Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Huh. Well, that explains it, I guess...

From an otherwise perceptive, informative, educational and fascinating post on "quiverfull" families - those folks who read that bible thing about "be fruitful and multiply" and took it really literally -

womensspace Says:
November 29th, 2006 at 6:52 pm
Lya Kahlo: I don’t have any trouble imaging that there are women who do like having gigantic families. I have a very hard time understanding women that “want” to be
subservient, or who are willing to serve a “god” that demands such a thing.

Lya, I think this wanting to be subservient to men and to a “god” who demands this kind of thing from women is of a piece — not to open a can of worms, but I do believe this — with what makes sadomasochism, and heterosexual relationships, period, attractive to many women. Under male heterosupremacy, sexual violence, including in the form of dominance and submission of whatever kind, whether religiously based or just sex-based, are, in fact, “sex.” We all grow up with these messages, all of us, we are affected by them, and our sexuality is formed in the crucible, for women, which they create. To me, there is no material difference between saying, “I really like SM sex,” and “I really want to be a submissive wife.”
(emphasis mine)

Folks, I am absolutely NOT trying to start shit with Heart, or with Lya, or, at least for the moment, with anyone.

But I'm having a really tough time keeping my hands to myself here, metaphorically speaking. I could comment on the thread itself, but I highly doubt I'd get through moderation; given my reputation, even if I said "oh Heart, you are so right in your rightness! Thank Goddess for your courage and strength and compassion and brilliant brilliance" - I doubt I'd get through, even if I meant it. So I bring it here, even though I know it now looks like I'm having a go at someone for no reason. But I feel I have a gripe valid enough to speak up about it, and in case we need reminding, SPEAKING UP IS A FEMINIST VALUE.

Because, oh my little white socks, there's a lot to speak up about in this sentence:

To me, there is no material difference between saying, “I really like SM sex,” and “I really want to be a submissive wife.

Heart - I believe you are in error on this, and I believe that error is no small, overlook-able nitpick but in fact reflects a pervasive flaw in your worldview.

Some definition of terms would be groovy.

"SM Sex" is a pretty broad term, encompassing all manner of activities ranging from relatively low-impact sensation play to activities that some would quite logically find dangerous and creepy. When a woman says "I like SM sex", she could mean:

"I like it when I/you bite your/my neck", or
"I like it when you spank me lightly," or
"I like it when I spank you heavily" or
"I like it when I/you wear this/that", or
"hell yeah, tie me up!" or
"your tears turn me on" or
"I like it rough" or
any combination of those, or none of those at all.

So I don't really know what Heart means exactly by "SM sex", but I have the feeling that in her head all "SM sex" involves elaborate harnessings and lashings and egregious humiliations and all manner of nightmarish sexual horrors. Well, let's say that's what I mean when I personally say "I like SM sex". Just for the sake of argument, and also because it's true.

when I said to Mr. Abusive Ex "I like SM sex", and elaborated a bit on what I dug, I thought I was saying "I like SM sex." I didn't realize I was really saying "I like being at your beck and call twenty four hours a day, having no life of my own, suffering through your insane and dangerous and abusive rages, and being completely unable to function like a normal person."

See, my exhusband thought that when I said I liked rough sex, I really meant that I wanted to be a "submissive wife".

He thought that because I liked rough sex, I liked to fetch and get and make and fix and fluff and fold and stir and scrub - which, you know, except for the stirring, I could give a dirty toilet brush about housework. And he thought that any failure to meet his rigorous housekeeping standards meant that I was disrespectful and possibly unfaithful and certainly disinterested in being married to him and definitely getting uppity and needing to be brought into compliance.

He thought that because I liked rough sex, I liked to have rough sex all day, every day, and on into the wee hours, and out of a sound sleep, and with strangers. And he thought that any lack of enthusiasm meant that I was disrespectful and possibly unfaithful and certainly disinterested in being married to him and definitely getting uppity and needing to be brought into compliance.

