Msnowe's Blog

Dear John Letters… (in which M.Snowe fakes it but good)

Posted in Equal Pay Act, equality, John McCain, Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tires, sexism by m.snowe on April 25, 2008

1 Writer’s Block Plaza
NY, NY
USA, Blogosphere, Universe, etc.


Senator John McCain
241 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Main: 202-224-2235
Fax: 202-228-2862


Dear Senator:

First, please excuse my intrusion. Since I am not a member of your Arizonian constituency, feel free to disregard my humble correspondence. However, since you are running as the Republican candidate for president, it might be conceivable that you would read and absorb my letter. In hopes of the later, I will continue with my praise of your most recent Senate actions.

This past week, the Senate was called to vote on a bill approved by the House and originally written by those whom you lovingly consider “your friends on the other side of the aisle.” Before I address this bill, I’d like to point out that you should be a bit more careful, Mr. Seniorator. What I mean is, you use the address “my friends” in many different contexts, not all entirely amiable. Now, as a staunch supporter, I know that when you call Democrats “friends” you mean something different than when you call campaign contributors at your rallies “friends” (wink wink). But that’s another story.

Back to the Bill. It was the Equal Pay Bill, also know as the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, the name taken from the Supreme Court case Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., Inc. The bill was written–as I’m sure your copious hours of research into the bill informed you–as a correction to the Supreme Court’s ruling that a worker should be limited to 180 days upon first instance of discriminatory pay practice by an employer based on sex, race, age, etc. Ledbetter, an employee of Goodyear, and her lawyers claimed that every time she received a pay check that was less than her male equals’ salaries, it constituted discrimination. But you, dear Senator, and the Supreme Court (or at least those legal eagles: Roberts, Scalia, Kennedy, & Thomas: the conservative bench clusterfuck, as I fondly call them) decided that if this woman had a gripe with her pay scale, she should have complained within 180 of being hired by Goodyear. If she was so conscientious about receiving equal pay, why didn’t she snoop around the records of her fellow employees while she was still on her initial six-month probationary period upon hiring–you know, back when she was new, didn’t have a rapport with her colleagues, and didn’t know how much they made, and was barred from asking as a matter of company policy? If she got canned then and there for snooping, it wouldn’t have blown up into an expensive and unfruitful extended legal battle now! Think of the time everyone could have saved and all the tires that could’ve been made with the money instead used to pay the lawyers! If she just married up and stopped futzing around with rubber and tires, we’d all be able to stick an extra wheel on or cars, and have as many rubber stamps as we wanted (which would SO come in handy once you’re president!).

So again, I must applaud your decision not to vote on this bill, and instead campaign for contribution monies in some of the poorest sections of the country, like New Orleans; because let’s face it, the best way to stop poverty, and specifically poverty among women and children, is going to their home town and asking for money for your campaign–not to sit in your leather senate seat and try to legislate away their problems! They need to carry a McCain FOR PRESIDENT banner to really combat their lower wages and discriminatory victimization. Like osmosis, our grand old party ideas of free market economies and free enterprise will seep into their ears, and allow the New Orleans people to wipe off their toxic-mold encrusted sneakers and participate in the utopia of true laissez faire! Huzzah!

I melted at your words when interviewed about the bill. You said: “I am all in favor of pay equity for women, but this kind of legislation, as is typical of what’s being proposed by my friends on the other side of the aisle, opens us up to lawsuits for all kinds of problems.” *Give me a moment while I collect myself, and re-congeal from the puddle of Republican glee I was just transported into by your eloquence.*

Okay. So the lawsuits, the legal battles, all this unnecessary stuff–you hit the nail right on the democrat’s head. We don’t want all these lawsuits! And this legislation would open it up, allowing women to sue whenever they actually find discrimination–not just those 180 days. They have long careers, so that would be absolute chaos! Of course, it might make people file suit without direct evidence in the first 180 days, just to cover their legal bases, so to speak…but I don’t think that’s likely. Who ever heard of courts being flooded with unwarranted law suits instead of well-researched, justifiable ones?

