Archive | September, 2009

Quick Hit: Roman Polanski

30 Sep

Agree or disagree: getting a thirteen-year old girl high and violating her multiple times, in spite of her dissent, is the same thing as being arrested for stealing a loaf of bread in 19th century France.

There is a correct answer. You will be judged based on your response. (via Feministe)

Edited because blogger was so angry about the comparison between Polanski and Jean Valjean she forgot to include the hyperlink to said comparison.

Humorless Feminist at the Movies

30 Sep

From the director of Something’s Gotta Give, the 1998 Lindsay Lohan Parent Trap, Father of the Bride I, II and the atrocious Mel Gibson film What Women Want, comes a new romantic comedy starring one of my favorite actors, Meryl Streep. Streep stars opposite Alec Baldwin (the ex-husband) and Steve Martin (random architect – the trailer indicates we don’t need to care about this loser character – he’s just there as a plot device, showing how sad and lonely Meryl Streep’s character is without a man), both of whose characters are vying for the affections of Jane, Streep’s character.

Here’s a link to the trailer for It’s Complicated, which I can’t embed. That’s okay, I’ll just discuss the parts I find relevant.

“Jo, you are so lucky Jerry is dead. You don’t have to bump into him!” – Jane

So, there’s no such thing as a congenial breakup. Either you’re sickeningly in love (as Jane is shown falling for Jake, Baldwin’s character in the trailer), or you can’t stand the sight of each other (the initial reaction Jane shows to Jake). This polarity is totally realistic, and I have no qualms whatsoever endorsing this dualistic point of view. None. Got it? </sarcasm>

And now, a scene with the architect, Adam:

“One tiny note: no ‘His’ and ‘Hers’ things.” – Jane

“And you don’t think in the future, you might want a ‘His?'” – Adam

“Oh my god, now we’re talking code about my life!” – Jane

Great stuff, folks. I mean, without this dialogue, how else would we know how empty Jane’s life is without a…a…man? Remember this now, readers with girly-parts (hoo-has and other accessories, or whatever): your lives don’t amount to a hill of beans in this fucking world if there isn’t a man in your life, using your spare sink and the second towel-rack.

*cut to Jane and Adam laughing, Jake staring in window stalker-like and mock-laughing with them*

Stalking is not sexy. It’s not funny or hot, and it doesn’t lead to perfect romance stories. It’s fucking creepy, and glorifying it in a romantic comedy screws up social notions about acceptable behavior even more. Stalking is an unacceptable behavior, that makes the culture in which we live even more viable for abusers and rapists (as if they need help), and playing it up for teh LOLs is repre-fucking-hensible. Well, now that I’ve got that off my chest, shall we continue unloading the bullshit from this trailer?

“OMG, I thought he’d never leave.” Jake, to Jane, about Adam

Alec Baldwin just used the Internet colloquialism “OMG” like a real word. I’m going to go cry now. (Okay, so that’s not a real objection. I’m just feeling ranty.)

“I’ve never really known how to live without you.” Jake, to Jane.

Warning! Warning! Unhealthy relationship patterns at twelve o’clock! Mayday!

But seriously though, that level of dependency is not something that should happen in healthy romantic relationships. It shows a lack of maturity and self-sufficiency that is highly dangerous to both parties, and reflects the character of Jane as a mother-figure to Jake, rather than a romantic figure. And considering that he’s pursuing her as a romantic figure, the mother-child dynamic that Jake’s neediness brings into the relationship is pretty squicky.

“I’m having an affair…with…a married man.” Jane, to female friends

“You’re not saying?!” Female friend

“Yes, I am!” Jane

*exhuberant, elated screaming from group of friends*

“Turns out, I’m a bit of a slut!” Jane

This part of the trailer leaves a bad taste in my mouth (not to imply that the rest of the trailer doesn’t). Having sex makes you dirty? I do wish someone had told me, because I’ve been having pretty regular sex lately and I’m sure I’m just covered in the sex-filth now. *goes, scours skin* Okay, I’m back. Don’t know if I got it all off me, but that’s the best I can do for now. Anyway, having sex with a married man (Jake left her for the cliched younger woman) is slutty. Because “stealing a man” from someone else is super-evil. It’s, like, being Yoko Ono evil (so evil, you work for peace. Muahaha, my evil plan that we all stop killing each other is succeeding!). Because he was hers first. A person is not fucking property. You shouldn’t own them, sell them, manipulate them like puppets. If a person wants to have sex, it’s not fucking deviant! Sex is not deviant, and placing it as deviant turns sex and romance and all that shit into a fucking game, turns love into a catfight (see also Melissa McEwan). Which is bullshit. The biggest problem I have with the scenario of Jane having sex with Jake is that Jake’s wife probably doesn’t know and could get hurt (but the audience isn’t supposed to care about her, because Jake’s wife is flatter than Adam (Steve Martin’s character, since I haven’t mentioned him in half a post)). So, yeah. Jane is such a slut. For being female. And daring to have sex.

