Defenders of the Gold Bikini

I planned to write this essay before Carrie passed away.   She’d been in the media quite a lot recently and the topic was on my mind.

Even though I have some reservations about writing it now, I’m going to go ahead and do it anyway.  I don’t know if it’s a tribute, exactly, or if it’s just because it’s something that I’ve been thinking about lately.  Rest in peace, Carrie.

I am a child of the Star Wars generation.  Old enough to have seen every movie in the theater, but young enough so that I don’t really remember a world before Star Wars.   A New Hope came out when I was 7 and I fuzzily remember waiting for an hour in a long long line to watch it in a theater so packed I had to sit on the floor at my parents’ feet.

Let me pause here to tell a story about why Princess Leia is important to women my age most of all.   In the 70’s (and probably still), if you were a “certain type” of girl, the other girls didn’t really like you.  I wasn’t good at jumprope, my hair was always a mess, I knew the capital of Iceland, and I had a limited sticker collection, so I was perpetually on the outs.  While never a tomboy, I felt like I understood boys better and was desperate to play with them, but the boys wouldn’t play with girls.  Dilemma.  When Star Wars came along, all of a sudden they needed a girl to play with them because they needed someone to play Leia.   Unfortunately for me, I was not deemed pretty enough to play Leia, so I was usually relegated to the part of C3PO – but it didn’t matter.  I was always Leia at heart.

The magical thing about Leia is that she was in the truest sense of the word, a princess.  People use the word “princess” nowadays to mean a lot of negative things, but the real definition of a princess is simply a female person who cares about other people and works tirelessly to help them.   She does this because she is born into a leadership position and she recognizes that her position carries with it both privileges and responsibilities.  So she tries her best to live up to those expectations, even when it is hard, even when she would have chosen a different path, even when it comes at a great personal cost to herself.

The privileges of princesshood are earned by a life of personal sacrifice.   A true princess isn’t a spoiled, pampered brat.  Nor is she a superfeminine creampuff.  Princesses are tough.  They have to be in order to do the job.   But they’re still women, still female human beings.  Carrie Fisher rocked the part both ways.  She was a strong smart chick who actually seemed like she could fire a blaster, leap into a garbage pit, and yet didn’t look out of place in an awards ceremony handing out medals, either.

Any girl could be a princess like Princess Leia.  Even if you weren’t born a princess and even if everyone thought you made a much better C3PO. Because being a princess is the things that you do, and the things that you are, deep down inside where nobody else ever sees.  Girls love princesses not because they have sparkly satin dresses and long flowing hair, but because they embody positive, traditionally female values – kindness, bravery, cleverness, generosity, self-sacrifice.  While great beauty is not a prerequisite, being nicely dressed and well groomed definitely is, because it’s part of the job.  But it’s not the most important part, not at all, and being a true princess means that you understand a costume does not a princess make.   It’s the brain in your head and the heart in your chest and the will in your soul and the fire in your belly.

One can look at the gold bikini a couple of different ways.  If you take it simply at face value, a young woman was kidnapped by a space slug and forced to wear an outfit to humiliate not only her, but the people who care about her.   Princess Leia had to know before going into Jabba’s palace that if things went wrong, they would go wrong in a big way.  But she was willing to take the chance of capture, of humiliation, even death, to help someone she cared about.   She endured and triumphed.  Princess behavior.

On another level, a young woman was hired by Hollywood slugs to play a part in a movie, dressed in skimpy clothes for a few scenes because boys like young women in skimpy clothes and boys buy a lot of movie tickets.  Carrie Fisher was willing to wear this costume because she was a professional actress and it was her job to do so.  She made some money that then allowed her, in the future, to live comfortably, excel in intellectual pursuits, and raise a beautiful daughter.  It also helped the people she worked with to live happy and comfortable lives.   Princess behavior.  In life, even if you are a princess, you sometimes have to do things that are less than thrilling to you personally, because you’ve made a commitment to do them.   This is a sign not of a poor, helpless victim, but of a strong, brave person who is in charge of their own destiny.

Personally, I love the bikini.  I find it entirely appropriate to the situation, the movie and the genre.  What would have been exploitative is if the filmmakers had Leia wearing that getup when she was fighting on the forest moon of Endor, but she wasn’t.  She dressed like a princess and a warrior at all other times.  The bikini was a simple way to demonstrate the unfortunate situation that Leia was in and the stakes involved if Luke’s rescue attempt failed.   It may have even been a part of the plan, I’ve never been quite clear on that.  You can make an argument that she set herself up to be captured as part of Han’s rescue.  She may have been in the situation entirely by choice.

Regardless, Jabba was not a nice slug.  He was not granting Leia diplomatic immunity.  He hadn’t invited her over for tea and conversation.  And Tatooine was not a civilized place – they owned slaves there, they kidnapped droids there, they allowed small children to fly pod racers and Sand People were running amok.   Leia was in legitimate danger.  Yet at the end of it all – she saves herself USING HER OWN CHAIN.   No one saves her.  She saves herself.  Her boyfriend is blind and useless and her brother is desperately trying to avoid the Sarlacc pit.

It’s symbolism, people!  There is plenty of shoddy moviemaking to hate in Star Wars movies, but seriously, the gold bikini  + chain are not the things to focus on.  When Leia dispatches Jabba, it is the original girl power moment, it’s totally empowering.    She went into Jabba’s compound on her own terms and she left on her own terms.  Anybody could fire a blaster, but she strangled a giant space slug with her bare freaking hands.  How could you pull off that lovely bit of subtext unless Leia was put into that position to begin with – captured and chained???

Neither Princess Leia nor Carrie Fisher were, ever, for a single solitary moment, diminished by a gold bikini.  A costume is just a costume.  Women wear costumes for all sorts of reasons.   Because we have to or because we want to please other people or because we’re playing a role.  Sometimes we even wear costumes because we like to.  A costume doesn’t make a princess, because being a princess is what you do, and who you are, and not an outfit that you temporarily donned 35+ years ago.

 

 

 

 

 

 

An atheist on Christmas

Society is: people together making culture – Karl Hess

Ah, Christmas.  It’s the most wonderful time of the year.  The time of year when atheists make a-holes out of themselves bitching about harmless displays of holiday cheer.

