Thursday, August 10, 2006

Thirty-something Soft-Porn Empire Brats Gone Wild?

I never thought twice about the man behind Girls Gone Wild 'til this morning. Then Susie Bright led me here:

LA Times, Girls Gone Wild producer & Anger Management

You must read this. You must read the whole thing, to the last lines.

Can you say, 'Entitlement?'

But after reading this I think that maybe Ms. Hoffman of the LA Times proves that the pen is indeed mightier.


Atena

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Homework...

So - last week I said:
Consider it a homework assignment: Say something, make some vocal statement or visible action about how you feel. Dissent must been heard or seen if it's going to make any difference. If no one hears it or sees it, then it can't do anyone any good. Say something to someone who may not or does not agree. Let someone know that you agree with them. We have to connect. I give you a week to complete this assignment. Everyone who completes it gets an 'A'. Creativity earns an 'A+ '.

Well, the due date was last Friday, but I generously extended the assignment, and now I wanna see what you all have been doing/saying to express your dissatisfaction with what's happening in our country and the world at large (assuming that you are dissatisfied, which you should be).

But fair's fair - I'll report mine first:

Honestly, after I put this out there I had no real idea what to do. Blogging has been my way of getting ideas out into the world. So finding a way to get a clear, visible message out to people in my daily circles, face-to-face, was a bit of a conundrum. Well, I ended up going the DIY, put your politics-where-your-body-is-route. My first thought was to write something in permanent ink across my forehead. I was seriously considering doing it in time for a birthday party we were going to, but I forgot. Then I realized I didn't necessarily feel good about Sharpie pen chemicals leaching into my breastmilk through my skin. I know that our bodies are absorbing all kinds of chemicals all of the time, but I'll do what I can to lessen the load.

So I on my way to go for a walk with a mamabuddy of mine, I quickly (but legibly) drew some pro-love, anti-killing slogans on medical tape, and then taped them across a few of the more prominent parts of my body (i.e. breasts, butt and back). The slogans included:

'OPPOSE the SLAUGHTER of ANY Innocent Humans!!!'
'There is value in every life'
'Love can be radical action'
'It is WRONG to kill innocent people in any circumstance'

I had my buddy Andrea take pics with her camera phone, but the images haven't reached my inbox yet. I'll post them as soon as they come through. The images make the account more interesting, but it's the action that matters.

It felt good to have my feelings out there for people to see, though I kept forgetting I was wearing them while we were out among people. They didn't garner any negative responses. I would have liked someone to have asked me about them, though. Alas - perhaps I sparked some dialog in someone else's world. Sometimes we don't get to know if we've made a difference.

So, now, where's your homework? What have you all been doing? I really want to hear some tales of vocal, visible dissent - share your stories!


Atena

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Hair and things on a Saturday...

Today is a very nice day so far, though when I first got up, I realized about halfway through Stella's breakfast that I was so tired. I tried putting music on, that didn't really help. I eventually had to get up and out - Stella and I went for a walk while her Papa slumbered peacefully, got a nice masala chai on ice from the local café, and strolled about the neighborhood. We tried a new playground (which was nice - lots of running around room and tall, older trees), and eventually, the caffeine kicked in, and I woke up.

I've been reading a lot of blogs this week - it's turned into a bit of a low-grade addiction. There's so freakin' many, just infinite blogoshpere - I love it. I love that there's so much blogging going on that worrying about totally original ideas is pointless, because someone, somewhere is talking about what you're talking about, and that's totally cool! Of course, we all put our own spin on whatever, but I think it's freeing. Spending so much time blogging has really highlighted the whole mama guilt thing for me, though, because practically any time I spend that isn't engaging Stella somehow, part of me feels guilty about it. Intellectually, I know I shouldn't, because I spend all kinds of time reading and talking and nursing and playing, but the guilt lives deep inside. I fight it. It's an ongoing issue. Anyway, I've been having fun with the blog reading, and here's a few of my recent favorites:

Bitch, Ph.D.
Angry Black Bitch
Susie Bright's Blog


The hair issue has been coming up again and again for me. I've been trying to reconcile with my hair, make peace and get into a new groove. I realized that I'll be entering back into the professional sphere, and that I need to "do somethin' with my head" as it were. So I went to Nappturality.com (which is SO AWESOME!), and found some nice natural hair care articles and recipes, and as I was going through it all, I realized the extent to which my hair and me had kind of parted ways.

