Good job, Roeder.

And no, I don’t mean good job for “ridding the world of a baby killer.” I mean good job for proving to everyone that the radical anti-American stance is hypocritical in every sense, that it is fundamentally anti-life and anti-woman, and that it is completely ideologically fucked in every regard.

It didn’t look so good for us pro-abortion types there for awhile. What with Supreme Court challenges and sneaky back-door state laws intended to limit women’s access to health care by requiring doctors to submit women to emotional manipulation and such, I feared that you motherfuckers might just be weaseling my rights out from under me. Seriously, you guys were gaining some ground there. You had me worried, because your duplicitous machinations were all under the radar for the most part and you seemed to be getting away with it. Thanks for bringing it all out into the open, Roeder. Now the public can see what you motherfuckers are really all about, and I think it’ll bring some much needed perspective to the discourse.

I’m sure you figured that your little act of terrorism might do your cause some good, that it might prevent other doctors from providing women with health care services that the law says are our right, but you were wrong. You and Bill “Fuckin’ thing sucks!” O’Reilly. You see, you’ve single-handedly proven that opposition to abortion is really about restricting women’s freedom and bodily sovereignty rather than some schmaltzy belief in the “sanctity of life.” I mean, it’s not as if no one was aware that most fetus-lovers are for the death penalty and all about overseas wars of aggression — and hence completely hypocritical — but you’ve really given our side some ammo in the form of proof of  just how malicious and full of shit you misogynistic miscreants really are. 

Let’s think about the whole late-term abortion issue a bit. First, anti-Americans love to pretend that late-term abortions are being performed as often as navel piercings and that the women who have abortions in the third trimester are a bunch of heartless, irresponsible whores who one day just up and waltz into a doctor’s office eight-and-a-half months into a pregnancy and say, “Hey, as a joke, why don’t we go ahead and abort this fetus?” As if, dude. If you can find me a doctor in the US who performs elective abortions in the third trimester, I’ll buy you a Lynrd Skynrd box set (or whatever bullshit music the militia men are listening to in northern Michigan these days). I’m not going to get into an argument about elective late-term abortions here because they don’t exist; Dr. George Tiller’s own practice’s website states that the clinic only performs therapeutic abortions in the third trimester. Know what that means? It means it’s only done in cases in which continuing the pregnancy would threaten the mother’s life or her health. Am I to understand that you anti-Americans would have the mother die or suffer a debilitating injury rather than abort a fetus? Where’s that “sanctity of life” shit when it comes to the mother? I’d really, really like to hear the answer to that one.

I suppose you’d say that if God wanted the mother to live rather than the fetus, he’d have allowed that to occur. Which brings me to my second point: the argument against abortion that is most often proffered by anti-Americans is the ol’ “Thou shalt not kill” bit from el Beeble. Now, I know that several fetus-and-JC-loving types have come out to condemn what Roeder did, but there are just as many who are hoopla-ing the fuck down tonight at the news (and I’m pretty sure Ann Coulter and Bill O are among them). That means that it’s time for us all to face the facts about what “Christianity”  really means to the vast majority of people who are most likely to be out hooting and hollering about what Christians they are. Christianity and the Bible do some pretty sweet work for bigots of all stripes, because they get to pick and choose which of the conflicting messages contained within Christian ideology to adopt and which to eschew. So, what Christianity has become, in effect, is a proxy through which shitty people excuse their most egregious and inhumane actions, a relativist mess of hate and violence and resistance to logical thought, such that this dumbass and the people he hangs around with were somehow able to convince themselves that it was not only A-OK to break the main commandment, but that it was OK to do so in God’s house. That’s right, he shot Dr. Tiller in church! So, here we have a “Christian” entering a Christian place of worship to murder another Christian in the name of Christianity and of God himself. Jesus would surely be bummed to hear about that. 

And that hipocrisy leads me to the third problem I have with the radical anti-American position. You see, I’ve always been a bit incredulous when I hear the claim that, by taking one life, these terrorists are preventing the taking of many lives. Bill O’Reilly, in an effort to attempt to mitigate some of the blowback he’s received for basically instigating Tiller’s murder, has been claiming all day that Tiller performed 60,000 late-term abortions. That’d be about five per day, seven days a week, without missing a single day, for 35 years. Riiight. But even if that had been the case, each of the late-term abortions Tiller performed prevented the death or injury of the mother. So here we have the real nub of the radical anti-American stance: fetuses are worth more than female human beings who have had sex. If God decides to punish a woman for having had the audacity to have sex or be raped by allowing her to die or suffer serious injury as the result of carrying a fetus to term, then fuck her. Christ. The only way to intellectually redeem that fucking argument would be to oppose medical care altogether as interference in “God’s plan,” but we can’t have that shit, because that would hurt men. No, what these pieces of shit are saying is that killing a doctor that would save the mother’s life instead of that of the fetus is totally copacetic, because she’s just a woman, not a “human life” like a fetus, which has the potential to be a man or a woman who remains a virgin.

Only someone who truly hates women could even entertain the idea that the life of a fetus might be more important than the life of a woman with a family and friends who would be devastated to lose her. 

Mr. Roeder, you may not have known it when you were planning and carrying out the terroristic assassination of a man who has done nothing but protect and preserve the health and lives of female human beings, but you’ve just proved yourself and your movement to be utterly insane, stupid, incoherent, misogynistic, and evil, and you’ve done so to a massive audience that I could never have hoped to reach. Good job, dude. 