Besides, the heart of this issue, as you so rightly but your finger on, is not that women are receiving lower pay for equal work, it’s that they don’t know what they’re doing (especially in comparison to men). In full disclosure, I’m a woman, and I can confirm that I don’t know what I’m doing, even now, sitting here drafting this letter to you in praise for your work. I’d need more clues than a naked scavenger hunt to really understand your policy. But the other message that you told the press that made me liquefy was this one (in regard to the salary disparity between men and women):

“They [women] need the education and training, particularly since more and more women are heads of their households, as much or more than anybody else,…And it’s hard for them to leave their families when they don’t have somebody to take care of them….It’s a vicious cycle that’s affecting women, particularly in a part of the country like this, where mining is the mainstay; traditionally, women have not gone into that line of work, to say the least,”

*note: a single, translucent tear of pristine republican emotion runs down my cheek every time I read this, fomenting my soul with GOP solidarity. *

You see, you silly discriminatory-practices-lawsuit women, like Madame Ledbetter (her name is even criminal!)–you have it all wrong! Senator, you know where the problem needs to be nipped in the bud: Education. Women aren’t getting paid less because they’re women, it’s because they’re stupid, and can’t perform tasks! All that sentimental stuff: yikes. It’s surprising enough that women can even manage to form lawsuits, with all the hormones and familial concerns.

You said you saw the disparity in wages, and want to rectify it. Well, Senator, do I have an initiative for you! I say, you put women back in their traditional spot: the home, and more specifically, the kitchen. They seem to like taking care of their families, as you suggested in the quote above. Just eradicate hiring women in the US! Ah, but I know you’re saying to yourself, “well, that’s a good idea, but how would I do it?” Don’t worry John (I feel we’re on an intimate, first name basis now) I wouldn’t leave you hanging. Remember after the liberalism of the 1920’s, followed by the depression, and then WWII, everybody got reallllllly conservative, and Rosie the Riveter put away her hammer and instead constructed school lunch boxes in poodle skirts and stuff? Well, all we need to do to get back to the glory days of Dad Knows Best is to start a war, in tandem with a depression of sorts. You see, the first baby boom occurred because Americans needed to do some good old fashioned boning after all those years of depressing war. And the babies were born more frequently after the Great Depression, because people felt they could now afford to have them. So, think about it. All you need is an altercation, or war of some sort against a foreign power and ideology…and then maybe a recession, followed by an upturn. And BOOM! Women are in the kitchen where they so rightly fit. Less women and lawsuits to deal with at work! Everybody wins! Now if we could only find a long, drawn out war, and an unstable economy…..

Best wishes to your campaign!

Your Ever-Ardent Political Fan and Future Bathroom Tryst,

M. Snowe

why to hate morning television (in case you’ve forgotten)

Posted in Clinton, gender, laura bush, morning television, no child left behind, Today Show by m.snowe on April 24, 2008

Morning news television (produced by the major broadcasters, such as ABC, NBC, CBS, and Fox) is in the rather unenviable position of straddling the line between daytime television and regular newscasting. Perhaps a better title would be “daytime lite.” The time of airing is what does this format in–or at least makes it particularly unique. Because these programs usually start at 7am, it services a large crowd early. People have yet to go to work, so network morning new programs catch all groups–workers and stay-at-home people alike. They get people watching at the gym, or those waiting for the traffic report during those ever-important 25-minute-intervaled local news breaks. They get stay-at-home parents and caretakers, and work-from-home professionals. It’s an eclectic mix, and because of that, the shows provide a little bit of everything.

But, in watching an entire show, front to back, you get a much better sense of the structure. Often, people catch five minutes here or there. But if you really pay attention, there are patented social cues inserted into the ebb and flow, including atmospheric shifts and tempered segments. It’s all so that the supposed demographics are fitted, or so those who the execs think are watching, are induced to continue watching. It’s no surprise that in the earliest, 7AM hour, the “hard news” dominates the segments, whereas during the last hour, fashion, entertainment, and cooking make up the majority of the program. But this makes the assumption that these divergent audiences, watching the same three hour show at different times, are only looking for certain things. What this suggests is that the show is purely consumer driven (like most other shows), based on people’s wants. It’s so obvious that stay at home mums want to know how to dress nicely, and that career-types will want the results of yesterday’s financial market projections. But this assumes too much–it isn’t informed by culture, it in fact informs cultural cues, including stereotypes about gender, race, and especially class. It over-compensates, making the facile assumptions that those who stay at home are less concerned with politics, and more concerned about how to bake the perfect muffin. It implies that the legal aid rushing out the door around 8AM doesn’t want to know about which celebrity is in rehab, although they will be glued to their US magazine on the train into work. These kind of cultural assumptions benefit no one.

