a bad day, I tire of talking points and meaningless posturing.

So here it is, for everyone who cares to know: I'm Pro-Abortion. I don't dress my opinions up with fancy terms like "pro-choice" to distance my stance from the fact that I am supporting the systematic termination of a pregnancy that will result in the "death" of a fetus, embryo, fertilized egg, or a sack of cells that might be a human depending on your political agenda.

So, I admit that I am Pro-Abortion. Which means that if we wish to dispose of loaded phrases and cut to the heart of the issue, we're going to redefine "Pro-Life".

Note: graphic shamelessly lifted from Andy Singer's No Exit

First, you are not pro-life. Most conservatives support the death penalty, and holding enemy combatants in Guantanamo Bay until presumably the Apocalypse or nuclear winter. Killing people and torturing them isn't pro-life. Conservatives also shoot down any efforts to expand affordable health care, even to children. That's not pro-life either.

To liberal dudes who sympathize with conservatives: you might be pro-life. Sure, you might oppose the death penalty. You probably think water-boarding sucks. Your trendy liberal sentiments might also require you to admit that reducing the cost of health care is instrumentally important to the thousands of children who go without. However, you do share something fundamental with anti-abortion conservatives:

You're Anti-American.

Nothing is more intrinsic to the idea of Americanism than freedom. Not the hijacked definition of freedom which is used to mount submachine guns on a suburban Hummer, but the kind of freedom to go where I want and do what I please, provided I am not impeding anyone's rights. Probably the best and most basic exercise of freedom is that over your own body. Someone that does not even have the right to control their own body would, obviously, be a slave.

Now we've arrived at a point where sound bites are irrelevant. If I wish to be honest, then I must say that I am firmly and completely Pro-Abortion. If you wish to be "pro-life", you must oppose the unnatural and purposeful death of all of humanity. Your policies, instead encourage or allow war, torture, grueling child poverty, or a complete dismissal of the rulings of the Supreme Court. Anti-abortion activists and sympathizers are firmly and completely Pro-Slavery (of the reproductive variety) and Anti-American.

So let's just cut the bullshit, okay? I admit that I love abortion. Now you admit that you love reproductive slavery, and that you hate freedom. Fair is fair, after all.


A Note to Self: Airlines Suck

So as I wrote in my last post, my university sucks. The only entity I current associate with, besides the U.S. Government, that now sucks more is Continental Airlines.

Although, I'm not quite sure that's entirely fair. I presume that all airlines are just as money-grubbing and price-gouging as Continental.

So here for posterity: Airlines Suck!

Also: if you have any doubt, even a small paranoid one, that you might not make your flight, book it right before you leave at the higher price.

Wait, what?

Yes, I know this is entirely contrary to everything that travel agents and people with shiny degrees and fat wallets will tell you. However, I'm college educated as well, and not in cahoots with any corporation or scheme to pad my pockets.

I'm just a fellow working-class citizen who got royally fucked.

I booked my flight from Phoenix to Quebec City back in May. With all the fees, my final total was just shy of $900. I felt triumphant, confident that I got the best price.

What I should have done is book a flight with Air Canada, who would have charged me upwards of $2400 for the same flight.


Well, because Air Canada is refundable. Those low, low prices fares you see advertised on the boob tube and shiny websites are low because if you cancel, they slap a huge fee on top of it and then apply a credit towards any flight taken in the next year with that airline, and only if you cancel at least three weeks before your flight. Otherwise, fuck you.

So if you canceled the flight because of financial difficulties, those difficulties aren't going to see an end any time soon. If you don't have any plans to take a trip to the tune of $900 in the next year, say bye-bye to your money.

Note to self: when booking flights, book it right before I leave. Not months in advance. A week before I leave. Paying an extra $100 or so is worth it for the security of knowing that if the unthinkable happens, if my university decides to be an ass and not offer my poor ass the means to educate myself or the person I'm going to see dies or I just simply can't make it, I'm going to be okay.

Besides, a week before I leave somewhere is generally not enough time for life to intervene and cock things up. As I learned today, three months is certainly enough time for the shit to hit the fan, especially if I dare to assume that my pubic university holds itself to the promises it made to me.

