Friday, March 30, 2007

More reasons why I hate Lebron James

He is not a savior to our city. He is a asshole chauvinist and a classist, land-sucking, new money idiot.

Seriously, he is on his way to proving that prejudicial notion that Black men are only successful when they play sports or rap. And once they are, they screw only white women and build tacky homes that bona fide (read: old money) wealthy people would never live in. I can't wait for the horrifying MTV Cribs special.

If I had a million dollars....

Slate directed me to an op-ed piece in today's NYT that features a great chart detailing line items in our glorious House and Senate's proposed budget. Some excerpts:

$100 million for GOP and Donkey national conventions
compared to
$25 million for Safe and Drug Free Schools Program

$2 million for Ugandan peace process
compared to
$3.5 million for guided tours of the Capitol
compared to
$214 million for Kosovo assistance

$74 million for peanut storage
compared to
$4 million for the Office of Women's Health
compared to
$5 million for the breeding, feeding and transporting of live fish

$500 million for emergency wildfire suppression
compared to
$400 million for rural schools

And don't worry, Milk Contact Loss Program, you're getting $283 million dollars if the House gets its way!

Besides the troop withdrawal deadline debate, I suspect there will some filibustering around this little diddy: "Allow transfer of funds from holiday ornament sales in the Senate gift shop", which is a line item all by itself.

For more taxpayer money wasting, see this awesome post by Sir Timothy.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Fashion Victim

In a face-off between feminists and fashionistas, NOW's recent e-newsletter patted itself on the back for their work in getting D&G to pull this ad. They called it "stylized gang-rape".

Spain and members of the Italian parliment agreed. Actually if you go here, you can see all kinds of ads that have been labeled offensive to women. D&G designers said the ad reflected "an erotic dream, or a sexual game." I think NOW is asking, if it is a sexual game, who is making the rules in this pic, and if it is a fantasy, in who's head is it playing?

I have to admit that sexism in ads is ever-present, but I also have to admit that the advert is hot. The Moxster wishes she had erotic dreams like this because sleep would be all the more pleasureable.

How can we find a safe line between sexy and sexist?

Players' nonchalance a sign of progress

Female ump to work MLB exhibition game
By BEN WALKER, AP Baseball Writer Tue Mar 27, 5:11 PM ET

A rookie fresh from the minors is about to change the face of baseball: A female umpire is set to work a major league exhibition game for the first time in almost 20 years.

Ria Cortesio, ready to start the season in Double-A, will be on the bases Thursday for a game between the Arizona Diamondbacks and Chicago Cubs in Mesa, Ariz.

"I'm looking forward to it," she said Monday night. "There will be a lot more people in the stands than I'm used to."

No female umpire has ever worked in the majors during the regular season. Pam Postema was the last woman ump to call big league exhibitions, back in 1989 — she was in spring training for two years before getting released.

Cortesio is the only female umpire in professional baseball. At 30, she is starting her ninth year overall and fifth in Double-A.

Slender and athletic, she cut her ponytail a few years ago so she wouldn't stand out on the field. She also uses a low grunt to call strikes.

"It's awesome," Cubs star Derrek Lee said. "I think it's about time. Female eyes are as good as male eyes. Why can't they be umpires? Good for her."

Triple-A and Double-A umpires routinely join major league crews in spring training, especially when extra games fill the schedule.

"I was kind of expecting it," Cortesio said. "Umpires with my seniority usually get picked."
Cortesio has been working minor league exhibition games in Arizona this month. This week, she'll move over to HoHoKam Park when a Diamondbacks split squad plays Chicago.
Cubs reliever Scott Eyre liked the idea.

"She's doing our game? Oh, cool," he said. "How do I feel about it? I could care less. If she can call a game, she can call a game."

"If she rings somebody up for me, I don't care. You know what I mean? I wouldn't have a problem with it," he said.

