Thursday, August 28, 2014

Lessons learned

Do not read work-related email near midnight. Why not? Because if you do, the caffeine from the previous day will somehow hit you around 4am, and you'll wake up compelled to write down your most articulate ever thoughts on anti-Semitism... or so those thoughts will seem at 4am. They will seem very obviously unedited and middle-of-the-night the following day. Sleep - and editing! - helped the end result. Please, entire internet, tell me why I'm wrong about Israel, in response to a post that isn't even really about Israel. I know it's coming. I'd say I'm exhausted just thinking about it, but I think the reason I'm exhausted has more to do with the lack of sleep.

Or, if you are going to do this, do not also make plans to go running in the evening. Or... maybe do? This at least meant being definitively offline the moment it went online, in nature with friends, not at the computer, passively awaiting the blood-pressure-fest. In any case, whatever comes of my writing future, I know this much: I will need to alternate between topics I care deeply about (and that others think I'm WRONG about) and topics that I care in a less deep way about (and that others think are too frivolous to be written about at all).

Monday, August 25, 2014


I've been semi-following that controversy over a professor denied a job over some euphemistic anti-Zionism on Twitter. (WWPD is for that which is not yet fully thought through, so that you, my dear commenters, can tell me why I'm wrong.) The internet's various reasonables (including a WWPD reader or two) pointed out that you can very well be opposed to the retraction of an academic job offer over tweets and strongly disagree with the content of the tweets themselves. Which I agreed with - 'liked' even - at the time, because I tend to go along with defend-your-right-to-say-it arguments.

And I do still fundamentally agree. But I was reading Moebius Stripper's tweets on the subject, and got to thinking: Academic freedom sounds noble - like a self-evident subset of free speech that all right-thinking people would not only support in the nodding-along abstract but storm the barricades to defend. But - as Moebius points out - this freedom a) is a bit of a stretch when it applies to speech outside the speaker's academic area, and b) does not carry over to those outside academia, whose offensive ramblings may also not impede their job performance, but who may be fired for relatively uncontroversial behavior all the same. Moebius Stripper... makes a good point.

My inclination is still to support more free speech for all. Including the right to tweet iffy anti-Zionist ramblings and still keep one's job as a professor or - to stick with Moebius's example - a bus driver. (With, one should hope, equivalent job security for those who call out said ramblings as the anti-Semitism that they are.) But what doesn't sit right, for me, is the intense, righteous passion on this issue, at a time when the employment situation of so many college instructors is so precarious, even if they manage not to infuse their social-media accounts with blood-libel accusations.

Part of this seems to be the quasi-hazing professors must go through to even get to that point in their careers. To get into grad school, you need to have played by the rules, likely at an elite college you got into by playing by the rules in high school. In grad school, it might be something like, how could you even think of citing that author, when surely you knew that in 1981, your professor had a really famous feud with him! Don't let the professors know you have a life of any kind outside your work! (Esp. if you are a woman, and that life includes a partner!) It's not even about it being self-sabotage to have this or that view on a controversial topic - you're not meant to even have the time to be informed enough on current affairs to have formed an opinion about anything that isn't obscure and pertinent to your dissertation. Goes the thinking.

Much of this anxiety exists among grad students, separate from what professors themselves actually care about. (I have no reason to think - for example - that I was ever penalized for failing to stay up on professor-gossip from before I was born, or for writing non-academic things containing opinions, on WWPD and elsewhere.) But some of it is structural. You spend many years being reminded of just how low you are in the hierarchy, repeating the mantra, 'they pay me to read books!', even while the pay is barely enough to live on, with no such thing as a raise, and continues - if they don't cut you off - for over five years. Sometimes quite a bit over. Things may improve (or the reverse, if you're an adjunct for a pittance and no benefits) during post-graduation assignments, but the much-awaited Academic Freedom takes its time to arrive.

