Friday, September 19, 2008

At Least It Wasn't Regurgitation

Abby has been learning how letters form words. This morning I asked her if she'd like to learn to write a word. She replied, "Sure! YES!!", so I asked what word she'd like to learn.

"Hairless cat!"

Oh. Okay.

So now my four year old, who does not know how to spell ball or run or Spot, can spell HAIRLESS CAT.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Things That Simultaneously Fascinate and Gross Me Out

1. The sexy M&M. The tagline should be "Eat me!" I am horrified. She's saying, "Hey, fuck me! And then devour me! Yum!"

2. Microwaved potatoes. Baked potatoes should be, you know, baked. However, I grudgingly LOVE them when they're so over-nuked that they're crunchy.

3. Monistat makes an anti-chafing gel. I read that you can use it on your face as a pore minimizer thing, which in the moment, seemed totally rational. How innovative! So I bought some. And then I was too grossed out to actually apply the crap to my face. But I have these really cute orange Maryjanes that totally KILL my feet - blister, rubbed spots, you've got the picture. So I tried the gel on my feet. IT KICKS ASS, INTERNET. Get yourself some!

4. I took the kids to the library on Monday. Emma was in the bathroom (lately, she's had to pee at every public bathroom. WTF? I think she just likes to check out the amenities). So, I was loitering outside the bathroom when I noticed a display of Lois Duncan books - these young adult horror mysteries that I was totally crazy about when I was around 10. I checked them all out, and have read three so far. They all follow the same plot - plucky yet responsible teen girl realizes something is seriously, supernaturally wrong. No one believes her, but she still saves the day. I think I'm going to feel a lot like the heroine in the next six weeks. It terrifies - yet amazes - me that so many people are aware of just how incredibly fucked up McCain and Palin are, and yet are still going to vote for them, because you know, it just doesn't seem all that fucked up to them. Our news reported that "only" 33% of the nation believe that Palin is qualified to run the country. Imagine it - one out of every three people think she'd be okay. Huh. I looked at a picture of Australia today, and thought ALOT about french fries. I'm qualified to run the country!

5. We have these little heaters in our walls that basically run like blowdryers. I love the way they smell.

6. Why do I have such fondness for hair band power ballads? Why?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Can't Say It Better, Part 2 OR I Love You, Tim Wise!

This is Your Nation on White Privilege
By Tim Wise / September 13, 2008

For those who still can’t grasp the concept of white privilege, or who are constantly looking for some easy-to-understand examples of it, perhaps this list will help.

White privilege is when you can get pregnant at seventeen like Bristol Palin and everyone is quick to insist that your life and that of your family is a personal matter, and that no one has a right to judge you or your parents, because “every family has challenges,” even as black and Latino families with similar “challenges” are regularly typified as irresponsible, pathological and arbiters of social decay.

White privilege is when you can call yourself a “fuckin’ redneck,” like Bristol Palin’s boyfriend does, and talk about how if anyone messes with you, you'll “kick their fuckin' ass,” and talk about how you like to “shoot shit” for fun, and still be viewed as a responsible, all-American boy (and a great son-in-law to be) rather than a thug.

White privilege is when you can attend four different colleges in six years like Sarah Palin did (one of which you basically failed out of, then returned to after making up some coursework at a community college), and no one questions your intelligence or commitment to achievement, whereas a person of color who did this would be viewed as unfit for college, and probably someone who only got in in the first place because of affirmative action.

White privilege is when you can claim that being mayor of a town smaller than most medium-sized colleges, and then Governor of a state with about the same number of people as the lower fifth of the island of Manhattan, makes you ready to potentially be president, and people don’t all piss on themselves with laughter, while being a black U.S. Senator, two-term state Senator, and constitutional law scholar, means you’re “untested.”

White privilege is being able to say that you support the words “under God” in the pledge of allegiance because “if it was good enough for the founding fathers, it’s good enough for me,” and not be immediately disqualified from holding office--since, after all, the pledge was written in the late 1800s and the “under God” part wasn’t added until the 1950s--while believing that reading accused criminals and terrorists their rights (because, ya know, the Constitution, which you used to teach at a prestigious law school requires it), is a dangerous and silly idea only supported by mushy liberals.

White privilege is being able to be a gun enthusiast and not make people immediately scared of you.

White privilege is being able to have a husband who was a member of an extremist political party that wants your state to secede from the Union, and whose motto was “Alaska first,” and no one questions your patriotism or that of your family, while if you're black and your spouse merely fails to come to a 9/11 memorial so she can be home with her kids on the first day of school, people immediately think she’s being disrespectful.

White privilege is being able to make fun of community organizers and the work they do--like, among other things, fight for the right of women to vote, or for civil rights, or the 8-hour workday, or an end to child labor--and people think you’re being pithy and tough, but if you merely question the experience of a small town mayor and 18-month governor with no foreign policy expertise beyond a class she took in college--you’re somehow being mean, or even sexist.

