March 8th, 2004

you think you know...

update (this is what happens when i don't update for days)

We’ve been learning interesting things about “The Waste Land” in Michael’s class, though i’m not really in love with the poem. Sean-from-Hampshire brought in a CD that superimposed a recording of T.S. Eliot reading “The Waste Land” over the bassline of an Eminem tribute to Dr. Dre. Yeah, that was a fun way to begin a Thursday morning :)

Michael made the midterm optional so you can either do 3 short papers or 2 papers and the midterm. I am very excited about this.

Having both seen “Shells” (Angel 5.16), Allie and i discussed death and finality over lunch. This topic deserves its own post at some point.

Betsey said our final paper is gonna be tracing a single fairy tale; i am very excited about this.

Got my UMass paper back. Various “good”s and such like, and then
Elizabeth - Isabel is an intriguing subject and she makes perceptive comments. Your accompanying analysis is also insightful and is well-rooted in the context of the assigned readings. I enjoyed reading this.
Full marks, woot.

I had just read the “May 18: Final paper due by 5pm” bit on the syllabus for my UMass class, but reading it again i saw in another section: “The final paper will be given in the form of a take-home essay exam.” I already knew i was gonna be doing next to nothing once Smith ended (the last 2 meetings of my UMass class are like make-believe classes) but now it looks like i'll have even more free time, as i don't expect the exam to take me more than a day. Maybe i’ll finally get to see some valley_slash people again. I will also finally have time to do some clothes shopping (though i may get some done over Spring Break).

As part of class, we get shown stuff in the media, about romance, body image, fairy tale imagery in advertising, corporal punishment, and, most recently, the evils of Disney. A good chunk of class on Thursday was a film called “Mickey Mouse Goes to Haiti” which was all about how horribly the Disney Corporation treats its workers in Haiti. Sometimes i feel like i’m in a Smith class with the issue tangents the profs do in that class.

Went to the Mommy Myth reading Thursday night. Sat with Heather and co-liaison Jaimie. Jay was the one who introduced Meredith Michaels, and he talked about how she has published really interesting things about identity and such, but you wouldn’t know from her talk that it was co-sponsored by the philosophy department as there was nothing about philosophy in her readings.

The subtitle of her book is “The Idealization of Motherhood and How It Has Undermined Women,” and that encapsulates what the entertaining reading from her introduction talked about, but it wasn’t anything i hadn’t already heard before. She also read from part of a chapter about welfare and the stigmatization thereof, but again, nothing new to me. (One interesting thing was how “mom” has become a positive term -- e.g. soccer mom, stay-at-home-mom -- but “mother” has become a negative term -- e.g. welfare mother, unwed mother.)

One of the best bits came when she was introducing her talk. She and co-author Susan Douglas were raising daughters at the same time. Meredith refused to allow Barbies into her house. Susan, in contrast, had a house littered with Barbies because her daughter demanded them and she trusted kid her kid to not be brainwashed by Barbie, being raised in a feminist household. I thought that was a really interesting idea, how much do we trust our kids, or anyone really, to not be brainwashed by society? This of course gets us back to one of my constant gripes, that anyone in politics or activism [and certainly i do it myself] has that condescending “We know The Way, The Light, and The Truth, but you are confused, uneducated, brainwashed, misinformed, evil, whatever, so we don’t trust you to make decisions for yourself and will make them for you.” My personal issue with buying Barbies for kids is that i can’t stomach financially supporting the company.

One of the last questions came from a 10-year-old boy who had this long question involving “paternal unit.” My parents and i joke about parental units, maternal and paternal, but it’s faux-pretension or whatever. I didn’t actually follow the entire question, but clearly it involved something about fathers, and there was definitely nothing about fathers in her answer. The more Q&As i go to, the more cynical i get about people not actually answering questions. Sure you might be throwing out quality information, but if it’s not the information requested, shove it.

dykotomy summed it up well:
what did everyone think about this lecture? i was not so impressed, although the presenter/author was humorous. it seems pretty obvious that motherhood is stressful and difficult and women may feel burdened by not being the perfect mom that we are conditioned to expect them to be. and racism/classism clearly make these pressures of motherhood far more difficult and cause some mothers to be judged in a demeaning/dehumanizing manner.

i didnt get what the proposed solution might be- more relaxed expectations of mothers? increased responsibilities for other family members in raising children? social supports?
I considered skipping out early to go see Mona Lisa Smile (Rec Council movie) with susiebabylon but didn’t.

