Sunday, May 31, 2009

Review: Pixar's Up


I saw Up yesterday, and, of course, loved it, as I knew I would. Everything about it--the fantastic premise of a man tying balloons to his house to travel to South America; the sense of adventure; the cute little chubby kid; the goofy dog who becomes pack-leader--EVERYTHING.

I felt the story of Carl, especially, was wonderfully portrayed. There are happy times with him and his wife Ellie, but there is the usual life's disappointments, such as having to put off a long-awaited trip to pay bills. And then there is the sad scene where they find out they're unable to have children. I was choking up when Carl bought the tickets to South America, but then Ellie dies before they can go on their trip. I found it quite touching that Carl was so devoted to her that he fulfills his promise no matter what. Carl's character is wonderfully portrayed, and we sympathize with him as he tries to maintain hold over his house and self--even as there is pressure to enter an old folks' home.

And then you have Russell, the adorable scout (I believe he's Asian--though thankfully not stereotypically Asian--yay!) who is driven to "assist" Carl to earn his final badge. He's also loving, determined to save Kevin, the bird, so she (yes, she) can get back to her babies (on a side note, I'm actually glad that when they realized that Kevin is in fact a "she" they didn't do that thing where they give her a feminine version of her name, or even change it to a "girl's" name). We also learn that Russell does not see his dad very often--getting the sense that he's one of those dad's that isn't very involved, and we see that Russell is dealing with his constant disappointment of his father, and missing even the simple things.

At the end of the movie, Carl and Russell both get what they've been missing in life, and they find it in each other.

Also, it was sweet when Carl realizes that Ellie's Adventure Book isn't blank in the section "Stuff I'm Going to Do," but is instead filled with pictures of her life with Carl.

I would like to point out that while I still love Pixar movies, I still wish we could have girls as main characters once in a while. I, as a girl, am able to relate to the males as they go on their adventures. I did not watch Finding Nemo or Up or Ratatouille in distraction because I was forced to relate to a male character, and so it is not a stretch of the mind AT ALL for boys and men to relate to girl characters. The story is not affected, but it at least gives us variety and equality in films, as well as illustrating that boys are not the only ones that can have adventures (that being said, I loved that Ellie was the more outspoken and adventurous person in Up; I only wish that she could have been there in more than just spirit, and while I don't think I would change anything in the movie, I would request that for future movies we don't use the death of the woman to uplift the male character (think of Up and Nemo).

While the scouts' ceremony is a touching scene that further illustrates the bond between Russell and Carl, I found it sort of odd that while Russell's mother is present, she was not standing up on stage with her son--she was in the audience. Just because all the kids are up there with dads is no reason to let your kid stand up there alone--he's not alone. Though I get that Russell has an absent father, they could have emphasized the relationship with the mother. Yeah, there's something missing, but he's not alone. I don't get along with my father and I don't talk to him much, but I wouldn't give up my relationship with my mother for anything.

Oh, and I have one more issue: all the dog characters that Muntz commanded were all male. They couldn't have made one female??? How hard would that have been? Just have a female voice for any one of the dogs--you don't even have to change the appearance of the dogs (since they're androgynous anyway).

I can't wait until this movie comes out on dvd. As with all other Pixar movies, I have to own it (well, except Cars, but I've got the others).

Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Personals: Now a place where you can solicit assassinations!

A newspaper in Pennsylvania ran an ad calling for the assassination of President Obama was pulled early when it became clear what it was advertising--only after the editor received phone calls from people complaining about it. In case you're having trouble reading the above ad, it reads "May Obama follow in the footsteps of Lincoln, Garfield, McKinley, & Kennedy!"

This article says of the publisher:

John Elchert of the Times-Observer in Warren also told E&P the ad -- slated to run for three days -- was stopped after appearing once Thursday. "It is unfortunate that it got past our classified people," he said. "My first call [Thursday] was to the police chief and I believe his protocol is to contact the Secret Service."
They apparently do not know who paid to run the ad.

What really bothers me about this incident is that the publisher, while having apologized, referred to it as an "oversight." Elchert further states:
The ad representative didn't make the connection among the four other presidents mentioned and mistakenly allowed the ad to run.
I'm not buying that. Even if you don't know Garfield and McKinley were assassinated, you cannot possibly miss the connection between Lincoln and Kennedy, since their assassinations are of the more infamous variety. Wouldn't this have made a "click" moment in the rep's head? Oh, and no one's lost their job over this "oversight."

I'm going to go ahead and file this under "racism," since it's quite obvious that Obama instills a certain fear, to the point where someone wishes him dead. I'm willing to bet the person that paid for this ad is white.

Sotomayor's threatening to old white men--who knew?

The right has relentlessly continued its racist and sexist attack on Sotomayor. Surprise surprise. Their arguments and basis for these attacks is weak, at best, having almost no substance. She has been called "dumb" and and "affirmative action case" despite her obvious intelligence and accomplishments. Take a look at her resume. It's clear that these attackers are grasping at straws.

In a post called "The white man is being oppressed" over at Salon, the author points out the origin for most of the "reverse racist" fodder in a 2001 speech Sotomayor gave in which she said she

would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life.
This, taken out of the context of the speech, is what has the rightwing white men twisting themselves in a knot. They find this speech so threatening to their privileged whiteness that they call her the very thing they're guilty of. This is projection, folks.

The attacks Sotomayor is receiving is indicative of the society in which we live. Not only must she endure sexism (as a woman in a patriarchal society, she must be extra intelligent and hardworking to keep up with her male counterparts) as a Latina she must also face racism from white men who find her threatening to their privilege. It is so simple to write her off as an "affirmative action case"--surely she took away opportunity from an already privileged white man. Women who graduate from Princeton as summa cum laude are certainly stupid, right?

I love how the idiots like Beck and Limbaugh are so quick to lash out at a successful WOC in a move that clearly indicates their own insecurities and projections. Sadly though, there are those eating this shit up.

"Sex with ducks and gay marriage are one in the same"

At last, I finally have discovered what the rightwing conservative nutjobs are all upset about. If we let gay people marry, then the next step is, of course, sex with ducks! They simply have soft-spots for ducks, and wish to protect them. Finally, an inkling of nobility...

Well, good thing a lot of us don't care about the rights of ducks.

