Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Samhain!


The drums of Samhain keeping time.
The gates of magic open wide.

A cauldron's blessings overflow.

The candle flames are dying low.

The witches dance the circle 'round
to chant and bring the power down.

Hecate will hear our call
to turn the summer into fall.

The magic veil is growing thin.

The Netherworld is near our own.

We'll see the sacred fire fed
while witches commune with the dead.

The winds of Autumn call our names.

The driving rhythm slowly calms.

The glowing embers we will tend
until the drums of Samhain end.


Blessed be! Welcome the ancestors home! I hope your festivities were/are wonderful.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Masturbate for Peace!

I grok this :D (See I used it!)

The Power of Masturbation

There's no greater antidote for war than love. Feelings of hatred and distrust form the necessary basis of armed confrontation. Replace those negative feelings with love and you're halfway towards resolution of any conflict.

However, any real love must start from within. You can't love others without loving yourself first. And, of course, masturbation is the greatest expression of self-love. So it's natural that we, the citizens of the world, are joining together to masturbate for peace.

Joining the Movement

Joining this movement is simple. Just masturbate in your own way, focusing your thoughts and energy towards love and peace.

I have this feeling these folks didn't conceptualize it this way but... what a very interesting use of basic sex magic forms! I would encourage any of my peace-loving readers to aid the cause!

Decision Time

I have resolved to integrate the word "grok" into my vocabulary. Oh I recognize it when others use it. But I want to use it! Regularly if possible.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Stop selling yourselves short sisters...

Because it's worth saying.

a cat and twenty: above and beyond all this

There's a lot too this entry, all of it is important and worth reading, but what left me decided to post it, is this passage, quoted for truth.

but barring these impossible dreams, you know what i wish? i wish that we would stop apologizing. it's not easy - we've learned to say "i'm sorry" to try to preempt the whipping, or to lessen the lashes, or just to quiet our own minds while it's happening. we've learned that "sorry" helps us survive. but i wish we could start fighting back, just a little, in little ways.

so women - you women i know, you women i don't, any women who happen to read this, women everywhere, right now - start by not apologizing. don't apologize for just being what you are - don't apologize for the big and little things you do because you're a woman, or because you're a human being who happens to be a woman. don't qualify your thoughts, your opinions, your feelings - don't beat people to the punch of implying that they don't matter. "i know this might sound stupid, but..." "i know this is a dumb question..." "this is going to sound silly..."

stop. it is worth saying. you are worth hearing. women, please, say it, ask it, take it, do it - don't apologize.

there is nothing wrong with you.

Amen sister.

Since first reading it, this post has really had an effect on me. I have had to make some changes to the way I talk, myself, to stop from doing this so much. So thank you, a cat and twenty.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Dominance and Submission

I'm just having so much fun on my day off!

So, I came across this post at the Blowfish Blog. Gods, I just love it when I come across something that articulates an issue that has been swimming around in the back of my mind for a while trying to form! And this one has been on the burners for quite a while. Really ever since my watching of Buffy the Vampire Slayer all the way through, and re-watching "Smashed" since the first time, when I accidentally clicked it on the night it broadcast on the WB and was transfixed to the screen for Spuffy's first sex scene (shown below).

That is just so hot.

And yet, I mean, look at me! Hey man, I'm a radical, socialist feminist with separatist sympathies! Shouldn't be criticizing basically the entire Spuffy relationship and every bloody interaction they have?

But I can't. That is just SO HOT (though the scene my bottom banner comes from might rival it). And maybe this post explains why. It certainly resonated with me.

I think that we fantasize about what we don’t have. Stressed-out city folks dream of tropical paradises and bucolic rural getaways; bored small-town folks dream of the excitement and glamour of the big city. Unhappy single people dream of true love; unhappy married people dream of being footloose and fancy-free. Etc., etc., etc. That’s the whole point of a fantasy, isn’t it? Even if your life is generally good, you’re still not going to fantasize about the things you already have.
It’s the constant vigilance against the stupid sexist indoctrination that’s been sunk into my head since I was an infant. It’s the constant struggle to be assertive when I’ve been taught to be compliant, to speak up when I’ve been taught to be a good listener, to argue when I’ve been taught to be agreeable . . . all without turning into an asshole. It’s the constant half-second arguments I have in my head every time a guy says or does something sexist—is this particular battle worth fighting? Do I respond, or let it go?

It gets exhausting. Not just for women, but for men as well, who’re contending with the flip side of gender indoctrination and changing roles and expectations. And I think a big part of the appeal of the male-dom female-sub fantasy is that it offers a break from the fight. It offers an opportunity—whether in a role-play scene in real life or a masturbation fantasy in your head—to take a vacation from the battle, to briefly wallow in the familiar roles, in a safe place that’s separate from your everyday life.

And like most vacation spots, for most people it isn’t the place where you’d really want to live. Sure, there are people who do 24/7 male-dom female-sub relationships, just like there are people who sell their houses and move to Tahiti. But for most people, part of the pleasure of a good vacation is how happy you are to come home from it, the fresh perspective it gives you on everything you love about your everyday life. The indulgence in a fantasy of a masterful man and a compliant or helpless woman gives you a break from the struggle against sexism in your everyday life . . . so you can emerge rested and refreshed and ready to do battle once more.

A Return to Traditional Values!

...But probably not the ones some Christians so actively call for...

So shortly after my own post on religious diversity I have come across this LA Times article by Mary Lefkowitz talking about the same thing. Her solution is a return to the Greek way of looking at religion. While that is not exactly my thought, I can certainly support the notion.

