Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Domestic Dispute My Ass! When 3 Family Members Are Killed by Another Family Member It's DOMESTIC VIOLENCE.

Jennifer Hudson's mother, Darnell Donerson, was not arguing with her son-in-law, William Balfour, over taking out the trash. They didn't have a screaming match over who finished the milk and put the empty carton back in the fridge. Darnell Donerson, Jason Hudson, and Julian King were not victims of a domestic dispute. They were shot to death. Darnell Donerson, Jason Hudson, and Julian King are victims of DOMESTIC VIOLENCE. That is of course if the shooter/perpetrator/abuser was in fact the main suspect in the case, William Balfour.

Mr. Balfour (Julian's step-father, Jason's brother-in-law, Darnell's son-in-law), has convictions for attempted murder, carjacking and possession of a stolen motor vehicle, according to the Illinois Department of Corrections. The Huffington Post reports that "Hudson's mother and brother had thrown him out of their Englewood house in the past." It goes on to state this very important bit of information: "Julia Hudson also told police that Balfour had threatened the family. A source said Balfour told Julia Hudson he would kill her if he found out she had a boyfriend, despite the fact that he had other girlfriends." (Emphasis Mine)

Why, with all of this knowledge, is the media and those involved in the case still cowering away from calling the murders what they suspect them to be, an act of: DOMESTIC VIOLENCE? Superintendent Jody Weis, of the Chicago police, literally said that "the murders and the child’s disappearance seemed to be part of a domestic dispute." I know that no convictions have been made, but if they're going to speculate, how hard is it to to replace DISPUTE with VIOLENCE.

Now for a trip over to Dictionary.com. I hate to be that writer, but in this case since we are debating (or disputing if you will) what words really mean, I think it's necessary. Here's a list of definitions for the word "dispute:"

1. to engage in argument or debate.
2. to argue vehemently; wrangle or quarrel.
3. to argue or debate about; discuss.
4. to argue against; call in question: to dispute a proposal.
5. to quarrel or fight about; contest.
6. to strive against; oppose: to dispute an advance of troops.
7. a debate, controversy, or difference of opinion.
8. a wrangling argument; quarrel.

Skipping on over to the V's we find the word "violence:"

1. swift and intense force: the violence of a storm.
2. rough or injurious physical force, action, or treatment: to die by violence.
3. an unjust or unwarranted exertion of force or power, as against rights or laws: to take over a government by violence.
4. a violent act or proceeding.
5. rough or immoderate vehemence, as of feeling or language: the violence of his hatred.
6. damage through distortion or unwarranted alteration: to do editorial violence to a text.

Paying particular attention to entry #2, "rough or injurious physical force, action, or treatment: to die by violence," I think I have made my point.

If the police think that this abhorrent crime was committed by a family member, thus
using the word "domestic," can't they concede that since the Hudson family was shot to death in their own home, the correct word to describe the crime is in fact "VIOLENCE" not "dispute."

The Hudson family did not argue, quarrel, or debate with suspect,
William Balfour, they were allegedly MURDERED by him. This is a suspected case of DOMESTIC VIOLENCE, not a suspected case of a domestic dispute.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Scenes From a Pseudo Nouveau Punk Show

If it wasn't the meat head behind me shouting "Bad Religion is better...YOU wish you were Bad Religion," then it was the high school first timer on the other side bending over and pushing her sweaty ass into my friend and I every time the crowd swayed into her. Or maybe it was the shaggy haired 17 year old with his flip-flop wearin' tiny entitled girlfriend who started calling my other friend (who is twice his size) a "faggot" in between sets. Really it could have been any number of annoyingly unnecessary altercations, or peer jeers that made me want to leave the Baltimore NoFX show even before they played "Sticken' in My Eye." Actually, by the time Fat Mike stopped encouraging a 10 year old audience member to fist his teacher and got to telling me about his closest friend, linoleum, a quick punch to the back of my neck solidified this: I am done with the entire scene.

Well, fuck me then, right? It's a punk show, and a decade ago a younger Jason Segal entertained me for the first time with the idea that, "mayhem and punk shows...it's like peas and carrots." I know that. I'm down with mayhem. I've craved mayhem, and I've created mayhem. But, last night, as I set my empty water cup on the ground, just as another cup from someone behind me sailed over my head, it seemed mayhem and me are just going in different directions right now. It's becoming clear that our goals are different and honestly, we're really just growing apart.

After all these years, am I really left standing, wondering what changed? The scene or me?

What is this? Some stale bullshit realization about being too old for punk rawk? The same bullshit realization that the main character in the above film comes to? Or the same one that millions of songs from this genre write about? Well, fuck. It sure as hell is. Hey, if punk is dead, then realizing you're too old for it is even deader. So how come this sentiment is more ancient than Chuck Taylor? Because at some point everyone, even Fat Mike (there's a reason they play clubs big enough to have that 5 foot barricaded off space between us and them), gets sick of being punched by teenagers. Not to mention being over that grody-to-the-maxx feeling when that fat sweaty, shirtless, skinhead slips past you on his way outta the pit. People's limits are different, and while I enjoyed watching the kids throwing elbows last night, I haven't been interested in doing it myself since I broke my finger at a 2003 Rancid show. And up until the few punches, asshole remarks, and beer spillage that amounted to last nights show, I still enjoyed standing off to the side screaming along with the band. NoFX may be over 40 and doing just fine, but shit, only weeks before turning 25 I'm too tired, and ouchy to do this much longer...