Cortesio was on a big league field last season for All-Star festivities at PNC Park in Pittsburgh. She called the Futures Game for minor league prospects, then worked the Home Run Derby the next night.

Cortesio started her umpiring career in the Pioneer League, yet doesn't trumpet herself as a pioneer in a profession dominated by men.

"I don't do this job to get on TV," she said last July. "But I hope it will raise the awareness a little."

She later worked in the Florida State League. There, New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner once criticized her strike zone after she worked a game that Roger Clemens pitched while recuperating from an injury.

For several years, she's been an instructor at the Jim Evans Academy of Professional Umpiring.
This year, Cortesio hopes to move to Triple-A — she's on deck for promotion when the next vacancy occurs. Once umpires reach Triple-A, they are evaluated by major league supervisors, rather than minor league staff.

Life in Double-A isn't luxurious. Last year, she made about $2,600 a month for the six-month season and her per diem was $25, with her hotel room paid for; big league umps can earn well over $100,000 and get $357 daily to pay for their meals and hotel.
Plus, there's the travel. Major league umpires jet around the country, a three-person crew in the Southern League drives itself 24,000 miles over a full season.

All that, and no guarantee they'll ever make the majors because jobs rarely open up. Fact is, a player in Double-A has a much better chance of reaching the big leagues than an umpire.
Mike Winters will lead Cortesio's crew Thursday. It'll mark the first time she's worked a game with a major league umpire.

"I think I'm as excited about that as anything," she said.
AP Sports Writer Rick Gano in Tempe, Ariz., contributed to this report

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Stuff I think about #5

Lady bosses are crazy.

One liked to do donuts in parking lots while driving her '86 Oldsmobile.
One raises chickens in her backyard.
One was caught taking a big poop in a Rocknes' restaurant bathroom.
One is dating my ex's ex.
One is buying a red motorcycle to match her nails.

Stuff I think about #4

First Elizabeth Edwards, now Tony Snow. The irony is not lost on me who thinks this is some highly calculated campaign move orchestrated by the Republicans....(maybe even Hillary) to take the spotlight off of John Edwards and his campaign.

Feel better Mr. Snow, but I will be watching you.

My new blogger crush

So I was seeking advice on office politics from the archives of the Brazen Careerist, when I came across this blog. He is officially my new crush. How can you not love a man who has this quote as his header: "You are members of a cult, is the thing. And the cult is called 'the United States of America.'"

*eyelash batting*

Racial preference is a matter of taste

For some strange reason, I'm a little proud. Hmph.

(Excerpt from What is the Flavor of Human Flesh? by Gary Allen)

Anthropologist Jeremy MacClancy described the taste of human flesh -- based not upon his own experience, mind you, but upon the testimony of some of the natives of the New Hebrides islands of the South Pacific:

"From all accounts, human meat is very sweet, in Vanuatu, they say that the flesh of a black man is sweet, whereas the flesh of a white man is really quite salty and stringy, they say it's not so nice."[2]

Monday, March 26, 2007

New Loves of My Life

"Bring It" from the Snakes on a Plane motion picture soundtrack. Featuring the lead singers from: Cobra Starship, Gym Class Heroes, The Sounds and The Academy is.... Haven't seen the movie, but doesn't the title pretty much cover it?

Friday, March 23, 2007

beggars can't be choosers

From Women's eNews: Vienna, Austria, has launched a campaign to place signs in all city buildings that reflect changing gender roles, the Christian Science Monitor reported March 14. Signage will include pictures of men changing diapers and women riding elevators; stickers for reserved seating on public transit will feature elderly women and women with disabilities; and building exit signs feature a woman in a skirt with wind-blown hair.

I'll take whatever progress I can get.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Regarding the recent drama over the U.S. attorney firings....

