Fuch Bush! Ugh!

(I just noticed my typo in the title: I think I’ll leave it)

From the Guardian

The Bush administration was accused yesterday of trying to roll back efforts to improve the status of the world’s women by demanding that the UN publicly renounce abortion rights.

merica’s demand overshadowed the opening yesterday of a conference intended to mark the 10th anniversary of the Beijing conference on the status of women, an event seen as a landmark in efforts to promote global cooperation on women’s equality.

The US stand was also widely seen as further evidence of the sweeping policy change in Washington under the Bush presidency. The last four years have seen a steady erosion of government support for international population projects, due to the administration’s opposition to abortion.

The UN’s commission on the status of women had drafted a brief declaration reaffirming support for the Beijing declaration, and calling for further effort to implement its recommendations.

Organisers had hoped that informal discussions last week would reach a consensus on the draft, leaving the next fortnight clear for government officials and women’s activists to hold more substantive talks on advancing economic equality and political participation, and fighting violence against women.

But those hopes were crushed in a closed-door session late last week when Washington demanded the declaration reaffirm its support for the declarations made in Beijing 10 years ago only if “they do not include the right to abortion”, says a copy of the US text obtained by the Guardian.

Why are feminists so afraid of masculinity?

My discourse on sex and gender, it turns out, is a discourse on power, identity, lineage, paternal right, and patriarchal might. Needless to say, as it moves from procreation without a genitor and without sex, to sex without identity, and from there to sex without procreation, it is also a discourse on anxiety and decay, on faddish medical interventions and on gender-biased philosophical cover-ups, on the disorder that manufactured and fantasized sexual parts create, on the panic that fear of castration and metamorphosis engenders, and on the regulatory regimes of sexuality that are put in place to keep behaviors on track. Thus it is thoroughly and always a discourse on women.

from Valeria Finucci, The Manly Masquerade: Masculinity, Paternity and Castration in the Italian Renaissance, 35-6.

Why can’t a book on masculinity simply be a book on masculinity? I’m okay with the fact that masculinity obviously will have implications on feminimity (and vice-versa for that matter, especially when feminimity is being constructed by men). But if you’re going to write a book on masculinity, why not let masculinity speak for itself? Men are just as entitled to their own history as women are. Neither can be understood in isolation from each other.

One of my big problems, though, with feminist history–at least that I’ve read–is that it tends to focus too much on ‘rescuing’ women’s history from the evil patriarchy of the past in order to assert that women do, indeed, have their own history that is just as valid as the general historical story. No academic worth his or her salt at this point denies this. Women had a specific historical experience that was defined by their gender. Yes. But so did men. Yes, men were the dominant sex, but that doesn’t mean that they weren’t restricted and forced into little socially-constructed costumes, just like women were. Men too, in a lot of ways, were just as much victims of socially-constructed expectations. No doubt it sucked being a woman in the past. It’s difficult to make the argument that it sucked equally as much to be a man since clearly it didn’t, but that doesn’t mean that it was always a walk in the park.

I guess I’m just frustrated because I don’t see how her discourse is ‘thoroughly and always’ on women. I simply do not see that as logically following from what she outlines in this paragraph, or any of what she outlines in rest of her introductory chapter. Why does a book about the social and literary construction of masculinity in the Italian Renaissance have to be, at its base, according to this, a book about women?

Gutter ball mind

*snicker*

Emblems of agressive masculinity, gladiators were thought to be overpowerlingly sexually potent and attractive to women…. Stripped of the social and cultural paraphernalia that give identity and status to most men, the gladiator is naked, defined only by his weapon. He is all sword.

This from an article on the legal position of public performers and prostitutes in ancient Rome.

House guests. Grr.

We have two house guests at the moment. I thought they were coming for the weekend.

They’ve been here all week. They’re the kind of people that just leave things where they land. Oh, I’ll take my jacket off as I come in the door. This spot of floor in everyone’s way looks as good a place to leave it as any. Along with my snowy boots.

