Sunday, April 30, 2006


We got new clip art!

Plus, some updates over at WOMB. Check it out!

Friday, April 21, 2006

A few observations about the MILF

In the most recent episode of the Real Housewives of Orange County (brain poison double dipped in slick), the botoxed, (mostly) surgically enhanced moms giggle about being called "milfs," that most odious acronym for the phrase "mother i'd like to f*ck." According to the
online slang dictionary, this term has been around since about 2002, which pretty much makes it concurrent with the so-called rise of raunch culture. This isn't surprising since the whole concept of milf-dom is pretty raunchy, though most people probably wouldn't immediately put it in the same category as the "girls gone wild" phenom. MILFs are, by definition, m0ms, and some of them are squeaky-perky-clean (i.e. Kelly Ripa). And she's not raunchy, right?

Though the outward, visible results might be different, MILFdom and Raunch culture have much in common -- mainly in the way that they both suggest the path to sexual freedom lies in being objectified. While raunch-culture is a trend popular among college women and young singles, MILFdom appears to be gaining popularity among married women.

But why MILFs? And why now? A few thoughts:

1.) precedents for MILFs: "cute/sexy moms" like Mary Tyler Moore*, Carol Brady, and even Donna Reed. These on-screen moms performed a version of domestic labor that was itself sometimes sexualized (shining shoes and mopping floors as a subtext to floorplay? I mean foreplay), with sex sometimes being depicted as an aspect or extension of this labor. Eerily, Caitlin Flannegan (who defines herself as "vehemently" anti-feminist) makes the same claim in
her ridiculous book (if you don't know who she is, you can read about her here).

I'm not sure if I should include biblical women or women from myth as milf precedents.

2.) The conflation of motherhood and "f*ckability." I know this sounds sort of a like no-brainer (um, how do people get pregnant?) and it def isn't anything new (some of those pietas are pretty sexy), but I think tropes like frumpy "mom" jeans and jingle bell sweatshirts have done much to separate popular constructions of sexiness from the idea of "mothers," especially middle and upper-class mothers who, before the milf phenom, were often described as "soccer moms" with SUVs. In this sense, milfdom plays the same card as "raunch" culture: in an act of so-called liberation, moms might don more sexually provocative clothing in order to become eye candy because -- don't you know -- being objectified is the path to sexual liberation.

3.) The separation of sex and labor, and how that separation signifies class privlege: If sex and domestic labor were once considered partner "duties" of a good wife, it seems interesting that the women who are most likely to enact this trend (the real housewives of orange county, britney) are wealthy white women who can afford to pay others (usually women) to perform domestic labor. At this point, I'd also point to my earlier post on the celebrity baby boom.

4.) The term precedes the trend: Though I know what we call "milfdom" def precedes the term, the term itself is clearly responsible for what can only be described as a trend. And who coined the term you might wonder? According to slang dictionary, it was the boys from the American Pie movies, who if you don't remember, were stupid sex-crazed teen boys desperate to lose their virginity. I think it's important to remember that it was these boys, not moms, who coined the term. This is troubling for several reasons, but most of them have to do with young men and boys determining which of their friends' moms are "f*ckable," which is pretty disgusting.

Moreover, it points to the power young men desire to have over more mature women, or at least points to that fantasy. I'm sure some people will disagree with me here, but according to me, the term "like to fuck" is pretty disparaging. If you ask me, it's only one step away from "hit it." Yuck.
And this leads me to my next observation --

5.) MILFDOM and Age: This was what I found most disturbing about the Real Housewives, who were very open with their desire to be considered MILFS by their son's friends. Instead of being a figure of authority, these women wished to be perceived as objects of sexual desire. Um, paging Dr. Freud. But really, what should we make of this trend in which women aspire to be considered "f*ckable" by not just their husbands, and not just their husbands' friends (which is already offensive enough), but also their childrens' friends? Have you heard that song "Stacy's Mom"? Are you kidding me? Give me Mrs. Robinson any day.

I'm all for women embracing and celebrating their sexuality, and wanting to feel desirable and attractive is healthy and natural, but this whole MILF thing seems like a dead-end. I'm hoping the real housewives are an extreme case. I'm hoping.

