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Portland Gay Pride

16 Jun

Happy gay pride weekend, Portlanders!

Portland weather shows a little gay pride.

I’m back on the left coast and will be venturing out to take lots of pictures of the festivities to post here for your viewing pleasure, so stay tuned.

While you wait, what are your plans for pride this year? Portland or otherwise!

The Five Bigots You Meet in Queerland

13 Jun

We queer ladies (and gents) have to deal with a lot of crap. It comes from strangers who shout “dyke!” out their car windows, from friends who introduce you as their “lesbian friend,” (as if that were the only notable thing about you), and not-so-well-meaning friends who make drunken assessments of your “true” sexuality.

There are so many of these slights that they warrant categorization. So, without further ado, I give you the Five Basic Types of Bigot, as experienced by your friendly blogger:

1. The Hater

This person is the one who leans out of the car window and shouts, “Ugly dyke!” or “Fucking faggot!” at you whilst you are strolling along admiring the daffodils, holding your girlfriend/boyfriend’s hand. Examples in my life have included:

Haters are easy to ignore when you're a badass.

Haters are easy to ignore when you’re a badass.

Continue reading

Klondike responds!

21 Jul
The ice-cream purveyors at Klondike/Unilever have responded to my complaint about their heinous heinous ads! Read below:
—–

Hello MS. SARAH _____,

Thank you for writing to us.

We do apologize for the experience you reported concerning Klondike Commercials.

Unilever Ice Cream markets its various brands in ways that are meant to entertain and engage our target audience. It was only intended to be humorous.

We certainly do not wish to offend anyone. You may be interested to know that all of our commercials and advertisements are pre-tested and various techniques are used to evaluate consumer reactions. Based on the results of our pre-testing procedures, the presentations are chosen for their majority appeal. Please let us assure you that your comments are extremely important to us in evaluating the success of our commercials and advertisements.

We will certainly forward your comments to the Marketing staff. Consumer comments are very important and evaluated on a regular basis.

Sincerely,

Your friends at Klondike

– 
More to come on this later. But feel free to poke some holes in their pre-testing procedures with their target audience. I see no way that these ads wouldn’t offend most demographics – even the darling demographic of straight white men dislike being portrayed as oafish.

Also: Note their use of an honorific!

Klondike bar ads are insulting, lazy

19 Jul

Have you guys seen this crap? Apparently I’ve been hiding under a rock, or at least eschewing prime-time network television, because Klondike’s effort to re-brand was going mostly under my radar until recently. Peep this horribleness:

Oh ha! I get it! Women are boring! Especially if you’re married to them! It’s like torture to listen to them! BAAHAHAHAHA! Hilarious. /sputter Oh yeah, and did we mention gay people are just … icky?

It’s a generally-accepted fact that the very last thing a straight man would ever want to be caught doing is something gay-seeming! Although it might be worse to actually care about the person you committed to spend your life with – hard to tell from these commercials.

Sarcasm aside, it is possible to be funny and sell ice cream without implying that women are insufferable bores and being gay is wrong (and straight men can never show affection). This is lazy work, plain and simple. The Via Agency, the ad agency that Klondike hired to put together their re-branding campaign, should be ashamed.

I complained, I hope you do too. Tell Klondike you won’t be buying their products because of these spots. If you’re an advertising nerd like me and you’re opposed to the ads on multiple levels (not only are they sexist and homophobic, they’re unimaginatively so), you can also scold The Via Agency. Humor ain’t hard, people. Wise up or lose business.

Do you think these ads are worse than normal, or just more blatant? And who decided that all mint flavors must forever come in fluorescent green anyway? Technicolor is for TVs, not food. Sheesh.

Fourth of July Word Vomit

4 Jul

I used to hate the Fourth of July – all those grotesque displays of blind patriotism and all, tons of hamburgers, parades (who doesn’t love a parade? Sometimes me, apparently), fireworks set off in the streets by people who obviously don’t value the sanctity of their digits. And also, there’s this:

Sociologists have critiqued nationalism for being the source of an irrational commitment and loyalty to one’s nation, a commitment that makes one willing to both die and kill.

But sinister flag-waving and irritating crowds aside, I kind of like July 4 nowadays.The weather is usually decent, there is a three-day weekend involved, there is food around, and I can’t help loving an excuse to make themed desserts. Also, it’s the biggest secular holiday in the US, which is kind of neat. No one is excluded on the basis of religion, and if you don’t celebrate it, you really needn’t squirm when someone asks you your plans – anything you do this weekend can be construed as a holiday celebration.Compare that to Easter or Christmas, where people will almost unfailingly ask you what your plans are, and when you haven’t thought ahead to have a made-up answer at the ready they look at you funny.