The papers spend some time going through some more of the 3,000 pages of
e-mails that were released Monday night. The messages reveal Justice Department officials didn't realize how the firings would explode into a full-blown scandal. In early February, a top official suggested the
worst was over writing that "the issue has basically run its course." The Post notes the e-mails show the White House was "more involved than had been known" in dealing with the scandal. The LAT focuses on how the e-mails show that earlier this month senior Justice Department officials began preparing memos with specific reasons why each prosecutor was fired. In the end, the Post says the newly released documents "shed little light on the Bush administration's motives for carrying out the firings in the way it did."
So this story isn't even super exciting. However, it boggles my mind that people in the White House put such stupid, incriminating shit in emails! Everyone with half a brain knows you don't use Outlook to plot assassinations, embezzlement schemes and the like. It cracks me up that the emails are so obvious.

From: Karl Rove []
To: Whitehouse Aides Group []
Subject: glad that's over!

Hey guys,
Done and done. I'm heading over to the Barrister's Grille around 5ish today if u want to come with. That Iglesia guy is gone and I think that pretty much completes all the firings, so I'm celebrating. Also, I have a card I want everyone to sign for Libby. I'm going to miss the bastard! I think we should all chip in for a plaque from Things Remembered. Since it will be engraved, I need the money by like this Friday.

GW was so annoying today! He said we need to be careful about this firings and I'm like, "Um, what is Congress going to do? Subpoena me?" lol. OK, well lemme know if u r coming tonight. I got first round!

This communication is a confidential and proprietary business communication. It is intended solely for the use of the designated recipient(s). If this communication is received in error, please contact the sender and delete this communication.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Why I hate airports and flying

So I had a brief trip out of town last week and it prompted me to share with you dear reader why I hate airports. Here goes...oh and feel free to share your peeves with the Moxster. OK, here we go:

1. screaming children. there should be a separate plane just for people and their screaming, asshole kids. you think your kid is cute, but NO ONE ELSE DOES. and usually the perpetrator is a white person with their kid named Aidan, Skylar, Ashleigh, or Taylor. little. bastards.

2. cramped seats. i mean, i know I gained weight over the year, but i didn't grow UP and my knees are still jacked up from sitting in those small seats. and the seat belts have shrunk I SWEAR because I feel as though I need an extender.

3. inconsistency in snack availability. if one serves pretzels, you all should dammit. it is what this country is based on.

4. uglier and uglier flight attendants. and where did all the gay ones go? Virgin Atlantic?

5. unexcited captains. Get excited. I'm excited to get there and so should you, you're driving! maybe it has something to do with #4.

6. the stanchion that separates "elite/gold/preferred" passengers from everyone else. i mean there is even a different rug. i was boarding on the appropriate side of the rug and this guy comes on the elite side. the employee stops taking my ticket and asks him if he is elite and begins to take his pass. he says, no, i'm just boarding like everyone else and she turns back around to take my ticket. and we looked at each other like: did that just happen? yes, it did. my philosophy is that if being in 1st class somehow keeps you from dying when the plane catches fire or crashes, then i understand the importance. however, if it's going down, we're all going down. except there will be a separate pit of burning flames for the preferred passengers and the rest of us will get smaller, cramped pits of fire.

7. business travelers. see #1 about separate plans. no, chad, jim, bob, and steve I don't want to listen to every stupid detail about your conference call where you are sure you got the promotion and how this one employer is going to offer you a sweet package if you take the job.

8. overpriced shit. obviously. i hate paying $5.00 for two Excedrin.

9. how airports are like malls. if you want to shop, shop at the mall. you want to fly, you go to the airport. the two should not meet. i see the point, but still...and the high end shit? souvenirs, i get, but $200 sunglasses, not so much.

10. women who wear fancy clothes to travel. i don't know how many husbands were won sitting on an airplane, but if that means i need to wear stilettos and snug bootcuts, i aint buyin, sister. airplanes are the new greyhound, there is no need to dress up.

