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|Thursday, March 6th, 2008|
|Tuesday, October 30th, 2007|
|A greatest hits album? Seriously? What, are you getting ready to retire?
Um…WTF is this?
Does anyone else remember (and have a link to) the interview a few months back where someone asked Kaoru if they were planning anything to commemorate their 10 year anniversary and he said no because that kind of stuff was just a cynical marketing move etc? I remember reading the interview but now I can’t find it. And then today I get this from CD Japan.
Dir en grey/Decade 1998-2002[Limited Release] CDA
3000 yen US$26/115.78 Release Date:2007/12/19
Description:Greatest hits album from . Starting with theirDir en grey
ground-breaking debut in 1999 when all three of their singles broke the
Oricon top ten and continuin all the way to the band's internationally
acclaimed latest album "The Marrow of a Bone," hasDir en grey
maintained its position as one of the top bands from . Now it's time toJapan
commemorate the band's ten-year history with two brand-new greatest
hits albums spanning the years 1998-2002 and 2003-2007. This release is
"Decade 1998-2002" focusing on 's early years with DEG'sDir en grey
debut release "Akuro no Oka," the "Joi" TV series outro theme "Yokan," the
"Jealous -reverse" album of piano arranged songs from their indies era,
and more. "Decade 1998-2002" includes 21 tracks total, all featuring
digital remastering designed for next generation media.
URL - http://cdjapan.jp/d.html?KEY=SFCD-53
Dir en grey/Decade 2003-2007[Limited Release] CDA
3000 yen US$26/115.78 Release Date:2007/12/19
Description:Greatest hits album from . Starting with theirDir en grey
ground-breaking debut in 1999 when all three of their singles broke the
Oricon top ten and continuin all the way to the band's internationally
acclaimed latest album "The Marrow of a Bone," hasDir en grey
maintained its position as one of the top bands from . Now it's time toJapan
commemorate the band's ten-year history with two brand-new greatest
hits albums spanning the years 1998-2002 and 2003-2007. This release is
"Decade 2003-2007," focusing on the period of time when Dir en grey
first started making extended headway in the international scene. Album
includes classics like "The Final," "dead tree," saku," and more.
"Decade 2003-2007" includes 18 tracks total, all featuring digital
remastering designed for next generation media.
URL - http://cdjapan.jp/d.html?KEY=SFCD-55
Like I said, WTF? This is the first time I’ve ever seen Kaoru say something and then the band do the exact opposite. Have they totally lost control over what their record company is doing with all the Dynamite Tommy fiasco going on or is this a prelude to something more worrisome? Bands usually start doing this kind of thing when they’re about to break up.
Gah! Please to be stopping with the weird inconsistent behavior, dudes. Or if you’re going to release commemorative stuff at least include material that’s rare and hard to find rather than just the stuff that everyone already owns.
|Tuesday, September 18th, 2007|
I was pickpocketed on Friday. That wasn't fun. It was wierd - there were three guys working together, and it wasn't until later, when I realised my wallet was missing, that my friend and I mentally retraced our steps and figured out what happened. It was on the bus in San Francisco (#71
Haight) and there were three guys, an old man sitting down who distracted us and two big guys who crowded into my space. At the time I just figured that the bus was crowded, although one of them was so close that I tried to push him away because I was getting claustraphobic. I've never been robbed on public transit here before - I figure it was because I was all distracted talking to my friend.
My bank is a pain in the ass. Just thought I'd point that out. It's STILL not fixed.
Friday was also the anniversery of my mother's death, so you can imagine what a great mood I was in.
And now my mp3 player doesn't work! When I plug it in to charge it isn't connecting. So now I have to talk to their CS.
Yo, universe! Quit picking on me.
|Dynamite Tommy problems, continued.
So, has anyone heard anything more about this? I can't read Japanese so it doesn't do me any good to scour news sites. What I'm specifically wondering about is the release of the upcoming single and future tour plans.
Anyone know anything?
|Monday, September 17th, 2007|
|About the Dynamite Tommy fiasco
So, about that. It’s a big deal. Mostly it’s a big deal for Dir en grey, since DT reported the money that he stole as being intended to be used to promote them (videos, costumes etc). From a PR point of view, this is not good, even if it turns out that the band had no idea what was going on. They will be questioned by the police. They may have to testify. If they didn’t know, people will want to know why – it doesn’t exactly make them look too smart if they weren’t aware of what was happening. If they did know, that’s even worse. That would make them accessories. Basically there’s no way that this could play out that isn’t bad for them in one way or another.
This also affects the Visual Kei scene as a whole. Dynamite Tommy owns a lot of stuff. If you look at the list of bands he’s in control of, and then take into account that Free Will controls overseas promotion for PSC and UnderCode too…that’s 50%+ of the VK scene right there. This is HUGE.
There are also the more long-range implications. Even if Free Will survives with a new CEO and/or all the bands find new labels, this is a huge scandal. It doesn’t make the scene as a whole look good. Overseas it doesn’t matter so much, but in Japan? This is a fucking disaster. There have ALWAYS been rumors that Dynamite Tommy was yakuza, but rumors are one thing and having them confirmed is another. Most of the audience for most VK bands is teenage girls. How happy do you think those girls’ parents are going to be about letting them go to see bands that are known to have yakuza connections? To give them money to buy CDs and DVDs? How is this going to affect new bands coming up? How much harder is it going to be for the scene as a whole to be seen as legit? How long will the dishonorable taint linger?
On the other hand…Free Will is kind of a shitty label, as are all the DT-run properties. There’s a notable lack of professionalism to everything he’s associated with. IF all the bands under him can make it out of this mess in one piece it might actually be a blessing in disguise. Maybe they can all get deals with more respectable labels, at least the more established bands. It’s hard to imagine that not being a good thing for most of them. So, if he doesn’t drag too many other people down with him, this might not be a complete loss, at least in Japan. That still leaves the question of what happens to Free Will America and Free Will Europe. Both of those are shitty, unprofessional distribution channels, but they’re the only channels that exist right now. This could be a huge setback for Japanese bands that want to have a presence in the US and Europe, or it could be an opportunity to build something better. Time will tell.
I’m not quite sure why most DEG fans in the US don’t seem to grasp how big a deal this is, but…it’s a BIG DEAL, OK? Think happy, positive, non-going-to-jail thoughts, because this could turn really bad. DT never exactly struck me as the honorable sort, and if he’s going down he may well try to pull other people with him. Let’s all just hope that the bands make it out of this mess OK.
|Wednesday, July 4th, 2007|
|Help!!! Does anyone know anything about taking care of birds?
So I seem to have adopted a baby bird. I found it hopping along in the middle of the street looking lost, and I was worried that it would get hit by a car so I tried to move it to the sidewalk...then I realised that it's a baby that must have fallen out of it's nest and it was hopping because it can't fly yet. It even still has down. I tried to find it's nest but no luck, and I tried putting it in a tree to at least get it away from cats but it just sat there looking helpless. Then every time I went back to check on it it hopped into my hands and begged for food. So, because I'm a huge sap and I was pretty sure it would die if I left it there overnight, there is now a baby bird living in a shoe box on top of my stereo. Watch as any trace of bad-ass reputation I may have ever had goes up in flames...
The problem is, I know nothing about birds and have no idea how to take care of it. I'm a city girl, I've never even held a baby bird before. I made a sort of sugar water and fed it some with a dropper, and I think it's warm enough, but I have no idea how much or how often to feed it. It seems to be sleeping now. Should I wake it up again later to feed it? Is it worth taking it to the pet store and seeing if they have any idea what to do with it? To reiterate - this bird is TINY. You could probably fit three of it in my hand, and I have small hands. Putting it back outside in the morning isn't an option - it can't fly, and it can't hunt. So what do I do now?
|Monday, March 5th, 2007|
|Psst! Heart and Chasing Moksha – It’s the Clue Phone, and it’s ringing just for you!
