please stop tickling me

In which we laugh and laugh and laugh. And love. And drink.

My Photo
Location: Portland, Oregon

Otium cum Dignitatae

Monday, April 14, 2008

Controversies, filed under 'Stupid'

Ann Romano has written an apology on the Portland Mercury's 'Blogtown PDX'. This is interesting because Ms. Romano is a fictional character played by Bonnie Franklin on TV's "One Day At A Time". The fictional character's column in the weekly is a weekly news roundup called 'One Day At A Time'.
I've been told that 'Ann Romano' is actually the paper's editor Wm. Steven Humphrey, and it is said by Byron Beck (of Willamette Week's 'Queer Window') that other contributors publishing under this byline are a mix, including local author (and household joke) Chelsea Cain.

The problem arose when 'Ann' wrote a short bit about Thomas Beatie, the Bend, Oregon resident who began life as a woman, and is currently mid-way through gender reassignment, but also is pregnant. In short, Beatie is literally a man from the waist up, and this story has received tons of media attention, culminating in an inevitable appearance on "Oprah".
Quote: "Beatie is only a "man" in the loosest sense of the word. While Beatie did take testosterone treatments, had her... sorry, his... breasts flattened into a more masculine shape, and took legal measures to call herself... sorry, himself... a man, she's... sorry, he's... still got all the female parts underneath—including the va-jay-jay and reproductive organs. So while we're big fans of our pals in the trans community, Beatie calling herself... sorry, himself... a "man" is like a Potato Head adding a nose and mouth and asking people to call him "Mister." Sorry! Is that "Ms. Potato Head"?

So you can see how this might very well hurt some feelings, but also how it's really just a not-especially-clever parody of how lots of people might very well feel about this.
And I don't think other people's confusion on the subject is negligible here: I've ran afoul of a tranny or two in my lifetime because I used a pronoun on them that I figured was appropriate, and it turns out that I was wrong. These times include everything from post-ops to one girl who simply grew out her moustache and now wanted to identify as a man.
I hate to say it, but in all of those cases, the burden of explanation lay with the other person. Immediately heading to anger based on an innocent mistake didn't do them any favors, in my book: it made them seem crazy/stupid.

The responses to the apology range from people saying that one wasn't even necessary to people saying that the apology wasn't enough, and now the Merc needed to specifically get a squad of trannies in their office to teach the rest of us how to never, ever offend this particular sector of the population. Unfortunately, one of the latter shares my initials. My response below:

"It's obvious that this was an attempt at spreading hatred out of ignorance" (rb) gets my vote for Most Convoluted Sentence That Also Is Probably Untrue. A stupid joke went awry, and now its author is a fucking nazi. Nice.

And I hate to break this one to you, but no, this paper does not necessarily need to be nice to everyone. It is ethically bound to not openly foment hatred, but doing a short satiric piece mocking what a lot of people might think of trannies is still okay, and in no way means they need re-education.

This one has no resolution, I'm guessing. The actual bigots in my area have weighed in on this one too, saying the usual... Well, Ray Pendleton says it better than I can:
"I have to wonder if any thought at all has been given by the parents as to the well-being of the child and how this situation might affect this child's future."
I dunno Ray; "this situation" is the situation that said child is dealt at birth, just like the circumstances that anyone is born into. We appreciate your 'oh won't someone pl-eeease think of the children' sentiment, but it's a smokescreen, as always, for something else that you know you can't say in public anymore, darn those liberals.
** **

Then, over at Kritik Magazine, editor-in-chief Jennifer Carden writes one of the older complaints in the book, as if it were being said for the first time: The Men These Days Are Wimps.
Like I say, this one's got whiskers. I think it's been said by someone somewhere as long as there's been words and the option of writing them down; long before there was Feminism to conveniently blame for it.

