12 December 2007

Wherein my head explodes and I have to crawl back into bed

An Iowa Republican has introduced a bill that would legislate the importance of Christmas.

As Space Cowboy says, if Christianity and Christmas are so all important to a majority of people in the world, why do we need the reminder? Do we really need Congress to acknowledge that Christianity is one of the great religions of the world? Maybe I could make some heads explode by reminding people that Christmas does not necessarily fall on Jesus' birthday, and that our Christmas traditions are derived from the pagan celebration of Saturnalia in an attempt to allow early Christians to celebrate their faith free of persecution. You know, back when Christians were actually persecuted.

As an atheist, I have every reason to believe people like myself are persecuted every day. However, I'm not whining to Congress to get atheism recognized through legislation, although that doesn't seem like a bad idea at this point.

11 December 2007

A bad week to be female

This week brings to my attention two horrific stories about brutal gang rape. Have a barf-bag ready.

First up, a judge in Australia has ruled that a 10-year-old aboriginal girl "probably agreed" to have sex with the nine men who brutally gang raped her. No punishment for the rapists. And she's standing by her decision. You know, just to show everyone that women can be misogynists, too! Honestly, I don't see how anyone with a shred of intelligence and/or empathy could possibly come to the conclusion that a 10-year-old could possibly know what was going on in a situation like group sex. This was not group sex, this was a gang rape. Men don't "have sex" with little girls; they rape them. I'm sure some relativists would argue that Australian aboriginal culture is vastly different from Western culture and that we have no business going in and telling them how to live life. And for the most part, I agree. Until people start getting hurt, such as the case with female genital mutilation. There are absolutes in this world, people. And little girls should not be getting raped just because their culture condones it. It still isn't right.

Next, Jamie Leigh Jones was working for KBR in Iraq when she was drugged, then gang raped and assaulted by her coworkers. If that weren't brutal enough, KBR (yup, that KBR) locked her up in a shipping crate, denied her medical care, and told her that if she said anything that she would lose her job. She finally convinced a guard to lend his cell phone so she could call her father back in Texas, who set in motion the rescue of Jones by the US Embassy. What really gets me is that the prosecutor (I know, I know, he's the good guy, but still) in this case claims that KBR had fostered a "boys will be boys" atmosphere that allowed the rape to happen. My problem is, why do we still chuckle and shrug our shoulders whenever someone uses the phrase "boys will be boys" in these situations? How about "boys will be sociopaths" or "boys will be criminals", which is much closer to the truth? But clearly, KBR had created an atmosphere of lawlessness and misogyny, which, when mixed in with the violence of war and occupation, created a perfect storm to allow this to happen.

Just goes to show you that womens' bodies are still acceptable cannon fodder in the war for dominance.

I weep for these two.

06 December 2007

More Like "Puke" Presents

So, there's this new trend called "push presents" that I learned about via Jezebel. Basically, a man gives his baby-mama an expensive piece of jewelry for birthing "his" child.

Gag me with a spoon.

I understand that the idea behind this is that the father doesn't have to go through nine months of weight gain, bodily distortion, stomach problems, incontinence, swollen hands and feet, mood swings, blah blah blah, so he shows his appreciation by throwing an expensive bauble into the mix. First off, women who don't want to bear children shouldn't be doing it, and second, isn't it a little stupid to spend money on jewelry when you're going to have expensive medical bills followed by the huge expense of raising a child?

Here's my idea of an awesome "push present" (and really, who thought up that godawful term?): how about the baby-daddy support you during pregnancy by not drinking, eating healthy, taking up some slack around the house while you're miserable. And then after the baby comes, take an equal share in childcare? That would be so much better than a damn ring.

02 December 2007

Enjoy the Silence? Please?

I'm really late getting to this Salon post, but I've been out of town and I'm just now getting caught up on my blog reading. Having a cold allows you to catch up on your reading. The article came at a very appropriate time of year: the holiday season. The article is about a movement in Britain, called No Music Day. As the graphic will show you, for one day no music is played, and we forget how pervasive background music has become in our everyday lives.