The assassination of Dr. George Tiller, who dedicated his life to protecting our right to safe reproductive health care, should serve as a catalyst for a new offensive against those who would take away our human rights. Please, all of my dear readers, think about volunteering some of your time or money to an organization that protects women’s right to safe and affordable reproductive care, or about writing a blog post or a letter to the editor in support of our right to choose. We have the public’s attention right now and we should take advantage of this opportunity to make our voices heard. Our bodily sovereignty and our right to determine our own destinies depend on it.  

My deepest sympathies go to Dr. Tiller’s family and friends. I almost feel ashamed for writing such a polemical post on the occasion of his murder, but this event proves just how vicious the opponents of women’s human rights are, and I hope Dr. Tiller wouldn’t disapprove of my choice to speak out against them.

Republicans are the new feminists. Either that or they’re pro-rape and anti-family.

I’m bringing the banner back because the Anti-Woman Threat Level has been elevated to fuchsia.

I watched part of the RNC last night. I know, I know, I shouldn’t be doing that lest I risk putting myself into a coma, but I can’t help it. (Have you ever seen anything more boring than this convention? I’ve seen people party harder on the Lawrence Welk Show.) I couldn’t help it. I turned it on and was just caught in the headlights by seeing my city’s old mayor pretend to be a dumb hick in order to pander to the willfully ignorant provincialism of a room full of Tim McGraw fans who believe poor people are poor because they’re evil, dinosaur bones were planted by the devil to test their faith, and liberals’ real goals consist of sacrificing late-term fetuses to the Indigo Girls and turning all of our little boys into Eddie Izzard. He did so by jocularly implying that Obama’s an urban chauvinist/elitist for mentioning the fact that Sara Palin hasn’t run a city big enough to have bus service nor a state with more people in it than any city with more than one Hooters. (Rudy’s just so small town, so main street.) He then tisk-tisked Democrats for asking whether Palin can handle being a mom to so many kids while holding high office, acting fucking outraged that they would ask such a question of a woman when they wouldn’t ask it of a man. You know, because they’re such feminists over in the GOP.

I know the Democrats have been blowing it lately when it comes to women’s issues (hey, Obama, thanks for selling out half the population in a stupid attempt to court the seven or so religious zealots that were already going to vote for you out of spite because McCain refuses to acknowledge that the apocalypse is scheduled for next month), but watching Republicans talk about women’s rights nearly had me in convulsions. The dissimulations and misrepresentations I saw in fifteen minutes of watching the RNC were so obscene, so obvious, and so stupid that I squirted ginger ale out of my nose like five times. Hearing these ass clowns pretend to give a shit about women’s issues, pretend they’re the party of resisting the status quo, pretend they care about anything but giving rich people more money, starting some more wars with brown people with oil, taking rights away from women and people with the temerity to not be rich, and forcing people to adhere to their backward bullshit religious ideology is offensive to the max.

Or perhaps it’s illuminating. 

It’s illuminating because I’ve seen the essence of Republican strategy in action: smart, sophisticated rich guys pretending to be dumb philistines in order to trick people who really are dumb philistines into thinking their best interests lie in voting in support of smart rich guys’ financial interests. It’s really kind of amazing if you think about it. I mean, these guys have to say insane shit in public that they absolutely know is stupid and wrong, and they have to act like they mean it. But they have to make sure not to go too far with their ridiculous rhetoric lest they tip the public off to the fact that they think their entire base has the IQ of Fred Durst. It’s a fine line, and I’m kind of impressed with how they’ve managed to stand astride it for so long. 

So they get to come out and pretend, because they’ve nominated an anti-woman psycho who happens to have a vagina (maybe — I’m still not convinced she isn’t a cyborg created by Sean Hannity and Phyllis Schlafly or a transvestite MRA), that they’re the party of women’s rights and gender progress. They can claim that they’re the feminists and the Democrats are the misogynists (not that a lot of them aren’t), and do so with straight faces. McCain and whatever doctor of tomfoolery runs his campaign also think that they’re going to nab the mythological bloc of disaffected Clinton supporters who are disgruntled at Obama’s nomination, simply because they’ve nominated a woman (a woman who thinks being called a pit bull with lipstick is a compliment and that women ought to be forced to rent their uteri out as life support equipment free of charge). I don’t believe that a huge group of people that love Clinton more than their own human rights exists, but I do, unfortunately, think there are plenty of (Republican) women that are stupid enough to pick up what the GOP is laying down and decide Sara Palin is a step forward for womankind.

What can I say? The GOP might just have the public pegged. In any case, the Republicans have devised some pretty impressive framing if you ask me. 

Maybe the leadership of the party of homophobes with wide stances and women who wish women weren’t allowed to vote gets something I don’t. Maybe I’m presenting arguments that are just too honest, complex, and thoughtful. Maybe what I need to do in order to hasten the gender revolution is repackage it as something other than what it really is in blisteringly stupid terms. I’ll give it a shot, I guess, and try it out on the voting public who are considering whether they ought to vote for John “Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran… did I mention that I was a POW?” McCain and his kapo out of their “love” for womankind. The following will be my attempt at “framing,” GOP style, the debate over whether Palin’s election would be a step forward for women: 

Here’s why I’m opposed to Sara Palin: she may be a woman, but she ain’t no feminist, and I doubt whether she’s even got America’s interests at heart. In fact, I doubt whether she’s even an American. Look where she’s from. I know Alaska’s a state, but it’s basically in Canada, and there’s nothing in Canada but socialists, hockey players, and people who don’t know how to pronounce the word “about.” That ain’t American no how. But it may be even worse than that. Alaska is just a hop, skip, and a few little islands away from Russia. I’m not sure this woman isn’t a foreign agent, and if she happens to turn out to be one, let’s hope she’s “just” a Canadian and not a Russki. 

