Thursday, September 29, 2016

The nuclear button

I really didn't want to dignify the US presidential race by blogging on it (because my blog brings such dignity to a subject), as I simply can't take Trump seriously enough as a person, let alone as a presidential candidate, to bother.

But today I read an interesting article in an historically pro-republican publication that asked the pertinent question, among others, 'Whose hand do you want on the nuclear button?' and answered it in favour of Hillary, and I thought, well maybe that's worth blogging about.

Because really, for those who have even the slightest doubt about which of these candidates is more fit for president, that question is the only one you need to ask. To give Donald Trump access to a button that would start a nuclear war and probably spell the end of the entire fucking world, even if it would in the process put an end to Donald Trump, has got to be a bad move. They probably don't get any badder, in fact.

So if you have any doubts (and I know my good readers don't, but you might know someone who knows someone who knows someone who does and pass it on), read this article and consider this one single question: If you had a button that could, and probably would, if pressed, destroy the entire world, would you put it within reach of a petulant child? Probably not. You'd slap on a 'keep out of reach of children' sticker and store it on the highest shelf that only the most grown up of the grownups could reach. And that would be Hillary Clinton, who is much taller than she looks, indeed.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Kids on a plane

All you have to do is enter 'bran' and it comes up, the news story of the moment that is overshadowing the Trump tornado, the ongoing shit storm in Syria and, most incredibly, Jennifer Aniston's latest phantom pregnancy. Bran has never been so big.

The story I am referring to is of course the announced breakup of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie (recently Jolie Pitt), otherwise known as Branjelina, hence bran's media moment.

And according to the latest media release -- not necessarily the whole truth and nothing but the truth, but still -- the Hollywood super couple and parents of the millennium came to this sorry impasse on a plane when Pitt allegedly "lunged" at the oldest of his multinational brood of six, the slightly unfortunately named Madd ox.

Now, I don't want to make light of dads that lunge at their kids, much less drunk dads that lunge, as Pitt allegedly was at the time, nor do I want to shift the blame for said lunging onto the kids, but... I will say, speaking from experience, that flying with children is a challenge, with or without, but really with is better for the parent/worse for the child, alcohol in the mix.

That said, I've never flown on a private jet with my kids, a flying experience that I would imagine to be slightly less like the snakes on a plane scenario that I have experienced flying coach with my kids. But then again, the private jet experience would also afford more room for lunging, so that if one was inclined to lunge, that could indeed make the kids on a plane situation worse.

It's all so relative.

But, not so relative, is the number of kids you take with you on a plane, private or otherwise, and in the Branjelina case, that number was six. I have only ever flown with three. Double that number and, well, all said and done, you'd probably be better off with snakes. Snakes, after all, are silent.

Still, just as we can blame Hollywood for the snakes on a plane scenario, I feel this sorry situation with Branjelina, who really did seem to be a happily married couple making it work against the odds of a wildly unreal, overtly public relationship and life, can be hurled at the feet of Hollywood and not so much at Brad's lunging feet or, much less, at Anjelina's desire for the pitter-patter of a multitude of multinational little feet that some media (Chelsea Handler, I'm looking at you, girl!) have blamed for the split.

The fact that they met on a film where they were required to simulate (express) intense sexual attraction, while one of them was married in 'real' life, was probably not the healthiest of beginnings. That they made it work for 12 years is commendable and something of a celebrity couple record, I think.

So good luck to them both, and to their multifarious brood, I hope they all survive their Hollywood break-up without too much blood and drama. To this end, I would recommend no more plane travel for a while. Take the kids to the zoo instead, that's the best place for snakes, too.  


Thursday, September 22, 2016

Thank you, feminism

'You should resign!'
Warren's take down of banking CEO John Stumpf
There's a lot of misunderstanding and deliberate misrepresentation of what feminism is and is for. So I thought I'd highlight this woman, US senator Elizabeth Warren, and her courageous battle ongoing against Wall St corruption, as a good example of feminism at work.

