March 30, 2006

For Your Consideration

Over at the new-to-me weblog Objectivist v. Constructivist is a debate regarding the status of women in the U.S. WARNING: Know, feminists, that by even reading such a debate, it proves you don't care a fig about Muslim women! Because the debate concerns women in the U.S., see, and you can only care about one or the other. That's either a law, or an all-too-predictable result of your unfortunate insistence on dabbling in the hypocritical feminist arts, I forget which.

All right, enough sarcasm. If you're like me you may be tempted to read the debate backwards, as the first sentence from the Objectivist party, Stephen Kershnar, is:

Sadly, radical feminism is alive and well.

I have two knee-jerk reactions to that:

(1) "Sadly?" What is this "sadly?" I'm throwin' a fuckin' party!


(2) "Alive? Well? They told me it was dead!"

But you know knee-jerk reactions are a bad way to go, so eventually I will read the rest of it in a more calm and rational state of mind. This will be accomplished through the power of vodka.

Full disclosure: I was alerted to this debate by a gracious email from the Constructivist participant, Bruce Simon. So it could fairly be said that I am biased against the Objectivist, but only if we ignore that I was bound to be biased against anything that begins with "Sadly, radical feminism is alive and well" in the first place. I don't think that should count against me too much, if you want to know the truth.

Mr. Simon requests participation! So don't be shy about commenting. Weigh in!

P.S. I don't know whether it's actually correct to capitalize Objectivist or Constructivist; I do so here to prevent any angry Objectivists from exhuming Ayn Rand and beating me with her corpse while screaming at me that A is A. (She is buried, right? She didn't get cremated? Crikey, don't make me look that up.)

P.P.S. Corrected the blog title above--Objectivist v. Constructivist, not Objectivist v. Constructionist. I have got to stop thinking I can knock out posts in 5 minutes. I cannot, and it shows.

P.P.P.S. Also I closed comments 'cause I'm mean like that because I didn't mean to include them on this post to begin with. If this keeps up my apologies and clarifications are gonna be longer than the post itself.

Posted by Ilyka at 02:07 PM | Comments (4)

March 28, 2006

Rebuttals, Etc., Solicited

Big ups to Darleen Click for sharing her thoughts on the whole strawfeminist extravaganza, and on feminism in general, which you can read right here. An excerpt:

My followup questions for her, or anyone, deal with both the "strawAntifeminist" and identification of the different "wings" of Feminism. For each time I get roundly flamed as a "manhater" from some MRA who goes through the whole Family Court is a Feminist Driven Conspiracy to Destroy Families and Hurt Fathers schtick, I also get flamed as a "womanhater" by feminists who don't like my asking pointed questions about 3rd trimester abortions.

I understand, too, that labeling different wings of feminist theory as either "gender" or "equity" feminism ALSO gets people hot and bothered.

But how do we... woman who actually do believe in our worth as human beings and our right to the same freedoms and opportunity as our brothers to choose what path we wish and to travel it as far as our talent will take us, differentiate among the pointedly different strains of Feminism? Equity/gender? First, Second, Third wave? Leftwing Feminism? Rightwing Feminism? Anarcho-Feminism?

A good question--one I wish I had a better answer for than "Beats me," but then, I'm not good at labeling things, which is why I'm writing on a blog named after a stupid BBS handle I picked out over a dozen years ago.

But Darleen's post brings up a point I've been wanting to make, particularly to my right-leaning readers, and that is: For crying out loud, don't muzzle yourselves. If conservative stereotyping itches you the way the strawfeminist itches me, do like Susan B. of Lilac Rose did and write about it. If you've got anything else on your mind, especially as it pertains to this week, WRITE ABOUT IT.

And then drop me a link. Yeah, yeah, I know, it's a real hassle that I turned off trackbacks, but it prevents the spam, for one, and for two, it prevents me resenting that I'm giving traffic to some douche who just disses on me for six paragraphs; I mean, why should I host links like that? "Here, everybody, go read what an asshole I am." Good gravy, if you want to read what an asshole I am just wait until the next time I screw something up here. It's a daily occurrence. Anyway, not having trackbacks means the next time some dude writes a post telling me to quit being hysterical, and bragging about what an airhead he's going to marry because he for one appreciates REAL ladies, I never have to know about it. Ignorance: It is, indeed, the bliss.

That does not mean I want to silence anyone, however. Or rather, I do, but only if you're a prick. If you're not a prick, feel free to drop any links in the comments or in an email to me, and I'll put 'em up here.

UPDATE: So of course, right off the bat, I forgot one: Francis of Geek Empire details a conversation with his girlfriend about women's studies:

She told me that, in college, she took a Women's History course. The first day covered that basic theory I have quoted above. The rest of the semester was pretty much about how men are evil, always have been evil and always will be evil. It was then she decided she didn't really want to be a feminist, or at least to go under that label. She's no wilting flower, she was raised by a very strong woman and is making a professional life for herself, but she didn't want to be a part of the nuttiness extolled by her professor. So there's that, whatever it's worth.

I have to say, this isn't the first time I've heard something of that sort on this subject. On the other hand, I've never actually taken a class in women's studies myself, so I'm loathe to pronounce judgment. One noticeable effect of my not having taken such a class is that I find myself having to play catch-up a lot and I feel very behind the curve on feminist history, and that, I don't mind telling you, sucks.

Anyway, I'd be interested to hear any other women's studies stories out there from people who have taken courses in it.

Francis also writes "Who's the Feminist," in which he links a defense of the idea that "all sex is rape" formulated by the Maoist International Movement, just to make me look bad. You're a real pain in the ass sometimes, Francis, you know that? Dragging in the no-good Maoists, oh, bueno. Well done! But okay: I guess some people, the Maoists at least, think there's something to be said for the idea that all sex is rape. The lesson I think we can all take from this is that one should never engage in sexual intercourse with a Maoist.

More updates as the links come in.

UPDATE: More from Susan. I don't agree with it all--if you "don't go where [you're] not wanted," that's not other people kicking you out, that's you removing yourself--but I am with her on the "godbag" business. I realize most people who use the term mean it to indicate a specific, theocratically-inclined type of religious person, but for myself, as someone who does not see her religion as something to club others over the head with . . . "godbag" still makes me wince. I wish people would find another way to express what they're trying to say, another way besides "godbag." I also wish for a pony!

Posted by Ilyka at 05:11 PM | Comments (8)

March 26, 2006

Past Imperfect

I really wanted to wrap this up tidily with some attempt at explanation on my part, some "What Feminism Means to Me" or "Why Feminism?" (but not "Whither Feminism?" because even I'm not that pompous) or "How I Became a Feminist"-type essay, but so far I'm doing a really lousy job of it. And maybe I'm even predestined to do a lousy job of it, because whatever I point to or include means something else gets overlooked and left out.

I could write about my experiences growing up and becoming aware of feminism, and someone else could point out, correctly, that that's just feminism from the white middle-class perspective, and haven't we had enough of that already, and bleah, who cares?

I could write about my experiences that grew out of maintaining this weblog, and someone else could point out, correctly, that that's just applicable to people who read weblogs, who are a very small, if growing, subset of the populace, and how does that relate to the big wide world anyway?

I could write a post highlighting the many excellent attempts to define feminism that were generously offered here. In fact, I am certain I could get weeks worth of posts out of just those comments--from Kevin's view that feminism is a part of the larger fight against oppression, to Liza's amazing series of posts on everything from Rosa Parks to the Nanny Diaries, to Bitch Ph.D.'s "Feminisms," to Amanda making me kick myself, hard, for passing up The Second Sex in the local bookstore last weekend--there is just so much stuff there, good stuff, great stuff.

I'm especially indebted to all the commenters who expressed their own hesitancy about whether they were "doing it right" in offering their own definitions of feminism, because I have that same hesitancy myself, and even as I experience it I wonder why we worry about it at all; how do you do feminism "wrong?"

I could be here for a very long time with all this material, is my point, and come to think of it, maybe I will be. School will resume for me next week and cut into my time again, and posts that celebrate the people who worked their thoughts out so elegantly that they spared me from having to reinvent the wheel will be most welcome.

Which gets me to the main thing I personally take from feminism: For me, it's a form of social calculus. It simplifies things in the way that learning integral calculus simplifies problems that would otherwise be murder to solve if attacked only with algebra and geometry. I don't mean it makes everything simple--it certainly doesn't do that, if this thread is any indication--and I don't mean it makes my approach to life simplistic. I mean that, to quote from Barbara Findlen's introduction to Listen Up:

Feminism is what helps us make sense of the unfairness by affirming that it's about political injustice, not personal failure. The feminist movement offers us the combined strength and wisdom of people from all walks of life who are fighting for meaningful equality.

Feminism gets monkeys off my back that should never have been there in the first place. Feminism helps me own my problems without adding the burden of society's expectations to them. I don't find it a celebration of victimhood or a glorification of oppressed status at all, and I'm always amazed when someone else does, because I find it ultimately affirming.

Feminism says, "You don't have to wonder why some women embrace their own subjugation--someone already worked that out for you." Feminism says, "You don't have to wonder if it's just you or if the culture really is sliding back into a celebration of misogyny--someone already documented the dozens of times and the thousands of ways in which the culture has done just that." Feminism says, "You aren't the only woman who remembers the years before puberty as a time when you were just yourself, just another person, a human being, instead of the Other, a deviation from the norm, which is men."

Feminism says, if I'm playing some stupid computer game that rewards me for killing prostitutes, pimping a female friend as gang-bang fodder for "a bunch of drunken Scottish bisexuals," and running a porn studio, that means the game was coded by misogynist dweebs, not that I "lack a sense of humor."

Feminism says, if Babycenter's "Twenty Things That Change When You Have a Baby" includes these gems:

18. If you have a son, you no longer curse men. (Hooray for all men!)
19. If you have a daughter, you hope she won't endure your same heartaches.

--then that's evidence--sad, sorry, sickening evidence--that our society continues to have the lowest possible expectations for women even as it just can't cheer often or loudly enough (hooray!) for men.

Feminism helps me make sense of the insensible. You can think of it as not being paranoid if they really are out to get you.

It's my sense that they really are out to get me. It's my sense that life is better lived knowing the score, knowing what I'm up against, not so I can batten down the hatches, stock the ammunition, and never leave the house again, but so that I don't reel in confusion and shock when the system smacks me upside the head, kicks me in the gut, and then tells me to quit complaining, because I have it so good, really, and besides, what about [men/Muslim women/the unborn/families/God/country]?

Feminism says, "Yeah, hands up who didn't see that one coming? The question now is, what are you going to do about it?"

And feminism is the process through which I work out, daily, what I'm going to do about it. And then I try to do it.

Thank you for helping me this past week to do it. Thank you for being patient when I didn't do it perfectly or even well. Thank you for suggesting so many ways in which I could do it better.

Thank you to all the bloggers who supported this:

Meryl Yourish



Plum Crazy

Alas, A Blog

Pinko Feminist Hellcat

Bitch Ph.D.

Rox Populi

Body Impolitic

Persephone's Box


Impetus Java House

Holler if I've left anybody out--because that, I think, would be coming very close to actually "doing feminism wrong." The accomplishments of feminists get overlooked often enough as it is without me exacerbating the problem.

Thanks, everybody.