In conclusion, I'm having a very bad day.

Financial Aid Fail

So I have about a couple thousand in income a year. Blame being a full-time Philosophy student and an activist. Note to those who are interested: being a good person and learning about Shit That Matters does not pay the bills well. Thus, I live off financial aid, the contributions of my father to my tuition necessitated in my parents' divorce agreement, my scholarship, and my paltry savings from my last stint in the work force. I must also claim my mother's income on my FAFSA. Even when combined with mine, and the contributions of my father, our income is still significantly lower than the average American household, but not low enough that I qualify for anything. Namely, if it wasn't for my academic achievements, I would be completely and utterly fucked.

This summer, I had the bright idea that I should study abroad. Like all "middle-class" white students (I lied, I'm actually working class according to this diagram), I assumed that "seeing the world" was an intrinsic part of the college experience. Also, I'm desperately, and futilely, trying to learn French. The largest party of my heritage is completely (and inbred-ly) French and French-Canadian. My father never bothered to learn French from his fluent mother, or she never bothered to teach him. Learning French was a bit like reclaiming my roots. My entire motivation is hardly that pure, however. I am achingly jealous of my more linguistically talented friends who are fluent in Spanish, Chinese, or Portuguese, German, or Japanese.

Immersing myself in Quebec would be the fastest, and most enjoyable, way to learn French. I would also knock out most of the remaining credits standing between me and my French minor in the process. So, with promises from the International Studies Office that there was a lot of aid available, I made the $350 deposit and started shopping for airfare and applying for aid.

Here I am, about three weeks out from leaving, and I find myself at an impasse. My university, in a remarkable display of intelligence, misappropriated funds the previous year that it now has to pay back to the federal government. Instead of reducing the bloated and overpaid administrative costs, the university decided to hand down the charges to the students by increasing fees and decreasing grants and loans. Marvelous! How disgusting it is that I go to the second largest public university in America, and it still hasn't grasped the fact that it's purpose is to educate my poor ass instead of building second homes in the Foothills for the dean?

So this rad fem will have to cancel her trip. With a combined income of less than $30,000, no scholarships for the summer, and a bill of over $5000, the university "generously" offered me a grand total of $1000 in federal loans for the summer. They obviously expect me to fly to Canada, but live out of a cardboard box, beg for food, and learn magic to make the tuition and program fees disappear. This is the state of our education system!God forbid I enjoy my college years with a little excursion to somewhere besides the hell hole known as Arizona. It's times like these I wish my ancestors had stayed in Europe or Canada where I could actually get some funding for my poor ass.

Now, I won't even get my initial deposit back for some bullshit "administrative" costs. Although, I have found that some offices are remarkably willing to forgive "administrative costs" if you come into their office and make a big stink about the research you did for the university, your impressive academic record, your family's history with the university, name drop, and vaguely hint that you might have a lawyer than you can't afford in reality.

If it wasn't for the fact that I help my mother pay the mortgage, this kind of shit would make me transfer universities, professional ties at mine be damned. If there's one thing I have little patience for it is public institutions swindling me out of money because they misled me about the extent of the costs and failed to mention that they are more interested in paying their own bloated salaries than educating their paying students.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Firefox 3.0

Yeah, I'm going to download Mozilla Firefox 3.0 the day it comes out, June 17. I'm a huge dork. Rumor on the street is that it's more secure, and not so much of a system hog. As someone who's crashed her laptop several with sixty or more tags open, I'm really going to appreciate this. My only hope is that my beloved plug-ins, like the javascript blocking and ass-saving No Script, will be compatible with the upgrade.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Legal Shenanigans: How to Blame That Lying Whore

As a pre-law student and a feminist, the antics of defense attorneys in rape trials is always of particular interest. I've been sitting on these stories for about a week now, formulating my response. Without further ado, a glimpse inside how the American legal system dispenses justice to those lying sluts and the poor slandered men:

1. Ask trick questions

From abyss2hope:

''Did you have sexual intercourse with Mr. Vanderbeek?'' [defense attorney Maureen] Coggins asked the alleged victim. She replied that she had not.

