Friday, November 30, 2007

World AIDS Day

Tomorrow is World AIDS Day.

I'm young to remember how devastating AIDS was in the early '80s, but I do. My dad came out in 1981. I was five years old. And a lot of his friends and acquaintances lost their lives. When I was in high school my dad's friend Tim hired to me work at a craft store where he was the manager. He was a good guy---funny, creative, definitely an anal boss---but in retrospect I don't blame him for being strict with a sixteen-year-old employee with serious Senioritis. One day he just didn't come to work, and there were whispers that he was too sick. When I told my dad about it he said he knew. Tim had been living with HIV. And it had progressed. I graduated shortly thereafter and left the country to study abroad. My dad called me that fall to tell me that Tim had died. I remember thinking that it was just like the sudden way he didn't come to work anymore. Now all of a sudden he wouldn't ever be around. Tim was in his early thirties.

Recently I was visiting my dad in Palm Springs. I went to church with him and sat next to a young man in a wheelchair, who was accompanied by his partner. The man in the wheelchair was gaunt, his cheeks so sunken in, the circles around his eyes so dark. When it was time to greet your neighbor he turned to me and shook my hand, and I felt like I might break it. I'm old enough now to recognize what a person in the advanced stages of AIDS looks like. They look like they don't have much time. But this young man also met my eye, and I saw the beauty of his appreciation. That he was there, that he was greeting someone new to the community. And my heart both soared and sank in that singular moment.

AIDS has killed more than 25 million people, with an estimated 38.6 million people living with HIV, making it one of the most destructive epidemics in recorded history.

We all know how destructive AIDS is, how it's creeping into communities across the globe, killing millions in Africa, infecting women, particularly women of color, in disproportionate numbers. No amount of education is too much education. Talk about it. Share your memories of those we've lost. Take a moment to consider the lives cut short of those we never knew.


Thursday, November 29, 2007


It's that time of year. People are making lists of the things they want. Kids do this, of course, but I know a few grown-ups who have lists going. One woman I know has a list she's been working on for years, and when an unsuspecting person asks her what she wants for Christmas (or her birthday), she says, "I'll have to check the list."

I should declare right here before anyone I know comments and outs me, although I am not the woman referenced above, (I swear) I can name for you at any given time, the things I want. Like right now, as I write this, the mental list is coming into view: La Creuset casserole dish, a cute black menswear vest, really thick, creamy good-smelling lotion, new glasses, a new rug for the bathroom, new towels . . . OK, you get the idea. I could go on and on. It's a sickness. I want. But the thing is--and I really get this in a way I'm not sure I have before--these are all just things. They don't matter. As Andie here in the office said recently, "It's all just stuff." The truth is, there's excitement when it's new, in the very beginning of your relationship to the thing, but then it cracks or turns gray or the cat pees on it or it's too tight or . . . . Things will always be unsatisfying.

Desire: Women Write About Wanting

Desire edited by Lisa Solod Warren goes deeper than describing a want for things. These women's stories of wanting are about deeper, more real, and darker desires. If I stop thinking about the comfort in things, the conveniences, the illogical want for a more cushiony bathroom rug, I wonder, do I really need this? No.

What, then, do I need? What do I desire? What makes my heart smile? What makes me feel full? (And I'm not talking about food, although I do often desire that too. Zachary's pizza. Oooooooh.)

What about you? What do you desire?

Until next time,

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

lesbian gang epidemic?

This is the most disturbing clip ever. I know I'm posting a lot of video clips lately, but this is too much. Bill O'Reilly profiling lesbian gangs, who are allegedly "indoctrinating the kids into homosexuality." And Bill is so concerned, so utterly disconcerted. You can see his wheels turning prior to spewing out the following insidious homophobic commentary (again, on the public airwaves!):

"It makes sense, if you had lawless gay people they would do this kind of thing. But you don't associate it. You associate homosexuality more with a social movement, not a criminal movement. But you're saying this is all over the country?"