He thought that because I liked rough sex, I liked to be entirely responsible for the finances despite having no money of my own (even though I had a decent job), and I liked to ask permission to spend $10 on my damn self every now and then. And he thougth that any bookkeeping error or desire to read a new book meant that I was disrespectful and possibly unblahblahblahyougetthepicture...

You know what's sad? what's sad is that after a while, I started to believe it myself. I started to believe that because I liked rough sex, I wanted to be a doormat.

But I can tell you without equivocation, and with knowledge bought and paid for by my own blood - it is exactly that attitude, that "liking rough or weird sex = wanting to be a doormat", that leads to DANGEROUS, LIFE-THREATENING SITUATIONS.

the minute I realized "hey, I'm not a doormat, I'm just kinky!" well, things made a lot more sense. and I left.

I don't know if the opposite is true - if saying "I want to be a submissive wife" is materially the same as saying "I like SM sex" - but I don't imagine that most of your average surrendered-wife style Good Christian ladies really want their husbands to go fetch that elephant-hide cat-o-nine-tails from the broom closet on a Saturday night.

(I don't know, Rootie - what do you think? do you have an opinion on this?)

But here - the most important thing is this:

when I say "I like chocolate ice cream", I mean "I like chocolate ice cream," not vanilla yogurt.
when I say "I like to knit sweaters", I mean "I like to knit sweaters," not crochet scarves.
when I say "I can hammer nails," I mean "I can hammer nails," not saw wood.
when I say "I was raped," I mean "I was raped," I did not consent to sex.
when I say "I need an abortion", I mean "I need an abortion," not "I want to have a baby."
and jesus gay - when I say "I like SM sex," I mean "I like SM sex" - not "I want to be a submissive wife."

and if our wise crones and respected elders and matriarchs can't believe a woman knows her own mind, well, how the hell can we expect ordinary, average men to believe a woman knows her own mind?

Monday, November 27, 2006

Sometimes the blogosphere really ticks me off.
Sometimes I come across posts or comment threads that I desperately want to participate in, even knowing full well that it would be a recipe for disaster.
Sometimes I am more-or-less successful in resisting the urge.

Now would be one of those more successful times.

Instead of jumping into my asbestos longjohns and refueling my Incineratron 2000 Roast-O-Matic flamethrower, I thought I'd clap my hands over my ears and say "I'M NOT LISTENING I'M NOT LISTENING MARY HAD A LITTLE LAMB LITTLE LAMB LITTLE LAMB" etc, like Winona Ryder in "Heathers".

Rather than dwell on all the things that are making me cranky this morning, I think I'll share my holiday wishes list, and invite others to do the same.

Some holiday wishes are for Queen Me-Me-ME. Some are for loved ones. Some are for strangers. But they are all offered to the Universe in a spirit of hopeful optimism and goodwill toward Class Human.

in a perfect world, under my own personal Selfish Bitch Tree, I'd love to see:

* a sewing machine
* a dog who needs a home
* the book "Big Girl Knits" so I can finally knit some sweaters that don't strangle
* middle-eastern dance lessons that I can walk to or bus to
* kitchen scrapers of all shapes, sizes and purposes
* a new flipper
* silicone bakeware
* a mixmonster. a big pink mixmonster.
* big giant rhinestone-y hairclips, the more ridiculously godawful and ornate and pointlessly rococco the better

and for others, I wish for:
* easy finals for all the college students I know
* cooperative relatives
* time to hang out and feel all holiday-cheerful with people who don't think you suck
* time to feel sad and grieve as you need to, if you need to, without feeling pressured
* the courage to face houseguests even though you haven't scrubbed all your floors with a toothbrush
* enough money and/or creativity to give awesome gifts to your loved ones without the process leaving you feeling stretched to your very limit
* the luxury of a minute's peace and quiet

and if you, blogosphere, don't approve of this post? think it's too materialistic and consumer-y? think it ignores all the pain and suffering in the world? think my wishes are shallow and unenlightened?

It probably is. it probably does. they probably are. but at least I'm not screaming. and for that, consider y'allselves lucky.

