Category Archives: America

Here in Arizona

Yeah, so I dropped off the face of the planet for a while, whoops?

To those that have blogged before—you know that it’s something a bit like a double-edged sword. It’s nice to put your words out there, in the void, and just get them out of your head. But at the same time, you feel like you need to have an opinion about everything, and that that opinion needs to be cogent and well-ordered. Well, fuck that, say I! There’s a lot that goes on in this old head of mine that isn’t logical at all. So I dropped out of blogging for months and months because I really wasn’t feeling the blogging vibes. I didn’t want my thoughts up to scrutiny. Sure, I posted on other people’s blogs and generally said a lot of horribly liberal progressive shit to Americans completely untutored in the practice of progressivism and leftward thought (the horror! The socialism! Ieeeeeeee!).

Also, I was kind of feeling glum about the title of my blog. I made it up when I was new to this lady business of blogging, and I wasn’t really aware of the intersection of cis-priviledges and feminism. So I equated two X chromosomes with femininity, thought it made a catchy blog title, and thought nothing more of it. Ah, the blindness of priviledge! Now, I’m sorry to whomever doesn’t share my cis-priviledge who stumbles across this blog. I was very ignorant of my own ignorance, and I’m a bit ashamed of it now. And, of course, I’m a bit stumped. I’ve put a lot of work into XXBlaze, and I’m loathe to give up the url and the title that has been associated with me for so long. But I also don’t want to be associated with that ignorant stain of cis-priviledge any more. Yes, I will always have cis-priviledge. But maybe it’s not a great idea to advertise it or smush it in the face of the unprivileged, no?

But the rest of my motives are not so selfless—not that the above two were to begin with. I basically finished my undergraduate degree and received quite a few promotions at my current place of labor. Now, I find that I’m paid to write, and to code websites. So the last thing I want to do, understandably, is write and code when I get home… especially since at least work pays me to do it, whilst blogging is sadly, totally unpaid.

The last motive, and perhaps the most shameful (although don’t get me wrong, I’m deeply ashamed of my cis-ignorance), is that I’m fucking sick and tired of politics. I like dipping my toes into outrage and contempt through other people’s blogs and then going about my day as if I don’t give a fuck. When I actually have to write about it myself, I find that I do give too much of a fuck, and it’s quite the mood-killer. That, and the people around me seem to prefer that I have less of a cogent and less of an outraged argument before I talk to them about politics. When I don’t blog, my opinions are less well-formed, and I’m more apt to give them up so we can talk about meaningless bullshit instead of things like social justice. I put it in italics because I’ve come to realize that it’s a very dirty word, and good girls really ought to have nothing to do with such thoughts.

Well, I had such thoughts this week, when politics basically came to my back door, took a nice stinky shit, and then went on its merry way like nothing at all had happened. See, I live in Arizona. I’m Jewish, and a woman. And once, when I was unaware that you had to be a soulless corporatist piece of warmongering shit in order to get elected (also, a hell of a lot more conservative, and a just a wee —okay, a lot—more demure, and straight), I wanted to be a public official. Now, I’m all like, fuck that, but I was a child of the ’90s, once—a million years ago—and we were quite fond of telling little girls back then that you too could grow up to be president! (Not that we’ve ever had a female president, but it was the ’90s, that glorious age of unbridled optimism and really horrible pants).

So, it was quite alarming, but not surprising, to see someone attempt to assassinate Gabrielle Giffords; a woman that—when I was fresh and funky free—I could have seen myself wanting to grow up to be like. After it all sunk in (sometime around Monday?), I said to myself, “that could have been you.” And make no doubt, I highly anticipate that if I decided to run for public office one day and actually won, I would have been at the other end of the barrel of a gun too.

Because while Giffords was Jewish, and a woman, I am the same—but also left of the Democratic party (while she’s a Blue Dog Democrat), and also a lesbian. The target Palin would have put on the map of my state would have encompassed the entire country.

I don’t know particularly why Loughner decided that Gifford deserved to die. But I’m not exactly going to be surprised if it turns out that her sex, religion, and political affiliation had something to do with it.

In this country, there is a large and violent swath of people that would like to see me and people that are like me, or people that think like me, dead. They want us dead for wanting to cure the sick and help the poor. They want us dead for loving someone of the same gender. They want us dead for wanting to provide a comfortable retirement for the elderly. They want us dead for a thousand reasons, and all their rhetoric belies their terrible sense of entitlement to our demise.

