Saturday, September 26, 2009

Lust and humanity

I found this post by Hugo Schwyzer--- who gave a workshop at Brown University's "Consent Day" and would like to applaud the work that he's doing on college campuses particularly in light of the recent Hofstra Rape Scandal. Many of my male readers took offense to my post on this topic--- and I quote Mr. Schwyzer to acknowledge the complexity of the issue:

"We talked at length about the familiar but still-powerful compartmentalization phenomenon, one in which “good guys”, those who strive to do justice with their lives and with their bodies, live a separate, secretive sexual life (usually involving pornography) that seems, at least to the guys themselves, to be something profoundly shameful. Timothy Beneke’s Men on Rape is now out of print, but one of the many memorable lines within that invaluable text is this: “I’m not aware of any common English phrases that allow one to express sexual desire in a way that acknowledges both lust and humanity."


Say hello

Say hello to Cunt Deluxe. You know who she is. She's a woman in a position of power who likes to throw her weight around when dealing with other women. She likes you to know that she has control over your pretty life. She's overweight, still wears polyester pants suits, gold button earrings and hates your cowboy boots and your MAC make-up. She wants you to know that she doesn't care that you're smart, attractive--- you represent a threat to her because you are different. Maybe you write books, maybe you paint, sculpt, dance; but you don't follow the old rules anymore and she hates that!

She'll bury you with you jargon, rules, regulations which she can quote verbatim, when scolding you. These are the worst type of women--- women who hate other women, who want nothing more than to crush you, flatten you into subservience, mold you in their image, so you lose your magic, your vitality, your spirit. Forget the witches of mythology and fairy-tales. I'll take Hecate any day over a woman like this--- these are the people who rule by fear, who get their sense of worth by how small they can make you feel.

Give me the Wicked Stepmother conniving to kill her daughter, give me Medusa who can turn a man to stone, give me Medea who slaughtered her children, give me Lilith, Salome, or even Lizzie Borden--- just keep me safe from Cunt Deluxe, and I will be eternally grateful.

Cougar has jumped the shark

I'm happy to report that the word "cougar" has officially jumped the shark. The new TV series Cougar Town premiered on Thursday night with Courtney Cox. Cringe Fest! Let us all officially bury the word in a very deep grave where it belongs. It was always sexist. It was always insulting--- buried beneath its oh so hip veneer it suggested a carnivorous woman just waiting to devour her unsuspecting prey.

I used to date younger men. I did it because it was easier. Single men my age were trouble; wanted me to be the "little woman," wanted to know why I didn't cook, why I didn't have children, why I wasn't dying to marry them. Duh! Once a press release for a reading billed me as "the man-eater" and I thought what the f--k does that mean, and where did they get that information? Because I wrote about sex? Because I wasn't embarrassed to use words like cock, pussy, fuck, dick, tits?

I got stuck with "cougar" attached to me like a target. Some thought it was flattering, I knew it wasn't. I chafed and squirmed, aware of the sub-text. Courtney Cox--- get out while you still have time. Help us bury the stereotype and while we're at it, let's bury the dumb blonde as well.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Why do you love the devil?

Posted by Deeky, 9/22/09 on Shakespeare's Sister.

Sign me up! I'm happy to repent and believe in Jesus. I'm tired of my feminist, democratic, liberal, new age, Buddhist lying ways. I'm ready to see the light. Help me Jesus. Don't hate me no mo. In addition, i'm ready to learn how to speell.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Go get your own blog, bitch

As a coda to my post on the Hofstra Gang Rape Story, Michael Daly in the Daily News writes:
"If these five guys have no sense of shame, they should at least shut up. No young woman would consent to having sex with five guys in a bathroom unless she was seriously troubled...if they did not understand she has psychological problems, they certainly should was not so much a matter of consent as descent...these five may not be guilty, but that does not make them innocent."
Thank God. I am grateful that Mr. Daly is trying to get these guys to to stop complaining about how their reputation is forever tarnished. This doesn't condone false accusations but it does speak volumes about how the objectification of women harms both sexes.

Also I've been the recipient of several vitriolic comments from Anonymous--- especially regarding this issue. While I welcome opposing opinions, these posts are so full of hatred that they really defeat the purpose of an open exchange of ideas particularly since this particular person continues to hide his/her real identity. There is plenty of room for all us on the web, and since you are so convinced that I am an arrogant asshole, witch, bitch, slut, whatever--- may I kindly suggest you take your business and comments elsewhere-- I will no longer publish them or even read them.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Not the glass slipper

This is my new hair-do, compliments of my niece. I'm proud of her dedication to her education and training. I think its important that young women recognize that the first freedom for women is economic. I wish someone would've told me that when I was growing up. And its certainly the advice that I would give to anyone who might ask me. Economic freedom and an education. These are the two most important elements in a woman's life. Not the Cinderella wedding. Not the Prince, not the glass slipper. True love, true romance, in my experience, comprise several chapters in a woman's life, it's certainly not the entire book.

