I’m not angry

6 03 2017

Oh my god, I am so fucking angry.

At least once a day, every day, I am hit anew with the incredible fact that Donald Trump is the 45th president of the United States, and that over 60 million of my fellow Americans voted for this. . . man, and that a good chunk of them approve of his job performance.

And I don’t know what to do about it.

Oh, yeah, I keep reading and thinking, but I’ve fallen off in every other way because it all feels too much like performing resistance and not enough actual resistance. I’m not a lawyer, can’t help with immigration; not rich, can’t afford to stuff money into empty pockets; and while I can do things, including writing (real writing, not just this blog), everything I can do someone else can do as well.

The anger is fine, anger is useful, but anger and helplessness enrages in precisely the way that will send me spinning into myself rather than out into the world, where the anger can be put to use and the helplessness dissipated. There actually are things to do, and I’m not doing them.

~~~

This is not just inward-anger: I am also angry at those fellow Americans who cannot be bothered to do the barest amount of work to educate themselves about politics and argumentation and reason and consequences. They’ll believe insane conspiracy theories and bat away any notion that logic or evidence have any role whatsoever in politics. They’ll burn the village to save it and if the village isn’t saved, well, then, at least it’s burned.

(Do I need the sidenote that political fevers cross boundaries, that bananapants may be worn by anyone who gets her march on? Fine, noted.)

I’ve said that Carl Schmitt gets something right in highlighting the friends/enemies distinction in politics, that theorists who forget this forget something essential about politics. But politics and, especially, governance, is about more than tribalism. Politics is not just war with words.

I have to remind myself of this, to not let my anger at Trump supporters transform me from citizen to soldier. If I’m angered that they can’t be bothered to perform some of the most basic duties of citizenship, I can’t forget that they are, in fact, my fellow citizens, and that I have obligations to something more than my tribe, regardless.

~~~

The anger manifested itself as moodiness this weekend as I watched the second and third seasons of The Fall.

I watched the first season around the time it came out, then just a bit of season two. This past weekend I watched the very last episode of season 3, then went back and filled in the rest. I don’t know if The Fall is any good—I admit to zipping through scenes that focused exclusively on the killer—but I did find it compelling.

Again, I was in a moody mood—had I been more upbeat I might have thought it all so boring—and there are some blind alleys, plot-wise, but I appreciated the sharper edge on sexual politics. Gillian Anderson’s Stella Gibson makes some shit decisions and is not a hero, but she is brave, and I wish I were as unflinching as she.

I think it was that sharper edge that pulled me in. As I said, I video-skimmed the killer’s story (yet another sexual-sadist-with-a-backstory who hates women) which likely had the effect of making more apparent the meanness of the culture in which he was able to kill. At one point the assistant chief constable—and one-time lover of Stella’s—attacks her; she fends him off, then, pityingly, tends to the wounds she inflicted. Later, he insists to her that he’s “not the same” as the killer; Stella agrees, then notes, “but you did cross a line.”

I don’t know why, but that exchange shivved me. I’ve never been a victim of sexual violence and haven’t had to deal with much harassment, but that notion, of having to tend to the feelings of a man who cares nothing for my own, well. Stella is tired of it, it’s clear, and all-too-practices in  maneuvering around it.