H/T Salon

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Fuzz Therapy

Oh man, I forgot it's Wednesday (sorry, bad day at work). So here it is, your dose of my fluffy Princess:Yup, that's her curled up around Tha Carter III. I thought I'd share this one since I'm anticipating the release of Lil Wayne's rock n' roll album Rebirth.

I just like this one because of her stretchy paws. She often lays in a sunbeam like this.

Oh, and just so everyone's aware, there will be a new post this week (maybe next week, depending on how ambitious I am) on Sara Douglass' fantasy novels. That's all you get for now. Check back later!

Language: Today's phrase is "reverse racist"

You could make this a drinking game. In fact, the video is more bearable if you drink along. Go ahead. Every time some white man calls Sotomayor a "racist" or a "reverse racist," drink!

Well, that didn't help like I thought it would. But anyway, here are a bunch of privileged white men throwing the word "racist" around, aiming their hate at Sonia Sotomayor, calling her a "racist" and a "reverse racist." This is simply their way of exhibiting racism against her in an attempt to project their own hate and bigotry onto her. Gotta love the ol' scapegoat tactic.

Undoubtedly, these men have heard the term "racist" before, and certainly have heard it aimed at them. But rather than owning their privilege and recognizing their own bigotry, they've decided to take the very term they shrug off daily and use it against Sotomayor. And for added ire, they've decided to invoke the phrase "reverse racist," which actually is an admission that the term "racist" is applicable to whites only (as the privileged group), and seeks to spin it right back. Ridiculous? You bet it is.

These men are fuming because an intelligent WOC is now in the Supreme Court. They're already frothing at a black man leading our country--now we have women in positions of power? Oh noes!!! And to think she beat out some poor white man because of affirmative action. Ugh. I'm sick of this.

Also, I'm going to cite Renee on this one:

Another 101 fact, racism equals privilege and power therefore, it is not possible for a person of color to be racist. We may have individual prejudices but racism is an impossibility. I would furthermore point out to you that calling someone a “reverse racist” is nothing more than a silencing technique.
So to all these white men crying about Sotomayor's (imagined) "reverse racism" (I'm talking to you, Beck): STFU.

H/T: Eschaton

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A whole new level of disappointment

I checked China Mieville's tour schedule. And big surprise, he won't be coming to Wisconsin, or any state remotely near Wisconsin. Not that I blame him. No one wants to come to Wisconsin. I didn't even want to move here.

Anyway, if you're at all familiar with this blog, you're well aware of the disappointment I am now feeling, considering I had reserved my copy of The City and The City, and was thrilled when I acquired it yesterday. I want nothing more than to meet the man whose work I so admire, and have him sign a copy of his latest novel.

If I could afford it, I would fly to the nearest book-signing. Hell, I'd even drive. But I can't, and I'll miss the chance to meet my favorite author because he's only visiting five states that aren't near me.

Maybe next time...

Turtle Blogging

Today I decided to post pictures of my turtle's adventures outside (the first time she's been out since last summer). Like my cat Princess, I've had my turtle since I was in elementary school. It's sort of cool having pets that were once my child play-things. Anyway, I wasn't very good at coming up with names as a kid, so my mom named the turtle (although you could certainly point out that my mom isn't that great at it either, for which I would not fault you). So anyway, you are now introduced to Whoopi, my turtle (yes, named after that Whoopi).

It took Whoopi a few minutes to get comfortable. She stayed in her shell, until she finally stuck her head out, realized she was free, and took off.

She then went across the brick walkway, and spotted our giant tree.

Undaunted by this new obstacle, she began to climb.

Exhibiting profound turtle-courage, she clawed her way up the tree, seemingly nonchalant about the threat of gravity.

She reached the dizzying height of ten inches (before I panicked and plucked her from the tree).
Like any child, however, Whoopi learned where I did not want her to go, and of course would go back there as soon as I brought her nearer to me. Among these places are the tree, under the deck, the driveway, the road, and the fence (where a hungry-looking robin perched, watching her the entire time we were outside. I don't know if robins eat turtles, but this bird circled the yard whenever the turtle moved, and I chased it off several times, only for it to come back and perch a few feet away).

Now that Whoopi's awake, you'll probably see more of her summer adventures, until she goes back to sleep for the winter.

The elusive mythical creature: size 14 shorts

I had heard about how difficult it is for the average-sized lady to purchase clothing, but I hadn't experienced it firsthand until this last weekend. I haven't had to buy clothing in a while, and even when my dependable jeans suddenly rip, I convert them into a cute skirt, or I'll pick up something at Target or Wal-Mart. These places seem to understand those of us with a larger bottom. This understanding has not reached the higher end of the fashion spectrum, and certainly only exists in stores that specifically cater to those of us with some curves.

I was scouring my neighborhood mall last weekend (normally I avoid malls like the plague since I'm not a huge fan of people and children, but my fiance's family apparently loves malls, so there you have it). I had no intention of even looking at anything, since, as some of you already know, I'm broke and certainly can't justify spending $50 on a shirt I can make myself if I really felt like it, but my fiance's mother insisted, asking if there was anything I could use. I eventually picked out a few tank tops, and then was going to look for some shorts since I severely lack a summer wardrobe.

I quickly discovered that it is impossible to find shorts longer than crotch-length, and even more impossible to find anything above a size 10. I wear size 14; I'm not going to try to squeeze my ass into a size 10.

And then I just thought of how incredibly ridiculous it is that all these stores (and it's not just exclusive to my mall) don't carry clothing to accommodate the average-sized lady. Wouldn't they make more money if they carried items for the largest group of women customers? Average is average because more women fall into that group, yet these companies are willing to ignore them completely.

I will not starve myself so I can squeeze into their tiny shorts. There is enough shaming of women as it is without me feeling bad about myself because not one store carries shorts in my size. I was actually embarrassed trailing my fiance's mother in search of shorts that didn't exist. We must have gone into every store, and no luck in any of them. Who knew a pair of shorts for my ass would be mythical? Similarly, finding pants in my size is difficult.

I can easily find tops that fit properly, so why is it such an endeavor to find something to encase my butt? The clothing industry has apparently decided that the average woman is big fat fatty who doesn't deserve a fucking pair of designer jeans. They don't post an obvious "No fatasses" sign in their windows, but trust me, it's implicit in how they further your shame by pursuing a hunt for something they don't carry, or reducing you to asking for the size near the swarms of size 1's.

