Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Stubborn old goats

No matter what I did, they resolutely refused to look at the camera.

My post on women going shirtless got major hits from Reddit, StumbleUpon and other link-sites. I think I hit a nerve, particularly in this kind of heat.

This also means, if I may borrow a line from Rancid: And out come the wolves. Trolls, trolls, everywhere. As I've said before, I used to be jealous of the Big Bloggers, until I fully understood what-all they have to put up with. Yech.

Highly amusing was watching the anti-feminist trolls try to figure out what they should be fussing about. Ordinarily, men are lusting for women to be naked, so....what exactly is the issue? Unfortunately, the thread's Head Troll has deleted all of his convoluted comments in a huff, or you could chortle at the logic: We shouldn't be showing our breasts because.... men like breasts. In other words, they might see some breasts they don't like! Another fascinating argument was all about hard-ons: Men have involuntary reactions to breasts! And of course, this means women should live their lives to make men's penises more comfortable at all times. When they want hard-ons, we should be stripping. When they don't, we shouldn't.

That seems easy enough to figure out, huh?

Meanwhile, let's hope some hearty gals out there start organizing some shirtless-days for women... as several posters noted on Reddit, they can't arrest everyone. This is the same way women started wearing pants: en masse. The only way.

It was the 8th grade. The note was passed: JEANS ON FRIDAY. That was all it said. We all knew, yes. Jeans on Friday. Only a couple of goodie-goodies primly preferred to continue "dressing as ladies"--although I noticed that a few years later, they were wearing jeans with the rest of us.

And so, we wore the jeans on Friday. Fat, thin, middle-class and poor. Rich jeans, poor jeans. And I remember that day very well, because all the girls grinned at each other: haha, look at us!

We just kept wearing them. We didn't stop.

About a month later, an official school announcement was read: Girls can wear pants now! We laughed our blue-jean-clad butts off; we were already wearing them! And then we learned something important (also applicable to laws like jay-walking and pot-smoking): Your "law" means shit if nobody follows it. [1]

We might do the same with the laws governing the exposure of women's chests. Can they arrest hundreds of women on a beach at the same time?

Actually, that might turn into quite a party!


Speaking of pot-smoking, the New York Times ran a big Reefer Madness pot addiction story last week. We were even warned that legal ganja would result in a rise in "fatalities"--and silly me, I wasn't aware there was ever ONE fatality from marijuana-overdose in the entire history of the known world.

For those of us who know from addiction, the NYT article was like the proverbial fun-house mirror, as they offered the example of someone who kept a residence, job and dog for 20 years as an "addict"... say what?

Can somebody say raise the bar?

One of the problems with AA turning everybody into an alcoholic in the late 80s (no, everyone isn't, even if you were barfing into the toilet a few more times than you intended), is this kind of nonsense. Addiction is something very specific, and there are signposts. When you are homeless (I was), can't keep a job (I couldn't), systematically drive away everyone who cares about you (I did), start getting sick all the time (oh dear God)--then you got trouble. [2]

Just being extremely bummed out? No. That is called depression, and self-medicating is a symptom.

I have no college degree and nevertheless, I understand this distinction. As they say, it isn't rocket science.

What it is: AA was colonized by the middle classes in the late 80s/early 90s. In these suburban enclaves, if someone dared to speak honestly about something like sleeping in their car for months at a time, or jacking mama's last 3 bucks, the middle-class, still-gainfully-employed types would shift uncomfortably in their seats. [3] If you wanted gritty reality, you had to go to the meetings with names like Darkness on the Edge of Town (apologies to The Boss). Alcoholics Anonymous and the 12-Steps became transformed into a lifestyle-thing, rather like eating organic.

For some reason, the 12-Steps seemed tailor-made for the narcissism of the affluent. They jumped into the process with aplomb, as if it was psychoanalysis. And in the meantime, you couldn't get a genuine addict or alcoholic to even read the 12-Steps out loud without pausing to argue with you about them.

And the 12-Steps changed, and AA changed... and someday, I will attempt to grapple with the whole subject, and my feelings about that. And why I stopped being an active member, as my beloved late sponsor also did (for religious reasons of her own).

I heartily recommend Elayne Rapping's book, The Culture of Recovery, Making Sense of the Self-Help Movement in Women's Lives, a feminist reading of this whole phenomenon. And I hope to revisit the topic at a future date.


