Friday, January 31, 2003

Anti-war Poetry Power

(Read the entire post on my blog here.)

Earlier this week, I got an email forwarded to me by a friend of mine who is a member of the National Association for Poetry Therapy.

The original email sent by Sam Hamill, a poet and editor of the highly regarded Copper Canyon Press, asked that every poet speak up for the conscience of our country and lend his or her name to our petition against this war, and to make February 12 a day of Poetry Against the War. We will compile an anthology of protest to be presented to the White House on that afternoon. Read about the history of the effort here. And if you want to submit a poem or statement of conscience, email it to kokua@olympus.net. I already did.
Look-a-like-Competition

Okay, so this is old new by now, but, none the less, very funny. The UK-based newspaper, The Evening Standard, states that a Russian law firm is reportedly taking legal action against the special effects people who dreamt up Dobby (from Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets), arguing that the animated elf has been modelled on Russian president, Vladimir Putin.


Dobby = Putin

Really? Do you see a resemblance? Naw, nor did I!

Thursday, January 30, 2003

Today's Puzzle

I've scanned in two quarters from my purse (by the way-I find purses very annoying, but I don't like fanny packs either, and my jean pockets aren't always big enough). Found some strange things about one, but why would anyone copy a quarter? The engraving looks great. I posted the pics at my blog. Can you see what I see? -Jennifer

A way to help missing children

If you've ever heard about a missing child and wanted to help, here is something you can do. Please go to codeamber.org and sign up for Amber alerts by e-mail and/or put a ticker up on your webpage. It certainly can't hurt, and you never know when you might be able to help a child.

Wednesday, January 29, 2003

oops, meant to post the second one on my blog...

on my way over there to do so.... slip-a-the-post.

calling doctor blogger?

Any medical bloggers out there want to tell me if this kind of thing is common?. With three abdominal surgeries under my belt--or should I say uterus--I am feeling quite faint at the prospect of a Texas A&M logo branded on my most private of privates.

g--a--g.

Thanks (I think) dearest for the link.

OH NO he DIDN'T!

Oh yes he did.

This popular OB branded a patient's uterus with his alma mater insignia before removing it during a hysterectomy. The patient, who later saw the good doctor carving his UK Medical School john hancock into her womb while reviewing a video tape of the operation, says this:

"It was a mockery to my body," Means said. "This was an organ that created my two beautiful children, and I wanted it discarded with respect. And it wasn't. It was used as a toy in the operating room without my consent.... So I felt as though I was an insignificant person. I question, would he have done this to the governor's wife or someone of great importance?"

I completely agree with her.

Means goes on to say that the event has affected her marriage and children... that her children "are offended by just looking at a UK sign."

I don't know that I would have involved my children in my hysteria, but hey, I sure would have been FIT TO BE TIED, no pun intended. And I'm not sure what kind of husband she has if he's so concerned about "claiming loss of companionship because of the strain the incident has put on their relationship" rather than visiting Dr. Guiler and doing a little branding of his own.

But if they can make a buck off of this while putting Dr. Guiler out of business, all the better for everyone. The woman, at least, deserves it.

And thanks to George for the link.

Tuesday, January 28, 2003

(cross-posted at my blog)

Dammit, I'm proud to be an American.

But why do I feel somewhat guilty in writing that phrase?

Tonight I watched my first State of the Union address, while living in a foreign country. It was a bit weird. For one, none of the 3 channels in the apartment carried it, so I had to scamper online to find a live feed. While watching the tiny screen on my laptop, I felt all sorts of things. I felt a bit disconnected -- I think that is largely due to the fact I'm so far away from home (not necessarily US, but a long ways from GA!). Up here there's been more protesting about the upcoming military action, so I haven't been as swamped with newscasts about it like I would be back home. Then again, if I was back home I think I would be feeling the pressure in a different sense -- mainly due to the fact Savannah is within an hour's distance of 2 large Army bases (whose troops have already been deployed).

I think that I'm definitely more sensitive to the language Bush used in his speech. Being away from the American media, plus back in a rhetorical frame of mind, helps with that I'm sure. It was interesting to note the different times he used the ploy "We're Americans and can do whatever we feel right" along with appeals to the international community and cooperation. I think the former largely outweighed the latter.

That's where I feel so torn. I mean, America is my home. I love the fact that I can call myself an American -- despite the popular notion it is to bash it and condemn its policies. And by bashing it I don't just mean here in Canada -- even back home its sometimes viewed as "academic" to be critical of many elements of "American-ness" (yes, I just made up a word, thank-you-very-much!).

So while I'm proud of my identity in some ways, I'm also very troubled by certain aspects of it.

It bothers me that so much of our nation's intentions are prefaced by the fact we're doing this "because we're America." Hearing statements like these bothered me:

In all of these efforts, however, America’s purpose is more than to follow a process - it is to achieve a result: the end of terrible threats to the civilized world. All free nations have a stake in preventing sudden and catastrophic attack. And we are asking them to join us, and many are doing so. Yet the course of this Nation does not depend on the decisions of others. Whatever action is required, whenever action is necessary, I will defend the freedom and security of the American people.

[...]

The world has waited 12 years for Iraq to disarm. America will not accept a serious and mounting threat to our country, and our friends, and our allies. The United States will ask the UN Security Council to convene on February 5th to consider the facts of Iraq’s ongoing defiance of the world. Secretary of State Powell will present information and intelligence about Iraq’s illegal weapons programs; its attempts to hide those weapons from inspectors; and its links to terrorist groups. We will consult, but let there be no misunderstanding: If Saddam Hussein does not fully disarm, for the safety of our people, and for the peace of the world, we will lead a coalition to disarm him.

But he did raise some vaild points, regarding Saddam -- in addition to the facts he laid out about disregarding UN regulations:

Some have said we must not act until the threat is imminent. Since when have terrorists and tyrants announced their intentions, politely putting us on notice before they strike? If this threat is permitted to fully and suddenly emerge, all actions, all words, and all recriminations would come too late. Trusting in the sanity and restraint of Saddam Hussein is not a strategy, and it is not an option.

While that's a tad bit overstated, I do think there's some merit in what's behind it.

The highlight of the speech, for me:

Ladies and gentlemen, seldom has history offered a greater opportunity to do so much for so many. We have confronted, and will continue to confront, HIV/AIDS in our own country. And to meet a severe and urgent crisis abroad, tonight I propose the Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief - a work of mercy beyond all current international efforts to help the people of Africa. This comprehensive plan will prevent seven million new AIDS infections … treat at least two million people with life-extending drugs … and provide humane care for millions of people suffering from AIDS, and for children orphaned by AIDS. I ask the Congress to commit 15 billion dollars over the next five years, including nearly ten billion dollars in new money, to turn the tide against AIDS in the most afflicted nations of Africa and the Caribbean.
This Nation can lead the world in sparing innocent people from a plague of nature. And this Nation is leading the world in confronting and defeating the man-made evil of international terrorism.


Interesting transition -- from peaceful relief efforts, right into the bit on terrorism. I really hope he means to follow through on this promise of AIDS relief, and isn't just using it as speech fodder to lesson the "big-bully" worldview of the US. It's something we should have been doing *years* ago, in my opinion.

And finally, the big closer:

Americans are a resolute people, who have risen to every test of our time. Adversity has revealed the character of our country, to the world, and to ourselves.
America is a strong Nation, and honorable in the use of our strength. We exercise power without conquest, and we sacrifice for the liberty of strangers.
Americans are a free people, who know that freedom is the right of every person and the future of every nation. The liberty we prize is not America’s gift to the world, it is God’s gift to humanity.
We Americans have faith in ourselves - but not in ourselves alone. We do not claim to know all the ways of Providence, yet we can trust in them, placing our confidence in the loving God behind all of life, and all of history.
May He guide us now, and may God continue to bless the United States of America.


Again with the mixing of God and politics. I'm finding that this is a trait that is very-American. You don't ever hear any Canadian officials ranting, "God Bless Canada!" It's definitely a loaded statement. While I hope that God does continue to bless my country, I don't want that blessing at the expense of other countries. "God Bless America" is an interesting type of enthymeme. In other words, there's a whole lot of assumptions left out of that conclusion. If "God Blesses America", does that mean he then punishes its enemies (or at least gives them a disadvantage to the US)? Does that statement mean that God should only bless America? All of a sudden, I'm not so comfortable with that statement's hidden meanings.

That said, I am appreciative of the fact that I can question my government and country without fear of reprisal. And its late now so I should get some sleep.

When in Rome, do as the Romans Do?

Today in Sociology we discussed many things, one being cultural differences and laws in different countries.

For example: Two brothers from the Middle East, ages 34 and 28 came to live in Nevada. They were charged with first degree statutory rape because their wives are 13 and 14 years old.

Is this fair? More questions raised at my blog>>

Title IX, again

Today's Op-Ed in the New York Times, "Wrestling with Title IX" by John Irving: (My Letter to the Editor in response to this piece is posted below it)

January 28, 2003

Wrestling With Title IX
By JOHN IRVING

ORSET, Vt.
Title IX, the federal law that prohibits sex discrimination in educational programs receiving federal assistance, may be in for an overhaul. This week a committee appointed by the Bush administration will hold its final meetings before submitting its recommendations for changing the law to Secretary of Education Rod Paige. Since Title IX was enacted in 1972, it has been the subject of debate — much of it misguided — about its application to college athletics. At issue now is how to alter the law — or not — so that, as Secretary Paige has put it, we can find ways of "expanding opportunities to ensure fairness for all college athletes."

