In defense of the sanctimonious women's studies set || First feminist blog on the internet

Bedroom Art

After the Great Cleaning of 2005, I realized that my bedroom was unforgivably bare. The only things in there were my bed, a dresser, a hamper, a lamp, and an alarm clock. While I’m all for living simply, I felt like I was sleeping in a jail cell.

The vintage clothing store I wrote about earlier this year, is going out of business, partially because of a lack of customers and partially for a lack of time. I went in this week to find their going-out-of-business sale. I wanted to chat with the owner for a bit, but my shopping buddy was limping around on a bad knee. Long, rambling story short, I bought three framed pictures of children on park benches doing kid things.

Does this picture not rock? A little girl knitting in the great outdoors, a ball of yarn spilling out of her bag? Awesome!

If you don’t like it, keep your mouth shut.

Something about the other two are a bit disturbing. They look like big-eyed, big-headed emo kids who are, shall we say, “on the nod.” Peaceful and at the same time disturbing. I’ll try to get non-glaring pictures if anyone is interested.

At least my room feels less like a jail cell.

Derrick Jensen, Here I Come

I’m off to see Derrick Jensen in Ohio at Antioch College tomorrow night, so blogging will be light over the next two days. Because Jensen is one of my ideological heroes, I’m trying hard not to pee my pants. Thrilling.

What I’ve Been Doing Since I Haven’t Been Blogging

Substitute as a para for a gaggle of kindergarteners. Reconsider teaching. Reconsider taking Ethan out of Montessori next year and contemplate applying for a scholarship so he may attend kindergarten there. Feel proud that child is so damn smart without a minor push from any of us. Remember birthday is in two weeks and dread the annual birthday malaise. And, oh yeah, Valentine’s Day. Stupid holidays. Sleep on the couch all afternoon and never quite recover from unplanned nap. Bitch about the grit on the floors that is now embedded in my feet. Try to list my goals from this month through the rest of the year.

Resolve issues with ASL teacher, who turns out to be a fantastic instructor. Fall asleep on parents’ couch after dinner. Get lecture about incurable insomnia. Grumble. Go home. Begin thinking about the garden, how it will be planted and where in the yard the sunflowers will go, and how obscenely gaudy the ancient neighbors will find them. Feel pleased. Order egregious amount of vegetable and sunflower seeds from Burpee. Wonder where the hell I’m going to get the money for gardening tools. Finish math homework with little sweat or tears. Be glad I am not blogging as the dial-up connection has been painfully slow. Have horrible nightmare that disrupts the first opportunity for uninterrupted sleep in weeks.

Attend first school observation. Make awesome tortellini concoction that if distributed among the nations would inspire world peace. Buy straight needles to knit both sleeves of Klaralund at the same time. Mend two sweaters, darn a pair of socks, start a wearable everyday knitted hat in green. Lament blogging break because Pablo has been awfully cute and it is the day for cat blogging. Finish everyday green hat. Decide it’s too short, cast on at the bottom and begin knitting a fold-up brim. That night, watch an actual film, one that transcends “movie” status by having good actors, writing, and cinematography, but fall asleep halfway through. Dream about beautiful Cuban actor.

Clean the hell out of my house. Cleanest it’s been since I moved. Boxes from moving six months ago are finally all unpacked and it appears a yard sale is needed. Remove a Pablo-sized hairball from under the sofa. Gag. Also recover a transparent red Lego from a dark corner that inspires Ethan to make a wide array of emergency vehicles from Legos all afternoon. Pablo gets in on the Lego action. Thank whomever that both are busy enough for me to rest. Make grocery list for next week. Plan to cook all day Sunday. Pray for the good health of the inventor of my second-hand generic Crockpot.

Crap. It’s Superbowl Sunday, isn’t it? Roll out of bed to answer the phone, to hear that an old, fond acquaintance of mine (the scariest-looking teddy bear/I’ll-kill-you-in-a-minute gay man I’ve ever met) is in the hospital in a drug-induced coma because a friend of his thought it was really funny that he was drinking antifreeze during a night of excessive drunkenness and didn’t stop him. Fucking idiot. Go to the hospital and buy him a small token to let him know I’m thinking of him. Wonder about something Dru once said about getting through a time period of friends’ self-destructiveness. Wonder when this time will end. Wish people had some sense and that drug and alcohol addicitions were biologically impossible.

Lay around. Have sweatpants day. Go to local pet store where I am asked by the badly tattooed clerk if I have a long-haired cat. When I inquire why he asks, he points to the shoulder of my jacket covered in a carpet of cat hair. Curse. Eat homemade stew. Finish watching “City of God.” Love it despite movie malevolence.

