Syntax Error

Emma Thompson signs Polanski petition. Emma Thompson fights sex trade. One of these things is not like the other. Does not compute.

Open Wide...

Open Thread

Hosted by the Weebles Haunted House.

Happy Halloween!

Open Wide...

The Virtual Pub Is Open

TFIF, Shakers!

Belly up to the bar,
and name your poison!

Open Wide...

Bonus Kitteh

The kittehs of Shakes Manor: Matilda demonstrates that she is blue-eyed fuzzy, squeaky, and purrs like a lawnmower. Olivia is a playful doofus with an attackable tail. Sophie is absurdly cute and does curling belly reveals to prove it. (That's Kenny Blogginz who can also be heard talking/laughing in the clips of Livs attacking a wire.)

Open Wide...

Gore Vidal, Rape Apologist

[Trigger warning.]

In an interview with The Atlantic, "American literary and cultural icon" Gore Vidal offers his take on Polanski:

I really don't give a fuck. Look, am I going to sit and weep every time a young hooker feels as though she's been taken advantage of?
I don't even know where to begin with that shit. Leaving aside the fact that Polanski's 13-year-old victim was not, in fact, "a hooker," even if she had been, sex workers have the same right to consent as any other person does. Vidal is, of course, a Fauxgressive King, so perhaps I shouldn't be shocked, but I am, that he's eminently willing to treat that simple concept with such resounding contempt, given his commitment to sexual freedoms. I suppose "hookers" who reserve the right to not be "taken advantage of" are merely an impediment to the sexual freedoms he had in mind for pansexual intellectuals who can't be arsed with bourgeois concepts like consent.

When the interviewer, John Meroney, responds, politely, "I've certainly never heard that take on the story before," Vidal goes on to explain:
First, I was in the middle of all that. Back then, we all were. Everybody knew everybody else. There was a totally different story at the time that doesn't resemble anything that we're now being told.

The media can't get anything straight. Plus, there's usually an anti-Semitic and anti-fag thing going on with the press – lots of crazy things. The idea that this girl was in her communion dress, a little angel all in white, being raped by this awful Jew, Polacko – that's what people were calling him – well, the story is totally different now from what it was then.

...Anti-Semitism got poor Polanski. He was also a foreigner. He did not subscribe to American values in the least. To [his persecutors], that seemed vicious and unnatural.
I don't doubt for a moment that anti-Semitism was expressed against Polasnki 30 years ago, because anytime any person from a marganalized group does anything for which they're widely criticized (rightly or wrongly), there will be some people who infuse that criticism with bigotry. And while the coverage of the case today may well be focused more on the facts of the case and less on trying to demonize Polanki, that's not because "the story" is different: It's because feminists have spent the interceding decades doing vigorous public survivor advocacy and educating the public about victim-blaming, so details of any rape matter to more people than they did in the 1970s. (Though we still have a long, long way to go.)

All of which is to say: The facts are the facts. And Polanski's being subjected to anti-Semitism does not mean there is not a legitimate case against him. It is one of the many unfortunate contradictions of our multi-bigoted culture that a rapist can also be a victim of racism. As Shaker ErisDiscordia pointed out just earlier today in this thread about a current rape case in California: "This is going to be a trainwreck of victim-blaming versus racism. On the one hand, the victim is a female rape victim, and we know how about how much judges and juries care about them, but on the other hand, there are an awful lot of 'foreign-sounding' names on that list of suspects. What a nightmare."

When the race-baiting starts, it won't make those rapists any less guilty. Not now, not in 30 years.

Back to Vidal. He is then asked, "So you're saying that a non-Jewish director wouldn't have to worry about getting caught up in a sex crime scandal? Such a thing wouldn't be an issue for Martin Scorsese?" And as if to hammer the nail into his own coffin, he responds:
Well, he's an absolutely sexless director. Can you think of a sex scene that he ever shot?
Well, yeah. But aside from the multiple sex scenes I can immediately recall from his films, I also recall his infamous cameo from Taxi Driver, in which he plays a passenger who excitedly natters at Travis Bickle: "Have you ever seen what a .44 Magnum can do to a woman's pussy? What a .44 Magnum can do to a woman's pussy, now that you should see!"

It is one of the most disturbing and ominous references to sexual violence I've ever seen committed to film, one of the scenes I most closely associated with Martin Scorsese (which is, in case it's not evident, not a compliment), and yet Vidal casually thinks of him as "an absolutely sexless director."

I suppose that's merely one of many bookends marking the cavernous difference between myself and Mr. Vidal.

Open Wide...

Daily Kitteh

Cat butt.

Open Wide...

Trigger Warning: Update2 and Teaspoons

STRONG TRIGGER WARNING. This is an update to the story of a 15-year-old girl who was gang-raped for more than two hours during a high school homecoming dance by as many as 10 young men, while as many as 15 more watched. Part One. Part Two.

Six suspects have been arrested and four of them made their first court appearance yesterday:

Three defendants, all of them juveniles charged as adults, were wearing bulletproof vests when they were led into Superior Court by a corps of Contra Costa County sheriff's deputies.
I'm very unhappy with myself for the resentment I feel at reading about their being afforded this consideration for their lives. It's not that I want them to not have those vests (especially given they've not been convicted of anything yet); I actually feel sick that they need them. I'm just irrationally pissed at the symbolism of their being shown concern they did not show to their victim.
The three - one of whom had a black eye - looked morose and said nothing as relatives wept in the gallery.

Only one, 15-year-old Cody Ray Smith of San Pablo, entered a plea - not guilty - during the brief arraignment in Richmond.

...A fifth suspect, 21-year-old Salvador Rodriguez of Richmond, has been arrested but has not been charged.

...Richmond police arrested a sixth suspect, Jose Carlos Montano, 18, Thursday afternoon near his San Pablo home. Montano was booked on felony charges of rape, rape in concert with force, and penetration with a foreign object. His bail was set at $1.3 million.

