More Weekend Music Blogging

Ryan posted some more music downloads along with the “most obtuse history of the War on Terra” on Liberal Avenger.

I contributed Songs: Ohia’s “Riding With The Ghost.” Go see.

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Rick Santorum and Pitting the Working Mothers Against the “Non-Losers”

Chuck pointed out this letter to the editor in our local paper that I seem to have missed:

I’m in my own little world apparently. Every day I wake up with two happy kids, even when I go out the door for work. I work nights, my husband works days and due to the rising cost of decent child care, that won’t change any time soon. My kids are happy, healthy and well adjusted.

People have commented on this on several occasions in public. If my kids are losers, as one recent letter writer suggested, then explain to me why my oldest is an A student at a local elementary school and holds the key to the world in his hands.

If the bare necessities didn’t cost an arm and a leg, I’d tell my employer I had other plans and I’d be home seven days a week. But thanks to our wonderful elected officials and all those brilliant, non-loser corporate CEOs, I have to work. I see my kids more than I see my husband, whom I’ve been married to 13 years now; if anyone or thing suffers here it would be our time together as a married couple.

But that’s OK, we’re better than that, as long as we make it and do it together, there are no “losers” in my house.

Jennifer Voight, Lafayette

There has been a conversation about the morality of working mothers in our paper, which includes tripe such as this letter that was printed adjacent to the one above: Continue reading

Posted in Feminism, Religion | Tagged , , , | 25 Comments

Elements of Style

From the fashion pages…

Shopping while black — even Oprah can’t escape poor treatment in department stores, as she was recently shut out of an Hermes boutique in Paris. The Voice has more.

Feminist fashion: the petticoat, apparently. I’ll admit, I love long floaty skirts as much as anyone — I’m rockin one right now. And even though the article isn’t exactly laced with feminist politics, it’s nice to see someone using the word “feminist” in a positive and normalized way.

Posted in Business, Feminism, Race & Ethnicity, Vanity | Tagged , | 8 Comments

“Wow! She’s fat!”

At first, I was taken aback by the Village Voice article on the new Dove ad campaign, as it starts with calling the model “fat.” But what I like about it is that it admits that when many of us (myself included) see an ad with an average-sized woman, there’s a moment of shock. Then there’s a moment of, “Yeah, right on!”

So, we’re walking down the Bowery a week or so ago and we see that Dove poster everyone is talking about, the one with a indisputably voluptuous “real” woman posing in her underwear and before we can censor ourselves we murmur practically out loud, “Wow! She’s fat!” and then we’re instantly ashamed because of course we’re too politically correct to ever think that for real except—we did.

In fact, this beaming, frankly fleshy model, big as she is, is a lot younger than we are and let’s face it, in truth she is no fatter than we are—and she looks to be in far better shape.

Though we like to think of ourselves as the most progressive person on earth, it turns out we are a lot more similar to most people than we care to admit: We, like everyone else, are so accustomed to looking at skinny, skinny women in magazines, on television, in movies, and virtually every place else that when we’re confronted with someone of a normal weight she seems completely freakish. So insidious, so poisonous is the tyranny of the super-thin that we recoil, if only for a second, at the sight of an average woman on a billboard.

Who could have predicted that when people in highly developed countries had more than enough to eat, the result would be a bizarre combination of widespread obesity and rampant self-starvation?

The rest of it gets a little shallow, but it’s an interesting read regardless.

Posted in Business, Vanity | 20 Comments

Friday Random Ten – The “Title It Your Damn Self” Edition

If it’s Friday somewhere, it’s time for the Friday Random Ten. Roxanne was kind enough to point out it is already Friday in Asia, which is all I need as an excuse to publish the Friday Random Ten on a Thursday night without anything cool to do like attend the BlogHer conference this weekend.

Load all your mp3s into your player of choice, hit random and list the first ten to play. If you’re feeling sinister, exercise the coolness audit. Now, my pretties, leave yours in the comments or on your own site.