I hope the commission will realize that what's wrong with Title IX isn't Title IX. What's wrong is that, in practice, there are two Title IX's. The first Title IX was the one passed by Congress in 1972 to put an end to sex discrimination in schools — good for the original Title IX! The second Title IX, the one currently enforced, is the product of a policy interpretation in 1979 by the Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (but never debated or approved by Congress) — and which is functioning as a gender quota law.

In its prohibition against sex discrimination, the 1972 law expressly states as "exceptions" any "preferential or disparate treatment because of imbalance in participation" or any "statistical evidence of imbalance." In English, this means that Congress recognized that the intent of Title IX was not to establish gender quotas or require preferential treatment as reparation for past discrimination. Smart thinking — after all, the legislation was intended to prohibit discrimination against either sex.

But what happened in 1979 — and in subsequent re-evaluations of the law — has invited discrimination against male athletes. The 1979 interpretation required colleges to meet at least one of the following three criteria: that the number of athletes from each sex be roughly equivalent to the number of students enrolled; that colleges demonstrate a commitment to adding women's sports; and that they prove that the athletic interests of female students are effectively accommodated. The problems lie in complying with the first criterion. In order to achieve gender proportionality, men's collegiate sports are being undermined and eliminated. This was never the intention of Title IX.

The proportionality rule stipulates that the ratio of male to female athletes be proportionate to the ratio of male to female students at a particular college. On average, females make up about 56 percent of college enrollment, males 44 percent; for most colleges to be in compliance with proportionality, more than half the athletes on team rosters must be women. Can you imagine this rule being applied to all educational programs — classes in science, engineering, accounting, medicine or law? What about dance, drama or music — not to mention women's studies?

In 1996, the Department of Education further bolstered the proportionality zealots by requiring colleges to count every name on a team's roster — scholarship and nonscholarship athletes, starters and nonstarters. It is this ruling that has prompted a lawsuit by the National Wrestling Coaches Association, the Committee to Save Bucknell Wrestling, the Marquette Wrestling Club, the Yale Wrestling Association, and the National Coalition for Athletics Equity, all of whom argue that the 1996 rules exceed the Department of Education's statutory authority "by effectively mandating the very discrimination that Title IX prohibits."

Why are wrestlers so upset about this? The number of collegiate wrestling programs lost to Title IX compliance is staggering; this is especially alarming because, since 1993, wrestling has been a rapidly growing sport at the high-school level. Data compiled by Gary Abbott, director of special projects at USA Wrestling, indicates that in 2001, there were 244,984 athletes wrestling in high school; only 5,966 got to wrestle in the National Collegiate Athletic Association. Not to put too fine a point on it: there is only one N.C.A.A. spot for every 41 high-school wrestlers. The numbers have been going downhill for a while. In 1982, there were 363 N.C.A.A. wrestling teams with 7,914 wrestlers competing; in 2001, there were only 229 teams with fewer than 6,000 wrestlers. Yet, in that same period, the number of N.C.A.A. institutions has increased from 787 to 1,049. No wonder wrestlers are unhappy.

As for the virtual elimination of walk-ons (nonscholarship athletes) in many men's sports, and the unrealistic capping of male team rosters — again, to make the number of male athletes proportional to the number of females — the problem is that athletic programs are going to absurd lengths to fill the unfilled rosters for women's teams. But women, statistically, aren't interested in participating in intercollegiate athletics to the degree that men are. J. Robinson, wrestling coach at the University of Minnesota, cites intramural sports, which are wholly interest driven, as an example. In a column about Title IX published in the Chronicle of Higher Education, Robinson wrote that "men outnumber women 3-1 or 4-1 on the intramural field."

Don't we need to know the exact numbers for how many women are interested in playing college sports now? But the Women's Sports Foundation, an advocacy group that favors maintaining proportionality, opposes conducting surveys of incoming students — that is, expressly to gauge interest in athletics. These surveys, they say, would force "female athletes to prove their interest in sports in order to obtain the right to participate and be treated fairly." But men would fill out the same surveys.

One suggestion that the presidential commission is considering is counting the available spots on teams, rather than the actual participants. The Women's Sports Foundation rejects this idea, arguing that it counts "ghost female participants." However, the foundation has no objection to counting interest that isn't there.

In fact, those women's groups opposed to tampering with either the 1979 interpretation or the 1996 ruling, which endorses the proportionality arm of Title IX, often argue that there are three ways (at least on paper) for an institution to comply with Title IX — not just proportionality. But only proportionality can be measured concretely. A 1996 clarification letter from the Department of Education refers to the proportionality test as a "safe harbor" — meaning that this simple-to-apply numerical formula can assure an athletic director and a university president that their institution is in compliance and not subject to legal action. In other words, proportionality is not only wrong — it's lazy.

Some women's advocates argue that it is not proportionality that forces athletic directors to cut men's teams; they blame the budget excesses of Division I football and men's basketball. But there are countless examples where money was not the issue in the case of the sport that was dropped. Marquette University had a wrestling team that was completely financed by alumni and supporters; yet the sport was dropped in 2001, to comply with gender equity. (Marquette has no football team.)

Boston College dropped three sports that had only part-time coaches and offered no scholarships; these sports could easily have been sponsored by fund-raising. Keep in mind, too, that the majority of male college teams dropped in the 1990's were from Division II and Division III programs, which don't have big-time football or men's basketball.

 Furthermore, many Division I football and basketball programs earn millions of dollars a year, enough to support all the other sports programs — men's and women's. Moreover, most schools with high-profile football programs are schools where women's teams have thrived. (Witness the Big 10, the S.E.C., the Big 12 and other Division I athletic conferences, which have produced both winning football teams as well as great women's teams in other sports.)

While eliminating men's sports like wrestling, where the interest in participation is increasing, athletic programs go begging to find women athletes to fill the vacancies on an ever-expanding number of women's teams.

One of the most ludicrous examples of this was the attempt by Arizona State University in Tempe — a cactus-studded campus in the middle of the Sonoran Desert — to add a competitive women's rowing team. There's not a lot of water in Arizona. But the school asked the city to create a body of water (by flooding a dry gulch) on which the team could practice. Because of a lack of funds, the school had to drop the plan. This is probably just as well; taxpayer dollars would have financed scholarships either to rowers from out of state or to teach Arizona women (most of whom have never held an oar) how to row. But Arizona State is to be commended. It not only worked to meet the numerical demands of proportionality, it tried to adhere to the original spirit of Title IX by adding opportunities for women, not by cutting opportunities for men.

To apply the rule of proportionality to men's and women's collegiate athletics amounts to a feminist form of sex discrimination. And I won't be dismissed by that other argument I've heard (ad nauseam) from those women's advocates unwilling to let proportionality go — namely, that to oppose proportionality, or even the crudest enforcement of Title IX to eliminate men's sports programs, is tantamount to being antifeminist and hostile to women in sports. Don't try to lay that on me.

I am a women's advocate. I have long been active in the pro-choice movement; my principal political commitment is my longstanding and continuing role as an abortion-rights advocate. But I'm also an advocate of fairness. What is unfair is not Title IX — it is Title IX's enforcement of proportionality, which discriminates against men.

In 1992, Brian Picklo, a walk-on, asked the Michigan State Wrestling coach, Tom Minkel, if he could try out for the team. Picklo had wrestled for only two years in high school and never qualified for state tournaments. Minkel thought Picklo's chances of wrestling in the Big 10 were "slim to none." But Picklo became a two-time Division I All-American, and he won the Big 10 title at 190 pounds. In most wrestling programs across the country today, Brian Picklo wouldn't be allowed to be a walk-on.

Title IX, the original legislation, was conceived as a fairness-for-all law; it has been reinvented as a tool to treat men unfairly. Advocates of proportionality claim that universities that are not "proportional" are breaking the law, but they're not breaking the original law.

The Women's Sports Foundation has accused the presidential commission of politicizing Title IX. But Title IX was politicized by the Department of Education in 1979 and 1996 — during Democratic administrations. Is it only now political because a Republican administration is taking a closer look at the way Title IX is applied? (I make this criticism, by the way, as a Democrat. I'd have a hard time being an abortion rights advocate in the Bush administration, wouldn't I?)

Based on 2001 membership data — raw data from the National Federation of State High Schools, and from the N.C.A.A. — for every single N.C.A.A. sports opportunity for a woman, there are 17 high school athletes available to fill the spot; for a man, there are 18. Isn't that equal enough? In fact, women have more opportunity to compete in college than men do. Yet the attitude represented by the Women's Sports Foundation, and other women's groups, is that women are far from achieving gender equity; by their continuing endorsement of proportionality in collegiate athletics, these women's advocates are being purely vindictive.

Years ago, I was playing in a Little League baseball game when an umpire made what I thought was a memorable mistake. Later, in another game, he made it again. I realized it was no mistake at all — he meant to say it. Instead of hollering "Play ball!" at the start of the game, this umpire shouted "Play fair!"

Keep Title IX; eliminate proportionality. Play fair.


