Sunday, February 27, 2011

Gay Agenda Advances

Holy feather boa, Batman, what a great week it's been for teh Gayz. I mean, srsly, not only do we have the Obama administration declaring it will no longer defend the constitutionality of the odious and patently unconstitutional Defense of Marriage Act in court and the Maryland legislature on the brink of legalizing same-sex marriage right here in Roxie's World, but with the announcement Friday that Jeremy Bernard is taking over as White House social secretary, it would appear that the nation has its first official Sassy Gay Friend!

(Photo Credit: Washington Post. WaPo caption: The new White House social secretary will be Jeremy Bernard, left with ex-partner Rufus Gifford in 2009. He will be the first male and openly gay person in that job. [Roxie's World's bonus comment on the photo: The beagle's name is Lucas. Gifford got custody of him in the split from Bernard.])

Several burning questions arise from this big fat rainbow of happy gay news, but surely the most important is,
How in the name of dog did the republic survive for 235 years without an official Sassy Gay Friend? 
Think about it, my pretties. Imagine all the calamities that might have been avoided had we only had a First Fag keeping watch over the nation's taste: a bombastic, unsingable national anthem; a national color combo that only an (un-gay) sailor could love; a presidential residence that hasn't hosted a tea dance since the Buchanan administration; the Nixon years. Won't we all sleep more peacefully knowing that the social and cultural life of the White House will be managed by a wealthy Texas-born mo known for his "wild" sense of humor and his obsessive attention to detail? Of course we will, darlings. You need an event planner, you turn to the people who invented the field. You've got a job that requires a tricky combination of charm, diplomacy, and logistical wizardry, you turn to a community that survived centuries of prejudice and oppression by cultivating precisely such skills. Oh, and if a certain attractive member of that community also has deep connections to the prickly fat-cat donors you'll need to seduce all over again in order to get re-elected, well, so much the better. A bit of lavender icing on the cake, as it were.

You can't blame us for feeling a little giddy in the face of all this news, some of which ranks as genuinely amazing. Heck, even our queer legal-eagle pals up at the Columbia Center for Gender and Sexuality Law seem to have gone a bit daft with excitement. Earlier this week, the Center's usually super-serious blog posted a hilarious Xtranormal cartoon staging a conversation about marriage between Supreme Court (In)Justice Antonin Scalia and Yale uber-queer Michael Warner. (Click on that link. Your week will go better if you spend a couple of minutes entertaining the thought of Warner and Scalia standing in an alley calmly debating how a variety of non-procreative sex practices fit into their notions of a good life.)

You also can't blame us for feeling mighty proud of the brave band of openly gay Maryland legislators who testified before the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday about what the pending marriage equality bill would mean to their lives and relationships. Watch this vid, which offers snippets of all their testimonies, including that of Heather Mizeur, who represents Roxie's World in the House of Delegates. (H/T Dan Furmansky.)

We've said it before, and we will no doubt say it again: Marriage is not the be-all and end-all for LGBT equality. It is not the battle we would have chosen for queers in the 21st century, but it has emerged as the dominant civil rights issue of our time. It is not a battle we can afford to lose or choose to ignore, no matter how skeptical we are about the institution of marriage and the set of privileges tied to it. Don't like marriage? Then don't enter into one, but don't kid yourself that that "choice" means anything if you don't have the same rights straight citizens have vis-à-vis civil marriage. (We reflected some on this matter in last year's post in commemoration of Moose and Goose's anniversary.)

The arc of the moral universe bent a little closer toward justice this week in the United States. That's a good thing, and we offer a hearty PAWS UP to all the local and national heroes who put their hands on the arc and pushed it in the right direction. Peace out.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Stained Glass

Oh, look. Another pretty. pic. for the Glass. and. Glasses. Collection. The Department of Tropes and Leisure will be thrilled. They love nothing better than a theme party.

(Photo Credit: Moose, on her iPhone, somewhere in Jersey, 2/20/11)

Sweet dreams, my pretties. It's late Sunday night, and the moms have had a long, happy weekend visiting the dearest of dear friends back in their old stomping grounds. The winds were fierce, but the company was grand. Time to catch some Zs and get ready for the work week.

Peace out, and may you be rich in friends to whom you would say, "Grow old along with me."
Whatever fate decrees,
We will see it through,
For our love is true
Dog bless our love. Dog bless our love.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Dr. Stimpson Declined to Comment

So we will comment for her, in the manner of our most excellent blog buddy, Historiann, as a project for the brand new blog, The Pseudonym Exchange (for those times when your own pseudonym just won't do).

Why? Because, darlings, some jobs call for a lasso, not a leash. Read on.
* * *
Veteran (by which I mean antediluvian and, apparently, anti-a whole bunch of other things) CBS newsman Morley Safer is "sorry" that a nasty little dispute over gender inside an exclusive Manhattan club called the Century Association (whose website, when we checked, was, conVENiently, "temporarily down for maintenance") has "become public." Translation: I am a big dumb wanker, and now everybody knows it! Poor me! No fair!