Attend full day of classes. Collapse on couch. Take this quiz:

You Are the Very Gay Tinky Winky!

Purple with a gay pride symbol… how could he not be gay?
And that red purse is divalicious!

Read “Speak” (and part II) during lunch at my daily hangout. Briefly excuse myself to bathroom to cry. Go home after final class. Cut my own hair. Collapse on couch. Wander to the basement to gaze at pile of laundry. Go back upstairs to lay on couch. Sigh as E drives Lego emergency vehicles over my reclined body.

Another sweatpants day – the local school corps appear to be okay on subs. Knit a few rows on Klaralund. Pet Pablo. Count nine days until another disappointing birthday rolls around. Relent and begin blogging again.

Fin: Skully Bag

I finally finished the Skully bag tonight after fighting with it for at least two months, a project undertaken to use up the masses of super-thick wool I had from a previous failed project. This is a picture of the final blocking process – very precise, as you can see.

I basically made a massive Booga bag with an attached strap that can be lengthened or shortened as needed, knitted a large pocket in red for the front, and then made an intarsia pocket using a skull pattern I found on the internet. I felted them all seperately, sewed them together, then very, very lightly felted them as a whole piece.

It’s kind of raggedy-looking, but big enough to carry around books or knitting projects. And it’s done. Done. One more thing to check off on the to-do list.

In other news, I cleaned the hell out of my kitchen tonight after making more chili and a large spinach and mushroom lasagna. Ethan topped it off by making blueberry and banana nut muffins. I don’t want to cook a stitch this week. In my quest for cheap, healthy living I’ve decided to try and cook ahead, using good but inexpensive foods that are easy to reheat throughout the week. I’m freezing the chilis and soups that I make for later. In addition, I found that at the grocery store I can have large, single-serve custom salads made for about three dollars a pop. It sounds expensive, but I never eat the salad stuff I buy separately and it beats paying five to ten dollars for a salad in a campus restaurant.

The most important thing is that this method saves me a whole lot of time. Time is something that is repeatedly brought up with Half Changed World’s government Thrifty Food Plan experiment (Week 3 of the experiment has been posted). If I had more time, things around here would look and feel much different. If anything, I’d occasionally catch a few winks that have nothing to do with the flu.


I finally completed the splash page for Krista, thereby ending a long web project I undertook for her but was too tired to finish. Luckily Krista has awesome taste in graphics – funnily enough, she hadn’t noticed her penchant for bird pictures until I pointed it out to her.

A few more tweaks at her request and that makes one more thing I can cross off the to-do list.

The Human Body is a Strange Thing

I went to my friend Lori’s house yesterday to sit around and watch crap TV. We watched a bunch of reality shows and shows about reality shows, drank a couple of glasses of wine and ate some homemade chili. Some other people stopped by and we all watched “Bullworth” together, lamenting the lack of honesty in contemporary politics. None of us felt very well, but it being a free night for me with the little one at his dad’s, I had big plans for the evening – go home, clean up the house, take a proper shower, and call some friends for a nice, chill night of board games.

And then I woke up. It was dark and I thought for a moment that I was in my own bed. Then I realized I was laying flat on Lori’s futon. What time is it? I checked my phone and it was 4am. What the hell had happened? When I called Lori to try and figure things out, she answered her phone upstairs in bed. She too had passed out before midnight.

I got my stuff together and drove the two blocks home, feeling progressively more ill the whole way home, pissed off that I had wasted a perfectly good Friday night sleeping on someone’s crappy futon. My head pounded and my stomach churned. Once I got inside I ran for the bathroom and threw up for the next two hours.

I finally crawled into bed at seven, fell asleep at eight, and woke up at eleven feeling ab-so-lutely fantastic!

My eyes don’t hurt, my knee feels better, the headaches are gone, and I’ve accomplished more today than I have all week. If all I have to do to feel like a healthy human being is sleep on that stupid futon and have a two-hour vomit session, bring it on.

I haven’t felt this well in weeks.

The Dingo Ate My Baby

Nope, not thinking up a title.

The Ten Worst Corporations of 2004: Unfortunately the “no-repeat rule forbids otherwise-deserving companies – like Bayer, Boeing, Clear Channel and Halliburton” keep them off this year’s list, where they belong.

Arianna Huffington offers the Political Oscars of 2005. I have only seen one single, solitary movie nominated for the Oscars, so I’m not much in a caring mood. However,

Creative Writing:
Best: Charlie Kaufman for his mind-bending screenplay, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.
Worst: Alberto Gonzales for his morality-bending memo calling the Geneva Conventions “quaint” (a.k.a., “Eternal Torment of the Enemy Mind”).

was good enough for me.

