sunday smut: links list on sex and gender (no. 9)

"I tried to give them an explanation that might actually sink in, something a little deeper than 'Don’t say that.'" Pandanose @ Little Lambs Eat Ivy reflects on discussing the importance of language with her students in Out of the Mouths of Boys.

"Even in the relationships I had that didn’t have permanence as part of their raison d’ĂȘtre, I have regrets about too-free-sex." Candelaria Silva @ BlogHer writes about her own coming-of-age during the mid-century Sexual Revolution in Rethinking the Sexual Freedom of My Youth.

"We have laws in place to prevent the exploitation of the vulnerable by the powerful. In other words, there's a non-reciprocal relationship involved that heightens the risk of exploitation. So far so good. But in sexting cases, the non-reciprocal, exploitive relationship is posited to exist between the child and herself (or himself). And here's where things start to become nonsensical." Rachel @ The Feminist Agenda muses about the thought process that lies behind the prosecution of young adults discovered to have distributed naked or sexual photographs of themselves via the internet.

"'It's hard to sit and read the dictionary, but we'll be looking to find other things of a graphic nature,' district spokeswoman Betti Cadmus told the paper. Alison Flood @ The Guardian reports on a California school district that is pulling the Merriam-Webster Dictionary from its shelves in "Oral Sex" definition prompts dictionary ban in US schools.

(As of Wednesday, LIS News reported the book was back on the shelves.)

"These cynics are missing the point, because few things retain the ability to shock like the idea that a woman doesn't necessarily float off on an iceberg of chastity after her 35th birthday." Hadley Freeman, also @ The Guardian considers social outrage (and apparen terror) that still descends upon women in relationships with younger men.

"A pro-life, anti-abortion, pro-reproductive rights, pro-choice person joins the rest of the reproductive rights movement in trying to reduce the need for abortion, through actions such as increasing accessibility to birth control, addressing economic constraints, or supporting adoption." Alex DiBranco @ the Women's Rights Blog has a brilliant assessment of why pro-life and anti-choice are not synonyms, and why you can be pro-life and pro-woman but not anti-choice and pro-woman.

"If you’re opposed to porn, to the point where you’re not willing to be involved with someone who ever watches it, you need to seriously rethink whether that’s a reasonable thing for one adult to ask another." Greta Christina @ The Blowfish Blog writes about porn, relationships, and what's reasonable to ask of another partner regarding the enjoyment of erotic material.

"Basically, it's classing a certain normal female body type as obscene. It's declaring all flat chests to be automatically juvenile, something that should not be viewed by anyone." In what might be the award-winning story of the week when it comes to blind panic and idiocy, Courtney @ Feministing linked to a story about Australian efforts to make pornography that depicts smaller-breasted women illegal on the grounds that small breasts = children and therefore people who enjoy watching small-breasted women be sexual beings are all pedophiles. Mike @ Someone Think of the Children! (an Australian-based blog) has more. May I just say: W.T.F.

"Yesterday at the Perry v. Schwarzenegger trial was the day you got to see David Boies set loose on a witness, and, to judge by the transcript, his cross-examination was a little like watching your cat play with his food before he eats it." Margaret Talbot @ the New Yorker News Desk blogs about the latest from the Prop. 8 circuit court trial.

"For the Olson and Boies side, the key point was that whatever either woman actually did, what they felt inside was fundamental. " Earlier in the week, Talbot also blogged about one of the core philosophical questions that faces both sides: is human sexual identity immutable?

"A trial that should have been a straightforward reinforcement that murder is the deliberate taking of human life instead will be remembered in part as the forum for justifying why a person's life can be sacrificed to save a fetus." Emily Bazelon @ Slate explains what went wrong at the trial of Scott Roeder, the man who murdered Dr. Tiller.

"I dread them getting sick not only because I want them healthy, but also because I have so little sick time." Rachel @ Feministe blogs about a new series from Fem2.0 that tackles the work/life balance in America; meanwhile, Rachel @ The Feminist Agenda shares the good news coming from the UK that fathers in Britain are now eligible for six months paternity leave if the mother of their newborn goes back to work.

And on a final and fluffy, note, Hanna and I have been following with great amusement the story of a English woman who has been charged with an Anti-Social Behavior Order (or ASBO) for disturbing her neighbors with bouts of noisy sex. While on first blush the case seems like an outrageous infringement of the woman's right to privacy, officials apparently put decibel meters in the building to test for sound levels and found her in violation of noise ordinances!

*image credit: Female nude from Channel 4 life drawing series by carolekeen @ Flickr.com.


"don't ever link those two things again..." (2 of 4)

guest post by Hanna, cross-posted at ...fly over me, evil angel... if you haven't already, you can see part one from last saturday.

a quick review from last week saturday: in the spirit of "don't complain about something if you're not prepared to do it better," i noticed over the past couple of weeks two lists -- one from wired and one from a blog i know not of called ink-stained amazon which i have to say is beautiful to look at it -- that both purport to be 'essential lists' of 'geek culture' quotes.


okay, so the wired list starts off with monty python and the holy grail and the amazon list includes the sarah jane adventures -- but i'm still not wildly impressed with either one.

i figured i could do better.

then i thought about it and realised that, on my own, i didn't have the time to do better so i roped in my ever-patient girlfriend to help me do better. :)

first off, a couple of notes:

1. this is for fun. if you're not amused, go read something else. i won't be offended, promise. that being said, suggestions and additions (politely phrased!) are welcome in the comments. but keep in mind this is installation 1 of 4! not everything will fit in here.

2. these are probably mostly going to be dredged out of my memory, anna's memory, imdb, or official show/movie sites. inaccuracy is, therefore, almost inevitable. not to mention repetition of shows or characters. if this annoys you-- well, make your own list. :)

3. i'm not aiming for some kind of "worst to best" or "best to worst" list. they're here because the two people making the list think they're fun or because one of us was able to strong-arm the other into including them. brief context is provided where anna or i thought it was necessary.

5. i am aiming for 4 posts of 25 quotes each over the next 4 weeks. tune in each friday/saturday for your new installment! and here's the link to the first post way back there last week saturday. or sunday. or something.

okay, and that being said...

1. Evelyn Carnahan: "I -- am a librarian!" The Mummy.

2. Stormtrooper: "Look, sir -- droids!" Star Wars: A New Hope. [and a freebie 'cause i always think of it now when i have to find the sw movies by number -- Eddie Izzard [re the Lucasian number scheme]: "He's fucking with us numerically, you realise that, right? 'Kids, count to 10!' '4 5 6, 1 2 3, -- uh --'" Circle.]

3. Luke Smith: "I think I may have made a social blunder. I showed them how to destroy the world." The Sarah Jane Adventures, "Revenge of the Slitheen."

