I haven’t written in a while mostly due to what I might euphemistically call a re-examination of my writing career. On a happier note, I’m a mother now to a wonderful 5 month old girl, Jessica. Parenting is just as great as everyone says. I don’t think the word “love” even captures the way I feel about Jessica.
For years, people with kids have been throwing back at me, “You’re not a parent, so you can’t possibly understand.” I’m here to say that now I have a kid, too, and I still don’t understand whatever crazy, stupid or whatever thing they did. I’m still the same person with the same sensibilities. I also still agree with whichever comedian (I can’t remember if it was Bill Maher) in that one doesn’t have to have kids to make a judgment call. He said that he didn’t have a goldfish, either, but would know not to fill its bowl with Pepsi.
So now that I’ve passed a human being out of my body and am learning parenthood on the job, let me tell the parents in question that I still call foul on the things I criticized, such as putting a leash on your toddler or relenting to your kid’s demand for an all junk-food diet. I still think you’re wrong.
Besides, other parents, there will always be some difference between us that you will throw back at me, such as, “Sarah, you only have one kid– you can’t possibly know what it’s like to have eight” or, “Sarah, you only have a girl, you couldn’t possibly know what it’s like to have a boy” to replace your earlier damnation that I’m not a parent, so I couldn’t possibly understand. I’ll never be enough, right?
I have nothing really interesting to say about having attended the Reason Rally (I’m sure everything has already been said by people much better than me), but I wanted to air something that kinda bugged me on a completely different topic.
I came across the book, The IT Girl’s Guide to Becoming an Excel Diva. I sarcastically thought to myself, “I bet this has to do with buying designer shoes,” and son of a bitch, it did, according to the copy on the back.
I know this isn’t the worst thing in the world, but I found it pretty offensive that female stereotypes are perpetuated like this, especially in this day and age. The stereotype goes that women have a very finite and shallow set of interests, especially expensive ones like fashion and especially shoes. It’s something you see fairly often. You’d think it’s offensive enough not to get past the publisher.
I complained to my BFF Karl, who is a man and, while I wouldn’t really call him a feminist, is all-in-all very modern thinking when it comes to sexism. His response was that since there really are women like the book was describing, it wasn’t offensive. After all, the market is only supplying the demand.
True enough, but I still thought that perpetuation of such sexism crossed a line. Suppose that the book was selling racism, not sexism and you’ll better see my point of view. Can you imagine a book called, let’s say, “Excel for Cool Blacks”? What if its copy was about bling and rap music? See what I mean?
What do youse think?
In light of the Occupy Wall Street movement, I got to thinking about the book The Devil Wears Prada and the movie based on it. As is often the case, the book was much better than the movie.
Maybe this is sour grapes, but I say as both a writer and a reader that the book’s ending was weak. (Spoiler alert) The main character, Andy, finally tells her boss, the monstrous and superficial fashion magazine editor, “Fuck you” and that was pretty much it. The movie’s ending was, alas, even weaker, with the editor getting humanized through a divorce, which did nothing to add interest to her character as a villain IMHO, and in the end being a positive force in Andy’s life.
Here is an ending that I think would have been more satisfying.
I would have had Andy tell off her boss *good and proper,* not just a simple “fuck you.” Since everyone in the industry hates Miranda the editor so much, Andy could have gotten any magazine job she wanted, and Miranda’s enemies would bring down Miranda’s editorship. How the mighty have fallen! Now she has to get a low-paying, entry level job and gets a taste of her own medicine. Or perhaps she could do a 180 and join the Peace Corps.
I don’t know why we dwell on bad things, but we do. We just do. Maybe because they’re interesting. Maybe because we want to make sure they never happen again. As much as I’ve read on the tragedy (I haven’t written much about it), one thing I always think is: we were stupid.
According to an airport employee who checked in a couple of the terrorists, he said that they looked “like terrorists.” In the interest of not alienating passengers, he didn’t do anything about it.
The pilots in flight school didn’t seem interested in learning how to land, and we didn’t catch on.
All the terrorists, based on what I read, paid for their tickets in cash, and bought one-way tickets. These were warning signs and we still didn’t catch on.
It shouldn’t have helped that these men were clearly Muslim. Percentage-wise, many terrorists are/were Muslim (not all. I’m alert enough to know that). I’m just saying that put all those things together and alarm bells should have gone off.
Sure, hindsight is 20/20, but we were stupid.