I am a music lover. I've played piano, cello, violin. I've been a classical ballet dancer, which requires a certain musical ear and appreciation. I love all types of music, and can even appreciate the art in tunes I don't particularly like. I am a music lover. But at this time of year the music that fills out everyday lives starts to make me a little stabby.

I used to love Christmas music, even though I'm not a religious person. To me, they used to symbolize an exciting time of year filled with friends, family, homecomings, good food, and gift-giving. The first time I'd hear a holiday tune in a store or on the radio, my heart jumped a bit at the anticipation of the holidays, that it was finally here. Then one Christmas after college I worked part time in retail to make some extra money. And I now have a strong aversion to holiday music. Working eight hour days listening to the same hour-long loop of Christmas music started making me a bit delirious. At night, while trying to fall asleep, I couldn't get the music out of my head. As I approached the shop for my shifts, I could hear the music wafting out of the front doors, and I would fill with dread.

Now, everywhere I go, I hear that dreadful noise, and it just puts me in a bad mood. I realize that this is a personal issue, but I've also noticed that just about everyone I know feels the same. Christmas music is no longer special or exciting, it's almost a hassle you must put up with for the last two (3? 4? Do I hear 6?) months of the year. I guess I'm just a scrooge. But this is something that needs to be examined more closely. In the name of consumerism, we have cheapened one of humanity's greatest artforms: music.

30 November 2007

Thoughts on Reconstructive Surgery After Mastectomy

I've written before about my experience with a breast tumor, having it removed, and specifically telling the surgeon that I did NOT want reconstruction on my breast other than a tidy scar.* I'm really very small chested, 32A, and while my adolescence and early twenties were difficult, I've come to appreciate my itty bitty titties. So, when faced with the terror of possible cancer, I just wanted it out of me as soon as possible. Some friends thought it was silly of me not to get implants, because I would be knocked out anyway, spread out on a table with my boob cut open. Honestly, I didn't want to live life with big boobs. I'd worked so hard to accept my IBTs that I didn't want to throw it away. Not to mention that my recovery from a lumpectomy would be difficult enough without bags of saltwater sloshing around.

Following the Twisty Faster philosophy, I have since found myself disapproving of women who have reconstruction after a mastectomy. If I were to find myself getting a mastectomy, I probably wouldn't get reconstruction. I feel like women place too much importance on breasts because the patriarchy tells them that their value is wrapped up in their fuckability. People are so offended by boobless women because they force people to think about women as human beings who have feelings, struggles, illnesses, and probably a lot of other qualities we can't gather just by looking. I'm reminded of the movie "Pieces of April" where the mother, who is suffering through chemotherapy after a mastectomy, shows the senile grandmother a picture of her topless after her surgery, which was taken by the son. The grandmother is disgusted at the photo, which the mother treasures because it was taken by her son and quite beautifully done. The mother was proud of her son's talent and love, and the grandmother was just disgusted that she would put her booblessness on display.

I thought that women should be proud of mastectomy scars, and that they should show them so that people weren't so shocked to see a boobless woman. But today, reading Amanda's post about an article on the Details blog, I read a comment by Mnemosyne that really made me reconsider:
If you’d had, say, your ear removed because of cancer, no one would think it was bizarre for you to want to have something that at least vaguely resembled what had been there. But breasts have been so sexualized that some people have gone too far the other way and declared that replacing a missing body part is bowing to the patriarchy.
You know, she's right. If it were any other part of my body, I would most likely want reconstruction. If I lost my nose, or my lips, I'd want to have them rebuilt. If I had a giant chunk of flesh taken out of my body because of melanoma, I'd want to have reconstruction. So why was I so critical of breast reconstruction? I think this is what happens when body parts are sexualized -- we rebel against this sexualization by denying them existence. Is this a rational response? I don't know. I applaud the women who protest bans on toplessness by going topless, just to prove to people that breasts are not sexual by nature, but have been sexualized by our culture. We have internalized the sexuality of breasts so much that we even joke about babies loving the boobs.** What we forget is that babies love the boobs because they are the natural food source, not because they're pretty. It all boils down to the fact that sexualizing body parts is harmful to everyone and should never be taken lightly.

