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A haiku

Can’t write with headache

Take a pill and dim the lights

Hope it fades away

#HeBlowsALot Redux: Apology Denied

Since I’m unable to sleep again, I may as well cover this. Emma Sullivan has apparently decided not to write the apology letter her disgrace of a principal, Karl R. Krawitz, demanded. Here are some links about that.

“At this time, I do not think an apology would be a sincere thing for me to do.”

Good for her! Free speech is everyone’s right, and that means not only the freedom to speak, but the freedom not to.

Especially the freedom not to write insincere, bullshit apologies demanded by some jackass who thinks he needs “damage control”. How’s that damage control going, Karl?

I don’t have much more to say on this, but something Principal Krawitz said in one of those articles stuck in my mind.

Krawitz, her principal, told The Kansas City Star previously that the situation is a “private issue, not a public matter” but didn’t return a phone message from The Associated Press at his home Sunday.

In what way is this not a public matter? Seriously, it was a publicly visible tweet, Governor Brownback and Principal Krawitz are public servants, and Shawnee Mission East is a public high school. Heck as far as I know the only private party involved is Emma Sullivan herself. (And I guess Twitter, but they’re literally just the messenger here.) If that’s a private issue, what the hell does it take for something to be public?

I’ve seen many people on Twitter calling Brownback a bully (and even reporting him as one, hilariously), but really I think Principal Krawitz is far more guilty of that charge. For all I know Brownback didn’t even know about it til the story broke. His staff clearly have the right bullying attitude, but only passed on a complaint.

It was Krawitz who took it upon himself to tell this young woman what she can and cannot say, It was Krawitz who apparently spent more words scolding her than you can fit in a tweet. And it was Krawitz who should have been defending her rights, who should be defending the rights of every student in his care, and decided shallow appearances, or maybe just his own ego, was more important.

Rights and citizenship

Not doing well with the writing today. Here’s a link to a transcript of yet another Republican debate. Reading this, I wonder why they bother. It strikes me as nothing but empty pageantry, mere spectacle to get people applauding, not a debate in any sense that I’m familiar with. But there’s some weird stuff going on in there, and one bit of weirdness jumped out at me.

Here’s a quote from Michele Bachmann:

This is one thing we know about Barack Obama. He has essentially handed over our interrogation of terrorists to the ACLU. He has outsourced it to them. Our CIA has no ability to have any form of interrogation for terrorists.

When the bomber — or the attempted bomber over Detroit, the underwear bomber was intercepted, he was given Miranda warnings within 45 minutes. He was not an American citizen. We don’t give Miranda warnings to terrorists, and we don’t read them their rights. They don’t have any.

It would be unfair to suggest that this is typical for a Republican candidate, Bachmann is out there by anyone’s standards. The idea that the ACLU controls interrogations… I haven’t the slightest idea what she’s saying there. “They aren’t letting us torture suspects anymore”, perhaps? But there’s some stuff in there that’s pretty common thinking and I want to address it. Read the rest of this entry

The Fucking Patriarchy, Part 4

Boys don’t cry. Man up and grow some balls, you sissy, or are you just gonna cry like a girl?”

More than anything else, the fucking patriarchy hurts and oppresses women. But if we’re going to take in the scope of the thing, we have to look wider than that. Because the fucking patriarchy hurts and oppresses everyone.

Women are inferior, therefore anything a man does that is at all like a woman diminishes him, is something for him to be ashamed of. This has led to some of the most ridiculous stereotypes, since the ideal woman is clean, well-dressed, and able to do all the cooking and cleaning on top of whatever else everybody is doing, the stereotypical man is slovenly, unwashed, and lazy. I can speak to this one from personal experience, when I go out in public clean, well-groomed and stylishly dressed, it’s almost certain that someone will assume I’m gay.

Gender roles are silly things. The idea that your sex is also a job, that it comes with responsibilities specific to it, is an old one. It can be found all over the world, but no two cultures seem to agree just which duties are “manly” and which are “womanly”. There’s no practical reasons for them, we could easily just ignore these tired old social conventions and be who we like, except we still have this ghost of a dinosaur telling us to conform, conform, conform.

