Stuff that I think about. Mostly books.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Looper's Woman Problem

Warning: Massive Looper spoilers below. If you have not seen the movie, and you plan to, don’t read any further! Of course, this whole post won’t really make sense if you haven’t seen the movie. So go see it and then come back.

Let me start by saying that Looper is excessively fun to watch. It’s brainy, at least for a blockbuster, but it’s not shy about gory bloody killy shooty action sequences. It’s disturbing and it’s clever and it’s suspenseful, but mostly it’s just really entertaining.

It also has a woman problem. Like, a major woman problem. Like, of all the blockbusters I’ve seen recently, it probably has the biggest woman problem.

First of all, it has a quantitative woman problem. Only four women in the cast are credited. Of these, only three speak and have names. Here are their roles: Sara (Emily Blunt) is a mother and reformed party girl. Suzie (Piper Perabo) is a prostitute and mother. Beatrix (Tracie Thoms) is a waitress who speaks about four sentences. Old Joe’s Wife (Summer Qing) is, as her title credit would suggest, Old Joe’s Wife. And a mother. Obviously.

None of the loopers (hired killers) who appear onscreen are women. None of the hired goons who appear onscreen are women. Director Rian Johnson, supposed visionary, can’t seem to imagine a future in which women participate in criminal activities. Maybe this doesn’t seem so bad; after all, all the women in the film are good, or at least neutral. But this is insulting. It assumes that women aren’t complex enough to turn to evil, or really to anything other than prostitution, when our lives go wrong (and prostitution always means that our lives have gone wrong, of course). It’s lazy filmmaking that goes unnoticed because we’re so used to it. If Rian Johnson did think of including a few women among his unnamed criminals, he probably dismissed the idea as being too distracting.

So, in a movie loaded with characters, Looper could only spare four lady parts. And what of these lady parts?

Let’s start with Old Joe’s Wife. Mrs. Joe goes unnamed throughout the movie and we never hear her speak, but she’s fundamental to the plot. When the Rainmaker’s henchmen come to claim Old Joe (Bruce Willis) and send him to die by his own hand - just one of many complicated time travel things, don’t worry, you’ll get it - Mrs. Joe is accidentally killed in the crossfire, prompting Old Joe to go off book and set out on a mission to find and kill the Rainmaker’s past self. (The Rainmaker is the incredibly powerful and fearful cause of all this drama and strife, for reasons that become clear later.)

When Old Joe and Mrs. Joe meet, his life is a mess. He’s a drug addict and criminal. Mrs. Joe, Old Joe explains to Young Joe (see how much easier this would be if Mrs. Joe had an actual name?), saved him from this life. “Why?” Old Joe asks Young Joe. “Ask yourself why someone would sacrifice their life for you.”

Well, exactly.

What is Mrs. Joe getting out of this relationship? We’re never told. We see some tender moments between them in flashbacks, but we’re never told that Joe is a terrific lover or a really nice guy or great at making French toast. It’d be one thing if the filmmakers let us assume that Joe provides something in this relationship, other than his need for salvation, but they don’t even do that. They assume we won’t care. Women aren’t supposed to expect anything in return for our salvation. We’re just supposed to bestow it. Does Mrs. Joe know about Joe’s past as a looper? Does she know that he’s doomed to die violently, and that he knows exactly when that will happen? Would she want Joe to risk his life and kill massive amounts of people to save hers? Who knows. Who cares? She’s Old Joe’s Wife; that’s all she is, and all we need to know about her.

Then there’s Sara. The only female character with any amount of depth to her, Sara is an Independent Woman raising her son, Cid, on a farm outside the city. She grows cane! She says “fuck” a lot! She almost masturbates! She has a shotgun! But rest assured, her main role is as Cid’s - the Rainmaker’s - mother, and thus the maker of the Rainmaker, both literally and metaphorically. She alone, we are told, controls Cid’s destiny. If she stays in his life, he’ll grow up good. If she doesn’t, he’ll grow up bad. And bad, for Cid, is really, really bad. People explode. It’s a thing.