Coggins then asked that the charges be dismissed. Greth denied the motion. Coggins then asked that the alleged victim take the stand again for a clarification. The alleged victim then testified that she had engaged in sexual intercourse, but that it was not consensual.

First of all, rape is not sexual intercourse. I would hope that a defense attorney would be aware of this fact. Doubtless, Coggins was aiming for a dismissal regardless of the answer. If she had said yes, then the term "sexual intercourse" implies consent. When she said no, that implies—falsely and only to someone with no legal training or common sense—that no penetration took place (which is doubly absurd, because many forms of sexual abuse do not require vaginal penetration). The only dismissal that I think would be appropriate in this instance is the dismissal of Coggins from her job.

2. Ban the use of the word "rape"

If I thought that the above was horrible, I was sorely mistaken when I discovered via Jezebel and Shakesville that if you have a vagina, and someone sticks a penis in it without your permission, you are not allowed to call that "rape" in a courtroom lest you bias the poor stupid jurors:

It's the only way Tory Bowen knows to honestly describe what happened to her.

She was raped.

But a judge prohibited her from uttering the word "rape" in front of a jury. The term "sexual assault" also was taboo, and Bowen could not refer to herself as a victim or use the word "assailant" to describe the man who allegedly raped her.

The defendant's presumption of innocence and right to a fair trial trumps Bowen's right of free speech, said the Lincoln, Neb., judge who issued the order.

This boggles the mind. How else are you supposed to describe the crime committed against you on the stand? This kind of shit is akin to an assault case in which the witness is forced to say that he "accepted a fist offered to my face" instead of "the defendant punched me". Witnesses and victims are supposed to testify honestly and completely to the best of their abilities. Banning the use of the only word that describes what happened is absolutely ludicrous, and not only implies that the defendant had consensual sex, but also that the witness is lying. Which brings me to my next point:

3. Force victims to perjure themselves to protect rapists

Using "sexual intercourse" to describe rape is completely inaccurate because it misses an extremely relevant point: the lack of consent. Defense attorneys are not required to use the term "rape", so why are prosecuting attorneys finding that they must use a term that implies no crime took place?

Simple: because in the minds of rape apologist judges, no crime took place. The only crime is that some disgusting whore is out to ruin a poor upstanding boy's life for her shame over giving it up too soon. The best way to make sure that the jurors understand the horrible crime that is being perpetuated against the innocent victim of a liar is to require the "liar" to use a term that implies consent, which then implies that she filed a false report.

Of course, to anyone with half a brain, this method of victim blaming is called perjury and is extremely and blatantly illegal. Like I said above, if defense lawyers and judges are not willing to conduct trials without a working knowledge of the nuances of the English language and the crime they are discussing, they should be disbarred.

4. Load the jury pool

Via The Curvature's coverage of how a defense attorney selected his jurors:

“Would you take into consideration that none of these young women, when they were removed from the situation, called 911?” he asked a potential juror. Parrinello asked other potential jurors if they would consider that there were “no eyewitnesses” and “no DNA” and that none of the alleged victims had gone to the hospital to have what’s called a “rape kit” examination for signs of assault and evidence.

[District attorney] Tantillo, meanwhile, asked potential jurors if they would consider that the girls might have been too scared to immediately report what had happened to them or even confused.

Parrinello later asked the panel of potential jurors: “Does anybody know what’s so confusing about whether or not you’ve been raped?”

Hey, I might be new to this legal game, but I'm pretty certain you can be disbarred for loading the jury in a case against a Muslim with jurors that are blatantly and unashamedly racist. The same principle should, but doesn't, apply to rape trials: you don't load the jury pool with jurors that have ignorant assumptions about rape and rape victims.

5. Question the testimony with medieval assumptions about intercourse and scare the jury

Parrinello is expected to crack away at the alleged victims’ credibility, drawing attention to the fact that three of them had consensual sexual relations with Wido before the alleged attacks. “How do you know any of them said ‘no’?” he said.

The defense attorney pointed out that the women were slow in notifying authorities and said there is no DNA evidence or eyewitnesses, “no credible evidence.” He asked the jury: “Is this a rush to judgment? Is this a slanted prosecution? Is this a Duke lacrosse prosecution?”