Fuck it...I've totally got tickets for Bouncing Souls and Strike Anywhere next week.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Joe Biden = Swoontastic

Before you get your vote on in 11 days, be sure to watch this piece highlighting the groundbreaking strides Joe Biden has made for victims and survivors of domestic violence and abuse. This 6 minute video lets one woman tell her story and her voice echoes the millions of women in this country who are now safe because of The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) or who will find safety through it. 1 out of 4 women report being victims of interpersonal violence, this number is absurd and unconscionable. If elected, the Obama/Biden administration is one that will fight for the eradication of violence against women and girls guaranteed.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

I Don't Want To Live In My Own Shit and Garbage So I Like to Pay My Taxes

I've stopped my head from spinning right off my shoulders for the first time in like two weeks just long enough to say...WTF? Since when is paying your taxes a bad thing?!

Taxes Pay For:
*Public Education (including after school programs, sports, extra curriculars)
*Police, Fire Department, Hospitals, Ambulances (any type of emergency response team)
*Garbage Removal Service
*Water Treatment
*Energy (aka keeping your power on)
*Road Repairs, Street Cleaning, Snow/Ice Removal
*Crime Prevention Programs
*Parks and Recreation Programs (including little leagues, public pools, ice skating rinks)
*Public Transportation (including buses, light rails, metros, subways)
*Social Programs (including Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault helplines, counseling, and safe housing)

and much much more!

Taxes are based on the idea of "ability to pay," we can't all just pay full price for what we use because no one person on their own could afford all the things that they use on a daily basis. Examples of this are things that are free or provided at a low cost like school, waste management, or turning on your television. Then there are things that not everyone uses, but everyone pays for with the idea that everyone uses something and helping to pay for these programs makes our communities cleaner, safer, more welcoming, and easy to live in. These are programs like little leagues, buses, jails, ambulances, food stamps, and park programs (like watching fireworks on the 4th of July).

I know it's popular to for some reason hate people who are on welfare (y'know because they clearly don't have enough problems). Certain citizens want to know why they have to pay for someone else's misfortune, and my answer to that is why do I have to pay for your damn ambulance when you fall off your ladder cleaning your gutters? I don't have gutters, and if I did, I wouldn't fall off of them like a clumsy effing idiot, so I don't want to pay for the ambulance that will come pick you up and safe your life because it's not my problem. Sounds heartless doesn't it? Yes, of course I'll pay for your ambulance, and your welfare, and your drug rehabilitation! I'll pay for you to get a free education just like I did. I will pay for you to get better, because someday I'll need you to pay for my pension. I owe you a nice public transit system because when I was little you paid for me to play softball for 6 years, and I got to ice skate in a public rink that was safe, beautiful and fun because you helped keep it that way.

Look, taxation and redistribution of the wealth is a main principal of democracy. Remember democracy? What we needed to fight a never ending war for in the Middle East? A principal that the GOP likes to wave around desperately while pointing fingers at the democrats like we're about to make it on the McCarthy blacklist.

Under and Obama/Biden administration, no one will be paying more taxes unless they are making over $200,000
- if you're making that much do you really think you can't afford to pay some extra taxes to make your community a better place for all to live in? Don't you want to be safe and happy? So does everyone else.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Friday, October 3, 2008

Get Over Being Sketched Out, Abuser Intervention Can Work!

Today the Washington Post looks into abuser intervention programs. These are important because it takes the responsibility to end domestic violence off the shoulders of the victims. Society is always asking why women don't leave, stand up for themselves, fight back, say no, press charges, kick him out. There is constant pressure for women to put an end to abuse that they did not start, nor go looking for. Abuser intervention programs seek to stop passing the buck to victims by putting this responsibility where it belongs, back into the hands that did the hurting. Not only that, but these programs demand growth, understanding, and change from its participants. However, they're not getting as much support as they need, even though such programs play a critical role in ending violence against women.

Sure, I get why these programs make people feel iffy (helping men who abuse their partners?!?!?! ahhhhh! no grant monies for you!), but just reading the person's story featured in the Washington Post should give some small ray of hope, right? Maybe? Though, I would like to know how common "success stories"such as this are, and I would also enjoy a follow up interview in like a year to see how he's coming on his committment to non violence. In addition, if one is a victim, it's virtually impossible to believe in a persons abiltity to change. Especially since we're taught that violence is a cycle that an abuser rarely, if ever, breaks.

It's hard not to feel strongly one way or the other, but for some more guidence and insight on the matter, I strongly encourgage all to check out the fantastic author of "The Macho Paradox: Why Some Men Hurt Women and How All Men Can Help," Jackson Katz. He discussess the importance of approaching "gender violence as a MEN'S issue involving men of all ages and socioeconomic, racial and ethnic backgrounds," and puts empahsis on viewing "men not only as perpetrators or possible offenders, but as empowered bystanders who can confront abusive peers." Not too shabby.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Rewards for Catching Abusers, Cuz Otherwise Who Would Care, Right?

So for the month of October Crime Stoppers of Huston Texas is offering a $5,000 reward for anyone who turns in a wanted felon with connections to domestic violence. This is one of those seems awesome at first plans, but then turns questionable after a few minutes of mulling it over...
  • First and foremost, yes, this will probably help bring in some abusers that would otherwise get away, and that is truly the most important thing
  • But second, why this is only a month long project? I am irked by the idea that the only time to be vigilant about abusers is during a specified month, as if the rest of the time it's meh
  • And lastly, I resent that there's such a high reward offered like no one would give a fuck otherwise...but it does reflect on a societal ambivalence, most likely due to lack of knowledge...which is why DV awareness month is so important...there! Full circle!
So obvi it's a great project, but I'm apprehensive about the deadline. What do you think?