*I think it's interesting that after playing opposite Dick Van Dyke, Mary Tyler Moore went on to have her own show and become an icon of the independent, single, career woman (even though she did have to deal with that patriarchal boss). It is also said that Mary Tyle Moore was subjected to
being pinched while on the set of the Dick Van Dyke show. The pincher? The boss's son.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Elka's New Blog is Rad

If yr into making things and watching flowers grow and keeping ants out of your cupboard, then you need to head over to Household Concerns, a place where Mz Elka shares her knowledge of all things creative and domestic. The pictures are purty.

I love the internet!

Monday, April 17, 2006

On the Rocks

TV Tanka

Me and TV -- we
like old buddies, like lovers.
Sweetheart, candy. Some-
times soother, sometimes grabber --
what once was sweet goes sour.

Shook [me]. Stirred [me]. TV played [me].


Big Love

Bill Henrickson is
a prick with three wives. I feel
bad for the wives. Bill --
I'd like to see him torn down.
I like the girls from VM.

Gilmore Girls

Once there was a show
about women who were smart.
Now there is a show
about smart women who eat
shit. I hate that f*ing show.

Blow Out

Jonathan Antin
blows. He blows his top. He blows
himself. Lip-licking
mirrors, his staff, his "wife." His
one true love is QVC.

The Real Houswives of Orange County

Slade Smiley took down
his myspace, prob'ly 'cause peeps
were poking fun at
how he laid out his watches.
That was really stupid, Slade.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Annoying Boy of the Week; or, Man, Oh Man, Part Two

Thanks to Randa for alerting us to the existence of heinous douchebag Tucker Max. Now we need a vengeance demon like Anya on Buffy so we could wish ourselves into a world where Tucker Max was never born. Even if such a wish unleashed giant trolls or vampire hordes, it would be a better place than a planet on which Tucker Max walks un-tarred and featherless.

Tucker Max maintains a website and has authored a book, I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell, that celebrate his life as an amoral, hard-partying, lothario. His highly contrived and utterly unimaginative posture combines that uniquely American brand of pathetic, rebellious masculinity cooked up for capitalist country clubbers like Lee Iaccoca and Jack Welch, when the time comes for revenants to pen their memoirs, with graphic descriptions of conquests over disposable, seemingly interchangeable women. For his pains penning misogynist hate-tracts, Max earns a more or less glowing write-up in the New York Times, and is cited by Warren St. John as the leader of a new literary movement, "fratire." St. John strikes a typically gutless MSM tone, mixing prudish tsk-tsk-ery with unmistakable arousal at the thrusts and moans of a new marketing phenomenon inseminating the American consciousness.

This brings us back to the theme of a renascent masculinity spreading its odium over the contemporary cultural field. St. John's article brings to light a number of other elements in masculinity's symbolic matrix that allows us to see the deep links between capitalism, machismo, the subordination of women and class struggle. The generic neologism "fratire" (a very bad moniker, because of both the weakness of the pun and the imputation of witty social critique within writing that seems to entirely lack any kind of self-awareness) brings to mind, of course, the heinous Greek culture of American universities. After reaching an apex of pseudo-coolness in movies like John Landis's Animal House (1978), fraternities began a precipitous decline in esteem in the popular imagination. Behind the togas lurked nauseating entitlement, inherited privelege, repulsive racism, and a propensity for sexual assault and rape. Fratboys may have participated, for instance, in the independent music culture of the 1980s and 1990s more than I imagine, but if they did, they left their beanies at home.

As it turns out, the class element of fraternities was not just a social fact that lurked under the surface of relations between Greeksters and their inferiors. As Stephen Norwood has demonstrated in his great study of masculinity and twentieth-century anti-labor violence in the United States, Strikebreaking and Intimidation: Mercenaries and Masculinity in Twentieth-Century America, participating in strike-breaking activity was a common part of college merry-making for fratboys in the first hald of the twentieth century. Why? Norwood sees a "crisis of masculinity" among the alpha gamma jackass set who desired "intense, violent experiences that provided feelings of power and mastery," (Norwood, 21-22) such as bashing in strikers' heads, to compensate from the insecurity occassioned by the sedentary, "emasculated" nature of modern surplus extraction.