White privilege is being able to convince white women who don’t even agree with you on any substantive issue to vote for you and your running mate anyway, because all of a sudden your presence on the ticket has inspired confidence in these same white women, and made them give your party a “second look.”

White privilege is being able to fire people who didn’t support your political campaigns and not be accused of abusing your power or being a typical politician who engages in favoritism, while being black and merely knowing some folks from the old-line political machines in Chicago means you must be corrupt.

White privilege is being able to attend churches over the years whose pastors say that people who voted for John Kerry or merely criticize George W. Bush are going to hell, and that the U.S. is an explicitly Christian nation and the job of Christians is to bring Christian theological principles into government, and who bring in speakers who say the conflict in the Middle East is God’s punishment on Jews for rejecting Jesus, and everyone can still think you’re just a good church-going Christian, but if you’re black and friends with a black pastor who has noted (as have Colin Powell and the U.S. Department of Defense) that terrorist attacks are often the result of U.S. foreign policy and who talks about the history of racism and its effect on black people, you’re an extremist who probably hates America.

White privilege is not knowing what the Bush Doctrine is when asked by a reporter, and then people get angry at the reporter for asking you such a “trick question,” while being black and merely refusing to give one-word answers to the queries of Bill O’Reilly means you’re dodging the question, or trying to seem overly intellectual and nuanced.

White privilege is being able to claim your experience as a POW has anything at all to do with your fitness for president, while being black and experiencing racism is, as Sarah Palin has referred to it a “light” burden.

And finally, white privilege is the only thing that could possibly allow someone to become president when he has voted with George W. Bush 90 percent of the time, even as unemployment is skyrocketing, people are losing their homes, inflation is rising, and the U.S. is increasingly isolated from world opinion, just because white voters aren’t sure about that whole “change” thing. Ya know, it’s just too vague and ill-defined, unlike, say, four more years of the same, which is very concrete and certain…

White privilege is, in short, the problem.

Tim Wise is the author of White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son, and Affirmative Action: Racial Preference in Black and White. He has contributed essays to seventeen books, and is one of several persons featured in White Men Challenging Racism: Thirty-Five Personal Stories, from Duke University Press. A collection of his essays, Speaking Treason Fluently: Anti-Racist Reflections From an Angry White Male, will be released in fall 2008.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

No F-ing Way, Kid

Emma and Abby have been battling it out all afternoon. After breaking up the third brawl, I told them they have to be kind to each other since they're each other's only sister. Emma replied, "You're still young. You can have another baby!"

I Can't Say It Any Better

From Kathleen Reardon, published in the Huffington Post:

With all this talk about Sarah Palin redefining feminism and people who don't support her candidacy being sexist, I think we could use a little clarification.

Women's progress at work and in government is critically important. We are not, after all, living in the Dark Ages. But, and this is a VERY IMPORTANT BUT, consider the following scenario.

You're about to board a plane and a flight attendant says, "Today as part of our responsiveness to customers program you may choose Mr. Jones here as co-pilot. He will fly the airplane should something go wrong with the pilot, who isn't at his best today. Mr. Jones has been a pilot for twenty years and has an impeccable record. He is, however, a man. Because you support the advancement of women in the workplace, we also have a woman here who is willing to fly your plane. She is not a pilot but she didn't blink when asked to do this and for the past week a team of experts has been talking to her a lot about how to fly."

Who would you choose? If you chose Pilot Jones, would that be sexist? Or would you simply not be a complete idiot?

From Gloria Steinem's Op-Ed piece in the LA Times:

This isn't the first time a boss has picked an unqualified woman just because she agrees with him and opposes everything most other women want and need. Feminism has never been about getting a job for one woman. It's about making life more fair for women everywhere. It's not about a piece of the existing pie; there are too many of us for that. It's about baking a new pie.

Selecting Sarah Palin, who was touted all summer by Rush Limbaugh, is no way to attract most women, including die-hard Clinton supporters. Palin shares nothing but a chromosome with Clinton. Her down-home, divisive and deceptive speech did nothing to cosmeticize a Republican convention that has more than twice as many male delegates as female, a presidential candidate who is owned and operated by the right wing and a platform that opposes pretty much everything Clinton's candidacy stood for -- and that Barack Obama's still does. To vote in protest for McCain/Palin would be like saying, "Somebody stole my shoes, so I'll amputate my legs."

This is not to beat up on Palin. I defend her right to be wrong, even on issues that matter most to me. I regret that people say she can't do the job because she has children in need of care, especially if they wouldn't say the same about a father. I get no pleasure from imagining her in the spotlight on national and foreign policy issues about which she has zero background, with one month to learn to compete with Sen. Joe Biden's 37 years' experience. . . .

