A ranty, funny, dead-serious intersectional feminist blog.

Archive for July, 2012

Girl Cheese Sammich

“It will be mine. Oh, yes! It will be mine…”

As we say goodbye to National Grilled Cheese Sandwich month and hello to National Sammich Month, I want to take the opportunity to tell you briefly about my personal relationship with grilled cheese sandwiches. You see, when I was a tiny, little girl…so tiny that the world was still a place of only beauty and wonder and no Bad Things, I believed that grilled cheese sandwiches were a special invention made just for ME.

Back in those days of yore, my dad (before he was a professional bass fisherman or a preacher or even a dad) was a pool shark. In Los Angeles, California, where he made his living in the pool halls as a young man, he was known as “Sixth Street Jerry.” In Long Beach, where he also played from time to time (and where he met my mom–in a pool hall), they called him “L.A. Jerry.” One of my earliest memories is going to the pool hall with my parents, where my dad would shoot pool (which I remember only vaguely) and my mom and I would sit in a booth with red seats and I would order a Girl Cheese Sandwich with fries (because that was the point of the whole expedition as far as I was concerned).

Of course, I had no idea why the waitress and all the adults made such a fuss over the whole thing. I just wanted my sandwich. And my French fries! But I imagine them now doing that thing grownups do where we know the kid’s about to do that cute thing they do, and they say, “Watch! Listen! Okay, Rosie, what do you want to eat?”

“GIRL CHEESE!” I’d holler, and they’d all “aww” and titter and pat me on the head.

And yes, I assumed that if my dad wanted a sandwich like mine, he’d have to ask for a Boy Cheese Sandwich, but he never did that I recall. Sixth Street Jerry was too busy bringing home the pork rinds, baby.

These days grilled cheese sammiches are still a favorite, and one of my comfort foods (along with mac & cheese), and I still occasionally refer to them as feminine without ever checking under their bread to find out whether I’m right. That probably makes me a sammich sexist, for which I’m deeply sorry, and will surely pay in the afterlife. Till then, Girl Cheese Sammiches for all my friends!

National Sammich Month starts TOMORROW! What’s your favorite sandwich?

This makes up for everything! Right?

PS: I apologize for that terrifying image above. I really wanted to use an appetizing photo of a nice, melty grilled cheese to make your mouth water, but then I found ^that^, and come on, how could I resist? It would have been wrong–possibly immoral or even illegal–for me to not use that image in this article. So, to make up for it, here’s a photo of me just before I learned to say “Girl cheese sammich, please!” Love ya!


Your Friend Wil Says “Don’t Be a Dick”

Wil says: Don't Be a Dick

He means it.

Yesterday Wil Wheaton told the Internet what he wanted for his birthday, which is today. In case you missed it:

For my birthday tomorrow, I want July 29th to henceforth be known as Don’t Be A Dick Day: dontbeadickday.com#DontBeADickDay

— Wil Wheaton (@wilw) July 28, 2012

This immediately made me do that “I coulda had a V8” thing because duh, why didn’t we think of that before? I guess there’s a time and a season for everything, and ladies and gentlemen, what better time for the very first Don’t Be a Dick Day to occur? It’s as if fate herself looked down and said “Rosie, it’s been an intense couple of days what with all the seriousness. I think we should lighten up a bit, but let’s not forget this week’s theme, shall we? I know just the guy to talk to.” And she sent @wilw a DM and he was like “Holy Shit, why didn’t I think of that before?” (I’m speculating, but it sounds strangely plausible, doesn’t it?)

Your friend Wil was also inspired to create this handy flow chart to help people not be dicks. It’s a work of GENIUS:

How to not be a dick.

Genius, right?

Of course, the idea is not a single day upon which to practice not being a dick. Rather, it’s a day to raise awareness of the very real issue that faces us today. That issue, in case you haven’t guessed by now, is Being a Dick, and it’s epidemic not only in the US but around the world. Don’t Be a Dick Day is a day to celebrate not being a dick if you’re not one, and to help people who are dicks to see the error of their ways. Also, to help other people who aren’t dicks who know people who are dicks to help the dicks they know. As a friend of mine said today:

Remember don’t just don’t be a dick on Don’t be a Dick Day, don’t be a dick on all the other days, too! Thanks, Wil Wheaton!

Full Frontal (Wikimedia Commons)

With that, I’d like to ask you to join me in song. Here’s how:

  1. Play the amazing MC Frontalot anthem (first to Wil and his four-word philosophy, now to the day we spread that philosophy far and wide) Your Friend Wil.
  2. Open the lyrics page.
  3. Come back when you’re finished. Ready? Go!

Awesome, right? Just what you needed to get all fired up for the rest of the day. Now go forth and spread the Good News. Tell all the dicks, “Hey Dicks! You don’t have to be dicks anymore! You can be cool like us!” Show them Wil’s new website, and sing the song with them. Print out the handy flow-chart so they can keep it next to them when they type words on the Internets or fold it up and stick it in their wallets when they go out into the world. Being a Dick is everyone’s problem. But you can help.

