Monday, November 21, 2011

You're Not In Disneyland, So Beware the Mickeys

Today on Facebook a friend of mine posted this:
I wasn't going to share this information but,in concern for all my female friends out there,please, NEVER drink a drink you didnt get from the bartender yourself or a trusted friend to go up and grab it for you.I had 3 shots of tequila on Saturday night...Luckily I had a good friend to take me home,when I got out of the car I was fine-and then,blackness-I cant imagine if I had gone out to smoke like Id wanted,alone.please girls,be mindful of who is around you and who is watching..and who so wants to buy you that "drink"I called ER today ..and I do have all the symptoms of the drug.

She states that she feels incredibly traumatized because even though she came to no real harm (aside from ingesting a chemical substance that made her black out) she's haunted by the fact that someone intended her real harm.

I am posting this as a warning to women. This is what evil people do. They slip mickeys, roofies, or anything else you want to call them into a woman's drink when she's not looking. The intent is to make the woman black out or become so disoriented that she is in no condition to protect herself, say no, cry for help, or fight back while being raped.

I had something similar happen to me about nine years ago. I was in a bar, dancing with my friends. I had set my bottle of beer on a table while I danced. I happened to glance over from the dance floor and saw a man sprinkle something or drop something into my beer. I knew immediately what had happened.

Outraged, I confronted the man. He insisted it was a joke and that he had used poor judgment in his choice of jokes. I demanded to know why he would ever think that such a thing was funny. He insisted it was a bad joke and begged me to forgive him. He offered to buy me a new beer.

I countered his offer: I demanded that he satisfy my paranoia and drink the allegedly doctored beer himself. He refused.

'Nuff said.

About five years ago I went to a party with some friends. One of my friends, my best friend, was the designated driver. While the rest of us drank hard she sipped coca colas all night long. Eventually I went home (with another designated driver). The next day I received a hysterical phone call from my best friend. She said that the previous evening, after I left, she was having one more coke before she left the party and the men she was supposed to transport to their homes slipped something into her soda. She didn't know it. She drank the soda. She blacked out. She has vague memories of a handful of men taking turns sexually assaulting her.  She woke up in a ditch on the side of the road.

These were people for whom she had, as a good samaritan, agreed to provide safe transportation.

I am not going to waste words discussing the aftermath. That is neither here nor there. The point is, if you are out in public, and you are having something to drink (alcoholic or not), protect it. Guard it. Don't ever assume you're safe. Because chances are, you're not.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Happy Holidays Whether You Like It Or Not

Another Christmas season is looming around the corner. Thanksgiving hasn't even hit my doorstep and I've already gotten my first Facebook message telling me that accepting anything less than "Merry Christmas" is sacrilegious and anti-American. It is the first war-cry of the season of the Anti- "Happy Holidays" Hypochristians.

Seriously, why are people allowing themselves to get their panties in a bunch over "Happy Holidays"? The term is a positive good-will wish. It is used by people who have thoughtfulness and courtesy for all world religions. It does not exclude people from a wish of good will due to their religion or lack of a specific religion. In fact it is inclusive, giving full acknowledgment to any and all people.

Which leads me to two points:

1. Why would you want to exclude good people from a wish for happiness simply because they do not share your religious views?

2. How does such an exclusion fit within the parameters of your alleged Christianity? Jesus espoused inclusiveness, no matter a person's background (ethnicity, career, history, religion, family, etc). No one was denied his love, even those who rejected his philosophy.

So stop slamming the Happy in the Holidays just because you have a paranoid delusion that the sentiment is part of some insidious war against Christianity. It's not. It's simply an open-minded wish that acknowledges and respects all people of all (and sometimes no) religious faiths.

Now stop your whining and pull that wedgie out of your butt, it looks painful.

Oh, and here's another blogger who concurs, perhaps more succinctly, with me. His argument is irrefutable:

Friday, September 30, 2011

I Want to Enroll My Son In Asperger's High

Some people may accuse me of picking on people with Asperger's. I live with Asperger's. Asperger's is an uninvited guest who shows up for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and all the places in between every day of every year. I know Asperger's intimitely; its trials, its wonders, and its sense of humor. If you can't recognize humor in your life you're missing the point to living.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Dirty Laundry

Gabe has taken a newfound interest in learning how to take care of himself. He's halfway to seventeen and it's suddenly dawned on him that sooner than later he's going to have to go take on that Big Bad World by himself.

So, in the spirit of independence and maturity, he has taken it upon himself to ask me how to accomplish simple household tasks.

Last week was great. It was "The Week the Boy Wanted to Learn to Cook". And cook he did. Basic things like eggs, grilled cheese sandwiches, and macaroni and cheese.

When Gabe is doing simple day to day activities, such as watching television, feeding the dog, washing dishes, and playing video games, it's easy to forget that he has Asperger's. Then something as simple as the instructions on the mac and cheese box will slam you upside the head, with the brute force of a rubber mallet, to remind you . . . Yes, the Boy has Asperger's! Instructions that seem so simple to me (even a cave man can do it!) become ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics for him. Too many instructions all at once and Gabe's brain starts spinning. It probably didn't help that I, being the control freak that I am, tried to give him more instructions than were on the box: "pour the milk into the measuring cup over the sink because that way, if you spill, you won't pour too much into the pot and you won't make a mess on the counter," "have your strainer ready in the sink while you're waiting for the noodles to boil because that way you won't have to worry about hurrying to do it at the end," "see, the measurements for the butter are posted on the wrapper! Notice how eight tablespoons equal half a cup- but you won't use half a cup today,""be sure to stir the pot occasionally so the noodles don't stick to the bottom." Meanwhile, the Boy was still trying to figure out how to read measuring spoons.