All of that maneuvering, all of those thickets and brambles, the constant need to pick burrs out of one’s hair and ignore the scratches and kick aside the rocks and duck the swaying branches and just get on with it. I’m not Stella, not by a long shot, but I felt a rather intense sympathy for her—a sympathy which morphed into empathy—that I didn’t when I first tuned in.

~~~

My reaction to The Fall made me think of Stieg Larsson’s The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,  which was, apparently, initially titled Men Who Hate Women. (I didn’t love the book, thought the Swedish movie adaptation better, and didn’t read or see the second and third installments.) I once thought that first title a bit of a joke, a kind of over-the-top absurdism.

I don’t anymore.

No, no, #NotAllMen. But while I recognized almost immediately how shook I was by the acceptance of racism as manifested in Trump’s victory, only now are the quakes from the misogyny moving through me. I’m mostly over the shock of the racism; I’m just beginning to come to terms with how much women, as women, are despised.

Again, I thought I knew, thought long consideration—decades-long consideration—gave me clear sight. But, again, so much I didn’t see that was always right there.

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Wrap it up

21 11 2010

Pope Says Condoms to Stop AIDS May Be Acceptable

-headline in New York Times story on the pope recognizing that people are. . . people.

Well, some of us, perhaps:

“There may be a basis in the case of some individuals, as perhaps when a male prostitute uses a condom, where this can be a first step in the direction of a moralization, a first assumption of responsibility, on the way toward recovering an awareness that not everything is allowed and that one cannot do whatever one wants,” the pope said.

That’s nice.

It’s a fine thing to recognize that the lives of gay men are worth saving. And Sullivan points out that by so recognizing the worth of said lives, the Pope introduces the possibility that gay men who have sex may act in a manner not completely outside of the moral sphere:

[O]nce you introduce a spectrum of moral choices for the homosexual, you have to discuss a morality for homosexuals. Previously, it was simply: whatever you do is so vile none of can be moral. Now, it appears to be: even in a sexual encounter between a prostitute and his john there is a spectrum of moral conduct.

Again, most excellent, not least because it allows for the possibility, however slim, that long-term gay male relationships may someday be recognized as morally licit.

Sullivan then goes on to note that this stance actually favors gay male relationships:

It’s okay for a gay prostitute to wear a condom because he was never going to procreate anyway. But for a poor straight couple in Africa, where the husband is HIV-positive and the wife HIV-negative, nothing must come in the way of being open to procreation … even if that means the infection of someone you love with a terminal disease.

It’s then you realize that the Vatican’s problem is not just homophobia. It’s heterophobia as well.

Dan Savage pushes the point a bit further:

So… condoms are okay when they’re being used to protect men who see male prostitutes. They’re not okay when they’re being used to protect a woman—a woman who might already have more kids than she can possibly feed—from an unwanted pregnancy or a sexually transmitted infection.

Allow me to push this all the way over the edge: Is there any recognition of women, any sense that we might have any say at all in our own sexual or moral lives?

Okay, so this is just an excerpt from Il Papa’s forthcoming book—maybe he’s got a whole chapter about the intellect and worth of those of us who wear our generative bits (most decidedly not ‘junk’) on the inside—but I gotta be honest with you, I’m thinking: no.

‘Heterophobia’ might work for Sullivan, but I’m old school: I think I’ll stick with the more traditional ‘misogyny’.





(Almost) No comment

24 05 2009

Why Gay Marriage is BadBadBad, from one of the (multi-married) geniuses at The Weekly Standard:

Consider four of the most profound effects of marriage within the kinship system.

The first is the most important: It is that marriage is concerned above all with female sexuality. The very existence of kinship depends on the protection of females from rape, degradation, and concubinage. This is why marriage between men and women has been necessary in virtually every society ever known. Marriage, whatever its particular manifestation in a particular culture or epoch, is essentially about who may and who may not have sexual access to a woman when she becomes an adult, and is also about how her adulthood–and sexual accessibility–is defined. Again, until quite recently, the woman herself had little or nothing to say about this, while her parents and the community to which they answered had total control. The guardians of a female child or young woman had a duty to protect her virginity until the time came when marriage was permitted or, more frequently, insisted upon. This may seem a grim thing for the young woman–if you think of how the teenaged Natalie Wood was not permitted to go too far with Warren Beatty in Splendor in the Grass. But the duty of virginity can seem like a privilege, even a luxury, if you contrast it with the fate of child-prostitutes in brothels around the world. No wonder that weddings tend to be regarded as religious ceremonies in almost every culture: They celebrate the completion of a difficult task for the community as a whole.

