Craigslist – the answer to and cause of all of life’s problems.
I peruse the personals every couple of weeks for feminist inspiration and a nice reminder of why I’m single. I know you think I’m saying that because I’m embarrassed about the fact that I’m actually searching for my discount version of an eHarmony life-mate, or at least a decent screw, but it’s not true.
No, but I’ve gone on CL dates before. After the last time, the one where dude was seriously offended that I made fun of Miami Sound Machine, couldn’t shut the hell up about Romance languages, got super pissed when I beat him at chess, and then bailed on me when I was in the bathroom, I vowed to never ever do it again. And I haven’t. That was at least 4 years ago.
And the next paragraph, shockingly representative of the kinds of ads that get posted in my area, will tell you why I still don’t consider Craigslist valuable for anything other than finding free toasters and getting rid of moving boxes.
I just want to freaking hold you and listen to 80s love songs – 32
I wont choke the s**t out of you if you dont agree with everything I say and think, unless that happens to vibe with your particular fetish needs. I let bit..I mean women, have their own opinions. I think its cute and healthy too. All I can promise you if you answer this ad is your be the most well f**ked woman in the valley. Ill work that clit as if a group of aliens robbed our planet of all the chocolate pudding. Ill serenade you with 80s love songs till you puke. Write me baby.
Okay baby. Ha! Everytime I read that I find something new that makes me chuckle (in that really horrified, profoundly depressing, “Oh My God I Hate Being Straight” kind of way).
The really fucked up thing? I can hear the voice of the guy who wrote that and I’m pretty sure I made out with him last winter. Yeah, I’m totally going to hell.
I can understand the need among the oppressed to reclaim words that dominant groups have historically used to subjugate them. The idea makes sense to me, whether or not it’s a word I would use myself or have any right to use or even have an opinion about.
I really like the word cunt. Yeah, I’d like to reclaim it. I think has a nice ring to it and it seems to describe the anatomy better than any other word I can think of. (Holly wrote the best post I have ever read on the subject here. Give it a read.) And I really resent the idea that a word that was initially intended to describe the female genitalia has become just about worst thing you could call a person. What’s so bad about a cunt, anyway? I rather adore mine, to tell you the truth. It gives me much pleasure and I think it’s kinda cute.
I could talk here about Jane Fonda’s recent media debacle, the one where she uttered what is apparently the most offensive word in the English language on national television and had a major network apologizing on her behalf in about 3 minutes flat, even though she was reciting the title of a feminist monologue she performed and not, in fact, calling Katie Couric a cunt. I could talk about that, but I won’t.
Instead, I’ll talk about the Kings of SF, a group of intelligent, on top of their shit, progressive-minded folks in the San Francisco, a city where the Democratic mayor is on the far, far right of the local political spectrum and the measures that the activist groups manage to get on the ballot every election are some of the most sensible, inclusive, humane, planet-friendly ideas you’ve ever heard of. Seriously, San Francisco progressives know what’s up and they’re working their asses off every day trying to make their City a model for the change that’s possible in the world. Hats off, my friends.
So anyway, these good people put together a blog last November chronicling local progressive events and news and started off their journey with a well-intentioned introduction to what the Kings of SF are all about.
We all are. Guys, girls, women, men, transitioning, questioning. We know the word “king” is tied to gender and patriarchy and power and all of that messy stuff, but that’s not what we’re about. We want to redefine the “king” in “Kings of SF” as an inclusive, progressive compliment that we pay to our friends and mentors and idols. Anyone can be the King of SF. It’s about those “top of the world” moments….
Help us in reclaiming the words “king” and “chivalry.” In modern San Francisco, the idea of reserving these words for a single gender or orientation is so passé. All of us who believe in the idea of San Francisco are kings, and we aim to prove our royalty everyday through our chivalry towards our fellow kings.
…King me, motherfucker.
I understand the sentiment and I applaud the rationale behind it, but I take issue with idea that it’s possible to reclaim a word that has never been used to subjugate the holder of the title. In this case it’s quite the opposite.
From what I understand, reclaiming a word is an attempt to remove its oppressive power by using it in a way that encourages a sense of community instead of hate. What that means to me is that it’s impossible to reclaim a word that was never used to denigrate the object of the insult in the first place.
So aside from all that messy stuff about words that qualify for reclamation and words that don’t, what I think interests me most here is why is the word they chose to reclaim is so damned male. Why not attempt to gender-neutralize a title that describes female leaders? Imagine this:
We want to redefine the “queen” in “Queens of SF” as an inclusive, progressive compliment that we pay to our friends and mentors and idols. Anyone can be the Queen of SF. It’s about those “top of the world” moments….