I forget what i said, but something prompted “That’s why there need to be more Elizabeth [surname]s in the world.” Also: “When you’re a gov professor, I’m gonna come and ask you about the war in Iraq and gay marriage and you’ll say ‘Bitch, it’s been legal for 20 years‘ and I’ll say, “Yes, but tell me how they relate.’ ” Clearly i need to become a gov professor just so this can happen :)

Hella nice reception, though i couldn’t partake of the wine (4 months and change...). I had tons of fruit and cheese and did a little helping with chairs.

9:30-ish we left and i walked back with her to Chapin and then we chatted in Chapin dining room for quite a while. Quoting from her LJ: "And then it somehow got to be 2:30. Goddammit, if a girl is going to stay until 2:30, why can't it be that kind of girl? Nothing personal."

Went to All’s Well That Ends Well at Umass on Friday. Saw Adam there. Why do Josh and Adam spend more time with Kate than i do? [We all met on the Oxford trip, and Kate and i go to Smith while they both go to UMass.] Didn’t wait the 20 minutes (which turned into 30, making the wait 5 minutes longer than the ride) for the bus with me because he is not a super sweetheart; sigh. He seemed to actually enjoy chatting with me (i hate when i can’t tell if people are just being nice) and i have his phone number now, so hopefully after Spring Break we can get together sometime.

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Saturday night, Emma and i went to see Cabaret at Hampshire.

Amusingly, Sam (my friend at Hampshire) was gonna be in Northampton that night seeing some friends play at a bar. I had a map and directions from her, not to mention a good 45 minutes to kill, so we figured we’d be fine. Thankfully, neither of us minded all the walking we did that evening trying to find Prescott Tavern. Emma’s friend Lilah goes to Hampshire, so she joked that maybe if she yelled “Lilah!” she would come and take us there. It turned out that we had in fact walked through the complex where the Tavern is, 2 or 3 times, we had just thought it couldn’t be the right place as it looked like it was all residential buildings. But we got there in time to still have our ticket reservations honored, so all was good.

Director’s note:
Getting this production of CABARET to become a reality has been a long process. Two years ago I first set out to do this project, but quickly realized that with 7 classes it was impossible to also produce a fill-fledged musical. When the time came to figure out what to do for my Division III project, I knew that CABARET was what I wanted to do. In my Division II work, I explored questions of sexuality, and how these issues -- homosexuality, sex, gender stereotypes, HIV/Aids, prostitution, abortion -- were reflected in musical theater. Several questions I posed to myself through the process were: how can sexuality be portrayed through performance? How does theater use sexuality to entertain? What makes a work “risqué?” When CABARET first opened on Broadway in 1966, the production was considered daring dangerous, and risqué. By today’s standards the 1966 original was tame. The script was revised in 1987, giving each of the characters more depth, allowing each character to embrace his or her own sexuality.
Damn, i really should get in touch with the director, ‘cause i’m really fascinated by so much of that.

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We hung out in the Tavern until they started to close down, as we had ages to wait for our bus. While waiting at the bus stop, someone called “Emma!” ‘Twas Lilah :) She was on her way somewhere, but was cool to bump into her.

Quote of the night Sunday: from Liz Liedel at Tangent: My preferred pronoun is “The student.”
*g* Okay, background: Check-in usually involves stating your preferred pronouns if you want, and last year the SGA (Student Government Association) replaced all “she/her” language in its constitution to variations on “the student,” a move which is currently up for revote, and Liz is the SGA President.

We had a lot of interesting discussion about trans people at Smith and what the purpose of Smith is and suchlike. I forget if Tangent has one of those safe space policies about not attaching people’s names to stuff when repeating ideas brought up at meetings, so i’ll just use initials. And clearly this isn’t the sum total of every argument there is, or even of everything that was brought up tonight.

LC said that he thought of Smith as being a place for people who have/do suffer gender discrimination, and that if he thought it was a women-only space he would leave, which i thought was interesting, and certainly more consistent than some positions i have heard.

Talking about the revote, LF said that people have said stuff like “What if someone identifies as an alien, or a rabbit, or whatever, should we change the language for them?” and her feeling is that the SGA is about representing Smith students, and regardless of however else you identify, if you are a Smith student, you are a student. We agreed that the language isn’t particularly empowering, but it doesn’t disempower anyone either, and not everything at Smith has to be explicitly about empowerment. R jokingly asked if we should coalition-build with SSFFS re: alien-identified students.

