Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Just because the feminist=Clinton supporter camp pisses me off so much

Lionel Shriver makes the fantastic argument that Clinton's being elected would not be a win for feminism. History is about the narratives we construct between events, she says, and the overwhelming narrative that historians would tell about Clinton's election would be her having ridden into the oval office on Bill's coattails. While it would be a win to get a woman into the white house, it certainly wouldn't be enough of a win to justify voting for her above and beyond her politics.

Thursday, February 7, 2008


Romney's done.

Best quotation from the article: "the speech will speak for itself."

Likelihood of Huckabump: 0.7%

Likelihood of Huckaboom: 0.03%

Likelihood of McCain-Huckabee ticket: 43.6%

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Dear second-wavers who keep saying feminists have to vote for Clinton:

Fuck you, and please stop hurting our movement by framing it as a gender war. Don't get me wrong. I would love to see a woman in the White House, and I would be pleased to see Hillary Clinton in the White House. I support Obama because of his better foreign policy stance, his in-depth knowledge of domestic issues like farm policy, and his profound star power (which will be valuable in the general election and in office). Claiming that I am not a feminist because I am supporting a man is so deeply problematic I hardly know where to start.

Supporting Obama does not imply the belief that we live in a postfeminist world in which candidates run without gender. That assumes an insulting level of naivete on the part of young feminists. It implies that someone's genitalia determine her political stance. Isn't stepping beyond that determinism, I don't know, the point of feminism in the first place? Ann Coulter, while a woman, has a stance almost diametrically opposed to mainstream feminist view on almost every issue. Should I vote for her simply to prove a woman can become president?

Supporting Obama does not imply that I am uncomfortable with women in power, any more than supporting Clinton would imply that I am uncomfortable with men in power. That is just silly. The essentialism that produces that line of thought boils Clinton down to an objectified stand-in for her gender.

Supporting Obama doesn't make us afraid to be feminists. It makes us wary of anyone who tells us that feminism is as simple as being pro-choice, pro-equality, and pro-women-in-male-dominated-workplaces. It makes us hesitant to believe that feminism stops at women's liberation, that there isn't a tremendous amount of work to be done reparing the damage patriarchy does to men as well. It makes us reject the notion that feminism is about a SCUM-manifesto-style gender war in which every contest between a man and a women is a battle.

Whether or not we support Clinton isn't the same as whether or not we see her as a walking vagina we need to get into the White House, and it's insulting to Clinton's supporters to say so. It means we evaluate policy issues and electability issues, and make political decisions based on those evaluations.

So I never thought I'd say this, but fuck you, Gloria Steinem, and get out of the way while the rest of us try to repair the political damage you've done.


P.S. It's worth pointing out that I don't mean to direct this to all second-wavers, or even imply that this "gender war" is a viewpoint that the mainstream second wave espoused. It is a viewpoint that can be traced back to submovements of the second wave, though, and it's a viewpoint that increasingly frustrates the third wave.

Food Friday on Wednesday: I just found a stem in my blueberry muffin.

It was kind of poignant, actually, and a little subversive. Think about it: food that we buy is so processed and uniform that the odds of finding stray odds and ends in a piece of it are really quite low. But it isn't even about a reminder of the "good old days" before factory fooding (the good old days that I'm too young to remember or talk about with any authority), it's about the reminder of where our food comes from. I'd be a lot less happy if I had found some stray cowhide in my hamburger, but the effect would have been the same—and maybe my unwillingness to confront it should have broader implications on my behavior.

We're at a place in American society where it's completely feasible, in most places, not ever to make food from scratch. When we do make food "from scratch," we are still often many steps away from the source of those ingredients. Let's imagine I make blueberry pancakes. I will likely use unbleached flour, cornmeal, eggs, buttermilk and blueberries (plus a few other spices and some baking powder/soda), all bought in bulk at my grocery store. I didn't interact with the source of a single one of those ingredients: in this case, the wheat, corn, chicken, cow, or blueberry bush. In some cases, I'm more than one step removed: I did not grind the wheat or the corn, and I did not churn the buttermilk.

I don't want to harvest and grind wheat and corn every time I make pancakes. But doing that kind of thing every now and then can be kind of profound. I shelled pomegranates tonight, which is something I don't need to do anymore, ever. If I need the seeds, they're available shelled at my local grocery store (albeit at a premium) and if I need the juice, I can get it all over the place (also at a premium). But I miss out by doing that, just as I'd miss out by eating out every night, even if the cook where I ate out made better food than I can. I'd miss out on the quiet lapping of water against my sink's edge, the warm water under which my relaxed hands pry out the luscious blood-colored seeds, and the seeds' slow, contemplative drop to the bottom of the basin. I wouldn't know that pomegranate seeds will barely float on water's surface tension.

That might not sound like a lot to lose. But it's a beautiful, sensual experience. And it has some practical implications. I know more about pomegranate seeds for having shelled them—I know that they can float, that they are redder when bunched together at the tip, and that they are difficult to accidentally pop. That could all be useful one day in designing a dish or a drink. The political implications are broader. Michael Pollen's work in the politics of food reveals that the distance our food travels can actually be more significant than its original source, not least in terms of carbon footprint. Serving a loyal local population allows farmers to diversify because they have to compete less with a national and global food market. They can grow chickens, beef, grass, and corn, not just corn. Contrary to what the free marketers would argue, specialization in the farm industry hurts the quality of the final product because organisms just don't exist well in a monoculture. Millions of years of evolution—or the hand of God, if you're an idiot—have wired plants and animals to rely on each other, and short-circuiting that reliance makes for all kinds of problems. Feed cows corn and you need to pump them full of antibiotics. Pump them full of antibiotics and you produce antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Feed chickens a protein-free diet, and it makes their eggs less tasty. Stop growing beef because your corn is more profitable, and now you need to buy fertilizer. That fertilizer runs off, ruining perfectly good fresh water for swimming and fishing.*

Pollen spends a lot of time talking about a Virginia farm that doesn't qualify for organic status, but nevertheless uses a tremendously sustainable way of producing food. Their cows graze on grass. They rotate pastures frequently to make the grass grow faster. When they leave a pasture, it's covered in manure, which quickly develops maggots. Their chickens eat those maggots, spreading the manure, fertilizing the paster. The chickens then require less food, get more protein, and produce healthier eggs, all for doing a job that needed to be done anyway. The farm sells only locally.

I wish I knew that much about the lives of the food I eat.

*I'm obviously taking a completely anthropocentric approach here, since a non-anthropocentric approach makes not mistreating our animals in food production a foregone conclusion.

Monday, February 4, 2008


So for those of you who still stop by occasionally, I haven't gone away, and I will continue to post; life just keeps getting busier. In the meantime, check out The Ark, my most recent little pop music discovery. Think Bowie meets Queen: glam-rock that is tremendously energetic without being bubble gum.