[1] William F Buckley was (believe it or not) in favor of legalizing (and taxing) marijuana for that reason. He believed marijuana laws turned regular, law-abiding people into criminals. He said law served people, people do not serve law, and if a majority of people want pot, keeping it illegal eroded respect for authority and law. (Ya think?)

[2] Notice the very dramatic addiction-themed TV show Intervention doesn't bother with "marijuana addicts"--which as one of my friends said, would consist of an entire hour of potheads watching TV and eating bags of Cheetos. (The "intervention" would be someone's kids complaining that they had to change the kitty litter: Do you ever think of MY feelings?!?)

Not exactly cutting-edge reality TV. And the proof is in the pudding.

[3] An AA friend once told me about attending a "rich" AA meeting in Hollywood. One woman's idea of "hitting rock bottom" was the day she was forced to take the kids to McDonalds for supper. (People shook their heads, wow, that is terrible.)

Lord have mercy, can you believe anybody would FALL SO FAR?


OM said...

One of the biggest problems is with the word Drugs. I'm not saying marijuana is all good. I know enough people whose lives would be better if they took it easy, but I also know enough people who destroy the lives of everyone around them and walk around like zombies because of heroin. Once everything is grouped together as Drugs, we end up with misguided slippery-slope / gateway theories.

People say that by legalizing it we'll be sending the wrong moral message to children. So the moral message we're sending instead is that most children will grow up thinking of themselves as criminals who need to hide something from the government.

K.C. Jones said...

This was a wonderful post! And I also support NORML! I don't smoke pot, personally I think it's sort of stupid, (that and it would seriously interact with my meds)BUT doing stupid things is not supposed to be illegal...

I am also conflicted with the AA culture-for one thing, my goal in life is not to be serene, i.e. a zombie who never gets upset or angry, which is what 12-step groups seem to imply. Secondly, they only want to deal with the addictions of drugs or alcohol. I've got an eating disorder and would love to have a sponsorship program, but the few times I've gone, it's been quite clear that I do not belong. I've tried going to groups like Emotions Anonymous and some are okay, but I want more advocacy action and less of the serenity.

And I'm with you on the how mainstream it's gotten to proclaim everyone has an addiction. My dad told me the other day that I was addicted to the computer and I sighed and informed him that no, I did not, because although I do spend a lot of time on it, it does not interfere with my life, which is the simplest definition of an addiction or illness. If I didn't go to work, church, play music, eat, sleep, spend time with friends, read, etc. then perhaps I would be an addict to my computer, but I do, so please stop minimizing true addiction! I think people with privilege like to label things that they find distasteful as an addiction, just because they have the power to criminalize it and make themselves feel more normal and better for not liking the same things.

sheila said...

Legalizing pot would be the smartest thing this country could possibly do. I mean...if you get caught selling large amounts, sure, you can go to jail, but these people in prison now or local jails for a joint or bag, how stupid. What a waste of taxpayer money, time and the court system.

Taxing pot would be a wonderful solution. Not jailing for minor offenses just makes sense.

Pot never hurt anyone. And before it became 'bad' we used hemp for everything. And the ONLY reason it because bad was because of some publisher who was losing dough. I'm not sure but i think it was Hearst.

Annnd our founding fathers smoked dope everyday.


SnowdropExplodes said...

On the whole topless thing, apparently France is going the other direction.

As for legalising cannabis - I agree: keeping it illegal serves no obvious purpose because its use is just not seen as a big deal. Heck, even my Mum's used pot. And, like your pointed out, nobody has yet been able to find a deadly dose of marijuana. Compare pot to alcohol in terms of the damage done, and it's clear that booze is far more dangerous.

As comedian Alan Davies pointed out, "you never EVER see someone crush out a spliff and then go, 'Right, who wants some!?' (waves fists aggressively)"

Rachel said...

As well as taxes, the gov. could collect a good amount of money by charging people pot-growing licenses and setting up legal steps you must go through to become a dealer, just as anyone who starts their own business.

mzbitca said...

Honestly, as a therapist who works with addiction I know my life would be so much easier if they would just fucking legalize pot already.