And the gender implications are omnipresent. First off, the increase in “feminine products” commercials is inversely proportional to the amount of news coverage, as if women, not enticed by ads for vagacil or o.b., are devoid of any use for what’s happening in China (Free Monistat Three Day!…I mean Free Tibet!). And if it wasn’t Black & White enough how sexually-stereotyped the Today show is, they give it to you in Blue & Pink: observe, if you will, next time–that all Matt Lauer’s cheat sheets are a pale blue, whereas Meredith Viera’s are a baby pink. And that’s not the half of it. Gadgets, gizmos, legal battles, medical stories, politics & sports are all covered by the men; whereas cooking, fashion, relationships, and the odd political story about Hillary Clinton is thrown to the women, along with the throw-away mothering stories and pet tragedies. Yes, you might argue that there are exceptions–but they are just that, the exceptions, not the rules. And this isn’t just gender bias here, the show is fraught with racial & sexual bias and ageism. Look at the different segments, and tell which go where. The “anchors” are predominantly white and upper middle class, middle aged, definitely heterosexual(we are meant to think). These are the people that are metaphorically and literally anchoring us — they’re who and what we’re supposed to be. The jolly weatherman, the extra-bubbly semi-hosts, etc.: all superfluous, and therefore all apt job openings for affirmative action initiatives, sadly. The only gay correspondents allowed are those that flamboyantly embrace the most stereotypical roles, and are relegated to, you guessed it: fashion and pop culture (and that’s only for gay men, who never are allowed to really talk about their orientation on air, but it’s implied. Openly out lesbians, well, they don’t get any segments). Young women co-hosts, or fills-ins on the show must be: perfectly trim, stylish, and married, also, the possibility of pregnancy is seen as a way to introduce lovely segments on what to expect while expecting. They will never get a hard-edged story to cover, ever. Where the weatherman or the male anchor can be happily rotund, the younger female hosts must adhere to the strict rules that apply to movie stars (except when pregnant). Another double standard. Like in politics (or almost any other professional arena) women will be judged by what they wear, while the male anchors throw on a suit and they’re done (the only controversy lately about a man’s attire has seemed to center on jewelry, namely a little “flag pin” …but them again, that was about ideology ultimately, not fashion sense. Women have to deal with cleavage counters).

Then there was Tuesday’s Today show, and please note that this is the day of the much anticipated Pennsylvania primary. What heightened the excitement on Tuesday’s show was that the First Lady and one of her (currently sober) daughters guest-hosted, and were interviewed on the show. Now, Laura Bush is no garish bulldog–she’s what every 1950’s woman would have hoped from her First Lady . She’s got stereotypical gender roles coming out her perfectly make-uped pores. Talk of her husband’s politics was verboden, and she focused mostly on literacy (primarily childhood literacy). Though she might get a pass because of her old job as a librarian, literacy is the common cause trumpeted by first ladies ever since Martha Washington supported the post-colonial version of No Child Left Behind. (Yuck…people realize that common grammar rules state sentences shouldn’t end on a preposition, right?)

Okay, so the visit seems innocuous enough, but it’s not. Why would Mrs. Bush pick Tuesday? Could it possibly be an attempt to throw a huge contrast out against Hillary Clinton, the rather “Un-FirstLadylike” Senator hoping to win voted in PA? Laura Bush’s stint on Today reinforced the “important issues” women should focus on: reading to their children, dressing snappily, and helping to plan your kid’s weddings (apparently, a Bush daughter is gettin’ hitched).

At one point, the presidential spawn remarked how its hard to teach children to appreciate reading, “especially getting boys to read.” First, it should be noted that the statement is grossly inaccurate–many little boys love to read. It also reinforces the stereotype that rough and tumble boys are incapable of sitting still and reading a book, cover to cover. Second, it suggests that the state of education should be more concerned with getting boys to excel, when in fact copious studies have shown that our educational methods were primarily crafted by males, for males, and put women and girls in the classroom at a strict disadvantage. The angry objections to Today, and complaints about the first lady’s strategic visit to the set of studio one A could go on forever. Basically, the main thrust of this argument is that morning television is a hazy-eye-crusted version of everything that is wrong in the world, served to us before coffee, so we don’t necessarily process all it’s evils. But let’s not dwell–we’ve all got more important things to be getting on with. (Note that preposition!).

Bridges and Tunnels and Junkyards, Oh My!

Posted in Uncategorized by m.snowe on April 20, 2008

In one fitful day, the parental units (more accurately and affectionately, the father/driver) managed to take us through a whirlwind tour of as many New York and New Jersey over- and underwater passages as transport-ably possible.

The final rough estimate:
7 Bridges (3 passed, 4 ridden on),
1 Tunnel,
4 Boroughs,
2 States,
5 or so Navy & Junk yards, including the POW/MIA memorial parkway (an especially apt title for a highway that does give off the distinct and unsettling feeling that you have indeed been consumed and taken hostage by the Brooklyn coast, with little or no hope of return, or at the very best, the prospect of being marooned on an impending Staten Island).