*My father, always the joker, was sitting by my bed as I was coming out of anesthesia. The first thing he said to me was, "Wow, they made your boobs huge!" Not. Funny. But so typical of my father's sense of humor.

**I'm really thinking of those stupid "Look Who's Talking" movies, which I refuse to link to. Talk about reinforcing gender norms!

08 November 2007

Lifestyles of the Rich and Pathetic

Via Jessica, this New York Times story was not fit to read over lunch, but I did anyway. Big mistake. *burp*

Summary: Really wealthy people with powerful careers hire a woman to plan their lifestyles. Clothes, social activities, living quarters, even friends. All of her clients are men, she's had only one female client, and it sounds like she only got help finding a place to live. Quite honestly, getting help finding a place to live is not such a bad idea, especially if you're new in town. And double especially if it's New York City, but I digress.
Most of Ms. Storr’s clients are single and too preoccupied with work to organize their personal lives, she says.
Isn't your personal life a pretty important part of the rest of your life? Aren't you missing out on a lot when you have someone else plan it for you? Are these people just so socially inept that they can't deal with social stuff and have to hire someone to make it a little easier?

Not really. Money quote:
He calls her an outsourced wife. “The nice thing is that when I ask her to do something, she gets it done and there’s no negative feelings."

In other words, he'd love to be able to boss around his wife, but that uppity bitch gets in his face, so now he pays someone to let him boss her around. Got it. I once dated a guy who used to bitch about all the things he had to do for himself (pick up drycleaning, grocery shopping, post office, regular daily stuff) and say that he needed a wife. When I corrected him and told him that what he really wanted was a personal assistant, he came right back and said he'd rather have a wife. Because they're basically free, and you can fuck them after a long day of bossing them around. I dumped him a few days later. I can't believe it took me so long.

At the end of the piece, we see that one of her clients is still lost:
Mr. Peik looked pleased but slightly out of his element, as if observing a diorama of his New York life and trying to figure out where he fit in. “It’s been a really fun night,” he said. “It didn’t feel forced and didn’t seem like we were the reason for Allison having a party.”
Really? Did he say that with a straight face? Here comes my chicken salad on rye . . .

01 November 2007

Is Bell's Palsy a Feminist Issue?

Hearing recently that Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! has Bell's Palsy, I was pleased to see her write about her experience in Alternet. Her story is very matter of fact, like much of her writing and other commentary, and I am proud to be in such good company. The story also had me asking an important question: Is Bell's Palsy a feminist issue?

After last week's post about the woman who wrote to Cary Tennis asking why she deserved Bell's, I've been thinking about it a lot. (A flare up in my residual spasming contributed a little, too.) So I've been talking to friends about it, and they have all said that they are amazed at my will to keep living my life as normally as I could through the worst of it. To which I have to answer, "Why would I stop living my life as normally as I could? Isn't that what we are supposed to do during a non-life threatening illness?"

One friend really brought it home for me. She said that it would devastate her, even though she saw me in the worst of my paralysis and didn't think I looked all that bad. But she feels uncomfortable leaving her house if her hair looks bad, or if she has a zit, or if she feels fat; how could she possibly brave the world with half of her face seemingly sliding off? For me, it was a no-brainer. My life couldn't wait for me to get over what was essentially a cosmetic condition. (Of course, that caught up with me when my facial muscles started to burn with pain and my ear became inflamed. There is a reason that the doctor tells you to rest!)

So, are we pushing women too far toward perfection? Are we too judgmental of imperfect women? Even my father will make insulting comments about women on TV who have a crooked tooth, asymmetrical eyes, or a big nose. I feel like my Bell's Palsy was a chance for me to face the world and force people to value me based on my personality, my intellect, all that stuff that really counts. I also realized that some people, complete strangers, were offended by my imposing my lopsided face on them. I got some of the rudest "Smile, dammit" comments I'd ever received. It all reinforced the idea that women are still considered decorative in our culture, as objects to be gazed upon, as if I were required to perform for men at all times. And I simply could not do that with Bell's Palsy.