11. TSA and orange alerts. every time i travel, no matter what time of year or what happens in the news, we are always on orange alert at the airport. we all know that is bullshit. i would complain, but i am too busy THROWING AWAY MY BOTTLED WATER THAT I BROUGHT FROM HOME SINCE TSA THINKS I'M GOING TO MAKE A BOMB WITH IT AND NOW I HAVE TO PAY $45,000 FOR ANOTHER BOTTLE OF WATER ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE SECURITY CHECK.

12. old women who take dumps in airport bathrooms. i suppose i could be one of those women one day, but for now i think it is gross. while we're on the subject of gross, i hate taking my shoes off in the security area. gross. they should give us little latex booties to wear while we stand there. talk about terrorist attack when the whole plane comes down with athlete's foot.

13. the guy who always wants to put his seat back. um, my tray table is DOWN and now it is in my gut thanks to you. there is no room - see #2 - and yet you want to attempt to be comfortable. this is also the guy who takes the extra blanket and pillow in the overhead. and is the father or uncle of the guy who just has to use his ipod and cell as soon as the plane touches down and can't keep his damn seat belt buckled until we reach the gate. I mean i get it, you're probably safe taking it off, but its the principle of just calming the fuck down.

14. the person who thinks he/she is the only one who is going to miss their connecting flight. um, if the WHOLE plane is late, then we're all late. and since we're in Bumfuck, USA chances are we're all getting on another plane, so simmer. aint shit they can do from here because you know SATAN designs the connecting schedule so that you are sure to arrive at gate C-1 and have to connect at gate Z-99. call your wife (after the captain says its OK of course) and tell that bitch to put your meatloaf in the fridge cuz you aint coming home on time.

It's enough to make a girl buy her own plane. I seriously can see why kajillionaires do it. Put your seat back as far as you want. There is leg room and the flight attendant is hot...and gay.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

(Happy?) International Women's Day

From the fearless Policy Director at PPGC...

As we celebrate Women's Day today, please take a moment to consider the implications of the Global Gag Rule, signed by President Bush on his first day in office in 2001. It prevents foreign organizations that receive U.S. family planning assistance from counseling women about abortion or referring them to abortion providers, even in cases where the woman’s life is in danger, and even if they use non-U.S. funds. Ostensibly designed to prevent abortion, the global gag rule actually increases unintended pregnancy by undermining effective family planning programs.

Organizations that refuse to sign on to the global gag rule have been hit hard. In Ethiopia, a country with one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world, the two organizations that provide the bulk of family planning and reproductive health care services lost a combined 45 percent of their funding, with many clinics closing and services curtailed. In Kenya, the largest family planning provider had to close eight clinics after it lost funding, leaving more than 9,000 women and children without basic health care services. In some areas of Africa, where family planning clinics are the only providers of health services, women have been left without screening and treatment for HIV/AIDS, even as the pandemic ravages the continent. For more information about the global gag rule go to

The article below suggests that the integration of HIV and reproductive health services is essential to curtailing the disease. It fails to mention that the Global Gag Rule makes this difficult to achieve.

Copyright 2007 Globe Newspaper Company
All Rights Reserved

The Boston Globe

March 7, 2007 Wednesday

HEADLINE: Empowering HIV-infected women
BYLINE: Janet Fleischman - Janet Fleischman is a senior associate of the Center for Strategic and International Studies HIV/AIDS Task Force.

ASUNTA WAGURA'S healthy baby boy has sparked considerable controversy in Kenya. As an HIV-infected woman and AIDS activist, Asunta's decision to conceive a child exposes an emerging feature of the global HIV/AIDS pandemic: increased access to life-prolonging treatment is affecting women's reproductive choices, and challenging ideas about the kind of services and policies required.

If we are to keep pace with the evolving pandemic, concerns about women's reproductive health must become an integral part of HIV/AIDS services and policies.

