Monday, October 30, 2006
Video games=transgressive?

I've recently been writing about how Noora, a comic character in a new Middle Eastern comic book series, is queering not only the notion of Islamic femininity but also sexuality. The comic series rejects much of the heteronormative assumptions other books are based on. It seems this is a new trend.

The maker of [the absolutely disgusting game] Grand Theft Auto has a new controversial game out which features boys kissing.

"Bully stars 15-year-old Jimmy Hopkins, who must navigate cliques, fights and young love at his new boarding school, along the way winning brawls, completing missions and plying girls with candy and flowers in exchange for kisses. But Jimmy can also use the same approach with boys. When Jimmy approaches a tall, blond boy with some flowers, the boy replies: "I'm hot. You're hot. Let's make out." Gay video game enthusiasts have embraced "Bully" which was the U.S.'s third top-selling game in the week ending October 27, according to figures from UBS.
"Progress!" wrote one reader of, who applauded the move by Take-Two's Rockstar Games studio."

I'm not sold this is progress. I mean, is it really progress to feature a gay character who is highly sexualized and/or overly violent? It seems pretty conservative to me. Don't we already know that gay men are villains? Does this video game really disrupt that image?

Sunday, October 29, 2006
More words about the Dixie Chicks

Ok, you folks know I *heart* the chicks. (I'll be going to see them in a month!). I loved them before they were outspoken anti-war/anti-Bush activists and am profoundly stunned by the treatment of the band in recent years. Yet, I am also sickly fascinated by the public's treatment of the women and think it speaks to not only our failure to really respect freedom of speech but also to respect outspoken women.....

Well, the saga continues.

NBC is refusing to air an advertisment for the Dixie Chick's new documentary "Shut Up and Sing." Not refusing to air the documentary....but an advertisement for the documentary. AN. ADVERTISEMENT. “NBC’s commercial clearance department said in writing that it ‘cannot accept these spots as they are disparaging to President Bush.’”


LOOK at this dangerous clip. And then go write a letter or something.

A word about optimism
An occupational'ish blog I read had this to say about the profession I have chosen. Thought some of you who read this blog would get a laugh out of it.....

I don't know how to make the whole thing more humane, other than striving for maximum transparency about process and expectations. Living through finishing a PHD seems so much like living in an Eastern European country before the fall of Communism: cold, grey, poor, dangerous (both to self-esteem and love-relationships), and being at the complete mercy of the bureaucracy (the apparatchiks at OGS) and of leaders who speak in coded language about constantly shifting ideological "lines" (are you in, are you out, are you heading for the Siberia of a community college with a 6-course teaching load?).

Awesome. But, there's still no other life I'd choose...

Academic Crush

We love Howard Zinn in this household. We want to name our future dog Zinny. We love him because he has REALLY great hair and says REALLY smart things. Check it out.

It is a supreme irony that the "war on terrorism" has brought a higher death toll among innocent civilians than the hijackings of 9/11, which killed up to 3,000 people. The United States reacted to 9/11 by invading and bombing Afghanistan. In that operation, at least 3,000 civilians were killed, and hundreds of thousands were forced to flee their homes and villages, terrorized by what was supposed to be a war on terror. Bush's Iraq War, which he keeps linking to the "war on terror," has killed between 40,000 and 140,000 civilians.

More than a million civilians in Vietnam were killed by U.S. bombs, presumably by "accident." Add up all the terrorist attacks throughout the world in the twentieth century and they do not equal that awful toll.

If reacting to terrorist attacks by war is inevitably immoral, then we must look for ways other than war to end terrorism.

Oddly enough, we've never discussed naming our future dog "Bushy." Hmmm.

