December 20, 2007
Last week, while our power was still out, EB and I were pondering at what point the power might come back on. Our ideas reflected our relative viewpoints, which led to the following:
“You know,” EB said, “I think it’s a good thing that you’re an optimist and I’m a pessimist. I’m like, ‘Oh great, the world is ending,’ and you’re like” — at this point he smiled, raised his eyebrows, and held out his hands as if presenting an offering — “‘Cheeseburger?’”
Sounds about right.
(*relatively speaking, of course)
WordPress is a bit limited in terms of its statistics gathering: at the moment I can only see the number of overall hits a particular post has gotten if the title is short enough. So, I think my number-one post in terms of hits is my Bridge to Terabithia post, but I’m not certain. If I’m right about that, then this post, a quick hit on the movie Hounddog and the Catholic League’s reaction to it, is rapidly closing the gap. WordPress does show the search terms people use to find my blog; enter “rape scene in movies” or “porn rape movies” into Google, and that post is the seventh item down. With “rape porn movies,” my post is fourth. (And I’d always thought word order didn’t matter in search engines!) With “rape porn movie,” I’m second.
What I find disquieting about the attention that post has been getting is that I suspect the people entering those search terms aren’t trying to find the random musings of a progressive twenty-something. I can’t even bring myself to click on most of the links those searches bring up, and I’m hardly a prude. I’m familiar with Rule 34, and I think there’s a similar rule when it comes to fetishes/sexual proclivities. Maybe there aren’t too many people who get off on slurping orange jello while sitting naked on a metal folding chair and watching “TV Bloopers and Practical Jokes,” but I bet they’re out there. What consenting adults do by themselves or with other consenting adults is none of my business, and they’re welcome to all the orange jello they can handle, as far as I’m concerned.
That’s the thing, though — there are two very important words in that previous sentence: CONSENTING and ADULTS. Rape obviously doesn’t fit into that equation. Even porn gets to be a bit of a sticky situation (if you’ll pardon the pun): if I had to pick a label to describe my feminism I suppose that label should include (though not be limited to, if I have anything to say about it) “sex-positive,” but I’m nonetheless aware of the power imbalance when it comes to women in the porn industry, and I know full well that much of the porn out there is degrading to women. So, then, pornography depicting rape as an act that’s meant to titillate makes me very, very nervous. One of the links I did click on when performing the previous searches was an article from Slate stating that Internet porn reduces sex crimes. Would that still apply to rape porn, though? If someone has fantasies of raping another person, is pornography geared toward that person likely to sate that desire, or is it more likely to stir it up further?
And I wonder about supply and demand in these situations. I suspect that kind of porn wouldn’t exist if there weren’t an audience for it, just as I can’t imagine child pornography existing if pedophiles weren’t already out there. That makes me think of a parallel: I assume (read: desperatey hope) that most of the rape porn that’s easily accessible is simulated — does simulated child porn prevent pedophiles from acting on their desires in real life?
I don’t have answers or solutions to any of this. And it’s sort of painfully funny to think that posting these musings is going to put a whole lot more of those search terms into play. I guess all I can do is hope, like I often hope, that my words will make someone think, perhaps even consider their behavior in a new light.
What can I say — I’m an optimist.
December 18, 2007
…or is it maybe, at least in part, because we treat tourists like criminals?
Yesterday Chet Scoville of Shakesville linked to this story, in which an Icelandic woman who had come to New York for a vacation — “to shop and enjoy the Christmas spirit” — was detained by Homeland Security, held for 24 hours, then deported. Throughout her brief stay she was treated like a dangerous criminal, interrogated, led through the airport with wrists cuffed and legs chained, the whole nine yards. Her crime? She’d overstayed her visa by three weeks in 1995.
Here’s an excerpt from her narrative:
I was completely exhausted, tired and cold. Fourteen hours after I had landed I had something to eat and drink for the first time. I was given porridge and bread. But it did not help much. I was afraid and the attitude of all who handled me was abysmal to say the least. They did not speak to me as much as snap at me. Once again I asked to make a telephone call and this time the answer was positive. I was relieved but the relief was short-lived. For the telephone was set up for collect calls only and it was not possible to make overseas calls. The jailguard held my cell phone in his hand. I explained to him that I could not make a call from the jail telephone and asked to be allowed to make one call from my own phone. That was out of the question. I spent the next 9 hours in a small, dirty cell. The only thing in there was a narrow steel board which extended out from the wall, a sink and toilet. I wish I never experience again in my life the feeling of confinement and helplessness which I experienced there.
December 17, 2007
A couple of weeks ago, this video was going around the web:
A brief synopsis is that a group of 700 Club-approved evangelicals believe that I-35 is the highway mentioned in Isaiah, and are using it as a focal point in the fight to increase the overall “holiness” of the United States. The idea bothered me in general. You have seventeen 24-hour prayer rooms set up; might that energy better spent, say, oh, I don’t know, helping the poor? Visiting sick people in hospitals?