Outdated notions of the virus still prevail, Asunta told me when I saw her recently in Kenya: "It's still regarded with the old lenses - you are positive, you're only headed to the grave. That has to change." For many women, both those who are HIV-infected and those who are trying to stay uninfected, integrating reproductive health and family planning services with HIV/AIDS programs provides an otherwise missing link. Women benefit from family planning to prevent unintended pregnancies, which carry with them the inherent risks of transmitting the virus to the baby and contributing to the burgeoning population of AIDS orphans. HIV-infected women who want to have babies stand a much better chance of safely doing so when they have access to information and services to prevent mother-to-child-transmission during pregnancy and infant feeding. Still others prefer to access HIV/AIDS information, testing, and services through maternal-child health services, thus avoiding the stigma associated with stand-alone HIV/AIDS services. Fortunately for women in Kenya, integration of reproductive health and HIV/AIDS programs is gradually moving forward. The Kenyan government and the US AIDS program, as well as civil society groups, have recognized the importance of linking AIDS and reproductive health services. A recently launched US health program in Kenya includes funding from both the US AIDS program and a small proportion of family planning/reproductive health funds - not as much as advocates of program integration would hope for and too little to achieve all the synergies that would be possible, but nonetheless a step in the right direction. Similarly, the Kenyan Ministry of Health recognizes the importance of using existing reproductive health infrastructure to address HIV in women and is supporting pilot programs to integrate family planning and HIV counseling and testing.

Asunta, whose organization, the Kenyan Network of Women Living with AIDS, provides services for HIV-infected women, understands that not every Kenyan woman can make the kind of informed choices that she could: "I am an empowered woman, and I make the decisions that I want regarding my life... Not every other woman is as advantaged as I am." A US official in Kenya noted that HIV-infected women without access to appropriate information and services run the risk of endangering the health of their babies and themselves. "Women should be our most important focus for prevention, care and treatment interventions, and we ought to look everywhere we can to find them," the official said.

Many challenges remain on the path to integrating reproductive health and HIV services for women, and much is at stake for US global AIDS policy. Promoting linkages between these programs would be a useful strategy to expand entry points for women to access HIV/AIDS services, to increase the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of AIDS programs, to build greater sustainability, and to help to address the shortage of healthcare workers. With women increasingly bearing the brunt of the epidemic, especially in Africa, focusing on new opportunities to reach them is essential for the success of prevention, care, and treatment programs.

Asunta and her baby force nations to face the new challenges in crafting innovative and effective responses to global AIDS. She has shown the need to address the prevailing negative attitudes surrounding sexuality of women living with HIV/AIDS, whether they seek contraception or pregnancy. And her experience suggests that integrating reproductive health and HIV/AIDS programs is a key to provide women access the information and services they need to make informed decisions about their personal and reproductive lives. As she put it: "At the end of the day, we have to make information accessible to women - that's part of empowerment."

Monday, March 5, 2007

Of all the nerve....

Tribe slave descendants face uncertainty
By SEAN MURPHY, Associated Press Writer
Sun Mar 4, 4:13 PM ET

OKLAHOMA CITY - The Cherokee Nation vote this weekend to revoke the citizenship of the descendants of people the Cherokee once owned as slaves was a blow to people who have relied on tribal benefits.

Charlene White, a descendant of freed Cherokee slaves who were adopted into the tribe in 1866 under a treaty with the U.S. government, wondered Sunday where she would now go for the glaucoma treatment she has received at a tribal hospital in Stilwell.

"I've got to go back to the doctor, but I don't know if I can go back to the clinic or if they're going to oust me right now," said White, 56, a disabled Tahlequah resident who lives on a fixed income.

In Saturday's special election, more than 76 percent of voters decided to amend the Cherokee Nation's constitution to remove the estimated 2,800 freedmen descendants from the tribal rolls, according to results posted Sunday on the tribe's Web site.

Marilyn Vann, president of the Descendants of Freedmen of the Five Civilized Tribes, said the election results undoubtedly will be challenged.