Smith and two other defendants, Marcelles James Peter, 17, of Pinole and Ari Abdallah Morales, 16, of San Pablo, are juveniles being charged as adults. They all face felony counts of rape in concert, otherwise known as gang rape, and penetration with a foreign object. Morales also is charged with felony robbery for allegedly stealing the girl's jewelry.

The boys are being held at juvenile hall in Martinez on no bail.

The fourth suspect, 19-year-old Manuel Ortega of Richmond, is charged with rape in concert, robbery and assault causing great bodily injury. He is being held on $1.2 million bail.

All four face potential sentences of life in prison if convicted.

..."This is a horrible tragedy," [Morales' attorney, Ernie Castillo] said of the gang rape. "It's hard to understand how something like this could happen at an American high school."
No, it really isn't.

Richmond High School is accepting cards and donations for the victim and her family, which should be mailed to the school at 1250 23rd Street, Richmond, CA 94804-1011. Checks should be made out to the Richmond High Student Fund, with "For sex assault victim" written in the memo line.

[H/T to Shaker Julia.]

Open Wide...

Today's Edition of "Conniving and Sinister"


Strips One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven, Eight, Nine, Ten, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51, 52, 53, 54, 55, 56, 57, 58. In which Liss reimagines the long-running comic "Frank & Ernest," about two old straight white guys "telling it like it is," as a fat feminist white woman and a biracial queerbait telling it like it actually is from their perspectives. Hilarity ensues.

Open Wide...


by Shaker EastSideKate, a feminist teacher/scholar/mother/partner/derbygirl from Upstate New York.

[I'd like to totally undercut my credibility by mentioning that I hadn't heard of this particular case prior to today. I'd be grateful to hear from folks with knowledge of asylum policies. I'm especially interested to hear how the US compares to other nations.]

I ran across an absolutely better-than-bad, and in many ways good [trigger warning for descriptions of domestic violence] story in the New York Times this morning. The Obama administration has recommended that the US grant political asylum to Ms. Rody Alvarado Peña, who entered the country after escaping from an abusive husband in her native Guatemala (background here). According to the Times, activists are hopeful that Alvarado's case will set a precedent for abused women seeking asylum, and that it will ultimately lead to a coherent, humane asylum policy. If a federal immigration judge goes along with the administration's recommendation, Ms. Alvarado will be allowed to stay in the US, rather than being sent back to a potentially deadly situation. This is good news.

Not to be a buzzkill, but this story reminds me of something Angela Davis brought up a couple of weeks ago when she was giving a lecture out here. She mentioned the understandable happiness that many New Yorkers were feeling when Governor Paterson signed a measure that prohibited the shackling of pregnant prisoners during delivery. Clearly, the legislation in question was good, but a couple of things come to mind.

First, it's shocking that action from the legislature and Governor was a prerequisite to treating women like people. Second, New York became the sixth state to ban this practice (the Federal Bureau of Prisons did so last year). I'm pretty sure this doesn't call for an "in your face, Jersey!," ya' know? Third, Davis said (a quick scan of the internet didn't produce any links) that this piece of legislation had languished in Albany for 9 years, presumably because somebody was concerned about the cons of not shackling pregnant prisoners.

Back to Ms. Alvarado's case. She's been in the United States for fourteen years. She's also been in-and-out of immigration court for most of that time. While Ms. Alvarado has been living in limbo, her two children have grown up in Guatemala. As in the case of prison shackling, nobody (as far as I know) is debating the veracity of Ms. Alvarado's story. The hand-wringing has been about whether the government should actually care enough to intervene. The US doesn't have a policy in place that allows victims of domestic violence to seek asylum here. This case also doesn't appear to be about whether we might, you know, create such a policy. Rather, Ms. Alvarado's case turns on the issue of whether we can interpret existing statutes that protect politically persecuted classes to include her. (And only her.)

America's policy towards battered women (or at least those who are being battered by spouses in foreign countries) appears to be getting better. As a result of slow deliberations, the U.S., according to the Times' headline "May be Open to Asylum for Spouse Abuse." Certainly, this is a step in the right direction, but also cause for us to consider our government's hesitancy. I see two big stumbling blocks.

First, American society writ large seems to be concerned that people might actually want to come live here. Which people? For lack of a more nuanced way of putting it, plenty of Americans seem worried that poor brown people or other folks who totally don't deserve the awesomeness that we have built for ourselves with our own hands and Godandthebibleandpickuptrucksamen are going to start coming here. Thus, we put would-be immigrants in the position of having to defend their right to live here. In the case of Ms. Alvarado, this means that rather than simply saying that she wants to be here, she has to give us a good reason.

Moreover, someone, somewhere, gets to pass judgment (I believe the person in question is often called a judge, for obvious reasons) on whether that reason really is "good" (not in a philosophical sense, of course, but rather in the sense that it jives with how someone chooses to interpret the laws and policy that someone else has chosen to make).

Second, our distrust of certain foreigners and our concern that folks might actually be able to claim asylum has led to painfully deliberate policy. Ms. Alvarado and women like her can only claim asylum if someone in the American government decides that abused women are a politically persecuted class. The fact that the U.S. government may actually recognize that abused women constitute a politically persecuted class is interesting in its own right (and is yet another reason for a half-hearted parade). By the way, do you smell the lawyers yet? Fourteen years worth of lawyers?

Obviously, there is an appeals process in place, ostensibly to protect applicants against whom the government has ruled. Still, it is Ms. Alvarado who is on trial here, not her abusive husband. While in theory, our asylum policy is set up as tedious to minimize the number of people sent back to dangerous situations, as far as I can tell, the reality is just the opposite. Using this case as a benchmark, it appears (shockingly, I know) as though the American immigration system functions to minimize the chances that the wrong people might accidentally end up legally living in the United States. How else does one explain fourteen years and counting?

Open Wide...