So I’ve been following the Special White Lady debacle for the last few days, mostly quietly, and as amusing as it is to laugh at habitual ignorance of some of the less self-aware members of my own race there are times when one gets the feeling that they simply are not grasping what is being said to them. There they sit like the proverbial deer in the headlights, blinking stupidly, apparently completely unable to grasp why, jeez, everyone seems to be all upset with them! What did little old them do to deserve such meanness? Well, as a public service from one white girl to another, let me clue you both in.
What people are objecting to isn’t just what you’re saying, it’s the tone in which you’re saying it. Now I know that tone can be hard to interpret on the internet, but in both your cases the stench of martyrdom hangs pretty thickly over everything you write. What most people are taking away from your threads is a general sense that you consider yourselves to have made huge, giant sacrifices by marrying black men, and that you feel that that sacrifice entitles you to both praise and frequent pats on the back.
This is where the problem lies. Firstly, the idea that you made a sacrifice by marrying your husband? Pretty icky all around. Not very flattering to him, does not speak well of how much you value him as a person. Doesn’t speak well of you, either, the fact that you appear to consider yourselves above an entire category of human beings.
And there’s the other thing. That idea that you “married down” that permeates everything you write? Pretty racist, honestly. Likely to cause offense in most people of the thinking variety. Guaranteed to push the piss off buttons of most people of color, and for good reason.
And then there’s your whole “I speak for my husband” business, Chasing Moksha. Is the man not capable of speaking for himself? Has it ever occurred to you that your claim to speak for him might be met with just a teensy bit of skepticism from most black people, who are entirely too used to other people claiming to speak for them? Ever heard the term “cultural appropriation”? You’re pretty much the poster child.
And as to the claim that you deeply understand racism just because you’re partnered with a person of color…listen, ladies, my husband is Asian (whoops, better whisper that around CM, we all know how she feels about Asian people). Does my marriage to him give me some kind of magical ability to understand what it feels like to be the victim of racism? Umm, no. Not even a little bit. I can lend him an ear to listen or a shoulder to cry on when he needs it, be his sounding board or the person he rants to when he’s pissed, but will I ever really understand what it feels like to walk in his shoes? No. And neither will either of you.
And you know what bothers me, personally, the most about all your self-absorbed little rants? How many times in all of this kerfuffle have either of you ever said that you love the guy you married? OK, after we count those, how many references to your own sacrifices have you made? Put the two side by side…how’s that tally looking? And how does that make your partner/former partner feel, the idea that you value him more as a status symbol than a person?
Me, personally? I made no sacrifices by marrying my husband. He’s a great guy, and I’m lucky to have him. Now if only either of you could pull your heads out of your asses for long enough, maybe you might find yourself looking at your partner the same way…
|Sunday, March 4th, 2007|
|Friday, March 2nd, 2007|
|And now for some big sisterly advice for the fangirls…things not to do at a Dir en grey concert.
- Squealing. Let’s all remember that they’re not the Backstreet Boys, kids. Loud guitar riffs I can deal with, but the high-pitched girly shrieking was starting to threaten my eardrums a bit. Have none of you ever seen an attractive man before? Did you all spend the last few years locked in a nunnery with no access to television or the internet? Jeez, I know some of you are too young to legally get laid but at least download some porn or something already and spare the rest of us the hormonal screeching.
- Random fangirl Japanese. Yes, we all know that you’ve watched every episode of Gravitation, but that’s really no excuse for referring to a grown man covered in his own blood as “kawaii”. It’s kind of annoying, ne?
- Also, kawaii is not a synonym for “short”. It really isn’t.
- Cosplay. This was geeky enough in its original context, but in the USA, with outfits designed for cute little Japanese teenagers transposed onto the, ahem, larger American frame…not pretty. Plus those feathers are a bitch when they get in someone’s eye.
- And in the same vein…they’re not a visual band any more. They’re not going to wear skirts, and they’re not going to play Cage. Deal with it.
- Stalking is illegal, you know. And kind of creepy. Let’s all hope they have bodyguards.
- Acapellas and solos. These are a time to listen, not to randomly scream someone’s name. Doing so will incur a 2 minute penalty, 5 minutes if said calling out of random person’s name is accompanied by the aforementioned bad fangirl Japanese.
- Why would anyone spend $40+ to go to a concert just to spend the entire time, both waiting in line and during the actual show, babbling nonsense to their friends? Seriously, I’m really asking.
- Bitchiness. Yes, we’ve all rolled our eyes at the girls in clubwear in -10 degree weather, bare legs turning blue as they shiver in line, tripping over their own feet in 6 inch platforms, but why does anyone feel the need to waste energy actually attacking said unfortunate individuals? Really, the frostbite they are sure to suffer is punishment enough. Be nice and keep the bitchy comments to yourself.
- Bitchiness part two – yes, some of the fans are fat. This is America – of course some of the fans are large. Most of the country is large. Again, think what you want in the privacy of your own mind, but there’s no need to be openly nasty about it. Didn’t your parents teach you any manners?
- Line drama – chill the fuck out, people. A couple of people cutting in line with their friends isn’t going to make a lot of difference to where everyone ends up.
- The pit is a pretty rough place. People will push and shove and jostle for position. Nobody is going to respect the mysterious sanctity of the group you came with and not push into the middle of it. Get over it. You know what they say about people who can’t take the heat…
- Pit etiquette. If someone falls, help them up. If the surging is getting scary, link arms with the people next to you and hold each other steady. If someone wants out, then call for security and help them. Share water. Don’t hurt anyone on purpose. If you are neither able or willing to observe these rules, stay out of the pit.
- Next person who makes some asinine comment because they saw or thought they saw someone’s girlfriend and OMG she’s so not good enough for him gets a smack in the head. Jealousy is terribly unbecoming, you know. Not to mention rather undignified.
- Overall…play nice, kids. Remember the rules of the playground that your parents taught you when you were 3 or 4? Those were pretty good rules. Let’s keep them in mind for the next tour, shall we?
|The elephant in the room, or, what’s missing from the feminist conversation about porn and sex work
Class. Can we talk about that for a minute? I know that America likes to think of itself as a classless society but…um, no. Just because your aristocracy don’t have titles or distinctive accents (and even that last part is debatable) doesn’t mean that they don’t exist.
In reality the USA has pretty much the same basic class breakdown as every other society. The percentages in each class level vary a bit from one society to another, but the essential structure remains that same. So, how does this apply to porn?
In my experience the vast majority of the people who do any kind of sex work are working class. I do not mean this as an insult – I’m a socialist, working class is not scornful term to me. What I mean is that I have met many women who do some kind of sex work over the years, and I have yet to meet one who was from any kind of a background that could be described as truly privileged. I’m sure there are a few, mind, but I’ve never met one. A few middle class girls, yes, but no one truly upper crust. No, Paris Hilton does not count just because she made a sex tape. That’s not work, that’s a rich kid having a laugh. I’m talking about people for whom sex work is how they pay the rent.
This fact seems to be completely missing from most of the discussions I’ve ever seen about sex work within the feminist world. Part of that I think is that Americans tend to dominate the conversation, and many Americans are still basking in the illusion that they live in a classless society. Not the case – America right now has about as much social mobility as it did in the 1920s, if not less. Most people end up on the same rung of the ladder they were born on, and most significant wealth is inherited. Social mobility is possible, yes, but it’s the exception rather than the rule.
The other reason is the radfem idea that gender is the most significant of all things in term of how human societies are divided, summed up in the phrase “sex class”. If women are the sex class, and that’s the primary division in society, then why even bother talking about that other kind of class, the one that affects what school you go to and what food you eat and what kind of house you live in and all those other things which effect where you end up in life?
The problem is that those things count. They count a lot, actually, especially when it comes to educational and employment opportunities. Trust me, I’ve spent a good part of my working life in and around America’s elite, and let me tell you right now that they are not interested in hiring, promoting or even socializing with people who are working class. At one company I was the only non Ivy graduate there, and that’s only because I went to university in the UK. Class has a huge impact on what job opportunities are open to a person in this country.