FRT

1) Elliott Smith – 2:45 am
2) Le Tigre – Darwinism and the Status Quo
3) New Order – Ceremony
4) The Russian Futurists – Our Pen’s Out of Ink
5) Peaches – Shake Yer Dix
6) Nancy Sinatra – You Only Live Twice
7) The Slits – Vindictive
8) Sir Mix A Lot – Posse on Broadway
9) Sons and Daughters – Taste the Last Girl
10) Morrissey – Irish Blood, English Heart

Bonus Guilty Please Track: Mount Sims’ Black Sunglasses. Guilty because I still can’t totally accept the new electronic music, even if it reeks of the 1980s. Okay, I lied. I kind of like it. A lot.

Posted in Music | Tagged | 25 Comments

Cats and Dogs

We’re starting this week’s festivities early.
Continue reading

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Bush Doesn’t Hate All Flip-Floppers

Case in point.

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The Humor Test

This is no surprise, though I should have scored higher on vulgarity.
Continue reading

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Thursday Reads, and My Family On Blogging

Physician, Heal Thyself: Legislating Morality
Fact-esque: Rock, Paper, Scissors Man-on-Doggie Style
Alas, A Blog: Femininity and Motherhood
Pharyngula: Gilder Still Wailing Over His Spanking
Suburban Guerilla: Sea Change
To Be Determined: Why Don’t The Muslims Just Condemn Bombing?
Lawyers, Guns, and Money: The Unbearable Logic of the “Pro-Lifer”

During last night’s dinner at a local Mexican restaurant, the only time I have ever seen my father tipsy (64 oz. margarita), the discussion turned to blogging. My father insisted that Powerline is the best blog in existence, and accused me of being a DKos shill. Then he said he doesn’t like my hair.

It’s too bad my mom feels unable to give my father my blog address. It’s the foul language, she says. He would thusly know that his youngest daughter is skeptical of and not at all in line with most of the Daily Kos community. Further, he would probably be bothered that she is far left of Kos himself.

This week I’ve been helping my mother watch the baby girl of a family friend over at my parents’ house, during which time I have seen my father surf message boards with threads consisting entirely of “TAKE THAT YOU LIBRAL MOTHERFUCKER!!!!!11!1″

Clearly, it isn’t about the language.

He also regularly checks on blogs such as Powerline, Captain’s Quarters, Wonkette (for research purposes, I suppose), Instapundit, Michelle Malkin, and a blog named “two chicks and a” something or other, and referred to the writers as “smart young ladies.” I wish I could say the margarita inspired his adulation of radically right-wing blogs, but it wasn’t the alcohol.

I must be adopted.

My sister then brought up the topic of Air America, which she listens to for “entertainment value,” and how ridiculous she finds the commentators. Jerry Springer makes more sense than Al Franken, she said. This isn’t good. I thought about detailing my daily jaunts to wingnuttery by detailing how I listen to Limbaugh and Hannity for outrageous entertainment, but stayed mostly silent to keep the peace, in part because I was outweighed 3 to 1 on the political spectrum and they already think I’m nuts.

The worst part is that I was unable to jump in to explain the nature of blogging, expertise and community. My sister asked how many blogs I read a day — ten? twenty? She balked when I told her I read over two hundred blogs a day. My sister wanted to know the reason “reading people’s opinions” is so compelling. I got no further than the 30-second story, two-minute in-depth coverage criticism of national news media before the topic of conversation was forcibly changed.

I contemplated making a list of moderate and conservative bloggers for my dad to peruse, blogs that I respect despite our differences, but then I realized that it was I, when I first tried to explain to my father what a blog was, who showed him Instapundit in the first place. At that time, I didn’t want him to find his way to my site and chose a site very unlikely to link to mine. But yesterday, I saw him reading Wizbang, a conservative blog with which I have long-term connections, and realized we were crossing paths anyway.

For further reference, my father didn’t know how to turn on a computer before he hit the age of sixty.

Posted in Blogging, Politics, Recommended | Tagged , , | 24 Comments

The Point and the View

My new favorite blog is BAGnewsNotes, a blog dedicated to analyzing news-based visual representations of politics, politicians, and what essentially functions as propaganda. These images are so often thrown in my face that I forget they are loaded with pro-Bush II administration sentiments.

See today’s post on recent uses of the flag, and a paranoid but amusing post analyzing pictures of John Roberts through the years ( I must say I disagree with the author’s conclusions). For a particularly good post, see the analysis of Time Magazine’s Anne Coulter cover from this April.

