Friday, September 14, 2012

This is the way the world ends...

Here are my notes from the talk I did at Suffolk Community College for the Women's Club this past Wednesday.

Disclaimer: I don't care either way- I don't want to fight with you... I think there is stuff on both sides!

The damaging role of fantasy
·      Gail Dines Professor of Sociology and Women's Studies Chair, American Studies Wheelock
College, Boston
o   What needs to be asked
here is why are women getting pleasure from a book that tells the
"romantic" story of how a powerful, narcissistic, sadist  seduces, manipulates and exploits a young woman?
·      Does 50 shades play into “women’s relationship fantasy’s”? And If so- why do women want to live the submissive life-style? Is it about being with someone who fulfills them sexually and financially alone? That trading their freedom seems somehow worth it?
·      Ana is living the fantasy of the fairytale- she is able to fix a broken man and come out his bride.
·      Does the fantasy in this book have potential to be so damaging to young women- and why can we not stop reading it?
·      Are women so desperate the escape the mundane of daily life that they have found a new “feminine mystic”. Instead of doping they are drowning themselves in an unattainable fantasyland?
Domestic Violence?
·      Claire Phillipson: The novel is "an instruction manual for an abusive individual to sexually torture a vulnerable young
·      A woman who runs a woman's refuge shelter has spoken out, e.g., "It really is about a domestic violence perpetrator, taking someone who is less powerful, inexperienced ....”
·      He loves her so much- he can not control himself…? Power and Control the essence of domestic violence?
·      “In his book on batterers, Lundy Bancroft provides a list of potentially dangerous signs to watch out for from boyfriends. Needless to say, Mr. Grey is the poster boy of the list, not only with his jealous, controlling, stalking, sexually sadistic behavior, but his hypersensitivity to what he perceives as any slight against him, his whirlwind romancing of a younger, less powerful woman, and his Jekyll-and-Hyde mood swings.  Any one of these is potentially dangerous, but a man who exhibits them all is lethal.” Gail Dines
·      Christian lays his cards out on the table at the beginning- requesting Ana sign a contract (as to what she will wear, eat, exercise, etc…) agreeing to be his “submissive” Ultimately she agrees to the terms making some exceptions to the rules… however, when the marry the rules in a sense still apply- he is still obsessively controlling- not allowing her to make her own choices in terms of birth control, spending times with friends or much else. If she does defy his rules even as his wife he still gets a “twitchy palm” essentially, she is punished.
·      Does it matter that she sometimes enjoys the punishment- though she does express fear of him.
·      His lifestyle often puts her in harms way- crazy ex submissive and insane people- out for revenge against Christian. Does this then justify his desire to “protect and care” her?
·      Christian intervenes in all aspects of her life, eventually buying the newspaper she works for and later is promoted to running the paper despite her in experience. Even though she states she does not want him involved se does not quit her job and find something else- does Ana want to be told, shown and dominated despite her feeble attempts to resist?
The Red Room, Lust or Love
·      Some would argue that is Anastasia Steele who remains in power throughout the text? Despite the appearance that Christian is the one in charge she often defies his wishes with glee and gets what she wants. Manipulating him to be what she needs him to be.
o   By his own admission she reminds him of his neglectful “crack-whore mother”- does this make him easier for her to manipulate? Is he trying to put her in the role that he wished his mother had been in- loving, nutring?
o   Christian is used to being dominated- Mrs. Robinson character
·      There is still no definitive account of this but a major part of girl’s socialization is *sexualization,* this "training* to be pleasing to men, is a training in pleasure as well--and in the age of porn,
·      Encouraging women to ask for things in the bedroom they never felt comfortable to do so before.
·      Men are stating that they are having more sex since their partners are reading the series… women stating that their sex lives are more satisfying- is it making women more comfortable… at what cost?
·      Can we trust that women realize that this is simply a fantasy? Women of all ages?
·      Their very first sexual encounter is Ana’s very first sexual experience. They have not known each other long- does Ana confuse- lust for love- as young people often do? Is this idea then perpetuated throughout all 3 novels?
·      Should we just let the book be what it is… mindless entertainment- and figure many are not reading too much into its sad writing skills and tawdry, impossible sex?
FACEBOOK: Hey readers of 50 shades... In my research I have come across some very interesting arguments both for and against the book. Here is an idea I want to pitch to the readers: If we know that domestic violence is about power and control and we see this exerted by Christian Grey over Anastasia Steele (not just sexually- but physically, emotionally, mentally, electronically, financially as well) Even though she is a (mostly) willing participant is this still domestic violence? If you say yes, please explain. If you say No, explain but also consider the idea that Ana could be exhibiting signs of "Stockholm syndrome"? Also, for all- considers the statement "He loves her so much, he just can’t control himself".

Friday, June 1, 2012

The Mom Life.

One of the more natural things that has happened lately to me is that I feel a complete kinship with other moms. 
Moms that I know, moms that I don't know. 

Anytime there is a tragedy of sort on TV. I turn to my husband and say. "Can you imagine how their mother must feel, how sad."

"How terrible"
"How scary"

I can't even imagine. 

