The War on Terror Part Deux

After writing my post about anti-choicers being anti-American and my post about the subtle fear tactics used to keep women in their place, and after reading L’s description of a Colorado group’s attempt to limit women’s access to abortion as a form of terrorism, I’ve come to the conclusion that women around the world are victims of terrorism of one form or another on an almost daily basis. I think I’ll start my own little one-person War on Terror (which should be about as effective as the one our government is waging) via this blog. It may take a few days, but stay tuned for a series of War on Terror blogs. I may even come up with a cool graphic to go with them (if I can figure out how).

* Update: I’ve been without internet access for a few days. I’ll be getting on this War on Terror ASAP.

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Kahleefohnia is cooler than your state (or country, whatever).

California’s Supreme Court just declared the state’s ban on gay marriage unconstitutional (according to the state’s constitution). (Remember that thing I was saying about judges following the law and their consciences to protect the minority from the tyranny of the majority? This is one case in which that worked properly.) I know California isn’t the first state or country where that has happened, but California also produced most of my favorite bands, all the 80s movies I love so much, and me, so California wins.

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I’m a pro-abortion patriot, and I say anti-choicers are with the terrorists.

Let me start out by urging all pro-choice (or pro-abortion) women and men out there to stop referring to people who want to restrict women’s right to decide what to do with their own bodies as “pro-life.” They made that bullshit name up, and the opposite of it is “pro-death,” which they intended. Also, I think calling them “anti-abortion” is too lenient. Even “anti-choice” might be too generous. I say we just start calling them anti-American. Hey, it’s working for the Republicans. My reasoning is as follows: 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 name of the next Guns ‘n’ Roses double album?). The Supreme Court is an American institution and has been one for much longer than apple pie, NASCAR, or fake Belgian beers, ergo anyone who disagrees with the Supreme Court’s decision is anti-American.

But seriously. It’s time for me to lay out my position on abortion. This is a feminist blog, is it not? I’m pro-abortion. I don’t mean that everyone ought to abort every fetus that happens to lodge itself in the lining of every uterus, but I do mean that my motto is: if there’s any doubt, abort!

What do I mean by this crazy motto of “If there’s any doubt, abort!”? I mean if you are a teenager and are afraid to tell your parents you’re pregnant, if you think you don’t have time or room in your life for a child, if you don’t think your partner will make a good parent, if you can’t stop drinking/smoking/doing blow, if you aren’t sure whether you can afford a child, if you have any doubt at all about whether you want to be a parent, DON’T BECOME ONE, and have the abortion. Trust me, it’s probably best for everyone involved. Sure, there are plenty of people who have had children that they didn’t expect and had things turn out fine (my parents, for example), but there are a lot more people who have had children they ought not to have had and made life hell for both the child and themselves, and there are an awful lot of fuck-ups who have carried drug-addicted babies to term and placed them into the completely fucked child welfare system. (Adoption may be an option for some people, but I’ll have to get into uterus-rental in another post.) Besides, there are too many people on Earth as it is, and we need to be figuring out ways to reduce the population without millions of people having to starve to death, not ways to bring more consumers into the world.

I once had to watch a movie for Chinese class called Gua Sha (which I recommend only for those in second-year Chinese who need practice, or those who love a good unintentional comedy) that highlighted something important about anti-Americans for me. This movie revolves around a Chinese grandfather giving some kind of traditional Chinese medicine to his grandson that left what looked like bruises on his back, a treatment called gua sha (I’ve had it, it’s not a big deal and it doesn’t hurt, nor does it work). After the marks are seen on the boy, child services comes in and takes him away from his parents, who they believe have hurt the child. During court proceedings, the prosecutor asks the boy’s father, “Is it not true that your wife nearly died giving birth to your son, and that the doctor came in to ask you which of them you wished to save?” (Yeah fucking right, I know). And the father replied, “Yes, and I said to save my wife, because we could have another child.” Here’s something that (fictional and essentialized) Chinese people seem to understand that anti-Americans don’t: an adult human being has become a full person and has formed attachments that should be much more painful to sever than those between an as-yet non-existent human being and its parents-to-be. Ask any anti-American what to do in such a situation, and they’d tell you to save the child and let the mother die. People who believe in sin see more potential in a new life than one in which many sins have likely already been committed.

I’m not religious, I think religion is a bunch of tomfoolery that is unfortunately a necessary element of life for many people who find cosmic uncertainties to be more than they can handle. As such, I don’t need to worry about what a dude in Birkenstocks with a Band of Horses beard thinks about when a human life begins. All I have to care about is whether something can live on its own. Until then, it’s not a human being, but rather a growing set of cells that cannot exist or continue to grow without the aid of its host. Therefore, fetuses exist at the pleasure of their hosts, the women in whose uteri they reside.

Anyone who thinks otherwise is anti-American and is probably an al Qaeda sympathizer.

* Update: I knew calling myself “pro-abortion” would get me some unwanted attention, but so far at least three anti-American blogs have linked to me as if they’ve won some kind of prize for finding a pro-choice person willing to “admit” they’re pro-abortion. One of them even called this “the mother of all pro-abortion rants,” which is funny, because it means I’m all about abortion, but I’m also a mother. How odd. All I can say is, thanks for the traffic!

