Monday, July 30, 2012

Late to the Lana fan club

I'm very late to the Lana Del Rey fan club. The only things I knew about her were the phoney backstory, the plastic surgery and the embarrassing SNL appearance (what she seemed like she was on quaaludes or something? I didn't even see it). ANYHOO I'm not sure what made me finally listen to the album, I think my sister told me she runs to it and then I saw the beauty tutorial on xojane (linked below)....well, I love her now.

I like skillful presentation. I think it's an important of being a pop star, maybe one of the most important parts. I really admire the cohesiveness of her whole look, plus the videos, plus the music is amazing. It makes me wonder what other pop music is out there that I would like.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Hate to see the haughty grovel, or, KStew + RPattz for NEVER???

Of course I hate myself for using the paparazzi endorsed nicknames, what do you take me for?

I always kind of loved how this couple greeted the press/media/paparazzi with what seemed like naked scorn. I'm not even being sarcastic, I don't think this woman can act AT ALL, him I have no idea but I just like the way they seemed to kind of bite the hand that feeds them in the press. Man, talk about bitchface. And there's a whole tumblr about just that!

I say she can't act because I SAW her, not acting, in the Snow White film for which I had high hopes. It was aesthetically beautiful (and Charlize Theron was awesome as always--looking terrifyingly like Madonna at times), yes, beautiful but BORING. Also, while I couldn't sit through the Twilight movies at home, I did happily watch Breaking Dawn in the theatre and totally enjoyed it. Her acting is best described as leaden and there are about a million problematic things in the movie (a pervasive pro-life thing, a strangely unexplored domestic violence situation--she winds up battered after her losing her virginity to vampire Edward; completely weird).

And I don't care about this cheating story really, except to note how deeply unfortunate it would be to have to play out the vagaries of relationship strife under hot klieg lights, not that I have any sympathy for celebrities stalked by the press either. But like I say, I noticed this couple mostly because they seem to hate the press and it struck me a little funny (haha).

So how gross was it that Kristen gave this weepy PUBLIC statement, I can't even imagine why she would think she had to do that, I guess an army of 'handlers' tell these twits when to move their bowels.

The good news is the 'scorned wife' is taking the high road, on twitter, where we do these things.

Too bad for them and too bad for us, that their dirty laundry is flapping in the collective breeze....
And I do hate to see the haughty grovel.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

We're still talking about women "having it all"?

Kind of seems like not having kids is having a moment or something. I hadn't seen the original piece in the Atlantic "Why Women Still Can't Have it All" until after seeing the response piece on Jezebel. 

I guess it depends on what having it all means to you. I think most people just want to be happy, but even on that score it seems like not having kids wins out (according to the stats on the Jezebel piece). And I've talked to lots of parents who say that there is a huge tradeoff of leisure etc (the etc might mean 'being happy day to day'?), but that the pleasure of childrearing are intense. I'm sure that's true. My own father has told me many times that he thinks the point of living is to have kids--and for sure that level of hyperbole has made me a little skeptical. Almost sounds a little 'silk purse sow's ear' or perhaps he's trying to sell me something.

And hey, Dolly agrees with the no kids option! And since she is my spirit animal, she's probably on to something.

Jessica Valenti, who's written other things I've liked, has a book coming out in the fall: Why Have Kids? 

As much as I hate when people refer to their pets as 'fur babies' (barf), it all kind of makes me appreciate these knuckleheads.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Bitchface: Stop telling me to smile