Happy Don’t Be a Dick Day, everyone. You know what to do. And what not to do.


A Call to Arms for Decent Men

My friend and former EA colleague Ernest W. Adams writes a column over at Gamasutra.com called Designer’s Notebook. Today’s column will not appear on Gamasutra as the editorial staff declined to publish it in its current form. Ernest has kindly given me his permission to publish it here, and I’m grateful, because this subject–and cry for change–is close to my heart.


I hope Ernest reads this at GDC one day.

Normally I write for everybody, but this month’s column is a call to arms, addressed to the reasonable, decent, but much too silent majority of male gamers and developers.

Guys, we have a problem. We are letting way too many boys get into adulthood without actually becoming men. We’re seeing more and more adult males around who are not men.They’re as old as men, but they have the mentality of nine-year-old boys. They’re causing a lot of trouble, both in general and for the game industry specifically. We need to deal with this.

Why us? Because it’s our job to see to it that a boy becomes a man, and we are failing.

When we were little boys we all went through a stage when we said we hated girls. Girls had “cooties.” They were silly and frilly and everything that a boy isn’t supposed to be. We got into this stage at about age seven, and we left it again at maybe 10 or 11.

Then puberty hit and, if we were straight, we actively wanted the company of girls. We wanted to “go with” them, date them, and eventually we wanted to fall in love and live with one, maybe for the rest of our lives. That’s the way heterosexual boys are supposed to mature, unless they become monks.

My point is, you’re supposed to leave that phase of hating girls behind. Straight or gay, you’re supposed to grow the hell up.

What might be temporarily tolerable in a boy when he’s nine is pretty damned ugly when he’s fifteen and it’s downright psychopathic when he’s twenty. Instead of maturing into a man’s role and a man’s responsibilities, a lot of boys are stuck at the phase of hating girls and women. The boys continue to treat them like diseased subhumans right through adolescence and into adulthood.

Men are more powerful than women: financially, politically, and physically. What distinguishes a real man from a boy is that a man takes responsibility for his actions and does not abuse this power. If you don’t treat women with courtesy and respect – if you’re still stuck in that “I hate girls” phase – then no matter what age you are, you are a boy and not entitled to the privileges of adulthood.

Arrgh!

  • If you want to have some private little club for males only – like keeping women out of your favorite shooter games – you’re not a man, you’re an insecure little boy. A grown-up man has no problem being in the company of women. He knows he’s a man.
  • If you freak out when a girl or a woman beats you in a game, you’re not a man, you’re a nine-year-old boy. A man doesn’t need to beat a woman to know he’s a man. A man is strong enough to take defeat in a fair game from anybody and move on.
  • If your masculinity depends on some imaginary superiority over women, then you don’t actually have any. Manliness comes from within, and not at the expense of others.
  • And if you threaten or abuse women, verbally or physically, you are not a man. You’re a particularly nasty specimen of boy.

When this puerile mentality is combined with the physical strength and sexual aggressiveness of an older boy or an adult male, it goes beyond bad manners. It’s threatening and anti-social, and if those boys are permitted to congregate together and support each other, it becomes actively dangerous. Yes, even online.

Of course, I don’t mean all boys are like this. Most of them get out of the cootie phase quickly and grow up just fine. But far too many don’t. If we don’t do something about these permanent nine-year-olds pretty soon, they’re going to start having boys of their own who will be just as bad if not worse, and life will not be worth living. Life is already not worth living on Xbox Live Chat.

Arrrgh, I say!

In addition to the harm they do to women – our mothers, our sisters, our daughters – these full-grown juveniles harm ustoo. A boy who refuses to grow up has lousy social skills, a short attention span, and a poor attitude to work. Furthermore, all men – that’s you and me, bro – get the blame for their bad behavior. And we deserve it, because we’ve been sitting on our butts for too long. We let them be bullies online and get away with it.

Some of you might think it’s sexist that I’m dumping this problem on us men. It isn’t; it’s just pragmatic. Women can not solve this problem. A boy who hates girls and women simply isn’t going to pay attention to a woman’s opinion. The only people who can ensure that boys are taught, or if necessary forced, to grow up into men are other men.

Let’s be clear about something else. This is not a political issue. This is not a subject for debate, any more than whether your son is allowed to swear at his mother or molest his sister is a subject for debate. There is no “other point of view.” The real-world analogy is not to social issues but to violent crime. Muggers don’t get to have a point of view.

So how do we change things?

First, we need to serve as positive examples. With the very little boys, we need to guide them gently but firmly out of the cootie phase. To the impressionable teenagers, we must demonstrate how a man behaves and how he doesn’t. Be the change you want to see. Use your real name and your real picture online, to show that you are a man who stands behind his words. Of course, you can’t prove your name is real, but it doesn’t matter. If you consistently behave with integrity online, the message will get across.