There is one more explanation for why I might be feeling ill. After last night I’m fairly sure I have bronchitis, and Ethan woke up with morning with a vomiting flu. Yet it doesn’t explain the fall I took last night that left a massive bruise on my left knee. I’m tired of everyone telling me I look and sound like shit, should get more sleep, or take it easy. There are things that have to be done around here that either no one else can do or should do, or things that simply have to be done on my own, like school work, going to classes, and the new job.

Someone actually suggested to me that I get a hobby. Holy shit, Batman! I have hobbies! What do you call knitting, blogging, and running? These keep me sane!

If anyone wants to spring for a live-in maid (with whom I can live in peace without that pesky power-based relationship), perhaps a cook that also grocery shops, eyeglasses, or a long vacation (that preferably isn’t in a mental health institution), then we can talk about all the rest I should be getting.

More on all this later if anything comes from the doctor’s visit I’m supposed to be making this afternoon.

Letter to the Editor, And Other Things

I fired off a letter to the editor this evening after stewing over this information.

I read with disappointment that the amendment to the Indiana Constitution against gay marriage was again coming to the forefront of state politics. I was even more disappointed to find that the state legislature was considering two related bills, one that bans gays and lesbians from adopting or fostering children and one that revokes partner benefits from the state’s universities.

Of all the time, money, and energy that could be spent at the state level, why is homosexuality, of all things, the trendy political target?

Indiana is taking great strides to move backwards, and in the meantime wonders why the Brain Drain of our young, successful college graduates is so high and our national reputation is so dismal. Hoosiers will do well to remember that gays and lesbians are among our finest assets and that a queer dollar is still green.

A legitimate government is one that represents all it’s people, not a select few.

It was hastily written but it pithy enough to make a point, I think. And yes, I used some of your words. Y’all are good.

I haven’t been feeling well lately. My poor sleeping abilities are catching up with me, especially with this new evil schedule, and my eyes feel constantly strained. It’s time for glasses but I can’t afford the initial cost all at once. If I spend too much time in front of a computer screen, read a book, or knit with finer gauged yarn, the dizziness, nausea, and headaches set in. To top it off, I have yet to fully shed the cold that killed me last week. Thus, keeping up the blog has become a chore — quick cut and paste jobs done in short spurts to avoid feeling sick. I’m trying to finish knitting a sock, but had to put it down tonight and lay around in the dark. And further, reading for my classes is getting close to unbearable.

My sub-para job was easy but draining. I was reminded today that I am mother to the best five-year-old I have ever known. Not like that’s biased or anything.

Wear It, Bitch: Musings on Beauty Culture and the Femme Feminist

Several years ago, Anne leveled an accusation at me that straight pissed me off. She said I was vain.

Me? Vain? Pshaw. I mean, I was only spending an hour on my daily beauty routine and maybe two hours for a really big night. Perhaps twenty or so hours a week on the stair machine and the weight benches at the YWCA. Vain? For real. There was an art to this package.

But the more I thought about it and shucked the initial repulsion of identifying myself with a culture I despised, the more I realized she was correct. I was spending an unbelievable amount of my time maintaining an image I didn’t value. I took it as a challenge, stopped blow-drying my hair, cut the makeup down to three products, and cut the shower routine down to soap, shampoo, conditioner, and a razor (and most of the time, not even the razor). I also cut back on the time at the gym, partially because the YWCA doubled their rates and I could no longer afford it. I substituted an at-home yoga and pilates routine which soon faded for more lifestyle-exercise activities.

To my genuine surprise, I didn’t look much different.

In fact, I looked healthier and more well-rested.

I never gave up the skirts and heels that I took up during a self-imposed pant boycott, partially because I like them and partially because nearly no one my age wears anything remotely similar except to job interviews. But I’ll tell you this, a skirt is far more comfortable than pants on most days.

I’m late to this article, a response to the lawsuit in which the court found that women can be fired for not wearing enough of, or the right, makeup:

Never again is anyone allowed to give me crap about how women naturally want to adorn themselves with makeup, as if there’s some genetic urge to look fake that’s wended its way here on the sparkly pink path of evolution. This ain’t biology. This is your government, endorsing your corporate lackey’s creepy-ass urge to make me turn my happy, natural face into a twisted parody of comeliness. This is some cosmetics executive getting rich on state-enforced gender norms.

This quote resonated with me as well.

Let’s not get into the question of whether it’s degrading or sexist for women to wear makeup. Sure, it might be for some women – but there are plenty of politically aware girls out there who like to get dolled up. The question here is whether women who are forced to wear makeup when men aren’t can be described as experiencing gender equality. The 9th Circuit’s opinion acknowledged that makeup costs money and takes time, then dismissed this point as “academic.” But if these costs are so insignificant, why not require Harrah’s to pay to keep its female employees looking as if they’d just had a makeover? Maybe the company could even pay these women for the time it takes to keep their faces properly clad.

