Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Adventures in Women's Studies: Klondike Drops the Bar

We don't have cable, so we watch all the shows we're obsessed with online--hulu, fox, etc. Despite the fact that they're online, there are a tone of ads, and the same ones play over and over during the Kitchen Nightmare seasons we've been watching: Axe and Klondike Bars. It should come as no surprise that Axe commercials are ridiculously misogynistic; they've always been that way. I still hate them, but at least I know what to expect from them. Klondike Bars, however, has started running one that I didn't see coming. They've been doing the "What would you do for a Klondike Bar?" thing for years and years, but the new one is the problem. The scene is a man and woman sitting on a couch; the man is watching tv, the woman is talking. It's titled "Mark vs. Actually Listening to His Wife." He listens to her talk for 5 seconds (literally) and is rewarded with a Klondike Bar, streamers, and two scantily clad blondes jumping around. I see this thing at least 10 or 15 times a day lately, and it never fails to piss me off. It's as if we've reverted to the '50's.

"To the moon, Alice!"

Advertising has never been feminist by any means, and it seems to be one of the last few remaining areas in which misogyny is perfectly acceptable. Take the Axe commercials: each one features a man who becomes an instant "chick magnet" by using the body wash, hair product, or whatever else they've started producing. The women are presented as being completely unable to control themselves or stop themselves from crawling all over the man. (That's all we need, more men who believe they're a gift to women.) The point is it's the year 2011, people. Are we really so pathetically uninteresting that we are still using these antiquated tropes? And are we really so pathetic that we like them or they work?

I went to Klondike's web site to complain and got back an initial form letter stating the following:

Unilever Ice Cream markets its various brands in ways that are meant to entertain and engage our target audience. The Klondike advertising appearing on AOL and other internet sites was developed to generate interest among our core users, adults 45+, for a “What Would You Do For A Klondike Bar?” contest recently launched by the brand. It was only intended to be humorous.
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 have a long history of presenting "tasteful" advertising to the public. Our ads must be informative and truthful. The agencies creating our advertising adhere strictly to these guidelines.We certainly do not wish to offend anyone. In developing product messages, Unilever and its agencies may not always anticipate all possible implications of an advertisement or television commercial.

Pardon me, but truthful and tasteful? So every man in the U.S. needs to be bribed with ice cream in order to listen to his wife for a few seconds? I call shenanigans. Then they follow that with the old "we didn't want to offend." My standard reply to that is, well, then you shouldn't have said it.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Was your last job with IHS?: A Feminist Rages

A friend of ours recently had an ultrasound done and found out she has a cyst. She shuffled off to the gynecologist to follow up and the following ensued--reconstructed from what I was told. (It is salient to note that she is African-American and of a lower socio-economic status.)

Dr: Do you have children?
Friend: Two.
Dr: Where do you work?
Friend: (insert low paying job here)
Dr: Okay, we need to go ahead and take out both ovaries and tubes as soon as possible. (He meant next week, and keep in mind here that he has no blood work, no biospy, and the ultrasound people told her to just come back in 6 months.) You already have two kids, and you don't need to bring anymore "into this society."

WHAT? This doctor has no reason whatsoever to think that the cyst requires any further scrutiny, and yet he suggested fairly radical surgery and told her only after asking about her job that she didn't need to have anymore. And this was not some weird, ancient clinic doc. No, he's part of a well-known and (I thought) well-respected women's health care group here in town. My first thought was of the sterilization of poor women of color on reservations and elsewhere. If she had been white or had a better paying job, would he have suggested this? My guess is no, no he would not.
Regardless of my own personal beliefs about overpopulation, etc., this is ridiculous and unacceptable. Aside from the fact that he immediately suggested surgery for something that may not even need any intervention, he took it upon himself to decide that she shouldn't have more children apparently based on nothing more than her race and SES. 2011, and we're still at this point...

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Book Life 18: These are Not the Pagans I Was Looking For

I should be asleep right now. Except for a two hour nap yesterday and around the same this evening, I've been up since 9 am Sunday. Stayed up, played D&D, came home, watched the season finale of Game of Thrones, and should have crashed. My body, however, had different plans. So I picked up the next book on my to-read list (at least the next one I have), which is the book you see to the left, Pagan Visions for a Sustainable Future edited by Ly de Angeles, Emma Restall Orr, and Thom van Dooren. I was very excited when I bought this book a while back, because as my fellow PSA (Pagan Student Association) members at FSU can tell you, Pagan Ethics is one of those things we can discuss for weeks. Those were some of the most involved and popular discussions at our meetings, in fact. The popular thought is you can ask 10 Pagans a question on anything and get at least 15-20 responses, and it's true. We do love to discuss and pick apart and analyze and debate, which is a good thing. It means we are open minded and civilized enough to realize that we are not going to agree completely and that's okay. Anyway, all of the above is to say I was quite enamored of the idea of this book when I bought it. There aren't very many Pagan Ethics books floating around, after all. However, of the many many books I have read over the years, Pagan literature has been the genre that has most disappointed me, and unfortunately, this book falls into that category.

The introduction rekindled the excitement I had when I found it:
"We make jokes about..."superstar Pagans" and "cash-register Druids," and all the while these people are becoming more and more common...What is so significant about these people is that they are coming to define what Paganism is...to a public that is greedy for anything even slightly sensational."--Thom van Dooren, "Introduction"
I loved this statement and a few other similar to it, because it's just true. Non-Pagans who have delved even shallowly into our literature for their own edification will likely recognize a handful of names like Scott Cunningham, Silver Ravenwolf, and Starhawk; they tend to serve as our emissaries into the wider world whether we wish them to or not, based entirely on their wide availability and copious publications. This is not to say that I have not read them. On the contrary, as a young solitary Wiccan 12 years ago, Cunningham was one of my go-to reads, and Starhawk pops up in Women's Studies and Religion texts all the time. This is also not to say that I like them. Cunningham had excellent information, and I think he's awesome. Silver Ravenwolf I believe is a blight on the Pagan world, and as my friend A'ishah and I have discussed many times, I am tired of Starhawk. From all appearances, she is the only feminist Pagan woman writing anything ever, and not all of it is worth the paper upon which it is printed. Certainly I am not saying that just because these are popular authors they have no worth, but as van Dooren pointed out, this problem is that they are coming more and more to completely represent Paganism. Ravenwolf and even Cunningham represent only one particular portion of the Pagan community, and yet, they are constantly put forth as representatives of our entire community. My Paganism is absolutely not that of Ravenwolf, and it has not been that of Cunningham for years. However, due to their place as spokespeople, we are all specifically Wiccan and solitary and etc. to outsiders.

Wow, I kind of veered off topic there...My point is that this book's intro set it up to be the response to that erroneous appearance with all the talk of superstar Pagans, but then it went down in flames. My excitement over the book made me forget the cardinal rule of buying Pagan books: always read the contributor list. There's Starhawk rearing her over-published head. I realize that many consider her not a superstar Pagan but a classic Pagan author, much like others in various other religious sects. But I can guarantee you, given the experiences I've had in Religion and Women's Studies courses over the past few years, she falls more into the former category than the latter. And maybe these editors see her as that classic Pagan author, but I think to do that, one has to ignore the place she is given in academic circles beyond the Pagan community. By placing her in this collection, they lost all credibility to me. Of course, many of the articles were well-written and maybe thought provoking for those in the particular groups addressed, but for me it was all overshadowed by that contradiction between ideal and published reality.

My kingdom for a good, solid Pagan Ethics book, one that does not privilege Starhawk and/or the Wiccan community. There are other Pagans out here, I assure you.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Freaking Right on Out: OCD Deluxe Pays a Visit

Today has been the first really bad day since I stopped my meds. I mean, yeah, my usual twitches and tics have been poking me repeatedly, but I haven't had one of those "my brain is being shaken" days up till now. For some reason, when I woke up this morning, my insanity decided today was an excellent time to come out and play.

So, I put away all the clean clothes from yesterday and washed dishes (normal), and then I refolded everything in the dresser (not normal). All of it, underwear drawer and all. Yes, it meant I got to use my flip-n-fold, which as we all know is one of the Goddess' greatest gifts, but seriously? I made myself sit down for a bit so I could eat some lunch and play Zombie Lane (I had pumpkins to harvest after all.), and of course, I'm writing this. However, the entire time I have been quietly losing my shit and trying to figure out what else I can do. Too much more of this and there may be drastic things done to hair out of sheer insane need to do SOMETHING. On another meds-related note, I am still having DT's. Joy.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Adventures in Women's Studies: The Duggars Revisited

So, we all know how much I miss academia. I have been going out of my skull with no research, conjugations, or papers to do, and so when Genevieve, a fabulous grad student who teaches Women's Studies, emailed and asked me to give my Quiverfull presentation for her class, of course I said yes. Next Wednesday evening I get to put that look of "omg are you serious?" into the eyes of Women's Studies students. It's great. I love it. Anyway, the class is a new one called Mothering in the 21st Century, so I know I need to update the PowerPoint I use--not to mention it just needs updating. I decided to catch up on my Duggar surveillance. I backtracked and figured out I've missed 3 whole seasons (!) and what there is of season 7. Horrors! Being without cable, I went trolling YouTube, and lo and behold there they all are in pieces. Voila! Duggar-thon! (Thank you duggarhayesfan for uploading all of them!)

I don't really have a solid point for this blog post, but we'll see what new and fabulous insights arise from my mini research session...

As I was about to post this, Michelle mentioned that she was taking Jim Bob to her Weight Watchers meeting...and then she said Jana had been going for quite a while. Jana is the oldest daughter and has never once in all the years they've been on tv been even slightly chubby. She's beautiful (I will be woman enough to admit having a small crush...calm down--she's over 18.), and I just don't know what to do with this info yet. I get Michelle going: She uses WW to lose the baby weight after each kid and get back to her pre-pregnancy weight. Fine. Whatever floats her boat. But I just don't know what to think about encouraging Jana to do it. That just screams messed up body images to me...

Duggar Fun (If a Bit Scary) Fact: If all 19 kids had 19 kids each, there would be nearly 7,000 grand-Duggars. Oh, VIsion Forum would love that...

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Book Life 17: "Poetry Should Not Flinch"

Given that one of my degrees is in Creative Writing, it should come as no surprise that I love poetry. I write it when my brain wants to cooperate, and I read the good stuff when I find it. Poetry is kind of like drugs: the bad stuff can really screw with you, but the good stuff, ah, now that will get you strung out wanting more.

Elegy for the Southern Drawl by Rodney Jones

I stumbled on this while picking books at Powells.com to use my trade credit on, and I am so glad that I did. Jones is an Alabama-born poet with a beautiful voice. The title quote is from his poem "A Coronary in Liposuction," and I swear it's going on the "maybe one of my tattoos" list. After reading this book, I immediately realized I'd read a poem of his elsewhere, and lo and behold if I didn't find it in one of my favorite collections ever: Working the Dirt: An Anthology of Southern Poets edited by Jennifer Horne. I picked that one up in a tiny bookstore in Monroeville, AL when we went home to visit. I fell in love with it, and there Jones was on page 164. Too bad I'm so broke, or I'd order the rest of his books right now!

While I'm on the subject of poetry, I have also recently had the good fortune to read The Alphabet Conspiracy by Rita Mae Reese. A friend and former professor gave me a copy, and it's wonderful.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

The Cleansing of the Articles: Hoarder Self-Intervention, Part Oh, Who Knows...

Well, I cleaned out the binders today. An entire bottom shelf of one of our short bookcases was lined with binders filled with articles from various classes over the past four years. I kept, well, everything; my justification was that I might need them again for a paper. I was right quite a few times, but not 16 binders worth. So, I made myself sit down and go through all of them this afternoon. There are now 4 with articles, 1 containing all my honors thesis stuff, and one containing a photocopy of a book I want to keep. Not too bad. Of course, the entire time in my head all I could hear was, "But you might need that article! Don't toss that one!" *le sigh*

I also tried to reorganize the bookshelves a bit, and that turned out semi-okay. I still have major problems letting go of books. You know, because I might want it later on...

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Blog. Short. Too. Angry.

So, when I finish my application filling for the day, I go answer questions at one of those stupid "text us anything" sites for two cents an answer. I think I have made about $1.20 in two days, but that's not the point. This person sent in "Is it unethical to buy $200 sunglasses?" We could debate this particular issue for hours, but again, not the point. The point is that this ass just asked if spending $200 on regular sunglasses (not prescription) was unethical to a person making TWO CENTS an answer! Pardon me while I scream and drive my blood pressure up.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

"But I might need that later!": Ramblings of a Minor Hoarder with a Semi-Clean Closet

Guess what? I cancelled my last appointment with the head shrinker, and I quit taking my meds a little over a month ago. This was less a conscious decision about my distrust of the medical and therapeutic professions (though those do exist) than a reality check about the fact that I am still unemployed and my FSU health insurance runs out in August. (Of course, I have been having the attendant weirdness that comes along with dropping things like Zoloft cold turkey; the insomnia, general discombobulation, and minor hallucinations have been the worst.) Anyway, this means that I have been dealing with my OCD symptoms all by my little lonesome (as Mema used to say), and it has not been pretty. I've had some pretty gnarly mood swings from the manic depression, and my poor brain once again feels like it's being shaken around quite a bit. However, there's not a lot I can do about this. There are, as my former therapist mentioned, low-income helpers for people like me, but I've been through that before. It is not as easy or as helpful as she thinks it is, unfortunately, and I'm sure my low SES buddies with similar probs can back me up on that one.

In any case, the last few weeks have been exceedingly stressful, and all of this has been pushed to the front of my long line of worries/concerns lately. Today's particular mental discussion panel covered my relatively low-grade hoarding (partially because of a friend's blog, which can be seen HERE). A few weeks ago, Anna and I finally tackled the closet. Now, that may sound simple, but as my faithful readers will attest, not so. The last time was nightmarish (as can be seen here, and again here, and one more time in this one), and that closet was minuscule compared to this one. Here we have a walk-in closet, and it was stuffed to the rafters with decorations, clothes, general crap, and also several large plastic tubs from when we raided the storage back home last year. We could barely get in and out to dig up clothes, and a small but noticeable mountain had begun to form in the back. Every time I opened the door, I felt the panic rising, so I knew it had to be done. However, knowing this and actually doing it are two different things. My poor Anna suffered through a two-day ordeal in which I managed to purge WAY more than either of us ever thought would be possible, but still not enough, says the responsible monkey in the back of my mind.

One of my big things is office supplies. I love pens and pencils and notebooks, and if I find them cheap, Katie bar the door. So, when we were purging, you would not believe the number of journals, notebooks, pens, pens, and did I mention pens. Clearance is a beautiful thing just after school starts in the fall, and so very many places hand out free pens. I had at least 20 of one particular free pen. No joke. But I cleared 'em out. I still have a drawer with a basket o' pens, and there's a storage bin under the bed with a good number of journal and notebooks type lovely things; but all in all, I did good. I got rid of a lot of random crap I had been hanging onto for no discernible reason, and a good (if dusty and panic-stricken) time was had by all. Friends dug through some of it like ferrets, and then a junk-buying lady from craigslist took the rest. We were both quite proud of me.

BUT, and there is always a but when my OCD is involved, I still think I could have done better. At the same time, I know that if I had gotten rid of too much more, my brain would likely have liquefied and come gushing out my ears. I did well considering my issues surrounding stuff in general, but today I sat looking at our bookshelves thinking that I intentionally avoided them. Yes, we do purge them every so often because our apartment is too small to support the book habit we have had for so long. But school enabled me to hang onto extra books--"I'll need them later." I would say, and most of the time, I would be absolutely right. I used them for papers and my thesis, and was proven absolutely right. Now that I'm effectively thrown out into the world, I can't really claim that for a chunk of them. Oh, I plan on getting into a grad school eventually (I hope) and continuing some of my research interests, so a part of them need to stay right where they are. There are others, though, that I know I will likely never use again, and if I do, it will be years and years away, making the space worth more than the money I might save by not buying it again later. Other books are simply hanging around because I love them. I won't get rid of certain things EVER, but some are peeping around double stacks of overflow and I know I will likely never read them again despite the fact that they were wonderful or entertaining. But I panic worse at getting rid of books than almost anything else in the world.

And so, you are wondering, where is she headed with this long, rambling post? I absolutely hate the hoarding part of me. She drives me nuts when she starts mumbling about "keep this. We might need it later." and "For Goddess' sake, don't throw that out!" I know I don't need fourteen of the same pen or every single cute notebook I see. In fact, since I am floating in a non-academic limbo right now, I don't even have an excuse to buy them anyway. But I still do it. I still see stuff and want to take it home when I know that a) we don't have room and b) it serves no purpose at all. As many hoarders do, I say it's collecting, and some of it is; but not nearly all of it. Another case of I know it's nuts, but I can't do a damn thing about it. I'm staring at a row of binders stuffed full of articles, and hoarder Dawn is whispering, "don't even think about it. We'll need those later."