Hey, I get it.  We have a separation of church and state, and that’s a good thing.  It’s something to celebrate, not just at Christmas, but all year round.  The separation of church and state means that we can never have a theocracy in this country, it means that the government cannot tell us how, or if, to practice faith.  It means that the government cannot inflict religion upon you, or prevent you from practicing it.

Countries that have, or have had theocracies are many.   Many times they’re relatively benign and mostly unintrusive.  At other times they have been horrifically oppressive.  (then again, so have some atheist governments, but I digress)   It’s a worthy goal to oppose theocracy, in theory.  But.  At the same time, picking one’s battles is important, and as an agnostic/atheist – I go round and round on this and I’m in an atheist cycle now – I do not see any sense whatsoever in going after a Christmas tree.  Even if it’s in a courthouse, even if it’s in a school, or City Hall, or the police station, it’s just a tree, dudes.

The problem with theocracy – and I mean the REAL problem with it – is that it leads to people inflicting their will upon you and upon me.  Making us do stuff, or not do stuff, that we may or may not personally believe in, because religion runs the government.  Making us go to church on Sunday or prohibiting us from going to church on Sunday or making us go only to a certain church on Sunday.   Making our kids say prayers in school or making women wear burqas or sending homosexuals to reeducation camps.  A tree in a building is NOT theocracy.  Laws forcing people to do things or prohibiting them from doing things, is.  See the difference?

A tree in a building is not theocracy.  It is a decoration, like a statue in a park or a painting in City Hall.  A tree in a building is emblematic of something America really, really needs right now – a shared culture.

Humans need culture.  It’s something that we cannot help but create.  Culture is innate to humanity.  Humans leave a trail of culture wherever they go.  Every society that’s ever existed has had a unique culture.   Most societies have a predominant culture that virtually everyone in that society, follows.  What we are trying to do in America, this strange experiment we are running, is to have several cultures coexisting side by side.

Coexisting has a co- element to it.  It’s something that we become blind to, when we start overly focusing on the things that divide us from each other.   A tree is just a tree.  In the grand scheme, it’s minor.  If most people like the tree, if most people find some value in it, maybe the rest of us just STFU and carry on for the good of everyone else.

If you’ve ever gone out to dinner with a large group, you know how this works.  Maybe you end up going somewhere you’d rather not because it’s what everyone could agree upon.   I am an adventurous eater and I love great food, but I’ve eaten a lot of subpar dinners in restaurants that I’d never voluntarily go to.   Because, my grandma wanted to go there, or whatever.  You know what?  It didn’t kill me.  I survived the experience.  A few times I was even surprised by enjoying the meal.  It’s a hell of a lot better to temporarily endure a minor annoyance than it is to be that person who a) holds everyone hostage to your own whims while making everyone else unhappy or b) the person who agrees to it but then complains the whole time and ruins everyone else’s good time.

People like the tree.   I like them.  I think they’re beautiful.  They make me happy inside. Beyond my personal feelings, the majority of Americans celebrate Christmas, and if they like the trees, I see no problem with them.  They’re decorative, they’re symbolic of peace on Earth and goodwill towards men, of charity and loving your neighbor as yourself.  The majority of people like a lot of other decorative/symbolic things that don’t particularly thrill me – for example, million-dollar modern art (using the term “art”very loosely) in public buildings, bought and paid for by tax dollars.  Some of this “art” is ugly and symbolizes things that I think are kinda gross.  But I don’t feel the need to get all ban-happy over them.  I just walk on by and mutter about government waste under my breath. I endure the assault because I know that most people don’t agree with me and it’s not something that is worth fighting over.

This is what is called “practicing tolerance”.

The long term benefits outweigh the short term costs.  Just like how a terrible chicken fried steak eaten in the company of your grandma, even though you’d much prefer sushi, outweighs the terribleness of the chicken fried steak.  It’s something that you do for other people sometimes.  Walk past the tree because so many other people like it and at the end of the day it isn’t hurting anything.  We cannot have peaceful coexistence while everyone is constantly clamoring to tear down each other’s cultural icons.   It ruins coexistence for everyone.  It’s so much better to tolerate something you don’t super-love for a few minutes in the name of peace and cooperation and shared American culture.

We need something that brings us all together, even if it’s only for a few days.  The things that we’ve come up with to replace time-honored traditions are shallow and lame.  Star Wars, for example, may be a great big part of our shared American culture, but is not a substitute for Christmas – no matter how much you love Star Wars, at the end of it, it’s just a movie made to sell a bunch of shitty toys and everyone knows it.  The “philosophy” of Star Wars is a jumbled mishmash of movie platitudes strung together by a third-rate writer based on an invented religion that makes no real sense.  You can’t base your life on Star Wars.  You can’t base your culture on Star Wars.   Star Wars is not enough.

Christmas is the culmination of thousands of years of shared human culture.   Traditions from lots of cultures have coalesced into our modern day Christmas holiday.   You don’t have to be a fundamental Christian extremist to celebrate Christmas (in fact, many of them don’t). Even non-Christian countries like Turkey and Japan do Christmas stuff. It’s not theocracy, it’s because Christmas is cool.  It’s cool like Star Wars is cool – it’s cool because most people LIKE IT.  For a few weeks out of the year, we put up a tree and take some time to think about some things that are by and large, pretty nice.   Peace on Earth, goodwill towards men.  Giving gifts to people we love and care about.  The idea that there’s still a little bit of hope in the world.  All these things are positive human values.

Enduring a tree or even a Nativity scene for a few weeks out of the year isn’t going to kill you.  It may even end up making your world a little better by making some other people happier for a few minutes.  At least you’re not ruining someone else’s holiday.

For some reason, temporarily ignoring things you don’t personally like for the benefit of keeping the peace has fallen out of fashion.  Everyone is perpetually outraged over the smallest slights all the time.  It’s so toxic and destructive.  And it started with the atheists-bitching-about-Christmas-thing.  So let’s come full circle and start practicing tolerance – tolerating our shared culture.  Tolerating trees, Santas, even Nativity scenes, for the good of everyone.  For peace on Earth, goodwill towards men.

 

 

 

Ruminations on Melania’s boobs

Breasts are pretty cool things.  I have some, and I like them.   They’ve served me well.