Perhaps one day the industry will realize that women come in all shapes and sizes and make clothing to reflect this reality. I have hips and curves. I am not pencil thin. I am average. I would like a pair of shorts that fits my body.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Third-grader organizes rally in support of equal marriage

This makes me get all teary-eyed. How inspiring is it that a third-grader can feel so much passion for equality that he organizes a rally? It's a lovely reminder that the anti-marriage front is losing, that more generations of people are on board for marriage equality.

Ethan McNamee organized a rally in Denver last Saturday, on the steps of the Colorado State Capital, urging for equal marriage rights. This kid is awesome.

I have high hopes for this kid. If he's passionate this young, think of what he will continue to do in the name of equality. His parents must be so proud.

H/T: Shakesville

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Oh what the hell

I wasn't going to do another post on Adam Lambert, but after him LOSING I feel I must. Anyway, congrats to Kris, but booooooo Americans who made him win. Adam is clearly more awesome. But, as my mom said in her consoling text message, "Adam is not locked in a contract for two years though." Well, that is an excellent point, seeing as how the "American Idol" is essentially limited by the title and contract for two years.

That being said, I expect Mr. Lambert to release an album by July. Especially since I'm so gracious to give him a shout out on my space here at "o filthy grandeur."
I do acknowledge that it is amazing that Adam Lambert made it to the final two, but I'm still a little disappointed. I just love him so much ::::tear::::

Fuzz Therapy

Here it is, your weekly dose of fuzziness, starring my Princess. Since I already had a sewing post this week, I figure Princess can participate as well.

What my darling kitty has perched her fluff onto is my current cross-stitch project. Note that this project is not on the couch, but rather placed on my cluttered table. This did not deter her at all, and soon she was napping on it. And, since I know the consequences of moving this stubborn royal pain, I did not touch her.

So now there's a million fine white furs all over my project. A sticky-roller doesn't work as well as one might think, so now Princess' presence will be sewn into the pattern. It works though, because it's actually of a cat (that's its paw beneath Princess' own). Princess always finds a way to interact with any handcraft of mine, whether it's hunting thread, chewing the yarn as it's pulled to my hands by my crochet hook, or resting on yards of lace and satin. She's a fluffy ball of cute.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

In my acceptance, I'm too sensitive; In other's hatred, they're standing up for what they believe in

This is something that's been bothering me for some time. I am sure my fellow womanists/feminists in the community will be able to relate; I have been told countless times that I am too sensitive, that I'm looking too much into something. This is the usual response I and others get when we call out racism, sexism, homophobia, and transphobia. As allies, we try to stand up and preach love and acceptance, human rights and equality for all, and instead of being praised for our bravery, our courage for speaking up against a person or group we challenge to think, we are accused of being weak and sensitive. Why does no one acknowledge how difficult and sometimes frightening it is to stand up to someone else, when sometimes that "someone else" is a member of our own family, or a beloved friend? Weakness would be not speaking up in the first place, not challenging the hateful beliefs of others that some people are worthy of privilege, and others are not.

And then you have someone like Carrie Prejean, whose beliefs have taught her that denying human rights to some people is okay. She is exulted for standing up for what she believes in (check out the comments), praised for her unwavering faith. Her faith and beliefs justify denying others human rights. While I myself am not religious, I come from a family that is--but my own mother knows enough that her faith is no excuse to hate others.

Standing by your beliefs is all well and good, but not when it legitimizes hatred. And also, if we're really going to praise people for standing up for what they believe in, then it should apply to me too, and others like me. I am not sensitive. I am not weak. Don't embrace someone else's hatred because she's adamant about a faith that excludes a large group of people and simultaneously charge me with "looking too much" into something. It's a blind sort of silencing dismissal, saying that what we believe and call out is unimportant. It's all bullshit.

Pixar's Inclusion of Women Characters: Thanks but no thanks

My previous Pixar post has gotten quite a bit of attention, and is even being linked to from other forums and sites. And, as should be expected, there's the token dude in there telling all the ladies they're "looking too much into it," stating that there are plenty of female characters in the movies. So I will now express my problems with this "defense." First, I will restate my previous and non-wavering point: Pixar films are male-centric even to the point where the directors and writers of said films are predominantly male; thus, it's ALL about the dudes.

Now, I will discuss the problems with female representation in the films (which may be a bit of a reiteration from my previous post, but bear with me).

Generally speaking, the women characters in Pixar films are mere tools of the men. Though women are, to some degree, involved, the focal points of the conflict and plot are always men. The men must do the journeying to some goal. If women are privileged with inclusion on said journey, they have the chore of nudging the man along. They are thus objects; they are tools the man gets to use to achieve his manliness.

Here's how I break it down:

  • Bo Peep (Toy Story): Does she even do anything other than serve as the sexual prize upon Woody's return?
  • Helen (The Incredibles): she's the homemaker. It is her job to raise her kids and her damn husband. While her husband is off trying to relive his glory days with his buddy, she's at home, having given up her superheroine-ness for family life (please note how much ass she previously kicked). She only reclaims the identity of Elastigirl when her husband goes AWOL and she's got to go get him back.
  • Violet (The Incredibles): She's the angsty teen (or preteen--not sure how old she is) and seems to be happy at the end because she's accepted her superheroine identity. And how does this serve her? She is suddenly able to get the attention of a boy she's had a crush on. Wonderful. A boy legitimizes her identity (aren't we sick of this cliche yet?).
  • Boo (Monsters, Inc.): she's an adorable infant who is the center of the conflict in the story. She doesn't really count as a female character because she can barely speak. She's just the wandering cute thing. Though the story is based on her being in the monster-world, she's just a baby barely interacting with it.
  • Celia (Monster, Inc.): she's the love-interest of one of the male characters. The only thing she really does is cause a distraction--oh you badass!
  • Dory (Finding Nemo): Like Boo, she doesn't really count. Her failing memory is a huge issue and she's pretty much there for comic relief (though I recognize it is because of her that Nemo is reunited with Marlin--though also recognize that shortly after they must rescue her--I mean, what a dumb bitch, getting caught in that net. Her capture legitimizes the relationship between father and son, and teaches the father a lesson on parenting).
  • Sally (Cars): she used to be a successful lawyer, but gave that up for the allure of the small-town. In her seduction of Lightning, she also makes him aware of the beauty of small-towns. Her goal to bring success to Radiator Springs is not as important as Lightning's journey and success. Great job, Sally.
  • Colette (Ratatouille): she's a tough woman, driven by her desire to succeed in a man's world. But then comes along the adorable goofball and her desire suddenly shifts from her own success to his. So she teaches him the shit and becomes his shadow.
  • Eve (Wall*E): she's a trigger-happy badass lady-robot--but her mission is clearly the secondary one. Though she's constantly saving Wall*E's ass, the viewer still understands that she's not the important one (uh, hello--whose name is the title??).
  • Princess Atta (A Bug's Life): her life is centered around her eventually becoming the Queen. She has authority over the colony, like her mother, but the story isn't about that. She's first seen as Flick's adversary, then his lover (the prize thing again). Her story is not the important one.
The commonality shared by all these lady-characters is that they do not really have goals or missions of their own, and if they do it's overshadowed by the goals of the men. Take Eve, for instance. Eve's mission, getting the plant to the captain, seems like it's more important than Wall*E's mission to get some hot hand-holding action; but we as viewers are still perched on the shoulders of the males (Wall*E's hand-holding trumps Eve's saving the human race--and don't even try telling me that Wall*E found the plant first--he doesn't know what it is; just that Eve is happy when he gives it to her; also recognize the link between the femininity of Eve and her directive to find plants--links femininity and nature). The story we are allowed to follow is that of the males.