And then, if all goes according to plan, as you approach 35, by which I mean 40, you switch from an unusual amount of precariousness to the extreme in the other direction. Walking on eggshells switches over - as I understand it - to being the one with the authority to plant those eggshells. (Even if - see above - many such eggshells reside in the active imaginations of anxious grad students.) This... makes tenure and the freedom of speech that comes with it feel sacred, in a way, even to those within academia who don't have it and likely won't ever experience it. The sacredness, then, isn't - or isn't just - about protecting the quest for Truth. It's also about preserving the fantasy (and it is, at this point, largely that, given the number of jobs) of there being a light at the end of the academic tunnel. Of all that's been bottled up all those years having its chance to gush forth into the public sphere. What makes the risk-taking of tenured professors feel so special is that they were so severely forbidden from doing so earlier on in their careers.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Self-promotion is labor

Buried deep within Teddy Wayne's Styles piece on social-media self-promotion is an aside that should be at the front and center: "And, to be fair, most artists and small-business owners must act as their own publicists or risk obscurity and bankruptcy."

Yes. That. Work-related self-promotion online is self-oriented, yes, but not in the ego-stroking, 'likes'-feeding-narcissism sense. Or, to be more accurate, the ratio as Wayne presents it strikes me as off. Obviously it's nice if people like the work you're proud enough of to share on social media. And some of it, if the thing you've written is about a cause you care about, may be about promoting that cause. But if the thing you're sharing depends on an audience for you to go on doing it for pay, you're sharing because sharing is - at least implicitly - part of your job.

Put another way: If I share something I've written on social media, it's not to make someone I went to school with, haven't seen in 15 years, who unbeknownst to me is an aspiring writer for that very publication, feel bad about himself. Nor is it to really show whichever English teachers or high school classmates may have found me less than brilliant that, see look, someone found my thoughts worthy of publication! It's not, to be clear, that I lack any neuroses in those or related areas. It's just that all of that is secondary to my understanding of how this aspect of my career works.

The best I've come up with is to save the more shameless share-share-share for Twitter, which is something I use more professionally than personally, and to save Facebook shares for things I think friends and family might want to see. (Pinterest and Instagram are just about pretty pictures, and, fine, my not-so-secret aspiration for Bisou to become famous in Japan; to then be invited to Japan to go on some kind of grand poodle tour; and to become host of my own YouTube channel, Blogging With Dog.) But this is by no means an absolute or deeply-thought-through divide, and... and basically anything posted to Facebook - positive or negative - is going to annoy somebody (some find all posting annoying, but are nevertheless on Facebook because it's their address book, which... I can kind of understand), so at a certain point, you just have to not worry too much about it.

Oh, and I wrote another thing. Which you already knew if you are my friend or follow me on social media.

Friday, August 22, 2014

A fan letter to The Cut

NYMag's The Cut is kind of great. So, two links to it:

-The first is just to say that what Maggie Lange calls the universal boyfriend shirt is one I own and wear all the time. Except that mine is from Uniqlo, not J.Crew, and is flannel-material. Another for the why-do-I-identify-as-feminine-yet-dress-like-an-adolescent-boy files. Part of it is, I just really like that shirt. Although the likeliest answer is laziness - it's much easier to read Garance Doré or Elle about the cutting edge in Fashion than to actually wear the dresses and skirts I do own, when the jeans are in a pile on top of the dresser.

-The second is Kat Stoeffel's post on why it's OK to objectify men. And while I agree with the premise, I'm not so sure about the reasons:

“Not being objectified” is just one of the many advantages of being male. When we selectively revoke this freedom from body scrutiny, we don’t do anything to diminish the meaningful economic and reproductive advantages men enjoy. 
Put another way: We will stop Dong Watch once there’s a female president, zero wage gap, and Swedish-level paid parental leave; once tampons, birth control, and abortions are all available free and on-demand.
All fair points, but they make it seem as if women are merely pretending to lust after men, to make a point. Then she seems to kind of address this: "Male objectification isn’t about making men feel bad. It’s about not caring how men feel. Or at least, putting it aside long enough to think about what we desire." But then the concluding sentence? "As long as the covers of men's and women’s magazines are both devoted to what men want, that will feel pretty cathartic." Maybe?