You may be wondering why I suspect Palin of working for a foreign government. I’ll tell you why: she’s already publicly admitted to being anti-American. I hate to quote myself (I, like Bill O’Reilly, am a paragon of modesty), but let us remember: 

As of now, our Supreme Court (however tenuous the status of this decision may be) holds that a woman has the right to decide how she wants to utilize her uterus… The Supreme Court is an American institution and has been one for much longer than apple pie, NASCAR, or fake German beers, ergo, anyone who disagrees with the Supreme Court’s decision is anti-American.

Palin has brazenly proclaimed that she’s anti-American, and has even admitted to sympathizing with terrorists who would attack us and take away our freedoms. She is vehemently opposed to American women’s freedom and right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and would, if elected, force us to use our organs to provide life support against our will.

And she’s radical about it (what’s scarier than a radical, folks?). She has stated publicly that she opposes our right to determine our own destiny even in the case of rape. You know what that means? That’s right. Sara Palin is pro-rape. She’d rather force you to give birth to the spawn of a rapist than allow you, after you’ve already had your human rights and personal sovereignty violated, to decide not to suffer further physical and emotional torment as a result of the crime. Palin claims she’s pro-family, but how can we trust someone’s claims to being pro-family when she has also publicly proclaimed that she’d even force her own daughter to carry a fetus that resulted from a rape? Palin is in favor of taking rights away from rape victims and giving more power to rapists to hurt us, and she’s ready to put the might of the state behind the rapists rather than innocent women, including her own daughters. That is downright treasonous — not to mention anti-family — if you ask me. 

I think it’s clear what the right choice is here. Sara Palin is a pro-rape, anti-family, anti-American radical, and she might very well be a foreign agent. She’s clearly not qualified to lead on behalf of the majority of freedom-loving, anti-rape, patriotic Americans, and neither is the man who is so incompetent as to be fooled into choosing an anti-American foreigner as his running mate for our nation’s highest office.

Hey, they started it.

(I guess watching this bullshit wasn’t a total loss. I found out about Cowboy Troy, who the GOP hired to participate in the most embarrassing rendition of the Star Spangled Banner I’ve ever seen, but who nonetheless might be the most awesome person alive. Plus, I learned some things about how to package the iss-yous for the troglodytes we call “average Americans.” George Lakoff would be proud.)

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If you’ve ever called anyone a cougar, fuck you.

I was walking around in some park yesterday with a friend and we ended up discussing the utterly stupid phenomenon of people calling women who date younger men “cougars.” We agreed, of course, that the term is totally passe and is usually deployed by the kinds of people who think having “Shake and bake!” as their MySpace headline is clever. But that, obviously, is not all; “cougar” is yet another dehumanizing term that our culture uses to reduce female human beings to gross and blunt stereotypes based on their sexual choices.

Let me tell you a small story. Wednesday night I went out to some asshole party at the local pub where Americans pretend to be English while drinking Guinness and watching sports they have no business being into (English soccer). The asshole party was called Trivia Night. I’ve never been to pub trivia before because I usually don’t have the chance to get wasted on a Tuesday, and because I’m not on a co-ed softball team, so it was a real experience. Myself, my friend Nate, and my other friend Gay Steve formed a little team called Lambda Lambda Lambda and we did pretty well considering the fact that we were playing against teams with 10 or 15 people on them. Still, we blew it because we didn’t know how many emirates made up the United Arab Emirates. Weak, I know.

When the trivia was all over, I had some spare attention to spread around the patio area and I saw something that nearly blew my mind. Some dude had a beard that had more net volume than Osama bin Laden, Fidel Castro in his heydey, and Scott Ian could muster in a cooperative effort — and not only that — he had on some plaid emo cowboy shirt with the sleeves cut off, and a trucker hat with a patch on it urging me to buy some tractor or other (I say trucker hats are unacceptable and always will be — they’ve used up their irony cachet at least four times over, and will never, ever be cool). I didn’t check, but I’m sure he also had on a giant belt buckle that said something stupid about guns or bourbon on it. I wouldn’t have been able to see it, anyway, because he had the gut to match the outfit. He basically looked like he’d been in the forests of Idaho doing nothing but cutting logs and motorboatin’ for about four years, but he hadn’t been.  The whole thing was some kind of kit he put together to let everyone know what a hip motherfucker he is. For this guy, every single day is Halloween, and he trick-or-treats for hipster points (which I think can be cashed in at Urban Outfitters for books of drinking games or forty cozies). Shameful.

What you may not know about me is that I’m kind of an asshole, especially when I’ve been drinking in a room full of people that bring me close to fainting with embarrassment. As such, I decided to go tell the guy I was really impressed with his kit and that he should definitely keep the look up, no matter what anyone says. Apparently, though, my sarcasm didn’t make its way through and some bald dickfore that was hanging out with the guy took my completely backhanded compliment to mean I was interested in the faux motorboatin’, deer huntin’, Jim Beam swillin’ trucker. The bald guy made some hand signal that, as far as I know, is the SCUBA diver signal to indicate that there’s a barracuda nearby, so I asked him what it meant. I was curious, you know. I wish I hadn’t asked, though, because the trucker apologetically told me that it meant Kojak was calling me a cougar in code. Uh huh.

