Posts tagged ‘thinky thoughts’

April 21st, 2013

Also the blood that the boat owner supposedly saw doesn’t…

Also the blood that the boat owner supposedly saw doesn’t show up anywhere until after Dzhokhar was taken into custody.

July 30th, 2012

mmmightymightypeople: The first thing elena mukhina said she thought after she crashed in training…


The first thing elena mukhina said she thought after she crashed in training and she’s lying on the floor unable to move was “Thank God, I won’t be going to the Olympics.”

this is the first thing a twenty year old is thinking to herself after a horrible crash that leaves her unable able to move. at that point she had no idea if she was paralyzed or not—but she had said repeatedly that the move she was working on was too dangerous and she didn’t want to do it—she had also talked about the possibility paralysis as well and was blown off by her coach.

to me, that is profoundly profoundly disturbing—that the only escape women feel they have from the culture/pressure/life of an athlete is injury. that they feel like they have to *escape* to begin with.

and i think it’s a fair question to ask—how many of the women/girls who are competing right now from across the world are trying to negotiate that reality? how many of them—even if they truly absolutely love what they’re doing—don’t know that they have choices because they never knew any other life than what they have?

i’m not trying to get all sad and “i know what’s best for you, and you need choices” sort of thing—i’m instead headed in the direction of—how can we encourage the building of spaces where competition is there for those who want it—but that competition is not about “the ultimate a “body” can possibly perform”—but about “how well your average teen who has a full life and maybe does some a couple of hours training after school” can do?—the culture of football in the US not much better than something like gymnastics—but at least they don’t hit the edorsements and all that until they’re full grown men.

i mean—the big thing i’m thinking is how few of these really young athletes at the olympics have ever come out. I think michale wiess sorta half ass coming out and rudy galindo all the way coming out are some of the *ONLY* people i’ve heard of—even tho in figure skating in particular there’s been men who have died of AIDS and came out post death—and rudy galindo has talked openly about edorsements and jobs he’s lost post coming out.

there HAS to be more than two gay/queer people in the entire history of sports.

and what does all these endorsement deals and abusive coaches and absolute control over 13-17 years old do to those young girls developing a decent sense of sexuality and gender? and in the case of women of color like julissa gomez—developing and understanding themselves as women of color?

how do you come out when you’re “america’s sweet heart”?

Yes. We just discussed this at article club, wrt women’s boxing. We read Ariel Levy’s piece on Claressa Shields, in which it is asserted that all boxers have abusive pasts, and several coaches note that the best boxers are “the ones who listen to their coaches.” Judy was like, “I have never heard of obedience as an athletic trait before.” I was just like, has there ever been a boxer who grew up rich? I am guessing no, although plenty of rich people go on to be Olympians in other sports. The narrative of young women who have been abused growing into their power and become physically and emotionally strong is a powerful one, and it is one that boxing hits hard, if you will allow that phrase. And the coaches clearly care about them—how many stories have you read where the athlete has literally moved into her coach’s home? But then, it is also like, Ann Romney owning horses or something. Also the boxing officials are all freaked out about the lesbians in the sport,* but there’s no oversight of the coach/athlete relationships.

*And you’re right, they don’t come out. In Levy’s article there is a mention of a boxer who came out and her husband tried to kill her. In the sport I’m most familiar with, surfing, a conventionally pretty woman who is ranked well below a dykey-looking-or-possibly-actually-a-dyke surfer will make tons more money than the dlopad woman, because of sponsorship, and I assume that’s across the board for most individual sports.

May 18th, 2012

Marilyn Munster. Betty Draper.

Marilyn Munster. Betty Draper.

February 19th, 2012

"Despite a nominal university affiliation, Semiotext(e) was subsidized largely by Lotringer and his…"

“Despite a nominal university affiliation, Semiotext(e) was subsidized largely by Lotringer and his staff, which included Kathryn Bigelow—the Hurt Locker director got her start directing a twenty-minute short featuring two men punching each other, while Lotringer and Marshall Blonsky analyzed the action in voice-over.”


—from Elizabeth Gumport’s “Female Trouble

Many thoughts on the essay TK but whoa Kathryn Bigelow. I need to spend a year or so thinking about her.

February 7th, 2012

The other day I said “What if Marie Calloway is really Katha Pollitt?” and it has been…

The other day I said “What if Marie Calloway is really Katha Pollitt?” and it has been making me snicker ever since. It prompted me to go back and read Pollitt[s 2007  “Webstalking” piece again. Its ruthless recklessness is a precursor of Taylor Swift’s practice of feminist vengeance for sure:

I would plug his name into Google, Lycos, HotBot, Alta Vista and up would pop, in distilled, allusive, elliptical form, like a haiku or a mathematical curve, everything I should have known: the life behind my life. Out of a soup or cloud composed of book reviews, publishers’ notices, conference announcements, course assignments, Listserv postings, and tiny mentions and stray references embedded in documents devoted to some quite distant theme, a person would slowly condense, like someone approaching out of a fog who at first looks as if he were made out of fog, only darker. There on my screen glowed the programs of academic gatherings he had attended going back for a decade: the same female names appeared over and over entwined with his in panel announcements. Why hadn’t it struck me as odd that his “best friend,” a professor of English literature, was the respondent for papers he gave at conferences on art history and philosophy? Was I even aware that they attended these events together? And what about the philosopher he’d been seeing, I’d recently discovered, when we started dating, and the art historian who called all the time and then, one day, stopped calling? They were on those panels, too. I had been so out of it!