Most of my kids smoke pot consistently but that's not where they are getting into trouble for the most part. It's the pills and coke and alcohol and heroin that is fucking up their lives majorly.

Treating marijuana like it's fetanoyl laced heroin is counter productive and all it does it put people on the defensive and means I have to listen to five hundred versions of the pot is okay argument which I already basically agree with

Renegade Evolution said...

don't smoke weed, but think it should be legal...

on the topless thing...while in FL I spent a few days at a nudist resort, where EVERYONE was...gasp...naked! You know what? It was sexual sort new and strange for about three minutes. Then it was just people being naked. Being topless like men can be topless would actually cut down on the "Wooo, BOOBIES" thing.

word verification..."militha", is the funny personal army!

Rootietoot said...

I'd love to be able to go outside and work in my garden in just shorts (with pockets, for seed packets and such), without knowing I'd give the neighbor and golfers the willies. Didn't Twisty Faster get into a row about that, showing up at a public pool topless because she had no boobs at all? Am I recalling that right?

Dennis the Vizsla said...

It's a sad, sad day when you can't even take the kids to In-N-Out burger and have to settle for McDonald's instead ...

white rabbit said...

'Men have involuntary reactions to breasts!'

You hum it - I'll play it.

I don't why this response came to mind - must be in a silly mood...

John Powers said...

Your blog really is a great gift, and your willingness to address drugs and alcohol particularly so. Boomers had a lot of exposure to drugs and alcohol, but we've been very simplistic in talking about what we know, especially with our kids.

You make a very important point: "Addiction is something very specific." It's nice to see comments reinforce that because you point out how muddled we get when we don't acknowledge that. Heroin addiction is distinct from addiction to alcohol, and distinct from meth addiction, etc.

AT least one step in the 12 seems to me to contain a very helpful insight generally useful even to people not in the throes of addiction. And it's the one people argue about the most: "Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity."

Lots of people in AA don't believe in God. I may be way off base but I suspect that even for many who do, they don't see the Power as God.

The essential shift in perspective is moving from "Anything you can do I can do better;" that is a sense of self as other, towards a perspective of "I am a part of it." Either way there's a Power, what's different is our relationship to it.

Oh Gad, sorry for babbling when your paragraph about narcissism of the affluent vs. real addicts arguing makes the point brilliantly.

kikipotamus said...

I totally agree that civil disobedience en masse is a great way to get laws changed. Organization is key. Speaking of that, consider joining a protest group this Saturday, if there is one in your area, in solidarity with the people of Iran.

Meadester said...

I love goats. I cannot allow bad blood to continue between myself and a fellow goat lover, if possible.

You are spot on in your comments on both cannabis and AA (from what I know of AA, which is more than I wish I did).

On Ren's point I have been to Hedonism II in Jamaica where there is a nude beach and lots of topless women - and I can say that where exposure of any kind it is common it does become much less of an issue.

RE: My last comments here - your talk about men being assholes, you do have a point. Women can be equally assholish, though not in the same way.

I do not consider myself a liar, and do not regret defending my fellow commenter at that other blog, but we can take that up there if you wish.

A massive display of civil disobedience for either the "topless" laws, the laws against marijuana, or both would be quite a historic event.

Cassandra Says said...

That dude who deleted his comments and flounced in the other thread was quite something, huh? OMG don't you women understand how hard it is to get erections and that it's all your fault for having boobs?

On the pot's just SO FUNNY that people talk about pot addicts. I mean who are potheads a danger to unless we're going to count pizzas or bags of cookies as people?

Igroki said...

great post. i shall scoot on over to see the post on shirtless girls - how could i ever complain about such an event?

Pot - the laws are so backward, and the public morality with it. Economic arguments fail too. There is not a shred of reason in any anti-pot laws. I can only put it down to, as many pot-smokers do, some ancient anti-3rd world agenda. (fairly poor summise, I concur, but I really can't find any other direction with it)

Anonymous said...

Well, pot should definitely be legalized. No question. It smells a lot better than cigarettes in the first place!

And I definitely think women should be allowed to be topless. I mean, hell, go for it. I don't care. If someone is afraid of seeing bad breasts, he should just look around at the shirtless men with less figure than a sack of potatoes! I may love breasts, but I have the decency to keep it to myself and my partner. Equality regardless of sex, size, or shape!