So, I think we know what comes next

July 5, 2010

To those of you who have followed me for the last year, thanks a bunch. It’s been fun. This blog has now served it’s purpose, and I will be moving on to smaller and different things. This was my travelouge to document my time abroad and turned into a blog to get me into writing again.

But now I’m moving over to tumblr until I regain a focus to my writing. Please follow me there! I’d love to keep writing for you and hearing from you.





3 interactions

June 16, 2010

1. In the mall, after work at about 10 pm, I’m walking down the hall and 4 guys are wlaking my way. I keep my head up, but don’t make eye contact with any of them and just walk straight ahead. I don’t feel like being harassed. One of them asks how I am, and I curtly say “fine.” Then I realize that these boys may have been nice people. They may have been asking to be polite, instead of to follow up with some rude comment. I felt bad for judging them instantly in such a negative way.

2. I was later in the diner, paying for my food. Andy and Ryan had already paid their share and walked outside. The owner looks at me and says, “How did this happen?”
I responded, “How did what happen?”
“When I was young, women were forbidden to pay for their own food.”
A server chimed in with, “It depends on the man. Some of us are still like that.”
I smiled and said, “Well, I like paying for my own food. It makes me feel like a real person.”

3. While walking home from DVA at the end of my evening, wearing shorts, a men’s button down, and a vest, a passing car slowed down near me. One boy inside yelled somethingunintelligible , and the other yelled “SLUT!” They sped away. I felt uncomfortable in my clothes, in my skin, and in my neighborhood. I just wanted to be inside and away from these assholes. It’s interactions like this one that make the first one happen. And the thing is that I don’t understand it at all. Why would you do that? I wish I could ask. Why would you yell something so offensive at someone just walking around in her own neighborhood? She’s a person and you’ve ruined her evening, not to mention given her another reason not to talk to anyone she doesn’t know. I shouldn’t have to feel unsafe in my own neighborhood, nor should I have to feel like I can’t dress for the weather without being attacked.


if you loved your friends, you’d be thin for them

May 10, 2010

I’m so upset by this post on Elle magazine’s website that I StumbledUpon that it has taken me almost a week to get up the energy to respond. The article is about The Importance of Friendship. This is one huge section of it:

2. Lose Weight
Since Christakis and Fowler published their study showing that obesity was socially transmissible among members of the famous Framingham Heart Study (it wasn’t just that birds of a feather flock together: People were actually making one another gain—and, sometimes, lose—weight), the finding has been confirmed in multiple other populations. So how do people infect each other with fat? One way is imitation. Brain scans show that when you watch someone else eat or run, your brain activity is the same as if you were eating or running yourself, priming you to do the same things. And people in experiments seated next to robust eaters will eat more than those seated next to light eaters. Social norms also play a role: If your friend gains weight, you might become less motivated to go to the gym because your friend’s example showed you that weight gain isn’t the end of the world. She’s heavier but still the same person you know and love. And now that 66 percent of the American population is overweight or obese, that’s a pretty well-established social norm.

Happily, this effect could be turned on its head if people worked to establish an opposite social norm—weight loss can spread just as easily as weight gain if you seed your network with fat-fighting habits. In Christakis and Fowler’s book, they suggest starting a running club containing friends of friends so that you’re surrounding yourself and your closest contacts with exercisers (and remember, when people see you run, it makes their brains think about running too). You can also make healthier food choices and eat with greater restraint. If you take a pass on the fries and eat more vegetables, your pals are more likely to make the same choices. And then, once you reach a healthier weight, you might shift the norms in your group.

This is a category of what-the-fuckery that I have not dealt with in a while. Apparently, if you befriend fat people, you brain will tell your body that you should be fat, too, and you will gain weight, whereas if you befriend thin people, your body will start losing weight, because your brain doesn’t want to go against the norm.

Does this strike anyone else as one of the most ingorant and illogical things ever?

This article does several things.
-It sets fat up as something you can catch. Apparently body types are contagious.
-It then hails the social norms of our culture as 100% the exact thing you want to achieve and follow.
-It states that if you get thin, you will be setting a good example for your friends, so they will also get thin. To not be thin is to cause harm to others.
It promotes fat hate by supporting the isolation of the fat individual.
-It promotes segregation of the fat population by saying they should just be friends with themselves.

The fat are ruining innocent thin people with their disgusting habit and existance! Don’t befriend the fatties! They’ll eat you and your attractiveness!

For fucking shame, Elle. For fucking shame.