Celebrate GLBT History Month by Telling Sarah Palin to Eff Off

Is it a huge surprise that Palin believes being gay is a choice? Not really, but I am slightly shocked that she delivers this bullshit message by way of talking about her "best friend" that "made the choice" to be gay. I'm wondering if after seeing this interview her very best friend has now knocked Palin down to "clueless straight friend I catch up with when I run into her at the mall, but otherwise I nothing her existence." To recap, being inaccurately dragged out into the political spotlight without consent is awesome-o.

I Would Be a Total Jerk If I Didn't Also Mention it's GLBT History Month

It's true! A friend was quick to point out that DV victims aren't the only ones to get overlooked during the month of October. It's super important to be aware that October is also GLBT History month. You can check out the mega fancy website geared to educating communities on the "vital importance of recognizing and exploring the role of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people in American history" here.

Meanwhile mark your calenders for October 11th, National Coming Out Day! This year is the 20th anniversary of NCOD and it was orginally held to commerate the first gay rights march on Washington DC which was held on Oct 11th 1987 and had 500,000 participants. Get info on what celebrations will be taking place this year in your community at the Human Rights Campaign website here.

*Thanks to Jacob for the heads up

You Know Who I'm in Love With? (VP Debate edition)

Joe Biden. I know this may not come as a surprise to many readers given my ravenous response to his VP nomination...I do tend to gush. So here comes another Biden is perfection update! With all the press Palin is getting for making victims pay for rape kits, it's great to read that Biden is fighting hard for rape kit evidence to be matched against DNA databases of convicted felons and rapists. This is important because the US Department of Justice estimates that "there are at least 221,000 rape kits currently on the shelves in evidence lockers, untested and gathering dust" That means 221,000 rapists have gotten away even though evidence against them exists, it just hasn't been exaimined. Not so great.

Joe Biden = a hero for victims that writes and fights for legislation that requires and allocates money for DNA evidence from rape kits to get matched with databases to ensure the legal system is doing everything they can to effectively find and charge the rapist, thus adding to the safety and comfort of victims

Sarah Palin = a Scrooge McDuck like character cackling in the face of rape victims and demanding they pay for their own rape kits if they want them, causing trauma and re-victimization

Happy VP Debate Day! Make sure to watch with rapt attention at 9pm tonight!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month or How I Learned to Wear Purple During a Month Berating Me With Pink

You may not see Domestic Violence Awareness Month under the pink glare that Breast Cancer Awareness Month is casting, but I assure you it's happening. Even though both worthy causes have shared the "awareness" spotlight for more than 20 years, breast cancer has exploded as a year long cause that has re-claimed the color pink thus reclaiming our hearts. This has indirectly encouraged all companies ever to exploit cancer for bigger sales.

While I agree on the evil aspect of the gross over-marketing being more about the companies making a profit, than spreading goodwill, I also think it's hard to argue with the amount of talk, press, donations, and excitement pink garb generates. I'd love it if Coach started selling purple bullshit key fobs with purple C's and charms and shit. You know why? Because 9 out of 10* women in all of fucking America is walking around with some damn Coach product. So if they are going into the Coach store or going onto their website they will be confronted by breast cancer awareness immediately! Then they will buy said product ("it's pink!") and tell their friends, and viola! Instant talky talky about a serious issue that maybe those people wouldn't have thought to talk about before.

Do you know when you're confronted with Domestic Violence Awareness? If you're on a college campus (sometimes), or y'know, when you are personally affected. Not great options there, and also, DV orgs and victims don't get sweet promotional deals from BMW. Other than basic community outreach, and silly rubber bracelets, DV is not being hyped, and even though purple is the "it" color this fall, no one is wearing it with abuse in mind (anti abuse that is). No one is like "OMG! I just got this purple D&G dress from Nordstrom and 25% of my purchase goes to domestic violence prevention!" That scenario has absolutely never happened. People are not talking about DV, but there is a whole lot of silence and misunderstanding. And every day that people don't talk openly and matter of factly about violence against women this silence extends to the victims and survivors who often take it as a cue to keep quiet about their experiences.

So what about all these people that aren't sitting through a school presentation or have been personally affected? People who want to help friends or family and don't know how. Friends or family who don't notice their loved one is even in a DV situation. Us Weekly when they ask Ana Ortiz why she tolerated the abuse. The millions of people that unknowingly use that kind of speech, leaving out the abuser, and blaming the victim, asking " why didn't she leave?" instead of "why is he abusive?" The victims in abusive relationships that don't realize it, or know it, but have no resources for help. All of these people (and everyone else who doesn't fall into these scant catergories) need to be as aware of DV as they are of breast cancer in order to break this deafening silence surrounding violence against women. If selling them purple glitter eyeshadow is the way to do it so be it!

Breast Cancer and Domestic Violence are two epidemics that mainly affect women. Two epidemics that can lead to death. They both affect our communities, our families, our friends, they are equally important and I'd like to see them happily co-exist together. So since one is clearly the front-runner right now cough cough cancer...maybe DV could get a leg up? A shout out on the National Breast Cancer Awareness Month website perhaps? Just sayin'. Think about it breast cancer advocates, this could be the beginning of a beautifully marketed relationship.

So Domestic Violence Awareness Month doesn't get its own website (wha wha), but you can read about it on the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence website, and while you are there, check out what you can do to make a difference!

My small part (other than working at a DV shelter) will be attempting to put up a new article about DV or DV awareness every day. It's a tall order, but I have my very own laptop now, so really, what's holding me back? For today, check out what's going down in my hometown area, Cleveland!

*This is a statistic I made up for the benefit of my blog based on my observations while walking around places where other people are.