My letter to the Editor in response:
To the Editor:

I take serious exception with John Irving’s January 28, 2003 Op-Ed piece "Wrestling with Title IX."

Title IX was created because we lived—and continue to live—in a man-centric world. Mr. Irving only serves to exacerbate this point by arguing in defense of male "victims" of Title IX as he views its application today.

The bottom line is that Title IX is not about men. It is about increasing the opportunities for women in athletics that were virtually non-existent before its inception. He argues that "statistically," "women aren’t interested in participating in intercollegiate athletics to the degree that men are." Marcia Greenberger, co-president of the National Women’s Law Center (a major Title IX creator and supporter) effectively speaks out against this narrow-minded viewpoint when she expresses the danger in this thought process. After all, according to Ms. Greenberger, if we accept that premise how long will it take before we start believing again that girls don't want to work in math or science or tech, since lower numbers of women are involved in those fields?

The idea that (female) participation relates not to encouragement from an early age (let’s not forget that women started in 1972—only thirty years ago—from virtually nothing) but to lack of interest in sports or any area of life is a shocking gender stereotype from a person who purports to be a "woman’s advocate."

Monday, January 27, 2003

Drink to My Health

Has there been a more germ-ridden winter than this one?

I'm having difficulty remembering one. Pernicious stomach viruses have made the rounds during the last couple of months, as well as various upper respiratory ailments. My husband has been sick since last week and I expect I'm starting to catch the same thing.

There's irony everywhere in this story, of course. My husband, for instance, never takes medicine, eschews doctors, takes vitamins only if badgered and is hit or miss about healthy food. I, in contrast, exercise, eat healthy, go to bed early, and use medicine if needed. Oh yeah, and I did get a flu shot.

Ironically, he gets sick about once or twice a year, but is rarely sick enough to disrupt his daily life. When I get sick, though, I pull out all the stops, with colds that require multitudes of Kleenex, Technicolor intestinal viruses, mysterious fevers, and more.

Here's a sampling:
1999: Laid low by strep throat for nearly a month, possibly contracted from recycled airplane air. Nasty byproduct was exposure to industrial-strength antibiotic that cleared up strep, but left me unable to eat for weeks.
1998: Contracted "throat thing" that induces laryngitis. Nasty byproduct was that I was barely able to speak to anyone at my mother-in-law's funeral.
1989: Endured a winter of chronic bronchitis, brought on by rock & roll lifestyle and smoking. Nasty byproduct was that I managed to graduate from college on time anyway.
1986: Contracted bizarre virus that induces fatigue and dizziness, but no palpable symptoms. Nasty byproduct was multiple visits to the student health center to have blood drawn by people who apparently were still learning this procedure. Had bruises.
1980: Contracted flu that induced a 50% absentee rate at my junior high. Missed a week of school, but in eighth grade, there was nothing going on anyway. Nasty byproduct was that I was so bored at home, I got unreasonably mad at the dog.
1972 or 73: Can't remember what induced a raging-high fever, for which the doctor prescribed putting me in a bath of ice cubes. Nasty byproduct was that I was sick, sleepy, feverish, and COVERED IN ICE.

To be fair, though, none of these things have been seriously debilitating. In fact, I've never been seriously injured or hospitalized in my life, which is a pretty good track record.

But oh, I am not looking forward to the next couple of days. If serious illness results, count on irrational posts such as these:

7 a.m. Called in sick to work again. Listened to voice mail. Cried.
10 a.m. Tried to open bottle of Tylenol. Child-proof cap was uncooperative. Cried.
5 p.m. Still watching television. Got unreasonably angry at cat. Cried.


Raise an echinacea cocktail for me.

(Crossposted at Bells and Whistles)

BlogSister Housekeeping Requests

I've been registering new sistahs like crazy over the past month, and I know that I haven't gotten all of them on the blogroll. So, please, if you don't see your name and link over there on the left, email me with your url and the name by which you want to be listed. And, while you're at it (and that goes for everyone!) the next time you log on, click on "Team" up there in the tool bar, then click on your name, then cliick on the "Edit My Profile" up there in the upper right corner, and at least let us know where you are living on this planet.

Finally, send your bio to Andrea (see here). I now return you to your regualr programming.

In a post-Super Bowl haze.

I just posted a longish rant about misogyny in advertising over at my blog, with links to further reading for those who want to "drill down." Here's part of the post:

There's a reason I don't watch football, and it's not that I find the idea of big, burly men running into each other with the objective of causing great bodily harm to be absolutely brutal and asinine. No, after watching Super Bowl XXVII in all its mindless glory, the point was driven home boob shot after ass shot after boob shot after ass shot: I don't watch football out of principle stemming from the misogynistic trash that permeates almost all the empty, non-game-play airtime. ... The delightful male company with whom I watched the game were courteous enough not to get too excited every time the TV ad came on with those two barely-clad chicks running on the beach with overly clad hockey and football players. They also were savvy enough to groan at all the "Alias" ads featuring the (yes, gorgeous) Jennifer Garner vamping for the TV audience in an assortment of trashy lingerie. "It's come to THIS? So much for subtlety," they said. (Um, like lack of subtlety is new in football ad programming?) They were a tad ecstatic for the new "Charlie's Angels," but the cheers and hand slapping were less for Cameron Diaz and Lucy Liu and more for the presence of Bernie Mac--apparently the new male icon for "cool." I'll give 'em that.

But those were the boys in my circle. What I couldn't help thinking about--and what turned my stomach and pummeled my psyche, driving my body deeper and deeper into the sofa until I was nothing but a pancake saturated with disgust--was the reaction of the millions of men not in my circle. I know the guys I was hangin' with yesterday are sensible and sensitive, and attuned to negative, misogynistic stereotypes reinforced by this kind of broadcast. (Right, guys?) But there are a whole lot of men out there who don't go that deep.

So what do they come away from that game with? Probably without even realizing it? An outrageously skewed impression of women's purpose on the planet. Watch the Super Bowl and you learn that: (a) men are the aggressors, and women are around to be subordinate to men, present only to cheer them on (ideally while jiggling big balls of streamers along with their bodies); (b) men are sexy beasts, and women are here to satisfy male sexual fantasies; (c) men try to be there for women, but come on--women just get in the way during important things like TV-broadcast sporting events (the commercial where the guy tuned out the woman so that as she spoke, a football announcer's voice replaced hers; and at the end, as he comes back to reality, she calls him "such a good listener," making her seem not only unimportant to the action, but also plain stupid); and (d) men are hilarious, but women are entertaining only when they're nearly naked or are easy targets to be the butt (sometimes quite literally) of men's jokes.

Women are beautiful. But what you don't get when you watch things like football is the real qualities that make them beautiful. Men in the games and ads are portrayed as strong, funny, witty, intelligent, exciting and downright badass. But in real life, women are all those things too. And in watching, you'd never know it.

Sunday, January 26, 2003

Typing Upside-Down

You know those Looney Toon cartoons where Bugs Bunny gets lost while he's burrowing around in the ground and suddenly pops up in China, but the camera is upside-down? Well, that's how I'd be if I was a cartoon.

Just in case you haven't been checking in on my personal blog, this Sister has completed the easy part of her journey from small-town western Washington to the grand city of Sydney, Australia-- the easy part being the plane ride. Now I've got culture shock, digestive problems, getting a working visa and getting a life to deal with. Ah well, at least the weather's hot and beautiful for the most part. Maybe I'll just go to the beach some more.

As technical officer of this blog, please feel free to continue to email me if you have questions or need help of a technical nature. Just keep in mind that at the moment my 'net access is limited, so be patient with me. Also keep in mind that, depending on where you are in the world, I may be keeping very different hours now!

Signing off from the other side of the world...

Saturday, January 25, 2003

Today (1-25-03); courtesy of avant.com for Salon.com news channel. Book Recommendation: "Global Woman" by Barbara Ehrenreich and Arlie Russell Hochschild.

Technology News: "Subcontracting the Kids" by A.R.H (global woman co author). Very timely and enlightening esp. after la times article about a family that auctioned themselves on eBay just to stay afloat in these trying economic times.

Hours, Days, Years

Jennifer Balderama posts this ee cummings quote:
Stolen wisdom: to be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.

I saw the movie “The Hours” tonight. It’s a movie about that battle.

As Blog Sisters registrar, I’ve been registering new sistahs almost every day, many of them young enough to be my granddaughters. Their blogs tend to be about that battle.

The Blog Sisters who’ve been there from the beginning – Jeneane, Shelley, Halley – never stop fighting to be nobody but themselves. They blog their struggles, their questions, their answers – refusing to become everybody else. Their posts are about that battle.

(Read the whole and rest of the rant here.)
testing from avantblog download to handheld; palmm100. Anyone else tried it?

George Bush--urban cowboy?!!

Watching a news conference with George Bush makes me want to gag--why must he wear the cowboy hat? Isn't his outlaw/old west/manifest destiny attitude bad enough? must he reveal himself via clothing choices to be the stick up the butt/devalue the choices of American people/moral policeman politician that he is? Don't try to be cool George. Your heavy handed policy choices are not cool.

