Friday, June 28, 2002

"Straight-laced New England Pilgrim Lady Blogger"? Yeah, right!
Halley Suitt's candid and candied comments to probing interviewer Frank Paynter prove that she's anything but.

Paynter's latest interview of the blog's most fascinating women (heh -- that's my arrogant editorial sidebar, so don't attribute that to Frank) is a portrait of Halley that reveals her complex, creative, productive human mind, her wittingly raunchy female soul, and her attitude toward body that -- well, go and enjoy the view yourself. Move over ol' Madonna and Britney. We've got our own Madonna of the Blog.

Thursday, June 27, 2002

What Weren't We Discussing about Andrea Yates?
An article by that title in the current Free Inquiry's online version forces a look at "The elephant in the middle of the room to which no one paid attention in the Andrea Yates case..."

It's the issue of birth control, and the author goes on to say this:
What he could have done, of course, as is tragically apparent, was to wear a condom. But that wasn't enunciated in all the Monday-morning quarterbacking that went on after the verdict and sentencing. What no one seemed to discuss, perhaps because doing so would not be politically correct, was the exact nature of the religious ideas that Andrea and her husband had adopted. Russell Yates was seemingly a man of the nineties, if not the twenty-first century-a National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) computer engineer at Houston's Johnson Space Center. But computers and engineering did not inform the couple's lifestyle. Until Andrea attempted suicide twice after the birth of their fourth son in 1999, the family lived in a converted bus. Russell then moved the family into a house, and it was decided that Andrea should home-school their children. He has been quoted as saying that they wanted to live "a simple traditional life" and that they wanted to avoid "social integration." (Neighbors who got him to bring the three oldest boys to a birthday party the weekend before the killing told a reporter that it was the first time they had met the Yateses since they moved into their house two years before.) The whole article is worth reading.

As blog conversations continue about gender issues at burningbird's and other sites, I just keep running across more and more situations where women are suffering under the partriarchal thumbs of clueless men. I think it's interesting that, although Frank Paynter has put out a call to interested men, challenging them to (as an email from Marek J. suggested) " a conversation behind the conversation" on men's attitudes toward women, only few male bloggers have demonstrated any interest in pursuing that topic. I find that very disappointing. If not you blogguys, than who?

Hey Sisters. Wanted to let you know that if it's easier to type in, you now can and you'll arrive here. I have web-forwarding on the domain, which leads to our very doorstep. Enjoy! -jeneane

Wednesday, June 26, 2002

The Crone Has Flown
I invite you all to check out my old blog and see my final goodbye to Blogger. And then pop over and let me know what you think of my new MT site (thanks to b!X's Spartaneity Project).

Tune in to Locke

Chris Locke did a segment on Marketplace Morning Report today that will air tomorrow morning. He talked with Tess Vigeland about advertising and patriarchy, marketing to children, and gender roles. As always, he said a lot more than the short segment will relate; as always also, I'm sure it will be interesting.

See if your local station carries MMR and tune in tomorrow. If anyone has a tape recorder or another way to capture the discussion, that would be fantastic. The last time I tried to listen to a segment on my local station, something went haywire and the station didn't carry it. I sure would like to hear (or see a transcript) of this one. It's relevant to what many of us have been talking about lately.

Off to assume my mom role now and pick up my Baby Blogger.

Gender Gap in Higher Education

Although the trend exists in many four-year institutions as well, an article in this week's Chronicle of Higher Education focuses specifically on community colleges, where it is more dramatic: student enrollment is about 60-40 in favor of women, and 151 women receive an associate degree for every 100 men. According to the article, some college administrators are asking "if some programs originally designed to make women feel more comfortable have inadvertently alienated men?"
One lens amongst many...

In response to a question put out by Marek J, regarding what defines us as “men” and “women” and the roles we play in the modern world (as part of a larger discussion initiated by Frank Paynter on the roles men might play in supporting feminist leadings) -- my thoughts, for the sake of discussion…

What makes men "men" and women "women"? Well, there is one school of thought that would say: our genetic programming. And there are certainly plenty who argue pretty heatedly with this school of thinking, but I personally find a great deal of value in it, not as an end all be all complete explanation, but simply as one lens among many for examining a complex subject.

According to Evolutionary Psychology, we behave as we do due to an inherent drive to see the continuation and success of our genes. Thus men are programmed to feel the desire to spread their seed to many, not just to one. Thus women are programmed to nurture. Thus men select women who display an aptitude for nurturing (especially if this was an aptitude they saw in their own mothers), and thus women select men who display an aptitude for providing and protecting (especially if this was an aptitude they saw in their own fathers). As modern humans, we struggle to overcome many of these inherent drives -- modern man struggles to resist his urges for cheating; modern woman aspires to be more than just nurturer; and together we aspire to form partnerships based on more than just our genetic make-ups.

Where it becomes complicated is in the reward structures we have woven into modern society. Under capitalism, which also ascribes to the same basic laws of "survival of the fittest," there is little reward or compensation for those inherently female roles, such as being a good nurturer, because there is little value placed on them, which translates to little market value -- both in the cases of motherhood itself and the nurturing professions (teaching, nursing -- both roles in which the best nurturers amongst us should flourish, but both examples of predominantly female roles that are not-coincidentally under-valued and under-compensated). This is likely due to the fact that the "return on investment," so to speak, on nurturing is neither immediate (as we've increasingly come to demand) nor directly attributable. Certain Alpha male behaviors, on the other hand, tend to be both more immediate in their results and more directly attributable. Our capitalist system is run by Alpha males and would not thrive if it were otherwise. Why do men strive to be Alpha? Because then they will be selected by the prime females. Or something to that effect...