The right in this country is premised on ignorant grassroots that thrive on a culture of eliminationism. Whatever they don’t like, whatever they don’t understand, whatever doesn’t exactly conform to their ideals, deserves to die. Maybe they aren’t willing to pull the trigger. Maybe they won’t even be particularly pleased if someone else does it for them. But they are happy to sit and listen to those that call for our silencing, our deaths, and cheer when we are thrown under the bus, time and time again. And I know that they would not shed a tear if we and our “special interests”—if you can call asking to be treated like a fucking human being a “special interest”—up and disappeared from the face of the planet.

When O’Reilly and Palin and their ilk pretends they don’t condone the actions of the terrorist who attempted to assassinate Congresswoman Giffords, I know the truth. When they use loaded terms like “blood libel” (the Anti-Semitic fucks) and slather their websites in gun imagery, it is any wonder that I assume that they’re utterly and completely insincere?

Here in Arizona, I bathe in a culture of hate. Hatred of liberals, hatred of gays. Hatred of Mexicans, hatred of the poor. Hatred of gun control, and hatred of the sick. Hatred of anything that asks for understanding and empathy instead of exchanging lies for fevered calls for what amounts to fascism.

My country is poised on the brink of fascism, led symbolically by the state in which I preside. From SB1070 to the Tuscon shooting, there really isn’t anything good to say about my home right now. I live in a state of muted horror, nose stuck permanently in the air to avoid smelling the stink of ignorant lies that litter the Sonoran desert like bloated corpses, putrefying in the Arizonan sun. My political opinions are stuck permanently on “contempt.” What do I feel for Republicans? Contempt. Democrats? Contempt. President Obama? Contempt.

It’s exhausting and disheartening. You’d think that when the blinders come off, and now that I see that we live in a country for the rich, by the rich, and fueled by violent hatred, I’d have a lot to say.

Instead, I have nothing much to say at all. The only sound I can stand to make is a long silent scream which echoes through my head —the overlapping sounds of all the impassioned things I would say, if only there was someone in power who cared.

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American Idol: all those good old American conservative values, including rampant sexism

My mother is the queen of bad television. Thus, it was no surprise to find her watching American Idol when I finished my shift tonight. The season kicked off in our hometown, so it was amusing to watch Seacrest suffer in the Phoenix sun.

As usual, the judges made it plain that they’re the same old sexist, homophobic, fat-hating idiots. Fat girls were demonized. A gay teenager with an amazing voice was told that his voice didn’t match his “look” (you know, that gay look. Ewww homo cooties!). And last, but not least, we had this:

american-idol-bikini-girl1Yes, that is a girl fully made up in a bikini and high heels. What is she doing? She’s auditioning for the squeaky clean American Idol contest on the most conservative network ever, FOX!

Oh silly, when I say FOX is conservative, I don’t mean in the sense that women need to be silent and covered. I mean in the sense that women need to be seen, belittled, objectified, and treated like meat:

It’s pretty plain that the girl is a decent singer, but not fantastic. If anyone who wasn’t a perfect fit for the pornoriffic model of “femininity” tried to audition in a bikini, they would be demonized for being fat and ugly, regardless of their voice. What happens here, though, is Simon and Randy—pigs that they are—immediately voice their approval and give her a yes.

Why? Well, she pleases them. She is sexually attractive and willing to bare it all for men in charge; what’s not to like? This sends a horrendous message. American Idol is an extremely popular show, and one of its biggest target audiences is teenage and preteen girls. The last thing they need is another message telling them how sex appeal is more important than personality, talent, and their ambition.

Witness the how newer judge, Kara DioGuardi, has to qualify her critique of her with the disclaimer, “I’m not saying this because you’re a pretty girl…” Because, honestly, we all know that women are just a collection of holes, sexy fat deposits, and beauty products. If one woman is critiquing another women, it must be because she’s hotter than her and she’s jealous!

Not that Kara is the hero of this: far from it. After Bikini Girl rudely throws the judge’s critique back in her face (Simon and Randy laugh, because they don’t care about people disrespecting the female judges after they’ve already made up their minds: you please my dick, you’re in!)—a huge no-no of talent competitions—Kara calls her a “bitch” and asks her to “come back naked next time”. Very nice. At this point, I’m cringing, knowing that now every man in America thinks that the new judge is a bitter old harpy, and deciding whether or not to masturbate in the bathroom during commerical over the thought of them having a cat fight.