Secondly, we men need to stand up for courtesy and decency online. We can’t just treat this as a problem for women (or blacks, or gays, or anybody else the juvenile bullies have in their sights). Tell them and their friends that their behavior is not acceptable, that real men don’t agree with them, that they are in the minority. Say these words into your headset: “I’m disappointed in you. I thought you were a man, not a whiny, insecure little boy.” Don’t argue or engage with them. Never answer their questions or remarks, just repeat your disgust and disapproval. Assume the absolute moral superiority to which you are entitled over a bully or a criminal.

Finally, we need to put a stop to this behavior. It’s time for us to force the permanent nine-year-olds to grow up or get out of our games and forums. It’s not enough just to mute them. We need to build the infrastructure that precludes this kind of behavior entirely – Club Penguin has already done it for children – or failing that, we have to make the bullies pay a price for their behavior. Appealing to their better nature won’t work; bullies have none. We do not request, we do not debate, we demand and we punish.

I have some specific suggestions, from the least to the most extreme.

  1. Oh, you little rascals!

    Mockery. In 1993 50 Ku Klux Klansmen marched through Austin, Texas. Five thousand anti-Klan protestors turned up to jeer at them. Best of all, several hundred lined the parade route and mooned the Klan in waves. The media ate it up, and the Klan looked ridiculous. The hurt that they wanted to cause was met not with anger but with derision.The juvenile delinquents are just like the Klan: anonymous in their high-tech bedsheets, and threatening, but in fact, a minority. Let’s use our superior numbers and metaphorically moon the boys who can’t behave. They’re social inadequates, immature losers. Let’s tell them so, loud and clear, in front of their friends.

  2. Shut them up. The right to speak in a public forum should be limited to those who don’t abuse it. James Portnow suggested this one in his Extra Credits video on harassment. Anyone who persistently abuses others gets automatically muted to all players. The only players who can hear them are those who choose to unmute them. Or another of James’ suggestions: New users don’t even get the right to talk. They have to earn it, and they keep it only so long as they behave themselves. This means a player can’t just create a new account to start spewing filth again if they’ve been auto-muted. Build these features into your games.
  3. Take away their means. If you’re the father of a boy who behaves like this online, make it abundantly clear to him that it is unmanly and unacceptable, then deny him the opportunity to do it further. We don’t let nine-year-olds misuse tools to hurt other people. Take away his cell phone, his console and his computer. He can learn to behave like a man, or he can turn in his homework in longhand like a child.
  4. Anonymity is a privilege, not a right. Anonymity is a double-edged sword. A limited number of people need it in certain circumstances: children, crime victims, whistleblowers, people discussing their medical conditions, political dissidents in repressive regimes. But those people normally don’t misuse their anonymity to abuse others; they’re protecting themselves from abuse.I think the default setting in all online forums that are not intended for people at risk should require real names. After a user has demonstrated that they are a grown-up, then offer them the privilege of using a pseudonym. And take it away forever if they misuse it. I haven’t used a nickname for years except in one place where all the readers know who I am anyway. Has it made me more careful about what I say? You bet. Is that a good thing? Damn right it is.
  5. Impose punishments that are genuinely painful. This suggestion is extreme, but I feel it’s both viable and effective. To play subscription-based or pay-as-you-go (“free-to-play-but-not-really”) games, most players need to register a credit card with the game’s provider. Include a condition in the terms of service that entitles the provider to levy extra charges for bad behavior. Charge $5 for the first infraction and double it for each subsequent one. This isn’t all that unusual; if you smoke in a non-smoking hotel room, you are typically subject to a whopping extra charge for being a jerk.

Now I’m going to address some objections from the very juvenile delinquents I’ve been talking about – if any of them have read this far.

  • What’s the big deal? It’s harmless banter. If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the game.” To start with, it’s our game, not yours, and we get to decide what’s acceptable behavior. You meet our standards or you get out. Apart from that, nothing that is done with intent to cause hurt is harmless. The online abuse I have seen goesway beyond banter. Threats are not harmless, they are criminal acts.
  • But this is part of gamer culture! It’s always been like this!” No, it is not. I’ve been gaming for over 40 years, and it has not always been like this. Yours is a nasty little subculture that arrived with anonymous online gaming, and we’re going to wipe it out.
  • This is just political correctness.” Invoking “political correctness” is nothing but code for “I wanna be an asshole and get away with it.” I’ll give you a politically-incorrect response, if you like: fuck that. It’s time to man up. You don’t get to be an asshole and get away with it.
  • You’re just being a White Knight and trying to suck up to women.” I don’t need to suck up to women, thanks; unlike you, I don’t have a problem with them, because I’m a grown man.
  • Women are always getting special privileges.” Freedom from bullying is a right, not a privilege, and anyway, that’s bullshit. Males are the dominant sex in almost every single activity on the planet. The only areas that we do not rule are dirty, underpaid jobs like nursing and teaching. Do you want to swap? I didn’t think so.

Run for your lives, boys. She’s gonna getcha.