My defiant nature dictates that anyone who requires me to adhere to a gender-based standard will quickly find me behaving in just the opposite fashion. The pedestal of femininity is not only a high place from which to fall, but I will whip that thing out from under me and hit you with it faster than you can blink. Nothing (nothing!) irritates me more than someone informing me how I or someone like me ought to appear or behave.

The operative term here is “ought.”

The lovely Bitch Ph.D. touches on these points in a completely unrelated post:

Now, by doing all this shit, I recognize that I am being shaped by (and myself contributing to) a system that judges women by how they look, that burdens us temporally and economically with adhereing to a fairly narrow standard…

At the same time, I do speak out about the falsehoods inherent in these systems. Should I walk the walk as well as talk the talk and refuse to play the game at all? Should I refuse to wear stylish clothing, refuse to spend $50 on a haircut, refuse to consider my appearance, eschew vanity? Doing so would, on one level, be consistent with my beliefs. But not entirely, because frankly, I enjoy this shit. I enjoy it when my colleagues whisper, “fantastic purse!” or “we were talking earlier about how great your shoes are!” after a meeting. I take pleasure in compliments, and I like it when people find me attractive. I’m not interested in a revolution where I can’t dance, and I think there is not a goddamn thing wrong with enjoying pleasure and flirting. I also, of course, reserve the right to schlep around and look like crap on a given day, and I’m not going to play the game of running other women down, and frankly I go through periods where I am more or less femmey (right now I’m in a femmey phase), and I’m cool with that too.

Because frankly, even while I can criticize the system, even while I can bitch about the beauty standard and point out the constructedness of gender and all of that, I am also well aware that I do live in that system. We all care about what we look like, even if the look we choose to project is “I don’t care about what I look like” or “fuck your fascist beauty standards” or “combat boots kick ass.” I can pull those looks off, too, and sometimes I do. But it is a fact that, if I stand up and identify myself as a feminist, the fact that I am femmey, the fact that I am married and have a kid, the fact that I have a Ph.D., gives my words a certain kind of weight.

In my unbiased opinion, the words of a femme feminist help, in some unenlightened circles, to defy the stereotypical feminist image. This notion in itself is inherently irritating — while my words are rarely different than, and rarely more poignant than, most feminists, the messenger sometimes makes the difference.

One of my goals here on the blog has been to mix the personal and political to an indefinable mush. We cannot easily divorce our politics from our personal experiences thus this has been my experiment in the opposite. I have found readers who have reluctantly begun to stick around and like what I have to say about feminism because something about the rest of my online persona appealed to them, just as I have had people in my tangible life who have approached me for my looks or femmey personality and been turned onto feminism by virtue of my physical persona.

While this wasn’t a conscious effort on my part, I have noticed over time that for some people, especially young women, the acceptance of the belief system and the feminist label are far more acceptable from someone who appears in every other way to be like them (and for young men, from someone physically unthreatening). Sometimes I want to hold them down and wash them of this silliness, but I usually tell carefully crafted stories about my coming out as a feminist at the same time I came out as an unabashed femme.

This may get me some criticism, but I’m not sure I care. As the doctor paraphrased: “I’m not interested in a revolution where I can’t dance.”

Today’s Observations

Because I feel like bitching about my illness:

1. If I see Donald Trump one more time today I will throw something through my television.

2. The chili was excellent, thanks for asking. However, it is probably a good thing I am sleeping alone tonight.

3. I must shave my cat — there is no other solution to The Hair Problem. (and by that, I mean Pablo. Don’t read into this)

4. Finished three books today: A People’s History of the United States, Stolen Harvest, and Nickel and Dimed.

5. No, there will not be a book report. They have been sitting around half-read for well over a month and it was my duty as their owner to read them.

6. My bathtub is absolutely filthy, but taking a bath in it is very close to cleaning it, so that will have to do.

7. Why must I always have a horrendous break out when I get ill? Really.

8. Stephen King’s made-for-TV movies are really bad, but I will watch them anyway.

9. “Anways” is not a word. Neither is “irregardless.” Let’s strike them from the lexicon.

10. No, I do not want the “watch this blonde hottie strip for the camera now!” or “enlarge my penis in ten days!” so please stop soliciting me.

11. I really don’t like those Lysol wipes thingies, but Ethan was so excited that they were on sale at the grocery store that I bought some and he cleaned two whole bathrooms today on his own. And liked it! His next lesson in home maintenance: shoveling the driveway.

Now, back to the dishes and the floors and the hearty expulsion of phlegm.