Of course, this narrative parallels Joe’s. Joe’s mother sold him for drug money when he was a child, and this led him to a life of crime and ultimately to becoming a looper. No mention is made of his, or Cid’s, father. No mention is made of the truly crummy dystopia in which the film is set, and the societal and governmental forces that have made poverty and crime so rampant. Joe and Cid are entirely products of their mothers, and their every deed, both good and bad, can be directly traced back to their mothers’ influence.

No pressure or anything.

Looper exemplifies the problem laid out in the now-infamous Bechdel test: Women in movies exist only as props for men. We are their mothers, their wives, their prostitutes. We bring them steak and eggs, we save their lives. We shape their destinies, without getting to have destinies of our own.

And it’s frustrating, because it didn’t have to be like that. Several of the male parts could easily have been played by women without affecting the plot one bit. Think of Sigourney Weaver or Tilda Swinton in the part occupied by Jeff Daniels; how totally badass would that be? Think of a creepy little girl as the Rainmaker (though I will concede that Pierce Gagnon was extremely well cast as Cid). Throw in a few women as extras, for God’s sake. It’s telling that when Old Joe goes hunting for the potential Rainmakers, of the three children he looks for, all are boys - even though it’s explicitly stated that no one knows who the Rainmaker is and that the title could belong to either a man or a woman. At the very least, you could throw a few women onto the pile of bodies that Old Joe leaves in his wake.

And really, why not take it even further? Why can’t Joe be a woman? What would happen? I’ll tell you: the movie would go from being a blockbuster with universal appeal and a 93% rating on RottenTomatoes to a girl power movie. There’s no way to verify this, but I’m willing to bet that if only that detail were changed - if everything else in the movie were exactly the same, except that Young Joe and Old Joe were played by Rose Byrne and Glenn Close (dare to dream) - the movie wouldn’t be nearly as well received. It would be silly and fluffy and not “believable.”

So if you’re ever wondering what patriarchy is, this is it. It’s the fact that even in the imaginary future, women can shape the destinies of the criminals, supervillains, and heroes of the world; we can raise them, marry them, service their sexual needs, and take their drink orders; but we can never, ever be them.  

Friday, July 13, 2012

Four Songs That Had a Profound Influence on Me from the Ages of 15 to 22

1. Frou Frou, "Let Go"

Remember Garden State? It's actually a pretty problematic movie - Natalie Portman's character is not the first to be described as a Manic Pixie Dream Girl, but she's still the quintessential example of the harmlessly quirky sprite of a woman who teaches a mopey white hipster dude how to live and love again. Still, I don't know anyone close to my age who wasn't affected by Garden State in some way. I saw the movie with my first ever boyfriend, a month before I was moving away for university across the country. One of us cried in the car afterwards. After all, whether we were mopey white hipster dudes or not, we were all exploring our own infinite abysses - 17-year-olds arguably more so than others.

And the soundtrack! Garden State introduced an entire generation to The Shins. I haven't actually heard that much about The Shins lately, but I just Googled them and I guess they're still recording and touring, so that's cool. But anyway, the soundtrack! Pretty much every song on it is amazing, and perfectly encapsulates the themes of the movie (which are basically: home is important; don't get addicted to prescription mood-enhancing drugs; love is nice). This particular anthem to living life to the fullest and not being afraid to make mistakes was constantly playing in my first-year residence hall, which made me think of the movie, which made me think of my then-boyfriend, with whom I was attempting an ultimately unsuccessful long-distance relationship at the time. There was, indeed, beauty in the breakdown.

2. Damien Rice, "The Blower's Daughter"

But not so much beauty that I actually appreciated it at the time. If Garden State takes as its central theme that love is nice, then Closer makes a compelling argument that love is a horrifying exercise in futility that will rip your heart out of your chest, mail it to London, and give it a fake name, and even though you know that before you start, you start dating that guy who lives with a girl called Ruth anyway, because you're an idiot.