Also, just to comment on Glovefox's blog that the Chinese have long memories (i know, the post was about bullying, this is just an aside), I'm reading Amy Tan's The Bonesetter's Daughter, which is all about the Chinese having long memories, among other things. I really enjoy her writing, but many individuals whom I admire, including my World Lit by Women prof, degraded her writing, saying that she's a fluff author, a John Grisham or Mary Higgins Clark for the ethnic set. I've read all of Tan's books, and have enjoyed them all, and while I am not above literary snobbery, I just don't agree with that mindset. Just wondering how any who have read/critiqued Tan's work may feel about this. I do admit that her whole "rock band" with Stephen King seemed like really self-serving preening, I can not defend that, but her writing on the whole is really representative of the Asian/American, Chinese/American experience. If you're interested in East-Asian American women writers you should also check out Gish Jen.

Friday, January 24, 2003

Advice on peace activism wanted, please.

I'm really excited! I'm going to take part in my first anti-war demonstration. Actually, there are only just a few of us who are going to banner over a freeway bridge, and carry signs. The organizer has told me that it is a very informal, almost impromptu event. I'm just wondering if there's anything that anyone here thinks I should know, or be prepared for. Thanks!!!!!!

Blogging=too much time on the computer!

I came across an interesting story titled, "Aesthetic Impacts of Population Dynamics" Which explains the changes in population and beauty ideals. Also came across notes from the NARAL Roe VS Wade dinner. It's late, I need to go to bed so sorry if I don't post more. You can read more stuff in my blog if you like. Blogging is way too addictive!!! I'm not getting anything else done. -Jennifer Medlock

On Bullying

I've always believed, deep down inside, that the Chinese have exceptionally long memories. We remember a lot--if not all--of things that have passed, especially trespasses against ourselves and our families. How else can one explain why there's such a long tradition of "revenge" myths and plots in our martial arts fiction? You know--young boy sees family killed, seeks out famed Kungfu master, studies and endures years of torturous training and humiliation before finally executing complete and painstaking--often very painful--revenge on those who have taken his family away from him. There's even a Chinese proverb that hints at getting back one's own at one's detractors--"Leave in rags and shame, come back in fine brocade with a retinue." To be able to exact payback/revenge/counter-humiliation seems to be a path to "closure" (as American shrinks term it) for the Chinese. As Lindo Jong in Amy Tan's The Joy Luck Club tells her daughter, Waverly: "Chinese torture best torture!"

It might be essentialist of me to generalise like that about my ethnic culture and group, but as with all stereotypes, there is a grain of truth in there somewhere.

Late at night, when I can't sleep but my Inner Charlie's Angel and Inner Pragmatic Woman is silent, a little voice from the past whispers to me, reminding me of where I came from and why I landed up where I am at the moment.

You see, many people see me as a poised, confident and bright young Rhodes scholar--one of those overachievers and high-maintenance divas who don't know what it's like to be unpopular, to suffer any form of hardship. However, underneath this mask, there is actually a very hurt little girl who is still nursing her wounds from her growing pains, who still curls up and cries sometimes. The grown woman may look impervious to life's knocks but inside, she's still as fragile as an egg with a few cracks delicately flowering over her nerves and heart.

That Little Voice reminds me that I got to where I am because I was bullied for thirteen years in school--all through primary school right up until I graduated from high school. That Little Voice tells the truth when it says that I've achieved all that I have, that I have so much ambition, that I crave stability and security--particularly in terms of my emotional life--because I want to forever stave off being bullied as I was in school.

Sometimes, when I feel happy about my life or when I go out with my friends who actually like me for who I am, I can hardly believe it. I can hardly believe that people actually like me for me or that life has turned out so much better than I could ever have imagined while I was in school.

Sometimes, I feel like I am wearing masks. That I am a fraud--the sweet, sunny woman my current friends generally know me as couldn't be me. Of course, my Inner Pragmatic Woman and Inner Charlie's Angel both try to keep That Little Voice--that carries all my doubts and insecurities in it--silent. They say to me: The person that you were is not the person that you are now. So move on. Be happy.

But That Little Voice sometimes refused to be silence. It's That Little Voice who surfaces, especially when I have doubts about my life and my self.

I read my autobiography so far and I see where That Little Voice originated from. Like all children who were different in any way, I suffered for my difference. And even now, when I hear of the rise of bullying in schools and when I see little children and teenagers being bullied, I weep inside for them and I step in to stop it when I can and am able to do so.

For those who were bullied, I know the emotional price you pay. The mental and emotional scars never go away even if they fade.

For those who bullied others, I can only hope that what goes around comes around.

For all the adults and teachers who allow and encourage bullying to happen, I can only hope that you will one day realise the damage that you are inflicting on future adults. May it come back to haunt you in your later years.

For my Readers, I can only hope that this installment of my autobiography provokes some thought on the issue of bullying.

Bullying--let's stop it when and where we can.

Continuation on my blog where this and the excerpt from my autobiography is cross-posted

Tonight on Catherine Crier Live

Garland Waller, Boston University film professor and creator of the award winning film documenting the phenomenon of abusers gaining custody through family courts, "SMALL JUSTICE", will appear on the highly acclaimed COURT TV SHOW "CATHERINE CRIER LIVE", Friday, January 24, 2003, 5:00-6:00 PM PT/ET.

More about this on my blog.

Thursday, January 23, 2003

MLK Peace Celebration...

I was absent from blogging for many months—on my return I revisited some of my favorites. It was then I formed the grand opinion that Bogsisters was just a bunch of whiney little bitches.

Naturally, I formed this opinion in a vacuum. Through several months of depression, I had not been reading the news. I was unaware of the Roe v. Wade anniversary combined with MLK day. I wanted to write something about MLK day because it has a particular meaning to me, but I could not get into a positive place with the whiney little bitches perspective. It took a few days for me to clear my mind—to realize that there is a lot of (her)history for many women concerning abortion and other hard won and lost rights.

I had to remember the unfair gender, salary and promotion practices I encountered during my work career—some very recently. I had to stop being judgmental about others’ experiences, of which I have no knowledge. I had to open my heart to others’ personal missions. I had to remember that frustration and loss could sound like whining when the reader isn’t listening.

I am glad to be back on track again…
previously posted to Judith Burton 01/23/03

Greetings!


Greetings, All. I'm new here. I'm blogging from High Point, North Carolina. Guilford County is the Political Candidate blogging capitol of the world. I'm a 28 year old acrylic artist and a college student, as well as a wife, and a mother of a darling seven year old girl. Oh, yeah-there's the pug, too. I actually met my husband online through hotmail personals if you can believe that! I was just looking for more e-mail to fill my in-box at the time. :-) I only met two local men, after many months of e-mailing. Not a really safe thing, but neither is showing yourself in public (I'm kind of joking). That reminds me-I really hate men who make a scene while they are staring at you. Creepy. Anyway, here is an article about another peace activist woman (not me-but I'm with you there). That link goes to PressAction.com, which is how I found Blog Sisters. They have a bit about women bloggers today, which another blogger had pointed to as well. -Jennifer Medlock

Wednesday, January 22, 2003

Peace In Numbers

I thought we were going to get thrown out before the parade even began, as we walked past the police guarding the entrance to the campus of the college that was the origin of the march, cole suddenly broke out into song. Old MacDonald, to be specific. To be PRECISE, I believe he was singing something like "Oink oink here...and an oink oink there...oink oink oink." Certainly, this is a child with a sense of irony.

There are no words to describe the feeling one gets walking down an avenue that is usually congested with automobiles, completely surrounded by other people walking down the avenue for the same reason. The Austin crowd (estimated by the media at 5,000) was nowhere near the size of the crowds in DC and elsewhere, but the fact that the street was packed from curb to curb as far as I could see in front of me and as far as I could see behind me was absolutely awe inspiring.

I have been trying to read books about MLK to Monk all month. MLK and the civil rights movement of his time. Monk has refused to listen, telling me "that's boring." But I could tell today he felt something. He was moved.


mama: Do you see all of these people here, Monk?
Monk: Yeah...pretty big crowd.
Mama: Do you know why they are all here?
Monk: No.
Mama: Remember that man I have been trying to tell you about? Dr. King?
Monk: Yeah.
Mama: This is his birthday party. All of these people are here because of him. To celebrate the fact that he was born. And even though he's dead now, we all remember him.
Monk: He must have been a very important person...


We walked for miles, I think. I'm not sure how many miles. I'm not sure if it WAS multiple miles, but it was a long walk. Cole was in the backpack, and Monk walked next to me, holding my hand. I kept checking with Monk to make sure he was doing ok. I didn't want him to over-exert himself. He was stoic. Wordless. With a fixed look of...I don't even know. He wasn't talking about what he was feeling, but he wasn't stopping. He wasn't giving up. I lifted him up so he could see the crowd in front and the crowd in back. He was impressed, but still did not say much. A man told us that there were more people behind us than there were ahead of us. All of them, marching. Strangely quiet. Very little talking, very faint traces of a band somewhere. An occasional drummer. An occasional chorus of chanting. But, otherwise, simply quiet conversation. A peaceful demonstration.

At one point, I reminded Monk that it would be ok if he couldn't go on. We had been walking for an hour, and I thought perhaps he was feeling a little tired. He was determined to go on, but after about five more minutes, he said he needed to step. He couldn't go a step further.

I told him i was proud of how far we had come, and that it was perfectly ok to stop now. We walked over to the edge of the road and sat on the grass to watch the rest of the parade go by. So many people.


