Friday, March 7, 2008

Notes on the Wacky Weather

Yesterday, my toes experienced a brief and beautiful liberation as I broke out my Jesus sandals.

Today, it's snowing. And not just spitting. Snowing. No acclumulation on the streets yet, but the yard areas on campus are covered nicely.

I got up this morning, kicked around for an hour, and next thing I know the kids in the high school across the street are leaving, and I'm thinking -- oh, crap, did I oversleep? No, nope. Memphis is just getting some snow tonight.

Fun times.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Do Conservatives Need Safe Spaces?

Yes, it's a joke. (Has momentary daydream of a guerrilla movement, then simultaneously reminds herself that she's ideologically a pacifist and looks forward to the arrival of Les Guerilleres.)

Angry id -- back in the closet! Angry not-id -- front and center!

Wait! What? Would someone please tell me when the last time a conservative was assaulted or murdered for being a conservative? When was the last time someone was harassed to the point of committing suicide because he was a conservative?

However, the anti V-day campaign doesn't seem to be a joke. I'm not the biggest proponent of the Vagina Monologues that you'll ever meet. I'm too inclined to wanting to completely dissolve the coherence of the categories of man and woman. There are several monologues in the play that I don't personally identify with, and at least one that actually makes me feel queasy. If someone asked me what my vagina would wear, I would likely look at them askance, explain the difficulties of designing clothing for vaginas, and finish up with murmuring something about how weirded out I am by female condoms (note: I'm no more opposed to female condoms than I am to tampons, but both weird me out for reasons unknown to my conscious mind). And I'm not head over heels in love with the treatment of gender in the play. I'm extremely sad that this year's performance at Rhodes was not inclusive of transwomen (it has been at least once in the past.)

However, I heartily support the main idea -- THERE IS NOTHING SHAMEFUL ABOUT BEING EMBODIED WITH A VAGINA. Oh, and you get to decide upon the meaning and value of that vagina and the rest of your body for yourself.

Madness, ain't it? It could even be hysterical! But least I be told that I am missing something -- here's a closer analysis of the brochure, The Vagina Monologues: Exposed!

Violence against Cupid?
In their effort to redefine a day meant to celebrate love and romance, Ensler and her “Vagina Warriors” proclaimed Valentine’s Day as “V-Day” until the violence against women stops, and then it will become “Victory Day” (Ensler 173). So long, Cupid. (page 13)
OMG! They killed Cupid! Because it's so terribly empowering to have bad chocolates (or maybe good chocolates) showered upon one. Terribly empowering to have a day dedicated to social pressure to mate and then reproduce. Actually, I'm detecting a capitalist/consumerist concern here. We have to have this excuse to consume, consume, consume -- and yes, it's just a subtext but I do believe that it's here.

Do the Vagina Monologues Objectify Women?
It perpetuates the very attitude that often leads to sexual violence: treating women as objects. (page 24)
Dear person writing this brochure -- are you familiar with the use of subject and object? Defining myself, defining the meaning of my own body rather than letting society dictate that meaning to me is being a subject. Do the Monologues threaten at times to create a new hegemonic "we" of women's experience? In some ways -- yes -- but the format of the play -- a diverse collection of voices, offering a multiplicity of ways of relating to vaginas -- is itself in tension with that possibility. The Vagina Monologues are about allowing women to be the subjects of their own sexuality. It's when the meaning of vagina possession is imposed from without that we have objectification.

But in reality, that's the problem that this organization has with the Monologues -- it's a bunch of women defining their own sexuality, and god knows, god's agin' that! Really, while the difference in age between the participants in "The Little Coochie Snoocher that Could" is waved a banner for why the Monologues are evil -- the real problem seems to be with the idea that women can be sexually fulfilled without men. Separate from the more legitimate critique of the age difference we get this gem:
The girl also reveals her seducer’s ultimate lesson. “She tells me to always know how to give myself pleasure so I’ll never need to rely on a man” (Ensler 82).
(page 11)
Given that this is used as punctuation for that segment, it seems that the composer of this brochure is more concerned that women might not be relying on men more of a problem than a possibly exploitative situation. The professed concern for the sixteen year old girl is just a smokescreen. Of course, conservatives do tend to let their anxieties about maintaining the normalcy of man-on-top-woman-on-bottom sexuality override any concern for the exploitation of women's bodies (please, see anti-gay interpretations of Sodom and Gomorrah).

Oh, and in case anyone was wondering -- it appears that any expression of sexuality other than penis in vagina is perverted. Including Bob's love of looking at vaginas.

(Found the actual organization via Feministing. Encountered the logic in a editorial in the student paper at my college last year, was hoping against hope that it was an independent operative.)