I'm not even sure what Kritik is. I found it in a sidebar at, and followed for some reason. If I had to guess, the site is the online house organ of some Christian university somewhere, though it does not say. Most of the writing is shitty and burdened by sweeping generalizations of the Writing 101 variety.
Check Jen out as she virtually gives us a lexicon of bad arguments, poorly phrased. She seems to be trying to set new standards -hell, create a new canon- of logical fallacies. For instance:

(The Yeah-But-If-This-Existed, It-Would-Be-Terrible argument)
"I believed in the Biblical idea of submission. I wanted to get married, have children, experience the American dream, etc. Instead, society seemed to be pushing an effeminate, exfoliated man, chock full of emotion and sensitivity—the kind of guy who would cry on your shoulder and then compliment the pattern of your shirt. Not exactly the masculine ideal I had in mind."

“'It’s okay to show emotion,' is not code for, 'It’s okay for to cry at anything and everything.'
We obviously have some conception of what is “manly” and what isn’t, but it is difficult to create a set of standards on that basis."

(The 'Prove?' argument)

"But I believe that every man was created by God with the ability to be manly and to model masculine characteristics."

(The This May Be True argument)
"Our society has adopted a practice of equality between the sexes never before known in human history."

"While women want men to be sensitive to their needs, they don’t necessarily want them to be sensitive in general."

"Yet this newly sensitive creation is not what women want. Attributes like leadership ability and confidence are universally attractive."

(The It Is/It Seems argument)
"It is not difficult, when looking back through history, to find times when men seemed to be manly."

(The Not to Painfully Overstate It, But...argument)
"I would have termed this generation the 'walking dead,' so to speak, with little chance of regaining a correct view of the masculine role."

(The We Must [do this categorically generalized thing] because We Must argument)
"Masculinity, said Dr. Mitchell, is a 'habit one acquires by associating with other men who are habitually men.' It must be practiced, and it must be modeled."

"We must resist the modern flaccid diversity that is actually an oppressive conformity.”

(And just laughably bad sentences like these:)
"It was in those conversations my ideology first began to embark on a kind of odyssey."

"Women have undermined, if not destroyed, the counterpart to masculinity—femininity—and with it the basis on which half the population could be skeptical of the excess or lack of masculinity."

"I was not a jackboots-beret-and-goatee-wearing feminazi."

Yes, just recall those days when a man couldn't walk down the sidewalk in public without being jack-booted by all those chin-haired women in berets.

We're finally getting around to admitting that many of the Strong, Silent Types of the past were actually borderline psychotic, generally due to our country's habit of sending off every generation of young men somewhere halfway around the world to fight some war that none of them had any understanding of, then shipping them back home and expecting them never to talk about it -except in the most glowing and nostalgic of terms.
People are also starting to note that the large numbers of families without father figures have more to do with the curious tendency of males to leave and less to do with moral decline. There would seem to be no reason at all to attack something I feel that is largely fictional, i.e. The Constantly Weeping Post-Feminism Male.

Of course, as usual, the forces of bullshit are actively against all of this. Kathleen Parker, who I hate with a vengeance, feels the need to write a book about it titled Save The Males (haw!).
So far, all I have to go on is this mini-review in Marie Claire, and fortunately it's brief, since I was literally having problems breathing while holding the magazine open.
It would seem that she does make a point I consistently made back in the '90's (y'know, while I was being jackbooted): If you assume the worst about men, they're likely to oblige. But then she goes on to say "Guys have no responsibility," and makes the assumption that men have nothing to shoot for, now that the entire power structure of the world is run by women, as we all know.

Again, you wouldn't know it from reading the above authors, but there's lots of places in the world where feminism made nary a dent. There's still lots of places in America in particular where to be a man is to be incoherently angry and violent at all times. Talking it out is not an option, and women are not what you'd call venerated.
So I think it's just precious that a number of right-wing pigeons are trying to get people all worked up about something I'm pretty sure never existed, but then again, that's pretty much all they ever do.



Post a Comment

<< Home