The Catholic League runs on being offended.

More offensive than forced transvaginal ultrasounds!

OpposingViews.com is a fun site to browse if you want to see stupid but kind of funny opinions. For example, the Catholic League — yes, that Catholic League — thinks Jon Stewart’s a misogynist.

See, in this clip, at about 4:50, Stewart, after pointing out that FOX News is more outraged over the Establishment Clause being upheld than it is over my right to medical care, joked that maybe they’d be more enthusiastic about vaginas and those who owned them if they fit the holiday theme.

Jon Stewart refused to apologize last night for the unprecedented assault on Christian sensibilities he launched on April 16. In that episode, “The Daily Show” featured a naked woman with her legs spread and a nativity scene ornament placed between her legs; with the picture on the screen, Stewart laughed at what he called the “vagina manger.”

The vagina manger thing wouldn’t be funny if it weren’t true that conservative groups in the U.S. have their priorities completely ass-backwards. One of the most effective jokes in the world is taking something to a conclusion that’s logically sound but completely ridiculous. The Catholic League and friends can’t stand women, but they love Christmas, so a logical (but absurd) thing to do would be to temper women’s ickiness with Christmas’s magical glow of love and cultural hegemony.

This is just the beginning. Over the next several weeks, we will contact every major Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Mormon and Muslim leader and organization in the nation; they will be sent the picture, along with Stewart’s remarks. We will contact Viacom (which owns Comedy Central, home to “The Daily Show”) making sure that all board members and senior management know about Stewart’s anti-Christian and grossly misogynist attack. We will take out ads in newspapers, etc. We are not going away.

Hey, Catholic League, you’re the ones who won’t let gross ladyparts anywhere near your favorite holiday.

This might be hard for parents to read.

“I’m a little worried about the content of this play.” (Translation: sex jokes.)

“I’m eighteen years old, mother.”

“And?”

“And I’ve been on the Internet, mother.”

“Doing what?”

“Doing… a wide variety of things.”

“Well, you shouldn’t be.”

A pause.

“What exactly are you looking at?” Because this is the sort of thing you can expect your offspring to tell you when you’ve always made it clear that sex isn’t something to talk frankly about. Suuuuuuure.

“Okay, I know you, mother, are sort of… technologically illiterate, but for people of my generation, ‘on the Internet’ encompasses many activities on many sites, most of which we can’t even describe or remember after the fact.” Yes, I do talk like this in real life. This is why giving children books is a risky thing.

Fortunately, she dropped the subject after that, saving me from having to explain that most post-pubescent people with any combination of sex drive, curiosity, and unsupervised Internet access have seen or read sexually explicit material. (If you think teenagers shouldn’t have unsupervised Internet access, I think you should let me kick you in the knee. Just so you know, I wear work boots almost every day.) If you are a parent or someone in an analogous role, please, I beg of you, for your sake and your children’s — assume that by the time someone is old enough to legally have sex, sex-related stuff won’t break their fragile little brain. Assume, too, that anyone who’s old enough to drive knows what male and female nudity look like, and do not be at all surprised if someone’s legally old enough to vote and has — gasp! — had the sex

If you must be shocked at any of these, don’t act as if they’re bad things. Your disapproval won’t make your kids’ experiences not have happened; it will just tell them you don’t take them seriously as people, and they can’t talk to you about anything except the superficial. That’s a lot more harmful than a little porn.

Things to never say again.

This is mostly a reminder to myself to be less of an asshole, but you should probably try to avoid these too.

Oh, they’re just doing it for attention.

Gosh, I’m so very shocked that a member of a social species would like some human interaction.

You need to know you’re not actually a Special Little Snowflake.

Just as people tend to need attention, we tend to be individuals who would like our unique traits recognized and valued. This one’s especially infuriating because the kind of people who say it are usually also the kind of people who say…

Most people are idiots. I can’t believe how much smarter I am than everyone else.

Most of us aren’t even qualified to be saying this. Even people who are shouldn’t, because as I finally figured out after nearly two decades, a high IQ just means you’re smarter than other people, not that you’re better.

That’s not a reason, it’s an excuse.

And so fucking what? People don’t need to justify everything they do to me, and even if I don’t think a reason’s a good one, either it makes sense from their end (which is the only end that matters, if we’re talking about why people do things) or they can’t or won’t tell me the real reason behind whatever they’re doing.

I may have to add to this later.

 

More (sur)real-life conversation.

This moron’s still a moron, but at least lately he’s channeling his moronic energy into less offensive projects: he wants to rename the Midwest. To Bartholomew.

It seems that after sixteen years, he’s finally noticed that our region’s more like a mideastern part of the continent than a proper Midwest. His reason for preferring “Bartholomew” over “Mideast”? Bartholomew’s a cooler name. And yes, we have explained to him that the term Midwest is left over from the days when it was in the central western part of the country. He doesn’t care.

