Archive for rampant stupidity

Comedy isn’t pretty

Posted in pop culture with tags on July 20, 2009 by Gena Radcliffe

Forbes put out a list of the ten highest earning comedians in America, a list that inspires nothing if not a vague sense of despair, which often disguises itself as mild nausea or a nagging ache in the back of the head.

Here’s pretty much everything you need to know about who made it onto the list…

1. None of them are women.

2. Only one of them is actually funny.

3. Two are ventriloquists.

Two of them I’ve never even heard of, but that just says something about me, as you can have my George Carlin and Bill Hicks albums when you pry them from my cold, dead 18-fingered hands (did you get that Bill Hicks reference there?).  I’m not exactly hip to what’s new and now in comedy, though apparently it’s still ventriloquism, which is a disheartening surprise.  Number ten on the list is Russell Peters, who I initially confused with ludicrously coiffed man-whore Russell Brand, then realized I was mistaken.  Russell Peters is a Canadian comedian who apparently sells out shows at Madison Square Garden, though I’ll be damned if I can tell you who he is or anything he’s done.  The rest of the list, with the exception of Chris Rock, is a tired, disappointing list consisting of sitcom actors, the previously mentioned ventriloquists, game show hosts, members of the Blue Collar Comedy Tour and of course, the ubiquitous Dane Cook, who has long been proven as a one-trick pony who mostly lifts material from other comedians, yet continues to fill stadiums with the sons and nephews of the misogynistic frat boys who went to see Andrew Dice Clay perform in the 80s.

In the era of heir to King George’s throne Patton Oswalt, the absurdist humor of Jim Gaffigan and just the sheer fabulousness of Eddie Izzard, why do Americans still like our comedy so durn stoopid? I have my doubts that Jeff Foxworthy has even written a new joke in twenty years, let alone anything that diverts from the “you might be a redneck if…” shtick.  I remember being a kid and watching Howie Mandel do the pulling the rubber glove over his head shit, thinking it wasn’t all that hilarious then, and now he’s a comedy powerhouse?  No wonder shows like Comedy Central’s Stella and Michael and Michael Have Issues flounder in the ratings, they’re clearly not what the average American finds funny.  Dead terrorists and jokes about fucking your sister, that’s gold.  You know how they always find the black box intact after a plane crash? Why don’t they make the whole plane out of the black box? What is the deal with that? That was my Jerry Seinfeld impersonation, thank you, thank you, I’ll be here all week.


Smoke ’em if you got ’em

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on July 15, 2009 by Gena Radcliffe

chesterfieldAs seen at pretty much every news outlet everywhere, a study commissioned by the Pentagon and the Department of Veteran Affairs is pushing to ban both the sale and use of tobacco on military bases and even by officers serving in active combat.

According to the study, tobacco use impairs military readiness in the short term. Over the long term, it can cause serious health problems, including lung cancer and cardiovascular disease. The study also says smokeless tobacco use can lead to oral and pancreatic cancer.

My first question after reading this is “How much of our tax dollars went towards a study that results in information we already knew at least thirty years ago?” My second is “Really? Really?” Not surprisingly, follow-up articles suggest that this would not be a popular decision with many of those serving our country.

McCarter echoed the sentiments of many active-duty and retired military personnel when they learned of the proposed ban this week. Message boards on popular military forums like, and were burning up with reactions like “what a CROCK” and “If they really do ban tobacco in the military there are going to be some ****ed off troops.”

Do people actually censor the word “pissed” when they type it out? That’s actually kind of cute.  But I digress.  I don’t smoke, I think I’ve mentioned that before.  Growing up in a family where nearly everyone smoked like chimneys at some point, I made it a point never to pick up the habit myself.  I’ve also mentioned before that my father died earlier this year from complications of emphysema, an illness that could have only come from a forty year long addiction to cigarettes.  Despite all that, I find the notion of banning smoking in the military, even for soldiers risking their lives in some godforsaken desert in the middle of Iraq, to be rather ludicrous.  Considering the suicide rate for military personnel is already distressingly high, not to mention the fact that quitting cigarettes can have the same effect on a person emotionally and physically as quitting harder drugs such as heroin and crystal meth, I shudder to think what sort of effect a widespread ban on tobacco use would have.  I don’t know about you, but I really don’t want our troops even more aggressive and temperamental than they already are.  Considering the sobering statistics of rape and violence in the military, that appears to be quite enough of a problem as is.