From the First Family of Mendacious Dummies

You don't even have to pay $4.95 to hear Jeb Bush, son of former president Wimpy Pukeworthy and brother of former president Mondo Fucko, talking crap:

During remarks to a U.S. Chamber of Commerce legal summit in Washington, Bush had tough words for the president in response to an audience question.

"I think President Obama has used the bully pulpit as a way to attack capitalism," he said, according to
File this under "If only!"

Unfortunately, the reality is that Obama is a corporate shill, like just about every other elected official in Washington, who has continued to line the pockets of defense contractors, bankers, the insurance industry, Big Pharma, Big Oil, Big Agriculture, and about eight gazillion lobbyists for every conceivable corporate vocation, while showing almost no discernible interest in corporate regulation, busting media monopolies, workers' rights legislation, unionization, single-payer healthcare, the reversal of corporate personhood, or anything else that would significantly benefit the average American citizen, worker, and/or consumer.

The assertion that Obama has attacked capitalism is one that has no basis in fact and very little resemblance to anything that might fairly be identified as "reality."

Open Wide...

Healthcare Open Thread

Krugman calls this "the defining moment for health care reform."


Open Wide...

Quote of the Day

[Trigger warning]

"The noose has tightened around the necks of Christians to keep them from speaking out on certain moral issues. And it all was embodied in something called the Hate crimes bill that President Obama said was a major victory for America. I’m not sure if America was the beneficiary. [...] We have voted into office a group of people who are opposed to many of the fundamental Christian beliefs of our nation. And they hold to radical ideology, and they are beginning put people sharing their points of view into high office. And not only that, they not only have control of both houses of Congress."—Pat Robertson, televangelist and peddler of snake-oil, on the passage of the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act.

Just because some people do not share his fundamentalist Christian beliefs does not make them opposed to them. It just means they aren't his kind of Christian, and he don't get to decide who is or who isn't a Christian, either. There are an awful lot of people in this country who do not share his beliefs, fundamental or Christian, including Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Wiccans, and all of the other colors of the faith spectrum, as well as atheist or agnostic. If that is a "radical ideology," that's been the way of this country since it was founded.

Second, the provisions of the Hate Crimes Prevention act also include protection for people who are attacked for their faith or atheism. That not only includes people who are attacked for being Jewish, Muslim, or none of the above, it also protects fundamentalist Christians. So if someone decided to put a noose around the neck of Christians, they too would be prosecuted under the law. After all, there are those who consider Mr. Robertson's fundamental Christianity to be a "radical ideology," especially since his hatred of all things gay is diametrically opposed to the teachings of Jesus Christ who taught his followers to "love thy neighbor." (By the way, nice use of the lynching imagery there, Mr. Robertson. Think about that one for a minute.)

It is obviously beyond Mr. Robertson's ability to understand that the expansion of rights and protections under the law is not a zero sum proposition. Preachers of homophobia did not lose their right to shout their hatred from the pulpit or the street corner; they are, however, accountable -- as they always have been -- for their actions.


Open Wide...

While the faithful blush…

Cross posted from

Did y'all miss a bitch?



Shall we?

Full disclosure – a bitch is not Catholic. I’m not even a former Catholic. So, outraged Catholic Anonymouses can just skip the bullshit about how I need to say five Hail Mary’s and then blah blah and blah.

I was raised Baptist and we don’t roll that way.


A bitch stumbled on an article published on the anti-choice anti-knowledge freakishly inaccurate website (wince…yes, I know…but if a bitch can’t suffer a fright the day before Halloween something is wrong with the world). The article’s title, Abp. Dolan: American Catholic Leadership against Abortion Redeems Laxity against Slavery, caused chills to run up and down my spine.

Oh no!

Oh HELL no!

Please tell me these motherfuckers aren’t going to go there…like they keep going there over the Holocaust.

And the choir said… “But Shark-Fu, you know these antis can be trifling!”

And a bitch responded… “True, true…sad and true.”

I read on.

And damn it all to hell if New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan didn’t write the article in Catholic New York Online citing the Constitution’s prior acceptance of slavery as one reason to dismiss the constitutionality of abortion rights.

Knowing that when the Catholic Church brings up slavery they are bringing up something they ignored, in many cases supported, advocated for in certain situations and damn sure profited from….cough…Dolan made sure to acknowledge that in his own special insulting as hell way. quotes Abp. Dolan…

"Our faces blush with shame as we Catholics admit we did so little to end slavery," … "but we can smile and thank God that the Church has indeed been prophetic, courageous and counter cultural in the right to life movement."

Pause…allow to marinate…continue.

Dolan went on to emphasize…

"The most pressing life issue today is abortion," … "If we're wrong on that one, we're just plain wrong."


Just in case no one bothered, allow a bitch to confirm that you are indeed the very definition of wrong.

“Our faces blush”


Glad to know Abp. Dolan’s response to his church’s history on slavery is the same as it would be if he were to emit a fierce stankified loud as hell fart in the middle of mass.

Lawd, have mercy!

Yeah, yeah, yeah… "two wrongs don’t make a right" jumped up into my head on this one too.

But my mind kept circling back to the premise of Dolan’s argument that the Catholic church fucked up it’s response to slavery but will redeem itself through it’s work against reproductive freedom…and my Afro began to throb and pulse in pain…not just because I’ve HAD IT with antis making slavery and Holocaust analogies, but because…well, the truth is…



As a matter of fact, states with large port cities…for example, New York…play a key role in modern slavery.

I even found several articles featuring Catholic efforts to address the issue of modern slavery…so Abp. Dolan could even get ‘bout the bitness of leading by example on this abomination from within the church…

…instead of repeating past sins while praising the faithful for working to create a world where the wages of not being a "good Catholic" are disease, struggle and death.

But that would be too much like right.




Open Wide...

Friday Blogaround

This blogaround brought to you by Shaxco, makers of Deeky's Pumpkinheads, for all your pumpkinhead needs.