Every year on my blog, I reference All European Life Died in Auschwitz, from a Spanish journalist, which was one of the factors that pushed me into thinking that, yes, Islam itself is a problem. (Not to say all Muslims are “bad,” but it’s the whole gestalt.) Every year, the article moves me, even though I know not all my friends agree with the sentiment, and I keep repeating the last line to myself: “What a terrible mistake was made by miserable Europe.”
He’s walking in the middle of the sidewalk, completely clogging it so that you can’t get around him. No, he’s not five feet wide. He’s just a dad.
The double-wide stroller, the scaled-down SUV of parents who have a case of conspicuous consumption, didn’t exist when I was a kid. Is it because people spaced their pregnancies more, or did they have fewer twins due to today’s fertility treatments, or did they make kids who knew how to walk do so? Those were the days.
Parents with double-wide strollers tend to not obey pedestrian traffic rules. Clogging the middle of the sidewalk, rather than on the right– or worse yet, on the left, strolling against you– they are oblivious of the annoyance they cause the rest of us. Sometimes they are trailing small children, exacerbating the problem. And guess what: they assume that you will get out of their way to accommodate their parenthood. That’s just rude on their behalf.
There have been a couple of times when I’ve politely reminded such folks (as well as old people, but that’s a different story) to walk on the right. I shouldn’t have to remind them.
And it doesn’t stop on the sidewalk. It occurred to me once while in a small sushi bar that if a parent were to bring in a double-wide stroller (as opposed to a standard one), it would completely block traffic in the restaurant, forcing diners and staff to do some heavy side-stepping in the obstacle course. Now, a restaurant need not be tiny for this to be a problem. but wait staff really do need to walk around quite a bit, with loaded trays, and a big obstacle and tripping hazard, they don’t need.
I can make a concession. I realize that there are harried parents doing eight things at once and maybe they are oblivious to pedestrian traffic. It would help, though, if they needed a stroller to carry two kids, to simply use the in-line model. They don’t have to impose on us if they don’t want to.
Tangentially, I find the trend of parents putting children in strollers who are much too big to be in a stroller a little disturbing. I’ve seen such kids who are so big that their feet scraped the ground in the stroller. Parents, these kids are old enough to walk. Don’t treat them like cripples.
Try mentioning the double-wide annoyance to an enthusiast and you will probably get the business. They may refuse to address the fact that they walk in the wrong part of the sidewalk, but will probably act like their owning the monstrosity of a vehicle is in the Bill of Rights. “If I want to bring a stroller into a restaurant, that’s my right as a parent!” They will likely say that society should bend the rules to accommodate parents– which it often does– at the expense of other people. Entitled, entitled, entitled.
Double-wide stroller parents usually take such criticism as an attack on parents and on children. Yep, I sure hate children, all right. That’s not true. I love children. I’m just annoyed (or in more serious cases, fucking scared) at the way parents choose their parenting decisions.
“How dare you question my double-wide stroller! You’re not a parent! You can’t understand! You hate children!”
Take a bite out of a reality sandwich, parents.
If you have two babies or young toddlers, you can put them in an in-line stroller. If you must have a double-wide, obey the rules of traffic. Not that hard, right? You don’t have to annoy. You choose to.
A while back I wrote about How Religious Conservatives Want Their Daughters to Dress. I found a video on the Friendly Atheist blog that was so begging to be mocked, I decided I had to write a post mocking it.
Yes, folks, cleavage and showing some thigh are so tragic that Christians feel the need to play sad music and speak tearfully in this video. To their credit, they’re not telling girls and women what to do, so much as trying to convince them.
OK, I don’t know where to begin responding to this, but let’s start by saying that I can’t imagine, showing my stomach or not, that I’ve ever caused “a hundred and one men to devour me in their minds.” I’m not really judging my own appearance here, just the likelihood that men would “sin” (does that mean masturbation, or just lusting?) over such a trivial event. Showing “even a little bit of stomach”? C’mon.
It is interesting that Christian women and girls often wear provocative clothing because it is fashionable. Kevin Roose reported this in Unlikely Disciple. If Christian women wanted to dress modestly, wouldn’t they simply do so, regardless of fashion?
What can Christian men do about the “minefield” of girls and women who aren’t Xian/religious, and hence aren’t obligated to the request to not dress slutty (tongue in cheek)? All those Jewish gals who don’t need to listen to your sermon are still in your field of vision, fellahs!
