Wednesday, May 12, 2010

the carnival continues... UK edition

also see The Telegraph for a great article by Mary Riddell


file under:  
my calendar tells me it's 2010. all evidence suggests someone is playing a trick on me... 

following on from this morning's rant, Shirley brought this delightful piece of media to my attention:

from the BBC's coverage of Cameron's newly elected cabinet regarding the new Home Secretary and Minister for Women and Equality, Theresa May (the only female cabinet member and only the second woman to ever hold the Home Sec position)

A passionate moderniser with an exotic taste in shoes, she famously ruffled feathers when she told Tory activists they were seen as members of the "nasty party".

and yes, the bold is my own.

I know what you're thinking... probably something like my reaction at first glance,
'Oh, this must have be some light-hearted get-to-know-them piece full of little personal and inconsequential anecdotes.'

Alas you, like me, would be wrong. 



i wanted to give Joel something really beautiful to welcome him to his summer, which begins today...

i've been listening to music all morning. hadn't heard this in ages and was reminded that as with so many of Bjork's love songs, she writes 'em like few others can... and though it's near impossible to make a choice, i always find the strings in this track nothing short of breath-taking. this is for him, who is no less so...

One hand allows the other
So much and me

Born stubborn me
Will always be
Before you count
One two three
I will have grown my own private branch
Of this tree

You gardener
You discipliner
I can obey all of your rules
And still be, be

I never thought I would compromise

Let's unite tonight
We shouldn't fight
Embrace you tight
Let's unite tonight

I thrive best hermit style
With a beard and a pipe
And a parrot on each side
But now I can't do this without you

I never thought I would compromise

Let's unite tonight
We shouldn't fight
Embrace you tight
Let's unite tonight

One hand allows the other
So much and me


15 days and counting...


roll up roll up the the carnival's come to town

pulling up the soap box to momentarily speak my mind...

Elena Kagan, Obama SCOTUS nominee. frankly, i watched with horror yesterday evening as over at the daily dish Sullivan pushed and pushed and pushed on the question of her orientation. given there'd been discussion over at the queer and queerer podcast and Peterson's blog over outing public figures with power, this was yet another case of murky moral waters in which intersecting issues collide.

from the daily dish daily wrap:
In Kagan coverage, Andrew scrutinized her careerism and elitism, readers continued to dissent with him over his outing inquiries, and others commented on her issues with recruitment on campus. Horton examined her views on the executive, Stuart Taylor did the same approvingly, Josh Green assessed the politics of the confirmation, Maggie Gallagher tried to decipher her stance on marriage equality, and a New Yorker commenter challenged Toobin on the closet. Andrew continued to mull over Kagan's identity here and especially here.
Finally, an answer appeared.

as in the discussion with Peterson and Zack, i sifted through it all thinking it's murky but in this case it's not because of the ethics of outing. it would be a major landmark in civil rights progress had she turned out to be gay. on that, i agree with Sullivan. but another factor comes in here that reminded me of Peterson and Zack's discussion because the other point of contention in it was over whether men (gay or straight) can be feminists...

here's the moment that got me really annoyed -- a reader dissents:

Gosh you are pissing me off today!  Toobin said they have been friends for 30 years, and he couldn't tell you what she is passionate about. If she is so private she doesn't share her own beliefs on many issues, I don't understand how anyone would expect her to share her sexual preference. She hasn't openly appeared with a partner, so whether she is straight, gay or just wants to be friends with a bunch of books is hardly my business.
The other thing I find disconcerting is everyone seems to assume because she is 50 and not married she must be gay? Couldn't she just be single? Maybe she hasn't ever met anyone she wants to marry, or someone who wasn't intimidated by her fierce intellect and ambition. Maybe she, and by extension, the White House are telling the truth, and have said all they are going to say.
Sullivan responded:
"I always know when someone has no idea how being gay can affect one's entire life-experience when they use the term "sexual preference." It's like a taste in rock rather than country. They would never use that context about a heterosexual."
(italics my own - LB)

another reader dissents:
"Did you ask the same question about Sonia Sotomayor that you are now asking about Elena Kagan?

In her early twenties Sotomayor married a man, but she has been single ever since when they divorced in her late twenties, and she has had no children. Did you demand information about her sexual identity, as you now demand it about Kagan? If not, why not? Is it simply because Kagan was never married to a man? Please consider for a moment the immense presumptiveness this implies."
Sullivan responds:

"Well, Sotomayor had some kind of private life that clearly tipped the scales toward heterosexuality. Kagan appears to have none at all."

i'll leave aside the many layered ironies of that absurdly narrow and ignorant view of human sexualities and indeed 'immense presumptiveness' about Sotomayor's orientation in that 'tipping the scales' comment, which i'm not even going to bother getting into because there's other things i want to do with my day. suffice to say if Sullivan's gonna reject a reader's comment based on their (presumably straight) ignorance by using the word 'preference' then frankly he deserves to be called out for his blindness as a man.

why all this speculation in the first place? (please look away now if you are sensitive, i'm about to say something quite unseemly and maybe to some even grotesque...)

my firm belief is that it's not whether she's gay or straight that's the real issue here - it's the persistent stigma of a woman being successful and ... single. i'm sorry, i know that's a distasteful thing to say but it had to be said. my response:

I always know when someone has no idea how being female can affect one's entire life-experience when they think a 50 year old woman's apparent lack of any intimate relationships is a matter worth this level of scrutiny.  