Monk (whispering in my ear): Mom...this looks like a riot!
Mama: I guess it kind of is a riot. It's a non-violent riot. All of these people are gathered together as a group to let everyone know that we stand for peace. And, while it's not violent, it's certainly sending a message. We are saying that we don't agree with violence. We don't agree with war. We don't agree with injustice. It's what Martin Luther King was all about, Monk. It's what I've been trying to tell you all month.
Monk: (silent)
Mama: And you want to know something, too? Each of these people individually made a choice to be here, and together...these individuals created a group of people who are strong and united for a cause. Any of these people could have stayed at home and not participated, and the whole would have suffered for it. Instead, each of these people chose to be here, and we are all making a powerful statement about how we feel.
Monk: Mom?
Mama: Yes?
Monk: I'm ready to continue walking.
Mama: I love you, son. I'm so proud of you.


It wasn't much further before we reached the party at the end of the march. We hung out for a little while, enjoying some free bananas and oranges and water supplied by the local grocery chain. Monk tends to get a little freaked out by crowds. He held it together so well today, but I could tell he was hitting the end of his rope. As we made our way through the crowd, one of the women who had walked with us for a time said "You made it!" She told me there were shuttle buses that would take us back to the college.

The backpack was unwieldy and awkward, and I kept running into people. Everyone was so nice. After profusely apologizing for bumping one woman, she said, so sincerely, "It's OK. Don't apologize. I know you have your hands full. I know it's hard to navigate through here."

We made our way over the the shuttle buses. The bus we got on was already full, but they packed us in. "Move to the back," they said. Of course, I had this huge backpack to push through the crowd. It was difficult to get through. There was a man with an empty seat beside him. I asked him if he minded if cole sat there. He said "no problem." He helped me with the backpack. He made faces at Cole...and put his hat on him...and listened with sincere interest to coley's babble about cockroaches and giant robots. He was a very nice man. A genuinely nice man.


Me: My son made it the whole way!
Nice man: Is that so? Way to go!
Me: So...how many people do you think were there?
Nice man: Difficult to say, but you know you're not going to get the right answer from the media or the police. Just like the demonstrations in DC.
Me: It seemed like such a huge crowd.
Nice man: yeah...but I'm sad to say, I'm not sure that it will make a difference.
Me: You know what? I think it made a difference to me. I think it made a difference to my kids. Is that enough of a difference?


(previously posted on full bleed...but I thought I would share it with the sisters.)

"The Cruelty of Men and Americans"

Check out the essay about our cultural violence by U of Texas professor Robert Jensen in the online journal Feminista.

One of his points: “Pornography and the wars of the U.S. empire both depend for their success on the process of rendering human beings less-than-fully-human so they can be hurt -- in the case of pornography to provide pleasure for men, and in war to protect the comfort of Americans.”

my story about off label use of ru-486

i posted this in my blog too:

okay, here's the story. the drug mifepristone, more commonly known as ru-486,, even more commonly known as the abortion drug, is now being shown to work in treating a variety of diseases, two of which are severe and psychotic depression. i suffer from severe depression.

last week i went in to my doctor. the bad news she gave me was that there wasn't much else she could do for me. i had recently read in ms. that there was a study being done at standford, but also that doctors might be able to get a hold of the drug through the feminist majority foundation. i mentioned this to my doctor and brought in a copy of the article, hoping that we could get a hold of the drug for me.

a week later. she tells me we can't get a hold of the drug. she didn't call the fmf but she talked to some of her friends-- my doctor is a pro-choice activist-- and they told her that the drug was so highly regulated that you had to call the company to get a hold of it for any off label use, and with a study going on for depression there was no way she was going to be able to get it for me. (can't do a study, to high a risk of me getting a placebo and that is way bad news.)

see, with any other fda approved drug and off label use there's no problem. doctors do it all the time. in fact i'm sure the vast majority of you have gotten a drug from your doctor and used it for a reason not under the original reason approved by the fda. but because this drug was approved as the abortion drug all the right wingers have decided to fuck with it and not let free use of it. so those people like me who could benefit from it have to suffer because of morality not chosen by us.

i've written a note to my doctor telling her that if the group she works with in her activism wants to use me as a face and a name in their materials to help get the government to lay off ru-486 they'd be more than welcome. and i'll be calling my senators, that pissant gordon smith, and ron wyden, and my house dude- peter defazio, and maybe even trying to speak with them personally. i want all of them to put a name to what this government has done. and luckily i'm a person that they like. white, middle class, and educated (i'll leave out the lesbian part). i'm even gonna find out the name of the manufacturer of ru-486 and call the president.

Pro-Choice Activism

I have some pro-choice material on my blog, including a link to a rather innovative virtual sit-in in front of the Supreme Court. I'm curious to see how effective that ends up being. I have more to add later today.

THIS IS THE 30th ANNIVERSARY OF ROE v. WADE: DON'T LET IT BE THE LAST!

The Feminist Majority Foundation says "[w]ith President Bush pushing his conservative agenda, an anti-choice majority in Congress, and the Supreme Court upholding Roe by a razor-thin 5-4 margin, safe legal abortion faces imminent danger in 2003. Take action now!"

For more information about pro-choice activist events, please visit The Pro-Choice Campus Network, a part of the Feminist Majority Foundation.

Now Here's a Question for You..

Does anyone know if there's a site to help women who have been scammed by an internet "date?" A woman I know who knows that I blog here, asked me to try to find out. If not, she was wondering what her liability would be if she started one. Maybe a blog where women could post the names of the men who are lying about their married states etc.? I know that, a while ago, some Blog Sister posted here about a guy who was was a real scumbag and warned other women using internet dating about him. Anyone have any info? Ideas? Suggestions? Links? Thanks.

Just Wondering About All The Usual Suspects...

Do men actually realise that Tighty-Whities and G-strings can only ever be worn with even a modicum of sex appeal without laughter-inducers by model types?

Why do friends turn into the proverbial Smug Married types--who always try to give you lots of advice on your non-existent dating life and the gush over their men to you when you clearly don't need to hear about it because being subjected to it repeatedly causes mucho depression and feelings of inadequacy--when they fall in love, are in the Relationship, get engaged, get married?

Why do many men always blame the woman when a relationship crumbles and not themselves while many women blame themselves and not the men in the same situation? Answer from my upstairs neighbour, Daniel: "Because we men are so stupid and women let us get away with it."

Why do mothers always call you when you are in the middle of something important--typing down a rush of sudden brilliance into an essay, while you're doing a timed exam exercise, while you are blow-drying your hair, while you are getting down with it with your current squeeze--and then demand that you cease doing whatever it is or else start unleashing lashes of guilt-manipulation?

Do men even realise that approaching a woman to chat her up while being stonking drunk is not a good idea? More importantly, do they not realise that telling bad jokes is not really a good pick-up tactic? Especially when the woman is clearly forcing the laughter? Or are they too drunk or too nervous to realise this?

Why do aerobics instructors always have to lie about the counting of repetitions, especially when they see you all blue in the face and in pain? Example: "Eight more to go! Eight... seven... six... five... four... three... two... one... I LIED!!!! TWENTY FOUR MORE TO GO!!!! Twenty-four...!!!"

Do men really look at even the most unpromising looking Cinderella and go "PHWOAR!!! Lookit that--must have the best boobies/booty underneath those baggy clothes, messy hair and glasses? Does this explain why the cute ones or the one you have your eye on always turns out when you're looking all dishevelled and stuff while when you are dolled up to the nines, there's no one around to see?

What drives grandmothers to keep on bemoaning that their granddaughters are too picky and will be "left on the shelf" if said granddaughters do not get married by the time the other granddaughters get married?

What is wrong with being a more "masculine" girl who knows her comic books, her action movies and who gives as good as she gets? Is she such a rare creature that whenever one walks into a comic bookstore, all the geeks stare goggle-eyed and silent at her? Or is that just hormones?

Why do men always complain when they have to use condoms? Don't they know about safe sex? What the hell were they doing at the back of the hall during Sex Ed class in school?

Are all mirrors flawed in some way? Is that why perfectly normal-sized women see themselves as fat in the mirror?

If high heels are that flattering and sexy, why don't men wear them? Same goes for corsets, pantyhose and dresses that have to be taped to you to stay up as if by magic...

If men are so logical and rational, why is it that one's mother is typically able to multitask and ensure that everything gets done in the right order etc etc to save time and energy while one's father ends up in a right muddle when mom goes on holiday?

Cross-posted at Mindscapes

Tuesday, January 21, 2003

Body Positive

This week is Healthy Weight Week. If you do a Google search you will find a bunch of sites, some of which are about weight loss. Others are promoting the paradigm of Health at Any Size.
I’m writing something every day about my own experience of, and thoughts about being fat and body positive ideas. I thought I’d ask Blogsisters to make a body positive post this week.

The Recent California Rape Case

This post also appears on my blog.

Mike Peterson, a columnist for the Post-Star in Glens Falls, New York, wrote a column about the recent Supreme Court decision that defined rape as "continued penetration by a man after a consenting woman demands that the intercourse stop." Reaction to the news was swift and fierce. "The media were horrified," Peterson wrote. "This nice young 17-year-old kid was going to have to carry a rape charge through life, despite the fact that the sex was consensual until this ditzy chick changed her mind, and, even then, the silly girl wasn't clear about her new attitude."