After I started grad school, I pretty much let my hair go. The program was super-intense, and really, who the fuck has the time? I've never been much for hair care - my own personal hairstyling history is one of suffering and humiliation, so I have a deep aversion to dealing with my hair at all. But when I started my dredlocks (or rather, when Vonetta started my dredlocks), I was so happy to be committing to a hair relationship that I could deal with. Fast-forward 7 years, and I'm in school again, busting my ass, wrapping a scarf around my fuzzy roots and fantasizing about having enough time or money to go to a salon and have it taken care of. On top of that, come 2nd semester, I find out I'm pregnant, and proceed to be so exhausted that the idea of washing and twisting my hair seems like a joke.

So, now I'm making up with my hair - we've enjoyed a couple of lovely herbal rinses together, some shampooing, olive oil and vigorous scalp massage and scratching. Life is better with a happy scalp and clean, well fed dreds. I've also started taking my vitamins again, for healthier scalp, to discourage dandruff.

But I realized, for all of the noble feeling I had about my dreds, I wasn't taking very good care of them (i.e., me). And after spending time reading the stuff on Nappturality.com, I realized that I was still subjecting myself to unnecessary hair terror. I had convinced myself that taking care of my hair could only be an ordeal, that it was a pain and a nuissance and not worth the time, compared to all of the other important things I was doing. I guess I never quite outgrew that piece of hair trauma, and was applying my old feelings to my new hair situation.

I wrote a paper about this during my final year of undergrad. I was supposed to write about a textile, but I didn't find one in time, so I figured my hair was interesting enough to pull off a final paper when I was pressed for time. I recently revised the paper, and since I started that, I've been coming upon hair stories, connections, etc. Among the blogs I've been reading, I've read a couple of good stories - one on The Angry Black Woman's blog, and an excellent post about not touching black women's hair on Anovelista.com. Then yesterday, I got an email from a friend about a documentary that's been made on black women's hair. I'm annoyed, 'cause our computer doesn't do streaming video so well, so I haven't been able to finish watching it (Also, it's in about 5 parts). From what I did see, and from what I read in the comments, there seems to be a lot of focus on how Koreans are taking money from black communities. I can't comment on exactly what the video says about that, but a comment on the general concept:

For fuck's sake. Koreans face discrimination in this country - all people of color do in some form. They are no better and no worse than anyone else, and I seriously doubt they're running a deliberate campaign to keep us down by selling us beauty products. They're running a deliberate campaign to take care of themselves in a country where they could get screwed at any minute, like the rest of us. If people have seriously problems with Koreans (or any non-black people) selling them beauty supplies, nobody says they have to buy the beauty supplies. Go find a black-owned store. If it's worth the complaining, it must be worth the extra trip. Or better still, change your lifestyle, stop perming, lose the extensions, the pressing and curling irons, the gels and sprays, etc... Go au natural, save some cash and invest it. Or save up, start your own beauty supply store, and take that money from the people in your own community (because I guess it's not a waste of our resources if black people sell hair junk to each other). Maybe people should look away from the Koreans (or whomever) and look in there mirror.

Anyway. I actually gotta wrap this up, 'cause we're going to a birthday party, and I should help with the leaving-house prep. Perhaps I'll revisit this later on. It's just been on my mind and I wanted to get my thoughts out.


Peace & hair grease,


Atena

Monday, July 31, 2006

WTF?! of the Day: Baby in Dryer...

Okay - what really alarms me is this: what kinds of stupid, sadistic bullshit are we not even finding out about? If this is what makes the news, what horrible and bizarre child abuse secrets are being kept? Seriously, people, be careful who you leave your kids with. Go read this article, then come back here. It's a short article.