Friday, November 17, 2006

you know what I don't get? trolls.

I mean, they don't show up here, for some reason.

If I am, as Axinar spuriously claims, psychotically popular, I ought to be fighting 'em off left, right and sideways.

what, am I just not controversial enough? I can accept that. I'm wicked-ass boring most days. But, you know, I am as god made me.

Now, from time to time I do hear from the loyal opposition, and folks who feel insulted or hurt by what I've said, and folks who feel compelled to correct factual errors I've made - and that's great. I need to know when I've made mistakes, I need to know there are opposing viewpoints that are reasoned and considered and just as morally cohesive, if you will, as mine. To date, after more than one hundred posts in the six months or so I've been blogging, I've never moderated-out a comment or had to ban a commenter. (oh, wait - I think I got some really lame and transparent spam of some sort, trying to sell me something or other. I deleted that comment.)

But I never ever get that raving, swearing, thrashing, full-psycho-jacket balls-out lunacy that most people consider "troll" behavior. Even the most opposing of the opposing viewpoints and the harshest of personal criticism has had a discernable (occasionally ever-so-miniscule) element of sanity and reason.

Nor do I ever compose comments of my own that contain raving, swearing, thrashing, full-psycho-jacket balls-out lunacy. Never have, never will.

So, when I'm accused of being a troll, and then modded out of a comment thread, it rather gets my voluminous granny panties in a great big old wad.

I know the difference between troll behavior and dissent.

Here goes a troll:

You're what's wrong with America today, you castrating cunt. I wish I could rape you fifty times because women like you deserve it. why don't you shut the fuck up before I jam my dick in that gaping hole under your nose and fuck it 'til you choke on your own blood you disgusting whore. I hope Al Qaeda comes for you first. in fact I'll tell them where you live. then you'll cry for a real man to protect you and I'll laugh my ass off ROTFL

And here is a difference of opinion, albeit a bit more strident and bitchy and maybe even hostile than maybe I should have been:

“Is a DP inherently degrading to women and therefore sexist? I don’t know, and I don’t have to know.

so, a woman’s opinion on what gets up her own ass is not important to this man?

“Is a DP inherently degrading in the minds of men? That’s a much more important question, and that answer is much more disturbing.”

The opinion of Class Man on what gets up a woman’s ass is the important question?

some feminist.

yeah, sure. not my finest hour. But, to call me a troll because of the above comment assumes that I'm also sprinkling "fuck you you fucking cunt" all over the blogosphere like Johnny Badwordseed. Calling me a troll, and then making a grand gesture of moderating me out of further comments because of my terrible trollishness, tells me you can't tell the difference between the human enemas that think it's fun to fuck with people, and people who are working towards a deeper understanding.

how dare you. seriously. how dare you lump me in with those wastes of skin.

It may also tell me you don't care enough about your own position to expose it to rigorous inquiry.

It may also tell me you might not have so much courage in your convictions - which is the nicest way I can think of to call you a chickenshit. make of that what you will.

Further, hollering "troll! troll!", and casting wild-ass aspersions, and not letting me respond, deprives all the other commenters the chance to see any evolution or modification of my opinion, which may lead to further discussion and growth. I now have no chance to say "well, what I meant was", or "that was probably a little hostile of me," or "no, I'm really angry about this because", or anything else that would indicate to the rest of the commenters that I'm willing to actually discuss things like a rational human being.

Personally, I think Mr. Goff owes me an apology.

I'm not saying Queen Me should make the rules for every blogger on every blog. I understand the need for very clear boundaries, and maintaining "safe space", to the extent it can be maintained. And yes, "my blog, my rules" is sacrosanct. But that said, a too-restrictive and entirely arbitrary policy that slaps the "troll" label on every dissenting opinion is no way to maintain a progressive atmosphere.

and how the hell can you call yourself progressive if all dissent is viewed as treason at best, and bullshit at worst?

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Finally, some buttsex!

Actually no.