So, back to sex work. It’s mostly done by people who grew up working class. This is important to acknowledge if we’re going to talk about it, so why is class the elephant in the room in this discussion, and why do so many feminist seem to not even notice that the elephant is standing right in front of them?
Let my throw my own story into the ring. I was a pretty privileged kid. Several members of the British royal family went to my boarding school. We also produced the first female Wimbledon champion (pretty upper crust sport, tennis). My high school was as elitist as it gets. I spent my teens in a nice, safe, clean little upper class bubble, and if my Dad hadn’t been stationed in the Third World for most of my childhood I’d probably be as utterly clueless about how the world really works as most of my former classmates still are.
Then I moved to London. I deliberately cut most of my ties with my former classmates, mostly because I wasn’t very happy about living in the bubble. I was bored, and the idea of sealing myself up in yet another bubble (some of my former teachers are probably still fuming that I refused to apply to Oxford) did not appeal to me at all.
When I got to London I began to move in entirely different circles. I’m a music nut, punk, metal and industrial mostly, so that became my peer group, other people who were into the same music. I still somehow managed to end up with a long term boyfriend who was as thoroughly privileged as I was, funnily enough – you can take the kid out of the bubble but you can’t take the bubble out of the kid, I suppose. For the first time I met a lot of people who actually had to work for a living, who couldn’t rely on Dad to pay the rent and bail them out whenever they got into trouble, and that’s when I first started to encounter the sex industry up close and personal.
There was a group of girls who all did sex work of one kind or another. The Italian girl was a stripper, the London native worked as a barker in a strip club and occasional hooker, the girl from the north of England worked as an escort. They didn’t like me very much, given that one of their friends had been dating a guy very much adored within our little scene who dumped her as soon as he met me – ah, the dramas surrounding boys who are in bands that the girls get unwittingly pulled into. Kind of funny in retrospect since his band sucked and he was a lousy lay, but anyway…suffice to say that I was not popular with these girls. One of them once tried to stab me in the throat with a broken beer bottle, again because of the “boyfriend stealing” thing (amusing since he chased me, not the other way around). That was my first impression of people who worked in the sex industry, and it wasn’t a very good one. The Italian girl I actually kind of liked at first, but then the whole guy drama happened and of course we had to be enemies. Teenage logic at it’s finest.
But then there was Noriko. Noriko was a dominatrix. She actually had a day job in a restaurant for visa purposes, a good thing given that her parents had essentially disowned her and would probably have turned her in to immigration if given the chance. She provided the first revelation for me – she didn’t actually have sex with any of her clients. The idea that people would willingly pay just for the domination and humiliation was a little surprising. I actually hung out and watched a couple of her sessions when we first met, because I was curious and she liked having an audience. She was also, and still remains, the sexiest woman I have ever met. Long dyed orangey red hair down to her ass, ripped fishnets, denim short shorts, big motorcycle boots…sexy punk girl at it’s finest. Anyone looking for something on which to blame my abiding interest in Japanese pop culture can blame her. She was also an awesome human being who introduced me to new music and new people, taught me how to cook Japanese mommy food (which I still do), and took care of me like a big sister. I loved her dearly, and still regret losing touch with her when I moved to San Francisco and she moved to Tokyo.
So there you have my introduction to the sex industry. One set of people that I met were, well, hugely fucked up. The London girl and the Italian were both hooked on heroin, and the girl from the north of England drank more than any other person I have ever met. I know that the Italian girl was an abused child, because she sobbed her story out on my shoulder late one night in a club before it was decided by the rest of her group that she and I needed to be enemies. Basically they fit the negative stereotype that most people have of women in the sex industry perfectly.
And then there was Noriko, and the friends who she occasionally worked with. Part of the difference may have been cultural – they were all Japanese, and blessedly free of the weird Christian hang-ups about sex to which the other group were prone (all three of the others were raised Catholic, interestingly enough). They were also all from a rather higher class background and a whole lot more educated. Part of the difference may have been the client base they worked with – mostly Japanese businessmen who were in town regularly for work, a few who were stationed in London more permanently, most of them married to women who for whatever reason they didn’t want to share their interest in all things fetishy with. Pretty much all of the clients were steady and long-term, and all seemed to be vetted by their boss fairly thoroughly.
The first group horrified, frightened and repelled me. The second…I worried about them occasionally, but they all seemed to be smart women who knew what they were doing and none of them seemed to have been coerced or forced by addiction or some other unfortunate circumstance into their profession. It wouldn’t have been my choice, but I was able to acknowledge that it was their choice to make.
I had my own encounters with the industry, too. I met Noriko’s boss a few times, and she kept trying to recruit me to work for her. She seemed to think that I would have been quite the hit with the clientele, and she was probably right – I’m a petite, pretty woman with soft, feminine features and big boobs, not to mention perfect boarding school inculcated manners, plus I’m one of the rare Western women who’s smaller than most Japanese men. I never for a second considered accepting, though, in fact I was rather offended that she even asked, and here’s where the class factor comes in.
Firstly, for most women of my class the very idea of sex work is unthinkable. It’s easy to pretend that that’s a moral reflex, but I don’t think that’s the case. Really I think it’s all about the class. Sex work is something that those other women do, the ones without the perfect manners and the useless but socially valued skills (horseback riding, piano playing, ballroom dancing, fencing, archery – seriously, who really needs to know how to fence?). It’s déclassé. That was what was going through my mind every time Noriko’s boss talked to me. It was most definitely what was behind my instinctively sneering response to the other group. Funny that it took me years to even realize how obvious my sneering must have been, and that that might have been part of the reason why they resented me so much.
There was also this guy who I ran into all the time who was a photographer. I didn’t know exactly what kind of photography he did at first, although I really should have figured it out sooner given how young he was and what an expensive neighborhood he lived in. At one point I was looking for a new place to live because I hated my landlord, and that’s when he made his move. He offered to let me share his apartment cum studio (gorgeous by the way – I had been there once for an after-party) and pay no rent at all. All I would have had to do was one modeling session a month, a couple of hours maybe. I sat there in shock as he laid it out for me – it was soft-core stuff that he did, pretty stuff, no penetration, just pictures of beautiful girls.
I slapped him, threw my drink in his face and stomped off in a huff. The next few months were weird, because I saw the guy around all the time and he kept trying to talk to me but I wasn’t having it, and of course there was Noriko to the rescue with her perfect punk snarl and her big stompy boots (anyone who thinks all Japanese girls are of the shy and cutesy variety is smoking crack – that girl could have kicked the ass of most men I know).
At the time I was hugely offended and frankly horrified that anyone would say such things to me. Nice, well-raised, steady boyfriend having, upper middle class me. It felt like a judgment, as if I had been called slutty, and it upset me.
A few more years of actual life experience and I see things differently. The fact that I don’t look “slutty”, that I look soft and pretty and girly, is precisely why he was interested in me. His mistake was in assuming that because I was hanging out with Noriko I was open to the idea of working in the industry, which I wasn’t. I also see the really important thing that I didn’t see then – it was laughably easy for me to walk away from that offer, because I could always rely on Dad to pay the bills and keep me out of trouble. Not everyone has that option. It was easy for me to stand on my morals and bathe in my offended feminine virtue, because I was also bathing in class privilege. Refusing that offer had no negative impact on my standard of living whatsoever. It wasn’t a difficult choice, it didn’t hurt me – but what about someone less economically fortunate? What about someone like the Italian girl, who was an illegal immigrant who couldn’t get legitimate work and whose family wouldn’t lift a finger to support her? What would the same offer have looked like from her perspective? And how much of my horrified reaction was based precisely on my outrage that anyone could possibly think I might be “someone like her”?
I really think that that’s what’s behind some of the more virulent hatred directed at women who do sex work by other women, even when those women are feminists. There’s a fear of being tainted by association, of being judged. It’s the Good Girls versus the Bad Girls all over again. It’s kind of pathetic, really – you would think that those of us who identify as feminists would be too smart to buy into that kind of thinking, but that does not seem to be the case. What’s going on is othering – “I’m not like her. She’s a slut, I’m not. God forbid that people think I’m like her”.