The media jumped on it. The so-called "law" in the Land of Fruit and Nuts had proven that all a woman had to do was cry "he raped me!" in order to ruin a man's life. Those men who howled that women frequently used the courts as a weapon of revenge and malice finally had the vindication they were looking for. This "ditzy chick" destroyed an innocent guy with what they thought was one of the most effect weapons in the Lying Bitch arsenal - the Rape Defense.

The problem is, it didn't happen that way.

Peterson ran a Google search to get to the facts behind the case. I did the same. The truth, as it turns out, was a far cry from the spinning done by the media.

Originally, there were two co-defendents, not one. John Z. appealed the original conviction. The second defendant, Juan G., "admitted amended charges of sexual battery ... and unlawful sexual intercourse." Both are misdemeanors.

On March 23, 2000, Juan G. called Laura T., the rape victim, while she worked at a nearby Safeway. They met two weeks earlier. Juan G. asked Laura T. to drive him to a party at John Z.'s home and to come pick him up at about 8:30 p.m. She agreed to drop him off but told him to find another ride home because she was unable to pick him up. She had planned to attend a church group meeting that evening.

She later drove him to John Z.'s home. John and another guy were there. Laura left to pick up a guy who was going to buy beer for the party. They returned to John's home with the beer. Laura agreed to stay until about 8:30 pm. John and Juan drank the beer. Laura did not.

Later, Laura and Juan went to John's parent's bedroom. Juan said he wanted to have sex, but Laura declined, saying she "was not ready for that kind of activity." Juan became "upset," and went into the bathroom. Laura left the bedroom. John and the other guy asked her why she "wouldn't do stuff." She said she wasn't ready.

As Laura prepared to leave for her church group meeting, John asked her to come up to the bedroom to talk. He said that Juan didn't really care for her and that he, John, suggested he become her boyfriend. He left the room to take a phone call.

What transpired upon his return lays to rest the media outrage that Laura merely changed her mind in midstream. It also shows that the young men were not innocent victims of a young woman's bullshit false cries of rape when she's not happy over what she supposedly had freely chosen to do. "The minor" refers to John Z.


When the minor returned to the bedroom he and Juan asked Laura if it was her fantasy to have two guys, and Laura said it was not. Juan and the minor began kissing Laura and removing her clothes, although she kept telling them not to. At some point, the boys removed Laura's pants and underwear and began "fingering" her, "playing with [her] boobs" and continued to kiss her. Laura enjoyed this activity in the beginning, but objected when Juan removed his pants and told the minor to keep fingering her while he put on a condom. Once the condom was in place, the minor left the room and Juan got on top of Laura. She tried to resist and told him she did not want to have intercourse, but he was too strong and forced his penis in her vagina. The rape terminated when, due to Laura's struggling, the condom fell off. Laura told Juan that "maybe it's a sign we shouldn't be doing this," and he said "fine" and left the room.

Laura rolled over on the bed and began trying to find her clothes; however, because the room was dark she was unable to do so. The minor, who had removed his clothing, then entered the bedroom and walked to where Laura was sitting on the bed and "he like rolled over [her] so [she] was pushed back down to the bed." Laura did not say anything and the minor began kissing her and telling her that she had "a really beautiful body." The minor got on top of Laura, put his penis in her vagina "and rolled [her] over so [she] was sitting on top of him." Laura testified she "kept . . . pulling up, trying to sit up to get it out . . . [a]nd he grabbed my hips and pushed me back down and then he rolled me back over so I was on my back . . . and . . . kept saying, `will you be my girlfriend.'" Laura "kept like trying to pull away" and told him that "if he really did care about me, he wouldn't be doing this to me and if he did want a relationship, he should wait and respect that I don't want to do this." After about 10 minutes, the minor got off of Laura, helped her dress and find her keys. She then drove home.

On cross-examination, Laura testified that when the minor entered the room unclothed, he lay on the bed behind her and touched her shoulder with just enough pressure to make her move, a nudge. He asked her to lie down and she did. He began kissing her and she kissed him back. He rolled on top of her, inserted his penis in her and, although she resisted, he rolled her back over pulling her on top of him. She was on top of him for four or five minutes, during which time she tried to get off but he grabbed her waist and pulled her back down. He rolled her over and continued the sexual intercourse. Laura told him that she needed to go home but he would not stop. He said, "[J]ust give me a minute," and she said, "[N]o, I need to get home." He replied, "[G]ive me some time" and she repeated, "[N]o, I have to go home." The minor did not stop, "[h]e just stayed inside of me and kept like basically forcing it on me." After about a "minute, minute and [a] half," the minor got off of Laura.


The old, biased view of rape is that it isn't "real" if she doesn't fight back, is unclear, or is not sufficiently "outraged." Even when one considers Laura unclear statements and actions that could have lead John to believe she consented to sex, the court ruled that "there is substantial evidence that she withdrew her consent and clearly communicated that fact to the minor." She tried repeatedly to push him off. He rolled back onto her, and kept thrusting. He said "[J]ust give me a minute. She replied "[N]o, I need to go home." He kept "forcing it" on her for another minute, minute and a half.

I was fortunate to not have been invited to these kinds of parties when I was in high school. That doesn't mean I wasn't aware of them. I live in a small town that makes Mayberry look like Cabrini Green. Even here, where no liquor is served or sold (dry town) and the sidewalks roll up at dusk, teenagers are under a great deal of pressure. They're terrified of war. Some of them abuse alcohol and drugs. Sometimes their grades may suffer. My son and my stepson are right in the thick of it now. Both are in high school. My stepson is one year younger than John Z. I know more than I'd like to know about these parties. They're held at some kid's home when the parents are gone. Or they're held in another location unsupervised by responsible adults. Some kids drink to get plastered. It's not all that hard to find an adult who is willing to buy beer and even hard liquor for teenagers. There is always mom and dad's liquor cabinet. The idea is to get totally shitfaced because it means you are "cool." Getting shitfaced to the point that you land in the hospital or in a jail cell is not "cool," no matter what some eleventh-grade punk may tell you.

Teens are under a great deal of peer pressure. The unpopular kids play lapdog for the popular ones because they want approval and friendship. Sadly, some of them believe that if they do some popular kids' homework, or fetch beer for them, or have sex with them, or don't have sex with them, then they too will be accepted and loved. It doesn't work. "I'll be your boyfriend if you have sex with me." That line is older than I am. Laura knew this. She told John that "if he really did care about me, he wouldn't be doing this to me and if he did want a relationship, he should wait and respect that I don't want to do this." Mike Peterson knew a lot of girls like Laura. He knew a lot of guys like John and Juan. So did I. So do I. They cruise the high school hallways, doing whatever they can to make sense of the world we live in.

Reducing this case to "the bitch changed her mind and cried rape" ignores what really happened. It ignores the pain Laura had felt. In blaming her for her own rape, the media and the public rape her over and over and over again. She doesn't deserve that. Blaming her also exonerates her rapists. She doesn't deserve that, either.

Monday, January 20, 2003

Influences [dive into mark]

thanks to Marcus

Antarcitica joins the rest of the world in calls for peace

In Antarcitica a a human peace sign was formed, as a show of solidarity with other world-wide anti-war demonstrations.

I

Getting Read

Gentry Lane recently asked about how to promote her blog, which I thought about when I came across this site, Wander-Lust. They describe their purpose as "providing content and exposure for
personal site owners." P.S. I saw at least one Blog Sister on their list of frequently read sites.

The abortion debate may be the most cliche thing to post about on BlogSisters, but so it goes.

Today in The New York Times, there was a front page article on the state of abortion rights in the United States. It was a slightly faulty (but more thorough than most) assessment of the history of abortion in America, just in time for the thirtieth anniversary of Roe v. Wade. It is so vital, now more than ever, that we acquaint ourselves with history so that we can appreciate and understand how we came to where we are now. It was very distressing to read in this article than in one poll conducted in Washington state, the majority of participants had no idea that abortion was ever illegal. But many things were hopeful. It seems that 80% of the population supports abortion rights (some with stricter restrictions, some without), and, at the same time, the rate of abortion is currently at its lowest since 1974.

Also: I would like to assert that I make no false claims of non-bias. I am clearly pro-choice, and I am not pretending that anything I've written here or linked to is anything resembling objective.

Saturday, January 18, 2003

Honoring Martin

On this, the the week-end of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday, I can't help but reflect on his dream, and where it stands today. Personally, while I have so much respect for the people who sacrificed so much to acheive equitable treatment for all people in our nation, regardless of the color of their skin, and I am in awe at what they were able to acheive, it seems to me that the dream has fallen far short of fullfilment.

In our nation, we still tend to live in segregated neighborhoods, although this is probably due to economic factors as much as anything else.

We have yet to see a minority or a woman in the White House, although there are many more minorities and women in positions of power today.

There is a dearth of media coverage from minority or women's viewpoints. Actually there is a serious lack of minority programming on television, period.

Minorities have indignities that they have to endure, just because of the color of their skin. (I'm thinking of racial profiling, and the fact that minorites are treated differently by store security and shop owners when they are shopping, which I've witnessed, mysel, among other things.)

I could go on, but I don't want to risk giong into an over-long discourse.