Helen going off to fetch her husband; Dory struggling with her own elusive mind; Colette's aggressiveness in the kitchen*; these are all unimportant side quests. What really matters is what Marlin, Sully and Mike, Woody and Buzz, Lightning, Wall*E, Linguine and Remy, and Bob are all busy doing. Even the rats in Ratatouille are all male--the only lady rats we see are at the end listening to the story or admiring the muscles of the males (couldn't Remy have had a sister--and where's his mother? Those rats didn't birth themselves). All Remy's conflict is male-centered. Even his imagination conjures a man.

The point is the inclusion of a female character is not the same as actually making a strong female lead. Creating side characters that are quirky and ass-kicking women does nothing to assuage the fact that what Pixar thinks is important and relevant in stories encompasses the actions of men. Women are just tools along for the ride.

Up doesn't give me much hope either. Hell, even the damn dog is gendered male. It seems that Pixar has decided once and for all that women don't matter enough to even give them their usual side-character representations. Fuck.

Oh, and let me point out how cliche it is to treat strong female characters as exceptions to the rule. Strong women are not anomalies, and our stories are just as relevant as any man's.

*Please note that the character of Colette isn't even all that fleshed out--we only see her in the kitchen--the one scene where she's not in the kitchen, she's contemplating the kitchen. We know nothing of her outside this setting.

Note: To all the menz who I'm sure are going to whine at me--go ahead. Argue with me. Your arguments are unfounded and blind.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

On my own hand-crafting: a shameful hobby of a poor kid?

I've always loved making things. When I was a kid, my paternal grandmother would buy me crafts from stores so I could paint sculptures, or make fun decorative objects. My mother taught me to hand-stitch when I was still in elementary school, and I found a fun and rewarding past time in crafting crude stuffed animals and dolls out of old clothing, which I would then give to my friends as gifts. Admittedly, they were ugly creatures. I had no sense of depth--I would simply draw a cat shape or a dog shape in a continuous line on two pieces of fabric, cut, and sew them together. Mismatched and chipped buttons served as eyes. I didn't even turn the animals inside out after stitching them together (and had no concept of right-side vs. wrong side), so the bunched stitches outlined the bodies, and blue marker lines were visible beneath the threads.

I would cut pieces of old t-shirts and jeans and used them for blankets for my dolls and Littlest Petshop toys (the old cool ones that actually looked like animals, not these stupid ass bobble-heads that they sell today).

I learned to crochet in sixth grade, a friend of the family teaching me the various loops that make the stitches; she taught me to read the strange abbreviated language of patterns.

In seventh grade I found instructions in a magazine on how to make a denim skirt. I made one out of a pair of jeans, and wore it to school. Sure, it wasn't perfect, but I was proud to have made something I could wear. Of course, the cruelty of kids is an opportunistic dagger, and soon after I proudly strode into school to show off my handiwork to my friends, other students were laughing, asking if my family was too poor to buy me clothes. I was embarrassed and crushed. It was then that I realized that being poor, or at least seeming poor, was cause for ridicule in the kid-world. I became ashamed of the skills I was trying to enhance.

I still crocheted and sewed, but I didn't attempt larger projects that would make people assume my family was poor.

And then in my junior year of college I took an art class involving dying fabrics. After each unit, we were to create a project utilizing the dying methods. For my screen-printing project, I decided to dye pieces of denim and print a motif on each section, creating a denim jacket. But I had never operated a sewing machine before. So my art teacher showed me how to read a sewing pattern and use the machine in the classroom. She was amazed by my aptitude, since no other student could sew a seam as straight as I could on the first try. And thus, my China Mieville King Rat-inspired denim jacket was born (see right--note the red rat with a crown. This was taken last year when my hair was still red. It's back to blonde now--too many creepy dudes demanding to know if it was real). There are also rats on the front, but I couldn't get a good picture of that.

After that class, I asked for a sewing machine for xmas from my dad, and I kept at it. I bought dozens of clothing patterns. I made blouses and skirts. I am at the point now where I refuse to buy anything I'm capable of making myself. Just yesterday I converted a pair of jeans into a skirt (I've much improved since I was in middle school, thanks to my skills with the machine).

When I got engaged back in January, I decided to make my own wedding dress (which is almost at completion now--I actually finished it within two weeks, but I still need to add some decorative stuff to it, and some more "umph" in the bust). I also plan on making jewelry for myself and my bridesmaids to wear, which they will be allowed to keep as gifts afterward.

Anyway, since the incident in seventh grade I had not experienced the shame of crafting my own clothes as a poor person's act; at least until my fiance's father kindly offered to buy me a wedding dress--after finding out I had already made one.

I was listening to my fiance assure his father that I do, in fact, love my wedding dress, and really want to wear it. When I asked my fiance why his dad wanted to be certain I wanted to wear the dress (since I'm not of a mind to waste my time, money, and energy on an unnecessary project) he told me that his dad wanted to make sure I made my wedding dress because I wanted to, not because I had to.