Having breasts is like, hmmm.  How to put this?   You know those poor, landlocked countries that the modern world seemingly left behind, but then they have some sort of fabulous undiscovered raw material lying under the earth’s crust and they dig it up and then everyone who lives there is super rich and happy because of it?   They’re like that.  Breasts are an asset.   A resource.  Something that a woman – any woman, but perhaps especially a woman who maybe doesn’t have much of anything else going for her in this world – can exploit when the situation requires it, to better her lot in life, even if only temporarily. Women have been capitalizing on that pair of natural resources since time began, in one way or the other.   Breasts can be a woman’s business.  Her bread and butter.  A woman wants to make some money off of her breasts, I say God Bless America.

Thus, I find it dismaying that people who claim to be hardcore liberal feminists are still, over a month after the election, complaining about Melania Trump because she posed topless back in her modeling days.   If you call yourself a liberal feminist but are freaked out because you saw Melania’s girlz in GQ and it’s like totally un-presidential, or un-first-lady-like, or something…you may want to think a little harder about how you define yourself.  If you really, really believe that women have an ultimate right to self-actualization, you must accept that some women are going to use their bodies for financial gain during their youth, and some of those exact same women are going to stop doing that as they get older and settle down, get married, have a family, enter politics, and so on.

This HAS TO be ok, if feminism is to really help improve the lives of women.   Within reason, female choices must be legitimized whenever possible, even when we don’t personally embrace them.  Right??  I mean, I never really felt motivated to pose in soft core porn photo shoots personally, but I’m glad that another woman was able to make some scratch doing it.   I didn’t strip my way through college, but then again I didn’t have to.  Diffrent strokes for diffrent folks.  Women should not be perceived as “tainted” in perpetuity when, for reasons of choice or circumstance, they decide to profit from their bodies in the short term, for long term benefits for their lives or their children’s lives.

Most liberals are generally on board with that principle for anyone who is NOT Melania Trump.   There’s a bit of a double standard at play here where anything the Trumps do is like zOMG shocktastic.  Melania posed topless.  In a men’s magazine.  By consenting adults, for consenting adults.  Big whoop.  She was doing her job.  Her body got her out of a Soviet bloc country and into a lifetime of wealth and comfort.  She hurt no one and in fact probably made more than a few people happier.

In the meantime, there are people who are doing things significantly more questionable than Melania’s photoshoot, who are given a pass due to their politics.  Katy Perry attempts to go on Sesame Street in a blouse that barely covers her nipples.  More recently, former Disney child star Miley Cyrus let a crowd of people feel her up (is this not just a little tiny bit weird?  I find this concerning.  Dolly, please intervene.) https://youtu.be/fQe2IoJVyhw   Liberals, ya can’t complain about the one person’s behavior and not about the others, it’s hypocritical.  You can’t glorify sexuality incessantly on the one hand – even at times when the majority of people think it’s icky and inappropriate –  and then try and paste your political opponents for their unladylike behavior.  Discriminate slut shaming is like trying to kill a mosquito with a sawed off shotgun – you may hit your target but you’re blowing a hole in everything else at the same time.

Guess what – the First Lady of the United States is NOT Mrs. Santa Claus.  She is not necessarily an asexual granny with a string of pearls and a platter of cookies.  That is not a prerequisite for the job.  The only thing the First Lady needs to be, is married to the President.  Melania Trump is a woman who had a life and a career before her husband decided to run for office, and her life and career led her to make a decision to use some of her God-given gifts to earn a buttload of cash.  Good for her.  I wish her the best of luck.

Journalistic integrity and Arabic on a plane

That sounds like a really bad Samuel L Jackson movie.  Or a really good one.

Yesterday in the news, a hilarious YouTube prankster by name of Adam Saleh claimed that he was kicked off a Delta Airlines flight because he was speaking to his mom on the phone in Arabic.  Shit-flippery ensued, and lo and behold it quickly came out that this dude gets his jolliez off of going onto airplanes and acting suspiciously.  He then records people’s reactions to that and posts that on YouTube, I guess to point out anti-Muslim sentiment or something.    I haven’t watched them.  I have a data cap and a lot of stuff to bingewatch.

When this isn’t exciting enough for Mr. Saleh, it seems that he actually makes stuff up to post.  He posted a video where he was seemingly harassed by the NYPD for his religion, except for that it was really a paid actor impersonating the NYPD.   Last week, he posted a video where he claimed to have stuffed himself into a suitcase and fly from Melbourne to Sydney.  Except for that he didn’t and security cameras show him simply boarding the plane and that the whole thing was a hoax.  He’s also said some pretty heinous things and videotaped himself verbally abusing people to goad them into physical altercations.  But let’s set that aside for now and focus on the pranking and the response to that.

in all honesty, I don’t think these things are that huge a deal.  There are tons of similar douchenozzle pranksters on YouTube, of varying ethnic backgrounds, running all kinds of different pranks on unsuspecting people.  While Saleh is clearly just another punk, I kind of admire his spirit.  I think it’s kind of cool that Westernized Islam has produced a comical prankster dyed-hair brah guy out there getting in people’s faces, making a gross amount of money on YouTube and showing everyone just how awesome livin’ large in a non-caliphate can be,  My problem is not with Adam Saleh per se. My problem is how this story was reported without question in the press.

Ok.  So we have a guy with a history of pranks and fake videos, many of which were actually done on airplanes, but the mainstream media reports that he was kicked off a plane for speaking Arabic, as a fact, with ZERO checking.  Literally no checking.  LITERALLY NO CHECKING.  A 30 second Google search would have given any rational, responsible reporter more than enough reason to pause and investigate further before running this story.   Yet some mainstream media sources are STILL running this story as fact today, a day later.

WHAT IS GOING ON AROUND HERE??

Forget Journalism 101.  I learned this shit in HIGH SCHOOL journalism.  You don’t just run a story, you verify it first.  And if you can’t verify it, you don’t run it.

I recently watched a really great movie called Spotlight, about the Boston Globe’s investigation into Catholic priests and sex abuse.  This investigation took place between 2001 and 2003.   The most remarkable thing is the lengths that the journalists went to, to confirm and back up the allegations of molestation before they made them.  They worked for 2 YEARS to confirm these allegations.  Children were in legitimate danger and they didn’t run the story until they had confirmation.  Because that is what good reporters should do.  It’s journalistic integrity.  Wait to run the story until you have confirmation.