I just want to add that Jennifer Balderama wrote a very interesting and thought-provoking piece about King and the media.

Why I think women are way ahead of men.

Brain research is making it more and more evident that, while our environment and nurturing can make a crucial difference in what kinds of adults we mature into, nature deals us each a very definitive hand, and much of it is in the form of chemicals that our brains produce. If we don’t have enough seratonin, we feel depressed. If we are females and our estrogen and progesterone are out of whack, we get major PMS. (These are just two of hundreds of examples.)

Many of us women have come to recognize that we can control PMS – with everything from herbal supplements to wild yam cream, from progesterone suppositories to Prozac capsules. Because humans have evolved the way we have, it might be “natural” to be at the mercy of our erratic human brain and glandular chemistries, but that doesn’t mean we can’t take our fate into our own hands and alter those defective ebbs and flows. Doing so doesn’t make us less ourselves; indeed, it often frees us from the tyranny of our chemistries and allows us to be so much more our loving, caring, creative, and nurturing selves – in other words, better human beings.

Research has also made the connection between high levels of testosterone and violence/aggression/competitiveness. It has also made the connection between high levels of testosterone and sex drive.

Read the rest of my rant on my weblog here.

Shameless Self Promotion?

Does anyone else worry about waining readership?

I feel like my writing is improving steadily...just as steadily as my readers are dropping off. Does anyone have any ideas on how to expose your blog to new viewers? Is there such a thing as non-obnoxious promotion? Any and all thoughts are greatly appreciated.

http://Freuds-Fave.diaryland.com

Behind the Music

Music, sexism and war. When I was younger and more of a television watcher, I loved to tune in to PBS in the beginning of the year to watch the Vienna Philharmonic's New Year Celebration. Actually, I listened more than watched because as a musician myself, music was first. Then my father pointed out, "There aren't any women in the orchestra." That's when I started paying attention to the screen. Indeed, there weren't any women in the orchestra, except maybe the harpist, but I wasn't sure because I only saw the harp itself and not the musician behind it.

I suppose I've been spoiled into thinking that musicians were only judged by their ability and not something superficial like the color of your hair*. Maybe I'm too idealistic in thinking that music should come first because I start noticing certain things. Why were most of my music teachers female but all of the conductors of the orchestras I was a member of male? Why are certain instruments considered "girly" when kids are given an opportunity to learn music? Why are so many composers hired for movie scores male?

This chauvinism obviously isn't just confined to the Vienna Philharmonic, but I'm not sure if a protest aimed singly at this organization is going to help much.

*Except for popular idols where their only marketable attribute is sex appeal and not the validity of their music.

Also posted on syaffolee.

Thursday, January 16, 2003

What is the world doing to us?

Jennifer Balderama wonders what she’s doing with her life. It seems to me that, like the rest of us, she’s living it – as best she can under the circumstances.

Unemployment is rampant. Gambling is out of control for too many people. We are very close to a global war. Violence against women and children is as widespread as ever. Global warming is affecting where certain crops and plants are able to grow. Education budgets are being decimated. “Sophisticated computers, robotics, telecommunications, and other cutting-edge technologies are fast replacing human beings in virtually every sector and industry - from manufacturing, retail, and financial services, to transportation, agriculture, and government.” (quoted from here)

I have a lot more to say here.
Has the US has gone Mad?

The Times Online Opinion section ran an interesting (if not possibly inflamatory article) written by the famed thriller writer, John Le Carre, yesterday which I'm sure, will run with a life of its own.

To quote the venerable author: "...The imminent war was planned years before bin Laden struck, but it was he who made it possible. Without bin Laden, the Bush junta would still be trying to explain such tricky matters as how it came to be elected in the first place..."

I was, however, more interested in what he had to say about Blair, and his part in all this, being a Brit. I also have to say that Le Carre's opinion is echoed by many of my friends and colleagues living back in the UK.

What are your thoughts?

Wednesday, January 15, 2003

Another side of the violence.

Human Rights Watch issued a report on the sexual violence against women in Sierra Leone from 1991 to 2001:

Throughout the armed conflict in Sierra Leone from 1991 to 2001, thousands of women and girls of all ages, ethnic groups, and socioeconomic classes were subjected to widespread and systematic sexual violence, including individual and gang rape, and rape with objects such as weapons, firewood, umbrellas and pestles. These crimes of sexual violence were generally characterized by extraordinary brutality and frequently preceded or followed by other egregious human rights abuses against the victim, her family and her community. The rebels abducted many women and girls, who were subjected to sexual violence as well as being forced to perform housework, farm work and serve as military porters.

The rebels sought to dominate women and their communities by deliberately undermining cultural values and community relationships, destroying the ties that hold society together. Child combatants raped women who were old enough to be their grandmothers, rebels raped pregnant and breastfeeding mothers, and fathers were forced to watch their daughters being raped.

To date there has been no accountability for the thousands of crimes of sexual violence or other appalling human rights abuses committed during the war in Sierra Leone.


Sexual violence is hardly a new aspect to war. Harrowing tales have been detailed by countless war correspondents, including Peter Maass in his brilliant "Love Thy Neighbor." The problem is, victims of sexual violence often are acknowledged only long after the other atrocities of war have been accounted for--and sometimes not at all. And as the HWR report notes, even when such violence is chronicled, it does no one any good unless something is done about it and the victims are assisted in attempts at recovery. Which they often aren't.

No brains on her.

A woman named Jodi Kantor, an editor for Slate in New York, is reported to be at the top of the list to become the New York Times' next Arts & Leisure editor. And she's only 27.

File that under "Man, what the hell am I doing with my life."

But in all serious: Wow. Good for her.

More Armchair Activism

Hi all, I seem to be on a blog roll lately (sorry :-)). Maybe its because classes start next week, and I'm running out of time. In any case, it seems like there's a whole lotta organizing going on, and I want to spread the word while I can. So here goes:


Check out some of the events taking place across the country to voice opposition to the push for war at the United for Peace site.


Call the White House's "opinion" line and tell the President what you think about the proposed war in Iraq at 202-456-1111. (Note: the line only accepts calls from 9-5 EST., Monday thru Friday. I haven't gotten through yet, but sources tell me that "a machine will detain you for only a moment and then a pleasant live operator will thank you for saying "I oppose" or "I
approve." Let's hope there's more than one operator.)


To see a really clever and powerful blending of technology and grass roots politics, check out Planned Parenthood's on-line Rally for Choice. If it gives you the "No Choice Blues," go to their action site SaveRoe.com for more ideas about what you can do to to protect reproductive freedom in the US.


Maybe your concerns lie more with the environment? Join PIRG in asking the Environmental Protection Agency to continue to make available to the public its data on the amount and type of chemicals being discharged into our waterways by facilities regulated by the Clean Water Act. The EPA is currently seeking public comments on this issue. Think about it like this: who doesn't want that information to be made public?

And lastly (for today), and though I'm generally suspicious about mergers between politics and the entertainment industry, I think the Lifetime network's efforts to support breast cancer research, and their support of U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro's efforts to get legislation passed that would prevent "drive-through mascectomies" is worth looking into. I just wish there wasn't quite so much advertising on the page.

Well, that's enough armchair activism for one day! Or maybe I'll try the White House again . . .


(cross-posted at Distracted)
Quote, Unquote

"All Governments suffer a recurring problem. Power attracts pathological personalities." ~ Frank Herbert.

A New (Old) Webzine...

New to me, but unfortunately no longer being updated. If anyone knows where the person who started this masterpiece is, please clue me in because I think she rocks. This piece is just one example of many:


We've all heard the jokes. Q: How do you offend a feminist? A: That's not funny. There's a very persistent metaphor floating around in our cultural consciousness: women who aren't afraid to speak out against oppression, who know what they want and won't take less than they deserve are bitter, ugly, no-sex-havin', friendless freaks. In short, man-haters.

For a long time, I thought this stereotype was kind of quaint, much like children's fears about monsters in the closet. I've always felt that if anyone actually said this kind of trite shit to me, I could just pat them on the head and turn on a nightlight, chuckle, and know that they'd grow out of it.

Tuesday, January 14, 2003

The flu

I'm feeling better, but now W. (my husband) is sick. I feel like Typhoid Mary! Next, I suppose A. will come down with it, too. He's ok,
so far. *crosses fingers*.

Unfortunately, we didn't make the school board meeting, for obvious reasons. I'll have to write them a letter, instead, and perhaps a lettor to the editor as well. It can't hurt to put on some pressure. I just wish it was closer to re-election time for the school board members so that they would be a little more careful about how they apply the budget cuts.

For a longer version of this story, please visit my blog.

Politics of the Blog Form

My friend and colleague Ken forwarded
this intriguing bit from Corante on the politics of the blog form. It seems to me to be a little too early to determine what kinds of politics the form of the blog will enable--I think we are in the midst of a contest over who and what will define blogging, and more broadly, who will control the commons. As you might guess, I am not rooting for the corporations in this fight. I'd be interested in hearing what others think about this.

Finally feeling better!