So, that’s what I think is really going on. The Good Girls versus the Bad Girls. Sex and class. The ways these things intertwine, how important it is to all of us that other people see us the way we see ourselves. We seem to be forgetting the sisterhood part, and that’s a sad thing, because if we other people and refuse to see women as sisters just because we don’t like what they do for a living then what does that say about what kind of people we are? About our capacity for empathy, or compassion? About our ability to accept that other people are always going to make choices different from our own?
There’s a really old British saying, from a folk song. “Rosy O’Grady and the Captain’s lady are sisters under the skin”. We all seem to have forgotten that recently, and I think it’s time we all remembered.
And on a small, personal note…damn I miss Noriko. Wherever she is and whatever she’s doing now, I hope she’s happy.
|Wednesday, February 28th, 2007|
OK, since I’ve been mulling this over myself recently…
How does everyone else classify themselves? What’s your tribe? Do you have more than one? Is your sense of tribe/in-group based on gender? Race? Class? Educational level? Field of employment? Subcultural affiliations? Political orientation? Sexual orientation? Something I’ve completely missed? A combination of all the above?
Sorry it this seems kind of nosy, I’m just curious to see how this works for other people. I’m also really curious to see how one’s upbringing plays into it.
Anyone else ever feel that their membership in one tribe is very much not appreciated by another tribe that they feel equally connected to?
|Tuesday, February 27th, 2007|
|Some thoughts about tribes, set off by BelleDame’s post
I find the whole idea of tribes, and of the way people categorize others into tribes, fascinating. Part of the reason for that is that I’m very much aware of my own tendency to divide people that way. It isn’t in the way most people do, though, and that’s what keeps me interested in the whole subject.
Take the thing I posted a few weeks ago about sexuality and orientation. I think the main reason I posted that, and that I continue to muse over the whole issue, is that I feel like I belong to multiple tribes, not just one, and sometimes I feel like a couple of those tribes resent my not identifying only with them. There seems to be an all or nothing vein that runs through both feminism and socialism, and I don’t like it. I don’t think it’s healthy for either movement, not only because sole identification with one political tribe leads to groupthink and all of it’s unpleasant mutant offspring, but also because it’s a terrible recruiting tool. What sane person wants to join a movement that demands 100 percent allegiance? Who is such a blank slate that, if they did, it wouldn’t immediately create conflict with all the other parts of themselves that they value?
Part of the reason I’ve been thinking about this so much recently is that my favorite band were here, and I went to two shows. Yes, I know that some of my online buddies who I met via the feminist and socialist forums are rolling their eyes at this point – feel free to bypass the music stuff if you like. Anyway…this band that I’ve loved for a very long time has a fan-base that is distinctly tribal in nature. Sometimes this is a good thing – when I flew to Arizona I was picked up at the airport, driven around, and generally taken care of by a woman whose only real connection to me was an ad I put on craigslist looking for concert buddies in Arizona. It all worked out, as we got along well and generally found plenty to talk about, but it got me thinking. Why would either of us assume that we would get along just because we love the same band? Why would either of us be willing to risk meeting a stranger that way, putting our safety in their hands?
The answer is tribes. Tribal loyalty, tribal allegiance, whatever you want to call it. I was willing to put myself in this woman’s hands, and she was willing to take time out of her schedule to drive me around, on the basis of tribal allegiance alone. That’s interesting. Normally I’m pretty friendly, but not necessarily the most trusting of people – there were other people who answered the same craigslist posting offering to drive me around, even offering a place to crash, and I said no, because none of them felt like part of the tribe. She did. On that alone, we were willing to trust each other.
On some level that’s a very illogical response. Why should either of us assume that our belonging to the same tribe means that we’ll both be decent people who might be able to get along with each other? And yet people make those kinds of assumptions all the time.
Another thing to ponder is the issue of tribes in relation to subcultures. I suspect that when the person who Belle was quoting talked about tribes he/she was referring to something on a more macro level – race, or political party, or class. In other words, I suspect that he/she was talking about those tribes that we belong to by birth, not by choice. What’s interesting to me is that I have no particular sense of loyalty to or personal affiliation with those tribes that I belong to by birth, but the ones that I chose of my own free will? You bet I feel a sense of affiliation.
I wonder how this works for other people. The vast majority of the population probably has no ties to any particular subculture, but everyone belongs to the macro tribes whether they like it or not. Even if one has no interest in classifying oneself that way others will be more than happy to do it for you. How does the tribe thing work for people who aren’t connected to any subculture? Do they then identify primarily as “male” or “female”, or as “white” or “black” or “Irish”? Is that the source of all those knee-jerk reactions based on things like race and gender that never seem to make any sense to me? Did my early immersion in all kinds of subcultures break those bonds, or did my parents just somehow manage to raise me without them? Or is the way people relate to the macro classifications simply a matter of individual personality?
Back to why my concert-going experience prompted this little moment of introspection. At the second show I ended up in the middle of a crowd of Asian-American teenagers, most of whom were either Korean or Japanese. There was one girl who was maybe fifteen or sixteen who for whatever reason I ended up talking to, and then somehow temporarily bonding with. The crowd was getting a little rough, and she ended up clinging to me, head buried in my shoulder and one hand clutching mine. She also kept talking to me in Japanese, which was kind of funny since she was Korean and I’m very clearly not Japanese. I speak enough Japanese that I could understand what she was saying and answer, but it was odd nonetheless. It got me thinking about why this girl who was half my age and from a completely different culture would for some reason cling to me as a source of safety in the crowd.
I think the answer, once again, is tribes. And I don’t really know how to explain that, probably because on an intellectual level it makes no sense. Why does subculture trump race, culture (I’m British not American, remember), and age? Why is it that those people involved in subcultures see others involved in the same subculture as their tribe? And what does it mean for my identification as a feminist and a socialist when I see so many members of both groups who I don’t identify with at all? When the visible face of both movements looks nothing like me?
|Monday, February 26th, 2007|
|Dir en grey at The Fillmore live report, 2/25
First off, this isn’t going to be one of those reports that’s all about what I was wearing and how everyone else sucked except my cool friends and me and OMG the Lolitas! Because really, it’s a concert, not a prom, so why should anyone really care about any of the superficial stuff?
Dir en grey were amazing last night. I’m probably one of the older fans who went to this tour both in terms of how long I’ve been a fan (since Jealous) and age (I’m 33), and I’ve been waiting a long time to see them. Concert DVDs are great, but it’s just not the same as actually being in the thick of things, with the bass and the drums reverberating through your entire body and the crowd screaming along like one giant organism.
Family Values was actually kind of disappointing for me. The set was too short, and honestly the band just didn’t seem into it. I also went to the show in Tempe, and that was a great show too from a musical point of view, but the vibe in the crowd was just…bad. Bitchy and negative and full of people who seemed to have never been to a concert before and didn’t understand how the pit works (yes, people will push and shove, everyone will steal your spot the moment they get the chance, your feet will get trod on and your ribs will get crushed if you’re against the barrier and it can be hard to breathe – DEAL WITH IT. That’s the way metal, punk and industrial shows always are, and DEG is a bit of all three, so what were people expecting? And no, yelling to people to move back doesn’t help, it just makes you look silly). I spent a good part of that show rolling my eyes at the constant stream of complaints, and the line was full of unnecessary drama.
San Francisco was different. The line was drama-free as far as I could tell, there was some quiet snarking at a few girls who looked as if they must be very cold on a wet and windy day, but nothing big or too blatant. The rain wasn’t fun, but everyone just huddled together and dealt with it, because this is San Francisco and it rains all the time (also, thanks to the tall Japanese guy whose name I’ve forgotten who let us all shelter under his umbrella, that definitely helped!). Everyone seemed to be of the same mind – yep, the line’s a pain, always has been, but it’ll all be worth it once you get inside.