Poor Paula, on the other hand, just sits there and says nothing. She interjects a time or two that the girl isn’t up to par, but she’s quickly shut up by Randy and Simon’s great approval of masturbation fodder and Kara’s self destructive display of her own brand of misogyny (yeah, calling another woman a bitch is not cool, even if she is asking for it).

In the end, the girl goes to Hollywood, even though two of the four judges were against it. Why? Well, because teh menz are in charge and teh menz want more boner material! Now, before we cut to commercial, let’s play the parts where you get to see Bikini Girl’s ass twice more, followed by a montage of her jumping up and down.

Right there, in five minutes, is about the sickest, most destructive sexist message I think I’ve seen all week. Talent is meaningless. Just show the men in charge your boobies and that’s all you need to do! Who cares if you insult the female judge of your audition? Who cares if two out of your four judges don’t like you? Hey, you’re hot, and teh menz approve! Jump up and down some more for the camera. That’s a good girl.

Now, before all you women out there think that you can go out and win American Idol if you just take it all off, check yourself. Do you look like a porn star? Are you perfectly groomed and possess a Dude Nation approved body? Just good old self-confidence and vocal talent alone will not do. Make sure that you’re perfectly attractive, vapid, and willing to crush your own will to reflect everyone else’s, or the sexpot act will crash and burn. You see, it’s not about enjoying your body, it’s about how much others enjoy your looking at your body. What, like you expected some respect and recognition of your humanity?

As long as you please Simon and Randy’s dicks, you can even get away with being a subpar singer and insulting your judge. FOX wants you to know, women and girls of America, that’s not about talent, poise, ambition, intelligence, and individuality. You are a woman, and therefore the only things that matter are how hot you are, how far you’re willing to go to please other people with your body, and if the men in charge like it when you twirl around and show off your ass.

Now, remind me again: why is feminism needed?

Zionism: the importance of being Politically Correct

When it comes to foreign issues, I generally find that my political opinions aren’t exactly as informed as they could be. But with the Israel-Palestine conflict all over the news recently, my thoughts have been wavering in a state of limbo.

With a variety of issues, I find it pretty easy to lean to one side or another. With this issue though? Nobody has gotten it right. I’ll read opinions condemning the human rights violations of Israel, and I’ll agree only to find—two paragraphs in—that the essay has turned into a completely anti-Israel screed with antisemitic undertones.  I’ll watch Congress continue to conflate Israel’s aggressive actions with “defense” and mindlessly funnel tax dollars into bombs that will be used to kill innocent people. Then I’ll listen to conservatives affirm Israel’s right to exist, only to launch into a rant about killing terrorists and how Muslims want to kill them for their freedom.

And then I’m struck with this sense of how completely and utterly wrong everyone is. As you can see by the picture I grabbed from this story, protesters in Germany are comparing Israelis to Nazis. The article is titled, “European guilt about the Holocaust is receding in the face of Israeli aggression – and there’s nothing anti-semitic about it”. Excuse me? There’s nothing antisemitic about purposely exploiting one of the most heinous acts of history to make a political point to the descendants of the victims of that genocide when you are the descendants of their killers? Well color me surprised. I thought that was about as antisemitic as you can fucking get.

It’s because of shit like this that I really don’t trust many people to be at all tactful or progressive about this sort of issue. Every political commentary I’ve come across is seething with an undercurrent of war-mongering, racism, antisemitism or anti-Muslim sentiments. My city publishes a newspaper called the “Jewish News” which my mother is subscribed to. Even they have gotten it all wrong: the front page is filled with some of the most anti-Muslim sentiments I’ve ever seen, not to mention deliberate distortions of the truth.

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Giving thanks for abuse, igorance and Stockholm Syndrome

I love my family just as much as anyone. They’re typically there if I really need them, and it’s not like I was beaten as a child or left in the rain. Yet we have our skeletons in the closet.

Abuse—physical, emotional, or verbal—is just as American as white bread or apple pie. I was reminded so this year when Thanksgiving was an unmitigated disaster.

I’ve found that as I get older and grow into my own opinions and personality that I move closer and closer to the place on the family tree labeled “black sheep”. I shudder to think what would happen if they knew I was bisexual. Which is why I don’t tell them.