I saw Closer for the first time with my parents, which was uncomfortable. I also saw it several dozens of times after my ultimately unsuccessful long-distance relationship ended, obviously seeing myself in the Natalie Portman character (her again!). Not in the sense that I'm a stripper who wears a blue wig, just in the sense of being really, really hurt and fucked up, or so I imagined. I spent a lot of days on my dorm room bed in the dark listening to this song. Some days I ate nothing but one carrot muffin from Tim Hortons; some days I ate three full meals as well as an entire bag of nacho Doritos. It was a weird time.

3. Ani DiFranco, "Out of Habit"

It's probably pretty much impossible to talk about the self-actualization of a young woman through music without at least one Ani song, so I chose the one where she says "cunt."

I started listening to Ani DiFranco when I was about 13 because my dad had the album "Dilate" and my friend Sebastian, who I had a crush on, who it turns out was gay, recommended her to me. "Dilate" is an album about a bad breakup, which is great if you've ever been through one; at the time I had not, so it didn't really impress upon me until later. I rediscovered Ani at 15 (I still hadn't been through a breakup, but the beauty of Ani DiFranco is that if you're just old enough you have no choice but to relate to her songs) and promptly plowed through all her albums. When I first heard this one, I remember being really delighted at the line about her cunt. In high school I shaved my head, covered all of my binders with gay pride stickers, and owned every single Ani DiFranco album. It didn't occur to me until very recently that everyone thought I was a lesbian, and that might have something to do with why none of the boys I liked ever liked me back. I still listen to Ani's 1990s stuff a lot and I think any girl who hasn't by age 16 or so is in for a rough coming-of-age.

4. Justin Timberlake, "Like I Love You"

"Here, baby, put on my jacket. And then..." And then what?!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Dennis Raphael on Health Reporting (and Why It Sucks)

Dennis Raphael wrote, edited, or co-edited six (including second editions) books for my company. I have to disclose that he is thus responsible for a pretty significant chunk of my paycheque. That said, his recent blog post on health reporting is knocking me out with its awesomeness. It's no surprise that I'm generally dubious about the way health is talked about in the media, but Dr. Raphael has managed to say what I've been thinking for a long time, with half the words and twice the ire.

Raphael's work is focused on the social determinants of health - those non-genetic factors that are beyond our control but still impact our health in multiple significant ways. The idea that any part of health is beyond our control is one that the media consistently refuses to acknowledge. Mainstream media seems hellbent on perpetuating the lie that good health is a direct result of good behaviour, and that bad health is a result - and proof - of bad hehaviour. Magazines tell us to eat more vegetables and get more sleep; they don't tell us to address social and economic inequalities that lead to alarming gaps in general health and wellbeing amongst the Canadian population. Raphael does a pretty good job of hypothesizing why this might be so:

[W]hat are the implications for reporters – and their editors and publishers — suddenly pointing out that their last 1000 stories about fruits and vegetables, exercise, and tobacco use as the primary determinants of health were misguided at best and patently wrong at worst[?]

But if I may be so bold as to criticize the man who keeps me in tofu and gym memberships, I think he also could have addressed what seems to me to be a simple and obvious reason to keep up the lie: It means we wouldn't get to make fun of fat people anymore.

I'm exaggerating, but I'm also serious. If fat is considered to be the primary external indicator of poor health - and it is, erroneously - and if health is considered to be almost 100% under our own personal control - and it is, erroneously - then the despicable way people of size are treated by society, the media, and health care professionals is justified. And the way we treat fat people isn't just gross, it's a marketing tool. The diet and exercise industries take in billions and billions of dollars by telling us a) that it's bad to be fat, and b) that fat people could be Not Fat if they just Tried Hard Enough. Of course, Trying Hard Enough means investing time and money that many people don't have - not to mention the fact that weight loss has a success rate of under 10%. So we're trapped in an endless hamster wheel of body shame, unattainable goals, weight loss, weight gain, more body shame, and everybody makes a pretty penny.