At any rate, before we females chastise the Alpha male-dominated capitalist system, we must note the degree to which we reinforce it. We are, all of us, consumers. And many of us are also investors. And managers, and employees, and business owners. And role models. All part of the system -- the macrocosm that embodies everything from the bedroom to the playground to the boardroom.

Another point that I would like to make is about the romanticizing of women. The fact is, power corrupts -- it twists and it taints and it tempts -- and were women at the helm of industry and politics, you can bet that there would be no less corruption nor violence. It might be a little different in form, but it certainly wouldn't be any more a utopia than the world we currently live in. We see plenty of that already -- trouble is, when we see it, we conveniently dismiss these women as behaving like men. Maybe they are; or maybe they are behaving like humans in positions of power. It's hard to say because it shapes itself into a circle.

What's more, women can be incredibly cruel. We don't see it so much because it is far more covert, tends to be smaller scale, and is psychological rather than physical. It's also insidious. Boys, you don't know cruelty unless you've ever been an adolescent girl.

Of course, I can say that, because I'm a woman. If a man said anything of the sort he'd likely be impaled for it. That's the sad reality of politically charged conversations -- you piss off a lot of people if you try to strip away too much of the comfortable bullshit. Women, as a group, are not above reproach, and neither are we simply victims (some are, yes, but those of us who talk about it the most are not). Don't get me wrong -- I'm far from the Camille Paglia school of anti-feminism -- but I think that no real progress comes without balance and objectivity.

And to that end, I really do value spaces such as BlogSisters where women's voices and thoughts can flourish, and I value them all the more in knowing that men are listening in and thinking and learning and responding. There is a balance to be found, and I think we're starting to find it in small spots like this.

Tuesday, June 25, 2002

All Hail the Queen of BlogGeeks!
Awesomely articulate Andrea Roceal James is the subject of Frank Paynter's latest intense interview. Since this lovely GeekIcon is my apprentice Crone, I admit a very strong bias. But that's not the only reason I'm so delighted to have her as a Blog Sister. If there's such a thing as an "old soul," she is one of them. Read her interview and see why the world needs more twenty-something females like this Web Monkey Grrr. (And there's photos, too!)

Monday, June 24, 2002

Viva Blog Vegas

I decided to join Blog Sisters a few months ago, after finding myself reading and connecting to so many of the ideas posted here. I'm (here's the semi-obligatory self-description of the first post) a newish weblogger, a feminist teacher and writer, a married person, and the mother of a 6- year old boy, among other things. I've been interested in exploring the possibilities of virtual communities since first using a listserv in a writing class, especially the potential for civic engagement and activism.

Anyway, I recently attended a panel at a rhetoric conference in Las Vegas (of all places) on "Civic Implications of New Technologies." One of the speakers, John Killoran, from U of Colorado, Denver, gave an interesting paper comparing personal homepages with weblogs, arguing that weblogs, because of their "collaborative ethos" are better suited to create wide-spread civic engagement than more static homepages (the paper isn't published yet, but I hope it will be soon!). He discussed some of Dave Winer's ideas about technology and accessibility, and Rebecca Blood's writing on weblogs , particularly her claim that blogs offer a form of agency.

I found myself talking about Blog Sisters during the discussion, and how, in my view, it represents an innovative form of virtual community for women, a "place" from which to talk, to think to one's self or out loud, to argue, to listen, to persuade, to coax, to encourage, and to act (okay, I didn't say that, exactly, during the panel, but hindsight is revisionist, right?). I don't know yet how diverse or representative we are (I'm sure someone will study that soon), or how significant what we are doing here is, but I'm very glad to be going along with you all for the ride. Yiii-ha!

Saturday, June 22, 2002

Treaty for Women's Rights
Following up on Robin's and jfcates' posts below, I have posted a piece on my blog with links to the Treaty site and a call for action. Please feel free to use what I wrote on your own blogs or just steal my links and write your own plea in support of the Treaty.

On Women's Own Voices

I found This Page today, and have listened to Elizabeth Bishop reading Manuelzinho in her own voice, which I found fascinating. Listen and enjoy.

Islam, Conservative Christians and women's rights

In the New York Times this passed week was an editorial piece about the women's rights treaty. An overly graphic tale of an Islam Imman from Pakistan beating his wife until she ran away, and then after she was captured and returned, burning out her vagina with a 240volt charged iron rod, appalled me. What was even scarier is there has been no massive outcry generated from that article.

It is clear to me that the mysoginist attitudes of the Christian Right and their view of family values is very close to the mysoginist attitudes of Moslem fundamentalists. These are control issues built around women as family slave, as property of the master.

My field of work and study deals with images. Our cultural imagery is rife with thin submissive women and over muscled obnoxious men. The other image of men is the federal blue suit, white shirt and red power tie. Attorney John Ashcroft was so uncomfortable with the stone breasts of justice behind him when he talked that he made his department cover the work of art with a federal blue drape.

I am in the story board phase of my next video which will be about images. My first choice for an image is my mother in her wedding gown. It is a very long gown swirling out around her on the floor. Her veil is lifted only because the photo was to convey an after marriage image. The veil is the same veil the Moslem women are under, and it was a Christian veil. So the cultural connection is not that far in our past. Her dress also prevents her from easily walking, let alone running away. Her clothing traps her and conveys that message. Her body is displayed through curve and fold, allowing her maiden image to sexually arouse.

And I will go deeper into those meanings in the video.

America is sick. The country is sick with fear and self loathing. I see it in the bravado of militarism. A handful of whacko freak men managed to kill a few thousand souls whom deserved better. Now the leaders we have squabble over who let the idiots into the country and who let those idiots fly planes into working offices. The sickness is in the greed that opens us to whackos from abroad. And we are not considering the whackos who live here amonst us. Our sickness gives the symptom of whackos. An insidious possibility is that those that knew might have been hoping some sort of action would come so that they could do the very things they have done to take more intensive control in their co-op.