While driving to my grandmother’s house tonight, my mother cautioned me to “keep my negativity to myself”. Which means the following topics are off limits:

  • My ambition to be a prosecuting attorney. I cannot talk about going to law school in anything but vague promises and ideas. When someone asks me why I want to go, I cannot tell them it’s because I want to give battered, raped, or abused women the opportunity to have someone defend them that actually gives a shit about the reality of their lives. The topic is never broached though, because everyone assumes I’m going to law school because I’m materialistic and like money. I don’t bother to correct them.
  • Politics. My anger at how the fat cats responsible for the downturn cannot be expressed. My thoughts on the war are not wanted. My opinion of Obama, Clinton, or Bush are unnecessary. Anything even remotely carrying the stench of civil rights is offensive.
  • My father. The times that I spend with my father on vacation or at his house are off-limits. I am not to talk about the “chicken raiser” or Texas in positive terms. Even if my time there was mostly positive.
  • My school work. The really interesting legal philosophy I read is boring. Statistics about the composition of jailed populations are “wrong” or “incorrect beliefs”. My university is “brainwashing me with liberalism”.
  • Dating and Family. My want of children with or without a male spouse is disgusting. I infer, probably correctly, that my real sexuality would be abhorrent. My exasperation with unwanted chivalry and Nice GuysTM is offensive.
  • Myself. “Don’t talk about yourself” was asked of me explicitly. Nobody wants to know about you. Your opinions are offensive. After the above list, this point is inferred, and stating it is all but unnecessary.

Basically, my role at Thanksgiving is that of the mute female. I must help, as the other female family members do (my grandmother, my mother, and my aunt) with the cooking, cleaning, setting the table, and clearing it. I am, however, not allowed to express my opinions or anything about myself because it is distasteful. I cannot tell my brother, my uncle, my grandfather, or my two younger male cousins to get up and get their own damn cranberry sauce.

The rules outlined above are only for me, however. My mother, aunt, uncle, and grandfather may express any and all of their opinions about those “goddamn unions”, “stupid Mexican kids in schools getting free lunches”, and “fucking poor people buying shit at Christmas they don’t deserve because of their inferiority they do not have a lot of money”. They have lovely conversations about how marvelous Israel is too, and no mention is made of the Palestinians. If they are mentioned, they are “terrorists” or “security concerns”. Racist jokes may also be exchanged.

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“Oh great, now we’ve got a n****r, a Jew, and a bitch”

That was the quote I overheard in elevator last week. Sometimes I feel like I’ve stepped into this bizarre wormhole that transports me to Stupid Land. Well, this week was a very long and tedious foray into this—hypothetical or not—realm.

Turning on the radio all week was a chore. Our local NPR station was very interested, as most of the nation was, in the rumors that Hilary Clinton was about to be nominated for Secretary of State. I was less than happy for several reasons:

One: I like Clinton, don’t get me wrong, but the mere mention of her name seems to inspire the most vile verbal projectile vomiting in even the most mundane of social conversations. I almost wish, in moments of weakness, that I lived in a Clinton-less world where I never ever had to walk down the street and hear people utilize every gender slur on the book to complain about a female politician they irrationally hate. The daily reminder that no matter how powerful I might become, my genitalia will always be the most pertinent topic is irritating.

Two: If I manage to tune out the sexist bullshit, there’s still the undertone of completely inane political commentary. If you don’t know shit about politics, please don’t pretend you do whilst your eyes roll back into your head and you froth at the mouth with the force of your asinine opinions. Clinton isn’t conservative, nor is she considerably more “hawkish” on foreign matters than Obama. For all the uproar about Clinton’s original support of the Iraqi Occupation (because it’s not a war), Biden was originally more vocal than her. Nobody seemed to give a damn when Biden was tapped for the VP role, even though his legacy is lengthier than Clinton’s, and his penchant for Middle Eastern clusterfucks has been more frankly expressed.

Three: I prefer Obama over Clinton on foreign issues. I do think that she is a tad more hawkish than him, and that his popularity overseas is exactly what the country needs to move back into the good graces of the rest of the exasperated world. I actually like Clinton more when it comes to domestic issues. From her fervent support of gay rights, abortion, and the women’s movement, there isn’t exactly any huge points of contention. Obama, on the contrary, has shown that he is willing to compromise domestic civil rights in the name of “bipartisanship” and to win debates held in evangelical churches. Ideally, I’d like to see Clinton stay in the Senate, or even await a Supreme Court nomination (am I the only one that remembers that she was a lawyer at one point?) rather than serve as the Secretary of State. Ironically, I like Clinton on domestic, and Obama on foreign. I get to see them do the opposite.

