Maybe the ‘older feminists’ don’t know how to click links,
but they sure knew how to “click” brains.

Much bloggy hand-wringing has taken place, focused mainly on calling out Jezebels Slut Machine (Tracie Egan) and Moe for being drunk and making anti-feminist statements in public, while representing one of the internet’s most popular feminist blogs. Some, but not enough, angry verbiage has been directed at Lizz Winstead for her sober-ish attempts to pin the responsibility for rape on women who fuck a lot. I watched the whole interview and can safely say that feminism was not well represented.

People have been calling Moe and Tracie unprofessional, embarrassing, shameful, narcissistic, privileged, drunk, on and on. Its true. Jezebel’s editor apologized for their shitty representation of the site.

Amanda Marcotte, on the other end, offers an apologia that sees “dark”–but essentially feminist– humor in Moe and Tracie’s dismissal of rape, safe sex and women’s oppression.

Personally, I saw nothing funny in the sloshy train wreck of an interview. But there was one thing that I think can be seen as actually feminist; one which points to why internet feminism needs less Vice-magazine- bravado-with-ovaries and more old-fashioned consciousness raising.

See, I recognized one of those drunk “girls” (women?) onstage; the one who is inappropriately working through her rape out loud to friends and strangers, the one who’s been “wasting time” for 10 years, drinking and telling herself and everyone else it was no big deal. I’ve been that girl. Sometimes, I’m still her.

Listening to Moe remember that she said “no” eleven times, and remember that her rapist said he only did it to her because she was a “slut,” recast the earlier “funny” part of the conversation–the part where Lizz asked Moe and Tracie what made a woman a slut. It turned my stomach. I wanted to give Moe a hug and tell her that it wasn’t her fault.

Instead, she got Tracie calling her less-than-smart by implication and Winstead blaming her for not reporting her future-doctor rapist.

But miraculously, Moe got something, somewhere else, and a little bit of feminist consciousness slipped in. After the interview I went back and read this post by Moe, about “grey rape.” In it, she puts on the “no big deal” pose, doesn’t call her rapist a rapist, and doesn’t call her rape a rape. Her commenters and other bloggers point out where she might be wrong.

That on-line feminist intervention seems to have helped. Onstage, Moe called it rape. She got mad. She even names her rapist out loud, but his name is lost in the cross-talk. That’s a big moment. Its a terrifying moment. I’m sorry its a moment that Moe had to share with Tracie and Lizz.

But it is, most importantly, a feminist moment.

Its the beginning of letting go of all the self-hating beliefs that Moe unfortunately expressed in the rest of the interview and is now getting attacked for. Beliefs like “I’m a slut (and thats why I got raped),” beliefs like “I hate the boys club, but I’m not really oppressed,” beliefs like “I didn’t report my rape because I had better things to do–get drunk.”

I didn’t report either. And in Moe’s posts I see myself, and I remember what I used to think. I see myself in her hope that Dr. Douchey Dude “saves” people–as if that would make it “ok” or worth it somehow. I see myself in her search for control; in the way she looks at her decisions in the search for the cause of her rape, in the way that she accepts full responsibility for her decision not to report and thus for any subsequent rapes committed by her rapist.

But I wanted to ask her–and Lizz–“what would have happened if you’d reported it?” Because the truth is, Moe knew then and knows now that what would probably have happened. She probably would have been publicly shamed for being a drunk slut (which is ironically happening to her RIGHT NOW, anyway) and possibly been forced to leave her school. She would have been called crazy or vindictive or a pathetic woman scorned by a “notorious player”. Likely, nothing would have happened to the good doctor.

Realizing that we make choices in limited circumstances–that we are oppressed as women–is difficult. It feels bad to recognize the limits to our individual capacities to control our own lives and bodies. I can see why, for a decade, Moe didn’t want to do that. I know how that feels.

But its the first step to developing a truly feminist outlook, to letting go of the dark “humor,” of the self-blame, and of the internalized misogyny we saw so starkly on display at Thinking and Drinking. Its the first step toward developing the collective strategies that can give us the power we need to stop rape, and all the other forms of violence and discrimination women face. Even if it was ugly, I’m glad it finally happened for one young woman with a powerful public platform.