The rest of us are trying to figure out how to be appropriately patriotic, defensive, and still solve the major problems we had before the war on terror made discourse almost impossible. Roe vs. Wade may not be a perfect solution, but it is a far better solution than stoning to death women who have been raped and then accused of infidelity. Universal health care might just spend some money on the indigent. Structuring the economy to provide a living wage as a base might eliminate homelessness, but it would threaten the system of exploitation, too. Having the community raise our children as well as Mom and Dad, might not sell as many refridgerators--and I can witness for myself and my neighbors, the children can eat down all the refridgerators in a block pretty quickly--but global warming may slow down as a result.

Do we have it in us to pressure the congres to ratify the international women's treaty? Just because we already enjoy those privileges it seeks to enforce for all women, does that mean we can let the world's sisters suffer while we watch and use up the resources?

Another thing that has been pissing me off is the slamming of the Green Party, of which I am a member. I am a member because the other party, the Demopublicrats, has forgotten about me in favor of some good old boys who aren't even real, Mr. Inc's. I don't want to spoil elections, I want to win elections. I want Green Victories and the Green Platform.

Oh well, I've said my piece; just another feminine voice of love.


Friday, June 21, 2002

Two Blog Sisters Meet in Maine

Nothing better than a blog sister hangout day. Halley and Elaine had a day on the beach this week. I'm sure they'll post soon filling us in on the details. They must still be emptying sand out of their shoes. In the mean time, here they are, with Elaine sporting a groovy Blog Sisters' shirt! Where'd you get it Crone? I want one too!

Tuesday, June 18, 2002

Sisters Watch Out!
I'd very much like to know how Blog Sisters feel about one of the questions I asked on my site today. Here it is:
3.) What do you think about the alliance of conservative U.S. Christian organizations with Islamic governments (Iran, Libya, Iraq) "to halt the expansion of sexual political protections and rights of gays, women and children at United Nations conferences" (Washington Post article by Colum Lynch, June 17, 2002)?
I'm appalled by this, but will hold my tongue and see what others have to say. What I really wonder is what we can do about it?

Monday, June 17, 2002

A new male view?

I'm just back from two weeks in Europe, and in my in-box I find permission from a reader to reproduce his e-mail response to me regarding the "let's talk about sex" post. A bit belated, but because I found his thoughts to be thoughtful and surprising and--hell--even *revolutionary* coming from a "brother," I thought they were worth advertising (boldface is mine):

My big frustration is the same as yours but from a different view. I have a girlfriend that I am absolutely smitten by. To me, she is as
erotic as any model I've seen in pictures, even more so because I am in love with her. But she is plagued by the same fears that I find in most of my female friends. I am sick to death of women who do not diet in order to be healthy (although that is what they claim), but in order to be thin. Thin does nothing for me. I am not aroused by thin bodies. I am not aroused by fat bodies. In fact, I am not sure if I am aroused at all by simply the female body. I am aroused by women who feel strong and exude beauty of spirit. True, feeling sexy is part of the strength that is attractive to me. It just so happens that in our culture, it is nearly impossible for women to feel sexy if they are not thin.

Our culture continually focuses on how women get the short end of the stick. This is such a lie. Men are cheated just as much as women when our culture cultivates the objectification of women. Though men might not talk as freely about it, we are just as eager to have good relationships as women are. We will talk about how we want to have good sex. To us, good sex is a manifestation of a good relationship and I believe this is true. Good sex is a sign of a good relationship. It's just too bad that a lot of men don't understand how a relationship can still be good if the sex is not good. It's taken me years to learn the satisfaction of non-competitive social interactions. How sad is that? It just so happens that my mate truly does not care how much money I earn. I am blessed that she is so enlightened on the matter but I am nonetheless plagued with feelings of inadequacy. The same goes for her body. So here is the rub. It sucks to be a man just as much as it sucks to be a woman. If only men understood how much better sex would be if our culture found a healthier way to portray women. I would say it is poetic justice that our superficiality keeps us from being sexually satisfied. But there is no justice in it.

Until women and men learn how to communicate better, relationships will suffer and we both lose. Normally it is me who is walking down the street when a friend gawks at the hot babe on a bus advertisement and my stomach churns. "You fuckin moron," I think to myself. If only you knew how you perpetuate your fate of continually unsatisfying relationships and how you add to the stumbling blocks placed in my way.

Blogging in Iran

This is an interesting article from the BBC about how people in Iran are finding freedom on the web where they can't get it in 3-space. Very cool. Let's hope that the Iranian government continues to leave internet access and the web free and uncensored. Heaven knows the people there can use a way to express themselves unhindered.

I don't know much about Iran, but what I do know scares me. I had friends, a brother and a sister, in college who were Iranian. Their family had converted to Christianity and left Iran when they were both young, I assume at least in part because of the danger that decision had put them in. My friend Nagmeh had a scar on her forhead where she had been marked in case she ever tried to return to Iran.
This is for Linda -- too long to fit into the comment box...

I have struggled a bit with depression myself, going back to the time I was a teenager. I don't think my depression was anywhere near as extreme as many have to deal with (but it's always so hard to compare -- as you say, it's not tangible, and sometimes you wonder whether you're just being melodramatic). Anyway, back when I was a teenager, that was when I started writing. Writing became a "psychology of survival" for me (a term once used by a friend, which seemed very apt). I wrote a lot of poetry back then, it made my dark, melancholy feelings more tangible, and, perversely, beautiful.

Later, as I began to mature in my coping skills, I distanced myself from writing because I associated it with my depression, and I wanted to get myself out of my head and back into the “real world.” I spent about a year on antidepressants (Paxil/peroxitine), before deciding to cut myself off of them (much to the consternation of my doctor, whom I hadn’t consulted in this decision). The antidepressants worked wonders initially, but I disliked the side effects, which I described at the time as making “looking through my brain feel like trying to see without my glasses” -- they seemed to blur the edges and made me feel slightly stupid. Trying to write a simple essay for school seemed an impossible feat.

