Posts Tagged ‘feminist’

Bitchy Women’s News – old riot grrl zine

A couple of quotes for you from some of my Riot Grrrl mail from 1993, from Eulalie of Rude Girl in San Antonio — a parody newsletter of Witchy Women’s News called Bitchy Women’s News.

The WWN/SA-RCG would have all goddesses crammed into one grand goddess-over-all. All they have managed to do is force a sex change on the Christian God, and at that, the New Testament good-sweet-and-kind God. This is not the goddess, particularly not the triune goddess they appear to be speaking of… The WWN/SA-RCG has managed one thing — they have disarmed the goddess. What was once a huntress, creatrix, crone, is now a mockery; the sweet kindly woman whose only role is that of figurehead idol around which women gather to moan of their mistreatment.

oh also from the introductory paragraph, a harsh shot,

The Witchy Women’s News has, for some time, “envisioned the raising of a cone of energy.” So, they formed a council. Why a council? Because “Board of Directors” was too “patriarchal” I don’t think “council” is any less patriarchal; call it an Inner Circle and be done with it…

And then from an actual issue of Rude Girl, an advice column called “Ask Brother Prick”, critiques of critiques from Off Our Backs, anti-NAMBLA ranting…

and tiny stickers and paragraphs clipped out of newspapers

“I used to be something of an iconoclast, but now when I see signs of that in my son, I try to squash it immediately,” he noted with a rueful laugh.

What does it mean – it is kind of a poem, there on its own – was it carefully chosen – I think so.

Also in the envelop – a separate, fantastic, typed zine called Do-It-Yourself. Thanks Eulalie and Alison! (Zine credits: Alison Wonderland, Eulalie Fenster-Glas, Aleister Grumb, Tiajuana, Bobek, and Tiana!)

I was thinking that this was really the feminist press explosion where we all took our CR sessions to a public forum – more public than closed discussion groups anyway. We didn’t have a lot of continuity other than in snip & pieces of history or writing – not a lot of public talk about feminism that we could understand as us or ours, anyway – and just said, collectively, fuck it, we’ll talk about whatever it is, fast as we can come up with it, and send it out like dandelion seeds, not worrying if it’s good enough or done enough or what it’s for.

The media representations of us were so horrible – compared to the wit & punk charm and fuck you ishness of people trying to figure out what societal structures to undermine and how (graffiti and putting glue on top of one’s postage stamps being the tip of the iceberg) reduced to cute belly buttons, well — beyond annoying and into horrible.

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Riot grrl zine nostalgia

Hey! I nearly forgot to blog about it. I’m reading tomorrow night for SFinX for the Rebel Girl event. I like how there will be cupcakes. Come on by and I’ll give you a VINTAGE RIOT GRRL ZINE and a hot pink riot grrrlz outer space pin if I can find them.

Also, check out this link. ahahah! cover: hot pink

dude zomg also my illustrated reprint of SCUM Manifesto was in a special exhibit at Duke:
Word of a Woman: 40 Years of Feminist Publishing.

“S.C.U.M. Manifesto, reprinted by Lizzard Amazon, Riot Grrrlz Outerspace, 1993. From the Sarah Dyer Zine Collection. Valerie Solanas’ Society for Cutting Up Men (S.C.U.M.) Manifesto is the most famous of the late 1960′s radical feminist manifestos. Third wave feminists republished this and other seminal second wave manifestos in order to spread the message to a new generation of women.”

yayyy!

Anyway here’s the event details for tomorrow night.

Saturday, 8/23, 7:30
San Francisco in eXile presents
REBEL GIRL: a riot grrrl nostalgia show

Saturday, August 23rd
7pm doors, 7:30 show
Center for Sex & Culture, 1519 Mission Street, San Francisco
$10-20 sliding scale (nobody turned away)
[CSC can accept VISA, Mastercard, and Discover]

Featuring:
CELESTE CHAN
GINA DE VRIES
MELISSA GIRA
….errrrrr LIZZARD AMAZON
LEAH LAKSHMI PIEPZNA-SAMARASINHA
NOMY LAMM
ZULEIKA MAHMOOD

Curated by Gina de Vries.

It’s Revolution Grrrl-Style, Now! — with tongue firmly planted in
cheek. Past and present zinestars and grrrl revolutionaries will tell
stories of old, and let you know what they’ve been up to recently.
Zines and cupcakes will be available for purchase.

Also, see the adorable press we got in the Guardian here!:

http://www.sfbg.com/entry.php?entry_id=6963&catid=85&volume_id=317&issue_id=392&volume_num=42&issue_num=47&l=1#SATURDAY_23

Also, if you’re broke, you can get in for free by helping folks with
disabilities get in the elevator, or handling the door. You will also
get free cupcakes for doing this. Email me at queershoulder@gmail.com
for details.

Also, these are some of the fabulous zines that will be available:
*Stick and Stones, by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha
*Letters from the war years: some notes on love and struggle in times
of war, by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha
*The Revolution Starts At Home: Confronting Partner Abuse in Activist
Communities, edited by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha
*Slut Utopia, by Lizzard Henry
*Riot Grrrlz Outer Space, by Lizzard Henry
*The Illustrated SCUM Manifesto, by Lizzard Henry
*the wombs and the browns, by Zuleikha Mahmoud
*letters forged by the daughter putting on her scarf in the masjid
parking lot, by Zuleikha Mahmoud
*… AND MORE!!

You better come see us!

xox,
g.