But the point of appreciating male beauty isn't catharsis. It's... that many women already are already doing this appreciating. The idea isn't to punish men by objectifying, or even to disregard them. Seeing as women aren't under quite the same pressure to be attracted only to the conventionally attractive (except for the whole height thing, which I tend to think is more about perceived status than beauty, but I digress), freeing women to be openly attracted to men is arguably a good thing for men, including the one or two men who don't look like Jon Hamm.

Some attention really is bad attention

Pardon the bloggy narcissism, but when I saw Miss Self-Important's post on people who get overly outraged at those who make small talk with them, I thought of my own, on people who project hostile, judgmental thoughts onto strangers with whom they have the most minimal interactions. These are, it would seem, related phenomena. Her post also reminded me of the thing where people complain about a gift someone has gotten them, forgetting that the alternative to the unexciting gift was the person not getting them anything, with the symbolism that would entail. So I kind of see her point.

That said, I'm not sure I totally agree with MSI on this. There is, after all, such a thing as concern-trolling, which exists offline as well. While it's not my thing to take to the internet to express outrage at interpersonal relations, I can certainly think of instances of witnessing this phenomenon. Sometimes someone says something to you or a friend of yours and their intentions aren't friendly. Sometimes if they'd just ignored, that would have been the kinder way to go. This is especially so in cases - such as the one MSI brings up - that involve acquaintances questioning one's life choices. Such conversations very often manage to hit a nerve, and the just-being-friendly questioner may well be perceptive enough to know that. Not always! But, not never.

OK, I'll give one obvious, fairly generic example: Say you're studying something that doesn't sound very marketable, and someone asks you what you're going to do with that degree. This can be a genuine-curiosity question, but, tweak the tone a bit, and it's 'What are you going to do with that?' Yes, sometimes genuine curiosity reads as judgy-nasty because of the insecurities of the recipient. But sometimes bad attention really is bad attention.

As for appreciating catcalls... I suppose I differ from many other feminists on this, in that I think there's been something of an overemphasis on the too-many-men-are-looking-at-me plight and not enough on certain other issues. While I agree with the party line, as it were, about catcalling, and particularly object to the variants that cross the line into intimidation, I think we hear about it more than we might because it's a relatively easy conversation to have. The sisterhood of men-keep-calling-me-beautiful is quite simply an easier one to sign up for than the sisterhoods relating to abortion, rape, eating disorders, domestic abuse, not fitting into straight-sized clothes, etc. That doesn't mean it isn't annoying to be catcalled, or that it doesn't connect, in some broader way, to these larger issues. It's just... If I were the dictator of feminist priorities, I'd make it a lower priority.

Anyway! That digression was because MSI links to me as Exhibit A of the Feminist War On Catcalling. I just wanted to be clear that that I'm not the warrior she's looking for. (I'm also pro-stranger-chit-chat when there's no sexual component.) What she links to, though, is a post of mine where I call out a very specific kind of street attention, namely being asked to smile. I do hate this, and am pleased that being ancient means no one cares what sort of expression I've got.

But what's unpleasant about "smile" requests is precisely that they're not about someone being nice. They're the opposite of that! The man who tells the young woman to smile is not complimenting her! It's... I believe the popular expression for this sort of thing a while back was, it's a "neg." It is, in other words, an insult. The man is saying that the woman looks mopey, depressed. And let's say she is one of those things. She's supposed to get some joy out of having that pointed out? How does that interaction not end with the woman feeling worse?

So yes, stranger conversations can be convivial, and yes, I have them kind of all the time, considering I have one of those natural don't-talk-to-me expressions. I mean, I have a dog - there's no dog-walking without such interactions. But being ordered to smile, that I'd skip.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

What where when why how?