  • It’s hypocrisy. How come they get women-only clubs and we don’t get men-only clubs?” Because they’re set up for different reasons, that’s why. Male-only spaces are about excluding women from power, and making little boys whose balls evidently haven’t dropped feel special. Female-only spaces are about creating a place where they are safe from vermin.
  • But there’s misandry too!” Oh, and that entitles you to be a running sore on the ass of the game community? Two wrongs don’t make a right.. I’ll worry about misandry when large numbers of male players are being hounded out of games with abuse and threats of violence. If a few women are bigoted against men, you only have to look in the mirror to find out why.
  • Free speech!” The oldest and worst excuse for being a jerk there is. First, you have no right to free speech in privately-owned spaces. Zero. Our house, our rules. Second, with freedom comes the responsibility not to abuse it. People who won’t use their freedoms responsibly get them taken away. And if you don’t clean up your act, that will be you.

OK, back to the real men for a few final words.

This is not about “protecting women.” It’s about cleaning out the sewers that our games have become. This will not be easy and it will not be fun. Standing up to these little jerks will require the same courage from us that women like Anita Sarkeesian have already shown. We will become objects of hatred, ridicule, and contempt. Our manhood will be questioned. But if we remember who we are and stand strong together, we can beat them. In any case we won’t be threatened with sexual violence the way women are. We have it easier than they do.

It’s time to stand up. If you’re a writer, blogger, or forum moderator, please write your own piece spreading the message, or at least link to this one. I also encourage you to visit Gamers Against Bigotry (http://gamersagainstbigotry.org), sign the pledge, are share it.

Pew! Pew!

Use your heavy man’s hand in the online spaces where you go – and especially the ones you control – to demand courtesy and punish abuse. Don’t just mute them. Report them, block them, ban them, use every weapon you have. (They may try to report us in return. That won’t work. If you always behave with integrity, it will be clear who’s in the right.)

Let’s stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the women we love, and work with, and game with, and say, “We’re with you. And we’re going to win.”


Related

Aftermath (Not in the Kitchen Anymore)


This Was When I Believed

Ride, Sally, Ride.

As you probably know by now, yesterday we lost Dr. Sally Ride, a woman so many of us have looked up to for decades as a symbol of what a woman can accomplish in a man’s world. (That’s right, I said it: This is a Man’s World, and that’s why we still need feminism.) In the past 24 hours I’ve read so many heartbroken tributes from women for whom Sally was more than a role model; more than a hero. She was a turning point for girls whose passion for science had been discouraged and dampened by stereotypes.

Washington congressional candidate Darcy Burner said yesterday, “She made me want to be an astronaut.” And from my friend E: “A woman astronaut! That was transformative. This was when I believed that women had a chance. We could do what the guys did — let me rephrase. I knew we could do it, but that we would be allowed to do it.”

Sally made being the nation’s first woman in space look easy, though it was anything but. Everyone from NASA officials to the press wondered whether a woman could hack it. From her LA times obituary:

“There are,” Ride acknowledged, “people within NASA who need convincing.” She would have been much happier, I suspect, in the present day, when the presence of women in NASA is no big deal and every girl can dream of a career in science or technology or aerospace without being scoffed at and told, “Girls can’t do that.” But she had a big hand in making the extraordinary — a female astronaut — routine.

From her NYT obituary:

Speaking to reporters before the first shuttle flight, Dr. Ride — chosen in part because she was known for keeping her cool under stress — politely endured a barrage of questions focused on her sex: Would spaceflight affect her reproductive organs? Did she plan to have children? Would she wear a bra or makeup in space? Did she cry on the job? How would she deal with menstruation in space?

The CBS News reporter Diane Sawyer asked her to demonstrate a newly installed privacy curtain around the shuttle’s toilet. On “The Tonight Show,” Johnny Carson joked that the shuttle flight would be delayed because Dr. Ride had to find a purse to match her shoes.

At a NASA news conference, Dr. Ride said: “It’s too bad this is such a big deal. It’s too bad our society isn’t further along.”

Sally Ride made it her life’s mission to crush stereotypes relating not just to women, but to science. As Dr. Ride put it, “Girls tend to have a stereotype of engineers being 65-year-old guys who wear lab coats and pocket protectors and look like Einstein.” And she didn’t stop at being a great scientist and role model. After she left NASA, she founded Sally Ride Science, a company dedicated to creating programs to inspire and feed kids’ passion for science.

Awwww!

And now, in death, Dr. Sally Ride has come out as a lesbian who lived happily with her partner for 27 years, adding support for a cause which must have been dear to her in life, but which had to come second to her desire to show kids–especially girls–that science was cool. Her image as the USA’s first woman astronaut was an important tool in that regard. She didn’t lend her name to many things. Her sister Bear Ride says she was a private person, but also: “That wasn’t her battle of choice—the battle of choice was science education for kids.” It seems to me that she sacrificed certain freedoms (e.g., the freedom to publicly love whomever she loved) partly in order to protect her “brand”–not for profit, but to avoid letting prejudice become an obstacle to her efforts to help galvanize new generations of scientists. Then yesterday she was all: BAM! Take that, everybody. Yep, she was gay, and you still love her.

I think I might love her even more.


Guns and Rosie

Heh. I couldn’t resist.