I’m going to guess that, particularly for soldiers serving in active duty, asthma and the possibility of heart disease are low on their list of things to worry about, when they’re faced every day with the chance of stepping on a landmine or getting their heads turned to jelly by sniper rifles.  It seems to me that the real issue here isn’t about military personnel who smoke and the effect it has on their health, but the cost of treating smoking-related illnesses by VA hospitals.  It’s a reasonable concern, considering that in many cases the government funded medical services provided to veterans are woefully inadequate, but eliminating smoking entirely, particularly when it may be the only thing that keeps someone’s shit together when faced with the very real horror of combat, seems rather cruel.  What are they supposed to use as an alternative, chewing gum? Carrot sticks?

It’s also ironic when you take into account that, barely a generation ago, the military was where many young men first took up smoking in the first place.  My father served in the Army in the early 60s and recalled being given cigarettes as a reward for completing assignments at his base.  My ex-father-in-law did a tour of duty in Vietnam and was given cigarettes as part of his rations.  Originally plying their servicemen and women with cigarettes as incentive for being good little soldiers, now they want to take them away, mostly because it costs too much money to take care of them if those cigarettes make them sick.  Will there be funds and facilities available to help them through the agony of nicotine withdrawal? Not likely, if the piss-poor state of mental health support is any indicator.  I’ve never been the flag-waving, yellow ribbon sporting “support our troops” type, but I gotta say: let these people have their damn smokes.  It may be literally the only thing they rely on for comfort.  They know it may make them sick down the line, all people who smoke know it’s bad for them, but last I checked it’s still legal for a person to take that chance.

Cynthia Davis: “Let them eat cake.”

Posted in politics with tags on June 24, 2009 by Gena Radcliffe

Found through Think Progress, State Representative Cynthia Davis (R-MO) questions if public school summer meal programs for impoverished children are a good use of state funds.

Is school the only place a child can get a nutritious meal? Parents have good reason to dispute the idea that their children will not receive a nutritious meal if they are not in a government institution.  Who should be the one to pass judgment on what defines a nutritious meal?

Ah, yes, how presumptuous of schools to assume that parents need extra services to feed their children, when all they have to go by is the fact that one out of five Missouri schoolchildren goes hungry?

This is not a discussion of how to handle the public orphanage.  These are children who have parents already providing meals for their children.  This program could have an unintended consequence of diminishing parental involvement.  Why have meals at home with your loved ones if you can go to the government soup kitchen and get one for free?  This could have the effect of breaking apart more families.

Of course! If children are getting supplemental meals from school, it keeps them out of the home for an hour or two a day, which could be damaging to the family unit.  Fuck proper nutrition, maintaining traditional family values is what’s most important, presumably so a strong front can be maintained in the ongoing battle against the gay Socialist uprising.

Davis seems to suggest that parents are being forced to use the summer food programs by bullying bureaucrats who want to stick their nose into everything, when they just should be left alone to provide for their children on their own, even if they’re flat-ass broke.  Who cares if all they’re able to provide is peanut butter sandwiches for dinner? Let these people have their dignity, Big Government, it’ll make their family stronger! Davis has a few “now why didn’t I think of that?” solutions for alleviating the problem, such as suggesting that hungry families should just grow a garden, even though it’s likely a large population of Missouri has neither the facilities or the know-how to grow their own vegetables, or, barring that, buy their food from the local farmer’s market, even though in the very next sentence she mentions that there’s no farmer’s market in her hometown of O’Fallon, one of the biggest cities in the state.  Apparently if you live in, say, Glenwood (pop. 203), you’re just supposed to drive God only knows how far to the nearest farmer’s market to buy your produce, because that’s somehow cheaper than getting it at the local grocery with money you don’t have in the first place.  Just don’t send your kids to school to get reasonably nutritious meals for free! It will tear your family apart!