“You do realize the name’s a colloquial descriptor and not an official designation, right?” I asked him.

“I’ll start up a petition! And send it to… America. As a whole.”

“Do you have any idea how expensive it would be to mail a petition to every person in the whole country?”

“I’ll use e-mail.”

“Not everyone has e-mail, Steven.”

“… Point. But I’m still gonna do it!”

“It won’t be successful, because this is the U.S., and Americans do not like change.”

“I know! I’ll get Bill Gates to do it! He can do anything, because he’s Bill Gates.”

“And how exactly are you going to contact him?”

“I’ll write him a letter. And he’ll fly out and meet with me here. In a McDonald’s.”

“Okay, Steven. Okay.”

Worrying about the young’uns. I feel all old now.

Hey, remember that person who said I was a Sooper Sekrit Theist? She’s at it again!  This time she’s making assumptions about my sister, too, and assumptions of the sort that thirteen-year-old girls could really, really do without.

I’m a middling-passionate artist, who approaches the craft with more enthusiasm than talent. The great thing about art is that the more of it you do, the better you get, so I’m not too broken up about not knowing how to draw feet, but I don’t really like showing people unpolished sketches that I haven’t had time to fix. I’m also a fidgeter and a compulsive doodler, so I’ve learned that if I don’t carry around a notebook or sketch pad of some sort, I’ll cover all nearby surfaces with ink, including my left hand and forearm. That’s inconvenient for me, because my left hand and forearm are where I write my memos and notes-to-self. So for the sake of having the stains on my skin actually be useful, I’ll put up with people peering over my shoulder and asking to see what I’m doing.

That doesn’t mean I’m going to show them, though. Even if they decide that declining means I must be drawing a boy I like.

Yeah. She actually said that. I think my reaction– “um, what?”– was pretty sensible. I think Olivia’s–”Emily, like, never talks about guys”– was pretty on-the-mark too. Our dumb acquaintance didn’t quite see it that way. Oh, yes, she told us, she knew that every thought in both our heads was about boys.

Can you see why I’m a little pissed off about this? Number one, there’s just about nothing that gets me madder than telling me what I think even after I say that actually, no, that doesn’t go through my head much at all. Number two, how non-perceptive do you have to be to know someone for several years without noticing that she’s capable of discussing, and by extension thinking about, many, many things besides crushes? Number three, it’s pretty fuckin’ heterosexist to assume two people who aren’t in the habit of expressing romantic interest toward anyone are interested in boys and only boys.

That right there is enough strikes to get an assertation kicked out of a baseball inning. But its worst offense is what it tells my sister: No matter what you say or do, the world will not take you seriously. You are not a reliable judge of what you think. You should define yourself by the boys and men around you.

This kid’s thirteen. She’s lucky in that she has two older sisters who have always valued individuality and intelligence more than fitting in, and encourage her to develop those qualities. She’s unlucky in that she was born female in a society that doesn’t care how bright or creative a girl is if she creates for reasons that aren’t heterosexual and male.

Do other people carry around little notebooks and write down weird conversations?

Last week, this sophomore who’s sort of in the same social group as me went around with a penil and scribbled drawing of a guy in a large hat, on the grounds that “I’m doing an experiment. I wanna see what white people name a pimp.”

I think you can understand why I was trepidatious when he approached me at lunch and said, “I’m taking a survey.”

E: Does this survey relate at all to my whiteness?

S: Well, not your whiteness, specifically….

E: That doesn’t inspire in me a lot of confidence. What is the question?

S: “Based on its behavior, is a panda more white or black?”

E: Neither, because it’s a goddamn panda.

S: Yeah, but does a panda act like a white person or a black person?

E: It is a goddamn panda.

S: But is it a black panda or a white panda?

E: It’s a fuckin’ panda, you racist asshole.

S: Come on, have a little imagination! Pandas. Does it act more white or more black? It’s a simple question.

E: I have plenty of imagination. I have so much imagination, in fact, that I can imagine a creature that isn’t human and doesn’t base its behavioral patterns around human racial stereotypes!

S: Okay, I’m gonna have to make a new category for that answer. “Black, White, or It’s a Fucking Panda.”

E: Put me down for the last one.

S: All right. Thank you for your time.

Super-fast ‘n’ easy chocolate cake-in-a-mug.

Seriously, you can make this thing in five minutes if you’ve got all the stuff. The stuff is:

  • One egg
  • One tablespoon of flour
  • One tablespoon of brown sugar
  • One tablespoon of cocoa powder– the bitter stuff, not the kind you mix into milk, though that might work too. It’d just be a really, really sweet cake.
  • One tablespoon of frosting or peanut butter. Nutella’d probably work, to; I’ve never tried it. I’ve only actually had Nutella once. It was pretty sweet, in every sense of the word.
  • 1/4 of a teaspoon of baking powder
  • A handful of chocolate chips.
  • A mug. It might be a good idea to grease it a little bit.
  • A microwave oven.