In our inaugural “Dear Rosie” article, we’re taking on the oh-so-controversial topic of gun control in the U.S. People keep saying that talking about gun control right now amounts to “politicizing” the tragedy in Aurora, Colorado. I call BS. When something bad happens people talk about how they feel about it and the circumstances surrounding it, and about solving the societal problems that caused it, and the only time you’re going to hear that accusation is when the accused has said something the accuser doesn’t agree with politically. Guess what? Some things are political issues, and they’re also life issues, and we’re going to talk about them, and we’re not going to agree all the time. So, without further ado, here’s your first Dear Rosie:

Dear Rosie,
Why are you “gun control” nuts trying to take away my guns? Don’t you know that the 2nd amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees my right to bear arms? If guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns! Guns don’t kill people–people kill people! What if we need to rise up against the government? If I had been at [insert horrific gun-related tragedy here] I would have used my gun to stop it! Also, I like to hunt. You probably want to take that away too, don’t you? Why do you hate FREEDOM??

Signed,
Fictional Paranoid Gun-Owner

Dear Fictional,

This is the ancient tree-hugging ritual of my people.

It might surprise you to learn that, dirty tree-hugging hippy though I am, I don’t necessarily think guns should be illegal. I mean, first of all, we do have that 2nd amendment thing to contend with, and no matter now long we argue, we’re not going to agree on whether the founders wanted us to have AK-47s. Once when I was working on a mystery novel, I went to a gun range and fired a Walther PP just so I’d know what it felt like. It was fun! And when I was a kid, I went out in a field and fired a big gun that used this ammo and nearly knocked me on my ass. That was less fun. But I understand that shooting is a sport, and it’s part of the culture in some parts of the country, and that some people like to hunt for sport and even in order to feed their families. And guns are a huge part of U.S. history. I don’t believe it’s realistic to expect that guns will be outlawed in this country. I think this poster makes a pretty good case (excerpt below; full post at Reddit):

“You seem like a fair minded person. You don’t like guns. I don’t like alcohol. If you can tell me one argument for banning guns that does not apply equally to banning alcohol, I’ll throw all my guns in the river tonight. Otherwise, we’ll just have to both agree that it’s a matter of personal choice and let each other be.”

“Guns kill people.” Response: Alcohol kills more people.

Guntini?

“Yeah, but guns are used in crime.” Response: So is alcohol. Aside from the obvious drunk driving and addiction related crimes, what % of people who commit crime do you think drunk? Ask a cop how many domestic violence situations involve alcohol.

“But guns are used in terrible murders. Alcohol only causes accidents or health-related deaths.” Response: This is an even stronger argument for banning alcohol. If you banned guns, at least some of those murders would still get committed. If you banned alcohol, NONE of the alcohol related accidental deaths would happen. (i.e. the definition of an accident is that its unintended, unlike murder).

“They tried to ban booze and it didn’t work.” Response: Try to ban guns in the USA. You see what happens. No country with hundreds of millions of firearms in circulation and porous borders has ever successfully banned guns (or anything for that matter: see war on drugs.)

“But drinking is fun and a social activity.” Response: Let’s go shooting on Saturday. Empty a few mags from an AK-47 and then tell me it’s not fun.

You can dice words and split hairs all day long, but as far as I can tell, most of what he says is dead on. Personally, I don’t get why people need to own assault weapons, but if you buy that we might need to form a militia and kick-ass on the government, I guess we’ve got to be able to compete. Fine. Here’s my thing: I say “gun control,” Fictional Paranoid Gun-Owner, and you hear “gun pried from my cold-dead fingers after I tried to shoot you for trying to take my gun but apparently you got off the first shot so I’m dead.” And I know a lot of very rich folks want to make sure people buy guns, and so they help make certain people feel like they’re going to need guns (and that their right to have them is under imminent threat). They watched their profits rise in response to 9/11 and they made damned sure in 2008 the message got out that gun rights would be history if Barack Obama became president. And in 2011 when Jared Lee Loughner shot Gabrielle Giffords, the cries filled the air: Hurry! Get your guns before the lefties change the laws! And now it’s election time again, and another mentally ill person with a stockpile of weapons has ripped a community apart, and guess what? Investors are already salivating.

So, what do I mean when I say “gun control”? I mean that guys like Loughner and Holmes who are clearly not competent to use guns responsibly should not be able to do this without raising a flag and inviting some scrutiny:
Suspected Aurora Shooter Amassed Huge Arsenal Online With No Background Checks
From Huffington Post:
“Authorities say all of Holmes’ purchases were legal — and there is no official system to track whether people are stockpiling vast amounts of firepower.”

Does this seem excessive to anyone else?