Well, both are valid reasons to make my own wedding dress. I liked the idea of making something for my wedding--why not the dress? That way, when my friends and family see me in it and admire it, it will be something crafted by my own hands (this is where I get poetic with my needlework). But I'm also broke too. Before I had decided to make my wedding dress, I scouted around for possible pre-made dresses. The ones that fell in my price range did not leap out at me as something I would want to wear. Making the dress myself ensured I would a) have a dress made specifically for my body shape, that b). fits me perfectly and is c). cost effective. I think I only spent $120 dollars on all the materials including the pattern, the satin, the lining, the overdress of lace, the zipper, thread, extra needles, ribbon, breast padding, and plastic pearls.

I'm very pleased with it so far, and can't wait for it to be finished (as of right now it's still full of potential as an artwork in progress), but I can't help but feel there's a stigma attached to my hand-crafting abilities as an act of the poor. I can't say if I'd have had a propensity for making things if my family had been as rich as my fiance's, but it's something that I love. It's more than a hobby for me because, like writing, it's creation--and it impresses people when it's executed well. I love the hard work. I love how it takes up space. I love the sound of my machine driving the needle through the fabric, creating seams out of loops of thread. I love that my hands created something useful, and I find it absolutely insulting that this creation is seen as less-than by those without the skills to create. So when did people decide that making things by hand is shameful?

Certainly this is associated with class. Rich people have no need to learn to sew or crochet--they have money to pay other people to do it. Though it is a skill, and not an easy one, it is a skill of lower class people. It is a symbol of poverty, and so in a way it is looked down on. Don't get me wrong; I acknowledge that there are upper class people who enjoy sewing; but this isn't the first time where I've been made aware that my family is not as well off as others. This is why I was laughed at in school for wearing a skirt I had made from an old pair of jeans. This is why my fiance's father offered to buy me an honest-to-God made-by-someone-else's-hands dress. Because "hand-made" and "home-made" are synonymous with "poor," and we all know that people are poor by choice, right? Ugh.

I'll probably post pictures of it on me once the pearls are attached and the bust completed.
If you have love for hand-making items yourself, share it in the comments.

Salon's The virginity fetish

I'm all about sharing this week. So here's another article you should check out over at Salon called "The virginity fetish." The article explores Jessica Valenti's latest book called The Purity Myth: How America's Obsession with Virginity Is Hurting Young Women. "The virginity fetish" is an interview with the author about the book and she makes some very interesting points about how our culture views female sexuality as something both coveted and scorned.

You start the book by announcing that virginity … doesn't actually exist.

I did not know this [before I wrote the book]. I interviewed a woman named Hanne Blank, who wrote this great book called "Virgin: The Untouched History." She ran a Web site for teens about sex called Scarleteen, and the question she got most often from teenagers was, “I did such and such, am I still a virgin?” She was like, “You know, I don't know!” So, she went to the Harvard Medical School library to try to find a standard definition for virginity, and she couldn't find one. Apparently, there is no medical definition at all.

Virginity is completely culturally constructed, and obviously we each have our own individual understanding of what virginity is, but it's often a really limiting version of sexuality that doesn't include certain types of intimacy that are pretty important. Queer people are totally excluded -- if you're a lesbian with a number of partners, are you considered a slut? Probably not.


What do you think about the young woman who auctioned off her virginity?

I don't know why we're so surprised by it. This is going to sound terrible, but that's essentially the same thing the abstinence movement is saying: “Hold off until you can auction off your virginity to the person with the biggest ring.” It's really the same thing, only done in a more explicit and economically honest way.

I think it's really interesting whom we decide to call whores. [Natalie Dylan] is a whore because she's being really upfront and honest about it. But you would never think to call a woman who is getting married [for financial security] a whore.


How is it that a pop star like Britney Spears or Jessica Simpson can announce their virginity at the same time that they're successfully marketed as a sex symbol?

Because they're being exactly what pop culture wants them to be, which is the sexy virgin available for our consumption. We're able to watch them writhe around in music videos, but they're still good girls, so you can also prop them up as role models.

What was really interesting with Spears was that the media and public turned on her once she got pregnant, had a woman's body, became a little heavier, and could no longer be seen as this untouched virgin. People had to look at her as a full-grown woman and not a little girl. That's when they started to deride her and call her a whore, which goes to show that the women we fetishize most are not women but girls.

That's just part of it. It's a very insightful interview and I recommend that you read it in full. I'll probably end up buying her book at some point, but I'm a little poor right now, so I'll have to settle for interviews.

Friday, May 15, 2009

While I'm on my Wolverine kick

here are some feminist reviews of it. I was going to write one myself, but since it took me so long to see it everyone else beat me to it. That's all right though. They did an awesome job.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine — The Greatest Story Never Told? by K. Tempest Bradford.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine--Same Old Story by the angry black woman.

Basically these two discuss the issues with stories like these, which utilize female characters to serve and uplift the journey of the male ones; and of course when they're done, they're essentially disposable. They say it better though, so go check 'em out.

Talk about completely missing the point

Some of you may have already read my post on Adam Lambert's use of eyeliner and nail polish. If not, read it first so the point is not missed again. Basically my point in that post is that Adam Lambert is not the first rock n' roll star to utilize make-up, and that this whole "omg does that make him gay or a girl???!!" is completely inane because make-up has no gender. First of all, on the issue of if he is or is not gay: who fucking cares? His sexuality has absolutely nothing to do with his immense talent as a singer. His ambiguity seems to frighten some people, which is fucking ridiculous because it doesn't matter unless we make it matter. Second, make-up isn't just for girls. Which I've already stated, so I'll leave it at that.

Anyway, I enjoy finding out how people come by my space here at "o filthy grandeur!" and saw earlier today that my Adam Lambert post was linked over at BlackBook. The phrase? "Lambert’s crooning (and more importantly, his extensive make-up regimen) look to pave a prodigious pop road with glitter for the fey songster." Yes. Absolutely. That was my point. I spent an entire post describing his make-up regimen (heavy sarcasm). This of course leads me to infer that the person linking gave my post no more than a cursory glance before linking to my site. Not once do I describe his process. In fact, I don't care how Adam Lambert "excessively" applies his make-up; and I certainly never mentioned that it was excessive. Eyeliner is not excessive. See the precedents in my original post. That's excessive. Hot, but excessive.