Throw everything into the mug except the chips, because if you don’t put them in last they’ll sink to the bottom and make it gooier than the rest of the cake and it’s kind of gross to have fluffy stuff on top and sludge on the bottom. Mix it all up, THEN toss in the chips and let them sink just a little bit. Microwave for about a minute and thirty seconds, a little more if you want a cake that’s more cake-y and a little less if you want one that’s more brownie-y. Let it cool enough for you to pick up the mug without hurting your hands. Eat it. I guess invert it over a plate and decorate it if you want, but who has time for that?

Moving My Feet

Okay, sometimes I’ll be hanging out online and other women’ll be sharing horror stories of street harrassment, and I’ll wonder if I’m walking down the wrong streets because street harrassment’s not something I have a lot of experience with.

And then today I went for a walk with my sister, who does look older than sixteen the same way I looked like an adult even when I wasn’t, but it’s not like that’s a fucking excuse. We were out, in a fairly boring neighborhood, for about half an hour. In that time, on five separate occasions and those are just the ones I remember, men in five separate cars honked or whistled or yelled rude things at us.

And I don’t have much of a reason for telling you about it other than 1) I need to work on that “posting” thing other people do more than once a week and 2) I keep thinking maybe if I try throwing lived experiences out there and pointing out how shitty street harrassment is, men will stop harrassing strangers in the street and everybody will realize why feminism is not goddamn irrelevent yet.

But the men who want power over me are probably not going to give an airborne fuck about making me feel more comfortable when I try to go out, like people sometimes do, and people who think we’ve got equality already are going to tell me I’m imagining things or, worse, that there’s nothing wrong with a bunch of adult men in a vehicle catcalling a couple of teenaged girls as they drove past and I should feel complimented. So this isn’t going to be very helpful, just an emotion-filled rant with too many run-on sentences and not enough commas about how sometimes, I would like to be visible when I try to talk and be taken seriously and invisible when I just want to walk around and be a person whose body is not perceived as belonging to the whole fucking world, instead of the other way around.

Fucking hell.

Oh, Facebook ads.

I usually block them out. I saw this one, for some reason. The college is actually reputable, and I’ll probably get some required courses out of the way there before I transfer somewhere with a better English program, but they went a little too far this time in trying to reach the hip youngsters and the young hipsters:

 

I suppose they had no way of knowing about my intense, visceral, profound hatred for textspeak. That doesn’t excuse not coming up with a slightly better strategy for convincing people they should pay you money to provide them with higher education.

Let’s talk stories.

Or: A  self-indulgent, rambling paragraph followed by a series of self-indulgent, rambling bullet points wherein I use the same few words too many times and worry that other people don’t like semicolons quite as much as I do.

I love stories. I love reading/watching/hearing them, sometimes I love telling them, and I really love talking about them. The mechanics of storytelling fascinate me. What’s the plot? How does the storyteller get it on the page or the screen or into whatever medium they choose — and why did the storyteller think that medium suited the story best? I like talking tropes, basically. Some of my favorite kinds of fiction and narrative-heavy nonfiction, in no particular order, are

  • Stories that make me laugh. Even if it’s horribly sad, I want there to be something in the narration that gets me to laugh. I think I might especially love jokes in sad stuff. They contrast the tragedy, and by doing so they make it even more, well, sad.
  • Stories that use irony. My favorite literary device isn’t actually as complicated as certain jokers say it is. It’s contrast. It’s the opposite of what you’d expect. It’s having a character break the fourth wall at the beginning to tell you everyone’s going to die at the end, and learning to care about the characters anyway, in spite of yourself
  • Stories where the fourth wall gets bent, leaned on, glanced at, or just plain smashed like a frat bro on a Friday night. It simultaneously highlights that this is a fictional world and draws the audience deeper into it by smudging the line between the story’s world and the audience’s.
  • Stories that play narrative Jeopardy! You know how usually, a show or book will give you questions and then the answers are revealed as the plot progresses? Narrative jeopardy’s my mental label for when answers are given out pretty freely, but you have to dig for the questions. I don’t know if there’s already another name for it so I just made one up.
  • Stories with weird and/or nonlinear timelines. Unraveling figurative balls of wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey stuff makes me feel smart.
  • Stories with friendship. I don’t really care about familial bonds; I’m indifferent or hostile to most of my relatives. Bonds formed out of shared experiences instead of some sense of obligation based solely on biological accident, though? Yes, please.
  • Stories that expand my vocabulary. I think I learned around ten words from Good Omens alone. This is only appealing if you’re willing to consult a dictionary once in a while, which I absolutely am.
  • Stories about stories. If this list were in a particular order, this one’d be near #1. I like stories; I like taking stories apart to see how they work; this is just the logical conclusion.

Your turn! Turn-ons? Turn-offs? Reccommendations? Things you should have liked but didn’t? Things I forgot to mention?

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