Instead of jail, maybe Blagojevich should be sentenced to wash his mouth out with soap.

If you've been following the Blagojevich scandal, you may have already seen this interview, or clips of it on cable news:

It's a long clip, and I'm not going to go into detail about all the extremely arrogant statements he makes (did he really just compare himself to Mandela, King, and Gandhi?), but check out what he says about three minutes into the clip:
"If you can hear the whole story, I think the whole story will tell a story of a governor who's on the side of the people, who takes on powerful interests, expresses frustration, and uses some language that, frankly, had I known somebody was listening, I wouldn't use, and I'll point out, when some of that language was used, there were no women on the phone" (emphasis mine).
Seriously? Does he really think he's on trial for using bad language? And as for his defense that there were no women on the phone, WTF? (Make no mistake, by the way-- I have just as much of a foul mouth as Blago. I'm just using the acronym to avoid offending you ladies.) Remind me again, what century is this?


Mmmm, sexy food

I was watching TV at a friend's house tonight when I saw this ad:

I know this is meant to be funny, but it just left me wondering, why is there only one female M&M cartoon, and why is she always presented in such a sexual way? I know sex sells, but would it hurt to even things out and have a sexy male M&M? Or a funny, normal female M&M? And does anyone else find sexually anthropomorphized (or, I guess I should say, gynecomorphized) food somewhat disturbing? Is there anything the female body isn't used to sell?


Passing the Gauntlet

I've been meaning to write this post for around a week now, but I simply haven't had the time or, strangely, the drive. I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to drive across the country and stand with 2 million other people on a day that was literally freezing and watch the 44th president being sworn in. I wanted to communicate the importance that day and that trip had for me, because I feel that as feminists we are called to be politically active on behalf of equality for all. Today, I received an email from an ex-aunt who I have always looked up to. My mother forwarded my mass family email about the inauguration to her, and she felt moved to contact me regarding my involvement. I'd never talked politically with my aunt Carol, and that side of the family has a tendency to be incredibly conservatively Catholic so I was more than a little nervous about what her response would be. Instead of the telling-to I was expecting, I found a brief but poignant email expressing her thanks for my political involvement in my country. As a young woman in the 70's, she was incredibly active in the feminist movement and considers herself lucky to have had the opportunity. She closed by telling me, "Taking action is the only way to show real patriotism and to ensure that our democratic system does not disappear." She is completely right. Like so many others, I felt myself swept up in the tide of the Obamanation excitement, and I quickly felt the anger I had held inside toward our government for the last eight years dissipating. It was an incredible feeling, to listen to the Flobots, "Still Waiting" by Sum41 or "American Idiot" by Greenday and not be filled with righteous anger towards my president and the government allowing him to strip me of my civil liberties and kill innocent civilians in a useless war. I felt liberated. I rejoiced when I heard him promise to close Gitmo within the year, and I almost cried while reading his memorandum to the heads of the executive agencies regarding the Freedom of Information Act and how he expected them to abide by it and utilize new technology to make governmental information more readily accessible for the public. But, I am starting to realize, we shouldn't only become active because he is asking us to. Barack Obama is only one man, and he has the hopes and dreams of everyone who voted for him on his shoulders. With that many expectations, it seems he is bound, inevitably, to fail. But we, the people, are not. Each of us, as an individual, has only ourselves to answer to. President Barack Obama has called each of us to action, I think, because he recognizes this in his presidency. He has so many issues that he has pledged to solve with a bipartisan approach that it would be impossible for him to create all of the radical changes we rallied around when we elected him the next president. We must pick up the gauntlet that has been passed to us and remember the women who came before our time, who are now counting on us not to let our sisters (and brothers) in the struggle down.

With that in mind, I also don't think its a problem to recount the fabulosity (yes, I just made that up, I hope that's ok with ya'll) of the inauguration itself. I was really lucky to be with a group of people who also appreciated the historical significance of our route to the capitol, so we stopped in Little Rock at Little Rock Central High School and in Memphis at the Lorraine Motel. Those two stops, and spending MLK day next to the Reflection Pool at the capitol really help drive the importance of Barack Obama's inauguration home. That night we caught "Look Who's Coming to Dinner" with Sidney Poitier, and in it he says that his white fiance believes that one day their mixed-race children could be president, and I really felt like the entire experience was complete.

It wasn't all serious contemplation, however. There was the 2 million plus crowd on the national mall dancing to Garth Brooks singing "Shout" as the sun came up that morning, and the walk to Virginia that we took along with thousands of others due to closed metro stations to lighten the mood. And, in a crowd of millions crammed into spaces never meant to hold those numbers, there was the excitement and positivity that refused to turn to mob madness or frustrated anger that continually reinforced the good vibes infusing this administration.

I'm going to try to add some pictures if I can. Wish me luck!


The Big V.

There's a good three weeks to go until Valentine's Day, but since it always has a sneaky way of creeping up on me, I've decided to take the confrontational approach. My perception of this day seems to change every year. Last year? I was a willing participant. The year before that? Inconsolably cynical about the whole disgusting, consumerist charade. And now? Well, I'm not quite sure.

Since I was in elementary school, my parents have always made sure I felt loved on this day, gifting me chocolates and a card signed "XOXO, Love Mom and Dad". Though they're divorced now, I still get separate cards and candy from both of them, which even at the more cynical age of nineteen still makes me smile. As I came to know Valentine's Day as just a day to tell someone you love them, no matter what kind of love that may be, that all changed as I grew older. The proverbial "V-Day" soon evolved into a holiday sacred to those who held romantic love between them. As I longed for my first kiss and my first boyfriend, I (as any girl would in my situation) began to feel left out of what now seemed to be an integral part of enjoying this holiday: having a lover, a partner. Chocolates from my parents just added insult to injury.