4. The Doctor: "Because I'm very clever." , "Midnight."

5. Dutch [to the Predator]: "You are one ugly mother-fu---" Predator.

6. Ellen Ripley: "This is Ripley, last survivor of the Nostromo, signing off." ALIEN.

7. Red Queen: "You're all going to die down here." Resident Evil.

8. Mercedes[to Captain Vidal about his infant son]: "No. He won't even know your name." Pan's Labyrinth.

9. Captain Jack Sparrow [to Kraken]: "'Ello, beastie." Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest.

10. Eddie Izzard [re: the British Empire]: "We ruled the world through the cunning use of flags." Dress to Kill.

11. John McClane: "Yippee-kay-yay, motherfucker." DieHard.

12. Malcolm Reynolds: "Were there monkeys, Kaylee? Space monkeys?" Firefly, sorry, forgot which episode. Second or third, I feel...?

13. Chancellor Palpatine: "The Sith had many powers, some considered to be unnatural." Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith.

14. Neo: "Whoa." The Matrix.

15. The Doctor [immediately prior to regenerating]: "The end has come -- but the moment has been prepared for." Doctor Who, "Logopolis."

16. Jozef Kastan: "You seriously drink this stuff? What is it -- like, non-fat, vegan, soy blood?" Moonlight, no idea which episode.

17. River Tam: "I can kill you with my brain." Firefly, no idea which episode. whoops.

18. James Bond [when asked how he would like his drink prepared]: "Do I look like I give a damn?" Casino Royale.

19. Alice [to the White Queen computer about the Red Queen]: "I knew your sister. She was a homicidal bitch." Resident Evil: Extinction.

20. Capa: "When a stellar bomb is triggered, very little will happen at first -and then a spark, will pop into existance, and it will hang for an instant, hovering in space and then it will split into two, and those will split again, and again, and again... detonation beyond all imagining - the big bang on a small scale. - a new star born out of a dying one... I think it will be beautiful. No, I'm not scared." Sunshine.

21. Captain John Hart: "Did I mention I'm armed?" Torchwood, "Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang."

22. The Doctor [on Rose pointing out that he sounds North of England]: "Lots of planets have a north!" Doctor Who, "Rose."

23. Riddick: "Anybody not ready for this?" Pitch Black.

24. Rygel: "I am Rygel the XVIth, dominar of over six billion people -- I don't have to talk to you!" Farscape, no idea which episode. something in the first season, i feel.

25. Buffy Summers: "You forgot about dawn. It's in about six hours, idiot." Buffy the Vampire Slayer, "Welcome to the Hellmouth."


language and authority: two links

Two stories have crossed my desk lately along themes of language and social hierarchy, which is something I find both endlessly fascinating and endlessly frustrating.

As a child who resisted standardized spelling for many years (I knew what I was saying, what was the point of spelling a word the way someone else wanted it spelled?) and who was close friends with a couple of wizard spellers (the kind of girls who were perfectionists about spelling and grammar and didn't hesitate to point out where I deviated from the norm) I'm acutely aware of the way "correct" language use can be wielded as a social and political weapon. Steerforth at Age of Uncertainty writes about this very dilemma from the perspective of his own English, working-class childhood in A Touch of Class,

The unpalatable truth is that I harbour a prejudice - one that has its origins in early childhood.

My parents were both working class, but aspired to move up the social ladder and focused their aspirations on me. As a young child I wasn't allowed to play with the "rough boys" and whenever we walked past Teddington Social Club, my mother would point to the women inside playing Bingo and tell me how "common" they were.

. . .

It's complicated, but I think that my parents' obsession with making me speak "properly" left me with a deep-rooted prejudice about the local accent. During my teens I successfully rejected my parents views on race, gender and politics and came to regard myself as a liberal (with a small "l").

Little did I realise that beneath my enlightened exterior, there lurked a bigot!

Likewise, linguist Geoffrey Nunberg of NPR's Fresh Air muses about the recent kerfluffle over Harry Reid's use of the word "Negro" in reference to Barack Obama, and his suggestion that Obama was more palatable to the American electorate because he sounded "white" (7:53).

In our culture speaking and writing in "standard" English opens certain doors (and closes others). Depending on what your goal is, at least knowing how to speak and write in these ways can be a powerful tool at your disposal. At the same time, it's important to remember that "standard" is not exactly the same as "right": we choose to give authority to certain modes of communication (and certain spellings of a word) through widespread agreement that these modes and spellings are the preferred form. They are not inherently right, and the people who deviate from those forms are not lesser persons because of their failure to conform.

English is notorious for its plasticity: the way it constantly evolves over time, shaping and reshaping the boundaries of language and authority. Steerforth points out in "A Touch of Class" that "In the past, there was no such thing as received pronunciation. We know this, because before spelling was standardised, people wrote phonetically. Then, in the Victorian age, accents began to be linked to social background and that's where all the trouble began." The story is more complicated than that, of course (as crazy as the Victorians are, they cannot be blamed for all the ills of the modern age!). As Simon Winchester points out in his absorbing history of the Oxford English Dictionary, The Meaning of Everything, the OED was in many ways the quintessential exercise in Victorian classification -- and yet it also broke from previous dictionary endeavors by basing definitions and pronunciation on usage rather than on what its editors considered "proper."

When I'm frustrated by speech patterns or grammar that confounds, I try to remember this history and remain humble . . . as long as the individual at the other end of the pen or conversation genuinely seems to be using speech to communicate rather than obfuscate. While acknowledging we find different language patterns disconcerting or frustrating seems totally legit to me, insisting our way is better and that children people speak or write the way that we happen to prefer is really just a way of asserting our authority. Why not enjoy our glorious nonconformity instead?


Quick Hit: The Date that Never Was?

I was catching up on my RhRealityCheck podcasts while doing data entry at work yesterday, and heard Amanda Marcotte do a great analysis of author Laura Sessions Stepp's vision of ideal hetero romance, which basically imagines all people (and specifically adolescents and college-age young adults) to have the income levels of established, upper-middle-class adults:

Hey, I've seen movies about young adults in the 50s and 60s. It was mostly necking in the car, going to dances and bars, and getting cheap food. What Sessions Stepp is doing here is incredibly sleazy. She's feeding young women an image of dating that's borrowed from what people do now in their mid 20s and beyond, when they have jobs and feel less awkward wearing grown-up clothes. But she's pretending that those kinds of dates are something very young women did in the past. In reality, dinner dates and high heels are part of the future, their futures. Everyone I know who was drinking beer and watching videos in their college years on dates, and most of us became the sort of people who go to concerts, drink liquor, and eat expensive food on dates when we had, you know, jobs.