I'm not sure what Dennis Raphael's views are on fat acceptance, but I think he'd agree that the almost one-track focus on weight as a determinant of health is not only misguided but dangerous. Maybe it would make a good book? Just saying.

By the way, if you just HAPPEN to find this interesting, you MIGHT just mosey on over to the CSPI website and MAYBE you'll pick up one or two of Dennis Raphael's books. I mean, if you want. Oh, and here's a picture.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Online Dating, Controlvees, and Street Harassment: A Musing

For better or for worse, and possibly against my better judgment, I've recently re-entered the fray of online dating. I make no defense, except to say that I meet people almost exclusively through book publishing these days, and straight single dudes are somewhat hard to find in that context. It's lost its stigma, ok? Digital Age! Social Media! Leave Me Alone!

Anyway, if you're a straight single woman of moderate attractiveness who has ever tried online dating, you know that you basically get two types of messages. The first type is from a guy who has read (or at least skimmed) what you've posted in your profile, found something interesting, and struck up a conversation about it. They might not do it very well, and their motives might not always be sincere, but they're at least trying to engage you and learn about you and get you talking.

The second type is from a different kind of man altogether, whom I like to call the Controlvee, based on his method of message-composing: Ctrl+C + Ctrl+V. The Controlvee sends exactly the same message, perhaps with some small variations, to every woman he thinks is likely to give him a boner. The Controlvees can themselves be broken into two separate categories. The Clueless Controlvee is probably a perfectly nice man in real life, but simply doesn't get it. His message usually goes something like this:

"Hey! I had a look at your profile and you seem like a really cool girl. I'm a confident 25-year-old who loves to get outside and enjoy everything this city has to offer! I'm looking for someone I can take out for romantic dinners, spend weekends on camping trips, and just relax and enjoy life. Write me back if you like what you see!"
While the Clueless Controlvee isn't trying to be offensive, he still is. Because nothing in that message translates into "I am interested in you as a human being, and would like to talk to you about things that you are passionate about, because we share common interests." It just translates into "I'm bored and lonely and I saw your photo and you appear not to be disfigured so I'm going to shotgun this form letter out to you in the hopes that you'll care enough to reply in a way that I didn't." Or, in other words: "I want you to make all the effort, because I'm lazy."

The other kind of Controlvee is a different breed altogether, and I have termed him Controlvee McDouche. Controlvee McDouche is, not to put too fine a point on it, an asshole. Like the Clueless Controlvee, he copies-and-pastes the exact same message to every woman within a 100-mile radius who doesn't look like she lives in a swamp. If you're lucky, his message will look like this:

"wow what a beatuful smile!!! do u have msn? check out my profile n let me know if u want 2 chat ;) xo mike"

It's always Mike.

If you're not lucky, it looks like this:

"dayaaam girl u gotta nice pair!!! lol jus playin' whut u doin this weekend? hit me up"

I'm not sure what Controlvee McDouche is thinking, but I can be sure of this: Controlvee McDouche is not at all interested in me. He's interested in what he can get out of me. To Controlvee McDouche, I am not a human being with experiences, interests, and values, some of which do not involve his penis. I am something he can use to accomplish what he wants. To put it another way, I am an object.

I've been reading The Sexist a lot recently, and Amanda Hess strikes up a lot interesting discussions about street harassment. What's been fascinating to me, as I navigate this nebulous world, is how similar the Controlvee is to a street harasser. His approach is the same as those guys who honk their car horn at you when you're walking down the street, or the guy you pass by who demands that you stop and chat with him for a while. The street harasser doesn't care about you; he cares about what you can provide him.

