Wednesday, May 21, 2008

I think that there is only one possible silver lining to Ted Kennedy's brain tumor: the tumor could be a portal that allows him to channel his dead brothers, John Malkovich-style. We could get valuable information about the afterlife and potentially election-changing endorsements from two of Barack Obama's most-referenced predecessors.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

See? It's Not Just Me

CNN finally got hip to the catcall trend, but it all but ignores the genuinely creepy, grabby part of skirt season. It also misses the point when it suggests a progression from catcalls to actual assault. They're not all connected.

I'm glad that Slut Machine posted about it, but I think she completely misses the point when she asks this:
Here's my question: Although guys who shout out sexual things to women on the street are certainly assholes, are they automatically potential-criminals? Do women really think that some construction worker is gonna get off his scaffolding and remove his hardhat to assault them with his hard on?

No, SM, I don't think that every asshole on the street who kisses, whistles, or shouts is going to attack me. That's not the shitty thing about it. What sucks is that hearing the comments(or noticing the movements and leers as I walk past, when I have my iPod on) day after day adds up to a lot of extra stress. It's one thing to assume that all dudes are jerks who only view you as a set of tits and an ass; it's quite another to be reminded of it every day. I'm no prude, but I hate it, and it makes me feel less able - hell, less willing - to feel outrage when I have to deal with physical harassment. This sort of thing may not be criminal, but it's not harmless.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

No no no no no

No Harvey. Not the Fraggles. Jim Henson created the Fraggles to teach children how to achieve world peace, not bombard them with fart jokes, puppet pratfalls, and stale pop-culture references. I'm sure your writers will manage to find obnoxious ways to suggest that the Fraggles were stoners, to orchestrate escapes from the Gorgs that involve a hit to the groin, and to dumb down Red and Mokey until they are nothing more than twittering idiots in search of shiny clothes and cute Fraggle boys. I'm sure Gobo will have to rescue Uncle Matt in the real world, all the others will tag along, and it will be just like The Muppets Take Manhattan but without the cameos by Joan Rivers and Gregory Hines and a far less believable romance than Kermit and Piggy's.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Wednesday, May 07, 2008


As much as I loathe the winter and its accursed freezing darkness, all the warm layers provide extra protection against day-to-day molestation. It's a whole lot harder to assess whether an ass is grabbable when it's covered by a long, bulky coat. Summer may be the time for pretty dresses, sandals, and sunshine, but it's also the time for catcalls and groping. A small man with a Ron Jeremy mustache and a backpack was kind enough to slip his hand up my skirt yesterday as a friendly reminder of the change in seasons.

I took an informal poll of several female friends, all of whom have experienced varying degrees of harassment since moving to New York. Everyone agrees: dudes are going to say weird shit. My favorite comment came from Sunday afternoon, when a man shouted, "Damn, girl, I wanna wipe my sweat off on you!" at a friend as she walked into Target. The debate starts when it comes to the question of how to respond to unwanted groping, rubbing, and exposures. Only one friend can remember actually confronting someone who harassed her, and she readily admits that the jerks she shouted at were teenagers. Why is it so damn hard to turn around and slap some sleaze in the face?

I know the answers: patriarchy, shock, shame, the lingering fear that we may have somehow been asking for it., etc. I know that I could find a way to pretend they were the reason I simply turned away after I looked back and saw that creep leering, knowing he'd just gotten away with violating me(I've see the same look on the faces of a dangerously lecherous cab driver and a rapist). But I don't want to deduce the exact reason I chickened out. I want to wear my cute dresses and enjoy the part of my life where I'm not chubby and awkward and not wonder which Abercrombie-clad commuter is going to whip out his dick as the train pulls away. It shouldn't be MY problem. It shouldn't happen to me once a month. It just shouldn't happen.

I know it could be worse. I've dealt with worse. I read the story about the college student in CT who was assaulted while surrounded by a cheering crowd. I'm just tired of reminding myself that not all men do these things, that I can't let these experiences stop me from being my outspoken self, that I have to expect these things occasionally. Why can't one of these guys pass up a cheap, fleeting thrill, if for no other reason than that they wouldn't want someone doing the same thing to their mother?

I know that would be a magical utopia. There would probably be unicorns, and I could eat as much buttered popcorn as I want and never get fat. The only thing I can think to do is to throw my (totally undeserved but still present) shame and anger back at my (future) molesters. I'm furious with myself for not knocking Mr. Backpack and his stupid grin down the rest of those stairs. He knew he deserved it, and he knew I wasn't going to do a damn thing about it. I told myself the last time this happened, "Next time, there will be Hell to pay." Now that I have to look, again, to "next time," I finally understand why the first cab driver I ever had in New York gave me the advice he did: don't smile, and maybe carry a small knife. I like to smile. A lot. I guess that leaves the knife.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Just because, here's a list of obnoxious things people might do in upcoming weeks:

1. Eating heavily buttered popcorn at Erroll Morris' documentary Standard Operating Procedure.

2. Dieting obsessively in order to look good in bathing suits while food riots continue around the world.

3. Turning on air conditioning units while energy prices continue to rise.

4. Buying things with their recently received IRS checks while ignoring credit card debt.

5. Going to see Speed Racer and Sex and the City.

A Moment with the not so Coordinated Campaigns

In February, my sister voted in primary for an open seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court. At 4:30 PM, she was voter number 37. Why , she asked me later, are people so captivated by the presidential election but oblivious to the local races that are much more likely to affect their day to day lives? I didn't have an answer for her in February, and after reading this piece about the struggles of politicians in Indiana, the only response I have for her is that we're not alone in our confusion.

CNN spends hours each day parsing the words of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, running and rerunning footage of Jeremiah Wright and Clinton's "obliterate Iran" comment, but there are voters in Indiana who don't know the names of the people vying to be the Democratic gubernatorial candidate. Governors are not exactly unimportant government figures; our last four presidents have been governors. Sadly, it seems that most would-be constituents slept through the American Government classes that covered exactly what state governments control. Or maybe they didn't go over that; it's possible the Governor and the Legislature didn't give enough money to the state university system to allow for more resources than what could be found in old Schoolhouse Rock footage.

Ugh. I was going to continue, but I just found this editorial in the Wall Street Journal.