Thursday, October 26, 2006
Halloween as told by a nerd
I've long been tortured by Halloween. As someone who is not creative, not crafty and not overly funny, it is always difficult for me to think of costumes. It would be easy to blame my mother who stripped me of my creative juices when I was younger and forced me to be whatever ridiculous costume she thought of. There was the family of California raisins....the bags of trash...ah memories. We weren't really encouraged to "think of our own costumes" so to speak. But, let's be honest....I'm also pretty darn lazy. I don't want an arduous costume--one that restricts my ability to be social. In that respect, I'm pretty limited. Don't get me wrong, I've had moments of Halloween glory. There was the group of feminist "girls gone wild" a few years ago. We hung out in Georgetown with our Mardi Gras beads and normal bar clothing and lifted up our shirts to reveal our CENSORED tube tops much to the disappointment of many people.

The struggles continutes this year. As our graduate school party approached this year, talk of costumes dominated our household conversations. When Drew asked if there was anyway to tie in a funny "academic reference" my eyes lit up. It really got me thinking.

ME: OH! We could dress as Hannah Arendt and Martin Heidegger. You know...Arendt...the political philosopher? Well, supposedly she had a love affair with Heidegger who was a Natzi sympathizer and she was Jewish. Oh man *nerdy giggle* this could work....
DREW: ...blank stare....
ME: Oh...right....I'm just kidding

Drew also refused to go as "fluid sexuality" as he thought he would just look like a woman.

So...I kept working....

And then...I thought of THIS book. One of my favorites.

LADIES AND GENTLEMAN....I present you with.....


Ok, the picture doesn't show much of the female part--the hot heels and the great jeans. But it does show my Hitler'esque mustache which prompted my classmate to ask if I was a femiNatzi. I wasn't...but I know what I'll be next year!
And here I am hanging out with the gay agenda* and a prom queen

*He had all sort of post it notes on him--like "Have sex with animals," "You'll be next," and "Sex with children"
** More pictures can be seen through the picture link to the right

Friday, October 20, 2006
New Digs
Hey! Look what Drew helped me do! Your thoughts?

I'm liking it... I just have to get used to it.

Change is hard!

Fun Day Friday*
Ok, when my brain is under extreme academic stress, I can only really post nonsense**. So with that feeble excuse, Ladies and Gentleman, I present you post o' fun.

First up-bumper stickers. I've long thought bumper stickers were interesting nonverbal markers of identity. Since moving to Athens, I've seen some *interesting* ones. Proud Parent of a Vegitarian. Think Global, Act Local right next to a W. And today....I Brew The Beer I Drink. I'm not passing judgment. I just think its weird. I mean, can any cause get a bumper sticker? Really? Because I'm about to bust out with my I Study Speech Communication and, No, I Don't Want to Be Katie Couric sticker.

Next--I miss a lot of things about the north. I miss my family....friends...Democrats...brunettes...drivers who wave a friendly thank you when you let them into a long line of traffic*** and crunchy leaves. It is SO weird to walk through a pile of freshly fallen leaves and have them not crunch under foot. Why aren't our leaves crunchy? Is it because they aren't frozen?

Third--is that song I put my hand upon your hip, when you dip we dippty dip making a come back? I've heard it twice in the past two days. And I probably listen to a total of 5 minutes of music radio a day. What the heck is going on?!

Last- FRAGGLE ROCK IS GOING TO BE A MOVIE. HOLY COW. I was part of the Fraggle Rock cult before I even knew there was a cult and I cannot WAIT to see Red in all her crazy haired glory. This really makes me EXCITED. Can you TELL?!?!****

* Because language shapes reality, I often tell my students that we are experiencing a "fun day Friday" and they seem to get all crazy and pumped about speech communication. So I figured the same bullshit would work on you all.

**And since Nicole killed any legitimacy with her comment on my last post, I figured I could really write about anything.

*** This is the thing people--I did something NICE. I don't do that a lot and I would thank you very much to put your damn hand in the air and show some appreciation.

****When I am excited, I use LOTS of capital letters!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006
A New Minority
THIS article in the New York Times reminded me that I have a complicated relationship with marriage.

Married couples, whose numbers have been declining for decades as a proportion of American households, have finally slipped into a minority

No, not my marriage. That's tooootally normal. More with the institution.