“What about the fact that I’m now the other woman? I’m the one we hate!” – Jane

“He was yours first.” – Jane’s female friend, consolingly

Same shit as above, different candy coating.

Ugh. If I watch this trailer any more, my head might explode, so I’ll wrap up here. Women who have sex are slutty, men who stalk are hawt, architects are nerdy losers, men are the most important things (there’s that word again) in a woman’s girl’s life, and if you don’t buy a ticket to this movie you’re going to die alone with a nonillion cats. And they lived happily ever after! *swoon*

On Birthers, Socialism, Bob Dylan, and the American Way

29 Sep

Bob Dylan’s song “Talkin’ John Birch Paranoid Blues” (lyrics here) gets, I think, into the motivations of those referred to as “birthers.” Those who are going to great lengths to disclaim President Obama’s citizenship, those who want their country back (warning! Link goes to Daily Kos! (it’s still a good article, but I know of many in the ‘sphere who object to their practices)). That all-consuming fear of the ZOMG!Red Menace lurking around every damn corner, leading to carrying guns at town-hall meetings, bears a certain resemblance to becoming so wrapped up in the character in Bob Dylan’s song’s conviction of the socialism of Betsy Ross, the woman who, in popular USian folklore, sewed the first American flag (red stripes and all).

And this shit needs to stop. Calling the president a socialist doesn’t make you insightful, or politically aware, or whatever. It just makes you look like a willfully ignorant fool that doesn’t understand your ass from your elbow. The Declaration of Independence (henceforth referred to as the D0I) signed on July 4, 1776, by representatives from each of the thirteen colonies, an important document in the history of democracy, cites the unalienable right of life to all humans (men in the parlance of the time). While the DoI is not legally binding, it is a part of our philosophical legacy that I believe President Obama is attempting to enforce with his bid for “socialized medicine.” Universal healthcare is not the Red fucking Menace, nor is it the end of the world. From January 1 to September 1 of this year, I was one of the millions of people in the United States without health insurance. I had the  fortune to not need healthcare during that time, and thereby avoided accruing huge debts, but many don’t. Many go through chronic pain, or go to extreme lengths to avoid medical debt (for the love of FSM, click through and read the whole damn thing. Here, I’ll post the link again.) The healthcare system in the United States needs a significant overhaul, and while a good half of the political blogs I read have mentioned this, I’m going to bring the statistics out. Per person, medical expenses are much smaller in countries employing UHC, and yet USians have paltry care in comparison. And yet people are still arguing that welfare programs are sufficient. And yet people are dying because they can’t get access to heathcare. Because it isn’t fucking affordable. And yet, the cultural narrative of decrying “socialism” is continued. God fucking bless us all.

EDIT: If any of the links or the video at the top aren’t working properly, let me know in comments.

I’m Brave, But I’m Chickenshit

23 Sep

Title of post comes from an Alanis Morissette song, “Hand In My Pocket.” I’ll be extensively quoting the lyrics (all emphasis mine) in the post. I’ll also be reading things into them that probably weren’t intended when the song was written. A public service announcement before we get started: beware of rampaging run-on sentences.

This song has been running through my head for weeks, since the first time I heard it, driving down a highway in Idaho. A lot of the songs from Jagged Little Pill speak to me, but not in quite as personal a way as “Hand In My Pocket” does. I think it’s the fact that the lyrics are cynical, yet suggest hope for the future. In a lot of ways, the song operates in a similar way to her song “Ironic,” but “Hand…” is more successful for me.

I’m broke but I’m happy
I’m poor but I’m kind
I’m short but I’m healthy, yeah
I’m high but I’m grounded
I’m sane but I’m overwhelmed
I’m lost but I’m hopeful baby

This summer…damn near broke me. The shit I’ve been avoiding blogging about – my mom selling her house and then moving across the country, while I have to live in the house and act as caretaker for insurance purposes; the thirty-year old house trying to fall apart on me; workload-heavy classes I needed to pass get a degree by the end of this semester; the lack of Internet, which resulted in a loss of social network; no creative outlet, as I couldn’t afford art supplies; the deepening depression and desire to be in physical pain rather than emotional. Wishing I could swap the two, feeling completely without agency, sapped of energy.

