One Day, if You're Bored, By All Means Call

Good news from the Wall Street Journal today:

A strong performance in the first of three presidential debates appears to have helped Sen. John Kerry among likely voters in 16 battleground states, according to the latest Zogby Interactive poll. Mr. Kerry now holds leads, albeit some of them razor-thin, in 13 states, an improvement from the 11 he held three weeks ago.

I’ve read in various places (as examples, see here, here, and especially here—because Jimmy Breslin rules) about how the voting trends of younger (18-25 year old) voters may be largely unaccounted for in most of the major polls, as a larger segment of that population relies exclusively on a cell phone, forgoing a landline, the traditional means by which pollsters reach voters, altogether. (Aside: Mr. Shakes and I sent our landline the way of the dodo ourselves, and despite being a bit out of the 18-25 range, many of our contemporaries have also opted to go landline-free.) The possibility that a dearth of mobile-only youngsters may skew traditional polling is a theory to which I believe John Zogby himself subscribes, hence his penchant for online polling.

Typically, polling indicates that younger voters skew predominantly toward Kerry. If they’re being left out of most of the traditional polls, and if they do tend to skew left, then the number of 18-to-25ers that shows up on election day could swing this thing big time.

As anecdotal evidence of the chance that this dream may very well come true, check out Jonathan Alford’s Looking for votes, finding America, today’s cover story on Salon. A nice story generally worth a read, but the following particularly caught my attention:

…Pat says that he has spent more time registering students and 18- to 25-year-olds than any other group. He's been averaging 1,000 a week.

Rock on, Pat.

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The World is Full of Crashing Dopes

This story, courtesy of the Washington Post, should make you feel safer. It certainly made me feel safer. The monkeys really are running the zoo:

People soon will be able to carry guns and other dangerous weapons onto the grounds and parking lots of Reagan National and Dulles International airports, after officials yesterday eased what they said were overly restrictive rules….

Gun rights groups said the rules at area airports are still too restrictive. Philip Van Cleave, president of the Virginia Citizens' Defense League, said Dulles and National airports should have to follow state law. He also said people should be able to carry their guns into the terminals.

"The point is, terrorists will not pay any attention to this," he said. "What it will do is stop the people who don't want to break the law." …

Airport security experts said the new law doesn't worry them. Douglas R. Baird, an aviation security consultant, said, "It doesn't raise any concerns with me because if you have the authority of the state to be armed, I don't see why you can't be armed at an airport."

Yeah. No potential problems there that I can see. Anyone?

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Fox News

Cool. I remember when Alex P. Keaton was a rabid Republican, and now even he’s voting for Kerry.

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Used to be a Sweet Boy

From the Associated Press, Cheney: Weapons Report Justifies Iraq War. The story is, as you’d expect, more of the same…the report found no weapons, yet VP Dark Lord manages to find a way to claim it somehow reaffirms their case.

Here’s the best part:

Vice presidential candidate John Edwards called Cheney's claim "amazing" and accused his Republican rival of using "convoluted logic."

"They are willing to say left is right and up is down," Edwards said while campaigning in Bayonne, N.J. "The vice president, Dick Cheney, and the president need to recognize that the Earth is actually round and that the sun is rising in the east."


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Oh, They Weren't Lies, They Weren't Lies....

Amusing responses from Team Bush in response to one of Al Gore’s “wild exaggerations” during the 2000 campaign. Check out justmy2. Cool blog.

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The Last of the Famous International Organizations

Interesting news snippet as viewed (and reported) by Mr. Shakespeare’s Sister:

It was a clip of a Bush event—one of his usual sign-a-loyalty-oath-to-get-in rallies—and during a part of his speech, he was listing all the things that Kerry is saying he’ll do, even though they’re things he (Bush) is already (allegedly) doing. “John Kerry says he’ll increase the number of troops, but we’re already doing that,” etc.

So after several back-to-back examples, he launches into, “John Kerry says he’ll involve the UN” (paraphrased), at which point his base proves how inimitably stupid they are by beginning to boo and hiss. You see, he had them trained for so long to hate the UN, back when suggestions to go to the UN was nothing short of traitorous, that they didn’t realize that they’re not supposed to boo the UN anymore! (Obviously they hadn’t been updated on this, oh, well, let’s call it a policy change, since a term like flip-flopper would just be so very rude.) In addition to evidently missing the We Like the UN Now memo, they were also simply too brainless to see where he was going with his thought, despite being in the middle of a John-Kerry-is-stealing-my-ideas list.

It’s probably also an indication that they weren’t listening too closely to what he was saying, and although my first thought was, “I can hardly blame them,” the truth is, it’s exactly that kind of willful ignorance on which the Right depends to stay in power. They have to hope people don’t listen too carefully, because anyone who does will be casting their vote for Kerry come November.

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David, the Wind Blows

From Report: Saddam Not in Pursuit of Weapons:

In a speech on Oct. 7, 2002, Bush laid out what he described then as Iraq's

"It possesses and produces chemical and biological weapons. It is seeking nuclear weapons."

"We've also discovered through intelligence that Iraq has a growing fleet of manned and unmanned aerial vehicles that could be used to disperse chemical or biological weapons across broad areas."

"Iraq possesses ballistic missiles with a likely range of hundreds of miles — far enough to strike Saudi Arabia, Israel, Turkey and other nations — in a region where more than 135,000 American civilians and service members live and work.”

