Saturday, September 13, 2008

While You Were Out...

Today I have been mostly sleeping, and catching up on the things that happened while I was in the Hot Place. It wasn't that I didn't have internet access, I did... it was just that these things all seemed irrelevant. And probably were.

But they don't feel so here. And so we have:

1. The return of the students.

The neighbourhood is again full of badly parked cars and badly sorted rubbish (I'm thinking of offering lessons in both), and Tesco is again full of young people sporting tiny iPods and huge hair and buying Taboo and Doritos. One lot of our neighbours are mostly the same as last year's, and they were generally ok, but the other side are new. We hated their predecessors, but one ought to show willing, so we went round to introduce ourselves. They assured us that they were 'just five girls', were quiet and hard working, and will be sure to let us know if they have any parties. Splendid, we said. We'll get on fine then. And I hope it's true. In my mind they are already Posh Caroline, Ginger Caroline, Sporty Caroline, Scary Caroline and Baby Caroline.

2. Google Chrome.

I was quite excited about this for a while, as the work laptop I was using only had IE 6 on it (oh, the joys of a 'trailing edge' IT strategy) and I couldn't bear it. So I downloaded it, but gave up on it after a couple of days... a bit like early Gmail and its lack of a Delete option, I found its lack of a 'home' button annoying (I liked that there is no 'homepage' as such, I liked that a lot, but I wanted to be able to get back to that from another page without opening a new tab, and I didn't find a way to do that). The clincher though was that a lot of pages didn't work -- and didn't work in an ugly, flickery, jumpy sort of way -- because I didn't have the "right plug-ins installed". And I couldn't install them without downloading them over my shitty connection and then logging in as an administrator. As these pages worked just fine in IE I didn't *quite* understand what the problem was -- maybe GC doesn't do backwards compatibility -- but I also couldn't be arsed to find out. So I uninstalled it. I thought I might try again when I got home, but then I discovered that Firefox 3 had also happened while I was away, and its Most Visited and site tagging give me some nice new things to play with. So I can't see the 'value added', as they say in local government, of getting my head round GC for the time being. I'll watch this space though.

3. Sarah Palin.

Wow. She's a whole new kind of woman, and I am Very Afraid. I'm not sure what she *is*, but she is *not* a feminist, and I really don't see how she or anyone else can claim otherwise. Having a woman running for high office means there has been feminism, and that that woman has benefited from the achievements of feminism. It does not mean she embodies those values or will promote or even protect them. We had a million years of Thatcher, we should know that by now.

Now, personally, I also don't buy the 'Feminists For Life' thing. I don't think you can be a feminist and not support a woman's right to choose to have an abortion. Not in a world where women don't have the right to choose not to get pregnant, or even in a world where they do, but they don't exercise it, or something goes wrong, or they thought it would be ok, or they don't want to make a fuss, or they didn't or couldn't care about themselves enough to stop it happening. We need to work on all that, for sure, and the best case scenario is a world where no one gets up the stick without wanting to be there. I support all moves in that direction, and if we got there, then abortion, like the Marxist state, would wither away. But while we're, you know, waiting for utopia, any move to outlaw abortion is a misogynist move. In my opinion.

But that's far from my only beef with Ms Moose Hunter. The thing that really sets my teeth on edge is her claim to be "just your average hockey mom". I'm not quite sure what a hockey mom is, but I'm always uncomfortable when women go round defining themselves by their relationships to other people. Especially when, like the Carolines, they use the word 'just'. Feminist it ain't, either, but I think I should move on from that -- my discomfort is more about the passive-aggressive pressure that is put on children when their mother (or father) has a deal of her own identity or self-esteem invested in their prowess.

I think my own mother did me proud in this regard -- though if she *had* had the desire to be a hockey mom she would have been sadly disappointed -- most of the time I was supposed to be playing hockey at school I actually spent hiding in the toilets, and when I couldn't manage to hide I always tried to be Left Half (or is that netball?) as that seemed to be the position where it was easiest to do nothing without getting shouted at. The only time my games teacher noticed me was when she was comparing me to a dead body.

She did me proud in other regards too though: when I was the same age as Bristol Palin (and a year younger than the "young man she will marry"), she walked into the room where I was doing my chemistry homework, closed the door and leaned back against it, and said 'I think you should get fitted for a diaphragm'. I remember looking down at the long carbon-based equation I was drawing out on my narrow-lined page, putting down my pencil, and saying 'I do know about Durex you know'. (We didn't call them condoms in those days, that all came with AIDS).