I hope that most people with Bell's Palsy would take it as much in stride as possible, like I did. Unfortunately, after the Salon letter last week, I know that is not the case, and that there are women who are devastated by what is basically a temporary paralysis that is never life threatening. Vibrant women should not let facial paralysis cause emotional paralysis. I hope that someday, women will not be put under impossible pressure to maintain impossible beauty, and that they will embrace the flaws that life has given them. After all, my smile will always be wonky now, and my right eye will always close when I saw certain words. Such is Bell's Palsy, and I refuse to hide under a rock just to make people more comfortable.

Bell's Palsy Sufferers of the World, Unite and Take Over! ;-,

26 October 2007

PTA Butt Sex?

So, over at Jezebel, they have their usual "Crap [Something] From a Dude" and today it's an eBay listing. But in the comments, there are actually two discussions going on:
  1. PTA bake sales
  2. Surprise anal sex
It's just unbelievably awesome.

Friday Cat Blogging--Forbidden Love Edition

"Oh, painted flower box, nobody must know about our love. I shall kiss you and caress you, mwah mwah mwah!"

And speaking of crazy cat ladies, I am totally addicted to this site: http://www.omgkitty.com/

How can you not fall in love with that face? Is it wrong to be so in love with a cat I've never met? I need therapy.

25 October 2007

Xmas comes earlier every year, doesn't it?

In honor of the War on Christmas, take a listen to Zuzu's adaptation of The Twelve Days of Christmas.

And speaking of the War on Christmas, according to Wonkette, WorldNutDaily claims it has already begun. Fine. So be it.

I have a theory on why there are so many suicides around the holidays. It's because people get sick and tired of Xmas! Seriously, folks, there are commercials on the radio and decorations in the stores already, and it isn't even Halloween yet. I know that I start to get a little antsy after a couple of months of carols and Santa. Oy.

Really? This again?

So Mike Huckabee has trotted out the tired claim that because women have so many abortions, we have to import illegal immigrants to do jobs we don't have enough people to do. Right. He's apparently been hanging out with Tom Delay.

Any time this argument comes up, I wonder how many illegal immigrants the speaker has employed either directly or indirectly. And I'm sure that Mike would be more than willing to take that field picking job away from an immigrant. Way to conflate arguments.

My Itty Bitty Titties

So, yesterday I wrote about how vain some people can be in the case of illness. I still stand by what I wrote, by the way. In fact, I feel compelled to write a post specifically about "reconstructive surgery" after mastectomy.

I've got itty bitty titties. 34A's, to be generous. At no point in my life have I ever contemplated implants, although I have been less secure than I am now in my womanliness because I lacked giant mammary protuberances. I've always scoffed at women who got implants because it was like they were putting a Band-Aid on a lost limb. They never thought about why they were doing it, and were always surprised when the world didn't magically turn into a perpetually sunshiney place. Well, duh. I could be rather smug about the love of my itty bitties, in fact, and I probably put a lot of people off.

One thing that has always bothered me, however, is the utter lack of unpadded bras in my size. I probably don't need a bra, but in my professional life I don't want to risk anything. But just try to find a bra with an A cup that isn't padded. There ain't any. So, I buy the padded ones. And try to have a sense of humor about the Nerf balls strapped to my chest. Apparently, someone out there, probably a man, assumes that women with itty bitties doesn't want to have itty bitties and would naturally want a padded bra. Okay, that's completely silly, but it's not the end of my world.

Where I get insulted is when women have reconstructive surgery after mastectomy. Nowadays, it's a given that women will have reconstruction when they have a mastectomy. From what I've heard, it's damn hard to convince your surgeon that you don't want implants, because, hey, why wouldn't you? If I came to the point where I needed a mastectomy, it would suck, surely. Physical rehabilitation must be a total bitch, and recovery has to be a hundred times worse than what I went through with my lumpectomy. But come on! You're not dead! Celebrate it!

Many women feel like they will lose their womanhood with their breast(s). Really? So, the fact that I have (basically) no breasts to begin with makes me a non-woman? Seriously? I have 20 years of menstruation in my past that would beg to differ, thank you. I'd never really thought about this until my surgery. I'd always loved my boobicles, because they didn't prevent me from moving freely, they were comfortable, and most of all, they were healthy. When I realized that they weren't healthy, I started to hate them. At least the one with the lump. My good friends, who I'd watched grow up, had betrayed me and tried to kill me. I was pissed.