Anyway, since people are all about missing the point today, here's something random: I just got back from seeing X-Men Origins: Wolverine--is it weird that I spent the second half of the movie fantasizing about Logan making out with Gambit (seriously, those two have been my favorites since I was a kid--why shouldn't they make-out???). So, for no other reason than I feel like it, here's some pics of Hugh Jackman as Wolverine and Taylor Kitsch as Gambit. Picture them kissing and tell me you don't like it.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Fuzz Therapy

Here's your weekly installment of Fuzz Therapy, featuring my fluffy Princess.

She loves sitting with me on the couch, and she even has her own spot. My fiance and I accommodate her by leaving my Jack Sparrow fleece blanket on the one end of the couch, and we make do with the other two spots. Even when guests come over, I'll sit at the computer chair or on the floor before disturbing her place.

This look says it all too. She decided to rest upon my sewing instructions and the remote. Rather than risk some sort of mutilation, I sat through the horrible programming and put my sewing aside till she got up on her own.

I mean, who in their right mind would try to make a grab for that remote??

She pretty much is a princess in every respect. But when your cat is sixteen years old and still races around the apartment like a kitten, are you seriously going to tell her what she can and can't do?

Didn't think so.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

China Mieville discusses The City and The City

This is a sort of follow-up to my earlier post on China Mieville's The City and The City. I found this interview over at Socialist Worker online, which I highly recommend that you read in full, but in case you're busy or lazy, here's an excerpt:

I am trying to critically engage with a debate about the effectiveness of “world building”.

Sharing political culture is one thing, but any writer has different readerships who get different things. The trick is to have a book that has enough integrity that it works within itself.

But if you do spot a reference and you like it, great. That may be sharper for a political writer, but it is there for everyone.

The political aesthetic is complex. For instance, in a previous book, The Scar, the characters face voracious female mosquito-women. They are female simply because it’s only female mosquitos that suck blood.

I was, however, conscious of the trope of voracious/monstrous/vampiric women, so a couple of chapters later I wrote: “Some of [his] companions made nervous jokes... ‘Women,’ they said, and laughed shakily about females of all species being bloodsuckers, and so on. [He] tried, for the sake of conviviality, but he could not bring himself to laugh at their idiocies.”

What an awesome dude. Plan on seeing my interpretation of the novel soon after I finish it. You'd better all buy a copy too. I'm doing my part to make sure the world knows how brilliant Mieville truly is.

In the meantime, you can revisit my interpretation of Iron Council, parts One, Two, and Three.

Cop punishes girl for saying "fuck" by hanging up on her on a 911 call, then has her arrested

If you're not shaking by the end of this video, there's something wrong with you.

Adrainne Ledesma called asking for help, and Sgt. Robert McFarland hung up on her three times before even asking what the emergency was. If I were in this girl's position, and had a loved one of mine collapse, you can bet your ass I would be dropping some f-bombs. This man had no right to correct her for her "potty-mouth." It is his job to answer the fucking phone when people call to report an emergency, not chastise them for what he thinks is wrong. This girl's father could have died because this douchebag decided to hang up on her for her foul-language. And by the way, it's none of his fucking business. Phone etiquette does not matter in an emergency. When your loved one is in danger or hurt, you're hereby allowed to use any sort of language you want to get someone to send an ambulance. This cannot possibly be the first time this man has heard someone upset on the phone. I'd be interested to hear other recordings of him answering the line in an emergency.

And then the girl was arrested on a charge that didn't exist. You know what this is about? Exerting control over another because he felt he had the right to. Fucking douchebag.

He's been suspended without pay for two weeks. We've seen this pitiful wrist-slap before. It does nothing. People like McFarland need to know there are real consequences for their negligence and carelessness. He should be fired.

Oh, he's also been sued before. Apparently he tasered a fourteen-year-old boy.

H/T Alas, a blog

The City and the City will be released May 26th

So go buy it. Having read all of Mieville's books (minus the short stories, but don't worry--I'll get to them) I am shaking with anticipation of the release of his newest novel, The City and The City. This man is a genius. His writing is so complex and inspiring. If I ever met this man, rather than ask an intelligent question from one writer to another, I am afraid I would just gush about how wonderful he his, quickly becoming a loathsome fangirl. But I would still love to meet him.

So if anyone knows of any book-signing tour schedule or something, please let me know. It would make my year.

Anyway, here's a video of him talking about his latest novel (he's so dreamy--imagine, an attractive badass writer!!):

Saturday, May 9, 2009

iCarly: teenage sexuality and gender roles

Go ahead and make fun. I've certainly earned the ridicule. I mean, I rush home from work and see what's up with the Fairly Odd Parents (although it got really stupid after they had the fairy baby--ugh); I watch Spongebob Squarepants in my jammies on Saturday mornings; hell, I even have every single episode of Invader Zim on DVD. I grew up with Nickelodeon, and though I sometimes get angry at what it produces, I won't grow out of it.

So it may come as no surprise to see a post about an episode of iCarly that aired an hour ago.

I watch iCarly for a number of reasons. 1). Carly's brother, played by the talented Jerry Trainor, is totally funny, and totally hot. I love that he plays an aspiring artist, making found sculptures out of junk. I dig it. 2). Though some of the more gimicky episodes are bad, overall the show is cute and clever, reminiscent of Drake and Josh (okay, shut up). 3). Stuff randomly catches fire. Nuff said. 4). It stars two girls and their dude friend. One girl is decidedly ungirly, and the dude friend has an overbearing mother. Awesome.

The show often features Carly (or Sam) falling for a boy, and it shows some kisses. When I was younger, the only time I saw "teens" kissing was in movies where the "teens" were actually twenty-somethings pretending to be teens. iCarly actually features teens.

The kiss between Sam and Freddie was also awesome, where we have two young kids who are embarrassed by never having kissed anyone before, and so the episode ends with them kissing each other (just to get it over with, of course--note, I didn't get my first kiss till I was 16), and ended up being a really adorable expression of friendship (between two people who frequently pester one another).

What I love is that the show explores that forbidden zone. You know the one. Teenage girl sexuality. That's right. Teenage girls are curious too, yet we often shame them. I remember when my step-dad discovered a hickey I had carelessly left uncovered, and the utter embarrassment of my parents sitting down with me and my then-boyfriend to lecture us on "waiting" and all that noise. You know what my younger brother got? "That's my boy--oh, but uh, use a condom." We praise boys for getting girls, yet warn girls about the predatory nature of boys "only wanting one thing" which we cultivate! What the hell?