So Bisou was scouted as a model, and was supposed to appear in an Italian magazine, but then the issue appeared, and... nothing! But maybe this will appear elsewhere? Readers, do any of you have any idea what the shoot may have been for, or may ultimately have been used for? My mother took this photo of it as it was happening and... we're more or less stumped. 

Chanel, it seems, but what? An ad? Editorial? Bisou evidently had to stop chasing squirrels for several minutes for this to take place, and she demands answers.

Used J.Crew

In Princeton, for my purposes, there are two clothing stores: J.Crew and a consignment shop that doesn't but very well could go by the name of Used J.Crew. Because of the tremendous sales at the former every time the students go on vacation, both are comparably affordable, but the latter has other brands, seasons, etc., and was closer to where I'd gotten a late-afternoon Eiskaffee, so when I'd finished my work for the day, it was there that I browsed.

I had a goal in mind, kinda-sorta, namely something floral and Elaine Benes. Yes, I know, that was the look several seasons (that is, years ago), revived as part of normcore or pre-normcore or something. But maybe the dream I had last night that was set in my elementary school lobby as per usual got me on a 1993-nostalgia kick? Who can say. Whatever the case, Used J.Crew didn't have anything of the sort.

What they did have, however, was a tremendous clearance section upstairs, and it was there that I was reminded of the other item I'd been looking for, namely a short-but-somewhat-voluminous checked-pattern skirt like the ones the super-elegant women of Tokyo would wear. I had tried on some skirts or maybe dresses along those lines, but the problem was that this is a look that's very often designed to give ultraslim women the illusion of hips. I require no such illusion. What I needed was a skirt in that style, but designed for the Western consumer of tremendous amounts of pasta.

And there it was! Pale-blue-and-white thick-patterned gingham, even - perfection! Specifically, this - formerly (allegedly) $69.50, but for $8. I say allegedly because this is a skirt that lies. Not citing specific numbers, but J.Crew has vanity-sized itself into absurdity. Not that I, post-Eiskaffee, was necessarily complaining. But it does get confusing when you see a garment you want, and it comes in just the one size, and it's one that, in principle, you shouldn't be able to even try on without ripping.

Monday, August 18, 2014

The "eating pant"

So many great articles, and no longer my official week of Dish guest-blogging, so you, WWPD readers, are in luck. We have:

-A Room For Debate I haven't yet had time to read, on parental overshare. Note that under my definition of the phenomenon, it's not about putting baby photos on Facebook, ideally with some privacy settings, but even if not, eh. That's... what a family photo album is these days, and I see no reason to be paranoid about hackers chasing after your baby photos for nefarious, baby-harming purposes. Parental overshare involves sharing the sorts of things that wouldn't normally go into some sanitized, public face of one's family. Parental overshare is "brave" and involves spilling the sort of info that's only actually brave if you're spilling it about yourself.

-Allison P. Davis's account of being a disappointingly slovenly-dressed daughter of a stylish mother. Another note: I totally own the J.Crew "eating pant" (there's no link or photo, I just know) and had given them a similar name. And had, of course, worn them to hot-pot.

-Monica Kim on eyelids:

Before blogs, makeup tips and tutorials did not cater to different eyelid shapes in the US. Even today, the issue of the eyelid is often swept aside by beauty bloggers like Michelle Phan, who like to remind people that Asian eyelids come in all different types. That may be true—my mom and sister were both born with double eyelids—but it’s unhelpful to us single-lidded girls, who must go it alone.
This is exactly what I was trying to get at re: Jewish-looking, and doubtless applicable to other '-looking' variations as well. It doesn’t do much good for those of us who are whatever-it-is-looking to be reminded time and time again that there’s no such thing as that-looking. We know that not all members of our group have exactly the same features, and can often point to people in our own immediate families who don't have whichever fraught traits we do. I have relatives just as ethnically Jewish as I am, who have completely straight hair, the kind that doesn't even frizz in the rain, as vs. my own, which does something different every day, depending the humidity. Does that make my own choices regarding hair-iron usage automatically apolitical? Does that make frizz-prone hair not a stereotypically Jewish trait, and one that's underrepresented in mainstream images of beauty? 