I am still trying to decide if these measuring spoons
 will help him or only make him more confused.

All things considered, I am very proud of him for not having a classic Asperger's meltdown in the middle of all this due to over-stimulation.

It's interesting (and amazing) how people with Asperger's can do things like: tell you every detail of every episode of Spongebob Squarepants (but they can't remember where they put their socks), take apart a broken transistor radio and put it back together better than when it was new (but they can't learn how to ride a bike), recite whole acts of Shakespeare (but not understand the plot of a rated PG-13 movie).

But I digress . . .

So this past weekend the Boy asks me to teach him how to do laundry. Wow! I'm on the bonus plan! This is wonderful! What a great kid!

I have him gather all the laundry and show him how to sort it. Sorting things is one of his favorite past-times, and laundry sorting is just as enjoyable for him as is sorting all his video games (according to year of release, favorite to least favorite, maturity ratings, popularity, educational to simply entertaining, color of packaging, etc). Great! So far so good!

Then I have him place all the dark clothes in the laundry basket and follow me into the laundry room. I have him raise the lid on the washing machine, show him how to measure the laundry detergent, and explain to him why and how you set the washing machine for different types of laundry. Then . . . the Big Moment.

I tell him to turn on the washing machine.

Water begins to pour into the tub.

Gabe's eyes grow large.

I chose this image because: (A) Gabe loves owls and can
tell you anything you ever wanted to know about them; 
and (B) this is pretty much the expression on his face
when the water began pouring into the washing machine.

"Uh, Mom, is that supposed to happen?"

(I'm thinking to myself, "I have done laundry around this boy for years, I know he can sometimes be oblivious to his environment, but surely this is no revelation to him?!")

(I am wrong.)

"Yes, Gabe. How do you think the clothes get clean?"

"But, Mom, won't the water ruin the clothes?"

Ruin? How?

"No, Gabe. The water washes out all the germs and dirt and stains and makes the clothes clean."

Dramatic pause.

"Okay. If you say so."

Yes, Gabe. I say so. Because I have been washing your clothes for almost seventeen years with water and they always, amazingly, seem to come out clean and . . . non-ruined.

We go back to whatever we were doing before we started the laundry (for me this means reading blog posts in Feministe or Pharyngula . . . or, more apropos for this experience, Moms Who Drink and Swear; for Gabe, this means hand counting the number of pages in the book he's about to read before he begins reading it- including those blank pages they put in the front and back of the book).

Eventually, the washing machine finishes its job and I call Gabe back into the laundry room.

"Now you're going to take all the clothes out of the washing machine and place them in the dryer."

"But, Mom, they're wet!"

I do my typical Asperger's Mom's count-to-ten. 

"Yes, Gabe, I understand you have texture issues but you need to get over this. You can't expect other people to do your laundry for you your entire life." (Asperger's people often can't abide certain textures: the feel of paper, cotton balls, seams of clothes, anything damp, or squishy, etc.)

"No, Mom, I don't care that they're wet. I'm just asking . . . um, is it okay to put wet clothes in the dryer?"

Now I do the not-oft employed Asperger's Mom's count-to-twenty (mostly so I don't laugh out loud in front of him).

"Gabe, why wouldn't I put wet clothes in the dryer?"

"Because, um . . . it will break the dryer?"

"Gabe, why do you think this machine is called a 'dryer'?"

He pauses to think.

I do so love these precious moments.

"Oh! That's so cool!"

Then it's on to the discussion about the importance of fabric softener sheets (which turns into a flurry of scientifically based questions regarding static and fabric softness for which I'm hardly qualified to answer). Really, I can't just say, "There are magic static fighting fairies in the fabric softener sheet!" Why not? Because Asperger's kids, though often quite gullible, aren't that gullible. 

The rest of the laundry-doing instruction goes quite well. Folding laundry makes him happy. He loves to sort the clothes based on to whom it belongs, largest pieces to smallest, and color schemes. Oh, happy Gabe.

All bets are off on tidiness and 
symmetry once it reaches his room.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Did I Do That?

Do you know what I like about Blogspot? I like that I can go into my stats and see:
  • How many people are viewing my blog (on a daily, weekly, monthly and all-time basis).
  • What operating systems my viewers are using.
  • How people are arriving at my site.
  • Where these people are located globally.
  • Which blog posts are being read the most.
And most importantly:
  • While searching for information, what keywords people are using that lead them to my site.
So imagine my surprise this morning, while reading my stats, when I discovered what keywords are leading readers to click on my post Transformer 3: Michael Bay's Wet Dream for the Male Masses. Let me tell you, looking back on it, I realize my naivete and I am feeling quite sheepish.

Fortunately, no one used "wet dream" as a keyword to find my site. At least not yet. A little surprising, considering I've set myself up for it in my ignorance. Unfortunately, "leaking pussy" is the champion keyword for a lot of people who found my post.

Never in my wildest dreams (none of them "wet") have I considered writing a piece about "leaking pussy". Yet, somehow, a lot of people who are curious about "leaking pussy" have found me. My only consolation is in imagining their surprise when they actually arrived at my blog and saw that my main content emphasizes feminism. Bwahahahahaaaaa!