"We will pursue the legal remedies that are available to us to stop people from not only losing their voting rights, but to receiving medical care and other services to which they are entitled under law," Vann said Sunday.

"This is a fight for justice to stop these crimes against humanity."

Cherokee Nation spokesman Mike Miller said Sunday that election results will not be finalized until after a protest period that extends through March 12. Services currently being received by freedmen descendants will not immediately be suspended, he said.

"There isn't going to be some sort of sudden stop of a service that's ongoing," Miller said. "There will be some sort of transition period so that people understand what's going on."

In a statement late Saturday, Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chad Smith said he was pleased with the turnout and election result.

"Their voice is clear as to who should be citizens of the Cherokee Nation," Smith said. "No one else has the right to make that determination. It was a right of self-government, affirmed in 23 treaties with Great Britain and the United States and paid dearly with 4,000 lives on the Trail of Tears."

The petition drive for the ballot measure followed a March 2006 ruling by the Cherokee Nation Supreme Court that said an 1866 treaty assured freedmen descendants of tribal citizenship.

A similar situation occurred in 2000 when the Seminole Nation voted to cast freedmen descendants out of its tribe, said attorney Jon Velie of Norman, an expert on Indian law who has represented freedmen descendants in previous cases.

"The United States, when posed the same situation with the Seminoles, would not recognize the election and they ultimately cut off most federal programs to the Seminoles," Velie said. "They also determined the Seminoles, without this relationship with the government, were not authorized to conduct gaming."

Ultimately, the Seminole freedmen were allowed back into the tribe, Velie said.

Velie said Saturday's vote already has hurt the tribe's public perception.

"It's throwback, old-school racist rhetoric," Velie said.

"And it's really heartbreaking, because the Cherokees are good people and have a very diverse citizenship," he said.

Miller, the tribal spokesman, defended the Cherokees against charges of racism, saying that Saturday's vote showed the tribe was open to allowing its citizens vote on whether non-Indians be allowed membership.

"I think it's actually the opposite. To say that the Cherokee Nation is intolerant or racist ignores the fact that we have an open dialogue and have the discussion, he said.

Navel Gazing

GRRRREAT article.

Navel Gazing
Why even feminists are obsessed with fat.
By Laura Kipnis
Posted Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2005, at 8:35 AM ET

America's obsession with fat is increasingly colonizing the cultural imagination, and not just on sadistic reality-TV diet shows like The Biggest Loser. There's also been a lot of fat on the New York stage lately. Neil LaBute's devastating new play, Fat Pig, offers thwarted love between a fat woman and a thin man with really mean friends; in The Good Body, Eve Ensler's one-woman show, the audience is treated to the self-loathing feminist equivalent of a money shot: Ensler yanks her blouse up and waistband down, and there in all its naked shame is her dirty little secret, a small pot belly. Ensler and LaBute couldn't be more different in sensibility, except that for both, fat spells abjection. For anyone in quest of another angle, a new collection of essays, Fat: The Anthropology of an Obsession, edited by Don Kulick and Anne Meneley, takes on the same terrain from a cross-cultural perspective, providing a welcome departure from both fat-as-sideshow or Ensler-style navel gazing.

Can you be a fat female and also an object of desire? This is the question posed in different ways by both new plays. It's no surprise that for LaBute's characters, the answer is a brutal "No." But Ensler, a self-declared radical feminist, works herself into intellectual knots trying to come to terms with her own bodily obsessions. (For her, it's more about feeling fat than being fat.) The therapeutic mode doesn't make for gripping theater; here it also makes for a lot of wheel-spinning, particularly because there's a hard truth that Ensler can't bring herself to acknowledge about women's situations today, including her own: There's simply an irreconcilable contradiction between feminism and femininity, two largely incompatible strategies women have adopted over the years to try to level the playing field with men.