Congratulations, Moe. You have a powerful weapon in your hands; use it wisely!

*Updated to add*–good work Ann of Feministing, for kicking it old school with your talent for CR-type intervention. You rock.

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Uh…ur doin’ it rong.

Following slowly, and likely unsteadily, on the heels of a few unknown and TV investigatorsnearly-year-old-experiments, everyone’s favorite-to-loathe “drink-soaked former-Trotskyist poinjay”, Hitch, has himself water-boarded.

So, while still completely unoriginal, this time Hitch is at least on the “right” side, and by that I mean the “side that is somewhat opposed to torture.”

That gets him no points with me. First, these supposedly anti-torture demonstrations do much to normalize the practice and make it looks as safe and normal as anything on ‘Fear Factor.”

Second, he couldn’t really do anything to make it all up at this point. This is the same moron who has steadfastly supported the many lies and illegalities of the Bush administration for the last eight years largely on the grounds that these policies, however duplicitous, support and are supported by his deeply racist worldview.

His attempt to take the moral high ground on this issue is repulsive, as his defense of these insane wars and the “clash of civilizations” logic they are rooted in has helped pave the way for secret prisons, torture, shock-and-awe and, yes water-boarding. It seems dishonest. I was hoping he’d finish up the article with a bit about how he tried it and how its not that bad.

Sure, he’d still be lying, but at least he wouldn’t be pretending that the policies hess been advocating for most of the last decade have nothing to do with the horrors he’s now condeming.

But he’s Chrisoher Hitchens; what else did you possibly expect?

Did I mention that he thinks “women aren’t funny?” Reading that essay the first time was like being forced to entertain an aging, rude and hard-of-hearing male relative at an outdoor wedding. I think the face I made while perusing the article must be somewhat like the ones Hitch encounters on women in the real world. Ones that, via the magic of narcissism and confirmation bias, have sadly led him to develop this unfortunate “women aren’t funny” thesis in the first place.

What I’m trying to say is that Htich and I clearly have different ideas of what makes funny.

Hitchens honestly seems to think this latest contribution to Vanity Fair is a probing look into America’s conflicted soul. Whereas the idea itself makes me laugh. “Christopher Hitchens Gets Water-boarded”. Ha! Seriously!

And his constant references to “the enemy” and descriptions of manly heroic soldiers are also a bit giggle- inducing, if they weren’t worrisome; though it is a bit amusing that he is concerned about this one isolated instance of self-torture causing neurological damage.

*UPDATED* to add: I actually find neither alcoholism nor water-boarding funny as general topics. Specifically, I don’t recommend that you watch any of the water-boarding videos all the way through if you are sensitive, as I am. I also don’t recommend that you watch clips of either Hitchens or Amy Winehouse performing live, as these are almost universally sad if they are recent.

The idea of Christopher Hitchens water-boarding himself still makes me laugh, though. I stand by that.

“We didn’t think you’d find out about this! Seriously, what did you expect?”

Meanwhile, the Democrats are my other least favorite political party–Check this shit out. The Democratic Congress secretly approved funding to amp up covert operations against Iran.

Via Democracy Now and my 1st fave.

Victoria Falls

Should the UN intervene?

What about Mbeki’s proposal for a “unity” government led by Mugabe?

Why is South Africa choosing not to participate in meetings with other African nations?

While COSATU is boycotting Zimbabwe, the ANC says the following:

“Any attempts by outside players to impose regime change will merely deepen the crisis.

“It has always been and continues to be the view of our movement that the challenges facing Zimbabwe can only be solved by the Zimbabweans themselves,” the statement said. “Nothing that has happened in the recent months has persuaded us to revise that view.”

This, in truth, strikes me as sensible. Given Mugabe’s vocal condemnation of imperialism, invoked as the justification for every act of violence and repression, and given Tsvangarai’s unabashed advocacy for neoliberal “market solutions,” UN intervention seems likely make things worse.

But can be the same be said of African intervention? It seems unlikely that we will find out.

Instead, “leaving it up to Zimbabweans themselves” means that Mugabe will go ahead with this “election,” opponent-free. Hopefully, the fact that he is the only one running will reduce his need to employ roving bands of thugs to genderate “support.”