Prominent secular and atheist commentators have argued lately that religion "poisons" human life and causes endless violence and suffering. But the poison isn't religion; it's monotheism. The polytheistic Greeks didn't advocate killing those who worshiped different gods, and they did not pretend that their religion provided the right answers. Their religion made the ancient Greeks aware of their ignorance and weakness, letting them recognize multiple points of view.
Zeus, the ruler of the gods, retained his power by using his intelligence along with superior force. Unlike his father (whom he deposed), he did not keep all the power for himself but granted rights and privileges to other gods. He was not an autocratic ruler but listened to, and was often persuaded by, the other gods.

Openness to discussion and inquiry is a distinguishing feature of Greek theology. It suggests that collective decisions often lead to a better outcome. Respect for a diversity of viewpoints informs the cooperative system of government the Athenians called democracy.
The world, as the Greek philosopher Thales wrote, is full of gods, and all deserve respect and honor. Such a generous understanding of the nature of divinity allowed the ancient Greeks and Romans to accept and respect other people's gods and to admire (rather than despise) other nations for their own notions of piety.
Paradoxically, the main advantage of ancient Greek religion lies in this ability to recognize and accept human fallibility. Mortals cannot suppose that they have all the answers. The people most likely to know what to do are prophets directly inspired by a god. Yet prophets inevitably meet resistance, because people hear only what they wish to hear, whether or not it is true.
Greek theology openly discourages blind confidence based on unrealistic hopes that everything will work out in the end. Such healthy skepticism about human intelligence and achievements has never been needed more than it is today.


Wow, it's Saturday already!

Sorry guys, I started a new job and I've just been too tired to think in any sort of profound way. And I refuse to post anything here unless it's at least slightly profound. Perhaps I will make it up to you with two posts today!

So, what I came to ponder today is the concept of being "anti-male."

This is a term I've heard a lot over the last couple days from two sources on a board where we discuss current events. Now, I have to admit, both of these individuals fall under the aptly named Fucking Pedantic Asshole category. So really, I probably shouldn't care that they think I'm "anti-male," and yet it irks me.

You see, to me, "anti-male" means, you hate men. I don't hate men! I fucking love men. I love fucking men, for that matter. I love their straight forward ways of speaking. I love when they look at me and I can tell they find me attractive. I loved the animated conversation with a very attractive new male which caused us to lean forward towards each other so noticeably that my husband (who by the way I also love) felt the need to yell out "hey are you two going to make out!?" I love when they are as irreverent as me, and when they can make me laugh. And I especially love when I can tell they are attracted to both my mind and my body.

I grew up with almost exclusively male friends. To be honest, I didn't even like my sex that much growing up. They were complicated, too much went on beneath the surface that honestly I didn't understand, and many of them were incredibly catty towards me for not being like them.

But the fact that I recognize that there are men out there who are not my friends? That makes me anti-male? That I realize that patriarchy is a real thing? That we are not equal, and that there are men out there who rape, murder and abuse women on a regular basis, and in fact far too often...That makes me anti-male?

I'm steadily seeing one of the ways that feminists came to be known as man-haters. Some men don't fucking get it. They don't get the complexities I'm working in when I make a feminist argument. They don't get the complexities that are life. And apparently they can't suffer their brothers to be criticized without feeling criticized themselves, and of course, you can't be critical of them unless you actually hate them. They don't see how you can love men, and criticize them at the same time.

But it is possible. You can in fact, criticize "men" (and "men" means "men who this criticism applies to, because it doesn't apply to all of you") and still love them over all. When out in public, by myself, do I treat men with some suspicion? You're damned right I do. There are definitely situations where I am very aware of my vulnerabilities. But if I feel I'm in a safe situation? I talk to all of them. And I don't ask their political or feminist affiliations first. Does any of that sound like someone who is "anti-male" to you?

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Knocked Up

I repost this from my livejournal. I wrote it after I'd seen the movie in the theaters. Well, I saw it on the shelves tonight as it has come out on DVD, recalled this post, and in lieu of being way too tired to post something else...I give you, my review of Knocked Up. Which I may or may not revisit when I do see the movie again. Enjoy!

There has been a lot of talk about this movie in the feminist blogosphere so I was very interested to see what it was they were all talking about. I have to say it quite lived up to the hype, and as usual I agreed with some analysis of it, but also disagreed with the importance of some of the other issues.

Overall, it was a really good movie. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and I look forward to seeing it again when it comes out on DVD. I actually think I might buy it, about half way through I found myself thinking that it could possibly be one of my favorite movies. The whole premise was not exactly new, but the way Apatow approached it was more real life than I think I have seen before. In fact I don't think I've seen a movie that rang so very true in a really really long time, if ever. Maybe "Chasing Amy." Anyway.

The fights between the couples were painful to watch, that's how true to life they were. The sister character has also taken a lot of flack for being such a shrew, but to be honest I found myself looking at her and thinking she wasn't over done at all. I've known plenty of women just like that, some people are bloody neurotic. When her and her husband fought I easily saw where they both were coming from. It was all too like fights I've had with Travis at one time or another. Although thank gods we don't fight even half as much as that fucking couple does.

Something that was brought up that I totally disagreed with was Seth Rogen's weight in the movie. "Just another "King of Queens" situation with a fat guy getting a hot chick." I totally disagree with that whole argument in this case. In some situations, yes, it gets frustrating seeing that even when the guy is over weight it's not ok for the woman to be. It's definitely a whole patriarchal thing that I'm not down with. But for this movie to work he had to be a "regular," stoner guy, and I thought he was. Calling him "fat" was I thought way over the top. He has a little extra weight on him, true, but it seemed to me describing him as "fat" did more to reinforce the Hollywood stereotype than him managing to pull a good looking woman when she was drunk.