National Punch a Slutt Day: A failure

May 1, 2010

A friend of mine recently made me aware of a Facebook event called “National Punch and Slutt Day” and I am appalled. There’s so much that is objectionable about this that I’m having trouble properly responding to it.

Let’s start with what a slut(t) is. It’s a woman who has too much sex with any number of men indiscriminately and is morally and ethically evil/bad. Slut(t) is a highly gendered term, and women attending this event are a part of the fucking problem. Slut(t) is a moral judgment, this fear of sex and objection to female sex(ulaity) comes from a highly religious culture and background. This is an ethical judgment, because even people who think they have escaped such a background still want to deem women as bad or wrong in the way they choose to be sexual.

It is not okay to pass moral or ethical judgement on an individual’s sexuality. Again, it is NOT okay. Leave your judgments out of my sex life. Do not attempt to paint yourself is somehow superior to me because you have been with one partner or have somehow escaped the label of “slut(t).” Do not wedge me into your narrow framework and then call me the one who is wrong.

I’m using the first person singular pronoun of “me.” I am not a slut(t). I refuse to label my sexual self as something so degrading. But I have been called a slut(t). I have had my behaviors judged in such a way. Most of us women have at some point, as even hinting at yourself being a sexual being is to become a slut(t) in this Madonna/whore world.

This is what my friend had to say

Second, this event is encouraging violence.
*1 in 3 females worldwide will be raped in their lifetime.
*1 in 4 females will be raped before they turn 18.

According to the National Dating Violence Hotline,

*1 in 3 teens report knowing a friend or peer who has been hit, punched, slapped, choked or physically hurt by his/her partner

*1 out of 3 women around the world has been beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused during her lifetime

*1 in 5 female high school students reports being physically and/or sexually abused by a dating partner. Abused girls are significantly more likely to get involved in other risky behaviors. They are 4 to 6 times more likely to get pregnant and 8 to 9 times more likely to have tried to commit suicide.

*74% of all murder-suicides involved an intimate partner (spouse, common-law spouse, ex-spouse, or boyfriend/girlfriend). Of these, 96% were females killed by their intimate partners.

*In 2004, 1,159 females were killed by an intimate partner.

You may say I am taking this event too seriously. You may say it is meant to be a joke. It is not funny. One person wrote on the wall that 33,000 people cannot be wrong. What about the Nazis? What about Rwanda? What about the systematic murder of Native Americans in our country? What about racism? Lynching?

I work with survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence every day. I have been called to the hospital to be with a 67 year old woman who had been brought in with deep gashed in her arms and bruises covering her body from the beatings she had sustained from her partner. I have also been called to the hospital to sit with a 14 year old who was gang raped while she was trying to have a fun night with people she thought were her friends. Are those two women sluts?

What if you have a friend who has been called a slut so many times she has started to believe. What if she believes that the abuse and rape from her partner is deserved because she’s a “slut?” What message does attending this event send her?

Violence has to stop. It has to stop with us.


Urban Lake: a slight departure

April 30, 2010

I’ve been putting (throwing?) the Preface together for the last few days, and it stuck me as strange that we have mostly untitled works of art. In fact, most every photo that was submitted this year was title-less. And that seems so incorrect.

What is the purpose of a title? I suppose it has several. One being to prepare the viewer/reader/listener for what they are about to experience. Okay, so titles can be informational. A good title can entice people into looking up your work or attending your event, so titles can be attention-grabbing. But for a photograph or a single piece of art, I think titles are different. They could arguably be less important. A poem or a story requires reader commitment, and titles help make the reader want to take that commitment. They help your work be remembered (as companionablesnuffles pointed out recently) and serve as a defining characteristic. In art, this is less the case. The eye does not usually see a title first, but the work itself. When talking about a piece of art, people usually go to the what of the thing before the who of the thing.

So why is it bad to not title art?

There were a few times during the art editing Preface meeting that we were debating artistic pieces and choices, saying “If only we could ask the artist why this is this way!” or “If only we could ask the artist what they were trying to accomplish!” Because without knowing those things, sometimes a piece of art just looks like an accident or a mistake in technique. And if I don’t have something to give me more information about what I am seeing, I can feel satisfied continuing to assume that this is an accident and mistake. That’s why artist statements are important. And that’s why titles are important.

A title for a piece of art should help the viewer understand something about the art. What are you trying to convey? Emotion? Are you trying to simply show someone something you’ve observed? Patterns, maybe? What? What resonates with you, the artist, about this picture or sculpture? Are you just showing off your skills? What do you want me to see or know or understand or explore? If you don’t know, then why the fuck should I care about this? If you don’t, then I shouldn’t.