Yeah, that’ s why. Because titles for women leaders of anything are so rich with femaleness, there’s no way to use them without sounding like a women’s or a gay rights group. I imagine it’s hard to attract a young straight male population to a group whose very title appears to exclude their own demographic (aw, poor dudes), but if you’re gonna get all crazy with this reclaiming shit and you wanna be really progressive, then do something a little different with this. Do something crazy, even.
King? Pfffft. Whatever. Anyone can gender-neutralize a male word. Make your City the only city in the world where a title that has historically described a woman is applied to both men and women, gay and straight, without it being an insult.
Now there’s a challenge. Good luck Kings!
I’m in the kitchen washing dishes (!) and making dinner (!) and my teenager is in the living room watching the TV. A movie promo comes on and I hear these words: (in deep man voice)
“There comes a time in every man’s life when… ”
Take your pick: He must choose between good and evil. He must stand up and be counted. He must learn the meaning of redemption. He feels the need to make a difference in the world. Whatever.
Now let’s imagine for a second that the TV says: (in a woman’s voice, of course)
“There comes a time in every woman’s life when…”
No really, close your eyes and imagine hearing those words, and then try to hear the rest of the sentence.
Sure as shit ain’t you ain’t gonna be hearing the word redemption, I’ll tell you what. Experiences like that are way too human and serious to be the purview of women. No, when we hear this one it’s usually a personal cleansing cloth commercial or a shitty romantic comedy promo and the sentence always ends with something related to a wedding, fine jewelry, someone else’s’ precocious children, giving up a lucrative career, a bad boyfriend, getting old, or body odor.
Women are such funny little creatures, aren’t they? They’re all so exactly alike, so removed from the real business of life, so obsessed with stupid girly things.
(That is, of course, until they realize the important of sacrificing themselves for others and accepting change instead of making it. Duh.)
The bottom line, once again: Women are women and men are human. The male experience is the human experience. The female experience is not only specific to females, it is entirely insignificant.
And here’s what I say to that:
I’m pretty sure I’ve lost a good 97% of any audience I may have once had because of these long absences between posts. I mean really, less than one post per month is not nearly enough to maintain a readership. I know this. (And to those of you who inexplicably keep me on your RSS feeds or come back and check in once in a while to see if I’ve got anything new, a hearty and flattered thank you).
All I can say for myself is that day to day challenges have overwhelmed my ability to form any kind of cohesive argument about the sexist shit I see and hear. There’s a place in between merely surviving and having the luxury of spending hours perfecting a blog post about misogyny. That’s where I’ve been, that middle place. I’m hoping to emerge now.
So, to explain: I’m a 34 year old self-absorbed therapy-loving beer-drinking foul-mouthed smoker with unruly hair and a penchant for reality competition shows on Bravo. When I’m not at work I’m usually at home alone in my pajamas farting and picking my nose. On some weekends, the only time I leave my house is to get cigarettes and a box of macaroni and cheese at 7-11. I’m terrible at keeping in touch with old friends and rarely, if ever, answer my phone when it rings. I often let my kitchen get to the repulsive odor point before I relent and do the dishes. My primary companion over the last 10 years has been an elderly, morbidly obese cat. I am easily annoyed by small children and parents of small children. I do not think I’m a life-giving goddess with some special vagina power and I have absolutely no intention of being a mother.
But. A few months ago I adopted a 14 year old girl who was on a dangerous path and who badly needed a mother-type to take care of her and a safe comfortable home to live in. Of course there’s a whole big story there and I’m not gonna to get into it, but let’s just say my world got all crazy. All the sudden my life wasn’t all about me all the freaking time. All those super secret single behaviors weren’t gonna fly anymore. It was time to start thinking about someone before myself. Yikes.
I found myself with neither the energy nor the time to devote to anything other than the practical and emotional demands of a sexually active, mildly apathetic teenage girl who smokes too much pot and refuses to go to school. Navigating my way around this relationship, constantly worrying about where she is and who she’s with, trying to figure out what to say, being consumed with what I’m doing and not doing and should be doing, cleaning up after her, being stressed about money all the time, cooking real food and doing dishes almost everyday, for chrissake! It’s exhausting and makes me cry kind of a lot.
That’s not to say it’s a bad situation. It’s hard, yes, and I am pushed to previously unknown limits on a daily basis, but it definitely has its odd and unexpected rewards. I love her more than anything. I don’t regret my decision for a second, not one. I know that all is exactly how it should be for reasons I won’t know for a while.
Now we’re in something resembling a routine and are comfortable in our new home. Everything is unpacked and put away. We understand each other better. And now I can breathe a little easier. I think I finally have time to do things for myself again.
So I’m making a commitment to myself to write a post everyday for the next week in order to get back in the practice of of writing and thinking about these things again. It’s not gonna be a series of 4-scroll feminist diatribes, that’s for sure, but I can write something everyday, even if it’s short and weak and doesn’t make that much sense. I can do that. Okay then.