Two criticisms I did find myself agreeing with were; 1. not one person said the word "abortion" in the whole movie, and 2. the vulva shot for the baby crowning scene was hairless. On issue one, abortion WAS talked about, but for some reason no one could say the word. The idea that guys sitting around with their other guy friends would have to say "it rhymes with shamortion" I found absurd. That the mother would only say "get it taken care of" I found far more believable and real. Even then I wish Apatow would have taken a stand more, but I think he was trying to reflect real life more than influence it and in that case I think he was pretty accurate. It's more a reflection on our society that it's still looked down upon to have an abortion than anything else. Additionally it would have been hard for him to take a big stand on that issue with this movie remaining a comedy I think.

On the shaved vulva issue. That scene is ACTUALLY a baby crowning. Some woman gave them permission to shoot her giving birth. Before I can really have an opinion on her hairlessness I wish I knew whether that was Apatow's choice or whether the woman did it, or whether it was done at the hospital. In discussion at Feministing some people mentioned that at some hospitals they do in fact shave you (as they do for surgery) to make things easier. I have never had a baby so I don't know the truth in that, in theory it might make sense. But, I do know from the pictures my mother unfortunately showed me, she was definitely not shaved when she had me. IF the shaving was a creative choice on Apatow's part, I dislike it. Why does the woman have to be infantilized? Why is womanly hair against the Hollywood ascetic even in a scene such as that? Especially considering how realistic he was elsewhere in the movie! However, I have no way to know whether that was his choice or not, so I choose not to get too worked up about it.

Overall, very well done. And I think I have a little bit of a crush on Seth Rogen now.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Ours Are Prettier Than Yours!

I can't bring myself to put the picture up and have to look at it for the rest of the month... So just follow the link: Republican girlz R hawt! Urz R not!

All I can really say, is wtf?

What do people's looks have to do with anything? I mean really. :( Things like this honestly just make me sick.

Friday, October 19, 2007


One of many such talks I've had :P I recently tried to break down the issue of abortion and a way to illustrate it as simply as possible, as well as why it's unfair for men to have a say in that decision despite that they then have to pay child support. Here's what I came up with.

Abortion = the woman's right to sovereignty over her own body. Legally, the woman has to be able to control what happens to her own bodily self. There's absolutely no way to make that "equal" between men and women. Because a pregnancy does not, and can not impose itself on the sovereignty of the male body.

Child support = support for a living, breathing child. Legally, that child needs to be cared for. And should the man want to take care of that child physically, women have to pay child support as well, so insofar as child support goes the laws are equal. So, what's best for this child is the bottom line here.

To put it in even more simple terms:

I'll break down the situation into mathematics for each step of this process.

Woman: Has sex +1, Carries Pregnancy +1, Cares for child after it's born +1
Man: Has sex +1, Cares for child after it's born +1

Guys who argue men should have a say in that middle step, or should be able to opt out of child support, seem to be arguing it by this logic:

Woman: Has sex +1, Carries pregnancy +1
Man: Has sex +1, Pays for child after it's born +1

And want to make the situation look like this:

Woman: Has sex +1, Carries pregnancy +1, Cares for child +1
Man: Has sex +1

The numbers speak for themselves why that kind of set up is unfair. They both have sex, they both have to care for the child after it's born. Their responsibilities in both these situations are equal, because they each play a part. But there's nothing in the guy's experience of this process that equals that middle step, so why should they have any say at all?

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Religious Diversity

From "The Wild Hunt" blog
Religious diversity is basic human impulse, and attempts to get everyone worshiping the same God (in the same manner) are ultimately doomed to failure as the needs and wants of individuals, groups, and societies stray from entrenched dogma and doctrine.

I cannot begin to say how strongly I agree with this perspective.

In fact, diversity in general is important to me. In religion, in society, in nutrition...diversity is important. Diversity is healthy.

Each of us are individuals, and as such we have our own perspective on the world. We each see life through our own eyes, and for a variety of reasons, no two people will ever see even the same life the same way.

So how can the monotheists expect us all to not only accept the same god, but to believe in that god the same way they do? Isn't that more than a little unrealistic?

And yet they try so hard... They talk, they proselytize, they preach, some of them even kill... All in the name of, what? Sameness? When did sameness ever truly help us? It reminds me of The Giver. Did you ever read this book as a kid? In the name of sameness, no one can even see in color, twins must suffer the weaker one being "euthanised," and sex is forbidden (except for a few "breeders" who are looked down upon by the rest). I loved it, but few books have depressed me more.

Is that what they want for the world? Sameness?

I think that is why I raged against Christianity so when I first left it behind as a faith. "Put me in a box?? FUCK YOU!" I don't want sameness. I don't believe in it. I believe in the glories of the diverse. Even when I can't stand the way another person thinks, I thank the gods that we each have our own minds to think differently. I thank the gods that should my kind (radicals, feminists, pagans...) ever come to be the majority, there will always be a balance to us.

I wonder if this is what the Farrars mean when they talked about polarity. That only through the give and take of polar opposites does life work, does creativity happen, does society evolve. I think that is part of it. I certainly think that's true.

I suppose my only hope is that society at large will come to respect that more... If there's one thing I think we can all believe, it's that there is strength, power, through diversity. That perhaps we can celebrate it, even in our differences with each other.

I hope.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Lead in Lipstick?

I've seen this pop up a few places lately. Not being a lipstick wearer I didn't pay it much heed, and it didn't reek of internet hoax so I hadn't looked it up.

But, it's a fake y'all.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Rape in its' Myriad Forms

There is a lot of discussion right now going on around rape, prosecution of rape, and the term "gray rape" which Feministing labels a bullshit term.

I agree it is a bullshit term if it's used in any way to describe the action of rape, or what rape is.

However, as you will see from some of these posts, gray rape as a term has some importance when it comes to describing how people who are raped react to that rape, how they feel about it, and how they define it.

With that in mind, read on.

Un-Cool: The Grey Area
Fact is, it is so easy to say that if you don't want it, it's rape. Pure and simple. But what about what is feels like? Did it feel like rape or not? This is where the whole process starts, so it's important to engage with that.

