the blame game, part 2 – white powder

So who’s the jackass who sent an envelope filled with unidentified white powder to the Mormon temple in Westwood yesterday? Whoever you are, you’re making us all look like hate-filled assholes.

Come on, people. I know many of us are angry about Prop 8 passing and the extent of interest the religious right – particularly the Mormon church – took in the matter, but is this really the best way to deal with it? Doesn’t this just hurt the cause and potentially ostracize people of faith who might be on the fence? I mean, if the lies were really as bad and blatant as we say they were (and they were), shouldn’t we be directing energy toward countering those lies with a more persuasive message of the truth? Like, I dunno, focusing on the fact that out governor and congresswoman are opposed to this amendment, not to mention our state school superintendent? And shouldn’t we get a few gay couples as spokespersons, instead of just Samuel L. Jackson, badass as he may be? Might that not assuage the fears of the people who have been told the entire queer community is some Barbara Streisand loving, mesh shirt wearing, strap-on fucking orgy from the planet Transsexual (in the system of Transylvania) sent to wreak havoc on our ever-so-fragile belief systems?

While the time for outrage may not yet be over, the time for thoughtful, productive reactions started over a week ago. Instead of resorting to tactics categorized by the government under “terrorism”, let’s make arguments like the one below:

This is about love, people. LOVE! Get excited about that!

Published in: on November 14, 2008 at 7:01 pm  Leave a Comment  
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the blame game, starring prop 8

The world can breathe a collective sigh of relief now that America has pinned her hopes of restoring her once illustrious world (and domestic) reputation on the man currently referred to as President-Elect Barack Obama. Unquestionably the most historic election in modern American – if not world – politics, November 4th, 2008 will be noted as a day when Americans chose hope over fear, excitement over anxiety, and awarded the nuclear (nee nucular) codes to a man who not 20 years ago would have fallen victim to the bigotry that still had yet to be sufficiently stymied by the previous 20 years of civil rights fights. Yes, America, no matter how President-Elect Obama ends up performing (since our previous POTUS has graciously set the bar below knee level), a change has most definitely come.

But there is no joy in California, for the No on Prop 8 campaign has struck out. Like 47.6% of Californians, I am not only unhappy with this popular verdict, I am flat out outraged. How could this happen, here of all places? This is California, damn it! When the rest of the country sucks, we’re the ones who are still fighting to keep abortion rights on the books! Who pave the way for alternative energy and lower emissions standards! And since we’re not Oregon or New Hampshire, we don’t look like crazy hippies doing it! So how could we, as a state, so royally blow it by CONSTITUTIONALLY curtailing civil rights on the same day that we overwhelmingly support the election of the first African-American president?

Like I said, I feel one with the collective frustration, and like most people, I am looking to point some shameful fingers. So in my blind rage, I say shame on the Mormon church for preaching to its parishioners the heavenly virtues of donating to the Yes on 8 campaign, even if you don’t live in the state! Shame on Focus on the Family for trying to dictate morality in government policy under the guise of “common sense” and “tradition”! And shame shame shame! on the Yes on 8 campaign for propagating lies about the pseudo-side effects of gay marriage on our churches and (gasp!) children! Oh, the children, who would woefully be unwillingly corrupted at such a tender and innocent innocent innocent age! I mean, never mind the fact that gay marriage legislation specifically protects a church’s right to refuse religious service to anyone it feels violates their sacred teachings (I actually say this last part with no sarcasm whatsoever). Nor mind the fact that nowhere in California’s education policy is marriage a mandated part of mainstream education. The only time marriage is “taught” is during sex education, out of which a student may be pulled at the parents’ discretion should they deem the curriculum counter to their home teachings (which makes sense. After all, this isn’t Massachussetts). I mean, these were BLATANT LIES intended to play on the fears and emotions not only of the very devout, but mostly on the casually religious and the undecided voters, who are surely rational people – keep in mind, 52% of Californians also struck down a parental notification law for underage abortions that would have surely left young victims of rape and incest vulnerable.

How could these lies, these mistruths, these obfuscations take root in the heart of good, decent Californians? Was it the Mormons? Focus on the Family? The religious minorities who came out to support Obama? The elderly and hillbilly who cling to their guns and religion? It’s gotta be somebody, so who is it?