No, that's impossible

In the Hofstra Gang Rape Story, I find it very hard to believe that, according to the New York Post, 18 year old Danmell Ndonye, "exceptionally intelligent and quiet...[who] had gone to a private high school on scholarship," and who according to Antionette Perez, a retired NYPD civilian employee is, "a nice innocent, well bred, shy girl," would consent to have sex with not one, not two, not three, not four, but five men. There is something missing here. There is something that doesn't make sense.

I teach 18 year old young women. Some of them, like Ms. Ndonye, are recent immigrants from Africa--- and I may be guilty of over generalizing here--- but in my eight years of experience, that's 16 semesters, these women come from devout homes, from good families, and they are indeed polite, well-mannered, quiet and hard working; sweet and kind almost to a fault. I cannot fathom a young girl, kissing a man on the dance floor, the man saying "I have friends here with me," and the girl replying, "Bring them along. It'll be hot." And then having sex with five strange men in a bathroom.

It's not the first time a woman has retracted rape allegations. Most of the time a woman's change of heart is tied up with the thought of public humiliation added on to the private horror. It certainly doesn't mean these men are innocent. In fact it galls me to see their beleaguered expressions in the paper, their statement, "My name is forever tarnished. I'll always have to explain it." You're damn right you will. Whatever happened in that bathroom was not innocent, and I highly doubt it was 100% consensual. If anything its that gray area --- the ambiguous and highly charged landscape of date rape.

Camille Paglia claims that women ought to recognize and respect that men are beasts and women need to behave accordingly. Don't go to frat parties, get dead drunk and allow yourself to become a victim. Part of me agrees with this--- but part of me says, what about the young men who are growing up with a sense of entitlement and with no respect for women? I don't think these young men are degenerates who deserve to spend the rest of their lives in jail. But surely some punishment is in order. As I said, date rape is hard to categorize, and I'm sure that much more difficult to prosecute. But ask me to believe that an 18 year old honor student, characterized as "brilliant" and "polite" would agree to have sex with five men? No, that's impossible.

I can't be the only person who finds this hard to believe. I can't be the only person who knows that her side of the story is missing from the equation.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Scenes from East 164th Street

East 164th Street, early Wednesday morning, on my way to a meeting. Clambered down the steep steps from Yankee Stadium, walked underneath the shadow of the 4 train. Turned right and surprised to discover this quiet pocket of trees and grass in the Bronx. Not the old school Boogie Down but a green urban oasis with friendly faces.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Boroughing Brooklyn likes my work

Many thanks to Boroughing Brooklyn for reposting my piece on P.S. Bookshop, All things literary, on their site:

About Brooklyn The Borough--- You may have noticed lately that Brooklyn has become a vital conduit to innovative American culture. Brooklyn The Borough aims to capture the stories behind that culture, and bring you informative, contextual reporting from the cutting edge. Conceived from a weekly New York Observer column by Nicole Brydson, Brooklyn The Borough is independently owned and dedicated to covering Brooklyn’s cultural zeitgeist. Our contributors are local residents who want to share their ideas.

Brooklyn The Borough is an innovative news website, melding the sensibilities of literary print journalism with the digital platform in a magazine feature format. This approach to local reporting is unique to Brooklyn’s internet landscape and intends to shed light on the borough’s subterranean cultural movements in fashion, music and art. Contextualizing the borough’s political and sociological landscapes is key to this website’s mission. Please follow us on Twitter!

Behold the crowd at the Main Stage in Borough Hall Plaza

Here we all are--- awaiting our taste of Brooklyn literature at noon on Sunday. My suggestions for next year; more kiosks selling iced coffee, beer, hot dogs, pretzels, please don't let Starbucks be the only game in town, and also how about a street dance held in the plaza at the end of the day. No more symposiums on contemporary Russian literature at one in the afternoon when its 90 degrees. Even if its Francine Prose reading from an anthology that she edited, its impressive, don't get me wrong, but how can you pay attention with the noise of the streets, the sirens, the dogs barking and the multitudes threading to and fro throughout the plaza?

On the plus side, Brooklyn has been compared to Paris in the 1920's, the Left Bank--- for the proliferation of writers, bloggers, and indie houses that have bloomed like geraniums in flower boxes on the brownstones. It's good to be here, folks, it's good to be in Brooklyn. Love it. Love it.

The arrival of a new Torah at the Brooklyn Book Festival

The lecture on romance novels at the Main Stage in Borough Hall Plaza was just finishing up--- mostly I was annoyed by the three women authors, mostly they tried to defend their genre, mostly by saying how much money it generated for publishing, 1.7 billion, and I thought, yes but you are perpetuating a stereotype that the woman's journey ends when she gets the man, and pornography makes billions as well so how is that justification, when all of a sudden I heard singing as a new Torah arrived for a Brooklyn synagogue. It was pretty flashy, fun, and everyone was dancing around the plaza.

