Stories for boys

7 10 2014

Why is gay marriage gaining and abortion rights losing?

Paul Constant at the Stranger suggests its down to men: they don’t get abortions, so they can fill their own minds with their own views of the slutty whores who irresponsibly seek to evade responsibility for their whorish slutty irresponsible sex.

Gays and lesbians, on the other hand, have fought and marched and partied and litigated (and, unfortunately, died) their way into public consciousness as human beings deserving of the same rights as all other human beings.

There’s something to this. ‘Coming out’ is not just a personal affirmation, but a political statement, as is the chant we’re here, we’re queer, get used to it. Visibility matters in politics, especially visibility without compromise: as Arendt and Biko and Malcolm X noted, the oppressed must demand recognition as they are—Jewish or black or queer—and not merely ask to be allowed to assimilate.

We’re here, we’re queer, get used to it.

That attitude underlay even the most anodyne of marriage equality ads, the ones featuring couples who’d been together for decades, who are raising children and puppies, who want only to love and care for their beloveds, til death do they part.  These ads were oft-accompanied by gentle music and soft focus, but the insistence remained: we are human beings who want to be treated as human beings.

That’s a tough message for the anti-same-sex-marriage folks to counter, which they themselves knew. It’s not enough to talk about stories or the nice couple next door, they said, we have to talk about principles! and preserving marriage! and the children! don’t forget the children! and zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

The fear of gay marriage worked only so long as homosexuality was a threat; once straight people got to know actual homosexual people, however, the abstraction couldn’t hold. The human story won.

Abortion rights don’t lend themselves so easily to such humanizing stories, however, and don’t end in thrown bouquets and candlelit dances. There are plenty of abortion stories to tell, which are being told, but they don’t follow the same arc as that toward marriage-equality.

There are all kinds of reasons for that difference, but a big one involves sex: marriage-equality folks rightly focused on love and commitment and fairness, on romance and weddings and families, and most definitely not on same-sex sex.

(Again, this is completely understandable: queer folk, especially queer men, have long sought to be seen as more than just sex machines, and as folks who just want what everyone else has. It thus made sense to omit from the ads & campaign speeches that a big thing most everyone has is sex.)

But ain’t no way to talk about abortion without talking about sex, and, unlike marriage, abortion isn’t seen as containing or domesticating sex, but the opposite; it is often seen, even among some who call themselves pro-choice, as enabling irresponsible sex.

By women, I mean. Of course, it is women who have irresponsible sex.

And so abortion gets caught up in all of our weirdness about women and sex and what counts as responsible and what should be the consequences and who should be the judge and wouldn’t you know it, none of that is as happy as the story of Caroline and Anita getting married after 50 years together or Jamal and Keith’s five kids dancing at their wedding.

I get what Constant is saying about the necessity of stories, but on abortion, I gotta side with the SSM opponents: “putting a face on the issue” isn’t enough.

Ok computer

11 05 2013

You know how there are things you know you should do because if you don’t do them you’re fucked but you still don’t do them anyway?

Yeah, well, I have plenty o’ experience with that little run-in scenario.

This time around, it was backing up my computer hard drive.

I used to be a champion backer-upper: When I was writing my dissertation I heard a horror story of someone losing a chapter or half her dissertation or something similarly terrifying, so I had copies of copies of copies. I had those crappy little 3 1/2 inch disks in my office, my book bag, at home—and I made print copies (which I kept in various places), just in case.

It was fine.

My next computer had a zip drive (remember those?)—which did me no good when my computer was swiped, because I hadn’t backed up the hard drive between the August purchase and November burglary. I still had all of the disks from copying everything from my old computer, so it’s not like I lost all of my work, but I had done a fair amount of tedious database work which was lost.

Still, when I got the replacement computer, I remembered to back things up. And some time after I moved to Somerville I got an external hard drive and backed stuff on that fairly regularly.

Until it died. Then I putzed about getting another one. I did, finally, then putzed about actually using it, then actually used it. I kept it close so I’d remember to back stuff up regularly, but, you know, I. . . didn’t. Oh, I used it, but not nearly as often as I should have.

Well, I did a disk defrag recently and thought, huh, it’s been awhile since backed my shit up—I oughtta get on that.

And I didn’t.

Then a coupla’ weeks ago my computer began having issues with trying to install an update and thought, Huh, I oughtta back my shit up, just in case.

And I didn’t.

And then a coupla’ days I had that issue with transferring photos from my camera and. . . you know what happened: squat.

So, this afternoon I was on my computer and had a nice long chat with my friend L. on Skype, which meant I’d plugged in my nifty Logitech camera. No problems. I wasn’t feeling great afterwards, so decided to take a nap; when I awoke, I assembled some of my DELICIOUS mushroom-tofu burritos, lifted some weights, showered, then turned on the computer for a delightful evening of Hulu-watching.

You know what happens.

I will spare you all of the details, save the main one: the damned thing wouldn’t move beyond the “Welcome” screen. Repair, restart, stuck. Shut down, start, stuck. Repeat until you’re sick of it, then repeat some more.

Then I thought to get out my netbook and look up what might be the problem, found and tried this and that, then the other thing, then each and all of them again, then something else, then the things I’d done before, and at some point I thought, Hm, I should e-mail GeekHiker with an SOS.

I’m sure he wouldn’t have laughed—much—over the age and un-Apple-ness of my laptop before or while helping me. Still, I thought there was more I could try.

I got information like “memory .DMP in index $I30 of file 449 incorrect” and “The instruction at 0x773D1bcb referenced memory at 0x.00000000. The memory could not be read” and “Bad Image C:\Windows\System32\BCMLogon.dll not designed to run on computer or contains an error” and “System volume is corrupt file system repair completed successfully Error code =0x0 Time takes 271005 ms.”

I have no idea what this means except that it is not good that I am getting these messages.

Anyway, the Windows Support site was actually useful, cluing me into the secret that if you hit F8 just as the computer is booting up you get to these options which just might save you a trip to the computer repair store. More clicking around and trying this and that and nothing working and thinking, Shit, what about a Windows Restore and/or something about mirror imaging?

I was leery, however, because your disk wipes itself before recovering and replacing the wiped info. You do get walked through the steps and can say no before hitting Go, but, man, that seemed extreme.

So I thought I’d try System Restore again. I had tried it before, but thinking it wasn’t working I clicked on it again and it got huffy and “exited the program.” Well, what the hell: I did the same thing again (including clicking on it again), and while I got the exit message, the program nonetheless proceeded to run.


I picked the earliest date I could (April 10) because, ah, shit, reasons, but it didn’t want to go back to April 10, so I tried April 24. And it ran. And it completed. And it restarted.

And it booted past the Welcome window! Whoo hoo!

The first thing I did?

Plugged in that hard drive and backed my shit up.

Happy ending, five hours later. I’ll take what I can get.