What U.S. forces found:

A single artillery shell filled with two chemicals that, when mixed while the shell was in flight, would have created sarin. U.S. forces learned of it only when insurgents, apparently believing it was filled with conventional explosives, tried to detonate it as a roadside bomb in May in Baghdad. Two U.S. soldiers suffered from symptoms of low-level exposure to the nerve agent. The shell was from Saddam's pre-1991 stockpile.

Another old artillery shell, also rigged as a bomb and found in May, showed signs it once contained mustard agent.

Two small rocket warheads, turned over to Polish troops by an informer, that showed signs they once were filled with sarin.

Centrifuge parts buried in a former nuclear scientist's garden in Baghdad. These were part of Saddam's pre-1991 nuclear program, which was dismantled after the 1991 Persian Gulf War (news - web sites). The scientist also had centrifuge design documents.

A vial of live botulinum toxin, which can be used as a biological weapon, in another scientist's refrigerator. The scientist said it had been there since 1993.

Evidence of advanced design work on a liquid-propellant missile with ranges of up to 620 miles. Since the 1991 Gulf War, Iraq had been prohibited from having missiles with ranges longer than 93 miles.
So 1,000+ dead to ensure that Saddam wasn’t able to give himself (or anyone else) a Botox injection. Phew.

I don’t disagree that Saddam was a threat, but he was mostly a threat to his own people, who, frankly, don’t seem to have it much better these days. I don’t know what the right way was to take care of the humanitarian crisis over which he was presiding, but I always felt that an invasion was a ruinously bad idea—an assumption which has been unfortunately borne out as correct.

Of equal concern to fixing what we’ve already broken in Iraq is the thought that Iran and North Korea loom on the horizon, and if Bush is reelected, I fear that diplomacy will play as minimal a role in addressing those concerns as it did in the run-up to the current war.

There is some hope that in future, should there be one for this administration, statements they issue about potential threats will be scrutinized much more rigorously than they were post-9/11, pre-shock & awe. However, if they set their minds on a repeat performance with another member of the “Axis of Evil,” countries with well-documented weapons programs that even Kerry does not dispute (and in fact invokes to illustrate the folly of the Iraq war), will a more meticulous investigation even matter? There is a bigger issue than “the Bush administration lies” (or “deliberately misconstrues,” if you prefer). Spending time on dissecting the disseminated fallacies that led us into this war is not an unworthy pastime, but there is more to be examined. Regardless of the accuracy of their claims, was an invasion the correct course of action? If we decide unilateral preemption is appropriate in the case of a rogue state with a developing weapons program, what is there to make us believe that wars in Iran and North Korea are anything but inevitable? We must remember another of Bush’s favorite fantasies: Saddam wasn’t letting the inspectors in. This is patently untrue; the weapons inspectors were on the ground before the invasion. He recites this assertion in the same breath that he maintains diplomacy (combined with strict sanctions) failed in the case of Iraq. But we see now they did not fail. Saddam had no discernible weapons program. If a rationale for war can be pulled out of thin air (or, at the least, thin intelligence), there is no assurance that the same will not happen in the future. Is it just me, or do you feel a draft?

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VP with a Thorn in His Side

My first mistake was watching the Vice Presidential debate on MSNBC, which I wouldn’t have done on my own, preferring C-SPAN, but Mr. Shakespeare’s Sister insisted on the former, in part, I imagine to see if Joe Scarborough’s conversion to acceptable leftihood was rendered complete. (It wasn’t.)

I was already dreading what I anticipated to be the predetermined spin: Cheney crushed Edwards. No matter what the reality of the debate, I fully expected that the media wanted a comeback story; what better way to nurture the perception of an inevitable photo-finish han to seesaw favor back into Bush’s camp? Still, when the talking heads on MSNBC made the predicted call, I got a knot in my stomach that stayed with me as I went to bed, where nightmares of a BC04 victory plagued me.

In truth, I had thought Cheney may have edged Edwards just a bit, but what is a win if one must prevaricate to get it? Cheney is an inveterate liar, and his equivocation and dissembling at last night’s debate are now well documented (see, for example, here). And as I sat on the couch screaming corrections (and the occasional vulgarity) at our VP Dark Lord, I wasn’t sure if Edwards was quite quick or harsh enough to convince the unconvinced.

What a happy girl I was this morning to discover that what I saw last night on MSNBC was in fact the exception, rather than the rule. While I found the usual party-line support in the usual reliable places, I was pleasantly surprised to see the likes of Andrew Sullivan and Will Saletan declaring a strong Edwards victory.

And more good news: much of the support of Edwards has come on the basis of the strength and veracity of his arguments, rather than the usual stylistic commentaries. There is plenty of “Cheney looked tired; Cheney sounded mean” stuff out there, but those who have declared Edwards the winner have often cited policy above aesthetics. (What a concept.)

Dare I say the wind has shifted? I won’t jinx it, but there is a sweeter smell in the air today…

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Why do you ask for donations? For this blog and community to be run as a safe space, it is a full-time job, and it also means that I cannot subsist on ad revenue: Just as there is a "misogyny tax," there is a tax to be free from misogyny and all other forms of bigotry; there's a cost to providing a safe space. Traditional sources for monetizing a blog are not an option: Content-generated ads (like Google Ads) frequently yield ironic advertisements—diet plans on fat acceptance threads, and anti-gay ads on pro-gay threads. Ad submissions had to be turned down which feature sexualized imagery of women, inappropriate language, or endorsements of companies that are union-busting or bigoted.