I, like many, have a case of chronic bitchface. I guess it's epidemic these days. In my face I was born scowling and looking bored, and it's probably compounded over time as I accumulate exposure to general stupidity, evil, avarice, and all the other dwarfs (sorry, I meant deadly sins). Bitchface serves me well, I'm not aware I'm even doing it. Unaware, that is, until some helpful man helps reorient me to reality by making the patronizing/good natured suggestion that I should "Smile sweetheart! It may not happen!". My preferred reply would be "It IS happening!", but I sense that's not part of the script. Anyone with bitchface will probably attest, they are encouraged regularly, by well meaning men (and always men) to smile. 
Just smile and smile, like a fool, while the world turns to ashes, because you are a woman, and everyone hates an angry woman.
Part of the rub, for me, is that I'm generally not sad, angry or even unhappy. Most of the time I am actually thinking. Perhaps this is part of the problem? If I can't muster the common decency to arrange my mouth in a more pleasing configuration, clearly I need reminding. To what end would I reassure them that I am happy, content, lost in thought? How much of an idiot would I have to be to respond in kind, with a sunny smile at the behest of some complete stranger who has decided, quite literally, that he doesn't like my face. Can you imagine telling a male stranger to smile for you? How insane and actually how funny it would be? And yet how many of the bitchface sisterhood have had to peacefully endure being endlessly entreated to smile, smile and.....just SMILE goddamnit!

The good news is, I can still turn it around, by letting the sun come out in the form of an insincere smile.
It's not quite street harassment--it's so well meaning! Nonetheless it has always angered me, to be told by a male stranger to smile. I'm not a performer. I'm not here to reassure you with a vapid grin that "IT"s not going to happen.

I remember in high school a good friend of mine told me I have an 'intelligent face'. He said something like, 'you know with a face like that, you're no dummy'. And I kind of know what he means. I choose to think he meant a certain depth in the eyes, a determined set to the mouth, a quiet vigilance of the world. What he probably meant was BITCHFACE.

Would it improve matters if I politely assured these well meaning dudes that I am very content, happy even; that my unsmiling face is thoughtful, and that sometimes even when I appear dead in the eyes I am brimming with good cheer and (gasp) sometimes even goodwill towards others? No, not at all. Because this dude does not give a FUCK why how I feel. You've missed the point, he cares how he feels, and until all the women are smiling, he's not feeling too great.

Sometimes I will catch a glimpse of myself and realize that I do, indeed appear pissed off. The best explanation I can come up with for this is that it is evolutionary--I have learned through many years of hard experience, that it doesn't pay to look too approachable or cheerful, if you're a woman in the public sphere. Especially if you are alone. In addition to being a bitchface, I have another affliction, which is my aversion to talking to strange men in public when I am alone. I do not wish to be chatted up at the grocery store, to make small talk on public transportation. Bitchface, an ever present book and a set of earphones are my arsenal and insurance against any strangers looking to shoot the breeze with me. But I shouldn't really say 'strangers' when what I am specifically reacting to is 'strange tail'. Yes, loose men endlessly scanning the faces of women, assessing who is feminine, friendly or fuckable. I'm not using my bitchface arsenal to repel anyone else really, not children, not the elderly, not other women (who have never commented on my lack of a smile), and not dudes who aren't scared of books and bitchfaces.

These afficianados of the feminine smile don't much like seeing you with a book either. The combination of a book and a neutral face can be quite alarming to some, particularly if that unsmiling bookworm happens to have a vagina too! The term 'bitchface' might be considered negative by some. Not me, I like it. In truth the evolution of the face is simple, it's a face in repose, a thoughtful face, a reading, writing or relaxing face. Sometimes, in the public sphere though, make no mistake, it is a bitchface. Bitchface is, for me, and I suspect many women, insurance against public annoyance in the form of unwanted (usually male) attention. Who the hell wants to chit chat with that dour faced, humourless lady? Well, turns out there are lots of them, but first they all want you to smile!

So come on ladies! SMILE! Chances are your face won't break, it won't happen, and you might just make someone a little happier, because that is now your responsibility!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

What Books Are On Our Nightstands? Plus, Show Us Yours! What Books Are On Our Nightstands? Plus, Show Us Yours! – The Frisky

What Books Are On Our Nightstands? Plus, Show Us Yours! What Books Are On Our Nightstands? Plus, Show Us Yours! – The Frisky

feminism and other things that don't communicate anything on twitter

Did you know there are still women who don't identify as feminist? I was following one on twitter.