I'd actually take the critique further and point out that even in one's mid-twenties and beyond, the high-heels "dinner date" ideal Sessions-Stepp puts forward as the only legitimate scenario for courtship is hardly everyone's ideal way to spend quality time with their significant other. Setting aside the question of disposable income (lots of adults don't have that kind of money -- whether because they've lost their job, are still in school, or are stretching their salaries to pay for necessary expenses) I'd like to ask Sessions-Stepp why I should want to grow out of an evening at home with my girlfriend cuddling in comfy clothes and watching the latest episode of Sarah Jane Adventures over an open bottle of Charles Shaw merlot?


booknotes: "virginity is not the opposite of sex"

On the last weekend before the official start of the semester (when one is "thesising" there really is not any official start . . . it just keeps on going 'til you turn in that final draft) I picked up what often consistutes my "non-required" leisure reading: nonfiction works on sex and gender. Not that it's the only thing that catches my fancy; in the past couple of weeks, I've also dipped into Hanna's manga collection (Fushigi Yugi and Revolutionary Girl Utena which I'd been meaning to read for going on four years) as well as Tom Stoppard and Andrea Barrett. But then I was at the bookstore the other day and Hanne Blank's Virgin: The Untouched History (2007) caught my eye.

My historian's heart is always warmed by the promise of de-normalizaton: the ability of an author to take an idea or practice so ubiquitous in our culture that it is considered inevitable, "natural," and common-sensical and persuade us to ask "why?" Why do we believe there is such a state -- physical and metaphysical -- as virginity? What, exactly, do we believe constitutes virginity or proof of virginity? And what if it became clear that virginity, in fact, does not materially exist . . . but is, in fact, a conceptual way of organizing human sexuality that has varied in detail enormously across time and place? This is the story Hanne Blank sets out to tell (however briefly) in her three-hundred page book: the story of how the non-existent thing called "virginity" has nonetheless come to exert enormous power over human thought and practice concerning sexuality -- and specifically female sexuality.

I can't say this book offered any huge revelations to the reader (me); though I've not read any other book-length treatments of this specific subject, I've certainly read enough histories of human sexuality and women's sexuality specifically to understand that much of what we consider to be immutable fact about sex actually resides, under closer examination, in the slippery realm of ideological work: the various systems of thought human beings construct to make sense of the world and their experience within it. As Blank notes in her opening sentence, "by any material reckoning, virginity does not exist." Yet humans have, across the centuries and around the globe, devised elaborate methods for determining virgin status that made sense to them in the context of their own belief systems. Why they have felt compelled to do this is the recurring (possibly unanswerable) question at the heart of Blank's narrative.

I think what I found most thought-provoking about Virgin was Blank's suggestion that "virgin" is actually a sexual identity that is taken up and performed quasi-separately from the individual's actual embodied sexual experience -- and that that identity contains within it multiple and often contradictory meanings. Blank suggests that there is something of a "virginity void" that exists in the world, allowing the concept of virginity to flourish through lack of examination: it is presumed to exist and we all assume we understand how it works, so our beliefs about it remain unchallenged -- yet if we start to ask "why" we realize how disparate and often contradictory our understandings of virginity really are. For example, what do we make of the story Blank tells of a young English woman, Rosie Reid, who -- despite being open about her identity as a lesbian in a long-term relationship with another woman -- auctioned her "virginity" off on eBay to the highest bidder, making $14,500 in exchange for sex with a man who, presumably, believed that despite a sexually-active relationship Reid was still a virgin because she had not experienced penetrative heterosexual intercourse (pp. 9-12).

Most interesting to me, as a feminist scholar, is Blank's suggestion that what she terms "parthenophilia" -- or the eroticization of sexual innocence -- is so normalized in our culture that we fail to study it,

Despite the strength and breadth of the erotic interest taken in virginity in our culture . . . the erotic desire for virginity has been continually avoided as a subject of intellectual and clinical inquiry, as if there were no reason to ask and nothing that could possibly be learned by asking.

The virginity void exists on the other side of the fence as well. As little as we know about the erotic desire for virginity, we know even less about the erotic lives of virgins. Specifically, we know very little about how virgins themselves might understand themselves to exist as erotic objects or how they might themselves be erotically affected by the mythology of the erotic virgin that so permeates the culture. Virgins are not exempt from the mythologies of their own sexual status, after all. A virgin may well be every bit as erotically caught up in the implications of her own sexual status as the man who fantasizes about popping her cherry, but she is even less likely than he to be asked about it . . .

Virginity is not the opposite of sex. Rather, it is its own unique and uniquely troublesome sexual entity.

The idea that abstaining from sex is, in itself, a sexual practice has no doubt been argued before yet possibly it has not yet been examined in tandem with the closed-related (though not identical) concept of virginity.

On a related note: those of you interested in a more contemporary analysis of how virginity works in American culture would do well to check out Jessica Valenti's The Purity Myth (2009) which focuses specifically on the policing of adolescent female sexuality -- largely through narratives of virginity and sexual "purity."


Call for Participants: Our Bodies, Ourselves revision

From Our Bodies, Ourselves:

Our Bodies Ourselves is seeking up to two dozen women to participate in an online discussion on sexual relationships.

Stories and comments may be used anonymously in the next edition of “Our Bodies, Ourselves,” which will be published in 2011 by Simon & Schuster.

We are seeking the experience and wisdom of heterosexual, lesbian, bisexual, queer and trans women. Perspectives from single women are encouraged, and you may define relationship as it applies to you, from monogamy to multiple partners. We are committed to including women of color, women with disabilities, and women of many ages and backgrounds.

In the words of the brilliant anthology “Yes Means Yes,” how can we consistently engage in more positive experiences? What issues deserve more attention? And how do we address social inequities and violence against women? These are some of the guiding questions that will help us to update the relationships section in “Our Bodies, Ourselves.”

The conversation will start Sunday, Feb. 14 (yes, Valentine’s Day) and stay open through Friday, March 12.

Please click through to the OBOS website for more details and contact information, and pass this call along to anyone you think would be interested.

Quick Hit: America's Mary Wollstonecraft?

I have a new "lunch talk recap" up at the Historical Society's blog that summarizes Eileen Hunt Botting's recent talk about nineteenth-century author Hannah Mather Crocker and her Reminiscences and Traditions of Boston. Crocker was the granddaughter of Cotton Mather, a proud daughter of the Revolution, mother of ten children, poet, and author of an 1818 tract, "Observations of the real rights of women, with their appropriate duties, agreeable to Scripture, reason and common sense," that holds the distinction of being the first book-length work on the subject of women's rights to be published in America. You can read more over at The Beehive.


from the neighborhood: totally chav tv

So after a week of (mostly) ranty posts (excluding Hanna's guest-blogging, obviously), here's a little beginning-of-the-week fluff for this Monday morning.

My friends (and MHS colleagues) Jeremy and Jamie recently gifted Hanna and I -- for the price of hauling -- a gigantic television that Jamie's parents had passed on to her and for which she had no further use. Replacing our previous, dying, TV/VCR, this ginormous set now graces the corner of the bedroom and must be kept in line by Derek the Dalek, who sits sternly upon it to keep it in check while we are not home. When it's not in use we feel compelled to drape it in a colorful cloth in order to prevent the goblins who live inside it from spying on us in our sleep.

