Monday, September 29, 2008

how do i love this? no seriously. someone tell me.

it makes me angrier than i can express when otherwise brilliant people name an anti-anti-abortion position "pro-abortion".

NO ONE IS PRO-ABORTION, PEOPLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

that is sick. and really offensive when people suggest it. like we're picketing maternity wards and trying to convince people to have abortions.

no. we want abortion to remain legal (better, to have it decriminalized) to PROTECT WOMEN'S HEALTH. because that's a good thing.

and when you call it "pro-abortion" and talk about its immorality, don't then say to me, "Oh! but I don't mean you. I don't mean to judge you for having had one."

fuck you. you just did.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

working on the proposal

I know I have told this story before. It is one of my favorites.

Why did you choose to study philosophy?” someone will ask.

Ah!” I will chuckle, “I was an English major for an hour.”

Only an hour?”

I was the first one in the classroom. A seminar room with the tables arranged into a circle. I sat with my back to the windows so I would be sure to pay attention. A literature class. I was so excited. I love literature. Another girl came in and sat across the room from me. Then a friend of hers came in -

Ohmygod! Like, how are you?? Like, I haven't seen you since, like, um, summer started? You look, like, soooooooo good! Like, what did you do?”

Ohmygod!!! Hi!!! Like, I'm, like, good! My summer was, like, super fun! Oh, and my hair? I braided it!! See? It's like, braided!”

Ohmygod!!!!! You like, totally braided your hair! That's, like, soooo cool! You look like, really good, we should, um, like, good shopping or something? That'd be super-neat!”

Then their friends came into the room ...

The professor, when he arrived and began the class, informed us that, as we read the literature he would
assign, we would learn a bit about the philosophical ideas and movements that influenced and informed the novels. That decided it. I didn't need to listen to these girls yammer on. I could study philosophy and read the novels on my own. I already knew I could do that. Yes.

I didn't do that. I ran out of time. I was busy. I didn't pay enough attention. I forgot to connect the two. Now, it is 8 years later and I have not deeply connected philosophy and literature in the ways I intended. My reason (justification?) for studying philosophy in the first place.

How to make up for lost time? Where to begin? A period of time? Which timeline should I use – philosophy or literature? A series of authors? Which – fiction or philosophers? Is it a bit late to want to go back now? Is this just dissertation procrastination? Or might it be important?

Like, it would be, like, soooo super cool if, like, I could totally figure out a, um, dissertation? by reading more fiction? like, even maybe cooler than my new purse and hat? awesome!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

practicing love

am recently confronted by a comment, an idea, a caution which feels very much like an unnecessary - even an unkind - judgment.

what i want to do, what i am trying to do is to remember, to believe that this comment comes from no other place than one of love, is motivated by love.

it doesn't feel like love.

but if i'm going to avoid solipsism, then i need to believe it. 'love believes all things and yet is never deceived'. ok.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

is it so wrong to not want to lots of babies while i'm doing my doctoral work???

contraception is ridiculously stressful.

[and for everyone who wants to tell me to just 'get over it' and 'stop bitching' and 'complaining is stupid' and 'just accept the compromise already', please don't. i get it. it's just still frustrating]

so the combination pill is out:
- associated with cervical dysplasia, which is a condition of which I am trying to be rid
- personally associated with feeling crazy, a feeling i would like to avoid

the mini-pill (progesterone only) is out:
- associated with increased depression. this seems like something to avoid while i write my dissertation
- associated with increased frequency of developing ovarian cysts, a condition to which i am already prone

the iud seems unreasonable:
- mirena = progesterone. see mini-pill
- copper - heavier bleeding, heavier cramps
- both - possibility for puncturing my uterus. ouch.

the male condom:
- possible. not fun. i don't like how they feel
- increased yeast infections on my end (though this is workable)

the diaphragm:
- possible. need to be refit. mine may be too big. uncomfortable to keep in for 6 hours
- less effective than hormonal contraceptives

not under consideration:
- cervical cap, female condom, sponge. no.

so it seems that no matter what i do, i have to be ok with a higher failure rate, with making contraception part of 'sex', with accepting a certain level of stress every month hoping to get my lady time.