This morning I was still feeling a bit under the weather, but I've seemed to get steadily better all day. Gosh, you know how much you appreciate feeling normal when you've been sick for several days! It's like the sun finally coming out after a whole week of rain. Birds are singing, dew drops are sparkling on leaves and petals...well, you get the idea. I didn't work tonight, though. Mondays are generally my toughest evening at work, and I don't want to risk over-doing quite so soon. I'm off tomorrow, and then I should be able to get back to work by Wednesday! Yay!!!

I've still been taking it pretty easy today, adn I still wasn't in the mood to read, but I'm sure tomorrow I'll have my nose buried in my book.

Speaking of tomorrow, we have a meeting to attend at our school district. Our district has subsidized a lot of the costs of AP tests, PSAT's and SAT's for high school students, but due to the budget cuts they are looking at passing the full burden of paying for these tests on to students and their families. We live in a district with a lot of low income and minority students, so this is a very frustrating situation. I realize that the cuts in the budget have to come from somewhere, but I hope that they find a solution that is not so painful to the most promising students in the district.




Monday, January 13, 2003

What happens when an online friend dies or disappears

This post was triggered off by this blog - User Not Found set up to discuss how people deal with the death or disappearance of online friends. Many relationships formed online do develop into significant ones. In some cases, the two people have never met but cultivate a deeper friendship. This could be either through blogs, email or instant messengers and is particularly true for women who tend to share and bond much more easily. But what happens when the ‘real scenario’ catched up and one of the two either die or disappear?

A while ago, I read in a particular web log (I forget it’s name right now) about how the author was trying to track one of her favourite bloggers who had completely disappeared off the scene. This blogger had pulled down her blog and she no longer replied to her email. Her friend was naturally very worried and even posted a public appeal on her blog asking for help to trace her blog friend.

Has this ever happened with you? And how did you deal with it? Do you have a personal experience to share? I am researching the topic for an article and would love to hear from you. Please email me here or leave a comment in this space with your details and I’ll contact you.

Happy New Year!

I haven't posted in a while, but I hope everyone enjoys the new year all the way through. I found a good link on women journalists/weblogging sorta twist and thought to pass it on here. http://journalism.fas.nyu.edu/pubzone/ReadMe/ranieri.html
let me know what you think or find. This weblog is a wealth of content. Cheers!

Sunday, January 12, 2003

Just coming by for a quick hello!

I'm really happy to be a part of this on-line community! Unfortunately, I've been sick for several days, so I'll make this a quick entry.
Normally, I'm an avid reader, and right now I'm reading Sense and Sensibility, but I haven't even felt like reading, lately. W., my husband, and A., our 16-yr-old son, have been fine, at least, thank goodness! A;s been out spending his entire paycheck that he just got on Friday! LOL! He really cracks me up! I thought girls were supposed to be the mall rats!

Well, I'm going to go take a nap, now. I have a show on later that I don't want to miss ("Masterpiece Theater, Wives and Daughters"), and this bug is pretty much draining me.

Cabin Fever

My 6 year old son and I were cooped up in the house together for a few days because he had strep throat and a stomach virus. Mostly we got along. We came across this poem that gave us a good laugh when we weren't getting along so well. Feel free to share it with any little monsters you know.

Mother Ogre's Lullaby

Hush baby ogre, stop raving and rest.
Slumber, sweet savage impossible pest.
Stifle your tantrum, no kicking, don't bite.
Close your red eye . . .baby ogre, good-night.

from Monday's Troll, by Jack Prelutsky and Peter Sis

Friday, January 10, 2003

Cultural Differences


Yesterday, I posted this in my blog :

Sometimes I read something or I see something and it strikes me as being so very odd that I become very aware of the fact that I have been away from America a very long time. In fact, it might be true to say that I have been away so very long that I might never be able to blend into American society again. Somehow my edges have become too foreign, somehow I just can't see things the way that I used to.

The other day I was looking at the proofs from a photo session at Walmart ( my favorite store, no shit ) that a new mother was showing off. They were photos of her very cute children, one about Meg's ( 3 ) age and the other one just a few weeks old. One of the pictures caught my attention. The background of the portrait was a large, unfurled American flag, and placed next to the newborn's hand was a tiny American flag. I couldn't help but imagine what my reaction would be if this photo had been from another country, with a different flag in the background, by the baby's hand. Say, from Germany, or even the Netherlands.

And once again I know that I have stepped off of the mainstream path. Have become a stranger.


I am wondering if this strikes anyone else as being a bit too much, or have many years of living abroad truly taken me that far from mainstream America ?

Thursday, January 09, 2003

This is my first post to Blog Sisters (waves hi to everyone). I know it's kind of pop-culturey and non sequitur, but bear with me. I want to let all of you know that there is really good stuff to watch and read out there, unlike Joe Millionaire, which I'm unfortunately guilty of having watched. Now then. Today's random stuff, in no particular order: (Oh, sheesh, I just realized that this is kind of like Larry King's "bits," as made fun of by Norm MacDonald on Saturday Night Live. But what the hey, I'm going for it.
  • When I was in Knoxville recently, my good friend Susan Giesemann North turned me on to the writing of Molly Ivins. I would read Molly Ivins Can't Say That, Can She? before going to sleep, and I'm hooked now. She is awesome, just my kind of person! I feel stupid for not knowing about her before; I should keep better track of newspapers. You should check out the column about tax cuts I link to here. She has this clear way of seeing and explaining confusing political and economic moves. Her essay "How Ann Richards Got to Be Governor of Texas" in Molly Ivins Can't Say That, Can She? is well worth reading too--her analysis of Clayton Williams's campaign and the ways Richards' campaign responded to it is both hilarious and perceptive.
  • As I said before, I read The Hours by Michael Cunningham a couple of weeks ago. What a book. My friend Andrea gave it to me for my birthday and kept at me to read it. I'm glad I did. As you might know, it's the stories of Clarissa Vaughan, a New York woman in 1999 who is preparing a party for her friend Richard, a poet who has won a prestigious award and who is in the final stages of AIDS; Laura Brown, a 1950s stay-at-home mom who loves to read and feels pushed into the live she's leading, and Virginia Woolf as she is starting Mrs. Dalloway. The connections are beautiful and touching to read. For example, in one chapter, Clarissa is visiting Richard, whose mind has been affected by the disease. He is talking to himself and she can make out the word "hurl." When she comes in, she says, "Are they here today?" Richard says no, but that his hallucinations are similar to a dark, sinister jellyfish. He can't stand to have the lights on or the windows uncovered. Then, in the next chapter, Woolf's inner monologue is about the brightness she sees all the time, even when she closes her eyes, and she can't ever get the relief that darkness would bring. She thinks about the onsets of her periods of madness and characterizes them as a "headache." She imagines herself walking down the street, and the headache as having a life of its own, walking beside her like a bright jellyfish. Someone asks, "What is that?" She replies, "That's just my headache. Please ignore it." The chapters about Laura Brown and her interaction with her son (age 3) gave me a renewed respect for what stay-at-home moms do. I can't believe a man wrote this book. Certain images and words are repeated from chapter to chapter in this elegant way, not hackneyed at all--you want to read the next chapter to see what the connecting threads will be. It's a fast read. It reminds me in a way of some episodes of Northern Exposure, in which you the viewer saw how connected everything and everyone was in Cicely, Alaska, from the more tuned-in people like Ed the Shaman, Chris in the morning, and Marilyn the secretary, to the cynics like Joel Fleischmann and Maggie. I highly recommend this book, and I want to see the movie too, but I have my doubts as to how they'll capture the inner monologues of the characters, unless there are a lot of voice-overs. I'll pay the ticket price just to see the performances of Meryl Streep as Clarissa, Julianne Moore as Laura, and Nicole Kidman as Virginia Woolf, though.
  • Today I watched the movie K-PAX. I had been wanting to see it for a while now, and it was better than I thought it would be. If you can't stand Kevin Spacey, maybe you shouldn't bother with it--he's in almost every scene--but if you like or are indifferent to him, it's an excellent look at mental illness and the treatment of it.
  • I also watched Minority Report. It even further reinforced my high regard of Philip K. Dick. I've got to read the story it's based on . . . before I saw the movie, I was told to pay particular attention to the role of advertising in the movie (like I could have ignored it). A person walks into the Gap, for instance, and a holographic saleswoman appears and says, "Hello, Mr. Forgotthename. How did those pleated pants work out for you?" It's like browser cookies. I can totally see everything going in that direction--eye scans, all that stuff. Great film; I must see it again.
Also posted on cyborg woman.

Wednesday, January 08, 2003

Get Real

Sparked by a recent New York Times article, jf asked about reality television yesterday. I'll lay my cards on the table. I find these shows offensive, disgusting, irritating, silly and exploitative. Plus, I consider the matchmaking version (The Bachelor, The Bachelorette, Joe Millionaire, Greedy Losers Connecting) to be sexist. (OK, I made that last title up.)

I don't watch them, have no respect for the "creators" of such "reality" programming, believe them to be more contrived than real (yeah sure, "true" reality takes place in front of a camera), have zero sympathy (or empathy) for the participants, and no patience for the fans of these programs. However, I have been amazed (as I commented to Elaine on her Phyllis Schafly post) to learn that people I know and respect are among the viewers.

I'm curious what the BlogSisters think...

Sunday, January 05, 2003

And then there's Phyllis Schlafly

Phyllis Schlafly has written a another anti-feminist book. I can't believe that she's still at it.
I posted about it -- sort of -- here.