While larger than probably either of us would ever have voted for if purchasing a set, it's in perfect working order and allows us to watch Mr. Izzard in fine style. We've decided it's entirely chav and we kinda like it.


sunday smut: links on sex and gender (no. 8)

To lead off, this past Friday (January 22nd) was the 37th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision and thus Blog for Choice day. I'm still reading my way through all the thoughtful, passionate posts that were written by participants, but in the meantime I thought I'd share some of the round-ups that highlight contributions from around the web.

The Blog for Choice website put together posts throughout the day that excerpted posts; see What We're Reading, More and More Blogs for Choice, What NARAL Staff and Friends are Saying, More Pro-Choice Blogging, What "Trust Women" Means to Heidi from SisterSong and Posts Keep On Coming....

Vanessa did a similar round-up at Feministing as did Rachel at Women's Health News (on a small full-disclosure note, they both linked to my own post from yesterday -- thanks for the love ladies, and I'm glad what I said made sense to someone outside my own skull!).

I'm (fingers crossed!) going to read my way through all of these during the coming week, and hope to share some of my own favorites next weekend. Meanwhile, here are the rest of your "sunday smut" for this week.

Hanna read and reviewed a biography of Athenais de Montespan, mistress to Louis XIV, and writes in her post about how the author felt compelled to critique the physical appearance of her historical characters.

Steerforth @ Age of Uncertainty shares with us the nineteenth-century perils of novel reading for women.

Nathan Schneider @ Killing the Buddha ruminates on sexual privacy in the age of the internet, and how "changing the balance of what’s hidden and what’s seen will also change what’s hot."

Jessica Valenti of Feministing, over at her personal blog, offered some great observations about the damage elitism can do, even in the name of values (for example, gender equality) we believe in: "And that’s what really irks me about this kind of elitism – how some people talk of breaking down power structures while simultaneously using feminist rhetoric to place themselves at the top of a new intellectual feminist hierarchy that does nothing to further justice."

Coming & Crying: Real Stories About Sex From the Other Side of the Bed is the tentative title of a book project by Melissa Gira Grant and Meaghan O'Connell, described as "a collection of stories (and photographs) from the messy, awkward, hilarious, painful, and ultimately true side of sex."

"When a friend is sick, you bring her soup. When she loses a loved one, you bring her flowers. But what do you do when she has an abortion?" Before Blog for Choice day, Chloe @ Feministing offered some thoughts on a new script for talking about abortion.

Hanna passed along this respone in the Guardian to a woman who wrote in asking about the ethics of sexual experimentation.

The BBC is trying to evaluate its GLBT programming; Stephen Brook lets us know what he thinks in a recent op-ed titled BBC to ask homophobes what they think of its coverage of gay people. As Hanna pointed out, if only they'd renew Torchwood for another season they'd have their bases covered!

The National Sexuality Resource Center posted a video of author Carol Joffe speaking about reproductive rights and justice in The Emotion Work of Reproductive Health Specialists (50:32 video).

Over at the New Yorker, Margaret Talbot writes about Perry v. Schwarzenegger (the Proposition 8 case headed to the Supreme Court) in A Risky Proposal. Terry Gross also interviewed Talbot on Fresh Air this week; if you have time the audio interview is worth listening to (a transcript is also provided).

EastSideKate @ Shakesville poses questions about the euphemisms for masturbation in our culture.

And finally, something to look forward to: The Guardian reports that Focus on the Family has bought time during the Superbowl to broadcast a reportedly anti-choice television ad. Stay tuned for further outrageous developments ;).

*image credit: Life drawing couple by Philip by life drawing london @ Flickr.com.


"don't ever link those two things again..." (part 1 of 4)

cross-posted from ...fly over me, evil angel...

Hanna's recruited me to help her come up with the next 75 quotes for parts 2, 3, and 4 . . . problem is I have a really, really hard time remembering snippets of things. my brain doesn't think in quotations very easily. so my contributions end up sounding a lot like, "oh! you need to include something from that scene with Jack and the Doctor and the banana" or "that bit from 'Merlin' where Arthur was harassing Merlin about the bedclothes." Me <-- Not very helpful.

Nonetheless, she gives me entirely undeserved credit below and has been generous enough to share html so I can cross-post it here. Enjoy the glorious depths of her encyclopedic memory and look here for further installments throughout the next four weeks.

okay, so in the spirit of "don't complain about something if you're not prepared to do it better," i noticed over the past couple of weeks two lists -- one from wired and one from a blog i know not of called ink-stained amazon which i have to say is beautiful to look at it -- that both purport to be 'essential lists' of 'geek culture' quotes.


okay, so the wired list starts off with monty python and the holy grail and the amazon list includes the sarah jane adventures -- but i'm still not wildly impressed with either one.

i figured i could do better.

then i thought about it and realised that, on my own, i didn't have the time to do better so i roped in my ever-patient girlfriend to help me do better. :)

first off, a couple of notes:

1. this is for fun. if you're not amused, go read something else. i won't be offended, promise. that being said, suggestions and additions (politely phrased!) are welcome in the comments. but keep in mind this is installation 1 of 4! not everything will fit in here.

2. these are probably mostly going to be dredged out of my memory, anna's memory, imdb, or official show/movie sites. inaccuracy is, therefore, almost inevitable. not to mention repetition of shows or characters. if this annoys you-- well, make your own list. :)

3. i'm not aiming for some kind of "worst to best" or "best to worst" list. they're here because the two people making the list think they're fun or because one of us was able to strong-arm the other into including them. brief context is provided where anna or i thought it was necessary. i also tried to find links for character images that were from the episode/scene/moment where the quoted line was spoken. this isn't always possible but i'm fairly pleased with myself for getting as close as i did! fair warning: links may contain spoilers, particularly links to doctor who or torchwood episodes.

5. i am aiming for 4 posts of 25 quotes each over the next 4 weeks. tune in each friday/saturday for your new installment!

okay, and that being said...

1. Tim Latimer [talking about the Doctor]: "He's like fire and ice and rage. He's like the night and the storm in the heart of the sun. He's ancient and forever. He burns at the centre of time and can see the turn of the universe...and... he's wonderful." Doctor Who, "The Family of Blood."

2. Captain Jack Harkness: "Torchwood: outside the government, beyond the police. Tracking down alien life on Earth, arming the human race against the future. The twenty-first century is when everything changes. And you gotta be ready." Torchwood, Season 1 opener on all episodes.

3. Brother Justin Crowe [talking about his upcoming radio broadcast]: "In a single coast-to-coast broadcast, I will speak to more souls than our Lord did in his entire lifetime. It's going to be breathtaking." Carnivale, "Ingram, TX."