Posted by Ilyka at 03:20 PM | Comments (12)

Where the Intro Went

I got sick--oh, so sick--of clicking the shortcut I have to my own blog (because of course I am that vain, oh, you betcha), only to get stuck at the introductory strawfeminist screens. You can see how a week of that could become irritating quickly, right? But some folks are still telling people to go to for the introduction pages, and now I've gone and pointed that link right here instead. So if what you were wanting was the bad-drawing-laden intro, that's now at

I suppose I could get all freaky with the redirects or something, but that would be work I am disinclined to do at present. And the hot toddy I'm sipping right now has nothing to do with that disinclination. Nothing at all!

Apologies to anyone who's been inconvenienced. They're not gone, just moved.

Posted by Ilyka at 02:19 AM

March 24, 2006

Make of This What You Will

Okay: I would have to carefully double-check all the comments I've received this week to be absolutely sure, but so far I'm 99% sure that every commenter who has brought up the National Organization for Women has been politically right-of-center.

I have to say, it's kind of making me want to join up! You know, just to fuck with people?

Don't tempt my imp of the perverse like that, righties. That isn't nice.

Posted by Ilyka at 05:10 PM | Comments (6)

Fatherhood, Ain't it a Bitch?

Guest Post by Ilyka's boyfriend

[Ilyka says: I had to let him do this because he wouldn't shut up about it. I do believe the man is starting to identify as a pro-feminist male. Note: Please save any "pussy-whipped" jokes for someone who gives a fuck.

My boyfriend's post may have nothing to do with strawfeminist arguments--he never could stay on topic--but it certainly does say a whole bunch about the priorities of our ostensibly family-values-havin' culture that a major sports pundit would . . . oh, just read the post.]


I was driving earlier today listening to the Dan Patrick show on the radio when Dan told this heartwarming story about how he had to watch his daughter perform in Beauty and the Beast. Dan was pretty upset about having to miss some of the Sweet Sixteen, but his assistant was text messaging him the scores during the show. Dan was pretty upset about Duke losing, and the show, well, that was pretty nice, too. Ah, Fatherhood.

I don't know how much this has to do with patriarchy, but I never thought I would hear a grown man complaining about missing a basketball game to see his own daughter perform in a play. I mean, when Homer misses one of Lisa's recitals, he usually at least feels bad about it.

Dan Patrick taking in his daughter's performance

I think in general men have improved on parenting; I doubt my father ever changed a diaper in his life, and he sired seven children. On the other hand, I have noticed a growing number of men who aren't much more mature than their offspring. Guys, can we get some balance between the two?

Posted by Ilyka at 02:00 PM | Comments (2)

In Which I Deviate from the Schedule

It turns out that I have made one lulu of a boo-boo: I have neglected to return paperwork relating to my new job. Uh, I have neglected to return my new hire paperwork, actually, with things like the I-9 and the W-2 withholding and, ah, anything else that might indicate I am employed.

This is bad, as they will not pay me without these items. I sort of knew I hadn't returned this stuff, as I sort of knew I hadn't ever finished filling it out, because I am disorganized and a procrastinator, yes, but also because I really hate paperwork.

Anyway, having screwed that all up to hell I am now off to fix it by hastily filling out the rest of the damn forms and faxing them off from somewhere, Kinko's or OfficeMax or something. I will then report for duty at this job that I may or may not legally have. And blogging against the strawfeminist will resume in earnest mañana, when office workers are no longer available to read it, but that's how it goes sometimes.

In the meantime I would recommend the comments here to anyone who is still wondering what feminism is or to anyone who'd still like to add his or her thoughts on the matter. They are STELLAR, these comments, and I will excerpt bits of them all for a post before this week is through (the week can end on Saturday if I say it does, damnit).

Posted by Ilyka at 12:47 PM | Comments (0)

March 23, 2006

Help Me Out: What About Actual Feminists?

Sigivald, a commenter who's been active here since I don't even know when, has a question for any non-straw-based feminist lifeforms in the house:

This is only tangentially related to this post, and I've been thinking about it all week without posting. Here goes.

The one thing I've noticed missing from this entire series of (interesting and thoughtful) posts is... a definition of what feminism is.

Pointing out straw feminists (and straw definitions of feminism) is good and proper, but I'm left wondering exactly what we (you) mean when you speak of feminism that is not straw-feminism.

(This is probably a function of my philosophical training and logic background; my position is that it's generally useless to debate something, especially an -ism, unless we're very clear up-front as to what it is we mean by the term.)

Since, as you've noted, feminism is the subject of so many varying and contradictory usages, maybe the best thing we could to to prevent straw-feminism is to define what the heck feminism Really Is?

This is where you come in, especially if you've been getting to this site from one of the feminist blogs that have linked me, because to be honest, I was going to get into What Feminism Actually Means to Me (even though I know it's a little fourth-grade composition-sounding) on Friday, kind of as the cap-off, but I don't have the time, unfortunately, to do it now.

Sigivald! Stay with the group! Damnit, I draw badly-proportioned cartoons in MS Paint to give you a chuckle, and this is how you thank me?


I guess it also bears repeating that I'm no expert. I'm just a woman who read Backlash a dozen years ago and got all kinds of messed-up ideas from it. I feel quite safe in assuming that most of the people reading this have better ideas and more knowledge than I do, and it's also likely you're able to articulate them better than I am.

So give it your best shot: Click the comments link here and tell Sigivald what you think feminism is, so I can get outta this chair and hit the store before starting work for the night. They had the red bell peppers I so crave at 10 for $10.00 last time I was in, and I'm really hoping they're still there.

Posted by Ilyka at 03:21 PM | Comments (35)

The Castrating Strawfeminist

bad choice of pants today, jimmy
Even the sun is shocked. And no, I do not know how she can hold the knife.

If this epidemic of angry, misandric women roaming the streets with surgical scissors, severing the genitalia of any men they encounter along the way, doesn't stop soon, I don't know what we're going to do. I don't know what their problems are. Can't they just accept that men and women are different? Why do they have to be so hell-bent on making us all the same? Don't they realize how bad that would be, if we were all the same? I guess they're so blinded by man-hatred and penis-envy that they just--

--you know, I can't continue this. "Why do you hate men?" comes up so regularly that even broaching "Why do you hate men?" satirically wears me right out.

Of course, the question is not always put that directly. It has other guises. Whether it's asking why feminists hate men, or asking whether feminists are aware that men and women are different (answer: your average toddler has already figured this out, so whaddya think?), or reminding feminists that assholes are equally prevalent among both sexes (both! Not just men! Quit picking on men!), or simply charging feminists with emasculation when they do that mean thing that they do, you know, that mean thing with the disagreement and the opinion-having and worst of all, the opinion-expressing?--whether it's (a), (b), (c), or (d) all of the above, the question being asked is always, "Can I beat you with this castrating strawfeminist for a few minutes, rather than addressing what you actually said?"

And, no. No, you may not. She itches.

The problem with the castrating strawfeminist, at least for me personally, is that I am always so tempted to engage her. "NO!" I find myself wanting to say, "No, I do not hate men! Ask my male relatives who are so dear to me! Ask my boyfriend! Hey, I was engaged once, did you know that? I am not a bitter, lonely old maid seeking revenge on the penis-bearing people of the world. It's not true that I hate men! I have had lots of heterosexual intercourse! But not too much! Just the right amount. I--"

But, see, I can't do that, because if I respond defensively to the castrating strawfeminist, I have permitted whoever's been beating me with her to turn the debate from whatever it WAS about, into a debate on whether or not I hate men, which is just a hop-skip-and-jump away from being a debate on whether or not I have stopped beating my boyfriend.

I can't prove to anybody that I don't hate men, and frankly, I resent that anyone would think I should have to. As tempting as it is for me to respond, "Listen, I don't want your testicles! You can keep them! They're yours!", I can't do it, because it's a dead end, a fool's game. We are only going to wind up with me citing "evidence" that I don't want to chop anyone's balls off while my opponent digs in his heels (or her heels, because I get the castrating strawfeminist from women just as often) with objections like, "Well, that's what you say, but it sure feels like you want to emasculate me (emasculate my sons/brothers/husband)." Finally, having worn me out with a few rounds of this, my opponent will kindly suggest that perhaps my working to improve my relationships with the men in my life (by being "nicer") might fix this obsessive/compulsive problem I clearly have with needing to perform orchiectomies.

Most, if not all, of the rationale for the castrating strawfeminist's continued popularity is due to the misconception that there's some great equality pie out there, and if women have too many slices of it, there will be nothing left for men. It's a point I've made before in various comment threads, but Lauren reminded me of it again in her response to TallDave in this post (see comments). There are specific situations which are going to be zero-sum; for example, if there's a promotion available in a company and a woman is awarded it (or rather a woman earns it, one hopes), then yes, the men in competition with her will have lost a potential gain to a woman. On the other hand, if a woman starts her own business she not only doesn't take anything away from men--and it's interesting that even in the situation with the promotion, we so often view a woman receiving one as "taking away" something from men; was it theirs to begin with, theirs by default?--but she may well give things to men. Jobs, for instance. Contracts. Benefits. Women do not advance solely at the expense of men.

There is no equality pie. It's funny how often a fiscal conservative will readily agree that there's no wealth pie, but turn the subject to civil rights and suddenly he's grousing about all the "special interest groups" who want "special treatment"--i.e., more slices o'rights than they deserve.

You see a lot of this with the recent "men's right to choose" nonsense, in which the argument seems to be that it is discriminatory against men to treat them as creatures incapable of pregnancy (which, last I checked, they are), and that cruel nature has deprived them of the right to choose--or, more accurately, that nature has deprived them of having exactly as many ways to choose as women do. That mean old bitch nature has also deprived them of the risks of pregnancy, but no matter; the point is, it isn't fair! Quit hogging the damn pie!

If we could quit treating autonomy like something to be grudgingly parceled out by the powers that be (which do tend to be men, have you noticed?) to women, we could put the sharp instruments away entirely. No more pie-partitioning, no more castration.

Well, maybe a lit-


Posted by Ilyka at 12:19 PM | Comments (12)

March 22, 2006

/bans self

I interrupt blogging against the strawfeminist to note, first, that I totally stole that title from Michele, formerly of A Small Victory, who used it in a comments thread that I am in too much of a hurry to look up; second, to issue a public apology to a couple of people I've hated on in my own comments, because I'm a rotten person with a hair-trigger temper. (Also, I did not have enough coffee today.)

However, that is no excuse. Margi, Andrea: I am truly sorry. I've been too defensive, too irritable, and too hasty, and I hope you will forgive me.

That said, I'd like to request something of my right-leaning commenters. A couple things, only, I promise, and they're not hard:

(1) Please try to stick to the points made in the posts or, at least, the points made by those responding to the posts. I don't often plead for people to stay on topic, but I am doing it now. If that is too difficult, host your own Blog Against the Clinton Sex Scandal Week. I might even link it.

(2) Please try to interpret charitably any remarks made by new commenters. A woman today mentioned her reluctance to bring up a daughter in today's sociopolitical climate; well, I hate to tell you this, but I had recent conversation with a conservative woman about the challenges she faces in doing exactly that. Parents of all political backgrounds worry about raising children, just as they have done throughout history. This should be a point of agreement, not a point of contention.

With that, I'll bow out of my own comments until I can behave my damn self. I realize this might mean I will never return to them. What can I say? I'm a slow learner.

UPDATE: Pursuant to item 1, which apparently was not as clear as I had hoped it would be:

That goes equally for "Blog Against The Other Side Does This, Too (And Besides, They Started It)" Week, "Blog Against Unfair Stereotypes in General" Week, "Blog Against No One Having Got Amanda to Shut up Yet" Week, and any other pet topic dear to one's heart, about which one is more than welcome to blog at length on one's own blog.