Not any more.  We apparently have a new law of journalism.  It used to be “if it bleeds, it leads”.  But now, the law is – if it fits the liberal narrative, running it immediately is imperative.  (I worked really hard on that BTW.)

Now, some might argue that journalists have a responsibility to run stories on things like, let’s say, a sudden rash of racist graffiti.  And sometimes those things cannot BE confirmed.  But they’re still news and should be reported upon.  Ok.  That’s a story, I agree, and difficult or impossible to confirm who was responsible.   Just like how journalists have a responsibility to report when a dead body is found.  They don’t wait around to find out the circumstances under which a living body turned into a dead one, they report that a body was found.  Right away.  It’s news.

But you know what they don’t do, is this: “MURDER!!  Murder bloody murder!  Murder most foul has been committed by gangs of murdering murderers that are very likely outside your window right now, plotting more murder!  Maybe they’re gonna murder you next!!   Who knows!!”   They wait until they’ve talked to witnesses, or the police, to find out if it was really a murder, or if it was a suicide, or someone died of illness or old age or the cold or a car accident.   They don’t report something was a murder FIRST and then backtrack, they report that an incident has occurred and then wait to fill in the blanks.  “A body has been found.”

The press could have gone either way with the Adam Saleh story.  They could have done the Boston Globe thing, and after 30 seconds of Googling decided to maybe wait and confirm the facts with witnesses before running it.  Or, they could have taken a neutral, impartial approach and chosen their words carefully, to indicate that an incident had occurred, but that not all the facts were in yet.   “A YouTube prankster claims…”

But, that didn’t happen.  Journalists in 2016 are the lapdogs of the status quo and have so little self-awareness that they can’t even change up their rhetoric the teensiest bit to try and trick people into believing that they’re not totally slanted.   What happened between 2003 and today, guys?  That was less than 2 decades ago!  You used to be scrappy go-getters willing to do anything to get that story, dedicated to truth, justice, the American way and all that bullshit.  Now too many of you stay ensconced in your ivory tower shaking a fist at the Internetz while desperately attempting to manipulate reality to promote a certain political and cultural worldview, armed with nothing but a tattered copy of Strunk and White and a Twitter account.

Expecting anyone to worry about “fake news” in this midst of this journalistic perfect storm is like analyzing about what’s on the menu while the restaurant is burning down around you.   It’s what happens when the lunatics are put in charge of the asylum.   Stop this mutual suicide pact you’ve all apparently entered into, get that picture of Ernie Pyle out of mothballs and put it on your desk, and really think about what it means to have the privilege and the responsibility of being a journalist.  It means something.  Live up to it.

Rory Gilmore’s abortion.

Check out this link.

http://www.cosmopolitan.com/entertainment/tv/a8483260/gilmore-girls-abortion/

One of my fave shows is Gilmore girls.  Despite its incessant, insufferable quirkiness I found a lot to like in that show, partly because I had a child at a young age too.  I could relate to the feeling that you were growing up together and the strangeness of raising a child when sometimes you felt like you were just a kid yourself, of trying your best to make a family when the rest of the world keeps telling you “you are going about this all wrong”.

Gilmore girls was and is a unique show in that regard.  So many shows portray surprise pregnancies as a life-ruining disaster, and young moms as borderline abusive trainwrecks. How dare any woman ever have a child in anything less than totally ideal circumstances? GG did not do that, and I just really, really appreciated the take that yeah, this is a thing that happens sometimes and when it does, a lot of us proceed to get our shit together, grow up as best we can, have ourselves a baby and work our tushies off to take care of it.   Disaster does not always ensue.

Spoiler alert – so the new Netflix reboot ends with Rory finding herself surprised by a pregnancy.  The show’s creator, Amy Sherman Palladino, hinted that maybe Rory might have an abortion, for all we know.   Then the ever-so wise writers at Cosmo proceeded to turn this into a thought piece so gross that it could only have been written in 2016.

Their take – Amy Sherman-Palladino is a forked-tongue hypocrite because she said that. She’s a hypocrite because  Gilmore girls did not actively show a bunch of people having abortions when they could have.   There were several pregnancies on the show, the author argues, so surely at least ONE of them could have ended with an abortion, for Pete’s sake.   What a wasted opportunity.

Hey Cosmo – have you even SEEN this show?   It’s a piece of cotton candy, it’s like a warm bath on a cold day.  It is soft and fluffy and while the characters do have problems sometimes, they aren’t generally abortion-level problems.  We don’t see Lorelai’s wacky mammogram or Lorelai’s dad’s wacky prostate exam.  We don’t see Rory’s wacky bout with ringworm or that wacky-yet-tense convo when Jess informed Rory that she’d better wackily get checked for an STD and then Rory wackily had to tell Dean the same thing.  We don’t see the doctor scolding Sukie (or Sookie) over her wacky high cholesterol levels or Michel clipping his wacky French ingrown toenail.   It is not that show, people.  How could anyone who has ever watched and enjoyed Gilmore girls seriously think, “ya know, what this show needs is more abortions.”

The entire premise of the show is that pregnancies, even if unplanned, don’t have to ruin your life and while they can change it, that change is not always a bad thing.    THAT IS THE PREMISE OF THE SHOW.  I’m sorry if you don’t like that premise, but there are a thousand other shows that portray pregnancy as some form of female kryptonite bringing Superwoman to her knees, something that must be avoided at all costs.  Personally, I like that premise.  That premise is the reason why I watched the show.

Yeah, some of the scenarios in which pregnancies occurred were not pulled off as well as they could have been.   But at the same time those scenarios were obviously meant to be surreal and played for maximum quirkiness.  Like, the storyline where Jackson lies about getting a vasectomy hoping for another kid someday, and Sookie (or Sukie) ends up pregnant – does anyone really think that is meant as realistic conversation about male responsibility for birth control?  It’s a plot device, a complication, a hurdle for our gang to overcome with girl power and working-mom-teamwork.   Faux-vasectomies are not a realistic problem faced by women and thus the suggestion that the harsh light of reality should be shone onto Stars Hollow with a midnight call to Planned Parenthood is like suggesting that there should be an episode of Laverne and Shirley where they explore their sexuality.  IT IS NOT THAT SHOW, PEOPLE!

