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Monthly Archives: November 2010

Unrelated things with the same ridiculous underpinnings

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It’s been a busy holiday week here at P&P. So, forgive the lack of updates.  As you are well aware, we are a perpetual outrage machine, and thus, I feel it my duty to poke at a couple of things.

First, read this disappointing pile of crap from Jezebel, then this nice run down of problems with the TSA from Shakesville.

What do these things have to do with each other, other than being cynical-making mildly infuriating bullshit?

Leaving aside all the utter bullshit fuckery about the monolith that is “the French,” of course.

Well, glittering readerati, I think that what we’re seeing with the TSA, is a security theater enactment of what Douchey McDoucheass dreams of between men and women (notice that gender fluid, trans and LGB people just don’t fucking exist for him. Not in Paris, not anywhere. Sweet) which is to say:

The TSA is offering you, traveler who just needs to get to wherever you were going, two shitty choices. You might not want to consent to either a dose of radiation or a genital groping, but these are your choices. You have choices– you can then make a decision.

You see what I did there?

Do you see it? DO YOU?

So a decision without consent–many white dudes are not finding it very empowering, oddly enough.

Women who are being harassed on the street can make a decision too, because, as we are constantly warned, one wrong move and we could end up raped. And if we do, it will be all our fault. Always.

So we make a decision, a decision that doesn’t involve consent. We have to carefully decide whether to be confrontational, whether we can tell the offender to fuck off and swim in a vat of boiling acid, or whether we have to smile a smile that is always cracking around the edges, and give the fucker what he wants, which is attention, and our precious fucking time. We might have to make a decision about having sex with a guy even when we don’t necessarily want to, because the alternative might hurt much worse. This is what enthusiastic consent is all about. It’s about making sure that people are not forced to choose between two painful, shitty choices.

I am always baffled by the incredible amount of stubborn douchery involved when men claim that street harassment is just a compliment, that unwelcome touch is just a compliment, that it’s no big deal, that women should be flattered not threatened. How much intelligence does it require to imagine what it would be like to be a “permenant object of desire” to not be able to just go out into the world and move about unremarked upon, treated as a public appliance.

Street harassment and groping are on the same spectrum as rape– and that means that they are not about sex and attraction, they are about power. They are also about proving oneself as a man, demarcating oneself as all that is not a woman, in front of other men. I’m not pulling this out of my ass, plenty of sociologists have published plenty of work that supports this.

You also have to believe that women are fucking stupid to say that we can’t tell the difference between a compliment and a threat. We have been trained to do this our entire lives. We live at rape threat levels yellow to flaming red depending on the level of privilege that we enjoy.

There are these interesting cultural enclaves for the mutual grinding, groping and flirting– they are called bars and dance floors. And even there, don’t be an ass.

If someone is so drunk that they don’t know what the fuck they are doing don’t have sex with that person. This is really, really not difficult. In fact, people who aren’t huge flaming buckets of shit don’t seem to struggle with this.

Consent is about agency, dignity and autonomy. All shit that this random dude is probably fuming FUMING about in re the TSA and their asinine demands that you just “make a decision!”  in the name of protecting people from crap that has already happened. In the end, it’s about the exercise of power, and reminding the unwashed masses (and the ladies!) who is in charge.

The sad fact that this douchenozzle can’t connect the dots speaks to how limited his imagination is, and how very little he believes that women are full on people.

Oh America. You voted for the Douche-raft.

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Yup. Did you know that a group of sea lions is called a raft?

And did you know that the paycheck fairness act was totally fricking blasted down because we the people decided a bullshit obstructionist nightmare would be AWESOME for the next couple of years?

Pictured: A bullshit lady-hatin' obstructionist douche-raft.

The paycheck fairness act would have, you know, enforced the Equal Pay act. Now, I’m sure that most of the douches who voted against it were just doing their douchey obstructionist thing, but for serious, I bet the misogyny tasted good.

Turns out that misogyny tastes like fish. And much like fish, it is toxic.

Why do we need this? Well, transparency is a good thing. Transparency works quite nicely in the public sector, keeping favoritism and other kinds of office politics from getting out of hand. Also, women are told left right and center to be better negotiators, to ask for raises, to be ballsy!!!11!!1 And then not given the first hint of a real number from which to negotiate.