Two things, people, I asked TWO SIMPLE THINGS. Please let's not be determined to appear illiterate; do you think we could manage that? Never mind, I'm getting mean again. As you were.

Posted by Ilyka at 04:04 PM

Dead Feminists

I remain a little confused about something. Maybe someone would be kind enough to clarify it for me:

Am I missing something, or is feminism one of the few ideologies that suffers a mortal blow every time it experiences internal disagreements?

See, I keep hearing all this stuff about it being dead. And I keep hearing that what killed it was some feminists not agreeing with other feminists. Does it have a depressed immune system or something? Has it not been buying organic? Is it not getting enough exercise? It must be awfully frail if internal disagreements are all it takes to kill it.

If intra-group dissention were enough to kill an idea or a movement, you'd think they'd all be dead. The first guy to have an argument with Epictetus would have killed Stoicism just like that, instead of it dying off naturally because no one really wanted to be a Stoic.

So I'm not getting why, when one feminist criticizes another, she so often concludes that this means feminism is dead.

Do you suppose maybe there is money in that sort of thing . . . ? I would be happy to pronounce feminism dead for, oh, a modest advance. I think it's deserved, you know, because my book is going to sell, I can guarantee you that. People LOVE reading about the overall stankiness and amazing deathability of feminism, over and over, especially if along the way you can implicate it in the murder of something else.

But back to Phyllis Chesler for a minute: I like much of what she has to say, and I have to grant some authority to any woman who's actually lived subjugation in the Middle East. I have no argument against this:

Feminists, as well as women, have some terrifying external enemies. For example, Islamists oppose the ideals of dignity and equality for women by their practice of gender apartheid. This is a system which includes some, if not all, of the following human-rights violations: female genital mutilation, veiling and hijab, purdah, normalized daughter- and wife-beating, arranged (child) marriage, often to first cousins, polygamy, honor murder, the imprisonment, torture, beheading, stoning to death, and hanging of rape victims, suspected prostitutes, and feminist dissidents — especially in Iran today.

And I actually would pick up The Death of Feminism, if only to read more about this:

On December 21, 1961, when I returned from Afghanistan, I kissed the ground at New York City's Idlewild Airport. I weighed 90 pounds and had hepatitis. Although I would soon become active in the American civil rights, anti-Vietnam war, and feminist movements, what I had learned in Kabul rendered me immune to the Third World romanticism that infected so many American radicals. As a young bride in Afghanistan, I was an eyewitness to just how badly women are treated in the Muslim world. I was mistreated, too, but I survived. My "Western" feminism was forged in that most beautiful and treacherous of countries.

What I do not understand, however, is why the author of a book about women's cruelty to other women is seemingly bent on solving the problems she perceives within feminism by declaring it dead. That is, if you object that women--oh, let's quote:

compete mainly with other women, not with men — and to do so through slander and ostracism

Then why practice exactly that? Or is it not "slander and ostracism" to decree feminism "dead" on the basis of your failure to convince other feminists that you are right and they are wrong? What did one of the Cotillion members say once?

If we mean to be treated equally, we cannot run and hide under the skirts of authority every time we are challenged or treated unfairly.

If peddling your feminism-is-dead, dumb-lefty-bitches-up-and-killed-it bestseller to an audience that has seldom found a good word to say of any modern feminist, rather than offering your justifiable complaints against other schools of thought within feminism as proof that in fact the movement is doing quite well (because whatever else it is doing, it is not stagnating)--if storming off instead to National Review to announce the long-awaited death of feminism whenever you have a problem with other feminists is not "running and hiding under the skirts of authority," then frankly I don't know what is.

I don't know why feminism's so death-prone. I just know that when I read about "the mainstream feminist refusal to acknowledge that, like men, women are human beings, as close to the apes as to the angels," what comes to mind for me are the feminists who have been declaring women human beings for years. I just know that when Chesler says she is not a cultural relavist, I think of another feminist I have read who has issues with it as well:

I think that at some point, feminism and cultural relativism are incompatible. I think that at some point, universal human rights and cultural relativism are incompatible.

Finally, I just know that I am currently receiving traffic from Feministe, Pandagon, and Alas, A Blog, (and thank you, all of you, for that), and so far not one feminist from any of those blogs has come to haul me off to a reeducation camp or a gulag--and that is so unfair, because according to Chesler, THAT WAS TOTALLY SUPPOSED TO HAPPEN TO ME.

Posted by Ilyka at 02:31 PM | Comments (7)

March 21, 2006

Feminism, the Mainstream Media, and Pop Culture

A depressing number of conservatives treat the above three things as, if not equivalent, then at least collusive. I don't see it, myself.

The problem is, you have a mainstream media outfit--let's take the New York Times--who hires, say, Maureen Dowd, and she writes in a stereotypically feminine, that is, girlish, way, and sometimes she talks about the dreaded Women's Issues.

"Oh," goes the reaction in some quarters, "Here we have a woman, writing for the New York Times, talking about things that don't always include men. I know what that is! That's a feminist!"

It's kind of like how the New York Times also has a guy writing for them who doesn't always agree with liberals, so William Safire, come on down! You're on "The Token Conservative!" But that doesn't change the fact that most conservatives I know are three times as likely to rave about the latest Mark Steyn column than they are about one of Safire's. He may be conservative compared to the other columnists aboard the NYT, and he may be conservative, period--but it would be news to me if most conservatives considered William Safire wholly representative of conservatism.

Nor is Maureen Dowd wholly representative of feminism. I think most of my commenters get that, but how many right-wing bloggers do? How many posts did I see around the release of Are Men Necessary? that went something like this:

"Maureen couldn't get a husband! Well, that's not because she's smarter than most men, like she says; it's because she got suckered by feminism! That's what you get, MoDo! Feminism's totally bullshit! Everyone knows that!"

It pains me to see Maureen Dowd held up as a feminist when I've read as much criticism of her from feminists as I have from conservatives. It's especially painful when I've read as much criticism of editorials and features in the New York Times from feminists as I have from conservatives. I am rapidly concluding that no one really likes that paper; liberals seem to think it doesn't go far enough and conservatives seem to think it's gone totally overboard. So can we please just all agree to hate the NYT and quit hanging Maureen out in the corn fields to scare the crows?

Pop culture's another facet of this modern life that some would blame feminism for. The short version goes, back in the 60s and 70s feminists pressed for sexual liberation and that's why today ten- and nine- and even eight-year-old girls dress like hookers.

That's a mighty big leap, to me.

The thing is, if you suggest some changes for society as a whole, it shouldn't be surprising when the changes society seems most amenable to implementing are those which it deems most capable of fitting into the existing paradigm. Call it the law of unintended consequences, call it shortsightedness on the part of sexual liberation feminists, call it total misinterpretation of sexual liberation feminists, call it whatever you like--but when you start blaming the proliferation of hookerwear on feminism, I'm sorry, I gotta tune out, because I would much rather blame the proliferation of hookerwear on Britney Spears, Jessica Simpson, Lindsay Lohan, and whoever else is or recently has been the Preteen Idol of the Week.

Look, I can remember wanting some hookerwear (or at least its 70s equivalent) at eight and nine and ten, but it was because I wanted to look like the women on "Charlie's Angels," not because Gloria Steinem tackled me on the way home from school and forced it on me. Feminists of that era largely hated shows like "Charlie's Angels." And they were jeered, much as they are now, for taking the show's influence too seriously, for just being jealous of beautiful women, and for doing that "raging" thing feminists always seem to do:

While viewers couldn't get enough of the three beautiful women, critics and feminists chewed it to pieces. Goldberg's idea to "inject some really stunning beauty into the genre" of crime shows was not appreciated by raging feminists. They accused CHARLIE'S ANGELS of setting women back one hundred years and were appalled by all the titillation and suggestiveness of Charlie's double entendres. One angry feminist saw the show as "a version of the pimp and his girls. Charlie dispatches his streetwise Angels to use their sexual wiles on the world while he reaps the profits!"

So I don't get how angry, raging feminists caused the hookerwear problem, just like I can't remember the last time I saw angry, raging feminists with tasers herding children into Abercrombie & Fitch stores. But that doesn't stop the charge from being made that it's all feminism's fault, because this is precisely the sort of thing the strawfeminist was made for. Responding to--oh look! Here she is again!--Maureen Dowd's statement that

A lot of women now want to be Maxim babes as much as men want Maxim babes. So women have moved from fighting objectification to seeking it.

The American Princess says:

No matter how its justified, its true. Although Ms. Dowd insists that this is some form of retaliation against the no-bra Seventies sisters, and unshaved armpits (which don't even look good on the French), I prefer to believe that this is not a reaction to feminism, but a symptom of feminism. What started as a quest for equality has morphed into a self-centric individualistic theory that has stolen women's feminine nature along with their souls.

And she's hardly alone in "prefer[ring] to believe" this, but for the life of me, I don't know why. I don't know why, when considering the sexual revolution, some of us routinely omit the number-one enabler of it, that little thing called The Pill. I don't know why, when considering the sexual revolution, we jump so quickly from the idea that women have sexual needs, too, to "who needs brains when you have these?" Most of all, I do not for the life of me understand why the teenage girls who organized the boycott (I will NOT use the term "girlcott," you can't make me) of those shirts were sneered at by conservative and libertarian men. It's as though we want young women to take responsibility for how they're perceived--so that when we treat them like bimbos and sluts, we can blame them for it--but also, we'd sure appreciate it if they enjoyed being perceived as jerkoff material for the congenitally microdicked.

I don't deny that feminism has had some influence on pop culture. I don't deny that feminism has had some influence on the mainstream media. What's debateable is how much influence.

What isn't debateable is that these three things are not equivalent. What isn't debateable is that these three things are not tied up together in a grand conspiracy to Destroy America. Begin an argument from either of those two faulty premises, and you'll have me into the martinis in no time at all.

Posted by Ilyka at 11:11 AM | Comments (12)

March 20, 2006


Now, at least, we have some back-and-forth going. It's about time! I know it's Monday, but really, I was starting to wonder if everyone had succumbed to narcolepsy.

I'm about to fall asleep myself--the unfortunate result of a marvelous dinner--but let me pick out some highlights from the discussion for those of you who normally shun the comments. First up, the ever-blistering Andrea:

I'm not sure what your beef is and what you want conservative women to do. As for the rape victim's letter you linked to, I don't can't see (probably because I am blinded by my worship of Ronald Reagan or something) why this case should be some sort of condemnation of conservative women's viewpoints and tactics. For one thing, I not only don't understand why those men were not given harsher sentences, I don't understand why they aren't all dead at the hands of the girl's father. My father would have killed them with his bare hands. Moreover, why were they allowed to harass this woman for years afterwards? And while I'm just being a conservative witch who refuses to fall into a bath of outraged tears because she's got icewater in her veins and sold her soul to Nixon in '72 (when she was eleven! they start 'em young in Rightville), what the hell were her parents thinking letting their underage daughter go to a party where young men would be present?

I would like to use the above as an excuse to seize--FINALLY!--an opportunity to say something that has been on my mind for some time:

The next time one of you is perfectly horrified by the way Andrea goes off on someone in my comments, remember that I do not ask any commenter at this blog to tolerate anything up with which I would not my own self put. Okay? If I don't have to stop, drop, and roll after this, then, frankly, I don't know what you consider your excuse. The thing I like about Andrea is that she is not covert-caustic, she is in-your-face caustic, and I can deal with the latter. It's the former that gives me hives.