4. Dominic Toretto: "I retract my previous statement." The Fast and the Furious.

5. Murtagh [in reference to a stone wall he and Eragon have run up against in their attempt to join the rebels]: "Tell me your vision looked something like this." Eragon.

6. The Guide: "Don't Panic." The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

7. The Doctor: "Don't blink." Doctor Who, "Blink."

8. M [to James Bond as he almost says her real name]: "Finish that sentence and I'll have you killed." Casino Royale.

9. Captain Jack Sparrow [in reference to almost anything]: "Not good -- not good!" Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl.

10. Alice [before killing the monster that used to be her work partner and "husband"]: "I'm missing you already." Resident Evil.

11. Riddick: "If you can't keep up, don't step up. You'll only die." Chronicles of Riddick.

12. "I'm going to curl up in his sock drawer and sleep for days." MST3K riff in MST3K: The Movie: This Island Earth.

13. Dean Winchester: "Well, that's healthy." Supernatural, Pilot.

14. C-3PO: "Shutting up, sir." Star Wars: A New Hope.

15. Dr. Frank N. Furter: "What ever happened to Fay Wray? That delicate satin-draped frame...how it clung to her thigh as I started to cry... 'cause I wanted to be dressed just the same..." The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

16. Jim [wandering in an empty London]: "Hello! Hello -- hello! Hello!" 28 Days Later.

17. Temperance Brennan: "I don't know what that means." Bones, multiple episodes.

18. Plankton: "Well, goodbye, everyone. I'll remember you all in therapy!" Spongebob Squarepants, "The Algae is Always Greener."

19. Wesley Gibson [talking to Sloan who may, or may not, be trying to induct him into a secret brotherhood of assassins]: "So do you make sweaters or do you kill people?" Wanted.

20. Toshiko Sato: "Because you're breaking my heart." Torchwood, "Exit Wounds."

21. The Doctor: "Well, progress is a very flexible word. It can mean just about anything you want it to mean." Doctor Who, "The Power of Kroll."

22. Michael Corvin: "Are you fucking kidding me!" Underworld.

23. Mme. de Pompadour [talking to/about the Doctor]: "Such a lonely little boy. Lonely then and lonelier now." Doctor Who, "The Girl in the Fireplace."

24. Obi-Wan Kenobi, Anakin Skywalker: "We're smarter than this!" "Apparently not." Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith.

25. Marvin the Paranoid Android [about life in general...]: "I have this terrible pain in all the diodes down my left side..." The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.


Blog for Choice: The Radical Act of Trusting Others

Today is Blog for Choice Day 2010, coordinated by NARAL Pro-Choice America. I somehow missed the 2009 action day, but you can read my 2008 Blog for Choice post, The Radical Idea that I am a Person, in the blog archive.

So when I told Hanna that this year's theme for Blog for Choice Day was "trust women," her first response was "Are you fucking kidding me?! What a ridiculous statement! Jeeze -- ask anyone who's gone through a dyke break-up. Never trust women! Especially when they have the ability to make vital documents, irreplaceable vhs tapes, and cookbooks disappear!"

Which made me stop and think about what the theme implies. Because, to be honest, my own first response to the exhortation to "trust women" was not unlike Hanna's: what do you mean "trust women"? Just . . . because? Because they're women? Why should I? 'Cause women are only human after all: some trustworthy, some profoundly not. Which, to me, is both [the most obvious and the most radical claim of feminism]: that women are only human. And human beings run the gamut from completely trustworthy to completely untrustworthy and every point between. Ergo women, as individuals, are only as worthy of trust as our individual past and present actions warrant.

So why, then, is it important for pro-choice activists to make the case for trusting women? And what, exactly, does it mean to "trust women" in the specific context of reproductive rights?

I would argue that it is precisely because women -- particularly pregnant women -- as a class are not really seen as fully human that the idea of trusting them with moral and medical decision-making continues to be such a radical notion. Setting aside for a minute the question of abortion per se, within the past week I have seen multiple stories about pregnant women's right to bodily integrity and ability to consent to medical procedures challenged or violated with the support of the state. There was the story of Samantha Burton whose doctor got a court order to confine her in a hospital bed against her will when she disagreed with him about how best to proceed with her pregnancy care. A woman in Australia was visited by police when she resisted having her labor induced with the controversial drug pitocin. There have been a number of stories concerning the physical restraint of birthing women in prisons, who are often not able to labor in optimal positions because they're shackled to their beds. As I've written previously, women shouldn't have to give up their basic rights to bodily integrity and medical decision-making when they become pregnant, but the legal and cultural climate in the United States is such these days that many of us fear that's precisely what will happen.

So when we chellenge folks to "trust women," in part we're demanding to merely be treated with the amount of trust that adult citizens in America have a right to expect: a legal and social framework that "trusts" individuals with decisions regarding their own personal physical well-being and medical decision-making. That trusts us to make informed decisions. Yet over and over again, anti-choice activists have made it clear that they don't trust women. They fight to pass legislation that mandates physicians lie to us about our bodies, they harass us at clinics that provide health services and attempt to mislead us by dressing as clinic workers. If we trust women with the power to make decisions about their own well-being, these anti-choice activists seem to imply, the world will disintegrate before our very eyes.

Which brings me to the other implication of choosing to "trust women" with their reproductive agency. And I use the phrase "choosing to trust women" deliberately. Trusting other people with the agency to live their own lives is not necessarily something that comes easily to us: as human beings we often thrive on feeling in control of our environment (and by extension the people around us). Control can make us feel safe. But life simply doesn't work like that: we could drive ourselves mad attempting to control the lives and decisions of others -- and in the end, it would not make our lives richer or safer.

Choosing to "trust women," then, is choosing to "trust others": letting go of the burden of decisions that are not ours to make, and allowing those whose lives they directly affect (and who are best positioned to understand the ramifications of a given choice) to bear that responsibility. Because that's what being human requires: rights and responsibilities.

Last sunday I shared a link to a beautiful essay from The Guardian by a vicar, David Bryant, who had recently counseled a woman trying to decide whether or not to seek an abortion. His essay is worth reading in full, but I would like to quote here the final two paragraphs,

One of the blessings of our humanity is that we have a conscience. To opt out of using such a priceless gift is irresponsible. Of course there are immense dangers here. We may make ill-guided decisions. Our thinking may be warped and skewed. On occasion we will follow a course of action so crass or unsociable that it brings us up before the magistrate. But if we allow the church, the nanny state, the media or popular opinion to become our conscience, we lose our moral integrity.

I had no easy answers for the woman. All I could offer was compassion in her grief and sympathy for the agony of choice that lay ahead. We fixed a meeting for the following day, but I never saw her again. True, I had been non-directive, but I could be none other. "I am responsible for my very desire of fleeing responsibilities," said Jean-Paul Sartre. I believe he was right. That is why I could not decide the fate of the foetus for her.

