Caught in the minor details

September 16, 2008

The F Word has a great blog post today about something that has been on my mind regarding the ole feminism. When you join the feminist club part of the membership package includes a high powered snark cannon with a lasersight that reveals potential sexism everywhere. It’s easy to fire it off at every little thing you see but you might as well be shooting gnomes in your garden for all the good it will do. Yes, you’ll have significantly improved your own garden but what have you actually achieved for the greater good?

I don’t actually know the answer to that. I do feel better for not sweating the small stuff and stressing over things that aren’t important to me. For example, I don’t wear makeup because I’m lazy and it annoys me, not because I’m making some sort of feminist stand. But feminism defends my right not/to wear makeup if I want to, and supports my right to autonomy in all things. Now that I’ve shot that gnome I don’t need to think about it or debate it any more; it’s just not that relevant.

Huzzah! Exciting new layout

August 12, 2008

Although classy I was finding the old layout a little hard to navigate. The type was also too small. And I wanted tabs at the top, which I have now used to start noting down my list of books that I want to read that usually rattles around in my head. Undoubtedly this will grow, suggestions are welcome. I think I’m labouring under the falsehood that eventually I will be able to read ALL the books. All the books ever.

I think I have a stone uterus: I can feel a whole lot of squeezing but not a lot of blood is coming out. A good metaphor for my own stubborness but uncomfortable when stuck on a crappy office chair.

I apologise if that was a little graphic for anyone but it says on the back of my feminist membership card that I can and am actively encouraged to blog about mentruation. So there it is. I’m not sure what the rest of the card says; I’ve had it in my back pocket for a while and some of the words have rubbed off. I did pull it out yesterday though, after soon-to-be-ex Housefolk made some joke about not needing women’s sports to which I replied “We do need them, or else we wouldn’t have any Olympic medals.” Take that, foolish fool!

The conversation took place after Team GB had won gold for street cycling and gold and bronze in swimming. I’m not in to sports myself but hope that these medals go some way to strengthening the legitimacy of female participation.

What’s going on in my world today?

May 30, 2008

Link, and rant, link and rant and rant *the itchy and scratchy shoooow*

First the sad news:

The American army’s use of phosphorous in the Iraq war has caused a sudden surge in the number of birth defects – nice one guys. I’m not going to go into whether or not the war was needed, justifiable, a failure or any of the rest of it because it’s too late, it’s done now and you can’t undo it. Sadly these people, random civilians presumably not involved in the conflict, are now suffering as the result of a poorly researched technology. Anyone going to take responsibility for this? I can believe it was a mistake as they probably checked to make sure short term exposure to adults (ie their soldiers) wouldn’t cause harm and that they probably wouldn’t have researched the affects on long term exposure and developing foetuses. But they still did it so they should make some form of apology.

The thing that bothers me about this is that the BBC is not reporting it. I have searched their website and there is no sign of this. Would it be some form of politcal dissent? The more I look outside the BBC the more I see its limitations and biases. Also if you ever want to feel angry you can read their Have Your Say pages which are full of fascists complaining about too much liberalism (where?) ruining the world.

No wait – if you really want to feel angry you should read the Daily (hate) Mail. I don’t know why I go there so often, it surely must be bad for my health. I used to avidly read Liz Jones’ column about her life believing it was satire – that is how terrifying, exaggerated and pathetic the woman’s life is. All she has taught me is that if you think seperating your eyelashes with a pin will impress men then you don’t deserve respect.

What really angered me about the daily fail today was this article about ‘retrosexuals’ which forms part of their recent anti-feminist attack:

The article insists that men are better when they can’t dress, wash, cook, take care of their homes or property, pay for everything (with cash, like a drug dealer) but then leave at the first wiff of commitment (why not save the hassle and pay to use a trafficked hooker? At least she’s tied to the bed and can’t follow you to your decrepid hovel). There is also the assumption that all men like football and are homophobic. In my experience the more that a man tries to live up to these viciously restrictive ideals the more of a prick he is. So thanks Daily Male for reinforcing the negative behaviour of fucktards while claiming that feminists make RealMen(tm) into pussies.

… And then he Spielberged all over it.