I'm sure these pervs would like to imagine that I set them up for it on purpose; that I misled them. In my defense, if you actually look at my labels (or keywords) under the post you will see the following list: . And I am really doubting there are many people who are searching the internet for Transformers-related media under the search term "leaking pussy" (a term I never once used in my actual post).

So if you're one of the pervs who found my page by accident while perusing the internet for slippery squack I have only one thing to say to you: 
I hope you took the time to read through the entire post so that you were able to take in the bit about menstruating robots. Because that's as close as you're going to get to your preferred subject on my blog. Next time be sure, when typing your search words, to include whether or not you're looking for a human vagina as well as what type of fluid discharge you prefer.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Demonizing Daddy and the Alienation Invasion

Today I'm going to write about something much more personal. It's a lightning rod, so put on your big girl panties and brace yourself.

Before I begin:

Disclaimer:  I know that one answer is not always the best, just as I know that not all scenarios are the same. I understand that the issue of which I am about to discuss is multi-faceted and contains many shades of gray. I also understand that a vast number of people have their own story- or side of a story. This is not your story. It's mine. So please do me a favor and don't play devil's advocate. Just . . . listen.

As a long time feminist I have spent a great deal of time and energy snarling at dead-beat dads and demonizing men of divorce-torn families with children as casualties of war in the fight to "win". Yet, simply by existing and living through experience, I have had my eyes opened to my flaws and have learned that not all stories are one-sided, one side can never be always right, and that women can be just as evil as men . . . just as men can be just as innocent as women. Because the truth is, we are all human; flawed, struggling, adapting, and feeling human beings. Gender does not guarantee an ethical standard and stereotypes are dangerous.

That being said, I'm ready to get my gripe on.

I believe I have only mentioned in one previous (and brief) post that I am a stepmother (I am a biological mother as well . . . but that is a different story). My husband dearly loves his children and works hard to make sure they're provided for. We moved to the city in which we now live in order to be closer to his children (we are located within twenty minutes of their home). Yet despite the close proximity we seem to see them less and less every month. Now, three years later, they hardly want to see us at all. They have more important things to do than spend time with daddy.

We have gotten reports from the children that mommy says bad things about daddy, or that when the children say bad things about daddy mommy agrees with them and eggs them on.

We have offered to take care of the children during the summer months while mommy works (during daddy's time off) but they'd rather stay home alone than spend any time with us.

And here's another stinky factor: they think we're boring. Daddy doesn't have a lot of money because he spends a lot of his earnings on child support payments. Not that we're griping. My husband is working 60 hour weeks to make sure his children are provided for and does so gladly . . . But because we can't play SuperDad and take them out shopping, to restaurants, and other entertainment . . . we're boring. We've tried taking them fishing, to free events, making up family entertainment, etc . . . but it's just not the same as it is at Mommy's.

It seems a shame to penalize Daddy for being boring because he's broke when so much of his income goes toward taking care of them. Of course, being children they don't understand that. They just can't make the connection. And trying to explain it to them will only further traumatize minds that are already struggling to come to grips with the reality that Mommy and Daddy are divorced and now who is this crazy lady Daddy married?

So here is the current conundrum: Daddy gets one solid week of summer visitation (as per the Parenting Plan- the Divorced Parent's Bible). The children were busy with camps and other activities from June through July. My husband was promised a wide open August to schedule as he pleased. So we waited. The only thing we pointed out to the biological mother was that our anniversary falls in the middle of August so we wouldn't be available on that particular weekend. The children start school on August 22, which nibbles down the window of opportunity a little.

First of all, at the end of July the mother told us that she'd planned a three day camping trip with the children for the first weekend in August. She offered us a window of opportunity for the one week visitation that fell right in the middle of our anniversary. Okay, I'll play Pollyanna. Maybe she forgot. We were ready to accept a five day visitation so as to avoid squabbling with the kids in the middle. Then, the week before said camping trip, their mother informed us she'd canceled the trip altogether. With great hope, we saw an opportunity to mend the visitation plan and utilize the full seven days promised to my husband. We asked for August 4 through 11. After a week she finally got back to us (but only after we reminded her of our request and that we needed an answer so that we could prepare) and said that would be fine . . . Except that the oldest and youngest child only wanted to stay for three days, not seven.

We tried to be diplomatic, and we wanted to know why only three days. We felt that if they could give us a valid reason then we'd be understanding and supportive. We also asked that the children call their father and discuss it with him. Our motive for this is that we needed to know that this was the children's idea and not their mother's.

So the children called. It turns out that a family friend was supposed to visit the same week and the children didn't want to miss out. Understandable. These things happen. What if Daddy agreed to take you home (on his way to work, at 7a.m.) and leave you there all day so you can visit this family friend and then pick you up on his way home from work (7p.m.)? Would that be a reasonable compromise. Ummmmm..... uhhhhhh..... nooooooo. Oh, and by the way, stepmom is boring.

So this is the dilemma: children don't always know what's best for them. If we didn't MAKE them brush their teeth, do their homework, and go to school most of them wouldn't. Sure, spending time with Daddy may seem boring now but fostering a bond and a relationship is more important than spending a few days with a family friend you only see about once a year. So do we MAKE them stay the whole seven days? Is it REALLY for their own good? Because if they're here and they're sulky and they feel forced into it that sends a negative message. But if we give up any more time than we already have and continue to allow their mother to alienate us with her games and negative comments isn't that also fostering a negative relationship? Do we let them get away with being selfish only to lose quality time with them and perhaps have them think that we only let them do what they want simply because we don't care about them? Do we let their mother get away with continuing to put us in a position where no matter what we do we are always the bad guys or do we put our foot down, which only compounds the children's belief that we're picking on their mommy? I don't know. There is no easy answer.