What it all comes down to
Is that everything’s gonna be fine fine fine
I’ve got one hand in my pocket
And the other one is giving a high five

For me, high fives are a highly (heh) insincere celebratory gesture. They’re like the “I’m fine” thing I say when people ask how I’ve been. I know they want to hear that. They don’t want to hear the “niema spills her guts all over the internet pavement and fails to clean up the eviscera” version I gave above. It’s not that they don’t care. Really. It’s just, we don’t want to know that shit isn’t “fine fine fine” with people we feel we ought to be closer to and why don’t we see them more often and gee I miss talking to hir but I’m glad zie’s doing alright it was nice talking to you I guess we’ll see each other around but if we don’t it’s not such a big deal good luck with everything bye.

I feel drunk but I’m sober
I’m young and I’m underpaid
I’m tired but I’m working, yeah

Story of my fucking life.

I care but I’m worthless
I’m here but I’m really gone
I’m wrong and I’m sorry baby

That lack of agency thing I mentioned earlier? Yeah, THAT. In so many ways, I’m just floating around in purgatory (I hate using such a deeply religious term, but can’t think how else to put it) waiting for the next thing to happen. A lot of the time I’m not even paying attention, living shallowly. Paycheck to paycheck, day by day, class by class, waiting for that fucking associate’s degree. Sometimes I buy groceries. Sometimes I don’t. I scrape by, but not without getting scratches from the rough concrete walls closing in. And then I apologize to the walls for getting in their way.

What it all comes down to
Is that everything’s gonna be quite alright
I’ve got one hand in my pocket
And the other one is flicking a cigarette

Getting rid of the useless shit. Realizing it’s piling up, like so much cigarette ash. Is there respite?

What it all comes down to
Is that I haven’t got it all figured out just yet
I’ve got one hand in my pocket
And the other one is giving the peace sign

I can’t figure this shit out yet. How do I take on the responsibilities formerly under the control of a woman almost 3x my age, far more experienced at handling basic household dysfunction? How do I do this relating to people thing?  Maintain my tenuous grip on the events in my life? Fuck if I know, I want PEACE. For myself, for those I care deeply for, for everyone.

Its easy if you try.

It's easy if you try.

I’m free but I’m focused
I’m green but I’m wise
I’m shy but I’m friendly baby
I’m sad but I’m laughing
I’m brave but I’m chicken shit

I’m sick but I’m pretty baby

I’ve taken a lover. My lover knows I blog, but not the URL. I haven’t sent a link. I’m…scared to. And I’m scared to admit that I’m scared to. What is this fear? Coming off as “too feminist?” I mean, we talk about politics and society and religion and I tend to use the word “misogyny” when I talk about that and my lover’s seen me naked and knows what my armpits look like (which, while unshaven hair doesn’t indicate feminism, it usually denotes a conscious decision to deviate from the social norm and is stereotypically applied to feminists). In other words, the feminism doesn’t necessarily need to be spoken, as it’s practically tattooed on my forehead. Am I afraid of being “too sensitive” or “politically correct?” Is that the root? I started this blog with the intention of keeping it away from my “real self” (and if that’s not a loaded concept!) – the part of me known by my government name. I didn’t want to deal with the shit that comes from being openly anti-oppressive, anti-kyriarchical. I wanted the ability to back down if shit got tricky to negotiate, to not have to confront people about the systematic oppression their actions and words enable. I didn’t want to be the humourless feminist unable to enjoy fat jokes or trans jokes or “worse than a woman” jokes; I didn’t want to be the person who ruined the mood for the people who were just being social. I am scared shitless of alienating people I love because I still feel that way, and I feel like a hypocrite for it. As Alanis says, I haven’t got it figured out just yet – if you do, can you help me find the balance?

And what it all boils down to
Is that no one’s really got it figured out just yet
I’ve got one hand in my pocket
And the other one is playing the piano

Oh.

What it all comes down to my friends
Is that everything’s just fine fine fine
I’ve got one hand in my pocket
And the other one is hailing a taxicab

Is fine. Not gonna be. But “is.” That’s some powerful hope. A hope of escape – taking action to get out of the situation causing the despair and insecurities and self-loathing. A return to agency.

On Living In Polite Society

17 Sep

As you see a grown-ass woman traversing your college campus/rapidly walking somewhere/ignoring your existence, do not call her “sweetie.” Especially don’t repeat it over and over until she is forced to stop in her tracks and give you death glares. And then don’t tell her, “Never mind, thought you were a teacher.” Especially if you don’t know this woman person. For all you know, she might be in a bad mood because she had an in-class essay test that morning, had trouble finding a parking spot (even though this hypothetical person arrived half an hour early to study for this hypothetical exam), couldn’t get coffee because the lines would have made her late to class (again, half an hour before classes started), and whose hand may have been cramping from said in-class essay, due to the speed it would be necessary to write such an essay and sufficiently address the topic.

That is all. *sips coffee*

P.S. Do not call a fucking teacher “sweetie” either.