Planting the seeds of hate. Way to go, Bill.


Monday, November 26, 2007

Looking for gifts that mean something?

Why buy gifts at all? Why does it all have to be about the gifts, the pressure to consume, to match what you spent last year, to get the thing on your loved one's list? Tune in tomorrow for more on this topic.

For today, if you've already decided you are buying gifts for others, how about making a commitment to buy those gifts from organizations that support women and their children and allow women to care for themselves? Each year we hear about important local, national, and international organizations that support women. This year, one of our authors, Dr. Patti Feuereisen (Invisible Girls) dropped us a note to spread the word about

Pass along the word. We can all join the circle of support and healing.


enough with the fembot commercials already

I threw up a little bit in my mouth when I saw this commercial this morning. That this ad is even airing on public television is so hugely problematic. WTF?


Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Ten Years to Life

Finally yesterday we learned what the sentence for Warren Jeffs was going to be in Utah for "acting as an accomplice to rape." Jeffs was convicted by a jury in September.

I can't explain to you how happy this makes me. Ten years to life. Only, the truth is, it's not harsh enough. Jeffs is guilty of far more than "acting as an accomplice to rape" in his role as the prophet of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Like his father Rulon before him, Jeffs not only reassigns women and their female children to men he feels are more spiritually deserving, (this is where the accomplice to rape charge comes from--he reassigned a 14-year-old girl to marry her 19-year-old cousin and submit to sexual relations), but he has probably raped girls himself. It is not uncommon for the prophet to take on very young new wives. Sexual abuse is rampant and accepted in this fundamentalist community.

Why am I following this case? Like many people, I do have a fascination (like watching a train wreck) with this fundamentalist Mormon sect. I love the BIG LOVE. But as a sexual abuse survivor myself, I'm outraged that this behavior has been going on within the fundamentalist church for over a century without the law intervening. This is not TV. It's real life. Young girls partnered with older men to become wives, so that the men can reach the highest realm of heaven.

And they don't call it rape.

Income tax evasion. Defrauding the social welfare system. These are the kinds of claims that have been thrown at these white men as some sort of punishment. But they get off, and they go on forcing girls to marry older men in the church, and marry young girls themselves. Then these girls become mothers, and so on.

I wanted Warren Jeffs to face a harsher punishment, but I'm writing today to say I feel better knowing he's been sentenced in the state of Utah. Next up, we see what his charge will be in the state of Arizona, where he has also arranged under-age marriages.

I hate to tell you this, but this part is important: The Utah Board of Pardons and Parole has the authority to parole Warren Jeff's whenever they want to. Can you believe that? Most likely a board created by the Mormons long ago to make sure that government would not have more power than the church in the state of Utah. Who do you want to bet sits on this board but high-ranking church members, perhaps even fundamentalists? Let's all visualize The Board of Pardons and Parole ignoring Warren Jeffs.

Until next time.


Tuesday, November 20, 2007

unacceptable forms of entertainment

This article about the halftime ritual of harassment Giant's Stadium (New York) from the New York Times is all over the feminist blogosphere today, and it's enough to say that it's disgusting and annoying and wrong and that these guys are sad and immature and lame. But there's more...

The deal is this: The guys all crowd together at Gate D and heckle women to flash them their boobs. When the women comply the guys go crazy, when they don't they boo and sneer and now, apparently, throw bottles at them. Yeah, real classy.

The article interviewed people, including one of the boob-flashers herself, who didn't think this was a big deal. When asked what she thought about the fact that her breasts were caught on cell phones, and that video clips might be posted online later (as they have been in the past) she said, "I don't care. I love my body and I like what I have, so let everybody share it." That was the female perspective. Some of the men interviewed felt disgusted, or voiced their desire that the police get involved.