The opening bands were actually a lot of fun at this show. They were doing a bunch of silly end-of-tour shit with TP and little bouncy balls and baby powder (the stage had to be vacuumed before DEG came on), and someone had messed with the projection system so it played random statements like “Everyone point at the bassist and laugh!”. I had heard a lot of unpleasant rumors about the audience booing the opening bands earlier in the tour, and I talked to Fair To Midland’s tour manager and he confirmed that it was pretty hostile at the beginning of the tour. At the San Francisco show, though, the crowd was actually giving the opening bands plenty of love, especially Bleed The Dream, whose singer did a great job of getting the crowd hyped up and defrosted. These are the moments when I love this town.
Those of us in the front also had a lot of fun watching Kaoru, Die and assorted companions sitting up in the balcony laughing at the opening bands throwing shit at each other. There was a kind of “big brother laughing at the crazy kids” vibe – it’s odd for those of who remember them as a wacky little indie band to realize how much older and more established they are now.
The actual show was amazing. This was the show that I was hoping for. The band were all on fire, energetic and engaged with the crowd and looking like they were enjoying themselves up there more than they seem to have been in a long time. It helps that The Fillmore is a great venue with a wide stage – lots of rail – and good acoustics. The crowding was pretty insane at front center, but it was a good crowd and people were looking out for each other and at least trying not to hurt each other more than necessary. I came away with a massive bruise on my hipbone, but hey, it was worth it.
Since I had the first show to just soak up the music, and since San Francisco was a far better crowd, this time I had a chance to really observe the way the band interact with the audience, and it was fascinating. It was hard to see Die from where I was without twisting at an odd angle so I didn’t see as much of him, hopefully someone who was on his side will fill in the gaps, but the other four…
I have to admit that, unlike most other fans, Kyo has always been the one I’ve been least interested in watching. There’s a certain darkness in him that I just don’t empathize with, as much as I admire his talents as a singer and a lyricist. I used to have a boyfriend who cut himself when he was frustrated, and that’s part of it – having been close to that for a while it’s too painful to watch it any more. I understand how cathartic that part of the show is for some people, but there’s a place he goes during shows that I’ve just never wanted to follow him to. I had a moment last night though, when he was staring into the crowd and caught my eye, and for a while I actually went there with him. Concert footage really doesn’t capture how mesmerizing he is in real life, the intensity of his stare when it’s directed right at you, the almost trancelike state he works himself into. He deliberately challenges people, pushes them to places that they would never go by themselves, and it’s an amazing experience. I finally understand why so many fans are so obsessed with him.
Shinya is…Shinya. It’s always amazed me how such a quiet, physically frail-looking man can be such a monster behind the drums, but he really is. He doesn’t interact that much with the crowd, just keeps his head down and focuses on the music, other than the drumstick throwing moment at the end. He’s wonderful to watch though – he was probably the weakest of all of them musically in the beginning, but he’s grown into a hell of a drummer. The look on his face when Kyo threw his box directly at the drum set was priceless, too.
Kaoru live is a thing of beauty, and I don’t mean that in a superficial way at all. He’s the other one who seems to slip into a trance when he’s really into the music – he spends a lot of time with his head down, eyes closed, lost in the music. There’s always been something oddly still about Kaoru, and that quality seems to become more pronounced the older he gets. I’ve always wondered if that’s why so few of the American fans seem to focus on him – in many ways he’s the most overtly Japanese of all of them, and I wonder if people here find that sense of quiet reserve off-putting. He certainly doesn’t get the credit he deserves as being the genius behind the whole thing as often as he should.
He’s been interacting with the crowd a lot more recently, too. Last night he was a fist-pumping, pick-tossing, head-banging bundle of energy. He even came out to slap hands with some of the crowd, and he kept coming right up to the edge of the stage and jamming directly in front of where I was. I haven’t seen him look like he’s enjoying himself so much in years – he looked bored at Family Values. At the end of the night he didn’t seem to want to leave the stage, and after they did finally leave he hung around in the wings just watching the crowd with a smile on his face.
The real dynamo on stage was definitely Toshiya, though. Watching him, Kaoru and Kyo together made something finally click in my head that’s been at the edge of consciousness for a long time. Part of the explanation for the success of DEG, and especially for the sheer fanaticism of the fandom, is that all the members are not only strong personalities, but very different from each other. For every fan there’s at least one band member who they respond to on a personal level, who they feel some kind of empathy towards.
If Kaoru is the pure love of music and quiet contemplation and Kyo is the conduit through which people access the darker side of their own natures, Toshiya onstage is pure love. It’s hard to explain to anyone who hasn’t seen it the way he interacts with the crowd, but it’s amazing to watch. There’s something distant about the way people relate to most of the rest of the band, but not with Toshiya. It’s hard to say if it’s just his natural personality or if it was a deliberate choice about how to handle live performances, but on stage Toshiya is the one who connects most with the crowd on a warm, human level. It’s not a distant admiration the way it is with Kaoru or a dark kind of empathy the way it is with Kyo. Toshiya’s relationship with the crowd is a love-in. The way that he points at his heart, then at the audience, the intense stare he gives people – it’s not an intimidating, challenging stare-down like Kyo’s, it’s warm and alive and somehow very intimate. There’s always been something oddly loveable about Toshiya, which is hard to explain – normally people that physically beautiful can be rather intimidating, but somehow he never has been. As easy as I normally find it to put things into words I’m struggling with this, because it’s not an intellectual thing, it’s physical somehow – Toshiya on stage looks like he wants to reach out to the entire crowd and give them all a hug, and I think that one some level everyone loves him for it. Of all of them he and Kyo are the ones who’ve been most able to bridge the language barrier, so that the fact that they can’t really talk to the crowd here doesn’t matter. The feelings they’re trying to express are perfectly clear, and everyone in the audience who’s paying attention can feel it. It’s amazing that after all these years they still have the desire to reach out and connect with the crowd, to communicate something on a direct and personal level, and in the end, isn’t that what we all love them for?
We had a couple of interesting little close encounters yesterday. Walking right past Kaoru as we were going to the car to dump bags and jackets and he was getting out of the bus (and yes, we were nice, civilized fans and didn’t bother him), my strange little eye-lock with Kyo, Toshiya coming down into the gap between the stage and the barrier and throwing himself into the crowd’s arms – I felt kind of bad that I ended up basically groping his chest, because I was trying to grab his hand but so was everyone else, so eventually I just gave up. I loved that all three guitar and bass boys changed sides at the end, so that everyone in the crowd got to see the whole band even if only for a little while. I really loved the fact that at the end nobody seemed to want to leave – even Kyo left and then came back rather than scuttling away as soon as he got the chance, Kaoru made multiple circuits around the front of the stage, and Toshiya seemed like someone was going to have to drag him off he was out there for so long. Even after the lights went on you could still see them all if you were close enough, huddled on the side of the stage watching us, smiling.
It’s a funny thing, really – people who don’t know much about Dir en grey tend to assume that the concerts must be a dark, disturbing experience, and at moments they are, but there’s something else there, and that something else is what gets people hooked, keeps them coming back, makes them willing the sit in line for hours in the pouring rain just to get closer, and it’s not a dark thing at all, it’s beautiful. If I had to try to explain I think it would say that it’s the sheer joy of knowing that there are other people like yourself in the world, that you’re not alone. That’s what keeps us all coming back, in my opinion, and after all these years I’m incredibly happy that I finally got the chance to see and feel it up close. It was more than worth everything it took to get there.
A few small side notes – I ended up in the middle of a bunch of Korean and Japanese kids who all seemed to know each other – sorry if I squished any of you guys or trod on your toes! I was actually kind of worried about the cute little girl in the striped sweater – she was looking a bit overwhelmed during Fair To Midland, and I was trying to keep an eye on her but I lost track of her once the crowd started surging. Does anyone know if she made it OK? I was the woman in her thirties with the curly hair and the black CBGBs hoodie who kept putting my water bottle on her forehead to try to cool her down a bit.
I was also concerned about the girl with the strappy tank top at the front who had to be pulled out. It took longer than it should have to get security to help her since there was no-one on our side at that point and she really wasn’t looking so good, so I hope she’s OK. The guy in the white shirt was looking a bit out of it towards the end, too.