I went through all these options, granted, with a built-in hesitation since some of my very good friends happen to be Mormon, though I cannot speak to how they voted. But, ultimately, my disdaining glare fell mostly on the No on 8 campaign itself. From the get-go, these cats, virtuous in their intentions, took their lead in the polls far too much for granted. We were all riding the high of the Superior Court’s May ’08 verdict, but once Prop 8 was put on the ballot, these organizers should have immediately been reaching out to the fence straddlers, showing how non-existant a threat gay couples actually posed to their own heterosexual “lifestyle”. And as soon as the negative propaganda ads hit the airwaves, there should have been counter ads broadcast within 24 hours, not the next 4 days. And while No on 8 ultimately raised more money than the Yes kids, that was only after a finish line surge of donations. For more details, check this article here, courtesy of that delightful bastion of the left, The Nation, outlining all the ways the No on 8’ers failed, not least of which being a lack of plan B should, God forbid (yes, that’s right. God), Prop 8 actually passed. To this day, the No on Prop 8 organization has yet to post anything as to what the next step is, whether that be to organize protests or fight this out in the courts; the only response has been the tempered if appropriate statement calling on their supporters to, ahem, stop blaming everybody else.

Of course, I also blame myself. There were phone banks to man, communities to visit, and the most I scheduled myself to do was to make a handful of calls for Obama/No on 4 and 8 to registered Democrats on the day of the election. Yes, every little bit helps, and I’m proud of the time I was able to donate; but if I’m really looking for reasons why No on 8 failed, I need to look to myself first, and ask if I did everything I could have done. The answer, much like the way I feel about the No on 8 campaign as a whole, is sadly no. And this is a very hard pill to swallow.

I’ve already posted my strong feelings on the matter of gay marriage and the secular/religious arguments against it (the entry is below). But it took Prop 8 passing for me to really understand why I was so fired up about it. Yes, it is a civil rights issue, the predominant one in my lifetime. Yes, it is a church and state issue, a line I feel has been blurred over the past 8 years. And yes, both these issues in and of themselves are worthy of my passion and ire. But I also felt, with the passing of Prop 8, that it wasn’t just homosexuals who had their rights curtailed. I had my rights curtailed. While I am not gay, I still want the freedom to marry whomever I so choose. Should I happen to fall in love with a man and decide to enter into a legally binding, state recognized relationship with him, why shouldn’t I? And be honest with yourself: do you really ascribe civil unions the same social currency as marriage? Granted, both institutions share virtually the same legal rights (minus, most dramatically, divorce law, of all things). But that’s virtually the same thing as saying the black school has the same curriculum as the white school, so what’s the big deal?

The one great thing that has come out of this is people are getting publicly angry, taking to the streets and marching for what they believe is right. I’m a big fan of justified civil disobedience and social inconvenience, so to hear about these marches happening across the state, with ground zero being right here in Los Angeles (odd that it’s not San Francisco) is very exciting. There’s a great article about the protests here, basically documenting how it is a leaderless, disorganized youth movement, and how that is actually turning out to be a good thing, especially since the No on 8 people still seem to be reeling from defeat. Someone’s gotta pick up the baton and show that we will continue to fight the good fight for rights all of us deserve… even if that person is a globulous rage searching for something or someone to hold accountable. But let’s hope that at some point soon we take a good look to each other and ourselves, no matter how painful or shameful that is. Because, remember, it’s always easier to blame the “other” for our own shortcomings.

Published in: on November 10, 2008 at 7:28 pm  Comments (5)  
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pride and joy

Just a quick note: I find it stunning that Sen. McCain cannot mention his running mate, Gov. Sarah Palin, without asserting (reaffirming?) how proud he is of her. The way he says it, yeesh, it almost sounds like he’s commending an eight-year-old who sold the most girl scout cookies this year. As if the kind of campaigning she’s been doing isn’t part of the job, like it’s going above and beyond what has been expected of her. Or that she’s even doing a good job in the first place. It’s a subtle (dare I say insidious? No, I daren’t!) way of continually lowering expectations for her, and by extension their entire campaign. Since he hasn’t been able to raise the bar through his debate appearances, and she hasn’t been able to the raise the bar through anything – unless you count frothing up an angry mob as “raising the bar” – then portraying themselves as underdogs is really the only option they have left. One hopes the American people aren’t suckered too easily into the trappings of rhetoric and political narrative… but then again, the American people really like girl scout cookies.