They’re playing music right now out in the living room. It sounds pretty good…what I can hear through my own headphones since I didn’t want to wake up the rest of the house with my own music while studying. Which is more than I ought to be able to hear.

Grr.

In other news, both cats are sick now. And I think I’m getting sick too. Blah.

Part of me wants to laugh, part of me wants to do something else

This is actually from an article written at the end of January. I’m a wee bit behind in reading things other than school. Sorry.

The article is an overview of the US economy’s current state and potential crises that it might face in the coming year. It ends with the below two paragraphs.

Part of me wants to laugh because part of me thinks it would be funny to see the US lose its economic hegemony. It’s bound to happen sooner or later, at least at the rate that things are going. I remember my high school history teacher saying how no one wanted to talk about the problems of idebtedness to other nations, that if things kept going the way they were (in the late ’90s) that eventually the US would essentially be owned by other countries. Well, it’s pretty much happened. If China, Japan or Europe decided to pull its backing of US debt, the country would be in serious trouble.

As for the level of debt, I knew that it was at unprecedented levels, but what I didn’t know was that it’s coupled with a zero-level of savings amongst consumers. In other words, the average person in the US is in debt up to his ears, and has virtually no money in the bank.

Now, I’m not economist, but that can’t be a good thing.

Meanwhile, we have Bush telling everyone just to keep spending. Remember how after 9/11–I think it was in his speech to the joint-session of Congress–he told everyone to go out and spend? Essentially pretend that nothing had happened. Initially it was maybe a good thing: keep the economy going. We’ve just been hit with something that potentially could have ground the economy to a halt, so let’s try to keep consumer confedence high. Fair enough.

But then he went and started two wars and started cutting taxes.

So the government kept spending, just like it was telling the rest of the population, but the government was getting less money. So the government has to go further and further into debt, just like the rest of the population.

I know I’m not the only one who thinks that this is obviously a bad idea.

Anyway, these concluding paragraphs are from the section on oil. I think that they speak for themselves. And it’s interesting, given an article that I read not too long ago (although I forget where) that suggested that in the next decade or two, there was a good chance that the world would see the rise of India, Brazil and China as global powers. China is the obvious one, of course, but don’t forget how many people live in India or how much Brazil’s economy has been booming.

The drive for resources is occurring in a world where alliances are shifting among major oil-producing and consuming nations. A kind of post-Cold War global lineup against perceived American hegemony seems to be in the earliest stages of formation, possibly including Brazil, China, India, Iran, Russia and Venezuela. Russian President Putin’s riposte to an American strategy of building up its military presence in some of the former SSRs of the old Soviet Union has been to ally the Russian and Iranian oil industries, organize large-scale joint war games with the Chinese military, and work towards the goal of opening up the shortest, cheapest, and potentially most lucrative new oil route of all, southwards out of the Caspian Sea area to Iran. In the meantime, the European Union is now negotiating to drop its ban on arms shipments to China (much to the publicly expressed chagrin of the Pentagon). Russia has also offered a stake in its recently nationalized Yukos, (a leading, pro-Western Russian oil company forced into bankruptcy by the Putin government) to China.

In a one-superpower world, this is pretty brazen behavior by all concerned, but it is symptomatic of a growing perception of the United States as a declining, overstretched giant, albeit one with the capacity to strike out lethally if wounded. American military and economic dominance may still be the central fact of world affairs, but the limits of this primacy are becoming ever more evident — something reflected in the dollar’s precipitous descent on foreign exchange markets. It all makes for a very challenging backdrop to the rest of 2005. Keep an eye out. Perhaps this will indeed be the year when longstanding problems for the United States finally do boil over, but don’t expect Washington to accept the dispersal of its economic and military power lightly.

Fucking ridiculous

Tom Ridge, former Secretary of Homeland Security, who incited a duct tape and plastic sheeting panic in 2003 joined the board of directors of Home Depot today.

Home Depot, as America’s favourite DIY destination, are a large distributor of…duct tape and plastic sheeting. Maybe it’s just a coincidence. But it’s still fucking ridiculous.