Let me just say this about sexy clothes, whatever those may be. It’d be hard to find a boyfriend/partner if a woman looked frumpy. I can’t imagine wearing a potato sack and then wondering why I wasn’t meeting the right guy. Right or wrong, men do respond to the way women look, and hiding a womanly figure doesn’t help. I’m not advocating that we dress up like Playboy Bunnies, but there’s a healthy medium someplace. Besides, I feel better about myself when I look good (or in my case, more accurately, look presentable).
The pastor applauds the woman who elected to not buy a sexy shirt. She made the decision to not cripple men with lust. Yep, she spared the spiritual lives of perhaps thousands of men, or however many would see her wear it over the course of the shirt’s lifetime. At least she didn’t ask her dad to screen her wardrobe, as per the pastor’s advice (now there’s an awkward conversation. “Dad, does this show too much cleavage?”). Still, it seems egomaniacal to say, “I can’t wear this shirt. It’ll distract the men. I’m just that hot.” Even if it’s true in her case.
Should this video say it’s only aimed at attractive women? What about unattractive women? I can smell a lot of mean people saying, “This doesn’t apply to you unless you’re hot. Otherwise, we’re not looking, anyway.” I guess with homeliness comes freedom. Wouldn’t the pastor applaud women who are ugly, and encourage uglification, so as to deter men’s lust? By his logic, I don’t see why not.
I can’t help but ask: Can men dress sexy and cripple Xian women with lust? I’m not sure how a man dresses “sexy,” exactly, beyond those outfits I see at Gay Pride parades. How about men’s sexy clothing turning on other men?
I brought up this question in my other Conservative Dress post: what do these folks mean by “modest dress”? I don’t think the pastor is advocating that women wear birkas, but what counts as “sexy” clothing? Does it mean little shirts, such as those Britney Spears popularized, and showing lots of skin, with stiletto heels? Or does it mean jeans and a t-shirt that somewhat reveal the shape of the body? Does he want to just cover more skin, or does he want us to wear shapeless muumuus that make us look dumpy? Is what I’m wearing now modest by his standards?
Christian men (and anyone else), your mind is not depraved if you have a sex drive and are turned on by women. Sex is a healthy, normal part of human life. It isn’t an aggressive monster trying to “lead men down to death,” in the pastor’s words. Sheesh.
The narrator says he doesn’t know why women dress provocatively because he’s never asked. Why not ask, buddy? Chances are she’d say it’s to impress other women and to get men’s attention. No mystery here. Women are humans. You can ask us questions.
Between Michael Shermer and Penn and Teller, libertarians are well-represented in the world of atheism. It must have to do with the bottom-up processes of both biological evolution and the free market that makes the atheist/libertarian thing so visible.
A month ago, I posted on FB a funny Colbert clip about how the government may pull incandescent light bulbs from the market.
I noted on my post that it was funny that conservatives clung to gas guzzlers and anything else they might feel it is their right as Americans to buy, regardless of any costs to society. Steve Mirsky wrote in Scientific American magazine, “Oklahoma senator Tom Coburn seemed near tears as he softly asked, ‘What if you want to drive a gas hog? You don’t have the right any longer in this country to spend your money to drive a gas hog?’” Cry me a river.
I am not sure if fluorescent bulbs will improve society by cutting down on energy costs and hence helping the environment. I haven’t researched if the mercury in the bulbs makes them not so environmentally-friendly after all, but assuming that they do make a huge positive difference, the government would be right in pulling energy-wasting incandescent bulbs off the shelves.
The free market and capitalism are great, but it’s important to remember that we don’t live in a 100% capitalistic system. If we did, we’d be living in an Orwellian dystopia in which we auctioned off the organs of third world kids. Even the most staunch “let the free market decide” folks must acknowledge that going all the way would be terrible for society.
It was the free market that allowed slavery to happen in the U.S. Just as with sweatshop labor today (which I regard as a step or two above slavery), proponents claimed the economy would collapse without slavery. I’d like to think that, ethics of slavery aside, we proved them wrong.
Life under pure capitalism would be one big auction. Everything would be sold to the highest bidder. The bottom line– the almighty dollar– would decide everything, regardless of who got hurt. The reason we have civilization in the first place, at least in theory, is to protect those who are smaller and weaker. Under a pure Free Market system, stronger people would crush the weak.
Let’s get back to the light bulbs, though.
There are times when the gov’t should and does interfere with the free market. My free market friends: do you object to Big Brother butting into the free market to do the following?
—-Making it illegal to sell liquor or cigarettes to minors.
—-Protecting the public from dangerous items, such as lead paint and swill milk, pulling them off the market. (I can only assume that swill milk aficionados stockpiled swill milk before the law was enacted.)