I’m only 30. Plus, I don’t even look 30, because I haven’t been abusing myself with beauty rituals for the last 15 years, and because I don’t wear make-up and refuse to dress like a responsible adult. In fact, I’m pretty sure I look younger than the trucker, who, despite being only 21, looked about 40 due to his ridiculous fashion choices. And I might be and look a decade younger than the bald cockface who made the signal in the first place. Added to that is the fact that I’d sooner get a tribal tattoo than hit on a dude who thinks dressing up like someone named Cletus or Skeeter is cool. I’m not telling you any of that to impress upon you how purty I am or how much cooler I am than anyone else, but rather to point out one small bit of the absurdity of this ass clown thinking he was witty for using a term to insult me that didn’t even apply to the situation.

But, of course, germanity isn’t the central issue here. The central issue is that this guy thinks he’s cool/funny/edgy/impressing someone by being snarky by trying to shame me for having the temerity to be a woman outside doing what I feel like doing, including talking to a dude without having been spoken to first. As such, I deserved to be put back in my place, and how better to achieve that than to verbally reduce me from a human being to an animal/undesirable sexual stereotype? This stupid, drunk, mouth-breathing, bald, old asshole conceived of himself as a bigger deal than me, as higher in the hierarchy than I am, just because he has a wiener (which is, unfortunately, true, no matter how much smarter, cooler, and better I am than he is – IBTP), and he was threatened enough by my refusal to fulfill his expectations of what women ought to act like in public to put down his drink, stop trying to show off his spider web tattoo, and dehumanize a total stranger. Fuckin’ A. I made some witty-as-fuck reply like, “At least I have all my hair and don’t have to take out my frustration over my impotence, baldness, and low IQ on people I don’t even know.” I’m sure there was a “fuck you” and some mention of his stupid tattoos in there, too, but it all just happened so faaast.

So I’ve been thinking about the term “cougar” for the past few days. Well, really, I’ve been thinking about it for a long time. I used to have a friend named Leo who was in a New Wave band (in 2002) called Cougar!, and the first time I heard someone use the term “cougar” to refer to an older woman who dated younger dudes I got really pissed because I knew one of the coolest New Wave band names ever had been ruined. I also knew I was going to be hearing a lot more of yet another derogatory term for women that had arisen out of yet another double standard. SNORE.

I fucking hate Sex and the City and refuse to watch it, but I knew when a show came out that revolved around women who weren’t 22 fucking dudes who were — and when that show became a huge cultural phenomenon among the kinds of women I don’t want to hang out with — that we’d be hearing a lot of bullshit about some purportedly “new” sexual trends among women spawned by the show’s popularity. That doesn’t mean I have a problem with women who want to go out and hose around with younger men, it means I don’t think it’s anything new, and that I don’t need to hear any more ill-informed, misogynistic, ham-fisted speculation in the mainstream media about women’s sexuality that amounts to nothing more than translucently-veiled condemnations of women who don’t adhere to patriarchal mandates for female sexual behavior; there’s nothing more insulting to women’s intelligence than some fool in the media pretending to celebrate the “spunk” of “women who break the rules” when he/she’s really just telling us why such women ought to be ashamed of themselves and worried about their man-less, lonely, desperate futures.

“Cougar,” like “whore,” “slut,” “bitch,” “nag,” “ho,” “skank,” “cunt,” etc. (golly-GEE, there are so many), has no counterpart that can be leveled at a dude. I mean, you could call a dude any one of those terms, but it wouldn’t carry the connotations, the baggage, or the power it does when directed at a woman. It’s kind of like the difference between the n-word and “cracker.” You can call a white guy a cracker, but it’s not going to sting too bad when he can reply, “Whatever. I still run everything.” There’s no power to dehumanize in calling a white guy a cracker, because white guys, being as they are the default humans, are always human beings. Similarly, you could call a dude who dates younger women a cougar (or something similarly stupid), but you’d have a hard time bumming his party out because being able to hump younger women is, like, the ultimate indicator of prestige among men.

Not so with women. The Sex and the City people may want to portray humping dudes half your age as empowerful as fuck, but it just isn’t. If you’d like some evidence as to why that’s so, see if you can find a clip from an April episode of SNL called “Cougar’s Den.” I, unfortunately, was present at the taping of that episode. I got some free tickets and decided I’d go, just to see how they pull of the stage changes and whatnot, despite the fact that I’m pretty sure there are episodes of Touched By An Angel that are funnier (and maybe even less boring) than anything SNL’s done in the last decade, and despite the fact that Ashton Kutcher was the host and the musical guest was Gnarls Barkley.

Cameron Diaz was apparently in town for some reason and decided to stop by and do a cameo, and that cameo was a fake talk show called “Cougar’s Den.” I’m sure you can imagine how groaningly stupid the skit was, but I’ll give you the pertinent details: it was basically three women who were supposed to be about 40 swilling multi-colored drinks out of martini glasses, swapping tips on how to bag younger men, and making idolatric (coinage?) references to the Sex and the City character that fucks the most young dudes on the show (I think she’s the one that was in Mannequin and the first Police Academy). The tips included going to bars late, when the “prey” are all too drunk to notice how old (and hence worthless) you are, doing it with the lights off, and taking off before they find out you’re not actually fuckable. Then one of the cougars brought out her “boyfriend” (played by Kutcher), who talked about how he liked dating cougars because you could treat them like shit and they’d still fuck you any way you asked them to and give you money. Niiiice.

I realize that making an SNL skit a central part of an argument might seem ill-advised, but it just seems that way because you haven’t thought about it. SNL skits are a fairly decent indicator of what the LCD in this country thinks. As such, I’m pretty sure I’ve got a grip on what the average dude who does Borat impressions is thinking when he calls someone a cougar.