This most profound aspect of marriage–protecting and controlling the sexuality of the child-bearing sex–is its only true reason for being, and it has no equivalent in same-sex marriage. Virginity until marriage, arranged marriages, the special status of the sexuality of one partner but not the other (and her protection from the other sex)–these motivating forces for marriage do not apply to same-sex lovers.

Uh huh.

Two (more) words: Fucked. Up.

(Tip to Chris Bodenner’s Sullivan Bait, sub-posting for Andrew Sullivan at The Daily Dish.)





Ain’t nobody’s business if I do

9 03 2009

I’ve started and stopped posts on abortion mebbe half-a-dozen times, wanting to craft an elegant justification of leaving the decision of whether or not to terminate a pregnancy to the woman herself.

Well, fuck that. I won’t give up on that elegant argument, but I won’t let it get in the way of writing anything about abortion, either.

Y’all have read about the nine-year-old rape victim, and the Catholic Church’s chilling response to her pregnancy and its subsequent termination. The Church says it won’t excommunicate her, but out are her mother and doctors. As C. noted, ‘Fuck them.’

(And yes, this is the same Church which could be partially shamed about the anti-semitism of schismatic Bishop Williamson, but didn’t give a shit about the misogyny of Williamson and his cohort and their denunciations of women wearing pants and, oh yeah, getting university educations.)

But they’re hardly the only ones who dismiss the risks of pregnancy to girls and women. Remember John McCain and his famous mockery of any health exceptions to laws outlawing abortion? He used scare quotes around ‘health’, as if it were some kind of game or dodge.

Scare quotes. Now THERE’S an argument.

Or what about the groups, like the Family Research Council, which reacted to the good news of an effective HPV vaccine by worrying that taking away the risk of sexually transmitted disease would make girls promiscuous?

Kinda like making contraception widely available would lead to promiscuity and general mayhem. Nope, let ’em get pregnant or an STD—that’ll show ’em!

This is of a piece with the argument of those who consider pregnancy a just punishment to promiscuoussex—because all sex which leads to an unwanted pregnancy must of course be promiscuous. No, no married women ever want an abortion,  nor women in stable relationships. Just those whores who get knocked up just to knock off the fetus, or those poor, poor victims of the abortion industry, seeking to turn those poor, poor women into barren dykes.

Got that?

Yes, this is a rant, which means there ain’t no elegance and not much argument, either. This is just me screaming at the notion that any woman who chooses to live her life, to assert her ability and liberty to live her life, is somehow a morally depraved human being. Or too stupid to recognize that this is a decision with consequences (until it hits her at some unspecified point in the future, at which point she’ll collapse in a heap of regret).

Even those mildly pro-choice can take a mild version of this line. As any number of bloggers at Feministing, Pandagon, and the Pursuit of Harpyness, among others, have pointed out, William Saletan of Slate is willing to extend to women the right to terminate their pregnancies only if they’re really really sorry for it. Rights in exchange for shame.

Well, to repeat: fuck that.

Abortion is morally complex—and so are women. No, not every woman who decides to terminate (or carry the pregnancy to term, for that matter) engages in Properly Certified Reflection, but when have we required such certification for the legalization of any number of other complex moral activities?

Or is the problem that to state the complexity of pregnancy is to admit that there is more than one morally justified decision?

Or or or is it more basic than that: That to leave the decision to the woman is to. . . leave the decision to a woman?

‘My Body, My Choice’ has long seemed too reductive a slogan to me, but I don’t suppose ‘My life, My life’ has quite the same zing to it.

*UPDATE*

The righteous women at Pandagon have a post on this very issue, along with an embedded vid of three men (including Saletan) talking about abortion and women’s sexuality. Haven’t yet watched the vid—and given my mood tonight, may wait.

On the other hand, since I’m already pissed off, what’s another increment of outrage?