Wednesday, February 25, 2009

What, No Suitable Fried Chicken Joke?!

Dean Grose, the mayor of Los Alamitos, CA, sent out an e-mail with the subject, "No Easter Egg Hunt This Year." Said e-mail included a picture of what the alternative celebration would be:

A watermelon hunt!! Get it?

Keyanus Price, a local black businesswoman who received the e-mail, called Grose out on his racism and demanded an apology. I'll bet you can guess what he said, right?

He don't know nothin' bout no racism! From the article linked above:
[Grose] said he was unaware of the racial stereotype that black people like watermelons.
As Renee said, maybe it was accidental that he chose watermelons instead of pumpkins or something.

His response was full of other tired lines, too. He waxed unpoetically about his lack of intent to offend. Then there was,
"Bottom line is, we laugh at things and I didn't see this in the same light that she did," Grose told the AP.
That translates, roughly, to either "She's too sensitive!" or "She was looking to be offended!" And
"It wasn't sent to offend her personally—or anyone—from the standpoint of the African-American race,"
, which read to me like, "I know the singular, monolithic standpoint of the African American race and this wasn't offensive. Why, pretty soon, I'll pull out my black friend who wasn't the least offended by it!"

Anything but a true apology and an acknowledgement of his racism.

H/T Renee

Monday, February 23, 2009

Too Cute to Correct

Tonight my son asked me, "If you had to choose another career, what would you do?"

"Probably be an event planner. I don't know," I said, then didn't think anymore about it.

A little while ago, I fixed a snack--we wanted chocolate, but, alas, our cupboards are bare of that particular treat. So, I decided to put a thin layer of peanut butter on shortbread cookies. He loved it.

When he said good night, he reminded me once again how much he liked our "new" snack:

"No wonder you want to be an invent planner," he said, "You invent the best stuff!"

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

I Try Not to Talk Too Much about My Job...

But, oh my God y'all, I just heard one of my (male) co-workers tell a female student that she got points off an exam because part of what she wrote was "too feminist for today."

Life in post-sexist academia...

Getting 'em While They're Young

This picture has little to do with this post, beyond the theme of how our kids are taught what is gender appropriate at a young age--I found these shoes (excuse me, these HIGH-HEELED BOOTS!!!) in the girl's dept when I was shopping for my goddaughter. She's a six-year-old first-grader.

As a parent, I have decided on many occasions, that the patriarchy is out to do my efforts and my child in. The most recent realization occurred on Valentine's Day.

My son has a "girlfriend" back in Louisiana for whom he wanted to buy something for Valentine's Day and have it delivered to the school on February 13. He told me this the afternoon of February 13. He moped and whined for a while until I snapped, "She wasn't able to get you anything, so both of you can forgive each other!"

At which point, he informed me, "Valentine's Day is for girls!"

"Why," I asked, "is Valentine's Day for girls? What does that mean? Who told you that?"

"Girls are the ones who care about that stuff," was the only substantial answer I could get.

Silly, sentimental, emotive girls care about that stuff.

So, we talked for a bit, but I was still left with the, "Where does he get this stuff?" feeling.

I got a partial answer the next morning. We were up early and he turned the T.V. on to the Disney Channel. Mickey Mouse Clubhouse was on and I made him leave it there because I love the "Hot dog, hot dog, hot diggity dog" song they sing when the problem is solved. Don't ask, I just do.

Now Mickey Mouse Clubhouse is a show for pre-schoolers. As such, it teaches colors, shapes, numbers, and letters. As an added bonus, it teaches gender roles!

Anyway, the episode was, "A Surprise for Minnie." Mickey had forgotten Valentine's Day and was trying to hurriedly make a card for Minnie (seeing as how Valentine's Day is for girls and all). Mickey got his card done, but poor, clueless Donald still had no gift for Daisy. Daisy prompts and prompts, but Donald is still lost. Daisy stomps off with her arms crossed.

Mickey appears in the corner of the screen to tell us, "Uh-oh. Daisy's gonna be so sad if Donald forgot her Valentine's Day gift." Then Mickey calls upon pre-schoolers to save Donald's fat from the fire! They use the last mousekatool, a piece of ribbon, to fashion a bow for Daisy. Upon seeing the bow, she goes into full, eyelash-fluttering, soft-voiced forgiveness mode. Donald whispers a grateful, "Thanks, guys."

Valentine's Day: negligible nuisance for men, holy holiday for women. As I was typing this post and re-watching the episode, I asked my son, "So what does that episode make you think?"

"That it matters to girls, but it doesn't matter to guys."

"And why do you think it matters to girls?"

"Because they like that kind of stuff, bows and hearts and stuff."

My dejected slump of the shoulders did not go unnoticed. He said, "It matters to me."

"Why?" I asked.

"Because you can show people how you feel about them. And you can show them respect and that you care about their feelings."

