March 30, 2008
Hi everyone! National Poetry Month is just around the corner, and I want to do this year what I did last year, and post a poem a day for the month. So, if you have any poems and/or poets you’d like to see featured here, please feel free to let me know. Thanks!
March 27, 2008
On Thursday, March 20, 2008, Jay Leno welcomed as his guest on The Tonight Show the actor Ryan Phillippe, who, early in his career, played a gay character on the daily soap One Life to Live. During the interview, Leno hounded Phillippe, telling him to look into the camera, pretend it was his “gay lover…Billy Bob,” who “has just ridden in shirtless from Wyoming” (still milking the Brokeback jokes), and give it his “gayest look.”
The reaction: My Gayest Look
And while we’re being a bit cheeky about all this, our message is dead serious: A 2005 study by GLSEN found that 90% of LGBTQ teens had been harassed or assaulted during the previous year. They were three times as likely as non-LGBTQ students to say that they do not feel safe at school and remain at increased risk for bullying, assault, and suicide. That doesn’t happen in a void. Gay jokes are not harmless; they contribute to a culture in which institutionalized homophobia has tragic consequences. We want Jay Leno to know that we, LGBTQ people and their allies, are not amused.
A bit of nostalgia for a dreary (here, anyway) Thursday: the counting-to-12 song from Sesame Street:
March 26, 2008
Dedicated to the many “uppity women” in my life: don’t let the bastards grind you down.
—Vivienne Eliot, 1889-1947
Tom’s Bloomsbury bunch called her ‘the river girl.’ They were afraid of her . . .
She has everything to give that I want, and she gives it.
1. RIVER GIRL
bag of ferrets flirt
morally insane, frivolous
a silly little woman
attractive to men but not a girl
to bring to Mother
a prima dona
preoccupied with romance, gross
with women’s troubles
reeking of ether
her voice a shriek—
(it’s true she chose her men poorly:
a lover who found her hellish, loathsome,
her genius husband
with his truss, his vow of celibacy,
his green face powder
and stained lips. Her own face white,
mottled from an excess of bromide,
her eyes vague, acutely sad).
March 11, 2008
I like what Samhita of Feministing had to say about the discovery that the governor of New York, Eliot Spitzer, used the services of a prostitute. Here’s an excerpt:
The over-reliance in the US political system for our politicians to be heterosexual and vanilla in the bedroom is like a recurring nightmare of puritanical ethics that continually allows for anti-sex, anti-gay, and anti-kink legislation to continue. If anything what these “outing” episodes should teach us is that everyone should be allowed to have the kind of sex they want and have the proper education about it, so we should stop pretending we are all “Republicans” in the bedroom. This story in particular, along with, the DC Madam drama, for me is an opportunity for us to talk about the rights and conditions of sex workers. Spitzer may get a slap on the wrist and be asked to step down, but sex workers nation-wide will continue to be subjected to harsh criminal proceedings, high incarceration rates, drug use, violence, lack of health-care and no protection from violent, retaliatory pimps.
I was also interested in Cara’s open letter to Governor Spitzer:
I believe in decriminalization and regulation of prostitution. But that is to help keep sex workers safe — not because I believe that men have a right to buy sex. As a woman and a feminist, I’m offended that you would speak about women’s rights out of one side of your mouth and then use the other side to buy sex from women including “things . . . you might not think were safe.” This holds true particularly because I’ve never heard you speak out in any way about how prostitution should be legalized and sex worker rights granted. In fact, as Attorney General, didn’t you bust a prostitution ring, yourself? Oh wait, it was two.
And if you’re curious as to sex workers’ reactions to the situation, Radical Vixen’s got you covered. Here’s some of what she had to say:
But on the other hand, I’m tired of prostitutes being a scandal. Prostitutes fulfill a need and there work is vital to society. In his press conference Spitzer said the situation was a “private matter”. I agree. His meeting with prostitutes should concern only one person-his wife. If he feels shame it should be shame in dragging his wife through this mess, not in seeing a sex worker.
As these scandals pile on top of each other I find I’m tired of the rhetoric. The shamed person drags himself through the media circus. Sometimes a resignation happens and sometimes not. Remember, despite his gay scandal Larry Craig is finishing his term.
What I’d like to see come out of these scandals is progress. Prostitutes are not going to go away no matter how many politicians are caught with one. Why not talk about the need for legal prostitution? Why not talk about the difficulties prostitutes face because their work is illegal? Why not talk about the benefits to both prostitutes and their clients if prostitution were decriminalized?
Incidentally, Sex in the Public Square recently held a forum to discuss sex work, trafficking, and human rights, and the summary statement contains a number of points that I think are apropos to the Spitzer situation, such as the following:
Politicians and media personalities scapegoat sex workers and their clients in such a way as to direct attention away from larger social and economic problems like poverty, consumer culture, racism, sexism, and the growing gap between the wealthy and everybody else.
Quite. It’ll be interesting to see how this all pans out.
March 6, 2008
March 5, 2008
Prayers to Buddha
You are the sun that rises above water
the jade buried in stone
a woman who gives birth to sons
My grandmother reads
from the almanac of life
tucked under my bed
since the year I was born.
I am the gypsy child she raised,
than her own children,
I cannot be labeled by a number.
For me she lights incense daily,
picks one Chinese character
and counts two rounds of five fingertips
until her eyebrows no longer twitch
and she knows
I am safe from men
with heads but no tails
who want to draw
circles with their right hand
squares with their left.
These men, she says,
can only pray to Buddha
for salvation, journey through snow
in thin-soled shoes, cross
They cannot offer the life
her prophecy commands.
—Priscilla Lee, 2000