– queershoulder.livejournal.com /// sfinx.org

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Books, work, rock band, music stolen

Every time I get my computer on my lap and kick back to blog all I can do is start to slog through the endless help desk emails for work. The harder problems build up and build up. I get obsessed with fixing them though I have to learn how to say “No, sorry, can’t help you here.” They never stop! It’s not just too much work, it’s also killing my blogging because if I’m on the computer I feel like I should be “catching up”. I can’t let that happen. Not sure what to do about it. We could outsource. “Sorry, beyond the scope we can do for you, but you could pay so-and-so 30 bucks an hour to do it.” That would be a relief and would get people’s problems solved. These are people who need web design support and whose work is *great* – I want to support it. That’s where it gets me!

So in an effort not to work ALL THE TIME I have been reading a bit more. I caught up with some of my blogfriends on LJ (after weeks… months?). I read the last Hostile Takeover book – more about that in a minute. I did some cleaning and gardening (and when Moomin gets back will read more out loud to him.)

Tonight was fun – Zond-7 and I went to a game night – Played Settlers – and a bit of Rock Band. I liked playing bass. What a party – with a wii, some other game console thing, rock band, several board games, a lot of beer & wine, and a crowd of raucous geeks.

My morning was stressful – I was hauling ass to get to work – and my car window was broken. All the cars on the block had windows smashed – My giant book of favorite CDs was stolen – knew I shouldn’t keep it in there – I will try not to miss it but got a little upset over the hard to find venezuelan and cuban stuff. I had resolved to only keep cds I ahd burned in the car – but didn’t stick to it – to the tune of probably 50 cds which built up to be all my favorites. Plus, mix cds other people made for me. I am trying to be detached about it. It’s just stuff. But, music is stuff I hate to lose because it’s memory, it’s the keys to the database of emotions across many years. Sometimes I get deeply melancholy for no reason but in a way that can only be fixed by driving while listening to that one gospel song and crying as I think of the weeks that that song was my only outlet & solace for my horrible feelings on my last breakup – Or joyous in a way that goes with a particular ska CD – Oh – well – I will make new CDs – and at some point will benefit from figuring out which cases are empty and either replacing with digital music or new import cds or THROWING THE CASES AWAY. (I have just remembered the name of that gospel song – “Unconditional” – from a compilation.)

I then hauled ass to tape up my window with a trash bag to try to make it to a meeting, but realized as I got into the car that it would be a bad idea to drive down 101 without being able to see out my side window. It was a sort of survival reflex – like if I were going to lose my job for being late to work, that’s what i would have done – but as I started to do it I realized I’m not in that position, it was not a situation of extreme crisis, and it would be smarter to fix the window!

At the auto glass place (very close! lucky!) my credit cards didn’t go through and there was a bad feeling in the air suddenly as they got suspicious of me. DRAMA… I called my cards (both from one bank, a card and my atm/credit card) & no problem there. The guy didn’t believe me though I offered the phone to him and pointed out the little credit card box-thing said “connection failed” not “card declined” and it was not that I had no money. We went round for a bit because I could not walk as far as the nearest atm that he described – and I did not want to wheel there (somewhat up hill, not sure how far it was really, sounded exhausting). Finally he agreed I would leave one card with him and drive away to the ATM. Just as I was driving off he realized the credit card thing was plugged into the same thing as his phone, which was accidentally left off the hook… HA.

I felt like getting back into bed!

Instead I went to get a sandwich – and after I came out realized I’d left my car running and the door unlocked! OMG!

At that point (now hours later) I decided not to go to the office – and worked from here instead – it was all just too much – plus a 40 minute commute would have just taken away good working time.

Ended up at lunch with a bunch of people from Zond-7′s work and hearing a lot of interesting stuff about Deadweight loss (which was fucking fascinating), monopolies, anti-trust stuff, DRM, talked about all that and about spam, email costs, music industry, and I talked some with the visiting economist dude about the internet ad market. ie. how any blog ad company competes with Google Ads. Good question! Lots of people do, though. It is like the contrast between … well if you had *very small billboards* stuck everywhere kind of randomly but in relation to each thing it was stuck on, like if every parking meter displayed postage-stamp sized ads for parking garages, or every tree by the sidewalk had an index card explaining where to buy trees, vs. there being a public park set up specially with all kinds of ever-changing information about trees and fun things to do in the park. What is more satisfying – making a park and maintaining it and visiting parks & gardens – or wandering around staring at parking meters and smog-ravaged acacias. It is my day of Homely Metaphors as I also had a giant funny picture in my head about the proprietary Egg that you were only legally allowed to cook in special Sony Egg Cookers, it being illegal to invent or sell frying pans even for your own use at home, and the deadweight loss being all the people who might have cooked and ate a fucking egg if not for the $200 Sony Egg Cooker being too expensive, and the Eggs all sprayed with protective anti-frying-pan anti-cracking spray, and no regular eggs in stores since the big chain stores had a special deal with Sony to sell only Eggs not eggs, and the egg industry suffering horribly as a result. (BUT WHAT ABOUT THE CHICKENS, for god’s sake? Pay the chickens with special internet micropellets… okay I’ll stop now…) Then was further picturing the proprietary House, in which you were only allowed to put Furniture specially built by Company X (this, while we were talking about tie-ins) which further locks you in to buy only Houses built by company X in future because you’ve invested so much in Company X Furniture. A bad idea for eggs, furniture, houses, real estate agents, department stores, and right-thinking people everywhere.

Then I laid on the couch and worked for many hours!

It was nice to be around people and have a beer tonight after all that!