In other news on the topic, I cant find a print quote, but WBAI’s Wake Up Call quoted my president, Cynthia McKinney, in a statement on Zimbabwe. Her comment focused on the land question in a way that could be read as implicit support for Mugabe’s campaign of terror and anti-democratic repression. I understand, politically, why that would be her position, but….ew.

While “what next?” remains a swamp of least-worst and worst-worst options, tomorrow I’ll focus a bit on how Zimbabwe got here in the first place.

DLC PDA: “Quick-I’ll find something shiny to throw over a fence while you figure out how you are eventually going to duck that thing about permanent bases in Iraq.”

You can listen here

1) Obama is taking cheap shots to “play against type.” Makes me wonder if running for President constitutes absentee parenthood?

2) Confidential to Ralph: Thank you for running in 2000. You made me excited about my first ever chance to vote in a presidential election. You are the only candidate whom I have ever endorsed for the office of President of the United States of America.

In that spirit of loyalty, I just want to point out to you that in THIS election, John Kerry is NOT running against you. That was last time. I know. It seems recent to me, too.

3) The Progressive Democrats of America, while still seeming to largely miss the point about the Non-progressive Democrats of America, do at at least appear to have a handle on what it is that Kerry is running for this time around. The fact that their acronym is “PDA” never ceases to crack me up.

Fair and Balanced!

Its no secret, or at least should be no surprise, that I do not trust the New York Times. But sometimes they agree with me.

In accordance with the NYT’s aggressive pro-gay-marriage agenda (picture the announcements revenue when we get same-sex nuptuals in New York State!), The Paper of Record has an interesting article arguing that homo relationships are “healthier” on average than straight ones. And by “healthier,” they mean more egalitarian.

Huh.

Thanks for pointing this out!

Trying to help you out, people!

This never gets old:

funny salutatorian speech 2
haiti economy 1
vintage gay 1
go wild wolf facts 1
rape body 1
pictures of u.s. wwii soldiers from ny a 1
ray bradbury 1
“stuff educated black people like” 1
clothing and history

I wonder if she’s already writing it?

Because it is May, and because I once used the word “salutatorian” in a post about how stupid capitalism is, a top search that finds my blog is “what makes a good salutatorian speech?”

Kids, let me just say that I am the last person you should ask. I have never been a salutatorian. I was more the kind of student who screwed around and then sneered at the kids who thought they were smart, but who were obviously actually just working really hard. Because of this retrograde attitude and general lackadaisical approach, I came in 12th, not second, place. For the same reason, I also misspelled “salutatorian” the first time around.

Despite my total lack of credential, I want to offer you some advice on your speech. I may have never been a salutatorian myself, but I did date one. Or maybe he was a valedictorian, I can’t recall. In any case, he was the kind of person who was very smart and who also worked very hard. That is why he is now a doctor, while I remain a doctoral student.

Though my date’s actual rank my have receded into the distant haze of memory, I do recall his speech. He quoted it to me the night we met, in the back of a student ride van between elite liberal arts college campuses. It went like this:

A man goes to a monastery to find enlightenment. The program is that he meditate alone for a year at a time–no speaking, no singing, no human contact.

At the end of each year, the man is permitted exactly one word with the great teacher of the monastery as his only guidance through this intense spiritual task.

At the end of the first year, the man is approached by two monks and led to the top of the mountain where the teacher lives. He is led into the presence of the great man, who looks at him, inviting him to speak. The man says, simply, “The.”

He returns for another year of quiet contemplation. Again, two monks come to take him back to the teacher. This time, the man says “Food.” Then he goes back.

The third time our hero gains an audience with his guru, after 3 full years of arduous spiritual struggle, he looks at the teacher and say “Here,” and then returns to his isolation.

After four years, the now practiced student completes his sentence, relating the insights of his four-year-long meditation practice to the teacher, saying “Sucks!”

Now, I realize this is not an incredibly funny joke. But it is kind of funny as a dig at compulsory education, and I think my friend even managed to get in trouble for this speech. That is, if he even gave this speech. I have no way of knowing, so I can’t say whether using this silly joke as a salutatorian speech will work to earn you the campus-wide recognition that you deserve. But I do have it on good authority that sometime in the future, this speech just might help you get a lazy college freshman into bed on a first date.