And to make matters more convoluted: we just found out today that this family friend changed their plans and is, in fact, not coming at all. The children's mother knew this all along. Did she mislead them? Did the children know? Do we call the children on it and ask them if they have changed their minds?  Or does doing so only make them feel more pressured? Or do we teach them accountability by encouraging them to be honest about their feelings?

Okay, I'm done whining. I'll put my big girl panties on . . . one leg at a time.

In the meantime, parental alienation is a real and present danger to children caught up in the middle of a divorce and/or the aftermath of divorce. If you are a separated or divorced parent please take a moment to participate in the following quiz to find out if you are an alienator:

Am I a Parental Alienator? 

Please answer unconditionally, YES or NO

1.  Have I ever criticized or spoken negatively about the other parent or his/her family or friends in front of my child or where the child can hear me?
2.  Have I ever forced my child to choose between loving the other parent and me?
3.  Do I talk about child support, money, or legal issues in front of my child?
4.  Do I ever limit time with the other parent because I feel I am the best parent?
5.  Do I ask the child to keep secrets, lie or hide things from the other parent?
6.  Do I pump my child to get detailed information of where they go and what they do when they are with the other parent?
7.  Do I ever prevent the child from speaking with the other parent by blocking phone messages, not returning phone calls, erasing email messages, not giving them mail or gifts?
8.  Do I interrupt the child’s time with the other parent by calling too much or planning activities during their time together?
9.  Do I deny my child the right to spend the designated time with the other parent?
10.  Have I ever sabotaged any activity that my child is doing with the other parent?
11.  Do I encourage my child to blame the other parent or to choose sides?
12.  Do I use my child as a therapist or my special friend to share my deep and upsetting emotions?
13.  Do I let my child know that I feel badly when he/she has a good time with the other parent?
14.  Do I ask my child to spy for me while with the other parent?
15.  Do I ever instill guilt, pressure, or rejection of the other parent in my child?
16.  Do I make a contest of how much love, care, and attention the child gives to the other parent and his or her family and friends versus how much attention I receive?
17.  Have you ever made false accusations, such as implying drug abuse or inappropriate sexual behavior to the police or Department of Child and Family Services?
18.  Do I stop my child from expressing his/her feelings whether I agree with them or not? (e.g., love, happiness, excitement, anger, fear, sadness)

"If you answered "YES" to any of these questions, you need to evaluate to what extent you are engaging in parental alienation. Children need to be free to love both parents. If you don’t like the other parent or feel that they are inappropriate for your child, you need to solve the problem without resorting to destroying that child’s relationship with this parent. Your child can make up his or her own mind about how much they love or even like the other parent without being unduly influenced by you. Obsessed parent alienators will stop at nothing to damage or even
severe a child’s relationship with a parent. This is a serious form of child abuse where a child is not allowed to have loving feelings for his parent, or his or her extended family and friends. These people represent half of the child’s heritage. Most parents "slip up" once in a while, however, parents who really care about their child’s best interest will do all they can to keep their child out of the middle and allow them to love both parents."
To know more about the above quiz and/or other information regarding PAS, please visit the following link:   Major Family Services *
Here is another link to an excellent website offering more information about what parental alienation is,  how it happens, the motives and "logic" (or lack thereof) of the alienating parent, what to expect from the courts and child support services, and how alienated parents can cope:   Parents Who Have Successfully Fought Parental Alienation Syndrome *

* I am in no way marketing or encouraging the purchase of any products that may be offered for sale on the links I have provided. I have provided the links because I feel that they offer some helpful information about Parental Alienation Syndrome.

August 3 update: The oldest child now states that she wants to take a babysitting job that will keep her busy from Monday through Wednesday. The cynical part of me says, "Isn't that convenient now that she doesn't have the 'friend coming to visit' excuse?" The exasperated part of me leans more toward, "Oh hell, if she doesn't want to come then why make her?" Then there's the principled part of me, "I will not give up. We are fighting for our family here."
Sometimes I wonder who is more stuck in the middle of this tug-of-war: me and my husband or the children? A sneaky little voice in the back of my head reminds me, "The children."

Be Careful What You Ask For

It is a common predicament of mine to be asked, "Why are you a feminist?"

Yes, I said "predicament". No one gets asked why they are female/male, why they breathe, why they brush their teeth, or why they want (and expect) to be treated justly. So it's a predicament because it's a loaded question. No one I've met ever really asks me just because they want to hear my answer. Mostly they already have a retort lined up and are asking the question as a launching pad to hammer me with their own opinion. I suppose it's human nature though. So many of us ask questions not because we seek the truth but because we have an answer of our own that is more important to us than what anyone else has to say.

I dream of a day when people ask questions because they honestly want to stop, listen, and appreciate a good answer.

There used to be a time when I looked forward to being asked this question. I saw it as my opportunity to enlighten people. I saw it as a doorway in which I could open their minds in a way in which I was an invited guest, rather than forcing my ideals and objectives on others; however, I now know better.

"Why are you a feminist?" is a question that does not fill me with hope that my dream will one day come true. Because, truly, most people are not prepared for the answer (whether they really wanted to know, or because they didn't realize the magnitude of what they were asking, or because they're too focused on their own motive to conscientiously listen to my response). Asking, "Why are you a feminist?" is a little like asking, "Why do we exist?"; it's difficult to deliver a short and concise answer that will fit into the typical human attention span. And it's usually conjoined with questions to the effect of, "Why do we still need the feminist movement?"