And just like the street harasser, Controlvees really, really hate being called out on their obvious misogyny and objectification. Some men get pretty peeved when they're told that telling a woman they don't know to "give us a smile" is offensive; they think us wimminz, being immediately wooed by compliments, ought to be flattered. Similarly, Controlvees see nothing wrong with their approach, and think that you're the one at fault because you didn't respond. What, you don't like hearing that you have a beautiful smile? What's wrong with you? Don't you like flattery? Everyone likes being told that they're cute! You're just stuck-up! Your standards are way too high!

I don't think my standards are too high, really. I just would like my opinions, activities, and interests to be acknowledged, even in a small way. I have a whole big list right there on my profile of things I like to do, stuff I like to listen to, what I do for a living, opinions I have. None of that matters to Controlvees. Because the only thing that matters to a Controlvee is the Controlvee.

Sigh. I wish I could go back to college. Life was much simpler back then.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Obesity Crisis Media Hypery

Via my good friend Katie - who is a rarity amongst health writers, in that she actually employs critical thinking skills on a regular basis - comes this article from Reuters about an impressive study on weight gain and age. Researchers followed the exercise and eating habits of 34,000 American women over the course of 15 years. When I say "impressive," I mean in terms of the sample size and length of the study, because the results were decidedly unimpressive: The average woman can expect to gain 5.7 pounds over 15 years.

I don't know about you, but the fact that I will be slightly heavier when I'm 38 than I am now is far less concerning to me than the fact that this apparently qualifies as news. I'm no scientist, but isn't it pretty much common sense that metabolism decreases with age, which leads to weight gain? Or maybe it's that people, especially women, tend to take on more responsibilities as they age (children, housework, increased career responsibility, finances), which translates into less time for exercise and dieting? Well, whatever the reason, I and, I would hope, most reasonable thinking people are decidedly "meh" about these findings.

But of course, this is the media, where any excuse to rant about teh fatties is a good one. So let's count all the ways in which this article corresponds exactly to Obesity Crisis Media Hypery, shall we?

Obesity Crisis Media Hypery Method #1: Combine relatively unremarkable data with ridiculously hyperbolic reporting.

As I've already mentioned, the fact that 40-year-olds tend to weigh more than 25-year-olds is neither breaking nor news. But according to Reuters, a 5.7-pound weight gain is incentive to war. No, I'm not exaggerating:

Winning that war will require individuals to make changes in their daily routines -- like walking or biking to work -- but it may also take a shift in policy to make it easier for people in fit exercise into their lives, researchers said. (emphasis mine)

You heard it here first, folks. Those six pounds are the enemy; your (necessarily female) body is the battleground. Which makes you a soldier, and a patriot. You're not just trying to stay skinny enough for your skinny jeans; you're serving your country. (The fact that the United States is currently at war - an actual war, in which people are getting killed - is apparently lost on Reuters.)

Obesity Crisis Media Hypery Method #2: Accompany article with unflattering photo of morbidly obese woman or women, with face(s) obscured in some way.

It is apparently the law that any article that mentions weight in any way must be accompanied by a Headless Fatty photo. To Reuters' credit, they seem to have removed the photo that originally headed the article, but rest assured that they stayed well within the parameters of that unbreakable law. The photo was of two very large women in bathing suits at the pool, their backs turned.

Not only is the Headless Fatty photo dehumanizing and offensive - click the link for more on that - but it's also total bullshit. The ubiquitous Headless Fatty, first of all, is a human being, who in all likelihood did not ask or intend to represent a public health crisis, and who, without her consent, now finds herself the subject of disgust and ridicule in international news. That's the important thing. But also? Most overweight and obese people do not look like the Headless Fatty. The Headless Fatty is much, much fatter than the vast majority of overweight and obese Americans, which makes the use of her photo to accompany these types of news stories completely inaccurate and misleading. It's like if you wrote an article about how it's been raining a little more this year than it did last year, and then you illustrated it with a picture of a hurricane. (I struggled for a while with that analogy, and I'm still not happy with it, because it seems to imply that hurricanes and morbidly obese people have similarly devastating effects. If you have a better suggestion, feel free to leave it below.)