I really don't mean to call anyone out (at all) but I do find this tweet funny. Feminists keep their opinions in women's knickers because EVERYONE has their fucking opinions in women's knickers, every institution including but not limited to the government at every level, every religion, educational institutions, the military industrial complex, medicine/psychiatric hospitals and health care systems, capitalism, social class, art and culture and every other fucking thing under the sun, is concerned with getting their opinions into women's knickers.

I imagine the tweet was offhand but what does it mean?

She goes on to say feminists should stop getting 'hysterical' over advertising--too dumb to comment on (sorry). Anyone who looks at advertising and doesn't feel a little hysterical sometimes, might be a dumdum.

The nature of twitter is that people post things all the time that you might think are stupid. And the stupidest thing of all is to tweet back. Like I sometimes do.  Whatever, I'm human (despite what everyone thinks haha).
To twitter spar with this lady is to come unprepared, she informed me that there are far scarier things facing women than brilliant, pro-active women...blah blah read it yourself. Notice I hadn't said that women who don't identify as feminist are the scariest thing--merely scary. I'd still like to know why these brilliant and proactive women ditched the term and why they think it communicates nothing. 

I guess I understand where these women might be coming from (well not really...)--I'm postulating that it has something to do with thinking the major battles of feminism were won; or that we must have evolved past feminism to something broader and more inclusive, say 'humanism'.  

Because I still think it communicates a whole lot. Third wave feminism (and fourth and beyond) have grown and changed. There is more focus on intersectionality (race, class, capitalism, trans-people, genderqueer issues, the military industrial complex) and on human rights abuses of all kinds. To incorporate such radical notions as specesism. The idea that there is something inherently wrong with exploiting any other sentient being for any reason. Women who are associating the term with man hating or bra burning are way, way outdated. Even if you still identified with the movement from in those terms, there is still a huge gender pay gap, there is still a huge gap of women in power, there is an enormous burden of every kind of abuse under the sun, borne by women. 

The good news is, other smart people are thinking about this:

And I stumbled on this Tumblr account which I think is pretty awesome:

library love

“If you go home with somebody, and they don't have books, don't fuck 'em!” 

― John Waters

Can you imagine if someone came up with the idea an idea for a public library in this day and age? The concept of a book brain trust, open to all, with materials that can be brought home for weeks at a time? Doesn't it sound positively communist?
My whole family is library crazy. To this day some of my best kid memories are my dad dragging us kids to every library in a 20 mile radius of our suburban home. Libraries weren't a quick in and out, grab a book affair, they could be a whole morning, a whole afternoon. You could, and were expected to, lose hours browsing around. I had a library card from the time I was about 5 years old.
As the years went by, my relationship to the library waxed in high school when I would hold court in the school library with fellow nerd pals, when I realized they had fashion magazines, then VHS movies (often effed beyond use), and it waned when I started earning money and took great pleasure in curating my own weirdo library at home (in my fledgling attempts to organize the current collection I realized I now have need for sections of books on subjects like celebrity biography, groupie memoir, fat/body positivity books! a whole section of books by John Waters!); it waxed again in the 90s when I suddenly remembered the library. Despite the fact I was doing a master's degree in nursing, I had forgotten that the library was once a trusted friend, a refuge even. Getting a new NYPL card from the huge branch on 5th avenue was incredibly exciting to me. It STILL excites me to go to the library! I still feel so lucky that I get to take out whatever i want! The fact that you can reserve holds, they'll CALL you when the book comes in, still seems incredibly luxurious to me. Someone will notify me when a cool book comes in, I can borrow it for free??
I love that the library is the real melting pot in the urban landscape. You have moms with little kids, people surfing the internet, old people puttering around, homeless bros whiling the day away--all in almost perfect quiet. It's heaven.