The reason they're incompatible is simple. Femininity is a system that tries to secure advantages for women, primarily by enhancing their sexual attractiveness to men. It also shores up masculinity through displays of feminine helplessness or deference. But femininity depends on a sense of female inadequacy to perpetuate itself. Completely successful femininity can never be entirely attained, which is precisely why women engage in so much laboring, agonizing, and self-loathing, because whatever you do, there's always that straggly inch-long chin hair or pot belly or just the inexorable march of time. (Even the dewiest ingénue is a Norma Desmond waiting to happen.)

Feminism, on the other hand, is dedicated to abolishing the myth of female inadequacy. It strives to smash beauty norms, it demands female equality in all spheres, it rejects sexual market value as the measure of female worth. Or that was the plan. Yet for all feminism's social achievements, what it never managed to accomplish was the eradication of the heterosexual beauty culture, meaning the time-consuming and expensive potions and procedures—the pedicures, highlights, wax jobs on sensitive areas, "aesthetic surgery," and so on. For some reason, the majority of women simply would not give up the pursuit of beautification, even those armed with feminist theory. (And even those clearly destined to fail.)

Why is this women's continuing plight? (Even minus financial imperatives, as women increasingly achieve economic independence from men.) Ensler trots out the usual suspects: unrealistic media images, capitalism, mothers. She also spent six years globe-trotting to 40 countries to interview other women on the subject. Lo and behold, everywhere she went, she found foreign counterparts of herself, women who loathe some part of their bodies. Much of the play consists of Ensler impersonating this Olympic village of self-abnegating women.

One problem with this brand of global feminism is how closely it resembles narcissism on a global scale: Women everywhere mirror me. Instead, Ensler should have interviewed a few anthropologists since according to Kulick and Meneley's Fat, bodily attributes like pot bellies actually have entirely different cross-cultural meanings. Fat connotes very different things in different cultures or in subcultures like fat activism, gay male chubby-chasers, and hip hop. Fat may be a worldwide phenomenon—and increasingly so—but not everyone is neurotic about it, or they're not neurotic in the same way.

Take the chapter by anthropologist Rebecca Popenoe, based on her fieldwork among desert Arabs in Niger. This is a society with no media influences or beauty industries, where women strive to be as fat as possible. Girls are force-fed to achieve this ideal; stretch marks are regarded as beautiful. Yet somehow this beauty norm doesn't create the same sense of anguish that afflicts Western women striving for thinness, leading Popenoe to suggest that it's the Western obsession with individualism and achievement that bears the blame—not media images, not a top-down backlash against feminism, as Naomi Wolf's The Beauty Myth has it. In Niger, failing to achieve the prevailing beauty standard isn't a personal failure; it just means someone has bewitched you, or you have a thin constitution.

But reading Popenoe won't reassure anyone seeking an exit route from female body anxieties. Where the Nigerois fatties and the dieting-obsessed Ensler find common ground is that all are striving for sexual attractiveness in the context of heterosexuality. The Nigerois women fatten themselves to be more desirable to Nigerois men. Women here may pant, "I'm doing it for myself" while strapped to their treadmills, but the fact is that the beauty culture is a heterosexual institution, and to the extent that women participate in its rituals, they, too, are propping up a heterosexual society and its norms. The problem for a feminist is that historically speaking such norms have worked out far less advantageously for women than for men.

The disadvantages can take rather subtle forms, though, as The Good Body itself unwittingly demonstrates, once a recurring character known as "My Partner" is introduced. As described by Ensler—rather reverently—this is the perfect man. He cooks, he adores her stomach, and he's so enlightened that when they get in a fight while on vacation (she accuses him of calling her fat), he tells her he can't compete with her stomach and leaves. In other words, the Partner's dramatic function is to articulate the feminist position—which he does far more adequately than Ensler herself, turning The Good Body into a feminist play that somehow props up the most traditional of sexual positions: man on top.