This new "tradition" at Giant's Stadium is reflective of a cultural shift. We live in a world where young women don't think too much about flashing their boobs. There's not a whole lot at stake. It's probably not going to affect that woman's future career. It's cool to love your body and to be open with it. And actually, it's not the boob-flashing, per se, that bothers me. It's clear that the women do it because it elicits a provocative response. The problem here is the fact that we live in a society where baboon-like behavior is not just tolerated, but celebrated. These guys are acting despicably, yes, but their behavior is pitiful and sad and tragic. There's not enough condemning of this stupid juvenile frat-boy code of behavior. I wouldn't even want to know a man who would be part of the rallying crew at Gate D. One man said, "This IS the game." Wow. Really? It's hard to not feel numbed by a comment like that. I know there's something to be said for crowd mentality, and the quick spiral into bad behavior. But there are hundreds of men gathering there in ritual---frequently, regularly, and mindlessly. Guys, get a grip on your lives. Take ownership over your maturity. Stop and think.


Thursday, November 15, 2007

sexiest man 2007, addendum

Dear Salon,

In response to your "Sexiest Man Living 2007," I'd like to applaud you for including a woman playing a man, a cartoon character, and a spattering of older men, including the venerable Jacques Pepin. It's a truism that you don't have to be actually hot if you're good with food. I also love that you included picks by men. I always love to see which men other men think are hot. Well done.

I must take issue with Alec Baldwin. Of course, the entry comes from one of my favorite women, Rebecca Traister, who asks, "If loving Alec Baldwin is wrong, I don't want to be right." Fine, Rebecca. But it is a little wrong. Then Anderson Cooper. The man is NOT sexy. And he's a sympathy milker.

I humbly suggest drop kicking those two and adding my own replacements: Terrence Howard and Gael Garcia Bernal. Look. I mean, really. Is there any contest?

I eagerly look forward to the Sexiest Woman 2007 picks. Here's $10 on Cate Blanchett winning in both categories this year.


Wednesday, November 14, 2007

A Tribute to Old

Hello there strangers. I've been away. Thanks to Brooke for doing ALL the blogging for Seal. She's so good at it.

I've been out of town attending my grandmother's 90th birthday party, which was basically a family reunion. My sibs, parents, and I were gathered in Colorado for the last several days hanging out with my grandma and her friends, watching a video of family photos (over and over again), and just generally enjoying each other's company. I don't see my sister and my brother very often, so it was great to hang out with them.

The most wonderful part of the trip was seeing what 90 looks like, and 80, and 70, and 60, and 50. People, I'm 40. That's right. Forty. I've been so caught up in that number since it came into my life. Seriously. It's my age, but ever since I turned 40, I've been obsessed with it. I've felt old, like probably more than half my life is gone, like death is around the corner, like I should have done so much more by know, like in each and every day there were so many reminders that I am MIDDLE-AGED. I've been self-involved about this whole 40 thing. It's ridiculous. Like no one else knows how I feel? How stupid. So I'm 40? BFD.

I have a whole new perspective. Thanks to Florence, Patti, Ruth, Janet, Teddie, Linda, Anita, Cindy, Sharon, Dori, Dottie, and so on. All of these women 50 and up are having fun. They're not fixated on age. At 90 my grandmother said, "Krista, age is a number. I don't care about the number. I care about living my life, and my friends feel that way too. Get out there and dance before your number is up."

These incredible women danced, drank, ate, laughed, hugged, shared stories, argued about politics, stole cake from others, wept, and reminded me to kick fear of aging in the ass and say yes to life.

Say yes to life!

To all my lovely older female relatives, friends, and Seal readers--check out our new title For Keeps: Women Tell the Truth About Their Bodies, Growing Older, and Acceptance

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

feminists don't have a sense of humor

Heard this song---"Mother of Pearl"---on NPR yesterday. Love it. The album is Obligatory Villagers, released in late September.