A title is a bit of a conversation with the viewer. It doesn’t have to be obvious. It can be interprutive. But art is a purposeful thing. So if you leave a piece Untitled, make sure that you want to convey everything that word means to the viewer. To me it means accidental or confused or uncertain or devalued or nonchalant. I judge your work with that word in mind. If you have a photo of a puddle reflecting a building, and you took it because you thought it looked nice or interesting, but you don’t think it has a specific message, don’t be afraid to title it “Urban Lake” or “Puddle” and let me know that’s what you had in mind. If I see something more, I’ll ascribe it something more. If it affects me majorly, I’ll still be affected. But I want to know what you thought or saw. I want to know a little about your why.


a position to act

April 23, 2010

There can be a very strong case made for the position that social movements are more difficult now than they were in the 1950s and 1960s because we have social taboos and legislation that masks the fact that inequality still very much exists. We have masked systemic issues with political correctness, which makes it more difficult to prove injustice. For instance, now that it is no longer acceptable legally to fire women for having families, companies have gotten sneakier about doing it, which makes it difficult for a woman to rally against that injustice. We are still fired for getting married and having babies, we just aren’t allowed to be told that anymore.

So maybe it is the case that groups of people who are openly discriminated against have a much better place to push from. When a woman is told she’s not as good as a man, she can push back. When she is told that her performance is lacking, and nothing more specific, she has little footing.

If this is the case, then the fat population is in a great position for social change. This is a population of people that is openly hated by the vast majority of both men and women across Western cultures. Examples can be found everywhere: in the health care bill, in the movies, in television, in magazines, in malls, in education, etc. Not only are examples of fat-hate everywhere, but the mentality is quite encouraged. If you even date a fat person, you’re often met with some form of ridicule or disbelief. We talk about fat and lack of control in the same breath without anyone bothering to do a double take. The hate is everywhere and it’s blatant.

So we are in the perfect position for a body revolution, yeah? We have the proof that we’re being treated poorly and we have a strong and very present mind-set to oppose. The fat are in a position to change American society in a way that has not been possible in decades. While the details about the how need hammering out, the overall ability and potential is remarkable.



An Important message from the communications department

April 16, 2010

As some of you have heard me frequently complain, I feel quite unsettled in my major. Communications classes have, thus far, been almost totally devoid of interesting, new, or useful information (with the exception of 132). When I read the books, I of course learn things, but it hasn’t been anything too revolutionary or anything practical enough for me to take out into the “real world.” And I’m quite disappointed.

In addition, the people in my classes primarily come from a much different, less challenging place than I do. Which I mostly wouldn’t care about. Except that they tend to say things that I can’t help but get angry at, like that the domestic sphere is almost equally divided between men and women. Or that there’s more pressure on men to be sexually thrilling than there is on women. Or that Goucher students are just like students you’d find anywhere else, so our immediate personal experiences clearly reflect the rest of American culture. And they’re wrong. And I know they’re wrong. But I can’t seem to get anyone to agree with me. So I thought that maybe I was wrong. But I can’t honestly buy that.

So what do I do?

Well, after going to my psychoanalysis class yesterday, I think the answer is pretty clear.

We read Luce Irigaray’s ‘The Poverty of Psychoanalysis’ and discussed it, and this line, which I marked my first time reading the text, was expounded upon by Rochelle.

Most of you will therefore be unable to interpret it. And you will be prevented from listening by at least two systems of screens, of censorship or of repression.

Irigaray was addressing a group from the Lacanian school of psychoanalysis, which she had at one point been a part of. She was addressing them after her friend had committed suicide after being so disheartened and annihilated by the theory that she just couldn’t really go on. And Irigaray is mad. And she is emotional. And her theory is a part of her. And it’s beautiful.

Rochelle talked about how much Irigaray attacked the Lacanian school and its students and, well, Lacan himself. And how nobody would listen to her. She knew nobody would listen to her or even understand her. But she kept talking and attacking and refused to be quiet.

And when Rochelle was saying this, I felt so connected. And I felt so much better. And I feel more determined to not give up on speaking in my communications classes, even if everyone rolls their eyes when I do it. Even if I’m the “token feminist.” Even if no one understands me. Because I know I have something to say and because that something feels so important. Not that I’m going to be too Antiochian about it (okay, I’ll be a bit Antiochian) and just make noise about everything for the sake of making noise. But I fully intend to raise concerns and issues with the standard nonsense that is frequently espoused in these classes.

I’m no Irigaray, by any means, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to shut up just because my opinion is unpopular.

It was a very inspirational class.