The New York Times declares that Safer has "ruffle[d] feathers" inside the club (whose members include -- get this! -- Henry Kissinger, Chuck Close, and Meryl Streep) in a series of e-mails over whether the Century should sever its ties to an all-male club in London, the Garrick, which permits women to enter only in the company of a man -- presumably, you know, a male member. No word on what Hank, Chuck, or la Meryl thought about the matter, but Safer, who strongly supported maintaining the club's relationship with the Garrick, went ballistic on Centurion Catharine R. Stimpson (English prof at NYU, founding editor of Signs, and a former president of the MLA) after Stimpson joked in an e-mail about taking the risk of seeming "whining and self-pitying" and then going on to list "10 unpleasant ways that she had been described by fellow Centurions because she advocated cutting ties with the Garrick." (Oh, what Historiann would not give to see that list!) Safer, according to the Times, "pounced" on Stimpson's joking self-description in his reply, which the Times somehow obtained, despite "club rules [that] strictly prohibit members from discussing internal matters with the news media." See if you agree that "pounce" is the right word:
“You’ve taken the risk and indeed you are as you describe: ‘whining and self pitying,’ ” he wrote to Dr. Stimpson and others. “You may also add to that, humorless and vindictive. And how about. Lacking in the common decency of that ancient saw: ‘Live and let live.’ So you can add nosy to those qualities that you catalog with such pride.”
Wow, Morley, you can haz misogyny much? Whining, self pitying, humorless, vindictive, lacking in common decency, nosy. How could you have left deep-voiced, castrating, and snake-haired out of your toxic stew of woman-hating imagery? Don't hold back, Morley! Let the old girl have it, why don't ya?

Now, in fairness to Mr. Safer, Historiann is compelled to acknowledge that Stimpson and women generally were not the only targets of his venomous rage. Earlier, in defending the right of clubs to maintain discriminatory policies, Safer engaged in a classic bit of slippery-slope rhetoric that is a hallmark of violated privilege. Again, as the Times reports it:
“What will be next?” he asked. “Disassociation with clubs that do not cater to vegans on their menus? Kosher dining rooms? Special facilities for nudists and transsexuals? Abolition of ‘Centurion’ to describe our members, given that the term is, according to the OED, derived from the all-male Roman army?”
Apologies to all of my Jewish, vegan, nudist, transsexual readers -- I should have put a trigger warning for rank stupidity ahead of that quote, I suppose.

What will be next? Gosh, Mr. Safer, I don't know. Perhaps you'll be run out of town like veteran UPI journalist Helen Thomas was after she made inflammatory remarks about Israel last year. Or perhaps you won't be, since male privilege was, last time we checked, still alive and well and doing a fine job of protecting members of the club whose "private" musings become uncomfortably public.

Here's what I do know, big fella: Next time Historiann comes down from the high desert and heads to the Big Apple, she just might drop by the Century, lasso in hand, to knock back a couple of pisco sours with Meryl and Kate. But don't you worry your (not so) pretty little head -- We and our lady parts will keep our distance from you and Kissinger. You two can drink port and look up words in the OED until H-E-Double Toothpicks freezes over. Me and the feminazi cowgirls got some serious work to do.

So, tell me, readers: What buttons does the sorry saga of Safer, Stimpson, and the Century push for you? Share your stories of Dinosaurs Still Roaming the Earth in comments, will you? I've got to feed the horses, clean the barn, and run six miles up a mountain and back before class this afternoon. Talk amongst yourselves and I'll check back in later to see how the revolution is progressing.

(Image and Inspiration Credits: Historiann)

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Imitation Is the Sincerest Form of Bloggery

A Note from Moose to a Sister in Pseudonymity

Dear Dr. Crazy,

Could I borrow your pseudonym for awhile? I mean, I like mine just fine, despite the obvious challenges of trying to be taken seriously while impersonating a dead dog. Still, I'm not complaining. The old sweater really does feel pretty comfy, if you know what I mean -- and I know you do. Anyhoo, I was hoping we could come up with some kind of barter arrangement whereby I might borrow your moniker from time to time in exchange for, well, maybe delicious low-fat recipes, since I have followed your fine example and embraced a healthy new Lifestyle Adjustment Program. (It's going great, thanks, but do you think there is any correlation between blogging and the need for such adjustments? I have found myself wondering about that a lot recently, while pedaling away on the stationary bike in the basement and not blogging.)

Here's the thing, Dr. C.: Life feels pretty fricking Crazy right now, which is why I'm thinking your pseudonym might be right at home here in our quirky little corner of the blogosphere. If we can't have your name, maybe we'll just borrow a mode you use from time to time of ticking off a list of things you have to do. Your lists both impress and exhaust us, but I'm realizing that my own calendar lately has been jam-packed with meetings, tasks, and Super-Important Things to Do. For instance, in the last week, I have:
This is all in addition to the usual spring tasks of teaching, gearing up for the (fabulous!) lecture series and symposium my program annually organizes, and watching basketball. Lots and lots of basketball. Hey, a girl can't work all the time, and there's stuff worth watching in the Comcastle these days.