UPDATE: There is now a website up for the 2008 Domestic Violence Awareness Month. You can view it here. I'm not gonna lie, it's way meager.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

There's a Lot More to Life Than Being Really, Really, Ridiculously Good Looking - Part 3

Standing in front of my closet, I was weighing out the options. Ironic or classic? These were really my only two choices. Though I enjoy following fashion and watching trends, I suck at pretending I care enough to buy a new necklace every time Forever 21 decides boho chic is in or out again. Plus, my overwhelming desire to look like I dropped out of a Rogers and Hammerstein piece tends to color my ability to fit into fashion’s social norms.

I had my outfit for the big ANTM tryout narrowed down to two equally offbeat dresses. One was a black velvet and gold lamé tulle explosion from the early Madonna years, and the other was a retro 1950’s garden-party inspired dress also in black, and adorned with small white polka dots. Ironic or classic? After hopping in and out of each dress a few times, painstakingly looking at them in both the bedroom full length mirror and the smaller bathroom mirror (each providing not only different views, but also different light), I chose the garden party dress. Over mutterings from the boyfriend reminding me that I was doing this just for fun, I matter-of-factly explained to myself that, really, velvet is more of an evening look, and this tryout was at 2 o’clock in the afternoon – the perfect time for a 50’s style back yard tea.

Did I over think the outfit? Oh surely, yes. But considering my being brainwashed by the survey I filled out the night before, it added up. I made the firm decision that my clever responses to their application would not be enough to seal the deal. In order to take reality TV by storm, I had to have a classic, yet edgy look to catch their eye. The dress took care of the classic, and I was counting on my platinum locks and tendency to overdose on black mascara to cover the edgy aspect.

In red patent leather peep-toed heals, I clumsily practiced my runway walk for the boyfriend and the non-trying-out-yet-attending-for-moral-support friend before we hit the road. I greedily soaked in the compliments they gave adding further to my delusions of grandeur. Before I pranced out to pick up the other friend who was trying-out, the boyfriend tried to give me some sage advice about keeping things in perspective. Or something like that, it was hard to hear him over my inner self who was boisterously singing my praises. This is going to be a cake-walk I told myself. I am going to stand out from every lame sequined tank top girl that shows up. I am a beautiful and unique snowflake. My inner Tyler Durden frowned. I was going to win fame, success, and happiness. No one can compete with a retro 1950’s garden party inspired dress. Nothing can stop me now.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Way to Go Joe!

The text message arrived at 3:41 am this morning confirming that Joe Biden is indeed Barack Obama's running mate for Vice President!

So if you'll notice the blog directly below this one, uh yeah, I totally called that. Cnn should probably hire me as senior political analyst now.

Also this weeks convention looks like it will be very pro-woman rights according to NOW president Kim Gandy. With Joe Biden championing ending violence against women, what I believe is the biggest issue affecting women and girls, I think this administration has a chance to create a huge positive step in the right direction for women's rights. We may have lost Hillary, but I don't think women have lost their voice.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Top 10 Reasons Why Joe Biden Would be the Most Awesomest Choice for Vice President

10) He was born in Scranton Pennsylvania, thus I assume he is a rabid fan of "The Office"

9) He saves our resources and air quality by commuting by train from Delaware to DC

8) We share the same birthday (that means once he moves down here we could totally have a joint party!)

7) He is a strong supporter of gun control, receiving a "F" rating from the NRA

6) His experience with foreign relations, coupled with his moderate stance on the Iraq War will help to win over the middle of the road democrats and republicans who view Obama as too liberal

5) Opposes jerky things like capital punishment, oiling drilling, and throwing illegal immigrants out by their coat tails

4) He has a working class background, and is outspoken as well as knowledgeable about the importance of agriculture and family farms - two qualities that make Ohioans swoon

3) He's excellent on civil rights, from combating discrimnation based on sexual orientation to working to end the wage bias against women, Biden has a long history of speaking out against injustice

2) He openly called "Bullshit!" on Bush, thus solidifying Biden's new title: Senator Badass

-And most importantly to me-

1) Senator Biden wrote the ground-breaking Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) in the 1990s that set the national agenda on criminalizing violence against women and holding batterers truly accountable.

Biden has changed the country and millions of lives for the better with this act. This along with a 100% score from NARAL, proves to every woman who is still skeptical about the ousting of Hillary that this will finally be an administration that values women. We wanted a feminist, and whether or not he identifies as such, we're getting one with Joe Biden.

I love you, Joe! Good Luck!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Women Can Make Their Own Choices? Whaaaaa?

First off, I whole heartedly agreed with my friend when she sent me this link and said, "The love hate relationship with Jezebel continues..." Jezebel has often left a bad taste in my mouth because they seem to not be able to decide if they're into feminism or if they're the kinda chicks who think it's hilarious to rag on other women for making dumb girly choices that no self respecting chica should, a la Female Chauvinist Pigs style.

This time, however, they have definitely touched on a topic that needs more publication and acceptance, to birth or not to birth. AKA Being content fulfilling your womanly duty to the world, or becoming a dried up, cat toting pariah. In this story, the 24 year old woman who chooses to get sterilized finds there is not a happy middle ground for those of us who don't see a "Baby on Board" sign hanging in our future-mobiles.

Honestly, I'm not totally into the mommy thing (mostly because I love spending my money on things like fancy organic food and make-up instead of children), but that's cool because I'm totally accepting and supporting of those who love the pitter patter of little feet. However, I also like to trust and encourage those who aren't looking to fill the world with more unwanted, neglected kids. Additionally, I expect others to also trust women to make decisions that are right for them and their bodies (silly me).