Go boldly into the future, runners-up!

Somewhere, some Black people also think this is funny.

Apparently, many white people really like the blog Stuff White People Like. I have been sent the link to Stuff White People Like by aproximately 1,297 white people. They thought I would like it, being a white person and all.

White people like Stuff White People Like for the same reason we like jokes about how white people can’t dance. Because it implies that whiteness is a cute, if inherent and unchangeable foible. We can’t help it! We’re white!

Whats wrong with Stuff White People Like is that it is basically, totally wrong. First, there’s its utterly class-blind approach, a problem which becomes apparent if you are unfortunate enough to peruse Stuff Educated Black People Like.

As a result of this significant lacunae, Stuff White People Like is more or less completely off the mark, obscuring the stuff all white people *actually* like. I’ve begun an incomplete list below:

1. Jokes about how white people can’t dance

2. Police protection

3. The freedom to do lots of drugs without going to prison.

4. Book deals.

Feel free to contribute!

Hope in Days of Silence

April 30, 2008

On this day in 1939, the New York’s World Fair opened with the theme “The World of Tomorrow.” The fair was attended by tens of millions, and was seen as a beacon of hope for internationalism, peace, prosperity and progress.

On this day in history, six years later, Adolf Hitler shot himself in the head in a Berlin bunker, pushing one of the most violent, nastily nationalist periods of history towards closure.

Which might seem like a depressing start to our morning in blog land, yes. But to me its not; its a reminder that history and social life can change very fast and that “the world of tomorrow “can be a very different one than the world of today, in ways that seem totally improbable and unlikely.

Today, I’m specifically holding out hope that our world of tomorrow will be one in which Black American men have no reason to fear random death-by-firing-squad at the hands of “peace” officers, and for a world in which eighth-graders have no reason to fear violent asassinations delivered by their homophobic classmates.

I find it encouraging that I am not the only one who hopes for these things. It appears that 5,000 schools had participation in this years Day of Silence aimed at drawing attention to the harassment and abuse of LGBTQQ students and in honor of Lawrence King.

And while the rally I recently attended in protest of the legal whitewash of Sean Bell’s murder (incidentally, not at all far from the site of the 1939 fair), was disappointingly small, I find it encouraging that this injustice isn’t going unnoticed–not in New York City classrooms, not in discussions at work, not in activist circles and, despite what NPR thinks, not in communities affected by police brutality.

Two reactions to the trial made me hopeful, each for different reasons:

1) Cynthia McKinney’s statement on the verdict does a great job putting Sean Bell’s murder in context, but also linked it to a call for all of us to imagine something different, and better.

2) I heard an announcement from the Queer Justice League of New York City on the radio yesterday, making connections between police harassment of queer people and police violence in communities of color. I looked up their website, and while I really know nothing about this organization, except that they have an awesome name, that also gave me hope.

————————————

Really, its mostly the name that gives me hope. Like this postcard of the 1939 Fair’s Lagoon of Nations, the fantastical super-hero ring of “Queer Justice League” reminds me of the sometimes secret, sometimes shame-faced connections between a hopeful left-wing politics and the realm of utopia, imagination, and fantasy.

Because, of course, behind all my emphasis on hope this morning lies the stark reality that the present moment gives us little to hang our hope hats on. The movements for Black Liberation, Queer Liberation, Women’s Liberations and Workers’ Liberation are at low tide, to put it mildly. The US economy is in a world of shit, and empty rhetorical cover for a right-wing neoliberal agenda is what passes for a politics of “change” around here these days.

That’s why hope requires a different, more imaginative, engagement with the fourth dimension. I’ve previously alluded to the significance of reflection on the past and past hopes. But maintaining–building–hope, much less any communities or movements rooted in it, requires imagining, often detailed imagining of not only the past and the present, but the future as well.

This is what left-wing activists, queer communities and sci-fi geeks sometimes share–imagining a wholly different kind of economy, and/or new and liberating configurations of ‘family’, and sometimes all of the above on a yet-undiscovered planet.

Doing that can make you unpopular, yes. Perhaps it is slightly insane. And uncool. But, I am compelled to argue, its nowhere near as insane and uncool as accepting a total lack of alternatives.