Confessions of a College Callgirl: The Number is 8
I have been sexually assaulted more than once. Each time that it happened to me, I felt that extenuating circumstances kept it from truly being rape. I was working as a prostitute, he was my boyfriend, I was drunk, I got in the car. I never believed that I had fought hard enough. I made excuses for the men who hurt me; I told myself "he didn't know what he was doing." When I spoke about my experiences with sexual assault (which I did very rarely), I would say only that “a lot of bad things have happened to me.”

The Naked Truth: Not Asking For It
We are told that rape isn't sex, it's violence. So when rape occurs in a situation where sex is customary, or implied, or possible, rather than in a dark alley with a knife held to our neck by a stranger in a raincoat, we question whether it really was rape. We want to give the benefit of the doubt, because we don’t want to think that someone we know is capable of rape, and we don’t want to admit that we put ourselves in a position where we were able to be taken advantage of. If nothing else, it challenges our perception of ourselves as independent beings, able to take care of ourselves, and to live without fear.

No, Or Maybe Yes
These men were not “rapists”, of course. They backed off after a bit of scratching and kicking and yelling – they had no plans to actually harm me. They just thought they wouldn’t mind fucking me if I could be scared into shutting up and lying still.

Feministe: On Rape and Power
And that’s the problem — rape, as most people understand it, is an act of extreme violence perpetuated by a stranger. Even the term “date rape” paints a picture of a woman attacked by a male friend. Women themselves have difficulty identifying their own experiences as rape...But the definition of rape itself is a sticky one — not because the concept is actually difficult, but because of all of our assumptions and prejudices when it comes to sex, courtship and gender relations. If your idea of sex is something that women have and men want, and your idea of courtship is men trying to somehow “get” the sex that women are so selfishly withholding, then situations like this — where women voluntarily go out with men who later rape them — are just part of the deal.

There are more but these are the ones I have been reading.

And the guys being talked about in the last two quotes have got to come to understand that they are fucking rapists!

To complicate the matter further, there is the role of communication between regular sexual partners and the issue of rape as a fantasy. A common fantasy for many women. What place does this aspect of our sexuality have in the rape discussion? Or is that a different topic for a different day?

No, Or Maybe Yes
I say no, and I expect the person hearing it to work out if it's a No, don't even think about it, or a No, but let's talk about it, or No, not now, maybe some other time, or a No, OK, go on, try it, and we’ll see. I sometimes have a tendency to scream No! Just before I orgasm - I do rather rely, in that case, on the other person NOT saying: “Oh, OK, honey, I’ll stop doing that now”.

Dominatrix Next Door: Not Ready To Tell My Number
I could not believe how helpless they seemed in thrall to their desires. Teasing terrified me. I felt as if I were playing with fire, that tease (which they were paying me for) was tantamount to consent to sex. Bound they couldn’t touch me, and they couldn’t force me, and I could provoke them as much as I wanted. Bondage was freeing — on them, for me.

How horribly, ironically ass-backwards that I felt empowered about not being raped.

Eileen: When "No" is Not a Safeword
This distinction needs to be made. Not just in BDSM; everywhere, to everyone. Teach a child that having a fantasy does not mean they’ve consented to the reality, and maybe that child will grow up able to recognize rape...

Why don’t we teach all children and adults what safewords mean? We ignore the issue of consent, assuming that our children will grow up knowing their own rights and the rights of others. We assume that “no” is a safeword, when almost any kinky person will tell you that you cannot assume your safewords.

Feminist Review: Time Out New York; Sex Issue
Let me just first say that rape is not sexy.

How do I feel about all this? It's such an important issue and yet... I feel almost worthless weighing in. I've never been put in this position. I've never been raped, molested, or even harassed more though a cat call here and there. I don't think I have the right to pass judgment on other people's experiences... But here's the thing... Read Jezebel's account of the Jeffrey J. Marsalis case. I go back and forth, all of these posts I've highlighted are incredibly well thought out and each add something to the conversation, especially where they disagree with each other. I also understand that "gray rape" might really be the appropriate term for people's reactions to their own experiences. And that the concept of "gray rape" being in existence might help them explain their feelings on those experiences.

But what about people outside this generally supportive circle of feminists and sex positive people?

What about those people who don't have any conception of what it means to blame the victim?

What about those potential rapists in the population (and the lawyers who will defend them)?

Are we setting a dangerous precedent by accepting there is any gray area?

Men's Rights Activists

This is a difficult and rather controversial topic, but I thought it was worth weighing in on, especially as it is something I have run into a lot in discussions.

First of all, I have some basic beliefs around the issue of men's rights and masculism. They may appear contradictory, but really, they are just in a delicate and polarized balance.

1) I agree with Robin Morgan on this: "The oppressors are indeed FUCKED UP by being masters (racism hurts whites, sexual stereotypes are harmful to men) but those masters are not OPPRESSED. Any master has the alternative of divesting himself of sexism or racism — the oppressed have no alternative — for they have no power — but to fight. In the long run, Women's Liberation will of course free men — but in the short run it's going to COST men a lot of privilege, which no one gives up willingly or easily." A great example here is the age old belief that in certain situations women are "asking for it." But that women even CAN BE "asking for it" is saying a lot about our attitudes towards men. That apparently they are so fueled by a desire for sex that they will ignore when a woman says "no" and that there is an excuse for that because they are men. So men are just brainless humping raping animals, and we can't hold him to a higher standard than your average African lion pinning down the lioness who's in heat.

2) I do not think the women's movement has achieved total equality for women yet.

3) I do think that some of the issues MRA's bring up need to be addressed, e.g. paternal rights, unfair domestic abuse policies, and rape. Men are raped too. Men are abused by their mates too. Men deserve access to their children just as women do.