Beth also takes issue:

Why "most feminists identify themselves as liberals?" Look at what organizations like NOW support that really don't seem to have anything to do with feminism. They show up at antiwar rallies, anti-globalization rallies, and other shit I wouldn't be caught dead associating myself with. They fought Alito and Roberts because of abortion, of course. Well, those two are my kind of judges, and I'm not going to change my mind just so I can be "accepted" by a bunch of people who disagree with everything I believe in.

Which brings up a good point: When does something cease to be "about feminism" and become "about every injustice suffered by anyone anywhere ever, but also, maybe, if we have time, feminism?"

This is a research topic I want to get into this week because it's my admittedly hazy understanding that at times, when the feminist movement has tried to be more inclusive of others, it has been surprised to find itself and its goals fucked over in favor of the cause it has allied itself with. In other words, feminism has traditionally loved cooperation, but cooperation has not always loved feminism back.

I think there likely are good arguments to be made against everything-and-the-kitchen-sink feminism, but I confess that at this point I don't know enough to say further--which is why I begged shamelessly for input, assistance, and GUEST BLOGGERS, you slackers.

Anyway, thanks for bringing that up, Beth; it's a good point that I don't want to get lost.

Then we have Meryl Yourish with the rebuttal:

I think, Andrea, that Ilyka was pointing out that the majority of conservative anti-feminists are so busy pointing out the canard that liberal feminists aren't working for women's rights in the Middle East that they're ignoring the fact that women still have an uphill battle right here at home.

Ding-a ding ding: "Why aren't we seeing more of this kind of thing from feminists?" as Glenn Reynolds once put it. I do see an effort made to downplay and minimize problems for women right here in the good ol' U.S. of A.; I don't, however, consider pointing that out an indictment against conservative women en masse. I am merely asking them to consider it another way: "Perhaps you should not have surrendered so quickly" versus "Them bad ol' bitches stole my feminism." If that's an indictment, fine, bring me my robe and wig, Judge Bitchy presiding.

Finally, I've got to hand it to Andrea again for reminding me, in comments to another post:

Actually, I remember the Clinton era as "The Year Feminism Broke," when about 90% of feminist "spokespersons" bent themselves into pretzels trying to find reasons not to condemn their man for having a female intern smoke his love cigar.

And that is an entirely valid point, though again, I am sorry for the cop-out here, one which I will have to revisit later (I did write 7 or so posts in the last 24 hours, and how often does that happen? Hmm?). In the interim, those of you who wish to discuss it further may have it TOTALLY UNSUPERVISED for the evening, woot. Please don't spill anything, unless it's on the slipcover, in which case, BLESS YOU.

UPDATE: I've been in a quandary about the ensuing discussions noted above. I think what I'll do is participate in 'em where they're occurring rather than write some rambling post about how no-I-didn't-mean-this, I-meant-that, because that would be not only tiresome for me, but unfair to the participants. Maybe this is just a personal preference of mine, but I kind of view extracting stuff from the comments and using it to launch a whole other post at your critics as clubbing your critics over the head, hitting back at the secondary (comments) with the primary (posts) means of communication in blogging, and I tend to dislike when other blogs do that, although I recognize that sometimes they have to, that sometimes there is simply no other way to get things back on track.

In the interests of keeping things on track, I will note that this is Blog Against the Strawfeminist, not Blog Against Nina Burleigh. Yes, the knee pads remark was stupid and revolting and even, I think, antifeminist, because anytime someone suggests women accept bad behavior from a guy simply because he can get them things, well, I don't see that as any different from suggesting women stay with abusive husbands because, when the husbands aren't drinking and knocking hell out of their wives, they buy the women really swell stuff. Not my idea of empowerment; but then, I never did go looking to Mirabella, back when it still existed, for feminist writing.

Posted by Ilyka at 09:07 PM | Comments (1)

"Shut Up, Sit Down, and Scale Back" Is Not Feminism

I said I wasn't going to attempt to define an "official feminist position" on any issue, and I am not.

But I am going to tell you what I think of Cathy Young, IWF, iFeminism, and former Bangles lead singer Christina Hoff Sommers: I think they're more convincing as misogynist apologists than as feminists.

So sue me. I can't help it if everything I read by 'em reminds me of Boxer:

After his hoof had healed up, Boxer worked harder than ever. Indeed, all the animals worked like slaves that year. Apart from the regular work of the farm, and the rebuilding of the windmill, there was the schoolhouse for the young pigs, which was started in March. Sometimes the long hours on insufficient food were hard to bear, but Boxer never faltered. In nothing that he said or did was there any sign that his strength was not what it had been. It was only his appearance that was a little altered; his hide was less shiny than it had used to be, and his great haunches seemed to have shrunken. The others said, "Boxer will pick up when the spring grass comes on"; but the spring came and Boxer grew no fatter. Sometimes on the slope leading to the top of the quarry, when he braced his muscles against the weight of some vast boulder, it seemed that nothing kept him on his feet except the will to continue. At such times his lips were seen to form the words, "I will work harder"; he had no voice left.

. . . except there is this one key difference: Boxer's motto was "I will work harder," not "all of you must work harder."

I trust no woman who tells me I must expect less but do more. I trust no woman who tells me I have too much, it's unfair, give it back. I trust no woman who bases her ostensible feminism on the premise of, "What about men?" I trust no woman who says "I'm a feminist" but does nothing but attack it. (For that matter, I trust no one whose actions seldom match his or her words. It's a useful general principle in my life.) I cede no authority over my decisions, my health, my sanity, my lifestyle, or my inherent rights to any woman who presumes to tell me how much is enough for me.

To go back to the patient rights and responsibilities post for a moment:

I owe Ms. Lauren, formerly of feministe (which, don't get me started on how pissed off I am that the site is down; I had intended to raid the daylights out of it this week), for that idea. Something I enjoy doing when I sense something I read is "off" or wrong or flawed somehow is looking for the hole, finding the faulty premise, whatever you want to call it.

Last week I read something that set off the alarms: There's an error here, there's a mistake, something about this is not right--but I couldn't put my finger on what it was.

Blogging is a humbling business; you learn really quickly to tell when you're in over your head. I passed the link onto Lauren and asked for her thoughts. Lauren did not disappoint. She went right to the flaw. She pointed out that the problem was that the author argued not for women to have greater autonomy, but rather for them to assume--and here I have to quote--"the entire onus for societal responsibility." She went on to note that this was "very Victorian." Indeed:

As a conservative feminist, I think the only way the plight of women will ever improve is exactly the way it has improved in my lifetime. We must represent ourselves out in the world, in the workplace firmly, with grace, competently, in such a manner that eventually it becomes the accepted wisdom that we can do the job. We must argue, not compel, for a more principled look at pornography. One that takes into account the effect on our daughters. And on our sons.

Whatever else the Victorian era was, it was neither kind nor just to women, and I think the argument could be made, convincingly, that it was also little more "moral" than our current era, and thus arguments with a Victorian flavor do not persuade me much.

But oh, no matter how many titles are filmed each year that feature increased degradation, objectification, and humiliation of women, we must never raise our sweet little voices to compel anyone. Heaven forfend we compel. We will get more flies with honey than with vinegar (although why exactly we want the flies to begin with I've never been sure), despite the fact that women have been "arguing" for men to see them as fully-realized human beings instead of sex toys for centuries, we--oh now look, let us not get discouraged and downtrodden. Let us not be victims! Let us just work harder doing the exact same gentle, ladylike things that have been so stunningly effective for NEVER. Look, you know it's bad when even the Pope uses stronger language than this.

Do the same thing repeatedly, keep expecting a different result--I think that's the definition of something. Oh, here it is.

Lauren had one other point that helps sum up why I'm not interested in at least the current crop of Republican/Independent/Libertarian feminists. Noting this description of conservative feminism:

There are plenty of conservative feminists, but we don't organize, we don't march, we don't wear our feminism on our sleeves.

Lauren responded,

It's too bad. We need them. Primarily to talk about what they DO believe in and what they're doing to DO about it and then DO it instead of drawing arbitrary lines in the sand between the good, moral girls and the screaming harpies.

You know, I've been wondering a little myself. Because I have a question:

Did "the Left" HIJACK feminism from right-of-center women? Or were right-of-center women not minding the store in the first place?

If most feminist women identify as liberals, do you think it's just possible that this is because liberals are more accepting of, and less threatened by, feminist ideas and behavior?

If so-called radical feminists are not doing enough to draw attention to violence against women in the Middle East--and from now on I want to be given a cookie each time I read that one--then by the same token, what are you doing to draw attention to violence against woman at home? Why is any American citizen recounting this horror:

After everyone in my neighborhood found out my identity, my family and I thought it was best for me to transfer to a new high school and start off fresh where no one knew who I was. I was in such fear of the new kids in my new school finding out who I was. I registered at my new high school under a different name. These men had not only taken my life, but now they had taken my identity and who I was. The first few weeks of my junior year went as planned. No one knew about my past, but that quickly changed when people hired by these men came to my school and stood in the parking lot screaming out my real name as I was walking with my friends. I was stopped by a man who served me papers right in front of my new friends. Then he proceeded to tell them who I was. I wanted to curl up and die. So much for no one knowing.

. . . in 2006?

Why am I reading so many comments by conservative women exclaiming how shocked they are to learn about labiaplasty . . . about hymen replacement . . . about G-spot surgery? Pardon me, but where have you broads been? If you routinely slither under a rock or out to a coffee klatsch or into a protected forum when you discuss events related to your sex, in order to protect men from having to hear about such boring and offensive material as, bleah, "women's issues," you can hardly be surprised when the only people left to talk about them are those who DON'T consider it their responsibility to shelter and protect grown human beings from matters relevant to half the population.

You know something?

Maybe it's not feminism that needs to get its ass off my couch. Maybe it's iFeminism.

Posted by Ilyka at 04:35 PM | Comments (30)

Strawfeminism Means Never Having to Know What Time It Is

Quiz time! From what era is the following narrative?

As I spoke, I saw faces twist into jeers and heard derisive laughter. People rolled their eyes or looked at each other in shock; girls giggled so as not to appear to be feminist sympathizers; guys snorted. I even saw one of my so-called friends burst out laughing. I knew that not everybody would be interested in the club, but I had no idea that the reaction to the word "feminist" would be so explosive.

. . .

A male administrator . . . was overheard sneering, "Maybe I should start a club for boys." As if feminism was an all-girls club, as if all feminism was ever about was dividing men and women. Why must the desire to empower one group automatically harm another?

The repercussions of my announcement showed me that the teachers and students at my school drastically misunderstood feminism (though they correctly perceived it as a threat to privilege). One of my (male) teachers suggested to me that the name "Feminist Alliance" sounded militant and conjured up images of shrieking women demanding that men do as they are told. A boy whom I had never spoken to before approached me in the hallway, asking, "How can you be a lesbian? You went out with Matt earlier this year!" A male faculty member asked me why the club was just for women (it wasn't), remarking, "It would have been nice to have a club to discuss gender issues; it's too bad you sold out to feminism instead." Students joked about it during classes, calling me a man-hater and warning that radical, hairy-legged feminists were going to take over the school and make all the boys their slaves. Some teachers chimed in and participated in the jokes.

For obvious reasons, I cannot source this right now. It'd ruin the guessing! No Googling!

Okay, I think you all knew I wasn't about to throw something ancient at you. The passage is from "Class Feminist," an essay by Erica Gilbert-Levin that appears in this book, published originally in 1995.