So, why does this woman have to catch so much heat for opting for sterilization? Her mother actually cried when she found out. Cried! A lot of the issue seems to be around her age, but since when is 24 considered too young to make life decisions? If at 24 people can make the life-altering choice to join the armed forces; go to undergrad, graduate, medical, or law school; get a tattoo of a Looney Tunes character; get hitched; or pop out as many rugrats as a uterus will allow, can't we also decide to get sterilized?

Well eff that. We woman are going to birth children if we want them, or we're going to have lots worry-free pleasure focused sex just for fun, or we'll do both because we know better than anyone else what's best for us! Most importantly, we don't become useless when we don't have kids. It's time to get used to that. In the mean time, keep the tears for all the kids that have been born, yet are mistreated, unloved, and forgotten...there's a lot of them and we don't need anymore.

Thanks to Lisa for the link!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

You Know What's NOT Feminist? Refusing to Take Responsibility for Your Orgasm!

I have to confess that although I do not enter into the danger zone that is website message boards very often, I sometimes can't help but scroll down and read a few (or a few dozen) comments. For me, message boards have the same train wreck appeal that an episode of Jerry Springer does, I know reading them will be mind numbingly annoying, but I'll be damned if they aren't entertaining. My latest skip through the interwebs led me to the message boards of Facebook's "Feministing" group. The Feministing website is my favorite online hangout, and because I'm a FB group junkie, I eagerly joined up on there as well. Unnecessary? Absolutely. I popped on today to see if there's really anything on it to benefit from, or if I would be better off dumping it to make room for the bazillion other capricious, masturbatory groups I need need need to join. Then, against my better judgment, I got roped into some misguided feminist's thoughts on sex and sex work (you think "misguided" sounds cruel now, but just wait until you try to follow her train of thought from pole dancing to guys who can't "eat pussy" in just a few sentences).

I was hooked by title, "Can Sex Work Manifest Feminism?" Presumably, from reading her thoughts, she's wondering if sex work can be feminist...though it's not really fair of her to pose this as a query because she's already got the answer, and it's a big fucking (or not fucking in this case) NO! Of course, to be fair she is posing one of the hardest questions for the movement because it is one of our biggest dividing lines. There's no fantastic way to win here. Either one is anti and comes off as not validating women's choices, thus infantilizing them, as well as looking like an advocate for censorship...or one is pro and in championing a women's choice one starts to ignore all of the preordained factors (patriarchy, anyone?) that led to the decision which often make it more of an only option than a choice.

Honestly, I don't like to get worked up for either argument, as both sides can have valid points when argued well. Although, I tend to support options that will be safest for women and their health. Therefore, as long as prostitution, porno, and pole dancing have willing (not forced), adult participants, I think the responsible thing to do is to support our sisters in the sex industry and help them get better rights and representation. Just check out the mavens with moxie over at $pread magazine. This is a publication written and produced by current and former sex workers that seeks to "build community and destigmatize sex work by providing a forum for the diverse voices of individuals working in the sex industry." Women who through grassroots activism demand better treatment by the government, their male co-workers, and their clients?! Don't tell me these ladies aren't feminists.

My other gripe with this message board posting is when it awkwardly transitions from the sex work issue to her unhappy sex life. For many paragraphs and other postings she vents her frustrations with the males in her bed and their inability to tickle her fancy. Crappy sex is for sure a major reason to loose your mind, and a dude who is more than willing to push your head down on his without so much as glancing at your lady cat deserves to be kicked to the curb, no doubt. However, when a woman can count the number of partners who have chowed down on her girly bits, poorly at that, while implying that her list of gentlemen callers stretches around the block I can't help but wonder (yikes all this sex talk is making me channel Carrie Bradshaw) if maybe someone isn't speaking up and schoolin' like she should.

I'm not laying blame on this gal or any of my lusty lady friends, and I'm certainly not siding with i'll-take-my-bj-without-the-cunnilingus-please guys. However, this whole argument she makes brings up an important point that I find myself considering a lot: how much do we women blame our male-dominated culture/society for those bad in bed boys and how much personal responsibility are we willing to take for our orgasm?

Look, whatever kind of sex you're having, it requires two people and just wanting it to be good is not gonna cut it (uh, duh, remember your first time?). It's one thing to sleep with selfish assholes (did he really not seem like a selfish asshole before the clothes came off?!?!), but it's another to assume that a guy who really cares about you automatically knows your ins and outs like a Google map. There's a lot going on down there, and although we're used to poking around and knowing what's hot and what's not, the guys may need a little tutoring. Should they ask? Hell yes, but not asking doesn't make them private enemy #1, especially if we're not telling. If we're not asking for what we want and telling our partners what we need, aren't we partially to blame for bogus buggering? In addition, if we're not comfortable with asking, telling, teaching, learning, shouldn't we be asking ourselves why we're jumping into the sack with this person, instead of asking why are all men selfish slackers?

Here's an even bigger question: why are we women letting guys give us bad head? I'm sick of women being the victims of bad sexual experiences. It's time to take a stand here, and demand better, and giving up giving head is not the way to get our point across. (It's not fair to withhold sex to get sex, if a guy did that to us I'm sure we'd have even more to say about that.) So guys have no problem telling us that we're using too much teeth, and if we don't want to "go into the bathroom and masturbate after we've had sex," why aren't we telling them the equivalent? They want to know, and until we teach them what's what down there, they are either going to continue grop around like blind mice or avoid the whole thing all together. And for those who sit through class and still refuse to do the work, fail those d-bags, and tell 'em this group project just became DIY.

So Thesaurus.com is Kind of a Jerk

I usually love the helpful intellect of Thesaurus.com, but I was a little pissed when I found that one of their synonyms for the word "woman" is "siren." Like the sirens from Greek mythology that would lure sailors to them with their beauty and song, tricking the men into their death. Nice. So, watch out for women, our main goal is to beguile men out of youth, money, and happiness.