Most beautiful non-band-related moment of the night – when the girl who came over from Japan to see the band, who was right in front of me by the end, and who was screaming for Toshiya the whole show, actually got to touch him…at the end she just burst into tears, and some people seemed to think she was hurt, but it was obvious that wasn’t it. She was happy. And when white shirt guy, who I don’t think she even knew before that day, gave her a hug and she was just breaking down because she got exactly what she wanted from the show…truly beautiful.
|Monday, February 12th, 2007|
|Should all of society really be made safe for children?
So, next week I’m going to see my favorite band. One the one hand this is a wonderful thing. I love live shows, I love Dir en grey. So what am I complaining about?
There are children going to these shows. I don’t mean 17-year-olds, I mean actual children. Whose brilliant idea was it to make this tour all-ages? Because my foot has a date with their ass.
Someone is planning to take a 10 year old to the Fillmore. The fucking Fillmore. To see a metal/industrial band. Are these people out of their minds?
First there’s the issue of physical safety. There are moshpits at metal shows. There is pushing, shoving, random crowd surging…hair gets pulled, feet get trodden on, ribs get crushed against barriers, elbows meet heads. Even for adults it’s a little dangerous. And people have been waiting to see this band in the USA for ten years. According to all reports so far, these shows are fucking nuts. Most of them are sold out. Does anyone sane really think this is a safe environment for a child? Some of these kids plan to camp out that night before, too. In the middle of major metropolitan areas. Yeah, that’s really smart. I’m sure the junkies and the dealers will be delighted to make their acquaintances.
Then there’s the obscenity issue. Now don’t get me wrong – I’m actually rather a fan of obscenity in general. I have no major issues with porn other than worrying about whether some of them people involved in it did not end up there willingly. I watch horror movies. I swear like a sailor. But…
Obscene material is intended for adults. It is not family friendly. It is not meant to be seen or heard by children. Not only that, but its continuing availability for those of us who are old enough to understand and appreciate it is dependent on its being kept far, far away from kids.
Right now we have a government that would just love to make our entire society safe for 5 year olds. Do any of us really want that, other than the religious wackos? OK then, we all have a shared interest in keeping the questionable stuff away from the kiddies if we want it to continue to be available at all.
Which brings me back to Dir en grey. This band is not suitable for kids. In face, I have a hard time thinking of any band less suitable for kids. Typical songs deal with child abuse, suicide, murder, war, corruption in government and the media, BSDM…and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. You don’t get much less family friendly than DEG, folks. Last year’s big single contained the immortal line “Some day I will fuck your parents”. During their opener the crowd chants “Kill! Kill! Kill!” along with the intro. And people want to take 10-year-olds to this show?
And then there are the videos. They’re playing the uncensored version of one during the show, apparently (for the song Obscure). Freaky-looking geisha in g-strings, bizarre mecha dildos, naked drummer in a bathtub full of blood, one guitarist pulling his bloody, still-beating heart out of his chest, the other guitarist stabbing himself through the throat with a samurai sword…fun for all the family, huh? Not to mention that the singer carves his chest up until he’s covered in blood and shimmies like a stripper. At the last show I kind of felt like I should tip him, given that he was essentially giving us a lap dance. His live performances make Iggy Pop look like The Telletubies.
So, I repeat...does anyone with any brains really think that kids should be allowed to attend that kind of show? Apparently Ticketmaster didn’t quite realize what they were getting into given that “this show is for mature audiences” warnings went up on the website after the first few shows. No shit, genius. A quick look at the band’s website could have made that pretty clear.
I still don’t understand why these shows weren’t made at least 16+ right from the beginning. I suspect that the motive was money, though – no age restrictions increases the number of people who can buy tickets, and the band have a lot of very young fans who came to them through seeing pictures of their early days on the internet, back when they were pretty boys in eyeliner and miniskirts. That was a long time ago, though, and they get darker and more disturbing with each album. I’m willing to bet that if most of the parents of those kids had any idea what they were in for they wouldn’t let their little precious anywhere near these shows.
And that’s another problem. Kids are turning up at these shows with their parents. Parents who then get all pissy because oh my god, there’s blood and violence and sexual content and bad language. If they had decent parenting skills they would have known that already.
Of course the fact that having scowling, disapproving parents getting in everyone’s way is a huge pain in the ass for any attendee old enough not to have a curfew is worth noting, but there’s a bigger problem. What happens when one of these parents gets upset that little precious wasn’t protected from all this nasty obscene behavior? What if they decide to sue? What will that mean for future tours? What if one of those kids actually gets hurt? The girl taking the ten year old was planning to take her into the pit. Which is nuts. Hell, I could very easily get hurt in the pit and I’m 33. What happens if that kid gets hurt? Who do you think the parents are going to blame?
Now, as I’ve already said, I’m very much fond of a lot of material that could very easily be described as dark, disturbing, and unsuitable for minors. That doesn’t mean that I think said material should be accessible to minors. It shouldn’t be. Every society maintains a barrier between children and adults, and a certain part of its culture that is forbidden to anyone under a certain age. That’s the only way to do it, really. That barrier is there for a reason, and it needs to be well guarded, because the alternative is a society scrubbed clean of all deviant art, of all deviant behavior, of anything that might upset a toddler. I don’t want to live in that kind of society, and I’m willing to bet that anyone who I have more than a passing acquaintance with doesn’t either.
So, as much as it vexes the kiddies to hear it, they don’t belong at concerts. Or at horror movies, or in clubs, or watching porn, or in any other space designed for adults. It’s not only for their own safety; it’s for the safety of everyone who doesn’t want to live in Moral Majority-land.
|Saturday, January 20th, 2007|
|Some thoughts about sex, music and what it might mean to be "queer"
I've been mulling this post over for a while, what I wanted to say, how to say it. I'm still not sure it's going to make any sense to anyone else, but what the hell, it's worth a shot.
I'm trying to find a way to describe where I fit on the spectrum of sexual orientation, and of gender identity, and it's not easy. On the surface, to anyone who doesn't know me very well, I look like a very normal person these days. Looks can be deceiving.
Let's start with orientation. I'm bisexual. I've known that since before I knew what the word meant. I'm not right in the middle of the Kinsey scale though, not exactly. When I was in my teens (and younger) I leaned more towards women, and now I seem to lean more towards men. I'm not quite sure why exactly, and I suspect it may be partly because right now I know very few women who could potentially interest me in a sexual way. For some off reason I seem to find myself surrounded by women who are very vanilla, very conventional, and that doesn't really work for me on a sexual level. Even the ones I find physically attractive I suspect I would find very boring in bed. Current Mood: contemplative
So that brings us to the men. The older I get the more I seem to be drawn to men on a very visceral level (keep that word visceral in mind, it will be coming up again later). The interesting thing is that the men I find most attractive aren't really particularly "masculine" in a lot of ways. This is nothing new, of course - I was a teenage goth, so it's not as if androgynous pretty boys are anything new. It is interesting, though - why do I have pretty much no sexual interest in the type of men mainstream Western culture says I'm supposed to find sexy? Athletes with big bulging muscles leave me cold. Overtly macho behaviour turns me off (it turns me off when it's women doing it too, but more about that later). What most people describe as "ruggedly handsome" I perceive as hideously ugly. In fact, it took me until my early twenties to realise that "rugged" wasn't a code word for "Chow Chow the Dog Faced Boy", to realise that other people meant it as a compliment.
I like men who are beautiful. Delicate pretty features, big sparkly eyes, soft skin...basically the men that I love look very much like the evo-psych model of what men are supposed to find attractive in women. Except that, without exception, they all also have something savage about them, something raw and visceral. If they don't then I don't find them sexy, no matter how pretty they are.
I think it's a contrast thing. I like men who are like me. I like men who are adept at operating in polite society, who have perfect manners and strong social skills and a sense of style - but who underneath it all are completely in touch with their dark side. I like them because they are my own reflection.