It's from the midst of the Clinton era, when feminism very nearly ran us all over like a truck? Oh, come on. You remember. We were all issued brown skirts that year! I still have mine, but I no longer fit into it because feminism made me fat and lonely.

Posted by Ilyka at 01:27 PM | Comments (6)

Breaking: Your Strawfeminist Argument is Neither New nor Controversial

One of the most frustrating things for me is seeing a novice feminist-basher open his or her critique with something like the following:

"I KNOW what I have to say here runs counter to the conventional wisdom and will probably make me some enemies, but . . . ."

"What I am about to say may be shocking to some people, but . . . ."

"I feel a rant coming on, and some of you may be surprised to see where it leads me . . . ."

So far such post beginnings have proven to be a highly reliable indicator of impending strawfeminism within them.

Were you going to suggest that feminists are simply too stubborn to accept that men and women are different? It's been done.

Were you going to take feminists to task for being, at heart, miserable people only seeking more miserable company? It's been done.

Were you going to chastise feminism for attacking your choice, even your right, to be a stay-at-home mother? While Linda Hirshman may be a recent and classic example of a feminist doing just that, please don't kid yourself that her assertions went unchallenged by other feminists; they did not.

Were you going to shore up your novel feminists-are-man-haters assertion by citing Andrea Dworkin's hysterical claim that all sex is rape? Ooh--better double-check that one.

Were you going to decry modern-day feminism as a cult of victimhood? Shut up, really?

I know of no better illustration of how stale most antifeminist criticism of feminism actually is--even as it continues to be packaged as "new" or "revolutionary" or "groundbreaking"--than this post:

. . . there just happens to be preserved online (courtesy of Duke University) a little booklet called Notes from the First Year: The New York Radical Women, 1968. This ancient artifact preserves the voices of the Women’s Lib movement as it was gaining ground. The funniest – or saddest – part is the objections heard to “women’s liberation.” I’ve pulled out a choice sample of these comments from 1968 and placed them side by side with the statements made 3 days ago by our nationally esteemed New York Times columnist and television pundit, Bobo Himself [David Brooks--ed.].

"Old" is not the new black. Ignorance of history, even the dreaded feminist history, will get you dancing with the strawfeminist every time. It is suggested, if you want to critique feminists, that you first learn what the actual ones are saying. It's pretty wild, I'll warn you--the way they say the most explosive and divisive things like:

I want the same rights, opportunities, and privileges that a man has. And I want them sans the misogynist baggage and bullshit that gets thrown my way for demanding them or having them.
I don’t want to ask anybody’s permission to do whatever I need to do or decide whatever I need to decide in order to meet my needs as a complex intellectual human being, to be professional who wants to be fairly treated, and to own up to my responsibilities as a parental human.

Both these remarks were apparently sufficiently controversial that the thread in which they appeared was subjected to multiple attempts at derailment by a guy who repeatedly insisted . . .

. . . that feminists think all sex is rape.

Truly, there is no new strawfeminism under the sun.

Posted by Ilyka at 12:31 PM | Comments (1)

Strawfeminists I Have Known: Me, for One

The easiest, quickest way to learn to recognize a strawfeminist is to become one, and it's surprisingly easy to become one. Here are some strategies with which I have personally had success:

  • You can ask a man to consider the Golden Rule before opening his big, dumb, virtual mouth again.
  • At a minimum, that should get you told to quit being emotional--when you're not being outed as a disgruntled fat chick who hates men.

  • You can defend a woman's right to her name.
  • That little act of radicalism will get you called a brownskirt, as in, brownskirted feminazi, Favoritest Strawfeminist of the Right 4Ever.

  • You can reach even deeper into your Militant Man-Hatin' Radfem Bag O'Tricks and make the controversial assertion that sexism is wrong, period.
  • But I would suggest not beginning with that last method unless, of course, you can't wait another minute to have it implied that you are but one further slip down the glistening, waxy slope to Newspeak, Islamofascism, and just all kinds of MAD CRAZY JIHAD.

    Want to see the strawfeminist up close-like? Tell a man you think he fucked up and ought to do something about it, and (I find this especially helpful) fail to do this deferentially, with civility--and you'll see her every time you look in the mirror.

    The silver lining to that is, you'll laugh extra hard the next time a man proposes that women are uncomfortable with the "food fight" nature of political blogging.

    Posted by Ilyka at 04:30 AM | Comments (2)

    March 19, 2006

    Bipolar Strawfeminism: Strong Enough to Ruin Everything, Too Weak to Accomplish Anything

    Feminism sure does cause a heap of trouble: It turns he-men into girly-men. It rewards jerks and spurns nice guys. It destroys families. It gives women who work outside the home chronic fatigue. Meanwhile it delights in hurling great big gift bags of guilt at stay-at-home moms.

    It gives women too many choices and makes of them too many demands. It forces them into doing things they don't want to do, growing in ways they don't want to grow, achieving things they never wanted to achieve in the first place. Feminism stands, brazen and mighty, in opposition to Nature--always cackling at its destruction, forever plotting to wreck something else.

    Furthermore, while I cannot prove it, I strongly suspect feminism of drinking straight from the milk carton when I'm out. It won't even use a glass!

    Just DAMN this feminism. It's out of control. It's gone too far. It must be curtailed. We must redress the imbalance. We have oversteered; it's time to turn back the wheel a tad, lest humanity run right off a cliff.

    Let us not forget that men suffer too. What about our sons? Our husbands? Our brothers? How long have they suffered under this yoke of feminist oppression? How could we have allowed feminism to do this to them? Where were our heads? What were we thinking? How could we have been so--dare I say it?--sexist?

    As good, moral people, as the bartenders of Club Earth, so to speak, maybe it's time we cut feminism off. It's already got us the vote and Title IX and pay that's almost as good as equal and . . . uh . . . well, a woman ran for Vice President once, remember? That was interesting. And wasn't there a Year of the Woman once? I can't remember which election year that was. Maybe it was that year from which I can recall only one thing: Donna Rice. You know your sex has come a long way when its members are most often in the news for fucking famous guys.

    Anyhow, that's plenty of achievement from you, feminism, really, quite enough. We can't keep serving you all night, not with you fixing to wreck the joint.

    Oh, feminism. Why do you have to be 30 feet tall with muscles of steel, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound? Why must you demolish lives with every step you take? We could like you, feminism, if you only knew your own strength, only made an effort to reign it in once in awhile. Instead, you

    [dominate] most of our public institutions and social fabric

    --and that's just plain bitchy of you, feminism.

    Less is more, feminism. Think about that while we call you a cab.

    But that's not the worst thing about feminism. Oh, no. You only thought it being an Almighty Colossus of Destruction was bad--but, actually, it gets much, much worse.

    Feminism, it turns out, is utterly impotent. It cannot affect positive change in any meaningful way whatsoever. And there's no Viagra for it in sight.

    Feminism couldn't get Maureen Dowd married.

    Feminism couldn't teach women math.

    Feminism couldn't stop pornography.

    Feminism couldn't stop rape.

    Feminism couldn't make women happy.

    No wonder young women are all so turned off by feminism. Feminism's a total pussy! And a lazy one, too!

    I really wish feminism would get up off my couch and fix all my problems forever. But I can't even get feminism to look for a job. Instead it just lolls around on the sofa, hissing at Oprah, stuffing itself with bonbons, and occasionally making rude remarks about my slipcover.

    Lazy, worthless, good-for-nothing feminism--always finding new ways to rest on its laurels. What's it done for anyone lately, huh? It sure doesn't care about injustice in the Middle East--now there are some women who could really use feminism. Too bad feminism never speaks up for them! And it doesn't lift one little finger to empower our daughters, to teach them to value themselves as something more than the sum of their body parts. Why, just look at all the slacking that shiftless feminism's been doing on that score:

    Feminism was supposed to free women from outdated and demeaning gender stereotypes; to empower us as people and put us on a more equal footing with men. Yet now, when women have more education, money, and power than ever before, we seem to have surrendered to the very culture we once viewed as oppressive and sexist. Have women finally transcended sexism and if so, why aren't men jumping on the same bandwagon?

    Will women ever view ourselves as more than the sum of our body parts?

    Not if feminism doesn't ever get its ass off my couch, they won't!

    But who are we kidding, really? Feminism doesn't have any special power (except the power to ruin everything). Feminism doesn't have any new ideas (except a few novel notions about crushing our souls). Feminism has no defined goals (beyond "smash everything"), no clever strategies (other than strategies for destruction), and no measurable achievements (though there was that whole suffrage thing once). Why exactly are we paying feminism's rent? What's the point of it? It can't do a thing for us!

    I wish feminism would go away so it could quit obliterating everything that is good and pure and noble in life. But most of all, I want it gone because it's dumb and lazy and we don't need it anymore.

    I'd like my couch back, feminism. And lay off the bonbons.

    Posted by Ilyka at 11:23 PM | Comments (4)

    March 18, 2006



    Would you seek care at a hospital that displayed the above?

    Posted by Ilyka at 02:52 PM

    What I Did for St. Patrick's Day

    Worked. And then I spent all my time on

    Also, I forgot to wear green. DO NOT TELL MY GRANDMOTHER.

    I spent all my time on because I was researching Colombian food. And I was doing that because I have to do these cultural activities for my class, and if I only show up with a reasonably authentic Colombian dish to this Colombian cultural night that my professor keeps telling me we're going to have, but for which she refuses to specify an actual date . . . if I only do this, then I have two of the three required cultural activities handled, and I can rest secure in the knowledge that I will never have to go see Spanish films with subtitles on campus, see, because she's counting Colombian Night doble, and I already did one cultural activity, so I'll be DONE.

    Cook weird food and be set, gradewise? All classes should be run like this.

    And yet, here's what I love: I'm 60 miles or so from Juarez and I had to get the Spanish teacher from Colombia. NMSU has gringo Spanish teachers and Mexican-American Spanish teachers but no, una colombiana, that's who I got. No offense to Colombians, but this is not exactly convenient for me, you know? I can buy tomatillos locally, but I'll bet I'm going to have to get an international money order to procure guascas.

    Anyway, the problem I am having with Colombian cuisine is that it hasn't been popularized by an English-speaking celebrity chef yet. I have a love/hate relationship with celebrity chefs. On the one hand, once they popularize something, it becomes more convenient for me to make. "Great! Now I can get authentic San Marzano tomatoes and buffalo mozzarella at the local grocery store! THANK YOU, Mario!"

    On the other hand, once they popularize something . . . I'll put it this way, my being a sushi-hater has been damn difficult over the last 20 years.

    But the damn Colombians . . . as best I can tell, authentic Colombian cuisine has been filed under the more general category of "Latin-American cuisine" in the U.S. Which is fine with me, except my teacher's Colombian, did I mention? Imagine going to some foreign country's "American Night" to which all your students showed up with packets of Kool-Aid and bags of Big Macs. I don't think it's gonna fly if I show up with something that turns out to actually be the national dish of El Salvador.

    I guess now would be a good time to confess that I can't find Colombia on a map, or at least I couldn't until 35 seconds ago. You mean it's part of the South American continent? Get out! Why is everything written in English calling it part of . . . wait, do we include the northern South American countries in Latin America? What does Latin America mean? I thought it meant "all those countries that aren't quite North America but aren't quite the Caribbean and also aren't South America either." What the hell, "Latin America?" It's not like there's a section of the Americas where the predominant language is Latin. Why do we even have that term?