He put the baby in the dryer

Man, what the FUCK? I cannot count the number of ways that this is unacceptable. I don't believe this dude's story for one red hot motherfucking second, and anyone who does needs a good smack. What kind of world do we live in where someone would actually present this kind of excuse and then get out of jail on bail? Seriously, someone should put his ass in the dryer "for a couple of minutes." For the record, if anyone ever attempts any such comparable thing with my child, your ass is so getting kicked. Be ye warned.

Otherwise, the world keeps on turnin'. Today is the second anniversary of our wedding. It's nice, too, 'cause we actually stayed up late talking last night, about our lives and past relationships and whatnot, and I realized that I totally didn't want to stop talking. We did have to cut it short so he could get enough rest for work the next day, plus we were both tired. But it's good to be able to hang out and talk all night with the person you share the mundane everydayness of life with. It's really great to continue learning and discovering things about each other. Besides which, my husband continues to be an excellent partner and friend, as well as a very good father. He's caring, loving, generally pretty awesome and I'm super glad I married him. Love you, babe!

Babychild is napping, and I'm expecting a friend to come over with her little girl. It's hot out, so I appreciate her being willing to walk over. It's nice to have friends in the neighborhood.

Anyway, I should get ready for that. I might write more later today - if not, I'll be back bloggin' soon.


Peace,


Atena

Saturday, July 29, 2006

A Brief Comment on Something that Annoys Me...

I was engaging in a bit of starfuckery this morning, looking up stuff about Ani DiFranco and her recently announced pregnancy (ohmigod ohmigod - I am SO excited! I know, I know, this pregnancy has absolutely nothing to do with me. I don't know Ani personally, I may never see her child, she may not turn out to be a good mother, etc., etc... But, ohmigod - I'm STILL so excited!) and I came across some dude's rocknroll blog. Basically he mentioned her pregnancy, and then went on to suggest that she's done nothing really worth earning a Women of Courage award (which she received from the National Organization for Women - she announced her pregnancy during her acceptance speech). He then proceeded to make some snide comment about Tori Amos along the same lines, the core message being, these women have done little that is useful, certainly nothing courageous or laudable, nothing worthy of honorable recognition.

Now, of course I realize that opinions are like assholes - everybody's got one (my mother always says that), but this kind of thing really does get under my skin a bit. Not just with Ani DiFranco and Tori Amos, but with any left-of-center, female artists who do work that either advocates feminism, or owns its sexuality or generally eschews the idea that women in music can only booty shake or sing sweetly about their desire to stay with their boyfriend forever. There's this pervasive, kind of eye-rolling, smirking thing that happens that I haven't really heard many good reasons for, and that I suspect has a lot more to do with the fact that these ladies are selling out shows and getting paid to rock out (or groove out, or melodically flow out) while the brohemians and wimpsters stand around smirking, wallowing in their irony. Of course, women do it too - for different reasons I suspect, perhaps a need to distance themselves from any notions of "feminism," and the mess that it represents, or also possibly a nagging discomfort about whatever makes these performers seem different from themselves. Male or female, there's a million reasons people can get unecessarily snarky about certain woman artists. I can't try to name them all.

Celebrities are always getting attention and accolades they don't necessarily deserve. At least these two women in particular have done activist work for peace, and farmers' rights, women's rights, etc. and founded and/or supported organizations that actually help people in tangible ways... And it is courageous to speak out publicly against the crimes of this country's government, and to continue to speak out (I'm talking about Ani now). As well as to sing about it. It's so old and so tired, this notion that things are less important and less valuable when a woman does them. And still so prevalent. It's really unfortunate, too, 'cause when we devalue the contributions that women make, then we shortchange ourselves by underestimating and underutilizing our community resources. We don't know what we have, and therefore can't use it. Wasted potential = less progress for the people.

So that's that. Today we're chillin' out. Ian's off working on a movie shoot. My friend Andrea has introduced me to the wonder of pouring RSS feeds into a central location, so for the next week, I'm gonna be obsessed with finding new blogs. I'm kind of bummed, though, because a lot of the ones that I really want aren't being accepted by my Yahoo! homepage. Alas, there's a billion blogs out there, I can find something else I like.