In case I haven’t already leaked what that might be, here it is: when someone calls a woman a cougar, he (or she… fucking appeasers) is saying she has lost the one thing men find valuable in women in this culture, her fuckability (which derives from youth and how closely one matches whatever absurd beauty standard Bebe and Maybelline are flexing that day), and has thus become an object of ridicule. Even though the term assumes that the woman being discussed is a successful urban type who has most likely achieved something in life and is probably interesting to talk to, she’s worthless. Because she has lost her one source of esteem, she has no real power over men, and no ability to get anyone to love or even like her, even dudes her own age. As such, she must be desperate, and what’s more repugnant in our culture than a desperate unfuckable woman? Desperate women resort to trickery: cougars go out and try to entrap younger men with alcohol, offers to service them sexually, and the money that a mature career woman can offer.

So, once again, a woman attempting to go out into the world and exhibit the exact same behavior men exhibit in droves is derided, dehumanized, and humiliated by a culture that won’t stand for women acting like full human beings. When a woman oversteps the bounds of acceptable female behavior and dares to pursue something she desires, men get threatened and have to remind her that, while she may be able to fuck a dude who is young enough to be her younger brother, she’s still powerless and worthless; because she’s not young, hawt, and demure, he may fuck her, but he’ll never place any value in her as a human being. And neither will anyone else.

You know what that is? Terrorism.

(Please, one of you dumbass MRAs, try to tell me how that’s the same thing as an older man dating a “gold-digging” younger woman.)

I’ll be back later with a sloppy attempt to discuss my vacation in the context of feminism.

UPDATE: Some people have been giving me a hard time for making fun of these two dudes and then getting mad at them for insulting me. The difference is twofold: my making fun of them does not deny their humanity, but rather their judgment; and my insults all revolved around things they have control over (not their gender or age, but their foolish fashion and tattoo choices). Duh.

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War on Terr’r Update: Terr’r on Madison Avenue

I’ll be getting to the terr’rism inherent in the advertising industry shortly, but for now, you may want to have a look at these:

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War on Terr’r Update: Michael Dudikoff an Ally in the War on Terr’r

I figured it’s been too long since I changed my header image. The old one didn’t really go with the colors of the War on Terr’r banner, plus I wanted something a bit more patriotic, and what’s more patriotic than the American Ninja film franchise? If you’ve yet to see American Ninja or American Ninja 2: The Confrontation, then I guess you know what you ought to be doing tonight. They may just be the two funniest movies ever made (but I’d avoid American Ninja 3: Blood Hunt like herpes).

The story in both movies is that two US Army guys with questionable backgrounds (one played by Michael Dudikoff, the other by the late, great Steve James) are, for some inexplicable reason, martial arts wizards to put any actual Japanese ninja to shame. They’re sent (in both films) to vaguely tropical islands inhabited by Latinos and Asians of different stripes, who the viewer is meant to believe are all of the same ethnicity. They’re there in both cases to help the US government shut down the operations of sinister metrosexual Franco-Spanish (it’s impossible to tell which they’re supposed to be) rich dudes who are using their own private ninja armies to wreak havoc on the islands. In both films, it’s their martial arts prowess that allows them to escape even the most dangerous and seemingly hopeless of situations unscathed, and that ends up being the deciding factor in their all-American triumphs over the forces of evil. The story and production in both are so schizophrenic and nonsensical that it comes close to blowing the mind, and the macho Army/ninja business is so exaggerated that it almost (but not quite) seems like the Cannon Group intended for it to be funny. I couldn’t give these movies a stronger recommendation.

A real Japanese ninja.

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The War on Terr’r Part 6: The Wiener as a Weapon (On Rape, Sexual Assault, and Patriarchy)

And by rape you know what I mean. A judge does not have to walk into this room and say that according to statute such and such these are the elements of proof. We’re talking about any kind of coerced sex, including sex coerced by poverty. You can’t have equality or tenderness or intimacy as long as there is rape, because rape means terror. It means that part of the population lives in a state of terror and pretends… that it doesn’t.

I am guessing that my astute readers will recognize that quote, but in case you didn’t, it was a portion of Andrea Dworkin’s speech, “I Want a Twenty-Four Hour Truce During Which There Is No Rape.” I am also guessing that a lot of you have been wondering why, in my War on Terr’r, I have yet to discuss the most significant form of terrorism that women face: sexual assault. I was saving the shock and awe for the endgame; the War on Terr’r is about to become an occupation, meaning I’ll still be fighting it but won’t necessarily want to say so all the time, and so this topic seems like a fitting one to address before I declare major combat operations over.

Let me start off by saying that I’m going to talk about patriarchy in this post, which I rarely do. I often find myself, when I think about things like rape being a tool of the patriarchy, feeling as if I have lost my mind because I can’t figure out how these things perpetuate themselves, can’t separate the chicken from the egg. I generally avoid referring to the patriarchy because I consider doing so taking a shortcut, but I have to here, despite my discomfort. The reason I avoid referring to the patriarchy is that it’s often an incomplete explanation. Yes, we live in one, but why does it continue to exist? Why does a ship with no one at its helm continue on the same course? Are rapists consciously trying to uphold a vast and oppressive social system when they act, or (more likely) are they taking out inchoate aggression on an individual victim? Are men who use pornography making a conscious choice to promote women’s subjugation in our society, or (more likely) are they allowing their selfishness to override their humanity for a few minutes at a time? All of the senses in which women are degraded and devalued in our society are related to each other, but why do they seem to dovetail so perfectly? How can something that seems pre-planned operate with no organizing force? Is the organizing force simply the hatred of women? If it is, then whence does that hatred come? This train of thought is circular, it goes nowhere, and it drives me up the fucking wall because I believe the only way to extirpate something is to find its root.