Recommended Reading:

MediaGadfly: The Doctor is In—Alabama's Benjamin Confirmed as Surgeon General

Resistance: Sleeping While Brown

Angry Asian Man: "Asian Boobs" iPhone App

Renee: Disability and Loss

Sean: Has Fermi Seen New Evidence for Dark Matter?

Lauredhel: A Toddler Treadmill to Keep in Shape for Toddler Tassles

Leave your links in comments...

Open Wide...

Today in Painfully Ironic Disablism

Yesterday morning, there was an item in the NYT Arts section about the controversy surrounding the casting of 13-year-old sighted and hearing actress Abigail Breslin (of Little Miss Sunshine fame) in a Broadway revival of "The Miracle Worker," the play dramatizing the life of activist, advocate, and Suffragette Helen Keller, who was blind and deaf. Disability activists have protested the casting of an able-bodied actor in the role, and the way the casting was done—no deaf, blind, or deafblind actors were considered for the role.

Later in the day, some reader responses were posted, and despite this being a perfect example of what I expected, I still had to lolsob:

Post #2, by a commenter named Me, echoes a concern of the "Miracle Worker" producers: How technically proficient would a blind actor be working in the round — i.e., the small, circular stage of the production's theater, Circle in the Square?

"This is hard to say without sounding terrible, but: isn’t there a basic concern with blocking a blind character when the person playing the part is blind?" writes Me.
See, here's the thing: "The Miracle Worker" is based on the true story of a woman who was left deaf and blind by an early childhood illness, and the woman who became her instructor, herself visually impaired, who gave her student a vast vocabulary to communicate, allowing her to become a world-renowned speaker and author.

It's a play about a woman whose disabilities didn't limit her, about how, given the right tools, she was able to accomplish anything to which she set her formidable mind.

If you know this basic information about "The Miracle Worker," how are you going to question the ability of a deaf/blind professional stage actor to accomplish the basics of their job?! The irony, it burns.

It's especially searing coming from the producers of the play, who apparently think they're telling a story of exceptionalism. Or, perhaps, would have treated Keller herself with the same contempt for her ability, if actually faced with the prospect of working with her. It's enough to make one wonder why they would seek to tell her story in the first place.

The answer is likely money: "The Miracle Worker" has been wildly successful since it was first written, with countless productions and several film versions, so a revival was probably considered a low-risk, big-potential endeavor. As long as there was a star, of course:
The lead producer of the revival, David Richenthal, said in an interview that he had already made up his mind about his casting criteria for Helen when he chose to revive the William Gibson play -– he wanted a star. The only way to make money for his investors in a commercial Broadway revival of a play these days, Mr. Richenthal believes, is to cast stars, and his research did not turn up any young well known actresses who were deaf or blind.

"It's simply naïve to think that in this day and age, you'll be able to sell tickets to a play revival solely on the potential of the production to be a great show or on the potential for an unknown actress to give a breakthrough performance," Mr. Richenthal said. "I would consider it financially irresponsible to approach a major revival without making a serious effort to get a star."
Provided that's true (and I'm not remotely certain it is; the progressive casting of a deaf/blind actor in a prominent revivial would have been its own draw), perhaps Richenthal's "research" should have suggested he choose another play. Instead, he wants to argue that he ought not be criticized for mounting "The Miracle Worker" with a sighted and hearing actor, because there aren't any famous young deaf/blind stars who could play the role. (And it is other producers' responsibility to create those deaf/blind stars, not his!) Plus, it might be hard to work with a deaf/blind actor. (And that's obviously because of the deafness/blindness, not because of the disablism that has rendered his production clueless how to block a character for a deaf/blind actor!)

The fail just keeps coming.

Again from the post sharing reader comments comes this bit of much-needed sense and perspective care of playwright Christopher Shinn:
In his post No. 18, the playwright Christopher Shinn ("Dying City," "On the Mountain") reacted to earlier comments by writing that "there seems to be a hostility towards the idea that the best person to represent disability would be someone who had experienced disability directly."

"I think the possibility must be examined that part of the appeal of many successful disability narratives (especially in film) is that we are constantly reassured that the actor portraying the disability in no way suffers from it," he goes on to say. "If this is true, it doesn't just weaken the purpose of producing the work in the first place — it actually propagates an ideology completely at odds with the work."

And I struggle to see how it is that relying on the invisibility of deaf/blind actors created by bigotry, and espousing prejudices about their abilities, is not completely at odds with everything that Helen Keller's life and accomplishments convey.

I would recommend that Mr. Richenthal see a production of "The Miracle Worker," but he's obviously familiar with the material. He's just resistant to internalizing it.

Perhaps he could go see one of the many productions that have been staged by sight- and/or hearing-impaired companies.

Open Wide...

What the Hell?

Shaker Shelly

Your tough (but fair) queen.

(If you've a ridiculous and/or embarrassing photo of yourself from your youth, please send it to shakerwhatthehell_at_yahoo_dot_com. I'll post them up as part of our series called What The Hell? so everyone can laugh at with you.)

[See also: Deeky, Liss, evilsciencechick, katecontinued, ClumsyKisses, Mistress Sparkletoes, Liiiz, Reedme, Mama Shakes, Mustang Bobby, RedSonja, MomTFH, Portly Dyke, SteffaB, Icca, Christina, Orangelion03, Car, Siobhan, InfamousQBert, Maud, Rikibeth, MishaRN, CLD, Cheezwiz, MamaCarrie, Temeraire, somebodyoranother, goldengirl, Liss (again), summerwing, yeomanpip, Susan811, bbl, Deeky (Part II), A Daily Shakesville Fan, Sami_J, liberalandproud Temeraire: Redux, Mama Shakes II, Bonus Deeky, OuyangDan, J.Goff, Iain, Talonas, The Great Indoors, gogo, kiwi_a, em_and_ink, Tik_bev, phdintraining, Deeky Freakhands, busydani, Jenny Anne, rowmyboat, DesertRose, Steve/Pido, Anne Onymous, phredrika, The Last of the Famous International Deekys, Iain, Another Mustang Bobby, mkp-hearts-nyc, Arvan, Norbizness, Electrasteph, SteffaB, molliecat, Aestas, catvoncat, and Filthy Grandeur.]