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

expanded version of previous post

SWIP conference this past weekend. Good. Interesting. What/who do I want to be? There were women there – who do good work, I have little doubt of that – whom I do not want to become (laying aside all caveats about how I will only ever be me etc.). A woman was talking to/advising one of the younger women there (younger than she, older than me), telling her to stop writing to/for her critics (where the critics are men and/or heteronormative, and/or patriarchal, and/or confused about the idea), to (it seemed) write instead only to other feminists and/or people who already understand her, and/or people who already (at least fundamentally) agree with her. Screw those other ones.


  • I have deep reservations about the possibility for or the ethics of conversion

  • What is terribly interesting about only talking to people who already agree with you?

  • Where does love come in?

  • Where should judgment end?

On the one hand, it may be that we can only convince people of different opinions/views whose fundamental, deep assumptions are significantly aligned with ours: so perhaps I can convince you, a devoted strawberrry ice cream lover to try, and to learn to like, mint chocolate chip; but if you don't even like ice cream at all – if you actually hate it – then I may never be able to so convince you.

  • Difference between conversation and conversion?

  • Continuum/scale: conversion ----- conversation ----- silence ?

An orientation toward the world:

  • fuck everyone who doesn't already love/respect/adore/admire/agree with you?

  • love everyone you see better than you think you are able?

What makes someone a doormat?

  • loving people who hate you?

  • acknowledging that you may be wrong?

  • believing that even 'oppressors' can make good points?

  • looking inward to find harmful attitudes before locating them externally?

  • insisting upon transforming anger into action and then into love?

I don't want to be angry. I don't want to be crusty and crotchety and surly and defensive and terribly intimidating. Does this make me a 'stereotypical woman'? Does this belie my 'feminine orientation'? Have I been too well socialized by the 'system', the 'patriarchy', the 'man'?

I am happy. I feel so healthy and so happy being happy. Does this mean I am coopted? Does this mean I have so internalized my oppression that I am now doing the work of the patriarchy myself?

I have no doubt that the world is not well. I don't consider myself completely blind to the deep wrongs that continually occur all over this globe. Pain and suffering and evil and wickedness and injustice are everywhere. I agree. Is it a condition of being part of movements to change or heal that pain that one must see nothing else? Am I selfish to see beauty and love and generosity and kindness and growth and change as well? Should I refuse to see love 'until the patriarchy is over'? Is that reasonable? Does that work?

Who makes the more 'feminine' sacrifice – the one who loves or the the one who refuses love unless it can be 'perfect'?

Is the desire for and the pleasure in feeling healthy a privilege I have not earned and so do not have the right to enjoy? Ought I to shelve my pleasure until everyone else may also desire health and take pleasure in health? Am I taking an 'every woman for herself' attitude when I laugh while my 'sisters' weep? Must I always weep until weeping ceases?

Monday, September 22, 2008

Presenting at the SWIP conference

does it make me
- bad
- a bad feminist
- non-radical
- anti-revolutionary
- unethical
- selfish
- over-privileged
if I want to
- be happy
- revel in this happiness
- anticipate the possibilities for future happinesses
or if I want to
- focus more on forgetting hurt than remembering it
- see more beauty than ugliness
- be more easily delighted than offended
- spend more time learning to love than in justifying anger


what kind of philosopho-lady will I/can I/ought I be?