People ask, thoughtlessly, without realizing what they're asking for. So when my answer passes the three-minute mark, and eyes start glazing over, I become (to their way of thinking) the fanatic ranter, the hysterical femi-nazi.

Thus, I want to burn several CDs of this presentation and just keep oodles of them on hand for random "Why are you a feminist?" encounters. I'll hand people the CD and ask them to watch this presentation at a time that is convenient to them, and they shall have all the answers they require:

Then again, who am I kidding? No one will ever give this presentation a chance as long as re-runs of Jersey Shore are still being aired on cable TV.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Transformers 3: Michael Bay's Wet Dream for the Male Masses

It's no surprise to anyone that Michael Bay makes misogynistic movies. So I'm not going to waste everyone's time trying to explain why. I'm not his mommy and it's not my job to teach him better (but I wouldn't mind volunteering).

I went to see Transformers 3 with a good friend of mine and her seven year old son. After leaving the theatre I had the strong temptation to sit the boy down and have a long talk with him about women's worth as human beings (rather than as objects of sex, malice and/or disdain). Is it too early to teach him how to spell misogyny? I also wanted to teach him that women do have the power and ability to save themselves and that, while it is always cool to step in and save a woman who has run out of self-saving options, he should never ever assume that a woman doesn't have any ability to save herself if she does indeed require saving. Also, the sharing of weapons with a woman while in the midst of a worldwide take-over by Decepticons is a thoughtful way to let her know that you think she matters.

The first thing I noticed about this movie was that there weren't a lot of women in it. The few women they had sprinkled throughout the early scenes as extras were all hot. One got in trouble for dressing as a hoochie mama at work. Damn her for being sexy and distracting these men from their "very important jobs". Another got in trouble for using a red coffee cup on the yellow floor (each floor of the building was apparently color coded). Upon being chastised for her poor choice of self-expression she fled the room in tears. Apparently Michael Bay doesn't get about much in the real world, where such abuse would have garnered him a red coffee mug imbedded in his skull. Or maybe that's the whole point: Michael Bay is obviously trying to portray a fantasy world where men rule (and drool) and women are either pains in the ass or else just gratuitous juicy ass.

There was a very small handful of women who were allowed to have "pivotal" roles in the film. I'm still trying to figure this part out as it didn't seem to matter if any of these women lived or died- one way or the other the men would still save the world from alien robots sporting themselves as super-charged vehicles made to buck up a man's small-cocked ego.

Only one "pivotal" character was allowed to be hot:  Carly Spencer, played by Rosie Huntington-Whitely, who was chosen for her impressive acting experience oops because she's a Victoria's Secret model oops. Let me try again: who was chosen because of her long gams, quarter-bouncing worthy ass, and a mouth that men believe is begging to suck on something (despite the fact that the lips don't actually ever say any such thing). Funny how her employer gives her a $200,000 car and she sees no problem with it. When her boyfriend (that goober LeBeouf) has a fit about it he's just being silly, in her honest opinion. It's obvious what a good employee she is and of course she deserves this car and has earned it honestly. It couldn't have anything to do with the fact that she's a Victoria's Secret model who's wardrobe requires her to vaseline her body before she gets dressed. Besides, we all know lots of people who have been gifted a Mercedes SLS-AMG by their employer simply for doing their job. Right?

So how was Rosie's character pivotal? It's quite simple. The bad guys threatened to disfigure her face. Thus, LeBeouf has no other choice but to compromise the existence of the entire human race just to save that pretty, lip smackin' face.

But I will give Huntington-Whitely kudos for a job well done: it is hard to be a damsel-in-distress, being shot at and falling out of toppling skyscrapers and still manage to keep your make-up, hair, and wardrobe impeccable throughout. Bravo, HW, bravo!

Believe it or not there were two other pivotal females in the film: LeBeouf's mother, who is a post-menopausal nitwit who just doesn't listen and has only two brain cells: one that blinks on and off while the other one runs around it in circles, yapping. I use the term "pivotal" very lightly. I can't see either way why she's important to the plot except that Bay needs to flesh out how sucky LeBeouf's life is because, ya know, having an Autobot as a best friend and a Victoria's Secret model as a girlfriend is just not enough to make a man happy.

The other female is the iconoclastic Frances McDormand, who must have a rather large skeleton in her closet or else Bay kidnapped a cherished loved one in order to blackmail her into being a part of this puke of a film. Her character is obviously pivotal because what would a movie like this be without a battle-ax to add angst? Don't worry, though. She gets hers in the end when she is yanked into a kiss against her will. Hey, it's the closest Bay can come to anything rapey and not get slapped on the wrist. Cuz we all know that battle-axes are just sexually frustrated women who can be fixed simply by forcing sex on them. Thank goddess for men like Bay for recognizing this, otherwise the world would be in much more dire straights than could ever be possible by a mere Decepticon invasion.

The coup de grace? When HW's character basically tells Megatron he's a pussy if he doesn't get up and fight. Oh what crafty female sorcery is this? Hey, wait . . . does this mean that ultimately it was a woman who saved the world?

The only thing the movie really lacked to complete Bay's misogynist fantasy would be a terrifyingly powerful female Decepticon leaking transmission fluid from her undercarriage. And for that I'm truly disappointed.

Does Kotex make a pad for this?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A Different Philosophy

It's always an interesting ride in Gabe-Land for me.