Open Wide...


The Washington Post is reporting that "more than 30 lawmakers and several aides" are being investigated by the House Ethics Committee after a confidential committee report was left on "a publicly accessible computer network." Someone found it and sent it to the WaPo.

The 22-page "Committee on Standards Weekly Summary Report" gives brief summaries of ethics panel investigations of the conduct of 19 lawmakers and a few staff members. It also outlines the work of the new Office of Congressional Ethics, a quasi-independent body that initiates investigations and provides recommendations to the ethics committee. The document indicated that the office was reviewing the activities of 14 other lawmakers. Some were under review by both ethics bodies.
Another story details the investigation focusing on seven members of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, based on their ties to "PMA, a lobbying firm founded by Paul Magliocchetti that has been under criminal investigation by the Justice Department."

There are a lot of Dems on that list, who appear to be playing a very similar game to the one the GOP's been playing with characters like Jack Abramoff.

We've got a government bought and sold by corporations. It's evident in our defense policy, it's evident in our economic strategies, it's evident in the clusterfuck known as healthcare reform, it's evident everywhere one looks. And neither of the parties give a shit, because politics is all about money now, and corporations are the ones who've got it. They might still tell themselves stories about how they need corporations' money to get elected to do the job for their constituents, but there are very few people left in Congress for whom some corporate sponsor isn't their primary constituent.

And we're on our own.

Open Wide...

Open Thread

Hosted by The Clown With the Tear-Away Face.

Open Wide...

Two-Minute Nostalgia Sublime

Tales from the Crypt

Open Wide...

Question of the Day

It's a spooky Halloween QOTD! Booooo!

What used to scare the bejeezus out of you when you were a kid that seems completely innocuous now?

When I was a kid, I was terrified of this vintage skeleton Halloween decoration we would hang on the front door. Now I think it's awesome. (Sorry about the blurry photo; it was the only one I could find of this particular decoration.)

Nothing cartoony about that guy; it was just a HORRIBLE SKELETON COMING TO GET YOU AIIIEEE.

Non-Halloween related, I was also completely pants-wetting freaked by the Jester guy at the end of the "King of Eight" segment on Sesame Street. But the rest of it was so cool that I would sit there with my hand on the volume knob watching the segment. When I knew he was coming, I'd turn the volume down and look the other way until I knew he was gone.

And you?

Open Wide...

This is a real thing in the world.

It's a t-shirt with nipple tassles on it. For toddlers.

Open Wide...

Photo of the Day

Cameroon—At the Sanaga-Yong Chimpanzee Rescue Center, more than a dozen residents form a gallery of grief, looking on as Dorothy—a beloved female felled in her late 40s by heart failure—is borne to her burial.
The photo was taken by Monica Szczupider, who explains: "Her presence, and loss, was palpable, and resonated throughout the group. The management at Sanaga-Yong opted to let Dorothy's chimpanzee family witness her burial, so that perhaps they would understand, in their own capacity, that Dorothy would not return. Some chimps displayed aggression while others barked in frustration. But perhaps the most stunning reaction was a recurring, almost tangible silence. If one knows chimpanzees, then one knows that [they] are not [usually] silent creatures."

[Via Andy.]

Open Wide...

Bonus Assholes

[Background in threads here and here.]

Open Wide...

Um, Okay

Sandra Bullock:

[My mom] did what she did and didn't care what people thought. But as a kid, I was like, 'Oh, dear God, please make her stop and be normal.' I wanted an ordinary mom. My sister, Gesine, and I were lucky enough to be raised by a mother who did things unconventionally, and a father who was fine with the kids being raised that way. There was no gender in our house. I didn't realize that I couldn't do what boys could do, because my dad raised me as a boy.
There was no gender in our house…my dad raised me as a boy.

You see, because male is default human and to be female means you have a gender.

(From the same interview, I also love: "If you don't have kids and animals, you don't truly know what real life is about." I never tire of being told I am incomplete because I do not want to be a parent. Wheeeeee!)

Open Wide...

Daily Kitteh

Little Thing:

Big Thing:

Olivia was not available for comment.

Open Wide...

Quote of the Day

"That's just a strange coincidence. When you do so many vetoes, that's bound to happen."Aaron McLear, spokesperson for California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, on the subtext found in the note accompanying the governor's veto of a bill sponsored by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, who reportedly shouted "You lie!" at Schwarzenegger during a Democratic Party fund-raiser in San Francisco earlier this month.

The Independent reports that the mathematical probability of such an unorchestrated "strange coincidence" is 8,031,810,176 to 1.

Open Wide...

Today's Edition of "Conniving and Sinister"


Strips One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven, Eight, Nine, Ten, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51, 52, 53, 54, 55, 56, 57. In which Liss reimagines the long-running comic "Frank & Ernest," about two old straight white guys "telling it like it is," as a fat feminist white woman and a biracial queerbait telling it like it actually is from their perspectives. Hilarity ensues.

Open Wide...

Halloween Costumes

I've been on the search for a new costume for this year's Halloween festivities, because A) I enjoy dressing up, and 2) my gorilla outfit is getting old. I've had no real luck.

My co-workers have been trying to get me to purchase a Captain America costume so I can participate in their little superhero theme, but until fags can legally get married everywhere in this country, this fag is not dressing up as Captain America. It's a matter of principle. Plus, I just don't like superheroes. Or my co-workers.

I did find this awesome thing, and would have bought it if I could have somehow rationalized spending the seventy bucks it would have set me back:

Maybe next year.


Open Wide...

Actual Headline

Exclusive: Kate Hudson and Alex Rodriguez "Love Sex," Says Pal.