Then came the part that bothered me most: At about the 2-minute mark in the video we’re told of one particular “purity siege” in Dallas, at which a young man named James Stabile was converted. The voice-over in the video says that Stabile “felt God moving in him then, saving him and taking away his homosexuality.” Two things struck me as problematic in this section: first, I’m sure it’s possible that Stabile was bar-hopping without a shirt on, but the fact that he wasn’t wearing a shirt in the video footage of his conversion made me suspect that what happened was not actually as simple as Stabile and the voice-over suggest (Stabile walks by, pastor asks if he’s ever felt the spirit, Stabile says no but expresses curiosity, pastor touches him & says fire, Stabile feels the spirit). Second, this kid is 19 years old (i.e. barely an adult), barhopping specifically to get drunk and probably is either currently or has a history of doing recreational drugs (he refers to tripping on acid as if he knows what that’s like, though it’s possible he was coached to do so in order to make it sound like he was even more “fallen”), identifying as homosexual in spite of a reference to a fiancée (who is presumably a woman given that this is in Texas) — in short, even without knowing more about him, he strikes me as an easy and obvious target for evangelicals, or indeed for any group looking to recruit members by promising them The Answers.
December 15, 2007
The Lizard Queen at one or so:
Happy Lizzie is happy.
Open thread: what’s on your mind?
December 14, 2007
This is a couple of months old and so has probably already made the rounds, but I just saw it for the first time today, and it was funny, so, here you go: “In case of chest hair emergency, pull tab quickly and back away.” Enjoy!
(And in case anyone’s curious, we got power back yesterday. More on that sometime this weekend.)
December 12, 2007
We are one of the thousands of households in Middle America currently without power. We’re approaching the 36-hour mark, and I have no idea when to expect it to come back on.
Evil Bender just informed me that our power company’s present slogan is “doing what it takes to keep the lights on.” *sigh* I’d be okay if it were just the lights — it’s the lack of heat that’s the problem.
Anyway, we’re at the library now, but I don’t know when I’ll next have internet access, so until then, expect radio silence.
December 10, 2007
The question of the day over at Shakesville reminded me of the game Evil Bender and I were playing in the car on our way down to Texas for Thanksgiving:
“Okay, I’ve got a new game we can play,” Evil Bender said. “The goal is to name people or things that are better than Ronald Reagan. For example: this highway [a Ronald Reagan Memorial highway, which is, I think, what sparked the idea] is better than Ronald Reagan.”
“Indeed,” I responded, then paused. “That bush is better than Ronald Reagan,” I said, pointing out a shrub on the side of the road.
“But I can think of a Bush who isn’t.”
So, that’s how much of the trip went: we’d notice something, anything, and state that it was better than Ronald Reagan.
“Rice Krispie Treats are better than Ronald Reagan,” I said, my mouth full of marshmallowy goodness.
“That cow is better than Ronald Reagan,” Evil Bender said, gesturing toward a lone cow in a field.
And so on. You’d be surprised — or maybe you wouldn’t be — how well we entertained ourselves with such a simple concept. And there were so many possible variations!
“What a jackass!” one of us would exclaim after an act of asshaberdashery such as tailgating then passing us on the right when we were in the middle lane on a three-lane highway.
“And yet he’s still better than Ronald Reagan.”
“Fundies are definitely not better than Ronald Reagan,” we would say after passing a Right to Life billboard.
It may well have been the best road trip game I’ve ever played.
I read the news today, oh boy…
- Victim: Gang-Rape Cover-Up by U.S., Halliburton/KBR (via Jeff)
- Nine child rapists go free in Australia (via Feministing)
- Prostitution ordeal of Iraqi girls (via Crooks and Liars)
- Toddler with “political hair” threatened with preschool expulsion (via Hoyden about Town)
- Religious vigilantes have killed 40 women in Basra (via Majikthise)
I’ve little doubt that I could find more to add, but that’s all I have the heart for at the moment. And before anyone asks, I’m linking to these stories not to depress anyone, but to raise awareness — which, as Liss points out, is rather like trying to empty the sea with a teaspoon, but I find that preferable to not saying anything.
This story (hat tip to Pharyngula) caught my eye, because its setting is a town in which I used to live. It’s kind of a messy issue: the town allows any religious group (perhaps any group, period?) to place, with a permit, a display relating to their winter holiday of choice on the town green. Here’s what happened this year:
Town officials issued a permit to the [Connecticut Valley Atheists] to place the sign in the park, effective Dec. 1, to mark the winter solstice. They also issued permits to a group of churches that plan to place a creche in the park, and to a local synagogue, which applied to place a menorah there. The atheists have been the only ones to show up so far.
The atheists’ display is three-sided, and on one of the sides there’s an image of the Twin Towers with the words Imagine No Religion. Read the rest of this entry »