Even if one is delighted with one's single-lidded eyes (or frizz-prone hair), as Kim says, styling advice tends to be geared towards the less-'ethnic' way that even an 'ethnic' person may look. (And yes, I've read many times that eyelid and paleness concerns in certain parts of Asia are not about looking 'white' and predate any such notions. As for Jewish hair concerns, as a rule, they sort of are, although my own may stem from envy directed at the popular Korean kids at my high school.) Which is, in a sense, the issue. There's clearly an audience, if you will, for women of every ethnicity. The problem with not being 'mainstream' in whichever way really is - once one is an adult, and has gotten past the phase of imagining that the only people who ever find a boyfriend, ever, are blue-eyed blondes - one of figuring out which products to use in which way. 

Sunday, August 17, 2014

A basic placeholder

Having figured out what an Instagram is (a place to shamelessly spam anyone who chooses to follow me with whatever I see fit; mostly poodle photos and food photos), if not entirely how the site works, I was able to spend my weekend eating and documenting. All in the very same weekend, I managed a Viennese breakfast, Chinese/worldwide-chain hot-pot, and, at home, non-American pancakes (the thin ones that don't go with maple syrup), and yakitori. I thought about going running, but there just wasn't the time.

I was also going to write something about "basic" (followers of memes and Lauren Conrad will know what I'm referring to; posting food and pet photos on Instagram apparently counts, as - I can infer - does singing along to Bastille when it comes on the car radio), expanding on this, but then I realized everything I'm responding to (such as Daisy Buchanan's fabulous admission of basicness) happened more than five minutes ago, meaning that this topic goes back into the long-haul pile.

Friday, August 15, 2014

What's an Instagram?

So I have joined Instagram, inspired in part by Kei, and in part by desire to get in on Japanese toy poodle Instagram. If I have my way, Bisou will soon be a huge Japanese celebrity. This is unlikely, because a) brushing her every other day and getting her groomed every month and a half doesn't add up to her looking like the glamorous Japanese poodles Into The Gloss profiled, and b) she doesn't have the wardrobe. There were absolutely stores in Tokyo that sold amazing small-dog outfits (including kimonos), but Bisou wasn't there with us, so we didn't know her size, plus I don't think these outfits would fit with her lifestyle, which principally involves trying to eat deer poop when I'm not looking and chasing squirrels up trees. (Not, thankfully, in that order.) Of course, I'm sure the poodles of Nara present similar challenges...

But I can't figure out anything about Instagram. How does one search it for people, images, anything? Also: What is Instagram etiquette? People are adding me and, on the wild off-chance that I ever figure out the mechanics of adding people back, whom is one 'friends' with on this site? Part of what inspired me to join was that I felt like it was a way to avoid spamming Facebook with every last photo of my amateur Cooking With Dog existence. I can't imagine most of these people would want to see any of this. I don't flatter myself that anyone's losing sleep over whether I follow them on Instagram or whether I restrict my follows almost exclusively to people who pose large groups of lap dogs in fields in Japan. For all I know, these are automatic adds that happen when someone one is Facebook-friends with joins the site. But the situation I don't want to get into is feeling like I'm spamming people on Instagram by posting... the very sort of items I got on the site in order to post.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

More Dish, and a bat

Anything I have written or will write for the Dish can be found here

I'm a little bit blogged-out for the day as you might imagine, but I will link to this Planet Princeton story, simply because, that bat. The local news has a tendency to make everything - storms mostly - sound apocalyptic (these are, after all, the big stories), but... that's a pretty scary bat. I doubt it's the bat that's terrorizing the residents of Linden Lane, but I also doubt if that bat - which we know to be rabid - is less frightening.

Monday, August 11, 2014

When not on WWPD...

This week I'll be guest-blogging, alongside Elizabeth Nolan Brown, at the Dish! Introductions here, gratuitous young-Keanu reference and more here.

