Friday, May 11, 2007

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Oh, Politics, Politics -- How you make me want to become an Orthodox Nun!

I don't know a lot about Rudy Giuliani. Not enough to say that I want him as the next president of the United States. But, at the moment, I like him more than I like the others. I'm not at all fond of many of the Democrats, but the current Republican tendency to court James Dobson and Pat Robertson normally leaves me feeling nauseous.

But there was, for a little while, Giuliani. He's not perfect by a long shot. But I feel Giuliani as person would leave me calmer and more content than would the other possibilities. He's moderate on social issues, recognizing that they is a difference between public policy and personal beliefs and apparently possessing some amount of respect for the individual. His fiscal principles looked to be halfway sane. There was hope in my heart that perhaps, with Giuliani, the entire campaign season would not send me into a spiralling depression of damned if you do and damned if you don't.

So I was waiting, watching, hoping that Giuliani wouldn't become Mr. McCain -- who I briefly harbored hope for -- and start cosying up with the (wrongly) Religious Right or Mr. Romney and renounce former moderation to win over Tennesseans (who I still haven't decided if I'm going to claim again or not!) and the rest of the "Bible Belt." It would be so nice to feel that it's actually somewhat important that I cast a ballot, and to not be voting for a third party out of protest. Wouldn't it be nice?

But no, while hope is not yet gone, Giuliani seems to be moving in the direction of making friends with Robertson. And, of course, the right-wing members of the Republican party are happy to help dash my hopes of a decent candidate to th ground by attacking Giuliani for his pro-abortion stance. Or rather his position of respecting the decision of a woman in an area that is hardly clear-cut in either science or religion. He's personally opposed to abortion:
"My idea of a choice is that it should be a real choice and that ultimately, then, you have to respect a woman's consciousness. I think life is enormously important, but so is personal liberty."
I understand the importance of the issue to many people who are adamantly opposed to abortion. Making the argument that permitting abortion is a slippery slope does have legitimacy. What constitutes a human is so incredibly difficult to define -- forgive the off-color metaphor here -- it's like porn, I know it when I see it. I definitely don't want to blanket demonize opponents of abortion -- valuing human life is hardly a bad character trait.

At the same time, I've yet to see proof of the exact point at which human life begins or doesn't begin, and I'm not willing, philosophically, to restrict individual behavior based upon an assumption. There's lots of intuition and assumption on both sides. I can't, for the life of me, understand how a fertilized egg equals a human life, and I do see how comparing a fetus to a tumor is insulting and fails to take the issue seriously. Murr, mostly I'm cranky, cause I really hate that Giuliani -- who seems to be the only halfway decent candidate out -- there is getting thrown out on one single issue.

Monday, May 7, 2007

But What About the Men?! Modesty Issues

Warning the following is riddled with holes from sarcasm bullets and may contain instances of TMI. Reader discretion is advised. :) (I feel like this should be a sound clip in that sexy voice Fox now uses for the viewer discretion is advised message.)

In some ways, I'm a prude. Please, please, please, my fellow young women, don't come to class with a light swimsuit cover-up on -- your metallic bronze bikini is distracting me! Save it for the appropriate context -- the pool. Of course, the last time I was wearing a dress, I think I managed to scandalize a handful of elders and a coterie of church ladies. It was a nice brown halter-top number. (Yes, there was a reason to be formal -- otherwise my frumpy self would have been in dress pants and a button-up shirt.) Of course, I also suspect that the church ladies thought my roomie was my girlfriend, as there's been a nice cloud of suspicion floating about me for some time. Buying that dress took overcoming six years of active programming to cover my shoulders and back. (I had the same battle with wearing sleeveless tops -- I nearly called someone to celebrate the first day I made it through a whole day wearing one.) Actually, I hate the term modesty. I like appropriate. Dress appropriately for the situation. (If the situation is a nudist colony, I don't care what you wear.)

Yep, so I found a link to a "modesty survey" conducted by one SBC-ish group, the Noble Institute, and endorsed by none other than Albert Mohler of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary -- yah! Having a fascination with such things, I wandered through the survey.

First, I would like to award some fellow, age 26, an award for the best misuse of "feminine mystique."
The way a woman can move, the looks she can make with her eyes, gestures she can make with her hands and poses she can adopt, all of these can add to the 'feminine mystique' that thing which can make a woman very alluring and even seductive.
The feminine mystique does not refer to some aura of mystery about a woman designed to entice the boys, but to myths about a particular version feminine fulfillment, especially those linking female fulfillment to husband, children, and occupation: housewife. Thank you, try again.