A good defense attorney would attempt to prove that the sexual encounter in question was consensual. Parrinello, however, goes for the tried and true, "once consensual, always consensual" tactic. I remain completely unaware of any sort of legal statute that states once I have sex with someone, I am not allowed to withdraw or withhold consent for the rest of my natural life. The assumption Parrinello makes here harkens back to a not-so-distant past in which men owned their wives because they had consummated their marriage. Since marriage is not a precursor to sex today, apparently a man does not have to buy a shiny bobble before he claims ownership over her body forevermore. All he has to do is get her to consent to sex once!

If the jury was not taken in by the throwback reference to the fact that women are property, they must be scared into submission by reference to the Duke lacrosse prosecution. To this day, I am not entirely certain that the Duke lacrosse players were innocent or guilty. As Cara over at The Curvature says, the Duke case has become the new "women are lying whores!" rallying cry. What a reference like this does is circumvent the question of the accused's innocence or guilt. It plays upon the jury's hesitance to wrap their minds around the fact that such a popular, attractive, white athlete could commit such a crime. It also asks, "are you willing to ruin this guy's life just because he probably raped someone?" After all, sports before justice. A man's right to rape and play sports is always more important than a woman's right to say no and seek justice.

6. Just plain harass and verbally abuse the victims

If all of the above fails—which it probably will not—the defense attorney can just become a pedantic asshat to make sure that all rape victims know what awaits them lest they seek justice (via MPN Now):

While the prosecution witness — one of Wido’s three alleged rape victims — was still seated, the argument began, with Parrinello at one point highlighting previous testimony that she had willingly performed a sexual act on Wido in the weeks before the alleged rape — only Parrinello used crude, street language to describe the act, drawing out both Tantillo and the judge, William Kocher.

“What Mr. Parrinello just did was outrageous in the presence of this witness!” Tantillo shouted, calling it “abusive,” “harassing,” and “disgusting.”

Parrinello fired back, “You know that’s what happened — I’m not making it up… I have a right of free speech.”

Parrinello then briskly approached the judge, coming within a few feet of his bench and pointing his finger while defending his actions. A security guard rushed to Parrinello’s side.

“I want him away from me,” Parrinello told the judge of the guard. Then Parrinello pointed at the guard, face to face, and hollered, “You’re not to get near me.”

Parrinello then told the judge: “He’s not going to intimidate me. If he does it again, we’re going to have a big problem: I’ll have him arrested.”

Judge Kocher ordered the defense attorney not to “make such editorial comments” and asked him several times if he understood. Repeatedly, Parrinello told the judge that no, he did not.

Amid the fiery exchange of words, the alleged rape victim began to wipe tears from her eyes, eventually breaking into sobs. The young woman was led out of the courtroom by Sarah Utter, the victim and witness advocate from the D.A.’s office.

The best way to shut those uppity women up is to be a violent loud jerk and reduce her to tears. Threatening judges and guards is also highly effective. Nothing feels better to a woman reliving her rape through testimony than a defense attorney that describes you and the situation as vulgarly as possible, and then lambastes from his arrogant soapbox about his right to be an abusive moron. Which, of course, would be:

7. Defend your antics with the highly ironic appeal to the First Amendment

I hope you caught that bolded passage in the quote above. Parrinello thinks that he has more of a right to the First Amendment than the victim. Oh the appalling irony! Why is it that when I see someone invoke the First Amendment, they are nearly always white men defending their right to be pedantic abusive asshats? I have a shocking idea: how about we use the First Amendment to protect the victims from perjury instead of defending an egomanic defense attorney?

And so, there you have it, the reason why only 16% of rapes are reported to the police, 8% of reported rapes are deemed unfounded (not false, but not prosecutable), less than half of those arrested for rape see trial, 54% of rape trials end in dismissal or acquittal, 21% of convicted rapists never serve time, and 24% of the convicted receive less than 11 months behind bars (statistics from Rochester University).