So back to Revolutionary, the last book in the Hostile Takeover trilogy. I liked it – although one female character DID go into a coma it was not for the whole book, she was doing stuff and having conversations in imaginary nano-telepathy-hacker-head world while she was out cold.

SPOILERS!!!!!! WARNING!!!

She doesn’t die and the end isn’t all about her incredibly bad-idea romance. Throughout the bad-idea romance she keeps asking Dom and herself, “Why do I even like you? Why am I so obsessed with you? You’re kind of a jerk!” It doesn’t get glossed over! It’s a really good point! Others explain to her that it’s wartime and that can happen easily – there are some other reasons – some explored and some perhaps not (ie her ambivalent feelings about being genetically engineered to bond with computers and machines, and his being like 90% cybernetic complete with extra computer in his brain.) Then instead of swooping in and rescuing her and knocking her up or something… he DIES. TWICE. That was so satisfying! OMG! Actually it might have been more than twice – he kept getting eaten by nanobots, and shot in the face, and then coming back from it somehow, until you were ready to strangle the fucker with your bare hands. DIE DIE DIE! and then… score… he totally died AND his time-travel extra self also died. Awesome!

So, even better than that — it was like candy — The butch as hell ex-Marine traitor Kathy Shane, who got her legs blown off and who is NOT plucky or spunky at all, has lots more angsty and in fact, PTSD-ish moments contemplating (and glorifying) the grave of Mary Houghton (who was her captive and who escaped super cleverly – the art history major and painter and tough Marine who goes spelunking for alien artifacts – and instead of DYING as one somewhat expected her to from the very first – as so many good female characters do – instead she thinks about another (female) character and acts on her thoughts in a consistent interesting way. sorry to gush, it’s just rare to see male sf writers get anything like this right, so I was excited and so pleased not to have to hate the book sighing in disgust even as I enjoyed the space opera bits. More spoilers – so, then Shane ends up finding new purpose in life. Notably she keeps her religion, abandons her military loyalties (though is still devastated by exile and by her continuing guilt over betraying her people – her military subordinates) and completely abandons her political loyalties to a particular planet or state. AND… goes off WITH THE HACKER SPY CHICK into space with the alien star map and a giant colony ship. How can I even talk about this without spoilers? I’ll give it a shot and put it up on the feministsf blog!

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Life and Death of Mary Wollstonecraft

Bits and pieces from a fascinating book – Mary’s chaotic life, scrambling for survival – her teenage misery always falling in love with her best friends – Little details in the footnotes such as the reference to the Troubles of 1922 which when I try to google it leads me to conclude that Troubles never ceased – Another footnote on Sir James Caldewell who staged a fake meeting between Captain Cook and 200 New Zealand “savages” on his estate’s ornamental lake, requiring his tenants to dress as the savages during harvest time resulting in the hay harvest being lost for that year; the Dissenters’ Hoxton Academy (I was just in Hoxton). The book’s tone is often suspect & the author makes some harsh judgments especially on Mary’s encouragement of her sister to flee her marriage.

In her hearts she knew herself for an enthusiast, but so far life had handed her more opportunities for contempt than enthusiasm, and her most remarkable trait was still that she had refused to learn the techniques whereby women in her situation usually attempted to make life tolerable for themselves: flattery, docility, resignation to the will of man, or God, or their social superiors, or all three.

Her pupil Margaret (who became Margaret Mountcashel and then Mrs. Mason) sounds interesting – “absorbed in Irish republican politics, to the considerable annoyance of her husband”. I like the description of her as brawny and standing around with naked folded arms.

There are some sweet mentions of the Ladies of Llangollen, Lady Eleanor Butler and Sarah Ponsonby.

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Action movie preview rant; racism in Indiana Jones

I went to my friend’s steampunk beach wedding with Rook and Zond-7 and all and sundry!

there is no charge for awesome

Aren’t they cute as hell?

Held a giant chiton (described in post below, but here’s the photo to show how huge it was!)

Went to RoboGames! Drove all over hell and back! Drove to Oakland and hung out with Minnie and Moomin and small Mr. Screamypants!

I saw the Indiana Jones movie, loving it and hating it. I was steeling myself for an inevitable ancient-Harrison-Ford romance with a plucky yet needing to be rescued 24 year old actress, and indeed the movie had all the pain of Smurfette Syndrome, ie, a bunch of male characters of varying kinds and one plucky girl. BUT…. it had the saving grace of having TWO female characters. The plucky girl was older than one would expect from craptastic sexist ageist Hollywood, like actually old enough to have a young adult son, and old enough for it not to be completely stereotypically annoyingly prize-like for her to be involved with Indiana Jones. And she got to kick ass some of the time. The other female character was the totally awesome Evil Psychic Communist in uniform complete with shiny black gloves and obsession with aliens and mind control. She was okay.

There was a really stupid and unnecessary racist bit with the …. clay-covered “naked savages” springing out of the masonry to defend the temple. Why, why, why? Why was that necessary? “Insert mob of non-white naked howling irrational people here.” What??? Why?! Covered in MUD! Wearing GRASS SKIRTS! HOWLING! I believe even ULULATING! Inexplicably kept alive for 5000 years! Fanatically DEVOTED! Mayan, yet Peruvian, yet grass skirt wearing yet wielding BOLAS! Then awe-struck, and bowing to the Artifact! Arrrgh. Rook and I sat there groaning and scoffing. Come on! More skulls, giant insects, sword fights, stone mechanisms rolling shut just a hair too late, waterfalls, yes, Racist Crap no. Anyway!