So here’s what I’m doing to celebrate:

  • Putting homemade ice cream in my coffee instead of cream
  • Eating pie
  • Going to a picnic later
  • Eating more pie
  • Riding the bus to where the fireworks are later
  • Taking a walk
  • Lying around making lame bulleted lists

How do you feel about patriotic holidays? Conflicted? Delighted? Grumpy? What do you do on long summer weekends, holiday or no?

    Where I am this week

    22 Jun

    Here’s a video some guy made about the neighborhood where I am habitating this week (brief NSFW-ness due to some harmless mooning). I could probably make some Very Serious Social Commentary here, but I’m pooped so I’ll just let it speak for itself:

    Sooo… yeah. Where are you this week? What shenanigans are you getting up to? And um, did you ever live anywhere like Murray Hill? What was THAT like?

    Father’s Day Special

    19 Jun

    Looks like the Wall Street Journal – always a conservative rag anyway – is starting to show its Murdoch underbelly. For Father’s Day, the WSJ’s Sue Shellenbarger brings us an article telling us all about why men make better parents than women. In fact, she proves with science (science!) that men are simply better people than women! Peep this quote:

    “Under stress, men’s brains are wired to … leap into action. Women are more likely to withdraw or shut down.”

    via the WSJ

    The article goes on to gush about how fathers’ disinterest in their children helps kids to grow up awesome, while mothers’ damn mothering turns kids into whinging, weakly brats. There’s even a cheesy full-color illustrations in which men are shown heroically sweeping in to save the day while mothers, offscreen, according to the unattributed cutlines, withdraw, shut down or otherwise over- or misreact, turning the unsuspecting children into balls of exposed nerves. The author throws a bone to the ladies by stating, repeatedly, that moms are darn good at teaching their squalling brats to “express their feelings” and “talk through their emotions.”

    But wait! There’s more: “Because fathers have had to learn to manage their own impulses to strike out or react physically to frustration, they may be better equipped than mothers to help children manage their own urges to behave badly.”

    Oh right. Because women never learned to manage their own impulses to strike out or react physically to frustration – we’re just born meek and feminine of course! The last little bit of conservative trope? Why, it’s that single mothers are ruining everything:

    “Another reason involved fathers help kids, of course, is that families often function better when two parents are working as a team to give children what they need, supporting each other’s efforts.” Oh of course! How could we forget? Although it’s hard to see the logic in this conclusion, since the article’s assumptions are really building up to the conclusion that fathers should do all the parenting themselves, since they’re so great – actually, it would be best if all children were raised in two-father households, not one-father, one-mother households. But then we’d have to support gay marriage, wouldn’t we? Oh dear. Now we’re just confused!

    If you want to read the whole Father’s Day Wall Street Journal piece, feel free.

    Children and taxes: A Mother’s Day Special

    8 May
    No babies for me, thanks. No, not even turkey baster babies.

    No babies for me, thanks. No, not even turkey baster babies.

    This mother’s day, let’s skip the adorable kitten greeting cards and bunches of roses bred to within an inch of scentlessness, picked by fourth-world residents working in inhumane conditions, trucked halfway across the globe and sold at ridiculous markups, shall we? Instead, let’s talk about the politics of child-rearing! Or, more specifically, the politics of taxes for child-education and other kiddo-focused expenses.

    I recently heard a new-to-me, somewhat shocking opinion on the topic. Here it is in summary:

    “People who make the responsible choice not to have squalling brats should not have to pay to educate and feed other people’s mistakes.”

    Harsh words, no? That’s not quite how it was put, but that was the basic premise.

    As a properly trained tax-and-spend liberal, I like having lots and lots of social services, some of which I use, some of which I don’t: Maintained roads, public libraries, rest stops, Medicare, social security, food stamps. And I’ve seen the contrast between public schools in well-heeled communities and those in poor towns: I have matriculated at some of the west coast’s best-funded and highest-performing public schools, and also attended the educational equivalent of Siberia in the state’s poorest county. But still, it got me thinking.

    As an adult, my senses and my pocketbook are constantly assaulted by pleas for the children. Stop domestic violence … for the children. Build new libraries … for the children. Fund high school sports teams … for the children. Build shiny new after-school facilities with free classes in underwater basketweaving and Tae-Kwon-Do and other oh-so-useful life skills … for the children. Build cushy juvenile detention and drug rehabilitation facilities … for the children, dammit!