What follows is a comment (bolded) from Elaina, of TrashTalksBack, as posted on Stan Goff's site "Feral Scholar", as regards Robert Jensen and buttsex, penetrated by my comments, which I make here on my blog 'cuz it's the only place I can make them:

So we have again the same circular arguments presented more as a form of brainwashing the potential reader than actually arguing anything.

If you are truly convinced of your own righteous opinion, you’re unbrainwashable. It ought not matter what I argue.

I wonder if anyone will even consider what I have to say, in the midst of so many “liberated” fuck-me feminist arguments.

I’d consider it with much more objectivity if you didn’t call me a “fuck-me feminist.” But I’ll forbear in this case.

FMF: I like DP. I’m a woman. Punto.
Random Male Lurker: See. A woman likes it. It can’t be bad.
Other FMF: I like it too. See?
Other Random Male Lurker: Now we know it must be true!
So the man dictates, via porn, what both men and women like, women speak up in support, men have what they feel is a concrete reason to argue for their “right” to porn and lack of guilty sentiment when they ask their female partners to do what they “see in the movies.”

For the record, I figured out what I liked well before being exposed to any sort of pornography. My first forays into The Anal were inspired by a novel by Lisa Alther (the lesbian feminist author).
Of course, this does not address the problem of those certain men who can't tell the difference between real life and the movies and pressure their partners to perform some kind of life-imitates-art kinky sex thing.

I’m glad for the moderator interruptions, here. I’m surprised that this space got invaded just now- stan’s been exposeeing the porn industry for a while now. The moderation clearly illustrates the circular nature of these arguments.

If ya talk until we run outta breath, it doesn’t mean you’ve won the argument.

You neither. Clearly. The pornwars have been going on for at least twenty years, here and elsewhere. But I expect you know that.

Now. I’m gonna put my “cred as a woman” cards on the table and say: I like DP.
*waits for collective gasp*
Furthermore I’ve had orgasms in the act.

Why would that shock me?

Does that mean it isn’t inherently sexist? Uh, NO.
What I “like” and or “don’t like” doesn’t make or break an act as “sexist” or “feminist.”

Neither make, nor break. You said it, not me.

Now. When women say that they 1. support pornography 2. get off on doing the stuff that’s portrayed in pornography and 3. think other women should shut up about the ills of pornography as an industry, does it get the attention of/ respect from men who have power?

I never asked you to shut up. None of my other associates around the blogosphere have told you to shut up as far as I know. I have asked, and continue to ask, for some respect from other women who seem to think that I’m a handmaiden of Patriarchy because I’m kinky. I’m not asking for anything from men, nor do I think I should stop asking for that just because random men think I’m cool for reasons of their own.

I like to eat. Eating is sometimes portrayed in media as being “decadent”, “sinful”, “dangerous” – should I therefore starve?

YES, IT DOES. Men will back you up much more easily when you say, inadvertently or otherwise, that you support their vision of you as a fucktoy, when you support an industry that very firmly and viciously holds their power still and augments it.

I don’t care what men think about it. To paraphrase Robert Jensen: Do they think I’m a fucktoy? Do they think DP is degrading? I don’t know, and I don’t need to know.

Will I ever do DP again? NO. ABSOLUTELY NOT.

Well, just because you had an orgasm does not necessarily mean you “liked” it. Orgasm is just a response to stimuli.

Whether or not an orgasm is achieved in a sexual act is irrelevant- because, and I’m sure I’m not the only one here, in this murky wealth of sexual experience that I’m seeing unfold in this particular comments section, who knows this- it’s not at all rare or uncommon to “feel bad” or “feel weird” or whatever after experiencing an orgasm. Even a big one. Even one that makes you feel like your eyes are popping out of your head. The orgasm’s not the point. Individual satisfaction is not the point.
You’re absolutely entitled to refrain from any activity that makes you feel bad or weird. I have a long list of things that make me feel both bad and weird, which I won’t do. And the reasons you feel bad and/or weird are yours alone, and I absolutely will defend your right to them. But if it made you feel bad and/or weird, can you really say you found it satisfying?