Abortion warriors, if you want to address a related problem that actual women do face, I personally know women who have had the opposite occur – they really wanted a child or more children, and their husband had a vasectomy against their wishes.  Other women are pressured into having abortions they do not want by husbands or partners.  Not a few women either (I am a fertility doula in my day job so I talk to a lot of women on 6 continents about their childbearing experience.  This is a serious problem for many women around the world.)  If you wanna open a dialogue, Cosmo, let’s talk about that.

That’s not a dialogue Cosmo wants to have, because it detracts from their doctrine that pregnancy is a horrible tragic event and destroys women’s lives and bodies irrevocably, and abortions are just downright delightful.  Abortions are everything wonderful in the world. Abortions are kittens, puppies, and little baby ducks all rolled into one.  They’re like glitter, everything is improved with a little sprinkling of abortions on top.

Just please – not in Stars Hollow!

 

 

 

 

 

Down the diversity rabbit hole

In the news today is some sort of kerfluffle betwixt Margaret Cho and Tilda Swinton, regarding diversity.  http://jezebel.com/tilda-swinton-sent-us-her-email-exchange-with-margaret-1790203875

Short version, Tilda was hired to play a part in a movie based on a 50 year old comic book that has been read by less than .001% of the population.  This part, in the comic, had been originally written as an elderly Asian man.  50 years ago.  In a comic book that has been ready by less than .001% of the population.

According to the people who made the movie – writers, directors, producers – the part had been totally rewritten and revamped BECAUSE of a desire to avoid stale, tired, racial stereotypes like “wise old Asian sensei”.  They rewrote it as kind of a Celtic guardian type (also done to death, by the way, but hey, it’s Hollywood, we can’t expect much) and cast Swenton in a part that actually suits her DNA very well.

Ok.  So a desire to not be racist, led to accusations of racism.  (I humbly suggest that if they hadn’t rewritten the part at all, and cast James Hong instead, they’d have been criticized on that account as well).  Anyway, the usual suspects proceeded to flip their shit over it.

The thing that gets up under my hoopskirts about this is that the unlikely casting of Tilda Swenton in an action movie, IS diversity.  She’s an older, unconventionally attractive, androgynous-yet-straight woman who has managed to find success in Hollywood despite not fitting into anyone’s tidy box.  Casting Tilda Swenton (in anything, let alone an action movie) is certainly no less diverse than had they cast Zhang Ziyi as a “sexy Asian sensei” or  Lucy Liu as “older sexy Asian sensei” or Michelle Yeoh as “much older sexy Asian sensei”.  It is no less diverse than if they’d cast Jackie Chan as “bumbling Asian sensei” or Jet Li as “cool Asian sensei”.  Would any of those really been in any way an improvement in the diversity department??  Less stereotypical?  Would it have helped underrepresented Asian actors in any way?

If the same 7 Asian actors (all of whom white people are super comfy with, BTW) get cast again and again in every movie ever made, that is not diverse, sorry.   Makes the rich richer and does nothing at all to help “underrepresentation”.  The only diverse-er casting I can come up with, other than Tilda Swenton, is Margarat Cho as “totally unexpected completely unathletic bisexual wacky wisecracking Asian sensei”.   Not in keeping with the tenor of the movie, perhaps, but yeah wow that’s more diverse.  Maybe next reboot.

I’m not saying that was Cho’s motivation here, not at all, but I do think she had SOME motivation that was not 99 and 44/110% pure.  Call me a cynic, but as a student of human nature, I am not convinced that the fight over “diversity” is always a legitimate one.   Sometimes, usually even, but not always.  Sometimes there is an ugly thread of selfishness underlying the noble talk about representation and fairness and social justice that boils down to folks basically saying “give me a bigger piece of the pie.”  And that’s ok, actually.  Everyone wants a bigger piece of the pie.   But for fuck’s sake, can ya not demand your pie without lying and misrepresenting the beliefs and positions of other people?

Because Margaret Cho did that.  She completely mischaracterized what Tilda Swenton had to say, almost in a fake-hate-crimey kind of way.   For attention, for self-promotion, maybe just to get a laugh on a talk show, I have no idea why.   Cho basically honeytrapped an admittedly out of touch middle aged woman who doesn’t even have social media, into being all like “yeah I’m totally working on a project with Asians” and then Cho played that card publicly.  It’s self-serving and sneaky and wrong.  Even if Tilda Swenton is operating on pure unadulterated white privilege (and yeah, I can see that in a couple spots, and yeah, I can imagine how that could rub a person the wrong way) that does NOT justify dishonestly smearing another person in order to personally benefit from racial animosity.

There is enough real, unendurable awfulness in the world already.  We don’t need more.  We don’t need to encourage a climate where everyone is afraid to talk to each other openly and honestly, about the serious issues facing humanity, for fear that it may be twisted, taken out of context, used against us the next day.    We don’t need these shifting sand definitions of “diversity”and “privilege” that change situationally and thus can be used against anyone at any point in time.  We don’t need to encourage a climate where no one can ever be sure if accusations of racism are genuine or drummed up/elicited via entrapment and we no longer are capable of believing victims at their word.  It’s toxic.

 

World’s weirdest civics lesson.

“More and more, we’re counting on having angels in office and making ourselves vulnerable to devils.” – Conor Friedersdorf

In the months and weeks before the 2016 election, there were several news reports lamenting the lack of civics education in public schools.  Little did they know that America was about to get the lesson of a lifetime.

For the last few years, I have been trying (and mostly failing) to explain to my Blue Tribe friends and acquaintances why enacting their vision of progressive heaven on earth via the heavy hand of government was such a fool’s errand.  How forcibly creating this world where we are all “free to love” whoever we want (while retaining the freedom to hate Christians, anti-vaxxers, and guns, of course) under one super strong Federal power structure designed to enforce this “love” was such an incredibly dangerous proposition.

I tried and tried to explain the risks inherent in weakening the checks and balances, in eradicating state’s rights, of mocking and diminishing the Constitution as written by “old white men”, of using executive orders to circumvent Congress, of pshawing at the Bill of Rights when it gets in the way of your agenda.   And you know why I wasted my precious time doing this?  Because I could foresee the possibility of a President Trump, or his dangerously populist Blue Tribe counterpart.