(Other words suggested by Thesaurus.com : vamp, sorceress, femme fatale...seriously who comes up with these?)

Saturday, July 26, 2008

There's a Lot More to Life Than Being Really, Really, Ridiculously Good Looking - Part 2

When my friend called to tell me that "America's Next Top Model" was having open casting calls in the DC area, I couldn't think of a more hilarious way to spend my weekend. We sat together for hours working on the "application." With our gaze fixed on the computer screen, we tried to think of the most clever answers to "What would you do if this show made you famous?" and "Would you ever go to a nude beach?" Long after my friend had to head home, I sat, eyes glazed over, trying to come up with the wittiest response to "What is your ideal romantic partner like?" These reality show questionnaires are of course looking for the "honest" answer. Seriously people, just be yourself. Except that on ANTM, girls are routinely shot down for being themselves. On more than one occasion Tyra has scolded a few modeling hopefuls for not being lady-like or whatever modern day phrase is slightly more socially acceptable, yet not any less offensive. I typed and untyped "must be good in bed" a couple of times under the question about romantic partner qualifications. In hindsight, I should have went with it, as it became clear during the first audition that our cleverly honest, well thought out applications would be taken into little to no consideration. Plus it is one of my qualifications. A major one. I scrapped it though, with the idea of seeming neat and pretty until I made it on the show. Then, once in the public eye, my plan was to be outlandishly crass, outspoken about controversial issues, and outright defiant, while of course winning the competition and shattering the image of perfection in the modeling/beauty industry. The whole process started to become less of a hilarious anecdote to tell later, and more of my chance to change the way Americans conceptualize beauty in one fell swoop.

"Do you have a temper?"

"What kind of people would you want to live in a house with?"

Ridiculous question after ridiculous question, I started taking more seriously. I dumped all of my goofy, sarcastic answers for more polished, droll responses. I wanted to erase the blemishes. Anything that made me sound flippant and irreverent had to go. My application was me wearing make-up. Not a lie, just a more palatable version of the truth.

"Have you ever thrown something in anger? Explain."

"Have you ever thought of running for political office, why or why not?"

“How do you deal with someone who intimidates you?”

At the root of it all, after 7 pages of bullshit MySpace like survey questions, this application is really just asking, “How good of a reality television show contestant would you be?” I was convinced this show was looking for entertainers, not models. They need someone to keep audiences tuning in week after week…someone with personality...and in my dark living room at 2am the night before the auditions, as I typed my perfect answers out with rapt attention, I was convinced. I told myself, that someone is so me.

Rescued Pets are the Best Pets

As an update to the entry I wrote about the AKC lobbying the Obama family to choose one of their pure-bred freak show dogs, here's a little bit from the Best Friends Network urging the soon-to-be presidential family to pick a shelter dog in need of a loving home. What I like about their argument is that they want everyone to get involved. They don't to make this an issue about republicans or democrats, instead their website focuses on the importance of finding homeless animals a loving family. BFN goes on to say, "For a candidate focused on 'hope' and 'change,' adopting a homeless pet is the right choice. Win or lose, this is an opportunity for Obama to effect change on this very important issue." I agree, and I encourage all of you to check out their website and see what you can do to affect your own change. At the least sign the petition, at the most bring home your own shelter pet!

There's a Lot More to Life Than Being Really, Really, Ridiculously Good Looking - Part 1

Outside the BMW dealership, 200-300 girls waited in line anxiously repeating to themselves why they wanted to become America's Next Top Model. Sun beating down on us, my friend and I were a part of this line. We were a part of this handful of girls who had already waited in a line the week before, and were picked, much to our surprise and wonder, to wait in this new line. The next round of cuts. One step closer to the fame and fortune that deep down, when stripped of our good intentions, we all truly desired. We were the chosen few, and our reward was to wait for another few hours outside a BMW dealership in the unforgiving July heat. Standing in line, waiting to be filmed. Waiting to tell a camera that we were pretty, but we also have brains, talents, attitude, kind hearts, whatever. Telling the faceless camera something, anything, to set us apart. Something to make us unique in a sea of similarity. In the sweltering humidity we couldn't help but ask ourselves why we wanted to be America's Next Top Model. Tottering above one another in our highest heels, in what we perceived to be our most fashionable attire, waiting to compete if only for a few seconds with the other hundred girls in line. Make-up smearing from the heat. Hair once perfectly arranged strand by strand, now matted, wet with sweat. Bangs sticking to our melting faces, we all wanted to be validated again. Tell me I'm good. Tell me I'm pretty. I kept thinking, this all started out as a joke.

Friday, July 11, 2008

I'm Ready to Make Beer Bellies the Must Have Look for This Fall

It's time for Tyra to see the wicked style of LTB. Wild hounds couldn't keep me away from these auditions. For a hilarious rundown on the madness, check back next week.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Don't Get Bichon Frised Out! Vote Now!

So the Obamas are great, right? The whole lot of 'em, smart, funny, progressive, attractive... you'd be hard pressed to find a flaw in this group. Until now. The American Kennel Club has shone a light on a major flaw of this White House bound family: no pets! It's true. While the McCains are littered with pets, from dogs with theme names to a gender queer iguana, the Obamas have nothing to offer us but a promise of bringing a dog into the picture after the campaign is over. Well the AKC doesn't want to take any chances here, so they've decided to "help" the Obamas out by letting the public (you!) vote for which breed would be best suited for the job of first dog. I know you are chomping at the bit to have your voice be heard on this somewhat pressing matter, but wait! You can't type in just any ol' mongrel! They've already narrowed down some that you can pick from:

So go now! Cast your vote! Or if this finicky group of "those are dogs? really??" bothers you, check out this angry blogger who is super pissed about the whole ordeal. No, for serious. He calls the AKC "a Madison Avenue Club of Clowns ."