The pulp-like “ooo mayans” and “ooo nazca lines” and “ooo now we’re in the amazon” was just funny and overblown. I didn’t even get annoyed by it like I did with the weird stuff in Emperor’s New Groove. It was so bad it was hilarious. Same with the “magnetism”!

Back to the villain – I enjoyed the bit where

SPOILER!!!!!

She was going, “I WANT TO KNOW” and staring at the alien skeleton and the aliens began to beam stuff into her head! Yay! I wanted her to know! Go, Hero of the Order of Lenin! Go, psychic scientist crazy woman! My higher level analysis was that her gender was being conflated with communism and the “hive mind” of the aliens. Manliness was the independent thought and maverick status of Indiana Jones and his little rebel boy sidekick. The communist villain spoke at length about her evil plot, which was to gain enormous psychic powers so that everyone in the world’s thoughts would be like hers, they would be taught right thinking, but they wouldn’t know it wasn’t their thoughts. They’d think they were having their own ideas – but it would be communist mind control. Then, she ended up marvelling at the beauty of the alien hive mind, and merging orgasmically with it and squirting up into an interdimensional portal. You can see why I cheered. I don’t think I was meant to and instead it was meant to be punishment or comeuppance and a fit ending. I think also the idea of women in authority, in positions of equality and authority, in communist countries, was mixed up with current (and past) anxieties about feminism, PC-ness, and women’s rights, so that woman in authority = hive mind = evil.

Onward and backward to the previews!

The movie previews promised to be good since they would be action movies. I’m a HUGE sucker for explosions, chases, fights, and other action movie bullshit. Add space battles and I’m extra happy. So, no horrible “romantic comedy” previews I had to suffer through. Instead I got to admire the explosions, while bitching about the Smurfette Syndrome about 5 times in a row. “The Spirit” – Frank Miller movie, made fun of preview already, hilarious voiceover with superhero going “The city screams, she is my mother, she is my lover.” Sooo that makes you a motherfucker then? *sigh* So stupid! So annoying! So unnecessary! Then yet another movie about a Man having Important Man experiences with women as peripheral sex prizes (some movie about a guy living backwards in time. I would prefer they just LEAVE WOMEN COMPLETELY OUT, thanks but no thanks. Give explosions and battles, keep nasssty chips.) Hellboy which looked fucking awesome!!!! Awesome! Hello! Just great! But again, is man having his Man Moments because hollywood if in an action movie has to show how being a Man is all about heroism and heroism is all about being a man! I am so annoyed. I bet if the female characters have any good fighting moments of bravery it will be only because they are defending their man, or their dad, or their brother, or carrying out their father’s last wish, or some other annoying-ass thing whose subtext implies that women only exist in relation to men, especially when they kick ass. Then, Eagle Eye, which looked to be even more of the same. It is all about the profound experience of the lone man who in his lonely way has an Experience. Do I make myself clear, here? Why is this always the plot? It’s like the Joseph Campbell sexist as hell Hero’s Journey just mutated itself into every story possible.

Don’t even get me STARTED on Wall-e. FFS. I mean, I want to see a fucking awesome movie about some robots. In space. Why must it get all messed up with gender stuff? Why not just put some eyelashes and lipstick on that rescue-screamy-flirty-sexy robot girl? WTF with the robot gender roles? You know, if I were a robot, I’d think the nicest bit of would be getting to be ungendered. Like we didn’t go far enough with the movie where all the ants were heterosexual male/female couples (??) and the Bee one, and the one where the (male) cattle had udders? What?

Okay I’m glad I got that off my chest! Otherwise I had an intense few days (and nights) at work, a weekend packed with social events, I am concentrating hard on walking but it’s very hard, and Rook and I gardened a little bit, which was super nice since it’s been so neglected.

I have been noticing how my car is like my spaceship and everywhere I go is like an expensive gravity well. Some places, like the building I work in, or a grocery store, suck you into their enormous gravity well and it is hard to achieve escape velocity. For those, I need the powerful shuttlecraft of my wheelchair. For gas stations, small cafes, and places that can be traversed easily, I can achieve escape velocity handily with only the EVA jetpack of my crutches or cane. You think I am joking about imagining that those annoying slow wheelchair lifts are the airlock? No… I’m really imagining it and enjoying it with a slightly embarrassed smile in case anyone can read my thoughts. I prefer the Belter lifestyle without going near those annoying gravity wells where I am way too heavy, give me the asteroids any day. What this means in practical reality is that I go to the Carl’s Jr. drive through a lot these days.

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Invertebrate rescue and the Rights of Women

Happy birthday to me! Happy birthday to me! Happy birthday to meeeeee! Eeeeeeeeeeeepc!!!!

I got a tiny cute little computer for my birthday!

And pancakes and colorful drawings, and everyone being together, and the beach, and seeing the Kung Fu Panda movie (which I wrote up briefly this morning for Body Impolitic), and some fabulous zines, and Flora Tristan‘s The Workers’ Union. (DROOOOOL, I love Flora Tristan so much! I’ve read her Peregrinations of a Pariah and her London travel journal and some of her political writing! But not this, ever. It’s amazing.)

Rook made the pancakes and had also made cookies the night before. After the movie last night we all ran around Yerba Buena Park, went to the MLK waterfall, and it was super nice (but tiring). He and Moomin were doing fake kung fu and then I think for the rest of the evening and the next day they were playing they were superpowered kung fu animals. Rook and Zond-7 and I watched the two newest Doctor Who episodes and they were JUST GREAT and very disturbing.

Today! I almost wimped out on an Expedition. Went anyway.