Posts specific to Japanese from-scratch cooking and Pinterest avant-garde fantasy shopping may just appear here, but you never know.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

When pasta won't do

Weekends are for impractical cooking. That and impractically long NJ Transit trips, but the cooking's more interesting. The latest:

-Tofu! With from-scratch soy milk, which I sort of remembered how to make from the yuba, but barely. It... didn't turn out right, but this was my own fault for not measuring anything nor taking any temperatures. Next project on this front will likely be more yuba. What I came up with, tofu-wise, tasted like a watery version of store-bought firm tofu. Meh.

-Grilling! A friend who left town gave us his grill and we're trying to figure out how one works. Today it at first seemed like we had no idea what we were doing, then suddenly it was working as one would hope. And... it turns out that a grill is an efficient way to use up wrinkled bell peppers, but even grilled, one can only eat so many bell peppers. Now that we know that it works, yakitori on the grill is surely up next.

-Filling crepe-like pancakes with chocolate! (I do occasionally cook things that are not Japanese. More than occasionally, in fact, if one counts the 98% of meals that are pasta.) This is something I'd probably considered but never tried before. Basically you fill the pancake with a piece of (dark, is my preference) chocolate, as in, roll and wrap it around the chocolate, and return it to the pan for more heating. The end result is as close to a chocolate croissant as something that simple can be. The pancakes themselves are a simple enough ratio: one egg, half a cup flour, just under a cup milk, pinch of salt, and maybe a tablespoon, if that, melted butter.

Saturday, August 09, 2014

Kale and klezmer

Farmer's market love-hate, the eternal topic. Mark Bittman wants us to feel OK about swapping our checking account for a small handful of really top-notch tomatoes. I want to feel OK about having done so this morning. Current objections, though, are as follows:

-The markets here are either Thursday from 11-4 (tough if you have what South Park once referred to as a jerb) or Saturdays 9-1 (tough if you have any sleep to catch up on from the week, or if you did anything other than anticipate the following morning's produce options on Friday night).

-I do live in a big produce-growing region. But for obvious population-density reasons, the local farms ship their goods to the city. I doubt if lettuce season is actually over (in fact, the presence of local lettuce at the supermarket suggests it's not), but at the market today it seemed to be.

-As Bittman says, "Farmers’ markets are not just markets. They’re educational systems that teach us how food is raised and why that matters." And, indeed, everyone on front of you in line demands copious education. For themselves or, if bringing kids, for the kids as well. If this has to happen at each stand, it can go from convivial to there goes the day rather quickly.

-The number of cars parked near the market this morning in no way matched up with the amount of produce available. This is a thing to do, a place to listen to pesticide-free banjo klezmer music or whatever, but not by any means an alternative to the supermarket.

-Buying kale or chard doesn't necessarily mean going on to eat either. Although I'm now starting to see where that green-juice fad emerged from. Other people probably also had fridges full of uneaten bitter greens, and, in attempt to do something with them, threw them into the blender.

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Recentish, splurgish

My ongoing quest to look less like an American slob and more like a... Franco-Japanese non-slob (it's hopeless) doesn't actually require all that much shopping. It's mostly a matter of wearing the better things I own, "better" defined as things with buttons and zippers. Given my work-mostly-from-home, walk-a-dog-through-a-deserted-campus lifestyle, there isn't much incentive. So it's nice to shake things up on occasionally with items I didn't purchase aged 19-21. With that in mind...

-Uniqlo mini pencil skirt. Very similar to the two regular Uniqlo pencil skirts I have from several years ago, except for the fact that it doesn't make me look Hasidic if paired with a long-sleeved shirt. Not that there's anything wrong with that, my (many, no doubt) Hasidic readers. It's just that I don't want to give the wrong impression. Even if that cheese was made with animal rennet, I want in.

-Ballerina earrings in silver from Catbird. Dainty, but neither knuckle-rings nor requiring of odd ear piercings. (Those, btw, can't be counted on to close up. I don't recall how I old I was when I got that double pierce, but it's still at the ready.) They go well with a not quite so recent anymore purchase: this necklace, but in all-silver.