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Feminism 101

On Divorcing Slurs from Their Contexts: There are men (and women) who would swear up, down, and backwards that they're not homophobic, and may even genuinely be supportive of full LGBTQ equality, but nonetheless continue to use the word fag to malign other men—or use "gay" as a negative descriptor. They just like the words. They don't want to give them up, because they haven't found anything else that feels quite so good rolling off the tongue as "What a fag!" and "That's so gay." Who's it hurting? I totally don't hate gay people! And that's why we get these tortured explanations of how they're not using them "in the gay way."

On Off-Limits Humor: Here's the main reason I object to the use of "politically incorrect" humor at this blog: There's a whole fucking world out there where women and gay men and trans wo/men and racial minorities and the disabled and the overweight and people who are intrinsically and inescapably "different" for any reason are made fun of, marginalized, turned into punchlines. There's a whole fucking world out there which expects us all to be perfect according to some arbitrary definition and seeks to punish us if we're not. There's a whole fucking world out there where people who don't conform to that standard are not only ridiculed and made to feel not good enough, but can also find themselves at real risk of physical harm. Where they're denied rights, job opportunities, friendships, votes, equality. If you want to use "politically incorrect" humor that targets those people, you have the entire rest of the bloody world to do it, but you can't do it here. This is a safe space.

On What Angry Men Can Learn from Girls and Queers: For straight men, who exist in a culture largely structured to accommodate male primacy, pulling apart the intrinsic nature of men from the socialization borne of a society that reinforces the privilege of maleness, is exponentially more difficult. And thusly, lots of men cannot dissociate their rigid understanding of manhood from the societal influences which are largely mutable; they've had no reason to question whether a society that so perfectly suits them has created a definition of manhood that isn't "real," and so attempts to change society are inextricably linked to attempts to change men in ways they believe they cannot be changed. And that makes a lot of men angry.

On Hazing, Misogyny, and Homophobia: While we might hope that being forcibly effeminized and summarily raped would generate some sympathy for the women and gay men whose stereotypical accoutrements were employed in one's shaming, the reality is more grim. Even those violently hazed who don't engage the instruments of hazing outside the explicit milieu are generally not left with sympathy, but increased contempt, for the others to whom comparison served as the basis of their indignity. It's a dreadfully destructive cycle, and, at its center, the definition of masculinity predicated on contradistinction to and supremacy over women and gay men becomes increasingly, unavoidably, indurated.

On Men Being Part of the Solution: To a woman whose every post on sexual assault and domestic abuse has prompted untold numbers of women (and some men) to share their stories of having been raped or otherwise violently abused, that the subject could never come up among men is simply astounding. And yet I am assured by the men in my life, it does not. Of the issues with which they concern themselves, sending them into tumbling debates about what should be done and how best to solve the problem—the environment, poverty, encroachments on civil liberties, etc. etc. etc.—the fact that one out of four women will be raped in her lifetime, and many more yet victims of domestic abuse, rarely, if ever, makes the list. How can it be that so many men and women live such different lives? I dream of the day when we don't.

On Cunts: Pachacutec could have just said "Yeah, I called her a whore. So what? Fuck you." to anyone who disagreed with that language. As Tammy Wynette might say, stand by your sexism. But instead, the argument became, as it always does, that the language wasn't sexist at all, and anyone who thinks otherwise is a hypersensitive, hysterical loser. Tom was deemed "Ned Flanders," and Pachacutec told him to "Face it. We do punk rock posts and you're into Guy Lombardo." All I can say is that if punk is challenging the comfortable conventions of the bourgeoisie, there's almost nothing less punk than demeaning a woman by calling her a whore and pretending it's not sexist. That's the Milli Vanilli of blogging—derivative and radio-ready, pretending to be something it ain't.

On Rape Not Being a Compliment: Rapists are not merely men with heightened libidos; they are men who seek to possess and control, and sex is the weapon they wield—not the ends, but the means. To think that rapists all rape for one universal reason is to think that murderers all murder for a single reason, and to think that rapists all rape because of sexual attraction is to think that murderers who use guns all murder because they like the smell of gun powder.

On Humorless as an Insult and Thick Skin: Feminists Can't Win 101: When identifying oneself as a feminist to a non-feminist, the non-feminist is likely to make a gesture or comment that is trite and uninspired. When the feminist reacts to the "joke" with the resounding dearth of laughter it deserves, the non-feminist's presumption that feminists are humorless is thusly reinforced.