However, there was certainly something to the logic behind them, and that’s when I learned to think of my depression not as some dark romantic poetry, but as a simple imbalance of chemicals in my brain. I began to learn how to manipulate my chemistry through things like exercise (endorphins = new chemical to add to the mix), and through keeping a close eye on diet (sugar = impending crashes, caffeine (in moderation) = medicine). I also saw an acupuncturist on a couple occasions, and this worked a small wonder towards revamping my waning energy level, or my “chi” as they called it (aka “get-up-and-go”).

Then I learned to manage what was left through a lot of introspection and learning to understand my psychology (beyond my chemistry), and this I still do. I take note of things which consistently trip off the downward spiral (such as weekends with too much free time and no plans or structure, too much time alone, or allowing myself to become overly tired or hungry), and I make a point to structure my life so that I don’t run into those obstacles -- I keep a very busy life these days, so that free time is something I covet instead of fearing. Free days I structure around exercise -- I’ve learned that part of my depression comes from not having enough channels to release my abundance of mental and physical energy. So I’ve taken up taekwon do, and I avoid the after-work slump by going to my taekwon do classes every evening whether I’m in the mood or not (it’s amazing how difficult it is to feel depressed when you’re walloping the hell out of a bag). I identify things which I know will result in making me feel good (like friends who can make me laugh), and I keep these in the back of my mind as “medicine” to take if I should feel a tinge of depression coming on. I have learned that it’s much easier to manage it preventatively than it is to pull myself out of a pit of despair once I’m in there, so I try really hard to not let myself ever get there.

I remember a conversation I once had in college (which is when it was at its worst) – the guy I was talking to was several years older than me, and I remember talking to him about my depression and asking plaintively whether this would ever go away. And he told me: No. But you will learn to cope with it. And as you do, you will find yourself getting better and better at coping with it. And after a while, you won’t even remember that you’re “coping” anymore.

This is where I’m at now. I sometimes think that my depression is a thing of the past -- just a little melodramatic episode indulged by a less mature self -- but then I’ll relax my “structure” ever so slightly -- I’ll leave myself a long weekend with nothing to do -- and suddenly it will come swooping in with astonishing speed. My chemistry does not change, and yet, I rarely feel a victim to it anymore.

And now I am able to return to writing…which I love like an old friend.

I hope that some of this might be helpful to you – feel free to drop me an email if you want to talk further – though I also know that everyone’s depression is very personal, and what works for one person may not do anything for another. But the trick, I think, is to have faith in yourself and your own resilience and to KNOW that you will get past it -- and don’t, DO NOT allow yourself to get attached to it (this may sound absurd, but it is so true) – and, lastly, think in terms of moving forward through it, not backwards to a time you knew from before.

And of course, miserable beast that it is while you’re in it, you will know yourself so much more deeply once you’re through it. Having to battle with depression made me very much the person I am, and for that I can hardly hate it.

Saturday, June 15, 2002

Can there be anything worse than the label "newbie"...

I ask you, as I sit here trembling in delight attempting to make my first (oh, I HOPE this isn't my only) entry to Blog Sisters. I am so tickled to be found worthy to be invited by Elaine to join you. In the few days since my discovery of your blog alliance I've found the entries here and at the Sister sites to be inciteful and more than a little intimidating.

Most of you seem to be professionals well into your careers. I admire and in many ways envy that. I, on the other hand, am a stay-at-home mom. Oh, don't get me wrong, I can already hear your statements, "there's nothing wrong with that, you are just as valid in your choices as the rest of us..." but (can you here that echo?) but, it's not choice that places me here. I worked for many years before I had my youngest son. I worked my way up the ranks in a small independent bank. I felt my career was well in hand (not one I really *wanted* but sometimes you settle, right?). Then an illness struck me that I've fought for the last 7 years.

Um, no, not the "C" word. Don't I wish it were that simple. (Don't get me wrong here, I know cancer is devistating, but at least there's something tangible you can find with an X-ray, MRI or other diagnostic tools) Depression took over my life, deflated my ego and has laid me out. It's part of why I joined Blogger in the first place. I needed a place I could share my emotions and frustration at this fleeting, intangible illness. I wanted to fight, to find the Linda I was when I was 25, the strong and vital woman I know is hiding in this cringing mass of fear and frustration.

The crazy thing is, and I use the term "crazy" rather loosely here :-D, my on-line life, Blogger and a couple of writers' groups I've joined, has helped me find a Linda that I didn't even know existed. She's still strong, maybe not as vital as she was 15 years ago, but she's working on it. But there's this love for putting my own words out there for others to look at (and hopefully admire :-), of which I didn't know I was capable. I'm still fighting to climb from this quagmire of self-doubt and self-despite. I remind myself daily that it's not me, it's what's going on in my brain, and I try to find the little victories every day (Yesterday the little one used the potty 3 times and remembered to poop in it THAT is a victory around here :-D ).

I also add my attempt to reach out, and Elaine's subsequent invitation to join you, as a victory too! I hope that by being drawn into a community of woman like yourselves, I can look at each of you, the beauty each of you offer to the world, your ideas for dealing with the ugliness, and find that ability, that beauty in myself. I want to draw it out and show it like a precious jewel...

Oh my and ewww...sorry for spewing that bit of fluff there...but it is true. :-) I want to draw out all that is good in myself and share it as best I can in an adverse situation. Thank you again, Elaine, for the invitation {{{{{{{{{{{{{{hugs all my new Blog Sisters}}}}}}}}}}}}}} and thank you Jennifer for pointing the way here.