He sees things differently. He thinks differently. He reacts differently. And he's crazy-smart when he needs to be.

It's the crazy-smart that makes it difficult to teach him morals, personal accountability, and responsibility.

Case in point:

I got a phone call from his school one day saying that he was being difficult and needed to come home. They were suspending him for a day for having skipped a class.

When I got him home I asked him, "Gabe, your teacher said that you refused to report to your 2nd block class. WHY????"

"Mom," He replied, exasperated, "She's lying!"

"Gabe, why would your teacher lie to me?!"

"But, Mom, I didn't refuse to go to class . . . I chose not to go."

It's always difficult to discipline your kid when half your brain wants to paddle blisters into his butt while the other half of your brain is saying, "That's a freaking brilliant kid!"

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Shut Up and Drive

Danica Patrick:  Men cannot seem to discern whether she's a driver or a hood ornament. After doing some research I can't say that I blame them for their confusion. It's hard to take this seriously:

Not that I have anything against women glorifying their feminine aspect, but in some arenas it just causes more trouble than it's worth, especially if that arena is historically  a "No Girls Allowed" venue.  Besides, photos like this aren't about glorifying the Beauty That is Woman; photos (like this) are about selling your body for acceptance in the Mens' Club. And once you've done that you've nullified any attempt at being taken seriously by men.

That being said, please don't assume that I'm victim blaming. Nothing can be further from the truth. It's just frustrating to see women set themselves up for the label.

The victim blaming I'm alluding to is connected to an incident that happened within the last month where Danica was forced off the track by another (over-zealous) driver. I don't typically watch NASCAR but my husband watches it from time to time and on the morning after the afore-mentioned event he happened to be watching a sports report while I was still asleep. What woke me up was hearing the words (something to the effect of), "That's not ladylike behavior." I perked up instantly. What? What did she do? To my amazement her unladylike gaff was committed when she stood at the side of the track, while all the other drivers blew by, raising her hands in supplication and frustration at the driver who had knocked her off the track. Really? She didn't flip him the bird? She didn't moon him? She didn't scream and yell and toss out curse words with the linguistic dexterity of a sailor? Exhibiting frustration through arms extended is now considered unladylike.

At this point I want to take you back several years to my childhood. Despite what my children will say, we will not go back to when dinosaurs roamed the Earth. The year is 1982 and I am [omitted for my vanity] years old. I am riding around the neighborhood on my brand new ten speed. A group of five teenage boys block my path and start verbally harassing me. I give back as good as I get. Apparently I say something pretty stimulating because all five boys jump me, knock me to the ground, kick me around a bit, and steal my bike. I limp on home in a fit of rage. Immediately my parents ask where my bike has gone. I tell them my story, not withholding my responses to the boys' verbal insults. My parents call the police. Witnesses are able to identify the boys and soon the police arrive at the "lead" boy's house. About forty-five minutes elapse before a police officer returns to our house. He says to my parents, "We have her bike but we're not willing to give it back until she apologizes to those boys. Apparently she used some very unladylike language with them and they say that if she had kept her mouth shut they wouldn't have attacked her and taken her bike." There is more to this story, but it's all peripheral after that, so you get the point. (I would, however, like to use this moment to give an accolade to my mother, who demonstrated to the police officer where I received my education in "unladylike langauge".)

Victim blaming: If I had remained "ladylike" in the face of ungentlemanly behavior I wouldn't have been assaulted and my bike taken from me. 
So when Danica Patrick does this: 

. . . it's difficult for men to remember that she also does this:

. . . and having proven thus, is justified in her behavior when she does this:

Never mind that Truex admitted he'd screwed up and it was his fault. Never mind that he apologized. None of that matters. Because Danica Patrick is this in the minds of NASCAR fans:

So instead of sympathy she gets this:  Danica Patrick Complains Too Much. And no one likes a woman who complains. Ahem.

I found a plethora of articles about male NASCAR drivers who act like complete buffoons. For example: Boys Will Be Boys. Maybe if Danica had done like Busch, and claimed First Amendment Rights, she wouldn't have created such a scandal . . . Okay, who am I kidding?

This whole debacle brings to mind Immanuel Kant (who makes me want to barf at the mere mention of his name): 
If vanity is a fault that in a woman much merits excuse, a haughty bearing is not only as reproachable in her as in people in general, but completely  disfigures the character of her sex. For this quality is exceedingly stupid and ugly, and is set completely in opposition to her captivating, modest charms.
To Kant's way of thinking, women are meant to be a pretty diversion for men, who require to be distracted from the burden of serious thought and responsibility. If a woman tries to be anything other or more than vacuous and pretty she is haughty and therefore must be rejected. Patrick bought into it by posing like this:  
. . . and is now seen as haughty and unbearable. She complains too much. She is not being agreeable or charming. And now she's paying the price by not being taken seriously. 

Please remember, I'm not victim blaming. Consider the words of Simone de Beauvoir: 
Woman is determined not by her hormones or by mysterious instincts, but by the manner in which her body and her relation to the world are modified through the action of others than herself.
I'm not necessarily suggesting that Patrick was wrong to show off her "assets". She should be allowed to express herself in any way she sees fit. I guess what I'm inferring is that our social system is so damned screwed up that most people just can't look past the bikini to see the complex being that exists within it's teeny-tiny strings. 