4) I do think the stereotyping I see of men and women in movies, on tv, and in our culture at large hurt both men and women. Again, refer to the "asking for it" example, stereotypes like that abound.

5) I do not think it is feminism's job to address any of these issues. As Morgan says, I think eventually, if feminism achieves it's aims it will free men as well, but doing so should not be our focus. Feminism's focus should be on freeing women. But I do not see why feminism could not support a thoughtful men's movement, that is assuming that any such thoughtful men's movement would agree with feminism's aims.

OK, those background perspective things out of the way... I was reading Shakespeares Sister explaining what an MRA is. Clearly this explanation is targeting a certain kind of MRA. And unfortunately, the vast majority of MRAs I have run into do in fact fall into this misogynistic-ultra-right-wing-super-conservative-douchebag category (Promise Keepers anyone?). However, there is such a thing as a pro-feminist men's movement as well (also check out: NOMAS and MRC).

So, does lumping them together help anything? I don't think it does. If anything, it shows the same flippant disregard for some important issues that early feminists were subjected to, and I don't like that sort of superiority at all.

By all means, ridicule the misogynistic-ultra-right-wing-super-conservative-douchebags. I don't have time for men who hide rape apologies and veiled misogyny behind paternal rights. But if we really expect for men to understand our rage at personal circumstances, and our feminist issues, I think we should try and pay the same courtesy to them. At the very least, careful listening will help us pick out the douchebags more quickly.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Extremists and Polarity

Extremists. Radicals.

They exist in every medium as we all know. And they are generally looked down upon, even reviled (and sometimes for good reason).

But, extremists are my favorites to read. They show you with absolute clarity the outcome of whatever area, whatever concept, they represent taken as far as it can go. They are the ones who are constantly pushing the boundaries.

Thought isn't stimulated by moderates. What's truly thought provoking about a moderates opinion? They are the ones who look at the extremists and then integrate it back in with the conventional we're all familiar with. They tone the ideas down to something that can be consumed. And oppression can hide so easily behind a "moderate" viewpoint. But how quickly do we grow complacent with nothing but moderates about?

The worth in an extremists opinion is letting yourself see something in a new way, letting yourself think about something differently than before. It's not to necessarily come around to their ideas, or rather, their interpretation of their ideas. Not at all even. But to expand your mind, and not reach your own opinions and conclusions solely from a stagnant pond of convention and tradition.

They are the shit disturbers, who stir things up in those stagnant ponds.

In a complementary vein is the idea of polarity. Inspiration arises through polarity.... Polarity is a concept I've been reading about in "A Witches Bible" recently... It's a concept I'm really going to have to expand on at a later date because I haven't fully assimilated the various implications of it.

But it is something I think I'm familiar with... I firmly believe the only reason the Suffragist movement was successful when it was, was because of the polarity between Carrie Chapman Catt and Alice Paul. Without these two going about the same task in utterly different ways, I don't think it would have worked.

We see these extremists and their polarities... And we bemoan the strife, the challenges that arise in trying to reconcile to a usable middle. But perhaps it's through the strife and the challenges that a worthwhile, lasting, middle is reached.

Read more on the importance of polarity, strength through diversity.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

On "asking permission" for marriage

Posted by Ann today at Feministing:

I am so sick of reading newspaper style section "trend" articles about how the gender and social norms of the 1950s are "making a comeback." So I hereby inaugurate Retro Trend Watch. In today's installment... Asking Permission. (And sadly, I'm talking about for marriage, not sex . In the bedroom, I'm all about asking permission.)

Supposedly more men are asking daddy if it's ok to marry his daughter.

The kick-ass historian Beth Bailey puts this in some context:

‘‘It was a fairly common practice based on the notion of making alliances between families and passing the daughter who was legally the property of the father onto the husband,’’ says Temple University historian Beth Bailey. ‘‘What we’re seeing right now is an odd combination of young people with progressive sentiments and a real desire for conventional gender roles and arrangements’’

At a wedding this summer, I had to stop myself from making retching noises when the bride's father devoted a significant portion of his reception speech to how he knew his son-in-law was "worthy" of his daughter because he asked for permission before proposing. And this was a couple who lived together before getting married -- not exactly a picture of conservatism.

I know I don't need to explain to you, dear Feministing readers, why asking dad for permission to assume ownership of his property marry his daughter is a pretty f'ed up practice. But if you feel like being extra grossed-out, check out this step-by-step "How to Ask Your Girlfriend's Father for Her Hand in Marriage." Yiiikes.

So, usually, I'm with Feministing opinions on things, but there are moments where we differ. This is one of those moments. In the comments I quoted an earlier respondent and then went on to comment:
"This happened recently with a very progressive couple I know - they had a hippy wedding in the woods and really aren't conformist, yet everyone involved seemed to think it was so charming that he'd asked her dad for permission."

That's so funny, because that could be me and my family. I've been married for one whole month, and I originally wanted my now husband to "ask my dad for permission" to marry me. I think it's cute.

Cute because it's so totally unnecessary, especially in our area of the country, and ESPECIALLY in MY family.

So for me, for us, it would have simply been him going an extra mile to have a "man to man" discussion with my dad about why he wanted to marry me. Being a daddy's girl, I appreciated that sentiment.

My dad was actually the one taken aback, and when I told him eventually Travis might "ask him" his response of "O.O WHY?!" put me off of the whole thing, and so it didn't happen.

This from the same girl though, who didn't have her father walk her down the aisle, because fuck that if he was going to give me away.

My point is that it all depends on context. There can be totally sexist reasons for traditions, but if you grow up in an environment where those ARE NOT the prevailing notions, sometimes you find other (and non sexist) reasons to like those old traditions.

I really can't stress how important I think that is. Growing up in an empowering environment can cause you to totally re-frame things that in another time, or another place, could be totally sexist or harmful. I'm with women who don't like the tradition, for many women other than myself, it still is indicative of their "place" in their family and in marriage, and that's not a good thing. But it's not like that for all of us.