Right before entering the tunnel:
Question: Where are the return directions?
Paternal Answer: We don’t need them, we just go back the way we came.
Question: But aren’t there, like, four one-way streets on here?
Paternal Answer: We’re only going one way.

First
Holland Tunnel (into Manhattan from Jersey).
Side maternal comment:
“Wait, we’re under the river?”

“But how is it so long?”

Second
Williamsburg Bridge (out of Manhattan, after numerous dead ends, a track back down Canal, and a few seconds reflection on the state of shops where some by back ally purses and knicknacks).
Side maternal comment (while on Canal Street): ” So is this Queens?”
Response: “No, Manhattan.”

Maternal further comment: “Is that different?”

Third
Kosciuszko Bridge, from Brooklyn into Queens

Maternal comment: “what about the one in Albany?”
Response: “They’re different.”


Four & Five
Passing the Manhattan Bridge, then the Brooklyn Bridge

Six
Passing multiple navy and junk yards. Note the random American flag. Not sure why we would want to make it perfectly clear that these junk yards are distinctly American. Getting an alternative view of lower Manhattan, and it’s cold steel fortress-ness.

Maternal Comment:”yucky.”

Seven
Verrazano-Narrows Bridge
(you can’t actually tell, but the cars are all going very slow–almost in reverse–in attempts to forgo the disaster that is driving through the alien landmass of Staten Island.)

Eight
Bayonne Bridge. No pictures exist of this bridge, due to disruptions in the atmosphere caused by the combined fumes of Staten Island and New Jersey. Luckily, a fall in cabin pressure did not necessitate the standard dropped yellow oxygen bags. There was no need to first secure the cups over our mouths and noses, and then assist any small children sitting next to us.

Also, debates were held amid Staten Island traffic, the lead being that Bush is not, in fact as stupid as he acts, talks, and overall seems to be. Father, although a staunch democrat, was somewhat defensive of a certain passenger’s insistence that Bush is, in fact, an idiot. But since father was the one who decided to divert said passengers through three additional bridges, an extra hour and a half of traffic, and STATEN ISLAND–all in an attempt to circumvent five minutes of lower Manhattan driving–we can neither confirm nor deny the doubt we have that if we were, as the father suggested, to ask Bush (off the record) whether or not Iraq was a good idea, he would admit it wasn’t.

…But some publishers are pro-choice.

Posted in Uncategorized by m.snowe on April 16, 2008

Here’s the latest from my copyediting book. Read previous posts on this topic here and here.

“The half-title page (bastard title page) displays the main title of the book only. (Sometimes the half-title page is eliminated to save space.”

Who knew they were so cavalier.

Short reflection on Arabian tales (some fake, some imagined)

Posted in Arabian, beast, beauty, King Kong, Sheherazade by m.snowe on April 14, 2008

Scheherazade is an icon of mythic proportions, to be sure. She is the frame around which One Thousand and One Nights takes place; and it is her role as ultimate storyteller that saves her life, and tames the king. Often, the frame of any story, otherwise know as the prelude to the story within a story, is told by a captivating narrator. More often than not, the best narrators in books are the abused, under appreciated, or downtrodden. The storyteller must come to us from a different perspective than the mainstream, and for good reason. No one wants to look in the mirror as they read–they do not want to hear about the commonplace or everyday (that is, unless it’s told in a new and exciting or at the very least intriguing or grotesque way). You see it in books paradoxically written by those who keep the downtrodden trapped in the frames–Uncle Remus, Sheherazade–they all share a common thread of subjugation or slavery, and the stories they weave make it implicit, and yet at the same time, these stories are in fact written by the captors (who strike similar reliefs to the beasts or villainous men of the story). Is this, in some creative fashion, an apology–a subconscious literary mea culpa? Or is it an argument for keeping people down, through the creative and artistic outlets–a justification of sorts?

It seems, through the frame, that literary masters superimpose their mastery on the downtrodden. But it’s not just the frame. While (in a uncharacteristically bored moment) watching the 2005 version (Peter Jackson’s) King Kong, the following quote was presented:
“And lo! The Beast looked upon the face of Beauty, and it stayed its hand from killing. And from that day, it was as one dead.”