This double-standard is still used, where we praise young boys at being studs, for getting a lot of girls, but when this is reversed, the girl is a slut and a whore who doesn't know how to keep her legs closed. Well, that boy didn't get to be a stud by some girl keeping her damn legs closed!

I find iCarly refreshing in that it illustrates how young girls explore intimate relationships. In the episode tonight, Carly even initiated the kissing--go Carly!!

However, tonight's episode disheartened me, since it just showed the same tired gender roles being reinforced. SPOILER ALERT. When Carly discovers that her "bad boy" boyfriend collects PeeWee Babies (ha) he's suddenly not so "bad" (read: emasculated). So, to badass him back up she buys him an electric drill. And then hints at him buying more power tools, and suddenly the conversation hints at the steamy...but the "bad boy" isn't giving up his hobby for her, and they break up. They even hint at his hobby being a "girl thing," as when Carly slips up and says (something to the effect of) lots of girls having the toys, then corrects herself and says boy. And later when Carly asks Freddie if it's weird for someone to collect PeeWee Babies, Freddie says, "Well, it depends how old she is," and suddenly there's this big to-do over the pronoun "she."

We're still defining what is appropriate behavior for boys and girls, and what is not appropriate. While I enjoy the direction that children and teen shows are heading in, I feel like it's not enough. At the moment that Freddie realizes the "bad boy" is emasculated, he becomes the man again, because, while he is not "bad," at least he doesn't collect fluffy stuffed animals. I loved that the episode showed Carly expressing her teenage attraction to a cute boy and rebelling against her brother's intervention, but was pissed by the end where Carly broke up with him for having an endearing hobby. So what if it sort of shatters the bad-boy image? What the hell is a "bad-boy" anyway? Apparently it's someone that steals motorcycles, smashes walls, and uses power tools, and certainly does not collect PeeWee Babies. Is she upset he wasn't a douchebag? And if so, this makes me want to punch a wall since all it does is tell girls what qualities really matter in a man, and then we have this stupid cycle of "omg what a dumb bitch going for a guy that hits her." Okay, that may be a stretch, but still. It starts somewhere...

At any rate, my advice to Nickelodeon and Dan Schneider is to depict teenage curiosity, but stop reinforcing typical gender norms (this may be the first of several discussions of iCarly, since I have a lot to work, but not a lot of time right now).

On a side note, I was thrilled when Carly told her brother Spencer that she's not a little girl any more, and only two weeks ago she sent him to the pharmacy to presumably get feminine products. So yay! Discussion of periods (sort of) on a teen show! I love it!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Fuzz Therapy

Once again, the world sucks. Well, I guess not always. I don't know about anyone else, but I can always go for more fuzz therapy.

No matter how bad my day is at work (and it's usually just barely tolerable), I can always count on my fluffy marshmallow butt to greet me (in one of her few moments of consciousness--she loves her naps!). I am wanted. I am the bringer of food. I am the provider of ear-scratches, tummy-tickles, and fake mice. And in return, I get unconditional kitty love. Except when I try to brush her fur. That's when the claws come out, the ears go back, and my adorable kitty turns into a frightening blood-lusting monster.

But she always turns back to her usual cuddly self.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Calling for National Attention for Samantha Orobator

Don't be surprised if you don't recognize this woman's name. I found out about her over at Shakesville. She is facing death by firing squad in Laos, charged with drug trafficking. Melissa of Shakesville has this to say:

Orobator's family and friends say she has no history of using or trafficking or being in any way involved with drugs—and since arriving at the prison where she is being held, Orobator has become pregnant. Anna Morris, of the London-based human rights group Reprieve, who are advocating on Orobator's behalf, says: "She became pregnant in prison. We are concerned that it may not have been consensual and we are concerned that someone who finds herself in prison at 20 is subject to exploitation." Honestly, my stomach just churns at the thought of what Orobator has been through.

At this point, Laos is saying they probably won't execute Orobator because she is pregnant, but she hasn't even been tried yet. She doesn't have a local attorney, and Morris is "the first British lawyer who has asked for access to her." Her trial has been scheduled for next week.
There is currently no national coverage on Orobator's story. Perhaps not surprisingly is that Orobator is not a white woman, and thus the media feels her story is inconsequential. Even if she is guilty of drug trafficking, not affording her media attention is absolutely racist, and not allowing a lawyer to speak with her or even have a trial before deciding on the penalty illustrates how some people are viewed as expendable. Her treatment over the past few months is no excuse, guilty or no.

Spread the word. Demand attention for this woman.

Pixar movies: Boys' Club

It is no secret that I absolutely LOVE Pixar movies. The animation quality is awesome, the stories are original, and I will shamelessly drag my fiance to the movies to see the movie the day it comes out, us two grown-ups sitting amongst the parents and their children.

This is a love/hate relationship for me though. In EVERY SINGLE ONE the hero is male. Women (if present) are background characters, accessories that must uplift the male hero so he can become the hero. The heroes often have to go through a journey to fulfill their unearthed potential, and the girls must undergo the daunting task of building the hero up so he can see what she sees (Finding Nemo, Cars, Wall-E, Ratatouille, The Incredibles).

Sometimes in these movies, it's all about the bros. Two dudes must overcome their differences, become friends, and eventually they'll both be heroes, and one or both will get the girl (read Toy Story, Ratatouille, Monsters Inc.).

Even where there are girls as heroes, like in The Incredibles, it's still painfully obvious who THE hero is.

In my favorite, Ratatouille, we have a strong female character of Colette. She's badass, and has to be tough because she's in the fast-paced career dominated by men. But the dopey hero is clearly Linguine. It's up to him to find his potential (oh, which is bequeathed to him from his famous chef father, Gusteau). And did anyone else notice the absence of female rats (until the end where they were listening to the male's epic tale)?

All of these movies are highly gendered, even in characters who would have no biological gender (Cars, Wall-E). Eve and Wall-E barely speak, but we know that Eve's a girl (sleek, curved, clean body) just as we know Wall-E is a boy (active, dirty, working-bot). Well, and the names don't help much. In Cars, we have the hero, McQueen, and his love interest, Sally, who is cute and curvy, and even has a "tramp stamp." Ugh.

The latest Pixar movie, Up, has me interested, but still frustrated. In the trailer, I did not see one female character. Even the list of Pixar directors is a sausage-fest--hell, even the list of writers. As far as I can tell, only Toy Story 2 has a woman writer--the rest? All dudez.