What I appreciate so much about Bryant's argument is that he refuses to retreat to the (legitimate, but limited) language of legal rights, instead challenging us to see that trusting women with the responsibility of making deeply challenging moral decisions is not only a legal imperative but a moral (dare I say "religious"?) one.

So when a pro-choice activist says to you "trust women," pause for a moment and hear it for the truly radical challenge it is: a call to let go of the all-too-human impulse to control, and to allow some of the burden of responsibility to be lifted from your shoulders and taken on by someone else -- someone whom you might not know enough to personally trust, but whom you must share this earth with, and who may well surprise you with her ability to make the decision that is, in the end, the most life-giving for us all.

After all: in the end, what other choice do we have?

*image credit: amor! by slickerdrip @ flickr.com.


bullying = "childish"?: some reflections

Last week, Hanna found this story from the UK-based Independent on bullying at Universities and sent it to me (on the premise that I'm always interested in the education beat; see yesterday's rant about "liberal" academies) and, indeed, I was interested and started drafting a post about the problem of bullying and what folks who report on and attempt to combat bullying might learn from feminists who talk about "rape culture."

That's still a post I might write, since I think the analogy -- while imperfect -- helps to illuminate the way in which bullying is a systemic problem, one that continues because it's actually supported by a culture that condones and rewards bullying behavior.

But in the meantime, I kept coming back to the original Independent article because I was bothered by the way the problem of bullying was framed.

We all know bullying occurs in children’s playgrounds, inside and outside of secondary schools and sometimes even in the adult workplace, but what about University?

This supposed sanctuary of like minded scholars has become just another place in which people compete with each other for respect and social order, and bullying has followed with it.

A psychologist specialising in bullying, harassment and inter-personal relationships, Dr. Pauline Rennie-Peyton, recognises the possibility of being bullied in all stages of life, and confirms University is no exception.

“If people are taken out of their element, they become children,” she says.

“The problem with Universities and Colleges is that if we’re not careful, students there also become children. Just because bullying in Universities is not talked about, it doesn’t mean it is not happening. I have students [come to me] and they have to deal with racism, sexual and even intellectual jealousy.”

I think they get it right emphasizing that bullying behavior happens in many social environments and at all stages of life. What bothers me is the equation of bullying with a return to childhood. “If people are taken out of their element, they become children,” Dr. Rennie-Peyton says. And bullying is the natural result? Something just didn't sit right with me there, and it kept getting in the way of the whole "rape culture" argument I was trying to make.

Luckily, a few days after the post had stalled, Idzie @ I'm Unschooled. Yes, I Can Write came to my rescue with a well-timed blog post on being "childish."

When people use that word, when they say "childish", what they mean is that anything a child comes up with, any thought, opinion, emotion, is absolutely worthless and discard-able. To be a child is to have nothing of worth to show for yourself. It's an expression of ageism at it's very worst!

So when someone tells me that I'm being childish, they're not only insulting children everywhere, they're also telling me that my opinions are worthless. That they're short-sighted, uninformed, unimportant, and simply not worth paying any attention to.

So here's what I want to say (for now) about bullying, about bullying being framed as a child-like behavior, and about the idea that "becoming children" being a bad thing.

We choose, as a culture, to de-value being child-like, and to denigrate those who we believe are being "childish" (that is "short-sighted, uninformed, unimportant, and simply not worth paying any attention to"). It's certainly true that children can exhibit all of these behaviors -- just like any human being. All of us are, at times, short-sighted and uninformed. We all walk into situations where we feel out of our element. Yet these human qualities become strongly associated -- through language like "childish" -- with childhood. And because they are qualities our culture looks down upon (and experiences that make us feel uncomfortable: most people don't like to feel out of their element) children themselves become targets of suspicion, ill-temper, and blame simply for being young.

(The flip-side of the bundle of negative connotations associated with "childish" is, of course, that infants and children are also the venerated objects of adoration by our culture: the near-universal signifier of all things cute and precious, when in fact they are simply human. It's the childhood version of the virgin/whore dichotomy: children are either angelic objects to be cherished and protected or unruly demons to be feared and controlled -- neither approach considers children as human beings worthy of our individual respect as fellow-persons).

Bullying isn't something that naturally occurs in childhood -- it happens because young people learn that they can get what they want by manipulating power relationships. And that shrewd manipulation of power relations wins them respect and authority -- not just among their peers but among adults as well. Bullying is successful because our culture as a whole -- not just some segregated "childish" culture -- rewards bullying. We reward people who abuse their authority, and anyone who professes shock that bullying exists in grown-up spaces like university or work environments has really been deluding themselves.

This doesn't mean I don't think bullying is simply "human nature" and that speaking up or acting to prevent is will be ineffectual. After all, human beings do horrible things to each other that it is clearly in our "nature" to do (that is, we're capable of doing them), but which it is also in our "nature" to resist and condemn. People of all ages are capable of small-minded, vicious, and even evil acts; we are also all capable of empathy, compassion, love, and healing. Let's quit dividing the full range of human capacity up into artificial categories by age, just as we've started resisting the divisions of "masculine" and "feminine" attributes that pigeonhole multi-dimensional people into cramped boxes of gender-based expectations.


The limits of the "liberal" academy?

It's that time of year when all things academical start to grate on my nerves. So when lisa @ Sociological Images put up a post earlier today about a recent study by researchers Neil Gross and Ethan Fosse that seems to confirm the "professors skew liberal" stereotype, I grumbled my way over to check it out.

As studies go, it's making the relatively modest claim that about 43% of professors self-identify as "liberal," only 9% as "conservative," while the remaining are dumped in the "moderate" pot. As Lisa writes:

The study measured a number of reasons why college professors may be more liberal. Among others, they argued that already liberal people may be drawn to academia because they perceive that academics are liberal. That is, just as women are drawn to teaching and men to construction work because these jobs are gendered, academia is a politically-typed job that draws people who identify as liberal already.

They also speculate that the relative low pay, given the high educational attainment that the profession requires and high status that it brings, may lead professors to lean towards democratic principles of economic redistribution.

What caught my eye here was the emphasis on "democratic principles of economic redistribution." While I'm not arguing this isn't a laudable democratic concern, I notice that what is left out of the definition is any interest in deeper challenges to cultures of hierarchical authority (that is: a broader interest in small-d "democracy"). In fact, the argument seems to be that academics are pissed that "the high educational attainment that the profession requires and high status that it brings" result in professional academics who -- far from being invested in anti-hierarchical, democratic politics, are instead simply pissed off that their "high status" profession isn't rewarded financially.

Not that there isn't a reason to be pissed off about a system that requires a relatively high initial financial investment (re: student loans) when compared to future income. I just think that to equate that economic frustration with a more general "liberal" outlook on life points toward a very narrow definition of what liberal politics is about. In fact, it suggests that people who are upset about the so-called "liberal" academy should be far less threatened by academics than they profess to be: according to this study, anyway, even those 43% of faculty who self-identify as liberal may be less interested in questioning the hierarchical structure of society than they are about gaining access to it's upper economic echelons. In other words, they just want a bigger piece of the pie.