That said, I wonder if one key reason one might feel bad and/or weird is because someone said that such an act should make one feel bad and/or weird.
But if for whatever reason one did not get that bad/weird message, how would abstaining from the activities that give you pleasure hasten to bring about the Feminist Rapture?

I think I’ve said it before; it’s like somebody’s threatening to take these women’s toys away.

I can see how it would seem that way. Some people (like me) do a lot of complaining about it. But, if I may be allowed to speak for the entire “pro-porn posse” (such as is rumored to exist), you can pry our toys from our cold dead fingers. It would be great if the critique of dangerous exploitive practices in pornography could be separated from the condescending contempt for women who independently dig kinky sex, or want to explore, or have partners who don’t immediately beg for everything they see on TV, so that everyone who had a stake in women’s liberation could participate. As it is, your message keeps getting all gummed up in your medium.

See, the way that statement is framed, it equates the personal physical pleasure of individual women (those that are complaining, like me) with something disposable and trivial.

There’s a lot wrong with that. I shouldn’t even have to tell you what’s wrong with that.

The reason we have to look at the “why” behind men’s sexual suggestions lies in their political and institutional power over us, something that we all know cannot be wished away while we’re out here wasting time searching for the perfect orgasm.

I can’t really argue with that right now. I can argue with the assumption that I spend all my time, carrying a Fleshlight around in the dark of night, like a sexed-up Diogenes, searching for an honest orgasm.

What Jensen illustrates here, in the case of DP, is that the “why” is that the act will potentially cause pain and humiliation for the woman- and that enough men have brainwashed themselves through masturbatory practices that it’s the common denominator.

OK, but how many is “enough”? And how do they “know” it’s painful/humiliating? By what means do they get their information? The captions under photographs? Dialogue in a movie? When men talk about sex, do they say “women hate this, so we should try to get them to do it, even though the close proximity of one penis to another makes us uncomfortable in its suggestion of homoeroticism?”

If all women said “DP is painful and humiliating and we don’t want to do it”, that would be really valuable information to have. But the meme, the “women hate it so we want it” meme, seems to be passed around from (some) men to (some other) men, without any concern for what real women think. That’s also wrong, and I shouldn’t have to tell you what’s wrong with it.

The reason that so many of these trolls,
I’m not a troll, damn it. Jesus Gay. i'm just a woman with a different opinion.

who are just now chiming in on this conversation after it’s been a part of this blog’s dialogue for at LEAST a year and a half,

it’s been, as I’ve mentioned, TWENTY years, plus. I’m not an interloper. I’ve been thinking on this, and discussing it, for at least as long as some participants in the discussion have been conscious.

is that it illustrates so clearly how these WOMEN are acting in a way that supports MEN’S DOMINANCE of not just other women, but themselves as well. Folks tend to get kinda wiggly when they realize they’re active in their own oppression.

Don’t save me. Especially don’t save me if you’re going to be snide about it. And I could tell you a story or two about being active in my own oppression. It had precious little to do with making myself available to be filmed doing DP scenes.

This essay is illustrative of the NON-individualized, COLLECTIVE attitudes that men have about women and “their” sexuality. It shows us that men think that women’s pleasure should be derived from painful situations that they inflict upon us; our own experiences as such and our own individualized reactions as women cease to exist- if it’s not painful to us, it isn’t pleasurable, or isn’t as pleasurable, for the men who want to do these things TO us (note, I didn’t say with us?)

“our own experiences as such and our own individualized reactions as women cease to exist”: sure, but you’re not bothering with individualized reactions that don’t support your thesis. And there are plenty of women whose individualized reactions don’t support your thesis.

It sucks to be ignored, and speaking up is a feminist value. Ergo, some of us will continue to speak up until someone comes up with something else to say besides “go back to your perverted sex games, you counterrevolutionary falsely-conscious trollmaiden-of-patriarchy.” (yeah, okay, that was a paraphrase…sue me…)

Men still think that women’s sexual experience revolves around men’s perceptions of what “good” and “pleasurable” and “satisfying” sexuality should be- for men. Women who preach and preach about the “liberating” aspects of pornography do not/have not/will not create a “new sexuality,” because the framework from which they begin is the OLD sexuality, it’s a men’s sexuality.