Considering that only 2-3% of reports are fabricated—a statistic no different from the false reporting rate of other crimes—there is a very large chance, almost an inevitability, that if you rape a woman she won't report it. If she reports it, it probably won't see trial. If it goes to trial, you probably won't get convicted. If you get convicted, you probably won't serve any time at all, or less than 11 months. Which means that in the eyes of the law, a convicted rapist is less guilty than a robber, a burglar, a drug addict, a drug dealer, and anyone who misuses a weapon for whatever reason; all of which receive more time on average than a convicted rapist.

This is how the justice system treats a rape victim: it looks for any and all excuse to discredit her and drag her name through the mud. In the end, if she perseveres, defies the odds, and gets a conviction, she probably could be rubbing elbows with her rapist in less than a year's time.

In this patriarchy, raping a woman is more excusable than stealing a television. Which leads me to conclude that not only has the justice system, by its actions, defined women as property, that they also think of them as particularly useless property at that. Considering that women/property may be raped without much of a fuss from the legal system, I do not think it illogical of me to say that not only does the legal system regard women as property, it also implies by the reality of the extremely low rape conviction that the purpose of a woman is to be abused at will.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Misogyny of Wage Gaps

Today is the 45th anniversary of the Equal Pay Act, which was passed by the late President Kennedy on June 10, 1963. Since then, we've come a long way, but persistent and blatant wage gaps continue to be an issue. I think that my fellow Impersonators, Lindsay and Amelia, have covered the basics far more eloquently than I am capable of without sounding repetitive.

Regardless, wage gaps are a part of a much larger phenomenon than simple misogyny in the workplace. Female work, even if it is the same work that a male can and does do, is consistently undervalued. If a woman does a man's work, she more likely to be underpaid and less likely to be promoted. If a woman does a woman's job—housekeeping, mothering, teaching—she is more likely to see exponential wage gaps, or no monetary compensation at all.

Take any traditionally female-dominated field and it is easy to see how much more undervalued and underpaid the work is compared to traditionally masculine fields. Even underpaid and overworked masculine careers like police officers and firefighters garner more respect than a maid, a nanny, or an elementary school teacher.

Nowhere is this more apparent than the case of the stay-at-home mother. I have nothing for respect for women, such as my mother, who choose to devote all of their waking hours to their children. Regardless, women in America often have to choose between a career and a family. Women that choose to stay home and raise children, arguably the most important job a person can do, labor unpaid to the tune of $117,000 per year. My parents had an ugly divorce when I was fairly young, and one of my father's complaints was that my mother used him as a "free meal ticket". My mother, under appreciated and overworked, labored day and night to raise me and my brother in the manner in which she felt was appropriate. How many other mothers are demeaned for their work? How many others are under-appreciated? Mothers are the backbone of our society, and yet, much scorn is heaped upon the woman who dares to stay home, raise the children and maintain the household, and occasionally shop or do things for herself.

For those that choose to work and have children, or are forced to as single parents or because of financial difficulties, the stereotypical "women's work", such as housekeeping and childcare, still falls disproportionately on our shoulders. This phenomenon was dubbed the "second shift" by Arlie Russell Hochschild in The Second Shift and The Time Bind, where she used peer-reviewed research to show that in two-career couples, men and women usually work equal hours but women still do a disproportional amount of housework.

Imagine the amount of work woman do to uphold this society that goes unappreciated, unpaid, or underpaid. A single mother chasing after her ex-husband for child support is regarded as greedy and should stay out of his wallet (another gem parroted by my father, even today). A single father that works and raises his children by himself is a saint, a real trooper. The double-standard is pervasive, especially when it couples with racism to form the myth of the welfare-queen: poor southern black women who have children for their own selfish gain.

I know that no amount of legislation such as the Fair Pay Act will ever amount to true fair pay unless the persistent devaluing of "women's work" utterly ceases. Our struggle to get paid the same amount for the same work is part of a larger struggle for women everywhere to do what needs doing—whether that is behind a desk, at the stove or both—and be able to support ourselves and our families.