No, she said, you need something you take care of yourself. I'm not sure she'd call herself a feminist even now, but that was a remarkable thing to say to your 17 year old daughter. And so I went off on my own (I don't think I asked her to come with me, and I don't think she offered) to the anachronistically named Family Planning Clinic, to have an Amazonian woman in a white coat stick half her hand up me and say 'oooh, more room than I thought, let's try a 70!'. I emerged feeling small and invaded, bearing a large plastic box with my new diaphragm and a large tube of spermicidal gel which I would, in time, come to work out that I was allergic to.

But that box was as important to me as my first car. Thanks, non-hockey mom.

God, I take myself seriously at the moment, don't I? Let me get my alcohol intake back up and I'm sure normal service will be resumed shortly.


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Blogger tomato said...

'But while we're, you know, waiting for utopia, any move to outlaw abortion is a misogynist move. In my opinion.'

Et moi. There are so many differences of opinion that I can accept as being part of the vast tapestry that is feminism, but I can never accept pro-life as being a feminist stance. Never. Not even in utopia. (Did I have a militant look in my eye when I typed that?)

Also, while you're ranting so well about Palin, can I add that the biggest thing (apart from their unhinged politics) that gets me about her and her sidekick McCain is that they claim to be regular people, in touch with the American working class.

IN WHAT REALITY could these super-rich elite class powermongers possibly be considered regular people?!? Anyone who can even contemplate running for president is not a regular working class's another paper thin excuse to launch anti-intellectual jabs at those 'out of touch fancy New York smarty pantses', as if their feet are firmly planted on the morally superior blue collar salt of the earth...

...and ANOTHER thing....(foams)

5:48 pm  
Blogger Jo said...

Yes, not even in utopia. I should have made that clearer.

Palin and her spurious blue collar... that's what I meant with the 'whole new kind of woman' thing. I understand the British class system. I know where David Cameron is coming from, and while I don't agree with him (and think that a Conservative government now - and possibly ever - would be a FAIL), I can see a sort of benign, noblesse oblige thing going on. American conservatism is a different kettle of fish altogether. It has an arrogance about it that I'd think would automatically make it unelectable, yet somehow it doesn't. WTF?

8:45 pm  
Blogger Ben said...

(1) I never understood the "let you know if we have a party" justification. There is rarely an element of consultation involved and it doesn't change the underlying fact that they are having a party, and it will be loud, like it or not.

(2) A friend who is pro-woman's right to choose decided she could logically no longer be vegan. I was impressed by the practical application of thinking through the full implications of an ethical stand.

9:01 am  
Blogger Jo said...

(1) It makes it a *little* easier. One can prepare for it psychologically, and try and negotiate ground rules in advance (eg can you make sure everyone's in from the garden by midnight). Then when that doesn't happen you feel more entitled to go round and complain. It may make no difference, but you usually get an apology the next day, and the next time they are slightly better behaved. It feels more productive to have a dialogue, somehow...

(2) I can't see that this follows at all. *She* can still be vegan, surely? That's what the right to choose is all about.

11:48 am  
Blogger tomato said...

'American conservatism is a different kettle of fish altogether. It has an arrogance about it that I'd think would automatically make it unelectable, yet somehow it doesn't. WTF?'

Yes. That's what's so damn terrifying.

6:08 pm  
Blogger Ben said...

"I can't see that this follows at all. *She* can still be vegan, surely? That's what the right to choose is all about."

I think the point was that in the great scheme of things, an unborn human foetus is more important than an unborn chicken foetus. So, if a woman has the right to choose to terminate a pregnancy then she certainly has the right to tuck into a nice egg.

I don't think F would zealously push this view onto anyone else - it's just how the thought processes worked out for her.

9:30 pm  
Anonymous J said...

And she's a creationist, for God's sake! And she's pro-life but she thinks it's okay to go out and shoot defenceless animals whenever she feels like it. How could anybody with any sense vote for such a person?

10:15 pm  
Blogger Jo said...

"So, if a woman has the right to choose to terminate a pregnancy then she certainly has the right to tuck into a nice egg."

*Technically* the eggs we eat are not foetuses, as they have not been fertilised, but yes, personally I would not dispute someone's right to eat a chicken foetus if they wanted to, though it would be kind of gross. *Mammal* foetuses though, no. But I take F's point, you need to think all these things through.

11:56 pm  

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