On my way to the Brooklyn Book Festival Gala

It was a fine night in Brooklyn, Saturday. On my way to schmooze with the literati, to drink cocktails and chat up old friends. Edwidge Danticat took the stage at St. Francis College to accept her award in a tasteful purple dress while her adorable children frolicked in the auditorium. After the awards ceremony, we went to the party in the the school cafeteria--- a bit too bright for my taste, I said to my friend Deirdre, this is not a high school dance. She replied and it's not a senior citizen event, but the drinks were free and food was divine. It was hot as shit in there, but still had a great time. Got home at ten, went to bed at midnight and then up again, to attend the festival. A bit hung over, but I've been a good girl for a long time now; working my ass off in a new job, so I needed a night out.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

The great work continues

The great work continues. The great excavation. My own hegira of transformation from a very fucked up little girl to the woman I am today. My grandmother gave me the Five Year Diary in 1968. It was already old; the calendar begins in 1950. The text reads:

The mind is a wonderful machine. It need but be just refreshed and incidents can again be revived in their former clarity. A line each day whether it be of the weather or of more important substances, will in time to come bring back those vague memories worth remembering to almost actual reality.


It begins on March 19, 1968. I introduce myself: "I'm eleven years old, born 1956, July 7. My mother was married for five years and divorced my father. He then entered the army, under my second father, she had two children. I only see my real father once every two years. He always comes back on Easter."

Note that my father is resurrected, in my life, so to speak, on Easter. Very poetic. And thus begins my life in letters. The second diary begins on November 2, 1970, and the third, given to me by my sister, begins May 5, 1973, the day after my prom. From that point on, I've always kept a diary, a journal, and now a blog. I like the continuity. I like being able to trace the course of my life.

I'm not sure why, now, I feel compelled to unearth of all this. Part of it again is practical. I've kept the notebooks, the journals and the completed manuscripts but have jettisoned everything else. My infamous collection of archives is now a streamlined, lean, mean thinking machine. I may be moving, I may not be moving. But in any event, I feel much of the depression lifting as I sort through, read, label and consolidate my existence. My voice.

Nothing can keep me quiet now.

And now for something absolutely gorgeous

My nephew, Ben.

All things literary

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I'm a very unhappy very arrogant bitch who no one loves

I've received several comments on a post I wrote last January 6th Coming home all drunk and slutty--- about a high profile politician, Sen. Hiram Monserrate, who cut up his girlfriend's face in a jealous rage. This person challenged me to publish them, and I certainly did. This person attacked my politics, which is fine, but also attacked me personally, which is infantile:

I'll bet you are a very unhappy very arrogant bitch who no one loves.

Still, though, I would like to thank you. Yes. You read that right. I am grateful. You are the reason I keep this blog. It is virtually impossible to go an entire week without reading about a woman who's been murdered by a man "who loves her." And if you want to get all international about it, it's virtually impossible to go an entire week without reading about a woman or women who are being raped--- spoils of war and all that.

It's also virtually impossible to go an entire week without someone invoking that tired old stereotype, "arrogant bitch" about smart women who seek to have a voice in this world. I've said this before and I'll say it again, I am grateful that I live in the 21st century where the opportunities for women to have a voice are legion.

We've not even begun to approach parity in terms of economic gains or political power, but at least the days when we would be burned at the stake as witches are long gone. So here's to you anonymous person:

Thanks for giving me the juice to continue my work.

Friday, September 4, 2009

The whores, the sluts, the madwomen, the wives and the mistresses

I'm really f---king cranky. I wrote a post, then deleted it. Paranoid. The all pervasive public eye of the world wide web (which I mostly pursue) can have its downside. All this has to do with a new job and a whole new set of guidelines (restrictions) that accompany it. I have to work harder to live in the world as it is--- as opposed to how I think it should be. Grrrrrr. Feels like I have a gag over my mouth. I don't like it. It makes me crazy. But don't feel at this point like I have a choice.

Moving on to other topics:

I'm glad that Ashley Dupree has had her say in the media. She is not as the press has labeled her, the woman who brought the governor down. He did that all on his own. In my own personal brand of feminism, which I feel free to create as I see fit, women who sell their bodies for sex are all right in my book. Feminism has to work harder to be more inclusive. Camille Paglia made this point about Sarah Palin, and as much as I hate to agree with her, I do.

I read How to Make Love Like a Porn Star by Jenna Jameson and I admire her. I didn't at first. She's all sex all the time, 24 hr, 7 days wk. She's found her niche in the world and makes no apologies. I respect the fact that being gang-raped didn't destroy her, and that fact alone is amazing. She runs her own company and makes her own rules. Good for her. Since the porn industry exploded into the public consciousness in the 1970's women indeed have come a long way baby.

Feminism must include the whores, the sluts, the academics, the poets, the madwomen, the wives, the mistresses, the gold-diggers even the bureaucrats who hate other women, or it simply will not survive in any viable way in the future. It will become an outdated, ill-fated once brilliant and beautiful idea now tarnished by its own dogmatism.