Obesity Crisis Media Hypery Method #3: Dole out completely unrealistic "advice" that will solve this public health crisis.

Still worried about being slightly fatter in 15 years than you are now? Don't worry; there's a solution. Just spend seven hours a week exercising.

Ok, on its face, I guess that doesn't seem like that much. An hour a day? Ok. But let's break this down. Compared to a lot of people, I am really not that busy. I work, but only about 44 hours a week; I go to school, but only part-time; I don't have kids; and my social calendar is relatively sparse on account of my being a prematurely elderly lady who doesn't like to go to bed past 11. But even I would have trouble meeting this goal. Why? Partly it's because I'm as lazy as a housecat, but mostly, it's because I have other shit I like to do.

Here's what the researchers suggest:

"I think the easiest thing is actually commuting," she said, suggesting people walk or bike to work, and if they drive, to park farther away from the office.
It takes an astonishing amount of privilege to say this kind of thing with a straight face. First of all, ok, there's the assumption that everyone everywhere works in an office. Second, walking to work is really not an option if you work long hours and live far away, because, see, it gets dark out. And while women are told that we have to walk around all the time because otherwise we'll be fat, we're also told that walking around all the time will get us raped and we should never do it. See how that's confusing? And I would imagine that, for people who don't live in biker-friendly cities, "biking to work" is actually not the easiest thing because it could get you killed. Way quicker and probably more painfully than the deathfats.

But sure. Commuting to your plushy 9-to-5 office job is the easiest thing. Obvs. Can't do it? Too bad. BOOTSTRAPS!
If seven hours a week are just too hard to fit in, Lee said people might want to consider vigorous exercise such as jogging, which can cut the weekly time requirement in half.
Consider this, Lee: To jog, you either need a gym membership, which most people can't afford, or you need access to safe pathways, which most people don't live close to. You also need running shoes and appropriate clothes, and you need to not have joint problems. But ok. Thanks, tips! Apparently exercise is good for you, and this I never knew.


Two-thirds of American adults are overweight or obese, increasing the risk of heart disease, diabetes and other chronic illnesses, and adding about $150 billion a year to U.S. healthcare costs.

[citation needed]

Full disclosure: If I fulfill my genetic destiny and gain 5.7 pounds by the time I'm 38, I will have officially crossed the threshold from cushy, privileged, unremarkable "normal" into the public health crisis zone that is "overweight." The fact that a gain of six pounds will suddenly mean I'm costing everybody billions of dollars in health care costs is total unmitigated bullshit. I'm too tired and angry to get into exactly why right now, but check out this post and the rest of the excellent Obesity Paradox series.

Listen up, guys: bodies change as they age. The hard facts of living mean that you will sag in some places and wrinkle in others. Your hair might get grey, your back might get sore whenever it's humid. And yes, you might gain a little bit of weight. But frankly, by the time I'm 38, I'll be way too busy editing the next Joseph Boyden novel and planning my wedding to Sam Worthington (on whom I will, of course, be cheating with Joseph Boyden) to give even one tiny rat's ass about the fact that when I was 23, I weighed six pounds less. It just isn't worth going to war.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Subway Sexual Har(ass)ment: Or, Why I Should Flush My Metropass Down the Toilet

A few minutes ago, I posted this as my Facebook status:

Jessie Hale Reason #3,423 to hate the subway: unable to tell difference between lack of personal space due to overcrowding, and legitimate sexual harassment.

But I feel that this story really requires further explanation, or at least, vigorous use of slant text, which Facebook cannot at this time accommodate. I need italics to deal with this situation, people. It is italic worthy.