May 23, 2008

I don’t know who or what abducted Steven Spielberg’s marbles about 10 years ago but they are long gone. The man has made good alien movies, but he needs to understand that you can’t just crowbar aliens into every plot you lay your hands on #ahemAI# and I imagine he and George Lucas were sipping cold drinks in a hot place one day when they had this exchange:

Spielberg: I can put aliens in Indiana Jones, right?

Lucas: It’s freakin’ Indiana Jones! You could do a ten minute naked dance and it’ll still smash the box office.

Spielberg: I’m not really comfortable with cameos George.

Lucas: Wait, you were serious?

And so there were aliens. But it was kind of a 50s thing, along with greasers, atomic bombs and commies. I would have been happier if the aliens hadn’t come to life though, but you can’t have everything. Aside from that it was an entertaining if nostalgic watch. Harrison Ford may be old but he’s still got it, it’s just a little slower now. He also gets extra credit for waxing his chest hair to save the rainforests.

In other news: one of the housefolks randomly shouted at me for being a man-hating feminist. Which was weird. And made him sound drunk, though I hadn’t thought he was particularly drunk before that. All it took was a mention of the F word and he snatched it up and ran with it. There wasn’t really a lot I could say as I could tell from the manic look in his eyes that he would have loved to have baited me into shouting and looking crazy. He wasn’t interested in talking about it, it just pleased him to say things about how feminists are resting on their laurels a bit at the moment but then it’s not like we can throw ourselves under cart-horses any more and we’ve had the vote for ages anyway. This is the second time he’s done this. I’m still not sure what his point is but it is getting on my nerves. He’s also tried to insist that I wear a smaller clothing size than I do, inadvertantly implying that my size is large.

And on a slight sidenote: I’m frequently blind with sleepiness after just waking up but I now think I am blinded by not giving a flying fuck about what I am supposed to be researching. I’m sure it must have been deliberated elsewhere but how exactly does a fuck fly? If anyone knows I’d be delighted if you would share it.

Bonus post

May 20, 2008

I can’t resist the urge to rant, and a tingling sensation in my kneecaps makes me think I may be busy tomorrow and not have time to post. In a way this carries on with the discussion of my beliefs.

So on with the rant. Debates are raging in parliament today about whether abortion limits need to be reduced. On one side are a bunch of creationist catholics, protestant moralists, and media outlets with the tagline  ‘we’re all going to hell in a handcart’ on the other side are some medical professionals and women who enjoy having autonomy saying ‘why are you having a spaz about this? it’s fine the way it is’

It is fine the way it is. Or rather the limit is. If it was easier to get an abortion, say if we had abortion on demand like most of Europe, even less people than the tiny minimal amount that do it now would need to get a late term abortion. I would say make it less of a stigma but people can think, say and believe whatever they want – I just wish they wouldn’t use their backward beliefs to interfere with the lives of others.

Why is it the most stupid people who get paid to write about their stupid thoughts and beliefs? I really shouldn’t read the Daily Mail website – it’s so full of venom, bile, and other toxic fluids. Sometimes I write comments to them telling them how poor the articles are, like when they googled ‘fat pets’ published the pictures and had a list of commentors saying how cruel it was to treat animals in this way. Today, after reading my ‘favourite’ journalist Liz Jones (who I used to believe was fictional satire, her life is that pathetic) I stumbled onto an article on how you can nag your way out of marriage.

Yup, a woman can nag her husband away. It’s not even that he will leave her because of the nagging, he will be too hen pecked, but she will gradually nag apart the marriage. Because that’s what women do: nag pointlessly without thinking. It’s not that they are annoyed or resentful toward their shit husbands and it happens to manifest as nagging. It’s not that he’s just a bit rubbish at doing his chores. It’s not even that they just aren’t compatible people. Nope: it’s the woman’s fault (for fulfilling a stereotype if that’s actually what happened).

And feminism destroyed the nuclear family. The nuclear family that has existed for about 150 years. Destroyed by women daring to leave husbands who for some reason weren’t good enough. Because a man would never leave his wife (just have her commited or lobotomised – shame we don’t do that anymore). And sometimes babies are made by accident. and sometimes people don’t want to be together. And sometimes people want someone of the same gender. And sometimes people want to be single (surely not #incredulous face#).

So why all the interference into other people’s lives?

If there was ever a reason to never get married it can be summarised from the above.