“But what are you going to do when someone who you DON’T agree with gets into office?” I would plead.  “What if it’s someone who’s NOT on your side, next time?  Won’t you have traded away your protections tomorrow and forever (since government rarely gives up power, once it has acquired it) for the ability to temporarily punish people who don’t agree with you today?  What’s going to happen when a Republican gets back into office?  Won’t you have handed them the unfettered force of a strong central government and the ability to use it against you and your allies?”

They simply denied the possibility of that happening.  The demographics are shifting, and all that.  The science is settled.   We can tolerate everything but intolerance.

“Ok, but what if it’s someone who takes things TOO far?”  I implored.  “What if it’s someone who seems to stand with you, who you mostly agree with, and then they start doing horrible things in the name of social justice, like persecuting Christians or something?”

The answer that I got chilled me to my very core.  This answer came from a very fine person, a mother of 7, a woman so kindhearted that she adopted two HIV positive orphans from Eastern Europe.  This eminently delightful person told me, “If that happens, at that time, then I’ll fight to defend Christians.  That is, if they’re not hurting anyone with their beliefs.”  And the majority of our friends cheered her on.

That was the moment that I realized, oh, my God, we are actually in trouble here.  Not only are good, kind, wonderful people absolutely willing to use the force of law to promote their ingroup’s own moral agenda, they are also willing to stand by and delay protecting civil liberties for those who follow a different belief system, until that outgroup is actually, actively being persecuted.  And even worse, these good, kind, wonderful people reserve the right to fight for them or not, even at that point in time, based on their belief system and their behavior.

News Flash: By the time your ingroup is actively persecuting the outgroup, it is TOO LATE to stop it.   Those who protest totalitarianism and mob rule generally end up in dead in a ditch beside those they sought to protect.  And if you make your support for a minority, contingent upon that minority altering their behavior to fit in with your majority, THAT IS PERSECUTION.  It is conversion by the sword.  That does not make you a savior, it makes you complicit.  It makes you an aggressor, a repressor.

This is not tolerance.  It is not tolerance to “tolerate” people you like and who agree with you.  It is not tolerance to offer protection to minority groups only if they promise to toe your line, to embrace your belief system and way of life.  This is Taliban thinking.

Now it has come to pass that which my friends and acquaintances thought impossible, unthinkable, not even worthy of consideration.   We did not get a purehearted, selfless, social justice warrior as a president.  We got a possible bad guy as a president.  And the “Dark Side” has taken control of Congress and will probably also have the Supreme Court well under its control in 4 years’ time.   Blue Tribers, do you get it now?  Do you understand that when you advocate using the force of law and a strong, empowered Federal government to inflict your will, your morality, your philosophy and belief system, onto other people, you have then enabled it to do the same for anyone who seizes power, in perpetuity, in infinite futures that we cannot possibly envision?

Harry Browne, 2- time Libertarian presidential candidate, once said: “Give politicians power, and it will be abused eventually – if not by today’s politicians, then by their successors.”   We must all tolerate the rights of others, even when we despise the way they use those rights.  Even if we have to hold our noses and puke in our mouths a little as we do.  We do this in order to protect our own rights and the rights of our children and grandchildren.  It is a matter of simple self-preservation.

Conor Friedersdorf of The Atlantic wrote an essay earlier this year in which he implores politicians in power to dismantle the abuse of executive power that run amok during the George W Bush and Obama administrations before either Trump or Hillary could take this power and further abuse it.  I strongly urge everyone to read it.  http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/03/quick-limit-the-power-that-trump-or-clinton-would-inherit/472743/?utm_source=msn

We are currently living the world’s weirdest civics lesson.  It’s too bad that it had to take somebody like Donald Trump to teach it to people.  I can only hope that people actually learn it this time. Nutshell version – when you give power to the government to do what you want it to do, then others can then take that power and use it to do things you never dreamed of.   The only way to win, is not to play.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The jackass in the room.

Hillary’s political fortunes are driven by out of control cocks.  – Bill Maher

Can we talk about the elephant…or the jackass, in the room?

Yeah.  Bill.

It was really hard for me, and I mean Feminist Me, the chick who refuses to wear high heels because I think they’re a sign of male dominance, to watch Hillary Clinton, her supporters, and prominent feminists feigning outrage over Gropergate, knowing the whole time about Bill.  Young women, you may not remember Bill.  You may not remember the things he did.  But some of us do.  And some of us remember the way that Hillary and many other Clinton supporters defended his bad behavior.

I’m not gonna talk about the allegations.  They are in tons of places online and I don’t think going over it all again, is helpful to the overall debate.   I will simply mention that the late author Christopher Hitchens, a committed leftist and general anti-religion guy, not a right-wing partisan, not a prude, found the allegations plausible enough to write a book where Bill’s troubling sexual hijinks were discussed at great length.  And he believed Hillary Clinton to be very complicit in covering up her husband’s bad behavior.  http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/fighting_words/2008/01/the_case_against_hillary_clinton.html

The facts are what concern me; two sets of facts in particular.

1)Hillary’s, and Hillary’s supporters’ inconsistency on the issue of sexual assault, at least where Bill is concerned, while simultaneously and hypocritically lambasting their political opponents for the same things.

Firstly – shifting support for rape victims depending on which way the wind is blowing.  Hillary in her own words: “To every survivor of sexual assault…you have the right to be heard.   You have the right to be believed.  We’re with you.”  When she was questioned about this statement during the Democratic primaries in light of the accusations made against her husband, she backpedaled on this and said “well, I would say everyone should be believed at first until they are disbelieved based on evidence” (a statement which I completely agree with BTW – but an idea which has been criticized by many far-left feminist activists even despite some prominent cases where there were false allegations made).  Then, she or someone working for her deleted a previous statement for unquestioned solidarity for rape victims from her own website.  Snopes has this down as true, folks, it happened.   http://www.snopes.com/hillary-clinton-right-to-be-believed/

Yuck.