Sunday, September 14, 2008

so hungry

but i can't seem to eat anything. all food is unappetizing. very frustrating.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Aschenputtel Revisited. Draft 1

Having finished separating the peas and the lentils from the tray of ashes, she wiped her soot-covered hands across her tear-streaked face, smoothed her apron and, two tins in hand, rose to meet the stepmother. Hearing the clunk-clunk of tiny wooden shoes on the polished floor, the stepmother looked up from her tapestry and took in the scene from the doorway: a filthy, soot-covered girl dressed in smoke- and work-scented rags; heavy shoes on her small feet; bare leg showing through the tattered, nearly transparent scraps of long-ago cast-off clothing. Sooty fingerprints streaked her gray apron and where tears had washed the ash from her face, her fingers had replaced it so that the effect was of black-and-white carnival paint. This creature held in her hands two grimy tins, one of peas the other of lentils.
The stepmother removed her eyeglasses, rose gracefully from her chair, thought of her two daughters still preparing for the evening's festivities.
"What? Finished so soon? You must have taken fresh beans from the pantry!"
Briskly, she took the grimy tins from the bewildered girl's hands and shook the lentils and the peas together again and tossed them back into the hearth where they sank into the thick ashes.
"Now. Separate and clean them and do not mock me."

Sinking back into the ashes, she began again the task she had once completed. Her mind empty of all thought save 'lentil' or 'pea,' still somewhere at the bottom of her being - perhaps as low as her feet - was the promise of the Prince and the sure conviction of certain, soon and complete change.
With numb fingers and trembling hands, she once again approached the smooth, cool stepmother who, by this time, was flanked by her chic (but not pretty) daughters. The rage and hatred rose immediately in the stepmother and as she looked at the girl's reddened gray eyes, she felt her hand fly up to strike her temple. Imagine her surprise when she felt the powdery texture of the girl's hot cheek beneath her clean, long fingers. The girl's response added to the strangeness: she never flinched - not for the blow that was to come, nor for the caress she never expected. All that she could read in those younger gray eyes was resignation, acceptance and hope.
The anger rose again but this time the stepmother had difficulty locating its object. Not this utterly pitiable weak thing in front of her. Not the stupid peas and lentils. A new sensation - shame - flamed her cheeks as she recognized herself as the object of her anger. Forgetting the girl a moment, she took the tins from her cramped fingers and gently set them on the floor. Her daughters, confused and uncomfortable, flanked their mother, eager for the strings of witty abuse with which their mother was sure to soon festoon the girl. With an impatient, angry, terrible look, she dismissed her daughters without even seeing them.

With a brittle iciness, she took the girl's hand and led her to her own dressing room. While her servants drew a fresh, hot bath, the stepmother sat the amazed girl onto a stool of plush silk velvet and began to wipe the tears and the soot from her face with blossom-scented water. Ordering the girl's rags burnt, she eased her into the hot bath and, with gentle hands, cleaned her body with fine soaps and soft clothes. She washed the girl's long and matted hair, untangling every not as she massaged oil into her scalp. When at last the girl was clean, the stepmother dressed her in her very own wedding gown - her first one from her marriage to the father of her girls when she was but a girl herself. From a high shelf she brought down a gilded box never seen by any in the household. The girl's eyes grew wide as the stepmother revealed a pair of shoes made of pure crystal, clear as glass. The stepmother gently eased the girl's feet into the precious shoes and was delighted when they fit her foot perfectly.
In a quiet, halting but gentle voice, she spoke to the girl,
"Go. Fly. A wagon waits in the hall. It is crude - it carries our gourds to the market, but it will take you unseen tot he palace. Dance with the prince. Have this night. The wagon will return at midnight. Do not be late. I cannot answer for you if you are."
Wordlessly, the girl flew down the stairs and into the wagon and to the ball.
The stepmother, finding her daughters already gone without her, took herself to the hazel tree and wept while a pair of turtledoves looked on. Returning home, she struggled to do the girl's usual chores before dragging herself exhausted to bed.

The girl returned home breathless and exhilarated and terrified. Could the Prince love her? Was that she with whom he danced all night? And did she really lose the stepmother's priceless shoe? She carefully removed the rich garments and found waiting for her in a chamber in which the stepmother had indicated earlier a simple but clean, whole and new dress, a sparkling new apron and soft skin slippers. Her heart both full and heavy, she slept dreamlessly and, when she woke, she slowly descended the stairs, dreading the moment the stepmother would learn the slipper was missing.
To her great surprise, the fire was started and breakfast on the table when she arrived downstairs. Two new serving girls attended the family and there was an extra place set.
"Daughter, come take your place!" Her father's voice boomed, casual but with a cautious undertone of joy. The stepsisters traded worried, disgusted glances but said nothing. The girl silently slipped into her seat and allowed herself to be served, remembering, faintly, when this had been the norm.
"Well, sister, surely you know the latest? The Prince danced all night with an unknown princess. It is said he will marry her hte instant he finds her again, though she is fled. All that is left of her is a crystal slipper and he goes house to house to find her mate."
At this, the girl glanced cautiously at the stepmother in whose eyes she read an enigmatic look of wonder and - is it? - pleasure.

