Thursday, January 14, 2010

I Hate The War


As noted in the Contra Costa Times, the above is from Jay's monologue tonight on The Jay Leno Show (NBC). Good for Jay. Pig Ritter is on his third arrest now for attempting sexual hook ups with underage girls. For some reason, despite the first two arrests and his refusal to speak of them on air when CNN asked him, a large number of people continued to present him as a 'trusted' source. So The Nation published his bad, bad writing and, in fact, published his books. Amy Goodman had him as a guest how many times? (Over a dozen.) Laura Flanders, Lila Garrett, Rachel Maddow and assorted others allowed that trash on as a guest.

How did that happen?

It's not any different than how illegal wars happen. It goes to what we value and what we don't. When the 'enemy' is 'over there,' it's much easier to sell an illegal war. We don't know them. We don't know what they believe in. We buy into whatever propaganda our government sells us.

The 'enemy' is 'the other.'

How does this apply to women?

Women are always 'the other'. We're always defined as the other. Terry Gross [NPR's Fresh Air] puts on her posse of men (because if you don't have a penis, you're not a critic Terry wants on staff), one of which, just last night, was praising a teen sex comedy -- another teen sex comedy about a young boy/man trying to lose his virginity. Yes, that is novel. I don't think we've ever seen anything like that before. Except for American Pie. And Porky's. And about four hundred movies in between the two including Class, Risky Business . . . . Then the (male) critic has the nerve to float that maybe women can get comfortable with teen sex comedies at some point.


The only classics in the genre come from women. Little Darlings is a minor classic and stars Kristy McNichol and Tatum O'Neal (who bet on who can lose their virginity first that summer). Valley Girl, directed by Martha Coolidge, was a hit (and is a classic). And then there is the all time classic, the artistic zenith in the teen sex comedy genre: Fast Times At Ridgemont High, directed by Amy Heckerling, starring Jennifer Jason Leigh, Sean Penn, Phoebe Cates and others.

How do you not know of those films? If you're an alleged film critic, brought on Terry's bad show as such, how do you not know those films?

Oh, that's right. You've defined women as "the other." Therefore, you don't need to comment on women. (As Terry Gross' idiot TV critic demonstrated tonight.)

Women can be attacked because they're 'the other.' Their contributions are erased -- not accidentally. It happens too often for anyone to be believable when they claim it was an accident.

Doubt it? I just checked Crapapedia. Cameron Crowe is a talented director (and a friend). However, he didn't direct Fast Times. Go read the Crapapedia entry and it's raving over Cameron. He's immensely talented and gifted and an important directing voice. But he wasn't the director of that film and the look of that film and so much of the visuals and sight gags came from Amy. But Amy's credit is robbed from her -- by the little boys who run Crapapedia. The same little boys who brag in the entries about male celebs who 'bagged' this woman and that but when it's time to write about us, we're 'sluts'. A very good friend, recording artist, is still furious that all the men listed as her partners in her Crapapedia entry aren't taken to task for sleeping around but she is in her Crapapedia entry. I don't blame her for being pissed. Women's Media Center's radio program on WBAI was just (Monday, click here for the archives) noting that Crapapedia posts are done predominately by young, unmarried males. It's not an accident that women come off like virgins or whores at that site and that, outside of sex, we really don't seem to do anything, we have things done to us. (If we're 'whores,' we 'do' sex.) This is not an accident, this is how a society's distorted view is reinforced and perpetuated.

It's not an accident.

After questioning the truth of the historical tradition by pointing out the male bias of selection, Christine attempted to answer every commonplace prejudice voiced against women. Men had charged that women governed unwisely when they had power. Christine refuted this argument by citing a long list of exempla of women who governed wisely and well. She answered the charge of women's intellectual inferiority by citing a long list of women who excelled in learning, in poetry, in science and in philosophy. Here, as elsewhere, she freely mixed historical figures with allegorical and mythological persons. She also attempted to show female superiority in sensibility and caring by citing a long list of virtuous wives and mothers, chaste virgins and self-sacrificing women. All of this material evidence allegorically built the city of the ladies. When it was finished, the Queen of Heaven was invited to be its first inhabitant, attended by a large number of female saints.

Who is Christine? A professor at UCLA? A history major trying, last year, to establish women's accomplishments?


It's Christine de Pizan. She published her list of accomplished women in . . . 1405. (The excerpt above is from Gerda Lerner's The Creation of Feminist Consciousness: From the Middle Ages to Eighteen-seventy. And I believe it's page 260. Check before you cite page number because I'm not at home and that's from memory. ADDED 1-30-10, Page number and quote are correct.)

It's 2008. In 1405, Christine was breaking her neck to establish our accomplishments. Think of all the women who've come along since then who've done the same. We repeatedly have to reinvent the wheel. And it's because we don't know our history. Not because we're stupid but because our society doesn't value it. Amy Heckerling directs an amazing film and Crapapedia wants to give the credit to the screenwriter? Find another film where the screenwriter and not the director gets the rave at Crapapedia. You won't unless it's another case of a woman directing and a man writing the script.