Now, just on its own, that's a completely absurd "news" headline, even for entertainment news. (And calling it an exclusive is positively hilarious.) I could write an entire post on how a headline breathlessly announcing a famous couple "love sex" is emblematic of a celebrity culture in which every mundane detail of the personal lives of public figures are commoditized and packaged for public consumption in a way unhealthy for both consumed and consumer.

But today I'm more interested in the fact that this "news story"—including "exclusive" details like "Apparently, New York Yankee Alex Rodriguez is a homerun in the bedroom. That's what girlfriend Kate Hudson has been telling close pals" and "Hudson, 30, is aware of Rodriguez's playboy rep: During his five-year marriage to wife Cynthia, he stepped out with stripper Joslyn Noel Morse; another fling recalls portraits of the slugger as a centaur hanging over his bed" and "Rodriguez, 34, has confided that Hudson means more to him than Madonna, whom he dated after his 2008 split with wife Cynthia" (did you get all that? because if not, let me reiterate it for you: ALEX RODRIGUEZ LOVES SEX WITH LOTS OF WOMEN!)—comes just a week after a photo of A-Rod squeezing Derek Jeter's ass flew 'round the internetz.

Anytime a male public figure is plagued by rumors of Teh Dreaded Gay Ohnoes! there are stories about how hot the sex he's having with his partner are. Following a new round of rumors about Tom Cruise and Will Smith this summer, Cruise's wife Katie Holmes put him on a sex diet, and Smith's wife Jada Pinkett Smith spent her interviews promoting her new series talking about the couple's hot sex life.

This sort of spin dates back to Liberace (who totes loved the ladies for realz!), but in recent years it's becoming increasingly explicit, which ultimately serves to turn the female partners as sex props. Women who are famous in their own right, who had their own successful careers, are now so thoroughly objectified as Trophies of Heterosexuality in the couple's PR, that even a legit relationship looks like a staged partnership between a Very Important Man and the human evidence of his straightness.

Another hideous intersection between the misogyny that defines women as the sex class and the homophobia that makes "gay" the worst thing any famous man could be.

[Commenting Note: Please consider as you comment that observations like "Duh, of course they love sex! Who doesn't?!" will be alienating to asexual Shakers. "Loving sex" is not axiomatic; there is no assertion in the post that it is, and comments to that effect are not on-topic.]

Open Wide...

What the Hell?

Shaker Filthy Grandeur

The missing Olsen Twin.

(If you've a ridiculous and/or embarrassing photo of yourself from your youth, please send it to shakerwhatthehell_at_yahoo_dot_com. I'll post them up as part of our series called What The Hell? so everyone can laugh at with you.)

[See also: Deeky, Liss, evilsciencechick, katecontinued, ClumsyKisses, Mistress Sparkletoes, Liiiz, Reedme, Mama Shakes, Mustang Bobby, RedSonja, MomTFH, Portly Dyke, SteffaB, Icca, Christina, Orangelion03, Car, Siobhan, InfamousQBert, Maud, Rikibeth, MishaRN, CLD, Cheezwiz, MamaCarrie, Temeraire, somebodyoranother, goldengirl, Liss (again), summerwing, yeomanpip, Susan811, bbl, Deeky (Part II), A Daily Shakesville Fan, Sami_J, liberalandproud Temeraire: Redux, Mama Shakes II, Bonus Deeky, OuyangDan, J.Goff, Iain, Talonas, The Great Indoors, gogo, kiwi_a, em_and_ink, Tik_bev, phdintraining, Deeky Freakhands, busydani, Jenny Anne, rowmyboat, DesertRose, Steve/Pido, Anne Onymous, phredrika, The Last of the Famous International Deekys, Iain, Another Mustang Bobby, mkp-hearts-nyc, Arvan, Norbizness, Electrasteph, SteffaB, molliecat, Aestas, and catvoncat.]

Open Wide...

Shaker Help Request

by an Anonymous Shaker

I was dismayed and surprised last night to discover, in a pile of my 11 year old son's school papers, a page torn from one of our local free newspapers. More specifically, this page was from the "personals" section, the rather euphemistic heading under which "escort agencies" advertise their services with colour pictures of the scantily clad or nude woman they have for sale. (They advertise for male escorts as well, but this page was all women).

Issues of consent and coercion are regular topics of conversation around our home, and we strive to raise both our kids with a sex-positive and open atmosphere and to our credit, our son frequently espouses feminist ideals and has a good concept of intersectionality. He is an advocate for GLBTIQ acceptance and speaks loudly against racism and ablism. I'm quite proud of him.

He is also at the very beginning of puberty, and it's clear that he's starting to seek out sexual imagery, no doubt to both answer his curiosities and to provide himself with, well, let's call it "inspiration."

Several things about this seem obvious to me: Obviously, we are going to have to have a talk about these advertisements. Obviously, he is seeking visual stimuli which is available and easy to obtain for an 11 year old and obviously he is going to experiment with all manners of things sexual over the next ten years or so. My problem, which is probably also obvious, is that I am concerned about these images (and moreso their context) informing what I'm fairly certain are his very early forays into masturbation. While he is well-educated about women's issues and I'm sure will display a good understanding of the problems of prostitution and the commodification of women when we talk about it, the subconscious mind is a powerful thing, and this is not imagery that I'm comfortable seeing imprinted onto his sexual development.

To complicate matters, we've spent the last few months ensuring that our home ceases to receive any magazines, catalogues or advertisements that we feel will encourage an unhealthy body image in our eight year old daughter, who seems all too eager to meet others expectations at the expense of her own individuality, so he doesn't have any of the classic standbys such as the Victoria's Secret catalogue, or mislabelled issues of Cosmo or whatever. (Which I tend to think would be the lesser of the evils.)

I think that a direct recommendation of what amounts to masturbation fodder from any of his parents would leave him feeling embarrassed and possibly create discomfort with or shame about his sexuality (particuarly following a discussion about women as a commodity), so I'm asking the Shakesville community for some advice on how to allow my son to explore his burgeoning sexuality in a more positive way, without compromising my daughter in the process. Can anyone offer me some advice on how to subtly guide him towards some more positive imagery? (Advice on the talk about the advertisements would not go unwanted, either, though I have a much better idea of how to address that issue, you lot often think of things that I haven't, as well.)