Also, who knew the Bushs have a cute cat? I mean, he's no Socks, but he's in there swingin'.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Where in the World is Rick Moranis?

This is a question I've wondered many times over, and finally I've found the answer on Monsters and Critics. Turns out he "made so much money off of 'Honey I Shrunk the Kids' that he retired. He just doesn't want to work anymore." What? Really? The okay-once-it's-clever-but-three-times-it's- obnoxious, "Honey I Shrunk the Kids," juggernaut was his farewell tour? And now he's too good to lend his voice to a "Ghostbusters" video game? For shame, Rick Moranis, for shame.

The Dictionary Learned It and So Can You, Fishy McNotvegetarian

So among my long list of pet peeves (including, but not limited to: repetitive noise, Kirsten Dunst, and people who misquote movies without first acknowledging that they don't really remember the original line) there is a special I'm-foaming-at-the-mouth-annoyed-with-you spot reserved for people who make a big stink letting everyone know that they are vegetarian then later reveal to you "well, I do eat fish," like suddenly mackerels sprout from the ground. I'm not referring to all who choose to add fish to their otherwise veggie diet, just those who want to come off as hip and with-it to other vegetarians and at the same time look down their nose at fellow omnivores who have the audacity to eat red meat. It's like they've been living in a bizarro world where fish, lobster, clams, and mussels are suddenly made of leafy greens.Well, here's a newsflash for those who see the ocean as a floating vegetable garden: You come off as an asshole to real vegetarians as well as omnivores, so shut-up and learn your real name which is, Pescatarian.

I've been correcting people on this name for years, though it is usually met with much skepticism from these wannabes. Now, however, I've got Merriam-Webster on my side. The newest addition of the dictionary will contain "pescatarian", although, Microsoft Word will still be confounded by it. I'm slightly annoyed by the definition they use: "a vegetarian who eats fish," as it is non congruent to their definition of vegetarian: "consisting wholly of vegetables, fruits, grains, nuts, and sometimes eggs or dairy products." From what I can tell fish falls into none of those food categories, which is why the word "pescatarian" is needed to begin with. I would suggest changing it to "a person who eats fish, but would otherwise be considered a vegetarian." What? Too wordy? Well, that's why I didn't major in word-smithery.

Also, as an added note, I don't really care what and how people eat, as it is a personal choice. I myself have a number of dietary restrictions that probably annoy the hell out of others. So those pescatarians who think I'm hating on you, no worries, enjoy your fish. I just figured that some of the more label obsessed fish eaters would appreciate knowing the correct word usage, since it is clear you want everyone to know your very specific diet.

One more thing just for fun, I know there are all kinds of ethical debates we can have about PETA in the future, but for now check out their facts on fish, and why cutting them from your diet is a friendly move.

Friday, June 27, 2008

The Future Looks Limp for Louisiana Rapists

A groundbreaking new law created by Louisiana governor, Bobby Jindal (R), will hopefully have would be rapists thinking twice before they decide consensual sex isn't for them. This bill, forcing convicted rapists to undergo chemical castration, was signed into law by a frustrated Jindal when the Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday that executing child rapists would be considered unconstitutional, as the death penalty is reserved for convicted murders.

I am grappling with a few thoughts on this matter. While I cannot hide the automatic giddy feeling that overcomes me when I think of some asshole rapist dealing with a limp dick for the rest of his life, I wonder how effective this law will be. The language used in the law is "convicted rapists," and according to the Rape Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), convicting a person of rape is not an easy, or common, task.


So replace "jail" with "chemical castration," and you've got 15 out of every 16 rapists able to still get it up despite their dirty deeds. It makes sense, though, the court is always a tangled mess on these issues. What do we expect, it's the punishment that's changing, not the entire way the justice system works, right? Yeah, but still...consider the outraged governor calling rapists "monsters," and the Supreme Court ruling "atrocious, " and then he signs in this intense and unique law to show how serious Louisiana is about punishing those who rape. Yet, how often is anyone really going to get the wind sucked from their sails? I'm guessing not much. I'm not calling for a reformatting of the justice system, I'd just like to see a little more convicting and a little less boasting.

In addition, is anyone else bothered by the frequency of people focusing on child rape as the issue? Don't misunderstand me, child rape is certainly a serious issue, but I tend to believe all rape is a serious issue and I like to avoid classifying one as better or worse than another. Unlike sex crimes prosecutor Kat Bartholomew who told CNN, "In my opinion, the rape of a child is more heinous and more hideous than a homicide." She went on to explain sexual assault on a child "takes away their innocence. It takes away their childhood. It mutilates their spirit. It kills their soul." Wow, does anyone else think this woman could use a lesson on even handedness from Olivia Benson?

Let me reiterate, I do think raping children, who are vulnerable, is definitely one of the absolute worse things a person can do. However, I have a hard time with making it a more legitimate crime than raping someone of consent age. The constant attention to child rape as the only heinous crime adds to the ease society already has blaming victims over the age of 16 or 17. Once you become legally and emotionally in control of your sexuality it becomes less easy for people to believe you didn't want it.