Recently a neighbour saw me with a stack of books, library bound. She commented in horror about the hygiene of shared books (always with the "who knows where it's been?"---who cares??!?) OF course I was compelled to reply that I like to read the gossip magazines int he bathtub. Disgusting!! My sister has a friend who won't allow her kids to go to the library because of fear of germs. Children's Aid might not agree, but to me that borders on abuse--to deprive your kids the fun of the library is crazy to me. Love of reading should be the goal if you want your kids to achieve in school, hell, in life. Books are incredibly important to me. When I go into someone's house and see they only have a few, or the ones they have are arranged by colour or something--I make some unpleasant character judgements.

These are not books for reading, they are books for looking at on the shelf. A crime against books! No, I want the jumble of the library. Arrangement by topic is desirable (sadly a platonic ideal in my home where the books are strictly arranged by 'read' and 'unread'.)

There was a cool series in the New Yorker about people's home book collections:

So what do our shelves say about us. That we are messy, curious, prefer nonfiction, are aspirational. But mostly messy. 

This shelf is supposed to be the culled collection; it's a mess. Needs another culling badly. I think part of the reason it's stayed as is is due to the fact that last time we got rid of books we delusionally decided to sell them to a local place. The thing is no matter how awesome your collection is (did I mention I love all my books?), it's not worth your time, effort, gas etc to try to get them sold. They're essentially worthless. 

Out of respect for the written word I need to get these organized. 

 This shelving unit was bought so we'd have somewhere to put new books, but it got filled the day it was assembled. Again, needs to be organized badly.

These are all my books TO BE READ. There is everything from Charlaine Harris (I hate myself for reading these shitty, shitty books but am somehow compelled....), and a couple from the Twilight series that I intend to look at. I saw them at the Goodwill and figured I'd see how loathsome they are. Now that I put it that way maybe I'll redonate them. I did get through the first Hunger Games book and it was so goddamn boring I couldn't believe it.
So those are the shame books.

I absolutely love to see people's book collections. When there is none, I get nervous.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Sinead O'Connor with MC Lyte - I Want Your Hands on Me

I guess I was 16 or so when this came out. It still looks radical to me to see a bald female pop star with no appreciable makeup and breasts hidden under an oversized motorcycle jacket. I remember buying the same jacket in London and hiding it from my parents which seems funny now because when they finally saw it they loved it....this makes me a bit sad to think there aren't many women in the top 40 these days who look like anything outside the gender binary. Plus this introduced me to MC Lyte who I loved also.

"Steinbeck in leather": Bruce Springsteen - Born In The U.S.A.

Another amazing song that got co-opted by the Reagan administration who didn't realize it was a lament for American values and totally critical of war and the "American way of life". It is a really sad song, only a total bonehead would misinterpret the intent of it.
Springsteen was totally anti-lipsync (and anti MTV really), so they had to film multiple shows over multiple nights and splice it so it appeared to be from a single performance.

Bruce Springsteen - Dancing In The Dark
hard not to revisit stuff when you're reading this MTV book....I love Springsteen though. Amazing lyricist, intelligent songwriter, I like everything about him. Evidently came late and begrudgingly to the video era although this one changed the landscape a little and made concert footage cool. Of course Courtney Cox was an actress but it's still pretty charming overall....

The Real Life Holly Hobby

The Real Life Holly Hobby


Monday, July 16, 2012

lifestyle blogs are reality tv

Better Homes & Bloggers | Bitch Media

I read the above article when it came out in Bitch a few months ago. I follow a couple of lifestyle bloggers, mainly:

So I guess I have a begrudging admiration for these types of things.....and I admit that a couple of them I do 'hate read' because there is something I find loathsome about the content (I won't single them out).
I look at this stuff as eye candy/escapism, the same way I would read women's fashion magazines (which I've always loved). But I still can't help but wonder what it must be like to be INSIDE one of these lives.