The quote claimed to have been sourced from “an Arabian proverb,” when in fact, as this archived NYTimes article explains, it was originally fabricated as an old proverb by Marian C. Cooper, the original writer of the King Kong story. There are multiple things wrong with this fake proverb, number one being the warning against a beautiful woman’s deception and the probability of impotence in it’s wake. The other is the notion that a beautiful woman has some secret store of power that men cannot resist–even the most beastly of them. What is so appalling about attributing women with such a gift of control, you might ask? Well, it is shuttered about with deception. It implies that women use guile, and their significance relies solely on their appearance. Also, it implies that women are somehow “above” the affairs of men. And we all know about pedestals… and the quote:
“The pedestal upon which women have been placed has all too often, upon closer examination, been revealed as a cage.”

And yet, Jackson’s movie ends with the quote: (it wasn’t the airplanes) “it was Beauty killed the Beast.” Despite all her power as a potential savior, the tragic end and final words condemn the “beauty,” while simultaneously drawing the viewer’s attention away from the fact that she, like Kong, suffered as a victim in a plot acted upon her. His other-worldy strangeness, and her womanly beauty were both attributes to be exploited, not celebrated

More Stereotypical Manuscript

Posted in Copyediting, grammar, homophobia, sexism by m.snowe on April 11, 2008

Here are some more submitted stereotypes in copyediting language/rules:

The Gay Recluse writes:
More on the gay front than sexist, but! How about “homo panic”: failure to use any adverbs ever for fear of being labeled a queen. (He offered pathetically.)

Not pathetic at all! In fact, combing a few copyediting books/websites, it’s clear that the makers of these rules (and general grammar rules) were homophobic:

“Querying” : This word is an obvious allusion to Queer–and of course, the textbook warns all future copyeditors:
“Do not query often…Queries should never be sarcastic, snide or argumentative.”

“Homophones”: (Words pronounced identically or quite similarly but spelled differently) “Be able to spot and eliminate troublesome pairs”

And that’s not all. Grammar seems to be quite conservative.

Hence, the definition of copulative verbs:
“verbs that express a state of being, rather than an action.”

Interestingly, the verb “copulate” means: to engage in sexual intercourse. The grammarians have decided that to have sex is a state of being, not an action. Or perhaps they have a special regard for Sting and his Tantric practices?

Sexist Copyediting Rules

Posted in Copyediting, new terms, sexist by m.snowe on April 10, 2008

Who knew that even the bookmakers are a part of the patriarchy!

Taken from a manuscript copyediting website:

“A “widow” is the last line of a paragraph that appears alone at the top of a page. An “orphan” is the first line of a paragraph that appears alone at the bottom of a page.”

Instructions from manuscript prep document:

“Avoid ‘widows and orphans’: that is, headings, single words, or single lines of text that dangle, separated from the rest of the section to which they belong, at the top or bottom of a page. You may insert additional line spaces to avoid such occurrences.”

While it’s understandable that widows and orphans aren’t exactly wanted personages in society, and there are obvious connotations of incompleteness and sadness, why is it only women and children that get abused, via manuscript preparation requirements?

Here are some healthy, equally-abusive suggestions for manuscript problem terms:

Please avoid the following common manuscript problems:

Widowers: text that stands flush right in the middle of the page, and seems deeply unconnected to the rest of the text (either by differing font or font size), and yet tries strenuously to fit in.

Mid-lifers: unnecessary breaks in text flow accompanied by extravagant design images or colored text vehicles.

Machomarks: overly elaborate and masculinized sentences sectioned off for extra attention (by phallic-shaped bullets or charts), even though the facts therein are void of any intellectual value or attractiveness.

Asshole: Random termination of a paragraph without explanation, often followed by tense diction and sense of impropriety.

Snobs: Sentences constructed with ten or more rather overly erudite, pithy adjectives to describe the banal.

ED Guys: Incomplete sentences.

Write in with other suggestions!

Olympiadic Problems

Posted in 1936, China, olympics, politics, sports by m.snowe on April 9, 2008

The Olympics thrive on conflict–that’s essentially what they’re all about anyways–not-so-friendly competition that masquerades as international good-sportsmanship. Some Americans felt good/smug about Jesse Owens winning 4 gold medals while in Germany during Hitler’s reign in 1936, as the dictator was proclaiming the supremacy of the “Aryan race.” Yet, on returning home, Owens was still subjected to all the racial prejudices that plagued the US. Ultimately, neither side is free from blame, or can take the completely ethical highroad. The US was embroiled in a deep debate prior to the 1936 games as to whether or not they would boycott, due to Hitler’s regime. The US decided to participate, the main argument being that sports should be free from politics. Also, one must take into consideration the US policy of non-involvement before entering WWII. In fact, despite many nation’s internal debates about whether or not to send athletes, the Berlin Olympics (up until that time) had the highest number of participating nations. But really, can we claim that politics and sports are so divergent? Wasn’t it a mere month or so ago that baseball players were testifying in congress? Can a country that claims to invest so much in overseas peace and “freedom” really claim the rule of separation of sports (a.k.a. the new church) and state?