Lastly, I just want to touch on this whole "mutilates their spirit...kills their soul" thing. Really, Kat Bartholomew? Is that where we're going with this? Nothing like branding someone a tarnished victim for life. Does a rape stay with a survivor for ever? Sure. Can it affect one's future personal and intimate relationships? Of course. Is it horrible? Yes, yes, yes. I never want to minimize anyone's experience, but it is just that, an experience, and it affects everyone differently. There are common symptoms like PTSD, depression, etc., but not everyone who is raped is automatically lost cause. There is certainly no reason to brand victims and survivors with a scarlet "R." Rape is awful, but let's not re-victimize those who have suffered from it by insisting they are soulless now.

So to recap:
  • Louisiana decided to chemically castrate rapists, deflating their chances of raping again
  • This will probably only affect 1 out of 16 rapists
  • Officials make it sound as if rape is only a serious issue when it affects children
  • If you are raped you become soulless
There's a lot of little of things to pick apart here, what are your thoughts on any of this?

(Thanks to John for the link)

Update: Sorry the flow chart got cut off, I don't have photoshop to fix the sizing issue. To get a better idea, please click on the RAINN link.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

They're Like Kangaroos, But They're Reptiles, They Is.

This story is too ridiculously hilarious to ignore for the following reasons:

A. Evidently it's national news when a baby croc drops by the local Aussie Pub (strange for Elyria, Ohio...but somehow seems more likely in the outback)

B. And yucky cane toads?! I'd have called them "chazzwazzers"...

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Pleez I Have Nue Hohmz Now?

Similar to what happened during Hurricane Katrina, Iowa pets are finding themselves washed up without a home. Swept unceremoniously away from everything they know, and the companions they love, many animals don't have much of a chance when disaster strikes. Things like malnutrition, electrocution, hypothermia, dehydration, poisoning from polluted flood waters, even stress from being separated from their owners can lead to a sad, unfortunate death.

That's why I was delighted to read that Washington Animal Rescue League was about to relieve the Humane Society of the United States of 28 animals that they would be bringing back here to DC to adopt out. I'm happy about this, yet saddened by two things:
  1. There are still 900 animals being housed at a makeshift shelter set up by the US Humane Society in Iowa- I hope every state is willing to step up like DC and help find these pets new homes...
  2. ...Which takes me to this point...I feel so bad for the owners of these animals, who never get to see their pet again. Never knowing if it lived, or died. That would haunt me forever. Also, the trauma of surviving a flood and being taken away from it's loving family must be awful for the animal as well. Though, better than a waterlogged death I suppose...
Interested in making a difference in the lives of Iowan animals? Donate to the Best Friends Rescue Fund here!

Now here's something to cheer you up (thanks to EmRez for posting this on FB):
more cat pictures

I'm Not Sexist, I Voted for Hillary

Many supporters see Hillary Clinton loosing the democratic nomination as one more injustice to be tallied on that bitch of a glass ceiling that, though now cracked in 18 million places, is still holding women back after all this time. And we finally seemed so close to equality. So close to seeing a strong, capable, outspoken, liberal woman in the spotlight. A talented woman finally getting the respect she deserved. And now, we feminists have no leader...no great hope...

Wait, what?!?

Why have all the feminists seemed to have forgotten that other strong, capable, outspoken, liberal woman in the spotlight known as Michelle Obama? She has been in this race as long as Hillary, but once HRC stood aside, all eyes (and what jerky eyes they are) were on Michelle. From being Barack's "Baby Mama" to being labeled time and time again as an "angry black woman," Michelle has been taking it from every side, in much the same way as Hillary. This time, however, it's not only about being a woman, but being (dun dun dun) a woman of color, This allows for a whole new wave of insults, and injustice, the likes of which not even Hillary Clinton has seen.

So, why the silence, ladies?

I'm not the only one who finds the sudden clamming up of America's great feminist voices suspect. Over the weekend Mary C. Curtis had a few thoughts on the matter as well (from The Washington Post):

"What does Gloria Steinem think? She was out front with her support of Clinton, promoting the importance of a female president. She has even endorsed Barack Obama. What's her reaction now that the knives are out for another strong woman?

How about Geraldine Ferraro the former vice presidential nominee whose racially tinged denunciations of Barack Obama sparked a media firestorm?"

She goes onto say how she has long considered herself a feminist and once "cheered" Steinem's words, " I'd like a little of that solidarity back now, not suspicion because someone of my race defeated someone of our sex."

As both a life-long feminist, and Hillary supporter, I have noticed the large gap in our media where the justified howls of sexism against Hillary used to reside. Now feminists far and wide seemed to have stepped down, licking their wounds, discouraged in the trenches. I can only assume, feeling as though they've lost the fight, they are laying low. But why now? The show isn't over . The second act, ripe with the intersectionality of race and gender, is just beginning. Since we first started fighting for suffrage, mainstream feminism has been criticized for ignoring women of color. Criticized for acting as though the problems facing all women were that of the suburban, middle-class, white women. Now, here we are possibly on the verge of the fourth wave, still dealing with the ghosts of our fore mothers. Don't get me wrong, without their triumphs we wouldn't have the rights we do, but because of their missteps we find ourselves still unable to look beyond our own self-interest. Unable to be okay enough with our loss to stand together and make sure to prevent another.

We either care about these issues or we don't. Ignoring Michelle for the next 4 months is not only going to keep that glass ceiling we beat on for the last year and a half whole, it might even mend a few of its cracks.

And while we're at it, let's send a little love Cindy McCain's way.

I Am Jack's Bloated Ego

Due to popular demand (ha) I have now joined the ranks of amateurs far and wide who think their opinions are so very very fascinating that they should be read, and pondered by the hoards of cyberspacers who are bored enough to search the tubes for "Feminism," "Pop Culture," "Politics," and "Edward Norton." Yes, these are the important topics that will be delved into here. So read, comment, and pitch in because, really, what else are you going to do? Work? Bitch, please.