I think also that Americans have a real need for tradition sometimes. We don't have quite the solidified culture some, hell most, other countries do, and so I think we can cling to what we have sometimes. Which might explain why other Progressives like me, who might very well be throwing most of the traditional conventions of marriage out the window, might be re-framing some of those traditions in an effort to keep them.

Monday, October 08, 2007

The Intersection For Some of Religion and Sex

I was reading a new and interesting blog from a Phone Sex Operator. The entry that caught my eye was entitled The Sex Crazed Pagan Fantasy. It was incredibly interesting, so I continued on to see what other posts she'd made about the interactions with her work and her religion. This led me to the two posts I want to comment on. Sacred Pussy, Controlled Womb and Monotone Man. Both of these posts deal with a caller who has very strong, negative reactions to different aspects of her religion and/or sexuality which I have run into in conversation with strong Christians myself.

My musings on the topic led me to writing this response to her:
To be honest, I think Monotone Man and the guy who berated you for being pro-choice have the same hang up. They’re incredibly attracted to you because you “sin” and you’re ok with it. Not just ok with it, but thrive on it, are comfortable with it, get true guiltless enjoyment out of it.

I think you represent freedom to them.

On some level though, at some point, they have to fight back against that, for, well, so many reasons. Hence the one guy’s abortion tirade. Hence this one abruptly changing the subject.

Just a theory, but something I’ve noticed myself. It seems like the guys who for some reason feel there is to be guilt involved in anything besides a very narrow view of sexuality are the most drawn to and turned on by those of us who don’t feel that guilt at all.

It’s sort of romantic. But sad, to me.

I have found myself playing this part myself at times. There's something incredibly fun about flirting with a "good man" and his "sin." But in those instances for me, it has left me feeling so sad for them, that they will only know the freedom I have through me, and only for a fleeting moment.

That, and some disgust, because inevitably some of them then will talk horribly of you, or look down at you with disgust if you do lead them to actually "sin." And what's worse is that this latter one is not always a religious type. So they are not so easy to spot.

Ahhh the complexities of human sexuality...


To be perfectly honest I'm quite torn about Dove.

On the one hand, I do love their campaigns, and I can't even begin to express how awesome it was seeing regularly sized women, regularly aged women, on tv for once.

That said, of course they are still a huge corporation, and have other brands which are terrible (Axe anyone?). And I'm of the personal belief that corporations like these are almost intrinsically evil...

And on another hand, my doctor always told me that for my sensitive skin, Dove really does just make the best products, especially their soap.

On the flip side of that, they still are promoting "anti-aging" anti-cellulite bullshit...

It seems like a double edged sword to me... Do we as feminists risk running these ads into the ground by criticizing them, and missing an opportunity for more real woman representation in advertising? Or do we endorse them and allow them to go uncriticized for the other aspects of their campaigns that aren't real woman friendly?

AND if we go the second route, what kind of line do we draw? Personally, I would like to age gracefully. We all know those women in our lives who have aged so, and I'd like to be one of them (of course, we all do, and Dove knows this, and uses that). I don't think there's anything particularly wrong with taking care of our bodies so we do (cleansing, moisturizing, eating well)... But how far do we push that until we're suddenly changing our bodies to prevent aging at all (nip/tucks, crash diets, collagen injections...)?

Bah... there's a lot going on here :P

Saturday, October 06, 2007

"the patriarchy"

You know, I really don't mind people who disagree with me... Well, usually.

But the thing that drives me absolutely fucking nuts are people who don't even understand the concept, and disagree with me.

Guyperson: "After all, I'm supposed to be part of some evil conspiracy to keep women/minorities/homosexuals/small fluffy animals down."

Does he not understand the definition of a conspiracy? Or does he really think this is what patriarchy is?

From how many times he's used this type of example, I'm guessing it's the latter. Which only shows anyone who knows anything about the topic, that he doesn't know what the fuck he's talking about. "Conspiracy"? Conspiracy means they sit around in a back room and collaborate. While patriarchy -can be- systematic, no one thinks that men sit around in a back room some where and conspire against women/minorities/homosexuals/small fluffy animals.

Patriarchy isn't a fucking conspiracy, it's a social norm. It's social conditioning. It's a "this is how things are" that boys learn, who grow up to be men, who enforce then that standard. BECAUSE THEY THINK THAT'S THE WAY THINGS WORK. It's a way of thinking about men and women, our "place" in society. It's a world view, it's a way of BEING!

When we talk about the patriarchy "keeping us down" or engaging in "systematic racism/sexism/genderism/homophobia" we don't mean that you purposefully sat down and created a system to do this! It means THE SYSTEM DOES DO IT as it's currently constructed!

Is this really that hard to understand??

And the reason we TALK about it, is because we believe that through awareness of this, a good many of you will WAKE THE FUCK UP and STOP PARTICIPATING in that system.

The nice thing about that? It means most of us don't think most of you are in fact complete fucking assholes, and that you don't actually mean to keep women/minorities/homosexuals/small fluffy animals down.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Spuffy pt. 2

OK, I know I've already blogged about this just a bit when I first watched the series. However, something has lingered about that attempted rape (in, is it the 6th or 7th season?). I rationalized it and tucked it away but something still pestered me.

Well, I was watching episodes today from the sixth season. Where Spike and Buffy's relationship starts to change a bit, where she has, whatever revelation it is she has, and makes a place for him in her life. I noticed, among other things, one line in particular where he tells her that her friends aren't really there for her, that he's all she's got. That's what an abuser tells his wife, to keep her around, to beat her down and make her believe she needs him despite what he does to her.