Friday, June 14, 2002

You Can't Have Love and Patriarchy.
I was going to post this here, but I'm hoping men will read if it's on my own blog.

rethinking home

I just found out that the beloved old farmhouse in which I've lived for 4 years was originally an overseer's house on a plantation before the Civil War. We knew the place was old, we just didn't know it was that old. I don't know how to feel about my home now. This dear house, which has been such a peaceful haven for me and my friends, was once the site of punishment and oppression. Can I still love the place? Does a building's history shape what it means throughout the generations? Does redemption extend to locations as well as people?

I guess I shouldn't be surprised. You can't turn around in this part of Virginia without bumping against something really, really old. Really, really old = slavery. And we knew the slave graveyard was on the property. I just didn't think our contact with the past was that intimate.

I want to reclaim this house, shield it from its own past, and stamp it forever as the sweet place that it seems. I want to be able to visit it in 50 years. But to save it from the rampant over-development in our area, to try to get its Historic Landmark designation, would label it forever as part of something evil. But at least it'd still be there -- and if there are no ghosts now, maybe its history as a family home will be as much its reputation as its original purpose.

Most of all, I just want my home back. I feel like I've been evicted.

Thursday, June 13, 2002

Invasive species, genetic manipulation, "daughterlessness"

Here is an article from New Scientist that I came across last month. I find it upsetting on so many levels that I am unable to comment.

Indie Brides?

From NPR "Type-A "Bridezillas" often insist on the "perfect" white wedding, with flower petals and bridesmaids' hair colored the same shade. But some women are trying to thwart the wedding industrial complex with wedding potlucks and a dress from Goodwill. Now there's a cottage industry to accommodate the indie bride, replete with Web sites, books and even therapists." Listen to this quite interesting audio. If I get married, this is how it's going.

Wednesday, June 12, 2002

Helping Pregnant Girls Make it through High School

My dear Adam sent me this interesting article about a high school in Sydney that's making significant efforts toward aiding pregnant teenagers in finishing out high school. This is a really forward thinking idea, and I salute it. It's tough enough to make it through high school without a kid. Helping young mothers (rather than shaming them or ignoring them so that they drop out) benefits not only the girls, but the children who are dependent on them.

Tuesday, June 11, 2002

Who is she, really!
RageBoy confidante? Cabo Frio groupie? Proud Mama? Hot babe? E-writer extraordinaire? The ultimate Blog Sister? All of the above and more, of course, and you can find out all you ever wanted to know about Jeneane Sessum in her interview with Frank Paynter -- hot, hot, hot off the blogpress NOW!
It's time for some levity!
Martha's way#1: Stuff a miniature marshmallow in the bottom of a sugar cone to prevent ice cream drips.
The Real Women's Way: Just suck the ice cream out of the bottom of the cone, for Pete's sake.

Martha's way #2: To keep potatoes from budding, place an apple in the bag with the potatoes.
The Real Women's Way: Buy Hungry Jack mashed potato mix and keep it in the pantry for up to a year.

Martha's way #3: When a cake recipe calls for flouring the baking pan, use a bit of the
dry cake mix instead and there won't be any white mess on the outside of the cake.
The Real Women's Way: Go to the bakery. They'll even decorate it for you.

Martha's way #4: If you accidentally over salt a dish while it's still cooking, drop in a peeled potato and it will absorb the excess salt for an instant "fix me up."
The Real Women's Way: If you over salt a dish while you are cooking, that's too damn bad. (Please recite with me, The Real Women's motto: I made it and you will eat it and I don't care how bad it tastes. )

Martha's way #5: Wrap celery in aluminum foil when putting in the refrigerator and it will keep for weeks.
The Real Women's Way: Celery? Never heard of the stuff.

Martha's way #6: Brush some beaten egg white over pie crust before baking to yield a beautiful glossy finish.
The Real Women's Way: The Mrs. Smith frozen pie directions do not include brushing egg whites over the crust so I just don't do it.

Martha's way #: 7
Don't throw out all that leftover wine. Freeze into ice cubes for future use in casseroles and sauces.
The Real Women's Way: Leftover wine??????

Monday, June 10, 2002

Ventriloquism & Hemingway Heroes

Over the weekend Chris Locke (aka Rageboy) wrote to me that his sister refers to the tendency of women (most notably in business) to act like men as "ventriloquism," a concept found in Folklore studies.

A quick search turned up a paper on this subject by Galit Hasan-Rokem of The Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Hasan-Rokem discusses what she describes as "the garbed or even distorted voice of ventriloquism," in which "a ventriloquist looks as if she or he are quiet and the voice emerges from somewhere else, from somebody else's mouth, very often the mouth of an effigy." Questions arise in instances when ventriloquism is identified as preferable to the true articulation of voice, leading one to ask: Who causes the mouth of the owner of the voice to hide its own voice and to transpose the voice to another, false source? And why? Hasan-Rokem suggests that the answer to this question may be found in experiences with children, in which the authentic mouth is forbidden to utter its speech. Alternatively, it may be ashamed to speak, or have another tactical reason for hiding the source of speech, such as a contrived deception, or simply for play.

This explanation reminds me of so many of the early female voices of literature, which were masked behind the names of men, such as the Bronte sisters, publishing as Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell, and George Eliot, who was really one Mary Anne Evans. Now we are seeing the inverse in the form of the token female at the helm of business, smiling at us from the other side of the glass, but she may in fact be just a mask for what amounts to just another male voice. Much like Hemingway's scarce and notably unfeminine female heroes.