On Natural Allies and Privilege: Realistically, the breadth of allies in a comprehensive challenge to the patriarchy is vast and varied. Though all of us, sans rigorous philosophical exertion, are hapless conduits for every limiting and oppressive archetype upon which the patriarchy depends, conveying the bars of our own cages, very few of us are its unconstrained beneficiaries. Even the average straight, white, middle class American man exchanges privilege for severe limitations on his personal expression and emotional life—and he is encouraged never to examine that devastating trade-off too closely, lest the veneer on the alleged bargain prove thin enough through which to see. We all serve the same callous master, and there's little to celebrate in being the favored slave—especially compared to a life of freedom. It is foolish to believe that there is more feminist, gender-queer cisgendered straight women, lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, and the Ts don't all have in common culturally and politically than that which we do, given the particular restraints and prejudices of the patriarchal structure and its rigid notions of sex, gender, and sexuality conveyed in all its aspects. We struggle to achieve and/or maintain, to varying degrees, autonomy over our own bodies, and, crucially, freedom of choice with regard to what we want to do with those bodies. Life- and identity-changing events hang in the balance for us all—parenting, marriage, gender reassignment, being legally able to keep a job in spite of prejudice. The only question worth asking is how willing any of us are to secure rights for some of us at the expense of rights for the rest. Because we are in this thing together. We are natural allies. We must be fierce together.

On "Bitch" and Other Misogynist Language: Life is hard enough without my unexpectedly smacking people in the face who trust me not to be a jerk, and it's in that same spirit that I've tried to convey how misogynist language is uncool—hey, I don't want to get blindsided with shit like that from an ostensible ally. When I highlight the use of sexist language at a male-authored blog, it's because such language is alienating and demeaning and infuriating and I'm operating under the assumption that those bloggers don't want to alienate, demean, and infuriate their female readers. But that, as it turns out, usually tends to be a faulty assumption.

On Allegedly Looking for Things to Get Mad About: The truth is, if I actually spent my days actively paying attention to every example of misogyny around me, I would be a profoundly unhappy woman. Not bitchy or grumpy or short-tempered, but paralyzingly depressed. Women have to train themselves to avoid consciously reacting to every bit of misogynistic detritus permeating the culture through which we all move, lest they go quite insane. I write about the things I can't not write about. If I wrote about all the examples of sexism I see every day, I'd never sleep.

On Circular Firing Squads and One's Vote as One's Own: This oft-wielded cudgel to silence feminists who cry foul at sexism expressed by political allies is wrong for the following reason, which I cannot state any more succinctly than this: When someone engages in divisive behavior, any resulting division is their responsibility. It is, simply, not the duty of any person who is repeatedly subjected to alienating language, images, behaviors, and/or legislation to nonetheless never complain and pledge fealty from the margins. If women, men of color, gay/bi/ trans men, et. al. are valued, then they should not be demeaned—and if they are demeaned, they should not be expected to pretend it does not matter.

On Periods: Let's put this shit to bed right now: Women don't lose their minds when they have period-related irritability. It doesn't lower their ability to reason; it lowers their patience and, hence, tolerance for bullshit. If an issue comes up a lot during "that time of the month," that doesn't mean she only cares about it once a month; it means she's bothered by it all the time and lacks the capacity, once a month, to shove it down and bury it beneath six gulps of willful silence.

On Being a Progressive: Feminism is an integral part of progressivism. If you're not a feminist, you're not a progressive. You're a fauxgressive. End of story.

On Being Shakespeare's Sister: I cannot walk away from misogyny for a moment, and so I cannot for a moment walk away from feminism, either. I cannot set it aside any more than I can set aside my womanhood. No—I will not. The choice is mine, and I choose to face the world equipped at all times with the only tool of self-defense I have against inequality. Feminism is my sword and my shield, which I carry because the world is hostile to me, not the other way around. I fight because I have to. My obligation. My muse. That is the context of this room. It was built by a woman. A feminist woman. Shakespeare's Sister, carrying the weight of all of Shakespeare's Sisters with her, as she clumsily stumbles toward making long, greedy use of the opportunity they provided her, sucking up every last drop of the chance she's been given to do what others could not and pay forward with interest the chance to another sister of Shakespeare who may just now be warily peering into this room and thinking there's something I like in there

On Feminism and Humanism: As long as there are men, who would ostensibly be part of the "humanist" movement, yet retain a visceral and violent reaction to the feminine, there is no foundation for a sexless, "humanist" movement. Generally, those arguing in favor of a "humanist" movement won't say they're arguing for men's inclusion, instead citing what they perceive as the limitations of feminism/womanism—"But what about gay people or people of color or the disabled or the poor or…?" they ask, as if there is something intrinsic to feminism that precludes also fighting other biases. The truth is, if one is genuinely concerned with the betterment of women, one is necessarily concerned with fighting biases against any marginalized group, because, half (give or take) of all such groups are women.

On Shoez and Getting Personal: Making the personal public and political is serious business. Because women's stories aren't told, it's incumbent upon female feminists to tell their own stories, to fill that void, to be unrepentant and loquacious raconteurs every chance we get, to talk about our bodies, our struggles, our triumphs, our needs, our lives in every aspect. It's our obligation to create a cacophony with our personal narratives, until there is a constant din that translates into equality, into balance.

On Owning the Context: Ultimately, if you want to punch Hillary Clinton for being Hillary Clinton, or because of the sound of her voice, that's your prerogative, but you ought to at least have the integrity to own it wholly, which means owning the entire context: Irrespctive of whether it's specifically because she's a woman, the desire to punch a woman necessarily carries with it particular cultural baggage, including, for example, that women are disproportionately victimized by domestic violence and that women's voices and tones are routinely singled out as prohibitively unbearable. That's the context of womanhood.