-Thanks to a coupon, the RMS eye shadow in Lunar. It's fantastic except for the part where applying it makes my finger sparkly. This might be higher-maintenance than I can handle on a daily basis.

-One subdivided $10 portion of wild salmon (ahem) from Whole Foods, chosen as a way to not have pasta for every meal, but which the cashier deemed unjustifiable. That's a new one for Whole Foods, being shamed for splurging. And on one ingredient! At least I didn't mention that some was for me, some for my husband, and some for a certain tremendously fancy poodle.

Monday, August 04, 2014

Feel like a womyn

Like the rest of the internet-to-whom-it-may-concern, I've been reading about the tensions between radical feminists and the transwomen they exclude. And... I guess there are two takeaways from Michelle Goldberg's fascinating article. One, that if you're trying to be progressive, not being exclusionary is usually the way to err. Common sense dictates that if you're a biological man who self-presents and self-identifies as a woman, your "privilege" is if anything less than that of a cisgender woman. (All things equal, of course.)

But at the same time, the article wouldn't be interesting if that were the whole point. The other issue is that a good amount of The Female Experience, or one version of it at least, is rooted in biological facts, not gender identity. Periods, developing (oh that euphemism), pregnancy/pregnancy avoidance/pregnancy scares, rape/rape avoidance/rape-near-misses, street harassment (at its most obscene when directed at young girls), relative physical vulnerability... All of these could well amount to obstacles less profound than those faced by transwomen (I don't buy the argument that "male privilege" extends to transwomen), but they are without a doubt different obstacles.

Basically, the plight of the biologically female is a thing, and it's not necessarily transphobic, I think, that some would make this their cause. A transwoman has always felt female, but didn't spend her adolescence petrified she'd become a teen mom. Where transphobia enters into it is, it seems to me, stuff like the refusal to use correct pronouns (i.e. pronouns people want used about themselves), and just generally being... phobic. That transwomen don't know what it's like to be a 12-year-old with uterus doesn't mean they're a menace, for crying out loud. "Womyn-born womyn" could plausibly make sense for certain kinds of support groups, but a music festival?

All of which points back to what I think is the reason trans identity is so hard to conceptualize for many of us who are not trans. While there probably are some biologically-female women who really feel like women, my guess is that many of us experience femaleness the same way as we experience being the height, age, and ethnicity we happen to be. Which is to say, as traits we've just kind of landed with, that we might try to gently alter in superficial ways (heels, sunscreen, etc.), but that just sort of are what they are, and feel like non-negotiables. Much of women's famed performance of gender isn't so much a celebration of femininity as... a way to make the least effort possible to look acceptable in society. Femininity can seem like a burden quite a lot of the time, to those of us who didn't opt in. Which is why my sense is that this is a problem of terminology - transwomen didn't opt in, either. They're not - as the radfems seem to believe - men who choose to live as women. They're women who ended up -pre-transition - looking like men. Who - like cisgender women - surely know that life is easier in our society for men, but who see living as a man as just as impossible as cisgender women do.

Friday, August 01, 2014

Firstest Worldest of Problems

Growing up, I always loved air-conditioning. Friends and family alike would remind me of the environmental and monetary costs, but what could I say? I enjoyed full-room refrigeration.

These days, eh, not so much. Maybe it's the guilt that comes with no longer having 'well at least I don't drive' as an excuse. Maybe it's time spent in Europe, and more time still spent with Europeans. Maybe it's that it just hasn't been all that hot this summer. But I'd sort of forgotten about a/c, and sort of stopped using it.

Which is a problem, it turns out. I've recently learned that the "leak" in my apartment is condensation caused by... drumroll please... not having the air conditioner on. And a fine a/c unit it must be. I've been officially instructed to keep it on at all times, windows closed, of course. (The leak hasn't stopped, but it's a puddle rather than a swimming pool.) As for the obvious, we don't pay extra for electricity. But even so.