We make laws to regulate other dangerous items and substances. Like alcohol. And cars! Which, while they’re not designed to kill people, do it all the time in the hands of irresponsible and unlucky people. So we make laws and we put the irresponsible ones in jail and we make ads about how people shouldn’t drive drunk, but heaven forbid we should say that maybe, possibly, a person ought to have a full background check to purchase a gun and that there ought to be systems in place that throw up red flags when any one person seems to be “amassing an arsenal” (because that’s not worrisome for any reason at all). I mean, shouldn’t the FBI spend some time, you know, observing that person to see whether they might be planning to murder a bunch of people with all those guns? You can’t even stock up on Sudafed anymore without a SWAT team showing up at your house, but guns are apparently not as dangerous as cold medicine. Come on, FPGO, I’m not saying that everyone who owns more than one gun is going to become a mass murderer, but at the point where you have to use the words “arsenal” or “stockpile” maybe we should just have a look, huh? Evaluate their mental state, perhaps? Just a thought. Oh, and while you’re fantasizing about what you would have done if you’d been in that audience carrying your legally concealed weapon, you might want to have a gander at this very intelligent article by a guy who knows more than most people about combat situations.

FPGO, if you take nothing else away from my response to your fictional letter, take this: “Gun control” doesn’t mean we want to take away your guns. Sure, some people are dead-set against them, but as I said, they’re fighting what is very likely a losing battle. Some of us, on the other hand, just want to know that there are laws and checks and balances to protect the public, and that includes better gun laws as well as taking a serious look the availability (or lack thereof) of mental health services. We should all be in favor of making the world a safer place.

I’ll leave you with this quote, which sums it up poignantly for me:

“Maybe I’m a dreamer, but I wish mental health care were as easy to get as, say, a gun.”
~Andy Borowitz

Me too, Andy. Me too.

Yrs,

Rosie


National Sandwich Month is Coming!

monster sammichI just learned that National Sandwich Month exists! Yay! (I mean, of course it does, because sammiches. Duh.) It’s like providence or something because when I found out it exists I just assumed I’d already missed it this year. And I did, in fact, miss National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Month which, according to Gone-ta-pott.com (Your Holiday Directory) is always in April. (Imagine anyone thinking otherwise.) July, however, is National Sandwich Generation Month, dedicated to people who provide care for both children and aged parents, which is nice, because that’s a lot of work. And National Sandwich Day isn’t until November! So, I didn’t miss those, which is great, but I haven’t told you the best thing of all which is that August is National Sandwich Month! Apparently, it’s always in August, but I never had reason to know that before now. I did, however, have reason to know about National Margarita Day and Cheese Weasel Day. I’ll let you make whatever judgements you will about that.

So, in honor of what we’ll refer to here at MMAS as National SAMMICH Month, I’ll be scouring the Internets for fascinating sandwich/sammich related stuff to tell you and show you. We’ll talk about the origins of the sandwich, and of the sammich, and of the title of this website. We’ll share our favorite sammich recipes! We’ll look at sandwich art (like the scary sammich monster above!)–because if you didn’t know sandwich art existed, you need to. It’s art. And sammiches. Duh.

Just ten days until August 1! Isn’t this exciting? I even added a countdown thingy just to the right, there. If you run across any sammich-related links I ought to know about ahead of time, please post them here. Ten days! I have work to do, people!


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Katharine Hepburn Kicked All the Ass.

I Love Katharine Hepburn

I love Katharine Hepburn so much. She was a feminist before most people knew the word existed. Did you know that she used to enter fancy Hollywood hotels by the back entrance because they didn’t want the proper folk to see her in pants? And she didn’t give a rat’s ass or any hoots or anything else. I’ve watched nearly all her movies (some more than once) and I think she was a great actress, but more importantly she was a great woman. She was raised (by a suffragette and a doctor who made it his life’s work to educate people about STDs–we’re talking the turn of the last century, folks) to be inquisitive and to speak her mind. She overcame tragedy (at 14 she found her older brother who’d hanged himself) and the resulting debilitating depression to become an award-winning actor who played some of the strongest, most complex female characters of her time. (Her performance in The Philadelphia Story as Tracy Lord, a spoiled socialite who awakens to the reality that she’s never going to be happy playing the role society has given her, is hilarious and heartbreaking.)

But as much as theater-goers loved to entertain the idea of women like Lord wearing pants and pushing the boundaries of ladylike behavior, her off-screen persona didn’t sit well with Hollywood and the slavering public. She was not your average starlet: smart and funny and strong, she didn’t like reporters or autograph hounds (famously telling one to “go sit on a tack”). And she was not one to be bullied. When the costume department took her pants in an apparent attempt to teach her a lesson, she walked around the studio in her underwear for the rest of the day. How kick ass is that? (Hint: Very!) And when a few of her movies flopped, they labeled her “box-office poison.” Did she quit? Did she roll over and die? Did she rail and flail against the unfairness of it all? No, she did not. I’ll tell you what she did. Actually, I’ll let Wikipedia tell you:

Hepburn masterminded her own comeback, buying out her contract with RKO Radio Pictures and acquiring the film rights to The Philadelphia Story, which she sold on the condition that she be the star. In the 1940s she was contracted to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, where her career focused on an alliance with Spencer Tracy. The screen-partnership spanned 25 years, and produced nine movies.

1928 Kate (Wikimedia Commons)

(Hepburn and Tracy were also a couple. He was married, but estranged from his wife. Kate put her career on hold to nurse him in the final years of his life. Read about it in Tracy and Hepburn: An Intimate Memoir by Garson Kanin.)