On Objectively Assessing Sexism: Becoming intimately, actively involved with the methods by which sexism is conveyed is not unlike becoming fluent in another language. And just like how people who speak Arabic are better translators of Arabic than people who don't, people who have immersed themselves in the critical theories of gender are better translators of what is and is not sexism. Identifying and defining sexism is not, as "sexism is a matter of opinion" suggests, a speculative chore. There is an existing framework for recognizing and characterizing expressed sexism—and those who have made it their business to become fluent in it are the closest thing to objective experts as exist in any discipline.

On Anger: If you have even the merest capacity of imagination, it shouldn't be difficult for you to conjure your emotional reaction if you were, for example, told your entire life that you are equal, only to have the opposite be communicated to you in big and small ways every minute of every day, or if, as another example, there were people who argued that they should have control over some significant function of your body, that they needed to rob you of personal autonomy because they can make better decisions for you than you can for yourself, or if, for instance, you made less money for doing the same job someone else is doing for more, just because of some arbitrary physical feature, like, say, the color of your eyes. If you are indeed in possession of the capacity of imagination, you have no doubt concluded by this juncture that these scenarios, coupled with a lack of immediate recourse, might make you angry. So the idea that a feminist/womanist with demonstrable anger is somehow nutz is actually quite stupid.

On How Feminism Works: Individual women don't have to earn a feminist's defense from sexist attacks; it is offered because a feminist recognizes how sexism works—against the collective. As Echidne says, it "hurts all women, all little girls, all old ladies, women everywhere." If you grok how sexism works, and you fail to defend a woman because you don't like this or that about her, or her politics, you don't grok how feminism works.

On Using Projection to Turn Women's Real Fears into Men's Fake Ones for Yuks: For a very long time, women really have entered male-centered spaces at their own risk, and it really has been like entering a war zone for a whole lot of women—women who wanted the right to vote, women who wanted to work in mines, women who want to play sports for which there's no organized women's league, women who want their basic goddamned equality in every space—who were brutalized and subjected to all manner of indignity for their trouble. Mr. Hilarious AP Writer turns that history on its head to make jokes about how tough it is to be a guy going to see Sex and the City. That, he calls a war zone. The women there, he calls a plague. That shit verges on eliminationist rhetoric—and it's in an entertainment article. This is what we're dealing with on a daily basis; it's teaspoon versus dumptruck, and for every one of them using massive machinery to move shit one way, there's got to be a hell of a lot more of us working our teaspoons to move it the other way. That's the privilege of privilege.

On Blaming Liberalism for Rape: Evidently, people who say that rape is "the inevitable result of the collapse of sexual morality" are unaware that rape pre-dates the Pill, or whatever equivalent boogeyman they'd cite as the linchpin of moral decline. Not only does rape pre-date the Pill, the sexual revolution, miniskirts, Madonna, and "hysterical ultra-feminist propaganda" (as Peter Hitchens loves to refer to the idea that rapists are solely responsible for rape), it also pre-dates marriage—and whatever other accoutrements of Hitchens' "sexual morality" he fancies protect women against rape. The rape of women is as old as penises.

On Objectification Not Being an Expression of Love: The USB Pole Dancer is an item for the bloke who loves women, can't you tell? The sort of bloke who thinks it's outrageous he has to actually pay strippers for their services, who thinks being able to manipulate a female figure into performing a sex act with the press of a few buttons is "hilarious," who thinks this sort of thing is fine for a work environment that includes female coworkers, who thinks that any woman who might object is just a humorless, hysterical prude. There's so much love for women there, I hardly know where to begin. ... There are plenty of men and women who quite understandably love the female body. They don't show it by putting a plastic stereotype on their desks to be enslaved to their cruel and objectifying whims.

On Women Supposedly Being Their Own Worst Enemy: 1. Men not being sexist shouldn't be contingent upon women not being misogynist. They should stop being misogynist just because it's the right thing to do. 2. Men and women are misogynistic for different reasons: men to marginalize women, and women to ingratiate themselves with the men trying to marginalize them. Neither one is justifiable, but one is oppressive and the other is a (bad) strategy to deal with that oppression. 3. One thus sees that if the men who are misogynists weren't, the women who are misogynists wouldn't have any reason to be. Ergo, exhorting women to stop being misogynists so that men will stop gets it precisely backwards.

On the Mommy and Daddy Binary: Men are there to provide and discipline; women are there to care. This lie is the foundation for every damnable binary about sex and emotion in our culture—men are rational; woman are emotional—and it is on what we've based our pernicious refusal to regard the most destructive versions of emotions like anger, jealousy, possessiveness, vengeance, apathy, and selfishness as not emotions at all, but merely biological evidence of strength, as long as they emanate from men. Every man and woman reading this post who was raised in a house with a father who did not see "caregiver" as part of his role, who couldn't have a bad day without the whole house having a bad day, who called his sons and daughters emotional or hysterical or weak if they cried, without a trace of irony as he stomped around the house in a fit of pique that no one could ignore, unable to properly process his emotions because he's not supposed to have any, knows intimately the damage done by narratives that tell men they aren't meant to care and that only girls and pussies show emotion. The "daddies aren't there for caring; that's what mommies are for" meme can't die soon enough or hard enough. It hurts the men who believe in it, it hurts the boys and girls they raise, it ain't a picnic for Mom (or second Dad, or Grandma, or whomever else may be a secondary care provider). It's bad for families, and every member in them, and it's bad for the country when writ large. Men are designed to care, too—and they should, for themselves as much as anyone else.