Becoming a mother has changed everything. The Johnson and Johnson's commercials crawl in and out of my head like worms. Everything is connected to the how and when and where of my little girl.

I like to think this is the life that all moms are leading. Though I am not so naive to think that is true.

But I often wonder, as I smile at the woman pushing a carriage past me and Reilly in Target if she is thinking what I am thinking?

Hi, I'm a mom too, and we are both dealing with naps and picky eaters and too much TV. This automatically makes us part of a very special community- alas, you are my friend.

Being a mom is amazing. It has completed me in ways I did not think possible. Being a stay at home mom is challenging and rewarding on so many levels. Am I always patient? No. Am I always the best I can be? Probably not. But, I try and I love harder and give more than I ever have of myself to anything.

The community is a gift. I am enthusiastic about it, excited. I worship this club. 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

the in-between.

I used to work in organizing. Me and Obama were both community organizers. so, that's one up for me... how may things do you have in common with the president?

I have struggled truly with the Occupy Wall Street group... I've made comments about their lack of leadership, clear message, point and poor organization in general. Its sounds so snobby now as i type it.

I've said they need direction to get attention and that I haven't heard or seen enough about it to be relevant.
I'm a jerk. I'm part of that 99%. I should be there with baby in Beco- demanding health insurance for all under an umbrella or in a tent or what.

Having a baby surely changes your priorities. But bad ass shouldn't be one of them. I used to be a bad ass. I didn't think it at the time- but when i think back to it now. Yeah, way bad ass.

Now, I day dream about babies and tiny socks and santa clause. Is there anything wrong with this... no way!

But, i long for the days when my scholar life lead me down what I used to call "women's studies in practice"- that's abandoning school for real life. That's what i struggled with in grad school. I was too immature to realize at the time that it was a little bit from here and there and that was a good thing.

Motherhood is women's studies in practice. But here its every second.

so, where can i find my own subversion. Its not in driving past a small group of obnoxious protesters on my way into work, or sitting on a bathroom floor with a woman who's husband beats her anymore.

I'm raising a girl. Who'll become a woman. Who'll fight the good fight too. Who'll I'll teach to stand up when no one dares to. Who will hold a sign in the rain, who'll cross the line. who'll dare to do and go and be what no one else has before her.

Subversion is raising a girl who will riot and rock and push back.

I will occupy my house. my life and raise her different. Without an ass of "Juicy" but with a heart of gold.

So, I'm not on the street.... But, I do and will always hear the call. I hear you....

all the way over here.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Me and Greg. More alike than you think.

Sean and I are HOUSE junkies, this is an interesting comment as HOUSE through much of the series is a junkie of sorts. We watch the episodes out of order on various channels. We DVR them, we watch them live. We look for them when nothing else is on. It's true that we have Netflix and could simply rent the entire series so far and watch them in order. But, this would take the fun out of it.

When they stopped showing marathons on Saturday nights, Sean and I both pouted for a few weeks- when we finally realized that they were yes, in fact, actually, no longer being shown, anymore.

Recently we happily caught the episodes where HOUSE has entered into a mental institution. In addition to having dirty office sex with Franka Potente (of Run Lola Run) he learns that he is a "fixer" and needs to let go. I'd say most people have a love/hate relationship with HOUSE. Including all the characters on the show. But, for those who watch. I often despite his angsty, cynical, witty, jackassery, find him quiet lovable.

So, when Sean recently compared me to HOUSE as the fixer who feels the need to solve the problems I've created, often by my own doing (no one to diagnose here??) I didn't feel all too bad about it. I think HOUSE if we were to deconstruct him as a character- would be all the bad parts of us amplified. He is the bad- the cranky. How WE as a society would behave if we could express ourselves in constant pain.

Is this what they meant when they created him? Was Greg, meant to be me and you at our very worst moments? At times when we refuse to deal with the horror of humanity. When we can no longer trust!?

Oh... HOUSE.  I rue the day you retire- tossing your cane to the wind. Pain Killers down the drain. Porn in the dumpster.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Sundays are for relaxing.

I have done so much cooking today and cleaning I think I might collapse! 

This morning I made Reilly blueberry flax pancakes. I used cherrybrook farms pancake mix- I love the vanilla flavor and it has very few ingredients. I mixed in fresh blueberries, ground flax seed and rice milk.  She went insane- she was so excited and elated by her breakfast I decided to make her a fancy lunch.

I made pineapple tempeh with pineapple chunks. First I cut the tempeh into cubes- then I steamed the chunks in pineapple juice. After a good steam I put the whole pot in the oven. Everything got roasty toasted. She happily fed herself tempeh and pineapple. I also gave her sweet potato that I fresh roasted this morning- while making tomato sauce for dinner.

I was tempted to make her a peach raspberry oatmeal cobbler for dinner but, I had to clean up for a visit from my parents. Right before they arrived Sean requested some brownies- so I whipped up a vegan batch with peanut butter and molasses. 

Sean and I had pasta for dinner with cheese garlic bread and sautéed arugala and spinach. I am honestly so tired I can barely type. Now its nearly 9:30pm. I washed the dishes and ironed. 