Four: Talk of the betrayal of “change”. Look, morons, Obama’s message of Change wasn’t about appointing Yes Men to his cabinet. He has selected extremely qualified individuals with long political legacies and their own opinions. This is a good thing: it prevents the kind of military/industrial coup that characterized the last eight years. Are there better choices? Yes. Do I really truly have reason to be irrationally upset? Hell no. Obama’s picks are competent. All of them could even be President themselves if the unthinkable happens. Part of “bipartisanship” is listening to dissent within your own party. The day that the Democratic party is more willing to play nice with Republicans and social conservatives (shudder) rather than people they actually agree with 80% of the time, is the day that our country goes in the shitter. More than it has already.

Finally: Quotes like the title of this post. Of course, I had to suffer through the same unbearably sexist primaries you all did. Then I had to sit through more stirring of the pot when Clinton’s name was back on the table. Now I got to put up, for the next four years, with assholes complaining about Jews, Blacks, and Women. Goddammit. Look, if you really truly hate women, everyone whose skin doesn’t meet your fascist criterion of whiteness, and those assholes that you claim killed your fictional savior, you can just keep it to yourself. Bigotry isn’t cool and trendy. Shut up and sit down.

Most importantly, I really hate living in a world where someone can say that kind of shit in public and people don’t look at him like he smells like fecal matter, at the least, or punch him in the face, at the most. The morons I shared an elevator with all kept their mouths shut, and three in the corner giggled, including his admiring friend.

The world is really fucked up when people look at people that correct these wankstains, like me, with less understanding than the very pits of human excrement from which such idiocies spew.

In conclusion, I missed two memos: (A) the one issued on November 5th wherein racism was confirmed dead and (B) the one issued at some point where we are instructed to giggle demurely at racial epithets lest we be those poor socially inept fools who correct racist upstanding Americans who express their bullshit opinions in public.

Honeymoon is over.

Didn’t take long, did it? Sometime after midnight on November 4th, the fervor died down. The night was quiet, but my mind was not. Over and over, I turned over questions in my head: have we accomplished anything?

No, we haven’t. No, we can’t.

President-Elect Barack Obama is more valuable as a symbol than a flesh-and-blood president. November 5th dawned bright and clear, and with it all the inequalities, abuses, and horrors of the day before. None of that had been washed away. None of that had been lessened.

Some of it had been worsened. California voters used their irrational hatred to take away the rights and happiness of a minority they despise. Arizona voters kept a sheriff that has wrongfully killed prisoners, violated the federal and state constitutions, and uses tax payer money to fund his crusade of racial profiling rather than doing anything to reduce the skyrocketing crime in our poorest urban centers.

Democrats now control the Congress, Senate, and White House. So? So what? What has that changed? Nothing at all.

Need I remind anyone that Obama’s health care plan is even worse than the shitty choices we already face? Do I need to explicate the fact that his stance on a woman’s rights to bodily integrity are so porous that I could park a jet in the holes? Must I really sit down and explain the fact that nobody seems to give a flying fuck about the majority of the population— the working and lower classes, women, homosexuals, and the population of the rest of the goddamn world?

You know, I’m really quite glad that McCain lost. I truly am. But that doesn’t make me happy. Not in the slightest. It means that my standards are so low that I can still feel hope or good about this stupid nation for a couple of minutes while the majority of our population—and basically the entirety of the rest of the world—suffers for the selfishness and hubris of the American ruling class.

This makes me a sorry piece of human waste. Because I bought it. I smelled the shit, I put in my mouth, and I lied and said it tasted good.

It didn’t taste good. No we can’t.

Our environment is nearing the breaking point every second. Millions in our own country have nothing to wake up to the next morning but insurmountable poverty, bigotry, and the ugly fact that they will never stop paying for who they are, or who their ancestors were. Billions in the rest of the world celebrate with our new President-Elect, because we have broken them. We pat ourselves on the back like the self-entitled fucks we are, and we all don’t seem to give a damn that while our new president might not like warfare as much as our last president, he still supports the American hegemony over the entire globe. He still voted to redistribute billions of dollars made on the backs of hard-working Americans and even harder-working exploited foreigners to a bunch of greedy bottom-dwellers who celebrate an economic downturn of their own making with another yacht.

He’s still a part of the American ruling elite, no matter how dark his skin or how foreign his roots. And he will operate within their parameters, or else. He will do their bidding, or else.

And we will smile. The rest of the world, because they are broken beyond repair, will too. The 1% will have their cake, eat it, and the 99% will thank them for the priviledge of being used as footstools.

November 4th: a day in which it looked like a lot was done, and maybe it was, but not nearly enough.