What this study tells me, actually, rather than confirming the "liberal" stereotype, is that if I want radical questioning of hierarchical power relations -- particularly as they relate to knowledge, education, and worth -- I'm probably going to have to look somewhere other than academe. (Or at least not expect to be welcomed with open arms when I keep asking "what legitimizes your authority?") Folks who are invested in the high social status their chosen profession brings them aren't going to be too excited about questioning whether that status has any deeper meaning or legitimacy.

You can read more about the study at Inside Higher Ed and find a PDF of Gross and Fosse's working paper, which I look forward to reading when I have the chance, at Neil Gross's web page.


from the neighborhood: january narcissus

It was a grey weekend here in Boston, and Hanna and I were both feeling a bit down, so when I walked up to Whole Foods for a few groceries and saw pots of yellow narcissus on sale, I decided we needed a pot. They always remind me of my grandmother's yard, which turns into a profusion of blooms in the Michigan spring, even before the snow has melted. I brought this bunch home when they were still green shoots and by Monday morning they were already starting to bloom. (Ianto, our philodendron pothos* is keeping a close watch over it in this picture, as is Hanna's crow who is currently perched between the alarm clock and Ianto and steadfastly refuses to reveal his true name.)

*corrected by my gardener friend Joseph; Ianto is now going through an identity crisis!


quick hit: dahlia does it again

Dahlia Lithwick on the Supreme Court's decision to ban broadcast of the circuit court trial of Perry v. Schwarzenegger, the legal challenge to Proposition 8 which overturned California's earlier law legalizing same-sex marriage.

Perry v. Schwarzenegger promises to be a sprawling exploration of every aspect of the fight over gay marriage. But beneath all of the social-science testimony and constitutional nitpicking lies a deep institutional anxiety about whether California's voters or unelected federal judges should be the arbiters of what marriage means. Opponents of liberal jurisprudence, and their pushy push to legalize gay marriage, have long argued against allowing unelected, sherry-sipping judges to substitute their values for those of the American people. As an argument, this has legs. It's populist. It's catchy. But it's hard to take it seriously when the same people making it also come out strongly against letting the people watch trials.

. . .

The absurdity of the court's meaningless distinction between broadcasting high-profile vs. low-profile cases is highlighted by the Supreme Court's own broadcasting policy: The court only provides same-day audio-casting of its own oral arguments that are of major public importance, or, as the court puts it, if there is a "heightened public interest" in the case. So, to be perfectly clear: The court only provides same-day broadcast in its most contentious, hot-button cases, but when the 9th Circuit attempts to do the same, the justices run away shrieking.

. . .

Putting aside the merits of the gay-marriage trial itself, in this new decision the Supreme Court has revealed something profound about its view of the American people. One cannot argue that the majority of California citizens wanted to ban gay marriage and should be respected while also claiming that supporters of such an initiative are a fragile, oppressed minority who must testify in dark sunglasses in dark rooms. Opponents of gay marriage can't have it both ways. If they want to say that unelected federal judges cannot subvert the will of John Q. Voter, then they cannot also insist that John Q. Voter be banned from witnessing federal judges at work.

On this Martin Luther King, Jr. day treat yourself to a mini civics lesson and go read the whole thing over at Slate.


sunday smut: links on sex and gender (no. 7)

Last week, Hanna found a wonderful opinion piece @ The Guardian by a vicar reflecting on his experience ministering to a woman considering abortion.

In a piece that relates to both human sexuality and information science, figleaf @ Figleaf's Real Adult Sex muses on the challenges of making research available for public analysis when so many journals are provided through astronomically expensive databases.

Miriam @ Radical Doula asks if "choice" is a poor frame for childbirth policy.

Jessica @ Feministing asks people who are against women's rights to stop identifying as feminists. "I don't believe that there's one 'true' feminist platform," she writes. "A huge part of the power of feminism today is its diversity of thought and the numerous intersecting political goals of the movement. But you have to draw a line somewhere. And women who actively hurt other women and aim to limit their choices and take away their rights are just not feminists." I would re-write that last sentence to say that people who actively hurt women and aim to limit their choices and take away their rights are just not feminists since I believe anyone can be a feminist . . . but otherwise, I'd say spot-on.

Charlie Glickman @ the Good Vibrations Magazine blog offers his own answer to the question "why use the word 'cisgender'?"

And while we're on the question of words, the Simmons Graduate School of Library and Information Science (GSLIS) podcast series presents an hour-long research colloquium presentation on "the classification and language of gender."

The Onion reports that a gay teenager in Louisville, Kentucky is worried he might be Christian. Setting aside the simplistic equation of "Christian" with "right-wing fundamentalist," it's a cute joke.

Linda Hirschman @ The Nation weighs in on the Supreme Court's decision against televising the circuit court oral arguments over Proposition 8 (California's same-sex marriage legislation). While tangentially a "gender and sexuality" story because of the nature of the case, I'm mostly just disappointed I won't get to hear or see any audio or visual clips of the legal process. Let's hope Nina Totenberg gets sent in to do NPR coverage!

Lisa @ Sociological Images points out that a stripped-down cell phone marketed for five-year-olds (yes, five-year-olds) assumes the child using the phone will be part of a two-parent, hetero family unit.

The anti-choice activist who murdered Dr. Tiller is being allowed to defend himself in court on the grounds that he killed Tiller out of the belief he was saving lives. Emily Bazelon @ Slate explains why this is a deeply problematic decision.

And Finally, Hanna and I commute passed the Planned Parenthood in our neighborhood every morning on the way to work, and often there are protesters outside -- though rarely more than a handful, and often only one woman with her posters and pamphlets. Still, on the occasions when I've walked by at the same time as someone was trying to enter the clinic, the harassment of young women (as likely to be going in for pelvic exams and birth control as abortion services) feels invasive -- even to me as a passer-by! It's amazing to me that the folks who picket Planned Parenthood believe they are being helpful. And yet, as Jos @ Feministing wrote this week, protesters often (disturbingly) believe that's exactly what they're doing.