But let’s get to the point. Sexual assault is terrorism. Rape is terrorism. But who decides what sexual assault is? Who decides what rape is?

People seem to think Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart’s “I know it when I see it” guideline for identifying obscenity works with rape and sexual assault. We’ve all seen movies, or heard stories, from which we find out what a rape is “supposed” to look, sound, and feel like. Strange men in alleys with weapons rape, gangs of frat boys rape. Women walking alone after dark get raped, women who get too drunk in bars and at parties get raped, women who don’t learn to fear and avoid men they don’t know get raped. Rape is violent, loud, and unexpected, and it could be lurking around every corner.

What does that image of rape do in service of the patriarchy? It allows all but that very small proportion of rapists whose actions have threatened the patriarchy itself off the hook, and it does a fairly sound job of controlling women by making them afraid to venture out alone or overstep the bounds of acceptable female behavior (i.e., it’s an effective terrorist tactic).

It’s estimated that only 21% of women who report having been raped report that a stranger attacked them. Does that simply mean that for every 21 stranger rapes, there are 79 acquaintance rapes? I wish the numbers were that “low.” First, let’s remember that that’s 21% of reported rapes. Women are highly unlikely to report a rape in the first place, but they are even more unlikely to do so when their experience doesn’t match our cultural conception of what a rape is, especially once they see how acquaintance rape victims are treated by our justice system, media, and society in general. Spousal rape? Druggings? Forget it. Those have hardly even been deemed crimes yet. Rape, being the most serious form of sexual assault, is the most likely form of sexual assault to be taken seriously and to be prosecuted. It’s a fairly sad commentary on the progress women have made toward a safe, equitable relationship with men when even the most serious form of terrorism they face is often ignored.

Stranger rape threatens the patriarchy’s ownership of women’s and children’s bodies, and so women generally have men’s support when they find themselves victims of rape at the hands of a stranger, if you don’t take into account the fact that the rapist’s attorney will most likely be allowed to call the victim a lying whore in court (gee, thanks, guys). Acquaintance rape, including spousal rape, is a whole ‘nother story. Because of the way our legal system works, women are assumed to have consented to sex unless they can prove otherwise, which is a fucking travesty if there ever was one. Lack of consent in a stranger rape is easier to prove than in an acquaintance rape, but the onus is still on the woman to prove she did not give her consent. In the case of acquaintance rape, the victim usually has virtually no way of proving that she did not provide consent. Know what that amounts to? I don’t believe that most men think about this consciously and plan to take advantage of it, but it basically means that our culture and our legal system are telling men that women are available for raping, especially if you know them.

So, we have none but the most cursory of protections from our legal system. We’re the weak, men are the powerful, and the institution that promises the weak protection from the powerful is run by and for the powerful, which means it operates at the expense of the weak. Men decide what rape is, and men have decided that the only kinds of rape they will make any kind of serious effort to help us avoid are those that threaten their ownership over our sexuality. There it is, and my head feels like it’s going to explode; I doubt that any individual man would say, “Fuckin’ A right. The whole plan is to set up a system where I can rape anybody I want, but I can also put motherfuckers in jail who rape the women and children I’ve set aside for myself to rape,” but that’s nonetheless the way shit works.

Does rape, then, really amount to terrorism on the part of men aimed at using fear to manipulate women’s behavior? This is where things get very complicated and very contentious. It’s also where most anti-feminists get their straw men from. Andrea Dworkin has been accused of saying that all heterosexual sex is rape, and feminists are often accused of saying that all men are rapists. That ain’t the fucking deal. The deal is this: men know that women live in a precarious situation in this society, know that women are vulnerable and lack the protections and power they have, and some of them use that knowledge to their own advantage. That means, in concrete terms, that some men sexually abuse some women knowing that they can get away with it because women don’t have the power to fight back, don’t have the might or even the support of the justice system behind them, don’t have any other option but to acquiesce. That means that some men coerce women into having sex with them, some men take advantage of women’s fears to manipulate them into performing sex acts they do not want to perform, some men purposely create fear in the minds of women in order to get them to comply. Fear isn’t limited to the fear of violence: it includes the fear of being abandoned, the fear of financial destitution, the fear of being left to raise children alone, the fear of being mistreated in one’s own home, and so on.

Are we to differentiate coercion from actual physical force or the threat of violence? I don’t think so. I think that when a man uses fear to coerce a woman into having sex against her will, a rape has occurred. I’m not as radical in my view of heterosexual sex as some people are; I believe that consent is possible and that there is such a thing as un-coerced heterosexual sex. Maybe I have to believe that because I’m not a lesbian, but I still do believe it. Patriarchy places women in a position in which all of our choices are limited, but I think the intent of the people involved in a sex act is the crux of the question of whether a rape has occurred. Now, that doesn’t mean that I excuse the behavior of men who are so ignorant of their own privilege that they don’t understand that coercion is tantamount to rape. Rather, it means that I’m charitable, that, despite vast amounts of evidence to the contrary, I believe most men are human beings and that most of them don’t want to hurt us and don’t want us to do things we don’t want to do. It’s the men that, knowing we do not want to do something, use force, fear, or dishonesty to make us do it anyway that are the terrorists.

To recap, not all heterosexual sex is rape, but sex that has been coerced through the use of actual force or through fear (of violence, poverty, abandonment, etc.) is rape, and is thus a form of terrorism. Individual men are instruments of patriarchy, not its architects, but that does not remove their responsibility to acknowledge and address their own privilege, nor does it excuse their patriarchy-enforcing behavior.