Published in: on October 17, 2008 at 2:38 am  Leave a Comment  
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church and the state of gay marriage

The beautiful, beautiful thing about this great country of ours is that everyone is allowed to believe whatever they want to believe without worry of persecution or legal prejudice. I am allowed to believe that lightning bolts are still created by the Greek god Zeus, just as someone else is allowed to believe that God hates fags. I don’t condone that belief, as I consider it to be ignorant and intolerant (not one of my favorite words, though useful nonetheless), but I would never sit here and say, because you believe God hates fags, then your rights should be limited. I just hope you open your heart – and maybe a book other than the Bible or Koran – to find a greater level of compassion and understanding.

I say this because I hope people will not be taking their own personal, religious-based morality into the California voting booths when we here in the Golden State vote on Proposition 8, which moves for an amendment to the state constitution to make illegal gay marriage. See, to me, the gay marriage issue is not only about civil liberties – though, should this proposition pass, it would be the first time we as a people elect to limit civil rights in the past 40-odd years – but it is also a church and state issue. In fact, I believe it is fundamentally a church and state issue, considering that any argument against gay marriage can be adequately dismantled until all that is left is, “well, being gay just isn’t right.” Which we all (hopefully) know is a) silly, and b) founded in religious attitudes toward procreation and romantic relationships. Again, I’m not, nor would I ever, tell anyone out there that they can’t believe that “being gay just ain’t right.” It is your constitutional right to believe whatever you want, as long as it doesn’t interfere with the rights of others. But when you start trying to legislate religious-based morality, then you start limiting the rights of all those who don’t share those same views.

I say religious-based morality because there are some laws based in morals that are not only universal but also supersede the notion of religion in order to support and benefit the foundations of civilization. For example, yes, thou shalt not kill is part of the Judeo-Cristian Ten Commandments. But to not have such a law in a secular society denigrates that same society and threatens the safety of its citizens. Same goes for theft, rape, hell, even speeding. These are all rules we agree to uphold and live by not necessarily for the health of our souls but for the safety of our civilization.

But there’s a reason why adultery isn’t considered illegal. Sure, it can be sighted as a breach of the marriage contract, but you can’t go to jail for screwing someone who isn’t your legal spouse. That’s because the  damage is not only contained within the relationship, but also because the distasteful notion of adultery is fundamentally ethical, not civic. Some societies have (seemingly) no ostensible problem with the idea of cheating; some couples even consider it natural or healthy to their relationship. So if anyone were to suddenly say that adultery should be illegal, it would not be tolerated on the grounds that consenting adults should be allowed to deal with their own relationship problems without the involvement of the government.

While admittedly this is a little bit of an apples/oranges argument, I believe the fundamental notion of morality versus civility is applicable to the gay marriage argument. So all that said, let’s look at the “secular” arguments against gay marriage:

1) “It’s a slippery slope.” This is perhaps the biggest argument against gay marriage: that if you change the definition of marriage to include homosexuals, then what’s to stop you from including bestiality, or polygamy, or underage marriage? Well, a few things – a) Marriage requires consent, and the last time I checked, a horse can’t exactly say “I do”. b) Polygamy is fundamentally an unequal relationship, in that it involves several women at the service of one man. Sure, like any form of relationship, there are ways to interact with polygamy in a healthy way. However, this is in spite of the fundamentals of polygamy, both historically and practically, and the state should never support an institution that by its very nature is unequal and imbalanced. More so, the amount and kind of legislation required to make polygamy an equitable partnership would be massive and controversial: does each person’s share of communal property diminish with each new spouse (wife)? Should the first wife have a higher percentage than the 4th? What if the husband wants to divorce wife #2 against the wishes of wife #3 and #5? Does this decision have to be made by committee? And are wives #s 3 and 5 obligated to pay an equal amount of alimony despite not wanting to end the marital partnership? And these are just a handful of questions that would need to be addressed when outlining the necessary laws and legislation to make this work. And, finally, c) children are not fully capable of making sound, life-long decisions, and so should not be allowed legally to fall victim to adults who prey upon this lack of development.

(Gay marriage, in contrast to all these forms of marriage, does operate with the fundamental notion of equality, same as a heterosexual marriage. Granted, one doesn’t always find equality in any marriage, but that is not the fault of the institution itself, but rather the morals and ethics brought in by the participating spouses and the society at large. All these other forms of marriage would change the very foundations of the institution of marriage, while gay marriage is merely changing the definition – two very different arguments.)

