20 July 2009

From apparel to anarchy - fun with web histories

The human mind is such an amazing thing. And I love that search histories give us a way to track a train of thought that can be entertaining, or enlightening, or just embarrassing. (The Onion covered this to great effect some time ago )

This weekend's web history traces how I got from considering what to wear to my brother's wedding to a French anarchist's essay on feminism. Tee hee, so much fun!

Bro and fiancee, aka M&C, are Catholic Workers and they're getting married in October. They are non-violent, prayerful activists; vegan, anti-nuclear, jesus-and-peace-loving anarchists. I'm participating in the ceremony (Egads!), presenting collections during the "offering" portion of the mass. And yes, I'm still an atheist, but blood is thicker than politics, and besides, I still appreciate formal rituals that mark life's major events.

Sister Non-Xtian is doing a post-ceremony wedding bellydance and posted her joy at finding an outfit. Gave me something to consider that hadn't hit me yet - what the heck should I wear? Knowing M&C's lifeview, I'm thinking there's no need to hit Macy's for this event. Hm, but what does one wear to a Catholic anarchists' marriage ritual... I'll ask the internetz! And my Google web history documented my journey.

  • July 18 9:15 pm searched for the bride and groom's webpage - to find their wedding announcement and related history, stories, news of their Catholic Worker House
Hm, Dorothy Day is CW founder...
  • 9:32 pm-image search: Dorothy Day catholic worker - Because what would Dorothy Day wear? (also looked up Emma Goldman, but the thumbnail results showed a rather frumpy woman)
  • 9:59 pm-text search: atheist catholic worker? - Because years ago my brother spoke of his atheist Catholic Worker friend at LACW (which M always said he was going to tell me about the guy sometime, but I don't think he ever did...)
Then something or someone IRL distracted me, so I quit for the night.

Sunday morning, back on it, in between playing with my Superpoke Pet, and messaging niece on facebook (and boy am I self-censoring wall posts; she's only 11!!)

Web search highlights:
  • 9:15 am-image search: women's dress 1920s
  • 11:50 am-image search:anarchist woman - jackpot! Found the pictures womans-militia gif, Nancy_Cunard.jpg, song.jpg. The image "song.jpg" illustrates "Gynocracy Song" by Annie LeBrun - which, loving that title, I save to read later.
I searched for some more fashion, culminating in:
So while my dress problem is not solved, all this searching did lead me to form a plan that pleases me and fits the spirit of M&C's lifestyle and lives - I'm going to shop at the Goodwill, find me a cloche hat, and build my wedding outfit around the hat, using only reused clothing.

Mission sort-of accomplished, I could return to the anarchy. I copied it in W0rd (to reformat margins & shrink font for paper-savings [no, did not read online, because laptops are inconvenient if not absolutely dangerous for bathtub reading]). The essay was from a revised translation by Michael William, with a sometimes convoluted intro by Wolfi Landstreicher.

It did make for a tough read on a lazy Sunday afternoon, hence necessitating the focus and concentration only provided by isolation in a tepid bath. But, wow. Anarchist women are hard core. LeBrun even bagged on Simone de Beauvoir. As I understand it, her core criticism is that, unlike the example of Emma Goldman who was for "women's liberation" as a movement toward *all* persons' liberation, "feminism" (now "neofeminism") is dismissed as merely directly substituting men with privileged women in the patriarchal system. In other words, neofeminists want to take over the man's role in the power structure, as opposed to eliminating that structure altogether to provide for true equality among all peoples. I did find some of her arguments persuasive, especially when she addresses the treatment of prostitutes by some feminists. As stated elsewhere, I'm not a sex worker but I am very supportive of sex worker rights (heck, all workers rights). LeBrun calls out the feminists who dismiss SW voices by treating all SWs as deluded victims.

I haven't found the essay's date of publishing, but it seems to be the 70s (& according to the translator, abortion was still illegal in France at the time of publication; it became provisionally available in '75 and legal in '79).

So hey, go get yourself some anarchy for a change. Next on my reading list "Why Work?" Personally, I'm not interested in abolishing work by way of being an anarchist. I'm a hedonist who doesn't mind earning labor-based wages to my support habits and hobbies. It's just, you know, why do the dishes or clean the litterbox when I could be, uh, educating myself on a new perspective toward work, right?

