Archive for February, 2008
*Disclaimer: This post should in no way be taken as an endorsement for either Democratic candidate. My disgust of our two-party system generally compels me to steer away from the Democrats, whom I tend to think deserve just as much criticism and ire as the Republicans receive from so-called “liberals”. (I also hate the term “liberal” and believe it is wrongly applied in the United States on the basis of our mangling of its actual definition.) I mean, hooray that Clinton and Obama are running, but I can’t say I’m super thrilled about their stances on the issues of importance.
Clinton has received much flak in the media and from her chief rival, that cutie pie Barack Obama, for her extremely detailed healthcare plan on the basis that it requires all Americans to purchase health insurance of some kind or another. FORCING people to have health insurance is just awful, isn’t it? Jeezy chreezy, what a bitch. The general line of reasoning that I’ve heard is that it wouldn’t work, it would be enormously detrimental to the millions of people who aren’t on insurance because they can’t afford it in the first place, and it would end up penalizing the poorest of the poor (as if we don’t already do plenty of that in our society). I’m surprising myself by even saying this, but…I think she may be onto something.
I am obsessed with exactly two TV shows (America’s Next Top Model, The L Word), although I enjoy a total of four TV shows currently in syndication (LOST, The Office). I know my purpose here is generally to write about society and my university experience, but I have to talk a little about pop culture. Specifically, I have to talk about ANTM.
Graduate school in social work is such a trip. On the one hand I am always fascinated to learn about theory, social activism, and international perspectives on social justice, which I missed as an undergraduate (where I majored in English and Alcoholism), as well as getting an insight into all the ways in which the field of social work is currently trying to “professionalize” itself. On the other hand, I have become about as sick of the micro/macro debate as I currently am of the Presidential race. You see, in social work practice there is apparently a division between “micro”practice, which is considered to be any kind of direct service work, interpersonal practice, therapy/counseling, or group/agency work on a small scale. “Macro” practice involves practice with a broader focus, such as non-profit administration, community organizing, policy evaluation and research, and global social work. Very generally speaking, micro practice is often considered less radical (but constitutes the bulk of social work jobs) than macro, because it often seeks to assist oppressed people on an individual basis rather than working to create changes to the systems that oppress them in the first place.
I got into a bit of hot water with one of my professors last week when I commented on this article during a class discussion. My position was that so-called “liberals” (a term which certainly is not synonymous with atheism, by the by) do not have a problem with religion; it is the hypocrisy of the religious right, which is constituted by many Evangelical Christians, that tends to stick in the craw of most “liberals” I know. The author of this article, which is an op-ed in The New York Times, stated that it’s acceptable for East Coast liberals to lambast Mike Huckabee’s Christianity while being painfully PC about Clinton’s gender and Obama’s race.
First of all, we are forgetting that technically, Huckabee is not the only Christian running for office. Everyone who runs for President claims to be some kind of Protestant or another. There was an enormous kerfuffle over John F. Kennedy’s Catholicism and Irish heritage, for chrissakes. Both Clinton and Obama–particularly Clinton–make reference to their religious faith during rallies and speeches. I wonder if way too often, we allow the media to dictate party affiliation by religious affiliation, shoving born-agains under the Republican mantle and everyone else under the Democratic.
One of the team members at my internship brought everyone candy grams for Valentine’s Day. Instead of thanking her for this nice gesture, Larry sat at his desk wolfing down his chocolate and said, “This is one bullshit holiday. Invented by Hallmark after some Catholic guy who used to pass out sweets to children.” Pause. “Probably to get ‘em in bed.”
There was a collective moan of “Oh Jesus, Larry” from everyone in the room. Larry continued undaunted. I think he relishes the effect his comments have on us “PC social workers” as he puts it.
I was unaware that in the grand state of Texas it was illegal to buy a dildo. Until today–yessss! Also, contrary to what I had expected, the law first banning the sale of sex toys was enacted in the 1970s–it’s not some weird holdover statute still on the books from the era of Sam Houston. Although I want to harp on all the reasons why this law is ridiculous, how the evangelical movement and backlash against the hedonism of the 1960s (i.e. women’s liberation, abortion, the civil rights movement, the Pill, Stonewall, you name it) began around this time, how there’s no end of the lengths to which some people will go to control women’s (and other men’s!) sexual pleasure, the missionary position, and the fact that it’s 2008 and the law has JUST been recognized as bogus, I will simply offer my congratulations to the good citizens of Texas who are now free to enjoy themselves without the worry of possible prosecution as a sex offender. (Side note: how do you catch someone masturbating unless you’re riding the subway in New York City?)
And might I add how heartily glad I am to have grown up in a state other than Texas.
I’ve never been to Portland, Oregon, although practically everyone who’s been there–even if they’ve just met me–says I would like it there. Perhaps it’s because they intuit that I could not resist a trip to this, the world’s first (and only?) vegan strip club. The owner is a vegan, and the menu is all vegan, but fear not, there is still plenty of supple flesh to fest your eyes upon (according to the article). I wonder if all the dancers are vegan? Natural, non-surgically enhanced? Are the patrons mostly vegan? Do they have a non-leather pony?
1987: This girl, the daughter of a friend of my mom’s, lives in the neighborhood just south of ours. She is also home-schooled and every year for Valentine’s Day her parents throw a gigantic party because it’s their favorite holiday. I don’t know any of this girl’s friends–and truthfully, I don’t even know the girl that well. Her name is Alice, very old-fashioned. She looks like I imagine Laura Ingalls Wilder would look if she ditched the petticoat and got a pair of purple stirrup pants. We go on a scavenger hunt around her neighborhood, looking for items starting with each letter of the word VALENTINE. I trail behind everyone, feeling ridiculous in whatever outfit my mom has made me wear (no purple stirrups for me). I remember longing to be home reading a book, or playing with my brother who, because he is only four, has not been invited to the party.
Who’s going to win the Presidential nomination on the Democratic side? It doesn’t matter, because John McCain is going to win the presidency in November. There, I’ve said it. In response to the question, “Is America (i.e. white dudes) ready for a Black president/woman president?”, I say, nope.
Going to school with a large contingent of middle- to upper-middle-class, twentysomething white women is no picnic. Generally my days involve prolonged efforts to restrain myself from saying something accentuated with profanities. I don’t want to be the sort of person who picks meaningless fights or harps on points that will do nothing but lower my blood pressure as opposed to spurring a genuine debate, so I have largely adopted a strategy of silence during class discussions.
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