There are two main arguments in the newest debate concerning boycotting the Beijing summer Olympics, or at the very least, boycotting the ceremonial opening. The first is the obvious throwback to Berlin, currently trumpeted by Bush: he aligns with Chinese officials, and plans on attending the ceremony, citing international cooperation over any political concerns/issues. French and German officials plan on boycotting the opening, though the Brit’s Gordon Brown still plans on attending. Just as a precursor to the problems that might present themselves as the games near, the Olympic torch relay has meet with angry protesters in England, France, and California. The torch actually had to be held at an “undisclosed location” while in the US, and the general CIA-like feeling and rendition-style atmosphere is not helping the international acclaim of this year’s games, scheduled to start on 08-08-08. The last time something notable was held at an “undisclosed location” it was Dick Cheney–and I think most wished he would have stayed there to grow mold in undisturbed peace and utter incapability. But here’s the problem with Bush’s stance: we can no longer claim neutrality in world affairs, like Roosevelt did in 1936. This is not ala carte globalization–we’ve (for better or worse) taken the moral high ground in terms of the “war on terror” and “fighting for freedom and democratic society.” We might be able to strategically ignore a tiny country with problems in the middle of South America (probably due to it’s lack of oil). But we can’t pick and choose what types of events warrant our support or action in terms of democracy. Aren’t we still boycotting Cuba?…but then again, Cuba doesn’t manufacture nearly as many lead-laced children’s playthings that the US so enjoys receiving from China. China is a major world power, and it’s only going to grow. But the political problems that China faces are overt, and they’re gaining notice with the current protests in/about Tibet.

The claim that sports should be a non-political endeavor is absolute fiction. Politics, prejudice, and an ingrained attitude of superiority have all mixed together to create an Olympic system that has, until very recently, been highly discriminatory (it’s still discriminatory, but not as much nowadays). Sports like to consider themselves as drama-free in terms of the outside world (and most importantly politics) because that way, sports get to make up their own rules. And then, once rules are put in place to regulate them, sports and the sports authorities try in all seriousness to subvert the rules in whatever ways possible. Sports is increasingly political, because sports are no longer the lazy-day occupation of Saturday afternoons–they involve the same themes that inculcate political scandal: Drugs, sex, lies, MONEY, and fame.

Let’s take one “for instance” where the Olympics and the sporting community allowed a prejudiced view to continue for years, unabated. To think that national politics/feeling don’tfind their way into sports and vise-versa is insane–but people believe it. In fact, without reading about gender and sports, the practice about to be explained concerning Olympic policy is not widely known, or “politicized” if you will.

“Gender Verification.” This practice was performed only on women (or those participating in women’s events in the Olympics, and some other major sporting events). In 1966, Olympic officials felt that it was necessary for all female athletes in the games to be “inspected” by officials in order to prove their sex (to make sure that men were not trying to compete as women). It is also important to remember that men were not tested to make sure they were, in fact, men. This is inherently political because it goes against women’s basic rights as equals and it assumes: A. Women would not be athletic enough to pass as men, and B. Men are automatically better athletes than all women, so the incentive to try and win in a female competition would be high.

Not only is the idea of testing detestable–but the methods were also inhumane. The female athletes would have to strip down, and literally prove their sexuality by having their genitalia inspected. The tests, while despicable, were actually quite unscientific–because someone can look like a woman, but in fact be a man in terms of hormones and chromosomes–and so after a rather ungracious start, the Olympic officials decided it would be better to conduct genetic testing (still on women only) to see if the athletes were women. These tests relied on analyzing the X and Y chromosomes. XX: female, XY: male. But it isn’t so simple. Some people have extra chromosomes, and it causes different issues in terms of sex/gender determination, those being people that have XXY, or those who have a combination of XXY cells and a singular X chromosomes. So some women, who were women, turned out in the tests to be male, causing quite an uproar in the athletic community, and causing many women political, social, and psychological harm. It is also important to note that this was not the only type of gender-stereotype-influenced testing. Before the doping scandals of today, it was women who were considered more likely to inject steroids into their buttocks (because they were “weaker” than men and could use the extra help, apparently). Women, especially those participating in collegiate sports, were subject to random drug tests, while their male counterparts were not. This was happening all throughout the 80s and early 90s. Only now is steroid testing a huge part of male sports.