    Oh man. I have to stop this before I sound any more like Jessica Simpson did when she thought buffalo wings were made from buffalo, or for that matter, any other time she's opened her mouth.

    I figure it this way about Colombian Night: Either no one's gonna show up, or twenty of us are going to show up bearing the most easily-Googled recipe result for the national dish of Colombia.

    Oh yeah, and Erin Go Bragh and all that.

    Posted by Ilyka at 03:49 AM | Comments (11)

    March 17, 2006

    Life Moves Pretty Fast

    This would have been quite a shot, had I only taken it even 90 seconds earlier than I did.

    Well, I suppose it's a judgment on me for not getting dressed today.

    Posted by Ilyka at 06:44 PM | Comments (0)

    Removed Until Further Notice

    "More Penguins Please" is gone. While I'd like very much to revisit some of the topics that came to mind as a result of my writing it (and, especially, the comments it engendered), I don't feel comfortable leaving it up just now. It was something of a hit job, and I think I'd feel better about myself if it were more an attack-the-argument piece.

    Then again, I'm not sure how you attack the argument that feminism was born from the wombs of anorgasmic women--ALL RIGHT, ALL RIGHT, I'll quit while I'm ahead. Really, you people never let me have a moment's fun.

    We'll get back to it next week, which is going to be . . . ooh, should I tell you? I'm having a little theme week for myself. You may want to read something else that week. Or you may not. If there's one thing I never can predict, it's what'll catch on and what'll tank. Don't ever give me a job at Vogue. I couldn't predict a trend if it were barreling at me bearing a sign reading, "THIS IS THE NEXT BIG THING."

    Posted by Ilyka at 02:16 PM | Comments (5)

    March 16, 2006


    Awesome--Meryl finally started doing up a "50 Things About Me" list, after threatening to for, what, forever? Seems like that long to me, anyway. Go enjoy Parts 1, 2, and 3 with, I hope, more to come.

    I really love these pieces--when other people write them. That one I did, feh, that burned me out.

    Posted by Ilyka at 06:07 PM | Comments (0)

    Throw Another Log on the Fire, Why Not

    Speaking of Beth, she asks, I think, a fair question:

    If “feminism” is about issues beyond abortion, what’s the point if you don’t care enough about them to involve (rather than demonize) people like me?

    Having thrown that out there, I imagine the answers will tend towards one of these two positions (note: I am blockquoting these to set them off, but they are paraphrases only):

    The issue of abortion is not "above" or "beyond" or even merely "a part of" feminism, but central to it; without acknowledgement of a woman's sole ownership of her body, women have no real equality.


    That feminists exclude pro-life women from their ranks only demonstrates how intellectually bankrupt and fraudulent feminism really is, or at least has been ever since it was hijacked by the left.

    I would hope that most opinions offered would lie somewhere in between, but this being the internet and all, I know I am not always going to get what I want. Well, we shall see.

    Posted by Ilyka at 10:19 AM | Comments (8)

    March 15, 2006

    Cute Overload

    Watching March of the Penguins right now. I'm about to have to dip into the cat's insulin here.

    Posted by Ilyka at 02:35 PM | Comments (5)

    March 13, 2006

    Briefly on the New Job

    Training began this morning at the uncivilized hour of 7:30 a.m. I am wiped. I am about to go down for a nap, actually, before I haul myself to a little thing the school's Spanish department calls Noche de Cine so I can get "cultural activity" points. Watching Univision doesn't count as a cultural activity, nor does watching Office Space in Spanish with the English subtitles on; I already checked. It's too bad, because it's pretty funny hearing Bill Lumbergh say "¡Peter! ¿Qué te pasando?" although then you have to subtract some funny just because it isn't Gary Cole saying it.

    After watching Office Space in Spanish I really wished my Fellowship of the Ring DVD had a Spanish language option because every male Spanish voiceover in Office Space was like way down here, all Barry White, basso profundo, right, and can you just imagine Frodo speaking in that register? You can't. Or Gollum, damn, I am dying to know what Gollum sounds like en español. I really think that would kill me.

    Instead I have to go see something that my Spanish teacher wrote down as Diario de una Moto; except, I can't find a movie by that name no matter where I look and the thing about my Spanish teacher is . . . she's a little . . . I mean, sometimes . . . I think she might be dyslexic, to tell you the truth. So who knows what we're actually seeing. The boyfriend said he hoped she meant this and I told him just for saying that, I hoped it was actually this instead. Of course I am dragging him with me. The rule in this house is that if I have to suffer, he has to suffer; also, I will need someone to poke me awake.

    Wait, this was supposed to be about the new job, wasn't it? Well, so far, it's better. Much better. I guess I shouldn't go into much detail but let's just say that if you want people to transcribe dictation rapidly and accurately it is helpful not to hobble them with crapware that thwarts these aims at every turn, even if--no, especially if--that crapware is proprietary and the code base dates back 20 years. Put it in a museum, then, but don't expect me to tolerate it for long.

    The real test, however, will be when I start listening to the new doctors, and that brings up something I want to make clear right now, because it's come up before and I don't want it coming up again:

    If, as part of your job, you sometimes dictate stuff that other people type, I am sure you are doing this BEAUTIFULLY and I'm equally sure that whatever problems you are having with the process are the transcriptionist's fault entirely. Believe it or not, I'm aware some transcriptionists suck at their jobs. On some days I am one of those transcriptionists myself.

    In other words, let me vent once in awhile, and understand that when I do so, I am so not picking on Those Who Dictate as a group--some who dictate are terrific and some who dictate are terrible, yes, but when you get right down to it, I have only one criterion when evaluating Those Who Dictate:

    Do you at least kind of, sort of make an effort to do it well?

    [ ] Yes
    [ ] No

    In rare cases I may follow that up with:

    I mean, I understand if you're tired or you have a cold or the baby just set himself on fire in the middle of what all you were saying or you just found out your spouse is leaving you, really. These things happen. And I understand if you stutter or if English isn't your native language. But at least half of the time you're giving it some effort, aren't you? We're in this together? And you're not actively trying to mess with me or anything, right?

    [ ] Yes
    [ ] No

    So please just take my word for it that if I am complaining about a doctor, it is because I am sensing that doctor just doesn't give a fuck, and yes, doctors do come in that variety, same as any other profession, only you hope those doctors at least give a fuck about their primary aim of caring for patients, and honestly, I think it's quite likely that they do. Some of the best doctors from the patient's standpoint can be hell on absolutely everyone and everything else and especially hell on chores they'd rather not do in the first place . . . like dictating chart notes. I had a doctor once begin a report with "This is Dr. Sexyfine [well, he was] dictating yet another fucking report on patient . . . ." It is not FUN, the dictating of reports. I get that.

    And sometimes the best doctors are frankly terrible to work with. We had a great doctor at the AIDS clinic I used to work at, from the standpoint of the patients. They loved him. He wore himself out trying to help them. But he was an asshole. He threw charts. He reduced nurses to tears. He even barked at me on occasion and I was strictly back-office; my job and his job intersected as little as two jobs possibly could, but some days he'd just go on a rampage and find reasons to yell at anybody, and on those days you quickly learned not to take it personally. If you judged him by how he treated his coworkers and even his bosses you'd think he was a lousy doctor, but as nearly as I could tell, he wasn't a lousy doctor; so when I'm listening to someone um and uh his or her way through a dictation, I keep in mind that for all I know, that person is the best doctor in the whole wide world--and that's what matters, not all the umming and uhhing.

    So when I bitch about this or that dictating physician, please understand a few things:

    1. I know they have other, more important things to do.
    2. I know dictating is an awkward and difficult activity.
    3. I know some transcriptionists suck at their jobs and that it'd be faster for a skilled keyboardist to just type the shit himself rather than have to dictate it to some ninny who can't keep the difference between "it's" and "its" straight and spells "any" with an "e."
    4. I can tell the difference between a naturally awkward speaker who's making an effort and a naturally polished speaker who isn't making any effort at all (because "Hey, that's what they pay these broads for") and, while I may get occasionally exasperated with the former, I will never, ever hate on them, least of all here. But for the latter I HAVE NO MERCY. If reading that sort of thing makes you freak out and get all defensive about your own dictating abilities, which it totally shouldn't do as it has nothing to do with you, then READ SOMETHING ELSE.

    Okay? Okay. I just knocked half an hour off my nap time for this, so don't make me mention it again. Great thanks terrific and goodnight.

    Posted by Ilyka at 05:05 PM | Comments (6)

    March 10, 2006


    "You know what two names mean, on the cover of a book? It means one of the people named can't write."

    If Steve keeps this kind of thing up I'm going to have to add "idolatry" to my lengthy list of sins.

    Posted by Ilyka at 03:39 AM | Comments (2)

    March 09, 2006

    I'd Sleep More Soundly With a Cat Like This

    Mouse patrol! I love this post and I am jealous of Kenneth for having such an excellent cat.

    No, my two little fat things never go on mouse patrol, and a handful of you will remember exactly how devoid of predatory instincts my cats actually are (those of you who don't may see the extended entry--it's something I wrote elsewhere).

    Bring the mouse into the house to play with drop at mama's feet and promptly forget all about entirely, even as mama screams and shrieks and screams some more?--Sure! Kill the mouse while it's still outside the house, where it belongs?--Where's the fun in that? Fall asleep, I mean snoring asleep, I mean passed OUT, when locked in a bathroom with a mouse?--Oh, my cats excel at that one!

    They're too fat and they're too old and when they do things like terrorize me by bringing home mice they don't really want, I kind of hate them. Especially when I contrast them with Troy, the faux-diabetic cat who is diligent on mouse patrol.


    I want to testify to you that tonight, I have had a change of heart about a major part of my life. Tonight, I have decided that people who hate cats* are absolutely 100% correct in their assessment of the creatures.

    You get a cat--if you're me, one just comes and finds you--and you take it to the veterinarian and you pay exorbitant sums to vaccinate it and you buy it cat food and you clean its litterbox and you pet it and love it and let it outside when it clamors to go and for what? FOR WHAT?

    So it can reward you by bringing home a trophy, of course. In the case of my most vicious, carnivorous cat, a trophy in the form of a mouse that is nowhere near dead.

    Oh, no, where's the fun in bringing mama home a corpse? That would never do. Better to bring home a young, fresh, aerobicized, spastically scurrying little rodent that will scare the daylights out of mama. Mama will really appreciate that action.

    Mama would like to know if any of you would like a cat? Wait, hear me out here. Let me tell you all her selling points:

    --Missing two front teeth, so cannot eat (much cheaper) dry cat food. This bitch is into me for two cans of Fancy Feast a day.

    --Longhaired, so will get snarls if you don't brush her regularly.

    --Hates being brushed and will try to bite you if you do it.

    --Luckily, is missing two front teeth, so bites seldom successful deterrent to brushing (see above).

    --Screeches constantly for this, that, and the other. Don't tell me I need to work harder to appease her, either. You have no idea the appeasement that goes on around here.

    That said, I do not appease her to the point of appreciating live vermin being brought home. When I OH SO FOOLISHLY opened the back door tonight to let her in, and I saw a tail hanging out of her mouth, I shrieked like a banshee.

    That scared her into dropping the mouse.

    Which scared the mouse into running under the desk with no regard for the fact that MY FEET GO THERE.

    I would tell you the whole gory story from that point on, but I have already rudely unloaded it, play-by-play fashion, via the miracle of instant messaging, on this poor guy. I guarantee that at least once tonight, if not seventeen times, Hubris wished he had a wife at home who would yell at him to get off the computer, damnit, and I mean NOW.