03 July 2009

She lives!

[Warning: um, I'm gonna talk about menopause and menarche - if you don't know (or want to know) what either of those are, or faint when women talk openly about bleeding like a stuck pig, stop reading now.]

I live! and boy, how do I know I'm alive? I'm blogging at 3:30 on a Friday morning, after ~4 hours sleep. Oh, wait, that's how I know I'm going through "the change." I'm only 46, as of last month, but I've been dealing with perimenopause for some time. The hot flashes and night sweats started over a year ago. At least I thought they were hot flashes and night sweats. Now I think they were visits from a happy fairy who'd been doing cardio, hugged me too closely for a few moments, then left. Because now, I have my own blast furnace and no thermostat, no one stopping the fueling of the fire. Hot, hot, hot, sweat, cold. Off and on, all day. And night. And sometimes, my eyes pop open when all others are dead to the world, and the body says, "Hey, you know what would be funny? If we wake up so we can experience this biological wonder in a conscious state. You can handle it, come on...."

So here I am. And I guess that intro provides a disclaimer source: blogging at this hour may lead to sub-par quality (you wouldn't believe how long it took me to type that sentence, either). But fuck it, I'm in the moood.

The menarche part of this - my 11 1/2-year-old niece became a woman yesterday. Heyyyyy - it just hit me - if menarche means she's becoming a women, does menopause mean I'm de-womaning? Oh, wait, I still have my womanly bits and gender identity intact, so I guess not. I was around 14 when I "got mine"; 11 seems so young. Sister and I spoke all-too-briefly about it when she announced the news. Sister reassures me that menarche at 11 is not unusual these days, and Niece was advanced a grade some years ago (not to mention she has remarkably attentive, communicative parents), so mentally Niece was already way ahead of where I was at 11.

Sister wants to have a rite of passage for Niece to mark the occasion, but not necessarily a religious one. Google found me lots of "woman's 'first moon' " blather, based on goddess worship. Wouldn't forward that even if I thought she were interested. But she could have a menarche party, thanks to Menarche Parties R Us; looks like all the hips girls are doing it.

I'll tell you what "rite" Niece won't have: facing our Dad (her Papa) and his attempt to show love and support and wonder, which is really embarrassing for the new woman. Although I remember more of Mom's emotion than Dad's at the actual announcement. Oh, and how awkward those belts were (kids today have NO idea, but yes, in 1976-77, we still used pads with belts).

My favorite Dad + period story came out of a battle of wills: Sometime during that first or second year after, uh, onset, Dad invited a family over for a barbecue. He was friends with the parent(s), and they had a couple boys who were my age or younger. Part of my responsibility as oldest daughter was to take charge of my siblings (i.e. keep them out of adult view) AND to entertain these unknown kids. I was a hostess to the next generation. Entertaining included swimming, a pool being great for keeping kids out of adults' hair. BUT, I was on the rag, and had not yet braved the world of tampons. AND, I was going through a really shy time anyways, and didn't want to have to deal with strange kids. I just wanted to hide in my room and read and listen to records. Dad wouldn't let me get away with any abdication of my responsibilities, especially with my weak excuse that I was bleeding and would leak in the pool. Although I probably worded that differently at the time.

As happened quite a lot back then, we argued. I thought I would win by whining, "But I haven't used [a tampon], I don't know what to do!" Dad won the argument by telling me something to the effect of, "You go into that bathroom with your mother and have her show you how to use one, then you come out here and be part of the family and entertain those boys.... It's your responsibility!" I think he also threw in some "some stop making excuses... stop whining... grow up...." Funnily enough, I don't remember being embarrassed as much as being so mad at him for catching on that I really just wanted to get out of having to be around people I didn't know. Tampons were just slightly intimidating (you know, based on rumors at school, like you won't be a virgin anymore, they can get stuck, etc.). I think I even lied about having cramps, shame on me. But Dad was the boss, so I plugged it up and put on a happy hostess face. And spent the rest of the day burning with that glorious teen-aged resentment that is the source of much melodramatic passion and bad poetry. Grrr. Authority had won once again.

And that's why I now hate men.