In the interest of protecting my son's privacy, I've asked Melissa to keep my identity anonymous. I ask that if any of you here recognize me or my son in these details, that you respect his privacy as well, and keep it to yourself.

Thanks, A Shaker

Open Wide...

GWM Seeks Same

Recently spotted in the personal ads:

Tired of all the circuit boys and flakes? Fit, attractive 20-something looking for distinguished gentleman for late-night walks, romantic movies and conversation. I'm into travel and fine dining and designer clothes. Looking for friendship and possible LTR. Versatile.
Earring Magic Ken (AKA Cockring Ken), circa 1993, was the gayest Ken ever created. Until Sugar Daddy Ken hit the scene. And yes, this photo was taken at my desk at work.


Open Wide...


Barbie Palm Beach Sugar Daddy Ken, onsale April 2010.

No, seriously:
Barbie Palm Beach Sugar Daddy Ken Doll Description:

• Head to Palm Beach with Barbie!
• Part of the elite Gold Label Collection, made with collectors in mind!
• Includes accessories and a certificate of authenticity.

Cool sophistication in breezy Palm Beach! Sporting a dashing jacquard-patterned jacket with a light pink polo shirt and crisp white pants, Ken doll is ready for Palm Beach social season, sunning by the pool and a stroll with his little companion. Fashion designed exclusively for the Silkstone Barbie doll body. Includes Ken doll, jacket, pink polo shirt, white shoes, dog with leash, swim trunks and accessories, doll stand and certificate of authenticity. For the adult collector. Order yours today!
Only $81.99!

I am very, very confused but equally intrigued by you, Palm Beach Sugar Daddy Ken. Part of me is recoiling in abject horror; the other part longs desperately for you, my precious. And your little dog, too.

Open Wide...

Open Thread

Hosted by Stripe.

Open Wide...

Two-Minute Nostalgia Sublime


Open Wide...

Top Chef Open Thread

Chef Tom Colicchio will drink. your. milkshake!!!

He would also like to know how you feel about a big hunk of meat slathered in some luscious sauce.

'Cuz he'll totes cook that shit up for you, yo.

What did you think he meant?!

Open Wide...

Question of the Day

What's the best movie title ever?

I give it up to Sasquatch Mountain. It's about a sasquatch and a mountain.

Open Wide...

What Do You Think of My New Sunglasses?

"I'm the new tough guy on the block!"

Open Wide...

Photo of the Day

Betty Byrd Boatner (C), sister of James Byrd, Jr. , embraces Judy Shepard (L), mother of Matthew Shepard, alongside US President Barack Obama after Obama spoke in honor of the enactment of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. , Hate Crimes Prevention Act during a reception in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC, October 28, 2009. In 1998, when he was a college student in Wyoming, Shepard was murdered because he was gay. Byrd, an African American man, was dragged behind a pickup truck to his death in Texas the same year. [Via.]

Open Wide...

Quote of the Day

"After more than a decade of opposition and delay, we've passed inclusive hate crimes legislation to help protect our citizens from violence based on what they look like, who they love, how they pray, or who they are."President Barack Obama, who earlier today signed the defense budget bill that includes the new hate crimes law, known as the Matthew Shepard Act.

[P.S. I know you have a problem getting this through your head, Mr. President, but some of us don't pray at all. And religion was already a protected class, so that was really unnecessary. Just sayin'.]

Open Wide...

More Law & Order Fail

[Trigger warning.]

Melissa Silverstein's got a must-read guest post by Jennifer Boulanger, M.Ed., the Executive Director of the Allentown Women's Center, an independent abortion and reproductive health care center in Pennsylvania, about last week's episode of Law & Order, which centered around late-term abortion.

There's contact info to register a complaint at the link, if you're so inclined.

I haven't watched any of the L&Os for ages, mostly because there just got to be too damn many episodes of megafail like this one. L&O:SVU is the worst, with so many episodes ending with a SHOCKING TWIST!!!! that totally turns reality about sex crimes on its head just to communicate that women are totes lying bitchez, amiright?

The first episode I've seen of any of them in I-don't-know-how-long happened to be the other night, when I was suffering a bout of insomnia, and it was the episode where Christine Lahti, one of my favorite actresses and so dreadfully under-used, playing the prosecutor, was humiliated by showing up drunk to court.

And not just run-of-the-mill humiliated. Oh no. Humiliated by getting called out by the defendant, a black-out alcoholic who'd raped and murdered a woman, for reasons he couldn't even remember, during a binge. And if that weren't bad enough, he got to go free because of prosecutorial misconduct attributed to her drinking.


Open Wide...

Today's Edition of "Conniving and Sinister"


Strips One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven, Eight, Nine, Ten, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51, 52, 53, 54, 55, 56. In which Liss reimagines the long-running comic "Frank & Ernest," about two old straight white guys "telling it like it is," as a fat feminist white woman and a biracial queerbait telling it like it actually is from their perspectives. Hilarity ensues.

Open Wide...

To tutu or not to tutu?

That is the question for a parent who wrote into the NYT's Motherlode blog:

Our son, M., is five. From the time he was born, or it seems that way anyway, he has liked pink, and sparkles and bows and the things you usually think of when you think of girls.

My husband and I understand that he is who he is. We haven’t made a big deal out of this, and we buy him the kinds of things that he likes when it comes to toys and clothes. We also try to ignore our relatives when they load him up with trucks and guns and toy hammers that he has no interest in, but it is hard smiling my thanks as they try to send a message.