But wait, you haven’t heard Davis’s “look on the bright side” approach to the issue.

The problem of childhood obesity has been cited as one of the most rapidly growing health problems in America.  People who are struggling with lack of food usually do not have an obesity problem.

People who are struggling with lack of food usually do not have an obesity problem.

People who are struggling with lack of food usually do not have an obesity problem.

People who are struggling with lack of food usually do not have an obesity problem.

Yes, I had to read it a couple times to make sure I was comprehending it too, but it does appear that Cynthia Davis is saying, in not quite as many words “Sure, your kids may be going to bed hungry at night, but at least they don’t have to worry about getting fat!” This is sort of like telling someone who just lost a leg, “Hey, at least you don’t have to worry about buying shoes!” Nevertheless, incredibly, her staggering ignorance goes one step even further when she suggests that teenagers who are going without the proper amount of food should go out and get one of those jobs that are all over the place right now.

Anyone under 18 can be eligible?  Can’t they get a job during the summer by the time they are 16?  Hunger can be a positive motivator.   What is wrong with the idea of getting a job so you can get better meals?

Tip: If you work for McDonald’s, they will feed you for free during your break.

I…just don’t even know where to begin.  “Hunger can be a positive motivator”? Really? This is the message we want to send out to young people? Funny, that sounds like something a dictator would say to get a bunch of peasants to build him a house.  With millions of adults out of work, with even Wal-Mart turning away applicants, her solution is “get a job”? What kind of bubble has this woman been living in for the past two years? And wait a minute, what happened to “if the school feeds children, it will break apart families”? But your kid being forced to work for minimum wage just so he can fucking eat won’t? Finally, “McDonald’s will feed you for free”? Didn’t she just say in the paragraph immediately before that one that hungry people won’t contribute to the obesity problem? Now she’s suggesting that teenagers work at fast food restaurants and rely on the burgers and greasy fries they can get for free? At what point did Davis just give up on trying to say anything comprehensible, still wrong but comprehensible at least? Instead, she seems to be playing a game with herself, “How Ignorant and Hypocritical Can I Get?” It seems to be a game a lot of Republicans enjoy, perhaps they can put out a board version of it, with cards reading stuff like ‘Uh Oh, You Got Caught Sending a Racist E-Mail, Go Back 3 Spaces!” and “Congratulations, You Got Photographed With a Black Person, Advance 2 Spaces!”

You’ll note that on the Think Progress page there’s a picture of Cynthia Davis wearing a cross around her neck.  This is both amusing and maddening.  As much as I genuinely dislike tainting an entire group of people with the same brush, it seems that if someone, particularly a politician, makes “what’s best for the poor” statements that involve cutting funds and taking programs away from them, the more likely they are to identify him or herself as a Christian.  There’s a new breed of Christian, those who seemed to miss the day in Sunday school when they were taught the Seven Works of Corporal Mercy: 1. feed the hungry, 2. give drink to the thirsty, 3. clothe the naked, 4. shelter the homeless, 5. visit the sick, 6. visit the imprisoned, 7. bury the dead.  Those come right from the Bible, that same Bible that conservative Christians like to thump and invoke when they’re speaking out against gay marriage and a woman’s right to choose.  I’m an agnostic and I don’t claim to know more than the most familiar of Bible stories, but even I know that Jesus Christ was a big fan of charity.  That’s also from the Bible, from 1 Corinthians: “And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.”  If Christians are having a hard time figuring out why their numbers are dwindling, they’d do well to take a good, long look at people like Cynthia Davis, who practice a special sort of Christianity, one that allows you to judge and condemn without compensating with compassion.

The monster in the refrigerator

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on June 17, 2009 by Gena Radcliffe

The New York Times, in their all-too-frequent feature I’ve come to call ‘This Week in Wealthy White People,’ profiles MeMe Roth, an uncertified “health counselor,” and her crusade against unhealthy food served in elementary schools.  It’s a noble cause, no doubt, until it’s revealed that Roth’s “crusading” mostly consists of demanding that her kids never eat anything in school other than what’s served for lunch and inundating school personnel and other parents with belligerent, harassing e-mails.