I should probably engage in some homecare. The kitchen is starting to get a bit wild. Gotta make the most of naptime, right? Indeed...

Have a great weekend, everyone! And if you have an RSS homepage, you should feed me in.


Peace,


Atena

Friday, July 28, 2006

Serenity NOW!

Due to the exceedingly, continually developingly disturbing nature of current events, I'm considering renaming this blog 'Serenity NOW!' to help me deal with the stress. But only if I can get a soundbite of Jerry Stiller yelling 'Serenity NOW!' everytime you open the page.

I'm still kind of amazed that Bill Clinton was run through the mill for cheating on his wife, but G.W. has lied and committed who-knows-how-many clearly, undeniably outright criminal acts which have resulted in the deaths of so many people and he's still strutting around with no accountability in sight. It must make me seem ridiculously naive, but still... I can't help it.

I think this is a good indicator of the power of sex in the public sphere. It inflames so many issues, creating a domino effect of fire, blazing the hell out of whatever we happen to be talking about. We know that most of these politicians have a regular afternoon appointment with their favorite working girl, or they're offering their time and money to some talented amateurs. Or you have freaks like South Dakota's Bill Napoli, who's secret skeletons are probably more alarming than I care to imagine (what kind of person goes on national television and says that to qualify for an abortion, a young woman would have to be brutally raped -- as opposed to the gentle, understanding rape we all hope for -- including being sodomized? How does sodomy earn you the right to abortion? Ahhhhhh!). It's deeper than hypocrisy. It's more dangerous, I think. Because it sets us up for a system where in the public arena, a blow job is a bigger threat to the United States than the alienation of the rest of the world and the killing of thousands.

Sex is clearly not the only issue at work here. But how our government handles its business creates the framework for what the public citizens of this nation deem as acceptable or unacceptable, right or wrong; as legal or illegal.

Clearly, we as a nation have few qualms about demonizing and criminalizing sexuality. Remember in 1994 when Dr. Jocelyn Elders lost her job as FUCKING SURGEON GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES after suggesting that masturbation be taught about in schools? There are legislators who are right now trying to criminalize the sale of sex toys. And really - how does it make sense that porn is legal and prostitution is not? And then there's the occupied territory that is our bodies. Women's reproductive decisions are fought over in a kind of civil war, be it the prevention and/or termination of pregnancy or how pregnancy and birth are carried out - there are some people out there doing their damnedest to draw a thin red line that regulates how human reproduction is managed in the arena of the female body, and anything outside of that line becomes a felony.

Speaking of which - the fucking 'Child Custody Protection Act'... God Damn It. You know, it's my plan that in the future, if my daughter should end up with a pregnancy as a teen, that she would come to us (her parents) with it, and that we'd help her work it out. In this day and age, that a fucking lot to hope for. You don't always have that. If you can't, thank God if there's another trustworthy adult who can help you.

Would it be illegal for another underage person to take them across state lines? I'd love it if a movement of 16 and 17-year-old kids started a Planned Parenthood Carpool Network... Ideally for general birth control and sex ed options so they could avoid abortions (I mean, why have one if you don't have to?). I'm totally convinced that with more comprehensive sexuality education, the number of abortions sought will go down.

I have to go pump and shower and stuff. I will leave you with this: If you believe that what is happening in this country and the rest of the world is fucked up, then SAY SOMETHING about it. Consider it a homework assignment: Say something, make some vocal statement or visible action about how you feel. Dissent must been heard or seen if it's going to make any difference. If no one hears it or sees it, then it can't do anyone any good. Say something to someone who may not or does not agree. Let someone know that you agree with them. We have to connect. I give you a week to complete this assignment. Everyone who completes it gets an 'A'. Creativity earns an 'A+ '.

I'll present the results of my assignment next week - please come prepared to share yours as well. Good luck with your audible, visible dissent.


Love,


Atena