A product of divorce a couple failed relationships, I never really thought I would get married. Oh sure...I played the rhetorical game. I engaged in conversations that included phrases like "when I'm married" and "well, my husband..." But, really? I just never thought it possible. It would never be possible to find a person who would meet my requirements and could show me a picture of marriage that would be satisfactory. For me marriage meant replacing independence with dependency. It meant sacrificing exploration and adventure for nights at home. It meant being a "wife" and I wasn't so sure that was a good role to be in. I couldn't fathom a world in which a man embraced me and the partnership I would demand. Oh sure, it probably had something to do with past relationships going a little like this...

Me: Yeah, I think I would be okay never experiencing motherhood
Boy: You are a cruel, cruel person

Me: So...when I go away to school, do you think you'll come with me?
Boy: Move? But what about my career?

The negative thoughts permeated my attitudes toward the gay marriage debate. Why in the world would people be fighting for the right to join this oppressive institution?! Why in the world would they need marriage? Isn't a partnership enough?

But enter great guy who was all about signing up for a life with a nomadic, self absorbed, moody academic (Yeah....I don't get it either. I think it had something to do with the boots.) and my opinions began to change. Suddenly I couldn't wait to make a public commitment to this man. Couldn't wait to celebrate 50 years together. Couldn't wait to see the types of people we became together. Couldn't wait to have insurance (a lot less romantic, I know). And I knew that I was okay with him being my emergency contact. Knew that he was my "partner" and not my husband. Knew that he would support me no matter what. And most importantly, I knew that we were getting married young because we wanted to be young and married--not two brand new people.

Lucky for me, I occupy a pretty privileged status in society. I identify as a "heterosexual" female and I get to make this choice. But I do understand why some people choose not to. And I hope that the article proves there is reflection occuring before jumping into the institution of marriage.

Monday, October 16, 2006
Some words about identity
(a few small edits)

Being the good* gender scholar that I am, I often contemplate identity politics. As someone who is uncomfortable with notions of fixed identity, essentialism and dichotomies, I tend to shun labels. Homosexual/heterosexual? NO WAY. Woman/man? A FARSE. I find that most "labels" are socially constructed and always follow some sort of neat, orderly binary that tends to priviledge one and minimize the other.

However, one label I am ALL about is "liberal." I associate liberal with progressive and view that as inherently good. I don't shun away from ANY essentializing of political ideology and I LOVE to minimize the other half of this binary--CONSERVATIVES.

But this binary isn't so neat and orderly--because there's this gray area in the middle. The gray area known as "moderate." As THIS heated exchange points out, it is an important area for Democrats to address as we approach 08.

My stance on this issues makes me dogmatic for sure...but it doesn't make me unreflexive. But I have been unable to determine what makes some people so scared of the label "liberal" and what makes me so quick to discount "moderates." I think part of it is that I used to surround myself with lots of people who called themselves moderates and that was basically code for voting to make money instead of voting to support the social issues that I find most important. Another part is that I want a choice...I don't want to pick the "lesser of the two evils" (although I will if that's the only option). I don't want to have an ANYBODY BUT BUSH attitude. Instead I want a democrat who represents MY views. I want a democrat who supports gay marriage. I want a democrat who is anti war and actually can come up with a plan that we follow to get us the hell out of Iraq. I want a democrat who will not take a MODERATE stance on abortion. And I want a democrat that stands up against the Patriot Act and torture. In this day in age-- do those wants put me in the "liberal" category? I don't think so. But I think it is a mistake to discount people like me in our attempt to play "nice" and "moderate" politics. Because I feel a little ostercized to tell ya the truth.

This whole moderate label makes me want to pull out my hair and do a really unattractive dance in rage that involves stomping and arm waving. It reminds me of all the fights I get into with women who favor a woman's right to choose, equal pay for equal work yet refuse to identify as a "feminist." You know....there are times when labels are empowering and "extremist" is just another word for "passionate."

* yeah, i'm totally kidding about the good part. i'm not sure if what i do counts as good or scholarly! but i do think about gender a lot....

Saturday, October 14, 2006

MEREDITH: Dr. Bailey, all my boyfriends are here!

Thursday, October 12, 2006
Never Have I Ever...