I imagine that some men do think that way, and would think that way regardless of what some women preached and preached. I think it’s good and healthy to study the way sexuality evolves – and for some of us, that study involves experimentation, extensive commentary, documentary footage I suppose. But you can’t expect humanity to just sit on its collective hands and wait for the RIGHT sexuality to emerge from the ashes of the WRONG sexuality.

I bet some women feel okay, even good/positive/liberated about the films they make. I bet some women feel bad/negative/dirty/wrong about the films they make. I’d love to be allowed to critique the porn industry, and try to mitigate some of the damage done, and work towards liberating those who feel imprisoned by it – but apparently if you stick up for consenting buttsex, well, nobody important is going to listen to you.

You want to create a new kind of sexuality? Start at home, with your partner.
Don’t tell me what to do.

Why does it have to bolster an industry that destroys women? Why does that industry have to be part of our sexuality? Why does a “liberated” sexuality have to consist of the same-old same-old?

I have no doubt that some acts of DP humiliate some women some of the time. I believe it hurts, and demeans, and degrades, and humiliates, and injures physically and emotionally some of the time.

But Jensen was saying that all DP is sexist and degrading because men say it is sexist and degrading. I ask again, how is that idea even remotely feminist, the idea that men get to decide what is sexist and degrading to women?

I don’t think that every act of DP humiliates every woman in the world every time it is committed. I feel like some people really do believe that any and every act of DP humiliates every woman, even those who are not being penetrated, even those who are miles and miles away, every time. So you see, I don't believe it when you claim that you think whatever I’m doing with my own partner in my own bedroom doesn’t matter – because clearly it does matter to you.

You’ve made it clear that you’re anti-porn and that’s a courageous stand to take. But it’s not the only stand to take. Again, I’m not a troll, damn it. I’m the loyal opposition.

These attitudes are not new. They are not ingenius, they do not transgress power. They uphold it. Get that through your thick skulls, then you can get on with the work of liberating women.

I guess that’s the real meat of the discussion – does being wildly sexually adventurous, pushing sexual boundaries in many different directions, being as they say “polymorphously perverse”, transgress - or uphold - or transcend power?

Any thoughts?

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Much as I'd dearly love to wax rhapsodic about assholes and all their majestic glory, in the interest of good taste I think I'll refrain. For the moment. Because I don't want to talk about buttsex right now. sorry to disappoint for the time being.

Instead, I think I ought to get down to business and whomp up a contribution or three to Helping Us Help Ourselves, Lauren's collection of sui generis survival skills for this crazy mixed up modern world.

The first lesson: How To Exploit Public Transportation (or, how I learned to stop worrying and love The Bus)

Greetings, happy passenger!

Due to personal preference, medical issues, prohibitive costs, political convictions (or other convictions) - for whatever reason, you have cast aside the automobile and will now be using the city bus, train, metro or whatever combination your public transportation system uses in your area. Congratulations!

What - don't roll your eyes. It's not a punishment!

if you ever find yourself all alone in a big-ass metropolis (or even a moderately-sized metropolette), starting your fabulous new life from the bottom up after leaving your abusive partner, and your fabulous new life doesn't seem to include a car - trying to figure out how to get from place to place can seem like an insurmountable task.

If you weren't raised in a metropolitan area (like New York, Boston, Washington DC, San Francisco, I could name a hundred other cities), or have always used a car to get around, you may be somewhat daunted by the whole public transportation "thing". Those transit maps look like nothing so much as a plate of spaghetti served by Jackson Pollock. The timetables are arranged according to some mystifying algorithm that you seem to need a Ph.D to read properly. And everyone says that public transportation is late. And unreliable. And dirty. And full of...eeew...people...

Well, all that seems to be pretty much true. But once you get the hang of things, you'll find that your transit system operates with a logic all its own.