And that, my friends, is how you do it Kate style. There’s so much more. Her film and theater career spanned six decades, and she lived 96 years. Here’s a photo of her from her Bryn Mawr days. That’s where she fell in love with acting, much to my everlasting joy. If this is your first introduction to the awesome that is Katharine Hepburn, congratulations. You’re in for a treat. Follow some links, watch some movies, and know this: it has never been easy to buck society’s stereotypes, and in a time when it was even less easy than it is now, she helped to pave the way for the rest of us by being an authentic woman in the face of pressure from all sides to act like a lady.

Thanks, Kate.


Links!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Katharine_Hepburn
http://www.biography.com/people/katharine-hepburn-9335828


Aside

So Fucking Angry

So fucking angry right now so this will be a mess. Apologies.

Out watering in my yard tonight when a girl comes running up through the greenbelt looking scared. I ask if she’s ok, and she smiles a little and says she’s just “hiding from my brothers,” and asks me not to tell them where she is. Her friend comes and I do tell her. Now here comes a brother. I’ve heard him all along screaming at her. “I can fucking see you right now,” he says to her, and he gives me what he thinks is a charming smile and says he’s looking for friends. “Friends who don’t want you to find them,” I said. He launches into a hateful diatribe about how I’m a fat fucking yuppie bitch who needs to shut the fuck up and go back to watering her flowers while he talks to his sisters. My boyfriend comes out and asks what’s up, and the kid keeps screaming obscenities at me and daring me to do something. “Go ahead and spray me! That’s assault!” Then he starts in on my boyfriend. I turn to my boyfriend and say, “Call the cops, Honey, and tell them I’m gonna spray this little asshole!” The kid goes back into the brush and tries to force his sister out, and I follow, telling him to get his hands off her. He comes back and screams at me some more, spits in my face. The girls come out, and the sister looks shaken, teary. I tell her to come in the house, but she won’t. She says something that I think is meant to make me feel like she’s a part of something she can’t get out of, and I should probably butt out, but I can’t put my finger on it. They head down the path, and I’m screaming at the girls that they don’t have to go. The kid is screaming back up the hill that I’m a fat fucking bitch, and I hold my skirt up and say, “Look! I’m fat! I don’t give a fuck! Leave those fucking girls alone, you fucking bully!” My voice sounds like a monster. I see him attack his sister at the bottom of the path and I scream my rage over and over, but I’m afraid to go down any farther. She said “brothers” and I don’t know who’s waiting around the corner, and they’re gone. I run up the hill and I can’t breathe, but I know I’m going for the car because I need to go after them. I need to make sure the girls are ok. I want to tell them “Get in the car. You don’t have to go with them.” But when I get to the car I see that the cops my boyfriend has called are coming down the street. My boyfriend talks briefly to them, sends them after the kids, and I go back out and water my lawn, knowing that I’ve painted a target on myself and my house, and knowing that I’d do it again in a heartbeat. Sitting here crying and laughing now because that little fuck thought his words and spit could hurt me. What hurts is the anger and the impotence.


Hello, I Hate You

This piece is partly based on a comment I left over at Assorted Mundanities and also inspired by posts from dynamic (r)evolution and Martina Reisz-Newberry. Thanks to all of them for their thoughtful pieces on this topic.


When a friend bad-mouths herself, we jump to her defense, assuring her that she’s beautiful, that her ass doesn’t look too big in those jeans, that she shouldn’t beat herself up because she had a croissant for breakfast. We’re always quick tell our friends not to be so hard on themselves, but when it comes to our own failings, be they real or imagined, we cut ourselves no slack. This is especially true when it comes to body-hate. It’s just too easy to look in the mirror and hate what we see because we simply can’t live up to the standards global media has set for us. And yet we try, and we fail, and we look in the mirror, and we hate.

A recent study by Glamour magazine found that 97% of women who participated had at least one hateful thought about their bodies over the course of one day. That’s…let me do the math…yep, very nearly all of them. Another recent statistic showed that 3 of 4 teen girls felt depressed, guilty and shameful after three minutes with a fashion magazine. And many also learn body-hate from their mothers, who learned it from theirs.

Today I learned from dynamic (r)evolution that a website/magazine called SheLoves is promoting what they call a “synchroblog,” i.e., multiple bloggers writing on the same topic, which in this case, is a Love Letter to My Body. I think this is a lovely idea, and you’ll find two great examples in the links above. I also tripped over a post in which author Martina Reisz-Newberry has an unexpected talk with herself in the mirror and walks away with a new friend.