    It makes one wonder – who is looking out for the old people while we’re busy babying the babies? Social services (in this state, at least) are almost exclusively focused on children, or people with children. As an example, kids under 18 can get subsidized health insurance, but adults cannot (the one notable exception being pregnant women).

    This makes a modicum of sense. Faced with a choice between cutting the service entirely or funding it for kids only, it’s a no-brainer. But still. There are a lot of very sick, very poor adults out there not getting the care they need. Why? Because they don’t have cute button noses and tiny little hands. They’re not helpless. Poor children, they just can’t help being born poor! It’s not their fault their parents made such terrible life decisions like being born poor themselves. But once they’re adults it is 100 percent their fault that they’re still poor. What’s changed, other than 15 years, give or take? Nothing but society’s attitude toward them.

    And don’t even get me started on the blatantly pandering marketing campaigns around school-funding measures. It’s voting time here, and The Hizzy is being hit with slick upon slick, all featuring pictures of cherubic, well-scrubbed white kids with pleading, watery eyes in grayscale. Turn the slick over and you’ve got the skinny white moms, looking concerned and wearing North Face sweaters, standing sternly with crossed arms next to bulleted lists of reasons why their little Madisons and Jacobs need music programs, shiny new cafeteria platters and better insulation.

    So my opinion is wavering. I don’t have kids. I’m not GOING to have kids. Why should I pay to polish the silverware at the elementary school in my neighborhood? Those children having their school spiffed today will be the bitter, abusive high school dropouts that will wipe my nose at the health-code violating old people’s home I’ll live in during my infirmity. If I want care that minimizes humiliation in my old age, I’ll have to shell out for a private facility, since wrinkled faces with watery, pleading eyes just don’t test well with the focus groups.

    Grown-ups, especially those with lots of wrinkles or otherwise socially undesirable characteristics (like poverty or disability), get the short end of the stick. They work their whole lives paying taxes to educate and care for the next generation, only to get tossed aside once they can no longer care for themselves. Where are the direct-mail marketing campaigns advocating for safe wheelchair routes and better elder-care facilities? Where are the ballot measures begging for community education and outreach programs designed specifically with old fogeys in mind? And what about crime – why does a 17-year-old get leniency and a clean record, when an 18-year-old in the exact same circumstances gets prison and a lifetime of employment discrimination?

    Cutting services to young people can’t be the answer, but a more balanced approach to public policy is certainly worth a look-see. What are your voting habits? Does your having or not having kids influence how you vote on school tax measures and the like? Or are you an across-the-board voter in one way or the other? Any tea party types out there? If so, do you make an exception for social services for youngsters? Any socialist types out there who’ve sworn off baby-having? How do you vote? No name-calling in the comments, please – but do tell me your opinions!

    Into moving pictures? Here are some amusing parent- or mom-themed videos you might like:

    Happy Mother’s Day, pedophobes!
    Pregnant women are smug
    Hipster parents: The perfect target market

    High-maintenance

    3 May

    “High-maintenance” is often used to describe women we don’t like, but does anyone really know what it means? The phrase “high-maintenance,” like the word “slut” is just another ill-defined insult hurled at women who don’t conform enough, or conform too much, to society’s idealized expectations of femininity. So last time I heard it, I looked it up – Webster’s is no use, so here’s what trusty old Urban Dictionary has to say:

    1. Requiring a lot of attention. When describing a person, high-maintenance usually means that the individual is emotionally needy or prone to over-dramatizing a situation to gain attention

    2. A person who has expensive taste (re. clothing, restaurants, etc.). This person is never comfortable because he/she is constantly concerned about his/her appearance.

    At first, it seems weird that the phrase has two completely different meanings, until you take the time to think about what else the phrase is used to describe. What else can be called high-maintenance? Swimming pools. Layered haircuts. Silk clothing. Fancy cars. Orchids. Conversely, take a peek at what we describe as low-maintenance: Rock gardens. Cotton-poly blends. Cacti. What do these things have in common? They’re all things. So what do we call high-maintenance? Things, and women. ‘Cuz women are things! Get it? Ahhhaahaha. Backslaps all around!

    Let’s take the two definitions in order, shall we? The first is a derogatory label for women who dare to ask for emotional support from the people around them. The second is a derogatory label for women who dare to take the time they need in order to conform to society’s expectations of them. By caring about her appearance – as society tells her she must if she is to be worthy of love or even leaving the house – she is punished by being called high-maintenance, shallow, superficial, flippant. But try not caring about your appearance for a sec – go ahead, try it! Stop shaving your legs, wearing makeup, and brushing your hair. See how long you stay employed, how long you keep your boyfriend, how long it takes before your girlfriends start talking about how you’ve let yourself go when you’re not around.