On the Feminine as an Insult: I have played video games with men who refused to play female avatars; I have been with a man who was miffed that I classified his predisposition to copiously pre-cum as being "like a woman"; I have been talking about some female bodily function to a male friend or lover only to have him make a face and inform me he's so glad he's a man; I have heard male coworkers grousing about how "being a woman sucks," because of another male coworker with a groping proclivity; I have been exhorted to "not be such a girl" about things; I have known men who refuse to wear pink; I have been told by men who consider themselves feminists that they won't be raising their daughters "to be girls" but instead raising them "to be people"; I have been told flatly that women are inferior in intellect by virtue of our biology; I have been "complimented" by being told how very much like a man I am in my humor, or rationality, or some other quality; I have listened to men express directly to my face in every way imaginable that they would never want to be a woman. And most of them have been surprised when I had a problem with that—because, you see, we're all supposed to take it as read that no one would want to be a woman, given the choice, since we all know they're the inferior model.

On Gendered Language: Terms like "She's all girl!" and "He's all boy!" (much like "man's man") create a tremendously limited definition of both sexes. To inextricably associate being "all boy" with toy trucks and tumult, and being "all girl" with dollies and diffidence, limits both the boys who like trucks and girls who like dollies and the boys and girls who don't, the latter of whom are not somehow "partially" girl and boy, or not girl and boy at all. Our insistence on reducing children to these incomplete and hopelessly retrograde definitions of sex and gender does them no favors. And, besides that, it's about as sophisticated as believing girls really are made of sugar and spice and everything nice and boys of snakes and snails and puppy dogs' tails. Surely, we're cleverer than that.

On the Fundamental Difference Between the Anti- and Pro-Choice Positions: Anti-choicers and homobigots have been playing this game for decades, pretending that both sides of the abortion issue and the same-sex marriage issue are equivalent, and they are not. The pro-choice position does not force anyone to get an abortion who does not want one; the anti-choice position, however, prevents women who want abortions from getting them. The pro-marriage equality position does not force anyone to marry a person of the same sex, nor require that any churches perform same-sex marriage ceremonies; the anti-marriage equality position, however, prevents same-sex couples who want to get married from doing so and prevents churches who want to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies from doing so. The progressive position allows for individual choice; the conservative position does not. The progressive position expands freedom; the conservative position limits it. The progressive position treats women and LGBTQIs as autonomous, rights-bearing human beings deserving of full equality; the conservative position treats women's bodies as state property and LGBTQIs as second-class citizens.

On Persistent Pursuit and the Rape Culture: In a culture where no doesn't mean no, you've just got to be a "persistent motherfucker" until a woman relents—and then you can claim victory and convince yourself you're some kind of awesome Casanova who owes his sexual conquests to "poetry" and not the wholesale rejection of every women's right to say no and then be left the fuck alone instead of wooed, pressured, cajoled, coerced, manipulated, or otherwise convinced to have sex. Or "have sex."

On Girl Math: 1 girl = Acceptable token. 1 girl + 1 girl = Catfight. 1 girl + 1 girl + 1 girl = Slippery slope. 1 girl + 1 girl + 1 girl + 1 girl = Emasculating vortex. 1 girl + 1 girl + 1 girl + 1 girl + 1 girl = War zone.

On "Realness": Some women have noticeable curves. Some women have less noticeable curves. All of them are real women. Some men hew quite closely to traditional male stereotypes. Some men's gender expression is wildly different from traditional male stereotypes. All of them are real men. ... I am a real person. And so are you.

On Projection and Natural Alliances: The Gay Predator and the Female Rape Victim Who Was Totally Asking For It operate on different sides of the consent equation, but we are both demonized via lies told about consent. For gay men, the lie is that they don't seek consent. For women, the lie is that consent is an implicit constant, by virtue of our bodies being public property. (Keen observers will already have noted that both mendacious narratives are spawned of projection, arising from the ugliest manifestation of straight male sexuality, which itself is predatory in nature and has no respect for consent, having intractably objectified women into beings whose value is wholly contingent upon the provision of sex.) ... And, in another swell little marriage between projection and the reliance on contradistinctive definitions of manhood, the straight man who invents a sexual assault out of whole cloth benefits from the overwhelming narrative that it is women who routinely make false rape claims in desperate bids of self-preservation (or vengeance). Wonder not why that pervasive accusation against women exists; it exists for the same reason narratives about predatory gays does—because the patriarchal male who is treated since birth as The Norm (from whom all Others deviate) imagines Others to have his motivations.

On Flaws: Being beautiful on the inside doesn't change the fact that it's still a radical act to look different and be happy in this culture. If you're obviously, undisguisably Less Than Perfect, you're not only meant to be unhappy, but deeply ashamed of yourself, projecting at all times an apologetic nature, indicative of your everlasting remorse for having wrought your monstrous self upon the world. You are certainly not meant to be bold, or assertive, or confident—and should you manage to overcome the constant drumbeat of messages that you are ugly and unsexy and have earned equally society's disdain and your own self-hatred, should you forget your place and walk into the world one day with your head held high, you are to be reminded by the unsolicited comments and contemptuous looks of perfect strangers that you are not supposed to have self-esteem; you don't deserve it. Being publicly Less Than Perfect and happy is hard; being publicly, shamelessly, unshakably Less Than Perfect and happy is an act of both will and bravery. That is the world in which we live. And being beautiful on the inside doesn't fucking change that. ... Which is why it is imperative to challenge the criteria by which the world judges beauty, to look at the profoundly unreasonable, totally crazymaking, and inherently condemnatory Beauty Standard in its increasingly unachievable face and tell it to fuck off.