So this morning I got down to Eglinton Station at my usual start time of 8:30, which incidentally is the same time that every single person in the entire city gets there too. It's always busy, and today was no exception, but it was compounded today by the fact that the TTC seemed to be running even less efficiently than usual. So, while more and more people kept showing up, the appearance of subway cars was less frequent. I think the scientific term is "clusterfuck."

A side story: I've been working more or less 9-5 in Toronto for about ten months. Accounting for a two-month period where my schedule essentially consisted of me showing up at the Tightrope office whenever the hell I felt like it and leaving two hours later, along with the usual holidays and weekends, I estimate that I have boarded the subway at 8:30 a.m. at Eglinton Station about 180 times. Now, on very busy mornings, the TTC will occasionally shake itself awake for long enough to send an empty car to high-profile stations, rather than just letting everybody board at Finch and hoping for the best. I was once waiting at Eglinton Station when one such empty subway car ambled along. And stopped. I got a seat on the subway, y'all. It was probably one of the best moments of my entire life (which is a sad situation that might require another, less entertaining blog post). It happened AN single time (HT, out of 180 times, giving it an experiential probability of 0.006, and yet, every single morning, I hope that it will happen again.

Needless to say, it didn't. An empty car actually did amble along, but it just hooted in a surly sort of manner and kept going towards Bloor or wherever the hell the important people were waiting. So, when a subway car finally did allow us to board, it was, of course, packed. I didn't so much get on voluntarily as I was carried along on a sea of sleepy bank-worker people, but I did actually manage to get a spot away from the door and close to a communal pole. I think my gym bag was wedged between someone else's knees, but nonetheless, I was fairly satisfied with the hand (ha) fate had dealt me.


Ok. Now, I understand that when the subway is crowded, you really don't have much of a choice about where your body goes or which of its parts touch which of other passengers' parts. It's not like I'm going to ask anybody to respect my bubble on the TTC at 8:30 a.m. And I also understand that my ass, being not exactly diminutive, is fairly difficult to avoid even at the best of times. In polite circles, you might refer to it as a round thing in yo' face. But let's just say that whatever was touching my ass this morning felt an awful lot like a hand, with five separate and very active fingers. And let's also just say that that hand felt like it was moving with purpose. I was willing to give the pervert behind me the benefit of the doubt while we were actually moving - maybe s/he was just succumbing to the normal inertia experienced by all physical matter, and certainly the two very short women in front of me who were unlucky enough not to be able to reach the overhead pole were having no small trouble keeping themselves out of other people's bizz - but when we were stopped for a few moments at St. Clair, the damn thing was still moving very actively and very much with purpose.

Trouble is, not only could I not move away from The Thing (appropriate, no?), I also couldn't turn my body around to a sufficient degree to determine whether or not what I suspected was happening was actually happening. I couldn't even see who was behind me! It could have been a completely normal nine-to-fiver like myself whose purse was comprised of unfortunate dangling zippers and knobs that just happened to have been in the wrong place at the wrong time. Or it could have been a sketchy weirdo who gets off on the idea of fondling innocent women who convince themselves that it's probably just somebody's purse! I'll never know. And that terrifies me, you guys. It was a traumatizing incident made all the more traumatizing by the fact that I don't even know if it was traumatizing or not!

So, yanno. If you're in the market for a Metropass, let me know.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Slushlet: Ampersand from Alas, A Blog on Lowering Abortion Rates

Sometimes, I see things on the Internet that make me say "Yes! Yes! Yes!" And sometimes, those things are not porn.

If the primary purpose of the pro-life movement is to make sure women who have sex have to “face the consequences,” then the pro-life strategy we’ve seen in this country makes sense. But if the primary purpose is to make the US abortion rate as low as possible, then it would make a lot more sense to look instead at strategies that have actually produced low abortion rates in the real world. And pro-lifers, by and large, have shown no interest in that.

Go read the whole thing here. (I realize it's from a pretty old post, but the points made bear re-hashing.)