I recall my frustrated response to reading The Sun Also Rises in college -- I was infuriated at his female heroes far more than their male counterparts, namely in the case of Brett Ashley, because she was not in fact a woman at all -- rather she was a female ventriloquist masking a male voice and a male persona. And even more interesting and enraging was the fact that Brett featured not only as the odd heroine, but that Hemingway wrote her onto a pedestal, elevated higher even than Jake (our male protagonist and Brett's failed lover). As I recall, by the end of the story Brett is left standing alone as the one example of a "real man," after all of her male peers have shown themselves to be cowards or failures in some form. In Brett, the Hemingway voice finds not only his ideal human -- a man -- but a man in the bodily form of a woman, whom he could take as a lover and love as a lover, and yet respect as a man.

There is of course nothing wrong with the male voice -- nor is the so-called "male" voice necessarily strictly male, any more than the "female" voice is strictly female. In fact, quite often I find that I am able to express myself sometimes more articulately but no less genuinely through languages that I have picked up from my male peers, or a fusion of those languages and my own.

But I suspect there is a distinction somewhere which finds its source in the notion of "integrity," one definition of which is: the quality or condition of being whole or undivided; completeness. The insult lies in the distortion of a form (a person, a role) into something that it, at its core, is not.

Of course, literature is symbolism, and symbolism tends toward the extremes of black and white to make itself understood -- not so in real life. My lone female CEO I'm sure is no Brett Ashley, but it may just be that the same societal influences that gave birth to Ernest Hemingway, thus in turn giving birth to Brett Ashley, have had a hand in shaping our modern day Hemingway Heroine-style female CEO.


Hope you popped over to Jeneane to wish her on her 29th (well, close!), 'coz she's going to be quite miffed if you haven't!

Here's something I made yesterday but had trouble uploading since Blogger was giving its usual share of problems.

Pass the cake and champagne around please :)

Sunday, June 09, 2002

Birthday Reminder.

I found this site to help me remember Jeneane next year. Kinda fun.

Happy Day for Jeneane!

Let's hear it for Jeneane, the brilliant mind behind Blogsisters! Today is her 29th birthday (heheheh-- that's what my half-sister says when it's her birthday, anyway). Seriously, though, let's all wish her a good day, since she can't be with her hubby.

Thursday, June 06, 2002

This is a piece I recently wrote for my own blog site, but I thought it might be of relevance here as well, for the sake of discussion, which I'd love to hear...

we are our own glass ceilings

I am coordinating a conference attended by MIT faculty and financial industry executives. Of 11 faculty and 14 senior executives, only one attendee is a woman. I am appalled that there is only one woman. And I am intrigued by her. In an industry so blatantly ceilinged in glass, who is she and how did she come to break through?

At lunch, I make a point to seat myself at her table. I watch her interactions, her mannerisms. I want to learn something from her; I want her approval.

My first impression is that she seems harder, overtly shrewder than her male peers. The old question: is this because she is, or because we are accustomed to women being gentler and warmer? I note that her gaze is not enveloping and her smile is not warm -- when offered, it is very obviously for effect.

I watch as she does a quick assessment, as introductions are made around the table, of who is important and who is not. I am mildly stunned when she stops short of me -- she does not bother to ask my name or my affiliation. Instead she zones in immediately on the Dean. She dominates the conversation.

However, I am not willing to accept my status of invisible simply because she has decreed it. I know the posture of confidence, and I have learned how to wear it well enough, along with my moderately expensive suit. I make eye contact around the table and join the conversation when I have something to say. The male faculty members acknowledge me, but she does not.

Her only acknowledgement of me throughout the entire meal is an off-handed remark about receptionists and their distaste for being asked to fetch coffee; at which point she looks at me and smiles. For effect.

I am livid.

I am far too professional to react. I smile back. For effect.

But I want to know in what way I communicated myself to be a receptionist. Just last week my boss, also a woman, was remarking on how interesting she finds it that the faculty here (yes, primarily male) speak to me so readily, as if I am a peer rather than a servant, and treat me with respect, as if I am worthy -- me being but a program administrator of junior status. This is surprising to her, and fairly unusual, she tells me, as well as commendable -- me being neither senior in rank nor male in gender. But it is not surprising to me, because when at work I pay a lot of attention to the way in which I present myself -- the ways in which poise, dress, and mannerisms communicate professionalism, status, and whether one expects respect or not. Of course these men respect me: I tell them to in no uncertain terms through an array of non-verbal communication cues.

So how is it then, that this woman dismisses me and my carefully articulated communication cues so quickly, and makes the assumption that I am merely a receptionist with little more on my mind than whether to be peeved should someone ask me for coffee? On what basis has she made this assumption?

If this woman had been a man, I would have thought her a sexist pig right out of the 1950s.

I do not really believe that glass ceilings block women simply because they are women. I believe that the sparse appearance of women at the top has much more to do with how women communicate themselves, the goals we set, where we place our priorities, and quite simply, how much we are prepared to ask for -- or demand. I believe that I can go as far as I like, achieve anything I put my mind to.

But this woman has taken a pretty hefty swing at this belief of mine. Is she an anomaly? Or are we, in this case, as always, our own gender's worst enemy?
Thank you, Fishrush!
A quick analysis described in great mathematical detail by Kent over at indicates Companies run by or employing women in key upper level positions appear to outperform other companies. The girls appear to win. Of course, he does hedge by using the word "appear," and he does stress that his data might not be completely accurate.

BUT, even though, as he admits, his data collecting and analysis is "quick and dirty", it's still impressive. So take a look at see for yourself. Check out the stats he collected that show that the girls can outrun the boys, or at least when it came to business stuff during the first 6 months of 2002, they appear to outperform. If anyone comes up with more information to shed light on this subject, we'd love to know.

Even with Kent's equivocation, we're lookin' goooooood!

Wednesday, June 05, 2002

Two Down, Eighty Or So To Go??

Frank Paynter, the new Mike Wallace/Barbara Walters of Blogland, strikes again. This was great fun, I highly recommend it. Elaine, you concur? I'm just wondering if he's going to ask about Mike Golby's "co-ed" days, or if he'll save that for the sistas.