    I should probably at least tell you the part where I opened the back door to admit another, entirely different cat from the one I am now desperately trying to give to you, only to realize too late that THIS CAT ALSO HAD A MOUSE IN HER MOUTH.

    Seriously, I'm not making that up.

    But that cat did a better job neutralizing her rodent (Hosanna, Hosanna to cats who are NOT missing two front teeth), and he was dazed enough that I was able to sweep him out the front door with little resistance. So he was only a problem for maybe two minutes, two minutes during which I wept and begged God to tell me why He was doing this to me.

    I should also probably add that the whole evening I have been bitterly regretting that I am not this woman, who loves mice and rats and all manner of rodents, and does not mind imagining the feel of their little clawed feet scampering about her bare and un-be-goosebumped flesh. If I were only that woman, I'm sure I would have a roommate by now, a roommate named "Tiny," who would sleep in a cage that I cleaned out and lined with fresh newspapers regularly in a loving, thankful manner.

    But I am not that woman, and so Tiny rests beneath a plastic mixing bowl that I was eventually able to drop over him, a feat not easy to accomplish when you're crouching atop your bathroom counter in the "scared shitless" position, and I have weighted that down with the heaviest book in the house, which is the medical dictionary, and best of all, I have my bathroom back. Just, you know, mind the mixing bowl.

    And in the morning I will call the complex and demand they get a maintenance guy down here to remove him. And while they are engaged in that process, I will take myself out to breakfast, or hie myself down to Best Buy, or WALK TO EL PASO, A MERE 45 MILES FROM HERE, I don't even care--but I am not dealing with Tiny any more. Tiny has already given me sweats, palpitations, hyperventilatory syndrome, and situational depression-slash-anxiety this evening alone. On the plus side, he's certainly taken my mind off the cramps.

    See, I'm a feminist, so I believe women can do anything.

    But I'm also a capitalist. So I believe any dirty work you can possibly palm off on someone else through the magical medium of money, you fucking delegate.

    UPDATE: Tiny's dead and I feel terrible. If I just hadn't been such a chickenshit ninny about this whole thing, I could have got him out of the apartment last night and back to his nest.

    I'll tell you what I hate: I hate that I couldn't control the fear. I do mean "couldn't," not just "chose not to/didn't want to badly enough;" the poor scared little guy would run at me and I'd just lose it, I mean weeping, sobbing, hysterical losing it, every time. And if you can't stay strong when someone as cool as Hubris is cheering you on to stay strong, well, you're hopeless then. I'M hopeless.

    Damn, Tiny. I'm sorry. You were such a cute little fellow, too.

    Oh, but hey, you can still adopt the miserable lowlife cat who brought this problem to me in the first place. Act now and I'll throw in a second cat, free!

    Posted by Ilyka at 01:59 AM | Comments (2)

    March 08, 2006

    Apparently Today Is 'Blog Against Sexism' Day

    Yippee, and don't I kind of do that anyway, and isn't it sometimes a little tiresome? I think I'll just make do with a quote:

    You either think chauvinism is shit or you don't. We think it's shit.
    --Viv Albertine, guitarist for the horrendously bad punk group The Slits.
    Posted by Ilyka at 02:49 PM | Comments (0)

    Maybe Not the Saddest Thing

    . . . but still pretty tragic, and I admit it: The line about applying makeup from the free samples at Rite-Aid, eyes closed--I loved that line.


    I got all over Vanderleun about the nothing-sadder-than-a-once-beautiful-woman thing here, right? Well, I still think (1) there are much sadder things than that and (2) it's a trite simile and (3) there's a terrible double standard at work when it comes to men's looks versus women's looks, and . . . do you know what I think is one of the saddest things? Old white guys on the news. It depresses me. In my perfect world the nightly news would be anchored by Charles Barkley. I would actually watch the news if it were only anchored by Charles Barkley. Even when he gets to be really ancient, you just know Charles will still pick out suits that look off the rack from Men's Wearhouse--he's gonna like the way he looks; I guarantee it--and he will still interrupt people he thinks are being stupid and he will still say whatever's on his mind, whether it has anything to do with the news or not.

    (Here we pause while I try to remember what this post was going to be about before I got distracted by visions of the CBS Evening News with Charles Barkley.)

    Right: Women who keep slapping on the war paint and baring their sternums after they're well over the hill. I don't think this is the saddest thing, but I do think it's a cringeworthy thing; only, I don't blame the women too much, because I look at it like a video game. You've got this bar, say:


    And your goal is to get that bar as full as possible, then keep it there as long as possible:


    And--this is why Pursuit of Hotness IV: The Perils of Applique will not be coming to a GameSpot near you anytime soon--maintaining that stupid little bar at an acceptably high level is the only point of the game. Also, if the bar gets too low, you die.

    Are you longing for Pong yet?

    See, you can't craft a culture-bubble like Hollywood, foolishly entrust it with setting trends for everyone else, make maintaining desireability a core value of that culture, and then get all "Why would she embarrass herself like that?" when Sharon Stone shows up to an Oscar party looking like something that should be taken out and shot, for our sake if not for hers.

    Why wouldn't she embarrass herself like that? She doesn't know how to do anything else. And sure, that's probably because she's an idiot, but it's not only because she's an idiot, or even mostly because she's an idiot. It's also because keeping that hotness bar filled even at, say, level 68, the level it's nearly impossible to get past, the level at which even if you duck all the Crow's Feet grenades there are still the Chicken Neck bombs to defuse and those Bad Facelift missiles, forget it, it's not even worth trying to avoid those--what, exactly, do we expect women trained for this and only this to suddenly DO when they get old, don cable knit sweaters and fuck off to Connecticut? Fall onto a pair of nail scissors? Swallow a cup of hemlock astringent?

    No, really, I actually do know what we expect them to do: Put some damn clothes on, for a start. Scrape off the cornflower-blue eyeshadow and cut or at least wash that hair, and (it's Sharon Stone, remember) PUT SOME CLOTHES ON, I'm not kidding. Don't make me tell you again, Grandma. Yes, we expect them to act their ages and have some dignity but maybe, just maybe, they would find it easier to do that if mouth-breathing cocktards weren't continually pounding it into their skulls from puberty onwards (if not earlier) that hotness is the only thing that matters, the only thing they're good for, and that once they don't have hotness they don't have anything; in fact, they might as well do us all a favor and just die already. But if they won't do that, they should at least start aiming, stylistically, for Refined Old Lady, and then perhaps we will toss them the crumb of remarking that they've aged "gracefully," or perhaps we will merely turn to each other and ask, "She's still alive? Get out, I totally thought she was dead."

    UPDATE: Then again, we seem to have racked up more support for the "she's an idiot" theory--or, as Meryl Lair Simon puts it, "Fourteen hundred years of looking for a way to permanently fend off the endless Quranic nightmare of conquest and destruction, reduced to a single act that many wouldn’t even do for a Klondike Bar."

    A Klondike bar? I'm not that keen on Klondikes, but . . . a box of chocolate truffles? Only if she's not wearing the eyeshadow. And I get to irrigate my mouth with hydrogen peroxide afterwards, too.

    Posted by Ilyka at 03:46 AM | Comments (8)

    March 07, 2006

    Slipcover Hell

    HGTV has failed me. All those hours watching all those episodes of Designer's Challenge . . . Design on a Dime . . . Designed to Sell . . . and for what? For what?

    For me to turn my home into a damn Holiday Inn, that's what:

    (Andrea, feel free to shield yourself against the three of the Four Colors of the Apocalypse on display in that picture.)

    No, I guess I don't know what I was thinking with this. Well, I know some things I was thinking. I was thinking, for a start, how stupid it was of me not to declaw that one cat I adopted for about three years, that insane feral cat who wrecked one arm of my loveseat--that was one thing I was thinking. I was also thinking, "Hey, $42.00 for a slipcover at I'm so there!" And then finally I was thinking, "What a lovely warm russet that is," completely forgetting the advice my mother has pounded into my head since infancy, namely, that every color looks 30 times darker once you get it out from under the display lights used to photograph it and into your actual cave home.

    Things I was not thinking:

  • "That 'lovely warm russet' is bound to be the color of dried blood in real life."
  • "Stripes? On a slipcover? Those will never line up properly and I will go slowly mad from obsessively straightening, straightening, straightening--NO, YOU MAY NOT SIT ON THE SOFA! WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS TO ME?!--straightening, straightening . . . ."
  • "I have never before applied a slipcover to an item of furniture in my entire life."

  • Yes, I did indeed do the trick with the rolled-up magazines, in case you were going to suggest that one. It doesn't help; the minute anyone sits down on the damn thing, it's all over. Also, notice the parts of the couch that aren't horribly cheap and shiny looking? The parts that don't scream, "I am 100% polyester, baby?" Those would be the parts that have been dulled by the excessive application of CAT FUR.

    I have owned this slipcover for one week and I am already ready to tear it into little tiny pieces, because in fact I don't have time to keep up with the straightening and the tucking and the pleating and the--how could I have watched this much HGTV and yet learned nothing? How is this possible?

    UPDATE: The potential for annoyance is limitless in the world of slipcovers. Consider the Matelasse Loveseat Slipcover in "Tomatillo," for example, an image of which I have shamelessly lifted from


    Now consider an actual tomatillo. And yes, tomatillos are all that color*, namely, BRILLIANT GREEN. Not RUSTY RED, you ignorant Matelassian marketing morons. And is it just the makers of the Matelasse Loveseat Slipcover who are doing this? No, it is not. I have seen other "tomatillo"-colored housewares and slipcovers. I'm just picking on Matelasse because they are so woefully unclear on whether it's cooler to be French or Spanish and with the "tomatillo" slipcover, it's clear they decided to JUST BE BOTH.

    Pretty soon tomatillo will mean "a relative of the tomato and member of the nightshade (Solanaceae) family [that provides the] tart flavor in a host of Mexican green sauces," and it will ALSO mean "An ugly shade of red which people who don't know the first thing about traditional Mexican foods have stupidly decided to call 'tomatillo' in the mistaken belief that it sounds more exotic and spicy that way. ¡Ay yi yi!"

    Who's up for more margaritas? Hey, I'm from Minnesota, but the wife and I, we really thought that POLE-OH cahn LY-MON that we had down in San Antonio last summer, when we took the kids to Sea World, was just super!

    *Unless they are ripe, in which case no one eats them. It would be like noting that technically, bananas can be brown: Yes, but is it most common to eat them that way? Is that the color you answer when someone asks you what color a banana is?--So don't let's be smartasses about this. You will never see tomatillos in the supermarkets in any color but green, and so it will be until some celebrity chef decides that the redder, riper ones "lend a sublime tartness" to, I don't know, Yorkshire pudding or something. They're always doing that kind of thing, celebrity chefs.

    Posted by Ilyka at 07:42 PM | Comments (6)

    Lows in the 30s

    We're supposed to get a cold front tomorrow, but I think it's sneaking in early; I take the below as a good sign that for once, isn't just out-and-out lying to me.

    I hope it's true. I'm ready for neither the return of air conditioning, nor the return of las cucarachas, both of which I can look forward to when it warms back up again.

    Posted by Ilyka at 06:36 PM | Comments (1)

    Phrase of the Day

    "Pouty dance." Via email from Hubris. I don't know if he came up with it or if it's just out there in circulation and I'm too far under this rock to be hip to it, but I love it and I love Hubris and so I'm crediting him with its origin unless someone speaks up to the contrary. Also, if you only knew the context in which it came up, you would appreciate it even more, I swear, because it is surgically accurate in that context.

