Sunday, February 27, 2005

Our hubris, ourselves

Robin Williams can't make fun of James Dobson on the Oscars tonight. Nor can he hint that Olive Oyl is anorexic nor that Betty Boop is a bit of a tramp or that Caspar the ghost wears white because he's in the Ku Klux Klan.

Seems the official enforcers of fear and loathing at the FCC are winning. We're all afraid to laugh now. Laughter is bad. We might offend someone.

Cultures that can no longer laugh at themselves because we are taking ourselves too fucking seriously are headed for the enormous fall. You know, the hubris fall. Read Greek tragedy. Bone up on the word. You're going to be hearing a lot about it in the next few years. Trust me.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Lorraine's Body Politic

Yesterday, I posted the following over at DailyKos and incited arguments I wasn't expecting. There were threads about abortion, gun rights, assisted suicide, fascism, and biggest surprise, a huge fight over whether it was appropriate to tell me I had a nice body.

My response to the body question was this. I think bodies are to be celebrated. The compliments that seemed genuine appealed to me. The ones that amounted to "show us your tits" annoyed me. Some other person may have had a different line than I did--perhaps any comment about his or her body would have been offensive. Maybe I shouldn't have posted the picture. Maybe I should have chosen a different one. You can read my justification for why I posted my picture on the Kos post.

Yes. I'm completely conversant in notions of objectivity/subjectivity, the male gaze, female objectification, etc. But I'm asking an honest question to those of you out there who read this. Is it okay to comment on someone else's body if what they've offered is a photograph of themselves?

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Poetry while I'm healing


The way of love is not
a subtle argument.

The door there
is devastation.

Birds make great sky-circles
of their freedom.

How do they learn that?
They fall, and falling,
they're given wings.

Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks

Wednesday, February 23, 2005


After all the problems I've had with my cervical spine, I found this old picture of it. The human form is lovely, don't you think?
So why would we allow right wing nutjobs to tell us what we can do with our gorgeous instruments?

No Dildoes for Alabama

The Supreme Court refused to rule today on the Eleventh Circuit Court's ruling that Alabama's banning of the sale of sex toys is constitutional. The ACLU's argument, that sex toys are covered under the right to privacy, was tacitly rejected by the Court in its refusal to take the case.

I've commented on this before. I'm sick as a dog right now, but I'm trying to pull my head together to write something about how it may be funnier than hell that Jim Bob isn't going to have to worry that his wife is getting orgasms from a vibrator, but really, this is a major invasion of the bedroom by the moral fascists who are trying to run the country at present.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Ithaca Falls

In the winter, these falls, which are 300 yards from my house, freeze solid.

Falls the Shadow


Frozen falls at night with snow falling on the camera lens.


The trees are dormant, awaiting spring.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Who knew Koko was a breast man?

Koko the gorilla, likes looking at breasts. Wouldn't it have been cheaper to get him a subscription to Playboy?

Friday, February 18, 2005

Counting my blessings, hating my bills

Pasta, again. I've come to hate fucking pasta. But it's cheap. When it's on sale, you can pick up four boxes of something or other for a buck. Throw a little jarred sauce on it, sprinkle a little parmesan, and you've got another meal. Tonight, my 7-year old is staying with me, and she opted for chicken noodle soup--her favourite. She'd live on it. Luckily, her dad fixes elaborate meals at his house, so a couple of meals a week of chicken broth won't do lasting damage.

But today, I'm really feeling it over the damn bills. Too many bills, not enough paycheck. I've already talked to the phone company--I have until Wednesday to pay them what I owe them. Next, I'll talk to NYSEG, and TWC, and the hospital, and my car insurance company.

I am extraordinarily lucky. I know that. I have an assistant professor's salary--but academia is not where you go to get rich. With two advanced degrees, I should be able to get a better paying job, but that would mean moving away from this small town where my daughters live, and I'm not willing to desert them. So, I'm stuck.

Most days, I blow it off. Tell myself, "it's only money." But today I feel badly. My oldest daughter asked for her allowance, and I had to tell her Id used it to buy groceries. I'd pay her on payday. She was gracious about it, but what kind of parent uses their 13-year old's money?

I love my life. I really do. I have amazing children. I have a roof over my house, a car, good friends. I laugh often and much. But I didn't expect to be 42 and living this close to the edge. I have no margins. I am fortunate enough to have friends who are willing to loan me money, but I wonder sometimes when I'll ever be in a position to pay them back.

It's only money. Why, tonight, does it feel like it's part of my identity?

Thursday, February 17, 2005

First Amendment

Free speech is never going to be easy. If someone threatens someone with Biblical punishment, does that constitute a threat to their safety? I don't know.

Oy vey.