So let's be clear: The culprit is John McCain. He may have chosen Palin out of change-envy, or a belief that women can't tell the difference between form and content, but the main motive was to please right-wing ideologues; the same ones who nixed anyone who is now or ever has been a supporter of reproductive freedom. If that were not the case, McCain could have chosen a woman who knows what a vice president does and who has thought about Iraq; someone like Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison or Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine. McCain could have taken a baby step away from right-wing patriarchs who determine his actions, right down to opposing the Violence Against Women Act.

Palin's value to those patriarchs is clear: She opposes just about every issue that women support by a majority or plurality. She believes that creationism should be taught in public schools but disbelieves global warming; she opposes gun control but supports government control of women's wombs; she opposes stem cell research but approves "abstinence-only" programs, which increase unwanted births, sexually transmitted diseases and abortions; she tried to use taxpayers' millions for a state program to shoot wolves from the air but didn't spend enough money to fix a state school system with the lowest high-school graduation rate in the nation; she runs with a candidate who opposes the Fair Pay Act but supports $500 million in subsidies for a natural gas pipeline across Alaska; she supports drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve, though even McCain has opted for the lesser evil of offshore drilling. She is Phyllis Schlafly, only younger.

* * * * *

Did you watch the Charlie Gibson interview with Palin? I know everyone's all agog that she couldn't define the Bush Doctrine, that she called this war "God's plan" in her church, that she can't define her international experience beyond being able to see Russia from an Alaskan island.

Here's the quote that gets me, though:

GIBSON: But, Governor, we've threatened greater sanctions against Iran for a long time. It hasn't done any good. It hasn't stemmed their nuclear program.

PALIN: We need to pursue those and we need to implement those. We cannot back off. We cannot just concede that, oh, gee, maybe they're going to have nuclear weapons, what can we do about it. No way, not Americans. We do not have to stand for that.

It's exactly that patriarchal, Father Knows Best approach to international relations that frightens me. What are they going to do, ground Iran? Maybe not let it go to the prom, although it's already reserved this really rad party limo? "We do not have to stand for that"?

Don't misunderstand me - it scares the crap out of me that nuclear weapons are an option for so many countries and factions. I worry about my kids' safety, and am shocked about how quickly my perception of our safety has changed. During the Clinton era, I felt like we were generally OK. Now, I feel like the USA is the sandbox bully that the rest of the kids are planning against.

The nuclear argument smacks of hypocrisy, since we have a shit ton of nuclear arms. We were the first, we have the second highest quantity, and we remain the only country to have actually used them.

I firmly believe that most Heads of State are reasonable people who feel tremendous patriotism towards their country. Yes, there are despots. Yes, there are people who abuse their power (I'm looking at you, W). They are sometimes misguided and almost always fallible. The USA is not their parent or even their babysitter - we are their neighbor. We need to take some lessons in what it means to be a good neighbor.

I define myself as a radical feminist. I believe that Obama will defend the issues that affect women staunchly and without apology. In Glamour*, he states that insurance coverage for birth control is a "no-brainer." He supports education, gun control, health care, equal pay for equal work. I believe that he is thoughtful and introspective. He WILL blink before making big decisions. (Can I tell you how disturbed I am that Sarah Palin defines her readiness to be Vice President by her ability to make big decisions without pausing to blink? Have you ever been in disaster preparedness training? One of the biggest things you'll learn is to CALM THE FUCK DOWN and make deliberate decisions. Argh! Not blinking is NOT a good thing!)

I believe that defending all the social justice issues, including reproductive choice, accessible health care, equal pay and gun control are super important. However, I believe that the most important task the new President will have is to redefine our international image and start to repair our relationships with other countries. We've acted like loud, obnoxious idiots for the past seven years. (Aside: remember those innocent pre-9/11 days when our biggest complaint against Bush was that he was on vacation more than he was at work?)

*Yes. That Glamour. Let's face it: more people are going to read Glamour and People articles than the Huffington Post. It's important to read what the candidates are saying to people who don't consider themselves politicos. And to find out Fall trends in eyeliner. I am nothing if not shallow. Although let me go on record: I am OPPOSED to the new "brights". Teal eyeliner is not okay unless you're in a cabaret. Repeat this to yourself often.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Could You be More Generic?

Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Crazy Talk

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

So Pissed

I am so pissed at the spin being pushed about Palin's infant right now. I can't tell you how many times I've heard pundits give her credit for not aborting him because he has Down's. As though Down's is such a horrific defect that she's somehow a saint. I am so offended - for people with Down's, for simplifying abortion, for making a live baby seem like a burden to these people. I am offended for Sarah Palin - if anyone ever spoke about one of my children the way her "supporters" talk about her baby, I would be furious.

I am staunchly pro-choice, and feel like it's none of my business why any woman would have an abortion. I am staunchly pro-family, and believe that no woman should have to have a baby before she is ready (whatever that means). Emotionally, carrying babies and giving birth was one of the hardest things I've ever done. I do not wish it on anyone who does not want it.

I am also an infertile mother whose children are the biggest gifts I've ever received. I am appalled that a wanted child can be seen as anything other than a gift.