It's the Crazy-ness of spring, I guess, exacerbated in my case by bio-familial matters that are currently absorbing a certain amount of time and a great deal of emotional energy. For now, I am finding it impossible to blog about those matters, even from behind the protective shield of my -- or your! -- pseudonym. You might have noticed that I held back in the. recent. conversation. about. pseudonymity in the academic blogosphere, sparked, in part, by the Journal of Women's History roundtable on feminist blogging to which I and the real people behind Tenured Radical and Historiann contributed. I stayed out of the fray in part because I felt I had addressed the matter in the piece I contributed to the roundtable, "The Madwoman With a Laptop: Notes Toward a Literary Prehistory of Academic Fem Blogging." In explaining the significance of my title's allusion to Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar's monumental reassessment of 19th-century women's literature, I argued for the enduring attraction of pseudonymity, even for those of us who have published books under our real names: 
[T]he Madwoman With a Laptop has discovered the lure of publishing outside the usual channels as someone other than her (public, official, professional) self. Her words are, by design, un-authorized, disowned, but it is from this self imposed otherness, this cultivated marginality that they derive their subversive force. Her speech echoes the ravings of the hidden hysteric, the whispers of the churchwomen after the service, the gossip of friends from girlhood, the raunchy wisdom of middle-aged women talking sex, pleasure, menopause. There is a lot of Emily Dickinson in this postmodern Madwoman, playing fast and loose with identity, reveling in the space opened up by declaring oneself a delighted “Nobody” rather than a dreary “Somebody.”
Here is my bottom line on the matters of trust and truth that always seem to come up in these discussions of pseudonymity: A liar will lie even if his real name is attached to the words he speaks. (See, for example, Reagan, Ronald W., who once accidentally declared that "Facts are stupid things," the only true thing he ever said.) A truth-teller, on the other hand, will tell you the truth no matter what he calls himself. (See, for example, the searingly honest books published under the fake name of Mark Twain.) When it comes to evaluating the veracity of what you read in the blogosphere, you'd be well advised, as D. H. Lawrence might have said if he had lived to surf the Interwebs, to trust the blog, not the blogger. ("Never trust the artist, trust the tale," Lawrence wrote in Studies in Classic American Literature. "The proper function of a critic is to save the tale from the artist who created it.") Truth is more than mere facts, and a slanted telling of the truth may be the most effective means of conveying it. What's in a name? A lot, but nothing close to the whole truth.

And yet: The comfort of my assumed name is not enough to permit me to speak freely of those bio-familial matters to which I alluded earlier. Not yet anyway, not even here in a world called into being nearly five years ago by love and the threat of loss.  Bear with me, darlings. I don't mean to be cryptic or coy. I am trying to explain why posting has been light around here lately. I am edging my way forward on what feels like new terrain, trying to figure out how much I can or should reveal in this space of public/private intimacy. It isn't easy. In fact, it's a little Crazy-making.

For now, I will let a picture stand in for all the words I am not prepared to write. It's borrowed from a 2007 piece called  "The Impossibility of February," from artist Maira Kalman's gorgeous illustrated blog on the New York Times website. I offer it with love for a woman who, alas, does not have a little dog to be her faithful companion in illness. We got your back, Mom. I swear to dog.
Yours sincerely,

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Fight the Power

A region rocked by threats of violence. Concern about how police will react if students take to the streets, set fires, destroy property. Will there be more beatings? More dubious arrests?

We're talking Cairo, right, weighing in at last on the small matter of the whole future of Egypt and perhaps the Middle East being at stake? Oh, heck no, kids! We're talking College Park, where it's officially "Beat Duke Week," as the Non-Lady Terps prepare to take on the Dark Overlords of Durham tomorrow night. QTU administrators, burned (ahem!) by negative press coverage of student riots celebrations that have followed recent Duke games, are being proactive this time in trying to manage the violence youthful exuberance likely to erupt. There are tee-shirts! Student marshals! A sanctioned bonfire! Holy-moly, turtles, there's even a prayer rally!

Moose thought that last bit was an especially nice touch, figuring the point was to try to commandeer the support of the Almighty in the effort to defeat the third-ranked Overlords, who got spanked hard by unranked St. John's at Madison Square Garden this past Saturday. I mean, come on, sports fans, Jordan Williams can't do it all on his own, can he? Anyway, turns out the prayer rally is for safety and sportsmanship, not for an effective perimeter defense, but Moose is hoping one of the faithful will sneak in a tiny request for the latter along with the former. Shoot, as long you've got the Big Guy on the line, you might as well go for it, right?

Do we need to make it clear that we don't take lightly these concerns about public safety and reputation? Do we need to say that of course we hope students will go bonkers in their expressions of public happiness or disappointment without breaking laws -- and that this time the local constabulary won't decide to kick the crap out of kids who don't appear to be doing anything wrong? Fine. We said it. Now, can we get back to figuring out how the gritty yet inconsistent Non-Lady Terps are going to crush the Evil Empire? We've got a game to win, people, and I've got two words for you: free throws.  

Peace out, and may good conquer evil, always and everywhere.

(Photo Credit: Terrell N. Roberts, via. William Wang alleged he received these wounds in a confrontation with Prince George's County Police after a Maryland-Duke basketball game on March 4, 2010.)