Went to the beach! Everything on the drive down rt. 1 stunningly beautiful. My favorite tiny beach inside the breakwater! Kids rocketing around! They built a sand castle with me & ran around like wild things. Lucked out no traffic no fog, only a bit windy! Saw many moon jellies, harbor seals sticking up their heads from the water, grebes pelicans cormorants and terns. Rolled & walked rather a long way. (I am exhausted but aside from the pain in my leg am okay, it’s more like regular exercise exhaustion, but I don’t know how much I can do tomorrow physically).

Then when we walked to the point to sit on the wall, we saw a guy surf fishing. He pulled something out of the water with a gaff, inspected it, and threw it down onto the sand. He was far enough away that it was hard to tell what it was. But… it looked like the shape of a giant gumboot chiton and I saw a flash of orange underneath. I didn’t have my crutches (having gone from the path to the wall on Zond-7′s arm) and there was no way I could get to it. “You could find out…” “I won’t know what it is!” “You could bring it to me!” “WHAT!!! Pick it UP???!!!!” I couldn’t believe it when he really picked it up and started bringing it over. I mean, this is a thing pretty much as big as a human liver and kind of the same texture. Or, like, a liver mixed with a smallish nerf football. OMG I started bouncing around and going “YAYYYYYY!!!” Guess what, it was indeed the most humonguous gumboot chiton I have ever seen. It’s my favorite kind! I saw the magnetite-tipped teeth of its radula! and they were super disgustingly creepily awesome! Anyway this thing had to be a foot long! We held it for a while and then Zond-7 was totally a hero and clambered out onto the rocks with it and dramatically threw it into as deep and rocky a spot as he could manage. I’ve never seen one at this beach and it seemed like a sort of fabulous omen for it to be my birthday and that I got to hold my favorite invertebrate.

The beach has become a mixture of sublime and boring, like that Berlioz opera.

I thought about how intensely my perceptions and experience have changed over the course of my life. When I was a kid, I loved the cold. It felt just cold, but not bad. There was an initial shock, then I welcomed the cold and felt like I was made of knives and wind. I’d breathe in the cold, or open myself up to the 50 degree sea water, and expand like the universe, jumping around, body surfing, rolling in the snow, whizzing down a hill on my flying saucer. My lips would turn blue and I’d shiver uncontrollably, and someone would make me come out of the water or into the house or car. But now, there is no way I can enjoy the cold, or even tolerate it without intense pain. I thought of times when I’ve heard people (talking to me, or others) cajoling, persuading, bullying: “Come on! It’s not so cold! You’ll get used to it!” They could say that to me now, and it wouldn’t be true. Likewise, I thought of all the old people who I grew up around, and their constant horror at how cold I must be, and how impossible it was for them to understand that I was not suffering from cold air or water or snow, to the point of complete disrespect of my reported experience. I thought of how many experiences like this there are. Not just cold or heat, but pain, the tastes of food, emotional suffering, oppression, sanity, *reality*. People change over the course of their lives, and know, or should know, that it is possible to perceive the world and experience very differently and that cold DOES feel good, and that also, cold DOES feel bad and terrible, and there is a giant spectrum of true experience. In other words, I marvel that people don’t respect others’ subjectivity or reported experience. How can they not have learned some measure of empathy, merely from the changes they’ve been through in their own lives and the different people they were and are and will be? I said some of this to Zond-7 who replied that people are alienated from their former selves, their younger selves, and instead construct narratives in which they used to be wrong, and now are right. I felt like I was seeing in greater depth how it is that people lose or never develop a sense of that respect and empathy and how related it is (or can be ) to discontinuity of identity and self hate/disrespect. I realized that “self respect” has to include all your selves across time. Zond-7 went on to talk about the evening person (who stays up too late) dissing the morning person (your future self who you are screwing up by staying up too late) so that the morning person (future you) is really angry at past you from the evening before. (Hmm, I am still thinking about that and myself and my issues with health and driving myself too hard.) We made some remarks on how lovely it would have been in a way to have these thoughts in 1789 or something when we could have written “A Treatise on the Unities and Discontinuities of Human Consciousness and the Rational Social Mind” and been studied like geniuses hundreds of years later but instead it will be like “LiveJournal entry, ho hum, 2 comments”. Hahaha! We didn’t mean it and do believe it is a million million times better to have the net and have everyone saying this sort of thing in casual asides to ferment & propagate like letters but more discoverable.

I give you a quote from Flora Tristan, from the chapter “Why I Mention Women” in The Workers’ Union, 1843, the book where she called for an international social justice movement and union to transcend existing governments:

Workers, in 1791, your fathers proclaimed the immortal declaration of the rights of man, and it is to that solemn declaration that today you owe your being free and equal men before the law. May your fathers be honored for this great work! But, proletarians, there remains for you men of 1843 a no less great work to finish. In your turn, emancipate the last slaves still remaining in French society; proclaim the rights of woman, in the same terms your fathers proclaimed yours.
“We, French proletarians, after fifty-three years of experience, recognize that we are duly enlightened and convinced that the neglect and scorn perpetrated upon the natural rights of women are the only cause of unhappiness in the world, and we have resolved to expose her sacred and inalienable rights in a solemn declaration inscribed in our charter. We wish women to be informed of our declaration, so that they will not let themselves be oppressed and degraded any more by man’s injustice and tyranny, and so that men will respect the freedom and equality they enjoy in their wives and mothers.
1. The goal of society necessarily being the common happiness of men and women, the Workers’ Union guarantees them the enjoyment of their rights as working men and women.
2. Their rights include equal admission to the Workers’ Union palaces, whether they be children, or disabled or elderly.
3. Women being man’s equal, we understand that girls will receive as rational, solid, and extensive (though different) an education in moral and professional matters as the boys.
4. As for the disabled and the elderly, in every way, the treatment will be the same for women as for men.