2)  “Marriage is entered with the purpose of starting a family.” While this may largely be true, what is then said about heterosexual couples who have made the decision to not have children? Should my aunt and uncle’s marriage be considered null and void because they did not bear offspring? Or adopt? Obviously, the notion of reproduction in a marriage is an important one, but is by no means fundamental. Furthermore, in dealing with the definitions of “family”: let’s first, for the sake of argument, take at face value that the best situation for a child is to be raised by a mother and father. Alright, fine. But what happens when a child is raised in a single parent household? Does that make the family any less legitimate? The bottom line to this argument is that, even if we agree that the best way to raise a child is with a mother and a father, it is by no means the only way. In America we pride the nuclear family above all else, but there are several cultures around the world that not only incorporate what we consider extended relatives (aunts, uncles, etc) into the immediate family – and truthfully some of those cultures are found in many of our low income neighborhoods, born less of immigrant culture than poverty – but also consider everyone in the village to be a participant in the raising of a child. I’m not arguing the “it takes a village” stance here, just pointing out that we can look outside the mother/father/offspring model of family to incorporate two caring individuals who have enough love in them to actually raise a child that may not have found a home otherwise. And even if you feel homosexuality is a sin or disease or whatever, there is an overwhelming amount of studies that disprove the transference of these “negative” characteristics on children. So you can still disagree with the morality of gay marriage without feeling like you are “endangering the children”. And certainly a loving, committed relationship is a better model than the various foster homes used more like way stations on the road to the golden age of 18.

3) “The definition says man and woman”. Well, yeah, it does. But ultimately, if we consider the fundamentals of marriage to be simply a loving, equal relationship, then the man/woman argument is merely semantic. More than that, definitions change as society does – consider how we interact with the word “liberty” and “freedom” now versus when the founding brothers began fighting for this country: at the time, those words intoned a certain sense of responsibility and upkeep. Now they’ve been used as a substitute for the “F” word (French). So to argue that Webster Collegiate Dictionary clearly states that marriage is defined as only a union between man and woman is to cling to the words, or, semiotically speaking, the icons, themselves and not the spirit behind them. (And keeping with our theme of church and state, it’s interesting that this is typically summed up as the “Adam and Steve” argument.)

4) “Schools will have to teach that gay marriage is the same as hetero-marriage.” First of all, this is straight up wrong. Not only does any law allowing gay marriage stay silent on the notion of education, but schools aren’t required to say anything about hetero-marriage now. And why should they? That kind of thing should be taught in the living room, not the classroom. More than that, parents are allowed to pull their children from any moral or family teachings they believe will interfere with their own home education. So this is really a non-issue that, I believe, is part of a larger argument considering the transfer of moral teachings from the home to the school, but that’s for a different rant.

5) “Churches will lose their tax exemption should they refuse to marry same-sex couples.” Again, another false allegation and non-issue. The state isn’t mandating any church to operate outside of its own teachings, considering this would be, ahem, unconstitutional. All the law dictates is that the state will recognize any legal marriage union. Since this can be done by a justice of the peace, no one has to be forced to compromise their values. End of story.

6) “Look at the statistics in Spain, Belgium, and any other place that has legalized gay marriage – they’re abysmal!” This one is a little trickier, because, truthfully, as soon as gay marriage went into effect, the divorce rate spiked up. This is undeniable. However, my argument against this is, well, let’s see what happens in the next 20 years, as people get used to the idea of gay marriage becoming legal. While these stats are true, they may be knee-jerk reactions that could (or could not) temper over time.

Alright so all that said, the only argument left that I can see is, “well, being gay just ain’t right,” or, to be fair, the more intelligent argument, “homosexuality just isn’t right.” The “secular” argument here is that, because it involves reproductive acts that cannot possibly result in reproduction, homosexuality isn’t natural. Two points to be made against this: 1) humans do not have sex simply for reproduction, and not even just for pleasure, but as a physical expression of love and devotion. Endorphins are released during the sex act that bring about a sense of closeness; how one reacts to these feelings is another story, but it happens nonetheless. So bottom line: fuckin’ ain’t just about makin’ babies. And 2) last time I checked, homosexuals are part of nature. I mean, it’s not like my friend Jhana is a robot or something. So isn’t she living, breathing proof that homosexuality is nothing if not natural?

