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It happened for the first time today. I had successfully persuaded my older daughter to shed her clothes for a bath and was negotiating the younger daughter’s diaper when the youngest said something so sweet I wanted my husband to hear it. I walked to the top of the stairs and called him up. As he approached, I noticed my older daughter, naked, flitting about nervously, looking for someplace to hide herself. She didn’t want her father to see her naked. This is the first time she has felt uncomfortable about nudity in all her few years. She dashed into the bathroom. I smiled at her and, without saying anything, I closed the door as my husband came to the top of the steps. My little girl is growing up.

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I did not expect to find a post which discussed whether or not female genital mutilation should be understood through the lens of cultural relativism at feministing.

But there it was. 

A few days later, I came across a blog entry criticizing the attempt of defense lawyers to explain that a man killing his wife should not be considered murder because of cultural relativism. Dawg’s blog gives a great explanation of the concept of cultural relativism and how it was meant to be used. 

There are some commenters and writers over at feministing who would do well to read it.

Do they know how ridiculous they make themselves?

Just hours after posting the previous few blogs after a long pause in blogging activity for various reasons, I attracted the notice of, wait for it, Flamebolt. 

He seems to have confessed to various crimes in his message, including sexual abuse of various children. Wonder if I should pass his message and info to the authorities that be….

A portion of the friendly letter is after the turn.

Where do they come from? 

My husband has been blogging for years and not once, no matter what subject he wrote on, has he received the attention of  the kind of wierdos that are commonplace for virtually every woman blogger I know. Not complaining, just noticing.

Love the way some women, like those at feministing have handled it: they hold awards for the most outlandish in various categories. 

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Then you can’t be a judge, apparently. 

Funny how these concerns never surface with fat male candidates. 

via Shakesville

Thanks to Antonia over at Broadsides I have become a fan of Nicholas D. Kristof, New York Times columnist.

Recently the mother of one of my daughter’s school friends commented about the protectiveness of this generation of parenting.

She said the mother of one of her older son’s friends called to tell her that she found her son searching for porn on the internet and called to let her know what the local 11-year-olds were getting into and was concerned that, if these boys were going to be viewing porn, that it be woman-positive.

This made the woman sharing the story with me laugh: now boys can’t even have their porn private she said, adding that Playboy just a part of childhood. I didn’t say anything to her, but I thought: what is on the internet isn’t Playboy, however harmless you do or do not think that magazine is.

Today’s boys are learning about sex from violent images that nobody would have seen as adults, never mind as a boy whose ideas of sexuality are just being shaped. Feminists can say this, but they aren’t taking seriously.

That’s why I love what this man has to say, via Feminist Law Professors. It’s the second video during which he gets talking about what younger boys are seeing and how this relates to the global sex trade and prostitution.

I’m hoping my girls hold out for the boys whose mothers talked to them about woman-positive porn…

Here’s a comment I wrote on a feministing post about a woman who had a baby at 15 and dares to be proud of it at 22. Too many people, even in the feministing community, feel that having children is a right we should bestow only on monied people of the right age demographic: http://www.feministing.com/archives/014718.html#comments

She’s getting the attention because she’s smart and savvy. Had she done any other adult-like thing successfully at 15 that framed her life as she continued into college and gone on to talk about it in a campus newspaper, she would have been lauded in this forum…

But having a baby is different, it seems. And talking back to efforts to frame her as cheap are different it seems. Because she had a baby before our culture thinks she is ready to have a baby (forget whether she thinks she is ready… and hell, many people aren’t ready to have babies at 30, or 40, but we do, because that is what we do…) Also the crux is that teenage mothers = poverty.

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The beating and assault of a woman in Calgary has the police repeating the same old messages: women should use caution when unescorted or unchaperoned. (via Lillith Attack)

It is so normal that women are considered fair game that when one is attacked the police use the moment to remind women that they need to restrict their freedom of movement. If they do not, they can forfeit their right to expect safety as a general rule.

Is the message garnered from a bank robbery and shooting that victims need to exercise caution and listen to their instincts when they enter a bank – as if by instinct a person can know a bank is going to be robbed or that a man is going to jump out from behind a bush and rape. Do we tell a man whose car was stolen that he should not have been driving it down the street alone in so flagrant a manner, or that parking in a public parking lot was asking for it? 

It’s a neat corner women are backed into: we are accused of playing the ‘victim card’ when we ask for political action on an issue concerning women. Then, when we go about the world as if we have a right to safety, we are told to act the victim, forever vigilant, using emotional and mental energy to predict when an attack might happen and where.

Nevermind that rape/sexual assault can happen anytime, anywhere, most frequently in our own homes, by people we know.

I have two daughters who love listening to the sugary soundtrack from Mary Poppins and so I’ve had much more opportunity than some to re-learn the song lyrics as an adult, wonder at what is packaged as children’s media and shake my head at the ubiquity of rape myths. 

So, do gentlemen rape? 

No, according to Mary Poppins as she sings “Jolly Holiday”. Gentlemen do not rape; rape is the province of the lower classes. 

It’s subtle but it’s there. Bert has just sung his part of the duet about what a wonderful person Mary Poppins is – practically perfect, indeed. She really has a high bar to reach in order to merit his praise. What does he have to do, or not do, to gain her praise? Not force her into unwanted sexual activity.

(This part reminds me of parenting: a father changes a diaper and he’s a hero, a mother changes 100 diapers and she is boring.)

It’s all there in the song. Bert’s “blood is blue” because he “wouldn’t think of pressing [his] advantage” which is, in turn, the reason that “a lady needn’t fear when [he is] near”. Add to that mix that “forbearance is the hallmark of [his] creed” and we have completed what is so special about Bert. In essence, because he is a gentleman he won’t push Mary Poppins into unwanted sexual activity; he will not attempt to rape her. 

Is my point that gentlemen do rape? Is it that we set the bar far too low for men?

Actually, I think my point is that this is a children’s song, from a children’s movie. How young children begin their schooling in society’s dominant narratives about men, women and sex.

My life has changed. I am no longer a paid minion, reduced to typing stories that meet the specifications an editor who is so anxious to please the multi-millionaire-publisher-and-owner’s-son that he seems almost unable to leave the office for fear of not being available to change this story he thinks the publisher might find objectionable or spike that story that he is worried might cause too much attention, which will then cause the publisher to pay too much attention to him. He’s living in one house, building another and has no other marketable skills – with the notable exception of passive-aggressive bullying. He landed his relatively well-paid job completely by fluke and he can’t afford to be fired. 

I am on an island – which is as I write in the middle of an amazing snowstorm. Both island and writer are used to waiting out snowstorms, recalling the green shoots and furled tendrils of springs past and re-living flings with summers of our youths. 

I am in the middle of a personal snowstorm, I suppose, one in which I am redefining who I am and who I will become. I will use this blog to clear the snow each time the path out of my door becomes covered again with regrets and hopes, memories, the kind which bring a smile, and the kind which have still the power to wound, with ambition and failure, with stories and words and the sound of children. 

There’s something about snowstorms.