To rationalize my non-participant status that plagued me year after year, I quickly renounced the practice of Valentine's Day. Created by Hallmark! Fueled by capitalism! Designed to make us feel terrible about single selves! After all, I am a strong feminist woman, and I don't need no man... right? Yeah. That didn't last long. No matter how I tried, it was still in vain. After all, Valentine's Day will probably never go away, which made trying to renounce it somewhat of an exercise in futility. And so what if chocolate-covered strawberries fuel the capitalist machine? I still wanted them- they taste good!

In any case, I don't think we should blame Valentine's Day for all the trouble it may cause us. Like many things originally good, it's simply become misinterpreted and polluted over time. So I've decided to just take it back, and make it my own. A day to eat ice cream in bed alone with my dog, a day to bake cookies for all my friends and watch terrible romantic comedies, a day to be glad I don't need diamonds or a boyfriend---

For what I need, and have, is love. In any way, shape, or form it happens to take.


"The facts were these": the empowerment of women (and men) in Pushing Daisies

When you think of portrayals of women on television, what comes to mind? I'd bet you picture scantily-clad, shockingly promiscuous, terribly cast vixens. Sex sells, and nobody knows this better than film and TV industry fat cats. Put a piece of flesh in front of America, and you'll have 'em banging down your door.

But there's at least one show that treats women as more than the sum of their parts: Pushing Daisies. The series, created by the visionary Bryan Fuller, is now in its second season. It depicts its female characters as strong, compassionate, independent, and good-natured. And now ABC has decided to cancel it.

For the uninitiated, here's the very least you need to know: In this romantic comedy/fantasy/detective drama, Ned, a shy, kindhearted pie maker (played by the amazingly talented Lee Pace) has a gift. He can bring the dead back to life with a single touch of his hand. But there are two catches. If he touches that formerly deceased person a second time, they will return to their posthumous state forever. If he should leave a person alive for more than a minute, however, someone else will die in their place. Enter private investigator Emerson Cod (played by the very entertaining Chi McBride). He discovers Ned's ability, and employs him to revive murder victims in order to find their killers and collect the reward money. One such victim turns out to be lonely tourist Charlotte "Chuck" Charles (played by the gorgeous, skillful British actress Anna Friel). She was Ned's childhood friend and first kiss, and hasn't seen him since. Upon waking her, Ned realizes that he has feelings for her, and so keeps her alive indefinitely. The two fall in love, becoming the sweetest, most charming fictitious couple to hit the small screen in decades. This turn of events takes place much to the chagrin of Ned's co-worker and secret admirer, Olive Snook (the delightful Kristin Chenoweth of Wicked fame), who is made to believe that Chuck faked her own death. Of course, despite their increasingly intense love for each other, Ned and Chuck can never touch. Every episode follows a different whimsical, often themed, murder mystery case, while simultaneously developing the characters' relationships with each other and expanding on their personal stories.

Aside from this show's many other admirable qualities, it is one of the most groundbreaking programs in years, in terms of gender issues. Our heroine, Chuck, is not a desperate housewife, nor a desperate anything for that matter. She is independent, smart, courageous, inquisitive, and vibrant, refreshingly far from the traditional wilting violet of yesteryear, yet maintaining the elegance of the classic ingenue. As evidence of her liberated womanhood, she has absolutely no qualms about bearing a traditionally male nickname. And, yes, she can be all of these things while still maintaining her role as hopeless romantic, and without stooping to promiscuity or indecency. Olive's character also breaks traditional gender stereotypes. She is determined, vivacious, and eager. She was a jockey for several years, entering into a sport generally considered an "old boy's club" and "the sport of kings". And without being even the slightest bit risqué, she is not afraid to assert her sexuality and sensuality. Her love for Ned, one could argue, may possibly be even deeper than Chuck's, and yet, she gracefully steps aside. She can also belt out a song when the mood strikes her, and there's nothing more liberating than that.

The fellas (such as yours truly) can also look to this show for good examples of authentic masculinity defying antique boundaries. Ned, our protagonist, is sweet, gentle, kind, caring, sensitive, and (dare I say it?) adorable. He's secure enough in his "maleness" to be himself, which includes making pies. Yes, contrary to popular belief, anyone can enjoy the wonders of pie.  None of this impedes his debonair abilities to sweep his lady love off her feet. Equally notable is Emerson Cod's case. He presents himself as a strong, no-nonsense crime-fighter, but privately loves to knit and has unresolved issues with his long-lost daughter. Guys in America need to be reminded that masculinity, just like femininity, is not found in mere conformity to an arbitrary set of social norms. And this show attempts, through the efforts of its amazing creator, to do just that.

Any discussion of gender roles and Pushing Daisies would be tragically incomplete without at least a brief mention of Chuck's aunts Vivian and Lily (played by those great and venerable stars of stage and screen, Ellen Greene and Swoosie Kurtz, respectively). They are former synchronized swimmers, who once formed a duo known as The Darling Mermaid Darlings. The share a love for fine cheese, and a sadness for their niece's presumed passing. Lily in particular refuses to be bogged down by stereotypes; she tends to enjoy shooting trespassers and other shady characters with her trusty rifle, for example. Both aunts are strong women, though crippled by a social disorder, who accept that they cannot be what society wants them to be, but only who they truly are. 

We can all take lessons from this brilliant show. Though our genders are a significant part of who we are, we shouldn't let artificial constructs and stereotypes prevent us from living our lives as we see fit and being the people we truly must be.

With all that in mind, I think ABC's decision is outrageously stupid. And that's all I have to say about that.

Indulge your obsession (or cultivate a new one, so that you too can join in the sadness of PD's cancellation):