But then I had my surgery, and follow up exams proved that I was cancer-free with no need for radiation or chemo treatment. Wahoo! So I can't understand how a woman going through such a life-threatening situation could be so focused on such a trivial part of her personhood. Honestly, before my surgery, I was all, "Hack those fuckers off! I don't care! Hack 'em off!" I don't identify by my boobicles. No woman should. As Twisty proves, you are still powerful without them, and you can still change the world.

24 October 2007

Suffering from Bell's Palsy

I know I haven't written in a long time, but I've been kind of wrapped up in other things and not very motivated to write. But I saw something in Salon that really sparked me. I've been out of town for the past week at conferences, so I'm really late to this, but this letter writer who has Bell's Palsy is absolutely flipping her shit. She doesn't want to leave the house. She's trying to figure out what she did wrong to deserve such a horrible fucking tragedy. She's wondering if the universe is giving her a message.

Oy. It really pissed me off, so I was happy to go to the letters section to see how other people felt. I'm bummed that comments are closed, because I would have given her a lopsided mouthful! The letter is just dripping with arrogance and privilege. Bell's Palsy sucks, big time, but it isn't the end of the world. There's excruciating pain, it's hard to eat or drink anything, your eyes hurt like hell, people make rude comments and you make babies cry.

It seems like this person is most concerned about the last two symptoms. Here's what I say: Fuck it. If someone is so offended by the sight of your slightly contorted face, then they have a real problem and I feel sorry for them, because they must go through life getting offended by everything. And I make babies cry anyway, so I don't even know if my Bell's made it worse or if it was just my charm.

If she were upset over the pain and inconvenience, then I could sympathize. But even as I was suffering my intense pain from Bell's, I never felt sorry for myself. (Well, maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration.) Other people felt VERY sorry for me, like my mother, and all I could say was, "At least it's temporary. It's not killing me. Get over it!"

I'm reminded of my brush with boobicle cancer. I had a lump, I had a mammogram, doctor told me it needed to come out, and I was under the knife the following week. Everyone felt so sorry for me, wondering how I would manage with a mutilated titty that would most certainly be unattractive to possible suitors, and going through a divorce and all I didn't want to feel unattractive, did I? Again, oy. The surgery sucked, big time. I couldn't move my right arm for a long time. I still have stabbing pain in my boob, especially in cold weather. I had to wear a binder type bra while I was healing. And yes, I have a scar. But I'm not ashamed of it in the least. It's a sign of my present health, which I may not have right now had I not gotten that scar.

That's what I don't understand about women who get breast implants after a mastectomy. I've had really small boobs all my life, so having a mastectomy wouldn't really affect me aesthetically. (Physically, pain wise and ability wise, is another story. It's an incredibly difficult procedure to recover from.) So it kind of pisses me off when women in life-threatening circumstances still have the ability to decide that they don't want to live like me, flat-chested and happy.

This has turned into a long rant. Maybe it will get me blogging again. But things like this just really spark my fire. People just aren't grateful for what they have and need to wallow in self-pity, and I have no patience for it. Bell's Palsy girl: leave your house, grow a sack, and get a life! You're going to be a mother soon! Don't pass your neuroses to your child!


21 July 2007


As if I needed another reason to be terrified of College Republicans, this has been making the rounds:

I know people like this. They seem to be too afraid of an original thought that they just parrot the party line. This video reminds me of something I noticed around 1998-99, while I was finishing college. After spending 4 years (shut it, I was on the 5 year plan!) in classes where formal and informal debate was encouraged, I was shocked to see that professors started to shut down discussion because of a few belligerent students.

Folks, these are the Republicans of today. They do not engage in debate, but rather shout down anyone with a different idea with ignorant catch phrases, not thinking about what they're really saying.

One look at those bumper stickers at the beginning is all you need to know.

Friday Cat Blogging Vintage Edition

I know, it's Saturday, get off my ass! Today's pic is of Miles a few years ago, back when we lived in Tampa. It's still one of my favorite pictures of him.