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?