Did you know...

...the US is one of the very few countries in the world that has not ratified The Women's Human Rights Treaty?
Amnesty has info.

Single in the USA

If you missed the first part of NPR's new Tuesday series called "Single in America" make sure you take the time to listen to it. Susan Stanberg explores why Americans are waiting longer to get married. According to the story, in our twenties we're finding ourselves instead of jumping head first into marriage. Also, men want their wives to be more independent. Anyway, this is a breathe of fresh air since I'm constantly being criticized for not being married.

Tuesday, June 04, 2002

What would you tell your (activist) kid?
I've been stumbling around this issue with my son (b!X) for years now, and I'm not sure what I think. It has to do with this question that he posted in a comment related to the rapemonger blogger getting kicked off Blogger. This is his question: Out of curiosity, do people here think that this numrod should be banned from the Internet entirely, or simply from Blogger? Should all blogging providers adopt use policies against such speech?

Truthfully, I don't know where the line should be drawn or if a line should be drawn at all when it comes to "free speech." Now, with Blogger, there's a policy about what kinds of materials are allowed, and since Blogger's a free service, Ev can make any rules he wants. But what about other sites? Should they be allowed -- under the guise of free speech -- to promote raping women? What would you tell your kid about whether or not some things on the internet should be censored? Even if you believe that porn falls under First Amendment protections, what about the kinds of stuff this guy was promoting?
Hee hee
Why stick people are extinct.

Too old, too blind, and a career up in smoke before it began

With the economy in a continued recession, even if our media keeps telling us it's improving, and an even worse recession in my own household, it occured to me that our country could provide some interesting and mutually beneficial employment opportunities!

I mean, after all, they need to hire 900 FBI special agents. And what kind of skills does a special agent need to have? Good research skills? Got it! Project management skills? Got that, too! multi-tasking and dealing with difficult clients? Got that in droves! I was MADE for the FBI, my husband, too! All this, I figured out, while driving to work at my on-its-last-venture-dollar dot com. Upon arrival, in my excitement, I brought up the official FBI Web page. Yup, there it was, 900 honest-to-goodness, real live job openings. We want YOU, it seemed to say. We NEED you! I could do something for my country, travel to exotic places, know about important stuff before it happens...I could already picture dropping off my little girl with grandma, "I'll be in touch," I'd whisper, "I'm afraid that's all I can say right now. Take care of Phoebe." It would be hard, but fulfilling. I began reading the description before me. OK, OK , so the pay is a bit low, but I could be a higher paid Intelligence agent. After all, I'm intelligent! Oh, wait. There's a whole page of requirements. Uh oh, here we go. So, apparently, only current or prior government employees are eligible. Well that's a problem off the bat, but what if, I thought, at least let's keep reading...

Well, it turns out, you must be between the ages of 23 and 37 to qualify for the FBI. And that's not all. There are a few other limitations. Just a few. Your eye site CAN NOT be any worse than 20/200 in one eye (So, at 20/600 in both, even if I was still 23...) your hearing must be damn near perfect, (I'm sorry, what did you say?) and, while you CAN have smoked marijuana ("The FBI undestands that many Americans may have experimented during their youths...", you CAN NOT have smoked it more than 15 times in your lifetime (Oh well, that's the clincher! If it hadn't been for that 16th time!). My dream, slashed before my CRD-exhausted eyes!

Let's just hope the FBI can find 900 23-37 year-old damn near perfect -seeing, perfect -hearing, lilly -white smart individuals who can smoke out terrorists!!

We're doomed, are we not???
I prefer a littlle different spice
While I recognize and accept the cultural signficance of the rappings of Eminem and other males of his ilk, personally, I prefer a little more Salt 'n Pepa:

Now tell me, baby, how many hints must I make before you get the picture
That I like it when you talk to me? You say it loud what you say
Don't shy away, say it to my face, talk sweet to me
Go up and down and go round and do all that
But don't forget that I'm a sister with a thing for the sound
So make a sexy noise when you're on your way down
Yeah, all the way down

I guess I'm just an old '70s "make love not war" type.

Monday, June 03, 2002

Deconstructing Eminem--Comments Brought Up a Level

Ladies, I found the comments under the last Eminem post really interesting, so I'm putting them up into the flow here. They are as follows:


From Eve:

Actually, much of Eminem's lyrics are just about exactly the same as Dr. Dre's, Snoop Dogg's, NWA's, etc., etc. If you look at it in a certain light, Eminem gets lots of flack because he's white. It's almost as if folks "expect" black rappers to be violent and misogynistic, but when a white rapper does it- god forbid. It could just be another form of racism.

The other part of Eminem is to understand the difference between reality and music. Sometimes it's a matter of art imitating life. But usually it's a way to vent. Or be controvertial. Some of what Eminem talks about is actually right on the money, and that pisses people off to no end.

"When a dude's getting bullied and shoots up his school and they blame it on Marilyn and the heroin... where were the parents at? And look where it's at- middle america now it's a tragedy, now it's so sad to see an upper class city having this happen..." (from "The Way I Am" off of The Marshall Mathers LP)

Most of the problems with all music is that folks miss the point completely and attack the things that make them uncomfortable.

I'm not fond of Eminem's personal life in any way, and I believe that his misogynism, if we are calling it that, is a reflection of a larger cultural misogynism and a general acceptance of violence against women.

I say this because we have too lenient policies on wife beaters and rapists. Women still make less money per hour than men, and are often put in a double bind when the choose to be mothers, not to be mothers, stay home with their children, or work full-time. Women are constantly having to keep guard of their constitutional equality with men- it is perpetually being jepardized by pro-life interests and fundamentalist Christians who wish to keep women subordinated to men at all costs.