    Posted by Ilyka at 05:28 PM | Comments (3)

    What You Should Do If Asked to Feed the Hungry

    Make fun of the solicitation that came in the mail about it, of course. Because you're very hip, see, and ain't no cow so sacred that it can't be sacrified on the altar of Your Scathing Wit. It's so funny when old people hold up photos of themselves in younger days because really, who do they think they're kidding with that? We know they're elderly Jews first and human beings second, if at all.

    Besides, if they were really hungry they'd write the damn letter themselves instead of letting it be all mass-produced and fakey because, eww, that's so soulless and corporate, and like PETA, they totally never do that, nor does Greenpeace, nor the Sierra Club, nor John Kerry, nor . . . .

    Via a blog that's going right off the roll, this minute, because I am heartily sick of reading about its author's world tour to this place, that place, and the other, and how thrilled its author would be to meet a few of her readers there, provided they'll be in the swell location to which she is traveling, and also, it would be great if maybe that location's travel board paid all the expenses for her to get there? Because she's a working mom.

    Whatever. I do generally try to avoid generation-bashing, but I have to hand it to the people who came of age in the 90s: It took them to make the people who came of age in the 70s look wise and benevolent by comparison.

    Posted by Ilyka at 02:30 PM | Comments (8)

    Had I Not Chainsawed Quite So Many Imaginary People Tonight

    . . . I would have had more time for the blogging, and then I could have written a paragraph or two about this; maybe about how I once pissed off a freshman English professor--oh pardon me; she preferred the title "professor of rhetoric"--by suggesting that it was unfair and stupid to insist science and engineering majors get their recommended semesterly allowance of the hallowed Liberal Arts, without likewise insisting that sociology and literature majors get their recommended semesterly allowance of math and science.

    I believe the sentence that set her off was one in which I questioned the necessity of reading Alice Walker. I don't actually know why I did that, because I don't dislike Alice Walker, but at the time, you did NOT disrespect Alice Walker, oh no you din't, not if you wanted a C or better, and I think we can blame anything I may have said about her on that old imp of the perverse, you know, the one that rules my life unmercifully? I kind of knew you couldn't get away with disrespecting Alice Walker, so I did so.

    Have I told you this story before? I'm getting the feeling that I have. See, maybe it's better I don't have time to write about this. Anyway, social justice and mathematics--why's the peanut butter always got to go into the chocolate and not the other way around, so to speak?

    No, I am not opposed to mathematical literacy, and I wish that folks who are more politically-inclined than I would invoke it more often.

    No, what bothers is this: is anyone familiar with a movement among social studies educators in secondary schools to use math in their courses, or does the movement toward interdisciplinary studies of social justice only go in the other direction? I am aware of none. Why are the educators who are motivated by political issues - and who see numeracy as a means to that end - injecting those issues into the math curriculum, rather than injecting math into social studies classes - which seems more natural to me? If I think that potters would improve their craft by learning some elementary Newtonian mechanics, I’d sooner give impromptu physics lessons at my the pottery studio than drag my physics classmates to the studio.

    Is the overall effect to the high school curriculum, a net reduction of mathematical content?

    Frankly, I think yes, but what do I know? It's my pet theory that mathematics intimidates some people in almost the way that frat boys intimidate the chess club, and therefore the mathematically-fearful will do anything to incapacitate the monster, to diminish its power--but this is a pet theory born of a lifetime of paranoia, not based on any data or anything, and also, keep in mind, I went to reform school and now spend my free time [see post title]. So if I were you I wouldn't think overmuch about that theory (which come to think of it is only a hypothesis besides).

    Posted by Ilyka at 03:09 AM | Comments (1)

    March 06, 2006

    Para Los Niños

    Some unsolicited advice for the pro-life crowd:

    If criminalizing abortion is really all about saving precious little babies, then make that case. Don't instead let creepmeister Bill Napoli start talking:

    FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Napoli says most abortions are performed for what he calls "convenience." He insists that exceptions can be made for rape or incest under the provision that protects the mother's life. I asked him for a scenario in which an exception may be invoked.

    BILL NAPOLI: A real-life description to me would be a rape victim, brutally raped, savaged. The girl was a virgin. She was religious. She planned on saving her virginity until she was married. She was brutalized and raped, sodomized as bad as you can possibly make it, and is impregnated. I mean, that girl could be so messed up, physically and psychologically, that carrying that child could very well threaten her life.

    . . . because, see, what happens is, I read filth like that--and are you sensing a inordinately gleeful tone to Bill's description, there? Because I am--and the counterargument, the counterargument that antiabortionists aren't nearly so much about saving precious little babies as they are about morally policing grown women; you know, that counterargument?--It becomes extremely difficult for me to refute. Impossible, actually.

    Remember, ladies: It's only rape if you're a virgin who gets it up the ass. No anal?--No rape. Sorry. Them's the rules, and I learned them the same way I'm certain in my bones that Mr. Napoli did: From porn.

    Incidentally, it's interesting to me that some of the comments about this have expressed puzzlement at Napoli's inclusion of sodomy in his--let's call it what it is, now--rape fantasy.

    What's to be puzzled about? If you take the view that a woman is merely a life-support system for a (all right, you know I don't like that word) and, also, that this object exists purely for the pleasure of men, it follows that uninvited intrusions into said object can't possibly cause trauma, or even occur in the first place, because who, exactly, would they traumatize? Who would fail to invite them, who would consider it intrusion? The owner? But that's ridiculous--there is no owner. It's funny how when it comes to the pussy so many men are inherently communist, no matter how they vote on matters political.

    Anyway, you can't violate property rights if no one owns the property. There is no owner. There's merely this mouth that flaps up and down on its own accord for no discernible reason at times (you should slap it if the noise annoys you) and, oh yeah, these parts that make babies--but those belong to men too, so, you're all set. It's all good.

    So there's no crime here. Bone that gadget all you like, hombres; it is yours, unless it is God's. And don't worry: If in fact it is God's, you'll find out just as soon as that goofy mouth attached way up yonder asks you to kill it rather than borrow it. Feel free to disregard that request, though, same as you disregard anything else you don't want to hear coming out of it. Besides, it might be lying. Did you feel a hymen break? No? All right, then. Clearly it's okay to go where others have been before you.

    But anal--ah, a man can relate to anal. That's what he'd call rape were he on the receiving end of it, and you know what, I think I'll repent later for wishing right now that Napoli someday finds himself in just exactly that position.

    As bad as you could possibly make it.

    (Via I Blame the Patriarchy.)

    Posted by Ilyka at 03:27 PM | Comments (8)

    March 04, 2006

    Grand Gross-out

    The boyfriend picked up a copy of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City for cheap somewhere a week or so ago. Now I spend all my free time sending a cartoon character voiced by Ray Liotta on random chainsaw massacres. For some reason this relaxes me.

    I am aware that this does not say good things about my character.

    Grand Theft Auto is one of those games I was always meaning to check out but never did. See, there's this game, Mafia, that's supposedly a kind of homage to GTA, and we've had Mafia for forever and have even, I'm a little embarrassed to say, replayed it on occasion. This should be like watching a horse race on video after you already know which horse won it, and yet it isn't. It's a fun little game. The Czech fellows who did it up did a terrific job.

    In Mafia, you're a little taxicab driver in the Prohibition era who gets inadvertently caught up in mob business, eventually joining the family and rising in power and influence within it until, oh no, you're stabbed in the back by another associate, and have to cooperate with the law to save your ass.

    Before that, though, you steal cars a lot, and anyone who says these games don't influence behavior in the slightest is lying, because after a few hours of playing it's impossible to walk through a shopping mall parking lot without thinking, "Ooh--that one! That car would be a good one to steal." Then you catch yourself and you go, "Wait, I don't really steal cars. That's just a game," and you feel like an idiot, and then you thank God or who- or whatever that you were born with the part of your brain that maintains a relationship with reality being in good health, fully functional, because what if you hadn't been? What if you'd been the sort whose brain just skips right over that "just a game" business? You'd probably be down at the mall stealing cars, is what would happen. And wouldn't you be surprised to learn, then, that when your getaway vehicle blows up while running from the cops in real life, you don't get an option to reload and start over.

    I don't like people who get all "slap a ratings system on it" about games, movies, music, etc. But I like even less the ones who protest that it's totally ridiculous even to think a game or a movie or a song could have any influence, because that position is both more ignorant and less honest. Listen, you can have your ultraviolent games and movies, but don't kid yourself that everyone processes them the way you do, you with your incredible maturity and intellect and reality-based existence. Some people, I don't know if you've noticed, aren't always with the rest of the group here on planet Earth, you know?

    But enough; I didn't mean to get into all that. What I wanted to say is that while a game becomes absorbing to me for many reasons, a big one is the extent to which it's able to take me on a little vacation from reality. I'm a huge escapist and a terrible day-dreamer. I'd much rather think about fictional worlds than this one, so it's the construction of these fictional worlds that interests me about gaming--and it's why I don't play a lot of shoot-this-monster, then-this-monster, then-this-OTHER-monster, dungeon-type games--because I don't want to go to those worlds. I mean, ewww, they're all dark and full of monsters; I call that my subconscious, and I don't need a joystick to go there. Yeah, I'm a little girly or whatever you want to call it about the dungeons.

    I sure do love stealing cars, though.

    So the weird thing about this Vice City game is that I think on some level I hate it. It's a convincing little world of its own, sure, but it's a convincing little world in which everyone is a total asshole. The character you play is an asshole. The characters he interacts with are all assholes. No one is remotely sympathetic or likeable. Maybe that's as it should be; it's a game about crime, after all. Maybe it's better crime not be glamorized. I'm sure it's more accurate, anyway. But it leaves me with a faintly creeped-out and depressed feeling after a couple hours of playing it. I keep getting better at driving fast cars and shooting machine guns and, oh yeah, chainsawing people, but it's hard to feel happy about this. There is no one to root for in this game and I loathe it for that.

    As for the misogyny in the game, that could be a whole 'nother post. Did you know if your character picks up a hooker and lets her entertain him, it boosts his health rating 25 points? But it also costs him money. So you know what you can do? Kill her and steal her money, of course, the rancid little slut. Needless to say I don't use this gambit, and in fairness to the game, you're not required to. You could play the whole thing and never pick up a hooker. Still, it bothers me.

    Oh, and to all those "more education will fix this problem" twits out there, a brief complaint: We have had decades now of STD-prevention education in this country, but unless you address the underlying belief some men retain that more sex = more virility = better health, you're just going to keep having problems, because the problem isn't that people don't know unsafe sex with multiple partners is risky behavior, it's that they deep-down don't believe unsafe sex with multiple partners is risky behavior. And that, my little army of Education Is Key soldiers, is where the religious moralists you so despise have the jump on you, believe it or not, because at least they know enough to define this as a belief/values problem, not a "Seriously, you really didn't know that chancre might indicate the presence of syphilis?" problem.

    Bleah. Anyway, that's what I've been doing with my spare time: Wasting it, in clear defiance of my stated goal of becoming a better person. Though, I have read a couple books also . . . novels, even. I'm trying to work up to being able to claim literacy in the English language without feeling like a liar and a fraud. More about those later if I get a chance, but tonight I'm taking a break from the computer and going out for a nice dinner. I bet you I count at least three cars I want to steal on the way.

    Posted by Ilyka at 06:26 PM | Comments (6)