...[H]e is in kindergarten and he wants to be a ballerina this year. I think it’s time to have him put away the tutu and be more like the other boys. My husband says that we can’t change him, and while I know my question probably sounds like I want to change him, or that I am embarrassed by him, I really mean it when I say that’s not my reason. Instead, I am worried about him getting hurt. Eventually other kids will notice and the teasing is inevitable. And one day someone will fight him over this. If I can protect him from that by explaining that this isn’t the way boys dress, then shouldn’t I? If should, then when do I start?
My short answer to her question is: Your husband is right and you should let him wear the tutu if that's what he wants and you should NOT force him to "be more like the other boys".

Halloween 2008, The Butterfly. Do you know how hard it is to find a good butterfly costume that isn't ridiculously expensive? I do now!

Long answer:

It's wonderful that you've allowed your son to be himself and let him enjoy the things that he wants thus far. You aren't alone in this, thankfully, but I'm sure you know there are many parents out there who wouldn't because "that's not what boys play with".

Now, did you notice that their reasoning is extremely close to your own when you say "that's not how boys dress" or when you use the phrase "be more like the other boys"?

You see, letting him be himself is not something you just turn off or discourage because now he's really public about it and he may--and probably will--get teased. You just don't. That's going to do more harm than good, in the long run.

Yes, part of our job as parents is to protect our children. But you know what? You can't protect them from other children and their teasing. If your son is different--and different is not a bad thing, it is just different--from other kids, he will always be different, no matter what he wears. He will be teased for it (because we're all "different" somehow). What your (our!) job is, as a parent, is to give him the strength and confidence to be himself and to face those who will question him and give him crap because he doesn't conform to their ideas of who he should be. Giving him yourself as support and the tools of confidence is what will 'protect' him in the long run. Your job is not to give into those other children's (and their parent's) ideas of who your son should be.

I don't intend to minimize how hurtful teasing and bullying can be. It's not easy to see your child hurt by the words and actions of other children. I've been there. I've comforted a child who has been singled out for being "weird". I've heard the stories about the other kids who are teased for having "weird names" or "dresses weird" or the like. It makes your heart hurt like you wouldn't believe.

So, I really, really get where the desire to protect your son comes from and to think that maybe making him be "more like the others" will help. That's a mistake. You may say that you aren't embarrassed or want to change him but you do when you say "boys don't do this" or "boys don't dress like this" because he is a boy and he does dress "like that" or "does that". You do want him to change and what does that tell him? Essentially, that he's not being a boy "the right way" and that he needs to change to fit into some other person's idea of who he should be--and that you agree with those other people. That is the message that comes across, not the one that says "I'm protecting you". What do you think will hurt worse: some mean little (or bigger) kids saying he's "not right" or his mom saying he's "not right"? Think about that a good long time.

Have the strength to say "deal with it" to people who would question him--be your child's first, best advocate. Give him the strength so that he will be able to say "deal with it" to others who question him now and in the years to come (about anything, really). Let your son wear the tutu and take joy in celebrating the wonderful person that he is.

Those shoes will not do!

Open Wide...

Daily Kitteh

What are you lookin' at, Two-Legs?

Open Wide...

Wednesday Blogaround

This blogaround brought to you by Shaxco, producers of the hit reality series So You Think You Can Blog.

Recommended Reading:

Anji: Seventh Carnival of Feminists

Matttbastard: Won't Somebody Puhlease Think About the "Good White People"?! (Echidne wonders if this is a hoax.)

Tami: A Happily Married Ms.

Cara: Lawyer Claims Rapist "Misread the Situation"

Andy: Schwarzenegger Sends Coded 'F*ck You' Message in Veto Letter

Marti: Transwoman Removed From Restroom, Subjected to Transpobic Slurs

Leave your links in comments...

Open Wide...

SYTYCD Open Thread

Shaker Carleigh asked for a So You Think You Can Dance Open Thread, so here it is!

I'm completely devastated that Billy Bell—or, as I call him: Billy Belliot—is out of the show (though still glad that Mia's gone!). My favorites at the moment are probably Ellenore and Russell, but I've got to give best performance last night to Kathryn and Legacy for their Dave Scott-choreographed piece:

Open Wide...

Trigger Warning: Update and Teaspoons

STRONG TRIGGER WARNING. An update on the story discussed here yesterday.

Yesterday, when I first wrote about the story of a 15-year-old girl who was gang-raped for more than two hours during a high school homecoming dance, police thought she had at least four attackers and the act was witnessed by as many as 15 young men.

Today, the police have revised those numbers. They now suspect there were as many as 10 assailants with at least 10 more who watched.

Police have posted a reward for information leading to arrests, and Richmond Police Lt. Mark Gagan said: "We will be making arrests continually as we develop probable cause. With this number of people implicated in the incident we're going to be making arrests on an ongoing basis."

He also noted that there is no duty to rescue law in California that legally obliges witnesses to a sexual assault to report the crime, unless the victim is younger than 15. So the witnesses to the assault are unlikely to be prosecuted, unfortunately.

Meanwhile, a member of the Richmond school board has said that the school district must bear some responsibility: "School administrators and police apparently weren't watching the area as they should have, [board member Charles Ramsey] said."

So far, the school has only promised to "hold a safety meeting for parents and students Wednesday evening to address the assault," which, as Shaker ClioBluestocking pointed out in comments, is not what's needed here: "This girl wasn't brutalized because she wasn't practicing good 'safety' techniques. She was brutalized because at least 20 young men thought rape was a sport. The school should be having meetings with parents about that: how not to raise misogynists, rapists and rape apologists."

On a similar note, I will reiterate what I said in comments to parents who are quite understandably questioning where best to direct their teaspoons on behalf of their kids in the wake of this incident:

What you can vociferously advocate that rape awareness be part of your kids' school curricula as soon as any level of sex education is introduced. There is age-appropriate rape awareness just as there is age-appropriate sex ed.

"Shout and say NO! if someone touches you in any way you don't like" and "NEVER touch someone else if they don't want you to" can be taught at any age.
DoorbellQueen gives us a great example of talking to a young child about consent and rescue in an age-appropriate way.

Open Wide...