—-Establishing standards for health inspection in food service, fire codes, architectural safety, etc. I’m sure you’d rather go to Denny’s knowing that Big Brother made sure they didn’t have mice crawling all over the Grand Slams. Check out this video about health inspection.
—-Establishing the Food and Drug Administration to create and enforce rules on which drugs are allowed on the market, and food safety standards. The government limits how many insect parts are allowed in our cereal. To leave this up to the free market would allow the foxes to guard the chicken coop. Life before FDA was pretty disgusting, food-wise.
—-While not completely necessary, I like that smoking isn’t allowed in bars and restaurants, and other public places such as libraries. Even if second-hand smoking weren’t dangerous (Penn and Teller denied that it posed a health risk, but science supports that it is), smoke smells bad and makes me cough.
—-Making seat-belts and other safety features standard on cars. I read that Ronald Reagan once said that making seat-belts standard on cars would “cost consumers their freedom.” Ralph Nader replied that it would indeed cost consumers their freedom– from going through the windshield. If Ralph Nader had not invented the issue of auto safety, in all likelihood, millions of FB users wouldn’t be alive due to auto-related deaths. (Note: there are some people who say that seat-belts kill more lives than they save. I think those people are ignoramuses. They need only ask an expert in the field to be set straight.)
I could go on, but you get the idea.
To reiterate: you wanna let the foxes guard the chicken coop?
Surely you think that these measures are worth sacrificing your freedom.
Only in the past few years have I met libertarians. I wonder where they came from? Out of the woodwork? At any rate, I can’t help but notice that they are all financially well-off men. As near as I can tell, they claim to support liberal values, such as keeping abortion legal, but then turn around and vote for conservatives. Voting with your wallet, guys, won’t maintain social progress. I call these folks “Republican lite.”
Hi Diddly Ho Atheisterinos,
I’m still having blog problems so I’m still not posting as much as I’d like, but you know I miss blogging:) I also posted this on my blogroll site, ExChristian.net, at the request of one of its bloggers.
Abortion, that perma-controversy, is in the wind with the GOP putting the “grand” in “grandly coming down on women for being sluts” and restricting abortion while making rape laws less victim-friendly. Delightful.
Perhaps it’s foolhardy of me to write about abortion in any context, thus generating a lot of antipathy, but I’d like to state my reasons for why I think abortion should be safe and legal. I realize that while anti-abortion people seem to be overwhelmingly religious (especially Christian), there are a number of atheists who share that point of view. I am sympathetic to why people think abortion should be illegal. They make good arguments for their case and I respect that they are only doing what they think is right. I felt the same way, in the respect of life, as a kid until I hit thirteen and was convinced that abortion is necessary.
It would be wonderful if there was no such thing as an unwanted pregnancy. It would be wonderful if women and girls weren’t called sluts and whores for having pre-marital sex, but that’s not the world we live in. Many people would staunchly thwart the progress towards this goal. They want this double-standard of sex. They let unwanted pregnancies happen by their counterproductive ideas.
If one incident would make me pro-abortion rights, it would be this. A professor I had, a Christian minister and liberal cool guy who taught my sexuality class, told me about an acquaintance of his who was the president of a pro-life organization. When his young daughter got pregnant and told the family, they supported her decision to get an abortion. She got one… and he went right back to work the next day.
I’ve heard of people doing similar things often enough. President George Bush the Elder said that he would support a hypothetical granddaughter’s right to an abortion– but apparently, not the rest of us.
Looks to me that when it’s a conservative’s turn to benefit from something, the shoe is on the other foot.
In defense of the anti-abortion people, they are right in that a lot of people do stupid things that result in unwanted pregnancies, but I don’t think making abortion illegal will curb this behavior. It didn’t pre-Roe v. Wade and it won’t now. I can’t defend the behavior of a college friend of mine who made a stupid mistake with his girlfriend, resulting in abortion, but I don’t think they should suffer the consequences for the rest of their lives, either.
You know what would curb people doing stupid things? Sex education and good access to birth control, something anti-abortion people often oppose (not all anti-abortion people oppose these common-sense measures, but it is only anti-abortion people who do.) It’s exasperating to me that the same people who want to end abortion thwart the very things that would drastically reduce unwanted pregnancies. Their solution, abstinence education, is not realistic and is proven to not work. I don’t know how much more evidence they need! For these folks, teaching kids how to use a condom is somehow worse than the abortion that ignorance of condoms could easily lead to.