Remember that when we discuss Fair Pay, we are really addressing the systematic and pervasive devaluation of anything a woman chooses to do for the simple fact that she is not a man.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Coldplay- Viva La Vida [Full]

I used to rule the world
Seas would rise when I gave the word
Now in the morning I sweep alone
Sweep the streets I used to own

I used to roll the dice
Feel the fear in my enemy's eyes
Listen as the crowd would sing:
"Now the old king is dead! Long live the king!"

One minute I held the key
Next the walls were closed on me
And I discovered that my castles stand
Upon pillars of salt and pillars of sand

I hear Jerusalem bells a ringing
Roman Cavalry choirs are singing
Be my mirror my sword and shield
My missionaries in a foreign field
For some reason I can't explain
Once you go there was never, never an honest word
That was when I ruled the world

It was the wicked and wild wind
Blew down the doors to let me in.
Shattered windows and the sound of drums
People couldn't believe what I'd become

Revolutionaries wait
For my head on a silver plate
Just a puppet on a lonely string
Oh who would ever want to be king?

I hear Jerusalem bells a ringing
Roman Cavalry choirs are singing
Be my mirror my sword and shield
My missionaries in a foreign field
For some reason I can't explain
I know Saint Peter will call my name
Never an honest word
But that was when I ruled the world

Am I the only one ridiculously excited by the upcoming Coldplay album? I love me some political rock. Plus, the musicality and the metaphorical lyrics of this hugely popular British band make my inner music and English geek very happy. I, for one, will be definitely purchasing the album in full.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Makeup: A Rad Fem's Dilemma

Makeup was my right of passage to womanhood. My parents absolutely refused to let me wear it until I was thirteen, and then only in muted shades and small amounts. Looking at the over-sexualized images of pre-teen girls in the media and my younger brother's yearbook, I can honestly say that I am grateful to my parents. Makeup wouldn't have made me less self-conscious, and would have taken a sizable chunk out of my allowance--and when I was 16, wages.

Now, I do not wear anywhere near as much makeup as I used to at 16, and even 18. Although I am in my 20s, I am often mistaken for a teenager because of my short stature and lack of "smoky sex kitten" makeup; even while bar-hopping I prefer light makeup.

However, my guilt over buying and wearing eye liner, blush, powder, and mascara persists. Am I a bad feminist because I sometimes like how I look with makeup better than au natural? Given that I self-identify as a radical feminist, am I somehow falling sort of the label? Do I invite men to look upon me as an object or sexually available?

I know that people perceive me as stereotypically feminine the more makeup and gendered clothing, like mini-skirts, I wear. More doors are held open (literal, not metaphorical), I am addressed as "honey" instead of "ma'am", and men smile at me more. Although, I never get the respect I want from co-workers and professors no matter how little makeup I wear, or how much. Professors that are enthusiastic about taking my male peers under their wing hesitate to do the same for me and fellow female classmates because we are female. A male professor, and most of mine are male, sponsoring a female student is rare simply because the professors are afraid of the perception that they are sleeping with us, or they simply don't think of us in any sense other than a sexual one. Even in sweatpants and no makeup, my male professors will not invite me to lunch to discuss further the symbolization of Aristotle's classical dilemmas because being female means that I am always potentially a sex object, never a peer or a prodigal student. All of my sponsors in my field have been female. I am lucky that my university employs many female Philosophy professors, because otherwise, I sincerely doubt that I would have had the opportunity to do as much as I have.

This constant perception of being a sex object: am I only fueling it by wearing makeup and gendered clothing? If I'm not dressed up, am I still responsible for the actions of others because of my female mannerisms?

My answer is a resounding no. My choice of clothing and face-paint should not affect my opportunities in life. How much eye shadow I do or do not wear does not affect the poignancy of my thesis. In my ideal world, men and women would wear as little or as much makeup as they please, and it would not affect any situation outside the contexts where makeup and gendered clothing are relevant.

Besides, I am kept at a distance professionally by male superiors regardless of how little makeup I wear or how long my skirt is. Feminism, I think, is about choices. I choose my gender-identity. I like being pretty and female. What I do not like is being patronized, belittled, and sexually objectified in a context in which such attention is entirely inappropriate.