Rape is meant to force women into boxes, to limit their actions, to remind them who’s the fucking boss, but it doesn’t always go as far as rape. Sexual assaults of any kind have the same effect. Let me tell you two stories.

When I was 11, I was walking home from school down Fulton Road, alone, when a white truck drove up on my left. The shitbag driving it slowed down, honked, and then raised his pelvis up so I could see through the window that he was having a wank, and then drove off. I was fucking TERRIFIED. I only knew one person who lived on that street, and she lived 1/2 mile away, and the entire street was fucking deserted. I was positive this motherfucker was going to come back and kidnap me and do who knows what to me in his fucking chicken shack or whatever. I went home and was too afraid to even tell my mom because I didn’t know how to explain what the guy had done. For months I refused to walk home on Fulton Road, opting instead for a potentially more dangerous route that was also much longer, and I never again walked down that road alone, even though I lived in that town for 10 more years.

When I was 16, I was at a party with some people I knew, and one of them had brought his friend, Eric. I sort of tertiarilly (I love coining words) knew Eric through the dude I was dating at the time. He was basically kind of an alpha-male asshole and was constantly doing shitty things to people that he got away with because people thought he was cooler than they were, and because that was how people who did shit on boards acted back then (and still do – I’ll be writing about the misogyny inherent in the skateboarding world shortly). Anyway, someone wanted to take some photos, and this motherfucker decided that he would get his dick out whenever he was in a photo with a girl, myself included. I don’t pretend to know what he thought the effect of doing that would be, but it scared every girl he did it to and made all of us quiet all night. It put us in a sort of tailspin because we didn’t know what was going on or what we had done, just that we had been disrespected and insulted and that his intent was to show us that he had the power turn us into victims, and so he was in charge.

These two incidents can be called sexual assaults. “Sexual assault” is a nebulous term because the patriarchy (in the guise of the justice system) gets to define it, but any act that is sexually aggressive in nature and is intended to create fear in the victim can be called a sexual assault in my book. (I don’t know that the law is even the appropriate way to deal with these sorts of incidents, anyway. I think these call for vigilantism. See my suggestions on dealing with sexual harassment.)

That’s what the wiener does for men who misuse it. I know I’ve got some readers who are into wieners (I’m still on the fence), but they can be and are used as weapons by terrorists. The wiener may be cute to some (I really don’t get you two, seriously), but it can also be used as a tool (!) of oppression against women who are seen as having transgressed whatever arbitrary role the penis owner has decided he would like to impose. Men can flash us, masturbate in front of us, or play stupid jokes on us and other men with their wieners, and the net effect is always the same: they’ve asserted power over us by creating fear in order to manipulate our behavior.

That means that all sexual assaults, up to and including rape, are acts of terrorism aimed at taking away our freedom as women and as human beings. That also means that the War on Terr’r won’t be over until Ms. Dworkin gets her wish, and not just for twenty-four hours.

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The War on Terr’r Part 5: Buy Our Shit, Bitch!

The marketing and advertising industries might be the al Qaeda of gender-based terrorism, meaning that advertising is the most widespread, most effective, most elusive, and hardest to fight of all the sources of terrorism. I’m going to try to maintain some dignity, but this post might get ugly; I hate the ad industry (and its sycophantic step-child, the entertainment media) like Pauly Shore hates that the 90s are over, and I’m pretty sure it’s going to show.

Long, long ago (at least 10 days), I defined terrorism as any action that makes use of fear to manipulate people’s behavior, and advertisers are more adept at doing so and getting away with it than just about anyone. Advertisers find ways to get us to spend our money on things we don’t need, don’t (and probably shouldn’t) want, and likely can’t afford by creating an atmosphere of never-ceasing fear and self-doubt in which we feel like incomplete human beings if we don’t own every item in the everlasting parade of useless bullshit they present to us. And almost no one calls attention to it.

Advertisers have gone from doing research on how to meet customers’ desires to creating and directing desires, all while giving us the illusion of choice. They manage this because they have found a way to overwhelm us with their messages; the collusion between advertisers and entertainment media has advanced to the point where it’s almost impossible to draw a line between the commercials and the content on any major network these days, so that we’ve found ourselves in a situation in which we’re being advertised to at almost every moment. There’s virtually no hope of resisting the advertising juggernaut because the totality of our cultural identity is created by advertisers and their entertainment industry lackeys. They now tell us who we are, who we want to be, and how to get there (at which point who we want to be will change). They’ve transitioned from selling us single products to selling us identities (e.g. If you wanna be urban, get yourself a VW, an iBook, some $200 jeans, and whatever Urban Outfitters is selling this week, and hurry up and get yourself those Radiohead and Vampire Weekend CDs).

Advertisers have somehow found a way to manipulate women into buying products from their clients despite the fact that they repeatedly tell us, in no uncertain terms, that they hate us. And that’s where the difference between advertising aimed at men and that aimed at women lies: advertisers take advantage of men as well as women, but most ads aimed at men don’t come with a dose of disrespect and dehumanization (of men). The message aimed at men is usually one laden with flattery, fantasy, and promises of ego boosts, which are chiefly gained at the expense of women. The message aimed at women is more likely something along the lines of, “If you buy this you’ll be less worthless than you are now, but you’ll still be pretty worthless.”

Let’s have a look at a few examples.