Cry, The Beloved Women

I moved this story over to Daily Kos.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

The real obscenity

Ah Christ. It's not enough that I've been hit by one of those stomach bugs that's insisting on sending things back up the way they previously went down, now I've been nauseated by this. Our esteemed attorney general, who is suppposed to be protecting Constitutional rights, like the ones that have been trampled by the USA Patriot Act, our treatment of prisoners at Gitmo, our denial of due process to hundreds of internal enemies--you know, thoseConstitutional rights, has opted to pursue his first major case--against a pornographer. Unless we're talking the abuse of children or snuff films, I smell a complete distraction from the real issues.

Okay. I have to go barf now. Literally.

Thunder Snow

Some of you may have never experienced it, but it's happening right now. It was raining this morning, but the temperature is dropping, and rain has turned to ice pellets has turned to flakes of snow as big as your palm. I was just sitting at my computer, when an enormous flash reflected off my computer screen, followed by the crack of thunder. Thunder snow. What more perfect expression of the turmoil going on at my work this morning than a thunderstorm in the middle of a snow shower?

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Lest you think...

I only get my panties in a wad over Christian and Muslim fundamentalists, well, here's a shout-out to Hindus who apparently think the whole love thing is an abomination. Love causes anarchy. Love causes revolt. Love causes social unrest.
And while I may suck at love, I think it's a cool thing. So, commit an act of political and religious rebellion: fall in love.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Friday, February 11, 2005


Cry. That's what this story made me do. Rape has always been a facet of war, men confusing their guns and their machetes for their penises, penetrating women, penetrating land, spilling their seed of destruction and hatred before them.

It happened in Yugoslavia. The rape camps. The systematic use of rape to destroy these women's identities, force pregnancies on them, leave behind the permanent markers of these women's violations.

And what must we do? Tell these women that these children are their reward for violation? I do not pretend to understand those who would deny abortion to women who have been raped. And it's clear that for some of the women in this article, the children are their only consolation. But for others, getting pregnant from a rape has led to ostracism. "Insult to injury" doesn't even come close to covering it.

I was about to say something deeply cynical and snarky about all of this, but I think, instead, I will be quiet. And cry.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Let's hear it for cynical exploitation

It's February. Sweeps week. And, as usual, devoid of any new ideas, network television offers us the lesbian kiss. Ah, nothing like two gorgeous heterosexual women pretending for the titillation of those straight men in the audience to kiss one another as if it meant something. How much tongue? How much full lip contact? Will there be other parts of the body touching?

"Hey honey. How about a threesome?" he says, turning off the remote and reaching for his wife.

Michel Foucault is no doubt laughing in his grave. Our culture gets its knickers in a twist over the things that it is most titillated by. Certain members of our culture watch this stuff through hands over their eyes, fingers split open, and then file complaints with the FCC. In the meantime, advertisers and television producers collaborate together to cynically exploit this culture's completely fucked-up attitudes toward sex, sexuality, and gender. I know, I sound like a broken record. But I can't help it.

Foucault wrote that it is the culture that is most obsessed with regulating sex that creates a situation where sex is everywhere. And sex is everywhere in this culture. I want us to reclaim sex as the amazing thing it is, not some commercial enterprise that is used to sell us things. And by the way, sells us completely awful images of women's bodies, too. I read Eve Ensler's The Good Body last night. Every word resonated.

How can a culture that hates bodies really embrace sex? And how can a culture that hates sex really embrace love?

All Hail King Howard

Viggo Dean.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005


I'm not a poet, but I gave it a shot.


"I want to taste your history," he said,
his tongue at the entrance to me.
"You taste like salted honey,"
I thought of ancient lands,
of honey offered to
I felt myself begin
to flow toward him,
Offering myself to him,
wanting his tongue there,
just there,
the nugget of me
being suckled.
I began to open then,
to feel my secrets
seep from me,
into his mouth,
his gentle mouth that felt
like the legs of the bee
upon my flesh.
I felt the buzz then within me,
a hum of a thousand bees beneath my mons,
louder, louder,
so I thought he
might hear it,
this thing that was moving like a swarm
through me.
I felt myself rise under his mouth, felt
myself push against his lips and tongue and chin,
myself the offering,
myself the goddess.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Plan Body

I'm going to commit a revolutionary act: I love my body. I do. It's taken me 41 years to say it, but here it is. I LOVE MY BODY. Now, I can think about other things, like war and famine and violence against women and ... love. I can think about love.

I've been pre-occupied with thinking about women's, specifically my, body for a number of reasons. First, tomorrow I'm going to say the word "cunt" in a reading on campus, and given the conservative nature of many people on this campus, I'm actually a little nervous about doing it. But, oh well.