On Language and the Commodification of Sex Via Humor: It all seems so innocuous, the jokes we make offering ourselves, our bodies, our services to men (and other women, irrespective of our sexualities, or theirs) to compliment them: Marry me… I want to have your babies… I totally want to fuck you, blow you, make out with you, be your slave… If only I were straight/gay/single… Oh, it's harmless, you may be thinking—and I wouldn't blame you, as I've thought the same thing, too. ... But how can it be, knowing what we know about women still being valued (or not) primarily for their bodies and sexuality? There's nothing innocuous about playing into the idea that the greatest contribution any woman has to offer is her body as a sexual reward or or babymaking machine. ... Okay, but it's ironic! But how can it be, knowing what we know about women forced into sexual servitude around the world? It's only ironic if women (all women, women full-stop) have agency. If they don't, it's merely privileged—a proud display of agency that we have that other women do not, tinged perhaps with the anxious fear that we are not as far away from forcibly bearing babies against our wills as we'd like to believe that we are.

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Recognition for Shakesville

In addition to having been awarded the 2005 Koufax Award for Best Group Blog and the 2008 and 2009 Canadian F-Word Blog Award for Best International Feminist Blog, Shakesville has been recognized by a Carnegie Mellon School of Computer Science study as #37 on the Top 100 blogs of compulsive blogitude and noted by Utne as one of the Top 4 starter sites in the feminist blogosphere.

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Melissa McEwan is the founder and editor of the award-winning political and cultural group blog Shakesville, a founding member of the Big Brass Blog, and a contributor to The Guardian's Comment is Free and AlterNet. Melissa graduated from Loyola University Chicago with degrees in Sociology and Cultural Anthropology, with an emphasis on the political marginalization of gender-based groups. An active feminist and LGBTQI advocate, she has worked as a concept development and brand consultant and now writes full-time.

She lives just outside Chicago with three cats and a Scotsman, with whom she shares a love of all things geekdom, from Lord of the Rings to Lost. When she's not blogging, she can usually be found at her piano or dancing like no one is watching to a Smiths' tune. Email Liss.

Arkades is a gay, married, heavyset, eclectic, eccentric Midwesterner. He jots the odd rant now and then, and is otherwise content to add pithy and sometimes snarky observations to discussions-in-progress. Topics of interest include gender and gender roles, sexuality, media, pop culture, politics, and (of course) beards and bears. Email Arkades.

Erica C. Barnett is a Texas expatriate living and shivering in Seattle, Washington. She has a large vegetable garden, a road bike she frequently leaves on the bus, and a job writing about local politics for Seattle's alternative weekly. Michael Nesmith is her favorite Monkee. Email Erica.

Kenny Blogginz is a fearless leader of the next generation of American Patriots. When he isn't busily combating the radical gay feminazi agenda by wielding his Jesus-sword and flag-shield, he attends college in Northwest Indiana.

All Kenny Blogginz really wants is an uninterrupted afternoon to watch Lost and smoke some weed. Email KBlogz.

CaitieCat is a UK-born Canadian, with a Room of Her Own in southern Ontario (but not in Toronto!). She's a polyglot and a cunning linguist, a writer, painter, editor, soccer player, referee, actor, director, scriptwriter, cane-user, grandmother, bisexual, polyamourist, gamer, stand-up comic poet, Marxist, feminist, bassist, history wonk, and geek. Also, some people used to mistake her for a boy, but she's feeling much better now. Email CaitieCat.

Deeky was born and raised in Los Angeles. He now lives in Missouri.

When he's not gracing Shakesville with his estimable, you can find him reviewing movies at Surfin' Dead or waxing deektastic at El Deeky de los Muertos. Email Deeky.

Elle is an assistant professor of history, a conflicted southerner, and a single mama. She's also an aspiring author—both in the sense of not-yet-published and in her fervent wish to have an uninterrupted year to write about whatever strikes her fancy (and she does like to have her fancy struck). Her professional and personal work encompass many topics—women, African Americans, the South, labor, and black-brown relations, just to name a few. She also blogs here. Email Elle.

Benjamin H. Grumbles is Head Detector of Potions, Elixirs, and Poisons for the US Government and Its Occupied Territories. His hobbies are fisticuffs, driving a penny-farthing, and drinking your milkshake, all of which he pursues with an abundance of gumption. He resides on a steamboat headquartered on the Mighty Mississip with his wife Vivian. Email Benjamin H. Grumbles.

The Heretik is a wanton purveyor of heresy.

When he's not scandalizing Shakesville with his profligate sacrilege, you can find him fomenting dissent at his own blog. Email the Heretik.

Misty is a tea-guzzling, latté-sipping, book-obsessed progressive living in the PNW with her husband, four offspring, black lab, and torbie kitty overlord. When not chasing toddlers around, you might find her in the kitchen baking yet another loaf of french bread while listening to NPR. Or re-reading a book for the zillionth time. Or perhaps watching As Time Goes By or that deep, thought-provoking show, So You Think You Can Dance? Then again, she might just be out driving to the store in her rockin' minivan with the windows rolled down and the Lord of the Rings soundtrack turned up. Because she is just.that.awesome. Email Misty.

Mustang Bobby is a writer and blogger who looks at the world with dry bemusement and tries to get through life without bumping into the furniture. In addition to Shakesville, his work can be read at his own blogs, Bark Bark Woof Woof and Bobby Cramer, and at the literary group blog The Practical Press. Email Mustang Bobby.

Paul the Spud is the original Mai Tai recipe.

1 1/2 oz fresh lime juice, 1/2 oz Curacao, 1/3 oz orgeat syrup, 1/4 oz rock candy syrup, 1 oz aged Jamaican rum, 1 oz Martinique rum. Shake ingredients well. Serve in a double old-fashioned glass filled with crushed ice and spent lime shell. Garnish with mint sprig. Email Spudsy.

Petulant is a pissy lad with a chip on his shoulder because _______. Fill in the blank and it will probably be true. He is allergic to shellfish, hates pedestrians, and the aches and pains of this reality find him reaching for the nearest bottle. (If a representative of Big Pharma is reading this, email him for where to send your samples.) He is the proprietor of Petulant Rumblings and spends more time on his ass than necessary for one human. He likes to call himself a confirmed cynic, but might actually see some hope in the world if there is sufficient Champagne. Email Petulant.

Teh Portly Dyke is 50-something, 5 ft. (in shoes), 155 lbs. Pretty handy with a thesaurus, says "fuck" a lot. A founding Member of the Lesbian Grand Council and licensed distributor for Titty-Wrap Hugs, Inc.[twh]., her super-power is Occasional Fits of Pique and her aliases include Chatty Cathy, Troll-Bane, Ms. Deity, The Right Reverend, and Kwisatz Fatterach. She can also be found at her own blog, Teh Portly Dyke. Email Portly Dyke.

Quixote has been messing about for far too long getting a degree in naturopathic medicine, a doctorate in biology, and teaching college to make a living (in a purely academic sense). Q will probably never figure out "what I want to be when I grow up," but is having heaps of fun writing science fiction and ranting here at Shakesville, at Acid Test, and in comments all over blogland. Email Quixote.

Chet Scoville was born and raised in the swamps of New Jersey, and now teaches English in the rockier terrain of the University of Toronto. He is a well-camouflaged, nocturnal creature who prefers to avoid situations of conflict; why he blogs is therefore something of a mystery to biologists. When he's not at Shakesville, he can either be found grousing about life at his own blog, The Vanity Press, listening to old Kirsty MacColl tunes, or muttering darkly that hot pepper sauce should have been his invention. Email Chet.

Mr. Shakes, aka Iain, is originally from Edinburgh, Scotland, where he spent his formative years learning to imbibe mass amounts of alcohol without falling over, refining his caustic wit to weapons-grade snarkery, and building up an immunity to iocane powder. He moved to America just a year into the Bush administration and has regretted it ever since.

He now lives just outside Chicago with three cats and an American. Email Mr. Shakes.

Shark Fu, a.k.a. AngryBlackBitch, Mistress of Correction, High Priestess of the United Church of Bitchitude and Latter Day Drunks, and the Supreme Empress of Keeping it Real. Proudly practicing the fine art of bitchitude since 1973! When she's not blinking it up at Shakesville, she can be found at her own blog, AngryBlackBitch. Email Shark Fu.

SKM lives in a converted ice cream parlor among the steep stairways of Pittsburgh's South Side. When not reading, writing, or being a professional Auntie, she may be on a hike or a hunt for fabulous fabric or wild sourdough cultures. A graduate of Brown University and Chatham University, she spent 10 years doing lab research in genetics and immunology before turning to her current project on the anatomical mystery of how so many people manage to put their feet in their mouths while their heads are so far up their asses. Email SKM.

Space Cowboy is also known as Volcanus Eruptus, which references the simmering cauldron of rage that exists just below his deceptively pleasant exterior. Either way, he's a happily married dork living in New Jersey. By day, he's a mild-mannered software developer who blows off work to write posts. By evening, he's a gamer, part-time drummer, and human slave to one wife and two felines. Email Space Cowboy.

Jon Swift is a reasonable conservative who likes to write about politics and culture. Since the media is biased he gets all his news from Fox News, Rush Limbaugh and Jay Leno monologues. You can also find him serving up his Swiftian Swiftiness at his own blog, the aptly-named Jon Swift. Email Jon Swift.

Todd was born and raised in Northwest Indiana where he spent most of his time with Melissa worshipping and impersonating Morrissey. He then escaped to Chicago and graduated from Loyola University with a Communication major and English and Sociology minors. He also partied a little too much, got his heart broken a few times, learned a few lessons, and used it all for writing material. He still resides in Chicago where he works in the marketing department of a law firm and spends his free time planning his next big move. Wait for it .... Email Todd.

Guest Blogger: Shakesville regularly features guest posts by a variety of bloggers. If you're interested in guest blogging at Shakesville, please email Liss with your request.

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