Sullivan's not alone from speaking out of his male privilege. David Brooks called her an "Organization Kid". a kid. that should've been called out for what it is: infantalization of a 50 year old woman. if there's one thing Kagan is not, it's a child. she's deserves the respect of not to be referred to as a "kid".

i might be wrong but those dissenting readers who tackle Sullivan read to me like women's voices. and i'm with them regardless of their gender, because i too was pissed off...

Kagan is a woman who's successful, learned, lined up for a tenured position of life-long power.
would it make any difference if she were gay as well as single? not at all. it'd likely be a good thing for the court. just as her being a woman is good for the court. but that misses the point. her life is being raked over because there was no apparent evidence that she's ever had a partner. she has "no private life". because she's single and from all reports it seems she has been for most of her adult life.

William Saletan made very sharp critique of Sullivan's scrutinising by turning his own words against him and Sullivan backed down shortly before an answer (she's straight) was published. 

should it surprise me that one of the most visible gay voices in the political media persists one of the oldest patriarchal tricks in the book? of baiting a woman because her lack of a partner must mean something... for generations men have assumed if a woman is single for long enough well, there's only one explanation - she must be gay.

i know it's bizarre to suggest what's going on here is a gay man doing what far too many straight men do all the time. after all, one would have to presume it's not as if Sullivan's male identity is threatened if she rejects men. but there it is all the same. i've been a woman in this world long enough to know the stigma that women experience if they don't have a man to give them dignity as a person. i know far too many women that are pitied for not having a partner. to assume that "she must be gay" meme is simply homophobia in action is actually to miss the underlying misogyny at work.

i read it all yesterday with horror because i read it as a woman.

Sullivan claimed saying someone is gay shouldn't be seen as libel. this direct asking about her sexual identity given shouldn't be seen as an act of shaming, because being gay isn't something to be ashamed of. on that we are agreed. and yet:

Elena Kagan: Successful. and it would appear, Straight. but dear god... 50 and Single. no wonder inquiring minds thought she must have something to hide. why's she not out and proud? what a curiosity... what a freak...


Thursday, May 06, 2010

take five...

Hammock - Breathturn from David Altobelli on Vimeo.
From the album "Chasing After Shadows... Living with the Ghosts"  (May 18, 2010)
Director/Editor: David Altobelli

official band site here <--follow the twitter and FB links there for more info.

apparently these guys are outta Nashville. Chris loves 'em. they gotta be good.
so very lovely. have to get a hold of more of this.



wholeness is togetherness

no time to write at the moment -- i'm running up against a rapidly looming deadline for school.
still, i did manage to procrastinate by writing a piece for Shirley over at Flowers For Rifles... it's here.

right, really need to get my ass into gear. right now there are many blank pages to fill and only muddled thoughts to fill them with.

'til next week, hope you are safe and well wherever you are.

oh, one last thing: great piece on Nashville (lack of) media coverage here at The Nashville Scene


Monday, May 03, 2010

five feet high and rising

yesterday was anything but a day of rest. i had hoped to be buried in writing for school and other projects but the day was totally overtaken by dramatic turns. my stepmother (who has been in hospital recently but back home and apparently doing well) collapsed yesterday and was rushed by ambulance to A&E. seems she has reacted very badly to medication she was on. things seem to stabilise over the day but we're waiting for more news. it's been stressful. especially for my dad. UPDATE: she's better than yesterday. sitting up and chatting.

meanwhile my attention was being pulled to Nashville as the thunderstorms kept rolling in and i tried to keep track of the flooding. i think the scale and impact of the damage has yet to be fully realised and going by the impact of severe flooding here in Ireland and Britain over the winter, it is likely that things will likely get worse before they get better.

i've been disturbed at just how poor the mainstream national media coverage has been of the floods. for those living outside of TN without access to local news channels, the best on the ground coverage is coming from the Nashvillest blog and The Tennessean. both have been exemplary.

i joined twitter about a week ago. thought i'd give it a trial spin. very glad i did now. i really hope twitter doesn't go the way of facebook as it attempts to monetise what they've got going on. any thoughts of my returning to facebook have been squashed by their recent and invasive 'connections' developments which are clearly designed to serve their customers (ie companies seeking marketing data) and not the user (ie individuals with a facebook profile)
there's really good advice for facebook users at this EFF site with helpful translations of facebookspeak to explain just what the 'connections' and 'like' button are actually designed for. personally, i found scouring the red hyperlinks on their site a disturbing read. 

compared to the mainstream media twitter has proved an incredibly adept piece of social networking. i was deeply suspicious of twitter when it first appeared, but in a crisis, at least for those with privilege of online access, it's been an incredible source of information.

here's a strangely beautiful video made over the weekend: