You are currently browsing the daily archive for November 17, 2008.

Gay Shower

Someone has made a hilarious set of fake christofascist propaganda posters over at this website.

The creator says:

Visual imagery, though, can often communicate ideas more quickly than words and convey emotions more immediately than any argument. For that reason I have created propaganda posters which promote some of the beliefs of the Christian Right. The intention is satirical, not sympathetic, but even so I believe that both the images and the words accurately reflect what some on the Christian Right belief and advocate.

I tend to suffer from Chronic Outrage Fatigue. I often rely on fun little photos and videos I come across on the interwebs to help me get through the day. I call them ‘day brighteners’ and I intend to share them here on my blog so others can also ease their symptoms of Chronic Outrage Fatigue.

So please enjoy… KITTY KRISPY!!

Kitty Krispy

These are propaganda posters that I designed the other day because…. well, I felt like it. They are meant to be shown together. Feel free to print them up and post them wherever. They were designed to fit 11×17 paper.

Propaganda Pt.1

Propaganda Pt.2

That Larry Summers’ name has been tossed about as a potential Secretary of the Treasury has stirred up quite a bit of debate. Feminism’s skeptics are expressing their concern that feminists have overreacted to his public statement about the diminished innate scientific abilities of women, and are overreaching when they suggest he is not qualified for this reason. People are saying that his history of unequal treatment of women (and blacks) doesn’t affect his suitability for the job, because of his strong economic and academic credentials.

Mr. Summers’ past treatment of people belonging to traditionally oppressed/marginalized groups in society is indeed important when considering whether he is the best candidate for the job. If sexism/racism and other forms of discrimination are institutionalized, and we value changing that, one way to deinstitutionalize them is to make sure that institutional leaders aren’t oppressive.

Mr. Summers’ has had poor working relations with many of his female and black colleagues. This is documented. He created a climate at Harvard where his female and black colleagues were resigning in order to get away from him. Is the past an indication of the future?

Mr. Summers’ potential work as a powerful official will not occur in a vacuum. In fact, if he obtains this position, his work will affect the millions of people who live in the United States. We have no evidence that he would suddenly treat non-whites and non-males any better if he is rewarded with a powerful position. I can’t advocate further institutionalizing bigotry by supporting his appointment.

(c) idyllicmollusk 11/16/08

Women and men are born with biological differences. All fetuses are first formed as female. Starting at four weeks, fetuses with a Y chromosome are exposed to washes of chemicals called androgyns. Androgyn changes some aspects of the affected fetuses so that they will develop physically into boys, with varying degrees of psychological and physical differentiation from girls. This is sexual differentiation.

Each society has developed its own methods to handle the differences between girls and boys. Across the world, societies have designated a rainbow of different kinds of roles for women, men and people who don’t fit easily into gender roles. What may be part of a woman’s gender in one community could be part of a man’s gender in another, as babies aren’t born knowing how to chop firewood or sell goods in the marketplace. In one community, little girls are taught that selling goods is a “part” of being a woman. In another, little boys are taught that selling goods is a “part” of being a man. Societies often come to think of these more or less arbitrary designations as “natural”.

We in America have also developed different roles for men and women as a way to address sexual differentiation. Over time, we have come to regard certain tasks and behaviors as naturally female or male. We train our children to become habituated to these roles – to internalize them.

It is important to recognize that the way we gender children is arbitrary, and in American society, sometimes harmful.

The argument for why our gender rules harm women is well-known. In our past we saw such human rights abuses as enslavement to husbands, socially-sanctioned physical and sexual abuse, restricted civil rights and severely curtailed access to public life, including the ability to attend higher education or choose a career. These human rights abuses of the past were justified by a male chauvinist society that gave “naturalized” reasons for why this was “part” of being a woman.

Because of racism in society, women of different skin colors had different gender roles – even within one society, America’s, gender was not applied evenly across-board. Whereas white women were naturally delicate and weak, and therefore must be confined to light house work, black women were naturally strong and hearty, and therefore could work outside the home (in service to whites).

Today we can look at empirical data and still see sex-differentiated life outcomes among America’s population. The wage gap in men’s favor is well-documented. There is also over- and under-representation of men in certain career fields. Men are more likely to be CEOs or POTUS, but also to abuse women and children, and to go to jail. Women get the majority of college degrees, but are more likely to live in poverty and to be on welfare.

Americans must examine their reasons for teaching children certain behaviors based on their sex. In many ways, it is clear differentiated treatment is harmful. Boys are taught to use aggression to solve problems and to stifle emotion. Girls are taught not to excel and to put other’s needs before their own. Why? Is someone benefiting from behaviors such as these? Do we have evidence that our gender rules lead to greater happiness?

Certain aspects of both America’s genders are clearly harmful, yet other aspects are positive: women are taught to value relationships, communication and collaboration. Men are taught to value personal strength, independence and achievement. Why can’t we discard teaching children the negative gender-related characteristics? Why can’t every child learn clearly positive traits such as good communication and independence? If a woman can rely on herself instead of a man, if a man can communicate his emotions instead of resorting to violence, where is the harm? Yet society seems to recoil when a person of one sex assumes too many traits of the gender associated with the other sex. Why is that?

(c) idyllicmollusk 8/08

Considering Patriotism
As I walked home from my Fourth of July celebrations through Seattle’s gayborhood, Capitol Hill, I saw multitudes of queers and hipsters celebrating this problematic holiday much the same way as my friends and I did. I saw them embroil themselves in the most stereotypical modes of celebration known to this nation: drunkenness, BBQs, fireworks, patriotic iconography, national songs, and shouts of patriotic fervor.

Yet the way they threw themselves into these celebrations showed a quintessentially hipsteresque level of irony and sarcasm. As social progressives, they are well apprised of the past and present sins of our nation; as queers, they know quite well that they are not even fully-equal citizens. They are conflicted about their relationship to their country, as am I. We know there are worse places on this earth, but we can’t escape the knowledge that there are some things that are fundamentally wrong with America.

We of the gayborhood eschew the unexamined, unquestioned nationalism, xenophobia, and jingoism that usually accompany Independence Day festivities. We ride dangerously close to the edge, almost replicating these expressions of narrow-mindedness, but staying just this side of informed mockery.

Massive, official displays of American patriotism are absurd. Our country has made war, enslaved, extorted and exploited. We are founded on the genocide of the people who were here before the white man came. We continue to struggle under endemic domestic social ills, and we continue to be a petulant bully in the outside world. To celebrate the purified, sanitized version of our history that we learned in schools and that we know is deliberately falsified, is to celebrate white supremacy and open lies.

The Fourth of July is absurd. Human nature has, fortunately, developed a mechanism for handling the absurd. It’s called humor, and it is a survival mechanism. The queers and the hipsters of Capitol Hill kicked into full survival mode this 4th by recognizing the absurdity of the day that lay before them and found their typical means of solace worthy to the task. They fell back on sarcasm and irony, and went through the empty motions of self-congratulatory nationalism to wallow in them, to handle this confusing day the best they could.

I joined them. I was one of them. I lit off fireworks, drank the champagne of beers, grilled hotdogs, shouted USA! USA! while pumping my fist in the air, and sang America the Beautiful. My friends and I all silently thought about genocide, slavery and war. We drank until we could no longer consider such complex topics, and then we wandered home to the sporadic sounds of firecrakers like gunfire in the night. Hell, it could have been real gunfire for all I know.

(c) 7/7/08 idyllicmollusk

UPDATE 11/28/08: Check out this super post about learning eurocentric history at stuff white people do.

The Excessive Jubilance of Electro Pop
I have been watching a heavy, possibly excessive, amount of jubilant electro pop/electro hop music videos of late. I’ve noticed some commonalities, and have formulated some theories.

The electro pop music videos that have entranced me range from low-budget local projects to polished, lavish videos accompanying international chart-topping hits. They come from Tampa, Seattle, Kansas City, London, Paris, and Oslo.

Some mind-blowing examples reflecting this range include videos from Scream Club, the Ssion, Mika, Justice, Calvin Harris, Gravy Train!!!!, Annie and TTC.

Commonalities:

1. Fuchsia

2. Other neon 80s colors

3. 70s disco-inspired beats and outfits

4. 60s-esque trippy imagery (think Yellow Submarine or further back to Ernie Kovacs‘ style of comedy)

5. Flat color fields (a flat monochrome background, for example, somewhat reminiscent of the 1950s Color Field style of painting)

6. Happy fantasy-land settings

7. Heavy borrowings from/incorporation of gay culture

8. In many, queering of gender roles (as well as equal space for men & women, queers & straights)

Watching Mika’s “Relax, (Take it Easy)” you can see the seamless confluence of many of these elements. What interests me specifically in music videos like this is how influences have been plucked from several different decades and woven together to create a look/sound both distinctly modern, yet unmistakably retro. And, why these influences?

There are some concessions to make immediately. Many of the elements of these music videos could be dismissed as pure escapism. Other elements can be dismissed as simply “trendy”. And for a certain set of the artists making these videos, budget constraints significantly define the aesthetic of the final result.

Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, I’d like to prod a little deeper. Color fields and disco beats are minimalist and stripped-down. They reduce their respective mediums (color and beat) to their most essential quality – i.e. clear out a lot of bullshit. They provide the background and foundation for the vision and message of the artists. Built on top of that is a very interesting structure indeed.

First, I would like to say a word about fuchsia. This color is significant in electro pop for a couple reasons. The color that actually appears in the majority of these videos is “Fashion Fuchsia” or “Hollywood Cerise” which is a color developed in the 20th century specifically for women’s clothing and having movie-star connotations. The color Fuchsia also has a life in the world of gay code-terms, possibly because it is a relative of lavender, and it is no stretch to assume that its frequent invocation represents both a reference to gay culture and to feminine Hollywood glamor. It was also popular in the 80s, and appears accompanied by many other neon or fluorescent colors that enjoyed a similar popularity in that decade.

The 70s and 80s references of the videos seem to cluster around the disco/synth aesthetic of the years 1976-1984 (more or less). Limited synthesizer and drum machine technology formed the boundaries of the electronic beats and sounds the artists were able to develop. Fortuitously for cash-strapped electro pop artists in the 00s, these sounds are relatively cheap and easy to replicate, and so continue on in a retro life.

Fashion choices for current groups also draw from this time period. This is probably because the subcultures (the gay club scene, early NYC hip hop, the backlash against the hyper-masculinity of some underground 70s rock music, art school students, performance artists) that birthed electro pop’s predecessors, disco and synth pop, also form a direct lineage to today’s subcultures that produce the electro pop. After a rather masculine music terrain in the 1990s, where grunge, alternative rock, gangsta rap, and rap-rock were prominent, electro pop music that started exploding in the late 90s and early 00s could again be a backlash against hyper-masculinity in music.

One can see the references to hip hop in some rapped lyrics, posture and movement in the videos, and blingy jewelry.  This is no accident, as some early forms of hip hop, electro funk and/or electro hop (Afrika Bambaataa, Hashim, Jonzun Crew), did successful experiments in electronically-produced beats.

The influence of gay culture on disco and synth pop at this time (76-84) was huge (Sylvester, Marc Almond, Patrick Cowley, etc), and this is by no means lost in contemporaneous electro pop. If anything, it is even more pronounced, most likely because of a more accepting social climate today. Having historically sprouted from subcultures more equitable towards gays and women than the mainstream, electro genres foster higher participation from these groups than other genres do. The jubilant tone of much of the music from this time and these genres (pre-AIDS epidemic) is reflected in contemporary electro.

What may be the truly fascinating element of current electro pop is this jubilance. I see it expressed most clearly in the use of trippy and fantastic design and images. While many would write off trippy images like in “Relax, (Take it Easy)” or Justice’s “D.A.N.C.E” as mere celebration of drugs and odes to escapism, I detect more nuance. The trippy images hearken back to the experimentations of 1960s drug culture, and its peace and love tone. While having a psychedelic experience involves liberating the mind from its ordinary thought routines or exploring new levels of consciousness and could refer to any decade, the style of these electro pop music videos directly refers to graphic styles of the 60s. They relate to a nostalgic feeling for the exuberance of the youth culture pre-1968. In many ways 1968 was a year of innocence lost: end of the Prague Spring, My Lai Massacre, Mao Zedong’s reeducation programs, MLK and RFK assassinations, the French demonstrations, and killing of college students by the military in the US and Mexico.

By doggedly focusing on the jubilance of subcultures pre-loss of innocence (1968, AIDS), electro pop is defying the general consensus that liberal-minded people should be feeling downcast. Electro pop artists are searching for time periods from which to draw their happy aesthetic. Though they, as anyone, are inundated with messages of how the world is awry, from global warming to unethical corporations to international conflict, they are defiantly happy. They carefully select cultural references to signal to their listeners and viewers. And they choose to celebrate, dance and be uninhibited.

Well, maybe that is escapism to you, but to me, these days it seems like an outright political statement.

(c) idyllicmollusk 6/16/08

MOTHER OF TEARS

So I saw Dario Argento’s Mother of Tears at Seattle’s International Film Festival, the biggest film festival in the United States (but not North America, no, that honor goes to Toronto).

Argento’s colorful four-decade career as an Italian horror master and auteur has been well-documented and much-commented-upon. His creativity was really at its zenith in the seventies and the early eighties, when the technical limitations of the time and the zeitgeist intersected perfectly with Argento’s vision and ambitions to create a captivating aesthetic. With the mainstreaming of horror film in the eighties, Argento found himself competing with Hollywood heavy-hitters for the same, or similar, audiences, and it is my opinion that in this competition some of the vibrancy and cohesiveness of his original vision was lost –he took his eyes off the ball.

The Mother of Tears is the final installment of his “three mothers” trilogy started in 1977 with his most famous film, Suspiria, and continued with Inferno in 1980. Over thirty years after it was begun, Argento has finally got around to tying the trilogy all together. The mysterious woman glimpsed in Inferno. The obsession with architect E. Varelli. The ultimate intentions of all these witches that keep cropping up. All answers lie in the Mother of Tears.

Mother of Tears stars Argento’s own B-movie star daughter, Asia Argento, as well as his favorite lead lady from decades past, Daria Nicolodi and Udo Kier, an old-school European horror actor. Besides these latter two actors, there are a couple quick references to the previous films of the trilogy, but insider references are the one aspect of this movie that is not heavy-handed.

Though most SIFF films show twice, Mother of Tears was only shown once as a discount midnight movie. Now, why might that be? With this film, Argento is exploring the outer regions of the type of film filed under “So Bad It’s Good.” He has moved past that, far, far past. Beyond “So Bad It’s Just Bad.” Yet farther, he is stretching the limits of film towards a new horizon… changing the very meaning of the word “bad” itself, and in doing so, changing what his audience has come to expect from a horror film. It is as though he is saying “I am Dario Argento. And I do what I want,” in a profoundly authoritative voice.

The plot is nonsensical to the point that you can tell Argento (who is credited with screenwriting) just didn’t give a fuc.k. AT ALL. To talk about the “plot” would be an exercise in futility, but to discuss the cinematography is worthwhile. Apart from occasional lazy camerawork and poorly-done painted backgrounds, there are cinematic moments during Mother of Tears that hearken back to Argento’s glory days. Main character Sarah’s (Asia Argento) exploration of the old house and the catacombs is one such passage of note.

The acting is so beyond terrible that it must be purposefully wretched, as directly before Mother of Tears I saw The Last Mistress, made in 2007, in which Asia starred and did quite a respectable job, overall. In the Mother of Tears, she and the rest of the cast alternately over- and under-act, perhaps depending on their moods.

The audience alternated between hysterical laughter and frantic face-covering. The acting and dialog lead to some pretty hilarious moments, but the hilarity is brutally chopped up with spurts of incredible gore. Some have said that this is Argento’s goriest film yet. Random and poorly-executed CGI effects are sprinkled in, for no apparent reason, and probably restricted due to budget concerns. They account for the uncharacteristic jump-scares that happen a couple times during the film.

Here is an amazing sample of dialog from the beginning of the film:

Michael (Adam James): “I think that the amulets have something to do with black magic. I’ve been studying the occult sciences for years.”

Sarah: “Sciences?! Surely you don’t believe that stuff.”

I mean, come on. That has to be on purpose. Right?

Dennis Harvey of Variety got it right when he called this film a “future camp classic.”

© idyllicmollusk 6/2/08

In today’s Boston Globe, Geraldine Ferraro again participates in the Oppression Olympics** (boycotted by all dedicated to social justice) and reaffirms her racist credentials.

Ferraro is enraged that it appears a black man may get “a seat at the table” before her preferred candidate, a white woman. Like a certain segment of second-wave feminists (is Ferraro even a feminist?), she feels that women (and when Ferraro says women, she means “white women”) have paid their dues and are now “owed” a turn as president. There is not a small amount of intrinsic racism in the fact that she seems so deeply horrified, offended even, that a black man may get a turn before a white women.

She uses several covers in attempts to hide her racism, and all of them are as flimsy and transparent as Saran wrap. The first is that, to her determination, sexism is now a much greater force in American society than racism, so Hillary has suffered the greater degree of bigotry, and it is for this reason alone that she is losing. She is even ready to fund a study to prove this, as her Op-Ed makes clear. Anyone with an iota of education about oppression and social justice would immediately spot this sentiment as coming from a place of thoroughly entrenched privilege. Of course, being female, Ferraro is quite familiar with the effects of prejudice against women. Being white, she has little familiarity with the effects of prejudice against blacks. Assuming that her prejudice is the greater one is not only a front-row ticket to the Oppression Olympics, but also an interesting case of oppression chauvinism. (“The oppression I experience is ipso facto the more important oppression.”)

The second cover is her claim that Obama’s race is in fact a benefit to his candidacy; i.e. he has unfairly benefited in the primary season because he is black. She suggests that were Obama not black, his political career would not be where it is today. Ferraro must be privy to some form of secret political affirmative action that the rest of us are unaware of. She hints that Hillary’s whiteness is actually a liability, though admittedly a liability that 43 previous presidents were able to heroically overcome. If anyone can point out to me any fairly reputable information that indicates being black has ever unfairly benefited a political candidate against a white opponent, please post it in the comments, I am dying to see it. So is Geraldine.

Her silliest cover is an infantile rhetorical maneuver: she “objectively” describes the racist concerns of a “certain” group of white democrats who just so happen to think exactly like her. But since all she does is describe this anonymous group of “Reagan Democrats”, she surely cannot be pinned as sharing their racist fear of a black president. No, all she does is merely describe their fear of reverse-racism, loss of supremacy, and dwindling ability to make racist statements in the media and get away with it.

Her final cover, in the penultimate paragraph, is to raise the class issue. I think she does this to wave a straw man off to the side: “See, all this stuff about race I just said? It isn’t about race, it’s about class! Therefore, what I said is not racist.” (Also known as the “Anything But Race” argument.) She clumsily suggests that because Obama is smart and was raised middle-class, working-class democrats can’t relate to him. So….? What about Hillary’s intelligence and class background? What about the black working class? What about the fact that white working-class voters had no problem voting for Obama in Oregon? What does this have to do with any of the preceding paragraphs? This sounds strikingly familiar to the bellowings of the Angry White Man.

One inch of her racist butt that she forgets to cover is the pesky little issue of the existence of women of color. In this Op-Ed and her last, she fails to recall that they exist, fails to consider that they have especially complex issues to contemplate this election cycle. She seems to assume that they will meekly get in line behind their more important white sisters and just do whatever they are told. Ferraro also seems to assume that women of color will feel unrepresented by a candidate of color, but yet will feel complete sisterhood with a white woman whose campaign has occasionally relied on racist tactics. Oops, but since racism is so minimal women of color are expected, by the Ferraro set, to ignore stuff like that, because a white woman will undoubtedly know what’s best for them!

**I first heard of the Oppression Olympics at Feministing.com.

© idyllicmollusk 5/30/08

Trigger alert.

Did you know that 100% of rape accusations made by women are false? Fact. Researchers working at the nonpartisan Women Always Lie Institute (WALI) came up with this percentage by taking the number of rape allegations made by U.S. women in 2007 and applying the well-established “Women Are Never to Be Trusted” principle to the data. Though many groups dispute the percentage of rape allegations that are false, the percentage determined by this study can be trusted because no women were allowed on the research team.

Rape is not common. In fact, it is so uncommon as to pretty much not exist. If rape happened as often as women’s advocates and feminists suggested (1 in 6 American women) it would be a cause of national concern! People would be rioting in the streets! That would mean that 17.7 million American women have been raped. Clearly, that can’t be possible, because something would be done about it if these numbers were true.

Fortunately, they aren’t. Unbiased WALI social scientists have thoroughly debunked all instances of rape allegations. Advocates and feminists claim that 73% of the “victims” know their assailants. We can safely discount this 73% of rapes, as research indicates they stem from vengeful feminazis who come to regret their sexual choices the day after. In order to maintain clear consciences and clear reputations, all they have to do is scream “rape” and violá, suddenly scores of innocent men are trooped off to jail in shackles while the scheming woman runs free without a blemish on her record. So right off the bat, science discredits almost three quarters of “rapes”.

The existence of the remaining 27% of rapes hinges in society’s belief in the “man hiding in the bushes” myth. Tireless women’s-rights advocate Phyllis Schlafly dispels this notion handily: “Virtuous women are seldom accosted,” she says. “Men hardly ever ask sexual favors of women from whom the certain answer is no.” So from this statement we can surmise that supposedly “virtuous” women who claim to be “raped” by strangers most likely in some way provoked and desired the encounter. Again, research by WALI supports this debunking. WALI researchers conducted a phone survey of a random, nation-wide sample of 100 adult American males personally known to them. Not a single one reported an instance in which he had hidden in bushes and jumped out to sexually assault a woman.

Many readers of this article may be shocked at the alarming frequency with which women lie about rape (17% of women have told this lie). Perhaps you, like myself and many others, are wondering if you can do something about this lie epidemic, which tragically tarnishes the romantic lives and reputations of so many upstanding men. Fortunately, there is a movement which is struggling against the mighty foe of scurrilous women’s special interest groups. This movement is called the Men’s Rights Movement. To learn more about their courageous work against women who claim to be raped, just visit this website: http://www.freewebs.com/AntiFeminist.

Together, we can stop lying, scheming misandrist women.

© Havlová 5/14/08

Vaginal ultrasound instrument

Forced penetration is now required by law in Oklahoma, but only for sluts (i.e. women who want to terminate their pregnancies. You know, sluts.)

Get ready to vom. Recall this post about the Oklahoma legislature bill allowing abortion-seeking women the freedom of eye movement? I jested that this bill was a human rights victory, but in reality it was a list of provisions to interfere with women’s ability to access abortion. Gov. Henry did indeed VETO this bill (thanks Brad), but the incensed OK legislature overrode his veto less than 16 hours after it occurred.

What will make you puke is that Senate Bill 1878 contains many other disgusting items, including a section that MANDATES medically unnecessary ultrasounds before a woman can have her abortion. No other states mandate this, though some say the option must be made available to women.

From Alternet:

Under the guise of obtaining informed patient consent, this new law requires doctors to withhold pregnancy termination until an ultrasound is performed. The law states that either an abdominal or vaginal ultrasound, whichever gives the best image of the fetus, must be done. Neither the patient nor the doctor can decide which type of ultrasound to use, and the patient cannot opt out of the ultrasound and still have the procedure. In effect, then, the legislature has mandated that a woman have an instrument placed in her vagina for no medical benefit. The law makes no exception for victims of rape and incest.

From Shakesville:

[This bill] is one of the most stomach-churning requirements I have ever seen. They are willing to physically violate and humiliate women who are determined to have an abortion and willing to use the threat of that humiliation to try to dissuade women from having a legal medical procedure. Even the normally distressing commenters at Salon’s Broadsheet understood that this is just wrong. As one so aptly said, isn’t there a word for sticking something in a woman’s vagina against her free and uncoerced will?

Yes, there is. Thank you, Oklahoma Legislature, for mandating medical rape.

I can’t quite say why, but I have a general and growing unease regarding my rights as a female-genitalled person these days. Something to do with these laws that purportedly are for my own good, or to save me from myself. Let me tell you something, anymore myself is the last person I need saving from… Oklahoma legislators would be much much higher on my list, as would Supreme Court Justices Kennedy, Roberts, Scalia and Alito. (They of these amazing words: “The Act also recognizes that respect for human life finds an ultimate expression in a mother’s love for her child. Whether to have an abortion requires a difficult and painful moral decision…which some women come to regret” from when they randomly upheld a ban on the intact dilation & extraction abortion procedure, even though for some women this is the safest option.)

Can’t you feel the love? The love these judges and legislators have for women, much like that of a mother for a child? No? Me neither.

A final note from Alternet:

Failure to perform the ultrasound also leads to fines beginning at $10,000 and increasing to more than $100,000. By comparison, the highest fine for negligent homicide or driving under the influence in Oklahoma is $1,000.

© idyllicmollusk 5/2/08

No FGM

Recently, the US Board of Immigration Appeals denied asylum to three women who had been victims of FGM (female genital mutilation) in their home country of Guinea because they had no well-founded fear of further persecution, since your vulva can only be cut off once.

To be clear, in Guinea, 95% of women are subjected to FGM.

The women claim that the high prevalence of FGM in Guinea indicates a culture of serious oppression against women. They further claim that they have well-founded fears that their daughters would also have their vulvas cut off if they were to return.

“There’s no question female genital mutilation is a horrendous act,” said Department of Justice lawyer Michael Heyse.

But…

Jessica Sherman, a Justice Department lawyer, said there was no evidence in the cases of the three women that the same individuals who harmed them would do so again.

At the hearing, the judges seemed particularly upset at a conclusion by the government that it was fair to return the women to Guinea because they could not suffer further persecution since mutilation had already occurred.

“Supply me any case in which a well-founded fear of persecution was not sustained because the same leg couldn’t be amputated or the same organ removed,” demanded Judge Rosemary Pooler.

Pa-DOW government lawyers! “Justice Department” indeed. That’s a blow to their old “Vulvas Can Only Be Cut off Once, So Go Back to Your Totally Non-Persecuting Country Wench!” song-and-dance. And I say “old” because the government has always denied victims of FGM asylum, in the absence of any other additional fears of persecution based on race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. However, as these judges suspect, when it’s non-female-specific body parts that get cut off based on your membership in a particular social group, US Immigration seems to think fear of persecution is indeed well-founded and meets their criteria.

It looks like some awesome judges are about to do away with the “Vulva Exception”. Which, in the defense of the Board of Immigration Appeals, I’m sure was based on totally non-misogynist, completely and coolly rational US policy, and probably had to do with terrorists and national security, and was therefore well-justified. I’d like to see that memo: CIA Warns DHS of National Security Risk Posed by Vulva-less, Mutilated Asylum Seekers.

Stay classy, Board of Immigration Appeals.

© idyllicmollusk 5/1/08

Cryptosporidium lives in the intestine of infected humans or animals. Millions of crypto parasites can be released in a bowel movement from an infected human or animal. Consequently, Cryptosporidium is found in soil, food, water, or surfaces that have been contaminated with infected human or animal feces.

The most common symptom of cryptosporidiosis is watery diarrhea.

A few years back, there was an outbreak of Crypto Sporidium in my Kansas hometown. Some infected kid shi.t in the town’s only public pool during a hot, hot summer. Within days we had an epidemic on our hands.

My friends and I laughed off the epidemic, congratulating ourselves on being too smart to go swimming in the public pool (due to an already solid reputation for being nasty).

After a few months, the epidemic took its course and everyone could safely forget that they had ever become acquainted with the term “Crypto Sporidium.”

That is, until last weekend, when during a fit of binge drinking with my newly married best friend, dark secrets that had remained buried for years rose to the surface. Here’s how it went down:

Setting: van full of drunk people, Dallas, ~11pm

S.Michael: mumble mumble mumble Crypto Sporidium mumble mumble….

Me (joking): S.Michael! You never told me you got Crypto Sporidium!

S.Michael (whipping his head around to look at his new wife): YOU WEREN’T SUPPOSED TO TELL THEM!

Me: I was joking. Wait a minute, you really had Crypto Sporidium?

S.Michael: (awkward silence)

Me: YOU DICK! Each bowel movement releases millions of parasites! All your friends could have got that off your toilet seat! I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU KEPT THIS SECRET FROM YOUR BEST FRIEND FOR FIVE YEARS.

It turns out that S.Michael and his future wife had clandestinely gone swimming in the public pool at the height of the epidemic. He claims that for the first week he innocently attributed the sudden uptick in bowel movements to the effects of unchecked binge drinking and that it wasn’t until the second week that he considered a connection between 1. Extreme diarrhea epidemic at public pool, 2. Taking a swim at said public pool, and 3. Experiencing extreme diarrhea immediately thereafter.

Be that as it may, this is no excuse for HIDING the fact that he had Crypto Sporidium at whichever point he realized it, as revealing his situation could have led to increased precautions on the part of his friends.

Crypto Sporidium may never have affected my intestines, but it has now infected my heart. I will never trust again.

© idyllicmollusk 4/25/08

You know how we Americans like to be telling African countries what to do all the time? Like: “Use this un-tested birth control and stop having black babies!” or “Globalize your financial markets despite rampant corruption in your financial industry.” How about “Be thankful that Shell is pillaging your land; at least now you have dirty and low-paying jobs!”

And then we tsk tsk at the nations of Africa when they bull-headedly refuse to take our sound and completely disinterested advice.

Well, what I’m about to say may be dangerous, as it suggests that maybe we don’t have all the answers to Africa’s problems.

I’m just going to say it: Africans may occasionally know what needs to be done to improve conditions on their own continent.

Check out this awesome Chicago Tribune article:

The strange saga of a rusty Chinese cargo ship packed with 77 tons of munitions appears to be marking a turning point in African states’ cozy relationship with the autocratic regime of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, experts say.

The vessel, the An Yue Jiang, was said to be wandering at sea on Tuesday after public outcries forced it to avoid the waters of South Africa, Mozambique and Angola, frustrating its efforts to deliver some 3 million rounds of Chinese ammunition, 1,500 rockets and 3,000 mortar shells to impoverished and landlocked Zimbabwe, where a post-election crisis is reported to be growing more violent by the day.

And

The loudest protest of all, however, has come from ordinary Africans and civil society, with trade unions, human-rights groups, churches and local media banding together to track the cargo ship’s murky travels around the shores of the continent.

Labor unions whose dock hands refused to unload the munitions in the South African port of Durban last week are asking co-workers in other countries to do the same. A pro-democracy group in Angola is staking out its harbors for any possible clandestine Chinese landfall.

Holla! Boo-yah Mugabe, you power-hungry dictator-ass human rights violator! Try oppressing your people now, without your 3 million rounds of Chinese ammunition. Better run and go look up “democracy” in a dictionary before people start dropping that word all over the place. Big ups, international solidarity of the common people! The US State Department can “express concerns” all it wants, but hell of a lot of good that did until dock workers and churches stepped up.

© idyllicmollusk 4/23/08

Oklahoma, long a pioneer of human rights and social justice, is poised to ratchet up another victory, this one for women’s rights.

In a bill recently sent to Governor Brad Henry for consideration, women are granted the freedom to move their eyes about as they wish, even at doctor’s appointments.

The bill SB 1878, which is a mishmash laundry list of restrictions on women’s ability to access abortion, includes a very explicit section regarding the direction of abortion-seeking women’s gazes. Section 12 details that women must be shown ultrasound pictures of their embryos and subjected to a detailed medical description of them prior to being allowed to have the medical procedure they have scheduled.

However, in an unprecedented burst of magnanimity, the OK Senate included Part C., which reads in part:

Nothing in this section shall be construed to prevent a pregnant woman from averting her eyes from the ultrasound images required to be provided to and reviewed with her.

Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in a resounding cry of “Victory!”

Let us hope that women take this new-found freedom in stride and behave in such a way that Oklahoma does not regret its sudden generosity. God-willing, women will learn what normal human beings already know: with great power comes great responsibility.

© idyllicmollusk 4/14/08

Every Day Is Take-Your-Guns-to-Work Day, at least in Florida

The Florida Senate just passed a very sensible measure, and it is awaiting the signature of Governor Charlie Crist. Pending approval, every worker in the state, with a few minor exceptions, can bring their guns to work every day. So long as they have a permit and leave them locked in their cars.

Though this seems to discriminate against gun-toting workers who do not own cars, a small oversight that I am sure Florida senators will hastily correct (perhaps they will mandate gun-lockers at all work places), this bill is the height of rational cost-benefit analysis.

It is imperative that if terrorists invade your Celebration, FL Pizza Hut, that you have the ability to leave, run out to your car, unlock it, grab your gun, run back in, and then kill all the terrorists.

Excited proponents of this law point out that it “upholds the vision of the authors of the U.S. Constitution” of every nanny, sales clerk and beautician armed to the teeth at work.

“The second thing they wrote about in that constitution was the right to bear arms,” said Sen. Durell Peaden, a Republican from Crestview, Florida. “It was what was dear in their hearts.”

This is, clearly, exactly the interpretation of the Second Amendment that our founding fathers had in mind.

Idiots, also known as libruls, point out:

The most common profile of a violent worker is a white male 25 to 50 years old, a loner with a history of violence and who has demonstrated a fascination with weapons.

or

Dozens of workplace shootings occur every year in the United States and studies have shown that job sites where guns are permitted are more likely to suffer workplace homicides than those where guns are prohibited.

Well, maybe they’d like it better if it was combined with one of their favorite work rituals, Take Your Daughter to Work Day: Have Your Daughter Take Your Guns to Work Day.

(c) idyllicmollusk 4/11/08

Slow news day? Not anymore! Today’s news round-up focuses on the endearing foibles of kooky Christians. Not to be mistaken for reasonable Christians, who greatly outnumber the kooks.

Fundamentalists Become Aware of the Existence of Other Religions, to Their Consternation

The actions of a Tennessee hotel have brought the existence of religions besides fundamentalist Christianity to the attention of Christian fundamentalists, and they are not pleased.

Hotel Preston offers guests a variety of religious texts to read during their stay, including two versions of the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Qur’an, the Torah, the Tao Te Ching, The Four Noble Truths of Buddhism and the Bhagavad Gita.

Instead of praise for acknowledging that many of their guests of faith are not Christian, Hotel Preston has received particularly harsh criticism for refusing to acknowledge the supremacy of one religion.

It has also been not-so-subtly suggested that they are ruining the world by offering believers of other religions the ability to read their own religious texts during their stays.

“The absence of Gideons Bibles from an increasing number of hotel rooms tells us something about the secularization, sexualization, and extreme sensitivities of our age,” Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, commented in his blog about hotels removing Bibles and adding other amenities.

Acknowledging and respecting the religions of non-Christians is making the world more sexual? Well, I’ll be. And let me say that I have my own opinion about who has “extreme sensitivities,” and it isn’t the Hindus.

Church Explodes: What Do You Think God Is Trying to Say Here?

Fill in the blank:

God sent Hurricane Katrina to punish New Orleans because it is a sin-loving city full of gambling and gays.

God kills US soldiers in Iraq because of America’s tolerance of homosexuality.

God blows up church in Wisconsin because _____________________________ .

I’m not sure what goes in the blank yet, but locals have some interesting thoughts:

“People say miracles don’t happen now days. I firmly believe they do, because one just did, at least in my life,” Deputy Fire Chief Glenn Leidel said.
Deputy Chief Leidel says he has reflected on what happened a lot in the two days since the blast, and he feels incredibly blessed.

Confused? So was I. It seems that Deputy Fire Chief Glenn Leidel feels the miracle isn’t that the church blew up, but that it didn’t kill him when it blew up.

Deputy Fire Chief Glenn Leidel, you silly, confused bastard, we all know that when something gets fucked up, it’s because God is angry at sinners! Most likely loose women and gays! I think congregants of the former Oconomowoc First Baptist Church need to do a little self-reflection to identify why God would blow up their church, and not, say, the Methodist one down the street. Good luck, guys. And God bless. Or not.

In Chile, Traditionally Women’s Spirituality Can Be Found in a Dirty Diaper

[In the late 70s] Pinochet blamed regional underdevelopment on under population (a result of the fertility regulation campaigns of the 1960s), and called to educate women about their “maternal mission.”“The spirituality of this mission is in the act of serving; in the humble function of the kitchen, of the woman who changes her child’s diaper,” he declared.

As part of this effort to encourage female “spirituality” (which, apparently, could be found in a child’s diaper), women seeking contraception were turned away at public clinics. Clinicians were even authorized to remove intrauterine devices (IUDs) without patient consent. Many women heard friends’ stories of IUD removal and became reluctant to visit public health clinics for any reason whatsoever, fearful that they would suffer the same fate and become pregnant with a child they could not support.

Pinochet’s “pro-natalist” plan was reversed six years later, after policymakers remembered why family planning had been introduced to Chile in the first place.

Sooooo…. Chile’s constitutional court just banned emergency contraception in government health clinics! Whoo-yeah. This very Catholic country that somehow elected an atheist single-mother as president has finally seen enough. They have seen enough of President Bachelet’s extending of reproductive rights to Chile’s women. And they are tired of it. Tired of empowered women, tired of lowered abortion rates, tired of plummeting maternal mortality. How can women live out their maternal mission, let alone be spiritual people, if they are not changing the diapers of a quick procession of unwanted infants?

Answer: They can’t. And now Chile’s court has taken the country an important step forward to ensure that more women become pregnant as a result of rape or failed birth control.

© idyllicmollusk 4/9/08

I am intimately familiar with the Angry White Man(1), and I have been inspired by Gary Hubbell to lend a voice to this forgotten and silenced voting bloc(2). The Angry White Man is, as Gary so truthily puts it, “almost in fear of losing [his] constitutional rights through political correctness”.

This election, we have the historic opportunity to elect a white man as President of the United States. Yet, for troubling reasons, many Americans are paying serious attention to two sinister and power-hungry candidates who aren’t white men and who have succeeded in warping what this process is all about.

These candidates make all the special interest groups swoon. Their very presence this 2008 primary season has led to nation-wide discussions on race and gender, while putting real issues that affect real people on the back-burner. Employment discrimination, racial profiling, and unequal representation in government don’t affect real people. On the other hand, killing Muslims, protecting microscopic Americans, keeping out illegals, preserving the sanctity of marriage and ending entitlement programs (which in contrast have nothing to do with race and gender) are issues that real people want to see out in the forefront.

If all this victimhood special interest crap stays in the liberal media for too long, next thing you know transgendered and disabled people are going to want rights too. And then dogs and next earth worms. Where are these rights going to come from? Why, they are going to be taken away from the Angry White Man and handed on a silver platter to fringe freaks such as these. Good thing he has a gun to defend himself.

Mind you, the Angry White Man is not a racist, chauvinist, homophobe or whathaveyou, but the phrase “marginalized community” (code for victimhood-identity-politics-mongerers) makes him want to run to the bathroom to vomit.

HELLO, America is a Meritocracy, where all people are judged solely on their skills and abilities! And treated accordingly! The AMW is colorblind, as are all of America’s beloved institutions. Any suggestion that they are not is unpatriotic and makes the AMW apoplectic. The facts that black infant mortality is over twice that of white infants, that women get paid 3/4 of what men do though they work longer each day, that chronic diseases affect minorities disproportionately, that gay students are 4 times more likely to attempt suicide, just prove what the Angry White Man is saying. Women and minorities, having less experience with the responsibilities of full citizenship than Angry White Men, don’t know how to behave appropriately. And when they screw their lives up, as data shows they inevitably will, they will come to him, begging at his door for more hand-outs.

When the Angry White Man treats their begging for handouts with disdain, he is judging them based not on prejudice, but on their merit (or lack thereof): inability to be born Angry White Men. Our country offers a level playing field to all its citizens, and it seems that certain groups want to tip the balance in their favor by changing the rules. The AWM staunchly supports the status quo as the only way to keep the game fair.

The AWM is personally unfamiliar with hand-outs and entitlements, because everything he has earned he earned alone, by the sweat of his own brow. He had no extra leg up, though historically speaking his kind have always had political, social and economic power, because history means nothing to him. Being fair-minded, the AWM does not care what your history is, only that you live up to his expectation that you behave just like him in order to be treated equally.

The Angry White Man is concerned that confused voters will miss this opportunity to vote for an AWM President like John McCain without realizing that we have only had 43 white male presidents! We haven’t even had 50 white male presidents, and yet here are voters seriously considering electing a black man or a white woman. Next thing you know, voters indoctrinated with affirmative-action-electioneering hogwash will go and vote in a black woman president. Just what we need, a Black Power matriarchy. And then who will be thinking of the white men? This once mighty demographic will languish in the background of a madhouse run not by people, but by minority special interest cartels.

(1) I do not intend to single only men out for my razor-sharp humor. I apologize to anyone who is upset that ‘Pumpkin Balls’ is so closely followed by this piece. In fact, neither piece is intended to satirize all men, but instead a small subset thereof. I will turn to other topics in the future, do not worry.

(2) Unapologetic Mexican does an amazing send up (take down?) of Gary’s piece.

(c) idyllicmollusk 4/7/08

Ladies and gentlemen, we have a healthcare issue in this country that has received no media attention, and yet so obviously affects a number of our citizens that I would feel negligent not to use this forum and speak up now. I refer, of course, to Pumpkin Balls.

If you don’t understand this medical terminology, perhaps a description will help. This horrible deformity seems to primarily affect the genitals of men who use public transportation, ride on airplanes, and who are high school or college students. The unfortunate sufferers, due to what must be painfully large swelling in their private regions, are forced to sit in public situations with their legs splayed as wide apart as possible.

On buses, subways, airplanes and in the classroom, any lay person will observe the frequent presence of Pumpkin Balls victims by their uncomfortable sitting posture. That health officials have failed to take action should be a national scandal.

Because Pumpkin Balls victims are not alone in their suffering. Oh no. Tragically, they are forced to pass on their suffering to all those that by chance sit next to them. A position that so blatantly draws attention to the groin would only be chosen by the sufferer out of necessity, but all those around him are now confronted with a most unwelcome view. Further, the amount of space required for the splayed legs of the sufferer is nearly twice that of a healthy person, requiring him to invade the space of others, which especially for nearby women often includes a surprising amount of leg-on-leg rubbing. The pain of the swelling is so great that Pumpkin Balls victims are immune to all social cues that invasion of space and leg-rubbing are unwelcome.

Some individuals lacking sympathy have come up with insensitive strategies to deal with Pumpkin Balls victims. They include:

“The Pointy Elbow”: Sitting with elbows akimbo, perhaps reading, and ’unwittingly’ jabbing at sufferers until they move.
“The Wiggly Foot”: One’s feet wiggle seemingly uncontrollably. They just wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, tapping into everything in their range willy-nilly over and over again, including sufferers.
“The Knocking Knees”: Every sway of the vehicle of transportation leads to unusually violent swinging of the knees, causing them to repeatedly and with force knock into the knees of the sufferer.

These are just the most prevalent of the appalling strategies healthy people are using against Pumpkin Balls victims, and all because a lack of information and public awareness. We can no longer claim ignorance. I have spoken up on behalf of Pumpkin Balls, and I call upon all readers of this article to spread awareness until we find a cure for this unsightly deformity.

(Thank you to the feministing.com commentator who introduced me to the phrase “Pumpkin Balls.”)

(c) idyllicmollusk 4/3/08

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