I’m all about the idea of self-love, but like many people, I’m not that good at it. However, this convergence of body love-hate bloggery today inspires me to jump on the bandwagon and, briefly, talk to myself a bit about how things have been and how I want them to be. So here goes:

Dear Body,
You and I have been through some serious shit together, and you’ve suffered a lot of abuse, not least at my own hands. I started out taking pretty good care of you, but really you have to credit my mom for that. I didn’t appreciate the whole-grain bread, the sugar-free cereals, the no-soda/kool-aid/crap rule, but I know it  gave you a better start than some people have.  That’s probably why you held up like such a trooper for the past 40 years while I filled you with toxins, subjected you to decades of inactivity, and generally treated you like you weren’t the only thing standing between me and the sweet hereafter. And all the while I really never liked you. At times I hated you because you were me, and I wasn’t good enough. I said terrible things about you, and I used my anger at you and at me as an excuse to continue to treat you badly. And I’m here to tell you things are going to change. In fact, they already are.

Photo: David Besa (Wikimedia Commons)

This year I started a garden. That means I’m outside every day moving around in the sun and the air and the dirt and eating whole, live foods that go directly from the dirt to our belly. And when I look at you in the mirror, I see someone who is living the life she wants to live, and though sometimes I see things I want to change about you, I don’t hate the fact that you are what you are. You have changed and changed again and you will change and change some more and we’re in this together, so I’m going to strive to be ok with that.

There’s also the subject of the abuse others have perpetrated against you. This has resulted in a subtler hate that I’ve only recently come to realize has been seething within me. It’s less a mirror thing than just a constant gut belief that you are dirty, bad, toxic…maybe because you’re tainted, maybe just because you’re female. This is the hate I want most of all to overcome because I know it’s not your fault. It’s not my fault. We are ok. I promise to keep that in mind when I think about you and try to turn that hate into love.

Love,
Me

That was utterly off-the-cuff, because if I spend too much time thinking about stuff like this I won’t do it at all. I’ll close with the final part of my comment to Assorted Mundanities:

When you look in the mirror, try pretending you’re talking to a friend. Give her a pep talk. Tell her she’s ok. Because she really is.

Hey, you’re pretty cute!


How to Catch a Misogynist

Earlier this week the amazing Erin Kissane published “How to Kill a Troll,” an insightful essay that proposes a multi-pronged approach to dealing with Internet trolls. Her final and perhaps most important point is that love, or the “willingness to be human, vulnerable, and rational,” might be the only thing that can truly get through to people set on anonymously bullying and harassing others (particularly women). The article, and the subsequent discussion, is a tremendous resource for anyone seeking to understand trolls and misogyny on the Internet.

As I point out in the comments there, the problem with many hardcore trolls is that the whole thing is a game to them. They’re not out to change hearts and minds. They’re in it for the lulz and they really don’t care what buttons they have to press to get them. Are they misogynists? Many are. Many are stupid kids who don’t give a shit. If they weren’t online, they’d be out burning ants with a magnifying glass. But they’re learning from the big trolls that it’s fun to pick on women because we make a lot of noise which equals maximum entertainment. And it’s so easy! Your material’s already been written for you by all the misogynist trolls who came before. You can tell her to make you a sandwich, pick apart her appearance, accuse her of being a prude, a whore, or OMG A LESBIAN. If you’re hardcore, you can threaten to rape her, or wish cancer on her nether regions. You can describe all the ways you’d like to hurt her with foreign objects. Trolls–the worst of them–do all these things and more.

But to be a genuine troll requires anonymity. That means people who engage in some of these behaviors in public, with their name attached, and no expectation of privacy, cannot be rightly called trolls. But I’m going to go ahead and call them misogynists. And they’re so easy to catch. All you have to do is place the bait like The Huffington Post did today:

Huffington Post Facebook Status

Is this troll-bait?

The comments are a mix of “Yes, it’s sexist! Duh!” and “Who the hell cares?” sprinkled with stuff like this (Note: All of these comments are public on Facebook and viewable by anyone who has “liked” the Huffington Post–the fact that they are public is the point):

Always fun when the ladies join in!

And stupid shit like this:

Haha.

And the winning entry before I got sick of reading:

We have a winner!

From the guy who thought this contributed to the conversation:

The mayor of the town, much like these two commenters, doesn’t get what all the fuss is about. He thinks people are just “humorless.”

What do I think? I’m glad you asked. Yeah, it sounds sexist to me. But I’m not nearly as interested in those two parking spaces as I am in how many people are willing to flaunt their misogyny in public. Are they brave? If we compare them to the elusive-yet-ubiquitous troll, perhaps. Or maybe our friend the troll is just smarter than his counterparts showing their asses in public with their names attached. But I’ll tell you one thing: some of these people scare me way more than any socially impotent Smeagol hiding in his lair beneath mommy’s sewing room tapping out hate and rape threats (and believe me, they scare me enough that I keep this blog anonymous). Why? Because they seem to believe their misogynistic horseshit at a level so deep that they’re not even ashamed. To some of these folks, putting down women is socially acceptable and hilarious. And to others, it’s just not worth getting your panties in a twist over.

These attitudes serve to (further) normalize misogyny, and they help create this environment we have where if a woman speaks out and says “I don’t think this is right,” she can expect to be a) bullied and/or b) told she’s overreacting. And that’s at the very least. I think we can do better.

Let’s talk about how. Maybe love is the answer, but I don’t know what that looks like in action. I’m open to suggestions.