So the formation of fratboy consciousness was shaped to a large degree by violent anti-labor rites of passage. The working-class could not be allowed to own "manliness." Instead, "manliness" had to be rebranded as an upper-class entitlement. "Risk" was recalibrated to denote the legal pugilism of hostile takeovers or the decisive shredding of documents. Workers who braved the dangers of a strike were not "risk-takers" but criminals and riff-raff-- unable to prove themselves on the country club green or flash a five-figure timepiece, they were hardly men at all.

So, to return to "fratire." Can we not hear echoes of this heritage in the risible he-man blather of Jeremie Ruby-Strauss, Tucker Max's editor? "All of this is a reaction against over-socialization, or maybe an over-feminization of the culture... think all of these books are about men searching for a model other than what they're being told to do, something more rebellious, less cautious and less concerned with external approval." Rock on, dude. We can add to the lineage of this philosophy the misogynist reaction against the castrating effects of American mothering common in the 1950s, and best represented by Philip Wiley's Generation of Vipers, and even to militaristic male-bonding cults of masculinity like the post WWI German Freikorps, (as documented so brilliantly by Klaus Theweleit in Male Fantasies) who morphed into Hitler's shock troops in the 1930s. Awesome!

And what should we make of Fax Herbert, the 19-year old Tufts freshman interviewed by St. John about his passion for the works of Max? According to Herbert, "We're all under a lot of pressure to pick a path and follow it... "Here's a guy who didn't do what his parents wanted him to or what society would have expected him to do. He blazed his own trail."

Screw you, Mom and Dad! I am going to drink a lot in college, have a lot of heterosexual sex, talk about it with my friends in a manner that suggests that I have little respect for my partners, and eventually make a lot of money by cynically pandering to male fantasies of potency and strength (which no one else has the guts to talk about), get rich, and give interviews to the New York Times wherein I will ultimately re-frame my whole rebel project in the most conventional, traditional and banal language available (Max concludes by saying, "I show that the best way to live is to be true to yourself"). You can't stop me, Mom and Dad! I'm a MAN!

Cutie Crack

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Annoying Boyz of the Week

1.) Slade Smiley, chucklehead extraordinaire on the Real Housewives of Orange County, terrorizes America via Bravo and Myspace (beware, looking at his myspace is like loooking into hell). Why a 37 year old has a myspace is beyond me. Oh wait, flirting and self promotion. Anyway, as the SB says, he's such a putz. I say misogynist, capitalist, asswipe, everything evil pig. And what kind of name is Slade Smiley? It sounds made up.

2.) Chad Michael Murray, our FIRST annoying boy of the week, makes the list again. This time for hooking up with one of the teenage extras on One Tree Hill. What a dope.

3.) Wilmer Valderama for bragging about his penis and where it's been. No, I'm not making this up.

4.) Bill Henderson from Big Love. I know he's not a real boy, but he is really annoying.

5.) Almost all the boys on the Real World Key West. Yucky.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Missy + Feather Pen = H_O_T

I've been wanting to do a PUNK ROCK POETRY MONTH post, but then I watched this video on YOU TUBE (my internet girlfriend) and decided to post this instead. I know I'm not the first person to say this -- but HELLO -- these Missy videos are brilliant. And that shit with her at the desk with that big pen?? Awesomness.

On a not so related note, I've fully recovered from my run in with the snobs and am back to my benefit of the doubt self.

Also, WOMB is open for submissions. Tell your peeps.

I've gotten a few requests for topics lately, and I love it! Send 'em if you got 'em. It may take me awhile to get the post up, but I love getting requests.

I am looking for new music to listen to. Anything brittle, crinkly, or weathered is good. I also like screaming. What are you loving right now? Tell me!

Two T.V. shows that I saw for the first time this weekend: College Hill on BET and Can't Get a Date on VH1. I recommend both. Can't Get a Date is actually very sweet.

Have you seen Big Love? So far I think it feels heavy handed and manipulative. The best thing about it are these two girls who are also on Veronica Mars.