Going outside unsupervised

I like to go places and do things. I’m not sure what my problem is, but I get bored easily and need new experiences constantly to occupy my mind and to entertain myself, which is probably why I like living in big cities and traveling. And those are two things women are often warned not to do, especially (dun, dun, dun) BY THEMSELVES, lest they be raped, killed, molested, stared at funny, etc. I know that the main predisposing factor to being raped is being female, and I know that we live in a world in which women are victimized much, much, much, much, much more often than men are, but that isn’t what I want to talk about right now (I’ll get back to that soon, I’m sure). What I want to talk about right now is the fact that women’s lives are constricted by the mere threat of male malfeasance, and by the threat that engaging in activities that aren’t sufficiently in line with what’s expected of women will result in (oh, no!) spinsterhood.

I like to travel. I’ve been to 31 countries in the last 7 years (no, I’m not counting Canada), all of them by myself, and it seems like every time I’m planning to leave the US, the media, my family, and even some of my friends align themselves into an Axis of Warning in order to keep me from getting on the plane, which nearly works every time. They succeed in scaring me enough to consider NOT going and doing something that I’ll remember for the rest of my life and that will make me a more interesting person. If I listened to movies like Brokedown Palace (which, in addition to trying to scare women off of traveling, sucked worse than Lord of the Rings) and to overblown reports of one in like 9 zillion female travelers being kidnapped or otherwise victimized, I wouldn’t have any of my awesome stories that start with, “Dude, you would not believe what I saw this guy eat/do/stick up his ass in _____.”

And it isn’t just that. Every time I turn around someone is telling me, overtly or implicitly, that I’m taking my life into my hands by living in a major metropolitan area alone and daring to ever exit my triple-bolted apartment door. It seems that if I were to heed the advice explicit and implicit in the news and entertainment media, as well as our culture in general, I’d live with 75 of my armed male relatives in one big house 200 miles from the nearest Post Office and I’d never go outside. Then I’d be safe as hell. As long as none of my 75 armed male relatives was a rapist or anything.

But, were one to move into a house with 75 of her male relatives, she still wouldn’t be safe from being single, that most terrifying of prospects that we women are threatened with by our well-meaning mothers and aunts. I used to be married to a dude who knew when we got married that I’d be traveling 3-4 months a year and had no problem with it, but my aunt was nonetheless constantly telling my mother to warn me that I’d better knock that shit off, stay home, and start having kids lest he leave me for someone who more closely matched her idea of what a married woman ought to be up to (that isn’t what happened). I also keep reading articles about how women are more likely to be killed by terrorists than to “find a husband” past this-or-that age, and about how bad the “odds” are for single women in the city I live in, since there are 100,000 more of them than there are single men.

Is anybody telling dudes any of this bullshit? I know they get the message that if they don’t grow up and make a bunch of money they’ll never land that trophy wife, but are they getting messages from 15 different directions telling them that they need to be afraid, afraid, AFRAID all the fucking time?

Like I said, I know women are more likely to be victimized by men than vice versa, but isn’t part of the goal of rape and violence to push women into a corner and limit their freedom and movement? Aren’t the threats of rape and violence terrorist tactics? Didn’t the president tell us that we shouldn’t let the terrorists win? Alright, I’ll stop joking, but I mean it. Limiting our own lives out of fear of male violence is just as self-defeating as not being aware that the threat exists and failing to take the necessary precautions against it. And so is heeding the bullshit idea that our main objective in life ought to be landing a husband, any husband, and that we ought to tailor our interests and activities toward that, and only that, goal.

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Flirting and dating are for people who like white wine.

I’ve never understood flirting. I don’t mean that I’m unaware of why people do it or how it’s done, but I’ve never been able to do it, nor have I ever wanted to. I’m even fairly oblivious when someone is attempting to flirt with me, to the point that I’ve had friends tell me that I’m immune to innuendo and to the point that someone has to overtly sexually harass me before I notice what they’re up to. I think the reason I’ve never gotten flirting is that to me it seems either gross (an obvious invitation to sex), or dishonest and manipulative, and I’m not too keen on applying any of those three adjectives to myself.

Women don’t have a lot of sources of power in this society outside of their control over whether men get to have sex with them, which means that women often use flirtatious behavior to get attention or to get men to do things. I’m defining flirtatious behavior broadly as any act that is intended to flatter the male ego in an attempt to either get his sexual attention or manipulate him into doing one’s bidding. That means it includes giggling, eyelash-batting, pretending to be inept, pretending to be stupid, pretending to be weak, pretending to be childlike, making unnecessary references to one’s sexuality or to sex in general, purposely and unnecessarily calling attention to one’s appearance and/or clothing (pointing out how cool your boat shoes are notwithstanding), and other sundry varieties of general coyness. Over the course of my life, I’ve watched hundreds of intelligent women exhibit outrageously embarrassing (in my book) behavior in order to get male attention and favors, and it nearly always puts me in a foul mood for one reason: it works.