And going back to the abortion debate: funny how 4 of the top 5 comments on the BBC forum are by men. It really bugs me, because I want to have mixed gender debates, but it’s going to be a while before women can shout as loud and be taken as seriously. It frustrates me. I can talk to men who respect me about this but they don’t see my perspective on it, they don’t understand how I might feel in a male dominated debate. I can’t talk to men who don’t respect me because I can always tell that behind their eyes there’s a little part of them that isn’t listening. Whether they don’t respect me because I am a woman or because I am me or because of any of the other things I am or simply because of what I am saying at the time is open to debate.

Divided attention and personal beliefs

May 13, 2008

I now think people who find it hard to pay attention may be paying attention to too many things. I have neglected my blog for one day too many as I was focused on work. I have probably been neglecting BFF and to a lesser degree Partner as BMF has been in staying for the last few days. It has been an enjoyable weekend though, full of vegetarian fair and though provoking nattering.

One thing, that I was having a proto-thought of before, that I think may help me would be to consider and write down things I believe. I’m a very apologetic person and any time anyone even hints that they might be questioning one of my actions I immediately make the most dismissive excuse for it. For some reason I love to undermine myself – a destructive behaviour that I have no need for.

I believe:

– in trying to be an ethical shopper. I have started by getting a veg box and by buying fair trade. I have no idea whether fair trade actually helps but I feel it is important that shops know that I and the others who support the concept want to be ethical consumers. The organic veg I buy as much for my health as for my belief in supporting the local economy, with reduction in airfreighting coming third. Clothing I find to be a difficult issue. I like going to small shops that stock clothes made by self-employed designers but this is both rare and sometimes expensive. I have no qualms about using charity shops though if you’re looking for something particular they aren’t always ideal (charity bookshops on the contrary take all my money when I go near them). My problem at the moment is needing clothes smart enough for work, cheap enough for my budget, natural fabric enough for my comfort, and non-evil enough for my conscience.

– that western society is still based on deep-rooted prejudices against any minority group (including women as well as ethnic/religion/lgbt groups). I do not know what I should do about this. I recognise that it exists and when I am feeling brave I question what friends say if I feel it to be inappropriate, such as when one of the housefolks expressed a desire to put his penis in Gwyneth Paltrow’s mouth because it was the right shape I asked if that was because his penis was particularly wide and flat. This embarrassed him in a good-natured way (I hope) and made him think twice about what he says in the house (I hope). I understand that he works in a male-dominated profession and probably picks up bad habits from work but I also think it helps for someone to point out that being lewd isn’t always funny.

Also on this topic I went to a local feminist meeting, mostly to see if I could make some intelligent women friends. The meeting went two ways. On the one hand they all knew a lot more about the issues than me, were well up on the terminology and were sensitive to behaviours I might have disregarded. On the other hand they were very focused on the issues they were passionate about, whereas I am a more holistic person. At the time I went I was reading Tescopoly and had just read the section on the effect the corporation has on the lives of women in the third world. Before reading the book (but since leaving uni) I avoided the store as I thought it cheap, nasty, anti-competitive and anti-community. Now I vow to never go there again. But after the meeting one of the women I’d been talking to went right in without hesitation. I know I am judging her harshly, and having found her to be very friendly to me as a newcomer I am probably being unfair, but this is the clearest example I have to show the difference. Each member of the group had a passion – one of them worked in a refuge for survivors of domestic abuse, one of them was campaigning against strip-clubs as they increase the rate of sex attacks in the surrounding area, one of them puts subversive stickers on lads’ mags. I suggested looking into finding female run businesses we could support or female owned cafe’s we could meet in and they looked a bit blank. I’m not sure how I feel about this group. Personally I like to support the positive, create positive reinforcement for positive actions. Of course I understand the need to campaign against things that are bad, but I also want to promote things that are good. In that sense I try to live positively in every action. That’s probably a very idealistic statment as I am prone to reluctance and apathy, but step by step I think I am getting somewhere.

What a huge meander. I may have to find more things to believe in tomorrow.

Grindhouse reaction: with a side of tasty spoilers

April 28, 2008

Disclaimer: I considered WWVD when debating with myself whether to write about this, and concluded that she wrote reviews for newspapers to earn money in her youth so it must be ok. When I get comfortable with the name I don’t think this type of question will occur to me any more.

