Friday, December 10, 2010
I'm going to put aside the subtle offensiveness of describing people's gender identity in terms of a fashion trend and just say that even if transgender people are edging into the mainstream, we will have to deal with the same problems of stereotypical representations that most other minorities do.
I think pretty much everything the article mentions, aside from maybe the James Franco magazine cover, is just part of a general trend toward androgyny in a lot of fashion, and this is especially true for the urban "hipster" fashion which the NYT seems to idolize. Skinny jeans for skinny guys, baggy sweaters and flannel shirts for even skinnier girls, and American Apparel's insistence on selling "unisex" clothing all kinda contribute to an androgynous aesthetic.
But the year of the transsexual? I don't think so. You could pick out pretty much any year from the past decade and find the "zany" news stories about trans people that this article does, and there doesn't seem to be anything particularly positive happening on any large scale. It seems like the fashion world just kinda sorta loves the outrageousness of Lady Gaga and having a transsexual model, so they talk about it! And that's fine, but to 99% of America and trans people, the change is much more gradual.
As for James Franco, he's just awesomely weird.
Monday, November 22, 2010
The fact that this man is employed by the Newspaper of Record is a shame. He's never even studied economics in any professional manner that I know of. He seems to have married a wealthy economist and somehow that means that he should talk about monetary policy and the next country that America should invade.
The issue here is that this is not an isolated problem. Thomas Friedman was one of the most vocal supporters of the Iraq War, and he's been wrong about countless other things as well. Most of his columns consist of some inane variation on the theme "I went to country X in my travels, and I have seen the way of the future". All of his columns contain vague predictions about the future because he doesn't know a fucking thing about anything and everyone will forget what he said before "the future" gets here.
Except that now that we have the internet, no is going to forget, and the NYT's credibility will deteriorate every time Thomas Friedman start mashing the keys on his keyboard.
Everything is flat!
Thursday, November 4, 2010
1) The economy. Aside from all of the things that Obama and Democrats could and should have done while they had the upper hand, the economy is the most difficult thing to spin, and the Democrats have not done it well. These charts have appeared on a lot of political blogs, but I doubt they have been seen on television news. I think Press Secretary Gibbs showed them at one press conference, but every Democrat should have carried around copies of this every fucking day or else gotten it tattoed on their forehead.
But they didn't. So the shitty economy, which was going to be shitty even before Obama took office, has become Obama's and the Democrats' problem. And they haven't done what they could to fix it. They tried to be "bipartisan" and include $350 million of tax cuts in the stimulus bill, but every person who doesn't read read progressive blogs for at least an hour a day is going to see the stimulus as a Democratic program that was spearheaded by Obama, which brings us to problem number
2), which is messaging. There was a poll a few days before the election that said more people thought Obama had increased taxes than lowered them, and most people thought they just stayed the same. This is flat out contrary to reality, but for some reason Democrats are unable to fight it. Yes, there is Glenn Beck screaming every day on Fox News, but Obama is the fucking President of the United States. People listen when he talks. People listen to the Democratic leadership in Congress when they have enormous fucking majorities. But none of them try to counter this perception. These polls are taken as a reality that Democrats have to deal with, and therefore Democrats have to compromise progressive principles even further to "compromise" with Republicans, and on and on it goes.
And no, I don't make the mistake of thinking that all, or even most, Democratic politicians actually believe in those progressive principles. It's much easier for an elected official to make money by siding with the rich guys and corporations. The thing is, they're Democrats. The people that vote them into office aren't generally the rich guys, or the white guys, or whoever. It's the poor people, the minorities, and the young voters that put them there. And despite how much the politicians undoubtedly want to make money, I suspect that their urge to actually win elections is even stronger, and more Democrats will win more elections when more Democrats provide a clear progressive view.
But as it stands now, Democrats seem to want both. Some Democrats want to please the corporations and lobbyists so they can raise huge amounts of campaign cash, but they can't get re-elected when the Democratic base doesn't give a shit about the elections. And as mentioned above, when Democrats have tried to get the message out about the legitimate progressive accomplishments of the past two years, they simply can't do it like the Republicans.
But the Tea Party elects a Republican businessman because...they love freedom and liberty. Or something.
To be fair, it's not like it was only tea partiers who elected Johnson. There was a lot of gullible Wisconsinites that bought it as well. Enjoy that sweet freedom Wisconsin.
Saturday, October 9, 2010
And here is the post that I found incredibly frustrating.
For those of you who don't what to read my whole post in response to Femmephane, I'll just say this: In general, Femmephane seems to think that Dan Savage's project gives false hope to youth, that it somehow undermines and overwrites the suffering of youth, and that it is a misguided exercise in general.
I couldn't disagree more. As I said below, activism is not a zero sum game. Femmephane seems to think that because Dan started a successful project that some other project necessarily loses or that queer youth are losing their voice. The whole point of the project is not to undermine the suffering of youth, but to establish a community of those that have been discriminated against and their allies. It's true that Dan's project does not actively encourage some sort of intervention in schools, but he has supported the other projects that do exactly that. He is just creating one more opportunity to reach the youth that have so far been unreachable. Maybe YouTube can help.