Wall St is not all macho male greed and corruption, the kind that has screwed the world for thousands of years, it's just overwhelmingly macho male greed and corruption, and Elisabeth Warren is one of the few people of influence who is confronting and exposing this greed and corruption that has continued unabated since the global economic collapse of 2008 that it caused.

Without feminism, Warren would not be in the senate, and without Warren, as history attests, this battle to expose and end the obscene greed, corruption and unaccountability of the 'big' men at the big banks, would continue and increase.

Feminism, as feminists have long argued, stands to benefit everyone; it just relies on the most courageous women, like Elisabeth Warren, being allowed access to real power to prove it.

So thank you to the feminists who fought for this access, and thank you to Elisabeth Warren who proves that the fight for women's right to speak and be heard at the highest level is a fight, if not the fight, worth fighting for.  And we still have a long way to go; look at the senate chamber in which Warren works.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

I see, you see, we all see Chelsea!

Before tuning in to Chelsea Handler's Netflix series I'd last seen her stand-up show (2013?) in which she produced a billboard-sized photo of three old men giving each other a simultaneous blow job, don't quite know how that's possible but she -- and they -- did it.

I decided I couldn't quite handle the Handler after that, having been a casual fan for some years prior and read a couple of her books, not that I've got anything against blow jobs or the elderly, but I'd just rather not have to see those two things in the same sentence or image. Sorry.

But then we (Moose and I) tuned into her first series with Netflix, the four-part Chelsea Does, and were back into Chelsea with a bang. It was fantastic, the freshest show of its sort we'd seen in a long, long time.

Her Netflix talk show which followed it, Chelsea, Netflix's first talk show indeed, is not as good as Chelsea Does, but it's still well worth watching and it's getting better all the time.

She's such a natural talker, she doesn't suffer fools or bullshitters, she's quick witted, interested in all people, often hilarious and easy on the eye without having to try too hard. Oh, and she can't stand Trump and doesn't mind who she tells about it. What's not to like?

It also ticks the feminist box for being one of the few mainstream, not daytime talk shows, hosted by a woman, which means sexism is one of the subjects up for discussion rather than systematically sidelined or ignored entirely. Even though men are fundamentally involved, few men have the balls to discuss it, which basically means they're sexist too. Silence on sexism in a sexist world is sexist. I think I might just have come up with a catchy slogan.

Chelsea is not a classic feminist and she has had to warm to Hillary after initial disdain and distrust, but she has warmed considerably, and genuinely, and her feminism continues to be honed on the show. The last episode we watched she told men to stop telling women to smile in response to some dude telling Hillary Clinton on Twitter to smile more.

In the episode I linked the series to here, she and Sarah Silverman reclaim the word cunt for women to use to tell each other what wonderful cunts we are.

And on that note I'll sign off, from one wonderful cunt to all you other wonderful cunts -- men against cunt-haters included.  

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Excessive clenching

So this is me at night, in bed, when I'm supposed to be at rest, if the dentist I've just been to see is to be believed.

'Excessive clenching' he calls it, and it's not terribly good for me, apparently.

Indeed it explains why my teeth and general mouth area hurt, and possibly why I have to take horse tranquillisers to sleep.

Either that, or the the horse tranquillisers are the reason for the excessive clenching and general mouth pain. It's difficult to say with horses.

But one way or another, I've got a problem -- another one -- that neither the dentist nor the doctor who prescribed the tranquillisers seem to be able to fix.

And there's more...

It also seems I'm closing my teeth too often when awake. The dentist asked me how many times I close my teeth of a day and I had to think. How many times do I close my teeth? It was a good question.

I couldn't really give a clear answer, so he told me: too many times, that's how many. Apparently you're only supposed to close them three times a day. Three.

So there's room for improvement there, which is good. I'm not closing my teeth as we speak.

At the end of the consultation and immensely enjoyable teeth-cleaning procedure, while chatting casually about my excessive clenching over my x-rays, taken previously while the dentist and his assistant were out of the room, he says 'Hang on. We'll need to take another x-ray.'

And so, after they set that up and leave the room again, it's discovered that I do in fact have a hole in my tooth that could, just could, explain the pain in my mouth, over and above the clenching.

As my time had expired discussing the excessive clenching, I had to make another appointment to get the filling.