In the same way that "promiscuous" women are responsible for the bad behavior of their male peers, every woman is held responsible for the sexism of their colleagues because of how she dresses or acts. Too frumpy and she is a slacker or a frigid bitch. Too feminine and she is a sex object or a coy flirt. I am always defined in terms of "fuckable" or "not fuckable" every second of the day because women, regardless of how they dress, act, or look, are members of the sex class and thus may be belittled, shamed, over sexualized, and harassed with the justification that anyone with a vagina is simply "asking for it".

My choice to wear makeup is my business. A woman's choice to get breast implants is her business. It should be obvious that the choice to sexualize women out of context and act like sexist dog is precisely that: a choice.

How people attack women who choose to do something perfectly legal that makes her feel good about herself and defend those who choose to be assholes is completely illogical. The phenomenon of blaming the victim saturates every justification of harassment, violence, and injustice that women and even young girls suffer daily.

I say, enough already! If the choices I make are always wrong and the injustice I suffer is always right, then what choice do I have? I choose to please myself, and only myself. Fuck everyone else. I sharpen my eye pencil and apply it to my upper lid because I think I look good when I do. If my best male friend thought he did too, I would let him borrow mine without a sideways glance.

Treating women like objects is also a choice. The idea that it is the fault of the evil female temptress, her gender fallen from grace by the actions of her ancestor in the garden of Eden, is nothing but unadulterated bullshit and should be treated as such.

Monday, June 2, 2008

New Piercings

On an impulse today while out with friends, I decided to get two 16ga helix piercings in my left ear for shits and giggles. I think they look stylin' on me!

I really hope that my piercings will be mostly healed by the end of the month. I would not look forward to traveling with infected ears. Cartilage, why are you such a pain in the ass to heal?

Flickr Mosaic Meme

Lifted shamelessly from Egalantine's Cake.

The concept:

  • Type your answer to each of the questions below into Flickr Search.
  • Using only the first page, pick an image.
  • Copy and paste each of the URLs for the images into fd's mosaic maker.

The Questions:

  1. What is your first name?
  2. What is your favorite food?
  3. What high school did you go to?
  4. What is your favorite color?
  5. Who is your celebrity crush?
  6. Favorite drink?
  7. Dream vacation?
  8. Favorite dessert?
  9. What you want to be when you grow up?
  10. What do you love most in life?
  11. One Word to describe you.
  12. Your flickr name

The Explanation:

  1. Someone named Jen takes nice pictures of bugs
  2. Risotto, and I can cook a mean garlic mushroom one
  3. Apparently my high school shares a name with this curious sculpture
  4. Nothing is prettier than red
  5. Portman is awesome, I forgive her for Star Wars
  6. I want a Mojito right now
  7. French Canada reclaiming my roots and shizznit
  8. Tiramisu, the more the better
  9. Cats are the philosophers I wished I could be
  10. I love books, especially the smell of them
  11. My eccentricity isn't as obvious as awesomely purple hair though
  12. Apparently some blue butterflies are called polyommatus icarus by smart people

Sunday, June 1, 2008

The Elusive Farmers' Market

After my local co-op closed down due to mismanagement, I was forced to go to chains like Whole Foods and AJ's for healthy organic foods. With the price of oil up, my food budget was quickly becoming a bigger part of my monthly expenses than ever before. Although I would really prefer to eat organic, I will settle for local foods to support fair pay, reduce my carbon footprint, and be one less supporter of chain supermarkets. Not only is Whole Foods incredibly overpriced, I have no assurance that what I am purchasing is Fair Trade, and it certainly is not local. While my body might like that I am not pumping chemicals into it, I would certainly like to do more for the energy crisis. Problem is, I had no idea where to find locally grown food after being spoiled by my co-op.

Thanks to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Farmers Market Search, I was able to find quite a few places where I could buy local foods. I suspect that quite a lot of them are hit-or-miss, and probably not as organic as I would like. Regardless, it would be far cheaper, and energy-efficent, to give some of the local markets a shot.

Now all I need to do is find some friends who are willing and able to commit to driving out to one or two with me regularly. It would be entirely counterproductive to shop locally in order to reduce my carbon footprint only to drive there in a big car by myself.