Side note, this kind of "more radical than thou" bullshit in the queer community really turns me off. Fuck you for being condescending to people who want to live more "normal" or conventional lives than you. That is intolerance.
This post has been circulating amongst a lot of GLBTQ blogs for some reason. I disagree with nearly everything in it.
I’ll take the points one by one to avoid righteous ranting here:
1) Neither Dan nor Terry explicitly links religion or a small town mentality with “being more bigoted”. They only use their own stories as examples. Shockingly, they experienced discrimination and bullying in religious communities and small towns. If I may offer a quote from the website americancatholic.org: “The Catholic Church opposes gay marriage and the social acceptance of homosexuality and same-sex relationships”.
It is outright denying reality to believe that the majority of American Christian denominations are accepting of homosexuality, and the same goes for the majority of non-urban communities. A 1970s study in The Journal of Homosexuality found that “Respondents in the US who were willing to grant such rights to homosexuals as teaching in college, speaking in a local community, and taking out a book from a local library written by a homosexual and favorable to homosexuality, tended to be well educated, young, Jewish or nonreligious, from urban areas, raised in the Northeast or Pacific states”. You can argue that somehow this pattern has reversed, but it, ya know, hasn’t.
2) I have no idea why this is an issue for the writer. Maybe it doesn’t get better for some people. Maybe Femmephane thinks it would be better to tell kids that the rest of their lives may be miserable. I disagree.
3) He’s not assigning guilt here. Femmephane is taking one short phrase out of seven minute video and using it construct some sort of strange worldview in which Dan blames gay children for being bullied into suicide. Does the writer really believe that was his intention? Also, above I thought he was blaming religious people and small towns…
4) Ummm no. Did the writer not see the first two minutes where Dan and Terry talk about how unaccepting their families were? They aren’t overwriting anything.
5) They never encourage anyone to come out. They tell their story in which their seemingly unaccepting families managed to love both them and their partners. Also, consider once again Dan’s intended audience here. His audience is youth who are already miserable and considering killing themselves. I think it’s likely that people call them gay whether or not they have officially come out.
6) I’m going to refrain from an ad-hominem attack and suggest that perhaps Femmephane needs to examine why the fact that a happy gay couple met in a bar by using cheesy pick up line makes them want to vomit. It should not.
7) How is telling your own story overwriting youth experience? I honestly would like an explanation for this. It’s not as if story telling is a zero sum game. Is the writer suggesting that because Dan and Terry told their story one less gay youth gets to tell their story? The idiocy of this is self evident.
8) Again with the overwriting and undermining. These stories do not belittle lived pain. That is the whole point of these videos. They are supposed to be posted precisely because others understand the pain that a youth is going through and how difficult it may be to not just end it all. This seems to be a fundamental difference in the way that the writer and I understand the video. The fact that Dan and Terry are happy now does not imply that a happy ending is inevitable. The writer is making an inference with little basis. They state that it can get better. There is no inference to be made here.
9) This is one particular project of Dan’s that is intended to reach youth who are considering taking their lives because of discrimination. In his column, he has plugged the Trevor Project, suicide hotlines, etc. This is one other means of possibly reaching those youth that haven’t been reached by other means. Anecdotally, I think this project has also been raising awareness about bullying, which is the exact opposite of encouraging “privileged folks” to sit around and ignore it.
10) The writer says that “telling folks that their suffering is normal homogenizes their experience”. Dan and Terry don’t say suffering is “normal”, which implies that it is some acceptable, unchangeable, or inevitable period in a GLBTQ person’s life. They actually don’t say anything even remotely close to this. Perhaps Femmephane is saying that the project itself does this, but I disagree entirely. The videos help further a fucking community of people that have been discriminated against. If one transgender meets another transgendered person, do they feel as if their experience and identity have been “homogenized”? Do ethnic minorities feel this every time they see someone of their own background walking down the street? Pure idiocy.
As for the last three points, I think they have mostly been covered above. Treating a campaign like this as “revolutionary” does undermine anything. Femmephane is again thinking of the attempt to help queer youth as a zero sum game. It’s not a competition. Just because Dan and Terry decided to start a web project that is, just keep this in mind, targeted at youth who are considering killing themselves, does not mean that queer youth are losing their voice (or something). I covered the “lumping everyone together” in #10.
Friday, October 1, 2010
Thursday, September 16, 2010
"If you want to be treated like a girl at a bar, dress like a girl at a bar. If you want to be treated professionally and without incident, cover up."
Also, the writer puts scare quotes around calling Ms. Sainz a reporter because...she's from Mexico? And yes, she is quite gorgeous, and yes, it is likely that it helped her career on television. How many unattractive female "reporters" do you see on U.S. network television?
It's beside the point, but the writer also has Ines Sainz the sports reporter confused with a different Ines Sainz who was a former Ms. Spain. The sports reporter is not a beauty queen. She actually has a Master's in Tax Law.
Meanwhile, this doesn't seem to be getting much attention. This is the first mention I've seen in the North Texas media, and the Barnett Shale drilling has been going on for years.