Secondly, Gloria Steinem herself, in a New York Times editorial written in 1998, defended Bill Clinton against groping allegations made against him by a desperate woman in need of money who came to him to beg for a job (very similar to what Donald Trump has been accused of and admitted to on tape) as being “just a clumsy pass.”  This was a widely utilized defense of Bill Clinton at the time and Hillary certainly did not speak out against this interpretation.  They didn’t admit he did it, they just said even if he DID do it, it would have been ok because it was just a clumsy pass.  A grope is ok, according to Steinem, if the woman says no, and then you stop.  Using this logic, apparently it’s ok for Bill to grab a job-seeking woman’s hand and shove it into his crotch – that’s just a horny guy making a pass.  It’s ok for Bill to expose himself to a total stranger and demand that she kiss him (and not on the cheek) because she said no and he stopped.  It’s ok for Bill to grab a woman’s breasts and then tell his girlfriend “I didn’t do that because her tits were too small.”  (Didn’t Donald say that too, supposedly??  I’m starting to see a trend here.)  He could have been more suave, maybe.  Bought her a drink first, or something.

Double yuck.

If anyone can come up with some difference between what Donald did and what Bill did in the groping department, I’m all ears.  Other than that what Bill did is a lot better proven.

2) The victimization of Monica Lewinsky.

Bill Clinton was 49 years old, and the President of the United States when he met and pursued an inappropriate relationship with Monica Lewinsky.  She was 22 years old and an INTERN – not an employee, not hired on her merits and education and at least somewhat on an equal footing as her boss, but an intern.   I am of the opinion that it’s almost always wrong for any older man to mack on a much younger woman till she’s at least 25 and 30 is better.   And it’s even worse when it’s a boss-employee kind of situation – it’s the imbalance of power, the idea that you can’t really say no, because if you do, it may cost you your job.   Even if it’s consensual, that imbalance of power may force a woman into a position where she feels she can’t break it off, or she can’t say no to things she is uncomfortable with.  This is especially true for younger, less experienced women.

Additionally, I think it’s gross and wrong when men use and discard women.  Bill had no intention of pursuing a relationship with Monica.  He was using her for sex.  Yet she saved all those sad little mementos of their relationship.  He was using her and I believe she naively hoped for more (that’s where being 22 years old comes into play).  It’s a moral judgement to be sure, but it’s a moral judgement that I feel is a legitimate feminist issue.  The terrible case of Bill and Monica involves an epic misuse of power and male privilege and speaks to the status of women in the workplace, the status of women in society, the role of older women as protectors to younger women, and is at least worthy of serious consideration by anyone who calls themselves a friend to women.

If this had been my husband and I found out he was messing with an innocent young woman, I would kick his ass both publicly and privately.  But Hillary Clinton did not do that.  She was certainly no friend to Monica.  She called her a narcissistic looney toon, employed the “a little bit nutty and a little bit slutty” tactic to smear Monica’s name and reputation.  Clinton staffers have stated that it was Hillary herself who came up with the “Monica is a stalker” defense to undermine her credibility.  Again, Gloria Steinem betrayed her feminist principles to defend Bill Clinton (because it was consensual, that makes it ok) and again, Hillary didn’t disagree.  Hillary cannot truly call herself a feminist, she just can’t, she doesn’t have the ground to stand on.  A feminist defends another woman when she’s been victimized, she doesn’t slut shame and play the “mentally ill” card when the guy who did the victimizing just so happens to be somebody she likes.

Clinton supporters at the time and still to this day, mock Monica Lewinsky’s weight.  I have never heard Hillary say one word against them.  Miss Piggy, she was allll over that, but Monica Lewinsky being excoriated for the last 2 decades over her weight??  Apparently that’s a-ok.  Slut shaming, body shaming, taking advantage of one’s female employees for sexual gratification – these things are evidently ok with Hillary.  If they weren’t, she’d speak out against it unilaterally and not only when it involved her political opponents.

Hillary Clinton is no feminist.  She never was.  She’s a person who lusts after political power and is willing to exploit and betray feminist solidarity and sacrifice individual women in order to achieve that.  She proved this yet again during the recent election cycle when her minions accused young female Bernie Sanders supporters of being sexists for not voting her way.  In yet another shocking move by Steinem (I think Gloria may need to have her head examined), she came right out and said younger women only voted for Bernie because “that’s where the boys are”.  (!!!)  Maureen Dowd, who won a Pulitzer Prize for her coverage of the Lewinsky case,  has an excellent analysis of the situation and its implications for feminism as a movement.  http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/14/opinion/sunday/when-hillary-clinton-killed-feminism.html

All this stuff, it just makes it really hard to take anyone’s outrage over “Gropergate” seriously.  Bill is no different than Donald.  Both men behaving badly.  But Hillary defended Bill.  She attacked his accusers.  But Donald was to be endlessly taken to task for similar escapades, without even the faintest whiff of irony.  Hillary is not a friend to women, she’s not a defender of women, she is clearly a person for whom political expediency reigns supreme.

A man walks into a theater…

Last night Mike Pence went to see Hamilton (or, as I like to call it, the musical that’s been crammed down my throat by Google News daily for the last 9 months).   I don’t know why he chose to do that.  Maybe he wanted to learn something.  Maybe he was trying to show support for the diversity of the country.  Maybe it was some kind of attempt to bring the country together.  Maybe he just wanted to see what all the fuss was about.  But he’s a human being who wanted to see a play, so he went to see it.  Please note, I wasn’t there, I am simply reporting on what I have read in articles and on Twitter.

Mike Pence is just about everything I loathe about Republicans.  As a libertarian, I don’t have a ton in common with Mike Pence except for fiscal conservatism and hopefully a great mutual love of the Constitution.   I’m pro-gay rights, I support amnesty and love immigrants and diversity and am (vehemently) opposed to any kind of registry for anyone ever.  I do not support the idea of America as a Christian nation and have fought against the notion for over 25 years.  But.  The way Mike Pence, human, was treated at that theater was really, really awful.  First, he was booed by nearly the whole crowd – so much so, and so threateningly, that he felt like he needed to leave.  Then he was called out by a cast member of the show and basically prevented from leaving.  Physically, I’m sure he could have left, but they kind of painted him into a corner where he really couldn’t.  Politically and personally, it would have reflected badly upon him had he left at that point.

Then, over the course of the next few hours, he was jeered and booed by the crowd to such extent that the actors had to stop several times.  At the end of the play the cast read what I felt to be a very nice message (got no problem with that) and then Pence went outside where he was surrounded by a crowd of over 100 people in the street and jeered some more.  Donald Trump apparently issued a tweet about the whole thing later, in his usual obnoxious, abrasive style.