Monday, November 12, 2007

reckless mama

The medical debate surrounding Paula Radcliffe's recent win of the New York marathon, nine months after giving birth to her daughter Isla, is yet another good example of public overreaction and people dying to pass judgment on mothers for doing anything that falls outside of the "normal" parameters of socially-imposed maternal behavior.

Of course, the average mother is not going to start running immediately following childbirth. And I know from a running mama friend that you're supposed to take six weeks off. But Radcliffe had her baby in January. It's reported that she did push too hard and got a stress fracture that laid her up in early May. Tsk-tsk. But you can push too hard whether you're postpartum or not. Stress fractures are not exclusive to new mothers, nor exclusive to the base of the spine.

The "how soon is too soon?" debate irritates me because Radcliffe should only be inspiring to new mothers. She (and her stress fracture) should not serve as a warning to other new mothers. I love the mother who's interviewed for this MSNBC story, a random mother named Kristen Chase who has nothing to do with anything other than also being a "jogger" and also having given birth around the time Radcliffe did. That's like so exactly almost the same. I'm impressed they even found someone to interview who's experience is so similar. Chase is quoted saying, "New moms are extremely tired, so the prospect of getting on a treadmill or even running outside at six weeks when your children aren't sleeping through the night seems unimaginable."

Hmmmm.... I wonder if it's possible that what seems unimaginable to a jogging mother from Atlanta might not seem quite so unfathomable for a professional athlete who's previously won six marathons.

And please check out a a day in the life of Paula Radcliffe:

8.30am: Wakes, showers, feeds Isla.
9.30am: Day's longest run until 11.30am-noon, depending on training schedule.
12.30pm: Lunch.
1.30pm: Massage.
2pm: Afternoon sleep (until 4pm).
5-7pm: Training and exercises.
7pm: Shower and put Isla to bed.
10pm: Bed.

Radcliffe is on par with celebrities who lose a ton of weight very fast after having kids. We are just not like them. Can you imagine having this schedule? I'm sure it comes with a personal chef and organic meals, too. I'd like to imagine my life with tons of exercise and a massage every day, kid or not. But that's not to lessen Radcliffe's accomplishments. I think she rocks. And I think the "medical debate" is crap. That is, in my humble professional opinion.


Friday, November 9, 2007

fox is gagorific

Or, as Gloria Steinem writes more eloquently...

"Fox News shows more sexualized violence and humiliation than probably any other network--all in the name of condemning it---while under-showing violence in Iraq, all in the name of supporting it. After this video, smart viewers and advertisers will boycott Fox."

Click here and sign the petition to demand a la carte cable. It's worthwhile. The only more worthwhile petition I can imagine is the one getting Bill O'Reilly thrown off the air.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

detention for hugging

This story about the Illinois teen who got detention for hugging her friend is everywhere. I heard it on NPR on my way home from work last night. Then I saw it on two of the nightly news stations before tucking in. Then this morning it got a pretty prominent placement on the Today Show.

First of all, the amount of news coverage this story is getting is spirit-crushing. Yes, I'm propagating it, I know. But really, every night when I listen to the news, even NPR a lot of the time, I think to myself, Why do I subject myself to this? But it did make me think of Krista's screeching girl post (I'm sure some of those girls were hugging), and how adolescent girls are the huggiest bunch of people, and how awesome that is. Getting hugged by a 13-year-old is probably the best feeling in the world. I know, cause I recently did get a hug from Krista's son. Getting detention for hugging is clearly the stupidest thing ever, only to be topped by the news stations picking up the story and actually asking the question: "Have school officials gone too far?" Do we even have to ask?

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

computer angst

In the aftermath of having our computers stolen, Krista and I have been dealing with file reconstruction. File reconstruction feels like a hundred small deaths, because every time you have to reconstruct one you realize what you lost---again and again and again. There are so many small things that made my day-to-day easier: methods and structures and templates. Things that I love that are now gone. There are moments when it all seems fine, and then moments when I mourn the loss of files so dear that they were like friends to me. Only I didn't realize. It's true that you don't know what you got till it's gone.