I wish there were a few that looked more like my life, with dog hair, fucked up gardens, houses that are slightly falling apart due to lack of time, money and energy to make fixes; worlds populated by clutter, by humans who are messy and homes that aren't curated. A lot of these blogs seem to exist in another world where there is never a hair out of place, DIY projects never go wrong, there is always limitless time to attend gatherings of beautiful people who appear colour coordinated, styled and prop-managed. I often wonder how the parents pull it off, like "Honey, put the gift back, now let your eyes SHINE as you pull it out", or "Wait hope back into bed now that the sheets look clean and we'll get that perfect towheaded mussed morning shot", and "Honey, can you get a shot of my perfectly manicured feet against the gleaming hardwood floor, let's do it pigeon-toed so I look cuter...." FUCKING UGH!!!!

Do people go around snapping photos of every single thing they encounter? I have seen food blogs that had the opposite effect, with terrible photography that, while unappetizing was at least a little reassuring. Not all vegans eat beautifully plated and photogenic food off of matching handmade pottery?

I imagine it's more that lifestyle bloggers are visual people who, if they do work outside the blog, do creative/design/artistic work, and have effortlessly honed their eye to be attuned to these things. And likely their lives are curated a bit better than mine (which wouldn't be too tough).

So I'll keep reading. But I'm not kidding myself, some of these lives are entirely fictional, mocked up from really nice pictures. And certainly no reason to feel inadequate in any way.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Billy Squier "Rock Me Tonite".....Worst Video of all Time?

I'm reading a great book. I Want my MTV: The Uncensored Story of the Music VIdeo Revolution by Craig Marks + Rob Tannenbaum.

I heard about it on a podcast I love, "How Was Your Week?" by Julie Klausner who is probably one of the few people who can make me laugh out loud, alone, while running.

Anyway it's a great book, from the inception of MTV, the back door deals, and just the gestalt of the thing, how it changed the industry etc etc. It's also an oral history, which I love. Oral histories are the best, from Edie by Jean Stein + George Plimpton, to Please Kill Me (Legs McNeil + Gillian McCain) and all Studs Terkels's work.

There is a whole chapter dedicated to the video that many call The Worst Ever, credited with jettisoning a singing career and disgracing everyone associated with it. I'd never heard of it although the song is familiar. I figured it would be funny-ish but it's fucking hilarious.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Feminism, Speciesism and my little Doom's "spay"

Bear with me I have to ruminate on my dog's spay. They call it a spay but if she were human we'd call it a 'total abdominal hysterectomy with bilateral oophrectomy'. She had a general anaesthetic and I gather some pain relieve post procedure, but since then (Monday), nothing. I asked the staff about pain medication and they said they prefer them to feel some pain so they don't overextend themselves. I guess that makes sense. It didn't make me feel any better though when she screamed while trying to get up on a bench, or climb stairs, position herself on the sofa or really do anything, that first day. I do know that my 4 yo dog didn't have the same pain response, or didn't express it that way.
I guess dogs are like people, with a certain level of sedation they get either dopey and, well, sedate; or they get a little agitated. Poor Doom was the latter.

But getting this done reminded me of how sometimes when you ask people what gender their dog is they'll say something like "well he used to be a boy/girl"--the implication being that the spay/neuter procedure erased the gender. And I think that's fucked up!

I just finished reading a great book called 'Living Dolls' by a UK author Natasha Walter. It's sort of generally about a backlash of sexism as manifested partially in this kind of body fascism that encourages and rewards women for looking like dolls.
She goes into detail about this, plus other stuff about how the trend of de-gendered toys in the 1970s that was a legacy of second wave feminism is kind of done and over. Now it seems that gender roles are even more rigidly circumscribed.

The last part of the book she talks about how research into gender differences is one of the best-funded types of non-pharmaceutical type research (ie; research that a drug company isn't banking on to make them billions of $). And goes on to explore why, who's invested in scientific evidence to demonstrate that women and men are difference physiologically and psychologically. She talks about how studies demonstrating how women/girls prefer pink and men/boys prefer blue; or studies that attempt to show women's superior language skills, men's superior math aptitude etc etc are continually reported on whereas studies that disprove these differences (even if these studies are bigger, more scientifically sound/replicate-able etc) are more ignored. So when you see a headline that says "SCIENCE PROVES WOMEN PREFER PINK'--it's worthwhile to examine what the sample size was, whether the study is published in a peer reviewed journal, and if it's ever been replicated. Basically she's saying that science (and western culture) is very invested in perpetuating ideas of gender differences. It's a little like eugenics I guess.