How hard would it be to have a woman or girl hero? Couldn't Remy be a girl-rat? Couldn't one of the famous race cars be a chick? Couldn't Up feature a crazy old lady who flew her house away? Couldn't one of the monsters been a girl monster? Oh wait, how would that work out since we all know a boy and a girl can't be friends without it turning into something romantic.

This reminds me of an article on Art at the Auction, where men on t.v. shows are allowed to be quirky or eccentric, and the women super normal to guide the men. This is true in films too. The boys make all the jokes, are allowed to act goofy, and the girls represent the voice of reason (the only exception for this is Dory, in Finding Nemo, but she still exists to make Marlin realize his potential).

And there's still the Disney formula of non-white guy = bad guy (as in Ratatouille). These movies are all white, and the one instance of a darker complexion is on the face of the bad guy. I can't think of any non-white characters in any other Pixar movie--please correct me if I'm wrong.

Non-white people can be heroes too; hell, they can be goofy!

As amazing as Pixar is, it's a shame that their characters aren't more diverse. What I love is that they've managed to break from the original Disney movie formula of princesses and woodland creatures--so why can't they break from the racist sexist patterns as well?

I will now cite the words of Peter Griffin:

Monday, May 4, 2009

Call for suggestions for a feminist gal gettin' hitched

As some of you know, I got engaged to my lover of four+ years back in January. This last Saturday I attended my cousin's wedding, which was a lovely affair with all the glory of God and man and woman being made for one another...etc. While it was beautiful for them, I realized then that it wouldn't work for me or my fiance, since neither of us is religious.

I want my wedding to be special for the both of us, not just a celebration that I got me a man; but I don't want it to be a five-minute secular deal. I have agreed to let my mother do a reading from the Bible since I love and respect her and her religion as she loves and respects my decision not to have one, but I would like our officiant to share something meaningful with our friends and family sans God and Jesus.

If anyone has any suggestions for readings, I would love to hear them. I would like something androgynous since I don't wish to invoke the "standard" of heterosexual couple--none of this man and woman stuff; two people will work just fine. I also don't want one person being active, the other passive. At my cousin's wedding, a poem was read, the audience being the bride, who was told that her husband's hands will essentially serve her. While a romantic sentiment, it simply illustrated the ideas of wives being objects unto which husbands will execute actions. I want it to be about an equal relationship; not archetypes.

Anyway, I welcome all suggestions provided they meet the basic requirements. I suppose I could even write something myself (I've already made my wedding dress, so why not make more stuff?) but suggestions will get me thinking; and if there's already something out there I could borrow, then that's one less thing to worry about.

Have at it.

Trim your bush--my grandmother's thoughts on the commercial

I first found this commercial over at Shakesville, and only just saw it on tv last night when I was still at my grandparents.

My response was an exasperated "Ugh, I hate this commercial."

My grandmother's: "Wow, I wish I could walk by my shrubs and have them trim themselves."

Oh Grandma. Your love/hate relationship with gardening transcends even sexism.

This is exactly what I'm talking about

So some of you may know I was out of town for my cousin's wedding (which was awesome, and gave me some fun ideas for my own). Well, after a six hour drive home, this is the comment I see in my inbox in response to my Coraline post:

i loved coraline, (i saw it yesterday when it just came out, but i live in England and it takes ages to get over here) and i have to say i didnt notice wybies race at all, seeing as to me he just looked slightly tanned with wild curly hair (seeing as coraline has blue hair, i just thought it was the idea for eccentric hairstyles)(p.s i had those 3d glasses on so i everyone seemed too have the same skin tone.)i also dont see why it matters about the other mother being white and silencing the darker skinned kid. she would have done it to anybody no matter what, and it doesnt matter what his skin tone is, and isnt being racist. coraline probably just wants her mum to cook because her dad is rubbish at cooking. Also, this is a CHILDRENS film( even if it is dark and disturbing), so dont look too much into it. i think the ppl who made the film didnt want an all white cast.
Okay. I'll give it to you that you that the 3-D glasses may have interfered with the skin tones. I did not have the fun of the glasses (thanks to my cheap ass local theater), however it still astounds me that there are numbers of people still commenting on my analysis of the movie to point out that they didn't think he is black. What still gets to me is that people just thought he was a white kid with a tan.

What comments like this, and the similar comments on the thread (go ahead, scroll through) illustrate is an astounding resistance to in-depth thought. Rather than question presentations of race and gender (yes, even in children's movies), these commenters would rather accuse me of over-sensitivity, or the oh-so-familiar "looking too much into it."

It is very easy to hold onto racist or sexist thoughts because it requires absolutely no effort. Confronting our prejudices requires deep thinking, and sometimes we don't always like what we find there. But ignoring it achieves absolutely nothing. Change does not happen without effort.

As for the above comment, I will address the following:
  • Children's films are not exempt from presentations of gender or race. This point is especially important since they're predominantly viewed by children who are learning about the workings of society and the world. Seeing a non-white character silenced or portrayed as the perpetual bad guy still affects them and their development.
  • It matters that a white mother silenced a black character. Why? Because there's a history of white people silencing black people. It doesn't matter that she would have silenced him even if he was presented as a different race. What does matter is that she is white and he is black and the connotations attached to that relationship.
  • INTENT DOES NOT MATTER. Just because someone intends something to be taken one way will not guarantee that it will be received in the intended manner. In a perfect not-sexist post-racial world, I can accept that maybe Coraline's dad is a terrible cook and Wybie annoys her, so she asks Mom to cook, and the Other Mother shuts Wybie up--AWESOME! But looking at these very same instances, you have the daughter enforcing gender roles and a white woman silencing a black kid. Intent is inconsequential.
In one of the comments, someone assumed that I was non-white, and I can't help but wonder if others assumed the same, and if that is what is attributed to the astounding number of people calling me "sensitive." Fine. I AM A WHITE WOMAN. This does not mean that I cannot analyze a movie's presentation of race. Perhaps other white people get defensive about this movie because they think an "other" is attacking them. Even if I weren't white, I don't see how my opinion is any less valid, or how my whiteness suddenly merits criticism of whiteness. It's very frustrating trying to engage in a thoughtful conversation when all I get is resistance and ignorant accusations.

Go ahead. Tell me I'm a "disgrace to my race" or I'm too sensitive.