First things first - if you have net access, it's possible to get a lot of information that you will find helpful, like fare information. However, if you've never had to do this before, even the website may look intimidating. The most important piece of information on the site will be the Transit Information Telephone Number.

The customer service rep probably won't be snide or impatient with you, but s/he may tell you something like "oh, take the E3 to State Street and transfer to the Yx8, unless it's sunday, then you gotta take the K to the Q to the Y9, or you could take the 3/5 of the Square Root of Pi line..." Unless you mention that it's your first time using Public Transportation, and/or are new to the area, that stream of nonsense coming out of his/her mouth will be all you get. So speak up. They should be able to tell you how much it will cost, how long it will take, and whether you need a transfer to go from bus to bus without paying an extra fare.

You may be lucky enough to live within a short walking distance a bus/metro/subway stop. Excellent!

okay - in the rain, snow, or blazing heat, even a short walking distance is not so excellent, I admit. I could tell you stories, wet cold miserable stories...dehydrated sunburned stories...I got a million of 'em...such is the price of the courage of convictions (or, in my case, an apoplectic phobia of driving).

Hey, a little exercise generally doesn't hurt anyone. But be sure to consider the terrain (hills?) and whatever health restrictions you may have to work within, and allow for extra time to deal with that. Once you've figured out where you're going and what bus you need to get there and what time it gets to the stop, plan on getting to your stop at least ten minutes before the time the bus leaves. Don't worry - if you're planning to make a habit of this, you'll soon be able to judge how close to the edge you can cut it without having to see the ass end of your bus belching exhaust at you as it pulls away. But for the first time, give yourself plenty of room.

When the bus gets to the stop, have your fare ready. Smile at the bus driver. S/he may not respond, but it pays to be a little nice. If you ever find yourself hauling tail as the bus approaches your stop, if the driver recognizes you, s/he is more likely to wait for you.

The great thing about buses and trains is that the time you have while you're riding is absolutely your own. Someone else is worrying about traffic, rude drivers, cops - all that stuff is no longer your problem. you can turn off your cell phone. you can just sit quietly, with a book or headphones or some knitting or just your own thoughts. Under ordinary circumstances, nobody will mess with you. (If they do, tell the driver.)

I don't know about you, but twenty-some minutes of mostly-uninterruptible downtime is healthy for me.

The day I realized taking the bus totally kicked ass was during a terrible blizzard that shut down the whole state, and everyone closed early, and all the office buildings downtown disgorged their human contents all at once, causing a tremendous traffic problem, what with way too many cars on the road in hazardous conditions, skating every which way, getting stuck, causing all manner of chaos - I got home with no trouble at all, un-stuck, un-crashed, un-cranky.

Shopping trips may have to be planned for more carefully without a car than with a car, that is true. And if you want to hang out with friends, they may have to come and fetch your non-driving ass. But they won't mind. you're cool. and you'll have extra money from not buying gas or paying for parking or them a drink and they'll forgive you. (but not more than one...they're driving...)

So that's one of the things I know how to do. I'm a pro at taking the bus, which is good for the environment and healthy for people. I'm strongly pro-bus.

Other contributions from me will include How To Leave The Abusive Jerk and How To Get Arrested. I live to serve.

anyone else see this? this is from my local paper:

AA Step May Yield Jail Term
Recovering Alcoholic's Apology For Two-Decade-Old Rape Brings Prosecution
November 15, 2006
By KRISTEN GELINEAU, Associated Press

A man who sexually assaulted a fellow student at a fraternity party in 1984, then apologized to her two decades later as part of the 12-step Alcoholics Anonymous program, pleaded guilty Tuesday and could go to prison.

William Beebe, 41, calmly entered a plea to aggravated sexual battery as his victim, Liz Seccuro of Greenwich, Conn., bowed her head and wiped away tears.

"Twenty-two years ago I harmed another person, and I have tried to set that right," the real estate agent and former University of Virginia student said outside court.

Under the plea bargain, prosecutors asked that Beebe get two years in prison when he is sentenced in March.