How cool is it that the SB made a post?!

Hope you had a rock steady weekend my lovelies!!!!

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Man, Oh Man

So we were watching the Colbert Report last night, and the guest was this conservative windbag named Harvey C. Mansfield. Mansfield has just penned a tome called Manliness, which seems like the worst book ever. I went over to to read up on the book, and saw nothing but praise from readers regarding the acuity of Mansfield's rhetorical skills. Then I hopped over to the New York Times and read a devastating take-down by Walter Kirn that more or less confirmed my suspicion that Mansfield's stock-in-trade is curmudgeonly pontification and facile Great Books dot-connecting. Mansfield is another devotee of Leo Strauss, rounding out the illustrious rogues' gallery of neocon Straussians, who have brought us such delights as the Iraq War and Abu Ghraib.

So why am I even bothering recapping this? Well, "manliness" is a tough topic for me. I am biologically and culturally a man, but I have absolutely no investment in the historical construct of "manliness." Unlike a lot of other putatively progressive, artsy males I seem to meet here in Texas, and just about all of those guys I meet who are not into these pursuits, I hate machismo, performed stoicism, bassos profundi, thumbs hooked in jeans belt loops, tattoos, boots, tools, trucks, fighting, sports, lad magazines, militarism, and heroic alcohol consumption. So that is part of the dilemma. Between the music scene here, the folks I meet through FF's literary involvements, and the handful of radical political types I have met here, I have had to continually confront my distaste for expressions of proud masculinity. Sticking to an anti-"manliness" stance in Texas, even on the fringes, is virtually a life sentence of alienation and mild nausea. I am lucky, of course. I just have to tune these bozos out. Women and gay men actually have to date them . Ecch.

But this brings us to the second dilemma. Obviously, hating the hairy-chested, swaggering, he-men who show up at literary readings , improv music concerts, or hip coffee shops is a no-brainer. But there seems to me to be an elitist tinge to the "hate list" I enumerated above. The Republican agit-prop machine has been busy, since at least the Alger Hiss trial of the late 1940s, linking liberalism with pantywaist, pin-striped limp-wristers, and conservatism with burly masculinity. So from Adlai Stevenson to John Kerry, Democrats have been depicted as both elitist and emasculated. This no doubt accounts for some of my feeling of being a snob, rather than a critic of gender, when I feel revulsion around alpha-male behaviors and culture. Of course, nobody displays more remoteness from the imaginary flannel-clad all-American sausage party about which Republican strategists fantasize than effete, upper-crust pencil-neck eggheads like Mansfield (and other cheerleaders of Nascar middle America like David Brooks, William Kristol, and Fred Barnes).

But there is a third dilemma that cannot be explained a way just by pointing to the way the Right has gamed the manliness issue over the last half-century or so. In one of my lives, I am a student of US labor history. So when I think about the reactionary nature of "manliness," I can't help but recall that the working-class version of "manliness" has been one of the central themes of union culture in America. Virtually every document in the history of US labor organizations, from the Knights of Labor, to the AFL to the CIO, contains a pledge to remain "manly" in the face of the encroachments of capital. "Manliness" stood in for a complex of values, like self-respect, dignity, and solidarity that helped (male) workers launch sustained challenges to management prerogatives. At the same time, tragically, the women working in the needle trades, steno pools, tobacco plants and homes of the wealthy were denied access to the preeminent image in the language of labor. And even though this gendering of labor culture contributed to many of labor's failures, past and present, it seem too facile to dismiss "manliness," if we are to recognize other cultural phenomena, such as pulp novels, radio, TV, etc. as tools of resistance as well as repression.

The famous "I Am a Man" signs held by the African American Memphis sanitation workers on strike in 1968 still seem to resonate with some power, despite their deference to "manliness." But we cannot forget that the more powerful image of working-class "manliness" from that era is that of "hard-hats" beating up anti-war protestors in New York. So, is manliness, like "whiteness," a construct that needs to be tossed on history's dustpile? Or is there some way to articulate a counter-"manliness" to that of doofusses like Mansfield?