I noticed that, and I noticed his forceful seductions of her. And, to be fair, hers of him. (S&M anyone?) And I realized, with the addition of the attempted rape, did Whedon know the commentary he (well, his writers) was making, on Hollywood itself?

One of the things I've seen discussed at Feministing when rape issues come up, is the blurry line of seduction. The problem with seduction, is that you can never know, absolutely for certain, that the other person wants what you're doing. In Hollywood, in movies and tv, we as the audience have the benefit of knowing the desires and intentions of both parties, and so we excuse things as commonplace that we would rarely (or never) accept from our lovers irl. Things as simple as the scene in Spiderman 3 where Parker is walking by MJ's apartment, and she is looking out the window (we are to assume thinking of him) and she turns away right as he looks up and they each fail to realize the other is thinking of them. But if you looked outside your house and your recent ex was standing there staring at your window... Would it be sweet like that scene is? No. That's stalkerific.

If a guy you'd repeatedly refused was constantly lurking in the dark behind a tree every time you leave the house. Would that be annoyingly sweet, as I think it is every time Spike pops up following Buffy? No, that would be cause for a restraining order.

The same is true for seduction. Which is also used commonly in Hollywood, and used extensively between Spike and Buffy. The great thing about seduction, in a book, or on the screen, is we the audience knows both parties want it. Hell, WE want it from HIM. Oh yah baby, rip my clothes off!

But in real life? Seduction can easily be coerced rape. Because YOU NEVER REALLY KNOW IF THEY WANT IT. You aren't an omniscient audience, seeing the scene unfold and knowing that when Buffy says "no" she really does mean "yes." Irl, that is just rape. And as hot as it is to watch, the fact remains, some people are going to get the message that sometimes when a girl says "no" they really mean "yes." And in an environment, in a relationship, where you can't believe the person when they say no, how are you to know they really mean it this time?

Whether intentional or not, I think this is what Whedon leaves us with. In that episode, and with that scene, he removed the Hollywood in their relationship. That was real life. He showed the other side of the coin of the seduction scene we see so often, and had seen so often, one of many Hollywood myths.

Now, given the nature of Spike and Buffy's relationship... I still forgive Spike in the end. They needed a safe word, among other things, and I suppose you just can't discount the fact that a vampire's nature is that of a predator. Not immoral, really, but amoral, certainly.

But if you translate a lot of that relationship to real life, he does represent a lot of the things I hate. And for some reason watching through it this time it was harder for me to ignore that, to not notice all the themes running through their interactions.

A rare instance where I will subscribe to the notion that "ignorance is bliss" because to be honest, I loved my seduction fantasy, and would love Spike (or James) to enact it for me. But I can't totally divorce myself from the knowledge that irl, you don't get a Spike, or, maybe you do, but he's only the evil part, and has none of the redeeming qualities.

I hope after articulating this my watching can go back to suspending reality and buying into the universe presented me, where I have the comfort of being that audience again.

Spuffy pt. 1

So for the past couple weeks I have been watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer from start to finish. I'd caught episodes here and there when it went syndicated but never really got into it, I remember a good friend of mine being really obsessed with Angel, but I never found him terribly attractive so it wasn't much of a motivator to watch :P

So anyway, I finished it last night. Overall, it really was a good series. Natureally the last season was a bit weak, but they always are, it's why they're the last. It made me like Seth Green even more than I did before, I wish he hadn't decided to pursue other areas so quickly, his character was a real asset to the group. I'm also glad I'm not the only one who fell in love with Spike and thus he was able to stay on the show (originally he was going to just be killed off like other villians). Also, James Marsters (who's on Smallville now) really is quite the actor, there's always a few of those on TV, and he's definitely one of them, Spike originally was a pretty straight forward character, but they went all over the place with him later on and James didn't miss a beat. Almost makes me want to watch Angel and Smallville just to see his further work.

Naturally, I didn't agree with everything they did with this series. The Spike-Buffy relationship was drawn out in season six for no good reason, and I truly don't think Buffy ever came to terms with how she felt about Spike, or at least, it wasn't resolved enough for him to believe her. That, I found quite frustrating, and hypocritical in her character (and there's nothing I hate more than writers making a character a hypocrit to fit a storyline). She could have loved him, and she should have, after everything that happened between them.

The X-Files ending was more satisfying in that respect, they gave us what we knew should come for Mulder and Scully. Buffy didn't quite do that, I mean, yah, she said she loved him, but he didn't believe her and she didn't drive it home that "no, really, I do" which would have been ok, or made him run upstairs with her and not die (or apparently let his soul get stuck in this amulet thingie he was wearing according to the Angel plotlines). Also that she couldn't love him before he had his "soul" I found rather suspect. She knew all about his past, this demony thing he called up in his bad days even commented on how much affection there was between Spike and Druscilla, and how normally he would kill both of them for having such "humanity" about them. And the stuff he sang to her in the musical episode should have proved it beyond a doubt. (btw, musical episode, totally awesome, probably my favorite one, too bad Seth Green's character missed it) Vampires are capable of love, and as Anne Rice was obviously a huge influence on Whedon's construction of vampires (Spike was very very Lestatish and Angel very Louisish and plus she is sort of the authority), I am going to go with her universe on this one. Of course it will be an obsessive and over the top sort of love, but they can feel it.

Anyways, certainly his soul gave him a better understanding of the humans around him and such, but it shouldn't have been necessary for her to care for him in the first place, and when he went and got it, that should have been enough for her. But apparently it wasn't. After having us on hold for two and a half seasons about them I thought that was rather lame. Also randomly killing off him and Anya and not any of the others was rather lame. Either a bunch of them should have died, or none, half assed things like that annoy me.