Second, some of my students are performing The Vagina Monologues next week. A friend and I are taking our 13-year old daughters. While researching on the Internet, I discovered just how much people hate this particular play. Imagine. Women talking about their vaginas gives conservatives apoplexy.

And now, Eve Ensler is at it again. Her new play explores the way women feel about their bodies in general. But as women know, we don't think about our bodies in general. We think about our bodies in microscopic particulars. We don't look at our whole body and say, "This looks good." We might say, "This looks good, but my ass is too big," Or "My breasts are too (fill in the blank)." This micro-targeted rage at these tiny little parts of ourselves that we see as imperfect. It's all so poignant. And sad. And distracting as hell. Imagine the power we'd have if we said, "I love all my body, and by the way, your policies suck."

So, for Lent, I'm giving up my obsession with a particular place on my body that I've been cruel to my entire life. I'm going to be nice to all of me, and see myself as a creature of Wabi-Sabi.

And, because I'm a fertile, sexually active woman, I'm going to once again lobby my legislators to make Plan B contraception available over the counter. New York may finally get with the program on this one. If the Right is so committed to reducing the number of abortions, why won't they support a bill that would make morning-after contraception available to any woman who asks for it? The drug has no side effects, you cannot overdose on it, and it reduces the chance of pregnancy 89 percent. And it turns out that the people who are most opposed to Plan B contraception are pharmacists. I'm shaking my head at this, but you should have seen the face of the pharmacist who I asked last night if Plan B was available without a doctor's prescription. She literally screwed up her face like she'd eaten a persimmon. Perhaps she should eat more of the pomegranate.

So, call your legislators. Call your Congressional reps and senators. Tell them that the FDA needs to stop standing for obstructionist policy that tells women they're too stupid to regulate their own fertility.

Oh, and decide today that your body is just perfect the way it is.


"For a fun second-term drinking game, chug a beer every time you hear the phrase 'contentious but futile protest by Democrats.' By the time Jeb Bush is elected, you'lll be so wasted you won't even notice the war in Syria."
--Jon Stewart, "The Daily Show"

Monday, February 07, 2005

My reading

So, I've been totally preoccupied with my reading for Wednesday. I'm posting a bit of it below. If you're offended by frank talk about sex, skip reading any further.

The point of the negotiation is surrender. What is it for a man to surrender to a woman? Is it to imagine what it is to be the glove, rather than the hand? To be the sheath. That is what vagina means, you know. Sheath. From the Latin. She finds it fascinating that a part of the female body, the canal through which women bring forth new life, the first journey we experience as human beings-sliding through a fleshy tunnel into the light and cold-that the name for that conduit is not related to its function in birth, but rather, bears the name of a holder of a weapon. A scabbard-the covering in which you insert your sword.

Is this what men think of their penises as? Weapons? Swords? But a sheath is where you keep your knife to keep it safe, to keep it when you're not using it for violence. It's a place for it to rest until the next time it's needed. When you place your sword inside its sheath, you've put down your weapon, you've disarmed yourself, you've made yourself vulnerable. You've surrendered.

But who is being asked to yield? Because she wants to surrender, too. She wants to lay down this burden of boundary and border and being closed. She wants to be borderless. And that doesn't mean that she wants to be penetrated by him as if she has no wall. Of course that's part of it. She does want to be penetrated by him, and if she allows her mind to wander, the delicious details of what that physical penetration would entail are quite distracting. But part of giving up her borders is not letting someone in; it's being free to take up as much space as she needs, to fill him up, too, to exceed the tiny little space she's been taking up since she was a little girl. This is about feeling. About liquid. About being liquid, and engulfing someone so that he swims in her, floats in her.

Thursday, February 03, 2005


Okay. I didn't watch the SOTU last night. But Jo did. And her analysis is brilliant. Sputter indeed.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Give and Take

Next week, I'm giving a reading on campus. It's in honour of Valentine's Day, and, as one professor has been promoting it on campus, "it's a warm-up for THE VAGINA MONOLOGUES." VM is being produced on campus the week following, so there's going to be much discussion about cunts on campus.

I'm going to read erotica to an audience comprising my colleagues and students. The president of our campus is a bit uptight, so either he's going to show up and get an education, or he's going to choose not to be in attendance. Either way, the show will go on.

I spent much of last night writing. The theme running through the piece I will be reading is about dominance and surrender. Not BDSM fantasies, but about the nature of love and the erotic, what it means to be penetrated, what it means to lose part of yourself inside another person's body.

If it goes quiet on the blog for a few days, you'll know that it's because I'm working. And it feels good. Like squeezing the seeds of the pomegranate between my teeth and feeling the burst on my tongue.