The secrecy around pay in America encourages a culture of LALALALALAA I CAN”T HEEEAR YOU!! about the gender wage gap, and keeps people in general from asking too many questions about the fairness of the pay that they are receiving.  Wages have been stagnant for over 20 years, while corporate profits have gone fucking bonkers, even during our recession. I’m sensing some kind of correlation here. I’m also picking up some vibrations from the whiskers of our ruling douche-raft— they tell me that lack of transparency contributes somehow to a culture where the top 1% can earn what the bottom 120 million combined earn. For doing what exactly?

I’m sorry, but unless you’ve simultaneously cured all disease, corrected all pollution, created world peace, eliminated all poverty, and given all creation one huge orgasm, you are not worth 120 million other peoples labor. Ever.

Nobody is, don’t take it personally *cough* Koch bros *cough*

Point being, women get the short fucking end of that bottom 120 million. Women of color get an even shorter end of the short end. Disabled, queer or transwomen get an even shorter end of that itty bitty tiny little shrift. Information is power, and leverage. Especially for people working at companies like say, wal mart. These people need this information because they, more than anyone else need to be able to agitate for a living wage, they need to be able to see the gross disparity and perhaps…unionize?

OH NOES! Workers, like mushrooms and elves, should be kept in the dark and fed a steady diet of that which comes from sea lions rear blow holes and also laser printers rather than the mint.

Equal pay for equal work is revolutionary, and I suppose terrifying if you are a CEO who effectively delegated every single thing all year except the intense and stressful work of taking huge risks with other peoples money, shipping jobs offshore and then paying foreign workers for shit, doing lines of sweet colombian blow, and sexually harassing your executive assistant. Lawsey, the labor, it is sisyphian. I fucking tell you what.

If that dude as getting equal pay for equal work, he would top out at stock options and thus be held accountable for playing fast and loose with money not his own. It must be a fucking terrifying idea, having your unlimited privilege checked even slightly.

Anyway, it’s all moot. Because this douche and his raft of douche buddies has no intention of doing anything that will accomplish anything for anybody who is not also part of the raft of douches.

Pictured: A douche who will now proceed to fuck you over, as much as possible.

I would write an angry fishless missive to the douche from my home state who voted against paycheck fairness, but I don’t think I could handle the standard barking yarfing man-sea-lion-splanation I would receive in response.

Basically, at this point, the douche-raft is in power, and their terrifying corporate overlords intend to keep us all down.

Pictured: terrifying corporate overlords who sell themselves as all cute and then bite off your fucking leg.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

So Pepper and Paprika could be renamed “Liberal Feminism and shit as portrayed by cute animals” and that would be totally accurate. I would like to point out that I am in no way defaming Sea Lions by making them the representative face of the Tea Bagging Republicans. They defamed themselves by looking so fucking smug. Also, we have struck a layout with which we are both pleased, and which shall, barring sea-lion invasion remain our look for many years to come.

Sometimes, the golden mean is bullshit.

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Hi!

I am grouchy today.

Oh.So.Grouchy.

I woke up on the wrong side of the bed, staggered out into the cruel light of day blinking like an owl, and proceeded to bite Mr. Lee Hales’s head off and then feel bad about it, apologize and feel even more miserable. Things have continued in much the same vein. Woo!

Me, today.

So, in my supreme ultra-grouchy state of mind (exacerbated by the fucking snow. Fuck you, snow!) I’ve decided to talk about something that annoys me. Exceedingly.

No, it’s not when people say “poisonous spider” when they mean “venomous spider” (poison you eat or otherwise ingest via skin or mucous membrane contact, venom is delivered by an animal, so unless you’ve just eaten a venomous spider, poisonous is wrong wrong wrongity wrong please for the love of god spread the word. It’s my biggest language/biology peeve. Yay derail!), although that ranks high on my list of linguistic and basic understanding of how things work boondoggles.

Oh God, don't eat me!

No, it’s when people make bullshit “both sides” equivalencies, also wrapped up with “the truth lies somewhere in the middle.”

Look, sometimes, there are two sides, and both sides are equally valid. This is true whenever an argument of taste occurs. This is also true when people are arguing their personal bodily experiences. Say two women are pro-choice, and one is arguing that abortion is no big deal because she was able to make a snap decision, had no regrets and it was all fine. The other argues that while she wants all abortion to be safe and legal, it wasn’t an easy choice for her, she did struggle with it, but still, it needs to be available to everyone. Both sides are equally valid.

You know where both sides become not equally valid? When people are privileging homophobic bullshit that ruins years of other people short lives on the earth. Say,  like this.

Yeah, I’m going to go out on a god damned limb here and say– there are not two equally valid sides when these conditions exist:

a. one side hates the other and wants to marginalize and oppress them.

and

b. the side receiving all of the hate presents no verifiable threat to society

Mild discomfort with a slight loss of privilege does not in fact count as a verifiable threat to society. Being squicked out by the idea of what someone may or may not get up to in their bedroom, does not count as a verifiable threat to society. Non-adherence to rigid gender norms does not count as a verifiable threat to society.

These are issues that do not have two equally valid sides. The answer is no, you really aren’t entitled to go around spewing your bigoted hateful opinion consequence free, if your opinion is causing great suffering. Srsly. I’m playing the worlds tiniest fucking violin for you.

These are also issues where the golden mean is not a useful tool for resolving things. You can’t insist that gay people be a little more straight (because diety-of-your-choice knows, straight homphobes aren’t going to relax about it and act a little less straight), you can’t demand that people of color just whiten up, or that women just you know, get less liberated. And also that everyone conform to a clear and never discomfiting set of gender norms.

The insistence that things would be fine (for the kyriarchy) if we would just do this, is bullshit. Nope, sorry, kyriarchy-bob, it just won’t work for people to deny their identities, you know, just a little bit, just enough so that you feel comfortable.

This is also why I have a problem equivocating conservative and progressive perspectives. One tent has room for everybody, and is cool with everybody privately doing what makes them happy so long as it doesn’t harm other people, and one tent does not. These tents are not the same.

People love the both sides fallacy. LOVE IT. I think it’s because it gives the both sides arguer a sense of objective distance from whatever the fray is. It makes them feel wise and rational, floating on a cloud of disinterest high above it all.

Except that no-one is objective, no-one is distant, and being disinterested is only a choice so long as you have the privilege to make that choice. There are some arguments that neutrality is a perfectly acceptable stance for– blue versus purple, ritz versus saltine, any kind of bullshit music argument. And some that you just can’t, because neutrality isn’t really possible. Neutrality, in these cases, is just a really cowardly way of supporting the powerful. There are some cases where the golden mean is probably a reasonable solution, where meeting in the middle makes sense, like, say, housework or other shared labor responsibilities.

But then, there are issues where the price of compromise is someones life and identity and safety and agency and self determination– you know, their right to pursue happiness unimpeded. Little piddly shit like that. These are not issues upon which we can compromise. So lets just stop letting people get away with this conciliation and compromise (but only if it’s in my favor) bullshit.

Lets stop acting as if batshit crazy is a valid counterpoint, as if “buttsex makes me feel funny and WILL RUIN THE WORLD!” is a valid argument in response to “people who love  each other should have the right to get married and experience all of the attendant privileges of marriage.”

Lets stop acting as though “bitches be falsely reporting!” is a valid point against “we really need to do something about the low number of rape cases which are reported and prosecuted.”

Seriously. We can’t stop the damn media from engaging in this, but we can call it out when we see it, and we can certainly use our collective clout to logic-shame people into taking their bullshit and slinging it around where the rest of us don’t have to hear about it.

And then I’ll be all:

Me, the day that people stop falsely equivocating garbage and cake.

None of us can wash our hands of this

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So. This isn’t going to be an incohate rant, or a fun quirky post.

No.

Let’s start with this.

This is objectively awful. It is almost too awful to process. It would be awful if there were one. 1,250 in the last 7 years is… I don’t know. I don’t even know what that is.

But I do know some other things. Not the least of which is that none of us can wash our hands of this. None of us.

Without knowing the details of the individual cases, I already guess that a high percentage of these children will be children of color. Because I also know that people of color are likely to live and work in areas with high rates of poverty and crime, which, in it’s hideous turn leads to a dearth of law enforcement involvement when a child initially goes missing. This is our disposable underclass. We show these people, these families and their children how little we value them in every way. This is just one of the ugliest facets of the ugliness that we have institutionalized. This is the consequence of institutionalized racism, and the increasing gap between the rich and poor. As that gap grows, the narrative that poor people are lazy, are stupid, are inferior, simply refuse to pull themselves up out of poverty, are spending our tax dollars willy nilly and ruining society gives people a reason not to care. Devaluing these people makes them vulnerable to every kind of abuse. Fullstop. No excuse.

I also know that this is a symptom of rape culture. Which, in it’s hideous turn, is a symptom of the patriarchy. I know this because rape culture frames sex as “real” when it is something done by the powerful to weak. Because this is not an illness which rises in isolation, or a genetic abberation– that there is a market for this means that we have embedded this idea of what sex is, what power is, so deeply into our culture that far too many adults, far too many of them men, are willing to enact that narrative.

There is no way for me to say that I am disconnected from what happened to these children. Because I live in society, because I am engaged in as well as immersed in the structures which perpetuate the environment that allows this to occur. This is not about blame, or fault, but it is about responsibility.

Feminists say “the personal is political.” It sure is. The structural is personal too.

I want to say something wise. I want to say, to refuse one’s culpability in the structures of one’s society is to create opression. It is to oppress, with the best intentions in the wide world. Good intention without action isn’t enough. Turning inward, becoming insular, closing the ranks and refusing to reach out, to watch out, to fucking see– is to build a foundation for a perpetual motion machine of abuse, and exploitation, slavery, rape and torture.

I want to say that “I got mine, fuck y’all” should be the most shameful, unacceptable philosophy in the world.

But in the end, all that I can say is that I don’t have clean hands. That nothing is disconnected, that we are all linked to each other, across the wide world, that when we disavow our responsibilities to each other, we cheapen ourselves in the bargain.

And then I want to say– I’m so sorry. I am so, so sorry. Someone should have been watching, and watching out for you. And someone should have made sure that that someone was watching, and on and on in a chain straight back to me, and everyone I know.

I’m glad that they were rescued. I am profoundly, terribly sad that they had to be rescued. I am profoundly sad that so many of these kids have no homes to go back to.

So, now, a few years late and a lot of dollars short, please, if you can, lobby for more and better resources for struggling families, for state programs to help and protect children, for better law enforcement, for people to give a damn.

Donate to Children of the Night.

Donate to The Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

And don’t forget. If you have privilege, exercise it.

 

 

Angel Be Gone (pt. 1)

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Caravggio: "WTF, who the hell are you?" Angel: ... Caravaggio: "Whatever, Angel, giant moth I don't even know, just be gone!"

I have so much writing to do this weekend. So.Much. In multiple languages even. So I thought that I would warm up by gracing bombing the P&P readerati with the first part of the first book of my first awful paranormal romance series. Take the romancelandia express to Filbert Cove ya’ll. Cringe at the awesomely bad writing.

Desmond Duma stood on the lighthouse platform watching the tumbling blue pacific with eyes squinted against the last light of the dying afternoon. He rested his forearms against the slippery white railing, noticing the rust that was creeping back again after he had last painted it.

Everything, he thought, tended to break down.

He stretched and adjusted the lighthouse signal for the evening, and sipped his home brewed birch beer from a battered green thermos, noticing the final bitter note that he had tampered with the recipe to eliminate was still as (author’s note: in the great tradition, I will now use a ridiculous, inappropriate word here) rowdy as ever. He would have to adjust it further.

He turned away from the sea with a final sweeping glance, and made his way down the damp spiral stairs into the gloaming. He walked up the gravel path from the small spit of land where the lighthouse stood on instinct, like a seagull swooping down to catch a fish in the water. He had made the walk so many times that his body carried him even when his mind dreaded going home for the night.

The house was an old craftsman, with a gracious sweep of sodden lawn and roses between the stately fir trees. It seemed to sit back a little from the ocean, the lighthouse, and even the drive, as though it too had turned it’s back on the world. It gleamed feather white in the dusk, and the darkness from it’s many french windows gave it a haunted look. Only the sitting room window was lit, and he could see the dim silhouette of his mother Melisande, watching the sea.

He shrugged out of his green windbreaker and kicked off his boots, leaving them in the shadowed entry before walking toward the sitting room, flipping light switches as he went.

“Mom, weren’t you going to the movies with Cecilia tonight?” He felt desperate in the face of her quiet, intractable withdrawal from the outside world. Ever since his brothers had moved out of the house, it was as if Melisande had decided that she could finally give herself wholly to the sorrow that had infrequently visited her during their childhood– she had stopped trying.

She looked up at him from her rocking chair, a woman in her late fifties, still lovely, with fine blonde hair, still worn shoulder length, and deep brown eyes, verging on hazel, in a face that betrayed her great beauty beneath the fog of sadness that seemed to surround her.