*image credit: charcoal by fairsquare @ Flickr.com.


guest post: "quod.......the fuck"

Hanna reviews the Eddie Izzard show we saw on Tuesday. Cross-posted from ...fly over me, evil angel...

so a few last thoughts on the eddie izzard "big intimacy" show and then i promise i'll shut up about him for awhile.

as you may have noticed in my thursday post, anna and i had a phenomenal time at the show. neither of us are big on concerts, shows, or big arena-type events and it was the first time either of us had been at the banknorth garden. i have to say, though, for a relatively big event, the running of it was really smooth. the banknorth staff were really helpful and very polite. our tickets got upgraded very seriously at the last minute -- not that we realised this until we were sitting down and triangulated where our original tickets would have placed us -- and the process went really smoothly.

with the new tickets, we weren't quite "stage-side" but we were way closer than we would have been which was originally somewhere in the nosebleeds of the nosebleed section. we wouldn't really even have been able to see the jumbo-tron screens very well. as it was, we were about a dozen rows back from the seating on the actual floor and just about ideally placed to take advantage of the three gigantic screens on the stage. mr. izzard looked quite tiny by comparison to the giant digital versions of himself. he did realise this and made a point of telling the audience, particularly those in the front rows, that they weren't to feel obligated to try and look at him: "because, really, that guy up there? he's doing the exact same things as me. except -- maybe a bit slower."

honestly, i thought he was hilarious. three hours worth of pretty damn solid hilarious. when considering live performances, i try to take into account -- for some strange reason -- whether or not i could or would be willing to try and do the same kind of thing. in this case, hell, no. i am in awe of his skill at a) remembering material; b) handling an audience; and c) making them both seem effortless. i mean, i am sure he could recite this material if woken up out of a dead sleep he's said it that many times -- and it seemed new. it seemed as though he were just making some of it up for our benefit right then and there because he thought we'd think it was funny. making that kind of connection with an audience of several thousand people is a fucking impressive skill. this is why great rock band front men are great. the same skills apply here, i feel.

and you know what else is a fucking impressive skill? getting that same audience of several thousand people in tears of laughter over latin. latin, people. (i apologise for the sound quality on this one; it's a little dodgy. but also lots of thanks to anna for digging up all the youtube clips for me when i didn't have the time to do it in time to put this post up.)

i did have a moment or two of indecision when it came to using these at all since "no recording" rules were on the tickets. but then i decided...well, what the fuck. it really is too funny to give up the opportunity of illustrating my point with primary source material, so to speak.

the only real irritation in the show came from two young women seated behind anna and myself -- they left just after the start of the "second act," thank god, or i would've had to dopeslap them -- who insisted on critiquing the show quite audibly and discussing their social lives when they weren't commenting that, "oh, he's done that joke before" or "that's just what he did in st. louis." well, yes, probably both true. two essential points that you're missing here: a) he is here, now. why don't you shut up and enjoy the show in front of you? and b) there's a fine line between "recycled material" and "a long-standing joke with the fans" both of which he had but he mostly managed to keep the first feeling like the second. it has to do, i think, with the variety of characters he manages to summon up out of thin air to populate the stage and illustrate what he's talking about:

see what i mean? sheep, wolves, lots of persians, and spartans. all sort of magically there. not to mention the raptor with the trilby, a jazz chicken, mrs. badcrumble (yay!), god, noah, moses, and various other characters who floated by at one time or another.

and now because i must get back to the bread i'm trying to make and stop boring you all to death with my paean to eddie izzard, one last clip and you may return to your regularly scheduled saturday:


Quick Hit: Blog for Choice 2010 (Jan 22nd)

I just signed up for NARAL Pro-Choice America's Blog for Choice Day 2010. The theme for this year is "Trust Women" and bloggers are asked to write a post about what the statement means to them. Now I just have to think what I'm going to say! Check out NARAL's information about the action day for guidelines and to register your blog.


a "fear not!" angel

According to my mother, when I was a youngling my favorite character in the nativity play was the "fear not!" angel who comes to the shepherds in the field, in all his or her terrifying glory, to bring them "glad tidings of great joy" and generally scare their socks off. That's the sort of wonderful-terrible feeling this photograph, via the Londonist blog, inspired in me when it came across my RSS feeds a few days. Ago.

That and it reminded me of Blink.


guest post: holland, hope & homosexuality

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a response to Dustin Lance Black's op-ed, describing his experience this past fall in my home town of Holland, Michigan. I also invited one of my sister's friends, Arin Fisher -- a Hope College senior in creative writing (poetry) and self-described "closet pamphleteer" who was involved trying to bring Black to campus to write a guest post about his own experience of how Holland and Hope College deal with homosexuality. Without further ado, here's Arin.

I'm a gay cliché, especially recently. I'm now the gay who quotes Harvey Milk, gestures always with endearing melodrama, and isn't afraid to wear ivory post-Labor Day. As you may assume, my behavior is a red-flag to hicks everywhere, especially at home in Indian River, that I'm a goddam homsexshul. I make trite jokes about the gay agenda and how, due to mail-error, the conservos always receive my copies. Fuck me.

But I wasn't always so gay. I was the kid whose first very secret crush committed suicide, who went on short term mission trips with Global Expeditions, whose reorientation therapy failed (whose therapist's son was gay, too, and who taught me a few of the tricks I now know), and who applied to all the conservative colleges in Michigan, including Hillsdale, and was accepted with enormous scholarships because of my promise in right-wing politics. But I chose Hope for the mentors who, like me, struggled to come to terms with their sexuality and who married women and led what many believed to be perfectly normal straight lives.

Freshman year I followed my RA, Erin, to a Gay Straight Forum meeting at a wee white house just off-campus, but then I passed the house, peaking as covertly as possible through cracks in the lacy curtains before looping back toward my dorm, spooked by the perceived threat of association and other threatening receptions from the gay people in the house. I thought quietly [righteously] that had I gone there to listen to the conversations, they'd know that I'm queer. Gawd.

Growing up in northern Michigan, I was skilled -- I skirted every gay man I encountered. Those gays whose friendship I began to value, I diligently offended. All those whom I crushed on, I cut out of my life because I was Christian, and you know the story. I elegantly employed these hard-learned skills. I learned that to avoid other gay men, I must avoid situations where gay men would be present. All to say: I'm unaware of any concerted effort to dialog about sexuality apart from the Mel White battle in the late 90s as I spent a majority of the past three years praying the gay away.*

You might aim blame at me for Lance's misinformation. I briefed him from my experience which was teleologically sub-gay until fall 2008. Now that I'm more on the front-lines in terms of having "friendly" conversations with the Dean of the Chapel and "friendly" discussions with the Dean of the Students and organizing 501c3 LGBT groups, I'm doing more research, both personal and academic, in hopes of self-informing enough to competently reflect informed LGBT students to the higher-ups at Hope and in the community. I'm happy that I've been able to contribute a little to the conversation, if not always in the most informed way, at least in a way that adds Dustin Lance Black and my supreme penchant for melodrama to the coveted repertoire of Hope's self-consciousness of diversity.

~Arin Fisher.

*Editor's footnote: "the Mel White battle" Arin refers to is the period I described briefly in an earlier post. Former Christian right activist turned gay Christian author Mel White was invited by a coalition of campus groups to speak at Hope in response to another guest speaker, Mario Bergner, a conservative ex-gay therapist, brought in by the campus ministry as part of a chapel series on Christian love.