But getting back to Doom, it made me think about how gender is completely ignored in animals! I mean I can't imagine me getting a hysterectomy etc and then claiming that I'm a neuter, or genderless, because my 'plumbing' is gone. But for animals not only do we think there is CLEARLY no difference between a female and a male dog, but the procedure of removing reproductive organs is coded as erasing that gender completely. It's so stupid. I mean, either it's important, or it's not. I guess part of it is that we live in a culture that devalues animals outright, and part of it is that we live in a patriarchy that has a great deal invested in maintaining the status quo.

Anyhoo, it made me think again about feminism and speciesism, and how both are fucked up and fucking wrong.

Monday, July 9, 2012

you won't have a nervous breakdown, but you just might feel a WHOOLE lot better!

Out damned spot

We have a house guest at the moment. It was such a relief for her to get here because it meant I could stop neurotically cleaning.

I kept thinking of every inevitability of what the visit might entail. I imagined her throwing something away in the kitchen and noticing the dirt under the sink, which necessitated me getting on all fours to clean the space under the kitchen sink. I thought of her walking into the basement to do laundry and wound up vacuuming the entire space. Suddenly I was acutely aware of the fact that we have NO matching drinking glasses, no matching mugs, and all the cutlery is different. I have cloth napkins, but no two the same. When I mentioned it to my sister she called me bourgeois. The old me, of two weeks ago, would agree.  She was a little taken aback, and actually said "that's not like you!" I think she means it's not like me to care what someone else thinks. This is usually true. Since when have I ever pretended to be Holly Homemaker? Worrying about the grime on the bottom of the blender can really suck the joy out of cooking!

I must say emphatically I was not raised this way. My mom was a second wave feminist who got the message loud and clear that unpaid domestic labour was no way to spend your time. It was kind of a joke in our family. As soon as we were old enough we did our own laundry, cleaned our own rooms, did dishes, washed floors--everything. Part of the point of having kids, right? And my mom had 4 of us. That's a lot of mess, a lot of thankless work. I still remember she had a screed against homemaking taped to a cabinet, something like “I will not spend hours doing what a toddler with a plate of crackers can undo in 3 seconds”.  The house was never spic and span, and nobody cared.

Another horrible side of cleaning for guests is anxiety about which home decor choices might be cause for visitor alarm--the innumerable artistic odes to black metal? The black dahlia 'living dead doll' in her place of honour in the kitchen? The handmade Manson family that I created for my partner's birthday years ago? The poster of a knife slashing through a bible with the quote 'This is the enemy'? The watercolour of me and my partner drawn as Chucky and Tiffany from the Child's Play films with the quote "Friends to the End" written in 'blood'? It's a cornucopia for the eyes. The problem is trying to figure out what would offend a visitor. Maybe nothing, maybe all of it. My sister once told me she had her own concerns trying to edit her apartment for a visiting date--"I tried getting rid of the books I thought made me look weird, then I gave up. I realized I didn't know what was weird anymore, and was probably getting rid of the wrong things".

Cleaning for family is a similar anxiety. The avalanche of mailing envelopes that occupy the back room, the hundreds of beer bottles we're saving for homebrew, everything starts to look insane. And what impression am I trying to give? Sanity, above all; possibly hygiene, good taste will be impossible under the circumstances.