So yah, on concluding the series these are my thoughts :P Now, where's my bleach blonde badass vampire to love? :P

From the comments to the original post:

tel_jagin wrote:
Oct. 12th, 2006 08:39 am (local)
Buffy never loved Spike. She was just using him to fill void in her life. Buffy develops an affection for Spike by the end, but never love. Never what she felt for Angel. Spike comes to understand that once he gains his soul and a with it a basic understanding of what love is.
jadeserenity wrote:
Oct. 12th, 2006 08:43 am (local)
Which is what I'm bitching about :P

I could add on a rant about I don't see what's so fucking special about Angel too :P

tel_jagin wrote:
Oct. 12th, 2006 08:58 am (local)
Angel is special because his love for Buffy is more selfless and real than Spike's. Spike is in love with Buffy, in a passionate sense. But Angel's love transcends that. Angel loves her enough to realize that he is a destructive influence in her life and that he needs to let her go.

If you ever get the chance you should watch the Angel episode "I Will Remember You". It's a beautiful expression of Angel's true selfless love for Buffy.
jadeserenity wrote:
Oct. 12th, 2006 03:31 pm (local)
Oh yah, he loves her. He loves her so much that he goes into a obsessive psychotic rampage as soon as his curse is lifted, which is lifted, when he has sex with her, how transcendent :P

Versus Spike, who comes to love her even BEFORE he has a soul, and whether it's rooted in attraction and passion, well, most love is, imho, and obviously Angel's is as well since, again, SEX was his one moment of "true happiness." I would also note here that the "best night of his life" for Spike was the nights they spent cuddling, not all the times they had sex.

For all the above reasons I find Angel's love very very suspect. For all we know, the curse on him, which gives him a soul, didn't even give him HIS old soul, but just a conscience in general, and even when he was human he wouldn't have cared for Buffy. I also find it rather telling that what Angellus says he hates about Buffy was that she made him feel human, and this is what pre-soul Spike sings to her that she also makes him feel and that he loves her for it. Angel's love is just all to artificial feeling for me, and he's a brooding, whiny, shallow man to boot, so, I just can't stand him in general.

Course it also goes into some of the things I don't like about Buffy. I mean, I'm sorry, but after the whole Angellus thing, I would have gotten over that kid. He's not her one true love, he's her FIRST love, and while I understand perfectly well what those mean to a person, gimme a break, it doesn't stay with you through two other serious and complicated relationships, that's just pathetic on her part.
tel_jagin wrote:
Oct. 12th, 2006 08:52 pm (local)
If you watch Angel, you will find out that sex alone does not provide the true happiness needed to lift the curse. And we find out that human Angel would have loved Buffy the same.

In my mind, it's Angelus/Angel dichotomy that makes Angel's love for Buffy so pure. Angel realizes that his true nature is a danger to Buffy. Angel's humanity gives him the strength of will to transcend his true nature and the selflessness to truly prove he loved Buffy by letting her go.

Spike, on the other hand, is a much more selfish and morally ambiguous character. He is more focused on his own feelings and less on what is in Buffy's best interests. All of his apparent efforts at redemption are ultimately selfishly motivated and aimed at winning Buffy's favor. But he did not possess the level of self-awareness to realize that his relationship with Buffy was destroying her and any future relationship would do the same.

Spike feels romantic love toward Buffy, but he doesn't feel real love toward her (affection and concern). He feels Eros, but not Agapē. Only at the very end of season seven does Spike feel any rational love for Buffy that is not totally based upon self-interest.
jadeserenity wrote:
Oct. 12th, 2006 09:42 pm (local)
You call it Angel's humanity, I call it the curse, and there is no proof there is anything genuine in it at all. I haven't watched Angel because I find nothing interesting or very redeeming in Angel's character, so while I admit I might not have the whole scoop on him, my entire point comes from what we learn about him on Buffy :P

If Spike went and got his own soul back through trials, I would think the older and wiser Angel could have done the same, thus nullifying the whole issue of the curse. When he found out Spike HAD done this, he could have done the same, at the very least, if Buffy is such his true love.

All people are selfish. Buffy, Spike, Angel, all of them act selfishly throughout all the seasons. If Buffy wasn't so wrapped up in herself she could easily have been happy with Spike. Probably not forever, and perhaps not in some overblown romantic brooding way that she seems to like, but still. She even shows us this in the invisible ray episode, where she is imo the happiest we see her the entire series, because she can have what she wants with no consequences. What she continually fails to realize is that despite being destined for certain things, most of her life and happiness is in her own hands, and she could have whatever she wants.

Saying he doesn't have her best interests at her a man she deserves, a man with a soul, to say that is purely self serving is like the old arguement about altruism, is it truly altruistic if you get pleasure out of it? I never subscribed to that theory. Just because if she does fall in love with him he is getting happiness too doesn't change the fact that he is trying to be a man he feels is worthy of her love. That is commendable, no matter if he stands to gain from it too or not.

I agree that he feels more affection and less lust at the end of the series. But to me, his love only deepens, it doesn't become love later. To relate it simply as eros versus agape is over simplifying what love is and how it functions in people's lives.

In the end, you said it yourself, Angel's TRUE NATURE is a danger to Buffy, and wants to drive her mad and then kill her. That's his true nature. Spike's true nature is still vampiric, but even in this state, in his vampirey way, he loves Buffy, he is willing to die or kill for her, he sobs like a baby when she dies, he is willing to die not only to protect her but her sister as well, and he loves her for helping him feel/remember his humanity. That's his true nature. I would rather have -that- for myself.

My purpose here

I've been contemplating having a little blog all my own for a while.

I have a livejournal, but that's more my personal place to bitch and contemplate with my friends...

I probably won't post here a ton, but it's where I want to gather my more intelligent contemplations about mostly serious topics. So, this will be a blog dedicated to discussing issues I care about, most often revolving around current events and feminism, but also diving into issues of religion, paganism, feminist spirituality, married life and polyamory.

I think I'll start by reposting some of my favorite posts from my lj.