A flourish of trumpets and the Prince is in the great room. The stepsisters clamor to try on the shoe, each hoping the be the first. The stepmother slips out of the room for a moment and no one notices. When the first stepsister tries the show, her mother follows her to give her counsel. The shoe fits, though it is just a bit snug. No one would ever see. The stepmother tells her daughter,
"Your toe is cramped. Cut it off. You will not need it when you are queen."
And so by the blood in the shoe does the Prince know she is not his bride.
The second sister tries the shoe. It fit, but it is just a tad snug. No one would ever see. The stepmother tells her daughter,
"Your heel is so wide it will shatter the crystal. Slice it down. You will not need it when you are queen."
And so by the blood in the shoe does the Prince know she is not his bride.
The stepmother returns to the room and, casually, as though she'd rather not say so, reminds the Prince that there is one more daughter and she may as well try the shoe. As the girls steps forward, the stepmother slips the other shoe into her pocket. When she tries on the proffered shoe, she also wears its mate.

Friday, September 12, 2008

and oh. yes. and yes.

and sometimes everything in the universe clicks into place and it is wonderful and you haven't got any words to express just how beautiful it is.

so you go to look at art and then to a festival and then to a craft fair so you can distract yourself from the immense and perfect beauty in the world.

Saturday, September 6, 2008


Reparations can never be made. For those of us agitating for reductions, eliminations in oppressions, injustices it absolutely will not do do hold onto our fear, our outrage, our frustration until after the injustice has ceased. We cannot remain angry until, for example, the patriarchy is over. Having expressed our critique, our pain (to the best of our abilities), it will not do to repeat the litany of complaints like a meditation in reverse, like a prayer of pain and hatred, like a talisman to keep the world at bay. No. Having addressed the world, all that there is left to do is to recognize it, release one's anger and begin the work of loving it.

For me, that can be difficult. Foolish and immature though it is, I (too) often feel that if I do not punish those who hurt me, then they will have 'gotten away with it', that my forgiveness and love will then condone their selfishness or meanness. I know that this is not true but it is difficult to feel that as well.

What does something like feminism look like without anger? What can be the impetus for change? Can love work better than sustained outrage?

This is related to being able to hold simultaneously multiple, not fully compatible kinds of knowledge - acknowledging, for example that, yes, 1 in 4 women will be sexually assaulted while also refusing to see every man as a potential assaulter. Or, acknowledging that there are real, deep and pervasive racisms that can be found everywhere while also intentionally relating to everyone as though they were anti-racism.

Feminism (as have many of the other progressive '-isms') has done an apt job of pointing out grievous wrongs and wounds in our world. We've discussed the difficulty of 'dismantling the master's house' but where have we developed sustained thinking and acting to creating a really new one? To paraphrase Igor Stravinsky (with echoes of Shakespeare), what would be more powerful than love in creating our brave new world, peopled by such people as we would like to become, as we could possibly love?

If we continue to focus on hurt, doesn't that hurt then become our world? This does not mean we can make ourselves blind and therefore not act. Or, we must not then become morally blind and hardened to suffering. But couldn't there be an ethical blindness, one that can (somehow, I certainly don't know how) critically and lovingly recognize wrongs, work to end them without becoming an instrument of them, without becoming an extension - even a critical one - of that pain?

I realize this all doesn't make a lot of sense. I'm okay with that. This is a kind of questioning to which I will be returning, so perhaps in time I can clarify myself. For me, however, it may be that where I am most hurt, I will become most silent.