I was reminded of a passage in the book 'The Philosophy of Andy Warhol' where he records a conversation with Brigid Berlin that's basically a long monologue about her cleaning routine, on speed. It’s a 25 page ramble about the minutiae of cleaning.  I read the book first as a teenager and the passage always stuck with me for some reason. I could totally relate. I find cleaning a little overwhelming because even when you try to just do a little, it because impossibly complex. You clean a smudge on the wall and then you have a clean patch that necessitates doing the entire wall. Or you go to dust the bookshelves and then get waylaid for 4 hours alphabetizing everything, or organizing by subject, then realize the records and DVDs need the same treatment. Where does it all end?  It’s totally relatable—you start with the counter and realize the cupboards now look gross. You open the cupboards and enter another circle of hell as the inside of those is now a problem. On it goes, until you’re vacuuming pencil shavings out of the junk drawer. Except I'm not on speed! Which explains why it takes me so damn long and why I find it so tedious and soul depleting.

But when a guest is coming, particularly a female relative of your partner, it all becomes more fraught. It’s not just about hygiene, it’s about an image of hygiene. I don’t think anyone would assume I’m the cleanest person alive, with my friends and family the cat is out of the bag. Not so for my partner’s mom or aunt—they have no idea that brown scum is the norm in our shower—and they must never find out the truth. Why? I don’t know why. I’m sure a good therapist could help tease it out for me. I don’t have time now though, I need to go vacuum the crawlspace in the basement.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

adultolescents + snowplow parenting

I read this piece in the last New Yorker and was so relieved someone has articulated what I'm observing!
Another article on xojane about being an "adultolescent" isn't nearly as good, and I think insofar as the author was responding to the New Yorker piece, it didn't really succeed on that level. But then I've been saying for years that I live like an adolescent, and I don't really see the problem with it. I guess the difference is I have resources and I'm not sponging off my parents. And actually I've earned my own money since I was 12 and my own living since I was 22 (ie; completely supporting myself); so I guess there isn't really any shame in this prolonged adolescence.
I'm not holding myself up as an example but the family I was raised in definitely valued EARNING A LIVING, and it was pretty clear to me that without the skills to do so, I was going to be fucked.

Getting back to the New Yorker piece, I really liked it, she kind of reviews 3 books at once that all pertain to changing patterns of parenting and implications for kids growing up. Which are huge. I can't imagine having a grown kid living with me, I think that would have to be really difficult for everyone. I lived with my parents for about a month when I first returned from the US to work in Toronto, and in that one month I nearly lost my mind. I remember there were low flying helicopters shining lights into the backyards in suburban north Scarborough, looking for some fucking night crawling rapist. And I had just returned to Toronto from NY where I felt completely safe walking around alone at 3am, because there are just always PEOPLE everywhere, to this crazy klieg lights in the yard and rapist on the loose stuff, and truly felt unsafe walking from the busstop to my parents' house, because it was always so DARK and desolate, and I have an active imagination....

Anyway, I do worry when I see peers parenting in this overly solicitous manner where kids get to make choices about everything they do, wear, make, eat, when to go to bed etc; and there don't seem to be any consequences (are consequences just too fucking TIRING?) I don't know. I was in a clothing store today and there was a mom with a 4 or so year old, who was lying on the floor, kicking garments on a rack and screaming like a banshee, and this woman was calmly trying to explain to him that "When you're older, you'll realize that it's pretty silly to lie on the floor....." etc etc. Eventually the kid jumped up and began tearing around the store, looking absolutely enraged, before getting tangled in something and falling down. All I could think was I would DIE of embarrassment if that were my kid. Easy for me to say. Whatever, maybe it's not time for shopping when your 4 year old is gearing up for meltdown.

The NY article has a funny thing about 'helicopter parenting' where the parent I guess hovers around to ensure the child is coping etc etc, and then coined the term 'snowplow parenting' for a newer style where the parent tries to shove any and all obstacles out of their kids way.

Well, I'm not a breeder so I guess I can't say anything (because not having kids makes your powers of observation weaker I guess).

Cher - If I Could Turn Back Time [Official Music Video] [HQ]

i have always really loved cher. my sister saw her shopping in galerie lafayette in paris the year before last and said she looked rad. FUCK YEAH! oh cher. i feel like all these pop music cupcakes should watch this video on repeat and learn how to strut around like a queen.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The sanctity of queer spaces, or, how many lesbians does it take to neutralize straight privilege?