Really, unless there’s something that I’m missing (and please feel free to use the comments section to point out anything I’ve not addressed), at this point, all that’s left is, “I just don’t like homosexuality”. Again, it’s totally your right not to. But ask yourself why you don’t. Is it just because the Bible tells you so?  Or, is it at least rooted in a religious upbringing or morality? Or is it even just distasteful to you? Because if it is any of these things, and you still vote to ban gay marriage, then you are violating one of the basic ideals that this country not only prides itself in but also uses to distinguish itself from the rest of the world: keeping the fundamental teachings of God, or Gods, or Allah, or Buddha, or any deity out of our government.

As a coda: There is something of a counter-argument to the gay marriage issue that argues for the abolishment of all mention of the word “marriage” in the state constitution in favor of the more universal “civil unions”, similar to the way the EU recognizes marriages on the state level. The argument here is that marriage is a social instituion and should have no interaction with the government other than to be recognized as a union between two people. While I find this argument appealing, I think it’s far too early in America’s history to tackle this: right now, America continues to be inextricably linked as both a physical place and an idea, so to threaten the government recognition of a social institution is to psychologically threaten the status of the country. Europe has hundreds of years of history upon which to psychologically fall back on. I think we’ve got another century at best until we as a nation feel comfortable enough with our longevity to start tinkering with some of the outlying social institutions without fear of dismantling our way of life. Though I could be wrong.

Published in: on October 8, 2008 at 9:36 pm  Comments (3)  
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get smart about your vote

Voting isn’t sexy. It doesn’t “rock”. And it’s not a fashionable privilege that can be shrugged off should it not fit in with your work schedule or social plans. Voting is 1) a right, and 2) a responsibility. Let me repeat that: it is your responsibility to vote. Voter turnout for the last 3 federal elections as been 37% (2002), 53.3% (2004), and 43.6% (2006) – that is fucking pathetic. And sadly, it’s been the status quo for the past 30+ years.

Democracy is a team sport; it requires participation from everyone involved in order to work properly.

Yeah, yeah, I know the election isn’t until November 4th. But it’s not just our responsibility to put a pin through a punch card; in order to do it properly, we need to do it with intelligence. It is our job to be informed voters. It is our job to make educated decisions as to who will better handle the demands and responsibilities of the highest executive office, not just in this country but, more than arguably, the world. And in order to pick the more extraordinary of the two candidates, even if it’s just relatively speaking, it is our duty to form educated opinions of them. So don’t try to sell me or anyone that “I’m abstaining/gimme someone to vote for” jive. It makes you sound like a spoiled child. First of all, that viewpoint more often than not is a product of the seemingly endless array of information and, by extension, choices, with which we are presented early on in the campaigning process. So no matter whom we choose, there will always be the buyer’s regret of, “I should have got the other one”. There’s always a better choice, right? Well, maybe there is. But the bottom line is that our choices are McCain and Obama. Period. We have no other choices. So we’d better learn as much about these dudes and their running mates as we can, because one of these two teams is going to be leading our country, and the way they govern will affect you, your loved ones, your neighbors, and your present or future children.

We have 7 weeks from today until Election Day, which gives us plenty of time to read up on the candidates, their positions, and their campaign policies. For our collective convenience, I’ve posted some links on my sideboard to both presidential candidates’ respective homepages, in addition to a few political sites and newspaper feeds. I’d recommend checking them at least semi-regularly, because the way a candidate runs their campaign will tell you a lot about the way they might run things out of the oval office. If you have any that are of particular merit or interest, please feel free to post them in the comments section; I’ll do my best to post some more links on the sidebar as well.

Of course, it hopefully goes without saying that, if you’re not registered, you owe it to yourself, to your family, your neighbor, and me to go out and get that taken care of. Normally when one shrugs and mumbles, “hopefully it goes without saying”, one is saying it for one’s own piece of mind. Sadly, I am not; or at least, not exclusively. There are a lot of people out there who, for one reason or another, don’t take this seriously. And while they shouldn’t have to be reminded, they need to be. So make sure you’re registered. Not tomorrow. Now. You can get a registration card at any post office, DMV, or other government service building. Or, you can download a mail-in form by clicking here.

I haven’t even discussed the state and municipal elections/propositions/amendments that will be on the ballot, but I’ll get to that as we come closer to November 4th. But for the time being, make sure you get yourself and your friends/famly educated on the candidates, if you haven’t already. Spread the word. Get people involved. Pressure them to know what the shit these guys and gal actually stand for. Even if you’ve already made up your mind on whom you’re voting for (like me), get some more learning on your brain so that you can 1) be more convinced of your decisions, and 2) more intelligently debate someone from the other side of the aisle.