I’m guessing I’m one of about 200 British people who actually got to see the Rodreguez/Tarantino collaboration Grindhouse in its original double feature format. I cannot believe they tried to chop this up! That kind of censorial violence is far more offensive than anything contained in the movie. The project was designed from the start to be a single movie in two parts, a send-up and homage of the writer/directors’ favourite genre of exploitation movies. Actors and characters blurred the lines of reality by appearing in both films, as they would have done in the seventies when they were churned out in batches. In seperating the two parts you lose three quarters of the magic and charm lovingly instilled here.

I skirt the edges of the feminist blogosphere and I have read reviews going both ways about this movie (or the bits that were made available). Yes, on the one hand the star of Planet Terror is a go-go dancer who spends a third of the movie without a shirt on and Death Proof features the grizzly deaths of a group of young women. On the other hand, our dancer Cherry is an engaging character. She cries when she dances, the lacks the confidence to pursue a career as a stand-up comedian. After being attacked, losing a leg, and almost being molested she comes in to her own, decides to take shit no more, saves the day, and becomes matriarch of a colony of survivors. She totally wins the movie! True, she also provides the T&A, but it’s an exploitation movie in a loving piss-take of the genre. She loses a leg but there is no grotesque lingering on her being brutalised in a torture-porn way – the scene is actually very brief and in keeping with the light comedic mood of the movie.

What seems to have been overlooked in the few reviews I’ve read is the relationship between female doctor Dakota and that Fergie from Black Eyed Peas. Fergie is on her way to pick up Dr D and her son when she is waylaidby the Infected. Dr D’s husband finds out and gets all nasty, creepy and threatening because his wife is cheating on him. Dakota and Fergie’s relationship is accepted as a complete, meaningful, real relationship. Our supporting actress, with substantial role, is playing a legitimate bisexual character and nobody seems to have noted how awesome this is. The two women were not sexualised (they don’t appear on screen together) or deridedand their relationship was in no way implied to be less meaningful because it was between two women, one of whom was also interested in men. How many bisexual characters do you ever see anywhere? (Apart from in Torchwood which doesn’t count because it’s crap. This opinion does not affect my chasmous love for the doctor.)

So there I was, already pretty pleased with Planet Terror (and the excellent cake served in the Electric Cinema) when we had some spoof trailors. There was one before Planet Terror for the hilarious looking ‘Machete’ but that’s actually going to be a film now so I’ll look out for that later.Most of the spoof trailors pleased me muchly. But then Eli Roth came and pooed in my partyhat. Eli Roth, in my humble opinion, is a bit of a tosser who has a facination with hurting vaginas. He’s just across the line when it comes to nasty, and given my enjoyment of the rest of the show that is by no means a puritanical line. He did a fake trailor called Thanksgiving, and the parts that left me uncomfortable were the shot of a cheerleader about to land in the splits onto a knife, and the body of a woman made up to look like a roast turkey with a trumpet coming out the crotch. Why, Eli, why? What did vaginas ever do to you? As the king of torture porn I should have expected nothing less but still, that doesn’t mean I have to like it. I would question what sort of women would befriend or have relationships with a man like him but even Bernard Manning had a wife…

So after a distasteful piece of asshattery from Mr Roth the main feature continued. The benefit of seeing the Grindhouse version is that the ‘missing reel’ gag saves you the potential discomfort of having to see the lapdancing scene. What struck me most about Death Proof was how quickly Tarantino can make you care about a group of characters. Getting half an hour in to a 90 minute movie and killing off most of the cast is bold but Tarantino’s skill of writing and portraying friendships really pulls it off. The crux of the feminist argument against this movie is that so many women had to die before other women could get revenge but I believe it was necessary to show how far Stuntman Mike goes to get his kicks. He doesn’t just drive a foolish woman off into the woods and kill her quietly: he has the arrogance and faith in his death proof car to think that he can get away with killing five women at once without getting in trouble for it. We have to see that otherwise the revenge might look too extreme. The revenge, incidently, was fantastically enjoyable, and once again the women win the movie.

So thus concludes my reaction to Grindhouse. It’s a shame they didn’t release it properly in the cinema here – I think it would have done fantastically well and I can’t imagine why it didn’t in America considering it’s based on an American cultural icon. Perhaps it needed to fail in the cinema in order to achieve true cult status in years to come; after all, if everyone’s seen it it doesn’t really count, does it?