I've never bought the idea that opposites attract. My opposite would be someone ultra-conventional, someone who believed that the traditional way to do things is usually the right one, someone who thinks that the way things are now is just fine. Either that or it would be someone soft and New Age-ey, a lover of Deepak Chopra and angel iconography. I have both kinds of people, and I don't like them. These people and I do not attract, we repel.
So, beautiful men. Pretty boys. Bishonen. That's what works for me. I married one, after all. It occurs to me that many of the men I find sexy would be assumed to be gay by most people. A former boyfriend of mine always was, although in fact he was bi.
And there's another thing. These pretty boys I love? I also love to see them playing with each other. It amuses me that people always assume that if within a couple one person is bi it must be the women, and if they bring in a third party that will also be another woman. That hasn't been the case for me. I used to encourage my ex to hit on guys in clubs just so I could watch him kiss them. Sometimes we used to sneak off into dark corners and both kiss them together. Sometimes we used to do the same thing in public, locked in a tangle of sweat and heat and lust, revelling in the fact that all eyes were on us. Sometimes we used to take them home with us. Sometimes I used to watch my darling boy fuck those other boys. He never let them fuck him, though, because the only person allowed to fuck him was me.
There's the other part. I used to be very much into BSDM. I seem to have drifted away from the scene over the years, mostly because I got bored. I'm not much for rituals, really - generally I live my life in a pretty random way, and after a while I felt like a hamster on a wheel doing the same things over and over again.
That's not the only reason, though, although I didn't realise it at the time. The deeper reason is that I didn't feel like there was a place for me there. What do you call a person who's dominant, who's rough and aggressive and loves skinny boys at least in part because she can throw them around in bed, but who isn't attracted to submissives? Who is in fact rather turned off by people who are submissive in day to day life, but who has a personality that for some reason seems to attract men who want to be dominated?
What I seem to want most is things that feel visceral. Visceral sex, visceral music. Those seem to be the parts of my life where I feel free to let this part of my personality out to play. I'm constantly drawn towards and fascinated with other people who seem to work the same way.
So we're back to the beginning again. I like men who are like me. Soft and pretty and civilised on the surface and all sharp teeth and claws underneath. I like women who are like me, too, although there seem to be less of them out there. Not surprising, since the main aim of patriarchy seems to be to make damn sure that women's teeth and claws are permanently removed.
What do you call someone like me?
I'm kind of drawn to the term genderfuck. That sounds right to me, somehow. I look very gender-congruent on the surface, but my personality is anything but. I like men who can often be mistaken for women, at least facially. I don't like butch women, though, which is odd, at least not in a sexual way.
So, once again, where do I fit into the big confusing mess that is gender theory, or queer theory?
That's not a rhetorical question by the way, I really am asking. Because all the recent talk about trans people and differing schools of feminist thought has got me thinking. I've been thinking for years, really, and I still don't know how to define myself. I'd be curious to hear what other people think. Maybe someone more steeped in queer theory than me has a better vocabulary. Maybe there are even other people like we out there.
Side note - the song I'm listening too is AWESOME, and fits my mood perfectly. Hell, it fits my personality perfectly. Download it here.
password = hydra
|Friday, January 19th, 2007|
|Random question for cat people
Why is my cat sleeping in his food? By which I mean, he is sleeping with his body curled up next to his food bowl and his head actually resting in the bowl is if his food was a pillow (I have tried to take a picture of this but he always somehow knows what I'm up to and runs off before I can get a clear shot). For anyone who's thinking "ew" I will point out that he gets dry food, so it's not as bad as it could be but still...why? He's been doing this for a few weeks now and I don't get it. Does anyone else's cat do this?
|Why does Blogger hate me? And some stuff about MRAs
For some reason I can't get into my Blogger account, which is anoying because someone left a really asinine "you're being so mean to the MRA acting like they don't have any valid points" comment and I want to reply to it.
So I'll do it here instead. MRAs do not have any legitimate complaints. None. Zero. The whole "divorce is so unfair because men don't get custody" thing? Dude, please...the job of the judge in a custody case is to put the child/children in whatever situation will be best FOR THE CHILD. They don't care about the feelings of the father. They don't care about the feelings of the mother, either. That's not what they're there for. The only person whose welfare they're worried about is the child, and that's exactly the way it should be.
And all the "American women are so mean" crap, give me a break. Just because some woman spurned you at some point in your history that doesn't mean that all women are evil bitches. We've all had crappy relationships that ended badly. Get over it. You are not entitled to an unpaid domestic servant just because you have a dick. So sure, go get youself a mail order bride if you think that will make you happy, but just remember that the moment she enters the USA American laws apply to her too, and she just might take a look around and realise that she doesn't have to take your shit forever.
And another thing...I've actually lived on every continent except Antarctica and Australia, and women in other parts of the world are just like women here. Some are great, some are not so great, they all have actual individual personalities of their own. They're not the Borg in an apron. Assuming that they're all just dying to be your devoted little woman is a very foolish thing to do.
And before you even start on the draft...we currently do not have a draft. I don't think we're going to any time soon, because even Chimpy Mc Flight Suit isn't that enthusiastic about committing political suicide. If we did have a draft I would have no particular philosopshical objection to it including women (Israel's been doing it that way for years), BUT I think the draft is wrong, period. Remind me why we're talking about this even though it doesn't actually exist again?
So, yeah, not a fan of the MRAs. Being angry and bitter because you went through a rough divorce is not a great basis for a political movement.
And no, feminist aren't criticising MRAs because we don't like men. We just don't like you, because we're generally not big fans of either sexism or stupidity.
|Some thoughts about the recent outbreak of intercine feminist warfare
I've been politely holding my tongue for a while in an attempt to be a good little team player, but you know what? That's not me. And I'm pissed off.
There seems to have been a strange outbreak of "I am the one true guardian of feminism and I'm here to tell you the rules" and you know what my response is? Bite me. And I don't mean that in a "fun" way.
The next person who uses the sneering grade-school insult "fun feminist' gets a frying pan to the head. I'm not kidding. When did it become OK to look down on other women because of a bunch of totally trivial crap? Does anyone seriously believe that the point of feminism is to be the conformity police? Because that's not what I signed up for, this is my movement too, and I'm not giving it up without a fight.
Here's the thing. I like men. Not all men - some of them are fucking assholes and the world would be better off without them. If every MRA in the world was struck by lightening tomorrow my only concern would be that it might make a mess and guess who would get stuck cleaning it up? Some men are evil, dangerous bastards. But not ALL men.
Let's all try to remember the words "patriarchy is not men". It really isn't. It's a social system.
Some men are perfectly decent human beings. They do not have male cooties. Everything associated with them is not tainted by association.
Here are a list of terms that I would be very happy never to hear again..."Fun feminist", male identified, pornstitution, "sex postive" delivered in a tone so sneering it is clearly intended as an insult. I could really do without hearing other women being told that their life experiences are invalid too. If a woman says that she likes BSDM or porn or sucking dick or whatever else it is that you don't approve of you know what? Maybe she actually DOES like those things. And maybe that's OK.
And all the "penises are so icky" stuff - give me a break. We're not 12. If you don't like dicks, or men's bodies in general, that's fine, but in no way does it mean that there's anything wrong or un-feminist about women who do like those things. If you're really a feminist then give other women enough respect to assume that they are not morons and they actually do know what they do and do not enjoy.
Now me personally, I tend to view dicks as interesting toys that nature provided entirely for my personal amusement, so that I would have something fun to play with. This is not because I am a brainwashed sexbot, this is because I'm attracted to men. Look at my icon - I love love love men's bodies, and there is nothing wrong with that. I'm attracted to women too and view breasts much the same way, even my own. I like sex. If that's a problem for anyone, too bad.
Feminism is a political movement, not a cult. 100% dedication to the movement to the exclusion of all other interests is not and should not be required. All of our identities are complex and multi-layered, and that's a good thing.