Both parents left feeling they were being pushed out of P.S. 9, which they perceive as exhausted by Ms. Roth’s intense lobbying for, among other things, permission slips for any food not on the official lunch menu. It would not be the first time: The Roths previously lived in Millburn, N.J., where, after Ms. Roth waged war on the bagels and Pringles meal served to kids at lunch, received e-mail from one member of the P.T.A. that said, “Please, consider moving.” That was in 2006, and P.S. 9 has been hearing about its transgressions against healthy eating pretty much ever since.

“The community is very concerned,” the principal, Diane Brady, wrote in an e-mail message. At the meeting with Ms. Moffatt, Ms. Brady said that Ms. Roth “was hostile” and “threw candy onto the table and cursed.” It was not the first time, she added, that Ms. Roth had “displayed this hostile behavior.”

It’s war, you see? War! Because America doesn’t have enough shit to worry about besides kids eating a bagel every now and then.  This isn’t the first time MeMe Roth has been featured in the news.  As president and founder of National Action Against Obesity, an organization in which she appears to be the only member, Roth rather famously spoke out against Jordin Sparks being chosen as a winner of American Idol in 2007, claiming that the size 14 or so Sparks was too heavy for such an honor.  She really hates fat people.  Eating in general, too, but mostly fat people.  She’s claimed that parents of overweight children are abusive, Santa Claus needs to lose weight and that if the Girl Scouts really cared about young women, they’d stop selling cookies.  Most recently, she compared eating to rape, making some sort of bizarre, offensive correlation between the sexual pleasure victims of rape supposedly feel during their attack to the pleasure we feel eating food we know is bad for us.  Bitch is crazy, but she also has occasional periods of lucidity in which she’s been able to turn that crazy into a profitable, publicity garnering career, so good for her, I guess.

In the same “eating is just like rape, no, really, it totally is” article, Roth insists that she doesn’t have an eating disorder, yet later admits that she rarely eats more than one meal a day, and often puts that off as long as possible.  While that may not be full-blown anorexia, it’s definitely an indicator that she has some serious issues with food, and she’s happily pushing those issues onto other people, particularly her own and, if at all possible, other people’s children.  No real nutritionist would be encouraging people to eat just one meal a day, and yet someone who has no training in diet and nutrition is continually given a public platform to express how she thinks people should be feeding their children, when really what she needs is a therapist’s couch to work out her mommy issues.

If childfree people hate people like MeMe Roth, parents hate her more, because she is exactly the type of person that gives other parents a bad name.  She is the archetypal upper class yuppie parent who, out of concern “for the children,” constantly pokes their noses into everyone else’s business, because they don’t have anything else going on in their lives and don’t feel complete if they don’t get to be smug and judgmental.  There’s one of her in every school district, at every PTA meeting, on every parenting message board online, in every town.  They’re constantly “declaring war” on something or other, peanuts, soda, high fructose corn syrup, vaccinations, some book or movie that doesn’t portray the world as a perfect place where nothing bad ever happens, and their favorite tactic to get other parents to see it their way is to insist that if we really cared about our children, we’d fight the good fight with them.  These are people who insist that it’s perfectly reasonable to take the word of Jenny McCarthy when it comes to the now debunked link between vaccinations and autism over that of doctors and scientists, simply because she’s a mother, and mothers have some sort of psychic knowledge about everything.