But the real shocker is this: Gender Verification continued up until the 2000 Sydney Olympics. From 1966 to 2000, women were either required to drop trow in front of doctors and other players, or ordered to take a cotton swap to their cheek cells in order to compete, while men waltzed in, test-free. These tests were not only shame-inducing, they ruined lives by determining that some women were not “in fact” women, and subjecting them to public and private humiliations.

The Olympics are fraught with politics, discriminatory practices, and every other injustice that plagues all the nation states. To claim that a global event with many nations involved can occupy a Utopian space of neutrality is inconceivable. The real question is whether or not one issue warrants pulling back the veneer of political myopia and actually making a boycott happen. If we didn’t do it for Hitler, the odds aren’t in our favor for boycotting The People’s Republic.

Abort Missions

Posted in Abortion, Iraqi Women, Popline, US censorship by m.snowe on April 6, 2008

Two horrible, yet altogether unsurprising stories released this week.

The first is sadly one more notch on a string of Bush Administration armchair-medical-politicking. Now, everyone knows that the Bushies like to block stem-cell research, propel far-right abstinence only sex ed programs into the mainstream, and appoint evil supreme court dictators in hopes of overturning Roe v. Wade–but this story on blocking mere information takes the big-brother-is watching-and-restricting cake. Popline, a search engine of articles and research findings on reproductive health, is run by the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and the United States Agency for International Development. At the height of concealment, the database decided to block over 25,000 scholarly articles on abortion. The search engine has been unblocked following the uproar, but as of last Thursday, “a search on “abortion” was producing only the message “No records found by latest query.” Just completing a search, here are the results you can now receive, 26,383 records on abortion. What still strikes the viewer are the chosen headliners–mostly reports of the ills of abortion in certain countries, or the apparent negative effects. Something tells us that these reports, though organized by “most viewed” are not as innocently placed as might be hoped.

It is shocking that a country supposedly committed to freedom and most especially freedom of information would block such a benign query. Anyone can go on the internet and run a quick search, and PoP! you now know exactly how to construct a pipe bomb. But you want learn about abortion? Well, that’s too bad–you can’t even get the science behind it. Some behind the Popline search restriction said they had to restrict the search because it was government funded, and is part of the Bush Administration’s implemented policy that mirrors Regan’s crazy politics:
“On January 22, 2001, President George W. Bush announced reinstatement of the so-called Mexico City policy that required non-governmental organizations to “agree as a condition of their receipt of Federal funds that such organizations would neither perform nor actively promote abortion as a method of family planning in other nations.” The President is committed to maintaining the $425 million funding level provided for in the FY 2001 appropriation because he knows that one of the best ways to prevent abortion is by providing quality voluntary family planning services.”
It’s another case of “do what we say but not what we do”–apparently, like Geneva Rules, we can tell others what is restricted and yet go against our own practices. Roe v. Wade upholds abortion rights, and yet we tell other nations not to abort, or even promote abortion. International wartime rules say that American troops cannot be tortured overseas (and that goes for everyone), but the US has no trouble disregarding that policy against foreigners when it sees fit. Instead of, oh, maybe watching out for people building bombs from internet-gained advice, or stopping people for forming internet alliances to terrorize the US, Bush and his cronies were too busy thinking about the best ways to make sure women would stay barefoot and pregnant. Because we all know that a women in charge of her own reproductive destiny, and who can read up on all the information she needs, is much more fearsome a creature to behold than Al Qaeda. But we digress.

Speaking of the war, Newsweek has an altogether equally unsurprising article on the toll US alliances with Iraqi tribal fighters has taken on Iraqi women. In order to be fair, this first comment must be made: women don’t get a fair shake in Iraq, regardless of who is ruling them, but this turn of events is definitely not granting Iraqi women any favors.
This is a representative quote that is worth dissecting:
“But at present, U.S. forces are too pleased by the sharp drop in jihadist attacks to lose sleep over things like gender issues.”
Yes, ending violence is key–but at what price? Gender issues aren’t the only ones that sit serenely below the mini-totalitarian regimes the US is quietly allowing to rule in exchange for relative (0r rather assumed) “peace.” We entered under the pretenses (false or no) of getting rid of Saddam, and yet, we are perfectly complacent about birthing hundreds, if not thousands of “mini-Saddams” that rule like feudal lords across the country in return for simulated peace–when all we are really receiving is quiet revolutions and secret mass graves, extremely similar to Hussein’s rule a few years ago. Each area varies in it’s brutalization of women, but even in the years before the war, women were allowed to attend university and hold a few more jobs than they do now. Now, the universities are barring women, and the rules on head covering and females in public spaces are being enforced to a much greater degree. Even women who would like to practice mourning by wearing black are not allowed to wear certain colors at certain times. Granted, Western views on gender equality will probably never fully take root in Iraq, and it’s unfair to judge by Western values–but this is a backwards turn, and is just one aspect of Iraqi life that is suffering because of alliances that seem to benefit people now, but must be analyzed as to what the effects might be years down the road. Sometimes, the most noble and effective methods of attacking violence is with non-violence. The anniversary of MLK Jr’s assassination should leave us in a reflective mood. Violence begets more, and ignorance breeds the same.