I think there's a fine balance between being grateful for what you have and having the chance to start fresh. It's like that old Girl Scout song, "Make New Friends, But Keep the Old." (My parents enrolled me in the Christian version of Girl Scouts, but Christians are all about the old and the new, too.) I'm sorry, Files. I didn't appreciate you enough when I had you. And now you're lost to me forever.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007


Susan Faludi is a feminist heroine. She's a critical thinker. She's not reactionary. She's always believed (rightfully so) that men are imperative to feminism. She's just smart. I like her writing. I admire her resolve.

Like lots of Faludi's fans, I've been looking forward to her new book, The Terror Dream, now out on Metropolitan Books. It got a starred review in PW, a starred review on Booklist. And then it got slammed, and I mean slammed, in The New York Times. The review opens with a sentence that pretty much sums up the tone of the whole piece: "This, sadly, is the sort of tendentious, self-important, sloppily reasoned book that gives feminism a bad name." Yeah. Ouch.

It's on my to-read list. And that's a very long list. But my reason for posting is to comment on the broader issue (read problem) of "feminism as bad" serving as a legitimate premise for a book review. I'm tired of reviewers slapping feminists in the face anytime they want to write about gender depictions in the media, or about gender roles in society at large. These are very real issues. It doesn't matter how many examples to the contrary any given person can provide to counter Faludi's assertions that, in the aftermath of 9/11, there are fewer women's voices, that the media has capitalized on men as heroes/women as victims, that there has been a huge emphasis on family values and women returning to the home. It's easy to come up with examples to counter everything under the sun, but her assertions are not outlandish. They're not even incendiary. It's bothersome that today, in 2007, a book like Faludi's is being criticized for giving feminism a bad name. Give me a break. I have a really hard time believing that the book is unreasonable or sloppily reasoned or reactionary. I don't have a hard time believing, however, that feminists scare people for some reason. But why? Most feminists are like Susan Faludi: critical thinkers who want to engage in conversation about social trends and societal values and the ways in which the media and the government and pop culture steer us, and often manipulate us, toward swallowing a worldview that goes down easier if you don't ask any questions. I'm all for the articulation of such trends resulting in discourse, even debate. But when it instead results in feminism-bashing I have to just shake my head and try to hold my ground. Because another trend, and a disturbing one at that, is the tendency to dump on feminism for the sake of dumping---and I can't think of anything less admirable than that.


Monday, November 5, 2007

top 5 things i hate about daylight-saving time

1. It doesn't even make sense. Daylight-saving time. Think about it. Saving daylight? I want to save daylight, but I've given up trying to save things that can't and don't want to be saved. An old personal philosophy of mine, adopted to prevent Point 5.

2. It's arrogant. Only a quarter of the planet even bothers. The Europeans? You bet, smarter than us. What makes us think we have any control over The Time? I mean, come on. Who struggled to make it to their regular lunch hour today? Our bodies aren't stupid. Just because we're telling our minds that it's an hour later doesn't mean our bodies are cooperating. Mine is not. At all.

3. It's practically dark outside. Yes, I mean right now. And it's 4:25. Refer back to Point 1. What's the point of saving daylight when it's dark outside by the time you get home from work?

4. It fucks with your circadian rhythms. And this is something that doesn't need fucking with. I know, because I just fucked mine up severely coming home from Turkey last month. It took me a really long time to recover. I felt embarrassed about it, actually, like it was a tired excuse come mid-month. But I'm not exaggerating when I say I can barely function in a normal human capacity. I'm like a sloth.

5. It makes you psychotic. This is not alarmist. It's practically proven. Given Point 4, it stands to reason that your sleep patterns are off. And sleep disruption is scientifically linked to psychiatric illness. As if there aren't enough things in our lives to precipitate the onset of psychiatric illness.

Okay, I'll stop here. I can only hope I'll live to see the day when we end this madness. I have work to do, after all.