S talked about men upsetting the dynamic in classes, whether they are trans- or bio-men, and that of course that already exists as 5-College kids can and do take classes here, but it’s something that needs to be taken into consideration when we think about this issue. Hmm. I don’t like Robby all that much, but i don’t think he “upsets the dynamic” of the class i have with him any more than anyone else who has comments i find annoying does. I have had few males, trans or no in my classes, but there are plenty of overpowering women in classes (isn’t that what Smith is about?) and honestly, if i were a man in a Smith class, esp. anything WST-ish, i would feel intimidated, ‘cause you’re hella outnumbered.

Do i skip Lenten book study for the trans-feminism panel [Mon. Mar. 22, 7:30, Neilson Browsing Room]? I’ll already have missed one for Spring Break, and the following week we aren’t meeting but are going to the Julian of Norwich talk at HHHC.

Senate debates the potential SGA constitution revote the next night. Who are my Senators, anyway? I”ll be attending, but i should talk to my Senators as well.

Rec Council movie this week is Gothika. I’m going to Cloud 9 at Hampshire on Thursday. Am still undecided as to whether i’ll go to the movie on Tuesday.

Oh, and it’s this Monday, not last Monday, that Philadelphia is showing at Wright, 8pm, my mistake.

Oh, and there's a lunchtime talk (CC 103, noon) about queer rights in Israel this Monday (today) because clearly there isn't enough going on in my life this week.

Gillian says we’re gonna have a standing date for me to come over and have tea at her Friedman next year. This makes me happy. I don’t see people often enough..

There will be a post about Spring Break plans later this week.

Now i need to go to bed. Wanna meet with Randy before class because i really don’t understand how i’m supposed to do some of this problem set given what we have learned so far.
anime night

(no subject)

Oops, forgot it's Wednesday (the day of the exam) not today that he has special pre-class office hours. Oh well, we'll go over the problem set in class, so i'll understand it by the end of class anyway.

Woke up to it snowing this morning. We all saw this coming since it is New England, but it was still kind of a "huh" moment. It's just enough to cover unpaved surfaces at the moment and i don't particularly expect it to last, though looking at it's apparently supposed to last through tomorrow, with recurrences on Friday and next Wednesday (and snow/rain next Monday). But according to Emma, there was a point last week when they thought it was going to snow all this week, so clearly the weather report is not exactly something to be relied upon (you already knew that, right?).
Giles on a horse, need i say more? [muzakgurrl]

the snow has been falling lightly nearly all day

Bugger. Totally had 7:30 in my head, but book study starts at 7. I stayed about a half an hour afterward talking with Rich-from-Sharon(!) and Edwards-Church-Peter, so that was good. One of these days there will be theology posts again. *sighs*

Got about 75 pages read during work today.
A woman going away with a woman is not so discreditable a thing, surely! and with no view but to avoid the fellows!
LJ has a new human-testing anonymous comments thing and i suggested my father just get an LJ. He says: "That's looking more and more like the thing to do, though I'd have to learn to live with the guilt of not maintaining it sufficiently."

Dinner tonight was some of the best conversations. (Lunch had been lots of fun talk about summer camp and kids’ names. Tiramisu and Abraham [nickname Raham] Cook, anyone?)

Susan had been recently talking to an ex-boyfriend recently. “Is this tomato soup guy?” Annie asked. No, different ex. But of course this means we get the story about tomato soup guy: “You’re like tomato soup. I really like tomato soup, but if I had to have it every day, I would get tired of it. And Chicken Noodle is just throwing herself at me.”

Anyway, so this ex is gonna be moving to San Francisco to be a magician, and he has a website which has a really good picture of him on the front. “So you feel like Chicken Noodle tonight?” “No. Actually i think Chicken Noodle is gay.”

Marian and Jen argued with me about the Midwest vs. New England (because Susan is going to New Orleans over Spring Break and called it a foreign country, because clearly we Yankees have complexes).

I learned (thanks to Marian) that New England actually wasn’t originally part of this continent. The Appalachians are where it slammed into the continent.

Marian, Jen, and i all go back to the Mayflower, so our fathers 20(?) generations back probably knew each other. Weird.

Someone was talking about Micki Glazer and how cute and parental he is and said “He’s like a daddy.” Earlier today i found out about the Dirty!Sexual!kink ficathon, formerly known as the Daddy!kinkathon, so yeah. I mean, she didn't mean it like that at all, i just have a bad brain.

Speaking of, i am refusing to sign up for any more ficathons until i have finished my fic for the one that’s due Wednesday. And susiebabylon will be pleased to know that some of them will involve girlparts.

Oh, and clearly there has already been Wes/Illyria written:
by _green_ and by ascian3 (and probably others i haven’t heard about)

Must study econ now.