I’m not disagreeing that there’s an obesity epidemic in this country, although to call it an “epidemic” suggests that it’s somehow contagious, like you can sneeze your fat onto someone else.  I’m also not disagreeing that schools don’t really need soda machines or candy sales.  However, I’m here to tell you that it’s a damn dirty lie that kids eating crappy, overly processed food, both in and out of school, is something new.  Teachers rewarding students with sugary treats, dooming them to a lifetime of wearing nothing but size XXXL jogging pants and tooling around on a motorized scooter isn’t new either.  I started first grade in 1978, and I clearly remember my teacher rewarding students for good behavior with tickets to buy ice cream sandwiches in the cafeteria.  There were also plenty of occasions over the years when we were given candy and other treats for Halloween, Valentine’s Day, someone’s birthday, whatever.  This is hardly a new and troubling phenomenon.  I grew up in the era when the words “organic” and “all natural” were associated only with hippies who didn’t work or send their kids to school.  Regular kids such as myself ate shit like Spaghetti-Os, with its toxic orange sauce.  We drank Tang, which had enough chemicals in it to embalm a squirrel.  We snacked on wax soda bottles, candy that was literally made out of wax and filled with a viscous, colored fluid.  We didn’t know what the fuck was in those things, just that it was sweet and delicious.  I’d hazard a guess that my own child eats considerably better than I did at her age.

So why are kids fatter now than they were a generation ago? Why are people in general fatter now? Undoubtedly it’s because convenience has allowed us to maintain a more sedentary lifestyle–let’s face it, Wall-E‘s cynical portrayal of humans devolving into helpless infants who can only get around in hoverchairs might not be too far off the mark.  As for kids, I’m more inclined to believe that it’s because they simply don’t get enough exercise.  Parents have been discouraged from letting their kids go too far from home, playgrounds are now considered potential deathtraps unless every surface is covered in padding, more and more children are mysteriously diagnosed with asthma each year, which further cuts back on physical activity.  Granted, sugary sodas and cupcakes at school aren’t helping, but I doubt that’s the sole reason.  I’m really uncomfortable with people like MeMe Roth, or any other supposedly well-meaning parent, attempting to control what other people’s children eat.  Force your own kids to be neurotic about what they put in their bodies all you want, but don’t assume that you’re the designated “Food Police” for your fellow parents.  In the end, it’s their responsibility to tell their kids not to drink soda or eat chocolate or whatever food you think is the Devil and should be forbidden.  We already don’t mind enough of our own business as it is.

Dreaming the impossible dream

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on June 12, 2009 by Gena Radcliffe

Double X, Slate’s new “feminist” blog, reinforces its curiously anti-woman tone with Sara Mosle’s blistering screed against Etsy, the wildly popular online marketplace where users can both buy and sell handmade crafts.

For buyers, it’s an easy way to purchase beautiful, one-of-a-kind pieces. And for Etsy investors, who get a cut of every transaction, it’s a user-generated (read: low investment, potentially high revenue) business that still projects a green, anti-corporate image. There’s just one fly in the decoupage: There are virtually no male sellers on Etsy. If the site is such a great way for anyone to market handmade goods online, then why is it such a female ghetto?

After all, the site was founded by three men in Brooklyn, a haven for macho DIY-dom, and was never conceived as female-only. The home page has a minimal, modern look. The colors are not cutesy pink. “They’re orange and blue,” says Adam Brown, the site’s spokesman. “You can’t get more neutral than that.”

As evidenced by her baffling use of the phrase “female ghetto,” Mosle’s first issue with Etsy seems to be that its users are predominantly female, even though the website isn’t pink and sparkly and there aren’t a bunch of cute boys to talk to and send winky emoticons.  How odd that women would be drawn to a website that doesn’t clearly spell out in puffy letters and Hello Kitty gifs that it’s female friendly!

However, a couple paragraphs down, Mosle’s real problem with Etsy becomes clear: it has the nerve to encourage its users to embrace the ridiculous notion that they might stand to make a real profit from their crafting talent.

I think for many women the site holds out the hope of successfully combining meaningful work with motherhood in a way that more high-powered careers in the law, business, or sciences seldom allow. In other words, what Etsy is really peddling isn’t only handicrafts, but also the feminist promise that you can have a family and create hip arts and crafts from home during flexible, reasonable hours while still having a respectable, fulfilling, and remunerative career. The problem is that on Etsy, as in much of life, the promise is a fantasy. There’s little evidence that most sellers on the site make much money. This, I suspect, explains the absence of men. They are immune to the allure of this fantasy. They have evaluated the site on purely economic terms and found it wanting.