But, should you choose not to vote, know that you’re fucking up my democracy. And I do not look kindly on that.

Published in: on September 17, 2008 at 12:07 am  Comments (1)  

I am a feminist – say it with me

The entry below comes from my old MySpace blog, dated 5.25.2006. I was reminded of it when the other day I found myself reading a column from my favorite red-headed op-ed writer, Maureen Dowd (I’m being serious – I’d totally have her babies), in which she argues against a Hillary presidency, but also laments the fact that Hillary has become a shadow of who she once was because, as a female politician in a world of men, she has learned to constantly be on the offensive. It’s an unfortunate double-edged sword that got me thinking about our current third-wave of feminism, where sexual stereotypes are knowingly embraced by women and the word “feminist” is an aggressive word. Anyway, there are a few things in this 2-year-old article against which I find my current self slightly arguing, but… I’m lazy, so I’ll save that for a later entry.

When did the word “feminist” become such a bad word? Maybe I live in la-la land, or maybe I spent too much time in Berkeley, but it seemed like for a while there it was actually cool to call yourself a feminist.

Let me explain. Currently I attend private catholic university. I say this because I understand up front that the general politics of the student body will most probably lean towards the conservative, as do much (but by no means all) of the devoutly religious. Anyhoo, after class I was talking to an undergrad female student who was enrolled in my film discussion lab. She was mentioning how difficult it is to get funding for her tuition (considering tuition costs are incessantly rising, but that’s a different rant). I recommended women’s groups. She said how that might not work because all she wants to do is get married, have babies, and write from her home office. I said that’s great, that she could totally play the “working mom wanting to have it all” card. She looked at me funny, then said, “Well, it’s not like I’m a feminist.” As if it were a bad word.

Incident number 2: another female undergrad, this time actually during one of the discussion labs. She’s telling the other students about a women studies paper she’s writing about depictions of women in the silent era, and how frequently they were made either asexual or destructive, and too often merely the damsel in distress. Then she qualified her arguments by saying, “And it’s not like I’m a feminist…” In both cases, I felt compelled to say, “Well, I am a feminist, and I think etc. etc” (and in the latter I actually did) because I don’t see anything wrong with saying that. My point is, both these young women treated the word feminist as if it were the mark of death… even though they themselves benefit most directly from feminist thoughts and movements – let’s not lose sight of the fact that they are attending a nationally accredited co-ed university.

I think people are most afraid to identify with feminism because they see it as a drastic restructuring of global and historical power. And they would be right about that. The search for equality all to frequently – though not inherently – lessens the power of those who have it, in this case, and arguably all cases, men. The way we as Americans define power is by and large relative, basically through dynamics rather than individual capability. I am allowed to do things that you are not. It’s a quiet form of classism done through economics versus breed or dynasty (although there’s a little bit of that, too). So when we start giving disenfranchised groups of people new rights and privileges, it seems to lessen the value of those who have more rights and privileges than said groups. It doesn’t have to, but it seems to.

There are a lot of definitions for feminism, but in the end, all feminism has to be is the search for social, economic, and political equality for the sexes. This is a harder pill to swallow than, say, equality for different races, because racism is a much more dynamic, regional issue in that it has changed several times over several centuries in several countries. Patriarchy, however, has been around as long as we care to remember. More than that, it uniformly spans virtually over the entire globe. So when we start talking about feminism, we start talking about rearranging power dynamics not just nationally, but internationally.

I said that feminism is the search for social, economic, and political equality. Let me qualify my statement: in America, women have political equality. We all do. Women have the same right to vote as men, the same right to hold political office, the same right to dictate policy. However, considering women are the majority in this country, it seems these rights are not being exercised proportionate to the population. I would argue that this is largely due to the psychological impact of social/cultural and economic inequality: social in that women are viewed popularly in media as sexual objects and culturally not as competent as men (men always need to know what’s going on – it’s why we don’t ask for directions); and economic in that women are paid something like $.77 on the dollar for comparable positions men hold.