A footnote by the translator, Beverly Livingston, notes that Tristan had read Mary Wollstonecraft but probably not Olympe de Gouges.

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A day of doing everything superwoman style

Today I blogged a bit over at feministsf.net to post the Carl Brandon Society booklist of speculative fiction for Black History Month, adding links for all the books and authors and a few notes. I had coffee with Mark and gossiped somewhat harshly and honestly about literary things. I was really glad he called and pried me out of my comfortable electric blanket cave, because it was a beautiful day and that was some good pie. I was on crutches, and I might add, only halfway so and very nimbly.

Then I came home and rested a bit and tore apart the bathroom “closet” which is actually the bathtub and shower with a clothes-hanging rail thing and some boards on top and milk crates in the bathtub. Oh, my god, what a lot of crap got thrown in there over the last year. At some point, something dripped or condensed. Mold grew. There is still mold. I threw away 4 enormous bags of stuff, and put the rest in bins, in rough order, and washed some things to put elsewhere. Everything in there needs to be removed & washed and the tub blasted with anti-mildew cannons. For now, it’s at least decrufted and orderly.

I did much the same thing to the hall closet, in which some months ago my parents labored to install shelves. Those shelves were buried in stuff that has not been put away in the intervening months. I threw out a lot of sheets to make everything fit in the little bins for sheets and blankets and pillowcases. Whew! Most of it I did sitting down, but it was still a lot of physical work.

Then, feeling like a huge weight was off me, I rested a tiny bit more. And then drove off to deposit checks and to vote. (Checks, on crutches! Scarily! Voting, in the chair, because it was too far, and I didn’t think I could stand there and if there was no chair to sit in I’d be screwed.)

I snapped at the same “nice” volunteer lady I snapped at last time. She was weirdly holding the door for me even though the door was propped open (and she was in the way doing it.) I stopped dead and just stared at her in a fake polite way… waiting. Her smile got tenser. “Go right ahead!” I said. “Go on in! After you!”

Nice Voting Lady: Oh! *MASSIVE FLUSTERMENT*
Me: …. (waits)
Nice Voting Lady: Let me help you, here!
Me: Excuse me! *waits attentively*
Nice Voting Lady: I’ll just hold the door for you!
Me: Hmmm. Why? It’s propped open. (beginning to crack up laughing)
Nice Voting Lady: (with goose-hissing hostility, now) Well, why don’t I just hold it.
Me: Why? Does it make you feel good about yourself, like you’re helping crippled people? *completely loses it laughing*
Nice Voting Lady: *Ladylike sputtering* (Finally gets out of my way)

I am afraid I do not respect my elders sometimes as I should. I do not always spare them when they act weird because they are uncomfortable with me. Their pity is only a thin veneer over the anger they seem to have at me for being unexpected, and for causing them confusion and discomfort.

Oh well, usually, I’m super nice.

Then I drove off realizing there was no way I had it in me to go to the beach. I thought of the ocean and how nice it is to gaze at. I want warm sand against my cheek as I close my eyes against the sun and hear shrieky seagull noises and distant kids playing. I want to smell the clean but seaweedy smell and bake myself for hours like a dead thing washed up by the tide or a loaftastic elephant seal. No… could not make it. So I drove up to where 92 meets 280, where the bike riders park, and sat on the gravel next to my car, overlooking the reservoir & its sparkles & flocks of birds. Nearly as good… It’s a good thing I keep that picnic blanket in my car. I wished I had the perfect turkey sandwich at that moment and also that I was sweaty from physical exertion, hiking or swimming. Alas no. Just stiff and hurty from walking. I wrote poetry and thought about poetry and translations and looked at things I’d written. I felt so glad that there are always new things to think and that I can write them all down, and that I’m not bored with my own mind. In some ways it’s like tracks deepening, but there are still wild forays outwards.

I wrote poetry and also some musings on poetry and I thought about putting my essays-on-poetics and a whole jesusfuckload of translations up on Composite. I have an enormous backlog of translations and could post one every day for months without breaking a sweat. So… I might just start slammming them up there. Translation & publishing and international copyright are so fucking broken. I am done with that as a worry. Seriously, fuck it.

Anyway, writing was glorious. I stayed up there about an hour in the beautiful beautiful warm sunlight. My bones rejoiced. Even with my butt on a picnic blanket by the side of the road in the gravel & broken glass.

I crutched in to get Moomin! For the first time since mid October! Then I wished I hadn’t. I got out my chair and watched him run around the playground with some other kids. The other kids’ mom talked with me, when we both started laughing at Moomin who cannily pretended he wasn’t it, sidling up to his classmate’s little brother to tag him and run. Moomin was consistently the slowest runner, but excellent with strategy. He would stop and consider and plan.

At home he read a little bit and then I ripped him away from his book to play Crazy Machines, which came in the mail today! It was just his speed. He played without stopping to Level 16. I helped explain the way gears and rotational direction work. A perfect game for him, with no time pressure or THINGS COMING AT YOU OMG OMG ADRENALINE.

He did some homework and I rested and then I started cleaning obsessively again. I am freaking a bit that I will be working again, and not really better, and all the housecleaning and child care will fall on me and I’ll be completely fucked.

