Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Ten Things To Do Instead of Shopping

Friday is Buy Nothing Day, y'all.

In honor of consuming less, living more, preserving natural resources, reducing waste, and modeling responsible behavior for my kids, I'm avoiding the mall on Friday. Of course, this is easy for me since I don't live near a mall, I don't generally enjoy shopping, and I absolutely cannot stand the "holiday bustle" of retail environments during the holidays. Really, it's just an excuse for people to be irritable and entitled and shitty to the person making their latte. You work in a coffee shop in a mall for three Christmas seasons, and you'll despise it for the rest of your life too. But I digress.

In honor of Buy Nothing Day, I've decided to compile my own list of Ten Things To Do Instead of Shopping. Here we go:
  1. Bake something yummy
  2. Play in the snow
  3. Read some awesome blog posts
  4. Serve lunch at the soup kitchen
  5. Make a sock monkey
  6. Read a book
  7. Play a game with your kids/friends/neighbor/partner/whomever
  8. Sort through your closets and bookshelves and toyboxes, and send unused items to the thrift store
  9. Read the newspaper all the way through while petting the cat who insists on sitting on your lap while you read the paper, and drink your coffee at a leisurely pace because goddammit you don't have to work today
  10. Make homemade holiday decorations.
What did I miss?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Drown the Dolls

In order to prove that I am in fact still alive and able to blog (albeit from under a mountain of work and miscellaneous life stuff I need to deal with), I'm writing a post that basically just asks a question.

I've gotten a couple of emails about this art project: Drown the Dolls. It purports to be a feminist response to our oppressive beauty standard as embodied by Barbie. The artist has created a series of photographs and paintings of Barbies drowning. When I look at the images, though, I don't so much get the message that the beauty standard is being drowned as that images of violence against women - especially attractive women - are both acceptable and visually appealing in our culture. In fact, in most of the images only portions of the doll's body is shown, which is another disturbing feature of our visual culture.

Am I being too sensitive? What's your take on this? Is this a constructive feminist statement or a continuation of a disturbing trend in how we portray the female body?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

How it's done

Dear Mainstream News Media,

In light of your repeated failures when reporting on news stories involving transgender individuals, I would like to bring to your attention a recent story found on a college basketball blog, of all places. The post can be found here. As you read through the story you will notice some things that the author does rather effortlessly:
  1. uses the correct pronouns consistently, all the way through
  2. never refers to the individual's "real" or "actual" sex or gender
  3. recounts the individual's history in a respectful way that situates the person in his relationship with gender without making it salacious or sensationalizing his story
  4. positively notes the respectful way that the individual's school has responded to him
  5. never suggests that the individual has some sort of political or sexual agenda motivating his gender transition
  6. talks about the individual's feelings about his original gender assignment in a straight-forward way that encourages compassion and preserves his dignity.
None of these things appear to have required a superhuman effort on the author's part. None of this required arduous editing and rewriting. Perhaps this is because the author appears to have simply approached the story as if it were about a real human being, deserving of just treatment and human compassion.

I propose that this approach could serve as a model to guide you in your coverage of news stories involving transgender people. Just think of them as humans, and treat them with the kind of respect that you want to be treated with. I promise you, it's not that hard.

Thank you for your time,


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

That about sums it up

My Favorite Election Night Moment: Christine O'Donnell's Concession Speech

Democrat Chris Coons defeated Republican Christine O'Donnell by 18% in the Delaware Senate race, but in her concession speech, she announced "we have won." And you know what? She's right. Well, "we" didn't win anything, but she sure did, which is why even compared to some of the night's victory speech's, O'Donnell's was among the most enthusiastic.

So, what was she so damn happy about? She was happy about winning what matters, duh. O'Donnell received the most news coverage of any candidate in the midterms, quite a feat considering few had heard of her before the primaries and she never posed any kind of serious general election threat. That she received the bulk of that coverage for being a clown doesn't matter either. What matters is, she's a star now.

Book deals, speaking engagements, maybe even a reality show if we all pray loud enough. Those are the rewards that await Christine O'Donnell, and with just a moment of listening to her speech, you know she knows it. Chris Coons might have gotten the most votes, but all he got out of the election is one of the shittiest jobs in the country.

So, congratulations to Christine O'Donnell, the biggest winner of the night.

November 3 at 10:00AM by Matt Tobey over here.