Much of rap is a cultural commentary. A rather in-your-face cultural commentary at that. Eminem just happens to be the attack-point du jour.

And one more thing- Lynn Cheney is speaking on behalf of women? Isn't her clan involved in the cultural movement to keep women subordinated to men? So how does that make her better than Eminem?


From Andrea

He may have extreme lyrics, but I think he's definitely not simply a dumb jerk who has hate-filled lyrics. There's a sly cleverness and a creepiness to '97 Bonnie and Clyde that goes beyond simple misogynist. For that alone I'll give him some credit.

Not fond of his music (if I'm gonna listen to rap/hip-hop, it'll probably be more upbeat stuff, the Fugees or Erykah Badu), but I think there's more behind his lyrics than the sensationlism and the mindless violent fans allow.


Eric Raps on Rap

Eric Norlin's latest TDCRC gives some interesting insight into superstar rapper Eminem, born Marshall Mathers. Interesting to me was Eric's description of Eminem's purposeful personas (up to 3), and what he is trying to achieve in his music through their interplay. That the media has focused its attention only on one of those personas--the most abnoxious--is perhaps predictable, but also interesting. It's something I hadn't thought about before.

As Eminem goes, I wasn't quite aligned with Lynn Cheney (Dick's babe), who has labeled Eminem's music "the most extreme example of rock lyrics used to demean women, rock lyrics used to advocate violence against women." I was more in the, "Great, another white boy rapper getting over by pandering to the Kid Rock crowd" camp. Has Eminem gotten a bad rap as a debaser of women? Lover of violence? Lyrical imposter? I'm thinking maybe.

Given Eric's passion for Eminem, I'm going to give him real listen before I decide. That Eric compares Eminem to RageBoy, alone, makes this TDCRC worth the price of admission.

The rapemonger blogger is gone!
Just letting everyone now that the idiot on Blogger who was giving information on date rape drugs on his blog has been banished by Ev. Thanks to for alerting us and thanks to all those who contact Ev and asked him to shut the guy down. See, we can make a difference.

Sunday, June 02, 2002

Stay In The Game

On Thursdays, I play Scrabble with my 94-year old friend, Ruth. She and I were talking the other day about games. She's played games her whole life and when times are tough, she likes to get out the cribbage board, or dig up the Monopoly game or deal a nice hand of Hearts. She says a big part of life is just learning how to get through the hard times, the lonely times, the sad times -- you just have to learn to stay in the game.

She often asks me if I remember things that I couldn't have possibly lived through, but it's great to have her ask anyway. She told me about a dance she went to once which sounded like so much fun — in 1923 — I think I was there in spirit — I can do quite a knee-knocking Charleston. She asks me if I remember the 1918 Influenza epidemic. I tell her I have read about it. Her father died that year -- she was 10, a young girl in New Hampshire. "That's when I learned to be tough and just get through," she tells me. She talks about some of her favorite Scrabble players, now all dead, but she remembers all the special ways they had of playing — who could come up with the most amazing words, who could play fast as lightning to keep the pressure on their opponent, who always drew too many letters and kindof cheated a bit. She misses them. "I don't know how people get through life without playing games," she says.

This afternoon, Jackson, my 6-year-old son and I are learning new games. He's just starting Scrabble Junior. He's finally learning cribbage with me and leaving the little pegs in my cribbage board alone, instead of playing with them and losing them as he did when he was younger. We're playing an art game called Masterpiece. You buy famous paintings and the values are assigned to them randomly. He's mad he just bought a painting he loves — Edward Hopper's Nighthawks and the value card says "Forgery" which means it's not worth the $4,000,000 in phony money he had to pay. We have a Starbuck's mug with their version of the famous painting on it and he loves that mug. I ask him how the painting makes him feel. "It looks fun to stay up late at night," he says, "but the people look lonely."

Go To The Head Of The Class

I see Rageboy's working on his commencement speech for Eve Ensler's Institute of Vaginal Knowledge. He'll have the coeds rocking back and forth in their seats, oh yes. Those girls just love matriculating. But seriously ... in the rigorous academic environment of Rageboy's employer, the University of Blogaria, with their "publish or perish" tradition, this might just get him tenure and finally, the sabbatical he's been hoping for. Just think, he could spend a whole year in a cabin in the mountains, doing what he does best -- writing.

Saturday, June 01, 2002

Join the Quilt
On this site you can submit a jpeg (basesd on their instructions for size etc.) that will be added to The [digital] Quilt of Phenomenal Women. I submitted one ages ago and forgot about it until I got their notification email today. Mine is in the last batch, which is the #63 batch. I want to encourage all Blog Sisters to send one in for yourself, since you all are so phenomenal. I think we should send in a separate one for BlogSisters. Should we have a contest to see who can design the coolest Blog Sisters digital quilt square? What say you? (Everyone who is in the quilt gets to put a logo on her site that says she is part of that project. I just put mine on mine.) Maybe the square can become our logo too? We don't have one, you know; we are using the blogsticker in place of one right now. Any thoughts?
Yes, Andrea, you don't need MoJo
(I'm double posting this because I think Andrea's post deserves a read by all BlogSisters.)
On Andrea's site a beautiful photo of her playing her beautiful acoustic guitar and not the MoJo JoJo special that she wanted so badly to win from Cartoon Network. (Sorry Andrea, I tried.)

Even more beautiful is her post on "forgiveness," triggered by AKMA's recent essays, and brought to home and heart by a very smart young woman who has shown before how wise she is beyond her years.

on our mothers' knees

Glace has an interesting post on the mixed messages of "enlightened" mothers, still chained to popularity and social proprieties. Rings true to me.

What to do with teenagers when roller skating gets old? SkyZone!

As the mother of a teenage daughter, figuring out activities that give ME a break, are nearby, don't involve computers and cell phones...