Ah, yes, of course! Men, always ambitious and logical, would never waste time on such a frivolous activity as making stuff by hand if they didn’t stand to earn lots of money by doing it.  Naive, impressionable women, on the other hand, have bought into this cruel lie.  Etsy has deceived them into believing that their talent is worth anything more than imaginary money, ladydollars if you will, that dissolve into a puff of glitter and rose-scented air if they actually try to spend it.  They should stick to peddling their wares at church bazaars and school fundraisers, where they belong.

I have to give her credit, Sara Mosle achieves a real coup in managing to insult both women, men and Etsy (and Brooklyn, though it may be just insulting to me, being that I live in Brooklyn and have no idea what she means by describing it as a “haven for macho DIY-dom”).  Men don’t do such ridiculous things as placing hopes and dreams for financial success on an internet-based marketplace?  Who does she think is selling baseball cards and old comic books on eBay? Disguising it as a well-meaning desire to protect other women from the bullshit fantasy Etsy’s male founders have created, Mosle suggests that they’re better off just forgetting any pie in the sky notions of staying home and doing something that brings them joy and getting themselves a real job outside the home instead.  Jeez, Sara, who pissed on your daydreams? I’m not sure there are many women, even those unmarried and without children, who wouldn’t prefer to stay home and make a little money doing something they enjoy, whether that’s making crafts, baking, writing, or here’s a crazy idea, blogging, as opposed to dragging their asses every day to a job they hate.

I make cupcakes.  I’m pretty good at it, and I enjoy doing it.  If I was slightly less lazy (all right, significantly less lazy), it wouldn’t seem unreasonable to me to start a small business selling them.  Would I seriously believe that the next natural step after that would be my own show on the Food Network, with wacky employees to go with it? No, but it’d be making some money doing something I enjoy, which is something most of us don’t get to experience.  Our jobs are our jobs and our hobbies are our hobbies, and rarely do the two intersect.  According to Sara Mosle, this is a pipe dream anyway, and shame on places like Etsy for profiting from it.  Her conclusion that they deal in false hopes and empty promises comes from the fact that despite Etsy’s cheerful claims that you can quit your job and live comfortably on the money you’ll earn from selling handmade bottle cap earrings and macrame plant holders, most of the users admit their revenue to cost ratio is very low, if not negligible.  That doesn’t mean that none of Etsy’s artisans are making real money from their work, just that most of them aren’t.

So here lies the question: so fucking what? Is Etsy being dishonest in claiming you can earn a good living by selling your handicrafts through their website? Not really, even if only one in every one thousand sellers or so is making the equivalent of a standard office job salary, while the rest, if making anything at all, are putting it right back into supplies at the local Michael’s or Hobby Lobby, they’re not being deceitful.  You can make a living, but saying you can doesn’t mean that you will, and it’s rather insulting that Mosle believes other women don’t recognize the difference.  Pity the poor widdle jewelry makers and knitting ladies who got conned by the big mean men into thinking they’ll get fat paychecks for their work? Please.  Let’s give a little credit to our own gender, shall we, Sara? I’m fairly certain the majority of Etsy artisans are there because they enjoy what they do, they like getting recognition for their work, even if that recognition comes as a compliment as opposed to a purchase, and they network with other crafters.  Making money probably comes a distant second or third.  This article isn’t championing those who have bought into a lie, it’s a condescending, cynical hatchet job on a website that brings a lot of people joy.  Thanks, but no thanks, Sara, I don’t think they need your “help.”

Interesting note: while doing a bit of my own research, I noticed that today’s featured seller on Etsy’s front page was named Julien Jaborska, who, given the beard and mustache, appears to be a male.  In his interview, when asked what made him want to become an artist, he mentions enjoying the feeling of making things and the sense of accomplishment when he’s completed a project.  He further claims that he believes he could make a living off of his hobby, but hasn’t quit his job yet.  So much for the theory of men not being interested in doing things that won’t make them money, huh?

Breastfeeding: not appropriate for those under 18

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on May 22, 2009 by Gena Radcliffe

Kate Harding at Salon writes about a minor controversy in the UK over a breastfeeding awareness poster that depicts a little girl simulating the act with a doll.