And to all those men who vilified Patrick as "unladylike", who feel that she has no business in a "man's sport": 
No one is more arrogant toward women, more aggressive or scornful, than the man who is anxious about his virility. ~Simone de Beauvoir

God of Gaps

This morning I went through my usual internet routine:
1.  Check e-mail 
2.  Peek at (with one wary eye) my checking account balance
3. Update my Facebook status (because if I don't the world will implode)
4. Check out the current weather forecast
5. Make myself current on leading local, national and international news
6. (Favorite part of my internet activities) read new posts from my favorite blogs

Number six is the crucial purpose for my blog post today because it is all about Pharyngula's account of the debate between Lawrence Krauss and William Lane Craig. Particularly of interest to me was number THREE of Krauss's refutal of Craig's five arguments, in which Craig asserts " . . . that the existence of absolute morality gives evidence for God." (As an aside, I must ask where evidence of this "absolute morality" exists, as I've seen no proof of it in the history of Humankind.)

Once again, Christians put the cart before the horse. They rely on the old, "what came first, the chicken or the egg" argument in an effort to find proof for God's presumed existence. Hence the title of this blog post, a most apropos term coined by Krauss himself. Where ever Christians find a vacuum in their assertions, theories, and philosophies regarding the existence of God, rather than using logic to recognize that the existence of the vacuum as proof that there are flaws in the afore mentioned arguments and assertions, they instead claim that this vacuum, this absence of empirical data, is proof that God does indeed exist.  So, in a nutshell, what cannot be observed or understood, measured, or qualified is God. 

And in a strange reversal of logic (perhaps the crux of my argument that Christians don't have any) Christians expect Atheists to prove the non-existence of God by use of empirical data. In other words, we are expected to observe, understand, measure and qualify the absence of the God of Gaps.

Throughout history people have used superstition to explain that which was not understood; however, as humans have begun to understand the scientific mechanisms of nature we have left those superstitions by the wayside. Otherwise, we'd still be burning "witches" at the stake. 

But I digress. 

The reason I find Craig's "Argument Number Three" of interest is due to his assertion that God is the bastion of "absolute morality". How can that be? I will not get into the circular arguments of:
1.  Humans are imperfect in their interpretation of God's will
2. God tests us 
3. God puts strife and sorrow and horrors in our path to teach us Important Moral Lessons
4. Etc., ad nauseam [insert circular argument of your choice here]
Instead I will point out a flaw in the argument that God has morals and point out how the Christian belief of God as Moral Compass is another example of Cart-Before-Horse Syndrome.

My argument is grounded in the theory of morality as a product of the evolution of empathy. To understand the nature-and-nurture process of empathy, please watch this cute little video:

One Human Race

According to the New Testament (or at least according to those who claim the New Testament as proof) God is the God of Compassion, Kindness and Love. Yet, how can that be when there is no other like Him? All powerful (omnipotent), all knowing (omniscient), ever-present (omnipresent) (but especially in the gaps). In other words, not-human. The core value of morality is empathy. Empathy is derived from a connectivity between human beings individually, or as an ethnicity, as a gender, as a nation, as a species, etc.. Despite our vast array of differences and all that makes us individually us, we have identifiers that help us to connect and feel compassion for those with whom we relate. 

So how does God relate to us in any way? Because he is our Father? God doesn't have a father, so how would He connect with that assertion? Because we are His creation? That's a treacherous slope to slide on, for even children create things (such as sand castles) and then destroy them, simply because it is amusing. Children feel no connection or bond to sand castles; it's simply something to do rather than be bored. 

If we are "other" in God's eyes then we are alien to Him (and vice versa!). As human beings we tend to reject that which we do not understand, we reject strangers (those whom we classify as "other"). It is human instinct. It's a safety measure. So even if God created us in His image it doesn't mean a damned thing because we are still different in all the important ways: we are not omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent. We and God are strangers to each other.

Due to His aspect as the Ultimate Cosmic Power, it is in our hands (and in our desire) to connect with Him, not vice versa. That connection offers us comfort because it makes us feel safe in the hands of what could possibly (and probably) be an all-powerful tyrant. After all, why should He be bothered? Creating the myth of Jesus gives humans the ability to feel that connection. It protects us from having to consider the mind-boggling aspect of an U.C.P., cold, distant, different, and unconnected, indifferent to human feeling. Which proves to me that humans created God in Their image, not the other way around. And human beings, flawed as we are, have no concept of "absolute morality" because morality is that which we prescribe depending on with whom we connect.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Apparently I'm a Sadist

Holy smokes! I have been so good about adhering to my gluten-free diet. It is so refreshing to not be a slave to my colon. (Did I say that out loud?) No more daily gut pains, no more tactically staking out restrooms every time I leave the house. I have dropped my title and duties as the  Porcelain Convenience Warmer. Aaaaaaaaaaah! Why, I feel positively normal.

So why did I do it? Why did I cheat? I have so many excuses . . . and that's all they are: excuses. Humans have a funny way of forgetting pain and trauma once they've been far enough removed from it via time. Therefore, it all comes down to this: I was feeling great, we had a lot of upheavals happening all at once (albeit positive upheavals), I slacked on my discipline in exchange for convenience, I caved to wanton desire . . . and for almost an entire week I ate foods that most definitely were NOT classified gluten-free (flour tortillas, pizza, lasagna, cake . . . Oh good grief, I don't want to admit to any more contraband due to an intense feeling of shame and embarrassment.).

And what happened? My gut tightened up. I started having horrible stomach pains. I started visiting the bathroom with ridiculous frequency. I had to get up two or three times a night just to let the toilet know how much I appreciated its existence. I had to cancel a walking date with my poor little doggy because I couldn't be separated from the bathroom for more than five minutes.