...Grabbed a co-worker by his throat and called him a bitch. What's that Dr. Burke? You have to drink? Wow. WOW.

Let's see....who to choose, who to choose. Burke my favorite character. Shepard my favorite crazy haired man.......WOW again.

I know one thing, though, hopefully they didn't hit Meredith with their burly bodies for she would surely break into a million boney pieces. GROSSSSS.

Another one* bites the dust

*and by one, I mean moderate democrat.

I saw Mark Warner speak last year at Wake Forest's graduation. He was okay but nothing exciting--which pretty much sums up my feelings toward him in general. I didn't think he would be the next President and he apparently didn't either....

Former Virginia Gov. Mark R. Warner (D) announced this morning that he will not seek the presidency in 2008, saying he wants to spend more time with his family.

But he's raised a whole lotta money so it'd be nice if he would share the wealth....or tell other democrats how to do it.

It would also be great if more of the presidential hopeful bowed out early and gracefully. Especially the moderates...we don't really need fake democrats sucking up the airwaves come 2007.

So, WAY TO GO WARNER. Thanks for thinking of your family--and the party.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006
Essentialism Anyone?
So....I'm just hanging a mini skirt...and lots of make up. You know...embracing my fertility.

And yes, you're IS risky to make pregnancy jokes. But I couldn't resist.

Monday, October 09, 2006
Yelling Sweet Nothings
I've often heard that for every weakness, we have an equally powerful strength. I buy it. Case in point:

I have bad eyesight. Practically blind bad. If I don't have my contacts in I can't read the clock which is about 4 inches from my face. But my hearing? WATCH OUT. My ears are so sensitive. senSAtive. Let me tell ya.

I can hear the downstairs television word for word when I am upstairs with the door shut. I often answer my student's questions when they are whispering them to their neighbor and I always used to listen to my parent's phone conversations when I was young--even when relegated to my room. So I'm nosey and a good listener...or is it hearer.

EITHER WAY....the hearing thing would be a good thing except it rears its ugly head in the most inconvenient moments.

I can't stand loud music and screaming crowds. I get overly anxious and the noise seems to be reverberating through my body. This is probably the reason I like chill, quiet music and rarely go to large venue concerts. But even ears are SO SO squirmy*. You know those sweet nothings that are supposed to be whispered in your ear? Yeah? Well Drew has to stand downstairs and whisper them. Near the tv. He can't get anywhere close to the actual ear with the breathy sound of a secret. No siree. I squirm and shriek like there's a bug in my ear.

It is most inconvenient. I'll never be part of a cute couple talking in hushed voices. Bummer.

*yes that is the OFFICIAL term. they're MY ears.


Meredith: Enough! This is NOT dating. I want moonlight, and flowers, and candy and people trying to feel me up. Nobody is trying to feel me up. Nobody is even looking at me. I'm an intern, do the two of you have any idea how much effort it takes to do all this? I am waxed and plucked and I have a clean top on. And the two of you are looking at each other.

Sunday, October 08, 2006
Listen Carefully
...because you're about to hear the fun being sucked out of the political air.

This message is to all the lefty bloggers, pundits and voters who insist on making fun of Foley, Hastert and the other Republicans who are involved in the Foley sex scandal...

Sexual harrassment? Not so funny. Neither is sexaul assault or sexual abuse. When we make jokes we not only minimize the situation but we normalize it. We have the public too busy laughing to take note of the gross abuse of power that continuously goes on (on both sides of the aisle) in Washington. PUT YOUR ATTENTION ELSEWHERE. Stop calling it a "cocktober suprise" and start calling it sexual abuse. Discourse shapes reality. Okay? That means if we talk about sexual assault as a joke, we will continue to treat it like a joke.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006
Happy Birthday

to televised baseball games! Today is the 55th anniversary of the first televised baseball game between the New York Dodgers and the New York Giants. I'm going to celebrate by watching the first play off appearance by the Detroit Tigers in almost 55 years ;).

Sure the Tigers are suffering...dropping the last 5 games AND falling out of first place on the last day of the regular season. But I have faith. WE CAN DO THIS.