This is apparently what happened according to people who were actually there and who took videos on their phones to prove it.  90% of media is reporting on this as “Mike Pence Saw Hamilton.  The Cast Had Something to Say.”  or “Donald Demands Apology.”  Most articles do not mention or minimize the bullying on the part of the crowd and the people outside the theater, and then paste Trump’s tweet on the end making it look like Trump was taking exception to the very nice statement the cast made, and not the hours of boos, jeers, and threatening behavior that Mike Pence, human, endured.  Which I’m sure Donald probably was, a little bit, but it was in the greater context of the evening’s events.  The crowd’s behavior set the tone – that very nice statement given by the cast comes over a little bit differently when you know that it was given after a human being had just been verbally abused for 3 or 4 hours straight on the basis of their political and religious beliefs.

This is not how you win people over, Blue Tribers.  This is mob-rule behavior.  Can you not see that?   It is deeply troubling to me, a person who voted for Michael Dukakis, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama, that you cannot see that.  That you are not troubled by this and in fact feel fully entitled to treat people in this fashion because they’re not on your team.  This is scary even to people like me – who mostly agree with you, guys –  the ‘grab yer torches and pitchforks’ thinking and then the media spinning it to use the whole thing to make bullies into heroes (if you are in a theater full of people who completely agree with you and you’re all booing one person, you are not “courageously standing up to Mike Pence”) and Donald Trump look insane (he really doesn’t need your help with that, please just be HONEST, media, so I can trust what you are reporting to me).

You know why I’m saying this??  It’s not because I’m a Trump apologist.  It is because I am deeply concerned with the mob mentality of those on the left side of the aisle, and this constant spinning of reality to fit the social justice narrative.  I saw this happening years before Donald Trump was running for president and have been saying so, only to have my “friends” turn their vitriol on me.  People I’d known my entire life turned on me over the very suggestion that the progressive movement might need to tone down their divisive rhetoric and give people a chance to catch up.

Donald Trump and Mike Pence are easy to hate, that’s for sure.  But I cannot help but think there is a deeper problem here.   I for one think this narrative would have been happening even if a milquetoast like Romney or Jeb Bush had won the election.  I think it would have continued even if Hillary Clinton had won.  Not towards her, of course, but millions of American people who self-ID as conservatives or Christians.  I think we all should be very, very concerned by it.   I don’t want to live in a world where people of particular viewpoints and beliefs – ANY of them – are singled out for ridicule.

 

 

 

I am not a crab in a bucket.

A new essay has been circulating amongst my liberal acquaintances on social media.  For the most part, it’s unremarkable, more of the same thing we’ve seen a lot the last week – somebody’s daughter was sad, racismsexismhomophobia, that’s the short version.

But at the end of the essay, I read something I really, really took exception to.

53% of white women voted against Hillary – well, they are crabs in a bucket.

Crabs in a bucket.

For those unfamiliar with the expression, crabs in a bucket refers to the tendency of cute little crustaceans to try and climb up each other and pull one another down in the process, as they attempt to escape a bucket-prison.   If only they could cooperate, a few of them might escape, but because they’re all trying to climb out simultaneously, none of them manage to do it.   But of course they lack the ability to cooperate because they’re crabs and their brains are the size of a pea, so in the bucket they stay.

When applied to humans, it refers to the tendency (real or imagined) of some people to look at high achievers and try to take them down because “if I can’t have it, you can’t either”.  So this essayist, a male, by the way, is writing off the votes of 53% of white women because of cattiness, because of jealousy, because they can’t set aside their pettiness and be happy for another woman.  Crabs in a bucket.

This is a charge that’s often made against women.  That we would rather see other women fail than to be successful when we can’t.  We’re catty, petty, small-minded, consumed by jealousy, incapable of setting aside that innate self-destructive chick behavior in order to cooperate long enough to escape the sexism bucket.  I guess because our brains are small and soaked with estrogen or something?

The idea that women might be individuals with their own hearts, brains, and life experiences, who dispassionately weighed all the possible options and information available to them and then rationally made the decision that they thought was best for themselves and for the country – nah.  Women are just crabs in a bucket.  The kind, gentle, liberal men have decreed it.  Those bitchez are always scratching each other’s eyes out.

Expecting women to vote a certain way for no other reason then detecting a fellow vagina, and when they don’t, blaming it on a stereotypical female failing – it is just absolute, complete, total sexist disregard for the intellect and individuality of women.  It’s so disrespectful.   Dismissing tens of millions of female voters because they didn’t politically agree with you, and using “female cattiness” as grounds for that dismissal?  That IS sexism, right there.   Using sexist stereotypes to dismiss the thoughts and opinions of women – not cool.  It doesn’t matter if you have very grave concerns over female representation in media and demand changing tables in all bathrooms, you’re a sexist.

I hate to break it to you, Blue Tribers, but just because a member of a minority group makes good, does not immediately and magically solve all problems experienced by that group.  Ask Philando Castile how well having a black president worked out for him.  The policies MATTER.  Casting a vote for a woman that I do not like, do not trust, and do not politically agree with, for no reason other than our mutual gender, would be totally and utterly insane.  BTW here are 38 Hillary-specific reasons why I did not vote for Hillary. 38 reasons that Hillary lost the election that have nothing to do with the FBI.

Hillary Clinton failed to prove herself to me.  That’s the whole story.  She doesn’t represent my views as a personally (mildly) conservative, politically (super duperly) libertarian person who happens to have two X chromosomes.  If I cast my vote using no other criteria than some perceived concept of “sisterhood” it would mean that I had been snookered by identity politics at its worst.

It’s not that I wouldn’t vote for a female candidate.  I would.  I’d love to.  (Carly Fiorina, are you still out there?)  That I didn’t is NOT due to my personal failings and it’s certainly not due to my inherent failings as a catty, backbiting female.  It’s because your candidate sucked and her campaign failed to connect with me.  Give me a better candidate, Democrats, and I will vote for her.   And in the meantime, I suggest some serious deep thought about your party’s own issues with sexism before you cast stones my direction.

I am not a crab in a bucket.