Durex sells XXL condoms. You know, because there’s a dude somewhere whose wiener just can’t fit into the regular condom, which can stretch to a diameter of about 10 inches, or the old Magnum XL condoms, which might stretch to 15. Riight. The secret to XL and XXL condoms is that any asshole can wear them, and hence they sell like hotcakes even though there is no such dude that needs them. So, here we have a useless product that no one needs, but that plenty of men probably feel like they have to have in order to feel like a part of the big wiener club.

And how do you know if you’re really a member (pun intended)? That’s easy. If you hurt the people you do it with, you can pat yourself on the back for being a “real man.” No, you shouldn’t consider not doing something to someone that hurts them. It’s your right as one of the few, the proud, the huge-enwienered to go around injuring your sex partners. Women can deal with a little physical pain to bolster your ego, because, fuck, that’s what women are here for. Or at least that’s what Durex seems to think.

This ad fucking terrified me when I first saw it, because it’s pretty clear these guys did some research and that their research told them that this ad would play well with men, and that it wouldn’t be necessary to tone it down in order to avoid scaring potential female customers. Despite the fact that it’s usually women who insist on condom use (women make up about a third of condom sales, and who knows how much more if one considers how many of the men buying condoms are doing so at their female partners’ request), Durex is basically telling all the women who see the ad, “Fuck you. You aren’t a person, you’re a body part for men to use. You can suck our collective dick, and then buy our product.” This ad is admittedly a pretty extreme example, but it’s far from unique, and it’s part of a huge woman-hating Durex campaign (fuck Durex, obviously, because they’re terrorists and they’ve clearly shown that they have no respect for half the world’s population’s humanity).

Advertisers know something most of us don’t: women have been exposed to so many images that tell them that they are their body parts (and nothing else) that it’s safe to put out an ad like this and expect women to let it pass. I mean, look at what they get away with when selling a product exclusively to women:

“Buy our boots. You’ll look hot even after you get raped, murdered, and shoved into a trunk.”

“What’s hotter than rape and murder?”

JESUS CHRIST! Apply the switcheroo here: imagine an ad featuring a man dressed up in his best Armani suit, beaten to death and left in an alley. There is no way an ad firm would make such an ad, because they know that men aren’t excited by seeing themselves dismembered, victimized, and murdered, and that men don’t see themselves through the same lens women do. There is no fucking way a dude would be attracted to images of brutalized men. It’s sick, but advertisers think they have some kind of insight into women’s minds, and maybe they do. Maybe most women have internalized the hatred of women that seems to dominate our popular culture to the point that they’ve lost their ability to be shocked by images such as these. Maybe most women can imagine themselves as a part of some kind of violent fantasy, can see themselves, as women have been trained by advertising to do, as if through the eyes of an onlooker, one who is attracted to images of women’s helplessness and victimization. Whatever it is, these advertisers are aware of and confident in their own influence. They’ve trained us, they think, to respond to their commands, even when those commands are couched in messages of pure misogyny. And they’re right a lot of the time.

How did we get to this disgusting place? Advertisers have always played upon people’s fears, but how did we get to a place where they can insult us, terrorize us, and still manipulate us into buying their products? Women are cornered by advertisers, trapped in an intractable position in which, even if they buy up everything they’re told to, they’ll still be used as decorations, made the butt of cruel jokes, and told that they don’t measure up to the impossible standards set up by the beauty industry. Ads create a low-level, but constant, state of terror in women’s minds, one that can only temporarily be partially alleviated through shopping but one that will never go away. It’s insidious, it’s difficult to describe or explain, it’s ubiquitous, and it’s overwhelming, but the influence of advertising is terroristic and needs to be confronted, because it may just be the number one factor limiting women’s potential. It dominates our conceptions of ourselves, it misdirects our energies and resources (financial, mental, and physical), and it prevents us from seeing our way to equality with men because it teaches us that we’re collections of body parts constantly in need of improvement rather than human beings.

The previous examples are a few of the most shocking I’ve seen recently, but their message is simply a purer distillation of the message in ads like these:

We’re supposed to see ourselves as if through the eyes of a male onlooker, we’re expected to be attracted to images of women being objectified, we’re supposed to aspire to a completely artificial and impossible beauty standard, and we’re expected to identify with this hateful and limiting conception of womanhood enough to want to buy the products associated with it? What a fucking insult. Seriously, fuck you.

I often find myself in conversations with women who don’t see what I’m so upset about, who tell me not to make such a big deal out of things, and it makes me nearly irrationally angry. I get all worked up about how evil and anti-woman the world of advertising is and it blows my mind that there is a woman on Earth that can’t see it. But then I remember that we aren’t supposed to see it. Advertisers are counting on the efficacy of their terroristic techniques. We’re supposed to be too busy worrying that we aren’t skinny, beautiful, hot, or “feminine” enough to notice that they’re selling us hatred of ourselves.

So how do we resist the advertising machine? It’s one of the world’s biggest industries; it creates the cultural context from which we have to fight it and, as such, it amounts to insurmountable brainwashing for the majority of the population. It feels hopeless, but there are some things that can be done. Obviously, we shouldn’t buy anything from companies that use images like these to sell their products, but that takes some real effort. I don’t even know that it’s possible to only buy products from companies that treat women like human beings, but we can choose the lesser of many evils when we make purchases. One of the most effective techniques I’ve seen of calling attention to the influence of advertising is vandalism (too bad Shepard Fairy turned out to be the sell-out of the century), and I practice it frequently by defacing misogynistic ads on bus stops, in subway stations, and on posters at construction sites. Those are just two ideas, and I’d be happy to hear more. It’s likely going to take a lot of time and effort, but the more people become aware of the influence of advertising on our images of ourselves, the more likely it will be to change.

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