The recent piece I had in xojane turned out to be a huge learning experience for me. The commenters online were split positive and negative (maybe not evenly, I tend to remember the negative comments a bit better). I had to stop myself from trying to respond to all the comments because I do feel really invested in being understood on the issue. And I don’t like to think I had offended anyone. I had taken the precaution of sending the piece to the friends in question, and their feedback was really kind.
Far from being angry or feeling betrayed in any way, two of them actually pre-emptively apologized for their role in any unpleasant feelings on my end. I told them both the same thing, the piece I had submitted was a bit lighter in tone than what got published. The message and meaning weren’t changed in any way (the editor there is amazing, and an amazing writer), but there was a subtle difference. There were more details about context but also the ending was quite different, I confessed my desire to be a ‘Golden Girl’ (not a euphemism, I’m referring to Dorothy, Rose, Blanche and Sophia), and kind of said, if that’s gay, so be it. Regardless, these two friends both expressed that they didn’t mean to disrespect my sexuality but rather to express their acceptance of me.
I do think that in our culture, any affinity or preference for things labelled ‘feminist’ or womanist are often coded gay. I guess that’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it can be an inconvenient or annoying thing.
Yet another friend reflected that living in Toronto is such a unique experience in terms of ‘gay acceptance’ that we really can’t put ourselves into another context adequately. Meaning that the comments the article got regarding ‘queer spaces’ were largely not applicable to this circumstance.
But it did get me thinking a lot about queer spaces. In one comment a woman said that queer spaces may not be obvious, and mentioned hanging out with 3 dykes in someone’s home. It did make me think of a really well attended craft night I had last year where about 20 women showed up, at least a third of them were gay. But it kind of begs the question of how a queer space would evolve organically, and how a straight woman is supposed to navigate that space. Are we advocating segregation? How many queer people are needed to drive out one straight person? It just seems a bit ludicrous.
There was a really good article in the latest Bitch magazine **** about queer spaces. The point was made that the sanctity of the spaces needs to be preserved so that queer people have safe spaces to go to. Which I agree with completely. Everyone needs safe spaces to be themselves, whatever that looks like. Again, I feel I’ve always been aware of this stuff, even when I couldn’t articulate it. Many years ago, on the rare occasion I would go to a gay club, I would purposely NOT go to a lesbian club, because I’m not a lesbian, and I would not want to mislead anyone. There is no question of me creating ambiguity in order to embarrass anyone.
It was Pride last weekend in Toronto. I haven’t gone to pride in many years. On occasion, in the past I would go with friends. Since the xojane piece came out, I’ve been assured that Pride is not considered a safe space, or even a queer space. It seems to be more of a celebration of diversity. But I went out for a beer with a straight female friend last week, and in discussing the article, the fallout, and then Pride, she told me she was volunteering in the beer garden at the 519 as a bartender. Now, I will confess, even I find that a little odd. This woman has a male partner, and to my knowledge does not identify as queer in any sense. She said a lesbian friend had recruited her. Surely the job of bartending in the beer garden would be an amazing one for a lesbian who wanted to be flirted with all day, not for a straight girl. In a way I think it’s funny that I got myself into ANY hot water about queer spaces when I haven’t even done anything as ludicrous as this volunteer bartender gig. I mean, come on!
Further to the foolishness last week , another lesbian friend had invited me to a feminist reading group being held at the Toronto Women’s Bookstore. We looked at the attendee list together on facebook, the majority were lesbian as per my knowledge or my friend’s. And given the negative reaction from the piece in xojane, I decided not to participate. It strikes me as exactly what I was talking about, that I’m now feeling like I would be an outsider if I were to join a reading group labelled ‘Feminist’.
I did learn that you really can’t, ever, comment on a subculture from outside that subculture. It just doesn’t fly. And I guess that will have to be okay for me.