“Distasteful, inappropriate and crude.” That’s how some people are describing a poster hanging in a hospital near Manchester, England. The grandmother of a patient there calls it “shocking” and “disgusting.” A health care assistant at the hospital calls it “highly offensive.”

What’s the oh-so-scandalous image? A picture of a little girl pretending to breastfeed her dolly.

The poster, placed in a children’s ward to promote Breastfeeding Awareness Week, reads, “It’s normal. Children copy their mothers. Teenagers do it! Celebrities do it!” Now, I doubt the folks behind the poster will be winning any awards for clever copywriting — or design, for that matter — but given that the image in question shows a fully clothed child doing nothing remotely sexual, the outrage is absurd. And tiresome. (And disturbing, in the case of the health care assistant who’s offended.) How hard is it to understand that breastfeeding is about nourishing a child, not exhibitionism? We’re still hung up on this? Really?

Some golden delicious stupidity can be found in the comments of the article Harding links to, in which highly offended mouth-breathers insist the poster is exactly the same as a picture of a child unrolling a condom or simulating sexual intercourse, claim it could give pedophiles ideas on how to convince potential victims to cooperate with them and lament society’s insistence on poisoning young minds with such “adult matters.”

Tell me, at what point as adults do we forget that breasts serve another purpose besides filling out a shirt? It seems ludicrous that this still needs to be clarified, but there is nothing, N-O-T-H-I-N-G sexual about breastfeeding, even if it involves a nipple going into another person’s mouth.  It’s also not like using the toilet, which is the argument those who are against the idea of breastfeeding in public like to use.  A lot of these people also like to describe giving birth as “shitting out a kid.”  Biology, go learn you some.  As Harding points out, there is nothing more insidious or disturbing about a child pretending to nurse a doll than if she were using a toy bottle.  If you see something sexual or obscene about it, you may want to sit down and have a long soul-searching session with yourself, determining if perhaps some professional help is in order.

There’s some premium grade hypocrisy in telling women that our children will grow up to be sickly and retarded if we don’t breastfeed, yet breastfeeding is something that should be done in private, lest it offend the delicate sensibilities of others.  It seems that breasts are to be considered sources of nourishment only to the bearers of them, as for everyone else they’re big, porny, obscene reminders of sexual intercourse that will render the very fabric of society to shreds if we have to look at them for too long.  Unless they’re in a Victoria’s Secret catalog, then it’s okay.  Don’t worry if that doesn’t make sense reading it, it didn’t make any sense writing it either.

At some point, clearly during this strange new era in which parents now believe their children have to be wrapped in cotton batting and never allowed to watch, read or listen to anything that may let them know there’s a world that exists outside their home, breastfeeding became one of those topics that kids are somehow too innocent to handle.  It’s the reason both LiveJournal and later Facebook gave for banning users from posting breastfeeding related icons and photographs, that the images were “inappropriate” for children.  You know what’s inappropriate for children? Having parents who are so uptight they can’t even bring themselves to explain what breastfeeding is.  That’s all it would take, you know, your kid sees a picture of a woman nursing her infant, he or she asks “What’s that lady doing with her baby?” and you answer “She’s feeding him.  It’s something mammals have done for millions of years.”  You won’t be poisoning your child’s mind, or forcing him or her to grow up too soon.  I promise you, your kid won’t turn into a crackhead giving BJs in a bus station restroom because you taught him what breastfeeding is.  He or she probably won’t even find it that interesting, likely just nodding and then returning to his Legos, or VeggieTales, or picking his nose, or whatever it is small children do to amuse themselves.  Kids don’t care, they just accept the world and its mysteries and fascinations as is.  They don’t become self-righetous and judgmental until much later.  It’s adults who have psychotic meltdowns over that kind of thing.

More feminist than thou

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on May 13, 2009 by Gena Radcliffe

Slate opens a new blog written by women, for women: win!

A disappointing number of the articles consist of the same old girl-on-girl bashing regarding feminism, motherhood and celebrities: fail!