I am so very tired! Tomorrow I’ll teach my students how poetry can help them write better essays- I am also hoping to take a trip to Trader Joes.


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Pretty Good Year(s)

My 30th birthday has come and gone... as my twenty's end i am thinking so much more about the years that have lead to this point then i did when i turned 20. Teenage years are so important but your twenties- everything changes. Being 30 I don't think is about being seen as an adult or finally facing reality and "growing up" we are defined by our actions and as I have been saying for sometime- our choices and what we do with the responsibility given to us as citizens of the earth and humanity.

Since, I have been thinking so much about it I thought that I would make a list of the top moments that have defined my 20's. So self indulgent. But, I am always trying to be better, love harder, be kinder.

so, here it goes. In no particular order. I tried date order... but that didn't work.

1. I graduate from SUNY Stony Brook University and move to Albany, NY alone to work on my masters. I wanted to go to grad school. I was excited about it. I worked... like a dog. I took nearly double the required credits per semester. I wanted to come home. It taught me about independence, perseverance, possibilities and friendship. I met my dear friend Amy Nolan- who I will always remember- came looking for me.  I write and complete my thesis in 3 months- while working nearly full time as a medical assistant at Planned Parenthood Hudson Peconic. I graduate.

2. I get food poisoning and vomit while driving home from work in a snow storm. I vomit for 5 hours while driving into a wide mouth plastic water bottle. I vomit all over the Northern State Parkway and the Hicksville Train Station. After this i refused to be referred to by anything but "bad ass".

3. I get a job as a Grassroots Organizer at Planned Parenthood. I work with the legendary Nanna Fecteau. I am mentored and learn. I fight the good fight.

4. My grandfather dies. 

5. My aunt dies. Leaving a trail of grief miles long. 

6. My grandmother dies. After everything I learn a very valuable lesson. Death presents us with a fork in the road. One path allows us to be better, do better, grow. The other path allows us to be miserable. To have an excuse to be horrible, do bad and expect our misery to be an answer for our misdeeds in life. I happily witness the the first path in people i love.

7. Two important people in my life are paralyzed with grief. I work to help them. I often cry feeling I am steering them wrong. I think sometimes I did. I hope I got it right more often.

8. My brother moves to Scarsdale. I see him less and less. I am heartbroken. I think it brings us closer. My heart un-breaks as he finds love and I gain a sister.

9. My cousin moves to San Diego. I cry for two days. After all we'd been through together. Separation of the "fantastic five" seems so much more painful. Being in the same state is one thing, across the country is another.

10. Infinity tattoos bond us forever.

11. I get married. After 12 years of sin living- we finally tie the knot.  I am deeply, madly in love. It takes my breathe away.

12. I get pregnant. Everything changes. I dream of a lost friend. I find her pregnant with a little girl too.  Her friendship is healing, loving. She is exceptional in all ways. 

13. Reilly is born. Everything you imagine it to be, it is forever better than you expect. Everything I am, do is for her. She is the greatest, most amazing, wonderful person on earth. I am changed. I am alive. There is an answer, a why, the realization of all things good in the world.

14. I get a job at the Suffolk County Coalition Against Domestic Violence as the Community Educator. My boss calls me the "HUB". I act as such. I LOVE everyone i work with. Or more so, I am in love with them. I am happy, things change. I quit.

15. I get a job teaching at Suffolk County Community College. I see light bulbs go off. I am FOREVER and constantly changed by teaching. 

16. At my wedding, as Sean says "I do" I hear a tiny noise from my maid of honor. I am held up, grateful, joyful in so many ways by the noises from this throat.

17. I am called out for bad behavior. I am forced to look at myself for what I have done and become. Torn by resentment I can no longer move forward without healing my wrongs. I try. 

18. My uncle smashes my grandparents mini grand with a hammer. The sound is a sinking ship.

19. My father spends a night in the hospital with chest pain. He asks for cookies.

20. After giving birth my mom gently combs my hair.

21. While giving birth Sean whispers something in my ear. I will never forget it.

There are so many more... This is just a sample. Thanks for letting me indulge and reading. I hope of you'll think of moments that have defined you.
Good bye twenties- rest in peace.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Chicago's First Lady.

I have always loved Oprah. For a while i felt ashamed of this and often would hide my love. My husband makes fun of me for even watching her.

Some have said she is evil or condescending. I disagree. I think she asks questions no one wants to. I think she is giving and thoughtful and is pensive when her guests are talking.

You don't get to the top always- by being nice. I think sometimes its ok to gnash your teeth and show what you've got. especially if you are holding aces. I am sad that this is her last season. What I have watched of OWN is not too shabby and I am sure I'll happily watch more in the future. I must admit I am more so disappointed that my chances of ever being on the "Favorite Things Show" are now over. If you have never watched this... you should seriously consider looking it up on youtube.

I found her "make-up" interview with Iylana Vanzant to be engaging, life changing, superb. Oprah quoted Vanzant she said "Don't you always say... 'if you do not heal the wounds of your past, you will bleed and bleed and bleed'"

I think so many of us have to stop bleeding. Oprah would agree.

So, I love Oprah. Not just because she's friends with Maya Angelou.