IN between that, while I was trying not to grab the mouse from Moomin and take over his Crazy Machines game, I modded up my wheelchair Barbie (aka “Becky”) with a black macbook with stickers:

with laptop

I’ve had this barbie doll since about 1993 when I was disabled the first time. She had my exact outfit with jeans, backpack, converse, and plaid flannel shirt. Also, my wheelchair at the time was red. And… it sounds corny… but I really did like having some kind of pop culture object that reflected something of my reality. She needs a haircut and a dye job don’t you think? Is it insane that I want to print out a tiny bit of text… I was thinking maybe a very-tiny screen shot of some blog that I read plus ecto in the background, and a term window, to paste into her computer screen…

Yes you heard me. I play with Barbies.

Then I made dinner for Moomin and then dinner for me and Rook (who has been at horrible late meetings) and tried to clean a little more and collapsed into a little heap. I should not have done anything else after dinner. And, I should not have done an errand AND gone to coffee AND voted AND picked Moomin up AND sat at the playground for so long AND made dinner. That was like the old me, trying to bust out, but I’m very much not there yet. Really, I can do *one thing* and pick up Moomin. There is no room for all that hauling ass. I was doing all that y’all and also working like 3 jobs … how?

I got cranky after about 8pm as I realized that there is so much to do. And i could just keep doing it. And I began to fret that I will not know how to manage things and that Moomin will not learn how to pick up after himself and neither will Rook and I will be their servant for the next 10 years. I unloaded the dishwasher and washed the dishes rather bangily and with a heart full of bitchiness. Oh where is my beautiful commune in which all the shit work is done together with hearty socialist gusto? And we don’t unload it all off onto someone of lower status? Where? Then I knew I was over tired and it was time to stop.

Also I was hurting like fuck and just disassociating as best I could in the name of “pushing myself to walk more” but also I think because I feel weirdly driven.

I still keep thinking… a million times a day… what if I had been dying, or degenerating as rapidly as I had feared… and never got time in this world to get my shit together. So much of the time I felt so helpless and frustrated. I have just got to do this and get my life in order while I can.

As even more of an excuse I offer to you that my parents are coming and I especially cannot take any crappy pity or condescension and so my plan is that everything is astonishingly clean. Or at least more of it.

So I will take a painkiller now and maybe cry recreationally while holding onto a pillow, and have hot chocolate in the bath.

It was nice to feel like my old self for most of the day.

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Crosslinky thoughts

About intersections of disability, body image, gender, and family, I guest blogged over here on Body Impolitic: Our Big Old Crippled Crazy Bodies Are Political.

And there’s a flippant book review on FeministSF of a sort of feminist action-cryptography-mysticism-conspiracy-novel from 1988, The Eight by Katharine Neville, at The pleasure of retro.

I’m enjoying io9 a lot. It got an instant community of good commenters, and it’s got archives back to last October, so I haven’t been bored on the internet for a while now.

I have been working on walking quietly around the house, and my enormous detailed obsessive bundle of information about The Orphan’s Tales including a high level summary, a more detailed summary of In the Night Garden, and a glossary of characters and place names. (You can follow that link; no spoilers there, but the links from it can be spoilery.)

I’m having another quiet weekend mostly puttering in the house and resting and reading in bed. Saturday we had a Dragons game with action figures and a battle. Sunday I helped Moomin with his diorama and his book report on a book about a time machine and then in SF (dinner at Emmy’s with Zond-7 and then helplessly watching him melt down with stress for a while, then we Planned Things and both felt better.) Today was very relaxed with more reading and computing and then one of those very harmonious 2 hour long conversations over chicken tacos and while driving… about class, books, SF, Scalzi, Orphan’s Tales, Potter fanfic, our families, childhood memories, the nature of storytelling and anecdote. We’re all back in Deadwood now; Moomin is about to give us a practice session of his oral report on the time machine book. We have all watched a YouTube video with Korean breakdancers…. thus goes my life…

My only complaint is that it’s cold, rainy, my legs hurt, my knees are being horrible I think from the increased amount of walking on my less-spastic-but-weakened legs. Spring, please come!

OH… and I’m reading on Friday at Queer Open Mic at the Three Dollar Bill Cafe, in the LGBT Center in SF, with several other readers from Can I Sit With You? including international glam queen blogstar SJ of I, Asshole, and then the open mic itself, which is always entertaining and thought-provoking. If you’re around, do please come to it! And… buy the book, which make a very good present for older elementary school kids & up, if you don’t mind them reading some swears.

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A brief mention of The Orphan’s Tales

The Orphan’s Tales: In the Night Garden was one of the best books I’ve read in a while. Now that I’ve read book 2, Cities of Coin and Spice I feel comfortable elevating it to my golden bookshelf of great books of all time. It is a classic “Mirror for Princes” or book of moral instruction robed in the most entertaining sugary stories. Beasts and monsters, fantastic quests, myths, and the subtle moving of relationships over time, mix with global politics and the pleasure of creation of worlds, & with a healthy dose of messing gender politics and narrative. It makes everything else look clumsy. I’ve read the Pancatantra, different versions of Kalila and Dimna, the Mahabharata, various translations of 1001 Nights and the Ramayana, all the Icelandic and Norwegian sagas you can think of and more, and a wad of the longer Chinese novels as well. Long, complicated novels with vast arcs of interrelated stories! My obsession! It’s like savoring the endless complexities of a drink of water when you’re dying of thirst. This is a deeply satisfying book. Sugar and good medicine, as a mirror for princesses should be.

I am annoyed at the misunderstanding of it as a collection of fairy tales. You could read it that way… and it could be lovely and satisfying and entertaining that way too.

But damn, the beautiful writing! The sentences that make me swoon, one after the other! The complicated structure! The way so many characters have tendrils into other stories 5 layers deep and 500 pages away! The way that you see the same story from multiple tellings and points of view, not in a bludgeon-you-over-the-head way but sideways so you have to think and remember and look back to figure it out, because an echo has caught your ear or eye.

I’m rereading it for the third time and figuring things out while taking notes. I had to, to figure out whether it was always the Wizard Omir or not in some of the stories, and who everyone was, and when (I am not quite clear on the when of things as the Caliphates are confusing, and Ragnhild and the wars.)

The sources are pleasantly diverse to anyone who loves things to be non-eurocentric. Yes it has central european fairy tale roots, and arab and persian, and norse, and a bit of chineseness and lots of hindu mythological/philosophical/literary sources. WITHOUT BEING STUPID about it. So rare!

You will notice that barely anyone is white and if they are it is a matter of remark that they have sun-colored hair or milk-skin; it is good too to read something where the baseline isn’t white white white.

If I could just point out… what Valente has done is pretty fucking amazing. The Pancatantra for example does nested stories with dazzling splendor and with the beautiful layering of meaning & message that builds up so that by the end you are likely taught some part of the complicated lessons of how it might be wise to treat other people well and behave morally or whatever. But the characters from the Friends book don’t resurface transformed by time and adventures and new relationships in later tales – as they do in The Orphan’s Tales. In My Name is Red, another very lovely but also very maddening-because-so-sexist book of complex nested stories that pack a political punch, the stories are interrelated and from different points of view, unlike the 1001 Nights or older tales, but Valente’s book is actually larger in scope and twice as complicated. She kicks Orhan Pamuk’s ass around the block and back. May I live to see her Nobel Prize… surely she will give a better speech than Lessing’s vague Luddite rant which I can’t snarl about enough…

(What I mean about Pamuk and sexism is just utter awkward blindness, like you’re reading some fabulous lovely book and then realize in midstream or right away if you’re tuned in, that there’s one female character out of a cast of hundreds and she’s THE LAND or THE NATION or something, totally smurfette syndrome, with added annoying nationalism that is also romantic love. Pamuk suffers from it, badly. Valente is the antidote to it – I’ve been waiting all my life to read this.)

Valente deserves world level recognition of these books. I have a lot more to say about this and will be posting something more coherent on the feministsf blog and wiki. My notes while reading developed into a sort of glossary of the characters and some different outlines of events. They’ll have massive spoilers, and are meant for the pleasure of re-reading with increased understanding – not for use while reading the first time unless you want to be a dirty rotten cheater.

And all written with the most beautiful exquisite sense of humor!

All this is mostly about book 1. But my god, in book 2, The book of the storm! The coins! Valente is not fucking around or pulling any punches here.

Could someone please do me a favor and get Peter Beagle to read it just to make him faint with envy and pleasure? Twist his arm, please. I only know him a little and not well enough to persuade him. But well enough to want to give him a present.

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The realm of goodness: Maureen Owen

Meanwhile I’m reading the good books too, and the great. Maureen Owen’s Amelia Earheart! ZOMG! I would put it together with airplane and feminism poems that i know and have translated, in a big anthology. Here is some mad poet speak for the middle of the night for you all.

I get so mad at Maureen Owen.

The other day I was at hazelbroom’s house while she was giving Zond-7 a massage and in between sitting at the sunny kitchen table with city backyard noises outside and her partner’s paintings half finished through the doorway into the laundry room, I must have gone to pee about 6 times from all the coffee and chai and water and massage. And in the bathroom was one of my favorite poetry books, Living in the Open, and I thought about how many years it took me from high school onward… I read it in maybe 1986? 87? to get beyond writing under that shadow though often it was only a few lines or a feeling of stolidity and stompy earnestness and jangledy language-loving. I do still take many lines to heart, like “living open to love in the leafy flesh”. Who couldn’t like that! No matter if it and other great things are embedded in peanut butter and middle class hippie crystal garden mystique.

I only found Owen’s poetry last year and had the deafening realization that I was writing in Owen’s shadow and didn’t know it. And I don’t mind, really… While I minded horribly about not being able to get out from the echo of Piercy, which fascinated and yet often repulsed me — unnatural to all that is rambling & inchoate. It is like the moments of greatness that Judy Grahn gets to. I love them so. I love them fiercely! But then I’m like NO FUCK NO don’t take that wrong turn! Get outta proseville! Get your head out of your ass! The finality of my final lines were what people liked in their piercyishness and yet they were FALSE and I knew it. I know about 1993 I was working like mad to get out of that precious little box, but I got out.

Anyway, all hail the lovely lines of AE and the grandness, the rambling, her words float over the page and mind, the total unfalseness, fucking FREEDOM, and the deep engagement in imaginary spaces. Nothing namby pamby humdrum coffee table in THAT noise. No little wrapup hmmMMMmmm moment neatening that package with a tightass doubleknot of meaning nailed home to obviousoland. I wish I knew where she was.

I meant to say I get so mad at her for being so fucking awesome of a writer.

At best Wanda Coleman gets there but not the rambling – more with a laser-dense tapestry of confusion and noise. Diane Wakoski is awfully good but does not float free. I read her and go with it, and then want to pull out a bigass sword and cut her chains. I love poetry best that unanchors me, unanchors language. & most of all doesn’t do what i expect it to and must hover on the edge of sense and jump like bounding on other planets, like low gravity.

Maureen is the best when she’s at her best. I get high on that stuff.

Plus just hearing her on a recording going STAND UP! in a young-ish voice is another kind of high.

Poets that good fill me with hope and relief.

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