    High-maintenance is just another empty phrase thrown around to punish women who falter while walking that razor-thin line of magically conforming to impossible standards of beauty while making it look easy breezy cover girl. Women who slink quietly out of bed to shower and put on makeup and then slink quietly back into bed – so long as they’re not caught – need not worry about being labelled high-maintenance. It’s those who dare to sleep in, and then make their poor sops of male companions wait more than ten minutes while perfecting that foundation and blowout, that need to worry. Or those that, after a rough day at work, occasionally require a few moments of quiet alone time before tending to the passel of squalling brats.

    The rub is that, with all things patriarchy, you can’t win. Let your striving show, and you’re a high-maintenance shrew. Don’t strive, and you’re ugly and unlovable, or worse – a feminist.

    Any of you readers been called high-maintenance before? I certainly have. One incident comes to mind in particular, when a friend of mine told me that if he didn’t already know me, he probably wouldn’t try to talk to me because I looked “high-maintenance.” I had no idea what he was talking about, and, to some extent, still don’t. Tell your stories in the comments, eh?

    To have and to hold: The hidden meaning of last names

    11 Apr
    Cool surname map courtesy of National Geographic.

    “Because I love him.”

    This is the main reason most straight women give when they agree to take their husband’s or fiance’s last names. By that logic, the following must also be true:

    • Women who don’t take their husband’s last names don’t love their husbands; and
    • Since men don’t take their wives’ last names, men don’t love their wives.

    Of course, some men DO love their wives (although one would never guess from The Lockhorns,) so clearly, that reason is a load of horsepoop. So what other possible reasons could there be for women trading in their names in exchange for a “Mrs.”?

    “I want to have the same last name as my children.”

    Image courtesy some lame stock image service. Please
    note the wedding ring. If you spend any amount of time
    working with stock art, you’ll soon notice the only
    time women’s hands are pictured with wedding rings are
    when the image clearly has something to do with weddings
    or motherhood. Interesting, no?

    This is quite easily solved by just giving your children your last name. Easy, peasy. Did you know that you can, in fact, give your children whatever last name you damn well please? There’s no law stating that one or both parents must share a last name with a child. You could name your kid “Steve Lil’Hokomoke” if you so chose, or “Belinda Cheesedoodleface,” even if your last name is Jones and your husband’s last name is Johnson. Not particularly kind, but completely legal. Say your or your husband’s last name was “Cheesedoodleface” — is a name so ripe for schoolyard-teasing really one you want to pass on?

    So if last names have nothing to do with love or the law, then what gives? Power and patriarchy. Don’t believe me? Spend some time reading about family structure and patrilineality. The easiest way to explain patrilineage is that any society has to figure out a system for passing on property, how its children will be socialized, etc. Most societies have chosen patrilineality – this means that the property is passed from father to son, women and their children take on their husband’s last names, leave their families of origin to join their husband’s families and raise their kids according to the customs and traditions of the father’s family of origin.

    In societies where patrilineality includes women (and often, young girls) leaving their family of origin to live with and care for their husband’s family of origin, this leads to yet-further devaluation of women and girl children – the most well-known example is probably female filicide in China and India.

    Patrilineality is a big part of patriarchy – which basically means “a system run by males, not females,” wherein males are the heads of the household, have authority over women and children, and dominate the government and social and cultural systems. The United States and most countries/societies existing today are patriarchal systems, and this is the primary reason — not love, not money, not law — why women are born with their father’s last names,  trade them for their husbands’ names when they get married, and give their children the husband’s last name instead of theirs.

    But before you get all panicky, readers: Just because you have your hubbie’s last name doesn’t mean you’re a Bad Person perpetrating an Evil Conspiracy. The last name gambit is just one of many manifestations of the patriarchal superstructure undergirding our everyday lives – from seemingly innocuous activities like wearing makeup and heels to more insidious things like eating disorders, rape, wage discrimination and domestic violence. We all participate in patriarchy, whether we know it, or like it, or not. The best we can do is become aware of, and make conscious choices about, our participation. We should be able to assert a modicum of control over how – and how much – we kowtow to convention, although in an ideal world, we wouldn’t have to at all.

    Those of you with your hubbie’s last names, how do you feel about it, and were you aware of the history of patrilineage before you got hitched? Lady readers without husbands – do you plan to change your name when you marry? What’s driving that decision? Those of you who aren’t planning to marry, or aren’t legally allowed to marry in your country, how do you approach the last name conundrum? Do you think society’s expectations are different for you, or the same? Boy readers – how do you feel about your wife, or future wife, taking your last name? Please post a comment and tell me your story!

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