“Oh, I really just feel like staying in tonight. It’s chilly, and you know how I hate driving in the dark” she answered with a sweet smile.

“But mom, you haven’t been to town in weeks! You need to get out of the house!” He gestured toward the lights of Filbert Cove, twinkling in the distance.

“Desmond, I’ve told you before, I’m tired. I’m old! I am happiest here, with you, in my garden and home.” she spoke with a quiet, irrefutable kind of dignity, reverting to the voice of authority he remembered so well from his boyhood.

“Mom, you’re not even 60! I’m just worried that you aren’t as happy as you say. You never talk to your old friends, you don’t enjoy your books and movies anymore…” he trailed off,  afraid that he had overstepped the line with his outburst.

“Oh pish tosh! I raised the three of you, that’s enough to make any woman old before her time. Really, Desmond. I’m fine. All of my friends are as boring as I am, they just want to talk about their ill health and collections of porcelain frogs! Now, there’s a casserole in the oven. You’d better go dish up before it burns.” He recognized the abrupt subject change for the dismissal it was, and knew that any further attempts at shaking her out of her shell would be met with silence and recriminations.

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Sandra Jejeune nervously brushed her wavy brown hair back from her face,  sliding her art tote out of the back seat of her car, and steeling herself to enter the much-gossiped about Duma house. She had been surprised when Desmond had come to her office and requested that she come visit his mother, to try and interest her in art lessons. She had moved to Filbert Cove from the city, to try and establish an art therapy practice in a more rural area. She knew the Duma brothers by reputation, rather than experience. Desmond was the perpetual sorrow of the single women whom he stubbornly ignored. The rumor was that he had never had a girlfriend besides some high school flings. She couldn’t help a sweeping up-and down glance at him where he stood framed in the doorway, from behind the safety of her sunglasses of course. He was of medium height, slim hipped, with thick dark hair and cheekbones to die for. His eyes were deep chocolate brown and his dark brows had a slant that could be amused or annoyed at a moments notice. Sandra found his full mouth a fascinating contrast to the strength of his jaw.

He noticed her staring, and glowered.

And to Life I Say…

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Yes, I made this. Yes, it sucks. No, I don't really care.

 

 

 

 

No, I WON’T Contextualize My Rant!

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My laptop cannot detect a hard drive. I do not believe this is a good sign.

And this is why I’m writing from the library, sucking down terrible, dreg-clotted coffee and listening to Local H while cursing all the forces conspiring to annoy the living shit out of me. Hi, I’m Paprika, and welcome to my White Whine.

But whatever. I’m cranky, and like Pepper, I too am frustrated by the notion that I should have to rise above asshattery. So let’s commence with the bitching.

See, I kind of snapped during class last Wednesday, and I don’t remember what I said, but I think it was something along the lines of OH MY GOD DID YOU SERIOUSLY JUST SUGGEST THAT SEGREGATION CAN BE A GOOD THING? DID I ACTUALLY HEAR YOU SAY “WHAT’S WRONG WITH LIVING APART, I MEAN, WE CAN BUILD THEM HOMES”? DID THOSE WORDS ACTUALLY MOVE FROM THE DARKEST, MOST BIGOTED PART OF YOUR BRAIN TO MY ANGRY, ANGRY EARS? ARE PEOPLE REALLY THIS INCREDIBLY THOUGHTLESS? DID YOU JUST WIN BIGOTRY BINGO?

Or something like that. Reputable sources contend that my rant was perfectly within accepted social boundaries. But here’s what I realized—

I don’t care if you’re ignorant. I don’t care if you grew up in a state that’s 89.1% white. I don’t care if you were raised in a glass cabinet in a Swedish furniture store on Baptist Boulevard in the heart of Caucasia—if you cannot see the problems with segregation, you are a racist piece of shit. If you are literally unable to mentally place yourself in the position of the oppressed, you are an asshole. And I don’t have to be nice to you. I don’t have to look at things from your side. Because your side?—has absolutely no merit.

Because what you have just admitted to is an inability to see people of color (or women, or whatever) as human.

And because while I respect your right to have any damn opinion you want, I do not have to respect your opinion.

And you know, I don’t care if saying that makes me sound self-righteous. I really don’t. Because ultimately, my own approval means more to me than yours. I’ve accepted that some people just aren’t going to like me—like springs1, because I don’t care about when she gets her ranch.

The point is, I don’t owe you intellectual nurturing just because I’m female—and if I were male, you’d probably never ask.