It feels like over the past five to ten years that a new wave of feminism has been coming about that is basically saying this inequality is not only okay but embraceable by the female population as long as they are willingly embracing it – the wave that says “it’s my right and my choice to wear high heels and make-up every day of the week,” or that allows men to affectionately use the term “girl money” (that wonderful term used to playfully acknowledge the aforementioned wage gap) in order to be chivalrous and pay for their female dates or friends. Granted, the self-image thing is a wonderful right that this country offers – it’s a plus not to have to wear a burqa – but to exercise that right with such little responsibility, to do so without even thinking of why women wear high heels instead of men (and I don’t think it’s biological) and then making the choice, basically sets our society back a few decades.

If we really are all interested in equality in this country (which we should – we have the power to change things if we all really want to get away from our television sets and internet connections), we need to start being comfortable declaring ourselves feminists. Men especially. Being a feminist does not make you a feminazi (a word that is overly abused). It simply means you recognize an inequality in our society and devote yourself to changing those inequalities – even if it’s just personally – because you believe in the basic tenets of this country: freedom and equality for all. So don’t be afraid, it’s not a dirty word. Say it with me: I am a feminist.

Published in: on May 14, 2008 at 9:43 pm  Comments (1)  
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So if Hillary is Rocky…

Does she remember that, in the first movie, Rocky still lost to the black guy?

Hillary: “No-no-no! I’m, uh, no, I’m Rocky in Rocky 2! Or Rocky 3! Yeah, Obama is Clubber Lang! He killed Burgess Meredith! That’s what I meant! Was that not clear?”

Just a thought: maybe we shouldn’t be comparing politics to pop culture. But I suppose it’s hard when CNN treats Super Tuesday like it’s a monster truck rally (“Monster Tuesday! All the big hitters! Up to the second results! KABOOM!”), and political strategists like to turn nifty sound-bite phrases like “Obama’s preaching the audacity of nope“. Oh, snap! Politics have always been about theater, I understand. Hell, during the election of 1800, thanks to a fragmented, regional press, it was reported that candidate Thomas Jefferson was FUCKING DEAD. And how can you vote for a dead man, I ask you, John McCain voters? (cheap shot!)

But politics haven’t always been as watered down or treated like entertainment. Don’t we want someone in the office who’s going to elevate our level of thinking, not talk down to us? Shouldn’t we be treating the political process with more respect, and taking it on its own terms? If we constantly try to create a narrative out of it, well, in order for a narrative to work you need conflict, and we end up infusing the whole thing with “fights” that may not (and should not) be there. Clinton and Obama are in the same party, for the love of John. Why does she feel the constant need to take him down, or call herself the underdog, as opposed to just espousing her own ideals? Why does she, or anyone, feel the need to re-create herself as a character as opposed to a candidate? Why do we have such a thirst for narrative in our politics? Is it as simple as that’s what allows us to understand a complicated process? Or is a narrative just the inevitable and unavoidable way we interact with anything shown on television?

By the way, in case you were wondering if Obama responded to this Rocky reference: he did, by reminding the world that Rocky is a MOVIE.

Oh yeah, and do you think Hillary remembers that after losing to the black guy, Rocky kissed a girl? That would make a great ending to her campaign… just as the music swells and the credits roll.

Published in: on April 2, 2008 at 7:29 pm  Leave a Comment  

China celebrates April Fools!

Imagine my shock and awe when I saw this quote in a bloomberg.com article this morning:

““To our knowledge, the next plan of the Tibet independence forces is to organize suicide squads to launch violent attacks” around the time of the Olympics, Wu Heping, the Public Security Ministry spokesman, told reporters today in Beijing. He declined to say what measures police are taking to prevent such assaults.” (check out the whole story here. It’s also all over the AP.)

I mean, are we taking this seriously? This, coming from a government who has such a tight control on the press surrounding the Tibetan protests that, after shutting down the country to foreign visitors entirely, it only allowed a relatively small handful of foreign journalists – not including the New York Times – to come and “witness” the “atrocities” that the Tibetans are perpetrating on the Chinese army? Buddhism is the only religion in the world that has not been the source or reason for war or violence. And now the Chinese government is trying to tell us all that monks are jumping on the Jihadist bomber wagon?

Then it hit me – it’s April Fools! Ha-ha, Chinese government! I get it, the jokes on me. Boy, did I suddenly feel like I had egg on my face.

I mean, no way everybody’s gonna treat this like real news. It’s April Fools Day… right?

Hey, wouldn’t Tibetan Suicide Squad make a pretty kick ass band name?

Published in: on April 1, 2008 at 10:35 pm  Leave a Comment