It's enough to make a girl close her teeth, really it is.    

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Face off (Muslim women on the burka ban)

'All religions cast women as sinners and temptresses.'
'Like a half-naked woman, a veiled female to me represents an affront to female dignity, autonomy and potential. Both are marionettes, and have internalised messages about femaleness.'

'The claim that veils protect women from lasciviousness and disrespect carries an element of self-deception.'

'The Koran enjoins all Muslims – whether male or female – to dress modestly... Beyond this general instruction, the holy book... contains no mention of the burka...the hijab, or veil.'

'I am not assuming that the coverings all represent simple oppression. What I am saying is that many women who take up the veil, in any of its forms, do so without delving fully into its implications, significance or history.'

'When the Taliban captured Kabul and seized power over most of Afghanistan in 1996, they made it compulsory for all women to wear the burka.'

'All religions cast women as sinners and temptresses. Conservative Islam has revived the slander for our times. Women have to be sequestered or contained lest they raise male lust and cause public disorder.'

I have taken these quotes from a variety of Muslim women expressing their views on the recent debates about banning the burka and burkini. I think these women should be leading the debate which has taken some bizarre and unhelpful turns of late.

As a feminist who has studied and fought against the oppression of women in all its complicated, yet often, all too simple and predictable forms, I think the attention given to this issue is progress in itself, unless it makes light of the issues or makes them about something other than the worldwide feminist fight for the rights of girls and women to freedom, dignity and equality.

Being told by law or custom what to wear, or what not to wear, beyond basic decency, is, in my view, a violation of these core rights. And as it currently stands, as well as throughout history around the world, many more women are told to cover up, be modest, hide yourself, don't speak, leave the public sphere to men, etc., than to undress and wear less.

Thus, my sympathies are with the women trying to fight for their right not to have to cover up and be ashamed of their faces or bodies, much less to dress modestly for the sake of preserving men's freedom or 'honouring' some ancient mythical male figure of worship.

However, I do think that the pressure that is on women in western societies to dress in a overtly sexual (busty, slim, youthful, pretty and pouting) way, especially those hoping to make a career as an actress or entertainer, are also inconsistent with the pursuit of gender freedom and equality.

Western women who are fighting against this pressure are fighting the same fight that Muslim women are fighting in resisting the pressure to cover up. It is the same fight against the same age-old, male-imposed double standard that sees females controlled and restricted for the sake of male power and freedom.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

I am a man

I'm writing about America at the moment and came across this image today during some research into the civil rights movement, which I couldn't leave behind. I hadn't seen it before.

The sharpness of those bayonets - because a bullet is not weapon enough - got to me, as did the steady hand and focus of the men pointing them at close range at the men merely walking past, with their simple protest: I am a man hanging from their necks, but otherwise unarmed. Indeed it's the guys with the guns who are wearing the protective head gear. And let's not mention the Tienanmen Square-like tanks. 

All this in the so called heart of the free world, and in the 1960s, when black American men were fighting and dying for the US in their thousands in Vietnam.

The white guy doesn't need the sign; the world knows he is a man. That is pointed too. He looks at the soldiers, a casual, even smiling challenge on his face, while his black comrades look away, defiant and a little afraid. 

They're all men, yes, but in this picture it is clear that only the men wearing the signs really know what that means.  

The I am a man protest goes back as far as the 1780s in Britain and America, but in America, the most recent police shootings of unarmed black men, and ongoing imprisonment of black men at a much higher rate than white men, suggest that that country still hasn't worked out what it is to be a man.

To be man, surely, is not to kill or threaten to kill, bearing a weapon against unarmed people, but to fight with words and courage for the right to live freely. 

That's what this picture says to me. Lest we forget.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Spring begins

As if a spring
on timer set
has been uncoiled
to win the bet
that Spring should come
on day one
of this southern
month of September.

And to behold
the colour burst
on bare branch first
then buds of all description,
on the day
the planners made
for the very purpose,
seems exactly that.

A canny bet
was won it seems
as if with nature
we can agree
to get things right
to reach for the light
and end the chill of winter.