Second, pray tell, why should I pick my undergarments based on what guy's want? I don't choose the undergarments based trying to be sexy or trying to be modest. I like comfortable for me. So yeah, if I feel like wearing a halter top bra (unlikely) or if I need to remind my bra strap that its supposed to be on my shoulder not my arm -- get over it. (65.4 percent of the males interviewed agreed that a girl adjusting a bra strap was a "stumbling block.")

Third, the lovely text responses on how skirts are more modest than pants because they are more feminine I shall sigh at, shake my head, think how western-centric it is to associate pants with manliness, and be happy that guys agreeing with that are in the minority. No, brain, no, stop it, you can't go on a rant about the catch-22 of if, as a chick, you pay absolutely no attention to trying to dress attractively you're accused on frumpiness and wanting to be a man.

Fourth, why did they even need to ask if bouncing bosoms when a woman is running or jogging is a "stumbling block"? Furthermore, no, there is not nessecarily a lot that can be done about that and kudos to the fellows who commented that they recognized that. Sports bras help, but any lady with larger breasts is going to have to wear two sports bras at once (yes, many, many girls do this). And to the lovely specimen of humanity who decided to use that question as an opportunity to comment, "General tip: Uncomfortable bras probably weren't designed to be uncomfortable, but rather to attract guys," when was the last time you went bra shopping? I wanna know. Obviously you've never tried on a push-up bra, otherwise you would know the things, while obviously intended to mimic the large bust society holds in such high regard, actually aren't uncomfortable. The really tight sports bras that you need to get everything anchored down for no bouncing -- those suckers aren't comfortable, trust me. Push-up bras, not so much. Anyway, the only males I'm taking bra shopping tips from are drag queens, please fax a copy of your creditentials.

It's not even that everything in here is unreasonable. (It's just way more fun for me to mock those that are.) See through clothing that isn't layered is not high on my list of appropriate garments for most occasions. Same goes for showing your underwear (and that goes for both sexes, thank you very much). And if I could do cartwheels, I might do a couple, because I'm delighted that the vast majority of the respondents said that the ultimate responsibility for whether or not the sinned lay with them and not with women. Applause for the respondents!

But -- why do all of these organizations feel the need to focus only on the potentiality that a male somewhere might become arosed (or to break down some heteronormativity -- a female)? Why that phrasing? Wouldn't it make more sense to focus on young women as individual people and frame the idea of appropriate/modest dress in terms of self-respect and self-determination.

Also, I'm not a guy -- surprise! -- but do guys ever get tired of being told that they are just completely out of control and are going to start thinking of sex at the smallest thing -- like the two seconds it takes a girl to slid a finger under her collar and return a bra strap to the proper place on her shoulder? I blame Augustine and his public baths passage from The Confessions. But then, I blame Augustine for a lot of things.

And why is it that apparently only males experience sexual desire? Seriously, I realize that it is correct generalization that males think about sex more than females, but it isn't like women never experience lust. Why don't the men have to work to make sure they don't become a stumbling block for the women in SBC philosophy land? I could totally come up with some rules. No longer, curly hair fellows. And definitely don't run your hand through it in public, because that just calls too much attention to your curly hair. Please, no nice suits -- I'm a hypocrite but, guys dressed to the nines -- hot. Of course, I find guys in grunge get up hot as well. And if you could, stop it with western style shirts. I don't know why I like them, but I do. So, it'd be a great help to me if you would quit with it. Or at least, you know, like test shirts out first to make sure that they don't bring out your eyes. Come on, if I'm supposed to work hard so fellows don't lust, shouldn't they put forth some effort so I'm not tempted to lust! (See, doesn't this sound ridiculous when reversed?)

Basically, I'm sorry that males have been programmed to see females as sex objects. I'm sorry that females have been programmed to adorn themselves as sex objects. I do understand that many girls dress in order to provoke a sexual response from males. But encouraging or even putting girls in "modest" clothing, does not even begin to get to the heart of the issue. And certainly not when the message is phrased in a way that focuses exclusively on the potential to cause a male to "sin."

And now for something completely different: French Press + Good Coffee = Happy Metra.