I tried to break into his e-mail. I had his password - “marxist” - or did I? When I asked him what his password was, a few months before he left, he had cleared his throat and paused. I attributed this hesitation to modesty - he was embarrassed to claim such a heroic identity, or to use such a large, noble, world-historical word for such a trivial purpose. But perhaps he hesitated because he was afraid I would use it and find out his secrets - or was thinking up a fake password so that I couldn’t. In any case, “marxist” didn’t work when I tried to access his mail through - nor did any of the other words I tried: “marxism,” “marx,” “karlmarx,” “engels,” “communist,” “communism,” “pannekoek,” “korsch,” “luxemburg,” “luxembourg,” “belgium, ” “chocolate,” “godiva,” “naked,” “breast,” “cunnilingus,” “fellatio,” or the names of our cats, his new girlfriend, his mother’s dead golden retriever. My password is “secret,” which is so obvious that e-mail programs cite it as the exact word not to choose, but which I liked because it was a pun - “secret” as a secret password, the word that is also the thing itself I noticed he didn’t ask for my password, but I told him anyway.

Mostly, though, I Webstalked him to find out what he was up to now. I knew when he went to Philadelphia for the College Art Association meeting, when his essay on eighteenth-century art-critical terminology was assigned in a class at Essex University, when he sent a flattering e-mail to the Web site of a conceptual artist whose work consisted of reading “Das Kapital” out loud in dozens of obscure foreign languages and invited this artist to be involved in a book he was “producing” with his new girlfriend. I don’t know what made me saddest: that they were co-writing, or at least co-producing - whatever that is - a book? That he was seeking out this half-baked poseur? That he prefaced his girlfriend’s name with “critic,” the way it would appear in Time? Clearly, his prose style had deteriorated since he left me - the man I loved would surely have written “the critic,” which is the correct and elegant usage.

When I first read “Webstalker,” I cringed. I was  horrified and so embarrassed for Ms. Pollitt. I was  angry with her friends. Why hadn’t they stopped her? Here was a serious feminist writer (I used to think this way! really! despite Jane Gallop!) writing about her messy personal life, and it felt weird and scary. Years earlier I had been in a destructive, obsessive relationship. I could never write of the humiliating bargains I had made with myself in order to keep it going. I folded up my New Yorker on the subway, trying to hide both myself and Ms. Pollitt from other people’s pitying eyes.   

The piece did have a quaint charm  (“What, for example, is a PDF?”) and a refreshingly naked desire for petty revenge against the ex and his unnamed-but-identifiable girlfriend, even if her own public humiliation was part of the deal. It helps to be a terrific writer, of course: “I was like Javert, hunting him through the sewers of cyberspace, moving from link to link in the dark, like Spider-Man flinging himself by a filament over the shadowy chasm between one roof and another.”

Reading it now, I see a confidence  that wasn’t there for me the first time. Possibly this is due to therapy, because I”ve been working on that whole vulnerability thing there, too.  “Webstalker” also feels very current in this world of xojane, Chris Kraus, Kat Stacks, Tracey Emin, Marie, Taylor, and others. I hate the rubric “confessional” for writing like this (and others it has been applied to, in particular female poets). It implies that the writer is seeking forgiveness. That said, I hope Katha can forgive me for my initial reaction, although I doubt she cares.

One does wonder, with that persistent feminist trouble with description vs prescription, what the reaction would be if  Rihanna or Katy Perry or Lana Del Rey or whoever were to write a song about webstalking her ex and making fun of his grammar (or swagger, whatever the kids are calling it these days). Or if Marie Calloway wrote about it. Maybe she already has.

[image: two white people kissing—one has red hair, the other has a blonde wig. On the right, it’s author Laura Albert, who created the persona of JT LeRoy and wrote several books and magazine pieces as LeRoy; on the let, it’s someone Albert hired to play LeRoy at parties and events.]

August 15th, 2010

Ladyness: Is "Pearl Clutching" the New "Hysterical?"

Coco Chanel in pearls

I’ve been pondering that two of the big putdowns in online feminist (and non-feminist) circles are to accuse someone of “pearl-clutching” or “flouncing” and I’m thinking about how those are very gendered putdowns, very nicely targeted to situate the accuser as modern and with-it, and the pearl-clutching flouncer as outdated, feminine.

I get that the imagery of pearl-clutching works in some (very necessary) discussions of racism and privilege, that a white lady grasping her jewels, so to speak, is a pretty direct representation of white feminists clinging to their privilege, but it’s not always being used that way, and even when it is, it pinches a little. It’s probably meant to. However, it still directly links to a hatred of women and is that really worth a clever turn of phrase?

I do want to note, and Marisa and I will discuss this later, that one of the most hilarious and ridiculous things about the (Rich White) American Woman show at the Met was that they actually had fake pearls for sale in the gift shop—which you were forced to walk through at the end of the exhibit. They also had sparkle tshirts and other things, including some already-marked-down “Give Women the Vote” mugs. I got one for my white feminist mom.

I dunno. It’s early. It’s Sunday morning. I’m obviously on deadline.

Addendum: I want to be clear I’m not calling out Renee, and I think her post is amazing and right on. I know there was some discussion of “pearl clutching” in the comments there, at that point in time, and in that context, discussing the term meant missing the point and message of Renee’s writing, i.e. derailing.
Posting about it here, in the context of my personal blog, gives me and anyone who chooses to join in a space to talk about the term and its implications. I also know that I’m obviously not the first person to be thinking about these things, for example this post from lauredhel. The end.