Conformity is a powerful force in the human psyche. When someone refuses to conform they’re ostracized, demonized, and frequently targeted for violence. The fucking patriarchy survives on conformity, and has mechanisms to defend itself from iconoclasts.

Another short post, I’m sicker today than I was yesterday. At this rate I’m going to have to stretch this out. Maybe that’s for the best, talk about something else tomorrow and get back to this subject. I’ll think about it later, for now I’m going back to bed.

The Fucking Patriarchy, Part 1

Thanks to several blog posts and at least one anecdote that I’ve encountered recently I’ve decided to to dedicate a series of posts this week to the fucking patriarchy. Like all of my writing, I’ve done some basic research but one shouldn’t assume that I know what I’m talking about. I’m going to be discussing this more or less from the ground up, partly to make things clear to anyone who’s not familiar with the basics, partly to squeeze more posts for the post-a-day challenge, and partly for my own education. This is also going to be a lot more vulgar than usual, because somehow that takes the edge off a bit.

So welcome to Fucking Patriarchy Week. I’ll try to get through this with as little alcohol as possible. Read the rest of this entry

Dignity and battlefields

The other day I chanced upon a comment on a blog about re-enactments of historical battles. Someone who participated in re-enactments described the event as dignified, and that got me thinking about battles and dignity. The more I thought about it, the less they seemed to go together.

See, it seems to me that a proper historical re-enactment of a battle shouldn’t be dignified. Not even a little. It should be confusing, frightening and horrifying. There shouldn’t be people just falling over quietly to play dead, they should lie in a pool of blood screaming while they try to hold in their intestines with their one hand that still works. Spectators should have nightmares after watching it. I’ve been to re-enactments and battle pageants many times, and I don’t ever remember seeing a grown man crying for his mother right before he starts convulsing into his death throes, does that really sound historically accurate to you?

I imagine a really accurate re-enactment would be far more traumatic than entertaining.

To See or Not to See

Today during a discussion it was suggested that a scientific study of a subculture should not be performed because any negative aspects or perceived negative aspects such a study found would be used as weapons by those who stigmatize it. As so often happens in idle conversation the subject moved on fairly quickly, but I found myself thinking about it again and again during the evening. So, since I haven’t written anything in ages, I figure I may as well muse over this a bit.

Interestingly, I’ve realized that it doesn’t matter what subculture this is, so I’ve taken pains not to say it for both anonymity and for what I will call purity of purpose. If you’re reading this and thinking you agree with me unless it’s one specific subculture that you dislike, what does that say about you?

Anyways, the premise that I’m responding to is that a study should not be performed if the results could be used against the subjects. The short version is: I disagree on both philosophical and practical grounds, and will address them in that order. Read the rest of this entry

Two out of four ain’t bad?

The remarkable Greta Christina recently posted an article titled “Wealthy, Handsome, Strong, and with Endless Hard-Ons: Is Masculinity Impossible?.” It’s an interesting read which I recommend, and discusses how sexual stereotypes can be hurtful to men as well as women.

This was still fresh in my mind when I had the opportunity to join Google+ (expect a Social Networking Junkie post about that in the next week). Joining Google+ was very simple for me, I just had to add a few things to my Google Profile and click “Join”. One thing they wanted to know was my sex, and this was not optional.

I thought about it a bit, and realized that that’s one of the things that’s almost always required for just about any internet site you can sign up for. They not only always want to know your sex, but they usually just have a dropdown or radio buttons with the choices of “Male” or “Female”. I guess intersex people just have to knuckle down and choose which box to get squeezed into. (In fairness, Google does include an option for “Other”. Personally I’d prefer just a textbox to say whatever you damn well please in.)

But this isn’t just about recognizing the intersex or the transgender or any other person to whom the answer is not so simple as “M or F”, this irritates me on a deeper level. Why should it matter? What does Facebook care what my chromosomes are, why is it any of Google’s business what’s between my legs? Like so many other things that annoy the fuck out of me, the answer is marketing.