I am disgraced. I am ashamed. I am regretful. I am penitent. I am back on the bandwagon. Because I'm tired of squeezing the Charmin'. 

Sunday, March 20, 2011

I Got a Virus, and Not the Internet Variety

I'm just making a little post to apologize for the long lapse between posts and the fact that I haven't posted anything under the Gluten-Free Zone or Monday Media Blitz for weeks.

I have spent the good part of three weeks over-coming a virus. Not sure what I had but it was definitely a strain of influenza. I am not a selfish person so I was very successful in sharing it with both my husband and my son. Ugh.

At any rate, I'm all better now, so let the blog roll!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

One Human Race

I was overjoyed to watch this video clip today. Finally, an informative (and dare I say entertaining) illustration of how empathy works.

Having taken countless college-level courses on the subjects of anthropology, sociology, philosophy, biology, and so many other -oligies there wasn't anything in the clip that surprised me. My problem has never been with my understanding of the mechanisms of empathy, rather it has always been in trying to explain to others, in two minutes or less, what took me hundreds of hours of -ologies to learn. 

Here is my major frustration when trying to explain empathy: I am an atheist. Compounding this frustration is the fact that I live in the South. Living in the South is like living in the Dark Ages. Southerners, for the most part, are an ignorant bunch. Now I realize this was a strong statement but please hear me out. The high poverty level, deplorable national ranking in education and central location in the Bible Belt combined with a cultural aversion to change has made the South stagnate. They reproduce their own ignorance and, quite frankly, those who hold power in the South (the politicians, the corporations, and fundamental Christian fanatics) like it that way. Those who are under the hold of these powerful bastions of greed are not fed enough daylight with which to see their way out of the darkness. It is sad, really. I have lived all over the world and have never seen so much rampant ignorance in my life.

So I go about my atheist way, minding my own business (for the most part- after all, I'm merely human), and trying to lead by example. Yet I find myself in the same experience time and time again: someone I have known for an extended period of time (a Southerner) comes to the realization that I am an atheist. They recoil in horror.

They say they will pray for me. Then they ask me that magical question which makes me cringe: 

But . . . but . . . how do you live without morals?

Really? Religion has a monopoly on morals?

The first few times I was asked this question I was giddy with the opportunity to help enlighten someone else's intellect. I believed I was about to share knowledge. I did not answer defensively, nor did I go on the offense, I merely tried to explain myself as simply as possible in the hopes that I was planting a seed of understanding in the world.

Silly me, I am in the South. After several attempts to explain how empathy is the driving force of my moral character, that I follow the Golden Rule and treat the world as I would like to be treated, I learned to just shut up and walk away. (As a side note, I sometimes have the subversive desire to tell these people that I sacrifice black cats during a full moon and fornicate with my dog; but I realize that is just my rage and frustration talking and I need to leave those feelings behind me or else I become that which these people believe me to be. Sometimes I hate being an empathetic being.)

Back to where I learned to just shut up and walk away. The reason I have learned to jsuawa is that they do not listen. They are stuck on "atheist" and their minds are too busy coping with the fact that I "deceived" them for so long. (All Southerners assume everyone else is Christian too because, you know, Jews and Muslims and Atheists and other -ists are so easy to spot. You know, they have big noses and beady eyes, or wear a burqa, or have the number 666 tattooed on their foreheads.) They are horrified to realize that they have accepted me in their sphere of gospel-y goodness and are frantically trying to figure out how they missed the signs

It saddens me to hear so many times, from people who proclaim themselves to be devout Christians, that I cannot possibly have morals if I do not believe in God. Explaining that I believe in the Golden Rule has done more damage to my argument than good. They immediately point out that the Golden Rule is basically the Ten Commandments and that if it were not for God I would not have ever been exposed to the Golden Rule. Trying to remind them that there were other world religions long before Christianity ever hit the globe and that the basic tenets of most world religions are comparable does not even make a dent in their gray matter. Trying to explain that empathy is a cultural and biological phenomenon is the same as trying to communicate with them in Swahili. 

What saddens me the most, however, are the people who tell me that they behave morally so they can go to Heaven. Do you know why I behave morally (using the term loosely, of course, because morals tend to have a variable culture-to-culture construct)? I behave morally because it is the right thing to do. I behave morally in the hopes of a more peaceful existence on a planet torn apart by hatred, greed, fear and ignorance. I believe in a reward here on Earth. I believe the reward is a gift and the gift is this life. In the eyes of these people though, people who are blinded by their own ignorance, that is not enough. They have been told, and so believe, that the reward is Heaven. In other words, they do not behave morally for the sake of being moral, they do so for a reward. In their minds, and hearts, they honestly believe that without that Heavenly reward, there is no point to having morals. Absolutely tragic. 

And what about all the wars waged in the name of religion? What about all those religious leaders who have been exposed as frauds? What about the fractious behavior of a Catholic Church that is rife with pedophilia? What about all those anti-abortion fanatics who murder in the name of stopping "murder"? Why should I believe in any religion when none of the world's religions have offered me anything but hypocrisy?

So maybe, just maybe, whether or not one believes in a higher being (or beings), we can all embrace our Homopathic tendencies and accept each other for what we are: one human race. 

This life is a gift. Every day is a gift. My loved ones are gifts. I am not greedy so I will leave Heaven for those who think they need it in order to lead an ethical life. 

Peace out.