If even feminist theater ends up reinforcing masculine prowess, perhaps it's because heterosexuality requires asymmetry between the sexes. Heterosexuality always was the Achilles heel of feminism because the asymmetries involved usually took the form of adequacy for one sex, inadequacy for the other. And so things seem to remain: You may hear a lot of tough talk about empowerment and independence in women's culture today, except you hear it from women shopping for baby-doll outfits or getting Brazilian bikini waxes and double-D cup breast implants. ("I'm doing it for myself.")

Of course, masculinity has always been afflicted with its own bodily anxieties; it just compensates for them differently (or overcompensates). Check out Viagra sales if in doubt. Or those penis-extender spam ads. Only feminism-for-dummies defines body pathologies as a female franchise alone, especially since that just buttresses the illusion of masculine invulnerability all over again—traditional femininity via the back door.

Will femininity continue to beat down the feminist challenge? It's been remarkably tenacious to date. Or will women keep trying to reconcile the two through conflicted enterprises such as empowerment plastic surgery and bestowing men with feminist prowess? If only internal gymnastics burned calories! Then we could all achieve flatter stomachs with far fewer hours at the gym.

Friday, March 2, 2007

Honey, I'm Dead!

Honey, I'm Dead!
How God rewards a female suicide bomber.
By Michelle Tsai
Posted Thursday, March 1, 2007, at 6:39 PM ET

A female suicide bomber detonated a vest filled with explosives at a university in Baghdad Sunday, killing more than 40 people. If male martyrs can expect to find 72 virgin maidens in paradise when they die, what rewards can female suicide bombers expect?

Their husbands. The Quran itself describes little about the specifics of the afterlife, but it does note that believers will find huris, or maidens "of modest gaze, whom neither man nor jinni will have touched before them." (Every believer can end up in heaven; martyrs just get there faster.) Respected commentator Al-Tirmidhi said in a hadith that every man will have six dozen huris in heaven, but very few commentators enumerated the rewards for women. Ninth-century scholar Al-Tabarani did argue that women will be reunited with their husbands in the next world, and those who had multiple husbands can pick the best one to be their eternal spouse. (Other commentators added that a woman who never married can marry any man she wants in paradise.)

From the 9th through the 12th centuries, Muslim scholars described paradise as a place of sensual delights—for men. They debated whether men remained married to their wives in heaven, whether they could have sex with the virgins, and whether the heavenly virgins had anuses. (Some said there was no need for elimination in the afterlife.) There was even disagreement on the number of virgins assigned to each man. While Al-Tirmidhi said it was 72, Mulla Ali Qari, an 11th-century imam, counted 70 virgins and two human wives. Imam Al-Bayhaqi was more generous, granting men 500 wives, 4,000 virgins, and 8,000 previously married women. The meaning of the word hur is also open to interpretation, since it reads as "white raisins" when translated as a Syriac rather than Arabic word.

Women may not get these particular perks, but religious commentaries argue that paradise will make them beautiful, happy, and without jealousy. The fact that they fasted and worshipped Allah during their earthly lives will also make them superior to the virgins, who only exist in heaven. Some modern clerics argue that in heaven, husbands never grow bored of their wives, even with so many huris around. That may explain why some would-be female suicide bombers have spoken of becoming "chief of the 72 virgins, the fairest of the fair."

Explainer thanks Sherry Lowrance of the University of Georgia and Christoph Reuter of Stern magazine.

Maybe their Outlook alarm didn't go off

So....Black History Month is officially over and I got fruit basket, no gift certificate...not even a card from my white coworkers. Can't help but say that I'm a little disappointed.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Stuff I think about #3

Isn't it funny how sometimes you want to discard time like it was water on a sinking ship, and then sometimes you want to hold on to it like it's your last dollar until payday? hmph.


God bless the men and boys of The Shed, Man's World, and Crossover. God bless 'em!