racist trains and homophobic rails

Posted in Uncategorized by m.snowe on April 3, 2008

It never hurts to point out the obvious when often it is so obvious we hardly recognize it, or it blends into that congealed goo of the everyday mess. Alas, because something makes it self available to be “easily seen” as the word obvious implies, that doesn’t give it the ultimate right to natural observance & recognition. And usually, when something obvious finally demands our attention–it smacks with the clarity of a thousand high-beam headlights.

Yesterday, one observation was recorded, and summarily, it goes like this: “The Bayonne flyer, (insert chuckle), more like ‘the white flyer‘–that train skips all the black neighborhoods.”

Okay, so this little quote might need some background. Setting: Jersey City, New Jersey. Transport: The Hudson-Bergen Light Rail. This above ground train makes stops from Hoboken to Bayonne, and is a relatively new addition to the area (ten to twenty years old). Stops have been added, and construction in the area is rampant–new high-rise apartments are being built and refurbished, and the downtown business district of Jersey City is a newly revamped, pristine center of finance–Morgan Stanley, Citigroup, Bank of America, and JP Morgan Chase all have some big, ominous buildings clustered together like a gang of four, blocking out the run-down, financially bankrupt foil a mile or so away. The argument is hard here, because the neighborhood is clean and developed, but it’s mostly a Monday through Friday, 9-5pm crowd. The luxurious buildings and fancy apre work bars lay vacant and unused during the weekend. Discarded office memos blow down tree lined boulevards like tumbleweeds on a Saturday afternoon. The “Bayonne Flyer” is a train that is express service, and it goes in both directions, but it only stops in the business district, Hoboken, and park and ride areas. Now, having observed for many months, it can be concluded that the Flyer is multicultural, for sure. But these so-called “flyers” are predominantly business types, and yes, your average white middle class yuppies. The contrast is pronounced between the flyers, however, and other trains, such as the West Side Avenue train, which runs local, at every stop. Even the most untrained, unfamiliar eye would see that on two different trains, such as the Flyer and the West Side Ave trains, the riders are varied–usually the divergences are noticable in terms of race, age, and class. This changes depending on the day of the week, and the time of day. But what is most notable is that the Bayonne Flyer only attracts people of a certain race and income range–that being white and upper middle. There are obviously exceptions, such as trips to areas within the Bayonne Flyer stops (there is a mall and grocery store).

The men talking this over, about the “whiteness” of the Bayonne flyer, and it’s discriminatory stopping, were black. But that obviously doesn’t make a difference. What really matters about their observation is the injustice of it all. The West Side trains are just as busy, but they don’t skip the “white stops” on the way, making their travel equally as fast as the “Flyer.” If the NJ transit authority is going to segregate the light rail, they might as well go full tilt and create a West Side Flyer. It is utterly ridiculous to pass this off as consumer needs driven transportation–the plain-as-day truth is that the businesspeople moved into Jersey City and decided to take it over–white people are the minority of residents in Jersey City, yet it’s their preferences that are quietly, yet ever so overtly seeping into a town full of residents of a plethora or races and ethnicities. It’s wonderful, the diversity: South American, Indian, Chinese, African American, Middle Eastern, etc. It’s enjoyable to go shopping in a city where people speak many languages and other cultures are celebrated–yet the boring-as-vanilla-starbuck’s-latte lifestyle is creeping in, and it’s disturbing. Especially because these half-caff-no-foamers don’t live in Jersey City. If you buy/rent a place, you should get to participate in the dialogue. But dictation from Paramus is no good. And it’s so obvious.

Another disturbing and blatantly imbecile story here. What this woman is all about beats the living, breathing, cognitive daylights out of most people, for sure. As a preliminary argument, remember this:
1. Church and State separation, please?
2. Terrorists kill out of hatred, it’s commonly accepted that love is a bit different (no matter what kind)
3. Where are these studies?
4. This woman is ignorant as dirt. (sorry, dirt–we didn’t mean it!)