Another thing: perhaps it’s trite to say this, but I think that if men got pregnant, abortion would be in the bill of rights. Restricting abortion and birth control are ultimately about controlling the sexuality of women and girls. A man, after all, can simply walk away from an unwanted pregnancy. Men do this and have been doing so forever. A woman can’t walk away. Should the law force her to carry this burden? What punishment is there for the man involved? I should note here that many teen pregnancies are caused by older men, hence statutory rape. Some sleazoid twenty-something out there looking to bed gullible young girls got his way, now she is left with the consequences, and if anti-abortion people have their way, she has no relief.
Abortion is never an easy choice. It is never taken lightly. Women and girls don’t say, “You know what’d be fun? Let’s get pregnant and get abortions!”
I do wonder, though, why more girls and women don’t elect to give their unwanted babies to adoption instead of raising them. Adoption appears to be an unpopular option for crisis pregnancies.
Oh, a post about sarcasm. Oh, that’s really original.
Sarcasm is vastly underrated. My family long told me not to use it, and I think most people consider it to be unattractive (especially in women), but it can often be the most concise and wittiest way of putting something.
Let me go on a tangent: if I may thump the Jewish thing, Jews hate perk. If you’re Jewish and you don’t agree with this, it’s probably because you’ve been sheltered from Jewish culture and don’t think Jewish jokes are funny, either. At any rate, I would much rather be around a funny, somewhat negative, sarky person than a Pollyanna. That may be counter to common sense and common wisdom, but I’m being honest with myself. Perhaps it’s possible to be funny without being at least slightly negative and subversive, but that decreases the odds. A lot.
Here’s an example of who I’m trying to *not* be around.
Part of why I love House, M.D. is that, among other public services, Dr. House is bringing back sarcasm. Good for him! America’s sweetheart has woken us up from the dull slumber of everyone going, “Don’t be sarcastic!”
Dr. House would totally cure, with pharms or just his personality, that annoying perky B***h in the above video.
So what are your favorite sarcasm moments, your own or otherwise?
Tinkerbell: a great role model for girls
You all know Tinkerbell as the pixie with the Marilyn Monroe measurements who opens every Disney movie. In the past thirteen years, Disney princesses, and to a lesser degree, Tinkerbell and her fairy cohorts, have become an enormous licensing force. Who can blame kids for loving such innocuous, innocent, and, of course, beautiful characters?
I saw Disney’s Peter Pan for the first time when I was an adult. It’s always interesting to see children’s media as an adult, particularly if you saw the same thing as a child. Watching Peter Pan, I was amazed at the blatant racism in the movie, which by today’s standards would only befit South Park. The musical number, “What Made the Red Man Red,” about Native Americans, wasn’t offensive to most people in its time, and it’s certainly a relief to realize that times have changed for the better, but probably only an adult or older child could register just what that song meant.
Likewise the behavior among the female characters. You all remember Wendy, the female lead, who went to Neverland with her younger brothers and Peter Pan. She was eager to see mermaids, but once she finally met some, they saw her as competing for Peter Pan’s attentions and physically attacked her. (Interesting dating scene in Neverland– apparently, Peter Pan was the only eligible bachelor around.) What I found truly amazing, though, was when Tinkerbell, for the same reason of romantic jealousy, made an attempt on Wendy’s life. (Yes, bachelors are just that rare in Neverland. It sounds worse than those stories I hear about New York.) This was after I had, for years, seen Tinkerbell as a world-famous, harmless kids’ character and second only to Mickey Mouse in being the face of Disney itself.
When Peter Pan apprehends Tinkerbell about what she’s done, Tinkerbell, silent but speaking volumes, proudly admits she tried to rub out Wendy, with no remorse whatsoever until Peter Pan makes it clear that this will cost Tinkerbell his affection.
Interesting role model to feed to kids.
Granted, this aspect of the story may well go over the heads of younger children, but it’s still kind of creepy that we’ve come to celebrate Tinkerbell as an icon when she has murder most foul on her rap sheet. Would parents keep buying Tinkerbellaphernalia– pencil cases, videos, coloring books, etc.– if they knew that she was a murderess? Have parents ever sat down and watched this movie enough to know about this… or does it just not matter, since Tinkerbell is pretty?
Just kidding. This is Not My God, a site for the personal aspect of atheism. I'm putting together a book with that title, having already 20 interviews lined up, but I still want to hear from more of you.
I've expanded the blog to include material not related to atheism, including rants, raves, consumer issues, curmudgeonly matters and other miscellany.
Read more about Not My God on the About page
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