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Poor Bill

On the Falafel King: Lord of Loofah Leads Charge on Left

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Hillary v. Xbox: Long Ramble on Video Games, Movies, Representation, and The Gaze

Dear Sen. Clinton,

I’m writing to commend you for calling for a $90-million study on the effects of video games on children, and in particular the courageous stand you have taken in recent weeks against the notorious “Grand Theft Auto” series.

I’d like to draw your attention to another game whose nonstop violence and hostility has captured the attention of millions of kids — a game that instills aggressive thoughts in the minds of its players, some of whom have gone on to commit real-world acts of violence and sexual assault after playing.

I’m talking, of course, about high school football.

Of course I’m not too hot on GTA:SA. I haven’t played it myself but have spent enough time watching friends play to get annoyed. I was curious, especially having read some of Dr. B.‘s research on race representation in video games. This short post got me a-thinkin’.

One of the reasons I can’t lose myself in gaming is the inability to feel represented by the characters, part of the reason I find myself resisting movies as well. As per a comment I left on Pandagon today in response to watching The Woodsman, a movie in which the audience is compelled to sympathize with a pedophile after he is released from prison:

“One thing that truly bothers me — and I know there will be a number of people who will feel compelled to throw out examples once I’ve said this — is that this was another case of telling a martyred man’s story with a sympathetic eye while the victimized women serve only as catalysts for his internal change. I’d like to see more stories about realistic characters told overall, but I think the movie industry is ripe for change when it comes to the telling of hard, challenging women’s stories.

“I have to say that when I saw the movie, the protrayals of survivorhood really bothered me. The female characters didn’t need to be treated flippantly, but neither did they need to be damaged beyond repair. Further, I have a hard time sympathizing with child abusers and rapists. But that’s intensely personal.

I watched that movie, reluctantly, and when it was over I felt like shit.”

Granted, there are plenty of games and non-Lifetime movies that focus on women’s realities, but more often than not, women in entertainment mediums serve as tools for male advancement and enhancement. Part of this is the perceived audience, the production’s mental images of men lining up to buy movie tickets and video games, and only reluctantly tagging along with their female significant others if a woman’s face graces the accompanying promotional poster.

And so, when I commented on Pandagon again on the GTA:SA “Hot Coffee” mod, I said:

“I hate to be a buzzkill but for the most part no one seems to care about perpetuating tiresome stereotypes of urban African-Americans (or for that matter the poor, hick white folks in the game — and Glory Hole Park anyone?), and if the game does anything, it re-presents these stereotypes in a new, exciting! way.

And unfortunately the game sticks to these stereotypes in all the ways in which choice isn’t an option — the charaters’ ridiculous catch phrases, for example, which as far as I know cannot be turned off. It’s tiresome to play and to listen to, no?

“And again, even though the game is ripe for criticisms of race representations, all anyone wants to notice is the violence and the sex. Is it because of the imagined audience?

“Sure the game is interesting and has useful innovations for tech and gaming, but the story and world itself is pretty fucked up, especially if you realize that the world you have to act in is actually quite limited.”

The limitations of sight, story, and representation are one of the hardest things for me to get over when I am supposed to immerse myself into an alternate world. The choices are too limited, the gaze too focused. Books have a different effect on my brain — as a reader I am free to create any picture of the characters, scenery, and actions I like, even differing from the author’s vision as I see fit. The brain alters any act or vision it finds abhorrent to fit the reader and modifies a full, but base, storyline. Oftentimes, when I read, fictional characters lack a face or body at all, and move about in words and empty space.

The jump to watching movies and playing video games is difficult, in that that there is a visual representation, complete with a gaze that almost never matches my own. It is not only irreconcilable to me that I am not represented in form, but that the gaze does not represent mine.

Like Senator Clinton and other congressional prudes, I resist these kinds of games and movies, but for totally different reasons. Too often these media are an attempt to shock us back into feeling after having been made numb by preceeding exploitative “entertainment.” I can’t be entertained by active promotion of racism and sexism and respond negatively to such shock. As with watching The Woodsman I leave the experience feeling like shit.

[Editorial via Chuck‘s post on Correlation v. Causation]

Posted in Entertainment, Feminism | Tagged | 7 Comments