Prosecutor Claude Worrell said authorities agreed to the deal in part because the investigation revealed that more than one person may have sexually assaulted Seccuro at the party. Beebe agreed to cooperate with the investigation into what happened to Seccuro that night.

The ninth step in AA's 12-step recovery program calls on alcoholics to make amends to those they have harmed. Last year, Beebe wrote Seccuro a letter of apology, and an exchange of e-mails ensued, in which he wrote: "I want to make clear that I'm not intentionally minimizing the fact of having raped you. I did."

In December, Seccuro called Charlottesville police to report what had happened. Beebe was arrested in Las Vegas.

It was unclear whether Beebe knew he could still be prosecuted for the crime in Virginia, which has no statute of limitations on felonies. Beebe and his attorney refused to answer questions outside court.

Seccuro went public with her name and story, hoping to lead other sexual assault survivors to seek help.

On the one hand, way to take sexual assault seriously!

On the other hand, no good deed goes unpunished.

On the other other hand, two measly years for ruining someone's life? maybe one could take sexual assault a little more seriously.

On the other other other hand - there's really NO statute of limitations on felonies in Virginia? uh-oh...

jeez, you'd have to be a whole family of octopi to have enough "other hands" for this.

I wonder if this news story will inhibit other twelve-steppers, or somehow cause them to skip or weasel out of the ninth step. What does AA HQ (if there is one) have to say about this?

I have to say, I'm a little worried about the precedent this sets. if the 39-year-old me is ever brought up before the magistrate to answer for crimes committed by the 18-year-old me, I'm not sure how well I'd fare, frankly. the fact that my youthful indiscretions did not include raping my classmates doesn't do much to assuage my guilty (and now a little fearful) conscience.

I seem to remember reading somewhere that Ms. Securro was seventeen and a virgin at the time of the rape, and that she thinks someone put something in her drink, and that she went to the authorities who blew her off, as was common at the time.

So, one side of this coin is - wow, isn't it great that sexual assault is taken much more seriously now than 22 years ago! What progress! isn't it great that women finally can see justice done! Hooray, the system works!

But the flip side is - dude, she's wrestled with this for two decades, and he gets two lousy years and then he's done? he's clean? it's all over? how does that even come close to fair? How is that justice? shit, the system sucks, just like it always did.

and then the other side is (damn, I ran out of sides, just like I ran out of hands)-
I sure as hell hope the system doesn't work so well for my criminal ass...

any thoughts?

Thursday, November 09, 2006

ok - clearly this blog break is not working for me. I just can't quit you, blogosphere.

Well, especially when there are people like this hassling people who don't really need hassling.

Biting Beaver's a lot of things, but stupid isn't one of them. Her commenters, though by no means pals of mine, aren't stupid either. so when I read something like this:

"I do admit I am not the most articulate person around, but then again considering where I am posting, I probably don't have to be."

even I have trouble controlling myself.

'cuz I'm all about the nice.

see, the whole point of a "goodbye, cruel world" post, like we've been seeing all over the blogosphere lately, is to get emotional, to let it all out, to induce a catharsis - maybe that's going to get a little overwrought in the process, but that's kind of the nature of the beast. The GCW post allows the poster to get it all off hir chest, and allows those commenters who feel so inclined to say a few words of encouragement, of farewell, of whatever "godspeed" type messages that seem appropriate. I think if one had anything critical to say about the blogger who's going dark, one probably shoulda said it while one had the chance.

It's just not right to kick a blogger when s/he's down.

so, yes, in an unprecedented moment of alliance with The Den, and with unprecedented malice in my heart, I urge you to pay a visit to both threads, and unburden yourself of a few well-placed slurs, insults, allusions to dubious parentage, or whatever ad hominem attacks as suit your fancy.

Gentlebloggers, start your whacking!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

we interrupt this blog hiatus to bring you this:

I'll be damned.

no further information on Rumsfeld's resignation is forthcoming right this second, but please feel free to share whatever is on your mind.

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