Advertisers want to know. Presumably they use different strategies to try to convince men to buy more shit than women, and they want data both to plan with and to target with. I’m quite sure my Google ads will be different if I edit my profile to give myself a sex change. And what interests me about this is that they aren’t merely working from sexual stereotypes, but actively contributing to them. It’s like a weird feedback loop.

It also feels very unnecessary to me, especially if the typical result is something like this Burger King sandwich in Japan that’s advertised as “suitable for women”. It seems stupid & derisive to treat people as cardboard cutouts like this, especially in a world that’s rapidly leaving gender roles behind. It may even be counterproductive, marketing to stereotypes is only going to appeal to those who feel they fit that stereotype. Anyone else is either buying it in spite of your ad campaign or shopping elsewhere.

More than anything I hate it because it tells people who they are “supposed” to be and how they should act. Men should be obsessed with sports, sex, and shiny toys. Women should be focused on clothes, cooking, and cleaning. Everybody should be as stupid as possible. Intersex people shouldn’t exist. It’s getting broader now, the repertoire of stupid stereotypes is growing, but it’s all still the same shit. And I hate it.

So, in defiance of stereotypes and in solidarity with those who don’t quite fit into the roles or the underwear society would force them into I told Google my sex was “Other”. I don’t want to be in your box, I’ll make my own.

Gay Marriage

(For more on this subject in general, and the ongoing legal battles over prop8 in particular, I recommend the excellent Prop 8 Trial Tracker)

Last weekend New York passed a bill legalizing gay marriage. I haven’t talked about it here because I kind of felt that everything had been said already, but you know what? They haven’t been said by me, and that’s already bitten me in the ass once, so here’s my say.

If this looks too long to read and you just want to know in simple terms how I feel about it so you can categorize me or something, I’m saying “Marriage bans do nothing but prevent some people from marrying the person they choose. Way to go New York, hope the remaining 44 states follow you into the 21st century soon!” If that’s all you need to know, then there’s no point in reading past the cut. Those of you who want details? Onward!
Read the rest of this entry

Walmart vs Women

Monday morning the Supreme Court decided that a sex-discrimination lawsuit against Wal-Mart cannot proceed as a class-action suit. Here is the decision in pdf. When I refer to page numbers, I’ll be talking about the pdf page for simplicity’s sake. Buckle in, folks, this is going to be a long ride.

I should start with the usual disclaimer pointing out that I am not a lawyer, nor am I trained in the minutiae of legal language. While following the Prop 8 trial I read a lot of legal briefs and had lawyers helping me to understand them which gives me at least a general feel for how these documents work, but I am not by any stretch an expert nor do I pretend to understand the nuances of legal theory. (It’s also worth mentioning that many papers concerned with Prop 8, especially Amicus Curiae briefs supporting the Defendant-Intervenors, were completely insane. Seriously.) As such I’ll mostly keep my discussion onto parts I more or less understand, more philosophy than legality. On those terms, at least, I feel that I can show that Scalia needs a new title. I propose from now on he be known as “Little Janie Q Scalia”. Read the rest of this entry

Writing is hard

I never learned how to write an outline. I just don’t get it somehow, something eludes me that’s so basic and fundamental that I can’t articulate it usefully, and nobody’s ever been able to help. The closest I ever got, I think, is when I wrote a lot of little synopses for a collection of short stories with a loose continuity between them. Tiny, one paragraph summaries like you might see in TV Guide telling you what to expect on Tuesday’s episode. I think maybe I had the essence of it there, perhaps I’ll try building on that concept later. Read the rest of this entry

On Death, Conspiracy Theories, and Wars on Concepts.

So Osama bin Laden is dead. When I first heard this, my reaction was “So what? Game of Thrones is on.” Clearly not everyone shared my apathy, and I really don’t understand why. Read the rest of this entry

Challenge 1: Spider Jerusalem Rant

So, my first challenge is to write a Spider Jerusalem style rant. I’m going to put that behind a cut, because it’s going to be long and vile. As a small disclaimer, I am not a professional journalist, so this rant is not well-researched and I cannot back it up the way Spider could. That said this will be honest, however wrong it may be.

Read the rest of this entry

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