That means we’ve created ourselves a situation in which the stereotype that men are fools and women are manipulative sex objects is true for the most part. Fucking great. I’m not going to get into a chicken-and-egg thing here about who started this circle of inanity, but it seems pretty obvious that women are expected to exhibit these kinds of behaviors and that the punishment for not playing along is being ignored, called a dyke, whatever. Put simply, not pretending to be a silly little fool comes with consequences. I’d say that I’m personally fairly happy with those consequences, since the kinds of dudes I tend to be willing to talk to aren’t taken in by that sort of behavior and since I’d rather be left alone by the kinds that expect it, but I’m not happy that the situation exists.

So what’s the solution? I vote that women be themselves in all cases and let men figure out how to handle it. I suppose that’s evident throughout this blog; I advocate that we knock off all the “beautifying” bullshit, stop pretending that our sexuality consists of enjoying being used and objectified, stop pretending to be weak and feeble-minded damsels in need of male assistance in everything from deciding what to do with our time to carrying our own shit around, and eschew all of these silly little behaviors that in the short term get us attention and favors, but in the long term feed into the idea that we’re a bunch of sexbots sent here by Heineken to bolster men’s egos and bring them beers. I suppose that might be a tall order for a lot of women. I suppose it might be hard to give up the one form of power some of us (not all of us – remember, you have to be fuckable) have with no guarantee that it’ll be replaced by anything but a lonely and powerless sense of pride and integrity and a glimmer of hope that the world will change to catch up to us. Ah, well. I can hope.

Enough feminist idealism for a minute. All this talking about flirting is making me think about how weird dating is. I have a friend who is dating right now. Just one. Dating at the age of 30 is really weird, isn’t it? I’ve never known anyone who did much dating, and I’ve only been on one date in my life, when I was 13, and it was to go see Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey, which doesn’t count. People from Southern California don’t date, we hang out with someone in a group of other people, get drunk with them a few times, make out one night, and then find out we’ve got a boyfriend/girlfriend. That usually works out for people, since they end up meeting whoever they marry at about the time that shit gets old, sometime between the ages of 22 and 25. But what happens if that doesn’t work out and you end up single again? You end up being 30 or so and being forced to date for the first time in your life, that’s what.

This friend, who I’ll call Heywood, called me one day to discuss the grossness of the idea of dating. Heywood said he’d just gone out on a fourth date with a girl he met at a bar, and that he wasn’t sure if he could handle dating her, since she’s into Jack Johnson and Ozomatli. Imagine that: spending four nights of your life and a fair amount of money only to find out that the person you’ve spent the time and money with/on is into the musical equivalent of having a urine fetish. This highlights the whole problem of dating: you have to hang out with strangers, both of you knowing full well that you have no reason to be in the same room save for the fact that you both considered each other potential sex partners, and try not to let that make you too uncomfortable to talk. Fuuuuck that.

Then there’s the dilemma of where you’re supposed to meet these prospective dates. Bars? Yeah, people who hang out in bars to meet people to date are usually really cool. Work? If you’re into really awkward situations, sure. The grocery store? This isn’t a late-80s yuppie movie. Heywood said maybe he’d meet chicks at Target when he goes shopping for household goods, but how can he be sure they aren’t venturing into the clothing section? Big-box store pseudo-urbanity isn’t cool. If you’re going to buy your clothes at a place that also sells Pepperidge Farm Goldfish crackers, don’t be a poser: go to Costco and get a sweatsuit.

But I digress. It’s pretty much hopeless unless you’re willing to date people you meet on the internet, and I don’t care how “acceptible” online dating services have become; I grew up in the 80s, when only desperate middle-aged women named Carol and fat guys with beards used dating services. Dating websites, although I’ve never been on one, sound pretty rough, and the premise is fairly disgusting. You are on a website contacting strangers, and both of you know that you are a) unable to meet anyone any other way, and b) desperate to be in a relationship, which means c) you have self-esteem problems, as evidenced by the fact that you can’t handle being alone. Either that or one or both of you is there looking for people to have random casual sex with, which is even creepier.


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Rick Ducommon Day

Let me know if you need any tips on how to celebrate the new Fourth of July, Rick Ducommun Day. He’s Canadian, but who cares? I’m not that pumped about anything America’s doing these days, so I’ve been looking for a replacement for the Fourth of July.

Do you remember the movie The ‘Burbs? A few people I know and I used to dress up as Tom Hanks in The ‘Burbs every year for Halloween (an excuse to go to bars in pajamas and bathrobes), but that shit was weak sauce now that I think about it. Remember Art? He was easily the best character in the movie, and he was played by Rick Ducommon, whose birthday is July 3. Since July 4 is an annoying day to try to party on, I think it makes an excellent alternative holiday.

The key to celebrating it is a polo shirt, Madras shorts, boat shoes, canned beer, and extreme suspicion directed at your neighbors. You can light off fireworks if you want, like the crazy old ex-Army guy in The ‘Burbs might do (I don’t want to deprive anyone of lighting off fireworks, which is the most fun one can have), but just make sure you spend at least a quarter of the day theorizing about the illegal and/or immoral activities of a neighbor, preferably with a few of your other neighbors.

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