So I guess this is my coming out post. I'm a feminist. I'm also a socialist. Both are equally important to me. Fighting racism is also important to me. I'm obsessed with books, music and movies. Sometimes I'm very femmey and sometimes I'm a complete tomboy. I love ice hockey. Unless you're an Olympic athlete I guarantee I can swim faster than you can. I'm kinky as hell. I love boys who kind of look like girls. I love them even more if their bodies are unmistakeably male. I'm bolshy and aggressive and I like to argue. I'm complicated, and most other people are too. I am not a fan of those who try to push others into boxes. I resent it when the pushing is done to women by those who claim to be acting in their best interests. If feminism means anything it means treating other women with respect. Referring to other women as sexbots or snottily implying that they are only saying what they are saying to suck up to the boyz is not respectful. We get enough of that crap from the other side of the political fence.
|Wednesday, January 17th, 2007|
|An exercise that we would all benefit from doing
I wanted to post my own little riff on the "Things I Love About Myself" post that went up over at Feministe a few days ago. This is an amazing exercise, not least because so many women find it so hard to do.
I don't find it hard at all. I worry about saying that, because women aren't supposed to like themselves and it often seems to be assumed that misery and low self-esteem are the natural hallmarks of the female experience. Don't get me wrong - there are plenty of things about myself I don't like. I'm way too lazy, for a start, and a little more motivation and better follow-through skills would be nice. That doesn't mean there aren't tons of things I do love about myself, though, and I thought I'd make my own little list here. Anyone who ends up at this post, I want you to list at least 5 things you love about yourself (open to guys too, BTW).
Things I really love about myself.
1. I’m very, very smart. I have a far-above-average IQ and I’ve never felt any need to conceal that fact just because I’m a woman and society wants me to play dumb.
2.I’m a kind person. I go out of my way to let the people around me know how much I care about them and how special they are to me.
3. I have gorgeous breasts. They’re big but not disproportionately so, they’re beautiful, and they’re all natural. Thanks Mom!
4.I love my feet, especially the fact that they have really high arches. Not only are they adorable, but they are very well made for walking and I can walk for miles and miles without them getting sore. I also love my tiny, pudgy little toes.
5.I write well and usually have no difficulty expressing exactly what I want to say.
6.I have great relationships with men and am really good at forming relationships that function on an almost sister/brother level. If more people were able to do that I think we’d all be better off.
7.I love my face. Yes, I know that makes me sound conceited, but I don’t care. I particularly love my rosebud mouth and my pointy little chin. By some standards my nose would be considered too big, but I love it because it looks just like my mother’s nose and every time I look in the mirror I am reminded of her.
8.Children instinctively trust me. Kids I don’t know that I meet at parties etc walk right up to me and ask to be picked up and cuddled. This makes me happy, even though I don’t want any of my own, because I think that kids can never get too much affection. We should all cuddle kids more often.
9.Animals also trust me. They’re pretty good judges of character, generally.
10.One of my best friends in high school once told me that I had “a gift for friendship” and that when she was 15 I saved her life. That makes me prouder than anything else anyone has ever said to me.
11.I'm wicked funny in real life. I make people laugh out loud all the time.
12.My legs look amazing in a skirt.
13.I have embraced my inner geek. There are things that I love that other people think are totally dorky and I really don't care.
14. Most people find it almost impossible to guess my ethnicity. I love the fact that that makes me really hard to pigeonhole.
15. I have no notable sexual hangups and I’m damn good in bed
16. I have never, ever had sex just to make someone else happy
17. I read voraciously
18. I have never met another person with eyes that look like mine. They're light brown with an unusual dark greyish ring around the outside, and they change shade depending on my mood.
19. When I love something (music, movies, books) I try share it with other people, My enthusiasm for the things I love is boundless and frequently infectious.
20. I love the fact that I've always known exactly what I find sexy in other people and have never had any hesitation about going after it, even though my tastes aren't really supported by the culture I live in. I love the fact that years of brainwashing about "you must like men who are XYZ” has had no impact on my actual preferences whatsoever - I like what I like and if anyone else has a problem with that, too bad.
21. I have perfectly shaped eyebrows.
22. I love the little birthmark on the top of my left foot. It looks like the blaze that some horses have on their foreheads.
23.I can swim faster than most people can run. I'm not kidding.
24. I have an hourglass figure.
24. Every single time I get off the phone with my Dad I still tell him I love him, even if we're mad at each other.
25. I have never intentionally hurt anyone I cared about.
26. I say what I mean and I mean what I say. I don’t use words to manipulate people.
27. If I love someone I will defend them like a lioness defends her cubs.
28. I don’t feel competitive towards other women when it comes to looks or relationships. I love the fact that I can appreciate the beauty of other women without feeling threatened by it.
|Saturday, January 13th, 2007|
|A question from one feminist to some of her fellow travelers – What the fuck is wrong with you?
A question from one feminist to some of her fellow travelers – What the fuck is wrong with you?
I am of course referring to the two recent hate-fests that broke out over at I Blame The Patriarchy. Before I get too far into this, let me make myself clear – I do not hold Twisty responsible for what other people choose to post in her comments. She has a life to live offline and she can’t monitor comments 24/7. What I’m upset about is the hateful nonsense being spewed by some of her commenters.
I really never thought that I would see the day when a feminist would say that they thought ANYONE being raped would be a good thing. Take a look at this comment.
“I can only hope that being raped gives even the most insensitive man some small distaste for raping himself. Once raped, the fantasy is over. Once raped, a man can for the first time know that sex can happen without human dignity, and that losing that dignity is the opposite of arousal.
But a man never deserves pity for being raped. After all, it’s not like he had sex. Unless he’s a gay man, it was just a little lesson in what it’s like to be treated like an object.”
I repeat, what the fuck is wrong with the person who wrote that, and all the other who chimed in with similar sentiments? So now rape is OK as long as the victims are men? Rape is a teaching tool? Have you all lost your minds?
For the record I don’t think that a man being raped is in some indefinable way worse than a woman being raped. ANYONE being raped is a tragedy. Feminists of all people should know that. The idea that people who claim membership in the same movement I do could joke about how funny it would be if men were raped more often and how it might teach them something makes me so angry I want to beat the crap out of them. My ex boyfriend was raped. Want me to tell you all about how funny that was? Care to hear about how he cried like a baby on my shoulder when he told me, how guilty he felt, all the ways in which he rationalized how it must have somehow been his fault, how he didn’t want anyone to touch him afterwards because he felt dirty? Still think it’s somehow less of a big deal when it happens to a man, or that it’s all a big joke?
Then there was the “let’s all pick on the trannies” hate-fest. Take a look at this.
“This is about what all this nonsense amounts to. In short, trans are nutjobs. The bathroom is about the last place I want to be alone with a male nutjob. These unfortunate, but seriously disturbed individuals belong on the 5th floor in a straight jacket. Not in a women’s bathroom.”
Again, what the fuck is wrong with you people? With all the real, genuine enemies that feminism has to face, actual enemies who could do us actual harm, you people think that we should be worried about whether the person in the next bathroom stall used to have a dick? Seriously? You don’t think that there might be a few more pressing issues to deal with?
It’s hard to think of any group more generally stigmatized and picked on than trans people. What does it say about a movement and the people in it when they choose to pick on the weak, on the very people who are the most vulnerable? How do you think any trans people who stumbled onto that thread must have felt? Look, I’m not claiming to be any kind of authority on the trans experience. I know very little about the whole issue, and I know that it’s my heteronormative privilege as a woman who has always been completely comfortable in my own skin that allows me to go on not knowing much. What I do know, though, is that there is absolutely no good reason for hate speech no matter how ignorant a person may be about a particular issue. If you don’t know anything, shut up. That’s a pretty good rule. Let the people who actually do know something talk, and then listen to them and try to learn from their experience. Wasn’t that one of the founding principles of feminism? Listening to others and learning from what they had to say? When did some of us forget that, and what is it going to take for us to remember?
I’m seriously disgusted with a lot of you right now. If nothing else couldn’t everyone at least demonstrate a little empathy, a little basic human compassion? Is that really too much to ask?
Current Mood: pissed off