The concept of feminism as a movement seems to be taking a particularly rough thrashing, with articles such as ‘Whine, Womyn and Thongs: How Feminism Has Failed’ and ‘How I Got Bored With Feminism.’  The real prizewinner in the Fail Bowl, however, is Linda Hirshman’s hatchet job on Jezebel, dissected by her target here.  Hirshman posits that the gals who write for Jezebel should probably turn in their feminist membership cards, because despite rape being a pressing issue for women, they talk about getting drunk a lot and occasionally engaging in casual sex.  After all, any real feminist worth her salt would know to avoid any behavior or situation that could lead to getting raped, because men shouldn’t be expected to control themselves.  Granted, this “I’m not saying anyone deserves to get raped, but…” attitude is hardly new, if not particularly distasteful coming from a woman, but Hirshman ratchets the female misogyny up a few more notches by suggesting that because one of the writers was sexually assaulted as a teenager but didn’t report it to police, any opinion she might have on rape and its effect on women and society is unreliable at best.

You know, this pandering “I’m a woman-hating feminist who tells it like it is” twaddle wasn’t any more charming when Camille Paglia was spouting it back in the eighties.  Hirshman previously exhibited her privilege and astonishing lack of empathy when she wrote an article claiming that the best way to help someone stuck in an abusive relationship is to relentlessly badger them into leaving.  It would appear that she’s blessed to have gotten this far in her life without ever having been raped or a victim of domestic violence.  I have too, thank the gods, but I also know that there’s nothing easy about reporting a rape to the police, even less if it makes it to a courtroom.  As I pointed out in Monday’s article, it’s a grueling, traumatizing experience for the victim, due to the fact that there are still far too many people in society who believe that rape is a “misunderstanding” or that if you hadn’t left the house in that short skirt, it would never have happened.  Would you want to put yourself through that? I don’t know that I would.  If I failed to report, would it be to the detriment of my fellow women? Perhaps.  But my decision to report or not report, as would be anybody’s, is mine and mine alone.  Identifying yourself as a feminist doesn’t automatically require you to be held accountable to other women.

As for her questioning why women in abusive relationships just don’t walk away, again, Hirshman shows the insufferable, insulated self-righteousness that taints modern feminism as a whole.  Sure, it’s a question of just leaving, it’s that easy.  Because abusers don’t inflict the same amount of damage on their victims’ minds as their bodies.  They don’t isolate them from their friends and families and convince them that their lives, and perhaps the lives of their children are at risk if they try to escape.  They just pop them in the face once in a while, what kind of woman would put up with that? A weak, pitiful woman that namby-pamby other feminists coddle, according to Linda Hirshman.  She’s not putting up with that nonsense.

I will agree that too much of today’s feminism is bogged down in splitting hairs over semantics and blowing entirely too much steam over relatively meaningless things, such as arguing over whether or not Seth Rogan playing a character who commits date rape might mean he condones it in real life.  I buy that much of it is a distraction to try to deal with the frustration over that old chestnut about things staying the same the more they change.  Women still aren’t given the respect they’re due in the workplace.  The nature of rape is still misunderstood, and rape victims are still treated as though they have something to be ashamed of.  We’re still plagued with body image issues perpetrated by both the media and, saddest of all, each other.  Little girls are still encouraged to be pretty, pretty princesses draped in pink.  Feminism isn’t dead, not by a long shot, but we haven’t come close to winning yet.  It’s not even a matter of “winning,” really, so much as achieving certain goals.  If we’re losing, it’s because we’ve taken up with in-fighting and pseudo dick-waving “I’m a better feminist than you” competitions, judging each other for everything from shaving our legs to having children to engaging in alternative sexual practices to taking a husband’s name upon marriage to the “right” way of handling a sexual assault.  Who fucking cares who’s a better or “real” feminist? What does it matter? Betty Friedan isn’t going to rise from the grave and present you with a golden WORLD’S GREATEST FEMINIST trophy.  Female misogyny isn’t edgy or revolutionary.  It’s just sad.

And now to cheer things up a bit, here’s a picture of Memebon, a tiny kitten in a rice bowl.  I had to, it was depressing me to write this.  I may just consider changing the name of this blog to Tiny Kittens in Rice Bowls.