Carnival of Feminists 12

Is up over at Written World. Go check it.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Crest White Strips Can Suck It

Like it's devil twin the Diet Industry Empire (DIE), the Evil Empire of Anti-Aging Products (EEAAP) has been tenderly sinking both claw and tooth into the pocketbooks of American women for a long time. We have both capitalism and sexist beauty standards to thank for DIE's and EEAAP's success stories. Jars and jars of snake oil sold daily. Jams and jellies composed of toxic sludge. I wonder how tall the mountain of purchased anti-aging products would be? How many dollars have women spent on this stuff? Is this actually an evil plot to re-route women's spending power into pointless jars of vanity products -- the myth being that beauty/youth provided women in this country with more power than cold, hard cash?
That's just the conspiracy theory side of me running with it. You can say I'm reaching. Whatevs.

[But really, how many dollars spent advertising fountain of youth products?
And what should we make of the west's fixation on preserving youth when millions go to bed hungry? ]

These days, I have a real bone to pick with
Crest White Strips. That shit is evil, not just because of the stuff they sell, but because of the way they sell it. Have you seen those commercials? That "I'll Never Tell" shit? They're heinous. The premise is this: an affluent white woman who weighs three pounds and dresses like Kristin Cavallari coyly asks questions like: "When I was in middle school, I was into the latest dance craze. Was it the hustle or the electric slide?" Other questions include "did I like bell bottoms or penny loafers?" and "did I like David Cassidy of Ralph Macchio?" Yuck. Yuck. Double Yuck. I'm just waiting for the one where they ask "I was into partying. Did I like cocaine or crack?" Anyway, the idea is that we can't really guess what trend they were into because they look soooo young. Is she 30 or 45? Who knows 'cause she reminds us repeatedly that "I'll never tell."

And what the hell is in a crest white strip? Bleach? Yeah, I wanna suck on that so I can fool people about my age because my teeth are so white. It's stupid.

And why is this product suddenly gendered? Last I checked, teeth whitening products were for everybody. Why is it all about women now? Huh, Crest? Why? They've even got Carmindy, the make-up artist from TLC's What Not to Wear, assaulting women in Central Park and telling them to wear blush, lip gloss, and Crest White Strips. Icky.

Crest white strips. Another way to keep the people down.

I do, however, like The White Stripes.

Monday, April 03, 2006

I Hate Snobs

My jaw dropped. Why the need to suggest everyone besides you is stupid. Why the need to belittle anyone else's accomplishments or pleasures. I wanted to throw up, to stab my hand with a fork. It's disgusting and ugly. Fucking elitist bullshit.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

More Offendoplex

I know I already said this, but the Real Housewives of Orange County is f***ed. I just caught a snippet in which meathead richie 18 year olds were shooting bunnies in their backyard. BUNNIES. These are evil people. EVIL. How do they sleep at night? How?

Saturday, April 01, 2006

These Are the Animals in Your Neighborhood, Pt. 1

On nice days, the SB and I like to take walks around our neighborhood. We amble past all sorts of interesting things, but the best part of the walk is exchanging pleasantries with all the neighborhood animals. Here's a little intro to some of our friends. They are listed in the order in which we encounter them.

First there's Batgirl. She's a little black and tan chihauaua whose ears stick straight up like this ^^. She lives in a little square yard with a chainlink fence in front of a limestone house. She barks alot, and is very, very cute. The elementary school playground is across the street from her house, and she seems to spend lots of time barking at the kids. I think she feels left out.

Next there's the Queen of the Neighborhood. No, not BK's "Rebel Girl" but the infamous Captain Snuggles, a giant, fluffy white and marmalade and black beauty. Her boyfriend is a fluffy black and white kitty. These guys roam all over, and like to "fluff around" (translation: lounge and lick their paws). Captain Snuggles seems a bit vain, but she is gorgeous, so...

Then there's Angus, Fergus, and Foxy Honeychild Cleopatra. Angus and Fergus are black scotties, and Foxy Honeychild is some sort of fluffy brown dog. They live in a yard that seems to be decorated with oddly shaped, vaguely runic statues. The run along the fence as we walk by, and the SB does his best Scottish accent and calls them "bonny." They love it.

To be continued...