I have to teach him, of course, that you don't have to wait for an over-commercialized holiday to do those things. But I'd be lying if I said his words didn't make me feel a little better.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Why My Radio Is Usually Off

Monday evening, on my way home, I decided to turn on the radio. I caught the recap of a local morning show, one of those, "If you didn't tune into us this morning, here's what you missed," sort of spots. In any case, the topic of the show that morning had been Nadya Suleman, and the show's hosts apparently continued the hateful, derogatory talk that has surrounded Suleman and her children.

The main host wanted people to call and weigh in on the fact that Suleman's medical bill was being turned over to California's medicaid/state health insurance plan.* There is, of course, no grounds for debate on such a topic, just a chance for people to call in to rant about people "who-have-babies-and-expect-us-to-take-care-of-them!!!" You'd think that topic was old--we've been hearing it for decades now, right?

Anyway, during the course of the show, the host interrupted one of the co-host's proclamation of how sad the situation is, to mimic Bob Barker/Drew Carey and remind people to have their cats and dogs spayed or neutered. The co-hosts immediately collapsed into laughter.

How hilarious-- Likening a woman to a pet and "humorously" recommending sterilization.

And the station thought it was funny enough to showcase it as a highlight.

I drafted a letter that I plan to fax this morning, then mail. Despite the words I managed to cobble together, I still feel that I just don't know what to say.

*The frenzy surrounding Nadya Suleman has demonstrated, like nothing else since the debates on "reforming" welfare in the 1990s, our national obsession over who "should" be a mother and who is "deserving" of assistance.

Monday, February 16, 2009

(Not) Taken

I'd heard much ado about Taken. My friend Tasha invited me to see it this past weekend. "You'll like it, I promise. It stays busy!"

So I texted my sister, who'd seen it. "Go," she sent back, "Even you can watch it. Not very long and very good."

Promises that "it stays busy" and "even you can watch it" are needed because, while I love action movies, I'm not a big suspense fan. I always say my nerves can't handle it. I say that a lot--I need to quit blaming my nerves and find out why some stuff just bothers me disproportionately. Anyway, long, suspenseful movies irk me.

So I saw it. A cute girl asks you, your sister recommends it, what can you do? :-)

Rather than give a synopsis, how about I offer an analysis of some of the characters with lots of exclamation points? Spoilers below.

Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson): A poor, pitiful father who is kept from having a meaningful relationship with his daughter, Kim, because of her uppity bitch of a mother, Lenore. Really, the distance between Kim and him is only partially because of his past government job which kept him from being around. Hey, he never missed a birthday and he had to sacrifice for his country!!!!

Lenore (Famke Janssen): In short, the ex-wife of every MRA. She snaps. She belittles. She's possibly a golddigger. She doesn't even want Bryan at Kim's birthday party (she wants to erase him from her daughter's life) and scoffs at his gift of a karaoke machine. But Bryan is on point; despite the fact that Lenore was a virtual single mother and still is the custodial parent, it's Bryan who knows Kim's true heart, a heart that desires to be a singer!!!!

Lenore doesn't even understand Bryan's manly need to protect. She wants her not-very-mature (see below) 17-year-old daughter to hop across Europe following U-2 (that was so unbelievable to me. Maybe it's a rich people thing?) and thinks Bryan is paranoid and controlling.

Kim (Maggie Grace): A 17-year-old. She still giggles, jumps up and down a lot, and is mega-excited over getting a pony!!!! for her birthday!!!! Why, yes I did say 17, not seven.

Jean-Claude: A typical French man. Bryan thought he was a friend, but really he's an enemy. There's a new angle.

Eastern Europeans (various actors): Shady characters who traffic in women. You know they're the bad guys because they sweat a lot, their hair is greasy, and their eyes shift. And they've had the nerve to "progress" from trafficking in eastern European women to grabbing western white women!!!!

Virginity: The thing that Kim has (she's certified pure!!!!) that keeps her from immediately meeting the fate of all the other "besmirched" girls and makes her worth more than they. While Daddy's racing against time to prevent her permanent disappearance, it's clear that he's racing to prevent the disappearance of that particular "prize" as well. I've been thinking since I saw it, "Is that what those promises at purity balls are about?"

Sheik Raman (Nabil Massad): Your standard Middle Eastern enemy. This character made me think of Bill Napoli's comment about what he thought would "really" be a horrible rape. It's as if the facts that Kim could be trafficked, forcibly addicted to drugs, and raped were not enough. I guess the writer was savvy enough to know that people always look for what women do to invite/"increase their chances" of being raped--and Kim (and Lenore) could be blamed for lying about the nature of her trip and resisting her father's warnings. I mean, Amanda did lie about her cousins' whereabouts and look what happened to her!

Casting Sheik Raman as the rapist might tug the heartstrings of those who would say, "Really, she got herself into this" because the potential perpetrator is a fat! brown! enemy. Now, that would be a horrible rape.

Now, the movie was action-packed. I can't say I was bored. But the overarching, "Father Knows Best"/"I Told You So, Lenore" theme was a bit much for me.
Revelations and ruminations from one southern sistorian...