For women of my own generation, we saw it. We saw a huge, huge number of women in the sixties become Joni (the artist), Diana (the bitch -- I love Diana and she's one of the sweetest people in the world, I'm not calling her that, I'm saying that's her image in the rock canon), Janis (the victim) and Aretha (the good time gal) -- the rock canon. Doubt it, check the Rock and Roll of Hall of Fame and notice how few women are in there. Notice that any man from that decade is pretty much there. Cher can't get in but you've got men in there who've been inducted twice. Men whose accomplishments are far less in music than Cher's.

Our history is stolen from us time and again. It needs to stop.

Our history doesn't matter and that translates into we don't matter.

Which is how the Congress can pretend they're passing 'health reform' and insist that women objecting to the stripping of our reproductive rights (which is health care) from the proposals is no big deal. It's no big deal because . . . they don't see us as a big deal. We're 'the other,' they think they're the norm. We're in the majority in the US but we're 'the other.'

Marilyn French, The War Against Women, page 186:

Men's expectation that women will take responsibility for maintaining them is a carryover from infancy. Women perpetuate the system out of habit and inculcate their daughters with guilt. Men enforce the system by laws or customs that force women into economic dependence on men and by the ever-present threat: she who does not care for her man, does not mother him like a baby, will lose him and his economic support. Women are subjected by fear: men foster their own infantilization, believing it demonstrates their superiority. Yet even when women's caretaking and service are not enough to keep men from being violent toward them. And beneath women's fear of losing economic support is their fear of men's physical violence.

As French explains, one group is expected to sacrifice. Now stop a moment if you're a reader and think about Howard Zinn and his endless columns and books on the unfair social contract . . . as it applies to men. Of his Communist critique of society that never finds him noting how women were not free agents when the contracts were drawn up. (Zinn is a frequent harsh critic of Locke and the social contract theory, for those unfamiliar with his writings on that. His argument is that poor men were not in positions of power when the social contracts are drawn up so they are forced to agree to conditions they wouldn't otherwise.)

Read the Marilyn French paragraph above and you've got an explanation of why the Congress never fretted, never broke a sweat, over trampling on our rights. 'Reproductive rights? Eh, the women can sacrifice. For the good. For the social good.'

Barack's nonsense isn't health care but let's pretend for a moment it is and ask: Why are we sacrificing?

We're the majority in the population. Our reproductive health? That's going to be the determinate of future generations. So how in the world did reproductive rights become a minor issue, something that didn't need coverage?

July 9th, I tossed out this little survey of that morning's New York Times front page:

The New York Times has nothing from Iraq this morning* (again) and nothing but smut and sexism (again). The front page is the best example but you can find it throughout (including in the food section -- Frank Bruni, "polarizing" would be your own paper, not a woman). But especially note the front page of the so-called news section and ask who they're catering to?

Matt Richtel probes the very pressing issue of . . . porno films. The economy means 'less dialogue.' That doesn't even cut it as a humor item, let alone as news. But don't we all feel a little filthier for the garbage? We're not done. David Leonhardt appears on the front page to tell you that proposed health care reform can be measured by . . . how it addresses prostate cancer.

For those not in the know, not a cancer which afflicts women. So women learn from today's front page that the smutty New York Times loves their porn and that the only way to measure health care success is by how it addresses the needs of men. Kind of the way the paper does?

You better believe prostate cancer's being covered. A disease that no woman will have. But that's not a side issue. That's not a minor issue. That's considered something in need of health coverage. Anything to do with men's health is. Male needs are considered factory standard, it's women needs that are optionals.

This is not a new development. It's at the root of 'the other.' We fear 'the other.' We fear the unknown. It's why Bruce (the shark) in Jaws is offscreen for so much of the film. Women are repeatedly robbed of accomplishments and achievements and reduced to cyphers who, if noted, are noted for who they slept with or didn't sleep with. What we achieved and why and how we achieved it is tossed aside. We can be the mysterious, half-smile on the Mona Lisa, we just can't have our stories told for fear that we might be understood and related to and, in the process, the society would be turned upside down (or, as Ruth Rosen would put it, The World Split Open). Keeping us 'the other' benefits the current system. The same way that it's no surprise the US is so successful at starting wars all over the world. We are the country that is taught the least about the world around us and encouraged by our news media not to care too deeply (or too long) about the world around us. A populace that only knows (the male half of) their own citizens and (the male half of) their own history is one that can be repeatedly sold on going to war with other countries.

It's over, I'm done writing songs about love
There's a war going on
So I'm holding my gun with a strap and a glove
And I'm writing a song about war
And it goes
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Oh oh oh oh
-- "I Hate The War" (written by Greg Goldberg, on The Ballet's Mattachine!)

Last Thursday, ICCC's number of US troops killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war was 4373. Tonight? Still 4373.

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